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Full text of "The master spinner; a life of Sir Swire Smith .."

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 
AT LOS ANGELES 




THE MASTER SPINNER 




SIR SWIRE SMITH, LI,.D., M.P. 
From the Presentation Portrait by Solomon J. Solomon, R.A. 



THE 

MASTER SPINNER 

A LIFE OF SIR SWIRE SMITH, LL.D., M.P. 



:BY 



KEIGHLEY SNOWDEN 



WITH PORTRAIT 




LONDON : GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD 
RUSKIN HOUSE, 40 MUSEUM STREET, W.C. i 



(% F irat published, in, 1921 



(All rights reserved) 



A 

sr 6 s 



. . . His magic was not far to seek 
He was so human. Whether strong or weak, 
Far from his kind he neither sank nor soared, 
But sat an equal guest at every board ; 
ff\ No beggar ever felt him condescend, 

(^ Nor prince presume ; for still himself he bare 

At manhood's simple level, and where'er 
A'X He met a stranger, there he left a friend. 

LOWELL. 



i> 






CONTENTS 



PAGE 

INTRODUCTION . 1 1 



CHAPTER I 

Wagon Fold " Old Crowle " and rude diversions At Wesley College 
Apprenticeship and a donkey The diary Riding and picnics 
Glees at Oban A trip to London In business . . . .19 

CHAPTER II 

Screwy yarn and an ideal A " penny reading " Belver First 
sight of the Alps The Albinen ladders Fantastic scene at 
Leukerbad Confidence and young romance " Flower, Fruit 
and Thorn Pieces " A barn dance ...... 32 

CHAPTER III 

Founding a company at twenty-three Problem of a father 
Buckstone and Compton at Haworth " Out for nowght " First 
step in public life Edwin Waugh Home and the mother A 
Tennyson cult Politics Dr. Smiles as John the Baptist 
Business before love Italy Locked in the Coliseum Defiance 
of Income-tax Commissioners Soft sawder . . . .45 

CHAPTER IV 

Enigma Fidus Achates A brush with workers Rival lectures 
At St. Stephen's in the tea-room A prophecy " The Wearing of 
the Green " Hard work for education Measuring a door Turner 
the " Incomprehensible " A French Blue book Lord Houghton 
and the Prince The bank parlour . . . . .58 

CHAPTER V 

A discovery " Little short of a heretic " Racy letters Mr. Mun- 
della. Lord Lyttelton and Mr. Hobhouse Down a tin mine 
To Venice with Ruskin A menu " T' life of a h' angel " 
Stricken France A cripple at the pool English spies in Germany 
" Dandy Swire " A local orator's confession Bachelor feli- 
citations Mr. Morley -Mrs. Duncan McLaren Fight for a school 
board . . . . . . . . . . 73 

7 



8 THE MASTER SPINNER 

CHAPTER VI 

PAGE 

Affair of a North Country maid A stern judgment .... 98 

CHAPTER VII 

George Smith's new house Mr. Bright at One Ash A Swiss tour 
with ladies Stone-rolling on the Piz Corvatsch Punch jokes 
The marriage handicap A model begging letter Students' night 
Smith and McLaren Travel gaieties and habits Perils on 
the Mer de Glace Affection in gondoliers " Black Monday " 
at Bradford He buys a mill Mr. Bright on making speeches . 118 

CHAPTER VIII 

Romance of a new factory Ways with workpeople " That man 
works at our mill " Bad times Grass in Bradford streets 
Heckling Lodore Apple blossom and ladies' boots Ruskin 
School stories Too much chivalry A cry for help . . .139 

CHAPTER IX 

Royal Commission on Technical Instruction The notes Sir B. 
Samuelson's indigestion Unmentionable cure Rhyme of the 
Seven Commissioners Pigeons The Phrenix Park murders and 
Lady Frederick Cavendish First trip to America " Keighley's 
hand in every land " The dying mother . . . . .150 

CHAPTER X 

Speeches in seven towns The Clothworkers Mr. Silliman appears 
Founding a land mortgage bank Iter Helveticwn 
Compounding a felony The business Swire Smith and public 
honours The sunny side Scene on Bradford market Mr. 
Silliman warned With Sir H. Roscoe in Paris Pasteur Cham- 
berlain and Churchill At Studley Royal Bright on Gladstone 
Forster's "tears" Secretary Fisk and Lord Ripon Palmer- 
ston's one meal a day ........ 163 

CHAPTER XI 

Florida and the New World President Harrison Memories of the 
Civil War The Alcazar Phosphate rock " Town booming " 
New friends on the Indian River The prairie at dawn Founding 
Denver City Prince Kropotkin Pelion on Ossa Offered seats 
in Parliament Mr. Carnegie sings . . . . . . 181 

CHAPTER XII 

Swire Smith as a story-teller The load of hay The breeches 
" Holdin' your own " Ratting The gloomy farmer " It's an 
old un " Going home from market Dean Lefroy and the 
Rev. Newman Hall Some sayings from a commonplace book . 194 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER XIII 

PAGE 

A dream of Jupiter Island Mr. Carnegie's theology News of the 
Pittsburg riots Edward Atkinson Governor Hogg of Austin, 
Texas The Mortgage Bank Anxiety of a good angel A four- 
in-hand jaunt Steeton Manor Florida " an old-age pension " 
Grave irregularities Mark Twain talks Disaster . . .201 

CHAPTER XIV 

" Terribly cast down " An honourable directorship Sir Isaac Holden 
and gold-mining Mr. Morley at Cluny A millionaire pickaback 
The worth of song To Germany again Prince Hermann com- 
mends a sausage Mr. Carnegie's loan Candour at Liverpool 
The surprising knighthood . . . . . . .217 

CHAPTER XV 

Congratulations Danger of bachelordom At Osborne Luncheon 
and the " dubbing " Skibo Beaufort Castle Highland sports 
A rich man on Faust Mr. Carnegie's enthusiasms Earning 
and spending of millions " I'll keep out " First 10,000 for an 
English library George Smith's note of hand Services The 
Bright statue What to do with snapshots Death of George 
Smith 228 

CHAPTER XVI 

Idiosyncrasies A lively bachelor Two proposals and a puzzle 
Derelict mines A romantic matriarch Friendship for the States 
America's future A compliment ...... 244 

CHAPTER XVII 

Posers Mr. Chamberlain's ambition The talking pig Habits of 
Lord Brassey " The Old Brigade " Religious beliefs Bachelor 
enterprise Irving's last interview The blind man Death of 
Sam Smith Scenes in Serbia, Buda-Pesth and Nuremberg 
Royal College of Art : Secret history Sense of failure . . . 254 

CHAPTER XVIII 

Slighted Brussels Exhibition and the War A mock confessional 
Talk with the Belgian Queen Nice American characteristics 
Lord Charles Beresford and the lumberman " Cutting the string " 
Lord Morley's friendship King and Queen of Italy The bare- 
foot girl An artist's honeymoon The loan repaid . . . 269 

CHAPTER XIX 

Tree felling at seventy Bonfires and " ducks and drakes " A great 
presentation Letter to an " Old Boy " Social legislation 
" Florida sand " in his shoes Mr. Bryan The Palace of Peace 
Porridge with a fork Care-free ...... 288 



10 THE MASTER SPINNER 

CHAPTER XX 

PACK 

War Business disaster ? Lord Bryce and a Skibo irony Help for 
the Allies Sir John Brigg's lost leg Germany : A moral shock 
Factory " ladies " and women's work M.P. for Keighley 
No seat " Suited down to the ground " A ghost Christmas 
with a dog The last romance . . . . ' . . .301 

CHAPTER XXI 

Sale of the business Comradeship in Jupiter Island Entertaining 
wounded men Burlesque of Irving Ladies in the House 
" Mignon " Love letters Songs with his mill girls The Real 
German Rivalry Patriotism of Keighley Bulletin at seventy- 
five .......*... 318 

CHAPTER XXII 

A home in London Maiden speech America and the League of 
Nations Controlling exports Travels in war-time Under 
fire on Vimy Ridge The dead German Success of a book 
The strenuous life and date pasty Efforts for the " Old Vic." 
A rest cure and Mercutio's hurt Last days . . . .331 



INTRODUCTION 

WHEN Sir Swire Smith died, seven hundred people 
made a procession to his grave and thousands 
looked on. He had been a far more important 
man than his modesty and certain other traits allowed the 
world to know, and his life had been quite romantic, though 
that was not divined. He owed the great funeral less to 
his career than to a special charm of personality. 

I propose to make his portrait as " The Master Spinner " 
a type of that historical time before the war when this 
country taught the use of machinery to the world. Not 
only public work but much travel, of which he has left notes 
that are very racy, qualifies him for large treatment ; and 
so do his close relations with men like Edward Atkinson, 
John Bright, Lord Bryce, Mr. Carnegie, Lord Morley, Lord 
Ripon and Sir Henry Roscoe his contacts with royal and 
other personages abroad, and his influence in affairs equally 
the subjects of a vivacious record. It is only in part a 
romance of business, but what would any good reader not 
give for an intimate story of one of the old Hansa merchants ? 

There is even reason why he should be preferred for 
such treatment to most British manufacturers ; the life 
was so uncommonly full, varied and joyous. When sworn a 
Member of Parliament at seventy-three, Sir Swire Smith still 
had so much vigour a bachelor with the fair hair and sound 
physique of middle age that news writers dubbed him the 
" youngest member " with a double meaning. He was 
equally young at heart, life having been a sort of happy 
adventure with him. He therefore seems to represent 

very well that unique commercial period, with its quick 

11 



12 THE MASTER SPINNER 

expansion, its optimism, and the free developments that 
prepared us for a great stand against tyranny. 

This, however, is first of all the story of a man's heart. 
It would be of little interest that Sir Swire Smith attained 
some distinction, and had friends throughout Europe and 
in the United States, and was loved by his own people, 
if he had not left candid personal notes. He wrote well, 
and saw the world picturesquely. He also loved women 
well. It was a sentimental life, and I am free to tell the 
truth about it. At the same time, my friend rose from such 
a plain level to serve his country that the romance is no 
less evident in his prestige as a man of business than in any 
affair of the heart. 

When the story opens, in the forties of last century, 
Yorkshire people spun and wove with hardly a thought of 
selling their wares abroad largely ; the first line of British 
steamships crossing the Atlantic was new, and there were 
still handlooms. Populous now, and wealthy enough, the 
West Riding was then a region of green dales, well-wooded 
and thinly inhabited, with little smoke to mar their vistas. 
But an industry derived of old from Flanders flourished 
hopefully. Mr. John James, the historian of worsted manu- 
facture, notes that " the inhabitants of Keighley and 
Haworth had been among the most expert spinners of the 
eighteenth century," and were doing better than those of 
Bradford. They throve even in the " hungry forties." 
While cottage weavers in the hills despaired, a few enter- 
prising men who could install the power loom had begun to 
make fortunes and to educate their children. A few only : 
but thereupon there appeared a group of very charming 
young people. One is reminded of what happened in the 
young cities of mediaeval Italy, awaking to their more 
important civilization. 

The times were rough. A generation later the building 
of public baths could still be hindered by an old savage. 
He said that he had had only one bath in his life, and looked 
it ; but Keighley backed him. Some of the little fortunes 



INTRODUCTION 13 

were spent by roystering sons. For one such lout, who drove 
home tipsy from every Bradford market, his father arranged 
an ambush of masked men to scare him into prudent ways ; 
and at Nab Wood, where there had once been footpads, 
they cried, " Deliver ! Your brass or your brains ! " 
" Deliver be damned," said the youngster : "as weel no 
brains as no brass," and drove on to be commended for his 
sense of values. More people signed with a cross to vote 
against a school board, in 1873, than with either cross or 
name for that novelty. Even so, the little group spread 
a sort of renaissance. It had incidentally founded in England 
a pioneer school of science and art ; so that Professor Huxley, 
Dean of the College of Science at South Kensington, saw 
students from Keighley occupying more benches there than 
students from any other town or city in the kingdom, and 
was asking, " Where is this Keighley ? " 

Swire Smith was the gayest and most ardent spirit of 
the circle. Its gaiety is what was charming. Those intimate 
notes admit us to picnics, dances, love affairs and ingenuous 
ideals ; and one sees how it produced, among other good 
things, one blithe and serviceable bachelor, a modest citizen 
of the world " with the zeal of a prophet " I quote a 
compliment earned by him " and the methods of a society 
entertainer." 

He became such a man in the course of business, and 
that is unusual. In spite of mishaps in love, and of one 
business disaster that would have broken most men's courage, 
he continued gay. There is no one who knew Sir Swire 
Smith, however slightly, whom he did not leave in debt 
for good cheer or for service. The death of such a man seemed 
unreasonable ; and I confess that for me he still lives, with a 
warm presence at my shoulder, nudging me to do this 
spiriting gently. 

He had notable forebears, of course. There are stories of 
a grandfather, born in 1773 and known as " Bill Milner " 
Bill the Miller who seems dynamic ; a gaunt man of 
tremendous physique and resolution. By the work of his 



14 THE MASTER SPINNER 

hands and shrewd management, this man gave a fair start 
to the survivors in a family of fourteen sons and daughters, 
and that in times when the price of four pounds of brown 
sugar or a stone of flour was five shillings. The grandmother, 
Elizabeth Thompson, must have been a great helpmeet, 
but women's part in things was taken for granted ; she is 
not remembered. 

In his teens Bill Milner was the champion football player 
in a game without rules, the goals miles apart and no touch- 
line. One imagines this rough diversion. It went like a 
riot up and down the straggling little town, breaking windows, 
till the hue and cry failed as the champion got away up or 
down the valley. Once he was matched against a noted 
runner. Being an apprentice, he arranged to run at five 
o'clock in the morning to Bingley and back, eight miles. 
The old folks used to say that this race was run neck and 
neck in forty minutes ; but, strictly speaking, only Bill 
Milner ran it in that time, for when he sprinted towards 
the finish the noted runner stopped. 

He was apprenticed at a cotton mill, one of the first 
cotton mills in the West Riding. The owner bought a 
steam engine not to drive the mill, but to lift water on 
to a wheel and he was put in charge of it and became a 
sort of mechanic. Presently he was mending clocks in his 
spare time. He did that well. It is not of him, but a rival, 
that the tale is told of a repaired cuckoo clock that " ooed " 
before it " cucked." 

At twenty-one he set up on his own account and married, 
making guide wires for spinning frames and afterwards 
flyers and spindles. His wife helped. She rocked a cradle 
with a string tied to her foot. The spindles were sold in 
Bradford, nine miles away, and carried there on his back. 
Soon he was able to install a little engine, and, incidentally, 
made this engine rock the cradle : which device cannot at 
first have been perfect, for the cradle with a child in it was 
carried up by a strap to the ceiling. Later he bought a 
horse and dogcart for his journeys. Nab Wood was then 



INTRODUCTION 15 

the haunt of real robbers, and with a rope stretched across 
the road one night they brought his horse down ; but he 
travelled with stones in his pockets and a " besom steyl " 
a broom handle and even in the dark they recognized 
Bill Milner as he set about them. This man seems to have 
freed Nab Wood. 

His sons, as they grew up, found him a tremendous worker 
and disciplinarian, never in bed (save on Saturdays and Sun- 
days) till eleven at night or after five in the morning. He 
was now making spinning frames. When the engine or the 
boiler needed repairs he worked through the night, and the 
youngest boy fell asleep holding a candle. 

Those were bitter days for children. There was no law 
that they should go to school " half time," and in the first 
rush to the mills, with food dear and wages low, they were 
either neglected or put to work when quite small, as philan- 
thropic records tell and old men still remember. The 
working day was fifteen hours ; and in the decade 1820-30 
that youngest boy, out in the dark of a winter's morning, 
often saw a man trudging to work with a child on his back. 
Even at seven or eight years old a child was useful. A 
generation appeared in which deformities and dwarfish 
growth were common, and Keighley was notorious for 
" K-legs." At Bingley Tide a facetious man was seen on 
his hands and knees in the crowd, peering about strangely. 
" Drunk ? " he said. " Nowght o' t' sort. I'm lookin' for 
a Keighley chap." 

But William Smith had a keen regard for schooling, the 
lack of which may be a handicap. There was in the town 
an old man named Farish, reputed a great arithmetician. 
William Smith set apart a room in his workshop to be used 
at nights, for the benefit of his apprentices and sons, by Mr. 
Farish. They submitted throughout a winter to this arrange- 
ment, and then Mr. Farish, honest man, reported a very 
poor attendance, asking whether he should continue teaching. 

" Does our Prin' attend ? " the patron asked. 

Yes ; he did. 



16 THE MASTER SPINNER 

" Then go on ; if you can make one good un, it'll pay 
me." And the son in question became the founder of a 
huge business, that of Prince Smith and Son, the largest 
makers of worsted machinery in the world. 

There is one more character note, either on this father 
or on the mother. The child who fell asleep holding a candle 
grew up to furnish it ; he remembered lighting them on 
Sunday nights to the Wesleyan chapel, arm in arm, his 
father tall and spare, his mother short and stout. He toddled 
a few yards ahead with a lantern, and when they went into 
chapel the father carried the mother's pattens. 

This youngest boy, named George, was the father of 
Sir Swire Smith. When four years old, in 1816, sitting on 
a neighbour's shoulder, he saw a man tied to the tail of a 
cart and flogged by a soldier from the top to the bottom 
of Keighley main street. The wretch had stolen lead. 
After every stroke the soldier drew the cat-o' -nine-tails 
through his fingers. George Smith, who in spite of a hard 
childhood lived to be ninety, was in his own way a " char- 
acter " no less conspicuous than Bill Milner, but with a 
largeness the father lacked. If there is a smile in this picture 
of dark ages it is his. He was a partner in the machinery 
firm, but his hobby was a horse. As a boy he would wait 
on summer evenings for the coach from Bradford or Skipton, 
to get a bareback ride to the river, and would push his 
mount so far in that he had almost to kneel on its back to 
escape a wetting. When, as a man, he attended Bradford 
market, George Smith's nag, like that of Mr. W. E. Forster 
a generation later, was the best goer on the road ; and, 
in the leisure of middle life, he took a farm to breed and 
train some of the fastest trotting horses in the country. 

It was said that, of all the Smith brothers, George was 
the only man who could forgive an injury ; and his humorous 
interest in life amounted to public spirit. Genial, rough 
and portly, there is but one harshness recorded of him. 
A stranger had come to visit the works. One of the younger 
workmen thought it funny to heave, if not half a brick, a 



INTRODUCTION 17 

chunk of wood at him. George Smith asked who had done 
this, and, nobody confessing or denouncing, he went out 
for a hazel stick and flogged every workman in the shop 
with it. For most occasions humour served his turn ; as 
when the local prophet Roe announced a shower of asses 
for believers, and he urged one of these to build a stable. 
I myself remember him in old age, fond of seeing weddings. 
He had a merry word for the bridegroom. What a heartiness 
rang in his voice, using the dialect, the " old talk " ! His 
distinguished son used to tell with pride of a retort of his 
at ninety to some Job's comforter. 

" I'll tell yo' what, maister," said this acquaintance, 
meeting him one morning : " yo're gettin' owder." 

" Ay ! " the old man cried, very cheerful ; " and I'm 
glad on it." 

" What, glad o' gettin' owder ? " 

"Ay! For if I worn't gettin' owder I souldn't be here ! " 

Sir Swire Smith inherited that warmth, humour and 
shrewdness. A singular gentleness and modesty were 
added by his mother, Mary Swire, a woman of no education, 
but of yeoman stock and some family tradition of " better 
breeding." There was even a Swire art faculty, which 
appeared not only in her sons, but in collateral branches of 
her family ; but it cannot be traced back to any known 
ancestor, and art, after all, is an old human cunning, variously 
fostered in Yorkshire by the common love of natural 
beauty and of song. She seems to have been very sweet- 
natured, religious and methodical. 

Chiefly, the boy was privileged in being born of such 
parents when he was. While machinery was still hated or 
destroyed by the mass of workers, and schools were few 
and there was general poverty, he came into the world so 
circumstanced that education and a little wealth could 
enlarge his life and usefulness far beyond the scope of this 
immediate parentage. In the sequel, this country owed to 
Sir Swire Smith and a few other public men a great part of 
its pre-war prosperity. 

2 



THE MASTER SPINNER 



CHAPTER I 

Wagon Fold " Old Crowle " and rude diversions At Wesley College 
Apprenticeship and a donkey The diary Riding and picnics 
Glees at Oban A trip to London In business. 

THE little house in which Swire Smith was born on 
March 4, 1842, known as Wagon Fold, stands no 
longer. It was near the head of a narrow and 
crooked main street, facing the sun. There is now a 
stationer's shop there. The street was paved with huge 
blocks, and there was nothing artistic in the design of either 
shops or houses at that time. Similar blocks of greyed 
freestone made them all look solidly plain. A church stood 
near, with stocks on the church " green," where there was 
no grass, and so did a stately house with one wide gable. 
There was, of course, a bank. But the market town of 
13,000 people had no other buildings of any size except a 
modest " mechanics' institute," its chapels, its new power 
mills and the Smith machine shop. 

From the head of the street an abrupt hill rises to the 
moors that divide Yorkshire from Lancashire, the wuthering 
heights of Emily Bronte. Haworth is four miles away to 
the south, crowning another spur, and no one then 
respected it. 

Swire was the first son, though not the eldest child, of 
a family of four. The boy was small but sturdy. Whether 
he went to a " dame school " or the mother taught him his 
letters no one remembers ; but certainly she took him to a 
Wesleyan chapel before he was breeked, and sent him early 

19 



20 THE MASTER SPINNER 

to the Sunday school. He does not seem to have been 
much frightened ; however, scenes at the " love feasts " 
and what he heard from the pulpit awoke at least as many 
emotions as she did. This mother also taught him to do 
small duties regularly, so that he formed some diligent 
habits ; to hurt nobody's feelings even with laughter, if 
that could be helped ; and to be serviceable. He was, 
fortunately, light-hearted. When the parish feast came 
round there was a school treat with a gala, which allowed 
of pagan jollity within seemly limits. And his father's 
humour was tolerant, unlike the hot gospel. 

The boy had a merry look, with earnest blue eyes and 
bright hair inclined to wave ; and he played as many sly 
tricks as other lads. A surviving school-mate remembers 
that for awhile he got away from school half an hour before 
the rest, on the plea that he had to take his father's " forenoon 
drinking " to the shop. They knew that, as a rule, George 
Smith came home to dinner, and trembled for him. " Old 
Crowle," a later schoolmaster, was a firm disciplinarian. 
Mr. Crowle taught a voluntary school run by the Wesleyans 
for thirty-six scholars, and seems to have been good in his 
day, though he failed to teach arithmetic to a youngster 
not yet ready for it. Penmanship and character were 
his strong points. The boy promised well in both, 
and in drawing and recitation too. He had a good 
memory. 

In the rough little town there were not many games that 
mothers looked upon with favour, and none that schools 
encouraged. Our hero made the most of whip-top, peg- 
top, " last-o'-back " and kite-flying, which are not supposed 
to be educational ; and he played a sort of disorderly cricket 
on strange pitches. There being no baths, any summer 
bathing after school was done in the Worth beck not a 
pellucid stream ; and it had to be carefully managed, other- 
wise he might be found out at bedtime, because little bits 
of wool from the mill wash-tubs were apt to give a boy 
away. (The careful mother would have wished him to 



HOME AND COLLEGE 21 

" mix with his betters.") But the country round about 
was full of interest and beauty, and he explored it on Satur- 
days with a cousin, making for the hill-tops, Rivoc and the 
Druids' Altar. Once they found a young cuckoo in a moor- 
tit's nest, and made deplorable efforts to rear it in a stable : 
tragedy ! There was one rough companion allowed him, 
a fighting bulldog named Belver, who fielded brilliantly at 
cricket in spite of hard knocks, was a famous ratter, and sat 
in the doors of butcher's shops (defending them) until the 
gift of a bone got rid of him. Belver was intelligent. Having 
had a fore-leg set once, after a blow, he not only showed 
fight at all walking-sticks, but went again to the doctor 
with a needle in his foot. 

Swire had a sweet singing voice, and was taught to read 
music in the chapel choir. He took lessons later from Miss 
Carrodus, a sister of the violinist, a Keighley man ; and it 
is hardly possible to say how much he owed in the end to 
music. 

At fourteen he was sent to the first secondary school 
established for Methodism, at Sheffield the famous Wesley 
College, founded in 1838 by Dr. S. D. Waddy, the father 
of Mr. Sam Waddy, Q.C., one of the first pupils. All educa- 
tion was then religious, but this was a college for the sons 
of laymen ; and George Smith, knowing little more than 
that about it, paid 60 a year in fees with extras. His elder 
brother, Prince, had done the like. So the boy left home 
with a queer exhilaration that made his sobs look foolish, 
and after a long railway journey found himself in the biggest 
and finest building he had seen, with large grounds about it 
a building Doric and formidable. 

There were 150 other boarders, mostly big boys, and, 
unlike him, they talked the English language. He was to 
be very good at that. He took a commercial course, with 
no language or literature but English ; and towards the 
end of it he edited the school magazine. A schoolfellow 
lately dead at Ipswich used to say that in English subjects 
Swire Smith had been the only boy he could not beat. For 



22 THE MASTER SPINNER 

the rest, he was equipped for business, and kept in the best 
of health and spirits. 

There is a story of one small escapade, as to which you 
must know that he was a mimic. The college being strong on 
music, parts of oratorios were prepared for Sunday chapel, 
which people from the town attended ; and a master, who 
had to take a tenor solo, practised high notes in the corridors 
on the unpleasant word " chastisement." That was funny ; 
and one night he heard merriment in the dormitories, following 
a spirited imitation in soprano. He had possibly been 
feeling anxious. Appearing suddenly in Swire's cubicle, he 
said in any case with much asperity, " You are crying out 
for chastisement you shall have it ! " Bis dat qui cito 
dat ; but that, too, was funny. 

It was an admirable college in its day, and not narrowly 
denominational. There were sports, with the atmosphere of 
a serious public school. The youngster was not unhappy 
there. But it is certain that college did not usurp the place 
of home, because, in spite of a genius for friendship, he 
formed no lasting attachment among his schoolfellows. 

He came home full of promise, and then there was great 
question about his start in life. He dreamed of making 
spinning frames, not wool. But in the machine shop founded 
by his grandfather, now dead, there were already four 
partners, his sons, with four of their boys ; and George 
Smith saw no shining path to fortune for Swire in that 
company. In any case, George Smith's heart was not in 
the business like that of an elder brother who in the end 
became dominant ; and the mother, shy of trouble, said, 
" Why not let him try spinning ? " There was a pleasant 
family of Quaker origin, like the Brights at Rochdale, who 
had a spinning mill and with whom she was friendly. Their 
name was Brigg. They have since given to Keighley a 
Member of Parliament, the late Sir John Brigg, than whom 
perhaps there was never a more gracious figure at St. 
Stephen's. " Wonderful to tell," runs a note left by the 
Master Spinner, " my father waited on old Mr. Brigg, and 



THE DIARY 23 

he took me apprentice. Soon I was like one of the family, 
and a favourite not least with Mrs. Brigg, the sweetest 
woman next to my mother that I ever knew." 

He was no less a favourite with the workpeople. That 
came of his being a normal, bright, good-natured lad, but 
he must also have owed some popularity to practical joking. 
Going thoroughly through the processes of sorting, combing 
and spinning like one of themselves, he amused them. There 
were still hand combers, who came for their wool, took it 
home, and brought back the combed " tip." One of them 
had a patient donkey. Mr. B. S. Brigg remembers that 
his young friend, who had doubtless read the Lancashire tale 
of " Besom Ben," put a sheet under the donkey in this 
man's temporary absence, fastened it to the crane rope, and 
hauled the astonished animal up into the warehouse. His 
work was done no worse for pranks of that kind. 

And now begins a diary, to be kept with few breaks for 
nearly sixty years of work and adventure. 

Why was it kept ? Not, certainly, with any foresight of 
its value. It has not a trace of vanity, though there is one 
confession an early and mere mention of " ambition." 
It shows no kind of unusual self-consciousness. From first 
to last, however, there is such a zest of life that, knowing 
him well, I believe he kept a diary from sheer interest in 
what happened to him and what he was doing. Moreover, 
it gave him pleasure to use a pen, doing neat work with it. 
Whatever else Wesley College did, it turned out a good 
journalist in posse ; and, from time to time, he delighted to 
supplement the record with full accounts of his holiday tours 
at home and abroad, which were many, or he would turn 
in later life to one of his commonplace books, and, among 
political data and bits of verse and abstracts and good 
stories, would enter up his memories of famous men. 

He knew the value of these, of course. Towards the 
end, Sir Swire Smith had some thought of writing his own 
life and praising all the best that he had seen ; he was making 
memoranda for it. But by that time the diary was a mere 



24 THE MASTER SPINNER 

log. So far as the early years are concerned, it is as if his 
sunny, sterling, busy and romantic nature had written itself 
in invisible ink before the fire of events revealed it. He 
was what he afterwards seemed. Though kept for his own 
eyes faithfully, the diary contains nothing about himself 
that I might be tempted by respect to conceal or to sophisti- 
cate ; and you are to make with him an acquaintance as 
intimate as my own. 

At seventeen he is leading a very pleasant life. Though 
he worked hard, there is but one entry about the mill : " Got 
a new gate-frame, so I stayed till late to set it up." 

He is most concerned to record the jolly diversions of a 
boy's leisure among companions rides, a game of archery, 
his first wasps' nest, a fishing expedition that followed, 
from which " we came home as we went, singing like birds 
' Hail, smiling morn ' at midnight, and got to bed about 
one." He is in the saddle a good deal, sometimes thrown 
by mettlesome mounts. One entry reads : " Had a ride 
with James Smith, Scotchman, and let him see what going 
was by the side of his own." Another : " I rode Ted's horse 
a little to take the edge off him, and was galloping him at 
full speed towards the Pinnacle " on Cowling Moor, between 
rough stone walls " when he stumbled against an embank- 
ment at the side of the road and I flew over his head. How- 
ever, I sustained no injury." His own edge was not to be 
taken off. Again : " Meant to go for a ride, but went to 
the bazaar instead and enjoyed myself famously with Miss W. 
and other friends " the last word underscored three 
times. 

There is always a boy friend with him, and soon they 
go for their first ride with ladies. " We found them habited, 
waiting ; got them on their ponies," and, once more, enjoyed 
it " famously. Ready for another." The warmth of his 
nature shows itself on a Scarborough holiday, when, hearing 
that this friend is dangerously ill, he comes home after only 
four days. As for the boyish enjoyment, it is equally noted 
down after a summer evening among raspberries and straw- 



PICNICS 25 

berries, " first rate ; " and as yet he is not moved to the 
depths by a wedding. " John Brigg married to Miss 
Anderton, of Bingley. John looked uncommonly well, so 
did Mary ; it was certainly a fine sight. The (wool) sorters 
had a little spree, and I attended a supper at the Crown in 
honour of the occasion." Sometimes he stays indoors at 
night to copy music, and on Sundays there is the choir 
singing. But life is much too full of delights for more study 
of any sort, so that he has once to record, with a touch of 
compunction, that for months he has not had an evening 
with his mother. 

The inference is that he gave her no anxiety. He was 
at home in the Brigg household and had his liberty to 
make what use of it he would. No doubt she heard all 
about it from the other sweet woman. 

Watching him develop freely, one discovers the first 
sign of diligence in regard to picnics. Before the diary, 
the boy had begun a book about picnics. There are thirty-five 
close pages (in a beautiful hand, such as old schoolmasters 
taught) about a trip to Clapham Cave with fifty-seven 
young people of whom he was the youngest. It is significant, 
for Swire Smith loved society and sightseeing as much as 
anything ; and it introduces that group of possibly a score 
bright spirits with whom he was to take many such pleasant 
trips in the next few years, acquiring nice manners. 

The proper end of all such young society is love-making, 
and in a country town it is not mistaken. No rival interest 
pretends to such importance. There was no other sex war. 
They took sides for a game, and played it with much spirit 
and unfailing good temper, as appears from many a sly 
touch ; and, two by two, one finds them taking it as a fine 
adventure, whereupon, with best wishes, they disappear 
from the story. It was a game that went with dance and 
song and many sorts of frolic, in all the glades and gorges 
of that countryside successively. Nothing easier to arrange. 
" May 4th. Wrote a great many invitations to people to 
come to a picnic in Hawkcliff Wood. May 5th Went to 



26 THE MASTER SPINNER 

the picnic." By a fortunate chance, there is an observant 
sister's note in his own book on the rogue's behaviour. 

Tea being at last proclaimed, the ladies spread their 
shawls, cloaks, etc., and sat down to partake of each other's 
bounty, while the gentlemen (at least most of them) assisted. 
When tea was nearly over one lady and gentleman were 
found to have been absent ; upon which an outcry was raised, 
scouts being sent in all directions to holloa and call. In a 
few minutes the couple came coolly walking into our midst 
and said they had only been to look at the cave and the 
kirk. Some one asked if they had found anything wanting 
except the parson. In excuse let me add that the lady was 
not a Keighleyite (it might be the custom of her country), 
and that the gentleman was ! ! ! ! ! the youngest of the 
party. 

Admirable teasing. He took lessons in deportment from 
the gentler sex like every son of Adam. 

The next piece of writing, done at nineteen, is less of a 
schoolboy's exercise. It reveals that passion for travel and 
for what is beautiful in Nature which was to lead him far 
afield. He went a round trip in Scotland as if it had been 
the Grand Tour, and there is not a dull sentence in the 
ingenuous 20,000 words written about it for his people. 
Did he read Scott's poems because he was going, or did 
he go because he had been reading them ? I cannot be 
sure ; now and then he quotes a passage, and goes into 
raptures. " The bristled territory of the Trossachs " is 

So wondrous wild, the whole might seem 
The scenery of a fairy dream. 

But mainly the tour was great fun. The fairy dream never 
much bemused his high spirits, nor vied with his interest 
in companionable, lively people with whom, then and 
always, he was on the best terms they had the sense to admit. 
He went with two merry friends and joined one of Cook's 
parties, which in those days were almost " select." The 
Marquis of Cholmondeley, Admiral Hope and Sir Edward 



SONGS AT OBAN 27 

Grogan joined it too, and did not snub their fellow- 
travellers ; and Mr. Thomas Cook himself, weatherbeaten, 
with his homely smile, conducted it. 

They all seem to have been lodged as often in private 
houses as in hotels ; and they were welcome, for in the 
September evenings they played games and told stories. 
If anything sobered the three boys but rough seas, hunger 
and sleep, it was music. Mark his enthusiasm for it : 

After sitting a little while before a bright and cheerful 
fire, we sallied out into the pale moonlight on a pleasant 
road towards Dunolly Castle. We walked up a little hill 
behind the village (Oban), to contemplate the quiet spread 
of land and water, and here struck up some of our favourite 
glees. If ever we entered with true heart into singing, 
I think it was at that time. We were each in good voice, 
and as strict as possible (things quite unusual to us) to time, 
tune and the equality of our voices, so that one part was 
not louder than another. The evening was mild and the 
air clear ; we could see the people below among the little 
lighted shops, who had come in to make their Saturday 
purchases. We began with " Oh, who will o'er the down so 
free," singing very softly and swelling on the right passages ; 
but the last verse we sang forte. It had the effect of pleasing 
even ourselves, as the reverberations died slowly away in 
the hills behind. 

The people below seemed astonished. We dimly saw 
their heads turn to where we could not be seen in the twilight, 
and they were as still as possible after the tune was finished, 
except that one or two hallooed to us. We next struck up 
" The Hardy Norseman," putting due weight into the 
chorus. I think glee singing must be uncommon at Oban, 
or they wondered at the sound of it behind their houses ; 
for they came out of doors till there was almost a crowd, 
and we were answered by loud shouts for more. So we 
carried the joke on and sang them " Lady of Beauty," 
others of our collection and " Auld Lang Syne," while they 
encored and shouted. Some of them seemed inclined to 
ferret out our position, so we rested on our laurels. 

Next year there was a trip to London, for the musical 
festival at " Sydenham Palace." Seven young and eager 



28 THE MASTER SPINNER 

sons of manufacturers got away from work for a week 
together and devoured the sights of Town. There were the 
brothers Brigg Tom, John, Will and Ben with the last 
of whom, in particular, he was to form a close and lifelong 
friendship and his companions of the Scotch expedition. 

They heard " The Messiah " sung by 4,000 voices, and 
filled every waking hour with sightseeing. Besides the 
Exhibition they contrived to see Kew Gardens (then a 
novelty), Madame Tussaud's, Cremorne in its last phase, the 
" Zoo," the Houses of Parliament, John Leech's sketches in 
oil from Punch, a " singing room " whatever that may 
have been and five or six theatres. Patti, Tamberlik and 
Formes were heard in " Don Giovanni." 

There is a curious little note-book, containing neat 
memoranda of spinning costs and yarn prices, tables of 
" new drawings," wage calculations, purchases and the 
like, which doubtless meant as much in their own way as 
those occasional outings did. Meanwhile, for the last two 
years preceding his majority, here is a sketch of his life, in 
broken extracts from the diary : 

October 23, 1861. Went to Bradford from the mill with 
H. and F. to hear Charles and Mrs. Kean in " Hamlet " ; 
liked amazingly. 

Saturday 26th. Harry and I borrowed Jack and Smute 
and went to Mr. Jackson's, rabbiting. Had some good 
sport and a nice walk home. 

Sunday 2?th. Ind. and Meth. (He sang in the choirs 
of two chapels.) 

Thursday, December 1.2th. To Bradford with a great 
amount of people to hear Jenny Lind, Sims Reeves and 
Patti. Took Emma, Annie and M. I. to a confectioner's 
till time. Enjoyed the concert famously. 

Monday, 2$rd. All business places stopped in conse- 
quence of the burial of Prince Albert ; all respectable people 
in mourning. In the afternoon Harry and I drove to Skipton 
in our dogcart, Miss E. and M. A. W. with us. 

Tuesday, 24th. In the afternoon Will, Ben, Ted, Prince, 
Sam, Tom Shackleton and I took train to Settle and had 
tea at Mrs. Hartley's, the Golden Lion ; after which we set 



START IN BUSINESS 29 

off Christmas singing to all the great houses around. Got 
plenty of beer (he was himself a teetotaller), spice cake, 
etc., and earned about los. 

Wednesday 2$th. Went to Giggleswick Church and sat 
in the choir. Afterwards walked to Stainforth Force and 
Catrick Force, calling at some houses by the way to sing 
for them. We also went to see Mr. Twistleton, the giant 
farmer, who weighs 22 stone. Came home by the last train. 

Friday, 2jth. Guard House with Ben (a frequent entry). 
Miss Sugden's grand party took place. 

Tuesday, 315^. Emma and Annie were at our house, 
having come to dress for a party at Low Mill. We went 
about 7 o'clock and joined thirty more. Had a good dance 
and " stir." 

It runs on, bustling uneventfully ; the only point is 
that nothing escapes him, whether dances or missionary 
meetings, a sham fight of Volunteers or a lecture, the 
Keighley Fair (" spent a lot of money in foolishness ") or a 
service in relief of the Lancashire cotton famine. As for 
business, he is attending Bradford market with the buyer ; 
and when the end of his apprenticeship draws near the 
elders intervene with grave proposals. 

There is nothing to show what his hopes were. It is 
only plain that, as there had been no room for him in the 
machine shop, so there would be none in the firm that he 
had served happily. But his foreseeing sire revolved a 
purpose, which presently took shape. 

Monday, December 29, 1862. Father came up to the 
mill and paid Mr. Brigg my premium. I was sent for and 
had a long talk with them in the office. Mr. Brigg laid 
down three considerations for me to study : whether I would 
like (i) to begin business in March on my own account, 
(2) to take a partner or (3) to take a situation for a year or 
two to improve myself. My present thoughts are between 
a partner and being alone. Cousin M. twenty-one years old 
to-day. 

Monday, February i6th. Having heard that Joe Craven 
thought of giving up business, I went to his office to inquire 
about his place with serious intentions of taking it. i8th. 



80 THE MASTER SPINNER 

Stayed in at night, copied some hints into my book, and 
read " Hamlet." Father saw Joe. 2ist. Went round 
Joe's mill with him and my father ; everything was valued 
by Joe and given to us for our revision. Joined the Bradford 
Choral Society. 24th. Sold a pair of blue dragons, 33. 
Father and I went to Joe Craven's at night and took the 
most important step of my life (so far), which I hope and trust 
by careful attention, honesty, diligence and grace will make me 
do credit to myself and all concerned. We bought his 
stock of machinery, i.e., sixteen frames, two sets of drawing, 
and all things connected with his business at Fleece Mill ; 
the stock of wool, etc., to be taken over at a market price in 
March. 

It may be that " grace " is as light a touch as the blue 
dragons, but nobody wished him overweighted. After 
all, this was a small outfit in one lower room, costing only 
360 ; and he was very boyish. If it sobered his reflections 
unduly, that is no wonder. 

Small as it was, he had to compete with all the old, big 
firms in the trade x now, buying wool and selling yarn for 
himself ; and that buying and selling was a matter of the 
nicest discretion, like backing unknown horses. Even the 
old, big firms were sometimes bitten. The price of wool 
went up and down for reasons not to be known in time for 
certain, and that of spun yarn might not run with it con- 
veniently. You took a lot of orders, and then the price of 
wool began to soar ; or you bought a lot of cheap wool and 
spun it, and then yarn would not sell at any price. There 
was always this dilemma, which must have appeared imposing 
to a boy still selling pigeons. On the whole, he was well 
endowed with the grace of boyishness, to take his perils 
gaily and not to change ; for the remainder of his life was a 
conflict between business and other interests, not all so 
stern or so troublesome. 

But he was launched upon the career in which we have 
to follow him ; and, wonder as one may, his heart was in it. 
Swire Smith was boyish but not light-minded. He could 
never, in fact, so far let himself go as to be irresponsible. 



RIVALRIES 31 

That is a master trait of the portrait, to be kept in sight 
against habitual gaieties, gusts of sentiment and generous 
bouts of service. 

At once, indeed, he felt some stirrings of ambition. Most 
of his friends were older and lived in a finer style. His 
cousin Prince had larger prospects. Over his head there 
were always rumblings of a family storm, which did not 
threaten him, but sometimes kept him tense in a charged 
atmosphere ; mutterings against that hard, dry business 
man, the elder Prince. His father's humour turned it, and 
he himself walked happily beyond the range of thunderbolts ; 
but not carelessly. School and the fast trotters had taught 
him emulation ; that growling warned him that it might be 
strict. His rivals were using Smith machinery, as he was, 
and some of it went to France and Germany, of which 
there was talk at Bradford often. 

Under the date, Monday, March 23rd, he entered, " I 
commenced the world on my own account," and wrote this 
in a large hand. One smiles, but I am sure he thought 
that grace and honesty would help him. 



CHAPTER II 

Screwy yarn and an ideal A " penny reading " Belver First sight 
of the Alps The Albinen ladders Fantastic scene at Leukerbad 
Confidences and young romance " Flower, Fruit and Thorn Pieces " 
A barn dance. 

HAVING been prevented by business and want of 
opportunity to regularly fill up this book with 
my little incidents of daily life, I have forgotten the 
particulars of them, although they have perhaps 
been the most important of any I have entered. ... I left 
Calversyke Mill on Saturday, February 28th, under the good 
wishes of everybody there employed, and I, in return, felt 
exceedingly to leave old tried friends with whom I had spent 
the happiest hours of my life. I begun going to Bradford 
with Mr. C., and went regularly with him till he retired from 
the business (March 23rd), getting introductions to his 
connexion and catching an insight into things generally. . . . 

There has been a break of three weeks in the record. 
It is soberly resumed, but the main omission repaired would 
seem to have been a private ball " given by the gentlemen 
of Kildwick parish " and some other loyal celebrations when 
the Prince of Wales (King Edward VII) was married. With 
the help of a " most gorgeous repast at midnight," dancing 
was carried on with such spirit that he and a party of sisters 
and cousins did not reach home till 6.40 a.m., " well tired, 
but as willing as ever." 

He goes to Bradford market now, Monday and Thursday, 
and, happy as life may be, there are rubs. The workpeople 
taken over go on spinning, and he has no trouble in getting 
orders ; but, immediately, he finds " some screwy yarn, 
which set me all funny, and makes me yet fear that it will 
either be returned or I shall have to make an allowance 

32 



IDEALS OF MASTERSHIP 33 

for it." Presently there is more of this. He has had to 
complain of it bad spinning will never do ; yet I observe 
that he is not angry. " For the sake of remembrance " 
that is, in the hope that it may be forgiven and forgotten 
" I write this thought : ' I wonder if Jack will be working 
for me a year hence/ ' 

The fact is that he hopes in his own mill to be the 
universal favourite he was in the other. Why not ? That 
is a notion not to be abandoned by him. He therefore 
writes in a large hand once more to chronicle the upshot 
after six months : " Jack Hodgson gave me a fortnight's 
notice." 

The story of this Master Spinner begins at a time when 
there were personal relations between master and man 
everywhere. The very wage system was new to his trade. 
Ten years earlier my grandfather, who had a dozen hand- 
looms at Cowling, a few miles away, took a loom rent from 
the weavers, who were their own masters for better or worse ; 
and, when the wage system became inevitable with power 
looms, he would not profit by it, but declined a good 
partnership and went out of business. On other men it 
seemed to confer a new and fine responsibility ; they hoped 
to merit more respect and liking by finding work for more 
people. Swire Smith had this idea without having to 
think. Part of what he had learnt from a paternal employer, 
it fitted with his amiability. 

True, there was a social " ramp " in Keighley. Leisure, 
a little schooling and their fathers' proved capacities had 
set these young folks up in a golden world, sporting the 
time carelessly ; and he still and always made the most of 
that. But you find him going as readily to a gala as to 
a dance " given by gentlemen," and soon doing public 
service. 

This came like any other fun. He and his friends, who 
missed no diversion on winter evenings, found what were 
called " penny readings " going on at the small Mechanics' 
Institute. These were popular. Two people out of three 

3 



84 THE MASTER SPINNER 

could not read for themselves. While the opinion still 
prevailed that things were better so, this Institute, built 
thirty years back by the effort of four working men, shone 
like a good deed in a naughty world. Its candle had drawn 
Isaac Holden over the moors to lectures, and the Bronte 
girls in from Haworth on foot, four miles, to change books 
at a little library. It now espoused a novelty, which took 
these merry humanists. They loved to sing and they could 
read. 

Meeting one night at the home of our hero, and privately 
calling themselves " the Pills," they drew up a programme ; 
they offered it to the Institute committee, rehearsed in 
great spirits, and gave the third of these entertainments. 
There were three of the brothers Brigg John, Will and Ben. 
John, the future Member for Keighley, was not at the meeting, 
but they chose him chairman for a certain gravity proper 
to the enterprise ; while Will was relied upon for a dramatic 
representation of " Bardwell v. Pickwick," and Ben, aged 
eighteen, would take the piano and read " The Jackdaw of 
Rheims." There was Phil Unwin, a young fellow from 
Essex, good for " Horatius " and " The Heart of the Bruce " ; 
good also in after years for a public career at Bradford. 
There were Prince Smith, with tenor songs, and Ted Marriner, 
of the glee party. Finally, Swire must sing " The Steelclad 
Ships of England," as well as read three poems, to 
wit : Rogers's " Ginevra," Southey's " Gelert " and " The 
Retort " which may have been the jeu d' esprit of George 
Colman the younger. The glees were " Merrily goes the 
Lark," " Sleep, Gentle Lady " and " When Evening's 
Twilight " : the whole a good pennyworth. 

I remember the ill-lighted long room with plain drab 
walls and a low ceiling. That night it was packed " almost 
to suffocation," and hundreds, unable to push in, went home 
disappointed. " There was not a breath of ventilation. 
Towards ten o'clock," though it was winter, " people wiped 
and again wiped their perspiring faces. The walls were 
covered with a clammy dew that trickled down. Little 



THE POETS AND A DOG 35 

boys yawned and old folks rubbed their spectacles." But 
it was a success. Dickens drew peals of merriment, " The 
Retort " was liked amazingly, and no song went without an 
encore. He says : " If we will only stick to the text, and 
ever do our best to raise the intelligence of those around us 
without lowering our own, I think these entertainments may 
ultimately become a credit to us." 

He could say so and still be a " pill " ; but now he began 
to stay at home sometimes after work and read the poets, 
especially Shakespeare, and that was all to the good, because 
he could never become bookish. He was not, indeed, to get 
through more than a dozen novels in his life. Life itself 
had too much interest. He read poetry because he was 
full of young sentiment, not for self-improvement ; and 
what he loved in Shakespeare's comedy was the romance 
of a larger life. Whatever happened, he was as sure to 
taste that as he was to read about it, or to see Buckstone, 
Sothern and the Olympic Company when they came to 
Bradford. However, he had a keen memory for what 
enraptured him, which all beauty did ; and to the end of 
his days he forgot neither a line of any sweet passage that 
took him nor the first fine careless rapture. As the penny 
readings went on, the town and the countryside began to 
know him as an entertaining youngster who could not be 
summed up as easily as wool is sorted. 

They would have understood better that he was fond 
of dogs. Belver, who died about this time, seems to have 
been such a friend and a sportsman that he must have a 
biography. It was begun, but has been deplorably lost. 
The diary alone perpetuates a boy's regrets : 

Poor old Belver, after being with us for ten or twelve 
years and having knocked about in the world till he was 
about worn out, was quietly stopped of life. He has been 
a good servant, a faithful friend and a fine dog of his breed ; 
I have played with him hundreds of hours. It cannot be 
wondered at that everybody is sorry to lose him, my Mother, 
Polly and Mary shedding tears. Belver was to me and all 



36 THE MASTER SPINNER 

of us good and kind, unbounded in forgiveness under whatever 
usage, energetic in pluck and fearless as a lion. But he 
had grown old, blind, lame and toothless, so it is no use 
grieving. Even little Pansy whines about the house. I fear 
we may never have such an animal again, and it will be 
long before the whole town finds his equal. 

You may know why " Gelert " was chosen for a reading. 

Before anything else befel to make a citizen of Swire 
Smith, he took his first trip abroad. It was to the Alps, a 
more romantic land than poets enabled him to imagine ; 
with the help of his father, he stole three weeks for it ; that 
is to say, the old man undertook to keep an eye on the 
spinning mill in his absence. Left to himself, he would 
never have thought such a noble holiday possible. But 
a plot was hatched between less responsible young spirits, 
who won his consent to the notion of laying siege to parents. 
There was a friend in Scotland named McNeill, who wrote 
alluring letters ; there was his intimate chum, Ben, ready 
to go anywhere with him ; and there was Sam, a younger 
brother, who worked in the machine shop but should have 
been an artist. They had three weeks of liberty, while 
Prince the elder nursed a disapproval akin to wrath. To 
him it was great foolishness, and George Smith a faithless 
partner to indulge it. 

But " who would grub out his life in the same croft, 
when he has free warren of all fields between this and the 
Rhine ? " Who that ever won free warren while his heart 
was young regrets it ? This first trip to Switzerland, for 
one of the four at least, was nothing less than an explosion 
of joy and wonder. He had afterwards to spend seven 
months over an enthusiastic account of it on paper, which 
never flags. 

And yet my pen shrinks from the task of telling, even 
to myself, what I saw ; and were it not for future guidance, 
and to fulfil a wish to ink over the rough pencillings of my 
diary, I would stop at once, well knowing how the portrayal 



JOYS OF SWITZERLAND 37 

of every scene, every incident and every emotion will fail 
in my hands. 

Who first beholds those everlasting clouds, 

Those mighty hills, so shadowy, so sublime 

As rather to belong to heaven than earth, 

But instantly receives into his soul 

A sense a feeling that he loses not 

A something that informs him 'tis an hour 

Whence he may date him henceforth and for ever ? 

With such ecstacies of the poets each day's journal is 
headed, and in the beautiful script there is hardly an erasure, 
for it was written with the candour of a letter, never trying 
after all to be fine, but narrating all with uncommon spirit 
simply. Here are passages at random : 

Neuichatel. As the train approached, Mac bounded out 
of the waiting room through a sort of private office in his 
eagerness to catch it ; with the whole army of porters and 
officials after him, in as great an excitement as if he were 
about to commit suicide or overturn the whole train. We 
were immensely amused at this, and when we had got our 
seats (in a carriage to ourselves) we gave full vent to our 
overflowing feelings in most hearty laughter, shaking about 
like four jolly " pills " shut up in one box. Coats, waistcoats 
and shoes were soon off again, squandered about the com- 
partment, and Mac dancing a Highland fling round the 
water bottle. . . . 

Alpnach. We agreed with an ugly-looking fellow to take 
us to Lungern for seven francs, including " drink money." 
Our drive was a very pleasant one, through valleys bounded 
by wooded hills and through romantic little villages. Our 
driver, too, had more in him -than his mug denoted, and 
sang us Swiss songs in return for our English ones, to our 
mutual enjoyment. His horse seemed to have much of the 
camel about it, being hump-backed, and was so awfully 
thin that it reminded one of the American's, which he had 
always to have a sheet thrown over, to keep the wind from 
blowing the corn out of it. At the little town of Samen, with 
its quaint houses, the cottager weaving at her window, 
" pillow and bobbins all her little store," turned to 'smile 



38 THE MASTER SPINNER 

as we passed ; while we met lots of tourists, some on foot 
and some in conveyances, all ready with a kind word or 
a happy look. . . . 

The Brunig. Before we reached the top (on foot) we 
had our first clear view of the snowy mountains, and I shall 
not yet awhile forget the sight. We each instinctively gave 
a " Hurrah ! " Peering into the sky, with the sun full 
upon them, were the white peaks of the Eiger and Wetterhorn, 
and " how mighty and how free " they looked ! At the 
summit of the col, the beautiful valley of Hash burst upon 
us in all its magnificence. One writer says it " concentrates 
as much of what is alpine in its loveliness as any valley in 
Switzerland." We were quite content with that opinion. 
The mountains were grand, and some of them tremendously 
high ; some rising in vast precipices with cascades pouring 
down their faces, and split, riven and smashed, as it were, 
into all sorts of fantastic shapes ; some towering bare and 
sharp ; the view of the Oberland Alps carried far back 
among many sublime and snowy heights. . . . 

The Albinen ladders. Albinen is shut out above the 
valley by this colossal wall, and the only means of reaching 
it is by the wondrous ladders, fixed wherever a footing could 
be found and going up and up to the summit. Between 
some of them there is a little climbing up the rocks, where 
you cling to the bushes that eke out a tough life from the 
fissures of this dizzy crag. 

We started full of curiosity and equally alive to our 
danger, but nerved by stout hearts and grasping fervently 
two spokes at every step we took. The ladders, however, 
are extremely primitive, being roughly made from the pine- 
trees, with branches used for spokes without any further 
fastening than to be just put through the holes, and in some 
places a step is wanting ; then they are fixed in a most 
ricketty fashion, joggling from side to side and at one time 
sending a thrill of horror through my whole frame with 
the thought that I was about to topple over the abyss. We 
stopped several times to breathe and look back. 

Oh, how dreadful was the sight ! Peeping over the 
brink of a rock on which we rested, the tallest trees were 
far below, and a false step would have sent one tumbling 
down through their branches " like a shot bird." 

Above, we came upon a beautiful pasture land, but for 
some time did not find a soul in the villages, whose inhabi- 



GROTESQUE BATHING 89 

tants use these ladders daily. In one of them was a little 
chapel, a most dirty, comfortless place, and an altar decorated 
with a crucifix made of some clay or composition, but in 
such a battered state that our poor Saviour's most intimate 
friends, the priests, would not have known him had they 
seen that effigy in any other place. Gaudy toys, little bits 
of coloured glass and a few daubs of wash in faded colours 
completed the shrine. 

Returning, we met a girl making the ascent, and the 
humorous questions Mac put to her were answered with equal 
spirit ; and when we made way for her she tripped up the 
ladder with the utmost unconcern, to our astonishment. 
I will not say we looked out of curiosity, for, should any 
ladies ever see this, they would think me a rude sort of 
fellow. I can say, however, that we left the place with 
a perfect knowledge of the style, cut and material of the 
Albinen peasantry's attire, and are each qualified to swear 
that the women wear the breeches. 

Leukerbad. Awaking about six, I saw my friend Mac 
hurriedly dressing. I was about to jump up, thinking I 
had overslept myself, when he told me to lie at my ease, 
for he was going to take the baths. He had been aroused 
by a series of yells, shrieks and other insane noises, including 
laughter, now distinctly to be heard from the bathing-place. 
Imagine being steeped for an hour in warm water, dis- 
agreeable in smell, with a motley group of men and women 
suffering from all sorts of diseases, from rheumatism to 
scurvy ! 

But, when he was gone, curiosity prompted me to see 
the ludicrous figure he would cut. Not being able to speak 
any language but my own, I thought that, if I were questioned, 
I should be in a funny fix ; and then I considered that, if 
I once got in and they wished to turn me out, I should resist 
their attempts more successfully if I turned gaby. So I 
pushed open a door. 

I was no sooner seen than saluted with a volley of shouts 
and screams throughout the whole building. My word, 
there were some stentorian lungs ! I gazed in amazement 
and found every eye turned on me, scowling faces almost 
looking bowie knives at me, and I was perplexed as to what 
was the matter. An attendant rushed along the gangway 
and, speaking French like grapeshot, made all kinds of 
motions and grimaces ; but, just as I was about to skedaddle, 



40 THE MASTER SPINNER 

thinking it serious, I caught sight of Mac's face and heard 
his well-known voice telling me to take my hat off. 

I feel sure I blushed the deepest magenta. Turning 
round, I bowed my humble apologies to the company, saying 
" Pardon ! Pardon ! " the only French word I could think 
of, and which I am sure I should not have known but for 
two little circumstances, first, that it was just what I should 
have said in English, and, second, that I knew its expressive- 
ness from its use by a Frenchman in Paris when I followed 
him up the steps of the Arc de Triomphe and he accidentally 
touched my nose with the end of his cigar. I thought he 
would never have done begging my forgiveness. 

Well, on the whole they seemed to accept my humble 
acknowledgments, and I had time to look around me. How 
ever shall I describe the spectacle ? The room was dingy, 
dirty and destitute of ornament. Along the centre ran a 
railed gangway, and on my right and my left were four 
baths, each from 15 to 20 feet square. The bath in which 
my friend was parboiling in his gown tied round the neck 
contained about a dozen heads ; and, judging from the 
short black hair adorning some of them, and the small 
twinkling eyes that peeped out from other mats of hair 
hiding the faces, I suppose the owners of the heads were 
either bears or Frenchmen. One or two were grey, and 
thinly thatched. Two or three were surely women's, the 
hair being done up in little caps ; and as to others I am 
unable to this day to say whether they were women's or 
young boys'. Here they were, male and female, young 
and old, clustered together and seeming vastly content 
while, like the corks on a fisherman's net, they bobbed up 
and down steeping in the hot foul water. 

A party of ladies and gentlemen near me, huddled pretty 
close, were laughing in great glee at some amusing anecdote, 
I think. Further on there was a game of chess, the little 
board floating in the steam ; I was reminded of Gulliver's 
head as large as the biggest vessel of the Lilliputian fleet. 
Wooden trays also afloat contained pocket-handkerchiefs, 
snuff boxes, nosegays and breakfasts, and the persons break- 
fasting managed very dexterously to keep the balance of 
coffee-pots and cups without showing more than their chins 
above the water. On his tray one stout old fellow in a corner 
had fixed a newspaper, and, with spectacles bridged over 
his capacious nose, was reading as comfortably as if he 
had been alone by the fireside. 



"FLOWER, FRUIT AND THORN PIECES " 41 

I counted thirty-five bathers in all, samples of Shake- 
speare's seven ages, while a steam arose like the steam from 
a Bradford dyer's tanks. There were loud outcries to the 
servants running in and out, the conversation was vociferous, 
and some were bellowing songs like a pothouse throng. 
I never saw such a scene in all my days. 

There is a change when the diary of events at home 
resumes. Sentimental entries appear, charming in their 
sincerity and sanguine trustfulness, and above all in their 
modesty. At twenty-three he was very " susceptible." A 
young friend's wife lent him a pocket-book " to put some 
scraps in " : 

What was best, she almost overwhelmed me with con- 
fidence ; for in the book were many letters and things of a 
private nature, which were not taken out but trusted entirely 
to my honour. This is one of the few things which have 
great effect upon me. To be so treated, without a pledge 
and without experience as to whether I am worthy of it, 
is a confidence I had little expected, and I prize it in no 
ordinary manner. When I gave back the book next day 
I did whisperingly advert to it, but my expressions so choked 
me that I was obliged at once to desist, for fear of making 
an ass of myself, and, in so doing, the thanks I had intended 
to give and the gratitude I felt for such a noble token were 
lost to her to whom both were due. 

Then there is this note on the same lady : 

Caught E. at the door and walked home with her 
Such a walk ! Quiet but inexpressibly rich. The less 
thought of it the better. 

One reads of some " alliance," gravely made between 
himself, some younger friend and Ben the Mr. B. S. Brigg 
whom Keighley was to know one day for a rare grace of 
speech and conduct in public affairs, and for a culture quite 
incomprehensible. About this alliance there is the atmo- 
sphere of Richter's " Flower, Fruit and Thorn Pieces." 

After a night at Bolton Abbey, " adown whose chiselled 



42 THE MASTER SPINNER 

work the ivy had webbed its sombre mantle ; no vaulted 
roof to crown the dear old ruin, but light, soft clouds through 
which the brightest moon looked down upon us," he confesses 
to a sweet melancholy, a " healing balm." 

This I believe I may say, that if I have not yet seen the 
one who is to rule my destiny, my destiny is not to be ruled 
by woman. That I have a touch of the " romance of love " 
is true ; but although it may at times, like the butterfly, 
brush off a little dust among the fragrant lilies in passing, 
my heart will surely alight as a final resting-place on one 
sweet rose. Yet this same flower knows nothing of my 
smothered flame. . . . 

Who was the sweet rose ? No matter ! There had been 
smothered flames already. See how, before that, he had 
consoled himself when unable to accept a Harrogate party 
with ladies : 

I know my nature would be to enjoy the present, and 
never think of past or future. I should strive to the utter- 
most to make my partner also enjoy herself. Were she 
susceptible of that uncontrollable " holy flame," and I 
nourished it, even though I told her my rigid intention to 
be and remain a bachelor, I should be very, very much to 
blame ; for I should cause a sadness far too serious and 
hurtful to set against the selfish pleasure I should gain. 
People may understand each other very well, but enjoyment 
is lessened in proportion as any restraint in word, deed or 
look is practised for fear of less harmless consequences. 
Besides 

But much of this would mar the portrait. The heart 
to enjoy the present was one of his greatest gifts, never lost ; 
and all of us who own that gift must have passed through 
a phase of self -mistrust. The immortal duel of sex embarrassed 
him, but never awed him from a picnic. Here, if the moon 
would shine, was the very stuff of poetry If not, he loved 
the boyish fun. No need for his moralising ; the diary 
shows him an unselfish lover. Some one has said that the 
best people are good wives and good bachelors. I knew him 



SPORT IN A BARN 43 

a good bachelor, but I have read this candid and winsome 
revelation of a young man's heart with some wonder and a 
new respect. There was no thorn of his own planting. 

As for that " rigid intention," it is not to be taken seriously. 
He formed it when he could not see his way to marry. Things 
were not prospering. Time after time the mill stood idle, 
to his great distress ; for throughout these years the Bradford 
trade was dull and " jumpy," with not infrequent failures. 
More and more he was relying on his doughty father, while 
the bank rate rose to 10 per cent. How long could he reckon 
on that backing ? At the machine shop there was so much 
friction that a partner had been found for his brother Sam 
at Huddersfield ; the firm of William Smith and Sons was 
reduced to two incompatibles in open quarrel. What if 
his father drew out, retiring to his horses ? The moon shone 
in vain. Instead of making serious love, he sported ; or at 
holiday times he took free warren of the Lake District, of 
Wales and of Devonshire over Exmoor in a real stage 
coach "at a rattling speed sometimes, and I longed to 
have the reins." See how the sport went, at home : 

Just a fair sort of morning for Hawkcliff, but as we 
reached the wood it rained copiously ! I entreated all to 
turn into the Hollins barn, though most of them must have 
been well nigh wet through, and then went down to get 
the Steeton people, whom I reached after much slipping 
and wetting. At Hollins we found them clustering round 
the fire, drying garments and boots, while Ben and a few 
others were keeping up the life most gleefully. 

The barn served our purpose for tea. The ladies made 
fun of our plight, and I felt no fear but that some might 
take cold, which I believe, for a wonder, none did. Our 
games were rural but lively, simple but joyous ; with a 
dance now and then to the melody of Josie's whistle, or to 
a fiddle which was indeed a caution, played by an amateur 
of no pretensions and even less skill. But the rain might 
fall as it would. When twilight came the lamps were lit, 
and candles stuck against the walls ; the night drave on 
with glee and clatter. We went from " The Muffin Man," 
' The Jolly Miller," " twiggy " and blind man's buff to glees 



44 THE MASTER SPINNER 

and more dances, all carried along with the true spirit of 
the Keighley ladies. The rain abated for our walk home, 
which was most jolly, and I think each walked with the 
partner of his choice. We saw the Bradford people off by 
train. 

So much for recreations. But neither these nor business, 
with artistries to better them, could fill the lives of such 
young men as he and others were. They had patriotic 
notions too. For his part, it was not only that he wished 
well to unlettered workpeople, but that in those days, when 
there was talk of a franchise to make them citizens, and 
orators like Bright and Gladstone swayed them, politics 
were interesting. Riots enlivened the general election of 
July 1865, and he was amazed by a scene of enthusiasm that 
one day shook the little town. Isaac Holden, a champion 
of local Liberalism, came back from winning a seat at 
Knaresborough, and was escorted in triumph three miles 
to his home at Oakworth. 



CHAPTER III 

Founding a company at twenty-three Problem of a father Buckstone and 
Compton at Haworth " Out for nowght " First step in public life 
Edwin Waugh Home and the mother A Tennyson cult Politics 
Dr. Smiles as John the Baptist Business before love Italy 
Locked in the Coliseum Defiance of Income-tax Commissioners Soft 
sawder. 

AFTER two and a half years in business he was 
making plans for larger production. Trade seemed 
good again. He proposed to take another room 
and to put thirty new frames in. But when he met the 
owners to bargain they gave him six months' notice to quit, 
having resolved to sell Fleece Mill. He says that he covered 
his feelings " with artful, nonchalant smiles " ; but they 
will be imagined. 

Before he knew which way to turn the firm of William 
Smith and Sons broke up at last, his father retiring. That 
of " Prince Smith and Son " was to run the machine shop. 
He must fend for himself. There occurs, upon this, a 
remarkable passage in the diary, in which the characters 
of his father, uncles and cousins are analysed without pre- 
judice, but firmly. 

My father, just in the prime of life, might have made 
much money. I am not sorry (George Smith had acquired, 
after all, a substantial share), for he has worked hard. Still, 
if by retiring he becomes a less useful man ; if his ambition 
leads him to manure spreading, boiling licking for cows, 
and turning " practical horse breaker " and horse dealer, 
I shall deplore the dissolution as a calamity. If he will do 
the farming in a manner worthy his position, if, while he 
looks after his cows and horses, he will look higher than of 
yore for friends and companions, I shall hail the day that 

45 



46 THE MASTER SPINNER 

sees him a gentleman of means. In honesty and purity of 
purpose, doing to others as he would wish them to do to 
him, none of his brothers bears any comparison with him. 
He is not so clever in spinning frames as Prince, but a better 
informed man. 

He says nothing about his own position. But it appears 
that he presently secured a ten years' tenancy from the 
new owners of the mill, with terms for further accommodation 
if and when required. At twenty-three he had formed a 
company of these owners, of which he was a director and 
the treasurer ; he hoped to be running forty-six frames at 
the end of the fourth year. This had been done with the 
advice and help of his old master, and life runs on almost 
as if no new responsibility had been shouldered. 

Going one night with friends to see the Haymarket 
Company at Bradford, he learnt that Buckstone wished to 
visit Haworth, and offered to take him and Compton to the 
shrine. They accepted the offer. He drove them out and 
in behind one of the fast trotters, " chatting most agreeably 
all the way there," and saw " the men whose wit is ' wont 
to set the table in a roar ' awed to silence by the bedside 
in the room where Charlotte Bronte had breathed her last." 
They " spoke fervently of her life, works and character." 
He records nothing of their conversation ; but used to say 
he feared that Mr. Buckstone was extremely nervous on the 
downhill road to Keighley, and that he did not humour 
him much. On the contrary, he told his father's tale of a 
runaway on the same road : " Eh, I'd gie five pound to be 
out o' this ! " whimpered the passenger, and the man driving 
answered gruffly : " Doan't be so flush wi' thi brass, thou'll 
be out for nowght in a minute ! " 

Doubtless the actors laughed more when they were 
safely taking tea with George Smith himself, and hearing 
other stories. 

But now he had fewer nights to spare, and the diary 
is fuller, as if he were growing over-diligent. He had set 
himself a task and staked his credit on it ; namely, to pay 



FIRST PUBLIC SERVICES 47 

a rent rising from 760 to 850 a year, and to satisfy not 
only more workpeople but shareholders. True, he had 
done so on a cool and careful calculation ; but was it working 
out ? Often those nights were spent alone at the mill, 
with his account books, one light burning. Once he could 
not sleep.. 

Even now he accepted new interests. When the agri- 
cultural show came round, an event which put the town 
en fete, it was an honour to run the dog classes. In this way, 
not seeking anything for himself but doing what came to 
hand because he was willing, he became what is called a 
public man not yet dreaming of it. The little first step 
was taken unawares next winter, when he and his penny- 
reading friends, in demand as far away as Long Preston, 
learnt with entire approval that it was proposed to build 
a new Mechanics' Institute. Bravo Keighley ! And lo, 
the older men in charge of that enterprise, needing young 
blood, pitched upon him and John Clough (afterwards Sir 
John Clough) to work with one of themselves on the plans 
committee. If they really thought that he could help, so 
be it. 

With the same verve he made new acquaintances, and 
was sure to convert the best of them into friends. Few 
men can have been quicker than he to see worth of any kind 
in others. There was Edwin Waugh, the Lancashire poet, 
then 50 years of age and a homely figure. Swire Smith had 
seen him first at close quarters as a boy, at the house of an 
uncle, Mr. William Laycock, who was Waugh's friend ; he 
now went to sing at one of Waugh's readings and spent an 
evening with him. A dialect poet was despised in esoteric 
literary circles and better loved than respected by the people ; 
but the diary has this note : 

Waugh is most certainly a genius. He reads some of 
his pieces excellently too. Found him great company, 
free and lively. I should scarcely call him a cultivated 
man, but of course this proves his genius all the more real. 
We told stories and sang famously. 



48 THE MASTER SPINNER 

The friendship then founded was not only warm still 
for the poet's old age, when Waugh used to say, " It's gettin' 
t'ard neeght wi' me," but resulted in his young appraiser 
doing more than any other man in Yorkshire to assert his 
standing, as an author whose tenderness and humour were 
inferior only to those of Burns. 

After all, he had the new business well in hand. Whatever 
anxieties he might feel and they were never to leave him 
nonchalant his review of the first year's trading satisfies 
a reader. The young managing director finds that he has had 
to meet an average fall of 15 per cent, in the value of yarn. 
He was caught full-handed and sold at a great loss. But 
he bought at lower prices, put new shafting in, and profited 
by intervals. Banks failed, carrying good firms with them, 
and so he lost 360 by a bad debt and had to wait for other 
payments. It was one of the most disastrous years within 
memory. Yet, when he draws up his balance sheet, the 
result of prudent buying and energetic selling is a dividend 
.of 18 per cent, on the ordinary shares, " which the most 
sanguine considered very good. A call of the same amount 
was asked for, so that no money changed hands." 

From this time forward, he may be watched as a young 
business man established for larger fortune. 

The little household consisted now of four. Sam was 
at Huddersfield, an elder sister had married, and there was 
only one younger sister, named Hannah, often his companion 
on social occasions. She was approaching womanhood and 
shared his jolly friendships. This younger sister comes into 
the story because, in course of time, her children were to 
inherit the bulk of his possessions. She understood him 
well, and they were great " pals." Full life as he led, home 
was the warm centre of his affections, and " it is impossible," 
he notes, " to enjoy my evenings better than I do in the 
midst of our good family." His own friends, or hers, might 
be there to share the supper of parkin and milk, to laugh 
at his father's quips and stories, and to swap ideas, pleasan- 
tries and songs ; or older visitors might drop in, and then 



HOME LIFE 49 

the talk was shrewder, a humorous gossip on the town's 
doings and the Yorkshire text, " There's nought so queer 
as folk." The sweet mother found extenuations. How he 
loved her ! She had broken health, and about this time 
he had to write of her : 

My mother began to be poorly yesterday, and, dear 
soul, she had a bad night, and was this morning and all 
day sadly troubled with her old complaint, " spasms," 
obliged to stop in bed entirely. At times she suffers most 
excruciating pain, which makes us all much distressed and 
apprehensive for her. Still, her patience under it is quite 
cheering ; though she gives way sometimes to dark doubts 
and fears, her hopes of a happier future never leave her 
altogether. Surely, if ever woman in this world were 
worthy of a bright reward in the next, it is she. 

The danger passed, and she was still, in the language of 
his praise, " the comfort and pride of her family." One 
thing she could not do hand down to her children the 
simple beliefs she held. He had his moral tone and sweet 
temper from her, together with that sentimental vein which 
ran through all his friendships ; but humour kept him 
gently sceptical. It is Mr. B. S. Brigg who tells me : " She 
was a dear simple woman, deeply religious, but with, I should 
think, a very elementary education, and whose reading did 
not go beyond her Bible, Watts's hymns, Wanderings in 
Palestine and a few stray sermons and tracts." It is a 
sufficient measure of her influence that her son could never 
smile at such simplicity in others. 

Hannah shared not only the fun of these times, but the 
culture. Just then the first rage for Tennyson was at its 
height ; and, reading " Idylls of the King," these young 
folks, when they had occasion to exchange little notes or 
valentines, addressed each other by the heroic names of 
Camelot. She was Elaine, her brother Arthur. There must 
have been more than one Queen, and there may have been 
more than one Lancelot ; but Ben could take that name in 
vain without offence. 

4 



50 THE MASTER SPINNER 

Some of the little compliments remain. They were pretty. 
On a sheet of notepaper, headed with a small steel engraving 
of some resort where the sender found himself, a tiny spray 
or a leaf was fastened, and beneath it some quotation from 
a poet neatly written. " Arthur " began to make a collection 
of such choice passages, and all his life enlarged it. It 
might be published with the title, " Posies : Poetic Compli- 
ments for all Occasions." 

As for politics, there were at once all sorts of opinions 
in the circle, but no quarrels. His particular chum was 
none the less his chum because they did not agree about the 
affairs of the nation. " We read the papers eagerly," says 
Mr. Brigg, " and had long discussions on the Reform Bill 
and other matters " ; but there was not the stuff of a pro- 
fessional politician in Swire Smith. He liked to find points 
of agreement. " Ben's idea of representation is good govern- 
ment : my idea of good government is representation. Both 
the same in theory, but in practice different at present." 
Unlike most young men, he began his politics cautiously 
and advanced. The Reform League programme, manhood 
suffrage and the ballot, was too sweeping : " Ben believes 
that such a measure would ruin our country, while I, knowing 
that the country must accept a near approach to it at some 
time, deplore the boldness and, I may say, ignorance of 
those who advocate it while there is still such a want of 
intelligence and, among the lower working men, an entire 
unfitness for parliamentary power." 

