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Full text of "Beside still waters"

65-6^ 
1967 



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Cornell University Library 
PR 4099.B5B5 1907 



Beside still waters, 




3 1924 013 213 321 




The original of tliis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31 92401 321 3321 



BY 

ARTHUR C. BENSON 

FELLOW OF MAGDALENE COLLEGE 
CAMBRIDGE 

THE UPTON LETTERS 

FROM A COLLEGE 
WINDOW 

BESIDE STILL WATERS 



BESIDE STILL WATERS 



BESIDE 
STILL WATERS 

By 

ARTHUR CHRISTOPHER BENSON 
Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge 



"/ will run the way of Thy commandments; 
when Thou hast set my heart at liberty." 



0. p. PUTNAM'S SONS 

NEW YORK SND LONDON 

tibe ftnicherbocftec press 

1Q07 



H 









^•z1^ iiii. 

Copyright, 1907 

BY 

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 



Beside Still Waters 



Hugh Neville was fond of tender and mi- 
nute retrospect, and often indulged himself, in 
lonely hours, with the meditative pleasures of 
memory. To look back into the old years was 
to him like gazing into a misty place, with sud- 
den and bright glimpses, and then the cloud 
closed in again ; but it was not only with his 
own life that he concerned himself ; he liked 
to trace in fancy his father's eager boyhood, 
brought up as he had been in a great manufac- 
turing town, by a mother of straitened means, 
who yet maintained, among all her restrictions, 
a careful tradition of gentle blood and honour- 
able descent. The children of that household 
had been nurtured with no luxuries and few 
enjoyments. Every pound of the small income 
had had its appointed use ; but being, as they 
were, ardent, emotional natures, they had con- 
trived to extract the best kind of pleasure out 



2 Beside Still Waters 

of books, art, and. music ; and the only trace 
that survived in Hugh's father of the old nar- 
row days, was a deep-seated hatred of waste- 
fulness and luxury, which, in a man of generous 
nature, produced certain anomalies, hard for his 
children, living in comparative wealth and ease, 
to interpret. His father, the boy observed, was 
liberal to a fault in large matters, but scrupu- 
lously and needlessly particular about small ex- 
penses. He would take the children on a foreign 
tour, and then practise an elaborate species 
of discomfort, in an earnest endeavour to save 
some minute disbursements. He would give his 
son a magnificent book, and chide him because 
he cut, instead of untying, the string of the par- 
cel. Long after, theboy,disentanglinghisfather's 
early life in diaries and letters, would wish, with 
a wistful regret, that he had only had the clue to 
this earlier; he would have sympathised, he 
thought, with the idea that lay beneath the little 
economies, instead of fretting over them, and 
discussing them rebelliously with his sisters. 
His father was a man of almost passionate af- 
fections ; there was nothing in the world that he 
more desired than the company and the sym- 
pathy of his children ; but he had, besides this, 
an intense and tremulous sense of responsi- 
bility towards them. He attached an undue 
importance to small indications of character; 



The Family 3 

and thus the children were seldom at ease with 
their father, because he rebuked them con- 
stantly, and found frequent fault, doing almost 
violence to his tenderness, not from any pleas- 
ure in censoriousness, but from a terror, that 
was almost morbid, of the consequences of the 
unchecked development of minute tendencies. 
Hugh's mother was of a very different dispo- 
sition ; she was fully as affectionate as his father, 
but of a brighter, livelier, more facile nature ; 
she came of a wealthy family, and had never 
known the hard discipline from which his father 
had suffered. She was a good many years 
younger than her husband ; they were united 
by the intensest affection; but while she de- 
voted herself to him with a perfect understand- 
ing of, and sympathy with, his somewhat jealous 
and puritanical nature, she did not escape the 
severity of his sense of responsibility, and his 
natural instinct for attempting to draw those 
nearest to him into the circle of his high, if rigid, 
standards. Long afterwards, Hugh grew to 
discern a greater largeness and liberality in her 
methods of dealing with life and other natures 
than his father had displayed ; and no shadow 
of any kind had ever clouded his love and ad- 
miration for his mother ; his love indeed could 
not have deepened ; but he came gradually to 
discern the sweet and patient wisdom which, 



4 Beside Still Waters 

after many sorrows, nobly felt and ardently en- 
dured, filled and guided her large and loving 
heart. 

His father, after a highly distinguished aca- 
demical career, entered the Church ; and at the 
time of Hugh's birth he held an important coun- 
try living, together with one of the Archdeacon- 
ries of the diocese. 

Hugh was the eldest child. Two other child- 
ren, both sisters, were born into the household. 
Hugh in later days loved to trace in family pa- 
pers the full and vivid life which had surrounded 
his unconscious self. His mother had been 
married young, and was scarcely more than a 
girl when he was born ; his father was already 
a man grave beyond his years, full of affairs, 
and constantly occupied. But his melancholy 
moods, and they were many, had drawn him to 
value with a pathetic intentness the quiet family 
life. Hugh could trace in old diaries the days 
his father and mother had spent, the walks they 
had taken, the books they had read together. 
There seemed for him to brood over those days, 
in imagination, a sort of singular brightness. 
He always thought of the old life as going on 
somewhere, behind the pine woods, if he could 
only find it. He could never feel of it as 
wholly past, but rather as possessing the living 
force of some romantic book, into the atmos- 



The Scene 5 

phere of which it was possible to plunge at 
will. 

And then his own life ; how vivid and delicate 
the perceptions were ! Looking back, it always 
seemed to be summer in those days. He could 
remember the grassy walks of the pleasant gar- 
den, which wound among the shrubberies ; the 
old-fashioned flowers, sweet-williams and Can- 
terbury-bells, that filled the deep borders ; the 
rose-garden, with the pointed white buds, or 
the large pink roses, full of scent, that would 
fall at a touch and leave nothing but an orange- 
seeded stump. But there had been no thought 
of pathos to him in those years, as there came 
to be afterwards, in the fading of sweet things ; 
it was all curious, delightful, strange. The im- 
pressions of sense were tyrannously strong, so 
that there was hardly room for reflection or 
imagination ; there was the huge chestnut cov- 
ered with white spires, that sent out so heavy 
a fragrance in the spring that it was at last cut 
down ; but the felling of the tree was a mere 
delightful excitement, not a thing to be grieved 
over. The country was very wild all round, 
with tracts of heath and sand. The melodious 
buzzing of nightjars in hot mid-summer even- 
ings, as they swept softly along the heather, 
lived constantly in his memory. In the moor- 
land, half a mile away, stood some brick-kilns. 



6 Beside Still Waters 

strange plastered cones, with blackened tops, 
from which oozed a pungent smoke ; those were 
too terrible to be visited alone ; but as he walked 
past with his nurse, it was delightful and yet 
appalling to look into the door of the kiln, and 
see its fiery, glowing heart. Two things in par- 
ticular the boy grew to love ; one was the sight 
of water in all its forms ; a streamlet near the 
house trickled out of a bog, full of cotton-grass ; 
there were curious plants to be found here, a 
low pink marsh-bugle, and the sundew, with its 
strange, viscid red hands extended ; the stream 
passed by clear dark pools to a lake among the 
pines, and fell at the farther end down a steep 
cascade ; the dark gliding water, the mysterious 
things that grew beneath, the fish that paused 
for an instant and were gone, had all a deep 
fascination for the boy, speaking, as they 
seemed to do, of a world near and yet how far 
removed from his own ! 

And then still more wonderingly, with a kind 
of interfusion of terror and mystery, did he love 
the woodlands of that forest country. To steal 
along the edge of the covert, with the trees knee- 
deep in fern, to hear the flies hum angrily with- 
in, to find the glade in spring carpeted with 
blue-bells — all these sights and sounds took hold 
of his childish heart with a deep passion that 
never left him. 



Environment 7 

All this life was, in memory, as I have said, 
a series of vignettes and pictures ; the little 
dramas of the nursery, the fire that glowed in 
the grate, the savour of the fresh-cut bread at 
meal-times, the games on wet afternoons, with 
a tent made out of shawls and chairs, or a fort 
built of bricks ; these were the pictures that 
visited Hugh in after days, small concrete things 
and sensations ; he could trace, he often thought, 
in later years, that his early life had been one 
more of perception than anything else ; sights 
and sounds and scents had filled his mind, to 
the exclusion of almost all beside. He could 
remember little of his relations with those about 
him ; the figures of the family and servants 
were accepted as all part of the environment. 
The only very real figure was the old nurse, 
whose rare displeasure he had sorrowed over 
more than anything else in the world, and 
whose chance words, uttered to another servant 
and overheard by the child, that she was think- 
ing of leaving them, had given him a deeper 
throb of emotion than anything he had before 
known, or was for many years to know. 

But the time for the eager and romantic asso- 
ciation with other people, which was to play so 
large a part in Hugh's life, was not yet come. 
People had to be taken as they came, and their 
value depended entirely upon their kindness or 



8 Beside Still Waters 

unkindness. There was no sense of gratitude 
as yet, or desire to win affection. If they were 
kind, they were unthinkingly and instinctively 
liked. If they thwarted or interfered with the 
child's little theory of existence, his chosen 
amusements, his hours of leisure, his loved pur- 
suits, they were simply obstacles around which 
his tiny stream of life must find its way as it 
best could. 

There was indeed one other chief delight for 
the child : the ordered services of the Church 
hard by the house. He loved with all his heart 
the fallen day, the pillared vault, the high dusty 
cornices, the venerable scent ; and the services, 
with their music solemn and sweet, the pos- 
tures of the ministers, the faces, clothes, and 
habits of the congregation — all was a delightful 
field of pleasing experience. Yet religion was 
a wholly unreal thing to the child. He learned 
his Bible lessons and psalms ; he knew the lit- 
urgy by heart ; but the religious idea, the 
thought of God, the Christian life of effort, 
were all things that he merely accepted as so 
many facts that were taught him, but without 
the least interest in them, or even the shadow- 
iest attempt to apply them to his own life. It 
seemed strange to Hugh when, in years long 
after, religion came to have so deep a meaning 
to him, that it should have been so entirely 



Childhood 9 

a blank to him in the early days. God was no 
more to him than a far-off monarch ; a mighty 
and shadowy person, very remote and power- 
ful, but the circle of whose influence never 
touched his own. And yet one of the deepest 
desires of his father's mind had been to bring 
a sense of religion home to his children. Hugh 
used to wonder how he had missed it ; but the 
practical application of religion, to which the 
Bible lessons had led up, had been to the child 
a mere relief from the tension of thought, 
because at last he had escaped from the material 
teaching about which he might be questioned, 
and which he would be expected to remember. 
Personal relations, then, had scarcely existed 
for Hugh as a child. Older and bigger people, 
armed with a vague authority, had to be 
obeyed, and the boy had no theory which could 
account for their inconsequent behaviour ; they 
were amiable or ill-humoured, just or unjust ; 
he never attempted to criticise or condemn 
them by a moral standard ; he simply accepted 
them as they were, and kept as much as possi- 
ble out of the way of those who manifested 
sharpness or indifference. With children of his 
own age it was in many ways the same, though 
there seemed to the boy to be more hope of 
influencing their behaviour; threats, anger, 
promises, compliance could be applied ; but of 



lo Beside Still Waters 

the affection that simply desired to please the 
object of its love, the boy knew nothing. 
Once or twice he went away from home on 
a visit, and because he wept on his depart- 
ure, he was supposed to have a tender and 
emotional nature; it was not tenderness, at 
least not tenderness for others, that made 
him weep. It was partly the terror of the 
unknown and the unfamiliar; it was partly 
the interruption to the even tenor of his life 
and the customary engagements of his day ; 
and in this respect the boy had what may 
be called a middled-aged temperament, an 
intense dislike of any interference with his 
own ways; he had no enterprise, none of the 
high-hearted enjoyment of novelty, unless he 
was surrounded by a bulwark of familiar 
personalities; but partly, too, his love was 
all given to inanimate things; and as he 
drove out of the gate on one of these visits, 
the thought that the larches of the copse 
should be putting out their rosy buds, the 
rhododendrons thrusting out their gummy, 
spiky cases, the stream passing slowly through 
its deep pools, the beehive in the little birch 
avenue beginning to wake to life, and that 
he should not be there to go his accus- 
tomed rounds, and explore all the minute 
events of his dear domain — it was this that 



Childhood 1 1 

brought out the tears afresh, with a bitter, 
uncomforted sense of loss and bereavement. 
So the early years passed for the boy, in a 
dream full to the brim of small wonders and 
fragrant mysteries. How pleasant it was to 
sink to sleep on summer evenings with the 
imagination of voyaging all night in a little 
boat or carriage ; how delightful to wake, with 
the morning sun streaming in at the window, 
to hear the casement ivy tap on the pane, and 
to rehearse in the mind all the tiny pleasures of 
the long day! His short lessons were easy 
enough for the boy ; he was quick and acute, 
and had a good memory; but he took not the 
smallest interest in them, except the interest 
of making a situation go smoothly ; the only 
interest was in the thought of the unmolested 
lonely play that was to follow. He cared 
little for games, though they had a certain 
bitter excitement, the desire of emulation, the 
joy of triumph about them. He loved best 
an aimless wending from haunt to haunt, an 
accumulation of small treasures in places un- 
known to others ; and, most of all, the rich 
sense of observation of a hundred curious and 
delicate things ; the nests of birds in the shrub- 
bery, the glossy cones of the young pines, the 
green, uncurling fingers of the bracken, the 
fresh green sword-grass that grew beneath 



12 Beside Still Waters 

the firs; he did not care to know the 
nature of the reasons of these things; it 
was enough simply to see them, to explore 
them with restless fingers, to recognise 
their scents, hues, and savours, with the 
sharp and unblunted perceptions of child- 
hood. 

Then came the intellectual awakening. 
Hugh's mother, who had an extraordinary gift 
for improvisation, began to tell the children 
stories in the nursery evenings ; and these tales 
of giants and fairies grew to have an extreme 
fascination for the child ; not that he peopled 
his own world with them, as some imaginative 
children do ; the boy's perceptions were too 
definite for that ; such beings belonged to a dif- 
ferent region ; he had no idea that they existed 
or had ever existed. They belonged to the 
story world, which was associated in his mind 
with bright fires and toys put away, when 
he nestled as close as he could to his mother's 
knee, with her hand in both his own, explor- 
ing every ring and every finger, till he could 
recall, many years after, each turn and curve, 
and even each finger-nail of those dear hands. 
And then at last came the supremest joy of 
all ; the children used to be summoned down 
to their mother's room, and she began to read 
aloud Ivanhoe to them ; and then indeed a new 



Books 13 

world, a world that had really existed sprang 
to light. 

Hugh used to wonder afterwards how much 
he had really understood of what was read; but 
the whole thing seemed absolutely alive to him ; 
his pictorial fancy came into play, and the de- 
tails of woods and heaths that he knew so well 
began to serve him in good stead ; and then the 
child, who had before thought of reading as 
merely a tiresome art that he was forced to 
practise, found that it was the key that admit- 
ted him into this wonderful world. It did not 
indeed destroy his relish for the outer world of 
nature, for at all hours of the day, when it was 
possible to slip out of doors, he went his soli- 
tary way, looking, looking ; until every tree and 
flower-border and thicket of the small domain 
became so sharply imprinted upon the mind 
that, years after, he could walk in memory 
through the sunny garden, and recall the 
minutest details with an astonishing accuracy. 
But books became for the child a large part 
of his life. It was a story that he desired, some- 
thing that should create a scene for him, person- 
alities like or unlike his own, whose deeds and 
words he could survey, leaning, so it seemed to 
him, from a magic casement into the new scene. 
His father, whose taste was for the improving 
in literature, was willing enough that the boy 



1 4 Beside Still Waters 

should be supplied with books, but hardly un- 
derstood that the child was living in a world of 
bright fancies and simple dreams. His father, 
moreover, who had all his life had a harder and 
more definite turn of thought, and had desired 
knowledge of a precise kind, wanted the boy to 
read the little dry books, uncouthly and elabo- 
rately phrased, that had pleased himself in his 
own early days. Hugh's mind was precise 
enough ; but these terse biographies, these 
books of travel, these semi-scientific stories 
seemed to Hugh only to relate the things that 
he did not want to know. His father had been 
born at a time when the interest in the educa- 
tion of children was first taking shape, the days 
of Miss Edgeworth's Frank, and Harry and 
Lucy, that strange atmosphere of gravity and 
piety, when children were looked upon as a 
serious responsibility more than as a poetical ac- 
cessory to life ; not as mysterious and fairylike 
creatures, to be delicately wooed and tenderly 
guided, but rather as little men and women, 
to be repressed and trained, and made as soon 
as possible to have a sense of responsibility too. 
Hugh used to look at the old books in later 
days, and wonder what the exact social posi- 
tion of the parents in such books as Frank, and 
Harry and Lucy, was supposed to be. They 
lived in the country ; they were not appar- 



Books 15 

ently wealthy ; they lived with much sim- 
plicity. Yet Harry's father seemed to have 
nothing to do but to conduct his children over 
manufactories, and to take them for long walks 
— in the course of which he diligently improved 
their minds by a species of Socratic inquiry. 
But Hugh never thought of quarrelling with 
the books provided ; he seized upon any trace of 
humanity or amusement that they afforded, any 
symptoms of character and liveliness, and sim- 
ply evaded the improving portion, which blew 
like a dry wind over his spirit. When his father 
talked over the books with the child, he listened 
tolerantly to the boy's amusement at how the 
cake had rolled down the hill, or how the little 
pig had got into the garden ; but he was disap- 
pointed that the boy seemed not to care whether 
the stone which Harry threw described a para- 
bola or not, though there was an odious diagram 
to explain it, full of dotted lines and curves. 
Yet the boy held on his way, deaf to all that 
did not move him or interest him, and fixing 
jealously on all that fed his fancy. Such books 
as Grimm s Fairy Tales and Masterman Ready 
were wells of delight, enacted as they were in 
a strange and exciting world; and he was sensi- 
tive, too, to the beauty of metre and sonorous 
phrases, learning poetry so easily that it was sup- 
posed to be a species of wilfulness in him that 



1 6 Beside Still Waters 

the Collects and texts, and the very Psalms — 
that seemed to him so unreal and husk-like then, 
and that later became to him like fruits full of 
refreshment and savour and sweet juice — found 
their way slowly into his memory, and were so 
easily forgotten. 



II 



The time came for Hugh to go to school. He 
drifted, it seemed to him afterwards, with a sin- 
gular indifference and apathy of mind, into the 
new life, though the parting from home was 
one of dumb misery ; not that he cared deeply, 
as a softer-hearted child might have cared, at 
being parted from his father, his mother, his 
sisters. People, even those nearest to the boy, 
were still only a part of the background of life, 
a little nearer perhaps, but hardly dearer, hardly 
more important than trees and flowers, except 
that a greater part of his life was spent with 
them. But the last afternoon in the familiar scene 
— it was a hot, bright September day — tried 
the boy's fortitude to the uttermost. He felt as 
though the trees and walks would almost miss 
his greeting and presence — and what was the 
saddest part of all to him was that he could not 
be sure of this. Was the world that he loved 
indifferent to him ? Did it perhaps not heed 
him, not even perceive him ? He had al- 
ways fancied that trees and flowers had a 
species of sight, that they watched him, the 

2 17 



1 8 Beside Still Waters 

trees shyly out of their green foliage, the flow- 
ers with their bright unshrinking gaze. The 
tallest trees seemed to look down on him 
from a height, regarding him with a digni- 
fied and quiet interest ; his personal affection 
for them had led him indeed to be careful not 
to ill-use them ; he had always disliked the 
gathering of flowers, the tearing off of boughs 
or leaves from shrubs. They seemed to suffer 
injury patiently, but none the less did he think 
that they were hurt. He liked to touch the 
full-blown heads of the roses, when they yielded 
their petals at a touch into his hand, because 
it seemed that they gave themselves willingly. 
And then, too, when the big china bowl that 
stood in the hall was full of them, and they 
were mixed with spices, the embalming process 
seemed to give them a longer and a fuller life. 

But now he was leaving all this ; day after day 
the garden would bloom, until the autumn 
came, and the trees showered down their golden 
leaves on walk and lawn. He had seen it year 
after year, and now he would see it no more. 
Would they miss him as he would miss them ? 
And so the last afternoon was to him a wistful 
valediction ; he went softly about, to and fro, 
with a strange sadness at his heart, the first 
shadow of the leave-takings of the world. 

The school to which he went was a big place 



The Schoolmaster 19 

in the suburbs of London, standing near a royal 
park. The place was full of dignified houses, 
standing among trees and paddocks, with high 
blank garden-walls everywhere. The school it- 
self had been once a great suburban mansion, 
the villa of a statesman. The rooms were 
large, high, and dignified, but the bareness of 
life, under the new conditions, was a great trial 
to the boy. He had a certain luxuriousness of 
temperament, not in matters of meat and drink, 
but in the surroundings and apparatus of life. 
The bare, uncurtained, uncarpeted rooms, the 
big dormitory with its cubicles, the stone- 
flagged passages, all appeared to him mean 
and sordid. His schoolmaster was a man of 
real force of character, a tall stately personage 
with a great enthusiasm for literature, a fine 
converser and teacher, and with a deep insight 
into character. But this was marred by a want 
of tenderness, a certain harshness of disposi- 
tion, and a belief that boys needed to be re- 
pressed and dragooned. Hugh conceived an 
overwhelming terror for this majestic man, with 
the dress and bearing of a fine gentleman, with 
his flashing eyes, his thin lips, his grey curly 
hair, his straggling beard. He was a friend of 
Hugh's father, and took a certain interest in the 
boy, especially when he discovered that, though 
dreamy and forgetful, Hugh's abilities were 



20 Beside Still Waters 

still of a high order. His work was, in fact, 
always easy to him, though he was entirely 
destitute of ambition. Certain scenes impressed 
themselves on the boy's mind with extraordi- 
nary vividness. Mr. Russell, the schoolmaster, 
used to read out every week a passage for the 
boys to turn into verse. He read finely, and 
Hugh noticed, with a curious surprise, that Mr. 
Russell was almost invariably affected to tears 
by his reading. But, on the other hand, a scene 
which he saw, when he and certain other boys 
were waiting to have their exercises looked 
over, was for years a kind of nightmare to him. 
There was a slow and stupid boy in the class, 
whom Mr. Russell chose to consider obstinate, 
and who was severely caned, in the presence of 
the others, for mistakes in his exercise. Even 
ten years after, Hugh could remember with a 
species of horror the jingling of the keys in Mr. 
Russell's pocket, as he took them out to unlock 
the drawer where the cane lay. Perhaps this 
proved a salutary lesson for Hugh, for the ter- 
ror that such an incident might befall himself, 
caused him to take an amount of trouble with 
his exercises which he would certainly not 
otherwise have bestowed. 

On Sunday evenings Mr. Russell read aloud 
to the upper boys in his drawing-room ; and 
this was a happy time for Hugh ; he loved to 



School Life 21 

sit in a deep chair, and feast his eyes upon the 
pictures, the china, the warm carpet and cur- 
tains of the fire-lit room, and the books that he 
heard read had a curious magic for him. Mr. 
Russell never seemed to take any particular 
nptice of him, and Hugh used to feel that he 
was despised for his want of savoir faire, his 
slovenliness, his timidity ; and it was a great 
surprise to discover, long after, a bundle of let- 
ters from Mr. Russell to his father, in which he 
found his abilities and shortcomings discussed 
with extraordinary penetration. 

Hugh played no games at school ; there was 
not then the organisation of school games 
which has since grown up. His favourite occu- 
pation was wandering about the big grounds, 
to which certain boys were admitted, or joining 
in the walks, which a dozen boys, conducted by 
a peevish or good-tempered usher, as the case 
might be, used to take in the neighbourhood of 
the school. The high garden-walls, with the 
mysterious posterns, the huge horse-chestnuts 
looking over, the leaded tops of the classical 
arbours with which the grounds of an adjacent 
villa were adorned ; the great gate-posts of the 
main entrances, the school-house itself, looking 
grimly down from a great height, — all these held 
strange mysteries for the boy, sinking uncon- 
sciously into his spirit. 



22 Beside Still Waters 

But he made very few friends either with 
masters or boys. He had none of the merry 
sociability of childhood ; he confided in no one, 
he simply lived his life reluctantly, hating the 
place, never sure that some ugly and painful 
punishment, some ridicule or persecution might 
not fall on him out of a clear sky for some of- 
fence unconsciously committed. He had hardly 
a single pleasant memory connected with the 
school, except of certain afternoons when the 
boys who had done well for the week were al- 
lowed to go without supervision to the neigh- 
bouring shops, and purchase simple provender. 
But if he made no friends, he at least made no 
enemies ; he was always friendly and good-tem- 
pered, and he was preserved by his solitariness 
from all grossness and evil. It was a big school, 
and occasionally he perceived in the talk and 
behaviour of his companions the signs of some 
ugly and obscene mystery that he did not un- 
derstand, and that he had no v^ish to penetrate. 
But the result, which in after days surprised him 
with a sense of deep gratitude and thankful- 
ness, was, that though he spent two years at this 
school, he left it with absolutely untainted inno- 
cence, such innocence as in later days he would 
have held to be almost inconceivable, as to all 
the darker temptations of the senses. But the 
absence of close human relationship was the 



Companions 23 

strange thing. He had a few boys with whom 
he associated in a familiar way. But he had no 
idea of the homes from which they came, he 
knew nothing of their inner taste and fancies. 
And though his own feelings and interests were 
definite enough and even strong, though he 
read books of all kinds with intense avidity, he 
never spoke of them to other boys, while at 
the same time he was averse to writing letters 
home ; his father complained once during the 
holidays that he knew nothing of what the boy 
did at school. Hugh could not put into words 
what he felt to be the truth, namely, that he 
hardly knew himself. He submitted quietly 
and obediently to the dull routine of the place, 
and felt so little interest in it, that he could 
not conceive his father could do so either. 
There were of course occasional exciting inci- 
dents, but to relate them would have required 
so much explanation, such a list of personages, 
such a description of circumstances, that he 
felt unable to embark upon it. His father asked 
him whether he would not like some of his school 
friends to visit him at home, and he rejected the 
suggestion with a kind of incredulous horror. 
The thought of invading the sanctity, the famil- 
iarity of home, with the presence of a boy who 
might reveal its secrets to others, was too appall- 
ing to face ; it hardly occurred to him that the 



24 Beside Still Waters 

boys had homes of their own, places which they 
loved. He only thought of them as figures on 
the school stage, to be conciliated, -tolerated, 
lived with, his only preoccupation being to 
shield and guard his own heart and inner life 
from any intruding influence whatever. He 
had no desire ever to see one of the crew again, 
boys or masters. Some indeed were preferable 
to others, but no one could be trusted for an in- 
stant; the only safe course was to make no 
claim, and to shield one's self as far as possible 
against all external influences, all alliances, all 
relationships. 

Hugh, in after life, could, hardly recall the 
faces of any of his companions ; the only way 
at the time in which he differentiated them 
to himself was that some looked kinder than 
others — that was the only thing that mattered. 
Thus the years dragged themselves along, the 
school-time hated with an intensity of dislike, 
the holidays eagerly welcomed as a return to 
old pursuits. The boy used to lie awake in a 
big dormitory in the early summer mornings, 
thinking with vague terror and disquiet of the 
ordered day of labour that lay before him. 
There were peacocks kept in the grounds 
whose shrill feminine screams of despairing re- 
proach were always inseparably connected with 
the dreariness of the place. His last morning 



Relief 25 

at the school he awoke early, full of joyful ex- 
citement, and heard the familiar cries with a 
thankful sense that he would never hear them 
again. He said no good-byes, made no fare- 
well visits. He waved his hand, as he drove 
away, in merry derision at the grim high win- 
dows that looked down on the road, the only 
thought in his mind being the feeling of un- 
conquerable relief that the place would see him 
no more. 

He used to wonder, in after days, whether 
this could not have been avoided ; whether it 
was a wholesome discipline for- a child of his 
age and perhaps peculiar temperament to'have 
been brought up under these conditions. After 
all, it is the case of the average boy that has to 
be considered, and for the average boy, insou- 
ciant, healthy-minded, boisterous, there is prob- 
ably little doubt that the barrack-life of school 
has its value. Probably too for Hugh himself, 
though it did not in any way develop his intel- 
lect or his temperament, it had a real value. It 
taught him a certain self-reliance; it showed 
him that what was disagreeable was not neces- 
sarily intolerable. What Hugh needed to 
make him effective was a certain touch of the 
world, a certain hardness, which his home life 
did not tend to develop. And thus this bleak 
and uncheered episode of life gave him a super- 



26 Beside Still Waters 

ficial ordinariness, and taught him the need of 
conventional compliance with the ways of the 
mysterious, uninteresting world. 



in 



The change was accomplished, and Hugh went 
to a public school. In later life, conscious as 
he became of the strain and significance of per- 
sonal relations with others, he used to wonder 
at the careless indifference with which he had 
entered the big place which was to be his home 
for several years, and was to leave so deep a 
mark upon him. In his mature life, in the case 
of the official positions he was afterwards to 
hold, unimportant though they were, the 
thought of his relations to those with whom he 
was to work, the necessity of adapting himself 
to their temperaments, of establishing terms of 
intercourse with them, used to weigh on his 
mind for many days before the work began. 
But here, he reflected, where life was lived on 
so much closer terms, when the words and 
deeds, the feelings and fancies of the boys, 
among whom he was to live, were of the deep- 
est and most vital importance, he entered upon 
the new life, dull and careless, without interest 
or excitement, simply going because he was 
sent, just dumbly desirous of ease and tran- 
27 



28 Beside Still Waters 

quillity. He had been elected on to the foun- 
dation of an ancient school, and the surroundings 
of the new place did indeed vaguely affect 
him with a sort of solennn pleasure. The 
quaint mediaeval chambers ; the cloisters, with 
their dark and mysterious doorways ; the hall, 
with its high timbered roof and stained glass ; 
the huge Tudor chapel, with its pure white 
soaring lines ; the great organ, the rich stall- 
work, and the beautiful fields with their great 
elms — all this gave him a dim delight. He was 
taken to school by his father, who was full of 
affection, hope, and anxiety. But it seemed to 
Hugh, with the curiously observant power that 
he always possessed, though he could not have 
put it into words, that his father, rather than 
himself, was experiencing the emotion that it 
would have been appropriate for him to have 
felt. His father was disappointed that Hugh 
did not seem more conscious of membership, of 
the dignity and greatness of the place. His 
tender care about the books, the pictures, and 
the furnishing of Hugh's little room, did in- 
deed move the boy to a certain gratitude. But 
his" father's way on such occasions was to order 
what he himself would have liked, and his taste 
was severe ; and then he demanded that the 
boy should not only accept, but enthusiastically 
like, what was given him. Hugh's immature 



The Public School 29 

taste was all for what was bright and fanciful ; 
his father's for what was grave and dignified ; 
and thus though the boy was glad to have 
pictures of his own, he had rather that they 
had not been engravings of old religious pic- 
tures ; and he would have preferred dainty 
china objects, such as candlesticks and orna- 
ments, to the solid metal fittings which his 
father gave him. When they parted, his father 
gave him a serious exhortation to which the 
child hardly listened. He set him on his guard 
against certain temptations, when Hugh was ig- 
norant of what he was alluding to ; and the emo- 
tion with which the boy took leave of his father 
was rather envy that he was returning to the 
dear home life, than regret at being parted from 
him. 

The first two years of the boy's school life 
passed like a bewildered dream ; he had a com- 
panion or two, but hardly a friend ; he had little 
idea of what was going on in the big place round 
him ; he was not in the least ambitious of dis- 
tinction either in work or games ; his one desire 
was not to be conspicuous in any way. He was 
now a shy, awkward creature ; but he was good- 
humoured enough, and as his performances ex- 
cited no envy in any of his companions, he was 
left to a great extent to his own devices. The 
masters with whom he was brought into contact 



30 Beside Still Waters 

he regarded with a distant awe ; it never occurred 
to him that they took any interest in their work 
or in the characters of the boys they dealt with. 
He supposed vaguely that they liked to show 
their power by scoring under the mistakes in 
exercises, and by setting punishments. But they 
were all dim and inhuman beings to him. Only 
very gradually did it dawn upon the boy that he 
had a place in a big society. He was habitually 
unsuccessful in examinations, but he became 
a proficient in football, which gave him a cer- 
tain small consequence. He began to give 
thought to his clothes, and to adopt the custom- 
ary tone of talk, not because he felt in sym- 
pathy with it, but because it was a convenient 
shield under which he could pursue his own 
ideas. But his tastes were feeble enough ; he 
spent hours in the great school library, a cool 
panelled room, and though he had no taste for 
anything that was hard or vigorous, he read an 
immense amount of poetry and fiction. He be- 
gan, too, to write poetry, with extraordinary 
precautions that his occupation should not be 
discovered. He was present on one occasion 
when a store of poems, the work of a curious 
and eccentric boy of his own age, was discov- 
ered in the drawer of a bureau. These were 
solemnly read aloud by a small tormentor, while 
the unhappy author, writhing with shame and 



Friendships 31 

misery, was firmly held in a chair, and each 
composition received with derisive comments 
and loud laughter. Hugh had joined, he re- 
membered with a sense of self-reproach, in the 
laughtef and the criticisms, though he felt in 
his heart both interest in and admiration for the 
poems. But he dare not so far brave ridicule 
as to express his feelings, and simply fell tamely 
and ungenerously, into the general tone. He 
did indeed make feeble overtures afterwards to 
the author, which were suspiciously and fiercely 
repelled, and the only practical lesson that 
Hugh learned from the scene was to conceal 
his own literary experiments with a painful 
caution. 

But as the years passed there came a new in- 
fluence into Hugh's life. He had always been 
observant, in his quiet way, of other boys, and 
at last, as his nature developed, he began to 
idealise them in a romantic way. The first ob- 
ject of his admiration was a boy much older 
than himself, an independent, graceful creature, 
who had a strong taste for beautiful things, and 
adorned his room with china and pictures ; he 
was moreover a contributor of verses to the 
school magazine, which seemed to Hugh mod- 
els of elegance and grace. But he was far too 
shy to think of attracting the notice of his 
hero. It simply became an intense preoccupa- 



32 Beside Still Waters 

tion to watch him, in chapel or hall ; it was a 
fearful joy to meet him, and he used to invent 
excuses for passing his room, till he knew the 
very ornaments and pictures by sight. That 
room seemed to him a kind of sacred shrine, 
where a bright being lived a life of high and 
lofty intellectual emotion. But he never suc- 
ceeded in exchanging a word with the object of 
his admiration, except on a certain day, marked 
in his calendar long after with letters of gold. 
There was a regatta in the neighbourhood of 
the school, to which the boys were allowed to go 
under certain conditions. He had gone, and had 
spent his day in wandering about alone, until 
the glare and the crowd had brought on a head- 
ache ; and he had resolved to return home by 
an early train. He went to the station, hoping 
that he might be unobserved, and stepped into 
an empty carriage. Just as the train started, 
he heard rapid steps ; the door was flung open, 
and his hero entered. Seeing a junior boy of 
his own house in the carriage, he made some 
good-natured remark, and before Hugh could 
realise the greatness of his good fortune, his 
hero had sat down beside him, and after a 
few words, with a friendly impulse, had launched 
into a ghost story which lasted the whole of the 
journey, and the very phrases of which haunted 
Hugh's mind for weeks. They had walked 



Friendships 33 

down from the station together, but alas for 
the vicissitudes of human affairs, his god, con- 
tented with having shown courteous kindness 
to a lonely and uninteresting small boy, never 
gave hio) for the rest of the school term, after 
which hQ left, the slightest sign of recognition ; 
and yet for years after the fields and trees and 
houses which they had passed on the line were 
suffused for Hugh with a subtle emotion in the 
memory of that journey. 

And then, a little later than this, Hugh had 
the first and perhaps the most abiding joy of 
his life. A clever, ambitious, active boy of his 
own standing, whom he had long secretly ad- 
mired, took a pronounced fancy to him. He 
was a boy, Hugh saw afterwards, with a deeply 
jealous disposition ; and the first attraction of 
Hugh's friendship had been the fact that Hugh 
threatened his supremacy in no department 
whatever. Hugh was the only boy of the set 
who had never done better than he in anything. 
But then there came in a more generous feeling. 
Hugh's heart awoke; there was nothing which 
it was not a pleasure to do for his friend. He 
would put anything aside, at any moment, to 
walk, to talk, to discharge little businesses, to 
fetch and carry, to be in attendance. More- 
over, Hugh found his tongue, but his anxiety 
to retain his friend's affection made him astonish- 



34 Beside Still Waters 

ingly tactful and discreet. He was always ready 
to sympathise, to enter into any suggestion ; he 
suppressed himself and his own tastes complete- 
ly and utterly ; and he found, too, to his vast 
delight, that he could be entertaining and amus- 
ing. The books he had read, the fiction with 
which he had crammed himself, his keen eye 
for idiosyncrasies and absurdities, all came to 
his assistance, and he was amply repaid by a 
smile for his trouble. 

The two boys became inseparable, and per- 
haps the thing that made those days of com- 
panionship bright with a singular and golden 
brightness, was that there was in his friend the 
same fastidious vein, the same dislike of any 
coarseness of talk or thought which was strong 
in Hugh. Looking back on his school life, with 
all the surprising foulness of the talk of even 
high-principled boys, it was a deep satisfaction 
to Hugh to reflect that there had never been in 
the course of this friendship a single hint, so 
far as he could recollect, in their own intercourse 
with each other, of the existence of evil. They 
had tacitly ignored it, and yet there had not 
been the least priggishness about the relation- 
ship. They had never inquired about each 
other's aspirations or virtues, in the style of 
sentimental school-books. They had never said 
a word of religion, nor had there ever been the 



The Opening Heart 35 

smallest expression of sentiment. All that was 
taken for granted. It was indeed one of those 
perfect, honest, wholesome companionships, 
which can only exist between two cheerful boys 
of the saine age. Hugh indeed was conscious 
of a depth of sacred emotion, too sacred to be 
spoken of to any one, even to be expressed to 
himself. It was not, in fact, a definite relation 
which he represented to himself ; it was rather 
like a new light shed abroad over his life ; in- 
cidents had a savour, a sharp outline which they 
had lacked before. He became conscious, too, 
of the movement and intermingling of personal 
forces, of characters. He no longer had the 
purely spectatorial observation of others which 
had distinguished him before, but beheld other 
personalities, as in a mirror, in the mind of his 
friend. And then, too, what was a far deeper 
joy, literature and poetry began to yield up their 
secrets to him. Poetry had been to him before, 
a gracious, soulless thing like a tree or a flower, 
and had been apprehended purely in its external 
aspect. But now he suddenly saw the emotion 
that burned beneath, not indeed of the love that 
is mingled with desire — that had still no mean- 
ing for the soul of the boy, or only the signifi- 
cance of a far-off mystery ; but he perceived for 
the first time that it was indeed possible to hold 
something dearer than one's self, one's country. 



36 Beside Still Waters 

one's school, one's friend — something large and 
strong, that could intervene between one's hopes 
and one's self. 

Hugh was indeed not yet, if ever, to learn the 
force of these large words — patriotism, honour, 
self-surrender, public spirit ; he remained an 
individualist to the end. His country never be- 
came to him the glowing reality that it means 
for some. It was dear because his friends, who 
were also Englishmen, were dear ; and his 
school for the same reason. If he had a friend 
in the School Eleven, Hugh would always rather 
that his friend should be distinguished than that 
the school should win. He could not disen- 
tangle the personal fibre, or conceive of an 
institution, a society, apart from the beings 
of which it was composed. 

But his friendship broke in pieces, once and 
for all, the dumb isolation in which he had 
hitherto lived. It opened for him the door of 
a larger and finer life, and his soul, endowed 
with a new elasticity, seemed to leap, to run, to 
climb, with a freshness and vigour that he had 
never before so much as guessed at. 

The closeness of this friendship gradually 
loosened — or rather the exclusive companion- 
ship of its earlier stages grew less ; but it seem- 
ed to Hugh to bring him into new relations 
with half the world. He became a boy with 



Discoveries 37 

many friends. Other boys found his quaint 
humour, his shrewd perceptions, his courtesy 
and gentleness attractive. He took his new- 
found popularity with a quiet prudence, a good- 
humoured discretion that disarmed the most 
critical ; but it was deeply delightful to the boy ; 
he seemed to himself to have passed out of the 
shadow into the sun and air. Life appeared to 
be full of gracious secrets, delightful emotions, 
excellent surprises ; it became a series of small 
joyful discoveries. His intellect responded to 
the stimulus, and he became aware that he had, 
in certain directions, a definite ability of which 
he had never suspected himself. The only part 
of his nature that was as yet dark and sealed 
was the religious spirit. In a world so full of 
interests and beauties, there was no room for 
God ; and at this period of his life, Hugh, with 
a blindness which afterwards amazed him, grew 
to think of God in the same way that he 
unconsciously thought of his father, as a check- 
ing and disapproving influence, not to be 
provoked, but equally not to be trusted. 
Hugh had no confidences with his father ; he 
never felt sure, if he gave way to easy and 
unconstrained talk with him, that his father 
would not suddenly discern something of levity 
and frivolity in his pursuits ; and this developed 
in Hugh a gentle hypocrisy, that was indeed 



38 Beside Still Waters 

the shadow of his sympathy, which made him 
divine what would please his father to talk 
about. He found all his old letters after his 
father's death, arranged and docketed — the 
thought of the unexpected tenderness which 
had prompted this care filled his eyes with 
sudden tears — but how unreal they seemed ! 
There was nothing of himself in them, though 
they were written with a calculated easiness of 
expression which made him feel ashamed. 

And it was ever the same with his idea of 
God. He never thought of Him as the giver 
of beautiful things, as the inspirer of happy 
friendships ; he rather regarded Him as the 
liberal dispenser of disappointments, of rainy 
days, of reproofs, of failures. It was natural 
enough in a place like a public school, where 
the masters set the boys an example of 
awkward reticence on serious matters. Even 
Hugh's housemaster, a conscientious, devoted 
man, who, in the time of expansion, was taken 
into the circle of his sincere friendships — even 
he never said a serious word to the boy, except 
with a constrained and official air as though he 
heartily disliked the subject. 

It is no part of this slender history to trace 
the outer life of Hugh Neville. It must suffice 
to say that, by the time that he rose to the top 
of the school, he appeared a wholesome, manly, 



The Second Harvest 39 

dignified boy, quiet and unobtrusive ; very few 
suspected him of taking anything but a simple 
and conventional view of the scheme of things ; 
and indeed Hugh's view at this time was, if 
not exactly conventional, at least unreflective. 
It was his second time of harvest. He had 
gathered in, in his childhood, a whole treasure 
of beautiful and delicate impressions of nature. 
Now he cared little for nature, except as 
a quiet background for the drama which 
was proceeding, and which absorbed all 
his thoughts. What he was now garnering was 
impressions of personalities and pharacters, the 
odd perversities that often surprisingly revealed 
themselves, the strange generosities and noble- 
nesses that sometimes made themselves felt. 
But an English public school is hardly a place 
where these larger and finer qualities reveal 
themselves, though they are indeed often there. 
The whole atmosphere is one of decorum, 
authority, subordination. Introspection is dis- 
regarded and even suppressed. To be active, 
good-humoured, sensible, is the supreme de- 
velopment. Hugh indeed got nothing but 
good out of his school days ; the simple code of 
the place gave him balance and width of view, 
and the conventionality which is the danger of 
these institutions never soaked into his mind ; 
convention was indeed for him like a suit of 



40 Beside Still Waters 

bright polished armour, in which he moved 
about like a youthful knight. He left school 
curiously immature in many ways. He had 
savoir faire enough and mild literary interests, 
but of hard intellectual robustness he had 
nothing. The studies of the place were indeed 
not of a nature to encourage it. The most 
successful boys were graceful triflers with 
ancient literatures ; to write a polished and 
vapid poem of Latin verse was Hugh's high- 
est accomplishment, and he possessed the power 
of reading, with moderate facility, both Latin 
and Greek ; add to this a slender knowledge 
of ancient history, a slight savour of mathe- 
matics, and a few vague conceptions of science ; 
such was the dainty intellectual equipment 
with which he prepared to do battle with the 
great world. But for all that he knew some- 
thing of the art of dealing with men. He 
had learned to obey and to command, to be de- 
ferential to authority and to exact due obedi- 
ence, and he had too a priceless treasure of 
friendship, of generous emotion, untinged 
with sentimentality, that threw a golden light 
back upon the tall elms, the ancient towers, 
the swiftly-running stream. It was to come 
back to him in later years, in reveries both 
bitter and sweet, how inexpressibly dear 
the place had been to him ; indeed when 



The Last Morning 41 

he left his school, it had simply transmuted 
itself into his home,— the Rectory, with its 
trees and walks, jts narrower circle of interests, 
having faded quite into the background. 

The last morning at school was filled with a 
desolation that was almost an anguish ; he had 
packed, had distributed presents, had said a 
number of farewells, each thrilled with a pas- 
sionate hope that he would not be quite forgot- 
ten, but that he might still claim a little part in 
the place, in the hearts so dear to him. He lay 
awake half the night, and in the dawn he 
rose and put his curtain aside, and looked out 
on the old buttresses of the chapel, the mellow 
towers of the college, all in a clear light of in- 
finite brightness and freshness. He could not 
restrain his tears, and went back to his bed 
shaken with sobs, yet aware that it was a luxu- 
rious sorrow ; it was not sorrow for misspent 
days ; there were carelessnesses and failures in- 
numerable, but no dark shadows of regret ; it 
was rather the thought that the good time was 
over, that he had not realised, as it sped away, 
how infinitely sweet it had been, and the 
thought that it was indeed over and done with, 
the page closed, the flower faded, the song silent 
pierced the very core of his heart. One more 
last thrill of intense emotion was his ; his car- 
riage, as he drove away, surmounted the bridge 



42 Beside Still Waters 

over the stream ; the old fields with the silent 
towers behind them lay beneath him, the home 
of a hundred memories. There was hardly a 
yard of it all that he could not connect with 
some little incident ; the troubles, the unhap- 
pinesses, such as they had been, were gone like a 
shadow ; only the joy remained ; and the mem- 
ory of those lost joys seemed like a bird beat- 
ing its wings in the clear air, as it flew to the 
shadow of the pines. What was to follow ? He 
cared little to think ; all his mind was bent on 
the sweet past. Something of the mystery of 
life came home to him in that moment. He 
would have readily died then, he felt, if a wish 
could have brought him death. Yet there was 
nothing morbid in the thought ; it was only 
that death seemed for a moment a fitting con- 
summation for the end of a period that had 
held a richness and joy that nothing else could 
ever hold again. 



IV 



The desire to be returning to school with 
which Hugh went up to the university did not 
last long ; he paid a visit to his housemaster, 
and saw with a mixture of envy and amuse- 
ment how his juniors had all stepped quietly 
into places which he and his friends had va- 
cated, and were enjoying the sensation of influ- 
ence and activity. He was courteously treated 
and even welcomed ; but he felt all the time like 
the revenante of Christina Rossetti, — " I was of 
yesterday." And then, too, a few weeks after 
he had settled at Cambridge, in spite of the 
strangeness of it all, in spite of the humiliation 
of being turned in a moment from a person of 
dignity and importance into a mere " freshman," 
he realised that the freedom of the life, as com- 
pared with the barrack-life of school, was irre- 
sistibly attractive. He had to keep two or three 
engagements in the day, and even about these 
there was great elasticity. The independence, 
the liberty, the kindliness of it all, came home 
to him with immense charm. And then, too, 
the city full of mediaeval palaces, the quiet 
43 



44 Beside Still Waters 

dignity, thei ncomparable beauty of everything- 
gave him a deep though partly unconscious 
satisfaction. But for the first year he was 
merely a big schoolboy in mind. The real 
change in his mental history dated from his elec- 
tion to a small society which met weekly, where 
a paper was read, and a free discussion followed. 
Up to this time Hugh's religion had been of a 
purely orthodox and sensuous description. He 
had grown up in an ecclesiastical atmosphere, 
and the ritual of church services, the music, 
the ceremonial, had been all attractive to him. 
As for the dogmatic side, he had believed it un- 
questioningly, just as he had believed in the 
history or the science that had been taught him. 
But in this society he met young men — and 
older men too, for several of the Dons were 
members — who were rationalists, materialists, 
and definitely sceptical. It dawned on his mind 
for the first time that, while all other sciences 
were of a deductive kind, endeavouring to ap- 
proach principles from the observation and 
classification of phenomena, from the scrutiny 
of evidence, that theology was a science based 
on intuitions, and dependent on assumptions 
which it was impossible to test scientifically. 
The first effect of this was to develop a great 
loyalty to his traditions, and almost the first 
hard thinking he had ever done was in the 



Undergraduate Days 45 

direction of attempting to defend his faith on 
scientific principles. But the attempt proved 
fruitless ; one by one his cherished convictions 
were washed away, though he never owned it, 
not even to himself. He was i-egarded as a 
model of orthodoxy. He made friends with a 
young Fellow of his college, who was an ad- 
vanced free-thinker and set himself to enlighten 
the undergraduate, whose instinctive sympathy 
gave him a charm for older men, of which he 
was entirely unconscious. They had many se- 
rious talks on the subject ; and his friend em- 
ployed a kind of gentle irony in undermining 
as far as he could the foundations of what 
seemed to him so irrational a state of mind. 
One particular conversation Hugh remembered 
as vividly as he remembered anything. He and 
his friend had been sitting, on one hot June 
day, in the college garden, then arrayed in all 
its mid-summer pomp. They sat near a great 
syringa bush, the perfume of which shrub in 
later years always brought back the scene 
before him ; overhead, among the boughs of a 
lime-tree, a thrush fluted now cheerfully, now 
pathetically, like one who was testing a gift of 
lyrical improvisation. The elder man, wearied 
by a hard term's work, displayed a certain irri- 
tability of argument. Hugh held tenaciously 
to his points ; and at last, after a silence, his 



46 Beside Still Waters 

friend turned to him and said : " Well, after all, 
it reduces itself to this : you have an interior 
witness to the truth of what you say, which 
you can honestly hold to be superior to the ex- 
terior evidences of its improbability ? " Hugh 
smiled uneasily, and, conscious that he was say- 
ing something which he hoped rather than 
knew, said, " I think I have." The older man 
shrugged his shoulders and said, " Then I can 
say no more !" — nor did he ever again revert to 
the question, from what Hugh thought was a 
real generosity and tenderness of spirit. 

All the time Hugh practised a species of emo- 
tional religion, attending the chapel services de- 
voutly, even willingly hearing sermons. There 
was a little dark church, in a tiny courtyard 
hemmed in by houses and approached by a nar- 
row passage, served by a Fellow of a neighbour- 
ing college, who preached gentle devotional 
discourses on Sunday evenings, to which many 
undergraduates used to go. These were a great 
help to Hugh, because they transferred religion 
from the intellectual to the spiritual region ; 
and thus, though he was gradually made aware 
of the weakness of his intellectual position, he 
continued his religious life, in the hope that the 
door of a mystery might some day be opened 
to him, and that he might arrive, by an inner 
process, at a conviction which his intellect 



Strain 47 

could not give him. But here as elsewhere he 
was swayed by a species of timidity and cau- 
tion. While on the one hand his intellect told 
him that there was no sure and incontrovertible 
standing-ground for the orthodoxy which he 
professed, yet, on the other hand, he could not 
bear to relinquish the chance that certainty 
might be found on different lines. 

In the middle of these speculations, he suf- 
fered a dark experience. He fell for the first 
time in his life into ill-health. His vitality and 
nervous force were great, and though soon de- 
pleted were soon recuperated ; but the new and 
ardent interests of the university had appealed 
to him on many sides ; he worked hard, took 
violent exercise, and filled up every space of 
time with conversation and social enjoyment; 
he had no warning of the strain, except an un- 
accustomed weariness, of which he made light, 
drawing upon his nervous energy to sustain him; 
the wearier he grew, the more keenly he flung 
himself into whatever interested him, learning, 
as he thought, that the way to conquer lassi- 
tude was by increased exertions, the feeling 
of fatigue always passing off when he once 
grew absorbed in a subject. He took to sit- 
ting up late and rising early, and he had 
never seemed to himself more alert and vig- 
orous in mind, when the collapse came. He 



48 Beside Still Waters 

was suddenly attacked, without warning, by 
insomnia. 

One night he went to bed late, and found it 
difficult to sleep ; thoughts raced through his 
brain, scenes and images forming and reforming 
with inconceivable rapidity ; at last he fell 
asleep, to awake an hour or two later in 
an intolerable agony of mind. His heart 
beat thick and fast, and a shapeless horror 
seemed to envelop him. He struck a light 
and tried to read, but a ghastly and poi- 
sonous fear of he knew not what seemed 
to clutch at his mind. At last he fell in- 
to a broken sleep ; but when he rose in the 
morning, he knew that some mysterious evil 
had befallen him. If he had been older and 
wiser, he would have gone at once to some 
sensible physician, and a short period of rest 
would probably have restored him ; but the 
suiifering appeared to be of so purely mental a 
character that he did not realise how much of 
it was physical. For that day and for many 
days he wrestled with a fierce blackness of de- 
pression, which gradually concentrated itself 
upon his religious life ; he became possessed by 
a strong delusion that it was a punishment 
sent to him by God for tampering with 
freedom of thought, and little by little a 
deep moral anxiety took hold of him. He 



Recovery 49 

searched the recesses of his heart, and ended by 
painting his whole hfe in the blackest of colours. 
In the endeavour to find some degree of 
peace, he read the Scriptures constantly, and 
the marks he made in his Bible against verses 
which seemed to hold out hope to him or to 
plunge him into despair, remained through the 
after years as signs of this strange conflict of 
mind. His distress was infinitely increased by 
attending some services at a mission which 
then happened to be proceeding which, instead 
of inspiring him with hope, convinced him that 
his case was past recovery. For some weeks 
he tasted, day by day, the dreary bitterness of 
the cup of dark and causeless depression, and 
laboured under an agonising dejection of spirit. 
This intensity of suffering seemed to shake his 
whole life to its foundation. It made havoc of 
his work, of his friendships, of the easy philoso- 
phy of his life. He began to learn the distress- 
ing necessity of dissembling his feelings ; he 
endeavoured at great cost to bear as uncon- 
cerned a part as before in simple festivities 
and gatherings, while the clouds gathered and 
the thunder muttered in his soul. And all 
the time the answer never came. Wrestle as 
he might, there seemed to him an impenetra- 
ble barrier between him and the golden light 
of God. He learned in what dark and cold 



50 Beside Still Waters 

isolation it is possible for the soul to wander. 
Slowly, very slowly, the outlook brightened ; a 
whole range of new emotions opened before 
him. The expressions of suffering and sorrow, 
that had seemed to him before but touching 
and beautiful phrases, became clear and vivid. 
His own powers of expression became more 
subtle and rich. And thus, though he gradu- 
ally drifted back into a species of spiritual 
epicureanism, he always felt grateful for his 
sojourn in the dark world. He did not aban- 
don his religious profession, but he became 
more content to suspend his judgment. He 
saw dimly that the mistake he had made was 
in hoping for anything of the nature of cer- 
tainty. He became indeed aware that the only 
persons who are indubitably in error are those 
who make up their minds in early life to a the- 
ory about God and the world, and who from 
that moment admit no evidence into their 
minds except the evidence that supports their 
view. Hugh saw that life must be, for him at 
all events, a pilgrimage, in which, so long as 
his open-mindedness, his candour, his enthu- 
siasm did not desert him, there were endless 
lessons to be learned by the way. And thus he 
came back gratefully and wearily to his old 
life, his old friendships. His college became 
to him a very blessed place; apart from the 



A First Book 51 

ordinary social life, from the work and the 
games which formed a background and frame- 
work in which relationships were set, he found 
a new region of desires, impulses, ideas, through 
which he wandered at his will. 

