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<${* tf toersi&e prees, CambriDoe 


Copyright, 1889, 

All rights reserved. 

The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A. 
Electrotyped and Printed by H. 0. Houghton & Company. 


" I THINK I can trace the growth of his opinions, from 
the little delicate boy who read his Bible and prayed the 
more resolutely because of the jeers and taunts of his com- 
panions at the first school he went to; the thoughtful 
youth, who, very early sent to Glasgow University, and 
while under the spell of Chalmers's eloquence, 4 got think- 
ing' over metaphysics ; the poet in nature and aspiration, 
chained to the dull routine of a lawyer's office ; the ma- 
ture mind, to which the incompatibility of the theory of 
punishment as held by theologians and by jurisprudence 
grew more and more intolerable ; through all and in all 
the same elements unflinching search, honest unbiassed 
striving toward truth, and unshaken devotion of the 
whole moral nature toward the Supreme Wisdom the 
Highest God ! Sometimes I think, Surely some kindred 
nature will one day take the threads I could supply him 
with, and weave them into a whole. Sometimes I resolve 
to write out, only for myself and the nieces, all I know ; 
or for myself only, the sweet eventless record of indeed, 
indeed, a great untroubled happiness." 

This passage, from a wife's letter soon after her hus- 
band's death, may be taken as the key to the present vol- 
ume, which attempts the portraiture of both husband and 
wife. He was a man of genius and rare fineness of na- 
ture ; the associate in early years of Mill, Sterling, Mau- 
rice, and Lewes. He was a constant contributor to 
" Blackwood's Magazine " from 1839 to 1871, and that 
journal said at his death : " No better type could be found 



of the true man of letters, the student, scholar, and critic 
of our days." But his reviews were anonymous, and he 
was withdrawn from society and an active career by a re- 
tiring disposition and the fascination of thinking purely 
for the sake of thought. His very name, William Smith, 
the commonest name in England, seems like a passport to 
oblivion. His personal history, quite devoid of external 
adventure, has yet for thoughtful minds an interest com- 
parable to that which attends the fortunes of a Stanley or 
a Livingstone. For he too was an explorer, and in realms 
whose secrets have an attraction for our generation be- 
yond those of the Dark Continent. And his researches 
were fruitful. " Thorndale," the book which won for him 
the greater part of such modest celebrity as attached to 
his name, gives an inadequate measure of the degree of 
solid conviction and clear light he attained. "Graven- 
hurst," his later and probably less known production, 
brings the world's latest thought to the study of the 
world's oldest problem, with results which contribute not 
a little of clearness to philosophy, energy to religion, and 
peace and strength to the heart. 

This volume includes extracts from his writings, dra- 
matic, critical, and philosophical, writings which various 
causes, external and internal, seem to have hindered from 
due recognition. A biographer may be considered too 
partial an advocate to set his estimate against that of the 
world, though, on the other hand, that final judge some- 
times nods, and when afterward roused may shape his 
opinion differently. Be that as it may, this author, by no 
means indifferent to the world's good opinion, was very 
far from depending on it for his happiness. One might 
well apply to him his own words, written of a man of like 
spirit with himself, Arthur Clough: "It was not till 
after he had left the scene that the world at large knew 
that there had been a poet amongst them. Then there 
was much clapping of hands. Could he who had passed 


in behind the veil have returned at our summons, to re- 
ceive our plaudits, we feel persuaded that for such a pur- 
pose he would not have re-lifted the fallen curtain." 

The idea which the wife intimates, of writing herself 
some story of her husband's life, was so far carried out 
that she did write a sketch of him for their friends only, 
which afterward she hesitatingly allowed to be published, 
as the prefix to a reprint of some of his philosophical 
works, a connection not favorable to any wide circulation. 
This exquisite memoir is the basis of the present volume. 
No other hand could approach hers in fitness for the 
task she undertook. But that task did not include any 
history of her husband's intellectual development, nor any 
statement of his final views ; it was the beauty of his per- 
sonal traits that at that time filled her heart and inspired 
her pen. A fuller exposition of the subject is here es- 
sayed ; and with it there is blended a portraiture of her 
who brought completion and happiness to his life. Her 
charming personality unconsciously portrayed itself in 
her letters and writings, with a vividness which makes her 
a living figure. 

"No woman yet," said "The Spectator" recently, 
" has ever really told us the history of her life as Rous- 
seau and Pepys have told theirs, that is, without any 
attempt at concealment." It adds the suggestion that a 
refinement, a delicacy, and sense of the sacred seclusion of 
the heart might restrain any woman's mind from the 
necessary introspection. Certainly any conscious self- 
display to the world would have been quite impossible to 
the womanly nature of Lucy Smith. But to her own 
friends one of her many and great charms was the trans- 
parency with which to those she trusted she expressed her 
real and inner life. It was an openness which sprang 
from a generous confidence, and from her constant dispo- 
sition to share her best possessions with others. Espe- 
cially in writing of her husband, the love which in her was 


almost a worship inspired a frankness of utterance in 
which her own traits reveal themselves. In self-forget- 
fully picturing him, she has delightfully pictured herself. 
Of literary ambition she had not a particle; when she 
made a translation or a sketch it was to "turn an honest 
penny ; " and when she dashed off verses, it was to ease 
her heart of its fulness of joy, of struggle, or of playful- 
ness. Rare charms of intellect, feeling, and character 
were combined in her. The ardor and depth of her na- 
ture were matched by its disciplined fidelity and winning 
grace. It is in her private letters that her genius shines 
brightest, if genius be the right word for such a union of 
insight, tenderness, sympathy, and vivid interest in every- 
thing about her. One can scarcely imagine a creature 
more brimming over with life, a life as pure as brilliant. 

Such self-revelation, of such a woman, we have here. 
And it is to be added that this life is displayed to us 
under all the great typical experiences of womanhood, 
except only that of mother. This story ends not at the 
marriage-altar ; it goes on through the every-day experi- 
ences of a most happy wedded life ; still on, through the 
midnight shadows of bereavement, and the sacred and 
sublime experiences of love stronger than death. 

One other element of interest is present. The wife, 
fully sharing the husband's thought, is like him led to 
relinquish much of the traditional creed, comes into full 
presence of all the new thought and the new doubt, and 
while the problem which engaged him was an intellectual 
one, on her it falls to find a place under the changed con- 
ditions for her heart in its supreme needs. 

Whatever value belongs to this story is largely due 
to the extraordinary openness and transparency of the 
woman who is really its author. It is not inconsider- 
ately, nor without sense of possible animadversion, that 
such full self-disclosure is set before the general public. 
But " Wisdom is justified of her children," and they who 


rightly reading shall understand this royal woman, and 
appropriate her as a personal possession, will need no ex- 
cuse for letting her show herself as she was. One who 
opens the pages at random may light on passages which 
come to him like secrets overheard without right. But 
whoever reads the whole, and understands her who is 
speaking, will scarcely wish to spare a word. 

The contributions of many of her friends and no one 
had more devoted friends have given material for this 
volume. Of the best part of the book, she is the author ; 
but it has been wrought into form by the hand of one, an 
American, of that number who without ever seeing her 
knew her and loved her. No word better sums up the 
double story than an inscription on the inner wall of Dur- 
ham Cathedral, centuries old, following the names of a 
husband and wife : 

" We once were two, 

We two made one, 
We no more two 

Though life be gone." 





















XVII. NEARER AND NEARER . . . . . .233 











XXVII. THINKER AND LOVER . . . . . .404 
















THESE men were philosophers, not from the desire of fame, 
not from the pleasure of intellectual discovery, not because they 
hoped that philosophy would suggest thoughts that would soothe 
some private grief of their own, but because it was to them an 
overpowering interest to have some key to the universe, because 
all even of their desires were suspected by them until they 
could find some central desire on which to link the rest ; and 
love and beauty and the animation of life were no pleasure to 
them except as testifying to that something beyond of which 
they were in search. Quarterly Review. 

" Led by the Spirit into the wilderness." 



(From the Memoir.) 

THAT must have been a happy home at North End, 
Hammersmith, into which, during the January of 1808, 
William Henry Smith was born, the youngest of a large 
family. His father, a man of strong natural intelligence, 
after having made a fortune sufficient for his wants, early 
retired from business, in consequence mainly of an 
asthmatic tendency, which had harassed him from the age 
of thirty. The impression I gained of him from his son's 
description was that of one peculiarly fond of quiet and 
of books, but whose will gave law to his household, and 
was uniformly seconded by the loving loyalty of his wife. 
The large family had a recognized head, a condition I 
have often heard my husband insist upon as essential to 
all healthy domestic life. Whatever the spirits of the 
children might prompt, it was an understood, a felt law, 
that " Papa's " tastes and habits must be respected. And 
these, being interpreted by so gentle a mother, were never 
viewed in the light of unreasonable restraints. This dear 
mother seems to have been a woman of a quite primitive 
type, full of silent piety, wrapped up in the home and the 
family. She was of partly German extraction ; her mother 
had been an eminently saintly character, and I have 
caught glimpses too of a grandfather devoted to the study 
of Jacob Boehme, whose folio volumes, and the tradition 
of the veneration in which they had been held, still ex- 
isted in the Hammersmith home. 

How often", by the divination of love and sorrow, I have 


tried to 'conjure ,up-'that koine before my mind ! My bus- 
band once took me to its site, but the good old house had 
been cut up into shops, and the large garden was all gone, 
the large garden, that had seemed so large to the happy 
child playing there by the hour " under the scarlet and 
purple blossoms of the fuchsias," under the benignant eye, 
too, of a well-remembered old servant, gardener, and 
groom, who kept the plants and the sleek discreet horse 
" Papa " drove in his gig in equal order. It was an 
every-day delight to play in that garden, a high privilege 
to ride in that gig. I think I can see the father, very 
tall, a little worn by asthma, with black eyes of peculiar 
piercing power, and a certain stateliness and natural 
dignity which were wont to receive from officials at public 
places a degree of deference, noticed with some amuse- 
ment by the little observant companion and sight-seer. 
What he must have been at an early age a miniature then 
taken shows. It represents a fair, yellow-haired child of 
about three, with great black eyes full of the new joy and 
wonder of life, and a smile of singular sweetness, of al- 
most benignity. No wonder that, as his eldest surviving 
sister affectionately recalls, " he was the pet of both 
parents," though his exceeding mobility did sometimes a 
little agitate the valetudinarian father, who would lay 
down a half-crown on the table and say, " William, you 
shall have it, if you will only sit still for ten minutes ! " 
A child with such an expression as the picture shows 
would surely have complied had it been any way pos- , 
sible ; but he did not remember that the half-crown was / 
ever won. One day, when he was very small, a canary 
bird belonging to a sister died, and was buried beneath a 
flower-bush in the garden ; and on that occasion, when 
the bright and restless creature lying suddenly motionless 
on the palm of some young hand had given the happy 
child his first experience of wondering sadness, he wrote 
his first verses. 


. . . l The cheerful drawing-room in the Hammersmith 
home had a window at both ends. Round the one that 
looked into the garden clustered the white blossoms or 
hung the luscious fruit of a surpassing pear-tree a 
swan-egg the like of which was never met in later 
years. From the other window the children could watch 
the following spectacle, which my husband evidently en- 
joyed recalling in a notice of Mr. Knight's " Reminis- 
cences," published in 1864: 

"... We are transported in imagination to a bay- 
window that commanded the great western road the 
Bath Road, as people at that time often called it. Every 
evening came, in rapid succession, the earth tingling with 
the musical tread of their horses, seven mail-coaches out 
of London. The dark-red coach, the scarlet guard stand- 
ing up in his solitary little dickey behind, the tramp of 
the horses, the ring of the horns can one ever forget 
them? For some miles out of London the guard was 
kept on his feet, blowing on his horn, to warn all slower 
vehicles to make way for his Majesty's mails. There was 
a turnpike within sight of us; how the horses dashed 
through it ! with not the least abatement of speed. If 
some intolerable blunderer stopped the way, and that 
royal coachman had to draw up his team, making the 
splinter-bars rattle together, we looked upon it as almost 
an act of high treason. If the owner of that blockading 
cart had been immediately led off to execution, we boys 
should have thought he had but his deserts. Our myste- 
rious seven were still more exciting to the imagination 
when, in the dark winter nights, only the two vivid lamps 
could be seen borne along by the trampling coursers. No 
darkness checked the speed of the mail ; a London fog, 
indeed, could not be so easily vanquished ; but even the 
London fog which brought all ordinary vehicles to a stand- 

1 The Memoir is sometimes slightly abbreviated in this reproduc- 


still could not altogether subdue our royal mails. The 
procession came flaring with torches, men shouting before 
it, and a man with a huge link at the head of each horse. 
It was a thrilling and a somewhat fearful scene." 

The first sorrow that left a trace on my husband's re- 
membrance was the going to school, at the age, I think, of 
eight or nine. He did not go far, indeed, but to the sen- 
sitive and much-petted child the change from the atmos- 
phere of love and joy that filled his home was simply 
appalling. ' He was sent to a clergyman of the name of 
Elwal, and found himself surrounded by a good many 
older boys, who appeared to him, and probably were, 
boisterous and brutal. At all events the little fellow, to 
whom the Bible his mother so loved was the most sacred 
of all things, could not read it, could not kneel night and 
morning beside his little bed, without jeers and taunts and 
rough dissuasives. He only read and prayed the more 
resolutely. The unflinching spirit that throughout life 
followed after truth at any cost, was even then awake in 
the lonely and sorrowful child. Then, too, the compara- 
tively coarse fare, the inevitable fat, for which he had a 
constitutional loathing, somewhat impaired his health. 
Yet he probably kept back with the strange reticence 
that belongs to childhood the full amount of his unhap- 
piness, or he would never have been left at this school ; 
and no doubt, too, school-life to one so quick to learn, so 
active in play, must also have had a pleasant side. . . . 

The next school to which he went was in every way a 
contrast. Mr. Elwal taught well, but disregarded as 
was indeed almost universal at that time the material 
comforts of his pupils. At Radley, near Abingdon, the 
latter were well attended to, but the standard of learning 
was not high. But the two years or so spent there were 
always cheerfully adverted to. It might jar the High 
Church susceptibilities of the present inmates of Radley 
Hall to know that early in the century it was a Dissent- 


ing school the head-master a Dissenter, who seemed to 
have little vocation for his office beyond failure in some 
former business. However, he had a fair staff of mas- 
ters, and an amiable, popular wife, who liked William 
Smith to drive with her in her little pony-carriage, which 
he appeared to have liked too. In fact, at Radley, so 
far as I could discern, he did nothing but what he liked. 
A religious profession was supposed to be in the ascendant 
there, would have insured approval ; one is not therefore 
surprised to find that the feeling of devotion, which oppo- [ 
sition had only stimulated, now retired out of sight. He 
very soon learned all that the masters could teach him, was 
at the head of the school (a distinction which he carefully 
impressed upon me implied but mediocre scholarship), 
and had his time almost entirely at his own disposal. I 
have become indebted to the Rev. H. H. Dobney for 
a further glimpse of these school-days. Mr. Dobney was 
at Radley at the same time, a younger boy, in a different 
class ; the personal contact of the two was therefore 
slight, and they quite lost sight of each other. Yet Mr. 
Dobney writes me word that he never took up " Graven- 
hurst," " ever one of my favorite books," or " Thorndale," 
" without thinking of the William Smith whom he knew 
as a boy, and wondering whether their author could pos- 
sibly be he." He vividly remembers him, " a lightly- 
made boy, not joining much in boisterous amusements " 
nor " mixed up in scrapes ; " but even then, one u to whom 
it was natural to speak with something of an almost def- 
erential manner," one " who seemed the student rather 
than the school-boy." Radley was then a noble but still 
unfinished house, standing in beautiful grounds. There 
was one room especially fine in its proportions, with rows 
of stately pillars, and looking into the park, a room orig- 
inally destined for a library, but almost unfurnished, and 
with a scanty choice of books; and this room was the 
boy's favorite and undisturbed resort. And among the 


few volumes it contained he found Byron ! And pacing 
up and down that pillared room, book in hand, the potent 
spell wrought in the young poetic heart. No sketch of 
his youth could be faithful that omitted this Byronic 
phase. He has often described its sufferings to me, but I 
prefer to give them in words of his own, written in 1864. 
Throughout the long series of his articles on various sub- 
jects I can trace occasional allusions to this morbid influ- 
ence : 

" The youth of the last age were battling blindly and 
passionately against fate, were full of gloomy mysteries, 
great devotees to beauty, which after all was but to them 
the rainbow in a storm which they thought might abate, 
but which never ceased, rainbow always upon clouds 
which broke up only to reunite in darker masses, rain- 
bow of beauty, not of hope, incongruous apparition in a 
troubled and chaotic world. 

" Our Byronic fever had more than one phase ; some- 
times it exhibited itself in a mere moody fantastical mis- 
anthropy, combined with a reckless pursuit of very vulgar 
pleasure ; but in a less numerous and more meditative 
order of minds it displayed itself in a morbid passionate 
discontent with themselves as with all others. These 
were not pleasure-seekers, they had a great scorn for 
human life." ... It is needless to point out to which of 
these two classes the writer could ever have belonged. 

But although the first reading of Byron's poetry dated 
as far back as the two years spent at Radley school, it 
was later that the Byronic spirit was fully developed. 
Certainly the germ must have lain dormant during the 
brief and happy period that the boy passed at Glasgow 
College (1821-22). He was young to go there only 
fourteen ; but a brother, eight years older than himself, 
his favorite brother Theyre, a keen logician even then, re- 
markable throughout life for worth and charm as well as 


intellect, and still remembered as the eloquent preacher 


at the Temple Church from 1832 to 1846 was at that time 
a student at Glasgow, and it seemed desirable that Wil- 
liam, who had evidently absorbed what of learning Radley 
could afford, should share higher advantages under his 
brother's care. 

He always remembered this session at Glasgow with 
peculiar interest, and more than once described to me the 
passage from London to Leith, made in foggy weather (in 
a sailing vessel of course), the impressions received on 
landing, the introduction to Scotch collops, and the am- 
brosial sweetness of the first glass of Edinburgh ale. A 
clever student (now a dignitary of the English Church) 
shared the lodgings of the two brothers ; John Sterling 
was one of their intimate associates, and much eager con- 
versing and debating went on, to which I cannot doubt 
that the boy contributed many an apposite illustration 
and subtle argument. His elder brother in one of his 
home letters writes : " The opinion which I have formed 
of William's abilities is confirmed and increases. . . . He 
evinces at certain periods a very superior capacity. I may 
be mistaken, and I should be sorry to strengthen an un- 
founded expectation ; but if I can converse with him on 
almost any subject without a difficulty from his want of 
apprehension, lose sometimes the idea of a disparity ex- 
isting between us, and forget that I am talking to a boy, 
surely I may be permitted to infer that his understanding 
is above the level of ordinary minds." 

It was now that for the first time William Smith fell 
in with Scotch metaphysics, that, to use his own words 
in talking over the subject with me, " he got thinking" 
As a consequence, the old theological foundations became 
gradually disturbed, at first perhaps insensibly, for his 
supreme enjoyment was still found in hearing Dr. Chal- 
mers preach. That fervent eloquence always remained 
one of his most vivid memories. At the time I write of, 
the three friends and fellow-students were all Dissenters, 


but iny husband was the only one of them who throughout 
life not only firmly adhered in theory to the Voluntary 
system, 1 but as a matter of taste preferred the simple 
Presbyterian service. The large family in the Hammer- 
smith home was indeed in the habit of attending the par- 
ish church once a day, the father had the old-fashioned 
Church-and-King reverence, but it was in the Independ- 
ent chapel that the younger members had their strongest 
emotions roused. It is easy to trace the influence of early 
associations in the passage I am about to extract from a 
notice of Sheridan Knowles, written by my husband in the 
summer of 1863 : 

If a French actor or Italian opera-singer retires from the 
stage to a convent of La Trappe, there to dig his own grave in 
silence and seclusion, we hasten to throw round the incident a 
halo of poetry. If we do not altogether admire and applaud, 
we stand aside in submissive, respectful attitude ; we look in 
mute amazement at this man who is so palpably forsaking earth 
for heaven. No poetry hovers over the Dissenting meeting- 
house. Neither the pew nor the pulpit of the Baptist chapel 
presents anything attractive to the imagination. Good Protest- 
ants as we are, we sympathize more readily with the Trappist 
than with the less ardent but surely more rational devotion that 
takes shelter in the walls of the little Bethel. Yet this should 
not be. In reality that little Bethel may be the scene of a pious 
enthusiasm as remarkable as any that demonstrates itself, under 
more poetic circumstances, in the convent of La Trappe. We 
have but to throw ourselves into the heart of the true worship- 

1 Nevertheless I give a little anecdote which I owe to my hus- 
band's gifted brother-in-law, Mr. Weigall, to prove that long before 
the Glasgow days, indeed at a very early age, William Smith could 
look upon both sides of a question. "His brother Theyre," writes 
Mr. Weigall, " always predicted to me his future distinction. I re- 
member his mentioning as an evidence of his quickness that when he 
(Theyre) was driving him in a little pony-carriage of rather fragile- 
looking construction, kept chiefly for the use of his sisters, William 
said to him, * I don't like riding in this thing. I never feel secure. I 
always feel as if I were being supported by voluntary contributions.' " 


per, and the most unsightly edifice of brick and mortar that 
ever glared on us from the dusty street of a provincial town will 
become invested with a poetry of the highest order. See the 
well-regulated methodical tradesman enter such a building. 
Leaving the cares and gains of the week behind him, he walks 
at the head of his family up the narrow passage, which we will 
not call the aisle ; he needs no verger to usher him into his 
seat ; his hand reaches over to the familiar button that fastens 
the door of his pew ; he opens the door, lets in wife and chil- 
dren, then establishes himself in his accustomed corner. He 
deals out from some secret depository, perhaps from a drawer 
under the seat, the Bibles and the hymn-books, calf-bound, and 
the oldest of them not a little soiled and dog-eared. These he 
distributes, and then prepares for the morning devotion. One 
great sentiment he more or less distinctly recognises, the senti- 
ment which, differently modified, constitutes the essence of 
religion in all churches and in all hearts, that he and his family 
are then and there doing homage to the Lord of allj are pledg- 
ing themselves to obedience to whatever is just, and wise, and 
good, because His ways are perfect, and He requires of us, His 
rational creatures, what poor attempts at perfection we can 
make. After some interval of silence, a man in spotless black 
coat and white neckcloth rises from the deal pulpit opposite ; a 
square deal box, with a reading desk on it, which desk has no 
other ornament or furniture than the one large book, on which 
the minister reverently lays his hand. That one book sanctifies 
the whole place. Take that away, and all is dirt and dinginess. 
But our man in the corner of his pew could tell you that from 
that central spot there has emanated, he knows not how, a subtle 
influence that has pervaded the whole building, so that its very 
plastered walls are sacred to him. There is a knot in the un- 
painted wood-work of his pew on which his eye has often rested 
as he followed the worthy preacher. Were our man to travel, 
and to be absent in foreign kingdoms, that knot in a piece of 
soiled deal would rise before his imagination, and suggest 
holy memories to him. His hand would be again on the button 
of that pew, and he would prepare himself for solemn medita< 
tions. Oh, believe us, the poetry comes from within. 


To return to the youthful Glasgow student. Perhaps 
nothing can convey so accurate an idea of what he was at 
this early age as a letter written in most delicate and 
legible characters to one of his elder sisters. In it we 
already see something of that blending of thought and 
feeling, of self-control and reflectiveness with spontaneity, 
which distinguished the man. It shows, too, how happy 
and loving was the home-circle he was nurtured in a 
circle, I have heard him say, of which no member per- 
mitted him or herself an uncourteous tone or the disre- 
spect of personal comment towards any other. There was 
a latent fire in the dark eyes of all, and a tacit conviction 
prevailed that such a liberty would be resented. I copy 
the letter verbatim. It was written in the summer of 
1822 : 

MY DEAR ESTHER, I surely need not tell you with how 
much pleasure Selina's letter was received. Need I say, I shall 
be glad to see you all. With how much pleasure I look forward 
to the happy time, how many fond anticipations, and how many 
expectations I indulge ! You have lately felt all these, and 
know them well ; but you cannot tell the change my mind has 
undergone. Before the arrival of that joy-bearing letter, I had 
been " making up " my mind to spend my summer at Glasgow, 
and perhaps part of that summer alone. I say " making up," 
for it was a kind of process, and one rather tedious and diffi- 
cult. For, as I told my dear mamma, the thought would often 
come with great force, " How I should like to see them all ! " 
Now this would greatly retard the process, and therefore I set 
strict watch over my thoughts ; and when they rambled to 
North End, I checked them, after a very short indulgence, for 
fear they should end in a desire to visit that happy corner. It 
has set all in a flame. Those smothered feelings burst forth, 
hope and expectation shine with double lustre, all is light and 
gladness. And shall I see you all so soon ? Yes, I shall, I 
shall ! 

This is the first time I have stopped to take breath since I 
began this letter, for, whenever the subject of home copies apross 


my mind, it imparts such an impulse that there is no resisting 
it. Perhaps it has carried me on with precipitation in this case. 
Sometimes it crosses my path while I am taking a walk, and 
then it is sure to make me take extraordinary long steps, or 
make fantastic leaps. In short, wherever it comes it gives an 
irresistible stimulus, which no gravity can withstand and no will 
restrain. But gently ! gently, my pen ! 

There is one little circumstance I cannot help mentioning. 
When Theyre had perused the letter, and knew how the con- 
tents would please me, he put on a grave look, and, with a 
solemn manner, read to me that part which contained the news. 
The contrast was very great, for, while he was standing in this 
solemn manner, I was laughing and wriggling about the chair, 
as though bewitched. Well then, you may expect us the first 
week in August, at the latest ; and glad shall I be when that 
week comes, for I do so want to see you all. 

No doubt it will give you pleasure to hear that Theyre has 
carried off the first prize in the Logic class. There are in 
every class a certain number of prizes given, and they are dis- 
tributed according to the votes of the students. Theyre ob- 
tained his unanimously. He also was successful in a prize 
essay. I must also tell you that the Greek professor gave me 
one for two or three poetical translations I wrote. There is no 
little ceremony in distributing them, but I will not trouble you 
with that. 

How many circumstances are there which are constantly 
directing our thoughts to that place where our affections are 
placed ! The most trifling thing will sometimes carry us away 
many miles, and detain us there for a long time. The other 
day, as I was demonstrating a proposition (for I am attending 
a little to mathematics), I happened to put the lid of the case 
of instruments upon my compass, and, twirling it round, it made 
a noise like a rattle. This rattling immediately reminded me 
of May-fair ; it was but a step to North End, and, when once 
you have set your foot there, you know how many difficulties to 
take it away again. " Well, some time after I found myself look- 
ing intently on the proposition, and holding the compass and the 
case on it in my hand, but quite ignorant of what I was doing. 
I seemed to have been roused from a vision. 



Then follow messages of love to the different members 
of the family, and a little significant postcript : " You 
promise you won't keep me ! " which proves how much the 
college life was appreciated. 1 But though he did return 
at the commencement of the next session, a sharp attack 
of inflammation of the lungs soon led to his being sent 
away home, and in the January of 1823 his father died, at 
the age of sixty-three. 

And now came many changes, all of them fraught with 
pain. There was the loss of the indulgent father, the 
spectacle of the mother's meek, deep-seated grief, the 
break-up of the cheerful home, and in addition there was 
the closing of the college career, for the climate of Glas- 
gow was pronounced too severe to be safely returned to ; 
and the youth in whose secret soul the problems of the 
metaphysician and the visions of the poet were already 

1 My husband throughout life entertained a very decided prefer- 
ence for the Scotch system of mental training. I may illustrate this 
by some observations of his in an article, written in 1855, on the Life 
of Lord Metcalfe. That distinguished man, as a young Oxonian, 
professed to " abhor metaphysics," and in his journal prayed to be 
delivered from " the abominable spirit " of reliance on reason as a 
guide ; " blessed reason," as he in irony termed it. 

" One cannot help remarking that a Scotch youth of the same age 
might be equally pious, equally steadfast in his faith, and perhaps 
more conversant with the several articles of his creed, but he never 
would have expressed the tenacity of his convictions in this manner, 
never would have spoken of * blessed reason ' ironically. ... His 
first and last boast would have been that his faith was the perfection 
of reason. A Scotch lad, who had only breathed the air of Glasgow 
or of Edinburgh, would have never shrunk from intellectual contest, 
or professed that the creed he held and cherished was not in perfect 
harmony with the truly blessed reason. He would as soon have 
thought of proclaiming himself a lunatic in the public streets, and 
avowing a preference for a slight shade of insanity. Such distinc- 
tion we cannot help noticing between the systems of education in 
England and Scotland ; but we have no intention of pursuing the 
subject, or drawing any laboured comparison between their respective 


seething, found himself destined to an uncongenial call- 
ing, that of the law. " He was articled," I quote from a 
letter of Mr. WeigalFs, " to Mr. Sharon Turner, the An- 
glo-Saxon historian, who was by profession an attorney ; 
but the office routine was so distasteful to him that he 
soon solicited Mr. Turner to cancel his articles. Mr. 
Turner told him he did not feel justified in doing so, as 
he did not consider William, at that time the best judge 
of what was expedient for him. William dragged through 
the weary hours he was required by his agreement to spend 
in Mr. Turner's office, and has often told me they were 
the most tedious and profitless in his existence." When 
it is remembered, too, that at this early age necessity was 
laid upon the earnest seeker after truth to loose from the 
old moorings and put forth, he alone, he so loving, so 
sensitive, so considerate of the feelings of others alone 
on what then seemed " a dim and perilous way," one to- 
wards which, at all events, no member of his home ever so 
much as glanced, it need excite no surprise that he viewed 
this period of his youth as profoundly unhappy. He 
would occasionally revert to it, but I never encouraged 
any reminiscence that cast a shadow over his spirits. I 
feel, however, that the following passage from one of his 
early works sprang from personal experience : 

It generally happens that the external influences of daily 
scene and customary actions oppose their timely resistance to 
the desponding humour of our early days. But in my case the 
outward scene of life was such as to foster and encourage it. The 
encroaching disposition became sole possessor of my mind. The 
ivy grew everywhere. It spread unhindered on my path, it 
stole unchecked upon my dwelling, it obscured the light of day, 
and embowered the secluded tenant in a fixed and stationary 
gloom. ... In this moody condition of my soul, every trifling 
disgust, every casual vexation, though disregarded of them- 
selves, could summon up a dismal train of violent and afflicting 
meditations. The first disturbance, the first ripple on the sur 


face, soon indeed subsided ; but, to take an illustration from 
some fairy tale I have read, the pebble was thrown upon en- 
chanted waters, and it roused the gloomy and tempestuous gen- 
ius that lay scarce slumbering beneath them. 

Yet nothing could be more true than that " his misan- 
thropy injured no one but its owner." Such was the sweet- 
ness of his nature, and his equitable recognition of the 
claims of others, that I doubt if his devoted mother, or any 
one of the home-circle " to whose hilarity he conspicuously 
contributed," ever suspected that beneath such a sunlit 
smiling surface any gloomy genius whatsoever dwelt and 
stirred. A lady, however, who in her character of ac- 
quaintance may have observed more accurately than rela- 
tives, who often stand too near to see, describes him at this 
period as " most gentle and gracious, but seemingly quite 
apart from the rest in his dreamy, gentle way." She 
adds : " Looking at his face, one could only think of the 
wonderful depth and intellect of his eyes, this was some- 
thing marvellous.'* 

And now comes a period of which I can give scarce any 
account, for to my husband, whose life had long been one of 
abstract thinking, impersonal, one might almost say, 
any attempt to recall dates was distinctly painful ; and I, 
while gladly garnering any crumbs that fell for me from 
his past, was aware that he could not, even had he tried, 
reconstruct it consecutively. But I know that he lived 
with a most tender mother, a mother in whjose eyes 
whatever William did was right ; to whom his very leav- 
ing off attending church and chapel, though it might have 
disturbed her in the case of others, could not seem wrong. 
I know that his first visit to Switzerland, first sight of the 
Lake of Lucerne and the glories of the mountains, was 
paid during an early period of youth, while there was 
on him that misanthropic Byronic mood, in which, to use 
his own words, " a love and an enthusiasm for nature was 
a compensation for want of cordial sympathy with mnn, 


not a related feeling strengthened by and strengthening 
that sympathy." 

Exactly when that mood passed away forever I cannot 
determine, but in his earliest productions it is already 
looked back upon as from a distance. I will finally dis- 
miss it in two passages of his own : 

" He who has read, and felt, and risen above the poetry 
of Byron, will be for life a wiser man for having once 
been thoroughly acquainted with the morbid sentiments 
which there meet with so full and powerful an expression. 
And so variously are we constituted that there are some 
who find themselves best roused to vigorous and sound 
thinking by an author with whom they have to contend. 
There are who can better quiet their perturbed minds by 
watching the extravagances of a stronger maniac than 
themselves, than by listening to placid strains, however 
eloquent. Some there are who seem destined to find 
their entrance into philosophy, and into its calmest re- 
cesses, through the avenue of moody and discontented re- 
flection." And: "It is a sort of moral conversion when 
a youthful mind turns from a too exclusive admiration of 
Byron's genius to the pages of Wordsworth." This con- 
version in my husband's case took place early. 

I have heard him say that during his youth he was 
a quite rapacious reader of English and French literature. 
All the dramatists, all the essayists, all the historians of 
both countries, in addition to their philosophical writers, 
nothing came amiss to him ; and if the day seemed long 
in the lawyer's office, the nights flew in eager study. It 
was his custom to sit up till three or four. The dear 
mother must have had many an anxious thought as to the 
effects of such a practice on so sensitive and fragile a 
frame, but she never seems to have interfered, even by 
tender remonstrance, with her son's perfect liberty. I ex- 
tract a passage of his (written in 1847) which is evi- 
dently the expression of a personal experience. 


The student's lamp was burning ; how calm, how still is the 
secluded chamber ! . . . Reflection has her emotions, thrilling 
as those of passion. He who has not closed his door upon the 
world, and sat down with books and his own thoughts in a soli- 
tude like this, may have lived, we care not in how gay a world, 
or how passionate an existence, he has yet an excitement to 
experience which, if not so violent, is far more prolonged, 
deeper, and more sustained than any he has known, than any 
which the most brilliant scenes or the most clamorous triumphs 
of life can furnish. What is all the sparkling exhilaration of 
society, the wittiest and the fairest, what all the throbbings and 
perturbations of love itself, compared with the intense feeling 
of the youthful thinker who has man, and God, and eternity 
for his fresh contemplations, who for the first time perceives in 
his solitude all the grand enigmas of human existence lying 
unsolved about him ? His brow is not corrugated, his eye is not 
inflamed ; he sits calm and serene ; a child would look into his 
face and be drawn near to him ; but it seems to him that on 
his beating heart the very hand of God is lying. 



THE boy's letter to his sister brings him before us in his 
fifteenth year, the year which proved to be the last of 
his boyhood. He comes before us again in the first of his 
published writings, six years later. The intervening pe- 
riod gave the decisive stamp to his life. We see in him 
at the beginning a refined and sensitive nature, its affec- 
tions developed and satisfied in the warm atmosphere of 
home, and its intellect already stimulated by Scotch the- 
ology and metaphysics. It was a nature that early 
showed its essential bias, an attraction toward truth, 
beauty, and love. Then came the rough transplanting 
into an attorney's office. The study and the work were 
dull and uncongenial ; the knowledge acquired was dry and 
unnutritious ; for the present, there was no recompense 
in the sense of service rendered to others, or even the sat- 
isfaction of earning a daily wage ; and as preparation for 
the future, the way led to a profession which was hope- 
lessly unsuited to the man. The result of an outward sit- 
uation so repellant was to throw the young man back upon 
that purely interior life, of fancy, feeling, and specu- 
lation, to which by innate constitution he was prone 
enough without external incitement. Among the men of 
his time, Arthur Clough is the one with whom it is most 
natural to compare him. The two were alike in their 
thirst for truth and their purity of life, and they swam in 
the same sea of thought. But Clough was happy in the 
circumstance that his early years were passed at Rugby 
and at Oxford ; where along with his Latin and Greek he 


got the hardy training of the foot-ball ground and the 
river, the grand influence of Dr. Arnold, and that com- 
panionship with fresh youthful spirits which he so charm- 
ingly portrays in the " Bothie." For him, the unsparing 
quest for absolute truth was postponed until his sinews 
had been knit and he had been fortified by generous com- 
radeships against the loneliness which besets the thinker. 

But no such kindly apprenticeship fell to the boy of our 
story. Glasgow College and Dr. Chalmers had already 
set him to thinking. Such thought led into fields infi- 
nitely attractive to a mind like his. Now there were no 
counter attractions, and the entire energies of his nature 
were swept along into a world of such fascination, its 
splendors so enthralling, its terrors so enchaining, that 
under its spell the whole external world, its law-books, its 
drudgery, its London streets, its men and women, and 
even its home companionships, became in comparison far 
away and dim. As the children of Hamelin followed the 
piper's music, so this boy followed the mysterious musi- 
cian whose melodies are reverie and speculation, and 
passed into a realm apart from the workaday world. 

There is nothing to indicate with certainty the precise 
course of his early thinking. But one of the characters 
in " Thorndale " affords a clue which we may follow with 
reasonable confidence that under the name of Cyril we 
have in substance, if not in form, a part of the youthful 
experience of William Smith. 

A pious and affectionate youth may, without blame on his 
part, commence his career of independent thinking by a rebel- 
lion against some of his most sacred feelings, by a violence done 
to his best affections. His peace of mind is disturbed, and the 
harmony of the family circle is broken by an invisible enemy, 
who has stolen upon him in the very hours of study and medita- 
tion. Those earliest and dearest friendships, as well as those 
first and sacred convictions, which should have lasted him his 
whole life, are put in jeopardy at the very outset. 


For some time our inquiring youth keeps his doubt a close 
prisoner within his own Bosom. At length, one day, being 
more daring or more despondent than usual, he gives expression, 
in the family circle, to some of those sceptical questionings he has 
been secretly revolving. As soon as the words have passed his 
lips how those lips trembled as he spoke ! he feels that it 
was not an opinion only he has uttered, but a defiance. And it is 
not an answer, but a reproof, that he receives. An elder brother 
frowns, a sister weeps, a parent solemnly rebukes. Sad and in- 
auspicious entrance on the paths of inquiry. He retreats into 
himself, perturbed, disdainful, with a rankling sense of injustice 
done to him. 

Beyond the family circle the case is little better. In gen- 
eral society he soon learns that the subject of religion is alto- 
gether inadmissible. There is but one thing more distasteful to 
well-bred people than a religious sentiment or opinion, and that 
is the least show of opposition^ to it. You must think over these 
matters if you must think in perfect retirement. The one 
half of society requires that you respect its faith, the other half 
that you respect its hypocrisy. 

. . . Such an one, when I knew him, was Cyril. A youth 
of more blameless manners there could not be. His parents 
were distinguished for their evangelical piety, and were de- 
lighted to watch the development of his ardent and unaffected 
devotion. His nature had entirely responded to the religious 
training he had received. How came doubt, it will be asked, in 
such a mind ? What sceptical works was he likely to read ? 
And if he had been persuaded to read any such works, would 
they have produced any other impression on a person of this de- 
scription than pain and offence ? Let their statements or reason- 
ings be what they might, such a person would only have been 
stung, irritated, wounded by them not convinced or shaken. 

But the enemy may approach in a far more insidious manner 
than by a direct attack. His father took a great interest in the 
subject of reformatory punishment, as it is sometimes called. 
(The combination of reformatory and educational measures with 
punishment, would be a more accurate expression for the object 
which such philanthropists have in view.) Schemes of prison 
discipline formed the most frequent topic of conversation at his 


own home. The house was full of books treating upon this 
subject in every possible manner, either investigating the ra- 
tionale of punishment, or proposing new methods for the moral 
restoration of the criminal. In short, it was the paternal hobby. 
Now, in works treating on the subject of criminal jurisprudence, 
there will invariably be intermingled ethical discussions on the 
nature and objects of punishment itself, and on the meaning 
which is attached to such words, for instance, as retributive pun- 
ishment, and of penalty, when imposed in order to secure obe- 
dience to a promulgated law. As I understood him, the perusal 
of these books, together with the constant reiteration in the 
family circle that the reformation of the criminal himself was 
never to be lost sight of as one of the ends of punishment, forced 
upon his mind the perception of a strange contrast between the 
ethical principles which his father advocated when discoursing 
upon this favourite topic, and the ethical principles which he ad- 
vanced or implied when he expounded his Calvinistic divinity. 
Cyril, at least, could not reconcile the two. He could not help 
saying to himself though he recoiled at first with horror from 
his own suggestions that his father claimed for a human leg- 
islator principles more noble and enlightened than those he at- 
tributed to the Divine Governor. The idea was at first repudi- 
ated ; it was thrust back ; but it would return. The subject was 
not allowed to sleep, for every fresh visitor at the house called 
forth from his father an exposition of what he deemed to be the 
true principles of criminal jurisprudence. To punish for re- 
venge, he pronounced unchristian and irrational ; he admitted 
no ends for punishment but the protection of society and the 
reformation of the criminal, which also was the best protection 
for society ; nor would he allow that the first of these was an 
end which could be legitimately pursued without being coupled 
with the second. 

. . . That the future punishments of God should have for 
one end the reformation of the offender does not appear to be 
a heresy of a very deep dye, nor one that ought to have dis- 
turbed a pious mind ; but it shook the whole system of theology 
in which Cyril had been brought up. If punishment has in 
itself wise and merciful ends, if it is conducive, or accom- 
panied by measures that are conducive, to the restoration of the 


criminal, what becomes of all those ideas attached to the word 
salvation, in which he had been educated ? I only indicate 
the train of thought awakened in Cyril's mind. Those only 
who have been educated as he was can understand the terror 
and anguish of heart which such a train of thought brought 
with it. 

. . . The first murmur of dissent he ventured to raise 
against the system in which he had been educated was on the 
doctrine of eternal punishment. It was the doctrine he most 
frequently discussed with me. The more he studied it, whether 
in works of ethics or works of religion, the less could he assent 
to it. Yet the denial of it shook all the rest of the system ; his 
doctrine of Atonement must be entirely remodelled ; in short, 
he was plunged into the miseries of doubt. 

... To appreciate the distress of Cyril it must be borne 
in mind that he had been brought up in the conviction that un- 
belief was a sin of the greatest magnitude ; that it could not 
fail to incur all the penalties of extreme guilt, as the unbeliever 
was cut off from the only means of salvation. Say that he was 
wrong, then his very denial had sentenced him directly or indi- 
rectly to that final doom he called in question. His unbelief 
had incapacitated him from seizing upon the sole means of es- 
cape. This terrible responsibility was forever with him. A 
voice would peal incessantly in his ears, " You may be wrong, 
and then " 

... I cannot describe, and do not wish to describe, the 
depth of terror and affliction which Cyril felt as his earliest 
faith was being rent from him. A soul athirst for piety seemed 
driven from the only temple in which it could worship. He 
grew restless, gloomy, at times even morose. 

... [At Oxford.] The cloud was darkening over him. At 
length he rarely came to my room. Hearing he was unwell I 
went to see him. I asked him after his health ; he did not an- 
swer the question took no heed of it ; his thoughts were else- 
where. "Oh, Thorndale! " he said, " to pass long sleepless nights 
sleepless and in pain and not to know how to pray ! " And 
as he pressed Iny hand he burst into an agony of tears. 

. . . With some few men this gloomy contest, carried on 
apart and alone, has absorbed all the energies of their intellect. 


Coerced into silence, they gain no help from other minds ; the 
cloud hangs over them perpetually ; no word from another 
disperses it for a moment ; perhaps they are ashamed to confess 
the secret terrors they more than occasionally feel. They seek 
no distraction ; for them there is no oblivion ; they must front 
their enemy with a steady eye, or they sink vanquished, and lose 
entirely their self-respect. Perhaps there is no interest or 
pleasure so absorbing as to shelter them during one whole day 
from some recurrence of their sad and interminable controversy. 
They live on, knowing nothing of philosophy but its doubts, and 
retaining nothing of religion but its fears. 



AND how is our poor boy to cope with these vast prob- 
lems ? The bitterness of the struggle has been partly 
shown in the passages from Cyril's story. It is a com- 
plex suffering. The centring of his deepest interests on a 
topic which he cannot share with the others consigns to 
loneliness a nature framed for sympathy and tenderness. 
The impulse of a reverent soul toward worship and ado- 
ration finds itself baffled, the glorious image of its Deity 
dissolving into mists of uncertainty. Deepest trouble of 
all, the practical rule of life, the chart and compass for 
daily and hourly guidance, seems lost to a man of reli- 
gious nature when his beliefs become unsettled. Such 
guidance is sufficiently furnished for many men by the 
standards of social usage, of acquired habit, or of obvious 
utility. But the sensitive and spiritual nature yearns to 
connect its common acts and choices with some lofty and 
abiding reality; dead reckoning will not serve its pur- 
pose, it must take observation by the heavenly bodies. 

So great were the troubles into which the youth fell. 
And it was not a weakness or a fault that involved him in 
his difficulties, but the highest quality in him. He obeyed 
a voice which bade him unsparingly ask, " What is true ? " 
Even that impulse of worship which is the heart of piety 
laid on him, by the whole force of its austere sanctity, the 
requirement that the object of his worship be a worthy 
one, that it be a reality and not a delusion. 

How fares it then with this boy as he ripens early into 
manhood under the stress of such questionings? Des- 


tined he clearly is to spend his life in thinking his way 
just so far into the order of the universe as his faculties 
and opportunities will carry him. But how meantime is 
his personal life to go on ? Must he wait until he has 
thought out the ultimate problems of existence, or been 
persuaded to accept some other man's scheme, before he 
can have scope for his piety, guidance for his conduct, 
and love answering his love ? 

The purpose which he set before himself, or rather which 
was inexorably set before him, was the search for truth. 
But along with this, including it and transcending it, lay 
a problem of another sort to fit his own personality 
rightly and truly to its place in the order of things. In 
modern speech, the individual must adjust himself to his 
environment ; in the older phrase, man must learn and do 
the will of God. The main business of every man, even 
the philosopher, is not to explain the universe, but rightly 
to live his own life. 

The story of Cyril reveals much as to the general nature 
of the youth's first conflict. But to Cyril is assigned a 
wholly different issue from that which happened in the case 
of the mind that conceived him ; for Cyril finds refuge and 
peace in the Church of Eome. To William Smith that 
road was quite impracticable. The directions in which 
his thought took shape and ripened toward conviction we 
shall trace hereafter. But the really critical stage in his 
personal development, the process deeper than all specu- 
lative thought, we may safely believe to be that to which 
his wife refers, when she tells of his passing from the in- 
fluence of Byron to that of Wordsworth. 

It is not to be supposed that Byron and Wordsworth 
were altogether the decisive factors in the business. They 
counted for something. But, beyond what they were in 
themselves, they stood as the types in literature of two 
different attitudes of character; and it was the change 
from one attitude to the other which was so important and 


decisive that the word " conversion " might well be given 
to it. It was a process which the poems of Wordsworth 
doubtless did much to help, but which was also forwarded 
by the strong inward bent of the young man. It was as 
when the compass-needle, after vibrating under conflicting 
attractions, swings at last with the unseen current, and is 
thereafter held tremulous but true to the northward line. 

Byron stands for the rebellion of the soul against a 
world that does not please it. He craves freedom, beauty, 
joy; he finds restraint, ugliness, trouble. He betakes 
himself to resistance and to scorn. He finds the gratifi- 
cations that he craves prohibited ; and where the law that 
restrains him may be broken, he snatches at the forbidden 
fruit ; where the law is above his power, he is sullen and 
bitter. He is partly but not wholly of the earth, earthy ; 
moral beauty and grandeur, as well as physical, have a 
charm for him ; he admires, but he will not worship. 
Practically it is himself that he sets as God, his own 
mixed being, with head of gold, body of iron, and feet of 
clay, and because the world of nature and of man is not 
subject to him, he stands rebellious and scornful. 