They heard many orators, joined a Cavendish Club, 
and threshed out clear opinions. Early in 1867 one finds 
him writing : "I am becoming more and more ready to 
fight for my Liberal principles, anywhere and before anybody. 
My conviction strengthens, and that gives me courage. 
I only lack ability in order to be locally powerful." He was 
not yet twenty-five. 

" We know what we are, but we know not what we shall 
be." Within a month he heard, at Huddersfield, an address 
that was to lay him on another tack, not bound in shallows 



FINDS HIS LIFE-WORK 51 

or in miseries. He went there light-heartedly to stay 
with friends. Incidentally he would attend the soiree of 
the Huddersfield Mechanics' Institute, the most important 
in Yorkshire if not in England, and " pick up a wrinkle or 
two " ; but about that he was not all agog, having just 
declined the secretaryship of the Institute at home, as not 
in his line. Perhaps he might make acquaintance with 
Earl de Grey (afterwards the Marquis of Ripon), who was 
to preside, and with Sir Edward Baines, editor of the Leeds 
Mercury. It would be a pleasant evening. 

There was, however, another speaker with whom he had 
not reckoned : Dr. Samuel Smiles, who had come into fame 
with a book called " Self Help," talked about technical 
education with the appeal of a voice crying in the wilderness. 

He had pat stories of great business men to point his 
moral from, and Swire Smith remembered his own grand- 
father. What he said was new and startling. The French 
and the Germans, applying science and art to their crafts 
and manufactures, were making prodigious headway, while 
we despised those aids. He knew, it seemed, why trade 
was queer ; and he insisted that, for the old country, the 
sole hope of retaining industrial supremacy was in an artistic 
and scientific training as good as theirs. The interest of 
this overbore politics. It so came home to Swire Smith's 
business and bosom that, in a glow of patriotic purpose, he 
returned to accept the secretaryship. The new building was 
to have schools in it ; he had determined to see them 
properly equipped. 

Nothing came of this decision for the time being, and 
he could not dream that, one day, his name would be world- 
famous as the result of it. What becomes evident, as I 
follow the brave chronicle, is that he had no dream of a 
kind to allure him. He had not hitched his wagon to a 
star. He did the work before him, simply ; and now, for 
the first time, he lacked a star, a master hope if you will. 
When skies darkened there was nothing to put his faith in. 
All went wrong with his enterprises. His praise of 



52 THE MASTER SPINNER 

Switzerland came back from Chamber s's Journal with such a 
nice note that he had to think it foolish. He laid this labour 
of love aside, more mortified than he admitted and a little 
bewildered. Then, in the spring of 1867, Bismarck's ugly 
purpose grew plain, and rumour of immediate war depressed 
men heavily. War must paralyse the yarn trade. Under 
the menace our hero lived for certain months from hand to 
mouth. 

Incessant work brought no relief, and you find him at 
last exclaiming, " What a monstrous existence is mine ! 
A dreary moorland road, deep in heather and leading to a 
bog, perhaps." It is no wonder. For a too chivalrous 
reason he had denied himself the love of one of his girl 
friends with whom, about this time, an attachment deeper 
than friendship had formed ; because she had means, he 
thought that he must wait till he could offer a fortune. 
She was leaving the town, and they had a last walk together. 
The diary says : 

Our good-bye was very quiet. Each tried to press a 
volume into the final hand-clasp, and I hurried from the 
spot with a reluctance that made energy desperate. The 
calm walk home soothed me. A hundred thoughts went 
through my mind doubts, fears, hopes and storms, but in 
the end my soul no longer fought with its desires, and I 
reached home determined to submit to that " divinity which 
shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will." . . . How 
fervently I wish that all may be well with her, whatever 
comes to me ! Am I a fool, knowing the way and not 
walking in it ? I linger like a man in a thick mist. Shall 
I, sick with hope deferred, see the treasure gathered by 
another before my eyes, while I am buckling on my 
armour for life's venture ? Then, oh, then, who will be 
to blame ? Where shall I find one like her, with a soul 
to merge in mine and a heart strong enough, though she 
is tender in body, to take all my cares ? 

But stop, my brain. Let me not befool myself further. 
My future, though hopeful, is blank ; I have boundless 
prospects, but no realities. My wife shall not be married to 
be my support, and I will destroy no girl's chances by binding 
her to me as I now am. 



TO ITALY 53 

That was in December ; in May, under the strain of his 
anxieties, he was revolting. 



While in bed last night, almost resolved that this summer 
I will take a month on the Continent, come what will. The 
fact is, a real change will do me good. I am heaped to the 
crown with the responsibilities of this place (he is writing 
at night in his office). Wherever I am, whatever doing, 
the mill is present with me, and the ever-wearing thought 
of bad, bad times is positively depressing that buoyancy so 
essential to youth and my disposition. I have given a hint 
to my father, who says go, and he will try to manage. 

This wise revolt restored his balance easily, in a delightful 
and absorbing four weeks of Italian travel. His boon 
companion, Ben, went with him. Ben was twenty-one, 
very bright, sensitive and sanguine, with luminous dark 
eyes, lips that smiled even in repose, and a gentler nature 
than his own ; that is to say, with less bustle of initiative, 
a nicer manner, and a certain grace of mind that he trusted. 
The trip was made on Ben's persuasion. Ben loved art 
and all things classic and old. 

Art was one of the bonds between them. They had 
lately gone up to London on purpose to see the first public 
collection of Turner's paintings, being fired by Ruskin's 
praise of them. True, they had failed to understand them 
all ; but, at this time and for years after, Swire Smith 
amused himself by sketching in pencil or pen and ink, and 
he was quite a clever draughtsman, especially of human 
character. Another bond was poetry, which they often 
read together. Finally, Ben knew sufficient French and 
Italian to make the adventure look easy, and they had a 
hundred guineas to spend. 

There being no tunnel through the Alps then, they had 
planned to enter Italy by the Sphigen Pass from Basle, 
and to return by the St. Gothard Pass. It is certain that, 
for his part, Swire Smith would not have exchanged these 
gates of a storied land for all its dazzling treasures, though 



54 THE MASTER SPINNER 

the choice between these and those wonders might have 
been too much for him. The free joy of travel meant Nature 
and human nature : in anything else he cannot be said to 
have revelled. He left home exhausted, as I think he never 
again was till old, falling into dozes all the way to the Swiss 
border ; but the stupendous Gorge of Pfeffers awoke him, 
and next morning 

At sunrise, paradise ! The snowy peaks were bathed in 
rosy light, the dark pines below enveloped in shadow ; and 
oh, how happy and fresh everything seemed ! We opened 
both windows wide before dressing, and the cool fragrance 
of blossoming vines was wafted in to us. 

The Via Mala, with its heights and depths, excited them ; 
the sail to Como was pure bliss ; and, entering Venice after 
sundown, they found a city of dream, very magical. As for 
his fears and cares, oblivion took them. 

However, the month was not passed in dreaming, but was 
lived as busily as Pippa's day, so that in the Italian heat he 
lost five pounds of weight and Ben no less than thirteen 
pounds. They saw everything in Venice, Florence, Rome, 
Naples (with Vesuvius and Pompeii), Pisa, Genoa and Milan 
that a youthful sense of wonder could ravish, having made 
conscientious plans to that end. Italy is not to be more 
thoroughly " done " in the time. He writes with unflagging 
admiration for every triumph of human genius discovered, 
but not with anything like worship ; and, being no Romanist, 
he was repelled by certain sights. An old Italian, not content 
to see Englishmen uncovered, tried to make him kneel to 
an effigy ; whereupon there was a tussle, and he confesses 
almost to the creed of Tom Paine, " To do good is my religion." 
He and his chum were more willing to be locked overnight 
in the Coliseum, with bats and screech owls for company ; 
and the custodian, kept waiting, obliged them unexpectedly. 
Locked in they were, and had on that occasion more than 
their fill of moonlight and a romantic situation ; for, having 
seen a ferocious sentry hold up some other visitors, they 



DEFYING THE TAXES 55 

were obliged to wait till midnight for a chance to climb the 
gate and make a dash for the Corso. 

The effect of such a holiday upon a mind apt to indulge 
naive humours may be imagined. On the home journey 
one does not find him simply exclaiming at the beauty of 
Lucerne ; he makes a clear-cut comparison of that delightful 
lake with Como. Afterwards there is an unmistakably 
maturer tone in the diary, as if he had said to himself, " What 
a fuss one makes of one's own affairs ! " For he was " glad 
to find all going on well at the mill ; as well, in fact, as if 
I had been here all the time, apparently. The amount of 
yarn spun has been greater than in any month I have known." 

All the same, Bright, Gladstone and Disraeli (he would 
have put them in this order) seemed to be demigods. He 
had called in London and heard them in a full dress debate 
on reform, and they were among the wonders that minis- 
tered to his native modesty. How do men make speeches ? 
He was abashed. 

As an impressionable young man acquires the sense of 
perspective, his elders begin to feel the stuff he is made of. 
Modesty may quite undo him. If he is sound, it will merely 
sober him. He has taken his measure, but has he also 
found his level ? If not, there is " grit " in him. One 
would know that there was grit in the diarist, if only because 
he has less to say in future about his feelings, and more 
about facts ; but, to leave no doubt of it, the following 
entry completes this early portrait : 

October 29, 1867. Appealed before the Commissioners 
against Income Tax, asking for it to be taken off for this 
year. There were present Messrs. Coulthurst, Tennant and 
Lace (magistrates), with Newman, the surveyor; and they 
treated me cavalierly, telling me they were busy and could 
not enter into my affairs, and notifying the surveyor that 
their return upon me must be paid. I flatly told them I 
would not pay : whereupon the even tempers of the whole 
band were strangely ruffled, and with other unguarded 
expressions Mr. Tennant called me a " stupid ass." I 
retorted that I came there to meet gentlemen, and expected 



56 THE MASTER SPINNER 

to be treated as a gentleman. " What do you mean, sir ? " 
came from all sides with frowns that would have darkened 
the skies but I let them see that I meant what I said. 
They were much incensed [being his seniors by many years], 
but gradually cooled down, and I was told to fill up a further 
return and they would give it their serious consideration. 

So he could fight when put to it. 

The thought of being " locally powerful " was by no 
means extinguished ; it was only not aggressive, and not 
that of an egoist. A big mill caught fire one night. As 
there was no paid fire brigade Swire Smith, early on the 
scene, took charge of one of the engines ; and he records 
with much satisfaction the success of that emprise. 

So far as my authority was concerned, nothing could be 
more gratifying than the respect people paid me and the 
reliance they placed on my word. / thought it augured 
well that I have within me a power and influence for good, 
if I will only mind how I use it. 

There is nowhere a word to show anything more than 
that in his ambition. What pleasure to be obeyed and 
trusted ! What he might be able to do ! It did not turn 
his head, because he was aware of some limitations and very 
practical, with a self-conscious sense of humour. Otherwise 
the Keighley Spectator, a well-meaning little print newly 
launched by the small band of older illuminati, might have 
spoiled him. The Spectator, looking to the future, asked 
whom the town might fix its hopes upon, and admonished 
thus the neophytes : 

We should like to say to some of our young men, " Be 
less shy " ; to others, " Be less stiff " ; to others again, 
"Go on as you have so well begun." Especially would we 
say this last to Mr. Swire Smith. His open countenance, 
his frank and easy manners, and above all his utterances 
from time to time of vigorous and masterly thought, cause 
him to stand out as a young man of great promise an 
acute and independent thinker. His opening speech at the 



SOFT SAWDER 57 

entertainment given in the Mechanics' Institute on the 
loth of last month for comprehensiveness of thought, 
clearness of expression and loyalty of spirit would not 
have disgraced a second-rate speaker in the National Assembly 
at St. Stephen's. We hope Mr. Smith's success will be as 
great as his motives are pure ; and that gratification and 
gratitude may be the support of his honourable and happy 
old age. 

This almost awed him from the career of his humour. 
How was a man to keep an " open countenance ? Frank 
and easy manners ? " He pinned the cutting in his diary, 
but fervently thanked goodness that everybody knew the 
quaint old stick who had written that soft sawder. 



CHAPTER IV 

Enigma Fidus Achates A brush with workers Rival lectures At St. 
Stephen's in the tea-room A prophecy " The Wearing of the Green " 
Hard work for education Measuring a door Turner the " Incom- 
prehensible " A French Blue book Lord Houghton and the Prince 
The bank parlour. 

HE was an enigma. The patronizing mentor, wishing 
him at twenty-five an honourable and happy old age, 
mistrusted him. In the little town there was no 
morality understood but the drab morality of church and 
chapel, and Swire Smith was almost gay. He went to theatres, 
danced, sang with a troupe of " wandering minstrels " so they 
called themselves sported here, there and everywhere, and 
was even partial without serious intentions to the other sex 
All these activities were either proscribed or perilous. Was 
he " turning over a new leaf " ? The Spectator filled it up 
for him. 

Looking in at the Jardin Mabile on his way through 
Paris, he had found it " indecent but absurd." Certainly 
the Spectator would not have understood that kind of censure. 
He had looked in also at the London Alhambra, with 
sensations divided between contempt and pity. But why 
go to such places ? It was to be desired that he would now 
become diligently respectable and forget his wild oats : 
every man able to sound him from his lowest note to the 
top of his compass. Unlike Hamlet, he was happy and did 
not resent scrutinies ; but his compass was beyond easy 
sounding, he alone governed his ventages. For example, he 
taught for awhile in Sunday school to please his friend John 
Brigg ; yet on a certain Saturday morning he went to bed 
at eight o'clock, the only man quite sober after a bachelor's 



A BRUSH WITH WORKERS 59 

ball at Bradford. He might shake his head to see good 
fellows foolish, but he had enjoyed that ball "famously." 
Sometimes he called himself a hypocrite. He was, in fact, 
another sort of person. 

A Yorkshire sagacity, mindful of the main chance, rein- 
forced home morals like steel in concrete, so that, whether 
philandering or in merry company, his head was busy always. 
He was sure to see life whole. At the fire of life he might 
warm both hands and never burn his fingers. Nor would he 
be flattered, or hunt popularity. One may be satisfied of 
this, after seeing how he dealt with workpeople in a matter 
that touched him nearly. 

His friend Ben came of age, and there was to be a free 

trip to Blackpool for every one employed at the Brigg mills 

Largesse ! The town was filled with envy, and his Fleece 

Mill spinners, presuming upon the friendship, hatched a plot. 

No such thing could happen nowadays, when old customs 

have perished ; and you should understand that, as boys 

and girls, they had all gone from house to house and shop 

to shop chanting, " Pray yo' now a New Year's gift." A 

deputation begged him to let them share the treat to 

take them with him, since of course he would be going. 

Pray you now 200. The question of expense did not indeed 

arise, though it might have been embarrassing. A question 

of manners did, overlooked by their innocence ; he had 

been invited, but not to bring a crowd ; and how, if you 

please, was he supposed to suggest such a thing for their 

sakes, not for his friend's ? They pushed him to rival the 

old firm impertinently. Observe the dry firmness of his 

record : 

I declined, of course. They urged many reasons (none 
of them good ones) why I should treat them, and they said 
that doubtless / should be going, and I should think all 
the time of the regrets of all I had left behind. That was 
nothing to me, and out of place in them to say so ; however, 
I thought that a day at Blackpool was not much in my way, 
so I resolved to stay at home and then the feeling would 



60 THE MASTER SPINNER 

certainly vanish. Had I known that Ben really wanted 
me, I would have gone. We explained matters on the 
morrow, when he confessed his very great disappointment ; 
but I had viewed the invitation more as a compliment than 
anything else. 

And thereby hangs a tale of extreme mortification. 
Surely an evil star presided at Ben's birthday. There had 
been a dinner at Guard House, and see what had happened : 

After the cloth was drawn Mr. Brigg proposed " The 
Queen " ; and then oh, how I feel ashamed to say it ! 
no one rose to propose Ben's health, and it never was pro- 
posed with honours, merely drunk with the usual nods. 
It seems to me positively disgraceful that none of us could 
show the common politeness to rise ! I did not, certainly, 
feel it to be my duty, being, next to Ben, the youngest ; 
but now I am angry that I did not attempt something. 
Take note : don't do so again. Mr. Brigg expected it, 
the family expected it, and I am sure that Ben had a most 
fitting reply ready. Mr. B. brought out a bottle of wine 
which he had kept for forty years, and which at Ben's birth 
he had laid on one side expressly for this occasion. Oh, 
how angry I am with myself. 

The truth is that, as he had found at one or two weddings, 
he was a bungling speechmaker. It is one thing to know 
what should be said, another to say it : a too considerate 
head makes a faltering tongue, which is a misery. Those 
" utterances of vigorous and masterly thought " to be 
precise, there had been three, no more were affairs of 
careful preparation, memorizing and rehearsing. So, no 
doubt, are some " second-rate speeches in the National 
Assembly at St. Stephen's," but he did not know it and 
despised himself. 

Ben and he wrote a lecture each on the trip to Italy. 
Not to get in each other's way, they made two subjects of 
it respectively " Roman Ruins and Neapolitan Life " and 
" Across the Alps to Venice and Back." Ben's was a very 
decisive success ; his own satisfied everybody better than 



AT ST. STEPHEN'S 61 

himself, and brought him " woful disappointment." Com- 
bining speaking with reading, he discovered that he had 
" every gift for eloquence but words." Shameful ! To 
hesitate and then to find wrong ones ! 

I think the poets and the demigods misled him, and so 
did penny readings. He had a gift of clear thinking, and 
all the words he needed were plain ones ; so that, left to 
himself, he would have tried to be not eloquent, but lucid, 
as he was when writing up the diary. However, his idol was 
John Bright. " Outside our own circle," he says once, 
" there is no man I love so well, or for whose well-being I 
would make greater sacrifices." When he noticed that John 
Bright used many short English words, he began to prosper. 

That was much later. Meanwhile, Ben could reel off 
words like Gladstone and Disraeli, and he himself took 
politics to be the only important public service and eloquence 
the only power. Despairing, he lived through the great 
election of 1868 with his mouth shut, but sought the company 
of politicians, exchanged visits with Mr. Alfred Illingworth, 
met Forster's colleague, Mr. Miall, and heard the great man 
himself, who floundered badly, but triumphed. Next year, 
going up to town as the guest of Mr. Tom Whitworth, M.P., 
he was taken over the House of Commons, and once again 
saw Gladstone " answering Dizzy and Gathorne Hardy on 
the Irish Church like a lion." 

In the smoke-room were Mr. Bright and another gentle- 
men, reclining at their ease on a sofa, enjoying the luxury 
of a cigar. How I did appreciate my good fortune in being 
allowed so near a look at the grand old man. Some day 
I hope to see him still closer ; nay, I don't despair of shaking 
hands with him. 

The tea-room is not the sort of place I expected to see ; 
it is furnished with shelves like a library. The peculiarity 
of it is that the tea is made in the room. The kettle is boiled 
there, the tea brewed, and the bread and butter cut by the 
fireside just as in one's kitchen at home ; and the maids 
are dressed just as one's own servants are. 

I heard Robertson, M.P. for Berwick, bemoaning himself 



62 THE MASTER SPINNER 

with a capacity for eternal chatter. " Now, my dear, let 
me have some tea in an instant ! Dear me, what hard lives 
we poor beggars do lead ! It'll be after two when we get 
home to-morrow morning, and this morning it was near 
three. Deuced hard work for us all. I tell you, Cowan, 
I haven't been absent from a single division on this question." 
" Neither have I." " Well, well, after all we don't all come 
here to talk ! Fancy 658 speechmakers. When I was young 
the two front benches did it all, but nowadays the beggars 
mostly like too well to see their names in print." 

So he ran on. The members were so genial that I felt 
quite at my ease and chatted with them. 

However, he entertained no immediate wish to be one 
of them, and no thought that he ever might be. That 
avenue was closed. 

Among his older friends there was one destined naturally 
to such preferment. From the days of his apprenticeship 
the character of John Brigg, Ben's elder brother, who had 
none of his lightness but was very kind, grave, handsome, 
tall and intelligent, had kept a sort of ascendancy for him. 
John was not a wandering minstrel. He did not care much 
for picnics, or horses, or dancing, or the play, though he had 
nothing to say against these things. He seemed to look 
on with a smile with a big brother's indulgence. Swire 
saw less of him than he did of other friends, but saw him 
doing good deeds constantly. Whenever he " opened out," 
John was worth listening to. He had good-humoured, wise 
ideas about both politics and religion, ideas that were all 
moderate, and broad, and tolerant, and above all benevolent. 
If he came for a walk on Saturday afternoon, the younger 
men were gratified. Two years before that very respectful 
glimpse of great men's privacies, there had been a walk to 
Bolton, of which I find this note : 

We tea'd at the old place, and over a plenteous board 
talked mostly on employers and employed, our duties and 
responsibilities. John has a splendid heart. He thinks that 
the keystone of the world is love ; where that is wanting, 
man is neither so great nor so useful. He said that to move 



A PROPHECY 63 

among people as if our soul was the same as theirs was the 
finest and most beautiful discovery of power and sympathy 
he had yet made. On the road home I blushingly told him 
that his duty is to study politics and prepare himself for 
Parliament, as he is the man whom Keighley will one day 
elect. 

In any case, Keighley had no member ; its electors voted 
in the North West Riding of Yorkshire. This abnegation 
was none the less real because it involved a remarkably 
bold prophecy, which took thirty years in fulfilling itself. 

What was his notion of success in life ? His aim ? 

Nothing extravagant, be sure ; his aims, then and always, 
were strictly practical. Money enough to take some ease, 
a house off the Skipton Road like his uncle Prince's (but 
newer), a wife to entertain well, some honourable prestige 
in his native town, travel these were possible things, and 
these things would content him. Little Keighley was big 
enough for him : with friends about him he could never tire. 
So was his mother's house, for that matter if only home 
could last. He said this, and he meant it. All his tastes 
were homely : that was why strange scenes and contacts 
looked romantic. 

He worked, then, and put off every coveted boon but 
travel. Even in these busy years he stole ten days for a 
trip with Hannah and Sam to Ireland, and on Killarney 
Lake, in moonlight, heard boatmen sing " The Wearing of 
the Green " " in a low subdued tone which quite touched 
my sympathies." He went to the English lakes again with 
Ben, " loving our own hills better far than those who have 
never seen others," and to Chester. With the Illingworths 
he visited Sherwood Forest and their mother's home at 
Fulbeck, meeting there a fierce old uncommercial Quaker, 
who said we should soon be a province of the greedy Northern 
States, and the South ought to have won. Better than all, 
he made with Ben a pilgrimage to Shakespeare's village. 

But how he worked That business of the new 
Mechanics' Institute was proving stern. When they had 



64 THE MASTER SPINNER 

fought the plans through committee, and raised 6,000 by 
a mighty effort, the estimates required 5,000 more to be 
wrung in bad times from 20,000 people. He had to hand 
over the secretarial labours to a paid man. But, mainly 
because he had been urgent, the plans included a pioneer 
school of science and art, which was soon to set a national 
example ; and he had no thought of leaving that project 
in the lurch. The town was canvassed in districts by ten 
men carefully chosen. Already the small drawing class, 
held in the cellar of the old building, had won two national 
medallions, eight medals and a prize studentship at the 
Royal College of Art. Play was made with those successes. 
Nothing would serve, evidently, but to rouse a general 
enthusiasm, and Swire Smith was the heart of it. When 
the foundation stone was laid (by Isaac Holden, one of the 
chief donors), he made marvellous to record the speech 
of the day ; on which his comment is that " without careful 
preparation there can be no hope for me." 

True, he was but one of a gallant group his friends, 
John and Ben, John Clough and others but, in respect of 
both vision and energy, they allowed him to be primus 
inter pares. He writes at this time : 

I have scarcely a moment at nights that I let myself 
call my own. Perhaps I do more than any one ; and I 
think upon the whole I enjoy the confidence of the friends 
of the cause. I am hon. secretary with B. S. B. to the 
Building Committee, secretary of the School of Art and 
almost everything else but master ; and I have been solicited 
to become hon. secretary to the new Institute. That would 
be too much. 

The speech was a good one, doubtless ; but so was the 
crowd of townsfolk, applauding it in days before the poli- 
ticians thought of school boards. They listened to the 
young entertainer, the humorist. The words " technical " 
and " education " were not in the dialect, and might have 
been Greek ; but they got a glimmering from one of his 



PLATONIC LOVE 65 

stories, then or later. He said that a man walked out of a 
house at Haworth with his arms stretched out, into the 
narrow main street. " Hey, let me pass, don't stop me," 
he shouted and Swire Smith gave it just like a Haworth 
simpleton " I'm measurin' a door." 

They were to know him, in the end, as a man who touched 
off every topic with the same humour, and for good times 
or bad kept a hearty spirit. 

However, in these first years of service, with his head 
down, he felt sober. It seemed incredibly long ago that 
he had been a boy and played Romeo under a jolly cousin's 
window, and being twenty-six on March 4, 1868, he wrote : 
" I am getting quite an old man." Most of his friends had 
married off ; the girls and boys of those days were already 
mothers and fathers. And yet beware some of the Keighley 
ladies ! There were strait-laced ones who eyed him askance, 
it seemed. Alas for a platonic virtue ; it will never be 
understood, even in the busiest of us, by jog-trot ordinary 
people. It would seem to exceed their own. But see with 
what an honest warmth he records a visit to some of those 
friends of his boyhood, at Beverley, beyond the ken of 
foolish judgments : 

The letters had been a credit to them. I do not know 
any others who could have written such. . . . The good 
old people received us with a hearty welcome, and we were 
soon seated in comfort and happiness before a cosy fire. 
Our rooms were shown to us. Fred and Ben took two, 
one opening into the other, with ceilings so low that Fred's 
head almost touched, and I was given a charming little 
room where there was all that man could want to make 
a night's rest sweet. We all felt extremely homely, wh^ch 
the family seemed anixous that we should, and during tea 
there was no lack of conversation. 

Then we sat round the fire. I sang a little to Mrs. H.'s 
playing, and after that we formed a game of squails ; when 
Miss S. was ushered in, to the mutual pleasure of us all, 
who were heartily glad to hail her looking so well and cheerful 
after so long an interval. I think it is seven long years 

5 



66 THE MASTER SPINNER 

since Fred and I said good-bye to her seven years of change 
for us all ; but it was charming how our hearts seemed to 
beat again in unison. Yet at that time I was a careless 
apprentice, and Fred a wayward, playful lad at home, with 
a heart full of romance and an eye and a tongue that made 
conquests wherever they could single out pretty girls ; and 
now that eye is dimmer, and the tongue more used to 
command than to woo. 

It was a happy evening ; and, supper over, the old 
people bade us good-night, and round the cheerful fire 
we sat, talking over old times, and enjoying common 
sympathy and friendly confidence, till the fire died out and 
our watches had ticked long into the small hours ; and 
unwillingly we rose, and grasped each hand with fervour 
more friendly than the dull world knows much of. Our 
friends stayed up even later ; and while all in my warm 
room was dark, and my eyelids were closing in sleep, I heard 
the creak of the narrow stair that told when they, too, were 
retiring to happy rest. 

That is a characteristic passage, one of many. 

For the rest he was now seeing county society at shows, 
meeting many fresh people ; and if his principles had not 
seemed to be " in a minority amongst gentlemen," there 
might have been some loss to Keighley. Gentlemen, he and 
the male members of his circle had always ranked themselves. 
It was more critical that he had a naive admiration for any 
grand tenue, whether of dress or manners ; and, while he 
laughed at pretentiousness and preferred plainness and ease 
for himself, there was a spice of social aspiration in his 
purpose. Why not ? Noblesse oblige, as he saw in the 
Cavendishes, great landowners of the region, and practised 
for himself. Besides, he was aware of lacking social polish. 
How should he know that his own were the best of manners 
quick always to think of others, unaffected, very chivalrous, 
animated and modest ? 

Neither they, his principles nor his sense of humour 
could change. It is possible that, of titled people, none 
pleased him better than the Hon. and Rev. Yorke Savile, 
who, after preaching, told stories of the kind to tickle married 



TURNER THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE 67 

ladies, and explained that Eve could not take the measles 
because she'd Adam. 

In any case he was forming his tastes. However little 
time there was to call his own, he read The Stones of Venice 
and Modern Painters ; and, says Mr. B. S. Brigg, " when 
the Leeds Infirmary was opened with a very fine exhibition 
of art, Sir Swire and I spent every Saturday afternoon there. 
Thanks to numerous articles in the Press, we became very 
familiar with the names, dates and styles of the Old Masters, 
especially those of the Italian school. We also visited the 
Royal Academy when it opened in the new Burlington House, 
and every year afterwards we spent two or three days there, 
and could easily name all the leading artists without looking 
at the catalogue." This was not cramming and vogue- 
worship. It was a very critical pursuit, with discussions 
that made their judgments nice. The sincerity of it appears 
in a letter of Swire's to his friend and a companion in Swit- 
zerland, written in July 1868, and headed with a spirited 
comic sketch of mountaineering toil. He has been at Leeds 
again, among the water colours. 

If I only knew William's leanings in art, I would try to 
get you both into a tournament, that should lay low the 
hills and straighten the crooked paths of the Stelvio, after 
the manner of our quarrels sometimes. 

I own I was not much less puzzled with Turner than 
before, although I found some consolation in thinking that 
the incomprehensible pictures are not his greatest works 
or rather not his most valuable ones as representing Nature. 
To appreciate them a man must be an artist himself, for 
none else, I feel sure, can possibly know the technical 
difficulties he surmounted. 

Take, for instance, his view of Leeds, a painting easily 
understood, and not without merit as a representation of 
the smoky town as doubtless he saw it, and as you and I 
might see it. You would be proud to own it were it name- 
less ; but it is an early work, and I believe by connoisseurs 
considered indifferent. I am very glad that I can find 
something to adore in his " View on the Wharf e " the one 
you know well just for the same reasons, multiplied ; it 



68 THE MASTER SPINNER 

represents conflicting elements in Nature as you have seen 
them in reality, but never depicted with such marvellous 
power on canvas or paper. It is like looking into the dome 
of St. Peter's ; as we look it becomes more and more wonder- 
ful, and we can feel how easy it may be for connoisseurs to 
get enraptured by it. The same may be said of the little 
cluster of his works near it " Virginia Water " I have in 
my eye just now, and the boat basking in a flood of real 
sunlight. Genius dashed off this picture almost (to my 
mind) without physical labour ; and this and others are 
delightful if not accountable, because the end is seen. But 
just remember for an instant the view of Thun (I think it 
is), the classical one all red and yellow that Tom Whitworth's 
friend explained as Hector or some other fellow looking 
over the plains of Carthage which might mean either that 
or anything but what we can see in the natural world. 

There's where I utterly fail in Turner. If Nature is ever 
like that, then of course I err excusably, not having seen 
it so ; but, if not, how can we place it on the same level with 
" Derwentwater " and " On the Wharf e," which tell their 
own tale perfectly ? As an achievement of colouring and 
technical manipulation, I can conceive that artists may see 
poetic inspiration in it which they cannot imitate, and 
therein, I suppose, consists its " greatness " ; but, as for 
me and all his works of that style are the same I gaze 
upon it with winder as upon the works of a watch ; it 
suggests little, and so I leave it with the word " Incompre- 
hensible." 



Mark the fairness. He used his critical powers in an 
effort to understand, and arrived, not at disparagement, 
but at a knowledge of his limitations. It was clear thinking. 
If you ask how he could love poetry and the romantic and 
yet deny sublimity to sublimations, the answer must define 
that lifelong love. He saw romance in life itself, and sought 
it there. Why lay it up in fairy tales ? 

It must be evident that, from a native stock, the little 
Yorkshire town had produced men of rare calibre to serve 
her. There could be no doubt of their success. How grati- 
fying, meanwhile, to have their new building rising, before, 
at Leeds they were invited to attend a meeting " to consider 



"ALL IN THE BILL" 69 

the founding of a Yorkshire College of Science " ! Local 
pride ran high. Then it was rumoured what madness ! 
that the Government would curtail science grants. Eagerly 
they went to Huddersfield for a protest meeting, which 
saved their infant cause from being starved. They had 
made a practice of going away for Christmas ; but on 
Christmas Day of 1869 Swire Smith, having heard of a 
French Commission's translated report on the state of 
education in Germany, and procured it, began the reading 
of that document. He " found it very dry work, but stuck 
to it " for five nights ; and in January, at one of the Institute 
entertainments, he whipped up laggards with a knotty lash 
of facts. 

He had a better brief than Dr. Smiles now, and knew 
better how to plead it. The builders were exceeding estim- 
ates outrageously (they ran, with equipment, to i per head 
of the population), but so was the need, he said, and cheerfully 
held on. The whole fault may not have lain with those 
builders. 

At all events he had this story for them, in his rounds : 
" I heard of a carpenter working in a gentleman's house, 
who threw brass nails about the floor. ' My good man,' 
said the gentleman he was not a bad fellow ' do you see 
all those nails ? They'll be lost ! ' ' Nay, not they/ said 
the carpenter ; ' you'll find 'em all in the bill.' " That 
sort of story must be told with a friendly nudge. The builders 
gave good value. 

The new Institute was opened on September 30, 1870, 
by the Duke of Devonshire. The other guests of the 
Committee included Lord Houghton, Lord Frederick Caven- 
dish of unhappy memory, Mr. Edward Baines, Bishop 
Ryan and that excellent civil servant, Mr. H. Cole, C.B. ; 
the chairman of the day was Mr. Holden. For lunch " the 
swells went to Ben's and filled his house out to the door ; 
the second grades, such as Holdens, Kells, Hertzes and 
Illingworths," Bradford and Leeds visitors mostly, " came 
to our house. Before the meeting the Duke came in with 



70 THE MASTER SPINNER 

William Laycock and looked over his notes." Be sure it 
was a red-letter day. The rejoicings lasted through the 
morrow in a decorated town, and at a popular meeting the 
authors of this enterprise made speeches. 

Mr. Holden paid me a heavy compliment when he intro- 
duced me, and for many a day I was made fun of respecting 
it. He said that the more he knew of me the better he 
liked me ; that he had watched my career for some time with 
interest and with pleasure ; that I had already done great 
good for my town, and that, as I grew older, the town would 
be more and more indebted to me. I set this down, not 
that I expect this fulsome prophecy to be realized, but to 
see if I am so fortunate as to retain his good opinion. 

There is a welcome note on Lord Houghton. Mr. Holden 
had invited his young friend to meet that lively politician 
and writer at Oakworth House before the ceremony. 

" I was sitting next the Prince of Wales," said he, " the 
other day at dinner, and it appears he had heard that I was 
in favour of giving up Gibraltar to the Spaniards ; which is 
quite true, for it is no good to us it is no key to the Mediter- 
ranean, and causes endless ill-feeling. He said, ' I am aston- 
ished at you, Lord Houghton, that you should be so disloyal, 
that you should be in favour of a policy so outrageous ; 
but one thing I'll take care of, you shall never be a Minister 
of mine.' To which I replied : ' I hope, Sir, it will be a long 
time before there is any question of it.' " 

The Prince was only four months older than Swire Smith ; 
Lord Houghton over sixty. 

Two facts demand notice with respect to the new school 
and our hero's interest in education. The school broke 
some class barriers in the town, where they had been forming ; 
for its founders sent their sons to it, and so did other " gentle- 
men," to mix with the sons of tradesmen and of their own 
workpeople. Swire Smith, promoting its work with an eye 
to trade, almost abandoned the arts for science. 

This was not a conscious lapse, and did not at once 



THE OVERDRAFT 71 

happen. Science was demanded by the gainful times, 
urgently. Not liking barriers, he furthered education as a 
means of getting on in life, and in those times thought less 
of making citizens than of training workers. Let them 
mount the ladder as he was doing. As for girls, no terms 
with the old-fashioned mistress who said, " I don't object 
to my servant learning to write, but I do object to her writing 
like a lady." There was a girls' high school of sorts ; this 
had been incidentally put in order and its door widened 
the first girls' grammar school established in the country 
under the Endowed Schools' Act. 

The four years for which he had made plans at Fleece 
Mill were gone, and he was running forty-seven frames, with 
a couple of combing machines of Mr. Holden's new pattern. 
He had his company in hand. But, when a young spinner 
makes much stock, he needs a banking overdraft ; and in 
the previous August there had been some trouble about 
that, racily described : 

In the morning I paid a visit to Craven Bank as usual, 
reckless of exceeding the limit at which my account had 
been placed, and ordering drafts for over 1,000 more, 
making my overdrawal more than 9,000. After dinner, 
when I called for my drafts I did not see them in the usual 
place ; and Allan B. opened the ugly door, took me behind, 
and darkly whispered that he had been obliged to bring 
my case before the bank partners, who now desired to see 
me in the bank parlour. 

I certainly felt a little nervous at first ; but, quickly 
regaining composure, I was ready to face even greater 
difficulties than one must overcome in getting an intro- 
duction to the Pope (barring the language) or the Prime 
Minister of England. Mr. A. B. vanished to state with 
bated breath that Mr. S. S. was waiting to see them. One 
moment, and George Robinson appeared, to whom I was 
introduced. A tramp along the passage. " Mr. Alcock," 
said Mr. R. A moment more and I bowed to Mr. Birkbeck, 
jun., a meek specimen, and was courteously asked to take 
a chair ; whereupon Mr. A., turning over the leaves of a 
ponderous ledger, said in still more ponderous tones : 



72 THE MASTER SPINNER 

" Ahem ! You probably know why we have wished to see 
you." He was pleased to have the opportunity of making 
my acquaintance, etc., but drew my attention to the fact 
that the very liberal limit . . . and so on. 

Mr. R. constantly half shut his eyes that he might see 
further through me, making little coughs, waves of the 
hand and all sorts of delicate insinuations ; getting nearer 
each time as to whether ah the capital in the concern 
ah was all my own or not. Mr. B., jun., composed himself 
by rocking in his chair, and judiciously said nothing. 
A. B. stood by the door, ready to prompt or to obey. 

I was cheerful. I was not at all sorry to appear before 
them. They had acted rightly in asking me to do so, and 
I should think none the worse of them for it. Nay, I hailed 
the opportunity as a fitting one to express the gratitude I 
felt for their confidence hitherto. That was kind of them, 
and I would take care it should not be abused. Regarding 
my capital, I had got it from my father ; but he had not 
given it to me, neither had he said that he only lent it. I 
paid for it a nominal interest and under cross-questioning 
admitted that I did not pay 3 per cent. In the circumstances 
I should be glad to show them a statement of my stock and 
answer questions reasonably conceived. I fully explained my 
mode of payment, and that they only were my creditors ; 
and gave in detail the reasons of my holding a heavy stock 
in 30 sup. and lustres. 

In the midst of the conference Mr. Stansteld came in, 
and talked about the School of Art ; and I withdrew with 
a civil bow from each, entered the bank again by the front 
door, and was given my drafts by Allan. As yet I have 
mentioned the above incident to nobody, not even my father. 
Let us see what turns out of it. 

It is with a certain shock that one verifies his age on that 
well-managed interview two years under thirty. What 
came of it, by an unforeseen turn of fortune's wheel, was 
that the overdraft was reduced to unimportance. Germany 
declared war on France, and war, instead of bringing disaster 
to the worsted trade, enhanced the value of his stock 
enormously and brought a boom. 



CHAPTER V 

A discovery " Little short of a heretic " Racy letters Mr. Mundella, 
Lord Lyttelton and Mr. Hobhouse Down a tin mine To Venice 
with Ruskin A menu " T' life of a h' angel " Stricken France 
A cripple at the pool English spies in Germany " Dandy Swire " 
A local orator's confession Bachelor felicitations Mr. Morley 
Mrs. Duncan McLaren Fight for a school board. 

IF this were the story of a man who wished to make much 
money, it would have told how he began to make it 
in the Franco-German War. That boom in the woollen 
trades was unexampled. Mills were built rapidly throughout 
the Riding. Such a man, in Swire Smith's position and with 
his knowledge of combing and spinning, would have enlarged 
his plant at once and amassed a fortune. There were men 
who did so. They grew rich in a few fat years that followed 
the seven lean years in which he had learnt to run a business. 
He prospered, but not as the result of eager and special 
enterprise, and not extravagantly. 

He could not think of business apart from life, good 
business man though he was. That may be guessed ; but 
there is a circumstance to be mentioned in proof of this 
merit, nowadays uncommon. Letter-books were kept, of 
course, at the mill, in which copies were taken on damp 
tissue-paper under a press ; and in these letter-books he 
copied not only his business communications but all others 
letters on public affairs, letters to friends, and even love 
letters. Well as one knew him, the discovery of these letters 
was surprising. It admits of no less logical an explanation. 
He had no correspondence clerk, wrote everything with his 
own hand, and made no distinctions for himself between 
one kind of interest and another. All he did was sincerely 

73 



74 THE MASTER SPINNER 

personal, including the business habit of taking copies. Few 
biographers can have been so gladdened by a find. 

He was not yet a good letter-writer ; the early letters 
are all self-conscious ; that is to say, he was aware of writing 
nicely, and chose his words too much with that purpose to 
be vivid. In the private letters, signed " Arthur," for the 
most part, there are too many literary turns and tags. 
Besides, they are sententious ; it is plain that he thought a 
great deal about behaviour. Business and public work 
were to cure him of that, but meantime this is how he wrote 
to young ladies : 

How cheering it is that, amidst all the coldness and 
variableness of the world, friends can meet and know that 
time has not buried nor tarnished the friendships of the 
past 1 Truly the mutual confidence of Sunday evening, the 
frank assurance that indifference is not the ruling feeling of 
friend towards friend, is not more consoling in itself than 
encouraging to such as Ben and I that, whatever else we 
do, we need but walk through life circumspectly and we shall 
ever receive the sympathy of two warm hearts like yours 
and your sister's. 

If you did not know the best of him, it would be a 
betrayal to print such a passage. The match of it might 
be found in Charlotte Bronte's or Jane Austen's novels, 
but he would be thought a prig and a humbug none the 
less. What pains he took to leave the ladies under no mis- 
apprehension ! What a smug manner ! One is obliged to 
remember that it was thought correct, and that, as yet, 
travel and wide intercourse had done little for him. Even 
so, this letter must be set off with another of the same 
month, which proves him no Joseph Surface a letter to 
some dissenting minister who had asked him to preside over 
a religious meeting : 

DEAR SIR, Your announcement last night took me by 
surprise. I had no other idea when you left me than that 
I had refused your favour ; it was hard to do so seeing your 



BELIEFS 75 

earnestness, but I thought I had fairly said " No," and 
there was no recanting. 

Doubtless you had the impression that my refusal was 
a sort of modesty, that would not be hurt at having " great- 
ness thrust upon it." Still, let us have a fair understanding 
it is all we need to keep up the mutual confidence that has 
existed between us so long and always remember that, 
although it will never be an easy thing to say " No " to any 
request of yours, yet when I do say it I mean it. 

You know, as well as I, the delicacy of such positions 
as mine, and above all how easy it is for men not professedly 
religious to be exasperated when placed in prominence among 
professedly religious people ; they feel hypocritical there. 
Be careful how you deal with such. 

I trust Mr. M.'s lecture will be in all respects successful. 

Yours very truly, 

SWIRE SMITH. 

In these matters he thought for himself ; and to an older 
lady who had his confidence he wrote : 

One or two to whom I have talked pretty freely seem 
to think me little short of a heretic. We have now and 
then ministers staying with us, and I am on the best of 
terms with the Methodist parsons and the clergy ; yet not 
one in all can I agree with. This of course I mean in reference 
to doctrines and creeds, which I am unable to comprehend 
as ideal systems of religion. 

To me the hope of the Samaritan is as good as the 
Levite's, and, granting that the heart and life are pure, I 
do not think that God will shut out the Catholic, Unitarian, 
or, if you like, Mahommedan any more than the most 
evangelical Churchman, or the most devout follower of 
John Wesley. God expects us all to work for Him just in 
proportion to the strength and talents with which he has 
endowed us, and in my humble view we may believe what 
we like and still be in some measure accepted ; but, whatever 
we believe, I cannot conceive that we shall be accepted 
unless we work too. 

The true cure for stiltedness is change of scene and com- 
pany. That visit to Mr. Tom Whitworth in London had 
made him feel extremely staid, but how he responded to 



76 THE MASTER SPINNER 

livelier minds appears from a letter to London penned on 
returning. He found a picnic afoot. 

Go I must ; so I had to hurry to the mill, rush through 
my business like a circus acrobat, and back again just in 
time to take my seat in a long wagonette next to a young 
lady whose jet-black curls and dimpled cheeks set my poor 
heart pit-a-patting all in a minute. After a little of my 
previous training with friend Tom by the bye, the old chap 
is expecting to hear from me : I wonder how he's getting 
on ? who taught me that angels don't always get the best 
of it by fearing to tread, I made hay while the sun shone ; 
and, law ! it shone that hot I could have baked a pie in it. 
I lunched like a prince, rescued a fair lady from a fellow who 
wasn't worth a spoon, lingered in the sequestered shade, etc., 
and fanned with zephyr airs the sweet face that I would not 
even the sun should smile upon too warmly. 

By this time I guess my ambrosial nonsense makes you 
think that something strange say a moonstroke has 
come over the " old man." Well, perhaps you are right ; 
so, agreeing without a division, we'll proceed. My good 
friends, you were so kind to me that I could exhaust all my 
words and not say a tithe of what I would. In return, 
come soon to us. Tom shall have lots of surplus, glebes, 
commutation, ay, and even concurrent endowment if you 
are not so sick of the words that you would like to tear them ! 
i.e., you know that I will endow you and all your house with 
my good wishes. 

That he was no longer ingenuous, and felt older, the close 
work of recent years explains. This facetious letter makes 
a flash in the pan only. As far as love's young dream was 
concerned, that no longer obsessed him ; and he confesses 
drily, in another place, that if, by chance, some moonlight 
flirtation set him wistfully longing, the inspiration never 
survived a good breakfast. Even the memory of Italy had 
lost its glow : he could think of Venice soberly. He warns 
a friend who is going there : 

Don't form too poetical an expectation of that shrine 
of the light guitar touched by some tender swain, to bring 



MR. MUNDELLA 77 

to her balcony his fair Jessica or still fairer Portia. The 
guitar nowadays is a cracked fiddle, and the serenader 
either a mark for you to shy shells at from your window over 
the canal, or makes night hideous by howling with impunity 
in the square. It is not Othello's Venice that you see, nor 
that of the merchant princes. Some old Shylock may ask, 
" What news on the Rialto ? " but the end he seeks is to 
buy or sell old clothes, not to lend three thousand ducats. . . . 
Still, in spite of mosquitoes and a hundred drawbacks, you 
will find Venice to be very glorious. 

He was caustic with a sigh, longing to get away again. 
It had been his intention to go once a year to Italy or 
Switzerland ; and the clock tower of the new Institute, 
by his and Ben's desire, bore some resemblance to the tower 
of the Palazzo Vecchio at Florence. No press of duties 
nor any soberness could banish the lust of travel, and the 
warning to a more fortunate friend was followed by six 
large pages of hints and reminiscences. " Hang it, you 
know, I got a-going ! " 

He had to content himself with visiting a trade school 
at Bristol, said to be a model, and with another journey to 
London, in connection partly with equipment and curri- 
culum for, as to these, he freely consulted Mr. Cole, of the 
Department of Science and Art, and Mr. D. R. Fearon, of 
the Endowed Schools Commission. He was at least fortunate 
in meeting Mr. Mundella, as he found later. Introduced to 
him on the terrace of the House of Commons by his friend, 
Alfred Illingworth, he had a long talk. 

Mundella had on the previous day, in company with a 
detective, made a tour through the vilest parts of London, 
disguised as a country constable. He had had a day of it, 
and said he should never forget, for neither tongue nor pen 
could describe, the sights he had seen. He found that 
thousands and thousands of children were growing up to 
beggary and theft without ever entering a school, and without 
the contact of any elevating influence whatever. The vice, 
misery, degradation and sin which are to be found within 
a stone's throw of the House of Commons no man can imagine. 



78 THE MASTER SPINNER 

Evidently he had been getting up these facts for a speech 
in favour of compulsion, for he gave them a few evenings 
afterwards. 



It was inevitable that the Minister should find him a 
young man who took such facts to heart, for he had a way 
of listening intently. He said little, but his introducer 
had told what work he was doing. 

Another purpose of the same journey we are in July 
again was to ask the Duke of Devonshire to open the 
Institute. The two hon. secretaries went to Devonshire 
House, and he says : " A man of greater simplicity of manners 
than the Duke, I am sure I never met." Lord Lyttelton, 
seen at the Endowed Schools Commission, " looked not 
unlike a well-tanned and weather-beaten mason in his 
Sunday clothes " ; while Mr. Hobhouse seemed to have 
struggled hard with the world for a living. " The tailor 
of his own village must have made his clothes, and a life- 
time's buffeting might have threshed the energy out of 
him. His manner was very kindly." These are not re- 
spectful descriptions, but the Institute had run foul of one 
of the Commission's little schemes in its inception, and our 
Keighley men had had the best of it. The interview was 
a settling up. They went afterwards to Francatelli's for 
an 1 8s. dinner and saw fireworks at Cremorne, " finding the 
place as wonderful and doubtless as wicked as ever." 

There is the first glimmer of his national reputation in 
an entry made a few days later. Mr. Fearon was at Bolton, 
and Swire Smith spent a Sunday with him. 

In speaking of the Dresden pictures, Mr. Fearon remarked 
that I must be thankful for the opportunities I had had of 
studying German art during my stay at the Polytechnic 
School at Stuttgart. I said I had never been at Stuttgart. 
' Well," said he, " you surprise me ! From the beginning 
of our acquaintance I have had an impression that you 
were educated at Stuttgart. I told Lord Lyttelton and the 
Commissioners so ; and Lord Lyttelton said he would have 



PERILS OF A TIN MINE 79 

some conversation with you. In fact, while you were having 
your interview he motioned to me, and asked, ' Which is 
the gentleman who was educated at Stuttgart ? ' and I 
pointed you out, and he said, ' I will ask him a few questions 
presently.' Only the length of the interview prevented his 
doing so." 

What a good thing for me ! thought I. Now, all this 
has come about from the familiar way in which I have 
talked of German schools, thanks to Blue books. 

He was laid by with smallpox not long afterwards, but 
came through the illness in three weeks without a mark ; 
better still, he thought it wise to take a holiday, and broke 
away with Ben to Devonshire and Cornwall. I do not know 
if the descent of a tin mine is in these days perilous, but 
their adventure in the East Pool mine at Redruth was. 
A Mr. Nicol, to whom they had letters of introduction that 
procured it, left them at the pit mouth, " saying he wouldn't 
go down for all the world, and his wife had made him 
promise not to." Their guide was a Captain Hoskyns. 

The Captain took off his coat and waistcoat and said, 
" Now then, gentlemen, we must be preparing. You had 
better at once give me your watches and valuables, so that I 
can lock them up in the safe till we return." " But," I mur- 
mured, " there's no fear of our losing them if we have them 
with us, is there ? " at which he said, " Ah, my friend, 
the dress you are about to put on has no pockets in it." 
' Then have we to take our clothes off and put others on ? " 
" Certainly," said Hoskyns. " There's no knowing what 
sort of a place you will get into. Here is a clean suit of 
uniform for each of you " ; and he pointed to some flannel 
suits of very rough material drying before the office fire. 
I might have gone back to Redruth with Mr. Nicol, but 
now there was nothing for it but to obey, which I did with 
intense curiosity. 

I wonder which of our friends would have known us 
then. My clogs might have been made of wood entirely ; 
the leather, from constantly steeping in water, wouldn't 
yield a bit, and they pinched me fearfully. My hat answered 
better ; it was, for all that, the stiffest hat I ever saw, and 



80 THE MASTER SPINNER 

I made it fast by a piece of string tied under my chin. A 
candle each was put into our hands and three or four tied 
round our waists. The lighted one being stuck into a 
handful of clay, I was told to spit on the clay and make it 
stick to the front of my hat ; and so we began the descent. 
Not in a box down a shaft there seemed to be no 
machinery but down ladders fastened into the wet earth 
with forked sticks and hooks, the staves put in anyhow. 
Sometimes we descended a gradual slope of ladders ; some- 
times they were perpendicular or leaning inwards, most of 
them about fifteen or twenty feet long. Then perhaps we 
should walk or half creep along a narrow and low passage, 
with water dropping down profusely, and step nearly up 
to the knees in a puddle hole ; and we carried on fine argu- 
ments with the captain in all sorts of perilous places, some- 
times stopping half way down a ladder to give effect to a 
point, in situations where, had we fallen, we should have 
dropped into eternity. It is astonishing how well one can 
face danger when one doesn't see it. 

So far, no doubt, they thought it less of an adventure 
than the Albinen cliff. 

I should think we went down, down, down for nearly 
half an hour without seeing anybody ; then we came upon 
the miners at work, whom we could dimly see like the 
denizens of regions far lower, among the smoke of a blasting 
mixture. 

The spar runs in veins, which rise or fall, yielding great 
masses when least expected or breaking off abruptly ; so 
that some oi the caverns were very large, and openings took 
us into others, larger and deeper still. Sometimes we got 
in the track of the tramways, and amid the strange din we 
should hear the rumble of the trucks, which came on at a 
good speed, pushed by men and boys whose only wear was 
caps, trousers and clogs ; and our friend had to holloa out 
most lustily. In places we were lowered down deep holes 
by a windlass in a basket ; or we ascended to other caverns 
by buckets, the safe way being to put one leg in the bucket, 
take firm hold of the rope with one hand, and use the other 
arm and leg to keep you from striking against the rough sides ; 
then at the top you must mind and not get entangled with 
the rope or the machinery. We did not wonder that Nicol 
should have run away home. 



KING ARTHUR'S PALACE 81 

Amid one great heap of stones and debris, where men 
were at work with the blasting irons, groaning at each 
fearful stroke of their huge hammers as if they were ham- 
mering their very hearts out, and all but naked, their eyes 
gleaming like savages, there was a lull while our captain 
asked a question and learnt the success of the morning's 
work. 

Just then I heard a sort of suppressed report, a shout 
from men in the visible darkness, and the noise of falling 
stones. The miners for a moment looked wild. Hoskyns 
himself was plainly alarmed, and I began to think that we 
had come into danger, for we were hoisted from this horrible 
pit at once. I must confess that thoughts flashed through 
my brain which had not often entered it. There was also 
tremendous shouting ; and at one point in our retreat we 
were turned back by men hurrying along the way with 
breathless speed they were preparing for a blast, the fuse 
was lighted. 

We were taken to see the result, peering about through 
the smoke with our candles. There were two or three 
explosions while we thus lingered in this terrible part of the 
pit, and at all odds he would have one of us light a fuse, 
which I point blank refused to do ; but Ben lit it, and in a 
moment or two we saw from a distance the rocks flying 
in pieces and extinguishing the candle that had been left 
to show the scene. 

We had descended 1,160 feet by ladders, and certainly 
I did not feel able to go that distance back again by the 
same means. The cage was therefore cleared, and Ben 
and I were put inside, just able to squeeze in it was as 
shiny as a clay-tub while the captain and three others 
balanced themselves on the top and held on by the chains. 
We landed right thankful that we were allowed to see the 
face of heaven again, feeling the air intensely cold in our 
light apparel. 

They were sore for days. 

But what took them into Cornwall was the wish to see 
King Arthur's palace of Tintagel, and, for two such courtiers, 
that was a disappointment. They had to realize how much 
of " the light that never was on sea or land " had led and 
lured them. The fabled place of the Round Table is small 
and rude ; the pageantry of knightly honour melted. It 

6 



82 THE MASTER SPINNER 

was a shock, but he makes a courageous, commonplace 
reflection : 



Really very little could be made of the remains rough 
walls here and there, that may have stood the wear of time 
for a thousand years, but appear as if they had been put 
up much more recently and for a less pretentious habitation. 
Still, it is well to see Tintagel. The idylls of the poet are 
quite as precious in their teaching as the sterner facts of 
history ; and for us the good king lives in Tennyson's pages, 
and in our hearts. 

Pageants more substantial are the stuff of which his 
diaries now begin to be made up more scenes of foreign 
travel. He was to have his fill of this. There was a mill 
manager in whose hands he could leave things, when the 
holiday mood took him and opportunity served ; and it took 
him in April next year, when the new school had been started, 
and all the planning and correspondence connected with it 
finished and Keighley seemed " a dead-alive hole." All 
that needs be said about this correspondence is that it 
brought him into touch with Sir Lyon Playfair and with 
Mr. J. C. Buckmaster, father of the future Lord Chancellor. 
But, as to his journeyings abroad, he had a new interest of 
some importance ; for he could not watch the grim ability 
of German generals in France, nor meditate on educational 
Blue books, without itching to compare German schools with 
the school he had helped to found. " Let's ' mak sicar,' ' 
he said. 

So, planning a tour of the Rhine towns and Munich, 
as well as of Italy, he took two colleagues with him, his 
fidus Achates and Mr. William Town, good companions. 
They were the first non-official committee of Englishmen 
who had seen those menacing schools. 

The preliminaries of peace had been signed, but not the 
definitive Treaty. At Brussels they saw French soldiers 
returning from imprisonment, " a dirty, undisciplined lot," 
their gay uniforms besmirched and tarnished, while Cologne 



PRAISE OF VENICE 83 

was decorated for the return of their enemies. Swords, 
he foresaw, were not to be beaten into ploughshares yet 
awhile. Everywhere disfiguring forts marred his pleasure, 
and, with the best will in the world, he could not separate 
the romance of old Rheinfels and Rheinstein from jingling 
pomp. But there was something else to admire. The 
travellers, having hurried on through Heidelberg to Stuttgart, 
left the famous Polytechnic humbled. They had seen nothing 
like it, and imagined nothing ; so that they " felt disposed to 
kick each other," as paltry plan-makers. 

Munich was visited for the old master painters, Rubens, 
Holbein and Van Eyck, and they struck into the magnificence 
of the Tyrol at Salzburg. Content stole over him. 

The morning look-out from the balcony of our bedroom 
brought back the palmiest of my happy days in Switzerland, 
and made me feel that, if I saw nothing more, the sight of 
those fine hills capped with eternal snow was a full compensa- 
tion for the time, trouble and cost of our journey. Oh, 
how I love the white summits, the deep valleys, the pine 
forests, the torrents, the bare rocks, the pretty chalets, the 
gentle flowers and the cheerful peasantry ! Give me these 
and I will not ask for much more. 

It appears that they had the immensely serious purpose 
of studying Venice in the light of Ruskin's critical adoration. 
Among their luggage were the three quarto volumes (there 
was no small edition then) of his monumental book. There- 
fore, after two days at Verona, they engaged a Venetian 
gondolier for a week, and went about comparing the master's 
descriptions with what they saw, and even verifying 
measurements. " Thirty-six pages of J. R. ; a good day's 
work " that is the sort of dry record. But there is a 
delightful letter to Mr. Tom Whitworth, in which this visit 
is praised above the first. 

Now Venice (he says) is not a safe place to praise. It 
varies very much with the seasons ; some say it is horrid, 
some that Venice is perfection. As you know, excepting 



84 THE MASTER SPINNER 

the Square and some narrow passages often dark and 
generally dirty the streets are canals. The drainage is all 
turned into them. In the summer months the narrow and 
less open ones become foul, they nourish and emit anything 
but pleasant odours, heavy barges agitate the mud and turn 
it up from the bottom, mosquitoes breed, and, seeking out 
your bedroom, come down upon you like the Assyrian. 
They almost drive you to suicide. The sun makes you half 
mad, the beggars pester you to death, and the great end in 
life of the gondoliers is to cheat you. 

This is Venice as I have heard it described. All this is 
possible ; indeed, on a former visit I partially realized it. 
But such is not the Venice my friends and I have just seen. 
The winter snows and the floods of spring had cleansed the 
canals, the water was fresh and pure, and morn by morn 
the sun rose in a cloudless sky. The Grand Canal, with its 
glorious old palaces fronted with marble, rose out of the 
water like the picture of a dream. . . . The hotels are 
palaces too. I literally dwelt in marble halls, and we were 
looked after like princes. We made a daily pilgrimage in 
our own gondola, and at night, out in the open moonlight, 
our gondolier would sing (and capitally too), and we should 
sing ; other gondolas would answer, and so we spent our 
evenings. One could never exhaust the beauties of Venice, 
seen as we saw it. 

They went on to Padua and Milan in quest of " modern 
painters " ; but he had to confess himself worse baffled by 
Giotto, the first of them, than he had been by Turner, the 
last. In vain discipleship : " my misfortune is in not being 
able, of my own perception, to know the great works when 
I see them." However, he lost neither sleep nor weight 
this time. There was a way out : " I hope I have this good 
sense to accept only the criticism of men I know to have 
cultivated judgment." 

What a wonderful appetite I have had in this delightful 
country ! It is a blessing I can satisfy it fully. Table d'hote 
to-day : 

ist course A sort of ham sausage in thin slices ; some- 
thing out of a glass jar, black and floating in oil. Radishes. 
Butter. 



THE LIFE OF AN ANGEL 85 

2nd Soup, in which were small pieces, half an inch 
square, of something we could not make out. I thought it 
was sheep's heart, Ben thought paste or vegetable. Gratered 
cheese. 

3rd Soles, fricasseed. 

4th Roast beef in slices. Baked potatoes. 

5th Mincemeat of some kind, but no sweets in it. Peas 
and a kind of fungus. 

6th Asparagus and melted butter. 

7th Chops and salad. 

8th Whipped cream, rather like blancmange, but lighter 
and better. Olives with it. 

gth Cheese. 

loth Dessert : Fancy biscuits, almonds and French 
plums, grapes, apples and oranges (last night we had straw- 
berries). 

nth Coffee. 

Total result Happiness. 

There has been nothing, till now, to suggest that he cared 
for creature comforts, and it was a vital omission not to be 
excused in the portrait of a Yorkshireman. His appetite 
was quite superbly normal, and his feeling for a good bed 
resembled affection. They were part of his heartiness. But 
plain luxuries contented him as " famously " as other simple 
pleasures did. There is a ribald Yorkshire story of excess 
in such matters, which he told very well, with an ironical 
gusto that men who take a little wine for their stomachs' 
sake were apt to envy. Some one asked a poor man about 
his brother, who had had 200 left him : how was he getting 
on ? " Joe ? " said this re viler. " Our Joe's leadin' t' life 
of a h' angel \ he's eytin' an' drinkin' an damnin' an* 
swearin' fro' morn till neeght." 

At Lugano, on the way home, nightingales were singing 
in the groves and eagles wheeling in thin air. 

Coming down on the Swiss side the view was sublime, 
but the drive alarming. The diligence being piled rather 
high with luggage, and the road very uneven with accumulated 
ice and snow, we were at times positively in horror ; for 
the whole thing swung as if it would topple down the preci- 



86 THE MASTER SPINNER 

pice. As some precaution, a man was perched on the extreme 
end of the brake, where he would have as much leverage 
as possible. In the tunnels one of our horses came down 
on its haunches twice ; while the close proximity of the 
iron bars across these tunnels to the luggage and our heads 
made us look out for perils above as well as below. 

The wild flowers below the snow line were exceedingly 
beautiful. I gathered a pretty bouquet of crocuses. Two 
ladies were in the coup6 ; one had got out, and as the diligence 
stopped at the little post at Simplon the other tried to open 
the door. I ran to her assistance, handed her down ; and 
when she admired the flowers gathered by her companion, 
I instantly and politely offered mine. She graciously accepted 
them, and then an introduction was given. I had three or 
four conversations during the rest of the day, and the ladies 
were staying at the same hotel with us. They were American 
ladies travelling from Naples to Geneva. At one place where 
we stopped, forget-me-nots were growing in a field, and 
they asked a man to get them some ; I heard from the 
top what was wanted, was over in the field in an instant, 
and soon presented them with a trim bunch : for which I 
was thanked in quite a little speech at night. 

That was how he made acquaintances, which might 
ripen into friendships. 

A glimpse of stricken France was had at Metz and 
Strasburg, places to be ceded a few weeks later. This he 
sought alone, parting in the Rhone valley from his friends, 
who were going on to Geneva, Marseilles and Nice, with 
Genoa, Turin and the Mont Cenis for their home-route. 
He made for Strasburg first, and then to Metz through Nancy, 
aiming for the field of Sedan. But there was far too much 
confusion, crowding and delay on the railways ; Sedan he 
could not reach. So crowded was Nancy that, after driving 
to every hotel in an omnibus, he had to share a bedroom at 
a mean auberge for i| francs, without supper or breakfast. 
Parts of Strasburg presented such a scene as war has lately 
made familiar the Protestant church a blackened ruin, 
the library, a boast of France, destroyed : " but the Germans 
had done their best to spare the glorious Cathedral, the 
architect of which was a fellow-countryman." 



AFTER THE FRANCO-GERMAN WAR 87 

At Metz the havoc was very small. The people seem 
to be accepting their fate, and at table d'hote the same 
attention was paid to the tastes of German officers that 
used to be bestowed upon the French. The manager told 
wonderful stories of privation, but boasted that he himself 
had never had occasion to serve out horsemeat. It was, 
he said, no uncommon thing for men to fall down in the 
streets famished, and for some of them to die. 

My troubles at the railway station were neither few nor 
light. It was entirely given over to the military, and a 
big officer who could speak neither French nor English was 
the presiding genius. The waiting-rooms had been store- 
houses and were in great disorder, the buffet was a sleeping- 
room, there were no time-tables, and in spite of army organ- 
ization everything seemed to be in the wildest mess. There 
was a great crush. The clerk would not book first class, 
and everybody fought for the seconds. I made common 
cause with some American friends who had come from 
Nice, but there seemed no possibility of going beyond 
Luxemburg. 

Through Brussels he reached home very tired, and for 
a week had dreams of what he had seen, distressing or 
delightful, while, in a letter to his friends, he describes 
himself as " plunged in the very thick of work again, dis- 
gusted, hands soiled with the greasy touch of wool and 
noils, senses offended by the sight, smell and noise of all 
around." In the light of events, a reflection appended to 
his notes of this tour appears sagacious : " Our insular 
position is an element of moral weakness. Secure from 
assault by other nations, we do not study their works and 
rival them." That reflection took him back to Germany 
twelve months later. 

It was to be an eventful twelve months for a bachelor. 
For some time now he had ceased to think himself unfit to 
marry, and to talk as if he had taken vows. After being 
the best man at seven weddings, he had begun to feel a 
little anxious, saying that the harvest was passed and the 
summer ended. Or he said that whenever the pool was 
troubled some other cripple got in front of him. Something 



88 THE MASTER SPINNER 

ought to be done about it. He had thought so since the 
previous autumn, unexpectedly relieved of his sister's 
charge a duty which had seemed more important than she 
understood, perhaps. Hannah was engaged. As he had 
now some social position and a well-established business, 
it did seem time to look about ; but a cold reflection of 
that sort makes a man feel like a lotus-eater, horribly mild- 
minded, and so he remained till the wedding. 

That, as chance would have it, awoke him fairly. Hannah 
married a Bradford man in his own trade and his own circle, 
a Mr. George Lupton, known far outside that circle as the 
amateur middle-weight champion of boxing, and for some 
time as the heavy-weight champion too. At the wedding 
Ben that alter ego the trusty and irreplaceable Ben 
proposed marriage to a belle whom they had worshipped for 
years in common, and was happily accepted. Within a 
few months Ben was to be the husband of Miss Harriette 
Drewry, of Grange, and he himself left quite forlorn, out 
of countenance. 

Life is very important and absorbing, but nothing of such 
interest as this had yet happened to him. 

Life continued so. The Yorkshire Union of Mechanics' 
Institutes did Keighley the honour of meeting there, with 
eighty delegates to be lodged ; and to him fell the pleasure 
of arranging jolly parties of kindred spirits at this house 
and that, and of sharing the cost of a luncheon at Bolton 
Woods. This passed off with such e"clat that he sent a joke 
to Punch about it, disguising the occasion, of course : 
" Lady (to Railway Porter) : ' Has there been a f6te here 
to-day ? ' Porter : ' Eh, no, missis ! Ther's been a flower 
show ; but no feightin' as I knows on ! ' " Mr. Mundella 
came to distribute the school prizes, Lord Frederick Cavendish 
said the Institute was " the finest in England, or in the 
world," and somebody else referred to Keighley as "a 
centre of sweetness and light." All very gratifying. But 
his friend's happiness put noils and Keighley in their place. 

He made an effort ; there are two letters that gently 



SPIES IN GERMANY 89 

urge a suit with a young lady at Bradford. They imply 
that, on thinking over the merits of an old friend who 
remained to him, but who had certainly not been teased, 
he found her suitable. He assures her that his suit is well- 
considered. The lady's surname is unimportant, for after 
five weeks' thought she found she did not love him ; but 
I do not, in fact, know it. This affair was buried. He felt 
that he should have pressed harder while he might, but did 
not bewail himself. In a third and last letter he said, 
resolutely : 

I bow to my fate with all the fortitude and resignation 
I can command ; and now that, after such full consideration, 
you cannot conscientiously give me your love in exchange 
for mine, I would rather a thousand times live out my life 
alone, fighting the world as best I may single-handed it will 
be often wearily, but I hope bravely than in any way 
imperil the happiness of another by gaining a hand that 
cannot give heart and soul with it. 

So much for one incident. The trip to Germany now 
followed, with Zurich and Paris to round it off ; and it was 
to be no such peep behind a curtain as he had snatched at 
Stuttgart, shown over the Polytechnic there by a porter. 
His mind was made up, he meant to spy out the land. From 
the two right honourables he knew, Messrs. Forster and 
Mundella, and through the former from Earl Granville, he 
procured introductions to German experts in education. 
He found a competent interpreter, Professor L. C. Miall, 
of Leeds. And with him, equally keen to measure German 
ambition, went three other members of the Institute com- 
mittee, his friends John Brigg, John Clough, and Edward 
Marriner. 

It is needless now to say what startling things they saw 
at Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden, Chemnitz, Nuremberg, and 
Munich, not to speak of the Swiss and French schools. In 
effect, they saw Niagara. Who had dreamed in England of 
a school for 5,000 children ? What British statesman 



90 THE MASTER SPINNER 

conceived of a nation of workers technically trained from 
boyhood at unlimited expense ? 

The use to make of a packed note-book, how to rouse even 
his own people, what hope there could be for trade in ten 
years more, he did not know. But I find preserved among 
his papers the following skit, printed some months later 
and sung to the tune of " Pop Goes the Weasel " : 

A NEW SONG. 

Dandy Swire went o'er the sea, 
Right away to Germany ; 
" Sure I'm travelled now," quoth he 
And he was, was Dandy. 

Back he came ; chokeful was he 
With a brand-new bright idee. 
" Now I'll make a noise," said he : 
So he did, the Dandy. 

How he hollered up and down : 
" Let us pull the Church schools down, 
" Fix a school board in the town ! " 
And he did, did Dandy. 

Then he waved his doughty sword, 
And said he, " Now mark my word, 
" I'll be a member of the board " : 
He would like, would Dandy. 

But he's hardly big enough, 
E'en tho' backed by Bracken Clough ; 
They may spout, and pray, and puff, 
But it's no go, Dandy. 

It's not a bit of use to try 
To get your finger in the pie, 
Though the voters you would buy 
Cunning little Dandy. 

Give it up ; we don't agree ; 
Get a wife to play with thee 
Or else go live in Germanic, 
Pretty Swire, the Dandy ! 



THE SCHOOL BOARD FIGHT 91 

And thereby hangs a tale, to be told before a second 
affair of the heart is studied. For the first time he had 
joined in a public fight. Indeed, he had provoked one. 

In any dispute that touched his pocket and there were 
many such disputes, of course he took what he could get 
by peaceable means. But, against ignorance, there is 
nothing for a good man to do but take the offensive. He 
and his friends, " sadder if not wiser men," came home with 
the persuasion that, in founding a school of science and art 
at Keighley, they had whipped the horse before yoking up. 
The first thing they should have done was to see that small 
boys and girls were fit to learn art and science. The town 
had no board schools. Now, it is one thing to persuade 
sensible men to subscribe 15,000 for a proud purpose, and 
quite another to tell a mass of people who have never been 
to school that they should pay rates as a duty. These 
people had refused for fifteen years, with much agitation, 
to provide themselves with baths and washhouses. 

The situation was comic. The demigods whom he 
worshipped at St. Stephen's had left the matter of schools 
partly in their hands, much as if a child should be consulted 
about taking medicine ; and the medicine was to make the 
child wise. Three of the four physicians did their best, 
commending cheerfully a good example. But the child was 
refractory. A school board ? " We wean't hev it ! " said 
the formidable man who had never washed. " We've a local 
board, a board o' guardians an' a burial board we s'll be 
boarded to deeath ! " Some religious people hailed him as 
a champion ; their own schools might be superseded ; and 
the centre of sweetness and light dwindled to a spark, for, 
as I said earlier, there were more opponents of a board who 
signed with a cross than the whole number of those who 
polled for the new panacea. 

So the fight began with a reverse, which showed the 
odds against an enthusiast and, for the first time, tried his 
temper for public life. He was a good deal astonished by 
personal rudeness and unscrupulous tactics, which in private 



92 THE MASTER SPINNER 

life are not so shameless. He was also disappointed in the 
backing he had from good men. 

The little town in which a quite unlettered man could 
flout him, and men less ignorant met a serious plea with 
quips and gibes anonymously, was a rough training school. 
The unwashed antagonist was a simpleton. Leading a mob 
for whom he furnished sport, this huge and hump-backed 
man with the face of a Thersites broke up any public meeting 
of which he disapproved, and could only have been disposed 
of in the manner found by Achilles, for he did nothing but 
rail. He was coarse and venomous beyond the fetch of 
melodrama. An eccentric vanity inspired him to deride 
opponents indiscriminately as lick-spittles, and " Dandy- 
cock " was his sufficient epithet for the town's best citizen. 
In the end this man's glowering vanity left him to build his 
own tombstone, which keeps his memory green with a 
fantastic inscription ; but, as he clamoured for " economy," 
it did not cheapen him to be ridiculous. 

Nothing suggests a livelier picture of the Keighley of 
fifty years ago than a record of his naive oratory, made by 
Swire Smith with exact draughtsmanship and indulgent 
humour. Thersites had been away on a London deputation, 
and for once in his life was happy. He announced two 
lectures on his travels, in the manner of his despised 
betters ; and this time there was nothing but joy to 
hear him. 

Well, yo' knaw, when I gat to Lundon, we put up at a 
respectable sort of a place, t' biggest public-house 'at iver 
I were in i' mi life ; an' we hed a pound a day for expenses, 
for some said a pound a day worn't to' mich, ridin' first 
class an' all that sort o' thing. 

Well, we lived i' fine style. What, we'd salmon first 
thing in a mornin' ! I were capped wi' that. But salmon 
in a mornin's no novelty to men heigh up i' t' world. We 
hed sich strange things at table, too, as I niver saw. For 
ivery one on us, theere were a sort of a little white tablecloth 
twizzled up, wi' a bun in it. They said I mud spreead it 
ower mi knees, i' this form (he showed how, with a dirty 



OLD TALK AND NEW 93 

handkerchief), an' then if owght tummled off o' mi plate, 
this little clout 'ould catch it. 

Eh, an' we hed wine of all soarts ! some on't i' green 
glasses an' some i' blue ; an' ther' were one soart 'at frothed 
up reight ower t' glass top. I put mi nose to t' bottle neck 
once, but I smelled a deal o' divelment i' that, soa I deter- 
mined to hev nowght to do wi't. I stuck to lemonade for 
mony a day. But one day they did just persuade me to 
try a drop o' sherry in't an' it were grand an' all ; I could 
'a supped a quart at a time, but I didn't. Hauf a gill were 
as mich as I iver gat at once. As regards bacca, my word, 
ther' were some puffin' and blowin' ! I'd gi'en ower smokin' 
mony a year sin', but I puffed away wi't best on 'em. 