At this time Hugh could not be said to be 
happy. The shadows of his dark moods often 
hung about him, and he bore in his face the 
traces of his suffering. He felt, too, that he 
had failed in his religious quest, though side 
by side with this was the consciousness that 
he had been meant to fail. His religious views 
were a vague theism, coupled with a certain 
tendency to determinism, to which his wander- 
ings had conducted him. Christian determin- 
ism he called it, because, though his old 
unquestioning view of the historical evidences 
of Christianity had practically disappeared, yet 
his belief in Christian morality as the highest 
system that had yet appeared in the world was 
unshaken. And it was at this time, just after 
taking his degree, that he wrote a little book, a 
species of imaginary biography which attained, 
to his surprise, a certain vogue. The book was 
an extraordinarily formless and irrelevant pro- 
duction, written upon no plan, into which he 
shovelled all his vague speculations upon life. 
But its charm was its ingenuous youthful- 
ness and emotional sincerity ; and, although he 



52 Beside Still Waters 

afterwards came to dislike the thought of the 
book so much, that at a later date he bought up 
and destroyed all the copies of it that remained 
unsold, yet for all that it had the value of being 
a perfectly sincere revelation of personality, 
and represented a real, if a sentimental, experi- 
ence. The book was severely reviewed, but as 
it was published anonymously this gave Hugh 
little anxiety ; and so he shouldered his burden, 
and went out of the sheltered life into the wil- 
derness of the world. 



There will be no attempt made here to trace 
in any detail the monotonous years of Hugh's 
professional life, because they seemed to him to 
have been in one sense lost years ; there was at 
all events no conscious growth in his soul. His 
spirit seemed to him afterwards to have lain, 
during those years, like a worm in a cocoon, 
living a blind life. Externally, indeed, they 
were the busiest time of his life. He became 
a hard-worked official in the Civil Service. He 
lived in rooms in London. He spent his day 
at the office, he composed innumerable docu- 
ments, he wrote endless letters ; he seemed to 
himself, in a way, to be useful; he did not dis- 
like the work, and he found it interesting to 
have to get up some detailed case, and to pre- 
sent it as lucidly as possible. He began his of- 
ficial life with an intention of doing some sort 
of literary work as well; but he found himself 
incapable of any sustained effort. Still, he con- 
tinued to write; he did a good deal of review- 
ing, and kept a voluminous diary, in which he 

53 



54 Beside Still Waters 

scribbled anything that struck him, recording 
scenes, conversations, impressions of books and 
people. This he found was easy enough, but it 
seemed impossible to complete anything or to 
give it a finished form. However, he acquired the 
habit of writing, and gained some facility of ex- 
pression. His short holidays were spent either 
in travel, with some like-minded companion, or 
in his quiet country home, where he read a large 
number of books, and lived much in the open 
air. But his progress seemed to have been 
purely intellectual. He lost his interest in ab- 
stract problems and in religious matters, which 
retired to a remote distance, and appeared to him 
to be little more than a line of blue hills on a 
distant horizon, as seen by a man who goes up 
and down in a city. He had visited them once, 
those hills of hope, and he used to think vaguely 
of visiting them again ; but meanwhile the im- 
pulse and the opportunity alike failed him. 

Yet in another sense he did not consider those 
days lost. He gained, he used to feel after- 
wards, a knowledge of the world, a knowledge 
of men, a knowledge of affairs. This contact 
with realities took from his somewhat dreamy 
and reflective temperament its unpractical 
quality. If he chose afterwards to leave what 
is commonly called the world, it was a deliber- 
ate choice, founded on a thorough knowledge 



Practical Life 55 

of its conditions, and not upon a timid and awk- 
ward ignorance. He did not leave the world 
because it frightened or bewildered him, but be- 
cause he did not find in it the things of which 
he was in search. Neither, on the other hand, 
did he quit the life of affairs like a weakling or 
an inefficient person who had failed in it and 
had persuaded himself that incompetence was 
unworldliness. Hugh became a remarkably ef- 
ficient official, alert, sensible, practical, and pru- 
dent. He was marked out for promotion. He 
was looked upon as a man who got on well with 
inferiors and superiors alike, who could be 
trusted to do a complicated piece of business 
well, who was worth consulting. 

Moreover he acquired a very serviceable and 
lucid style, a power of clear statement, which 
afterwards stood him in good stead. His of- 
ficial work gave him the power of seeing the 
point, it gave him an economy of words, an ef- 
fective briskness and solidity of presentment ; 
at the same time his literary work prevented 
him from degenerating into a mere precis-writer. 

It is very difficult to say which of the days of 
a man's life are wasted and which are fruitful. 
It is not necessarily the days in which a man 
gives himself up to his chosen work in which he 
makes most progress. Sometimes a long inar- 
ticulate period, when there seems to a man to 



56 Beside Still Waters 

be a dearth of ideas, a mental drought, acts as a 
sort of incubation in which a thought is slowly 
conceived and perfected. Sometimes a long 
period of repression stores force at high pres- 
sure. The lean years are often the prelude, 
even the cause, of the years of fatness, when the 
exhausted and overteemed earth has lain fallow 
and still, storing its vital juices. 

Sometimes, too, a disagreeable duty, under- 
taken in heaviness and faithfully fulfilled, re- 
wards one by an increase of mental strength and 
agility. A painful experience which seems to 
drown a man's whole nature in depression and 
sadness, to cloud hope and eagerness alike, can 
be seen in retrospect to have been a period fer- 
tile in patience and courage. 

Hugh did not find his official life depres- 
sing, but very much the reverse. He enjoyed 
dealing with affairs and with men. He used 
sometimes to wonder, half regretfully, half com- 
fortably, at the fading of his old dreams, in 
which so much that was beautiful was mingled 
with so much that was uneasy. He began 
indeed to be somewhat impatient of sentiment 
and emotion, and to think with a sort of com- 
passion of those who allowed themselves to be 
ruled by such motives. He did not exactly 
adopt a conventional standard, but he found it 
easier to live on a conventional plane, until he 



The Official World 57 

even began to be viewed by some of his old 
friends as a man who had adopted a conven- 
tional view. Hugh indeed found, in his official 
life, that the majority of those among whom 
his lot was cast did seem whole-heartedly con- 
tent to live in a conventional world and enjoy 
conventional successes. ' Such men, and they 
were numerous, never seemed disposed to 
probe beneath the surface of things, unless 
they were confronted by adverse circumstances, 
bereavements, or indifferent health ; and, under 
these conditions, their one aim seemed to be 
to escape as soon as possible from the region 
of discomfort : they viewed reflection as a sort 
of symptom of failing vitality. And so Hugh 
drifted to a certain extent into feeling that 
self-questioning and abstract thought were a 
species of intellectual ill-health. One arrived 
at no solution, any more than one did in the 
case of a toothache ; the one thing to do was 
to get rid of the unsatisfactory conditions as 
swiftly as possible. 

During this period of his life Hugh made 
many acquaintances, but no great friends. In 
fact the idea of close and intimate relationship 
with others fell more and more into the back- 
ground ; he became interested rather in the 
superficial and spectatorial aspect of things and 
persons. He began to see how differences of 



58 Beside Still Waters 

character and temperament played into each 
other, and formed a resultant which merged 
itself in the slow current of affairs. But he 
seemed to himself to be acquiring and sorting 
tangible experiences, and to have little specu- 
lative interest at all ; he neither craved to make 
or to receive confidences. The hours not occu- 
pied by business were given to social life and 
to reading ; and he was, or fancied himself to 
be, perfectly contented. 

But as the years went on, instead of sinking 
into purely conventional ways, Hugh found a 
mood of dissatisfaction growing upon him. He 
found that after his holidays he came back 
with increasing reluctance to his work. The 
work itself, how unsatisfactory it became ! 
Half the time and energy of the office seemed 
to be spent on creating rather than performing 
work ; an immense amount of detail seemed to 
be entirely useless, and to cumber rather than 
to assist the conduct of the business that was 
important. Of course much of it was neces- 
sary work which had to be done by some one ; 
but Hugh began to wonder whether his life 
was well bestowed in carrying out a system of 
which so much seemed to consist in dealing 
with unimportant minutiae, and in amassing 
immense records of things that deserved only 
to be forgotten. He found himself reflecting 



Drudgery 59 

that life was short, and that he tended to spend 
the greater part of his waking hours in matters 
that were essentially trivial. He began to 
question whether there was any duty for him 
in the matter at all, and by what law, human 
or divine, a man was bound to spend his days 
in work in the usefulness of which he did not 
wholly believe. 

Living, as he did, an inexpensive life of great 
simplicity, he had contrived to save a certain 
amount of money, and he was surprised to find 
how fast it accumulated. When he had been 
some fifteen years in his office, a great-uncle of 
his died, leaving Hugh quite unexpectedly a 
sum of a few thousand pounds, which, together 
with his savings, gave him a small but secure 
competence, as large, in fact, as the income he 
was accustomed to spend. 

Even so, he did not at once decide to leave his 
official career. It seemed to him at first that the 
abandonment of a chosen profession ought not 
to depend upon the fact that one could live in- 
dependently without it ; he felt that there ought 
to be a better reason for pursuing a certain course 
of life than mere livelihood. But his accession 
of means enabled Hugh to give up all literary 
hack-work, such as reviewing, which had long 
been somewhat of a burden to him; he had 
found himself of late agreeing more and more 



6o Beside Still Waters 

with William Morris's doctrine, that there was 
something degrading in a man's printing his 
opinions about other persons' books for money ; 
and he now began to indulge in more ambitious 
literary schemes. This involved him in a good 
deal of reading ; but he found himself thwarted 
at every turn by the pressure of official busi- 
ness. He found that his reading had to be done 
over and over again ; that he would master a 
section of his subject, and then for lack of time 
be compelled to put it aside, until it had passed 
out of his mind and needed to be recovered. 

At last he made up his mind that he would take 
the first obvious opportunity that offered itself 
to end his official work. It came in the form of 
an offer which, a year or two before, would have 
gratified his ambition, and which would have 
bound him without question to official work for 
the rest of his active life ; he was offered in very 
complimentary terms the headship of a newly 
created department. He not only declined it, 
to the surprise and disappointment of his chief, 
but he resigned his appointment at the same 
time. He had a somewhat painful interview 
with the head of the office, who told him that he 
was sacrificing a brilliant and honourable career 
at the very moment when it was opening before 
him. Hugh did not, however, hesitate; he found 
it a difficult task to explain to his superior ex- 



Resignation 6i 

actly what he intended to do, who expressed a 
good-humoured contempt for the idea of mak- 
ing a mild literary experiment, at an age when 
literary success seemed unattainable. The great 
man, indeed, one of whose virtues was an easy 
frankness, said that it seemed to him as absurd 
as if Hugh had expressed the intention of de- 
voting the rest of his life to practising the piano 
or drawing in water-colours. Hugh was quite 
aware that his literary position was of a dilet- 
tante kind, and that he had done nothing to 
justify the hope that success in literature was 
within his reach. He pleaded that the service of 
the State was encumbered by a mass of unneces- 
sary detail, in the usefulness of which he did not 
believe. The Secretary said that of course there 
was a good deal of drudgery, but that the same 
applied to most lives of practical usefulness ; 
and he pointed out that by accepting the new 
appointment, Hugh would be set free to attend 
to work of a more original and important kind. 
But Hugh felt himself sustained by a curiously 
inflexible determination, for which he could not 
wholly account ; he merely said that he had con- 
sidered the question in all its bearings, and that 
his mind was made up ; upon which the Secre- 
tary shrugged his shoulders, and said that he 
did not wish to over-persuade him ; and that in- 
deed, if Hugh accepted the new post merely in 



62 Beside Still Waters 

deference to persuasion, it would be good nei- 
ther for himself nor the service. He added a few 
conventional words to the effect that the office 
would be sorry to lose so courteous and conape- 
tent an official; and Hugh recognised that his 
chief, with the instinct of a thoroughly practical 
man, had dismissed him from his thoughts, as 
an entirely fantastic and wrong-headed person. 
His retirement was not unattended by pain; 
he found that the announcement of his depart- 
ure aroused more surprise and sorrow among 
his colleagues than he had expected ; it was 
depressing, too, to say good-bye to the well- 
known faces, the familiar rooms, the routine 
that formed so substantial a part of his life. 
But he found in himself a wholly unanticipated 
courage, and even a secret glee at the prospect 
of his release, which revealed to him how con- 
genial it was. He cleared up the accumulations 
of years ; he made his adieus with much real 
emotion; yet it was a solemn rather than a 
sad moment when he put his papers away for 
the last time, and handed over the keys of 
the familiar boxes to his successor. He went 
slowly down the stairs alone, and stopped at 
the door to say good-bye to the old attendant, 
whom he never remembered to have seen absent 
from his place. The old man said, " Well, sir, 
I did think as you would not have left us yet." 



Retirement 63 

Hugh replied, smiling, "Well, we have all to 
move on when our time comes, and I hope I 
leave only friends behind me." The old man 
seemed much affected by this, and said, ' Yes, 
sir, we shall be glad to see you whenever you 
can look in upon us " — and then with much 
fumbling drew out and presented a small pen- 
wiper to Hugh, which he had made with his 
own hands — "and God bless you, sir!" he 
added, with an apology for the liberty he was 
taking. This was the only incident in his 
leave-taking which affected Hugh to tears ; but 
they were tears of emotion, not of regret. He 
was looking on to the new life, and not back 
to the old ; and as he went out into the foggy 
air, and along the familiar pavement, there was 
nothing in his heart that called him back. He 
was grateful for all the kindness and affection 
of his friends, and the thought that he held 
a place in their hearts. What he hoped, he 
hardly knew ; but the release from the burden 
of the tedious and useless work was like that 
which Christian experienced, when the burden 
rolled from his back into the grave that stood 
in the bottom, and he saw it no more. 



VI 



One of the best things that Hugh's profes- 
sional life had brought him was a friendship 
with his father; their relations had been in- 
creasingly tense all through the undergraduate 
days ; if Hugh had not been of a superficially 
timorous temperament, disliking intensely the 
atmosphere of displeasure, disapproval, or mis- 
understanding, among those with whom he 
lived, there would probably have been sharp 
collisions. His father did not realise that the 
boy was growing up ; active and vigorous him- 
self, he felt no diminution of energy, no sense 
of age, and he forgot that the relations of the 
home circle were insensibly altering. He took 
an intense interest in his son's university career, 
but interfered with his natural liberty, expect- 
ing him to spend all his vacations at home, and 
discouraging visits to houses of which he did 
not approve. He was very desirous that Hugh 
should ultimately take orders, and was nerv- 
ously anxious that he should come under no 
sceptical influences. The result was that Hugh 
64 



His Father's Friendship 65 

simply excluded his father from his confidence, 
telling him nothing except the things of which 
he knew he would approve, and never asking 
his advice about matters on which he felt at all 
keenly ; because he knew that his father would 
tend, to attempt to demolish, with a certain 
bitterness and contempt, the speculations in 
which he indulged, and would be shocked and 
indignant at the mere beckoning of ideas 
which Hugh found to be widely entertained 
even by men whom he respected greatly. His 
father's faith indeed, subtle and even beautiful 
as it was, was built upon axioms which it 
seemed to him a kind of puerile perversity to 
deny. Religion came to him in definite and 
traditional channels, and to seek it in other 
directions appeared to him a species of wanton 
profanity. 

The result was an entire divergence of 
thought, of which Hugh was fully conscious ; 
but it did not seem to him that there was any- 
thing to be gained by candid avowal. He was 
at one with his father in the essential doctrines 
of Christianity; and beingby natureof a specu- 
lative turn, he considered the discrimination of 
religious truth, the criticism of religious tradi- 
tion, to be rather a stimulating and agreeable 
mental pastime than a question of ethics or 
morals. Thus he was led into practising a kind 



66 Beside Still Waters 

of hypocrisy with his father in matters of relig- 
ion. He felt that it was not worth while engaging 
in argument of a kind that would have distressed 
his father and irritated himself, upon matters 
which he believed to be intellectual, while his 
father believed them to be ethical. Hugh often 
pondered over this condition of things, which 
he felt to be unsatisfactory, but no solution oc- 
curred to him; he said to himself that he valued 
domestic peace rather than a frank understand- 
ing upon matters to which he and his father at- 
tached a wholly different value. But meantime 
he drifted further and further away from the 
ecclesiastical attitude, though his fondness for 
ecclesiastical art and ceremony effectually dis- 
guised from his father the speculative move- 
ment of his mind. 

But his independent entrance upon his pro- 
fessional life had given him an emancipation of 
which he was not at first fully conscious. He 
did not act from set purpose, and only became 
aware later that if he had thought out a diplo- 
matic scheme of action, he could not have de- 
vised a more effectual one. He simply made 
his own arrangements for the holidays ; he 
travelled, he paid visits ; he came home when it 
was convenient to him ; but the result was that 
in the early years of his professional life he was 
very little at home. Hugh supposed afterwards 



His Father's Friendship 67 

that his father must have felt this deeply ; but 
he did not show it, except that suddenly, al- 
most in a day and an hour, Hugh became aware 
that their relations had completely altered. He 
found himself met with a deference, a courteous 
equality which he had never before experienced. 
Instead of giving him advice, his father began 
to ask it, and consulted him freely on matters 
which he had hitherto kept entirely in his own 
hands. The result was at once an extraordi- 
nary expansion of affection and admiration on 
Hugh's part. He realised, as he had never 
done before, the richness and energy of his 
father's mind within certain limits, his practical 
abihty, his highmindedness, his amazing moral 
purity. Once freed from the subservient rela- 
tion imposed upon him by habit, Hugh saw in 
his father a man of real genius and effectiveness. 
The effectiveness he had hitherto taken as a mat- 
ter of course ; he had thought of his father as effec- 
tive in the same way that he had thought of him 
as severe, dignified, handsome — it had seemed a 
part of himself ; but he now began to compare 
his father with other men, and to realise that he 
was not only an exceptional man, but a man with 
a rare intensity of nature, whose whole life was 
lived on a plane and in an atmosphere that was 
impossible to easy, tolerant, conventional na- 
tures. He realised his father's capacity for 



68 Beside Still Waters 

leadership, his extraordinary and unconscious 
influence over all with whom he came in con- 
tact, the burning glow of his fervid tempera- 
ment, his scorn and detestation of all that was 
vile or mean. It did not at once become easier 
for Hugh to speak freely of what was passing 
in his own mind ; indeed he realised that his 
father was one of those whose prejudices were 
so strong, and whose personal magnetism was 
so great, that not even his oldest and most in- 
timate friends could afford to express opposi- 
tion to him in matters on which he felt deeply. 
But Hugh saw that he must accept it as an un- 
alterable condition of his father's nature, and 
realising this he felt that he could concede him 
an honour and a homage, due to one of com- 
manding moral greatness, which he had never 
willingly conceded to his paternal authority. 
The result was a great and growing happiness. 
Sometimes indeed Hugh made mistakes : be- 
guiled by the increasing freedom of their inter- 
course, he allowed himself to discuss lightly 
matters on which he could hardly believe that 
any one could feel passionately. But a real 
and deep friendship sprang up between the two, 
and Hugh was at times simply astonished at , 
the confidence which his father reposed in him. 
There were still, indeed, days when the tension 
was felt. But Hugh became aware that his 



His Father's Friendship 69 

father made strong efforts to banish his own de- 
pression and melancholy when he was with his 
son, that it might not cloud their intercourse. 
Signs such as these came home to Hugh with 
intense pathos, and evoked an affection which 
became one of the real forces of his life. His 
father had consented to Hugh's entering the 
Civil Service, but he continued to hope that his 
son might ultimately decide to take orders ; he 
had cherished that hope from Hugh's earliest 
years, and seeing Hugh's fondness for the ex- 
ternals of religion, while he knew nothing of his 
mental attitude, he still believed and prayed 
that Hugh might be led to enter the service of 
the Church. Hugh realised that this was still 
his father's deep preoccupation, and perceived 
that he avoided any direct expression of his 
wishes, exercising only a transparent diplomacy 
which was infinitely touching — so touching in- 
deed that Hugh sometimes debated within him- 
self whether he might not so far sacrifice his 
own bent, which was more and more directed to 
the maintenance of an independent attitude, in 
order to give his father so deep and lasting a 
delight. But he was forced to decide that the 
motive was not cogent enough, and that to 
adopt a definite position, involving the suppres- 
sion of some of his strongest convictions, for 
the sake of giving one he loved a pleasure, was 



70 Beside Still Waters 

like exposing the ark to the risks of battle. He 
knew well enough that if he had declared his 
full mind on the subject to his father, the ex- 
tent to which he felt forced to suspend his 
judgment in religious matters, his father would 
have desired the step no longer. 

With the rest of the family circle, in these 
years, Hugh's relations were affectionate but 
colourless. With his natural reticence, he 
shrank from speaking of the thoughts which 
predominated in his mind ; especially while 
there was an abundance of interesting and un- 
controversial topics which afforded endless sub- 
jects of conversation ; and the tendency to leave 
matters alone which, if debated, might have 
caused distress, was heightened by the death of 
one of Hugh's sisters. 

She was a girl of a very deep, loyal, and 
generous nature, full of activities and benevo- 
lence, and at the same time of a reflective order 
of mind. She had been a strong central force 
in the family; and Hugh found it strange to 
realise, after her death, that each member of the 
family had felt themselves in a peculiar relation 
to her, as the object of her special preoccupation. 
The event, which was strangely sudden, stirred 
Hugh to the bottom of his soul. The vacant 
chair, the closed room, the sudden cessation of 
a hundred activities, brought sharply to his 



The Dark Mystery 71 

mind the dark mystery of death. That a door 
should thus have been suddenly opened, and 
one of the familiar band bidden to enter, and 
that the loving heart that had left them should 
be unable to communicate the slightest hint of 
its presence to those who desired her in vain, 
seemed to him a horrible and desperate thing. 
For the first time in his life the terrible secrets 
of identity opened before his eyes. He could 
not bring himself to believe in the extinction of 
so vital, so individual a force, but he recognised 
with a mournful terror that, so far as scientific 
evidence went, the whole preponderating force 
of facts tended to prove that the individuality 
was, if not extinguished, at least merged in some 
central tide of life, and that the only rebutting 
evidence was the cry of the burdened heart 
that dared not believe a possibility so stern, 
so appalling. He wrestled dumbly and darkly 
against these sad convictions, and how many 
times, in miserable solitude, did he send out a 
wistful prayer that, if it were possible, some 
hint, some slender vision, might be granted him 
as a proof that one so dear, so desired, so mo- 
mently missed, was still near him in spirit. 
But no answer came back from the dark thresh- 
old, and, leaning in, he could but discern a land- 
scape of shapeless horror, in which no live thing 
moved by the shore of a grey and weltering sea. 



72 Beside Still Waters 

Little by little a dim hint came to comfort him ; 
he thought of all the unnumbered generations 
of men who had lived their brief lives in sun 
and shade, full of hopes and schemes and af- 
fections. One by one they had lain down in 
the dust. In the face of so immutable, so ab- 
solute a law, it seemed that rebellion and ques- 
tioning were fruitless. God gives, God takes 
away, He makes and mars, He creates. He dis- 
solves ; and if we cannot trust the Will that 
bids us be and not be, what else in this shifting 
world, full of dark secrets, can we trust? It 
cannot be said that this thought comforted 
Hugh, but it sustained him. He learned again to 
suspend his hopes and fears, and to leave all 
confidently in the hands of God ; and time, too, 
had its healing balm ; the bitter loss, by soft 
gradations, became a sweet and loving memory, 
and a memory that sweetened the thought of 
the dark world whither too he must sometime 
turn his steps. For if indeed our individuality 
endures, he could realise that one who loved so 
purely, so loyally, so intensely, would not fail 
him on the other side of the silent river, but 
would welcome him with unabated love, per- 
haps only feeling a tender wonder that those 
who yet had the passage to make should find 
it to be so terrible, so unendurable. 



VII 

The question which, when he resigned his 
appointment, occupied Hugh, was where he 
should live. He would have preferred to settle 
in the country, loving, as he did, silence and 
pure air, woods and fields. He had never liked 
London, though it had become endurable to 
him by familiarity. He decided, however, that 
at first, at all events, he must if possible find a 
place where he could see a certain amount of 
society, and where he would be able to obtain 
the books he expected to need. He was 
afraid that if he transferred himself at once to 
the country he might sink into a morbid seclu- 
sion, as he had no strong sociable impulses. 
His thoughts naturally turned to his own 
university. He thought that if he could find a 
small house at Cambridge, suitable to his means, 
he would be able to have as much or as little 
society as he desired, while at the same time he 
would be on the edge of the country. More- 
over the flat fenland, which is generally sup- 
posed to be unattractive, had always possessed 
73 



74 Beside Still Waters 

a peculiar charm for Hugh. He spent some 
time at home, revelling in his freedom, while he 
made inquiries for a house. The thought of a 
long perspective of days before him, without 
fixed engagements, without responsibilities, so 
that he could come and go as he pleased, filled 
him with delight. 

His father had not at all disapproved of the 
decision. Hugh had shown him that he was 
pecuniarily independent ; but he was aware 
that in the background of his father's mind lay 
the hope that, even so late in life, he might still 
be drawn to enter the ministry of the Church. 
At all events he thought that Hugh might gain 
some academical position ; and thus he gave a 
decidedly cordial assent to the change, only 
expressing a hope that Hugh would not make a 
hurried decision. 

Hugh did not delay to sketch out a plan of 
work. But whereas before he had worked only 
when he could, he now found himself in the 
blessed position of being able to work when he 
would. Instead of becoming, as he had feared, 
desultory, he found that his work exercised a 
strong attraction over him — indeed that it 
became for him, with an amazing swiftness, the 
one pursuit in the world about which exercise, 
food, amusement, grouped themselves as 
secondary accessories. This was no doubt in 



Liberty 75 

part accounted for by the fact that he had 
acquired a habit of regular work, a craving for 
steady occupation ; but it was also far more due 
to the fact that Hugh had really, and almost as 
though by accident, discovered his ruling 
passion. He was in truth a writer, a word- 
artist ; his only fear was whether, in the hard 
work of unmitigated years of specified toil, he 
had not perhaps lost the requisite mental 
agility, whether he had not failed to acquire 
the elastic use of words, the almost instinctive 
sense of colour and motion in language, which 
can only be won through constant and even 
unsuccessful use. That remained to be seen ; 
and meanwhile his plans settled themselves. 
He found a small, picturesque, irregularly-built 
house crushed in between the road and the river, 
which in fact dipped its very feet in the stream ; 
from its quaint oriel and gallery, Hugh could 
look down, on a bright day, into the clear 
heart of the water, and survey its swaying reeds 
and poising fish. The house was near the 
centre of the town ; yet from its back windows 
it overlooked a long green stretch of rough 
pasture-land, now a common, and once a fen, 
which came like a long green finger straight 
into the very heart of the town. There was 
a great sluice a few yards away, through 
which the river poured into a wide reach of 



76 Beside Still Waters 

stream, so that the air was always musical 
with the sound of falling water, the murmur 
of which could be heard on still nights 
through the shuttered and curtained case- 
ments. The sun, on the short winter days, 
used to set, in smouldering glory, behind 
the long lines of leafless trees which termi- 
nated the fen ; and in summer the little 
wooded peninsula that formed part of a 
neighbouring garden was rich in leaf, and 
loud with the song of birds. The little 
house had, in fact, the poetical quality, and 
charmed the eye and ear at every turn, the 
whisper of the little weir outside seeming to 
brim with sweet contented sound every corner 
of the quaint, irregular, and low-ceiled rooms, 
with their large beams and dark corners. 

So Hugh settled here after his emancipation, 
and for the first time in his life realised what it 
meant to be free. He woke day after day to 
the sensation that he had no engagements, no 
ties; that he could arrange his hours of work 
and liberty as he liked, go where he would ; that 
no person would question his right, interfere 
with his independence, or even take the least 
interest in his movements. His freedom was 
at first, to his dismay, something of a burden to 
him; he had been used to ceaseless interruptions, 
multifarious engagements ; the one struggle, the 



Cambridge 77 

one preoccupation, had been to win a few hours 
for solitude, for reflection, for literary work. 
But now that the whole of time was at his dis- 
posal, he found himself unable to concentrate 
his mind, to apply himself. He had several 
friends at Cambridge ; but the strain of making 
new acquaintances, of familiarising himself with 
the temperaments and the tastes of the new set 
of personalities, was very great. It was impos- 
sible for Hugh to enter upon neutral, civil, 
colourless relations. He could not meet a man 
or a woman without endeavouring to find some 
common ground of sympathy and understand- 
ing. And this was made more difificult to him 
at Cambridge by the swift monotony in which 
the years had flowed away. Time seemed to 
have stood still there in those twenty years. 
Many of the men that he remembered seemed 
still to be there, contentedly pursuing the cus- 
tomary round, circulating from their rooms to 
Hall, from Hall to Combination-room, and back 
again. Thus. Hugh, picking up the thread where 
he had laid it down, appeared to himself to be 
youthful, inexperienced, insignificant ; while to 
those who made his acquaintance he seemed to 
be a grave and serious man of affairs, with a 
standing in the world and a definite line of his 
own. 

Thus the first months were months of some 



78 Beside Still Waters 

depression. Not that he would have gone back 
if he could, or that he ever doubted of the wis- 
dom, the inevitableness of the step ; even in 
moments of dejection it cheered him to feel 
that he was not eating his heart out in fruitless 
work, or solemnly performing a duty, which 
relied for seriousness upon its outer place in a 
settled scheme, rather than upon any intrinsic 
value that it possessed. But his life soon settled 
down into a steady routine. He gave his morn- 
ings to letters, business, and reading ; his after- 
noons to exercise ; his evenings to writing and 
academical sociabilities. His aim began gradu- 
ally to be to make the most of the sacred hours 
of the late afternoon, when his mind was most 
alert, and when he seemed to possess the easiest 
mastery of language. He consecrated those 
hours to his chosen work, and it was his object 
to fit himself, as by a species of training, to 
make the most and best of that good time, 
which lay like gold among the debris of the day. 
It seemed to him that the solid, unimaginative 
work of the morning cleared away a certain 
heaviness and sluggishness of apprehension, 
which was the shadow of sleep ; that the open 
air, the active movement of the afternoon, re- 
moved the clumsier and grosser insistence of 
the body ; and that there resulted a frame of 
mind, when the imagination was lively and alert, 



Literary Work 79 

and when the willing brain served out its stores 
with a cordial rapidity. There was a danger 
perhaps of selfish absorption in such a scheme 
of life ; but at least no artist ever more sedu- 
lously cultivated the best and most fruitful 
conditions for the practice of his art. Hugh 
grew to have an almost morbid sense of the 
value of time. Interruptions, social entertain- 
ments, engagements which interfered with his 
programme, he resented and resolutely avoided. 
He became indeed aware that other people, to 
whom the value of his work was not apparent, 
were apt to regard the jealous arrangement of 
his hours as the mere whim of a self-absorbed 
dilettante. But that troubled Hugh little, be- 
cause he realised that his only hope of doing 
sound and worthy work lay in making a sacri- 
fice of the ordinary and trifling occupations of 
life, of forming definite habits, for the want of 
which so many capable and brilliant persons 
sink into unproductiveness. 

Yet the life had a danger which Hugh did 
not at first perceive. It tended to concentrate 
his thoughts too much upon himself. His writ- 
ings took a personal colour, a warm, self-regard- 
ing light, of which his candid friends did not 
hesitate to make him aware. The bitterness of 
the slow progress of a book, and of the long 
time that must elapse between its execution 



8o Beside Still Waters 

and its appearance, is that the readers of it tend 
to consider that it reflects the exact contempo- 
rary thought of its writer. Hugh's mind and 
personality grew fast in those days ; and by the 
time that his friends were criticising a book as 
the outcome of his immediate thought, he was 
feeling himself that it was but a milestone on 
the road, marking a spot that he had left leagues 
behind him. 

But the creative instinct, which had struggled 
fitfully with the hard practical conditions of his 
professional life, now took a sudden bound for- 
ward. His writing became the one important 
thing in the world for Hugh. He had gained, 
he found, through constant practice, dry as the 
labour had been, a considerable fluency and 
firmness of touch : now sentences shaped them- 
selves under his hand like living things ; words 
flowed easily from their abundant reservoir. Yet 
the peril, which he soon grew to perceive, was 
that his outfit of emotional experience, his 
knowledge of human life in its breadth and 
complexity, was very narrow and limited. He 
had seen life only under a single aspect, and 
that an aspect which, poignant and intense as it 
was, did not easily lend itself to artistic treat- 
ment. The result was that his outlook was a 
narrow one, and his mind was driven back upon 
itself. The need to speak, to express, to shape 



Egotism 8 1 

thoughts in appropriate words, so long repressed, 
so instinctive to him, became almost fearfully 
imperative. He was haunted by a hundred ar- 
dent speculations in art, in literature, in religion, 
in metaphysics, all of a vague rather than a pre- 
cise kind. His mind had been always of a 
loose, poetical type, turning to the quality 
of things rather than to outward facts or 
practical questions. Temperaments, individu- 
alities, appealed to him more than national 
movements or aspirations; and then the old 
love of nature came back like a solemn pas- 
sion. 

This sudden growth of egotism and introspec- 
tion tended to alarm and disquiet Hugh's 
friends ; they put it down to his severance from 
practical activities, and began to fear a morbid 
and self-regarding attitude. Yet Hugh knew 
that it would right itself ; it was but the com- 
pletion of a process, begun in his college days, 
and checked by his early entry into professional 
life ; it was return of his youth, the natural ful- 
filment of that period of speculative thought, 
which a young man must pass through before 
he can put himself in line with the world. And 
in any case it was inevitable; and Hugh was 
content as before to leave himself in the hand 
of God, only glad at least that a process which 
would naturally have been finished under the 



82 Beside Still Waters . 

overshadowing of the melancholy of youth, 
could thus be worked out with the temperate 
tranquillity, the serenity of manhood. 



VIII 

After all the inevitable bustle, the moving 
and settling of furniture, the constant noting of 
small needs, the conferences with tradesmen, all 
the details inseparable from establishing a new 
home, had died away, Hugh found himself, as 
has been said, for the first time in his life in 
comparative solitude. He had a few old friends 
in Cambridge ; but unless two men are mem- 
bers of the same college, meetings, in a place of 
many small engagements, have to be deliber- 
ately arranged. Hugh could always go and 
dine in the hall of his college, and be certain 
of finding there a quiet good-fellowship and a 
pleasant tolerance. But he had not as yet mas- 
tered the current of little incidents which fur- 
nish so much of the conversation of small 
societies : allusions to facts familiar to all beside 
himself were perpetually being made ; and he 
knew that nothing is so tiresome as a would-be 
sympathetic questioner, who does not under- 
stand the precise lie of the ground. He had as 
yet no definite work ; a literary task in which 
83 



84 Beside Still Waters 

he was shortly to be engaged had not as yet 
begun ; the materials had not been placed in 
his hands. Thus compelled by circumstances to 
pass through a period of enforced retreat, Hugh 
resolved upon a certain course of action. - He 
determined to put down in writing, for his own 
instruction and benefit, the precise position he 
held in thought — his hopes, his desires, his be- 
liefs. He set to work, it must be confessed, in 
a melancholy mood, the melancholy that is in- 
separable from the position of a man who has 
lived a very full and active life, and from whom 
the burden of activities is suddenly lifted. 
Though the lifting of the weight was an im- 
mense relief, and though he could often sum- 
mon back cheerfulness by reflecting how entire 
his freedom was, and how troublesomely he 
would have been occupied if he had still held 
his professional position, yet the mere fact that 
there was no longer any necessity to brace his 
energies and faculties to meet some particular 
call of duty, gave him spaces of a flaccid dreari- 
ness, in which his accustomed literary work 
palled on him ; one could not read or write for 
ever ; and so he set himself, as I have said, to 
compose a memorandum, a symbol, so to speak, 
of his moral and intellectual faith. 

He was surprised, as soon as he began his 
task, to find how much of what he had believed 



Foundations of Faith 85 

to be certainties shrank and dwindled. A per- 
fect sincerity with himself was the only possible 
condition under which such a work was worth 
undertaking, A sincerity which should reso- 
lutely discard all that was merely traditional 
and customary, should emphasise nothing, 
should regard nothing as proved, in which 
hope outran scientific certainty. 

He found that his creed began with a deep 
and abiding faith in God ; he believed, that is, 
in the existence of an all-pervading, all-power- 
ful Will, lying behind and in the scheme; of 
things. 

Side by side with this belief, and inextricably 
interwoven with it, was his belief in his own 
identity and personality. That was perhaps 
the only thing of which he was ultimately 
assured. But his experience of the world was 
that it was peopled by similar personalities, each 
of whom seemed equally conscious of a sepa- 
rate existence, who were swayed by motives 
similar in kind, though differing in detail, from 
the motives which swayed himself; beyond 
these personalities lay whole ranges of sen- 
tient beings, which sank at last, by slow and 
minute gradations, into matter which seemed 
to him to be inanimate ; but even all this was 
permeated by certain forces, themselves unseen, 
but the symptoms of which were apparent in 



86 Beside Still Waters 

all directions, such as heat, motion, attraction, 
electricity. He believed it possible that all 
these might be different manifestations and 
specimens of the same central force ; but it 
was nothing more than a vague possibility. 

He was next confronted with a mysterious 
fact. In every day and hour of his own life he 
was brought face to face with a double experi- 
ence. At moments he felt himself full of life, 
health, and joy ; at other moments he felt him- 
self equally subject to torpor, malaise, and suf- 
fering. What it was that made these two 
classes of experience clear to him he could not 
tell ; but there was no questioning the fact that 
at times he was the subject of experience of a 
pleasant kind, which he would have prolonged 
if he could ; while at times he was equally 
conscious of experiences which his only de- 
sire was to terminate as speedily as possible. 

This mystery, which no philosopher had ever 
explained, seemed to him to run equally 
through the whole of nature. He asked him- 
self whether he was in the presence of two war- 
ring forces. Would the Will, whatever it was, 
which produced happiness, have made that 
happiness permanent, if it could ? was it 
thwarted by some other power, perhaps equally 
strong — though it seemed to Hugh that the 
happiness of most sentient beings decidedly 



Duality 87 

and largely predominated over their unhappi- 
ness — a power which was deliberately inimical 
to joy and peace, health and well being? 

It seemed to him, however, that the two were 
so inextricably intermingled, and so closely, 
ministered the one to the other, that there 
was an essential unity of the Will at work ; 
and that both joyful arid painful experiences 
were the work of the same mind. He 
therefore rejected at the outset the belief 
that what was commonly called evil could be 
a principle foreign to the nature of the Will 
of God ; and he put aside as childish the 
belief that evil is created by the faculty 
of human choice, setting itself against the bene- 
volent Will of God ; for benevolence thus 
hampered would at once become a mere 
tame and ineffective desire for the welfare 
of sentient things, and be wholly deprived 
of all the attributes of omnipotence. Besides, 
he saw the same qualities that produced suffer- 
ing in humanity, such as the instincts of cruelty, 
lust, self-preservation, manifesting themselves 
with equal force among those sentient creatures 
which did not seem to be capable of exercising 
any moral choice. 

But in regarding nature, as revealed by the 
researches of scientists, he saw that there was a 
slow development taking place, a development 



88 Beside Still Waters 

of infinite patience and almost insupportable 
delay. Finer and finer became the organisa- 
tion of animal life ; and in the development of 
human life, too, he saw a slow progress, a daily 
deepening power of organising natural resources 
to gratify increasingly complicated needs. Not 
only was an energy at work, but a progressive 
energy, bringing into existence things that were 
not, and revealing secrets unknown before. 

He next attempted to define his moral belief ; 
and here, too, he saw in the world a progressive 
force at work. He saw society becoming more 
and more refined, more desirous to amend 
faulty conditions, more anxious to alleviate 
pain ; and this not only with self-regarding 
motives, but with a vital sympathy, which 
reached its height in the deliberate purpose of 
many individuals that, even if condemned to 
suffer themselves, they would yet spend thought 
and energy in relieving, if possible, the ills of 
others. 

He saw in the teaching of Christ what ap- 
peared to be the purest and simplest attempt 
ever made to formulate unselfish affection. No 
teacher of morals had ever reached the point of 
inculcating upon men the belief that it was the 
highest joy to spend the energies of life in con- 
tributing to the happiness of others. Though 
he saw in the system of Christ, as popularised 



Christianity 89 

and interpreted, a whole host of insecure as- 
sumptions, unverified assertions, and even de- 
grading traditions, yet he could not doubt 
the Divine force of the central message. If he 
was not in a position to affirm with certitude 
the truth of the recorded events which attained 
the origin of the Christian revelation, he could 
yet affirm with confidence that in the teaching 
of Christ a higher range of emotion had been 
reached than had ever been approached before - 
and he saw that spirit, in countless regions, 
however slowly, leavening the thought, the in- 
stincts of the world. The question then re- 
solved itself into a practical one. How in his own 
life was he to make the serenity, the happiness 
which he desired, predominate over the suffer- 
ing, the discontent to which he was liable ? 
Could it be done by an effort of mind ? His 
professional life had shown him that activity 
had not brought him any peace of mind, prin- 
cipally because the system which he was bound 
to serve demanded such immense expense of 
labour for purely unprofitable ends. It had not 
been part of the humble and necessary work of 
the world, which must be done by some one, if 
human beings are to live at all ; it had only 
been the outcome of the needlessly elaborate 
life of a highly organised community. It had 
filled his life full of a futile intellectual toil. 



90 Beside Still Waters 

And then, the effect upon his own character 
had been to hamper and stunt his natural 
energies. It had given him false ideals and 
wrong motives. 

Looking back at his own life, Hugh saw that 
ambition, in one form or another, had poisoned 
his spirit. He saw that the instinct to gain a 
supremacy at the expense of others had been 
the one serious motive pressed upon him from 
first to last; indeed the necessity for moral 
control had been really, though not nominally, 
urged upon him, on the ground that by yield- 
ing to bodily desires he would be likely to 
frustrate his visions of success. Only of late 
had he had any suspicion of the truth, that 
gentleness, peacefulness, kindness, sincerity, 
quiet toil, activity of body and mind, were the 
things that really made life sweet and joyful. 
Had he learned it too late to be able to exor- 
cise the demons that had so long harboured in 
his soul? He feared so. 

But at last, after long pondering, he arrived 
at his decision, which was that if indeed this 
vast and patient Will was in the background of 
all, the only way was to follow it, to lean upon 
it ; above all things not to be distracted by the 
conventions of society, which, though they, too, 
in a sense, had their origin in the Will of God, 
yet were things to be left behind, to be strug- 



The Will of God 91 

gled out of. There might indeed be some 
natures to which such things were attractive 
and satisfying, but Hugh had no doubt that 
though they might attract him, they could not 
satisfy. 

And yet over his thoughts there brooded the 
shadow of the sad possibilities that lay in wait 
for him, and of which he had already felt the 
touch — pain, weariness, a discontented mind, 
jealousy, despair, and at the end of all death, 
which closed the prospect whichever way he 
looked. But if these things, too, were of the 
very nature of God, His Will indeed, though 
obscure and terrible, the only way was in a 
patient and loving submission, a knowledge 
that they could not be wholly in vain ; and so 
he resolved that his life should be even so ; 
that he would embrace all opportunities of 
showing kindness, giving help to others ; that 
he would live a simple life of labour, using his 
faculties to the uttermost, as God should pro- 
vide; and that his whole being should be a 
deliberate prayer that he might do the Will of 
God as affected himself, without seeking the 
praise or recognition of men. He foresaw in- 
deed much solitude, much weariness. God had 
never given him one whom he could unre- 
servedly love, though He had sent him abun- 
dance of pure and noble friendships. Quiet 



92 Beside Still Waters 

dependence upon God, simplicity of life, a 
readiness to serve, a strenuous use of the gifts 
given to him ; that was the faith in which 
Hugh, now late in life, and after what profitless 
squandering of energies, began his pilgrimage. 



IX 



It seemed strange to Hugh to sit there as he 
did, in his quiet house beside the stream, with 
an active professional life behind him, and 
wonder what the next act would be. His time 
was now filled with an editorial task which 
would demand all his energies, or rather a large 
part of them ; but editorial work, however 
interesting in itself — and the interest of his 
particular work was great — left one part of the 
mind unsatisfied ; that part of the mind which 
desired to create some beautiful thing. Hugh's 
difificulty was this, that he had no very urgent 
message, to use a dignified word, to deliver to 
the world. Nowadays, to appeal to the world, 
it is necessary to do things, it would seem, in 
rather a strident way, to blow a trumpet, or 
wave a flag, or command an army, or reform 
a department of state, or control a railroad. 
Hugh had neither the power nor the will to 
write a virile book or a powerful story, or to 
take imagination captive. He did not wish 
to head a revolt against anything in particular. 
The day of the old, grim, sinister tyrannies, he 
93 



94 Beside Still Waters 

felt, in the Western corner of the world, was 
over, and the kind of tyranny that vexed his 
spirit was a far more secret and subtle distor- 
tion of liberty. It was the rule of convention- 
ality that he desired to destroy, the appetite 
for luxury, and power, and excitement, and 
strong sensation. He would have liked to do 
something to win men back to the joys that 
were within the reach of all, the joys of peace- 
ful work, and simplicity, and friendship, and 
quiet hopefulness. These were what seemed 
to Hugh to be the staple of life, and to be 
within the reach of so many people. And yet 
he had no mission. He could only detest the 
loud voices of the world and its feverish excite- 
ments, with all his heart ; and on the other 
hand he loved with increasing contentment the 
gentler and beautiful background of life, that 
enacted itself every day in the garden and field 
and wood ; the quiet waiting things, the old 
church seen over orchards and cottage-roofs, 
the deep pool in the reedy river, dreaming its 
own quiet dreams, whatever passed in the 
noisy world. He was sure that those things 
would bring peace to many weary spirits, if 
they could but learn to love them. 

Artists and musicians, Hugh felt, were the 
happiest of all people ; for they made the beau- 
tiful thing that might stand by itself, without 



Art 95 

the need of comment. The graceful boy or 
girl that they painted, undimmed by age and 
evil experience, looked down at you from the 
canvas with a pure and radiant smile, and 
became, as it were, a spring of clear water, 
where a soul might bathe and be clean. Or 
the picture of some silent woodland place, 
some lilied pool on a golden summer afternoon 
— how the peace of it came into the spirit, how 
it seemed to assure the heart that God loved 
beauty best, lavishing it with an unwearied 
hand, even where there could be none to behold 
it but Himself! Then the musician, — how he 
wove the airy stuff of sound, so that the pathos 
of the world, its heavy mysteries, its sunlit 
joys, started into life, embracing the soul, and 
bidding it not to be faithless or blind. These 
were the pure gifts of art, the spells before 
which the dull conventions of the world, its 
noise and dust, crumbled into the ugly ashes 
that they really were. 

Beside those magical secrets the clumsy art 
of the writer stood abashed. Those tints, those 
notes were such definite things ; but in the 
grosser and more tainted medium with which 
writers dealt, where' so much depended upon 
association and point of view, there was so 
much less certainty of producing the effect 
intended, that one faltered and lost faith. One 



96 Beside Still Waters 

thing was certain, that it was useless to search 
for a mission ; the purpose must descend from 
heaven, as the eagle pounced on Ganymede, 
and carry the trembling and awed minister 
high above the heads of men. But the only 
thing that the faithful writer could do was to 
map out some little piece of quiet work, make 
no vast design, seek for no large sovereignty ; 
and then work patiently on with ever-present 
enjoyment, learning his art, gaining skill and 
mastery over his vast and complex instrument, 
till he. gained certainty of touch and the power 
of saying, with perfect lucidity, with pure trans- 
parency of phrase, exactly what he meant ; and 
then, behind his art, to live resolutely in his 
simple creed, whatever article of it he could 
master, sure of this, that if his inspiration 
came, he would be able to present it worthily ; 
and if it did not come — well, his would have 
been a grave, quiet, gracious life, like the life 
of a song-bird that had never had an audience, 
or a stream which dropped in crystal cataracts 
from unvisited rocks, upon which no gazer's 
eye had ever fallen. And so there shaped 
itself what must be for the lover of the beauti- 
ful the first article of his faith, the thought 
that the happiness of art came in the making, 
the weighing, the disposing, and not in the 
recognition of the triumph by others ; and that 



The End of Art 97 

the temptation to gain a hearing, to touch 
hearts, to sway emotions was a natural one 
enough, but that it must be the first of all to 
be discarded, as one set foot in the enchanted 
world, among the dim valleys and rock-ridges, 
the thickets and the plains, that stretched 
beyond the sunset and on to the sea's rim, — that 
wider, more shadowy, more remote world of 
awe and mystery which lay so near, outside 
the window, at the opening of a door, at the 
sound of a voice, the glance of an eye, and in 
which one's busy fevered life was set, like the 
print of the wind's footstep in the crisping wave, 
on the surface of some vast unfathomable 
sea. 

7 



In reading biographies of illustrious person- 
ages, Hugh was often interested and surprised 
to compare the pictures of undergraduate life 
drawn there with his own experience of that 
period. They were generally related in the 
form of reminiscences, seen far-off, at the end 
of a long perspective of years. It was gener- 
ally represented as a period of high enthusiasm, 
intense energy, eager work, unclouded happi- 
ness. The perception of great problems, noble 
thoughts, seemed in these reminiscences to 
have fallen on chivalrous minds with a deep 
natural joy. They recorded hours of match- 
less talk, ingenuous debate, brilliant wit, scin- 
tillating intellect. Hugh liked to believe that 
this was the case, but he often wondered 
whether it was not all heightened by retro- 
spect, and whether the radiance of the whole 
picture was not merely the radiance of recol- 
lected youth. If the picture was a true one, 
then the later years of the men whose lives 
were thus told, of whom more than one were 
98 



Retrospect 99 

known personally to Hugh, must have been 
years of sad physical and mental decline. 
There was one person in particular, an eminent 
ecclesiastic, who had been a frequent guest at 
his father's house, in whom Hugh had never 
discovered any particular swiftness of percep- 
tion, of agility of mind, yet the reminiscences 
of whose undergraduate years were given in a 
vein of high enthusiasm. This worthy clergy, 
man had seemed, if his memory was to be 
trusted, to have been the shining centre of a 
group whose life threw the life of young Ath- 
ens, as represented by Plato, into the shade. 
The man in question seemed, in later years, 
a sturdily built clergyman, slow and cautious 
of speech, brusque and even grim of address, 
sensible, devoted to commonplace activities, 
and with a due appreciation of the comforts 
and conveniences of life. His conversation 
had no suggestiveness or subtlety. He was 
grumpy in the morning and good-humoured in 
the evening. He seemed impatient of new 
ideas, and endowed with a firm grasp of con- 
ventional and obvious notions. 

Hugh's own recollection of his university days 
was very different, and yet he had lived in what 
might be called an intellectual set. There had 
been plenty of easy friendship, abundance of 
lively gossip, incessant and rather tedious fes- 



loo Beside Still Waters 

tivities. Men had groaned and grumbled over 
their work, played games with hearty conviction, 
had nourished no great illusions about them- 
selves and each other, had had few generous and 
ardent visions about art, poetry, or humanity ; 
or, if they had, they had kept them to them- 
selves with a very good show of contented 
indifference. There was indeed a little society 
to which Hugh had belonged, where books, and 
not very recondite ideas, of ethical or moral 
import, were discussed freely and amiably, with- 
out affectation, and occasionally with a certain 
amount of animation. But the arguments en- 
gendered were flimsy, inconsequent, and fan- 
tastic enough ; the dialectic flashed to and fro, 
never very convincing, and mostly intended to 
aggravate rather than to persuade. Even at 
the time it had often appeared to Hugh to be 
shallow and flimsy. He had seldom heard a sub- 
ject debated with any thoroughness or justice, 
and he had learned far more from the preparation 
of occasional papers framed to initiate a discus- 
sion, than from any discussion that followed. 
The best thoughts that Hugh had apprehended 
in those days had been the thoughts that he had 
won from books ; his mind had opened rapidly 
then, in the direction of a kind of poetical meta- 
physic, not deep speculation on the ultimate 
nature of things, so much as reflection on the 



Mental Progress loi 

more psychological problems of character and 
personality. It seemed to Hugh that his own 
mind, and the minds of those with whom he had 
lived, had been a mass of prejudices, of half- 
formed and inconsistent theories. None of 
them had had any policy into which they fitted 
the ideas that came to them ; but a new and 
attractive idea had been seized upon, on its own 
merits, without any reference to other theories, 
or with any desire to co-ordinate it with other 
ideas, which were indeed just thrust aside to 
make room for the new one. 

Hugh's idea of mental progress, in his later 
years, was the slow dwelling upon some thought, 
the quiet application of it to other thoughts. It 
seemed an inversion of the ordinary method of 
progress, if the biographies that he read were 
true. Taking the case, for instance, of the par- 
ticular man whom Hugh had known, and whose 
biography he had studied, he seemed in youth 
to have been generous, fearless, candid, and 
ardent, and life must have been to him a process 
of hardening and encrusting with prejudice ; he 
seemed to have begun with a bright faith in 
ideas, and to have ended with a dull belief in 
organisations. He had begun by being thrilled 
with the beauty of virtue, and he had ended by 
supporting the G.F.S. Hugh's experience was 
the exact opposite of this. He had begun, he 



I02 Beside Still Waters 

thought, by being loaded and burdened with 
prejudices and stupid notions, acquired he knew 
not how; he had not doubted the value of 
authority, tradition, usage ; as life went on, it 
seemed to him, that he had got rid of his pre- 
judices one by one, and that he had arrived, at 
the age of forty, at valuing sincerity, sympathy, 
simplicity, and candour above dogma and ac- 
cumulated beliefs. He had begun with a firm 
faith in systems and institutions ; he had ended 
by basing all his hopes on the individual. He 
had begun by looking for beauty and perfection 
wherever he was told to expect it ; if he had 
not discerned it, he had blamed his own dulness 
of perception. It had been a heavy and soulless 
business ; and thfe real freshness of life, intel- 
lectual curiosity, mental independence seemed 
to have come to him in fullest measure, just 
at the age when most men seemed to have 
parted with those qualities. As an under- 
graduate, he had been more aware of fitfulness 
and weariness than anything ; only gradually 
had he become conscious of concentration, 
sustained zest, intention. Then he had tend- 
ed to condemn enthusiasm as a species of 
defective manners. Now he lived by its 
steady light. Then he had been at the mercy 
of a new idea, an attractive personality. He 
shuddered to think how easily he had made 



Renewal of Youth 103 

friendships, and how contemptuously he had 
broken them the moment he was disappointed. 
Now he weighed and tested more ; but at the 
same time he also opened his heart and his 
thoughts far more deliberately and frankly to 
sympathetic and generous people. 

Hugh seemed to have found rather than to 
have lost his youth. His actual youth, indeed, 
seemed to him to have been a tremulous thing, 
full of fears and sensibilities, feminine, unbal- 
anced, frivolous. Life had so far been to Hugh 
pure gain. Looking back he saw himself irreso- 
lute, vague, sentimental, incapable of applica- 
tion, unmethodical, half-hearted. He had had 
none of the buoyancy, the splendid dreams, 
the sparkling ambitions that seemed, according 
to the records, to have been the stuff of great 
men's youth. 