The music of his verse, the splendor of his imagery, the 
rapid dramatic action, catches the fancy of our youth 
while he is yet a school-boy. Then later, when he too 
finds his world an unfriendly place ; when his thirst for 
joy and freedom is mocked ; when the object of his wor- 
ship fades into uncertainty ; when, looking on the splen- 
dors of the Alps, he feels his own spirit clouded, then lie 
finds in Byron's defiant temper a mood congenial to his 
own. He too is a rebel. There is no visible outbreak ; 
he does his task work ; at home he may be often silent, 
but he speaks 110 wounding word. Libertinism of the 
senses is repugnant to him. But in silence he protests 
against this whole cruel order of things ; against a God 
who hides himself, and against a universe which tantalizes 
its children with glimpses of a good it forbids them to 


The characteristic of Wordsworth is the spirit of obedi- 
ence and reverence. He faces life not with a demand 
that it shall yield him pleasure, but with the wish to know 
his true place and do his rightful part. Are irksome 
tasks laid upon him ? He will meet them faithfully ; and 
so meeting them, Drudgery is transfigured before his eyes, 
and becomes Duty, "stern daughter of the voice of God." 
He looks out upon the world of humanity and of nature 
with sympathy and awe. This glorious universe, vaster 
far is its significance than to minister ease to him, 
or give applause to his merit. His is the secret of pos- 
session, a self-forgetfulness that appropriates by sympathy 
the good of others. Because he brings to the contempla- 
tion of Nature a mind which seeks no homage for itself, 
and watches her beauty and listens for her message, un- 
troubled by the turmoil of selfish passion, therefore 
Nature, whom Byron finds " heedless and inaccessible," 1 

1 Wordsworth gathers from this visible beauty of the creation 
more than a pleasure and delight, more even than that sentiment 
of romantic devotion which other poets have rapturously pro- 
claimed ; he detects in it a communion and an intelligent influence, 
passing in all ages between the Spirit of the universe and heart of 
man. He reads in the cloud, touched by the light of heaven, an un- 
utterable love. Here is the keynote by which the variable human 
being may at all times tune his mind, if he will, to be in harmony 
and accordance with that " great idea " which the world was framed 
by Divine Wisdom to answer. No man has so exalted and refined 
this sentiment. Beauty is with him a piety. In the sombre seclu- 
sion of a metropolis I have read his verse and worshipped. I am 
transported to the eternal hills, to that first and enduring temple 
which mountain and the sky have reared, and where it needs not that 
any perpetual flame be kept alive upon the altar by the hand of man, 
for the whole scene is one animated type, placed there for the com- 
munion of the human family with heaven and with each other ; and 
the Spirit of God is felt moving in the midst. . . . Byrori, too, could 
extol that beauty in strains of unsurpassed magnificence, but with 
him a love and enthusiasm for nature was a compensation for want of 
cordial sympathy with man, not a related feeling strengthened by 
and strengthening that feeling. With him Nature was a goddess 


shows herself to this humble worshipper as a divine 
mother. Her glory is sacramental to him ; it is like the 
visible face of God. 

Was it as he read some page of Wordsworth, or was it 
in lonely communing with himself and the Unseen, we 
know not, but there came to the troubled young spirit a 
voice, " Peace, be still ! " There came to him, grew* upon 
him, wrought itself through his obedience into an inward 
law of his nature, the impulse to accept the order of the 
universe, without waiting to comprehend it ; to faithfully 
discharge the near and known duty ; to look reverently 
upon all beauty and grandeur as the manifestation of 
some eternal good. He heard and obeyed the command 
to submit, to obey, to revere. 

Of that command, borne in upon a spirit like his by in- 
fluences more and finer than can be distincly traced, yet 
Wordsworth stood as the most articulate interpreter. 
Under such teaching, the young man ripens out of the 
stage of rebellion and bitterness into sweetness and 
humility. He has still much of suffering and perplexity 
to encounter. It is not given him to emerge at once into 
such tranquil sunlight as shines on Wordsworth's pages, 
and there to abide. But he is learning a disposition and 
habit which will stand him in stead through all sorest need. 
His is one of those natures endowed with too much sensi- 
bility, with too unsparing a desire of truth, to allow an easy 
or a tranquil life. But he is coming now into true relation 
with the world in which he is to live and serve, and with 
that awful Power which his eyes and heart strain to dis- 
cern. He has taken obedience and reverence for his 

which he placed in hostile contrast to Humanity, and for this very 
reason was the more willing to adore. His imagination endowed her 
with a quite separate existence, apart alike from God and man. In 
the sort of chivalrous homage he paid to this sovereign mistress of 
his soul, he delighted to pronounce her heedless and inaccessible to 
the presence or the prayers of her poor human worshippers. 
William Smith, in Blackwood, March, 1841. 


In the poetry of Wordsworth he found an aid, and 
under its influence he came not only into more of in- 
ward peace, but into a larger intellectual outlook. But 
Wordsworth's was not a religion or a philosophy to wholly 
satisfy him. On the one hand, Wordsworth steadily 
holds the traditional creed of Christianity and the Church 
of England. That creed has no very conspicuous part in 
his writings ; but his unquestioning acceptance of it gives 
to his mind a settled position, and a freedom to survey 
man and nature as it were at leisure. On the other hand, 
his own peculiar philosophy is mystical ; he accepts seen 
things as symbols of higher things unseen. Why he so 
accepts them, he does not try to explain. It is so that 
they present themselves to his mind ; and to one order of 
minds, such acceptance is as natural and self-evident as 
the operations of the physical senses. But the mind with 
which our story deals, though endowed with something of 
this illuminated vision, included also a more searching 
and exacting quality. It was acute and analytical, bent 
to trace every stream to its earliest source, to test all so- 
called intuitions by rigid laws of evidence, and to go back 
of every assertion with an inexorable WTiy ? This quality 
was doubtless stimulated by the training in Scotch meta- 
physics ; it must have been fostered, too, by long study of 
the civil law ; and it accorded with the principles of inves- 
tigation of physical science, which have played so great a 
part in our day. In short, there were combined in this 
man the traits of the poet, the saint, the metaphysician, 
and the scientist. In the consummate and perfect man, 
the ideal product of humanity, all these characteristics 
would unite, and form a perfect harmony. But the effort 
to harmonize their workings in an actual man, of flesh and 
blood limitations, is an arduous business. It made of life 
an arduous business for William Smith. 

We get an incidental glimpse of help given him toward 
one great forward step, toward emancipation from that 


fear of Divine wrath menacing the doubter which haunted 
his first departure from the faith of his fathers. In one 
of his earliest publications he makes cordial mention of 
Shaftesbury's " Characteristics." That book has the mild, 
rational, moderate tone which is perhaps the best trait of 
the English philosophical writers of the eighteenth cen- 
tury. It does not probe the great questions closely home, 
according to our later ideas ; but it introduces, instead of 
the lurid atmosphere of polemical controversy, an air of 
good temper and of composure, akin to that with which 
truth is followed in the dialogues of Plato. There is one 
passage which bears so directly upon the fear that had 
shadowed the soul of the young doubter that it is worthy 
of quotation here. 

We must not only be in ordinary good humour, but in the 
best of humours, and in the sweetest, kindest disposition of our 
lives, to understand well what true goodness is, and what those 
attributes imply which we ascribe with such applause and 
honour to the Deity. We shall then be able to see best whether 
those forms of justice, those degrees of punishment, that temper 
of resentment, and those measures of offence and indignation, 
which we vulgarly suppose in God, are suitable to those original 
ideas of goodness which the same Divine Being, or Nature un- 
der Him, has implanted in us, and which we must necessarily 
presuppose in order to give Him praise or honour in any kind. 
This is the security against all superstition : To remember that 
there is nothing in God but what is God-like, and that He is 
eitber not at all or truly and perfectly good. But when we are 
afraid to use our reason freely, even on that very question, 
* Whether He really be or not' we then actually presume Him 
bad, and flatly contradict that pretended character of goodness 
and greatness, whilst we discover this mistrust of his temper, 
and fear his anger and resentment, in the case of this freedom 
of inquiry. 

We have a notable instance of this freedom in one of our 
sacred authors. As patient as Job is said to be, it cannot be de- 
nied that he makes bold enough with God, and takes his Provi- 


deuce roundly to task. His friends, indeed, plead hard with 
him, and use all arguments, right or wrong, to patch up objec- 
tions, and set the affairs of Providence upon an equal foot. 
They make a merit of saying all the good they can of God, at 
the very stretch of their reason, and sometimes quite beyond it. 
But this, in Job's opinion, is flattering God, accepting of God's 
person, and even mocking Him,. And no wonder. For what 
merit can there be in believing God, or his Providence, upon 
frivolous and weak grounds ? What virtue in assuming an 
opinion contrary to the appearance of things, and resolving to 
hear nothing which may be said against it ? Excellent charac- 
ter of the God of truth ! that He should be offended at us for 
having refused to put the lie upon our understandings, as much 
as in us lay ; and be satisfied with us for having believed, at a 
venture, and against our reason, what might have been the 
greatest falsehood in the world for anything we could bring as a 
proof or evidence to the contrary ! 

The gradual progress of the young man's thought will 
be unfolded hereafter. But, from the time he leaves his 
Byronic passion behind him with his boyhood, during all 
his years, in whatever of struggle and perplexity he may 
be involved, he is always in heart and life a worshipper. 
The sun is often behind a cloud ; he vainly strains his 
eyes to discern its orb ; but its softened light suffuses the 
heavens and earth about him. A passage in one of his 
latest writings describes in the character of Clough that 
quality which was the accepted law of his own life. 

The only thing absolutely essential to him was the approval 
of his own conscience. This man, so free in speculation, who 
had sounded all the perilous depths of human thought, who had 
cast off dogmas as the serpent casts his skin, and with as little 
thought of returning to them again, was a very slave to the sen- 
timent of duty. The thing that was right the doing of this 
stood to him in the place of ambition ; and it had sometimes to 
stand in the place of doctrine too. Faith in the right this 
never forsook him ; nor in that Being whom, when the reason 
refuses to clothe in any mythological or objective form, it still 
finds even in itself ! 


THE last two chapters have portrayed in grave hues the 
young man's thought and life. But with the sombre 
strain there was interwoven in him an element of pure joy 
and even of light-heartedness. The noble delight of the 
thinker is portrayed in the passage which his wife quotes 
(page 32). There were, too, lighter kinds of intellectual 
resource, on which he feasted with healthy youthful ap- 
petite. It was something very different from theological 
problems which engaged his pen in his earliest published 

In the year 1828 a weekly literary paper called " The 
Athena3um, v which had lately made an unnoticed begin- 
ning in London, was observed to take on a new quality, 
and to show fine and promising work, as of vigorous 
though youthful hands. It had come into the control and 
editorship of two young men, fresh from Cambridge Uni- 
versity, John Sterling and Frederick Denison Maurice. 
Among the contributions of this first year was a series of 
eight papers, on various topics, signed " A Wool-Gath- 
erer." The writer was William Smith, then twenty years 
of age. The first paper, " On Periodicals," pleads the 
cause of this species of literature in a style which plays 
easily between the grave and the humorous. The maga- 
zine, says the writer, is not to be despised because it 
scarcely aims at more than a transient interest. " It is the 
perpetual fountain, whose life and whose beauty are not to 
be found in any one drop of the ever-changing liquid, 
a fountain whose boast it is to be continually exhibiting 


under a graceful form some portions of the collected and 
otherwise stagnant waters of learning." For his own 
part, he even disclaims the usual contempt for an an- 
tiquated periodical, and finds in it a curious interest. 
" There the writer stands, in the same attitude of defiance 
or astonishment into which he was surprised by the popu- 
lar excitement of the time; he is still gazing with awe 
and wonder upon the ghost which the rest of the world 
has long since discovered to have been a white sheet upon 
an ivy bush." As to the broad question of the periodical 
form, he admits there is a drawback in the tendency of the 
paper to interrupt the social chat of the family ; and for 
this, he says : " I would propose it as a remedy that 
everybody should make it a stipulation in the marriage 
settlement ' that the said A. or B. shall not, nor will, dur- 
ing the hours of breakfast, tea, or supper, or for the space 
of sixty minutes after each and every of the said meals 
(the said sixty minutes to be calculated by the minute 
hand of the outside clock of the nearest parish church, 
provided that the said clock be going, and be in thorough 
repair, certificate of which, etc.) read or peruse, or ap- 
pear to be reading or perusing, any gazette, journal, maga- 
zine, etc.' ' In conclusion, the essayist disavows any 
expectation of imitating either the excellences or defects 
of the eighteenth-century writers whose forms and machin- 
ery he has adopted. " The playful wit and elegance of 
the lighter parts of the 4 Tatler ' and ' Spectator,' I have 
never dreamed of copying ; neither will I wilfully imitate 
the manner of their more serious papers, a manner 
more polite than honest, in no danger of being ruffled by 
zeal, or made dogmatic by too strong a conviction or too 
cogent a reason." 

The second paper is "On Enthusiasm." It justifies 
the general distaste for so-called " perfect characters," in 
literature, on the ground that that is no real or human 
perfection in which " every passion is under the calm and 


apathetic sway of reason." Tranquillity is to be obtained 
" not by moderating all passions ; it is to be sought only 
by delivering ourselves up to one. There is no garden 
virtue, which can lie on beds of roses in indolence and 
security ; but there is a virtue to whose more enraptured 
gaze the wilderness becomes glad, and the desert blossoms 
as the rose." 

The next paper, " On Martyrs," is a plea for toleration 
of free thought and speech, on the highest grounds. " All 
martyrs ought to be looked upon not as sufferers for this 
dogma or for that, not as supporters of this religion or the 
other, but as common sufferers in one and the same cause, 
that of liberty of opinion and of speech." The writer ex- 
tols the historic martyrs of England in a strain in which 
he might be sure of his readers' sympathy. " They fought 
the good fight. They fought it often blindly, not know- 
ing the true end of their labours, and little disposed, per- 
haps, if they had, to contemplate it with pleasure. Still 
it is to that phalanx of men who in any age, in any coun- 
try, for any opinion, have braved the cruelty of bigots, 
that we owe the mental freedom we now enjoy. If there 
remains anything to perfect it, let us not sleep." When 
this was written, it appears, a Mr. Taylor had been im- 
prisoned for attacking Christianity ; and the journals 
which had condemned the imprisonment had generally 
done so on the ground that it gave undue conspicuousness 
and importance to an advocate of contemptible opinions. 
But the issue involved, says the essayist, is a far more 
serious matter ; it touches the most important question 
that can be agitated, namely : Whether men may or may 
not reason openly against religion. " I would not," he 
declares, " stop the mouth of the direst ranter who ever 
dealt damnation to a world of which he knew nothing." 

Another paper is " On Mystics," a name, we are told, 
coming into frequent use, generally in a vague and often 
in an opprobrious sense, but which is defined thus : " I 


apprehend that he is strictly a mystic who arrives at any 
sentiment or belief by any other than those modes of rea- 
soning common to all mankind. It is not necessary that 
this belief should be unintelligible, or peculiar to himself ; 
it is enough that he has reached it by a method which the 
rest of the world cannot pursue. All inspired people, all 
who appeal to the influences of some spiritual agent upon 
their minds, all who discover in their own consciousness 
what others look in vain for in theirs, however good, how- 
ever fortunate, however sincere, they may be, are essen- 
tially mystics. Be it remembered, however, that in attach- 
ing this name to them I do not charge them with any 
deception or any error. I imply only by it that with 
regard to that subject on which their consciousness has 
been otherwise informed, it is impossible to reason with 
them ; as impossible as to argue upon external objects 
with one who should have more senses than five. Our 
paths cannot be the same, but they will not be very diver- 
gent ; and wishing each other ' God speed ' we part as did 
Faithful and Christian, of whom the readers of Buiiyan 
will remember that the one took the upper road and the 
other the lower road, but both travelled toward the same 
point." And with this friendly farewell the author turns 
to eulogize a work of a widely different school, Shaftes- 
bury's " Characteristics." He defends Shaftesbury 
against the censure he has received for applying the term 
" beauty " to virtue ; and urges that the " good humour " 
on which he insists in religious discussion describes not a 
frivolous state of mind, but that composure and benignity 
which are the most favorable conditions for finding the 

An essay on " Sir Andrew Aguecheek " contains this 
passage : " To have conceived and portrayed such a char- 
acter was the highest effect of humour. There was a time 
when this word seems to have been applied only to a 
lower species of wit, but lately humour has been allowed to 


signify the most refined and delicate perception of all that 
is grotesque in human nature, and in this sense has been 
justly considered as the most incontestable privilege of 
genius. Wit is the sport that an active mind makes with 
its knowledge; humour is the giving out to others the 
original impression as made by the object itself. Wit 
ranges wide, and collects from the most distant quarters ; 
humour is the result of a more tranquil susceptibility, ' the 
harvest of a quiet eye.' Wit combines things apparently 
the most dissimilar ; humour is occupied with things as 
they are. Wit is the property of the intellect alone ; hu- 
mour requires as well a high cultivation of the affections. 
An ordinary person may make an occasional witticism ; a 
clever one may write a good comic scene ; but to create 
such a personage as Aguecheek requires, and is the sure 
test of, the highest qualities of mind." 

The most striking of these papers is one which contains 
an imaginary letter from Chatterton to his sister, on the 
evening before his suicide. He bids farewell to her, as he 
is about to take leave of a world in which he can find 
nothing to hold him. He tells her that except for the gen- 
tle affection of a few like her, who have loved him only 
out of the goodness of their hearts, which did not perceive 
how poor a thing he is, he has found no ties with his kind. 
He is bidden to love his fellow-beings, but if he is to in- 
terpret humanity by the only one he knows, himself, 
he must find it not lovable, but despicable. " Take it 
not to heart that a starved and miserable reprobate, who 
enjoyed neither the pleasures of this world nor the visions 
of another, who could protect himself neither from the 
rack of passion nor from the pangs of sense, should quit a 
life in which he had become utterly incapable of giving 
or receiving happiness. Some hand, perhaps his own, has 
mingled a bitter with the waters ; separated again it can- 
not be ; and to turn from them with disgust, is it not par- 
donable, is it not wise ? I shall watch through the night 


till the dawn of another day breaks upon me. This intel- 
lectual being which I have so often execrated grows pre- 
cious on the eve of its extinction ; as the sun which stood 
still in heaven that the slaughter of the Amorites might 
be continued would be beautiful in its setting, even to the 
remnant of that afflicted host which all day long had 
cursed its unrelenting light. There seems to be an unus- 
ual serenity in the night, and the stars shine with a softer 
and more spiritual lustre. I feel as I gaze upon them 
how easy it is for men to persuade themselves of the hap- 
piness of future worlds. Fancies all we know nothing. 
Why do we dare to hope ? Why do we stoop to fear ? 

..." I have no aim then what should gladden me ? 

I have no love then wherefore should I live ? 
I have no visions in eternity, 

And my own soul is dark and fugitive. 

..." There rests in me no misanthropic gall, 

Nor have I shunned, as some have done, my kind, 

But midst the crowd there was not one of all 
Who could my struggling, sympathies unbind. 

..." I blame not them the fault, the guilt is mine, 

My discontent breeds ever from within, 
And if I now in solitude repine, 

It is that others should not hear the din." 

The series concludes with a paper on " The Present and 
the Future," of which these sentences indicate the tone : 
" The great object of man is, or ought to be, the perfec- 
tion of his moral character ; and although it may be 
necessary that to be fully convinced of this he should 
have looked abroad upon the future, yet, the object once 
recognized, he can only effect it by entrenching himself 
within the present. . . . Men are taught to expect in 
some future time, in some distant place, the heaven which 
they ought to seek now in their own bosoms. . . . Let 
him limit himself to the hour ; let him live by the day ; 
let him think honestly and feel honestly now ; and it will 


soon come that the morrow will take care for itself. With 
the philosopher, as with the libertine, the present hour is 
worth all the rest." 

The impression which these papers would probably 
make upon one having no knowledge of their author is 
that of a disciplined maturity. They show a fine but 
tempered ardor, and a mingled firmness and delicacy in 
thought and style. In the letter under the name of Chat- 
terton, skilfully veiled by one and another device of dra- 
matic construction, the writer was expressing the tragic 
side of his own life. This was a nature exquisitely attuned 
to beauty, to harmony, to all finest aspirations and de- 
sires, but a nature which had not yet found a work to 
engage its energy, a creed to satisfy its aspirations, or a 
companionship to fill its heart. He hungered for the so- 
ciety of a kindred spirit, and such spirits are very rarely 
to be met. Companionship less perfect and ideal might 
yet have consoled and strengthened him. But he was 
perpetually drawn apart from those around him by the 
fascination of an inward life which they could not share ; 
and something like over-refinement held him back from 
the homely contact with men in every-day experiences, 
through which a robust nature may penetrate to interior 
wealth and true comradeship. 

But the profound melancholy which is disclosed in this 
paper should be understood as but one mood or phase of 
a life which had very different experiences. It was not a 
miserable, and it was far less a weak, mind that produced 
these essays, evincing so much of tranquillity, of delight 
in the sublimities and the humors of the world, of moral 
soundness and health. Even in the sadness is " Elysian 
beauty, melancholy grace." He has not come face to face 
with unveiled Truth, but Truth has breathed into him her 
own spirit. He has not found the love he craves, but he 
has grown worthy to be loved. For he has practised well 
the greatest lesson man can learn the lesson of self- 



AT twenty years of age, the young man had thus 
showed himself already no mean proficient in the noblest 
of arts, and his literary success was sufficient to open to 
him the society of the scholarly and thoughtful, if he chose 
to enter there. His brother-in-law, Mr. Weigall, says the 
Memoir, told in after years, what William Smith did not 
choose to tell for himself, that John Sterling's father, the 
44 Thunderer " of the " Times," called to congratulate him 
on the success of his young kinsman, and declared, in his 
ardent Irish fashion, that " such pure and elegant English 
had not been written since the days of Addison." He 
was invited to join the Union Debating Society. " I ac- 
companied him," Mr. Weigall writes in 1873, "more 
than once to the Union debates. I remember one occasion 
especially on which John Stuart Mill was in the chair. 
There were present on that evening Mr. Roebuck, Mr. H. 
L. Bulwer (afterwards Lord Bailing), Mr. Romilly (the 
present Lord), Sir Henry Taylor (author of " Philip Van 
Artevelde "), and William. ... I never on any other 
occasion heard such an eloquent debate. William spoke 
chiefly in reply to Sir H. Taylor very forcibly, but not 
with his usual gentleness." 

Here, one would have said, were the omens of an active 
and distinguished career. The young knight had shown 
his mettle, not only in letters, but in the manly jostle of 
debate. He had fallen in company with such strong and 
promising young spirits as Sterling and Maurice and Mill. 
Equipped with power of thought, of love, of self-control : 


having already won a hearing ; with generous companion- 
ship at his command, what was to hinder his playing a 
stirring part in the leadership of the time ? 

But he was already under the spell of the enchantress 
who was to lead him by far different paths from those of 
stirring leadership. Her name was Solitude. The fasci- 
nation of his own thoughts perpetually withdrew him from 
the society of his kind. He was haunted by visions of 
ideal beauty and questionings about absolute truth. Such 
themes absorbed and possessed him ; they wrapt him away 
from that homely and matter-of-fact earth on which men 
are wont to hold intercourse with each other in striving 
or serving. To those about him he often seemed like one 
in a dream ; while to his own consciousness he was living 
in a world of intense reality, which yet he felt to be set 
apart by some strange impalpable barrier from the world 
of visible realities. 

But the life of thought and imagination in the indi- 
vidual tends to cut its own channel of communication 
with the actual world. That channel is self-expression in 
literature. " Every reflective man," says William Smith, 
" may be set down as at heart an author, whether he has 
yielded or not to the seductive impulse. Some intention, 
though it may be most vague and remote, to write 
mingles itself with the efforts of every man who from 
reading has been taught to think" 

There are three productions of William Smith's which 
date from the period between his twentieth and thirtieth 
years. Of his first prose work " Ernesto : a Philoso- 
phical Romance," his wife tells us that it was written 
" much about this time " apparently soon after " The 
Wool-Gatherer," but was only published in 1835, as the 
last volume of " The Library of Romance," edited by 
Leitch Ritchie. It was with some difficulty, she tells us, 
that she prevailed upon her husband to give her a copy 
of this early production, " the very story of which he had 


utterly forgotten, and never cared to glance over. Imma- 
ture he no doubt was right in pronouncing it, but it 
abounds in thoughtful and eloquent passages. There is 
in it the promise of ' Thorndale.' ' 

It is not until eight years after " The Wool-Gatherer " 
that we find, in 1836, a little volume put forth containing 
two poems. They illustrate what had been the workings 
of the young man's heart in the intervening time. One 
of them, entitled " Solitude," is evidently a direct tran- 
script from experience. Two passages will show its 
quality : 

Oh, there is rapture in this thoughtful calm ! 

I see the utmost summit of the cliff, 

Lone in the azure an eternal rest ! 

I see the bounding waters at my feet 

To and fro rushing an eternal change ! 

And here am I, a spirit between both, 

Poised with the mountain, with the wave afloat, 

Embracing all things, finding in them all, 

Their rest or motion an eternal peace ! 

. . . Fast fills my heart 

With spirit of benevolence that sheds 

A second dawn of beauty on the world, 

Brightens the sky with benison to man, 

Tempers the wind with charitable thought, 

Yea, in the cloudy chariot of the storm 

Sees a sweet shape, close folded in soft plumes, 

That prompts its thundering speed. Creeps the moist mould 

No living thing so dull, but its dull joy 

Shall be a joy of mine ; walks not in heav'n, 

With step reflected in its golden floor, 

Bright form angelic, but the spirit of love 

Can hither bring me of its happiness. 

Fair, lone acacia, midway down the cliff, 

That on thy platform, like a beauty veiled, 

Stands with droopt head before the azure dome, 

Thus ever stand, thus motionless, and I 

Will share the while thy voiceless piety. 

Ye pair of sea-birds, who with clanging wings 

So neighbourly, have made the general air 


A home for only two oh, wheel again 
Around my head, again your circling flight ! 
And still as falls that faint and piercing cry, 
Will I partake the sympathy it speaks. 
Ye little children, yonder on the beach, 
Twining with restless arms incessantly 
Each other's neck glad of one scanty vest 
To make a cloak for both consulting still 
How ye may closer sit oh, do not fly 
Ye little social pair ! but let me here 
Still see, unseen, and love though not beloved. 
Ah happy man ! the fisherman at eve 
Who raising high in air with outstretched arms 
His laughing burden, shall with kisses snatched 
From your soft lips his boisterous toil repay ! 

One beating heart ta' en from the hive of life, 

What doth it here ? What fellowship can find 

With nature all-sufficient to herself ? 

Oh, that a human hand a human voice, 

With lightest pressure of my listless palm, 

With simplest utterance in my vacant ear, 

Might stir again to unaccustomed smile 

My solitary features, sunk I feel 

To torpid, slow, and desolate regard ! 

What was my crime ? What horrid guilt was mine, 

That I was banished here ? Unhappy fool ! 

'T was thy own sentence thou thyself wert judge, 

And this thy choice felicity. 

Beauty, melancholy, self -imprisonment, the same note 
runs through the whole. The other poem, " Guidone," is 
a drama ; and in the dramatic form, the variety of char- 
acters, and the action of the story, we see, in contrast with 
" Solitude," the effort to break away from lonely musing, 
to mingle with and portray the world's life of action and 
passion. But the world here mirrored is a very troublous 
one. Upon the gentle and sensitive spirit which looks out 
on the fray, it is the terror, the confusion, the tragedy, 
which makes the deepest impression. Two distinct stories 


are brought together in " Guidone," with little dramatic 
unity. In the one, a youth is roused from dreamy seclu- 
sion by a mutual love, which yields him an ecstasy intense 
but brief, and followed by complication and wreck. With 
this is coupled an outlaw, in whom wrong - doing has 
changed the calm ponderings of serene philosophy into 
visions of terror and emotions of despair, and who at last 
by an act of forgiveness regains the sense of peace and 
hope. Of this drama the author says that it was " writ- 
ten without the most remote reference to the theatre, and 
that it aims at exhibiting states of mind rather than indi- 
vidual character, and pretends to no interest of plot or 
story." It contains many passages which by their beauty 
tempt to quotation, but the strain of sadness and intro- 
spection is closely interwoven with the whole. There are 
phrases and thoughts that sink into the memory. The 
drama once begun can scarcely be laid down unfinished 
by any thoughtful reader. The ear and the imagination 
are charmed, and thought is deeply stirred. The defects 
of imperfect structure and of excessive melancholy are 
obvious. Evidently it is the outcome of a nature too 
deeply self-involved. The mind casts on every object the 
hues of its own introspection. Lover, outlaw, hermit, 
each is enmeshed in speculation and self-consciousness. 
The real earth of action and passion and struggle is seen 
invested in exaggerated terrors, because the spectator is 
too much aloof from it to share the throb and glow which 
to the actors make good the pains. 

This of the book, and what of the writer ? His his- 
tory at this period can in no way so well be inferred as 
from a chapter of professed fiction, written some four 
years after the publication of " Guidone." A reference by 
his wife to two incidents as autobiographical, and a multi- 
plicity of internal evidence, show that the paper called 
" Wild Oats a New Species," in "Blackwood's Maga- 
zine " for June, 1840, published anonymously, was essen- 


tially a chapter from William Smith's own experience. Its 
title alludes to the intellectual vagaries in which a man 
may waste his youth. Its spirit is somewhat indicated in 
one of its sentences, referring to " the youth given over to 
the fascination of verse and the delusion of fame," and the 
self -portrayal which he may make at a later day. " Some- 
times a bitter self -derision, that seeks to resent itself on 
early follies, sometimes a lurking tenderness for past 
hopes and aspirations, will quicken the pencil ; and a sub- 
ject contradictory in itself is not unfairly treated in this 
contradictious humour." Yet the satire which runs through 
most of the narrative can scarcely be called bitter : it is 
with a subtle blending of kindness and derision that the 
man rehearses the experience of his younger days. The 
words in which he introduces the teller of the story, whom 
he names Howard, are referred to by his wife as exactly 
fitting his own character. 

We knew Howard, the subject of the following sketch ; we 
knew him intimately. He was indeed of a peculiarly open and 
candid disposition, and at once revealed to you whatever was 
passing in the innermost recesses of his mind. Yet he was not 
social in the same degree that he was frank and confiding. 
When in your company he would let you see, without the least 
distrust or reserve, the very working of his mind, in all its 
strength and weakness, and in all that inconsistency of purpose 
and conclusion which invariably attends upon men of over-quick 
feelings, and which, for their own credit's sake, they may learn 
to conceal, but seldom in reality to overmaster or prevent, he 
would do this naturally, without egotism, and seemingly without 
designing it ; but though he was thus genial and open in your 
company, he was not apt to seek your society. He would forget 
you if you suffered him. 

This man, who has become a successful lawyer, meets a 
friend of earlier years, and in an after-dinner confab tells 
his story, a story of which we give the most character- 
istic passages : 


The wildest rake never spent his energies more wastefully 
than I have mine ; but if the rake, when reformed, will some- 
times congratulate himself on that knowledge of the world 
which his wildness. procured for him, I think that I, with some- 
what better reason, may console myself for wasted years and 
miserable hours, by recalling that knowledge of the intellectual 
life which my own intellectual wanderings have purchased. 

I think when you first knew me, I was the poet of imagi- 
nation all compact. It was not quite clear to me whether I 
should rise to great celebrity in my lifetime ; but that I should 
secure a name with posterity, even now I blush at the recollec- 
tion, I had no doubt whatever. . . . 

The young poet, amidst all his high and generous emotions, 
and he is always generous to a folly, is in many respects obnox- 
ious to ridicule ; and, what is worse, his quick sensibility makes 
him feel that he is so. An extreme sensitiveness, incompatible 
with a free and open intercourse with society, and which shrinks 
from that rude but wholesome rivalry which in the arena of life 
everywhere encounters us ; this, and an intense anxiety after a 
species of renown the most precarious and most disputable, 
present to us a character which, whatever points of interest it 
may reveal, is surely the most uneasy and discomfortable that 
ever mortal was called upon to sustain. ... It is his aim and 
his nature to cultivate a delicacy of feeling and a curious re- 
finement of expression, which, though pleasing infinitely to him- 
self, and in certain moods, and in less measure, to others also, 
yet oftentimes will sound very simple, strange, or extravagant 
when uttered aloud, man to man, in the broad light, and amidst 
the stir of this busy and hard-working world. He finds, as 
one of the tribe has told us, he finds his muse to be "in crowds 
his shame, in solitude his boast." From crowds he therefore re- 
coils, to solitude he flies. Amidst the ordinary transactions of 
life, in all that men call business, he feels himself an utter 
stranger, nerveless, helpless, with a painful repugnance to 
take his share in anything that bears the appearance of strug- 
gle or collision, which is quite inexplicable to persons of robust 
and vigorous understandings. Lulled by the music of his verse, 
he loses, he foregoes all active, energetic purpose. He can only 
think, and feel, and write. 


Such a one was I. How vivid to my memory at this mo- 
ment are those moody walks along green lanes which I used 
daily to take, courting as much of solitude as a residence in the 
neighbourhood of London could afford. With eyes directed to 
the ground, I paced slowly along, or else stopping before the 
hedge or the green bank, to observe some insect or the leaves of 
a plant, my thoughts would become implicated in the poetic 
theme on which I was engaged, and there I would stand, forget- 
ful of all else, till I had fitted together to my satisfaction the 
words of some intractable verse. This done, I would start off 
with sudden alacrity ; at such moments I would snap my fingers 
at the world as one who had found a treasure. . . . 

The fulness of time came, and my poem was published 
well thou knowest with what startling effect upon the world. 
Not a single copy sold ! It was duly advertised, and editors 
were favoured with its perusal gratuitously. Not a single word 
was written on it, good or bad ! One does not quite suddenly 
give up the idea that one is a poet and has a genius ; but this 
experiment was so very satisfactory that at the end of a few 
months I had resigned forever this very glorious and most la- 
mentable delusion. I took a solemn farewell to poetry. Look- 
ing over my remaining manuscripts, I selected a few fragments, 
which still retained some merit in the eyes of their author; 
these, which consisted of mere scraps of loose paper, I placed 
within the leaves of a copy of the printed poem ; the rest I con- 
sumed. The volume, thus additionally enriched for oblivion, I 
folded up in parchment, sealed, and deposited in an iron chest, 
where our family papers were kept. The whole of the impres- 
sion besides, amounting to between two and three hundred vol- 
umes, I ordered home from the publisher. Going into the gar- 
den, I dug with my own hands a profound pit, and there I laid 
the new uncut volumes, arranging them in even piles just as 
regularly as they would have stood on a bookseller's counter. 
Then, with most vigorous handling of the spade, I shovelled in 
the damp earth, and pressed it hard upon them. Thus I buried 
my poetic offspring, and turned again towards the world to seek 
what now it had to offer me. 

Nor did any one ever turn from a grave in sadder or more 
desolate condition than I from this mock burial. . . . Some 


intention, though it may be most vague and remote, to write, 
mingles itself with the efforts of every man who from reading 
has been taught to think. For my own part, I found that in 
resigning all aim of authorship, I had resigned half the luxury 
of thought. I found to my cost, how intimately the pleasure or 
purpose of literary enterprise had combined with my most soli- 
tary cogitations. I could still enjoy, I said to myself, those sen- 
timents of which I wrote, without telling them to the world. 
Alas ! when I reverted to them again, I was returning to a 
country which had been laid waste in my absence. The fleet- 
ing thought, why should I arrest or retain it ? I had no longer 
to make it permanent in my verse. Every mood of my mind, 
every feeling, seemed now indeed smit with transiency, and to 
rush past into sudden oblivion the record of my life was no 
longer to be kept the light and shifting sand would not bear 
my footmark henceforth I should be, at each moment of my 
existence, as if I had never been till then. . . . 

You came upon me again about two years after, and you 
found me immersed in the profundities of philosophy. From 
poetry to metaphysics seems a great stride. But in reality it is 
not so. We are led into metaphysical lucubrations by those 
problems of thought which are most exciting of all, and most 
likely to attract the poetic temperament, the mysterious ques- 
tions of free-will and fate, of immortality and the divine nature. 
These directly conduct us unto what, without this connection, 
would indeed be a scene of more weariness and vexation. For 
myself, I seemed to have left the shore, and all sight of shore, 
and in some little cock-boat to be rising and falling amidst 
swelling waves, which hid all prospect except their own change- 
ful and yet monotonous forms. Instead of labouring within a 
definite circle of thoughts, where not only some intelligible ideas 
can be mastered, but where knowledge is felt to be a sort of 
wealth, a possession for which men respect you, I had launched 
forth, regardless of every personal consideration of whatever de- 
scription, and thrown my spirit loose and self-abandoned on a 
vast sea of subject, which I had no visual power to embrace or 
to overlook. Nor was this sort of philosophy enough, it seemed, 
to perplex and confound ; but theories of society, and Utopian 


projects for the reconstruction of the world on an altogether 
better plan, were added to my labours 

These modes of thought, on the one hand, this obstinate in- 
quiry into the incomprehensible, into mysteries which lie without 
the circle of nature, this constant peering over the boundary ' 
wall of our mundane habitation into the eternal stillness be- 
yond ; and, on the other, this painful search, almost equally 
vain, after a given possible condition of human society which 
shall solve the problem that lies between man's existence and 
God's benevolence have their use, I doubt not, and a noble 
use ; but it is very easy to have more of them than enough. . . . 
I seemed separated from the world of action by a magic circle 
which I could not overpass. However, though I could not 
break the circle, I, by dint of thinking, raised myself higher in 
it. I attained a certain calm position, whence I could at all 
events survey the world with equanimity. I by degrees inured 
myself to the dubiety and indifference of philosophy, and en- 
deavoured to satisfy the propensity for something more genial 
and distinct, by a very cordial sympathy with all good senti- 
ments and good faiths as they exist in other men. 

I used to boast that, while I could analyze with the most 
severe anatomist of thought, I could also re-combine, nor had 
forgotten how to admire the revived compound ; and that the 
very habit of penetrating into the secret operations of the mind 
taught me to enter with full and unembarrassed sympathy into 
all its boldest flights, into all the daring dreams and faiths of 
humanity. I knew well what the imagination was, and re- 
spected it ; I knew well that middle region of the air, neither 
earth nor heaven, where the meteors form and play, meteors 
which are still to be admired, though neither credited nor 
feared. Sentiments the most dreamy, thoughts the most va- 
grant, feelings the wildest and most conflicting, I knew them 
all, could claim or dismiss them at will. Whether it were that 
lucid enthusiasm of a lettered imagination, whereby we partake 
of the rapture of strong feelings, though our own lives are calm 
and serene ; or whether it were the solemn mood, speculative or 
religious, chanting hope or a dirge over the human race, I could 
feel it all, respect, and participate. And thus I walked along 
the level line of reason, yet not above humanity. . . . 


At some such explosion as this it was that you most irrever- 
ently burst into a fit of laughter. Then, suddenly checking 
your mirth, you very gravely said, shaking that long head of 
thine, " This won't do, Howard. This is worse than ever. 
When you were riding your hobby, though it were ever so cursed 
a one, though it were even of Pegasian breed, you made some 
way, or at all events had a way you wished to go ; but now that 
you have not even got a hobby to mount, I cannot tell what is to 
become of you. Have you really no better stuff to make a life 
of than this super-refinement of philosophy ? Do you expect to 
remain ' there standing where we cannot soar,' merely looking 
on, just thinking of us all, or rather viewing all things as they 
are reflected in a sort of mirror which you have fixed up for 
yourself on that serene altitude ? God help thee ! I say." 

Even you, when you uttered these ill bodings, had little ex- 
pectation how soon they were to be justified, or by how slight 
and gentle a hand I was to be dashed from my elevation. 
There came to visit us the daughter of an old friend of the 
family, a captain who had retired into Devonshire to make 
his half-pay extend over the expenses of the whole year. She 
was neither the most beautiful, nor the most witty, nor the most 
accomplished of her sex ; but she was wonderfully pleasing, con- 
stantly cheerful and amiable, with a genuine frankness of man- 
ner quite delightful. I suppose that, in my conversations with 
Juliana, which grew to be frequent enough, it was I who bore 
the chief part, yet it seemed to me that from her alone all the 
conversation really sprung. Had I been asked, I should have 
attributed all the merit, if merit of any kind there was, all that 
was curious or refined in our dialogue, all its mirth and pleas- 
antry and feeling, entirely to her. 

The period of her visit flew like magic. She returned 
home. The day of her departure passed long and heavily. I 
smiled at myself, and anticipated forgetfulness and tranquillity 
on the morrow. The morrow came, and the day after, but they 
brought neither forgetfulness nor tranquillity, but many new 
trains of thought, simple enough, yet disquieting in the extreme. 
If to love it is necessary to believe all beauty and all amiability 
centred in one woman, I was certainly not in that predicament. 
But the charming social intercourse which had been suddenly 


broken up had made a revelation to me of what existed in my 
own heart, which it seemed impossible again to forget. I could 
not follow her. I could not marry. For* the first time in my 
life I knew that I was poor. 

And now there rushed upon me at once, as if up to that 
moment I had been stone-blind, the vision of the real world. I 
saw it as it stood in relation to me. I stood face to face with it. 

God ! how I felt the utter loneliness of that moment ! I had 
spent my days in weaving a miserable screen-work between me 
and the sole happiness of life. I had forfeited, I had thrown 
away, I had lost forever, that only boon which seemed to justify 
the providence of God in the creation of this world. You, my 
friend, came upon me in the height of this despair. You found 
me sitting alone in my study. You remember the scene that 
followed. I cannot recur to it. I have felt a pleasure in re- 
calling the past wanderings of my spirit ; but those moments of 
passion I cannot dwell upon. You know how bitterly I railed, 
scoffed, jeered at myself, and at every employment that had 
ever engrossed me. I had found in philosophy no faith, in the 
world no path of duty ; in my heart I had found affections, and 
these were to be utterly crushed. I had somewhere read, I 
think in one of the novels of Goethe, of a melancholy man, who, 
finding his thoughts run much and incontrollably upon self-de- 
struction, procured a dagger, and whenever the black hour of 
his melancholy recurred, the production of the keen and polished 
instrument, the handling of it, and the consciousness that if he 
pleased he might, used to calm the fever of his thoughts. A 
vague idea that either in this way or another, I might find a 
remedy in such an instrument, induced me to procure one, and 

1 had deposited it in my writing-desk. As I chafed myself 
with bitter and miserable talk, I suddenly snatched it from its 
hiding-place, and dashed the blade against my heart. It would 
have been driven to the hilt, but that you rushed forward and 
struck it from my hand. Can either of us ever forget that mo- 
ment when we both looked upon the dagger as it lay upon the 

Doggedly, sullenly, but without a relapse, I have since 
laboured at the profession in which you find me. You may per- 
ceive that my labours have not been without recompense. But 


this is not half my reward. Severe and steady occupation has 
brought with it an equanimity of mind which I need not tell you 
is more precious than wealth. My friend, the wine stays with 

With a few omissions and changes, we may undoubt- 
edly in this story substitute for the imaginary Howard the 
real William Smith. The unsuccessful books were buried 
just as is here related. It may fairly be presumed that 
there did succeed a period in which meditation ran its own 
unchecked course, with little or no attempt at literary ex- 
pression. The duration of this period can only be guessed. 
" Guidone " and " Solitude " were published in 1836 ; and 
in 1839 we find their author engaged with some regularity 
in literary work and living in a circle of friends. To the 
intervening time we may refer the experience indicated in 
"Wild Oats." For the light, not unkindly satire with 
which he touches on his own fruitless ponderings, an im- 
partial historian might substitute a very different tone. 
Inconclusive the thought may well be which essays these 
loftiest themes, of the nature of the universe and the des- 
tiny of mankind, inconclusive, yet not the less noble 
and enriching. The sympathy with all the various moods 
of the intellect, it is not the quality which builds rail- 
roads, or wins proselytes, or guides a parliament, but it is 
a generous and lofty disposition. 

Yet the satire has a basis of truth. The attempt of a 
human life to support itself wholly in the region of ab- 
stractions is as hopeless as for a bird to try to live al- 
ways on the wing. And in this case, the fall to earth, 
the bruising contact with actualities, came in just the 
way related. Many years afterward, to the happy be- 
trothed whose love had made good all previous loss, the 
story was told, as it is outlined in the tale, of an attrac- 
tive woman who awoke in him a regard, which was 
checked at the outset by the consciousness of the poverty 
to which his unpractical life had consigned him. The pas- 
sion does not seem to have been a deep one, but its frus- 


tration had to him a wide significance ; it came as a most 
poignant reminder of the intense, unquenchable yearning 
of his human nature for close human affection, which all 
his wanderings in the ideal world had left unsatisfied. The 
revulsion and despair may have taken no such extreme 
form as the attempt at suicide portrays, yet may have 
been hardly less profound. The worldly success which 
Howard afterward wins is far from a representation of 
anything that came to William Smith. But the brief 
sentence which tells of " equanimity of mind " acquired 
hints at the truth. It is characteristic of the writer that 
even in the disguise of fiction he makes no appeal to ad- 
miration and little even to pity. So much of his story as 
was fair theme for satire, and perhaps for warning, he 
would give and no more. Only at the catastrophe of 
the poem's failure, and again at the final climax, the easy 
self-command and self -derision passes for a moment into 
profound pathos. The power to tell the story in such a 
vein of composure best marks the self-conquest that had 

But in actual life the conflicting elements which strive 
for mastery in a soul rarely work out a stable equilib- 
rium in a single encounter. Not in one battle, nor in one 
campaign, does even the victorious man conquer a lasting 
peace. When we read in the Epistle to the Romans of 
man's struggle with sin, emerging in the triumphant cry, 
" I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord ! " we 
may be pretty sure that as a personal experience some- 
thing like this happened to Paul, not once, but many 
times, after he wrote the Epistle as well as before. There 
may be one critical fight which is a turning-point in the 
war, or there may be several, but the enemy never capit- 

To William Smith, meditation was always an enchant- 
ress, but her spell was in part a rightful one. His task 
was to keep her in place as friend, as helper, as queen 
even, but not to let her enslave him. 



THE story of the next few years is now to be told by 
the wife. For a true view of his character, her descrip- 
tion is the fit supplement to such self-disclosure as our 
last chapter contains. Self-portraiture is always incom- 
plete. A man can tell his own thoughts and feelings bet- 
ter than any one else, but a further and essential measure 
of his character is the impression he makes on others. 

The reader will have felt a note of sadness predominat- 
ing in the self -disclosure. He will recognize as the prom- 
inent feature in the wife's portrayal the beauty and charm 
of character. The two aspects are to be accepted, not 
only as equally real, but as helping to interpret each 
other. He locked up the sadness in his Own heart ; no 
gloom, no shadow was cast by it upon the lives around 
him ; the only expression it found was in the hue it lent 
to his writings, where it was ennobled by association with 
lofty thought. That gracious and winning aspect which 
he wore not only to his devoted wife, but in a degree to all 
who knew him, including natures as masculine and ro- 
bust as Lewes and Sterling, derived its sweetness in 
part from the firm self-control with which his melancholy 
was held shut in his own breast. There is no finer chem- 
istry than that by which the element of suffering is so 
compounded with spiritual forces that it issues to the 
world as gentleness and strength. 

Of the events which the wife's pen now traces, it may 
summarily be said that in them we see the man getting 
gradual and sure hold of his proper work. He was born 


to think and write ; and now, his writing in the field of 
poetry and romance having met with no extended success 
or encouragement, he learns by degrees what wares he 
can supply that the market calls for. He finds a channel 
for his work in the great periodicals, and less in original 
creation than in reviewing the work of others, a func- 
tion for which he is admirably fitted. At the same time 
he has so honestly and thoroughly mastered the theory of 
his nominal profession, the law, that, though accomplish- 
ing nothing whatever in its actual practice, he can give 
clear and effectual exposition to the new applications of 
its principles which society needs. And meantime we see 
him cultivating a cordial fellowship with men of generous 
tastes and various pursuits, while he has no small share 
of domestic happiness. The dreaming poet depicted in 
" Wild Oats " has schooled himself to play well his part 
as a man among men. 

Thus, then, runs the wife's story : 

(from the Memoir.) 

In 1836 and 1837 my husband wrote several articles 
for the " Quarterly Review," in reference to which I find 
some notes from Lockhart, at that time its editor. These, 
and a few other letters that I shall presently refer to, had 
been put aside by William long years ago, and first came 
to sight again after our marriage, when a box of stored- 
away books was sent to him at Brighton. I remember 
well that his first impulse was to destroy these letters, but 
I pleaded for their preservation, and they were therefore 
consigned to another stationary and seldom-opened box, 
and thus escaped the doom of every justly appreciating 
written tribute paid him in later years the flames. I 
can recall a note from Mr. J. S. Mill, in the autumn of 
1865, alluding in his large-hearted generous way to certain 
lectures William had delivered at Kensington more than 
twenty years before (lectures of which I had heard him 


make a casual and disparaging mention), and that note 
I meant to abstract and preserve ; but when I rummaged 
my husband's little desk, which always stood open to my 
inspection, I could not find it ; the note had been burnt ! 
But to return to the " Quarterly." It appears that Mr. 
Lockhart did not wish it to transpire that William Smith's 
articles were those of a young and unknown writer. In one 
of the notes I find, " I have heard nothing but good of 
your paper on Landor, and I am sure it has told tenfold 
the more from no one knowing as yet where it came from. 
Be it so with Mr. Bulwer. You will lose nothing in the 
issue." Never surely did editor find a contributor more 
conveniently willing to suppress himself ! Two of these 
articles were on legal subjects, one on Sir Harris Nic- 
olas, a kind friend of my husband's, at whose house he 
was in the habit of meeting interesting society, one was 
on Modern Science, and the remaining two on Landor 
and Bulwer. 

I wish I could more distinctly trace William Smith's 
legal experiences. I know that he studied every branch 
of law that a solicitor can practice, before he began to 
read for the bar with a Mr. Brodie. I think that it must 
have been in 1838 that he was called to the bar at the 
Middle Temple. Although I have spoken of office routine 
as irksome to him, yet in the history and philosophy of 
jurisprudence he always found vivid interest, and would 
recommend the study as eminently favorable to the best 
development of the mind. Certainly he never regretted 
in later years having undergone this legal training. 
Perhaps he owed to it the rare tempering of lively imag- 
ination by shrewdest common sense, of quick feeling by 
dispassionate judgment. But in his early days the bias 
towards a life devoted to poetry and abstract thought was 
too strong to be resisted without suffering, and the com- 
bining professional study with literary pursuits must have 
been a strain upon a frame that was never a strong one. 