An' I'll tell yo' what, if yo' walked i' Lundon as yo' do 
i' Keighley, yo'd be runned ower mony a time a day. Women 
used to run perambelaters reight between mi legs ; an' 
then they abeused me as if I were to blame, an' not them. 
One woman acshally called me for a hunderd an' fifty yards ; 
I thowght she were t' impidentest piece o' hussiness I'd 
iver heared. 

Peals of laughter greeted these confessions, which no- 
wise damaged the backslider. It was afterwards that he 
triumphed on the question of schools. 

Swire Smith, who had conducted an immense newspaper 
correspondence, made speeches, written jeux d'esprit, and 
with help from Mr. Miall got out a pamphlet of " Educational 
Comparisons," was chagrined and a little nettled, but not 
daunted. He had been, of course, aware of the town's 
ignorance ; had only not expected shabby rancour. Soon 
or late there would be a board. I quote a letter written at 
this time, which shows him in excellent spirits. 

FLEECE MILLS, KEIGHLEY, 
August 12, 1873. 

DEAR ALFRED, You have not behaved well to me in 
many ways. I need not now specify my grievances in detail ; 
I may broadly state that you have not come to see me, 
although none would be more welcome, you have not written 
to me, although no one is more pleased to hear from you, 
and, worst of all, you have secured the consent of one of the 



94 THE MASTER SPINNER 

sweetest girls in this fair land of ours to help you and look 
after you through life, without even giving me so much as an 
opportunity to congratulate you. Alfred, all this is not 
handsome, and a less forgiving disposition would owe you 
a grudge for many a day. But I will forget my causes of 
grief, even the last ; and, though unbidden, I now offer to 
you my heartiest congratulations. 

It was Sam who told me, with beaming eyes, of another 
good man happy. He said : " Would you believe it, friend 
Alfred is engaged ! " " Engaged ? " said I, with a great 
thrill, and feeling more lonely-like. " Yes, and to the lady 
whose name you would at once guess." " What, Miss S. ? " 
" Right ! " said Sam ; " pretty Fanny Stratford ; " and then 
he continued : " For such a lord is Love, And Beauty such 
a mistresss of the world." Of course I sighed, for I felt 
that peg after peg was dropping out, as it were, from under 
me ; friends are truly leaving me in all directions. I said, 
" Sam, why don't you get engaged ? " He replied, " I 
don't know : why don't you ? " and the question is still 
bandied to and fro. I dare say you will tell me that you 
wish you had taken the step long ago, and I can only retort, 
" Why didn't you ? " I told you years ago what it was 
your duty to do, but, like hundreds more, you couldn't 
see it. And so I suppose you went mooning about, spooning 
this lady and that, dying for a partner and forgetting all 
the while that the sweetest of them all was at your elbow. 
You were a lucky fellow to discover this at last. 

We, i.e., Sam, David, Ben and I, who know the treasure 
you have secured, are delighted. To me, she was " a phantom 
of delight " on a certain Whitsuntide evening, when the 
servants were away and the supper took so much preparing. 
Ah, my boy, you felt, but you would not confess to, the 
soft impeachment ! And when I saw her on my next visit, 
saw her on " a nearer view, A spirit, yet a woman too," 
I told you more than once how happy she would make you. 
I remember the verses she repeated (on the morning I left) 
to your cousin and myself. 

And, while writing the above, I remembered that in 
those days I used to keep a diary ; and I have just sought 
the old book, and on Whit Sunday, May 17, 1869, I find a 
hurried description of our visit to Fulbeck, with the following 
allusion to the doings after tea : " Fanny chaffed Alfred, 
and Alfred went little errands to the kitchen for Fanny, 
and altogether I couldn't help fancying that the two were 



MR. JOHN MORLEY 95 

far from indifferent to each other ; and for my part I should 
not at all object to Alfred making the connection still closer ; 
for I've lost my faith in a pretty girl, and an amiable and 
clever girl, if Fanny Stratford would not make a capital 
wife for Alfred Burtt." 

Now, old boy, wasn't I right ? You know I was. 

Remember me very kindly to her ; you both hold a 
high place in my esteem. And with all good wishes for 
yourself, believe me, dear Alfred, yours sincerely, 

SWIRE SMITH. 

He now wrote well, you see. Such letters occur among 
serious ones addressed to Mr. Forster, Mr. Mundella and 
Mr. John Morley. Mr. Morley's article on " The Struggle 
for National Education " emboldened a defeated champion 
to send his thanks and his pamphlet, adding a denunciation 
of the outworn voluntary system, which " Mr. Gladstone at 
Hawarden can allow himself to advocate, and thus do 
incalculable harm to the decent portions of the Bill passed 
by his own Government." Mr. Morley's reply enabled him 
to do a small service, and set up relations that deepened, 
with time, to a lasting friendship. 

!i7, BROADWATER DOWN, TUNBRIDGE WELLS, 
August 23, 1873. 
MY DEAR SIR, I am extremely indebted to you for your 
letter and pamphlet. The pamphlet is full of interesting 
facts, and I am really glad to have an opportunity of studying 
them. 

My position is very clear. I do not in the least desire 
to keep the Bible out of the schools. I do desire to take 
the schools away from the clergy, because the clergy have 
shown themselves unfit for the control of so important a 
function. I want to see a class of teachers gradually 
created, with professional quality, interest in their business 
and self-respect. Then by and by must come a more 
thorough dealing with educational endowments, charities, 
etc. The waste and demoralization under this head will one 
day be found truly appalling. 

The end of our effort is to open up a road from the primary 
schools, not so much to Oxford and Cambridge as to tech- 



96 THE MASTER SPINNER 

nical colleges, like that of Newcastle. Here, I see, you are 
thoroughly of the same opinion. 

As I am writing to you, I may mention another matter. 
The Hull people have asked me to give them two lectures 
at their Philosophical Institute. I have agreed to give 
them discourses on " Robespierre " and " Danton " in 
November. If you think the Bradford or Leeds people would 
care for a repetition of them, at the Literary Institutes 
of those towns, I might perhaps find time to come round 
their way. With renewed thanks, yours very truly, 

JOHN MORLEY. 

What was more interesting, the same pamphlet forged a 
bond, or helped to forge it, between himself and Mrs. Duncan 
McLaren, the sister of his idol, John Bright. 

He met this Quaker lady at the house of Leeds friends, 
learned that she desired to place her son in the worsted 
trade, and offered hospitality to herself and her husband, 
the member for Edinburgh, for a visit to Keighley mills. 
She was a woman of remarkable mind and temper ; she 
liked him ; and the offer was to bring him on terms of intimacy 
with the Bright family. In correspondence connected with 
this visit, he spoke frankly about the recent acceptance of 
ministerial office by the " Tribune of the People," and she 
showed his letter to Mr. Bright. The passage was as follows : 

We Bradford Liberals look upon your brother's accession 
to the Ministry with great hope, not unmixed with fear and 
trembling. It were better for the future of this country 
that the Ministry should be sacrificed than that he should 
give up the principles or any of them for which he has 
during his lifetime been so much abused. He has fought 
so grandly for the people he loves so well that tens of thousands 
of his countrymen, who try to take an unbiassed view of 
public questions, have learned to reverence him as a prophet 
and a king. He seems ever to have set his eye upon justice 
often a distant mark and heeded not at all the prejudices and 
the vested interests that must be overcome to attain it. The 
official Minister has to make the most of the present, and 
sometimes a temporary benefit is achieved while wrong is more 
deeply rooted. I must not, however, run on in this manner ; 



HEAD OF THE POLL 97 

it seems " personal " ; and I hope you will excuse what I 
have said on this page. 

The fight for good schools had thrown him more than 
ever among the Radicals. He " blushed " to think the letter 
had been shown ; but he was more of a fighter than his 
genial turn allowed wary of quarrels, but certain to make 
opponents ware of him. 

He bided his time. The compromising Act of Parliament 
under which he had been thwarted gave him still a card to 
play if they, on their side, " passed." There were 1,200 
children in Keighley without school places : unless in six 
months these were in the way to be provided, he might appeal 
and a school board would be compulsory. He seemed to be 
" thrang," as the dialect says, with other matters. He spoke 
on building societies and on temperance ; he was away at 
Leeds, talking about " the higher education of girls " ; and 
he did a good deal for the British " Ass," getting other 
men to read papers when it met at Bradford. Let him fuss ! 
When, however, it came to raising money for those school 
places, the clerical party found their victory hollow. It 
seemed to have meant not so much a zeal for godliness in 
the young as a disinclination for spending ; and there had, 
in the end, to be a school board. 

Then it was that a versifier with more wit than taste 
lampooned him. But, to his great surprise and gratification, 
he was elected to the new board at the head of the poll. 



CHAPTER VI 

Affair of a North Country maid A stern judgment. 

THIS personal success came when Swire Smith was 
thirty-two years old. He had deserved it, as his 
colleagues knew ; he had from the first inspired 
them, and he had done most of the fighting in their crusade. 
But he had been thought the unpopular candidate among 
the progressives, and so he was surprised as well as gratified. 
He declined the chairmanship of the board, thinking his 
friend and senior, Mr. John Brigg, better fitted than himself 
for that position. He could wait. 

For the sake of a clear narrative, this passage of his 
life has been detached from a private experience of more 
interest, which had overlapped it : an experience also sur- 
prising to him, but in the end quite destitute of gratification. 
The story, that of a love affair, is now told for the first 
time. It was known intimately to his family and to two 
friends who were helpful, but to no one else ; and he always 
kept silence about it, except to hint on occasion to those 
nearest him that the affair had been bitter. I do not think 
the candours of biography need to be defended while they 
hurt no living person avoidably. They are vital. Neither 
the ability nor the character of my friend could be measured 
if this experience were scamped. But, although the parties 
to it are dead, he would have wished me to screen a memory, 
and this I shall do. The name and local habitation of a 
lady whom he thought to marry are not essential facts. 

Everything determined him to take a wife at last. He 
came to a decision during his best friend's honeymoon, which 
left him to reflect for more than three months, while the happy 



CHOOSING A WIFE 99 

pair wrote to him from the Continent. Their marriage at 
Grange-over-Sands had been splendid, and he best man 
once more. The bride, Miss Harriette Drewry, was a 
daughter of the Duke of Devonshire's agent at Holker ; 
Lord Frederick and Lady Louisa Cavendish assisted at the 
ceremony, and festivities lasted four days. When these 
were over, he had seen out a whole generation of marriageable 
friends while making his position ; and be it observed that 
his position meant only the means to live generously and 
fully. 

He could marry with a good conscience; his wife would 
have the fair life of ease due to her ; yet no business to which 
he had ever put his hand appeared to him so big. He had 
failed in it once ; his modesty allowed of no light confidence 
with regard to it. It was the business of a lifetime. But 
had he passed the age when instinct might have made a happy 
choice for him ? Perhaps. My own conviction is that at no 
age, not even in his teens, could Swire Smith have followed 
an instinct without shrewd consideration ; but this had more 
than once or twice approved instinctive choices, and when 
such are fortunate young couples grow together. 

Taking the romance for granted and how could be 
ignore it in so many happy unions as he had seen ? he 
looked about for a wife to share the career of his ideals and 
warm purposes. 

There was a little lady much in his thoughts. He had 
met her four years ago, on a day at Windermere, and she 
had then appealed to him : " I took," he says, " one of the 
many scratches I had received in tournaments of gallantry." 
He had seen her since from time to time, and thought no 
more of it than that ; but she had been a bridesmaid at 
Grange, much in his company. A song she had sung on that 
occasion haunted him. Her disposition seemed happy. 
She was serious, shy and gentle : not beautiful, but to be 
admired " as prudent wives choose their gowns, for qualities 
that will serve." Now and then he wrote to her. On 
March 22nd, giving an account of the homecoming, he said : 



100 THE MASTER SPINNER 

I sigh when I think of " The North Country Maid." I do 
not allude more to the one who strayed up to London than 
to the one who remained in Lancashire, and who seemed to 
think it unnecessary for me to have a copy of the song when 
I owned that I remembered it. 

In your former letter for which I cannot say how much 
I thank you you inferred that I have forgotten my cate- 
chism. I believe I never knew much of it ; but to the 
charge of " picking and stealing " I do not plead guilty. 
(He had procured a photograph.) A certain lady visiting 
at Holker did show me some of her property, and, possibly 
to save me from the sin of covetousness into which I admit 
I was falling gave it to me. If a mutual friend needs to 
be appeased, there is still one way of atonement. May I ask, 
what I believe I have not dared to ask before, that you will 
favour me with one to be my own ? I shall value it very 
highly ; while if any semblance of your humble servant be 
worth having, " whose face is not worth sunburning, and 
who never looks in the glass for love of anything he sees 
there," you may be sure it will be freely given in exchange. 

Not very serious, this, compared to their talk at Grange 
and Holker, which " had had to do with things like work, 
and duty, and purpose in life." But he said to a friend : 
" It is not often that I find young ladies who care to think 
about the great world, and how it may be made better." He 
went down into Gloucestershire to the wedding of pretty 
Fanny Stratford, and then the North Country Maid came to 
Keighley on a month's visit. 

She came at the invitation of a friend who wished well 
to both of them. She was socially a good match. Her 
father had not only a successful business, like him, but a 
country place and well-established connections. True, she 
was not clever, but what of that ? True, her people were 
Churchpeople and Tories ; but love, if once it came, should 
find no puzzle in that circumstance. Let them see more of 
each other. For Swire, it was no doubt a question of sound- 
ing her mind and heart. For her, it was even more than that ; 
she had to see the plain life he led, the town, his circle of 
friends, the things that interested him, the popularity and 



DEEP IN LOVE 101 

esteem in which she might be asked to share. Wise match- 
making. 

She came, they saw a great deal of each other, and he 
was deep in love. Towards the end he found her very kind, 
and proposed marriage. He was not accepted at once, 
though freely encouraged ; and, on the plea that she had been 
teased before, the little lady begged that, pending her answer, 
he would do nothing to provoke gossip. He himself knew 
well what teasing is, and felt sure of her. 

But, at home, she had sudden misgivings, not all of them 
definable to her own mind. The real wooing began in a 
correspondence. 

Up to a point, both sides of this correspondence are before 
me in substance. He had at last to return her letters, for 
reasons that appear abundantly ; but at the point in question 
he made a precis, as if to clear his thoughts and confirm an 
opinion. The great length of the correspondence, which 
ran for eighteen months, forbids this affair to be followed 
in detail ; it would make a book. Nor can I say to which 
of them it was the more distressing. But it is astonishing 
alike for his tenaciousness and gentle strength, and for the 
lady's vacillations. He at all events avoided the mistake 
of his first affair. All his enthusiasms whatever made 
Swire Smith slow to understand that any one esteemed by 
him might not share them at last, and there was this quality 
in his love-making. 

She had let him know that he was loved, though un- 
easily. A " little lady " she was, narrowly nurtured ; and, 
far from understanding a rich and brilliant nature, she was 
shy of it. Here are precis passages from her first three 
letters : 

I feel a sort of dream, everything seems unreal and strange. 
Oh, Swire, I dare not think of the future, all change is sad, 
or appears so. You must think me unkind and wavering, 
try and judge me leniently and think of me as little as 
possible ! . . . 

I sometimes feel inclined to ask you to forget me, but 



102 THE MASTER SPINNER 

somehow I cannot, as I do care to be sometimes in your 
thoughts. All seems so unreal and strange. How is this ? 
The past month has been a pleasant time, but I cannot trust 
for the future. Are you wondering at me and thinking me 
foolish and in fact being almost angry ? I fear so ! . . . 

Our talk (with a sister) seemed never-ending, often about 
you, and I think if you could have seen our miserable faces 

you would have said with , " Oh, I do wish you had 

never gone to Keighley ! " Oh, dear, things don't seem right. 
Yes, I should like a talk once more, but I don't see where 
and when I can meet you. Do you know, Swire, I sometimes 
think I have no heart, at least not capable of the kind of love 
you want. My present dear ones seem so enough for me, 
and if stronger and warmer feelings come now and then, 
as they do, they seem always shaded by sorrow ; in fact my 
whole nature seems to be completely upside down. Now 
don't laugh at this funny expression, it is quite what I mean. 

To the first two of these letters he had replied with tender 
and brave assurances. The third daunted him. This was 
his answer to it : 

I have time for a line before going to Bradford, but 
my heart is so heavy that I know not what to say. To 
think that " when warmer feelings do come now and again 
they seem always shaded by sorrow " makes me sad beyond 
expression. The thought comes over me that I may be 
asking you to do something that is not right, something against 
your own conscience ; that I want you against your will 
to take some cross. 

If there be some misgiving, my dear , tell me what it 

is, that I may have a chance at least of explaining, if not of 
removing it. If my wish be a selfish one, I am willing to 
forgo all rather than cloud the future of another ; for I 
cannot in conscience ask from you sacrifices which I am not 
myself prepared to make. That I love you dearly, I have 
said over and over again ; and if I was mistaken when I came 
to the conclusion that you loved me, then my judgment was 
at fault perhaps blinded by my love. 

But the feeling that I was right has not left me, and I 
have thought you were willing that it should not do so. Then 
why all this gloom and sadness ? Cannot you trust me as I 
trust you ? 



A FALSE POSITION 103 

After some fencing she told him that their religious views 
were different, and drew from him a nobly tolerant declara- 
tion in the sense of that avowal on the subject which you 
have read. She could find no fault with this. But almost 
all the other misgivings she confessed related, not to him or 
to the future he offered, but to herself ; her plea being that 
she was " not worthy " of his love, that she ought not to 
have shown so much of her feelings but " could not help 
it," a plea to which, in every form it took, he could only 
oppose the most eloquent persuasions. 

My heart knows no peace ; from morn till night, from 
night till morn there is a great weight upon it, that no one 
but you can remove. When I had no letter this morning 
I felt unutterably sad. I move about hiding my feelings, 
declining social invitations of all sorts, keeping out of every- 
body's way for my friends are beginning to talk about me. 
So far I have been able to keep all in the dark, but daily I 
expect that I shall have the truth to face, and then, dear 
, what am I to say ? 

Mrs. called last night, and grew very serious. She 

asked if she was to congratulate me ; for, if not, she feared 
she would have to change her high opinion of me, being sure 
that I had given you to understand by my conduct that I 
was in love with you. Why, from all she had seen and heard, 
we had conducted ourselves like an engaged couple ! You had 
certainly believed me in earnest, and if I did not carry out 
the expectation you had formed it would not be honourable 
of me ; you could not but look upon my conduct as most 
cruel, and your friends would regard me as a deceiver. She 
begged me, if I valued your peace and my own character, that 
I would not act such a part, and she was sure we should be 
very happy. She was quite pale when she finished her 
sweeping condemnation, and I had to listen without being 
able to say a word. 

As other friends learn more than they yet know, they will 
say more, and if I am still to be in doubt my position will 

be most painful. Do not think, dear , that I wish 

to hurry your important decision ; still I ask, for your 
sake as well as mine, that if you can only say " Yes," 
you will say it ; and I believe you will never have cause 
to repent. . . . 



104 THE MASTER SPINNER 

Again : 

You say you would want " much love " to content you, 
but blessed hope 1 you would also be able to " give all or 
none." Much love, would you desire ? I will give you 
much I I cannot say how much, for " they are beggars 
who can count their worth " ; but, in exchange for all yours, 
methinks my bounty would be "as boundless as the sea, my 
love as deep," for from such infinity I should have more by 
giving. Do not think that love is a light matter with me. I 
have been training my heart all these years, trying to keep 
it pure, that I could entrust it to one who would prize it and 
keep it safe, as I know that you can keep it. Surely after 
this confession, and with your knowledge of me, you will 
see that I am not led to you by idle fancy. 

Your letter has given me some relief, but oh ! I wish 
that we could talk together. If I cannot claim your love 
I shall almost wish I never had been born. However, I will 
not look on the dark side. I have boundless faith in your 
goodness and in your pity. 

He insisted on seeing her again, and did so. She received 
him at home. The match, he knew, was favoured by her 
father, and after that interview he had high hopes once more. 
But the next letter described that, too, as " unreal," and 
complained that it had been too short to let her say what 
she meant. 

He then asked leave to write to her father for permission 
to conduct the wooing openly, and the request brought a 
climax. She found courage with abject regrets to dis- 
miss him ! 

I know you hoped and felt my affection was great. So 
it is. I don't care the least bit in the world for any one else, 
but I think my feelings have no deep root, and am sure they 
will not last. Your doubt must be ended, Swire, and then I 
trust life will be brighter and better for you. I ought to 
have answered you sooner, but dreaded being cold to you, 
that each day I shrank from my task, though feeling sure 
it must be done. 

It is no part of my task to judge this lady, or even to 



JILTED AND REASSURED 105 

analyse the character she had revealed in two months' 
letters. This was his reply : 

MY DEAR , I would rather that you should not feel 

or know how great has been my weight of grief since receiv- 
ing your letter of seven days ago, in which, too clearly, I read 
my doom. 

The blow has been all the greater to me because I was 
blind enough not to expect it. My love has been drawn from 

me, and now is cast away. I pray, dear , that such a 

fate may never be yours. I thank you from my heart for all 
your good wishes ; they will be very precious to me, for I 
believe them to be sincere. I cannot blot out the remem- 
brance of the past, and the sorrowful future I will face as 
well as I can. I had created bright visions for you as well as 
myself. 

I have your letters sealed and directed, but I hesitate ere 
I send them. I do not wish to take the initiative in any 
step that will further sever us. I am still ready to forget, 
and will indeed willingly 

" Clothe in flowers 
The grave in which the past is laid." 

But the keys of fate are in your hands, not mine. 

For the present, Farewell ! And believe me, as ever, 

Yours very sincerely, 

SWIRE SMITH. 

And then she accepted him on better terms, at least. 

There are only now his own letters to show what she 
said in hers. As to those terms, he was, however, too much in 
love to mistrust them ; and, what is more, he believed in 
love with all his mind and heart. He had faith in its beauty 
and " lordship." Above all, he had faith in himself, and in 
his power of loving ; so that, although she had no such 
faith, but only gave him free leave to prove his faith and 
hoped to share it at last, he thought himself happy. 

She had lost nothing in his esteem by her hesitations. 
They were conscientious. She had called herself passionate, 
deploring what he found most hopeful ; and he only saw her 



106 THE MASTER SPINNER 

virtue in that candour and self-blame, both beautiful though 
she made him suffer. And she lost no esteem by hinting, 
once more, that she did not share some of his ideals. He 
wrote with his courage restored : 



MY DEAR , I have just returned home after being 

absent since Fiiday morning, and have only time for a few 
words before the post closes. I did not receive your letter 
until noon to-day at Bradford and you may be sure I 
have been in good spirits ever since. Ben dined with me, 
and I felt it my duty to tell him that the sun was again 
shining ; nay, I could not resist the temptation of giving 
him an opportunity to rejoice with me. 

My dear , you are very good ; I cannot tell how 

much I love you, but I hope, as years grow upon us and cares 
beset our path, that I can show a love that will be sustaining, 
however great may be your storms and trials. I hope to be 
able, as dear ones fall off one by one, to fill up by my increased 
affection the blanks that are made. 

How black the future has been to me during the past 
fortnight, and from time to time during months previous, 
you shall never know. The thundercloud has been swept 
away, and our love will be all the fresher and purer for the 
darkness it has gone through and the damping it has 
received. I care for nothing now. You love me, and that 
is sufficient for me through all ills. My love will, I doubt 
not, gain strength every day, and in the blessed calm I now 
feel will have time to concentrate and dovetail with and 
surround yours. Are we to be kept apart by mere differences 
of opinion as to the best way of attaining objects dear to 
both ? Let us feel that, in whatever differences we may 
hold, there can be nothing that shall stand in the way of our 
constant love to each other. 

Never turn back ; never again yield for a moment to 
the doubts that have perplexed you and made me so miserable. 
I am willing that your love should come by degrees ; I will 
give it time to grow ; I will prune and dig about it, and watch 
over and cherish it ; and you will see that, when next we 
meet, the bud of love you so generously send me will prove 
a beauteous flower. 

I cannot speak enough of my joy to welcome you back 
again. Oh, my dear, dear , at last you have come ; 



PLIGHTED 107 

never leave me again. I have no time for more. Good- 
bye ! You have all my love, and may have it for ever. 

The terms were that he should, as proposed, obtain her 
father's sanction to his addresses and visit her " as a friend." 
Perhaps in time, she said, she could give him as much as he 
offered to her. Certainly she " could not bear to lose his 
love." A month later she had engaged herself to marry 
him, and he was receiving the warm congratulations of 
many friends. 

I tell the story quickly. But it is important to say that 
they had frankly reckoned with differences. 

He had begged her to make notes as they occurred to 
her. " I am not in the least afraid," he said, " of being 
catechized about the views I hold, for I don't think I have a 
bit of selfishness about me, and I think I can give good reasons 
for the faith that is in me." They would love each other 
none the less for understanding each other. As to politics, 
she would find him ready to fall into her ways the moment 
she showed them to be the best for our dear country. " You 
know that I love my country ; you will find me a tremendous 
worker for two things, your' happiness and the good of others ; 
and I shall labour for my country until she is second to none 
in everything that makes a nation great." It was the 
means, it could not be the end, as to which they differed. 
I do not know what discussions there were, or how far they 
went ; but she knew how big his heart was, and it appears 
that her letters grew " trustful, warm and happy." Well 
they might. 

It might be hard to match, from all the literature of vain 
love affairs, the warm, brave tenderness and comfortable 
strength of this wooing. Knowing how vain it was, and 
having known the sober and gallant man for whom it proved 
a snare, I cannot follow it without emotion. 

And now I have all your heart. Never fear, , my 

love, I will guard it as a priceless treasure ; it shall double 
my joys and divide my cares, shielded so that neither the 



108 THE MASTER SPINNER 

winds of heaven nor the pitiless blasts of the world shall 
visit it too roughly. And pray do not be afraid that you 
will show too much love ; I shall not look coldly on your 
maiden passion. Show all your love, as Juliet did, and like 
her " prove more true than those who have more seeming 

to be strange." Besides, , you have had your season of 

coyness when there were alternations between sunshine and 
cloud ; now the flowers are opening, and as Nature's summer 
ends ours is beginning. . . . 

On Tuesday night I told my father and mother where I 
had been for the Sunday, and what was going on. They 
were both very much pleased, and my mother favoured 
me with a Bible homily. She is sure you will make me a 
good wife, and that is her chief solace in losing me. At the 
same time, when she thinks of you and your connections, 
she is afraid that you will not take kindly to plain, simple 

folk like her and my father. You may be sure, dear , 

that I tried to set her mind at rest on that score. . . . 

I thank you so much for yours of this morning. It is 
very pleasant to be thought of and trusted and loved, even 
amid all the worries of a business life ; indeed it is a great 
solace to me to feel that every good step I make is for your 
weal also. How much more one may get out of life than by 
taking the selfish view of it ! For my part, I believe that I 

shall do everything better with my to share the credit 

of it. ... 

Such passages, unforced, occur happily among the news 
he sends from Keighley, or his anticipations of getting away 
to see her again, or mention of friends with whom he is sure 
she will be happy. 

What was she like ? One wonders. There is one frank 
description of her, but it was written for that confirmed 
bachelor his brother Sam, and written to guard her against 
great expectations. 

Somebody asked me yesterday what sort of a girl she 
was, and I was compelled to say that probably she would 
not appear brilliant in the estimation of the world. Rather a 
weak-minded girl religious, a teetotaller, doesn't wear or 
care for jewellery, is very fond of home, music, pictures 
and natural scenery ; takes a pride in being domesticated 



DISILLUSIONED 109 

and likes to do good. I had to say that I did not consider 
her by any means pretty ; but then, you know, I don't want 
a wife who will be constantly putting me in the shade ! and 
although beauty is " such a mistress of the world," it quickly 
fades if there be not a heart to match. At any rate, Sam, 
I have seen many beauties and have moved and been moved 
by them ; but none has brought me to her feet like my 
little . 



The hopeful months went by, and he spent a merry 
Christmas and a bright Easter among her people, and had 
the news of his school board victory to send to her how he 
was abashed by a frenzied crowd that laid hands on him, and 
escaped while a band played " See the Conquering Hero 
Comes." Then she came to stay with his sister Hannah, and 
to make acquaintance with his home. For he wished to 
consult her about that villa off the Skipton Road, and to 
fix the date of their marriage. 

His choice of a wife was approved heartily. With so 
much Puritan feeling in the little town, it was almost suffi- 
cient not to find her gay. Certainly no one, of all who had 
failed to understand his own propitious gaiety, mistrusted 
her on that score. Yet she was no sooner at home again 
from this visit, which had been disconcerting, than he had to 
recognize, at last, the rift within the lute, silencing love's 
music. 

He had been pitiably slow to think it serious. There had 
not been a warm response to his news of local checks, or of 
a great personal triumph : for this he had made sanguine 
allowances. She had avowed her " fright " in accepting 
him, and resisted the engagement because it gave her a 
" sense of being fast " : he had overcome these trepidations 
gently. But she had also, time after time, put off the question 
of marriage ; and now, in the first interview they had at 
home after her visit, she found a desperate courage to say 
things that touched him with consternation. She " was 
not strong," and " she feared the Keighley winters." In 
any case, if there was not " perfect unity " marriage might 



110 THE MASTER SPINNER 

be " a dreadful fatality," and it should be " avoided as long 
as possible." Without discussing his ideals for it appears 
that, after all, the lady could only feel a fixed prejudice she 
confessed that they made her unhappy, whether in religion, 
politics or social life. 

The painful conversation was interrupted. He spent a 
sleepless night ; and, after leaving her, he wrote a long, 
clear, infinitely tender letter, which offered after all to 
release her. 

What this cost him I do not need to say. The affair 
was worse than Mercutio's scratch ; and, on reflection, he 
saw too clearly that he ought not to have been twice wounded. 
For even now, instead of coming to a decision on her side, 
the lady continued, as before, to protest her love and in the 
same breath to dwell upon those crucial differences. He 
saw her once more, but to no purpose. 

It became a contest, profoundly painful, between his own 
love and his honesty ; but, this being concerned, he was like 
a rock. 

Compelled at last to know her prejudice of birth and 
training for what it was an insuperable barrier and to 
review all that had happened in the light of it, he had still to 
show her kindly why such love as theirs was hopeless ; and 
he did so in a series of letters that became him very nobly, 
and serve, I think, better than anything else in his life to 
show the strength and sweetness of his nature. 

But in one of them, the longest and sternest, he had to 
sum up ; and this I give because it tells the whole sad story 
of disillusionment : 

KEIGHLEY, 

June 13, 1875. 

MY DEAR , Your long letter of yesterday, so full of 

kindness and good feeling, dwells so much on the one side of 
our experiences to the (almost) exclusion of the other, that 
I am once more, as it were, compelled to justify myself in 
the course I have felt it my duty to take. For, when you 
say that you loved me with all your heart, and that your whole 



INDICTMENT 111 

nature leaned to me, it implies either want of affection in 
me or consistency in one of us, or how could our engagement 
be given up ? It might seem as if you never had expressed 
any doubts about the future, as if all my acts and words 
and thoughts had won your hearty approval. 

Upon the thinking mind every word makes its impression, 
and every act represents the motive that prompts it. Happi- 
ness is built up of these impressions and of one's accord 
with these motives. 

If your whole nature leaned to me, how could you say 
from time to time the many things that were in opposition 
to that nature, and that you could say again after being told 
that they gave pain ? If you loved me with all your heart, 
how could you speak of our closer union as a something that 
filled you with doubt and distrust, that must be put off as 
long as possible without thought of the inconvenience to 
me ? You never spoke in this strain when I did not tell 
you the effect it had upon my mind, making me unhappy ; 
yet your love did not conquer the more powerful impulses 
which hurt me. 

I do not for a moment wish to show that you did not love 
me. I have never complained of that. But I did complain 
that, in spite of your love, you showed tendencies and opinions 
which, as my wife, you could not hold and both of us be 
happy. And when, on that Sunday in particular, you 
exhausted your reasons for not looking with favour on 
matrimony, you said that you were sure you were intended 
not to be married, and that you were making a mistake to 
think of being married. Could I take those expressions 
to come from one who wished to be married ? You will 
remember that it was on this day, after I had suffered 
anxiety for weeks about your cough, that you said you were 
afraid to come to Keighley because of the bitterness of the 
winds, and, again, that you were afraid you could not stand 
the Keighley winters. Put all these things together, with 
many others that had been said previously, and to what 
conclusion could you intend them to point ? Surely you did 
not say them merely to hurt my feelings ; and, if not for that 
purpose, why were they said ? 

The talk of that Sunday simply brought to a climax a 
state of feeling I had marked in you, and which had dis- 
tressed me. The impression had been forming for weeks 
that, in those opinions of life which influence serious people, 
we were getting further apart, and, as an evidence of this, 



112 THE MASTER SPINNER 

that as matrimony grew nearer the dread of all the changes 
it would involve and the questionable advantages it would 
bring increased. This impression was not thoughtless. I 
have given you illustrations of it when we have been to- 
gether, and I could give more ; and when I brought you 
face to face with the indications of disaffection you had 
shown, you did not deny them, but rather widened the 
breach than made it smaller. 

As I have told you, that night I scarcely slept ; and the 
next night, when I got home, I put the whole state of my 
feelings before you in all affection and seriousness and as far 
I could the impression your words and acts had made upon 
me. The task was exceedingly painful ; but I do not always 
pass over tasks which I think ought to be done simply be- 
cause they are painful, and I tried to make it plain that the 
issue was critical. 

In my letter of May 3rd, after putting as fairly as I could 
the doubts you had raised and their effect, I said that I was 
brought to a definite juncture ; and I asked : 

" Do you really feel that, in accepting me as your hus- 
band, to live with me at Keighley, to share my hopes and 
troubles and aspirations, you will be thoroughly happy 
that you will be taking a step which your heart and con- 
science approve ? If so, let me have your full assurance 
of it ; and in exchange for my loyalty, which has never 
swerved, I pray you never let me be troubled again by stray 
words that imply the smallest want of faith, for they go to 
my heart like points of steel. If, however, now that you 
know me through and through (and understand my feelings, 
associations and surroundings, and above all the earnestness 
of my political convictions) , you feel that I cannot supply the 
happiness you expect and desire, I can only say sorrowfully 
but faithfully, ' Give me up.' " 

How was the question answered ? 

You said in your subsequent letters that you loved me, 
which I had not doubted ; that you had perfect faith in my 
honour and goodness, a faith which I appreciated and 
prized ; but you granted the truth of what I had said. You 
explained the reason of difference, which showed that we 
fairly understood each other, and you asked for a little time 
to consider the solemn question I had asked. Then you said : 
" Anything I may thoughtlessly have said, forgive, and 
don't chide me ; for you cannot know how I feel it." You 
feared that you were " spoilt " ; and, said you, " the truth 



INDICTMENT 113 

sometimes hurts me." Again you said : " I feel I am not 
giving you the answer. I trust entirely to your kindness and 
your love. Pity me, Swire ; it's no light matter the future 
of both, and all rests on entire unity between us ; it must 
be so if married life is right." 

In the first place, instead of seriously setting to work to 
clear your own doubts and restore my peace, you said I 
was not to chide you for anything you said thoughtlessly, 
because chiding hurt you. But I had told you many a time, 
without chiding, how much I was hurt by certain expressions, 
which did not appear to be always uttered thoughtlessly. 
There was no promise on your part not to say thoughtless 
things again. Nay, you asked me to pity you ; and I did 
pity you and was prepared to bury the past. But I felt 
that I had a right to make the course clear for the future. I 
knew that I was not addressing a thoughtless girl. How you 
can say now that, " after our talk that Sunday night, and 
notwithstanding our letters till Whitsuntide, I never thought 
there was any possibility of our present bitter ending," I 
cannot understand. My letters were plain enough, and to 
me they caused bitter grief and terrible suspense. Even 
you seemed to think it would be painful for me to come to 

at Whitsuntide, and you asked if I cared to come under 

the circumstances. 

Although you may have felt, as you say in your last, 
mine, and ready to say so, you were remarkably successful 

in hiding your feelings when, at station, you cut me 

direct to the heart by the coldness of your reception. If 
ever I am to be made permanently happy by love, it will 
have to be by constancy of affection, and by consideration 
for my feelings in little matters. You do not expect me 
to be like the dog that, a moment after, will readily kiss the 
hand that has thrashed it. Another thing : if I am to be 
happy I must be able to make my wife happy too. What 
prospect was there of that, when I saw what a chasm divided 
us in many things ? When you said that " the future of 
both rests on entire unity between us," yet gave no hope of 
sacrifices on your part to bring about that entire unity, I 
could not ask you to risk a future so fraught with peril to 
both of us. 

You may think, now, that your whole nature has leaned 
to me ; but I must remind you, in defence of my opinion to 
the contrary, that, even after you had heard twenty times 
from me the principles of Nonconformists, of whom I am 

8 



114 THE MASTER SPINNER 

proud to be one, you could say hard things of them. Not 
the least was an assertion, in my hearing, that they were in 
favour of disestablishment out of envy of the Church, because 
she was doing more good than they an affront I should 
scarcely expect from an enemy. 

I may remind you also of certain little matters which 
show at least how similar actions at different times denote 
inconsistency or change. When we returned from the Lake 

after Ben's wedding, vis-d-vis to Miss and , I 

tried to secure your hand, an act which properly caused you 
annoyance. While you were at Keighley in July last, I 
am not aware that you resisted an effort of mine to press 
your hand and keep it. Yet, driving the other night to 
Woodlands from the concert at Luddenden, I put my hand 
under your shawl that I might hold yours : you pushed my 
hand away, just as you had done coming from the Lake. 
On the next night, after you had been a week at my sister's, 
I was saying " Good night " after a long day and kissed her, 
and was about to do the same to you. You refused me. 

In speaking of matrimony at , before and others, 

you employed terms of disparagement and distaste quite 
beyond the limits of propriety, considering that I was present. 
You said that you would make your farewell calls in a black 
dress, for getting married was as bad as going into mourning. 

Now, I could multiply such instances as these, and I 
have a right to do so, to show that, although you may have 
loved me with all your heart, you have not always endeav- 
oured to make me think so. 

You will pardon me if I give a still more direct illustration 
of a style of reasoning such as you have often adopted during 
the past two months, which shows that the memory of one 
of us is not quite reliable. You say : " Please, Swire, re- 
member, if while at Keighley I did perhaps much too readily 
receive your loving ways, still you did try to win me, and 
indeed you succeeded; all my heart was yours and still 
remains so." I believe that at Keighley you did readily 
receive my loving ways, I did try to win you ; and I thought 
that I had succeeded. Most people here were so far deceived 
as to think that the love was not more on my side than on 
yours. W T hen you left me, the impression was most strong 
on my own mind that your heart was mine. I begged of 
you not to mention my proposal to your father unless you 
were prepared to accept me. You said you would mention 
it to your father, which was tantamount to saying that, if 



INDICTMENT 115 

he raised no objections, you would accept my offer. You 
considered the matter for a month after that, during which 
time I wrote most beseeching letters to you and you fully 
stated your feelings, as you have stated them many a time 
since you loved me, but home ties were stronger than 
mine, and our convictions and opinions, etc., were so different. 
The upshot was that you refused me. I wrote again, I said 
all I could to induce you to have me. I spent weeks of misery, 
such as then I prayed I might never have to go through again ; 
yet nothing availed, you emphatically refused me a second 
time and left me no hope. I kept silent for some days and 
wrote to say farewell and then, and not till then, you 
succumbed. 

Now, the point I have a right to place before you, in 
answer to your words just quoted, is this : Admitting that 
I won you at Keighley, how could your heart be really mine 
when you twice refused me after the fullest consideration, and 
after allowing the secret to be divulged that I had proposed 
to you ? 

During all the time that you were reasoning with me, and 
showing that without unity there could not be happiness, 
and that you could not leave your happy home, you always 
said how much you esteemed my character and motives. 
When we were engaged, I did not hesitate to tell you how 
unhappy I had been, and why ; and I began to think after 
a short time that all your doubts had gone, that I was your 
all in all, those convictions were assimilating, gloomy fears 
were flying, and that the strings which drew you to my heart 
were stronger than all else, not excepting the ties of home. I 
was the happiest fellow in the world. By and by I began 
to talk seriously of marrying. I began also to get mixed 
up with politics (with objectionable politics) ; the school 
board contest opened. Dating from about Easter the 
most miserable Easter you had ever spent in spite of 
my presence, I noticed a change. I saw that my work had 
not your sympathy, and I was saddened accordingly. Your 
old doubts began to arise. You began to talk to me just 
as you did last autumn in your letters, when you were rinding 
reasons for refusing me. You said uncharitable and in- 
considerate things occasionally. In fact you disturbed my 
whole nature. I felt that all was not right ; and, gradu- 
ally yet surely, the conviction was forced upon me that it 
would be a relief to you to be released from your engagement. 

There was no lack of opportunities for testing my im- 



116 THE MASTER SPINNER 

pressions, and on that eventful Sunday night our talk led 
quite naturally to the crisis which I had feared. You did 
not remove my impressions, you took no pains to show that 
they were erroneous ; in fact you agreed in the main with what 
I said. And then followed my letter, succeeded by another 
period of suspense and gloom, such as I had gone through in 
autumn. 

I felt anxious above all to secure your happiness ; but at 
the same time I saw that it was quite impossible to do so 
without giving up some of the most cherished convictions 
of my nature, which in honour I hold ; and, then again, I 
had every reason to fear that I could never supply the place 
in your heart which the dear ones at home so impregnably 
held. I made up my mind that, having gone through one 
period of tribulation, which according to your own showing 
I ought never to have had imposed upon me, I would not go 
through another ; or, for anything I could see to the contrary, 
through recurring seasons of such misgivings and want of 
confidence. I felt that, now, your comfort was safe and was 
likely to continue so, but that, in coming to live with me at 
Keighley, it was in many ways uncertain upon your own 
showing. 

As well as I could I analysed all our misunderstandings, 
convictions and motives, reviewed the past, judged from it 
what to expect of the future, and felt it to be my solemn 
duty to withdraw from the responsibility of bringing us 
together. I felt convinced that this course was right for 
you as for me ; and, having come to that conclusion, the 
next thing was to carry it out. In doing this none will 
know the pain I have suffered, but I believe that the judg- 
ment of time and my own conscience will approve the step 
I took. 

Again thanking you for the great kindness of your letter, 
I am, with every good wish, 

Yours sincerely, 

SWIRE SMITH. 

This was the tragedy to which he could never refer 
lightly. Even now it was not ended, for the lady who did 
not know her mind could not measure the strength of his. 
He had to write nine letters more, incapable of writing 
one letter harshly ; for she begged foolishly that he would 
come to see her, and then that he would see her father. 



THE SEQUEL 117 

The end came with his consent to see her father if the 
whole correspondence were first put before him. She did not 
face that judgment. 

Acknowledging at last the return of his letters, he 
promised that the packet should never be opened by rude 
hands, and should be destroyed on the day he heard she 
was married. These promises were made at her request. 
Like her, he also looked forward to a meeting some day 
when their emotions should be less painful and more con- 
trollable ; and, blaming himself for lack of quicker insight 
" for your principles are as much to you as mine are to me " 
he assured her that they would then have much to say to 
each other. 

They met again only once and that was after forty years 
She never married. 



CHAPTER VII 

George Smith's new house Mr. Bright at One Ash A Swiss tour with 
ladies Stone-rolling on the Piz Corvatsch Punch jokes The 
marriage handicap A model begging letter Students' night 
Smith and McLaren Travel gaieties and habits Perils on the Mer de 
Glace Affection in gondoliers " Black Monday " at Bradford He 
buys a mill Mr. Bright on making speeches. 

HE carried on. That phrase, which meant so much in 
desperate situations of the war, serves very well 
for the emergency that shook, I think, his faith 
in marriage but not in womanhood. 

George Smith, whose leisure, was given to his horses and 
the proper study of mankind, had built himself a house 
more suited to his means than Wagon Fold. It was sub- 
stantial if plain, and it stood nearly opposite the new 
Institute, in the centre of the town. The name of it was 
Low Field. Here his distinguished son was to live for 
many years, and to see his mother die at seventy and his 
father, that " genial John Bull," at ninety. Distinctions 
did not weaken family ties. As the father backed his sons 
handsomely, so the eldest son made the affairs of his brother 
and sisters his own, writing to them constantly and often 
seeing them. He was much concerned with the troubles 
of Sam at Huddersfield, because the artist, condemned to 
run a cotton mill, seemed never to know what might happen 
to him. More than once, during the last half-dozen years, 
he had helped him out of a scrape, or given him staid advice 
on account-keeping, or replied to some complaint of bad 
times with a " Be steady, boy." He was not to be shaken 
out of his own stride. 

Among other bonds and duties, none helped him more 

118 



VISIT TO JOHN BRIGHT 119 

than those owing to the friendship of Mrs. Duncan McLaren, 
a woman of noble temper who had his confidence. Her son, 
Mr. Walter S. B. McLaren, had come to him as an appren- 
tice. Throughout the love affair she had been his wise 
adviser, so far as she could be without knowing the lady's 
incapacity ; and, incidentally, he had visited John Bright 
at Rochdale at her suggestion, in her son's company. This 
was in the previous December. He made interesting notes 
of Mr. Bright's conversation and surroundings. 

The house was about a mile from the station, on the 
outskirts of the town ; it stood at the head of a carriage 
drive 150 yards long, and was built of brick, not large, the 
rooms downstairs being a drawing-room with folding doors 
that led to another, a dining-room and a library. We were 
met at the door by Albert and William Bright, perhaps 
26 and 21 years of age respectively. They gave us a genial 
welcome, and chatted merrily on many topics. By and by 
Mrs. Bright came in. She is rather tall, stout, and of middle 
age. She wore an old-fashioned figured silk dress, plain. 
Her hair plain. Cheerful, but a little prim. Then Miss 
Sophie Bright came, a pretty blond girl not more than 
twenty, rather short, plump and very quiet. Her looks 
greatly pleased me. We had sundry chats about Walter's 
family and Keighley. 

Mr. Bright presently entered. He seemed to lean a 
little forward in his walk, and was not so well fleshed as when 
last I saw him. His face was fresh and clear, his hair white 
and long, covering his ears, his collar of the old stand-up 
type, with a scarf and pin. His whole look reminded me 
much of Mrs. McLaren. He shook hands, said he was glad 
to see me, and sat down in the arm-chair, close by me. He 
made inquiries about Walter's family, and, these concluded, 
turned to me and asked about business, saying he was told 
that there was much more fluctuation in worsted than in 
cotton. I explained this by saying that the trade was alto- 
gether smaller ; that half a dozen large buyers operating 
together could at any time secure an advance in wool or 
yarns. 

He was astonished that we had no school board. When 
I explained the facts he said, " In my opinion Lord Sandon 
and those fellows don't care to push the Act at all." He 



120 THE MASTER SPINNER 

also said : "If the Government had waited another year, 
they would have given time for public opinion to take shape, 
and a sound measure might then have been presented." 

In the course of much talk on transient politics, he 
remarked that 

Many good men, when the Corn Laws were repealed, 
sat down as if the work of their lives was accomplished ; 
and so it was with the passing of every good measure. Thus 
the Conservative ranks were and always would be recruited. 
Men liked to rest. He had himself a great dread of public 
speaking, and never did speak but when compelled to do 
so. 

Thereupon, profound respect notwithstanding, his young 
guest attacked him on technical instruction. 

I said, " I think you once remarked that you did not see 
your way to any system of so-called technical education 
that in fact you were not prepared to support the establish- 
ment of technical schools from Parliamentary grants." 
He rather sharply answered, " Did I say so ? Where ? " 
I replied, " At Birmingham." " Did you hear me ? " 
" No." " Because," said he, " I have often been reported 
to say things I never did say. My view, so far as I remember 
the conclusions I arrived at, is this : Give every child a good 
groundwork and now I mean something far above what 
elementary schools have yet done and leave the rest to 
individual enterprise and determination." 

I said that technical schools on the Continent had 
developed new trades and revived old ones. Mr. B. said 
his experience showed that difficulties often developed talent 
more than advantages. He did not know that we had in 
England any of the schools I spoke of, yet in all great works 
of skill we had far surpassed other nations. He was by no 
means opposed to such schools : but he doubted the wisdom 
in a country like England, so rich in capital, of the State 
helping special industries. 

I told him that in Chemnitz the weaving school was 
said to have done great things. In many of the mills fancy 
goods, such as had not been thought of here, were woven 
for the Eastern markets, which were once exclusively supplied 



DEBATE WITH THE 'TRIBUNE" 121 

by England. He had an impression that designs say in 
France were produced by some genius who had his assist- 
ants, and these started on their own account, and so on. 
It seemed to him that any one wanting to learn the weaving 
trade of Rochdale, say flannels, had best go into the mills, 
where it must be taught better than in any schools. 

I said : " Suppose that people didn't want plain flannels, 
but flannels with a pattern in them, and you needed to intro- 
duce designs to meet the demand ; wouldn't your superior 
weavers profit by a knowledge of composition, colours, 
etc. ? And where, at present, could such knowledge be 
obtained ? " He thought there was something in what I 
said. 

Walter said that Mr. B. must come to see the Keighley 
school, and I am not sure that such a visit is not possible. 
When I rose to go he said he was sorry ; he had enjoyed my 
company and he would be glad to see me again. He came 
with me to the door and shook hands in a most friendly 
manner. I left One Ash deeply impressed, and more 
delighted than any words of mine can express with the 
evening I had spent. 

Within the next few months the debt was cleared from the 
Institute, and the school board, in a fight with the Depart- 
ment of Education, had designed the first elementary school 
in England on the class-room system. A universal reform 
was brought on as the result of interest in Germany. 

The two friends who more than others shared his dis- 
appointment in love, his old chum and the young wife of 
that chum, planned for him a trip to the Engadine, for 
which he was readier than for commiserations. They took 
it with him in September. A lady Alpinist, Miss Grace 
Hirst who soon afterwards left this country for New Zealand 
laid out for them the route, delightfully described in a 
book on Switzerland from her pen ; and the prospect revived 
him. 

DEAR Miss HIRST (he wrote), We shall carry out your 
directions in every particular if able to do so. I am anxious 
to see the Schyn Pass and to go forward by the Albula Pass. 

As for the excursion from Pontresina, I was quite snubbed 



122 THE MASTER SPINNER 

a few days ago at Bradford by a German gentleman fresh 
from the Engadine when I told him that we intended to " do " 
the Piz Corvatsch. He said, " Impossible." I said it had 
been recommended by a lady friend as a good excursion 
for moderate walkers. He said that the lady was making 
fun of me, and depend upon it she hadn't done it. My 
friend is a young man, so I let him exaggerate the difficulties, 
and then, as they say, " I took the change out of him." I 
said a German mightn't be able to go up Corvatsch, or 
even Snowdon for that matter, but my friend knew what 
she was talking about and who she was talking to ; she had 
been up Mont Blanc and could as easily go up the Matter- 
horn or Monte Rosa. It almost ended in my being chal- 
lenged to a walking match ; but, as I would not admit 
of any limit short of forty miles, I bragged him out. 

Two other ladies, a Miss Dixon and a Miss Taylor, together 
with a male friend, joined the party, and Corvatsch was 
climbed with three guides between 6 and n a.m. and " God 
Save the Queen " sung on the summit. Writing to Miss 
Hirst, after the three weeks' trip, he said : 

One cannot see the poverty of the Albula without being 
impressed by the happy lot of all living things in the Engadine, 
We found your name in the visitors' books often, and in out- 
of-the-way places ; I believe our ladies made special search 
for it everywhere ; they seemed to think of you as the spirit 
of every mountain, dale and dell. 

You know the way up the Landquart ; one winds through 
the forest of pines and Alpine cedars, and then it goes up 
and up in a very monotonous manner. But at the top we 
found our breath to praise the almost matchless view. I 
could not have believed that any view could be so glorious. 
There was hardly a cloud and the breeze was a zephyr, so 
that we sat on the rocks and enjoyed ourselves to the full. 
There was something else we enjoyed. I dream bf thick 
sandwiches and a lump of Gruyere cheese as among the 
sweetest morsels I ever tasted. While we stayed on that 
little pinnacle, which of course seemed to us to be the 
centre of the earth, we had no fewer than twenty-two 
tourists and guides there clustered like flies on a sugar-stick ; 
and I fancy that our party was responsible for the general 



MOUNTAINEERING JOYS 123 

lingering. The rest were all foreigners, and our part -singing 
seemed to please them. Many people would run away 
from " Hail, Smiling Morn " in a drawing-room who might 
listen to it with different feelings on the top of a moun- 
tain ; and a Scotch song like " Annie Laurie " brought 
down the house, although not one in five understood the 
words. 

Not the least interesting of our adventures was our 
descent into the Montarabsch ice cave. You know all about 
it, you have crept through the blue seams, and crawled 
beneath masses that looked as if they might at any moment 
embed you for ever as flat as a penny. And you have heard 
the wind echo, and the suggestive sound of the ice water as 
it pours into unfathomable depths. Very cold, very novel, 
and a wee bit dangerous, but intensely interesting. You 
will see no colour in New Zealand so beautiful as the blue 
of the glacier grotto of Montarabsch. We lunched on a heap 
of stones in the sunshine, and Ambuhl (the guide) drank 
sherry brandy and sang his best songs. 

Of course, after knocking about the ice and peeping 
into moulines (he held the ladies), Ambuhl certified that 
we could do anything, and we arranged to climb Corvatsch 
next day. . . . 

We all went to bed in good time, for we had a great work 
before us. At 3 a.m. I awoke and looked out. The fields 
were white with frost, the hills enveloped in big clouds. I 
groped my way down the dark stairs, and all but fell over 
the huge dog that wanders like a calf about the hall the 
whole day long. At 3.30 our guides appeared, filling the 
hall with garlic and tobacco. They bore ice-axes in their 
hands and coils of rope round their shoulders ; in the dim 
light of the flickering lamps these fellows might have had 
some dread business doing. Then came the " inspanners " 
to the door, the bells jingling and the drivers cracking their 
whips. 

As we rumbled over the bridge in dusky moonlight I 
own that I felt a thrill of excitement. By and by the Bernina 
and his brother peaks blushed crimson above us, and 
brightened to burnished silver ; soon the valley was full of 
light. We began our climb near the glacier at 6 a.m. People 
say it is foolish to bear the fatigue and risk of mountaineering, 
the game does not pay the candle ; but they do not know 
how it rouses dormant faculties, making us feel for the time 
at least that we have in us better stuff than dreams are 



124 THE MASTER SPINNER 

made of. ... The last slope was a little exciting. But the 
steps that Ambuhl cut were short and deep, there was no 
wind, and I think our three guides could have held us if we 
had all set off rolling together. We reached the top at 
eleven. 

What a superb panorama ! The next pinnacle seemed 
so near that two of us offered to make to it, but the guides 
laughingly told us we could not do it under four hours ; so 
deceptive are distances over the snow. 

I thir - you have said that your friend Miss Taylor has a 
weakness for rolling stones over precipices. She has my 
sympathy. To think of the cartloads of stones that I have 
rolled into such gulfs as the Via Mala ! With what ecstasy 
I have seen the thundering splash at the bottom ! Childish 
enjoyment ? Very weak ? Never mind, I am often both 
childish and weak, and perhaps I am happiest then. I 
remember coming over the bridge in the Schyn Pass, some 
300 feet above the stream ; we three boys had walked on 
ahead and collected a pile of stones, ready for our ladies. 
One stone would weigh fully a hundredweight, it took all 
three to lift it to the parapet. A carriage came by in which 
were two of the primmest and stoutest maiden ladies. For 
days we had noted their stiffness. But they saw the stone 
and guessed what was to happen ; they hesitated. The 
driver was called on to halt, and the younger and stouter, 
saying " I cannot resist this," bounded out and in her hurry 
failed to see a pile of large pebbles by the roadside and fell 
over them. I blush even now to think of my rudeness. I 
laughed right out, I couldn't help it. We all laughed ; even 
the lady herself laughed ; I laugh still to think of it. 

But I am telling you about the Corvatsch. Our fun was 
grand there. One stone dislodged another and another, 
and away they all went bounding towards Silva Plana like 
a pack of hounds, taking huge leaps from crag to crag. 
Ambuhl besought us not to tumble down the whole moun- 
tain. 

He hurried home alone, business claiming him ; but this 
letter of many pages, completed two months later, shows 
what a habit he made of looking at life on the bright side. I 
find him sending more jokes than usual to Charles Keene. 
There was the naive exchange of sentiments between the 
lady's maid and the footman, standing near a railway engine : 



JOKES FOR PUNCH 125 

" Oh, John, if the boiler was to burst ! " " Why, goodness, 
Maria, if it only did you would be singin' among the angels." 
There was also the well-known duologue of the impatient 
fare and the cabby (but this he had from Mr. Goldwin 
Smith) : " Cabby, did you ever see a snail ? " " Yes, sir ! " 
" Then you must have met it, for I'll be d d if you ever 
passed one ! " The authorship of these Punch jokes is 
another revelation of the letter-book. 

It would have been strange if a lively optimist, blessed 
with benevolent and enterprising habits, had turned his 
back on marriage after one glimpse of its risks. He did 
not do so. But, in proportion to the warmth and resolution 
of that spirit of his, the experience had been humiliating, 
and must have deterred him for years I know of nothing 
else that did from attempts equally serious. He was to 
meet many better women, and his kindness for all who were 
companionable was shall I say ? inveterate. However, 
I have met no man so scrupulous of personal responsibility : 
and, with that, he had so much practical male sense as to be 
almost without intuition. Women's minds were, I suppose, 
more of an unknown quantity to him than even to most 
men. See what pains he had taken, visible in the long letter, 
to arrive at an exact knowledge of a woman's motives. He 
reached this knowledge surely, but only by experience. 

It was possible to " fall in love," but there was little 
prospect of being carried off his feet, considering the over- 
whelming strength of his idealism. All his life was passed, 
one may say, in accommodating facts to that, or that to 
facts ; so no man could have more cause than he to know 
the truth of Russell Lowell's verse : 

The'ry thinks fact a pooty thing, 

An' wants the banns read right ensuin' ; 

But fact won't nowise wear the ring 
'Thout years of settin' up and wooin'. 

A letter to Mrs. McLaren shows how the tenacity of his 
ideals made a happier courtship unlikely, if it was to be deliber- 



126 THE MASTER SPINNER 

ately undertaken. His conclusion was only that he had 
chanced upon the wrong woman of her kind, not that he had 
chosen the wrong kind of woman. He wrote : 

To be in any way responsible for breaking off an engage- 
ment is one of the things that I have always thought the 
most improbable in the world for me. My mother says that 
I made my mistake in ever entering into it. I suppose 
most of my intimate friends will say the same, and yet I do 
not think so at all. She was a teetotaller among other 
things ; and a good musician. Such a quality and such an 
accomplishment implied much that was in accord with my 
nature. Then she was described to me as par excellence a 
house-wife, dutiful and cheerful. My friendship with her 
confirmed this description. 

So he only wished that the little lady had been ten years 
younger, to have had less prejudice. His ideal was still the 
" dutiful and cheerful housewife," nurtured piously. But 
all kinds of women do not grow narrower with years ; and he 
had yet to live many years himself, and to see much of the 
world, before narrowing creeds and conventions, Church or 
Nonconformist, estranged him from both alike, and left 
him to shape, as best he could, another notion of the wife 
who might have made him happy. The heyday in the 
blood never had its way with him. 

Everything else went well ; and, to his unbounded 
satisfaction, that year there were more Keighley boys winning 
exhibitions to the Royal Colleges of Science and Art than 
any city in Great Britain sent up. For a proof of normal 
spirits, I copy the following begging letter, a model : 

DEAR , I looked through the subscription list of the 

Mechanics' Institute and could not find the name of your 
firm in it. I do not think that you subscribed to the building 
fund. I assure you that a donation will be thankfully 
received. 

Wishing to appraise your interest in the town and Institute 
as fairly as I can, compared with others, I have put you down 
in my mind at 20. I mention this as suggesting a minimum 



TRADE OMENS 127 

rather than a maximum donation. At the same time I am 
well aware that beggars cannot be choosers. 

With kindest regards, believe me, yours sincerely, 

SWIRE SMITH. 

When the debt in question was cleared off, there were 
jollifications. Mr. John Brigg, now president of the Institute, 
gave two receptions to some two thousand guests, the 
school of art being transformed into a suite of drawing- 
rooms and the lecture hall into a ballroom. There had 
been nothing like them in Keighley, and the gratified Com- 
mittee resolved, very shrewdly, to hold a week of such 
jollifications every year, in which the whole town might 
participate on payment for admission. 

Dancing had been suspect or taboo in most households 
and social intercourse scanty and rude, except for the well- 
to-do ; but in these entertainments at the Institute called 
conversaziones by some one fond of Italy (the English plural 
served, or the grand name was shortened to " cons ") the 
youth of the town learnt honesty and manners in some 
freedom. This fell in with the humour of my friend. He 
was to be seen on students' night making a proud fuss with 
an air of intrigue, much as if the young folks were children 
of his own ; and on what was called the popular night the 
master spinner and his ex-apprentice might dance with girls 
working in their factory. 

Mr. McLaren was exceeding expectations. He had 
conducted a small newspaper during the school board election, 
he sometimes spoke well at public meetings with his principal, 
and he showed a quick aptitude in business. Socially, too, 
he came into the circle of elite with natural ease, sharing 
its complaisant purpose and its amenities. 

And then, in 1876, prudent men in the trade were aware 
of some shadow on it, always darkening. The war boom had 
spent itself. That was common knowledge. But there 
seemed to be more than that, there seemed to be some menace 
in the creeping shadow. As yet, it had only fallen upon 
those mills which spun or wove for foreign markets ; Swire 



128 THE MASTER SPINNER 

Smith's own business had not suffered. He could plume 
himself upon having resisted the temptation to snatch at a 
passing chance. He was glad to have no more than forty- 
six spinning frames, four combs and three twisters a modest 
outfit ; and, even so, began to have uneasy thoughts. The 
export trade was not perishing because of some shadow on 
Europe as a whole, or on America : there was so such con- 
solation. At Keighley he had a finger on the pulse of com- 
merce, for a word with his cousin Prince, the machine maker, 
was enough to confirm an ugly diagnosis. There were far 
more looms and frames being made for other countries than 
for Yorkshire. 

Here, then, was the sequel of what he had seen in Germany 
and France, a stubborn certainty of disaster, now imminent ; 
and, though it had not touched him directly, it would 
indirectly do so. There would be keener competition for 
the home trade. There would be labour troubles. Nor 
was it impossible that the worsted industry should be re- 
duced to a mere survival, if fashion ran on foreign goods 
designed with artistry 

True foreboding. The industry was entering on a fight 
for life. Yet the prospect did not depress or worry him, it 
nerved him ; and in December of that year Walter McLaren 
joined him as a partner. The Fleece Mills business became 
that of Smith and McLaren. One is no better able to 
imagine beforehand the actual anguish of such a fight than 
that of an expected war. 

Meanwhile, he saw more of Switzerland and Italy. A 
pleasant project, suggested by the sense of obligation, occurred 
to his friend John Brigg and him ; in return for unsparing 
help given to them in their German tour of 1872 they would 
offer two pleasure trips to Professor Louis Miall. " This 
they professed," says that companion, " was no more than a 
fitting reward for our educational explorations " ; and Mr. 
Miall's memories of them both are grateful. 

To go about foreign lands with two such friends, whether 



A GOOD TRAVELLER 129 

the thing in hand were business or pleasure, was a school in 
which an apt pupil might learn much, while even a dull 
pupil could not help learning something. Not to fritter 
away time on things that signify little or nothing, not to 
miss opportunities that may never recur, to be ready to make 
sacrifices for a comrade, not (in small things) to lament 
troubles which can or troubles which cannot be averted, 
are lessons that avail more than a great deal of fugitive 
excitement. 

Swire's good humour and spirits were inexhaustible. The 
most trying incidents of travel bad weather, hunger, un- 
foreseen delay, or whatever else only prompted him to 
fresh efforts. He might bring out funny Yorkshire stories 
or scraps from Mark Twain, or bits of poetry, or time-honoured 
songs like " Drink to Me Only " and " The White-blossomed 
Sloe," but I don't recollect that he ever drooped. As I 
write, there seems to come up before me his figure, the gusto 
with which he rolled out his music, and the pleasant smile. 
Charles Darwin said that we ought to acquire in our travels 
some of the good qualities of most sailors. Those are doubly 
fortunate who can acquire at the same time some of the 
good qualities of successful business men. 

Things that signify little ? One is grateful, all the same, 
to find such things in the diary. For example, in Paris, a 
droll picture of the three travellers in an old cab with 
" a skeleton horse and an antediluvian man. How we did 
amble ! and there was actually a bell attached to the cab 
to warn people to keep out of the way." As to the qualities 
of successful business men, I note one of them. Every such 
diary of travel made by Sir Swire Smith was prefaced 
by an itinerary, by a list of places to which letters might be 
addressed from home, and by a memorandum of things to be 
worn and carried. Here is the memorandum in question 
for this Alpine journey : 

Overcoat ; plaid. Extra pair trousers and boots. Slippers. 
Extra flannel shirt. Under flannel, drawers, two pairs 
stockings, nightshirt, scarf, woollen vest, gloves. Safety 
pins. Brush and comb, tooth-brush, razors, soap. Pens, 
paper, ink-bottle, note-book, sketch-book, cards. Court 

9 



130 THE MASTER SPINNER 

plaster, glycerine, magnesia. Drinking cup, flask (?). Matches. 
String, laces, straps. Veil, spectacles, opera glass. Needles 
and thread. Paper collars and fronts, handkerchiefs. Alpen- 
stock. Books Murray's Switzerland, Baedeker's Language 
Manual, Keller's map, Ball's Alpine Guide, Tyndall's Glaciers, 
Romeo, Tennyson. 

This outfit was for a fortnight's go-as-you-please between 
Basle and Geneva, during which they " made some minor 
ascents and poked about among glaciers." 

Mountaineers by profession and achievement might have 
so described their adventure, but one gathers that an enthusi- 
ast for beauty got on very well with two sober gentlemen in 
quest of knowledge. He indeed fell half asleep at the Wald- 
statter Hof while they discussed geology over a map ; but he 
was always up first in a morning, and once he got the others 
out of bed to see the sun rise on the Eggishorn. It was a 
finer sight than hornblende, serpentine and muschelkalk, 
" and M., with his rug round him and bare feet, looked a 
Father Ignatius." The diary has notes on the colouring of 
sky, peaks and valleys as it changed in faultless loveliness 
from 4.30 to 6.10 a.m. Then at Zermat, to his great joy, 
he ran across two old flames of his picnicking days (which 
were not over), and sang trios with them in starlight he 
and they under the plaid and breakfasted with them next 
morning. 

We drew together the two tables and had the room all to 
ourselves. The morn was cloudy, and Caspar said it was 
best not to start for the Riffel yet, so we had all our songs 
and glees ; and villagers and guides grouped under the 
windows, and some of the servants loitered in the passages, 
to hear us. A music professor who seems to live on the 
premises came into the room ; he sat with great enjoyment, 
asking especially who was the composer of " O Memory," 
it was " superb." 

Long after the time we had fixed for starting, our carriage 
had not come ; I looked out of the window once, and saw 
Boots in the street ; he winked, and said it would be round 
in a few minutes. At the same time I winked to him that 



ON THE MER DE GLACE 131 

we were in no hurry, and my wink was understood. But at 
last it came ; and we struck up " Auld Lang Syne " and sang 
it with all our hearts, shook hands again and again, jumped 
in, and, with a wave to them as our mule joggled round the 
corner, parted from our friends. 

Their visit to the Mer de Glace was not, however, without 
those " trying incidents." 

We had hoped to get round the corner and see the meeting 
of the glaciers ; but the moraine, where it joined the ice, 
was very steep and dangerous. Huge blocks of granite 
were merely perched amid the loose sand and debris, and 
were always likely to roll down upon us. It was out of the 
question to walk along the steep moraine above each other, 
for stones were frequently dislodged that would have crushed 
or injured any of us who had been in their way. For some 
distance we walked on the ice ; but it was so deeply crevassed 
that we had difficulty in making progress and were glad to 
get to the moraine again. B. helped M. over the stones, 
and many a time his nerves were put to the stretch. It was 
not so much so with B. and me, for from boyhood we have 
been accustomed to test our nerves by climbing trees and 
leaping from rock to rock. 

We came back as we best could to the point usually 
taken by those who cross the ice, and, as all seemed to be 
clear, we made a start. The track was not easy to make out, 
but at first our path was neither dangerous nor difficult. 

Three-quarters across, the crevasses became more numer- 
ous and deep, and often one that it was not prudent to leap 
over cut us off. M. was not at all good on his feet. I went 
on before to find a way, and tried many ways before I saw a 
clear course. We helped M. by giving him our two stocks 
to hold, one standing before and the other behind him. 
One or two points were really awkward ; and we had to cut 
steps and put out our strength, in order to make his position 
safe. It must have taken us near an hour to cross. ... In 
due time we made our way along the Mauvais Pas, by the 
charming waterfalls, and then walked down to the foot 
of the glacier. I was surprised to find how much it had 
changed since Ben and Sam and I saw it in 1864. 

All down the valley thick clouds gathered, and there was 
vivid lightning. I had my plaid, which I put about me and 



132 THE MASTER SPINNER 

was prepared for the storm ; but B. and M. had no extra 
covering. We had nearly three miles to walk. We did it 
manfully at a good tramp, the rain increasing and the whole 
valley sometimes lighted up. M. felt the rain run down his 
back, and all of us had our boots full ; they were amusing 
about it. Then I chaffed them about their mackintoshes 
and umbrellas a light mackintosh so useful, an umbrella 
indispensable, it comes in for sunshine as well as showers. 

That night B. dined in his ulster overcoat, and a fine 
picture he was ; M. in mine. What merry fellows we were 
notwithstanding. 

Merry fellows, but not to be put upon. Mr. Miall tells 
how he was rid of a pestilent rogue on the Italian tour, 
amusingly. They were struggling up the ashy cone which 
forms the summit of Vesuvius, badgered by a crowd of 
ruffians offering help ; and one of these began to walk just 
above him, so as to disturb the ashes and make his loose 
footing worse. Extortion. Mr. John Brigg was a serene 
gentleman with the handsome dignity of a sheik, tall and 
bearded. He crossed above the rascal in turn, and, laying 
a hand quietly on each of his shoulders, gave him a sharp 
push ; whereupon he descended the steep cone with strides 
that became longer as his pace increased ! The horde 
abandoned them. 

It was another story in Venice, where Swire looked up 
the gondoliers he knew and swapped songs with them again, 
and fed them liberally as friendship prompted. 



adieux were affectionate. Time after time he 
wished to be remembered to Ben and to William Briggs and 
their ladies, and then, when the time for parting came, he 
left his place in the bow and seized each of us by the hand, 
and kissed our hands most touchingly. When I paid him 
he went through another performance, and Giuseppe came 
and kissed my hand too. The little scene was amusing, 
but we had made friends of these men and it affected me, I 
must say. 

That spring month in Italy was a time of very happy 



AN AVALANCHE 133 

leisure, enjoyed as if there were no hereafter; for now he 
knew his way about, and his purse was fuller, and things at 
home were at all events in good hands. Besides, he was 
showing the rich scene to his companions. Nothing could 
please him better than that, at any time. So I find him 
taking his farewells with Byron's salutation in Childe Harold : 

Fair Italy ! 

Thou art the garden of the world, the home 
Of all Art yields and Nature can decree : 
Even in thy desert, what is like to thee ? 
Thy very weeds are beautiful, thy waste 
More rich than other climes' fertility. 

Coming back over the Simplon, there was peril. 

Often the snow cuttings on the Swiss side were fifteen feet 
deep, and at the second refuge after the Hospice we were 
called to a sudden halt ; an avalanche had fallen. Five 
diligences in all were stopped, and it would take two hours 
to clear the road even if no more snow rolled down. I walked 
on to the scene of the accident, and, returning for my snow 
glasses, determined to be of some use if possible. I got 
a spade and worked for an hour as hard as anybody, but I 
was then fairly worked out. Under the action of the hot 
sun more chutes were falling ; but, after hard exertions, the 
carriages could be got through, the wheels sinking to their 
axles and the horses to their knees. The men were excited, 
yet did not dare to make much noise ; there was no cracking 
of whips ; but the horses knew the danger and were full of 
mettle. They pulled like horses going with engines to a fire, 
and, once through, they whirled down the road at full gallop. 

i 

Mr. Miall's recollections of those pleasant days preserve 
an incident that followed the return home. A botanist, he 
asked leave to bring a class of students to explore Currer 
Wood, on a farm owned by George Smith ; and, when they 
came, Swire invited the party to take tea with him. 

An excellent rustic meal was served out to us by a man 



134 THE MASTER SPINNER 

who had much the appearance and manner of an uncom- 
monly old-fashioned manservant, and who treated us all 
with surprising familiarity, cracking his jokes freely. After 
tea I was feeling in my pocket for half a crown, when the fact 
leaked out that he was Swire's father. Both father and son, 
I think, greatly enjoyed my perplexity. 

No doubt they did. In such mystifications, accidental 
and designed, the humour of Yorkshiremen diverts itself a 
good deal, playing a sort of jiu-jitsu with unwary victims ; 
and George Smith himself used to tell with great relish a 
similar story. A stranger with whom he chatted while 
taking a Turkish bath for about this time the baths and 
wash-houses were at last finished spoke of Swire Smith 
and asked the old boy if he knew him. " I should do," said 
he. " I live i' t' same house." And the stranger said, " I 
suppose you'll be his butler, then." 

There is a key to Yorkshire character in such humour. 
Men so careless of appearances take their pleasure in realities. 
The care for these is more than they disclose. 

At a time when, in the worsted trade, all bluffs were to be 
tried out, Swire Smith had accepted a propitious partnership. 
This not only doubled the firm's capital, and gave him for 
the first five years two-thirds of any trading profit, but 
enabled him, by spinning carpet yarn, to secure orders 
from the Brights at Rochdale while ordinary spinners were 
at their wits' end for lack of business. For this purpose, 
before he snatched the time for that Italian holiday, he had 
bought a mill at Armley where such yarn was spun, and was 
running it as an adjunct. The merit of this extension was 
that he spun carpet yarn for orders, when other firms were 
making unsaleable stock. Going to buy his wool at the 
Liverpool sales, he would call at Rochdale for an order 
first, and regulate his buying by it. 

But now the general situation had to be faced ; carpet 
yarn was but a " side line." He returned from Italy to a 
" black Monday " at Bradford, the market paralysed by a 
great firm's failure ; and yet it was necessary to leave Fleece 



COURAGE IN BUSINESS 135 

Mills for a larger factory, or the new capital would be lying 
idle. 

As he had feared, the fashions demanded foreign fabrics, 
and English mills could not produce anything like these 
fabrics. A spinner, he was in this respect at the mercy of 
unskilful weaving firms. With a view to Jhe extension, and 
to current needs, he had bought large stocks of wool when it 
was cheap ; but before he could profit by that speculation 
there were other failures. The irresistible competition 
came not from Germany, but from France, mistress of the 
fashions ; and his note on the sequel of the war between 
those two countries is memorable : 

The strength of Germany has become her weakness. 
From the war of 1870 every German went home in triumph. 
Every German felt proud and elated, relaxed his efforts, 
spent more freely, struck for higher wages and less work. 
To-day Germany is depressed beyond measure, unable to 
give employment to her people. 

