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I'hoto. hy Elliott 6- F 










First published (Demy 8tw) Mmy 9, 1918. 
Reprinted May, July, Aug., Sept. Oct., 
Dec. 1918, Sept. 1919, and Feb. 1920. 
/Vr edition, Re-set (Crown 8vo) ( MM?. 
1921. Rf printed January 1922. Reprinted 
(Demy 8vo), Nov. 1922. 

Printed in England at THE BALLANTYNK PRESS 
ter, London * B/on 

H. T. J. N. 


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


even a precis of the truth about the Victorian age, for the 
shortest precis must fill innumerable volumes. But, in the 
lives of an ecclesiastic, an educational authority, a woman of 
action, and a man of adventure, I have sought to examine 
and elucidate certain fragments of the truth which took my 
fancy and lay to my hand. 

I hope, however, that the following pages may prove to be 
of interest from the strictly biographical no less than from the 
historical point of view. Human beings are too important 
to be treated as mere symptoms of the past They have a 
value which is independent of any temporal processes which 
is eternal, and must be felt for its own sake. The art of 
biography seems to have fallen on evil times in England. 
We have liad, it is true, a few masterpieces, but we have 
never had, like the French, a great biographical tradition ; 
we have had no Fontenelles and Condorcets, with their 
incomparable iloges, compressing into a few shining pages 
the manifold existences of men. With us, the most delicate 
and humane of all the branches of the art of writing'Jias been 
relegated to the journeymen of letters ; we do not_reflect 
that it is perhaps as difficult to write a good life as to live one. 
Those two fat volumes, with which it is our custom to 
commemorate the dead who does not know them, with 
their ill-digested masses of matem!, their slipshod style, 
their tone of tedious panegyric, their lamentable lack of 
selection, of detachment, of design ? They are as familiar 
as the cortege of the undertaker, and wear the same air of 
slow, funereal barbarism. One is tempted to suppose, of 
some of them, that they were composed by that functionary, 
as the final item of his job. The studies in this book are 
indebted, in more ways than one, to such works works 
which certainly deserve the name of Standard Biographies. 
For they have provided me not only with much indispen- 
sable information, but with something even more precious 
an example. How many lessons are to be learnt from them ! 
But it is hardly necessary to particularise. To preserve, 
for instance, a becoming brevity a brevity which excludes 


everything that is redundant and nothing that is significant 
that, surely, is the first duty of the biographer. The second, 
no less surely, is to maintain his own freedom of spirit.^ It 
is not his business to be complimentary ; it is his business 
to lay bare the facts of the case, as he understands them. 
That is what I have aimed at in this book to lay bare the 
facts of some cases, as I understand them, dispassionately, 
impartially, and without ulterior intentions. To quote 
the words of a Master" Je n'impose rien ; je ne propose 
rien : j 'expose." 

A list of the principal sources from which 1 have drawn ts 
appended to each Biography. I would indicate, as an honour- 
able exception to the current commodity, Sir Edward Cook's 
excellent " Life of Florence Nightingale," without which my 
own study, though composed on a very different scale and from 
a decidedly different angle, could not have been written. 










Reproduced from Ward's Life of Newman, by kind permission of 
Messrs. Longmans, Green A Co. 


Reproduced from a photograph, by kind permission of the owner. 


Reproduced from a steel engraving in Stanley's Life of Arnold, 
by kind permission of Mr. John Murray. 



Reproduced from Gladstone's Correspondence on Church and 
Religion, edited by D. C. Latlibury, by kind permission of 
Mr. John Murray. 


HENRY EDWARD MANNING was born in 1807 and died in 
1892. His life was extraordinary in many ways, but its 
interest for the modern inquirer depends mainly upon two 
considerations the light which his career throws upon the 
spirit of his age, and the psychological problems suggested 
by his inner history. He belonged to that class of eminent 
ecclesiastics and it is by no means a small class who have 
been distinguished less for saintliness and learning than 
for practical ability. Had he lived in the Middle Ages he 
would certainly have been neither a Francis nor an Aquinas, 
but he might have been an Innocent. As it was, born in 
the England of the Nineteenth Century, growing up in the 
very seed-time of modern progress, coming to maturity with 
the first onrush of Liberalism, and living long enough to 
witness the victories of Science and Democracy, he yet, by 
a strange concatenation of circumstances, seemed almost to 
revive in his own person that long line of diplomatic and 
administrative clerics which, one would have thought, 
had come to an end for ever with Cardinal Wolsey. 
In Manning, so it appeared, the Middle Ages lived again. 
The tall gaunt figure, with the face of smiling asceticism, 
the robes, and the biretta, as it passed in triumph from 
High Mass at the Oratory to philanthropic gatherings at 
Exeter Hall, from Strike Committees at the Docks to 
Mayfair drawing-rooms where fashionable ladies knelt 
to the Prince of the Church, certainly bore witness to a 
singular condition of affairs. What had happened ? 
Had a dominating character imposed itself upon a hostile 
environment ? Or was the Nineteenth Century, after 
all, not so hostile ? Was there something in it, scientific 


and progressive as it was, which went out to welcome 
the representative of ancient tradition and uncompromising 
faith ? Had it, perhaps, a place in its heart for such as 
Manning a soft place, one might almost say ? Or, on 
the other hand, was it he who had been supple and yielding ? 
he who had won by art what he would never have won by 
force, and who had managed, so to speak, to be one of the 
leaders of the procession less through merit than through a 
superior faculty for gliding adroitly to the front rank ? 
And, in any case, by what odd chances, what shifts 
and struggles, what combinations of circumstance and 
character, had this old man come to be where he was ? 
Such questions are easier to ask than to answer ; but it 
may be instructive, and even amusing, to look a little more 
closely into the complexities of so curious a story. 


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

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

His father was more careful in other ways. " His 
refinement and delicacy of mind were such," wrote Manning 
long afterwards, " that I never heard out of his mouth 
a word which might not have been spoken in the presence 
of the most pure and sensitive, except," he adds, " on 
one occasion. He was then forced by others to repeat 
a negro story which, though free from all evil de sexu^ 
was indelicate. He did it with great resistance. His 
example gave me a hatred of all such talk." The family 
lived in an atmosphere of Evangelical piety. One day 
the little boy came in from the farmyard, and his mother 



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

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


It had been his father's wish that Manning should go 
into the Church ; but the thought disgusted him ; and 
when he reached Oxford, his tastes, his ambitions, his 
successes at the Union, all seemed to mark him out for! 
a political career. He was a year junior to Samuel! 
Wilberforce, and a year senior to Gladstone. In thosev 
days the Union was the recruiting-ground for young 
politicians ; Ministers came down from London to listen 
to the debates ; and a few years later the Duke of Newcastle 
gave Gladstone a pocket borough on the strength of his 
speech at the Union against the Reform Bill. To those 
three young men, indeed, the whole world lay open. 
Were they not rich, well-connected, and endowed with 
an infinite capacity for making speeches ? The event 
justified the highest expectations of their friends ; for the 
least distinguished of the three died a bishop. The only 
danger lay in another direction. " Watch, my dear 
Samuel," wrote the elder Wilberforce to his son, " watch 
with jealousy whether you find yourself unduly solicitous 
about acquitting yourself; whether you are too much 
chagrined when you fail, or are puffed up by your success. 
Undue solicitude about popular estimation is a weakness 
against which all real Christians must guard with the most 
jealous watchfulness. The more you can retain the im- 
pression of your being surrounded by a cloud of witnesses 
of the invisible world, to use the scripture phrase, the more 
you will be armed against this besetting sin." But 
suddenly it seemed as if such a warning could, after all, 
have very little relevance to Manning ; for, on his leaving 
Oxford, the brimming cup was dashed from his lips. He 
was already beginning to dream of himself in the House 
of Commons, the solitary advocate of some great cause 
whose triumph was to be eventually brought about by 
his extraordinary efforts, when his father was declared a 
bankrupt, and all his hopes of a political career came to 
an end for ever. 

It was at this time that Manning became intimate 


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


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


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

For many generations the Church of England had slept 
the sleep of the . . . comfortable. The sullen murmurings 
of dissent, the loud battle-cry of Revolution, had hardly 
disturbed her slumbers. Portly divines subscribed with a 
sigh or a smile to the Thirty-nine Articles, sank quietly into 
easy livings, rode gaily to hounds of a morning as gentlemen 
should, and, as gentlemen should, carried their two bottles 
of an evening. To be in the Church was in fact simply to 
pursue one of those professions which Nature and Society 
had decided were proper to gentlemen and gentlemen 
alone. The fervours of piety, the zeal of Apostolic charity, 
the enthusiasm of self-renunciation these things were 
all very well in their way and in their place ; but their 
place was certainly not the Church of England. Gentlemen 
were neither fervid nor zealous, and above all they were 
not enthusiastic. There were, it was true, occasionally 
to be found within the Church some strait-laced parsons 


of the high Tory school who looked back with regret to 
the days of Laud or talked of the Apostolical Succession ; 
and there were groups of square-toed Evangelicals who 
were earnest over the Atonement, confessed to a personal 
love of Jesus Christ, and seemed to have arranged the whole 
of their lives, down to the minutest details of act and speech, 
with reference to Eternity. But such extremes were the 
rare exceptions. The great bulk of the clergy walked 
calmly along the smooth road of ordinary duty. They 
kept an eye on the poor of the parish, and they conducted 
the Sunday Services in a becoming manner ; for the rest, 
they differed neither outwardly nor inwardly from the 
great bulk of the laity, to whom the Church was a useful 
organisation for the maintenance of Religion, as by law 

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

At this time there was living in a country parish a 
young clergyman of the name of John Keble. He had 
gone to Oxford at the age of fifteen, where, after a successful 
academic career, he had been made a fellow of Oriel, j 
He had then returned to his father's parish and taken up j 
the duties of a curate. He had a thorough knowledge 
of the contents of the Prayer-book, the ways of a Common 
Room, the conjugations of the Greek Irregular Verbs, and 


the small jests of a country parsonage ; and the defects 
of his experience in other directions were replaced by a 
zeal and a piety which were soon to prove themselves 
equal, and more than equal, to whatever calls might 
be made upon them. The superabundance of his piety 
overflowed into verse ; and the holy simplicity of the 
Christian Tear carried his name into the remotest lodging- 
houses of England. As for his zeal, however, it needed 
another outlet Looking forth upon the doings of his 
fellow-men through his rectory windows in Gloucestershire, 
Keble felt his whole soul shaken with loathing, anger, 
and dread. Infidelity was stalking through the land ; 
authority was laughed at ; the hideous doctrines of 
Democracy were being openly preached. Worse still, 
if possible, the Church herself was ignorant and luke- 
warm ; she had forgotten the mysteries of the sacraments, 
she had lost faith in the Apostolical Succession, she was 
no longer interested in the Early Fathers, and she sub- 
mitted herself to the control of a secular legislature, the 
members of which were not even bound to profess belief 
in the Atonement. In the face of such enormities what 
could Keble do ? He was ready to do anything, but he 
.was a simple and an unambitious man, and his wrath 
would in all probability have consumed itself unappeased 
within him had he not chanced to come into contact, 
at the critical moment, with a spirit more excitable and 
daring than his own. 

IHurrell Froude, one of Keble's pupils, was a clever 
young man to whom had fallen a rather larger share of 
self-assurance and intolerance than even clever young 
men usually possess. What was singular about him, how- 
ever, was not so much his temper as his tastes. The sort 
pf ardour which impels more normal youths to haunt 
Music Halls and fall in love with actresses took the form, 
in Froude's case, of a romantic devotion to the Deity and 
an intense interest in the state of his own soul. He was 
obsessed by the ideals of saintliness, and convinced of 


the supreme importance of not eating too much. He 
kept a diary, in which he recorded his delinquencies, and 
they were many. " I cannot say much for myself to-day," 
he writes on September agth, 1826 (he was twenty-three 
years old). "I did not read the Psalms and Second 
Lesson after breakfast, which I had neglected to do before, 
though I had plenty of time on my hands. Would have 
liked to be thought adventurous for a scramble I had at 
the Devil's Bridge. Looked with greediness to see if 
there was a goose on the table for dinner ; and though 
what I ate was of the plainest sort, and I took no variety, 
yet even this was partly the effect of accident, and I cer- 
tainly rather exceeded in quantity, as I was muzzy and 
sleepy after dinner." " I allowed myself to be disgusted 

with 's pomposity," he writes a little later ; " also 

smiled at an allusion in the Lessons to abstemiousness 
in eating. I hope not from pride or vanity, but mistrust ; 
it certainly was unintentional." And again, " As to my 
meals, I can say that I was always careful to see that no 
one else would take a thing before I served myself ; and 
I believe as to the kind of my food, a bit of cold endings 
of a dab at breakfast, and a scrap of mackerel at dinner, 
are the only things that diverged from the strict rule 
of simplicity." " I am obliged to confess," he notes, 
" that in my intercourse with the Supreme Being, I am 
become more and more sluggish." And then he exclaims : 
" Thine eye trieth my inward parts, and knoweth my 
thoughts . . . O that my ways were made so direct 
that I might keep Thy statutes. I will walk in Thy 
Commandments when Thou hast set my heart at liberty." 

Such were the preoccupations of this young man. 
Perhaps they would have been different if he had had 
a little less of what Newman describes as his " high severe 
idea of the intrinsic excellence of Virginity " ; but it is 
useless to speculate. Naturally enough the fierce and 
burning zeal of Keble had a profound effect upon his mind. 
The two became intimate friends, and Froude, eagerly 


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

But, after all, something more was needed than even 
the excitement of Froude combined with the conviction 
of Keble to ruffle seriously the vast calm waters of Christian 
thought ; and it so happened that that thing was not 
wanting : it was the genius of John Henry Newman. 
If Newman had never lived, or if his father, when the gig 
came round on the fatal morning, still undecided between 
the two Universities, had chanced to turn the horse's 
head in the direction of Cambridge, who can doubt that 


the Oxford Movement would have flickered out its little 
flame unobserved in the Common Room of Oriel ? And 
how different, too, would have been the fate of Newman 
himself! He was a child of the Romantic Revival, a 
creature of emotion and of memory, a dreamer whose 
secret spirit dwelt apart in delectable mountains, an artist ! 
whose subtle senses caught, like a shower in the sunshine, / 
the impalpable rainbow of the immaterial world. In 
other times, under other skies, his days would have been 
more fortunate. He might have helped to weave the 
garland of Meleager, or to mix the lapis laxuli of Fra 
Angelico, or to chase the delicate truth in the shade of an 
Athenian palastra, or his hands might have fashioned 
those ethereal faces that smile in the niches of Chartres. 
Even in his own age he might, at Cambridge, whose cloisters 
have ever been consecrated to poetry and common sense, 
have followed quietly in Gray's footsteps and brought 
into flower those seeds of inspiration which now lie em- 
bedded amid the faded devotion of the Lyra Apostolica. 
At Oxford, he was doomed. He could not withstand 
the last enchantment of the Middle Age. It was in vain 
that he plunged into the pages of Gibbon or communed 
for long hours with Beethoven over his beloved violin. | 
The air was thick with clerical sanctity, heavy with the j 
odours of tradition and the soft warmth of spiritual j 
authority ; his friendship with Hurrell Froude did the rest. 
All that was weakest in him hurried him onward, and all 
that was strongest in him too. His curious and vaulting 
imagination began to construct vast philosophical fabrics 
out of the writings of ancient monks, and to dally with 
visions of angelic visitations and the efficacy of the oil 
of St. Walburga ; his emotional nature became absorbed 
in the partisan passions of a University clique ; and his | 
subtle intellect concerned itself more and more exclusively ! 
with the dialectical splitting of dogmatical hairs. His 
future course was marked out for him all too clearly ; 
and yet by a singular chance the true nature of the man 


was to emerge triumphant in the end. If Newman had 
died at the age of sixty, to-day he would have been already 
forgotten, save by a few ecclesiastical historians ; but he 
lived to write his Apologia, and to reach immortality, 
neither as a thinker nor as a theologian, but as an artist 
who has embalmed the poignant history of an intensely 
human spirit in the magical spices of words. 

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




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

The Church of England, they declared, was indeed 
the one true Church, but she had been under an eclipse 
since the Reformation in fact, since she had begun 
to exist. She had, it is true, escaped the corruptions 
of Rome ; but she had become enslaved by the secular 
power, and degraded by the false doctrines of Protestantism. 
The Christian Religion was still preserved intact by the 
English priesthood, but it was preserved, as it were, 
unconsciously a priceless deposit, handed down blindly 
from generation to generation, and subsisting less by 
the will of man than through the ordinance of God as 
expressed in the mysterious virtue of the Sacraments. 
Christianity, in short, had become entangled in a series 
of unfortunate circumstances from which it was the plain 
duty of Newman and his friends to rescue it forthwith. 
What was curious was that this task had been reserved, 
in so marked a manner, for them. Some of the divines 


of the seventeenth century had, perhaps, been vouchsafed 
glimpses of the truth ; but they were glimpses and nothing 
more. No, the waters of the true Faith had dived under- 
ground at the Reformation, and they were waiting for the 
wand of Newman to strike the rock before they should 
burst forth once more into the light of day. The whole 
matter, no doubt, was Providential what other explana- 
tion could there be ? 

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

The Tracts were written " with the hope of rousing 
members of our Church to comprehend her alarming 
position ... as a man might give notice of a fire or 
inundation, to startle all who heard him." They may be 
said to have succeeded in their object, for the sensation 
which they caused among clergymen throughout the 
country was extreme. They dealt with a great variety of 
questions, but the underlying intention of all of them was 
to attack the accepted doctrines and practices of the Church 
of England. Dr. Pusey wrote learnedly on Baptismal 
Regeneration ; he also wrote on Fasting. His treatment 


of the latter subject met with considerable disapproval, 

which surprised the Doctor. " I was not prepared," 

j he said, " for people questioning, even in the abstract, 

the duty of fasting ; I thought serious-minded persons 

!at least supposed they practised fasting in some way or 

I other. I assumed the duty to be acknowledged and thought 

it only undervalued." We live and learn, even though 

we have been to Germany. 

Other tracts discussed the Holy Catholic Church, the 
Clergy, and the Liturgy. One treated of the question 
'* whether a clergyman of the Church of England be now 
bound to have morning and evening prayers daily in his 
parish church ? " Another pointed out the " Indications 
of a superintending Providence in the preservation of the 
Prayer-book and in the changes which it has undergone." 
Another consisted of a collection of " Advent Sermons 
on Antichrist." Keble wrote a long and elaborate tract 
" On the Mysticism attributed to the Early Fathers of 
the Church," in which he expressed his opinions upon a large 
number of curious matters. " According to men's usual 
way of talking," he wrote, " it would be called an accidental 
circumstance that there were five loaves, not more nor 
less, in the store of Our Lord and His disciples wherewith 
to provide the miraculous feast But the ancient inter- 
preters treat it as designed and providential, in this surely 
not erring : and their conjecture is that it represents the 
sacrifice of the whole world of sense, and especially of 
the Old Dispensation, which, being outward and visible, 
might be called the dispensation of the senses, to the 
FATHER of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, to be a pledge and 
means of communion with Him according to the terms 
of the new or evangelical law. This idea they arrive at 
by considering the number five, the number of the senses, 
as the mystical opponent of the visible and sensible universe : 
ra alaQrjra, as distinguished from ra vorjra. Origen lays 
down the rule in express terms. 'The number five,' he 
says, ' frequently, nay almost always, is taken for the 


five senses.' '' In another passage, Keble deals with an 
even more recondite question. He quotes the teaching 
of St. Barnabas that *' Abraham, who first gave men 
circumcision, did thereby perform a spiritual and typical 
action, looking forward to the son." St. Barnabas's 
argument is as follows : Abraham circumcised of his 
house men to the number of 318. Why 318 ? Observe 
first the 1 8, then the 300. Of the two letters which stand 
for 1 8, 10 is represented by I, 8 by H. " Thou hast here," 
says St. Barnabas, " the word of Jesus." As for the 300, 
" the Cross is represented by Tau, and the letter Tau 
represents that number." Unfortunately, however, St. 
Barnabas's premise was of doubtful validity, as the Rev. 
Mr. Maitland pointed out, in a pamphlet impugning the 
conclusions of the Tract. " The simple fact is," he wrote, 
" that when Abraham pursued Chedorlaomer * he armed his 
trained servants, born in his own house^ three hundred 
and eighteen.' When, more than thirteen (according to 
the common chronology, fifteen) years after, he circum- 
cised * all the men of his house, born in the house^ and bought 
with money of the stranger,' and, in fact, every male who 
was as much as eight days old, we are not told what the 
number amounted to. Shall we suppose (just for the sake 
of the interpretation) that Abraham's family had so dwindled 
in the interval as that now all the males of his household, 
trained men, slaves, and children, equalled only and exactly 
the number of his warriors 1 5 years before ? " The question 
seems difficult to answer, but Keble had, as a matter 
of fact, forestalled the argument in the following passage, 
which had apparently escaped the notice of the Rev. Mr. 
Maitland. " Now whether the facts were really so or 
not (if it were, it was surely by special providence), that 
Abraham's household at the time of the circumcision was 
exactly the same number as before ; still the argument 
of St. Barnabas will stand. As thus : circumcision had 
from the beginning a reference to our SAVIOUR, as in other 
respects, so in this ; that the mystical number, which is 


the cypher of Jesus crucified, was the number of the 
first circumcised household in the strength of which 
Abraham prevailed against the powers of the world. So 
St. Clement of Alexandria, as cited by Fell." And Keble 
supports his contention through ten pages of close print, 
with references to Aristeas, St. Augustin, St. Jerome, and 
Dr. Whitby. 

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


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

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

Accordingly Manning shook off his early Evangelical 
convictions, started an active correspondence with Newman, 
and was soon working for the new cause. He collected 
quotations, and began to translate the works of Optatus 
for Dr. Pusey. He wrote an article on Justin for the 



British Critic^ Newman's Magazine. He published a 
sermon on Faith, with notes and appendices, which was 
condemned by an evangelical bishop, and fiercely attacked 
by no less a person than the celebrated Mr. Bowdler. 
" The sermon," said Mr. Bowdler, in a book which he 
devoted to the subject, " was bad enough, but the appendix 
was abominable." At the same time he was busy asserting 
the independence of the Church of England, opposing 
secular education, and bringing out pamphlets against 
the Ecclesiastical Commission, which had been appointed 
by Parliament to report on Church Property. Then we 
find him in the role of a spiritual director of souls. Ladies 
met him by stealth in his church, and made their confessions. 
Over one case that of a lady, who found herself drifting 
towards Rome he consulted Newman. Newman advised 
him to " enlarge upon the doctrine of I Cor. vii." ; " also 
I think you must press on her the prospect of benefiting 
the poor Church, through which she has her baptism, by 
stopping in it. Does she not care for the souls of all 
around her, steeped and stifled in Protestantism ? How 
will she best care for them : by indulging her own feelings 
in the communion of Rome, or in denying herself, and 
staying in sackcloth and ashes to do them good ? " 
Whether these arguments were successful does not appear. 

For several years after his wife's death Manning was 
occupied with these new activities, while his relations 
with Newman developed into what was apparently a warm 
friendship. " And now vive valeque^ my dear Manning," 
we find Newman writing in a letter dated " in festo S. Car. 
1838," "as wishes and prays yours affectionately John 
H. Newman." But, as time went on, the situation be- 
came more complicated. Tractarianism began to arouse 
the hostility, not only of the evangelical, but of the 
moderate churchmen, who could not help perceiving, 
in the ever-deepening " Catholicism " of the Oxford party, 
the dread approaches of Rome. The Record newspaper 
an influential Evangelical journal took up the matter 


and sniffed Popery in every direction ; it spoke of certain 
clergymen as *' tainted " ; and after that, preferment 
seemed to pass those clergymen by. The fact that Manning 
found it wise to conduct his confessional ministrations 
in secret was in itself highly significant. It was necessary 
to be careful, and Manning was very careful indeed. 
The neighbouring Archdeacon, Mr. Hare, was a low church- 
man ; Manning made friends with him, as warmly, it 
seemed, as he had made friends with Newman. He 
corresponded with him, asked his advice about the books 
he should read, and discussed questions of Theology 
" As to Gal. vi. 15, we cannot differ. . . . With a man who 
reads and reasons I can have no controversy ; and you do 
both." Archdeacon Hare was pleased, but soon a rumour 
reached him, which was, to say the least of it, upsetting. 
Manning had been removing the high pews from a church 
in Brighton, and putting in open benches in their place. 
Everyone knew what that meant ; everyone knew that 
a high pew was one of the bulwarks of Protestantism, 
and that an open bench had upon it the taint of Rome. 
But Manning hastened to explain. " My dear friend," 
he wrote, " I did not exchange pews for open benches, but 
got the pews (the same in number) moved from the nave 
of the church to the walls of the side aisles, so that the 
whole church has a regular arrangement of open benches, 
which (irregularly) existed before ... I am not to-day 
quite well, so farewell, with much regard Yours ever, 
H. E. M." Archdeacon Hare was reassured. 

It was important that he should be, for the Archdeacon 
of Chichester was growing very old, and Hare's influence 
might be exceedingly useful when a vacancy occurred. 
So, indeed, it fell out. A new bishop, Dr. Shuttleworth, 
was appointed to the See, and the old Archdeacon took the 
opportunity of retiring. Manning was obviously marked 
out as his successor, but the new bishop happened to be 
a low churchman, an aggressive low churchman, who 
went so far as to parody the Tractarian fashion of using 


Saints' days for the dating of letters by writing *' The 
Palace, washing-day," at the beginning of his. And 
what was equally serious his views were shared by 
Mrs. Shuttleworth, who had already decided that the 
pushing young Rector was " tainted." But at the critical 
moment Archdeacon Hare came to the rescue ; he per- 
suaded the Bishop that Manning was safe ; and the 
appointment was accordingly made behind Mrs. Shuttle- 
worth's back. She was furious, but it was too late ; 
Manning was an Archdeacon. All the lady could do, 
to indicate her disapprobation, was to put a copy of Mr. 
Bowdler's book in a conspicuous position on the drawing- 
room table, when he came to pay his respects at the Palace. 

Among the letters of congratulation which Manning 
received was one from Mr. Gladstone, with whom he had 
remained on terms of close friendship since their days 
together at Oxford. " I rejoice," Mr. Gladstone wrote, 
" on your account personally : but more for the sake of 
the Church. All my brothers-in-law are here and scarcely 
less delighted than I am. With great glee am I about to 
write your new address ; but the occasion really calls 
for higher sentiments ; and sure am I that you are one 
of the men to whom it is specially given to develop the 
solution of that great problem how all our minor dis- 
tractions are to be either abandoned, absorbed, or 
harmonised, through the might of the great principle of 
communion in the body of Christ." 

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

For some time it had been obvious to every impartial 


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

The object of the Tract was to prove that there was 
nothing in the Thirty-nine Articles incompatible with the 
creed of the Roman Church. Newman pointed out, for 


instance, that it was generally supposed that the Articles, 
condemned the doctrine of Purgatory ; but they did not ;| 
they merely condemned the Romish doctrine of Purgatory ;: 
and Romish, clearly, was not the same thing as Roman., 
Hence it followed that believers in the Roman doctrine of 
Purgatory might subscribe the Articles with a good con-j 
science. Similarly, the Articles condemned '* the sacrifices 
of masses," but they did not condemn '* the sacrifice 
of the Mass." Thus the Mass might be lawfully cele-; 
brated in English Churches. Newman took the trouble to 
examine the Articles in detail from this point of view, 
and the conclusion he came to in every case supported his 
contention in a singular manner. 

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


Church of England at its word. And indeed, since 
Newman showed the way, the operation has become so 
exceedingly common that the most steady-going church- 
man hardly raises an eyebrow at it now. 

At the time, however, Newman's treatment of the 
Articles seemed to display not only a perverted super- 
subtlety of intellect, but a temper of mind that was 
fundamentally dishonest. It was then that he first 
began to be assailed by those charges of untruth fulness 
which reached their culmination more than twenty years 
later in the celebrated controversy with Charles 
Kingsley, which led to the writing of the Apologia. The 
controversy was not a very fruitful one, chiefly because 
Kingsley could no more understand the nature of 
Newman's intelligence than a subaltern in a line regiment 
can understand a Brahmin of Benares. Kingsley was 
a stout Protestant, whose hatred of Popery was, at 
bottom, simply ethical an honest, instinctive horror 
of the practices of priestcraft and the habits of super- 
stition ; and it was only natural that he should see in 
those innumerable delicate distinctions which Newman 
was perpetually drawing, and which he himself had 
not only never thought of, but could not even grasp, 
simply another manifestation of the inherent falsehood 
of Rome. But, in reality, no one, in one sense of the 
word, was more truthful than Newman. The idea of 
deceit would have been abhorrent to him ; and indeed 
it was owing to his very desire to explain what he had 
in his mind exactly and completely, with all the refine- 
ments of which his subtle brain was capable, that per- 
sons such as Kingsley were puzzled into thinking him 
dishonest. Unfortunately, however, the possibilities of 
truth and falsehood depend upon other things besides 
sincerity. A man may be of a scrupulous and im- 
peccable honesty, and yet his respect for the truth it 
cannot be denied may be insufficient. He may be, 
like the lunatic, the lover, and the poet, " of imagination 


all compact " ; he may be blessed, or cursed, with 
one of those "seething brains," one of those "shaping 
fanatasies " that " apprehend more than cool reason 
ever comprehends " ; he may be by nature incapable 
of sifting evidence, or by predilection simply indisposed 
to do so. " When we were there," wrote Newman in 
a letter to a friend after his conversion, describing a 
visit to Naples, and the miraculous circumstances con- 
nected with the liquefaction of St. Januarius's blood, 
" the feast of St. Gennaro was coming on, and the 
Jesuits were eager for us to stop they have the utmost 
confidence in the miracle and were the more eager 
because many Catholics, till they have seen it, doubt 
it Our father director here tells us that before he went 
to Naples he did not believe it. That is, they have 
vague ideas of natural means, exaggeration, etc., not 
of course imputing fraud. They say conversions often 
take place in consequence. It is exposed for the 
Octave, and the miracle continues it is not simple 
liquefaction, but sometimes it swells, sometimes boils, 
sometimes melts no one can tell what is going to take 
place. They say it is quite overcoming and people 
cannot help crying to see it. I understand that Sir 
H. Davy attended every day, and it was this extreme 
variety of the phenomenon which convinced him that 
nothing physical would account for it. Yet there is 
this remarkable fact that liquefactions of blood are 
common at Naples and unless it is irreverent to the 
Great Author of Miracles to be obstinate in the inquiry, 
the question certainly rises whether there is something 
in the air. (Mind, I don't believe there is and, 
speaking humbly, and without having seen it, think 
it a true miracle but I am arguing.) We saw the blood 
of St. Patrizia, half liquid ; i.e. liquefying, on her 
feast day. St. John Baptist's blood sometimes lique- 
fies on the 2gth of August, and did when we were 
at Naples, but we had not time to go to the church. 


We saw the liquid blood of an Oratorian Father, a good 
man, but not a saint, who died two centuries ago, I 
think ; and we saw the liquid blood of Da Ponte, the 
great and Holy Jesuit, who, I suppose, was almost a 
saint. But these instances do not account for lique- 
faction on certain days, if this is the case. But the 
most strange phenomenon is what happens at Ravello, 
a village or town above Amalfi. There is the blood 
of St. Pantaloon. It is in a vessel amid the stonework 
of the Altar it is not touched but on his feast in June 
it liquefies. And more, there is an excommunication 
against those who bring portions of the True Cross into 
the Church. Why ? Because the blood liquefies, when- 
ever it is brought. A person I know, not knowing the 
prohibition, brought in a portion and the Priest 
suddenly said, who showed the blood, ' Who has got 
the Holy Cross about him ? ' I tell you what was 
told me by a grave and religious man. It is a curious 
coincidence that in telling this to our Father Director 
here, he said, 'Why, we have a portion of St 
Pantaloon's blood at the Chiesa Nuova, and it is always 
liquid.' ' 

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


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

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

Tract No. 90 was officially condemned by the 
authorities at Oxford, and in the hubbub that followed 
the contending parties closed their ranks ; hence- 
forward any compromise between the friends and the 
enemies of the Movement was impossible. Archdeacon 
Manning was in too conspicuous a position to be able to 
remain silent ; he was obliged to declare himself, and he 
did not hesitate. In an archidiaconal charge, delivered 
within a few months of his appointment, he firmly 
repudiated the Tractarians. But the repudiation was 
not deemed sufficient, and a year later he repeated it 
with greater emphasis. Still, however, the horrid rumours 
were afloat. The Record began to investigate matters, 
and its vigilance was soon rewarded by an alarming 
discovery : the sacrament had been administered in 
Chichester Cathedral on a week-day, and " Archdeacon 
Manning, one of the most noted and determined of the 
Tractarians, had acted a conspicuous part on the 
occasion." It was clear that the only way of silencing 
these malevolent whispers was by some public demon- 
stration whose import nobody could doubt. The annual 
sermon preached on Guy Fawkes Day before the Uni- 
versity of Oxford seemed to offer the very opportunity 
that Manning required. He seized it ; got himself 
appointed preacher ; and delivered from the pulpit of i 
St. Mary's a virulently Protestant harangue. This time 
there could indeed be no doubt about the matter : 
Manning had shouted " No Popery ! " in the very citadel 
of the Movement, and every one, including Newman, 
recognised that he had finally cut himself off from his! 
old friends. Every one, that is to say, except the 


Archdeacon himself. On the day after the sermon, Manning 
walked out to the neighbouring village of Littlemore, 
where Newman was now living in retirement with a few 
chosen disciples, in the hope of being able to give a 
satisfactory explanation of what he had done. But he 
was disappointed ; for when, after an awkward interval, 
one of the disciples appeared at the door, he was informed 
that Mr. Newman was not at home. 

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


until at last Ward burst into the intoxicating merriment \ 
of the Largo al Factotum. When it was over a faint but 
persistent knocking made itself heard upon the wall ; I 
and it was only then that the company remembered that/ 
the rooms next door were Dr. Pusey's. 

The same entrain which carried Ward away when he 
sat down to a piano possessed him whenever he embarked 
on a religious discussion. " The thing that was utterly 
abhorrent to him," said one of his friends, " was to stop 
short." Given the premises, he would follow out their 
implications with the mercilessness of a medieval monk, 
and when he had reached the last limits of argument be 
ready to maintain whatever propositions he might find 
there with his dying breath. .^.Hejiad the extreme innocence 
of _a child and a mathematician! Captivated By tKe 
glittering eye of Newman, he swallowed whole the super- 
natural conception of the universe which Newman had 
evolved, accepted it as a fundamental premise, and began 
at once to deduce from it whatsoever there might be 
to be deduced. His very first deductions included irre- 
futable proofs of (i) God's particular providence for 
individuals ; (2) the real efficacy of intercessory prayer j 

(3) the reality of our communion with the saints departed ; 

(4) the constant presence and assistance of the angels of 
God. Later on he explained mathematically the im- 
portance of the Ember Days " Who can tell," he added, 
" the degree of blessing lost to us in this land by neglecting, 
as we alone of Christian Churches do neglect, these holy 
days ? " He then proceeded to convict the Reformers, 
not only of rebellion, but " for my own part I see not 
how we can avoid adding of perjury." Every day 
his arguments became more extreme, more rigorously 
exact, and more distressing to his master. Newman was 
in the position of a cautious commander-in-chief being 
hurried into an engagement against his will by a dashing 
cavalry officer. Ward forced him forward step by step 
towards no ! he could not bear it ; he shuddered and 


drew back. But it was of no avail. In vain did Keble 
and Pusey wring their hands and stretch forth their 
pleading arms to their now vanishing brother. The 
fatal moment was fast approaching. Ward at List 
published a devastating book in which he proved conclu- 
sively by a series of syllogisms that the only proper course 
for the Church of England was to repent in sackcloth and 
ashes her separation from the Communion of Rome. 
The reckless author was deprived of his degree by an 
outraged University, and a few weeks later was received 
into the Catholic Church. 

Newman, in a kind of despair, had flung himself into 
the labours of historical compilation. His views of 
history had changed since the days when as an under- 
graduate he had feasted on the worldly pages of Gibbon. 
" Revealed religion," he now thought, " furnishes facts 
to other sciences, which those sciences, left to themselves, 
would never reach. Thus, in the science of history, 
the preservation of our race in Noah's ark is an historical 
fact, which history never would arrive at without reve- 
lation." With these principles to guide him, he plunged 
with his disciples into a prolonged study of the English 
Saints. Biographies soon appeared of St. Bega, St. 
Adamnan, St. Gundleus, St. Guthlake, Brother Drithelm, 
St. Amphibalus, St Wulstan, St. Ebba, St. Neot, St. 
Ninian, and Cunibert the Hermit. \^ Their austerities, their 
virginity, and their miraculous powers were described in 
detail. \ The public learnt with astonishment that St. 
Ninian had turned a staff into a tree, that St. German 
had stopped a cock from crowing, and that a child had 
been raised from the dead to convert St. Helier The 
series has subsequently been continued by a more modern 
writer whose relation of the history of the blessed St. Mael 
contains, perhaps, even more matter for edification than 
Newman's biographies. At the time, indeed, those 
works caused considerable scandal. Clergymen denounced 
them in pamphlets. St. Cuthbert was described by his 


biographer as having " carried the jealousy of women, 
characteristic of all the saints, to an extraordinary pitch." 
An example was given : whenever he held a spiritual 
conversation with St. Ebba, he was careful to spend the 
ensuing hours of darkness " in prayer, up to his neck in 
water." " Persons who invent such tales," wrote one 
indignant commentator, "cast very grave and just sus- 
picions on the purity of their own minds. And young 
persons, who talk and think in this way, are in extreme 
danger of falling into sinful habits. As to the volumes 
before us, the authors have, in their fanatical panegyrics 
of virginity, made use of language downright profane." 

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

Meanwhile the English Roman Catholics were grow- 
ing impatient ; was the great conversion never coming, 
for which they had prayed so fervently and so long ? 
Dr. Wiseman, at the head of them, was watching and 
waiting with special eagerness His hand was held out 
under the ripening fruit ; the delicious morsel seemed to 
be trembling on its stalk ; and yet it did not fall. At 
last, unable to bear the suspense any longer, he dispatched 
to Littlemore Father Smith, an old pupil of Newman's, 
who had lately joined the Roman communion, with 
instructions that he should do his best, under cover of 


a simple visit of friendship, to discover how the land 
lay. Father Smith was received somewhat coldly, and 
the conversation ran entirely on topics which had nothing 
to do with religion. When the company separated before 
dinner, he was beginning to think that his errand had been 
useless ; but on their reassembling he suddenly noticed 
that Newman had changed his trousers, and that the 
colour of the pair which he was now wearing was grey. 
At the earliest moment, the emissary rushed back post- 
haste to Dr. Wiseman. " All is well," he exclaimed ; 
" Newman no longer considers that he is in Anglican 
orders." " Praise be to God ! " answered Dr. Wiseman. 
" But how do you know ? " Father Smith described what 
he had seen. " Oh, is that all ? My dear father, how 
can you be so foolish ? " But Father Smith was not to 
be shaken. " I know the man," he said, " and I know 
what it means. Newman will come, and he will come 

And Father Smith was right. A few weeks later, 
Newman suddenly slipped off to a priest, and all was 
over. Perhaps he would have hesitated longer still, if 
he could have foreseen how he was to pass the next thirty 
years of his unfortunate existence ; but the future was 
hidden, and all that was certain was that the past had 
gone for ever, and that his eyes would rest no more upon 
the snapdragons of Trinity. The Oxford Movement was 
now ended. The University breathed such a sigh of relief 
as usually follows the difficult expulsion of a hard piece 
of matter from a living organism, and actually began to 
attend to education. As for the Church of England, she 
had tasted blood, and it was clear that she would never 
again be content with a vegetable diet. Her clergy, how- 
ever, maintained their reputation for judicious compromise, 
for they followed Newman up to the very point beyond 
which his conclusions were logical, and, while they intoned, 
confessed, swung incense, and burnt candles with the 
exhilaration of converts, they yet managed to do so with 


a subtle nuance which showed that they had nothing to do 
with Rome. Various individuals underwent more violent , 
changes. Several had preceded Newman into the Roman 
fold ; among others an unhappy Mr. Sibthorpe, who 
subsequently changed his mind, and returned to the Church 
of his fathers, and then perhaps it was only natural 
changed his mind again. Many more followed Newman, 
and Dr. Wiseman was particularly pleased by the con- 
version of a Mr. Morris, who, as he said, was " the author 
of the essay, which won the prize, on the best method of 
proving Christianity to the Hindoos." Hurrell Froude % 
had died before Newman had read the fatal article on St. 
Augustine ; but his brother, James Anthony, together 
with Arthur Clough, the poet, went through an experience 
which was more distressing in those days than it has since 
become : they lost their faith. With this difference^ 
however, that while in Froude's case the loss of his faith 
turned out to be rather like the loss of a heavy portmanteau, 
which one afterwards discovers to have been full of old 
rags and brickbats, Clough was made so uneasy by the loss 
of his that he went on looking for it everywhere as long as 
he lived ; but somehow he never could find it. On the 
other hand, Keble and Pusey continued for the rest of 
their lives to dance in an exemplary manner upon the tight- 
rope of High Anglicanism ; in such an exemplary manner, 
indeed, that the tight-rope has its dancers still. 


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


was the Reformation, but especially the Continental 
Reformation, designed by God, in the region of final 
causes, for that purification of the Roman Church which 
it has actually realised ? " 

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

Such was the fair outward seeming of the Archdeacon's \ 
life ; but the inward reality was different. The more 
active, the more fortunate, the more full of happy promise / 
his existence became, the more persistently was his secret / 
imagination haunted by a dreadful vision the lake that 
burneth for ever with brimstone and fire. The tempta- 
tions of the Evil One are many, Manning knew ; and he | 
knew also that, for him at least, the most subtle and j 
terrible of all temptations was the temptation of worldly ! 
success. He tried to reassure himself, but it was in vain. ' 
He committed his thoughts to a diary, weighing scrupu- 
lously his every motive, examining with relentless search- 
ings into the depths of his heart. Perhaps, after all, his 


longings for preferment were merely legitimate hopes for 
"an elevation into a sphere of higher usefulness." But 
no, there was something more than that. " I do feel 
pleasure," he noted, " in honour, precedence, elevation, 
the society of great people, and all this is very shameful 
and mean." After Newman's conversion, he almost 
convinced himself that his " visions of an ecclesiastical 
future" were justified by the role that he would play as 
a " healer of the breach in the Church of England." Mr. 
"ladstone agreed with him ; but there was One higher 
than Mr. Gladstone, and did He agree ? " I am pierced 
)y anxious thoughts. God knows what my desires have 
jeen and are, and why they are crossed. ... I am 
flattering myself with a fancy about depth and reality. 
. The great question is : Is God enough for you 
no-v ? And if you are as now even to the end of life, 
will it suffice you ? . . . Certainly I would rather choose 
o be stayed on God, than to be in the thrones of the 
world and the Church. Nothing else will go into 

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

For. Against. 

i. That it comes unsought. I Not therefore to be ac- 
cepted. Such things 
are trials as well as 


2. That it is honourable. 2. Being what I am, ought 

I not therefore to de- 
cline it 

(1) as humiliation ; 

(2) as revenge on myself 
for Lincoln's Inn j 

(3) as a testimony ? 

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

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

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

1. Because of the uncertainty of our state before 


2. Because of the consciousness 

(1) of great sins past, 

(2) of great sinfulness, 

(3) of most shallow repentance. 
What shall I do ? " 

He decided to mortify himself, to read St. Thomas 


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

(1) In illness at the age of nine. 

(2) In the water. 

(3) By a runaway horse at Oxford. 

(4) By the same. 

(5) By falling nearly through the ceiling of a 


(6) Again by a fall of a horse. And I know not 

how often in shooting, riding, etc." 

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

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


Already, before his illness, these doubts had begun to 
take possession of his mind. " I am conscious to 
myself," he wrote in his Diary, " of an extensively changed 
feeling towards the Church of Rome . . . The Church 
of England seems to me to be diseased : I. Organically 
(six sub-headings). 2. Functionally (seven sub-headings) 
. . . Wherever it seems healthy it approximates the 
system of Rome." Then thoughts of the Virgin Mary 
suddenly began to assail him 

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

(2) If Enoch and Elijah were exempted from death, 

why not the B.V. from sin ? 

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

the mother ! " 

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

(i) I have felt that the Episcopate of the Church 

of England is secularised and bound down 

beyond hope. . . . 

(6) I feel as if a light had fallen upon me. My 

feeling about the Roman Church is not intel- 
lectual. I have intellectual difficulties, but 
the great moral difficulties seem melting. 

(7) Something keeps rising and saying, * You will 

end in the Roman Church.' " 

He noted altogether twenty-five of these "strange 
thoughts." His mind hovered anxiously round 
"(i) The Incarnation, 
(2) The Real Presence, 
i. Regeneration, 
ii. Eucharist, 

and (3) The Exaltation of S. M. and Saints." 
His twenty-second strange thought was as follows : 
" How do I know where I may be two years hence ? 
Where was Newman five years ago ? " 


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

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



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

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

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

" Do you know I can't help being very anxious and 
unhappy about poor Sister Harriet. I am afraid of her 
going out of her mind. She comforts herself by an 
occasional outpouring of everything to me, and I had 
a letter this morning. . . . She says Sister May has 
promised the Vicar never to talk to her or allow her to 
talk on the subject with her, and I doubt whether this 
can be good for her, because though she has lost her 


faith, she says, in the Church of England, yet she never 
thinks of what she could have faith in, and resolutely 
without enquiring into the question determines not to be 
a Roman Catholic, so that really you see she is allowing 
her mind to run adrift, and yet perfectly powerless. 