He sat one day in the ante-chapel of his old 
college, through a morning service, listening, 
as in a dream, to the sweet singing within ; it 
seemed but a day since he had sat in his stall, 
a fitful-hearted boy. The service ended, and 
the procession streamed out, the rich tints of 
the windows lighting up the faces and the white 
surplices of the men, old and young, that issued 
from the dark door of the screen, Hugh felt 
within himself that he would not have the old 
days back again even if he could ; he was no- 



I04 Beside Still Waters 

thing but grateful for the balance, the serenity, 
that life had brought him. He was conscious 
of greater strength, undimmed energy, increased 
zest ; faltering indeed he was still, not better, 
not more unselfish ; but he had a sense of truer 
values, more proportion, more contentment. 
The mysteries of life were as dark as ever, but 
at least he no longer thought that he had 
the key ; in those days his little rickety system 
of life, that trembled in every breeze, had 
seemed for him to bridge all gaps, to explain 
all mysteries. Now, indeed, chaos stretched all 
about him, full of huge mists, dark chasms, hid- 
den echoes ; but he perceived something of its 
vastness and immensity ; he had broken down 
the poor frail fences of his soul, and was in 
contact with reality. He did not doubt that 
he seemed to the younger generation an elderly 
and sombre personage, stumbling down the 
dark descent of life, with youth and brightness 
behind him ; but that descent appeared to him- 
self to be rather an upward-rising road, over 
dim mountains, the air glowing about him with 
some far-off sunrise. Poetry, art, religion — 
they meant a thousand-fold more to him than 
they had meant in the old days. They had 
been pretty melodies, deft tricks of hand, choice 
toys then. Now they were exultations, agonies, 
surrenders, triumphs. The prospect of life had 



The New Energy 105 

been to him in those days like misty ranges, 
full of threatening precipices and dumb valleys 
in which no foot had trod. Now he saw from the 
hill-brow, a broad and goodly land full of wood 
and pasture, clustered hamlets, glittering, smoke- 
wrapt towns, rivers widening to the sea ; the 
horizons closed by the blue hills of hope, from 
which life and love, and even death itself, 
seemed to wave hands of welcome ere they 
dipped to the unseen. He blessed God for 
that ; and best of all he had no desire, as he 
had had in the old days, to be understood, to 
be felt, to claim a place, to exercise an influence. 
He had put all that aside ; his only concern 
was now to step as swiftly, as strongly as possi- 
ble, upon the path that opened before him, 
caring little whether it led on to grassy moor- 
lands, or sheltered valleys full of wood, or even 
to the towered walls of some strong city of God. 



XI 



Hugh, in his leisure, determined to try if he 
could set his mind at rest on one point, a ques- 
tion that had always exercised a certain attrac- 
tion over him. This was to make himself 
acquainted with some technical philosophy, or 
at any rate to try and see what the philosophers 
were doing. He had not, he was aware, a mind 
suited for the pursuit of metaphysics ; he had 
little logical faculty and little power of deduc- 
tion ; he tended to view a question at bright 
and radiant points ; he could not systematise or 
arrange it. He did not expect to be able to 
penetrate the mystery, or to advance step by 
step nearer to the dim and ultimate causes of 
things ; but he thought he would like to look 
into the philosophers' workshop, as a man 
might visit a factory. He expected to see a 
great many processes going on the nature of 
which he did not hope to discern, and the object 
of which would be made still more obscure by 
the desperately intelligent explanations of some 
obliging workman, who would glibly use tech- 
io6 



Platonism 107 

nical words to which he would himself be able 
to attach no sort of meaning. 

But after a few excursions into modern philo- 
sophy, in which he seemed, as Tennyson said, 
to be wading as in a sea of glue, he went back 
to the earliest philosophers and read Aristotle 
and Plato. He soon conceived a great horror 
of Aristotle, of his subtle and ingenious analy- 
sis, which often seemed to him to be an attempt 
to define the undefinable, and never to touch 
the point of the matter at all ; he thought that 
Aristotle was often occupied in the scientific 
treatment of essentially poetical ideas, and in 
the attempt to classify rather than to explain. 
Yet there were moments, it seemed to him, 
when Aristotle, writing with a kind of grim 
contempt for the vagueness of Plato, was carried 
off his feet by the Platonic enthusiasm ; and so 
Hugh turned to Plato which he had scrambled 
through as an undergraduate long years before. 
How incomparably beautiful it was ! It reveal- 
ed to Hugh what he had before only dimly 
suspected, that the poet, the moralist, the priest, 
the philosopher, and even the man of science, 
were all in reality engaged in the same task — 
penetrating the vast and bewildering riddle of 
the world. In Plato he found the philosophical 
method- suffused by a burning poetical imagina- 
tion ; and he thought that Plato solved far more 



io8 Beside Still Waters 

metaphysical riddles by a species of swift in- 
tuition than ever could be done by the closest 
analysis. He realised that Plato's theory was of 
a great, central, motionless entity, which acted 
not by expulsive energy but by a sort of mag- 
netic attraction ; and that all the dreams, the 
hopes, the activities of human minds were not 
the ripples of some central outward-speeding 
force, but the irresistible inner motion, as to the 
loadstone or the vortex, which made itself felt 
through the whole universe, material and im- 
material alike. The intense desire to know, to 
solve, to improve, to gain a tranquil balance of 
thought, was nothing more, Hugh perceived, 
than this inward-drawing impulse, calling rather 
than coercing men to aspire to its own supreme 
serenity ; all our ideas of what was pure and 
beautiful and true, then, were the same vast 
centripetal force, moving silently inward ; all 
our sorrows, our mistakes, our sufferings, were 
but the checking of that overpowering influ- 
ence ; and any rest was impossible till we had 
drawn nearer to the central peace. This 
seemed to Hugh to be not a theory but an in- 
tensely inspiring and practical thought. How 
light-hearted, how brave a secret ! Instead of 
desiring that all should be made plain at once, 
one could rejoice in the thought that one 
was certainly speeding homewards ; and ex- 



Platonism 109 

perience was no longer a blind conflict of 
forces, but a joyful Hearing of the central 
sum of things. At all events, what a blithe- 
ness, what a zest it gave to the genius of 
Plato himself ! With what eager inquisitive- 
ness, in a sort of a childlike gaiety, he hurried 
hither and thither, catching at every point some 
bright indication of the delightful mystery- 
Plato seemed to differ from the serious and 
preoccupied philosophers in this, that while 
they were lost in a grave and anxious scrutiny 
of phenomena, he was rather penetrated by the 
cheerfulness, the romance of the whole business. 
The intense personal emotions, which to the 
analytical philosophers seemed mere distracting 
elements, experiences to be forgotten, crushed, 
and left behind, were to Plato supreme mani- 
festations of the one desire. One desired in 
others what one desired in God ; the sense of 
admiration, the longing for sympathy the de- 
sire that no close embrace, no passionate glance 
could satisfy, these were but deep yearnings 
after the perfect sympathy, the perfect under- 
standing of God. And thus when Plato 
appeared most to be trifling with a subject, 
to be turning it over and over as a man 
may turn about a crystal in his hands, watch- 
ing the lights blend and flash and separate 
on the polished facets, he was really draw- 



no Beside Still Waters 

ing nearer to the truth, absorbing its delicious 
radiance and sweetness. Those sunny morn- 
ings, spent in strolling and talking, in col- 
onnade or garden, in that imperishable 
Athens, seemed to Hugh like the talk of 
saints in some celestial city. Saints not of 
heavy and pious rectitude, conventional in pos- 
ture and dreary in mind, but souls to whom 
love and laughter, pathos and sorrow, were alike 
sweet. Instead of approaching life with a sense 
of its gravity, its heinousness, its complexity, 
timid of joy and emotion and delight, practising 
sadness and solemnity, Plato and his followers 
began at the other end, and with an irrepressible 
optimism believed that joy was conquering and 
not being conquered, that light was in the as- 
cendant, rippling outwards and onwards. And 
then the supreme figure of all, whether imagi- 
nary or not mattered little, Socrates himself, 
with what a joyful soberness and gravity did 
he move forward through experience, never 
losing his balance, but serenely judging all 
till the moment came for him to enter be. 
hind the dark veil of death ; and this he did 
with the same imperturbable good-humour, 
neither lingering nor hasting, but with a tran- 
quil confidence that life was beginning rather 
than ending. 

And then Hugh saw in a flash that the essence 



The Pauline Gospel 1 1 1 

of the Gospel itself was like that. When he 
read the sacred record in the light of Plato, it 
seemed to him as if it must in some subtle way 
be pervaded by the same bright intuitions as 
those which lit up the Greek mind. It seemed 
to Hugh a strange and bewildering thing that 
the pure message of simplicity and love, with 
its tender waiting upon God, its delight in 
flowers and hills, its love of great ideas, its rich 
poetry, its perfect art, had taken on the gloomy 
metaphysical tinge that St. Paul, with all his 
genius, had contrived to communicate to it. 
Surely it was intolerable to believe that all 
those subtle notions of sacrificial satisfaction, 
of justification, of substitution, had ever crossed 
the Saviour's mind at all. In a sense He ful- 
filled the Law and the Prophets, for they had 
laid down, in grief and doubt, a harsh code of 
morality, because they saw no other way of 
leavening the conscience of the world. But 
the Saviour, at least in the simple records, had 
not trafficked in such thoughts; He had but 
shown the significance of the primary emotions, 
had taught humanity that it was free as air, 
dear to the heart of God, heir of a goodly in- 
heritance of love and care. St. Paul was a man 
of burning ardour, but had he not made the 
mistake of trying to lend too intellectual, too 
erudite, too complicated a colour to it all? 



112 Beside Still Waters 

The essence of the Gospel seemed to be that man 
should not be bound by the tradition of men ; 
but St. Paul had been so intent upon drawing 
in those to whom tradition was dear, that in 
trying to harmonise the new with the old, he 
had made concessions and developed doctrines 
that had detrimentally affected Christianity 
ever since, and gone near to cast it in a different 
mould. Of course there was a certain con- 
tinuity in religion, a development. But St. 
Paul was so deeply imbued with Rabbinical 
methods and Jewish tradition, that in his splen- 
did attempt to show that Christianity was the 
fulfilment of the Law, he had deeply infected 
the pure stream with Jewish ideas. The essence 
of Christianity was meant to be a tabula rasa. 
Christ bade men trust their deepest and widest 
intuitions, their sense of dependence upon God, 
their consciousness of divine origin. In this 
respect the teaching of Christ had more in 
common with the teaching of Plato, than the 
doctrine of St. Paul with the doctrine of Christ. 
Christ was concerned with the future, St. Paul 
with the past; Christ was concerned with re- 
ligious instinct, St. Paul with religious develop- 
ment. The strength of the Gospel of Christ 
was that it depended rather on the poetical 
and emotional consciousness of religion, and 
thus made its appeal to the majority of the 



The Gospel and Plato 113 

human race. Plato, on the other hand, was 
too intellectual, and a perception of his doctrine 
was hardly possible except to a man of subtle 
and penetrating ability. Hugh wondered if it 
would be possible to put the doctrine of Plato 
in such a light that it would appeal to simple 
people ; he thought that it would be possible ; 
and here he was struck by the fact that Plato, 
like Christ, employed the device of the parable 
largely as a means of interpreting religious 
ideas. The teaching of the Gospel and the 
teaching of Plato were alike deeply idealistic. 
They both depended upon the simple idea 
that men could conceive of themselves as 
better than they actually were, and upon the 
fact that such a conception is the strongest 
motive force in the world in the direction of 
self-improvement. The mystery of conversion 
is nothing more than the conscious apprehen- 
sion of the fact that one's life is meant to be 
noble and beautiful, and that one has the 
power to make it nobler and more beautiful 
than it is. 

It seemed to Hugh, reflecting on the de- 
velopment of Christianity, that perhaps it was 
not too much to say that the Pauline influence 
had been to a great extent a misfortune ; it was 
true that in a sense he had resisted the Jewish 
tyranny, and moreover that his writings were 



1 14 Beside Still Waters 

full of splendid aphorisms, inspiring thoughts, 
generous ideals. But he had formalised Christ- 
ianity for all that ; he had linked it closely to 
the Judaic system ; he was ultimately respon- 
sible for Puritanism ; that is to say, it was his 
influence more than any other that had given 
the Jewish Scriptures their weight in the Christ- 
ian scheme. It seemed to Hugh to be a ter- 
rible calamity that he had reserved, so to speak, 
a place in the chariot of Christ for the Jewish 
dispensation ; it was the firm belief in the vital 
inspiration of the Jewish Scriptures that had 
produced that harsh and grim type of Christ- 
ianity so dear to the Puritan heart. With the 
exception of certain of the Psalms, certain por- 
tions of Job and of the Prophets, there seemed 
to Hugh to be little in the Old Testament that 
did not merely hamper and encumber the re- 
ligion of Christ. What endless and inextricable 
difificulties arose from trying to harmonise the 
conception of the Father as preached by 
Christ, with the conception of the vindictive, 
wrathful, national, local Deity of the Old Tes- 
tament. How little countenance did Christ 
ever give to that idea ! He did not even think 
of the Temple as a house of sacrifice, but as a 
house of prayer ! How seldom He alluded to the 
national history! How human and temporary 
a character He gave to the Law of Moses ! How 



The Harmony 115 

constantly He appealed to personal rather than 
to national aspirations! How He seemed to 
insist upon the fact that every man must make 
his religion out of the simplest elements of 
moral consciousness ! How often He appealed 
to the poetry of symbols rather than to the 
effectiveness of ceremony ! How little claim 
He laid, at least in the Synoptic Gospels, to 
any divinity, and then rather in virtue of His 
perfect humanity ! He called Himself the Son 
of Man ; in the only recorded prayer He gave 
to His disciples, there was no hint that prayer 
should be directed to Himself ; it was all centred 
upon the Father. 

Here again the Aristotelian method, the de- 
light in analysis, the natural human desire to 
make truth precise and complete, had intruded 
itself. What was the Athanasian creed but an 
Aristotelian formula, making a hard dogma out 
of a dim mystery ? The outcome of it all for 
Hugh was the resolution that for himself, at all 
events, his business was to disregard tempta- 
tion to formularise his position. With one's 
limited vision, one's finite inability to touch a 
thought at more than one point at a time, one 
must give up all hope of attaining to a per- 
fected philosophical system. The end was dark, 
the solution incomprehensible. He must rather 
live as far as possible in a high and lofty emo- 



ii6 Beside Still Waters 

tion, beholding the truth by hints and glimpses, 
pursuing as far as possible all uplifting intuitions, 
all free and generous desires. It was useless 
to walk in a prescribed path, to frame one's life 
on the model of another's ideal. He must be 
open-minded, ready to revise his principles in 
the light of experience. He must hold fast to 
what brought him joy and peace. How restful 
after all it was to know that one had one's own 
problem, one's own conditions ! All that was 
necessary was to put one's self firmly and con- 
stantly in harmony with the great purpose that 
had set one exactly where one was, and given 
one a temperament, a character ; good and evil 
desires, hopes, longings, temptations, aspira- 
tions. One could not escape from them, thank 
God. If one only desired God's will, one's sins 
and sufferings as well as one's hopes and joys 
all worked together to a far-off end. One must 
go straight forward, in courage and' patience 
and love. 



XII 

Hugh made friends at Cambridge with a 
young Roman Catholic priest, who was working 
there. 

His new friend was a very simple-minded 
man ; he seemed to Hugh the only man of 
great gifts he had ever known, who was abso- 
lutely untouched by any shadow of worldliness. 
Hugh knew of men who resisted the temptations 
of the world very successfully, to whom indeed 
they were elementary temptations, long since 
triumphed over; but this man was the only 
man he had ever known who was gifted with 
qualities that commanded the respect and ad- 
miration of the world, yet to whom the tempta- 
tions of ambition and success seemed never to 
have appeared even upon the distant horizon. 
He was an interesting talker, a fine preacher, 
and a very accomplished writer ; but his interest 
was entirely centred upon his work, and not upon 
the rewards of it. He was very poor ; but he 
had no regard for anything — luxury, power, 
position — that the world could give him. He 

117 



ii8 Beside Still Waters 

had no wish to obtain influence ; he only cared 
to make the work on which he was engaged as 
perfect as he could. The man was really an 
artist pure and simple ; he seemed to have little 
taste for pastoral work. 

One day they sat together, on a hot breath- 
less afternoon, in a college garden, on a seat 
beneath some great shady chestnut-trees, and 
looked out lazily upon the heavy-seeded grass 
of the meadow and the bright flower borders. 
The priest said to Hugh suddenly, " I have 
often wondered what your religion really is. 
Do you mind my speaking of it ? You seem to 
me exactly the sort of man who needs a strong 
and definite faith to make him happy." 

Hugh smiled and said, "Well, I am try- 
ing, not very successfully I fear, to find out 
what I really do believe. I am trying to 
construct my faith from the bottom ; and I 
am anxious not to put into the foundations 
any faulty stones, anything that I have not 
really tested." 

" That is a very good thing to do," said the 
priest. " But how are you setting to work ? " 

" Well," said Hugh, " I have never had time 
before to think my religion out ; I seem to have 
accepted all kinds of loose ideas and shaky tra- 
ditions. I want to arrive at some certainties ; 
I try to apply a severe intellectual test to 



Sacrifice 119 

everything : and the result is that I seem 
obliged to discard one thing after another that 
I once believed." 

" Perhaps," said the priest after a silence, 
" you are doing this too drastically ? Religion, 
it seems to me, has to be apprehended in a dif- 
ferent region, the mystical region, the region 
of intuition rather than logic." 

" Yes," said Hugh, " and intuitions are what 
one practically lives by ; but I think that they 
ought to be able to stand an intellectual test 
too — for, after all, it is only intellectually that 
one can approach them." 

The priest shook his head at this, with a half- 
smile. And Hugh added, " I wish you would 
give me a short sketch, in a few words if you can, 
of how you reached your present position." 

"That is not very easy," said the priest; 
"but I will try." He sat for a moment silent, 
and then he said, " When one looks back into 
antiquity, before the coming of Christ, one sees 
a general searching after God in the world ; 
the one idea that seems to run through all 
religions, is the idea of sacrifice — a coarse and 
brutal idea originally, perhaps ; but the essence 
of it is that there is such a thing as sinfulness, 
and such a thing as atonement ; and that only 
through death can life be reached. The Jews 
came nearest to the idea of a personal God : 



I20 Beside Still Waters 

and the sacrificial system is seen in its fullest 
perfection with them. Then, in the wise coun- 
sels of God, it came about that our Saviour 
was born a Jew. You will say that I beg the 
question here ; but approaching the subject 
intellectually, one satisfies one's self that the 
purest and completest religion that the world 
has ever seen was initiated by Him ; it is im- 
possible, in the light of that religion, not to feel 
that one must give the greatest weight to the 
credentials which such a teacher put forward ; 
and we find that the claim that He made was 
that He was Himself Very God. The moment 
that one realises that, one also realises that 
there is no primd facie impossibility that God 
should so reveal Himself — for indeed it seems 
an idea which no human mind would dare to 
originate, except in a kind of insane delusion ; 
and the teaching of Christ, His utter modesty 
and meekness, His perfect sanity and clear- 
sightedness, make it evident to me that we may 
put out of court the possibility that He was 
under the influence of a delusion. He, it seems 
to me, took all the old vague ideas of sacrifice 
and consummated them ; He showed that the 
true spirit was there, hidden under the ancient 
sacrifices ; that one must offer one's best freely 
to God ; and in this spirit He gave Himself to 
suffering and death. He founded a society with 



The Church 121 

a definite constitution ; He provided it with 
certain simple rules, and said that, when He 
was gone it would be inspired and developed 
by the workings of His Spirit. He left this 
society as a witness in the world ; it has de- 
veloped in many ways, holding its own, gain- 
ing strength, winning adherents in a marvellous 
manner. And I look upon the Church as the 
witness to God in the world ; I accept its de- 
velopments as the developments of the Spirit. 
I see many things in it which I cannot compre- 
hend; but then the whole world is full of myste- 
ries — and the mysteries of the Church I accept in 
a tranquil faith. I have put it, I fear, very clum- 
sily and awkwardly ; but that is the outline of 
my belief — and it seems to me to interpret the 
world and its secrets, not perfectly indeed, but 
more perfectly than any other theory." 

" I see ! " said Hugh, " but I will tell you at 
once my initial difficulty. I grant at the out- 
set that the teaching of Christ is the purest and 
best religious teaching that the world has ever 
seen ; but I look upon Him, not as the founder 
of a system, but as the most entire individual- 
ist that the world has ever known. It seems to 
me that all His teaching was directed to the 
end that we should believe in God as a loving 
Father, and regard all men as brothers; the 
principle which was to direct His followers was 



122 Beside Still Waters 

to be the principle of perfect love, and I think 
that His idea was that, if men could accept 
that, everything else mattered little. They 
must live their lives with that intuition to guide 
them ; the Church seems to me but the human 
spoiling and complicating of that great simple 
idea. I look round and see other religious 
systems of the world — Mohammedanism, Bud- 
dhism, and the rest. In each I see a man of 
profound religious ideals, whose system has 
been adopted, and then formalised and vitiated 
by his followers. I do not see that there is 
anything to make me believe that the same 
process has not taken place in Christianity. 
The elaborate system of dogma and doctrine 
seems to me a perfectly natural human process 
of trying to turn ideas, essentially poetical, into 
definite and scientific truths, and half its errors to 
arise from feeling the necessity of reconciling 
and harmonising ideas, which I have described 
as poetical, which were never meant to be re- 
conciled or harmonised. And then there is the 
added difificulty that, owing to the system of 
the Church, the ideas of the earliest Christian 
teachers, like St. Paul, have been accepted as 
infallible too ; and hence arises the dilemma of 
having to bring into line a whole series of state- 
ments, made, as in St. Paul's case, by a man of 
intense emotion, which are neither consistent 



Christianity 123 

with each other, nor, in all cases, with the 
teaching of Christ. My idea of Christianity 
is to get as close to Christ's own teaching as 
possible. I do not concern myself with the 
historical accuracy of the Gospel narratives, 
or even with the incidents there recorded. 
Those records are the work of men of very 
imperfect education, and feeble intellectual 
grasp, in the grip of the prejudices and be- 
liefs of their age. But their very imperfection 
makes me feel more strongly tHe august per- 
sonality of Christ, because the principles, 
which they represent Him as maintaining, 
seem to me to be entirely beyond anything 
that they could themselves have originated. 
It seems to me, if I discern Christ rightly — 
speaking of Him now purely as a man — that 
if He could return to the earth, and be con- 
fronted with the system of any of the Churches 
that bear His name, He would declare it to 
be all a horrible mistake. It seems to me that 
what He aimed at was a strictly individualistic 
system, an attitude of sincerity, simplicity, 
and loving-kindness, free from all formalism 
(which He seems to have detested above every- 
thing), and free, too, from all elaborate and 
metaphysical dogma. Instead of this, He would 
find that men had seized upon the letter, not 
the spirit, of His teaching, and had devised a 



124 Beside Still Waters 

huge mundane organisation, full of pomp and 
policy, elaborate, severe, hard, unloving. Now 
if I apply my intellectual tests to the central 
truths of Christianity, such as the law of Love, 
the power of self-sacrifice, the brotherhood of 
men, they stand the test ; they seem to contain 
a true apprehension of the needs of the world, 
of the methods by which the happiness of hu- 
manity may be attained. But when I apply 
the intellectual test to the superstructure of any 
Church, there are innumerable doctrines which 
appear to me to be contrary to reason. It is 
difficult indeed, in this world of mystery, to 
affirm that any mystical claim is not true, but 
such claims ought not to appear to be repug- 
nant to reason, but to confirm the processes 
of reason, in a region to which reason cannot 
scientifically and logically attain. Such doc- 
trines, for instance, as prayers to saints for 
their intercession, or the efficacy of masses for 
the dead, seem to me to have a certain poetical 
beauty about them, but to be contrary both to 
reason and experience. I do not see the slight- 
est hint of them in the teaching of Christ, or 
anything which can be taken as giving them 
any support whatever. They seem to me 
purely human fancies, hardened into a pain- 
ful mechanical form, which forfeit all claim 
to be inspired by the Spirit of Christ. But 



Christianity 125 

I must apologise for giving you such an 
liarangue — still, you brought it on yourself." 

The priest smiled quietly. " I quite see your 
point," he said, " and we are at one in your main 
position ; the difficulty of the Church is that it 
has to organise its system for people of all kinds 
of temperament, and at all stages of develop- 
ment. But the spirit is there — and if one lets go 
of the letter, the grasp of many human beings 
is so weak that they tend to lose the spirit. The 
Church no doubt appears to many to be over- 
organised, over-definite, but that is a practical 
difficulty which every system which has to deal 
with large masses of people is confronted with. 
It is the same with education ; boys have to do 
many definite and precise things which seem at 
the time to have no educational value ; but at 
the end of their time they see the need of these 
processes." 

Hugh laughed. " I wish they did ! " he said ; 
" my own belief is that, in education as well as 
in religion, we want more individualism, more 
elasticity. I think it is very doubtful whether 
great ideas, rigidly interpreted and mechanically 
enforced, have any value at all for undeveloped 
minds ; the whole secret lies in their being liber- 
ally and freely apprehended." 

" What really divides us," said the priest — 
" and I do not think we are very far apart — is 



126 Beside Still Waters 

my belief that God has not left the world with- 
out a definite witness to Himself — which I be- 
lieve the Church to be." 

" Yes," said Hugh, " I believe that the Church 
is a witness to God : any system which teaches 
pure morality is that ; but I could not limit His 
witness to a single system ; Nature, beauty, 
music, poetry, art — to say nothing of sweet and 
kindly persons — they are all the witnesses of 
His spirit ; and the Church is, in my belief, 
simply hampered and restricted from doing 
what she might, by the woful rigidity, the 
mechanical and hard precision, which she has 
imported into the spiritual region. The mo- 
ment that the liberty of the spirit is restricted, 
and grace is made to flow in definite traditional 
channels, that moment the stream loses its force 
and brightness." 

"I should rather believe," said the priest, 
"that, with all the obvious disadvantages of 
organisation, left to itself, the stream welters 
into a shapeless marsh, instead of making glad 
the City of God ! And may I say that you, and 
those like you, with ardent spiritual instincts, 
make the mistake of thinking that we exclude 
you ; indeed it is not so. You would find the 
yoke as easy and the burden as light as ever. 
In submission you would gain and not lose the 
liberty of which you are in search." 



Certainty 127 

The priest soon after this took his leave. 
Hugh sat long pondering, as the evening faded 
into dusk. Was there no certainty, then, at- 
tainable ? And the answer of his own spirit was 
that no ready-made certainty was of avail ; that 
a man must begin from the beginning, and con- 
struct his own faith from the foundation ; that 
reason must play its part, lead the soul as far 
as it could, and set it in the right way ; but that 
the spirit must not halt there, but pass courage- 
ously and serenely into the tractless waste, 
content, if need be, to make mistakes, to retrace 
its path, only sincerely and gently advancing, 
waiting for any hint that might fall from the 
Divine Spirit, interpreting rather than selecting, 
divesting itself of preferences and prejudices 
one by one, and conscious that One waited, 
smiling and encouraging, but a little ahead 
upon the road, and that any turn in the path 
might reveal his bright coming to the faithful 
eye. 



XIII 

The charm of the Cambridge life was to 
Hugh the alternation of society and solitude. 
He was soon fortunate enough to obtain a post 
at his old college, and to be allotted a set of 
rooms there. He was sociably enough inclined, 
and the stir and movement of the minute soci- 
ety was interesting and enlivening. He had a 
little definite work to do, and he tried to culti- 
vate relations with every one in the college. 
It was pleasant that he had no connection with 
disciplinary matters; and thus he was able to 
enter into a friendly intercourse with the under- 
graduates, not checked or hampered by any 
necessity to find fault or to offer advice. He 
occupied his rooms during term-time, and lived 
the life of the college with quiet enjoyment. 
But he retained his little house as well, and 
when the vacation began, he retired there, and 
spent his days much in solitude. He preferred 
this indeed to the life of the college, but he 
was well aware that it owed half its pleasure to 
its being an interlude in the busier life. But 
128 



Waiting for Light 129 

it was thus that what he felt were his best 
thoughts came to him ; thoughts, that is to say, 
that pierced below the surface, and had a qual- 
ity of reality which his mind, when he was 
employed and full of schemes, often seemed to 
himself to lack. But, like all speculative peo- 
ple who spend much time in solitary thought, 
he seemed to himself very soon to cross the 
debatable ground in which people of definite 
religious views appeared to him to linger gladly. 
Here he left behind all the persons who de- 
pended upon systems. Here remained Roman 
Catholics, who depended chiefly upon the 
authority and tradition of the Church, and Pro- 
testants depending no less blindly and compla- 
cently upon the authority of the Bible. The 
real and crucial difficulty lay further on ; and it 
was simply this : he saw a world full of joy, and 
full too of suffering ; sometimes one of his fel- 
low-pilgrims would be stricken down with some 
incurable malady, and through slow gradations 
of pain, sink wretchedly to death ; was this suf- 
fering remedial, educative, benevolent? He 
hoped it was, he believed that it was, in the 
sense, at least, that he could not bear to feel 
that it might not be ; but however ardently and 
eagerly he might try to believe it, there was 
always the dark alternative that pain might not 
be either remedial or educative ; there was the 



I30 Beside Still Waters 

terrible possibility that identity and personal 
consciousness were absolutely extinguished by 
death , for there was no sort of evidence to 
the contrary ; and if this was the case, what 
remained of all human belief, philosophies, 
and creeds ? They might simply be beautiful 
dreams, adorable mistakes, exquisite fallacies : 
but they could supply no inspiration for life, 
unless there was an element of absolute cer- 
tainty about them, which was just the element 
that they lacked ; and, in any case, the sad fact 
that such certainties as men professed differed 
from and even contradicted each other, intro- 
duced a new bewilderment upon the scene, A 
Romanist maintained the absolute divinity of 
the Church; a Protestant maintained the abso- 
lute reliability of the Bible; both of these 
could not be true, because in many points they 
contravened each other; the authority of the 
Church contradicted the authority of the Bible, 
while neither was perfectly consistent even with 
itself. They could not both be true, and Hugh 
was forced to believe that the point in which 
they were both in error was in their claim to 
any absolute certainty at all. The conclusion 
seemed to be that one must take refuge in a 
perfect sincerity, not formulate one's hopes as 
beliefs, but wait for light, and keep the eyes of 
the mind open to all indications of any kind — 



Waiting for Light 131 

that one must, in the words of the old wise 
proverb, be ready to begin one's life afresh 
many times, in the light of any new knowledge, 
any hint of truth. And thus one kind of hap- 
piness became impossible for Hugh, the happi- 
ness that comes of absolute certainty, when 
one may take a thing for granted, and not 
argue any more about it ; that was the sort of 
happiness which many of his friends seemed to 
him to attain ; and if life did indeed end with 
death, it was probably the best practical sys- 
tem to adopt ; but Hugh could not adopt it ; 
and therefore the only happiness he. could 
expect was a candid and patient waiting upon 
truth, a welcoming of any new experience with 
a balanced and eager mind. To some a human 
love, a human passion, seemed the one satisfy- 
ing thing, but this was denied to Hugh and 
the only thing in his life which was of the 
nature of a passion was the sight of the beauti- 
ful world about him, which appealed to him 
day by day with a hundred delicate surprises, 
unnumbered novelties of rapture. He realised 
that the one thing that he dreaded was a cold 
tranquillity, uncheered by hope, unresponsive 
to beauty. 

He rode one day, in the height of summer, 
for miles across the fenland. To left and right 
lay the huge plain with its wide fields, its soli- 



132 Beside Still Waters 

tary trees; to his left, between grassy flood- 
banks, ran the straight reedy river, full to-day 
of the little yellow water-lily, golden stars ris- 
ing from the cool floating leaves ; far ahead ran 
a low wooded ridge, with house-roofs clustering 
round a fantastic church tower, with a crown 
of pinnacles. Cattle grazed peacefully, and 
the whole scene was brimful of sweet passion- 
less life, ineffable content. If he could only 
have shared it! Yet the sight of it all filled 
him with a sweet hopefulness ; he travelled on, 
a lonely pilgrim, eager and wistful, desiring 
knowledge and love and serenity. He felt that 
they were waiting, certainly waiting ; that they 
were tenderly and wisely withheld. That was 
the nearest that he could come to his heart's 
desire. 



XIV 

It was always a great pleasure to Hugh to ex- 
plore an unfamiliar countryside, and the same 
pleasure was derivable to a certain extent from 
railway travelling, though the vignettes that one 
saw from the windows of a swiftly-rolling train 
were so transitory and so numerous, that one 
had soon the same sense of fatigue that comes 
from turning over a book of photographs, or 
from visiting a picture-gallery. If one explored 
the country in a leisurely manner it was less fa- 
tiguing, because one could taste the savour of a 
sight at one's ease. Hugh came to the conclu- 
sion, as life advanced, that he preferred a land- 
scape on which humanity had set its mark to a 
landscape of a pure, natural wildness, though 
that indeed had a beauty of its own, a more 
solemn beauty, though not so near to the heart. 
But the great red-brick house, peering through 
its sun-blinds, among the flower-beds, with a 
rookery behind in the tall trees of a grove, and 
the cupola of stable-buildings among the shrub- 
beries, that one saw in a flash as the train 
133 



134 Beside Still Waters 

emerged from the low cutting; or the tiled 
roofs of houses, with an old mouldering church- 
tower peering out above them, in a gap between 
green downs; or a quiet manor-house among 
pastures, seen at the close of day when the 
shadows began to lengthen, gave him a sense of 
the long succession of peaceable lives — the boy 
returning from school to the familiar home, or 
the old squire, after a life of pleasant activities, 
walking among the well-known fields, and know- 
ing that he must soon make haste to be gone 
and leave his place for others. There was a 
sense of roma:nce and pathos about it all ; and 
the scenes thus unfolded suddenly before his 
eyes were dear to him because they had been 
dear to others, and stood for so much old tender- 
ness and anxious love. There was always, too, 
a feeling in his mind of how easy, how sweet 
and tranquil, life would be under such condi- 
tions. Seen from outside, certain lives, lived in 
beautiful surroundings and tinged with seemly 
traditions, seemed to have a romantic quality, 
even in their sufferings and sorrows. No 
amount of experience, no accumulation of the 
certainty that life was interwoven with a sordid 
and dreary fibre, seemed ever to dispel this il- 
lusion, just as sorrows and miseries depicted in 
a book or in a drama appeared to have a 
romance about them which, seen from inside, 



Dreariness 135 

they lacked. There were in Hugh's own 
memory a few places and a few houses, where 
by some happy fortune the hours had always 
been touched with this poetical quality, and 
into which no touch of dreariness had ever 
entered. Something of the same romance 
lingered for Hugh over certain of the colleges at 
Cambridge. To wander through their courts, 
to read the mysterious names inscribed over 
unknown doors, to think of the long succession 
of inmates, grave or light-hearted, that lived 
within, either for a happy space of youth, or 
through long quiet years ; this never ceased to 
communicate to him a certain thrill of emotion. 
The only period of his life that seemed to 
Hugh to lack this quality of poetry were the 
years of his official life in London, the years that 
the locust had eaten. He did not grudge hav- 
ing spent them so, for they had given a sort of 
solidity and gravity to life ; but now that he 
was free to live as he chose, he determined that 
he would, if he could, so spend his days, that 
there should be as little as possible of this dull 
and ugly quality intermixed with them ; the 
sadness and incompleteness of countless lives 
seemed to Hugh to arise from the fact that so 
many men settled down to mechanical toil, 
which first robbed them of their freshness, and 
then routine became essential to them. But 



136 Beside Still Waters 

Hugh determined that neither his work nor his 
occupation should have this sunless and dismal 
quality ; that he would deliberately eschew the 
things that brought him dreariness, and the 
people who took a mean and conventional view; 
that he would not take up, in a spirit of heavy 
rectitude, work for which he knew himself to be 
unfit ; and that such mechanical work as he felt 
bound to undertake should be regarded by him 
in the light of a tonic, which should enable him 
to return to his chosen work with a sense of 
gladness and relief. 

This would demand a certain sustained effort, 
he foresaw. But whatever qualities he pos- 
sessed, he knew that he could reckon upon a 
vital impatience of things that were dull and 
common ; moreover it was possible to determine 
that, whatever happened, he would not do things 
in a dull way ; so much depended upon how 
they were handled and executed. One of the 
dullest things in the world was the multiplica- 
tion of unnecessary business. So many people 
made the mistake of thinking that by minute 
organisation the success of a system could be 
guaranteed. Hugh knew that the real secret 
was to select the right personalities, and to leave 
systems elastic and simple, and that thus the 
best results were achieved ; the most depressing 
thing in the world was a dull person administer- 



Romance 137 

ing faithfully an elaborate system ; one of the 
most inspiring sights was an original man mak- 
ing the best of a bad system. 

And so Hugh resolved that he would bring 
to his task, his leisure, his relations with others, 
his exits and entrances, his silence and his 
speech, a freshness and a zest, not directed to 
surprising or interesting others — that was the 
most vulgar expedient of all — but with a de- 
liberate design to transmute, as by the touch 
of the magical stone, the common materials of 
life into pure gold. He would endeavour to 
discern the poetical quality in everything and 
in every one. In inanimate things this was 
easy enough, for they were already full of pun- 
gent distinctness, of subtle difference ; it was 
all there, waiting merely to be discerned. With 
people it was different, because there were so 
many who stared solemnly and impenetrably, 
who repelled one with remarks about the 
weather and the events of the day, as a man 
repels a barge with a pole. With such people 
it would be necessary to try a number of con- 
versational flies over the surface of the sleeping 
pool, in the hope that some impulse, some 
pleasant trait would dart irresistibly to the sur- 
face, and be hauled struggling ashore. Hugh 
had seen, more than once, strange, repressed, 
mournful things looking out of the guarded 



138 Beside Still Waters 

eyes of dreary persons; and it would be his 
business to entice these to the light. He de- 
termined, too, to cultivate the art of being 
alone. There were many people in the world 
who found themselves the poorest of all com- 
pany, and Hugh resolved that he would find 
his own society the most interesting of all ; he 
would not be beaten by life, as so many people 
appeared to him to be. Of course, he knew 
that there were threatening clouds in the sky, 
that in a moment might burst and drench the 
air with driving rain. But Hugh hoped that 
his attitude of curiosity and wonder could find 
food for high-hearted reflection even there. 
The universe teemed with significance, and if 
God had bestowed such a quality with rich 
abundance everywhere, there must be a still 
larger store of it in His own eternal heart. The 
world was full of surprises ; trees drooped their 
leaves over screening walls, houses had backs 
as well as fronts ; music was heard from shut- 
tered windows, lights burned in upper rooms. 
There were a thousand pretty secrets in the 
ways of people to each other. Then, too, there 
were ideas, as thick as sparrows in an ivied 
wall. One had but to clap one's hands and 
cry out, and there was a fluttering of innumer- 
able wings ; life was as full of bubbles, forming, 
rising into amber foam, as a glass of sparkling 



The Choice of Work 139 

wine. That cup he would drink, and try its 
savour. There would be times when he would 
flag, no doubt, but it should not be from any 
failure of desire. He would try to be tem- 
perate, so as to keep the inner eye unclouded ; 
and he would try to be perfectly simple and 
sincere, deciding questions on their own merits, 
and with no conventional judgment. Such an 
attitude might be labelled by peevish persons, 
with prejudices rather than preferences, a species 
of intellectual Epicureanism. But Hugh de- 
sired not to limit his gaze by the phenomena 
of life, but to keep his eyes fixed upon the fur- 
ther horizon ; the light might dawn when it was 
least expected ; but the best chance of catch- 
ing the first faint lights of that other sunrise, 
was to have learned expectancy, to have trained 
observation, and to have kept one's heart 
unfettered and undimmed. 

He saw that the first essential of all was to 
group his life round a centre of some kind, to 
have a chosen work, to which he should be 
vowed as by a species of consecration ; it was 
in choosing their life-work, he thought, that so 
many people failed. He saw men of high abil- 
ity, year after year, who continued to put off 
the decision as to what their work should be, 
until they suddenly found themselves con- 
fronted with the necessity of earning their 



HO Beside Still Waters 

living, and then their choice had to be made 
in a hurry ; they pushed the nearest door open 
and went in ; and then habit began to forge 
chains about them ; and soon, however un- 
congenial their life might be, they were in- 
capable of abandoning it. There were some 
melancholy instances at Cambridge of men of 
high intellectual power, who had drifted thus 
into the academical life without any aptitude 
for it, without educational zeal, without in- 
terest in young people. Such men went on 
tamely year after year, passing from one college 
ofifice to another, inadequately paid, with no 
belief in the value of their work, averse to 
trying experiments, fond of comfort, only 
anxious to have as little trouble as possible, 
expending their ingenuity of mind in academi- 
cal meetings, criticising the verbal expression 
of reports with extreme subtlety, too fastidious 
to design original work, too much occupied for 
patient research, and ending either in a bitter 
sense of unrecognised merit, or in a frank and 
unashamed indolence. 

Hugh saw that in choosing the work of one's 
life, one must not be guided by necessity, or 
even mere rectitude. Work embraced from a 
sense of duty was like driving a chariot in sea- 
sand. One must have an enthusiasm for one's 
task, and a delight in it; for only by enjoyment 



The Choice of Work 141 

of the results could one tolerate the mechanical 
labour inseparable from all intellectual toil. It 
was true that he had himself drifted into offi- 
cial duties, but here Hugh saw the guidance of 
a very tender providence, which had provided 
him with a species of discipline that he could 
never have spontaneously practised. His great 
need had been the application of some harden- 
ing and hammering process, such as should give 
him that sort of concentrated alertness which 
his education had failed to bestow ; and none 
the less tenderly provided, it seemed to Hugh, 
was the irresistible impulse to arise and go, 
which had come upon him when the process 
was completed. And now he was free, with an 
immense appetite for speculation, for intellec- 
tual pleasure, for the criticism of life, for obser- 
vation. It was the quality, the finer essence of 
things and thoughts that mattered. To some 
was given the desire to organise and manage 
the world, to others the instinct for perception, 
for analysis, for the development of ideas. It 
was not that one kind of work was better than 
the other; both were needed, both were noble; 
but Hugh had no doubt on which side of the 
battle he was himself meant to fight. And so 
he determined that he would devote his life to 
the work, and that he would not allow any ex- 
cessive intrusion of extraneous elements. The 



142 Beside Still Waters 

blessing of the academical life was that it en- 
tailed a certain amount of social intercourse ; it 
compelled one to come into contact with a large 
variety of people. Without this Hugh felt 
that his outlook would have become narrow 
and self-centred. He knew of course that there 
would be times when it would seem to him that 
his life was an ineffective one, when he would 
envy the men of affairs, when he would wonder 
what, after all, his own performance amounted 
to. But Hugh felt that the great lack of many 
lives was the failure to perceive the interest of 
ideas ; that many men and women went through 
existence in a dull and mechanical way, raking 
together the straws and dust of the street ; and 
he thought that a man might do a great work 
if he could put a philosophy of life into an 
accessible shape. The great need was the need 
of simplification ; the world was full of palpi- 
tating interests, of beauty, of sweetness, of 
delight. But many people had no criterion of 
values; they filled their lives with petty en- 
gagements, and smilingly lamented that they 
had no time to think or read. For such people 
the sun rose over dewy fields, in the freshness 
of the countryside, in vain : in vain, the sunset 
glared among the empurpled cloud-banks ; in 
vain, the moon rose pale over the hushed gar- 
den-walks, while the nightingale, hidden in the 



Dulness HS 

dark heart of the bush, broke into passionate 
song. And even if it were argued that it was 
possible to be sensible and virtuous without 
being responsive to the appeal of nature, what 
did such people make of their social life ? they 
made no excursions into the hearts and minds 
of others ; their religion was a conventional 
thing ; they went to concerts, where the violins 
thrilled with sweet passion, and the horns com- 
plained with a lazy richness, that they might 
chatter in gangways and nod to their friends. 
It was all so elaborate, so hollow ! and yet in the 
minds of these buzzing, voluble persons one 
could generally discern a trickle of unconven- 
tional feeling, which could have made glad the 
sun-scorched pleasance. 

Hugh determined with all his might that he 
would try to preach this simple gospel ; that he 
would praise and uphold the doctrine of sincer- 
ity, of appreciation, of joy. He made up his 
mind that he would not be drawn into the 
whirlpool, that he would intermingle long spac- 
es of eager solitude with his life, that he would 
meditate, reflect, enjoy ; that he would try to 
discern the significance of all things seen or felt, 
and practise a disposition to approach all phe- 
nomena, whether pleasant or painful, in a critical 
mood ; and at the same time he resolved that 
his criticism should not be a mere solvent ; that 



144 Beside Still Waters 

he would strive to discern not the dulness, the 
ugliness, the dreariness of life, but its ardours, 
its passions, its transporting emotions, its beau- 
ties. That was a task for a lifetime. What- 
ever was doubtful, this was certain, that one 
was set in a mysterious, attractive, complex 
place ; if one regarded it carelessly, it seemed 
a commonplace affair enough, full of material 
activities, dull necessities, foolish stirrings, low 
purposes ; but if one looked a little closer, there 
were strange, dim, beautiful figures moving in 
and out, evanescent and shadowy, behind the 
nearer and more distracting elements. Here 
was hope, with a far-off gaze, beauty with 
mournful yearning eyes, love with finger on lip 
and dreamful gaze. It was here that the larger, 
the holier life lay. What was necessary was 
to keep apart, with deliberate purpose, from all 
fruitless vexations, dull anxieties, sordid de- 
signs. To detach one's self not from life, but 
from the scum and foam of life ; to realise that 
the secret lay in the middle of it all, and that 
it was to be discerned not by fastidious absten- 
tion, not by chilly asceticism, but by welcoming 
all nobler impulses, all spiritual influences ; not 
by starving body or mind, but by selecting 
one's food carefully and temperately. If a 
man, Hugh thought, could live life in this 
spirit, reasonable, kindly, humble, sincere, he 



A Creed 145 

could encourage others to the same simplicity^ 
of aim. To be selfish was to miss the beauty 
of the whole ; for the essence of the situation 
was to reveal to others, by example and by 
precept, what they already so dimly knew. 

To find out what one could do, where one 
could help, and to work with all one's might ; 
to live strongly and purely ; not to be dissuaded 
by comment or discouraged by lack of sym- 
pathy ; to meet others simply and frankly ; 
to be more desirous to ascertain other points 
of view than to propound one's own ; not to 
be ashamed to speak unaffectedly of one's 
own admirations and hopes ; not to desire 
recognition ; not to yield to personal motives ; 
not to assent to conventional principles blindly, 
nor to dissent from them mechanically ; never to 
be contemptuous or intolerant ; to foresee 
contingencies and not to be deterred by them ; 
to be open to all impressions ; to be tender 
to all sincere scruples; not to be censorious 
or hasty ; not to anticipate opposition ; to be 
neither timid nor rash ; to seek peace ; to be gen- 
tle rather than conscientious ; to be appreciative 
rather than critical — on these lines Hugh 
wished to live ; he desired no deference, no 
personal domination ; but neither did he wish 
to reject responsibility if he were consulted 
and trusted. Above all things he hoped to 



146 Beside Still Waters 

resist the temptation of taking soundings, of 
calculating his successes. Fame and renown 
allured him, none but he could say how much ; 
but he knew in his heart that he contemned 
their specious claims, and he hoped that they 
would some day cease to trouble him. He 
knew that much depended upon health and 
vigour ; but on the other hand, he believed 
that the most transforming power in the 
world was the desire to be different : why he 
could not stride into his kingdom and realise 
his ideal all at once, he could not divine; 
but meanwhile he would desire the best, and 
look forward in confidence and hope. 



XV 

Hugh was seized, one bright February 
morning of clear sun and keen winds, with, a 
sudden weariness of his work, This rebellious 
impulse did not often visit him, because he 
loved his work very greatly, and there were no 
hours so happy as those which were so engaged. 
But to-day he thought of himself suddenly that, 
lost thus in his delightful labour, he was for- 
getjting to live. How strange it was that the 
hours one loved most were the hours of work 
that sped past unconsciously, when one stood 
apart, absorbed in dreams, from the current of 
things. It seemed to him as if he was like the 
Lady of Shalott, so intent upon her web and 
the weaving of it, that she thought of the mov- 
ing forms upon the road beyond the river 
merely as things that could be depicted in her 
coloured threads. He took up the Pilgrim's 
Progress and sat a long while reading it, and 
smiling as he read ; he wondered why so many 
critics spoke so slightingly of the second part, 
which seemed to him in some ways almost more 
147 



148 Beside Still Waters 

beautiful than the first. There was not perhaps 
quite the same imaginativeness or zest; but 
there was more instinctive art, because the 
writer was retracing the same path, lodging at 
the same grave houses, encountering the same 
terrors, and yet representing everything as 
mirrored in a different quality of mind ; the 
mind of a faithful woman, and of the boys and 
maidens who walked with her upon the pil- 
grimage. There was not quite the same 
romance, perhaps, but there was more tender- 
ness than sweetness. It came less from the 
mind and more from the heart. 

Hugh smiled to see how rapidly the dangers of 
the road must have diminished, if Mr. Greatheart 
had often convoyed a party on their way. That 
mighty man laid about him with such valour, 
sliced off the heads and arms of giants with 
such cordial good-humour, that there could 
hardly, Hugh thought, have been for the next 
company any adventures left at all. Moreover 
so many of the stubborn and ill-favoured per- 
sons had come by a bad end, were hung in 
chains by the road, or lying pierced with sor- 
rows, that later pilgrims would have to complain 
of lack of bracing incidents. Still, how delicate 
and gentle a journey it was, and with what 
caressing fondness the writer helped these 
young and faltering feet along the way. What 



The Pilgrim's Progress 149 

pretty and absurd sights they saw! How 
laden they were with presents ! Christiana 
had Mr. Skill's boxes, twelve in all, of medicine, 
with no doubt a vial or two of tears of repent- 
ance to wash the pills down ; she had bottles of 
wine, parched corn, figs, and raisins from the 
Lord of the place, to say nothing of the golden 
anchor which the maidens gave her, which must 
have impeded her movements. 

He read with a smile, which was not wholly 
one of amusement, Mr. Greatheart's admirable 
argument as to how the process of redemption 
was executed. The Redeemer, it seemed, had 
no less than four kinds of righteousness, three 
to keep, which he could not do without, and one 
kind to give away. Every detail of the case 
was supported by a little cluster of marginal 
texts, and no doubt it appeared as logical and 
simple to the author as a problem or an equa- 
tion. But what an extraordinary form of re- 
ligion it all was ! There was not the least mis- 
giving in the mind of the author. The Bible 
was to him a perfectly unquestioned manifesto 
of the mind of God, and solved everything 
and anything. And yet the whole basis of the 
pilgrimage was insecure. There was no free 
gift of grace at all. Some few fortunate people 
were started on the pilgrimage by being given 
an overpowering desire to set out, while the 



ISO Beside Still Waters 

pleasant party who met at Madam Wanton's 
house, Mr. Lightmind and Mr. Love-the-flesh, 
with Mr. Lechery and Mrs. Filth, and passed 
the afternoon with music and dancing, were 
troubled by no divine misgivings. 

Then, too, the Lord of the way found no 
difificulty in easing the path of the gentler sort 
of pilgrims. He kept the Valley of the Shadow 
comparatively quiet for Christiana and her ten- 
der band. The ugly thing that came to meet 
them, and the Lion that padded after them, 
were not suffered to draw near. The hobgob- 
lins were stayed from howling. It never 
seemed to have occurred to Bunyan to ques- 
tion why the Lord of the way had ever allowed 
this unhallowed crew to gather in the valley at 
all. If he could restrain them, and if Mr. 
Greatheart could hew the giants in pieces, why 
qould not the whole nest of hornets have been 
smoked out once and for all ? Even the Slough 
of Despond could not be mended with all the 
cartloads of promises and texts that were shot 
there. And yet for all that, when one came to 
reflect upon it, this Calvinistic scheme of elec- 
tion and reprobation did seem to correspond in 
a terrible manner with the phenomena of the 
world. One saw people around one, some of 
whom seemed to start with an instinct for all 
that was pure and noble, and again others 



The Pilgrimage 151 

seemed to begin with no preference for virtue 
at all, but to be dogged with inherited corrup- 
tion from the outset. The mistake which 
moralists made was to treat all alike, as if all 
men had the moral instinct equally developed ; 
and yet Hugh had met not a few men who 
were restrained by absolutely no scruples, ex- 
cept prudential ones, and the dread of incurring 
conventional penalties, from yielding to every 
bodily impulse. If truth and purity and unself- 
ishness were the divine things, if happiness lay 
there, why were there such multitudes of peo- 
ple created who had no implanted desire to 
attain to these virtues ? 

It was in the grip of such thoughts that 
Hugh left the house and walked alone through 
the streets of the town, as Christian might 
have walked in the City of Destruction. What 
was one to fly from ? and whither was the pil- 
grimage to tend? The streets were full of 
busy comfortable people, some, like Mr. Brisk, 
men of considerable breeding, some again, like 
the two ill-favoured ones, marked for doom ; 
here and there was a young woman whose 
name might have been Dull. What was one's 
duty in the matter? Was one indeed to 
repent, with groans and cries, for a corruption 
of heart that had been bestowed upon one 
without any choice of one's own? Was one 



152 Beside Still Waters 

bound to overwhelm one's companions with 
abundance of pious suggestions, to rebuke vice, 
to rejoice in the disasters that befell the 
ungodly ? It seemed a hopeless business from 
first to last ; of course, if one had Bunyan's 
simple faith, if one could believe that at a cer- 
tain moment, on the Hill of Calvary, a thing 
had been accomplished which had in an instant 
changed the whole scheme of the world ; that a 
wrathful Creator, possessed hitherto by a fierce 
and vindicative anger with the frail creatures 
whom he moulded by thousands from the clay, 
was in an instant converted into a tender and 
compassionate father, his thirst for vengeance 
satisfied, it would be plain enough ; but Hugh 
felt in the depths of his heart that whatever 
else might be true, that was not ; or at least if 
it had any semblance of truth in it, it simply 
consummated a mystery so appalling that one 
must merely resign all hope and courage. 

What could one make of a Gospel that could 
lend any colour to a theory such as this ? Was 
it the fault of the Gospel, or was the error 
rooted in human nature, a melancholy misin- 
terpretation of a high truth ? It seemed to 
Hugh that the mistake lay there ; it seemed to 
arise from the acceptance by the Puritans of 
the Bible as all one book, and by the deliberate 
extrusion of the human element from it. Christ, 



Interpretations 153 

in the Gospel, seemed to teach, so far as Hugh 
could understand, not that he had effected any 
change in the nature or disposition of God, but 
that He had always been a Father of men, full 
of infinite compassion and love ; the miracle of 
Christ's life was the showing how a Divine 
spirit, bound by all the sad limitations of mor- 
tality, could yet lead a life of inner peace and 
joy, a life of perfect trust and simplicity. The 
clouding of the pure Gospel came from the 
vehement breath of His interpreters. His later 
interpreters were men in whose minds was in- 
stinctively implanted the old harsh doctrine of 
man's perverse corruption, and the dark severity 
of God's justice ; and thus' the Puritans were 
misled, because they laid an equal stress upon 
the whole of the Bible, and spoke of it as all 
of equal and Divine authority. Instead of re- 
jecting, as faulty human conceptions, what did 
not harmonise with the purer Gospel light, they 
sought and found in the Gospel a confirma- 
tion of the older human view. They treated 
the whole collection of books as all equally 
true, all equally important, and thus they were 
bent on seeing that the Gospel should fulfil 
rather than supersede the Law. This was in 
part the spirit of St. Paul ; and thus the Puri- 
tan Gospel was the Gospel of the Saviour. To 
Hugh the Old Testament was a very wonderful 



154 Beside Still Waters 

thing, wonderful because it showed the rise of 
a spirit of personal righteousness in the world, 
a spirit that worshipped morality with the same 
vehemence and enthusiasm as that with which 
the Greeks worshipped beauty. And thus be- 
cause they had loved righteousness and hated 
iniquity, there had been given to their imperi- 
ous nation the reward that the humanity of 
their race should be chosen to enshrine the 
Divine spirit of the Saviour. 