The weakness of France has become her strength. She 
was terribly weakened and humiliated. Every Frenchman 
felt that his country needed his energies, he must work for 
existence. Since 1870 no nation has prospered so much or 
so developed its resources. 

However, he was tied to " fight the course." One day, 
in Bradford, he heard an important man talk of buying a 
mill at Keighley, for which he himself had made an offer. 
Within a few days the firm of Smith and McLaren secured 
it. Their bid for it was 15,000, the exact amount of the 
new capital ; and in January 1879, while the purchase was 
not yet completed, four well-known firms suspended payment 
in one week. A bad outlook. Many men sang the praise of 
technical instruction by this time, and those were loudest 
who had seen the French Exhibition of 1878 ; but there was 
small satisfaction in having been a true prophet. True, the 
Keighley school was a model imitated freely. He was con- 
stantly receiving deputations of school managers or replying 
to their inquiries. But all this might be too late for the 



136 THE MASTER SPINNER 

present generation, and his only real satisfaction was to find 
the school assisting brilliant boys. An instance, one of 
many that have had national importance, is noted now. 



A youth stopped me to ask if I would accept a picture 
from him. He said that a few years ago he was a half-timer 
in my employ, and that I had offered to pay his fees at the 
school of art. He had accepted my kindness for a year, 
and now he wished to acknowledge it. I remembered finding 
out his talent in a visit to the national school. I now thanked 
him, and next morning he brought some paintings and draw- 
ings to my office, when I accepted a chalk drawing and said 
that I would frame it myself. He is training to be a drawing 
master. 

This boy, the son of a blacksmith whose family were 
musicians, became in turn the Head Master of the Leicester 
School and the Principal of the Royal College of Art. He is 
Mr. Augustus Spencer, who lately retired on a pension. 

But there were many things to make life gratifying at 
this time, though it pressed so hard that dances had to be 
neglected, and the Sunday school teachership resigned, and 
the resumed diary cut down to memoranda. The Bradford 
Chamber of Commerce made Swire Smith the youngest 
member of its Council. He was called upon for speeches 
and papers everywhere, on his pet subject, on thrift, on 
temperance, on the Afghan War, on the Eastern Question t 
and on general politics ; while in 1877 he had repeated the 
lecture on Venice in four places. There were personal 
gratifications too. He records that John Bright took a 
fancy to him which was not surprising ; for he made 
journeys to hear the Tribune speak, saw him sometimes at 
home, and presented him with a loyal address from the 
Keighley Liberals. The old and the young manufacturer 
had common ideas about labour and most other things, as 
well as about free trade. 

Once Mr. Bright gave him a talk on the technique of 
oratory. He had been speaking on America, when Mr. 



MR. BRIGHT ON SPEECHMAKING 137 

T. B. Potter, his Parliamentary colleague, returned from a 
tour in that country. While he smoked a cigar after supper 
at One Ash 

I asked him if, in preparing such a speech, he wrote 
much of it in full. He said, " Scarcely any." The labour of 
writing was too great, and that of committing to memory 
intolerable. In his earlier days he did so. The attempt 
to memorize did not at all succeed, and once, when speaking 
with Cobden (I think on education) he forgot his speech 
and fairly broke down. His method for a great number of 
years has been, first, to understand his subject thoroughly 
read of it, think of it, converse about it, till it is mastered 
and then, said he : 

" I make notes of the points and facts I wish to bring 
forward. Finally, I sit down and picture what I want to 
say, making skeleton notes on paper for the occasion, 
bringing in quotations and figures in their places, inserting 
important words or sometimes whole sentences, ending often 
with the words of the peroration. I do not write out the 
speech at all. Having made notes of my ideas, the words 
come ; and, by trusting to my feelings, and the sympathies 
or opposition of the meeting, I am able after long practice 
to say what I try to say, and I can refer here and there to the 
speeches of others or to new thoughts as they arise." 

He said that his great anxiety always was to make him- 
self clearly understood and yet to avoid being diffuse. His 
own feeling was that his speeches were too long. It was a 
speaker's business to study the capacity of his audience 
as well as his own power. 

I asked what preparation his famous speech on the 
Burials Bill had received. He said, " None. When I went 
down to the House I had no intention of speaking." 

I remarked that he had referred but little to his notes, 
and that either he must have a subject well in mind or the 
notes must be very plain. He said, " Well, I'll show you my 
notes," and he took them from his breast pocket and handed 
then to me, saying, " If they are of use to you, you may keep 
them." I was overjoyed. 

He told me that Cobden did not use notes at all, but he 
(Mr. B.) had often advised him to do so, as his speeches were 
unequal. Sometimes Cobden made speeches that were 
splendid ; then again, he would often say that he wished 



138 THE MASTER SPINNER 

some one would kick him before he began. Of the Corn 
Law speakers Fox was the most polished and effective. " He 
was far ahead of us. But I suppose we were good enough, 
upon the whole." 

Miss Sophie, in walking up from the meeting, had told 
me that she always knew when her father had a speech on 
hand, as he sat at his table. He had a short, nervous cough. 

I am much impressed with the simplicity of the household 
arrangements. Before breakfast this morning (19-12-79), 
the servants were called in three of them and Mr. B. 
sat at a corner of the table and read Psalm 103 in a manner 
I have never heard equalled. The voice was like the voice 
of a prophet. 



CHAPTER VIII 

Romance of a new factory Ways with workpeople " That man works at 
our mill " Bad times Grass in Bradford streets Heckling Lodore 
Apple blossom and ladies' boots Kuskin School stories Too much 
chivalry A cry for help. 

SPRINGFIELD MILL, which Swire Smith was to run 
as long as he remained in business, might have been 
built for him by a patron. It was new ; it had cost 
10,000 more than Smith and McLaren gave for it ; and, as 
great care had been taken to build it well and to equip it 
with the best machinery, the partners would save 1,000 a 
year in power and wages. 

The story of this building was a little strange : " One 
man soweth and another reapeth." The spinner by whom it 
was designed with a fearless enterprise was dead, leaving a 
cartload of empty champagne bottles in his cellar. He 
built a model mill and died, and then, to the edification of 
many admirers, he went into bankruptcy ; though he had 
built a mill, he had not paid for it. This, in fact, was a man 
who had made money rapidly after the war, and had hoped 
to go on doing so ; but he owed 30,000 to the Bradford 
Banking Company, who now, it seems, were glad to sell the 
mill for half that sum. 

Smith and McLaren were commonly thought to have 
purchased a white elephant. An unfriendly local newspaper, 
the Keighley Herald, flattered them with the remark that " a 
Roman general who had lost a battle was rewarded by the 
citizens because he had not despaired of his country " : a 
sneer which perfectly appraised Swire Smith's temper, if he 
had lost no battle yet. The mill doubled his spinning plant, 

1S9 



140 THE MASTER SPINNER 

and with the help of his young associate he would have to 
double his business. 

However, he did not attempt more. The two smaller 
mills were dismantled. It was sufficient that, if the worsted 
industry were saved and any golden age brought in, there 
would be plenty of room to build again at Springfield. 

And what of his workpeople in these times ? Well, he 
had something yet to learn, as all employers had, of the 
spirit in which legislation for their welfare might be contem- 
plated. He was jealous of all such legislation pushed in 
between himself and them. But, for the same reason, he 
had refused to have anything to do with an association of 
factory occupiers, and, for stronger reasons still, with a 
national federation of capitalists. Such a federation, he 
told the promoters, would have more power for evil than for 
good. Capital could always hold its own. There was the 
spirit of future legislation, all the same, in the paternal 
relation in which he saw himself standing with his spinners 
and combers, who had no trade union. In two years the 
wage-rate had fallen by a third, and " hands, who would 
have given you two words for one, and required the greatest 
coaxing at high wages, can now scarcely be driven from the 
doors and will work for anything they can get." First, then, 
" we hope by paying top wages to get the best hands." 

The firm did so. Many workers remained with him for 
thirty years. Then, although he believed that free com- 
petition must determine wages, he could help rising talent 
to free itself ; and so the firm paid half the fees of any 
workers who cared to attend evening classes. 

Next, he knew his hands personally, and thought to stand 
by the worthy ones in any special misfortune. They all 
saw him twice a day at least, coming his rounds, and he 
addressed them by their Christian names. Those who 
lunched in the mill knew that he took the same lunch, includ- 
ing a cup of coffee with the grounds floating. Many years 
later, he provided a rough afternoon tea. At three o'clock 
huge copper urns went round on trolleys, each wheeled by a 



WAYS WITH WORKPEOPLE 141 

couple of girls, and left a mug of tea with every worker. 
His very oversight of work, which was incessant, resembled 
a personal interest in the spinners ; for, if yarn was faulty, 
he would ask advice about it and talk intimately. He con- 
tinually had it weighed up, so that it should not be too 
heavy or too light, and tested the " conditioning." The 
women and girls in the various rooms took turns at visiting 
Currer Wood on fine Saturday afternoons, and there, in those 
later years, he would join their picnic. He was delighted 
one day to hear a small boy in the street say to another, 
" See yo' ; that man works at our mill ! " The older hands 
were pensioned. 

A little while before the purchase Sam, the artist mis- 
fitted, had come home. His unfortunate cotton mill had 
been burnt down, at a loss only partly covered by insurance, 
and he had no desire to set up another business. With 
Sam's affairs his brother was no longer troubled. 

But his own set him sometimes chafing. " If only trade 
would be good," he writes to a friend, " I would measure the 
earth ! I don't see the good of being a bachelor without a 
bachelor's privileges." Travel is ever his dream. " I am 
pushed back further and further on the shelf, and only 
brought off now and then for dusting." But he does not 
despair even of marriage, for "I often attend ' the means 
of grace/ and, though some may look coldly, there are others 
who forget my years (36) and increasing wrinkles, and who 
smile upon me as sweet girls can smile on those who can say 
soft words in their ears." 

That Christmas he is, in fact, " footsore for days and days 
with dancing." Exuberance. Within a month of this, he 
also sits up six nights out of ten with his father, who has a 
" murderous earache." 

Those times are within my recollection. They were such 
times as call for men of hope and spirit. I was a very young 
reporter on the Keighley News, and saw a number of sordid 
homes in which the women had only a few shillings. These 
were not typical, but their hopelessness was. The town was 



142 THE MASTER SPINNER 

ugly and dirty ; there was nothing cheerful in it but the 
Institute and the new schools that is to say, nothing obvious. 
The cheerfulness of art was unknown, and that of Yorkshire 
" house-pride " subdued, though everything was cheap. 
There was an idle riff-raff in the streets. My father, a man 
with plenty of courage, stood in his unfrequented shop 
grimly. On Saturday nights, much drunkenness. Good- 
hearted men could only do the duties lying to their hands 
and make fervent plans for times to come. 

Wherever Swire Smith spoke, he was much applauded. 
He now spoke well. He had a homely, straightforward 
manner, and wasted no time ; and what he said, in a pleasant 
baritone voice, was heard by every one distinctly. Among 
public men then and later I heard no better speaker below 
the first rank ; nearly all were worse ones ; and there was 
none more evidently in earnest. 

He kept his new mill going ; but a great and permanent 
change had come for the worsted industry, and this he was 
only less slow than other men to admit. The new fashions 
meant a new level of taste. Yorkshire was a backwater 
to which it penetrated late ; and, when it came, threatening 
to swamp and make away with the whole product of West 
Riding frames and looms, men said to each other, " Im- 
possible ! What we make is good stuff." It was a change 
not merely of patterns and colours, but of actual fabrics ; 
France had begun to make ladies' wear of a kind that English 
combing and spinning machinery was not fitted to produce, 
and the old, stiff, serviceable gowns of our grandmothers, 
woven of alpaca, mohair and English lustre wools, were laid 
aside for it. 

It was made from wools hitherto despised, wools grown in 
Australia and New Zealand ; wools with a dull, short, crumpled 
fibre oh, quite inferior to the straight, long, shining fibre 
that wore so well, and spun so well, and was so cheap but 
it was dyed with anilines in finer shades than one used to see, 
and ladies said that it was soft and graceful. Sold first on 
the Continent, French fabrics now began to dominate the 



MEETING COMPETITION 143 

British markets. It was said that we should see grass 
growing in Bradford streets. 

No one had done more than Swire Smith to avert that 
calamity ; and now in 1880, when things approached the 
worst, he fought very hard against those foolish advisers, 
men like the late Lord Masham (Mr. S. C. Lister), who wanted 
French goods kept out of the country. He did so although 
he was mainly spinning lustre wools, and would have profited 
for the desperate time being by that remedy. " Are we," 
he asked, "to be bound hand and foot to old Bradford 
methods and the old goods, whether they are wanted or 
not ? I suppose nothing will revive Mr. Lister's drooping 
spirits but the return of the crinoline." He fought for better 
education in taste and technical skill, and was prepared, if 
he could, to adapt his machinery to the change. 

In this way he came to be one of Mr. Bright's most dis- 
tinguished henchmen, defending free trade ; his view being 
that no good can come of burking competition, which must be 
fairly met and beaten. Besides, I find notes for his speeches 
prepared in Mr. Bright's way. 

However, you are not to be entertained with old con- 
troversy ; this is the story of a man, not of a man's politics, 
which only help to explain him. He could make no time for 
holidays now, but he made time for the election of 1880. Mr. 
Lister put up with Mr. F. S. Powell for his constituency, 
against Lord Frederick Cavendish and Sir Mathew Wilson, 
and that was not to be endured. It is still remembered that, 
wherever Mr. Lister went, he was ably heckled. I find in the 
letter-book a list of no fewer than forty-four baffling questions 
for him, and correspondence showing that they were syste- 
matically put round. There are also drafts of placards, 
very spirited. Mr. Lister was the biggest man in Bradford, 
but he and his colleague made a poor showing at the polls ; 
their tent-pegs had been loosened while they slept. Many 
other Conservatives at this time did no better ; and Swire 
Smith, pleased beyond measure, sat down one Sunday in his 
room at home, which overlooked a timber yard, and wrote 



144 THE MASTER SPINNER 

letters of congratulation to all the public men he knew who 
had won seats. 

With such cares as he had shouldered, another man 
might have grown prosy or worn an air of conventional 
importance. No one would have thought it strange. Seeing 
his conscientiousness in petty detail, and following from week 
to week the crushing anxieties of his business, I note a sense 
of strain. But then comes a letter to his brother, who is in 
Italy, and it tells of a break at Whitsuntide with all the old 
buoyancy. 

John Brigg, L. C. Miall and I railed and drove to Gras- 
mere, then on to Keswick and the Lodore Hotel. We spent 
the Sunday in seeing how the water comes down. We 
photographed it, crossed it a hundred times, watched the 
trout in it, and finally I bathed in it. This will give you an 
idea of the weather, for the bath was simply delicious. Then 
over the hill we went to Borrowdale, accompanied by a chorus 
of cuckoos, and back to dinner. After dinner the lake, 
under a perfect sky, lighted by a crescent moon. 

I also attacked the drawing-room and persuaded two young 
ladies to play ; then we ventured on " Oh, Who will o'er the 
Downs," and found that about a dozen of us could sing. I 
pleaded on the stair, even at n p.m., for the ladies to have 
one more sail, and, like Annie Arden at the cottage door, 
they hung a moment on my words, though, fearing chill and 
" What will people say ? " they fled to their rooms after 
gentle good nights. Then some six of us strangers to each 
other serenaded them, and even made a respectable attempt 
at " The Image of the Rose." 

Next morning, when these same young ladies took in 
their boots, they found them filled with lovely apple blossom. 
This they wore each evening afterwards, but none knew how 
the apple blossom came there. Now, Sammy, my boy, 
if you want to break any ice with any young lady, try her 
with blossom in her boots. Sing under her window the night 
before, let the flowers be lovely, and I pledge my hat she'll 
wear them ! 

On Monday I saw Ruskin walking up Ambleside in a 
grey suit (long coat and grey wideawake). He wore the 
traditional bright blue stock and seemed comparatively 
strong. [Ruskin was in his sixty-second year.] He stepped 



SCHOOL MEMORIES 145 

along fairly erect and firmly, seeming to have many years 
of life in him. 

In the midst of business, he could write a six-page 
letter to two small boy friends, sons of Mr. Alfred Illingworth, 
who were going away for the first time to school. It con- 
tained memories of his own life at Wesley College. 

I had never been away from home before, and I felt it 
very strange when I went to bed in a room containing 
fifty-four beds. 

We new boys were all told that we were to pay our " foot- 
ings " : and what do you think was meant by paying foot- 
ings ? We had each to run round the room three times in 
our nightgowns, while the boys pillowed us with all their 
might and main. Two big boys would stand opposite each 
other, and as the new boy rushed past, panting from the blows 
already received, one would strike him on the head with his 
pillow while the other struck his feet ; and unless he was 
prepared, down he would come on the floor, bruising his knees 
and sometimes his head, and all the boys would set up quite 
a chorus of laughter. 

When I used to awake in a morning I longed to be back 
at smoky Keighley. I always felt saddest when I awoke 
before getting-up time. But when I was dressed, and had 
got to my work or play, then the homesickness would go, and 
I used to enter heart and soul into what was going on. I am 
afraid I was much fonder of play than I ought to have been, 
and I never lost an opportunity of playing cricket and foot- 
ball, and any game that was in fashion. . . . 

In a school there are all kinds of boys. A big boy took 
a fancy to me, and I used to do his lessons for him. I was 
very proud to walk about the grounds with this big boy ; and 
he had more pocket money than almost any boy, and his 
hamper from home contained all kinds of nice things, and 
he used to give me a share. Other boys quite envied me, 
and I thought I was a very lucky fellow. But this big boy 
would break the rules and go out of bounds, and once or 
twice I went with him, and was terrified lest I should be found 
out. 

One of the promises I had made to my mother was that 
I would not smoke. Well, but this big boy smoked, and he 
made fun of me because I would not try and smoke with 

10 



146 THE MASTER SPINNER 

him ; and, worse than smoking, he liked something to drink, 
and would sometimes buy a bottle of wine or spirits and bring 
it to the school, and hide it in his trunk or desk. He tried 
to persuade me to drink with him, and I had the courage to 
say " No " ; and then he called me a little duffer and used 
to laugh at me before other big boys, who were also his 
companions. The result was that I gave him up. 

It chanced that, one evening, my so-called old friend and 
two others were caught on the stair at bedtime making a 
disturbance. They were taken before the Governor, and he 
found that they smelled strongly of brandy and tobacco ; 
their boxes were searched, and bottles, pipes and other 
objectionable things were found in them. There is a true 
saying that a boy is known by the company he keeps, and 
my desk was searched too. Had there been anything there of 
the same kind, you may see what a stain it would have been 
on my character. Next morning when the school assembled 
(nearly two hundred boys) the Governor came along the 
passage, and we knew that something dreadful was to happen. 
I was so frightened that my heart almost ceased to beat. 

The Governor stood at the Head Master's desk and 
called out the three boys. He told us all what they had 
done, and in our presence expelled them from the school, 
never to enter it again. We heard the cab rattle over the 
asphalt through the grounds. . . . 

A rather severe dose of preaching is omitted. This 
might have served to show the Sunday-school manner, but 
it can be imagined. There was in those days more belief 
in original sin than expectation of original goodness. 

The story of a less deliberate love affair, now perplexing 
him, shows, I think, that he missed a wife through being 
over chivalrous. To a young lady of one-and- twenty, among 
countless others, he had penned a charming letter of congratu- 
lation on her engagement to marry ; and for some reason 
he had mentioned his own misfortune, " which you will 
doubtless have heard of." She was to take warning by it. 
She made him a confidant when they next met, and lo ! she 
was in trouble like his own. 

She had been perfectly natural and free with me, as with 



AN IDYLL 147 

a brother, and I in return had been the same. . . We were 
alone in the woods, by the side of a beautiful stream. . . . 

She said how strange that people who were so different 
should cast their lot together. Her hope had been for a 
husband fond of music, literature and the arts, one who, 
as a public man, could influence others, and who had a 
future of usefulness and honour. In my vanity I accepted 
the description as one highly coloured of my own tastes 
and aspirations. We sat a long time by the stream. I felt 
very happy. I gathered two wild rosebuds and presented 
them. She asked me to accept one back again. She spied 
a forget-me-not and gave it to me, and I gathered one and 
gave it to her. All this was done impulsively, but with feel- 
ings understood by both, too deep for words. I remarked that 
I had thought for some time she had a " sneaking regard " 
for me. She said she liked me very much : did I like her ? 
I said, " More than I dare tell you." Then we both walked 
on, silent. 

I felt a kind of terror at what had happened. I wished 
the present moments to last for ever. We joined our friends, 
with nothing more said. 

For coming home at night two compartments had been 
engaged. A. and I got into one, expecting others to follow ; 
but some got into a third one, and we were again alone. We 
were very happy, and talked very freely of what might have 
been. What a pity that I had not said before what I had 
said to-day ! Had we not both been rash ? It would not 
do to change ; indeed she was quite prepared to go forward 
and make the best of her future. I did not ask for change. 
Passion grew stronger : might I give her a kiss ? She said 
she had never been kissed but once by any one but B., and 
that was before being engaged. She did not say I might 
not. I said, " I will not kiss you," and I did not. Before 
parting we both promised to say nothing of what had 
happened, we would try and forget it. 

In two days came a charming letter with thanks for the 
pleasant day ; I was asked to visit them on the Sunday to 
dinner. I began to fancy that opportunities were being 
given for going further. Nothing happened. 

Several days passed, and somebody else told me he was 
sure she was not happy in her engagement, it ought to be 
given up. Her hostess was of the same opinion, he said. I 
saw that I was in a perilous position, and she in a position of 
still greater peril. Not for years had my whole mind been so 



148 THE MASTER SPINNER 

disquieted. What was right ? To keep away altogether ? 
To say I did not mean anything ? Or to try and displace 
B. ? I was disturbing A. : would it not be fair to say out- 
right what I would do under given circumstances ? 

An opportunity soon came. A. joined a small party in 
a walking excursion and we got together. She first told 
me of a certain friend who had as good as said to her that if 
she would break off her engagement with B. he would take 
B.'s place. This friend was now engaged to another. Then 
she told me of B.'s irregular letters, sometimes very nice and 
again quite unlike letters from a lover. She had received 
one only two days ago which was so strange that she had 
shown it to her sister, who was quite surprised at it and 
asked if his letters were usually of that stamp. 

I could only construe all this to mean that she was in a 
difficulty and would willingly get out of it if she could. 
That she liked me better than she liked B. I had not the 
slightest doubt ; and, although I felt it my duty not to go 
to extremes (it would not be fair), I must at least make my 
position clear. I said, therefore what she knew already 
that I loved her, and added that, if in B.'s case the worst 
came to the worst, I should have something to say to her. 

But the wedding day had been fixed and the guests 
invited. 

We perfectly understood each other and felt very deeply 
our position. Over and over again she said how sorry she 
was that things were as they were. But she did not say 
that she intended to alter them. Four days afterwards I 
saw her again, and she reiterated her intention to go on. She 
was indescribably sorry. At supper I was the merriest of 
the party, but I had a heart rent in twain. I have had a 
blissful dream. . . . 

Perhaps he would have pressed harder if affairs had not 
been desperate. How bad they were appears from a corre- 
spondence with his bankers. Although the invested capital 
of the firm was but 21,000, they owed 13,500 on bills 
against only 2,900 owing to themselves, and they had 
accumulated an immense unsaleable stock, estimated at 
fallen prices to be worth 37,500. This represented broken 



A CALL FOR SERVICE 149 

hopes. The wool from which it was spun had been bought 
for their new venture at eighteenpence a pound, and wool 
was now worth barely a shilling. Their overdraft stood at 
20,800 and trade was dead. True, the bank trusted them, 
and by July they owed 3,800 less on bills, while their cus- 
tomers' debts were 900 more ; but the stock had been written 
down to 27,000. Loss on loss, and few customers to be 
trusted. Bradford men looked prematurely old, and " nowa- 
days," he told a friend, " I scarcely ever sing." 

It was at this pass in his career that the public work 
Swire Smith had done made a supreme call upon him. Recog- 
nizing this work, his colleagues in the trade said by a formal 
resolution : " Help us. Leave your business and go abroad 
to learn what you can from our rivals." 



CHAPTER IX 

Royal Commission on Technical Instruction The notes Sir B. Samuelson's 
indigestion Unmentionable cure Rhyme of the Seven Commissioners 
Pigeons The Phoenix Park murders and Lady Frederick Cavendish 
First trip to America " Keighley's hand in every land " The dying 
mother. 

HE was asked to join a Royal Commission on Technical 
Instruction, appointed by Mr. Mundella. It would 
be honorary work ; not even travelling expenses 
were to be paid by the nation. What should he say ? 

His own efforts had directly procured this call for service. 
He had himself quickened the interest of Mr. Mundella in 
technical instruction, and had lately brought him to deliver 
prizes at the Institute school. He, more than any one 
else, had moved the Clothworkers' Company and the Associ- 
ated Chambers of Commerce to agitate for such a Com- 
mission; he had introduced a debate at the Chambers' last 
meeting, and spared his partner to visit continental schools 
for the Company. The Bradford Chamber, which asked 
him to serve, had no other such fitting representative to put 
forward. This invitation meant, in fact, the triumph of 
his cause. But what of his business ? 

The period of which I have ventured to present Sir Swire 
Smith as a type will take a place in history much more 
important, whether for this country or for the world, than 
that of the Hansa League which covered 600 years. It is 
now ended ; the world has learnt the use of machinery. 
But, when the Commission on Technical Instruction was 
appointed, what seems to have been undoubtedly at stake 
was the position of this country in the new age of machinery's 
universal use. We were to be reduced again to our natural 

150 



TECHNICAL INSTRUCTION COMMISSION 151 

advantages such as they are. A few men, of whom he was 
one, saw this to be inevitable and had grasped before the 
general body of British manufacturers the problem of our 
commercial future, that of making the utmost of those 
advantages. It was a problem tremendously urgent, as 
everybody now knows. Yet Parliament had so little sense 
of it that these men, if they wished to prove their foresight 
good, could only do so by a sacrifice of time and money 
which he, for one, might find ruinous. It was a test of 
Swire Smith's public spirit. 

Ugly as the prospect was, he left his business in a young 
partner's hands and accepted service, the Bradford Chamber 
paying 100 towards his expenses. " Sometimes our surround- 
ings encourage pride," he said in a letter of the time ; "at 
present the humblest man is the owner of a mill." How- 
ever, the work was to give him a national and continental 
standing, and none that he ever did proved more delightful. 

The other Commissioners, with whom he was speedily 
on terms, were five in number. Named without the titles 
conferred upon them later, they were : Mr. Philip Magnus, 
B.A., B.Sc., representing the City Guilds ; Professor H. E. 
Roscoe, D.L., F.R.S., for the chemical trades ; Mr. Bern- 
hard Samuelson, M.P., F.R.S., for the iron and machinery 
trades ; Mr. John Slagg, M.P., for the cotton trade, and 
Mr. William Woodall, M.P., for potters. Swire Smith was 
younger and less known than any of them. The silk trade 
and agriculture were afterwards represented by Mr. Thomas 
Wardle and Mr. H. M. Jenkins, sub-Commissioners, while 
Mr. William Mather, of the firm of Mather and Platt, at 
Salford, paid a visit to the United States and Canada. They 
were fortunate in a secretary, Mr. Gilbert R. Redgrave, of 
the Science and Art Department. Failing him, they would 
probably have had Mr. Matthew Arnold, an aspirant for the 
post. 

I suppose it is not doubted that this Commission, with the 
well-informed efforts which it prompted, saved the manu- 
facturing supremacy of Britain up to the time of the Great 



152 THE MASTER SPINNER 

War. Swire Smith's part in its actual work has not been 
known ; no one, however, will be surprised by the testimony 
of Mr. Redgrave : " The foreign sections of the Report were 
largely compiled from the notes of Sir Swire Smith." 
Happily for his colleagues, as well as for this biography, he 
had the note-making habit of a journalist. He jotted down 
everything as they went along, and at home made a fair 
copy of his notes in half a dozen books many months' 
work. 

But this was a less important contribution than his 
vivacious and shrewd curiosity, intensely practical and quite 
insatiable. His colleagues never saw him tired. They were 
all, in one degree or another, agitators like himself ; but it 
must have been very well that they found him such a travel- 
ling companion as he was, able to keep their spirits light. 
Only two of them had known him, and that slightly ; yet 
at the very outset they felt the pull of his initiative, for, 
seeing that most of them lived in the North, he was quick 
with letters proposing that they should visit the schools at 
Bradford, Shipley and Keighley first, and with an offer of 
hospitality from his friend Isaac Holden. They came, 
and were shown as a special curiosity of the time, in which 
to take scientific interest, Mr. Holden's conservatory lighted 
with electricity. They were of course to find Swire Smith 
equally keen for foreign sights and amusements. 

He seems to have been too busy, for once, to make notes 
of these ; but I find a light recollection set down seven or 
eight years afterwards. 

In November 1881, when the Royal Commission had 
spent a few days in Lyons, we left for Paris at 12 noon, too 
early for luncheon, and were not due till about 10 at night. 
We soon began to feel very hungry. I remember Mr. Slagg 
saying that, although his wife could eat very little, she 
must eat often ; and I had seen enough of Magnus to know 
that he ran down like an old-fashioned clock if he didn't 
get food. Here and there we managed to get a biscuit or 
a bit of chocolate, and so kept the wolf from the door for 



SIR B. SAMUELSON'S INDIGESTION 153 

hour after hour, greatly cheered by the prospect of " Fifteen 
minutes for dinner at Tonnerre." 

The time arrived, and we rushed from our carriage in 
that state of desperation which only men who have suffered 
similar pangs can imagine. The train was late and the soup 
was on the table. We took it with lightning speed. Then 
came fish, cold ; then an entree, veal pie or something of the 
sort ; then a slice of roast ; then the invariable poulet and 
salad and pastry. Dish after dish was served and whipped 
away. With the last the bell rang, and we were summoned 
with excited shouts and gesticulations en voiture. 

When we had got settled in our seats, Sir Bernhard 
Samuelson, with a countenance ashy white and a look of 
despair, said he feared he was going to have an attack of 
spasms. We were all very much alarmed. Mr. Woodall 
said that he had a small case of homoeopathic medicines, 
and Sir Henry Roscoe, prompt at every service for a friend, 
could only express his contempt by the use of a big D. No, 
he had something better perhaps not a perfect medicine 
but something that would do good. 

Bicarbonate of soda. The bottle was rooted out from 
the depths of a big bag and exhibited by the dim and clouded 
light of the oil lamp, our only illumination. There was no 
water or other liquid, and no glass ; but the doctor poured 
into his hand, say, a good teaspoonful of the powder. 

" Now open your mouth," said he, and we all looked on 
in fear and sympathy. Sir Bernhard gulped, and screwed 
his face this way and that, and after a commendable 
effort succeeded in swallowing the remedy. " There ! " 
said Sir Henry Roscoe. " Now, that will do you good, I 
warrant." 

Unfortunately the patient still looked ill. He bitterly 
complained at last that he was no better, and Sir Henry 
said, " Then you must have some more ! " Forthwith he 
turned over the bottle into the palm of his hand ; and 
then we saw Sir Bernhard, with his mouth full, gasping, 
coughing, and all the time trying to swallow. It was 
a terrible time for the Royal Commissioners ; but he 
was told to keep quiet, and gradually he did look a little 
brighter, a little more himself, and before reaching Paris 
we had the pleasure of seeing him restored. 

As we began to get our traps together, I noticed Sir 
Henry Roscoe examining with much interest the contents 
of two bottles which he had in his bag. 



154 THE MASTER SPINNER 

He said by and by to me, in a subdued tone, " I am 
thankful that Samuelson is well again." 

" So am I," said I. 

" Have you," he said, " any notion of what I gave 
him ? " 

" Yes. Bicarbonate of soda." 

" Well, I thought so too ; but look here now and don't 
for the world mention it ! I've administered nearly a whole 
bottle of tooth-powder." 

About the happy terms on which these Commissioners 
worked, something is said in the biography of Sir Henry 
Roscoe and in a book on technical education published 
by Sir Philip Magnus. A jeu d'esprit in verse was written 
by one of them, " Seven Commissioners Royal are We " (seven 
including Mr. Redgrave), which I embody here, although it 
may have seen the light. 

Seven Commissioners Royal are we 

Who have gone abroad the schools to see, 

To learn how they teach the A.B.C. 

And apply it to works of industry, 

And all for the sake of our good countree. 

Seven Commissioners Royal are we, 
And three of us add to their names " M.P.," 
And one looks after our common weal 
A well-known master in iron and steel 
And maker of farm machinery. 

Seven Commissioners Royal are we, 

And one of us is a double-L.D., 
A sociable friend, as all can tell, 
Who follows up every ghost of a smell 

That leads to a la-bor-a-tory. 

Seven Commissioners Royal are we, 
And one of us hails from the great City, 

Hoping from Guilds to find the gold 

Our artisans in schools to mould, 
And train them in ways of industry. 



THE AMOROUS COMMISSIONER 155 

Seven Commissioners Royal are we, 

And one is an ardent trader free 
Who swears by cotton and grinds at the mill 
Of political life, with so steady a will 

That he couldn't go with us to Germany. 

Seven Commissioners Royal are we, 

Artistic, poetic and literary ; 
And one can spin in musical tone 
An amorous yarn when we're all alone 

That awakens no thought of the factory. 

Seven Commissioners Royal are we, 

And one is devoted to pottery ; 

But, much to his credit, he'll ne'er decline 
To share the "cup" of sparkling wine 

In spite of his love of crockery. 

Seven Commissioners Royal are we, 
Including our friend the Secret'ry, 

Who never remembers to think of self 

A lover of Art and judge of delf 
Who can make his bed in the twigs of a tree. 

Seven Commissioners Royal are we, 

Who have ventured over the qualmy sea ; 

And, having returned, 

One thing we have learned 
Seven Commissioners Royal we be ! 

There is, perhaps, no need to identify the Commissioner 
of the sixth verse, or to say in what ways he amused his 
colleagues. Between Professor Roscoe and him there was 
presently warm affection. When they returned from the 
first tour of six weeks in France and Northern Italy, he 
visited the Roscoes in Manchester ; and among his letters 
of that time I find one to Lady (still Mrs.) Roscoe, which 
reflects his love for young folks : 

I am sending a pair of Archangels (old birds) for Teddie, 
and two pairs of young birds (baldpate Jacobins and Arch- 
angels) for Dora. Tell them they need have no scruples 



156 THE MASTER SPINNER 

about putting them in a pie when they are tired of them. I 
shall not feel hurt, particularly if I may help to eat the pie. 

As for the dog, if he disappoints you, do anything you 
like with him. It appears that, as a pup, he used to run after 
the hens and was much chastised for it, and so you will find 
him timid and much afraid of a stick. But I think you will 
find him a sagacious and faithful companion. He was 
given to me by Mr. Laycock, of Bolton Park (the Duke of 
Devonshire's steward), and I have had him kept at a small 
farm of my father's. I say nothing of his face and his brown 
eyes, but I think that Dora will fall in love with them. 



Next March the Commissioners went for a longer tour 
in Germany, where he was largely their guide. He had 
kept touch of English acquaintances made on the former 
visits ; Germany bought yarn. The inquiry lasted into 
June, and incidentally he sent home some orders. 

But the Commissioners were sharply saddened by news 
of the murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish. 

It was not till their return that, having occasion to write 
to the Duke of Devonshire, an old patron of the Keighley 
Institute, he ventured to offer condolence, and much later 
that he wrote to Lady Frederick, though well known to her. 
The Duke's reply contained the sentence : " I do not think it 
will be possible for me, at my time of life, ever to recover 
from such an overwhelming sorrow." He was " deeply 
grateful for your most kind expression of sympathy, coming 
from one who had so many opportunities of appreciating 
both the kindly and sterling qualities of my dear lost son." ; 
To Lady Frederick Cavendish, who had a great esteem and 
liking for her correspondent, so that from time to time they 
exchanged letters to the end, his expression of sympathy 
followed the receipt from her of a memorial sermon preached 
by the Rev. S. E. Gladstone, her cousin. 

It is impossible to make a younger generation realize the 
shock of a brutal and mistaken crime, as he and all England 
felt it ; but the letter gives some hint of that. It must be 
remembered that Lord Frederick, amiable and courageous, 



THE PHOENIX PARK MURDERS 157 

had only set foot in Ireland with a " message of peace " 
on the day he was killed. 

During that fatal May I was travelling in Germany and 
Austria with some of my colleagues ; and on arriving in 
Vienna on Monday, the 8th, I found a telegram from my 
partner, Mr. Walter McLaren, which told us the dreadful 
news. We were horror-stricken, and hurried to the British 
Embassy to learn particulars. We were so deeply overcome 
that we telegraphed to those of our colleagues in England 
who were to join us that we had resolved to return home, 
having no heart for continuing our work ; and we should 
have done so, had not our friends replied that they had made 
all arrangements and we must wait for them. 

Deeply touched by her remembrance of him now, he said 
that often, since that time, he had been cheered by hearing 
of her own " fortitude under unutterable grief," a fortitude 
" which has upborne the nation in a trial in which sorrow 
for you has been the heartfelt feeling of all " : and he told 
her of the honour in which Lord Frederick had been held 
by those who knew him best. The noble reply must appeal 
to all our women bereaved by the War. 

ST. GEORGE'S HILL, BYFLEET, 
April 1 8, 1883. 

DEAR SIR, You can well believe how such words as yours 
about my husband have to me a value greater than I can say. 
In my great desolation of heart, every word of true apprecia- 
tion of him comes to me like a voice from the blessed past, 
and makes me faintly realize how " he, being dead, yet 
speaketh." I do indeed believe, with my whole soul, that 
what is good and pure and beautiful and godly in human 
lives can never die ; but such thoughts are too often over- 
whelmed, and one can only strive to be patient and wait for 
the day when all shall be made clear. 

When I think of our division of the West Riding, and of 
all the keen, deep interest we could not but take in it, and 
the many happy days we have spent among our friends, and 
when I remember his great love for it all and his pride in 
representing Yorkshiremen, it is almost more than I can bear 



158 THE MASTER SPINNER 

that all is shattered and gone. And then I try and take 
comfort in the thought of the noble sacrifice to which he was 
called a fit ending to his unselfish life of duty. Believe 
me, with many thanks, 

Yours truly, 

LUCY C. F. CAVENDISH. 

The cost of their voluntary labour to the Commissioners 
must have been heavy. Swire Smith made, in all, four big 
journeys on the Continent, and was to be led into a trip to the 
United States ; moreover, during four years he travelled 
on this business incessantly in England, Scotland and 
Ireland. 

Early in 1884 the Report of the Commission was out. It 
made a sensation. The satisfaction he found in that, after 
being so long a voice crying in the wilderness and then one 
of a band of intriguers, may be imagined. It was his only 
reward, the fount of honour running small then. To his 
great joy, however, there was a knighthood for his friend 
Roscoe, in which he saw a very fitting and sufficient recogni- 
tion of the Commission's work. 

And his business ? In spite of all, new hope had dawned 
for it during the three years of frequent absence and pre- 
occupation. Great firms had foundered and banks with them ; 
but he and his partner had added new machinery and found 
new openings, so that they did more business than ever 
before. Having taken stock for 1883, and made the half- 
yearly report which the bank demanded, and seen the other 
and more important Report issued, he made his first trip to 
America, a continent he had longed to see. 

He went with Sir Henry Roscoe and the brilliant boy, 
" Teddie," to whom he had sent the pigeons and whose life 
was to be almost immediately cut short. They were first 
of all to attend the meetings of the British Association at 
Montreal, but they saw something of the States too, with 
introductions to various important people, a " grand tour " 
of 10,645 miles by sea and land ; and, though greatly con- 
cerned with schools and business, they made it a pleasure 



FAMILY PRIDE 159 

trip. That it was only the first of many trips to the New 
World, he did not dream. But he was to be closely associated 
with American enterprise, and to have a great circle of 
American friends, who would love him as his own people did ; 
so that one reads with a smile his staunch avowal, in a letter 
written after his return, " In spite of mucli temptation I 
remain an Englishman." 

It is easy to imagine what he felt on seeing not only Sam, 
but his untravelled father on the quay at Liverpool, and how 
good the Yorkshire dialect sounded. The old man had 
backed him, but had never been demonstrative. It is cer- 
tain, too, that he saw pride shining in the face of his mother, 
now in her seventieth year and frail, and that he took great 
pleasure in telling her of his important adventures. While 
abroad he had often had anxious news of her health, and 
in the nature of things he must expect to lose her soon. I 
have said nothing of how her gentle qualities had ripened, 
or of how many nights he had sat with her when she was 
ailing. These things happen uneventfully. But it is worth 
while to quote a tribute to this mother paid by Mrs. Duncan 
McLaren, in reply to Christmas greetings and news. 

There are not many like her who can fill her place. She 
has been one of the old school of women, beautiful in person, 
upright in mind, full of common sense and faithful in daily 
duty, making home almost more than comfortable, a pattern 
woman full of kindly charities. I often think of her when, 
with so much spirit, she undertook to teach sewing to a class 
of young women such a contrast to herself. What a blessed 
thing is a good sound education apart from much book 
learning ! There is often book learning with a wretched 
education. 

She had a good deal of family pride, and some of this her 
son privately inherited. There is a humorous allusion 
to it in a letter dated four years earlier : 

My mother has just now been indulging in one of those 
pardonable rhapsodies on the sweet music in the little word 



160 THE MASTER SPINNER 

" Swire." Some of us fail to hear the music : perhaps 
there is something in familiarity. My mother, I am disposed 
to think, sees more in a name of course her own than 
most people. I admit it is a name that 1 1 should not like 
to " doff." I am fond of it, because my mother likes it, and 
hope that it will never suffer dishonour or discredit through 
my wearing it ; nor is its value lessened by your affection 
for it. Like the traveller who had been in many lands, 
and among strangers had made himself " not a stranger," 
I can say, " I was born where men are proud to be, and not 
without cause." For we who boast a respectable parentage 
and a good name look round upon these hills with pride and 
affection. 

This, however, was by no means all. He felt very sure 
of the old country's merits and her future. What he had 
seen of other lands convinced him not only that she had 
fiscal advantages, but that British skill was as good as any : 
given the right training, with those advantages it must hold 
its own. And, chiefly, he knew all about his business now. 
Everywhere he had compared it with the businesses of 
rivals, setting off cost of production against prices, noting 
what was good or bad in other men's mills, ways and 
chances ; and he was content. There had been nowhere 
anything to make him dissatisfied with his own four-story 
mill, twenty-seven windows long, its new machinery and good 
order. As for the machinery, indeed, he presented his 
cousin Prince with the paraphrase of a German boast : 

Keighley's hand 

Goes through every land. 

For America, he shared the sanguine hope of Mr. Bright, 
expressed on the letter of a relative : 

ALEXANDRA HOTEL, 

March 6, 1880. 

DEAR MR. SMITH, I return your long letter from the 
States. It is very interesting, and the writer must be a man 
of observation. 

The protective system of America will probably break 



THE DYING MOTHER 161 

down from its own weight. The " Mr. Welsh's pamphlet " 
spoken of was sent me by Mr. Welsh ; it is feeble, illogical, 
and impertinent in its assumption of wisdom. I should 
have expected something better. 

I am glad to hear the better tidings about your trade, 
and hope the improvement may continue and grow. 

Yours sincerely, 

JOHN BRIGHT. 

And now, when all was to his mind so far as plans and 
purposes could be furthered, his mother died. I know few 
passages of English more affecting than his description of her 
last days and the death scenes, in a letter to Mrs. McLaren. 

Although in a sense her reason had departed, and to a 
large extent also her sight, her nurses spoke of her con- 
stantly as the most considerate, the gentlest, sweetest patient 
they ever knew. 

Towards evening she often became restless, and some- 
times pleaded piteously to be " taken home." At such 
times she had an impression that she was being detained 
somewhere, and it was inexpressibly painful to see her grief 
and disappointment, while we were powerless to remove the 
one or the other. Generally, as we went in to her she kissed 
us and embraced us with the greatest tenderness, taking 
our hands in hers and chatting although incoherently yet in 
tones of happiness and delight. It was sweet to be with her ; 
her face so calm and beautiful, her voice so full of music 
and animation. She never seemed to betray any conscious- 
ness that her brain was wrong, or that the angel of death, 
whose coming in times of health she had always so much 
feared, was hovering so near her during all this time. 

I think it was a mercy that she was not conscious ; for 
in her humility she never felt good enough for heaven, and 
her love for her husband and children, whom she was leaving 
behind, would have filled her with sorrow. 

About five days before her death . . . she had more 
pain and less food, and naturally her strength diminished. 
At seven on the morning of the 24th January (1885) the nurse 
called us, and said she thought her changed since the previous 
night. My dear mother still slept, though her breathing was 
a little irregular. It was thought that she would rally when 

11 



162 THE MASTER SPINNER 

she woke, and I went to the mill, calling at the post office 
on my way to telegraph to my sisters. At eight o'clock 
I returned, and found her still sleeping ; but when we were 
at breakfast one of the nurses asked us to go upstairs. We 
went, my father, brother and I. 

Her breathing was fitful there seemed to be a delay 
between one breath and another. We all stood round the 
bed, leaning on it, in terror and despair, while in her sleep 
she breathed her last. We watched and listened, called 
her by her name she was gone. 

In death she looked singularly beautiful ; her brow was 
smooth and clear, her face calm as in life, while the touch of 
bloom still remained on her cheek ; indeed she seemed to be 
asleep, not dead. 

I am glad to tell you that my father bears up very man- 
fully. But I am often touched by the way in which he 
alludes to his " Mary." Yesterday a distant friend sent a 
wreath, and the old man took it himself to the grave, in 
order to be sure that it should be properly placed. 

It has taken me all my life to find that there was so much 
sentiment in him. On the morning of the funeral some 
workmen came early to bring the coffin downstairs ; and the 
man in charge, who had worked for my father in old days, 
came into the living room where my father and I were, and 
he said, " We have made all ready, and put the coffin in 
the room. She's a nice corpse." Whereupon my father 
said, " She always was nice, John." And John replied, " Oh, 
yes, George, she always was ; I've said scores of times that 
your Mary was the nicest woman in Keighley." And the 
two grey-headed men burst into tears ; and the workmen, 
who might have grown too callous by familiarity with the 
dead, left the house crying like children. 



CHAPTER X 

Speeches in seven towns The Clothworkers Mr. Silliman appears 
Founding a land mortgage bank Iter Helveticum Compounding a 
felony The business Swire Smith and public honours The sunny 
side Scene on Bradford market Mr. Silliman warned With Sir H. 
Roscoe in Paris Pasteur Chamberlain and Churchill At Studley 
Royal Bright on Gladstone Forster's " tears " Secretary Fisk and 
Lord Ripon Palmerston's one meal a day. 

IT looked now as if he should prepare for a political 
career. Had he done so, and in the following year entered 
Parliament, there can be little doubt that he would have 
been distinguished at Westminster. Invitations came from 
several constituencies, notably an urgent one from the Eastern 
Division of Edinburgh, where he was told that it would be 
easy to defeat Mr. Goschen. But both partners could not 
give attendance in the House, or even fight elections at the 
same time, and he had already freed Mr. McLaren, who was 
giving attention to Crewe. For Crewe Mr. McLaren was 
elected. The master spinner, remaining an amateur of 
politics as of the arts, was reserved for a career more varied 
and picturesque. 

Just now he found gratification in the calls made upon his 
leisure. They came from a widened area from Exeter, 
Leicester, Luton, Rochdale, Stockport, Preston and Crewe ; 
he could speak with authority and had more influence. At 
Belfast he spoke on technical instruction for the linen trade. 
When the International Inventions Exhibition was held in 
London, he wrote for the catalogue a brief history of textile 
manufactures and acted as a juror. He was very sincerely 
pleased by every appeal for help, large or small, when the 
help could be given. 

One distinction took his fancy like a romantic honour. 

iw 



164 THE MASTER SPINNER 

Five years earlier, finding a delegation from the Clothworkers' 
Company in Yorkshire, he had invited them to see the 
Keighley school, and had so interested them that the Com- 
pany gave 1,000 towards an extension, with an annual 
grant of 100 for management ; and he had dined at that 
time in the Clothworkers' Hall. " The affair reminded me," 
he writes, " of the stories one has read of banquets that 
Roman emperors used to give, when distant isles and seas 
were ransacked for dainties, and the high cost of a delicacy 
only sharpened the efforts made to secure an abundant supply 
of it." He now received this letter : 

CLOTHWORKERS' HALL, MINCING LANE, E.G., 
July 7, 1886. 

MY DEAR MR. SWIRE SMITH, I have the pleasure of 
informing you that it was unanimously resolved to-day : 
" That the Freedom and Livery of the Company be presented 
to Swire Smith, Esq., of Keighley, in recognition of his 
eminent services to the cause of technical education." 

I trust that you will be so good as to come here at five 
o'clock on Wednesday, 2ist inst., for the purpose of being 
" sworn in " and invested with the livery gown. 

With fraternal greetings in anticipation, 

I am, yours very truly, 

OWEN ROBERTS. 

He kept this among his epistolary treasures. The cere- 
mony pleased him more than if he had been sworn for another 
purpose by the Speaker ; for not only was it quaintly 
dignified, marking his success as a master craftsman, but 
the Master of the Company said that he had done more than 
any other man to stimulate their educational benefactions. 
On what a scale these have since been made, everybody 
knows. 

Something more romantic had happened without a hint 
of its significance. In the spring of the previous year, this 
involved him in an enterprise by which, as time went by, 
his life was to have both its greatest enlargement and its 
most anxious passage, an enterprise which, against all 



MR. SILLIMAN 165 

his planning and inclination, diverted at last a great share 
of energy from the work nearest his heart and turned it 
upon the New World. 

What had happened was the visit of an unknown American 
relative, a Mr. C. H. Silliman. It came about as the unlooked- 
for result of correspondence which he had kept up with a 
branch of the Swire family in Philadelphia. Mr. Silliman 
had married a lady whose mother's maiden name was Hannah 
Swire, and had seen some of this correspondence ; so, being 
in Edinburgh on business, he wrote to Swire Smith desiring 
to make the acquaintance of his wife's connections. He was 
invited to give them for a few days the pleasure of his com- 
pany, and did so. Yorkshire hospitality is free and warm ; 
when this invitation reached him, Mr. Silliman, who came 
from Texas, was supposed to chew tobacco and spit at 
large, and possibly to wear a slouched hat, top boots, a six- 
shooter and a bowie-knife. He was, in fact, a cultured 
American. His own surprise at the kind of welcome he had 
may well have exceeded that of his hosts at Mr. Silliman 's 
normal aspect. 

My good old father, who will perpetrate jokes to the end 
of his days, received him in my absence. As the stranger 
entered the room his merry eyes twinkled, and, seizing 
him by the hand, he said : " How are you, Mr. Wiseman ? 
They tell me yo're called Silliman, but I can see plainly 
enough there's nought silly about yoV Of course Mr. 
Silliman went crimson. But he took the measure of 
his man and laughingly said, " I see I've got to the right 
place." 

I found them seated by the fireside, and my picture of 
the belted marauder vanished. Our guest was of medium 
height, slender, about thirty-three years of age, with a clear, 
pleasant and refined face, bright eyes, a lofty forehead, a 
carefully trimmed moustache and beard, and rather notice- 
ably delicate white hands. He gave the impression of having 
spent his time in a professor's study ; and so it was, for his 
career had been that of a student and professor in one of the 
Southern universities. But in recent years he had changed 
the class-room for the attorney's office. 



166 THE MASTER SPINNER 

It may be guessed that, fresh from America himself, 
Swire Smith found much to talk about, as well as reason 
to make the visit pleasant for an interesting stranger. How 
glad the dear soul now in her grave would have been to do 
that ! Mrs. Silliman's mother must have been one of the 
children she used to tell about who, with their own mother 
and father, came to say good-bye once, and who were given 
little close-fitting Quaker bonnets to keep them warm on the 
long and perilous voyage to a new country. She remembered 
what a sorrowful parting that was ; they all felt that they 
would never meet again. But the emigrants had prospered, 
and here was Mr. Silliman. Swire Smith introduced him to 
friends, invited people to meet him, took him to Bradford 
and showed him the country round about. 

Mr. Silliman made himself very agreeable and won golden 
opinions everywhere. 

It soon became evident that he had ends in view beyond 
finding his wife's relatives. He interested his new friends 
in the great natural resources of Texas, as a field for the 
investment of money. Farmers and business men out there 
were wishful to borrow, and would give the security of their 
lands and houses, and pay a high rate of interest double 
the rate paid in England on such loans. He explained that 
he was hoping to establish a company in London for the 
lending of English capital on Texas lands, which company 
would be able to pay high dividends. And he invited one 
after another to join this company, to sit on the board, and 
in other ways to share in its advantages. 

Everybody listened to the promoter. They were charmed 
by the pictures he glowingly painted. They applauded the 
idea and wished it success. They criticized it and had to 
own that he made out his case. But no one would join the 
company or put any money in it. 

With an elaborate prospectus he did better in London, 
where there are circles accustomed to deal with strangers 
boldly ; he secured some nominal directors. What was 
more, he had had at least conditional promises from Mr. 
John Brigg and a Mr. Mason. They were prepared to take 



THE TEXAS LAND BANK 167 

shares if the board could be composed of men they knew 
and believed in, the success of such a venture depending 
evidently on sound management. 



Their views were urged upon Mr. B. S. Brigg and myself. 

I had declined Mr. Silliman's overtures on the ground 
that I knew nothing of the character of this business, that 
it had no attractions for me, and that I did not feel disposed 
to give either time, thought or money to any undertaking 
away from my own town. But Mr. Mason went so far as 
to say that, if we would join the board, he would not only 
take shares, but use his influence with others to join also. 

We had, by frequent intercourse, learned to appreciate 
Mr. Silliman's abilities and admire his character ; and, 
having satisfied ourselves as to the stability of the company's 
manager in London, and of our colleagues on the board, we 
consented. We nominated Mr. Woodall, M.P., as another 
colleague and Mr. B. S. Brigg was appointed chairman. 



This company, the Land Mortgage Bank of Texas, was 
floated with little fuss, and thus it happened that nearly all 
the shares allotted were applied for by personal friends of 
the two Keighley directors. It was at first an affair of only 
50,000 shares with i called up. It made no great demands 
upon them, and Mr. Silliman was at home again, laying out 
this capital. In the general election of 1885 he was almost 
forgotten. But here was a new interest, likely in any case 
to rival that of Switzerland and Italy in time to come. 

The earth is so beautiful that, to those who have eyes, 
there seems to be a sufficient compensation in its beauty for 
life's annoyances, and even for its tragedies. Mrs. McLaren, 
confined to her room by the care of a sick husband, and 
writing in a changed hand, was never more in sympathy 
with her friend than in saying so. She wrote from Newington 
House, Edinburgh, to thank him for the manuscript of a 
lecture on Bolton Abbey, which she had read twice over. 
This lecture mingled descriptions of natural beauty and old 
English life with " a history of the industries which have 



168 THE MASTER SPINNER 

blessed our people " ; Ruskin had given him the point of 
view, and he was not to lose it. She said : 



One sometimes wonders how anything more beautiful 
than Bolton can have met the gaze of those with whom we 
have wandered there, in the higher life to which they are 
gone. Do they look upon this beautiful world still, but 
with spiritual eyes which cannot see aught that is sinful or 
impure, just as our physical vision is unable to see what is 
spiritual ? After pondering these things more earnestly as 
I near the end of my life's journey, I find myself hardly 
reconciled to leaving what has been so beautiful here. 

For his part, he took his fill of it. At Easter he had seen 
the promise of spring in Surrey, driving with the Roscoes 
a four days' round in a Stanhope phaeton. In the autumn 
he went again to the Alps ; and his interest was mainly 
to watch the enjoyment of men nearly twenty years younger 
than himself ; like a father with sons, he began to live life 
over again. 

The notes on this trip are amusing. They suggest that 
his unfaltering verve was tried by a touch of nicety in one 
of his young companions and a pose nil admirari in another, 
and was tried in vain. He knew them. They were the 
sons of other manufacturers, intimates of his. " H. began 
by sneering at poetry, and yet bought a book of sonnets in 
London. A good start. . . . Among the mechanical models 
of the Polytechnic (Basle) H. walked about with an unlighted 
cigarette in his mouth, inspecting them. Said he, ' That's 
nothing ' ; ' That's a fraud ' ; ' That's useless ' ; * As old 
as Adam.' It takes time to reduce the conceit in us. . . . 
W. (at the Eggishorn Hotel) sighs for Lucerne. The Alps 
are not in his line and their mountain hotels are disappointing, 
the cookery is not up to the mark. I think in a day or two 
he will appreciate the cooking." They will now remember 
how the optimist seemed not to notice these foibles. 

" He was at his best," I am told, " making friends as 
we went, climbing the Breithorn in heavy snow, singing and 



ALPINE PRACTICE 169 

vainly trying to lead his companions in song as we tramped 
along the roads or rested." Before long they were all boys 
together. 

There is an extant witness to their merriment in the shape 
of a privately printed book by one of them, entitled Iter 
Helveticum. It affects a sober style. As promoter and 
organizer of the trip, Swire Smith is called the Premier, while 
the rest, as members of his Cabinet, are referred to by their 
official titles. I quote a passage to illustrate his busy knack 
of filling up time with diversions. They had reached the 
The"odule Pavilion at half-past three in the afternoon, too 
late to go forward that day, and, the weather being dull, 
they could see little. 

Our Premier conceived the happy idea that some good 
pastime might be had out of a clamber among the rocks 
around the hut. Some of the Cabinet boggled a little at so 
imperilling their (to them) precious necks ; but the Premier 
is a man who can well persuade others to his view, and we all 
joined him in his sport. Not wishing, however, to incur 
any risk, we took the precaution to be tied round the middle 
with the rope the guides had brought. . . . 

In this way did we go up and down the cliff (which was 
some thirty or forty feet in height) several times, the guides 
always showing us the manner of climbing. . . . And then, 
by way of a climax, one of the guides, Peter, went up the cliff 
where it was steepest, nay indeed in some places perpendicular 
and at the top overhanging. 

If I had not seen him do it with my own eyes, I would not 
have believed it possible that anything less nimble than a 
cat could go up where he did ; and my mind prefers not to 
dwell on what would have happened if he had fallen. . . . 
However, he lowered the rope for us to follow ; so first the 
Premier, being tied, went up and reached the top safely, and 
presently . . . we had all accomplished what we were told 
was worse than aught on the dreaded Matterhorn. 

After dinner we made the Premier sing for our delight 
and edification, which both here and elsewhere he was most 
willing to do. 

It is not for me who am not gifted with any knowledge 
of music, either naturally or by education, to venture on a 



170 THE MASTER SPINNER 

criticism of his singing ; but, if the true measure of success in 
that art be the amount of pleasure caused in others by its 
exercise, then I may with safety affirm him to be a very good 
singer ; for he chooses such excellent songs, and renders them 
with such heartiness and good will, that he would evoke 
applause even from a company of mutes. ..." The North 
Country Maid " (they did not know its associations) and "The 
White-blossomed Sloe " are indeed songs written not for our 
age, but for all time. 

Nor have the survivors of this trip forgotten how they 
dammed and loosed a glacier stream, gorged on bilberries, 
chased and nearly caught a squirrel, and saw the Royal 
Commissioner charged with felony. This happened when, 
in going down to Visp, he and two others plucked a grape 
each from a luscious bunch that overhung the road. An 
unaccountable policeman appeared, but without warrant 
or uniform. The diary says : 

He insisted on our going back to Stalden ; then he said 
he would go with us to Visp, where we should be fined. As 
we continued on our way while he demanded three francs, he 
seized my hat ; and I seized him and took it back again. 
Matters began to look serious, H. was all for pitching in. But 
the Lord Chancellor urged that we were quite in the wrong, 
and should let the man compound a felony ; so at two francs 
we settled with him. Then he went to his own or some 
neighbour's vineyard and brought us a bunch each, and we 
gave him another franc. I shall not soon hear the last of 
this. 

And now, with the younger partner absent in London 
throughout the Parliamentary Session, it had become neces- 
sary that a new ally should join the elder, or he would be 
poor alike in patriotic service and in pleasures. He found 
this ally in his brother Sam, so long unoccupied. 

The artist was not a broken reed. It is vital to the 
success of a spinning mill that the machinery, running for 
sundry kinds of yarn as orders come and needing mobile 
organization, should every hour be used to the best advan- 



SUCCESS OF KEIGHLEY SCHOOL 171 

tage. Nothing easier than to fritter away chances of profit- 
making. Sam, employed at first on salary, proved excellent 
at this internal management, however bad at driving bargains 
and keeping books and ignorant of worsted. For in the 
cotton trade, which he knew, internal management is almost 
everything. Easy-mannered and good-natured, he also 
got things done without friction, to the point of freemasonry. 
Thanks to that, and to speeding up, the mill spun 30,000 Ib. 
of wool a week, and there was no pinching of wages. 

Now, the kind of management remaining to be done 
by Swire Smith himself, the critical business of buying and 
selling, was not so incessant as in the beginning, though it 
required vastly more experience and knowledge. At first 
he had bought and sold from month to month. He was now 
launched upon seasonal transactions, with long contracts 
and credits, and at any time there might be work for a year 
or more in hand. True, he must always watch closely the 
price of wool, guard against shortage or undue accumulation, 
agitate for " particulars " if not for orders, keep the over- 
draft down, listen to all the rumours that might portend 
bad debts, inform himself abroad as to coming changes. 
He dealt not only with carpet weavers and hosiers, but with 
German exporters and manufacturers, and indirectly even 
with the little people on the Continent who, with machines 
no larger than a typewriter, made the braid for uniforms in 
their houses. Yet, on the whole, he was freer now than 
before to break away when chance offered. 

He did so rarely. The adventures that fill so many 
pages because they are good to read about were episodes. 
He worked on. Why, indeed, had he called at Basle but to 
see a laboratory because the Institute school was to be 
enlarged ? There was a new wing going up at a cost of 
12,000, which doubled the teaching accommodation. 

Among the blind the one-eyed man is king, and so it was 
with this enterprise, the model for so many others. The 
money value of the Government grants, exhibitions and 
studentships earned by its boys had already equalled the 



172 THE MASTER SPINNER 

cost of building the school. To his pride the late Duke of 
Devonshire, president of that national association which 
brought about the Technical Instruction Act of 1889, said 
that the object of this body was to induce the country to 
follow the example of Keighley, which Professor Huxley 
declared to have " solved the problem " of such instruction. 
He was a member of the association's first committee, with 
the then Marquis of Ripon, Lord Avebury, Mr. Bryce, Sir 
Philip Magnus and Sir William Mather, while Sir Henry 
Roscoe and Mr. A. D. Acland, M.P., were its secretaries. 
When the Act had passed, he was to see millions of pounds 
laid out in similar schools, colleges and polytechnics and the 
work of his heart accomplished. Meanwhile the new wing 
was opened in October 1887, with 1,317 students on the 
books. The Master of the Clothworkers' Company opened 
it, and Lord Rosebery spoke at an enthusiastic public 
meeting. 

It falls to be noted that three of Swire Smith's colleagues 
on the Technical Instruction Commission had now received 
knighthoods and Sir Bernhard Samuelson a baronetcy, 
while he, with unique claims to honour, had been passed 
over. 

He was not indifferent to such honours. In some instances 
already, he had either used his influence with others or pro- 
moted a memorial, to urge the claims of untitled friends upon 
Prime Ministers. Was he disappointed ? I do not know ; 
there is only nothing to show it if he was. I do know that he 
strongly held that such honours should be true rewards of 
merit, and was slow to judge of his own merit. But, for 
some years, he now seemed to settle down, with no new hopes 
or prospects. Middle age brings a pause to many men. 
Swire Smith had his friends about him, very numerous 
now ; he knew the career of every poor lad from the school 
who had risen to any distinction ; and, as to marriage, he 
said that if there was anywhere a destined mate for him, 
he would certainly not know her when he met her. He 
writes : 



BUYING AND SELLING 173 

I am beginning to think that one of the very best habits 
of life is to look always on the sunny side. To me, the past 
is a rich landscape beautiful with flowers and romantic with 
hills and dales and dells ; and, to a sanguine mind like 
mine, the future is as a glowing autumn to the year. My 
ambition is small to be faithful over a few things and to 
do a good turn to others while I may, knowing that I shall 
make this journey but once. 

An incident occurred at this time which illustrates his 
manner in buying and selling. To appreciate it, you should 
understand that every transaction had its personal interest 
for him ; that is to say, the men he dealt with on the Bradford 
market were not mere quantities, ciphers of an ever modified 
calculation, but acquaintances or friends, as in a club. 
There is no sure dealing without a shrewd estimate of men, 
and every mart has its code of honour. 

Prices were firm, and he was selling to an exporter of 
German origin, who may be called H. He wished to do 
business ; in spite of all, he had a heavy stock and overdraft 
again ; and H. begged for " the special favour of 20 bales at 
75. gd., complaining that he had lost money by us. At such 
a fly I rose. I would take his price for 10 bales, but he 
must give ours (8s.) for another 10." In a word, the spinner 
was ready to sell 20 bales at 75. io|d. a bale. Now, H. 
asked that this offer should hold good till he could consult 
his firm ; and, as the market might either rise or fall in the 
meantime, " I said I would give him the offer till next day 
at my price, and he must give me an offer for the same time 
at his." Observe that 20 bales were in question. At the 
moment, however, H. had in his hand Swire Smith's condi- 
tional memorandum for the sale of half the quantity at 75. gd. ; 
and he now declined to give an offer at all ! Rather than bind 
himself to fair dealing, he drew out. " ' But,' I said, ' you 
have already offered 75. gd. for 20 bales.' ' Yes,' he replied, 
' but you declined to take the price.' ' 

It was an unbusiness-like repudiation. The sequel 
came on the following market day, and made a sort of scandal. 



174 THE MASTER SPINNER 

Swire Smith's account of it, furnished afterwards to a couple 
of mediators, is as follows : 

He came to me on the exchange and in a very objectionable 
manner said, " Your yarn is offering abroad at 75. 6d." I 
replied, " And probably by you, for I know of no one more 
capable of doing it after your conduct on Monday." He 
again said, " It is offered at that price, on my honour ! " 
In my indignation I retorted, " Your honour isn't worth 
that ! " snapping my fingers. (I admit that the language 
was severe, but it was addressed to Mr. H., with whom 
strong language is habitual.) 

In a short time he returned to me in a rage. He said 
he would not have his honour questioned, and unless I 
withdrew the objectionable expression he would send me 
a writ, etc. I declined to do so, unless he would withdraw 
the repudiation of his offer. He repeated that when he 
offered ys. gd. I refused it, and I replied that we had not 
separated and the negotiations had not ended. He then 
proposed to refer the matter to arbitration. 

The mediators, treating this affair lightly, condemned 
them each alike to pay a guinea to a hospital and said, "Shake 
hands." But all who knew Swire Smith will testify that 
they have known few men, if any man, slower to anger. 
It follows that the mediators were not so nice as he on the 
point of honour. 

How did he stand with respect to the distant enterprise 
of Mr. Silliman, in which so many of his friends were 
sharers ? 

It was on a sound business footing, and he thought it 
" a good thing," as they did. He had softened nothing for 
a guest ; he put to his neighbours none but business induce- 
ments, requiring them to judge for themselves. But the 
fact that he had been the link by which the Texas lawyer 
joined up a chain of interests between the Old World and 
the New made him doubly punctilious in all precautions. 

A Texas farmer who went to the Land Mortgage Bank 
for a loan, with which to put buildings and stock on his 
new holding, had to give his trust deeds as security, and 



TEXAS PRECAUTIONS 175 

found that no loan exceeding half the estimated value of his 
holding would be granted. The bank's funds were kept in 
London, and the deeds must be received there before the 
loan was advanced Moreover, the land was valued not 
only by a Government official, but by Mr. Silliman. So 
far, so good. Yet agricultural values change. Farmers 
paid 10 per cent, for such loans, but the larger the margin 
of security the better. Swire Smith wrote to Mr. Silliman : 

Mr. Charles Lund has had experience in American land 
mortgages, and he says that many official valuers are known 
to be untrustworthy. They estimate land at more than its 
true value for many reasons. I have been told that it is 
the direct interest of all the official valuers to put a maximum 
price on land, and that land is frequently sold at less than 
half the value officially certified. Now, it is for you to guard 
against these possible impositions most carefully. 

I am sending you a publication called Money, with a 
scurrilous article writing us down. You will see what 
difficulties we have to fight against, and how in the past the 
public have been cheated and prepared for believing such 
nonsense. Every mistake will be magnified, and you and 
ourselves will be disparaged at every turn. 

Friends here say, " Your Mr. Silliman is sanguine, he will 
be tempted into ambitious things." " He will buy prairie 
lands," say some, " that are doing nothing." You will see 
how this idea is worked out by the writer in Money. Shrewd 
people here say, " Speculators buy land and simply keep it 
untouched waiting for a rise. A man buys at $i or less per 
acre, and gets the land valued some time after at $3 or $4 ; 
then he gets a mortgage on it at $2, and waits the turn of 
events. Such a man can make a profit under a foreclosure 
and at the same time diddle the company holding the mort- 
gage." It is said that immense tracts of land are held by land 
companies, and that our agent may fall into the hands of 
these companies, etc. 

Therefore be doubly cautious ; fortify us here with 
ample security for any moneys that may pass through 
your hands, and above all see that not only the lands you 
loan on but the borrowers also are sound. More trouble 
may be required with the best men and lands than the worst ; 
but, if you hasten slowly, anol {a&e no, step that you cannot 



176 THE MASTER SPINNER 

stand by in every particular, you will best promote our 
interests and your own. 

That, of course, was a private letter, addressed " Dear 
Herbert," the official correspondence being conducted 
by Mr. Brigg as chairman. Swire Smith wrote it, although 
satisfied of Mr. Silliman's probity and keen ability. 

Already the New World held him by many bonds. One 
cannot say how many, because the story of his visit, sent in 
manuscript to Mr. Mundella, has been lost. But he was in 
touch with Mr. Edward Atkinson, one of the greatest of 
American free traders, to whom Mr. Bright had introduced 
him by letter ; he had been in correspondence for years with 
Mr. James Dobson, a principal in what in its time was the 
largest textile business in the world ; and now the probity 
and ability of himself and a group of Yorkshire allies were 
staked, as they discovered, upon the redemption of an 
American enterprise from British prejudice. 

Happily they were well served. In little more than 
three years the Land Mortgage Bank of Texas commanded 
such confidence that a second issue of shares, at a premium, 
had raised its capital to 500,000, on which a 10 per cent, 
dividend was fairly payable. 

All the same, he wrote to Lady Roscoe, glad of her hus- 
band's beneficent career and her happiness : " Life is the 
only true wealth the power to enjoy, to work, to love and 
to rest. The richest are those who are doing the most good 
and getting the most satisfaction out of it. Other people 
are only climbing sandhills." Any pleasure he took in the 
new enterprise was that of establishing the " good thing " 
with the friend of his boyhood and seeing it shared by his 
circle. Good fortune could not spoil him. That view of 
life apart, he knew it to be always insecure, and so took it 
only as a set-off, balancing the disappointments and hard 
work. He took his occasional honours in the same way. 
Having opened the Baxter Institute at Dundee in October 
1888, and been asked to stand for the constituency, he writes : 



PASTEUR 177 

We have had a fine meeting, and I was made much of. 
But it is all over now, and I am again " one of the least of 
the little ones " in our old house at home. 



With Sir Henry Roscoe he had a week in Paris, and met 
the great Pasteur. It was the Exhibition year, 1889. The 
Prince and Princess of Wales were there, and it was Roscoe's 
duty to arrange for their visit to the Pasteur operating rooms, 
not long enlarged for the treatment of hydrophobia. 

Pasteur is little, old, grey, with short-cut hair and 
moustache, and wears a skull cap. He walked lame, rather 
dragging one leg after him (he has been paralysed) . He spoke 
like a man in feeble health, very gentle and humane. 

R. mentioned the object of his call, and the high esteem 
of the English people. We were taken into the operating 
room, and saw a number of people pass through, men, women 
and children, who were inoculated. The operator's assist- 
ant had a wineglass full of a milky fluid, covered with parch- 
ment like a jam jar, and he thrust a needle-pointed squirt 
through the parchment, rilled it, and passed it to the operator, 
who took hold of the soft flesh of the loins under the ribs 
and made the injection. 

Pasteur stood behind and explained the nature of the bites 
which some of these unfortunate people had suffered, and 
from which they must have died in terrible anguish but for 
this treatment. Some of the children were terrified by it, 
and screamed very loudly ; it was quite touching to see how 
lovingly he tried to console them. 

It was very trying to watch. ... He suggested that the 
Princess should be received in his drawing-room and see his 
portrait and his case of orders and medals, and should then 
visit his laboratories. She might see the operations per- 
formed if she desired it. I heard afterwards that both the 
Prince and Princess followed the whole treatment with great 
interest. The Prince gave a little Danish child a sovereign. 
He said that he would help on the movement in England. 

Some political notes of this time, following the Liberal 
split on Home Rule and the resignation of Lord Randolph 
Churchill from Lord Salisbury's Cabinet, show the humour 

12 



178 THE MASTER SPINNER 

with which he looked on and indicate his standpoint. In 
December he wrote to Lady Roscoe : 

Chaos has come again. Randolph as it might almost 
seem out of pure mischief has broken the sitting of Tory 
eggs before there was time for them to be hatched. I have 
seldom witnessed such a political sensation as we had on 
Thursday last, when the Times shot " the bolt from the blue." 
The Tories were smitten everywhere with paralysis, they 
positively shook, and we can see from all their papers that 
Randy was " the rose and expectancy of the fair state." 

Chamberlain played a part almost as serious with the 
Unionists. He said that with Randy's resignation the com- 
pact is at an end and Liberals had better put their heads 
together. Joseph's sojourn in a far country has not been 
quite long enough. I think he will have to show the repent- 
ance of the Prodigal, before he sees the forgiveness of the 
good old father he deserted. 

I spent my Christmas with Mr. and Mrs. Drewry at Holker 
and had a long talk with the Duke of Devonshire. He had 
not heard from Hartington and didn't know what he could 
do. I said that, if the Marquis did go over, which I should 
look upon as a great calamity, there would be this consola- 
tion for us, that he would make Conservatism once more 
respectable. . . . 

Admiral Egerton spoke of Randolph with disdain, but 
said he was the favourite of society. The Prince of Wales 
and many others had made up their minds that he was to 
be Prime Minister, and they all flattered him and pushed 
him up, and accepted his actions as those of a genius who 
must not be judged in the same way as others. We shall 
see what we shall see. 

There is a quainter interest in the account of a visit which 
Swire Smith had paid to Studley Royal in November, Lord 
Ripon wanting a talk about the Technical Education Bill. 

I was ushered into the small drawing-room, where tea 
was waiting. The windows were hung and the walls covered 
with silk damask curtains, light blue. An Indian carpet. 
A cabinet of beautiful china went almost the length of one 
wall. The usual family portraits, by old masters. We 
had a pleasant chat about the Bill. 



POLITICAL GOSSIP 179 

Lady Ripon joined us at dinner, plainly dressed in black. 
On her right cheek she has a scar, larger than a five shilling 
piece. It is a sore that does not quite heal, but one soon 
gets accustomed to it, although I have heard that it gives 
her considerable anxiety, causing her to avoid some social 
occasions. 