On no point was his counsel to the young more strenuous 
than in regard to the dangers of such divided allegiance. 
Here are some words of his on the subject : " It is a 
piece of advice we would give to every man, but especially 
to the student, Harmonize your labours. If ambition 
prompt you to mingle two conflicting studies that will not 
accord, that breed perpetual civil war in the mind, we 
charge you to fling away ambition. If the higher and 
more beloved study be it science, or poetry, or philos- 
ophy will not yield, then choose at once for it and pov- 
erty, if such must be the alternative. Better anything 
than a ruined, disordered mind ; or, if you prefer the ex- 
pression, than a confirmed cerebral disease." We shall 
find the writer of this passage making such decided 
choice by and by. But the time had not yet come. 

In 1839 William Smith published "A Discourse on 
Ethics of the School of Paley." ... It was also in 1839 
that my husband, having been introduced by Mr. Warren 
to the Messrs. Blackwood, wrote his first article, entitled 
" A Prosing on Poetry," for their magazine. Thus began 
a much valued connection, that endured to the end of his 
life, and an uninterrupted friendship. His contributions 
were very varied tales, adaptations from foreign litera- 
ture, at first intermingled with reviews. Later the articles 
became more exclusively critical and devoted to philosoph- 
ical subjects. I have the whole series, bound up in eight 
volumes, containing a hundred and twenty papers, not one 
of them hastily or carelessly written, not one that does not 
contain unbiassed criticism and earnest thought. I often 
look at the volumes regretfully; so much wisdom and 
charm of style seem buried there forgotten ! But I can- 
not doubt that these contributions did good work in their 
day, enlarged and enriched many a kindred mind, woke 
inquiry and diffused toleration. Some years ago Mr. 
Blackwood proposed to reprint a selection from them, but 
my husband declined; and though he still would from 


habit tear out and lay aside his articles, I found written 
on a paper that contained all these of later date, " To be 
burnt when " In that one instance I could not 
obey him. 

In 1840 William Smith published a pamphlet on " Law 
Reform," written in his own easy, lucid style, " for the 
general reader," and calling not only for certain changes 
that have since taken place, but for several now under 

I think that about this time my husband's life must 
have been peculiarly pleasant. He was still living with 
the mother who so loved him, and whom he so loved ; 
there were cheerful homes of married brothers and sisters, 
where he was always eagerly welcomed, depended upon 
on social occasions to make the " party go off well " by 
his bright talk and smile, and he had besides his own 
circle of personal friends, amongst whom I may name 
George Henry Lewes, Samuel Warren, the author of 
" The Correlation of Physical Forces " (now Mr. Justice 
Grove), Frederick Denison Maurice, and John Sterling. 
I have before alluded to his habit of underestimating 
perhaps I should rather say his inability to realize the 
amount of the regard he inspired. Hence, while delight- 
ing to enlarge upon the special merits of more successful 
men, he would touch very lightly upon his own inter- 
course with them. But from other sources I know some- 
thing of the charm they found in his society, and the re- 
gret with which they lost sight of him ; and I shall here 
copy a letter of Sterling's, the man of all others, I have 
heard my husband say, whom he could have best loved, 
both because it is interesting in itself, and proves the 
value Sterling set upon his friend : 

CLIFTON, January 6, 1840. 

MY DEAR SMITH, I have very little time for writing 
any but the most indispensable letters before I leave England. 
Yours, however, is too kind, and gave me too much unexpected 


pleasure, to be left unacknowledged. I attach little value to the 
contents of my volume as poems ; but had my judgment of them 
been different, no corroboration of it from others could give me 
the kind of gratification which I derive from finding that you 
sometimes think of me, and return so cordially the regard which 
I must always feel for you. The future is with me still more 
uncertain than with most people, but if any among the strange 
chances of life should bring us within reach of each other, I 
should consider it a more unalloyed advantage and pleasure than 
most of those which life affords. As to the professorship, my 
suggestion in answer to Mill's inquiry whether I knew of a fit- 
ting person would have been the same had I known of you only 
what I have read in your writings. There was at that time 
some reason to imagine the stars might be turned from their 
courses for once, and the Glasgow professors from jobbing. It 
would have been, of course, very pleasant to see you in your 
right place, and I still trust that some opportunity may arise of 
having you established as a public teacher. 

I should be very glad to know something of what you are 
about, and also to have some accounts of Theyre and of Wei- 
gall, to both of whom pray remember me warmly. I leave 
this on Friday for Falmouth, whence I am to embark for Ma- 
deira. I have had a long and severe illness, and at one time 
seemed hardly likely to recover. It is still very doubtful 
whether I can face another English winter, and I may very pos- 
sibly be afloat again on this yeasty world, with a wife and 
four children to lighten my movements. At all events I shall 
be always Affectionately yours, 


In connection with this faint hope of a Glasgow chair, 
to which the letter alludes, I find two notes of Mr. J. S. 
Mill's, full of friendly cooperation and interest ; but 
highly as my husband esteemed the post of Professor of 
Moral Philosophy in a Scotch University, I am sure that 
the whole scheme arose entirely from the zeal of a few 
friends, and that its impracticability gave him no sense of 
disappointment. I never heard him dwell upon it. 


Mr. Lewes has sent me his reminiscences of his friend, 
which I gratefully transcribe here, though they refer to a 
somewhat later period. 

It was, I think, early in the year 1842, that I first made the 
acquaintance of William Smith, an acquaintance that very rap- 
idly grew into a friendship over which no cloud ever crossed. 
Our ways of life separated us, and we saw but little of each 
other during the last twenty years, but the separation was of 
bodies only, not of minds. He was at first what I knew him at 
last, one of the few men deservedly called distinguished, a gen- 
uine and individual nature not in any degree factitious or com- 
monplace. He was himself, and all his sentiments and opinions 
were his own, not echoes or compromises. In spite of his shy- 
ness there was an affectionate expansiveness in his manner which 
irresistibly attracted me, and although I always spoke of him as 
** Little Smith," the epithet, absurd enough coming from one no 
bigger than himself, only expressed the sort of tender feeling 
one has for a woman. So far from its implying any assumption 
of superiority, I regarded him not only as my elder, but in many 
respects my superior; and in the height of our discussions, 
which were incessant, my antagonism was always tempered by 
that veneration which one irresistibly feels in presence of a gen- 
uine nature. It was this genuineness and his keen, flexible sym- 
pathy which formed the great charm of his society. One felt 
thoroughly at home with him at once. 

At that time he had lodgings in Pembroke Square, Kensing- 
ton. [This was after his mother's death.] I lived in the same 
square, so that we saw each other frequently ; though it was I 
who mostly had to pay the visit, his reserve making him less 
willing to come in to me. He led a lonely, uncomfortable life, 
as such a man in lodgings inevitably must, unless he goes into 
society. I used to preach to him against his waste of time in 
desultory study, and his injudicious arrangements of the hours 
of work. In vain. Like most literary men, he had a prejudice 
in favour of night work, and would fritter away the precious 
hours of morning, taking little exercise, and less relaxation. I 
used to tell him that marriage was the only safety for him, 
uml so it proved. So affectionate a nature could not be content 
vith studv and work ; the heart claimed its own. 


There was another point on which I used to preach with 
equal unsuccess the waste of his fine mind in metaphysical 
research. This was a standing subject of controversy. His pro- 
found seriousness and restless desire to get to the bottom of 
every subject made him cling pertinaciously to even the faintest 
hope of a possible answer to those questions which for centuries 
have vexed speculative minds, and no failure could discourage 

We were always battling, yet never once did we get even near 
a quarrel. On many points wide as the poles asunder, we man- 
aged to mangle each other's arguments without insult, and 
whenever opposition seemed verging towards the excitation of 
temper, some playful remark or wild paradox of retort was ready 
to clear the air with laughter. In this way we " travelled over 
each other's minds," and travelled over the universe. On mat- 
ters of poetry and criticism we were more at one; but even 
there, precisely because Smith had his own views, his own mode 
of looking at things, there was an endless charm in listening to 
him and differing from him. Till deep into the night we would 
sit " talking of lovely things that conquer death ; " and I seem 
now to see the sweet smile and lustrous eye fixed on me, and 
hear his pleasant voice playfully uttering some fine truth. One 
of the noticeable points in him was the lambent playfulness, 
combined with great seriousness, the subtle humour and the 
subtle thought, which gave a new aspect to old opinions, so that 
we may say of him what Goethe says of Schiller, that 

" Hinter ihm, im wesenlosen Scheme, 
Lag, was uns Alle baudigt das Gemeine." 



WE have followed far on the track of the man's life ; 
we have seen him with the eyes of his associates, of him- 
self, and of the wife of later years; and yet we have 
not faced, except in glimpses, the field of his deepest en- 
ergies, or the truest manifestation of his character. For 
that, we must consider the religious problem of the age, 
as he met it and as his contemporaries met it. 

The effort of the religious mind has always been to dis- 
cern a relation between the human soul and the power 
which governs the universe ; a relation which shall guide 
man's action, shall support him under all calamities and 
fears, and shall justify a perfect trust and hope. Chris- 
tianity in its own way affirmed such a relation. The 
stumbling-block which in our age the religious mind has 
found in Christianity was, in the first instance, that the 
divine government of human destiny which it presented 
appeared in one respect unjust and inhuman. William 
Smith has set forth his own early experience, under the 
guise of Cyril's revolt against the doctrine of eternal pun- 
ishment. In a word : " A government of mankind unjust 
and inhuman therefore uuworshipful therefore in- 
credible ! " 

The dogma of eternal perdition had not been inconsist- 
ent with the general sentiment and practice of Europe in 
earlier times. The right of every human being to life, 
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness may in our day be 
an axiom ; to the mediaeval world it would have been a 
paradox. Through the laws and manners of those centu- 


ries there runs a deep vein of savagery. Into the lineage 
of Christendom, the Jew brought a full share of " Asia's 
rancor ; " the Roman after an insurrection lined his high- 
ways with crucified slaves; the Northern people were a 
fierce, fighting stock. The mild genius of early Chris- 
tianity, fusing with such elements, in a degree softened 
them, and in a degree received their impress. The practi- 
cal attitude of society toward the heretic, the criminal, 
and the infidel was such as accorded not ill with the be- 
lief that Divine Justice assigned a part of its erring 
creatures to hopeless ruin. But, in the new growth of 
society, man had now come to feel more tenderly to his 
fellows, and also to think more highly of himself as man. 
Christianity itself, in its best phases, had toiled with a 
new ardor of compassion for the unfortunate classes. 
While the philosophers of the eighteenth century taught 
man to think of himself as something better than a guilty 
worm, while Rousseau gave expression to a great impulse 
of universal brotherhood, it was also largely due to 
churchmen like the Wesleys and John Howard, and to 
the reformers of English jurisprudence, that Englishmen 
were coming to feel that the wicked and the degraded 
ought to be saved rather than to be cursed by their fel- 
low-men. By their fellow-men then why not by their 
Maker ? That was the startling question with which prac- 
tical Christianity turned back on theoretical Christianity. 
On just this ground the father of John Stuart Mill broke 
away from Christianity altogether ; to him and to his 
greater son, " the omnipotent author of hell " was incred- 
ible, impossible. So for many others the whole fabric of 
Christianity went down because of this terrible dogma. 

" But why reject the whole ? Why give up a historical 
revelation of God to man, the divine Christ, the faith 
and aspiration ripened by eighteen hundred years, be- 
cause some elements of superstition and horror have min- 
gled with it, and ought now to be abandoned ? " So felt 


and reasoned those men, at once reverent and progressive, 
who remained within the Christian church, and, against 
the inertia or hostility of its blindly conservative elements, 
introduced gradually a more humane and rational teach- 
ing. And far more extensive than any explicit renuncia- 
tion of the dogma of hopeless perdition has been its fad- 
ing into dimness and unreality in most of those who still 
think they believe it. 

But for another class of minds, the first difficulty, a 
moral difficulty, led the way to another, an intellectual 
difficulty. Impelled to reject one article of the church's 
creed, they were forced upon the inquiry, On what au- 
thority does this entire creed rest ? Modify this body of 
doctrine if you will ; make its assertions conform to our 
highest ideals and aspirations ; enthrone pure justice and 
benevolence over the universe ; but, after all, be the creed 
made ever so beautiful and attractive, how do we know 
that it is true? What foundation of known fact sup- 
ports it ? 

The old answer had been, " The church declares it." 
The mystic, infallible authority of the church has been 
asserted with so potent an appeal to the imagination and 
to religious sentiment, that even in our own day a few of 
the finest minds and an army of the less intelligent re- 
spond to it. But the sturdier intellect of Europe has 
long since concluded that Leo Tenth had no access to the 
divine counsels beyond what Luther had ; that neither 
baptismal water nor consecrating oil nor papal tiara gives 
any initiation into mysteries hid from common eyes. 
But though there be no infallibility of popes or councils, 
yet in the Bible Protestants still hold we have an infalli- 
ble book, or, at the least, a trustworthy historical account 
of a direct revelation made by God to man, consummated 
in the divine life and teaching of Christ. And on this 
Protestantism planted itself. 

Now, while these ecclesiastical controversies have been 


in progress, for some three centuries past another kind of 
inquiry has been going on. Man has been engaged, with 
immense interest and growing success, in finding out by 
actual, close scrutiny, what kind of a world he is living in, 
what the generations before him were, what his body is, 
and in fine, what he is himself. For a long while the 
church had undertaken to tell him all it was necessary to 
know about these things. "The church," well, after 
all it appeared that the church was simply a company of 
his fellow-men. Certainly they could not tell him all he 
wanted to know; assuredly this company of his fellows 
should no longer forbid him to use his eyes and his 
mind for such knowledge as lay in them to acquire ! The 
Catholic Church was very confident that it knew all about 
God and the unseen and future worlds ; the church's re- 
volted daughters, too, the Protestant sects, were well as- 
sured on these themes. So be it, then ; let churchmen of 
all shades hold their knowledge or belief about God and 
heaven and hell ; very likely they may be right. But here 
meanwhile is this seen and present world, with its rocks 
and plants and animals and human creatures, and its 
stars above ; let us find out all we can about these ! Un- 
der this impulse has grown all that wonderful knowledge 
of which we speak as science. 

Now, after a while, this accumulation of knowledge, 
and this way of regarding man and the world, must needs 
encounter the assertions which the church has been mak- 
ing as to how the universe is governed, where man came 
from, where he is going to, and how he ought to conduct 
himself. And true science, in its exact and scrupulous 
fashion, will make here no sweeping affirmation or denial 
as to the vast and various body of tenets which are laid 
down by individual churches, or by all churches in com- 
mon. To some of the most familiar ideas of Christian 
theology, men of the scientific habit will generally be 
opposed ; as to other ideas, they may be favorable, or 


divided among themselves ; and as to yet others, it may 
be generally agreed that science proper has nothing to say 
pro or con ; in other words, that they are not matters on 
which we can have clear and definite knowledge, though 
they may perhaps have a place and a weight in human 

The broadest result of scientific inquiry has been the 
discovery, in every quarter to which its researches could 
penetrate, of a regular order in the succession of events. 
It has traced a definite and fixed relation of cause and ef- 
fect running through all the phenomena of nature, even in 
those which in earlier ages could be referred only to the 
inscrutable will and pleasure of God. In the movements 
of the whirlwind and of the planets, in eclipses and me- 
teors, in pestilence and famine, science has traced the ex- 
istence of sure, unvarying causes. In a word, the steady 
tendency of science has been to suggest a perfect unity, 
an unvarying order, through all the known creation. 

Now this idea of universal order collides at several 
points with the traditional conceptions of Christian theol- 
ogy. It is unfavorable to the belief in a rebellious and 
hostile power forever warring against the Supreme ruler, 
and an early infraction of man's normal relations, fol- 
lowed by a costly and imperfect retrieval. It is unfavor- 
able to the belief in a habitual interruption of the natu- 
ral order of events by special divine interventions. And 
meantime the study of history has discovered a natural 
genesis of " miracles," not as wilful impostures, but as 
products of a fervid and untrained imagination. And at 
last the inevitable issue is raised, Were the phenomena 
recorded of the birth of Christianity the genuine creden- 
tials of an authoritative revelation from Heaven to man ? 
Or were those miracles simply an imaginative dress, in- 
vesting the central fact of a very noble but only human 
personality ? 

It is through the acceptance of the latter conclusion 


that the authority of Christianity has been undermined, 
for most of those who in our day disown its claim. The 
moral revolt against some articles of the Christian creed 
might have found satisfaction, and has for many found 
ample satisfaction, in the modification of that creed. But 
others, like William Smith, who began from the moral 
difficulty, have been drawn by that stream to the river of 
scientific thought, and by this influence carried completely 
away from belief in an authoritative revelation. 

But for such minds there still remain the great topics 
of natural religion, man's moral nature, the existence 
and nature of God r and whatever grounds of achievement 
and aspiration and hope may exist for the human spirit. 
Say that there be no infallible oracle in these provinces of 
thought, none the less is it a possibility, a necessity, of 
the human mind to explore them. It is only the long 
habit of depending upon authoritative teaching that makes 
all religious knowledge and belief seem dependent on such 
a teacher. The whole progress of modern knowledge has 
been made under this condition, that man must not blindly 
follow authority, but must find out for himself. Just so 
is it with religious truth. The renunciation of authorita- 
tive Christianity brings a mind like Wijliam Smith's only 
to the threshold of its task. 

The men who have been named as his early associates 
or acquaintances Maurice, Sterling, Grove, Lewes, and 
Mill fairly represent or suggest the principal tenden- 
cies of thought in the mind of the English-speaking people 
in the middle period of this century. Maurice became a 
leader of that Broad Church movement to which Cole- 
ridge and Dr. Arnold had given the impulse. Theyre 
Smith, too, was one of the progressive churchmen. (The 
High Church school has no representative in the group ; 
neither has the Evangelical.) Sterling was the pupil of 
Coleridge, then of Carlyle, two representatives of the 
intuitional philosophy. Grove, author of " The Correla- 


tion of Forces," well typifies the achievements of pure 
science. Lewes was a leader in that company of Positiv- 
ists who addressed themselves to working out the con- 
crete problems of society, abandoning all quest toward 
the divine as hopeless. Mill wrought vigorously in the 
philosophy which limits knowledge to the sphere of the 
visible and tangible, and in broad problems of society and 
politics. 1 

These various currents have agitated this century, as 
torrents swollen in spring-time stir into turmoil some 
mountain lake. Only when the tumult has abated does it 
appear that the tranquillized surface overlies a deeper 
volume. There have been some men whose minds were 
like the very meeting-points of the currents, and among 
such men were Arthur Hugh Clough and William Smith. 

1 See Appendix. 



THE two men just named had this as their common 
peculiarity, that, deeply religious by nature, they found 
themselves in the light of modern knowledge unable to 
accept Christianity as a supernatural revelation, and were 
absorbed in the effort to discern, apart from such revela- 
tion, an object for man's supreme allegiance, love, and 

It is no wonder that men who gave themselves unre- 
servedly to this quest should have been drawn far apart 
from the ordinary activities and associations of men. To 
those, on the one side of them, who were devoted to the 
pursuits of science or the positive philosophy, they seemed 
to be hopelessly wasting their time and strength. By the 
churchmen, on the other hand, they were likely to be re- 
garded with a mixture of pity and aversion. That active 
religious life to which the churchman of the best type de- 
votes himself has for its object the promotion of the high- 
est virtue and the purest happiness. Now that field of in- 
quiry whose doors were inexorably thrown open before 
such minds as Clough and William Smith, offers at the 
outset a vast tract of doubt, vast, perhaps interminable ! 
And doubt, so long as it possesses the mind, is the certain 
foe of happiness, and seems a menace to the fairest forms 
of virtue. 

But what is the spirit of the unsparing truth-seeker ? 
It is a spirit that has played no small part in our day : the 
interest in William Smith's personality is that he, like 
Clough, was a singularly pure type of it. Delicate as he 


appeared, sensitive, fastidious, over-fine for practical 
uses, his spirit was under one consistent, unswerving, 
all-powerful sway, the search for truth. Choice it could 
hardly be called, and purpose is too weak a word for 
the passion of his life. The impartiality of his intellect 
equalled his singleness of aim. All truth was sacred to 
him ; he must needs listen reverently to the churchman, 
to the man of science, to the metaphysician, to the mystic. 
To blend their various glimpses of reality into one clear, 
full disclosure, was the intense and constant effort of his 
nature. Yet, so long as the facts did not agree in their 
testimony, he would not and could not betake himself to 
any harmony gained by some suppression, some refusal to 

Such a quest carried with it conditions of severe priva- 
tion. Heaviest privation of all was the withholding from 
the soul of that clear vision of a divine and perfect beauty 
which it thirsted to behold and to adore. There was the 
deprivation, too, of that organized social assistance in the 
highest life, which is a deep necessity of the religious man, 
and for which the church had made abundant provision, 
but on the basis of beliefs which to minds like these were 
no longer tenable. And there was laid upon them an in- 
ability to declare a positive and confident gospel to man- 
kind, a disqualification for that preaching of good tid- 
ings which is one of the highest joys and firmest sup- 
ports of the human spirit. The religious inquirer, until 
his quest was satisfied, and a lifetime might prove too 
short to satisfy it, had no clear message to give of in- 
spiration, comfort, or triumph : he could only commune 
with his own heart and be still. 

Yet the men who stood thus alone, and seemingly aside 
from the splendid activities of the age, were taking a fore- 
most part in the age's most vital work. They were learn- 
ing the conditions under which was to be possible hence- 
forth the noblest life of man, that life which is faithful 


alike to the love of truth, the love of men, and the love of 

What is in a word the essential difficulty which con- 
fronts the man who is at once devout in spirit and candid 
in thought when he essays to worship ? It is the presence 
of evil. The object of religious worship must be the 
supreme power of the universe. That power is disclosed 
to us by the facts of existence which we experience and 
observe. At the threshold of experience and observation, 
and on to their farthest earthly limit, we encounter some 
things which we can only call evil. The heart feels within 
itself, mixed with nobler qualities, elements of weakness, 
of sin, and of seeming chaos. The world of humanity, 
broadly surveyed, presents an appalling degree of misery 
and wrong, evils which man's noblest impulses bid him to 
seek to remove. How, in the presence of these facts of 
existence, is it possible to view the supreme author of ex- 
istence with reverence or with trust ? That is the old, old 
difficulty of the religious intellect. One answer after an- 
other has been offered, has satisfied for a while, and has 
at last failed to satisfy. Yet surviving all failures has 
been the impulse to revere, to trust, and to love the author 
of all. If now Christianity, too, shall fail as an answer to 
the problem, if its philosophy of a fall and a redemp- 
tion seem unworthy, if its credentials of a supernatural 
message appear untrustworthy, if its central figure prove 
but a human personality deified by loving imagination, 
must, then, this old impulse to worship God be given up 
at last as outgrown childishness ? Yes, said the church- 
man, that is the inevitable result ; therefore hold fast to 
the supernatural revelation and the divine Christ, no 
matter what so-called science, history, and reason may al- 
lege. Yes, said the Positivist, with Christianity perishes 
all worship of divinity : therefore follow science, history, 
reason, and learn to live without a God ! Said a few oth- 
ers, though through long years only in the silence of their 


own hearts : " Let us learn all that science, history, and 
reason can teach ; let us give up, since so we must, the 
belief in any supernatural message ; yet let us think, live, 
wait, in the hope that the power sustaining the universe 
will prove the worthy object of the highest allegiance, rev- 
erence, and rapture that man can give." 

These two men, Clough and William Smith, were among 
the purest exemplars of this spirit. As to their intellec- 
tual traits, while both were richly endowed with both the 
logical and the imaginative faculties, yet of the two 
Clough was rather the poet and Smith the philosopher. 
Among Clough's verses, deeply shadowed as a whole by 
doubt and struggle, are a few which shine out like the 
radiant gleams of sunshine in a cloudy November day. 
Some of them are among the most inspiring expressions 
we possess of a faith which rises serene and victorious in 
the mind that cannot yet formulate and explain its con- 
victions. And even these poems seem not to give ade- 
quate expression to the deeper peace which came with 
Clough's later years, and came, alas for us ! along with so 
much of outward occupation as silenced the poetic voice. 
But of Clough this seems always the characteristic, that, 
while fully facing all the considerations which can be 
brought before the deliberative intellect, and accepting 
whatever can be fairly established before that tribunal, 
he yet at last follows hope and trust under some impulse 
which is beyond analysis. He is content without definite 
proof, and with only the most general conclusion. It is 
the intellectual man to whom his poems appeal, but the 
deepest appeal is not to his logic or analysis but to the 
man. " Hope evermore and believe ! " Hope what, be- 
lieve why? He scarcely tells us, but the grand verse 
moves our hearts irresistibly ; we obey it as we obey 
Life itself, which also does not give its reasons. 

We shall find, too, that some of William Smith's 
weightiest words address something in us which lies deeper 


than analysis. But the general characteristic of his mind 
was to seek a perfect lucidity. He desired not only to 
trust, but to understand. He had that longing for re- 
ality which belongs to every truth-seeker, and he also 
wanted clear and definite reality. He was inclined to dis- 
trust any idea or any assertion which could not give an 
intelligible account of itself in the language of plain rea- 
son. Probably, the natural bent of his mind had been 
strengthened by his early education in Scotch metaphys- 
ics, and by his long training in the science of law, which 
tolerates nothing vague or indefinite. One might say that 
his mind was English in its instinct for reality and con- 
creteness ; Scotch in its tendency to metaphysics, which 
essays definite analysis of the most abstract subjects ; and 
French in its clearness and grace ; while it held in sus- 
picion that mysticism which belongs to the Teutonic 
genius, and of which it had by inheritance its full share. 
There were indeed in him strong elements of imagina- 
tion, poetry, and feeling ; and apparently from the very 
liveliness of his emotional nature he drew a Varning 
against letting feeling encroach one step on the domain of 
reason. He habitually treats the poetic faculty as only a 
graceful and pleasing way of stating things ; the substance 
and essence of things being determinable only by the 
severer faculties. He thus excludes, at least in set terms, 
from the highest tribunal the testimony of that vivified, 
interior perception, of which Wordsworth and Emerson 
are the highest expressions in literature, and which be- 
longs to the religious mystic of whatever creed. He ex- 
cludes this witness in set terms and in theory ; but his 
nature was too wide to forbid generous inconsistency, 
and, as if in spite of his severer self, he sometimes gives 
exquisite expression to the mystic's sense of "the light 
that never was on sea or land." But as a philosopher, he 
belonged to the more exact and scientific school, and this 
although he was perpetually attracted to themes which 


merge in the infinite, and transcend all finite expression. 
A friend, Dr. Lietch, wrote of him after his death that a 
habitual expression, characteristic of his whole thought, 
was " Yes ; but I want to know definitely." 

If the higher realities and relations of man's nature 
can never find perfect expression in exact and scientific 
terms, yet to William Smith, and to his generation as well 
as our own, there was set as legitimate and as vast a task 
for philosophy as ever was given to man. An immense 
volume of new knowledge is being furnished by science 
in its various branches, -It is the office of philosophy to 
mould the new with the old knowledge into some approx- 
imate conception of man in his entirety, and of the uni- 
verse in its spiritual as well as external relations. It is 
the work of the philosopher to discover the harmony 
which unites the various facts of existence. It is the 
hope of the religious philosopher to discern that there ex- 
ists not only harmony, but moral order and divine benefi- 

This,"then, was the inquiry, immense, many-sided, per- 
petually recurring, which engaged and fascinated the 
man we are contemplating through all his earthly years. 
His life went on meantime in other functions. He found 
worthy and congenial literary work, upon themes less ab- 
struse. He became almost by profession a literary critic. 
He saw and studied and pictured, in essays, letters, 
dramas, the beauties of nature, the works of art, the 
various play of human life. But in his own musings he 
perpetually reverted to the greatest problems of all ; and 
it was as material for these problems that art and nature 
and humanity had for him their deepest interest. 

Must, then, Religion stand idle until Philosophy works 
out its question ? Must the ship drift on an aimless 
course so long as its master cannot get a clear observa- 
tion of the heavenly bodies ? The best answer is given 
by individual lives such as our generation has witnessed 


not a few, and of which Clough and William Smith are 
typical. In their most troubled periods, we see neither of 
them failing in moral fidelity. In each there was always 
recognized by his associates a rare quality of purity and 
of sweetness. There was forbidden to them such kinds 
of beneficent labor as are wrought by the reformer of 
society or the apostle of an ardent faith. They were 
withdrawn to lonelier tasks, tasks which even to their own 
hearts seemed often to promise no outcome of good to the 
world. But there is a virtue of silence and humility, 
which may be not less noble than the zeal of the reformer 
or the apostle. 

By the unquestioning believer, any religion which the 
speculative inquirer may possess is likely to be regarded 
as cold. Whatever excellence it may have, he thinks, it 
cannot know the tenderness, the ardor, which belong to 
the worshipper of Christ. We are told that a young niece 
of William Smith, with the self-assertion of early youth, 
once tried to force upon him some theological discussion, 
and by way of reply he put into her hand these verses : 

There is a sweetness in the world's despair, 

There is a rapture of serenity, 
When, severed quite from earthly hope or care, 

The heart is free to suffer or to die. 

The crown, the palm, of saints in Paradise, 
My wearied spirit doth not crave to win, 

Breathe in thy cup, O Christ, of agonies, 
Breathe thy deep love, and let me drink therein. 

To weep as thou hast wept, I ask no more, 
Be mine the sorrows that were known to thee ; 

To the bright heavens I have no strength to soar, 
But I would find thee on thy Calvary. 

But he that loseth his life shall save it ; and in the 
truth-seeker's self-renunciation there is a prophecy of a 
sunrise beyond the darkness, not for himself alone, but for 


the world. Clough, in " The New Sinai," represents the 
resolute abandonment of a creed become incredible, as the 
Israelites left behind them the gods of Egypt : 

Though old Religion shake her head 

And say in bitter grief, 
" The day behold, at first foretold, 

Of atheist unbelief," 
Take better part, with manly heart, 

Thine adult spirit can ; 
Receive it not, believe it not, 

Believe it not, O Man ! 

Then follows the view of the world as a mechanism of 
blind force, a view as dark as the cloud and blackness 
which wrapped Sinai when Moses went upon the mount ; 
the people going back to worship their old gods and the 
golden calf ; the " prophet-soul sublimely meek " seeking 
Deity within the cloud, the heart of man bidden mean- 
while neither to go back nor to despair. 

No God, it saith ; oh, wait in faith 

God's self -completing plan ; 
Receive it not, but leave it not, 
And wait it out, O Man ! 

Devout indeed, that priestly creed 

O Man, reject as sin ; 
The clouded hill attend thou still 

And him that went within. 

He yet shall bring some worthy thing 

For waiting souls to see : 
Some sacred word that he hath heard 

Their light and life shall be ; 
Some lofty part, than which the heart 

Adopt no nobler can, 
Thou shalt receive, thou shalt believe, 

And thou shalt do, O Man ! 



" In 1839," says the Memoir, " William Smith pub- 
lished 'A Discourse on Ethics of the School of Paley.' 
* The late Professor Ferrier ' (I quote from the obituary 
notice in the * Scotsman') 4 used to speak of this pam- 
phlet in bulk it is nothing more as one of the best 
written and most ingeniously reasoned attacks upon Cud- 
worth's doctrine that had ever appeared.' It is interest- 
ing to find that the favorite brother, Theyre, William's 
fellow-student at Glasgow, who had now for several 
years been a clergyman of the Church of England, and 
was Hulsean Lecturer in 1839-40, adopted the opposite 
standpoint, and in the notes to the second volume of his 
lectures vigorously contends against the theory put forth 
in the ' Discourse on Ethics,' while admitting, with evi- 
dent satisfaction, that it had never ' met with a more in- 
genious as well as eloquent advocate.' ' 

Could this paragraph have been read by William 
Smith, one fancies that a quiet smile might have played 
about his lips. It justly describes what the " Discourse 
on Ethics " purports to be, an argument upon one side 
of a long-debated and familiar question : namely, Whether 
the sense of moral obligation in man is an original and 
primary instinct, or a derived and compounded principle. 
It is an old theme of metaphysicians ; Christians and 
churchmen are found on both sides of the debate ; 'the au- 
thor of this treatise ranks himself under the banner of the 
orthodox Paley, and professes only to develop more fully 
a theory whose substance is virtually implied in Paley's 


avowals. If the line of his advance seems sometimes to 
run along perilous ground, yet his flank is always care- 
fully protected ; he is writing, so he reminds us, only 
about what we know by the light of nature, and leaves 
untouched that inner stronghold of faith which is given 
by the revelations and sanctions of supernatural Christian- 
ity. The author's strong confidence in his own views is 
expressed always with perfect modesty, dignity, and com- 

It is impossible in a brief epitome to reproduce even 
the main lines of the discussion. Its leading proposition 
is embodied in this paragraph : 

The feeling of responsibility appears to issue at once full- 
formed from the recesses of the individual mind. Be happy ! 
Be virtuous ! are described as two distinct commands of nature, 
two great dictates of our being, which in general are in per- 
fect harmony, but of which the second is to take precedence 
whenever that harmony is disturbed. Now as an account of 
what is immediately felt by the moral man, this is not inaccu- 
rate. There are these two commands, Be happy ! Be virtuous ! 
and the second, from its nature, domineers over the first. But, 
nevertheless, the second, we say, is in fact a modification of the 
first; and this moral sentiment, however authoritative, is but a 
result of the play of our desires and the exercise of our reason, 
under a social condition of existence. 

Briefly stated : " Eight and wrong are good and evil 
with the authoritative stamp of general approval." In 
fuller words : Whatever action makes for human happi- 
ness is intrinsically good ; whatever makes for human 
misery is intrinsically bad. The mere perception that an 
action makes for happiness or misery carries with it a 
sort of command to seek or shun ; " the knowledge of 
what is best must bind a rational being." But this orig- 
inal rational impulse toward the "best," that is, to- 
ward the action which tends to produce happiness, is im- 
mensely reinforced in the individual by the voice of the 


community praising or blaming him; it gets such new 
force and color that new terms are needful to describe it, 
and the choice of the better or the worse is invested with 
the name of " right " and " wrong," with all the tremen- 
dous associations which gather about those words. The 
sense of morality is thus a creation of public opinion : 
" This moral sentiment, however authoritative, is but a re- 
sult of the play of our desires and the exercise of our rea- 
son, under a social condition of existence." But, having 
thus been developed by the social atmosphere, the moral 
sentiment acquires an independent authority, and the 
good man no longer governs himself by the opinions of 
his neighbors, but by his own conviction of right. 

The essential temper in which our essayist follows his 
quest is instanced in these words : 

There is mystery enough in and about our being, the world 
rolls on encompassed by it, and I am far from ranking myself 
with those who think there is no place and no recognition for it 
in a philosophic mind. But morality, which springs from and 
concerns the palpable business of men, ought not to be treated in 
a vein of mystery. Nothing is gained, even to our admiration, 
by endeavouring to invest our moral feelings at once in a sort of 
celestial panoply. The natural and true proportions of the hu- 
man mind, as of the human form, contain, after all, the only 
beauty ; it is of little use to deck the figure of humanity with 
painted wings that cannot fly, to the hindrance and disparage- 
ment of the natural limbs which Heaven has assigned to it. 

This is the keynote of the modern search into the na- 
ture of man as revealed in the history of man. The book 
is pervaded by the spirit of modern science, and much of 
its substance is an anticipation of what has been said, not 
with more force and eloquence, but with wider hearing, in 
later days. The force of its arguments of which not 
even the heads can be given here lies in the explana- 
ations they offer of broad facts of human society. We 
have a theory generated in an imaginative brooding upon 


a few certain facts of a period long past ; then we have 
the hypothesis tested by its adequacy to explain all the 
phenomena which lie within its field. It is assumed at 
the outset, on the ground of evidence now familiar and 
abundant, that mankind once existed in some primitive 
and savage state, whence some of its branches gradually 
rose to civilization. Then the student considers the ele- 
ments which must be found in the lowest state of man- 
kind we can imagine such as the sensitiveness to pain 
and pleasure, the feeling of anger and of affection, the 
sense of social sympathy. From these elements alone, he 
asks, could a moral sentiment be gradually educed? In 
imagination he follows out such a process. Then he in- 
quires : Does such an origin of the moral sense harmonize 
with what we know of the various forms and workings in 
which the moral sense actually displays itself among the 
various sorts of men ? Into the wide and rich field of il- 
lustration on which our author enters, space forbids us to 
follow him. Nor does it lie within our province to weigh 
his arguments against the opposite school. But we may 
give illustrations of the temper which pervades his discus- 
sion, enough to show that his theory banishes neither 
loftiness of motive, nor imaginative grandeur. 

No cramped horizon bounds his view ; splendors are 
not lacking to his vision of humanity. Below all the 
changes of time stands an abiding foundation. 

The only immutable morality is this, that the happiness of all 
be protected and cultivated. This is a precept which knows 
no change, an eternal truth, recognised, we may be sure, in 
every condition in every region wherein reasonable beings have 
their abode; and the spirit of benevolence which animates this 
precept is that unchangeable goodness which is virtue every- 
where, which is gold in all climes, that goodness which has 
its rest in the mind of the Eternal. 

There appears a singularly even appreciation of two 
different types of virtue, the self-sustained and the de- 
pendent : 


The same power which breaks and subdues to obedience 
also elevates to self-respect ; and the world, after having bound 
and tutored its pupil to its own service and allegiance, throws 
him back in an attitude of proud reliance upon himself. . . . 

And let me add that no man, because he views with just ad- 
miration the magnanimity of that virtue which suffices to itself, 
and is its own reward, ought to yield therefore a cold and reluc- 
tant praise of that humbler sentiment which clings with close 
dependence to the approbation of neighbours and of fellow-men. 
This last is the more frequent and perhaps the safer guide. He 
who should ta^e his conscience altogether from the keeping of 
society would place it in a perilous position. His proud inde- 
pendence might operate for evil, as well as for good. There is 
a limit to the boldness of virtue, and just on the other side of the 
boundary lies the boldness of crime. 

In the generous spirit there is apt to be a kind of im- 
patience with any theory which finds in happiness our 
" being's end and aim." The heart responds to Carlyle's 
stirring words : " There is in man a higher than love of 
happiness; he can do without happiness, and in place 
thereof find blessedness ! " Yet can we accept this senti- 
ment as sufficient for human nature's daily food ? Man is 
a poor creature truly unless he can endure the eclipse of 
happiness, but must he be willing that its sun should for- 
ever disappear from the sky ? To do justice to the two 
attitudes the defiant heroism which rises to a spiritual 
emergency, and on the other hand humanity's deep, persist- 
ent desire for happiness belongs only to a rare and well- 
poised mind ; such a mind as speaks in these words : 

To expect one tone of moral feeling from all mankind, what 
is it but to expect one mode of happiness, one temper of mind, 
one fortune, and one taste, from all the race of man ? He who, 
after familiarizing himself with the stern morality of the Stoic 
school, turns his observation upon some domestic scene of civil- 
ized life, and on the manners of amiable and enlightened men, 
feels that the rigid fortitude and ardour of endurance, which he 
has been contemplating, have here no place, no meaning, no 


purpose. A moral force of far more temperate and bland de- 
scription is quite sufficient for scenes, and for men, like these. 
Nay, if he looks at society in some aspects, he may be surprised 
to find how great a part of the business of life is transacted 
without the direct observable interference of a moral control, 
which seems rather to have prescribed to men at once their 
career, than to accompany them at each step of their progress. 
Men labour at their several callings all the world is abroad 
from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof in full 
activity, need and ambition constraining and impelling them, 
and only now and then, when a shock is given to the usual 
tenor of existence, do they raise serious question as to what the 
conscience will or will not permit. Habit does it all, and seems 
everywhere to ordain and to disallow. But if the same observer 
carries still further his examinations, he will not fail to discover 
some positions in life where the sternest moral resolution and a 
sort of desperation in virtue are not more than enough to pre- 
serve the mind from dejection, from utter overthrow, and total 
alienation from existence. Such positions produce what they 
require. A moral sentiment, strongly excited, and put to con- 
stant and severe task-work, becomes separated in the mind of 
its possessor from all that the world is accustomed to call hap- 
piness. The end of virtue is lost sight of in the efforts of vir- 
tue. It becomes its own end and purpose ; a virtue militant, 
contending for a cause apparently quite distinct from the hope- 
less and abandoned one of human felicity. 

I respect, I revere, the high tone of moral feeling which 
conducts to this state of opinion. Next to the cheerful calm 
of prosperous hours, what more valued boon can Providence 
bestow than this stubborn independent philosophy, so fitted to 
adverse and distressful seasons ? The afflicted spirit assumes 
a greatness which almost puts to shame the gay and the fortu- 
nate. The form of the moral hero is seen to dilate as the gloom 
falls around it. I respect, I say, this noble consolation which 
the virtuous man, beset by calamity, finds in the simple exag- 
gerated claim of virtue ; I leave him in undisturbed and im- 
perturbable possession of a philosophic faith which imparts new 
energies to a mind else drooping and self-deserted ; but I can- 
not consent to impose on all mankind a sentiment so exclusively 


r r v>ropriate to the position and temper of a few ; I cannot re- 
peat as dogmatic truth for the reception of all the world what 
the mind gives forth as truth for itself under peculiar circum- 
stances, and in the hour of its need and tribulation. If the 
heart of man, some gayer moralist might say, is to be thus con- 
sulted as an oracle of truth, why should we prefer its sadder to 
its more cheerful responses ? Why should we consult the oracle 
when invested in clouds and darkness, and not trust as well to 
what it utters when light is breaking upon all things, and it 
gives its answer in music to the morning beam ? The mind at 
ease says nothing of the vanity of all things, never decries the 
pursuit of reasonable pleasure, never divorces the claims of vir- 
tue from the cause of happiness. 

Throughout the book there is kept up in terms a care- 
ful distinction between the obligations of natural morality 
and whatever further sanctions may be derived from su- 
pernatural religion. " Religion has with us its distinct 
and proper source : we have Heaven's own word for what 
we believe of Heaven. The Christian . . . practises 
morality from motives which no system of ethics can 
supply." But it needs very little reading between the lines 
to discern that this formal recognition of Christianity as a 
distinct source of knowledge is purely for the benefit of a 
supposititious reader, and is not the conviction of the 
writer's own mind. The validity of supernatural revela- 
tion is not the issue he is discussing, nor has he any wish 
to discuss it. Upon himself the renunciation of it for 
that by this time the renunciation was complete in his 
mind is hardly to be doubted has been sadly, unwill- 
ingly forced : let others keep it if they may ; to an apos- 
tolate of denial he feels not the slightest vocation. So 
throughout his discussion of ethics he concedes as undis- 
puted ground whatever may be claimed for a sanction 
superadded by Heaven to the morality generated in the 
natural processes of society. 

Yet for well he knows that on the path he has 


silently trodden there will in time many follow yet he 
will share with his readers one keen, searching gaze into 
the inmost realm of human thought. He brings them to 
it, as it were, by a side-door, to consider the result that 
would follow from a hypothesis which they may consider 
purely fanciful ; so that from any unwelcome conclusions 
they may have an easy retreat. In the latter half of his 
closing chapter, he raises the question as if in mere spec- 
ulative curiosity : If we had no divine revelation, what 
could the unaided mind discern of God ? 

The displacement of the old religions by Christianity is 
simply mentioned as a fact, without discussing the sources 
whence the new faith sprang. In place of this, the essay- 
ist shows how paganism, if it had not yielded to Chris- 
tianity, must have fallen before that knowledge of the 
world which science brings in. 

To us in whom the first deceptive impression of the senses 
has been corrected almost as soon as we could think, by knowl- 
edge it cost ages to acquire, and other ages to extend and circu- 
late to us it js a curious and distinct effort of the imagination 
to conceive what manner of world this was to its earlier inhabit- 
ants. They lived at least the multitude, and the multitude are 
in this matter everything in a very straitened, circumscribed 
creation, a flat and stationary earth, arched over by the sky 
as by its natural roof. In this miniature of nature the human 
form was great. A god was invested in it without thought of 
violation to his dignity, and men assigned him for habitation a 
region just beyond the clouds, or else the waste and inaccessible 
places of their own world, the air, and the ocean, and tops of 
mountains, and caverns in the rock. The humanized divinity 
had a fit location, and could be supported in the imagination 
without much incongruity. But what if such forms had con- 
tinued to exist till Science had worked her great transformation ? 
When Astronomy had dislodged the rounded world from its rest 
at the centre of all things, and sent it to revolve on its wide cir- 
cuit, one only of a multitude of similar and far-scattered globes, 
when that arch which so securely overbuilt it had expanded into 


a limitless vacancy and left the earth diminished, and alone, and 
far from the gates of Heaven, what place, what function, would 
have remained to the astonished gods of Olympus ? Had they 
survived till our day of science, they must have then vanished 
like a dream. 

As pure hypothesis he then asks, What course would 
the general mind take if it were to relinquish as unreal 
the light of Christian revelation ? 

If without irreverence we might venture to suppose the with- 
drawal from the world, for a season, of the Christian doctrine, 
though we should lose indeed the incalculable benefit of a faith 
the sole medium of salvation, and therefore, as regards our eter- 
nal interest, be utterly bankrupt and ruined ; yet so far as piety 
is a sentiment controlling the heart and elevating the character 
of man, we might not, perhaps, be left in so destitute and de- 
plorable a condition as those who love religion are apt to fear, 
and those few who are its enemies are accustomed without any 
pain to anticipate. There are certain presumptions of a reli- 
gious character, already hinted at, and indeed familiar to all 
minds, which so readily occur to human thought, and these 
there are so many passions, so many interests, so many reasons, 
for keeping alive in ourselves, and upholding in the belief of 
others, that they might be almost as generally received, or at 
least professed, as Christianity at the present day. The same 
feelings which perform no ineffectual part in upholding the 
authority of that, as of every religion ; the same disquietude of 
heart ; the same aspirations after a happier existence ; the 
same desire to believe in another region, though it be fruitful 
only of present hopes, or even of present fears, and afford but 
an object of new solicitude and endeavour ; the same sense of 
public policy, whether made effective by permanent institutions, 
or that perpetual and all-pervading force of general opinion that 
surrounds us like another atmosphere, all these would be 
equally engaged in support of the imperfect tenets and more 
scanty creed of natural theology. The old heart of humanity 
might be too strong for all the fetters which science would im- 


To the philosophic mind, meanwhile, there remains al- 
ways at least one sentiment of religion. 

There would remain at least one source of profound, anti- 
terrestial sentiment, which can never be closed to the reflective 
mind, and which no scientific knowledge can affect. There is a 
mystery within and around us. Let science complete her task, 
and accomplish all which the most enlarged and accurate minds 
can assign for her province, there is still a region of thought 
if thought it can be called, where only question is heard, and 
no response, and the question itself is scarce intelligible into 
which she can make no incursions. The philosophy of Newton 
and La Place, the experimental knowledge of all Europe, has 
not encroached one inch upon this territory. It is the same 
now as to Chaldean shepherds. Where are we ? Whence this 
whole of things ? Whither ? Wherefore ? These are the same 
unanswerable questions as when they first were asked, and the 
unbroken silence which is their sole return makes the same 
deep impression on the human heart. Render the whole world 
clear and transparent to scientific vision ; turn it before us, as 
it were, in the sun ; make us familiar with all its movements, 
intricate and incessant, so that we trace the precise succession of 
all events throughout the complicated maze ; it matters not, the 
whole scene, the whole circle of interwoven incidents, floats on 
over an abyss of unfathomable mystery. . . . 

To the reflective mind this dim outlying space of the unknown 
and impenetrable has a strange and powerful fascination. That 
which to all mankind is the last boundless distance suffusing a 
scarcely recognized charm over the near landscape of life, he 
fixes on with strained effort of vision. There where the line is 
drawn, as well to human passion as to human knowledge, his 
gaze is arrested ; he would pierce through the sphere of endless 
change into the still eternity beyond ; he has no optics for such 
a purpose, he has no power to withdraw. From such a mind 
you may take temple and altar, miracle and prophet, you can- 
not take religion ; you may obscure the form of Deity pain- 
fully dark it may grow before him, you will not abstract all 
sentiment of piety : he bows before the veiled divinity, he still 
adores an unknown God ! 


The words die upon the ear like a strain of music, 
lovely but awful. It is the musician himself who breaks 
the hush, as he turns from his instrument to mingle with 
the crowd. As he utters again the common speech, it is 
like Prospero bidding farewell to his enchantments, and 
coming back from Ariel and the spirits to every-day com- 
pany. " But happily for mankind, the conjecture as to 
what form natural religion might of itself assume is for 
all practical purposes as useless and unnecessary as it 
is to the speculative inquirer dark and intricate. ... If 
the reader in his study of practical ethics in the works of 
Paley and others should find himself somewhat less em- 
barrassed than before by subtle questions relative to the 
nature of the moral sentiment, this has answered the ut- 
most and sole end at which it aspired." And he ends his 
treatise with this disclaimer of any unsettling intent, 
a disclaimer that would seem to have been taken seriously 
by the intellectual world, which paid little heed to the 
message until it was uttered by later and louder voices. 