Hugh felt that the weakness of the ecclesias- 
tical position was its obstinate refusal to admit 
the possibilities of future development. A cen- 
tury ago, a man who ventured to hint that the 
story of Noah's Ark might not be historically 
and exactly true would have been pronounced 
a dangerous heretic. Now no one was required 
to afifirm his belief in it. Nowadays the belief 
in the miraculous element even of the New 
Testament was undoubtedly weakening. Yet 
the orthodox believer still pronounced a 
Christian unsound who doubted it. 

Here lay the insecurity of the orthodox 
champions. They stumbled on, fully accepting, 
when they could not help themselves, the pro- 
gressive developments of thought, yet loudly 
condemning any one who was a little further 
ahead upon the road, until they had caught 
him up. 



The Pilgrimage 155 

Still, the old Puritan poet, for all his over- 
preciseness of definition, all his elaborate scheme 
of imputed righteousness, all his dreary meta- 
physics, had yet laid his hand upon the essential 
truth. Life was indeed a pilgrimage ; and as 
the new law, the law of science, was investigated 
and explored, it seemed hardly less arbitrary, 
hardly more loving than the old. It was a scheme 
of infinite delay ; no ardent hopes, no burning 
conceptions of justice and truth could hasten or 
retard the working of the inflexible law, which 
blessed without reference to goodness, and 
punished without reference to morality. No one 
could escape by righteousness, no man could 
plead his innocence or his ignorance. One was 
surrounded by inexplicable terrors, one's path 
was set with gins and snares. Here the smoke 
and the flame burst forth, or the hobgoblins 
roared in concert ; here was a vale of peace, or a 
house of grave and kindly entertainment ; and 
sometimes from the hill-tops or the land of Beu- 
lah, there seemed indeed to be a radiant vision, 
dim-descried, of towers and pearly gates, a high 
citadel of heavenly peace. But how little one 
learned even of one's own strength and weak- 
ness ! The one instinct, which might itself be 
a delusion, was that one had a choice in the 
matter, a will, a power to act or to refrain from 
acting ; there was a deep-seated impulse to fare 



156 Beside Still Waters 

onward, to hope, to struggle. It was useless to 
blame the mysterious conditions of the journey, 
for they were certainly there. The only faith 
that was possible was the belief that the truth 
was somehow larger, nobler, more beautiful than 
one could conceive it ought to be; and there 
was a restfulness, when one apprehended what 
seemed so dark at first, in the knowledge that 
one's character and environment alike were 
not one's own choice ; the only way was to keep 
one's eye fixed upon the furthest hope, and 
never to cease imploring the Power that made 
us what we were, to give not abundant, but suf- 
ficient, strength, and to guide us into acting, so 
far as we had power to act, as He willed. 

This then became for Hugh his practical re- 
ligion ; to commit himself unceasingly, in joy and 
trouble alike, in the smallest matters, to the 
Eternal will ; until he grew to feel that if there 
were anything true in the world, it was the power 
of that perpetual surrender. It was surprising to 
him to find how anxiety melted into tranquillity, 
if one could but do that. Not only, he learned, 
must great decisions be laid before God, but the 
smallest acts of daily life. How often one felt 
the harassing weight of small duties, the dis- 
tasteful business, the anxious conversation, the 
dreary occasion ; fatigue, disappointment, care, 
uncertainty, timidity ! If one could but put the 



The Essence of the Situation 157 

matter into the hands of God, instead of rehears- 
ing and calculating and anticipating, what a 
peace flowed into one's spirit ! Difificulties 
melted away like mist before it. The business 
was tranquilly accomplished ; the interview 
that one dreaded provided its own obvious so- 
lution, vexations were healed, troubles were 
suddenly revealed as marvellously unimportant. 
One blundered still, went perversely wrong, 
yielded falteringly to an impulse knowing it to 
be evil ; but even such events had a wholesome 
humiliation about them which brought healing 
with it. The essence of the whole situation was 
to have in one's heart the romance of pilgrimage, 
to expect experience, both sweet and bitter, to 
desire the goal rather than the prize ; and to 
find the jewels of patience, hopefulness, and 
wisdom by the way, where one had least ex- 
pected them. 



XVI 

Hugh, one Sunday, in walking alone outside 
Cambridge, went for some considerable time be- 
hind a party of young men and boys, who were 
out for a stroll. He observed them with a dis- 
gustful curiosity. They were over-dressed; they 
talked loudly and rudely, and so far as Hugh 
could hear both coarsely and unamusingly. 
They laughed boisterously, they made offensive 
remarks about humble people who passed them. 
It was the height of humour to push each other 
unexpectedly into the ditch at the side of the 
road, and then their laughter became uproari- 
ous. It was harmless enough, but it was all so 
ugly and insolent, that Hugh thought that he 
had seldom seen anything which was so singu- 
larly and supremely unattractive. The per- 
formance seemed to have no merit in it from 
any point of view. These youths were no doubt 
exulting in the pride of their strength, but the 
only thing that they really enjoyed was that the 
people who met them should be disconcerted 
and distressed. Making every allowance for 
^58 



Humanity 159 

thoughtlessness and high spirits, it seemed un- 
necessary that these qualities should manifest 
themselves so unpleasingly. Hugh wondered 
whether, as democracy learned its strength, hu- 
manity was indeed becoming more vulgar, more 
inconsiderate, more odious. Singly, perhaps, 
these very boys might be sensible and good- 
humoured people enough, but association seemed 
only to develop all that was worst in them. 
And yet they were specimens of humanity at 
its strongest and cheerfullest. They were the 
hope of the race — for the same thing was prob- 
ably going on all over England — and they would 
no doubt develop into respectable and virtuous 
citizens ; but the spectacle of their joy was one 
that had no single agreeable feature. These 
loutish, rowdy, loud-talking, intolerable young 
men were a blot upon the sweet day, the pleas- 
ant countryside. Probably, Hugh thought, 
there was something sexual beneath it all, and 
the insolence of the group was in some dim way 
concerned with the instinct for impressing 
and captivating the female heart. Perhaps 
the more demure village maidens who met 
them felt that there was something dash- 
ing and even chivalrous about these young 
squires. 

There came into Hugh's mind the talk of a 
friend who had been staying with him, a man of 



i6o Beside Still Waters 

lofty socialistic ideals, who spoke much and elo- 
quently of the worship of humanity. Reflect- 
ing upon the phrase, Hugh felt that he could 
attach no sort of meaning to it. What was the 
humanity that one was to worship? Was it 
the glory of the average man ? Was it the mem- 
ory of the past? Was it the possibility of the 
future? It seemed to Hugh to be an impossi- 
ble abstraction. He had said as much to his 
friend, who had replied that it was like the wor- 
ship of Nature, which Hugh himself practised. 
But Hugh replied that he did not worship Na- 
ture at all. There was much in Nature that he 
did not understand, much that he feared and 
disliked. There was an abundance of beautiful 
things in Nature that he worshipped, not Na- 
ture as a whole ; there was enough, he said, in 
Nature that was desirable, to give him a kind 
of hope that there was some high and beautiful 
thought behind it ; at which his friend became 
eloquent, veiling, Hugh thought, a great con- 
fusion of mind behind a liberal use of rhetoric, 
and spoke of suffering, toiling, sorrowing, 
onward-looking humanity, its impassioned rela- 
tions, its great wistful heart. Hugh again, 
could not understand him ; he thought that his 
friend formed some exotic and fanciful concep- 
tion, arrived at by subtracting from humanity all 
that was not pathetic and solemn and dignified, 



Humanity i6i 

and then fusing the residue into a sort of cor- 
poreal entity. He did not see any truth or reality 
about the conception. It seemed to him as un- 
real as though one had personified the Great 
Western Railway into a sort of gigantic form, 
striding westward, covered with packages of 
merchandise, and carrying a typical human 
being, as St. Christopher carried the Sacred 
Child across the flood. It was pure anthro- 
pomorphism. 

Hugh could understand a personal relation, 
even the passionate idealisation of an individual. 
He could conceive of the latter as giving one 
a higher idea of the possibilities of the human 
race: but to lump a vast and complex system 
together, to concentrate unknown races, dead 
and living, negroes, Chinamen, Homeric heroes 
and palaeolithic men, into one definite con- 
ception, and to worship it, seemed to Hugh 
an almost grotesque thought. He could con- 
ceive of a species of Pantheism, in which the 
object of one's awe and worship was the vast 
force underlying all existing things ; but even 
so it seemed necessary to Hugh to focus it all 
into one personal force. The essence of wor- 
ship seemed to Hugh to be that the thing 
worshipped should have unity and individual- 
ity. It seemed to him as impossible to worship 
a thing of which he himself was a part, as to 



1 62 Beside Still Waters 

demand that a cat should adore the principle 
of felinity. 

The essence of the world, of life, to Hugh 
lay in the sense of his own individuality. He 
was instinctively conscious of his own existence, 
he was experimentally conscious of the exist- 
ence of a complicated world outside of him. 
But it was to him rather a depressing than an 
ennobling thought, that he was one of a class, 
fettered by the same disabilities, the same 
weaknesses, as millions of similar objects. Per- 
haps it was a wholesome humiliation, but it 
was none the less humiliating. On the one 
hand he was conscious of the vast power of 
imagination, the power of standing, as it were, 
side by side with God upon the rampart of 
heaven, and surveying the whole scheme of 
created things. Yet on the other hand there 
fell the sense of a baffling and miserable im- 
potence, a despairing knowledge that one's 
consciousness of the right to live, and to live 
happily, was conditioned by one's utter frailty, 
the sense that one was surrounded by a thou- 
sand dangers, any one of which might at any 
moment deprive one of the only thing of which 
one was sure. How, and by what subtle pro- 
cess of faith and imagination, could the two 
thoughts be reconciled ? 

The best that Hugh could make of the ardent 



Individuality 163 

love of life and Joy which inspired him, was the 
belief that it was implanted in man, that he 
might have, for some inscrutable reason, a mo- 
tive for experiencing, and for desiring to con- 
tinue to experience, the strange discipline of 
the world. If men did not love life and ease 
so intensely, at the first discouragement, at the 
first touch of pain, they would languidly and 
despairingly cease to be. Hugh seemed to dis- 
cern that men were put into the world that 
they might apprehend something that it was 
worth their while to apprehend ; that for some 
reason which he had no means of divining, life 
could not be a wholly easy or pleasurable 
thing ; but that in order to inspire men to bear 
pain and unhappiness, they were permeated 
with an intense desire to continue to live, and 
to regain some measure of contentment, if that 
contentment were for a time forfeited. Of 
course there were many things which that did 
not explain, but it was a working theory that 
seemed to contain a large element of truth. 
Sometimes a technically religious person would 
say that the world was created for the glory of 
God, a phrase which filled Hugh with a sense 
of bewildered disgust. It either implied that 
God demanded recognition, or that it was all 
done in a species of intolerable pride of heart, 
as a mere exhibition of power. That God 



1 64 Beside Still Waters 

should yield to a desire for display seemed to 
Hugh entirely inconsistent with a belief in His 
awful supremacy. 

It seemed to him rather that God must have 
abundant cause to be dissatisfied with the world 
as it was, but that at the same time He must 
have some overpoweringly just reason for ac- 
quiescing for a time in its imperfection. How 
else could one pray, or aspire, or hope at all ? 

But the sight of human beings, such as Hugh 
had before his eyes that day, filled him with 
perplexity. One was only possessed by an in- 
tense desire that they might be different from 
what they were. Hugh indeed knew that he 
himself had sore need to be different from what 
he was. But the qualities that lay behind the 
motions and speech of these lads — inconsider- 
ateness, indifference to others, vanity, gross- 
ness — were the things that he had always been 
endeavouring to suppress and eradicate in him- 
self ; they were the things that were detested 
by poets, saints, and all chivalrous and generous 
souls. 

Sometimes indeed one was confronted, in 
the world of men, by a perfectly sincere, noble, 
quiet, gentle, loving personality ; and then one 
perceived, as in a gracious portrait, what hu- 
manity could hope to aspire to. But on the 
other hand Hugh had seen, in the pages of a 



The Average 165 

periodical, an attempt to arrive at a typical hu- 
man face, by photographing a number of indi- 
viduals upon the same plate ; and what a blurred, 
dim, uncomfortable personality seemed to peer 
forth ! To worship humanity seemed to Hugh 
like trying to worship that concentrated average ; 
and he had little hope that, if an absolutely 
average man were constructed, every sin- 
gle living individi^al contributing his character- 
istics to the result, the result would be edifying, 
encouraging, or inspiring. Hugh feared that 
the type would but sink the most tolerant 
philosopher in a sense of irreclaimable depres- 
sion. And yet if, guided by prejudice and prefer- 
ence, one made up a figure that one could wholly 
admire, how untrue to nature it would be, 
how different from the figure that other human 
beings would consent to admire. 

The problem was insoluble ; the only way 
was to set one's self courageously at one's own 
little corner of the gigantic scheme, to attack 
it as faithfully as one could, by humble aspi- 
rations, quiet ministries, and tender-hearted 
sympathy ; to take as simply as possible what- 
ever message of beauty and hope fell to one's 
share ; not to be absorbed in one's own dreams 
and imaginings, but to interpret faithfully 
every syllable of the great Gospel ; and, above 
all, to remember that work was inevitable. 



1 66 Beside Still Waters 

necessary, and even beautiful ; but that it only 
had the noble quality when it was undertaken 
for the love of others, and not for love of 
one's self. 



XVII 

The return of the sweet spring days, with 
the balmy breath of warm winds, soft sunshine 
on the pastures, the songs of contented birds in 
thicket and holt, brought to Hugh an astonish- 
ing richness of sensation, a waft of joy that 
was not yet light-hearted, joy that was on the 
one hand touched with a fine rapture, yet on 
the other hand overshadowed by a wistful 
melancholy, The frame, braced by wintry 
cold, revelled in the outburst of warmth, of 
light, of life ; and yet the very luxuriousness 
of the sensation brought with it a languor and 
a weariness that was akin rather to death than 
to life. He rode alone far into the shining 
countryside, and found, in the middle of wide 
fields with softly swelling outlines, where the 
dry ploughlands were dappled with faint fawn- 
coloured tints, a little wood, in the centre of 
which was a reed-fringed pool. The new 
rushes were beginning to fringe the edges of 
the tiny lake, but the winter sedge stood 
pale and sere, and filled the air with a dry 
167 



1 68 Beside Still Waters 

rustling. The water was as clear as a trans- 
lucent gem, and Hugh saw that life was at 
work on the floor of the pool, sending up 
rich tresses of green-haired water-weed. The 
copse was green under foot, full of fresh, 
uncrumpling leaves. He sat down beside the 
pool ; the silence of the wide fields was 
broken only by the faint rustling of sedge 
and tree, and the piping of a bird, hid in some 
darkling bush hard by. Never had Hugh 
been more conscious of the general outburst 
of life all about him, and yet never more aware 
of his isolation from it all. His body seemed 
to belong to it all, swayed and governed by 
the same laws that prompted their gentle 
motions to tree and herb ; but his soul seemed 
to him to-day like a bright creature caught in 
the meshes of a net, beating its wings in vain 
against the constraining threads. From what 
other free and spacious country was it exiled ? 
What other place did it turn to with desire and 
love ? It seemed to him to-day that he was a 
captive in a strange land, remembering some 
distant home, some heavenly Zion, even in his 
mirth. It seemed to him as if the memory of 
some gracious place dwelt in his mind, separated 
only from his earthly memory by a thin yet 
impenetrable veil. His spirit held out listless 
hands of entreaty to some unseen power, desir- 



Spring 169 

ing he knew not what. To-day on earth 
the desire of all created things seemed to be 
directed to each other. The tiny creeping 
sprays of delicate plants that carpeted the 
wood seemed to interlace with one another in 
tender embraces. In loneliness they had slept 
beneath the dark ground, and now that they had 
risen to the light, they seemed to thrill with 
joy to find themselves alone no longer. He 
saw in the leafless branches of a tree near him 
two doves, with white rings upon their necks, 
that turned to each other with looks of desire 
and love. Was it for some kindred spirit, 
for the sweet consent of some desirous heart 
that Hugh hankered? No! it was not that! 
It was rather for some unimagined freedom, 
some perfect tranquillity that he yearned. It 
was like the desire of the stranded boat for 
the motion and dip of the blue sea-billows. He 
would have hoisted the sail of his thought, 
have left the world behind, steering out across 
the hissing, leaping seas, till he should see at 
last the shadowy summits, the green coves of 
some remote land, draw near across the azure 
sea-line. To-day the fretful and poisonous 
ambitions of the world seemed intolerable to 
him. As the dweller in wide fields sees the 
smoke of the distant town rise in a shadowy 
arc upon the horizon, and thinks with pity of the 



1 70 Beside Still Waters 

toilers there in the hot streets, so Hugh thought 
of the intricate movement of life as of a thing 
that was both remote and insupportable. That 
world where one jostled and strove, where one 
made so many unwilling mistakes, where one 
laboured so unprofitably, was it not, after all, 
an ugly place? What seemed so strange to 
him was that one should be set so unerringly 
in the middle of it, while at the same time one 
was given the sense of its unreality, its dis- 
tastefulness. So marvellously was one made 
that one sickened at its contact, and yet, if one 
separated one's self from it, one drooped and 
languished in a morbid gloom. The burden of 
the flesh ! The frailty of the spirit ! The two 
seemed irreconcilable, and yet one endured 
them both. The world so full of beauty and 
joy, and yet the one gift withheld that would 
make one content. 

And yet it was undeniable that the very 
sadness that he felt had a sweet fragrance 
about it. It was not the sadness of despair, 
but of hope unfulfilled. The soul clasped 
hands with the unknown, with tears of joy, and 
leaned out of the world as from a casement, 
on perilous seas. Indeed the very wealth of 
loveliness on every hand, and the mysterious 
yearning to take hold of it, to make it one's 
own, to draw it into the spirit, the hope that 



Wonder 171 

seemed at once so possible and yet so baffling 
gave the key of the mystery. There was a 
beauty, there was a truth that was waiting for 
one, and the sweetness here was a type of the 
unseen. It was only the narrow soul that 
grudged if it was not satisfied. The brave 
heart went quietly and simply about its task, 
welcoming every delicate sight, every whisper 
of soft airs, every touch of loving hands, every 
glance of gentle eyes, rejoicing in the mystery 
of it all; thanking the Lord of life for the 
speechless wonder of it, and even daring to 
thank Him that the end was not yet ; and that 
the bird must still speed onwards to the home 
of its heart, dipping its feet in the crest of the 
wandering wave, till the land, whither it was 
bound, should rise like a soft shadow over the 
horizon ; till the shadow became a shape, and 
at last the tall cliffs, with the green downs 
above, the glittering plain, the sombre forest, 
loomed out above one, just beyond where the 
waves whitened on the loud sea-beadhes, and 
the sound of the breakers came harmoniously 
over the waste of waters, like the soft tolling 
of a muffled bell. 



XVIII 

Up to this time it may be said that Hugh 
had never felt the pressure of sordid anxieties, 
or experienced any sorrows but the sorrows of 
pure emotion. But now all at once there fell 
on him a series of heavy afflictions. His father 
died after a very short illness ; so little had a 
fatal result been expected, that Hugh only 
reached home after his death. It happened 
that the last sight he had had of his father had 
been one of peculiar brightness. He had been 
staying at home, and, on the morning of his 
return to Cambridge, had gone into the study 
for a parting talk. He had found his father in 
a mood not common with him, but which was 
growing commoner as he grew older, of serene 
cheerfulness. He had talked to Hugh very 
eagerly about a little book of poems that Hugh 
had lately published. Hugh had hardly men- 
tioned it to his father beforehand, but he had 
dedicated the book to him, though he imagined 
that his father must consider poetry a dilettante 
kind of occupation. He was amazed to find, 
172 



His Father's Death 173 

when he discussed the book with his father, 
that he was met with so vivid and personal a 
sympathy, and he discerned that the writing 
of poetry must have been a preoccupation of 
his father's in early days, one of those delicate 
ambitions on which he had sharply turned the 
key. His mother and sister were away for 
the day, so that when it was time to go, and 
the carriage was announced, there was no one 
but his father in the house. He had, as his 
custom was, laid his hand on his son's head, 
and blessed him with a deep emotion, adding 
a few words of love and confidence that had 
filled Hugh's eyes with tears; and his father 
had then put his arm through his son's, walked 
to the door with him, and had stood there in 
the bright morning, with his grey hair stirred 
by the wind, waving his hand till the carriage 
had turned the corner of the shrubbery. 

Hugh often suffered from a certain appre- 
hensiveness of mind on leaving home ; he had 
sometimes wondered, as he said farewell to the 
group, whether he would see them thus again. 
But that morning it had never occurred to him 
that there was any such possibility in store for 
him ; so that now, when he had returned to the 
darkened house, and presently saw that pale, 
still form, with a quiet smile on the face, as 
of one satisfied beyond his dearest wish, he 



174 Beside Still Waters 

plunged into a depth of ineffectual sorrow such 
as he had never known before. The one 
thought that sustained him was that he and 
his father had loved, understood, and trusted 
each other. It was a horror to Hugh to think 
what his feelings might have been in the old 
days, if his father had died when his own pre- 
dominant emotion had been a respectful fear 
of him. 

It seemed impossible to believe that all the 
activities of that long life were over ; and as 
Hugh went through his father's papers, with 
incessant little heart-broken griefs at the ar- 
rangements and precisions that had stood for 
so much devoted faithfulness and loyal respon- 
sibility, it seemed to him as though the door 
must open, and the well-known figure, with the 
smile that Hugh knew so well, stand before 
him. 

The first disaster that was revealed to him 
was the smallness of his father's fortune ; his 
father, though often talking about business to 
his son, had a curious reticence about money 
affairs, and had never prepared him for the 
scantiness of the provision that he had accumu- 
lated. Hugh saw at once that the utmost care 
would have for the future to be exercised, and 
that their whole scale of life must be altered. 
The fact was that his father's professional 



Changes i7S 

income had been ample, and that he had had 
a strong dislike of saving money from ecclesi- 
astical sources. The home must evidently be 
broken up at once, and a small house taken for 
his mother. But fortunately both his mother 
arid sister were entirely undismayed by this ; 
their tastes were simple enough ; but Hugh 
saw that he himself would have to contribute 
to their assistance. With his own small for- 
tune, his literary work, and a little academical 
work that he was doing, he had been able 
to live comfortably enough without taking 
thought ; but now he saw that all this must be 
curtailed. He had an intense dislike of think- 
ing about money ; and he therefore determined 
that there should be no small economies on his 
part, but that he would simply, if necessary, 
alter his easy scale of living. 

It was a terrible process disestablishing the 
old home ; the sale of furniture and books, the 
displacing of the old pictures, seemed to tear 
and rend all sorts of delicate fibres ; but at last 
the house was dismantled, and it became a bit- 
ter sort of joy to leave a place that had be- 
come like a sad skeleton of one that he had 
loved. The trees, the flowers, the church- 
tower over the elms — as they drove away on 
that last morning, these seemed to regard him 
with mournful and hollow eyes ; the parting 



176 Beside Still Waters 

was indeed so intensely sad, that Hugh experi- 
enced a grim relief in completing it and there 
fell on him a deep dreariness of spirit, which 
seemed at last to benumb him, until he felt that 
he could no longer care for anything. 

He returned at last to Cambridge ; and now 
illness fell upon him for the second time in his 
life. Not a definite illness, but a lingering ma- 
laise, which seemed to bereave him of all spring 
and energy. He was told that he must not 
work, must spend his time in the open air, must 
be careful in matters of food and sleep. He 
lived indeed for some months the life of an in- 
valid. The restrictions fretted him intolerably; 
but he found that every carelessness brought 
its swift revenge. He had previously felt little 
or no sympathy with invalids ; he had disliked 
the signs of illness in others, the languor, the 
sunken eye, the fretfulness of fever, and now he 
had to bear them himself. He had always felt, 
half unconsciously, that illness was a fanciful 
thing, and might be avoided by a kind of cheer- 
ful effort. But now he had to go through the 
experience of feebleness and peevish inactivity. 
He used sometimes, out of pure irritability, to 
resume his work ; but he had no grip or vigour; 
his conceptions were languid, his technical re- 
sources were dulled ; and then came strange 
and unmanning dizziness, the horrible feeling. 



Illness 177 

in the middle of a cheerful company, that one 
is hardly accountable for one's actions, when 
the only escape seems to be to hold on with all 
one's might to the slenderest thread of conven- 
tional thought. The difficulty was to know 
how to fill the time. There was no relish in 
company, and yet a hatred of solitude: he used 
to moon about, sit in the garden, take irresolute 
walks; he read novels, and found them unutter- 
ably dreary. Music was the only thing that lifted 
him out of his causeless depression, and gave 
back a little zest to life ; but the fear that was 
almost intolerable was the possibility that he 
would never emerge out of this wretchedness. 
Day after day passed, and no change was 
apparent ; till just when he was on the verge 
of despair, when the darkest visions began to 
haunt his mind, the cloud began to lift. He 
found that he could work a little, though the 
smallest excess was still punished by days of 
feebleness. But, holding to this thread of hope, 
Hugh climbed slowly out of the darkness; and 
it was a day to him of deep and abiding grati- 
tude when, after a long Swiss holiday, in which 
his bodily activity had come back to him with 
an intensity of pleasure, Hugh realised that he 
was again in his ordinary health. 

But he had at this time a bitter disappoint- 
ment. Just before his father's death he had 



178 Beside Still Waters 

finished preparing a little work for publication, 
a set of essays on a variety of subjects, to 
which he had devoted much care and thought. 
To his deep vexation it met with a very con- 
temptuous reception. Its errors were merci- 
lessly criticised, and it was proclaimed to be the 
work of a sickly sentimental dilettante. Hugh 
found it hard to believe in the verdict ; but his 
conviction was established by the opinion of 
one of his old friends who, as kindly as possi- 
ble, pointed out that the book was both thin 
and egotistical. Hugh felt as if he could never 
write again, and as if the chief occupation of 
his life would be gone ; but with renewed 
health his confidence returned, and in a few 
weeks he was able to look the situation in the 
face. The reception of the book had brought 
home to him the direction in which he was 
drifting. He saw that a certain toughness and 
hardness of fibre had been wanting. He saw 
that he had tried to fill a book up out of his 
own mind, in a leisurely and trifling mood. He 
had not attempted to grasp his subjects, but 
had allowed himself to put down loose and 
half-hearted impressions, instead of trying to 
see into the essence of the things he was 
describing. 

But, his illness over, he was astonished to 
find how little both money anxieties and the 



A New Home 179 

shattering of literary "hopes distressed him. For 
the first, it was clear that his mother and sister 
could live with an adequate degree of comfort 
and dignity. And as for his literary hopes, he 
realised that the failure had been a real revela- 
tion of his own weakness; but he realised too 
that other people would forget about the book 
still faster than he himself, and that no previous 
failures would damn a further work, if only it 
possessed the true qualities of art ; and indeed 
from this time he dated a real increase of artistic 
faculty, a sense of constraining vocation, a joy 
in literary labour, which soon, like a sunrise, 
brightened all his horizon ; and it was pleasant 
too, though Hugh did not over-value it, to find 
his work beginning to bring him a definite 
though slight reputation, and a position among 
imaginative critics. 

Moreover his new home began to have a 
very potent charm for him. His mother had 
settled in a small ancient house in the depths of 
the country. They had very few neighbours. 
The little building itself was full of charm, the 
charm of mellow beauty and old human owner- 
ship ; it was embosomed among trees, and had a 
small walled garden, rich in flowers and shade. 
He had been there but a few weeks, when he 
realised that the old feeling of a vague friendli- 
ness and intimate concern with nature had 



i8o Beside Still Waters 

come back. It was as though the spirits, 
which had peopled the remembered flowers and 
trees of his first home, had flitted with them, 
and had taken up their abode in this other gar- 
den. The flowers seemed to smile at him with 
the same shy mystery, the trees to surround the 
house like a troop of loyal sentinels. The ab- 
sence of the constant social interruptions that 
had been characteristic of the Rectory was an 
added charm ; his mother and sister, too, though 
heavily overshadowed by grief, found the place 
peaceful and congenial ; and the best joy of all 
was the sweet and fragrant relation that sprung 
up among the three. They were like the sur- 
vivors of a wreck, whose former familiarity 
had been converted suddenly into a deep and 
emotional loyalty, by the sad experiences 
through which they had passed together. The 
relations had before been affectionate, but in 
some ways superficial. Hugh to his surprise 
found himself daily making discoveries about 
his mother and sister, through the close 
relationship into which they were brought. 
Unsuspected tastes and feelings revealed them- 
selves, and he began to be aware of a whole host 
of new interests that sprang up between them. 
Sometimes, when 9. hedgerow is rooted up, one 
may notice how a whole crop of unknown 
flowers, whose seeds had been buried deep in 



The New Light i8i 

the soil, suddenly emerge to conceal the bare 
scarred ditch. Hugh thought to himself that 
the experiences through which they had passed 
had had this effect of enlarging and extending 
sympathies which were there all the time, and 
which had never had an opportunity of reveal- 
ing themselves. And thus out of sorrow and 
wretchedness, there sprang to light a whole 
range of new forces, a vision of new possibilities. 
It seemed to Hugh that he was like a man who 
had passed by night through an unfamiliar 
country, by unknown roads ; that as the dark- 
ness had begun to glimmer to dawn, the shape- 
less shadows of things about him had gradually 
taken shape, and revealed themselves at last to 
be but the quiet trees with their gentle tapestry 
of leaves, leaning over his way ; and what had 
been but a formless horror, became revealed as 
a company of friendly living things that beck- 
oned comfortably to his spirit, and grew into 
purer colour as the dawn began to break from 
underground. 



XIX 

Hugh had always felt that he had very little 
comprehension of the feminine temperament; 
he realised to the full how much more generous, 
unselfish, high-minded, and sympathetic women 
were than men, their perceptions of personali- 
ties more subtle, their intuitions more delicate ; 
in a difficult matter, a crisis involving the rela- 
tions of people, when it was hard to know how 
to act, and when, in dealing with the situation, 
tact and judgment were required, he found it a 
good rule to consult a woman about what had 
happened, and a man about what would hap- 
pen. Women had as a rule a finer instinct about 
characters and motives, but their advice about 
how to act was generally too vehement and rash; 
a woman could often divine the complexities of 
a situation better, a man could advise one better 
how to proceed. But what he could seldom 
follow was the intellectual processes of women; 
they intermingled too inuch of emotion with 
their logic ; they made bird-like, darting move- 
ments from point to point, instead of following 
182 



Women 183 

the track ; they tended to be partisans. They 
forgave nothing in those they disliked ; they 
condoned anything in those they loved. Hugh 
lived so much himself in the intellectual region, 
and desired so constantly a certain equable and 
direct quality in his relations with others, that 
he seldom felt at ease in his relations with wo- 
men, except with those who could give him 
the sort of sisterly camaraderie that he desired. 
Women seemed to him to have, as a rule, a 
curious desire for influence, for personal power ; 
they translated everything into personal values ; 
they desired to dominate situations, to have 
their own way in superficial matters, to have 
secret understandings. They acted, he thought, 
as a rule, from personal and emotional motives ; 
and thus Hugh, who above all things desired to 
live by instinct rather than by impulse, found 
himself fretted and entangled in a fine network 
of shadowy loyalties, exacting chivalries, subtle 
diplomacies, delicate jealousies, unaccountable 
irritabilities, if he endeavoured to form a friend- 
ship with a woman. A normal man took a 
friendship just as it came, exacted neither at- 
tendance nor communication, welcomed oppor- 
tunities of intercourse, but did not scheme for 
them, was not hurt by apparent neglect, de- 
manded no effusiveness, and disliked senti- 
ment. Hugh, as he grew older, did not desire 



1 84 Beside Still Waters 

very close relationships with people ; he valued 
frankness above intimacy, and candour above 
sympathy. He found as a rule, that women 
gave too much sympathy, and the result was 
that he felt himself encouraged to be egotisti- 
cal. He used to think that when he spoke 
frankly to women, they tended to express ad- 
miration for the way he had acted or thought ; 
and if he met that by saying that he neither 
deserved nor wanted praise, he received fur- 
ther admiration for disinterestedness, when all 
that he desired was to take the matter out of 
the region of credit altogether. He believed 
indeed that women valued the pleasure of 
making an impression, of exercising influence, 
too highly, and that in this point their per- 
ception seemed to fail ; they did not under- 
stand that a man acts very often from impersonal 
motives, and is interested in the doijig of the 
thing itself, whatever it may happen to be, 
rather than in the effect that his action may 
have upon other people. It was part of the 
high-mindedness of women that they could not 
understand that a man should be so absorbed 
in the practical execution of a matter. They 
looked upon men's ambitions, their desire to 
do or make something — a book, a picture, a 
poem — as a sort of game in which they could not 
believe that any one could be seriously interest- 



The Feminine View 185 

ed. Hugh indeed seemed to divine the curious 
fact that, generally speaking, men and women 
looked upon the preoccupations and employ- 
ments of the opposite sex as rather childish ; a 
man would be immersed in practical activities, 
in business, in organisation, in education, in 
communicating definite knowledge, in writing 
books, in attending meetings — this he thought 
to be the serious and real business of the world ; 
and he was inclined to look upon relationships 
with other people, sentiment, tender affections, 
wistful thoughts of others, as a sort of fireside 
amusement and recreation. 

Women, on the other hand, found their real 
life in these things, desired to please, to win and 
retain affection, to admire and to be admired, 
to love and be loved ; and they tended to look 
upon material things — comfort, wealth, busi- 
ness, work, art — as essentially secondary things, 
which had of course a certain value, but which 
were not to be weighed in the scale with emo- 
tional things. There were naturally many ex- 
ceptions to this ; there were hard, business-like 
practical women ; there were emotional, tender- 
hearted, sensitive men ; but the general princi- 
ple held good. And thus it was that men 
and women regarded the supreme emotion of 
love from such different points of view, and 
failed so often to comprehend the way in which 



1 86 Beside Still Waters 

the opposite sex regarded it ; to women it was 
but the natural climax, the raising and height- 
ening of their habitual mood into one great 
momentous passion; it was the flower of life 
slowly matured into bloom ; to men it was more 
a surprising and tremendous experience, an 
amazing episode, cutting across life and inter- 
rupting its habitual current, contradicting rather 
than confirming their previous experience. 

Hugh was himself rather on the feminine side; 
though he had a strong practical turn, and could 
carry through a matter effectively enough, yet 
he valued delicate and sincere emotions, disin- 
terestedness, simplicity, and loyalty, above prac- 
tical activity and organisation ; the result of this, 
he supposed, was that he tended, from a sense 
of the refreshment of contrast, to make his friends 
rather among men than among women, and this 
was, he believed, the reason why he had never 
fallen frankly in love, because he could to a 
great extent supply out of his own nature the 
elements which as a rule men sought among 
women ; and because the complexity and sensi- 
tiveness of his own temperament took refuge 
rather in tranquillity and straightforward com- 
mon-sense. As he grew older, as he became 
absorbed more and more in literary work, he 
tended, he thought, to draw more and more 
away from human relationships; the energy, 



Society 187 

the interest, that had formerly gone into mak- 
ing new relationships now began to run in a 
narrower channel. Whether it was prudent to 
yield to this impulse he did not stop to inquire. 
It seemed to him that many of his friends wasted 
a great deal of force and activity from semi- 
prudential motives. As his life became more 
solitary, an old friend once took him to task on 
this point. He said that it was all very well 
for a time, but that Hugh would find his interest 
in his work flag, and that there would be no- 
thing to fill the gap. He advised him, at the cost 
of some inconvenience, to cultivate relations 
with a wider circle, to go to social gatherings, 
to make acquaintances. He knew, he said, that 
Hugh would possibly find it rather tiresome, 
but it was of the nature of an investment which 
might some day prove of value. 

Hugh replied that he thought that this was 
living life too much on the principle of the 
White Knight in Through the Looking-Glass. 
The White Knight kept a mouse-trap slung to 
his saddle : when it was objected that he would 
not be likely to find mice on the back of his 
horse, he replied that perhaps it was not likely, 
but that if they were there, he did not choose to 
have them running about. Hugh confessed that 
he did find ordinary society tiresome ; but to 
persist in frequenting it, on the chance that some 



1 88 Beside Still Waters 

day it would turn out to be a method of filling 
up vacant hours, seemed to him to be providing 
against an unlikely contingency, and indeed an 
ugly and commercial business. He did not think 
it probable that he would lose interest in his 
work, and he thought it better to devote him- 
self to it while it interested him. If the time 
ever came when he needed a new set of relation- 
ships, he thought he could trust himself to form 
them ; and if he did not desire to form them, 
well, to be bored was bad enough, but it was 
better on the whole to be passively rather than 
actively bored. 

But Hugh's theory in reality went deeper than 
that. He had a strong belief, which grew in 
intensity with age, that the only chance of realis- 
ing one's true life was to do something that in- 
terested one with all one's might. He did not 
believe that what was done purely from a sense 
of duty, unless it pleased and satisfied some part 
of one's nature, was ever effective or even useful. 
It was not well done, and it was neglected on 
any excuse. His pilgrimage through the world 
presented itself to Hugh in the light of a jour- 
ney through hilly country. The ridge that rose 
in front of one concealed a definite type of 
scenery ; that scenery was there ; there were 
indeed a hundred possibilities about it and the 
imagination might amuse itself by forecasting 



Society 189 

what it was to be like. But it seemed to Hugh 
that one wasted time in these forecasts : and 
that it was better to wait and see what it actually 
was, and then to enjoy it as vigorously as one 
could. To spend one's time in fantastic specu- 
lation as to what was coming, was to waste 
vigour and thought, which were better employed 
in observing and interpreting what was around 
one. 

And so Hugh resolved that his relations 
with others should be of this kind; that he 
would not seek restlessly for particular kinds of 
friendships ; but that he would accept the circle 
that he found, the persons with whom relatione 
were inevitable ; and that he would make the 
most of what he found. Choice and selection ! 
How little one really employed them! the 
world streamed past one, an unsuspected, un- 
looked-for friend would suddenly emerge from 
the throng, and one would find one's self jour- 
neying shoulder to shoulder for a space. Hugh 
thought indeed sometimes that one made no 
friendships at all of one's self ; but that God sent 
the influences of which one had need, at the 
very time at which one needed them, and 
then silently and tenderly withdrew them 
again for a time, when they had done their 
work for the soul. One received much 
and perhaps, however unconsciously, however 



I go Beside Still Waters 

lightly, one gave something of one's own as 
well. 

But all Hugh's relations with others were 
overshadowed by the great doubt, which was 
perhaps the heaviest burden he had to carry, 
as to whether one's individuality endured. 
The thought that it might not survive death, 
made him shrink from establishing a ' close- 
ness of emotional dependence on another, the 
loss of which would be intolerable. The nat- 
ural flame of the heart seemed quenched and 
baflfled by that cold thought. It was the same 
instinct that made him, as a boy, refuse the 
gift of a dog, when a pet collie, that had been 
his own, had been killed by an accident. The 
pain of the loss had seemed so acute, so irre- 
parable, that he preferred to live uncomforted 
rather than face such another parting; and 
there seemed, too, a kind of treachery in 
replacing love. If, on the other hand, individ- 
uality did endure, the best of all relationships 
seemed to Hugh a frank and sincere compan- 
ionship, such as may arise between two way- 
farers whose road lies together for a little, and 
who talk easily and familiarly as they walk in 
the clear light of the dawn. Hugh felt that 
there was an abundance of fellow-pilgrims, men 
and women alike, to consort with, to admire, 
to love; this affability and accessibility made 



Frank Relations 191 

it always easy for Hugh to enter into close 
relationship with others. He had little desire 
to guard his heart ; and the sacred intimacy, 
the sharing of secret thoughts and hopes, 
which men as a rule give but to a few, Hugh 
was perhaps too ready to give to all. What 
he lost in depth and intensity he perhaps 
gained in breadth. But he also became aware 
that he had a certain coldness of temperament. 
Many were dear to him, but none essential. 
There was no jealousy about his relations with 
others. He never demanded of a friend that 
he should give him a special or peculiar regard. 
His frankness was indeed sometimes misunder- 
stood, and people occasionally supposed that 
they had evoked a nearness of feeling, an im- 
passioned quality, which was not really there. 
"You give away your heart in handfuls," said 
a friend to him once in a paroxysm of anger, 
fancying himself neglected ; and Hugh felt that 
it was both just and unjust. He had never, he 
thought, given his heart away at all, except as 
a boy to his chosen friend. But he gave a 
smiling and tender affection very easily to all 
who seemed to desire it. He knew indeed 
that from that first experience something of 
the sweet mystery of faithful devotion ; but now 
he could only idealise, he could not idolise. 
The world was full of friendly, gracious, inter- 



192 Beside Still Waters 

esting people. Circumstance spun one to and 
fro among the groups and companies; how 
could one give a unique regard, when there 
were so many that claimed allegiance and 
admiration? He saw others flit from passion 
to passion, from friendship to friendship — 
Hugh's aim was rather to be the same, to be 
loyal and true, to be able to take up a sus- 
pended friendship where he had laid it down ; 
the most shameful thing in the world seemed 
to him the ebbing away of vitality out of a 
relationship ; and therefore he would not give 
pledges which he might be unable to redeem. 
If the conscious soul survived mortal death, 
then perhaps these limitations of time and 
space, which suspended friendships, would 
exist no longer, and he could wait for that 
with a quiet hopefulness. But if it all passed 
away, and was as though it had never been, if 
life was but a leaping flame, a ripple on the 
stream, then how could one have the heart to 
tie indissoluble links? 

Hugh half understood that the weakness of 
his case was that he could argue about it at all. 
Others went blindly and ardently into loves 
and friendships, because an irresistible im- 
pulse carried them away — with Hugh the im- 
pulse was not irresistible. Meanwhile he would 
give what he could, offer rather than claim ; 



Coldness 193 

he would reject no proffer of friendship, but 
he would not, or perhaps he could not, fet- 
ter himself with heavy chains of emotion. But 
even so he was aware that this temperance, this 
balance of nature, was not a wholly beautiful 
or desirable thing. 

The perception of this came home to Hugh 
with peculiar force on a bright fresh day of 
early spring, when he walked with a friend in 
the broad green fields beside the Cam. They 
had been strolling first in the college gardens, 
where the snowdrops were pushing up, some of 
them bearing on their heads the crust of earth 
that had sheltered them ; crocuses rose in the 
borders, like little bursts of flame. A thrush 
was singing on a high bough, and seemed to 
be telling, in an eager mystery, the very hopes 
and dreams of Hugh's heart. He said some- 
thing that implied as much to his friend, who 
replied that he did not understand that. 

This friend of Hugh's was much younger than 
himself, of a fastidious and somewhat secluded 
nature, but possessing for Hugh the deep at- 
traction of a peculiar type of character. He had 
great critical and literary gifts, and seemed to 
Hugh to bring to the judgment of artistic work 
an extraordinarily clear and fine criterion of 
values. But beside this, he seemed to Hugh 
to have the power of entering into a very close 



194 Beside Still Waters 

and emotional relationship with people ; and 
out ip the meadows where the sun shone bright, 
the breeze blew soft, and the first daisies showed 
their heads among the grass, Hugh asked him 
to explain what he felt about his relationship 
with others. His friend said that it came to this, 
that it was the only real and vital thing in the 
world ; and when Hugh pressed him further, 
and asked him what he felt about the artistic 
life, his friend said that it was a great mystery, 
because art also seemed to him a strong, en- 
trancing, fascinating thing ; but that it ran coun- 
ter to and cut across his relations with others, 
and seemed almost like a violent and distract- 
ing temptation, that tore him away from all 
vital impulse. He added that the problem as 
to whether individuality endured (of which they 
had spoken earlier^ seemed to him not to affect 
the question at all, any more than it affected 
one's sleep or appetite. At this, for a moment, 
a mist seemed to roll away from Hugh's eyes, 
though he knew that it would close in again, and 
for an instant he understood ; to himself relations 
with others were but one class of beautiful ex- 
periences, like art, and music, and nature, and 
hints of the unseen; not differing in quality, 
but only in kind, from other experiences. 
Hugh saw, too, in the same flash of insight, 
that what kept him from emotional relation* 



Sensitiveness 195 

ships was a certain timidity — a dislike of any- 
thing painful or disturbing ; and that the mis- 
take he made, if that can be called a mistake 
which was so purely instinctive, was his desire 
to obliterate and annihilate all the unpleasing, 
painful, and disagreeable elements from all cir- 
cumstances and situations. The reason why 
Hugh did not hunger and thirst after friend- 
ship was, he saw, that inconveniences, humours, 
misunderstandings, mannerisms, entourage, were 
all so many disagreeable incidents which inter- 
fered with his tranquillity of enjoyment. If he 
had really loved, these things would have 
weighed as nothing in comparison with the 
need of satisfying the desire of relationship ; as 
it was, they weighed so much with Hugh that 
they overpowered the other instinct. It was 
really a sort of luxuriousness of temperament 
that intervened ; and Hugh felt that for a man 
to say that he loved his friends, and yet to 
allow this fastidious sense of discomfort to 
prevent his seeing them, was as if a man said 
that he was devoted to music, and yet allowed 
the tumult of concert-rooms to prevent his 
ever going to hear music. And yet the lan- 
guage of friendship was so familiar, and the 
power of multiplying relations with others was 
so facile a thing with Hugh, that he saw that 
his failure in the matter was a deplorable and a 



196 Beside Still Waters 

miserable thing. He was singularly and even 
richly equipped for the pursuit of friendship ; 
while his very sensitiveness, his inherent epicu- 
reanism, which made advance so easy, made 
progress impossible. 

And yet he realised that it was useless to de- 
plore this; that no amount of desire for the 
larger and deeper experience would make him 
capable of sustaining its pains and penalties. 
He saw that he was condemned to pass through 
life, a smiling and courteous spectator of beauty 
and delight ; but that, through a real and vital 
deficiency of soul, he could have no share in 
the inner and holier mysteries. 



XX 

Hitherto it had seemed to Hugh that life 
was a struggle to escape from himself, from 
that haunting personality which, like a shadow, 
dogged and imitated his movements, but all 
with a sombre blackness, a species of business- 
like sadness of gesture, doing heavily and me- 
chanically what he himself did with such 
blitheness and joy. Again and again that self 
seemed to thwart, to hinder, to check him. 
There were days, it seemed to him, when a 
conflict was waged, an unequal conflict, between 
that outer and that inner self. Days when the 
inner spirit was intense, alert, eager, and when 
the outer self was languid, dreary, mockingly 
sedate and indolent. Again there were days, 
and these were the saddest of all, when the 
inner spirit seemed to Hugh to be tranquil, 
high-minded, and strong ; when that outer self 
was malign, turbulent, and headstrong, and 
when all the resolution and vigour he possessed 
appeared to be wasted, not in following the 
higher aims and imaginings with a patient pur- 
197 



iqS Beside Still Waters 

pose, but in curbing and reining the rough and 
coltish nature that seemed so sadly yoked with 
his own. He felt on those days like a wearied 
and fretful charioteer, driving through a scene 
of rich and moving beauty, on which he would 
fain feast his eyes and heart, but compelled to 
an incessant watchfulness, a despairing strain, 
in watching and guiding his refractory, his 
spiteful steeds. The control he had never for- 
feited wholly. Perhaps his sensitiveness, his 
solitariness, his fastidiousness, had tended to 
keep his sensuous nature within bounds. 

But he went through strange moods, when 
he could almost wish that he had not been so 
cautious, so prudent ; he felt that he had trav- 
elled through life as a spectator merely ; and 
the element of passionate feeling, of confessed 
devotion, of uncalculating love, had passed him 
by. He used, in these moods, to wish that he 
had some soul-stirring experience to look back 
upon, some passionate affection, some over- 
powering emotion, which might have con- 
strained him to open and unashamed utterance. 
How had he missed, he used to ask himself, 
the experience . of a deep and whole-hearted 
love? There was nothing easier in the world 
than to establish a certain intimacy of relation. 
He had, he was aware, a friendly air and a cer- 
tain simple charm of manner, which made it an 



Limitations 199 

easy thing for him to say what was in his mind. 
A single interview was often enough for him to 
make a friendship. He had an acute superficial 
sensibility, which made it very easy for him to 
divine another's tastes and emotions ; and his 
own emotional experiences, his freedom of ex- 
pression, gave him the power of interpreting 
and entering into the feelings of others. But 
his experience was always the same. He could 
clasp hands with another soul, he could step 
pleasantly and congenially through the ante- 
rooms and corridors of friendship ; but as soon 
as the great door that led to the inner rooms 
of the house came in sight, a certain coldness, 
a shamefacedness held him back ; the hand was 
dropped, the expected word unspoken. 

Thus Hugh found himself with a great num- 
ber of close friends, and without a single 
intimate one. He had never bared his heart 
to another, he had never seen another heart 
bare before his eyes. He had never let him- 
self go. Thus he was a master, so to speak, of 
the emotional elements up to a certain point ; 
but he had never made a surrender of himself, 
and had always with a certain coldness checked 
any signs of a surrender in others. A close 
friendship had once been abruptly ended by 
the bestowal of certain deep confidences by his 
friend, sad and touching confidences. This 



200 Beside Still Waters 

incident, had drawn a veil between him and his 
friend, a veil that he could not withdraw. His 
evident coldness, on the day following, to the 
friend who had trusted him, disconcerted and 
repelled the other. Hugh could remember a 
mute and appealing look that he gave him ; but 
though he felt that he was acting ungenerously 
and even basely, he could only meet it with a 
blank and repellent gaze, and the friendship had 
been broken off, never to be renewed. He had 
made, too, friends with women both of his own 
age and older ; but the moment that the friend, 
ship seemed cemented, the emotion on Hugh's 
part cooled into a camaraderie which was both 
misunderstood and blamed. Why go so far if 
you did not mean to go further ? appeared to be 
the unuttered question which met him ; to 
which his own temperament seemed always to 
to reply. Why shake our easy and comfortable 
friendship by distracting and bewildering emo- 
tions ? It was, Hugh grew to discern, a real 
blot in his character ; it was a prudence, a cau- 
tion in emotional things, a terror, no doubt in 
a sensitive spirit of giving pledges, of making 
vows, of surrendering the will and the spirit. It 
did not indeed bring him unhappiness — that was 
the saddest part of it ; but it left him involved 
in a kind of selfish isolation. His soul, he felt, 
was like a smiling island, which with its green 



A Barren Land 201 

glades and soft turf invites the wayfarer to set 
foot therein, with a smiling welcome from the 
spirit of the place. But the wood once pene- 
trated, then at the back of the paradise ran a 
cliff-front of sad-coloured crags, preventing fur- 
ther ingress. If indeed the shrirte of the island 
had stood guarded within a temple which, in its 
deep columned and shadowed recesses, had 
shielded a holy presence, it would have been 
different ; but the land beyond was bare and 
desolate. That was, Hugh thought, the solu- 
tion. The bright foreshore, the waving trees 
the shelter and fountains, seemed to promise a 
place of delicate delights ; and there were some 
of those who landed there, who, on seeing the 
pale cliff behind, believed, with a deep curiosity, 
that some very sacred and beautiful thing must 
there be enshrined. But it was the emptiness 
of the further land, Hugh thought, that made 
it imperative to guard the mystery. In that 
bare land indeed he himself seemed to pace, 
bitterly pondering ; he would even kneel on 
the bare rocks, and hold out his hands in 
intense entreaty to the God who had made him 
and who withdrew Himself so relentlessly with- 
in the blank sky, that a blessing might fall upon 
the stony wilderness. But this blessing was 
withheld ; whether by his own fault, or through 
the just will of the Father, Hugh could not 



202 Beside Still Waters 

wholly discern. The hard fact remained that 
the inner fortress was blank and bare, and that 
no friend or lover could be invited thither. 

But as Hugh's manhood melted into his 
middle age, the conflict between the outer and 
inner spirit decreased. He was still, as ever, con- 
scious of the coldness of his inner heart ; but he 
grew to believe that a compromise was possible, 
and that his work was to cheer and welcome, 
with all the outer resources at his command, any 
pilgrims who sought his aid. He became pa- 
tiently and unwearyingly kind. There was no 
trouble he would not take for any one who ap- 
pealed to him. He gave a simple affection, a 
quiet sympathy, with eager readiness ; and 
learned that, if he lacked that fiery and impe- 
tuous core of emotion, which can make the 
whole world different to those who can light 
their torches at -its glow, yet he could smooth 
the path and comfort the steps of less ardent, 
less impulsive spirits. He could add something 
of light and warmth to the cold world. If some- 
times those who were attracted by his genial 
bearing and sympathetic kindness were disap- 
pointed and troubled at finding how slender a 
stream it was, well, that was inevitable. He 
realised himself that his was a shallow nature, 
full of motion and foam, wide but not deep, and 
that its bright force and swift curves hid from 



A Quiet Choice 203 

others, though not from himself, its lack of force 
and energy. And so when it came to him to lay 
aside his public work, and to enter a life which 
seemed an almost disappointingly meagre field 
to those who had formed high hopes of him, 
believing that he had a rich and prodigal na- 
ture, a depth of insight and force, he made the 
change himself with a fervent and abundant 
gratitude ; feeling that he was unequal to the 
larger claims, and would but have attempted to 
hide his lack of force under a certain brisk live- 
liness and paradoxical display ; while that in the 
narrow channel which his life now entered, he 
would at least be employing all the force of 
which he was capable. 

He was not free from misgivings ; but he felt 
that what appeared to be a shrinking and coward- 
ly diffidence to others, was the inevitable result 
of the richness of his outer nature, the exuber- 
ance of which they held to issue from a reservoir 
of secret force ; but, though he sighed at their 
disappointment, he felt that he was estimating 
himself more truly; and that he lacked that 
inner fulness of spirit, that patient unselfish- 
ness, which could alone have sustained him. He 
remained indeed a child, with the charm, the 
gaiety, the simplicity of a child, but with the 
wilfulness, the faint-heartedness, the desultori- 
ness of a child. And he felt that in making his 



204 Beside Still Waters 

choice he was indeed following the will of his 
Father, making the most of his single talent, 
instead of juggling with it to make it appear to 
be two or even ten. 

He had his reward in an immediate and simple 
tranquillity of spirit. He never doubted nor 
looked back. Those who saw him, and thought 
regretfully what he might have been, what he 
might have done, would sometimes give utter- 
ance to their disappointment, and even peevish- 
ly blame him. But here again his coldness of 
temperament assisted him. He submitted to 
such criticisms and censures with a regretful air, 
as though he were half convinced of their truth. 
But the severer and sterner spirit within was 
never touched oraiifected. Ambitious and fond 
of display as he had been, the loss of dignity 
and influence weighed nothing with him ; he was 
even surprised to find how little it touched him 
with any sense of regret or yearning. His fear 
had been once that perhaps he was great, and 
that indolence and luxuriousness alone held him 
back from exercising that greatness. But God 
had been good to him in neither humiliating 
nor exposing him, and now that he himself had 
lifted the lid of the ark in the innermost shrine, 
and had seen how bare and unfurnished it was, 
he saw in a flash of humble insight how wisely 
he was held back. 



The Vale of Humiliation 205 

Truth, however painful, has always something 
bracing and sustaining about it ; and the days in 
which Hugh learned the truth about himself had 
nothing of gloom or sadness about them. The 
discovery indeed surprised him with a certain 
lightness and freshness of spirit. He smiled to 
think that he had entered the vale of humilia- 
tion, and had found it full of greenness and 
musical with fountains. A great flood of peace 
flowed in upon him ; and all the delicate love 
of nature, of trees and skies, of flowers and mov- 
ing water, came back to him with an increased 
and deep significance. Before he had seen their 
outward appearance ; now he looked into their 
spirit ; and so he passed along the dreary valley 
light of foot and singing to himself. Mr. Fear- 
ing, in the Pilgrim's Progress, went down from 
the House Beautiful into the valley, said Mr. 
Greatheart, " as well as ever I saw man in my 
life. I never saw him better in all his pilgrim- 
age than when he was in that valley. Here he 
would lie down, embrace the ground, and kiss 
the very flowers that grew in the valley. He 
would now be up every morning by break of day 
tracing and walking to and fro in this valley. " 

Even so was it with Hugh. The place that 
he had feared was revealed to him in a moment 
as his native air. Men do not lose all of a sud- 
den their temptations^ and least of all those 



2o6 Beside Still Waters 

who have desired the prize rather than the la^ 
hour. But Hugh saw that the place where he 
set his feet was holy. And as for his poor de- 
sires, he put them in the hands of his Father, 
and rejoiced to find that they were faithfully 
and serenely purged away. 