Lord R.'s aide-de-camp in India, Mr. St. Quentin, and 
Rowntree, fresh from Ireland and full of incidents. In a 
tour of Cashmere the Viceroy and staff had more than one 
thousand servants ; they had two sets of tents and furni- 
ture, and as they arrived at their journey's end each day 
they found all in readiness for them. While they slept the 
tents for next night were carried forward. Sometimes 
(this Lord R. told us after Lady R. had retired) they would 
pass scores of coolies in charge of night commodes, on which 
they would be seated, while they wore the crockery on 
their heads. 

Sunday a wet morning. I walked with Lady R. to church. 
No servant in her household could have been more plainly 
dressed. A black serge gown, a black bonnet with a small 
crimson ribbon, a rough ulster (made at Guiseley from spiral 
yarn), strong boots, a stout umbrella and away we trudged 
through one of the finest avenues in the world. 

She chatted about her recent visit to Hawarden, as much 
interested in telling me of it as I could be in telling of my 
visit to Studley. Sir William Harcourt, John Morley, Lord 
Brassey and Stuart Rendall had been there. Gladstone and 
Morley had had an animated discussion on the state of the 
London poor, Morley very emphatic in his denunciation of 
all forms of Socialism ; with which, in some aspects, Mr. G. 
had shown some sympathy. There were certain moral claims 
to which, he had said, Morley did not give due allowance. 

I told Lady R. of Bright 's version of the difference between 
him and Gladstone in their treatment of any question in 
a speech. " I have always thought," said Bright, " that 
I go along the coast from headland to headland. G. does the 
same, but if he is intercepted by a river he traces it up to its 
source and returns down the other bank." 

A small congregation and a very slow preacher. St. Quen- 
tin said that when he first saw this clergyman, on Lord 
R.'s return from India, the man read an address of welcome 
at the entrance to the hall, and he had never heard a 
man who could so " put tears in's voice." But he went 
through the whole sermon at church in precisely the same tone. 



180 THE MASTER SPINNER 

There is a great lack of the sense of proportion. I men- 
tioned the newly made J.P. who went to study an eminent 
judge. He had afterwards to deal with a drunken Irishman, 
and said in his gravest tones, " Prisoner at the bar, you 
will have to pay five shilling and costs, and may the Lord 
have mercy on your soul." Forster has the same fault. 

At dinner Lord R. talked very freely. About the Alabama 
arbitration, he said that when it began Secretary Fisk took 
him to a sofa and said, " Now, we can soon settle this matter. 
Here's Canada just across the border ; hand her over to us 
and we'll not ask a cent from you." Fisk fought with 
great tenacity for every point of importance. 

Of Mr. G. it used to be said in Palmerston's time that G. 
would never be able to form a Cabinet, because he could 
not control his temper. Nothing could have been more 
absurd. He respected his opponents. When he found that 
they had the best of an argument no man gave in with a 
better grace. Lord R. could always tell when he was going 
to do so ; he waxed more earnest, argued more fiercely, and, 
having given more and more reasons why he should not 
surrender, surrendered. Lord R. often said to Northbrook, 
" Now for it, he's going to give way ! " and he did. 

On two occasions, in Cabinets of which Lord R. had been 
a member, the smaller men had averted war. One was over 
the Danish question ('65 or '66), when Palmerston and 
Russell were both for war against Germany. 

Lord Pam took only one meal a day, but that was often 
a great one. Lady R. said that she once sat next him at a 
Mansion House banquet and ticked off the dishes he took. He 
tried them all. When asked " Venison or mutton ? " he 
selected the former after some hesitation, asked for more, 
and then sent for mutton. Lady R. laughed, and Pam, who 
merely said he was hungry, enjoyed the joke. 

Pam was a wretched speaker. In council he would 
not argue much. He expressed his view strongly, and 
might stick to it ; or, if the sense of the Cabinet was against 
him, he would say, " Evidently such and such is the view 
pass on to next." He often moved the estimates without 
any speech whatever. 

This did not mean that he was slack about them. When 
Lord R. was at the War Office in Russell's administration, 
Lord John would hardly look at his estimates : Pam, on the 
other hand, would go over every item and discuss it. He 
had filled the same office and knew the details. 



CHAPTER XI 

Florida and the New World President Harrison Memories of the Civil 
War The Alcazar Phosphate rock " Town booming " New friends 
on the Indian River The prairie at dawn Founding Denver City 
Prince Kropotkin Pelion on Ossa Offered seats in Parliament 
Mr. Carnegie sings. 

THE call of the New World, when it came, was both 
urgent and unwelcome. On a sudden, in the first 
months of 1890, all went amiss once more with the 
affairs of a good but not an easy man. First his partner, with 
other use for capital, asked to be released from the business, 
and at an awkward juncture Swire Smith paid him out. The 
firm became " Swire Smith and Brother." Then an American 
venture took an ugly turn, involving his credit. In helping 
to save this venture from shipwreck, the threatened conse- 
quence of other men's folly, he was to accept a handicap 
for the rest of his career. 

For embarking on this venture Sir Swire Smith never 
quite forgave himself ; but the story of its retrieval is an 
honourable chapter. 

The success of the Land Mortgage Bank of Texas, an 
enterprise embraced against his will, had brought from 
unknown men in Florida proposals for the establishment 
of a land bank in that State also proposals that found him 
less averse from such undertakings. The Florida Land Bank 
was founded in the spring of 1889. Its articles omitted no 
precaution that prudence and a firm experience had approved 
in the case of Texas. More than that ; the unknown men 
had been found on inquiry to have good standing, and they 
furnished two-fifths of the 50,000 required. One of them, 
honoured in the Florida Year Book among public-spirited 

181 



182 THE MASTER SPINNER 

and substantial citizens, was a pillar of the Christian Church 
and had run a savings bank. There was, on the face of things, 
no more serious risk in one enterprise than in the other, save 
that the land and climate of Florida were different from 
those of the neighbour State, and would require a special 
attitude in the manager towards borrowers. As for this 
manager, there was the same opportunity of judging him 
as there had been of judging Mr. Silliman ; he brought over 
the proposals. 

The business of worsted spinning is of necessity specula- 
tive. In the light of Mr. Silliman's success, and of the sure 
dispositions by which it was procured, the lending of money 
on mortgaged land may have appeared by comparison a 
safe husbandry. So far as they could, Swire Smith and 
his nearest friend were at least determined to make it such. 
The new bank was launched ; and friends who had at first 
been chary of supporting them subscribed more than the 
balance of needed capital within a week. 

They themselves, of course, invested firmly in the new 
enterprise, as in the old, but that readiness of others was a 
compliment. What, then, was their uneasiness when, after 
six months, the American promoters proposed to reduce their 
holding from 20,000 to 8,000 shares ! 

The motive ? It was at once important to know more of 
them. Discreet inquiries were entrusted to Mrs. Alfred 
Illingworth, then travelling in the States with her two 
boys ; and she was unable to reassure the English directorate. 
True, the manager, who was again in London, answered all 
questions frankly, so far as could be judged. But the two 
friends did not hesitate : they must themselves visit Florida, 
and the 12,000 shares abandoned must be taken up. 

With his trading capital reduced, in a time of bad trade 
and falling prices for yarn, and with very insufficient con- 
tracts to keep the mill running, Swire Smith left his business 
for a two months' absence in Florida and Texas. 

There were elements of comedy in this visit of inspection. 
Representing half a million of money, the friends were every- 



AMERICAN IMPRESSIONS 183 

where received as magnates, not without being amused by 
it ; and they must have seemed the most agreeable of well- 
wishers, modest and amenable men. They had been prepared, 
evidently, to enjoy a pleasure tour. The chairman was 
accompanied by his young wife, a lady of quite uncommon 
beauty and vivacious charm, and it was a real pleasure to 
meet them. Of course they wanted to see what a great 
country they were out to help, and what its citizens were 
doing. One imagines piquant interviews, preconcerted with 
astute inquiries and very pleasantly business-like ; Mr. 
Brigg debonair and suave, his breezier colleague just a little 
ruthful. 

From a manuscript of 420 pages I cull some American 
impressions. At Washington they saw President Harrison, 
on a Sunday. 

The only feeling suggested to my mind by his appearance 
was one of pity. He looked jaded and ill. His face was 
very pale, and his eyes were dull and heavy. There was no 
buoyancy or cheerfulness in the President of this great 
Republic. With all his vast possessions, with all the powers, 
the homage and the regard of the wealthiest people on earth, 
he is denied the shirt of a happy man. 

Twenty-five years after the Civil War had ended 

We were often struck with the vividness with which that 
awful war is remembered in the South. I spoke with many 
who can never forget and have not yet forgiven. Whole 
States were rendered desolate ; the slave-owners in scores 
of thousands were ruined or reduced to poverty ; bankers, 
merchants and farmers lost all they had and, leaving luxurious 
homes, were compelled to begin life again at the bottom. 
The worst sufferings to forgive were not those endured on 
the battlefield. 

During a railway journey in Texas I heard a southerner 
express himself with great bitterness against the northern 
dominance, and he went so far as to say that, in his opinion, 
it would have been better if the rebellion had resulted in a 
separate government for the South. All who took part in 
the conversation were southern men, and some had fought 



184 THE MASTER SPINNER 

under Lee and Jackson ; but I noticed that not one had 
the hardihood to confess agreement with that opinion. One 
man said, " I have no love for the North, but I am for the 
Union heart and soul " ; and another sagely remarked that, 
like Artemus Ward, he " never argied agin a success." 

Florida is not an El Dorado. Frosts destroy the orange 
groves at times. But there are phosphates, and the coast is 
a winter resort of very many thousands of rich Americans. 
The city of St. Augustine, once the most important of the 
continent, was 350 years old, romantic with Spanish memories. 
There had been an outlay of princely capital there, in the 
construction of magnificent hotels. The travellers were 
impressed ; and, to Swire Smith, the luxurious beauty of a 
tropical flora made the kind of appeal he never resisted. 
He had strict business in hand, and did it ; but hear him 
quote verse and describe what he saw. 

In the realm of flowers, a perfumed land, 
Girt by the sea, by soft winds fanned, 
Ravaged by war in years of old, 
Its former glory a tale long told, 

Stands the quaint old Spanish city. 

We passed gardens ablaze with flowers, and our driver, 
taking us under outspreading trees in blossom, acacias, 
oleanders, others that I cannot name, broke off sprays and 
threw them into our lady's lap as if they were of no account 
to anybody. 

We dined at the Alcazar, a stately Moorish palace with 
a cloistered quadrangle where there was cool shade and a 
softened light. Beneath the cloisters there were bazaars 
displaying gems and precious stones, gold and silver filigree, 
and other miracles of handiwork. The court was a 
tropical garden musical with birds and the murmur of foun- 
tains, under the softest of azure skies. Yet this hotel is 
eclipsed by the Ponce de Leon, where money has been poured 
out like water with the intention to rear and furnish the hand- 
somest hotel in the world. 

Unlike us, the Americans seem to love and enjoy hotel 
Ufe for its own sake. It is not beautiful scenery, but " the 



ROMANCE OF FLORIDA 185 

good hotel in the foreground " that attracts them every- 
where. There must be plenty of visitors to make the place 
lively, and it is a joy for ever ; morn, noon and night they 
revel in it. 

In the entrance hall Shenstone's praise of inns is beauti- 
fully set in mosaic in the pavement ; yet the dining hall is 
150 feet long by 90 feet wide, and there are seats for 800 
guests. One smiles at the mottoes on the gold ground of 
the ceiling, Spanish proverbs with our own : " Change of 
pasture makes fat calves," " The ass that brays most eats 
least," " Old friends and old wines are the best." 

The fact is that there are no people on the face of the 
earth who compare with Americans in light-hearted spending 
of money on making themselves comfortable. To folks at 
home what they pay to the railways and hotel proprietors 
during their winter visits to Florida would be an astounding 
revelation. There was a private suite of rooms described by 
our conductor as the bridal apartments. " What is the 
price of these rooms ? " I asked. " Forty dollars a day," 
was the reply ; and, on naming the sum afterwards to some 
American friends, I was told that the price was by no means 
excessive. 

From the phosphate kings, driving behind fast trotters 
with them, or trudging over hot white sand in a glare like 
that of glacier ice, he heard tales of how they " struck " 
deposits. 

There was Mr. Albertus Vogt, tall, grizzled, handsome, 
with a hair-trigger temper, but immensely cheerful and 
generous, calling his negro servant " Mem " and talking to his 
horses. Mr. Vogt on the eternal verities was good to hear : 
" Surely, if the Almighty had sense to make the world, 
he's got sense to run it without so many book-keepers. I 
don't hold with bothering him for miscellaneous favours." 
There was Captain Brown, mopping a perspiring face, very 
enthusiastic. " Ah," said he, " no living man knows how 
much of the pure stuff there is under this forest. I mean to 
surfeit Europe with phosphate rock for a hundred years." 
Greatest of all, there was Senator John Dunn, who employed 
the first chemist to make an acid test and bought the first 
option on Dunellan land. 



186 THE MASTER SPINNER 

At Jacksonville the travellers had a characteristic recep- 
tion : 

In an American town the citizens unite to " boom " it, 
to make it felt to attract railways, people and capital. We 
were met by senators, judges, bankers, colonels, merchants 
and reverends in legion, and they all brought their wives 
with them. Our host's family took care that we should not 
escape an introduction to every guest, and every guest 
gave us a cordial welcome to Florida. The ladies said, when 
my lone condition as a bachelor was referred to : " Ah ! 
Is that so ? Well, Mr. Smith, we must find you a wife 
before you return." The judges, bankers and landed gentry 
talked about the prospects of the States and city, never 
forgetting that America is the greatest country in the world. 

We had shelled oysters a dozen on a plate sandwiches, 
fancy cakes, jellies and fruit. I think champagne was 
served ; but the popular drink was iced lemonade in little 
tumblers. The flow of talk was incessant, and I found that 
beauty lived with kindness ; while our lady was always the 
centre of the most animated group in the party. We had 
music, to which she and I contributed ; the National Anthem 
was sung for us with great enthusiasm ; and there was a 
glowing account of these proceedings in the next day's 
paper. 

That sort of thing was encountered all along. But it 
was neither receptions nor the bizarre appeal of prodigal 
enterprise by which, in the end, a corner of his heart was 
captured for " the greatest country in the world." There 
was, properly speaking, no capture at all, but a gift. He 
gave to nice people here and there his friendship. Even now, 
quite early in the tour, there was a pretty instance on the 
Indian River, where, on a sunny morning, the upper deck 
of a pleasure boat steaming from Rockledge to Kissimee was 
occupied by happy groups. 

Our lady was soon in conversation, taken to people's 
hearts because she spoke with such unqualified praise of 
American women. She joined a group of four who were 
beguiling the time by singing, sotto voce, some glees from 
music-books ; and the rest of us soon joined her. 



MUSIC ON THE INDIAN RIVER 187 

And what delightful harmony they gave us ! These 
ladies, of whom we were privileged to know more later, were 
returning with an older friend from their winter residence 
at one of the little settlements south of Rockledge. Three 
of them were sisters. I think the climate must leave little 
to be desired, for their cheeks bloomed like peaches. The 
American part-songs they sang were new to us, but Harriette 
(Mrs. Brigg) gave a fuller tone to the alto sometimes and I 
grounded them with bass. 

In their enthusiasm they claimed some English songs 
from us ; and the captain, who had joined our party, insisted 
that " this thing should not be done in a corner." He had 
chairs arranged for us, shaded by the deck cabins, and other 
chairs in front for the audience, and his eyes twinkled with 
glee. " Didn't you know," I heard him saying to the 
passengers, " we give a concert on the St. Lucie every morning 
after breakfast ? Come and hear for yourselves." Of all 
the ship's company, our captain, sitting on the bulwark, 
seemed the happiest. After some more American glees 
Harriette sang " The North Country Maid," and he didn't 
think he had ever heard anything that pleased him more. 
I sang " When all the World is Young, Lad." Then Miss 
Russell, the friend of these pretty sisters, gave us a quaint 
and beautiful students' song, " Over the Banister," singing 
perfectly its sweet romance of a " Good Night " and a 
proposal. 

But I could not enumerate the songs we sang, for the 
jolly captain kept us going. " Now what next ? " he would 
say. " Let's have an English song ! " and I gave such old 
favourites as " The Lark now Leaves her Wat'ry Nest " and 
" The White-blossomed Sloe," and we all sang together " Ye 
Banks and Braes," for Burns's lovely song was as familiar to 
these American cousins as to ourselves. 

Our music floated over the shining surface of the river, 
and oarsmen ceased their rowing to listen, and many a signal 
was waved from the houseboats and fishing-craft that gave 
life to a beautiful scene. " Why," he cried at last, " yonder's 
Titusville, and our concert's not half over ! I see nothing 
for it but to put back." And then he made a little speech. 
" Well, my friends, it's not often I have to express regret at 
nearing port, but to-day I am honestly sorry. We have 
had some beautiful singing, and I guess we shall hear the 
echoes of it many a time. I want to ask as a favour just one 
more tune. Let us finish with ' Nearer, my God, to Thee.' " 



188 THE MASTER SPINNER 

So we all joined in the hymn ; and I thought it had 
never sounded so sweetly as that morning, under the open 
canopy of heaven and with the kindly feeling of a hundred 
passengers who were strangers to each other, but of one 
kindred. 

This Indian River captain is a salient figure ; but a 
word in your ear it was Swire Smith who prompted the 
approach to that group of four, singing sotto voce. When he 
met them again, they were friends, and he improved and kept 
their friendship and that of their people. 

The two directors left Florida reassured as to their invest- 
ments. There had, it seems, been nothing nearly so alarming 
to my friend as a rumour of mosquitoes, of which he was 
infinitely more afraid than of air raids in London thirty 
years later. At New Orleans he awoke in a panic, mistaking 
the hum of the cathedral clock. On the other hand he had 
feasted on unnumbered ripe oranges, " from which the 
juice flows as if one had cut an artery." Besides, it was a 
marvellous flowery land. He would never forget its magnolias 
and water lilies. 

He and his fellow travellers, met by Mr. Silliman, now 
set out for Texas. On a long railway journey west, the 
prairie surprised him like the sea or Switzerland. 

We had travelled all the previous day and through the 
night at a speed of thirty or forty miles an hour, coming 
only upon villages far, far away from each other. It was 
somewhere between five and six o'clock in the morning. 

I went into the open at the rear of the car, and saw the 
sun, which had just risen, gilding the pine-tree tops. The 
prairie is said to be monotonous and without interest. It was 
impressing me beyond description by its immensity and 
majesty. Fleecy clouds overhead, where the soft light 
touched them, were flecked and dappled ; the melting 
clouds about the sun were amber and gold. The line by 
which we had journeyed while we slept, dividing the forest, 
dwindled and vanished to nothing. I do not know if I am 
blessed with an undue share of sentiment, and I think not ; 
but I confess that a lump came in my throat and I was deeply 
affected. 



TEXAS LIFE 189 

I think it was the space that impressed me, and the 
quiet beauty of a world that, except for the railway line, had 
hardly been disturbed by man during the ages. Our engine 
and rattling cars appeared to be wakening a sleeping planet. 
Flocks of small birds rose from the dewy grass, the turkey 
buzzard wheeled ahead, prairie chickens whirred like part- 
ridges. And the flowers ! Clusters of blue and yellow and 
crimson, a pattern ever changing and limitless, under the 
glorious day. 

I thought of home and my friends, and I sighed to think 
that they could not see this scene, and realize with me that 
here is a wide continent offering its virgin soil to the gloomy 
and sallow crowds that fill our old-world cities and die for 
lack of space in which to move and of air to breathe. 

Texas was picturesque with human interest. Late as 
it had been to be settled, the cowboy days were almost over. 
Those wilds were being subdued by hardy colonists hastening 
to make the most of the dark soil's fertility. Such men and 
women are good to see ; and our Englishmen, talking with 
them in their shacks or among their clearings, very much as 
if these people had been their own tenants, were heartened by 
their welfare and courage. All promised well for them. 
The value of these lands must rise, for it was ten times lower 
than that of lands in the older States. Foreclosures were 
scarcely known here. 

Now and then an old hunter, carrier, scout or Indian 
fighter told how things had changed. 

Mr. Jewett's age was 54, and I would not desire to see a 
finer man. He said that he was one of a party of ten trappers 
who in 1858 took their wagons out west where white men 
had never been before, 1,300 miles, and hunted buffalo and 
dug for gold in Colorado. 

A man named Denver was chosen as their leader, and 
one evening they pitched their camp and said, " Here we 
will found a city, and we'll call it Denver." They secured 
160 acres of land each, free on condition that they would 
farm it, and wrote letters to the eastern papers describing 
the paradise they had found. Mr. Jewett made himself a 
carrier and merchant. He crossed the prairies, mountains, 



190 THE MASTER SPINNER 

forests, rivers and swamps of that 1,300 miles in all sorts of 
weather, daring the Indians, the backwoodsmen, and, what 
was worse, the terrible blizzards of winter and the cyclones. 
He was often in peril of starvation. Yet he made that 
immense journey forty-six times, taking to the eastern cities 
gold, hides and horns, and bringing back clothing, tools and 
provisions. 

He kept his 160 acres of land till 1864, and then, as he 
wanted money, he was glad to unload for $2,400. They 
would now be worth $500,000. People had often said to 
him as if he had not done his best in the circumstances 
" Why did you sell ? " He could only reply, " Why didn't 
you buy ? " 

Oh, for dollars to buy good land in Texas ! At Fort 
Worth, Henrietta, Dallas, Waco, San Antonio, Austin and 
many a smaller centre there was busy enterprise and hope, 
and there were men who had made fortunes. But the 
travellers were lenders, not buyers ; and, after all, when a 
new city fails to " make good," fortunes are lost. 

It was sufficient to leave Texas, like Florida, without 
misgivings. It emboldened Swire Smith to take his com- 
panions on by way of Kansas City to Chicago, Boston and 
Philadelphia, there to improve acquaintances made on his 
former tour, to see his friends the Dobsons, and in Chicago 
to find a welcome from those Indian River ladies and their 
parents, whose name was Hartwell. The trio even pushed 
out to Montreal and Toronto. 

But what a load of responsibilities remained, to be carried 
by a man of business who shirked none ! Already there had 
been a change in him, due, I imagine, to this accumulation. 
He found reading difficult. In going out he had tried Steven- 
son's Treasure Island and thought it good ; but he notes 
with some bewilderment that, however excellent a book 
may be, he cannot take an interest in it for more than an 
hour at one sitting. A bad symptom ; he could hardly 
acquire new ideas. The business habit of mind made con- 
centration on his own ideas easy, but not on those of other 
men. I find this letter of Prince Kropotkin's : 



PELION ON OSSA 191 

17, ROSBOROUGH ROAD, HARROW, 
April 10, 1888. 

DEAR SIR, Please receive my very best thanks for the 
pamphlet on the Technical Education Bill which reached me 
to-day. I am so sorry not to have had a knowledge of your 
paper when I was reading the proofs of my Nineteenth Century 
article ; otherwise I should not have failed to reinforce my 
argument by the authority of yours. 

But is it not striking to see that all the basis of your 
conclusions foreign competition has been so carefully 
avoided in the discussion ? 

As to technical education, I watch with the greatest 
interest the movement which is going on in this country 
in that direction. But technical education, I am afraid, will 
not help Britain to regain her former position. Everywhere 
even in my own country efforts are made for spreading it. 
It will be a boon for humanity, not an arm in what they call 
the struggle for existence, understanding by that struggle 
a real struggle, not a co-operation of nations for achieving 
the greatest possible welfare of humanity. 

Believe me, dear Sir, yours very truly, 

P. KROPOTKIN. 

I am sure that this letter, with its hint of a wider point 
of view than my friend's own, perplexed him. He did not 
reply. Yet, as a free trader, he believed the struggle to be 
part of that very co-operation, and only had not thought 
this out. 

He was piling Pelion on Ossa. No matter that the labour 
of mortgage bank correspondence fell to Mr. Brigg (who had 
retired from business) : he set about the American notes, 
from which I have quoted, as if to make a book. The post 
brought countless offers of directorships, requests from 
American friends to float this and that venture, snares from 
which he escaped only at the cost of much letter-writing. 
Nor could he leave his friend without help. When Florida 
loans were found to have been granted on freer terms than 
Texas loans, he had to write " This must not be " ; and, as 
always, he wrote copiously. There was treble reason now 
to decline Parliament, though invitations came from Don- 



192 THE MASTER SPINNER 

caster, Central Hull and East Bradford, after a general 
inquiry from Mr. Henry Broadhurst, M.P., who thought he 
might represent both Liberalism and Labour. He had 
already resigned from the school board and some other 
bodies. 

The top was piled on Pelion when Mr. Brigg required 
help in founding the Florida Syndicate, to work phosphate 
rock on 77,000 acres of Senator Dunn's lands, which were 
offered cheap. They founded it, even when money was 
" tight " ; but their own holdings were heavier than either 
had intended, and the toil was prodigious. His splendid 
health ran down, and for the first time, in February of 1892, 
he was confined to the house. It did so although he had 
not neglected holidays, but with younger men again had 
climbed the Unter Sabelhorn and the Dom ; and a bad 
attack of bronchitis alarmed him. 

The sequel was another visit to Florida in March, for six 
weeks. It need not be described, being a business visit of 
inspection and consultation. However, it was important 
not only as such determining what ought to be done with 
the new property, and leading, besides, to the purchase of 
a sort of Riviera site on Jupiter Island but important 
because, on the return trip, he made the acquaintance of 
Mr. and Mrs. Carnegie and his sister-in-law, Miss Whitfield, 
people with whom Swire Smith was to be intimate. 

Like many another, this acquaintance was sought. 
Nothing, after all, interested him more than men and women, 
and if they were persons of character and achievement he 
might take pains to know them. On a voyage he made a 
practice of looking down the passenger list and selected his 
quarry, as many people do with less eclecticism and good 
sense. In going out he had read up Little Lord Fauntleroy, 
with a view to a chat with Mrs. Hodgson Burnett ; then, 
by some casual act of politeness or sociability, he had found 
means to introduce himself. Returning by way of Phila- 
delphia to look up friends, he had procured introductions to 
Mr. Antony Drexel and Mr. G. W Childs, finding them well 



A DUET 193 

pleased to show him their establishments. In the case of 
Mr. Carnegie, when he came to look at Triumphant Democracy 
there was in that book much that appealed to his own tem- 
perament and outlook, and made him aware of the Pittsburg 
magnate's warmth. 

A touch of humour marked the upshot. His own note 
reads baldly : " Introduced myself to Mr. Carnegie, and had 
a long walk with him and his wife. Talked of John Bright. 
He thinks that John Morley is the one man to write Bright's 
life." Mr. John Brigg, junior, who was Swire Smith's com- 
panion on this trip, as he had twice been in Switzerland, 
says : " Before the first evening was over Swire had him 
singing with him ' Willie Brewed a Peck o' Maut ' over their 
milk and soda, although, as he confided to me, Carnegie 
couldn't sing a note." 

And they were both teetotallers ! 



13 



CHAPTER XII 

Swire Smith as a story-teller The load of hay The breeches " Holdin' 
your own " Ratting The gloomy farmer " It's an old un " 
Going home from market Dean Lefroy and the Rev. Newman Hall 
Some sayings from a commonplace book. 

THIS is the picture of a man on pleasant terms with his 
fellow-creatures ; and yet, in relating events, I have 
passed lightly over one of the pleasantest signs in such 
a man. His dramatic faculty made Swire Smith a great 
story-teller. 

Something must be said about his characteristic stories, 
although they cannot be enjoyed as if heard from his own 
lips, told with the breezy and offhand cheerfulness that put 
his listeners in humour. For, in a very valid sense, they 
were his own ; that is to say, though not invented by him, 
they had his recognizable imprint and showed the play of 
his mind. He had found the best of them neither in books 
nor in smoke-rooms. Racy tales of Yorkshire character and 
life, they had been told by his father or by other humorists 
of that exorable and laughter-loving race from which he 
sprang ; and he remembered them because he loved the role 
of entertainer, and, as the years passed, because he found 
them useful as fables. He could either keep a table merry 
or point a speech with them. 

At election times, people were sure of good fun when 
Swire Smith was called upon to speak ; and his fun was 
nearly always part of the argument. 

There was a typical instance, when Mr. Chamberlain 
declared on a sudden for colonial preference, and embarrassed 
Mr. Balfour. The moment was one at which they led allied 
parties that were independent of each other ; and Swire 

194 



I 

ELECTION TALES 195 

Smith suggested that Mr. Chamberlain would be sorry for 
his precipitancy, " like the farmer's lad that upset a load of 
hay in a lane." The lad appealed for help to another farmer, 
who gave him some dinner before lending a hand, and found 
him strangely slow to eat it. " Come, thou'rt makkin' 
poorly out," said this friend in need : " what's wrang 
wi't ? " and the lad answered, " Nowght. But mi father'll 
be mad." There was never such a thankless lad sat down 
at table ; he would hardly wait for pudding, and kindness 
only made him cry. " I know he'll be mad," said he, trying 
to get away to him. The farmer lost patience. " I think 
thou'rt varry soft," he said ; " I've known thi father all his 
life, and a quieter man I never met. Finish that puddin'." 
And then the boy broke down completely, and was asked, 
" Wheere is thi father ? " " He's he's under th' hay ! " 
. . Like Mr. Balfour. 

Or take the story of a reckless young fellow who found 
half a sovereign in a trousers pocket, when he thought there 
was nothing left. He came home " unco' happy," having 
royally spent it, and in reply to long-faced questions told his 
luck. " And, by gow," said he, " we've had a reight blow- 
out. We'd beef ; an' chicken ; an' ham an' eggs ; I doan't 
knaw what we didn't hev an' summat to wesh it down 
wi'. Grandest bit o' luck I've hed for mony a week." His 
father stared hard. " Here ! " he started up. " What's 
ta been doin' ? Thou's getten my breeches on ! " In a 
speech on Tory expenditure this went very well. 

And such stories were never told ad captandum vulgus ; 
no party man was ever much more diligent than Swire Smith 
in working up a brief at election times. Before he spoke, he 
had been at his desk making analytical notes of opponents' 
speeches ; they were to be answered point by point, anxiously, 
like a case at law. The occupation was a habit, and he 
took pleasure in it. But those laugh that win, and, after all, 
the Liberal party had little to fear in the North West Riding. 
Telling blithe stories, he seemed to say so. 

There was a popular one about a shy country courtship, 



196 THE MASTER SPINNER 

a story of which the only relevance was in the last word. 
The couple had been walking out for years, and the young 
man " got no forrarder." " I don't know how it is," said a 
flagrant bachelor, " but we're all a bit awkward at first. He 
hadn't a word to say for himself. Just think of it a nice 
affectionate girl, and I daresay they'd walked many a mile. 
Talk of the patience of Job ah, we never know, none of us. 
But one night they sat down on a bank, and the moon was 
shining, and somehow he ventured to put his arm round her, 
and she let him do it. So in a while he said, ' Mary ? ' 
' Yes, John/ ' Do yo' think I'm makkin' progress ? ' " The 
coy, drawling reply, being mimicked shamelessly, brought 
down the house : " She looked up into his eyes just for a 
moment, you know and she said, * Ay ; yo're holdin' your 
own.' " 

I cannot recall the occasion, but it was one of those 
junctures common in politics when one thing is wanted 
and another offered. He stated the alternatives and shook 
his head. " It won't do. It reminds me of the parson who 
didn't like to see a man out with two dogs ' Surely, my 
man,' he said, ' two pigs would be better for you.' ' And a 
bonnie fool / should look/ said the man, ' goin' rattin' wi' 
two pigs ! ' 

Most of us remember that, when the powers of the House 
of Lords were to be curtailed, Liberal hopes ran high. The 
Home Rule Bill was to pass, and the way to be cleared for 
many a blocked reform. Swire Smith's hopes ran higher 
than most men's. " They don't like it," he said. " Even 
the wisest legislation can't be expected to please everybody. 
When wet weather came at the right time, the farmer said, 
' This rain'll fair lift things out o't' ground.' But his friend 
looked glum. ' I hope not ! ' says he ; 'I've three wives 
buried i' yon cemetery ! ' " 

The homelier the tale, the better. As a free trader, he 
had to argue against a succession of attempts to revive 
protection, introduced in each case under a new name 
retaliation, fair trade, colonial preference. He met them 



COMING HOME FROM MARKET 197 

with many hard facts and one story. A boy had been 
taken upstairs by his father to see the new baby. " It has 
no hair," he said as he looked it over, and then " Father, it's 
no teeth- ! " They thought it a fine child, but he knew better. 
" Father, ye've been done this time," said the boy ; " it's 
an old un." 

But of his homely tales, one of the best had no political 
application that I know of, althought it may have served 
the turn of women's suffrage. It was about a farmer who 
had spent his day in the market town, and who felt, as he 
climbed into his dogcart, that he had quite possibly for- 
gotten something. " Let's see," he said to himself. " There's 
an ounce o' bacca an' a hie ! stone o' Hindia corn an' 
a muckfork ay ; I hev 'em. An' some snuff for t' gron- 
mother. . . . Hie ! Come, I think that's all. Gee up, 
mare ! " But he had a long way to go, and the misgiving 
haunted him. Outside the town he stopped to look under the 
seat and behind him, and to go through his pockets. He 
said : " Damn, I doan't feel reight ! But theere's t' muck- 
fork an' t' hencorn and I've snuff, an' bacca. What else 
beside ? . . . Well, it's too lat' now, an' I care nowght ! 
Fol-de-rol-iddle-O ! " He drove into the fold singing, and 
his daughter came out to meet him. " Eh, father ! " she 
said, " whatever hae yo' done wi' mother ? " 

Swire Smith's humour played upon everything he had to 
do with or think about, so that he could never talk like Sir 
Oracle, or become either a crotchety person or a bigot, or 
be caught by superstitious follies, or in any way go to 
extremes. For example, being a teetotaller, he spoke more 
than once at temperance meetings ; but he could tell with 
great relish the story of the Scotch barber who cut the 
minister's chin. " It's the drink, Sandy," said the minister. 
" Ah, weel," said Sandy, " it niaks the skin varra tender." 
So with matters of sentiment, such as love and religion. 

There are very respectful descriptions of negro services 
in the second American tour, as there had been of revivalist 
scenes in Keighley when he was thirty ; but, for his own 



198 THE MASTER SPINNER 

part, he was not pietistic. His only real creed was that a 
man must do his duty in life. That was vital ; and so, being 
at Zermatt in August 1891, he records this conversation : 

I was seated opposite the Rev. Newman Hall and next 
to Dean Lefroy at the Riffel Alp Hotel, and Dr. Hall related 
in sensational language the trip of a steam launch above 
Niagara. It is a trip made daily. But he said that, sailing 
down from Buffalo, the launch got into the current of the 
Falls. It slackened speed, and yet they went down stream 
at a great rate. The engine was stopped altogether, but 
their pace did not abate ; and, looking ahead, he saw that the 
water had, as it were, fallen away. It was an awful moment. 
But the helm was put to larboard or to port, the engine 
started full speed, and the gallant little craft, quivering 
with the effort, gained a creek in view of the final rapids. 

" Were you very much afraid ? " I asked. 

" No," he replied, " I do not know that I was. I trusted 
in Providence." 

" Ah ! " said Dean Lefroy with some relief, and said no 
more. 

" But," I continued, " if anything had gone wrong with 
the engines or the steering gear, your trust in Providence 
wouldn't have saved you from destruction." 

Mrs. Hall frowned, and so did the Doctor. " I trusted 
in Providence," said he. 

I felt rather wicked, and a story came to my mind. I 
said, " Did you ever hear of the bishop crossing the Atlantic 
in one of the Cunard ships, who made that his text one Sunday 
in the saloon ? The captain was present and seemed much 
impressed. That night a really terrible storm arose, and 
people who were alarmed begged the bishop to find out for 
them what was the actual danger. The captain said, " Well, 
my Lord, I've done all I can for you. This is a case for 
putting trust in Providence." " Good heavens ! " said the 
bishop. " Is it as bad as that ? " 

I looked slyly at my clerical friends, but they did not 
see where the laugh came in. Others did. 

Though he had stories by the hundred, I doubt if he 
ever remembered one well that had not appealed, however 
lightly, to his common sense and eye for human nature. 



COMMONPLACE BOOKS 199 

However, the frivolous ones might come at call, and no one 
trying a match with him found the end of his stock. That 
stock was surprising. 

The surprise alters for myself, as I see what pains he 
took with it, and with everything else. The stories were all 
written up in commonplace books, and even titled and 
indexed. I wish it were possible, with a biography, to include 
the contents of these commonplace books passages of rare 
beauty from the poets, great sayings, the store of a balanced 
and well-furnished mind. Mr. E. V. Lucas would admire 
them. The books were kept and filled for use, whether with 
tales or nobler matter. The uses made of them might 
either be important, as in public speeches, or more commonly 
far familiar and gracious, as when he had gifts to make, or 
a toast to propose, or some nice letter to write. His friends 
knew him by these attentions 

Little kindnesses 
Which most leave undone, or despise. 

The diligent labour of collection only served, however, 
to help a good memory ; and as with stories, so with quota- 
tions from favourite poets, he found them at call. " Many 
have been the delightful contests we had in capping each 
other," says Mr. Mallalieu, M.P., who knew him later ; and 
I have myself heard him recite whole speeches from Shake- 
speare with a fine verve on some casual provocation. 
But, from these private anthologies, I may at any rate give 
a few excerpts, chosen because they show his mind. 

The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart. 
Meng-tse. 

Look up and not down ; look forward and not back ; 
look out and not in ; lend a hand. Optimistic Club, Cincinnati. 

It is a good thing to be rich and a good thing to be strong. 
But it is a better thing to be beloved of many friends. 
Epictetus. 

Do not think of your faults, still less of others' faults ; look 
for what is good and strong and try to imitate it ; your 



200 THE MASTER SPINNER 

faults will drop off like dead leaves when their time comes. 
Ruskin. 

Elevate the race : the great men will find themselves. 
(Who said this ?) 

Happy is the man who gets his punishment on the spot. 
George Meredith. 

I therefore turn my clouds about, 
And always wear them inside out 
To show the lining. 

Ellen Thornycroft Fowler. 

These were sayings jotted down because they expressed 
his practice or belief, as the case might be ; and with them 
there are many that show his love of music, women and 
country. 



CHAPTER XIII 

A Dream of Jupiter Island Mr. Carnegie's theology News of the Pitts- 
burg riots Edward Atkinson Governor Hogg of Austin, Texas 
The Mortgage Bank Anxiety of a good angel A four-in-hand jaunt 
Steeton Manor Florida " an old-age pension " Grave irregu- 
larities Mark Twain talks Disaster. 

MRS. SILLIMAN, proud of her English relative, had 
prophesied that he would find a rich wife in 
America and settle there ; and she said that her 
prophecies all came true. He knew better. But America 
had taken hold on his imagination. It appealed to his 
imagination, I think, as much as to his interest. 

There was, for example, that piece of lovely foreshore in 
the transatlantic Riviera, on Jupiter Island, which might be 
purchased if no time were lost, and which, it seemed, was the 
last bit of good land left wild along a balmy coast of pleasure- 
seekers. There should be a fine hotel there. What unsur- 
passable bathing, and what fragrant shade ! Mr. Silliman, 
who had proved a Wiseman in fact, held an option over it ; 
and the thought of some day seeing a happy group of friends 
on Jupiter Island, and making holiday with them, had caught 
my friend's fancy. Why not hold the site and prepare it ? 
On a littoral where the surplus wealth of the great northern 
cities was poured out freely, that would be no great business 
for a company. He had a quotation for the hotel portico ; it 
should be Thomas Moore's verse, much in his mind, because 
Mrs. McLaren, in her brave old age, had sent it for a New 
Year greeting : 

The happy, grateful spirit that improves 
And brightens every gift by fortune given ; 

That wanders where it will with those it loves, 
Makes every place a home, and home a heaven. 

201 



202 THE MASTER SPINNER 

In all this enlargement of life, with its burdensome 
sequel, that play of imagination was not the snare. Imagina- 
tion never blinded Swire Smith to facts if they were calculable, 
nor bemused him to omit precautions. The burden itself, 
as time showed, was not greater than he and a loyal friend 
knew how to carry. But hitherto he had delegated no 
responsibility. While now shirking none, he could not 
exclude a principle of joint stock management. The snare 
lay in that. Enterprise at such a distance and on such a 
scale is, after all, foreign to the strictly personal ideal of public 
service. It demands that all who share in it shall be guided, 
with their consent or without it, by that ideal a demand 
that states the master problem of our times. 

A man of heroic temper was trying to impose his ideal as 
if it were common. He had come, as a master spinner, to lead 
his own people in the strength of it ; he had then taken up 
joint stock management by a sort of accident, staking both 
the ideal and the leadership in a great-hearted way. And one 
enterprise brought on another. 

The burden had its compensations, personal always. 
One of these lay to his hand on returning to Keighley. Mr. 
Holden (soon afterwards Sir Isaac Holden), his fellow manu- 
facturer and senior friend of years, had become the first 
member for the Keighley Division ; and he was not only a 
shareholder in most of these ventures, but a man to whom 
Swire Smith owed much kindness. So did many others. He 
was quite widely honoured for a good and simple life, as well 
as for inventions connected with spinning and for a generous 
use of money. Swire Smith had found in Mr. Carnegie a 
man of the same quality who wished to meet him, and he 
brought them together at once. 

It was a meeting of equals. Mr. Carnegie had not yet 
grown rich beyond the dreams of avarice. It took place at 
Sunningdale, and pleasantly forged a new link in the friend- 
ship made on board ship ; so that the Carnegies were not con- 
tent until Mr. Smith, too, had been entertained by them. 
Their return visit to Oakworth House (with excursions to 



THE PITTSBURG RIOTS 203 

Keighley and Haworth) was followed, in July of 1892, by a 
stay on the part of both Yorkshiremen at Rannoch Lodge. 

He seems to have listened respectfully to his elders, 
greater men. By this time already, all three knew something 
of each other's interests and notions, but there were yet 
surprising things to be recorded of Mr. Carnegie. 

Mr. C. does not believe in the Trinity, and doesn't hesitate 
to say so. He will be honest, even as to his beliefs. The 
Almighty as revealed in the Old Testament is diabolical. 
Christ is a beautiful character, but as the Son of God im- 
possible. (Mr. Holden agreed.) He does not say that 
there isn't a God ; there may be a Supreme Being who can 
give immortality to man, but as yet he has not revealed 
Himself. 

On Protection he takes the line that every nation has 
protected its infant industries, and it was wise to do so. He 
would cease to protect when strong enough, protecting least 
the material representing least labour, first freeing raw 
materials and going upwards. 

To-night (July 24, 1892) he was in good spirits, dis- 
coursing on some subtle points in Burns's poems and quoting 
them much to our enjoyment, when Malcolm brought in five 
telegrams (from Kinloch Rannoch eleven miles). " Good- 
ness ! " said Mr. C., seizing them and going to the light : 
" what can this mean ? " He tore them open and dropped 
the envelopes ; Mrs. C. also came to his side. 

" Ah ! " said he. " I feared this " ; and Mrs. C. began 
to read that Frick had been shot in the office, and stabbed. 
Miss Whitfield and the Misses Lauder sobbed as message 
after message was read out. One was from Frick to say that 
his wounds were not very serious, and that on no account 
must Mr. C. return, he could direct proceedings from his 
room. Mr. C. did not say much. He had feared that some 
crank might try to murder Frick, why had he not been 
protected ? Mr. Holden and I did our best to lighten the 
gloom, but he was evidently cut to the heart. 

Next morning. He said to me that he had known nothing 
of the Pinkerton men ; that whole business had been a com- 
plete surprise to him. He had also known nothing of the 
firm's refusal to employ union men ; he fully recognizes 
the legality and justice of trade unions, and his article on the 



204 THE MASTER SPINNER 

subject is probably as good and fair as anything written. 
Had he been there, he would have met the men and offered 
arbitration. 

Of course he and his colleagues will now have to fight the 
battle through, which he will do, unhesitatingly sharing the 
responsibility of their actions. 

Reassuring cables followed, so that it was possible for 
the guests to enjoy themselves. They walked and drove. 
They fished for trout, and the ladies made al fresco tea for 
them, and in the evenings there were Scotch songs and such 
games as Halma and " Authors." Once Mr. Carnegie 
recited ; another time he took them aside to hear some 
chapters of his new book on capital and labour. His partners, 
Mr. Harry Phipps and Mr. George Lauder, arrived from 
Kneb worth and Dunfermline, but " seemed to view the 
situation with great calmness and fortitude, not being in a 
position to criticize men on the spot who were doing their 
best." Other guests came and went, not interrupting the 
run of amusements. 

In such an atmosphere and amid delightful scenery, 
Swire Smith found himself very much at home ; he heard no 
conversation that did not interest him, and he could swap 
Edwin Waugh with Burns and his English songs with Scotch 
ones. The ladies of the party, Mrs. Carnegie, Miss Whitfield, 
the Misses Eliza and Annie Lauder, a Miss Graham of Wolver- 
hampton, were unaffected and agreeable ; the men, of his own 
calibre. Above all, his host and hostess were plain people, 
proud of their origins, like himself, and cherishing the same 
tastes and homely sensibilities. It was that pride and those 
lovable sensibilities which made it natural that, after amass- 
ing wealth at Pittsburg, Andrew Carnegie should come back 
to his own country. 

Another compensation for anxieties was the visit paid to 
himself by that brilliant Boston publicist, Mr. Edward 
Atkinson, staying with his daughters at Ilkley. These were 
pleasant guests. He arranged a picnic to Bolton Abbey 
in their honour, and on a summer afternoon led them over 



FLORIDA PLANS 205 

the Bronte country. No writer on economics had had more 
influence with him. His copy of Taxation and Work is 
pencilled on almost every margin ; and when that book 
appeared, a few months later, he wrote that in his opinion 
it was a really great one. 

The power of your analysis has greatly humbled me, by 
demonstrating how very elementary is my knowledge of the 
subjects with which you deal. I suppose it is impossible 
that such a book should reach any large proportion of the 
masses ; but thinking men will see it, and I am sure it will 
carry conviction to those not blinded by prejudice or warped 
by self-interest. 

The trade of Bradford was so largely American that the 
tariff acted like a bombardment, and several firms tottering 
from other causes were overthrown. But I think we have 
seen the worst of McKinleyism. 

His own firm, however, had lost 3,000 in bad debts, and 
not only his brother-in-law, Mr. Lupton, but the great 
establishment of Sir Titus Salt and Sons at Saltaire had gone 
down. True, the careful conduct of his business, in the mill 
and on the market, kept it sound against all odds. But it 
was now that he had to get phosphates mined for the Florida 
Syndicate, and that he founded for Jupiter Island the Indian 
River Association. Mr. Brigg could not take these matters 
over. He himself was the only English director who had 
visited the phosphate lands, or had seen the group of 
properties which the new Association bought. 

By incessant urging, he caused two sites to be worked for 
sample phosphates by contractors, and showed that the 
syndicate was not one of those wildcat schemes by which 
Florida had been disparaged. By means of interviews and 
letters he got the Association together. Hopes undoubtedly 
ran high. For four years the Land Mortgage Bank of Texas 
had paid 10 per cent., putting away 60,000 as a reserve. 
The Florida Bank, in its third year, had paid the same dividend 
and was issuing new shares at a premium, with an eye to 
its reserve also. If close management could only be enforced 



206 THE MASTER SPINNER 

from England, he and his punctilious ally might believe 
with a good conscience that 1,250,000 of Yorkshire capital 
had been well invested. 

Early next year he was again in America for nearly 
three months. People said, " Swire looks on the bright side 
too much " ; but now three men of a standing equal with 
his own went with him, who would surely satisfy the croakers. 
They were Sir J. C. Horsfall, Sir Prince Smith, and Mr. William 
Sugden of Cullingworth, large investors still untitled like 
himself, but formidable. 

Two untoward things had happened : the sample phos- 
phates that came to hand had been mixed, and the Indian 
River Association had been disappointed of certain bonds 
which, with the rest, it was formed to acquire. Small annoy- 
ances. With such men to share responsibility, he found the 
trip an unqualified pleasure ; for it gave pleasure to them, 
confirming his report and showing them his American friends. 
All the same, this trip is touched with a mordant humour. 
Although the bolder spirits they moved among exploiters 
and builders of a young country were men who, like them, 
went to church on Sundays, kept a social rank and carried 
on traditions, there were contrasts. 

Mr. Stieff said, " Are you a fair sample of Keighley men, 
so shy and so reserved ? " I answered, " Yes." " Then 
God help the balance." 

At Austin Mr. Wooldridge went with us to the Capitol, 
and we were introduced to several members of the House 
of Representatives and Senate. They smoke and sit in shirt 
sleeves, with their feet on the desks. 

Had a long and pleasant interview with Governor Hogg. 
He said, " Walk in, I'm glad to see you. I'd have been here 
earlier, but I've been to what we Americans call a tooth 
carpenter, and he has put a pine wedge between two of my 
teeth." As we went from his secretary's room to a lift in 
the hall, adjourning to his parlour, we passed an orange 
stall and he said, " Put me up a few oranges." On entering 
the parlour he turned them out on to a table and rolled or 
threw one to each of us. " Have an orange," said he. We 
then talked of Texas and land laws. 



YORKSHIRE AND TEXAS 207 

Their manners differed, but on business and religion they 
consorted like brothers, though, to be sure, business was the 
stricter bond. In regard to phosphates, low prices must 
in any case have made it so. A farmer was remembered who 
had built his house of phosphate rock at unawares, complain- 
ing that his land was stony ; but now 

Mr. Wells, who is trying to control the output, said that 
many companies were like the water turtle whose head was 
shot off by an Irishman and it still moved. " Ah, sure," he 
said, " it's dead but it doesn't know it." 

The plenipotentiaries made a firm arrangement for work- 
ing phosphates ; they provided for the sale of Indian River 
and other sites on commission, and the planting of ten acres 
with pineapples ; and they bargained with a railway promoter. 

What interest there was in all their verifications, keen 
estimates, precautions ! What solid satisfaction in the 
Texas venture, with its archives at Fort Worth ! Of 2,176 
mortgages 500 had been already paid off, and three-fifths of 
these out of savings ; while farms on which they were granted 
had increased in value by from 10 to 100 per cent., as sales 
proved. In this partnership of Texas and Yorkshire there 
was something grandiose ; the letter-books of the bank 
filled 49 volumes of 1,500 letters each, and signified a rigid 
system. In a vault, there were insurance policies and 
copies of all the deeds sent to England. How much better 
it was, under this system, that men should be helped to farm 
their own land, than that they should become mere tenants, 
paying to their more fortunate fellows (as some did) a third 
of their hard-won crops ! That was dignified by the illusive 
name of " share farming." 

Governor Hogg said : "If you find a rogue, a land- 
grabber, a man who won't work and earn his living honestly, 
that man is against me. He knows I'll give him no quarter. 
Some of the railway companies are not honest. They've 
robbed the State, and they hate me. I am determined to 
stop thieving." 



208 THE MASTER SPINNER 

It was good to hear such talk ; their withers were not 
wrung by it. 

Of the interest taken by Swire Smith in the United States, 
his investments were not more the cause than the effect. 
He had read its history, followed its economic life closely, 
mastered some of its problems in politics and trade, seen 
the best of its schools, visited its scenes of greatest enter- 
prise and all with as much attention as he gave to details 
in Texas and Florida. Whether his colleagues had liked it 
or not, they would have had to go north and see the great 
cities. Captain Wingate gave them shooting at Gulf Ham- 
mock, and he was a fair shot ; they rode in buggies delight- 
fully, and he loved a good horse ; they sailed the rivers, with 
what diversions you are aware ; they serenaded friends. 
But all that was incidental, and treated as a prelude to 
greater things. 

It is proper to expose a secret of this animation. The reader 
must understand why, with all Sir Swire Smith's humour and 
charm, it was at bottom serious ; why there was nothing 
in it to divert him from the main chance ; why it amounted, 
after all, to a bustling interest in things extremely practical, 
so that, however cheerfully, he had many irons in the fire. 
The mot d'enigme is important. It is that, as I have said 
once before, he could not think of business apart from life, 
so that business itself appeared to him romantic, as life did. 
Instead of merely asking, " How do I stand ? " he was keen 
to know how it affected everybody. No secret could be 
much simpler ; but, having it in mind, one may appreciate 
his reflections. 

By making food cheaper, an improved harvest enables 
the people to use money for other purchases. The man 
who breaks up the land and makes wheat grow is more useful 
than the man who discovers a gold mine. 

The effect of our loans to American farmers is to cheapen 
food and clothing, by enabling men to get out of the soil 
what would otherwise remain in it. They have been able 
to offer much more of their corn, cotton, etc., in exchange 



ANXIETY OF A GOOD ANGEL 209 

for manufactures and all other labour. Cheapness of food and 
clothing is equivalent to a rise of wages. Thus they have 
not only taken more manufactures, etc., but the develop- 
ment of their land in Texas and Florida has, in effect, raised 
wages in England, in so far as it has enabled English people 
to buy corn and cotton for less money. 

The American farmer is the wealth-maker of the nation, 
and the hardest worker. 

In short, business properly managed was a means of doing 
good. 

It is a conception so rarely found in a promoter of com- 
panies that even his good angel might look on with anxiety. 
It was her own ; good angels can admit no other. The world 
will not be happy without it. True, the man who cannot 
think of business apart from life must be very sure that he 
sees life largely, and sees it whole : for he cannot think of 
life apart from business. But that, as I conceive, was not 
her cause of care. To enforce the brave conception on such 
a scale, my friend might need more strength than she could 
arm him with ; to fail would need courage. But of this 
good angels have enough and to spare. 

He came home to huge arrears of correspondence and other 
work, and found that English investors had been scared so 
badly by the failure of some large banks in Australia, and of 
a big American company, that, with one accord, they but- 
toned up their pockets. The mortgage banks, in spite of 
paying well, must wait for more capital. Debentures falling 
due for repayment were sometimes not renewed, and had 
to be taken up. Financial scares are like bad weather, there 
is no help for them ; so he was glad of his mill, and only 
wished he had the means to buy wool freely for a rise that 
he saw coming. 

A small honour awaited him. He was made a Justice of 
the Peace at Mr. John Brigg's instance (Mr. Brigg being 
chairman of the local Bench), and took it dutifully. His 
letter to that gentleman said : 

I am sure you have been personally at much trouble in 

14 



210 THE MASTER SPINNER 

obtaining this distinction for me, and for your efforts I can- 
not too much thank you. But you have always been good 
to me, far beyond my deserts. This new dignity and the 
work that it involves ill accord with my natural tastes, and 
I am afraid you will find me an inefficient and an inattentive 
colleague. But when real work has to be done you will 
find me at your side. 

To the end of his life, however, Sir Swire avoided trying 
offenders when he could. They were often people known 
to him, for whom his humour made allowances, and to 
punish them gave no satisfaction. His own way was to 
forgive men, simply taking care that he was not bitten 
twice. 

The Carnegies could not see too much of him. That 
June (1893) they were making a four-in-hand journey 
from London to Cluny Castle, and he did not refuse their 
invitation to be of the party. Mr. C. S. Smith, president 
of the New York Chamber of Commerce, with his wife ; 
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Phipps ; Mr. and the Misses Graham 
were other members of it. They had June weather and were 
very jolly. Joining them at Shrewsbury, he was in time for 
a run to Chirk Castle and on to Chester, whence they skipped 
to Kendal by rail and there found the coach again for Bowness. 

June 2jth. A very pleasant dinner party at Chirk. I read 
several sonnets from Wordsworth " Tintern Abbey," etc. 
much appreciated by the ladies. How fond of poetry they 
are, and how much they know ! In this I think they much 
surpass our English ladies. 

June 28th. Called at Hawarden and heard Mrs. Gladstone's 
orphans sing. 

June 2gth. I sat next to Mrs. Carnegie on the delightful 
drive to Bowness, and we had lots of singing. Mr. C. said 
that his firm makes over 1,000,000 tons of pig iron a year, 
and they would think themselves badly off if they did not 
make more than i a ton profit. I gather from other 
sources that his share is 53 per cent. I said, " If you don't 
mind and build more free libraries, you will not be able to 
escape being a rich man." He said, " I have big things 
yet to do at Pittsburg ; but perhaps in a year or two I may 



MR. AND MRS. CARNEGIE 211 

be able to do something." I replied, " We shall be putting 

you alongside the Duke of ." He laughed, and said he 

thought he was in a much better position now. Afterwards 
Mr. Smith said to me that Carnegie told his manager he came 
to England to escape worry. The manager said, " And 
think what we escape." 

Mrs. S. says very funny things sometimes : " I sometimes 
long to be in a ten-acre lot alone, to laugh my fill." A lovely 
evening perfection. 

July yd. Carlisle to Dumfries. We were very merry 
as we touched Scotland, and our songs made the welkin ring. 
Lunched a few miles beyond Annan in a stackyard. The 
farmer's wife had lunch with us, which she enjoyed. At 
Dumfries walked to Burns's house, and monument in the 
church, where there are martyrs buried. " It was here," 
said the sexton, pointing to a seat by a pillar, " that Burns 
sat." " Did he often come ? " asked Mrs. S. 

At dinner C. and S. gave reminiscences. At thirty-three 
C. decided to retire from business, being then worth over 
$250,000, but the offer he had was so good that he took it. 
Of my Irving imitation, Mrs. S. said, " He out-Irvings 
Irving ! " 

July ^th. Lunched in the Duke of Buccleuch's park in 
sight of the castle, our horses on the road with nosebags. 
We sang " Our Country, 'tis of Thee," in honour of the day ; 
then some of our favourites and " Auld Lang Syne." As I 
was about to leave, Mrs. Carnegie struck up " Will Ye no 
Come Back Again ? " An affectionate parting. 



At last he and his brother were building a house, estab- 
lished bachelors. His friends of later years were to know 
this house as Steeton Manor, and to love it for the warmest 
of plain-mannered hospitality. But the first plan was not 
ambitious. 

All he seems to have desired was a place where Sam and 
he might sleep at alternate week-ends when they wanted 
fresh air and quiet. It was built alongside the old farm 
buildings, and he called it a lean-to. Little mattered in 
the day-rooms but an ingle nook and a library. All the 
same, it grew in the hands of the architect and builders, and 
with a solar over the square porch, and long mullioned 



212 THE MASTER SPINNER 

windows, and a parapet recalling Haddon Hall, it came to 
have good architectural pretensions. And the situation was 
superb a knoll backed by the wooded hillside and com- 
manding a lovely wide sweep of Upper Airedale. It was 
three miles out of the town. The skies were not dimmed 
with smoke there, clean winds blew from the moors, and artists 
say that Airedale is the greenest valley in England. More- 
over, he built the house substantially. " It ought to be 
firm and sure," he wrote to a friend, " five hundred years 
from now ; perhaps it will be the only monument " he 
forgot the schools " that I shall leave to posterity." 

But when he asked Mr. Hampden Sugden to draft plans 
for it, his father, hale and sturdy at eighty, proposed to end 
his days at Lowfield, and neither brother thought of leaving 
him. The old man was rare company, and liked that of his 
sons. He put the case with some humour : " Swire and 
Sam's t'maisters i' this house and I do as I like." Even 
at that age he rode daily, and in winter wore no overcoat. 
After eighteen miles in the saddle, going to Skipton market, 
he would be cracking jokes at his club till bedtime. Once 
he was thrown by a mettlesome cob on the highway. He rode 
it home, his face disfigured but all his bones sound, and slept 
as well as usual ; after which he was seen to look at himself 
in the glass. " Well ! " he said : " I'm a bonny beggar ! " 
The fall was another joke. 

As long as he lived to share their lives and interests, Low- 
field must be the home ; and the truth is that Swire Smith 
built, as he invested, for the future. Respice finem. " I 
look on Florida," he said, " as my old-age pension." 

An expert who had been found to put down plant and 
work phosphate gravel for the Syndicate, reported it of 
splendid quality and sent some cargoes. How much of it 
there might be in the 77,000 acres no man knew, and Pro- 
fessor Shayler, of Harvard, said, " If we had to give up iron 
or phosphate, I would say, ' Give up iron/ for we could get on 
better without it." In the worst event, the land bore timber 
worth its purchase money. 



PERIL IN FLORIDA 213 

Nevertheless, it seemed impossible to establish good 
relations with directors on the spot, who failed to observe 
the practice of business men as we know it at home. At 
one time their monthly accounts in the Florida Land Bank 
were three months overdue, and Mr. Brigg pressed in vain for 
either explanations or remittances. The Bank indeed paid 
10 per cent, again, and added 5,000 to its reserve ; but 
conceive the position of its Yorkshire founders, met every 
day by their friends with the inquiry, " How's Florida 
going ? " and unable to answer frankly ! To friends one 
should be able to show letters, confidentially. What anxiety 
they were bound to feel, at a time when business in America 
was held up by the uncertainties of legislation on the silver 
question and the tariff, and good men were being ruined ! 
They could only keep 25,000 idle in London, and hope for 
the best while they multiplied correspondence. Swire 
Smith wrote in a way to quicken the imagination of dull 
minds, yet with perfect temper ; and in February of 
1896, putting aside all other business, he sailed once more, 
with Mr. John Brigg. 

On the very eve of their departure the manager of the 
Indian River Association, being in England, came to tell 
them of irregularities against which he, too, had been fight- 
ing. One man at least, a director in these ventures, was 
involved in heavy speculations. Other directors, his friends, 
appeared to have been less than strict with him. These 
irregularities are not material for the present story, and 
I note only that our travellers took with them, at the 
instance of Mr. Prince Smith, a young Englishman who was 
later to play a part in redeeming things Mr. W. Moore 
Angas, of Darlington. But now began the test of courage. 

Our friends were affectionate in their farewells. My dear 
old father, who was evidently sincere, over and over, and 
with great heartiness, wished me luck. 

Even so, I have the impression that Swire Smith enjoyed 
the voyage in springlike weather. It made him acquainted 



214 THE MASTER SPINNER 

with Mark Twain, for one thing " seemingly a man of sixty ; 
bushy grey hair and moustache ; low collar ; walks with 
a shambling gait." 

I saw Mr. Clemens leaning against the bulwarks, smoking, 
and apologized for introducing myself, I was familiar with 
his friend Andrew Carnegie. He said (as Americans usually 
do), " I'm glad to make your acquaintance," and shook 
hands. 

He travelled through Scotland in the early seventies but 
did not write on it. He had started, in London, to go about 
unknown, and freely write his impressions of cities, hotels, 
railroads and people ; but in three days he became so 
depressed from loneliness that he called on his publishers 
and said it was no use, he must know somebody. From that 
moment he had been so hospitably entertained that he could 
write nothing for whether he criticized or praised he must 
bring in his hosts. Still, he had always thought that he could 
say many things more or less original about England and 
Scotland. 

Had he never had a fling at Ruskin ? Never ; but 
recently, in Florence, he had written some things which, he 
thought, represented his views of R.'s criticism of the Old 
Masters and might be useful and entertaining. His wife 
and daughters wouldn't allow him to publish them. Even 
from the standpoint of a man who knew as little about art 
and architecture as he did, he thought there was plenty to 
be said about Ruskin. 

Speaks slowly, almost with a drawl. He amused me by 
a story of German etiquette, how he once dined at Mr. Phelps's 
with Count Secondorff (or some such name), the household 
representative of the Dowager Empress. He (Twain) was 
chief guest, but he didn't know it ; so when dinner was 
served it was somebody's duty to go first, and they all waited. 
In the end they had to go in in a crowd. At table his place was 
opposite Phelps, and the Count was on Phelps's right ; the 
Count must be chief, he thought. When dinner was over, 
no one would rise. It was awkward. They got into the 
smoke-room, and sat and sat. He was dead tired. So were 
the others. But nobody left, and he felt mad about it ; but 
Phelps said it was all owing to his own stupidity. 

Considers Edward Atkinson one of the most level-headed 
men in America. 



MARK TWAIN AT WORK 215 

There was a little rough weather on the third day out ; and, 
though a fair sailor, he makes the wistful remark, " A few 
small things make all the difference between Mount Pisgah 
and the gloomy wilderness." But he played at quoits, and 
Mark Twain came on deck. 

We walked about till lunch-time, more than two hours. 
He said that when at work he averaged 2,000 words a day 
sometimes less than half that, sometimes 6,000 words or 
more. His wife was his best critic. He believed he was 
the laziest man on record ; but he could work 8, 10 and 12 
hours without effort. Advice : Shut yourself in a room 
lighted only by electric light. But he has written a magazine 
article three times over, not more than one page of the original 
available. Net result eight pages, and you are paid for eight 
pages. Better work on a book. 

Professor Fisk told him at Florence that he went mad 
with overwork, and that he never worked so many hours. 
" But what were you doing ? " " Revising a dictionary in 
Arabic, and confirming my meanings by looking up authori- 
ties." " There's the difference," said Mark. " I only write 
lies that require no confirming." 

In writing a book he has the method in his mind, but does 
not make a skeleton. In preparing a lecture he builds the 
skeleton without any jokes on it and commits it to memory. 
The jokes grow as the lecture is repeated, and at last it is 
ready to be given in the big cities. 

He said Chauncey Depew is great at effects, but is 
America's finest after-dinner speaker. He makes two kinds 
of speeches, and so do all the better orators one carefully 
prepared, every word, for the greatest occasions ; the other 
prepared only in part. Depew contrives to be late, and 
times his appearance to get the best applause. Suppose he 
has carefully prepared a few sentences. He will begin by 
making some allusion to what has been said and conclude 
with those sentences. The audience goes wild with admira- 
tion and says, " How wonderful ! All on the spur of the 
moment." 

Mark Twain was the one writer who could have told the 
story of what had happened in Florida. My friend, face to 
face with it, found the story " terrible." 



216 THE MASTER SPINNER 

His notes contain no judgment on men's acts, as they 
waste no time in regrets and forecasts : he was a general 
coming on the scene to find a breach in the line, with disposi- 
tions to be made instantly, and he made those dispositions. 
Nothing could mitigate the ruin wrought on the orange 
groves of borrowers by a great frost, the effect of which 
seemed to be that, since August, there had been no interest 
paid to the Land Mortgage Bank on loans ; but something 
might be done for the management of the Bank, the Syndicate 
and the Association, in dire peril from graver and avoidable 
causes. The general had, as it were, to supersede subordi- 
nates and at the same time to hold them up for the emergency. 
Subordinates ? They had been equals. Very fortunate in 
the authority he at once assumed, they made no open question 
of it ; and in a few days he had completed masterly arrange- 
ments with legal effect. 

But it was a lost battle. Those arrangements were only 
for a retreat in good order ; and, plan as he might for a rally, 
there was little left for him and his friends but to pay first 
the price of that disaster. 



CHAPTER XIV 

" Terribly cast down " An honourable directorship Sir Isaac Holden 
and gold mining Mr. Morley at Cluny A millionaire pickaback 
The worth of song To Germany again Prince Hermann commends 
a sausage Mr. Carnegie's loan Candour at Liverpool The surprising 
knighthood. 

1 TOUCH lightly on a tragic disillusionment. He out- 
lived it, as his nearest ally did, to be rewarded with 
" all that should accompany old age, as love, honour, 
obedience, troops of friends." But the Florida Land 
Mortgage Bank could not be saved from liquidation. He 
had only secured its assets ; there was no income to meet 
the interest on debentures, and it takes four years to restore 
orange groves killed to the ground. 

Knowing what my friend suffered, I may not be expected 
to copy the restraint with which he spoke and wrote of men 
whose conduct had disappointed him, and who, while ad- 
mitting it, blamed an " act of God." But to judge them is 
beside the purpose. Enough to say that he could not shield 
them, even to save his associates, nor forgive himself his 
own part in the venture. That was an error of judgment, 
and the painfulness of it was that so many friends whom 
he had thought to benefit were hurt by it. "I am terribly 
cast down," he wrote to Mrs. Silliman, " and I don't think 
I shall ever get over it while I live. Since I saw you, I 
have often wished I had never been born." What now shines 
out is the integrity of two men who were hit hardest. 
Their holdings were crushingly heavy. He leaves a note 
on the subject, which is eloquent. 

Ben and I always intended to sell some of our shares, but 
not because we did not consider them safe. The last issue 

217 



218 THE MASTER SPINNER 

was made at 50 per cent, premium, and we might have sold 
then ; but we did not wish to hinder the sale of the company's 
shares. Afterwards we did not offer ours because, seeing 
the financial difficulties of other American companies, we 
determined not to weaken the Florida shares by selling at 
less than 305. 

We could have disposed of them easily at a good profit 
after the frost, but it was out of the question to take advantage 
of any one at that time. 

They saw the trouble through, submitting to reproaches ; 
and I have the honour to show the behaviour of a public 
man who, from this time, served under the great weight of 
his losses, the drawback to his influence, and the claims 
always made upon his vigilance by those American enter- 
prises good and bad. He was at a loss from first to last 
of 60,000, but never ceased to watch over them. 

There was unjust blame to face. Too sorry to contest 
it, he found it bitter, and not so bitter for himself as for 
the blameless friend who had lavished ability in the strict 
conduct of these businesses. True, the two men's integrity 
was known, and those few detractors who were cynical had 
a rebuff when Mr. Brigg was appointed one of the liquidators 
by vote. But they flung angry imputations of neglect, 
incompetence and careless avidity. There had been nothing 
of the sort ; for the irregularities discovered were of such 
a kind as no precautions possible between equals can prevent. 
That was clear enough to men who were not beside them- 
selves. The real imprudence for which every man con- 
cerned had to blame himself more or less frankly consisted 
in sharing the management of a risky and distant enter- 
prise with strangers, however well accredited; and that is 
common. It now ceased ; Mr. Moore Angas took direct 
control in America for the Bank, the Syndicate and the 
Association. But loyal and good servants had to be sacri- 
ficed to a wholesale mistrust, including the very informers. 
My friend wrote to Mr. Angas : 

Not a day passes but I feel that, if I were not bound hand 



AFRICAN GOLD MINING 219 

and foot, I would be by your side in Florida. For some time 
past I have felt like Job of old after he had been delivered 
into Satan's hands, and messengers came and told him of 
his children being murdered, and his barns burnt and des- 
troyed, and all his property taken away. I am afraid that 
I cannot meet nakedness with Job's philosophy and resigna- 
tion. Probably there is no one but Mr. Brigg on whom this 
business hangs, a worry by day and a terrible dream by 
night, so continually as upon me. 

Next month comes a call for the Bank, which means, 
for me and my father and brother, over 11,000 with a 
call for a like amount next year. It comes just as we need 
all the capital we can get for my private business. Our 
new warehouse is completed, and the big accounts come in 
for payment. We have an immense stock, and although 
there are large orders on our books we cannot get our cus- 
tomers to take it. And I am finishing my new house, which 
I must furnish if I am to make use of it. 

What think you, O Angas, of all this ? Is it not enough 
to drive a fellow crazy in face of what has happened, and 
of such further news as you have lately been sending ? 

Well, he was not driven crazy. He did not even change 
his attitude to human nature. Big as the cloud was, he 
" turned it about." I find this characteristic note on a 
talk with Sir Isaac Holden at Oakworth : 

Stanley Brailsford went to South Africa a few years ago, 
looking for a place where he and his family could settle. 
" See what they are doing at Johannesburg," said Sir Isaac. 
(It was 1875.) He gave Brailsford a letter to Mr. Farrer, 
a young engineer, son of the late Dr. Farrer, principal of 
Woodhouse Grove school. Farrer had started at the beginning 
in gold mining in Johannesburg, and knew the country 
well. Brailsford got much information from him, saw every- 
thing and came back enthused. Said Sir Isaac, " What 
you put in I will double." Farrer acted for them and they 
formed a company, in which his London brokers joined, 
with other large financial houses. Then came the Johannes- 
burg panic, and everything went to smash. They held their 
money and waited, while Farrer made investigations. The 
best mines were offered for an old song. They went in and 
bought thousands of lots (a " lot " representing a mining 



220 THE MASTER SPINNER 

plant), and Sir Isaac has a great many founders' shares 
that are worth, I think he said, more than a hundred times 
what he gave for them. 

Man must hope, and the advice to hold on in Florida 
was given not only by Sir Isaac Holden but by Mr. Carnegie. 
Moreover, there was the refreshment of another visit to 
Cluny Castle, where, among pleasant people, he met Mr. 
John Morley. Imagine the almost superstitious solace 
derived from finding these verses (which he promptly copied) 
on the wall of his bedroom there : 

Sleep sweet within this quiet room, 

O thou, whoe'er thou art, 
And let no mournful yesterday 

Disturb thy quiet heart. 

Nor let to-morrow mar thy rest 

With dreams of coming ill : 
Thy Maker is thy changeless friend, 

His love surrounds thee still. 

Forget thyself and all the world, 

Put out each glaring light : 
The stars are watching overhead 

Sleep sweetly, then. Good night. 

That was his comfortable hostess ; and he seems to have 
been so little troubled by forebodings that when, next day, 
he " had a great talk about Florida and Texas," Mr. Morley 
found his conversation " most refreshing," and said it was 
much more interesting to be among such men than with 
certain " swells." Little is recorded of their discussions on 
politics ; only that " Morley liked the Yorkshire members " 
and did not like Mr. Cowan. " Beware," he said, " of those 
fine-speaking men." But they " fought their battles o'er 
again " ; and Swire Smith was as curious as his host about 
schemes for the establishment of international peace, though 
he could never agree with him on tariffs. The battles were 
those of that year's election ; and the Yorkshire members 



\ 

A MILLIONAIRE PICKABACK 221 

included Mr. John Brigg, who sat in Sir Isaac Holden's place 
now, that worthy being an octogenarian. 

One gathers, too, that, getting on in years, three tem- 
perate men were a little vain of their physical fitness, with 
some excuse. In the absence of a gillie, Swire Smith carried 
his host across the Spey ; while Sir Isaac, on returning to 
Keighley, thought little of walking up the steep hill to Oak- 
worth in hot sunshine. Here is the pickaback story : 

Carriage and gillies were a considerable distance down 
the valley and on the other side of the stream. As it seemed 
unnecessary that we should both get wet in crossing a shallow 
stream, I suggested that he should mount on my back and 
I would carry him over. He said this was impossible, 
but I insisted that I could do it, and I would like to be able 
to say that I had carried a millionaire on my back. The 
humour of the situation decided him, and I started off 
quite valiantly. 

I reached the middle of the stream and then my foot 
slipped on a mossy boulder and I wobbled ! Indeed I very 
nearly fell headlong into the water. However, my precious 
burden clutched me tightly, and I managed to regain my 
footing and bear him safely to the other side. It is a saying 
of Mr. Carnegie's that millionaires who laugh are rare : 
on that occasion at least, he was among the rare ones. 

I remember how it baffled the cynics, and disgusted some 
of them, that such losses as those of Florida should seem 
to be taken lightly. While their dismay was fresh, my 
friend gave public addresses on music and on books, con- 
firming mistrust of him. He was always, I think, to be 
esteemed more highly by strangers than by the bulk of his 
townspeople, who supposed great men to be dull, if not sad ; 
but the men disgusted were hostile to culture it diverts 
attention from the work of life, which is to make money. 
He had appealed to this notion in behalf of technical instruc- 
tion : was it accident that in the lecture on music he opposed 
it directly ? 

When it was suggested to one of our most prominent 



222 THE MASTER SPINNER 

citizens that the freedom of Keighley should be conferred 
on Mr. J. T. Carrodus (a native), he said, " What's he done ? 
What brass has he brought into Keighley ? " But what 
is my apology for not knowing French and German ? In 
my youth I gave to singing the time that would have 
made me conversant with languages. Can you give pleasure 
to yourself, and in doing so contribute to the pleasure 
of others ? Then never mind, you do the better thing. I 
venture to think that in my travels I have won more 
pleasure by song than I should have had profit by 
languages. 