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


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

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

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


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

The questions at issue were taken very seriously by 

a large number of persons. In the first place, there was 

the question of Baptismal Regeneration itself. This is 

by no means an easy one to disentangle ; but it may be 

noted that the doctrine of Baptism includes (i) God's \ 

intention, that is to say, His purpose in electing certain ; 

I persons to eternal life an abstruse and greatly contro- ; 

! verted subject, upon which the Church of England abstains 

from strict definition ; (2) God's action, whether by 

| means of sacraments or otherwise concerning which 

| the Church of England maintains the efficacy of sacra- 

i ments, but does not formally deny that grace may be 

! given by other means, repentance and faith being present ; 

I and (3) the question whether sacramental grace is given 

instrumentally, by and at the moment of the act of 

baptism, or in consequence of an act of prevenient grace 

rendering the receiver worthy that is to say, whether 

sacramental grace in baptism is given absolutely or 

conditionally : it was over this last question that the 

dispute raged hottest in the Gorham Case. The High 


\ Church party, represented by Dr. Phillpotts, asserted that 
| the mere act of baptism conferred regeneration upon the 

I recipient and washed away his original sin. To this the 
Evangelicals, headed by Mr. Gorham, replied that, 
according to the Articles, regeneration would not follow 
unless baptism was rightly received. What, then, was 
the meaning of " rightly " ? Clearly it implied not merely 
lawful administration, but worthy reception ; worthi- 
ness, therefore, is the essence of the sacrament ; and 
worthiness means faith and repentance. Now, two 
propositions were accepted by both parties that all 
infants are born in original sin, and that original sin could 
be washed away by baptism. But how could both these 
propositions be true, argued Mr. Gorham, if it was also 
true that faith and repentance were necessary before 
baptism could come into operation at all ? How could 
an infant in arms be said to be in a state of faith and 
repentance ? How, therefore, could its original sin be 
washed away by baptism ? And yet, as every one agreed, 
washed away it was. The only solution of the difficulty 
lay in the doctrine of prevenient grace ; and Mr. Gorham 
maintained that unless God performed an act of prevenient 
grace by which the infant was endowed with faith and 
repentance, no act of baptism could be effectual ; though 
to whom, and under what conditions, prevenient grace 
was given, Mr. Gorham confessed himself unable to 
decide. The light thrown by the Bible upon the whole 
matter seemed somewhat dubious, for whereas the 
baptism of St. Peter's disciples at Jerusalem and St 
Philip's at Samaria was followed by the gift of the Spirit, 
in the case of Cornelius the sacrament succeeded the 
gift. St. Paul also was baptised ; and as for the language 
of St. John iii. 5 ; Rom. vi. 3, 4 ; I Peter iii. 21, it admits 
of more than one interpretation. There could, how- 
ever, be no doubt that the Church of England assented 
to Dr. Phillpotts' opinion ; the question was whether or 
not she excluded Mr. Gorham's. If it was decided that 


she did, it was clear that henceforward there would be 
very little peace for Evangelicals within her fold. 

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

The blow fell upon no one with greater violence than 
upon Manning. Not only was the supreme efficacy of the 
sign of the cross upon a baby's forehead one of his favourite ; 
doctrines, but up to that moment he had been convinced 
that the Royal Supremacy was a mere accident a ; 
temporary usurpation which left the spiritual dominion 
of the Church essentially untouched. But now the horrid ( 
reality rose up before him, crowned and triumphant ; , 
it was all too clear that an Act of Parliament, passed by ; 
Jews, Roman Catholics, and Dissenters, was the ultimate - 
authority which decided upon the momentous niceties 
of the Anglican faith. Mr. Gladstone, also, was deeply 

rturbed. It was absolutely necessary, he wrote, to 


** rescue and defend the conscience of the Church from 
the present hideous system." An agitation was set on 
foot, and several influential Anglicans, with Manning at 
their head, drew up and signed a formal protest against 
the Gorham Judgment Mr. Gladstone, however, pro- 
posed another method of procedure : precipitate action, 
he declared, must be avoided at all costs, and he elabo- 
rated a scheme for securing procrastination, by which 
a covenant was to bind all those who believed that an 
article of the creed had been abolished by Act of Parlia- 
ment to take no steps in any direction, nor to announce 
their intention of doing so, until a given space of time 
had elapsed. Mr. Gladstone was hopeful that some 
good might come of this though indeed he could not 
be sure. " Among others," he wrote to Manning, " I 
have consulted Robert Wilberforce and Wegg-Prosser, 
and they seemed inclined to favour my proposal. It 
might, perhaps, have kept back Lord Feilding. But he 
is like a cork." 

The proposal was certainly not favoured by Manning. 
Protests and procrastinations, approving Wegg-Prossers 
and cork-like Lord Feildings all this was feeding the 
wind and folly ; the time for action had come. ** I 
can no longer continue," he wrote to Robert Wilber- 
force, " under oath and subscription binding me to 
the Royal Supremacy in Ecclesiastical causes, being 
convinced : 

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


(2) That it has involved the Church of England in 

a separation from the universal Church, 
which separation I cannot clear of the 
character of schism. 

(3) That it has thereby suspended and prevented 

the functions of the Church of England." 
It was in vain that Robert Wilberforce pleaded, in 
vain that Mr. Gladstone urged upon his mind the 


significance of John iii. 8. 1 "I admit," Mr. Gladstone 
wrote, " that the words might in some way be satisfied 
by supposing our Lord simply to mean * the facts of 
nature are unintelligible, therefore be not afraid if revealed 
truths be likewise beyond the compass of the under- 
standing ' ; but this seems to me a meagre meaning." 
Such considerations could hold him no longer, and 
Manning executed the resignation of his office and bene- 
fice before a public notary. Soon afterwards, in the 
little Chapel off Buckingham Palace Road, kneeling 
beside Mr. Gladstone, he worshipped for the last time 
as an Anglican. Thirty years later the Cardinal told 
how, just before the Communion service commenced, he 
turned to his friend with the words : " I can no longer 
take the Communion in the Church of England." " I 
rose up, and laying my hand on Mr. Gladstone's shoulder, 
said ' Come.' It was the parting of the ways. Mr. 
Gladstone remained ; and I went my way. Mr. Gladstone 
still remains where I left him." 

On April 6th, 1851, the final step was taken : Manning 
was received into the Roman Catholic Church. Now 
at last, after the long struggle, his mind was at rest. 
" I know what you mean," he wrote to Robert 
Wilberforce, " by saying that one sometimes feels as if 
all this might turn out to be only another ' Land of 
Shadows.' I have felt it in time past, but not now. 
The 6eo\oyia from Nice to St. Thomas Aquinas, and 
the undivided unity suffused throughout the world, of 
which the Cathedra Petri is the centre, now 1800 years 
old, mightier in every power now than ever, in intellect, 
in science, in separation from the world ; and purer too, 
refined by 300 years of conflict with the modern infidel 
civilisation all this is a fact more solid than the earth." 

1 " The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound 
thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth : 
so is every one that is born of the Spirit." 

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

For the moment, however, it seemed as if the Fates 
had at last been successful in their little game of shunting 
Manning. The splendid career which he had so laboriously 
built up from the small beginnings of his Sussex curacy 
was shattered and shattered by the inevitable operation 
of his own essential needs. He was over forty, and he 
had been put back once more to the very bottom rung of 
the ladder a middle-aged neophyte with, so far as could 



be seen, no special claim to the attention of his new 
superiors. The example of Newman, a far more illustrious 
convert, was hardly reassuring : he had been relegated 
to a complete obscurity, in which he was to remain until 
extreme old age. Why should there be anything better 
in store for Manning ? Yet it so happened that within 
fourteen years of his conversion Manning was Archbishop 
of Westminster and the supreme ruler of the Romar 
Catholic community in England. This time the Fates 
gave up the unequal struggle ; they paid over their stake; 
in despair, and retired from the game. 

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

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


mortification. After a five hours' discussion, he started 
to his feet in a rage. " Then, Mr. Tierney," he exclaimed, 
" you think me insincere." The bitter draught was 
swallowed at last, and, after that, all went smoothly. 
Manning hastened to Rome, and was immediately placed 
by the Pope in the highly select Accademia Ecclesiastica, 
commonly known as the " nursery of Cardinals," for 
the purpose of completing his theological studies. When 
the course was finished, he continued, by the Pope's 
special request, to spend six months of every year in 
Rome, where he preached to the English visitors, became 
acquainted with the great personages of the Papal court, 
and enjoyed the privilege of constant interviews with the 
Holy Father. At the same time he was able to make 
himself useful in London, where Cardinal Wiseman, the 
newly-created Archbishop of Westminster, was seeking 
to reanimate the Roman Catholic community. Manning 
was not only extremely popular in the pulpit and in the 
confessional ; he was not only highly efficient as a gleaner 
of souls and of souls who moved in the best society ; he 
also possessed a familiarity with official persons and 
official ways, which was invaluable. When the question 
arose of the appointment of Catholic chaplains in the 
Crimea during the war, it was Manning who approached 
the Minister, interviewed the Permanent Secretary, and 
finally succeeded in obtaining all that was required. 
When a special Reformatory for Catholic children was 
proposed, Manning carried through the negotiation with 
the Government. When an attempt was made to remove 
Catholic children from the Workhouses, Manning was again 
indispensable. No wonder Cardinal Wiseman soon deter- 
mined to find some occupation of special importance for 
the energetic convert He had long wished to establish 
a congregation of secular priests in London particularly 
devoted to his service, and the opportunity for the ex- 
periment had clearly now arisen. The order of the 
Oblates of St. Charles was founded in Bayswater, and 


Manning was put at its head. Unfortunately no portion 
of the body of St. Charles could be obtained for the new 
community, but two relics of his blood were brought over 
to Bayswater from Milan. Almost at the same time the 
Pope signified his appreciation of Manning's efforts by 
appointing him Provost of the Chapter of Westminster 
a position which placed him at the head of the Canons of 
the diocese. 

This double promotion was the signal for the out- 
break of an extraordinary intestine struggle, which raged 
without intermission for the next seven years, and was 
only to end with the accession of Manning to the Arch- 
bishopric. The condition of the Roman Catholic com- 
munity in England was at that time a singular one. On 
the one hand the old repressive laws of the seventeenth 
century had been repealed by liberal legislation, and on 
! the other a large new body of distinguished converts had 
j entered the Roman Church as a result of the Oxford 
i Movement. It was evident that there was a " boom " 
in English Catholicism, and, in 1850, Pius IX. recognised 
| the fact by dividing up the whole of England into dioceses, 
i and placing Wiseman at the head of them as Archbishop 
| of Westminster. Wiseman's encyclical, dated " from 
without the Flaminian Gate," in which he announced the 
new departure, was greeted in England by a storm of 
indignation, culminating in the famous and furibund 
letter of Lord John Russell, then Prime Minister, against 
the insolence of the " Papal Aggression." Though the 
particular point against which the outcry was raised the 
English territorial titles of the new Roman bishops was ' 
an insignificant one, the instinct of Lord John and of the 
English people was in reality sound enough. Wiseman's 
installation did mean, in fact, a new move in the Papal 
game ; it meant an advance, if not an aggression a 
quickening in England of the long dormant energies of the 
Roman Church. That Church has never had the reputa- 
tion of being an institution to be trifled with ; and, in 


those days, the Pope was still ruling as a temporal Prince 
over the fairest provinces of Italy. Surely, if the images 
of Guy Fawkes had not been garnished, on that fifth of 
November, with triple crowns, it would have been a very 
poor compliment to His Holiness. 

But it was not only the honest Protestants of England 
who had cause to dread the arrival of the new Cardinal 
Archbishop ; there was a party among the Catholics 
themselves who viewed his installation with alarm and 
disgust. The families in which the Catholic tradition had 
been handed down uninterruptedly since the days of 
Elizabeth, which had known the pains of exile and of 
martyrdom, and which clung together, an alien and 
isolated group in the midst of English society, now began 
to feel that they were, after all, of small moment in the 
counsels of Rome. They had laboured through the 
heat of the day, but now it seemed as if the harvest was 
to be gathered in by a crowd of converts, who were pro- 
claiming on every side as something new and wonderful 
the truths which the Old Catholics, as they came to be 
called, had not only known, but for which they had 
suffered for generations. Cardinal Wiseman, it is true, 
was no convert ; he belonged to one of the oldest of the 
Catholic families ; but he had spent most of his life in 
Rome, he was out of touch with English traditions, and 
his sympathy with Newman and his followers was only 
too apparent. One of his first acts as Archbishop was to 
appoint the convert W. G. Ward, who was not even in 
holy orders, to be Professor of Theology at St. Edmund's 
College the chief seminary for young priests, in which 
the ancient traditions of Douay were still flourishing. 
Ward was an ardent Papalist and his appointment in- 
dicated clearly enough that in Wiseman's opinion there 
was too little of the Italian spirit in the English community. 
The uneasiness of the Old Catholics was becoming intense, 
when they were reassured by Wiseman's appointing as 
his coadjutor and successor his intimate friend, Dr. 


Errington, who was created on the occasion Archbishop 
of Trebizond in partibus infidellum. Not only was Dr. 
Errington an Old Catholic of the most rigid type, he was 
a man of extreme energy, whose influence was certain 
to be great ; and, in any case, Wiseman was growing old, 
so that before very long it seemed inevitable that the 
policy of the diocese would be in proper hands. Such 
was the position of affairs when, two years after Errington's 
appointment, Manning became head of the Oblates of 
St. Charles and Provost of the Chapter of West- 

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

Cardinal Wiseman was now obviously declining 
towards the grave. A man of vast physique " your 
immense," an Irish servant used respectfully to call 
him of sanguine temperament, of genial disposition, 
of versatile capacity, he seemed to have engrafted upon 
the robustness of his English nature the facile, child-like, 
and expansive qualities of the South. So far from beingX 
a Bishop Blougram (as the rumour went) he was, in j 
fact, the very antithesis of that subtle and worldly-wise / 
ecclesiastic. He had innocently looked forward all his/ 


life to the reunion of England to the See of Peter, and 
eventually had come to believe that, in God's hand, 
he was the instrument destined to bring about this 
miraculous consummation. Was not the Oxford Move- 
ment, with its flood of converts, a clear sign of the Divine 
will ? Had he not himself been the author of that 
momentous article on St. Augustine and the Donatists, 
which had finally convinced Newman that the Church 
of England was in schism ? And then had he not been 
able to set on foot a Crusade of Prayer throughout Catholic 
Europe for the conversion of England ? He awaited 
the result with eager expectation, and in the meantime 
he set himself to smooth away the hostility of his country- 
men by delivering courses of popular lectures on 
literature and archaeology. He devoted much time and 
attention to the ceremonial details of his princely office. 
His knowledge of rubric and ritual and of the symbolical 
significations of vestments has rarely been equalled, 
and he took a profound delight in the ordering and the 
performance of elaborate processions. During one of 
these functions an unexpected difficulty arose : the 
Master of the Ceremonies suddenly gave the word for 
a halt, and, on being asked the reason, replied that he 
had been instructed that moment by special revelation 
to stop the procession. The Cardinal, however, was not 
at a loss. " You may let the procession go on," he 
smilingly replied. " I have just obtained permission, 
by special revelation, to proceed with it." His leisure 
hours he spent in the writing of edifying novels, the 
composition of acrostics in Latin Verse, and in playing 
battledore and shuttlecock with his little nieces. There 
was, indeed, only one point in which he resembled Bishop 
Blougram his love of a good table. Some of Newman's 
disciples were astonished and grieved to find that he 
sat down to four courses of fish during Lent. " I am 
sorry to say," remarked one of them afterwards, " that 
there is a lobster salad side to the Cardinal." 


It was a melancholy fate which ordained that the 
last years of this comfortable, easy-going, innocent old \ 
man should be distracted and embittered by the fury 
of opposing principles and the venom of personal 
animosities. But so it was. He had fallen into the 
hands of one who cared very little for the gentle pleasures 
of repose. Left to himself, Wiseman might have com- 
promised with the Old Catholics and Dr. Errington ; 
but when Manning had once appeared upon the scene / 
all compromise became impossible. The late Arch- 
deacon of Chichester, who had understood so well and v 
practised with such careful skill the precept of the golden 
mean so dear to the heart of the Church of England, now, 
as Provost of Westminster, flung himself into the fray 
with that unyielding intensity of fervour, that passion 
for the extreme and the absolute, which is the very life- 
blood of the Church of Rome. Even the redoubtable 
Dr. Errington, short, thickset, determined, with his 
" hawk-like expression of face," as a contemporary 
described him, " as he looked at you through his blue 
spectacles," had been known to quail in the presence 
of his antagonist, with his tall and graceful figure, his 
pale ascetic features, his compressed and icy lips, his 
calm and penetrating gaze. As for the poor Cardinal, 
he was helpless indeed. Henceforward there was to be 
no paltering with that dangerous spirit of independence 
was it not almost Gallicanism ? which possessed the 
Old Catholic families of England. The supremacy of 
the Vicar of Christ must be maintained at all hazards. 
Compared with such an object, what were the claims of 
personal affection and domestic peace ? The Cardinal 
pleaded in vain ; his life-long friendship with Dr. 
Errington was plucked up by the roots, and the harmony 
of his private life was utterly destroyed. His own house- 
hold was turned against him. His favourite nephew, 
whom he had placed among the Oblates under Manning's 
special care, left the congregation and openly joined the 


party of Dr. Errington. His secretary followed suit > 
but saddest of all was the case of Monsignor Searle. 
Monsignor Searle, in the capacity of confidential man of 
affairs, had dominated over the Cardinal in private for 
years with the autocratic fidelity of a servant who has 
grown indispensable. His devotion, in fact, seemed to 
have taken the form of physical imitation, for he was 
hardly less gigantic than his master. The two were 
inseparable ; their huge figures loomed together like 
neighbouring mountains ; and on one occasion, meeting 
them in the street, a gentleman congratulated Wiseman 
on " your Eminence's fine son." Yet now even this 
companionship was broken up. The relentless Provost 
here too brought a sword. There were explosions and 
recriminations. Monsignor Searle, finding that his power 
was slipping from him, made scenes and protests, and at 
last was foolish enough to accuse Manning of peculation to 
his face ; after that it was clear that his day was over ; 
he was forced to slink snarling into the background, 
while the Cardinal shuddered through all his immensity 
and wished many times that he were already dead. 

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

But what he really found himself undertaking was 


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

The precise details of what followed are doubtful. 
It is only possible to discern with clearness, amid a vast 
cloud of official documents and unofficial correspondences 
in English, Italian, and Latin, of Papal decrees and 
voluminous scritture, of confidential reports of episcopal 
whispers and the secret agitations of Cardinals, the form 
of Manning, restless and indomitable, scouring like a 
stormy petrel the angry ocean of debate. Wiseman, 
dilatory, unbusinesslike, and infirm, was ready enough 
to leave the conduct of affairs in his hands. Nor was it 
long before Manning saw where the key of the whole 


position lay. As in the old days, at Chichester, he had 
secured the good will of Bishop Shuttleworth by culti- 
vating the friendship of Archdeacon Hare, so now, on 
this vaster scale of operations, his sagacity led him swiftly 
and unerringly up the little winding staircase in the 
Vatican and through the humble door which opened into 
the cabinet of Monsignor Talbot, the private secretary 
of the Pope. Monsignor Talbot was a priest who em- 
bodied in a singular manner, if not the highest, at least 
the most persistent traditions of the Roman Curia. He 
was a master of various arts which the practice of ages 
has brought to perfection under the friendly shadow of 
the triple tiara. He could mingle together astuteness 
and holiness without any difficulty ; he could make 
innuendoes as naturally as an ordinary man makes state- 
ments of fact ; he could apply flattery with so unsparing 
a hand that even Princes of the Church found it sufficient ; 
and, on occasion, he could ring the changes of torture on 
a human soul with a tact which called forth universal 
approbation. With such accomplishments, it could hardly 
be expected that Monsignor Talbot should be remarkable 
either for a delicate sense of conscientiousness or for an 
extreme refinement of feeling, but then it was not for those 
qualities that Manning was in search when he went up 
the winding stair. He was looking for the man who 
had the ear of Pio Nono ; and, on the other side of the 
low-arched door, he found him. Then he put forth all 
his efforts ; his success was complete ; and an alliance 
began which was destined to have the profoundest effect 
upon Manning's career, and was only dissolved when, 
many years later, Monsignor Talbot was unfortunately 
obliged to exchange his apartment in the Vatican for 
a private lunatic asylum at Passy. 

It was determined that the coalition should be ratified 
by the ruin of Dr. Errington. When the moment of crisis 
was seen to be approaching, Wiseman was summoned 
to Rome, where he began to draw up an immense 


" scrittura " containing his statement of the case. For 
months past the redoubtable energies of the Archbishop 
of Trebizond had been absorbed in a similar task. Folio 
was being piled upon folio, when a sudden blow threatened 
to put an end to the whole proceeding in a summary 
manner. The Cardinal was seized by violent illness, 
and appeared to be upon his deathbed. Manning thought 
for a moment that his labours had been in vain and that 
all was lost. But the Cardinal recovered ; Monsignolf 
Talbot used his influence as he alone knew how ; and a 
papal decree was issued by which Dr. Errington was 
" liberated " from the Coadjutorship of Westminster, tof 
gether with the right of succession to the See. 

It was a supreme act of authority a " colpo di stato 
di Dominiddio," as the Pope himself said and the blow 
to the Old Catholics was correspondingly severe. They 
found themselves deprived at one fell swoop both of 
the influence of their most energetic supporter and of 
the certainty of coming into power at Wiseman's death. 
And in the meantime Manning was redoubling his energies 
at Bayswater. Though his Oblates had been checked 
over St. Edmund's, there was still no lack of work for 
them to do. There were missions to be carried on, 
schools to be managed, funds to be collected. Several 
new churches were built ; a community of most edifying 
nuns of the Third Order of St. Francis was established ; 
and 30,000, raised from Manning's private resources 
and from those of his friends, was spent in three years. 
" I hate that man," one of the Old Catholics exclaimed ; 
" he is such a forward piece." The words were reported \ 
to Manning, who shrugged his shoulders. " Poor man," \ 
he said, " what is he made of ? Does he suppose, in 
his foolishness, that after working day and night for 
twenty years in heresy and schism, on becoming a Catholic j 
I should sit in an easy-chair and fold my hands all the rest 
of my life ? " But his secret thoughts were of a differ- 
ent caste. " I am conscious of a desire," he wrote in his 



diary, " to be in such a position (i) as I had in times 
past, (2) as my present circumstances imply, (3) as my 
friends think me fit for, (4) as I feel my own faculties 
tend to. 

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

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

Something, of course, did come to him, though it 
seemed for a moment that it would elude his grasp. 
Wiseman died, and there ensued in Rome a crisis of 
extraordinary intensity. '* Since the creation of the 
hierarchy," Monsignor Talbot wrote, " it is the greatest 
moment for the Church that I have yet seen." It was 
the duty of the Chapter of Westminster to nominate 
three candidates for succession to the Archbishopric ; 


they made one last effort, and had the temerity to place 
upon the list, besides the names of two Old Catholic 
bishops, that of Dr. Errington. It was a fatal blunder. 
Pius IX. was furious ; the Chapter had committed an 
" insulta al Papa," he exclaimed, striking his breast three 
times in his rage. " It was the Chapter that did it," 
said Manning afterwards ; but even after the Chapter's 
indiscretion, the fatal decision hung in the balance for 
weeks. " The great point of anxiety with me," wrote 
Monsignor Talbot to Manning, " is whether a Congre- 
gation will be held, or whether the Holy Father will 
perform a Pontificial act. He himself is doubting. I 
therefore say mass and pray every morning that he may 
have the courage to choose for himself, instead of sub- 
mitting the matter to a Congregation. Although the 
Cardinals are determined to reject Dr. Errington, never- 
theless I am afraid that they should select one of the 
others. You know very well that Congregations are 
guided by the documents that are placed before them ; 
it is for this reason that I should prefer the Pope's acting 

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

Monsignor Talbot's felicity was complete ; and he 


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

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

Manning himself was apparently of the same opini 

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

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





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

65 F 


ejected heir to the See of Westminster, laboured as a 
parish priest in the Isle of Man. He nursed no resent- 
ment in his heart, and, after a long and edifying life of 
peace and silence, he died in 1886, a professor of theology 
at Clifton. 

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

Since his conversion, Newman's life had been a long 
series of misfortunes and disappointments. When he 
had left the Church of England, he was its m 
distinguished, its most revered member, whose wo 
however strange, were listened to with a profound atten- 
tion, and whose opinions, however dubious, were followed 
in all their fluctuations with an eager and indeed a 
trembling respect. He entered the Church of Rome, 
and found himself forthwith an unimportant man. He 
was received at the Papal Court with a politeness which 
only faintly concealed a total lack of interest and under- 
standing. His delicate mind, with its refinements, its 
hesitations, its complexities his soft, spectacled, Oxford 
manner, with its half-effeminate diffidence such things 
were ill calculated to impress a throng of busy Cardinals 
and Bishops, whose days were spent amid the practical 
details of ecclesiastical organisation, the long-drawn invo- 
lutions of papal diplomacy, and the delicious bickerings 
of personal intrigue. And when, at last, he did succeed 
in making some impression upon these surroundings, it 
was no better ; it was worse. An uneasy suspicion 
gradually arose ; it began to dawn upon the Roman 
authorities that Dr. Newman was a man of ideas. Was 
it possible that Dr. Newman did not understand that 


ideas in Rome were, to say the least of it, out of place ij 
Apparently he did not ; nor was that all ; not content 
with having ideas, he positively seemed anxious to spread 
them. When that was known, the politeness in high 
places was seen to be wearing decidedly thin. His 
Holiness, who on Newman's arrival had graciously 
expressed the wish to see him "again and again," now, 
apparently, was constantly engaged. At first Newman 
supposed that the growing coolness was the result of 
misapprehension ; his Italian was faulty, Latin was not 
spoken at Rome, his writings had only appeared in garbled 
translations. And even Englishmen had sometimes found 
his arguments difficult to follow. He therefore determined ^ 
to take the utmost care to make his views quite clear ; ! 
his opinions upon religious probability, his distinction 
between demonstrative and circumstantial evidence, his f 
theory of the development of doctrine and the aspects j 
of ideas these and many other matters, upon which he j 
had written so much, he would now explain in the simplest / 
language. He would show that there was nothing 
dangerous in what he held, that there was a passage in 
De Lugo which supported him, that Perrone, by main- 
taining that the Immaculate Conception could be defined, 
had implicitly i admitted one of his main positions, and 
that his language about Faith had been confused, quite 
erroneously, with the fideism of M. Bautain. Cardinal 
Barnabo, Cardinal Reisach, Cardinal Antonelli, looked 
at him with their shrewd eyes and hard faces, while he 
poured into their ears which, as he had already noticed 
with distress, were large and not too clean his careful 
disquisitions j but it was all in vain ; they had clearly 
never read De Lugo or Perrone, and as for M. Bautain, 
they had never heard of him. Newman in despair fell 
back upon St. Thomas Aquinas ; but, to his horror, he 
observed that St. Thomas himself did not mean very much 
to the Cardinals. With a sinking heart, he realised at 
last the painful truth : it was not the nature of his views, 


it was his having views at all, that was objectionable. 
He had hoped to devote the rest of his life to the teaching 
of Theology ; but what sort of Theology could he teach 
which would be acceptable to such superiors ? He left 
Rome, and settled down in Birmingham as the head of 
a small community of Oratorians. He did not complain ; 
it was God's will ; it was better so. He would watch 
and pray. 

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

The years that followed showed to what extent it 


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

For the next five years Newman, unaided and ignored, 
struggled desperately, like a man in a bog, with the over- 
mastering difficulties of his task. His mind, whose native 


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

But his tribulations were not yet over. It seemed to 
be God's will that he should take part in a whole succession 
of schemes, which, no less than the project of the 
University, were to end in disillusionment and failure. 
He was persuaded by Cardinal Wiseman to undertake 
the editorship of a new English version of the Scriptures, 
which was to be a monument of Catholic scholarship 
and an everlasting glory to Mother Church. He made 
elaborate preparations ; he collected subscriptions, engaged 
contributors, and composed a long and learned pro- 
legomena to the work. It was all useless ; Cardinal 
Wiseman began to think of other things ; and the scheme 
faded imperceptibly into thin air. Then a new task 
was suggested to him. The Rambler, a Catholic periodical, 
had fallen on evil days ; would Dr. Newman come to 
the rescue, and accept the editorship ? This time he 
hesitated rather longer than usual ; he had burnt his 
ringers so often j he must be specially careful now. " I 


did all I could to ascertain God's will," he said, and he 
came to the conclusion that it was his duty to undertake 
the work. He did so, and after two numbers had appeared 
Dr. Ullathorne, the Bishop of Birmingham, called upon 
him, and gently hinted that he had better leave the paper 
alone. Its tone was not liked at Rome ; it had 
contained an article criticising St. Pius V., and, most \ 
serious of all, the orthodoxy of one of Newman's own 
essays had appeared to be doubtful. He resigned, and 
in the anguish of his heart determined never to write 
again. One of his friends asked him why he was publish- 
ing nothing. " Hannibal's elephants," he replied, " never 
could learn the goose-step." 

Newman was now an old man he was sixty-three 
years of age. What had he to look forward to ? A few 
last years of insignificance and silence. What had he 
to look back upon ? A long chronicle of wasted efforts, 
disappointed hopes, neglected possibilities, unappreciated 
powers. And now all his labours had ended by his 
being accused at Rome of lack of orthodoxy. He could 
no longer restrain his indignation, and in a letter to one 
of his lady penitents he gave vent to the bitterness of 
his soul. When his Rambler article had been complained 
of, he said, there had been some talk of calling him to 
Rome. " Call me to Rome," he burst out " what does 
that mean ? It means to sever an old man from his 
home, to subject him to intercourse with persons whose 
languages are strange to him to food and to fashions 
which are almost starvation on the one hand, and involve 
restless days and nights on the other it means to oblige 
him to dance attendance on Propaganda week after 
week and month after month it means his death. (-It 
was the punishment on Dr. Baines, 1840-41, to keep him 
at the door of Propaganda for a year.) 

" This is the prospect which I cannot but feel pro- 
bable, did I say anything which one Bishop in England 
chose to speak against and report. Others have been 


killed before me. Lucas went of his own accord indeed 
but when he got there, oh ! how much did he, as loj 
a son of the Church and the Holy See as ever was, wl 
did he suffer because Dr. Cullen was against him ? H< 
wandered (as Dr. Cullen said in a letter he published 
in a sort of triumph), he wandered from Church to Church 
without a friend, and hardly got an audience from the 
Pope. And I too should go from St. Philip to Our Lady, 
and to St. Peter and St. Paul, and to St. Laurence and to 
St. Cecilia, and, if it happened to me as to Lucas, should 
come back to die." 

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

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

he exclaims in a poem written at this time, called " Tl 
Two Worlds " 

" This gaudy world grows pale before 

The beauty of Thy face. 
-j^jj j nou ar j. seen j seems to be 

A sort of fairy ground, 
Where suns unsetting light the sky, 

And flowers and fruit abound. 

" But when Thy keener, purer beam 

Is poured upon our sight, 
It loses all its power to charm, 
And what was day is night. . . . 

" And thus, when we renounce for Thee 

Its restless aims and fears, 
The tender memories of the past, 
The hopes of coming years, 

" Poor is our sacrifice, whose eyes 

Are lighted from above ; 
We offer what we cannot keep, 
What we have ceased to love." 

Such were Newman's thoughts when an unexpected 
event occurred which produced a profound effect upon 


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

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


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

Even before his accession to the Archbishopric, 
Manning had scented a peculiar peril in Newman's Oxford 
scheme, and so soon as he came into power he privately 
determined that the author of the Apologia should never ; 
be allowed to return to his old University. Nor was 


there any lack of excellent reasons for such a decision. 
Oxford was by this time a nest of liberalism ; it was 
no fit place for Catholic youths, and they would inevitably 
be attracted there by the presence of Father Newman. 
And then, had not Father Newman's orthodoxy been 
impugned ? Had he not been heard to express opinions 
of most doubtful propriety upon the question of the 
Temporal Power ? Was it not known that he might 
almost be said to have an independent mind ? An 
influence ? Yes, he had an influence, no doubt ; but what 
a fatal kind of influence to which to subject the rising 
generation of Catholic Englishmen ! 

Such were the reflections which Manning was careful 
to pour into the receptive ear of Monsignor Talbot. That 
useful priest, at his post of vantage in the Vatican, was 
more than ever the devoted servant of the new Archbishop. 
A league, offensive and defensive, had been established 
between the two friends. " I daresay I shall have many 
opportunities to serve you in Rome," wrote Monsignor 
Talbot modestly, " and I do not think any support will 
be useless to you, especially on account of the peculiar 
character of the Pope, and the spirit which pervades 
Propaganda ; therefore I wish you to understand that 
a compact exists between us ; if you help me, I shall 
help you." And a little later he added, " I am glad you 
accept the league. As I have already done for years, 
I shall support you, and I have a hundred ways of doing 
so. A word dropped at the proper occasion works 
wonders." Perhaps it was hardly necessary to remind 
his correspondent of that. 

So far as Newman was concerned it so fell out that 
Monsignor Talbot needed no prompting. During the 
sensation caused by the appearance of the Apologia, it 
had occurred to him that it would be an excellent plan 
to secure Newman as a preacher during Lent for the 
fashionable congregation which attended his church in 
the Piazza del Popolo ; and he had accordingly written 


to invite him to Rome. His letter was unfortunately 
not a tactful one. He assured Newman that he would 
find in the Piazza del Popolo " an audience of Protestants 
more educated than could ever be the case in England," 
and " I think myself," he had added by way of extra 
inducement, " that you will derive great benefit from 
visiting Rome, and showing yourself to the Ecclesiastical 
Authorities." Newman smiled grimly at this ; he 
declared to a friend that the letter was " insolent " ; 
and he could not resist the temptation of using his sharp 

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

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

" I am, yours truly, 


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

I Yes, the man was incomprehensible, heretical, dangerous ; 
he was " uncatholic and unchristian." Monsignor Talbot 
even trembled for the position of Manning in England. 
" I am afraid that the old school of Catholics will rally 
round Newman in opposition to you and Rome. Stand 
firm, do not yield a bit in the line you have taken. As 
I have promised, I shall stand by you. You will have 
battles to fight, because every Englishman is naturally 


anti-Roman. To be Roman is to an Englishman an effort. 
Dr. Newman is more English than the English. His spirit 
must be crushed." 

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

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

Just then a long blue envelope was brought into the 

room. Newman opened it. " All is over," he said, " I 

lam not allowed to go." The envelope contained a letter 


from the Bishop announcing that, together with the formal 
permission for an Oratory at Oxford, Propaganda had 
issued a secret instruction to the effect that Newman 
himself was by no means to reside there. If he showed 
signs of doing so, he was, blandly and suavely (" blande 
suaviterque " were the words of the Latin instrument) 
to be prevented. And now the secret instruction had 
come into operation : blande suaviterque Dr. Newman's 
spirit had been crushed. 

His friends made some gallant efforts to retrieve the 
situation ; but it was in vain. Father St. John hurried 
to Rome ; and the indignant laity of England, headed by 
Lord Edward Howard, the guardian of the young Duke of 
Norfolk, seized the opportunity of a particularly virulent 
anonymous attack upon Newman to send him an address, 
in which they expressed their feeling that " every blow 
that touches you inflicts a wound upon the Catholic Church 
in this country." The only result was an outburst of 
redoubled fury upon the part of Monsignor Talbot. The 
address, he declared, was an insult to the Holy See. 
" What is the province of the laity ? " he interjected. 
;< To hunt, to shoot, to entertain. These matters they 
understand, but to meddle with ecclesiastical matters they 
have no right at all." Once more he warned Manning 
to be careful. " Dr. Newman is the most dangerous man 
in England, and you will see that he will make use of 
the laity against your Grace. You must not be afraid 
of him. It will require much prudence, but you must 
be firm. The Holy Father still places his confidence in 
you ; but if you yield and do not fight the battle of the 
Holy See against the detestable spirit growing up in 
England, he will begin to regret Cardinal Wiseman, who 
knew how to keep the laity in order." Manning had no 
thought of " yielding " ; but he pointed out to his agitated 
friend that an open conflict between himself and Newman 
would be " as great a scandal to the Church in England, 
and as great a victory to the Anglicans, as could be." He 


would act quietly, and there would be no more difficulty. 
The Bishops were united, and the Church was sound. 

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

When all was over, Manning thought that the time 
had come for a reconciliation. He made advances through 
a common friend ; what had he done, he asked, to offend 
Dr. Newman ? Letters passed, and, naturally enough, 
they only widened the breach. Newman was not the man 
to be polite. " I can only repeat," he wrote at last, " what 
I said when you last heard from me. I do not know 
whether I am on my head or my heels when I have active 
relations with you. In spite of my friendly feelings, this 
is the judgment of my intellect." " Meanwhile," he con- 
cluded, " I propose to say seven masses for your intention 
amid the difficulties and anxieties of your ecclesiastical 
duties." And Manning could only return the compliment. 

At about this time the Curate of Littlemore had a 
singular experience. As he was passing by the Church 
he noticed an old man, very poorly dressed in an old 
grey coat with the collar turned up, leaning over the lych 
1 1 gate, in floods of tears. He was apparently in great 
trouble, and his hat was pulled down over his eyes, as if 
he wished to hide his features. For a moment, however, 
he turned towards the Curate, who was suddenly struck 
by something familiar in the face. Could it be ? A 

otograph hung over the Curate's mantlepiece of the 

n who had made Littlemore famous by his sojourn 
here more than twenty years ago ; he had never seen the 
riginal ; but now, was it possible ? He looked again, 
nd he could doubt no longer. It was Dr. Newman. He 




sprang forward, with proffers of assistance. Could he be 
of any use ? " Oh no, no ! " was the reply. " Oh no, 
no ! " But the Curate felt that he could not turn away, 
and leave so eminent a character in such distress. " Was 
it not Dr. Newman he had the honour of addressing ? " 
he asked, with all the respect and sympathy at his com- 
mand. " Was there nothing that could be done ? " But 
the old man hardly seemed to understand what was being 
said to him. " Oh no, no ! " he repeated, with the tears 
streaming down his face, " Oh no, no ! ' 


MEANWHILE a remarkable problem was absorbing the 
attention of the Catholic Church. Once more, for a 
moment, the eyes of all Christendom were fixed upon 
Rome. The temporal Power of the Pope had now 
almost vanished ; but, as his worldly dominions steadily 
diminished, the spiritual pretensions of the Holy Father 

i no less steadily increased. For seven centuries the im- 
maculate conception of the Virgin had been highly pro- 

j blematical ; Pio Nono spoke, and the doctrine became 
an article of faith. A few years later, the Court of 
Rome took another step : a Syllabus Errorum was issued, 
in which all the favourite beliefs of the modern world 
the rights of democracies, the claims of science, the sanc- 
tity of free speech, the principles of toleration were 
categorically denounced, and their supporters abandoned to 
the Divine wrath. Yet it was observed that the modern 
world proceeded as before. Something more drastic 
appeared to be necessary some bold and striking measure 
(which should concentrate the forces of the faithful, and 
confound their enemies. The tremendous doctrine of 
Papal Infallibility, beloved of all good Catholics, seemed 
to offer just the opening that was required. Let that 
doctrine be proclaimed, with the assent of the whole 
Church, an article of faith, and, in the face of such an 
rmation, let the modern world do its worst ! Accord- 
ingly a General Council the first to be held since the 
Council of Trent more than 300 years before was sum- 
moned to the Vatican, for the purpose, so it was announced, 
pf providing " an adequate remedy to the disorders, 
intellectual and moral, of Christendom." The programme 



might seem a large one, even for a General Council ; but 
every one knew what it meant. 

Every one, however, was not quite of one mind. There 
were those to whom even the mysteries of Infallibility 
caused some searchings of heart. It was true, no doubt, 
that Our Lord, by saying to Peter, " Thou art Cephas, 
which is by interpretation a stone," thereby endowed that 
Apostle with the supreme and full primacy and princi- 
pality over the Universal Catholic Church ; it was equally 
certain that Peter afterwards became the Bishop of Rome j 
nor could it be doubted that the Roman Pontiff was his 
successor. Thus it followed directly that the Roman 
Pontiff was the head, heart, mind, and tongue of the 
Catholic Church ; and moreover it was plain that when 
Our Lord prayed for Peter that his faith should not fail, 
that prayer implied the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. 

All these things were obvious, and yet and yet . 

Might not the formal declaration of such truths in the 
year of grace 1870 be, to say the least of it, inopportune? 
Might it not come as an offence, as a scandal even, to those 
unacquainted with the niceties of Catholic dogma ? Such 
were the uneasy reflections of grave and learned eccle- 
siastics and theologians in England, France, and Germany. 
Newman was more than usually upset ; Monseigneur 
Dupanloup was disgusted ; and Dr. Dollinger prepared 
himself for resistance. It was clear that there would be 
a disaffected minority at the Council. 

Catholic apologists have often argued that the Pope's 
claim to infallibility implies no more than the necessar 
claim of every ruler, of every government, to the righ 
of supreme command. In England, for instance, th 
Estates of the Realm exercise an absolute authority if 
secular matters ; no one questions this authority, no one 
suggests that it is absurd or exorbitant ; in other words 
by general consent, the Estates of the Realm are, withii 
their sphere, infallible. Why, therefore, should the Pope 
within his sphere the sphere of the Catholic Church 


be denied a similar infallibility ? If there is nothing 
monstrous in an Act of Parliament laying down what all 
men shall do, why should there be anything monstrous 
in a Papal Encyclical laying down what all men shall 
believe ? The argument is simple ; in fact, it is too 
simple ; for it takes for granted the very question which 
is in dispute. Is there indeed no radical and essential 
distinction between supremacy and infallibility ? between 
the right of a Borough Council to regulate the traffic 
and the right of the Vicar of Christ to decide upon the 
qualifications for Everlasting Bliss ? There is one dis- 
tinction, at any rate, which is palpable : the decisions of 
a supreme authority can be altered ; those of an infallible 
authority cannot. A Borough Council may change its 
i traffic regulations at the next meeting ; but the Vicar 
I of Christ, when, in certain circumstances and with certain 
precautions, he has once spoken, has expressed, for all the 
ages, a part of the immutable, absolute, and eternal 
Truth. It is this that makes the papal pretensions so 
extraordinary and so enormous. It is also this that 
gives them their charm. Catholic apologists, when they 
try to tone down those pretensions and to explain them 
away, forget that it is in their very exorbitance that their 
fascination lies. If the Pope were indeed nothing more 
than a magnified Borough Councillor, we should hardly 
have heard so much of him. It is not because he satisfies 
the reason, but because he astounds it, that men abase 
bemselves before the Vicar of Christ. 

And certainly the doctrine of Papal Infallibility 
resents to the reason a sufficiency of stumbling-blocks, 
n the fourteenth century, for instance, the following 
:ase arose. John XXII. asserted in his bull " Cum inter 
lonnullos " that the doctrine of the poverty of Christ 
vas heretical. Now, according to the light of reason, 
ne of two things must follow from this either John 
CXI I. was himself a heretic or he was no Pope. For 
is predecessor, Nicholas III., had asserted in his bull 


" Exiit qui seminat " that the doctrine of the poverty 
of Christ was the true doctrine, the denial of which was 
heresy. Thus if John XXII. was right Nicholas III. was 
a heretic, and in that case Nicholas's nominations of 
Cardinals were void, and the conclave which elected John 
was illegal ; so that John was no Pope, his nominations of 
Cardinals were void, and the whole Papal succession 
vitiated. On the other hand, if John was wrong well, 
he was a heretic ; and the same inconvenient results 
followed. And, in either case, what becomes of Papal 
Infallibility ? 

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

Pius IX. himself was troubled by no doubts. " Before i 
I was Pope," he observed, " I believed in Papal Infalli- , 
bility, now I feel it." As for Manning, his certainty wa.' 1 


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

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


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

In St. Peter's, the North Transept had been screened 
off ; rows of wooden seats had been erected, covered 
with Brussels carpet ; and upon these seats sat, each 
crowned with a white mitre, the seven hundred Bishops 
in Council. Here all day long rolled forth, in sonorous 
Latin, the interminable periods of episcopal oratory ; but 
it was not here that the issue of the Council was deter- 
mined. The assembled Fathers might talk till the marbles 
of St. Peter's themselves grew weary of the reverberations ; 
the fate of the Church was decided in a very different 


manner by little knots of influential persons meeting 
quietly of a morning in the back room of some incon- 
spicuous lodging-house, by a sunset rendezvous in the 
Borghese Gardens between a Cardinal and a Diplomatist, 
by a whispered conference in an alcove at a Princess's 
evening party, with the gay world chattering all about. 
And, of course, on such momentous occasions as these, 
Manning was in his element. None knew those difficult 
ropes better than he ; none used them with a more service- 
able and yet discreet alacrity. In every juncture he 
had the right word, or the right silence ; his influence 
ramified in all directions, from the Pope's audience chamber 
to the English Cabinet. " II Diavolo del Concilio " his 
enemies called him ; and he gloried in the name. 

The real crux of the position was less ecclesiastical 
than diplomatic. The Papal Court, with its huge majority 
of Italian Bishops, could make sure enough, when it 
came to the point, of carrying its wishes through the 
Council ; what was far more dubious was the attitude 
of the foreign Governments especially those of France 
and England. The French Government dreaded a schism 
among its Catholic subjects ; it disliked the prospect of 
an extension of the influence of the Pope over the mass 
of the population of France ; and, since the very existence 
of the last remnant of the Pope's Temporal Power depended 
upon the French army, it was able to apply consider- 
able pressure upon the Vatican. The interests of England 
were less directly involved, but it happened that at this 
moment Mr. Gladstone was Prime Minister, and Mr. 
Gladstone entertained strong views upon the Infallibility 
of the Pope. His opinions upon the subject were in part 
the outcome of his friendship with Lord Acton, a historian 
to whom learning and judgment had not been granted 
in equal proportions, and who, after years of incredible 
and indeed well-nigh mythical research, had come to 
the conclusion that the Pope could err. In this Mr. 
Gladstone entirely concurred, though he did not share the 


rest of his friend's theological opinions ; for Lord Acton, 
while straining at the gnat of Infallibility, had swallowed 
the camel of the Roman Catholic Faith. " Que diable 
allait-il faire dans cette galere ? " one cannot help asking, 
as one watches that laborious and scrupulous scholar, 
that life-long enthusiast for liberty, that almost hysterical 
reviler of priestcraft and persecution, trailing his learning 
so discrepantly along the dusty Roman way. But there 
are some who know how to wear their Rome with a 
difference ; and Lord Acton was one of these. 