Of that message, so far as it relates to natural religion, 
we may say : it is the utterance of a reverent and pious 
soul, finding itself unhoused from the old familiar dwell- 
ing-place of reverence and piety, and brought as it were 
suddenly under the open sky. There must be a time for 
readjustment to the new conditions, the eye, long used 
to the near roof, cannot instantly adjust itself to the cope 
of heaven. Deep awe there must be, and for a time per- 
plexity and depression ; yet always the intent gaze, al- 
ways a welcome of the partial light, and the prophetic 
expectation of fuller light. This man had in his sensi- 
tive childhood been familiarized with a conception of 
religion under the most definite outlines, with full provi- 
sion for the most familiar human forms of relation between 
the soul and its deity. That conception had faded away, 
and, though years had already passed in the process, yet 
the adjustment of the religious sense to a new set of facts 
must still be long in the completing. 


To ask of a man who thus finds himself confronted 
with the task of reshaping from the foundation the be- 
liefs of his fathers, to ask of such a one a full solution 
of the question he propounds would be idle indeed. It 
has been set before him as his life-work to make what 
genuine, modest addition he can to the common store of 
moral truth. And we find him at the outset giving elo- 
quent expression to what in later years has been offered 
by some as the adequate or only provision for man's re- 
ligious needs, awe in the presence of the Unknowable. 
But not by him is it for a moment offered as an adequate 
religion, religion, whose function is to guide, comfort, 
and ennoble the lives of mankind. It is but as one phase 
of one class of minds that he suggests it, a phase that 
may in them endure while all else is fluctuating. At the 
lowest there is wonder and awe ; at the highest, at the 
last, shall there not be much more than this ! More, we 
must say, there is even now in him who professes only 
this. All true worship is deeper than the phrases in 
which it clothes itself. This worshipper before an un- 
known God feels constrained by his exacting intellect to 
say that of absolute knowledge he has indeed nothing ; 
that it is only the blank region beyond visible space on 
which his gaze is fixed. But the emotion that fills his 
words is deeper and more sacred than mere wonderment 
before uncertainty. A " veiled divinity," an " unknown 
God ? " Yes, but it is not the veil, it is not the sense of 
ignorance, which so stirs the heart, but the instinct of 
some highest Divinity behind the veil ; the sense of some 
holy of holies, something august beyond articulate 

And now we are in a position to appreciate the motive 
and the value of that ethical speculation which constitutes 
the body of the treatise. It really represents, and with 
an original and important modification, one of the two 
great lines of effort by serious thinkers to find a firm 


basis and sanction for human morality, independent of 
that reliance upon a literal, historical revelation in the 
Scriptures which has characterized Protestantism. The 
one of these two movements is represented by Kant, who, 
admitting an inability of the speculative intellect to ar- 
rive at absolute truth, finds in conscience an original, 
intuitive faculty of the mind, giving in itself an authori- 
tative law of duty, and serving also as a sure indication 
of a moral governor of the universe by whom it is im- 
planted. Thus, in Kant's theory, conscience as an intui- 
tive faculty affords both a law of conduct and an assur- 
ance of God. The theory has naturally found favor in 
the religious world, as either a buttress for a supernatural 
revelation, or a substitute for it. It was sure to arrest 
the attention of an inquirer like William Smith. But 
he finds it quite inadequate to meet the observed fact of 
the immense discrepancy with which conscience acts in 
different ages, classes, and individuals. This inadequacy 
his treatise sets forth with great force. Weighing the 
familiar rival theory, that the sense of duty is identical 
with the sense of utility, he evidently finds that this does 
not of itself explain the more authoritative sentiment as- 
sociated with the idea of duty. He is led to conclude that 
what we call conscience has been a slow development, and 
as the potent factor in giving it force and form he rec- 
ognizes the influence upon the individual of the collective 
sentiment of his fellows in praise or blame. 

To the scientific mind, the test of every theory is : Does 
it harmonize with the known facts, and is it the only 
hypothesis that does harmonize with them ? If yes, then 
let it stand, unless new facts shall overthrow it ; mean- 
time, practice and sentiment must make their account 
with it as best they can, but they may not set it aside. 

Accepting, on the severe ground of induction, a theory 
of conscience as a developed and not an original faculty, 
William Smith, a man having the keenest sense of the 


moral and religious needs of men, considers how this 
theory meets those needs. It does not profess to find any 
such immediate, authoritative disclosure of a moral gov- 
ernor as does the intuitive theory, a profession which 
avails nothing if the theory is overthrown by facts. But 
his view recognizes a vast, orderly, progressive scheme of 
things, suggestive at least of a moral order underlying the 
universe. Clear and satisfactory provision for worship 
he does not yet find. But we have a provision, holds our 
essayist, a provision firm and powerful, for the conduct 
of man among his fellows. For the enlightened mind, 
this is the obvious elementary principle : " That the hap- 
piness of all be protected and cultivated ; " and " the 
knowledge of what is best must bind a rational being." 
As an external force, we have the tremendous engine of 
public sentiment : 

The influence of society a weak, insufficient foundation for 
the moral sentiment ! I entreat those who make the objection 
to consider what and how great a thing to man is the good 
opinion of his fellow-man. It visits him in every relation of 
humanity, from parents, from children, from neighbours, from 
citizens; it is equally present in life public and domestic; it 
mingles with almost every enjoyment ; it is blended, either as 
object or as means, with every hope and every project of his 
existence. . . . Man lives, for pleasure or for pain, in deed or 
in thought, in constant collision with his fellow-men ; they are 
beings without whom he can do nothing, yet as they are beings 
of the same passions with himself they have conflicting claims ; 
he must yield, he must compromise, must secure their friend- 
ship, must avert their emnity. A new want arises, perpetual, 
and that can never be shaken off a want the summary of a 
thousand wants the want of the good opinion of these fellow- 
men. Is this a motive, a part of our mental constitution, likely 
to fail us, to grow weak and languid as society advances, and 
becomes, as it must become, more and more complicated ? Is it 
likely to decay as the interests of life become more keen, wide- 
spreading, and interwoven ? God has set men to be rulers over 


men all over each ; that is his moral government, which He 
has, in the first instance, established upon the earth, a gov- 
ernment which must continue and improve with every improve- 
ment made in the means and knowledge of happiness, a gov- 
ernment which in its plan, and progress, and by its connection 
and harmony with other parts of the system of nature, claims 
to have sprung from the Author of creation. 

And now that he has spoken his deepest, most serious 
word, he returns to quiet work, upon book reviews and 
sketches and one or two dramas, and it is almost twenty 
years before he again in the world's hearing recurs to the 
direct discussion of the greatest themes of all, whose fas- 
cination for him has never intermitted. 



IN the connection with " Blackwood' s Magazine," 
which began in 1839, William Smith found what proved 
to be the chief external business of his life. For a few 
years longer there continued some formal allegiance to the 
law, but writing for the magazine, principally in the form 
of literary reviews, soon became his main occupation. It 
was a work and a place which admirably suited him. His 
contributions brought a modest income, which came ere 
long to be his main dependence. For such a man litera- 
ture in any shape could never be a lucrative profession, 
and it was much to find in it a resource sufficient for 
bread-winning and for independence. The work was in 
the direct line of his tastes and powers, it dealt with 
congenial and beloved themes, yet it lay apart from those 
fundamental problems of thought whose fascination had 
so strong an element of disquiet. There would seem at 
first an incompatibility between a speculator so daring and 
heterodox, and the organ of staunch conservatism ; all the 
more, since the articles in " Blackwood " were unsigned, 
and stood in the name of the editorial " we." But Wil- 
liam Smith's articles dealt neither with current politics 
nor with theology, and in the fields of general literature, 
poetry, history, and metaphysics, as well as romance and 
travel, the magazine gave all the scope he required. 

The obituary notice of him in " Blackwood " (October, 
1872) shows in what high estimation he was held by its 
conductors, who, it is equally plain, were at a wide re- 
move from that attitude in religion and philosophy which 


characterizes " Thorndale " and " Gravenhurst." The 
more noticeable therefore is the recognition of his per- 
sonal traits. 

In his youth, the circle of young men who surrounded him ex- 
pected for him the highest fame ; he was to be their leader, the 
foremost in all intellectual progress, always the superior, in those 
visions of the future which are often so widely apart from re- 
ality. But if others passed him in the race, pressed on higher, 
and won more dazzling prizes, it was because the finer qualities 
of his mind outweighed the coarser, and fastidious taste and 
a retiring disposition withdrew him from the common arena, 
where, amid shouts and cheers and commonplace din, the ordi- 
nary competitors for fame take their places, disregarding all its 
vulgar circumstances. He could not disregard them. His na- 
ture was so constituted that he shrank from the noises, whether 
applausive or otherwise. 

No better type could be found of the true man of letters, the 
student, scholar, and critic of our days, who is already begin- 
ning to yield to a hastier and more shallow class of modern 
commentators. He was not of those who dash off a breathless 
criticism on the spur of the moment, or arrogantly pretend to 
judge of subjects upon which they have the merest smattering of 
knowledge. He belonged to the older fashion of man, who had 
the habit of mastering a subject before speaking of it, and of 
bringing a richly cultivated understanding, a mind and memory 
full of all that is excellent in the past, to the consideration of the 
affairs and productions of the present. That charm of culture 
which, next to genius, is almost the most delightful of mental 
conditions, was his in an eminent degree. 

In finding at last a vocation so well fitted to his inclina- 
tion and his powers, he had gained one of the prime con- 
ditions of happiness and content. If we have been right 
in discerning in " Wild Oats " the traces of a self-mastery 
and recall from undisciplined brooding and idleness, we 
may find one of the evidences of a more concentrated and 
purposeful life, as well as a great aid to it, in this entry 
upon periodical literature as a profession. Fame there 


was none from anonymous contributions, but there was 
outlet for the eager faculties, there was that conscious- 
ness of a worthy and an attentive audience which is the 
best spur to a true author; and that absorption of the 
writer's personality by the magazine which deprived him 
of personal credit weighted his words to the world's ear 
with the sanction of a great authority. 

He was inherently a judge and not an advocate, and 
the wool-sack to which he was predestined was in the 
courts not of law but of literature. The most striking 
feature of his reviews is the quality of even-handed jus- 
tice. He makes it his business to give a frank and dis- 
criminating award upon each book's merits and faults; 
to instance to the reader its quality by free quotation, 
a matter in which he is far more generous than is now 
the usual practice of reviewers; and, also, to discuss 
somewhat from his own standpoint the ground which the 
book traverses. The easy and lucid style seldom rises 
into brilliance ; there is a generous but tempered ardor ; 
the constant purpose to be just does not often allow the 
sparkle of epigram ; but now and then there occurs a 
passage of delicate and melodious grace. The contribu- 
tions of the earlier years are diversified by brief tales and 
romances, sometimes with an underlying moral, some- 
times of pure amusement, showing the mind unbent and 
the fancy in free play. 

From this broad and tempting field we can gather here 
only the merest handful, so choosing as to illustrate how 
some phases of life were received and interpreted by this 
observer. Let us take first a scene ( u Mildred," Decem- 
ber, 1846) from a region where as yet we have had no 
glimpse of him, in a ball-room. 

Found where it is, it is certainly a remarkable phenomenon, 
this waltz. Look now at that young lady how cold, formal, 
stately ! how she has been trained to act the little queen 
amongst her admirers and flatterers ! See what a reticence hi 


all her demeanour. Even feminine curiosity, if not subdued, 
has been dissimulated ; and though she notes everything and 
everybody, and can describe, when she returns home, the dress 
of half the ladies in the room, it is with an eye that seems to 
notice nothing. Her head has just been released from the hair- 
dresser, and every hair is elaborately adjusted. To the very 
holding of an enormous bouquet, " round as my shield," which 
of itself seems to forbid all thoughts of motion everything 
has been arranged and rearranged. She sits like an alabaster 
figure ; she speaks, it is true, and she smiles as she speaks ; but 
evidently the smile and the speech have no natural connection 
with one another ; they coexist, but they have both been quite 
separately studied, prepared, permitted. Well, the waltz strikes 
up, and at a word from that bowing gentleman, himself a piece 
of awful formality, this pale, slow, and graceful automaton has 
risen. Where is she now ? She is gone vanished trans- 
formed. She is nowhere to be seen. But in her stead there is 
a breathless girl, with flushed cheeks, ringlets given to the wind, 
dress flying all abroad, spinning round the room, darting diag- 
onally across it, whirling fast as her little feet can carry her 
faster, faster for it is her more powerful cavalier, who, hold- 
ing her firmly by the waist, sustains and augments her speed. 

To his experience in the law we owe some striking pas- 
sages, of which one may be given from " Giacorno da 
Valencia" (September, 1847). 

"Science ! " said the young enthusiast, "can conclusions wrested 
often with perverted ingenuity from artificial principles and ar- 
bitrary axioms be honoured with the name of 'science ? And 
the law, to obtain this fictitious resemblance to a science, leaves 
justice behind and unthought of. I will study it, my father, as 
I would practise any mechanical art, if you should prescribe it 
as a means of being serviceable to my family ; but you who 
are a scholar ah ! place not a tissue of technicalities, however 
skilfully interwoven, on a level with truth which has its basis in 
the nature of things. I would help my fellow-man to justice ; 
but must I spend my life, and dry up and impoverish my very 
soul, in regulating his disputes according to rules that are some- 
thing very different from justice ? often mere logical deduc- 


tions from certain legal abstractions, in which all moral right 
and wrong, all substantial justice between man and man, is 
utterly forgotten ? " 

" My son," said the father, " you are young, and therefore 
rash. You think it, perhaps, an easy thing to do justice between 
man and man. We cannot do justice between man and man. 
No combination of honesty and intelligence can effect it ; the 
whole compass of society affords no means for its accomplish- 
ment. To administer moral justice, each case must be decided 
on its own peculiar merits, and those merits are to be found in 
the motives of the human heart. We cannot promise men jus- 
tice. But we must terminate their disputes. Therefore it is we 
have a system of law our only substitute for justice by 
which men are contented to be governed because it is a system, 
and applicable to all alike. Believe me, that wise and able men 
of all countries are well occupied in rendering more symmetri- 
cal, more imposing, and as little immoral and unjust as possible, 
their several systems of jurisprudence." 

The most remarkable of the contributions inspired by 
the reviewer's legal experience is the story entitled " Man- 
ner and Matter" (October, 1845). The interest of the 
narrative holds the attention, and suggests no suspicion 
of a moral, till the catastrophe sends it home with start- 
ling force. The story is that of a rich man who forces one 
of small means into a chancery suit, and completely ruins 
him by legal expenses. " The only remedy " for such 
mischiefs " would be this : That the State administer civil 
justice, at its own expense, to rich and poor alike ; that, 
as it protects each man's life and limb, so it should pro- 
tect each man's property which is the means of life, 
which is often as essential to him as the limbs by which 
he moves. This is the only mode of realizing that 4 equal 
justice ' which at present is the vain boast of every sys- 
tem of jurisprudence, when the suitor has to pay for pro- 
tection to his property." 

Rarely does our author appear to better advantage 
than when he is dealing with the giants who in their 


greatness break through metes and bounds. His appre- 
ciation of their grandeurs, his own steady regard for the 
laws they contemn, and the delicate humor which their 
extravagances provoke, stand out in fine relief against the 
turbulent splendors of men like Carlyle and Victor Hugo 
and Ruskin. He comments thus on Victor Hugo's book 
upon Shakespeare (August, 1864). 

It is useless to raise objections or detect faults ; absurdities 
are too numerous and glaring ; they seem perfectly conscious of 
themselves and defy you. Yet it would be a still greater mis- 
take to adopt a tone of derision or of contempt. Ridicule is 
soon checked by some terrible earnestness, and by a display of 
power that forces respect. One cannot laugh comfortably at 
the gambols of a giant. What if he should come too near 
where we ourselves are standing ? If Achilles should issue from 
his tent and race madly about the field, going through his mar- 
tial exercises in some wild, maniacal fashion, yet now and then 
throwing his heavy spear with truest aim and marvellous power, 
we should look on with more of gravity than mirth. And some 
such impression is produced by this Titan amongst writers. 
There is no proposition so rash or monstrous that he fears to as- 
sert it ; there is no word so harsh, rude, or grotesque that he will 
not use it. Sometimes this terrible rhetorician heaps word on 
word, adds name to name, till he leaves us stunned and sense- 
less at the end of his lengthy paragraph. Sometimes he plays 
with the facts of history with all the petty dexterity of a con- 
jurer, bringing them together from remote epochs for the sake 
of a little flash, a conceit, a contrast, as if the cloud-compelling 
Jove were to bring up his clouds from the north to the south 
merely to produce a faint electric spark. This man, as coarse 
as Swift, is as tricksy as Dumas. It would weary the most in- 
defatigable critic to follow him through all his rhetorical of- 
fences. But then he is a Titan. You see that oak, he split it 
at one blow. After all the clang and discord and endless fugue 
of some distracted orchestra, there comes a burst of music 
which reminds you of a chorus of Handel's. 

With this mention of the great Frenchman we may 


join his encomium on France (" Michelet's History," 
September, 1842). 

Even if you care not to watch the successive phases which 
European society has exhibited if you have grown weary of 
political lessons, forever taught and never learned if you read 
history merely for its story and for its examples of the general 
passions of mankind, you will nowhere find a richer narrative 
than in the annals of France. Nowhere is the human heart laid 
so open ; nowhere does it beat greater strokes ; nowhere is it 
seen in more violent or variable action ; nowhere greater crimes 
greater virtues. France may not only be considered the fit- 
test type of Europe in her several mutations, but the truest type 
of our variable humanity itself. This vivacious sympathetic 
race, so passionate, so intelligent, so prompt to seize whatever is 
new, so capable of carrying out to its utmost limits whatever it 
embraces, be it good or evil, pleasure or devotion, power or free- 
dom, are they not preeminently man ? preeminently the selfish, 
social, headstrong, inconstant, reasoning, unreasonable man? 
For this it is, that albeit we are English, irreclaimably English, 
and could breathe no air but what plays under our own cloud- 
built sky, and comes to us mingled with our own ocean-music 
for this it is we love the Frenchman even as we love humanity. 
Paris has long been, what it still is, the busiest of all human 
hives where there is more buzzing, more stinging, and more 
honey made than in any other like receptacle on the face of the 
earth. Nothing so light as this people ; its quick intelligence 
does but mingle and harmonize with its keen sense of pleasure ; 
it is laughing at that very foppery it loves so well, and which it 
at once practises and ridicules with such inimitable ease. Noth- 
ing so serious and resolved as this same pleasure-loving people ; 
the chord is struck ! and all Paris rises up a crowd of heroes 
if enthusiasm, and courage, and the self-oblivion of passion be 
sufficient of themselves to constitute heroism. 

The article on "Mr. Ruskin's Works" (September, 
1851) awards a mixture of praise and blame, with a care- 
ful discrimination which could not be preserved in a brief 
extract ; but we quote a single passage, as a fine instance 


of analysis of a complex emotion. He is discussing the 
sense of beauty. 

Each sense the touch, the ear, the smell, the taste blend 
their several remembered pleasures with the object of vision. 
Even taste, we say, although Mr. Ruskin will scorn the gross al- 
liance. And we would allude to the fact to show the extreme 
subtilty of these mental processes. The fruit which you think of 
eating has lost its beauty from that moment it assumes to 
you a quite different relation ; but the reminiscence that there 
is sweetness in the peach or the grape, whilst it remains quite 
subordinate to the pleasure derived from the sense of sight, 
mingles with and increases that pleasure. While the cluster of 
ripe grapes is looked at only for its beauty, the idea that they 
are pleasant to the taste as well steals in unobserved, and adds 
to the complex sentiment. If this idea grow distinct and prom- 
inent, the beauty of the grape is gone you eat it. 

A severe tone is taken toward Carlyle, in reviewing his 
" Cromwell " (April, 1847). Carlyle is there castigated as 
vigorously as ever Macaulay handled one of his victims, 
and the severest part of the punishment is the quotation 
of extravagances which justify the denunciation. What 
rouses this habitually mild judge to indignation is Car- 
lyle's glorifying of the worst features of a past age, while 
he is blind to all the good in the present. 

We were prepared to see Mr. Carlyle, in his own sardonic 
fashion, abet and encourage the violence and ferocity of the Pu- 
ritans ; his sympathy is always with the party who strikes ; but 
that he should identify himself with their mumming thoughts, 
their " plentiful reasons," their gloomiest superstitions, was what 
no one would have anticipated. . . . The same clear-sighted au- 
thor, who sees the Christian doctrine so beautifully and preemi- 
nently developed in the Ironsides of Cromwell, in the troopers 
of Lambert and Harrison, sacking, pillaging, slaughtering, and 
in all that tribe of men who ever shed blood the readier after 
prayer -time men who had dropped from their memory 
Christ's own preaching, to fill their mouths with the cursing 
which the Hebrew prophets had been permitted, under apastdis- 


pensation, to denounce against the enemies of Judea, who had 
constructed their theology out of the darkest parts of the New 
and the most fearful portions of the Old Testament; this 
same author, opening his eyes and ears upon his own day and 
generation, finds that Christianity has died out of all hearts, 
and its phraseology, as he expresses himself elsewhere, " become 
mournful to him when spouted as frothy cant from Exeter 
Hall." . . . He sees nothing good, or generous, or high- 
minded, in any portion of the world in which he lives ; he re- 
serves his sympathies for the past, for the men of buckram 
and broadsword, who, on a question of church government, 
were always ready " to hew Agag to pieces," let Agag stand for 
who or what number it might. 

If we possessed a review of " Sartor Resartus " by this 
same hand, we should find a very different keynote. 
That book was long a constant companion with him. In 
allusion partly to it, he says in writing on " Past and 
Present," " We regard the chief value of Mr. Carlyle's 
writings to consist in the tone of mind which the individ- 
ual reader acquires from their perusal : manly, energetic, 
enduring, with high resolves and self -forgetting effort." 

This same article on Cromwell, passing from the his- 
torian to his subject, gives a masterly sketch of the Puri- 
tan leader, from which we select one or two traits : 

It is the glaring defect in Cromwell a defect which he had 
in common with many others of his time that he threw him- 
self into a revolution having for its first object to remodel the 
civil government, animated only with the passions of the collat- 
eral controversy upon ecclesiastical government. He fought the 
battle which was to destroy the monarchy without any fixed 
idea or desire for the republican government which must be its 
substitute. This was not the subject that had engaged his 
thoughts or inflamed his ardour. When, therefore, the royalists 
had been conquered, it is not at all surprising that he should 
have seen nothing but the difficulties in the way of forming a 
republic. At this point of his history some excuse for him may 
be drawn from the very defect we are noticing. His mind had 


dwelt on no theory of civil government to the cause of the 
commonwealth his heart had never been pledged and we can 
hardly call him, with justice, as Godwin does, a traitor to the 
republic. But, on the other hand, what a gap, what a void, does 
this disclose in the mind of our hero ! What should we say of 
one who had plunged heart and soul into the French Revolu- 
tion, conducted only by his rage against the Roman Catholic 
hierarchy ? Such a one, had he risen to take a leading part in 
that drama, might have acted with greater wisdom and modera- 
tion than ardent and patriotic men ; the very absence of any po- 
litical opinion or passion might have enabled him to see more 
clearly than others the position which they all occupied ; but 
this would not justify or palliate the original error, the rash, ex- 
clusive, self-blinding zeal which had brought him into that posi- 
tion. . . . 

It is at this latter period of his career that the character of 
Cromwell, to our apprehension, stands out to greatest advan- 
tage, becomes more grave, and solemn, and estimable. Other 
dictators, other men of ambitious aims and fortunes, show them- 
selves, for the most part, less amiable, more tyrannous than 
ever, more violent and selfish, when they have obtained the last 
reward of all their striving, and possessed themselves of the seat 
of power. It was otherwise with Cromwell. He became more 
moderate, his views more expanded, his temper milder and 
more pensive. The stormy passions of the civil war were over- 
blown, the intricate and ambiguous passages of his political 
course had been left behind ; and now, whatever may have been 
the errors of the past, and however his own ambition or rashness 
may have led him to it, he occupied a position which he might say 
with truth he held for his country's good. Forsake it he could 
not. Repose in it he could not. A man of religious breeding, 
of strong conscientiousness, though tainted with superstition, 
he could not but feel the great responsibility of that position. 
A vulgar usurper is found at this era of his career to sink into 
the voluptuary, or else to vent his dissatisfied humour in acts of 
cruelty and oppression. Cromwell must govern, and govern to 
his best. The restless and ardent spirit that had ever prompted 
him onwards and upwards, and which had carried him to that 
high place, was now upon the wane. It had borne him to that 


giddy pinnacle and threatened to leave him there. Men were 
now aiming at his life ; the assassin was abroad ; one half the 
world was execrating him ; we doubt not that he spoke with 
sincerity when he said that u he would gladly live under any 
woodside, and keep a flock of sheep." He would gladly lay 
down his burden, but he cannot ; can lay it down only in the 
grave. The sere and yellow leaf is falling on the shelterless 
head of the royal Puritan. The asperity of his earlier character 
is gone, the acrimony of many of his prejudices has, in his long 
and wide intercourse with mankind, abated; his great duties 
have taught him moderation of many kinds ; there remains of 
the fiery sectarian, who so hastily " turned the buckle of his 
girdle behind him," little more than his firmness and conscien- 
tiousness ; his firmness, that, as he truly said, " could be bold 
with men ; " his conscientiousness, which made the power he at- 
tained by that boldness a burden and a heavy responsibility. 

The whole of this article suggests, what much else con- 
firms, that our author was admirably qualified for an his- 
torian. But we must confine ourselves to a few further 
citations from his literary criticisms. Among the best of 
these is the one on Wordsworth (March, 1841), and of 
this a single delicate stroke may be given. 

The passion is, for the most part, checked and controlled by 
thought, or it is itself wrought out from meditation. He feels, 
he compassionates, he musingly deplores ; but he cannot allow 
his own peace of mind to be overthrown. Let no one suppose 
that it is any sign of real lowliness or humility of mind, that he 
so often selects a lowly subject for his sympathy. This is rather 
the sign of a lofty bearing, of an intellectual reserve. He chooses 
a subject he can look down upon, that so calm thoughts may 
mingle with his feelings. He cannot let his sympathy go forth 
upon a level line to an intellectual equal ; this would too much 
implicate him in the passions of another ; it would carry him 
from himself. He cannot be so compromised. He cannot 
quit his free, solitary, reflective station. He watches pensively 
over the scene of human woe ; I cannot think that he ever 
drops a tear. He gives the meed of approbation to the warrior 


and the valiant hero ; but he partakes not his ardour even for a 
moment. He casts but a hasty glance at the lover's happiness ; 
it is too turbulent, he fears it, he turns aside. 

The most daring and original of American thinkers re- 
ceived hardly anywhere a warmer welcome than from the 
magazine supposed to embody the stiffest Scotch Toryism. 
The greeting of " Blackwood " to Emerson (December, 
1847) was from the pen of William Smith. It need not 
be said that the praise is discriminating, and that there 
is demur at the element of mysticism, but the prevailing 
tone is of cordial applause. The aversion to the idealist 
philosophy is overborne by admiration of the man. 

Yet, up to this moment, America has not given to the world 
anything which, in point of original genius, is comparable to his 
writings. That she has a thousand minds better built up, whose 
more equal culture and whose more sober opinions one might 
prefer to have, this is not the question ; but in that highest 
department of reflective genius, where the power is given to im- 
part new insights into truth, or make old truths look new, he 
stands hitherto unrivalled in his country ; he has no equal and 
no second. 

Very popular he perhaps never may become ; but we figure 
to ourselves that, a century hence, he will be recognized as one 
of those old favorite writers whom the more thoughtful spirits 
read, not so much as teachers, but as noble-minded companions 
and friends, whose aberrations have been long ago conceded 
and forgiven. Men will read him then, not for his philosophy, 
they will not care two straws for his idealism or his panthe- 
ism : they will know that they are there, and there they will 
leave them, but they will read him for those genuine confes- 
sions of one spirit to another that are often breathed in his 
writings ; for those lofty sentiments to which all hearts re- 
spond ; for those truths which make their way through all 
systems, and in all ages. 

The literary topic to which our author reverts most 
often and most lovingly is the writings of Shakespeare. 


From articles devoted to special phases of Shakespeare, 
and from allusions in other connections, there might be 
gathered a choice volume of Shakespearean criticism. It 
is a criticism equally sympathetic and fearless. In his 
notice of Victor Hugo's Shakespeare (August, 1864) he 
supports a view quite at variance with the still prevalent 
tendency to attribute to Shakespeare an infallibility like 
that ascribed to the Bible. 

Some of our most distinguished critics proceed on the suppo- 
sition that Shakespeare, before writing his dialogue, formed for 
himself a complete conception of the character he was about to 
portray. It is this conception the critic has to seize upon and 
secure. Now we venture to assert that it is very seldom that 
any dramatist has proceeded in this manner. We feel per- 
suaded that Shakespeare did not. He took some well known 
story, and the inevitable passions of the agents in it, and by 
developing these a character was necessarily developed also. 
But the character was the result of the story and the passion ; 
it was no separate preconception. The story was not invented 
to display the character, but the story was there, and the char- 
acter grew out of it, and was made to accommodate itself to all 
its turns and windings. Shakespeare never seems to have given 
himself the trouble to think whether the men and women he 
brought upon the stage, and to whom he gave his marvellous 
dialogue,' or whether any human beings whatever, could have 
acted in the manner which his story says they did. ... It 
sometimes happens that Shakespeare, by throwing the wealth 
of his own highly reflective mind on the characters he portrays, 
produces an incongruity between them and the actions which, 
according to the story, he has to ascribe to them. . . . [After 
instancing Lear and Othello.] Was Macbeth a cruel man ? 
Was he a tyrant by temperament? Was he superstitious? 
Had he that overweening pride which, in common parlance, is 
dignified with the name of ambition ? How far was he led to 
the murder of Duncan by the prophecy of the witches ? how 
far by the incentives of his diabolical wife ? Questions like 
these our analytic school of critics agitate, and on the solution of 


such questions they bring to bear those noble and pathetic 
speeches which, especially towards the close of the drama, 
Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Macbeth. But the almost 
tender eloquence which the poet takes this opportunity to utter, 
and the murder which only a savage could commit, are simply 
incompatible. Shift your point of view how you will, you can 
never get these in the same line of vision, so as to harmonize 
them together. The Macbeth of the story and the Macbeth 
who utters Shakespeare's tJwughts are not to be reconciled. 
But the pleasure of the reader is, after all, very little disturbed 
by this incongruity, because in fact, it is the Macbeth who 
spealcs and thinks who absorbs our attention, and this to such a 
degree that it is the murderer, and not the sons of the murdered 
Duncan, to whom we give our sympathies : no one has a horror 
of Macbeth. We admit the justice of his fate, but regret it at 
the same time. 

There follows a striking exposition of Hamlet, in this 
view, that from the elements of a traditional story, 
blended with the free play of his own imagination, 
Shakespeare has drawn a character in which it is vain to 
seek a wholly consistent individuality. 

Among these articles are scattered glimpses of self- 
revelation; as in this passage: "He well knew how 
essential was solitude to the highest gratification which 
either nature or art afford. It is but a secondary or de- 
clining excitement that we feel when we are restless to 
communicate it to another. The heart is but half full of 
its object, that, to complete its pleasure, craves sym- 
pathy." We come upon such delicate touches as this : 
" Her face was a melody which you cannot quarrel with 
for being sad which you could not desire to be other- 
wise than sad whose very charm is that it has made 
the tone of sorrow ineffably sweet." 

In dipping as it were a cupful out of the brimming 
cistern which these collected reviews offer, there rises a 
sense of a real grievance suffered by the world at the 
hands of this gentlest of men. It is hard to forgive him 


for balking Mr. Blackwood's plan of publishing a volume 
of selections. Scattered through the endless numbers of 
the magazine, his articles are to the readers of the present 
day like carbon dispersed through a coal-bed ; condensed 
and crystallized, they would have yielded a diamond. 
This is the list of his contributions : 

1839. August, A Prosing upon Poetry. 

October, On the Feigned Madness of Hamlet. 

1840. January, Hints on History. Part 1. 
February, " " " Part 2. 
June, Wild Oats A New Species. 
September, The Boundary Question. 
December, On Population (a Review of Alison). 

1841. March, Wordsworth. 

1842. May, Gabrielle de BeUe Isle. 
June, Angelo. 
September, Dennis on Shakespeare. 

History of France (Review of Michelet). Part 1. 
October, " " " " Part 2. 

1843. March, Comte. 

May, Dumas on Italy. 

" Leap Year : A Tale. 

July, Past and Present, by Carlyle. 

October, Mill's Logic. 

1844. June, The Diligence : A Leaf from a Journal. 
August, Some Remarks on Schiller's Maid of Orleans. 

" M. Girardin. 

September, M. Louis Blanc. 
November, French Socialists. 

1845. February, The Superfluities of Life. 

April, Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. 

June, The Novel and the Drama. 

July, Torquato Tasso (Goethe's). 

August, On Punishments. 
September, Warren's Law Studies. 

October, Manner and Matter : A Tale. 

November, Hakem the Slave : A Tale. 

December, The Mountain and the Cloud. 

1846. December, Mildred : A Tale. Part 1. 

1847. January, " " Part 2. 
February, " ' " Part 3. 


1847. April, Cromwell. 

May, The Visible and Tangible : A Metaphysical Frag- 

July, Sir H. Nicolas's History of the Navy. 

August, Grote's History of Greece. 

September, Le Premier Pas. 

" Byways of History. 

" Giacomo de Valencia ; or, the Student of Bologna. 

October, Works of Hans Christian Andersen. 

November, The American Library. 

December, Emerson. 

1848. June, Guesses at Truth. 

October, J. S. Mill's Political Economy. 

December, Mrs. Hemans. 

1849. March, M. Prudhon, Contradictions Economiques. 
April, Tennyson's Poems. 

May, Colonisation ; Mr. Wakefleld's Theory. 

August, Charles Lamb. 

October, Physical Geography (Mrs. Somerville). 

1850. January, Howard. 
February, Goldsmith. Part 1. 
March, " Part 2. 

" A Late Case of Court-Martial. 

April, Festus. 
September, The Night Side of Nature. 

1851. March, Southey. Part 1. 
April, " Part 2. 
May, Some American Poets. 
August, Voltaire in the Crystal Palace. 
September, Mr. Ruskin's Works. 
October, The Essays of Mr. Helps. 
November, The Dramas of Henry Taylor. 

1852. March, Miss Mitford's Recollections. 
May, Life of Niebuhr. 
September, Jeffrey. Part 1. 

October, " Part 2. 

" Corneille and Shakespeare. 

" Review of Sortain's Count Arenberg. 

" Dr. Chalmers as Political Economist. 

1854. January, Lander's Last Fruit off an Old Tree. 

February, Gray's Letters. 

March, The Epidemics of the Middle Ages. 

March, Jerome Cardan. 


1855. March, Life of Lord Metcalfe. 

April, Sir Benjamin Brodie's Psychological Inquiries. 

August, Warren's Blackstone. 

1856. March, LiddelPs History of Rome. 
April, Prescott's Philip the Second. 

1858. January, Debit and Credit. 
March, Sullivan on Cumberland. 
August, Gladstone's Homer. 

" White's Eighteen Christian Centuries. 

November, Buckle's History of Civilisation. 

1859. July, Dr. Mansel's Bampton Lectures. 
August, Leaders of the Reformation. 
October, Sir William Hamilton. 

November, Vaughan's Revolutions in English History. Vol. i. 

December, Motley's Dutch Republic. 

1860. August, Dr. Hanna's Wy cliff e and the Huguenots. 
October, Charles Hemans on Papal Government. 

1861. February, Carthage and its Remains. 

May, Motley's History of the Netherlands. 

June, Miss Bremer in Switzerland and Italy. 

August, Vaughan's Revolutions in English History. Vol. ii. 

November, M. Ernest Renan. 

1862. May, Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 

1863. January, T. Trollope's Italian Novels. 
April, Spedding's Life of Bacon. 
May, Wilson's Prehistoric Man. 
September, Jean Paul Richter. 
October, Sheridan Knowles. 
December, Tyndall on Heat. 

1864. February, Kirk's Charles the Bold. 
April, Mr. Knight's Reminiscences. 
August, Mr. Lewes's Aristotle. 

" Victor Hugo's Shakespeare. 

October, Max Miiller's Lectures on the Science of Lan- 
guage. 2d Series. 

1865. March, William Blake. 

1866. May, J. S. Mill on Sir William Hamilton. 

" Scraps of Verse from a Tourist's Journal. 

June, Life of Steele. 

1867. February, Dallas's Gay Science. 
March, Ferrier. 

April, Hemans's Ancient Christianity. 

June, The Duke of Argyll's Reign of Law. 


1867. September, La Physique Moderne (Saigey). 

1868. July, Motley's History of the Netherlands. 
November, Lewes's History of Philosophy. 
December, Dean Milmau. 

1870. July, Lecky's History of Morals. 
November, Professor Porter on the Human Intellect 

1871. July, The Coming Race. 


Six years had passed since the unsuccessful publica- 
tion of " Guidone " and " Solitude," when their author, in 
1842, gave to the world another drama, " Athelwold." 
There were some who in private praised it highly. Mill 
wrote to the author quoting the good opinion of his friend 
Mrs. Taylor, and Serjeant Talfourd expressed in a Jetter 
his warm admiration. The next spring, Macready brought 
it out on the stage, himself taking the part of Athel- 
wold, while Miss Helen Faueit impersonated the heroine. 
On its first night, the play met with decided success, and 
the author was enthusiastically called for. We are not 
told that he responded it is hardly possible to imagine 
him coming before the foot-lights, and bowing in response 
to the plaudits of the house. But for an hour he must 
have tasted in its full flavor the highest reward that ex- 
ternal success can bestow on the author. The other forms 
of literary fame seem poor and cold beside the satisfaction 
of the dramatist in seeing his creations worthily bodied 
forth and striking home to a thousand hearts whose an- 
swering emotion speaks in face and voice. All we are 
told of the author's feelings is that he seemed most im- 
pressed by Maeready's exquisite rendering of the charac- 
ter of Athelwold. The Memoir adds that Macready pro- 
nounced ono particular moment in Miss Faucit's acting of 
Elfrida, " the best thing she ever did." 

So for one instant the drama stood on the shining height 
of popularity. Then it sank into oblivion. Its produc- 
tion on the stage occurred just at the end of the theatrical 



season, and the next year it was not reproduced. The 
literary critics seem to have paid it no attention. Eight 
years afterward, a reviewer in " Black wood " disentombed 
from a dusty pile of books the little volume containing 
" Athelwold " and its companions, and gave to it enthusias- 
tic praise. But it won no general recognition, and prob- 
ably very few readers are acquainted with it. There is no 
trace of any effect of this failure upon the author's mind. 
The youth who in bitterness of spirit made a literal grave 
for his first unsuccessful book had become the mature and 
disciplined man, not to be elated by success nor cast down 
by failure. And in truth the mind that could create 
" Athelwold " might well be so strong in its own resources 
as not to depend on popularity. 

The play is based upon the story of King Edgar, 
Athelwold, and Elfrida, as Hume relates it. The action 
is vigorous, and the development of the story hurries 
the reader with breathless interest to the tragic close. 
The wealth of philosophic thought and of poetic imagery 
does not clog the movement of the plot. The graver scenes 
are diversified with lighter action, full of spirit and grace. 
The interest centres in the characters of Athelwold, Dun- 
stan, and Elfrida. At the opening, Edgar is amusing him- 
self with the nun Edith, whom he has carried off from her 
convent. Dunstan comes upon him with stern rebuke, 
but imposes only a trivial penance. He treats Edith's 
pitiful plea for compassion with the harshest scorn. Then 
Edgar confides to him that he is about to dispatch his 
trusted soldier and servant Athelwold on a secret errand, 
to see whether a certain noble lady, Elfrida, kept by her 
father in seclusion, is worthy of her reputation for won- 
derful beauty ; with the purpose, if Athelwold brings a 
favorable report, to make her his queen. Then follows a 
dialogue between Dunstan and Athelwold, the church- 
man's purpose being revealed in his previous soliloquy. 


The only man who scans and penetrates 
My measures and my motives, he is now 
The favoured noble of our fickle king ; 
Loved by the people ; even by the court, 
The envious court, esteemed and idolized. 
Now Athelwold, I win thee for my friend, 
Or, as my dangerous rival, tread thee down ! 
The cause exacts it, and I may not shrink, 
That cause which makes of all this mortal world 
But one vast engine for its purposes, 
And still works on, and pauses not, nor spares, 
Though every strained and shrieking cable there 
Is spun of human fibre. Here he comes. 

Athelwold arraigns him for artfulness and cruelty ; for 
his leniency with the weak and vicious Edgar, and his 
previous severity to the innocent Edwin for a virtuous 
marriage. Dunstan defends himself as having acted 
solely in the interest of the Church, in humoring the 
weak monarch and crushing the rebellious one. 

Athelwold. Thus has it ever been ! The cruel zealot 
First frames a duty Heaven never meant, 
And in fulfilment of it acts such crimes 
As wondering Hell made no provision for. 
Dominion ! still dominion ! 
Cannot thy church instruct, control, and guide, 
Sharing a sway with all good influences, 
But it alone must rule the human mind, 
And paralyze to rule making a crime 
Of the bare judgment, till our faith is fear, 
And in the very best the callous thought 
Foregoes, forgets, the finer sense of truth ? 
The generous hope which bears us to the skies 
Oh, make not this our bondage ! 

Dunstan. Mark you not, 

My Athelwold, how in the faith of all 
Each child of frailty, each poor worldling, finds 
The path he treads to Heaven ? On the broad base, 
By ages strengthened, of a nation's creed, 
As on some mole immense and palpable, 
Wrought o'er the abyss, fast to the doors of Heaven, 
Each solitary foot treads firm ; the flock 


Of men pass on they pause they fail they fall 

But on the road itself, and where it leads, 

Or who contrived, they waste no bootless care, 

No sad, unequal scrutiny. Therefore 

We punish error as we punish crime, 

Lest by the perverse freedom of a few 

Truth lose her hold on the gross, giddy world. 

And hear me out with patience, my good lord 

And fortunate, I deem, are men thus ruled, 

Who reason not, but in belief obey, 

Or with the reason happily confound 

A foregone sense of duty ; fortunate, 

In my esteem, that subject-multitude 

The monarch- priest, by his bold government, 

Protects from worst of anarchies, from doubt, 

And its undying fear : their creed lives in them 

Like blood within their veins, and glows or thrills, 

As questionless. Know this that he who towers 

Above his kind, nor can be taught of them, 

Who trusts his faith to solitary thought, 

Who strains his ear for accents from the skies, 

Or tasks the wavering oracle within, 

Shall feed on heavenly whispers, few and faint, 

And dying oft to stillness terrible ! 

Dunstan then goes on to appeal to Athelwold to ally 
himself with the power of the Church ; but is unsuccessful. 
Athelwold, left to himself, contrasts his own purpose and 
attitude with Dunstan's. 

This Dunstan deals 
In a dissembling policy, in arts 
Tortuous and little for a noble mind ; 
And yet in him there is no littleness, 
For all is done as task-work, wise or not, 
For greatest purposes. This 't is to be 
One of your world-controllers. I 'd not stoop 
From my own pride of virtue and of truth 
To rule the planet. 

He visits Olgar, Elfrida's father, concealing his errand. 
In an interview between Elfrida and her confidante Gil- 
bertha, she is shown divided between attraction toward 
the stranger knight, and a longing for wider conquests. 


Gilbertha. Oh, 't is more 

Than woman wants to win one noble heart, 
And all beyond is danger. I should tremble 
To have the power that lies in thy sweet face 
To dizzy human brains my own might turn. 

Elfrida. Now would that I were but in Edgar's court 
To play this fearful part among his thanes ! 
How glorious in some royal festival 
To feel I was the queen of it ! 

Gil. Fie ! fie ! 

When all this while thou hast this wandering knight, 
Like a stray deer, within the mortal toils ! 
Say, could the ransacked court supply a match 
Nobler than Athelwold ? 

Elf. Oh, he 's an emperor, 

A very demi-god ! Let me say it 
'T is only to thy ear say it aloud 
Though burning blushes rush, against my will, 
To my hot cheek that I do love this thane ! 
Mark, my Gilbertha, what a brow he has ! 
How proud ! how thoughtful ! Peace and war at once 
With all their several virtues, rally there. 
Sometimes his full black eye, taking no note 
Of present object, with its thought dilates, 
And seems to drink in knowledge from the air ; 
Anon it flashes like an energy, 
That seems to scorn dependence for the deed 
Even on his noble arm. Oh, be sure 
His is a spirit that profoundly thinks, 
And can as boldly dare ! 

Gil. Why then athirst 

For wider conquests, lady ? Why just now 
So restless for the court ? 

Elf. I 'd have, my girl, 

Whole troops of lovers and of prostrate knights, 
That I might sacrifice them all to him. 
I hate to be thus caught, like a tame thing, 
Cooped in this place. He '11 think me nothing worth, 
Finding me here alone, unsought, unprized, 
So cheap a victory. But out alas ! 
We know not all this while if the thane cares 
To make the conquest we are grudging him. 


Athelwold, meanwhile, finds himself perilously fasci- 
nated by Elfrida's beauty. 

If on the eye the light of beauty falls, 

The eye must see ; if on the ear there steals 

Soft speech of woman, the unsheltered nerve 

Cannot refuse the melody ; if thought 

Of that embrace which blissful lovers win 

Enters the heart, I cannot make it stone, 

And it must fill with the fast rising tide 

Of tremulous desire I cannot help 

Its pausing pulse or the faint breath it draws ; 

But whilst I feel, I yield not. Love with me 

Is but a pain, an exquisite endurance, 

Where reason listening to the throbbing heart, 

And hanging o'er its sorrow, gazes down 

Like sage physician on the sick man's couch. 

I taste love's sweetness but in love's despair. 

A bride a beautiful and loving wife 
Grant it a good the chief est good the sole 
Notorious happiness for which we live 
Why, in the name of reason, why alone 

This woman's beauty ? Why her love alone ? 
Could sweet affection from no eyes but hers 
Look out upon me ? could no hand but hers 
Give that soft pressure felt upon the heart ? 
Are there no smiles, no beauty, none but hers 
In this wide world ? Is all that 's dear in woman 
Summed in Elfrida, that I must pursue 
Her only at the hazard of my life, 
And certain loss of honour ? Gracious Heaven ! 
This madness even as I drag it forth 
For utter scorn and mockery lo, my heart 
Claims as her own ! I 'm blotted from the list 
Of reasonable beings ! lost ! lost ! lost ! 

But one resolve but one the spell were broke ! 
My horse ! my horse ! with spurs into his flanks 

I '11 ride to Edgar tell the blazing truth 
As far as tongue can speak it, and then fly 
Forever these deserted shores. Soft, she comes. 

He discerns in Elfrida's bearing that he might win her 


love, but masters himself, and is hastily departing when 
he meets Olgar, who frankly offers him his daughter's 
hand and fortune. For answer he tells him that she is 
destined for the king. 

Olgar. What say you ? What ! 

My daughter wed this royal libertine ? 
I 'd rather give her to the basest hind 
That tills my land. Hold, Athelwold ! 
If I have been a courteous host to thee 
If thou hast feeling for a father's love 
Name not to Edgar that I have a daughter 
Who is, I know it, passing beautiful. 
Do you esteem Elfrida, there she is, 
With half a province for her dowry take her, 
You cannot take more gladly than I give 
But if you heed her not, oh, pray forget 
You ever saw my child ! Play not the spy 
To point that treasure to lascivious theft 
Which to your honorable custody 
Has been with friendly confidence proposed. 

Athelwold. She is mine, Olgar ! mine ! Were all the kings 
On earth my rivals, she is mine ! 

He returns to the court, and tells the king that El- 
frida's beauty has been overpraised, but that for himself 
she is by birth and fortune a suitable match ; and the 
king unsuspectingly relinquishes her to him. Dunstan 
learns the truth, and arranges for its disclosure to the 
king. He then retires to a hermit's retreat, where he is 
beset by terrible doubts as to the very foundations of his 

Dunstan (alone.} I stand on the bare earth, beneath this vault, 
Alone with God and nature. Nature, yes, 
But where the God ? Oh, terrible 
Is this unseen Omnipotence ! Come back ! 
Ye shapes that sat with me erewhile, coine back ! 
Come back, ye devils ! for your hostile rage 
Were comfort in this blank immensity 
That spreads around me, wider, wider spreads, 
One silent, void, and infinite abyss, 


O'ershadowed only with a fear, 

That darkens darkness, of an unknown Power, 

But where no power is seen. [Kneels and then rises again. 

In vain I kneel, 

I cannot shape a presence for my prayers, 
All human thought dies out in the attempt, 
And reason is a chaos. God, where art thou ? 
I call for thee, they give me but a world, 
Thy mechanism ; I call aloud for thee, 
My father, friend, sustainer, teacher, judge, 
They give me world on world, planet on planet, 
Take them away ! They hut encumber heaven 
I cannot see my God ! Why should I pray ? 
Now what is man, O heaven ! that thou shouldst have 
Regard for him, his virtue, or his guilt, 
His homage, or his prayers ? Man tortures man, 
Let man see to it, punish and prevent ; 
Why else didst thou bestow his little share 
Of reason and of social government ? 
Creature most weak, sad, and contemptible, 
The devils do but mock thee when they grin 
Their hideous threats. Think'st thou thy puny life 
Can anger its Creator ? Canst thou give, 
Give or withhold an honour to the God 
That made thee, puppet ? Or, poor jealous fools, 
Do ye contest it as a point concerns 
Your own high honour and prerogative, 
That He should plague ye everlastingly 
For mutual, mad, and transitory sins ? 
Not mine ! not mine ! these thoughts, this blasphemy ! 
It is the whispering demon at my ear 
Pours in these impious doubts. Oh, dark ! dark ! dark ! 
Are all things in this world. 