O fellow ! Come, the song we had last night. 

Mark it, Cesario, it is old and plain ; 

The spinsters and the knitters in the sun 

And the free maids that weave their thread with bones 

Do use to chaunt it ; it is silly sooth, 

And dallies with the innocence of love 

Like the old age. 

If, at any rate, he put work first, saying that you must 
know your work and do it very well, Swire Smith believed 
with all his heart in diversions ; and this belief saved him 
when writing letters 2,000 words long to Mr. Angas, retrench- 
ing, straining every nerve. Had not the boyish belief in 
diversions procured most of his friendships, now priceless ? 
Friends are those who share a man's belief in himself. Mr. 
Carnegie went so far as to visit Florida, and then to ask him 
for the whole story, which he had not paraded. " Keep 
up," said he. " It will be ten years before things come fully 
round again, but don't despair ; we shall never see trade 
in America worse than now." This was in 1896. 

At Buckhurst Park, the Carnegies' place in Sussex, he 
met that Whitsuntide Mr. E. P. Morton, Vice-President of 
the United States under Harrison ; Sir Edwin Arnold ; Colonel 
Hay, author of The Life of Lincoln ; Mrs. Custer and Mrs. 
Garrison, the widows of famous generals. From that time 
forward he was expected at Cluny or Skibo every year. 

Nor did he ever cease to watch the German competition, 
in his own trade and in others. As a spinner he had nothing 



GERMANY IN 1896 223 

to fear from it. His sales to Germany had increased more 
rapidly than his sales at home. But, in spite of technical 
instruction, our weaving firms were still beaten in certain 
cheap lines of dress goods. He must know why. Mr. 
W. T. Stead had boomed a book called Made in Germany, 
in which the cry for protection was renewed. Had the 
German schools been able again to "go one better"? 
Burdened with debts, the moment his mill got into full 
work he was off at his own cost once more, with Sir William 
Woodall and Mr. Redgrave. With good credentials they 
visited exhibitions then being held at Stuttgardt and Nurem- 
berg, and saw the factories of other towns. But this time 
he found nothing new to emulate save German adaptiveness. 
There were still 14,000 handlooms in Germany. 

His notes on the journey have an interest that could 
not be foreseen. The military system, which he viewed 
as a handicap on industry, was praised by employers. They 
said that it made men respectful, orderly, amenable to 
discipline. While he noted a lack of self-reliance and 
independence, they were content to have their labour cheaper 
than ours, and did not complain that army service should 
make it less efficient for a time, as well as lessen the supply. 
Very well, then ; we had only to hold our own. So long as 
our skill was as good as theirs, we could beat them. But 
things were said which, however innocent, look sinister now, 
like the visiting card of " Dr. Max Graf von Zeppelin " kept 
in a note-book; for example, by Prince Hermann of Saxe- 
Weimar-Eisenach, " We have not enough land to keep our 
people," and by Count von Caprivi, " Germany must export 
manufactures or men." 

He answered, " Go on, you are foemen worthy of our 
steel." It is as if he had been taken literally. Even the 
democratic manners of an amiable prince make strange 
reading : 

Prince Hermann was most civil and affable, inviting us 
to lunch. Afterwards we met him at the Exhibition, while 



224 THE MASTER SPINNER 

looking at a sausage machine. They were chopping the 
meat, making up the sausages and cooking them. " Have 
a sausage with me," said the Prince ; " you will find them 
good." He handed us each a plate with two, a bun, and a 
knife and fork. There was no escape. 

We attended a meeting of small employers, who had 
just dined ; and I was placed opposite him. We sat at a 
long table down the centre of a cellar under the Exhibition, 
with many little tables. He said to me, " We all drink beer 
to-night," and the beer was brought in white mugs. People 
crowded in and smoked and drank. He is evidently popular, 
and answered their salutes by taking off his hat. Our healths 
were drunk ; Woodall, who replied in English, was very 
well received ; and at midnight the Prince walked with us 
as far as our hotel. " You pay us a great compliment in 
visiting our Exhibition, and we greatly appreciate your 
kindness." 

But this was twenty years before the War. The visit 
was paid, in fact, at the suggestion of one of Swire Smith's 
German correspondents, Herr von Diefenbach of Stuttgardt, 
who knew quite well what he and his colleagues had done 
to promote technical schools on the German model. 

At long last, he heard privately that his name stood high 
on the list of public men likely to be honoured with titles. 
It was an encouragement. If the honour should come 
through his political opponents, it would be the clearer 
acknowledgment of services. That it should come now, 
in the face of detraction, would be gratifying doubly. It 
had been mooted by the Master of the Clothworkers' Company 
and Sir Owen Roberts, their secretary, who were aware alike 
of those services and of his conduct as a director. He could 
feel no scruple. Moreover, those political opponents in 
Lord Salisbury's third Administration included his old friend 
and fellow-educationist the Duke of Devonshire, Lord 
President. 

A more intimate gratification surprised him in the 
following year, affecting his financial standing. It came 
at the worst pinch. Just when, by mobilizing all resources, 
he had paid the second huge call made on account of the 



MR. CARNEGIE'S LOAN 225 

Florida Land Bank, Texas dividends failed for the time being, 
and so did those of the Florida Syndicate with its phosphates. 
America was in a pit of depression. Then a call was made 
on shares in another land bank, so much less important 
that it has escaped mention the North Western Land 
Bank at Seattle. The call in question was an ordinary call 
on shares not fully paid ; but how to meet it ? For borrowing 
money, he had no security that could be pledged. 

While he cast about Mr. Carnegie drew him aside, and, 
knowing nothing of it, offered a loan ! They were on a 
coaching tour in Caithness and Sutherlandshire. 

I told him that, if he would hold the North Western 
shares, I would give an undertaking to meet all liabilities 
and pay 5 per cent, till they were redeemed. " No," said 
he, " I'll not have any security. I believe you will meet 
your obligations, and what will help you will be time. 
Tell your bank they must let you have the money at 3^ 
per cent., and that if they won't, my bank gladly will, with 
my guarantee. Surely my name is good enough for what 
you want. Tell them that without being asked I offered to 
help you. That's far the best way ; it will show them that 
you are not without friends, and so help you generally." 

Of course I thanked him with all my heart ; and I record 
this as the biggest act of unsolicited generosity that has ever 
been shown to me. The fact of his ability to help hardly 
comes in, for he has innumerable suppliants. 

Such offers are seldom made ; and this is another proof 
of the value of friendliness, and of making oneself agreeable 
to others. There is something, too, in being square to them, 
and in not speaking slander or listening to it. Mr. C. has 
for a considerable time been telling me things that he would 
entrust only with near and dear friends, and I am determined 
that his friendship shall not be misplaced. 

It was a gratification, too, to be asked to give out prizes 
at the Liverpool School of Science, Technology and Art 
for the second time. 

He never said soft things on these occasions. Facts 
" are chiels that winna ding," and there is no gain in burking 

15 



226 THE MASTER SPINNER 

them. There were 67 British technical schools in course 
of erection, there had been 70 built within ten years, and he 
confessed that he had supposed we were overtaking Germany. 
He had been mistaken. His address, therefore, was a com- 
parison of Liverpool facts with German facts : 

And if, in this comparison, I may seem to speak dis- 
paragingly of your city, you will remember that patriotism 
consists, not in hiding our faults, but in trying to remove 
them. In some of the German States of equal population, 
there would be from 9,000 to 10,000 students as compared 
with 2,300 at the secondary schools of Liverpool. In 
Hamburg, which has a smaller population, but, like Liverpool, 
is engaged in the shipping industry, there are 80 secondary 
day schools and 8,000 students attending technical schools. 
I have no hesitation in saying that the town of Stuttgardt, 
with one-tenth of the population of your city, far exceeds 
Liverpool in facilities for higher and technical education ; 
and so it is throughout Germany. 

Such is the educational socialism of the country, and so 
complete the organization, that there is no child born, 
however poor, but has a chance of the highest intellectual 
training he is capable of. At every step he is cheered and 
sustained by the greatest scholars of the land ; and, should 
he climb to the highest culture, he is welcomed by the 
brotherhood of those who fill the honoured seats of learning. 
The progress of Germany is undoubtedly the outcome of 
this education, and the seed is being sown for a still larger 
harvest. 

It is for us to meet the challenge while It is not too late. 
Those nations do not permanently hurt us that compel us 
to put forth our best efforts for the intellectual improvement 
of our people. The competition is a noble one, the surest 
means whereby the arts of peace may be cultivated and the 
material prosperity not of England alone but of the world 
secured. 

This passage is instructive. He was opposed to any 
socialism but that equal opportunity of instruction, on 
which he strenuously insisted ; and he was opposed to pro- 
tection chiefly because it seemed to burke the challenge. All 
Ju"s publiQ work whatever tended to one purpose. Preach' 



THE SURPRISING KNIGHTHOOD 227 

ing the rigour of the game, he did what he could to train 
and equip others for it. 

The matter of a knighthood seems to have been half 
forgotten for the Queen's Jubilee had passed when on 
May 19, 1898, he makes the following entry : 

I drove from Steeton, arriving at Lowfield at 7.10 a.m. 
Frank gave me a rather large batch of letters, and as I walked 
on to the mill I turned them over. One letter was in a 
strange hand, marked " Private," and in the bottom left- 
hand corner of the envelope there was an " S." I did not 
like it, and I said to myself, " What the devil is this about ? 
I hate letters marked ' Private.' This is a begging letter." 
Then I looked at the back and saw that a small coronet was 
stamped on the flap, and beneath the coronet, as a part of 
the die, the letter " S " again. I thought, " This is some 
swell wanting information about technical education." 
I proceeded to cut the envelope open with my penknife 

What was my surprise when I read : 

FOREIGN OFFICE, 

May 1 8, 1898. 

MY DEAR SIR, It gives me great satisfaction to be 
authorized to inform you that the Queen has been pleased 
to approve of your receiving the honour of knighthood on 
the occasion of Her Majesty's approaching birthday, in 
recognition of the eminent services which you have rendered 
to the cause of education in this country. 

Believe me, yours very faithfully, 

SALISBURY 
SWIRE SMITH, ESQ. 

A feeling of nervousness came over me, and I was a little 
agitated. I said, " Well, this is wonderful, but really I 
would rather it hadn't come. But I will accept it ; and 
I must do my best to meet its responsibilities." 



CHAPTER XV 

Congratulations Danger of bachelordom At Osborne Luncheon and 
the "dubbing" Skibo Beaufort Castle Highland sports A rich 
man on Faust Mr. Carnegie's enthusiasms Earning and spending 
of millions " I'll keep out " First ^10,000 for an English library 
George Smith's note of hand Services The Bright statue What 
to do with snapshots Death of George Smith. 

THE honour was announced in the Birthday List, but 
not conferred then. As usual, it had been offered 
alternatively by letters patent or by " dubbing " ; 
my friend would have been unlike himself not to choose the 
latter way of receiving it, and the ceremony did not follow 
till August. Meanwhile there were hundreds of congratula- 
tions. They came from his colleagues of the Technical 
Instruction Commission, from the heads of schools and 
colleges, from many public bodies and from the host of friends 
far and near by whom he was loved or warmly esteemed. 
He was a good deal embarrassed, but evaded no personal 
reply to escape the labour of writing. As to the embarrass- 
ment, it was characteristic; for, although it may be that 
honours are seldom better earned, they are unlikely ever 
to be conferred on persons of more ingenuous modesty. 
Lady Bective, an old friend not yet named (she had helped 
the Keighley school with prizes), teased him: "You don't 
value the compliment, I know ! but all your friends do." 
It was, however, this modesty which made and kept him 
a democrat : and the congratulations rang with too much 
sincerity to let him do less than value highly a distinction 
which brought them showering. 

They insisted that its bestowal was merely just. Sir 
William Woodall, rejoicing that it came w not, as is so often 

228 



CONGRATULATIONS 229 

the case, as the result of persistent intrigue, but as a recogni- 
tion of invaluable and unselfish service," reminded him that 
a title would give more authority to his opinions. The 
aged sister of John Bright wrote : 

NEWINGTON HOUSE, EDINBURGH, 
June 13, 1898. 

MY DEAR SWIRE, I ought to have been among the 
first, rather than the last, to congratulate you upon your 
life's work of faithfulness to duty and far-seeing wisdom 
having been acknowledged by the Queen and the Prime 
Minister, and so warmly appreciated by high and low as it 
has been. In this they have honoured themselves. Burns 
told the Queen 150 years ago that she could not make you 
what you are, as that was " aboon her might." But the gift 
of knighthood she has bestowed upon you is valued by all 
who know you because it has not been given on account of 
wealth, or military distinction, or party politics, for which 
too often State honours are conferred, but in recognition 
of your God-given powers having been so freely and generously 
used for the good of her people and your country's welfare. 
I rejoice with you and your father for this a proud dis- 
tinction. 

I was not then able to write owing to illness I have been 
long ill and am still very weak and this letter, in consequence, 
does not do my heart the justice I could have wished. Your 
loving, faithful, lifelong services have not been for the public 
alone ; they have been as true, as self-denying and as beautiful 
in your home life. In the recognition such a life has elicited, 
no one rejoices more than your old friend of many years, 

PRISCILLA BRIGHT MCLAREN. 

To this I am sure he replied amply ; it called for condo- 
lence. But what was to be said to such a letter as that of 
Mrs. W. D. Hertz ? An old Bradford friend long established 
in London, Mrs. Hertz was the large-hearted and cultured 
lady to whose memory Mr Edward Clodd has paid a tribute 
in his book on Professor Sully, and in whose salon, he says, 
" one met Frederic Harrison with other leaders of the Positivist 
movement, and, besides these, everybody who was any- 
body." She wrote from 40, Lansdowne Crescent : 



230 THE MASTER SPINNER 

MY DEAR SIR SWIRE SMITH, I write that trifle, " S," 
three times with quite especial satisfaction, and never sus- 
pected before that the sibilant could sound so pretty. 

You have been a knight in spirit all your life, combating 
ignorance and evil with energy, doing valiant deeds in behalf 
of progress, extension of knowledge, cultivation of the moral 
graces, enlargement of freedom and furtherance of the 
general welfare. So it is most fitting that the Queen should, 
in the eyes of all men, label you knight. But there is one 
thing wanting to complete the promotion a Lady Smith 
to shed additional lustre on the title. Sir Robert Giffen, 
much older than you, has lately married for the second time 
and is supremely happy. Shall you not do less and likewise ? 

My kindest regards to your niece. I often think of my 
pleasant visit to your beautiful house. 

Ever your sincerely attached and old friend, 

FANNY HERTZ. 

His Boston friend Mr. Edward Atkinson took an easier 
tone : 

I am beginning to credit myself with a very remarkable 
insight and foresight in respect to the quality of men, and 
therefore to point out to my English friends that to be my 
friend may become a very important matter to them. First, 
Louis Mallet, knighted ; second, Sir Lyon Playfair made a 
peer ; third, Sir Thomas Farrer made a peer ; fourth, Robert 
Giffen knighted, and now Mr. Swire Smith also knighted ! 

I congratulate myself, and also yet more I congratulate 
you, on the recognition by others of your merits. How shall 
I emulate you ? I have been addressed as Esquire, Reverend, 
Doctor, Colonel, Corporal, General, Jedge and Venerable. 
The other night I received a new title. A young Irishman 
came to ask me to lecture in the basement of his new church 
near us, and in the urgency of the case broke out, " Father 
Atkinson, will you come ? " But I shall never be a peer, or 
even a knight. 

Frankly, my congratulations are very cordial ; there is 
a merit in titles that are won. 

As if in preparation for the change in his personal estate, 
the house had been at last finished, and stood with sufficient 
dignity on its hillside. There was no Lady Smith to be its 



AT OSBORNE 231 

mistress, but the niece referred to had been lent to the 
brothers by his favourite sister, Hannah ; she kept house 
for them, and she was never, fortunately, to be displaced. 
She became a very gracious presence at Steeton Manor; 
artistic, fond of books and gardening, a bright auxiliary. 
And he was reconciled to bachelordora. True, if he had 
to go through life again he would try, he said, to take a 
" saner, truer and nobler course " ; for, at the best, a bachelor 
could not " be a fully developed man his natural tastes 
and instincts tend to contract instead of expanding, and 
usually he becomes a rather selfish person." But, on the 
whole, he had got along fairly well. 

He was still to do so. Astonishingly young in heart, 
he had the happy habit of taking a fresh interest in every- 
thing and everybody about him ; so that, however wisely, 
he saw life with young eyes. There is good evidence of this 
in his account of the " dubbing," which might almost have 
been written for young readers. 

On Saturday, August 6th, I appeared in levee dress at 
Waterloo station for the special train leaving for Southamp- 
ton at ten. There were several military and civil officials 
in addition to the knights, and we were taken charge of by 
Sir Spencer Ponsoiiby Fane, of the Queen's household. (He 
adds a list of the party, twenty gentlemen.) At Southampton 
the Earl of Pembroke joined us, and conducted us to the 
steamer, the Duchess oj Kent, which took us to Cowes. 

The Regatta had been held during the preceding three 
or four days, and many of the ships were gaily decorated with 
flags. There was an Austrian man-of-war, and the new 
warship the Crescent, commanded by the Duke of York. The 
Prince of Wales is living on board the Osborne, which has 
been so fitted with an awning with glass that, while reclining, 
he can see all that goes on. The official in charge of the 
boat assured me that he was watching us as we passed. 
Landing at Cowes, we were received by more officials of 
the household and were conveyed in, I think, six carriages 
to Osborne. So far as I remember, the liveries were black, 
the carriages plain landaus, the horses pairs of greys ; in 
one case only was there a postilion. Boys in groups 
cheered us as we passed. 



232 THE MASTER SPINNER 

At Osborne we were first conducted to a large room, 
and placed our coats, hats and umbrellas on a table in charge 
of an attendant. The clothes brushes might have done 
duty for half a century. One of the Lords-in- Waiting in- 
vited us, on behalf of Her Majesty, to inscribe our names 
and the date of our visit in her birthday-book. Luncheon 
was announced, and we made our way along a tiled vestibule 
and through a spacious hall, with views of the sea from its 
windows, to the Indian Room. Here there were about six 
Ladies-in- Waiting (of the Queen and the Duchess of York), 
with still other officials, and they sat here and there at the 
table so as to be interspersed among the strangers. 

The room is about 60 feet long by 30 feet wide, with a 
deep bay window half way down it, opposite a fireplace. 
At one end there is a balcony with a front of Indian wood- 
work, sufficiently large to accommodate musicians. There 
were Indian screens under it, and there was a handsome 
Indian screen before the fireplace. The ceilings and walls 
are of elaborate Indian plaster work. The floor was covered 
with Indian matting, cool and restful. In the bay window 
stood a large table used for side dishes, with a fine silver- 
gilt box on it, and masses of flowers. There were standard 
lamps of coloured glass (in small pieces) round the room ; 
I did not see brackets or chandeliers. The luncheon table 
was unusually wide, and the centre was filled with growing 
plants and ferns and grasses. Nearly forty persons lunched, 
and I counted in the room sixteen waiters at one time, 
wearing powdered hair, red coats and, I think, silk stockings, 
except one who was in Highland costume he seemed to 
have charge of the wines -and two or three who were in 
plain black, wearing medals. 

There were no menu cards. We began with cutlets and 
haricot vegetables. Entree dishes contained, without 
divisions, on one side boiled and on the other mashed potatoes. 
There were also green peas and cauliflowers. Roast beef, 
roast mutton and entries were served, and in among them 
lobster salad. There did not seem to be any order, and 
I fancy the waiters brought round what was handiest. I 
saw certain dishes offered to others that were not brought 
to me. Fancy pastries and puddings were offered in variety : 
cheese and biscuits ; lovely fruit peaches, grapes, bananas, 
greengage plums and, to finish, delicious coffee and cream. 
I noticed that one knife and fork only were set for each guest ; 
the forks were silver and the knives had silver-mounted 



THE "DUBBING" 233 

handles. Steel knives were served for dessert. The dinner 
service was not showy mainly white china with a small 
ornament. The dessert plates were fretted in the character 
of old Leeds ware, and I think they bore the Royal arms. 

After coffee we rose, and the ladies in a group withdrew, 
the rest following. In the corridor one of the Lords-in- 
Waiting asked each of us his title ; and he put on the breast 
of each of those who were to receive orders a small hook 
on which the order could be conveniently hung by the Queen. 
Then we walked back to our ante-room, obtained our hats 
and gloves, and each put on the left-hand glove. We were 
next arranged in single file, the knights last in alphabetical 
order. I should have brought up the procession, but Mr. 
H. C. Fischer's name had been accidentally omitted and he 
was behind me. 

As we waited in the corridor, all chatting very pleasantly, 
two of the ladies came towards us with two little boys, 
of three to four years of age. They were Prince Edward 
and Prince Albert Prince Edward, who was to be the heir 
to the throne. They were very charming children. They 
began at one end of the line and shook hands with each of 
us, enjoying the fun of doing so. They handled one of the 
hats with a plume of feathers, and Prince Edward said to 
me, " Are you a knight ? " While this little incident -was 
diverting our attention, a band on the front lawn struck 
up the National Anthem and we were summoned to Her 
Majesty's presence. 

We entered in single file a rather small ante-room, and 
walked round a table to a door leading to the Queen's room. 
At first I could not look into this room, but soon my turn 
came. Sir Marcus Samuel, who was in front of me, said 
to the Gentleman-in- Waiting at the door, " When shall 
I go ? " and the reply was, " Count six after the one before 
you has gone." I entered from the doorway as soon as 
Sir Marcus had taken his place before the Queen. 

The room was not large. At the further end, in the 
centre, the Queen was seated in an arm-chair. On her 
right was the Duke of York wearing an Admiral's uniform, 
and close behind him the Duchess. On the Queen's left, 
a little behind her too, the Lady Ampthill attended. Im- 
mediately in front of Her Majesty, there was a cushion on 
the carpet or rug which was spread before her, on top, I 
think, of another carpet. 

I approached the Queen as Sir Marcus was retiring back- 



234 THE MASTER SPINNER 

wards by a door to my right. She looked straight into 
my face, and I observed that she slightly lowered her head 
and rather winked her eyes, as if to see me more distinctly. 
She wore a small white cap and a black gown, and I was 
surprised to see that her face was pale. When last I saw 
her, ten years ago, it was rosy, almost florid. She also 
seemed to be feeble, and fully up to her eighty years. 

Sir Spencer announced my name, Mr. Swire Smith. 
I reverently bowed, and drew near, kneeling on my right 
knee and holding my hat under my left arm. The Duke 
of York handed the sword to his grandmother, still supporting 
its weight. She tapped me with it on one shoulder, then 
on the other, and held out her right hand. I placed my 
hand under hers and kissed it. Her hand was very small, 
and white, and soft. She then, in a clear voice, but not 
loud, said, " Sir Swire Smith" ; and I rose, again bowing, and 
paced backward out of the room. 

As an old journalist, I pay my respectful tribute to the 
cool vigilance and precision of his observation. He adds 
that, as the guests resumed coats and umbrellas, cigars were 
offered to the gentlemen in uniforms and cocked hats ; 
and I find that two days later he forwarded a cheque for 
26 8s. 2d. to the Lord Chamberlain's office as fees due to 
the Earl Marshal and Heralds of England and Scotland. 

The Duke of Devonshire, who, as he guessed, had been 
his backer, saw him at Keighley and told him how things 
had nearly miscarried. There had been such an array of 
names in the Jubilee list that Lord Salisbury struck out all 
but a few, those of men to whom he was committed. The 
Duke afterwards rescued Sir Swire Smith's. " I was glad 
to be able to do it," he said, " but I thought at one time 
that I should not succeed. You see, these honours are 
almost invariably given for political services." 

The knighthood made no change whatever in Swire 
Smith, or in his manner of life. He seemed always to see 
himself like another person, with a good deal of interest 
but no special partiality ; much as he saw Osborne. This 
accounts for the fact that he now took fresh interest in his 
uncourtly forebears, and noted down, after talks with his 



ROMANCE OF SKIBO 235 

father, some of the droll things told in the Introduction. 
The traditional tale of gentility in the Swires he did not 
follow up, knowing how much to ascribe to his mother with- 
out believing that. I think he approved the Chinese notion, 
that a man honoured for his work gains the title for his 
ancestors. 

About this time it looked as if Scotland had come in 
for the reversion of his American and Italian fervours ; for 
in 1898 he was not only at Skibo for the first time, but twice 
at Beaufort Castle, rented by the Phippses, and in the 
following year gave an address at the Glasgow College and 
saw the Lauder Technical School opened at Dunfermline. 

At Beaufort he met Lord Lovat, Sir William and Lady 
Harcourt, Dr. Jex Blake, Professor Mahaffy, Father Nugent, 
Mr. Yates Thompson and some New York people, but I 
do not know that he formed any new friendship. There 
was shooting, riding and lively dancing. The Castle, too, 
had a pleasant seat. However, at Skibo his reflection was, 
" How like our own men these are ! " and for Andrew 
Carnegie, now beginning to abound in benefactions and a 
gay humour, he had affection. Besides, he wondered at 
him. This plain-mannered little sturdy Scotsman, unspoiled 
by such fabulous wealth and so warm-hearted ! Something 
like hero-worship touched their intercourse. 

We marched round in procession to the pipes before dinner, 
a large and merry party. Afterwards a dancing board was 
brought in, and Angus Macpherson in splendid style danced 
the Highland fling, the sword dance and a sailor's hornpipe. 
I had to sing several songs, and gave " Abner " (the Irving 
imitation by which on another occasion Mr. Morley seems 
to have been convulsed). The fun went rather fast. . . . 

We had a lovely drive. Mr. C. was very confidential, 
and I think he is the most remarkable man I have ever met. 
The Pittsburg business has nothing like it for magnitude ; 
it employs (subject to my defective memory) about 30,000 
men, or men and youths. At Homestead the wages average 
$3 a day. The firm made a railway of their own, about 140 
miles, which has reduced their freights 600,000 a year. 



236 THE MASTER SPINNER 

The amount they still pay is simply fabulous. They have 
gone on improving their machinery in every process till 
now they are more than $i a ton ahead of their cheapest 
competitors. They could undersell any steelmakers in 
England at their own doors ; and before long they will make 
steel from furnace to wire in one process. For years their 
methods were pooh-poohed by men like Lowthian Bell, 
who now confess themselves fossils. Their profits this year 
will be over $13,000,000. George Lauder told me that 
the natural gas used in the works saves them 2,000 tons of 
coal a day ; they bring it ninety miles in one-foot drain pipes. 

When Uncle Lauder came to Skibo, he said, " Andrew, 
the romance of it ! To think of your early struggles as a 
poor boy, and now you're to possess this Castle ! " " Ay," 
said Andrew, " the romance of it. I wonder if there has 
ever been its match. Why, I could buy a Skibo every month, 
and maintain it too." There was no boasting in this, for 
it would mean less than a million sterling a year. " Could 
I prolong my life and retain my vigour and health, I would 
willingly pay 1,000,000 a year to either Power." He thinks 
Faust didn't make a bad bargain. 

He has the most diversified knowledge of any man I 
have met. He seems to forget nothing. And I never met 
a man of such enthusiasms : this is the best of worlds if 
fine, " How delightful for the flowers ! " if wet, " How 
splendid for the ducks ! " Skibo is just perfection ; put 
o to 80,000 and he wouldn't be tempted. He thinks he'll 
borrow the money at 2\ per cent, to pay for it and save 3^ 
on 80,000=^2,800 a year. 

While we fished, he was like a boy. He sang and recited, 
and flared up at himself when he missed a rise. He made 
fun of Angus and Hall, gave them advice, chaffed me about 
my title : put myself in his hands and he'll find me a wife. 
Miss S. was just the one he could do it. Her mother was 
the Westminster of Pittsburg. I kept changing the subject, 
but he went at it again with great glee. 

We lunched on the moor, and chatted about Margaret 
(the baby). He wouldn't have his money fooled away, 
he wouldn't leave a fortune to children. Let them work, 
as he had done. " But," I said, " you must leave your 
money ; you can't spend it as fast as you make it." He 
talked of what he meant to do. 

The Duchess of Albany had expressed a wish to know 
them to call but they gave no encouragement to the 



AN ENGLISH CARNEGIE LIBRARY 237 

suggestion. " You cannot half do it. You go in, or keep 
out altogether. I'll keep out." He had such friends as 
Matthew Arnold, Herbert Spencer and John Morley ; these 
men were good enough for him. 

He came with me and Hugh Morrison to the station, 
and I forgot to say good-bye. 

Sir Swire Smith and Mr. Carnegie had characteristics 
in common. My friend's humility of mind, inferior boldness 
and freer diffusion of interests made a greater difference in 
their careers than in their temperaments, or even in their 
views. He submitted even to a little of the Laird's match- 
making, more pawky than felicitous. 

As their intimacy became known, he was approached on 
behalf of institutions and causes hoping to benefit by Mr. 
Carnegie's liberality, which in America had been conspicu- 
ously shown. What he did, however, in the first instance, 
that of an appeal for a library from Fort Worth, was to say, 
when showing it, that he " could not pretend to take advan- 
tage of Mr. C.'s kindness to beg for anybody." The help 
he gave to worthy applicants, as when Sir Henry Roscoe 
sought it for London University, was to suggest the form 
in which an appeal seemed likejiest to succeed ; and I think 
he never failed in doing so. His tact had a reward. The 
first library given by Mr. Carnegie in England was offered 
to Keighley, in 1899. 

The talk turned on technical education at the dinner 
table, and I spoke of several of our students who had risen 
to positions of distinction and honour. Mr. Carnegie de- 
clared that my story was like a fairy tale, and forthwith 
made me the offer of 10,000 for a library. " I should like," 
he said, " if Keighley would let me, just to go into partner- 
ship with her. Your town has been doing a great work. 
I remember what Professor Huxley said about it years ago." 

Most men, I imagine, would have come home bursting 
with the news, and spread it ; but he could be secretive. 
He nursed a joy, and left Mr. Carnegie to announce it in 
his own way. Then he wrote to him in a glow : 



238 THE MASTER SPINNER 

I could scarcely get along the street this morning for 
congratulations, and the telephone has been busy all the 
day. I wonder if your ears have burned, as I think they 
would have done if you had heard all the nice things that 
were being said of you. And yet I should not be surprised 
if at this moment you are making a big drive at the links, 
or peacefully gorging yourself with raspberries, without a 
thought of Keighley ! Ah, would I were with you. 

His view was that the library completed the school 
crowned the edifice he had done so much to raise. " A 
library," he said, " is the continuation school through life, 
for education ends with life only." He was therefore full 
of pride and gratitude ; nothing would do but to present 
the freedom of the borough to Keighley's benefactor the 
first freedom for the first library. So in the following year 
he had Mr. Carnegie down to distribute prizes, and the free- 
dom was presented in a casket of his own planning, and the 
new freeman came to Steeton Manor. But this was not 
the end of it. Struck by the fact that one half of the 1,100 
students were workers attending evening classes, Mr. Carnegie 
went back to Pittsburg and founded there the largest technical 
school in the world. 

As a pioneer of such schools, Sir Swire Smith had in the 
same year to give out prizes at the municipal school in 
Birmingham and the Merchant Venturers' School at Bristol. 
He was also made president of the Association of Technical 
Institutions, and in London gave an address to its members 
at the Mercers' Hall. 

Since the Florida disaster began to be realized, five years 
had now passed ; and it is good to think how, in spite of 
it, events had augmented the pride of a gallant father in 
extreme old age. The full gravity of it was, of course, never 
told to George Smith. Calls upon some of his own shares were 
paid out of the business account, so that he might think it done 
with, and go about as his way was. At eighty-eight he was 
still full of spirit and a sturdy figure. Only memory began to 
fail him. By an ironic chance, the site chosen, by the Borough 



GEORGE SMITH'S DEED OF GIFT 239 

Council for the new library took in provisionally the ground 
on which his house stood. He put it that he had his notice 
to quit. And one may wonder if he did not guess the extent 
and complexion of his son's difficulties. Trade was very 
bad ; in 1897-8 the mill had not made profit enough to 
cover depreciations. Did he not know, at least, that even 
the Texas Bank had been unable to declare a dividend for 
three years, and shrewdly observe that Florida was hardly 
mentioned ? There was much of his own fortune invested 
in the business ; he had backed it with loans from time 
to time. Well, he had almost done with it ! One morning 
he sat down to a sheet of notepaper, and, not being a great 
scholar, produced this note in a fairly clear hand on the 

third attempt : 

LOWFIELD, KEIGHLEY, 

February 15, 1900. 

DEAR SWIRE, All money that I have advanced to thee 
I give to thee. 

Thy affectionate Father, 

GEORGE SMITH. 

One feels the strength of him in that simplicity, and it 
is nothing that the writing trembles, trailing down the page. 
He never wrote much better. " All money that I have 
advanced to thee I give to thee." There was possibly 
less nurture for a man's courage in Mr. Carnegie's help 
at need, or in the knighthood and many congratulations, 
than in that little note. 

Outlive the blow as he might, Swire Smith was altered 
by it. In five years he had had wakeful nights. What 
haunted him unkindly, like a keen ingratitude was the 
mystery of certain men's misconduct, men he had judged 
very worthy. " I thought myself," he writes to Mr. Moore 
Angas, " a fair judge of character." But he lacked the 
insight ever to imagine himself, even for a moment, as 
using another person's mind : for that he was too stable. 
He therefore suffered, as he had suffered in a love affair, 
from the necessity of recalling every word and act of these 
men, in order to be sure pf a judgment ; and fce was not 



240 THE MASTER SPINNER 

only humbled bitterly, but never free of the thought of 
friends' distresses. He had " carried on," and life brought 
its compensations. I note, however, that, under the strain 
of those broken nights, his penmanship had become a little 
cramped and shaky. The heart went out of his adventure 
as a man of business. 

But not out of the man himself ; he was in no way em- 
bittered. I suspect that it pleased him all the more to be 
useful, especially by such little private services as reassure 
a public man about his influence, and bring immediate 
gratitude. 

A Principal was wanted for the Royal College of Art. 
That institution had merited some of the banter poured upon 
South Kensington by Mr. W. S. Gilbert ; it was mainly a 
college for dilettante. His protege, Mr. Augustus Spencer, 
whom as a boy in his mill he had caught painting butterflies, 
was in the running for appointment, and had made all sorts 
of practical reforms at Leicester as head of the art school 
there. The very man ! A word to the Duke of Devonshire, 
who knew that story, might make another thing of the 
college, and put a feather in Keighley's cap. So I find Mr. 
R. L. Morant (afterwards Sir Robert Morant) writing : 
" Your personal note to the Duke about Spencer has done 
the trick, so far as any one thing can be said to do things in 
this complicated world." Two days later the young reformer 
cries, " Hurrah ! You have pulled it of! again. I know 
how delighted you will be to hear of my appointment. God 
helping me, I will do all in my power to make the College 
a success." 

In that instance there was much to follow. In another, 
more conspicuous at the time, he was the means of obtaining 
redress for a national dereliction. There was no statue 
of Mr. Bright in the hall of the Houses of Parliament. Mr. 
Carnegie wished to offer one anonymously a replica of 
the fine work done by Mr. Bruce Joy for Birmingham and 
asked Sir Swire Smith to arrange for the gift, securing an 
appropriate site. 



PERSONAL INFLUENCE 241 

There were strange difficulties. First, Mr. Carnegie 
had suffered a rebuff in respect of his earlier offer of a bust of 
Cromwell. Then the appropriate site had been lost ; on 
a protest by Mr. Bright 's family, an inferior statue had been 
removed from it, but the offer of another had been declined 
in some dudgeon. There was, however, an irresistible 
correctness in the tact with which, having made himself 
acquainted with the personal factors in this impasse, Swire 
Smith approached Mr. Akers Douglas, a political opponent ; 
and after some months of negotiation he was able to place 
the commission with Mr. Bruce Joy and install the statue 
" to plead like an angel * trumpet tongued ' against the deep 
damnation of the Corn Tax." 

He had often the satisfaction of doing good by stealth, 
and a sly humour used to mark his satisfaction. The truth 
is that in this exercise of personal credit, never abused, he 
had found a metier ; and it is better to be a more important 
man than one seems than to seem a more important man 
than one is. Enough that friends were sometimes in the 
secret. 

There was a friend at the Glasgow Technical College, 
another old Keighley student, the Professor of Engineering, 
Mr. W. H. Watkinson. That brilliant practical teacher, 
now known for his work on the famous " hush-hush " boats 
and other service in the War, had owed his appointment to 
Swire Smith's backing, as he was partly to owe his appoint- 
ment to Liverpool University. He had come into the 
" fairy tale " told at Skibo. You will imagine that, in the 
visit to Glasgow mentioned a few pages back, there had been 
nothing much prouder than to find him there, doing great 
things. He and Mr. Alfred Fowler, Sir Norman Lockyer's 
right-hand man at the Royal College of Science, once a 
Keighley half-timer, were notable alumni. In 1901 Mr. 
Carnegie made his first gift of 25,000 to the Glasgow College, 
and the backer of all good Keighley students had to let Mr 
Watkinson know a little of the inwardness of that benefaction 
Here is his letter : 

16 



242 THE MASTER SPINNER 

SKIBO CASTLE, 

October 5, 1901. 

DEAR WATKINSON, Accept my thanks for the Glasgow 
paper. ... I had previously seen the news, and my heart 
had been filled with pleasure. I am here on a short visit 
to Mr. Carnegie ; and he told me, when I came, that in con- 
sidering the claims of the College he was reminded of my 
address at your distribution of prizes two years ago, and 
of my statement that Glasgow was the beginner of the 
technical education movement one hundred years since, but 
that, after doing splendid service, it was falling behind. ... I 
would not have mentioned this matter, but I feel that it 
emphasizes my congratulations to you personally, and to 
the Council of the College ... I am very glad that the few 
seeds I sowed at your meeting did not all fall by the wayside. 

Yours sincerely, 

SWIRE SMITH. 

By that disclosure (not made without leave) he gratified 
no vanity, but sought to strengthen Mr. Watkinson's position 
as his nominee. 

He had also found a new hobby photography. Hence- 
forth on all his travels and friendly visits he was furnished 
with a kodak camera. He made a most wasteful use of 
this plaything, for it is a deplorable fact that, with so much 
to say for technical skill, he never quite mastered the in- 
structions issued by the makers. His niece Mary, whose 
camera he borrowed in the first place (I think it must have 
been for the last trip to the Continent), tells how, before 
starting, he did a little practice under her tutelage with 
the shutter down, and seemed to get a fair notion of dis- 
tances, lights and exposures. In those days there was a 
roll of fifty films, and he came back exulting over fifty snap- 
shots, some of which might have to be treasured ; but the 
developer found nothing there he had never raised the 
shutter. All the same, this hobby was delightful. He 
possessed the means of pleasing his hosts and other people 
with souvenirs of jolly moments, and even a new means of 
scraping acquaintance. 

It revived the days when he had hunted up quotations 



A USE FOR SNAPSHOTS 243 

for birthday gifts and valentines, inasmuch as a good picture 
should be worth a posy ; and so he spent happy hours in 
mounting and embellishing snapshots. Discriminate and 
do your spiriting gently, you may pay some pretty com- 
pliments that way. There were a few friends to whom he 
could send a verse of Milton : 

Grace was in all her steps, heaven in her eye, 
In every gesture dignity and love. 

There were younger friends of the same sex who would not 
resent, or mistake, the playfulness of : 

'Twas a kin' o' Kingdom Come to look 
On such a blessed creetur. 

Or the portrait of one worthy public man might go to another 
inscribed : 

One of the few, the immortal names 
That were not born to die. 

For people or for scenes, he had found no better use to make 
of the poets ; and, apart from all that, he was filling albums. 

The Roscoes entertained him at Easter in 1902. 

And then in April, a month always welcomed by him, 
there were certain heavy days to be gone through ; for, 
having lived to nearly four score and ten, the rare old man 
who had been his proudest, first and greatest backer took 
leave of children and grandchildren. But this was done good- 
humouredly, with no fuss, his voice and look being still 
heartsome. There are no recorded last moments, as in the 
mother's case. He was ill ; when they came to see him he 
praised them " grand lasses," " good lads " and one day 
he was dead. More pride than grief about that parting. 

But it was the passing of a Keighley generation of which 
he had been the last survivor, and it awoke public memories. 
There were crowds to see his funeral. To his eldest son, 
the most touching sign of respect and sympathy was that 
the students of the school turned out to form a guard of 
honour. 



CHAPTER XVI 

Idiosyncrasies A lively bachelor Two proposals and a puzzle Derelict 
mines A romantic matriarch Friendship for the States America'! 
future A compliment. 

SIR SWIRE SMITH was sixty years of age. He passed 
with strangers for a man on the sunny side of fifty, 
and in doing so deceived no one, for he was as young 
in physique as in spirit. Most men at forty-five are worse 
for wear than he now appeared to be after the labours which 
had won him public honour. I describe his personal appear- 
ance as it now was, because it is remembered so by his friends, 
having changed little, if at all, in the fifteen crowded years 
that remained to him. 

He was fair, with a clear skin that looked warm and 
healthy but never florid. He had as much fair hair as in 
his teens, and wore it brushed smooth on the small, energetic 
head. Neither spare nor stout, he was firmly fleshed, 
muscular without special development, light on his feet, 
and not more than five feet five or six in height. He had 
small feet and hands. When walking, he gave the impression 
of being quick and sturdy ; but his step was rather short. 
If he walked with a companion, either he took an arm, or 
you were gently elbowed while he talked, with a sort of nudge. 
That habit and the voice conveyed his warmth ; as to the 
voice, it was a rich and pleasant baritone, very manly. The 
portraits are all too serious ; they fail with his glance, 
which was full of life ; for, apart from a constant keenness 
in the blue eyes, his face was generally impassive, and 
always so when he told a story or chaffed you. Then they 
twinkled for an instant, shrewdly pursed. There is just 
a hint of this in the portrait by Mr. Solomon which is repro- 

244 



WHY HE DID NOT MARRY 245 

duced as a frontispiece, but the amiability there seen in 
a pose appeared only in flashes ; he dropped his jokes and 
compliments like asides, mercurial with a look of serious 
purpose. The look, with a certain bustle in his manner, 
was any stranger's first clue to him. He seemed brisk, 
but sober and imperturbable. Beware of him when he said 
least, demurring with a question now and then, as if doubtful 
of his own mind. 

How warm his heart was, the reader knows by this time 
as well as I do. Seeing that he was twice again refused in 
marriage during these years of stress and disillusionment, 
a fact belittled only by the chronicle, I confess that he begins 
to touch me with something of that regretful admiration 
which is felt at last for Cyrano de Bergerac, less prudent 
and less personable. There is the more greatness in his 
bearing under odds. He seems to have been fated. 

For he was neither eccentric nor unattractive, and no 
man ever affected women to warmer friendships. To be 
sure, I note two things that after the first cross he had 
felt sure that he ought to have met the lady ten years earlier, 
and that, keeping the heart of a boy through everything, 
he now addressed proposals to women younger than himself. 
But I do not pretend to account for such a bachelordom. 
He was singularly engaging, and, to women he found likeable, 
charming. There was a breezy wholesomeness about him. 
The face might be long, and the ears proportionately large ; 
it was long because the full brow was rather high, and the 
chin rather masterful in spite of a dimple. But it was 
certainly the face of a pleasant man, even in repose. At 
sixty the forehead was hardly wrinkled, though there were 
sober lines of concentration over the nose, and little humorous 
lines about the keen, light eyes, and studious folds falling 
to the mouth corners above a full moustache. Nothing 
told his age, and you were conscious of his animation and 
strength, a buoyancy in reserve that meant kindness. He 
neither took stimulants nor smoked, but concerned him- 
self a good deal about other little comforts, less for his own 



246 THE MASTER SPINNER 

pleasure than for that of his friends. That is one of many 
ways in which he was " human." 

An American lady who knew him fairly well thinks " his 
virtues were so solid and so many that they had to be twined 
about with all the simple charms to keep him from austerity." 

Was that feared in him ? He was only austere with 
himself. No one heard him say a harsh word about others ; 
and, when a woman refused his love, he not merely accepted 
but sought her continued friendship which is not a common 
sequel. What is more, he was no prude. Free social inter- 
course and the sense of humour had made him as well ac- 
quainted as most men with the comedy and broad farce 
of sex, as to which there were plenty of good stories and quips 
in his catholic collection. There is, after all, no strange 
austerity in a man whose commonplace book contains the 
riddle entered by a lady, " Why is kissing like creation ? 
Because it's made of nothing, and God knows it's good." 
Such as there was in my friend served only to keep him 
balanced and honest, while many-sided : tell Swire Smith 
of other men's too amorous peccadilloes, and his worst com- 
ment was a grave" Tut-tut ! " or, more regretfully, a" Dear, 
dear ! " They should have known better than to " pass 
the line," but who is fit to blame a fellow creature ? In 
his wooing there may have been too little passion or too 
much worldly wisdom, I do not know ; but the portrait 
of him would be incomplete on its human side, as he himself 
would have been less lovable, without this stroke. I am 
in his debt for too many laughs not to know its value ; and 
I do not think his virtues will suffer in the general estima- 
tion because, in that miscellaneous book, the account of 
his knighting is followed, for example, by this diverting 
" limerick : " 

There was an old lady of Cheadle 
Who sat down in church on a needle. 

Though deeply embedded, 

'Twas luckily threaded 
And promptly pulled out by the beadle. 



A LIVELY BACHELOR 247 

A lively bachelor is not to be pitied. Sir Swire Smith 
knew how to live, which is as much as a man may hope to 
learn whether single or married ; and he lived so well, no 
one can say that marriage might not have narrowed his 
activities. 

His own opinion was that he had missed his way. It 
is only the bachelor soured and discouraged who does not 
sometimes think so. But, seeing him neither discouraged 
nor soured, one had to doubt that opinion ; for, when a 
man accepts his limitations with no more fuss than to say, 
" I'm a duffer," it is hard to think them important. In 
any case he might try again ; for, as he used to quote, " God 
made the world and rested ; God made man and rested ; 
God made woman, and since then neither God nor man 
has rested." The non-success, indeed, made him rather a 
puzzle to his friends, because he never spoke of any dis- 
appointments but one (and of that seldom), whereas he was 
fond of womankind. The puzzle is now the women. 

At his father's death he went to live at Steeton daily, 
leaving Lowfield which the library spared after all to 
his brother. There was a division of the old man's personal 
effects by lot. So they avoided bickerings. He drove in 
and out, and he installed a telephone, against which new- 
fangled and debatable convenience he had up to this time 
rebelled. The house had been furnished gradually ; money 
was " tight." But there had been ivy growing on it, there 
was a garden leading to the wood through bowered arches, 
and in the quiet porch a hen laid eggs on the mat. 

That gradual furnishing of the house, room by room, 
meant that it had taken six years to recoup the firm of 
Swire Smith and Brother for a loss of 18,000 on its Florida 
investments, and that in two of those years the firm had 
made no profits. His own and his brother's calls on their 
personal investments in Florida and the North West had, 
at the same time, been met by one device and another. 
But now he saw daylight. In spite of all, the business at 
Springfield Mills had been developed so as to save them. 



248 THE MASTER SPINNER 

There was, by common consent, no man of sounder judgment 
than Swire Smith in the Bradford trade, and none with 
a wider and more exact knowledge of it. He could look 
forward to the end of his career without much misgiving, 
though he would need to work at a time of life when luckier 
men were free to enjoy themselves. 

Well, he liked work. Why be envious ? " 'Tis the 
same to him who wears a shoe as if the whole world were 
covered with leather." 

Albeit the heart had gone out of his adventure, it was not 
in Sir Swire Smith to cut a loss indifferently. There were 
assets ; and he was curious, not to say at last fidgety, 
to know what might be made of them. The Syndicate 
lands would certainly do nothing without attention. That 
was the moral of eight years' sitting tight ; and there was 
always a possible rival of Palm Beach in Jupiter Island. 
Once more America prospered. So when a letter came 
from Mr. Moore Angas, sitting tight and faithful, to suggest 
that directors should go and talk over developments, he had 
to inspect the relics of an unsubstantial dream. A co- 
director, Mr. Fred Moore, was willing to go with him : and 
in March 1903, taking also his niece, he sailed in the Cedric. 

People object to throw good money after bad, though 
one arrow may find another ; but in any case it was a pleasure 
trip. Apart from business he foresaw his welcome. And, 
arrived in New York, he was furnished for the rest with an 
unusual letter of introduction " To all whom it may concern," 
of which letter he felt much prouder than of his title : 



I wish to recommend the bearer, my friend Sir Swire 
Smith of England, one of the most earnest workers for 
genuine good, especially in the educational field, whom it is 
my good fortune to know ; also a real friend to the United 
States. Any attention shown him will be gratefully appre- 
ciated by him, and by 

Yours very truly, 

ANDREW CARNEGIE. 



PHOSPHATE MINING 249 

But those relics ! Is there any single object more dismal 
and grievous than a derelict, on sea or land ? 

Nothing can ever have been more flattering than the 
prospect of phosphate mining when first presented. B.'s 
calculations showed los. a ton profit, and he was confident 
that at Palmetta alone we should be busy mining as long as 
we lived. Sales of 20,000 tons showed on paper 10,000. 
Yet before we had gone far the quality so depreciated that 
shiploads delivered at Hamburg were thrown on our hands, 
and had to be sold at ruinous prices. When Angas came on 
the scene he complained of inefficient machinery and methods. 
We responded, but lost more and more. We dropped all 
our capital and much of what we had borrowed on debentures, 
and gave up phosphates in despair. 

Then the Juliette deposits were prospected, and described 
as the richest in Florida. " You have," said our experts, 
" a solid block of 500,000 tons all available, and if you work 
it you will retrieve all your losses and make a mint of money." 
But we couldn't take up the project. A separate company 
was formed with a capital of 16,000, and a splendid plant 
of the most modern type put up by Angas. Large contracts 
were taken, and once more on paper los. a ton profit was 
shown, but ill luck came again ; the percentage of phosphate 
in the dirt fell from 70 or 80 to 10, 15 and 20, and money 
ran away like ditchwater. In less than a year the 16,000 
were washed out. We leased other mines at about $1,000 
each, and how they are doing I have no idea. 

Alas for the old-age pension ! So far as phosphates were 
to have paid it, the Syndicate had been dipping in a bran- 
tub ; and all the luck was a ruin of shacks, debris and huge 
abandoned pits, silent in a tropical wilderness. The sight 
was pitiable. But, as it was not a time for toying with 
regrets, or expectations, he took that sight in passing and 
applied himself to plain business. This concerned estates 
at Jacksonville and on the Indian River, together with the 
foreclosed properties of the Land Mortgage Bank ; I pass 
over the unromantic and distressful case of a brickfield. 
Nor did he go again to Texas. Joint stock enterprise spares 
no man's feelings, and his friend Silliman had been displaced. 



250 THE MASTER SPINNER 

This was a busman's holiday. But one generation may 
see things over again, quite freshly, through the eyes of the 
next. For Mary, Florida meant sightseeing. And in the 
midst of business there was an unexpected diversion ; they 
were summoned by telegram to Dungeness, on the island 
of Mrs. Tom Carnegie, where they spent a long week-end 
picturesque enough. 

It might have been the scene of a novel with illustrations 
by Dana Gibson. Their hostess had a large family of married 
sons and daughters, housed there on the island, and wished 
Sir Swire Smith to see this charming arrangement, matriarchal 
and luxurious. Arriving late in the evening with his two 
companions, and greeted warmly, he had a glimpse of 
magnificence and gaiety before retiring ; and in the morning 
the young folks with their summering friends trooped in to 
breakfast. I am sure his eyes sparkled at them an exhilarat- 
ing sample of American youth sporting the days carelessly. 
Then he went out to look at the palatial house with its great 
verandas, clothed in ivies, climbing flowers and grape vine, 
at the vast sub-tropical gardens, the stables, baths and 
spacious annexes for guests ; and his note on the place is, 
" I doubt if in any country I have seen its equal." On 
Cumberland Island, a reef sixteen miles in length, there were 
none but invited people, and, for their perfect seclusion, 
there was not an outdoor servant allowed to remain between 
Saturday noon and Monday morning. But how homelike 
Skibo seemed by contrast ! In the liberal taste of his hostess 
there was something exotic, though he did not define the 
difference. A shipload of negro labour being carried off 
to the mainland, there remained a society untroubled 
by restraints, very gay and friendly, dressed for sport and 
revelling in it but unconcerned, too, with the ideals of 
" Uncle Andrew." 

However, he joined the bathers (the girls came in from 
playing tennis in their costumes), was driven about to pay 
visits, and had a round of golf with Mrs. Tom, never the man 
to be out of any fun that was going. There was an after- 



GOLF 251 

dinner walk with ladies, the air balmy at nightfall, when 
he once more spouted Romeo. There was music, and he 
sang. 

At golf he was beaten, and " made but little of the swim- 
ming." Golf was a Scotch acquisition of recent years, his 
coaches being Uncle Andrew's men and Uncle Andrew, 
who " always plays everything to win, and his ways, 
which I have often noted, are fully understood by his rela- 
tives." He was not the best of coaches, either and thereby 
hangs a tale agreeable to humbler players. Sir Swire Smith, 
picturing once in public his joy after that offer of 10,000 
for the library how he could not sleep for excitement, and 
hardly believed it, and so on said that next morning, as they 
went out together to the links, Mr. Carnegie stopped and 
said very gravely, " I have repented me of the offer I made 
you yesterday " and his heart stood in his mouth ! "I 
don't think," went on the cautious benefactor " I don't 
think, after all, I can fairly give you a stroke a hole." The 
audience understood that such a giver was free to win every 
game of golf thenceforward. But, in print, the story caught 
the eye of a golf journalist, and his malicious comment on 
it was to ask : " What sort of a player is Sir Swire Smith, if 
he ought to have a stroke a hole from the Laird of Skibo ? " 

After twelve days in Florida came eighteen days in 
Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburg, Boston and New York 
from his own point of view the pleasure trip. Few Eng- 
lishmen, I think, see the American cities under better auspices 
than he had enjoyed, and it is doubtful if any other has taken 
the same insatiable interest in their growth and promise. 
It was not an interest confined to his own trade. He explored 
every great industry. On this visit, for example, he only 
passed to the American Woollen Company, a concern of 
twenty-six mills and 36,000 operatives, after seeing Pittsburg, 
the Baldwin locomotive works, the factories of the Waltham 
Watch Company, Edison's place, a great hatmaker's and 
others ; and everywhere he got at the heart of the business. 
This being unusual, I state the fact after an inspection of 



252 THE MASTER SPINNER 

his note-books, for it supports Mr. Carnegie's warranty, 
" a real friend of the United States." Jealous investigation 
does not get so far. 

Armed with that open letter he was doing for his personal 
satisfaction, as an altruist, precisely what he had done first 
as a Royal Commissioner. He admired what was good in 
the factories as in the schools, being a free trader. Iron 
sharpeneth iron. 

So more was made of him than ever at Philadelphia 
by the Dobsons, at Boston by the Atkinsons and their 
brilliant group, at Washington by Senator Quay, at Pittsburg 
by Judge Reed and he continued to add to his friendships. 
The Manufacturers' Club of Philadelphia offered to him and 
his colleague membership for a fortnight ; they attended a 
dinner given by Mr. Atkinson to the Scientific Club of Boston ; 
and he was called upon at Heath Hill by Mr. S. N. D. North, 
then taking charge of the Census Department, but already 
known to him in England. 

It seems important to show more explicitly the frank 
outlook upon America's future to which he had been brought. 
That outlook was not common. Speaking in January at 
Stockton-on-Tees, he had said : 

There is one country to which we must eventually yield 
the palm of commercial as of agricultural ascendancy. I 
do not mean Germany. Let me give you an allegory. 

A man lives on a small island, which he develops by 
his discoveries, inventions and labours. Some of his sons 
try their fortunes across the seas. The father provides them 
with capital and machinery, and with instruction in the 
use of it. They and their families plough the fertile soil 
of a greater piece of land, grow wheat, corn and cotton, 
breed cattle, build railways and factories ; they mine 
gold, silver and coal, make iron and steel, strike oil, find 
chemicals, discover many other resources. The father, 
having ships, supplies their passing wants and takes their 
products in exchange. Both they and he prosper by leaps 
and bounds ; but the sons, with manifold greater advantages, 
prosper more rapidly than the father. 

That is an outline sketch of the history of Britain and 



THE FUTURE FOR AMERICA 253 

America. I yield the future to America because I cannot get 
over the stubborn facts of her magnificent territory, equal 
to more than twenty Britains in one and capable of supplying 
her with nearly all the necessaries of life and the raw materials 
for her industries. And when America in her own interest 
" lets herself loose," as some day she will, pulls down her 
custom houses and meets the world's competition, relying 
upon her own unrivalled means, energies and skill, she will 
enter into her undeniable heritage. 

Some say that it will be a bad day for Britain. That 
depends on Britain. If she will rise to her responsibilities for 
the training of her people, my own opinion is that it will be as 
good a day for Britain as for America. What America has 
to sell we want to buy, and we have thriven on cheapness 
too long to be afraid of it. The whole aim of modern scientific 
education is to take advantage of every means that will 
lessen human toil and increase human comfort. Our two 
nations have done more than all others to solve a great 
problem, that of combining the lowest cost of production 
with the highest wages ; and they will still go hand in hand 
enriching each other by mutual service. 

America paid him its only compliment a year later. 
He had once more addressed the Liverpool Technical School 
at a distribution of prizes ; and this address, on " Commerce 
and Culture," being sent to Washington by the United States 
Consul, was printed there by the Government, in an edition 
of 50,000 copies. 



CHAPTER XVII 

Posers Mr. Chamberlain's ambition The talking pig Habits of Lord 
Brassey " The Old Brigade " Religious beliefs Bachelor enterprise 
Irving's last interview The blind man Death of Sam Smith Scenes 
in Serbia, Buda-Pesth and Nuremberg Royal College of Art : Secret 
history Sense of failure. 



THE speech from which a passage has been quoted 
might serve as a landmark on the boundaries of a 
new age. I mean that Britain was no longer teaching 
the world to use machinery. The commercial nations 
had learnt its use. The age of which Sir Swire Smith is 
a typical figure had, strictly speaking, passed. There 
began to be disputes about what should follow, and, from 
now on to the Great War, these helped to keep him busy. 

He was the Liberal advocate of that unexampled age. 
I think it will be allowed that, in the North of England, he 
proved to be the most brilliant defender of British fiscal 
policy against assaults launched in 1903 by Mr. Chamberlain, 
who proposed another policy as an Imperialist. No other 
business man of the North had acquired his grasp of economics 
or his powers of exposition. He was at once asked by the 
Manchester Guardian to reply to Mr. Chamberlain in an 
article on the worsted and woollen trades. Mr. Morley 
wrote : 

FLOWERMEAD, WIMBLEDON PARK, S.W., 
September 30, 1903. 

DEAR SIR SWIRE SMITH, I wish you would tell me what 
strike you as the salient points in this fiscal controversy. 
You have special experience and knowledge, and you live 
in a centre where the discussion must be very " actual." 

254 



MR. CHAMBERLAIN'S AMBITION 255 

Tell me in succinct form, if you have time, with what posers 
you would confront the enemy. I should be very grateful. 

Yours sincerely, 

JOHN MORLEY. 

He furnished these " posers," was consulted by the Duke 
of Devonshire as to a House of Commons Committee of 
Inquiry, lectured at Bradford on the subject, addressed other 
meetings as it caught attention. The assault being un- 
provoked he took it the more seriously, imputing it to ignor- 
ance of facts and knowing this to be general. There was 
nothing in the results of free trade to alarm him as a spinner. 
There was much to please him as a philanthropist. He set 
out the facts in cogent and clear speeches, which are only 
not of permanent value because the fight has shifted since 
that time. Once more he had to decline an invitation to 
sit in Parliament that of the Skipton Liberals. He accepted, 
however, an appointment by the Clothworkers' Company 
as their representative at the Court of Leeds University. 

Mr. Ritchie, met at Skibo twelve months after the Cham- 
berlain coup, made a confidant of him. 

He told me of the difficulties with Chamberlain and 
Balfour prior to C.'s tour in South Africa. C. pressed him 
to retain the duty on wheat as a colonial preference, and he 
refused ; he would resign rather. I told him that his 
courage and sacrifice had saved the situation. He said that, 
had the Duke come out with him and the others, Balfour 
would have resigned or thrown Chamberlain over. The 
Duke had been completely deceived. R. spoke as openly 
as if I had been a confidential friend. He greatly dislikes 
Chamberlain, whose ambition knows no limits. 

Mr. Balfour had said at Sheffield, " While I am Leader 
I propose to lead." On this, Sir Swire Smith now remarked 
that he was like the henpecked husband in Punch, say- 
ing the same thing from under the bed. Another story 
told as a fable related to that Rossendale election in which 
Mr. Farrer Ecroyd had stood as a " fair trader " ; and he 
revived it now, apropos of high prices and short supplies 



256 THE MASTER SPINNER 

under Protection. After the election, a man carrying milk 
to his pig in a pail spilled half of it on the way : when he 
had poured what was left into the trough, the pig looked 
up and said, " Hullo ! Has Ecroyd gotten in, then ? 
There was an apt quotation, too, from " Henry VII." Mr. 
Chamberlain had said that the idea behind " dumping " was 
to kill English industries and then put prices up. Really? 
But " the man that sold the lion's skin while the beast lived 
was killed in hunting him." For the time being, at all events, 
tariff-making was laughed out ; and if Cobden had been 
too hopeful of a universal freedom, so, he said, had John 
the Baptist. Did any one propose to go back on Christianity 
because, two thousand years ago, John the Baptist said, 
" The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand ? " 

He was in Scotland a good deal that year. After another 
Italian trip at Easter with a party in which the ladies were 
keener on shopping than on gondoliers and moonlight 
he was not only at Skibo but twice at Beaufort Castle, from 
which place there were motor rounds, and the marriage of 
Miss Helen Phipps with Mr. Bradley Martin. That affair, 
of course, was brilliant. Mr. Choate was there to propose 
" The Bride and Bridegroom " ; the guests included many 
rich or titled people, and the bridegroom's kilt " with its 
diamonds " was said by a credulous journalist to have cost 
6,000. There were, in fact, presents that had cost more, 
and choir boys from London. " The choir boys," he notes, 
" were having a great time of it. They had travelled by 
night train, and expected to see bears in Scotland." 

He attended the opening of the Hugh Miller Institute, 
and there met not only Mr. Ritchie but Lord Brassey, whose 
yacht was in the harbour. Lord Brassey showed a Skibo 
party over the Sunbeam, and told them all about her ; also 
he came next day to play golf. 

He amused us by walking at full speed as he neared the 
links. He was carrying his clubs, and a sailor walked by 
his side, carrying nothing. Lord B. said that he carried the 
clubs to get exercise, and that he walked to the tune of the 



LORD BRASSEY'S YACHTING 257 

Grenadiers' March, which he hummed to himself to keep 
his speed up. The ashes from the yacht's boilers are hauled 
up from the stokehole by a hand windlass, and he said that, 
whatever he may be doing, the moment he hears the windlass 
going he turns out, takes off his coat and gives a hand with 
the men. When landing, too, he always takes an oar with 
them. His boatswain he has had with him thirty-five 
years, and he (? the man) never goes ashore except to have 
his hair cut, which is not often. Excellent stories about 
these men, some of whom had made about 60 and wasted 
it, living like gentlemen while it lasted. 

At breakfast Mr. Carnegie was telling some of us of a 
proposed visit by Mr. Robert Franks (his financial secretary), 
which he had put off because he was so busy meeting the 
notes and certificates of cities in different parts of the world 
to which Mr. C. is giving libraries, etc. Franks said that 
his disbursements for some time back had amounted to 4,000 
a day. 

The library at Keighley (of which Sir Swire Smith had 
fittingly laid the foundation stone) was opened in the same 
year by the Duke of Devonshire ; and then the Institute, 
with its schools of science and art, was taken over by the 
town council. Those schools had now been eclipsed, but 
in that there was nothing to be sorry for ; nor did he regret 
the taking over under an Act of Parliament that he had 
helped to promote. Mr. Brigg and he were coming, all 
the same, to the end of their local services as educationists. 
They gave them for a little longer as co-opted members of 
an education committee, but they and the other founders 
were " the Old Brigade." 

He had been lessening his public work in other ways, 
and there are incidents to suggest that his view of life was 
lighter. Humour kept the upper hand of sentiment now. 

In regard to religious ideas, reason had come into its 
own quite definitely. When it did so, or under what fillip, 
I do not know. Looking back at his development it seems 
most likely that, when startled by Sir Isaac Holden and Mr. 
Carnegie, he had examined his own mind and found it 
destitute of spiritual convictions. If nothing of the sort 

17 



258 THE MASTER SPINNER 

had happened, indifference to metaphysics might have allowed 
him to go on mistaking morality for religion. Certainly he 
never discussed religion. He simply dropped out except 
that, once a year, he went from Steeton to an anniversary 
service and put his cheque in the plate. Religion was a good 
thing, he seemed to think, however extraordinary. All 
that escaped him on the subject, in face of other people's 
beliefs, was an occasional " Wonderful ! how they can think 
such things," or some other puzzled exclamation. In the 
same tone, precisely, he would pretend to be shocked at 
Sunday work. It was the tone of a tolerant humour. He 
continued punctilious about any special appearance at a 
funeral, and the wearing of black. 

Lady Purves Stewart (Miss Bessie Franks), a friend of 
Mary's and of his own, found him out once, when driven 
in from the Manor to chapel at her own request. He had 
to put his head out in order to direct the coachman ! But 
that was a new coachman. 

There was a still greater change in the fact that even he, 
the quondam " Arthur " of a Tennyson cult, idealized women 
no longer. The best of them known to him would not have 
it. At last he seems to have lost the hope of marrying, and 
taken women as he found them, thankful with more or less 
delight if they amused him. For all live men, the other sex 
has an insatiable interest. He now indulged it playfully. 
Any worship had been absorbed in his serious friendships, 
of which there were a few great ones that survived all odds 
and very many slight but pleasant ones. 

The rare thing, after so many rebuffs as he had suffered, 
was a sportive and incorrigible enterprise which might 
add other friendships to the number, but, however honest, 
ran no risk of being disillusioned. The bachelor had become 
as shrewd as the man of business. Sir Swire Smith " played 
the game " in both capacities, and played it keenly ; but 
as a bachelor he had had not one Florida but half a dozen, 
and knew more because there was more to learn. If certain 
women of the stricter sort had failed to value him, those of 



SIR HENRY IRVING 259 

his own humour had made him a confidant often. He was 
trusted by them, instinctively. 

They, then, and not the chrysolites of his pious quest, were 
to console him. Romance was not dead, although one 
shouldn't make too much of it. 

In one respect there had been no change his love of 
the drama ; and in October 1905, he had the pleasure of a 
long talk with Sir Henry Irving, the chief god of his idolatry 
as a theatregoer. Some pathos attaches to his notes ; 
they are the last that record any word of the great actor's, 
for he died in the same week. There was a luncheon given 
in his honour by the Mayor of Bradford, and Sir Swire 
Smith was placed on his right. 

He was very affable, and we had an animated conversa- 
tion. I told him that I was one of his oldest friends, although 
he did not know me ; that I had seen him in all his great 
parts, and that for thirty years and more, whenever I went 
to London, I had made for the Lyceum to see him and Ellen 
Terry. Many an hour had I waited in the Strand for the 
opening of the pit door. He had given me a new interest 
in Shakespeare ; and I could speak for thousands when I 
said so. " Ah," he said, " it is a great compensation to 
feel that one has done something to make people appreciate 
our great dramatist." Then we talked of other actors and 
actresses ; and I was struck by the peculiar kindness of his 
tone. 

Of Mr Howe, the oldest member of his company, who died 
a few years ago at, I think, eighty-five, he said that he was like 
Adam in " As You Like It," who would not leave his master, 
but " limped in pure love " after him to the end. Mr. Howe 
I remembered as the dashing and handsome lead in Buck- 
stone's Haymarket Company, when they gave representa- 
tions in the St. George's Hall in the later sixties, and the 
good people of Bradford, whom no power on earth could 
lure to a theatre, crowded to see them. 

" Yes, yes," he said with a smile. " However, I think 
the Nonconformist conscience is a little more elastic now 
than in those days." 

" But no man has done more than you to make it so." 
" Ah, well ! Howe was a dear old man, a Quaker. On 
my great tour in America I suggested that he should remain 



260 THE MASTER SPINNER 

at home in his country cottage, and make himself happy 
among his flowers ; and I would look after him. No. He 
wanted to go with me, and I took him. We travelled in 
the cold weather. I shall never forget how overjoyed 
my old friend was, on the trip from Montreal to New Orleans, 
to see the magnolias like forest trees, and the beautiful 
oleanders that bloomed in the streets of the southern city." 

His tenderness of manner was very touching. Howe 
had been a pensioner. I think it revealed the secret of the 
affection and esteem in which Sir Henry Irving was held by 
all those who knew him personally. 

I amused him with the story of Buckstone and Compton 
at Haworth, how on the way home fall of the foot I 
put the horse to his speed and Buckstone held on to the 
side and entreated me to pull up. " Oh, but," I said, " he's 
not doing his best yet, he can beat this." " For God's sake, 
stop ! " shouted Buckstone. " We shall all be killed " 
and Compton joined in the cry. When they had breathed 
again they said it had been " fine," they had never seen 
anything to equal it, " but don't let us have any more of 
it." Sir Henry laughed ; and he imitated Buckstone's 
peculiar way of talking, then Compton's " How he jerked 
out his words ! " The great Irving, so noted for his own 
mannerisms. 

He had his speech written out in rather a large hand, 
so that, when it was placed on the table, he could easily 
with his pince-nez see it standing. He turned over the 
pages quietly, and spoke with such deliberation that he 
could almost have been reported in longhand. He pleaded 
for a national theatre ; with him the sands were running 
out, but the national theatre would come. Afterwards he 
spoke on this topic excitedly, as if the delivery of the address 
had stirred him. Why should not a company be formed on 
the lines of the Saxe-Meiningen troupe that visited England 
twenty years ago ? It could produce the great Shakespearian 
dramas on the most adequate scale and tour the large cities 
with them. 

Irving, whose heart was weak, seems to have kindled 
gradually. In this last flash of animation he told some 
stories, one of which Sir Swire Smith preserved. It is to 
be read with deliberation, because it was told ore rotundo 
for dramatic effect. 



A MOVING RECITER 261 

" The art of noble elocution," he said, " is not confined 
to those of us who have studied it all our lives. I have 
often paused to admire a poor, blind mendicant who reads 
with his fingers on Blackfriars Bridge. There are few 
finer exponents of the great style in diction, and he does not 
read without just emphasis. Listening the other day, I 
was fascinated by his musical, rich tones as he read : ' And 
the Lord said unto Moses' the poor fellow had some 
difficulty with the Braille, and turned back. ' The Lord 
said unto Moses ' his delicate fingers brushed the surface 
of the page, and at each repetition the voice rose in fuller 
and finer volume : ' The Lord said unto Moses. . . . Who 
the hell's been putting sand on my Bible ?' " Sir Henry 
waved his hand lightly, waiting with a grave smile to add, 
making his point, " An actor like the rest of us." 

That was one of the stories with which Sir Swire Smith, 
reproducing Irving's manner and tones, amused a suitable 
audience. His own dramatic powers were used most effec- 
tively for simple pathos. The " society entertainer " in 
vogue has neither so much sincerity nor so much warmth. 
To some of Edwin Waugh's best verses, in which the homely 
and pure sentiment of Lancashire is poignant, he could give 
extraordinary realism, Mr. Brigg says : 

There was a dinner party at the late Sir John Horsfall's 
house, and in the drawing-room we sat round the fire 
while Sir Swire gave us dialect sketches, such as the " Ode 
to the Sun " and " Come Whoam to thy Childer an' Me." 
He excelled himself. We listened spellbound, while tears 
trickled down the faces of many of the guests. 

The guests entertained at Steeton in these years 
(1901-6) were chiefly friends from America. They included 
Mr. Phipps, Mr. and Mrs. Franks with their witty sister 7 
the Hartwells, of Indian River predilection ; Mr. Edward 
Atkinson and his daughter, Miss Carla Atkinson, with her 
friend and the host's great friend Miss Mary Williams, of 
Brookline ; Mrs. North, of Washington, and others, chosen 
spirits all. They left happy memories. 



262 THE MASTER SPINNER 

In the summer of 1905, before the American losses 
could be redeemed, his brother, struck down with a spinal 
malady, ceased to be of use in the business, of which " he 
had been the sheet anchor when I was away." The worst 
was not at first suspected. Sam was treated for rheumatism, 
and advised to take change and exercise. All that could 
have saved him was absolute rest. This cure was attempted 
from October with hopeful effect, but he died of congestion 
of the lungs in April ; an amiable, safe and much-regretted 
ally. 

Between the youngest Royal Commissioner of twenty 
years ago and the young Secretary of the Commission, Mr. 
Gilbert Redgrave, there was a closer intimacy than has been 
shown. They had shared modest breakfasts in cremeries, 
and the romantic outlook. Once they had run away together 
to climb the Brocken at nightfall, and, finding the hotel 
on the summit full, had slept very badly and briefly between 
rocks on a couch of heather and branches to discover that, 
in their absence, the other Commissioners had been enter- 
tained by the Empress Frederick at Potsdam. Since then, 
Mr. Redgrave had shared the Florida hopes and disappoint- 
ments. He now wrote that, going in June to Nurem- 
berg for a centennial exhibition that was to commemorate 
the freeing of Bavaria, he would be glad of company ; they 
would be able " to renew their testimony with concrete illus- 
trations." It was a lure not to be resisted. Tied to the 
mill though he now was, Sir Swire yielded to a fourth letter 
on the project, stipulating only that the trip should be 
extended I It had occurred to him that, by way of Vienna 
and Buda-Pesth, he might usefully visit a customer at 
Lescovatz, in Serbia. 

He was doing more and more foreign trade, but ran no 
risks in it. The first thing with every new buyer was to 
ascertain his actual standing. Small orders only till that 
was known. Mills were new in Serbia, so he went himself 
into the heart of Serbia to make inquiries about each of 
them. The year before, he had gone to Germany to hear 



PICTURESQUE SERBIA 263 

what was thought of his yarn, see what other yarn was 
selling and get his customers' guidance. 

The little country that, within ten years, was to be made 
a pretext for unimaginable war yielded the most picturesque 
scenes of human life he had studied. 

It was, he says, well cultivated, primitive and beautiful. 
There were no beggars. The peasantry men, women 
and children were at work in the fields at half-past three 
in the morning, as he saw. On the other hand, men played 
cards in the cafe's of Belgrade at noon, and the police carried 
short swords and revolvers. There he saw the beauty 
and fashion of the capital on a June evening in the Public 
Gardens, which afford superb views of the Save and Danube 
" many very lovely women well dressed, officers with black 
jackets and white trousers or white jackets and black trousers, 
nurses and children, a pleasant sight till sunset." But 
the most characteristic scene was market day at Lescovatz, 
where the country people came with produce and the things 
they had made at home to exchange for things they wanted : 

Marvellous costumes, some like those of Italy ; many 
Gipsies, among them brown-skinned, herculean fellows ; 
women suckling their children, bosoms exposed without 
indelicacy ; other women spinning flax or wool as they waited ; 
wagonloads of hemp drawn by oxen ; lambs, goats, the 
ugliest possible pigs ; shops, exposing everything to the 
street, stocked with the work of every kind of small art and 
craft ; people bringing in their dough to be baked ; public 
weighing of flax with trones an old-world variety as great, 
probably, as in Egypt or India. On the trees there were 
ripe mulberries and pomegranates. 