He was now engaged in fluttering like a moth round 
the Council, and in writing long letters to Mr. Gladstone, 
impressing upon him the gravity of the situation, and 
urging him to bring his influence to bear. If the Dogma 
were carried, he declared, no man who accepted it could 
remain a loyal subject, and Catholics would everywhere 
become " irredeemable enemies of civil and religious 
liberty." In these circumstances, was it not plainly 
incumbent upon the English Government, involved as it 
was with the powerful Roman Catholic forces in Ireland, 
to intervene ? Mr. Gladstone allowed himself to become 
convinced, and Lord Acton began to hope that his efforts 
would be successful. But he had forgotten one element in 
the situation ; he had reckoned without the Archbishop 
of Westminster. The sharp nose of Manning sniffed out 
the whole intrigue. Though he despised Lord Acton 
almost as much as he disliked him " such men," he said, 
" are all vanity : they have the inflation of German 
professors, and the ruthless talk of undergraduates " 
yet he realised clearly enough the danger of his corre- 
spondence with the Prime Minister, and immediately 
took steps to counteract it. There was a semi-official 
agent of the English Government in Rome, Mr. Odo 
Russell, and round him Manning set to work to spin his 
spider's web of delicate and clinging diplomacy. Pre- 
liminary politenesses were followed by long walks upon 
the Pincio, and the gradual interchange of more and more 


important and confidential communications. Soon poor 
Mr. Russell was little better than a fly buzzing in gossamer. 
And Manning was careful to see that he buzzed on the 
right note. In his despatches to the Foreign Secretary, 
Lord Clarendon, Mr. Russell explained in detail the true 
nature of the Council, that it was merely a meeting of a 
few Roman Catholic prelates to discuss some internal 
matters of Church discipline, that it had no political 
significance whatever, that the question of Infallibility, 
about which there had been so much random talk, was a 
purely theological question, and that, whatever decision 
might be come to on the subject, the position of Roman 
Catholics throughout the world would remain unchanged. 
Whether the effect of these affirmations upon Lord 
Clarendon was as great as Manning supposed, is some- 
what doubtful ; but it is at any rate certain that Mr. 
Gladstone failed to carry the Cabinet with him ; and 
when at last a proposal was definitely made that the 
English Government should invite the Powers of Europe 
to intervene at the Vatican, it was rejected. Manning 
always believed that this was the direct result of Mr. 
Russell's despatches, which had acted as an antidote to 
the poison of Lord Acton's letters, and thus carried the 
day. If that was so -the discretion of biographers has 
not yet entirely lifted the veil from these proceedings 
Manning had assuredly performed no small service for his 
cause. Yet his modesty would not allow him to assume 
for himself a credit which, after all, was due elsewhere ; 
and when he told the story of those days, he would add, 
with more than wonted seriousness, " It was by the 
Divine Will that the designs of His enemies were 

Meanwhile, in the North Transept of St. Peter's a 
certain amount of preliminary business had been carried 
through. Various miscellaneous points in Christian 
doctrine had been satisfactorily determined. Among 
others, the following Canons were laid down by the 


Fathers. "If any one do not accept for sacred and 
canonical the whole and every part of the Books of Holy 
Scripture, or deny that they are divinely inspired, "let hi 
be anathema." " If any one say that miracles can 
be, and therefore the accounts of them, even those i 
Holy Scriptures, must be assigned a place among fab 
and myths, or that the divine origin of the Christi 
religion cannot rightly be proved from them, let him 
anathema." *' If any one say that the doctrines of the 
Church can ever receive a sense in accordance with the 
progress of science, other than that sense which the 
Church has understood and still understands, let him be 
anathema." "If any one say that it is not possible, 
by the natural light of human reason, to acquire a certain 
knowledge of the One and True God, let him be anathema." 
In other words, it became an article of Faith that Faith 
was not necessary for a true knowledge of God. Having 
disposed of these minor matters, the Fathers found them- 
selves at last approaching the great question of Infalli- 
bility. Two main issues, it soon appeared, were before 
them : the Pope's Infallibility was admitted, ostensibly 
at least, by all ; what remained to be determined was, 

(1) whether the definition of the Pope's Infallibility was 
opportune, and (2) what the definition of the Pope's 
Infallibility was. (i) It soon became clear that the sense 
of the Council was overwhelmingly in favour of a definition. 
The Inopportunists were a small minority ; they were 
outvoted, and they were obliged to give way. It only 
remained, therefore, to come to a decision upon the 
second question what the definition should actually be. 

(2) It now became the object of the Inopportunists to 
limit the scope of the definition as much as possible, while 
the Infallibilists were no less eager to extend it. Now 
every one or nearly every one was ready to limit the 
Papal Infallibility to pronouncements ex cathedra that 
is to say, to those made by the Pope in his capacity of 
Universal Doctor ; but this only served to raise the 


ulterior, the portentous, and indeed the really crucial 
question to which of the Papal pronouncements ex 
cathedra did Infallibility adhere ? The discussions which 
followed were, naturally enough, numerous, complicated, 
and embittered, and in all of them Manning played 
a conspicuous part. For two months the Fathers de- 
liberated ; through fifty sessions they sought the guidance 
of the Holy Ghost. The wooden seats, covered though 
they were with Brussels carpet, grew harder and harder ; 
and still the mitred Councillors sat on. The Pope himself 
began to grow impatient ; for one thing, he declared, 
he was being ruined by the mere expense of lodging and 
keeping the multitude of his adherents. " Questi infalli- 
bilisti mi faranno fallire," said his Holiness. At length 
it appeared that the Inopportunists were dragging out the 
proceedings in the hope of obtaining an indefinite post- 
ponement. Then the authorities began to act ; a bishop 
was shouted down, and the closure was brought into opera- 
tion. At this point the French Government, after long 
hesitation, finally decided to intervene, and Cardinal 
Antonelli was informed that if the Definition was pro- 
ceeded with the French troops would be withdrawn from 
Rome. But the astute Cardinal judged that he could 
safely ignore the threat. He saw that Napoleon III. 
was tottering to his fall and would never risk an open 
rupture with the Vatican. Accordingly it was determined 
to bring the proceedings to a close by a final vote. Already 
the Inopportunists, seeing that the game was up, had 
shaken the dust of Rome from their feet. On July i8th, 
1870, the Council met for the last time. As the first of 
the Fathers stepped forward to declare his vote, a storm of 
thunder and lightning suddenly burst over St. Peter's. 
All through the morning the voting continued, and every 
vote was accompanied by a flash and a roar from heaven. 
Both sides, with equal justice, claimed the portent as a 
manifestation of the Divine Opinion. When the votes 
were examined, it was found that 533 were in favour of 


the proposed definition and two against it. Next day 
war was declared between France and Germany, and a 
few weeks later the French troops were withdrawn from 
Rome. Almost in the same moment the successor of 
St. Peter had lost his Temporal Power and gained 

What the Council had done was merely to assent to 
a definition of the dogma of the Infallibility of the Roman 
Pontiff which Pius IX. had issued, proprio motu, a few 
days before. The definition itself was perhaps somewhat 
less extreme than might have been expected. The Pope, 
it declared, is possessed, when he speaks ex cathedrfi, of 
" that infallibility with which the Redeemer willed that 
his Church should be endowed for defining doctrine 
regarding faith or morals." Thus it became a dogma of 
faith that a Papal definition regarding faith or morals 
is infallible ; but beyond that both the Holy Father and 
the Council maintained a judicious reserve. Over what 
other matters besides faith and morals the Papal infalli- 
bility might or might not extend still remained in doubt 
And there were further questions, no less serious, to which 
no decisive answer was then, or ever has been since, 
provided. How was it to be determined, for instance, 
which particular Papal decisions did in fact come within 
the scope of the definition ? Who was to decide what 
was or was not a matter of faith or morals ? Or precisely 
when the Roman Pontiff was speaking ex cathedrd? 
Was the famous Syllabus Errorum, for example, issued 
ex cathedrd or not ? Grave theologians have never been 
able to make up their minds. Yet to admit doubts in 
such matters as these is surely dangerous. " In duty to 
our supreme pastoral office," proclaimed the Sovereign 
Pontiff, " by the bowels of Christ we earnestly entreat all 
Christ's faithful people, and we also command them by 
the authority of God and our Saviour, that they study 
and labour to expel and eliminate errors and display the 
light of the purest faith." Well might the faithful study 


and labour to such ends ! For, while the offence remained 
ambiguous, there was no ambiguity about the penalty. 
One hair's-breadth from the unknown path of truth, one 
shadow of impurity in the mysterious light of faith and 
there shall be anathema ! anathema ! anathema ! When 
the framers of such edicts called upon the bowels of 
Christ to justify them, might they not have done well to 
have paused a little, and to have called to mind the 
counsel of another sovereign ruler, though a heretic 
Oliver Cromwell ? " Bethink ye, bethink ye, in the 
bowels of Christ, that ye may be mistaken ! " 

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

Another ulterior consequence was the appearance of 
a pamphlet by Mr. Gladstone, entitled " Vaticanism," in 
which the awful implications involved in the declaration 
of Infallibility were laid before the British public. How 
was it possible, Mr. Gladstone asked, with all the ful- 
minating accompaniments of his most agitated rhetoric, 
to depend henceforward upon the civil allegiance of Roman 
Catholics ? To this question the words of Cardinal 
Antonelli to the Austrian Ambassador might have seemed 
a sufficient reply. " There is a great difference," said his 
Eminence, " between theory and practice. No one will 
ever prevent the Church from proclaiming the great 
principles upon which its Divine fabric is based ; but, as 
regards the application of those sacred laws, the Church, 
imitating the example of its Divine Founder, is inclined to 
take into consideration the natural weaknesses of mankind." 
And, in any case, it was hard to see how the system of 
Faith, which had enabled Pope Gregory XIII. to effect, by 
the hands of English Catholics, a whole series of attempts 


to murder Queen Elizabeth, can have been rendered 
a much more dangerous engine of disloyalty by the 
Definition of 1870. But such considerations failed to 
reassure Mr. Gladstone ; the British Public was of a 
like mind ; and 145,000 copies of the pamphlet were 
sold within two months. Various replies appeared, and 
Manning was not behindhand. His share in the con- 
troversy led to a curious personal encounter. 

His conversion had come as a great shock to Mr. 
Gladstone. Manning had breathed no word of its approach 
to his old and intimate friend, and when the news reached 
him, it seemed almost an act of personal injury. '* I 
felt," Mr. Gladstone said, " as if Manning had murdered 
my mother by mistake." For twelve years the two men 
did not meet, after which they occasionally saw each 
other and renewed their correspondence. This was the 
condition of affairs when Mr. Gladstone published his 
pamphlet. As soon as it appeared Manning wrote a 
letter to the New York Herald, contradicting its con- 
clusions, and declaring that its publication was " the 
first event that has overcast a friendship of forty-five 
years." Mr. Gladstone replied to this letter in a second 
pamphlet At the close of his theological arguments, 
he added the following passage : " I feel it necessary, 
in concluding this answer, to state that Archbishop 
Manning has fallen into most serious inaccuracy in his 
letter of November I oth, where he describes my Expostu- 
lation as the first event which has overcast a friendship 
of forty-five years. I allude to the subject with regret } 
and without entering into details." Manning replied in 
a private letter. 

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

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


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

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

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

" t H. E. M." 

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

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

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


Speaking of this correspondence in after years, 
Cardinal Manning said " From the way in which 
Vlr. Gladstone alluded to the overcasting of our friend- 
hip, people might have thought that I had picked his 



IN 1875 Manning's labours received their final reward : 
he was made a Cardinal. His long and strange career, 
with its high hopes, its bitter disappointments, its 
struggles, its renunciations, had come at last to fruition 
in a Princedom of the Church. " Ask in faith and in 
perfect confidence," he himself once wrote, " and God 
will give us what we ask. You may say, ' But do you 
mean that He will give us the very thing ? ' That, God 
has not said. God has said that He will give you what- 
soever you ask ; but the form in which it will come, and 
the time in which He will give it, He keeps in His own 
power. Sometimes our prayers are answered in the very 
things which we put from us ; sometimes it may be a 
chastisement, or a loss, or a visitation against which 
our hearts rise, and we seem to see that God has not only 
forgotten us, but has begun to deal with us in severity. 
Those very things are the answers to our prayers. He 
knows what we desire, and He gives us the things which 
we ask ; but in the form which His own Divine Wisdom 
sees to be best." 

There was one to whom Manning's elevation would no 
doubt have given a peculiar satisfaction his old friend 
Monsignor Talbot. But this was not to be. That in- 
dustrious worker in the cause of Rome had been removed 
some years previously to a sequestered Home at Passy, 
whose padded walls were impervious to the rumours of 
the outer world. Pius IX. had been much afflicted by 
this unfortunate event ; he had not been able to resign 
himself to the loss of his secretary, and he had given 
orders that Monsignor Talbot's apartment in the Vatican 



should be preserved precisely as he had left it, in case 
of his return. But Monsignor Talbot never returned. 
Manning's feelings upon the subject appear to have been 
less tender than the Pope's. In all his letters, in all his 
papers, in all his biographical memoranda, not a word of 
allusion is to be found to the misfortune, nor to the death, 
of the most loyal of his adherents. Monsignor Talbot's 
name disappears suddenly and for ever like a stone cast 
into the waters. 

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

Nor was it only among his own community that his 
nergy and his experience found scope. He gradually 
!lme to play an important part in public affairs, upon 
uestions of labour, poverty, and education. He sat on 
.iloyal Commissions, and corresponded with Cabinet 
xlinisters. At last n3 philanthropic meeting at the 
guildhall was considered complete without the presence 
j Cardinal Manning. A special degree of precedence was 


accorded to him. Though the rank of a Cardinal-Arch- 
bishop is officially unknown in England, his name appeared 
in public documents as a token, it must be supposed, 
of personal consideration above the names of peers and 
bishops, and immediately below that of the Prince of 

In his private life he was secluded. The ambiguities 
of his social position and his desire to maintain intact 
the peculiar eminence of his office combined to hold him 
aloof from the ordinary gatherings of society, though 
on the rare occasions of his appearance among fashionable 
and exalted persons he carried all before him. His 
favourite haunt was the Athenaeum Club, where he sat 
scanning the newspapers, or conversing with the old 
friends of former days. He was a member, too, of that 
distinguished body, the Metaphysical Society, which met 
once a month during the palmy years of the Seventies 
to discuss, in strict privacy, the fundamental problems of 
the destiny of man. After a comfortable dinner at the 
Grosvenor Hotel, the Society, which included Professor 
Huxley and Professor Tyndall, Mr. John Morley and Sir 
James Stephen, the Duke of Argyll, Lord Tennyson, and 
Dean Church, would gather round to hear and discuss a 
paper read by one of the members upon such questions 
as "What is death?" "Is God unknowable?" or 
" The Nature of the Moral Principle." Sometimes, how- 
ever, the speculations of the Society ranged in other direc- 
tions. " I think the paper that interested me most of 
all that were ever read at our meetings," says Sir Mount- 
stuart Elphinstone Grant- Duff, " was one on * Whereir 
consists the special beauty of imperfection and decay ? ' 
in which were propounded the questions * Are not ruin; 
recognised and felt to be more beautiful than perfec 
structures ? Why are they so ? Ought they to be so ? * ' 
Unfortunately, however, the answers given to thes- 
questions by the Metaphysical Society have not beei 
recorded for the instruction of mankind. 


Manning read several papers, and Professor Huxley 
and Mr. John Morley listened with attention while he 
expressed his views upon " The Soul before and after 
Death," or explained why it is " That legitimate Authority 
is an Evidence of Truth." Yet, somehow or other, his 
Eminence never felt quite at ease in these assemblies j 
he was more at home with audiences of a different kind ; 
and we must look in other directions for the free and 
full manifestation of his speculative gifts. In a series of 
lectures, for instance, delivered in 1861 it was the first 
year of the unification of Italy upon " The Present 
Crisis of the Holy See, tested by prophecy," we catch some 
glimpses of the kind of problems which were truly con- 
genial to his mind. " In the following pages," he said, 
" I have endeavoured, but for so great a subject most 
insufficiently, to show that what is passing in our times 
is the prelude of the antichristian period of the final 
dethronement of Christendom, and of the restoration of 
society without God in the world." " My intention is," 
he continued, " to examine the present relation of the 
Church to the civil powers of the world, by the light 
of a prophecy recorded by St. Paul." This prophecy 
(2 Thess. ii. 3 to 1 1) is concerned with the coming of Anti- 
christ, and the greater part of the lectures is devoted to a 
sminute examination of this subject. There is no passage 
in Scripture, Manning pointed out, relating to the coming 
of Christ more explicit and express than those foretelling 
Antichrist ; it therefore behoved the faithful to con- 
sider the matter more fully than they are wont to do. 
In the first place, Antichrist is a person. " To deny the 
personality of Antichrist is to deny the plain testimony 
\>f Holy Scripture." And we must remember that " it is 
l law of Holy Scripture that when persons are prophesied 
>f, persons appear." Again, there was every reason to 
Relieve that Antichrist, when he did appear, would turn 
|ut to be a Jew. " Such was the opinion of St. Irenaeus, 
t. Jerome, and of the author of the work De Consumma- 


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

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

Manning went on to discuss the course of 
which would lead to the final catastrophe. But this] 


subject, he confessed, "deals with agencies so tran- 
scendent and mysterious, that all I shall venture to do 
will be to sketch in outline what the broad and luminous 
prophecies, especially of the Book of Daniel and the 
Apocalypse, set forth ; without attempting to enter 
into minute details, which can only be interpreted by the 
event." While applauding his modesty, we need follow 
Manning no further in his commentary upon those broad 
and luminous works ; except to observe that " the apostacy 
of the City of Rome from the Vicar of Christ and its 
destruction by Antichrist" was, in his opinion, certain. 
Nor was he without authority for this belief. For it was 
held by " Malvenda, who writes expressly on the subject," 
and who, besides, " states as the opinion of Ribera, Caspar 
Melus, Viegas, Suarez, Bellarmine, and Bosius that Rome 
lall apostatise from the faith." 


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

Leo XIII. was elected, and there was a great change 
in the policy of the Vatican. Liberalism became the 
order of the day. And now at last the opportunity seemed 
ripe for an act which, in the opinion of the majority of 
English Catholics, had long been due the bestowal of 
some mark of recognition from the Holy See upon the 
labours and the sanctity of Father Newman. It was 
felt that a Cardinal's hat was the one fitting reward for 
such a life, and accordingly the Duke of Norfolk, repre- 
senting the Catholic laity of England, visited Manning, 
and suggested that he should forward the proposal to the 
Vatican. Manning agreed, and then there followed a 
curious series of incidents the last encounter in the 
jarring lives of those two men. A letter was drawn up 
by Manning for the eye of the Pope, embodying the Duke 
of Norfolk's proposal ; but there was an unaccountable 
delay in the transmission of this letter ; months passed, 
and it had not reached the Holy Father. The whole matter 
would, perhaps, have dropped out of sight and been 




forgotten, in a way which had become customary when 
honours for Newman were concerned, had not the Duke 
of Norfolk himself, when he was next in Rome, ventured 
to recommend to Leo XIII. that Dr. Newman should be 
made a Cardinal. His Holiness welcomed the proposal ; 
but, he said, he could do nothing until he knew the views 
of Cardinal Manning. Thereupon the Duke of Norfolk 
wrote to Manning, explaining what had occurred ; shortly 
afterwards Manning's letter of recommendation, after a 
delay of six months, reached the Pope, and the offer of 
a Cardinalate was immediately dispatched to Newman. 

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


one official and one private, in which the following passages 
occurred : 

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

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

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

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

When Newman's eyes fell upon the announcement, he 
realised at once that a secret and powerful force was 


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

In great agitation, Newman appealed to the Duke of 
Norfolk. " As to the statement," he wrote, " of my 
refusing a Cardinal's Hat, which is in the papers, you must 
not believe it, for this reason : 

" Of course it implies that an offer has been made me, 
and I have sent an answer to it. Now I have ever under- 
stood that it is a point of propriety and honour to con- 
sider such communications sacred. This statement there- 
fore cannot come from me. Nor could it come from Rome, 
for it was made public before my answer got to Rome. 

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

" A private letter, addressed to Roman Authorities, 
is interpreted on its way and published in the English 
ilpapers. How is it possible that any one can have done 
-/this ? " 

The crushing indictment pointed straight at Manning. 
And it was true. Manning had done the impossible deed. 
Knowing what he did, with the Bishop of Birmingham's 
two letters in his pocket, he had put it about that Newman 
had refused the Hat. But a change had come over the 
(spirit of the Holy See. Things were not as they had once 
been : Monsignor Talbot was at Passy, and Pio Nono 


was where ? The Duke of Norfolk intervened once 

again ; Manning was profuse in his apologies for having 
misunderstood Newman's intentions, and hurried to the 
Pope to rectify the error. Without hesitation, the 
Sovereign Pontiff relaxed the rule of Roman residence, 
and Newman became a Cardinal. 

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

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

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

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

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

IN that gaunt and gloomy building more like a 
barracks than an Episcopal palace Archbishop's House, 
Westminster, Manning's existence stretched itself out 
into an extreme old age. As his years increased, his 
activities, if that were possible, increased too. Meetings, 
missions, lectures, sermons, articles, interviews, letters 
such things came upon him in redoubled multitudes, and 
were dispatched with an unrelenting zeal. But this was 
not all ; with age, he seemed to acquire what was almost 
a new fervour, an unaccustomed, unexpected, freeing of 
the spirit, filling him with preoccupations which he had 
hardly felt before. " They say I am ambitious," he 
noted in his diary, " but do I rest in my ambition ? " No, 
assuredly he did not rest ; but he worked now with no 
arriere pensee for the greater glory of God. A kind of 
frenzy fell upon him. Poverty, drunkenness, vice, all 
the horrors and terrors of our civilisation, seized upon 
his mind, and urged him forward to new fields of action 
and new fields of thought, The temper of his soul as- 
sumed almost a revolutionary cast. " I am a Mosaic 
Radical," he exclaimed ; and, indeed, in the exaltation 
of his energies, the incoherence of his conceptions, the 
democratic urgency of his desires, combined with his 
awe-inspiring aspect and his venerable age, it was easy 
enough to trace the mingled qualities of the patriarch, 
the prophet, and the demagogue. As, in his soiled and 
shabby garments, the old man harangued the crowds of 
Bermondsey or Peckham upon the virtues of Temperance, 
assuring them, with all the passion of conviction, as a 
final argument, that the majority of the Apostles were 



total abstainers, this Prince of the Church might have 
passed as a leader of the Salvation Army. His popularity 
was immense, reaching its height during the great Dock 
Strikes of 1889, when, after the victory of the men was 
assured, Manning was able, by his persuasive eloquence 
and the weight of his character, to prevent its being carried 
to excess. After other conciliators among whom was 
the Bishop of London had given up the task in disgust, 
the octogenarian Cardinal worked on with indefatigable 
resolution. At last, late at night, in the schools in Kirby 
Street, Bermondsey, he rose to address the strikers. An 
enthusiastic eye-witness has described the scene. " Un- 
accustomed tears glistened in the eyes of his rough and 
work-stained hearers as the Cardinal raised his hand, 
and solemnly urged them not to prolong one moment 
more than they could help the perilous uncertainty and 
the sufferings of their wives and children. Just above his 
uplifted hand was a figure of the Madonna and Child ; 
and some among the men tell how a sudden light seemed to 
swim round it as the speaker pleaded for the women and 
children. When he sat down all in the room knew that 
he had won the day, and that, so far as the Strike Com- 
mittee was concerned, the matter was at an end." 

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

When the guests were gone, and the great room was 
empty, the old man would draw himself nearer to the 
enormous fire, and review once more, for the thousandth 


time, the long adventure of his life. He would bring out 
his diaries and his memoranda, he would rearrange his 
notes, he would turn over again the yellow leaves of faded 
correspondences ; seizing his pen, he would pour out his 
comments and reflections, and fill, with an extraordinary 
solicitude, page after page with elucidations, explanations, 
justifications, of the vanished incidents of a remote past. 
He would snip with scissors the pages of ancient journals, 
and with delicate ecclesiastical fingers drop unknown 
mysteries into the flames. 

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

And then he would suddenly begin to doubt. After 
all, where was he ? What had he accomplished ? Had 
any of it been worth while ? Had he not been out of the 
world all his life ? Out of the world ! " Croker's ' Life 
and Letters,' and Hayward's ' Letters,' " he notes, " are 
so full of politics, literature, action, events, collision of 
mind with mind, and that with such a multitude of men 
in every state of life, that when I look back, it seems as 
if I had been simply useless." And again, " The complete 
isolation and exclusion from the official life of England 
in which I have lived, makes me feel as if I had done 
nothing." He struggled to console himself with the 
reflexion that all this was only " the natural order." " If 
the natural order is moved by the supernatural order, 
then I may not have done nothing. Fifty years of witness 
for God and His Truth, I hope, has not been in vain." 
But the same thoughts recurred. "In reading Macaulay's 
life I had a haunting feeling that his had been a life of 
public utility and mine a vita umbratilis, a life in the shade." 



Ah ! it was God's will. " Mine has been a life of fifty 
years out of the world as Gladstone's has been in it. The 
work of his life in this world is manifest. I hope mi 
may be in the next. I suppose our Lord called me 
of the world because He saw that I should lose my 
in it." Clearly, that was the explanation. 

And yet he remained sufficiently in the world to dis- 
charge with absolute efficiency the complex government 
of his diocese almost up to the last moment of his existence. 
Though his bodily strength gradually ebbed, the vigour 
of his mind was undismayed. At last, supported by 
cushions, he continued, by means of a dictated corre- 
spondence, to exert his accustomed rule. Only occasion- 
ally would he lay aside his work, to plunge into the yet 
more necessary duties of devotion. Never again would 
he preach ; never again would he put into practice those 
three salutary rules of his in choosing a subject for a 
sermon : " (i) asking God to guide the choice ; (2) applying 
the matter to myself ; (3) making the sign of the cross on 
my head and heart and lips in honour of the Sacred 
Mouth ; " but he could still pray ; he could turn especially 
to the Holy Ghost. " A very simple but devout person," 
he wrote in one of his latest memoranda, " asked me why 
in my first volume of sermons I said so little about the 
Holy Ghost. I was not aware of it j but I found it to be 
true. I at once resolved that I would make a reparation 
every day of my life to the Holy Ghost. This I have never 
failed to do to this day. To this I owe the light and faith 
which brought me into the true fold. I bought all the 
books I could about the Holy Ghost. I worked out the 
truths about His personality, His presence, and His office. 
This made me understand the last paragraph in the Apostles' 
Creed and made me a Catholic Christian." 

So, though Death came slowly, struggling step by 
step with that bold and tenacious spirit, when he did come 
at last the Cardinal was ready. Robed in his archi- 
episcopal vestments, his rochet, his girdle, and his mozeta, 


with the scarlet biretta on his head, and the pectoral cross 
upon his breast, he made his solemn Profession of Faith 
in the Holy Roman Church. A crowd of lesser digni- 
taries, each in the garments of his office, attended the 
ceremonial. The Bishop of Salford held up the Pontificale 
and the Bishop of Amycla bore the wax taper. The 
provost of Westminster, on his knees, read aloud the 
Profession of Faith, surrounded by the Canons of the 
Diocese. Towards those who gathered about him the 
dying man was still able to show some signs of recogni- 
tion, and even, perhaps, of affection ; yet it seemed that 
his chief preoccupation, up to the very end, was with his 
obedience to the rules prescribed by the Divine Authority. 
" I am glad to have been able to do everything in due 
order," were among his last words. " Si fort qu'on soit," 
says one of the profoundest of the observers of the human 
heart, " on peut e"prouver le besoin de s'incliner devant 
quelqu'un ou quelque chose. S'incliner devant Dieu, 
c'est toujours le moins humiliant." 

Manning died on January I4th, 1892, in the eighty- 
fifth year of his age. A few days later Mr. Gladstone 
took occasion, in a letter to a friend, to refer to his relations 
with the late Cardinal. Manning's conversion was, he 
said, " altogether the severest blow that ever befell me. 
In a late letter the Cardinal termed it a quarrel, but in 
my reply I told him it was not a quarrel, but a death ; 
and that was the truth. Since then there have been 
vicissitudes. But I am quite certain that to the last 
his personal feelings never changed ; and I believe also 
that he kept a promise made in 1851, to remember me 
before God at the most solemn moments ; a promise 
which I greatly valued. The whole subject is to me at 
once of extreme interest and of considerable restraint." 

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

The funeral was the occasion of a popular demonstration 


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



E. S. Purcell. Life of Cardinal Manning. 
A. W. Hutton. Cardinal Manning. 

J. E. C. Bodley. Cardinal Manning and Other Essays. 

F. W. Cornish. The English Church in the Nineteenth Century. 
Dean Church. The Oxford Movement. 

Sir J . T. Coleridge. Memoir of the Rev. John Keble. 

Hurrell Froude. Remains. 

Cardinal Newman. Letters and Correspondence in the English 

Church. Apologia pro Vita Sua. 
Wilfrid Ward. Life of Cardinal Newman. W. G. Ward and the 

Oxford Movement. W. G. Ward and the Catholic Revival. Life 

of Cardinal Wiseman. 
H. P. Liddon. Life of E. P. Pusey. 

Tracts for the Times, by Members of the University of Oxford. 
Lord Morley. Life of Gladstone. 
Lives of the Saints, edited by J. H. Newman. 
Herbert Paul. Life of J.A. Froude. 
Mark Pattison . A utobiography . 
T. Mozley. Letters from Rome on the Occasion of the (Ecumenical 


Lord Acton. Letters. 
H. L. Smith and V. Nash. The Siory of the Dockers' Strike. 

I'hoto. by Goodman 



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

Her family was extremely well-to-do, and connected 
by marriage with a spreading circle of other well-to-do 
families. There was a large country house in Derby- 
shire ; there was another in the New Forest ; there were 
Mayfair rooms for the London season and all its finest 
parties ; there were tours on the Continent with even 
more than the usual number of Italian operas and of 
glimpses at the celebrities of Paris. Brought up among 
such advantages, it was only natural to suppose that 
Florence would show a proper appreciation of them by 
doing her duty in that state of life unto which it had 



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

As the years passed, a restlessness began to grow upon 
her. She was unhappy, and at last she knew it Mrs. 
Nightingale, too, began to notice that there was some- 
thing wrong. It was very odd ; what could be the matter 


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

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


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

A weaker spirit would have been overwhelmed by the 
load of such distresses would have yielded or snapped. 
But this extraordinary young woman held firm, and 
fought her way to victory. With an amazing persistency, 
during the eight years that followed her rebuff over Salis- 
bury Hospital, she struggled and worked and planned. 
While superficially she was carrying on the life of a 
brilliant girl in high society, while internally she was a 
prey to the tortures of regret and of remorse, she yet 
possessed the energy to collect the knowledge and to 
undergo the experience which alone could enable her to 
do what she had determined she would do in the end. 
In secret she devoured the reports of medical commissions, 
the pamphlets of sanitary authorities, the histories of 
hospitals and homes. She spent the intervals of the 
London season in ragged schools and workhouses. When 
she went abroad with her family, she used her spare time 


so well that there was hardly a great hospital in Europe 
with which she was not acquainted, hardly a great city 
whose slums she had not passed through. She managed 
to spend some days in a convent school in Rome, and some 
weeks as a " Sceur de Charite* " in Paris. Then, while 
her mother and sister were taking the waters at Carlsbad, 
she succeeded in slipping off to a nursing institution at 
Kaiserswerth, where she remained for more than three 
months. This was the critical event of her life. The 
experience which she gained as a nurse at Kaiserswerth 
formed the foundation of all her future action and finally 
fixed her in her career. 

But one other trial awaited her. The allurements of 
the world she had brushed aside with disdain and loathing ; 
she had resisted the subtler temptation which, in her 
weariness, had sometimes come upon her, of devoting 
her baffled energies to art or literature ; the last ordeal 
appeared in the shape of a desirable young man. Hitherto, 
her lovers had been nothing to her but an added burden 

and a mockery ; but now . For a moment, she wavered. 

A new feeling swept over her a feeling which she had 
never known before, which she was never to know again. 
The most powerful and the profoundest of all the instincts 
of humanity laid claim upon her. But it rose before her, 
that instinct, arrayed how could it be otherwise ? in 
the inevitable habiliments of a Victorian marriage ; and 
she had the strength to stamp it underfoot. " I have 
an intellectual nature which requires satisfaction," she 
noted, " and that would find it in him. I have a passional 
nature which requires satisfaction, and that would find it 
in him. I have a moral, an active nature which requires 
satisfaction, and that would not find it in his life. Some- 
times I think that I will satisfy my passional nature at 
all events. ..." But no, she knew in her heart that it 
could not be. " To be nailed to a continuation and 
exaggeration of my present life ... to put it out of my 
power ever to be able to seize the chance of forming for 


myself a true and rich life " that would be a suicide. 
She made her choice, and refused what was at least a 
certain happiness for a visionary good which might never 
come to her at all. And so she returned to her old life of 
waiting and bitterness. " The thoughts and feelings that 
I have now," she wrote, " I can remember since I was 
six years old. A profession, a trade, a necessary occupa- 
tion, something to fill and employ all my faculties, I have 
always felt essential to me, I have always longed for. 
The first thought I can remember, and the last, was 
nursing work ; and in the absence of this, education 
work, but more the education of the bad than of the 
young. . . . Everything has been tried, foreign travel, 
kind friends, everything. My God ! What is to become 
of me ? " A desirable young man ? Dust and ashes ! 
What was there desirable in such a thing as that ? "In 
my thirty- first year," she noted in her diary, *' I see nothing 
desirable but death." 

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


Miss NIGHTINGALE had been a year in her nursing-home 
in Harley Street, when Fate knocked at the door. The 
Crimean War broke out ; the battle of the Alma was 
fought ; and the terrible condition of our military hos- 
pitals at Scutari began to be known in England. It 
sometimes happens that the plans of Providence are a 
little difficult to follow, but on this occasion all was 
plain j there was a perfect co-ordination of events. For 
years Miss Nightingale had been getting ready ; at last 
she was prepared experienced, free, mature, yet still 
young she was thirty-four desirous to serve, accus- 
tomed to command : at that precise moment the desperate 
need of a great nation came, and she was there to satisfy 
it. If the war had fallen a few years earlier, she would 
have lacked the knowledge, perhaps even the power, for 
such a work ; a few years later and she would, no doubt, 
have been fixed in the routine of some absorbing task, 
and moreover, she would have been growing old. Nor 
was it only the coincidence of Time that was remarkable. 
It so fell out that Sidney Herbert was at the War Office 
and in the Cabinet ; and Sidney Herbert was an intimate 
friend of Miss Nightingale's, convinced, from personal 
experience in charitable work, of her supreme capacity. 
After such premises, it seems hardly more than a matter 
of course that her letter, in which she offered her services 
for the East, and Sidney Herbert's letter, in which he 
asked for them, should actually have crossed in the post. 
Thus it all happened, without a hitch. The appointment 
was made, and even Mrs. Nightingale, overawed by the 



magnitude of the venture, could only approve. A pair 
of faithful friends offered themselves as personal atten- 
dants ; thirty-eight nurses were collected ; and within a 
week of the crossing of the letters Miss Nightingale, 
amid a great burst of popular enthusiasm, left for 

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

To what extent Dr. Manning's prayer was answered 
must remain a matter of doubt ; but this much is certain, 
that, if ever a prayer was needed, it was needed then for 
Florence Nightingale. For dark as had been the picture 
of the state of affairs at Scutari, revealed to the English 
public in the despatches of the Times correspondent and 
in a multitude of private letters, yet the reality turned 
out to be darker still. What had occurred was, in brief, 
the complete break-down of our medical arrangements at 
the seat of war. The origins of this awful failure were 
complex and manifold ; they stretched back through long 
years of peace and carelessness in England ; they could 
be traced through endless ramifications of administrative 
incapacity from the inherent faults of confused systems 
to the petty bunglings of minor officials, from the inevit- 
able ignorance of Cabinet Ministers to the fatal exactitudes 
of narrow routine. In the inquiries which followed it 
was clearly shown that the evil was in reality that worst 
of all evils one which has been caused by nothing in 
particular and for which no one in particular is to blame. 
The whole organisation of the war machine was incom- 
petent and out of date. The old Duke had sat for a 
generation at the Horse Guards repressing innovations 


with an iron hand. There was an extraordinary over- 
lapping of authorities, an almost incredible shifting of 
responsibilities to and fro. As for such a notion as the 
creation and the maintenance of a really adequate medical 
service for the army in that atmosphere of aged chaos, 
how could it have entered anybody's head ? Before the 
war, the easy-going officials at Westminster were naturally 
persuaded that all was well or at least as well as could 
be expected ; when some one, for instance, actually had the 
temerity to suggest the formation of a corps of army 
nurses, he was at once laughed out of court. When the 
war had begun, the gallant British officers in control of 
affairs had other things to think about than the petty 
details of medical organisation. Who had bothered with 
such trifles in the Peninsula ? And surely, on that occa- 
sion, we had done pretty well. Thus the most obvious 
precautions were neglected, the most necessary prepara- 
tions put off from day to day. The principal medical 
officer of the army, Dr. Hall, was summoned from India 
at a moment's notice, and was unable to visit England 
before taking up his duties at the front. And it was not 
until after the battle of the Alma, when we had been at 
war for many months, that we acquired hospital accommo- 
dation at Scutari for more than a thousand men. Errors, 
follies, and vices on the part of individuals there doubtless 
were ; but, in the general reckoning, they were of small 
account insignificant symptoms of the deep disease of 
the body politic the enormous calamity of adminis- 
trative collapse. 

Miss Nightingale arrived at Scutari a suburb of 
Constantinople, on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus 
on November 4th, 1854 ; it was ten days after the battle 
of Balaclava, and the day before the battle of Inkerman. 
The organisation of the hospitals, which had already 
given way under the stress of the battle of the Alma, 
was now to be subjected to the further pressure which 
these two desperate and bloody engagements implied. 


Great detachments of wounded were already beginning to 
pour in. The men, after receiving such summary treat- 
ment as could be given them at the smaller hospitals in 
the Crimea itself, were forthwith shipped in batches of two 
hundred across the Black Sea to Scutari. This voyage was 
in normal times one of four days and a half ; but the 
times were no longer normal, and now the transit often 
lasted for a fortnight or three weeks. It received, not 
without reason, the name of " the middle passage." 
Between, and sometimes on the decks, the wounded, the 
sick, and the dying were crowded men who had just 
undergone the amputation of limbs, men in the clutches 
of fever or of frostbite, men in the last stages of dysentery 
and cholera without beds, sometimes without blankets, 
often hardly clothed. The one or two surgeons on board 
did what they could ; but medical stores were lacking, 
and the only form of nursing available was that provided 
by a handful of invalid soldiers, who were usually them- 
selves prostrate by the end of the voyage. There was no 
other food beside the ordinary salt rations of ship diet ; 
and even the water was sometimes so stored that it was 
out of reach of the weak. For many months, the average 
of deaths during these voyages was 74 in the thousand j 
the corpses were shot out into the waters ; and who shall 
say that they were the most unfortunate ? At Scutari, 
the landing-stage, constructed with all the perverseness 
of Oriental ingenuity, could only be approached with 
great difficulty, and, in rough weather, not at all. When 
it was reached, what remained of the men in the ships 
had first to be disembarked, and then conveyed up a 
steep slope of a quarter of a mile to the nearest of the 
hospitals. The most serious cases might be put upon 
stretchers for there were far too few for all ; the rest 
were carried or dragged up the hill by such convalescent 
soldiers as could be got together, who were not too obviously 
infirm for the work. At last the journey was accom- 
plished ; slowly, one by one, living or dying, the wounded 


were carried up into the hospital. And in the hospital 
what did they find ? 

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


and the laundry was a farce. As for purely medical 
materials, the tale was no better. Stretchers, splints, 
bandages all were lacking ; and so were the most ordinary 

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

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

Miss Nightingale came, and she, at any rate, in that 
Inferno, did not abandon hope. For one thing, she 
brought material succour. Before she left London she 
had consulted Dr. Andrew Smith, the head of the Army 


Medical Board, as to whether it would be useful to take 
out stores of any kind to Scutari ; and Dr. Andrew Smith 
had told her that " nothing was needed." Even Sidney 
Herbert had given her similar assurances ; possibly, owing 
to an oversight, there might have been some delay in the 
delivery of the medical stores, which, he said, had been 
sent out from England " in profusion," but " four days 
would have remedied this." She preferred to trust her 
own instincts, and at Marseilles purchased a large quantity 
of miscellaneous provisions, which were of the utmost 
use at Scutari. She came, too, amply provided with 
money in all, during her stay in the East, about 7000 
reached her from private sources ; and, in addition, she 
was able to avail herself of another valuable means of 
help. At the same time as herself, Mr. Macdonald, of 
the Times, had arrived at Scutari, charged with the duty 
of administering the large sums of money collected through 
the agency of that newspaper in aid of the sick and 
wounded ; and Mr. Macdonald had the sense to see that 
the best use he could make of the Times Fund was to put 
it at the disposal of Miss Nightingale. " I cannot con- 
ceive," wrote an eye-witness, " as I now calmly look back 
on the first three weeks after the arrival of the wounded 
from Inkerman, how it could have been possible to have 
avoided a state of things too disastrous to contemplate, 
had not Miss Nightingale been there, with the means 
placed at her disposal by Mr. Macdonald." But the 
official view was different. What ! Was the public 
service to admit, by accepting outside charity, that it 
was unable to discharge its own duties without the assis- 
tance of private and irregular benevolence ? Never ! 
And accordingly when Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, our 
ambassador at Constantinople, was asked by Mr. Mac- 
donald to indicate how the Times Fund could best be 
employed, he answered that there was indeed one object 
to which it might very well be devoted the building of 
an English Protestant Church at Pera. 


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

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


had been unprovided for months. The sick men began 
to enjoy the use of towels and soap, knives and forks, 
combs and tooth-brushes. Dr. Hall might snort when 
he heard of it, asking, with a growl, what a soldier wanted 
with a tooth-brush ; but the good work went on. 
Eventually the whole business of purveying to the 
hospitals was, in effect, carried out by Miss Nightingale. 
She alone, it seemed, whatever the contingency, knew 
where to lay her hands on what was wanted ; she alone 
could dispense her stores with readiness j above all she 
alone possessed the art of circumventing the pernicious 
influences of official etiquette. This was her greatest 
enemy, and sometimes even she was baffled by it. On 
one occasion 27,000 shirts, sent out at her instance by the 
Home Government, arrived, were landed, and were only 
waiting to be unpacked. But the official " Purveyor " 
intervened ; " he could not unpack them," he said, 
" without a Board." Miss Nightingale pleaded in vain ; 
the sick and wounded lay half-naked shivering for want 
of clothing ; and three weeks elapsed before the Board 
released the shirts. A little later, however, on a similar 
occasion, Miss Nightingale felt that she could assert her 
own authority. She ordered a Government consignment 
to be forcibly opened, while the miserable " Purveyor " 
stood by, wringing his hands in departmental agony. 

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


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

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


Sidney Herbert, " I am now clothing the British 

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

This remarkable woman was in truth performing the 
function of an administrative chief. How had this come 


about ? Was she not in reality merely a nurse ? Was 
it not her duty simply to tend the sick ? And indeed, 
was it not as a ministering angel, a gentle " lady with a 
lamp " that she actually impressed the minds of her con- 
temporaries ? No doubt that was so ; and yet it is no 
less certain that, as she herself said, the specific business 
of nursing was " the least important of the functions 
into which she had been forced." It was clear that in 
the state of disorganisation into which the hospitals at 
Scutari had fallen the most pressing, the really vital, 
need was for something more than nursing ; it was for 
the necessary elements of civilised life the commonest 
material objects, the most ordinary cleanliness, the 
rudimentary habits of order and authority. " Oh, dear 
Miss Nightingale," said one of her party as they were 
approaching Constantinople, " when we land, let there be 
no delays, let us get straight to nursing the poor fellows ! " 
" The strongest will be wanted at the wash-tub," was 
Miss Nightingale's answer. And it was upon the wash- 
tub, and all that the wash-tub stood for, that she expended 
her greatest energies. Yet to say that is perhaps to say 
too much. For to those who watched her at work among 
the sick, moving day and night from bed to bed, with 
that unflinching courage, with that indefatigable vigilance, 
it seemed as if the concentrated force of an undivided and 
unparalleled devotion could hardly suffice for that portion 
of her task alone. Wherever, in those vast wards, suffer- 
ing was at its worst and the need for help was greatest, 
there, as if by magic, was Miss Nightingale. Her super- 
human equanimity would, at the moment of some ghastly 
operation, nerve the victim to endure and almost to hope. 
Her sympathy would assuage the pangs of dying and 
bring back to those still living something of the forgotten 
charm of life. Over and over again her untiring efforts 
rescued those whom the surgeons had abandoned as 
beyond the possibility of cure. Her mere presence brought 
with it a strange influence. A passionate idolatry spread 


among the men : they kissed her shadow as it passed. 
They did more. " Before she came," said a soldier, 
" there was cussin' and swearin', but after that it was 
as 'oly as a church." The most cherished privilege of 
the fighting man was abandoned for the sake of Miss 
Nightingale. In those "lowest sinks of human misery," 
as she herself put it, she never heard the use of one expres- 
sion "which could distress a gentlewoman." 