He began to learn, but with what infinite 
difficulty, what entanglement of delay, that the 
great mistake that he had made in his religious 
life, was the limiting the direct influence of 
God to the pietistic, the devotional region. All 
the tender and remote associations of child- 
hood had to be broken off and drawn away one 
by one, as one snaps and pulls ivy down from a 
wall, before he could reach the thought he was 
approaching ; and how often, too, did the old 
conception surprise him, interrupt him, entangle 
him again unawares ! It seemed to Hugh, re- 
flecting on the problem, how strange a thing 
was the pageant life all about him, the march of 
invisible winds, the sweeping up of cloudy va- 
pours, the slow ruin of rocky places, the spill- 
ing of sweet streams ; and then, in a nearer 
region, the quaint arbitrary forms of living 
creatures, their innate instincts, their intelli- 
gence, so profoundly and delicately organised 
in one direction, so weak in another ; and then 
again the horrible threads of cruelty, of suffering, 
of death, inwoven so relentlessly in the fabric 



Contradictions 207 

of the world, the pitiless preying of beast upon 
beast ; and, further still, the subtle and pathetic 
wisdom of the human spirit, sadly marking 
what is amiss, and setting itself so feebly, so 
pitifully, to amend it ; the shaping of communi- 
ties, the social moralities, so distinct from, so ad- 
verse to the morality of nature — reflecting, as 
I say, on these things, Hugh became aware, 
with a growing astonishment, that though 
mankind attributed, in an easy and perfunctory 
way, all these phenomena to the creative hand 
of God, yet instead of trying to form a concep- 
tion of Him and His dark thoughts from this 
legible and gigantic handwriting, which revealed 
so impenetrable, so imperturbable a will, they 
sought to trace His influence only in some be- 
wildered region of the human spirit, the struggles 
of inherited conscience, the patient charity of 
men, that would seek to knot up the loose ends 
which, in their pathetic belief in self-developed 
principles, they could not help imagining that 
the Maker of all had left unravelled and untied. 
To believe in God and yet to seek to im- 
prove upon His ways ! what a strange and in- 
credible contradiction ! And yet what made 
the position a more bewildering one still was 
the certainty that these very inner impulses to 
amend, to improve, came from God as clearly as 
the very evils that He permitted and indeed 



2o8 Beside Still Waters 

originated. What was the exit from this intol- 
erable tangle of thought ? Law indeed seemed 
absolute, law on a scale at once so colossal and 
so minute, law that sent the planets whirling 
througl^ space round the central sun — and yet 
dwelt, cell within cell, in the heart of the small- 
est pebble that rolled upon the sea-beach. And 
side by side with this law ran a thwarting force, 
an impulse to make man do blindly the very 
things that led inevitably to destruction, to en- 
dow him with an intense desire of life, and yet 
to leave him ignorant of the laws that hurried 
him, reluctant and amazed, to death. Hugh 
grew to feel that some compromise was neces- 
sary ; that to live in the natural impulses alone, 
or in the developed impulses alone, was an im- 
possibility. A hundred voices called him, a 
hundred hands beckoned or waved him back ; 
nature prompted one thing, reason another, as- 
sociation another, piety another ; and yet each 
was in a sense the calling of God. The saddest 
thing was that to obey any of the voices brought 
no peace or tranquillity ; he obeyed piety, and 
nature continued fiercely to prompt the oppo- 
site; he obeyed association, and reason mocked 
his choice. He became aware that in order to 
triumph over these manifold and uneasy con- 
tradictions, a certain tranquillity of mind must 
be acquired ; he found that to a large extent he 



Intuition 209 

must trust intuition, which could at all events 
settle, if it could not reconcile, conflicting 
claims ; even when reason indicated a choice of 
paths, the voice of the soul cried out clearly the 
way that he must choose ; the obedience to in- 
tuition was generally approved by experience, 
until Hugh began to see, at last, that it was the 
guide of all, and that thus we came nearest to 
the heart of God. He found, indeed, very often, 
that even when prudence and reason afforded 
excellent reasons for abstaining from action, to 
yield to intuition turned out to be the wisest 
and the kindest course ; until, in practical mat- 
ters, he learned to trust it unhesitatingly, even if 
it led him, as the light led the pilgrim, to stum- 
ble for a time in a field full of dark mountains. 



XXI 

There was, as I have said, a strong vision- 
ary tendency in Hugh, which had been to a 
certain extent restricted in the days of his pro- 
fessional life ; but now that he was free, it be- 
gan to recur with extraordinary frequency and 
force. It was when he was reading that this fac- 
ulty visited him, as a rule, and more especially 
when he read, as he was accustomed to do, after he 
was awake in the morning, until the time came 
for him to rise. The mind, struggling to free 
itself from the dominion of sleep, had not yet 
put on the obedience of the day, but seemed to 
act with whimsical independence of its own. 
His thoughts were then most apt to wear 
a melancholy tinge ; a certain apprehensive 
shadow often lay upon him, a sense of being un- 
equal to the claims of the day, a tendency to 
rehearse, without hopefulness or spring, the 
part he would have to play, to exaggerate dif- 
ficulties and obstacles. Reading, as a rule, 
served to distract his thoughts ; but it was 
hardly an intellectual so much as a meditative 

210 



A Far-off Day 211 

process ; the thoughts and words of the writer, 
on such occasions, often seemed to him like 
beaters going through a covert, tramping the 
fern and rapping the tree trunks, starting from 
their lairs all kinds of hidden game. 

One morning he was lying thus, reading 
quietly, when there suddenly darted into his 
mind, for no particular reason, the thought of a 
summer day he had spent as a small boy at his 
public school. It had been a holiday ; the day 
cloudless and bright, yet with a delicious cool- 
ness in the air ; and the sunshine fell, he re- 
membered, on the great trees of the place and 
the venerable buildings, gleaming through a 
golden haze, which made it seem as though he 
viewed everything, not through empty air, but 
through a tinted and tangible medium, as it 
were an aerial honey, which lent a liquid sweet- 
ness to all outlines and surfaces. He had wan- 
dered off with a friend, in that perfect afternoon, 
through the meadows, for a long vague ramble, 
ending up with a bathe in the river. The day 
was beautifully still, and he could almost smell 
the hot honeyed fragrance of the flowers, and 
hear the angry murmur of the busy flies, that 
sat basking on the leaves of the hedgerow. 
He seemed to himself to have been full of a 
vague and restless emotion, a sense of happi- 
ness that just missed its end, that would have 



212 Beside Still Waters 

been complete if there had not been something 
wanting, some satisfaction of an instinct that 
he could not put into words. His companion 
had been a boy of his own age, who, it had 
seemed to Hugh, was in the same wistful mood. 
But there had been no attempt to express in 
words any of these thoughts. They had 
walked for the most part in silence, interrupted 
by the vague, inconsequent, and rather gru£f re- 
marks, that are the symbols of equal friendship. 
They had rambled a long way beside the stream, 
with the thick water-plants growing deep at the 
edge. The river came brimming down, clear 
and cool, the tiny weeds swaying among the 
dark pools, the rushes bowing and bending, as 
though plucked by unseen hands. The stream 
was full of boys in boats, and the eager noise 
and stir were not congenial to Hugh's medita- 
tive mood. The bathing-place was by a weir 
where the green water plunged through the 
sluices, filling the stream with foam and sound; 
all about floated the exquisite reedy smell of 
warm river water, bringing with it a sense of 
cool and unvisited places, hidden backwaters 
among green fields, where the willows leaned 
together, and the fish hung mute in the pools. 
They had bathed under a tall grove of poplars, 
and Hugh could remember the delicious fresh- 
ness of the turf under his naked feet, and the 



A Compact 213 

sun- warmed heat of the wooden beams of the 
wharf. The plunge in the cold bubbling water 
had swept all his thoughts away into the mere 
joy of life, but as he sat, after dressing, with the 
music of the water in his ears, the same wistful 
mood had settled down on his mind. 

What did it all mean ? Whither was all this 
beauty, this delight tending? He thought of 
all the generations of boys who had bathed in 
this place, full of joy and life. Where were 
they all now? He thought of those who 
should come after, when he too was gone to 
take his place in the world. And then they 
had gone slowly back through the meadows, 
with a delicious languor of sensation ; the sun 
was now beginning to decline, and the blue 
wooded hills across the stream, with the smoke 
going up beneath them from unseen houses, 
wore the same air of holding some simple and 
sweet secret which they would not tell, and 
which Hugh could not penetrate. It was sad, 
too, to think that the beautiful day was done, 
become a memory only ; and that he must 
plunge again for the morrow and for many 
morrows into the tide of affairs and boisterous 
life. He made one effort to put his thoughts 
into words. Putting his arm for a moment in 
the arm of his companion, he said, " Let us 
remember to-day ! " His friend, who was 



214 Beside Still Waters 

walking sedately along with a stalk of grass 
between his lips, looked at him in a peculiar 
manner, smiled and nodded ; this little com- 
pact, so quietly made, seemed for an instant to 
have brought Hugh and his friend together 
into a charmed circle. Had his friend forgot- 
ten what he remembered? The last time he 
had seen him, he had found a prosperous busi- 
ness man, full of affairs ; and he had not 
reminded him of the day when they went 
together by the stream. 

The whole picture came before Hugh as an 
almost impossible sweet and rapturous mem- 
ory, clutching with a poignant passion at his 
heart. What was the secret of the fragrant 
days that had departed and could never return ? 
Was it well to recall them? And what too 
was the secret of that strange and beautiful 
alchemy of the mind, that forgot all the trou- 
bles and cares of the old life, and even touched 
the few harsh incidents that it did retain with 
a wistful beauty, as though they had had soriie 
desirable element in them ? Would it not be 
better, more tranquillising for the spirit, if the 
memory retained only the dark shadows of 
the past? so that the mind could turn with 
zest and interest to the joys of the moment? 
Instead of that, memory tempted the soul, by 
a kind of magical seduction, to dwell only upon 



Fragrant Memories 215 

what was sweet and beautiful in the past, 
thereby emphasising and heightening the sense 
of dissatisfaction with the present. Was it 
true that the very days that were then passing, 
those sober, uneventful days, would at some 
future time be touched by the same reluctant, 
pathetic quality of recollection ? It was cer- 
tainly so ; the mind, dwelling on the past, had 
that extraordinary power of rejecting all the 
dreary debris of life, and leaving only the pure 
gold, a hundred times refined ; and yet it 
brought with it that mournful shadow of sad- 
ness, of the irrevocable, the irreplaceable past. 
But it seemed, too, to hold a hope within it, a 
hope that, if the pilgrimage of the soul were 
not to be ended by death, then memory, un- 
shadowed by present sadness, in the deep con- 
tent of a freedom from all material anxieties, 
might become one of the purest and deepest 
treasures that it was possible to conceive. 
Hugh thought that his disembodied spirit 
might, in the after time, perhaps haunt those 
very river-banks, and with the mystery solved 
that had oppressed and darkened his human 
pilgrimage, might surrender itself to that beau- 
tiful and absolute tranquillity, that peace which 
the world could not give, for which he daily 
and hourly yearned. Perhaps indeed it was 
the presence of some such invisible, haunting 



2i6 Beside Still Waters 

revenant whispering at his ear, longing even 
for some contact with healthy humanity, that 
had given him the wistful sense of mystery 
and longing. Who could say ? 

And then the mood of recollection lapsed 
and rolled away like mists from a morning hill, 
and left Hugh once more confronted with the 
ugliness and dreariness of the actual world ; 
only from his vision remained the hope, the 
resolution, to extract from life, as it passed, the 
purest and most delicate elements; its sweet- 
ness, its serenity ; so that he might leave, as far 
as was possible, an inheritance of undimmed 
beauty for the memory to traffic with, to rid it 
so far as he could from all the envy, the dull 
detail, the tiresome complexities that might 
poison retrospect, leaving nothing but the fine 
gold of thought. 



XXII 

Hugh was wandering as his custom was, one 
hot and thunderous day, in the country lanes ; 
it was very still, and through the soft haze that 
filled the air, the distant trees and fields lost 
their remoteness, and stood stiffly and quaintly 
as though painted. There seemed a presage of 
storm in the church-tower, which showed a ghost- 
ly white among the elms. A fitful breeze stirred 
at intervals. Hugh drew near the hamlet, 
and all of a sudden stepped into a stream of 
inconceivable swiftness and fragrance ; he saw 
in a moment what was its origin. The straw- 
berry-pickers were out in a broad field, and 
from the crushed berries, however lightly bruis- 
ed, there poured this flow of scent, at once rich 
and pure, with all the native soul of the fruit ex- 
haling upon the air. It was to other familiar 
scents like ointment poured forth ; it seemed 
indeed to Hugh that anything so intensely im- 
pressive to the sense ought to have power to 
tinge the colourless air, which was thus so 
exquisitely laden and impregnated. 
217 



2i8 Beside Still Waters 

He was now close to the church. It was 
a little, low, ancient structure, with a small, 
quaint, open belfry, beautifully proportioned, 
and all built out of a soft and mellow grey 
stone. The grass grew long in the church- 
yard, which was not so much neglected as 
wisely left alone, and an abundance of pink 
mallow, growing very thickly, gave a touch 
of bright colour to the grass. He stopped 
for a while considering the grave of a child, 
who died at the age of five years, with an 
artless epitaph painted on a wooden cross. 
The grave was piously tended, though it 
bore a date of some ten years back ; there 
were little rose-trees growing there, and a 
border of pansies, all the work, Hugh fancied 
of children, doing gentle honour to a dead 
sister ; whom they thought of, no doubt, as ly- 
ing below in all her undimmed childish beauty ; 
the pale face, the waxen limbs, the flowing 
hair, as they had looked their last upon her, 
waiting in a quiet sleep for the dawn of that 
other morning. How much better to think 
of her so, than of the dreadful reality which 
Hugh, in a sudden, almost terrified, flash of 
fancy, knew to be lying, an almost insup- 
portable blot upon all that was fair and 
seemly, in the stained and mouldered coffin. 
Yet there was a place for that difficult horror 



Death 219 

too in the scheme of things, though the 
thought seemed almost to taint the sweet air 
of the place. 

This was only one of the parts of the 
great mystery over which he brooded so often ; 
the noisome things of the world, its weakness 
its decay; the shivering repugnance of the 
spirit, the almost impossibility of joy or cour- 
age in the presence of such thoughts ; that 
was the strangest part of it, the rebellion of 
the inmost central spirit against what was so 
natural, so common. Death was harsh enough, 
but that it should be attended with such an 
extremity of disgrace and degradation — that 
seemed an intolerable thing. 

Yet to the charnel-worm, rioting in all the 
horror of decay, there could be nothing but a 
blind joy in the conditions which Hugh hardly 
even dared to imagine. To indulge such 
thoughts was morbid, perhaps. But here they 
presented themselves at every turn, and Hugh 
felt that to turn his back upon them was but to 
shirk the part of the problem that he disliked. 
Not so could he attain to any knowledge of the 
secret of things. The horror must not of course 
be unduly emphasised ; the morbidity lay there, 
in the danger of seeing things out of due pro- 
portion ; but the proportion was just as much 
sacrificed, indeed more sacrificed, by ignoring 



220 Beside Still Waters 

the facts. Neither was he at all afraid of any 
undue preponderance of the morbid element in 
his contemplations. He took far too deep a 
delight in the beautiful and gracious sights and 
sounds of earth for that; and the conclusion 
that he drew, as he turned away, was that a 
suspension of judgment in the face of an in- 
solyble mystery was the only course ; to leave 
the windows of the soul open to every im- 
pression, to every fact, whether it was the 
voice and glance of humanity, the sweetness of 
art and sound, the appeal of ancient buildings, 
the waving of tall trees, the faces of bright 
flowers, the songs of lively birds in the thicket — 
ay, and the intimations of death and decay as 
well, all that was ugly and wretched in human- 
ity, the coarse song from the alehouse, the 
slatternly woman about her weary work, the 
crying of a child that had been punished, 
the foul oozings of the stockyard. These were 
all as real, as true impressions as the others. 
To strike some balance, neither to forget the 
ideal in the real, or to lose sight of the real in 
the ideal, that was his task. And the con- 
solation, though a stern one, lay in the fact 
that, dark and bitter as the mystery was at 
one point, gracious and glowing as it Vas at 
another, yet it was certainly there. Concrete 
and abstract, the impressions of sense, the in- 



The Real and the Ideal 221 

tuitions of the spirit, each and all had their 
part. In this life, this swift interchange of 
darkness and light, of sunshine and gloom, he 
might never approach the secret — nay, he did 
not even hope that he would. But at least he 
could draw a few steps nearer, and with a 
humble heart he would wait for the glory that 
should be revealed, or for the silence and dark- 
ness that, it might be, would close upon him. 
For whatever should be the end, Hugh had no 
doubt that there was certainly behind life a 
mind and a will, to which it was not only no 
mystery, but a truth simple, obvious, and plain ; 
for him, his duty was to use both observation 
and imagination ; not to let the imagination 
outrun the observation, but to mark all that he 
could, and infer what he could ; while at the 
same time he felt equally sure that he was not 
to be a mere observer ; blindly registering im- 
pressions, content to analyse difificulties. Bet- 
ter than that was to repose an ardent faith in 
his intuitions ; but each alike, w^ithout the aid 
of the other, was perilous and insecure. 

While he thus reflected, there seemed to flow 
into his mind a deep melancholy, which, like a 
dark liquid dropped into clear water, began to 
tinge and cloud the translucent tide. To live 
by a due proportion of emotion and reason, 
that was the problem ; but how were they to 



222 Beside Still Waters 

be mingled? One seemed so isolated in the 
matter, so left without any certainty of guid- 
ance. If one allowed emotion too great a 
latitude, one became sentimental, unbalanced, 
personal ; if one was swayed by reason, one 
became dry, impersonal, cold. Was one indeed 
meant to stumble along the track, making irre- 
parable mistakes, seeing only in retrospect, with 
a shocking clearness of vision, what one ought 
to have done? Was one to regret alike im- 
pulse and prudence? And the ©Id faults of 
temperament, how they appeared and re- 
appeared ! However clearly one saw one's 
mistakes, however much one admired nobleness, 
and generosity, and courage, could one change 
the innermost character at all? The ghastly 
fact was that one seemed framed to desire 
the unattainable. What broken, faded, feeble 
things the majority of men's lives were ! The 
pageant of human life seemed nothing more 
than failure on a gigantic scale. 

Suddenly the lightning writhed and fell, the 
thunder broke out over Hugh's head, as he 
walked in the quiet lane, a rattling, furious peal, 
like leaden weights poured in a cascade upon a 
vast boarded floor — an inconceivable sound, from 
its sharpness, its tangibility, its solidity, to pro- 
ceed from those soft regions of the air, in which 
a velvety greyness dwelt suffused, with a lurid 



A Thunder Shower 223 

redness in the west. The rain fell a moment 
afterwards in a soft sheet, leaping in the road, 
and making a mist above the ground. 

It was soon over, while Hugh sheltered in a 
big barn, with a pleasant dark dusty roof, and 
high piles of fragrant straw all about him. 

What a change when he stepped out ! the 
thunder had leaped into the west, the air was 
clean and sweet, and a ravishing scent came 
from the satisfied fields. 

With the drench of rain, something poisonous 
seemed to have been washed out of Hugh's 
mind. All that afternoon, in the sullen heat, 
he had brooded stupidly and miserably enough, 
picking up, as it were, dart after dart from his 
little bundle of cares and miseries, and pricking 
his heart with them. 

Where was it all gone ? In the clear fresh 
air he felt like a man awaked from a night- 
mare, and restored to cheerful life again. What 
did past failures, future anxieties, matter to 
him ? He had his work, his place, his liberty, 
and what further could he need ? 

His liberty ! How good that was ! He might 
go and come as he would, unquestioned, un- 
blamed. He thought with a pitying horror of 
what his life had previously been — the tangle 
of small engagements, the silly routine work, 
in which no one believed ; they had all been 



224 Beside Still Waters 

bound on a kind of make-believe pilgrimage, 
carrying burdens round and round, and put- 
ting them down where they had taken them up. 

He determined that, whatever happened, he 
would do no more work in which he did not 
believe, that he would say what he felt, not 
what traditional formulas required him to say. 
Work ! he believed in that with all his heart, so 
long as it had an end, an object. To wrestle 
with the comprehension of some difficult mat- 
ter, there were few pleasures like that ! but it 
must have' been an advance, when it was over; 
one must feel thatx)ne is stronger, more clear- 
minded, more alert, more sincere ; one must not 
feel that one was only more weary, more dis- 
satisfied. His path was clear before him at all 
events. 

Plans and schemes liegan to rise in Hugh's 
brain ; he felt as if he was delivered from the 
brooding sway of some evil and melancholy 
spirit. How strange was the power that physi- 
cal conditions had upon the very stuff of the 
mind ! Half an hour ago the grievances, the 
self-pity, the dissatisfaction had appeared to 
him to be real and tangible troubles ; not in- 
deed things which it was wise to brood over, 
but inevitable pains, to be borne with such 
philosophy as was attainable. But now they 
seemed as unreal, as untrue, as painful dreams. 



Storm and Shadow 225 

from which one wakes with a sharp and great 
relief. 

What remained with Hugh was the sense of 
one of the dangers of solitary life — the over-in- 
fluence, the preponderance of sentiment. The 
only serenity was to be found in claiming and 
expecting nothing, but in welcoming what came 
as a gift, as an added joy, to which one had in- 
deed no right ; but which fell like the sunshine 
and the rain ; one must be ready to help, to 
work, to use one's strength at whatever point 
it could be best applied, and to look for no re- 
ward. This was what poisoned life, the claim 
to be paid in the coin that pleased one best. 
Payment indeed was made largely ; and the 
blessed thing was that if one was not paid fully 
for one's efforts, neither was one paid relent- 
lessly for one's mistakes. 

And then, as to the deeper shadows of the 
world, the sorrow^^-^he bereavements, the suf- 
ferings, the dark possibilities, that lay like the 
shadows of trees across a sunlit road — d^ath 
itself, that grim horizon that closed the view 
whichever way one looked — the mistake lay in 
attempting to reckon with them beforehand, to 
anticipate them, to discount them. They were 
all part of the plan, and one could not alter 
them. Better to let them come, to husband 
strength and joy to meet them, rather than to 



226 Beside Still Waters 

dissipate one's courage by dwelling upon them. 
Indeed all Hugh's experience showed him that 
troubles, even the deepest, wore a very different 
aspect when one was inside them. 

The very storm itself was a parable. Those 
zigzag ribbons of purple fire, the fierce shout- 
ing of the thunderclap that followed ! In all 
the wide forest-tracts over which the tempest 
hung, all that grim artillery did but rend and 
split some one tough tree. Rather it turned 
again to gladden the earth, and the tears of 
heaven, that fell so steeply, only laid the dust 
of the hot road, and filled the pasture of the 
lane with the fragrance of the cleansed earth 
and the comforted brake. 



XXIII 

As Hugh became more and more enamoured 
of his work, and of the sweet peace of the 
country side, he became more and more averse 
to visiting London. But he was forced to do 
this at intervals. One hot summer day he went 
thus reluctantly to town ; the rattle of the 
train, the heated crowd of passengers, the 
warm mephitic air that blew into the car- 
riage from the stifling, smoke-grimed tunnel — 
all these seemed to him insupporably disgust- 
ing. But the sight, the sound, the very smell 
of London itself, was like a dreadful obsession ; 
he wondered how he could ever have endured 
to live there. The streets lay in the steady 
sun, filled with fatigued, hurrying persons. 
The air was full of a sombre and oppressive 
murmur ; the smell of the roadways, the hot 
vapour of cook-shops, the din and whizz of 
vehicles, the ceaseless motion of faces : all this 
filled him with a deep pity for those who had 
to live their lives under such conditions. Was 
it to this that our bo£isted civilisation had 

227 



228 Beside Still Waters 

brought us ? and yet it seemed that the normal 
taste of ordinary people turned by preference 
to this humming and buzzing life, rather than 
to the quiet and lonely life in the green spaces 
of the country ; Hugh had little doubt that 
the vast majority of those he saw, even the 
pale, patient work-people who were * peeping, 
as they toiled, grimy and sweat-stained, from 
the open windows, would choose this life rather 
than the other, and would have condemned 
the life of the country as dull. Was it he, 
Hugh wondered, or they that were out of joint ? 
Ought he to accept the ordinary, sensible point 
of view, and try to conform himself to it, 
crush down his love for trees and open fields 
and smiHng waters? The sociable, herding 
instinct was as true, as God-sent an instinct as 
his own pleasure in free solitude ; and the old 
adage that God made the country but man made 
the town was as patently absurd as to say 
that God made the iceberg, but the ant made 
the ant-heap. 

He went to his club, a place which he rarely 
entered ; it was full of brisk and cheerful men, 
lunching with relish ; some of them had hur- 
ried in from their work, and were enjoying the 
hour of leisure ; some were the old frequenters 
of the place, men whose work in the world was 
over, as well as men who had never known 



The Club 229 

what it was to work. But these men, even 
some who seemed crippled with age and infirm- 
ity, seemed as intent upon their pleasures, 
as avid of news, as eager for conversation, 
as particular about their food, as if their 
existence was of a supreme and weighty im- 
portance, Hugh watched an elderly man, 
whom he knew by name, who was said to be 
the most unoccupied man in London, who 
was administering food and drink to himself 
with a serious air of delicate zest, as though he 
were presiding benevolently at some work of 
charity and mercy. He had certainly flourished 
on his idleness like a green bay tree ! Hugh 
was inclined to believe in the necessity to hap- 
piness of the observance of some primal laws, 
like the law of labour, but here was a contradic- 
tion to all his theories. He sighed to think of 
the mountains of carefully prepared food that 
this rosy, well-brushed person must have con- 
sumed in the course of his life ! He was a 
notoriously selfish man, who never laid out 
a penny except on his own needs and pleasures. 
Yet here was he, guarded like the apple of 
God's eye, and all the good things that the 
earth held — ease, comfort, independence, health 
honour, and the power of enjoyment — were 
heaped upon him with a liberal hand. No 
wonder he thought so well of the world ! Hugh 



230 Beside Still Waters 

had heard him say, with an air of virtuous 
complacency, that he was generally pretty 
comfortable, 

Hugh did not grudge his luxurious ease with 
the great statesman who sat in the corner, 
with an evening paper propped up on a silver 
dish, and some iced compound bubbling pleas- 
antly in his glass, smiling benignly at a carica- 
ture of himself. He, at all events, paid for his 
comforts by unremitting labour. But what of 
the sleek and goodly drones of the hive ? 

Hugh had some cheerful unmeaning talk with 
several of his old friends, who regretted that 
they saw so little of him; he laughed with 
careful enjoyment at some ancient stories, very 
familiar to him, told him with rich zest by an 
acquaintance. But he could not help speculat- 
ing what was the point of it all. Some of the 
happiest and most contented men there were 
high officials, engaged with a sense of solemn 
importance in doing work that could have 
been quite as well done by very ordinary peo- 
ple, and much of which, indeed, might as well 
have been left undone altogether. There was 
a bishop there, an old family friend of Hugh's 
father, with whom he entered into talk. The 
bishop had once been a man of great force and 
ability, who had been a conspicuous university 
teacher and had written profound books. But 



The Club 231 

now he was looking forward with a sense of 
solemn satisfaction to spending the following 
day in going down to his diocese in order to 
preside at a Church fite, make a humorous 
speech, and meet a number of important county 
people. There was no question of any relig- 
ious element entering into the function, and 
Hugh found himself dimly wondering whether 
such a development of the energies of Christ- 
ian elders was seriously contemplated in the 
Gospel. But the bishop seemed to have no 
doubts on the subject. 

Well, anyhow, this was life; this was what 
men had to do, and what as a rule they enjoyed 
doing. Hugh had no objection to that, so 
long as people freely admitted that it was sim- 
ply their chosen diversion, and that they did it 
because they liked it. It was only the solemn 
parade of duty that Hugh disliked. 

One of the friends whom Hugh met said 
to him smilingly that he heard that he had 
become quite a hermit — adding that he must 
confess that he did not look like one. Hugh 
replied laughingly that it was only that he was 
fortunate enough to discover that his work 
amused him more and more ; at which his 
friend smiled again, and told him to beware of 
eccentricity. 

Hugh began to wonder whether his simple 



232 Beside Still Waters 

and solitary life was indeed tinged with that 
quality; but he answered that he was finding 
out to his great delight that he was less afraid 
than he used to be of living alone, to which his 
friend, a good-humoured and ineffective man, 
said that he found that the stir and movement 
of town kept people from rusting. Hugh won- 
dered — but did not express his wonder — what 
was supposed to be the use of keeping the 
blade bright to no purpose ; and he wished to 
ask his contented friend what his object was; 
but that appeared to be priggish, so Hugh left 
the question unuttered. 

It was, however, with a huge relief, that 
his business over, Hugh found himself in the 
homeward train. But at the same time he 
took himself to task for finding this suspen- 
sion of routine, this interruption of his literary 
work, so unpalatable. He realised that he was 
becoming inconveniently speculative ; and that 
his growing impulse to get behind things, to 
weigh their value, to mistrust the conventional 
view of life, had its weak side. After all, the 
conventional, the normal view reflected the 
tastes of the majority of mankind. Their life 
was laid out and regulated on those lines ; and 
the regulating instinct was a perfectly natural 
development of human temperament. Ought 
he not to embrace it for himself ? was he not. 



The Garden of God 233 

perhaps, by seeking so diligently for fine fla- 
vours and intense impressions, missing the food 
of the banquet, and sipping only at the sauces ? 
If his own work had been of any particular im- 
portance ; if he was exercising a wide influence 
through his books, in the direction of leading 
others to love the simple sources of happi- 
ness, then his withdrawal from ordinary activi- 
ties and pleasures would be justifiable. Was 
it justified as it was ? Hugh could not answer 
the, question. He only knew that as the train 
glided on its way, as the streets became less 
dense, as the country verdure began to occupy 
more and more of the horizon ; as the train 
at last began to speed through wide fields full 
of ripening grain, and hamlets half hidden in 
high elms, he felt the blessed consciousness of 
returning freedom, the sense of recovering the 
region of peace and purity dear to his spirit ; 
and the thought of the hot stifling town, with 
all its veins and arteries full of that endless ebb 
and flow of humanity, seemed to him like a 
nightmare from which he was being gradually 
delivered, and which he was leaving far behind 
him. 

It was not peace, indeed ! there was the ob- 
stinate spirit, repining, questioning, reviewing 
all things, striving to pierce the veil. But the 
veil was not so thick as it had seemed in the 



234 Beside Still Waters 

city. There he was distracted, bewildered, 
agitated. But in this quiet country the veil 
seemed thin enough. The trees, the flowers, 
seemed somehow nearer to God, who of Very 
truth appeared to walk as of old in the garden, 
in the cool of the day. 



XXIV 

There wene some days when the whole air 
of the place, the houses, the fields, the gardens, 
even the very people that Hugh met in the 
streets, seemed to be full of romance and poet- 
ry. There was no particular quality about the 
days themselves, that Hugh could ever divine, 
that produced this impression. Perhaps such 
moods came oftener and more poignantly when 
the air was cool and fresh, when the temperate 
sun filled his low rooms from end to end, lay 
serene upon the pastures, or danced in the rip- 
ples of the stream. But the mood came just 
as inevitably on dull days, when the sky was 
roofed with high grey clouds, or even on raw 
days of winter, when fitful gusts whirled round 
corners, and when the spouts and cornices 
dripped with slow rains. In these hours the 
whole world seemed possessed by some gracious 
and sweet mystery ; everything was in the se- 
cret, everything was included in the eager and 
high-hearted conspiracy. It was all the same, 
on such days, whether Hugh was alone or with 
company; if he was among friends or even 
235 



236 Beside Still Waters 

strangers, they seemed to look upon him, to 
speak, to move, with a blithe significance; he 
seemed to intercept tender messages in a casual 
glance, to experience the sense of a delighted 
good-will, such as reigns among a party of friends 
on an expedition of pleasure. This mood did 
not produce in Hugh the sense <fi merriment or 
high spirits; it was not an excited frame of 
mind ; it was rather a feeling of widespread 
tenderness, a sort of brotherly admiration. At 
such moments, the most crabbed and peevish 
person seemed to be transfigured, to be acting 
a delightful part for the pleasure of a spectator, 
and an inner benevolence, a desire to contribute 
zest and amusement to the banquet of life, 
seemed to underlie the most fractious gestures 
or irritable speech. On such days, one seemed 
to have an affectionate understanding with even 
slight acquaintances, an understanding which 
seemed to say, " We are all comrades in heart, 
and nothing but circumstance and bodily limi- 
tation prevents us from being comrades in life." 
Hugh used to fancy that this mood was like an 
earnest of the bodiless joy, the free companion- 
ship of heaven, if such a place there were, where 
one should know even as one was known, and 
be able to enter in and possess, in a flash of 
thought, the whole fabric of a fellow-creature's 
soul. 



The Romance of Life 237 

And then if Hugh spent such a day alone, his 
thoughts seemed to have the same enlighten- 
ing and invigorating quality. He did not fum- 
ble among dreary details, but saw swiftly into 
the essence of things, so that he smiled as he 
sat. A book would, on such occasions, touch 
into life a whole train of pretty thoughts, as a 
spark leaps along a scattered line of gunpowder. 
A few remembered lines of poetry, a few notes 
played by unseen hands on a musical instru- 
ment, from a window that he passed in the 
street, would give a sense of completed happi- 
ness ; so that one said, " Yes, it is like that ! " 
The palings of gardens, the screen of shrubs 
through which the pleasance could be dimly 
discerned within, the high trees holding up their 
branches to the air, all half guarded, half revealed 
the same jocund secret. Here, by a hedgerow, 
in a lane, Hugh would discern the beady eye of a 
fat thrush which hopped in the tall grass, or 
plied some tiny business among the stems, lift- 
ing his head at intervals to look briskly round. 
" I see you!" said Hugh, as he used to say long 
ago to the birds in the Rectory garden, and the 
bird seemed almost to nod his head in reply. 

And then, too, the houses that he passed all 
breathed the same air of romance. There, 
perhaps, behind the wall or at the open win- 
dow, sat or moved the one friend of whom he 



238 Beside Still Waters 

was ever in search ; but on these days it mat- 
tered little that he had not found him ; he 
could wait, he could be faithful, and Hugh 
could wait too, until the day when all things 
should be made new. If he walked on d^ys 
like these through some college court, the 
thought of the happy, careless, cheerful lives, 
lived there in strength and brightness, by genera^ 
tion after generation of merry young men, filled 
Hugh's heart with content ; he liked to think that 
all the world over, in busy offices, in grave par- 
lours, in pleasant parsonages, there were seri- 
ous, commonplace, well-occupied men, who 
perhaps, in a tiny flash of memory, sent back 
a wistful thought to the old walls and gables, 
the towns v/ith their chiming bells, and remem- 
bered tenderly the days of their blithe youth, 
the old companions, the lively hours. The 
whole world seemed knit together by sweet 
and gentle ties : labour and strife mattered 
little ; it was but a cloud upon the path, and 
would melt into the sunlit air at last. 

Hugh used to feel half amused at the irrepress- 
ible sense of youth which thrilled him still. As a 
boy, he had little suspected that the serious 
elderly men, of settled habits and close-shaved 
chins, had any such thoughts as these under 
their battered exteriors. He had thought that 
such persons were necessarily stolid and com- 



The Renewal of Youth 239 

fortable persons, believing in committees and 
correspondence, fond of food and drink, care- 
ful of their balance at the bank, and rather 
disgusted at than tolerant of the irrepressible 
levity and flightiness of youth. Yet now that 
he himself was approaching middle age, he was 
conscious, not indeed of increased levity or 
high spirits, but of undiminished vigour, wider 
sympathy, larger joy. Life was not only not 
less interesting, but it seemed rather to thrill 
and pulsate with fresh and delightful emotion. 
If he could not taste it with the same insou- 
ciance, it was only because he perceived its 
quality more poignantly. If life were less full 
of laughter, it was only because there were 
sweeter and more joyful things to enjoy. What 
was best of all about this later delight, was 
that it left no bitter taste behind it ; in youth, 
a. day of abandonment to elation, a day of 
breezy talk, hearty laughter, active pleasure, 
would often leave a sense of flatness' and dis- 
satisfaction behind it ; but the later joy had no 
sort of weaririess as its shadow ; it left one 
invigorated and hopeful. 

The most marked difference of all was in 
one's relations with others. In youth a new 
friendship had been a kind of excited capture ; 
it had been shadowed by jealousy ; it had been 
a desire for possession. One had not been con- 



240 Beside Still Waters 

tent unless one had been sure that one's friend 
had the same sort of unique regard that one 
experienced one's self. One had resented his 
other friendships, and wished to supersede them. 
But now Hugh had no such feeling. He had 
no desire to make a relationship, because the 
relationship seemed already there. If one met 
a sympathetic and congenial person, one made, 
as it were, a sort of sunlit excursion in a new 
and pleasing country. One admired the pro- 
spects, surveyed the contours. In old days, one 
had desired to establish a kind of fortress in 
the centre, and claim the fruitful land for one's 
own. 

Of coursfe, in Hugh's dealings with the youth- 
ful persons whom he encountered in his Cam- 
bridge life, he became aware of the existence 
of the subtle barrier which is erected between 
youth and middle age ; he was conscious often 
that the delightful egotism of youth has, as a 
rule, verj^ little deference for, or interest in, the 
opinions of older persons. Youth is so pro- 
foundly absorbed in its own visions, that it is 
very rarely curious about the duller reveries of 
older people. It regards them as necessarily 
dreary, grey, wise, and prudent. The only 
thing it values is sympathy for itself, just as a 
child is far more interested in the few chords 
which it can strum on a piano than in the rich- 



Youth 241 

est performance of a maestro. But Hugh did 
not find this to be disagreeable, because he was 
less and less concerned about the effect he pro- 
duced. He had found out that the joys of per- 
ception are at least equal to the joys of expres- 
sion. Youth cannot wait, it must utter its 
half-formed wishes, put out its crude fruits ; and 
it used to seem to Hugh that one of the most 
pathetic and beautiful things in the world was 
the intensity of feeling, the limitless dreams, that 
rose shadowily in a boy's mind side by side 
with the inarticulateness, the failure to com- 
mand any medium of expression. One of the 
reasons why the young and clever men are so 
desperately anxious to be amusing and hu- 
morous, is because they desire above all things 
to see the effect of their words, and long to 
convulse an audience ; while they lack, as a rule, 
the finished economy in which humour, to be 
effective, must be clothed. 

But, after all, what brought Hugh the best 
comfort, was the discovery that advancing years 
did not bring with them any lack of sensitive- 
ness, any dreariness, any sense of dulness. It 
was indeed rather the reverse. The whole fa- 
bric of life was richer, more impassioned, more 
desirable than he had ever supposed. In youth, 
emotion and feeling had seemed to him like 
oases in a desert, oases which one had to quit, 



242 Beside Still Waters 

when one crossed the threshold of life, to plod 
wearily among endless sands. But now he had 
found that the desert had a life, an emotion, a 
beauty of its own, and the oases of youthful 
fancy seemed to be tame and limited by com- 
parison. Hugh still thought with a shudder of 
old age, which lay ahead of him ; but even as 
he shuddered, he began to wonder whether that 
too would not open up to him a whole range of 
experienqes and emotions, of which to-day he 
had no inkling at all. Would life perhaps seem 
richer still ? That was what he dared to hope. 
Meanwhile he would neither linger nor make 
haste : he would not catch at the past as con- 
taining a lost and faded sweetness; neither 
would he anticipate, so far as he could help it, 
the closing of the windows of the soul. 



XXV 

One morning when he was sitting in his 
rooms at Cambridge, Hugh heard a knock at 
the door ; there presently entered a clergyman, 
whom at first sight Hugh thought to be a 
stranger, but whom he almost immediately re- 
cognised as an old school-fellow, called Ralph 
Maitland, whom he had not seen for more than 
twenty years. Maitland had been an idle, good- 
humoured boy, full of ideas, a great reader and 
a voluble talker. Hugh had never known him 
particularly well ; but he remembered to have 
heard that Maitland had fallen under religious 
impulses at Oxford, had become serious, had 
been ordained, and had eventually become a 
devoted and hard-working clergyman in a north- 
ern manufacturing town. He had been lately 
threatened with a break-down in health, and 
had been ordered abroad ; he had come to 
Cambridge to see some friends, and hearing 
that Hugh was in residence there, had called 
upon him. Hugh was very much interested to 
see him, and gradually began to discern the 
243 



244 Beside Still Waters 

smooth-faced boy he had known, under the 
worn and hard-featured mask of the priest. 
They spent most of that day together, and 
went out for a long walk. Hugh thought he 
perceived a touch of fanaticism about Maitland, 
who found it difficult to talk except on matters 
connected with his parish. But eventually he 
began to talk of the religious life, and Hugh 
gradually perceived that Maitland held a very 
ardent and almost fierce view of the priestly 
vocation ; he drew a picture of the joys of 
mortification and self-denial which impressed 
Hugh, partly because of its intensity, and partly 
also from an uneasy sense of strain and self- 
consciousness which it gave him. Maitland's 
idea seemed to be that all impulses, except the 
religious impulse in its narrowest sense, needed 
to be sternly repressed; that the highest life 
was a severe detachment from all earthly 
things ; that the Christian pilgrim marched 
along a very narrow way, bristling with pitfalls 
both of opinion and practice ; that the way was 
defined, hazily by Scripture, and precisely by 
the Church, along which the believer must ad- 
vance ; " Few there be that find it ! " said Mait- 
land, with a kind of menacing joy. He was full 
of the errors of other sects and communions. 
The Roman doctrine was over-developed, not 
primitive enough ; the Protestant Non-Conform- 



A Narrow Path 245 

ists were neglectful of ecclesiastical ordinances. 
The only people, it seemed, who were in the 
right path were a small band of rather rigid 
Anglicans, who appeared to Maitland to be 
the precise type of humanity that Christ had 
desired to develop. 

As he spoke, his eye became bright, his lip 
intolerant, and Hugh was haunted by the text, 
" The zeal of Thine house hath even eaten 
me." Maitland seemed to be literally devoured 
by an idea, which like the fox in the old story 
of the Spartan boy, appeared to prey on his 
vitals. Hugh became gradually nettled by the 
argument, but he was no match for Maitland 
in scholastic disputation. Maitland felled his 
arguments with an armoury of texts, which he 
used like cudgels, Hugh at last said that what 
he thought was the weak point in Maitland's 
argument was this — that in every sect and 
every church there were certainly people who 
held with the same inflexible determination to 
the belief that they were absolutely in the 
right, and had unique possession of the exact 
faith delivered to the saints ; and that each of 
these persons would be able to justify them- 
selves by a rigid application of texts. Hugh 
said that it seemed to him to be practically cer- 
tain that no one of them was infallibly in the 
right, and that the truth probably lay in certain 



246 Beside Still Waters 

wide religious ideas which underlay all forms 
of Christian faith. Maitland rejected this with 
scorn as a dangerous and nebulous kind of 
religion — " nerveless and flabby, without bone 
or sinew." They then diverged on to a wider 
ground, and Hugh tried to defend his theory 
that God called souls to Himself by an infinite 
variety of appeal, and that the contest was not 
between orthodoxy on the one hand and 
heterodoxy on the other, but between pure 
and unselfish emotion on the one hand and hard 
and self-centred materialism on the other. To 
this Maitland replied by saying that such vague- 
ness was one of the darkest temptations that 
beset cultured and intellectual people, and that 
the duty of a Christian was to follow precise 
and accurate religious truth, as revealed in 
Scripture and interpreted by the Church, how- 
ever much reason and indolence revolted from 
the conclusions he was forced to draw. They 
parted, however, in a very friendly way, and 
pledged themselves to meet again and continue 
their discussion on Maitland's return. 

A few days afterwards Hugh was surprised 
to receive a letter from Maitland from Paris 
which ran as follows : 

"My dear Ne ville, — It was a great pleasure 
to see you and to revive the memories of old days. 



A Letter 247 

/ have thought a good deal over our conversation 
and have made up my mind that I ought to write 
to you. But first let me ask your pardon, if in 
the heat of argument I allowed my zeal to outrun 
my courtesy. I was over-tired and over-strained, 
and in the mood when any opposition to one's own 
cherished ideals is deeply and perhaps unreason- 
ably distressing. 

" You seemed to me — I will freely grant this — 
to be a real and candid seeker after truth ; but 
the sheltered and easy life that you have led dis- 
guises from you the urgency of the struggle. If 
you had wrestled as I have for years with infi- 
delity and wickedness, and had seen, as I have 
a thousand times, how any laxity of doctrinal 
opinion is always visited upon its victim, by a 
corresponding laxity of moral action, you would 
feel very differently. 

" / think you are treading a very dangerous 
path. To me it is clear that our Lord and Sa- 
viour Jesus Christ in His recorded utterances, in 
a world of incredible wickedness and vague specu- 
lation, deliberately narrowed the issues of life and 
death. He originated a society, to which He 
promised the guidance of the Spirit, and woe to 
the man who tries to find a religion outside of 
that Church. 

" You seem to me, if you will forgive the ex- 
pression, to be more than half a Pagan ; to put 



248 Beside Still Waters 

Christianity on a level — though you allow it a 
certain pre-eminence — with other refining influ- 
ences. You spoke of art and poetry as if they 
could bring men to God, and that in spite of the 
fact that, as I reminded you, there is not a syllable 
in our Lords words that could be construed into 
the least sympathy with art or poetry at all. You 
called yourself a Christian, and I have no doubt 
that you sincerely believe yourself to be one ; but 
to tne you seemed to be more like one of those cul- 
tured Greeks who gave St. Paul an interested 
hearing on the Acropolis. A nd yet you seemed to 
me so genuinely anxious to do what was right, 
that I am going to ask you, faithfully and sin- 
cerely, to reconsider your position. You are 
drifting into a kind of vague and epicurean op- 
timism.. You spoke oftlte message of God through 
nature ; there is no direct message through that 
channel, it is only symbolical of the inner divine 
processes. 

" T am not going to argue with you ; but I im- 
plore you to give some time to a careful study of 
the New Testament and the Fathers. I feel sure 
that light will be sent you. Pray earnestly for it, 
if you have not, as I more than half suspect, given 
up prayer in favour of a vague aspiration. A nd 
be sure of this, that I shall not forget you in my 
own prayers. I shall offer the Holy Sacrifice in 
your intention ; I shall make humble intercession 



A Letter 249 

for you, for you seem to me to be so near the truth 
and yet so far away. Forgive my writing thus^ 
but I feel called upon to warn you of what is 
painfully clear to me. — Believe me, ever sincerely 
yours, 

" Ralph Maitland." 

This letter touched Hugh very much with a 
kind of melancholy pathos. He contented him- 
self with writing back that he did indeed, he 
believed, desire to see the truth, and that he 
deeply appreciated Maitland's sympathy and 
interest. 

" No impulse of the heart, on behalf of anoth- 
er, is ever thrown away, I am sure of that. 
But you would be the first to confess, I know, 
that a man must advance by whatever light he 
has ; that no good can come of accepting the con- 
clusions of another, if the heart and mind do not 
sincerely assent ; and that if I differ from your- 
self as to the precise degree of certainty attain- 
able in religious matters, it is not because I 
despise the Spirit, but because I think that I dis- 
cern a wider influence than you can admit." 

He received in reply a short note to say that 
Maitland felt that Hugh was making the mis- 
take of trusting more to reason than to divine 



250 Beside Still Waters 

guidance, but adding that he would not cease 
to pray for him day by day. 

Hugh reflected long and seriously over this 
strange episode ; but he did not experience the 
smallest temptation to desert a rational process 
of inquiry. He read the Gospels again, and 
they seemed to confirm him in his belief that 
a wide and simple view of life was there indicat- 
ed. He seemed to see that the spirit which 
Christ inculcated was a kind of mystical up- 
lifting of the heart to God, not a doctrinal ap- 
prehension of His nature. It seemed indeed to 
him that Christ's treatment of life was pro- 
foundly poetical, that it tended to point men to 
the aim of discerning a beautiful quality in 
action and life. Those delicate and moving 
stories that He told — how little they dealt with 
sacramental processes or ecclesiastical systems ? 
They rather expressed a vivid and ardent in- 
terest in the simplest emotions of life. They 
taught one to be humble, forgiving, sincere, 
honest, affectionate ; there was, it was true, an 
absence of intellectual and artistic appeal in 
them, though there were parables, like the par- 
able of the talents, which seemed to point to the 
duty of exercising faithfully a diversity of gifts ; 
but it was not, Hugh thought, due to a want 
of sympathy with the things of the mind, but 
seemed to arise from an intense and burning 



Asceticism 251 

desire to prove that the secret lay rather in 
one's relations to humanity, and even to 
nature, than in one's intellectual processes and 
conceptions. 

And then as to the point that Christ enforced 
upon men a fierce ideal of mortification and 
self-denial, Hugh could see no trace of it. 
Christ did not turn His back upon the world ; 
He loved to enjoy beautiful sights and sounds, 
such as birds and flowers. He did indeed clear- 
ly assert that one must not be at the mercy of 
material conditions, and that it was the 
privilege of man to live along the things of the 
soul. It was the path of simplicity, not the 
path of asceticism, that was indicated. Christ 
seemed to Hugh to be entirely preoccupied 
with one idea — that love was the strongest and 
most beautiful thing in the world ; and that if 
one recognised that love alone could be 
victorious over evil and pain and death, one 
might be certain that its source and origin lay 
deepest of all in the vast heart of God, however 
sadly and strangely that seemed to be contra- 
dicted by actual experience. And so Hugh 
felt that whatever befell him, he would not be 
persuaded to desert the broad highway of love 
and beauty and truth, for the narrow and mud- 
dy alley of ecclesiastical opinion. The kingdom 
of God seemed to him to have suffered more 



2S2 Beside Still Waters 

disastrous violence from the hands of bigoted 
ecclesiastics than it had ever suffered from the 
onslaughts of the world. Ecclesiastics polluted 
the crystal stream at its very source by confin- 
ing the river of life to a small and crooked 
channel, Hugh prayed with all his heart that 
he might escape from any system that led him 
to judge others harshly, to condemn their beliefs, 
to define their errors. That seemed to him to 
be the one spirit against which the Saviour had 
uttered denunciations of an almost appalling 
sternness. The Lord's Prayer and not the 
Athanasian Creed seemed to him to sum up the 
essential spirit of Christ. He believed himself 
to be following the will of God in yielding to 
every emotional impulse that made life more 
sacred, more beautiful, more tender, more hope- 
ful. He believed himself, no less sincerely, to 
be slighting and despising the tender love of 
God for all the sheep of His hand, when he 
made religion into either a subtle and metar 
physical thing on the one hand, or a conven- 
tional and ceremonious business on the other. 
The peace that the world cannot give — how 
desirable, how remote that seemed! How large 
and free a quality it was! But the peace 
promised him by his friend seemed to him the 
apathy of a soul crushed and confined in the 
narrowest of dungeons, and denying the exist- 



The Narrow Soul 253 

ence of the free air and the sun because of the 
streaming walls and shapen stones which 
hemmed it round. 



XXVI 

Hugh went once to spend a few days with 
an old friend who had held an important 
living in a big country town. It was a somewhat 
bewildering experience. His friend was what 
would be called a practical person and loved 
organisation — the word was often on his lips — 
with a consuming passion. Hugh saw that he 
was a very happy man ; he was a big fellow, 
with a sanguine complexion and a resonant 
voice. He was always in high spirits: he 
banged doors behind him, and when he hurried 
upstairs, the whole house seemed to shake. 
Every moment of his day was full to the brim 
of occupation. He could be heard shouting 
directions in the garden and stables at an early 
hour ; he received and wrote a great many let- 
ters ; he attended many committees and meet- 
ings. He hurried about the country, he made 
speeches, he preached. Hugh heard one of his 
sermons, which was delivered with abundant gen- 
iality. It consisted of a somewhat obvious para- 
phrase of a Scripture scene — the slaughter of 
254 



Activity 255 

the prophets of Baal by Elijah. The preacher 
described the ugly carnage with much gusto. He 
then invited his hearers to stamp out evil with 
similar vigour, and ended with drawing a high- 
ly optimistic picture of the world, representing 
evil and sin as a kind of skulking and lingering 
contagion, which God was doing His best to get 
rid of, and which was indeed only kept alive 
by the foolish perversity of a few abandoned 
persons, and would soon be extirpated alto- 
gether if only enough committees would meet 
and take the thing up in a businesslike way. It 
was in a sense a vigorous performance, and 
Hugh thought that though there was little 
attempt to bind up the broken-hearted, yet he 
could conceive its having an inspiriting effect 
on people who felt themselves on the right 
side. 

His friend found time one evening, as they 
sat smoking together, to inquire into Hugh's 
occupations, and read him a friendly lecture 
on the subject of making himself more useful. 
Hugh felt that it was useless to argue the 
question ; but when he came away, somewhat 
dizzied and wearied by the tumulliuous energy 
of his friend's life, he found himself wondering 
exactly how much resulted from this buzzing 
and humming organisation. There was not a 
marked difference between his friend's parish 



256 Beside Still Waters 

and other parishes, except that there were 
certainly more meetings. Hugh had indeed 
ah uneasy sense that a man with less taste 
for organisation, and more leisure for pastoral 
intercourse with his flock, might have effected 
more. The vicar's chief concern indeed seemed 
to be with the prosperous and healthy mem- 
bets of his parish ; if there was a case of desti- 
tution, of illness, of sorrow, it was certainly 
inquired into ; some hard-featured lady, with a 
strong sense of rectitude and usefulness, would 
be commissioned to go and look into the 
matter. She generally returned saying cheer- 
fully that she had put things straight, and that 
it turned out to be their own fault. 

But Hugh found his reflections taking a still 
more sceptical turn. The vicar's theory was 
that we were all put into the world to be of use 
to other people. But his idea of helping other 
people was not to help them to what they 
desired, but to what he thought it was right 
that they should desire. He had very little 
compassion, Hugh saw, for failure and error. 
If a parishioner was in . trouble, the vicar 
tended to say he had no one to blame but 
himself for it. Hugh felt that he did not 
wish to be in his friend's parish. If one was 
able-bodied and sensible, one was put on a 
committee or two ; if one was unfortunate or 



Work 257 

obscure, one was invaded by a district visitor. 
If one was a Dissenter, one would be treated 
with a. gloomy courtesy — for tlie vicar was 
great on not alienating Dissenters, but bringing 
them in, as he phrased it ; and if a Dissenter 
became an Anglican, the vicar rejoiced with 
what he believed to be the joy of the angels 
over a repentant sinner, and made him a parish 
worker at once. 

Then Hugh went further and deeper, and 
tried to ascertain what he really felt on the 
subject of usefulness. Tracing back the con- 
stitution of society to its origin, he saw that it 
was clear that every one owed a certain duty 
of work to the community. A society could 
not exist in idleness ; and every one who was 
capable of work must work to support himself ; 
and then a certain amount of work must be 
done by the able-bodied to support those who 
were either too old or too young to support 
themselves. But the labouring class, the pro- 
ducers, were forced by the constitution of 
things to work even more than that; because 
there were a certain number of persons in the 
community, capitalists and leisurely people, 
who lived in idleness on the labour of the 
workers. 