From his solitude, lie flies back to the court, where he 
comes upon Edgar and Edith. 

Enter DUNSTAN, his manner disturbed. 
Dunstan. Let me be with my fellow-kind. Your hand. 
Ha ! 'T is a king's give me a human hand. 

[Throws aside Edgar's and takes the hand of Edith 
Let me take refuge with nay kind ! 
Thoughts bred in Hell assailed me ; they were sent 
For my humiliation I am humbled. 


Edgar. Not to your king, it seems. But perhaps your slight 
Of him is part of your devotion, saint. 

Dun. Edith, you are in tears. This fickle king 
Has cast you off ? 

Edith. Ask me not let me go. 

Dun. Thy tears confess it. Leave now this cruel court ; 
I '11 plant thee where a kindly sisterhood 
With care and tenderness shall heal thy wounds, 
And bind thy broken heart. In some far abbey, 
Beneath another sky, and if it please, 
Another name, thou shalt be happy yet. 

Edith. The voice of Dunstan, but how much unlike 
The Dunstan that I lately spoke withal ! 
Oh, now thou mak'st me feel, and mourn indeed, 
My wretched weakness. 

Dunstan. Grieve not so much that sin 

Hath found a stealthy passage to thy heart, 
As now rejoice that penitence hath tracked 
Its subtle footsteps there. Sin and repentance 
These two give men religion and their God, 
Their faith, their hope. It is not innocence, 
It is not wisdom claims the skies for man, 
Or wings his soul to immortality, 
'T is guilt that leads to the celestial gate, 
And weeping mercy stands to open it. 

Edgar. And whilst you rave, or sermonize a girl, 
Your monarch, in his palace, may stand by, 
May speak, address you, insolent proud priest, 
And wait in vain an answer ! 

Dun. lam bent 

On charitable deed am occupied 
With deep and serious thought. Go to thy pander 
Consult with him some newer lust entrap 
Some fresher victim for one sensual hour 
Kill all her days to come. Such are thy deeds, 
Such are thy noble thoughts. I cannot gloss, 
Or parley with them now. When next I need 
The king I '11 speak with thee. [Going with Edith. 

Edgar. And thou, lewd minx, 

Wilt thou conspire with him ? Wilt thou too brave me 
In my own palace walls ? Go with that priest, 
And dearly, bitterly, shalt thdu abide it. 

Edith. Let me not part in anger with thee, Edgar, 


'Tis I I only that am wronged, 

I only suffer here yet let us part . 

In sorrow, not in anger. 

[Rushes towards him, but Dunstan restrains her. 

Dun. Thou 'rt his no more, 

He has repulsed thee thou art mine I will 
Protect thee, even from thyself, fond woman. 

Edgar, Release thy hold and let her come to me, 

Dun. I attend. What is this mighty threat 
Which cannot find fit utterance, as it seems, 
Even from a monarch's threat ? Oh, have I lived 
In severe abstinence from all delights 
That make life dear to man, and courted pain 
For the great liberty she brings, and now 
Is there a mortal power shall threaten me ? 
What is it, Edgar ? Oh, thou dost compete 
With unembodied spirit. On my life 
Where canst thou hang a threat, or plant a wound ? 

Edgar. I can complete the sentence if you force me. 
There was a Dunstan, abbot of Glastonbury, 
Was banished from his country. 

Dun. And he ruled it 

Even from his exile, and the man returned 
Archbishop, as I think, of Canterbury, 
And ere he set his foot upon the soil, 
He had the power to set another king 
Than him who banished him, upon the throne. 
So runs the narrative. O God of Heaven ! 
I thank thee for this strife \ Here here my faith 
In all its fulness is restored to me. 
I am that Dunstan thou hast given in charge 
To subdue monarchs and to rule a people 
I am that Dunstan whom in this vile body 
Thou hast allowed with angels to commune, 
And with the powers of Satan to contend 
I am that Dunstan still retained on earth 
To walk so long with men, that regal pride, 
Assailing thy dear church, may meet its check, 
And none be greater than the priest of God. 
Behold I pass before thee with my charge, 
My timid charge, nor shalt thou see her more. 


Athelwold has wedded Elfrida, and is living with her 
in seclusion. 

Elfrida. And you can find content, my Athelwold, 
Here, in this place, with only your Elfrida ? 

Ath. Less than content, and more than happiness. 
How pass these hours, no tongue I think could tell, - 
The down upon an angel's wing 
Not fleeter, softer, or more tremulous. 

Elf. Your love it wanes not, though the first sweet moon 
Of wedded life be waning fast ? 

Ath. Ah no ! 

I have f oreborne to weigh thy spirit, dear, 
Or rob this period of its perfect bliss, 
By any dark perspective, but be sure 
'T is no frail love could live in such a sea 
As in my bosom is now running high ; 
Less passion were despair. Here, on thy neck, 
Would that I now could breathe my last, Elfrida ! 
I gave all else of being for this bliss 
It has been mine why should I live beyond ? 

Elf. You talk the sweetest wildness, Athelwold, 
And give the sweetest kisses therewithal, 
That ever lover dealt in. 

Ath. Love is wild, 

And from his cradle has the wildest thoughts. 
I could make strange confessions. 

Meantime his secret has been betrayed to Edgar by 
Dunstan's contrivance. The court jester sings in the 
presence of Edgar and Edith a song which conveys to the 
king that he has been cheated by his favorite noble. A 
messenger now announces to Athelwold the king's ap- 
proach. Athelwold tells Elfrida the truth as to his for- 
mer mission, and suggests as their only means of escape 
that she disguise her beauty by some artifice during the 
king's visit, and afterward they will take refuge on the 
Continent. But Elfrida is piqued : 

Elf. From all which story now first told me, thane, 
I gather this I was marked out to be 


The queen of England, and the messenger 
Wooed for himself instead. 

Ath. And won thee, dear. 

Won thee forever is 't not so ? 

Elf. And further 

That this ambassador, to gain his ends, 
Slandered my beauty to his royal master. 

Ath. Which love will amply justify to thee, 
Though in my memory it should rankle still. 

Elf. I have been told that true and valiant hearts 
Would just as soon recant their Christian faith, 
As slander thus the lady of their love. 
Surely it was a cold, considerate love 
That could consent to such an artifice. 

Ath. Cold and considerate ! Oh, what words are these ? 
A change, Elfrida, has come over thee, 
An altered manner, and a tone which I 
Have fought against, refusing to receive 
Into my mind their due significance. 
Considerate love ! By Heaven ! I purchased thee 
With loss of all men value upon earth. 

Elf. Of that you best may judge. It seems that I 
Am here the person wronged, yet through thy tale, 
Which well expounds thy falsehood to the king, 
And thine own peril, I have heard no word 
Which speaks of my irreparable wrong. 

Ath. Thy wrong ! I made thee wife of Athelwold. 

Elf. I have been libelled, cheated of a crown, 
Kept here in secrecy, your guilty prize, 
Told to begrime my cheek to the foul hue 
You doubtless gave it in your narrative, 
And, last of all, am promised as reward 
Of spousal tame obedience fair exchange 
For royal honours pilfered from my brow 
A banishment to Rome. What 's Rome to me ? 
Be sure you give it out to all your friends 
That you have hid me in this privacy, 
And now exile me, out of very shame 
Of my deformities. 

Ath. Bear witness, Heaven ! 

I doubted not Elfrida would have deemed it 
A nobler destiny to wed with one 
Who honourably loved, than to be queen 


Of a lascivious monarch, faithless, vain, 
And fickle as the wind, But low indeed 
Must Athelwold have fallen to play the part 
Of his own advocate. 

Elf. Oh, give me back 

My maiden state, and let me play the game 
Of life out fairly ! What hadst thou to come 
'Twixt me and England's monarch ? It was mine 
To choose or to reject. But justice now, 
Redress and restoration of my rights, 
You cannot give 't is folly to demand. 
Even the poor show of sorrow which were here 
So safe you deign not to put on, nor speak 
As one who has his peace to make with me. 

Aih. Let the king come ! throw wide the doors for him ! 
I have no wife. She whom I took for mine, 
She is already Edgar's. Vanity 
Has seized at once each passage of thy heart. 
O God ! and did I give my very soul 
To this mere mask ! 

Elf. What insulting gaze 

Is this you fix upon my face, my lord ? 

Aih. Insulting ? Oh, no, no ! I do admire, 
Thou supernatural mischief ! do adore, 
Thou sweetest incarnation of the power 
That tempts but to destroy ! Oh, thou fiend, 
Incomparably armed to clutch men's souls, 
All Hell does worship thee ! Nay, let me look, 
Give me leave still. 

The king arrives, is captivated by Elf rida's beauty, and, 
when alone with Athelwold, turns fiercely upon him for 
his treachery. Athelwold makes no defence or resist- 
ance. The king, relenting a little toward his old favorite, 
offers to spare his forfeited life if he will consent to a 
divorce from Elfrida, for which some pretext can be in- 
vented. Athelwold refuses the king may take his life, 
but he will not assist in his scheme for wedding Elfrida 
by accepting a divorce though his own love for her is 


Edgar. Then aid 

In this divorce. 

A th. Not with your canonist. 

Edgar. Madman ! But thus it is. Men of your stamp 
Long while so wise, discreet and disciplined, 
Take they some single passion to their breast, 
They are self-willed as Satan, nothing daunts; 
Honour and priestcraft, they outface them all 
It is their will in open day they fling 
Their conscience down before the gaping crowd, 
And it may roar aloud, they can defy 
The universal storm. That fever past, 
Lo, they are cold again as rocks, unmoved 
As adamant, and come this very world 
With sober counsel and with friendly aid, 
They have their virtue then their scruples then 
Nor of a hair's-breadth can be turned aside 
Out of their mulish path of rectitude. 
Yet what hast thou to do with honour more, 
Who didst betray thy sovereign, false thane ? 

Ath. Who spoke of virtue who of rectitude 
Who here of honour breathed one single word ? 
Not I not I ! the simple " I will not," 
Was all my answer. What ! shall none but kings 
Be peremptory ? Thou mere selfish man, 
Stranger to generous thought, fall I within 
The scope of thy rebuke ? Could one step sink me 
To the poor level of your majesty ? 
Are years of discipline, and all the pride 
Of virtue in one error lost ? Not so. 
I look that wretched error in the face 
Know it for what it is but I '11 not grow 
Like to my fault by gazing on it. Honour 
May show on me like tarnished panoply, 
Bruised, battered, and decayed I know it yet 
An armour of good proof. 

Elfrida has at first toyed with the fancy of a royal con- 
quest. When she has charmed the king by her beauty, 
she learns from Gilbertha that Athelwold has been thrown 
into prison. Still for a moment she dallies with the 
thought of queenship. Then Gilbertha's horror recalls 


her to her better self. Meeting Edgar again, who now 
makes bold suit to her, she realizes his worthlessness. But 
her remorse comes too late. Either Athelwold must die, 
or the king will either seize her as his mistress, or drive 
them forth as beggars and outcasts. Athelwold in his 
prison is visited by Dunstan, who now tries once more to 
win him to the church. 

Dunstan. Joy is a weak and giddy thing, that laughs 
Itself to weariness or sleep, and wakes 
To the same barren laughter ; 't is a child 
Perpetually, and all its past and future 
Lie in the compass of an infant's thought. 
Crushed from our sorrow all that 's great in man 
Has ever sprung. In the young pagan world 
Men deified the beautiful, the glad, 
The strong, the boastful, and it came to nought; 
We have raised Pain and Sorrow into Heaven, 
And in our temples, on our altars, Grief 
Stands symbol of our faith, and it shall last 
As long as man is mortal and unhappy. 
The gay at heart may wander to the skies, 
And harps be found them, and the branch of palm 
Be put into their hands; our earthly church 
Knows not of such ; no votarist of our faith 
Till he has dropped his tears into the stream 
Tastes of its sweetness. 

Ath. Wherefore this to me ? 

Dun. Because to spirits wounded but not weak 
The church is more than refuge, it transmutes 
Calamity to greatness. Athelwold, 
The same bold promises that church held forth 
To the rich noble, to the favoured thane, 
The envied of a court, she proffers still 
To him who by his angry sovereign now 
Is pillaged, captived, and condemned to death. 

Ath. If to my death, why talk of promises ? 

Dun. The vow divorces. Not his rage alone 
The amorous Edgar seeks to gratify : 
Behold the path of safety as of honour. 

Ath. (Rising.) I hear and hear not. What I am become 
You partly know, but how it is within, 


How blank and desolate, ye cannot tell. 
My life is gone from ine claims not a care 
Lies on the future an unvalued thing, 
Untended and unowned. 

Dun. Think of the passing hour, think of the peril 
That in each moment rides. Let me conduct thee 
Now to some sanctuary 

Ath. That I may kneel 

Perpetual liar in your temples ? No, 
There is an honour to the absent God, 
To the veiled skies a chastity of speech. 
Dunstan, I can in you discern a spirit 
Of no mean order, but I know my own 
Not subject to it ; all in vain you seek 
To mould its destinies. The god who hung 
On the scathed rock the vulture at his heart 
Dowered with high wisdom and eternal pain, 
I share his spirit, though I lie too low 
To share the vision. 

Elfrida comes in, having received from the king the 
password which gives authority over the guards. By 
every plea she appeals to her husband's heart. 

Elf. Condemn me not unheard. My lord, my lord, 
I do entreat thee, hear me ! I was weak 
I was a very child my trial came, 
Surprised, and overthrew me. Would to Heaven 
That trial might but come again ! I Ve learned 
More of my heart in these few dreadful hours 
Than all my life had taught I do know now 
How I would meet it. Oh, be merciful ! 
Had you, my lord, shown but a little pity 
On my first wavering thought, had you but deigned 
When my rash anger was subsiding fast 
To reason with me, and my weak chagrin 
To soothe with kinder speech, deigned but a little, 
A little solace to my pettish pride, 
Oh, you have flattered when there was less need 
I had been tractable you would have saved me. 
I was a child, and you you met my anger 
As equal meets an equal was it well ? 


The woman that is beautiful ye love. 
But wrong as much by that high estimate 
Which makes and leaves her weakest of her sex. 
Say, Athelwold, will you condemn forever 
For one brief hour of weakness ? 

But Athelwold is inexorable. We feel that if her sin 
alone were in question, he might relent ; but to have for- 
feited his own honor for a prize which has proved so poor 
a thing seals up in him all fountains of tenderness. He 
scornfully bids her back to Edgar. She eagerly offers to 
share with him poverty and exile, it is all in vain. 
Driven desperate she proposes to slay Edgar and share 
his throne with Athelwold. Either that, or for he is 
still immovable his own death ! He throws her off ; 
she calls the guard, and with a gesture gives the signal for 
his instant death. Dunstan, returning with the king to 
save Athelwold, comes too late. The miserable woman 
cares nothing for his rebukes, her heart is with the man 
she has murdered ; she will seize all earth now has for 
her, the throne ; but she speaks her own sentence. 

Oh, ye wise priests that have one constant song 

For all men and all seasons, ye but know 

Scantly the human heart. Ye weigh a sin 

Ta'en in its final full accomplishment, 

And weigh its penance out but of the sinner 

And how he came to stumble on the crime, 

How little do ye reck ! But yesterday 

I was a woman beautiful and vain, 

The malice of the world could say no worse; 

One little day, one angry fluttering thought, 

And it has come to this ! Go, scan this change, 

Go, weigh this heart, and to a fraction tell 

Its sum of guilt say what the sort of wretch 

I am amongst the damned. Turn o'er your books 

Ruffle their leaves peruse and ponder well 

Oh, ye '11 not find it there. 

As the nobles approach to do homage to the new queen, 
she falls with a shriek on Athelwold's body and the cur- 
tain drops. 



(From the Memoir.) 

IN the summer of 1842 a great grief befell him. His 
dear mother died at the age of seventy-five, having sur- 
vived her husband nineteen years. I have spoken of the 
peculiar tenderness between the mother and son. Some 
friends who remember her well have described her to me 
in her later years, placid and smiling in her arm-chair, 
knitting away, with William seated on a footstool beside 
her, kissing her hand, interrupting her work by his play- 
ful and tender raillery, she pretending to chide, she, so 
proud, so fond ! Into his intellectual nature, his thought- 
life, the dear mother did not and could not enter, but she 
had a boundless love for him ; his comforts, his tastes, 
were paramount with her he was her first object al- 
ways ; and his sister, Mrs. Walker, the " dear Esther " of 
the early Glasgow letter, writes to me: "I shall never 
forget the desolation of heart William expressed when the 
grave closed over our mother." Later, his wife and he 
held it as a treasure in common that both were the young- 
est and peculiarly loved children of their mothers, and 
never felt their hearts more closely knit together than when 
speaking of them. I believe that he spent the winter of 
that first orphan year with a married sister. Afterwards 
the dreary London lodging life to which Mr. Lewes refers 
must have set in. 

The autumn of 1843 was spent by my husband in Paris, 
where the lectures at the Sorbonne were his especial 
interest. I have before me a note to his sister, Mrs. 


Weigall, characteristically describing his position in a 
French boarding-house: "Stuttering out my broken sen- 
tences of French, thinking it a great good fortune if the 
simplest thing I utter is understood, and a great honour if 
the dullest person in the company will condescend to talk 
with me." 

I know that for a time William Smith went the West- 
ern Circuit, but to him it proved u so expensive and prof- 
itless he had to relinquish it." Probably he had already 
done so at this time, for in the summer of 1845 he made a 
tour in Switzerland. How intensely he enjoyed it appears 
in a paper, " The Mountain and the Cloud," written on his 
return, and published in " Blackwood's Magazine." 

The winter following was spent in Brussels at the house 
of his eldest brother Frederick (who had for some years 
lived in Belgium), where William had the cheerful com- 
panionship of young nieces. It was there that he wrote 
" Sir William Crichton," l which appeared, with a reprint 
of " Athelwold " and of his two early poems, in a small, a 
very small, unpretending volume, published by Pickering 
towards the end of 1846. This small volume was never 

1 Sir William Crichton ranks with Athelwold in power and beauty. 
Serjeant Talfourd, indeed, gives it the preference, though such a 
judgment seems questionable in consideration of the unrelieved 
gloom which darkens the later drama. Its most impressive and ter- 
rible figure is a monk who, while blameless in conduct, is haunted 
by a profound scepticism, which makes him seem to himself and to 
others the guiltiest of men, and who voices the most melancholy 
sense of the nothingness to which life is reduced when faith is de- 
stroyed. The other elements of the story are scarcely less tragic, 
including a conflict between public and private duty, in which either 
choice gives but a maimed virtue ; while Fate at last whelms all in 
irremediable disaster. The contrast is wonderful between that side 
of the author's personality which his wife depicts in these pages 
equable, sweet-tempered, joy-giving and that aspect of gloom- 
iest contemplation which this drama displays, a gloom which seems 
the heavier and more unescapable because expressed with such com- 


widely circulated, but it met with cordial recognition from 
a few. Walter Savage Landor was one of those who esti- 
mated it highly. It is to Mr. Weigall that I owe this 
knowledge. He writes thus : " About eighteen years ago 
I saw a great deal of Landor. On one occasion I men- 
tioned William's works. He said immediately : ' I know 
Mr. Smith, and everything he has published. I have a 
great respect for him, sir. There are things in his works 
quite equal to anything that Shakespeare ever wrote.' I 
said I was much gratified to hear him say so, and wished 
the world thought so too. He replied, ' The world does 
not think so now, because it is chiefly composed of fools ; 
but I know it, and I believe some day the world will agree 
with me.' " 

It was in the spring of 1846 that my husband visited 
Italy. 1 He travelled, as usual, alone, and with eager, un- 
resting haste. I have heard him say that he spoke to no 
one ; that the excitement the marvels of ancient art occa- 
sioned was inexpressible ; that he went on from place to 
place regardless of fatigue. 

On his homeward way he became ill, and had to make 
a halt at his eldest brother's house in Brussels. By him 
William was, as I have often heard the latter recall, most 
tenderly nursed. In many particulars there was a family 
likeness between the two men. Both had the faculty of 
inspiring intense affection in those who knew them best, 
both the same refined courtesy in domestic life. Their 
cast of mind was indeed dissimilar, but the elder brother 
fully appreciated the nature of the younger. I shall never 
forget his looking at William with moistened eyes, on the 

1 1 think it must have been before this that the bust given as 
frontispiece was taken. The sculptor, Mr. Weigall, writes of it as 
follows : " I saw then in William the profound philosopher, the pen- 
etrating, calm, judicious critic, and the tender, passionate poet ; and 
I believe, to those who have eyes to see such things, all these phases 
of his character may be found in the bust." L. C. S. 


occasion of a flying visit of ours many years later, and 
saying: "He was always quite different from the rest of 
the world." His daughters, too, most lovingly remember 
the student uncle, so interested in their pursuits, so en- 
couraging, so playful. In him the solitary nature was 
strangely combined, or I might rather say alternated, with 
the eminently social. When he did come out of his own 
element of abstract thought, it was to enter with genuine 
interest into the very slightest concerns of others ; to set 
talk flowing with greater spontaneity ; to bring out the 
best of every mind. He came into a room where he felt 
himself welcome like an influx of fresh air and light. 
Whoever he addressed was conscious of a certain exhilara- 
tion and increased freedom, for he, more than any person 
I have known, " gave one leave to be one's self." 

But it may be asked, Why are not more of his own 
letters quoted to illustrate his character better than the 
words of another can ? I do not know that there are any 
of his early letters extant. At no time of his life does he 
appear to have kept up a large or varied correspondence, 
and he had an especial dislike to letters of his being pre- 
served or referred to. In more than one case I know he 
entreated that they should be destroyed, and (however 
reluctantly) his wish was complied with. I think it pro- 
ceeded from the same quite abnormal sensitiveness that 
made him shrink not only from any allusion to his own 
books, but from the very sight of them. Never was I 
able to keep a volume of his writings on table or shelf for 
three days together ! Silently they would be abstracted 
or pushed into some dark recess. But as to his letters, 
though naturally I am averse to extract from my own 
stores, and I have no letters on general subjects to draw 
from, I know from testimony as well as experience that 
they were quite special in their simplicity and natural 
grace. No one familiar with him could possibly have at- 
tributed his shortest note to any other person. It was 


sure to bear some indefinable stamp of his individuality. 
Here is a passage of his regarding the letters of Southey, 
most applicable to his own : 

The letters, as we advance through these volumes, become 
more and more characterized by that consummate ease and un- 
studied elegance which are the result only of long practice in 
composition ; for the perfect freedom and grace of the epistolary 
style may be described as the spontaneous expression of one 
previously habituated to a choice selection of terms. It requires 
this combination of present haste and past study. The pen 
should run without a pause, without an after-thought, and the 
page be left without a correction ; but it must be the pen of one 
who in times past has paused very long and corrected very 

The influence of William Smith's foreign tours is trace- 
able in his contributions to " Blackwood's Magazine " dur- 
ing the years 1846 and 1847. "Mildred," a tale pub- 
lished in the latter year, the scene of which is laid in 
Italy, contains some descriptions of the treasures of the 
Vatican, which will, I think, be read with interest. 

They paused before the Menander sitting in his chair. " The 
attitude," said she, "is so noble that the chair becomes a throne. 
But still how plainly it is intellectual power that sits enthroned 
there ! The posture is imperial ; and yet how evident that it is 
the empire of thought only that he governs in ! And this little 
statue of Esculapius," she added, *' kept me a long while before 
it. The healing sage how faithfully is he represented ! 
What a sad benevolence acquainted with pain compelled 
to inflict even, in order to restore ! " 

They passed through the Hall of the Muses. 

" How serene are all the Muses ! " said Winston. " This is as 
it should be. Even Tragedy, the most moved of all, how evi- 
dently her emotion is one of thought, not of passion ! Though 
she holds the dagger in her down-dropt hand, how plainly we 
see that she has not used it ! She has picked it up from the floor 
after the fatal deed was perpetrated, and is musing on the ter- 


rible catastrophe, and the still more terrible passions that led 
to it." 

They passed through the Hall of the Animals, but this had 
comparatively little attraction for Mildred. Her companion 
pointed out the bronze Centaur for her admiration. 

" You must break a Centaur in half," said she, " before I can 
admire it. And if I am to look at a satyr, pray let the goat's legs 
be hid in the bushes. I cannot embrace in one conception these 
fragments of man and brute. Come with me to the neighbour- 
ing gallery. I wish to show you a Jupiter seated at the further 
end of it, which made half a Pagan of me this morning as I 
stood venerating it." 

" The head of your Jupiter," said Winston, as they approached 
it, " is surpassed, I think, by one bust of the same god that we 
have already seen ; and I find something of stiffness or rigidity 
in the figure ; but the impression it makes as a whole is very 

" It will grow wonderfully on you as you look at it," said Mil- 
dred. " How well it typifies all that a Pagan would conceive of 
the powers of nature, the great administrator of the world, who 
has the Fates for his council ! His power irresistible, but no 
pride in it, no joy, no triumph. He is without passion. In his 
right hand lies the thunder, but it reposes on his thigh ; and his 
left hand rests calmly upon his tall sceptre surmounted by an 
eagle. In his countenance there is the tranquillity of unques- 
tioned supremacy, but there is no repose. There is care, a con- 
stant wakefulness. It is the governor of a nature whose ele- 
ments have never known one moment's pause." 

In place of the further quotations from " Mildred," we 
give some extracts from the paper on " The Mountain and 
the Cloud." 

The cloud is to the mountain what motion is to the sea ; it 
gives it an infinite variety of expression gives it a life 
gives it joy and sufferance, alternate calm, and terror, and 
anger. Without the cloud, the mountain would still be sublime, 
but monotonous ; it would have but a picture-like existence. 

How thoroughly they understand and sympathize with each 


other these glorious playmates, these immortal brethren ! 
Sometimes the cloud lies supported in the hollow of the hill, as if 
out of love it feigned weariness, and needed to be upheld. At 
other times the whole hill stands enveloped in the cloud that has 
expanded to embrace and to conceal it. No jealousy here. 
Each lives its own grand life under the equal eye of heaven. 

As you approach the mountains, it seems that the clouds be- 
gin already to arrange themselves in bolder and more fantastic 
shapes. They have a fellowship here. They build their moun- 
tains upon mountains their mountains which are light as air 
huge structures built at the giddy suggestion of the passing 
breeze. Theirs is the wild liberty of endless change, by which 
they compensate themselves for their thin and fleeting existence, 
and seem to mock the stationary forms of their stable brethren 
fast rooted to the earth. And how genially does the sun pour 
his beam upon these twin grandeurs ! For a moment they are 
assimilated ; his ray has permeated, has etherealized, the solid 
mountain, has fixed and defined the floating vapour. What 
now is the one but a stationary cloud ? what is the other but a 
risen hill ? poised not in the air but in the flood of light. 

I am never weary of watching the play of these giant chil- 
dren of the earth. Sometimes a soft white cloud, so pure, so 
bright, sleeps, amidst open sunshine, nestled like an infant in 
the bosom of a green mountain. Sometimes the rising upcurl- 
ing vapour will linger just above the summit, and seem for a 
while an incense exhaling from this vast censer. Sometimes it 
will descend, and drape the whole side of the hill as with a 
transparent veil. I have seen it sweep between me and the 
mountain like a sheeted ghost, tall as the mountain, till the 
strong daylight dissolved its thin substance, and it rose again in 
flakes to decorate the blue heavens. But oh, glorious above all, 
when on some brightest of days the whole mass of whitest 
clouds gathers midway upon the snow-topped mountain. How 
magnificent then is that bright eminence seen above the cloud ! 
How it seems rising upwards how it seems borne aloft by 
those innumerable wings by those enormous pinions which I 
see stretching from the cloudy mass ! What an ascension have 
we here ! what a transfiguration ! O Raphael ! I will not 
disparage thy name nor thy art, but thy angels bearing on their 


wings the brightening saint to Heaven what are they to the 
picture here ? 

Look ! there fairly in the sky where we should see but 
the pure ether above the clouds which themselves are sailing 
high in serenest air yes, there, in the blue and giddy expanse, 
stands the solid mountain, glittering like a diamond. O God ! 
the bewildered reason, pent up in cities, toils much to prove and 
penetrate thy being and thy nature toils much in vain. Here, 
I reason not I see. The Great King lives lo, there is his 
throne. . . . 

I have seen hills on which lay the clear unclouded sky, 
making them blue as itself. I have gazed on those beautiful 
far-receding valleys as the valley of the Rhone when they 
have appeared to collect and retain the azure ether. They were 
full of Heaven. Angels might breathe that air. And yet I 
better love the interchange, the wild combination of cloud and 
mountain. Not cloud that intercepts the sun, but that reflects 
its brilliancy, and brightens round the hills. It is but a gorgeous 
drapery that the sky lets fall on the broad herculean shoulders 
of the mountain. No, it should not intercept the beams of the 
great luminary ; for the mountain loves the light. I have ob- 
served that the twilight, so grateful to the plain, is mortal to the 
mountain. It craves light it lifts up its great chalice for 
light this great flower is the first to close, to fade, at the with- 
drawal of the sun. It stretches up to heaven seeking light; 
it cannot have too much under the strongest beam it never 
droops its brow is never dazzled. 

But then these clouds, you will tell me, that hover about the 
mountain, all wing, all plumage, with just so much of substance 
for light to live in them these very clouds can descend, and 
thicken, and blacken, and cover all things with an inexpressible 
gloom. True, and the mountain, or what is seen of it, becomes 
now the very image of a great and unfathomable sorrow. And 
only the great can express a great sadness. This aspect of na- 
ture shall never by me be forgotten, nor will I ever shrink 
N from encountering it. If you would know the gloom of heart 
which nature can betray, as well as the glory it can manifest, 
you must visit the mountains. For days together, clouds, huge, 
dense, un wieldly, lie heavily upon the hills which stand, how 


mute, how mournful ! as if they, too, knew of death. And look 
at the little lake at their feet. What now is its tranquillity 
when not a single sunbeam plays upon it ? Better the earth 
opened and received it, and hid for ever its leaden despondency. 
And now there comes the paroxysm of terror and despair ; deep 
thunders are heard, and a madness flashes forth in the vivid 
lightnings. There is desperation amongst the elements. But 
the elements, like the heart of man, must rage in vain must 
learn the universal lesson of submission. With them, as with 
humanity, despair brings back tranquillity. And now the driving 
cloud reveals again the glittering summits of the mountains, and 
light falls in laughter on the beaming lake. 

How like a ruined Heaven is this earth ! Nay, is it not more 
beautiful for being a ruin ? . . . 

I lie rocking in a boat midway between Vevay and Lausanne. 
On the opposite coast are the low purple hills crouching beside 
the lake. But there, to the left, what an ethereal structure of 
cloud and snowy mountain is revealed to me ! What a creation 
of that spirit of beauty which works its marvels in the uncon- 
scious earth ! The Alps here, while they retain all the aerial 
effect gathered from distance, yet seem to arise from the very 
margin of the lake. The whole scene is so ethereal, you fear to 
look aside, lest when you look again it may have vanished like a 
vision of the clouds. 

And why should these little boats, with their tall triangular 
sails, which glide so gracefully over the water, be forgotten ? 
The sail, though an artifice of man, is almost always in har- 
mony with nature. Nature has adopted it has lent it some of 
her own wild privileges her own bold and varied contrasts of 
light and shade. The surface of the water is perhaps dark and 
overclouded ; the little upright sail is the only thing that has 
caught the light, and it glitters there like a moving star. Or 
the water is all one dazzling sheet of silver, tremulous with the 
vivid sunbeam, and now the little sail is black as night, and 
steals with bewitching contrast over that sparkling surface. . . . 

Mont Blanc ! Mont Blanc ! I have not scaled thy heights so 
boldly or so far as others have, but I will yield to none in wor- 
ship of thee and thy neighbour mountains. Some complain that 
the valley of Chamouni is barren ; they are barren souls that so 


complain. True, it has not the rich pastures that lie bordering 
on the snow in the Oberland. But neither does it need them. 
Look down the valley from the pass of the Col de Balme, and 
see summit beyond summit ; or ascend the lateral heights of La 
Flegere, and see the Alps stretched out in a line before you, and 
say if anything be wanting. Here is the sculpture of landscape. 
Stretched yourself upon the bare open rock, you see the great 
hills built up before you, from their green base to their snowy 
summits, with rock, and glacier, and pine forests. You see how 
the Great Architect has wrought. . . . 

Forever be remembered that magnificent pass of the Col de 
Balme ! If I have a white day in my calendar, it is the day I 
spent in thy denies. Deliberately I assert that life has nothing 
comparable to the delight of traversing alone, borne leisurely on 
the back of one's mule, a mountain-pass such as this. Those 
who have stouter limbs may prefer to use them ; give me for 
my instrument of progression the legs of the patient and sure- 
footed mule. They are better legs, at all events, than mine. I 
am seated on his back, the bridle lies knotted upon his neck 
the cares of the way are all his the toil and anxiety of it ; the 
scene is all mine, and I am all in it. I am seated there, all eye, 
all thought, gazing, musing ; yet not without just sufficient occu- 
pation to keep it still a luxury this leisure to contemplate. 
The mule takes care of himself, and, in so doing, of you too ; 
yet not so entirely but that you must look a little after yourself. 
That he by no means has your safety for his primary object is 
evident from this, that, in turning sharp corners or traversing 
narrow paths, he never calculates whether there is sufficient 
room for any other legs than his own takes no thought of 
yours. To keep your knees, in such places, from collision with 
huge boulders, or shattered stumps of trees, must be your own 
care ; to say nothing of the occasional application of whip or 
stick, and a very strong pull at his mouth to raise his head from 
the grass which he has leisurely begun to crop. Seated thus 
upon your mule, given up to the scene, with something still of 
active life going on about you, with full liberty to pause and 
gaze, and dismount when you will, and at no time proceeding at 
a railroad speed, I do say unless you are seated by your own 
incomparable Juliet, who has for the first time breathed that she 


loves you I do say that you are in the most enviable posi- 
tion that the wide world affords. As for me, I have spent some 
days, some weeks, in this fashion amongst the mountains ; they 
are the only days of my life I would wish to live over again. 
But mind, if you would really enjoy all this, go alone a silent 
guide before or behind you. No friends, no companion, no 
gossip. You will find gossip enough in your inn, if you want 
it. If your guide thinks it his duty to talk, to explain, to tell 
you the foolish names of things that need no name make be- 
lieve that you understand him not that his language, be it 
French or German, is to you utterly incomprehensible. 

I would not paint it all couleur de rose. The sun is not al- 
ways shining. 

There is tempest and foul weather, fatigue and cold, and abun- 
dant moisture to be occasionally encountered. There is some- 
thing to endure. But if you prayed Heaven for perpetual fair 
weather, and your prayer were granted, it would be the most 
unfortunate petition you could put up. Why, there are some of 
the sublimest aspects, the noblest moods and tempers of the 
great scene, which you would utterly forfeit by this miserable 
immunity. He who loves the mountain will love it in the tem- 
pest as well as in the sunshine. To be enveloped in driving 
mist or cloud that obscures everything from view to be made 
aware of the neighboring precipice only by the sound of the tor- 
rent that rushes unseen beneath you how low down you can 
only guess this, too, has its excitement. Besides, while you 
are in this total blank, the wind will suddenly drive the whole 
mass of cloud and thick vapour from the scene around you, and 
leave the most glorious spectacle for some moments exposed to 
view. Nothing can exceed these moments of sudden and par- 
tial revelation. The glittering summits of the mountains appear 
as by enchantment where there had long been nothing but dense 
vapour. And how beautiful the wild disorder of the clouds, 
whose array has been broken up, and who are seen flying hud- 
dled together in tumultuous retreat ! But the veering wind ral- 
lies them again, and again they sweep back over the vast ex- 
panse, and hill and valley, earth and sky, are obliterated in a 
second. He who would ponder what man is should journey 


amongst the mountains. What men are is best learnt in the 
city. . . . 

There is a little church stands in the valley of Chamouni. It 
was open, as is customary in Catholic countries, to receive the 
visits and the prayers of the faithful ; but there was no service, 
no priest ; nor indeed a single person in the building. It was 
evening and a solitary lamp hung suspended from the ceiling, 
just before the altar. Allured by the mysterious appearance of 
this lamp burning in solitude, I entered, and remained in it some 
time, making out, in the dim light, the wondrous figures of vir- 
gins and saints generally found in such edifices. When I 
emerged from the church, there stood Mont Blanc before me, re- 
flecting the last tints of the setting sun. I am habitually tolerant 
of Catholic devices and ceremonies ; but at this moment how in- 
expressibly strange, how very little, how poor, contemptible, and 
like an infant's toy, seemed all the implements of worship I had 
just left ! 

And yet the tall, simple, wooden cross that stands in the open 
air on the platform before the church, this was well. This was 
a symbol that might well stand, even in the presence of Mont 
Blanc. Symbol of suffering and of love, where is it out of place ? 
On no spot on earth, on no spot where a human heart is beating. 

Mont Blanc and this wooden cross, are they not the two great- 
est symbols that the world can show ? They are wisely placed 
opposite each other. . . . 

But from the mountain and the cloud we must now depart. 
We must wend towards the plain. One very simple and con- 
solatory thought strikes me though we must leave the glory 
of the mountain, we at least take the sun with us. And the 
cloud too, you will add. Alas ! something too much of that. 

But no murmurs. We islanders, who can see the sun set on 
the broad ocean had we nothing else to boast of can never 
feel deserted by nature. We have our portion of her excellent 
gifts. I know not yet how an Italian sky, so famed for its deep 
and constant azure, may affect me, but I know that we have our 
gorgeous melancholy sunsets, to which our island tempers be- 
come singularly attuned. The cathedral splendours the dim 
religious light of our vesper skies I doubt if I would exchange 
them for the unmitigated glories of a southern clime. 



(From the Memoir.) 

A COMPLETE and decisive change in William Smith's 
manner of life was now drawing near. I may mention 
an incident supplied by Mr. Weigall which must 
have closely preceded it. " Soon before the Corn Laws 
were repealed," writes Mr. Weigall, " William was urged 
by John Stuart Mill to attend a meeting to aid the advo- 
cates for repeal. The Honourable Mr. Villiers, Mr. 
Mill, and William were the principal speakers, and Wil- 
liam was beyond doubt the most impressive of them all. 
The Chartists at the time were getting rampant, and were 
in great force at that meeting, both men and women. 
They had disapproved of almost every wisely qualified 
utterance of Mr. Mill, but when William opened his 
speech with a most happy and harmonious sentence, the 
women about me said, 4 Oh, what a beautiful speaker ! 
don't disturb him,' and for some time they seemed de- 
lighted ; but when he began with his prescient wisdom to 
caution them against expecting too much from the repeal, 
that the effect of free trade in corn would be to equal- 
ize prices throughout Europe, they began to howl him 
down. William stopped and faced the turmoil boldly, 
and by a very stirring appeal to their candour and sense 
of fair-play secured again their good-will, and sat down, 
the great success of the evening. From what I observed 
on that occasion," adds Mr. Weigall, " I felt convinced 
that could William have overcome his retiring habits he 


would have won distinction in public life." But the re- 
tiring habits were just then on the point of decisively 

I do not know whether it was in 1848 or 1849 that my 
husband acted upon a resolve that must have been for 
some time gathering, the resolve of entirely relinquish- 
ing the pursuit of his profession, and devoting himself to 
thinking and writing, in perfect solitude, amidst the beau- 
tiful scenery of the English lakes. He had made no way 
at the bar ; he was not likely to make any he had no 
legal connections ; his heart was not in his calling ; his 
sensitive nature shrank from collision with purely per- 
sonal aims and ambitions, from the inevitable turmoil and 
dust of " life's loud joyous jostling game." He could not, 
with any hope of success, compete on that arena. And, 
indeed, in addition to other hindrances, his private for- 
tune, seriously diminished by a loan to an unsuccessful 
relative (loan which he in his refined generosity converted 
into a gift), was no longer adequate to the expenses cham- 
bers and circuit entailed on the briefless barrister. Then 
there were other influences at work. The " love of think- 
ing for its own sake " was growing irresistible, and was 
seconded not only by a " passionate thirst for nature and 
beauty," but by that craving for solitude which strangely 
underlay all social charm, all his enjoyment of society, 
which found such forcible expression in his earliest 
poems, and renders portions of " Thorndale " so unutter- 
ably pathetic. Circumstances and character alike now 
pointed one way. There is a line of Browning's that 
sums it all up. Thenceforth 

" This man decided not to Live, but Know." 

My husband has often described to me his first plunge 
into the new life. It was made at Bowness (on Winder- 
mere), a quiet village in those days. There he took a 
small lodging, where the sitting - room opened into a 
garden, and for six months he never spoke to a creature, 


except indeed the few words of necessity to his landlady. 
It comforts one to remember what loving letters from 
sisters and nieces must have varied that solitude, as well 
as what high raptures Nature and Thought bestowed upon 
their devotee. And then the winters were always social. 
Some weeks would be spent at the house of his brother-in- 
law, Mr. Weigall, where there were clever nephews grow- 
ing up and two much-loved nieces, of whom his sister has 
told me he was " the idol and the oracle." Some would 
be pleasantly passed at Bath or Brighton, where he had 
several friends. 

In 1851 his still secluded summer life was varied by an 
incident that might have given a different direction to all 
his future. One day the following letter from Professor 
Wilson was delivered to him. Although it is marked 
" strictly private and confidential," there can be no indis- 
cretion in giving it now and here : 

MY DEAR SIR, Our excellent friend John Blackwood has 
kindly undertaken to put this letter into your hands at Bowness, 
or if not, to find your direction there and forward it to you. 
My health has become very lately so precarious that I have 
been interdicted by my medical adviser from lecturing this en- 
suing session, and I can think of no man so qualified meanwhile 
to discharge for me the duties of my Chair as yourself. I am 
therefore most anxious, without delay, to see you here, when I 
will explain fully to you what will be required from you. As 
yet the matter is in my own hand, and I do not fear but that, 
though laborious, your duties will be agreeable. You will have 
to give a course of lectures on Moral Philosophy to my class 
during my leave of absence from College. It is absolutely 
necessary that you should be with me immediately for a day, 
that you may empower me to say that I can depend on you, for 
not a word can I utter publicly or privately without a perfect 
understanding with you. I shall therefore be looking for you 
in return to this, and be most happy to receive you in my house 
on your arrival. Yours with all esteem, 


6 GLOCESTER PUVCE, EDINBURGH, September 29, 1851. 


Here seemed an opening every way congenial, for 
William had, as we have seen, a great respect for Scotch 
philosophy, and looked upon the duties of a Chair in a 
Scotch University as most honorable and useful. He has 
told me that he asked for two hours of deliberation, and 
carried the matter out, to be revolved and decided in the 
course of his morning's walk. He decided to decline, 
swayed by some scruples (how needless !) as to his fit- 
ness, possibly by some other scruples, for he was too 
truthful ever to profess certainty where he was conscious 
of doubt, swayed, perhaps, by the spell of the moun- 
tains and the life of unfettered thought, by the " spell of 
the desk," on which already lay the early pages of 
" Thorndale." At all events he did decline, nor have I 
ever heard him express a regret that he did so. I gain a 
glimpse of him at this time from a letter of Mr. Black- 
wood's written to me after I lost him: "I remember 
going up to the Lakes a great many years ago, and find- 
ing him all alone at Bowness. It made me sad to leave 
him so solitary, as I felt that his fine sensitive nature re- 
quired some one ever nigh who could sympathize with 

In the May of 1852 a heavy blow fell upon William 
Smith. His favorite brother Theyre, at that time rector 
of Wymondham, in Norfolk, died suddenly and prema- 
turely. Thenceforth Brighton, where Mrs. Theyre Smith 
and her children made their home, became a centre of 
tenderer interest to William, and his constant winter re- 

It was in the same year that my husband exchanged 
Windermere for Keswick Lake, the lovely Derwentwater, 
afterwards so dear to ns both. There the summer soli- 
tude was less entirely unbroken than heretofore. He was 
introduced by an early friend, who had left the Bar for 
the Church (the Rev. J. H. Smith, of Leamington), to 
Dr. Lietch, a physician who had been led by ill-health to 


give up practice in a large town, and benefit a then com- 
paratively retired district by his active and enlightened 
benevolence. How refreshing the society of each to the 
other appears from a letter written to me by Dr. Lietch 
in the October of 1872 : 

In 1852, '53, and '54, when your husband was at work on 
" Thorndale," I saw much of him ; the old felled spruce-tree, 
converted into a rude seat on the hill of Faw Park, is still, or 
was last year, in existence, on which we often sat and talked of 
many things, which, when " Thorndale " was published and sent 
to me by him, were vividly recalled to me. At that time there 
was something of Clarence in him, something (at times much) 
of Cyril, occasionally gloomy flashes of Seckendorf, and fre- 
quently " the perfect tranquillity with which the poet would ad- 
mit, on some most momentous subjects, his profound ignorance." 
The " wistful perpetual argument " which was his life was then 
going on with incessant energy, and was more visible to me 
then than during the last twelve or fifteen years of his life, 
when I saw less of him, and when, indeed, your presence and 
love had silenced many conflicts, and reconciled him to many 
doubts and difficulties in this incomprehensible world. 

Several summers had now been spent at Portinscale, 
a pretty hamlet within a short walk of Dr. and Mrs. 
Leitch's cheerful and kindly home ; but in 1856 an at- 
tractive row of new lodging-houses, and the close vicinity 
of the very excellent library that the town of Keswick 
possesses, induced William Smith to move to 3 Derwent- 
water Place. And there, in a light, pleasant, three-win- 
dowed room, with peeps of lake and mountains, " Thorn- 
dale " was getting finished. 

There is not a word of outward event to add to this 
brief story of retirement from the world. For these six 
or seven years the action halts. But we must dwell a lit- 
tle on the significance of this most characteristic phase of 
the man's life. 


We may say that of the two worlds, the active life 
of society, and the life of thought alone with nature, in 
the former he felt himself helpless, incompetent, astray ; 
while in the latter he was free, at home, and strong. His 
unfitness for active society was partly real, as judged by 
ordinary standards, and partly lay in the distance between 
his fastidious ideal and the possibilities of actual exist- 
ence. Others thought him a success where he recognized 
hardly more than failure. He was considered a delight- 
ful companion in that social intercourse where he thought 
himself out of his element. In his Corn-law speech, with 
the mastery over a rebellious audience, we have a distinct 
glimpse of robust and masculine power ; here seem to be 
" the wrestling thews that throw the world." Yet on the 
whole there is hardly a greater disqualification for success 
in the world of social activity a world whose perpetual 
law is compromise than the disposition which inexora- 
bly craves the perfect and ideal good. That disposition 
was in this man's life-blood. Perfection there is in the 
beauty of nature and to that he turned as his abiding- 
place. To find the perfect, the absolute, is the very busi- 
ness of pure thought, and to that business he could 
wholly surrender himself. With Emerson he might have 
said " Good-by, proud world, I 'm going home ! " And 
Emerson's words of himself (in his journal for 1839) best 
portray the constitution of the spiritual recluse : 

Some men are born public souls, and live with all their doors 
open to the street. Close beside them we find in contrast the 
lonely man, with all his doors shut, reticent, thoughtful, shrink- 
ing from crowds, afraid to take hold of hands ; thankful for the 
existence of the other, but incapable of such performance, won- 
dering at its possibility ; and though loving his race, discovering 
at last that he has no proper sympathy with persons, but only 
with their genius and aims. He is solitary because he has so- 
ciety in his thought, and when people come in they drive away 
his society. . . . Never having found any remedy, I am very 


patient of this folly or shame ; patient of my churl's mask, in 
the belief that this privation has certain rich compensations. 
And yet, in one who sets his mark so high, who presumes so vast 
an elevation as the birthright of man, is it not a little sad to be 
a mill or pump, yielding one wholesome product in one particu- 
lar mode, but as impertinent and worthless in any other place 
or purpose as a pump or coffee-mill would be in a parlour ? 

To the man, and still more to the woman, whose inner 
fibre is all interwoven with warm and close human sympa- 
thies, it is scarcely possible to interpret or even hint at the 
delight which may lie in lonely musing. Says Emerson : 
" It is strange how painful is the actual world, the pain- 
ful kingdom of time and space. There dwell care, canker, 
and fear. With thought, with the ideal, is immortal hilar- 
ity, the rose of joy. Round it all the muses sing. But 
with names and persons and the partial interests of to-day 
and yesterday is grief." 

Lowell portrays Columbus, on the verge of his discov- 
ery, brooding apart from his crew : 

" If the chosen soul could never be alone, 
In deep mid-silence, open-doored to God, 
No greatness ever had been dreamed or done; 
Among dull hearts a prophet never grew; 
The nurse of full-grown souls is solitude." 

Yet the name of Columbus reminds us that the great 
purposes which grow in solitude are fulfilled in society, 
and that he who saw the new world first with inner eye 
led the way to it through intriguing courts and mutinous 
sailors. Moses dwells long in the desert with only God 
for his society, but he goes forth to be leader and servant 
of a nation of emancipated slaves. So must it always be 
with the greatest leaders of men. 