She was heroic ; and these were the humble tributes 
paid by those of grosser mould to that high quality. 
Certainly, she was heroic. Yet her heroism was not of 
that simple sort so dear to the readers of novels and the 
compilers of hagiologies the romantic sentimental heroism 
with which mankind loves to invest its chosen darlings : 
it was made of sterner stuff. To the wounded soldier on 
his couch of agony she might well appear in the guise 
of a gracious angel of mercy ; but the military surgeons, 
and the orderlies, and her own nurses, and the " Purveyor," 
and Dr. Hall, and even Lord Stratford himself could tell 
a different story. It was not by gentle sweetness and 
womanly self-abnegation that she had brought order out 
of chaos in the Scutari Hospitals, that, from her own 
resources, she had clothed the British Army, that she had 
spread her dominion over the serried and reluctant powers 
of the official world ; it was by strict method, by stern 
discipline, by rigid attention to detail, by ceaseless labour, 
by the fixed determination of an indomitable will. Beneath 
her cool and calm demeanour lurked fierce and passionate 
fires. As she passed through the wards in her plain 
dress, so quiet, so unassuming, she struck the casual 
observer simply as the pattern of a perfect lady ; i>ut 
the keener eye perceived something more than that the 
serenity of high deliberation in the scope of the capacious 
brow, the sign of power in the dominating curve of the 
thin nose, and the traces of a harsh and dangerous temper 
something peevish, something mocking, and yet some- 
thing precise in the small and delicate mouth. There 


was humour in the face ; but the curious watcher might 
wonder whether it was humour of a very pleasant kind ; 
might ask himself, even as he heard the laughter and 
marked the jokes with which she cheered the spirits of 
her patients, what sort of sardonic merriment this same 
lady might not give vent to, in the privacy of her chamber. 
As for her voice, it was true of it, even more than of her 
countenance, that it " had that in it one must fain call 
master." Those clear tones were in no need of emphasis : 
" I never heard her raise her voice," said one of her com- 
panions. Only, when she had spoken, it seemed as if 
nothing could follow but obedience. Once, when she had 
given some direction, a doctor ventured to remark that 
the thing could not be done. " But it must be done," 
said Miss Nightingale. A chance bystander, who heard 
the words, never forgot through all his life the irresistible 
authority of them. And they were spoken quietly very 
quietly indeed. 

Late at night, when the long miles of beds lay wrapped 
in darkness, Miss Nightingale would sit at work in her 
little room, over her correspondence. It was one of the 
most formidable of all her duties. There were hundreds 
of letters to be written to the friends and relations of 
soldiers ; there was the enormous mass of official docu- 
ments to be dealt with ; there were her own private letters 
to be answered ; and, most important of all, there was 
the composition of her long and confidential reports to 
Sidney Herbert. These were by no means official com- 
munications. Her soul, pent up all day in the restraint 
and reserve of a vast responsibility, now at last poured 
itself out in these letters with all its natural vehemence, 
like a swollen torrent through an open sluice. Here, at 
least, she did not mince matters. Here she painted in her 
darkest colours the hideous scenes which surrounded her ; 
here she tore away remorselessly the last veils still shroud- 
ing the abominable truth. Then she would fill pages 
with recommendations and suggestions, with criticisms 


of the minutest details of organisation, with elaborate 
calculations of contingencies, with exhaustive analyses 
and statistical statements piled up in breathless eagerness 
one on the top of the other. And then her pen, in the 
virulence of its volubility, would rush on to the discussion 
of individuals, to the denunciation of an incompetent 
surgeon or the ridicule of a self-sufficient nurse. Her 
sarcasm searched the ranks of the officials with the deadly 
and unsparing precision of a machine-gun. Her nick- 
names were terrible. She respected no one : Lord Strat- 
ford, Lord Raglan, Lady Stratford, Dr. Andrew Smith, 
Dr. Hall, the Commissary-General, the Purveyor she 
fulminated against them all. The intolerable futility of 
mankind obsessed her like a nightmare, and she gnashed 
her teeth against it. " I do well to be angry," was the 
burden of her cry. How many just men were there at 
Scutari ? How many who cared at all for the sick, or 
had done anything for their relief ? Were there ten ? 
Were there five ? Was there even one ? She could not 
be sure. 

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


believing that he was an emissary sent by 'Sidney Herbert 
to put her in the wrong over their dispute, she took notes 
of her conversation with him, and insisted on his signing 
them at the end of it. The young gentleman returned 
to England by the next ship. 

This quarrel with Sidney Herbert was, however, an 
exceptional incident. Alike by him, and by Lord Panmure, 
his successor at the War Office, she was firmly supported ; 
and the fact that during the whole of her stay at Scutari 
she had the Home Government at her back, was her trump 
card in her dealings with the hospital authorities. Nor 
was it only the Government that was behind her : public 
opinion in England early recognised the high importance 
of her mission, and its enthusiastic appreciation of her 
work soon reached an extraordinary height. The Queen 
herself was deeply moved. She made repeated inquiries 
as to the welfare of Miss Nightingale ; she asked to see 
her accounts of the wounded, and made her the inter- 
mediary between the throne and the troops. " Let Mrs. 
Herbert know," she wrote to the War Minister, " that I 
wish Miss Nightingale and the ladies would tell these poor 
noble, wounded, and sick men that no one takes a warmer 
interest or feels more for their sufferings or admires their 
courage and heroism more than their Queen. Day and 
night she thinks of her beloved troops. So does the 
Prince. Beg Mrs. Herbert to communicate these my 
words to those ladies, as I know that our sympathy is 
much valued by these noble fellows." The letter was 
read aloud in the wards by the Chaplain. " It is a very 
feeling letter," said the men. 

And so the months passed, and that fell winter which 
had begun with Inkerman and had dragged itself out 
through the long agony of the investment of Sebastopol, 
at last was over. In May, 1855, after six months of labour, 
Miss Nightingale could look with something like satis- 
faction at the condition of the Scutari hospitals. Had 
they done nothing more than survive the terrible strain 


which had been put upon them, it would have been a 
matter for congratulation ; but they had done much more 
than that ; they had marvellously improved. The con- 
fusion and the pressure in the wards had come to an end ; 
order reigned in them, and cleanliness ; the supplies were 
bountiful and prompt ; important sanitary works had 
been carried out, One simple comparison of figures was 
enough to reveal the extraordinary change : the rate of 
mortality among the cases treated had fallen from 42 per 
cent, to 22 per thousand. But still the indefatigable 
lady was not satisfied. The main problem had been 
solved the physical needs of the men had been provided 
for ; their mental and spiritual needs remained. She 
set up and furnished reading-rooms and recreation-rooms. 
She started classes and lectures. Officers were amazed to 
see her treating their men as if they were human beings, 
and assured her that she would only end by " spoiling the 
brutes." But that was not Miss Nightingale's opinion, 
and she was justified. The private soldier began to 
drink less, and even though that seemed impossible 
to save his pay. Miss Nightingale became a banker for 
the army, receiving and sending home large sums of money 
every month. At last, reluctantly, the Government 
followed suit, and established machinery of its own for 
the remission of money. Lord Panmure, however, re- 
mained sceptical ; " it will do no good," he pronounced ; 
*' the British soldier is not a remitting animal." But, in 
fact, during the next six months, 71,000 was sent home. 

Amid all these activities, Miss Nightingale took up 
the further task of inspecting the hospitals in the Crimea 
itself. The labour was extreme, and the conditions of 
life were almost intolerable. She spent whole days in 
the saddle, or was driven over those bleak and rocky 
heights in a baggage cart. Sometimes she stood for hours 
in the heavily falling snow, and would only reach her hut 
at dead of night after walking for miles through perilous 
ravines. Her powers of resistance seemed incredible, but 


at last they were exhausted. She was attacked by fever, 
and for a moment came very near to death. Yet she 
worked on ; if she could not move, she could at least 
write ; and write she did until her mind had left her ; 
and after it had left her, in what seemed the delirious 
trance of death itself, she still wrote. When, after many 
weeks, she was strong enough to travel, she was implored 
to return to England, but she utterly refused. She would 
not go back, she said, before the last of the soldiers had 
left Scutari. 

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


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

It was not until July, 1856 four months after the 
Declaration of Peace that Miss Nightingale left Scutari 
for England. Her reputation was now enormous, and 
the enthusiasm of the public was unbounded. The royal 
approbation was expressed by the gift of a brooch, accom- 
panied by a private letter. " You are, I know, well 
aware," wrote Her Majesty, " of the high sense I enter- 
tain of the Christian devotion which you have displayed 
during this great and bloody war, and I need hardly 
repeat to you how warm my admiration is for your services, 
which are fully equal to those of my dear and brave 
soldiers, whose sufferings you have had the privilege of 
alleviating in so merciful a manner. I am, however, 


anxious of marking my feelings in a manner which I trust 
will be agreeable to you, and therefore send you with 
this letter a brooch, the form and emblems of which 
commemorate your great and blessed work, and which 
I hope you will wear as a mark of the high approbation 
of your Sovereign ! " 

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

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


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

She arrived in England in a shattered state of health. 
The hardships and the ceaseless effort of the last two 
years had undermined her nervous system ; her heart 
was pronounced to be affected ; she suffered constantly 
from fainting-fits and terrible attacks of utter physical 
prostration. The doctors declared that one thing alone 
would save her a complete and prolonged rest. But 



that was also the one thing with which she would have 
nothing to do. She had never been in the habit of resting ; 
why should she begin now ? Now, when her opportunity 
had come at last ; now, when the iron was hot, and it 
was time to strike ? No ; she had work to do ; and, 
come what might, she would do it. The doctors protest 
in vain ; in vain her family lamented and entreated, ii 
vain her friends pointed out to her the madness of su( 
a course. Madness ? Mad possessed perhaps she wz 
A demoniac frenzy had seized upon her. As she lay u] 
her sofa, gasping, she devoured blue-books, dictated letters, 
and, in the intervals of her palpitations, cracked her 
febrile jokes. For months at a stretch she never left her 
bed. For years she was in daily expectation of death. 
But she would not rest. At this rate, the doctors assured 
her, even if she did not die, she would become an invalid 
for life. She could not help that ; there was the work 
to be done ; and, as for rest, very likely she might rest . . . 
when she had done it. 

Wherever she went, in London or in the country, in 
the hills of Derbyshire, or among the rhododendrons at 
Embley, she was haunted by a ghost. It was the spectre 
of Scutari the hideous vision of the organisation of a 
military hospital. She would lay that phantom, or she 
would perish. The whole system of the Army Medical 
Department, the education of the Medical Officer, the 
regulations of hospital procedure . . . rest? How could 
she rest while these things were as they were, while, if 
the like necessity were to arise again, the like results 
would follow ? And, even in peace and at home, what 
was the sanitary condition of the Army ? The mortality 
in the barracks was, she found, nearly double the mortality 
in civil life. " You might as well take 1 1 oo men every 
year out upon Salisbury Plain and shoot them," she said. 
After inspecting the hospitals at Chatham, she smiled 
grimly. " Yes, this is one more symptom of the system 
which, in the Crimea, put to death 16,000 men." Scutari 


had given her knowledge ; and it had given her power 
too : her enormous reputation was at her back an 
incalculable force. Other work, other duties, might lie 
before her ; but the most urgent, the most obvious, of 
all was to look to the health of the Army. 

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

But Miss Nightingale was not at the War Office, and 
for a very simple reason : she was a woman. Lord 
Panmure, however, was (though indeed the reason for 
that was not quite so simple) ; and it was upon Lord 
Panmure that the issue of Miss Nightingale's efforts for 
reform must primarily depend. That burly Scottish noble- 
man had not, in spite of his most earnest endeavours, 
had a very easy time of it as Secretary of State for War. 
He had come into office in the middle of the Sebastopol 
campaign, and had felt himself very well fitted for the 
position, since he had acquired in former days an inside 
knowledge of the Army as a Captain of Hussars. It 
was this inside knowledge which had enabled him to inform 
Miss Nightingale with such authority that " the British 
soldier is not a remitting animal." And perhaps it was 
this same consciousness of a command of his subject which 


had impelled him to write a dispatch to Lord Raglan, 
blandly informing the Commander-in-Chief in the Field 
just how he was neglecting his duties, and pointing out to 
him that if he would only try he really might do a little 
better next time. Lord Raglan's reply, calculated as it 
was to make its recipient sink into the earth, did not quite 
have that effect upon Lord Panmure, who, whatever 
might have been his faults, had never been accused of 
being supersensitive. However, he allowed the matter 
to drop ; and a little later Lord Raglan died worn out, 
some people said, by work and anxiety. He was suc- 
ceeded by an excellent red-nosed old gentleman, General 
Simpson, whom nobody has ever heard of, and who took 
Sebastopol. But Lord Panmure's relations with him 
were hardly more satisfactory than his relations with 
Lord Raglan ; for, while Lord Raglan had been too in- 
dependent, poor General Simpson erred in the opposite 
direction, perpetually asked advice, suffered from lumbago, 
doubted, his nose growing daily redder and redder, 
whether he was fit for his post, and, by alternate mails, 
sent in and withdrew his resignation. Then, too, both 
the General and the Minister suffered acutely from that 
distressingly useful new invention, the electric telegraph. 
On one occasion General Simpson felt obliged actually 
to expostulate. " I think, my Lord," he wrote, " that 
some telegraphic messages reach us that cannot be sent 
under due authority, and are perhaps unknown to you, 
although under the protection of your Lordship's name. 
For instance, I was called up last night, a dragoon having 
come express with a telegraphic message in these words, 
' Lord Panmure to General Simpson Captain Jarvis has 
been bitten by a centipede. How is he now ? ' " General 
Simpon might have put up with this, though to be sure 
it did seem "rather too trifling an affair to call for a 
dragoon to ride a couple of miles in the dark that he 
may knock up the Commander of the Army out of the 
very small allowance of sleep permitted him " ; but what 


was really more than he could bear was to find " upon 
sending in the morning another mounted dragoon to 
inquire after Captain Jarvis, four miles off, that he never 
has been bitten at all, but has had a boil, from which 
he is fast recovering." But Lord Panmure had troubles 
of his own. His favourite nephew, Captain Dowbiggin, 
was at the front, and to one of his telegrams to the Com- 
mander-in-Chief the Minister had taken occasion to append 
the following carefully qualified sentence " I recommend 
Dowbiggin to your notice, should you have a vacancy, 
and if he is fit." Unfortunately, in those early days, it 
was left to the discretion of the telegraphist to compress 
the messages which passed through his hands ; so that 
the result was that Lord Panmure's delicate appeal 
reached its destination in the laconic form of " Look after 
Dowb." The Headquarters Staff were at first extremely 
puzzled j they were at last extremely amused. The 
story spread ; and " Look after Dowb " remained for 
many years the familiar formula for describing official 
hints in favour of deserving nephews. 

And now that all this was over, now that Sebastopol 
had been, somehow or another, taken, now that peace was, 
somehow or another, made, now that the troubles of office 
might surely be expected to be at an end at last here 
was Miss Nightingale breaking in upon the scene, with 
her talk about the state of the hospitals and the necessity 
for sanitary reform. It was most irksome ; and L6rd 
Panmure almost began to wish that he was engaged upon 
some more congenial occupation discussing, perhaps, the 
constitution of the Free Church of Scotland a question 
in which he was profoundly interested. But no ; duty was 
paramount ; and he set himself, with a sigh of resignation, 
to the task of doing as little of it as he possibly could. 

" The Bison " his friends called him ; and the name 
fitted both his physical demeanour and his habit of mind. 
That large low head seemed to have been created for 
butting rather than for anything else. There he stood, 


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


Of Miss Nightingale's friends, the most important 
was Sidney Herbert. He was a man upon whom the good 
fairies seemed to have showered, as he lay in his cradle, 
all their most enviable goods. Well born, handsome, rich, 
the master of Wilton one of those great country-houses, 
clothed with the glamour of a historic past, which are the 
peculiar glory of England he possessed, besides all these 
advantages, so charming, so lively, so gentle a disposition 
that no one who had once come near him could ever be 
his enemy. He was, in fact, a man of whom it was 
difficult not to say that he was a perfect English gentleman. 
For his virtues were equal even to his good fortune. He 
was religious deeply religious : " I am more and more 
convinced every day," he wrote, when he had been for 
some years a Cabinet Minister, " that in politics, as in 
everything else, nothing can be right which is not in 
accordance with the spirit of the Gospel." No one was 
more unselfish ; he was charitable and benevolent to a 
remarkable degree ; and he devoted the whole of his life 
with an unwavering conscientiousness to the public service. 
With such a character, with such opportunities, what high 
hopes must have danced before him, what radiant visions 
of accomplished duties, of ever-increasing usefulness, of 
beneficent power, of the consciousness of disinterested 
success ! Some of those hopes and visions were, indeed, 
realised ; but, in the end, the career of Sidney Herbert 
seemed to show that, with all their generosity, there was 
some gift or other what was it ? some essential gift 
which the good fairies had withheld, and that even the 
qualities of a perfect English gentleman may be no safe- 
guard against anguish, humiliation, and defeat. 

That career would certainly have been very different 
if he had never known Miss Nightingale. The alliance 
between them which had begun with her appointment to 
Scutari, which had grown closer and closer while the war 
lasted, developed, after her return, into one of the most 
extraordinary of friendships. It was the friendship of a 


man and a woman intimately bound together by their 
devotion to a public cause ; mutual affection, of course, 
played a part in it, but it was an incidental part ; the 
whole soul of the relationship was a community of work. 
Perhaps out of England such an intimacy could hardly 
have existed an intimacy so utterly untinctured not 
only by passion itself but by the suspicion of it. For 
years Sidney Herbert saw Miss Nightingale almost daily, 
for long hours together, corresponding with her incessantly 
when they were apart ; and the tongue of scandal was 
silent ; and one of the most devoted of her admirers was 
his wife. But what made the connection still more 
remarkable was the way in which the parts that were 
played in it were divided between the two. The man 
who acts, decides, and achieves ; the woman who en- 
courages, applauds, and from a distance inspires : 
the combination is common enough ; but Miss Nightingale 
was neither an Aspasia nor an Egeria. In her case it is 
almost true to say that the roles were reversed ; the 
qualities of pliancy and sympathy fell to the man, those 
of command and initiative to the woman. There was one 
thing only which Miss Nightingale lacked in her equipment 
for public life ; she had not she never could have the 
public power and authority which belong to the successful 
politician. That power and authority Sidney Herbert 
possessed ; the fact was obvious, and the conclusions no 
less so : it was through the man that the woman must 
work her will. She took hold of him, taught him, shaped 
him, absorbed him, dominated him through and through. 
He did not resist he did not wish to resist ; his natural 
inclination lay along the same path as hers ; only that 
terrific personality swept him forward at her own fierce 
pace and with her own relentless stride. Swept him 
where to ? Ah ! Why had he ever known Miss Night- 
ingale ? If Lord Panmure was a bison, Sidney Herbert, 
no doubt, was a stag a comely, gallant creature springing 
through the forest ; but the forest is a dangerous place. 


One has the image of those wide eyes fascinated suddenly 
by something feline, something strong ; there is a pause ; 
and then the tigress has her claws in the quivering haunches ; 

and then ! 

Besides Sidney Herbert, she had other friends who, 
in a more restricted sphere, were hardly less essential to 
her. If, in her condition of bodily collapse, she were to 
accomplish what she was determined that she should 
accomplish, the attentions and the services of others 
would be absolutely indispensable. Helpers and servers 
she must have ; and accordingly there was soon formed 
about her a little group of devoted disciples upon whose 
affections and energies she could implicitly rely. Devoted, 
indeed, these disciples were, in no ordinary sense of the 
term ; for certainly she was no light task-mistress, and 
he who set out to be of use to Miss Nightingale was apt 
to find, before he had gone very far, that he was in truth 
being made use of in good earnest to the very limit of 
his endurance and his capacity. Perhaps, even beyond 
those limits ; why not ? Was she asking of others more 
than she was giving herself ? Let them look at her lying 
there pale and breathless on the couch ; could it be said 
that she spared herself? Why, then, should she spare 
others ? And it was not for her own sake that she made 
these claims. For her own sake, indeed ! No ! They 
all knew it ! it was for the sake of the work. And so 
the little band, bound body and soul in that strange 
servitude, laboured on ungrudgingly. Among the most 
faithful was her " Aunt Mai," her father's sister, who from 
the earliest days had stood beside her, who had helped 
her to escape from the thraldom of family life, who had 
been with her at Scutari, and who now acted almost the 
part of a mother to her, watching over her with infinite 
care in all the movements and uncertainties which her 
state of health involved. Another constant attendant 
was her brother-in-law, Sir Harry Verney, whom she 
found particularly valuable in parliamentary affairs. 


Arthur Clough, the poet, also a connection by marriage, 
she used in other ways. Ever since he had lost his faith 
at the time of the Oxford Movement, Clough had passed 
his life in a condition of considerable uneasiness, which 
was increased rather than diminished by the practice of 
poetry. Unable to decide upon the purpose of an existence 
whose savour had fled together with his belief in the 
Resurrection, his spirits lowered still further by ill-health, 
and his income not all that it should be, he had deter- 
mined to seek the solution of his difficulties in the United 
States of America. But, even there, the solution was 
not forthcoming ; and when, a little later, he was offered 
a post in a government department at home, he accepted 
it, came to live in London, and immediately fell under 
the influence of Miss Nightingale. Though the purpose 
of existence might be still uncertain and its nature still 
unsavoury, here, at any rate, under the eye of this inspired 
woman, was something real, something earnest : his only 
doubt was could he be of any use ? Certainly he could. 
There were a great number of miscellaneous little jobs 
which there was nobody handy to do. For instance, 
when Miss Nightingale was travelling, there were the 
railway-tickets to be taken ; and there were proof-sheets 
to be corrected ; and then there were parcels to be done 
up in brown paper, and carried to the post. Certainly 
he could be useful. And so, upon such occupations as 
these, Arthur Clough was set to work. " This that I see, 
is not all," he comforted himself by reflecting, " and this 
that I do is but little ; nevertheless it is good, though 
there is better than it." 

As time went on, her " Cabinet," as she called it, 
grew larger. Officials with whom her work brought her 
into touch and who sympathised with her objects, were 
pressed into her service ; and old friends of the Crimean 
days gathered round her when they returned to England. 
Among these the most indefatigable was Dr. Sutherland, 
a sanitary expert, who for more than thirty years acted 


as her confidential private secretary, and surrendered to 
her purposes literally the whole of his life. Thus sustained 
and assisted, thus slaved for and adored, she prepared to 
beard the Bison. 

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

The first great measure, which, supported as it was 
by the Queen, the Cabinet, and the united opinion of the 
country, it was impossible to resist, was the appointment 
of a Royal Commission to report upon the health of the 
Army. The question of the composition of the Com- 
mission then immediately arose ; and it was over this 
matter that the first hand-to-hand encounter between 
Lord Panmure and Miss Nightingale took place. They 
met, and Miss Nightingale was victorious ; Sidney Herbert 
was appointed Chairman ; and, in the end, the only member 
of the Commission opposed to her views was Dr. Andrew 
Smith. During the interview, Miss Nightingale made an 
important discovery : she found that " the Bison was 
bullyable " the hide was the hide of a Mexican buffalo, 
but the spirit was the spirit of an Alderney calf. And 
there was one thing above all others which the huge 
creature dreaded an appeal to public opinion. The 
faintest hint of such a terrible eventuality made his heart 
dissolve within him j he would agree to anything he 


would cut short his grouse-shooting he would make a 
speech in the House of Lords he would even overrule 
Dr. Andrew Smith rather than that. Miss Nightingale 
held the fearful threat in reserve she would speak out 
what she knew ; she would publish the truth to the whole 
world, and let the whole world judge between them. 
With supreme skill, she kept this sword of Damocles 
poised above the Bison's head, and more than once she 
was actually on the point of really dropping it. For his 
recalcitrancy grew and grew. The personnel of the Com- 
mission once determined upon, there was a struggle, which 
lasted for six months, over the nature of its powers. Was 
it to be an efficient body, armed with the right of full 
inquiry and wide examination, or was it to be a polite 
official contrivance for exonerating Dr. Andrew Smith ? 
The War Office phalanx closed its ranks, and fought tooth 
and nail ; but it was defeated : the Bison was bullyable. 
*' Three months from this day," Miss Nightingale had 
written at last, " I publish my experience of the Crimean 
Campaign, and my suggestions for improvement, unless 
there has been a fair and tangible pledge by that time for 
reform." Who could face that ? 

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


for the need never came ; but it formed the basis of the 
Report of the Royal Commission ; and it remains to 
this day the leading authority on the medical administra- 
tion of armies. 

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

And so the last and the deadliest struggle with the 
Bison began. Six months had been spent in coercing him 


into granting the Commission effective powers ; six more 
months were occupied by the work of the Commission ; 
and now yet another six were to pass in extorting from 
him the means whereby the recommendations of the 
Commission might be actually carried out. But, in the 
end, the thing was done. Miss Nightingale seemed indeed, 
during these months, to be upon the very brink of death. 
Accompanied by the faithful Aunt Mai, she moved from 
place to place to Hampstead, to Highgate, to Derbyshire, 
to Malvern in what appeared to be a last desperate 
effort to find health somewhere ; but she carried that 
with her which made health impossible. Her desire for 
work could now scarcely be distinguished from mania. 
At one moment she was writing a " last letter " to Sidney 
Herbert ; at the next she was offering to go out to India 
to nurse the sufferers in the Mutiny. When Dr. Suther- 
land wrote, imploring her to take a holiday, she raved. 
Rest ! " I am lying without my head, without my 
claws, and you all peck at me. It is de rigueur, d* obligation, 
like the saying something to one's hat, when one goes 
into church, to say to me all that has been said to me 
no times a day during the last three months. It is the 
obbligato on the violin, and the twelve violins all practise 
it together, like the clocks striking 12 o'clock at night 
all over London, till I say like Xavier de Maistre, Assei, 
je le satSy je ne le sais que trop. I am not a penitent ; 
but you are like the R.C. confessor, who says what is 
de rigueur. ..." Her wits began to turn, and there 
was no holding her. She worked like a slave in a mine. 
She began to believe, as she had begun to believe at 
Scutari, that none of her fellow-workers had their hearts 
in the business ; if they had, why did they not work as 
she did ? She could only see slackness and stupidity 
around her. Dr. Sutherland, of course, was grotesquely 
muddle-headed ; and Arthur Clough incurably lazy. 
Even Sidney Herbert ... oh yes, he had simplicity and 
candour and quickness of perception, no doubt ; but 


he was an eclectic ; and what could one hope for from a 
man who went away to fish in Ireland just when the 
Bison most needed bullying ? As for the Bison himself 
he had fled to Scotland, where he remained buried for 
many months. The fate of the vital recommendation 
in the Commission's Report the appointment of four 
Sub-Commissions charged with the duty of determining 
upon the details of the proposed reforms and of putting 
them into execution still hung in the balance. The 
Bison consented to everything ; and then, on a flying 
visit to London, withdrew his consent and hastily returned 
to Scotland. Then for many weeks all business was 
suspended ; he had gout gout in the hands, so that he 
could not write. " His gout was always handy," remarked 
Miss Nightingale. But eventually it was clear even to 
the Bison that the game was up, and the inevitable surrender 

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


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

But now the time had come when the Bison was to 
trouble and to be troubled no more. A vote in the House 
of Commons brought about the fall of Lord Palmerston's 
Government, and Lord Panmure found himself at liberty 
to devote the rest of his life to the Free Church of Scotland. 
After a brief interval, Sidney Herbert became Secretary 
of State for War. Great was the jubilation in the Night- 
ingale Cabinet : the day of achievement had dawned 
at last. The next two and a half years (1859-61) saw the 
introduction of the whole system of reforms for which 
Miss Nightingale had been struggling so fiercely reforms 
which make Sidney Herbert's tenure of power at the 
War Office an important epoch in the history of the 
British Army. The four Sub-Commissions, firmly estab- 
lished under the immediate control of the minister, and 
urged forward by the relentless perseverance of Miss 
Nightingale, set to work with a will. The barracks and 
the hospitals were remodelled ; they were properly venti- 
lated and warmed and lighted for the first time ; they 
were given a water supply which actually supplied water, 
and kitchens where, strange to say, it was possible to 
cook. Then the great question of the Purveyor that 
portentous functionary whose powers and whose lack of 


powers had weighed like a nightmare upon Scutari was 
taken in hand, and new regulations were laid down, 
accurately defining his responsibilities and his duties. 
One Sub- Commission reorganised the medical statistics of 
the Army. Another established in spite of the last 
convulsive efforts of the Department an Army Medical 
School. Finally the Army Medical Department itself was 
completely reorganised ; an administrative code was 
drawn up ; and the great and novel principle was estab- 
lished that it was as much a part of the duty of the 
authorities to look after the soldier's health as to look 
after his sickness. Besides this, it was at last officially 
admitted that he had a moral and intellectual side. Coffee- 
rooms and reading-rooms, gymnasiums and workshops 
were instituted. A new era did in truth appear to have 
begun. Already by 1861 the mortality in the Army had 
decreased by one half since the days of the Crimea. It 
was no wonder that even vaster possibilities began now 
to open out before Miss Nightingale. One thing was 
still needed to complete and to assure her triumphs. The 
Army Medical Department was indeed reorganised ; but 
the great central machine was still untouched. The War 
Office itself ! If she could remould that nearer to her 
heart's desire there indeed would be a victory ! And 
until that final act was accomplished, how could she be 
certain that all the rest of her achievements might not, 
by some capricious turn of Fortune's wheel a change 
of Ministry, perhaps, replacing Sidney Herbert by some 
puppet of the permanent official gang be swept to limbo 
in a moment ? 

Meanwhile, still ravenous for more and yet more work, 
her activities had branched out into new directions. The 
army in India claimed her attention. A Sanitary Com- 
mission, appointed at her suggestion, and working under 
her auspices, did for our troops there what the four Sub- 
Commissions were doing for those at home. At the same 
time, these very years which saw her laying the foundations 


of the whole modern system of medical work in the 
army, saw her also beginning to bring her knowledge, her 
influence, and her activity into the service of the country 
at large. Her Notes on Hospitals (1859) revolutionised 
the theory of hospital construction and hospital manage- 
ment. She was immediately recognised as the leading 
expert upon all the questions involved ; her advice flowed 
unceasingly and in all directions, so that there is no great 
hospital to-day which does not bear upon it the impress 
of her mind. Nor was this all. With the opening of the 
Nightingale Training School for Nurses at St. Thomas's 
Hospital (1860), she became the founder of modern 

But a terrible crisis was now fast approaching. Sidney 
Herbert had consented to undertake the root and branch 
reform of the War Office. He had sallied forth into that 
tropical jungle of festooned obstructiveness, of inter- 
twisted irresponsibilities, of crouching prejudices, of 
abuses grown stiff and rigid with antiquity, which for 
so many years to come was destined to lure reforming 
ministers to their doom. " The War Office," said Miss 
Nightingale, " is a very slow office, an enormously expensive 
office, and one in which the Minister's intentions can be 
entirely negatived by all his sub-departments, and those 
of each of the sub-departments by every other." It was 
true ; and, of course, at the first rumour of a change, the 
old phalanx of reaction was bristling with its accustomed 
spears. At its head stood no longer Dr. Andrew Smith, 
who, some time since, had followed the Bison into outer 
darkness, but a yet more formidable figure, the permanent 
Under Secretary himself, Sir Benjamin Hawes Ben 
Hawes the Nightingale cabinet irreverently dubbed him 
a man remarkable even among civil servants for adroit- 
ness in baffling inconvenient inquiries, resource in raising 
false issues, and, in short, a consummate command of all 
the arts of officially sticking in the mud. " Our scheme 
will probably result in Ben Hawes's resignation," Miss 


Nightingale said ; " and that is another of its advantages." 
Ben Hawes himself, however, did not quite see it in that 
light. He set himself to resist the wishes of the Minister 
by every means in his power. The struggle was long and 
desperate ; and, as it proceeded, it gradually became 
evident to Miss Nightingale that something was the 
matter with Sidney Herbert. What was it ? His health, 
never very strong, was, he said, in danger of collapsing 
under the strain of his work. But, after all, what is illness, 
when there is a War Office to be reorganised ? Then he 
began to talk of retiring altogether from public life. 
The doctors were consulted, and declared that, above all 
things, what was necessary was rest. Rest ! She grew 
seriously alarmed. Was it possible that, at the last 
moment, the crowning wreath of victory was to be 
snatched from her grasp ? She was not to be put aside 
by doctors ; they were talking nonsense ; the necessary 
thing was not rest but the reform of the War Office ; and, 
besides, she knew very well from her own case what one 
could do even when one was on the point of death. She 
expostulated vehemently, passionately ; the goal was so 
near, so very near ; he could not turn back now ! At 
any rate, he could not resist Miss Nightingale. A com- 
promise was arranged. Very reluctantly, he exchanged 
the turmoil of the House of Commons for the dignity of 
the House of Lords, and he remained at the War Office. 
She was delighted. " One fight more, the best and the 
last," she said. 

For several more months the fight did indeed go on. 
But the strain upon him was greater even than she 
perhaps could realise. Besides the intestine war in his 
office, he had to face a constant battle in the Cabinet 
with Mr. Gladstone a more redoubtable antagonist even 
than Ben Hawes over the estimates. His health grew 
worse and worse. He was attacked by fainting-fits ; and 
there were some days when he could only just keep himself 
going by gulps of brandy. Miss Nightingale spurred him 


forward with her encouragements and her admonitions, 
her zeal and her example. But at last his spirit began to 
sink as well as his body. He could no longer hope ; he 
could no longer desire ; it was useless, all useless ; it 
was utterly impossible. He had failed. The dreadful 
moment came when the truth was forced upon him : he 
would never be able to reform the War Office. But a yet 
more dreadful moment lay behind ; he must go to Miss 
Nightingale and tell her that he was a failure, a beaten 

" Blessed are the merciful ! " What strange ironic 
prescience had led Prince Albert, in the simplicity of 
his heart, to choose that motto for the Crimean brooch ? 
The words hold a double lesson ; and, alas ! when she 
brought herself to realise at length what was indeed the 
fact and what there was no helping, it was not in mercy 
that she turned upon her old friend. " Beaten ! " she 
exclaimed. " Can't you see that you've simply thrown 
away the game ? And with all the winning cards in 
your hands ! And so noble a game ! Sidney Herbert 
beaten ! And beaten by Ben Hawes ! It is a worse 
disgrace . . ." her full rage burst out at last, "... a 
worse disgrace than the hospitals at Scutari." 

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


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


Perhaps even he intended to go off, one of these days, 
too ? She gave him a look, and he shivered in his shoes. 
No ! she grinned sardonically ; she would always have 
Dr. Sutherland. And then she reflected that there was 
one thing more that she would always have her 

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

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



After much hesitation, she had settled down in a small 
house in South Street, where she remained for the rest of 
her life. That life was a very long one ; the dying woman 
reached her ninety-first year. Her ill-health gradually 
diminished ; the crises of extreme danger became less 
frequent, and at last altogether ceased ; she remained 
an invalid, but an invalid of a curious character an invalid 
who was too weak to walk downstairs and who worked far 
harder than most Cabinet Ministers. Her illness, what- 
ever it may have been, was certainly not inconvenient. 
It involved seclusion ; and an extraordinary, an un- 
paralleled seclusion was, it might almost have been said, 
the mainspring of Miss Nightingale's life. Lying on her 
sofa in the little upper room in South Street, she combined 
the intense vitality of a dominating woman of the world 
with the mysterious and romantic quality of a myth. 
She was a legend in her lifetime, and she knew it. She 
tasted the joys of power, like those Eastern Emperors 
whose autocratic rule was based upon invisibility, with 
the mingled satisfactions of obscurity and fame. And 
she found the machinery of illness hardly less effective as 
a barrier against the eyes of men than the ceremonial of 
a palace. Great statesmen and renowned generals were 
obliged to beg for audiences ; admiring princesses from 
foreign countries found that they must see her at her own 
time, or not at all ; and the ordinary mortal had no hope 
of ever getting beyond the downstairs sitting-room and 
Dr. Sutherland. For that indefatigable disciple did, 
indeed, never desert her. He might be impatient, he might 
be restless, but he remained. His " incurable looseness 
of thought," for so she termed it, continued at her service 
to the end. Once, it is true, he had actually ventured to 
take a holiday ; but he was recalled, and he did not repeat 
the experiment. He was wanted downstairs. There he 
sat, transacting business, answering correspondence, inter- 
viewing callers, and exchanging innumerable notes with 
the unseen power above. Sometimes word came down that 


Miss Nightingale was just well enough to see one of her 
visitors. The fortunate man was led up, was ushered, 
trembling, into the shaded chamber, and, of course, could 
never afterwards forget the interview. Very rarely, 
indeed, once or twice a year, perhaps, but nobody could 
be quite certain, in deadly secrecy, Miss Nightingale went 
out for a drive in the Park. Unrecognised, the living 
legend flitted for a moment before the common gaze. 
And the precaution was necessary ; for there were times 
when, at some public function, the rumour of her presence 
was spread abroad ; and ladies, mistaken by the crowd 
for Miss Nightingale, were followed, pressed upon, and 
vehemently supplicated " Let me touch your shawl," 
*' Let me stroke your arm " ; such was the strange adora- 
tion in the hearts of the people. That vast reserve of force 
lay there behind her ; she could use it, if she would. But 
she preferred never to use it. On occasions, she might 
hint or threaten ; she might balance the sword of Damocles 
over the head of the Bison ; she might, by a word, by a 
glance, remind some refractory minister, some unpersuad- 
able viceroy, sitting in audience with her in the little upper 
room, that she was something more than a mere sick 
woman, that she had only, so to speak, to go to the window 
and wave her handkerchief, for ... dreadful things to 
follow. But that was enough ; they understood ; the 
myth was there obvious, portentous, impalpable ; and 
so it remained to the last. 

With statesmen and governors at her beck and call, 
with her hands on a hundred strings, with mighty provinces 
at her feet, with foreign governments agog for her counsel, 
building hospitals, training nurses she still felt that she 
had not enough to do. She sighed for more worlds to 
conquer more, and yet more. She looked about her 
what was there left ? Of course ! Philosophy ! After 
the world of action, the world of thought Having set 
right the health of the British Army, she would now do 
the same good service for the religious convictions of 


mankind. She had long noticed with regret the grow- 
ing tendency towards free-thinking among artisans. With 
regret, but not altogether with surprise : the current teach- 
ing of Christianity was sadly to seek ; nay, Christianity 
itself was not without its defects. She would rectify 
these errors. She would correct the mistakes of the 
Churches ; she would point out just where Christianity 
was wrong ; and she would explain to the artisans what 
the facts of the case really were Before her departure 
for the Crimea, she had begun this work ; and now, in the 
intervals of her other labours, she completed it. Her 
" Suggestions for Thought to the Searchers after Truth 
among the Artisans of England" (1860), unravels, in the 
course of three portly volumes, the difficulties hitherto, 
curiously enough, unsolved connected with such matters 
as Belief in God, the Plan of Creation, the Origin of Evil, 
the Future Life, Necessity and Free Will, Law, and the 
Nature of Morality. The Origin of Evil, in particular, 
held no perplexities for Miss Nightingale. " We cannot 
conceive," she remarks, " that Omnipotent Righteousness 
would find satisfaction in solitary existence" This being 
so, the only question remaining to be asked is, "What 
beings should we then conceive that God would create ? " 
Now, He cannot create perfect beings, "since, essentially, 
perfection is one " ; if He did so, He would only be adding 
to Himself. Thus the conclusion is obvious : He must 
create /^perfect ones. Omnipotent Righteousness, faced 
by the intolerable impasse of a solitary existence, finds 
itself bound, by the very nature of the case, to create the 
hospitals at Scutari. Whether this argument would have 
satisfied the artisans, was never discovered, for only a very 
few copies of the book were printed for private circulation. 
One copy was sent to Mr. Mill, who acknowledged it in an 
extremely polite letter. He felt himself obliged, however, 
to confess that he had not been altogether convinced by 
Miss Nightingale's proof of the existence of God. Miss 
Nightingale was surprised and mortified ; she had thought 


better of Mr. Mill ; for surely her proof of the existence 
of God could hardly be improved upon. " A law," she had 
pointed out, " implies a lawgiver." Now the Universe is 
full of laws the law of gravitation, the law of the excluded 
middle, and many others ; hence it follows that the 
Universe has a lawgiver and what would Mr. Mill be 
satisfied with, if he was not satisfied with that ? 

Perhaps Mr. Mill might have asked why the argument 
had not been pushed to its logical conclusion. Clearly, if 
we are to trust the analogy of human institutions, we 
must remember that laws are, as a matter of fact, not 
dispensed by lawgivers, but passed by Act of Parliament. 
Miss Nightingale, however, with all her experience of public 
life, never stopped to consider the question whether God 
might not be a Limited Monarchy. 

Yet her conception of God was certainly not orthodox. 
She felt towards Him as she might have felt towards a 
glorified sanitary engineer ; and in some of her speculations 
she seems hardly to distinguish between the Deity and the 
Drains. As one turns over these singular pages, one has 
the impression that Miss Nightingale has got the Almighty 
too into her clutches, and that, if He is not careful, she will 
kill Him with overwork. 

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


more to instruct the artisans upon the nature of Omni- 
potent Righteousness. 

Her mind was, indeed, better qualified to dissect the 
concrete and distasteful fruits of actual life than to 
construct a coherent system of abstract philosophy. In 
spite of her respect for Law, she was never at home with 
a generalisation. Thus, though the great achievement of 
her life lay in the immense impetus which she gave to the 
scientific treatment of sickness, a true comprehension of 
the scientific method itself was alien to her spirit. Like 
most great men of action perhaps like all she was 
simply an empiricist. She believed in what she saw, 
and she acted accordingly ; beyond that she would not 
go. She had found in Scutari that fresh air and light 
played an effective part in the prevention of the maladies 
with which she had to deal ; and that was enough for her ; 
she would not inquire further ; what were the general 
principles underlying that fact or even whether there 
were any she refused to consider. Years after the 
discoveries of Pasteur and Lister, she laughed at what 
she called the "germ-fetish." There was no such thing 
as " infection " ; she had never seen it, therefore it did not 
exist. But she had seen the good effects of fresh air ; 
therefore there could be no doubt about them ; and 
therefore it was essential that the bedrooms of patients 
should be well ventilated. Such was her doctrine ; and 
in those days of hermetically sealed windows it was a 
very valuable one. But it was a purely empirical doctrine, 
and thus it led to some unfortunate results. When, for 
instance, her influence in India was at its height, she issued 
orders that all hospital windows should be invariably kept 
open. The authorities, who knew what an open window 
in the hot weather meant, protested, but in vain ; Miss 
Nightingale was incredulous. She knew nothing of the 
hot weather, but she did know the value of fresh air from 
personal experience ; the authorities were talking nonsense ; 
and the windows must be kept open all the year round. 


There was a great outcry from all the doctors in India, 
but she was firm ; and for a moment it seemed possible 
that her terrible commands would have to be put into 
execution. Lord Lawrence, however, was Viceroy, and 
he was able to intimate to Miss Nightingale, with sufficient 
authority, that he himself had decided upon the ques- 
tion, and that his decision must stand, even against her 
own. Upon that, she gave way, but reluctantly and 
quite unconvinced ; she was only puzzled by the un- 
expected weakness of Lord Lawrence. No doubt, if she 
had lived to-day, and if her experience had lain, not among 
cholera cases at Scutari, but among yellow-fever cases in 
Panama, she would have declared fresh air a fetish, and 
would have maintained to her dying day that the only really 
effective way of dealing with disease was by the destruction 
of mosquitoes. 

Yet her mind, so positive, so realistic, so ultra-practical, 
had its singular revulsions, its mysterious moods of mys- 
ticism and of doubt. At times, lying sleepless in the early 
hours, she fell into long strange agonised meditations, 
and then, seizing a pencil, she would commit to paper the 
confessions of her soul. The morbid longings of her pre- 
Crimean days came over her once more ; she filled page 
after page with self-examination, self-criticism, self- 
surrender. " O Father," she wrote, " I submit, I resign 
myself, I accept with all my heart this stretching out of 
Thy hand to save me. . . . O how vain it is, the vanity 
of vanities, to live in men's thoughts instead of God's ! " 
She was lonely, she was miserable. " Thou knowest that 
through all these horrible twenty years, I have been 
supported by the belief that I was working with Thee 
who wert bringing every one, even our poor nurses, to per- 
fection," and yet, after all, what was the result ? Had 
not even she been an unprofitable servant ? One night, 
waking suddenly, she saw, in the dim light of the night- 
lamp, tenebrous shapes upon the wall. The past rushed 
back upon her " Am I she who once stood on that 


Crimean height ? " she wildly asked " 4 The Lady with 
a lamp shall stand. . . .' The lamp shows me only my 
utter shipwreck." 

She sought consolation in the writings of the Mystics 
and in a correspondence with Mr. Jowett. For many 
years the Master of Balliol acted as her spiritual adviser. 
He discussed with her in a series of enormous letters the 
problems of religion and philosophy ; he criticised her 
writings on those subjects with the tactful sympathy of 
a cleric who was also a man of the world ; and he even 
ventured to attempt at times to instil into her rebellious 
nature some of his own peculiar suavity. " I sometimes 
think," he told her, "that you ought seriously to consider 
how your work may be carried on, not with less energy, but 
in a calmer spirit. I am not blaming the past. . . . But 
I want the peace of God to settle on the future." He 
recommended her to spend her time no longer in " conflicts 
with Government offices," and to take up some literary 
work. He urged her to " work out her notion of Divine 
Perfection," in a series of essays for Fraxer's Magazine. 
She did so ; and the result was submitted to Mr. Froude, 
who pronounced the second essay to be " even more preg- 
nant than the first. I cannot tell," he said, " how sanitary, 
with disordered intellects, the effects of such papers will 
be." Mr. Carlyle, indeed, used different language, and 
some remarks of his about a lost lamb bleating on the 
mountains having been unfortunately repeated to Miss 
Nightingale, all Mr. Jowett's suavity was required to keep 
the peace. In a letter of fourteen sheets, he turned her 
attention from this painful topic towards a discussion of 
Quietism. " I don't see why," said the Master of Balliol, 
" active life might not become a sort of passive life too." 
And then, he added, " I sometimes fancy there are possi- 
bilities of human character much greater than have been 
realised." She found such sentiments helpful, underlining 
them in blue pencil ; and, in return, she assisted her 
friend with a long series of elaborate comments upon the 


Dialogues of Plato, most of which he embodied in the second 
edition of his translation. Gradually her interest became 
more personal ; she told him never to work again after 
midnight, and he obeyed her. Then she helped him to 
draw up a special form of daily service for the College 
Chapel, with selections from the Psalms under the heads 
of " God the Lord, God the Judge, God the Father, and 
God the Friend," though, indeed, this project was never 
realised ; for the Bishop of Oxford disallowed the altera- 
tions, exercising his legal powers, on the advice of Sir 
Travers Twiss. 

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

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

At other times she was better satisfied. Looking 
back, she was amazed by the enormous change which, 
since her early days, had come over the whole treatment 
of illness, the whole conception of public and domestic 
health a change in which, she knew, she had played her 
part. One of her Indian admirers, the Aga Khan, came to 
visit her. She expatiated on the marvellous advances 
she had lived to see in the management of hospitals, in 
drainage, in ventilation, in sanitary work of every kind. 