He put aside the great majority of simple 
workers, the labouring classes, because there 



258 Beside Still Waters 

was no doubt about their position. If a man 
did his work honestly, and supported himself 
and his family, living virtuously, and endeav- 
ouring to bring up his children virtuously, that 
was a fine simple life. Then came the profes- 
sional classes, who were necessary too, doctors, 
lawyers, priests, soldiers, sailors, merchants, 
even writers and artists; all of them had a 
work to do in the world. 

This then seemed the law of one's being: 
that men were put into the world, and the one 
thing that was clear was that they were meant 
to work ; did duty stop there ? had a man, 
when his work was done, a right to amuse and 
employ himself as he liked, so long as he did 
not interfere with or annoy other people? or 
had he an imperative duty laid upon him to 
devote his energies, if any were left, to helping 
other people ? 

What in fact zvas the obscure purpose for 
which people were sent into the world? It 
was a pleasant place on the whole for healthy 
persons, but there was still a large number of 
individuals to whom it was by no means a 
pleasant place. No choice was given us, so 
far as we knew, as to whether we would enter 
the world or not, nor about the circumstances 
which were to surround us. Our lives indeed 
were strangely conditioned by an abundance 



A Theory of Life 259 

of causes which lay entirely outside our con- 
trol, such as heredity, temperament, environ- 
ment. One supposed one's self to be free, but 
in reality one was intolerably hampered and 
bound. 

The only theory that could satisfactorily 
account for life as we found it was, that either 
it was an educational progress, and that we 
were being prepared for some further exist- 
ence, for which in some mysterious way our 
experience, however mean, miserable, and un- 
gentle must be intended to fit us ; or else it 
was all a hopeless mystery, the work of some 
prodigious power who neither loved or hated, 
but just chose to act so. In any case it was a 
very slow process ; the world was bound with 
innumerable heavy chains. There was much 
cruelty, stupidity, selfishness, meanness abroad ; 
all those ugly things decreased very slowly, 
if indeed they decreased at all. Yet there 
seemed, too, to be a species of development at 
work. But the real mystery lay in the fact 
that while our hopes and intuitions pointed to 
there being a great and glorious scheme in the 
background, our reason and experience alike 
tended to contradict that hope. How little 
one changed as the years went on ! How in- 
eradicable our faults seemed ! How ineffectual 
our efforts ! God indeed seemed to implant 



26o Beside Still Waters 

in us a wish to improve, and then very often 
seemed steadily and deliberately to thwart 
that wish. 

And then, too, how difficult it seemed really 
to draw near to other people ; in what a terrible 
isolation one's life was spent ; even in the midst 
of a cheerful and merry company, how the 
secrets of one's heart hung like an invisible 
veil between us and our dearest and nearest. 
The most one could hope for was to be a 
pleasant and kindly influence in the lives of 
other people, and, when one was gone, one 
might live a little while in their memories. 
The fact that some few healthily organised 
people contrived to live simply and straight- 
forwardly in the activities of the moment, 
without questioning or speculating on the 
causes of things, did not make things simpler 
for those on whom these questions hourly 
and daily pressed.. The people whom one 
accounted best, did indeed spend their time in 
helping the happiness of others ; but did one 
perhaps only tend to think them so, because 
they ministered to one's own contentment ? 

The only conclusion for Hugh seemed to be 
this: that one must have a work to be faithfully 
and resolutely fulfilled ; and that, outside of 
that, one must live tenderly, simply, and kindly, 
adding so far as one might to the happiness of 



A Conclusion 261 

others ; and that one might resolutely eschew 
all the busy multiplication of activities, which 
produced such scanty results, and were indeed 
mainly originated in order that so-called active 
people might feel themselves to be righteously 
employed. 



XXVII 

One hot still summer day Hugh went far 
afield, and struck into a little piece of country 
that was new to him. He seemed to discern 
from the map that it must have once been a 
large, low island almost entirely surrounded by 
marshes ; and this turned out to be the case. It 
was approached along a high causeway crossing 
the fen, with rich black land on either hand. 
No high-road led through or out of the village, 
nothing but grass-tracks and drift-ways. The 
place consisted of a small hamlet, with an old 
church and two or three farmhouses of some 
size and antiquity ; it was all finely timbered 
with an abundance of ancient elm-trees every- 
where ; they stood that afternoon absolutely 
still and motionless, with the sun hot on their 
towering heads ; and Hugh remembered, how, 
long ago, as a boy at school, he used to watch, 
out of the windows of a stuffy class-room, the 
great elms of the school close rising just thus 
in the warm summer air, while his thoughts 
wandered from the dull lesson into a region 
262 



The Golden Hour 263 

of delighted, irrecoverable reverie. To-day he 
sat for a long time in the little churchyard, the 
bees humming about the limes with a soft mu- 
sical note, that rose and fell with a lazy cadence, 
while doves hidden somewhere in the elms lent 
as it were a voice to the trees. That soft note 
seemed to brim over from a spring of measure- 
less content ; it seemed like the calling of the 
spirit of summer, brooding in indolent joy and 
innocent satisfaction over the long sweet hours 
of sunshine, while the day stood still to listen. 
Hugh resigned himself luxuriously to the soft, 
influences of the place, and felt that for a short 
space he need neither look backwards nor for- 
wards, but simply float with the golden hour. 

At last he bestirred himself, realising that he 
had yet far to go. It was now cold and fresh, 
and the shadows of the trees lay long across the 
grass. Hugh struck down on the fen and 
walked for a long time in the solitary fields, 
by a dyke, passing a big ancient farm that lay 
very peacefully among its wide pastures. 

The thought of the happy, quiet-minded 
people that might be living there, leading their 
simple lives, so little affected by the current of 
the world, brought much peace into Hugh's 
mind. It seemed to him a very beautiful thing, 
with something ancient and tranquil about it. 
It was all utterly remote from ambition and 



264 Beside Still Waters 

adventure, a,nd even from intellectual efficiency ; 
and here Hugh felt himself in a dilemma. His 
faith did not permit him to doubt that the civ- 
ilisation and development of the world were in 
accordance with the purpose of God on the 
one hand, and yet, on the other hand, that ex- 
pansion brought with it social conditions and 
problems that appeared to him of an essentially 
ugly kind, as the herding of human beings into 
cities, the din and dirt of factories, the millions 
of lives that were lived under almost servile 
conditions; and so much of that sad labour 
was directed to wrong ends, to aggrandisement, 
to personal luxury, to increasing the comfort 
of oligarchies. The simple life of the country- 
side seemed a better ideal, and yet the lot of 
the rustic day-labourer was both dull and hard. 
It looked sweet enough on a day of high sum- 
mer, such as this, when a man need ask for 
nothing better than to be taken and kept 
out of doors ; but the thought of the farm- 
hand rising in a cheerless wintry dawn, putting 
on his foul and stiffened habiliments, setting 
out in a chilly drizzle to uproot a turnip field, 
row by row, with no one to talk to and nothing 
to look forward to but an evening in a tiny cot- 
tage-kitchen, full of noisy children — no one 
could say that this was an ideal life, and he did 
not wonder that the young men flocked to the 



Country Life 265 

towns, where there was at all events some stir, 
some amusement. That was the dark side of 
popular education, of easy communications, of 
newspapers, that it made men discontented 
with quiet life, without supplying them with 
intellectual resources. 

Yet with all its disadvantages and discom- 
forts, Hugh could not help feeling that the life 
of the country was more wholesome and natural 
for the majority of men, and he wished that 
the education given in country districts could 
be directed more to awakening an interest in 
country things, in trees and birds and flowers, 
and more, too, to increasing the resources of 
boys and girls, so that they could find amusing 
occupation for the long evenings of enforced 
leisure. The present system of education was 
directed, Hugh felt, more to training a gen- 
eration of clerks, than to implanting an aptitude 
for innocent recreation and sensible amuse- 
ment. People talked a good deal about tempting 
men back to the land, but did they not perceive 
that, to do that, it was necessary to make the 
agricultural life more attractive ? It was a mis- 
take that ran through the whole of modern 
education, that the system was invented by in- 
tellectual theorists and not by practical philoso- 
phers. The only real aim ought to be to teach 
people how to enjoy their work, by making 



266 Beside Still Waters 

them efficient, and to enjoy their leisure by 
arousing the imagination. 

Hugh's musings led him on to wonder how 
it was possible to cultivate a sense of happiness 
in people ; that was the darkest problem of all. 
Children had the secret of it ; they could amuse 
themselves under the most unpropitious cir- 
cumstances, and invent games of most surpass- 
ing interest out of the most grotesque materials. 
Then came the age when the sexual relations 
brought in a fierce and intenser joy ; but the 
romance of courtship and the early days of 
marriage once over, it seemed that most people 
settled down on very dull lines, and made such 
comfort as they could get the only object of 
their existence. What was it that thus tended 
to empty life of joy ? Was it the presence of 
anxiety, the failure of vitality, the dull condi- 
tions of monotonous labour undertaken for 
others' gain and not for one's self ? Looking 
back at his own life, Hugh could not discern 
that his routine work had ever deprived him of 
zest and interest. It was rather indeed the 
other way. The suspension of other interests 
that his life had involved, had sent him back 
with renewed delight to the occupations and 
interests of leisure ; he had been, he thought, 
perhaps unusually fortunate in receiving his 
liberty from mechanical work at a time when 



Sustained Happiness 267 

his interests were active and his zest undimmed. 
But how was one to guard the quality of joy, 
how could it be stimulated and increased, if it 
began in the course of nature to flag? It was 
clear that life could not have for every one, 
nor at all times for any one, that quality of eager 
and active delight, that uplifting of the heart 
and mind alike, which sometimes surprised one, 
when one felt an intensity of gladness and grati- 
tude at being simply one's self, and at standing 
just at that point in life, surrounded and enriched 
by exactly the very things one most loved and 
desired — the feeling that must have darted into 
Sinbad's mind when he saw that the very sand 
of the valley in which he lay consisted of pre- 
cious germs. Probably most people had some 
moments, oftenest perhaps in youth, of this 
full-flushed, conscious happiness. And then 
again most people had considerable tracts of 
quiet contentment, times when their work pro- 
spered and their recreations amused. But how 
was one to meet the hours when one was neither 
happy nor contented ; when the mind flapped 
wearily like a loosened sail in a calm, when 
there was no savour in the banquet, when one 
went heavily ? It was of no use then to sum- 
mon joy to one's assistance, to call spirits from 
the vast deep, if they did not obey one's call. 
There ought, Hugh thought, to be a reserve of 



268 Beside Still Waters 

sober piety and hopefulness on which one could 
draw in those dark days. There were no doubt 
many equable and phlegmatic people who, as 
the old poet said, 

" Perfacile angustis tolerabant finibus aevum." 
(In narrow bounds an easy life endured.) 

But for those whose perceptions were keen, 
who lived upon joy, from the very constitution 
of their nature, how were such natures — and 
he knew that he was of the number — to avoid 
sinking into the mire of the Slough of De- 
spond, how were they to rejoice in the valley 
of humiliation ? What was to be their well in 
the vale of misery? How were the pools to 
be filled with water? 

The answer seemed to be that it could only 
be achieved by work, by effort, by prayer. If 
one had definite work in hand, it carried one 
over these languid intervals. How often had 
the idea of setting to work in these listless 
moods seemed intolerable ; yet how soon one 
forgot one's self in the exercise of congenial 
labour! Here came in the worth of effort, 
that one could force one's self to the task, com- 
mit one's self to the punctual discharge of an 
unwelcome duty. And if even that failed, 
then one could cast one's self into an inner re- 



Prayer * 269 

gion, in the spirit of the Psalmist, when he 
said, " Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it." 
One could fling one's prayer into the dark void, 
as the sailors from a sinking ship shoot a rocket 
with a rope attached to the land, and then, as 
they haul it in, feel with joy the rope strain 
tight, and know that it has found a hold. 

Hugh felt that such experience as this, ex- 
perience, that is, in the vital force of prayer, 
might be called a subjective experience, and 
could not be put to a scientific test. But for 
all that, there was nothing which of late years 
had so grown upon him as the consciousness of 
the effectiveness of a certain kind of prayer. 
This was not a mechanical repetition of verbal 
forms, but a strong and secret uplifting of the 
heart to the Father of all. There were mo- 
ments when one seemed bafHed and powerless, 
when one's own strength seemed utterly un- 
equal to the burden ; prayer on such occasions 
did not necessarily bring a perfect serenity and 
joy, though there were times when it brought 
even that ; but it brought sufficient strength ; 
it made the difficult, the dreaded thing pos- 
sible. Hugh had proved this a hundred times 
over, and the marvel to him was that he did 
not use it more; but the listless mind some- 
times could not brace itself to the effort ; and 
then it seemed to Hugh that he was as one 



270 Beside Still Waters 

who lay thirsting, with water in reach of his 
nerveless hand. Still there were few things of 
which he was so absolutely certain as he was 
of the abounding strength of prayer ; it seemed 
to reveal a dim form moving behind the veil of 
things, which in the moment of entreaty seemed 
to suspend its progress, to stop, to draw near, 
to smile. Why the gifts from that wise hand 
were often such difficult things, stones for 
bread, serpents for fish, Hugh could not divine. 
But he tended less and less to ask for precise 
things, but to pray in the spirit of the old 
Dorian prayer that what was good might be 
given him, even if he did not perceive it to be 
good, and that what was evil might be withheld, 
even if he desired it. 

While he thus mused, walking swiftly, the 
day darkened about him, drawing the colour 
out of field and tree. The tides of the sky 
thickened, and set to a deep enamelled green, 
and a star came out above the tree-tops. Now 
and then he passed through currents of cool 
air that streamed out of the low wooded val- 
leys, rich with the fragrance of copse and 
dingle. An owl fluted sweetly in a little holt, 
and was answered by another far up the hill. 
He heard in the breeze, now loud, now low, the 
far-off motions of the wheels of some cart 
rumbling blithely homewards. All else was 



The Twilight 271 

still. At last he came out on the top of the 
wolds ; the road stretched before him, a pale 
ribbon among dusky fields ; and the lights of 
the distant village pierced through the darker 
gloom of sheltering trees. Hugh seemed that 
night to walk with his unknown friend close 
beside him, answering his hopes, stilling his 
vague discontents with a pure and tender faith- 
fulness, that left him nothing to desire, but 
that the sweet nearness might not fail him. At 
such a moment, dear and wonderful as the 
world was, he felt that it held nothing so beau- 
tiful or so dear as that sweet companionship, 
and that if he had been bidden, in that instant, 
strong and content as he was, to enter the 
stream of death, a firm hand and a smiling face 
would have lifted him, as the stream grew shal- 
lower about him, safe and satisfied, up on the 
farther side. 



XXVIII 

Among the most interesting of the new 
friends that Hugh made at Cambridge was a 
young Don who was understood to hold ad- 
vanced socialistic views. What was more im- 
portant from Hugh's point of view was that he 
was a singular frank, accessible, and lively per- 
son, full of ideas and enthusiasms. Hugh was 
at one time a good deal in his company, and 
at one time used to feel that the charm of 
conversation with him was, not that they dis- 
cussed things, or argued, or had common 
interests, but that it was like setting a sluice 
open between two pools ; their two minds, like 
moving waters, seemed to draw near, to inter- 
mingle, to linger in a subtle contract. His 
friend, Sheldon by name, was a great reader of 
books ; but he read, Hugh thought, in the same 
way that he himself read, not that he might 
master subjects, annex and explore mental 
provinces, and classify the movement of thought, 
but rather that he might lean out into a misty 
haunted prospect, where mysterious groves 
272 



Democracy 273 

concealed the windings of uncertain paths, and 
the turrets of guarded strongholds peered over 
the woodland. Hugh indeed guessed dimly 
that his friend had a whole range of interests of 
which he knew nothing, and this was confirmed 
by a conversation they had when they had 
walked one day together into the deep country. 
They took a road that seemed upon the map to 
lead to a secluded village, and then to lose 
itself among the fields, and soon came to the 
hamlet, a cluster of old-fashioned houses that 
stood very prettily on a low scarped gravel hill 
that pushed out into the fen. They betook 
themselves to the churchyard, where they found 
a little ancient conduit that gushed out at the 
foot of the hill. This they learned had once 
been a well much visited by pilgrims for its 
supposed healing qualities. It ran out of an 
arched recess into a shallow pool, fringed with 
sedg£, and filled with white-flowered cresses 
and forget-me-not. Below their feet lay a great 
stretch of rich water-meadows, the wooded hills 
opposite looming dimly through the haze. Here 
they sat for a while, listening to the pleasant 
trickle of the spring, and the conversation 
turned on the life of villages, the lack of amuse- 
ment, the dulness of field labour, the steady drift 
of the young men to the towns. Hugh regretted 
this and said that he wished the country clergy 



2 74 Beside Still Waters 

would try to counteract the tendency ; he spoke 
of village clubs and natural-history classes. 
Sheldon laughed quietly at his remarks, and 
said, " My dear Neville, it is quite refreshing to 
hear you talk. It is not for nothing that you 
bear the name of Neville ; you are a mediaeval 
aristocrat at heart. These opinions of yours 
are as interesting as fossils in a bed of old blue 
clay. Such things are to be found, I believe, 
imbedded in the works of Ruskin and other 
patrons of the democracy. Why, you are like 
a man who sits in a comfortable first-class car- 
riage in a great express, complacently thinking 
that the money he has paid for his ticket is the 
motive force of the train ; you are trying to put 
out a conflagration with a bottle of eau-de- 
Cologne. The battle is lost, and the world is 
transforming itself, while you talk so airily. 
You and other leisurely people are tolerated, 
just as a cottager lets houseleek grow on his 
tiles ; but you are not part of the building, and 
if there is a suspicion that you are making the 
roof damp, you will have to be swept away. 
The democracy you want to form is making 
itself, and sooner or later you will have to join 
in the procession." 

Hugh laughed serenely at his companion's 
vehemence. " Oh," he said, " I am a mild sort 
of socialist myself; that is, I see that it is 



Democracy 275 

coming, I believe in equality, and I don't 
question the rights of the democracy. But I 
don't pretend to like it, though I bow to it ; the 
democracy seems to me to threaten nearly all 
the things that are to me most beautiful — the 
woodland chase, the old house among its 
gardens, the village church among its elms, the 
sedge-fringed pool, the wild moorland — and all 
the pleasant varieties, too, of the human spirit, 
its fantastic perversities, its fastidious reveries, 
its lonely dreams. All these must go, of course ; 
they are luxuries to which no individual has 
any right ; we must be drilled and organised ; 
we must do our share of the work, and take our 
culture in a municipal gallery, or through cheap 
editions of the classics. No doubt we shall get 
the ' joys in the widest commonalty spread ' of 
which Wadsworth speaks ; and the only thing 
that I pray is that I. may not be there to see it." 
" You are a fine specimen of the individualist," 
said Sheldon, " and I have no desire to convert 
you — indeed we speak different languages, and 
I doubt if you could understand me ; there is to 
be no such levelling as you suppose, rather the 
other way indeed ; we shall not be able to do 
without individualism, only it will be pleasantly 
organised. The delightful thing to me is to 
observe that you are willing to let us have a 
little of your culture at your own price, but we 



276 Beside Still Waters 

shall not want it ; we shall have our own culture 
and it will be a much bigger and finer thing 
than the puling reveries of hedonists ; it will 
be like the sea, not like the scattered moor- 
land pools." 

" Do you mean," said Hugh, " when you 
talk so magniloquently of the culture of the 
future, that it will be different from the culture 
of the present and of the past?" 

" No, no," said Sheldon," not different at all, 
only wider and more free. Do you not see that 
at present it is an elegant monopoly, belonging 
to a few select persons, who have been refined 
and civilised up to a certain point? The diffi- 
culty is that we can't reach that point all at 
once — why, it has taken you thirty or forty 
centuries to reach it ! — and at present we can't 
get further than the municipal art-gallery, and 
lectures on the ethical outlook of Browning. 
But that is not what we are aiming at, and you 
are not to suppose that yours is a different ideal 
of beauty and sensibility from ours. What I 
object to is that you and your friends are so se- 
lect and so condescending. You seem to have 
no idea of the movement of humanity, the 
transformation of the race, the corporate rise of 
emotion." 

" No," said Hugh, " I have no idea what you 
are speaking of, and I confess it sounds to me 



Individualism 277 

very dull. I have never been able to generalise. 
I find it easy enough to make friends with 
homely and simple people, but I think I have 
no idea of the larger scheme. I can only see 
the little bit of the pattern that I can hold in 
my hand. Every human being that I come to 
know appears to me strangely and appallingly 
distinct and untypical ; of course one finds that 
many of them adopt a common stock of con- 
ventional ideas, but when you get beneath that 
surface, the character seems to me solitary and 
aloof. When people use words like 'democracy' 
and 'humanity,' I feel that they are merely 
painting themslves large, magnifying and dig- 
nifying their own idiosyncrasies. It does not 
uplift and exalt me to feel that I am one of a 
class. It depresses and discourages me. I 
hug and cherish my own differences, my own 
identity. I don't want to suppress my own idio- 
syncrasies at all; and what is more, I do not 
think that the race ma :es progress that way. 
AH the people who have really set their mark 
upon the world have been individualists. Not 
to travel far for instances, look at the teaching 
of our Saviour ; there is not a hint of patriotism, 
of the rights of society, of common effort, of the 
corporateness of which you speak. He spoke to 
the individual. He showed that if the indi- 
vidual could be simple, generous, kindly forgiv- 



278 Beside Still Waters 

ing, the whole of society would rise into a region 
where organisation would be no longer needed. 
These results cannot be brought about by legis- 
lation ; the spirit must leap from heart to heart, 
as the flower seeds itself in the pasture." 

" Would you be surprised to hear," said Shel- 
don, smiling, " that I am in accordance with 
most of your views ? Of course legislation is 
not the end : it is only a way of dealing with 
refractory minorities. The highest individual 
freedom is what I aim at. But the mistake you 
niake is in thinking that the individual effects 
anything; he is only the link in the chain. It is 
all a much larger tide, which is moving resist- 
lessly in the background. It is this movement 
that I watch with the deepest hope and concern. 
I do not profess to direct or regulate it, it is 
much too large a thing for that ; I merely de- 
sire to remove as far as I can the obstacles that 
hinder the incoming flood." 

" Well," said Hugh, smiling, " as long as you 
do not threaten my individual freedom, I do 
not very much care." 

"Ah," said Sheldon, "now you are talking like 
the worst kind of aristocrat, the early-Victorian 
Whig, the man who has a strong belief in popu- 
lar liberty, combined with an equally strong 
sense of personal superiority." 

" No, indeed ! " said Hugh, " I bow most sin- 



Corporateness 279 

cerely before the rights of society. I only claim 
that as long as I do not interfere with other 
people, they will not interfere with me. I re- 
cognise to the full the duty of men to work, but 
when I have complied with that, I want to ap- 
proach the world in my own way. I am aware 
that reason tells me I am one of a vast class, 
and that I have certain limitations, but at the 
same time instinct tells me that I am sternly 
and severely isolated. No one and nothing can 
intrude into my mind and self; and I feel in- 
clined to answer you like Dionysus in the Frogs 
of Aristophanes, who says to Hercules when he 
is being hectored, " Don't come pitching your 
tent in my mind, you have a house of your 
own ! " — Secretum meum m-iki, as St. Francis of 
Assisi said — identity is the one thing of which 
I am absolutely sure. One must go on perceiv- 
ing, drawing in impressions, feeling, doubting, 
suffering ; one knows that souls like one's own 
are moving in the mist ; and if one can discern 
any ray of light, any break in the clouds, one 
must shout one's loudest to one's comrades ; 
but you seem to me to want to silence my lonely 
experience by the vote of the majority, and the 
majority seems to me essentially a dull and tire- 
some thing. Of course this sounds to you the 
direst egotism ; but when one has labelled a 
thing egotistic, one has not necessarily con- 



28o Beside Still Waters 

demned it, because the essence of the world is 
its egotism. You would no doubt say that we 
are no more alone than the leaves of a tree, that 
the sap which is in one leaf at one moment is the 
next moment in another, and that we are more 
linked than we know. I would give much to 
have that sense, but it is denied me, and mean- 
while the pressure of that corporate force of 
which. you speak seems to me merely to menace 
my own liberty, which is to me both sacred and 
dear." 

Sheldon smiled. "Yes," he said, "we do 
-indeed speak different languages. To me this 
sense of isolation of which you speak is merely 
a melancholy phantom. I rejoice to see one of 
a great company, and I exult when the sap of 
the great tree flows up into my own small veins; 
but do not think that I disapprove of your po- 
sition. I only feel that you are doing uncon- 
sciously the very thing that I desire you to do. 
But at the same time I think that you are miss- 
ing a great source of strength, seeing a thing 
from the outside instead of feeling it from the 
inside. Yet I think that is the way in which 
artists help the world, through the passionate 
realisation of themselves. But you must not 
think that you are carrying away your share of 
the spoil to your lonely tent. It belongs to all 
of us, even what you have yourself won." 



Materialism 281 

Hugh felt that Sheldon probably was speak- 
ing the truth. He thought long and earnestly 
over his words. But the practical outcome of his 
reflections was that he realised the uselessness 
of trying to embrace an idea which one did not 
instinctively feel. He knew that his real life 
did not lie, at all events for the present, in move- 
ments and organisations. They were meaning- 
less words to him. His only conception of 
relationships was the personal conception. He 
desired with all his heart the uplifting, the 
amelioration of human beings : he could contri- 
bute best, he thought, to that, by speaking out 
whatever he perceived and felt, to such a circle 
as was in sympathy with him. Sheldon, no 
doubt, was doing exactly the same thing ; there 
were multitudes of people in the world, who 
would agree with neither Sheldon nor himself, 
amiable materialists, whose only instinct was to 
compass their own prosperity and comfort, and 
who cared neither for humanity nor for beauty, 
except in so far as they ministered to their own 
convenience. Hugh did not sympathise with 
such people, arid indeed he found it hard to 
conceive, if what philosophers and priests pre- 
dicated of the purpose of God was true, how such 
people came into being. The mistake, the gen- 
erous mistake, that Sheldon made, was to think 
that humanity was righting itself. It was per- 



282 Beside Still Waters 

haps being righted, but ah, how slowly ! The 
error was to believe that one's theories were the 
right ones. It was all far larger, vaster, more 
mysterious than that. Hugh knew that the ele- 
ment in nature and the world to which he him- 
self responded most eagerly was the element of 
beauty. The existence of beauty, the appeal it 
made to the human spirit, seemed to him the 
most hopeful thing in the world. But he could 
not be sure that the salvation of the world lay 
there. Meantime, while he felt the appeal, it 
was his duty to tell it out among the heathen, 
just as it was Sheldon's duty to preach the cor- 
porateness of humanity ; but Hugh believed 
that the truth lay with neither, but that both 
these instincts were but as hues of a prism, that 
went to the making up of the pure white light. 
They were rather disintegrations of some central 
truth, component elements of it rather than the 
truth itself. They were not in the least incon- 
sistent with each other, though they differed 
exceedingly; and so he determined to follow 
his own path as faithfully as he could, and not 
in response to strident cries of justice and truth, 
and still less in deference to taunts of selfish- 
ness and epithets of shame, to lend a timorous 
hand to a work in the value of which he indeed 
sincerely believed, but which he did not believe 
to be his own work. The tide was indeed rolling 



Materialism 283 

in, and the breakers plunging on the beach ; but 
so far as helping it on went, it seemed to him 
to matter little whether you sat and watched it 
with awe and amazement, with rapture and even 
with terror, or whether you ran to and fro, as 
Sheldon seemed to him to be doing, busying 
himself in digging little channels in the sand, 
that the roaring sea, with the wind at its back, 
might foam a little higher thus upon the shore. 



XXIX 

The morning sun fell brightly on Hugh's 
breakfast-table; and a honeycomb that stood 
there, its little cells stored with translucent 
sweetness, fragrant with the pure breath of 
many flowers, sparkled with a golden light. 
Hugh fell to wondering over it. One's food, 
as a rule, transformed and dignified by art, and 
enclosed in vessels of metal and porcelain, had 
little that was simple or ancient about its asso- 
ciations ; how the world indeed was ransacked 
for one's pleasure ! meats, herbs, spices, miner- 
als — it was strange to think what a complexity 
of materials was gathered for one's delight; 
but honey seemed to take one back into an old 
and savage world. Samson had gathered it 
from the lion's bones, Jonathan had thrust his 
staff into the comb, and put the bright oozings 
to his lips ; humanity in its most ancient and 
barbarous form had taken delight in this 
patiently manufactured confection. But a fur- 
ther thought came to him; the philosopher 
spoke of a development in nature, a slow mov- 



Bees 285 

ing upward through painfully gathered experi- 
ence. It was an attractive thought, no doubt, 
and gave a clue to the bewildering differences 
of the world. But after all how incredibly slow 
a progress it was ! The whole course of history 
was minute enough, no doubt, in comparison 
with what had been ; but so far as the records 
of mankind existed, it was not possible to 
trace that any great development had taken 
place. The lines of species that one saw to-day 
were just as distinct as they had been when 
the records of man began. They seemed to 
run, like separate threads out of the tapestry, 
complete and entire from end to end, not mix- 
ing or intermingling. Fish, birds, quadrupeds 
— some had died out indeed, but no creature 
mentioned in the earliest records showed the 
smallest sign of approximating or drawing near 
to any other creature; no bird had lost its 
wings or gained its hands ; no quadruped had 
deserted instinct for reason. Bees were a case 
in point. They were insects of a marvellous 
wisdom. They had a community, a govern- 
ment, almost laws. They knew their own 
business, and followed it with intense enthu- 
siasm. Yet in all the centuries during which 
they had been robbed and despoiled for 
the pleasure of man, they had learned no pru- 
dence or caution. They had not even learned 



286 Beside Still Waters 

to rebel. Generation after generation, in fra- 
grant cottage gardens, they made their deli- 
cious store, laying it up for their offspring. 
Year after year that store had been rifled ; yet 
for all their curious wisdom, their subtle cal- 
culations, no suspicion ever seemed to have 
entered their heads of what was going forward. 
They did not even try to find a secret place in 
the woods for their nest ; they built obediently 
in the straw-thatched hives, and the same spoli- 
ation continued. A few days before, Hugh 
had visited a church in the neighbourhood, and 
had become aware of a loud humming in the 
chancel. He found that an immense swarm of 
bees had been hatched out in the roof, and 
were dying in hundreds, in their attempt to 
escape through the closed windows. There 
were plenty of apertures in the church through 
which they could have escaped, if they had 
had any idea of exploration. But they were 
content to buzz feebly up and down the 
panes, till strength failed them, and they 
dropped down on to the sill among the 
bodies of their brothers. An old man who 
was digging in the churchyard told Hugh 
that the same thing had gone on in the 
church every summer for as long as he could 
remember. 

And yet one did not hesitate to accept the 



Man's Power 287 

Darwinian theory, on the word of scientific 
men, though the whole of visible and recorded 
experience seemed to contradict it. Even 
stranger than the amazing complexity of the 
whole scheme, was the incredible patience with 
which the matter was matured. What was 
more wonderful yet, man, by his power of 
observing the tendencies of nature, could make 
her laws to a certain extent serve his own ends. 
He could, for instance, by breeding carefully 
from short-legged sheep, in itself a fortuitous 
and unaccountable variation from the normal 
type, produce a species that should be unable 
to leap fences which their long-legged ancestors 
could surmount ; he could thus save himself the 
trouble of erecting higher fences- This power 
in man, this faculty for rapid self-improvement, 
differentiated him from all the beasts of the 
field ; how had that faculty arisen ? It seemed 
a gap that no amount of development could 
bridge. If nature had all been perfect, if its 
rules had been absolutely invariable, if existence 
were conditioned by regular laws, it would be 
easy enough to believe in God. And yet as it 
was, it seemed so imperfect, and in some ways 
so unsatisfactory; so fortuitous in certain re. 
spects, so wanting in prevision, so amazingly 
deliberate. Such an infinity of care seemed 
lavished on the delicate structure of the 



288 Beside Still Waters 

smallest insects and plants, such a prodigal 
fancy ; and yet the laws that governed them 
seemed so strangely incomplete, like a patient, 
artistic, whimsical force, working on in spite 
of insuperable difficulties. It looked some- 
times like a conflict of minds, instead of one 
mind. 

And then, too, the wonder which one felt 
seemed to lead nowhere. It did not even lead 
one to ascertain sure principles of conduct and 
life. The utmost prudence, the most careful 
attempt to follow the guidance of those natural 
laws, was liable to be rendered fruitless by what 
was called an accident. One's instinct to re- 
tain life, to grasp at happiness, was so strong ; 
and yet, again and again, one was taught that 
it was all on sufferance, and that one must 
count on nothing. One was set, it seemed, in a 
vast labryinth ; one must go forward, whether 
one would or no, among trackless paths, over- 
hung by innumerable perils. The only thing 
that seemed sure to Hugh was that the more 
one allowed the awe, the bewilderment, to pene- 
trate one's heart and mind, the more that one 
indulged a fearful curiosity as to the end and 
purpose of it all, the nearer one came, if not to 
learning the lesson, yet at least towards reaching 
a state of preparedness that might fit one to 
receive the further confidence of God. Such 



A Patient Learner 289 

tranquility as one gained by putting aside the 
problems which encompassed one, must be a 
hollow and vain tranquillity. One might indeed 
never learn the secret ; it might be the will of 
God simply to confront one with the desperate 
problem ; but a deep instinct in Hugh's heart 
told him that this could not be so ; and he 
determined that he, at all events, would go 
about the world as a patient learner, grasping 
at any hint that was offered him, whether it 
came by the waving of grasses on the waste, 
by the droop of flower-laden boughs over a 
wall, from the strange horned insect that 
crawled in the dust of the highway, or from 
the soft gaze of loving eyes, flashing a message 
into the depths of his soul. 

The pure faint lines of the wold that he saw 
from his window on the far horizon, rising so 
peacefully above the level pasture-land, with 
the hedgerow elms — what did they stand for ? 
The mind reeled at the thought. They were 
nothing but a gigantic cemetery. Every inch 
of that soft chalk had been made up by the 
life and death, through millions of years, 
of tiny insects, swimming, dying, mouldering 
in the depths of some shapeless sea. Surely 
such a thought had a message for his soul, not 
less real than the simpler and more direct mes- 
sage of peace that the soft pale outlines, the 



290 Beside Still Waters 

gentle foldings of the hills, seemed to lend to 
his troubled spirit ; in such a moment his faith 
rose strong ; he trod a shining track through 
the deeps of God. 



XXX 

The air that day was full of sunlight like fine 
gold, and put Hugh in mind of the city that 
was pure gold like unto clear glass ! — he had 
often puzzled over that as a child ; gold always 
seemed so opaque a thing, a surface without 
depth ; but, after all, it was true of the air about 
him to-day — clear and transparent indeed, with 
a perfect clarity and purity, and yet undoubted- 
ly all tinged and lucent liquid gold. He sat 
long on a bench in the college garden, a little 
paradise for the eye and mind ; it had been 
skilfully laid out, and Hugh used to think that 
he had never seen a place so enlarged by art, 
where so much ground went to the acre ! All 
the outer edge of it was encircled by trees — 
elms, planes, and limes ; the borders, full of 
flowering shrubs,were laid out in graceful curves, 
and in the centre was a great oval bed 
of low-growing bushes, with the velvet turf 
all about it, sweeping in sunlit vistas to 
left and right. It gave somehow a sense 
of space and extent, achieved Hugh could 
291 



292 Beside Still Waters 

not guess how. To-day all the edges of 
the borders were full of flowers ; and as he 
wandered among them he was more than ever 
struck with a thought that had often come to 
him, the mystery of flowers ! The extraordi- 
nary variety of leaf and colour, the whimsical 
shapes, the astonishing invention displayed, and 
yet an invention of an almost childish kind. 
There was a clump of pink blooms, such as a 
child might have amused itself with cutting out 
of paper ; here rose tall spires, with sharp-cut, 
serrated leaves at the base, but the blue 
flowers on the stem were curiously lipped and 
horned, more like strange insects than flowers. 
And then the stainless freshness and delicacy of 
the texture, that a touch would soil ! These 
gracious things, uncurling themselves hour by 
hour, blooming, fading, in obedience to the 
strange instinct of life, surprised him by a sud- 
den thrill. Here was a bed of irises, with smooth 
blade-Hke stalks, snaky roots, the flowers of in- 
credible shapes, yet no two exactly alike, all 
splashed and dappled with the richest colours ; 
and then the mixture of blended fragrance; the 
hot, honeyed smell of the candytuft, with aro- 
matic spicy scents of flowers that he could not 
name. Here again was the eschscholtzia, with 
its pointed horns, its bluish leaf, and the delicate 
orange petals, yet with a scent, pure but acid. 



Flowers 293 

which almost made one shudder. There was 
some mind behind it all, Hugh felt, but what a 
mind ! how leisurely, how fanciful, how un- 
fathomable ! For whose pleasure were all these 
bright eccentric forms created ? Certainly not 
for the pleasure of man, for Hugh thought of 
the acres and acres of wheat now rising in serried 
ranks in the deep country, with the poppies or 
the marigolds among them, all quietly unfold- 
ing their bells of scarlet flame, their round, sun- 
like faces, where no eye could see them, except 
the birds that flew over. Could it be for 
God's own pleasure that these flower shapes 
were made? They could not even see each 
other, but rose in all their freshness, as by a 
subtle conspiracy, yet blind to the world 
about them, conscious only of the sunlight 
and the rain, with no imaginative knowledge 
it would seem, or sympathy with their breth- 
ren. It always filled Hugh with a sort of pity 
to think of the sightless life of trees and flowers, 
each rising in its place, in plain, on hill, and 
yet each enclosed within itself, with no con- 
sciousness of its own beauty, and still less 
conscious of the beauty of its fellows. And 
what was the life that animated them ? Where 
did it come from ? Where did it pass to ? Had 
they any sense of joy, of sorrow ? It was hard 
to believe that they had not. It always dis- 



294 Beside Still Waters 

tressed Hugh to see flowers gathered or boughs 
broken ; it seemed a hateful tyranny to treat 
these deUcate creatures so for an hour's pleasure. 
The sight of flowers picked and then thrown 
carelessly down by the roadside, gave him a 
sense of helpless indignation. The idyllic 
picture of children wandering in spring, filling 
their hands with flower-heads torn from bank 
and copse, appeared to Hugh as only painful. 
Man, from first to last, seemed to spread a ruth- 
less destruction around him. Hugh's windows 
overlooked a stream-bend much frequented by 
fishermen ; and it was a misery to see the poor 
dace, that had lived so cool and merry a life in 
the dark pools of the stream, poising and dart, 
ing among the river-weed, hauled up struggling 
to the air, to be greeted with a shout of triumph, 
and passed about, dying and tortured, among 
the hot hands, in the thin choking air. Was 
that what God made them for? What com- 
pensation awaited them for so horrible and 
shameful an end. 

Hugh felt with a sigh that the mystery was 
almost unendurable, that God shouM make, 
hour by hour, these curious and exquisite things, 
such as flowers and fishes, and thrust them, not 
into a world where they could live out a peace- 
ful and innocent life, but into the midst of 
dangers and miseries. Sometimes, beneath his 



Pain and Suffering 295 

windows, he could see a shoal of little fish flick 
from the water in all directions at the rush of a 
pike, one of them no doubt horribly engulfed 
in the monster's jaws. 

Why was so hard a price to be paid for the 
delightful privilege of life ? Was it indifference 
or carelessness, as a child might make a toy 
and weary of it? It seemed like it, though 
Hugh could not bear to think that it was so ; 
and yet for thousands of centuries the same 
thing had been going on all over the world, and 
no one seemed an inch nearer to the mystery 
of it all. How such thoughts seemed to shrivel 
into nothing the voluble religious systems that 
professed to explain it all ! The misery of it 
was that, here and everywhere, God seemed to be 
explaining it Himself every day and hour, and 
yet one missed the connection which could 
make it all intelligible — the connection, that is, 
between God, as man in his heart conceived of 
Him, and God as He wrote Himself large in 
every field and wood. On what hypothesis of 
pure benevolence and perfect justice could all 
these restless lives, so full of pain and suffering, 
and all alike ending in death and disappearance, 
be explained ? 

Yet, stranger still, the mystery did not make 
him exactly unhappy. The fiesh breeze blew 
through the trees, the flowers blazed and shone 



296 Beside Still Waters 

in the steady sun, the intricate lawns lay shim- 
mering among the shubberies, and Hugh seemed 
full of a baffling and baffled joy. At that mo- 
ment, at all events, God wished him well, and 
spread for him the exquisite pageant of life and 
colour and scent ; the very sunshine stole like 
some liquid essence along his veins, and filled 
him with unreasoning happiness. And yet he 
too was encompassed by a thousand dangers ; 
there were a hundred avenues of sense, of emo- 
tion, by which some dark messenger might steal 
upon him. Perhaps he lurked behind the trees 
of that sweet paradise, biding his time to come 
forth. But to-day it seemed a species of 
treachery to feel that anything but active love 
and perfect benevolence was behind these smil- 
ing flowers, those tall trees rippling in the 
breeze, that lucent sky. To-day at least it 
seemed God's will that he should be filled with 
peaceful content and gratitude. He would 
drink the cup of sweetness to-day without re- 
trospect or misgiving. Would the memory of 
that sweetness stay his heart, and sustain his 
soul when the dark days came, when the garden 
should be bare and dishevelled, and a strange 
dying smell should hang about the walks ; and 
when perhaps his own soul should be sorrowful 
even unto death? 



XXXI 

The perception of one of the great truths of 
personality came upon Hugh in a summer day 
which he had spent, according to his growing 
inclination, almost alone. In the morning he 
had done some business, some writing, and had 
read a little. It was a week when Cambridge 
was almost wholly given up to festivity, and the 
little river that flowed beneath his house echoed 
all day long to the wash of boats, the stroke of 
oars, and the cheerful talk of happy people. 
The streets were full of gaily-dressed persons 
hurrying to and fro. This background of brisk 
life pleased Hugh exceedingly, so long as he 
was not compelled to take any part in it, so 
long as he could pursue his own reveries. Part 
of the joy was that he could peep at it from his 
secure retreat ; it inspirited him vaguely, setting, 
as it were, a cheerful descant to the soft melody 
of his own thoughts. In the afternoon he went 
out leisurely into the country ; it was pleasant 
to leave the humming town, so full of active 
life and merry gossip, and to find that in the 
297 



298 Beside Still Waters 

country everything was going forward as though 
there were no pressure, no bustle anywhere. The 
solitary figures of men hoeing weeds in among 
the growing wheat, and moving imperceptibly 
across the wide green fields, pleased him. He 
wound away through comfortable villages, 
among elms and orchards, choosing the by-ways 
rather than the high-roads, and plunging deeper 
and deeper into country which it seemed that 
no one ever visited except on rustic business. 
There was a gentle south wind which rippled in 
the trees; the foliage had just begun to wear 
its late burnished look, and the meadows were 
full of high-seeded grass, gilded or silvered with 
buttercups and ox-eye daisies. 

He stopped for a time to explore a little rustic 
church, that stood, in a careless mouldering 
dignity, in the centre of a small village. Here, 
with his gentle fondness for little omens, he be- 
came aware that some good thing was being pre- 
pared for him, for in the nave of the church, 
under the eaves, he noted no less than three 
swarms of bees, that had made their nest under 
the timbers of the roof, and were just awakening 
into summer activity. The drones were being 
cast out of the hives, and in an angle formed by 
the buttress of the church, Hugh found a small 
lead cistern of water, which was a curious sight ; 
it was all full of struggling bees fallen from the 



A Man of Science 299 

roof above, either solitary bees who had darted 
into, the surface, and could not extricate them- 
selves, or drones with a working bee grappled, 
intent on pinching the life out of the poor be- 
wildered creature, the day of whose reckoning 
had come. Hugh spent a long time in pulling 
the creatures out and setting them in the sun, 
till at last he was warned by slanting shadows 
that the evening was approaching, and he set 
off upon his homeward way. 

In a village near Cambridge he encountered a 
friend, a bluff man of science, who was engaged 
in a singular investigation. He kept a large 
variety of fowls, and tried experiments in cross- 
breeding, noting carefully in a register the plum- 
age and physical characteristics of the chickens. 
He had hired for the purpose a pleasant house, 
with a few paddocks attached, where he kept 
his poultry. He invited Hugh to come in, who 
in his leisurely mood gladly assented. The 
great man took him round his netted runs, and 
discoursed easily upon the principles that he 
was elucidating. He spoke with a mild enthus- 
iasm; and it surprised and pleased Hugh that a 
man of force and gravity should spend many 
hours of every day in registering facts about the 
legs, the wattles, and the feathers of chickens, 
and speak so gravely of the prospect of infinite in- 
terest that opened before him. He said that he 



300 Beside Still Waters 

had worked thus for some years, and as yet 
felt himself only on the fringe of the subject. 
They walked about the big garden, where the 
evening sun lay pleasantly on turf and borders 
of old-fashioned flowers ; and with the compla- 
cent delight with which a scientific man likes to 
show experiments to persons who are engaged 
in childish pursuits such as literature, the philo- 
sopher pointed out some other curiosities, as 
a plant with a striped flower, whose stalk was 
covered with small red protuberances, full of a 
volatile and aromatic oil, which, when a lighted 
match was applied to them, sent off a little airy 
flame with a dry and agreeable fragrance, as the 
tiny ignited cells threw out their inflammable 
perfume. 

Hugh was pleasantly entertained by these 
sights, and went home in a very blithe frame 
of mind ; a little later he sat down to write in 
his own cool study. He was working at a task 
of writing which he had undertaken, when a 
thought darted suddenly into his mind, sug- 
gested by the image of the man of science who 
had beguiled an afternoon hour for him. It 
was a complicated thought at first, but it grew 
clearer. He perceived, as in a vision, humanity 
moving onwards to some unseen goal. He 
took account, as from a great height, of all 
those who are in the forefront of thought and 



Prophets 301 

intellectual movement. He saw them working 
soberly and patiently in their appointed lines. 
He discerned that though all these persons im- 
agined that they had purposely taken up some 
form of intellectual labour, and were pursuing 
it with a definite end in view, they had really 
no choice in the matter, but were being led 
along certain ways by as sure and faithful an 
instinct as the bees that he had seen that day 
intent on their murderous business. Each of 
these savants, in whatever line his labours lay, 
felt that he was striding forward on a quest pro- 
posed, as he imagined, by himself. But Hugh 
saw, with an inward certainty of vision, that the 
current which moved them was one with which 
they could not interfere, and that it was but 
the inner movement of some larger and wider 
mind which propelled them. He saw too, that 
m^ny of his friends, men of practical learning, 
who were occupied, with a deep sense of im- 
portance and concern, in accumulating a little 
treasure of facts and inferences, in science, in 
history, in language, in philosophy, were but 
led by an inner instinct, an implanted taste, 
along the paths they supposed themselves to 
be choosing and laboriously pursuing. They en- 
couraged each other at intervals by the bestowal 
of little honours and dignities ; but at this mo- 
ment Hugh saw them as mere toilers ; like the 



302 Beside Still Waters 

merchants who spend busy and unattractive 
lives, sitting in noisy offices, acquiring money 
with which to found a family, with the curious 
ambition that descendants of their own, whom 
they could never see, should lead a pleasant 
life in stately country-houses, intent upon 
shooting and games, on social gatherings and 
petty business. JH[£ sawjclearl}^ that the mer- 
chantand the philosopher alike had no clear 
idea of what they desired to effect, but merely 
followed a path prepared,,and indicated!™An3 
then _he saw that the minds which were really 
in the forefront of all were the poetical minds, 
the interpreters, the prophets, who saw, not, in 
minute detail, and in small definite, sections, but 
with a wide and large view, whither all this dis- 
covery, this investigation, was tending. The 
investigation worthless and minute enough in 
itself, as it seemed to be when examined at a 
single point, had at least this value, that some 
principle, some inspiration for life could be ex- 
tracted from it, something which would perme- 
ate slowly the thought of the world, set pulses 
beating, kindle generous visions, and teach men 
ultimately the lesson that once learnt, puts life 
into a different plane, the lesson that God is 
behind and over and in all things, and that it is 
His purpose and not our own that is growing 
and ripening. 



A Tranquil Faith 303 

This mighty truth came home to Hugh that 
quiet afternoon with a luminous certitude, a 
vast increase of hopelessness such as he had 
seldom experienced before. But the thought 
in its infinite width narrowed itself like a great 
stream that passes through a tiny sluice ; and 
Hu^i_,sajK-3Khat his own life was to be ; that he 
mustjnoJbngerJbx!n.P.lans..an£Lschemes, battle 
with uncongenial conditions^ ^ni.ajce foplisTfiTand 

fretful efforts ill directions .Ja wJtiich._he 

had no real strength or force ; but that 
his, only UQcatlonjnust lie in faithfully and 
simply interpreting to himself "and' others this 
gigantic truth : the truth, namely, that no one 
ought ever to indulge in gloomy doubts and 
questionings about what his work in the world 
was to be, but that men and women alike ought 
just.to advance, quietly and joyfully, upon the 
path, so surely, so inevitably indicated to them. 
The more, he saw, that one listens to this inner 
voice, the more securely does the prospect open ; 
by labour, not by fretful performance of dis- 
agreeable duty, but by eager obedience to the 
constraining impulse, is the march of the world 
accomplished. For some the path is quiet and 
joyful, for some it is noisy and busy, for some 
it is dreary and painful ; for some it is even 
what we call selfish, cruel and vile. But we 
must advance jilong it whether we will or no. 



304 Beside Still Waters 

And it became cjear.-to Hugh that the more 
simpTy and clearly we Jeel thiSj the more will 
all the darker elements of life drop away from 
the souls of men ; for the darker elements, the 
delays, the sorrows", the ~ erfol's, are in vast 
measure the s.hadpws^that_ come, froin. our be- 
lieving that it is we who cause and originat-e, . 
that our efforts and energies are valuable and 
useful. They are both, when God is behind 
them ; but when we strive to make them our 
own, their pettiness and insignificance are 
revealed. 

It must not be said that Hugh never fell 
from this deep apprehension of the truth. 
There were hours when he was haunted by the 
spectres of his own unregenerate action, when 
he regretted mistakes, when he searched for 
occupation ; but he grew to see that even these 
sad hours only brought out for him, with deep- 
er and clearer significance, the essential truth 
of the vision, which did indeed transform his 
life. When he was ill, anxious, overwrought, 
he grew to feel that he was being held quietly 
back for a season ; and it led to a certain 
deliberate disentangling of himself from the 
lesser human relations, from a consciousness 
that his appointed work was not here, but that 
he was set apart and consecrated for a particular 
work, the work of apprehending and discerning. 



Trustfulness 305 

of interpreting and expressing, the vast design 
of life ; it represented itself to him in an image 
of children wandering in fields and meadows, 
just observing the detail and the petty connec- 
tion of objects, the hedgerow, the stream 
appearing in certain familiar places, by ford or 
bridge, the trees that loomed high over the 
nearer orchard, and seemed part of it. And 
then one of these children, he thought, might, 
on a day of surprises, be taken up to the belfry 
of the old church-tower in the village, and out 
npon the roof. Then in a moment the plan, 
the design of all would be made clear, the hid- 
den connection revealed. Those great tower- 
ing elms, that rose in soft masses above the 
orchard, were in reality nothing but the elms 
that the child knew so well from the other side, 
that overhung his own familiar garden. There, 
among the willows, the stream passed from ford 
to bridge, and on again, circling in loops and 
curves. The village would be a different place 
after that, not known by an empirical experi- 
ence, but apprehended as a construction, as 
a settled design, where each field and garden 
had its appointed place. 

And so Hugh, with a great effort of utter 
resignation, a resignation which had something 
passionate and eager about it, cast himself into 
the Father's hands, and prayed that he might 



3o6 Beside Still- Waters 

no longer do anything but discern and follow 
the path that^was-ptega^ed for him. Loiig and 
late these thoughts haunted him ; but when he 
went at last through the silent house to his own 
room, it was with a sense that he was reposing 
in perfect trustfulness upon the will of One 
who, whether He led him forward or held him 
back, knew with a deep and loving tenderness 
one thing that he, and he only, could do in the 
great complicated world. That world was now 
hushed in sleep. But the weir rushed and 
plunged in the night outside ; and over the 
dark trees that fringed the stream there was a 
tender and patient light, that stole up from the 
rim of the whirling globe, as it turned its weary 
sides, with punctual obedience, to the burning 
light of the remote sun. 



XXXII 

Hugh found that, as he grew older, he 
tended to read less, or rather that he tended 
to recur more and more to the familiar books. 
He had^ always been a rapid reader, and had 
followed the line of pure pleasure, rather than 
pursued any scheme of self-improv'ement. He 
became aware, particularly at Cambridge, that 
he was by no means a well-informed man, and 
that his mind was very incompletely furnished. 
He was disposed to blame his education for this, 
to a certain extent ; it had been almost purely 
classical ; he had been taught a little science, a 
little mathematics, and a little French ; but the 
only history he had done at school had been 
ancient history, to illustrate the classical au- 
thors he had been reading ; and the result had 
been a want of mental balance; he knew 
nothing of the modern world or the movement 
of European history ; the whole education had 
in fact been linguistic and literary ; it had sac- 
rificed everything to accuracy, and to the con- 
sideration of niceties of expression. It might 
307 



3o8 Beside Still Waters 

have been urged that this was in itself a train- 
ing in the art of verbal expression ; but here 
it seemed to Hugh that the whole of the train- 
ing had confined itself to the momentary effect, 
the ring of sentences, the adjustment of epi- 
thets, an4 that he had received no sort of train- 
ing in the art of structure. He had never been 
made to write essays or to arrange his materials. 
He thought thai he ought to have been taught 
how to deal with a subject ; but his exercises 
had been almost wholly translations from an- 
cient classical languages. He had been taught, 
in fact, how to manipulate texture, but never 
how to frame a design. The result upon his 
reading had been that he had always been in 
search of phrases, of elegant turns of expression 
and qualification, but he had never learned how 
to apprehend the ideas of an author. He had 
not cared to do this for himself, and from the 
examination point of view it had been simply 
a waste of time. All that he had ever tried to 
do had been so to familiarise himself with the 
style, the idiosyncrasies of authors, that he 
might be able to reproduce such superficial ef- 
fects in his compositions, or to disentangle a 
passage set for translation. He had not arrived 
at any real mastery of either Greek or Latin, 
and it seemed to him, reflecting on this process 
long afterwards, that the system had en- 



Classical Education 309 

couraged in him a naturally faulty and dilet- 
tante bent in literature. In reading, for instance, 
a dialogue, of Plato, he had never cared to 
follow the argument, but only to take pleas- 
ure jnbeautil[ulj isolated thoughts and images; 
in reading a play of Sophocles, he had cared 
little about the character-drawing or the devel- 
opment of the dramatic situation ; he had only 
striven to discover and recollect extracts of 
gnomic quality, sonorous flights of rhetoric, 
illustrative similes. 

The same tendency had affected all his own 
reading, which had lain mostly in the direction 
of belles-lettres and literary annals ; and, in the 
course of his official life, literature had been to 
him more a beloved recreation than a matter of 
mental discipline. The result had been that he 
found himself, in the days of his emancipation, 
with a strong perception of literary quality, and 
a wide knowledge of poetical and imaginative 
literature ; he had, too, a considerable acquaint- 
ance with the lives of authors ; and this was all. 
He could read French with facility, but with 
little appreciation of style. Both German and 
Italian were practically unknown to him. 