On Hungary and Austria his notes are less enthusiastic. 
At Buda-Pesth : 

Dined at our hotel, the Queen of England. Don't do it 
again. A popular music hall : plenty of light and drinking 
tables, but the show seemed a feeble one. Public buildings 
most imposing. The Royal Palace has the most superb 
reception and ballrooms of any palace I have seen, and 



264 THE MASTER SPINNER 

said to contain over 800 rooms. I wonder where the money 
comes from that is spent here. It is pay, pay, and all the 
people are well dressed and filling the cars and cafe's, yet 
there seems to be little business. Of course there is a great 
grain trade on the Danube, and this is no doubt a centre 
for shopping and society. 

Never in my life have I seen such development of the 
female figure ; it is abnormal even in girls of fifteen. A 
tramcar was like an exhibit of Lady Pigot's shorthorns. 
Called on D. S., who sat next me on the Cedric out to America 
three years ago ; he was away, but Mrs. S. received me, her 
appearance surprising. She was smoking a cigarette, and 
had on, I think, only a muslin gown, the whole shape of her 
figure clearly defined against the light. Introduced us to 
her daughter, similarly attired. They apologized that they 
were not dressed. Her daughter is studying medicine and 
will marry a doctor. A son, who speaks English, volunteered 
to be our guide over the city. We had some lively talk, 
and she said she could find me a lovely wife with plenty of 
money in a day. She lit cigarette after cigarette. 

Railway officials wear gloves and carry little brushes 
for their moustaches. 

There was already treaty trouble with Serbia, and I 
find significant notes on German nationalism. " Employers 
feel that the chief thing is to improve the condition of their 
people ; the greatest safeguard and the prime mover in 
national prosperity has been the unity of Germany. The 
Empire is ' the greatest factor in progress,' it has given 
confidence to all." Not the schools, the German Empire. 
However, he took no alarm, seeing " Socialism inborn in 
the German people," and being compelled to allow that 
nationalized railways and other services assisted trade. 

At Nuremberg there had been 

An interesting sight at dinner. A party of six took the 
next table to ours at the hotel, four ladies. As they came 
in I said to myself, " These must be English, they are so 
nicely dressed," and I overheard English once or twice 
spoken. The head waiter told Herr von Diefenbach that 
they were the Princess of Meiningen (sister of the Emperor) 
and suite. They sat long over their dinner. Redgrave 



ROYAL COLLEGE OF ART 265 

said they took four bottles of wine (two champagne), and 
while we remained the Princess smoked two cigarettes. All 
the ladies smoked. The Princess was like her cousin Victoria, 
but seemed to have little warm blood in her face. How we 
travellers note trifles ! 

For the first time, on coming home he had thoughts of 
getting rid of his business. A nephew, the only person 
he could leave in charge, was too young to manage it, and 
he felt that to be deprived of liberty would be unendurable. 
He was, in fact, to be tied to business more or less closely for 
ten years longer. But, by whatever means, he kept some 
liberty ; which now, when there was no more question of 
marriage, seemed to be the single compensation of bachelor- 
dom. His lighter mind demanded it. He was in Austria- 
Hungary once more in the same year with a delegation 
chosen by the London Chamber of Commerce to visit the 
municipalities of Buda-Pesth, Vienna and Prague and in 
1907 he went to America with little other purpose than to 
enjoy himself carelessly. 

He now took up a fight with officialdom, adroitly. 

The reform of the Royal College of Art on a practical 
basis would make a chapter of secret history not without 
humour. Instead of amateurs, the College was turning out 
fully equipped teachers and designers ; but in reforming it 
his protege^ Mr. Spencer, revealed a personality not to be 
trammelled in red tape, and the late Sir Robert Morant, 
Secretary to the Board of Education, undertook to bind him. 
There was a deplorable tussle over the filling up of official 
forms, so multiplied that the proper work of a Principal 
seemed less important. Nothing could be done about it. 
The mischief was that, since the reign of Sir John Gorst, 
there had not been a real Minister of Education. How was 
it thinkable, in this country, that the College should have 
any sort of national standing like the cole des Beaux- Arts ? 
Precisely that standing, however, was what Sir Swire Smith 
desired for it : only it was to be an ficole des Arts Industriels. 

He did not risk his hand against a formal disciplinarian ; 



266 THE MASTER SPINNER 

but he found friends for Mr. Spencer, and made a show of 
his interest. His first move made in the capacity of an 
ex-Royal Commissioner was to invite Sir Henry Roscoe, 
Sir Philip Magnus, Mr. Redgrave and the South Kensington 
officials to visit the College as his guests one day. I do 
not know what Sir Robert Morant thought of this vivacity. 
The recent visitors to Germany and Austria were able to 
say that they had seen nothing like the Royal College of Art 
abroad. It was doing unique service to British industries. 
For the rest, Sir Swire Smith pointed out, on the authority 
of an Austrian art director who gave it that praise after a 
tour of Europe, that the College was housed in the most 
unsuitable buildings to be seen in any capital city. It is 
still so housed. 

He held a watching brief for applied art from that time 
forward. Fifteen months later, there was an International 
Drawing Congress at South Kensington that vindicated 
the reform. 

In this congress, although it represented the art teachers 
of all countries and promoted an important exhibition, 
Sir Robert Morant took no interest. What did he intend, 
in fact, by denying empty buildings to the exhibition until 
it was almost too late to hang the drawings ? It was very 
well for the Board of Education to get up a " retrospective 
exhibition " of its own students' work from the provinces 
but why embarrass delegates who had come at great ex- 
pense from the United States, for example ? Sir Swire 
Smith, who had been asked to speak by Mr. Spencer, took 
some pains. I saw it, being the press agent of the Congress. 

One knows, now, that there cannot have been another 
Englishman of his time equipped to speak at such a Congress 
as he was. Except Mr. Redgrave, his colleagues of the Com- 
mission had done little to follow up their inquiry, whereas 
he had pursued it in all his foreign journeys. So far as trade 
was concerned, he would have made an excellent Minister 
of Education : nor would he have neglected other interests. 
Yet he took the pains of a man who knows nothing. 



HIS MODESTY 267 

It was not the first time Sir Swire had interested me ; 
for indeed I had thought I knew him well enough to write 
a humorous novel about Keighley, in which there was a 
figure that distantly resembled him. But on that occasion 
one began to get his measure. In twenty-seven years of 
journalism I had not seen a public man so anxious for guidance 
and careless of appearances. He came into the Principal's 
room very homely and curt, asking how things were going ; 
listened to the tale of obstruction with concern but no com- 
ment ; and then, as to what he could say about art and in- 
dustry, questioned his half-timer with humility. He got what 
he wanted quickly, like a business man, but half persuaded us 
that he did not know what to make of it. As for his homely 
look, he wore a suit of blue serge with a turn-down linen 
collar, neither a ring nor a visible watch-chain, spats nor 
slip by no means the " Dandy Swire " of legend, though 
trim enough and well groomed. Just then he was both 
clouded and humourless. But he made such an orderly, 
trenchant speech to the Congress, so much more to the point 
than any other, that when he lost the manuscript I was able 
to reproduce much of it from memory. The Congress printed 
it, under the title, " Art and Trade." 

That was his manner when seriously disturbed ; and at 
the back of his mind, prudently concealed for the time being, 
there were measures to be taken for the protection of the 
College and its larger usefulness. They must wait. When 
the quarrel came to a head, he had, however, made the 
acquaintance of Mr. Runciman, then Minister of Education, 
and was able to intervene privately. 

But how many things he had failed in ! The secret of 
that unfashionable humbleness, which his friends thought 
charming, was this consciousness. Every kindness touched 
him. That accounts for the tone of a letter to Sir Henry 
Roscoe on the Life and Experiences : 

I confess that in reading the story I have sometimes 
felt a lump in my throat. I have remembered that, with 



268 THE MASTER SPINNER 

all your attainments, and the estimation in which you are 
held by the greatest, you have always been so kind to me. 
You have been doing " nameless, unremembered acts of 
kindness " all your life. It has been given to some of us 
to know how that life has been brightened and inspired by 
a wife and devoted helpmeet and loving children. God's 
benison go with you all. 






CHAPTER XVIII 

Slighted Brussels Exhibition and the War A mock confessional Talk 
with the Belgian Queen Nice American characteristics Lord Charles 
Beresford and the lumberman " Cutting the string " Lord Morley's 
friendship Bang and Queen of Italy The barefoot girl An artist's 
honeymoon The loan repaid. 

IN due time " the Old Brigade " at Keighley found 
themselves disparaged. There was not a young 
brigade pushing them out and doing the town new 
service ; but they had been more than a nine days' wonder. 
" To have done is to hang quite out of fashion." The Town 
Council did not re-elect Sir Swire Smith and Mr. B. S. Brigg 
as co-opted members of their Education Committee. 

A man may think that he has made but a poor hand of 
life, and keep the better heart to taste some sweets of it. 
But had Sir Swire Smith, in fact, " done " ? His old ally 
was, alas, an invalid ; that question scarcely put itself in his 
case, albeit there was no reason why he should be slighted. 
Nor did Sir Swire, for his own part, admit it, however 
modestly. It never occurred to him. He was hurt ; but 
he was mainly concerned for Keighley, asking where the 
young brigade was. So far from having done, he was writing 
two pamphlets for the Free Trade Union on the way to keep 
the wool and cotton trades prosperous, and otherwise pegging 
away. In his unflagging devotion to business, he had to 
sum up the long struggle of his own industry. One of these 
pamphlets completes that story thus : 

I have made a full confession of the sufferings which 
the British wool industry has undergone in its fight against 
every nation that has learned the trade from us, and against 
every tariff that has been set up against it. I have shown 

269 



270 THE MASTER SPINNER 

how that industry has been shorn of its monopolies. It 
almost seems a marvel that any of its representatives should 
live to tell the tale. Yet it has been steadily growing ; 
and I am here to state that, stripped of its advantage, it 
never worked up so much raw material as now, never gave 
fuller employment, paid higher wages, enjoyed better credit 
nor did a larger business in the markets of the world. There 
is no grass in the streets of Bradford, but many streets and 
houses cover the ground where grass grew a generation 
ago. 



And the implication was, not that he had done, but that 
you never can have done ; monopolies mean decay, and 
the only good thing is vigilant and resourceful effort. 

Of course there were sympathetic letters about the slight. 
Here is one of them : 

15 CIRCUS, BATH, 

November 20, '07. 

MY DEAR SWIRE, I and all of us are disgusted with 
the tories (sic) in turning you and Ben Brigg out. It's 
just like them 1 I have been reading the Life of Coke of 
Norfolk, a sterling man and staunch Whig. He said to a 
friend, " Never trust a tory I never have and never shall." 
That applies to-day as well as a hundred years ago. Your 
speech was conceived in the best possible taste.f I quite 
admired the position you took : not a word of disparage- 
ment or disappointment, but only a wish to help as you had 
done. It was just like you a good man and true. . . . 

We are here for a change, having been three months at 
Woodcote, and I ani taking the baths as a precaution, and 
doing so far well. Now you will come to Woodcote at Christ- 
mas, I hope ; if not the fatted calf, then the fatted turkey 
shall be killed, and we will all try to be jolly together, in 
defiance of all the troubles of flesh and spirit. 

Love to Mary and yourself from 

Yours affectionately, 

HENRY E. ROSCOE. 

N.B. My wife's love. She was going to write to-day 
N.B. 2. The pipe you gave me has been a constant 
solace and joy to me. I never had such a nice one 



IN COURT DRESS 271 

He went to Woodcote for Christmas accordingly with 
a bagful of presents. Next summer his new friends the 
Brasseys had him for a week-end at Normanhurst, where 
other guests included Vice-Admiral Sir R. N. Custance, 
Sir Philip Watts (Director of Naval Construction), Sir W. 
Holland, Lady Duff and Miss Nina Kay-Shuttleworth. 

If Keighley seemed ungrateful towards himself, he was 
determined it should show a little gratitude to Mr. Carnegie. 
He had a marble bust of his friend executed by Professor 
Lanteri, and presented this to the Library, getting Mr. 
Frederic Harrison to unveil it. The spokesman, whom he 
had first met at Mrs. Hertz's salon, was chosen because of 
his personal standing with Mr. and Mrs. Carnegie ; but 
Sir Swire Smith himself made the better speech simple, 
warm and full of reminiscences, a portrait more vivid than 
the sculpture. This was in March 1908. 

There were great doings at Cardiff in 1908, when the 
Associated Chambers of Commerce met there under Lord 
Brassey's presidency, and in these he joined for five days. 
They included a reception and ball given by the Mayor, 
and " I was not," he says, " well pleased with myself for 
having gone in Court dress ; I did not feel at home in it, 
although there was no one to chaff me." 

When the Education Committee offered him re-election, he 
did not see his way to accept it, but, after all, trusted the 
schools to the town's public spirit ; and seems to have taken 
a safe course in doing so. Indeed, the senior school, the 
School of Art, was renewing under the brilliant teaching of 
Mr. T. C. Butterfield their first successes. For some ten 
years it sent more scholarship boys to South Kensington 
than any other town or city. Then, too, Professor Watkinson 
was doing good work as head of the engineering school 
at Liverpool University, an appointment that had " gone 
straight to my heart and filled it with overflowing pride and 
delight." With Sir Swire Smith's advice, the University 
had secured a Carnegie benefaction. 

In November 1909, he wrote a very happy letter to 
Sir H. Roscoe : 



272 THE MASTER SPINNER 

MY DEAR RIGHT HONOURABLE FRIEND, It is very good 
of you to remember me again for Christmas, and I shall 
be glad to come to you. It will be sunshine for me, and I 
hope we shall all be well at that time. 

My eyes were greatly gladdened this morning by the 
announcement of your elevation to the Privy Council, a 
distinction which I think you will enjoy and which I am sure 
you will adorn ; and I hope you will long be spared to wear 
your title in association with the greatest of our land. 

You would see that we have had quite a shower of honours 
descending on our valley. There must be something attrac- 
tive in the " Aire." 

Sir James Roberts has succeeded in reconstructing 
Saltaire Mills, now employing more people than were ever 
employed there before. I am to meet the Archbishop of 
York at his house to-night at dinner, prior to the distribu- 
tion of prizes at the Saltaire Institute. Sir John Horsfall 
is also a worthy fellow, a sound Liberal, a generous benefactor 
and a large employer. 

I am especially pleased with Sir John Brigg's knighthood. 
He has spent his whole life in unostentatiously doing good 
work ; and I am sure his constituents will be as pleased as 
he that this compliment should be paid to him. 

You will be glad to hear that Ben Brigg is to-day being 
presented with the freedom of his native borough by the 
Corporation. 

The Brussels Exhibition is getting into shape, but as 
yet the Vice-Chairman has not been to Brussels. I gave 
a lecture at Bradford last night on " Should Britain take 
part in International Exhibitions ? " I had an influential 
audience, and was told that my address will do good. 

And so you have taken to motoring ! Doubtless you 
will find it handier than trusting to horses. Happily for 
me, the motor 'bus runs past my gate, and I can go from 
my home to the mills in half an hour, the same time that 
it takes to drive. 

My love to all of you. 

Yours always, 

SWIRE SMITH. 

The Vice-Chairman was himself ; and the Vice-Chair- 
manship was that of the Royal Commission on International 
Exhibitions, set up because Germany had discouraged our 



BRUSSELS EXHIBITION 273 

exhibitors by her enterprise. It is curious that the question 
put in his lecture was in doubt. I can add, from knowledge 
of the sequel, that there was more staked upon meeting 
German enterprise than any one suspected. The whole 
course of the coming war might have been different, and 
the issue far more uncertain, if we had not taken a brilliant 
official part in the Brussels Exhibition. For we should 
probably have lost the friendship of Belgium. Unable 
to fear this consequence, Sir Swire Smith fought against 
the discouraged mood because of his mere belief in competi- 
tion, and in the national ability to face all odds on the footing 
which had enabled us to become the wealthiest nation. 
It was a mood partly fostered by some public decline of that 
belief. Afterwards, the romance of what the Commission 
did was evident to him and others. 

He had been appointed on this Commission eight months 
earlier. The Prince of Wales was President and the Earl 
of Lytton Chairman. On April 7th 

The members lunched with Lord Lytton at the Hotel 
Dieudonne" in Ryder Street, and at three o'clock we went to 
Marlborough House to be received by the Prince. He 
shook hands with us all. Our meeting was held in what is 
probably the dining-room ; we sat round a long table. The 
Prince made a speech and was thanked by Lord Lytton. 

After the meeting was over he chatted, talking about 
exhibitions naturally ; said that if other nations held them 
we couldn't afford to stand aside, and if we took part we must 
do our best. The world was given over to advertising, and 
an exhibition was a form of advertisement. Pears' Soap 
spent 400,000 a year more or less ; one year they thought 
they had done enough, and dropped the outlay by 100,000, 
but their receipts fell off by more than that. He never, 
for his own part, bought anything because it was advertised, 
but others evidently did. Think of So-and-so's pills ; they 
didn't hurt anybody and made fortunes for the makers. 

As British exhibitors had grown discouraged, the Govern- 
ment proposed to organize them by trades in the German 
way and to spend a little money in making their display 

18 



274 THE MASTER SPINNER 

effective. Would they agree ? The Exhibitions Branch 
of the Board of Trade started a press campaign and held 
meetings, one of which Sir Swire Smith addressed at Bradford. 

The British Section at Brussels was staged with great 
distinction, and the Bradford exhibit one of its best features. 
Only then did those responsible realize the German prestige 
in Belgium. That country had been canvassed and colonized 
for years in the interest of German trade, and the German 
Section was crowded, ours neglected. How could the tables 
be turned ? Could they be turned ? There was concern 
at the Board of Trade and at the Foreign Office. 

This was the situation after eighteen months of official 
preparation, in 1910. Meanwhile Sir Swire had worked 
happily on, denying himself no holidays. From the meeting 
at Marlborough House he went on to join American friends 
at Geneva for a week. From a second meeting at Bradford, 
he broke away with a cousin for Douglas. In August, 
having read the proofs of his pamphlets, he found Lord 
and Lady Morley at Skibo, and met again Lady Brassey, 
Mr. and Mrs. Philip Bright, and a crowd of transatlantic 
acquaintances ; one of these being the Pittsburg lawyer 
(a Mr. Watson) who was said to have " outwitted " Lord 
Alverstone over the Alaska boundary where we had a 
bad case. His golf was improving (he went a round in 78), 
he was swimming twice a day sometimes, and there was 
one " old-fashioned evening of songs and stories such as 
we used to have in the old days, when the world was 
younger." 

When the Morleys went away we had a large assemblage 
in the hall as if a newly married pair were leaving. As 
they were saying good-bye to host and hostess, it was my 
turn to strike up " Will Ye no Come Back again ? " which 
was taken up with great warmth by all the party. Lord 
and Lady M. were deeply touched. 

He began the travels of the Exhibition year with another 
visit to the Italian Lakes, at Easter ; and this excursion 



A QUIET EXCURSION 275 

was so much to his mind, so characteristic of the care-free 

mood he had recovered, that, although he has neither to tell 

of meeting famous people nor of feats or moving accidents, 

but only passed an idle and wanton time, it is notable. It 

was made with a single boon companion, the Cousin Will 

who had gone to Douglas with him, and who loved and 

understood him. In these days the two were to be found 

together on a Saturday when Sir Swire Smith was at Steeton 

Manor, reminiscent and taking his ease before his own fire. 

Cousin Will walked over the hill from Braithwaite for tea, 

and back again at bedtime ; uncle and niece were equally 

fond of him, a very quiet, soft-hearted and circumspect 

humorist, slow of speech and comfortable. It was his 

father who had befriended Edwin Waugh. Going away 

together, they seem, as at home, to have amused themselves 

without exertion or high notions ; and, between the lines of 

the diary, one reads that life could still be fresh and pleasing 

to a bachelor of sixty-eight. 

LUGANO, Good Friday. Took a stroll on a perfect morn- 
ing, and could only say, " Delicious ! " Excursion across 
a bay to Monte Bre, opposite San Salvador ; walked to the 
top of the little hill, about 3,000 feet ; most beautiful views 
of the lake. Lunched ; bread, butter, Gruyere and Chianti, 
which we greatly enjoyed ; sat in the grass and talked ; 
left the path and came down very steep gullies. After 
dinner strolled into the town and peeped into a cinema. 
Had a hot bath and felt very well. . . . 

MENAGGIO, Monday. Another delicious morning. Took 
a small boat for the day. Wonderful garden of Villa Carlotta, 
with the Venus and Psyche by Canova. Many stories in 
the hall after dinner. 

Tuesday. Very pleasant excursion to Gravedona. We 
were not able to get lunch on the boat, and only managed 
to buy two small buns at a baker's shop ; but some ladies 
who had gone up the lake with us were full of sympathy, 
and said how sorry they were that they had not asked us 
to share with them, as they had more than they needed and 
had given the balance to some children. They gave us, 
however, two oranges and some biscuits, all they had. . . . 



276 THE MASTER SPINNER 

BELLAGIO to COMO, Thursday. Very cold, breezy morn- 
ing with a north wind, and crested waves on the lake. Left 
at 9.17. Formed a little group in the shelter with three 
ladies from Lausanne (English), and talked hard all the 
way. After lunch found the technical school and strolled 
to the very fine cathedral. Found in the Square our Lausanne 
friends and took them in. I asked Miss J. if she would 
confess, and she said she would if I would be the 
father-confessor. I stepped into a confessional and she 
knelt at the little opening, and I asked her several 
questions. The chaperone with the others was shocked 
and no wonder. . . . 

MILAN, Friday. Brera Gallery full of old rubbish, 
one fine Raphael. Lunched in the Victor Emanuel Arcade, 
took a stroll looking at shop windows and then went to the 
top of the cathedral. About to descend, when whom should 
we see but Misses C. and J. Photographed them and went 
down together Miss J. and I last. She objected to kissing, 
as she had only known me a day. Took them to our hotel 
and gave them afternoon tea. Good-bye. . . . 

This was followed in June, July and August by three 
journeys to Brussels, made at the urgent request of Mr. 
U. F. Wintour, who was in charge of the British Section. 
Between the greater nations represented there was a rivalry 
not only of exhibits, but of brilliant social entertainment. 
That made no appeal to him ; he did not speak French and 
felt no jealousy of rivals ; but he was at call, and even returned 
for the third time within a few hours of reaching home after 
the second. In the contest with Germany King Albert 
was very much our friend, paying the Section frequent visits ; 
and, when at short notice he gave us a dinner party, the 
Vice-Chairman felt obliged to put in an appearance. He 
crossed by a night boat, with his Court uniform and a borrowed 
hat and sword, and, dressing at the Villa Fontaine (Mr. 
Wintour's residence in the suburbs), was at the Palace in 
time. 

We walked through a spacious vestibule lined with Guards- 
men, the first an enormous fellow, probably six feet six ; then 



THE QUEEN OF BELGIUM 277 

up a wide marble stair like that of Stafford House, and into 
another hall with parquet floor and painted ceiling. I 
followed Mr. and Mrs. Wintour and Earl Granville, who 
introduced me to two or three people. I waited to be pre- 
sented to a Lord-in- Waiting, who introduced me to Countess 
Somebody, whom I was to take in to dinner. Then I 
was taken by Lord G. to Sir Arthur Hardinge, who was to 
present me to the King and Queen. Fifty of us stood in a 
long line down one side of the room, with about ten on the 
other side, and after a while an usher with a loud voice 
announced " Le Roi et la Reine." 

They entered. They began at the left and chatted a 
little with each guest, first the King and then the Queen. 
When they came to me, our Ambassador introduced me, and 
the King at once began to talk in English of the Exhibition 
the British Section which he said had given him much 
pleasure. I replied that the Belgian Section was the finest, 
and indicated greater promise than any other. I kissed the 
Queen's hand. I think these talks lasted for half an hour ; 
then dinner was announced, and we took our partners and 
joined the procession to the dining-room. 

The table, probably seven feet wide, was magnificent 
with masses of roses, carnations, sweet peas and other 
flowers, and with silver plate. I sat nearly opposite the 
Queen, between Ladies-in- Waiting of high title. They both 
said they did not speak English, but when dinner was over 
I congratulated them on having made such progress in so 
short a time. 

Coffee was served in the room where we first assembled, 
and the King and Queen again moved among us. I noticed 
that a Lord-in- Waiting had a sheet of paper on which, evi- 
dently, there were names of persons to whom they had to 
pay attention. While I was chatting with Sir Cecil Hertslet 
(our Ambassador) my shoulder was tapped, and lo ! the Queen 
stood before me. 

She spoke in English of our very fine exhibit, I at once 
remarked on the splendid show from Belgium, and we were 
soon in a pleasant conversation. I asked her if she had 
seen much of England. She had not been north of London. 
Then, I assured her, she had not seen England. She said 
it had always been a puzzle to her that a country full of 
ironworks, factories and workshops should have so much game 
in it, and so many packs of hounds. I described Bolton 
Abbey, with the moors, woods and river, and told her that, 



278 THE MASTER SPINNER 

within sight of the smoke of Bradford and Leeds, there were 
the richest grouse moors in the world, where the King 
shot with the Duke of Devonshire and they often killed 
2,000 birds in a day. I spoke of the deer park, with the 
red deer that had been there since the time of Henry VIII ; 
of the trout in the river, and fewer people in Upper Wharfedale 
than there were 500 years ago. She was quite interested. 
Twice the Equerry came to take her to some one else before 
she left me. 

Although carriages were ordered for nine we stayed till 
nearer ten, and during all the time, except at dinner, we 
stood : even I was tired. 

If he found it " one of the most interesting evenings of 
my life," that, I think, may have been because he did not 
often chat with kings and queens. There was something 
naive in his satisfaction. In the train next morning, having 
introduced himself to a pretty vis-d-vis, he partly won her 
confidence by showing the Court dress lying in his suit-case, 
but also indulged that naiveti. An adventure : the lady 
went one better by showing a coronet. She was a German 
baroness. She was a widow too, with some of the charm 
of Mrs. Wadman for Uncle Toby. He squired her as far as 
Charing Cross, and it might be interesting to know what 
she thought of him ; for in Belgium, at any rate, his quiet 
vivacities made a sharp contrast with the manners of public 
men. 

Neither excellent exhibits nor diplomatic amenities 
won the special goodwill of the Belgian people ; but that 
was ours when fire had destroyed the best part of the Exhibi- 
tion and Mr. Wintour had re-constituted a British Section 
within one month. Moreover, a leading German paper 
said that no other nation could have done this, it would be 
a mistake to belittle England ; and Sir Swire was able, in 
a lecture delivered to the Huddersfield Textile Society, 
to show that our exhibits themselves, of textiles, pottery, 
footwear, motor-cars, surgical tools and other things, were 
still so good as to make that opinion look reasonable. But 
he also made much of the points at which other nations 



DAYS OF CHEAPNESS 279 

excelled us. In spite of ever-increasing trade, perhaps on 
the balance it came to this with him : 

I would like to show the model of a village shop or a 
co-operative store in England, with actual samples of food 
and clothing, groceries, drapery goods and what not gathered 
from all the world, with the English prices, weights and 
measures converted into those of the country. That would 
tell not only how the world's products find their way to our 
markets, but how much further money goes in England than 
anywhere else. 

Texas needed some attention now. Could not the sus- 
pended business of the Land Mortgage Bank be revived ? 
He and another director went out in November to examine 
loans, lands and people. 

Friends ran down to Liverpool to see him off by the 
Mauretania, and in his notes on the trip there is much about 
an American lady who had changed her name three times 
in four years, having divorced one husband, lost another and 
married a third from whom she wished to be freed in turn. 
The second had been a bachelor of eighty, and from him she 
had inherited a fortune. This engaging companion, who 
wore rings that " could not be bought for less than $7,500," 
beguiled the voyage ; but he would not dress for dinner, and 
for the first time failed to get up a concert for the purser. 
He could only ascribe the unusual reserve of passengers to 
the fact that, in a ship where the comfort of the rooms and 
stewardship was matchless, people had not time to get 
bored ; and he would have preferred the old freedom, with 
less pretentiousness. A concert was given by the ship's 
band. 

When he reached Chicago, there was another lady who 
had come two hundred miles to meet him. " I think," 
he says, " she was moved by adventure." 

These diversions on the one hand were almost as interest- 
ing as his Texas mission, and the quest of openings for his 
trade was important on the other. Why not sell yarn in 
the States and in Toronto as largely as in Germany ? More 



280 THE MASTER SPINNER 

than ever he combined the commercial with the uncommercial 
traveller. Still 

The nicest things about Americans are probably their 
hospitality and kindness. They will stand aside for a 
stranger, give him their first turn. They will go out of their 
way to do him a service. When introduced, a successful 
Texan says, "I'm mighty glad to see you. What do you 
think of our country ? Now, what can I do for you ? " 

We had got into the train at Benton, after Hot Springs, 
and had failed to secure the drawing-room or even two 
lower berths. In the smoke-room, while beds were being 
made up, N. (his colleague) expressed his disappointment, 
and said, " I don't know how I'm to climb into an upper 
berth." A younger man said at once, " Sir, I've a lower 
berth, you shall have it," and would take no denial. 

There was this kind of thing everywhere. At a recep- 
tion I was prevailed on to recite, and the company came in 
a crowd to thank me. That is unusual in any other country 
I know. 

Another thing I liked local option is doing much for 
sobriety. In the cars it is illegal to drink or carry intoxicants. 
When told to pocket his whisky-flask, N. was shocked. 
" Call this freedom ! It's tyranny." Davies had to explain 
that cowboys got into the train sometimes with whisky 
and began shooting negroes. All must sacrifice for public 
order. 

Motto in Boston Library : " The commonwealth requires 
the education of the people as the safeguard of order and 
liberty." 

In years of good trade, the Texas Bank was once more 
prospering ; and no regrets for the past blinded Sir Swire 
Smith to the prospects of the country. Fort Worth, since 
he last saw it, had grown enormously. There were many 
handsome homes. 

No wonder. It is the centre of an extent of land five 
times greater than that of England, as rich, probably, as 
any in the world and exceptionally suited to the growth of 
cotton, corn and wheat. It has therefore been built with a 
speed surpassing all British comparisons. 

He is writing after the reception referred to, which was 



TEXAS FARM FOLK 281 

given by Mr. W. T. Humble, the new manager of the Bank, 
and attended by the principal business men with their wives. 

Most of these people are southern and claim British 
ancestry, of which they are proud. I am told that hardly 
any of them came here with money. They had to work, 
and to use the brains and the education they possessed. The 
land is the source of all their wealth. Often the farmer 
gets as much for a year's crop as the land cost him. The 
history has been first the cattle ranch and cowboy, second 
the wire fence and plough, third the small farm well culti- 
vated, with a hundredfold of increase. But all prey on the 
farmer. Usually he is tall, lithe, bronzed by the sun, free 
and generous, too often careless. His wife has a hard time. 
Even the wealthiest women, such as I saw, wives of cattle 
men, produce and railway men, lawyers, doctors and store 
men, have most of their housework to do ; the coloured 
servants are unreliable. With such a soil and such a race, 
Texas has an illimitable future. 

I found the women superior in style and conversation 
to the men, whose whole talk, I am told, is business. 

His new acquaintances of this tour or people named, 
at all events, for the first time included Mr. and Mrs. 
Booker Washington, the Rev. Dr. Collier (a Keighley man) 
and Mr. G. N. Morang the publisher. But he was chiefly 
looking up old friends, who knew his voice on the telephone, 
and who said, " Come right along ! Or shall we come to 
you ? " 

Hardly anything could be pleasanter than the Carnegie 
cottage at the golf links. There is a little dining-room, a 
parlour for Mrs. C., a larger room with log fire, and a veranda 
with glass and gauze. They come here twice a week and 
are very happy. The domestic relations of the Carnegies 
are the sweetest I know. 

One of the late Lord Charles Beresford's stories of 
American life was picked up on the home run. 

A lumberman who had made his pile was returning from 
Europe and heard that Lord Charles was on board. He 
found him and said, " Throw away that cigar and I'll give 



282 THE MASTER SPINNER 

you a good one." Lord Charles afterwards invited him to 
a dinner at the port of New York, and the man accepted. 
He turned up in a frock-coat and a yellow waistcoat. Being 
called on to speak, he apologized for this get-up. " Gentle- 
men," he said, " I went to a tailor to borrow, but he didn't 
have a suit to lend me. He said that all his dress-suits had 
been hired by the English lords coming to this party." 

The general election of 1910 took place in Sir Swire's 
absence. More ; I am aware of having failed to show his 
interest in Ireland, the Second Chamber question or Women's 
Citizenship. Although he had come to know the Master of 
Elibank and Captain Frederick Guest at Skibo, and one 
of these questions did excite him, the political arena had 
seldom tempted him to take a lance. Indignation against 
the Lords' absolute veto left him chiefly concerned lest a 
Second Chamber should be done away with altogether. 
He shared it ; but the story with which he ridiculed that veto 
implied an intention to mend, not to end, the appeal to an 
aristocracy. 

A man bought a pair of boots one Saturday night in the 
market, and put them on. When he got home he was very 
angry. He'd had a lot of trouble with them. " I wish 
I'd niver seen 'em ! " he told his wife. " I've been hobbled 
and chucked back at ivery step." She looked at the boots 
and saw that they were tied together, as new boots are. 
" No wonder thou's been chucked back," she said. " What- 
iver ailed the' not to cut string ? " 

As to the Lords reforming their own House, that notion 
reminded him of a famous board of guardians. 

They passed three resolutions : (i) That we build a new 
workhouse ; (2) that for the new workhouse the materials 
in the old one be utilized ; (3) that the inmates remain as 
they are pending completion of the builders' contract. 

He might have sat for Keighley now (Sir John Brigg 
did not wish to sit again), but he had written to the Whip 
recommending Mr. (now Sir) Charles Mallet, of the Roscoe 
circle. It may be asked : " If he could spare three months 



LORD MORLEY 283 

of the year for travel, why not serve at Westminster ? " 
Well, he thought too highly of political service to stint it ; not 
one month in four, but a man's whole time, should be given 
to it. 

The friendship with Lord Morley had ripened, for they 
met at Skibo every year ; and through Lord Morley's eyes 
he could watch the play of personal factors in matters of 
high policy. The two men were equally at home in that 
warm household ; they saw each other return to it with 
mutual pleasure, and became confidants. " Morley spoke 
his mind freely about his colleagues," the diary says ; and 
did so safely, for what he said has not been committed to 
paper. Again: "Lord Morley was kindness itself; he 
frequently said how glad he was that I was there, and he 
gave me a definite invitation to go and see him and Lady 
Morley when next in London." Paying that visit, Sir 
Swire understood how Skibo afforded refreshment to a 
scholarly and secluded worker. It was something to have 
made him laugh. The severity of Lord Morley's life and 
taste made it flattering to remember how, during a walk 
one day, he had listened with pleasure to " Eugene Aram," 
and how at another time, stern as he looked, there had 
been a confessed " lump in his throat " at the singing of 
" Will Ye no Come Back again ? " Lord Morley was held 
in equal honour and affection. 

Sir John Brigg survived the election less than a twelve- 
month, and then the invitation to represent Keighley had 
to be declined firmly. For that constituency Mr. Buck- 
master, the son of an old friend, was found by the Liberal 
party on his brilliant and very rapid progress to the Lord 
Chancellorship. In reply to a letter giving this news, Lord 
Morley wrote : 

FLOWERMEAD, WIMBLEDON PARK, S.W. 
October 7, 1911. 

MY DEAR SIR SWIRE, We are delighted to hear from 
you, and it will be very kind of you to give us a chance 
of a visit from you in November. Don't forget. 



284 THE MASTER SPINNER 

Your election news interests me uncommonly. Of 
course the desire to lay hold of you was to be expected. 
Equally, of course, I appreciate your own point of view, 
and take for granted that it may be right as to business. 
I do not so readily acquiesce about your utility. The party 
in the H. of C. is now in a rather peculiar position, and much 
depends on the way in which things are handled by Liberals 
there, both leaders and supporters. This way whatever 
it may turn out to be will only be guided right by men of 
your political temper and your wide knowledge and judg- 
ment in the things on which our national strength and well- 
being hang. 

That life in the H. of C. makes for the comfort or happi- 
ness of the individual members, nobody who knows it will 
for a moment pretend. 

Yours always sincerely, 

M. 

In altered circumstances, that opinion was later to be 
tested. Meanwhile there was yet more service to give as 
an Exhibition Commissioner ; there were journeys to Rome 
and Turin. 

Sir Isidore Spielmann had brought together in Rome 
the finest show of British pictures ever seen abroad, and 
the Vice-Chairman seems to have left him the undivided 
credit of that achievement ; for, as it happened, the King 
and Queen of Sweden came, " but I contented myself with 
seeing them pass through the Italian Section and let Sir 
Isidore do the honours." It was not a simple case of self- 
effacement ; he had to go over the Exhibition. On the 
morrow he forgot completely the invitation of an Italian 
prince who wished to show him pictures of his own. At 
Turin his Court suit was donned for the opening ceremony, 
but he appears to have been left cold by pomp and circum- 
stance. 

We had a car Wintour, Mr. Doring (attache represent- 
ing our Ambassador), Sir Rennell Rodd and Mr. Marconi. 
A great hall crowded with officials, all in uniforms or in 
evening dress with white gloves ; plenty of military display 
Addresses read by dignitaries, including the Mayors of 



SPLENDOURS AND A BAREFOOT GIRL 285 

Turin and Rome ; they ran long. The King is quite a 
little, ordinary-looking man ; the Queen is much taller, 
and attractive. It was almost amusing to see the King's 
legs dangling from his chair. The footstool placed for the 
Queen would have been more appropriate for his use. 

In the evening dined with Doling and Marconi at the 
Hotel de 1' Europe, then went to a gala performance at the 
Opera, a brilliant affair with all the Royalties and diplomats 
attending. Verdi's " Falstaff " quite entertaining. Wintour 
and I were the only persons wearing English Court dress, 
and as we made our way to the centre of the stalls I observed 
that many eyes in the boxes were turned upon us. We 
were doubtless recognized as the British representatives. 
I was pleased to see that Marconi attracted much attention 
in leaving the theatre. Those who knew him paid him 
deference. 



Then, next day, there was lunch, where the band played 
national anthems between courses, and one had to be con- 
tinually standing and applauding. He got away for tea 
with friends. I do not know by what arrangement (it cannot 
have been a dereliction of duty) he escaped a dinner and 
ball at the Palace ; but, while Wintour and Marconi were 
dining, if not dancing, he joined the immense crowd in 
Turin streets and strolled about till dark. No matter ; 
he was off to Maggiore in the morning. At Baveno 

As soon as I was able to walk out into the garden I felt 
the glory of the scene. The sun going down, this side of 
the lake was in shade ; but Pallanza and the mountains 
beyond were a splendour of light and beauty, and the only 
speck of life was one boat. 

May yd. At 9.35 took the steamer. Chummed with 
two American ladies who have been travelling since last 
autumn, and had great talks. The day was at its loveliest. 
I carried my lunch and walked high above the village where 
we had landed, to eat it under some trees by the side of a 
mountain trickle. Greatly enjoyed myself. Gave the surplus 
to a little barefoot girl with a pannier. I took her photo, 
and she asked me to send her a copy and wrote her address 
in my book. I am hoping to do this for her. 




286 THE MASTER SPINNER 

Her name was Tola Albertelda, and she would have that 
photograph if it came out. 

May ^th. Took boat for Stresa. There was a pleasant 
fellow on board with a sketch-book, showing his pictures 
to the captain. I apologized for overlooking, and he showed 
them to me very willingly. He makes it a rule to go out 
in the morning, find some picturesque spot and spend the 
day sketching. We chummed, went behind Stresa on the 
hillside, looked in afterwards at the two hotels and missed 
the boat. He set off to walk back with me and told me 
some interesting adventures. 

He has been travelling since last August. Spent the 
early spring in Nice, and there was a charming Italian lady 
anxious to learn English, so he arranged that they should 
spend much time together. Every day they went off into 
the country or made trips for the night, and both of them 
made great progress, she in English and he in Italian. It 
was a veritable honeymoon ! He is a bachelor of sixty, 
out of business, and knows my country well. 

From Baveno he went on to Paris for a couple of days, 
and in the dining-car made another American acquaintance. 
She seems to have had misgivings when accepting a walk 
in the Bois. " Please understand," she said, " that I would 
not go out with one in a hundred men." He assured her 
that he would not go out with one in a hundred women. 
But they were staying at the same hotel, and doubtless he 
had " amused her with stories and rather surprised her by 
knowing so many people in high places." Besides, she had 
his card. 

Far from scamping his duties at Turin, where the case 
had been that of an exhibition opened before it was ready, 
he returned in October to make the strict comparisons that 
were desirable. However lightly, Sir Swire was economical 
of time. It pleased him, for instance, to combine half a 
dozen errands in one journey. His plans for this second 
visit were like a travelling case. The fittings, which left 
no corner empty, included a call on some lady at the Ritz, 
a day in London, a French exhibition at Roubaix, factories 
and schools there, part of a programme of entertainment 



THE LOAN REPAID 287 

(including a masked ball) devised by an " Association 
Commerciale de 1'Entente Cordiale de Roubaix/' a visit 
to the old firm of Isaac Holden and Son all incidental to 
those desirable comparisons, which were incidental to the 
spinning of yarn. He had timed Turin to follow this French 
hospitality, offered to four and twenty British delegates ; 
the more happily because that followed hard upon a few 
days at Windermere with Lord Rotherham, who was also 
a delegate ; the more happily, too, because he was to be the 
guest at Roubaix of M. Albert Motte, a wool comber, said 
to handle the wool of 35,000 sheep daily. Perfect ! It 
all worked out, there being twenty-four hours in a day ; 
and after a banquet at which he gave the toast, " Success 
to the Exhibition," there was still time to sandwich in a day 
at Paris, with one or two calls, a stroll and the Folies Bergere. 

Italy surprised him with her manufactures. He could 
not have believed any one -who had said they were so good. 
Nothing seemed to prevent her taking a much stronger 
position but grinding taxation. His verdict on the whole 
Exhibition was, however, as it had been on that of Brussels, 
" In everything of which we show our best we excel." So 
much for a national advertisement. 

And, if you would know the secret of his lightened spirits 
in these days, it may be spied in what had happened at 
Skibo that summer : 

August 28th. After breakfast I took Mr. C. aside and 
gave him the guarantee for the bank that he let me have in, 
I think, 1907, after my Florida trouble. He did not look 
at the bond, but said he had never mentioned it to any one ; 
and he tore it into little bits and threw it into the waste 
basket. I told him how grateful I was ; that I had been 
winged, but that his kindness had enabled me to get through 
without exceptional difficulty. I also told him what I had 
lost, but said that if I had not known Florida I should prob- 
ably never have known him, and that his friendship had 
been more to me than the loss of the money. 

The difficulty that was not exceptional had lasted fourteen 
years. 



CHAPTER XIX 

Tree felling at seventy Bonfires and " ducks and drakes " A great 
presentation Letter to an " Old Boy " Social Legislation " Florida 
sand " in his shoes Mr. Bryan The Palace of Peace Porridge with 
a fork Care-free. 

FROM the Villa Parati Gerbido outside Turin, where, 
as the guest of Mr. Wintour, he slept in a spacious 
apartment darkened against the morning sun, and 
awoke to the sound of dykes flushed with running water, 
and strolled out into a warm garden with fruit-trees 
on the walls, and basking lizards, he had been summoned 
home by a telegram. Sir John Brigg was dead. There 
would be the funeral, and there would be the immediate 
business of choosing his successor in the representation of 
Keighley. I have said how this ended. It is of interest 
to add some personal notes : 

I declined on the ground that I must attend to my 
business ; but my time for making any impression in Parlia- 
ment has gone by. Mr. Percy Illingworth, on behalf of the 
Cabinet, advised us to invite Mr. Stanley Buckmaster, 
K.C., and we did so. I called on him in Porchester Terrace. 
I was struck by his likeness to his father, my old friend ; 
we had a candid talk ; both were impressed, and I telegraphed 
next day that he was one of our sort. He came, saw and 
conquered. 

" One of our sort " meant, among other things, that 
Mr. Buckmaster would allow the franchise to women. Sir 
Swire Smith had failed to persuade Mr. Mallet, his own 
nominee, that women's full enfranchisement was needed. 

At three score and ten he was within five months of 
it no reasonable man is very ambitious. But all who 

288 



TREE FELLING AND BONFIRES 289 

knew my friend would have said that he was good for twenty 
years more. He was happy to think this probable. They 
sometimes found him swimming at Skibo in August three 
times in a day, and not always to encourage lady friends. 
He could beat me felling trees at Steeton Manor, I being 
fifty-one and a disciple of Mr. Sandow. He did not need 
a nap after lunch. When he said that his time for Parlia- 
ment had gone by, one therefore took it that he under- 
valued his ability, experience and ripened judgment, not 
to mention his personal charm. He was perhaps a little 
deaf. He was becoming less ready as a speaker than he 
had been at the best. In preparing matter for the press, 
he had not such an unfailing grasp of all the detail, and could 
not generalize quite so cogently. But public men depend 
on young secretaries. 

However, he knew too much of affairs to underestimate 
the labour of intrigue that goes to make success in politics. 
In doubting his judgment, one may have been carried away 
by the boyish spirit, younger even than his frame. Let 
him come to a riverside where there were flat stones, he 
settled down at once to skimming " ducks and drakes." 
And what a joy the late autumn used to bring him, when 
he could make a great bonfire of garden rubbish and dead 
branches ! He went about it like a boy precisely. It was 
better fun for him to see a fire prosper than to go in to tea ; 
after three or four hours in the smoke he would reappear 
with red eyes and his face and hands as black as a stoker's, 
luxurious. No need of cards or other table games ; he did 
not, in point of fact, know the knave from the king ; there 
was always a diversion of his own making, so that I doubt 
if he had ever known a, dull moment. The only formal game 
at the Manor was clock golf, on a patch of lawn. He was keen 
at that. The impression made by a man so easily pleased 
was that he need not count his days. 

Of the various things that " should accompany old age " 
when it comes, honour counted less with him than troops 
of friends ; but in the following year he was surprised by 

19 



290 THE MASTER SPINNER 

certain honours. The first might seem to be a sop ; he was 
appointed to the Standing Committee of Advice for Education 
in Art, which appointment, while admitting him to some 
oversight of the Royal College, made terms with a critic 
of the management. But he accepted it with a plan. 
He wanted for this College, in the interest of applied art, 
the standing of an art university. 

The next was a local project, of which he had intimation, 
to present him with his portrait in oils as an acknowledg- 
ment of work for education ; and a third, more flattering, 
was conferred in October by the Court of Leeds University, 
namely, the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. His way 
of relishing these honours was to reflect with a kind of 
amazement on them. One gathered that he devoutly hoped 
they were all right and seemly. " Well," he said, " it seems 
you may eat your cake and have it " : which meant that 
he had found a sufficient satisfaction in doing the work and 
seeing results. One was almost tricked into thinking that 
honours would sober him. 

The portrait appears as a frontispiece of this book. 
It is by Mr. Solomon, of whose art he had a sufficient appre- 
ciation to think that he would be remembered by a painting. 
Nor was it, as he presently learned, to be the sole memorial ; 
money enough had been subscribed to found a Swire Smith 
scholarship, which pleased him even better. 

Best of all, a good share had been subscribed by the 
younger men, some of whose careers as alumni of the Keighley 
schools he had watched with a friendly pride. Blessings, 
like curses and chickens, come home to roost ; his proteges 
made a very agreeable fuss of him. So did many another 
old student who had escaped notice, not having pushed to 
the front in school examinations. There were hundreds of 
them. Grateful letters came from Egypt, India, Australia, 
South Africa, Ontario, California, Missouri, Massachusetts, 
where Keighley boys had prospered. The distinguished 
scholars, in addition to those who have been named, included 
a C.B. (Sir A. Newsholme, M.D.), twelve Bachelors or Masters 



A GREAT PRESENTATION 291 

of Science, many A.R.C.A.'s, the inventor of the Northrop 
loom, engineers, an astronomer, Professors of the Leeds and 
St. Louis*Universities, inspectors and head masters of schools 
all men of modest origin. Distant friends who were under 
no obligation had also contributed to the fund. 

When the fine presentation was made by Sir William 
Mather in April 1913, the recipient spoke his thanks 
gracefully enough, but was visibly " outfaced." He said 
the portrait must go to the Corporation when, in the course 
of nature, he should be called away to his fathers. As for 
the scholarship, it conferred distinction and honour upon 
himself, but also reflected enduring credit on the founders ; 
they belonged to a generation which valued education, and 
made sacrifices for it, in a spirit that was already less evident. 
And on this theme he rode off, making an earnest appeal 
to present-day students and parents. 

His life, perhaps, must first be emulated. In spite of 
honours, the lack of emulation among young townsmen 
worried him. " I don't see 'em coming on," he would say, 
and shake his head. He was also jealous of the many counter- 
attractions now offered to possible students. The Y.M.C.A. 
was at least to do great things for men rendered idle by war, 
but at this time he replied to a local appeal on its behalf : 
" I cannot get up any enthusiasm for the Y.M.C.A. In 
a town like ours it tends to withdraw young men from edu- 
cational agencies of far greater value to them. Just think 
of boys leaving the Institute classes, where they can obtain 
practical equipment for their life-work, to join your troop 
of Boy Scouts or play billiards at your Clubhouse ! " 

There is a letter, written in May, which by its personal 
touches exceeds in interest anything said on the presenta- 
tions. It was drawn from him after an old boys' reunion 
by a Wesley College schoolfellow, the Mr. Pretty of Ipswich 
who has once been named. This letter shows, too, Sir 
Swire Smith's attitude to the social legislation which had 
come in recent years : it replied to some complaints of the 
Insurance Act. 



292 THE MASTER SPINNER 



STEETON MANOR, 

May 2, 1913. 

DEAR OLD FRIEND, It gave me much pleasure to 
receive your letter and to hear of myself as I was nearly 
sixty years ago, a little " ginger-haired boy," very boyish 
and, I think, cheerful and fond of a song and a story. You 
were a bit younger, and a nice, kind-hearted lad. That is 
my remembrance of you, and you are one of the very few 
who have remembered me at all. 

Those good people at the meeting and those who wrote 
letters went far beyond my merits as to any ability that I 
have ever possessed. I suppose I have done my share of 
talking, but it never came easy to me, and my addresses 
(at any rate those preserved) have always cost a fair amount 
of labour. 

My own impression is that I have changed very little 
in disposition, temperament and opinions since we were at 
school together. ... I was a choir boy, and so I remained 
for many years after ; a member of our local Musical Society ; 
and all my life ready on occasion to keep up the spirits of 
my companions with a song. Then, I lived at home with 
my father and mother (I didn't grow up). My dear mother 
died at seventy and my father at ninety, and we were 
chums during all my time ; and, being a bachelor, I saw a 
good deal of the sons of my youthful companions. ... I 
missed matrimony when young, through a disappointment ; 
but my contemporaries tell me I am as fond of the girls as 
when I flirted with them half a century ago, and their sons 
and daughters tell me I am at it yet. 

Well, hardly that ; but I believe that the boy has remained 
all along, in a remarkable degree. However, we know that 
" time is fleeting and the muffled drums are beating." 

And now as to this Insurance Act and the contributions 
of employers. Yes, it is very hard, and seems to press 
unfairly on some. But I believe that, in conjunction with 
old-age pensions, employers' liability, labour exchanges, 
etc., it is one of the biggest and most far-reaching benefits 
that have ever been devised by legislation in this country. 
As this social legislation is felt and understood, it will give 
new hope to millions. It is making us " members of one 
another," and it will take away from many decent people 
that ghastly fear of the workhouse which, in times of sickness 



HIS PATRIOTIC IDEAL 293 

and unemployment, so depresses them. I believe it has 
saved free trade and knocked socialism out of court. 

If I have had one aspiration more than another for my 
country, it is that it should give equality of opportunity 
as far as possible before the law, and that it should be the 
best country in the world to live in. I believe it may be 
made so ; but that means sacrifices for you and me and 
many others, and isn't it marvellous how shall I say 
resignedly the sacrifices are borne ? It means also a willing- 
ness to place the burdens of the upkeep of the State on those 
who are best able to bear them. 

The inequalities of which you speak will get right, more 
or less, in time. As you describe them, they are now mani- 
festly unfair to you. If employers throughout the country 
had been like you, we should never have heard of this social 
legislation, we should never have needed it ; and indeed 
it does seem hard that the Government, in compelling 
others to contribute to humane acts that you have done 
freely, should compel you to make this provision plus what 
you do for your own now. 

While I write this I have your picture before me, and 
I make a shrewd guess that your generous philanthropy 
has paid. What you are now compelled to do will not ruin 
you, perhaps it will not hurt you much, and you will see 
the whole country vastly benefited. I have seen nothing 
like this picture that is before me a father with four sons 
all splendidly mounted, fit as each can be, handsome, whole- 
some, fine fellows all, an honour to their country with 
the background of a stately and beautiful home, indicating 
comfort, luxury and an abundant provision of the best 
things the world can give. 

My advice is Forget that you are paying that insurance 
money, and rejoice in your prosperity and in the satisfaction 
that you enjoy the esteem and affection of those 1,400 
workers and many more, who, I am sure, appreciate your 
generous regard for them. 

Always sincerely yours, 

SWIRE SMITH. 

Before the war, employers who would take that tone 
were rare. He had kept an old-world sense of responsibility. 
However, this had made him impatient of the agitations 
that compelled social reform, while glad to see reform 



294 THE MASTER SPINNER 

conceded. His was the Manchester school, though free 
trade must be benevolently tempered. He argued against 
minimum wage rates. Yet his moral tone was stronger than 
his economic doctrine, and had still to modify the doctrine's 
operation. 

In the same year he crossed the Atlantic for the last 
time. Now that Jupiter Island was being developed, he 
went with two other directors of the Indian River Association, 
empowered to decide in all ways about that pet enterprise. 
A pier and harbour had been constructed, a power house 
built, swamps reclaimed, sites disposed of on which there 
were fine residences. The island was to be connected by a 
bridge with the mainland. Its fortunes have passed out 
of his hands ; but they must have partly done so in any case, 
demanding more capital than the Association owned. A 
sort of omen appears in the diary : " The sun went down 
as we reached Jupiter, and we sailed up the sound in the 
dark. It was very balmy." 

The war intervening, there is little more to be here said 
of Florida ; and I leave a last word about it with Mr. Angas, 
writing six years later : 

His interest in and knowledge of this part of the world 
were really surprising. He came here but seldom, and then 
only for short visits ; but during these visits he seemed 
able to pick up and assimilate a vast amount of detailed 
information. 

Whenever I was in England, it was understood that part 
of my time was to be spent at Steeton Manor ; and after 
dinner [but he called it tea. K. S.] he and I used to sit 
up late, and have wonderful talks about the Indian River, 
Jupiter Island, Gulf Hammock and other places in Florida 
that he knew and had, like me, grown to love. 

We have a saying here that, when once the sand of 
Florida has got into your shoes, you cannot keep away 
from the State ; and I think Sir Swire's shoes were full 
of Florida sand. 

Sir Swire had met Mr. Bryan in England, yet only casually, 
and some years had passed since the brief encounter. But 



MR. BRYAN AND LORD BRYCE 295 

it served. Others may " praise famous men," it was his 
own way to pay them a little personal attention ; and, being 
at Miami, he writes : 

I took a carriage and called on Mr. William Jennings 
Bryan. He lives in a pretty new house, which I guess he 
has rented. I rang, and Mrs. Bryan answered the door, 
and in a puzzled way took my card. She said, " Come in," 
and I apologized and said I was from England, and wished 
to pay my respects to Mr. B. He knew me. He said I 
had told him some good stories, and remarked to Mrs. 
Bryan that I lived in a beautiful home. He asked how 
" Mr. Clow " was (Mr. Sam Clough). I said that we in 
England hoped he would attain the position he most desired ; 
none was too high for him. We all admired his patriotism 
and his ready sacrifice of self in the interests of his party. 
Mrs. B. said he had indeed made great sacrifices. They 
told of their married daughter in England, and would like 
me to know her. 

They had other visitors, and I again apologized for calling. 
Both said that I had done the right thing, and they'd have 
been hurt if I hadn't. 

It was an instance of his social tact as well as of his social 
enterprise, qualities not so common among good Englishmen 
, as to go unnoticed. Next day, compelled by low water to 
put back from a launch trip across the bay, he took his 
colleagues by car to Cocoa Nut Grove, called at Mr. Bryan's 
clearing, and was shown over it by the great man himself, 
who happened to be working there " like Cincinnatus, 
I remarked " : no patrician, but destined to return to the 
control of affairs. So he photographed the party. Then 
in Washington he called on Mr. Bryce and was kept for lunch ; 
but that was a closer acquaintance, founded in politics. 

He said, " Let any Englishman study America and he'll 
not touch Protection." He was very genial, talking much 
about the women's agitation at home. He is seventy-five, 
and would like to retire. I said, " Still a boy." 

There was a dinner party at Mr. Ten Eyck Wendell's 



296 , THE MASTER SPINNER 

place, where he met Senator and Mrs. Harrison, Professor 
Fisher and others, and told many stories ; while at Phila- 
delphia and New York he took at unawares a long farewell 
of old friends. They made much of him. How well he was 
after surf-bathing at Palm Beech, they remember ; and 
how he came in at Philadelphia for a merry winter party, 
and next morning had to be taught a new dance. He was 
certainly well. After fifteen calls in the last day and a half, 
he got into his berth on board the Mauretania and slept 
for ten hours. 

Relations between Governments cannot reflect the 
personal contacts of any two peoples, but they are probably 
free of undue bias in proportion as these contacts are loyal 
and kindly ; and Sir Swire Smith's many friends in the 
States believe that he did as much as a private citizen ever 
can do to assure the good temper and fairness of official 
discussions. He understood the lives of the American 
people, their outlook, their ambitions ; and he believed 
in America without jealousy, as he believed in his own 
land and folk. Wherever he came, goodwill between the 
two nations appeared to be natural and normal ; he left 
men thinking that it is the main business of Governments. 
Nor did he let himself be forgotten in absence. They were 
to feel themselves in close contact with him to the end, and 
with the Mother Country in her sea of troubles. 

Soon after he came home 

Buckmaster was made Solicitor General and had to come 
for re-election. It was a trying time. Ulster was giving 
trouble. Lloyd George and Rufus Isaacs had dabbled in 
Marconi shares. Such elections as were held went against 
the Government. We lost Reading on Isaacs' promotion 
to Lord Chief Justice, and all eyes were turned to Keighley. 
We had a gallant fight. Buckmaster improved his position 
and the rot was stopped. 

During the summer, he had the pleasure of seeing the 
Roscoe family at Steeton, on their way to North Yorkshire 
and the Mallets. Sir Henry Roscoe was in his eighty-first 



THE PALACE OF PEACE 297 

year, and not well, but wrote from Danby that he had 
" liked your home more than ever, and admired Mary's 
household and housekeeping, and her drawings and bound 
books, and so much enjoyed seeing you " a touching letter 
from a friend lately widowed, " thinking sadly yet joyfully 
of the past, hopefully for the future," and not to be chummed 
with much longer. That certainty, alas, was one which 
both men reckoned with. For years now Sir Swire had 
passed his Christmas at Woodcote ; he did so until the great 
chemist died. 

A splendid mirage, the Palace of Peace at the Hague, 
delighted him. If possible, he was less capable than other 
men of imagining the German outlawry, without scruple 
or human bounds. Believing commerce to be a peace-making 
agency, which only needed a formalization of some inter- 
national aims and an accessible court of arbitration to secure 
for peace a fair field, he had shared and encouraged Mr. 
Carnegie's project. Until the ideals of free trade were 
universal, this should tide diplomacy over shallows and rocks. 
What a splendid thing that one practical man, a private 
citizen, should furnish the great nations with such a meeting- 
place, a Mecca ! 

On August 28th he was present at the opening, on Mr. 
Carnegie's invitation. I note that he took the German 
representative (is the name Archerehold ?) to Scheveningen, 
" to see the bathers and the children enjoying themselves 
on the sands a really picturesque and wonderful sight " ; 
but his diary does not describe the big proceedings. He 
was too busy to write much, running about like an aide-de- 
camp and pestered by sculptors, who wished to make the 
Carnegie bust ; for either the idea of placing such a bust in 
the Palace was his, or he was known with Mr. F. Maddison 
to have raised money for it. Amid the throng of diplomats, 
the great show of uniforms, the speech-making and dining, 
one finds him absorbed with this compliment. 

I had a pleasant talk with Mrs. C. about the bust. I 
did not express a preference for any sculptor, but described 



298 THE MASTER SPINNER 

each as well as I could. She said we had better not refer 
to Mr. C.; he had a weakness for giving a chance to a young 
man, but in this case it would be well to have some one with 
an established reputation. She would like to be assured of 
the personality of the man, for it made so much difference 
with Mr. C. A Dutch painter had smoked and drunk 
whisky all the time he was at work on him. Neither of 
us could speak of Thornycroft, but Mrs. C. was disposed to 
fix on him, and we let it be so. 

He put in a day at the Ghent Exhibition, and a month 
later he was taking Sir William Goscombe John to Skibo. 
The choice had been left to him after all, for Mr. Thornycroft 
would only work in his studio. 

For some years the company met with at Skibo had been 
growing more varied and amusing, if less homely. Sir 
Swire helped to entertain visitors who found themselves 
astray. Two foreign countesses arrived, one of them a 
Maid of Honour to the Queen of the Belgians, very anxious 
to understand England, but so aristocratic that her point 
of view made it difficult to do so ; and " the idea of being 
up at 8.30 for breakfast was too much for her." To this 
lady he attempted to explain Mr. Lloyd George, whom she 
could not bear. Next morning 

The piping so impressed Countess G. that she felt she 
must get up ; and out she went, and came in with us to 
breakfast after all. She was amazed to see so many cooked 
dishes. Tea and toast had been all she wanted, but she 
began with porridge and proceeded to eat it with a fork ! 

She would seem to have been touched with his sense of 
the romantic. Not so Sir Sidney Lee, who had been " rather 
disappointing ; his talk gets involved, and is patchy or 
snappy. He did not join in our pursuits." And Sir Gilbert 
Parker had " made a favourable impression, but fancied him- 
self." As to the chosen sculptor, he was persona grata ; 
and his patron had the pleasure of thinking and was 
probably right that the bust of which he saw the clay 
model shaped would be " the most artistic portrait of Mr. 



EVE OF THE WAR 299 

Carnegie yet made." In November of the same year (1913) 
Sir Swire was elected a life member of the United Kingdom 
Carnegie Trust then founded, and a member of its small 
executive committee. 

Fortunate in personal relationships, he had a hand in 
getting a knighthood for his old friend and Keighley colleague, 
Sir John Clough, and at his suggestion the freedom of the 
Guild of Clothworkers was conferred on Lord Morley. It 
was conferred at the same time on Lord Bryce, now relieved 
of his Ambassadorship, and titled. 

Finally, as if to promise quiet days at last, and a good 
harvest of all his business labours, the reduction of American 
tariffs by the Underwood Act left the master spinner without 
a care. Trade had grown by leaps and bounds already ; 
all the world prospered, and he with it. This measure, 
from which he foresaw great benefit for his American friends 
and interests, opened wide the opportunity for new business. 
He could really look to do as much in the United States 
as he had done in Germany. He had prepared for it in 
recent journeys ; and if, as he thought, the failure of high 
tariffs as well as their oppressiveness was known to most 
Americans, he need not fear to see the Act undone. While 
he lived, Springfield Mills ought to be busy. When he died 
there should be some decent provision, in spite of all, for 
those who would come after him. 

He wrote a paper on the New American Tariff and the 
Wool Industry, read it as president of a textile society, 
had it printed and sent a copy to Mr. Bryan, now President 
of the United States. 

So the fateful year, 1914, dawned serenely for him. The 
evenings found him at his ingle nook, where on one side there 
was a writing-table and on the rug an engaging bulldog 
named Peggy. She thought the fire a fine luxury, and so 
did he. Walking up the drive as he came from business, 
his habit was to take a short footpath through a shrubbery 
near the house and pick up a handful of fallen twigs, with 
which he came into the room cheerily (in hat and coat), 



300 THE MASTER SPINNER 

to lay them in the flames and see them crackle. He was in 
good appetite for what is known in Yorkshire as a high tea. 
It made the last meal of the day, and the pleasantest ; for 
he brought home no worries and no boredom, but an imper- 
turbable humour for conversation and the use of his time. 
The meal no sooner over, he settled down to writing or 
reading. The curtains were drawn behind double windows 
that kept the north wind out, and he took care to replenish 
the fire with logs. 

Part of one letter must serve for the plans that he was 
making, fortunate not to know what would be required 
of him : 

STEETON MANOR, 

April 6, 1914. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Your very kind acceptance of the 
invitation of our Major to open the new wing of the Keighley 
Institute has given great satisfaction to the town, and is a 
joy to me that my words cannot express. Most sincerely 
do I hope that your visit may in every sense be very agree- 
able to you. I doubt not we shall be able to arrange details 
at your leisure after your arrival on this side, which I hope 
may be soon. 

Your bust for the Hague is completed, and has been sent 
to the Royal Academy for exhibition. It is considered an 
excellent likeness and a fine piece of work. Lord Brassey 
is chairman of our committee. He is on his way home 
from India, and we are inviting him to unveil the bust at 
the Hague early in September. We are proposing to give 
the commission for the illuminated address (for presentation 
to you) to Mr. Walter Crane, who has been recommended 
as our most accomplished artist for the purpose. . . . 
Always yours sincerely, 

SWIRE SMITH. 



CHAPTER XX 

War Business disaster ? Lord Bryce and a Skibo irony Help for the 
Allies Sir John Brigg's lost leg Germany : A moral shock Factory 
" ladies " and women's work M.P. for Keighley No seat " Suited 
down to the ground " A ghost Christmas with a dog The last 
romance. 

THE personal affairs of no man counted when war 
came, even for his own estimate. But, as the emotion 
of the first incredible weeks abated, or rather strung 
men to a new pitch that accorded with it, Sir Swire Smith 
had to take account of the desperate position of his business, 
mainly pledged for foreign trade. 

In his warehouses there was a stock of wool and spun 
yarn valued at 60,000, and the bulk of yarn had been spun 
to German orders or in current readiness for them. Other 
yarn, for which he could expect no payment, had gone to 
Germany. As the annual profits of the business hardly 
exceeded 2,500, this accumulated stock might be said to 
represent, unless it could be disposed of, a burden outweighing 
the possible gains of four-and-twenty normal years. Some 
of it was saleable, and gave no anxiety. Not so the German 
yarn, spun of a special thickness and quality, which no 
one outside Germany demanded. And for new American 
trade he must have an augmented overdraft as he accepted 
orders and bought wool. Was he solvent ? Once more 
he had to carry on and see. Once more, in any case, a fine 
dream had been shattered. 

The irony of events caught him with a private duty 
to be done first, with Lord Bryce. They had drafted 
together the album address which Walter Crane, at a cost 
of 125, was to illuminate, and had arranged to present it 

301 



302 THE MASTER SPINNER 

at Skibo in August. The signatories hoped that the builder 
of the Hague temple might " long be spared to witness the 
triumph of those great principles of Peace on Earth and 
Goodwill among Men " which he had spent years in pro- 
moting ; and the decoration of the album enshrined his 
favourite quotation from Whittier, " Peace unweaponed 
conquers every wrong." After August 4th this appeared 
to be at least untimely. Hence the following letter : 

HINDLEAP, FOREST Row, SUSSEX, 
August 16, 1914. 

DEAR SIR SWIRE, Things have so changed since we last 
met, when the cloud was rising over the sky which has now 
shrouded the world in gloom, that I do not know whether 
you still contemplate going to Skibo. Please let me know. 
I am not quite sure whether to go or not, and have only 
promised to spend a few days with some friends in Forfar- 
shire. No Hague Palace of Peace this year. Peace itself 
is dead. Yet perhaps it might be a pleasure to an old friend 
to receive, whether orally or by letter, the address, however 
far from cheerful the occasion could now be. 

Bad accounts of approaching distress reach us from 
Birmingham and Lancashire. I hope Yorkshire may suffer 
less. 

Sincerely yours, 

BRYCE. 

Well, the mill was running only three days a week. 
But nothing could have stood in the way of his annual 
visit ; and, as to the address, he saw little amiss with it. 
No one believed that the war could last many months. 
For peace this war would furnish an unexampled argument ; 
and the question whether peace might live unweaponed, 
or could only be assured, perhaps, by an international police 
and an international exchequer, had not been discussed. 
He did not mind the irony, and on August 26th the address 
was presented. 

It was his last meeting with Mr. Carnegie, and proved 
one of the happiest visits to Skibo. 

Among the guests were Lord and Lady Shaw, Mr. and 



A SKIBO IRONY 303 

Mrs. Yates Thompson, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Carnegie, jun., 
with two little daughters, Mr. George and Miss Lauder, 
Miss (Dr.) Wallin, General and Mrs. Baden Powell. After 
dinner in the evening, while all the ladies worked for soldiers, 
the address was presented in the drawing-room by Lord 
Bryce. A beautiful speech, setting forth Mr. C.'s great 
service to humanity. He specially noted three things the 
endowment of pensions for University professors, the en- 
dowment of research, and the great example set to rich 
men to make wise use of their money while they live. I 
saw that the gift was much appreciated. 

August zjth. Ritchie with us. The yacht and perfect 
sunshine, with much pleasant talk. 

August 28th. I had four rounds of golf during the day, 
one with Lord Bryce in which I did the nine holes in 35. 
My record ! The shadow of this terrible war oppresses 
us all. 

August 2gth. A great compliment was paid to me. At 
ten o'clock all the guests assembled at the entrance hall 
and, led by Angus piper, we marched in procession to the 
park rising from the carriage drive to the sunset walk. There 
we drew up before a young oak that was placed in a hole in 
the ground. Mr. Carnegie said that at various times dis- 
tinguished visitors had planted trees, and he would now ask 
one of his oldest friends, " and perhaps our most frequent 
visitor," to plant one. I filled in many spadefuls of earth, 
and then thanked Mr. and Mrs. C. for the great honour they 
had done me. Mrs. Carnegie then photographed the scene. 
Two photos were to be in natural colours. News of the 
burning of Louvain. The serious thing is that, although 
our soldiers repel the Germans, both they and the French 
are falling back, so that the enemy appears to be gaining 
strong positions. 

When he wrote this, his own position had not been well 
considered. The whirlwind of events carried him on from 
day to day. Questions of responsibility for a great disaster, 
dark as yet, and complicated for him by the resignation of 
Lord Morley, filled his mind. A month of unrelieved and 
crushing anxiety followed. His nephew had gone into 
training ; Mary was busy on a relief committee. Orders 
were no longer placed on the Bradford market, it looked 



304 THE MASTER SPINNER 

as if the worsted trade must lie dormant for the duration of 
the war, and at this moment he had news of the failure of 
a small American creditor. That was the last straw. A 
lady in London whom he knew well tells me that, coming to 
see her, he sat down and buried his face in his hands. " This 
morning I had to see my banker," he explained. " I couldn't 
look him in the face." 

It may occur to the reader that there would be a demand 
for khaki. The cloth trade was one that made no call upon 
such machinery as Sir Swire Smith owned ; nevertheless, 
in November the demand for khaki saved him. It was 
so pressing that worsted yarns had to be drawn upon, and 
it was supplemented by the enormous military needs of 
Russia and France. He saw that it would keep his mill 
going while he held that cast-off stock, and this was all that 
mattered. Moreover, business knowledge made him useful 
to the Allies. One finds him writing (to Miss Mary Williams, 
of Brookline, Mass.) : 

The head of the stores department of the War Office 
(Mr. Wintour), who is a personal friend, appealed to me a 
few weeks ago to find him the best clothing expert in the 
country to help him. I sent him a man. And since then 
the head of the clothing department of the French Army 
has asked me to find a man for him, which I have done 
also. 

What the choice of these experts meant to our Armies, 
every one knows. I do not find that he spoke of it to any 
one on this side the Atlantic, and the service is probably 
now made known for the first time. Miss Williams was a 
friend of long standing. 

Now, he was still regarded and more than ever in war- 
time as something of a " back number," and had come 
to think himself such in some aspects. In December Keighley 
conferred upon him the freedom of the borough in that capa- 
city, which was at least an honourable one for a man of his 
performance. Presently he was no such thing. But I 



CHRISTMAS 305 

print two last personal letters in which the tone of quietude 
sounds pleasantly. One is furnished by his oldest colleague, 
Mr. Brigg, a prisoner of arthritis at Torquay. 

STEETON MANOR, 

December 29, 1914. 

MY DEAR OLD FRIEND, Another Christmas has come 
and gone, and the shortest day has passed, starting the 
hope that spring will come again, and here I sit in my ingle 
nook with Peggy at my feet, thinking of you. ... I hope 
you are fairly free from pain, and able to keep up your spirits. 

How different Christmas is f&>m what it used to be ! 
In my own circle we never made it a time of special meeting 
or rejoicing . . . but, as you and I look back, our family 
circles have almost ceased to be circles at all. Of my family 
and generation I only am left, and so it is with you. That 
is how one realizes that we have had a fairly long innings ; 
but, however big our score, we cannot come out bat in 
hand. . . . 

I have been spending Christmas with my dear old friend 
Roscoe, in Surrey. He is eighty-two, and he really seems 
to enjoy having me with him for a few days ; and we talk 
over our exploits on the Technical Commission and of 
the days when Lady Roscoe travelled with us and made his 
home so happy. . . . 

I wonder if I told you that I have been made a Warden 
of the Clothworkers' Company. You will remember that, 
at the dinners, the Wardens stand by the side of the Master, 
gowned, and wearing an ancient medallion. I shall be 
shorn of this swagger, I fear, during my term, for we are 
not going to have any dinners while the war lasts. I have 
also been made a member of the Carnegie Trust. ... I confess 
I enjoy these appointments, for I meet good and pleasant 
men, and I get the change of a visit to Town about once 
a month, with my expenses paid. 

And now, dear Harriette, a word to you. You are 
worthily fulfilling a noble mission. You are indeed a minis- 
tering angel, and you will get your reward in this world and 
the next. 

With best love to both of you, always your old friend 

SWIRE. 

The second letter (January 19, 1915) went to the late 

20 



306 THE MASTER SPINNER 

Mr. John Waugh, of Ben Rhydding and Settle, then dis- 
abled by a gun accident ; and, because that crony was a 
gentleman almost as cheery as himself, it was not without 
humour. 

DEAR OLD JOHN, I cannot tell you how sorry I am. 
You have gone through many moving accidents by flood 
and field ; but I would have hoped that, at your time of 
life, you would escape one like this, which will make you 
even more than you were dependent on the help of others, 
and give you much suffering. But there are other good 
soldiers, besides yourself, who are now wounded and broken, 
and your suffering will, I am sure, often lead you to think 
of them with great sympathy. 

Our good old friend Sir John Brigg used to tell of having 
his leg amputated at the knee, and that his lads put it in 
a box, and took it into the garden, and laid it at rest under 
an apple-tree. He said he thought of the lines from " The 
Burial of Sir John Moore " : 

Slowly and sadly they laid him down 

On the field of his fame, fresh and gory ; 

They carved not a line, and they raised not a stone, 
But they left him alone in his glory. 