There was a pause ; and then, " Do you think you are 
improving ? " asked the Aga Khan. She was a little 
taken aback, and said, " What do you mean by * im- 
proving ' ? " He replied, " Believing more in God." She 
saw that he had a view of God which was different from 
hers. " A most interesting man," she noted after the 
interview ; * 4 but you could never teach him sanitation." 

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


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




Sir E. Cook. Life of Florence Nightingale. 

A. W. Kinglake. The Invasion of the Crimea. 

Lord Sidney Godolphin Osborne. Scutari and its Hospitals. 

S. M. Mitra. Life of Sir John Hall. 

Lord Stanmore. Sidney Herbert. 

Sir G. Douglas. The Panmure Papers. 

Sir H. Maxwell. Life and Letters of the Fourth Earl of Clarendon. 

E. Abbot and L. Campbell. Life and Letters of Benjamin Jowett. 

A. H. Clough. Poems and Memoir. 



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

All that was known of the previous life of Dr. Arnold 
seemed to justify the prediction of the Provost of Oriel, 
and the choice of the Trustees. The son of a respectable 
Collector of Customs, he had been educated at Winchester 
and at Oxford, where his industry and piety had given 
him a conspicuous place among his fellow-students. 
It is true that, as a schoolboy, a certain pompousness 
in the style of his letters home suggested to the more 
1 77 N 


clear-sighted among his relatives the possibility that young 
Thomas might grow up into a prig ; but, after all, what 
^J else could be expected from a child who, at the age of 

,-K ; three, had been presented by his father, as a reward for 
- proficiency in his studies, with the twenty-four volumes 
of Smollett's History of England? His career at Oxford 
had been a distinguished one, winding up with an 
Oriel fellowship. It was at about this time that the 
smooth and satisfactory progress of his life was for a 
moment interrupted : he began to be troubled by religious 
doubts. These doubts, as we learn from one of his 
contemporaries, who afterwards became Mr. Justice 
Coleridge, " were not low nor rationalistic in their tendency, 
according to the bad sense of that term j there was no 
indisposition in him to believe merely because the article 
transcended his reason ; he doubted the proof and the 
interpretation of the textual authority." In his perturba- 
tion, Arnold consulted Keble, who was at that time one 
of his closest friends, and a Fellow of the same College. 
" The subject of these distressing thoughts," Keble wrote 
to Coleridge, " is that most awful one, on which all very 
inquisitive reasoning minds are, I believe, most liable 
to such temptations I mean, the doctrine of the blessed 
Trinity. Do not start, my dear Coleridge ; I do not 
believe that Arnold has any serious scruples of the under- 
standing about it, but it is a defect of his mind that he 
cannot get rid of a certain feeling of objections." What 
was to be done ? Keble's advice was peremptory. 
Arnold was " bid to pause in his inquiries, to pray earnestly 
for help and light from above, and turn himself more 
strongly than ever to the practical duties of a holy life." 
He did so, and the result was all that could be wished. 
He soon found himself blessed with perfect peace of 
mind, and a settled conviction. 

One other difficulty, and one only, we hear of, at this 
period of his life. His dislike of early rising amounted, 
we are told, " almost to a constitutional infirmity." 

/w. : , ; : 


This weakness too he overcame, yet not quite so success- 
fully as his doubts upon the doctrine of the Trinity. 
For in after life the Doctor would often declare " that 
early rising continued to be a daily effort to him, and 
that in this instance he never found the truth of the usual 
rule, that all things are made easy by custom." 

He married young, and settled down in the country 
as a private tutor for youths preparing for the Universities. 
There he remained for ten years happy, busy, and 
sufficiently prosperous. Occupied chiefly with his pupils, 
he nevertheless devoted much of his energy to wider 
interests. He delivered a series of sermons in the parish 
church ; and he began to write a History of Rome, in 
the hope, as he said, that its tone might be such " that the 
strictest of what is called the Evangelical party would ' 
not object to putting it into the hands of their children." 
His views on the religious and political condition of the 
country began to crystallise. He was alarmed by the 
" want of Christian principle in the literature of the day," 
looking forward anxiously to " the approach of a greater 
struggle between good and evil than the world has yet 
seen " j and, after a serious conversation with Dr. Whately, 
began to conceive the necessity of considerable altera- 
tions in the Church Establishment. All who knew him 
during these years were profoundly impressed by the 
earnestness of his religious convictions and feelings, / 
which, as one observer said, "were ever bursting forth. "' 
It was impossible to disregard his " deep consciousness 
of the invisible world " and " the peculiar feeling of love . , " t 
and adoration which he entertained towards our Lord 
Jesus Christ." " His manner of awful reverence when 
speaking of God or of the Scriptures " was particularly 
striking. " No one could know him even a little," said 
another friend, " and not be struck by his absolute wrestling 
with evil, so that like St. Paul he seemed to be battling 
with the wicked one, and yet with a feeling of God's help 
on his side." 


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

And certainly, if he was to fulfil the prophecy of the 
Provost of Oriel, the task before him was sufficiently 
perplexing. The public schools of those days were 
still virgin forests, untouched by the hand of reform. 
Keate was still reigning at Eton ; and we possess, in 
the records of his pupils, a picture of the public school 
education of the early nineteenth century, in its most 
characteristic state. It was a system of anarchy 
tempered by despotism. Hundreds of boys, herded 
together in miscellaneous boarding-houses, or in that 
grim " Long Chamber " at whose name in after years 
aged statesmen and warriors would turn pale, lived, 
badgered and over-awed by the furious incursions of an 
irascible little old man carrying a bundle of birch-twigs, 
a life in which licensed barbarism was mingled with the 
daily and hourly study of the niceties of Ovidian verse. 
It was a life of freedom and terror, of prosody and rebellion, 


of interminable floggings and appalling practical jokes. 
Keate ruled, unaided for the under-masters were few 
and of no account by sheer force of character. But 
there were times when even that indomitable will was 
overwhelmed by the flood of lawlessness. Every Sunday 
afternoon he attempted to read sermons to the whole 
school assembled ; and every Sunday afternoon the whole 
school assembled shouted him down. The scenes in Chapel 
were far from edifying : while some antique Fellow 
doddered in the pulpit, rats would be let loose to scurry 
among the legs of the exploding boys. But next morning 
the hand of discipline would re-assert itself ; and the savage 
ritual of the whipping-block would remind a batch of 
whimpering children that, though sins against man and 
God might be forgiven them, a false quantity could only 
be expiated in tears and blood. 

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

Dr. Arnold agreed. He was convinced of the necessity 
for reform. But it was only natural that to one of his 
temperament and education it should have been the moral 
rather than the intellectual side of the question which 
impressed itself upon his mind. Doubtless it was 
important to teach boys something more than the bleak 
rigidities of the ancient tongues ; but how much more 
important to instil into them the elements of character 
and the principles of conduct ! His great object, through- 


out his career at Rugby, was, as he repeatedly said, to 
" make the school a place of really Christian education." 
To introduce "a religious principle into education," was 
his " most earnest wish," he wrote to a friend when he 
first became headmaster ; " but to do this would be to 
succeed beyond all my hopes ; it would be a happiness 
so great, that, I think, the world would yield me nothing 
comparable to it." And he was constantly impressing 
these sentiments upon his pupils. " What I have often 
said before," he told them, " I repeat now : what we must 
look for here is, first, religious and moral principle ; 
secondly, gentlemanly conduct ; thirdly, intellectual 

There can be no doubt that Dr. Arnold's point of view 
was shared by the great mass of English parents. They 
cared very little for classical scholarship ; no doubt 
they would be pleased to find that their sons were being 
instructed in history or in French ; but their real hopes, 
their real wishes, were of a very different kind. " Shall 
I tell him to mind his work, and say he's sent to school 
to make himself a good scholar ? " meditated old Squire 
Brown when he was sending off Tom for the first time to 
Rugby. " Well, but he isn't sent to school for that 
at any rate, not for that mainly. I don't care a straw for 
Greek particles, or the digamma ; no more does his mother. 
What is he sent to school for ? ... If he'll only turn out 
a brave, helpful, truth-telling Englishman, and a Christian, 
that's all I want." 

That was all ; and it was that that Dr. Arnold set 
himself to accomplish. But how, was he to achieve his 
end ? Was he to improve the character of his pupils 
by gradually spreading round them an atmosphere of 
cultivation and intelligence ? By bringing them into 
close and friendly contact with civilised men, and even, 
perhaps, with civilised women ? By introducing into 
the life of his school all that he could of the humane, 
enlightened, and progressive elements in the life of the 


community ? On the whole, he thought fiot. Such con- 
siderations left him cold, and he preferred^ to be guided 
by the general laws of Providence. It only remained 
to discover what those general laws were. He consulted 
the Old Testament, and could doubt no longer. He would 
apply to his scholars, as he himself explained to them in 
one of his sermons, " the principle which seemed to him 
to have been adopted in the training of the childhood 
of the human race itself." He would treat the boys 
at Rugby as Jehovah had treated the Chosen People : 
he would found a theocracy/; and there should be Judges 
in Israel. 

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

This was the means by which Dr. Arnold hoped to 
turn Rugby into "a place of really jChristian education." 
The boys were to wort out their own salvation, like the 
human race. He himself, involved in awful grandeur, 
ruled remotely, through his chosen instruments, from an 
inaccessible heaven. Remotely rand yet with an omni- 
present force. As the Israelite of old knew that his 
almighty Lawgiver might at any moment thunder to 
him from the whirlwind, or appear before his very eyes, 
the visible embodiment of power or wrath, so the Rugby 
schoolboy walked in a holy dread of some sudden mani- 
festation of the sweeping gown, the majestic tone, the 
piercing glance, of Dr. Arnold. Among the lower forms 
of the school his appearances were rare and transitory, 


and upon these young children " the chief impression," 
we are told, " was of^extreme .fisaL." The older boys saw 
more of him, but they did not see much. Outside the 
Sixth Form, no part of the school came into close inter- 
course with him ; and it would often happen that a boy 
would leave Rugby without having had any personal 
communication with him at all. Yet the effect which he 
produced upon the great mass of his pupils was remark- 
able. The prestige of his presence and the elevation of 
his sentiments were things which it was impossible to 
forget. In class, every line of his countenance, every 
shade of his manner imprinted themselves .indelibly on 
the minds of the boys who sat under him. One of these, 
writing long afterwards, has described, in phrases still 
impregnated with awestruck reverence, the familiar 
details of the scene : " the glance with which he looked 
round in the few moments of silence before the lesson 
began, and which seemed to speak his sense of his own 
position " " the attitude in which he stood, turning over 
the pages of Facciolati's Lexicon, or Pole's synopsis, with 
his eye fixed upon the boy who was pausing to give an 
answer " " the pleased look and the cheerful * thank you/ 
which followed upon a successful translation " " the 
fall of his countenance with its deepening severity, the 
stern elevation of the eyebrows, the sudden * sit down ' 
which followed upon the reverse " and " the startling 
earnestness with which he would check in a moment the 
slightest approach to levity." 

To be rebuked, however mildly, by Dr. Arnold was 
a notable experience. One boy could never forget how 
he drew a distinction between " mere amusement " and 
"such as encroached on the next day's duties," nor the 
tone of voice with which the Doctor added "and then 
it immediately becomes what St. Paul calls revelling." 
Another remembered to his dying day his reproof of some 
boys who had behaved badly during prayers. "No- 
where," said Dr. Arnold, " nowhere is Satan's work more 


evidently manifest than in turning holy things to ridicule." 
On such occasions, as another of his pupils described it, 
it was impossible to avoid "a consciousness almost 
amounting to solemnity " that, " when his eye was upon 
you, he looked into your inmost heart." - ' 

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

It was obvious that the primitive methods of dis- 
cipline which had reached their apogee under the dominion 
of Keate were altogether incompatible with Dr. Arnold's 
view of the functions of a headmaster and the proper 
governance of a public school. Clearly, it was not for 
such as he to demean himself by bellowing and cuffing, 
by losing his temper once an hour, and by wreaking his 
vengeance with indiscriminate flagellations. Order must 
be kept in other ways. The worst boys were publicly 
expelled ; many were silently removed ; and, when Dr. 
Arnold considered that a flogging was necessary, he 
administered it with gravity. For he had no theoretical 
objection to corporal punishment. On the contrary, he 
supported it, as was his wont, by an appeal to general 
principles. " There is," he said, " an essential inferiority 
in a boy as compared with a man " ; and hence " where 
there is no equality, the exercise of superiority implied 
in personal chastisement " inevitably followed. He 
was particularly disgusted by the view that " personal 
correction," as he phrased it, was an insult or a degrada- 
tion to the boy upon whom it was inflicted ; and to 
accustom young boys to think so appeared to him to be 
" positively mischievous." " At an age," he wrote, 
" when it is almost impossible to find a true, manly sense 


of the degradation of guilt or faults, where is the wisdom 
of encouraging a fantastic sense of the degradation of 
personal correction ? What can be more false, or more 
adverse to the simplicity, sobriety, and humbleness of 
mind which are the best ornaments of youth, and offer 
the best promise of a noble manhood ? " One had not 
to look far, he added, for " the fruits of such a system." 
In Paris, during the Revolution of 1830, an officer observed 
a boy of twelve insulting the soldiers, and " though 
the action was then raging, merely struck him with the 
flat part of his sword, as the fit chastisement for boyish 
impertinence. But the boy had been taught to consider 
his person sacred, and that a blow was a deadly insult ; 
he therefore followed the officer, and having watched 
his opportunity, took deliberate aim at him with a pistol 
and murdered him." Such were the alarming results 
of insufficient whipping. 

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

(In the actual sphere of teaching, Dr. Arnold's reforms 
were tentative and few. He introduced modern history, 
modern languages, and mathematics into the school 
curriculum ; but the results were not encouraging. He 
devoted to the teaching of history one hour a week ; 
yet, though he took care to inculcate in these lessons a 
wholesome hatred of moral evil, and to point out from 
time to time the indications of the providential govern- 
ment of the world, his pupils never seemed to make much 
progress in the subject. Could it have been that the 
time allotted to it was insufficient ? Dr. Arnold had some 


suspicions that this might be the case. With modern 
languages there was the same difficulty. Here his hopes 
were certainly not excessive. " I assume it," he wrote, 
" as the foundation of all my view of the case, that boys 
at a public school never will learn to speak or pronounce 
French well, under any circumstances." It would be 
enough if they could " learn it grammatically as a dead 
language." But even this they very seldom managed 
to do. " I know too well," he was obliged to confess, 
" that most of the boys would pass a very poor examination 
even in French grammar. But so it is with their mathe- 
matics ; and so it will be with any branch of knowledge 
that is taught but seldom, and is felt to be quite sub- 
ordinate to the boys' main study." 

The boys' main study remained the dead languages 
of Greece and Rome. That the classics should form the 
basis of all teaching was an axiom with Dr. Arnold. " The 
study of language," he said, " seems to me as if it was 
given for the very purpose of forming the human mind in 
youth ; and the Greek and Latin languages seem the 
very instruments by which this is to be effected." 
Certainly, there was something providential about it 
from the point of view of the teacher as well as of the 
taught. If Greek and Latin had not been "given" 
in that convenient manner, Dr. Arnold, who had spent his 
life in acquiring those languages, might have discovered 
that he had acquired them in vain. As it was, he could 
set the noses of his pupils to the grindstone of syntax 
and prosody with a clear conscience. Latin verses and 
Greek prepositions divided between them the labours of 
the week. As time went on, he became, he declared, 
" increasingly convinced that it is not knowledge, but . / 
the means of gaining knowledge which I have to teach." - 
The reading of the school was devoted almost entirely 
to selected passages from the prose writers of antiquity. 
" Boys," he remarked, " do not like poetry." Perhaps 
his own poetical taste was a little dubious ; at any rate, 


it is certain that he considered the Greek Tragedians 
greatly overrated, and that he ranked Propertius as 
" an indifferent poet." As for Aristophanes, owing to 
his strong moral disapprobation, he could not bring himself 
to read him until he was forty, when, it is true, he was 
much struck by the " Clouds." But Juvenal the Doctor 
could never bring himself to read at all. 

Physical Science, was not taught at Rugby. Since, 
in Dr. Arnohfs opinion, it was " too great a subject to 
be studied ev Trapepyw" obviously only two alternatives 
were possible : it must either take the chief place in 
the school curriculum, or it must be left out altogether. 
Before such a choice, Dr. Arnold did not hesitate for 
a moment. " Rather than have physical science the 
principal thing in my son's mind," he exclaimed in a letter 
to a friend, " I would gladly have him think that the 
sun went round the earth, and that the stars were so 
many spangles set in the bright blue firmament. Surely 
the one thing needful for a Christian and an English- 
man to study is Christian and moral and political 

A Christian and an Englishman ! After all, it was not 
in the class-room, nor in the boarding-house, that the 
essential elements of instruction could be imparted which 
should qualify the youthful neophyte to deserve those 
names. The final, the fundamental lesson could only 
be taught in the school chapel ; in the school chapel 
the centre of Dr. Arnold's system of education was in- 
evitably fixed. There, too, the Doctor himself appeared 
in the plenitude of his dignity and his enthusiasm. There, 
with the morning sun shining on the freshly scrubbed 
faces of his three hundred pupils, or, in the dusk of evening, 
through a glimmer of candles, his stately form, rapt in 
devotion or vibrant with exhortation, would dominate the 
scene. Every phase of the Church service seemed to 
receive its supreme expression in his voice, his attitude, 
his look. During the Te Deum, his whole countenance 


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

At the end of the evening service the culminating 
moment of the week had come : the Doctor delivered his 
sermon. It was not until then, as all who had known 
him agreed, it was not until one had heard and seen him 
in the pulpit, that one could fully realise what it was to 
be face to face with Dr. Arnold. The whole character 
of the man so we are assured stood at last revealed. 
His congregation sat in fixed attention (with the excep- 
tion of the younger boys, whose thoughts occasionally 
wandered), while he propounded the general principles 
botji of his own conduct and that of the Almighty, or 
indicated the bearing of the incidents of Jewish history 


in the sixth century B.C. upon the conduct, of English 
schoolboys in 1830. Then, more than ever, his deep 
consciousness of the invisible world became evident ; 
then, more than ever, he seemed to be battling with the 
wicked one. For his sermons ran on the eternal themes 
of the darkness of evil, the craft of the tempter, the 
punishment of obliquity, and he justified the persistence 
with which he dwelt upon these painful subjects by an 
appeal to a general principle : " the spirit of Elijah," 
he said, " must ever precede the spirit of Christ." The 
impression produced upon the boys was remarkable. 
It was noticed that even the most careless would 
sometimes, during the course of the week, refer almost 
involuntarily to the sermon of the past Sunday, as a con- 
demnation of what they were doing. Others were heard 
to wonder how it was that the Doctor's preaching, to which 
they had attended at the_jtime_5O- assiduously, seemed, 
after all^jcTliave sucJL_a_sniall effect upon what they did. 
An did gentleman, recalling those vanished hours, tried 
to recapture in words his state of mind as he sat in the 
darkened chapel, while Dr. Arnold's sermons, with their 
high-toned exhortations, their grave and sombre messages 
of incalculable import, clothed, like Dr. Arnold's body 
in its gown and bands, in the traditional stiffness of a 
formal phraseology, reverberated through his adolescent 
ears. " I used," he said, " to listen to those sermons from 
first to last with a kind of awe." 

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

Dr. Arnold's energies were by no means exhausted 
by his duties at Rugby. He became known, not merely 
as a Headmaster, but as a public man. He held decided 


opinions upon a large number of topics ; and he enunciated 
them based as they were almost invariably upon general 
principles in pamphlets, in prefaces, and in magazine 
articles, with an impressive self-confidence. He was, 
as he constantly declared, a Liberal. In his opinion, by 
the very constitution of human nature, the principles 
of progress and reform had been those of wisdom and 
justice in every age of the world except one : that which 
had preceded the fall of man from Paradise. Had he 
lived then, Dr. Arnold would have been a Conservative. 
As it was, his Liberalism was tempered by an " abhorrence 
of the spirit of 1789, of the American War, of the French 
Economistes, and of the English Whigs of the latter part 
of the seventeenth century " ; and he always enter- 
tained a profound respect for the hereditary peerage. It 
might almost be said, in fact, that he was an orthodox 
Liberal. He believed in toleration, too, within limits ; 
that is to say, in the toleration of those with whom he 
agreed. " I would give James Mill as much opportunity 
for advocating his opinion," he said, " as is consistent 
with a voyage to Botany Bay." He had become con- 
vinced of the duty of sympathising with the lower orders 
ever since he had made a serious study of the Epistle of 
St. James ; but he perceived clearly that the lower orders 
fell into two classes, and that it was necessary to distinguish 
between them. There were the " good poor " and there 
were the others. " I am glad that you have made 
acquaintance with some of the good poor," he wrote to 
a Cambridge undergraduate ; " I quite agree with you 
that it is most instructive to visit them." Dr. Arnold 
himself occasionally visited them, in Rugby ; and the 
condescension with which he shook hands with old men 
and women of the working classes was long remembered 
in the neighbourhood. As for the others, he regarded 
them with horror and alarm. "The disorders in our 
social state," he wrote to the Chevalier Bunsen in 1834, 
"appear to me to continue unabated. You have heard, 


I doubt not, of the Trades Unions ; a fearful engine of 
mischief, ready to riot or to assassinate ; and I see no 
counteracting power." 

On the whole, his view of the condition of England 
was a gloomy one. He recommended a correspondent 
to read " Isaiah iii., v., xxii. ; Jeremiah v., xxii., xxx. ; 
Amos iv. ; and Habakkuk ii.," adding, " you will be 
struck, I think, with the close resemblance of our own 
state with that of the Jews before the second destruc- 
tion of Jerusalem." When he was told that the gift of 
tongues had descended on the Irvingites at Glasgow, 
he was not surprised. " I should take it," he said, 
" merely as a sign of the coming of the day of the Lord." 
And he was convinced that the day of the Lord was coming 
" the termination of one of the great ai&ve? of the human 
race." Of that he had no doubt whatever ; wherever 
he looked he saw " calamities, wars, tumults, pestilences, 
earthquakes, etc., all marking the time of one of God's 
peculiar seasons of visitation." His only uncertainty 
was whether this termination of an alwv would turn 
out to be the absolutely final one ; but that he believed 
" no created being knows or can know." In any case 
he had " not the slightest expectation of what is commonly 
meant by the Millennium." And his only consolation 
was that he preferred the present Ministry, inefficient as 
it was, to the Tories. 

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


Scripture was not made an obligatory subject at the 
London University. 

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

In the meantime, pending the completion of his great 
work, he occupied himself with putting forward various 
suggestions of a practical kind. He advocated the restora- 
tion of the Order of Deacons, which, he observed, had 
long been " quoad the reality, dead " ; for he believed 
that " some plan of this sort might be the small end of 
the wedge, by which Antichrist might hereafter be burst 
asunder like the Dragon of Bel's temple." But the Order 


of Deacons was never restored, and Dr Arnold turned 
his attention elsewhere, urging in a weighty pamphlet 
the desirability of authorising military officers, in congre- 
gations where it was impossible to procure the presence 
of clergy, to administer the Eucharist, as well as Baptism. 
It was with the object of laying such views as these before 
the public " to tell them plainly," as he said, " the evils 
that exist, and lead them, if I can, to their causes and 
remedies," that he started, in 1831, a weekly newspaper, 
The Englishman's Register. The paper was not a success, 
in spite of the fact that it set out to improve its readers 
morally and that it preserved, in every article, an avowedly 
Christian tone. After a few weeks, and after he had spent 
upon it more than 200, it came to an end. 

Altogether, the prospect was decidedly discouraging. 
After all his efforts, the absolute identity of Church and 
State remained as unrecognised as ever. '* So deeply," 
he was at last obliged to confess, " is the distinction 
between the Church and the State seated in our laws, our 
language, and our very notions, that nothing less than 
a miraculous interposition of God's Providence seems 
capable of eradicating it." Dr. Arnold waited in vain. 

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


points, to suggest interesting solutions. At first, for 
instance, he could not but be startled by the cessation of 
miracles in the early Church ; but on consideration he 
came to the conclusion that this phenomenon might be 
" truly accounted for by the supposition that none but 
the Apostles ever conferred miraculous powers, and that 
therefore they ceased of course after one generation." 
Nor did he fail to base his exegesis, whenever possible, 
upon an appeal to general principles. One of his admirers 
points out how Dr. Arnold " vindicated God's command 
to Abraham to sacrifice his son, and to the Jews to exter- 
minate the nations of Canaan, by explaining the principles 
on which these commands were given, and their reference 
to the moral state of those to whom they were addressed ; 
thereby educing light out of darkness, unravelling the 
thread of God's religious education of the human race, 
and holding up God's marvellous counsels to the devout 
wonder and meditation of the thoughtful believer." 

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


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

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

DR. ARNOLD | 197 

researches of Niebuhr, and partly upon an aversion to 
Gibbon. " My highest ambition," he wrote, " is to make 
my history the very reverse of Gibbon in this respect, 
that whereas the whole spirit of his work, from its low 
morality, is hostile to religion, without speaking directly 
against it, so my greatest desire would be, in my History, 
by its high morals and its general tone, to be of use to 
the cause without actually bringing it forward." These 
efforts were rewarded, in 1841, by the Professorship of 
Modern History at Oxford. Meanwhile, he was engaged 
in the study of the Sanscrit and Sclavonic languages, 
bringing out an elaborate edition of Thucydides, and 
carrying on a voluminous correspondence upon a multitude 
of topics with a large circle of men of learning. At his 
death, his published works, composed during such intervals 
as he could spare from the management of a great public 
school, filled, besides a large number of pamphlets and 
articles, no less than seventeen volumes. It was no wonder 
that Carlyle, after a visit to Rugby, should have charac- 
terised Dr. Arnold as a man of " unhasting, unresting 

Mrs. Arnold, too, no doubt agreed with Carlyle. 
During the first eight years of their married life, she bore 
him six children ; and four more were to follow. In this 
large and growing domestic circle his hours of relaxation 
were spent. There those who had only known him in 
his professional capacity were surprised to find him dis- 
playing the tenderness and jocosity of a parent. The 
dignified and stern headmaster was actually seen to dandle 
infants and to caracole upon the hearthrug on all fours. 
Yet, we are told, " the sense of his authority as a father 
was never lost in his playfulness as a companion." On 
more serious occasions, the voice of the spiritual teacher 
sometimes made itself heard. An intimate friend de- 
scribed how " on a comparison having been made in 
his family circle, which seemed to place St. Paul above 
St. John," the tears rushed to the Doctor's eyes and how, 


repeating one of the verses from St. John, he begged that 
the comparison might never again be made. The longer 
holidays were spent in Westmoreland, where, rambling 
with his offspring among the mountains, gathering wild 
flowers, and pointing out the beauties of Nature, Dr. 
Arnold enjoyed, as he himself would often say, " an almost 
awful happiness." Music he did not appreciate, though 
he occasionally desired his eldest boy, Matthew, to sing 
him the Confirmation Hymn of Dr. Hinds, to which he 
had become endeared, owing to its use in Rugby chapel. 
But his lack of ear was, he considered, amply recompensed 
by his love of flowers : " they are my music," he declared. 
Yet, in such a matter, he was careful to refrain from an 
excess of feeling, such as, in his opinion, marked the 
famous lines of Wordsworth : 

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

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

Once or twice he found time to visit the Continent, 
and the letters and journals recording in minute detail 
his reflections and impressions in France or Italy show 
us that Dr. Arnold preserved, in spite of the distractions 
of foreign scenes and foreign manners, his accustomed 
habits of mind. Taking very little interest in works of 
art, he was occasionally moved by the beauty of natural 
objects ; but his principal pre-occupation remained with 
the moral aspects of things. From this point of view, 
he found much to reprehend in the conduct of his own 
countrymen. " I fear," he wrote, " that our countrymen 
who live abroad are not in the best possible moral state, 


however much they may do in science or literature." 
And this was unfortunate, because "a thorough English 
gentleman Christian, manly, and enlightened is more, 
I believe, than Guizot or Sismondi could comprehend ; 
it is a finer specimen of human nature than any other 
country, I believe, could furnish." Nevertheless, our 
travellers would imitate foreign customs without discrimi- 
nation, " as in the absurd habit of not eating fish with a 
knife, borrowed from the French, who do it because they 
have no knives fit for use." Places, no less than people, 
aroused similar reflections. By Pompeii, Dr. Arnold 
was not particularly impressed. " There is only," he 
observed, " the same sort of interest with which one would 
see the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah, but indeed there 
is less. One is not authorised to ascribe so solemn a 
character to the destruction of Pompeii." The lake of 
Como moved him more profoundly. As he gazed upon the 
overwhelming beauty around him, he thought of " moral 
evil," and was appalled by the contrast. " May the 
sense of moral evil," he prayed, " be as strong in me as 
my delight in external beauty, for in a deep sense of moral 
evil, more perhaps than in anything else, abides a saving 
knowledge of God ! " 

His prayer was answered : Dr. Arnold was never in 
any danger of losing his sense of moral evil. If the 
landscapes of Italy only served to remind him of it, how 
could he forget it among the boys at Rugby School ? 
The daily sight of so many young creatures in the hands 
of the Evil One filled him with agitated grief. " When 
the spring and activity of youth," he wrote, " is altogether 
unsanctified by anything pure and elevated in its desires, 
it becomes a spectacle that is as dizzying and almost 
more morally distressing than the shouts and gambols 
of a set of lunatics." One thing struck him as particularly 
strange : " it is very startling," he said, " to see so much 
of sin combined with_SQ_ little of sorrow." The naughtiest 


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

Upon the boys in the Sixth Form, indeed, a strange 
burden would seem to have fallen. Dr. Arnold himself 
was very well aware of this. " I cannot deny," he told 
them in a sermon, " that you have an anxious duty a 
duty which some might suppose was too heavy for your 
years " ; and every term he pointed out to them, in a short 
address, the responsibilities of their position, and impressed 
upon them " the enormous influence " they possessed 
" for good or for evil." Nevertheless most youths of 
seventeen, in spite of the warnings of their elders, have 
a singular trick of carrying moral burdens lightly. The 
Doctor might preach and look grave ; but young Brooke 
was ready enough to preside at a fight behind the Chapel, 
though he was in the Sixth, and knew that fighting was 
against the rules. At their best, it may be supposed that 
the Praepostors administered a kind of barbaric justice ; 


but they were not always at their best, and the pages of 
Tom Brown's Schooldays show us what was no doubt the 
normal condition of affairs under Dr. Arnold, when 
the boys in the Sixth Form were weak or brutal, and the 
blackguard Flashman, in the intervals of swigging brandy- 
punch with his boon companions, amused himself by 
roasting fags before the fire. 

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



cares and affections and conversations, thoughts, words, 
and deeds look to that involuntarily. I am afraid you 
will be inclined to think this * cant ' and I am conscious 
that even one's truest feelings, if very frequently put out 
in the light, do make a bad and disagreeable appearance ; 
but this, however, is true, and even if I am carrying it 
too far, I do not think it has made me really forgetful of 
my personal friends, such as, in particular, Cell and Bur- 
bidge and Walrond, and yourself, my dear Simpkinson." 
Perhaps it was not surprising that a young man brought 
up in such an atmosphere should have fallen a prey, at 
Oxford, to the frenzies of religious controversy ; that he 
should have been driven almost out of his wits by the 
ratiocinations of W. G. Ward ; that he should have lost his 
faith ; that he should have spent the rest of his existence 
lamenting that loss, both in prose and verse ; and that he 
should have eventually succumbed, conscientiously doing 
up brown paper parcels for Florence Nightingale. 

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


rose higher than ever before ; and, after thirteen years 
as headmaster, Dr. Arnold began to feel that his work 
there was accomplished, and that he might look forward 
either to other labours or, perhaps, to a dignified retire- 
ment. But it was not to be. 

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

It was noticed that in the spring of 1842 such thoughts 
seemed to be even more frequently than usual in his 
mind. He was only in his forty-seventh year, but he 
dwelt darkly on the fragility of human existence. To- 
wards the end of May, he began to keep a diary a 
private memorandum of his intimate communings with 
the Almighty. Here, evening after evening, in the 
traditional language of religious devotion, he humbled 
himself before God, prayed for strength and purity, 
and threw himself upon the mercy of the Most High. 
" Another day and another month succeed," he wrote 
on May 3ist. " May God keep my mind and heart 



fixed on Him, and cleanse me from all sin. I would 
wish to keep a watch over my tongue, as to vehement 
speaking and censuring of others. ... I would desire 
to remember my latter end to which I am approaching. 
. . . May God keep me in the hour of death, through 
Jesus Christ ; and preserve me from every fear, as well 
as from presumption." On June 2nd he wrote, " Again 
the day is over and I am going to rest. O Lord, preserve 
me this night, and strengthen me to bear whatever 
Thou shalt see fit to lay on me, whether pain, sickness, 
danger, or distress." On Sunday, June 5th, the reading 
of the newspaper aroused " painful and solemn " re- 
flections. " So much of sin and so much of suffering in 
the world, as are there displayed, and no one seems able 
to remedy either. And then the thought of my own 
private life, so full of comforts, is very startling." He 
was; -puzzled ; but he concluded with a prayer: "May 
I be kept humble and zealous, and may God give me 
grace to labour in my generation for the good of my 
brethren and for His Glory ! " 

The end of the term was approaching, and to all 
appearance the Doctor was in excellent spirits. On 
June nth, after a hard day's work, he spent the evening 
with a friend in the discussion of various topics upon 
which he often touched in his conversation the com- 
parison of the art of medicine in barbarous and 
civilised ages, the philological importance of provincial 
vocabularies, and the threatening prospect of the moral 
condition of the United States. Left alone, he turned 
to his Diary. " The day after to-morrow," he wrote, 
" is my birthday, if I am permitted to live to see it 
my forty-seventh birthday since my birth. How large 
a portion of my life on earth is already passed ! And 
then what is to follow this life ? How visibly my out- 
ward work seems contracting and softening away into 
the gentler employments of old age. In one sense how 
nearly can I now say, 4 Vixi.' And I thank God that, 


as far as ambition is concerned, it is, I trust, fully morti- 
fied ; I have no desire other than to step back from my 
present place in the world, and not to rise to a higher. 
Still there are works which, with God's permission, I 
would do before the night cometh." Dr. Arnold was 
thinking of his great work on Church and State. 

Early next morning he awoke with a sharp pain in his 
chest. The pain increasing, a physician was sent for ; 
and in the meantime Mrs. Arnold read aloud to her 
husband the Fifty-first Psalm. Upon one of their boys 
coming into the room, " My son, thank God for me," 
said Dr. Arnold ; and as the boy did not at once catch 
his meaning, he added, " Thank God, Tom, for giving 
me this pain j I have suffered so little pain in my life 
that I feel it is very good for me. Now God has given 
it to me, and I do so thank Him for it." Then Mrs. 
Arnold read from the Prayer-book the " Visitation of 
the Sick," her husband listening with deep attention, 
and assenting with an emphatic " Yes " at the end of many 
of the sentences. When the physician arrived, he per- 
ceived at once the gravity of the case : it was an attack 
of angina pectoris. He began to prepare some laudanum, 
while Mrs. Arnold went out to fetch the children. All 
at once, as the medical man was bending over his glasses, 
there was a rattle from the bed ; a convulsive struggle 
followed ; and, when the unhappy woman, with the children, 
and all the servants, rushed into the room, Dr. Arnold 
had passed from his perplexities for ever. 

There can be little doubt that what he had achieved 
justified the prediction of the Provost of Oriel that he 
would " change the face of education all through the public '' 
schools of England." It is true that, so far as the actual 
machinery of education was concerned, Dr. Arnold not 
only failed to effect a change, but deliberately adhered 
to the old system. The monastic and literary concep- 

tions of education, which had their roots in the Middle 


Ages, and had been accepted and strengthened at the 
revival of Learning, he adopted almost without hesitation. 
Under him, the public school remained, in essentials, 
a conventual establishment, devoted to the teaching of 
Greek and Latin grammar. Had he set on foot reforms 
in these directions, it seems probable that he might have 
succeeded in carrying the parents of England with him. 
The moment was ripe ; there was a general desire for 
educational changes ; and Dr. Arnold's great reputation 
could hardly have been resisted. As it was, he threw 
the whole weight jof his influence into the opposite scale, 
and the ancient system became more firmly established 
than ever. 

The changes which he did effect were of a very 
different nature By introducing morals and religion 
into his scheme, of education, he altered the whole 
atmosphere of Public School life. Henceforward the 
old rough-and-tumble, which was typified by the regime 
of Keate at Eton, became impossible. After Dr. Arnold, 
no public school could venture to ignore the virtues of 
respectability. Again, by his introduction of the pre- 
fectorial system, Dr. Arnold produced far-reaching effects 
effects which he himself, perhaps, would have found 
perplexing. In his day, when the school hours were 
over, the boys were free to enjoy themselves as they 
liked ; to bathe, to fish, to ramble for long afternoons in 
the country, collecting eggs or gathering flowers. " The 
taste of the boys at this period," writes an old Rugbaean 
who had been under Arnold, " leaned strongly towards 
flowers " ; the words have an odd look to-day. The 
modern reader of Tom Brown's Schooldays searches in 
vain for any reference to compulsory games, house 
colours, or cricket averages. In those days, when boys 
played games they played them for pleasure ; but in those 
days the prefectorial system the system which hands 
over the life of a school to an oligarchy of a dozen 
youths of seventeen was still in its infancy, and had 


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



Dean Stanley. Life and Correspondence of Dr. Arnold. 

Thomas Hughes. Tom Brown's Schooldays. 

Sir H. Maxwell- Lyte. History of Eton College. 

Wilfrid Ward. W. G. Ward and the Oxford Movement. 

A.H.Clough. Letters. 

An Old Rugbaean. Recollections of Rugby. 

Thomas Arnold. Passages in a Wandering Life. 

Photo, by /.-></ Stereoscopic <'o,,,f><i,iy. I. hi. 



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

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

In such complete retirement from the world and the 
ways of men, it might have seemed that a life of inordinate 
activity had found at last a longed-for, a final peaceful- 
ness. For month after month, for an entire year, the 
General lingered by the banks of the Jordan. But then 
the enchantment was suddenly broken. Once more 
adventure claimed him ; he plunged into the whirl of 

209 P 


high affairs ; 'his fate was mingled .with the frenzies of 
Empire and the doom of peoples. |And it was not in 
peace and rest, but in ruin and horror, that he reached 
his end. 

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

Charles George Gordon was born in 1833. His father, 
of Highland and military descent, was himself a Lieutenant- 
General ; his mother came of a family of merchants, 
distinguished for their sea-voyages into remote regions 
of the Globe. As a boy, Charlie was remarkable for his 
high spirits, pluck, and love of mischief. Destined for 
the Artillery, he was sent to the Academy at Woolwich, 
where some other characteristics made their appearance. 
On one occasion, when the cadets had been forbidden to 
leave the dining-room and the senior corporal stood with 
outstretched arms in the doorway to prevent their exit, 
Charlie Gordon put his head down, and, butting the 


officer in the pit of the stomach, projected him down a 
flight of stairs and through a glass door at the bottom. 
For this act of insubordination he was nearly dismissed ; 
while the Captain of his Company predicted that he would 
never make an officer. A little later, when he was eighteen, 
it came to the knowledge of the authorities that bullying 
was rife at the Academy. The new-comers were questioned, 
and one of them said that Charlie Gordon had hit him 
over the head with a clothes-brush. He had worked 
well, and his record was on the whole a good one ; but 
the authorities took a serious view of the case, and held 
back his commission for six months. It was owing to 
this delay that he went into the Royal Engineers, instead 
of the Royal Artillery. 

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

He was twenty-one ; the Crimean War broke out ; 
and before the year was over he had managed to get 


himself transferred to Balaclava. During the siege of 
Sebastopol he behaved with conspicuous gallantry. 
Upon the declaration of peace, he was sent to Bessarabia 
to assist in determining the frontier between Russia and 
Turkey, in accordance with the treaty of Paris ; and 
upon this duty he was occupied for nearly two years. 
Not long after his return home, in 1860, war was declared 
upon China. Captain Gordon was despatched to the 
scene of operations, but the righting was over before he 
arrived. Nevertheless, he was to remain for the next 
four years in China, where he was to lay the foundations 
of an extraordinary renown. 

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

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

Curiously enough a similar circumstance had, more 
than twenty years earlier, brought about a singular 
succession of events which were now upon the point of 
opening the way to Gordon's first great adventure. In 
1837, a village schoolmaster near Canton had been 
attacked by illness ; and, as in the case of Gordon, 
illness had been followed by a religious revulsion. Hong- 
siu-tsuen for such was his name saw visions, went 
into ecstasies, and entered into relations with the Deity. 
Shortly afterwards he fell in with a Methodist missionary 
from America, who instructed him in the Christian 


religion. The new doctrine, working upon the mystical 
i ferment already in Hong's mind, produced a remark- 
able result. He was, he declared, the prophet of God ; 
he was more he was the Son of God ; he was Tien 
\ Wang, the Celestial king ; he was the younger brother 
of Jesus. The times were propitious, and proselytes 
soon gathered around him. Having conceived a grudge 
against the Government, owing to his failure in an examina- 
tion, Hong gave a political turn to his teaching, which 
soon developed into a propaganda of rebellion against 
the rule of the Manchus and the Mandarins. The 
authorities took fright, attempted to suppress Hong by 
force, and failed. The movement spread. By 1850 
the rebels were overrunning the populous and flourishing 
delta of the Yang-tse-Kiang, and had become a formidr 
able force. In 1853 they captured Nankin, which was 
henceforth their capital. The Tien Wang established 
himself in a splendid palace, and proclaimed his new 
evangel. His theogony included the wife of God, or the 
celestial Mother, the wife of Jesus, or the celestial daughter- 
in-law, and a sister of Jesus, whom he married to one of 
his lieutenants, who thus became the celestial son-in-law ; 
the Holy Ghost, however, was eliminated. His mission 
was to root out Demons and Manchus from the face of 
the earth, and to establish Taiping, the reign of eternal 
peace. In the meantime, retiring into the depths of 
his palace, he left the further conduct of earthly opera- 
tions to his lieutenants, upon whom he bestowed the 
title of *' Wangs " (kings), while he himself, surrounded 
by thirty wives and one hundred concubines, devoted 
his energies to the spiritual side of his mission. The 
Taiping Rebellion, as it came to be called, had now 
reached its furthest extent. The rebels were even able 
to occupy, for more than a year, the semi-European city 
of Shanghai. But then the tide turned. The latent 
forces of the Empire gradually asserted themselves. 
The rebels lost ground, their armies were defeated, and 


in 1859 Nankin itself was besieged and the Celestial 
King trembled in his palace. The end seemed to be 
at hand, when there was a sudden twist of Fortune's 
wheel. The war of 1860, the invasion of China by 
European armies, their march into the interior, and 
their occupation of Pekin, not only saved the rebels from 
destruction but allowed them to recover the greater 
part of what they had lost. Once more they seized upon 
the provinces of the delta, once more they menaced 
Shanghai. It was clear that the imperial army was 
incompetent, and the Shanghai merchants determined 
to provide for their own safety as best they could. They 
accordingly got together a body of troops, partly Chinese 
and partly European and under European officers, to 
which they entrusted the defence of the town. This 
small force, which, after a few preliminary successes, 
received from the Chinese Government the title of the 
" Ever Victorious Army," was able to hold the rebels 
at bay, but it could do no more. For two years Shanghai 
was in constant danger. The Taipings, steadily growing 
in power, were spreading destruction far and wide. 
The Ever Victorious Army was the only force capable 
of opposing them, and the Ever Victorious Army was 
defeated more often than not Its first European leader 
had been killed ; his successor quarrelled with the Chinese 
Governor, Li Hung Chang, and was dismissed. At 
last it was determined to ask the General at the head of 
the British army of occupation for the loan of an officer 
to command the force. The English, who had been at 
first inclined to favour the Taipings, on religious grounds, 
were now convinced, on practical grounds, of the 
necessity of suppressing them. It was in these circum- 
stances that, early in 1863, the command of the Ever 
Victorious Army was offered to Gordon. He accepted 
it, received the title of General from the Chinese 
authorities, and entered forthwith upon his new task. 
He was just thirty. 


In eighteen months, he told Li Hung Chang, the 
business would be finished ; and he was as good as his 
word. The difficulties before him were very great. A 
vast tract of country was in the possession of the rebels 
an area, at the lowest estimate, of 14,000 square miles 
with a population of twenty millions. For centuries 
this low-lying plain of the Yang-tse delta, rich in silk and 
tea, fertilised by elaborate irrigation, and covered with 
great walled cities, had been one of the most flourishing 
districts in China. Though it was now being rapidly 
ruined by the depredations of the Taipings, its strategic 
strength was obviously enormous. Gordon, however, with 
the eye of a born general, perceived that he could convert 
the very feature of the country which, on the face of it, 
most favoured an army on the defence its complicated 
geographical system of interlacing roads and water- 
ways, canals, lakes and rivers into a means of offensive 
warfare. The force at his disposal was small, but it 
was mobile. He had a passion for map-making, and had 
already, in his leisure hours, made a careful survey of 
the country round Shanghai ; he was thus able to execute 
a series of manoeuvres which proved fatal to the enemy. 
By swift marches and counter-marches, by sudden 
attacks and surprises, above all by the despatch of armed 
steamboats up the circuitous waterways into positions 
from which they could fall upon the enemy in reverse, 
he was able gradually to force back the rebels, to cut 
them off piece-meal in the field, and to seize upon their 
cities. But, brilliant as these operations were, Gordon's 
military genius showed itself no less unmistakably in 
other directions. The Ever Victorious Army, recruited 
from the riff-raff of Shanghai, was an ill-disciplined, ill- 
organised body of about three thousand men, constantly 
on the verge of mutiny, supporting itself on plunder, and, 
at the slightest provocation, melting into thin air. Gordon, 
by sheer force of character, established over this in- 
coherent mass of ruffians an extraordinary ascendancy. 