But there are pure and lofty souls who have no vocation 
to be leaders of the multitude. Their service is humbler 
perhaps, but they may be no less faithful to their calling. 
The words put in the mouth of Athehvold speak the au- 
thor's own heart : 


This strange world of ours 
This dire complexity of pain and joy, 
. . . this huge world, 
So lubber great, so intricately fine, 
Beyond the scope of any single eye, 
Beyond the skill of any single hand, 
To scan or regulate, I touch it not ! 
I cannot frame a happiness for want, 
Passion, and toil nor fashion creeds for them; 
I cannot teach, with formal discipline, 
This many-hearted monster how to live; 
I cannot fit the singleness of truth 
To its untold variety. 

Dunstan has his place, and Athelwold has his, and it 
is all in vain that the former speaks his warning : 

Know this that he who towers 
Above his kind, nor can be taught of them, 
Who trusts his faith to solitary thought, 
Who strains his ear for accents from the skies, 
Or tasks the wavering oracle within, 
Shall feed on heavenly whispers, few and faint, 
And dying oft to stillness terrible ! 

No doubt, too, there is some moral deprivation in the 
exemption from the trivial labors and responsibilities of 
domestic and social life. Tennyson speaks truly of 

" The cares that petty shadows cast 
By which our life is chiefly proved." 

But to every man is set his lot and his vocation, and we 
can scarcely wonder that William Smith was drawn from 
the empty form of a barrister's life, from London streets 
and London society, to the seclusion of the Westmoreland 
lakes and his own uninterrupted thoughts. Such a retreat 
might look to those absorbed in the practical service of 
mankind like a flight from the appointed battle and the 
manly task. But of active workers our age has countless 
armies, while the service of the thinker few have the 
capacity to render. Nor was there in this retirement any 
shirking of his share in the world's burden of pain. It 


was not in his power to much lessen that pain in material 
forms ; but the sense of mankind's trouble rested on him ; 
it was that which laid a burden on his mind, the burden 
with which he perpetually strove. Might it not indeed be 
his office to find some interpretation of all the pain and 
sorrow which should itself be some lightening of the load, 
and give some guidance and aid toward bearing it ? Some- 
thing like this, we shall find, was indeed a part of his con- 
tribution to the common cause ; and it was a contribution 
he could only make when so far withdrawn from the im- 
mediate pressure of the crowd as to get in broader view 
and truer perspective the movement of the throng, an 
oppressive jostle to those in its midst, perhaps a trium- 
phant march when viewed from some serene, distant 

So far from being an idler, he was one of the busiest 
of men. His work was of the kind which is never laid 
aside. It was with him while his eyes rested on the land- 
scape, and when in the night he woke from sleep it woke 
with him. He was essaying a task as great as man can 
set before himself, to learn, so far as may be, the plan 
of this universe. None knew better than he how far that 
aim soars beyond the possibilities of full realization. But 
in the unremitting exploration lay a fascination and a pro- 
found delight, as well as a noble sadness. Hours there 
were of joy in the perception of some truth, the harmoniz- 
ing of old contradictions, the rapt contemplation of ineffa- 
ble realities ; joy like that of 

" Some watcher of the skies 
When a new planet swims into his ken." 

And meanwhile, month by month, the book was growing 
under his hand, the chart that registered his discoveries 
and his perplexities ; the flags planted on new islands ; the 
signals and memoranda for future explorers who should 
push farther the quest. How dear to the author is the 


book as it slowly matures in his brain, slowly shapes itself 
in visible form ; what sacred gestation, as of the child 
nourished by all finest distillation of its mother's frame, 
her long-prepared, supreme gift to the world ! 

Other work there was, less arduous ; the series of con- 
tributions to " Blackwood " went on without interruption, 
some four or five a year ; reviews of works on meta- 
physics, poetry, biography, natural science, law. There 
is one paper in August, 1851, on " Voltaire in the Crystal 
Palace," which greatly tempts to quotation. It is the im- 
aginary comments of the shrewd worldling, as he strolls 
through the great exhibition, and surveys the material 
trophies of the century. The vein is altogether charming ; 
with rapid, penetrating glance at social and industrial 
problems ; with satire for follies of the day, and through 
all the amiable temper which befits a holiday. It is " the 
philosopher at the fair ; " the large mind looking in 
kindliest survey on the society from which it stands apart. 

But this isolation deepened that loneliness which from 
youth had lain upon his sensitive and gentle nature. At 
heart he was a true lover of his kind. He longed for ten- 
derness, for communion. Some subtle withdrawal, some 
invincible reserve, held him as if in a crystal prison, 
through which he looked with yearning eyes to the fair 
forms of humanity, on which his hands could not lay hold. 
The quotations we have given from his early poem, " Sol- 
itude," show something of the perpetual revulsion from 
the mind's delight in its visions to the heart's ache in its 
loneliness. It is the household atmosphere which makes 
the shrine of human happiness. From its warmth he was 
quite apart, from the clinging hands of little children, 
from the tender cares which solace while they task, from 
the pure blessedness with which husband and wife look 
into each other's eyes. It was a characteristic completion 
of his isolation that he had not the society of animals, 
he did not like dogs. One wishes for him in his solitary 


rambles at least the companionship of a faithful four- 
footed friend, to break in upon his master's reverie 
with a nose thrust lovingly into his hand, or draw a smile 
to the abstracted face as he plunges into some doggish 
delight of frolic or exploration. The winter visits to 
friends there were indeed, and even in the summer some 
occasional brief companionship. But how alone the man 
seems ! What waste of a heart that might enrich some 
other ! What starvation of a nature formed for the full, 
glorious estate of love ! Can Heaven do no better for its 
creature than this ? 



IN the years when William Smith was " a fair yellow- 
haired child, with great black eyes full of the new joy 
and wonder of life," another child's life began. A young 
Scotch physician had gone into Wales to push his for- 
tunes, and there found a wife. She was of an old Welsh 
family, of higher social station than his, and her relatives 
were slow in becoming reconciled to her marriage with a 
young doctor without advantages of rank or wealth. But 
he had the force of brain and of character to win his way 
in the world, as he had won his wife. He practised his 
profession for some years in Chester, and finally settled in 
Wales, near Denbigh, in a lovely home which was named 
Dolhyfryd, " Happy Valley." Here in 1818 Lucy Caro- 
line Cumming saw the light, and here she grew to woman- 
hood. A sister and a brother completed the family, of 
which she was the youngest. 

The mother, " a bright, energetic, delightful woman," 
loved in later years to talk of her Lucy's childhood. The 
young nature began early to show its quality, swift, 
vivid, and ardent. At eighteen months the child could 
repeat a great number of hymns, and at two years she 
could read in any ordinary book. Before she was ten, 
she read and delighted in a class of books of which Mo- 
liere's plays, in the original, is mentioned as a specimen. 
When she was about ten, her taste ran to theological 
reading, and she used to discuss these topics with a friend 
of her own age, being herself a staunch Calvinist. 

But this sort of precocity does not indicate the highest 


gifts with which the child had been dowered, as if by 
good spirits, at her birth. One might fancy that the mix- 
ture in her veins of Scotch and Welsh blood had given 
her all the intensity and tenacity of the one, the per- 
ftrmdum ingenium Scotorum, together with the ardor 
and spontaneity of the more southern temperament. Above 
all she was rich in capacity to give and to inspire love, a 
trait involving for herself possibilities almost unbounded 
of joy and pain, of hope and fear ; while for others it 
bore throughout her life an unmixed fruitage of blessing. 

Her mother, we are told, used to talk to her when she 
was a mere child as to a grown-up person, telling her all 
her troubles and anxieties. Every one loved her, and her 
old nurse told one secret of the charm in saying, " You 
can come so near Miss Lucy ! " She was on the friend- 
liest terms with the po.or families in the neighborhood ; 
and it is related that in one of these, a child being danger- 
ously ill, and she having known of it, when there came 
sudden relief to the child the father's first words were, 
" Run quick and tell Miss Lucy ! " 

She grew up into most attractive maidenhood, beau- 
tiful, brilliant, a young Diana in her spirit and her 
charms. From the age of sixteen she was the object of 
one devoted attachment after another. But the heart 
was not lightly to be won in its stronghold. The ro- 
mances which followed each other did not touch her with 
their flame, not though she was sometimes sought with 
so true a passion that two men who failed to win her 
vowed to be faithful to her memory all their lives, and 
never married. More than once she acknowledged an at- 
tachment, and even a charm, in which there seemed the 
promise of a mutual happiness, but always the tie 
snapped instead of strengthening ; something proved to 
be wanting that her fastidious taste, her exacting nature, 
required, and as she afterward said, " In those days I 
never met my master" 


There was a young attendant in the family (whose 
father was in Dr. Cumming's service), a year younger 
than Lucy, and this Mrs. Jane Browne has written down 
some of her early recollections : 

You ask me how long I remember her. It is from my ear- 
liest thoughts, and the love was never blighted. I am sure I 
can remember many things before I was four years old. I can 
never find words to describe how beautiful and noble and good 
they were [the mother and daughters]. Miss Lucy never said 
anything but what she meant ; and how clever in everything 
painting, drawing, music, wax flowers. She did not often sing 
nor play the harp, but Mrs. Wrench [the sister] did, and such a 
beautiful voice ! Miss Lucy was very clever in making experi- 
ments with Dr. Gumming, and gathered many fossils. How 
pleased I was to be waiting on them, seeking and fetching any- 
thing they wanted. I have now a small work-box she gave me 
when I was about eight years old. ' She gave me lessons and 
heard me read to her. I used to do their hair, and assist them 
to dress, and I never remember hearing a cross word from her, 
and if any one else did she always sided with me it was al- 
ways love for my short-comings. She always said, " I wish I 
had Jane's hair " mine then curled all over, and I could not 
get any of it straight, and I wished I had hers, which was beau- 
tiful and worn in plaits. My dear Mrs. Gumming used to enjoy 
hearing what was passing between us. Mrs. Gumming was very 
charitable, and every needy one had only to apply to her and 
was never sent empty away. She took her daughters with her 
to visit the poor and sick, and I was an interpreter for those 
who could not speak English. I can remember Miss Lucy's 
learning to read Welsh, which I could not do then, that she 
might read the Bible to the aged and the sick. What a power 
she had of discerning and devising everything in the right way ! 
She was so just and her judgment so pure, and I can remember 
well the regard and reverence that was shown her when young 
in years, even by those who knew no respect of persons. I 
never could discern in others what she possessed, nor knew any 
so angel-like or so handsome as they both were. 


Miss Annie Clough, another life-long friend, thus pic- 
tures her in early days : 

It was a summer evening, and I had come from a busy life 
in Liverpool to pay a visit to Lucy Gumming hi her beautiful 
home hi the country, Dolhyfryd, about a mile from Denbigh. 
I found her hi the garden with her mother and friends, and a 
favourite dog. She came forward to welcome me, and make me 
feel at home after my long journey. The long, low house, half 
cottage, half mansion, covered with creepers, and standing on a 
velvet lawn shaded by trees, looked very inviting and sheltering 
in the June sunshine. It lay folded round by hills clothed 
with lovely woods, a stream flowing through the grounds with 
a murmuring, soothing sound. * After a while we walked by the 
stream and through the wood, talking of many things. We 
were both young, and each full of our dreams and visions of 
the future. Her life was then as a dream of joy and delight ; 
mine was full of toil and anxiety, and yet the dreams were not 
wanting. Was it on this account that she was seeking me out 
as a friend, and trying to cheer me ? We were so different 
that I felt half perplexed by her advances of friendship. We 
had been acquainted before, and she knew my family and my 
brothers very well, and was very sympathetic in all that con- 
cerned me. The next morning was partly spent in the drawing- 
room, which was upstairs, overlooking the lawn. It was full 
of curious quaint old furniture, a great collection of books, many 
of them rare. Mrs. Gumming, her mother, had her own occu- 
pations, to which she was much devoted. Her poultry and ani- 
mals took up her time, and old Betty, the head servant and 
factotum, helped with the housekeeping. Dr. Gumming, the 
father, who was a philosopher full of improvements and inven- 
tions, was generally in his study, or working at the Denbigh 
Infirmary, which was his great interest and occupation. We 
had many walks and drives about the neighbourhood. Lucy's 
brightness, intelligence, and great interest in things in general 
gave a charm to our intercourse, but I still wondered why she 
wanted one so serious, and with such strict views of life, for 
a companion. But we parted friends, for her charm and her 
grace had won me. 


Afterwards I met her in Chester. To this ancient city 
Lucy often went, and attended with friends at the balls, which 
in those days were resorted to by the county families about 
Chester ; Lucy belonged by her mother's side to these families. 
I have seen her full of enjoyment and brightness, but sometimes 
her heart was not satisfied still she was ever a bright orna- 
ment to the scene. 

She was above the middle height, slender, and " car- 
ried herself like a queen." Her walk had a swan-like 
stateliness; and together with this dignity there was a 
sweetness and sympathy that made the shyest and most 
awkward person instantly at home with her. Yet her 
amiability was by no means indiscriminate, and she could 
be haughty and icily cold in manner. Her head was small 
and beautifully shaped, and she wore her masses of dark 
hair coiled around it. Her face was delicately oval ; the 
eyes dark gray, large, and intent. Her skin was very 
fair, and creamy white ; the lips straight, thin, and firm, 
the teeth very white and even ; a rather pointed little 
chin. " But no words can convey the charm of her face, 
the sparkle and brilliancy and bewitchingness of it." 

A life-long friend, afterward Mrs. Ruck, thus describes 
her in early years : 

I shrink from writing about her, because it is like an at- 
tempt to perpetuate the beauty of a lovely flower, to paint the 
glories of a sunset, or to describe the subtle essence of some 
delicious odour. She knew how to run the gamut of feeling 
from grave to gay in such a way that one almost laughed and 
cried at the same time. In the early days of our friendship 
she was very orthodox in faith, and clung to the evangelical 
teaching of her youth. We had many a discussion on those 
points, because no one had ever been able to persuade me of 
the existence of a devil, or the truth of everlasting punishment. 
She knew the Bible almost by heart, and has told me that she 
acquired this knowledge by reading it for hours in a cave by 
the seaside when she was a child. Her marvellous gift of mem- 


ory made everything that she had read hers forever. Armed 
as she was with such a weapon, I fared badly in debate, but 
her kind heart found some way of reconciling her to my errors, 
and our differences of opinion never in the least estranged us. 
As an instance of her powers of memory, I may mention that I 
have known her, after listening to a French sermon by Pastor 
Rousel, go home and write it out ; it was afterward shown to 
its author, who pronounced it to be verbatim what he had said, 
with the transposition of one sentence. Her love of animals 
was very great, and they responded to it in the same way 
that human beings did. I used to listen with amaze to the 
many things she had to say to dogs, and I have seen her flush 
with pleasure at the sight of one. To her everybody brought 
their sorrows and perplexities, well knowing they came to an 
inexhaustible fountain of sympathy. To one so gifted there 
came many lovers, and these when rejected always turned into 

Here is a letter, written when she was twenty-nine, to 
another life-long friend : 


MY DARLING MARY, I cannot, you must feel that I 
cannot, tell you how I grieve to find that you are suffer- 
ing from delicacy which affects the spirits through the 
health. And yet I don't know that I quite attribute the 
depression you speak of to physical causes. And I do 
know that of all explanation it is the most unsatisfactory 
to the one who suffers. Dear Mary, of course I cannot 
expect you to leave your kind aunt's care for that of other 
friends whose power of making you comfortable would be 
less, only I cannot help thinking that when you are better 

you may still fulfil your promise to the Miss L s, and 

I cling to the hope this gives us also. You who want 
complete rest, to bathe your very soul in silence and quiet, 
after all the excitement and long-sustained effort through 
which you, my precious one, have passed where could 
you find such quiet more absolute than here ? in this lit- 
tle green nest where all day long you would have undis- 


turbed the companionship of your books and thoughts, 
and mine should be negative or positive as you wished it. 
I would be a loving presence, darling, not a talking com- 
panion. And then, am I mistaken in thinking that I un- 
derstand you and your complex sadness better than the 
happier, perhaps more healthful, natures around you do ? 
I experimentally know (and what avails knowledge to us 
unless distilled from our own heart's blood ?) that depres- 
sion may be vague and yet most real. I know the mood 
in which all earth's good and glad things come before the 
frightened spirit as temptations, and earth's sorrows as 
despair. And I know that all this may be clouding the 
life within while droll words are on the lip, and the smile 
caught from others' laughter is bright and ready. The 
sense of unreality, uselessness in the past, weakened ener- 
gies and limited scope for the future of the flowers of 
one's nature dropped faded and scentless away, and the 
branches reft of their summer beauty and in autumn bear- 
ing no fruit. I do not expect this to seem to you rhap- 
sody artificial, exaggerated. It is one thing to know 
all this from one's own consciousness, and another to fos- 
ter the feeling and to yield to its dominion. And I do 
think, darling Mary, that for you this cloud will be most 
transient, leaving no token but the rainbow glory and the 
refreshed and livelier growth of all fair and lovely things 
within you. I have always the same bright anticipation 
of the return of one to whom years can work no change 
in you. I have not forgotten the pretty playful allusion 
you mentioned in one of your dear letters some time 
ago. Your image is as engrossing as it ever was, and 
I feel a sort of conviction that so much true devotion 
is not to be wasted. And it was more with reference to 
this than to any future conquests or present admiration 
that I so much rejoiced to hear from all that you were 
looking so lovely. I fear illness must now (at least to 
your own view) have altered you for the present, but that 


is nothing. Dear Mary, though there is but a fortnight's 
difference in our ages, still I cannot in your case realize 
that at twenty-nine youth is fled from you. Early youth, 
of course, but still enough of youth and its graces remains 
to give fascination to wit and brilliancy, and irresistible 
charm to a frank kindness of manner in virtue of which 
all hearts are yours that you like to claim. You know 1 
speak now hardly as I should of you to others that I 
say less than I mean and you are above pretending to 
think this flattery. There is one point which I am not 
able by my own experience to speak of, and perhaps I 
shall disappoint you by my opinion of the value of the 
intellectual excellence to which you look back as to that 
which might have been and is not now your own. I think, 
dearest, that your time has been far better employed in 
making all around you happy, in writing long letters to 
friends who warmly welcomed them and counted their 
pages, in working when others worked, joining readily in 
the aimless (it may be) talk of morning visitors than 
it would have been in concentrated pursuit of any accom- 
plishment, any science. What can a woman do, even if 
mental culture be brought to the highest pitch ? Are 
there twelve authoresses of the present day whose fame 
you would care to have ? Or if, pursuing the studies that 
attracted your girlish taste, you had astronomy and his- 
tory at your fingers' ends, do you think you would be a 
more delightful companion than you are now, with your 
ready intuition, your love of knowledge, your facility of 
expression ? I believe you would have lost by the process. 
To regret that in the years gone by we have done so little 
toward enlisting habit on the side of good, our real good, 
on the side of religious duties, self-denying impulses 
that I can enter into, though I have no reason to believe 
that you have failed in this as I have done. After all, 
dear Mary, is it not well that something should teach us 
that " this is not our rest " ? That we should " begin to 


be in want," that so we may arise and return to One who 
will see us " a great way off " that our immortal na- 
tures are not contented with the mortal and the finite? 
This yearning for something better, something more real, 
something that we can grasp and make our own I think 
that though it may sadden us a while, it is the dark hour 
before day, the promise of an expansion of our usefulness, 
and the earnest of things to come. I know something of 
your wish for change of scene, but I have not a hope of it 
for myself. I know more of your wish for some engrossing 
study, but then indolence is always fighting pitched bat- 
tles with this wish, and nine times out of ten it comes off 
victorious. Have you a thirst for metaphysics ? I do not 
say this to many, for I can imagine the laughter it would 
provoke. But in Novalis and Fichte's Idealism, I think 
one would so rest one's mind from the cares and annoyances 
of the actual, the things seen and temporal, which like the 
fogs of our climate hide all the sky and make even the 
earth dull and dismal. How nice to read those books 
together, to compare notes we, friends for so many 
years, and I think understanding each other better and 
loving each other more on every birthday ! With me it 
is so. 

To this same friend for whom her prediction of hap- 
piness was amply fulfilled these verses were sent two 
years later. They were published in " Good Words " in 


Good New Year wishes for my friends ! 

Good New Year wishes truly ! 
I feel my heart beat high with these, 

Yet cannot speak them duly. 
The very phrases others use 

Half jar upon my ear ; 
They seem to miss my inmost thought 

Of blended hope and fear. 


" A happy year, with many more 

To follow in its train ! " 
So runs the hackneyed form, as though 

Long life to all were gain ! 
As though bright suns had only power 

To colour, not to fade ! 
As though no growth of human flower 

Were fairest in the shade ! 

My many friends, I dare not breathe 

A common wish for all ! 
A honeyed thought to you or you 

To others were but gall. 
So different the heart withinj 

The outward life around, 
You scarcely see the self -same sky, 

Or tread the self -same ground. 

There are who wake from troubled sleep, 

This birthday of the year, 
To feel their anguish but renewed 

By sounds of general cheer : 
Some voice is still that greeted them 

On last year's opening day 
Some eyes that dwelt on theirs with love 

In earth are put away. 

Last year had days and nights that passed 

In sorrow soothed by sharing ; 
Now there is none to soothe and bless 

By calm and cheerful bearing ! 
Their eyes may weep in dimness now ; 

No further need for hiding ! 
Of smiling back their loving flow, 

For fear of loving chiding. 

There are, to whom a cup of joy 

So foaming o'er is given, 
It seems too full for Life to drain 

It seems as Earth were Heaven ! 
They fain would fling their weight of bliss 

On Time's too rapid flying, 
Stretch the glad moments into years, 

And stay the years from dying ! 


There are whom still the Future lures 

From present pastures fair, 
With promise of a fuller life, 

With whispered " Then ! " and There ! " 
Their hope-lit "Now" seems cold and slow, 

They pray to Time, "Speed fleeter ! 
Set, summer suns ! pass, tranquil hours ! 

And make our bliss completer ! " 

And there are others, who foresee 

Throughout the coming year, 
No rainbow in their leaden sky, 

No special hope or fear : 
Their morrows tell the tale inscribed 

On yesterday's dull page ; 
No wayside flower to mark the path 

That leads from youth to age. 

My many friends, how should I find 

A wish ye all might share ? 
I dare not utter one at all, 

Or only as a prayer 
That He who knows each spirit's wants 

Beyond my love to read, 
May mould my wishes to His will, 

And crown them thus indeed : 

May give the lonely patient hearts 

The weight of Life to bear ; 
May nerve the loving and beloved 

The thought of Death to dare ! 
Before you all One Presence go, 

To guard and guide you right ; 
To some, the pillared cloud by day, 

To others, light by night ! 

When she was about in her thirty-sixth year, a sharp 
change came to the family life. The father was equally 
generous and unbusinesslike, and the mother too had a 
large and liberal disposition, without much appreciation of 
the value of money ; the household went on in a free and 
open-handed way and thus it happened that Dr. Cum- 


ming's affairs at last became very much involved. Lucy 
had hitherto hardly known how things stood, but now she 
was called into council. When she learned the state of 
the case, her mind was soon made up. Everything must 
be sold that could be sold ; her own portion must be given 
up ; nothing could be kept back so long as a single bill 
remained unpaid. And so it was done. The lovely home 
was given up to strangers ; most of its pretty and refined 
adornments, the wife's diamonds, the old books and pic- 
tures, were sold. Then, in 1854, they moved to Edin- 
burgh, and there, on an extremely small income, Lucy set 
to work to make a home amongst strangers. The art 
of economy was wholly new to her. The narrow rooms 
were made to look graceful and home-like with a few 
furnishings that had been saved from the wreck. She 
had been in the habit of making occasional translations 
from the French and German, for her own amusement; 
now she turned this faculty to account and earned a little 
money by it. She met with the kindest of helpers in Mr. 
Thomas Constable, who found work for her among the 
publishers. She sometimes wrote tales for " Chambers' 
Journal," but she had no complacency or pride in original 
work ; it was only, she said, " to turn an honest penny " 
that she ever did it. She did not care enough for her 
stories and verses to keep a copy of them, nor did she 
even keep copies of her translations, though this work she 
enjoyed. " Debit and Credit " (Freytag's Soil und Ha- 
ben) was one of her translations, and the rendering of 
Victor Hugo's poems into English was a delight to her. 
In Edinburgh new friends soon became devoted to her, 
including some for whom she had a very warm affection 
and admiration through life. 

But there were trials harder than those of straitened 
means. Her father had become entirely and hopelessly 
blind. Her mother between whom and Lucy the tie 
was always peculiarly strong and dear was now an 


almost helpless invalid, with chronic and deep depression. 
To the care of them the daughter devoted herself with 
her whole heart. She read to her father ; did all in her 
power to relieve and cheer her mother, from whom she 
could never now win a smile, so grievous was the gloom 
which the body's failure had irflicted; husbanded their 
little income, and increased it as she could by work for 
the booksellers. 

The family now included a young grand-daughter, whose 
father (the husband of Lucy's sister) had received a for- 
eign appointment, whither he went alone, so that their 
home too was broken up. This little girl, Mary Wrench, 
was always most fondly attached to her aunt Lucy, and 
now for several years was for the most part in the same 
household with her. It is to her recollections, and to the 
life-long and intimate correspondence between them, that 
we owe many of the most graphic traits in this volume. 
She says : 

My aunt was always my ideal, she always seemed to me 
the most beautiful and the most infallible person possible. She 
had a way of illuminating everything she spoke of, and making 
it interesting, and even to a child she would give of her best and 
spare no trouble. I never cared then for friends of my own 
age, thinking them so dull compared to what I was used to ! 
And she made a great companion of me, she had so large 
and generous and confiding a nature that she could not live with 
any one without sharing her interests. She used to rely on one's 
discretion, and made one feel it a crime to repeat anything that 
could give pain or make mischief. 

How she strove to make ends meet in those days, and how 
hard the restrictions of small means must have been to her gen- 
erous nature ! She so loved giving and helping, and wanted noth- 
ing for herself. And all she gave or did was done in a royal, 
ungrudging way. She loved to share all she could with others, 
if she had not money to share, it was her time, her interest, 
her affections, which she gave with all her heart and at once. 
She was a most loyal friend, and she bound her friends together, 


interesting each one in the other, and though amongst such a 
large band of friends as she had there were those of totally 
different ways of thinking, she had a marvellous way of fusing 
them, and making each seem attractive to the other. 

The letters to Mr. Thomas Constable yield some vivid 
glimpses of her life at this period. 

(1855.) It is very seldom that a delay prefaces a JVb, 
but do not, and do not let Mrs. Constable, think me 
ungracious because I return to my original decision. I 
know that I am losing a very pleasant evening spent with 
my kind friends, but though my dear mother could not 
bear to lose me my enjoyment, and I am sure believes 
that she wishes me to go, yet I could observe a shadow 
upon her dear face when I went down with my much 
shaken resolve. And this very evening, when calling 
upon nice kind people, I was warmly invited to spend an 
evening evenings to which I replied that I never 
meant to go out. We do not do anything very well, nurs- 
ing included, without giving ourselves wholly to it. Nat- 
urally I was only too fond of society ; and in short, it is 
best so and I am very much obliged to you both for 
wishing to give me pleasure. 

(1855.) Herewith comes to torment you Mr. 's 

manuscript. The Messrs. Chambers must be made aware 
that if they lose it 'tis as much as the writer's life is 
worth. I send you his innocent letter. Ah, how our 
small doings and small thinkings dilate when we look at 
them long, at them only. And how they shrink when we 

compare them with those of others. But good Mr. 

in his glen ponders his hobby till the hills are filled with 
the shadow of it. But what were life without our hob- 
bies ? I am very tender of illusions, and your better na- 
ture is tender of all things. 

(1856.) I have got quite fond of Allonby. My 
mother prefers it to any place we have yet been at. 


There is not a smart bonnet or hat to be seen far or near, 
and that is the perfection of a bathing-place in her eyes. 
Oh, I shall be so sorry to take her back to her prison ! 
But what can be done ? My father would be so wretched 
in the country. This long, long holiday has been of great 
use to her, and we must be thankful for its repose and en- 
joyment. It could not have been so long, nor could that 
of last year have been taken, but for my translations. I 
know that this will be a pleasure to you to hear, and you 
do not wonder at my having so earnestly longed for and 
so gratefully received the pleasant work. ... I have 
been expecting proofs to-day, but none appear. Some- 
body I hope revises them after me, but I do not trust to 
any one doing so, instead of me, owing to the prejudice 
that exists against my handwriting as illegible, which 
might prevent an efficient comparison of proof and MS. by 
any one else. There was a long sentence about " For- 
gram " (the words were " for years "), and the printer, to 
make it all fit in with his preconceived notions, had al- 
tered " which " to " who," and made quite a consistent 
passage, with " Forgram " for its hero. At first I thought 
he must be some German author, and wondered I had for- 
gotten his name ! 

(Undated.) Last night I heard Thackeray. The per- 
fect nature, the self-possession, the entire freedom from 
effort or self-consciousness of any kind, and the musical 
voice were all so fascinating I could have sat there till 
midnight. Yet how slight these lectures are ! * A mere 
pleasant telling of what every one knew. And how sad 
and hollow the heart feels when he has in his cold, impar- 
tial *way praised the worst characters, given the devil his 
due, in short, and brought into strong relief the failings of 
the best. I can't define the impression he made upon me. 
Yet surely all who heard must have left the room utter- 
ing from their hearts' depths the old expression, " Vanity 
of vanities, all is vanity ! " 

1 The lectures on the Four Georges. 


(1856.) Will you think me odiously egotistical for 
sending you this scrap just when you are setting out and 
have your hands so full ? I want your kind sympathy for 
two minutes, that is all. No one knows how much hope 
they have of anything till the hope be taken away. I 
thought myself prepared for this, yet had I been so I 
should not have that serrement de coeur which in my case 
won't bring a tear, but which makes me wish for them. 
Well, these small things too are all ordered for us. How 
my paths have been hedged up ever since I could walk 
alone ! How many fair prospects I have seen shut out ! 
The hope of work which had replaced the hope of happi- 
ness must be given up, like it. I am sure it was not ill 
done yet had they thought it well done they would have 
qualified the refusal by some nice courteous fayon de par- 
ler. However, though this be a heavier trial than you can 
guess, you will like to know that I am quite sure it is all 
right, and part of the discipline to which I desire to com- 
mit myself for oh, how I need discipline as well as de- 
liverance ! 

(1856.) Very soon you will be out of all reach, but 
while still in Thistle St. 1 will make my appearance 
every now and then and insist upon a hearing. I want to 

know whether is going with you. How charming to 

escape a little from that stormy wife of his. Now does 
not that give you a shudder ? " Good heavens ! Did I 
ever tell that indiscreet woman of my dear friend's home 
cross ? Perhaps she has told half a dozen people." No 
such thing. I am discreetly indiscreet, and a safe repos- 
itory for many a secret. . . . My tale was but a short 
affair, and my sister having read it decides that it is too 
true to life, too simply and undisguisedly portraiture, to 
be even offered to any magazine. 'T is but a little thing, 
and I believe I shall tear it up. " Household Words " 
would reject it as too religious in tone at all events. But 
I am sure it has no merit, no piquancy, no plot, and I 


know now what I always believed, that I have no talent 
for fiction. 

(Undated.) Mr. Constable, dear Mr. Constable, you 
are really vexed with me ? Oh, how I shall hate all books, 
all miscellanies, translations, and literature, if you take a 
dislike to me, and quarrel with me ! What if I said I 
liked you a little less because you had said this or that ? 
I like you so much, I value your friendship and kindly 
interest so much ! You will not withdraw them ? You 
see it 's all so new to me. And I dare say I am foolishly 
sensitive, proud, vain. But never mind, please ! After 
all, what did I say ? That you had been fickle about the 
poor dear book which I wish I had never seen ! Why, 
you are mortal you must have faults. I don't know 
what they can be, if you were not fickle about that book. 
I hold to that point ! You know 't is an admitted fact 
that no one is faultless. Pray, pray, don't write me as if 
seriously vexed ! I say a good deal in half -play, and I 
never thought you would have taken my note as really 
meaning any more than it did. You will not dislike me ? 
I have so much to sadden me. I have been doing Perthes, 
and oh, if it will but do ! Will you not come and see me, 
and let me read it you some day soon ? You and Mr. 
Gordon made me a very kind offer, I know. And if you 
don't come soon and tell me you are not vexed, I '11 accept 
it, write a true fiction, and you shall lose horribly by me. 

For the sake of a familiar picture of the Edinburgh life 
from her own pen, we may here run a little ahead of our 
story, and give a letter to her niece written in the autumn 
of 1857. She had just returned from a visit to the west 
of Ireland, in which the mother's health and spirits had 
greatly improved. 

I have really longed to write to you for the last fort- 
night, especially since our arrival in these familiar quar- 


ters, but I have been too busy to sit down for half an 
hour. I thought you would be disappointed rather than 
pleased by a short letter. First of all, let me commend 
your unassisted and successful packing efforts. The 
Gran's best bonnet has emerged unscathed from its prison, 
and things in general " turn up smiling." The unpacking 
is no light undertaking, with the arrangement, into one 
chest of drawers, of what we need for winter wear, and 
the shutting up in boxes of what we do not need. I have 
not yet emptied all our packages, but I think I shall go 
to sleep to-night with a sense that a place has been found 
for everything, and that everything is in its place. My 
dear, order is essential to happiness, and happiness is 
essential to good nature, which makes the happiness of 
others, and so let you and me try hard to keep our drawers 
neat. To both an irksome task, but to you far easier 
because no fatal habits have coiled with strong hold round 
your young nature. Habits, however, are coiling, day by 
day, and I rejoice to believe that you are really desirous 
they should be good habits. 

Perhaps your Gran told you that at Carlisle I had so 
overpowering a headache, and was so violently sick, that 
to proceed was out of the question. It was the second 
sick headache I have had in my life-time, and when I think 
how often your poor dear mamma suffers from these pros- 
trating attacks, I do feel as if one could never sympathize 
enough with her on that score. Was it not charming to 
save by our avoidance of the cruel express, by which your 
G. P. [grand per e] whirled off, more than enough to 
cover our delightful beds and good breakfast at that 
pleasant County Hotel which you well remember? The 
following morning we went to the cathedral, which is 
beautiful, but far less so than Chester ; were in time for 
the service, and then prowled in the market-place, where 
a charming second-hand bird-cage was sought ; and looked 
into shops, where Gran had to be forcibly withheld from 


buying ine gloves and a new brush, and where she invested 
in a few pins and needles, firmly persuaded they were 
better than in Edinburgh ! We had no fellow-travellers 
to or from Carlisle, and at half -past eight our cabs Mary, 
luggage, and Poll in one, we in the other stopped at No. 
1, and Irish Mary came out to meet us. Oh, my child, 
what an awkward giantess it is ! How she can ever be 
made to look neat or taught the proprieties of waiting- 
maid life I do not know. My heart sometimes sinks, I 
confess, but Gran is full of hope, and rejoices in her 
Hibernians. Biddy, nice old soul, bore her journey 
admirably ; they actually stumbled upon a Bundoran man 
in Glasgow, and in short nothing could be more pro- 
pitious than their journey hither. Our room looked very 
nice and comfortable, and Gran at once declared herself 
reconciled to No. 1. The following morning she was up 
with the dawn, intent upon going out to buy a cage for 
Poll, who was fast pulling his travelling van to pieces. 
So we were dressed and ready to set out before ten, when 
dear Mr. Constable arrived. In his kind welcome, he 
first took both my hands, patted me on the back, and 
finally kissed me, which seemed quite natural. I declare ! 
He could not stay long, but he asked me to dine there on 
Monday, to meet three clever men, without their wives, 
Mrs. Constable and I to be the only ladies. I told him 
he would spoil his party, for men discuss all subjects more 
freely together, and generally feel themselves obliged to 

talk down to women, as that odious K talked down 

to the children, you remember. I 'm not sure I shall go. 
I should like to listen unseen, but I should be too conscious 
we were spoiling their enjoyment to derive any myself. 

You should have seen your Gran in the bird-shop! The 
man there was after her own heart, and so were his feath- 
ered family. A large black cat strolled in, and he told us 
that Charlie such is the pleasing fellow's name is left 
with the birds day and night, na}% that he will go and 


catch a mouse in their cages without touching a bird. 
Before he came to this sense of duty, however, he ate about 
five pounds' worth, and had many and severe burnings of 
the nose and other chastisements. Your aunt was thrown 
into a moralizing vein by this singular fact, and could not 
but think how little we should dare to plead temperament 
in excuse for sin when even an animal can so put off its 
old nature and be disciplined to duty. A charming cage 
was got for Poll, and I wish you could see how ornamental 
he is, with his scarlet tail glowing through the bright bars. 
We did a little shopping on our homeward way, and Gran 
delights in green-grocers, and will, I am sure, be out 
daily. Your aunt Matilda sent to ask whether she should 
come Thursday afternoon or Friday morning, but as I 
expected dear Mrs. Jones I said Friday. However, the 
evening wore away, and no Mrs. Jones appeared, so I 
sallied forth, taking Mary with me, and found that Mrs. 
J. was prostrated by a violent sick headache. Mr. J. 
showed the regiments of bottles, some to make him well, 
some to keep him so. You know what I think of this 
unreasoning faith in doctors, and trust to their mixtures 
and concoctions, rather than to the observance of the gen- 
eral laws of health. But rather than diet themselves and 
take regular exercise people will take medicine to the end 
of the chapter. Yesterday morning E. came in to ask me 
to a very gay dinner party, which I declined, but I must 
make an effort or misanthropy will creep over me. How- 
ever, I am clearly right to eschew cabs. Poor E. suffers 
much, and the sister, husband, and children, being ruined, 
have been indefinitely invited by that most excellent R., 
who indeed is not the fright I think him if " handsome is 
that handsome does." We were not out yesterday, it was 
so wet and wretched, but the day went much too fast in 
unpacking and arranging, and snatches of reading. I '11 
tell you of my latest votive offerings, a pretty blue and 
white knitted short cloak from dearest Mrs. Lyon, for my 


wear, bat I give it to Gran, as it decorates her much ; from 
Mima and Hessie beautiful black and gold pins, which 
dress me at once, and dangle and ring in the most en- 
chanting way, they are a noble votive. From dear 
Mrs. Jones a bottle of real eau-de-cologne, from the 
Cologne shop. Mrs. Jones came last night and had cocoa 
with us. She then took me back to your aunt Matilda's, 
where I had coffee, and your aunt Matilda and I went to 
the Philosophical Institution, where a very objectionable 
man delivered what I thought a trite and pompous lecture. 
I dare say I was wrong. We have dined, dear Chick. 
That dark den without a fire is incompatible with appetite, 
but in every respect economical ! The streets are greasy 
and dirty ; we think of a cab to do a little calling in. Your 
Gran wants to get out. She is so well, and so amused. 
Her activity is tremendous. I must not be too late for 
the post. Your D. and C. [Debit and Credit], dear, I 
passed on to Mima, as your uncle B. had given me a copy. 
All the newspapers I have seen speak favorably, but there 
will be no profits. 

How the woman reveals herself in this letter! The 
little things which make up a woman's life, told with a 
touch so graphic ; the heartiness which gets out of every 
petty incident its fullest value ; the racy diction ; the 
love of animals ; the fond, anxious tenderness for the 
mother ; the swift, incisive estimates of people ; the humor 
which plays so kindly ; the almost careless mention of her 
own literary work ; the wise counsel to the young girl, so 
gentle and unobtrusive, yet weighty, there is a volume 
of homely philosophy in the little sentence about order. 
And everywhere, we see a strong and gracious spirit, doing 
its service and learning its lesson amid the humblest cares, 
which love and fidelity ennoble. 

A life so faithful and so full as this, shall we expect 
to find at its heart a contentment with its lot ? Or is 


there something not given to it, some deep want which 
being bravely borne prepares for a gift held in reserve by 
Heaven ? At a later time, the woman gives us a glimpse 
into her deepest life in these years, she is writing of a 
time in 1856, when with her mother, improved but not yet 
restored, she had gone for a while to Keswick in the Lake 
country. " I remember so well one day that summer ; 
alone, under the dark shadow of a yew-tree on the hill- 
side, whence one saw beneath one the rocks and the river 
of sweet Borrowdale, I remember so distinctly a mental 
struggle. I never had any other than one ideal of happi- 
ness, love intensely felt and returned. Do those who 
really care for love care for anything else ? I never did. 
But I believed that for me that one ideal was not intended. 
My life had had its vicissitudes of feeling and imagination. 
I thought that the future had no great joy for me, only 
duties. I desired, I prayed, to be satisfied without per- 
sonal happiness" 



THE thoughts long brooded in silence and in solitude 
were given to the world at last. "Thorndale, or The 
Conflict of Opinions, by William Smith " was published 
in the autumn of 1857. This book did not fail of an 
audience. By its beauty, its profound thought, and its 
rare union of piety with open-mindedness, the attention 
of the intellectual world was caught. Eminent critics on 
both sides of the Atlantic discussed and praised it. The 
day of its special fame was perhaps brief. But it may be 
said to have won a permanent place in literature. It was 
one of those books which exert an influence beyond their 
fame, which enter as a potent factor into many minds, 
and find at least a few devoted and life-long lovers. As 
a mirror of the higher phases of the age's thought, it may 
have in after times a monumental significance. 

" Thorndale " is a book of some six hundred pages. The 
closeness of thought in every paragraph, the wide range 
of topics, and the subtle interblending of diverse elements 
make it an almost hopeless task to justly epitomize its 
contents. Yet it is a book which needs both interpreta- 
tion and comment. 

Its most distinguishing characteristic is the union of 
the religious temper and the finest sensibility with an im- 
partial, receptive attitude toward the most various theo- 
ries of the universe. Materialist, theist, Catholic, and 
evolutionist receive an equally candid hearing. The ver- 
dict on some points and those sometimes of the highest 
interest appears to be left undecided. 

" THORNDALE." 173 

The work to which the reviewer is called is to resolve 
and recombine the elements of the book ; to distinguish 
between its substantial contribution to thought and those 
traits which are wholly subjective and personal ; and to 
trace the lines of a harmony arising out of the conflict. 
To do this seems to be in fulfilment of one of the book's 
closing suggestions ; " I think I could have brought into 
harmony what seems at first a mere conflict of opinions, 
and shown that every genuine utterance of thought, 
whether from Cyril or Seckendorf or my poor friend 
Montini, might have some place assigned it in a large and 
candid view of our progressive nature, and the position 
we, in this century, occupy in the great drama of human 

Clarence, who utters this sentence, with Cyril and Seck- 
endorf whom he mentions, and the Charles Thorndale to 
whom he speaks, are the chief personages in the story. 
Cyril is the representative of youthful doubt passing into 
fervent Catholic piety ; Luxmore embodies the poetic, im- 
aginative temper, unconcerned about creeds ; Clarence, a 
landscape painter, is the sweet-natured and rational en- 
thusiast for human progress; and Seckendorf by no 
means the least attractive figure is a robust German- 
English physician, who voices " the spirit of denial " 
incredulous of spiritual entities and social Utopias, but 
with a vigorous grasp on the present concrete world. 
Thorndale writes in the first person ; the book consists of 
his Diary, some chapters of reminiscences, a series of dis- 
cussions among the group of friends, and an expanded 
statement of belief by the one to whom Thorndale inclines 
most favorably. Thorndale's slight autobiography bears 
small resemblance to the history of William Smith. But 
the opinions which Thorndale expresses as his own may 
be taken with little qualification as those of the author. 
The various speakers are also in the main personifications 
of different phases of the author's own thought. It is 


the debate in his own mind which he pictures in the form 
of conversation in the Khigi inn or by the lake side. We 
have to look below the surface of the book's narrative, to 
find the real clue to the progress of the thought, and then 
to construct for ourselves a synopsis of the results reached. 
The proper starting-point is the story of Cyril, which 
we have ventured to take as representing in its early por- 
tion the experience of William Smith, and as such have 
already quoted. It is the natural starting-point of a mind 
bred under a dogmatic Christianity, and roused to in- 
quiry. But, for the next step, we are not to follow Cyril 
into the Catholic Church, but to accompany Charles 
Thorndale as he wanders through England in his youth 
a disappointment in love serving in the story to send him 
forth into the world. He sees and ponders the miseries of 
the poor. 

I am passing along a highroad. It is in the north of England, 
amongst some of the most beautiful scenery we possess. A 
stone wall skirts the road, just high enough, as is so often the 
case, to conceal all the prospect from the pedestrian. . . . 

Within that wall, pacing the soft turf by the margin of the 
lake, or standing in mute contemplation of the scene, was a 
gentle lady, who, from the studied simplicity of her dress, evi- 
dently belonged to the Society of Friends. She was absorbed 
in the beauty around her. One felt that her spirit reflected all 
the peace and serenity of the scene. Placid, contemplative, 
pious, I could almost read her thoughts. " Will heaven be very 
unlike this ? " I hear her murmur to herself. " Can it be 
very much more beautiful ? Can I, should I, hope for a scene 
more lovely to meet the angels in ? " Such, I feel persuaded, 
must have been the tenor of her meditations. 

Without that wall, on the hard highroad, came by, at the same 
time, a cart drawn by a miserable horse. It came slowly 
enough, yet clattered noisily along, as the wide shafts swayed to 
and fro against the sides of the starved beast that drew it. Be- 
side the cart walked a ragged woman. With one hand she held 
on by the shaft, that she might be partly dragged along ; the 

" THORNDALE." 175 

other and disengaged hand brandished a stick, which descended 
in repeated blows on the wretched animal. Each blow was ac- 
companied by foul and odious curses, which, though addressed 
to the unoffending brute, I interpreted as merely the ungovern- 
able outbreaks of her own tormented and miserable spirit. 
Peace, beauty, goodness, were things unknown to her words 
for which she had no meaning. 

And this, too, was woman ! The same clay of humanity had 
been moulded thus, and thus ! Both women, both walked 
through the same scene, at the same hour. The one needed but 
the companionship of the pure and holy to feel that she was 
already in heaven ; the other if such a thing will bear the nam- 
ing W as walking through this paradise very like a soul in hell. 

Then, again, I asked myself, Must it be thus always ? This 
creature of rags, and pain, and curses, has become what she is 
by no natural eccentricity of character. Why could not both 
have been gentle, refined, pious, cultivated ? (Pages 101 103. 1 ) 

... I sat down under the portico of a church in Regent Street ; 
a place which, at that time, was a good deal infested by loiter- 
ers of all descriptions. I found myself amongst beggars, itiner- 
ant venders of knives and slippers, women with large pieces of 
wash-leather displayed for sale, Italian boys with their images, 
and the like. It was November ; I had on a travelling cloak 
and cap ; I was probably taken for a foreigner. . . . 

Out there in the street before me rolled by carriage after car- 
riage elegant equipages, as they are called. How very pal- 
pable it became to me, as I now sat here on the pavement, that 
those who looked out of carriage-windows regarded us as a quite 
different race of beings, as quite out of the pale of humanity. 
Evidently the dogs in the street, the lamp-posts on either side 
of the way, or the heaps of mud scraped up for the scavenger's 
cart, were just as likely to occupy their thoughts as the human 
group to which I then belonged. The lady and gentleman who 
walked past us, with stately or with careless step, were equally 
indifferent. Unconscious they of our presence, unless as obsta- 
cles in the path, to be especially avoided. We were at their 
feet, but far beyond their vision ! Soh ! thought I this it is 
to sit on the lowest round of the ladder. It is well to try the 

1 The references are to the pages of the second (or third) edition. 


place. How very near the dirt we are ! What if this were 
verily my position in society ? I imagined for the moment that 
it was, and identified myself with these children of the streets. 

I learnt something from my new position, and the novel 
society around me. I felt that the passionless neglect of our 
superiors was returned by us with something far more energetic. 
You simply pass us by ; you have no hostility, nor dream of ex- 
citing it ; you think no harm, you would not hurt us no, nor 
would you hurt the crawling toad upon your path ; you avoid us 
both, and for the very same reason the contact would be dis- 
agreeable. Simply you do not love us this is the extent of 
your feeling ; but ours ? I detected that we return neglect 
with hate ! . . . 

A coarse fellow stands near me. A gentleman with his dog 
passes. The dog thinks proper to assail the man does not 
bite, but barks, as if he was very much disposed to do so. The 
gentleman calls off his dog chides and reproves the animal 
but, as the manner of the English gentleman is, he does not cast 
a look, a glance, apologetic or otherwise, upon the man ! All 
passes as a breach of discipline on the part of the dog. But the 
man followed not the dog, but his master followed with a 
scowl that made my blood run cold. " Our turn may come one 
day," he muttered between his teeth, " and then ! " some hor- 
rible imprecation was lost in the jostle and turmoil of the street. 

Without a question, we of the pavement, if we had our will, 
would stop those smooth-rolling chariots, with their liveried 
attendants (how we hate those clean and well-fed lackeys!) 
would open the carriage-door, and bid the riders come down to 
us ! come down to share good heaven, what ? our ruffianage, 
our garbage, the general scramble, the general filth. 

" War to the knife rather ! " they of the chariots would ex- 
claim. " War to the death rather than this ! " and with good 
reason. Meanwhile they ride there softly, thinking no evil 
thinking very little of anything at all. (Pages 109-111.) 

These pictures best indicate the change of view that 
comes to the young and ardent spirit, which at first was dis- 
tressed about its own salvation, and dismayed by the in- 
trusion of doubt between itself and its God. The doubt 

" THORNDALE:' 177 

is not at once dispelled ; the vanished God does not clearly 
reappear. But there has been a diversion and a broaden- 
ing of interest. The immediate wants of others, the press- 
ing and momentous problems of this human society, have 
aroused his sympathies and his thoughts. And when he 
reverts to the earlier questionings, it is by another ap- 
proach. The problem of his own soul has become the 
problem of the whole. The fortunes of the human fam- 
ily, what have they been, what shall they be ? Do they 
move forward toward propitious consummation, or circle 
in stationary eddies ? This life of the race, this frame- 
work of nature in which it is set, are the manifestations to 
us of the Supreme Power ; in what aspect do they dis- 
close that Power to us ? 