Hugh made the acquaintance, which ripened 
into friendship, of a young Fellow of a neigh- 
bouring college, whose education had been con- 
ducted on entirely different lines. This young 



3IO Beside Still Waters 

man had been educated privately, his health 
making it impossible for him to go to school. 
He had read only just enough of classics to en- 
able him to pass the requisite examinations, 
and he had been trained chiefly in history and 
modern languages. He had taken high honours 
in history at Cambridge, and had settled down 
as a historical lecturer. As this friendship in- 
creased, and as Hugh saw more and more of 
his friend's mind, he began to realise his own 
deficiencies. His friend had an extraordinary 
grasp of political and social movements. He 
was acquainted with the progress of philosophy 
and with the development of ideas. It was a 
brilliant, active, well-equipped intellect, moving 
easily and with striking lucidity in the regions 
of accurate knowledge. Sometimes, in talking 
to his friend, Hugh became painfully aware of 
the weakness of his own slouching, pleasure- 
loving mind. It seemed to him that, in the in- 
tellectual region, he was like a dusty and ragged 
tramp, permeated on sunshiny days with a sort 
of weak, unsystematic contentment, dawdling 
by hedge-row ends and fountain-heads, lying 
in a vacant muse in grassy dingles, and sleeping 
by stealth in the fragrant shadow of hay-ricks ; 
while his friend seemed to him to be a brisk 
gentleman in a furred coat, flashing along the 
roads in a motor-car, full of useful activity and 



Misntal Discipline 311 

pleasant business. His friend's idea of educa- 
tion was of a strict and severe mental discipline ; 
he did not over-estimate the value of know- 
ledge, but regarded facts and dates rather as 
a skilled workman regards his bright and well- 
arranged tools. What he did above all things 
value was a keen, acute, clear, penetrating mind, 
which arrayed almost unconsciously the ele- 
ments of a problem, and hastened unerringly to 
a conclusion. The only point in which Hugh 
rated his own capacity higher, was in a 
certain relish for literary effect. His friend 
was a great reader, but Hugh felt that 
he himself possessed a power of enjoyment, 
an appreciation of colour and melody, a 
thrilled delight in what was artistically ex- 
cellent, of which his friend seemed to have 
little inkling. 

His friend could classify authors, and could 
give off-hand a brilliant and well-sustained 
judgment on their place in literary develop- 
ment, which fairly astonished Hugh. But the 
difference seemed to be that his friend had 
mastered books with a sort of gymnastic agil- 
ity, and that his mind had reached an aston- 
ishing degree of technical perfection thereby; 
but Hugh felt that to himself books had been 
a species of food, and that his heart and spirit 
had gained some intensity from them, some 



312 Beside Still Waters 

secret nourishment, which his friend had to a 
certain extent missed. 

Hugh had been so stirred on several occar 
sions by a sense of shame at realising the 
impotence and bareness of his own mind, that 
he laid down an ambitious scheme of self-im- 
provement, and attacked history with a zealous 
desire for his own mental reform. But he 
soon discovered that it was useless. Such an 
effort might have been made earlier in life, 
before habits had been formed of desultory 
enjoyment, but it was in vain now. He real- 
ised that accurate knowledge simply fell 
through his mind like a shower of sand ; a little 
of it lodged on inaccessible ledges, but most of 
it was spilled in the void. He saw that his only 
hope was to strengthen and enlarge his exist- 
ing preferences, and that the best that he could 
hope to arrive at was to classify and systema- 
tise such knowledge as he at present possessed. 
It was too late to take a new departure, or to 
aim at any completeness of view. The mental 
discipline that he required, and of which he 
felt an urgent need, must be attained by a 
diligent sorting of his own mental stores, hap- 
hazard and disjointed as they were. And after 
all, he felt, there was room in the world for 
many kinds of minds. Mental discipline from 
the academical point of view was a very import- 



Mental Fertilisation 313 

ant thing, perhaps the thing that the ordinary 
type of public schoolboy was most in need of. 
But there was another province too, the pro- 
vince of mental appreciation, and it was in this 
field that Hugh felt himself competent to 
labour. It seemed to him that there were 
many young men at the university, capable of 
intellectual pleasure, who had been starved by 
the at once diffuse and dignified curriculum 
of classical education. Hugh felt that he him- 
self had been endowed with an excess of the 
imaginative and artistic quality, and that, 
owing to natural instincts and intellectual 
home-surroundings, he had struck out a path 
for himself; books had been to Hugh from his 
earliest years channels of communication with 
other minds. He could not help doubting 
whether they ever developed qualities or de- 
lights that did not naturally exist in a rudi- 
mentary form in the mind which fell under 
their influences. He could not, in looking 
back, trace the originating power of any book 
on his own mind ; the ideas of others had 
rather acted in fertilising the germs which lay 
dormant in his own heart. They had deep- 
ened .the channels of his own thoughts, they 
had revealed him to himself; but there had 
always been, he thought, an unconscious power 
of selection at work ; so that uncongenial ideas. 



SH Beside Still Waters 

unresponsive thoughts, had merely danced o£f 
the surface without affecting any lodgment. 
He had gained in taste and discrimination, but 
he could not trace any impulse from literature 
which had set him exploring a totally unfamil- 
iar region. Sometimes he had resolutely sub- 
mitted his mind to the leadership of a new 
author ; but he had always known in his heart 
that the pilgrimage would be in vain. He felt 
that he would have gained if he had known 
this more decisively, and if he had spent his 
energies more faithfully in pursuing what was 
essentially congenial to him. 

There were certain authors, certain poets 
who, he had instinctively felt from the outset, 
viewed life, nature, and art from the same 
standpoint as himself. His mistake had been 
in not defining that standpoint more clearly, 
but in wandering vaguely about, seeking for a 
guide, for way-posts, for beaten tracks. What 
he ought to have done was to have fixed his 
eyes upon the goal, and fared directly thither. 

But this misdirected attempt, over which he 
wasted some precious months, to enlarge the 
horizon of his mind, had one valuable effect. 
It revealed to him at last what the object of 
.his search was. He become aware that he was ' 
vowed to the pursuit of beauty, of a definite 
and almost lyrical kind. He saw that his mind 



Poetry 315 

was not made to take in, with a broad and vig- 
orous sweep, the movement of human en- 
deavour ; he saw that he had no conception of 
wide social or political forces, of the development 
of communities, of philosophical ideals. These 
were great and high things, and his studies 
gave him an increased sense of their greatness 
and significance. But Hugh saw that he could 
neither be a historian nor a philosopher, but 
that his work must be of an individualistic 
type. He saw that the side of the world which 
appealed to himself was the subtle and myste- 
rious essence of beauty — the beauty of nature, 
of art, of music, of comradeship, of relations 
with other souls. The generalisations of science 
had often a great poetical suggestiveness ; but 
he had no vestige of the scientific temper 
which is content to deduce principles from 
patient and laborious investigation. He saw 
that his own concern must be with the emo- 
tions and the hearts of his fellows, rather than 
with their minds ; that if he possessed any 
qualities at all, they were of a poetical kind. 
The mystery of the world was profound and 
dark, though Hugh could see that science was 
patiently evolving some order out of the chaos. 
But the knowledge of the intricate scheme was 
but a far-off vision, an august hope ; and mean- 
while men had to meet life as they could, to 



3i6 Beside Still Waters 

evolve enough hopefulness, enough inspiration 
from their complicated conditions to enable 
them to live a full and vigorous life. 

Poetry, to give a large name to the various 
interpretations of subtle beauty, could offer in 
some measure that hope, that serenity; could 
lend the dignity to life which scientific in- 
vestigations tended to sweep away. Science 
seemed to reveal the absolute pettiness, the 
minute insignificance of all created things, to 
show how inconsiderable a space each separate 
ndividual occupied in the sum of forces ; the 
thought weighed heavily upon Hugh that he 
was only as the tiniest of the drops of water in a 
vast cataract that had rushed for thousands of 
years to the sea ; it was a paralysing concep- 
tion. It was true that the water-drop had a 
definite place ; yet it was the outcome and the 
victim of monstrous forces ; it leaped from the 
mountain to the river, it ran from the river to 
the sea ; it was spun into cloud-wreaths ; it fell 
on the mountain-top again ; it was perhaps con- 
gealed for centuries in some glacier-bed ; then 
it was free again to pursue its restless progress. 
But to feel that one was like that, was an un- 
utterably dreary and fatiguing thought. The 
weary soul perhaps was hurried thus from zone 
to zone of life, never satisfied, never tranquil ; 
with a deep instinct for freedom and tran- 



The August Soul 317 

quillity, yet never tratiquil or free. Then, into 
this hopeless and helpless prospect, came the 
august message of poetry, revealing the tran- 
scendent dignity, the solitariness, the majesty 
of the indomitable soul ; bidding one remember 
that though one was a humbler-atom in a vast 
scheme, yet one had the sharp dividing sense 
of individuality; that each individual was to 
himself the measure of all things, a fortress of 
personality ; that one was not merely whirled 
about in a mechanical order ; but that each 
man was as God Himself, able to weigh and 
survey the outside scheme of things, to approve 
and to disapprove; and that the human will 
was a mysterious stronghold, impregnable, se- 
cure, into which not even God Himself could 
intrude unsummoned. How small a thing to 
the eye of the scientist were the human pas- 
sions and designs, the promptings of instinct 
and nature; but to the eye of the poet how 
sublime and august ! These tiny creatures 
could be dominated by emotions — love, honour, 
patriotism, liberty — which could enable them, 
frail and impotent as they were, to rise ma- 
jestically above the darkest and saddest limita- 
tions of immortahty. They could be racked 
with pain, crushed, tormented, silenced ; but 
nothing could make them submit, nothing 
could force them to believe that their pains 



3i8 Beside Still Waters 

were just. Herein lay the exceeding dignity 
of the human soul, that it could arraign its 
Creator before its own judgment-seat, and could 
condemn Him there. It could not, it seemed, 
refuse to be called into being, but, once exist- 
ent, it could obey or not as it chose. Its joys 
might be clouded, its hopes shattered, but it 
need not acquiesce ; and this power of rebellion, 
of criticism, of questioning, seemed to Hugh 
one of the most astonishing and solemn things 
in the world. And thus to Hugh the history 
of the individual, the aspirations and longings 
of mankind, seemed to contain a significance, 
a sanctity that nothing could remove. 

He did not believe that this rebellious ques- 
tioning was justified, but this did not lessen his 
astonishment at the fact that the human soul 
could claim a right to decide, by its own in- 
tuitions, what was just and what was unjust, 
and could accuse the Eternal Lord of Life of 
not showing it enough of the problem for it to 
be able to acquiesce in the design, as it desired 
to do. Hugh believed that he was justified in 
holding that as Love was the strongest power 
in the world, the Creator and Inspirer of that 
love probably represented that quality in the 
supremest degree, though this was an inference 
only, and not supported by all the phenomena 
of things. But it seemed to him the one clue 



The Secret of a Star 319 

through the darkness ; and this secret hope was 
perhaps the highest and best thought that 
came to him from searching the records of 
humanity and the conceptions of mortal minds. 
And therefore Hugh felt that he was on the 
side of the individual ; and that he touched life 
in that relation. Literature then must be for 
him, in some form or other, an attempt to 
quicken the individual pulse, to augment the in- 
dividual sense of significance. He must abstain 
from what was probably a higher work; but he 
must not lose faith thereby. He must set him- 
self with all his might to preach a gospel of 
beauty to minds which, like his own, were in- 
capable of the larger mental sweep, and could 
only hope to disentangle the essence of the mo- 
ment, to refine the personal sensation. That 
was the noble task of high literature, of art, 
of music, of the contemplation of nature, that 
it could give the mind a sense of largeness, of 
dim and wistful hope, of ultimate possibilities. 
The star that hung in the silent heaven — it was 
true that it was the creation of mighty forces, 
that it had a place, a system, a centrifugal 
energy, a radiation of its own. That was in a 
sense the message of a star ; but it had a further 
appeal, too, to the imaginative mind, in that it 
hung a glowing point of ageless light, infinitely 
remote, intolerably mysterious, a symbol of all 



320 Beside Still Waters 

the lustrous energies of the aspiring soul. And 
in one sense, indeed, the pure imagination could 
invest such vast creatures of God with even 
a finer, freer charm than scientific apprehension. 
Science could indicate its bulk, its motions, 
its distance, even analyse its very bones ; but it 
could do no more ; while the spirit could glide, 
as in an aerial chariot, through the darkness of 
the impalpable abyss, draw nearer and nearer 
in thought to the vast luminary, see unscathed 
its prodigious vents spouting flame and smoke, 
and hear the roar of its furnaces ; or softly alight 
upon fields of dark stones, and watch with awe 
the imagined progress of forms intolerably huge, 
swollen as with the bigness of nightmare. Here 
was the strange contrast, that science was all on 
fire to learn the truth ; while the incomprehen- 
sible essence of the soul, with its limitless vis- 
ions, was capable of forming conceptions which 
the truth should disappoint. And here again 
came in a strange temptation. If life and iden- 
tity were to be indefinitely prolonged, then 
Hugh had no wish but to draw nearer to the 
truth, however hard and even unpalatable it 
might be ; but if, on the other hand, this 
life were all, then it seemed that one might be 
even the happier for comfortable and generous 
delusions. 

Hugh, then, felt that if the old division of 



Idealistic and Scientific 321 

more highly developed minds was the true one ; 
if one was either Aristotelian or Platonist, that 
is to say, if one's tendencies were either scien- 
tific or idealistic, there was no doubt on which 
side of the fight he was arrayed ; not that he 
thought of the two tendencies as antagonistic ; 
and if indeed, the scientific mind tended to con. 
temn the idealistic mind, as concerning itself 
with fancies rather than with facts, he felt that 
there could not be a greater mistake than for 
the idealistic mind to contemn the scientific. 
Rather, he thought, the idealists should use the 
scientific toilers as patient, humble, and service- 
able people, much as the Dorian conquerors of 
Sparta used the Helots, and encouraged them to 
perform the necessary and faithful work of in. 
vestigation for which the idealists were unfitted. 
The mistake which men of scientific temper 
made, Hugh thought, was to concern them- 
selves only or mainly, with material phenomena. 
The idealistic and imaginative tendencies of 
man were just as much realities, and no amount 
of materialism could obliterate them. What 
was best of all was to import if possible a scien- 
tific temper into idealistic matters ; not to draw 
hasty or insecure generalisations, nor to neglect 
phenomena however humble. Books, then, for 
Hugh were, in their largest aspect, indications 
and manifestations of the idealistic nature of 



322 Beside Still Waters 

man. The interest about them was the perceiv- 
ing of the different angles at which a thought 
struck various minds, the infusion of personality 
into them by individuals, the various interpre- 
tations which they put upon perceptions, the 
insight into various kinds of beauty and hope- 
fulness which the writers displayed. 

And thus Hugh turned more and more away 
from the critical apprehension of imaginative 
literature to the mystical apprehension of it. 
A critical apprehension of it was indeed neces- 
sary, for it initiated one into the secrets of 
expression and of structure, in which the force 
of personality was largely displayed, taking shape 
from the thought in them, as clothes take shape 
from their wearers. But deeper still lay the 
mystical interpretation. In the world of books 
he heard the voice of the soul, sometimes 
lamenting in desolate places, sometimes singing 
blithely to itself, as a shepherd sings upon a 
headland, in sight of the blue sea ; sometimes 
there came a thrill of rapture into the voice, 
when the spirit was filled to the brim with the 
unclouded joys of the opening world, the scent 
of flowers, the whispering of foliage in great 
woods, the sweet harmonies of musical chords, 
the glance of beloved eyes, or the accents of 
some desired voice; and then again all this 
would fade and pale, and the soul would sit 



The End of Reading 323 

wearied out, lamenting its vanished dreams and 
the delicate delights of the springtime, in some 
wild valley overhung with dark mountains, un- 
der the dreadful and inscrutable eye of God. Life, 
how insupportable, how beautiful it seemed ! 
Full of treasures and terrors alike, its joys 
and its woes alike unutterable. The strangest 
thing of all : that the mind of man was capable 
of seeing that there was a secret, a mystery 
about it all ; could desire so passionately to 
know it and to be satisfied, and yet forbidden 
even dimly to discern its essence. 

What, after all, Hugh reflected, was the end 
of reading? Not erudition nor information, 
though many people seemed to think that this 
was a meritorious object. Professed historians 
must indeed endeavour to accumulate facts, and 
to arrive if possible at a true estimate of ten- 
dencies and motives ; the time had not yet 
come, said the most philosophical historians, 
for any deductions to be drawn as to the de- 
velopment of the mind of the world, the slow 
increase of knowledge and civilisation ; and yet 
that was the only ultimate value of their work, 
to attempt, namely, to arrive at the complex 
causes and influences that determined the 
course of history and progress. Hugh felt in- 
stinctively that his mind, impatient, inaccurate, 
subtle rather than profound, was ill adapted for 



324 Beside Still Waters 

such work as this. He felt that it was rather 
his work to arrive, if he could, at a semi-poet- 
ical, semi-philosophical intrepretation of life, 
and to express this as frankly as he could. And 
thus reading must be for him an attempt to 
refine and quicken his insight into the human 
mind, working in the more delicate regions of 
art. He must study expression and personality; 
he must keep his spirit sensitive to any hint of 
truth or beauty, any generous and ardent intui- 
tion, any grace and seemliness of thought. He 
was fond of books of travel, as opening to him 
a larger perspective of human life, and reveal- 
ing to him the conclusions to which experience 
and life had brought men of other nationali- 
ties and other creeds. Biography was his 
most beloved study, because it opened out 
to him the vast complexity of human motive ; 
but he thought that its chief value had been 
in revealing to him the extraordinary part 
that conventional and adopted beliefs and 
motives played in the majority of lives. 

His reading, then, began to have for him a 
deep and special significance. He was no philo- 
sopher ; he found that the metaphysical region, 
where one stumbled among the dim ultimate 
causes of things, only gave him a sense of 
insecurity and despair ; but he was in a sense 
a psychologist ; his experience of life had taught 



Sweet Voices 325 

him to have an inkling of the influences that 
affect character, and still more of the stubborn 
power of character in resisting influences. Poet- 
ry was to him a regioa in which one became 
aware of strange and almost magical forces, 
which came floating out of unknown and mys- 
terious depths — it was a world of half-heard 
echoes, momentary glimpses, mysterious ap- 
peals. In history and in biography one saw 
more of the interacting forces of temperament ; 
but in poetry, as the interpreter of nature, one 
found one's self among cries and thrills which 
seemed to rise from the inner heart of the world. 
It was the same with religion ; but here the 
forces at work so often lost their delicacy and 
subtlety by being compounded with grosser 
human influences, entangled with superstitions, 
made to serve low and pitiful ends. In poetry 
there was none of this — it was the most disin- 
terested thing in the world. In the pure medium 
of words, coloured by beauty and desire, all the 
remote, holy, sweet secrets of the heart were 
blended into a rising strain ; and it was well to 
submit one's self, tranquilly and with an open 
heart, to the calling of these sweet voices. 

Hugh was aware that his view was not what 
would be called a practical one ; that he had no 
fibre of his being that responded to what were 
called civic claims, political urgencies, social 



326 Beside Still Waters 

reforms, definite organisations ; he felt increas- 
ingly that these things were but the cheerful 
efforts of well-meaning and hard-headed persons 
to deal with the bewildering problems, the un- 
satisfactory debris of life. Hugh felt that the 
only possible hope of regeneration and uprais- 
ing lay in the individual ; and that if the tone 
of individual feeling could be purified and 
strengthened, these organisations would become 
mere unmeaning words. The things that they 
represented seemed to Hugh unreal and even 
contemptible^ the shadows cast on the mist by 
the evil selfishnesses, the stupid appetites, the 
material hopes of men. As simplicity of life 
and thought became more and more dear to him, 
he began to recognise that, though there was 
no doubt room in the world, as it was, for 
these other busy and fertile ideas, yet that his 
own work did not lie there. Rather it lay in 
defining and classifying his own life and experi- 
ence ; in searching for indubitable motives, and 
noble possibilities that had almost the force of 
certainties ; of gathering up the secrets of ex- 
istence, and speaking them as frankly, as ardent- 
ly, as melodiously as his powers would admit, if 
by any means he might awaken other hearts to 
the truths which had for him so sweet and con- 
straining an influence. 



XXXIII 

An art which had for Hugh an almost divine 
quality was the art of music ; an art dependent 
upon such frail natural causes, the vibration of 
string and metal, yet upon the wings of which 
the soul could fly abroad further than upon the 
wings of any other art. There was a little vig- 
nette of Bewick's, which he had loved as a 
child, where a minute figure sits in a tiny 
horned and winged car, in mid-air, throwing 
out with a free gesture the reins attached to 
the bodies of a flight of cranes ; the only sym- 
bol of his destination a crescent moon, shining 
in dark skies beyond him. That picture had 
always seemed to Hugh a parable of music, 
that it gave one power to fly upon the regions of 
the upper air, to use the wings of the morning. 

And yet, if one analysed it, what a totally 
inexplicable pleasure it was. Part of it, the 
orderly and rhymthical beat of metre, such 
as comes from striking the fingers on the 
table, or tapping the foot upon the floor ; how 
deep lay the instinct to bring into strict se- 
327 



328 Beside Still Waters 

quence, where it was possible, the mechanical 
movements of nature, the creaking of the 
boughs of trees, the drip of water from a foun- 
tain-lip, the beat of rolling wheels, the recurrent 
song of the thrush on the high tree ; and then 
there came the finer sense of intricate vibration. 
The lower notes of great organ-pipes had little 
indeed but a harsh roar, that throbbed in the 
leaded casements of the church ; but climbing 
upwards they took shape in the delicate noises, 
the sounds and sweet airs of which Prospero's 
magic isle was full. And yet the rapture of it 
was inexpressible in words. Sometimes those 
airy flights of notes seemed to stimulate in some 
incomprehensible way the deepest emotions of 
the human spirit ; not indeed the intellectual 
and moral emotions, but the primal and ele- 
mental desires and woes of the heart. 

Hugh could hardly say in what region of the 
soul this all took place. It seemed indeed the 
purest of all emotions, for the mind lost itself 
in a delight which hardly even seemed to be 
sensuous at all, because in the case of other 
arts, one was conscious of pleasure, conscious 
of perception, of mingling identity with the 
thing seen or perceived ; but in music one 
was rapt almost out of mortality, in a kind of 
bodiless joy. 

One of Hugh's causes of dissatisfaction with 



Music 329 

the education he had received was that, though 
he had a considerable musical gift, he had never 
been taught to play any musical instrument. 
Partly indolence and partly lack of opportunity 
had prevented him from attaining any measure 
of skill by his own exertions, though he had 
once worked a little, very fitfully, at the theory 
of music, and had obtained just enough know- 
ledge of the composition of chords to give him 
an intelligent pleasure in disentangling the ele- 
ments of simple progressions. Another trifling 
physical characteristic had prevented his hear- 
ing as much music as he would have wished. 
The presence of a crowd, the heat and glare of 
concert-rooms, the uncomfortable proximity of 
unsympathetic or possibly loquacious persons, 
combined with a dislike of fixed engagements 
outside of the pressure of ofiScial hours of work, 
had kept him, very foolishly, from musical per- 
formances. Thus almost the only music with 
which he had a solid acquaintance was ecclesiasti- 
cal music ; he had been accustomed as a boy to 
frequent the cathedral services in the town 
where he was at school ; and in London he con- 
stantly went on Sundays to St. Paul's or West- 
minster. It was no doubt the stately mise-en- 
scene of these splendid buildings that affected 
Hugh as much even as the music itself, though 
the music was like the soul's voice speaking 



330 Beside Still Waters 

gently from beautiful lips. Hugh always, if he 
could, approached St. Paul's by a narrow lane 
among tall houses, that came out opposite the 
north transept. At a certain place the grey 
dome became visible, strangely foreshortened, 
like a bleak mountain-head, and then there ap- 
peared, framed by the house-fronts, the sculp- 
tured figure of the ancient lawgiver, with a 
gesture at once vehement and dignified, that 
crowded the top of the pediment. Then fol- 
lowed the hush of the mighty church, the dumb 
falling of many foot-falls upon the floor, the 
great space of the dome, in which the mist 
seemed to float, the liberal curves, the firm pro- 
portions of arch and pillar ; the fallen daylight 
seemed to swim and filter down, stained with 
the tincture of dim hues; the sounds of the 
busy city came faintly there, a rich murmur of 
life ; then the soft hum of the solemn bell was 
heard, in its vaulted cupola; and then the organ 
awoke, climbing from the depth of the bour- 
don ; the movement of priestly figures, the 
sweet order of the scene, the sense of high 
solemnity, made a shrine for the holy spirit of 
beauty to utter its silvery voice. In West- 
minster it was different; the richer darkness, 
the soaring arches, the closer span, the incredible 
treasure of association and memory made it a 
more mysterious place, but the sound lacked the 



Church Music 331 

smothered remoteness that gave such a strange, 
repressed economy to the music of St. Paul's. 
At Westminster it was more cheerful, more 
tangible, more material. But the tranquillising, 
the inspiring effect upon the spirit was the 
same. Perhaps it was not technical religion of 
which Hugh was in search. But it was the relig- 
ion which was as high above doctrine and creed 
and theology as the stars were above the clouds. 
The high and holy spirit inhabiting eternity 
seemed to emerge from the metaphysic, the 
science of religion, from argument and strife 
and dogma, as the moon wades, clear and cold, 
out of the rack of dusky vapours. Such a voice, 
as that gentle, tender, melancholy, and still 
joyful voice, that speaks in the 119th Psalm, 
telling of misunderstanding and persecution, 
and yet dwelling in a further region of peace, 
came speeding into the very labyrinth of Hugh's 
troubled heart. " I have gone astray like a 
sheep that is lost ; O seek Thy servant, for I do 
not forget Thy commandments." It was not 
inspiration, not a high-hearted energy, that 
music brought with it ; it was rather a recon- 
ciliation of all that hurt or jarred the soul, an 
earnest of intended peace. 

But, after all, this was not music pure and 
simple ; it was music set in a rich frame of 
both sensuous and spiritual emotions. Hugh 



332 Beside Still Waters 

realised that music had never played a large 
part in his life, but had been one of many artis- 
tic emotions that had spoken to him in divers 
manners. There was one fact about music 
which lessened its effect upon Hugh, and that 
was the fact that it seemed to depend more than 
other arts upon what one brought to it. In cer- 
tain moods, particularly melancholy moods, when 
the spirit was fevered by dissatisfaction or sor- 
row, its appeal was irresistible ; it came flying 
out of the silence, like an angel bearing a vial 
of fragrant blessings. It came flooding in, like 
the cool brine over scorched sands, smoothing, 
refreshing, purifying. There seemed some- 
thing direct, authentic, and divine about the 
message of music in such moods ; there seemed 
no interfusion of human personality to distract, 
because the medium was more pure. 

Sometimes, for weeks together at Cambridge, 
Hugh would go without hearing any music at all, 
until an almost physical thirst would fall upon 
him. In such an arid mood, he would find him- 
self tyrannously affected by any chance frag- 
ment of music wafted past him ; he would go 
to some cheerful party, where, after the meal 
was over, a piano would be opened, and a sim- 
ple song sung or a short piece played. This 
would come like a draught of water to a weary 
traveller, bearing Hugh away out of his sur- 



Musicians 333 

foundings, away from gossip and lively talk, 
into a remote and sheltered place ; it was like 
opening a casement from a familiar and lighted 
room, and leaning out over a dim land, where 
the sunset was slowly dying across the rim of 
the tired world. 

Hugh always found it easy to make friends 
with musicians. They generally seemed to him 
to be almost a race apart ; their art seemed to 
withdraw them in a curious way from the world, 
and to absorb into itself the intellectual vigour 
which was as a rule, with ordinary men, distribu- 
ted over a variety of interests. He knew some 
musicians who were men of wide cultivation, but 
they were very much the exception ; as a rule, 
they seemed to Hugh to be a simple, and almost 
childlike species, fond of laughter and elemen- 
tary jests, with emotions rather superficial than 
deep, and not regarding life from the ordinary- 
standpoint at all. The reason lay, Hugh be- 
lieved, in the nature of the medium in which 
they worked ; the writer and the artist were 
brought into direct contact with humanity ; it 
was their business to interpret life, to investi- 
gate emotion ; but the musician was engaged 
with an art that was almost mathematical in its 
purity and isolation ; he worked under the strict- 
est law, and though it required a severe and 
strong intellectual grip, it was not a process 



334 Beside Still Waters 

which had any connection with emotions or 
with life. But Hugh always felt himself to be 
inside the charmed circle, and though he knew 
but little of the art, musical talk always had a 
deep interest for him, and he seemed to divine 
and understand more than he could explain or 
express. 

But stiU it was true that music had played 
no part in his intellectual development ; he had 
never approached it on that side ; it had merely 
ministered to him at intervals a species of emo- 
tional stimulus ; it had seemed to him to speak 
a language, dim and unintelligible, but the pur- 
port of which he interpreted to be somehow 
high and solemn. There seemed indeed to be 
nothing in the world that spoke in such myste- 
rious terms of an august destiny awaiting the 
soul. The origin, the very elements of the joy 
of music were so absolutely inexplicable. There 
seemed to be no assignable cause for the fact 
that the mixture of rhythmical progress and 
natural vibration should have such a singular 
and magical power over the human soul, and 
affect it with such indescribable emotion. 

He had sometimes seen, half with amusement, 
half with a far deeper interest, the physical ef- 
fect which the music of some itinerant piano- 
organ would produce upon street children ; they 
seemed affected by some curious intoxication ; 



The Organ 335 

their gestures, their smiles, their self-conscious 
glances, their dancing movements, so unnatural 
in a sense, and yet so instinctive, made the 
process appear almost magical in its effects. 
Though it did not affect him so personally, it 
seemed to have a similarly intoxicating effect 
on Hugh's own mind. Even if the particular 
piece that he was listening to had ho appeal to 
his spirit, even if it were only a series of lively 
cascades of tripping notes, his thoughts, he 
found, took on an excited, an irrepressible tinge. 
But if, on the other hand, the time and the 
mood were favourable, if the piece were solemn 
or mournful, or of a melting sweetness, it 
seemed for a moment to bring a sense of true 
values into life, to make him feel, by a silent 
inspiration, the Tightness and the perfection of 
the scheme of the world. 

One evening a friend of Hugh's, who was or- 
ganist of one of the important college chapels, 
took him and a couple of friends into the build- 
ing. It had been a breathlessly hot summer 
day, but the air inside had a coolness and peace 
which revived the languid frame. It was nearly 
dark, but the great windows smouldered with 
deep fiery stains, and showed here and there a 
pale face, or the outline of a mysterious form, 
or an intricacy of twined tabernacle-work. 
Only a taper or two were lit in the shadowy 



336 Beside Still Waters 

choir ; and a light in the organ-loft sent strange 
shadows, a waving hand or a gigantic arm, across 
the roof, while the quiet movements of the 
player were heard from time to time, the pas- 
sage of his feet across the gallery, or the rustling 
of the leaves of a book. Hugh and his friends 
seated themselves in the stalls ; and then for an 
hour the great organ uttered its voice — now a 
soft and delicate strain, a lonely flute or a lan- 
guid reed outlining itself upon the movement 
of the accompaniment ; or at intervals the sym- 
phony worked up to a triumphant outburst, the 
trumpets crashing upon the air, and a sudden 
thunder outroUing ; the great pedals seeming to 
move, like men walking in darkness, treading 
warily and firmly ; until the whole ended with 
a soft slow movement of perfect simplicity and 
tender sweetness, like the happy dying of a very 
old and honourable person, who has drunk his 
fill of life and blessings, and closes his eyes for 
very weariness and gladness, upon labour and 
praise alike. 

The only shadow of this beautiful hour was 
that in this rapt space of tranquil reflection one 
seemed to have harmonised and explained life, 
joy, and disaster alike, to have wound up a clue, 
to have brought it all to a peaceful and perfect 
climax of silence, like a tale that is told ; and 
then it was necessary to go out to the world 



False Asceticism 337 

again with all its bitterness, its weariness, and 
its dissatisfaction — till one almost wondered 
whether it was wise or brave to have chased 
and captured this strange phantom of imagined 
peace. 

Yes, it was wise sometimes, Hugh felt sure! 
to have refused it would have been like refus- 
ing to drink from a cool and bubbling way- 
side spring, as one fared on a hot noon over 
the shimmering mountain-side — refused, in a 
spirit of false austerity, for fear that one would 
thirst again through the dreary leagues ahead. 
As long as one remembered that it was but an 
imagined peace, that one had not attained it, it 
was yet well to remember that the peace was 
real, that it existed somewhere, even though it 
was still shut within the heart of God. How- 
ever slow the present progress, however long the 
road, it was possible to look forward in hope, to 
know that one would move more blithely and 
firmly when the time should come for the de- 
sired peace to be given one more abundantly ; 
it helped one, as one stumbled and lingered, to 
look a little further on and to say, "I will run 
the way of Thy commandments, when Thou 
hast set my heart at liberty." 



XXXIV 

Hugh's professional life had given him 
little opportunity for indulging artistic tastes. 
He had been very fond as a boy of sketching, 
especially architectural subjects ; it had trained 
his powers of observation ; but there had come 
a time when, as a young man, he had deliber- 
ately laid his sketching aside. The idea in his 
mind had been that if one desired to excel 
in any form of artistic expression, one must de- 
vote all one's artistic faculty to that. He had 
been conscious of a certain diffuseness of 
taste, a love of music and a love of pictorial 
art being both strong factors in his mind ; 
but he was also dimly conscious that he 
matured slowly ; that he had none of the facile 
grasp of difiScult things which characterised 
some of his more able companions ; his progress 
was always slow, and he arrived at mastery 
through a long wrestling with inaccuracy and 
half knowledge ; his perception was quick, but 
his grasp feeble, while his capacity for forgetting 
and losing his hold on things was great. He 
338 



Pictorial Art 339 

therefore made a deliberate choice in the mat- 
ter, guided, he now felt, rather by a kind of 
intuition than by any very definite principle, 
and determined to restrict his artistic energies 
to a single form of art. His father, he remem- 
bered, had remonstrated with him, and had said 
that by giving up sketching he was sacrificing 
a great resource of recreation and amusement. 
He had no answer at the time to the criticism, 
but it seemed to him that he knew his own 
mind in the matter, and that as he could not 
hope, he thought, to attain to any real excel- 
lence in draughtsmanship, it had better be 
cut off altogether, and his energies, such as 
they were — he knew that the spring was 
not a copious one — confined to a more definite 
channel. 

As life went on, and as time became more and 
more precious, as his literary work more and 
more absorbed him, he drew away from the 
artistic region ; in his early years of manhood 
he had travelled a good deal, and the seeing of 
pictures had always been part of the pro- 
gramme ; but his work became heavier, and the 
holidays had tended more and more to be spent 
in some quiet English retreat, where he could 
satisfy his delight in nature, and re-read some 
of the old beloved books. A certain physical 
indolence was also a factor, an indolence which 



340 Beside Still Waters 

made wandering in a picture-gallery always 
rather a penance ; but he contrived at intervals 
to go and look at pictures in London in a lei- 
surely way, both old and new ; and he had one or 
two friends who possessed fine works of art, 
which could be enjoyed calmly and quietly. 
He was aware that he was losing some catholi- 
city of mind by this — but he knew his limita- 
tions, and more and more became aware that 
his constitutional energy was not very great, 
and needed to be husbanded. He was quite 
aware that he was not what would be called a 
cultivated person, that his knowledge both of 
art and music was feeble and amateurish ; but 
he saw, or thought he saw, that people of wide 
cultivation often sacrificed in intensity what 
they gained in width; and as he becaine gradually 
aware that the strongest faculty he possessed 
was the literary faculty, he saw that he could 
not hope to nourish it without a certain renun- 
ciation. He had no taste for becoming an 
expert or a connoisseur-; he had not the slighest 
wish to instruct other people, or to arrive at 
a technical and professional knowledge of art. 
He was content to leave it to be a rare luxury, 
a thing which, when the opportunity and the 
mood harmonised, could open a door for him 
into a beautiful world of dreams. He was quite 
aware that he often liked what would be called 



Hand and Soul 341 

the wrong things ; but what he was on the look, 
out for in art was not technical perfection or 
finished skill, but a certain indefinable poet- 
ical suggestion, which pictures could give him, 
when they came before him in certain moods. 
The mood, indeed, mattered more than the 
picture ; moreover it was one of the strangest 
things about pictorial art, that the work of cer- 
tain artists seemed able to convey poetical sug- 
gestion, even when the poetical quality seemed 
to be absent from their own souls. He knew a 
certain great artist well, who seemed to Hugh 
to be an essentially materialistic man, fond of 
sport and society, of money, and the pleasures 
that money could buy, who spoke of poetical 
emotion as moonshine, and seemed frankly 
bored by any attempt at the mystical apprehen- 
sion of beautiful things, who could yet produce, 
by means of his mastery of the craft, pictures 
full of the tenderest and loveliest emotion and 
poetry. Hugh tried hard to discern this quality 
in the man's soul, tried to believe that it was 
there, and that it was deliberately disguised by 
a pose of blufif unaffectedness. But he came to 
the conclusion that it was not there, and that 
the painter achieved his results only by being 
able to represent with incredible fidelity the 
things in nature that held the poetical quality. 
On the other hand he had a friend of real poet- 



342 Beside Still Waters 

ical genius, who was also an artist, but who 
could only produce the stiffest and hardest 
works of art, that had no quality about them 
except the quality of tiresome definiteness. This 
was a great mystery to Hugh ; but it ended 
eventually, after a serious endeavour to appre- 
ciate what was approved by the general verdict 
to be of supreme artistic value, in making him 
resolve that he would just follow his own inde- 
pendent taste, and discern whatever quality of 
beauty he could, in such art as made an appeal 
to him. Thus he was not even an eclectic ; 
he was a mere amateur; he treated art just as a 
possible vehicle of the poetical suggestion, 
and allowed it to speak to him when and 
where it could and would. 

He had moreover a great suspicion of con- 
ventionality in taste. A man of accredited 
taste often seemed to him little more than a 
man who had the faculty of admiring what it 
was the fashion to admire. Hugh had been for 
a short time under the influence of Ruskin, and 
had tried sincerely to see the magnificence of 
Turner, and to loathe the artificiality of Claude 
Lorraine. But when he arrived at his more 
independent attitude, he found that there was 
much to admire in Claude; that exquisite 
golden atmosphere, suffusing a whole picture 
with an evening glow, enriching the lavish fore- 



Turner 343 

ground, and touching into romantic beauty 
headland after headland, that ran out, covered 
with delicate woodland, into the tranquil lake ; 
those ruinous temples with a quiet flight of 
birds about them ; the mysterious figures of 
men emerging from the woods on the edges 
of the water, bent serenely on some simple busi- 
ness, had the magical charm ; and then those 
faint mountains closing the horizon, all rounded 
with the golden haze of evening, seemed to 
hold, in their faintly indicated heights and 
folds, a delicate peace, a calm repose, as though 
glad just to be, just to wait in that reposeful 
hour for the quiet blessing of waning light, 
the sober content so richly shed abroad. It 
was not criticism, Hugh thought, to say that it 
was all impossibly combined, falsely conceived. 
It was not, perhaps, a transcript of any one 
place or one hour ; but it had an inner truth 
for all that ; it had the spirit of evening with 
its pleasant weariness, its gentle recollection, its 
waiting for repose; or it had again the fresh- 
ness of the morning, the vital hope that makes 
it delightful to rise, to cast off sleep, to go 
abroad, making light of the toil and heat that 
the day is to bring. 

And then, in studying Turner, he learned to 
see that, lying intermingled with all the power 
and nobility of much of his work, there was a 



344 Beside Still Waters 

displeasing extravagance, a violence, a faulti- 
ness of detail, an exaggeration that often ruined 
his pictures. Neither he nor Claude were true 
to life ; but there was an insolence sometimes 
about Turner's variation from fact, which made 
him shudder. How he seemed sometimes, in 
his pictures of places familiar to Hugh — such, 
for instance, as the drawing of Malham Cove — 
to miss, by his heady violence, all the real, the 
essential charm of the place. Nature was not 
what Turner depicted it ; and he did not even 
develop and heighten its beauty, but substi- 
tuted for the real charm an almost grotesque 
personal mannerism. Turner's idea of nature 
seemed to Hugh often purely theatrical and 
melo-dramatic, wanting in restraint, in repose. 
The appeal of Turner seemed to him to be 
constantly an appeal to childish and unpercep- 
tive minds, that could not notice a thing unless 
it was forced upon them. Some of the earlier 
pictures indeed, such as that of the frost-bound 
lane, with the boy blowing on his fingers, and the 
horses nibbling at the stiff grass, with the cold 
light of the winter's dawn coming slowly up 
beyond the leafless hedge, seemed to him to be 
perfectly beautiful ; but the Turner of the later 
period, the Turner so wildly upheld by Ruskin, 
seemed to Hugh to have lost sight of nature, in 
the pleasure of constructing extravagant and 



Pictures with a Message 345 

fantastic schemes of colour. The true art 
seemed to Hiigh not to be the art that trumpets 
beauty aloud, and that drags a spectator rough- 
ly to admire ; but the art that waits quietly 
for the sincere nature-lover, and gives a soft hint 
to which the soul of the spectator can add its 
own emotion. To Hugh it was much a matter 
of mood. He would go to a gallery of ancient 
or modern art, and find that there many 
pictures had no message or voice for him ; and 
then some inconspicuous picture would sudden- 
ly appeal to him with a mysterious force — the 
pathetic glance of childish eyes, or an old face 
worn by toil and transfigured by some inner light 
of hopefulness ; or a woodland scene, tree-trunks 
rising amid a copse ; or the dark water of a sea- 
cave, lapping, translucent and gem-like, round 
rock ledges ; or a reedy pool, with the chimneys 
of an old house rising among the elms hard by ; 
in a moment the mood would come upon him, 
and he would feel that a door had been opened 
for his spirit into a place of sweet imaginings, 
of wistful peace, bringing to him a hope of 
something that might assuredly be, some deep 
haven of God where the soul might float upon 
a golden tide. One day, for instance, two old 
line-engravings of Italian pictures which he had 
inherited, and which hung in his little library, 
gave him this sense ; he had known them ever 



346 Beside Still Waters 

since he was a child, and they had never spoken 
to him before. Had they hung all these years 
patiently waiting for that moment ? One was 
Tlte Betrothal of the Virgin, by Raphael, 
where the old bearded priest in his tiara, with 
his robes girt precisely about him, casts an in- 
quiring look on the pair, as Joseph, a worn, 
majestic figure, puts the ring on the Virgin's 
finger. Some of it was hard and formal enough ; 
the flowers on Joseph's rod might have been 
made of china; the slim figure of the disapr 
pointed suitor, breaking his staff, had an unpleas- 
ing trimness ; and the companions of the Virgin 
were models of feeble serenity. But the great 
new octagonal temple in the background, — an 
empty place it seemed — for the open doors 
gave a glimpse of shadowy ranges — the shallow 
steps, the stone volutes, the low hills behind, 
with the towered villa — even the beggars beg- 
ging of the richly dressed persons on the new- 
laid pavement — all these had a sudden appeal 
for him. 

The other picture was the Communion of 
Jerome, by Domenichino — a stiff, conven- 
tional design enough. The cherubs hanging 
in air might have been made of wax or even 
metal — there was no aerial quality about them — 
they cumbered the place ! But the wistful look 
of the old worn saint, kneeling so faintly, so 



Secrets of Art 347 

wearily, the pure lines of the shrine, the wax- 
lights, the stiff robes of the priest, the open 
arch showing an odd, clustered, castellated 
house, rising on its steep rocks among dark 
brushwood, with a glimmering pool below, and 
mysterious persons drawing near — it all had a 
tyrannical effect on Hugh's mind. Probably a 
conventional critic would have spoken approv- 
ingly of the Raphael and disdainfully enough 
of the Domenichino — but the point to Hugh 
was not in the art revealed, but in the associa- 
tion, the remoteness, the suggestiveness of the 
pictures. The faults of each were patent to 
him ; but something in that moment shone 
through ; one looked through a half-open door, 
and saw some beautiful mystery being cele- 
brated within, something that one could not 
explain or analyse, but which was none the less 
certainly there. 

Thus art became to Hugh, like nature, an 
echoing world that lay all about him, which 
could suddenly become all alive with constrain- 
ing desire and joy. There was a scientific ap- 
prehension of both nature and art possible, no 
doubt. The very science that lay behind art 
had a suggestiveness of its own ; that again 
had its own times for appeal. But Hugh felt 
that here again he must realise his limitations, 
and that life, to be real, must be a constant re- 



348 Beside Still Waters 

sisting of diffuse wanderings in knowledge and 
perception. That his own medium was the 
medium of words, and that his task was to 
discern their colour and weight, their signifi- 
cance, whether alone or in combination ; that 
he must be able to upraise the jointed fabric of 
thought, like a framework of slim rods of firm 
metal, not meant to be seen or even realised by 
the reader, but which, when draped with the 
rich tapestry of words, would lend shape and 
strong coherence to the whole. All other art 
must simply minister light and fragrance ; it 
might be studied, indeed, but easily and super- 
ficially ; not that it would not be better, per- 
haps, if he could have approached other arts 
with penetrating insight ; but that he felt that 
for himself, with his limitations, his feebleness, 
his faltering grasp, nothing must come between 
him and his literary preoccupation. The other 
arts might feed his soul indeed, but he could 
not serve them. He found that he took great 
delight, and was always at ease, in the company 
of musicians and painters, because he could 
understand and interpret their point of view, 
their attitude of mind ; while, on the other hand, 
he could approach them with the humility, the 
perceptive humility, which the artist desires as 
an atmosphere ; he did not know enough about 
the technical points to controvert and differ, 



Secrets of Art 349 

while he knew enough to feel inspired by the 
tense feeling of secrets, understood and prac- 
tised, which were yet hidden from ordinary 
eyes. Art, then, and music became for Hugh 
as a sweet and remote illustration of his own 
consecration — and indeed there were moments 
when, wearied by his own strenuous toil, plough- 
ing sadly through the dreary sands of labour, 
that must close at intervals round the feet of 
the serious craftsman, the sight of a picture 
hanging perhaps in a room full of cheerful com- 
pany, or the sound of music — a few bars rippling 
from an open window, or stealing in faint gusts 
from the buttressed window of a church lighted 
for even song — came to him like a sacred cup, 
carried in the hovering hands of a ministering 
angel, revealing to him the delicate hidden joy 
of beauty of which he had almost lost sight in 
his painful hurrying to some appointed end. 
Hinc lucent et pocula sacra, said the old motto 
of Cambridge. The light was clear enough, 
and led him forward, as it led the pilgrim of old, 
shining across a very wide field. But the holy 
refreshment that was tendered him upon the 
way, this was the blessed gift of those other 
arts which he dared not to follow, but which 
he knew held within themselves secrets as dear 
as the art which in his loneliness he pursued. 



XXXV 

Hugh had found himself one evening in the 
Combination-room of his college, in a little 
group of Dons who were discussing with great 
subtlety and ardour the question of retaining 
Greek in the entrance examinations of the uni- 
versity. It seemed to Hugh that the argu- 
ments employed must be identical with those 
that might formerly have been used to justify 
the retention of Hebrew in the curriculum 
— the advisability of making acquaintance at 
first hand with a noble literature, the mental 
discipline to be obtained ; " Greek has such a 
noble grammar ! " said one of these enthusiasts. 
Hugh grew a little nettled at the tone of the 
discussion. The defenders of Greek seemed 
to be so impervious to facts which told against 
them. They erected their theories, like um- 
brellas, over their heads, and experience pat- 
tered harmlessly on the top. Hugh advanced 
his own case as an instance of the failure, of 
the melancholy results of a classical curriculum. 
It was deplorable, he said, that he should have 
350 



Artistic Susceptibility 351 

realised, as he did when he left the university, 
that his real education had then to begin. He 
had found himself totally ignorant of modern 
languages and modern history, of science, and 
indeed of all the ideas with which the modern 
world was teeming. The chief defender of 
Greek told him blithely that he was indulging 
the utilitarian heresy; that the object of his 
education had been to harden and perfect his 
mind, so as to make it an instrument capable 
of subtle appreciation and ardent self-improve- 
ment. When Hugh pleaded the case of the 
immense numbers of boys who, after they had 
been similarly perfected and hardened, had 
been left, not only ignorant of what they 
had been supposed to be acquiring, but with- 
out the slightest interest in or appreciation of 
intellectual or artistic ideas at all, he was told 
that, bad as their case was, it would have been 
still worse if they had not been subjected to 
the refining process. Hugh, contrary to his 
wont, indulged in a somewhat vehement tirade 
against the neglect of the appreciative and 
artistic faculties in the case of the victims of 
a classical education. He maintained that the 
theory of mental discipline was a false one 
altogether, and that boys ought to be prepared 
on the one hand for practical life, and on the 
other initiated into mental culture. He com- 



352 Beside Still Waters 

pared the mental condition of a robust English 
boy, his sturdy disbelief in intellectual things, 
with the case of a young Athenian, who was, if 
we could trust Plato, naturally and sponta- 
neously interested in thoughts and ideas, sensi- 
tive to beautiful impressions, delicate, subtle, 
intelligent, and not less bodily active. He went 
on to carry the war into the enemy's country, 
and to attack the theory of mental discipline 
altogether, which he maintained was the same 
thing as to train agricultural labourers in high- 
jumping and sprinting, or like trying to put a 
razor-edge on a hoe. What he said was neg- 
lected altogether was the cultivation of artistic 
susceptibility. In nature, in art, in literature, 
he maintained, lay an immense possibility of 
refined and simple pleasure, which was never 
cultivated at all. The mental discipline, he 
argued, which average boys received, was 
doubly futile, because it neither equipped them 
for practical life nor opened to them any vista 
of intellectual or artistic pleasure. What he 
himself desired to do was, on the one hand, to 
equip boys for practical life, and on the other 
to initiate them into the possibilities of in- 
tellectual recreation. The ordinary boy, he 
thought, was turned out with a profound dis- 
belief in intellectual things, and a no less 
profound belief in games as the only source of 



Artistic Susceptibility 353 

rational pleasure. His own belief was that a 
great many English boys had the germs of 
simple artistic pleasures dormant in their 
spirits, and that they might be encouraged to 
believe in books, in art, in music, as sources of 
tranquil enjoyment, instead of regarding them 
as slightly unwholesome and affected tastes. 
He was aware that his views were being 
regarded as dangerously heterodox, and as 
tainted indeed with a kind of aesthetic languor. 
He felt that he was appearing to pose as the 
champion, not only of an unpopular cause, but 
of an essentially effeminate system. His oppon- 
ents were certainly not effeminate ; but they 
were masculine only in the sense in which the 
soldier is masculine, in his sturdy contempt for 
the arts of peace ; whereas to Hugh the soldier 
was only an inevitable excrescence on the com- 
munity, a disagreeable necessity which would 
disappear in the light of a rational and humane 
civilisation. 

A young Don, a friend of Hugh's,' who had 
taken part in the discussion, a few days after, 
in the course of a walk, attacked Hugh on the 
subject. Hugh was aware that he defended 
himself very indifferently at the time ; but 
some remarks of his friend, who was a brisk 
and practical young man with a caustic wit, 
rankled in Hugh's mind. His friend had said 



354 Beside Still Waters 

that the danger of Hugh's scheme was that it 
tended to produce people of the Maudle and 
Postlethwaite type, who made life into a mere 
pursuit of artistic impressions and sensations, 
" The fact is, Neville," he said, " that you up- 
held Epicureanism pure and simple ; or, if you 
dislike the word because of its associations, 
you taught a mere Neo-Cyrenaicism. You may 
say that the kind of pleasure you defended is a 
refined and intellectual sort of pleasure, but for 
all that it tends to produce men who withdraw 
from practical life into a mild hedonism ; you 
would develop a coterie of amiable, secluded 
persons, fastidious and delicate, indififerent citi- 
zens, individualistic and self-absorbed ; the train- 
ing of character retires into the background ; 
and the meal that you press upon us is a meal 
of exquisite sauces, but without meat. Fortu- 
nately," his friend added, " the necessity of 
earning a living keeps most people from drifting 
into a life of this kind. It is only consistent 
with comfortable private means." 

These phrases stuck in Hugh's memory with 
a painful insistence. He felt as if he had been 
rolled among thorns. He determined to think 
the matter carefully out. Was he himself drift- 
ing into a species of mystical hedonism ? It was 
very far from his purpose to do that. He de- 
termined that he would prepare a litfle apologia 



An Apologia , 355 

on the subject, to send to his friend ; and this 
was what he eventually despatched : 

" Your conversation with me the other day gave 
me a good deal to think about. What you said 
practically amounted to a charge of hedonism. 
Of course much depends upon the way in which 
the word is applied, because I suppose that the 
large majority of men are hedonists, in the sense 
that they pursue as far as possible their own 
pleasure. But the particular kind of hedonism 
of which you spoke. Epicureanism, bears the 
sense of a certain degree of malingering. It im- 
plies that the person who pursues the course 
which I indicated is for some reason or other 
shirking his duty in the world. It is against 
this that I wish to defend myself ; T would say 
in the first place that what I was recommending 
was a very different sort of thing. I was rather 
attacking a certain sheepishness of character 
which seems to me to be the danger of our present 
education. The practical ideal held up before 
boys at our public schools is that they should be 
virtuous and industrious ; and that after they 
have satisfied both these claims, they should amuse 
themselves in what is held to be a manly way; 
they should fill their vacant hours with open-air 
exercise and talk about games ; a little light 
reading is not objected to ; but it is tacitly 



356 Beside Still Waters 

assumed that to be interested in ideas, in litera- 
ture, art, and music is rather a dilettante 
business. I was reminded of a m,etnorable conver- 
sation I once had with a m,an of some note, a 
great landowner and prominent politician. He 
was talking confidentially to me about his sons 
and their professions. One of the boys mani- 
fested a really remarkable artistic gift ; he was 
a draughtsman of extraordinary skill, and I said 
something about his taking up art seriously. The 
great man said that it would never do. ' I con- 
sider it almost a misfortune, ' he added, ' that 
the boy is so clever an artist, because it would 
be out of the question for him, in his position, to 
take up what is, after all, rather a disreputable 
profession. I have talked to him. seriously about 
it, and I have said that there is no harm in his 
amusing himself in that way ; but he must have 
a serious occupation' 

" That is a very fair instance of the way in 
which the pursuit of art is regarded among our 
solid classes — as distinctly a trade for an adven- 
turer. It will be a long time before we alter 
that. But the truth is that this kind of conven- 
tionalism, is what makes us so stupid a nation. 
We have no sort of taste for simplicity in life. 
A man who lived in a cottage, occupied in quiet 
and intellectual pursuits, would be held to be a 
failure, even if he lived in innocent happiness 



An Educative Process 357 

to the age of eighty. My own firm belief is that 
this is all wrong. It opens up all sorts of obscure 
aud bewildering questions as to why we are sent 
into the world at all ; but my idea is that we 
are meant to be happy if we can, and that a 
great many people miss happiness, because they 
have not the courage to pursue it in tfpeir own 
way, I cannot believe myself that the compli- 
cated creature, so frail of frame, so limitless in 
dreams and hopes, is the result of a vortex. I 
cannot believe that we can be created except by 
a power that in a certain degree resembles our- 
selves. If we fiave remote dreams of love and 
liberty, of justice and truth, I believe that those 
ideas must exist in a sublime degree in the mind 
of our Maker. I believe, on the whole, though 
there are many difficulties in the way of the 
theory, that life is meant for most of us to be an 
educative process ; that we are m-eant to quit the 
world wiser, nobler, more patient than we en- 
tered it ; why the whole business is so intolerably 
slow, why we are so hampered by traditions and 
instincts that retard the process, T cannot con- 
ceive ; but vny belief is that we must as far as 
possible choose a course which leads us in the 
direction of the thoughts that we conceive to be 
noble and true. We may make mistakes, we 
may wander sadly from, the way, but I believe 
that it is our duty, our best hope, to try and 



358 Beside Still Waters 

perceive what it is that God is trying to teach 
us. Now, our choice must be to a great extent 
a matter of temperament. Some men like work, 
activity, influence, relations with others. Well, 
if they sincerely believe that they are meant to 
pursue these things, it is their duty to do so. 
Others, like myself, seem to be gifted with a 
sensitiveness of perception, and appreciation of 
beauty in m.any forms. I cannot believe that 
such an organisation is given me fortuitously, 
and that I am merely meant to suppress it. Of 
course thf same argument could be used sophis- 
tically by a man with strong sensual passions 
and appetites, who could similarly urge that he 
must be intended to gratify them. But such 
gratification leads both to personal disaster and 
to the increase of unhappiness in the race. Such 
instincts as T recognise in m.yself seem to me to 
do neither, I believe that poets, artists, and 
musicians, to say nothing of religious teachers, 
have effected almost m.ore for the welfare of the 
race than statesmen, patriots, and philanthrop- 
ists. Of course the necessary work of the world 
has got to be done ; but my own belief is that a 
good deal more than is necessary, is done, because 
people pursue luxury rather than simplicity. I 
recognise to the full the duty of work ; but, to be 
quite honest, I think that a serious tnan who will 
preach simplicity, dissevtinate ideas, suggest pos- 



Criticism of Life 359 

sibilities of intellectual and artistic pleasure, can 
do a very real work. Such a man must be dis- 
interested ; he must not desire fame or influence ; 
he must be content if he can sow the seeds of 
beauty in a few minds. 