He drilled them with rigid severity ; he put them into 
a uniform, armed them systematically, substituted pay 
for loot, and was even able, at last, to introduce 
regulations of a sanitary kind. There were some 
terrible scenes, in which the General, alone, faced the 
whole furious army, and quelled it : scenes of rage, 
desperation, towering courage, and summary execution. 
Eventually he attained to an almost magical prestige. 
Walking at the head of his troops, with nothing but a 
light cane in his hand, he seemed to pass through every 
danger with the scatheless equanimity of a demi-God. 
The Taipings themselves were awed into a strange 
reverence. More than once their leaders, in a frenzy 
of fear and admiration, ordered the sharp-shooters not 
to take aim at the advancing figure of the faintly smiling 

It is significant that Gordon found it easier to win 
battles and to crush mutineers than to keep on good 
terms with the Chinese authorities. He had to act in 
co-operation with a large native force ; and it was only 
natural that the General at the head of it should grow 
more and more jealous and angry as the Englishman's 
successes revealed more and more clearly his own in- 
competence. At first, indeed, Gordon could rely upon 
the support of the Governor. Li Hung Chang's experi- 
ence of Europeans had been hitherto limited to low- 
class adventurers, and Gordon came as a revelation. 
" It is a direct blessing from Heaven," he noted in his 
diary, " the coming of this British Gordon. . . . He is 
superior in manner and bearing to any of the foreigners 
whom I have come into contact with, and does not 
show outwardly that conceit which makes most of them 
repugnant in my sight." A few months later, after 
he had accompanied Gordon on a victorious expedition, 
the mandarin's enthusiasm burst forth. " What a sight 
for tired eyes," he wrote, " what an elixir for a heavy 
heart to see this splendid Englishman fight ! . . . 


If there is anything that I admire nearly as much as the 
superb scholarship of Tseng Kuo-fan it is the military 
qualities of this fine officer. He is a glorious fellow ! " 
In his emotion, Li Hung Chang addressed Gordon as 
his brother, declaring that he " considered him worthy 
to fill the place of the brother who is departed. Could 
I have said more in all the words of the world ? " Then 
something happened which impressed and mystified the 
sensitive Chinaman. " The Englishman's face was first 
filled with a deep pleasure, and then he seemed to be 
thinking of something depressing and sad ; for the smile 
went from his mouth and there were tears in his eyes 
when he thanked me for what I had said. Can it be that 
he has, or has had, some great trouble in his life, and 
that he fights recklessly to forget it, or that Death has no 
terrors for him ? " But, as time went on, Li Hung Chang's 
attitude began to change. " General Gordon," he notes 
in July, " must control his tongue, even if he lets his 
mind run loose." The Englishman had accused him 
of intriguing with the Chinese General, and of withholding 
money due to the Ever Victorious Army. " Why does 
he not accord me the honours that are due to me, as head 
of the military and civil authority in these parts ? " 
By September the Governor's earlier transports have 
been replaced by a more judicial frame of mind. " With 
his many faults, his pride, his temper, and his never- 
ending demand for money, Gordon is a noble man, and 
in spite of all I have said to him or about him, I will 
ever think most highly of him. , . . He is an honest 
man, but difficult to get on with." 

Disagreements of this kind might perhaps have been 
tided over till the end of the campaign ; but an unfortunate 
incident suddenly led to a more serious quarrel. Gordon's 
advance had been fiercely contested, but it had been 
constant ; he had captured several important towns ; 
and in October he laid siege to the city of Soo-chow, 
once one of the most famous and splendid in China. 


In December, its fall being obviously imminent, the 
Taiping leaders agreed to surrender it, on condition that 
their lives were spared. Gordon was a party to the agree- 
ment, and laid special stress upon his presence with the 
Imperial forces as a pledge of its fulfilment. No sooner, 
however, was the city surrendered than the rebel " Wangs " 
were assassinated. In his fury, it is said that Gordon 
searched everywhere for Li Hung Chang with a loaded 
pistol in his hand. He was convinced of the complicity 
of the Governor, who, on his side, denied that he was 
responsible for what had happened. " I asked him 
why I should plot, and go round a mountain, when a 
mere order, written with five strokes of the quill, would 
have accomplished the same thing. He did not answer, 
but he insulted me, and said he would report my treachery, 
as he called it, to Shanghai and England. Let him 
do so ; he cannot bring the crazy Wangs back." The 
agitated Mandarin hoped to placate Gordon by a large 
gratuity and an imperial medal ; but the plan was not 
successful. " General Gordon," he writes, " called upon 
me in his angriest mood. He repeated his former speeches 
about the Wangs. I did not attempt to argue with him. 
. . He refused the 10,000 taels, which I had ready for 
him, and, with an oath, said that he did not want the 
Throne's medal. This is showing the greatest disrespect." 
Gordon resigned his command ; and it was only with 
the utmost reluctance that he agreed at last to resume 
it. An arduous and terrible series of operations followed ; 
but they were successful, and by June, 1864, the Ever 
Victorious Army, having accomplished its task, was 
disbanded. The Imperial forces now closed round 
Nankin : the last hopes of the Tien Wang had vanished. 
In the recesses of his seraglio, the Celestial King, judging 
that the time had come for the conclusion of his mission, 
swallowed gold leaf until he ascended to Heaven. 
In July, Nankin was taken, the remaining chiefs were 
executed, and the rebellion was at an end. The Chinese 


Government gave Gordon the highest rank in its military 
hierarchy, and invested him with the yellow jacket and 
the peacock's feather. He rejected an enormous offer 
of money ; but he could not refuse a great gold medal, 
specially struck in his honour by order of the Emperor. 
At the end of the year he returned to England, where the 
conqueror of the Taipings was made a Companion of the 

That the English authorities should have seen fit 
to recognise Gordon's services by the reward usually 
reserved for industrious clerks was typical of their 
attitude towards him until the very end of his career. 
Perhaps if he had been ready to make the most of the 
wave of popularity which greeted him on his return 
if he had advertised his fame and, amid high circles, 
played the part of Chinese Gordon in a becoming manner 
the results would have been different. But he was 
by nature farouche ; his soul revolted against dinner- 
parties and stiff shirts ; and the presence of ladies 
especially of fashionable ladies filled him with uneasi- 
ness. He had, besides, a deeper dread of the world's 
contaminations. And so, when he was appointed to 
Gravesend to supervise the erection of a system of 
forts at the mouth of the Thames, he remained there 
quietly for six years, and at last was almost forgotten. 
The forts, which were extremely expensive and quite 
useless, occupied his working hours ; his leisure he 
devoted to acts of charity and to religious contempla- 
tion. The neighbourhood was a poverty-stricken one, 
and the kind Colonel, with his tripping step and simple 
manner, was soon a familiar figure in it, chatting with 
the seamen, taking provisions to starving families, or 
visiting some bedridden old woman to light her fire. He 
was particularly fond of boys. Ragged street arabs and 
rough sailor-lads crowded about him. They were made 
free of his house and garden ; they visited him in the 
evenings for lessons and advice ; he helped them, found 


them employment, corresponded with them when they went 
out into the world. They were, he said, his Wangs. 
It was only by a singular austerity of living that he was 
able to afford such a variety of charitable expenses. The 
easy luxuries of his class and station were unknown to 
him : his clothes verged upon the shabby ; and his frugal 
meals were eaten at a table with a drawer, into which 
the loaf and plate were quickly swept at the approach 
of his poor visitors. Special occasions demanded special 
sacrifices. When, during the Lancashire famine, a public 
subscription was opened, finding that he had no ready 
money, he remembered his Chinese medal, and, after effacing 
the inscription, despatched it as an anonymous gift. 

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

The faith that he evolved was mystical and fatalistic ; 
it was also highly unconventional. His creed, based 
upon the narrow foundations of Jewish Scripture, eked 
out occasionally by some English evangelical manual, 
was yet wide enough to ignore every doctrinal difference, 
and even, at moments, to transcend the bounds of 
Christianity itself. The just man was he who submitted 


to the Will of God, and the Will of God, inscrutable and 
absolute, could be served aright only by those who turned 
away from earthly desires and temporal temptations, 
to rest themselves whole-heartedly upon the indwelling 
Spirit. Human beings were the transitory embodiments of 
souls who had existed through an infinite past and would 
continue to exist through an infinite future. The world 
was vanity ; the flesh was dust and ashes. " A man," 
Gordon wrote to his sister, " who knows not the secret, 
who has not the indwelling of God revealed to him, is 

like this ( J . He takes the promises and curses as 

addressed to him as one man, and will not hear of there 
being any birth before his natural birth, in any existence 
except with the body he is in. The man to whom the 
secret (the indwelling of God) is revealed is like this 

He applies the promises to one and the curses 

to the other, if disobedient, which he must be, except 
the soul is enabled by God to rule. He then sees he 
is not of this world ; for when he speaks of himself he 
quite disregards the body his soul lives in, which is earthly." 
Such conceptions are familiar enough in the history 
of religious thought : they are those of the hermit and 
the fakir ; and it might have been expected that, when 
once they had taken hold upon his mind, Gordon would 
have been content to lay aside the activities of his pro- 
fession, and would have relapsed at last into the complete 
retirement of holy meditation. But there were other 
elements in his nature, which urged him towards a very 
different course. He was no simple quietist. He was 
an English gentleman, an officer, a man of energy and 
action, a lover of danger and the audacities that 


defeat danger, a passionate creature, flowing over with 
the self-assertiveness of independent judgment and the 
arbitrary temper of command. Whatever he might 
find in his pocket-Bible, it was not for such as he to 
dream out his days in devout obscurity. But, con- 
veniently enough, he found nothing in his pocket-Bible 
indicating that he should. What he did find was that 
the Will of God was inscrutable and absolute ; that 
it was man's duty to follow where God's hand led ; and, 
if God's hand led towards violent excitements and extra- 
ordinary vicissitudes, that it was not only futile, it was 
impious, to turn another way. Fatalism is always apt 
to be a double-edged philosophy ; for while, on the one 
hand, it reveals the minutest occurrences as the immutable 
result of a rigid chain of infinitely predestined causes, 
on the other, it invests the wildest incoherences of conduct 
or of circumstance with the sanctity of eternal law. And 
Gordon's fatalism was no exception. The same doctrine 
that led him to dally with omens, to search for prophetic 
texts, and to append, in brackets, the apotropaic initials 
D.V. after every statement in his letters implying futurity, 
led him also to envisage his moods and his desires, his 
passing reckless whims and his deep unconscious instincts, 
as the mysterious manifestations of the indwelling God. 
That there was danger lurking in such a creed he was 
very well aware. The grosser temptations of the world 
money and the vulgar attributes of power had, 
indeed, no charms for him ; but there were subtler and 
more insinuating allurements which it was not so easy 
to resist. More than one observer declared that ambition 
was, in reality, the essential motive in his life ambition, 
neither for wealth nor titles, but for fame and influence, 
for the swaying of multitudes, and for that kind of enlarged 
and intensified existence " where breath breathes most 
even in the mouths of men." Was it so ? In the depths 
of Gordon's soul there were intertwining contradictions 
intricate recesses where egoism and renunciation melted 


into one another, where the flesh lost itself in the spirit, 
and the spirit in the flesh. What was the Will of God ? 
The question, which first became insistent during his 
retirement at Gravesend, never afterwards left him : 
it might almost be said that he spent the remainder of 
his life in searching for the answer to it. In all his 
Odysseys, in all his strange and agitated adventures, 
a day never passed on which he neglected the voice of 
eternal wisdom as it spoke through the words of Paul 
or Solomon, of Jonah or Habakkuk. He opened his 
Bible, he read, and then he noted down his reflections 
upon scraps of paper, which, periodically pinned together, 
he despatched to one or other of his religious friends, 
and particularly his sister Augusta. The published extracts 
from these voluminous outpourings lay bare the inner 
history of Gordon's spirit, and reveal the pious visionary 
of Gravesend in the restless hero of three continents. 

His seclusion came to an end in a distinctly providential 
manner. In accordance with a stipulation in the Treaty 
of Paris, an international commission had been appointed 
to improve the navigation of the Danube ; and Gordon, 
who had acted on a similar body fifteen years earlier, 
was sent out to represent Great Britain. At Con- 
stantinople, he chanced to meet the Egyptian minister, 
Nubar Pasha. The Governorship of the Equatorial 
Provinces of the Sudan was about to fall vacant ; and 
Nubar offered the post to Gordon, who accepted it. 
" For some wise design," he wrote to his sister, " God 
turns events one way or another, whether man likes it 
or not, as a man driving a horse turns it to right or left 
without consideration as to whether the horse likes that 
way or not. To be happy, a man must be like a well- 
broken, willing horse, ready for anything. Events will 
go as God likes." 

And then followed six years of extraordinary, 
desperate, unceasing, and ungrateful labour. The un- 
explored and pestilential region of Equatoria, stretching 


southwards to the great lakes and the sources of the 
Nile, had been annexed to Egypt by the Khedive Ismail, 
who, while he squandered his millions on Parisian ballet- 
dancers, dreamt strange dreams of glory and empire. 
Those dim tracts of swamp and forest in Central Africa 
were so he declared to be *' opened up," they were 
to receive the blessings of civilisation, they were to be- 
come a source of eternal honour to himself and Egypt. 
The slave-trade, which flourished there, was to be put 
down ; the savage inhabitants were to become acquainted 
with freedom, justice, and prosperity. Incidentally, a 
government monopoly in ivory was to be established, 
and the place was to be made a paying concern. Ismail, 
hopelessly in debt to a horde of European creditors, 
looked to Europe to support him in his schemes. Europe, 
and, in particular, England, with her passion for extraneous 
philanthropy, was not averse. Sir Samuel Baker became 
the first Governor of Equatoria, and now Gordon was 
to carry on the good work. In such circumstances it 
was only natural that Gordon should consider himself 
a special instrument in God's hand. To put his dis- 
interestedness beyond doubt, he reduced his salary, 
which had been fixed at 10,000, to 2,000. He took over 
his new duties early in 1874, and it was not long before 
he had a first hint of disillusionment. On his way up 
the Nile, he was received in state at Khartoum by the 
Egyptian Governor- General of the Sudan, his immediate 
official superior. The function ended in a prolonged 
banquet, followed by a mixed ballet of soldiers and 
completely naked young women, who danced in a circle, 
beat time with their feet, and accompanied their gestures 
with a curious sound of clucking. At last the Austrian 
Consul, overcome by the exhilaration of the scene, flung 
himself in a frenzy among the dancers ; the Governor- 
General, shouting with delight, seemed about to follow 
suit, when Gordon abruptly left the room, and the party 
broke up in confusion. 


When, fifteen hundred miles to the southward, Gordon 
reached the seat of his government, and the desolation 
of the Tropics closed over him, the agonising nature of 
his task stood fully revealed. For the next three years 
he struggled with enormous difficulties with the con- 
fused and horrible country, the appalling climate, the 
maddening insects and the loathsome diseases, the in- 
difference of subordinates and superiors, the savagery of 
the slave-traders, the hatred of the inhabitants. One by 
one the small company of his European staff succumbed. 
With a few hundred Egyptian soldiers, he had to suppress 
insurrections, make roads, establish fortified posts, and 
enforce the government monopoly of ivory. All this he 
accomplished ; he even succeeded in sending enough money 
to Cairo to pay for the expenses of the expedition. But a 
deep gloom had fallen upon his spirit. When, after a 
series of incredible obstacles had been overcome, a steamer 
was launched upon the unexplored Albert Nyanza, he 
turned his back upon the lake, leaving the glory of its 
navigation to his Italian lieutenant, Gessi. *' I wish," 
he wrote, " to give a practical proof of what I think 
regarding the inordinate praise which is given to an 
explorer." Among his distresses and self-mortifications, 
he loathed the thought of all such honours, and 
remembered the attentions of English society with a 
snarl. " When, D. V., I get home, I do not dine out. 
My reminiscences of these lands will not be more pleasant 
to me than the China ones. What I shall have done will 
be what I have done. Men think giving dinners is con- 
ferring a favour on you. . . . Why not give dinners 
to those who need them ? " No ! His heart was set 
upon a very different object. '* To each is allotted a 
distinct work, to each a destined goal ; to some the seat 
at the right hand or left of the Saviour. (It was not 
His to give ; it was already given Matthew xx. 23. 
Again, Judas went to ' his own place ' Acts i. 25.) It 
is difficult to the flesh to accept ' Ye are dead, ye have 


naught to do with the world.' How difficult for anyone 
to be circumcised from the world, to be as indifferent 
to its pleasures, its sorrows, and its comforts as a corpse 
is ! That is to know the resurrection." 

But the Holy Bible was not his only solace. For 
now, under the parching African sun, we catch glimpses, 
for the first time, of Gordon's hand stretching out to- 
wards stimulants of a more material quality. For months 
together, we are told, he would drink nothing but pure 
water ; and then . . . water that was not so pure. In 
his fits of melancholy, he would shut himself up in his 
tent for days at a time, with a hatchet and a flag placed 
at the door to indicate that he was not to be disturbed 
for any reason whatever ; until at last the cloud would 
lift, the signals would be removed, and the Governor would 
reappear, brisk and cheerful. During one of these re- 
tirements, there was a grave danger of a native attack 
upon the camp. Colonel Long, the chief of staff, ventured, 
after some hesitation, to ignore the flag and hatchet, 
and to enter the forbidden tent. He found Gordon 
seated at a table, upon which were an open Bible and 
an open bottle of brandy. Long explained the circum- 
stances, but could obtain no answer beyond the abrupt 
words " You are commander of the camp," and was 
obliged to retire, nonplussed, to deal with the situation 
as best he could. On the following morning Gordon, 
cleanly shaven, and in the full-dress uniform of the Royal 
Engineers, entered Long's hut with his usual tripping step, 
exclaiming " Old fellow, now don't be angry with me. 
I was very low last night. Let's have a good breakfast 
a little b. and s. Do you feel up to it ? " And, with 
these veering moods and dangerous restoratives, there 
came an intensification of the queer and violent elements 
in the temper of the man. His eccentricities grew upon 
him. He found it more and more uncomfortable to 
follow the ordinary course. Official routine was an 
agony to him. His caustic and satirical humour expressed 


itself in a style that astounded government departments. 
While he jibed > at his superiors, his subordinates learnt 
to dread the explosions of his wrath. There were moments 
when his passion became utterly ungovernable ; and the 
gentle soldier of God, who had spent the day in quoting 
texts for the edification of his sister, would slap the face 
of his Arab aide-de-camp in a sudden access of fury, or 
set upon his Alsatian servant and kick him till he 

At the end of three years, Gordon resigned his post 
in Equatoria, and prepared to return home. But again 
Providence intervened : the Khedive offered him, as an 
inducement to remain in the Egyptian service, a position 
of still higher consequence the Governor-Generalship 
of the whole Sudan ; and Gordon once more took up 
his task. Another three years were passed in grappling 
with vast revolting provinces, with the ineradicable 
iniquities of the slave-trade, with all the complications 
of weakness and corruption incident to an oriental 
administration extending over almost boundless tracts 
of savage territory which had never been effectively 
subdued. His headquarters were fixed in the palace 
at Khartoum ; but there were various interludes in his 
government. Once, when the Khedive's finances had 
become peculiarly embroiled, he summoned Gordon to 
Cairo, to preside over a commission which should set 
matters to rights. Gordon accepted the post, but soon 
found that his situation was untenable. He was between 
the devil and the deep sea between the unscrupulous 
cunning of the Egyptian Pashas and the immeasurable 
immensity of the Khedive's debts to his European creditors. 
The Pashas were anxious to use him as a respectable mask 
for their own nefarious dealings ; and the representatives 
of the European creditors, who looked upon him as an 
irresponsible intruder, were anxious simply to get rid 
of him as soon as they could. One of these representa- 
tives was Sir Evelyn Baring, whom Gordon now met 


for the first time. An immediate antagonism flashed 
out between the two men. But their hostility had no 
time to mature ; for Gordon, baffled on all sides, and 
deserted even by the Khedive, precipitately returned 
to his Governor-Generalship. Whatever else Providence 
might have decreed, it had certainly not decided that he 
should be a financier. 

His tastes and his talents were indeed of a very 
different kind. In his absence, a rebellion had broken 
out in Darfour one of the vast outlying provinces of 
his government where a native chieftain, Zobeir, had 
erected, on a basis of slave-traffic, a dangerous mili- 
tary power. Zobeir himself had been lured to Cairo, 
where he was detained in a state of semi-captivity ; but 
his son, Suleiman, ruled in his stead, and was now 
defying the Governor-General. Gordon determined upon 
a hazardous stroke. He mounted a camel, and rode, 
alone, in the blazing heat, across eighty-five miles of 
desert, to Suleiman's camp. His sudden apparition 
dumbfounded the rebels ; his imperious bearing overawed 
them ; he signified to them that in two days they must 
disarm and disperse ; and the whole host obeyed. 
Gordon returned to Khartoum in triumph. But he had 
not heard the last of Suleiman. Flying southwards 
from Darfour to the neighbouring province of Bahr- 
el-Ghazal, the young man was soon once more at the head 
of a formidable force. A prolonged campaign, of extreme 
difficulty and danger, followed. Eventually, Gordon, sum- 
moned again to Cairo, was obliged to leave to Gessi 
the task of finally crushing the revolt. After a 
brilliant campaign, Gessi forced Suleiman to surrender, 
and then shot him as a rebel. The deed was to exercise 
a curious influence upon Gordon's fate. 

Though Suleiman had been killed and his power 
broken, the slave-trade still flourished in the Sudan. 
Gordon's efforts to suppress it resembled the palliatives 
of an empiric treating the superficial symptoms of some 


profound constitutional disease. The root of the malady 
lay in the slave-markets of Cairo and Constantinople : 
the supply followed the demand. Gordon, after years 
of labour, might here and there stop up a spring or divert 
a tributary, but, somehow or other, the waters would 
reach the river-bed. In the end, he himself came to 
recognise this. " When you have got the ink that has 
soaked into blotting-paper out of it," he said, " then 
slavery will cease in these lands." And yet he struggled 
desperately on ; it was not for him to murmur. " I 
feel my own weakness, and look to Him who is Almighty, 
and I leave the issue without inordinate care to Him." 

Relief came at last. The Khedive Ismail was deposed ; 
and Gordon felt at liberty to send in his resignation. 
Before he left Egypt, however, he was to experience 
yet one more remarkable adventure. At his own request, 
he set out on a diplomatic mission to the Negus of 
Abyssinia. The mission was a complete failure. The 
Negus was intractable, and, when his bribes were refused, 
furious. Gordon was ignominiously dismissed ; every 
insult was heaped on him ; he was arrested, and obliged 
to traverse the Abyssinian Mountains in the depths of 
winter under the escort of a savage troop of horse. When, 
after great hardships and dangers, he reached Cairo, 
he found the whole official world up in arms against him. 
The Pashas had determined at last that they had no 
further use for this honest and peculiar Englishman. 
It was arranged that one of his confidential despatches 
should be published in the newspapers ; naturally, it 
contained indiscretions ; there was a universal outcry 
the man was insubordinate, and mad. He departed 
under a storm of obloquy. It seemed impossible that 
he should ever return to Egypt. 

On his way home, he stopped in Paris, saw the English 
ambassador, Lord Lyons, and speedily came into conflict 
with him over Egyptian affairs. There ensued a heated 
correspondence, which was finally closed by a letter 


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

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

Two days later, he was off for Pekin. " Every one 
will say I am mad," were his last words to Lord 
William Beresford ; " but you say I am not." The 
position in China was critical ; war with Russia appeared 
to be imminent ; and Gordon had been appealed to, in 
order to use his influence on the side of peace. He was 
welcomed by many old friends of former days, among 
them Li Hung Chang, whose diplomatic views coincided 
with his own. Li's diplomatic language, however, was 
less unconventional. In an interview with the Ministers, 


Gordon's expressions were such that the interpreter 
shook with terror, upset a cup of tea, and finally refused 
to translate the dreadful words ; upon which Gordon 
snatched up a dictionary, and, with his finger on the word 
" idiocy," showed it to the startled mandarins. A few 
weeks later, Li Hung Chang was in power, and peace 
was assured. Gordon had spent two and a half days 
in Pekin, and was whirling through China, when a tele- 
gram arrived from the home authorities, who viewed 
his movements with uneasiness, ordering him to return 
at once to England. "It did not produce a twitter in 
me," he wrote to his sister ; " I died long ago, and it 
will not make any difference to me ; I am prepared to 
follow the unrolling of the scroll." The world, perhaps, 
was not big enough for him ; and yet how clearly he 
recognised that he was " a poor insect ! " "My heart 
tells me that, and I am glad of it." 

On his return to England, he telegraphed to the Govern- 
ment of the Cape of Good Hope, which had become 
involved in a war with the Basutos, offering his services ; 
but his telegram received no reply. Just then, Sir 
Howard Elphinstone was appointed to the command of 
the Royal Engineers in Mauritius. It was a thankless 
and insignificant post ; and, rather than accept it, 
Elphinstone was prepared to retire from the army 
unless some other officer could be induced, in return for 
,800, to act as his substitute. Gordon, who was an old 
friend, agreed to undertake the work upon one condition : 
that he should receive nothing from Elphinstone ; and 
accordingly he spent the next year in that remote and 
unhealthy island, looking after the barrack repairs and 
testing the drains. While he was thus engaged, the 
Cape Government, whose difficulties had been increasing, 
changed its mind, and early in 1882, begged for Gordon's 
help. Once more he was involved in great affairs : a 
new field of action opened before him ; and then, in a 
moment, there was another shift of the kaleidoscope, 


and again he was thrown upon the world. Within a 
few weeks, after a violent quarrel with the Cape authorities, 
his mission had come to an end. What should he do next ? 
To what remote corner or what enormous stage, to what 
self-sacrificing drudgeries or what resounding exploits, 
would the hand of God lead him now ? He waited, in 
an odd hesitation. He opened the Bible, but neither 
the prophecies of Hosea nor the epistles to Timothy 
gave him any advice. The King of the Belgians asked if 
he would be willing to go to the Congo. He was perfectly 
willing ; he would go whenever the King of the Belgians 
sent for him ; his services, however, were not required 
yet. It was at this juncture that he betook himself 
to Palestine. His studies there were embodied in a 
correspondence with the Rev. Mr. Barnes, filling over 
two thousand pages of manuscript a correspondence 
which was only put an end to when, at last, the summons 
from the King of the Belgians came. He hurried back to 
England ; but it was not to the Congo that he was being 
led by the hand of God. 

Gordon's last great adventure, like his first, was 
occasioned by a religious revolt. At the very moment 
when, apparently for ever, he was shaking the dust of 
Egypt from his feet, Mahommed Ahmed was starting 
upon his extraordinary career in the Sudan. The time 
was propitious for revolutions. The effete Egyptian 
Empire was hovering upon the verge of collapse. The 
enormous territories of the Sudan were seething with 
discontent. Gordon's administration had, by its very 
vigour, only helped to precipitate the inevitable disaster. 
His attacks upon the slave-trade, his establishment of 
a government monopoly in ivory, his hostility to the 
Egyptian officials, had been so many shocks, shaking 
to its foundations the whole rickety machine. The 
result of all his efforts had been, on the one hand, to 


fill the most powerful classes in the community the 
dealers in slaves and ivory with a hatred of the govern- 
ment, and on the other to awaken among the mass of 
the inhabitants a new perception of the dishonesty and 
incompetence of their Egyptian masters. When, after 
Gordon's removal, the rule of the Pashas once more 
asserted itself over the Sudan, a general combustion 
became inevitable : the first spark would set off the 
blaze. Just then it happened that Mahommed Ahmed, 
the son of an insignificant priest in Dongola, having 
quarrelled with the Sheikh from whom he was receiving 
religious instruction, set up as an independent preacher, 
with his headquarters at Abba Island, on the Nile, a 
hundred and fifty miles above Khartoum. Like Hong- 
siu-tsuen, he began as a religious reformer, and ended 
as a rebel king. It was his mission, he declared, to purge 
the true Faith of its worldliness and corruptions, to lead 
the followers of the Prophet into the paths of chastity, 
simplicity, and holiness ; with the puritanical zeal of a 
Calvin, he denounced junketings and merrymakings, 
songs and dances, lewd living and all the delights of the 
flesh. He fell into trances, he saw visions, he saw the 
Prophet and Jesus, and the Angel Izrail accompanying 
him and watching over him for ever. He prophesied, 
and performed miracles, and his fame spread through 
the land. 

There is an ancient tradition in the Mahommedan 
world, telling of a mysterious being, the last in succession 
of the twelve holy Imams, who, untouched by death 
and withdrawn into the recesses of a mountain, was 
destined, at the appointed hour, to come forth again 
among men. His title was the Mahdi, the guide ; some 
believed that he would be the forerunner of the Messiah ; 
others that he would be Christ himself. Already various 
Mahdis had made their appearance ; several had been 
highly successful, and two, in mediaeval times, had 
founded dynasties in Egypt. But who could tell whether 


all these were not impostors ? Might not the twelfth 
Imam be still waiting, in mystical concealment, ready to 
emerge, at any moment, at the bidding of God ? There 
were signs by which the true Mahdi might be recognised 
unmistakable signs, if one could but read them aright. 
He must be of the family of the prophet ; he must possess 
miraculous powers of no common kind ; and his person 
must be overflowing with a peculiar sanctity. The 
pious dwellers beside those distant waters, where holy 
men by dint of a constant repetition of one of the ninety- 
nine names of God, secured the protection of guardian 
angels, and where groups of devotees, shaking their 
heads with a violence which would unseat the reason 
of less athletic worshippers, attained to an extraordinary 
beatitude, heard with awe of the young preacher whose 
saintliness was almost more than mortal and whose 
miracles brought amazement to the mind. Was he not 
also of the family of the prophet ? He himself had said 
so ; and who would disbelieve the holy man ? When 
he appeared in person, every doubt was swept away. 
There was a strange splendour in his presence, an over- 
powering passion in the torrent of his speech. Great 
was the wickedness of the people, and great was their 
punishment ! Surely their miseries were a visible sign 
of the wrath of the Lord. They had sinned, and 
the cruel tax-gatherers had come among them, and the 
corrupt governors, and all the oppressions of the 
Egyptians. Yet these things, too, should have an end. 
The Lord would raise up his chosen deliverer : the hearts 
of the people would be purified, and their enemies would 
be laid low. The accursed Egyptian would be driven 
from the land. Let the faithful take heart and make 
ready. How soon might not the long-predestined hour 
strike, when the twelfth Imam, the guide, the Mahdi, 
would reveal himself to the World ? In that hour, the 
righteous would triumph and the guilty be laid low for 
ever. Such was the teaching of Mahommed Ahmed. 


A band of enthusiastic disciples gathered round him, eagerly 
waiting for the revelation which would crown their hopes. 
At last, the moment came. One evening, at Abba Island, 
taking aside the foremost of his followers, the Master 
whispered the portentous news. He was the Mahdi. 

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

The retreat was a triumphal progress. The country, 
groaning under alien misgovernment and vibrating with 
religious excitement, suddenly found in this rebellious 
prophet a rallying point, a hero, a deliverer. And now 
another element was added to the forces of insurrection. 
The Baggara tribes of Kordofan, cattle-owners and slave- 
traders, the most warlike and vigorous of the inhabitants 
of the Sudan, threw in their lot with the Mahdi. Their 
powerful emirs, still smarting from the blows of Gordon, 
saw that the opportunity for revenge had come. A holy 
war was proclaimed against the Egyptian misbelievers. 
The followers of the Mahdi, dressed, in token of a new 
austerity of living, in the "jibbeh," or white smock of 


coarse cloth, patched with variously shaped and coloured 
patches, were rapidly organised into a formidable army. 
Several attacks from Khartoum were repulsed ; and at 
last the Mahdi felt strong enough to advance against the 
enemy. While his lieutenants led detachments into the 
vast provinces lying to the west and the south Darfour 
and Bahr-el-Ghazal he himself marched upon El Obeid, 
the capital of Kordofan. It was in vain that reinforce- 
ments were hurried from Khartoum to the assistance of 
the garrison : there was some severe fighting ; the 
town was completely cut off ; and, after a six months' 
siege, it surrendered. A great quantity of guns and 
ammunition and 100,000 in specie fell into the hands of 
the Mahdi. He was master of Kordofan : he was at the 
head of a great army ; he was rich ; he was worshipped. 
A dazzling future opened before him. No possibility 
seemed too remote, no fortune too magnificent. A vision 
of universal empire hovered before his eyes. Allah, 
whose servant he was, who had led him thus far, would 
lead him onward still, to the glorious end. 

For some months he remained at El Obeid, consoli- 
dating his dominion. In a series of circular letters, he 
described his colloquies with the Almighty and laid 
down the rule of living which his followers were to pursue. 
The faithful, under pain of severe punishment, were to 
return to the ascetic simplicity of ancient times. A 
criminal code was drawn up, meting out executions, 
mutilations, and floggings with a barbaric zeal. The 
blasphemer was to be instantly hanged, the adulterer 
was to be scourged with whips of rhinoceros hide, the 
thief was to have his right hand and his left foot hacked 
off in the market-place. No more were marriages to be 
celebrated with pomp and feasting, no more was the 
youthful warrior to swagger with flowing hair : hence- 
forth the believer must banquet on dates and milk, and 
his head must be kept shaved. Minor transgressions were 
punished by confiscation of property, or by imprisonment 


and chains. But the rhinoceros whip was the favourite 
instrument of chastisement. Men were flogged for 
drinking a glass of wine, they were flogged for smoking ; 
if they swore, they received eighty lashes for every 
expletive ; and after eighty lashes it was a common thing 
to die. Before long, flogging grew to be so everyday an 
incident that the young men made a game of it, as a test 
of their endurance of pain. With this Spartan ferocity 
there was mingled the glamour and the mystery of the 
East. The Mahdi himself, his four Khalifas, and the 
principal emirs, masters of sudden riches, surrounded 
themselves with slaves and women, with trains of horses 
and asses, with bodyguards and glittering arms. There 
were rumours of debaucheries in high places ; of the Mahdi, 
forgetful of his own ordinances, revelling in the recesses 
of his harem, and quaffing date syrup mixed with ginger 
out of the silver cups looted from the church of 
the Christians. But that imposing figure had only to 
show itself for the tongue of scandal to be stilled. The 
tall, broad-shouldered, majestic man, with the dark face 
and black beard and great eyes who could doubt that 
he was the embodiment of a superhuman power ? 
Fascination dwelt in every movement, every glance. 
The eyes, painted with antimony, flashed extraordinary 
fires ; the exquisite smile revealed, beneath the vigorous 
lips, white upper teeth with a V-shaped space between 
them the certain sign of fortune. His turban was 
folded with faultless art, his jibbeh, speckless, was per- 
fumed with sandal-wood, musk, and attar of roses. He 
was at once all courtesy and all command. Thousands 
followed him, thousands prostrated themselves before 
him ; thousands, when he lifted up his voice in solemn 
worship, knew that the heavens were opened and that 
they had come near to God. Then all at once the onbeia 
the elephant's tusk trumpet would give out its enor- 
mous sound. The nahas the brazen war-drums would 
summon, with their weird rolling, the whole host to arms. 


The green flag and the red flag and the black flag 
would rise over the multitude. The great army would 
move forward, coloured, glistening, dark, violent, proud, 
beautiful. The drunkenness, the madness, of religion 
would blaze on every face ; and the Mahdi, immovable 
on his charger, would let the scene grow under his eyes 
in silence. 

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

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


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


Mahdi, with forty thousand of his finest men, sprang 
from their ambush. The Egyptians were surrounded, 
and immediately overpowered. It was not a defeat, 
but an annihilation. Hicks and his European staff were 
slaughtered ; the whole army was slaughtered ; three 
hundred wounded wretches crept away into the forest 

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

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


to withdraw from Egypt altogether and at once. On 
the other hand, another and a more influential minority, 
with representatives in the Cabinet, were in favour of 
a more active intervention in Egyptian affairs of the 
deliberate use of the power of England to give to Egypt 
internal stability and external security ; they were ready, 
if necessary, to take the field against the Mahdi with 
English troops. But the great bulk of the party, and 
the Cabinet, with Mr. Gladstone at their head, preferred 
a middle course. Realising the impracticability of an 
immediate withdrawal, they were nevertheless deter- 
mined to remain in Egypt not a moment longer than 
was necessary, and, in the meantime, to interfere as 
little as possible in Egyptian affairs. From a campaign 
in the Sudan conducted by an English army they were 
altogether averse. If, therefore, the English army was 
not to be used, and the Egyptian army was not fit to 
1 be used, against the Mahdi, it followed that any attempt 
to reconquer the Sudan must be abandoned ; the 
remaining Egyptian troops must be withdrawn, and 
in future military operations must be limited to those 
of a strictly defensive kind. Such was the decision 
of the English Government. Their determination was 
strengthened by two considerations : in the first place, 
they saw that the Mahdi's rebellion was largely a 
nationalist movement, directed against an alien power, 
and, in the second place, the policy of withdrawal from 
the Sudan was the policy of their own representative in 
Egypt, Sir Evelyn Baring, who had lately been appointed 
Consul-General at Cairo. There was only one serious 
obstacle in the way the attitude of the Pashas at the 
head of the Egyptian Government. The infatuated old 
men were convinced that they would have better luck 
next time, that another army and another Hicks would 
certainly destroy the Mahdi, and that, even if the Mahdi 
were again victorious, yet another army and yet another 
Hicks would no doubt be forthcoming, and that they 


would do the trick, or, failing that . . . but they refused 
to consider eventualities any further. In the face of such 
opposition, the English Government, unwilling as they 
were to interfere, saw that there was no choice open to 
them but to exercise pressure. They therefore instructed 
Sir Evelyn Baring, in the event of the Egyptian Govern- 
ment refusing to withdraw from the Sudan, to insist 
upon the Khedive's appointing other Ministers who would 
be willing to do so. 

Meanwhile, not only the Government, but the public 
in England were beginning to realise the alarming nature 
of the Egyptian situation. It was some time before the 
details of the Hicks expedition were fully known, but 
when they were, and when the appalling character of 
the disaster was understood, a thrill of horror ran through 
the country. The newspapers became full of articles 
on the Sudan, of personal descriptions of the Mahdi, 
of agitated letters from Colonels and clergymen demand- 
ing vengeance, and of serious discussions of future policy 
in Egypt. Then, at the beginning of the new year, 
alarming messages began to arrive from Khartoum. 
Colonel Coetlogon, who was in command of the Egyptian 
troops, reported a menacing concentration of the enemy. 
Day by day, hour by hour, affairs grew worse. The 
Egyptians were obviously outnumbered : they could 
not maintain themselves in the field ; Khartoum was 
in danger ; at any moment, its investment might be 
complete. And, with Khartoum once cut off from com- 
munication with Egypt, what might not happen ? Colonel 
Coetlogon began to calculate how long the city would 
hold out. Perhaps it could not resist the Mahdi for 
a month, perhaps for more than a month ; but he began 
to talk of the necessity of a speedy retreat. It was clear 
that a climax was approaching, and that measures must 
be taken to forestall it at once. Accordingly, Sir Evelyn 
Baring, on receipt of final orders from England, pre- 
sented an ultimatum to the Egyptian Government : the 


Ministry must either sanction the evacuation of the Sudan, 
or it must resign. The Ministry was obstinate, and, 
on January yth, 1884, it resigned, to be replaced by a 
more pliable body of Pashas. On the same day, General 
Gordon arrived at Southampton. 

He was over fifty, and he was still, by the world's 
measurements, an unimportant man. In spite of his 
achievements, in spite of a certain celebrity for 
" Chinese Gordon " was still occasionally spoken of 
he was unrecognised and almost unemployed. He had 
spent ajife-time in the dubious services of foreign Govern- 
ments, punctuated by futile drudgeries at home ; and 
now, after a long idleness, he had been sent for to do 
what ? to look after the Congo for the King of the 
Belgians. At his age, even if he survived the work and 
the climate, he could hardly look forward to any subse- 
quent appointment ; he would return from the Congo, 
old and worn out, to a red-brick villa and extinction. 
Such were General Gordon's prospects on January yth, 
1884. By January i8th, his name was on every tongue, 
he was the favourite of the nation, he had been declared 
to be the one man living capable of coping with the 
perils of the hour, he had been chosen, with unanimous 
approval, to perform a great task, and he had left England 
on a mission which was to bring him not only a bound- 
less popularity but an immortal fame. The circum- 
stances which led to a change so sudden and so remarkable 
are less easily explained than might have been wished. 
An ambiguity hangs over them an ambiguity which the 
discretion of eminent persons has certainly not diminished. 
But some of the facts are clear enough. 

The decision to withdraw from the Sudan had no 
sooner been taken than it had become evident that the 
operation would be a difficult and hazardous one, and 
that it would be necessary to send to Khartoum an 
emissary armed with special powers and possessed of 
special ability, to carry it out. Towards the end of 


November, somebody at the War Office it is not clear 
who had suggested that this emissary should be General 
Gordon. Lord Granville, the Foreign Secretary, had 
thereupon telegraphed to Sir Evelyn Baring asking 
whether, in his opinion, the presence of General Gordon 
would be useful in Egypt ; Sir Evelyn Baring had replied 
that the Egyptian Government were averse to this pro- 
posal, and the matter had dropped. There was no further 
reference to Gordon in the official despatches until 
after his return to England. Nor, before that date, 
was any allusion made to him, as a possible unraveller 
of the Sudan difficulty, in the Press. In all the dis- 
cussions which followed the news of the Hicks disaster, 
his name is only to be found in occasional and incidental 
references to his work in the Sudan. The Pall Mall 
Gazette, which, more than any other newspaper, interested 
itself in Egyptian affairs, alluded to Gordon once or twice 
as a geographical expert ; but, in an enumeration of 
the leading authorities on the Sudan, left him out of 
account altogether. Yet it was from the Pall Mall 
Gazette that the impulsion which projected him into a 
blaze of publicity finally came. Mr. Stead, its enter- 
prising editor, went down to Southampton the day after 
Gordon's arrival there, and obtained an interview. Now 
when he was in the mood after a little b. and s., especially 
no one was more capable than Gordon, with his facile 
speech and his free-and-easy manners, of furnishing good 
copy for a journalist ; and Mr. Stead made the most 
of his opportunity. The interview, copious and pointed, 
was published next day in the most prominent part of 
the paper, together with a leading article, demanding 
that the General should be immediately despatched to 
Khartoum with the widest powers. The rest of the Press, 
both in London and in the provinces, at once took up 
the cry. General Gordon was a capable and energetic 
officer, he was a noble and God-fearing man, he was a 
national asset, he was a statesman in the highest sense 


of the word ; the occasion was pressing and perilous ; 
General Gordon had been for years Governor-General 
of the Sudan ; General Gordon alone had the knowledge, 
the courage, the virtue, which would save the situation ; 
General Gordon must go to Khartoum. So, for a week, 
the papers sang in chorus. But already those in high 
places had taken a step. Mr. Stead's interview appeared 
on the afternoon of January gth, and on the morning 
of January loth Lord Granville telegraphed to Sir 
Evelyn Baring, proposing, for a second time, that 
Gordon's services should be utilised in Egypt. But 
Sir Evelyn Baring, for the second time, rejected the 

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


sliding movement, the door swung to, and the Vicar 
found himself alone again. 

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

A few days later, it appeared that the conversa- 
tion in the carriage at Heavitree had borne fruit. 
Gordon wrote a letter to Sir Samuel Baker, further 
elaborating the opinions on the Sudan which he had 
already expressed in his interview with Mr. Stead ; the 
letter was clearly intended for publication, and published 
it was, in the Times of January I4th. On the same day, 
Gordon's name began once more to buzz along the wires 
in secret questions and answers to and from the highest 

" Might it not be advisable," telegraphed Lord 
Granville to Mr. Gladstone, " to put a little pressure on 
Baring, to induce him to accept the assistance of General 
Gordon ? " Mr. Gladstone replied, also by a telegram, 
in the affirmative ; and on the I5th Lord Wolseley 
telegraphed to Gordon begging him to come to London 
immediately. Lord Wolseley, who was one of Gordon's 
oldest friends, was at that time Adjutant-General of the 
Forces ; there was a long interview ; and, though the 
details of the conversation have never transpired, it is 
known that, in the course of it, Lord Wolseley asked 
Gordon if he would be willing to go to the Sudan, to which 
Gordon replied that there was only one objection his prior 
engagement to the King of the Belgians. Before night- 
fall, Lord Granville, by private telegram, had " put a 
little pressure on Baring." " He had," he said, " heard 


indirectly that Gordon was ready to go at once to the 
Sudan on the following rather vague terms. His mission 
to be to report to Her Majesty's Government on the 
military situation, and to return without any further 
engagement. He would be under you for instructions 
and will send letters through you under flying seal. . . . 
He might be of use," Lord Granville added, " in informing 
you and us of the situation. It would be popular at 
home, but there may be countervailing objections. Tell 
me," such was Lord Granville's concluding injunction, 
" your real opinion." It was the third time of asking, 
and Sir Evelyn Baring resisted no longer. " Gordon," 
he telegraphed on the 1 6th, " would be the best man if 
he will pledge himself to carry out the policy of with- 
drawing from the Sudan as quickly as is possible consis- 
tently with saving life. He must also understand that he 
must take his instructions from the British representative 
in Egypt. ... I would rather have him than any one 
else, provided there is a perfectly clear understanding 
with him as to what his position is to be and what line 
of policy he is to carry out. Otherwise, not. . . . 
Whoever goes should be distinctly warned that he will 
undertake a service of great difficulty and danger." In 
the meantime, Gordon, with the Sudan upon his lips, with 
the Sudan in his imagination, had hurried to Brussels, 
to obtain from the King of the Belgians a reluctant 
consent to the postponement of his Congo mission. On 
the i yth he was recalled to London by a telegram from 
Lord Wolseley. On the i8th the final decision was 
made. " At noon," Gordon told the Rev. Mr. Barnes, 
" Wolseley came to me and took me to the Ministers. 
He went in and talked to the Ministers, and came back 
and said : ' Her Majesty's Government want you to 
undertake this. Government are determined to evacuate 
the Sudan, for they will not guarantee future govern- 
j ment. Will you go and do it ? ' I said : * Yes.' He said : 
' Go in.' I went in and saw them. They said : ' Did 


Wolseley tell you your orders ? ' I said : ' Yes.' I said : 
' You will not guarantee future government of the Sudan, 
and you wish me to go up and evacuate now.' They 
said : ' Yes,' and it was over." 