" God Immortality Progress, these are my three 
watchwords, these are three great faiths which I desire 
to keep steadily before my mind. ... I can say and 
am happy in saying it that these three faiths are mine." 
So at the last says Thorndale and this may fairly stand 
as the author's Credo. 

Beyond this, the book leaves us in doubt how far his 
speculations and sentiments have crystallized into convic- 
tions. It is evident that he sympathizes with the view elab- 
orated by Clarence as a " Confessio Fidei ; " yet the im- 
pression is left that he holds it under some reservations and 
doubts ; while it wholly omits some of the most momentous 
topics on which the earlier discussions have turned. In 
the personal musings of Charles Thorndale, which make 
up Book First, we feel sure that William Smith is speak- 
ing from his inmost heart ; but in these we sometimes find 
uncertainty where the Confessio is positive ; and again we 
find hopes and faiths as to which the Confessio is silent. 
And in the discussion among the friends, there are 
thoughts and sentiments which do not altogether chime 
either with the Confessio or the Diary, which yet seem to 
have the stamp of the author's own approval. But we 


have an important clue in the evidence furnished both 
by his earlier and later writings, and especially by 
" Thorndale's " successor, " Gravenhurst," as to the real 
and final trend of his convictions and as to the directions 
in which he never attained conviction. With this clue in 
hand, we venture to compile from " Thorndale," and to 
present with some defmiteness of outline, the religious phi- 
losophy of William Smith, the philosophy which at the 
age of fifty he had substantially reached, and of which his 
later thinking was an expansion. 

This is his corner-stone it is in the words of Clar- 
ence : 

This relationship of Creature and Creator is the keynote of 
all my philosophy. I have nothing distinct to teach I have 
nothing great to hope I can represent nothing intelligibly to 
myself, unless the reality of this relationship is accorded to me. 
Not only is this relationship of Creator and Creature the peren- 
nial source of such religious sentiments as are destined eternally 
to exist in the human race ; but every intelligible conception I 
can form of the material world around me, or of my own con- 
scious being what matter ts, what mind is all my philoso- 
phy, as well as all my religion, is bound up in this relationship 
in this belief of an Intelligential Power through whom all is, 
and has been, and will be. (Page 432.) 

Meanwhile some one asks me, Is it a personal God you be- 
lieve in ? I can understand no other, I cannot conceive Intelli- 
gence without personality. But neither am I obliged to make 
profession of understanding the peculiar nature of God's per- 
sonality ; nor am I compelled to apply what psychology may 
teach me of the nature of human personality to the Divine Be- 
ing. . . . 

To him who is baffled in his efforts to personify God to 
him to whom the Monarch-Judge upon his throne, with his in- 
numerable host of angels around Him, seems all too plainly the 
work of human imagination to him who, when he refines upon 
his conception of a personal God, finds it melting into thin air, 
and who, when he calls it back into distinctness, finds it too full 

" THORNDALE." 179 

of humanity to such a one I would say, Learu to see in na- 
ture and man the constant work and vivid manifestation of God. 
These are the forms in which He has invested himself for us. 
Look around you you are in the very presence of God. 
Look within you if you cannot see the Giver, you see in your 
own life the constant gift. This feeling that you are God's crea- 
ture so simple as it is is the perennial source of piety, of 
purest consolations, of noblest hopes. 

The darkest cloud which can pass over a human soul is that 
which obscures from it the recognition of this great relationship 
of Creature and Creator. He who has doubted here, and then 
regained his faith, will feel so singular a gladness that he will be 
thenceforth almost indifferent as to what else is doubtful. It 
is in vain you urge the importance of other controversies, he can- 
not feel their importance ; he leaves your polemics to those who 
care for them, or need them. He is again in the great universal 
fold. There is peace and security throughout the universe, and 
throughout all eternity ; for there is supreme wisdom and su- 
preme love ruling and creating everywhere. Love and wisdom 
are but two names for the same thing. We call love by the 
name of wisdom when it acts ; we call wisdom by the name of 
love when it thinks and feels. Whatever such men as Cyril, on 
the one hand, or Seckendorf, on the other, may assert to the 
contrary, it is not a mere abstraction that is given to us in the 
human reason : our God is very Being, very Reason, very Love. 

I, too, can recall some miserable moments, when I have 
walked forth alone under the open sky, and as the winds blew 
the great clouds along, I have felt that I also, like those clouds, 
was being borne along by a power as incomprehensible to me as 
the torment of the winds to them. How terrible, then, seemed 
the unresting and irresistible activities of nature ! How fearful 
this prodigality of life ! How fearful seemed the unpausing cur- 
rent of the generations of mankind ! a stream of conscious be- 
ing poured out by some deaf inexorable Power pains and 
pleasures tossed together, flowing tumultuously along. No eye 
of wisdom, no heart of mercy, presiding over all ; only untiring 
Power hurrying on the interminable stream. Happily such in- 
tellectual chaos did not last long within me. Light broke 
through ; the sun was again in the heavens ; the whole world 


beamed forth with reason and with love, and I found myself 
walking humbly and confidingly in the presence of God. 

He who believes in God is necessarily an optimist ; an opti- 
mist, mind you, for that whole of things which embraces the has 
been, the is, and the will be. I cannot but feel assured that, if 
the whole plan of our world, as it will finally be developed, 
could be understood by us, it would be understood as one great 
and perfect idea. I may not be able to unravel the perplexities 
which human life, and the social condition of man, present to 
me ; I may not be able to foresee the future, or to trace the way 
to happier societies ; but I know, through faith in Him, that all 
will finally be revealed to be, and to have been, supremely 
good. (Pages 440-442.) 

The second article of his creed is the progress of hu- 
man society. He bases the law of that progress, not 
merely on a wide observation of the world's history, but 
on the constitution of the individual mind. 

Society is progressive, because the individual -mind is pro- 
gressive, and here and there one outshoots the others, and leads 
the rest forward. Thus the law of progress must be sought for 
in psychology, or the nature of the individual mind. (Page 442.) 

We may look upon the progress of man as ultimately resolv- 
ing itself into a gradual revelation of truth to the human intel- 
lect. His advance in knowledge manifests itself : 1. In his 
increased power (the powers of nature are put into his hands) ; 
2. In the great contemplation of science the world is seen, 
admired, loved as the Divine Idea ; and, 3. In that knowledge 
of Humanity, or of Human Life as a whole, which each one 
should carry in his own mind, and which should be the fountain 
source of his morality. If you ask whence this increment of 
truth which initiates all these progressive movements, I can only 
trace this mental light, like the common sunlight at our feet, to 
its source in heaven. Very fitly has all knowledge been called 
God's revelation. 

Ponder it well : are not our three great gifts, the True, the 
Good, and the Beautiful, constantly being disseminated by this 
one process the expansion of the human intellect ? And still 
it grows 7 it grows ! Is there not hope that a time may come 

" THORNDALE." 181 

when all will get their great inheritance their share in these 
three great gifts ? (Page 33.) 

I can predict the advancement of human knowledge, because 
experience proves to me that it is the nature of the human mind 
to advance from knowledge to knowledge. . I can also, and per- 
haps still more safely, predict the extension of the knowledge 
already attained by the few to the many, because I see the 
means in operation for such extension ; and I can, above all, 
form some estimate, from past experience, of the effect which 
will be produced on the whole organism of society by this ex- 
tension of the knowledge and habits of thinking of the few to 
the many. These are very modest claims to prophecy very 
limited powers of prediction ; but it will be found that they are 
sufficient to justify some confident anticipations of the future of 
human society. (Page 430.) 

The author makes no claim as an original discoverer ; 
he speaks of Progress as an idea pervading the intellec- 
tual atmosphere of the age. But he interprets that idea 
in a fashion of his own. From his survey of the leading 
stages of the race's advance, we take a few passages 
among others almost equally striking. 

Man's power of making new combinations of thought, and 
thus advancing beyond the direct tuition of the senses, is first 
stirred into exercise by his bodily wants. Apparently no crea- 
ture has to get his food with such difficulty. These wants 
prompt his ingenuity, prompt him to self-help, prompt him also 
(the imaginative being that he is) to wild petitions for help from 
unseen hands. He makes some rude instrument, he frames 
some rude worship. He enters, from the same impulse, into 
art and into religion. We see him at once the most laborious 
and the most imaginative of creatures. (Page 468.) 

I saw yesterday a countryman leading his horse and cart 
down a hill. He wanted to rest his horse, and he adopted the 
simple expedient of putting a stone under the wheel to keep the 
cart from pressing forward. Here, I thought, was a case so 
simple that the man might easily have been the original in- 
ventor. He hardly needed any one to tell him of such an ex- 


pedient. He had seen stones enough on the road, and had 
noticed them as impediments to his progress. Here he wants 
the implement ; a stone is at hand, and he applies it. If he 
wanted still to proceed downhill, without distressing his horse, 
he perhaps ties the stne to the rim of the wheel, and here is a 
drag invented. As this tying implies the previous invention of 
a string or a rope, we have also, in this instance, a rude illustra- 
tion of the manner in which one invention assists and leads on 
to another. The more arts, the more probability of new com- 
binations amongst them. 

Art begets science. You produce a desired effect with one 
thing, you try another similar thing to produce the same effect. 
You begin to classify things according to some common effect or 
property. And then, without being urged by any immediate 
need, you ask yourself the question, Will this act like that ? will 
this burn ? can this be eaten ? without having any particular 
wish to burn or eat it. (Page 469.) 

Those who fail to perceive the gradual development of the 
higher modes of moral thinking and feeling lose the greatest 
source of hope we have for the future progress of society. These 
higher modes will extend, not only by the direct teaching of 
men and books, and the communication of ideas from one class 
to another, but also, and mainly, because a greater number 
(owing to the steady advance of arts and sciences, and a mate- 
rial prosperity consequent thereon) will be in a condition favor- 
able to their reception and their development. 

The highest form of pure or simple morality is where the 
reason of the man chooses and adopts a line of conduct because 
it is for the good of the whole. Here the reflective man legis- 
lates at once both for himself and for society. For himself, 
because the reason, having once approved a certain conduct, 
must issue a self-condemnatory sentence if a momentary passion 
obscures the rule, or leads him to transgress it. For society, be- 
cause he stands there proclaiming a great truth to others, in 
which all others are concerned. But this legislative mode of 
thinking is not the first which is developed : it is developed only 
in a few minds, and not in those till society is somewhat ad- 
vanced. In no mind does it exist alone, or unaccompanied by 
other and more ordinary motives of morality. Still it does 


most certainly exist. It is a grand element wherever it is found. 
It will always make its appearance amongst reflective minds. 
Over them the great idea of public good will sometimes domi- 
nate like a passion. From time to time, and in comparatively 
dark ages, there have risen eminent teachers, raised up by 
God, I do not. say miraculously, because, in my conception, 
all his works are equally miraculous, who have been full of 
this great idea. Such is the plan of our world. Minds here 
and there outgrow the rest, and lead them onwards, whether in 
religion, or in science, or in morals. (Pages 476-477.) 

Man depends on man, and must have morality of some kind. 
Man depends on nature, which he soon interprets to be a de- 
pendence upon God, and must have religion of some kind. 
How these two mutually aid, support, and elevate each other, 
I shall have occasion to show. It is my belief that no high 
morality could have grown up, in the first instance, without the 
aid of religion; on the other hand, religion is but a grand ego- 
tism, a selfish fear or selfish hope, till it is linked with the love 
of man, or the genuine desire to promote the good of others. 
We live more and more, as we advance, under the felt govern- 
ment of God ; but then we understand that government better 
as we advance. Obedience to the will of God, and sincere de- 
sire for the good of the whole, become intimately and insepa- 
rably blended together in the conscience. (Page 427.) 

We are ultimately in the power of our ideas. These modify 
our passions. In this or that individual man, the victory be- 
tween Passion and Reason may be doubtful. In Humanity, as 
it lives from age to age, the final victory is not so doubtful. 
Slowly and surely the Intelligence modifies the passion to itself. 
(Page 31.) 

He illustrates the soul of good in things evil in the 
case of slavery, and the transition to free labor. 

I have no wish to disguise the harsh nature of this relation- 
ship of master and slave. But it was what the times demanded. 
What we see most prominent in all early periods are the pas- 
sions of war. These, too, have their terrible joy. It was some 
step in advance when the victor spared the captive to convert 
him into a slave. A harsh relationship it must have been under 


these circumstances. No equal rights ; labor compelled by the 
scourge ; obedience prompted by force. Yet the relationship 
itself modifies, and its harsh lineaments fade away. If the slave 
is a domestic, some community of feeling and of interest will 
rise up between him and the family he serves. If multitudes 
of slaves are herded together, they have a society of their own 

a society within a society. Nature and habit so contrive it 
that no permanent condition of humanity is without its solace. 
Harsh enough, however, the relation must still appear to us. 
But it is indispensable that we note the important part it has 
performed in the onward progress of society. 

A single tyrant compels thousands to work for him to build 
a palace, or it may be to build a tomb for him and he gives 
them a rag and an onion apiece. What seems more monstrous 
than that these half-naked creatures, who have so much to pro- 
cure for themselves, should be toiling at an immense pyramid 
for the dead carcass of a man ? But the natural order of 
events is often precisely that which, at the first blush, we pro- 
nounce to be most unnatural ; for we think very mistakenly 

that what is most rational would be first chosen. This most 
rational thing is just what we have, through many curious paths, 
to get at. The great pyramid of Egypt presents no very rational 
or very aminable object to a reflective man. It stands there a 
most egregious egotism ; at the best, a sublime folly ; an eternal 
mountain of stone, and this absurd mummy at the core of it. 
Nevertheless, the knowledge and skill were doubtless very great 
which this monstrous symbol of egotism was the means of elicit- 
ing. Let it stand there forever in the desert as a monument 
of a great era in the progress of mankind. 

Throughout all this ancient civilization, note one thing : The 
Judge and the Moralist, Law and Public Opinion, all decree in 
favour of this right of property of man in man. Men become 
enlightened jurists and profound philosophers, and reason much 
of the public good and Religion puts on her high moral aspect, 
and enforces the most equitable and philanthropic maxims of 
conduct ; but all these generalizations of law, morality, and reli- 
gion circle harmless around this institution of slavery embrace 
it, or do not oppose it. The public good requires it, or did re- 
quire ; its necessity is still believed in. It is written down as 

" THORNDALE." 185 

with an iron pen in the table of the law, that man has an undis- 
puted right to his slave. 

I advance at one bound from the Past to the Present, from 
the era of slavery to what, so far as the organization of industry 
is concerned, may be called the era of wages. 

The Many must work for the Few before the Many can 
work for the Many. And this working for the Few is brought 
about, in the first instance, by compulsion by slavery 
which, again, is the result of war the combination of armed 
men giving to few the power over many. 

It may appear to us that the harsh system of slavery lasted 
much longer than was necessary, but its necessity as a prior 
condition to the system that followed cannot be denied. And 
what system is it that dies out just when we think it might be 
dispensed with ? How could it be a system, and have all the 
permanence and stability of custom and habit, and not also 
manifest this inconvenient and obstinate vitality ? He who has 
reflected on what we owe to custom and habit will not be very 
impatient when he observes them still perpetuating some insti- 
tution long after it has reached what seems to us its legitimate 
period of dissolution. 

It was only in the city already built and peopled it was 
only in the already organized community, that the relationship 
of employer and employed, of capitalist and workman, destined 
to substitute that of master and slave, could spring up. It 
would be needless for me to describe what has been narrated by 
many others, the manner in which free and paid labour was 
substituted for compulsory labour. Speaking generally, one 
may say that there grows up in the great city (as descendants 
of free men and otherwise) a large class who are neither slaves 
nor proprietors of slaves. Of these some apply themselves to 
trade and commerce, and enrich themselves ; others, being poor, 
are willing to enter into their service. Thus the relation of 
employer and employed would gradually arise, and for a long 
time coexists with that of master and slave. It would probably 
soon be found by the enterprising citizen that, even though he 
could purchase slaves, the paid labourer was more profitable 
than the slave. The slave must be bought and fed, and was after 
all an unwilling workman ; it was bettter economy to buy the 


labour only, and labour of a more voluntary character. The 
improved plan would make its way slowly from the town to the 
country. The owner of land and serfs manumits his serf, and 
pays wages to him as his labourer. He manumits himself at 
the same time from the responsibility of maintaining his serf. 
But the change of one system for another has never perhaps 
been effected in the case of land without the aid of cooperating 
causes, such as political revolutions, or that destruction of the 
Roman empire which dispersed the inhabitants of cities into 
the country, and gave both new owners and new labourers to 
the soil. . . . 

Mark now how, with the proved possibility and establishment 
of a new system, the moral code of society changes ! Slavery 
has become criminal. The rights of property have been thus 
much abrogated, that property in man is gone. To claim such 
a property is stigmatized as a flagrant wrong ; and society can- 
not go back to its old code. We call this right to personal 
freedom an eternal right, although it is comparatively new to 
us ; for it must be eternal for all time to come. Slavery can 
never again belong to what we deem the perfect type of society. 
(Pages 504-507.) 

Out of our present phase, too. something better is to 
grow, but only through a right employment of this pres- 
ent : 

And now if this progress continue if the multitude of man- 
kind should be able to command by their labour those advan- 
tages which pass familiarly under the names of comfort, compe- 
tence, civilized condition, and the like, how can I but foresee 
in this a preparation for a still greater approximation, and a 
more equal and permanent relationship, between employer and 
employed ? I cannot but foresee in this power of producing 
for the multitude an abundance of all the requisites of a human- 
ized existence, combined with the increasing intelligence of 
that multitude a condition of things in which this great busi- 
ness of " food, clothes, and fire " will be conducted in such a 
manner that want, and the great evil of our present state, un- 
certainty, will be driven out of the world. Not that I suppose a 
time will come when men will suddenly say amongst themselves, 


" Lo ! we have now a productive industry which, if wisely and 
equitably directed, would suffice to give house, clothing, books, 
instruction, and the like, to all. Let us then reorganise this 
industry, that it may accomplish so desirable a result. Let us 
set to each one a task, and assign to each the conditions of a 
happy existence." This is wild talk, and shows an utter obliv- 
ion of the manner in which society progresses, and in which all 
great permanent changes are effected. The " desirable result " 
is already in part accomplished, and the part accomplished will 
gradually lead to such modifications in our customs and rela- 
tionships of life as will tend to its complete accomplishment. 

Meanwhile all our prosperity and well-being, present and 
future, , are bound up with fidelity to the existing system the 
charter we live under the present rights of property. The 
landlord and the capitalist are as essential to our civilization at 
this moment as the hand that holds the spade or forges the 
steam-engine. I would assist in making this clear if it were at 
all necessary. For not only do I hold this conviction in com- 
mon with all sober and rational men, in common with those 
who would smile at my hopes of the future as visionary, but 
on account of these very hopes, I perhaps hold the conviction 
with even more earnestness than they do. Everything depends 
here in England, the future as well as the present, on faithful 
allegiance to our laws of property. (Pages 508, 509.) 

The merits in the present system, the usefulness of the 
capitalist and the landlord, are arrayed against the fever- 
ish impatience of the revolutionist : 

The capitalist does nothing to produce, at least directly, the 
corn and meat that feed the labourer ; but he is quite as neces- 
sary as if he did ; for it is he who combines men together for 
the production of commodities, whether of need or of luxury. 
If, indeed, men had intelligence enough to form the same com- 
binations, for the same purposes, without his aid, his office 
might be dispensed with. But they have not this intelligence, 
and great must be the training and discipline and elevation of 
taste before they could possibly have it. 

You complain of the misdirection of industry that the 


workmen are not exclusively employed in producing what they 
themselves want. Why, this is one of the indispensable func- 
tions of the capitalist that he employs men in producing some- 
thing of a higher character or description than could be pro- 
duced for all ; than could, at least in the first instance, be 
produced for all. 

And as to the landlord, without him, in some form or other, 
there would never have been any civilization at all, nor any 
products of industry beyond the rudest and quite indispensable. 
To him all refinement is in the first place due. In England, at 
this moment, if it were not for the landlord, the earth itself 
would be utterly defaced ; not a tree would be left growing ; 
nothing but a miserable patchwork of half-cultivated plots and 
allotments would meet the eye. I need not add that the capi- 
talist, in his character of man of wealth, performs also many of 
the functions of the landlord. 

Some one perhaps says, This seems true, but explain to me 
why there is this contradiction between institutions which are to 
command approbation, and the plainest maxims of justice and 
equity. He who sows shall reap ; and we should share alike in 
what God gives to all. Explain to me this contradiction. 

I both can and will explain it. The maxims of justice, as 
you call them, and which you adopt as the last general laws to 
which appeal is to be made, are not the ultimate rules of moral- 
ity that you take them for. They have to submit, and to be 
subordinated to, a higher and wider rule. The good of the 
whole is the paramount, all-embracing law, to which appeal is 
always finally to be made. The only unalterable law of moral- 
ity is this, that the good of the whole be secured, at every epoch, 
according to the existing power and intelligence of mankind. 
This maxim, that a man should possess the produce of his own 
labour, or a full equivalent to it, admirable maxim as it is, is not 
final ; it has to submit to a greater law the good of the 
whole ; it never has been applied unrestrictedly in any human 
society, worthy of the name, and never could be so applied. 

All such excellent maxims as express themselves in the terms 
Equality and Fraternity " Share alike," and " Love each 
other as brothers " submit, in each age, to different limita- 
tions and interpretations ; and rights which contravene such 

" THORNDALE." 189 

maxims are still preeminently moral rights, if the good of the 
great organic whole of society require them. (Pages 511, 512.) 

Passing over large tracts of thought, we cite next the 
development of the religious sentiment : 

It is by the religious imagination through gods and divi- 
nation and the like that man first starts into intellectual life. 
What make you of this ? That the intellectual life shall, at a 
subsequent period, altogether depart from its original direction, 
and ignore religion ? I, for my part, find that the first dream 
of imagination is in a line with the last truth of reason. I find 
the whole series one consistent development. Religion grows 
with science, and they are ultimately seen to be inseparable. 

What is the theological imagination of early times? It is 
essentially this that man transports himself into nature 
endues the great objects or powers of nature with human feel- 
ing, human will and so prays and worships, and hopes to 
propitiate, and to obtain aid, compassion, deliverance. Well, 
this primitive imagination is in the line of truth. We begin with 
throwing a man's thought there into nature ; we purify and ex- 
alt our imaginary being; we gradually release him from the 
grosser passions of mankind. We are, in fact, rising ourselves 
above the domination of those grosser passions ; and as we grow 
wise and just, we make the god wise and just, beneficent and 
humane. Meanwhile science begins to show us this goodly 
whole as the creation of one Divine Artificer. And now we 
recognize, not without heart-beatings, that God indeed is not 
man, but that He has been educating man to comprehend Him 
in part, and to be in part like Him. 

Are not the Imagination and the Reason here strictly affili- 
ated ? We begin, as it has been boldly and truly said, by mak- 
ing God in our own image. What else could we do ? Nature 
had not yet revealed herself to us in her great unity, as one 
whole, as the manifestation of one Power. We make God in 
our own image, but by and by, as our conceptions on every side 
enlarge, we find that it is God who is gradually elevating us by 
the expansion of our knowledge into some remote similitude 
with Himself. He is making us, in one sense, in his own 
image. This correspondence between the human and the 


divine is the keynote of all religion ; and Imagination, in her 
apparently wild and random way, had struck upon the note. 

God is making man in his own image, when He reveals to 
him the creation in its true nature, when He inspires him with a 
knowledge of the whole, and a love for the good of the whole. 
But the first step in this divine instruction was precisely the 
hold imagination by which man threw out into nature an image 
of himself. The form that imagination threw into the air was 
gradually modified and sublimed as man rose in virtue, and na- 
ture was better understood, till at length it harmonizes with, and 
merges into, a truth of the reason. Was man to wait for his 
God and his religion till his consciousness, in all other respects, 
was fully developed ? Or was the revelation of the great truth 
to be sudden? Apparently not. Man dreamt a god first. 
But the dream was sent by the same power, or came through 
the same laws, that revealed the after-truth. Nay, he dreams 
on still, and reasons on still, up to this very epoch ; and the 
dream is penetrated by the truth, and the truth is still benefi- 
cently pictured to him in the dream. Perhaps in religion some 
floating relic of the imagination will be always with us. Men 
cannot look upon the sun itself ; and the brightest part of the 
firmament on which they can rest their eyes is those pinna- 
cles of the topmost cloud where the light seems to be made pal- 
pable to us by that earth-born vapour which interposes between 
us and it. (Pages 528-530.) 

One of the most fruitful and suggestive passages is that 
which depicts the rise and the usefulness of the idea of a 
God of Battle, of Terror then a God of Punishment 
and so of Justice and at last a God of Love. This is 
the climax : 

Men of passion and imagination, men full of anger, and pray- 
ing for the destruction of their enemies, enthroned, not without 
feeling of fierce cordiality, an Infinite Anger in the skies. 
Afterwards the dark and gloomy throne was gradually shaped 
into a Judgment-seat, then into a Mercy-seat, but with the old 
thunders lingering round it still. Without these* there would 
have been no feared judgment, and consequently no vivid con- 


ception of mercy. Love makes its first entrance into our hearts 
under the name of niercy. The new dispensation under which 
we are said to live left the old Infinite Anger where it was, and 
brought forward an Infinite Mercy, forever to neutralize it. 

And now does not something like a climax stand out clear 
before us ? For how could this great belief in Mercy, which is 
subduing the human heart to an unutterable tenderness, how 
could it have appeared in the world but for its antecedents 
the reign of Divine Anger and of Judgment ? The three great 
ideas of Anger, Judgment, and Mercy are blended together 
most conspicuously in our own faith. 

But there is an idea higher than that of Mercy which has en- 
tered last of all into the world. The word " Grace " not only 
signifies pardon, but the Spirit of God moving in us to the pro- 
duction of a new life. I hold this word " Grace "to be one of 
the noblest, and of fullest significance, that has ever been ut- 
tered in popular theology. At this point the highest philosophy 
appears blent in that twisted cord of reason and imagination 
which binds so many ages together. For is it not indisputably 
true that God, by his free gift, is creating us, age after age, into 
new and higher life, and wiser love to man and to Himself ? 

u Throw thyself upon the love of God, thy Creator ! " " Per- 
fect love casteth out fear ! " These are the last utterances of 
religion in the most advanced nations of the earth. Add, too, 
that the perfect love which casteth out fear is the love also of 
goodness and of man. By no other means will fear be cast out. 
I speak generally of mankind, or of a society. I say the Furies 
will live forever in the imagination of guilt or crime. Whether 
the terror arise spontaneously in our own mind, or descend 
from tradition, from the imagination of other men, the result is 
the same. It has been so ordered by God that there is no 
peace to the heart of man but in the great sentiments of virtue 
and the love of God. If any man holds that a human society 
standing where we stand in the progression of ages can es- 
cape from the fear of God by any other outlet, he must defend 
his own thesis. I should be a hypocrite, and false to the most 
irresistible and ineffaceable sentiments of my own mind, if I 
taught such a doctrine ; for I daily and hourly feel that there 
can be no peace with God unless there is good-will to man, no es- 


cape from fear but in the sentiments of love and obedience. A 
people that passed from superstition into crime would inevitably 
return, passion-led, back to superstition. (Pages 550, 551.) 

We must now revert to the discussions in which Seck- 
endorf plays a prominent part. The author entitles this 
section, " Seckendorf, or the Spirit of Denial ; " yet this 
denier and critic contributes some strong elements to the 
final and positive result. We must let him speak for 
himself. This is his general ground : 

I stand here, the advocate for the world as it is, and our 
faiths as they are. For the world as it is, with its ignorant 
multitudes and its wiser few, with its passions of hate and of 
love, its griefs, its consolations, its truths, its errors, and, above 
all, its great religious faiths, which are rooted in the sorrows and 
the wrongs of men. I do not ask if these are true ; enough for 
me that they are here. Iven your Utopian dreams, if I saw 
that they made ten men happy, should have a place in the cata- 
logue. I like this wide world. I like the sinner, I like the 
saint ; I like its uproarious youth and its penitent old age. Nor 
am I overmuch distressed about the miseries of life. Every 
creature grows to its circumstances ; the fur grows rough as the 
climate roughens. This marvellous force of habit is a provi- 
sion against all fortunes or misfortunes. I have tried it. I 
Baron von Seckendorf have lived in a garret, on a herring. 
Not agreeable. But the second herring was very savoury, and 
vastly welcome. (Page 269.) 

Seckendorf is by no means set up as the advocate 
merely of false and hateful ideas. A great deal is to be 
learned from him. This cordial affirmation of large good 
in humanity's actual present may well win response. But 
the destructive phase of his thought 'follows close : : 

Clarence. You look upon our great religious faiths merely as 
parts of life as great delusions, in short. 

Seckendorf. They do not owe their origin to philosophy or sci- 
ence, so far as I understand the matter. But they are spon- 
taneous products of the imagination and the passions of men, 

" THORNDALE." 193 

which philosophy and science would do well to let alone ; and 
which that " intellectual progress " you boast so much of would 
assuredly put in peril. (Pages 269, 270.) 

As to the fundamental question, the being of God, 
Seckendorf's position is not one of denial, but of inability 
to reach any clear conception : 

Thorndale. There is at least one great truth that reveals it- 
self the being of God a truth that rides high in the heav- 
ens, clear and bright as the sun at noonday. 

Seckendorf. Bright as the sun at noonday ! Is it always noon- 
day with us, Thorndale ? Is there always a sun in our sky to 
hide the dark and illimitable space beyond ? Is there not also 
an infinitude of night and of stars ? And tell me, in the widest 
view we catch of" the universe is it light or darkness that 
chiefly prevails for the vision of a man ? 

The existence of God is clear to demonstration till we ask 
ourselves what conception of God we have attained. Reason, 
meaning thereby the unity of parts in a whole, adaptation, har- 
mony, is everywhere apparent ; without it, I suppose, nothing 
exists that does exist. But the reasoning Being how form 
this conception ? To me The All seems to be the only represen- 
tative, for us, of this Reason or Power ; for it is hard to give any 
name to what transcends all human thought. (Pages 270, 271.) 

Here from another connection is a pregnant saying : 

" I believe," Seckendorf 'would sometimes say, "I believe 
in God, till your philosophers bring me a demonstration of his 

" And then ? " I said. 

" And then I do not believe in the demonstration." (Page 

Against the belief in an upward progress of society, 
Seckendorf arrays the evils which attend man in barba- 
rism and in civilization. 

The steam-engine is the great boast, and fairly so, of modern 
times ; but follow the steam-engine throughout its whole history, 
its making, and all the work it performs, and for every stroke of 


the piston there has been the stroke of a human arm, or perhaps 
the throbbing of some human brain. For when the man has 
got the machine to work for him, he always finds that he has 
converted himself also into a machine, and stands by, working 
mechanically with it hour after hour. No engine has yet been 
invented which, if it profited one part of mankind, has not also 
been an engine of torture to another. . . . 

To my mind, one of the saddest spectacles the earth reveals 
is precisely this : The traveller depicts to me some fertile island 
in a delicious climate, where the bread-fruit hangs from the tree, 
where the soft winds are themselves warmth and clothing de- 
picts to me an earthly paradise ; and the next moment he shows 
me the human tenant of it, a very child, a simple savage, very 
little wiser than the fowls of the air, or the fishes of the sea. 
No progress was made, because the earth "was spontaneously 
fruitful, and the skies were kind. 

You tell me that man invents marvellous machines that work 
for him. He cannot ; his machines are only complicated tools, 
with which he also must continually work. But if he could 
make the iron and the wood really work for him, then behold 
the bread-fruit tree is again growing over his head the winds 
again are clothing him he is again an idler, and crawling like 
an infant on the ground. 

We labour and we die. Well, but the moralist will teach us 
how to live the little life we have. If by morality be meant a 
control of the passions, the teacher has either a very hopeless, 
or very needless task. Whilst the passion is young and strong, 
the moralist is not heard ; when it is feeble or extinct, the man 
can moralize for himself only much too late. Just when we 
have learned to live, we find that we are dying out ; just when 
we begin to value this mysterious gift of life, it is taken from 
us. We leave our place to some puling infant ; " the sage is 
withering like a leaf." We are mere stubble, and the plough 
passes over us that a new verdure may spring up. Not a day 
even of the brief space allotted to us is secure. We tread per- 
chance upon a rolling stone we breathe an air too keen 
and there is an end to all. Fool or philosopher, it is all alike. 
(Pages 303, 304.) 


The problem of the individual destiny is interwoven 
with the analysis we make of the individual man. Seck- 
endorf takes the materialistic view : 

" Matter cannot think inert matter," as we hear it said, 
" cannot think." Certainly not. Inert matter cannot move. 
It is moving matter that moves. It is growing matter that, in 
the vegetable, grows. If your definition of matter is limited to 
some one property, which all matter, at all times, displays, your 
definition cannot help us much. The property of extension leads 
us no farther than the property of extension. If your defini- 
tion is to embrace all properties, which matter, at any time, un- 
der any circumstance, may manifest, mechanical, chemical, 
vital properties, then it is evident that such a definition must 
be the last result of all our knowledge. Whether the property 
of sensibility or feeling shall be added to those already enumer- 
ated is precisely the question we should have to discuss. 

I notice you adopt the expression so frequently used, the brain 
is the instrument of the mind. Be it so. But it is an instru- 
ment of that curious order that takes the initiative. (Page 

Thorndale. If material objects and their relations exist inde- 
pendently of me, yet my perception of these relations is a power 
quite my own. There is a power here which lies unseen, behind 
the vital organism, and makes use of it as its instrument. 

Seckendorf. Its instrument \ This is the favourite analogy. 
The body is an instrument. Why may it not be the seat itself 
of those susceptibilities which constitute consciousness ? But if 
the brain is an instrument of the mind, it is one which, as I have 
said, takes the initiative. If your analogy be of a musical in- 
strument, it looks very like the performer. Adopt this last fan- 
ciful comparison. The vital organism shall be the pipe, and the 
spirit shall be the breath blown into it. Now, what if the pipe 
have a rhythmical movement of its own, by which it enlarges and 
contracts its orifice, causing a sharper or, a lower note at each 
change, which is the performer, the breath or the pipe ? 

My companion takes a few glasses of wine ; the circulation of 
the blood through the innumerable vessels of the brain is quick- 


ened (to say nothing of what the champagne or the hock may 
have added to the blood itself) ; and the processes of thought 
are quickened too. But they are more than quickened ; they 
are varied, they are improved. My companion grows witty, 
cheerful, perhaps eloquent. I listen to combinations of thought 
which most assuredly but for the wine would not have 
made their appearance that day. He drinks a few more 
glasses, and the wit degenerates into nonsense, and the amiabil- 
ity into a maudlin humour, or the vivacity of spirit into a quar- 
relsome temper. He drinks still more, and there ensues a 
complete confusion in all his thoughts : we say he is no longer 
a rational being. 

Now observe, it is precisely on the succession and combina- 
tion of our ideas that our rationality depends ; and here you see 
that these are determined by the physical condition of the man. 
I want to know what proof you could have more convincing 
than such a commonplace fact that the vital organism takes 
the initiative that in its movements and functions, whatever 
they may be, you have the proximate cause of that succession 
or association of ideas which distinguishes us as rational beings. 
(Pages 362, 363.) 

I think one idiot humbles us all. Here, in these beautiful 
valleys of Switzerland, amongst these sublimities of nature, is 
born the Cretin. He has, or may have, all his senses ; he .can 
see, touch, hear, more or less perfectly ; but his brain is mal- 
formed, or an impure blood deteriorates its growth, or fails to 
supply some appropriate stimulant. He learns nothing ; makes 
no more advance than the cattle in the stall ; child always, let his 
age be what it may. A pious Mahometan would tell us that 
his soul is in heaven, and on this account would invest the poor 
creature with a sort of sanctity. A strange superstition ! 
gentle if not wise. 

Meanwhile the disease of the Cretin is sometimes partially 
curable. As the physician conquers the malady as a purer 
blood is produced as this and that tissue is restored or raised 
to its normal susceptibility lo ! a glimmer of the soul appears ! 
The Mahometan would, I suppose, tell us that the physician is 
summoning it from heaven. To the physician it seems very 

" THORN DALE." 197 

clear that the animal health he has partially restored was that 
missing link in the great established order of development, 
without which there could be no higher thinking than the idiot 
had displayed. (Page 342.) 

Seckendorf relates some stories from his own life, and 
among them this : 

It happened that a citizen of Berlin, noted for his wretched 
and violent temper, finally ended his career by blowing out his 
brains. He chose a sentry-box in the public street for the scene 
of this exploit. Though life was extinct, the people neverthe- 
less carried him into the hospital. I was passing at the time. I 
had some little knowledge of the man, and, mingling with the 
medical students, I entered with them into the hospital. The 
man was quite dead, and a post-mortem examination ensued. 
An eminent physician, passing through the room just as the 
operators were commencing their work, said, as he hurried on 
to some pressing avocation of his own, " Look under the dura 
mater, and see if there are not some osseous deposits." The 
operator did not fail to look, and lo ! there were osseous depos- 
its, " evidently," as they all pronounced, " of a very irritating 

I was struck with this incident, both because of the certainty 
and precision of the physician's knowledge, and because of the 
palpable cause here discovered of the violent and ungovernable 
temper of the unhappy man. I thought that the temper of some 
other men I knew would be a little more intelligible if one could 
only look under their dura 'mater. (Page 283.) 

He portrays himself : 

The temperament of a man, the blood that is in him, is apt, I 
suspect, to overrule his philosophy. If this thinking faculty of 
mine had been lodged in some slender, feeble shred of a body 
all nerve and sensibility I should have doubtless taken, once 
for all, to books and meditation, and laboured, perhaps I also 
to obtain the reputation of a philosopher. But only measure 
me ! (and Seckendorf, laughing at his own idea, stood up at his 
full height) I stand six feet some inches, the naked heel rest- 
ing on the mother earth. Age has narrowed and rounded in 


my shoulders ; but there was a time when I could have borne 
off a professor of philosophy upon each one of them. I had the 
thews and sinews of a tiger ; I could have endured fatigue with 
a North American savage ; I have fasted for three days, and 
then fed like a boa-constrictor. Was this the digestion for a 
philosopher ? Was this the organization for one who asks noth- 
ing of material nature but a headpiece to think with, and so 
much animal mechanism as goes to the moving of a pen ? I 
could for weeks together spend the whole day, and much of the 
night, in indefatigable study. Then would follow a craving for 
physical excitement, an appetite for action, quite irrepressible. I 
would then ride the fleetest horses, urged to their utmost speed ; 
or I would repair to the fencing-school. The use of every 
weapon was familiar to me, but the sword and the foil were my 
favourites. The energetic contest of man with man, some sort 
of fighting, believe me, comes very natural to the human animal. 
Foot to foot, eye on eye, stroke on stroke, there is no excite- 
ment like the combat. (Page 285.) 

We do not attempt to precisely disengage from Seck- 
endorf 's views the elements which commend themselves 
finally to Thorndale or the author. But the foregoing 
may be well accompanied by Thorndale's recognition of 
the degree to which character is inevitably the result of 
antecedent circumstances : 

You take a single soul, and tax it with its single guilt. It is 
right and fit to do so. And yet in every single soul it is the 
whole world you judge. 

Yes ! it is right, and fit, and reasonable that the man, whilst 
living with his kind, should be treated as the sole originator of 
all he does of good or of evil. Cover him with honour ! Stamp 
him with infamy ! Thus only can man make an ordered world 
of it. And are not this reciprocated honour .and dispraise, given 
and received by all, great part of human life itself ? But in thy 
hands, O Rhadamanthus, judge of the dead ! what is this soli- 
tary soul? It is but as a drop in the great ocean of life 
clear, or foul, as winds from either pole have made it. Aye, and 
the very undersoil on which it lay, on which it was tossed to 

" THORNDALE." 199 

and fro, had been broken up by forgotten earthquakes and ex- 
tinct volcanoes. A whole eternity had been at work where that 
drop of discoloured water came from. (Pages 40, 41.) 

As to the materialistic theory of man's nature, which 
Seckendorf presents, the author himself appears unde- 
cided. He seems to give the weight of argument on Seck- 
endorf's side ; and in the adverse arguments of Clarence 
and Thorndale we find nothing so striking as to call for 
citation in this condensed resume. Yet the author's 
agreement appears to be with Clarence when he declares, 
" I am utterly unable to conceive of thought as the func- 
tion of a material and constantly fluctuating organization. 
I have no doubt myself of the immateriality of that which 
ultimately is conscious." He seems at once unable to re- 
fute the argument for materialism and unconvinced by it. 
He does not consider that materialism leads necessarily to 
atheism, or even to the denial of immortality. But from 
this last conclusion Seckendorf does not shrink, and he 
states it in the most telling way : 

Do you think that the belief in immortality could last a mo- 
ment if stated as a bare fact of natural philosophy ? There 
lies a dead man ! Nature does not revive that dead man. She 
has a quite different plan. She makes another. He is already 
here. The living son is carrying the dead father to his last 

You put out a man's eyes, and he no longer sees ; you dam- 
age his brain, and he no longer remembers ; you kill him out- 
right, and he is supposed to start up all sight and all memory ! 
Confess this does not wear the air of probability. (Page 277.) 

He asserts that the theory of a spiritual existence in 
man, distinct from matter, is only clung to because it 
alone gives room for the hope of immortality. Thorndale 
disclaims this bias, and maintains that the materialistic 
view too permits that hope : 

Seckendorf. Confess, Thorndale, it is not a " scientific ne- 
cessity," it is not the aid it affords to a scientific exposition, that 


induces you to cling to this spiritual ens. It is a theological 
necessity ; it is the aid it renders to religion, and^ especially to 
the doctrine of immortality. You need something to carry out 
beyond the world, beyond the circle of nature beyond the at- 
traction of your earth. It is this which determines the complex- 
ion of your metaphysics ; and let it be so, Thorn dale, now and 
always. A religious creed is something in the happiness of a 
man ; a metaphysical system nothing at all. 

Thorndale. I certainly should regret to find myself com- 
pelled to adopt any conclusion adverse to a belief in the im- 
mortality of the soul. But if I know myself, this reluctance or 
recoil has had no undue influence on my judgment here. And, 
moreover, I will add this, that though the doctrine of the im- 
materiality of the thinking being lends itself readily to the 
belief of immortality, or of a perpetuated consciousness, yet ma- 
terialism itself (to one who believes that all is created by God) 
is not absolutely repugnant to that faith. The power which 
created our consciousness here on earth could re-create it else- 
where. The question, " material or immaterial," may not, after 
all, be of so much theological importance as is generally sup- 
posed. For if, on the one hand, matter itself be nothing else, 
in our last conception of it, than a mode of divine action, one 
manifestation of divine power ; and if, on the other hand, we 
cannot attribute to mind, or soul, self-existence, but must always 
regard it as upheld by its Creator ; it follows that we rest as 
directly on the power and will of God, whether we call ourselves 
materialists or immaterialists. If it is a thinking body, and not 
a thinking soul, that God has created here, He may create else- 
where another thinking body to perpetuate this consciousness, 
just as well as He could uphold and transport a thinking soul. 

I can detect nothing absurd in the idea of the creation of 
another organism to carry on and perfect the consciousness de- 
veloped here that consciousness which is the great result, so 
to speak, of the whole world. (Page 354.) 

Clarence suggests that even if this life terminates our 
existence we have still the ground for gratitude and wor- 
ship : 

And is it not true that, just in proportion as our scope of 


thought is enlarged, we must rise into grander conceptions of 
the Creator, and feel, in the simple fact of being his creature, 
an inexhaustible source of piety and of hope ? Say that each 
one of us has but this present life, how great this life becomes, 
great in its ample vision of nature and of God, great in itself 
and its own affections, great in its embracing the lives of 
others ! Say even that our dream of immortality is but a sort 
of provisional faith, educating and disciplining us for a noble so- 
ciety on earth (a doctrine I should lament to be compelled to 
believe) ; say that to ask for the reproduction or re-creation of 
a given man is to ask for the re-creation of the whole world of 
which he was a part ; say that it is as idle to wish back the dead 
as to wish back the roses of last summer ; you still have this 
living man before you, with all his expanding knowledge and 
generous affections, you still must admit the continuous growth 
of this humanity, this greatest creation of God, the sum and 
climax of all else we call creation. (Page 485.) 

And the poet Luxmore dwells on the idea of a delight in 
the spectacle of the world, and in the sense of existence, 
independent of any aspirations for individual perma- 
nence : 

I see the poet ; I see him lying by the borders of his lake. 
. . . But mountain and shadow, and lake and tree, are all for 
him, for him. These wonderful creations of unconscious space 
are born again, and have their full and complete existence in 
the poet's mind. For him, and in him, all this beauty lives. 
The mountain becomes a grandeur only in his thoughts ; as it 
exists in the unconscious air, it is mere bulk and measurement. 
I see my poet, leaning on the moss-covered rocks, looking at it 
all aslant. And hosts of little wild-flowers are peeping into his 
eyes. They, too, would live ! They, too, will become a con- 
scious loveliness if he but looks on them. He does look. Every- 
thing in creation has its accomplished and exalted being in the 
consciousness of man. If the silent waters move mystically, 
if the murmuring waters murmur peace, if the torrent and the 
waterfall speak of power, it is only as they flow and murmur 
through his thoughts. In him they become mystery, and peace, 
and power. 


But the poet departs. He vanishes like the mist ; he 
withers like the. leaf. Aye, but another and another poet will 
lie on those moss-covered rocks. This living man will transmit 
his life. He will improve it before he transmits. His life is 
always the greater in just such proportion as he can feel him- 
self one in the great whole of humanity. (Pages 376, 377.) 

But Luxinore himself immediately renounces this self- 
renunciation : 

After a pause, in which Luxmore had been busily occupied 
in cleaning and loading a brace of pistols, he broke out again, 
and in a very different strain. The revolvers had evidently 
something to do with the transition. 

" See here ! " he said, " I am prepared to defend my little 
spark of life by blowing into dust and ashes any one who as- 
sails me. 

44 It won't do, Thorndale ! This impersonal and pantheistic 
way of thinking does not accord with our nature ; not, at least, 
with the nature of an Englishman. We live self-centred. / 
am 'more than a life ; I am the somewhat who has the life, 
and means to keep it. This little word / has a wonderful mean- 
ing and potency in it. All. our heroism or greatness dies out 
if this little word loses its power with us. What is our im- 
mortality but a sublime egotism ? The old Saxon king spoke 
best : We flutter in at the one window, and spread our wings, 
and fly forth at the other, into infinite space. I shall keep my 
faith in the mystical /. Each individual man stands eternally 
face to face with a created nature. He receives it all, learns 
from it all, and stands also in clear contrast to it all. That 
seeming contradiction is the secret of his greatness. There you 
have ' my last word.' " (Page 378.) 

Thorndale, in his Diary, states thus the ground for his 
own hope : 

As a speculative reasoner, I should say that this great hope 
develops itself out of the knowledge and contemplation of God, 
coupled with our moral aspirations. To live in felt harmony 
with the good of the whole is our highest morality, and also our 
point of communion with God. The desire for further knowl- 


edge of our Creator, and for this perfect life (I must consider 
these together as forming one desire, or one state of mind, be- 
cause a wish for moral perfection alone might refer solely to 
this world), brings and justifies a faith in immortality. (Page 

His greatest discouragement is mankind's seeming un- 
worthiness of so high a destiny. 

The hardest trial to our faith is the actual aspect of the liv- 
ing multitudes of mankind. Looking round the world, it is 
very hard to find one's immortals, or celestials that are to be. 
Not always do men seem worthy of living even on this earth, 
which one might imagine to be more like heaven than they are 
akin to angels. Sometimes it rather seems as if the earth were 
waiting for its fit inhabitants, than that its present inhabitants 
were entitled to spurn the world beneath them in their haste to 
ascend into a better. 

I raise my eyes from my paper and what a beautiful vision 
lies before me ! The blue sky reflected on these ample waters 
gives me a double heaven, one above and one beneath me ; and 
these islands of enchantment, Ischia and Capri, seem to be sus- 
pended, floating midway between them. And now the whole 
surface of the sea is glowing like one entire sapphire, on which 
a thousand rainbows have been thrown and broken. " Surely," 
I exclaim, " here, if anywhere, man might have been immor- 
tal ! " 

Yet if I descend from my solitude, and pass through yonder 
neighbouring city, I shall find myself amidst a noisy, angry, quar- 
relsome multitude, each one of whom would think it the grossest 
insult if I doubted that he was an immortal spirit waiting to put 
on his angelic nature " in another and better world." Pity he 
cannot put on a little of it here. What does this world want 
but that he and his fellow-men should be somewhat better than 
they are ? (Page 55.) 

He distrusts even the presage given by friendship and 
love, because, alas, friendship and love themselves appear 
to him frail and mutable. 