For many years dear old John used to tell of it with a cheery 
smile ; and to you, dear old John, I would express the hope 
that, when your wounds are healed and give you no further 
pain, you may be permitted for many and many a year 
also to tell with your own cheery smile of the accident that 
now afflicts you so sadly. . . . 

But in each case the letter was written to an invalid. 
The good heart that dictated it, silent on distresses except 
to assuage them, was profoundly stirred by the battlefields, 
touched and astounded by men's bravery. To be useless 
now fretted him ; he was roused, and the signs appear 
in his commonplace book, where the last frivolous entry, 
a verse beginning " Here's to the Girl who's strictly in it " 
some toast is suddenly followed by William Blake's lines 



WAR ZEAL AND NEW HOPES 307 

Bring me my bow of burning gold ! 

Bring me my arrows of desire ! . . . 
I will not cease from mental fight, 

Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand, 
Till we have built Jerusalem 

In England's green and pleasant land. 

Then comes William Watson's lashing word : 

For you, our heroes conquer ye or fail 

Honour and paean, night and noon and morn ! 

For you who gambol and play while Time turns pale, 
Disgust itself scarce stoops to hiss its scorn. 

The burst of civic activity in which people at home 
bore a hand with countless forms of organized war-work 
found him ready with guidance and exhortation, tirelessly. 
The moral shock had been tremendous. A people he had 
wholly admired, and for most of his life held up to emulation, 
was ruled by military chiefs who shrank from no enormity. 
In a speech made in April, calling women to take the places 
of men at home for all purposes, his earliest fire and clearest 
eloquence reappeared. 

That was a remarkable speech. He said at once that 
many of women's new employments would be permanent, 
and that they were entitled to equal pay with men for equal 
work. He named a score of such openings, and demanded 
immensely wider opportunities of training for girls at school. 
As to factory life, it must be made clean, comfortable, 
bright, and in every way desirable for self-respecting women 
and girls. 

In America factory girls are described as " factory ladies " 
and why not ? I have watched them leave wearing veils 
and gloves, with a long line of tramcars drawn up at the 
gates to take them to their homes. They leave behind 
their working clothes or their neat overalls in lockers. 
What must be insisted on is that all trades whatever be 
conducted with decency and good manners. 

These things were not being generally said, but he had 



308 THE MASTER SPINNER 

to repeat some of them at Bradford a week later. Sir 
Swire Smith foresaw a nation of trained and respected workers, 
in which " honour and shame from no condition rise." 

The demand for plenary service in his last years came 
in June, unexpected. When Mr. Asquith formed a Coalition 
Government, Sir Stanley Buckmaster was made Lord 
Chancellor of England, and Keighley had to find another 
Member. This time, its chief citizen could not refuse to be 
put in nomination. There was the old drag, more than ever 
cumbersome ; but 

It was argued that there would be no party divisions, 
and particularly no snap divisions ; that the session would 
be short ; that there would be no contest, and probably 
another election in the autumn. Sir John Clough pleaded. 
If I were elected, he said that my retirement might probably 
be arranged when the general election came, as Sir John 
Simon looked with favourable eyes upon the seat. 

Sir Swire yielded, was elected without any contest, and 
then had to wait in vain for any general election. More 
than that ; the service demanded of women as well as men 
took his niece presently to a hospital in France, to superintend 
the issue of stores. There was to be no more of the old 
home life for him at Steeton. 

On his election to Parliament, Lord Morley wrote : 

I'm sure you are quite right in the step that your friends 
and neighbours have with good reason pressed upon you 
The thing will interest you more than you expect, and 
" abnormal " though it is at the moment there is much to 
be learned in the H. of C., where you will find plenty o: 
friendly company. We shall hope to see you soon. 

Lady Frederick Cavendish : 

One word of warm congratulation to you and Keighley 
so married to each other that it is indeed a happiness for 
both parties ! I hope the war has not cost you lives near 
and dear to you. I have lost a Cavendish nephew, as yo 
know ; two other nephews have been wounded and recovered 



MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT 309 

and I have lost many cousins and others in whom I am 
interested. But we must face all sacrifice if we can but so 
destroy German frightfulness as to secure a permanent 
and righteous peace. Surely no nation in its senses can ever 
again consent to fling millions against millions, armed with 
infernal machines. 

None near to him, but some dear to him, and many a 
Keighley lad in whom he took the warm-hearted interest 
you have seen. He felt for his friend Captain Turner, 
of the Lusitania, with whom he had so happily swapped 
stories ; and if Mr Carnegie had returned to England, he 
would almost certainly have- been on board that boat. 
" The blackest crime in the war," he notes. " The Lusitania 
murder was deliberately planned, prepared for, waited for, 
reckless who should be killed women, children, even their 
own countrymen." So he went to Westminster resolved 
to support Mr. Asquith and the Government in any measures 
they might have to take for the end stated in that letter 
from Lady Frederick. Nothing less was worth the appalling 
cost already. 

Tuesday, July 6th. Mr. Gulland asked me to go and see 
him at eleven, at 12 Downing Street. He very cordially 
welcomed me, and quietly rehearsed what would happen. 
I should appear below the bar between him and Sir H. 
Duncan after the questions. We should all bow, walk up 
the House half way and bow again, then proceed to the 
table and bow a third time. The House met at 2.45, and 
after prayers I was taken inside and sat on a back bench on 
the right. Questions were over by about 3.30. At the 
table the Clerk met me, took my paper, and opened a box 
from which he took a Bible and the members' book. I 
read the oath, a few words expressive of loyalty, and then 
I wrote my name and " Keighley," and followed the Clerk 
to the Speaker, who shook hands with me ; and I passed 
out behind the Speaker's chair. 

I was there met by Sir William Byles, Sir Philip Magnus 
and others, and Sir John Barran said that the thing to do 
was for Byles to show me round the House and teach me 
the geography of it. He introduced me to Sir John Simon 



310 THE MASTER SPINNER 

and off I went for my lesson, encountering in our passage 
along corridors and through the libraries, tea-room, smoking- 
room, etc., many members who heartily welcomed me. 
Most of them said they had long known me by repute. In 
the lobby was Lord Rotherham, whom I arranged to look 
up in the Lords at 4.30. Mr. Will Crooks, who once said 
that I was the pioneer of real education in this country, 
made it his business to find me a locker. 

Election to the House at 73 was not without precedent. 
Sir Isaac Holden himself had gone there older, Sir Robert 
Pullar at 79. But Sir Swire Smith found few older men 
who gave attendance, though Sir Thomas Roe had done so 
to the age of 85, when he was made a peer ; and it is unlikely 
that any man of Sir Swire's years had either looked or felt 
so much younger than those years as he did. He was young 
enough to make new friends for one thing, if not to make a 
new career. He made a friend of the first man he sat down 
against, Sir Stephen Collins, a very warm friend ; and his 
rare social qualities procured a personal standing in the 
House immediately. But he took no part in debates. He 
took, in three weeks before the autumn adjournment, his 
bearings ; quietly estimating this prominent man and that 
as he saw them at near hand for the first time, and the play 
of personal factors in affairs. Nothing bored him but inept- 
ness and time wasted. 

I hadn't a place of my own, and as there was plenty of 
room I moved about a little. I had settled in one comfort- 
able seat, when who should come beside me but Philip 
Snowden ! He said, " What are you doing here ? You're 
among the Labour men." " Well," I said, " I'm a Labour 
man for the present." On another occasion I sat under 
the gallery opposite Mr. Asquith, and a Conservative friend 
said, " Why, you're among the Tories ! " Or I found 
myself on one of the benches occupied by the Irish 
members. 

The old distinctions at such a time amused him. 

But wherever I sat I was made welcome as the new member 



GERMANY'S BLUNDER 311 

who had come to take the place of the Lord Chancellor. 
I had a charming little interview with Lloyd George and 
Sir John Simon in the dining-room. L. G. said he was de- 
lighted to see me there, and told Sir J. that he had gone 
over my factory long years ago, and had spoken at a political 
meeting at Haworth to about forty people. Sir J. asked how 
long ago it was. " Oh," said L. G., with his twinkling smile, 
" that was before you were born." 

He went home for the Recess to put the situation before 
a recruiting meeting, with a firm grasp of it, and to learn 
with pride that a Keighley firm had shown the War Office 
how to make certain shells at half the price paid for them. 
The stormy interview in which a practical, rough townsman 
speaking dialect had carried his point with a supercilious 
official, forcing him to test the shell produced and to revise 
prices throughout the country, made another story for Sir 
Swire's budget ; he was not content till it had been told in 
a London newspaper. 

At once he was looking beyond the war to the normal 
contest of national wits. Germany's downfall, which he 
foresaw, was a tragedy of over-reaching ambition ; for, 
had she continued to rely upon a superior system of industrial 
education, the envy and despair of Europe, Germany must 
have reached her " place in the sun " within ten years. What 
would happen when the war was over ? The same contest, 
with whatever differences. Speaking at Rochdale, he there- 
fore renewed an old sermon with a new text. 

Germany was in a hurry. Militarism dazzled her gaze 
with a false promise of that " place in the sun " which she 
had so long coveted. She has been thrown back for genera- 
tions, and maybe she has given one more great opportunity 
to Britain. But don't let her murderous threat to the civi- 
lization of the world blind you. Our educational period is 
the shortest among the advanced nations. 

After a year of war, his was the only voice crying that 
kind of warning. It was not heard ; however sane, the 
warning had to bide the issue of a contest more urgent. 



312 THE MASTER SPINNER 

But he knew that. What he said was prompted by a passing 
occasion, a little distribution of school prizes ; and, going 
back to Westminster, he did what he could. This was 
not much, yet it began to please him. Take the sketch of 
a busy life given in November to Sir Arthur Godwin, a friend 
of the happier days when they were on the same programme 
for a Bradford entertainment : 

I am taking up my Parliamentary duties as a sort of 
half-timer. I come on a Monday and return on a Wednesday. 
There is positively nothing for me to do (I have only taken 
part in two divisions), and I know that the Government 
would be very glad if the whole House would play truant 
and leave Ministers to their administrative duties which 
are difficult and serious enough in all conscience. But, 
as you know, a member of Parliament may be of some use, 
even if he don't waste time in making speeches that nobody 
wants to hear. They also serve who only stand and wait. 

I have found a job that suits me down to the ground, 
and gives much pleasure to others. I have lady friends who 
are much interested in the wounded soldiers, and they tell 
me that there is nothing they so much enjoy as visiting the 
House of Commons, hearing the prominent men from 
the gallery, seeing the House of Lords and having tea in the 
tea-room. For several weeks now, on the Tuesday after- 
noons, I have had half-a-dozen Tommies with nurses and 
lady friends, and I have taken them about as if the whole 
place belonged to me ; and I can tell you they like these 
encounters beyond words. I am able to introduce them 
occasionally to celebrities, with a noble lord or two thrown 
in, and to mix them at tea with two or three members with 
whom the ladies are as pleased as the Tommies. I have 
weekly parades booked till the House rises. 

There is some advantage in a new member coming to 
an old House. The police and attendants caught my name 
at once ; and, as I leave the House or come to it, the police 
at the corner of Parliament Street hold up the traffic till 
I have passed over. You see how one notices a little distinc- 
tion. Well, well ; small things please small people. 

Two days' duty once a week was easily done, and though 
there might be no relief while the war lasted he was content, 



A GHOST 313 

unable to guess what greater things were shaping. The 
war apart, he was happy in seeing more of London friends, 
and at home the time had not yet come to part with Mary. 
" I cannot think," he said in the same letter, " it will be a 
long war ; the pace is too frightful, the wastage so ruinous." 

Mary was spared in December; presently conscription 
had to be used at last ; and it appeared that the war could 
end only in the exhaustion of the enemy. He, too, submitted 
to the pace at unawares. 

One day, he saw a ghost. I do not know where or how 
it happened, but, as if by a spite of fortune, my friend met 
after forty years the North Country Maid whom he might 
have married. She was withered and frail, but he knew her. 
The encounter seemed a little pathetic. They had not, after 
all, " much to say to each other," and only spoke of what 
changes the years had brought to her and her people ; yet 
" I believe," he said afterwards, " we could both have cried." 
It must also have been a sharp reminder of the isolation to 
which he was reduced. Then in December his dearest 
friend, Sir Henry Roscoe, died ; and after seeing the last 
rites performed he spent a forlorn Christmas with Peggy 
It is pleasant to find this letter : 



FLOWERMEAD, WIMBLEDON PARK, S.W. 
December 28th. 

MY DEAR SIR SWIRE, I am bidden by my wife to assure 
you that she is heartily obliged to you for the wool. It 
has arrived duly, and no Christmas gift could be more 
welcome. She is particularly glad that it is white, and she 
vows that it shall be worked up like magic. Thank you. 

We are sorry indeed to think of your Christmas solitude. 
It is melancholy work, this clearing of the decks. Poor 
Roscoe ! He was a lover of knowledge, and a man full 
of public spirit of the best kind. 

I see to-night that our good friend across the Atlantic 
has come out with much munificence towards Belgium. 
Every good thing to you for the New Year. 

Yours very sincerely, 

MORLEY. 



314 THE MASTER SPINNER 

But such letters were not his only consolation. Serenely, 
another romance, the last and happiest of his ingenuous 
love affairs, had dawned for him. I am indebted to an 
equally ingenuous lady for leave to show how the two years 
of usefulness that remained were cheered and softened by 
this friendship. 

For some time before the war, in spite of all his courage 
and of gay distractions, in spite of the fact that women 
gave him esteem and even much affection, he had been 
disposed to lament bachelordom ; and the war, with its 
disturbance of all relations, had severed ties and left him 
adrift. He foresaw no comfort. But among those ladies 
in town whose care of the wounded he had been glad to 
second, there was one travelled like himself, with some of 
the same interests and hobbies as he, and charmingly kind. 
In January she was at Harrogate, and he asked her to come 
and see his home. She consented. 

He wrote from Steeton Manor on January I3th : 

I cannot tell you with what pleasure I am looking for- 
ward to your visit on Saturday. I chafe against my engage- 
ment to open that Carnegie organ, for it prevents me meeting 
you at Leeds and so making sure that you catch your con- 
nection to Keighley. You are going to have a perfectly 
quiet visit, and a rest in the country. I am not inviting 
any one to meet you on the Sunday except my cousin (Will), 
who is a good pianist ; and we will have some old songs, and 
as much Edwin Waugh as you will care for. If it be fine, 
we will walk through my wood to the moor above, and 
perhaps take a run to Bolton Abbey. I have only to make 
sure not to tire you. Bring your camera. I enclose a few 
more snapshots, which will give you an idea of the country 
around here. Don't trouble about luggage : of course, 
bring what you like, but we shall not dress for dinner. You 
will be coming to a bachelor's small establishment, and the 
heartiness of your welcome will have to make up for short- 
comings. I reserve nice messages, but I will give you a 
warm greeting. 

Yours sincerely, 

SWIRE SMITH. 



LAST LOVE AFFAIR 315 

What had happened was really a great thing. He had 
found by chance a companion moved, not so much by 
himself how far she was that, he did not know as by 
the very motives and objects that engaged him. It was a 
rarer thing in his seventy-fourth year than it would have 
been earlier, in good time. He had at once understood her, 
and seemed to be understood. He was ; they came of the 
same northern stock, serviceable and sunny-natured, and 
she had seen a great deal of the world. From the first he 
had been at ease with her, and immensely interested ; more- 
over, she was so much younger as to be still attractive, and 
above all she was womanly. 

The intimacy ripened quickly. They had soon told 
each other their lives, or rather those passages that were 
vital to it ; here, at least, was a " marriage of true minds." 
He found this restful and sweet in trying times, and there 
is the best picture of his last activities in the letters to this 
lady, which are love letters, although there is no passion 
in them and he signs only " Yours sincerely." Here is the 
second, a month later : 

STEETON MANOR, 

February 12, 1916. 

I was so glad to get your letter this morning in the quiet 
of my little ingle, and this Sunday will be a very restful 
day, at any rate until the evening, when I preside over that 
concert in the theatre. I hope you are having a very pleasant 
holiday with your relatives. You bring back the memory 
of the one a few weeks ago, which I see no reason why we 
should not repeat. " Barkis is willin'," as you will remember 
from David Copperfield ; and travelled people like you 
and me are not bounded by a few miles of geography. If 
the springtime had come, I would have tried to persuade 
you to take a week-end at Edinburgh. I have to go there 
on the 26th to a meeting at Dunfermline it will be repeated 
later. The plan would be to meet at Hellifield (from Man- 
chester) on the Friday afternoon, stay at the Station Hotel, 
Edinburgh (I should be away for a few hours on Saturday), 
back in the evening, and from Edinburgh home on Sunday. 
That is a possible week-end with a bit of romance in it. 



316 THE MASTER SPINNER 

Last night was really good. The municipal hall was 
packed, and Lord and Lady Buckmaster received the guests. 
... I have to confess that I am a duffer at speaking, but 
I may tell you how cordially I was received by the crowded 
audience. They fairly took me to their hearts as their 
Member. 

I go to Town to-morrow night, and Parliament is opened 
on Tuesday by the Lord Chancellor in place of the King. 
I expect to be at the House till late on Tuesday, and till 
4.30 on Wednesday. By the way, I amused the audience 
last night by saying that I had no intention of succeeding 
the Lord Chancellor on the Woolsack, but that, if the sack 
needed a little stuffing, I was prepared to supply the wool. 
I said that I often looked in at the Lords, and, as I beheld 
him, I always felt as if I had Keighley on my back ; although 
he did not hail me as I entered, I sometimes thought that 
he gave me a wink of recognition. How he and Lady B. 
laughed ! 

I am very glad to hear of the success and prospects of 
the Manchester Ship Canal. The original shareholders 
were true patriots, enormously helping Manchester though 
doing nothing for themselves. I hope your time has come. 

I have no doubt at all about your making an effective 
mill manager, but wouldn't you be better as a Parliamentary 
secretary ? Write what you will and say what you will, 
never mind about prompt answers. The photo is taken 
from Mary's balcony. 

With that letter an entry in the diary should be linked : 

Tuesday, February 4th. Dined with Lord Chancellor 
and Lady and Miss B. Concertina and piano ! Old songs. 

Then follows this on March I2th : 

I cannot tell why you should allow yourself to get out 
of spirits. Of course you unconsciously give a sufficient 
reason, in suggesting that the gloom followed your visit 
to the prison. A nature like yours cannot contemplate 
gloom and misery without being affected, and Providence 
intended you to be a sunny influence everywhere. You 
are fond of apt quotations write this under your portrait, 
it is from Spenser's " Faerie Queen " : 



LAST LOVE AFFAIR 317 

Her angel's face 

As the great eye of heaven shyned bright, 
And made a sunshine in the shady place. 

I think I told you that a lady sought me at the House 
who had not seen me for ten years Miss Sylvia Phelps, 
the grand-daughter of Samuel Phelps, the great actor before 
Irving's rise. She asked for gallery seats for herself and 
Miss Annie Saker, whom I met at my brother's with Miss 
Phelps ten years ago. They come to the House on Tuesday. 
Miss Saker is taking the principal part in a piece that is having 
a run at the Prince of Wales Theatre. I shall ask Lord R. 
(Rotherham) to tea with the actresses. 

The friendship had begun auspiciously 



CHAPTER XXI 

Sale of the business Comradeship in Jupiter Island Entertaining wounded 
men Burlesque of Irving Ladies in the House " Mignon " Love 
letters Songs with his mill girls The Real German Rivalry Patriotism 
of Keighley Bulletin at seventy-five. 

THE capacity for such friendships in a man who was 
sheet-anchored at home with his own people and 
profoundly serious is what, after all, has lent most 
charm to the story of Sir Swire Smith. This one was even 
to atone a little for the dispersal of his household at the 
call of war. But neither this friendship nor any other strained 
at the anchorage ; looking back, one is compelled to recognize 
the fact. His strongest sentiments were domestic. After 
the mother and father there had been Hannah and Sam ; 
now there were Mary and Lance, not to enumerate others 
of a new generation allied to him less intimately. He was 
boyish in nothing so much as in the home life, for which 
all his private plans were made very steadfastly. I do 
not venture to enrich with warmer touches the picture of 
its intimacy, serene and comfortable ; but there was mutual 
affection, understanding and esteem. 

Those private plans of the master spinner, concerned 
above all with the permanence of this happiness, were sud- 
denly altered now. After fifty-three years of anxious money- 
making, the unexpected chance came to make an end, 
and he ceased to be a master spinner. 

How often, of late years, had he longed to be free ! How 
well he was rid of his load ! It is no easier to command 
the disposal of such a business than to found it, but fate had 
reserved this last luck for him, bringing it with the war, 
which at first had seemed to threaten him with disaster. 

318 



SALE OF THE BUSINESS 319 

For he had not sought the opportunity to sell ; it had itself 
offered ; and it had done so when, after a loss of 4,650 
in 1914, the following year left him with a profit of 7,880 
on which to negotiate firmly. Younger, he would have held 
on, for now, unmistakably, the trade had great prospects ; 
but he did not hesitate. Whatever a man's health and 
strength may be, he must think first at seventy-four of those 
who are to come after him. The main consideration was 
that neither niece nor nephew could take his place in such 
a business. He sold out ; and Mary in France, wistful 
about him while she did " her bit," received this very 
surprising letter : 

HOUSE OF COMMONS LIBRARY, 
March 14, '16. 

MY DEAR MARY, I have news for you. I wonder if 
I told you that about ten days ago (the date of his seventy- 
fourth birthday) Moore and Crabtree, architects, asked me for 
an interview ; they had an application from a Leicester firm 
open to buy a spinning plant, and, putting this and that 
together, they thought I might be willing to sell mine. 

I said yes. 

The gentleman from Leicester came, and I took him 
(and M. and C.) over the place, and the question was, " Well, 
how much ? " I named a figure, to which the gentleman 
replied, " Impossible"; and, as they left, I suggested that 
I had not said my last word. A meeting was afterwards 
arranged for yesterday in Bradford. . . . After a stiff 
fight they advanced, and I gave way, and we met. 

I have sold the business ! 

It is a splendid bargain for the buyer, but the price is 
better than any I have dreamt of since, say, Uncle Sam's 
death. What a relief to you, and LANCE and ME ! . . . 

Tell me what you think of all this. I put down my 
decision to my seventy-four years. Much love from 

Your aff. Uncle, 

SWIRE. 

It seemed to mean such comparative ease for him, with 
such new liberty, that she wrote in high spirits to approve 
it ; and then, in a second letter, his deeper ground of satis- 
faction showed. He said : 



320 THE MASTER SPINNER 

I was very glad to have your congratulations, for I felt 
that, next to myself, no one would rejoice more fully than 
you that I had been able to remove, not the millstone, but 
the mill from my neck. I obtain intense relief from two 
things '(escape from) the indefinite chaining to a business 
full of anxiety, from which there was no prospect of release, 
and the freeing of Lance and yourself from the awful possi- 
bility of having an unmanageable mill thrown on your hands. 

All being well, I shall be able to hand over to my nephews 
and nieces their shares in Uncle Sam's estate to invest in 
securities of their own choice, and the surplus that will be 
left which has every appearance of being ample for all 
my needs will no longer be tied up in an investment that 
might have been a serious encumbrance to others. 

I suppose, after to-day, it will be current gossip that 
I've given up business, and that I am going to end my days 
as a Member of Parliament and a gentleman. 

And so my friend came to the summit of his modest 
ambition. It had been reached almost in spite of him, 
and, strangely, a gleam of sun shone at the same time in 
Florida. The residents on Jupiter Island met to offer 
loans for the building of an inn, repayable on the sale of 
ground to newcomers. They said nice things of what had 
been done for their comfort ; and, reading these with that 
offer, he divined " a spirit of comradeship " that should 
" make the island a community of real friends assembled for 
rest and good fellowship." Enough ; he seemed to have 
been dreaming true. 

Another chapter opened. The habits of a long life are 
not to be thrown off, and ease had never been desired by 
him ; but of freedom he made a pleasant use. The House 
of Commons presently came to know him for it. Says Sir 
Stephen Collins : 

He had a big heart, and showed his liberality and kind- 
ness in many ways. He never appeared more happy than 
when entertaining friends in the tea-room or on the terrace, 
or on a more liberal scale in the dining-room ; and I think 
he was pleased best when our brave lads from the front 



TOMMIES AND THE ABNER STORY 321 

visited the House. He would gather them in groups, give 
them tea and then cigars, and get some of his colleagues 
to join in entertaining these delighted guests. 

On one fortunate occasion, being one of a number lending 
a hand at the tea-table, I persuaded Sir Swire to give a de- 
scription of how Sir Henry Irving read a portion of Scripture 
to the students of an American University. I think he 
himself had been there at the time, on a visit to his friend 
Andrew Carnegie. Sir Henry selected the account of young 
David being brought before Saul by Abner, captain of the 
king's host, and, with his great imaginative power, made the 
incident and the men who figured in it live before the students. 
But, as you know, he had some very distinct mannerisms ; 
and, having myself heard and seen the great actor several 
times, I can truthfully say that Sir Swire's rendering was a 
most wonderful imitation. The voice and manner, the 
gestures, the peculiar gait of the dragging leg, were all as 
if Irving himself had been there. 

Irving was supposed to read the lesson at a Harvard 
service. He rose from his place among the congregation, 
advancing with that deliberate, special gait to the lectern, 
and laid the book open gracefully, happy to take the stage. 
After a dallying pause he began : " And when Saul saw 
Da-avid go forth against the Philistine." 

This was the personation that once amused Lord Morley. 
What took effect was not so much the gravity of a mouthing 
diction as one or two unlooked-for contrasts, dramatizing 
the scene. Saul had a patronizing manner for his commander- 
in-chief. He called in a peremptory, large voice, " Abner ! 
Pst, pst," and waved him lightly to approach. " Whose 
son," he asked, with a touch of friendly interest, " is this 
youth ? " The scene lived, though it was comic. In Abner's 
reply there was a contrast due to a trick of elocution ; for 
after the conventional exordium, " As thy soul liveth, 
O King," which was grave beyond conventional need, he 
paused and said most flippantly, " I cannot tell " a piece 
of shocking affectation. Irving read on with overpowering 
dignity : " And as Da-avid returned from the slaughter of 
the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before 

21 



322 THE MASTER SPINNER 

Saul Ah ! ! ! " A cry of shaking horror, to visualize 
the head of Goliath at armslength, and so well done that, 
in spite of mannerism, there was no laughter. But another 
contrast followed. Saul having put his question again to 
David (with more respect now), the champion's answer was 
so youthfully smug and cheerful " I am the son of thy 
serr-vant Jesse, the Bethlehemite " that one laughed heartily. 
Irving toyed with a pince-nez, the serious exquisite enjoying 
his effect. Then he closed the book with a well-graced 
satisfaction to say, " Thus endeth the reading of the lesson," 
and moved away picturesquely. 

Only, if Irving' 3 word may be trusted, Sir Stephen 
Collins is deceived ; the story was apocryphal. 

Among members of all shades, Sir Swire soon became a 
favourite. A splendid companion was our friend, one could 
never be dull in his presence, and " as good as gold and true 
as steel " withal. He could be serious at need, firm and 
even stern. But we remember him with the cheery smile, 
the merry twinkling eyes, the ready wit and well-nigh 
inexhaustible mine of stories and experiences, garnished 
with a rich humour. His friends would sit entranced, 
delighted. 

Mr. Gulland, Mr. Mallalieu and Mr. Theo. Taylor give 
similar pictures of him, and Mr. Taylor adds : 

In the short period during which he was a member of 
the House, he entertained more ladies, particularly American 
ladies, than any other two or three of us ; and he was as 
great a favourite with them, evidently, as with his fellow 
members. 

That will seem no wonder to the reader ; and I am tempted 
here to add a prettj^ story of his squiring. One of his earliest 
acquaintances and oldest friends, Mrs. Edith Yeld of Ludden- 
den, tells it. 

My younger daughter Hilda being in London, she and 
Sir Swire arranged to go to an opera together. The perform- 
ance was " Mignon." He drove her back to her club, 
she wa.s staying, and he said, " Now, have you enjoyed 



SOURCES OF COURAGE 323 

the evening ? " She said that she had enjoyed it thoroughly. 
" That's right," he nodded. " I also enjoyed ' Mignon.' 
But I enjoyed Hilda more." 

Which brings us back to the new friend he had made. 
To me it seems evident that the sprightly play of sentiment, 
a show of his vital and benign temper, had become more 
than ever necessary to the maintenance of that temper in 
face of all that tried it. Dark days of the war tested him 
no less than duller men. In April came the secret Session, 
and I find him writing, " You cannot tell how I hunger to 
see you." That is a deeper note than he normally sounded. 
He was going down to Torquay to cheer his old friend Ben 
a little, and had learnt that she would be there too, where- 
upon this cri du cceur escaped him in three lines of reply. 
At Torquay the diary records " Delightful walks." But, 
with respect to those dark days, one knows only the sources 
of one's own courage, and I must not make too much of a 
lacuna. 

When he reached home at the week-end, Mary had come 
for a brief holiday and Lance was back from the trenches. 
How glad he was at that reunion, how much there was to 
talk about, what plans he thought of for the uncertain future, 
one likes to imagine ; for he had less than two years more to 
live. 

In quoting his fellow members I have gone ahead of events, 
foreshadowing the fulness of those years however slightly. 
For the time being, he still declined to speak in the Chamber, 
saying, " Oh, I came here too late in life." In any case 
there was no party warfare. But from duties of one kind 
or another there was little respite, and, throughout the 
summer, his week-ends at home brought not only speaking, 
but almost as much entertaining as the days in London. 
There were always wounded men or nurses, or there were 
both. Nor was he altogether clear of the business he had 
made over, for the terms of sale involved six months or more 
of current oversight and adjustments. What seems most 
wonderful, but helps, in fact, to lessen wonder, is the strand 



324 THE MASTER SPINNER 

of his romance in such a complex of activities. Two months 
pass and I find these letters : 

STEETON MANOR, 

June 6th. 

I wrote you on Saturday to the Prince of Wales Hotel 
(Harrogate), welcoming you to Yorkshire and asking you 
to come to Steeton for the week-end. I said, " Bring 
Dorothy or your niece, but, with or without either, come 
yourself and we will beat Torquay." I have telephoned to 
Harrogate and have waited for a reply, but as yet none has 
come. I am just off to London till Thursday, and I want 
to be assured that you will come on Saturday. Write me 
at the National Liberal Club. 

June 8th. 

Yours of yesterday was here when I arrived a few minutes 
ago, and I felt distressed. 

I know what it is to have made arrangements for a course 
of things, or for a cure, but I would like you so much to come 
here instead of my going to Harrogate for Whitsuntide. 
H. will be teeming with Bradford and Leeds people who 
know me, and who will want me to be civil to them ; but 
here there will be nobody but ourselves and Lance, and 
such friends as we may want to meet. It is not as if you 
had only a few days ; you can prolong your stay after the 
holidays, and I will come to you when the crush is over ; 
but I want you to come here now on Saturday. 

You have no idea how nice the garden looks, and the wood 
is at its best. Besides, I have promised to do some literary 
work, in which you can help at odd times and which it will 
be impossible to do at Harrogate. I plead for you to come 
to me. Now, come ; come I Telephone that you will. 
I could not bear to telephone now for fear you will say" No," 
and I cannot say " Yes." 

It seems there was no denying him. He showed his 
friend not only the Manor at its best, but Bolton Woods 
at their sweetest, and then Ha worth and the moors ; for 
he had a car now. Still, he could not be indulged always ; 
it was probably difficult to keep pace with him. Presently 
he complains of being left for three days without a letter 
or rather stifles a complaint, for he says : " Now don't 



ENTERTAINING MILL GIRLS 325 

mind. I know quite well that it is not good to allow 
children all they want. They must learn patience, and 
so do I." 

And the literary work ? That got itself done as it could, 
but was his most important effort. In national affairs the 
tug and poise of war had brought wild counsels ; men who 
saw no victory, and startled men whom victory would not 
content, were alike blind to what must follow it ; and to 
him, proposing follies, they seemed as dangerous as the 
enemy. Their clamour ignored so much all that he had 
learnt about the prosperous play of commerce. If it swamped 
experience, the sequel of victory would be ruinous when 
it might, as he believed, be advantageous. He wished, 
then, to be heard. What concerned him, be it observed, 
was not the fact that they had no thought of doing away 
with war : as to that new problem he had no clear thought 
himself yet ; what concerned him was the simple fact that 
Germany, throwing away her great commercial chance, 
had given a larger chance to this country, which fact they 
neglected. Encouraged by Lord Morley and by others, 
he was trying to make this very plain. Throughout that 
year's Recess he toiled at it. 

One day there was a fortuitous scene at the Manor 
that showed him in an amiable light. It is described 
in the next letter, addressed to the lady in a nursing 
home. 

I wonder if you received the little box of flowers I posted 
to you yesterday morning : everything is so much out of 
gear in this horrid war-time. I think, if I had looked round 
the garden first, I should not have presumed to send you 
the battered and sodden roses I had gathered ; but I told 
you in my note to accept them in the spirit of Byron's lines 
on sending flowers to (I think) his daughter. You will 
not have the chance of looking up the verses, so I will repeat 
them. . . . 

I came home yesterday about five, and Cousin Will was 
with me. Thirty young women, twisters from the mill, 
had asked to picnic in the wood, and for these picnics my 



326 THE MASTER SPINNER 

gardener has always made a fire and boiled the kettles. 
My new man doesn't understand the business so well, and 
I gave him a hand. These young women hadn't a man 
with them ; they said that all their men were at the front ; 
from every family some near one had gone ; two or three 
had sent husbands and others sweethearts. I looked them 
up again after tea and invited them into the garden to 
help themselves to gooseberries and rasps, and to flowers. 
Then I asked them into the house, and Will presided at the 
piano. Their singing was quite wonderful. They knew 
the soldiers' songs, and old English ballads, and no end of 
hymns, which they sang beautifully. They knew also 
" The Perfect Day." 

I thought of you often, and Will said how you would 
have enjoyed it. I was standing by one girl, and I asked 
her casually how long she had worked for me. She replied, 
" Nineteen years." The girl next to her said she had been 
with me twenty-three years and her sister twenty-seven 
years. Most of them said they began with me as half-timers 
at eleven and had not worked for any one else. Do you 
know, I felt a bit touched ? They were impressed by 
seeing a portrait of my brother, and recalled many things 
he used to say ; and they spoke of him with great respect 
and esteem. To me it was all very human ; for how little 
one really sees even of one's work-people ! 

By the time Parliament resumed, in October, he had 
produced a book, The Real German Rivalry : Yesterday, 
To-day and To-morrow, and in December it was published at 
a popular price. The book states in eighty pages what his 
life-work stood for. If my friend was at all wise in practical 
things, it embodies for the days of peace his practical wis- 
dom. A saying of Lord Salisbury's is put as its text : 
" Man's necessity is to live ; his first duty is to work ; and 
the object of education is to fit him for his work." The best 
way for the nation to procure employment and the way to 
train for it are the subject, closely argued from our contest 
with the Germans ; for he had been readier than some 
military chiefs to learn from the enemy. " There are," 
he said, " no reprisals possible that can take the place of 
industrial and commercial efficiency. The fallacy to be 



THE REAL GERMAN RIVALRY 327 

exposed is that a nation can grow rich through the poverty 
of another." 

There was too much excitement. But, among men who 
kept their heads, it was said at once that this brochure 
deserved a wide publicity, it was both sound and brilliant. 
It began steadily to win that, and gave him in Parliament 
the authority that belonged to his career. There, although 
he had not spoken, a group gathered round him for the 
benefit of his experience and judgment as well as for his 
humour. 

I shall hardly put into words the sense of comfort that 
men had, in such a time, from his mere presence. Already, 
after two years, the nightmare strain of a war that seemed 
to demand limitless sacrifice in vain is forgotten ; yet it is 
only by recalling the mood in which one lived from day to 
day, inured to the common nightmare but oppressed by it, 
that his unaltered plain humanity, warm and sane, and busy 
with little kindnesses, can be valued now. That kind of 
diligence, because it was effortless and not put on for the 
pinch, banished the nightmare. It made a sober contrast 
with all heroics at the same time ; and there was a certain 
luxury in being in touch with anything so normal. The 
imperturbability was lovable. On a hillside near to Keighley, 
as in many another quiet place, there was a great hospital 
always full of wounded men, whom the people took to their 
hearts and into their lives with a warmth so noble that it 
is doubtful if any picture of that time can be made for those 
who come after us. He took great pride in this, of course ; 
but, going familiarly among them, he seemed only to find 
it natural and right, so that his compassion had a brave 
spice of cheer in it. How they loved his story-telling 1 
I remember an afternoon at the Manor when, among half a 
dozen of us, the ball was kept rolling for nearly four hours 
with no interval, and I think he made more laughter than 
the rest put together. 

What was not so natural, Keighley prospered greatly 
and subscribed more per head of its population to one of 



328 THE MASTER SPINNER 

the war loans than any other town in the kingdom : this, 
be sure, he thought a legitimate thing to boast of. For 
his own part he had subscribed all the capital released from 
trade. Later the pinch tightened, and there was at least an 
equal show of patriotism in the example set by Keighley 
in food economy. 

I cannot say that my friend was good at self-denial, 
though he had by that time entertained Sir Arthur Yapp. 
But now, coming from Dunfermline after a meeting of the 
Carnegie Trust, in the heart of winter, he missed a connection 
of trains, and spent five Spartan hours in a waiting-room 
at Skipton, reaching home unannounced at 7.22 a.m., with 
no car to meet him and no meal ready in a warm room. 
Yet he was at the House next day as usual, and not in bed 
before midnight ; this within a week of his seventy-sixth 
year. If a little mishap of the kind had annoyed one of 
the Perioeci, he would presumably have said nothing about 
it. In the same spirit, Sir Swire was content to make the 
briefest possible note, " Home 7.22," treating this annoyance 
as part of the day's work ; and, though in Sparta little boys 
were starved to make good thieves of them, I think he was 
entitled to his meals. 

His birthday chanced to fall on a quiet Sunday. A 
little self-indulgence was not out of place, and, yielding to 
a commercial habit, he amused himself by taking stock of 
the organism which, after seventy-five years of output, 
was still a going concern. You are indebted to this diver- 
sion for a curious record, minutely instructive. Here 
it is. 

I have often wondered how people feel at certain periods 
of their lives, and if they find it easy to register a com- 
parison as to then: health and general condition going back 
from the present to past years. I have myself no definite 
remembrance of my condition, say, ten, fifteen or twenty 
years ago. I am disposed to think that at 55 I had not 
far passed my prime, and that at 60 I felt and showed but 
little sign of advancing years. 

If I (try to) speak of myself now, as I find myself, I may 



HOW HE FELT AT SEVENTY-FIVE 829 

unconsciously work back to days when the machine gave 
fewer indications of being the worse for wear. 

I once asked my old friend Sir Isaac Holden he was 
then about 85 which was the happiest time of his life, and 
without hesitation he said, " The present." Now, at 75 I 
can hardly say that. And yet I should find a difficulty in 
naming a time when, so far as the physical enjoyment of life 
was concerned health, freedom from pain, appetite, sleep 
or the absence of personal worry and care, or, above all, 
the regard of many friends, I felt to be having a better time 
than now. I certainly feel the loss of many friends who 
were old and dear, and I do not get new friends to take 
their place. 

As to personal appearance, I may be described as alert, 
erect, about 5 feet 6 inches in height, and weighing about n 
stones (5 Ib. short of 160 Ib.) with clothes and boots on. 
Rather a fresh complexion, with what is described as a good 
crop of hair, which used to be flaxen but now seems a little 
darker, with few grey hairs visible. My face is shaved except 
moustache, which is grizzled say half-grey. Eyes, bluish- 
grey. My sight for distance fairly good, though not nearly 
so good as ten years ago. In fair light I can follow a golf 
ball in its flight. For reading newspapers and writing 
I require spectacles. I have an impression that I have 
needed spectacles since I was 50, perhaps 45. 

My hearing has been defective for over twenty years. 
When at Rome in 1867, in hot weather (aged 25), I took a 
cold bath, and the water got into my ears, causing earache 
and deafness. Some weeks, or maybe months after, I had 
my ears examined by Dr. Bronner, who syringed them and 
removed what seemed a large amount of dark-coloured wax. 
For a time my hearing was very acute again, but the ears 
were sensitive to cold and I had deafness occasionally. 
During the last few years it has increased, and now it causes 
me anxiety. In church, or at a lecture, I have some diffi- 
culty in following the ordinary speaker ; and in the H. of 
C., unless I am fairly near or opposite the man who is talking, 
I miss much of what he says. At a theatre, unless in the 
front row, I lose many of the jokes (I seldom go to a theatre 
now), and in a railway carriage I have to be intent. I can 
only hear the ticking of my watch by pressing it close to 
my ear. 

I am not quite satisfied about my teeth. I have two 
artificial teeth in front (top), and there are four or five 



330 THE MASTER SPINNER 

double teeth absent ; and others, which I have much neg- 
lected, are decaying. 

I enjoy my food and have an excellent digestion. I 
rarely take any medicine, and my food agrees with me as 
well as at any period of my life. I seem to have a distaste 
for certain kinds of fish, of which perhaps the chief is 
mackerel. I used to be very fond of whitebait and fresh 
herring, but I don't willingly take them now. 

I sleep well, but have an impression that I am more 
liable to take cold than I used to be, and that a cold lingers 
longer with me. 

I am considered to be exceptionally active on my feet. 
I enjoy walking to the tramcars at Utley, nearly three miles, 
and I enjoy also the walk round the golf links. I get along 
quite well on the level or down hill, but have to walk slowly 
up hill. Two years ago I preferred to walk up the stairs 
at the mill, four floors, rather than ring and wait for the 
hoist. Yet, since I sold the mill a year ago, I have found 
myself pumped out with climbing the stairs quickly ; and 
so I conclude that within these last two years my heart 
has failed considerably, and I look forward to a gradual 
weakening. I think I may date back ten years to a feeling 
of shortened breath in tree felling ; some three months ago, 
when I felled a fairly large tree, say 12 to 15 in. diameter, 
I had to rest and take wind after every half-dozen good 
strokes with the Canadian axe. Except in a slow waltz, 
I cannot go more than once round a fairly large room, and 
I am puffed (the hospital at Christmas) with a set of lively 
lancers. I have never had my heart examined and there- 
fore cannot say how it is for my years, but I remember that 
Gladstone felled trees after he was 80. 

In the House of Commons there are few older men than 
I who attend. The bulk of members are many years younger. 
There is no man as old as I in the Government. Mr. Balfour 
is, I think, 68, Asquith 65. A short time ago the Daily Mail, 
in conspicuous headlines, said it was time that Balfour took 
his place among the Chelsea pensioners. 

" Seventy-five ! Isn't it terrible to think of ? " Thus 
he wrote half jokingly to Professor Watkinson. " But 
I can look back upon what almost seems a boyish career, 
so romantic has it been." 



CHAPTER XXII 

At home in London Maiden speech America and the League of Nations 
Controlling exports Travels in war-time Under fire on Vimy Ridge 
The dead German Success of a book The strenuous life and date 
pasty Efforts for the " Old Vic." A rest cure and Mercutio's hurt 
Last days. 

WITH respect to happiness at eighty-five or any 
other age, I suppose that no sane man could 
think himself happy while the hell of war 
burned. One grew callous to this more or less, but it still 
took up attention, like an illness or an imprisonment. As 
for my friend, his romantic turn was not inordinate and 
German ; therefore he did not enjoy the splendid ordeal. 
Romance that runs away with a man is lunacy. He was 
obstinately sane. For this reason, however, I am sure that 
if there had been no war, and one had asked him the 
question put to Sir Isaac Holden, he would have given the 
same answer without hesitation : no time of life happier 
than the present. 

He had a plain little room without comforts at the West- 
minster Palace Hotel, and drove himself hard, but was very 
much at home in London. As for the disturbance made 
in his actual home life, that was by this time negligible ; 
for Lance had been relegated to munitions and worked in 
Keighley, while Mary, resigning Red Cross work for civil 
service, had come to London too. Besides, he seemed to 
move in a domestic aura. Precisely this was his charm, 
his special geniality, which like a fireside welcome appeared 
the warmer for being unmannered. Precisely this made 
him at home in friends' houses, always open to him ; and 
there was more than one of these in which, sans fafon, he 

831 



332 THE MASTER SPINNER 

could rest when tired. Quite near to the House of Commons, 
that northern housewife with whom he had established so 
warm an understanding had a pleasant flat in Prince's Row, 
Victoria, and now watched over him in little important ways. 
He was wearing what he called a " magic- wove scarf " of 
her knitting. 

The honest bulletin in the last chapter shows him very 
well aware of failing powers. Just before the Session of 
1917 opened, he wrote to the young American lady who had 
come two hundred miles to meet him at Chicago saying, 
it seems, that a dead friend had bequeathed him to her 
and seems to have warned her soberly, if lightly. 

You appear [he said] to be having gay times with your 
many friends, and an old fellow like me would find himself 
out of it were he among you ; so, while my mouth waters 
for the sweets, I must contemplate peacefully, trying to 
catch a little reflection of the light of other years. 

I must be very forgetful. I did not remember that I 
had ventured to say I needed a little treatment with a trained 
nurse [the lady herself]. Sometimes I give rein to fancy 
and say how nice it would be to go through such-and-such 
experiences ; but all that kind of thing comes to nothing. 
I never take such indulgences. . . . 

I go back to the House of Commons to-morrow ; and 
I look forward to being a sharer in some of the most momen- 
tous legislation during the next few years that has been seen 
since Man was placed upon the planet. 

So, though he had come to the House too late, he pre- 
sently broke silence in a speech supporting Mr. Fisher's 
Education Bill. Very properly and usefully. Few maiden 
speeches show maturity of style or great special knowledge, 
but this showed both. The diary notes, " Well received,' 1 
and the fact is that he had been impressive without boring 
any one, a promising achievement. The Bill filled him with 
hope for the country. 

Then, at last, America joined the Allies, and he enter- 
tained a greater hope for the first time ; the purpose with 
which we fought seemed attainable. He had not badgered 



AMERICA IN THE WAR 333 

his American friends. In his view, the decision whether 
to embrace that purpose or not was entirely one for their 
people and Government, choosing freely. But his satisfac- 
tion is easily imagined, and so is theirs. He himself had to 
imagine Mr. Carnegie's, for the greatest of his friends was 
in poor health, unfit for correspondence. What he never 
did imagine was that he stood in Mr. Carnegie's will as one 
of the few public men to whom that modern Maecenas left 
personal legacies. He was to die too soon even to hear of 
it. He was also, more happily, to die too soon to see the 
American volte-face after victory. I find that he wrote to 
Miss Williams of Brookline : 

The die has been cast and we are comrades in our 
determination to overthrow the most brutal and wicked 
abuse of military power the world has seen. I think Wilson's 
speech was a noble proclamation that will take rank with 
the historic utterances of Washington and Lincoln. It will 
probably be the greatest instrument not only for a righteous 
peace, but for the formation of a league of nations that will 
for ever make the repetition of such a war as this impossible. 

And later : 

Let us hold on till the brighter days come ; and let us 
hope that the alliance between your country and mine, 
entered upon not for territory or gain by either, but to secure 
the freedom of weaker nations, may be welded still closer, 
never to be dissolved. 

In spite of the reserves, the " probably " and the " let 
us hope," I know that he looked forward as happily as any 
man, or as he himself had ever done since learning to .be 
cautious. I like to think of him at this time best. Free 
of private anxieties, which had been all surmounted and 
left behind ; sanguine as to the public ends for which he 
had served busily ; knowing himself loved and honoured, 
my friend not only began to see some harvest of his labours, 
as a strong man may, but was helping with fresh ardour 
and alacrity to reap it. He had but one grave misgiving, 



334 THE MASTER SPINNER 

and this not personal. He could not be sure no man could 
that the heroism of so many millions of men and women 
was not to be followed by disillusionment : what he most 
feared for them was sheer want. Anything to win the 
peace, but let the old gates of trade be left free to swing on 
the hinges after. 

Meantime he served as a gate-keeper, a member for wool 
of the War Trade Committee controlling exports. That 
committee was a sort of G.H.Q. for commerce. He was 
also one of thirty members of the House appointed to visit 
Italy for an Inter-Parliamentary Conference of the Allies. 

There was a spice of adventure in the j ourney . Submarines 
haunted the Channel. His friend Mr. Wintour insisted on 
lending him a life-saving vest. He did not take the con- 
ference to be important, except as " eyewash," and set 
down in advance his opinion of it : "To me there is much 
unreality about it all. I fear the several sections are con- 
cerned most with what they can get, not what they can give." 
But he was a privileged traveller in war-time, and after Paris 
and Rome might see the battle-front. What came of it 
was a fortnight's bustling holiday, little more and nothing 
less, full of pleasant civilities and planned entertainments, 
serving, perhaps, to soothe the doubts and jealousies of some 
croakers. 

It was May, and, down to Folkestone, the English orchards 
were in blossom. The peril of crossing heightened expecta- 
tion : "it was an amusing sight, a shipload of people all 
wearing cork belts," and in the harbour there was a small 
vessel sunk, the funnel and masts showing. Many nurses 
and other ladies were going out. Following two crowded 
troopships, they crossed with an escort of destroyers plea- 
santly,' on a smooth sea ; he chatted with some of the nurses. 
Then in France, next morning, he awoke to the same spring 
freshness on the way to Paris ; 

And, since to look at things in bloom 
Fifty springs are little room, 



PARIS AND ROME IN WAR-TIME 335 

he made the most of it. At Paris the delegates from other 
countries were assembled, and the planned entertainments 
began. 

First there was a night at the Opera "Faust" with an 
interwoven ballet, " and I confess," his note runs, " that it 
seemed to me the most beautiful ballet I have ever seen." 
They saw it from the boxes of the President of the Republic 
and two Ministers. Some of them went behind to mix with 
the girls ; indeed "it had been arranged that we were all 
to go, but those of us in the furthest box were missed. How- 
ever, it was said afterwards that distance lent enchantment. 
I was told that box-holders and seat-holders have this 
privilege ; they get introductions and arrange meetings, which 
must, from their point of view, facilitate other engagements." 
A gala day at Versailles followed. No war gloom to be 
seen ; and " all the way back to Paris the woods were full 
of holiday people, families picnicking." He wondered. 
There was much good feeling, too : " My luxurious room with 
bath at the Hotel Crillon, fifteen francs a day and nothing 
charged for breakfast given in compliment to the British 
M.P.'s." 

They were conveyed to Rome in seven great Pullman cars, 
each twenty-two yards long. This international train had 
two cars for England, two for France, and one each for Japan, 
Russia and Serbia ; but, as there were few Japanese or 
Serbians and only one gentleman from Russia, the punctilio 
of separate accommodation seemed excessive. The Allies 
were not members of a league of nations yet. Let that 
pass. Genoa, Spezzia, Pisa and the whole land of Italy 
gave him pleasures, and at Rome there was a culmination 
of hospitalities. 

For him, expecting no free-trade foundation for such a 
league to make it solid, these were of more interest than 
the conference. When they were over he wrote : 

What a ten days these have been ! From early morn 
to dewy eve engagements ; and the hours before and after 
conference have been full of delightful experiences. I 



836 THE MASTER SPINNER 

have shaken hands with the Queen and the Dowager Queen 
in each of their palaces ; the Ambassadors of America, 
France, Japan and Belgium have given receptions or garden 
parties in our honour ; we have also been received at private 
palaces ; some of us have had audience of the Pope. The 
Marchesa di Vita is an American lady, and at her reception 
I had a good talk with her ; and she invited me to lunch 
next day with her daughters and the Marchese. We had 
a very enjoyable time. I have renewed acquaintance with 
the treasured ruins and the Appian Way, and good old 
Father Tiber and the quaint streets of the city. We return 
to-morrow, and I am one of the privileged few permitted 
to visit our lines in France. 

In the fortnight's holiday that visit is naturally not 
counted. At Albert, Warlencourt, Arras, the Vimy Ridge, 
Lens, Peronne and St. Quentin there were no holiday sights. 
Nor has he left any description of it. His notes, however, 
are exactly such as he took in schools and factories, bent 
upon practical detail ; so that I see why he attempted none. 
He was concerned first of all with the tremendous task of 
our army, with obstinate facts, not with his emotions. That 
task, as we know, was indescribable. But, in the course 
of industrious note-taking, he came under fire, and it is 
plain that there was no affectation in the stoicism. 
At Vimy 

We climbed into a little wood on the hillside. No shells 
had been dropping on the ridge to-day, and two Canadian 
officers said that all would be quiet. We hid in the bushes. 
Saw many shells exploding in the trenches in front of Lens, 
a mile and a half away. Not there ten minutes when a 
shell burst within 100 yards of us, the officer said a chance 
shot. A minute later another struck the ground 50 yards 
behind us ; then he said, " I don't want to make you nervous, 
but I think you had better go back to Arras and have tea." 
We had been seen. I was behind looking for souvenirs, 
and came upon a uniform and belt nearly covered with dried 
mud. I said to myself, " I'll cut off some of these buttons 
and a buckle"; but my friends had gone on, and I didn't 
get at my knife quickly. There was a third explosion 40 
pr 50 yards away. I was told afterwards that the dirty 



OVERWORK 837 

uniform was on the body of a dead German who had been 
only half buried. 

Already this reads strangely. So does the note on a 
surgical hospital at Boulogne, where there were cases of 
hideous disfigurement : " Many patients carried out on 
stretchers to lie on the grass in sunshine. Wonderful ; 
man with chin shot away and jaw smashed, yet restored." 
But when he made these memoranda we had grown used to 
horrors. They could be endured, it seems, by men working 
incessantly against them, strung to iron sacrifice. 

You have seen how he worked and played when a young 
man ; at that time nothing tired him. It is no exaggeration 
that now he was working just as hard. Like that excursion 
into Italy and France, in which every waking hour had been 
in one way or another active, and the nights not all restful, 
the summer and autumn were a bustle of engagements. 
Besides the social and political duty done without stint, he 
had still directors' meetings, the Clothworkers' Court, the 
Carnegie Trust involving journeys, and that large private 
and public correspondence, larger now than ever, which he 
kept in hand without a secretary. All these things were 
fitted in. Yet there was work enough in Parliament and the 
War Trade Committee ; the latter taking many mornings 
and Parliament the afternoons and evenings, with occasional 
divisions at midnight. He rarely got to bed by that hour 
in town. No one saw him flurried or distressed, or anything 
but fresh and conversable ; but I like to think of his going 
one afternoon to the flat in Prince's Row, to lie down on a 
sofa and be covered with a shawl. He slept for three hours. 

Lord Morley had written : " The economic battle will 
demand your splendid sword." Lord Haldane, keen like 
himself about technical training, had lunched him for a 
long talk on that subject, and was spreading praise of him. 
" The Real German Rivalry," he said, " is a wise con- 
tribution to the current discussion, and as striking as it is 
wise." Sir Charles Mallet had bought 3,000 copies for the 
Free Trade Union. When a Mr. Maddocks unexpectedly 

22 



338 THE MASTER SPINNER 

offered to bear the expense of 10,000 copies more, and to 
distribute them, it became necessary to reprint, and for that 
purpose to bring the book up to date. He also fitted in 
that labour. 

To Mr. Brigg he wrote in September : 

I am supposed to be enjoying my Parliamentary holiday, 
and find myself with just the change from one kind of work 
to another. Your brother John once said that he felt as 
if he had eaten a pie made of pellets, that weighed him down 
wherever he went. I have always a weight to bear ; but 
it is mainly the weight of things before me that have to be 
done, which I am constantly putting off. Since giving up 
business I have retained my desk at Springfield Mill, and have 
made many attempts to clear away such books and papers 
as I thought I ought to keep. I have filled portmanteaux 
and boxes and bags with them, and had them brought 
here by cart (to the Manor). I have still well-nigh a cartload 
and have said I would deal with them. What's the good ? 
There is my business room below stocked with books and 
papers waiting to be arranged : that room has been known 
for years as the Chamber of Horrors. 

To his Prince's Row friend, in November : 

I have had a hard week. On the raid night I went to 
bed just as it was said the raiders were approaching, and 
when I was summoned to take cover declined to get up. 
I was twice called, but think I did wisely. 

I came north on Friday at 9.10 a.m., and travelled to 
Leicester in a non-smoking car with Madame Clara Butt 
and suite. They overflowed the compartment, and when 
I had finished breakfast I offered my seat, which C. B. said 
they would not take, they wouldn't disturb me. " But," 
I remarked (I had heard no name), " Madame Clara Butt 
is an old friend of mine although she doesn't know it. She 
has often given me pleasure, and I am glad to render her 
even the smallest service." She smiled and thanked me. 
At Leeds I attended a lunch given by Lord Airedale to Mr. 
Runciman and others, and had to speak. Then I went on 
to Bradford for a great meeting in St. George's Hall, to hear 
Fisher on his Education Bill. I had to move thanks to him 
and on to Steeton and a walk home in the rain, arriving 
after eleven. 



CRAB APPLES FOR SUPPER 339 

Yesterday was still busier, looking after pamphlets 
(the book) and doing a lot of work in the town till noon, 
then at five going to dine with Sir Arthur Yapp, who opened 
at Keighley his food-saving campaign. I got home in the 
rain (by tram and bus) approaching eleven again. Then I 
did a foolish thing. 

I was hungry, and ate very freely of date pasty, and drank 
two glasses of milk, and munched a large handful of Siberian 
crabs, of which I am fond. I paid the penalty in the night. 
To-day I am keeping near the fire, a bit shaky. But I have 
a telegram that I mustn't fail to be back at the House as 
early as possible to-morrow, there will be an important 
division. 

A benign friend had her misgivings. They were reason- 
able, but I cannot find it in my heart to wish that he had 
been checked, what he was doing gave him so much pleasure. 
Which of his activities should have been cut out ? The 
little ones ? " November 2ist Lunched H. of C. with 
John Hodge, Pensions, who promised 50 for deserter's 
widow ? " The little activities brought more satisfaction 
from day to day than the big national ones could ; and, as 
to these, it was war-time, when no man could spare his 
life. Even for that day when he was " keeping near the fire, 
a bit shaky," the diary has lively jottings. Cousin Will 
or Lance must have called. 

To Farmer : "Is t'maister in ? " " Nay, we buried her 
three week sin'." A man went in with a friend, late, 
and took a glass with him. Then he said, " How's the 
enemy ? " " Sh h ! " pointing up. " She's asleep." 

There was a week-end in December when he did not 
go home. On the Sunday he called on one friend for lunch 
and another for tea, and in getting about London in wet 
weather took a chill. That seemed nothing serious, although 
his colds were not thrown off easily. He saw the Session 
out. The next letter from Steeton runs : 

Many thanks for yours of Christmas night, just received. 
I have kept within since Saturday and my cold is gradually 



340 THE MASTER SPINNER 

leaving me. To-night we are to have six or eight wounded 
soldiers, and, I suppose, a turkey of proportionate size. 
I have been busy all the time, tidying (those old papers from 
the mill), letter-writing, browsing in Morley's Recollections 
and in Brassey's Sunbeam, a beautiful book which the dear 
old Earl has sent me. 

The president of the Textile Society at Manchester sends 
me a pamphlet in which he says that the Northrop loom is 
the one great invention of the century, "and that is American." 
No, it isn't. Northrop is a Keighley man ; and not long 
ago he wrote me from San Francisco that he still works with 
the drawing-board, T-square and box of compasses that I 
gave him when he was a night scholar at the Keighley 
Institute. 

A new piece of work, different in kind from any he had 
done and vastly congenial, claimed his interest when, after 
six days indoors, he returned to London on New Year's 
day. He had been deputed by the Carnegie Trust to get 
information about that Alma Mater of poor playgoers, the 
" Old Vic." After presenting Shakespeare and English 
opera for many years at prices as low as threepence, the 
Old Vic. had applied for help to spend some thousands on 
structural improvements and furnishing. " The Christmas 
Carol " was then billed. Sir Swire was going to see it ; and, 
meeting Mary beforehand, he found to his delight that she 
and a friend were also going. He dined them and took 
them with him. How very kind the gods were, thus to make 
him an almoner of the cheap theatre 1 They could have 
thought of nothing better. He took the excellent old 
frowsy place to his heart, resolving as soon as he knew it 
well to do his best for it. You must understand that there 
was a doubt whether his co-trustees could help the drama. 
He therefore laid himself out to report weightily, en reculant 
pour mieux sauter ; his free nights of remaining winter were 
mostly to be given to the Old Vic.'s productions, and all 
his friends must see them. They could not escape a dinner 
and a visit to the South Side. Says Mr. Mallalieu (who 
loved to cap quotations with him) : 



FAILURE OF FRIGHTFULNESS 341 

I well remember one evening when we went to see the 
" Midsummer Night's Dream." An air-raid came ; and 
as we walked home in the cloudless moonlight, the raid 
being at its height, he was full of the useful ends to which 
the funds of the Trust could be devoted. 

Observe the total failure of frightfulness. 

Whoever knew Sir Swire Smith well will certainly smile 
at this, remembering other times when nothing could divert 
him from the career of his humour. He was so cheerfully 
self-willed. The falling bombs appear to have been ignored 
like other men's enthusiasms. Alas ! There was a little 
mischief even then which disconcerted him, like a bootlace 
that comes untied ; whenever he found time to think again 
of his bulletin of health, it seemed, however trivial, to be 
the sort of thing one sees a doctor about. The old machine 
was getting faulty ; presently he had to give it some atten- 
tion, though preoccupied ; and, consulting his friend Pro- 
fessor Sims Woodhead, he learnt that the trouble was not 
so small as he had thought it. It seemed to involve a surgical 
operation. Woodhead said there was an enlargement of 
the prostate gland ; not an uncommon thing, but to that 
extent serious. 

Well, the operation had to be fitted in. Serious though 
the check was, my friend took it in his stride and said little 
about it. I suppose it resembled a hitch in business. Before 
anything could be done he had to cure that cold of his, as 
to which Woodhead said that nothing but rest would do ; 
so he did slacken pace a little. Being due for a lecture at 
Batley, he went home in the middle of the Session to write 
and deliver it. I discover incidentally that he had lived 
to nearly seventy-six without knowing the comfort of a hot- 
water bottle. 

His plans were such, and so far from being abandoned, 
that no one saw him taking this rest cure, or guessed that 
there was anything the matter with him. Those plans brought 
him up to town again from Batley after five days, to dine a 
party of seven friends in the House and a few nights later 



342 THE MASTER SPINNER 

to fill four boxes with his guests at the Old Vic. Chiefly he 
had arranged to show the place to his Carnegie colleagues, 
who found him so urgent about it that some of them came long 
distances to be talked over. With the advantage of his 
diary for reference, I still lose sight of the rest cure myself. 
The diary seems only to record the usual round of duties 
and hospitalities apart from that new mission. Outside 
the House there was a discussion on " Trade after the War." 
He might have resisted that, but had his say on an address 
by Lord Leverhulme ; and, when at home one Saturday, 
he looked in at the Institute to tell stories at the opening of 
a Girls' Club. One suspects, in fact, that, not having formed 
the habit of resting, he did not know how this cure is taken. 

When he had lost or gained a month, the business of 
fitting in the operation pressed, and he called upon an 
eminent surgeon recommended to him by Dr. Woodhead. 
This expert said, " Let me know when your cold is well," 
and then, no doubt, he made up his mind to be rid of it. His 
family, if no one else, heard of the coming operation. The 
truth is that, though he had been putting duty first, there 
was no cold strictly speaking, but just an obstinate and 
slight catarrh. 

Ah, well, small ailments both ; but they were like 
Mercutio's hurt again, enough ; these were to serve. Unlike 
Mercutio he did not know it, and that was well. Mary, much 
more apprehensive at the word " operation," could not be 
satisfied by his light tone of reassurance, and sought him 
again the same day for cross-examination and to know what 
she could do. But he was sincerely confident. She must 
not worry about him. Indeed, it appeared that Dr. Sims 
Woodhead had said nice things of his physique and general 
fitness. So he went home to rest in earnest, instructed by 
that friend to understand by rest long hours actually in bed 
every night, and furthermore to shun the chills of February. 
Only, there was one thing more to be done. On the 26th 
that business of the poor Old Vic. (which deserved to be 
made at least as good a place to sit in as the nearest cinema) 



THE "OLD VIC." HELPED 343 

would come on for formal consideration at Dunfermline, 
and he must be there : no use fussing. It meant less than 
a fortnight's delay and that was all about it. 

I gather that he ran no other risks and passed the time 
serenely. There was one old Keighley friend, Sir John 
Clough, who had come through a similar operation, and they 
talked it over. He found leisure for correspondence, always 
a happy occupation ; but Ben at Torquay and his devoted 
ally in Prince's Row seem to have been the only other persons, 
outside the family circle, whom he told of the principal risk 
he would be taking presently. It was now that he found the 
last treasure for his commonplace book, which looks like 
an envoy to the book of his life. 

Therefore, on every morrow, we are weaving 
A flowering band to bind us to the earth. 
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth 

Of noble natures, of the gloomy days, 

Of all the unhealthy and o'erdarkened ways 
Made for our searching ; yes, in spite of all, 
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall 

From our dark spirits . . 

As to his pleading in behalf of the cheap drama, it suc- 
ceeded, though he set down only : "I think something will 
come of it." This, if I knew him well, meant that no doubts 
troubled him, and even that he plumed himself a little. The 
Old Vic. had much reason to be grateful. 

There are one or two more of his letters, written during 
the five days that he now gave to systematic resting, none 
the worse, after all, for two days' travel. 

To his Niece. 

Wednesday, February zjth. 

MY DEAR MARY, I got home from Dunfermline late 
last night, and I have decided to remain at home till Monday 
or Tuesday. I have to attend a meeting in Bradford on 
Monday afternoon, and probably I shall leave by the G.N. 
at 5.5, arriving in London at ten. I am not quite sure about 



344 THE MASTER SPINNER 

this. If I can get to the National Liberal Club for Monday 
night, I shall be ready to go into the nursing home on Tuesday. 

I don't think you need be uneasy about me, for I don't 
think there will be any complications. I have had no 
pain. Dobie (his own doctor) said that ordinary night 
things would do pyjamas. Sir John Clough says I must 
spend as much time as possible in bed ; it will help my 
heart ; so I am breakfasting there and getting up about 
eleven. . . . 

I will communicate with you as soon as I get to the nurs- 
ing home. I thought of writing to Mr.' (the surgeon) 

to-morrow to ask about my going. My cold has nearly 
gone. Much love from 

Your affectionate Uncle, 

SWIRE. 

To a Young Friend. 

Friday, March 1st. 

How is it that you and I had so little foresight three 
years ago ? If you had kept that yarn till now, you would 
have sold it for double the price ! I hope you are getting 
yarn and making a nice margin on it. ... 

We shall soon be able to have tea on the Terrace. You 
must come then, and I will ask Mary to meet you. 

I think I told you that Peggy was dead. It makes such 
a difference. She welcomed me always. . . . 

To Prince's Row. 

Saturday, March 2nd. 

I thank you for all your good wishes, and I will attend 
to all your prescriptions. Don't worry about me. I am 
only like one of the millions of our countrymen who are 
taking greater risks than I and meeting their troubles with 
cheerfulness and courage. 

I have had an invitation from Mrs. John Craven, who 
has taken a charming house at Torquay for herself and 
daughter, and whose brother is to be with her at Easter. 
She tells me to choose my own time and come and stay with 
them when it is safe, they will give me rest and sunshine, 
and all the care I may need. But everything must remain 
in abeyance till we see how I may get through this dreaded 
operation. I fear I shall be much tried by being compelled 
to lie so quietly and for so long in one place. . . . 



LAST NIGHT AT THE PLAY 345 

I never had an idler time ; staying in bed till noon, with 
a big fire all night. My cold isn't quite gone. I think it 
should have been, for I haven't been out since Tuesday 
night. 

The weather is cold, and has been stormy. But the days 
lengthen and I feel that the springtide is coming. 

He felt very well, in fact. It is the effect of any rest 
cure ; all sorts of little hopes, impatiences and schemes 
beat up for action cheerfully. He was keeping a tight 
rein on them, but you will note that he had fixed the time 
beforehand too. That sorry laggard of a catarrh came in 
for censure. When the time came, it was as good as 
gone. 

He came up to town for the little treatment with a trained 
nurse on his birthday, and Mary found him next day in 
high spirits, very well indeed. He was not going into the 
home till Thursday. He had asked her to dine at the House 
of Commons, to meet the late editor of the Yorkshire Post, 
and a man who had come from Russia with the latest news, 
and his anxious friend of Prince's Row. The editor being 
a great talker, and he himself in the vein, that meal was 
extremely jolly. I am assured, and believe, that when it 
came to spicing wit and humour with potherbs there was 
such a garnish of Shakespeare that conversation turned upon 
the Old Vic., and nothing would do but to make up a party 
for " Cymbeline," then being given there. It is so rarely 
to be seen. Next evening, then, the party met again in a 
stage box, with two members of Parliament who had been 
added Sir George Toulmin and Mr. Theodore Taylor. 
Well, it was his last night at the play ; and, being near 
enough to hear perfectly, he drank in every word of that 
romantic masterpiece, a boy again. Wonderful ! And 
then they must all go behind and be introduced to the leading 
lady, Miss Sybil Thorndike ; after which they talked and 
wandered in dark purlieus per incuriam, and came out luckily 
on a tram route, and dispersed rather than parted. 

However the end comes, a man at last is not his own 



346 THE MASTER SPINNER 

master. I wish there were no more to write. . . . After 
all, he liked these lines addressed by a poet to Life : 

Choose thine own time. 

Say not good night, but in some brighter clime 
Bid me good morning. 

He was, however, so loved, that the friends who lost 
him, with no more warning than when a shining bubble 
bursts in air, must be told how for eight days more he was 
cared for, at first in good hope after a successful operation. 
He himself was not at any time to be daunted ; the physician 
who passed him for it had pleased him greatly, saying that 
he was like a man ten years younger ; so that he had in 
view a pleasant surprise for those of us who did not know 
his plight. Meanwhile there was Mary to sit with him 
sometimes ; he wanted her, and she could be trusted not to 
tire him. She saw him every day. Should anything go 
amiss, Mary was in touch with him by telephone at her 
lodging and at her office. But more than half the time went 
by and there was nothing amiss whatever ; he lay com- 
fortably waiting for the wound to heal, with gifts of flowers 
to brighten his room. Indeed it was Thursday of the follow- 
ing week before a slight cough gave proof of some congestion 
of the lungs. Then Sir Thomas Barlow saw him, calling as 
if for a friendly visit ; but then, alas, the case of a tired 
heart, if one had known, was hopeless. In the small hours 
of Saturday, March i6th, the tired heart failed. 

That day his friend Lady Purves Stewart came with 
more flowers, gay ones. " I thought," she said, "the colour 
would please him." . . . The flowers meant to gladden 
his eyes were laid on his breast. 



New ideals begin to herald a new age, in the light of 
which all public service of the past will seem more or less 
to have wanted inspiration ; but the men who gave service 
are to be judged with reference to their own time and en- 
vironment. Sir Swire Smith has been presented as a type 



TOWARD THE SUNLIGHT 347 

of English manufacturer in the age now closing. In spite, 
however, of his belief in mechanic skill and material progress, 
his individualism and average opinions, he was not an 
average figure. The sense of beauty in Sir Swire's outlook 
and life was neither typical of the class to which he belonged 
nor characteristic of his time, for that was an age in which 
the authority of beauty had been forgotten. Even for him, 
this was personal and flimsy, benign but far from paramount. 
But he did embody not only the characteristic spirit of gain, 
but the hopeful altruism of that age, and in all things upheld 
the new standard of truth which science was giving to 
the world. While England taught the use of machinery 
and everywhere promoted trade, he stood for the freest 
possible dissemination of benefits. In these respects he is 
typical with distinction. The altruism, truly, was a modern 
sense of the world's oneness as well as a disposition with 
which he was endowed ; but, that being remembered, it is 
fair to claim that the mediaeval trading leagues and cities 
produced no such man, the greatest of the Medici excepted. 

Whom the gods love die young. The truer sense of that 
saying is the sense in which it applies to Sir Swire Smith, 
whose youth was not exhausted. Because of this, and 
because his death was unforeseen and sudden, there was 
great dismay even in war-time when dear men's lives were 
cheap. He seemed to have been lost unawares, by a mis- 
hap. But the shock threw his life into such relief that, 
like a revelation of some new truth, one saw how whole- 
heartedly the world " likes the man who has courage and 
generosity, who sees only the good and keeps his face toward 
the sunlight." The wonderful funeral followed, with an 
outburst of praise that he had above all been such a man, 
and done the beneficent work of such a man. He needs no 
other praise than that, for there is none higher. That there 
is none higher we knew as soon as the war smoke darkened 
heaven from us and lived through hell by the knowledge 
four years. 

" Toward the sunlight." Out of primal chaos the Uni- 



348 THE MASTER SPINNER 

verse itself looks that way, still evolving things fair and 
exquisite such as he had loved. It is why this story of the 
Master Spinner was worth telling. He had been a staunch 
optimist against all odds, brightening life as if there should 
be no hereafter ; not content with good will and a tolerant 
mind however magnanimously, but practical and merry, 
a very solicitous gay friend of all men. 

To keep his memory green, a Fellowship has been already 
founded by the devotion of Sir John Clough and Mr. Spencer 
at Leeds University. He would have been very glad of 
this. In any way deemed fit, the University Court may 
help brilliant scholars with its income. 



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truth, and their mutual inspiration, religion stimulating the epic and the 
drama, and lyric poetry and music supporting worship. 



The Magic Flute 

BY G. LOWES DICKINSON 

Author of " A Modern Sympojium " 

Cr. Zve. 5/. net. 

A fantasia in prose and verse, based on the characters and motives of 
Mozart's opera, and describing the adventures of Taraino on his quest of 
Pamina and of the Castle of Sarastro. 



Twenty-four Portraits 

24 Drawings of Contemporary Men of Letters 

BY WILLIAM ROTHENSTEIN 
WITH BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES BY THOSE PORTRAYED zi/. net. 

The artist has during many years made drawings of his friends and 
contemporaries. A selection of these are now being reproduced by Mr. 
Emery Walker by the collotype process. 

Among them will be Max Beerbohm, Robert Bridges, Joseph Conrad, 
John Drinkwater, Sir Edward Elgar, Sir James Frazer, Andre Gide, 
Edmund Gosse, Lord Haldane, Thomas Hardy, A. E. Housman, 
W. H. Hudson, T. J. Cobden Sanderson, George Bernard Shaw, Sir 
J. J. Thomson, Emile Vandervelde, W. B. Yeats and H. G. Wells. 

The Agamemnon of 
-/Eschylus 

Cloth, 3 j. 6d. net ; Paper, ts. net. 
BY GILBERT MURRAY, D.C.L., LL.D. 

Uniform with Professor Munays Verse Translations of the Plays of 
Euripides, Sophocles, and Aristcpn<mes. 

Guide to Carlyle 

Demy Svo. 2 vols. BY AUGUSTUS RALLI 42*. net. 

A critical biography of Carlyle, with complete analyses of his works. 
The critical chapters absolve Carlyle from German sympathies by 
distinguishing between the spiritual world, of which alone he wrote with 
authority, and the material world to which his doctrines have been 
misapplied. The object of the analyses is to assist the student, and 
correct the oft-expressed complaint that Carlyle is unintelligible on 
first reading. 

LONDON: GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LIMITED 
RUSKIN HOUSE, 40 MUSEUM STREET, W.C. i 



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