Such was the sequence of events which ended in 
General Gordon's last appointment. The precise motives 
of those responsible for these transactions are less easy 
to discern. It is difficult to understand what the reasons 
could have been which induced the Government, not 
only to override the hesitations of Sir Evelyn Baring, 
but to overlook the grave and obvious dangers involved 
in sending such a man as Gordon to the Sudan. The 
whole history of his life, the whole bent of his character, 
seemed to disqualify him for the task for which he had 
been chosen. He was before all things a fighter, an 
enthusiast, a bold adventurer ; and he was now to be 
entrusted with the conduct of an inglorious retreat. 
He was alien to the subtleties of civilised statesman- 
ship, he was unamenable to official control, he was 
incapable of the skilful management of delicate situ- 
ations j and he was now to be placed in a position of 
great complexity, requiring at once a cool judgment, a 
clear perception of fact, and a fixed determination to 
carry out a line of policy laid down from above. He 
had, it is true, been Governor-General of the Sudan ; 
but he was now to return to the scene of his greatness 
as the emissary of a defeated and humbled power ; he 
was to be a fugitive where he had once been a ruler ; the 
very success of his mission was to consist in establishing 
the triumph of those forces which he had spent years 
in trampling under foot. All this should have been clear 
to those in authority, after a very little reflection. It 
was clear enough to Sir Evelyn Baring, though, with 
characteristic reticence, he had abstained from giving 
expression to his thoughts. But, even if a general 
acquaintance with Gordon's life and character were not 
sufficient to lead to these conclusions, he himself had 


taken care to put their validity beyond reasonable doubt. 
Both in his interview with Mr. Stead and in his letter 
to Sir Samuel Baker, he had indicated unmistakably his 
own attitude towards the Sudan situation. The policy 
which he advocated, the state of feeling in which he showed 
himself to be, were diametrically opposed to the declared 
intentions of the Government. He was by no means 
in favour of withdrawing from the Sudan : he was in 
favour, as might have been supposed, of vigorous military 
action. It might be necessary to abandon, for the time 
being, the more remote garrisons in Darfour and 
Equatoria ; but Khartoum must be held at all costs. 
To allow the Mahdi to enter Khartoum would not merely 
mean the return of the whole of the Sudan to barbarism, 
it would be a menace to the safety of Egypt herself. To 
attempt to protect Egypt against the Mahdi by forti- 
fying her southern frontier was preposterous. ;t You 
might as well fortify against a fever." Arabia, Syria, 
the whole Mohammedan world, would be shaken by the 
Mahdi's advance. " In self-defence," Gordon declared 
to Mr. Stead, " the policy of evacuation cannot possibly 
be justified." The true policy was obvious. A strong 
man Sir Samuel Baker, perhaps must be sent to 
Khartoum, with a large contingent of Indian and Turkish 
troops and with two millions of money. He would very 
soon overpower the Mahdi, whose forces would " fall to 
pieces of themselves." For in Gordon's opinion it was 
"an entire mistake to regard the Mahdi as in any sense 
a religious leader " ; he would collapse as soon as he 
was face to face with an English general. Then the 
distant regions of Darfour and Equatoria could once more 
be occupied ; their original Sultans could be reinstated ; 
the whole country would be placed under civilised rule ; 
and the slave-trade would be finally abolished. These 
were the views which Gordon publicly expressed on 
January 9th and on January I4th ; and it certainly 
seems strange that on January loth and on January I4th, 


Lord Granville should have proposed, without a word 
of consultation with Gordon himself, to send him on a 
mission which involved, not the reconquest, but the 
abandonment, of the Sudan. Gordon, indeed, when 
he was actually approached by Lord Wolseley, had 
apparently agreed to become the agent of a policy which 
was exactly the reverse of his own. No doubt, too, it 
is possible for a subordinate to suppress his private con- 
victions and to carry out loyally, in spite of them, the 
orders of his superiors. But how rare are the qualities 
of self-control and wisdom which such a subordinate 
must possess ! And how little reason there was to 
think that General Gordon possessed them ! 

In fact, the conduct of the Government wears so 
singular an appearance that it has seemed necessary 
to account for it by some ulterior explanation. It has 
often been asserted that the true cause of Gordon's 
appointment was the clamour in the Press. It is said 
among others, by Sir Evelyn Baring himself, who has 
given something like an official sanction to this view 
of the case that the Government could not resist the 
pressure of the newspapers and the feeling in the country 
which it indicated ; that Ministers, carried off their 
feet by a wave of " Gordon cultus," were obliged to give 
way to the inevitable. But this suggestion is hardly 
supported by an examination of the facts. Already, 
early in December, and many weeks before Gordon's 
name had begun to figure in the newspapers, Lord 
Granville had made his first effort to induce Sir Evelyn 
Baring to accept Gordon's services. The first news- 
paper demand for a Gordon mission appeared in the 
Pall Mall Gazette on the afternoon of January 9th ; and 
the very next morning Lord Granville was making his 
second telegraphic attack upon Sir Evelyn Baring. The 
feeling in the Press did not become general until the 1 1 th, 
and on the I4th Lord Granville, in his telegram to Mr 
Gladstone, for the third time proposed the appointment 


cf Gordon. Clearly, on the part of Lord Granville at 
any rate, there was no extreme desire to resist the 
wishes of the Press. Nor was the Government as a 
whole by any means incapable of ignoring public opinion : 
a few months were to show that, plainly enough. It 
is difficult to avoid the conclusion that if Ministers had 
been opposed to the appointment of Gordon, he would 
never have been appointed. As it was, the newspapers 
were in fact forestalled, rather than followed, by the 

How, then, are we to explain the Government's 
action ? Are we to suppose that its members, like the 
members of the public at large, were themselves carried 
away by a sudden enthusiasm, a sudden conviction that 
they had found their saviour, that General Gordon was 
the man they did not quite know why, but that was 
of no consequence the one man to get them out of the 
! whole Sudan difficulty they did not quite know how, 
i but that was of no consequence either if only he were 
sent to Khartoum ? Doubtless even Cabinet Ministers 
are liable to such impulses ; doubtless it is possible that 
the Cabinet of that day allowed itself to drift, out of 
mere lack of consideration, and judgment, and foresight, 
along the rapid stream of popular feeling towards the 
inevitable cataract. That may be so ; yet there are 
indications that a more definite influence was at work. 
There was a section of the Government which had never 
become quite reconciled to the policy of withdrawing 
from the Sudan. To this section we may call it the 
imperialist section which was led, inside the Cabinet, 
by Lord Hartington, and outside by Lord Wolseley, 
the policy which really commended itself was the very 
policy which had been outlined by General Gordon in 
his interview with Mr. Stead and his letter to Sir Samuel 
Baker. They saw that it might be necessary to abandon 
some of the outlying parts of the Sudan to the Mahdi ; 
but the prospect of leaving the whole province in his 


hands was highly distasteful to them ; above all, they 
dreaded the loss of Khartoum. Now, supposing that 
General Gordon, in response to a popular agitation in 
the Press, were sent to Khartoum, what would follow ? 
Was it not at least possible that, once there, with his 
views and his character, he would, for some reason or 
other, refrain from carrying out a policy of pacific retreat ? 
Was it not possible that in that case he might so involve 
the English Government that it would find itself obliged, 
almost imperceptibly perhaps, to substitute for its policy 
of withdrawal a policy of advance ? Was it not possible 
that General Gordon might get into difficulties, that he 
might be surrounded and cut off from Egypt ? If that 
were to happen, how could the English Government avoid 
the necessity of sending an expedition to rescue him ? 
And, if an English expedition went to the Sudan, was 
it conceivable that it would leave the Mahdi as it found 
him ? In short, would not the despatch of General 
Gordon to Khartoum involve, almost inevitably, the 
conquest of the Sudan by British troops, followed by 
a British occupation ? And, behind all these questions, 
a still larger question loomed. The position of the English 
in Egypt itself was still ambiguous ; the future was obscure ; 
how long, in reality, would an English army remain in 
Egypt ? Was not one thing, at least, obvious that if 
the English were to conquer and occupy the Sudan, their 
evacuation of Egypt would become impossible ? 

With our present information, it would be rash to 
affirm that all, or any, of these considerations were 
present to the minds of the imperialist section of the 
Government. Yet it is difficult to believe that a man 
such as Lord Wolseley, for instance, with his knowledge 
of affairs and his knowledge of Gordon, could have alto- 
gether overlooked them. Lord Hartington, indeed, may 
well have failed to realise at once the implications of 
General Gordon's appointment for it took Lord Hart- 
ington some time to realise the implications of anything ; 


but Lord Hartington was very far from being a fool : 
and we may well suppose that he instinctively, perhaps 
subconsciously, apprehended the elements of a situation 
which he never formulated to himself. However that 
may be, certain circumstances are significant. It is 
significant that the go-between who acted as the Govern- 
ment's agent in its negotiations with Gordon was an 
imperialist Lord Wolseley. It is significant that the 
" Ministers " whom Gordon finally interviewed, and who 
actually determined his appointment, were by no means 
the whole of the Cabinet, but a small section of it, pre- 
sided over by Lord Hartington. It is significant, too, that 
Gordon's mission was represented both to Sir Evelyn 
Baring, who was opposed to his appointment, and to Mr. 
Gladstone, who was opposed to an active policy in the 
Sudan, as a mission merely " to report " ; while, no sooner 
was the mission actually decided upon, than it began 
to assume a very different complexion. In his final inter- 
view with the " Ministers," Gordon, we know (though he 
said nothing about it to the Rev. Mr. Barnes), threw out 
the suggestion that it might be as well to make him the 
Governor-General of the Sudan. The suggestion, for 
the moment, was not taken up ; but it is obvious that a 
man does not propose to become a Governor-General in 
order to make a report. 

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

But it is time to return to the solidity of fact. Within 
a few hours of his interview with the Ministers, Gordon 



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

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


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

In the meantime, failing Zobeir, something might 


perhaps be done with the Emir Abdul-Shakour, the heir 
of the Darfour Sultans. The Emir, who had been living 
in domestic retirement in Cairo, was with some difficulty 
discovered, given 2000, an embroidered uniform, together 
with the largest decoration that could be found, and 
informed that he was to start at once with General Gordon 
for the Sudan, where it would be his duty to occupy the 
province of Darfour, after driving out the forces of the 
Mahdi. The poor man begged for a little delay ; but no 
delay could be granted. He hurried to the railway station 
in his frock-coat and fez, and rather the worse for liquor. 
Several extra carriages for his twenty-three wives and a 
large quantity of luggage had then to be hitched on to the 
Governor-General's train ; and at the last moment some 
commotion was caused by the unaccountable disappear- 
ance of his embroidered uniform. It was found, but his 
troubles were not over. On the steamer, General Gordon 
was very rude to him, and he drowned his chagrin in hot 
rum and water. At Assuan he disembarked, declaring 
that he would go no farther. Eventually, however, he 
got as far as Dongola, whence, after a stay of a few months, 
he returned with his family to Cairo. 

In spite of this little contretemps, Gordon was in the 
highest spirits. At last his capacities had been recognised 
by his countrymen ; at last he had been entrusted with 
a task great enough to satisfy even his desires. He was 
already famous ; he would soon be glorious. Looking 
out once more over the familiar desert, he felt the searching? 
of his conscience stilled by the manifest certainty that it 
was for this that Providence had been reserving him through 
all these years of labour and of sorrow for this ! What 
was the Mahdi to stand up against him ! A thousand 
schemes, a thousand possibilities sprang to life in his 
pullulating brain. A new intoxication carried him away. 
" II faut Stre toujours ivre. Tout est la : c'est 1'unique 
question." Little though he knew it, Gordon was a 
disciple of Baudelaire. " Pour ne pas sentir 1'horrible 


fardeau du Temps qui brise vos epaules et vous penche 
vers la terre, il faut vous enivrer sans treve." Yes ; but 
how feeble were those gross resources of the miserable 
Abdul-Shakour ! Rum ? Brandy ? Oh, he knew all 
about them ; they were nothing. He tossed off a glass. 
They were nothing at all. The true drunkenness lay else- 
where. He seized a paper and pencil, and dashed down a 
telegram to Sir Evelyn Baring. Another thought struck 
him, and another telegram followed. And another, and 
yet another. He had made up his mind ; he would visit 
the Mahdi in person, and alone. He might do that ; or 
he might retire to the equator. He would decidedly 
retire to the equator, and hand over the Bahr-el-Ghazal 
province to the King of the Belgians. A whole flock of 
telegrams flew to Cairo from every stopping-place. Sir 
Evelyn Baring was patient and discreet ; he could be 
trusted with such confidences ; but unfortunately Gordon's 
strange exhilaration found other outlets. At Berber, in the 
course of a speech to the assembled chiefs, he revealed 
the intention of the Egyptian Government to withdraw 
from the Sudan. The news was everywhere in a moment, 
and the results were disastrous. The tribesmen, whom 
fear and interest had still kept loyal, perceived that they 
need look no more for help or punishment from Egypt, 
and began to turn their eyes towards the rising sun. 

Nevertheless, for the moment, the prospect wore a 
favourable appearance. The Governor-General was wel- 
comed at every stage of his journey, and on February i8th 
he made a triumphal entry into Khartoum. The feeble 
garrison, the panic-stricken inhabitants, hailed him as a 
deliverer. Surely they need fear no more, now that the 
great English Pasha had come among them. His first 
acts seemed to show that a new and happy era had begun. 
Taxes were remitted, the bonds of the usurers were 
destroyed, the victims of Egyptian injustice were set free 
from the prisons ; the immemorial instruments of torture 

the stocks and the whips and the branding-irons were 


broken to pieces in the public square. A bolder measure 
had been already taken. A proclamation had been issued 
sanctioning slavery in the Sudan. Gordon, arguing that 
he was powerless to do away with the odious institution, 
which, as soon as the withdrawal was carried out, would 
inevitably become universal, had decided to reap what 
benefit he could from the public abandonment of an un- 
popular policy. At Khartoum the announcement was 
received with enthusiasm, but it caused considerable 
perturbation in England. The Christian hero, who had 
spent so many years of his life in suppressing slavery, 
was now suddenly found to be using his high powers to 
set it up again. The Anti-Slavery Society made a menacing 
movement, but the Government showed a bold front, and 
the popular belief in Gordon's infallibility carried the day. 
He himself was still radiant. Nor, amid the jubilation 
and the devotion which surrounded him, did he forget 
higher things. In all this turmoil, he told his sister, he 
was "supported." He gave injunctions that his Egyptian 
troops should have regular morning and evening prayers j 
" they worship one God," he said, " Jehovah." And he 
ordered an Arabic text, " God rules the hearts of all men," 
to be put up over the chair of state in his audience chamber. 
As the days went by, he began to feel at home again in the 
huge palace which he knew so well. The glare and 
the heat of that southern atmosphere, the movement of the 
crowded city, the dark-faced populace, the soldiers and 
the suppliants, the reawakened consciousness of power, 
the glamour and the mystery of the whole strange scene 
these things seized upon him, engulfed him, and worked 
a new transformation on his intoxicated heart. England, 
with its complications and its policies, became an empty 
vision to him ; Sir Evelyn Baring, with his cautions and 
sagacities, hardly more than a tiresome name. He was 
Gordon Pasha, he was the Governor- General, he was the 
ruler of the Sudan. He was among his people his own 
people, and it was to them only that he was responsible 


to them, and to God. Was he to let them fall without a 
blow into the clutches of a sanguinary impostor ? Never ! 
He was there to prevent that. The distant governments 
might mutter something about " evacuation " } his thoughts 
were elsewhere. He poured them into his telegrams, and 
Sir Evelyn Baring sat aghast. The man who had left 
London a month before, with instructions to " report 
upon the best means of effecting the evacuation of the 
Sudan," was now openly talking of '* smashing up the 
Mahdi " with the aid of British and Indian troops. Sir 
Evelyn Baring counted up on his fingers the various stages 
of this extraordinary development in General Gordon's 
opinions. But he might have saved himself the trouble, 
for, in fact, it was less a development than a reversion. 
Under the stress of the excitements and the realities of his 
situation at Khartoum, the policy which Gordon was 
now proposing to carry out had come to tally, in every 
particular, with the policy which he had originally advocated 
with such vigorous conviction in the pages of the Pall 
Mall Gazette. 

Nor was the adoption of that policy by the English 
Government by any means out of the question. For, 
in the meantime, events had been taking place in the 
Eastern Sudan, in the neighbourhood of the Red Sea 
port of Suakin, which were to have a decisive effect upon 
the prospects of Khartoum. General Baker, the brother 
of Sir Samuel Baker, attempting to relieve the beleaguered 
garrisons of Sinkat and Tokar, had rashly attacked the 
forces of Osman Digna, had been defeated, and obliged 
to retire. Sinkat and Tokar had then fallen into the 
hands of the Mahdi's general. There was a great outcry 
in England, and a wave of warlike feeling passed over the 
country. Lord Wolseley at once drew up a memorandum 
advocating the annexation of the Sudan. In the House 
of Commons even Liberals began to demand vengeance 
and military action, whereupon the Government despatched 
Sir Gerald Graham with a considerable British force to 


Suakin. Sir Gerald Graham advanced, and in the battles 
of El Teb and Tamai inflicted two bloody defeats upon 
the Mahdi's forces. It almost seemed as if the Govern- 
ment was now committed to a policy of interference and 
conquest ; as if the imperialist section of the Cabinet 
were at last to have their way. The despatch of Sir 
Gerald Graham coincided with Gordon's sudden demand 
for British and Indian troops with which to " smash up 
the Mahdi." The business, he assured Sir Evelyn Baring, 
in a stream of telegrams, could very easily be done. It 
made him sick, he said, to see himself held in check and 
the people of the Sudan tyrannised over by " a feeble 
lot of stinking Dervishes." Let Zobeir at once be sent 
down to him, and all would be well. The original Sultans 
of the country had unfortunately proved disappointing. 
Their place should be taken by Zobeir. After the Mahdi 
had been smashed up, Zobeir should rule the Sudan as 
a subsidised vassal of England, on a similar footing to 
that of the Ameer of Afghanistan. The plan was perhaps 
feasible ; but it was clearly incompatible with the policy 
of evacuation, as it had been hitherto laid down by the 
English Government. Should they reverse that policy ? 
Should they appoint Zobeir, reinforce Sir Gerald Graham, 
and smash up the Mahdi ? They could not make up their 
minds. So far as Zobeir was concerned, there were two 
counterbalancing considerations ; on the one hand, Sir 
Evelyn Baring now declared that he was in favour of the 
appointment ; but, on the other hand, would English 
public opinion consent to a man, described by Gordon 
himself as " the greatest slave-hunter who ever existed," 
being given an English subsidy and the control of the 
Sudan ? While the Cabinet was wavering, Gordon took 
a fatal step. The delay was intolerable, and one evening, 
in a rage, he revealed his desire for Zobeir which had 
hitherto been kept a profound official secret to Mr. Power, 
the English Consul at Khartoum, and the special corre- 
spondent of the Times. Perhaps he calculated that the 


public announcement of his wishes would oblige the 
Government to yield to them ; if so, he was completely 
mistaken, for the result was the very reverse. The country, 
already startled by the proclamation in favour of slavery, 
could not swallow Zobeir. The Anti-Slavery Society set 
on foot a violent agitation, opinion in the House of Com- 
mons suddenly stiffened, and the Cabinet, by a substantial 
majority, decided that Zobeir should remain in Cairo. 
The imperialist wave had risen high, but it had not risen 
high enough ; and now it was rapidly subsiding. The 
Government's next action was decisive. Sir Gerald 
Graham and his British Army were withdrawn from the 

The critical fortnight during which these events took 
place was the first fortnight of March. By the close of 
it, Gordon's position had undergone a rapid and terrible 
change. Not only did he find himself deprived, by the 
decision of the Government, both of the hope of Zobeir's 
assistance and of the prospect of smashing up the Mahdi 
with the aid of British troops ; the military movements 
in the Eastern Sudan produced, at the very same moment, 
a yet more fatal consequence. The adherents of the Mahdi 
had been maddened, they had not been crushed, by Sir 
Gerald Graham's victories. When, immediately after- 
wards, the English withdrew to Suakin, from which they 
never again emerged, the inference seemed obvious ; they 
had been defeated, and their power was at an end. The 
warlike tribes to the north and the north-east of Khartoum 
had long been wavering. They now hesitated no longer, 
and joined the Mahdi. From that moment it was less 
than a month from Gordon's arrival at Khartoum the 
ituation of the town was desperate. The line of com- 
munications was cut. Though it still might be possible 
"or occasional native messengers, or for a few individuals 
on an armed steamer, to win their way down the river 
"nto Egypt, the removal of a large number of persons 
:he loyal inhabitants or the Egyptian garrison was 


henceforward an impossibility. The whole scheme of the 
Gordon mission had irremediably collapsed ; worse still, 
Gordon himself, so far from having effected the evacuation 
of the Sudan, was surrounded by the enemy. "The 
question now is," Sir Evelyn Baring told Lord Granville, 
on March 24th, " how to get General Gordon and Colonel 
Stewart away from Khartoum." 

The actual condition of the town, however, was not, 
from a military point of view, so serious as Colonel Coet- 
logon, in the first moments of panic after the Hicks 
disaster, had supposed. Gordon was of opinion that it 
was capable of sustaining a siege of many months. With 
his usual vigour, he had already begun to prepare an 
elaborate system of earthworks, mines, and wire entangle- 
ments. There was a five or six months' supply of food, 
there was a great quantity of ammunition, the garrison 
numbered about 8000 men. There were, besides, nine 
small paddle-wheel steamers, hitherto used for purposes 
of communication along the Nile, which, fitted with guns 
and protected by metal plates, were of considerable 
military value. " We are all right," Gordon told his sister 
on March I5th. "We shall, D.V., go on for months." 
So far, at any rate, there was no cause for despair. But 
the effervescent happiness of three weeks since had 
vanished. Gloom, doubt, disillusionment, self-questioning, 
had swooped down again upon their victim. " Either 
I must believe He does all things in mercy and love, or 
else I disbelieve His existence, there is no half way in the 
matter. What holes do I not put myself into ! And for 
what ? So mixed are my ideas. I believe ambition put 
me here in this ruin." Was not that the explanation of 
it all ? " Our Lord's promise is not for the fulfilment of 
earthly wishes ; therefore, if things come to ruin here 
He is still faithful, and is carrying out His great work of 
divine wisdom." How could he have forgotten that ? 
But he would not transgress again. " I owe all to God, 
and nothing to myself, for, humanly speaking, I have done 


very foolish things. However, if I am humbled, the 
better for me." 

News of the changed circumstances at Khartoum was 
not slow in reaching England, and a feeling of anxiety 
began to spread. Among the first to realise the gravity 
of the situation was Queen Victoria. " It is alarming," 
she telegraphed to Lord Hartington on March 25th. 
*' General Gordon is in danger ; you are bound to try to 
save him. . . . You have incurred fearful responsibility." 
With an unerring instinct, Her Majesty forestalled and 
expressed the popular sentiment. During April, when it 
had become clear that the wire between Khartoum and 
Cairo had been severed, when, as time passed, no word 
came northward, save vague rumours of disaster, when 
at last a curtain of impenetrable mystery closed over 
Khartoum, the growing uneasiness manifested itself in 
letters to the newspapers, in leading articles, and in a 
flood of subscriptions towards a relief fund. At the be- 
ginning of May, the public alarm reached a climax. It 
now appeared to be certain, not only that General Gordon 
was in imminent danger, but that no steps had yet been 
taken by the Government to save him. On the 5th, there 
was a meeting of protest and indignation at St. James's 
Hall ; on the gth there was a mass meeting in Hyde Park ; 
on the nth there was a meeting at Manchester. The 
Baroness Burdett-Coutts wrote an agitated letter to the 
Times begging for further subscriptions. Somebody else 
proposed that a special fund should be started, with which 
" to bribe the tribes to secure the General's personal 
safety." A country vicar made another suggestion. Why 
should not public prayers be offered up for General Gordon 
in every church in the kingdom ? He himself had adopted 
that course last Sunday. *' Is not this," he concluded, 
" what the godly man, the true hero, himself would wish 
to be done ? " It was all of no avail. General Gordon 
remained in peril ; the Government remained inactive. 
Finally, a vote of censure was moved in the House of 


Commons ; but that too proved useless. It was strange. 
The same executive which, two months before, had trimmed 
its sails so eagerly to the shifting gusts of popular opinion, 
now, in spite of a rising hurricane, held on its course. A 
new spirit, it was clear a determined, an intractable 
spirit -had taken control of the Sudan situation, 
was it ? The explanation was simple, and it was omin 
Mr. Gladstone had intervened. 

The old statesman was now entering upon the penul- 
timate period of his enormous career. He who had once 
been the rising hope of the stern and unbending Tories, 
had at length emerged, after a life-time of transmutations, 
as the champion of militant democracy. He was at 
apex of his power. His great rival was dead ; he s 
pre-eminent in the eye of the nation ; he enjoyed 
applause, the confidence, the admiration, the adoration, 
even, of multitudes. Yet such was the peculiar char- 
acter of the man, and such the intensity of the feeli 
which he called forth at this very moment, at the hei 
of his popularity, he was distrusted and loathed ; al 
an unparalleled animosity was gathering its forces against 
him. For, indeed, there was something in his nature 
which invited which demanded the clashing reactions 
of passionate extremes. It was easy to worship Mr. 
Gladstone ; to see in him the perfect model of the upright 
man the man of virtue and of religion the man whose 
whole life had been devoted to the application of high 
principles to affairs of State the man, too, whose sense 
of right and justice was invigorated and ennobled by an 
enthusiastic heart. It was also easy to detest him as a 
hypocrite, to despise him as a demagogue, and to dread 
him as a crafty manipulator of men and things for the 
purposes of his own ambition. It might have been sup- 
posed that one or other of these conflicting judgments 
must have been palpably absurd, that nothing short of 
gross prejudice or wilful blindness, on one side or the 
other, could reconcile such contradictory conceptions of 

Photo, by Rupert Potter 



a single human being. But it was not so ; the elements ' 
were * so mixed ' in Mr. Gladstone that his bitterest enemies 
(and his enemies were never mild) and his warmest friends 
(and his friends were never tepid) could justify, with equal 
plausibility, their denunciations or their praises. What, 
then, was the truth ? In the physical universe there are 
no chimeras. But man is more various than nature j 
was Mr. Gladstone, perhaps, a chimera of the spirit ? 
Did his very essence lie in the confusion of incompatibles ? 
His very essence ? It eludes the hand that seems to grasp 
it. One is baffled, as his political opponents were baffled 
fifty years ago. The soft serpent coils harden into quick 
strength that has vanished, leaving only emptiness and 
perplexity behind. Speech was the fibre of his being ; 
and, when he spoke, the ambiguity of ambiguity was 
revealed. The long, winding, intricate sentences, with 
their vast burden of subtle and complicated qualifications, 
befogged the mind like clouds, and like clouds, too, dropped 
thunderbolts. Could it not then at least be said of him 
with certainty that his was a complex character ? But 
here also there was a contradiction. In spite of the in- 
volutions of his intellect and the contortions of his spirit, 
it is impossible not to perceive a strain of naivett in Mr. 
Gladstone. He adhered to some of his principles that 
of the value of representative institutions, for instance, 
with a faith which was singularly literal ; his views upon 
religion were uncritical to crudeness ; he had no sense of 
! humour. Compared with Disraeli's, his attitude towards 
life strikes one as that of an ingenuous child. His very 
egoism was simple-minded : through all the labyrinth of 
his passions there ran a single thread. But the centre of 
the labyrinth ? Ah ! the thread might lead there, 
through those wandering mazes, at last. Only, with the 
last corner turned, the last step taken, the explorer might 
find that he was looking down into the gulf of a crater. 
The flame shot out on every side, scorching and brilliant ; 
but in the midst there was a darkness. 


That Mr. Gladstone's motives and ambitions were not 
merely those of a hunter after popularity was never shown 
more clearly than in that part of his career which, more 
than any other, has been emphasised by his enemies 
his conduct towards General Gordon. He had been 
originally opposed to Gordon's appointment, but he had 
consented to it partly, perhaps, owing to the persuasion 
that its purpose did not extend beyond the making of a 
" report." Gordon once gone, events had taken their 
own course ; the policy of the Government began to 
slide, automatically, down a slope at the bottom of which 
lay the conquest of the Sudan and the annexation of 
Egypt. Sir Gerald Graham's bloody victories awoke 
Mr. Gladstone to the true condition of affairs ; he recog- 
nised the road he was on and its destination ; but there 
was still time to turn back. It was he who had insisted 
upon the withdrawal of the English army from the Eastern 
Sudan. The imperialists were sadly disappointed. They 
had supposed that the old lion had gone to sleep, and 
suddenly he had come out of his lair, and was roaring. 
All their hopes now centred upon Khartoum. General 
Gordon was cut off ; he was surrounded, he was in danger j 
he must be relieved. A British force must be sent to save 
him. But Mr. Gladstone was not to be caught napping 
a second time. When the agitation rose, when popular 
sentiment was deeply stirred, when the country, the press, 
the sovereign herself, declared that the national honour 
was involved with the fate of General Gordon, Mr. Glad- 
stone remained immovable. Others might picture the 
triumphant rescue of a Christian hero from the clutches 
of heathen savages ; before his eyes was the vision of 
battle, murder, and sudden death, the horrors of defeat 
and victory, the slaughter and the anguish of thousands, 
the violence of military domination, the enslavement of 
a people. The invasion of the Sudan, he had flashed out 
in the House of Commons, would be a war of conquest 
against a people struggling to be free. " Yes, those 


people are struggling to be free, and they are rightly 
struggling to be free." Mr. Gladstone it was one of his 
old-fashioned simplicities believed in liberty. If, indeed, 
it should turn out to be the fact that General Gordon was 
in serious danger, then, no doubt, it would be necessary 
to send a relief expedition to Khartoum. But he could 
see no sufficient reason to believe that it was the fact. 
! Communications, it was true, had been interrupted between 
Khartoum and Cairo, but no news was not necessarily 
bad news, and the little information that had come 
| through from General Gordon seemed to indicate that he 
could hold out for months. So his agile mind worked, 
spinning its familiar web of possibilities and contingencies 
and fine distinctions. General Gordon, he was convinced, 
might be hemmed in, but he was not surrounded. Surely, 
;it was the duty of the Government to take no rash step, 
ibut to consider and to inquire, and, when it acted, to act 
upon reasonable conviction. And then, there was another 
question. If it was true and he believed it was true 
that General Gordon's line of retreat was open, why did 
, not General Gordon use it ? Perhaps he might be unable 
to withdraw the Egyptian garrison, but it was not for the 
sake of the Egyptian garrison that the relief expedition 
Iwas proposed ; it was simply and solely to secure the 
personal safety of General Gordon. And General Gordon 
ihad it in his power to secure his personal safety himself; 
and he refused to do so ; he lingered on in Khartoum, 
deliberately, wilfully, in defiance of the obvious wishes of 
his superiors. Oh ! it was perfectly clear what General 
Gordon was doing : he was trying to force the hand of the 
English Government. He was hoping that if he only 
remained long enough at Khartoum he would oblige the 
English Government to send an army into the Sudan 
which should smash up the Mahdi. That, then, was 
General Gordon's calculation ! Well, General Gordon 
would learn that he had made a mistake. Who was he 
that he should dare to imagine that he could impose his 


will upon Mr. Gladstone ? The old man's eyes glared. 
If it came to a struggle between them well, they should 
see ! As the weeks passed, the strange situation grew 
tenser. It was like some silent deadly game of bluff. 
And who knows what was passing in the obscure depths 
of that terrifying spirit ? What mysterious mixture of 
remorse, rage, and jealousy? Who was it that was 
ultimately responsible for sending General Gordon to 
Khartoum ? But then, what did that matter ? Why 
did not the man come back ? He was a Christian hero, 
was he ? Were there no other Christian heroes in the 
world ? A Christian hero ! Let him wait till the Mahdi's 
ring was really round him, till the Mahdi's spear was really 
about to fall ! That would be the test of heroism ! If 
he slipped back then, with his tail between his legs - ! 
The world would judge. 

One of the last telegrams sent by Gordon before the 
wire was cut seemed to support exactly Mr. Gladstone's 
diagnosis of the case. He told Sir Evelyn Baring that, 
since the Government refused to send either an expedition 
or Zobeir, he would " consider himself free to act according 
to circumstances." " Eventually," he said, " you will be 
forced to smash up the Mahdi," and he declared that if 
the Government persisted in its present line of conduct, 
it would be branded with an " indelible disgrace." The 
message was made public, and it happened that Mr. 
Gladstone saw it for the first time in a newspaper, during 
a country visit. Another of the guests, who was in the 
room at the moment, thus describes the scene. "He j 
took up the paper, his eye instantly fell on the telegram, j 
and he read it through. As he read, his face hardened I 
and whitened, the eyes burned as I have seen them once ; 
or twice in the House of Commons when he was angered ! 
burned with a deep fire, as if they would have consumed 
the sheet on which Gordon's message was printed, or as 
if Gordon's words had burnt into his soul, which was look- 
ing out in wrath and flame. He said not a word. For 


,perhaps two or three minutes he sat still, his face all the 
Iwhile like the face you may read of in Milton like none 
other I ever saw. Then he rose, still without a word, 
land was seen no more that morning." 

It is curious that Gordon himself never understood 
Ithe part that Mr. Gladstone was playing in his destiny. 
His Khartoum Journals put this beyond a doubt. Except 
for one or two slight and jocular references to Mr. Glad- 
stone's minor idiosyncrasies the shape of his collars, 
and his passion for felling trees Gordon leaves him un- 
iced, while he lavishes his sardonic humour upon Lord 
Dranville. But in truth Lord Granville was a nonentity. 
[The error shows how dim the realities of England had 
grown to the watcher in Khartoum. When he looked 
(towards home, the figure that loomed largest upon his 
vision was it was only natural that it should have been 
bo the nearest. It was upon Sir Evelyn Baring that 
he fixed his gaze. For him Sir Evelyn Baring was the 
embodiment of England or rather the embodiment of 
the English official classes, of English diplomacy, of the 
English Government with its hesitations, its insinceri- 
ties, its double-faced schemes. Sir Evelyn Baring, he 
Llmost came to think at moments, was the prime mover, 
the sole contriver, of the whole Sudan imbroglio. In 
this he was wrong ; for Sir Evelyn Baring, of course, 
Ivas an intermediary, without final responsibility or final 
bower ; but Gordon's profound antipathy, his instinctive 
distrust, were not without their justification. He could 
tiever forget that first meeting in Cairo, six years earlier, 
ivhen the fundamental hostility between the two men had 
.eapt to the surface. " When oil mixes with water," 
pe said, " we will mix together." Sir Evelyn Baring 
thought so too ; t but he did not say so ; it was not his 
vay. When he spoke, he felt no temptation to express 
verything that was in his mind. In all he did, he was 
cautious, measured, unimpeachably correct. It would 
>e difficult to think of a man more completely the 


antithesis of Gordon. His temperament, all in mono- 
chrome, touched in with cold blues and indecisive greys, 
was eminently unromantic. He had a steely colourlessness, I 
and a steely pliability, and a steely strength. Endowed' 
beyond most men with the capacity of foresight, he wasi 
endowed as very few men have ever been with thati 
staying-power which makes the fruit of foresight attain-! 
able. His views were long, and his patience was even 
longer. He progressed imperceptibly ; he constantly I 
withdrew ; the art of giving way he practised with the 
refinement of a virtuoso. But, though the steel recoiled 
and recoiled, in the end it would spring forward. His 
life's work had in it an element of paradox. It was passed ! 
entirely in the East ; and the East meant very little to i 
him ; he took no interest in it. It was something tc be 
looked after. It was also a convenient field for the talents 
of Sir Evelyn Baring. Yet it must not be supposed that 
he was cynical ; perhaps he was not quite great enough 
for that. He looked forward to a pleasant retirement 
a country place some literary recreations. He had been 
careful to keep up his classics. His ambition can be stated 
in a single phrase ; it was, to become an institution ; 
and he achieved it. No doubt, too, he deserved it. The 
greatest of poets, in a bitter mood, has described the 
characteristics of a certain class of persons, whom he \ 
did not like. " They," he says, 

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

The words might have been written for Sir Evelyn 

Though, as a rule, he found it easy to despise those 
with whom he came into contact, he could not altogether 


despise General Gordon. If he could have, he would have 
Disliked him less. He had gone as far as his caution had 
allowed him in trying to prevent the fatal appointment ; 
knd then, when it had become clear that the Government 
j>vas insistent, he had yielded with a good grace. For a 
hioment, he had imagined that al.l might yet be well ; 
:hat he could impose himself, by the weight of his position 
ind the force of his sagacity, upon his self-willed subordi- 
late ; that he could hold him in a leash at the end of 
:he telegraph wire to Khartoum. Very soon he perceived 
hat this was a miscalculation. To his disgust, he found 
that the telegraph wire, far from being an instrument of 
official discipline, had been converted by the agile strategist 
kt the other end of it into a means of extending his own 
personality into the deliberations at Cairo. Every morning 
Sir Evelyn Baring would find upon his table a great pile 
t>f telegrams from Khartoum twenty or thirty at least ; 
Ind as the day went on, the pile would grow. When a 
kufficient number had accumulated he would read them 
ill through, with the greatest care. There upon the 
able, the whole soul of Gordon lay before him in its 
incoherence, its eccentricity, its impulsiveness, its romance ; 
he jokes, the slang, the appeals to the prophet Isaiah, 
he whirl of contradictory policies Sir Evelyn Baring 
lid not know which exasperated him most. He would 
lot consider whether, or to what degree, the man was a 
maniac j no, he would not. A subacid smile was the only 
bomment he allowed himself. His position, indeed, was 
^n extremely difficult one, and all his dexterity would be 
fieeded if he was to emerge from it with credit. On 
one side of him was a veering and vacillating Government ; 
bn the other, a frenzied enthusiast. It was his business 
to interpret to the first the wishes, or rather the inspira- 
ions, of the second, and to convey to the second the 
iecisions, or rather the indecisions, of the first. A weaker 
man would have floated helplessly on the ebb and flow 
the Cabinet's wavering policies ; a rasher man would 


have plunged headlong into Gordon's schemes. He did 
neither ; with a singular courage and a singular caution 
he progressed along a razor-edge. He devoted all his 
energies to the double task of evolving a reasonable 
policy out of Gordon's intoxicated telegrams, and of 
inducing the divided Ministers at home to give their 
sanction to what he had evolved. He might have 
succeeded, if he had not had to reckon with yet another 
irreconcilable ; Time was a vital element in the situation, 
and Time was against him. When the tribes round 
Khartoum rose, the last hope of a satisfactory solution 
vanished. He was the first to perceive the altered con- 
dition of affairs j long before the Government, long before i 
Gordon himself, he understood that the only remaining 
question was that of the extrication of the Englishmen , 
from Khartoum. He proposed that a small force should 
be despatched at once across the desert from Suakin to 
Berber, the point on the Nile nearest to the Red Sea, and 
thence up the river to Gordon ; but, after considerable 
hesitation, the military authorities decided that this was 
not a practicable plan. Upon that, he foresaw, with 
perfect lucidity, the inevitable development of events. 
Sooner or later, it would be absolutely necessary to send 
a relief expedition to Khartoum ; and, from that premise, 
it followed, without a possibility of doubt, that it was 
the duty of the Government to do so at once. This he 
saw quite clearly ; but he also saw that the position in , 
the Cabinet had now altered, that Mr. Gladstone had 
taken the reins into his own hands. And Mr. Gladstone l 
did not wish to send a relief expedition. What was Sir j 
Evelyn Baring to do ? Was he to pit his strength against , 
Mr. Gladstone's ? To threaten resignation ? To stake 
his whole future upon General Gordon's fate ? For a | 
moment he wavered ; he seemed to hint that unless 
the Government sent a message to Khartoum promising ; 
a relief expedition before the end of the year, he would , 
be unable to be a party to their acts. The Government 


jrefused to send any such message ; and he perceived, as 
he tells us, that " it was evidently useless to continue 
|the correspondence any further." After all, what could 
pe do ? He was still only a secondary figure ; his resig- 
nation would be accepted ; he would be given a colonial 
ojovernorship, and Gordon would be no nearer safety. 
(But then, could he sit by, and witness a horrible catas- 
trophe, without lifting a hand ? Of all the odious dilem- 
(nas which that man had put him into, this, he reflected, 
|vas the most odious. He slightly shrugged his shoulders. 
^Jo ; he might have " power to hurt," but he would " do 
jione." He wrote a despatch a long, balanced, guarded, 
*rey despatch, informing the Government that he 
.i* ventured to think" that it was "a question worthy of 
tonsideration, whether the naval and military authorities 
jhould not take some preliminary steps in the way of 
preparing boats, etc., so as to be able to move, should 
he necessity arise." Then, within a week, before the 
eceipt of the Government's answer, he left Egypt. From 
he end of April till the beginning of September 
Curing the most momentous period of the whole crisis 
;.|e was engaged in London upon a financial conference, 
/hile his place was taken in Cairo by a substitute. With 
characteristically convenient unobtrusiveness, Sir Evelyn 
taring had vanished from the scene. 

, Meanwhile, far to the southward, over the wide- 
preading lands watered by the Upper Nile and its 
tibutaries, the power and the glory of him who had once 
een Mahommed Ahmed were growing still. In the 
ahr-el-Ghazal, the last embers of resistance were 
lamped out with the capture of Lupton Bey, and 
irough the whole of that vast province three times 
le size of England every trace of the Egyptian 
vernment was obliterated. Still further south the 
me fate was rapidly overtaking Equatoria, where Emin 
isha, withdrawing into the unexplored depths of 
ntral Africa, carried with him the last vestiges of the 


old order. The Mahdi himself still lingered in his head- 
quarters at El Obeid ; but, on the rising of the tribes 
round Khartoum, he had decided that the time for an 
offensive movement had come, and had despatched an 
army of thirty thousand men to lay siege to the city. 
At the same time, in a long and elaborate proclamation, 
in which he asserted, with all the elegance of oriental 
rhetoric, both the sanctity of his mission and the in-| 
vincibility of his troops, he called upon the inhabitants 
to surrender. Gordon read aloud the summons to the 
assembled townspeople ; with one voice they declared 
that they were ready to resist. This was a false Mahdi, 
they said ; God would defend the right ; they put their i 
trust in the Governor-General. The most learned Sheikh| 
in the town drew up a theological reply v pointing out that} 
the Mahdi did not fulfil the requirements of the ancient j 
prophets. At his appearance, had the Euphrates dried 
up and revealed a hill of gold? Had contradiction and 
difference ceased upon the earth ? And moreover, did 
not the faithful know that the true Mahdi was born in 
the year of the prophet 255, from which it surely followed \ 
that he must be now 1046 years old ? And was it noil 
clear to all men that this pretender was not a tenth ol 
that age ? These arguments were certainly forcible ; 
but the Mahdi's army was more forcible still. The 
besieged sallied out to the attack ; they were defeated ; 
and the rout that followed was so disgraceful that two 
of the commanding officers were, by Gordon's orders, 
executed as traitors. From that moment the regular 
investment of Khartoum began. The Arab generals 
decided to starve the town into submission. When, 
after a few weeks of doubt, it became certain that nc 
British force was on its way from Suakin to smash up the 
Mahdi, and when, at the end of May, Berber, the last 
connecting link between Khartoum and the outside world, 
fell into the hands of the enemy, Gordon set his teeth, 
and sat down to wait and to hope, as best he might 


unceasing energy he devoted himself to the strength- 
ening of his defences and the organisation of his resources 
I to the digging of earthworks, the manufacture of 
jmmunition, the collection and the distribution of food. 
tvery day there were sallies and skirmishes ; every day 
is little armoured steamboats paddled up and down 
le river, scattering death and terror as they went. 
Whatever the emergency, he was ready with devices and 
xpedients. When the earthworks were still uncom- 
eted he procured hundreds of yards of cotton, which 
je dyed the colour of earth, and spread out in long sloping 
jnes, so as to deceive the Arabs, while the real works 
rere being prepared further back. When a lack of money 
egan to make itself felt, he printed and circulated a 
aper coinage of his own. To combat the growing dis- 
ontent and disaffection of the townspeople he instituted 
i system of orders and medals ; the women were not 
jrgotten ; and his popularity redoubled. There was 
trror in the thought that harm might come to the 
Jovernor-General. Awe and reverence followed him ; 
rherever he went, he was surrounded by a vigilant and 
Mous guard, like some precious idol, some mascot of 
[ctory. How could he go away ? How could he desert 
is people ? It was impossible. It would be, as he 
imself exclaimed in one of his latest telegrams to Sir 
ivelyn Baring, "the climax of meanness," even to 
antemplate such an act. Sir Evelyn Baring thought 
ifferently. In his opinion it was General Gordon's 
ain duty to have come away from Khartoum. To 
ay involved inevitably a relief expedition a great 
[pense of treasure and the loss of valuable lives ; to 
une away would merely mean that the inhabitants of 
hartoum would be " taken prisoner by the Mahdi." 
> Sir Evelyn Baring put it ; but the case was not quite 
| simple as that. When Berber fell, there had been a 
assacre lasting for days an appalling orgy of loot and 
1st and slaughter ; when Khartoum itself was captured, 


what followed was still more terrible. Decidedly, it wa; 
no child's play to be " taken prisoner by the Mahdi. 1 
And Gordon was actually there, among those people 
in closest intercourse with them, responsible, beloved 
Yes ; no doubt. But was that, in truth, his only motive 
Did he not wish in reality, by lingering in Khartoum 
to force the hand of the Government ? To oblige them 
whether they would or no, to send an army to smash uj 
the Mahdi ? And was that fair ? Was that his duty 
He might protest, with his last breath, that he ha< 
" tried to do his duty " ; Sir Evelyn Baring, at any rate 
would not agree. 