" Now the Maudle and Postlethwaite school 
are not concerned with anything of the kind. 
They merely desire to make a sort of brightly 
polished mirror of their minds, capable of re- 
flecting all sorts of beautiful effects, and this is 
an essentially effeminate thing to do, because it 
exalts the appreciation of sensation above all 
other aims ; that is the pursuit of artistic lux- 
ury, and it is, as you say, quite inconsistent with 
good citizenship. I have no admiration for the 
citizenship the end of which is to make a com- 
fortable corner for one's self at the expense of oth- 
ers ; T do not at all believe that every man of 
ideals is bound to take a part in the administra- 
tion of the comm,unity. We can easily have too 
many advtinistrators ; and that ends in the dis- 
mal slough of municipal politics. After all, we 
must nowadays all be specialists, and a m,an 
has as much right to specialise in beauty as he 
has to specialise in Greek Grammar. In fact a 
specialist in Greek Grammar has as his ulti- 
m.ate view the clearer and nicer appreciation of 
the shades of Greek expression, and is merely 
serving a high ideal of mental refinement. It 



360 Beside Still Waters 

seems to me purely conventional to accept as val- 
uable the work of a commentator on Sophocles, 
because it is traditionally respectable, and to say 
that a commentator on sunsets, as I once heard 
a poet described, is an effeminate dilettante. It 
is the motive that matters. Personally, I think 
that a man who has drifted into writing a 
commentary on Sophocles, because he happens to 
find that he can earn a living that way, is no 
more worthy of admiration than a man who 
earns his living by billiard-marking. Neither 
are necessary to the world. But the commentator 
and the billiard-marker are alike admirable, if 
they are working out a theory, if they think 
that thus and thus they can best help on the pro- 
gress of the world. 

" My own desire is, so to speak, to be a commen- 
tator on life, in one particular aspect. T think 
the world would be all the better if there were a 
finer appreciation of what is noble and beautiful, 
a deeper discrimination of motives, a larger 
speculation as to the methods and objects 
of our pilgrimage. I think the coarseness of the 
intellectual and spiritual palate that prevails 
widely nowadays is not only a misfortune, I 
think it is of the nature of sin. If people could 
live more in the generous visions of poets, if they 
could be taught to see beauty in trees and fields 
and buildings, I think they would be happier and 



A Theory of Life 361 

better. Most people are obliged to spend the solid 
hours of the day in necessary work. The more 
sordid that work is, the more advisable it is to 
cultivate a^ perception of the quality of things. 
Every one has hours of recreation in every 
day ; the more such hours are filled with pleasant, 
simple, hopeful, beautiful thoughts, the better 
for us all. 

" Of course I may be quite wrong ; I may 
be meant to find out my mistake ; but I seem to 
discern in the teaching of Christ a desire to 
make men see the true values of life, to appreciate 
what is beautiful and tender in simple lives 
and homely relationships. The teaching of Christ 
seems to me to be uniquely and essentially poeti- 
cal, and to point to the fact that the uplifting of 
the human heart in admiration, hope, and love, 
is the cure for some, at least, of our manifold 
ills. That is my own theory of life, and I do 
not see that it is effeminate, or e;ven unpracti- 
cal ; and it is a mere caricature of it to call 
it Epicurean. What does complicate life is the 
feeble acceptance of conventional views, the 
doing of things, not because one hopes for 
happiness out of them, not even because one 
likes them, but because one sees other people doing 
them. Even in the most sheltered existence, like 
my own, there are plenty of things which provide 
a bracing tonic against self-satisfaction. There 



362 Beside Still Waters 

are the criticism and disapproval of others, con- 
tempt, hostility ; there are illness, and sorrow, 
and the fear of death. No otte of a sensitive 
nature can hope to live an untroubled life ; but 
to court unhappiness for the sake of its tonic 
qualities seems to me no more reasonable than to 
refuse an ancesthetic on the ground that it is 
interfering with natural processes. 

" / don't know that I expect to convert you ; 
but at least I am glad to make my position 
clear. I don't assume that I am in the right. 
T only know, that I am trying to do what ap- 
pears to me to be right, trying to simplify 
the issues of life, to unravel the tangle in 
which so many people seem to me to acquiesce 
helplessly and timidly" 



XXXVI 

There were days, of course, when Hugh's 
reflections took an irrepressibly optimistic turn. 
Such was a bright day in the late summer, when 
the sun shone with a temperate clearness, and 
big white clouds, like fragments torn from some 
serial pack of cotton-wool, moved blithely in 
the sky. Hugh rode — he was staying at his 
mother's house — to a little village perched a- 
stride on a great ridge. He diverged from the 
road to visit the ancient church, built of mas- 
sive stone and roofed with big stone-tiles ; up 
there, swept by strong winds, splashed by fierce 
rains, it has grown to look like a crag rather 
than a building. By the side of it ran a little, 
steep, narrow lane, which he had never ex- 
plored ; he rode cautiously down the stony track, 
among thick hazel copses ; occasionally, through 
a gap, he had a view of a great valley, all wild 
with wood ; once or twice he passed a timbered 
farmhouse, with tall brick chimneys. The coun. 
try round about was much invaded by new 
pert houses, but there were none here ; and 
363 



364 Beside Still Waters 

Hugh supposed that this road, which seemed 
the only track into the valley, was of so forbid- 
ding^ steepness that it had not occurred to any 
one to settle there. The road became more 
and more precipitous, and at the very bottom, 
having descended nearly three hundred feet, 
Hugh found himself in a very beautiful place. 
He thought he had never seen anything more 
sweetly, more characteristically English. On 
one side was a rough field, encircled by forest 
on all sides ; here stood some old wooden sheds 
and byres ; and one or two green rides passed 
glimmering into the thick copse, with a charm- 
ing air of mystery, as though they led to 
some sequestered woodland paradise. To the 
Tight was a mill, with a great pond thick with 
bulrushes and water-lilies, full of water-birds, 
coots, and moor-hens, which swam about, utter- 
ing plaintive cries. The mill was of wood, the 
planks warped and weather-stained, the tiled 
roof covered with mosses ; the mill-house itself 
was a quaint brick building, with a pretty 
garden, full of old-fashioned flowers, sloping 
down to the pool ; a big flight of pigeons cir- 
cled round and round in the breeze, turning 
with a sudden clatter of wings ; behind the 
house were small sand-stone bluffs, fringed with 
feathery ashes, and the wood ran up steeply 
above into the sky. It looked like an old steel- 



The Mill 365 

engraving, like a picture by Morland or Con- 
stable. The blue smoke went up from the 
chimneys in that sheltered nook, rising straight 
into the air, lending a rich colour to the trees 
behind. Hugh thought it would be a beautiful 
place to live in, so remote from the world, in 
that still valley, where the only sound was the 
wind of the copses, the trickle of the mill-leat, 
and the slow thunder of the dripping wheel 
within. Yet he supposed that the simple peo- 
ple who lived there were probably unconscious 
of its beauty, and only aware that the roads 
which led to the spot were inconveniently steep. 
Still, it was hard to think that the charm of the 
place would not pass insensibly into the hearts, 
perhaps even into the faces, of the dwellers 
there. 

He stood for a little to see the bright water 
leaping clear and fresh from the sluice. There 
was a delicious scent of cool river-plants every- 
where. It was hard not to think that the stream, 
bickering out in the sun from the still pool, had 
a sense of joy and delight. It was passing, 
passing; Hugh could trace in thought every 
mile of the way ; down the wooded valley it 
was bound, running over the brown gravel, by 
shady wood-ends and pasture sides ; then it 
would pass out into the plain, and run, a full 
and brimming stream, between sandy banks, 



366 Beside Still Waters 

half hidden by the thick, glossy-leaved alders. 
Hugh knew the broad water-meadows down 
below, with the low hills on either side> where 
big water-plants grew in marshy places, and 
where the cattle moved slowly about through 
the still hours. Soon the stream would be run- 
ning by the great downs — it was a river now, 
bearing boats upon it — till it passed by the 
wharves and beneath the bridges of the little 
town, and out into the great sea-flat, meeting, 
with how strange a wonder, the upward-creeping 
briny tide, with its sharp savours and its whole, 
some smell ; till it flowed at last by the docks, 
where the big steamers lay unlading, blowing 
their loud sea-horns, past weed-fringed piers 
and shingly beaches, until it was mingled with 
the moving deep, where the waves ran higher 
on the blue sea-line, and the great buoy rolled 
and dipped above the shoal. 

And then, perhaps, it would be drawn up 
again in twisted wreaths of mist, rising in vapour 
beneath the breathless sun, to flock back, per- 
haps, in clouds over the earth, and begin its 
little pilgrimage again. 

Was the same true, he wondered, of himself, 
of everything about him ? Was it all a never- 
ending, and unwearying pilgrimage? Was 
death itself but the merging of the atom in the 
element, and then, perhaps, the race began 



The Stream's Pilgrimage 367 

again ? On such a day as this, of bright sun 
and eager air. it seemed sweet to think that it 
was even so. This soul-stuff, that one called 
one's self, wafted out of the unknown, strangely 
entangled with the bodily elements, would it 
perhaps mingle again with earthly conditions, 
borne round and round in an endless progres- 
sion ? Yet, if this was so, why did one seem, 
not part of the world, but a thing so wholly 
distinct and individual? To-day, indeed, Hugh 
seemed to be akin to the earth, and felt as 
though all that breathed or moved and lived 
had a brotherly, a sisterly greeting for him. As 
he moved slowly on up the steep road, a child 
playing by the wayside, encouraged perhaps by 
a loving brightness that rose from Hugh's 
heart into his face, nodded and smiled to him 
shyly. Hugh smiled back, and waved his 
hand. That childish smile came to him as a 
confirmation of his blithe mood ; there were 
others, then, bound on the same pilgrimage as 
himself, who wished him well, and shared his 
happiness. To pass thus smiling through the 
world, heedless as far as might be of weariness 
and sorrow, taking the simple joys that flowed so 
freely, if only one divested one's self of the hard 
and dull ambitions that made life into a struggle 
and a contest — that was, perhaps, the secret I 
There would be days, no doubt, of gloom and 



368 Beside Still Waters 

heaviness ; days when life would run, like the 
stream which he could hear murmuring below 
him, through dark coverts, dripping with rain ; 
days of frost, when nature was leafless and be- 
numbed, and when the rut was barred with icy 
spikes. But one could live in hope and faith, " 
waiting for the summer days, when life ran 
swift and bright, under a pale sunset sky till 
the streaks of crimson light died into a trans- 
parent green ; and the stream ran joyfully, 
under the stars, wondering what sweet un- 
familiar place might stand revealed, when the 
day climbed slowly in the east, and the dew 
globed itself upon the fresh grass, in the invig- 
orating sweetness, the cool fragrance of the 
dawn. 



XXXVII 

One hot cloudless day of summer, Hugh 
took a train, and, descending at a quiet wayside 
station, walked to a little place deep in the 
country, to see the remains of an ancient house 
which he was told had a great beauty. He 
found the place with some difficulty. The 
church, to which he first directed his steps, was 
very ancient and almost ruinous. It was evi- 
dently far too big for the needs of the little 
hamlet, and it was so poorly endowed that it was 
difficult to find any one who would take the liv- 
ing. A great avenue of chestnuts, with a grass- 
grown walk beneath, led up to the porch. He 
entered by a curious iron-bound door, under 
a Norman arch of very quaint workmanship. • 
The church was of different dates, and the very 
neglect which it suffered gave it an extreme 
picturesqueness. One of its fine features was a 
brick chapel, built at the east end of one of the 
aisles, where an old baron lay in state, in black 
armour, his eyes closed quietly, his pointed 
beard on his breast, his hands folded, as though 



370 Beside Still Waters 

he lay praying to himself. The heavy marble 
pillars of the shrine were carved with a stiff 
ornament of vine-leaves and grape-clusters, and 
the canopy rose pompously to the roof, with 
its cognisances and devices. There were many 
monuments in the church, on which Hugh 
read the history of the ancient family, now en- 
gulfed in a family more wealthy and ancient 
still ; the latest of the memorials was that of a 
lady, whose head, sculptured by Chantrey, with 
its odd puffs of hair, had a discreet and smiling 
mien, as of one who had known enough sorrow 
to purge prosperity of its grossness. From the 
churchyard there led a little path, which skirted 
a wide moat of dark water, full of innumerable 
fish, basking in the warmth ; in the centre of the 
moat stood a dark grove of trees, with a thick 
undergrowth. Suddenly, through an opening, 
Hugh saw the turrets of an ancient gatehouse, 
built of mellow brick, rising into the sunlight, 
with an astonishing sweetness and nobleness of 
air ; below was a lawn, bordered by yew-hedges, 
where a party of people, ladies in bright dresses 
and leisurely men, were sitting talking with a 
look of smiling content. It was more like a 
scene in a romance than a thing in real life. 
Hugh stood unobserved beneath a tree, and 
looked long at the delightful picture ; and then 
presently wandered further by a grassy lane. 



A Garden Scene 371 

with high hedges full of wild roses and elder- 
blooms, where the air had a hot, honied per- 
fume. He came in a moment to a great clear 
stream running silently between banks full 
of meadow-sweet and loosestrife. The turrets 
of the gate-house looked pleasantly over the 
trees of the little park that lay on the other side 
of the stream. The air was still but fresh. The 
trees stood silent, with the metallic look of high 
summer upon their stiff leaves, as though seen 
in a picture. The whole landscape seemed to 
have a consecration of quiet joy and peace over 
it. It seemed a place made for the walks of 
rustic lovers, on summer evenings, under a low- 
hung moon. The whole scene, the homely 
bridge, the murmur of the water in the pool, 
the blossoming hedges, had a sense of delicate 
romance about it. It seemed to stand for so 
much happiness, and to draw Hugh into the 
charmed circle. 

The difificulty was somehow to believe that 
the place was in reality a centre of real and 
ordinary life; it seemed almost impossibly 
beautiful and delicious to Hugh, like a play en- 
acted for his sole benefit, a sweet tale told. 
Those gracious persons in the garden seemed 
like people in a scene out of Boccaccio, whose 
past and whose future are alike veiled and un- 
known and who just emerge, in the light of art, 



372 Beside Still Waters 

as a sweet company seen for an instant, and yet 
somehow eternally there. But the thought 
that they were persons like himself, with cares, 
schemes, anxieties, appeared inconceivable; 
that was one of the curious illusions of life, that 
the world through which one moved seemed to 
group itself for one's delight into a pleasant 
vision, which had no concern for one's self ex- 
cept to brighten and enhance the warm sunlit 
day with an indescribable grace and beauty. 
How. hard to think that it was all changing and 
shifting, even while one gazed ! that the clear 
water, lapsing through the sluice, was passing 
onwards, and could never again be at that one 
sweet point of its seaward course; that the 
roses were fading and dying beside him ; that 
the pleasant group on the lawn must soon break 
up, never perhaps to reassemble. If one could 
but arrest the quiet flow of things for a moment, 
suspend it for a period, however brief ! That 
was after all the joy of art, that it caught such 
a moment as that, while the smiling faces 
turned to each other, while the sun lay warm 
on the brickwork, and made it immortal ! 

There came into Hugh's mind the thought 
that this deep thirst for peace might somehow 
yet be satisfied. How could he otherwise con- 
ceive of it, how could he dream so clearly of it, 
if it were not actually there ? He thought that 



A Vision 373 

there must be a region where the pulse of time 
should cease to beat, where there should be no 
restless looking backwards and forwards, but 
where the spirit should brood in an unend- 
ing joy; but now, the world thrust one for- 
ward, impatient, unsatisfied ; even as he gazed, 
the shadows had shifted and lengthened, and 
the thought of the world, that called him 
back to care and anxiety, began to over- 
shadoAy him. Was it a phantom that mocked 
him ? or was it not rather a type, an allegory of 
something unchanged and unchangeable, that 
waited for him beyond ? And then in that 
still afternoon, there came to him a sense 
that occasionally visited him, and that seemed, 
when it came, the truest and best thing 
in the world, the vision of an unseen Friend, 
to Whom he was infinitely dear, closer to 
Him even than to himself. Who surrounded 
and eriveloped him with care and concern 
and love ; Who brought him tenderly into 
the fair green places of the earth, such as he 
had visited to-day, whispered to him the secret 
of it all, and only did not reveal it in its 
fulness because the time for him to know 
it was not yet, and because the very delay 
arose from some depth of unimaginable, love. 
In such a mood as this, Hugh felt that he could 
wait in utter confidence; that he could drink. 



374 Beside Still Waters 

in with glad eyes and ears the beautiful and 
delicate things that were shown to him, the 
rich, luxuriant foliage, the dim sun-warmed 
stream, the silent trees, the old towers. There 
seemed to him nothing that he could not 
bear, nothing that he could not gladly do, 
when so tender a hand was leading him. He 
knew indeed that he would again be impa- 
tient, restless, wilful ; but for the moment it 
was as though he had tasted of some mys- 
terious sacrament ; that the wine of some holy 
cup had been put to his lips ; that he knew 
that he was not alone, but in the very heart 
of a wise and patient God. 



XXXVIII 

It was in the later weeks of a hot, still mid- 
summer that Hugh escaped from Cambridge to 
the Lakes. He did not realise, until he found 
himself driving in the cool of the evening be- 
side Windermere, how parched and dry his very 
mind had become in the long heats of the sun- 
dried flats. Sometimes the road wound down 
to the very edge of the water, lapping deliciously 
among the stones; sometimes it skirted the 
pleasances of a cool sheltered villa which lay 
embowered in trees, blinking contentedly across 
the lake. The sight of the great green hills 
with their skirts clothed with wood, with trees 
straggling upwards along the water-courses, the 
miniature crags escaping from oak-coppices, the 
black heads of bleak mountains, filled him with 
an exquisite and speechless delight. 

It was sunset before he reached his destina- 
tion, which was a large house of rough stone, 
much festooned with creepers, which crowned a 
little height at the base of the fells, in the cen- 
tre of a wild wood. The house was that of a 
very old man, hard on his ninetieth year, a 
375 



376 Beside Still Waters 

relative of Hugh's, and an old friend of his 
family. There was a short cut to the house 
among the woods, and Hugh left the carriage to 
go round by the drive, while he himself walked 
up. The path was a little track among copses, 
roofed over by interlacing boughs, and giving an 
abundance of pretty glimpses to right and left 
of the unvisited places of the wood ; old brown 
boulders covered with moss, with ash-suckers 
shooting out among the stones, little streams 
rippling downwards, small green lawns fringed 
with low trees. The western valley was full of 
a rich golden light, and the wooded ridges rose 
quietly one after another, with the dark solemn 
form of mountains on the horizon. A few dap- 
pled clouds, fringed with fire, floated high in 
the green sky. It all seemed to him to be 
screening some sacred and mysterious pageant, 
which was, as it were, being celebrated out in 
the west, where the orange sunset lay dying. 
He thought of the lonely valleys among the 
hills, slowing filling with twilight gloom, the high 
ridges from which one could discern the sun 
sinking in glory over the far-spread flashing sea 
with its misty rim. The house loomed up 
suddenly over the thickets, with a light or two 
burning in the windows which pierced the thick 
wall. 

Within, all was as it had been for many a year; 



Tranquil Life 377 

it was a house in which everything seemed 
to stand still, the day passing smoothly in a 
simple and pleasant routine. He received a 
very kindly and gentle welcome from his host, 
and was pleased to find that the party was of 
the quietest — an old friend or two, a widowed 
daughter of the house, one or two youthful 
cousins. Hugh slipped into his place in the 
household as if he had never been absent ; he 
established his books in a corner of the dark 
library ful of old volumes. It was always a 
pleasure to him to see his host, a courtly, silent 
old man, with snow-white hair and beard, who 
sat smiling, eating so little that Hugh wonder- 
ed how he sustained life, reading for an hour 
or two, walking a little about the garden, sitting 
long in contented meditation, never seeming to 
be weary or melancholy. Hugh remembered 
that, some years before, he had wondered that 
any one could live so, neither looking back- 
wards nor forwards, with no designs or cares or 
purposes, simply taking each day as it came 
with a perfect tranquillity, not overshadowed 
by the thought of how few years of life were 
left him. But now he seemed to understand it 
better; it was just the soft close of a kindly 
and innocent life, dying like a tree or a flower- 
The old man liked to have Hugh as the com- 
panion of his morning ramble, showed him 



378 Beside Still Waters 

many curious plants and flowers, and spoke 
often of the reminiscences of his departed youth 
with no shadow of desire or regret. At first 
the grateful coolness of the place revived Hugh ; 
but the soft, moist climate brought with it a 
fatigue of its own, an indolent dejection, which 
made him averse to work and even to bodily 
activity. He took, however, one or two lonely 
walks among the mountains. In his listless 
mood, he was vexed and disquieted by the 
contrast between the utter peace and beauty of 
the hills, which seemed to uplift themselves, 
half in majesty and half in appeal, into the still 
sky, as though they had struggled out of the 
world, and yet desired a further blessing, — the 
contrast between their meek and rugged pa^ 
tience and the noisy, dusty crowd of shameless 
and indifferent tourists, that circulated among 
the green valleys, like a poisonous fluid in the 
veins of the wholesome mountains. They 
brought a kind of a blight upon the place ; and 
yet they were harmless, inquisitive people, 
tempted thither, most of them by fashion, a 
few perhaps by a feeble love of beauty, and 
only desirous to bring their own standard of 
comforts with them. The world seemed out 
of joint ; the radical ugliness and baseness of 
man an insult to the purity and sweetness of 
nature. 



On the Fell 379 

Hugh walked back, in a close and heavy after- 
noon, across the fell, with these thoughts strug- 
gling together in his heart. The valley was 
breathlessly still, and the flies buzzed round him 
as he disturbed them from the bracken. The 
whole world looked so sweet and noble, that it 
was impossible not to think that it was moulded 
and designed by a Will of unutterable gracious- 
ness and beauty. From the top, beside a little 
crag full of clinging trees, that held on tena- 
ciously to the crevices and ledges, with so per- 
fect an accommodation to their precarious sit- 
uation, Hugh surveyed the wide valleys, and 
saw the smoke ascend from hamlets and houses, 
the lake as still as a mirror, while the shadows 
lengthened on the hills, which seemed indeed to 
change their very shapes by delicate gradations. 
It looked perfectly peaceful and serene. Yet 
in how many houses were there unquiet and suf- 
fering hearts, waiting in vain for respite or re- 
lease ! The pain of the world pressed heavily 
upon Hugh ; it seemed that if he could have 
breathed out his life there upon the hill-top 
among the fern, to mingle with the incense of 
the evening, that would be best ; and yet even 
while he thought it, there seemed to contend 
with his sadness an immense desire for joy, for 
life ; how many beautiful things there were to 
see, to hear, to feel, to say ; to be loved, to be 



38o Beside Still Waters 

needed — how Hugh craved for that ! While 
he sat, therq alighted on his knee, with much 
deliberation, a dry, varnished-looking, orange- 
banded fly, which might have almost been 
turned out of a manufactory a moment before. 
It sent out a thin and musical buzzing, as it 
cleaned its brown large-eyed head industriously 
with its long legs. It seemed to wish to sit 
with Hugh ; and again and again, after a short 
flight, it returned to the same place. What was 
the meaning of this tiny, definite life, with its 
short space of sun and shade, made with so 
curious and elaborate an art, so whimsically 
adorned and glorified? Here again he was 
touched close by the impenetrable mystery of 
things. But presently the cheerful and com- 
placent creature flew off on some secret errand, 
and Hugh was left alone again. 

He descended swiftly into the valley; the 
road was full of dust. The vehicles, full of 
chattering, smoking, vacuous persons were 
speeding home. The hands of many were full 
of poor fading flowers, torn from lawn and ledge 
to please a momentary whim. Yet beside the 
road slid the clear stream over its shingle, pass- 
ing from brisk cascades into dark and silent 
pools, fringed with rich water-plants, the trees 
bowing over the water. How swiftly one 
passed from disgust and ugliness into unimag- 



Peace 381 

ined peace! It was all going forwards, all 
changing, all tending to some unknown goal. 

Hugh found his host sitting on the terrace, 
under a leafy sycamore, a perfect picture of l}oly 
age and serenity. He listened to the recital of 
Hugh's little adventures with a smile, and said 
that he had often walked over the fell in the old 
days, but did not suppose he would ever see it 
again. " I am just waiting for my release," he 
said, with a little nod of his head ; " every time 
that I sit here, I think it may very likely be 
the last." Hugh longed to ask him the secret 
of this contented and passionless peace, but he 
knew there could be no answer; it was the 
kindly gift of God. 

The sunset died away among the blue hill- 
ranges, and a soft breeze began to stir among 
the leaves of the sycamore overhead. A night- 
jar sent out its liquid, reiterated note from the 
heather, and a star climbed above the edge of 
the dark hill. Here was peace enough, if he 
could but reach it and seize it. Yet it softly 
eluded his grasp, and seemed only to mock him 
as unattainable. Should he ever seize it? 
There was no answer possible ; yet a message 
seemed to come wistfully and timidly, flying 
like a night-bird out of the wild woodland, as 
though it would have settled near him ; but it 
left him with the same inextinguishable hunger 



382 Beside Still Waters 

of the heart, that seemed to be increased rather 
than fed by the fragrant incense of the garden, 
the sight of the cool, glimmering paths, the pale 
rock rising from the turf, the silent pool. 



XXXIX 

Hugh was staying in the country with his 
mother. It was a bright morning in the late 
summer, and he had just walked out on to 
the little gravel-sweep before the house, which 
commanded a view of a pleasant wooded valley 
with a stream runiling through ; it was one of 
those fresh days, with a light breeze rustling 
the trees, when it seemed good to be alive ; 
rain had fallen in the night, and had washed 
the dust of a long drought off the trees ; some 
soft aerial pigment seemed mingled with the air, 
lending a rich lustre to everything ; the small 
woods on the hillside opposite had a mellow 
colour, and the pastures between were of radi- 
ant and transparent freshness ; the little gusts 
whirled over the woodland, turning the under 
sides of the leaves up, and brightening the 
whole with a dash of lighter green. 

Just at this moment a telegram was put into 

Hugh's hand, announcing the sudden death of 

an elderly lady, who had been a good friend to 

him for over twenty years. Death seemed to 

383 



384 Beside Still Waters 

be everywhere about him, and the bright scene 
suddenly assumed an almost heartless aspect of 
mirth ; Ijut he put the thought from him,, and 
strove rather to feel that life and death rejoice 
together. 

Later in the day he heard more particu- 
lars. His friend was a wealthy woman who 
had lived a very quiet life for many years 
in a pleasant country-house. She had often 
spoken to Hugh of her fear of a long and 
tedious illness, wearing alike to both the suf- 
ferer and those in attendance, when the mind 
may become fretful, fearful, and impatient in 
the last scene, just when one most desires 
that the latest memories of one's life may be 
cheerful, brave, and serene. Her prayer had 
been very tenderly answered ; she had been 
ailing of late ; but she had been sitting talking 
in her drawing-room the day before, to a quiet 
family group, when she had been seized with a 
sudden faintness, and had died gently, in a few 
minutes, smiling palely, and probably not even 
knowing that she was in any sort of danger. 

Hugh spent the day mostly in solitude, and 
retraced in tender thought the stages of their 
long friendship. His friend had been a woman 
of strong and marked individuality, who had 
loved life, and had made many loyal friends. 
She was intensely, almost morbidly, aware of 



A Friend 385 

the suffering of the world, especially of animals ; 
and Hugh remembered how she had once told 
him that a shooting-party in the neighbouring 
squire's woods had generally meant for her a 
sleepless night, at the thought of wounded 
birds and beasts suffering and bleeding the 
long hours through, couched in the fern, faint 
with pain, and wondering patiently what hard 
thing had befallen them. She had been a wo- 
man of strong preferences and prejudices, 
marked likes and dislikes ; intensely critical of 
others, even of those she loved best. Her 
talk was lively, epigrammatic, and pungent; 
she was the daughter of a famous Whig house, 
and had the strong aristocratical prejudices, 
coupled with a theoretical belief in popular 
equality, so often found in old Whig families. 
But this superiority betrayed itself not in any 
obvious arrogance or disdain, but in a high and 
distinguished personal courtesy, that penetrated 
as if by a subtle aroma all that she said or 
did. Though careless of personal appearance, 
with no grace of beauty, and wearing habitu- 
ally the oldest clothes, she was yet indisputably 
the first person in any society in which she 
found herself. She was intensely reserved 
about herself, her family, her possessions, and 
her past ; but Hugh had an inkling that there 
had been some deep disappointment in the 
23 



386 Beside Still Waters 

background, which had turned a passionately 
affectionate nature into a fastidious and critical 
temperament. She had a wonderful contralto 
voice, and a real genius for music ; she could 
rarely be persuaded to touch an instrument ; 
but occasionally, with a small and familiar party, 
she would sing a few old songs with a pas- 
sion and a depth of melancholy feeling that 
produced an almost physical thrill in her 
audiences. She was of an indolent tempera- 
ment, read little, never worked, had few phil- 
anthropic or social instincts ; she was always 
ready to talk, but was equally content to 
spend long afternoons sitting alone before a 
fire, just shielding her eyes from the blaze, 
meditating with an intentness that seemed 
as though she were revolving over and over 
again some particular memory, some old and 
sad problem for which she could find no 
solution. Hugh used to think that she blamed 
herself for something irreparable. 

But her gift of humour, of incisive penetra- 
tion, of serious enthusiasm, made it always re- 
freshing to be with her; and Hugh found himself 
reflecting that though it had been in many ways 
so inarticulate and inactive a life, it yet seemed, 
by virtue of a certain vivid quality, a certain 
subdued fire, a life of imperishable worth. She 
had been both generous and severe in her 



The Gate of Life 387 

judgments ; but there had never been anything 
tame or mild or weak about her. She had al- 
ways known her own mind ; she yielded freely 
to impulse without ever expressing regret or re- 
pentance. Small as her circle had been, Hugh 
yet felt that she had somehow affected the 
world ; and yet he could indicate nothing that 
she had accomplished, except for the fact that 
she had been a kind of bracing influence in the 
lives of all who had come near her. 

Her last message to him had been an in- 
tensely sympathetic letter of outspoken en- 
couragement. She had heard that a severe 
judgment had been passed upon Hugh's writ- 
ings by a common friend. She knew that this 
had been repeated to Hugh, and judged rightly 
that it had hurt and wounded him. Her letter 
was to the effect that the judgment was entirely 
baseless, and that he was to pursue the line he* 
had taken up without any attempt to deviate 
from it. It went to Hugh's heart that he had 
made little effort of late, owing to circum- 
stances and pressure of work, to see her; but 
he knew that she was aware of his affection, 
and he had never doubted hers. He felt, too, 
that if there had been anything to forgive, any 
shadow of dissatisfaction, it was forgiven in 
that moment. Her death seemed somehow to 
Hugh to be the strongest proof he had ever 



388 Beside Still Waters 

received of the permanent identity of the soul ; 
it was impossible to think of her as not there ; 
equally impossible was it to think of her as 
wrapped in sleep, or even transformed to a heav- 
enly meekness ; he could think of her, with per- 
haps an added brightness of demeanour, at the 
knowledge of how easy a thing after all had 
been the passage she had feared, with the dark 
eyes that he knew so well, like wells of fire in 
the pale face, smiling almost disdainfully at the 
thought that others should grieve for her ; she 
was one whom it was impossible ever to com- 
passionate, and Hugh could not compassionate 
her now. She would have had no sort of tol- 
erance for any melancholy or brooding grief; 
she would desire to be tenderly remembered, 
but she would have been utterly impatient of 
the thought that any grief for her should 
_ weaken or darken the outlook of her friends 
upon the world. Hugh resolved, with a great 
flood of strong love for his friend, that he would 
grieve for her as she would have had him grieve, 
as though they, were but separated for a little. 
She had left, he learned, the most decisive di- 
rection that no one should be summoned to her 
funeral: that was so like her brave, sensible 
nature; she desired the grief for her to be whole- 
some and temperate grief, with no lingering 
over the sad accidents of mortality. Hugh felt 



The Gate of Lile 389 

the strong bond of friendship, that had existed 
between them, grow and blossom into a vigor- 
ous and enduring love. She seemed close 
beside him all that day, approving his efforts 
after a joyful tranquillity. He could almost see 
her, if he sank for a moment into a tearful sor- 
sow, casting upward that impatient look he 
knew so well, if any instance of human weakness 
were related in her presence. 

And thus the death of his old friend seemed, 
as the day drew on, to have brought a strange 
brightness into his life, by making the darkless 
terrible, the unknown more familiar. She was 
there, with the same brave courtesy, the same 
wholesome scorn, the same humorous decisive- 
ness ; and though the thought of the gap came 
like an ache into his mind, again and again, he 
resolved that he would not yield to ineffectual 
sadness ; but that he would be worthy of thq^ 
friendship which she had given him, not easily, 
he remembered, but after long testing and 
weighing his character ; and that he would be 
faithful — he prayed that he might be that — to 
so pure and generous a gift. 



XL 

In Hugh's temperament, sensitive^and eager 
as it was, there was a strong tendency to live 
in the future and in the past rather than in the 
present. In the past, he realised, he could live 
without dismay and without languor, because 
the mind has so extraordinary a power of sift- 
ing its memories, of throwing away and dis- 
regarding all that is sordid, ugly, and base, and 
retaining only the finest gold. But there was 
a danger of dwelling two much upon the future, 
because the anxious mind, fertile in imagination, 
^was so apt to weave for itself pictures of dis- 
couragement and failure, sad dilemmas, dreary 
dishonours, calamities, shadows, woes. How 
often had the thought of what might be in 
store clouded the pure sunshine of some bright 
day of summer ; how often had the thought of 
isolation, of loss, of bereavement, hung like a 
cloud between himself and his intercourse even 
with those whom he most feared to lose ! He 
thought sometimes of that sad and yet bracing 
sentiment, uttered by one whose life had been 
390 



A Funeral Pomp 391 

filled with every delight that wealth, guided 
by cultivated taste, could purchase. " My life," 
said this wearied man, " has been clouded by 
troubles, most of which never happened." But 
even apart from the sorrows which he knew 
might or might not befall him, there was 
one darkest shadow, the shadow of death, the 
cessation of l^eloved energies, of delightful 
prospects, of the sweet interchange of friend- 
ship, of the bright and brave things of life. 
Could one, he asked himself, ever come to re- 
gard death as a natural, a beautiful thing, a 
delicious resting from life, an appointed goal ? 
It was the one thing certain and inevitable, the 
last terror, the final silence, which it seemed 
nothing couLd break. 

The thought came to him with a deep insist- 
ence on a day when the funeral services for a 
great personage, called away without a single 
warning, were held in the chapel of his own 
college. There was a great gathering of friends 
and residents. The long procession, blackrobed 
and bareheaded, with the chilly winter sun 
shining down on the court, wound slowly 
through the college buildings, with many halts, 
and at last entered the great chapel, the organ 
playing softly a melody of pathetic grief, in 
which the sad revolt of human hearts that had 
loved life and the warm, kind world, made 



392 Beside Still Waters 

itself heard. They passed to their places, and 
then very slowly and heavily the sad and 
helpless burden, the coffin, veiled and palled, 
freighted with the rich scents of the dying 
flowers that lay in stainless purity upon it, 
was borne to its place. The life of their brother 
had been a very useful, happy, and innocent 
life, full of quiet energies, of simple activi- 
ties, of refined pleasures. There seemed no 
need for its suspension. The very suddenness 
of the summons had been a beautiful and 
kindly thing, attended by no fears and little 
suffering — but kindly, only upon the sup- 
position that it was necessary. The holy 
service proceeded, the voice of old human 
sorrow, of tender hope, of ardent faith, thrill- 
ing through the mournful words. It was well, 
no doubt, as acquiescence was inevitable, to 
acquiesce as patiently, even as eagerly as 
possible. But there were two alternatives : 
one that the beloved life had gone out utterly, 
as an expiring flame ; if so was it not well 
to know it, so that one might frame one's 
life upon that sad knowledge? yet the heart 
could not bear to think it ; and then Faith 
seemed to step in, dimly smiling, finger 
on lip, and pointing upwards. If that smile, 
that pointing hand, meant anything, why 
could there not be sent some hint of cer- 



Fear 393 

tainty that the sweet, fragrant life that was 
over, so knit up with love and friendship 
and regard, had a further, a serener future 
awaiting it? The question was, did such a 
scene as was then enacted hold any real 
and vital message of hope for the soul ; or 
was it a thing to turn the back upon, to forget, 
to banish, as merely casting a shadow upon the 
joyful energies of life ? 

It seemed to Hugh, when the sad rites were 
done, and he was left alone, that there was but 
one solution possible — the thought shaped itself 
dimly and wistfully out of the dark — that there 
was one element that was out of place, one ele- 
ment over which the mind had a certain power, 
that one must resolve to exorcise and cast out — 
the element of fear. And yet fear, that unman- 
ning, abominable thing, that struck the light 
out of life, that made one incapable of energy 
and activity alike, was that, too, not a dark gift 
from the Father's hand ? Had it a purifying, a 
restoring influence? It seemed to Hugh that 
it had none. Yet why was it made so terribly 
easy, so insupportably natural, if it had not its 
place in the great economy of God ? Was not 
this the darkest of dark dilemmas ? Slowly re- 
flecting on it, Hugh seemed to see that fear had 
one effect of good about it ; it was one of those 
things, and alas they were many, that seemed 



394 Beside Still Waters 

strewn about us only that we might learn to tri- 
umph over them. For one who really believed 
in the absolutely infinite and all-embracing will 
of God, there was no room for fear at all. If the 
things of life were sent wisely, tenderly, and 
graciously, not care, not suffering, not even 
death admitted of any questioning ; and yet 
fear seemed a deeper, more instinctive thing 
than reasoning itself. The very fear of non- 
existence, in the light of reason, seemed a 
wholly unreal thing. No shadow of it attached 
to the long dark years of the world, which had 
passed before one's own conscious life began. 
One could look back in the pages of history to 
the ancient pageant of the world in which one 
had no part, and not feel one's self wronged or 
misused in having had no share in those vivid 
things. Why should we regard a past in which 
we had had no conscious part with such a blithe 
serenity, and yet look forward to that future in 
which, for all we knew, we could have no part 
either, with such an envious despair? The 
thought was unreasonable enough, but it was 
there. But it was possible, by thus boldly 
and tranquilly confronting the problem, to 
diminish the pressure of the shadow. A man 
could throw himself, could he not, in utter con- 
fidence before the feet of God, claiming nothing, 
demanding nothing but the sense of perfect 



The Daily Manna 395 

acquiescence in His will and deed? The secret 
again was, not to forecast and forebode, but to 
live in the day and for the day, practising labour, 
kindliness, gentleness, peace. That was a true 
image, the image of those old pilgrims who 
gathered the manna for their daily use ; little or 
much, it sufficed ; and no one might, through 
indolence or prudence, evade the daily labour 
by laying up a store; the store vanished in 
corruption. So it was with all ambitious 
dreams, all attempts to lay a jealous hand on 
what might be ; it was that which poisoned life. 
Those far-reaching plans, those hopes of ease 
and glory, that wealth laid up for many years, 
they were the very substance of decay. Even 
fear itself must be accepted, when it was whole- 
somely and inevitably there ; but not amplified, 
added to, dwelt upon. How rarely was one in 
doubt about the next, the immediate duty. 
And one could surely win, by patient practice, 
by resolute effort, the power of casting out of 
the moment the shadow of the uneasy days 
ahead. How simple, how brief those very un- 
easinesses turned out to be ! Things were never 
as bad as one feared, ever easier than one had 
hoped. It was a false prudence, a foolish cal- 
culation, to think that by picturing the terrors 
of a crisis one made it easier when it came ; just 
as one so sadly discounted joys by anticipation 



396 Beside Still Waters 

and found them hollow, disappointing husks 
when they lay open in the hand. 

Hugh rose from his thoughts and walked to 
the window. The day was dying, robed in a sol- 
emn pomp. The fields were shrouded in mist 
but the cloud-rims in the west were touched 
with intense edges of gold ; Hugh thought of 
the little churchyard that lay beyond those 
trees, where, under the raw mould heaped up so 
mutely, under the old wall, beside the yew-tree, 
in the shadow of the chancel-gable, lay the per- 
ishing vesture of the spirit of his friend, ban- 
ished from light and warmth to his last cold 
house. How lonely, how desolate it seemed ; 
and the mourners, too, sitting in the dreary 
rooms, with the agony of the gap upon them, 
the empty chair, the silent voice, the folded 
papers, the closed books ! How could God 
atone for all that, even though He made all 
things new? It was not what was new, but 
what was old, for which one craved ; that long 
perspective of summer mornings, of pacings to 
and fro, of happy work, of firelit evenings, of 
talk, of laughter, the groups breaking up and 
reforming — how little one had guessed and val- 
ued the joy, the content, the blessing of them at 
the time ! In the midst of them, one was reach- 
ing forwards, restlessly and vainly, to the fut- 
ure that was to be richer yet. Then the future 



The Lapsing Moment 397 

became the happy present, and still one had 
leaned forward. How idle it was ! even while he 
waited and gazed, the light of evening was gone, 
the clouds were lustreless and wan, the sunset, 
that band of golden light, was flying softly, a 
girdle of beauty round the world ; but the twi- 
light and the night had their beauty, too, their 
peace, their refreshment, their calm. 



XLI 

It must not be thought that because this lit- 
tle book attempts to trace the more secret and 
solitary thoughts of Hugh, as his soul took 
shape under the silent influences of pensive re- 
flection, that the current of his life was all passed 
in lonely speculation. He had a definite place 
in the world, and mixed with his fellow-men, 
with no avoidance of the little cares of daily 
life. He only tended, as solitude became more 
dear to him, and as the thoughts that he loved 
best rose more swiftly and vividly about him, 
to frame his life, as far as he could, upon simple 
and unambitious lines. 

In this he acted according to the dictates of 
a kind of intuition. It was useless, he felt, to 
analyse motives ; it was impossible to discover 
how much was disinterestedness, how much un- 
worldliness, how much the pursuit of truth, how 
much the avoidance of anxious responsibility, 
how much pure indolence. He was quite ready 
to believe that a certain amount of the lat- 
ter came in, though Hugh was not indolent in 
398 



Following the Light 399 

the ordinary sense of the word. He was 
incapable of pure idling ; but he was also in- 
capable of carrying out prolonged and patient 
labour, unless he was keenly interested in an 
object ; and the fact that he found the renun- 
ciation of ambitions so easy and simple a thing 
was a sufficient proof to him that his interest 
in mundane things was not very vital. But 
Hugh above all things desired to have no illu- 
sions about himself; and he was saved from 
personal vanity not so much by humility of na- 
ture as from a deep sense of the utter depend- 
ence of all created things on their Creator. He 
did not look upon his own powers, his own good 
qualities, as redounding in any way to his credit, 
but as the gift of God. He never fell into the 
error of imagining himself to have achieved 
anything by his own ability or originality, but 
only as the outcome of a desire implanted in 
him by God, who had also furnished him with 
the requisite perseverance to carry them out. 
He could not lay his finger on any single quality, 
and say that he had of his own effort im- 
proved it. And, in studying the lives and tem- 
peraments of others, he did not think of their 
achievements as things which they had accom- 
plished ; but rather as a sign of the fuller great- 
ness of glory which had been revealed to them. 
Life thus became to him a following of light ; 



400 Beside Still Waters 

he desired to know his own limitations, not be- 
cause of the interest of them, but as indicating 
to him more clearly what he might undertake. 
It was a curious proof to him of the appropriate- 
ness of each man's conditions and environment 
to his own particular nature, when he reflected 
that no one whom he had ever known, however 
unhappy, however faulty, would ever willingly 
have exchanged identities with any one else. 
People desired to be rid of definite afflictions, 
definite faults ; they desired and envied particu- 
lar qualities, particular advantages that others 
possessed, but he could not imagine that any 
one in the world would exchange any one 
else's identity for his own ; one would like per- 
haps to be in another's place, and this was 
generally accompanied by a feeling that one 
would be able to make a much better thing of 
another's sources of happiness and enjoyment, 
than the person whose prosperity or ability one 
envied seemed to make. But he could hardly 
conceive of any extremity of despair so great as 
to make a human being willing to accept the lot 
of another in its entirety. Even one's own 
faults and limitations were dear to one ; the 
whole thing — character, circumstances, rela- 
tions with others, position^made up to each 
person the most interesting problem in the 
world ; and this immense consciousness of sepa- 



Sincerity ^ 401 

rateness ; even of essential superiority, was per- 
haps the strongest argument that Hugh knew in 
favour of the preservation of a personral identity 
after death. 

Hugh then found himself in this positron : he 
was no longer young, but he seemed to him- 
self to have retained the best part of youth, 
its openness to new impressions, its zest, its 
sense of the momentousness of occasions, its 
hopefulness ; he found himself with duties 
which he felt himself capable of discharging; 
with a trained literary instinct and a real 
power of expression ; even if he had not hith- 
erto produced any memorable work, he felt that 
he was equipped for the task, if only sorne 
great and congenial theme presented itself 
to his mind. He found himself with a 
small circle of friends, with a competence 
sufficient for his simple needs ; day by day 
there opened upon his mind ideas, thoughts, 
and prospects of ever-increasing mystery and 
beauty ; as to his character and temperament, he 
found himself desiring to empty himself of all 
extraneous elements, all conventional traditions 
all adopted ideas ; his idea of life indeed was 
that it was an educative process, and that the 
further that the soul could advance upon the 
path of self-knowledge and sincerity, the more 
that it could cast away all the things that were 

26 



402 Beside Still Waters 

not of its essence, the better prepared one 
was to be filled with the divine wisdom. The 
deeper that he plunged into the consideration 
of the mysterious conditions and laws which 
surrounded him, the greater the mystery be- 
came ; but instead of becoming more hopeless, it 
seemed to him that the dawn appeared to 
brighten every moment, as one came closer to 
the appreciation of one's own ignorance, weak- 
ness and humility. Instead of drawing nearer to 
despair, he drew every day nearer to a tender 
simplicity, a larger if more distant hope, an in- 
tenser desire to be at one with the vast Will 
that had set him where he was, and that denied 
him as yet a knowledge of the secret. As he 
ascended with slow steps into the dark moun- 
tain of life, the kingdoms of the world became 
more remote, the noise of their shouting more 
faint. He thought, with no compassion, but 
with a wondering tenderness, of the busy 
throng beneath ; but he saw that, one by one, 
spirits smitten with the divine hope slipped 
from that noisy world, and, like himself, began 
to climb the solitary hills. What lay on the 
other side ? That he could not even guess ; 
but he had a belief in the richness, the large- 
ness of the mind of God ; and he saw as in 
a vision the day breaking on a purer and 
sweeter world, full of great surprises, mighty 



A Better World 403 

thoughts, pure joys ; he knew not whether it 
was near or far, but something in his heart told 
him that it was assuredly there ! 



XLII 

How swiftly the summer melted into the 
autumn ! the old lime-trees in the college court 
were soon all gold ; how bravely that gold seemed 
to enrich the heart, on the still, clear, fresh morn- 
ings of St. Luke's summer ! That wise physician 
of souls has indeed had set aside for him the 
most inspiriting, the most healing days of the 
year, days of tonic coolness, of invigorating 
colour, of bracing sun ; and then the winter 
closes in, when light is short, and the sun is low 
and cold ; when the eye is grateful for the rich 
brown of naked fields, leafless woods, and misty 
distances. Yet there is a solemn charm about 
the darkening day, when the sun sets over the 
wide plain rolled in smoky vapours and gilded 
banks of cloud ; and then there is the long fire- 
lit evening to follow, when books give up their 
secrets and talk is easiest. 

The summer, for all its enervating heat, its 

piercing light, was the time, so Hugh thought, 

for reflection. In winter the mind is often 

sunk in a sort of comfortable drowsiness, and 

404 



Aconite 405 

hibernates within its secure cell. Hugh found 
the activities of work very absorbing in those 
darker days: his thoughts took on a more 
placid, more contented tinge. Early in the 
year he walked alone along the Backs at Cam- 
bridge. He passed the great romantic gate- 
posts of St. John's, with the elms of the high 
garden towering over them, his mind occu- 
pied with a hundred small designs. It was a 
shock of inexpressible surprise, as he passed by 
the clear stream that runs over its sandy shal- 
lows, and feeds the garden moats, to see that 
in the Wilderness the ground was bright with 
the round heads of the yellow aconite, the 
first flower to hear the message of spring. 
The appearance of that brave and hardy 
flower in that particular place had a peculiar 
and moving association for Hugh. More than 
twenty years before, in his undergraduate 
days, in a time of deep perplexity of mind, he 
had walked that way on a bright Sunday 
morning, his young heart burdened with sor- 
rowful preoccupation. How hard those youth- 
ful griefs had been to bear! they were so 
unfamiliar, they seemed so irreparably over- 
whelming ; one had not learned to look over 
them or through them ; they darkened the 
present, they hung like a black cloud over the 
future. How fantastic, how exaggerated those 



4o6 Beside Still Waters 

woes had been, and yet how unbearably real ! 
He had stood, he remembered, to watch the 
mild sunlight strike in soft shafts among the 
trees. The hardy blossoms, cold and scentless, 
but so unmistakably alive, had given him a deep 
message of hope, a thrill of expectation. He 
had gone back, he remembered, and in a glow 
of impassioned emotion had written a little 
poem on the theme, in a locked note-book, to 
which he confided his inmost thoughts. He 
could recall some of the poor stanzas still, so 
worthless in expression, yet with so fiery a 
heart. 

The thought of the long intervening years 
came back to Hugh with a sense of wonder 
and gratitude.- He had half expected then, he 
remembered, that some great experience would 
perhaps come to him, and lift him out of his 
shadowed thoughts, his vague regrets. That 
great experience had not befallen him, but 
how far more wisely and tenderly he had been 
dealt with instead ! Experience had been 
lavished upon him ; he had gained interest, 
he had practised activity, and he had found 
patience and hope by the way. He knew no 
more than he knew then of the great and dim 
design that lay behind the world, and now he 
hardly desired to know. He had been led, he 



A Calm 407 

had been guided, with a perfect tenderness, 
a deliberate love. The only lost hours, after 
all, had been the hours which he had given to 
anxiety and doubt, to ambition and desire. 
When the moment had come, which he had 
heavily anticipated, there had never been any 
question as to how he should act ; and yet he 
had not been a mere puppet moved by forces 
outside his control. He could not harmonise 
the sense of guidance with the sense of free- 
dom, and yet both had undoubtedly been 
there. He had been dealt with both frankly 
and tenderly ; not saved from fruitful mistakes, 
not forbidden to wander ; and yet his mistakes 
had never been permitted to be irreparable, his 
wanderings had taught him to desire the road 
rather than to dread the desert. 

A great sense of tranquillity and peace 
settled down upon his spirit. He cast himself 
in an utter dependence upon the mighty will 
of the Father ; and in that calm of thought 
his little cares, and they were many, faded like 
wreaths of steam cast abroad upon the air. 
To be sincere and loving and quiet, that was 
the ineffable secret ; not to scheme for fame, 
or influence or even for usefulness ; to receive 
as in a channel the strength and sweetness 
of God. 



4o8 Beside Still Waters 

A bird hidden in a dark yew-tree began 
softly to flute, in that still afternoon, a little 
song that seemed like a prayer for bright days 
and leafy trees and embowered greenness ; a 
prayer that should be certainly answered, and 
the fulfilment of which should be dearer 
for the delay. Hugh knew in that moment 
that the life he had lived and would live was, 
in its barreness and bleakness, its veiling cloud, 
its chilly airs, but the preface to some vast and 
glorious springtime of the spirit, when hill and 
valley should break together into sunlit bloom, 
when the trees should be clothed with leaf, 
when birds should sing clear for joy, and the 
soul should be utterly satisfied. The old poet 
had said that the saddest thing was to remem- 
ber happy days in hours of sorrow ; but to 
remember the dreary days in a season of calm 
content, what joy could be compared to that ? 
His heart was slowly filled, as a cup with wine, 
with an unutterable hope ; but he desired no 
longer that some great thing should come to 
him, which should exalt him above his fellows 
and make him envied and admired. Rather 
should the humblest and the lowest place suf- 
fice, some corner of life which he should deck, 
and tend, and keep bright and sweet ; a few 
hands to grasp, a few hearts to encourage ; and 



The Dropping Veil 409 

even so to do that with no set purpose, but 
by merely letting the gentle joy of the soul 
overflow, like a spring of brimming waters, fed 
from high hills of faith. 

And so, like a figure that passes down a cor- 
ridor and enters at an open door, Hugh passes 
from our sight. He mingles with his fellows, 
he goes to and fro, he speaks and he is 
silent, he smiles and weeps ; he may not be 
distinguished from other men, and there lies 
his best happiness, because he is waiting upon 
God. His life may be long or short ; he may 
mix with the crowd or sit solitary. If he dif- 
fers at all from others, it is in this, that he 
desires no costly thread of gold, no bright- 
hued skein that he may weave his texture of 
life. Upon that tapestry will be depicted no 
knight in shining armour; no nymphs with 
floating vestures, no paradise of bowers ; rather 
dim hills and cloud-hung valleys, and the dark- 
ness of haunted groves; with one figure of 
shadowy hue in sober raiment, walking ear- 
nestly as one that has a note of the way ; he 
would desire nothing but what may uphold 
him ; he would fear nothing but what may 
stain him ; he would shun the company of none 
who need him ; he would clasp the hand of 
any gentle-hearted pilgrim. So would he walk 



4IO Beside Still Waters 

in quietness to the dim valley and the dark 
stream, believing that the Father has a place 
and a work and a joy for the smallest thing 
that His hands have made. 



THE END 



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From a College Window 

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The Upton Letters 

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prejudice, that constitute Mr. More's strength as a critic. 
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BY 

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With a Bibliography by Frederick A. King 

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All of Miss Gary's work in biography and criti- 
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of each author, and leaves him with a deeper im- 
pression of the general influences of the subject 
chosen for study. In her latest volume, a critical 
interpretation of the novels of Mr. Henry James, 
she has a theme well suited to her powers of in- 
sight and illumination, and as a trained writer, a 
student of character and literature, Miss Gary is 
well equipped for her congenial task. 

The intention of the book is sufficiently indi- 
cated by its title. It is an attempt to fix more or 
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Mr. James taken as a whole accomplishment and 
reviewed with reference to its complete effect. It 
is not so much a criticism as a comment upon 
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