But Sir Evelyn Baring was inaudible, and Gordor 
now cared very little for his opinions. Is it possibh 
that, if only for a moment, in his extraordinary predica 
ment, he may have listened to another and a very differen 
voice a voice of singular quality, a voice which for s< 
one would fain imagine may well have wakened som< 
familiar echoes in his heart ? One day, he received 
private letter from the Mahdi. The letter was accom- 
panied by a small bundle of clothes. "In the nam< 
of God ! " wrote the Mahdi, " herewith a suit of clothes 
consisting of a coat (jibbeh), an overcoat, a turban, a cap 
a girdle, and beads. This is the clothing of those wh< 
have given up this world and its vanities, and who tool 
for the world to come, for everlasting happiness it 
Paradise. If you truly desire to come to God and seelj 
to live a godly life, you must at once wear this suit, am 
come out to accept your everlasting good fortune." Di< 
the words bear no meaning to the mystic of Gravesend I 
But he was an English gentleman, an English officer] 
He flung the clothes to the ground, and trampled on thenj 
in the sight of all. Then, alone, he went up to the roo ( 
of his high palace, and turned the telescope once more| 
almost mechanically, towards the north. 

But nothing broke the immovability of that ban 
horizon ; and, indeed, how was it possible that help shoulc 


:ome to him now ? He seemed to be utterly abandoned. 
>ir Evelyn Baring had disappeared into his financial 
inference. In England, Mr. Gladstone had held firm, 
lad outfaced the House of Commons, had ignored the 
D ress. He appeared to have triumphed. Though it was 
:lear that no preparations of any kind were being made 
"or the relief of Gordon, the anxiety and agitation of the 
wblic, which had risen so suddenly to such a height of 
vehemence, had died down. The dangerous beast had 
>een quelled by the stern eye of its master. Other 
questions became more interesting the Reform Bill, 
the Russians, the House of Lords. Gordon, silent in 
(Chartoum, had almost dropped out of remembrance. 
And yet, help did come after all. And it came from an 
[inexpected quarter. Lord Hartington had been for some 
time convinced that he was responsible for Gordon's 
Appointment ; and his conscience was beginning to grow 

Lord Hartington's conscience was of a piece with the 
, L est of him. It was not, like Mr. Gladstone's, a salaman- 
ier-conscience an intangible, dangerous creature, that 
loved to live in the fire ; nor was it, like Gordon's, a 
restless conscience ; nor, like Sir Evelyn Baring's, a diplo- 
matic conscience ; it was a commonplace affair. Lord 
Hartington himself would have been disgusted by any 
tnention of it. If he had been obliged, he would have 
illuded to it distantly ; he would have muttered that it 
,vas a bore not to do the proper thing. He was usually 
)ored for one reason or another ; but this particular 
orm of boredom he found more intense than all the rest, 
rle would take endless pains to avoid it. Of course, the 
vhole thing was a nuisance an obvious nuisance ; and 
ivery one else must feel just as he did about it. And 
jret people seemed to have got it into their heads that he 
pad some kind of special faculty in such matters that 
"ere was some peculiar value in his judgment on a 
uestion of right and wrong. He could not understand 


why it was ; but whenever there was a dispute aboui 
cards in a club, it was brought to him to settle. It was 
most odd. But it was true. In public affairs, no les? 
than in private, Lord Hartington's decisions carried an 
extraordinary weight. The feeling of his idle friends in 
high society was shared by the great mass of the English 
people ; here was a man they could trust. For indeed 
he was built upon a pattern which was very dear to his 
countrymen. It was not simply that he was honest :; 
it was that his honesty was an English honesty an 
honesty which naturally belonged to one who, so it seemed 
to them, was the living image of what an Englishman 
should be. In Lord Hartington they saw, embodied and 
glorified, the very qualities which were nearest to their 
hearts impartiality, solidity, common sense the qualities 
by which they themselves longed to be distinguished, 
and by which, in their happier moments, they believed 
they were. If ever they began to have misgivings, there, 
at any rate, was the example of Lord Hartington to 
encourage them and guide them Lord Hartington who 
was never self-seeking, who was never excited, and who 
had no imagination at all. Everything they knew about 
him fitted into the picture, adding to their admiration 
and respect. His fondness for field sports gave them a 
feeling of security ; and certainly there could be no non- 
sense about a man who confessed to two ambitions 
to become Prime Minister and to win the Derby and 
who put the second above the first. They loved him for 
his casualness for his inexactness for refusing to make 
life a cut-and-dried business for ramming an official 
despatch of high importance into his coat-pocket, and 
finding it there, still unopened, at Newmarket, several 
days later. They loved him for his hatred of fine senti- 
ments ; they were delighted when they heard that at 
some function, on a florid speaker's avowing that " this 
was the proudest moment of his life," Lord Hartington 
had growled in an undertone " the proudest moment of 


my life, was when my pig won the prize at Skipton fair." 
Above all, they loved him for being dull. It was the 
greatest comfort with Lord Hartington they could 
always be absolutely certain that he would never, in 
any circumstances, be either brilliant, or subtle, or sur- 
prising, or impassioned, or profound. As they sat, listen- 
ing to his speeches, in which considerations of stolid 
plainness succeeded one another with complete flatness, 
they felt, involved and supported by the colossal tedium, 
that their confidence was finally assured. They looked 
up, and took their fill of the sturdy obvious presence. 
The inheritor of a splendid dukedom might almost have 
passed for a farm hand. Almost, but not quite. For 
an air, that was difficult to explain, of preponderating 
authority lurked in the solid figure ; and the lordly 
breeding of the House of Cavendish was visible in the 
large, long, bearded, unimpressionable face. 

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


set itself in motion ; the great wheels and levers, once 
started, revolved with such a laborious, such a painful 
deliberation, that at last their work was accomplished 
surely, firmly, completely, in the best English manner, and 
too late. 

Seven stages may be discerned in the history of Lord 
Harrington's influence upon the fate of General Gordon. 
At the end of the first stage, he had become convinced that 
he was responsible for Gordon's appointment to Khartoum. 
At the end of the second, he had perceived that his conscience 
would not allow him to remain inactive in the face of Gordon's 
danger. At the end of the third, he had made an attempt 
to induce the Cabinet to send an expedition to Gordon's 
relief. At the end of the fourth, he had realised that the 
Cabinet had decided to postpone the relief of Gordon inde- 
finitely. At the end of the fifth, he had come to the con- 
clusion that he must put pressure upon Mr. Gladstone. At 
the end of the sixth, he had attempted to put pressure 
upon Mr. Gladstone, and had not succeeded. At the end 
of the seventh, he had succeeded in putting pressure upon 
Mr. Gladstone ; the relief expedition had been ordered ; 
he could do no more. The turning-point in this long 
extraordinary process occurred towards the end of Api 
when the Cabinet, after the receipt of Sir Evelyn Baring 
final despatch, decided to take no immediate measures for 
Gordon's relief From that moment it was clear that there 
was only one course open to Lord Hartington to tell Mr. 
Gladstone that he would resign unless a relief expedition 
was sent. But it took him more than three months to come 
to this conclusion. He always found the proceedings at 
Cabinet meetings particularly hard to follow. The inter- 
change of question and answer, of proposal and counter- 
proposal, the crowded counsellors, Mr. Gladstone's subtleties, 
the abrupt and complicated resolutions these things inva- 
riably left him confused and perplexed. After the crucial 
Cabinet at the end of April, he came away in a state of 
uncertainty as to what had occurred ; he had to write to 


rd Granville to find out ; and by that time, of course, 
Be Government's decision had been telegraphed to Egypt. 
Three weeks later, in the middle of May, he had grown so 
juneasy that he felt himself obliged to address a circular 
jletter to the Cabinet, proposing that preparations for a relief 
expedition should be set on foot at once. And then he 
began to understand that nothing would ever be done until 
| Mr. Gladstone, by some means or other, had been forced to 
give his consent. A singular combat followed. The slippery 
old man perpetually eluded the cumbrous grasp of his an- 
tagonist. He delayed, he postponed, he raised interminable 
difficulties, he prevaricated, he was silent, he disappeared. 
Lord Hartington was dauntless. Gradually, inch by inch, 
he drove the Prime Minister into a corner. But in the 
meantime many weeks had passed. On July 1st Lord 
Hartington was still remarking that he " really did not feel 
that he knew the mind or intention of the Government in 
Irespect of the relief of General Gordon." The month was 
spent in a succession of stubborn efforts to wring from Mr. 
Gladstone some definite statement upon the question. It 
was useless. On July 3ist, Lord Hartington did the deed. 
He stated that, unless an expedition was sent, he would 
resign. It was, he said, " a question of personal honour and 
good faith, and I don't see how I can yield upon it." His 
conscience had worked itself to rest at last. 

When Mr. Gladstone read the words, he realised that the 
game was over. Lord Hartington's position in the Liberal 
party was second only to his own ; he was the leader of the 
rich and powerful whig aristocracy ; his influence with the 
country was immense. Nor was he the man to make idle 
threats of resignation ; he had said he would resign, and 
resign he would : the collapse of the Government would be 
the inevitable result. On August 5th, therefore, Parliament 
was asked to make a grant of 300,000, in order " to enable 
Her Majesty's Government to undertake operations for the 
relief of General Gordon, should they become necessary." 
The money was voted ; and even then, at that last hour, 


Mr. Gladstone made another, final, desperate twist. Trying 
to save himself by the proviso which he had inserted into 
the resolution, he declared that he was still unconvinced of 
the necessity of any operations at all. " I nearly," he wrote 
to Lord Hartington, " but not quite, adopt words received 
to-day from Granville. * It is clear, I think, that Gordon 
has our messages, and does not choose to answer them.' *' 
Nearly, but not quite ! The qualification was masterly ; 
but it was of no avail. This time, the sinuous creature was 
held by too firm a grasp. On August 26th Lord Wolseley 
was appointed to command the relief expedition ; and on 
September qth, he arrived in Egypt. 

The relief expedition had begun ; and at the same 
moment a new phase opened at Khartoum. The annual 
rising of the Nile was now sufficiently advanced to enable 
one of Gordon's small steamers to pass over the cataracts 
down to Egypt in safety. He determined to seize the oppor- 
tunity of laying before the authorities in Cairo and London, 
and the English public at large, an exact account of his 
position. A cargo of documents, including Colonel Stewart's 
Diary of the siege and a personal appeal for assistance 
addressed by Gordon to all the European powers, was placed 
on board the Abbas ; four other steamers were to accompany 
her until she was out of danger from attacks by the Mahdi's 
troops ; after which, she was to proceed alone into Egypt 
On the evening of September Qth, just as she was about to 
start, the English and French consuls asked for permission 
to go with her * permission which Gordon, who had long 
been anxious to provide for their safety, readily granted. 
Then Colonel Stewart made the same request ; and Gordon 
consented with the same alacrity. Colonel Stewart was the 
second in command at Khartoum ; and it seems strange 
that he should have made a proposal which would leave 
Gordon in a position of the gravest anxiety without a single 
European subordinate. But his motives were to be veiled 
for ever in a tragic obscurity. The Abbas and her convoy 
set out. Henceforward the Governor-General was alone. 


He had now, definitely and finally, made his decision. 
Colonel Stewart and his companions had gone, with every 
prospect of returning unharmed to civilisation. Mr. 
Gladstone's belief was justified ; so far as Gordon's personal 
safety was concerned, he might still, at this late hour, have 
secured it. But he had chosen ; he stayed at Khartoum. 

No sooner were the steamers out of sight than he sat 
down at his writing-table and began that daily record of 
his circumstances, his reflections, and his feelings, which 
II reveals to us, with such an authentic exactitude, the final 
i period of his extraordinary destiny. His " Journals," sent 
down the river in batches to await the coming of the relief 
'! expedition, and addressed, first to Colonel Stewart, and 
,; later to the " Chief of Staff, Sudan Expeditionary Force," 
jl were official documents, intended for publication, though, as 
Gordon himself was careful to note on the outer covers, they 
i would " want pruning out " before they were printed. He 
also wrote, on the envelope of the first section, " No secrets 
I as far as I am concerned." A more singular set of state 
papers was never compiled. Sitting there, in the solitude of 
i; his palace, with ruin closing round him, with anxieties on 
every hand, with doom hanging above his head, he let his 
pen rush on for hour after hour in an ecstasy of communica- 
tion, a tireless unburdening of the spirit, where the most 
| trivial incidents of the passing day were mingled pell-mell 
with philosophical disquisitions, where jests and anger, hopes 
and terrors, elaborate justifications and cynical confessions, 
jji jostled one another in reckless confusion. The impulsive, 
demonstrative man had nobody to talk to any more, and so 
he talked instead to the pile of telegraph-forms, which, useless 
: now for perplexing Sir Evelyn Baring, served very well 
t;| for they were large and blank as the repositories of his 
vji conversation. His tone was not the intimate and religious 
ul tone which he would have used with the Rev. Mr. Barries 
|| or his sister Augusta ; it was such as must have been habitual 
with him in his intercourse with old friends or fellow officers, 
whose religious views were of a more ordinary caste than his 


own, but with whom he was on confidential terms. He was 
anxious to put his case to a select and sympathetic audience 
to convince such a man as Lord Wolseley that he was 
justified in what he had done ; and he was sparing in his 
allusions to the hand of Providence, while those mysterious 
doubts and piercing introspections, which must have filled 
him, he almost entirely concealed. He expressed himself, 
of course, with eccentric abandon it would have been 
impossible for him to do otherwise ; but he was content to 
indicate his deepest feelings with a fleer. Yet sometimes 
as one can imagine happening with him in actual conversa- 
tion his utterance took the form of a half-soliloquy, a 
copious outpouring addressed to himself more than to any 
one else, for his own satisfaction. There are passages in 
the Khartoum Journals which call up in a flash the light, 
gliding figure, and the blue eyes with the candour of child- 
hood still shining in them ; one can almost hear the low 
voice, the singularly distinct articulation, the persuasivi 
the self-persuasive sentences, following each other 
unassumingly between the puffs of a cigarette. 

As he wrote, two preoccupations principally filled 
mind. His reflections revolved round the immediate past 
and the impending future. With an untiring persistency 
he examined, he excused, he explained, his share in the 
complicated events which had led to his present situation. 
He rebutted the charges of imaginary enemies ; he laid bare 
the ineptitude and the faithlessness of the English Govern- 
ment. He poured out his satire upon officials and diplo- 
matists. He drew caricatures, in the margin, of Sir Evelyn 
Baring, with sentences of shocked pomposity coming out 
of his mouth. In some passages, which the editor of the 
'Journals preferred to suppress, he covered Lord Granville 
with his raillery, picturing the Foreign Secretary, lounging 
away his morning at Walmer Castle, opening the Times and 
suddenly discovering, to his horror, that Khartoum was 
still holding out. " Why, HE said distinctly he could only 
hold out six months, and that was in March (counts the 



months). August ! why, he ought to have given in ! What 
is to be done ? They'll be howling for an expedition. . . . 
It is no laughing matter ; that abominable Mahdi I Why 
on earth does he not guard his roads better ? What is to 
be done ? " Several times in his bitterness he repeats the 
suggestion that the au%orities at home were secretly hoping 
that the fall of Khartoum would relieve them of their diffi- 
culties. " What that Mahdi is about," Lord Granville is 
made to exclaim in another deleted paragraph, " I cannot 
make out. Why does he not put all his guns on the river 
and stop the route ? Eh what ? * We will have to go to 
Khartoum ! ' Why, it will cost millions, what a wretched 
business ! What ! Send Zobeir ? Our conscience recoils 
from that, it is elastic, but not equal to that, it is a pact 
with the Devil. . . . Do you not think there is any way of 
getting hold of HIM, in a quiet way ? " If a boy at Eton 
or Harrow, he declared, had acted as the Government had 
acted, " I think he would be kicked, and / am sure he would 
deserve it." He was the victim of hypocrites and humbugs. 
There was " no sort of parallel to all this in history except 
it be David with Uriah the Hittite " ; but then " there was 
an Eve in the case," and he was not aware that the Govern- 
ment had even that excuse. 

From the past, he turned to the future, and surveyed, 
with a disturbed and piercing vision, the possibilities before 
him. Supposing that the relief expedition arrived, what 
would be his position ? Upon one thing he was determined : 
whatever happened, he would not play the part of " the 
rescued lamb." He vehemently asserted that the purpose 
of the expedition could only be the relief of the Sudan 
garrisons ; it was monstrous to imagine that it had been 
undertaken merely to ensure his personal safety. He 
refused to believe it. In any case, " I declare positively" 
he wrote, with passionate underlinings, " and once for a// t 
that I will not leave the Sudan until every one who wants to 
go down is given the chance to do so, unless a government is 
established which relieves me of the charge ; therefore if 


any emissary or letter comes up here ordering me to come 


WITH TOWN, AND RUN ALL RISKS." This was sheer insubordi- 
nation, no doubt ; but he could not help that ; it was not 
in his nature to be obedient. " I know if 7 was chief, I 
would never employ myself > for I am incorrigible." Decidedly, 
he was not afraid to be " what club men call insubordinate, 
though, of all insubordinates, the club men are the worst." 

As for the government which was to replace him, there 
were several alternatives : an Egyptian Pasha might succeed 
him as Governor-General, or Zobeir might be appointed after 
all, or the whole country might be handed over to the 
Sultan. His fertile imagination evolved scheme after scheme ; 
and his visions of his own future were equally various. He 
would withdraw to the Equator ; he would be delighted 
to spend Christmas in Brussels ; he would ... at any rate 
he would never go back to England. That was certain. 
" I dwell on the joy of never seeing Great Britain again, 
with its horrid, wearisome dinner parties and miseries. How 
we can put up with those things, passes my imagination ! 
It is a perfect bondage. ... I would sooner live like a Der- 
vish with the Mahdi, than go out to dinner every night in 
London. I hope, if any English General comes to Khartoum, 
he will not ask me to dinner. Why men cannot be friends 
without bringing the wretched stomachs in, is astounding." 

But would an English General ever have the opportunity 
of asking him to dinner in Khartoum ? There were moments 
when terrible misgivings assailed him. He pieced together 
his scraps of intelligence with feverish exactitude ; he cal- 
culated times, distances, marches ; " if," he wrote on 
October 24th, " they do not come before 30th November, 
the game is up, and Rule Britannia." Curious premonitions 
came into his mind. When he heard that the Mahdi was 
approaching in person, it seemed to be the fulfilment of a 
destiny, for he had " always felt we were doomed to come 
face to face." What would be the end of it all ? "It is, 
of course, on the cards," he noted, " that Khartoum is taken 


under the nose of the expeditionary force, which will be 
just too late" The splendid hawks that swooped about the 
| palace reminded him of a text in the Bible : '* The eye that 
mocketh at his father and despiseth to obey his mother, the 
ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles 
shall eat it." " I often wonder," he wrote, " whether they 
are destined to pick my eyes, for I fear I was not the best 
of sons." 

So, sitting late into the night, he rilled the empty tele- 
graph forms with the agitations of his spirit, overflowing ever 
more hurriedly, more furiously, with lines of emphasis, and 
capitals, and exclamation-marks more and more thickly 
interspersed, so that the signs of his living passion are still 
visible to the inquirer of to-day on those thin sheets of 
mediocre paper and in the torrent of the ink. But he was 
a man of elastic temperament ; he could not remain for 
'ever upon the stretch ; he sought, and he found, relaxation 
| in extraneous matters in metaphysical digressions, or in 
'satirical outbursts, or in the small details of his daily life. 
jit amused him to have the Sudanese soldiers brought in and 
shown their " black pug faces " in the palace looking-glasses. 
He watched with a cynical sympathy the impertinence of 
a turkey-cock that walked in his courtyard. He made 
friends with a mouse who, "judging from her swelled-out 
jappearance," was a lady, and came and ate out of his plate. 
The cranes that flew over Khartoum in their thousands and 
with their curious cry, put him in mind of the poems of 
chiller, which few ever read, but which he admired highly, 
though he only knew them in Bulwer's translation. He 
wrote little disquisitions on Plutarch and purgatory, on the 
jfear of death and on the sixteenth chapter of the Koran. 
Then the turkey-cock, strutting with " every feather on end, 
and all the colours of the rainbow on his neck," attracted 
him once more, and he filled several pages with his opinions 
jupon the immortality of animals, drifting on to a discussion 
bf man's position in the universe, and the infinite knowledge 
pf God. It was all clear to him. And yet " what a 


contradiction is life ! I hate Her Majesty's Government for 
their leaving the Sudan after having caused all its troubles ; i 
yet I believe our Lord rules heaven and earth, so I ought 
to hate Him, which I (sincerely) do not." 

One painful thought obsessed him. He believed that 
the two Egyptian officers, who had been put to death after i 
the defeat in March, had been unjustly executed. He had 
given way to " outside influences " ; the two Pashas had i 
been "judicially murdered." Again and again he referred 
to the incident, with a haunting remorse. The Times, 
perhaps, would consider that he had been justified ; but 
what did that matter ? " If the Times saw this in print, 
it would say * Why, then, did you act as you did ? ' to which 
I fear I have no answer." He determined to make what 
reparation he could, and to send the families of the unfortunate i 
Pashas 1000 each. 

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

He trusted no one. Looking into the faces of those who 
surrounded him, he saw only the ill-dissimulated signs of 
treachery and dislike Of the 40,000 inhabitants of Khar- 
toum he calculated that two-thirds were willing were per- 
haps anxious to become the subjects of the Mahdi. " These 
people are not worth any great sacrifice," he bitterly observed. 
The Egyptian officials were utterly incompetent ; the soldiers 
were cowards. All his admiration was reserved for his 
enemies. The meanest of the Mahdi's followers was, he 
realised, " a determined warrior, who could undergo thirst 
and privation, who no more cared for pain or death than if 


I he were stone." Those were the men whom, if the choice 
i had lain with him, he would have wished to command, 
j And yet, strangely enough, he persistently underrated the 
strength of the forces against him. A handful of English- 
jmen a handful of Turks would, he believed, be enough 
to defeat the Mahdi's hosts and destroy his dominion. He 
knew very little Arabic, and he depended for his information 
upon a few ignorant English-speaking subordinates. The 
Mahdi himself he viewed with ambiguous feelings. He jibed 
at him as a vulgar impostor j but it is easy to perceive, 
iunder his scornful jocularities, the traces of an uneasy 

He spent long hours upon the palace roof, gazing north- 
wards ; but the veil of mystery and silence was unbroken. 
In spite of the efforts of Major Kitchener, the officer in 
command of the Egyptian Intelligence service, hardly any 
messengers ever reached Khartoum j and when they did, 
the information they brought was tormentingly scanty. 
Major Kitchener did not escape the attentions of Gordon's 
pen. When news came at last, it was terrible : Colonel 
Stewart and his companions had been killed. The Abbas y 
ifter having passed uninjured through the part of the river 
:ommanded by the Mahdi's troops, had struck upon a rock ; 
Colonel Stewart had disembarked in safety ; and, while he 
vas waiting for camels to convey the detachment across the 
lesert into Egypt, had accepted the hospitality of a local 
heikh. Hardly had the Europeans entered the sheikh's 
ut when they were set upon and murdered ; their native 
ollowers shared their fate. The treacherous sheikh was an 
jdherent of the Mahdi, and to the Mahdi all Colonel Stewart's 
japers, filled with information as to the condition of Khar- 
bum, were immediately sent. When the first rumours of 
ne disaster reached Gordon, he pictured, in a flash of in- 
fiition, the actual details of the catastrophe. " I feel some- 
pw convinced," he wrote," they were captured by treachery. 
. . Stewart was not a bit suspicious (I am made up of it). 
I can see in imagination the whole scene, the sheikh inviting 


them to land, . . . then a rush of wild Arabs, and all is 
over ! " " It is very sad," he added, " but being ordained, 
we must not murmur." And yet he believed that the true 
responsibility lay with him : it was the punishment of his 
own sins. " I look on it," was his unexpected conclusion, 
" as being a Nemesis on the death of the two Pashas." 

The workings of his conscience did indeed take on sur- 
prising shapes. Of the three ex-governors of Darfour, Bahr- 
el-Ghazal, and Equatoria, Emin Pasha had disappeared, 
Lupton Bey had died, and Slatin Pasha was held in cap- 
tivity by the Mahdi. By birth an Austrian and a Catholic, 
Slatin, in the last desperate stages of his resistance, had 
adopted the expedient of announcing his conversion to 
Mahommedanism, in order to win the confidence of his 
native troops. On his capture, the fact of his conversion 
procured him some degree of consideration ; and, though he 
occasionally suffered from the caprices of his masters, he had 
so far escaped the terrible punishment which had been meted 
out to some other of the Mahdi's European prisoners that 
of close confinement in the common gaol. He was now kept 
prisoner in one of the camps in the neighbourhood of Khar- 
toum. He managed to smuggle through a letter to Gordon, 
asking for assistance, in case he could make his escape. To 
this letter Gordon did not reply. Slatin wrote again and, 
again ; his piteous appeals, couched in no less piteous 
French, made no effect upon the heart of the Governor- j 
General. " Excellence ! " he wrote. " J'ai envoye* deux 
lettres, sans avoir re$u une reponse de votre excellence. . . . 
Excellence ! j'ai me battu 27 fois pour le gouvernement 
centre 1'ennemi on m'a feri deux fois, et j'ai rien fait centre 
1'honneur rien de chose qui doit empe'che' votre excellence 
de m'ecrir une reponse que je sais quoi faire. . . . Je vouf 
prie, Excellence, de m'honore' avec une re"ponse. . . J 
P.S. Si votre Excellence ont peutgtre entendu que j'ai fait 
quelque chose centre 1'honneur d'un officier et cela vous 
empche de m'ecrir, je vous prie de me donner Poccasion de 
me defendre, et jugez apres la verite"." The unfortunate 


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

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

Gordon, on hearing that a Frenchman had been captured 
by the Mahdi, became extremely interested. The idea 
jKCurred to him that this mysterious individual was none 
tpther than Ernest Renan, "who," he wrote, "in his last 
blication takes leave of the world, and is said to have 
ne into Africa, not to reappear again." He had met 
enan at the rooms of the Royal Geographical Society, had 
ticed that he looked bored the result, no doubt, of too 
uch admiration and had felt an instinct that he would 
beet him again. The instinct now seemed to be justified. 
(There could hardly be any doubt that it was Renan ; who 


else could it be ? "If he comes to the lines," he decided, 
44 and it is Renan, I shall go and see him, for whatever one 
may think of his unbelief in our Lord, he certainly dared to 
say what he thought, and he has not changed his creed to 
save his life." That the mellifluous author of the Vie de 
Jesus should have determined to end his days in the depths 
of Africa, and have come, in accordance with an intuition, 
to renew his acquaintance with General Gordon in the lines 
of Khartoum, would indeed have been a strange occurrence j 
but who shall limit the strangeness of the possibilities that 
lie in wait for the sons of men ? At that very moment, in 
the south-eastern corner of the Sudan, another Frenchman, 
of a peculiar eminence, was fulfilling a destiny more extra- 
ordinary than the wildest romance. In the town of Harrar, 
near the Red Sea, Arthur Rimbaud surveyed with splenetic 
impatience the tragedy of Khartoum. " C'est justement les 
Anglais," he wrote, " avec leur absurde politique, qui minent 
d^sormais le commerce de toutes ces cotes. Us ont voulu 
tout remanier et ils sont arrives a faire pire que les Egyptiens 
et les Turcs, ruines par eux. Leur Gordon est un idiot, 
leur Wolseley un a"ne, et toutes leurs entreprises une suite 
insense*e d'absurdite*s et de degradations." So wrote the 
amazing poet of the Saison D'Enfer amid those futile turmoils 
of petty commerce, in which, with an inexplicable delibera- 
tion, he had forgotten the enchantments of an unparalleled 
adolescence, forgotten the fogs of London and the streets of 
Brussels, forgotten Paris, forgotten the subtleties and the 
frenzies of inspiration, forgotten the agonised embraces of 

When the contents of Colonel Stewart's papers had been ; 
interpreted to the Mahdi, he realised the serious condition 
of Khartoum, and decided that the time had come to press 
the siege to a final conclusion. At the end of October, he 
himself, at the head of a fresh army, appeared outside the 
town. From that moment, the investment assumed a more 
and more menacing character. The lack of provisions now 
for the first time began to make itself felt. November 30th 


the date fixed by Gordon as the last possible moment of his 
resistance came and went ; the Expeditionary Force had 
made no sign. The fortunate discovery of a large store of 
grain, concealed by some merchants for purposes of specula- 
tion, once more postponed the catastrophe. But the attack- 
ing army grew daily more active, the skirmishes round the 
lines and on the river more damaging to the besieged, and 
the Mahdi's guns began an intermittent bombardment of 
the palace. By December i oth it was calculated that there 
was not fifteen days' food in the town ; " truly I am worn 
to a shadow with the food question," Gordon wrote ; " it 
is one continued demand." At the same time he received 
the ominous news that five of his soldiers had deserted to 
the Mahdi. His predicament was terrible ; but he calcu- 
lated, from a few dubious messages that had reached him, 
that the relieving force could not be very far away. Accord- 
ingly, on the 1 4th, he decided to send down one of his four 
remaining steamers, the Bordeen, to meet it at Metemmah, in 
order to deliver to the officer in command the latest infor- 
mation as to the condition of the town. The Eordeen carried 
down the last portion of the Journals, and Gordon's final 
messages to his friends. Owing to a misunderstanding, he 
believed that Sir Evelyn Baring was accompanying the 
expedition from Egypt, and some of his latest and most 
successful satirical fancies played round the vision of the 
distressed Consul-General perched for days upon the painful 
eminence of a camel's hump. " There was a slight laugh 
when Khartoum heard Baring was bumping his way up here 
a regular Nemesis." But, when Sir Evelyn Baring actu- 
ally arrived in whatever condition what would happen ? 
Gordon lost himself in the multitude of his speculations. 
His own object, he declared, was, " of course, to make tracks." 
Then in one of his strange premonitory rhapsodies, he threw 
out, half in jest and half in earnest, that the best solution 
of all the difficulties of the future would be the appointment 
of Major Kitchener as Governor-General of the Sudan. 
The Journal ended upon a note of menace and disdain. 


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

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

To his sister Augusta he was more explicit. " I decline 
to agree," he told her, " that the expedition comes for my 
relief ; it comes for the relief of the garrisons, which I failed 
to accomplish. I expect Her Majesty's Government are in 
a precious rage with me for holding out and forcing their 
hand." The admission is significant. And then came the 
final adieux. " This may be the last letter you will receive 
from me, for we are on our last legs, owing to the delay of the 
expedition. However, God rules all, and, as He will rule 
to His glory and our welfare, His will be done. I fear, 
owing to circumstances, that my affairs are pecuniarily not 
over bright . . . your affectionate brother, C. G. GORDON. 

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

The delay of the expedition was even more serious than 
Gordon had supposed. Lord Wolseley had made the most 
elaborate preparations. He had collected together a picked 
army of 1 0,000 of the finest British troops ; he had arranged 
a system of river transports with infinite care. For it was 
his intention to take no risks ; he would advance in force 
up the Nile ; he had determined that the fate of Gordon 
should not depend upon the dangerous hazards of a small 
and hasty exploit. There is no doubt in view of the 
opposition which the relieving force actually met with 
that his decision was a wise one ; but unfortunately he had 
miscalculated some of the essential elements in the situation. 
When his preparations were at last complete, it was found 
that the Nile had sunk so low that the flotillas, over which 
so much care had been lavished, and upon which depended 
the whole success of the campaign, would be unable to 
surmount the cataracts. At the same time it was by then 


the middle of November a message arrived from Gordon 
indicating tha Khartoum was in serious straits. It was 
clear that an mmediate advance was necessary ; the river 
route was out pf the question ; a swift dash across the desert 
was the only >ossible expedient after all. But no prepara- 
tions for lan< < transport had been made ; weeks elapsed 
before a suffici ^nt number of camels could be collected ; and 
more weeks be ."ore those collected were trained for a miltary 
march. It was not until December 3Oth more than a 
fortnight after the last entry in Gordon's Journal that Sir 
Herbert Stewart, at the head of noo British troops, was 
able to leave Korti on his march towards Metemmah, 170 
miles across the desert. His advance was slow, and it was 
tenaciously disputed by the Mahdi's forces. There was a 
desperate engagement on January i yth at the wells of Abu 
Klea ; the British square was broken ; for a moment victory 
hung in the balance ; but the Arabs were repulsed. On 
the i Qth, there was another furiously contested fight, in 
which Sir Herbert Stewart was killed. On the 2ist, the 
force, now diminished by over 250 casualties, reached 
Metemmah. Three days elapsed in reconnoitring the 
country, and strengthening the position of the camp. On 
the 24th, Sir Charles Wilson, who had succeeded to the 
command, embarked on the Bordeen, and started up the 
river for Khartoum. On the following evening, the vessel 
struck on a rock, causing a further delay of twenty-four 
hours. It was not until January 28th that Sir Charles 
Wilson, arriving under a heavy fire within sight of Khartoum, 
saw that the Egyptian flag was not flying from the roof 
of the palace. The signs of ruin and destruction on every 
hand showed clearly enough that the town had fallen. The 
relief expedition was two days late. 

The details of what passed within Khartoum during the 
last weeks of the siege are unknown to us. In the diary of 
Bordeini Bey, a Levantine merchant, we catch a few glimpses 
of the final stages of the catastrophe of the starving popu- 
lace, the exhausted garrison, the fluctuations of despair and 


hope, the dauntless energy of the Governor- General. Still 
he worked on, indefatigably, apportioning provisions, col- 
lecting ammunition, consulting with the tc >nspeople, en- 
couraging the soldiers. His hair had sudderly turned quite 
white. Late one evening, Bordeini Bey went to visit him 
in the palace, which was being bombarded *y the Mahdi's 
cannon. The high building, brilliantly ligh'ed up, afforded 
an excellent mark. As the shot came whittling round the 
windows, the merchant suggested that it would be advisable 
to stop them up with boxes full of sand. Upon this, Gordon 
Pasha became enraged. " He called up the guard, and gave 
them orders to shoot me if I moved ; he then brought a 
very large lantern which would hold twenty-four candles. 
He and I then put the candles into the sockets, placed the 
lantern on the table in front of the window, lit the candles, 
and then we sat down at the table. The Pasha then said, 
4 When God was portioning out fear to all the people in 
the world, at last it came to my turn, and there was no fear 
left to give me. Go, tell all the people in Khartoum that 
Gordon fears nothing, for God has created him without 
fear.' " 

On January 5th, Omdurman, a village on the opposite 
bank of the Nile, which had hitherto been occupied by the 
besieged, was taken by the Arabs. The town was now closely 
surrounded, and every chance of obtaining fresh supplies 
was cut off. The famine became terrible $ dogs, donkeys, 
skins, gum, palm fibre, were devoured by the desperate 
inhabitants. The soldiers stood on the fortifications like 
pieces of wood. Hundreds died of hunger daily : their 
corpses filled the streets ; and the survivors had not the 
strength to bury the dead. On the 2Oth the news of the 
battle of Abu Klea reached Khartoum. The English were 
coming at last. Hope rose ; every morning the Governor- 
General assured the townspeople that one day more would 
see the end of their sufferings ; and night after night his 
words were proved untrue. 

On the 23rd a rumour spread that a spy had arrived with 


letters, and that the English army was at hand. A merchant 
I found a piece of newspaper lying in the road, in which it 
f. was stated that the strength of the relieving forces was 
I 15,000 men. For a moment, hope flickered up again, only 
to relapse once more. The rumour, the letters, the printed 
paper, all had been contrivances of Gordon to inspire the 
garrison with the courage to hold out. On the 25th, it was 
obvious that the Arabs were preparing an attack, and a 
deputation of the principal inhabitants waited upon the 
Governor-General. But he refused to see them ; Bordeini 
Bey was alone admitted to his presence. He was sitting 
on a divan, and, as Bordeini Bey came into the room, he 
snatched the fez from his head and flung it from him. "What 
more can I say ? " he exclaimed, in a voice such as the 
merchant had never heard before. " The people will no 
longer believe me. I have told them over and over again 
that help would be here, but it has never come, and now 
they must see I tell them lies. I can do nothing more. Go, 
and collect all the people you can on the lines, and make a 
stand. Now leave me to smoke these cigarettes." 
rdeini Bey knew then, he tells us, that Gordon Pasha was 
despair. He left the room, having looked upon the 
vernor-General for the last time. 

When the English force reached Metemmah, the Mahdi, 
ho had originally intended to reduce Khartoum to surrender 
rough starvation, decided to attempt its capture by assault, 
e receding Nile had left one portion of the town's circum- 
rence undefended : as the river withdrew, the rampart 
crumbled ; a broad expanse of mud was left between 
wall and the water, and the soldiers, overcome by hunger 
d the lassitude of hopelessness, had trusted to the morass 
protect them, and neglected to repair the breach. Early 
the morning of the 26th, the Arabs crossed the river at 
is point. The mud, partially dried up, presented no 
tacle ; nor did the ruined fortification, feebly manned by 
me half-dying troops. Resistance was futile, and it was 
:ely offered : the Mahdi's army swarmed into Khartoum. 


Gordon had long debated with himself what his action should 
be at the supreme moment. " I shall never (D. V.)," he had 
told Sir Evelyn Baring, " be taken alive." He had had gun- 
powder put into the cellars of the palace, so that the whole 
building might, at a moment's notice, be blown into the air. 
But then misgivings had come upon him ; was it not his duty 
" to maintain the faith, and, if necessary, to suffer for it " ? 
to remain a tortured and humiliated witness of his Lord 
in the Mahdi's chains ? The blowing up of the palace would 
have, he thought, " more or less the taint of suicide," would 
be, " in a way, taking things out of God's hands." He 
remained undecided ; and meanwhile, to be ready for every 
contingency, he kept one of his little armoured vessels close 
at hand on the river, with steam up, day and night, to 
transport him, if so he should decide, southward, through the 
enemy, to the recesses of Equatoria. The sudden appearance 
of the Arabs, the complete collapse of the defence, saved 
him the necessity of making up his mind. He had been on 
the roof, in his dressing-gown, when the attack began ; and 
he had only time to hurry to his bedroom, to slip on a white 
uniform, and to seize up a sword and a revolver, before the 
foremost of the assailants were in the palace. The crowd 
was led by four of the fiercest of the Mahdi's followers tall 
and swarthy Dervishes, splendid in their many-coloured 
jibbehs, their great swords drawn from their scabbards of 
brass and velvet, their spears flourishing above their heads. 
Gordon met them at the top of the staircase. For a moment, 
there was a deathly pause, while he stood in silence, surveying 
his antagonists. Then it is said that Taha Shahin, the Don- 
golawi, cried in a loud voice, " Mala' oun el yom yomek ! " 
(O cursed one, your time is come), and plunged his spear 
into the Englishman's body. His only reply was a gesture 
of contempt. Another spear transfixed him ; he fell, and 
the swords of the three other Dervishes instantly hacked 
him to death. Thus, if we are to believe the official 
chroniclers, in the dignity of unresisting disdain, General 
Gordon met his end. But it is only fitting that the lastj 


moments of one whose whole life was passed in contradic- 
tion should be involved in mystery and doubt. Other wit- 
nesses told a very different story. The man whom they 
w die was not a saint but a warrior. With intrepidity, 
ith skill, with desperation, he flew at his enemies. When 
is pistol was exhausted, he fought on with his sword j he 
reed his way almost to the bottom of the staircase ; and, 
ng a heap of corpses, only succumbed at length to the 
eer weight of the multitudes against him. 
That morning, while Slatin Pasha was sitting in his 
ins in the camp at Omdurman, he saw a group of Arabs 
ching, one of whom was carrying something wrapped 
in a cloth. As the group passed him, they stopped for 
moment, and railed at him in savage mockery. Then the 
th was lifted, and he saw before him Gordon's head. The 
hy was taken to the Mahdi : at last the two fanatics had 
met face to face. The Mahdi ordered the head to 
fixed between the branches of a tree in the public high- 
y, and all who passed threw stones at it. The hawks of 
desert swept and circled about it those very hawks 
ich the blue eyes had so often watched. 
The news of the catastrophe reached England, and a great 
tcry arose. The public grief vied with the public indigna- 
>n. The Queen, in a letter to Miss Gordon, immediately 
ve vent both to her own sentiments and those of the 
tion. " How shall I write to you," she exclaimed, " or 
shall I attempt to express what I feel ! To think of your 
, noble, heroic Brother, who served his Country and his 
ueen so truly, so heroically, with a self-sacrifice so edifying 
the World, not having been rescued. That the promises of 
pport were not fulfilled which I so frequently and con- 
tly pressed on those who asked him to go is to me grief 
xpressible ! indeed, it has made me ill. . . . Would you 
ress to your other sisters and your elder Brother my true 
pathy, and what I do so keenly feel, the stain left upon 
[gland, for your dear Brother's cruel, though heroic, fate ! " 
reply, Miss Gordon presented the Queen with her brother's" 


Bible, which was placed in one of the corridors at Windsor, 
open, on a white satin cushion, and enclosed in a crystal 
case. In the meanwhile, Gordon was acclaimed in every! 
newspaper as a national martyr ; state services were held in! 
his honour at Westminster and St. Paul's ; 20,000 was 
voted to his family ; and a great sum of money was raised 
by subscription to endow a charity in his memory. Wrath 
and execration fell, in particular, upon the head of Mr. 
Gladstone. He was little better than a murderer ; he was a 
traitor ; he was a heartless villain, who had been seen at 
the play on the very night when Gordon's death was an- 
nounced. The storm passed ; but Mr. Gladstone had soon 
to cope with a still more serious agitation. The cry was} 
raised on every side that the national honour would be 
irreparably tarnished if the Mahdi were left in the peaceful I 
possession of Khartoum, and that the Expeditionary Force! 
should be at once employed to chastise the false prophet 
and to conquer the Sudan. But it was in vain that the 
imperialists clamoured, in vain that Lord Wolseley wrote 
several despatches, proving over and over again that to 
leave the Mahdi unconquered must involve the ruin of 
Egypt, in vain that Lord Hartington at last discovered that 
he had come to the same conclusion. The old man stood 
firm. Just then, a crisis with Russia on the Afghan frontier 
supervened ; and Mr. Gladstone, pointing out that every 
available soldier might be wanted at any moment for a 
European war, withdrew Lord Wolseley and his army from| 
Egypt. The Russian crisis disappeared. The Mahdi i 
remained supreme lord of the Sudan. 

And yet it was not with the Mahdi that the future lay. 
Before six months were out, in the plenitude of his power, 
he died, and the Khalifa Abdullahi reigned in his stead. The 
future lay with Major Kitchener and his Maxim-NordenfeWr 
guns. Thirteen years later the Mahdi's empire was abolished 
for ever in the gigantic hecatomb of Omdurman ; after which; 
it was thought proper that a religious ceremony in honour! 
of General Gordon should be held at the Palace at Khartoum, j 


The service was conducted by four chaplains of the Catholic, 
Anglican, Presbyterian, and Methodist persuasions and 
concluded with a performance of " Abide with me " the 
General's favourite hymn by a select company of Sudanese 
mglers. Every one agreed that General Gordon had been 
ivenged at last. Who could doubt it ? General Gordon 
himself, possibly, fluttering, in some remote Nirvana, the 
ges of a phantasmal Bible, might have ventured on a 
atirical remark. But General Gordon had always been a 
lontradictious person even a little off his head, perhaps 

lough a hero ; and besides, he was no longer there to 
:ontradict. ... At any rate, it had all ended very happily 

in a glorious slaughter of twenty thousand Arabs, a 
last addition to the British Empire, and a step in the 
jf eerage for Sir Evelyn Baring, 



General Gordon. Reflections in Palestine. Letters. Khartoum 


A. E. Hake. The Story of Chinese Gordon. 
H. W. Gordon. Events in the Life of C. G. Gordon. 
D. C. Boulger. Life of General Gordon. 
Sir W. Butler. General Gordon. 
Rev. R. H. Barnes and C. E. Brown. Charles George Gordon : A 


A. Bioves. Un Grand Aventurier. 
Li Hung Chang. Memoirs* 

Colonel Chaille-Long. My Life in Four Continents. 

Lord Cromer. Modern Egypt. 

Sir R. Wingate. Mahdiism and the Sudan. 

Sir R. Slatin. Fire and Sword in the Sudan. 

J. Ohrwalder. Ten Years of Captivity in the Mahdi's Camp. 

C. Neufeld. A Prisoner of the Khaleefa. 

Wilfrid Blunt. A Secret History of thi English Occupation of Egypt. 

Gordon at Khartoum. 
Winston Churchill. The River War. 

F. Power. Letters from Khartoum. 
Lord Morley. Life of Gladstone. 

George W. Smalley. Mr. Gladstone. Harper's Magazine, 1898. 

B. Holland. Life of the Eighth Duke of Devonshire. 
Lord Fitzmaurice. Life of the Second Earl Granville. 

S. Gwynn and Gertrude Tuckwell. Life of Sir Charles Dilke. 
Arthur Rimbaud. Lettres. 

G. F. Stevens. With Kitchener to Khartoum. 

* The authenticity of the Diary contained in this book has been disputed, notaMy 
by Mr. J. O. P. Blaud in his Li Hung Chant. (Constable. 1917.) 

Printed in Sngland at THE BALLANTYNE PRESS 

Coleke.tfr, London * Bto* 

For Some Opinions on " Queen Victoria" 
see overleaf. 


" It was inevitable that Mr. Lytton Strachey should try hia 
hand on Queen Victoria. This brillant specialist in Victorianism 
could not be expected to pass by its titular chief, the central figure 
from which radiated the influences and atmosphere so subtly 
traced in his previous studies." 

Westminster Gaxette. 

" Mr. Strachey has done real service to English hi story as well as 
to literature by a study of the Victorian Age, which is full of true 
portraits and of brilliant painting. His new book is equal to the 
best biographic pictures in our language." 

Mr. Frederic Harrison in the Fortnightly Review. 

" Mr. Strachey's ' Eminent Victorians ' struck a new note in 
English biography, and his new work shows no falling off in vigour, 
or subtlety, or brilliance of literary colouring. It marks, if 
thing, a more mature stage of his talent." 

The Times 



" There is no such short biography in English j thinking of 
analogues one finds oneself inevitably comparing it not with reco: 
of fact, but with fictions. His work is as uniform, as coheren 
as economical as the best short stories of Maupassant and Tche 

Mr. J. C. Squire in the Ob, 

" Whether viewed as a novel or a biography, this book is 
fascinating interest." 

Augustine Birrell in the Sunday Express. 

" A monograph that skims as powerfully and beautifully as 
aeroplane from cover to cover." 

Manchester Guardian. 

" A more brilliant or accomplished essay of biography has not 
been written since the days of Lockhart." 

British Weekly. 

" An astounding book." 

Daily Express. 





Strachey, Giles Lytton 
Eminent Victorians