In a book which I have just laid down, and where the author 


was arguing this very subject, I met with the following pas- 
sage : " How cruel would it be if friendships formed on earth 
should be extinguished on the borders of the grave ! " 

This is the natural language, I presume, of ardent feeling. 
Yet, in reality, how few of our friendships last so long as to be 
carried to the borders of the grave ! How often do they suffer 
a speedier and far more cruel extinction ! Are there many of 
us to whom, on disembarking on that other shore, a hand could 
be extended on which we would swear an eternal friend- 
ship ? (Page 47.) 

Two lovers, soon after their happy union, are separated by 
death. How vivid is the faith of the survivor that they shall 
meet again ! Surely somewhere they shall be reunited. Is there 
not space enough, are there not stars enough in the wide 
heavens ? And all they want is a little space to love in, some 
foothold given them in the creation. All the rest of their eter- 
nal joy they carry with them ; such joy as it would surely be 
amazing waste and prodigality to let fall out of the universe. 

What if they had lived and loved a little longer on the 
earth ? Perhaps the star would not have been wanted. (Page 

But the soul's aspiration toward God, toward knowl- 
edge of Him and union with Him, points to a future 

Here is a want felt imperatively by each reflective soul, and 
which never will be gratified on earth. 

If I were therefore asked for my ground of belief in the 
second great doctrine of religion, I should say it was involved 
in the first ; it follows, I think, as a corollary from a belief in 

Nay, even the terrible anxiety which sometimes seizes us to 
know whether a God exists or not brings with it a sudden and 
imperious conviction in some future condition of our being in 
which we shall know. It would stand alone in nature if a 
thinking being should be born into this great scheme of things, 
where all is fit and harmonious, with one burning question for- 
ever in his heart, which was never to be solved. If I ever 
touched for a moment the borders of complete scepticism, I felt 


at that moment the impossibility that I could altogether die 
that I could become extinct with this uuremoved ignorance upon 
my soul. (Pages 51, 52.) 

I never could look long upon the stars, and not feel that I 
claimed some kindred with the infinite and the eternal. Why 
am I vexed incessantly with this question, " Mortal or immortal," 
if nothing is to come of it ? Or who can think upon that other 
and greater problem the nature of Him who perchance sits 
central amidst the stars and not feel that a creature who can 
who must state such problems to himself is surely destined, 
one day, somewhere, to have them solved for him ? 

Oh, yes ! believe it ! believe it ! there is an eternal life 
within us. It will burn on ! it is akin to those stars. 

And, Clarence, you are right ! As men grow better on the 
earth, they will grow more confident in their great hope of im- 
mortality. They will support it in each other and in them- 
selves. Have I not said that the aspect of the living world was 
the .conspicuous cause of our despondency ? Here, as elsewhere, 
we meet with that reciprocal action that encounters us through- 
out in this great organic growth of society ; the faith that ele- 
vates our morality is again confirmed and animated by the 
higher morality it has assisted to produce. (Page 57.) 

This last thought is a most characteristic feature of 
his belief in progress. That belief has been held by many 
as affording a substitute for any other religion. But, in 
our author's mind, connected with human progress is the 
belief that along with it will come a stronger and purer 
faith and hope of realities beyond this world. Of the 
fact of social progress to revert again to this central 
topic he finds a striking evidence in the growth, in the 
England of to-day, of the sentiment of devotion to " the 
good of the whole." " The good of the whole " that 
must be the watchword of advancing society : that is the 
abiding foundation of morality and religion. 

Glance now at the state of opinion in England, and say if I 
am fabling, or dealing with some figment of the imagination, 
when I pronounce that " the good of the whole " has become a 


noble care to very many amongst us. To me, looking abroad 
amongst my contemporaries, nothing so conspicuously character- 
izes our age as the number of noble minds you see in it full of 
the desire to promote the general good. In this habit of think- 
ing for the good of society, you would say, indeed, that most of 
us had become philosophers. Modes of thinking which, in the 
palmy days of Greece, were familiar only to a few men, who 
might have been packed together under a single portico of one 
of their own beautiful temples, are as common amongst us as the 
cries of the market-place. Notice how generally, by rich and 
poor, by learned and simple, the claim is admitted which society 
has on each one of us for his contribution to the public good. 
It is felt that each one of us owes all he has, and all he is, to 
society, and that he is bound to contribute his best of labour and 
intelligence to that organized community which is at once result 
and source of every individual life. That man does not belong 
to our age who does not manifest an extreme reluctance to be 
included in the class of idle men. He is not idle! He repu- 
diates the odious distinction. If he does not work with his hands, 
he manages, he overlooks, he combines the labours of others. If 
he has no land or factory, he makes for himself an occupation 
in some philanthropic scheme. He builds a school, or helps to 
erect a public bath he collects and distributes judiciously the 
charitable alms of others he is busy at a Savings Bank he 
is heart and soul in some Reformatory. If he can do nothing 
else, he writes a book. Having nothing to give but his ideas, 
he gives them. And say he has nothing of his own to give 
even here, he can disseminate amongst the many the truths of 
the few. By some plea he escapes the stigma of idleness. 
(Pages 559, 560.) 

And here is the perpetual incentive to social virtue, and 
the incentive also to hope : 

All society must advance, in order that any class may reach 
its highest possible development. It seems that it never is al- 
lowed for any one little group or knot of men to rest content 
with their own isolated position. Such is not nature's plan. 
Whether we look to the health of a man, or the wisdom of a 
man, we find that it is not permitted him to be well, or wise, 


Our Dives I have sometimes said to myself is no bad 
man. He is charitable. What if he encloses his mansion and 
his pleasant grounds within high walls, and thus seems to remove 
himself entirely from the squalid poverty without, he surely 
must have quiet and cleanliness, pure air, and freedom from 
loathsome sights. Those hovels outside his garden walls would 
be miserable things to look at, and would offend all senses at 
once. He is distressed that such things should be ; but he can- 
not rebuild the whole village, and if he did, he must add thereto 
the remodelling of the habits of the villagers. He must inter- 
pose between him and them that screen of beautiful trees pre- 
served by his protection, and which are not preserved for his 
pleasure only. Even the eloquent preacher who, Sunday by 
Sunday, collects both rich and poor under the same sacred roof, 
can suggest no remedy suggests only palliatives charity to 
the one party, and patience to the other. He sees that to de- 
stroy altogether the condition of Dives, by calling on him for an 
unbounded charity to give all he has to the poor would be 
simply to reduce us all to one barbarous level of poverty and ig- 
norance. The existing plan must remain we must be content 
with palliatives. 

But nature is not content with our palliatives. The rich man 
may be blameless, and the eloquent and the wise may have done 
all they could ; nevertheless, nature makes her protest. Out 
breaks the plague ! It comes from those hovels, and from the 
stagnant pool that lies amongst them, but it sweeps over the 
garden wall of the refined patrician ; it traverses those pleasant 
grounds, enters the chambers of that spacious mansion, and the 
dear child of the house lies stricken by it. Typhus and other 
fevers will not always stay in the hovels in which they are bred. 

Those hovels should have been rebuilt ; that stagnant pool 
that lies amongst them should have been drained. By whom ? 
It should have been done ! But who was to do it ? It should 
have been done ! Such inexorable protest is nature accustomed 
to make. 

And as with health of body, so with health of mind. Look 
narrowly into it. The intellectual Dives would shut himself up 
in the pleasant garden of his own thoughts pleasant garden, 
walled round from the turbulent passions, the superstitions, and 


the panic terrors of mankind open only to the calm and glo- 
rious heavens. All in vain. Those panic terrors leap his walls, 
and enter every chamber of his house, every chamber of his 
thoughts. They were bred in that crime, and ignorance, and 
suffering, that lies weltering there without ; but they do not stay 
where they are bred they walk abroad through the minds of 
all men. That swamp of ignorance and vice should have been 
drained. By whom ? It should have been done. This is the 
only answer that you get. There is no perfect immunity to any 
man, from any kind of pestilence, till the whole city is taken 
care of. (Pages 565-567.) 

From these broad outlooks we come back to group a few 
personal utterances : 

Refine ! refine ! Live only in the higher meditative regions 
of the soul ! It sounds like good advice. But with the last 
dross goes the last strength. Your passionless thought leaves 
you without a thing to cling to or to be ; you are all you 
are nothing. Mere thinking throws you abroad upon the winds 
flings you to the stars, if you will but you are homeless 
and purposeless there as you were upon the earth. (Page 46.) 

This beautiful external nature, these still waters, these majes- 
tic hills, I have not been worthy of them. Where was the peace 
of mind, where the greatness and tranquillity, where the noble, 
free, useful activity which all nature symbolizes ? Not in me ! 
not in me ! or only for an instant. On my best hours such lit- 
tle thoughts, such littles cares intruded. I have flowed weak as 
water. Any straw could turn me. A jest, a look, a laugh has 
thrown trouble into my soul ; a pain, a lassitude, a sick and 
morbid feeling, has changed the current of a whole philosophy. 

We would be gazing upward and around at some divine 
spectacle gazing with calm and dilated souls and lo ! there 
is eveY some thorn in the sandal we must first stoop to extract. 
(Page 57.) 

Stand aside from the crowd, and look on have no other 
business than to look on how mad and preposterous, how pur- 
poseless and inexplicable, will the whole scene of human life ap- 
pear ! 

" How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable 
All the uses of this world ! " 

" THORNDALE." 209 

Step down into the crowd ; choose a path, or let accident 
choose for you ; be one of the jostling multitude ; have wishes 
and a pursuit ; and how full of meaning and purpose has it all 
become ! This labyrinth of life is ever a straight path to him 
who keeps walking. (Page 45.) 

Last of all, we bring together a few of the book's many 
words of " religion pure and undefiled." 

Shall I tell you what religion is in its broadest definition ? 
It is life cultivated under God, and in the presence of death. 
Forget death, and there would be little or no religion. Forget 
life, and religion is an empty spectre a mere terror, best 
buried in the tomb, which it will then perpetually haunt. (Page 

All religion [it is Cyril the monk who speaks] hangs on the 
belief in God's righteous anger against sin. Once quibble that 
away, and you may be Deist, Pantheist, Atheist what you 
will it matters little. (Page 232.) 

Cyril said another time, " Even Infinite Love and Infinite 
Compassion must strike a guilty race with terror and remorse. 
This transgressing world, since the day of its sin, has seen, and 
could see, nothing so awful as that mild Presence which walked 
forth from the village of Nazareth. Under that naked footfall 
the earth trembles still. 

" It trembles because it is impure. It rejoices as it throws 
off its impurity. If I told the sinner in his sins that he would 
one day. and through the intervention of that very Being, be a 
glorified saint, he could not believe it. The infinite terror of his 
guilt must come, and pass away, before he could believe it. 
But," he added, speaking in a lower tone, as if it were some 
inner doctrine that he ventured to announce, " but I think it 
has been revealed to me that every soul that God has made 
shall finally be brought under the dominion of wisdom and of 
love. This I have at length authoritatively learnt in the 
stillness of my monastery, and in solitary walks by the seashore. 
If I were to say that Christ himself had taught it to me, you 
would smile at my enthusiasm : yet something like this I feel to 
be the truth." (Page 233.) 

God never pardons : the laws of his universe are irrevocable. 


God always pardons : sense of condemnation is but another 
word for penitence, and penitence is already new life. (Pages 
279, 280.) 

Who that has cultivated a high and reflective piety has not 
recognized that Religion does not first of all consist in hope of 
a future life, but consists first of all in living well here in a 
certain felt relationship with God in that happy, grateful, de- 
voted relationship which springs from knowledge of God's world 
and of our own humanity ? (Page 144.) 

I boldly claim for the future generations of mankind that re- 
ligion which our best and purest have claimed for themselves, 
when they shall ~be saints in Heaven. In that state they con- 
fess that Goodness and Piety are their own ends not prepara- 
tion for any other state of existence. They will become so here. 
This life will cease to be regarded chiefly as a preparation for 
another, because it will have become identified with that other. 
If we are immortal souls, we are immortal here ; death is but 
our great progression ; let us begin to live as the immortals 
should. (Page 160.) 

" Fear first," said the Cistercian, " then Hope, is the impulse 
of a Christian life. Last of all, the Christian life itself is its 
own motive. There comes a time when neither Fear nor Hope 
is necessary to the pious man ; but he loves righteousness for 
righteousness' sake, and love is all in all. It is not joy at. es- 
cape from future perdition that he now feels ; nor is it hope for 
some untold happiness in the future ; it is a present rapture of 
piety, and resignation, and love ; a present that fills eternity. It 
asks nothing, it fears nothing ; it loves, and it has no petition to 
make. God takes back his little child unto himself a little 
child that has no fear, and is all trust." (Page 234.) 

In these selections we have sought to " bring into har- 
mony what seems at first a mere conflict of opinions," and 
to fairly interpret the real philosophy of the author of 
" Thorndale." But we have omitted from this epitome 
some of the elements of personal feeling which give to the 
book its color and atmosphere. A brief introduction rep- 
resents the volume as consisting of a manuscript found in 
the desk of a young Englishman who had died near Na- 

" THORN DALE: 1 211 

pies. This is Charles Thorndale, who throughout the fol- 
lowing chapters speaks sometimes in the first person and 
sometimes as reporting his companions. He writes his 
story in the seclusion to which he has withdrawn from the 
world to await the termination of a lingering disease. His 
dwelling looks down on the city and the bay of Naples. 
Most appropriately is this spot selected, in a region where 
the loveliness of nature and the mixture and debasement 
of humanity are brought into the strongest contrast. With 
death near at hand, he looks on the scenes he is about 
to leave with a heightened interest, and with a singular 
absence of personal hope or fear. The problems of exist- 
ence which have been the strongest interest of his life are 
reviewed in solitude and in calm. He chances upon Cyril, 
now the inmate of a neighboring monastery, and converses 
with him. Clarence, too, he meets again, and Clarence 
writes out for him a full exposition of his theories. Yet 
the reader feels Thorndale to be essentially and intensely 
alone. Cyril and Clarence talk freely with him upon gen- 
eral subjects, but of personal ministration or personal 
sympathy he has none and seems to want none. His 
" good Bernard " valet, cook, and nurse is casually 
mentioned as the only domestic companion he has or 
needs. The pathos of this solitude touches the reader 
the more keenly because it is borne with such unconscious- 
ness, as if through long familiarity it had ceased to be 

As the story of the debates is rehearsed, each speak- 
er's opinion given as forcibly as if the author were speak- 
ing his inmost thought, the impression of doubt and 
perplexity which the reader receives is indicated as the 
effect also upon Thorndale himself. Certain convictions 
gain an ascendency in him ; he sets forth the material of 
an affirmative and strong philosophy. Yet, as he is 
summed up by the old acquaintance who finds and pub- 
lishes his manuscript, 


He was one of those who cannot rest a moment in denial, and 
who yet find preeminently 

" how difficult it is to keep 
Heights which the soul is competent to gain." 

His foothold was forever giving away ; he rose only to fall 
again but, in falling, his eye was still, and forever, fixed upon 
the summit. In what conclusion did he finally rest ? What 
fate did he prophesy to the individual human soul or to congre- 
gated humanity ? Heaven or Utopia, or both ? Or did he to 
the last continue to doubt, to hope, to aspire, and then again 
throw away his aspirations ? say rather give them away to 
some other and happier mind, and love them there, though he 
could not retain them for himself ? (Page 9.) 

One passage in the Introduction, descriptive of Charles 
Thorndale, gives an inmost self -revelation of William 
Smith : 

That noble sorrow which falls occasionally on every sincere 
inquirer who finds himself baffled in his search for truth had 
taken up a very constant position in his mind. There was noth- 
ing to dislodge it. He had no personal ambition, no domestic 
bonds, no duties, no cares. Life had no interest if philosophy 
could yield no truth. . . . Perhaps the only strong desire he 
had was this, of penetrating to certain great truths which seemed 
to lie just hidden from our sight. He walked like a shadow 
amongst us. ... It was plain that there was at least vitality 
enough left in the man to make this absence of all passion or 
motive, whether of ambition or love, itself a terrible calamity. 
(Page 5.) 

These passages give the keynote of a melancholy which 
pervades the more personal portions of the book, and which 
strongly affects the reader. 

In some of its finest utterances " Thorndale " declares 
that peace of heart comes only through Tightness of con- 
duct. It lays strong emphasis on social virtue. But as a 
whole it mirrors the author's separation from the activities 
of life. Even in its theories, it seems to make too little ac- 


count of the legitimate effect of action upon thought and 
faith. It makes no direct /appeal to man's personal en- 
ergy. Its hero does nothing except to think. He listens, 
ponders, and retires into solitude to meditate and to die. 

It is the touch of heart with heart that gives the surest 
sense of one supreme Heart of all. It is in his own most 
vigorous and noble action that man feels within himself as 
it were the very pulse of the Divine Energy. And the 
sadness that lies deepest on Thorndale arises from the 
seclusion of this sweet and gentle nature from its kind, 
and from all social activity. It is as if to him Thought 
and Beauty had to take the place of Action and Love 
a place they can never fill. Strangely touching it is to 
see him finding his reassurance and his satisfaction in the 
advancing good of humanity, and manifesting to the 
reader so lovable a quality even through the cold medium 
of the printed page, yet with no single fellow-being at 
his side. And amid the various play of his thought and 
feeling, like subtle and fascinating music, hardly once do 
we hear struck the full rich chord of happiness. He 
speaks of " the highest enjoyment we possess, the luxury 
and the triumph of thinking." Is that, O wise philoso- 
pher, the highest enjoyment you have found ? Then there 
is a joy you have not tasted, and a light to which your 
eyes have not opened. 

Yet this man, isolated from the great company of work- 
ers and worshippers, is one of the scattered pioneers whose 
quests and labors are contributing to the nobler temple 
which is rising for the society of the future. The old 
dwelling-place can no longer house all its children ; and 
while some of them abide and enlarge and refit, others 
must face the wilderness and subdue the New World. To 
measure the service of the men of William Smith's type, 
one should look back to the view of the universe in which 
he was trained as a youth, and which then was gener- 
ally accepted by the religious community. Contrast with 


Thorndale's view of humanity, doubtful at some points, 
frankly and humbly waiting for further light, but with 
lucid exposition of the long past, and grand prediction of 
society's future, with the recognition of every element 
in industry, science, art, and society, as well as nature, as 
threads in a divine plan whose beneficence exceeds our 
measurement, contrast with this the creed impressed on 
his childhood, so over-confident and so baseless in its 
assumption of authority, so fearful of unsparing inquiry, 
so restricted in its ideals of character, so fantastic in its 
story of humanity's beginnings, and with a prophecy of 
futurity mingling with its glories such ghastly terrors. By 
the difference between these two conceptions, we may 
partly measure what the higher mind of Europe had 
gained within a lifetime. Yet this comparison is incom- 
plete. We should add to the picture another way of 
thought, a way which to-day claims to dominate the in- 
telligence of Europe, the view of life from which God 
has wholly faded out, and which casts aside as childish 
fancy man's hope of a hereafter. In that contrast we 
shall best appreciate the service of one who in full face of 
modern thought, and preferring always sternest truth to 
kindest delusion, reached not only a noble anticipation for 
future generations, but also a great faith in God, and a 
tremulous, reverent hope for the spirit's future. 

We have dwelt on the loneliness which " Thorndale " 
shows in its author. Pathetic that solitude is, yet not 
without a great and lofty cheer. The want of close affec- 
tion and active occupation casts a heavy shadow ; but in 
rising out of all personal ambition and solicitude into a 
habitual consideration of what concerns all mankind, 
there has come an emancipation of the spirit. This 
watcher on a mountain height like the seer of old, 
discerning a promised land not for himself but for his 
people asks not our compassion for his loneliness. Be 
that as God wills ! Eagerly he points us to the mighty 


spectacle which spreads before him. The mists are part- 
ing, darkness is fleeing, and behold, this great human 
family is not a groping and distracted host : it is an ad- 
vancing army, divinely ordered, divinely led. 


Our best beliefs from best affections spring, 
And solitude is ignorance. 


How do I love thee ? Let me count the ways. 
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height 
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight 
To the ends of Being and ideal Grace. 
I love thee to the level of every day's 
Most quiet need, by sun and candle light. 
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; 
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise; 
I love thee with the passion put to use 
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. 
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose 
With my lost saints I love thee with the breath, 
Smiles, tears, of all my life ! And, if God choose, 
I shall but love thee better after death. 




THE story of the man's life has been told partly in the 
words of his wife, as she wrote it in the early days of 
her bereavement, at first for dear friends only, then yield- 
ing with hesitancy to entreaties that it should be given to 
a wider circle. And now there lies at hand the fuller 
story of her own heart in its springtime, a story she 
wrote out at a later time for her solace. Under what im- 
pulse it was written is told in its opening words : 

" My husband, my all, even now, ' despite the dis- 
tance and the dark,' I have often thought of writing down 
more fully my happy memories of our blended life. I 
will begin to-day (March 27, 1875) will take refuge if 
I may from the unspeakable sorrow of the present in the 
glad completeness of the past. 

" I was always fond of looking back even when, with 
you by my side, the now was better than any then, since 
you said you loved me ' more and more.' You would 
point me to the future, to other happy years. But now, 
I do not think you would blame me for seeking some 
alleviation for a grief that you pitied 4 infinitely, infi- 
nitely.' I will weave into my narrative of facts bits of 
your writings, your letters. If I live to be old, to be 
blind, some kind soul will read these pages to me. They 
will help me to bear and to hope. They will quicken the 
failing life. It may be too that our nieces may find them 
precious, for surely it is good for all to dwell upon a char- 
acter like yours, to sympathize with my love of you." 

And so, in the rare intervals when she was quite alone, 


through the next four years, she lived out, on paper, the 
time from the first meeting of the two until the wedding- 
day. Parts of the story she read to one or another inti- 
mate friend, and the whole of it she left at her death to a 
beloved niece of her husband's, giving it to her absolute 
disposal. She was a woman completely retired from pub- 
licity, without a spark of literary ambition for herself, 
and never entertaining a thought of self-disclosure except 
to friends ; but, as to her husband, divided between a 
sympathy with his own aversion to conspicuousness, and 
a wish that others might know his worth. In her words 
above quoted " Surely it is good for all to dwell upon a 
character like yours, to sympathize with my love for you " 
may be seen some vague idea that others beside the 
nieces might possibly hear this fuller story. But, once 
embarked in the telling, it is plain that all auditors were 
forgotten the flow of memory took its way as spontane- 
ous, as unchecked, as the heart beats. 

In the next three chapters two strands are woven to- 
gether, one from the Memoir, the other from the Man- 
uscript. Among the passages omitted from the latter 
are most of the interspersed expressions which tell of 
aching loss. That belongs to a later time. Here shall 
be given, almost unshadowed by after years, the story of 
love's happy beginning. 

(From the Memoir.) 

It was in the August of 1856 that William Smith and 
his future wife first became acquainted. My beloved 
mother, at that time a complete invalid, a little niece 
of mine who then lived with us, and I had been spending 
the early summer in Borrowdale, and we too, attracted by 
the new and cheerful row of lodging-houses, now took up 
our abode at 3 Derwentwater Place. The solitary stu- 
dent, to whom I confess I not a little grudged the draw- 
ing-room floor, soon sent to proffer one request that the 


little girl would not practise her scales, etc., during the 
morning hours. Now and then we used to pass him in 
our walks, but he evidently never so much as saw us. 
There was something quite unusual in the rapt abstrac- 
tion of his air, the floating lightness of his step ; one 
could not help wondering a little who and what he was, 
but for several weeks nothing seemed more entirely un- 
likely than our becoming acquainted. 

The lodging-place that we all occupied was kept by a 
mother and two daughters, who had had a reverse of for- 
tune, and to whom this way of life was new. We were 
their first tenants. One of the daughters especially was 
well educated and interesting. To her I gave a copy of 
Grillparzer's " Sappho," which I had recently translated. 
I knew she would value it a little for my sake, but it 
never occurred to me that she would take it to the recluse 
in the drawing-room. She did so, however. Piles of 
manuscript on his desk had convinced her that he was 
" an author," and it amused her to show him the little 
production of one of the other lodgers ! Perhaps he may 
have thought that she did this at my request, perhaps his 
kindliness disposed him to help by a hint or two some 
humble literary aspirant for always he was kind ; at 
all events, the very next day he sent down a message pro- 
posing to call, and on the 21st of August there came a 
knock at our sitting-room door ; the rapid entrance of a 
slight figure, some spell of simplicity and candor in voice 
and manner that at once gave a sense of freedom ; and 
the give-and-take of easy talk beginning with com- 
ments on the translation in his hand had already 
ranged far and wide before he rose, and, lightly bowing, 
left the room. 1 I thought him absolutely unlike any one 

1 One little observation of his clung to my memory, and returns 
to it very often in my present loneliness is it too trivial to record ? 
Discussing the building instinct in insect and bird, and their variety 
of dwellings, he said, " The primary condition of the home is that 
there should be two" 


I had ever met ; singularly pleasant in all he said ; even 
more singularly encouraging and gracious in his way of 
listening. He pointed out a passage in the translated 
play that had particularly taken his fancy : 

" Like to the little noiseless garden snail, 
At once the home and dweller in the home ; 
Still ready at the very slightest sound 
Frightened, to draw within itself again ; 
Still turning tender feelers all around, 
And slow to venture forth on surface new ; 
Yet clinging closely if it cling at all, 
And ne'er its hold relaxing but in death." 

I have transcribed these lines, because, in after days, he 
was much given playfully to designate himself " The 
Snail." At the close of this first call I well remember 
that my mother, who had been reclining the while in an 
adjoining room, exclaimed : " What could you find to talk 
about so long, my dear ? one might have thought you had 
known each other for years ! " That was it ! To certain 
natures William Smith, from the first moment of meeting, 
could never seem a stranger ! The call was soon repeated, 
and afterwards he came three times in the evening, as then 
my mother was able to see him. She was at once im- 
pressed with his charm : " How could you call him plain, 
my dear ? he has one of the most delightful countenances I 
have ever seen ! " The dear mother ! herself a sufferer and 
grievously depressed for two years past, it was not fre- 
quent at that time to hear her express delight ; but she was 
delighted with him ! He afterwards told me that just then 
he was " positively starving for conversation." Hence, 
perhaps, his effervescence and abandon. On one of these 
pleasant evenings he read us some of " Sartor Resartus." 
He gave me a copy of his Dramas, and the day we left Kes- 
wick (just a fortnight after our first meeting) he took me 
to see his favorite view of the Lake ; and we talked with 
the perfect unreserve of those who hold themselves little 


likely ever to meet again. He spoke much of his mother, 
of his happy home with her, his sense of isolation since he 
had lost her ; spoke, also, a little of his literary work and 
religious opinions. I, on my side, told him of my family 
circumstances, in which, too, there was sadness and strug- 
gle. He frankly said he was sorry we were leaving ; I 
did not say to any one, not even to myself, how sorry I 
was to go ! A short note or two were interchanged, then 
came a longer letter telling me of the projected departure 
for Australia of Mr. and Mrs. Weigall and their daugh- 
ters, of whom he was especially fond, and " whose house 
afforded him a refuge to which he occasionally fled from 
this wandering, solitary life." No wonder that he added, 
" To me this is no little affliction, though they write in 
good spirits ; " and, " I think you will have a little com- 
passion for me." From that time the letters grew longer. 
We planned a meeting at Patterdale in the ensuing 
spring, and thither he duly went. My mother, however, 
preferred the prospect of an Irish tour ; and I, whose 
chief solicitude then was the state of her health, never let 
her find out till long after the touch of disappointment I 
could not help feeling at being unable to keep tryst. 

I will give a few passages from some of these early let- 
ters which chanced to get preserved when, at his earnest 
request, I burnt the correspondence of the two years that 
intervened between our first and second meeting. But the 
extracts no more show the charm of the letters than 
pulled-out petals the beauty of a flower. The first gives 
a glimpse of his lonely life : 

That other book you alluded to we should agree upon, I am 
sure. I think there are passages in Charlotte Bronte's letters 
which beat all the letters I have ever read. And what a pic- 
ture ! what a family group in the little rectory ! . . . How 
thoroughly I could sympathize with some of these letters in 
which she describes her own solitude ! How many hours have 
I passed in the evening with the candle put in some corner of 


the room, because my eyes could no longer bear the light, pa- 
cing up and down, and looking out at the clouds if fortunately 
there were any clouds to be seen ! I have rarely been more in- 
terested in any book than this. 

Here is his account of " Thorndale," which was then on 
the point of publication : 

The book the libretto, as I modestly style it is being 
printed, but it goes on very slowly. It will be only one volume, 
much such a volume as one of the new edition of Professor Wil- 
son's works. The title is to be " Thorndale," or " Thorndale's 
Diary," the last title will tell you what sort of work it is. 
Not a novel. But a diary admits the intermixture of some inci- 
dents with reflection. It closes with a sort of Confession of 
Faith, or view of human progress, which is a sort of continuous 
essay. Some will perhaps read up to this, and then drop the 
book ; others would be satisfied with reading this last part, and 
leaving the rest alone. I am not at all sanguine about its suc- 
cess, I never have succeeded in anything, but one must put 
forth what there is in one's mind, be it much or little. I was 
quite in earnest when I said that I should like to have a lady 
critic at my elbow ; because it is on matters of taste, style, bits 
of verse, etc., that I should particularly want to consult another. 
And as to graver matters, although there are some few men 
whose opinions would be invaluable, they are very few, and 
quite inaccessible. Even on these I would rather have the im- 
pressions of an intelligent woman than " the average man," who 
is not at all impressible, and who is certainly not a whit wiser, 
or more disciplined or trained to thinking. 

The following extract I give because the views it ex- 
presses about India were held by him to the end, and put 
out in the last article he ever wrote : 

Yes ! this terrible revolt in India must occupy all thoughts. 
It occupies mine a good deal, but to very little purpose. I see 
that the national revenge of England must have its course. But 
our Indian Empire has never been a great favourite of mine. I 
always looked at it as leading to much benefit, in one way or 
the other, to India itself, but as having little to do with the real 


power and prosperity of England. I myself revolt at the 
scheme, put forth by some writers in the " Times," of governing 
India entirely by foreign troops, presuming this were possible. 
If the English power is not really educating Indians so that they 
will assume one day an independent and permanent position 
among the nations, I really see no justification whatever for our 

It was in the autumn of 1857 that " Thorndale " ap- 
peared. On my return from the Irish tour, by which my 
dear mother's health had marvellously benefited, I well re- 
member going into an Edinburgh library in quest of some 
other book, and having " Thorndale " recommended me 
by the librarian as a very remarkable work indeed. Be- 
fore long the author sent me a copy, but I glanced over it 
merely ; I did not read it for some months. My way of 
religious thinking, perhaps I should rather say of feeling, 
led me to shrink from any disturbing influence. 

My husband's contributions to " Blackwood's Maga- 
zine " were suspended from the April of 1856 to the Jan- 
uary of 1858, when he wrote a notice of a translation I 
had made of Freytag's " Debit and Credit." His kindly 
encouragement was a support to me in every little effort 
of the sort, and during the ensuing spring our letters 
were very frequent. We told each other all our interests, 
and also all our discouragements and difficulties. I well 
recollect his pleasantly contrasting our lives in some such 
words as these : " You are in a good roomy boat, rowing 
hard, but with others around you ; whilst I am bobbing 
up and down on the waves alone, with only a life-belt to 
trust to." Certainly a habit of confidence had been very 
firmly established when on the 14th of July, 1858, we met 
again at Patterdale, and yet neither had quite distinct or 
correct impressions of the other. William often told me he 
could never identify the Patterdale companion with the 
Keswick acquaintance. Nor was I prepared for all I found 
in him. By this time I had indeed read " Thorndale," and 


had felt its pathos as keenly as its beauty. In the letters I 
had been accustomed to receive there was almost always an 
undertone of sadness ; but, to my surprise, their writer was 
cheerful beyond any one I knew, or, at least, cheerful with 
a kind of cheerfulness I had never known something 
akin to morning sunlight, the soaring song of larks, the 
sportiveness of young woodland creatures. I cannot de- 
scribe it, but it effaced for me all memories of care and dis- 
appointment ; it made the whole world new. Neither was 
he any longer inclined to be solitary. From the day of our 
first cordial meeting to that of my mother's and my depart- 
ure we invariably took long walks, morning and evening, 
let the weather be what it would. When it was fine, we 
sought out some, exquisite shade of birch-trees on high 
ground, with peeps of Ulleswater through the branches, or 
a mossy knoll overhanging a " lake-bend of river," or a 
sequestered grass walk beside a most joyous brook, and in 
such scenes as these he would read to me by the hour, 1 or 
I, in my turn, would repeat poetry to him. When it was 
wet we would put up with any shelter we could find, or 
talked and laughed very gayly under our umbrellas. We 
were not, however, always gay. The burden of loneliness 
was far more painful to him at this time than when he 
first resolved to endure it. In one of our early walks I 
can recall his suddenly bursting out, " I have come to 
envy any room in which there are two chairs ! " 

(From the Manuscript.) 

I must not linger over every walk, though each was a 
step in advance in the sweet mutual confidence and singu- 

1 To those who knew William Smith it is unnecessary to dwell 
upon the charm of his reading. His voice was singularly flexible, 
varied, and, above all, pathetic. He himself had an idea that he suc- 
ceeded best with comic subjects, and many delighted especially in 
hearing him read Dickens, Sterne, etc. Yet I always grudged tho 
voice to anything but poetry of a high order. 


lar rapport that made this first fortnight the gladdest I 
and I may say he too, since he said so had ever known. 
During it I never suspected that I more than liked my 
companion. Only I should have admitted that I never 
had so enjoyed companionship. Everything exhilarated 
us even the long darn I had to make in the flounce of 
a muslin gown through which he had inadvertently poked 
his stick. On the twenty-fourth, we had our second walk 
to lovely, lovely Deepdale, and he read me bits of Shelley, a 
few loose pages of which he generally carried in his pocket. 
That evening, too, though it was wet, we sat on stones un- 
der trees. He told me much of his early life, and I repeated 
some of Mrs. Browning's poems to him. Afterward, this 
repetition of poetry that he liked alternated pretty con- 
stantly with the exquisite treat of hearing him read. On 
Sundays we agreed not to meet, I used to go to the 
church with my beloved mother. On Monday, the twenty- 
sixth, the evening walk was in the rain, and I recollect 
the complete insouciance with which I put on an old bat- 
tered, flapping, and most unbecoming Swiss hat, of five 
summers' wear. For, as I said, no conscious desire to win 
more than his cordial liking had as yet interfered with 
my simple pleasure in the new life, the fresher, lighter, 
wider range of thought and fancy. We were standing by 
some rails looking across the lake, I do not know what we 
were talking of, only, he suddenly kissed the brim of 
my ugly hat. I do not know what led to this sudden im- 
pulse, nor whether it proceeded from any consciousness 
that I was dear to him, but I do know well the wondrous 
effect. The years rolled off me. Instead of the woman 
with her acceptance of a colorless life, a girl in soul stood 
there, beholding earth and sky new created and very good ! 
How the heart beat with a tumult of possibilities ! If he 
loved me if! I knew now what he was to me. It was 
all quite plain. The strange happiness came from a love 
so different from any I had felt before, it was not strange 


I had not guessed its nature till this flash of transcendent 
brightness. From that evening the light-hearted enjoy- 
ment of the moment was over. Every word he spoke was 
weighted for me with far-reaching significance : " He loves 
me he loves me not." Then, too, his throat became 
troublesome the very next day, and I was miserably anx- 
ious. But he was tractable, he adopted the simple reme- 
dies I prescribed, he let me minister ; and in a day or two 
he was well, reading " In Memoriam " to me, I hear 
the thrilling ring of his voice yet in the lines " Ring out 
wild bells." He read them under the shade of an old and 
wide-spreading birch, I wonder if it is still standing. 
He read me too his articles on White's " Christian Cen- 
turies," and Gladstone's " Homer," which appeared in 
the August number of " Black wood." I recollect his telling 
me with* that childlike openness which was one of his most 
endearing attributes, what a liberal cheque and kind letter 
he had had in consequence. At this time earlier than this 
indeed he constantly exclaimed, " How happily the days 
of Thalaba go by ! " Another quotation, spoken with a 
delightful irrelevancy, as he walked backwards, his whole 
face and figure radiant with joy, was, " How charming is 
divine Philosophy ! " I cannot, I dare not, realize it any 
more. But the remembrance will surely quicken my heart 
and mind even when the dying languor has set in ! 

From the first I had been rather struck with the em- 
phasis which Mr. Smith, as I then called him and long 
after, laid upon the difference three hundred a year might 
make in a man's destiny. He spoke of it as wealth, and 
I soon inferred that his own income fell far below that 
moderate standard. In one of his stories he had spoken 
of a confessed poverty as an equivalent to the tonsure. 
Certainly he displayed his tonsure all he could ! And 
then we forgot all about it in our great gladness, and he 
allowed the gracious tenderness and caressingness of his 
nature free play. A friend, Bessie Bennett, came to stay 


with us three weeks after this mutual life had begun, and 
she saw his wondrous and quite peculiar charm. He was 
always in high, frolicsome spirits when she was our com- 
panion, the talk being of course restricted in its range ; 
but she was so loving a friend of " Divine Philosophy " 
that she was no check upon his cheerfulness. After Bessie 
left, there were sometimes alternations on his part. On 
mine there had been before, but I hid them pretty success- 
fully. I remember one evening, standing by the bridge 
I stand on now alone, that he spoke with apprehension of 
the poverty and loneliness he foresaw in the future, when 
he could " make bricks " no longer, that is write for 
"Blackwood." And sometimes I think he would take 
alarm, how if the tonsure should fain to warn, and the 
perfection of our companionship leave a want and a sadness 
in my lot ? At such prudent seasons, the sweet names and 
tones would cease, and after a walk together, and much 
intelligent talk on general subjects, I returned inwardly 
wretched and woke in tears. However, the cautious mood 
did not last long, a bright morning, the beauty of the 
hills, the togetherness, banished it utterly. I think he did 
not quite guess all he was to me. Once I remember him 
gracefully flung on the grass at my feet, looking search- 
ingly up into my eyes, and saying, " I wonder if she is 
laughing at me all the time ! " Another time there was a 
thrilling whisper, " CM sa se mai ti soverrai de me ! " 

I have just come across, in one of his manuscript books, 
a passage almost identical with some observations he made 
one wet summer day as we sat on the flags under the shel- 
ter of the veranda of Glen Rhydding House, then un- 
tenanted. The passage is : " When we speak of the cold- 
ness of a philosophical Deism, recollect that hitherto 
woman has not partaken of the creed. The finer sensibil- 
ities of her nature have not clothed it for us. The Chris- 
tian religion, which is in the ascendant, draws to itself 
the womanly heart. If the manly intellect should place 


Deism in the place of Christianity, the womanly heart 
will follow, and invest it with pathos and feeling." On 
the occasion I refer to, I see the very look in his eyes, 
half pleading, half pathetic, he said in reply to my be- 
wailing the coldness of the simple creed : " Wait, wait, 
till mothers have taught it to their children." 

At this time he had a green morocco book of extracts, 
from which he would often read to me. There were 
several passages from Southey in it. " Not to the grave, 
not to the grave, my soul," was one. The book being 
lent to me, I was pleased to find an extract or two from 
letters of mine. 

It was a characteristic of the constant nature of the 
man in thought and feeling more constant, more con- 
tinuous, more consistent with his higher self than any I 
have known to prefer repeating the old delights to seek- 
ing after new. During the seven weeks spent together 
the variety of walks was not great. We went often to 
" Point Perfection " on Glen Rhydding Dod, a mossy pla- 
teau well sheltered by trees, looking straight down on the 
lake, and with fine views of Place Fell and the other hills 
caught through the branches. It was so he liked his views 
best, always he needed some interposing veil to deepen 
the colors, to suggest as well as to reveal. " The half is 
better than the whole " was a frequent utterance, which I 
secretly found a little sad. Then there was a sweet shaded 
knoll overhanging a " lake-like bend of river," looking to 
Hartsop Dod. Oftenest of all we went to " our dear 
brook " in the grounds of Patterdale Hall. Again there 
was Deepdale, a somewhat longer walk ; and as I said be- 
fore, a favorite birch-tree, good for sitting under and hear- 
ing " In Memoriam. " Our poplars " were often visited, 
for the sake of the exquisite thrill of their leaves to the 
lightest summer wind. And there was a walk on the Gras- 
mere bridle road, with peeps of the rapid brook deep below, 
where we had a habit of standing long. On moonlight 


nights there was the watching the clouds from the church- 
yard. And so the happy, happy time fitfully, painfully, 
yet intensely happy time stole away, and the day of part- 
ing had to be fixed ; then, by mutual consent, not spoken 
about till it came. Always inferior to him, I did not then 
understand his impulse to put away the painful future and 
to live in the light of the present only. But now I see 
that this habit of his mind, self-conquest, become a law of 
his constitution, was one of the secrets of his singular 
charm. You had the whole man at every successive mo- 
ment. His joy in nature, in the presence of the human 
love, to him ever manifestations of something higher, 
was never clouded by anticipation, or dulled by compari- 
son with the past. Whatever he said or did was always 
spontaneous. He never repeated himself or divided him- 
self. At the age of twenty he had written thus, describ- 
ing a beautiful character under circumstances that strike 
as a curious prevision of his own : " He is never looking 
forward to the future, never resting his happiness on ex- 
pectation. He enjoys the present moment as though it 
were to be the only one of his existence, or rather he lives 
in time as though he were already in eternity." Very 
near the close of his pure life, the man who had so early 
discerned the secret of at least making happy said to the 
dear niece who was his companion in one of the last drives, 
in reply to her expressed apprehension of rain, said, 
laying his wasted hand on hers, " It is fine now, dear 

And so, our parting was kept as much as possible out 
of sight while we were together. But our hearts spoke 
out more and more fully during those last days. On the 
twenty-eighth of August a lovely day, and lovely night 
we stood side by side, leaning against the low wall of 
the churchyard, watching the moon rise behind Place 
Fell, herself long unseen. She threw her light on the 
soft clouds that took warm color of inexpressible beauty. 


I never see those tints without remembering that evening, 
even through all the happy seeing together of after years. 
We stood silent, or I cannot remember what was said. 
Only he whispered, " We shall never forget each other 
now." Then came the sad words, " But I am as power- 
less to alter my destiny as to lift that church." That I 
fully accepted, his love more than sufficed. 

Two more days of even closer, dearer companionship, 
evenings spent with him at Quarry Bank in the warm fire- 
light glow. For my share in them I find recorded, 
" Oh, too happy." Wednesday, the first of September, 
was the parting day. We walked for the last time to the 
sweet spot he called " Point Perfection." He read me 
again " Ring out, wild bells." As I thought, I said good- 
by at Quarry Bank. But no, he came to see us off. I 
had a short, happy walk before the inexorable coach set 
off. I see his hands delicate " fingers that felt like 
brain " - resting on the coach door. One more smile 
a flash of light always and we were no longer together. 
But I had hope had we not fixed to meet at Rosstrevor ? 
I " felt more than ever sure of his affection," and I had 
love, unutterable, unuttered, after all my uttering 
love which was life, which is so still ! 



(From the Manuscript.) 

MY four first letters have the Patterdale postmark. 
He remained at Quarry Bank three weeks after my 
mother and I left. Having heard him express a wish to 
look over a work on physiology, I got my dear father to 
procure it from an Edinburgh library, and in some way or 
other contrived to leave with him Dr. Rowland Williams's 
" Christianity and Hindooism." But the first letter says, 
" I do not feel disposed to read. It is not easy to go back 
to books if they are to be made the substitute for a very 
charming society. Have I not been talking daily with 
' Divine Philosophy ' herself ? Was she not sitting but 
the other evening in this very room ? Oh, this sweet fem- 
inine personification makes the mere abstractions of the 
book very wearisome. But to-morrow I will try and at- 
tack ' Christianity and Hindooism.' One must come back, 
come down, to the book. There is no help for it." And 
the second letter says : " Since you left me more than a 
week has passed, and I can recall nothing except a great 
deal of rain and long idle reveries in which a hat with 
fern leaves in it is perpetually coming and going. Think 
what it must be to be suddenly let down from two walks 
per diem to just nothing at all. I cannot take to these 
books. I shall never settle down to read in this place 
where I have enjoyed so delightful a society. How com- 
pletely I gave myself up to its enjoyment ! That I should 
pay some penalty for this great pleasure is nothing, but I 


do hope you will not reproach me for acting, as the astron- 
omers say, as a ' disturbing force,' a disturbing force 
on the fair and benign planet. That would grieve me to 

This is my answer to that portion of the letter. " 1 
reproach you ! I ever, ever reproach you ! Wild, un- 
natural, impossible words, that brought those tears to my 
eyes, that choking pain to my heart, that I sometimes 
waked with in my little room at Grisedale Bridge, fear- 
ing that you did not care for me. But the pang is over. 
Kindest nature, that would not hurt the meanest thing 
that lives ! " And I go on so, writing cheerfully, for his 
letter had grown sad at its close. But in the course of my 
letter (it soothes me to re-write the words he read) I say : 
" O my friend of friends, my friend in some special sense, 
how beloved you cannot know, none can but He who 
reads the hearts he frames, the poor planet yields to the 
disturbing force without a struggle or without a regret. 
And always, my sun, must that side be bright and smil- 
ing which she turns to you. This be sure of, I bless 
the day I saw you first, I bless every day I ever spent 
with you. I am a thousand times happier even so hap- 
pier, nobler, better, than before I knew you. And in- 

' What had I done, or what am I, that God 
Should make me happier than his angels are ! ' " l 

The proof of the second edition of " Thorndale " now 
began to arrive. He writes : " How I wished that I could 
have carried it off to Grisedale Bridge. It would have 
been a pleasant incident to have happened while you were 
here. I should have rushed off with it across the field, and 
swept round the little churchyard with that alacrity of 
step which often astonished the venerable ex-pastor watch- 
ing me from his house. He seemed to watch my move- 
1 Sir William Crichton. 


ments with some interest. He sees me now pass round 
that corner with sobriety enough." 

After three weeks of complete solitude he returned to 
Keswick. I must make several extracts from this " long, 
long letter," written in the minutest, delicatest hand. " If 
I could send you a photograph of all my thoughts, I do 
not think you would be displeased with the picture not 
personally. You would not approve, for you would see 
what large black spots had been wrought by certain mis- 
erable reflections on my own social status on the 
wretched isolation which circumstances seem to have 
brought about for me and on a future which will prob- 
ably darken as I proceed. But you would see your own 
image very distinct, and looking quite as beautiful as it 
did to the mother's eye that other evening you would 
see it very prettily enshrined amongst the trees of Ulls- 
water, where it was worshipped something more than the 
trees, and you know that beautiful trees make me almost 
an idolater. 

" But I will begin my letter afresh, and start from 
Monday morning and proceed chronologically. ' Half-way 
up Helvellyn ! ' These I think were the last words in my 
letter from Patterdale. But the half way became the 
whole way. For I thought to myself, and probably said 1 
to myself, ' There never could be a finer day for the ascent 
clear as autumn, warm as summer and those noble 
clouds, whose light in the sky and whose shadow on the 
hills are almost equally beautiful. Why not see if a guide 
and a pony are to be had ? ' Accordingly I bent my steps 
to the hotel, and procured guide and pony, and ascended 
to the glorious summit of Helvellyn. My guide was the 
very perfection of a guide, for when we had reached the 
top he drew a pipe from his pocket and sat himself down 

1 This is an allusion to a little established jest of ours. When I 
had first known him I had noticed that long solitude had induced this 


contentedly to smoke, leaving me to my own devices. 
Nothing interfered with my pleasure except a remorseful 
feeling that I had not persuaded you to make this expedi- 
tion. The view was really very, very grand, but at the 
same time so exquisitely beautiful from the delicate tints 
and indescribable purples thrown over the whole scene, 
that one knows not what word to apply to it. But you 
don't want a description, nor can any mortal man give one 
of such a view as this. 

" Tuesday was if possible even a finer day than Mon- 
day. I spent it paying a farewell visit to all the charm- 
ing spots between Grisedale Bridge and Glen Coyn, where 
we had sat and read and recited. I wished a good-by to 
every birch-tree that was looking into the sky or bending 
over the lake. But the night of Tuesday was even still 
more glorious than the day. And you too were enjoying 
that moonlight ? Was it not superb ? At about eleven 
o'clock I walked out of my window, and strolled in the 
direction of that little knoll by the stream, which I sus- 
pect has found a place in your pocket-book. You re- 
member that the stream takes a bend here, and is as calm 
as a little lake would be. You can summon up all the 
scene I was looking at Hartsop Dod in that ethereal 
blue which a very bright moon throws upon the moun- 
tains over the Dod a magnificent array of clouds bril- 
liant with moonlight, and above them in a perfectly clear 
sky the moon herself while part of this scene, the not- 
forgotten trees near at hand, was reflected in the most 
charming manner imaginable by the little lake-stream at 
my feet. 

" Wednesday came, and what a change ! What dire 
rain ! Yet I persisted, under the umbrella, in paying a 
last visit to the brook. . . . Just at four o'clock the rain 
ceased, and I was not condemned to the interior I 
mounted the box. The dark clouds, now rolling up from 
the hills, brought out their color, and the last view I had 


of Ullswater from Gowborough Park was worthy of the 
dear place and the charming reminiscences it will ever 
bring to me. 1 

" Wednesday evening therefore I reached Keswick, 
and the dark fireless house looked desolate enough. . . . 
Thank you for this pencil sketch. What an enviable resi- 
dence must this be of your brother's ! It is quite a man- 
sion, a palazzo ! I do not envy people who have mansions, 
but I do envy, with almost a wicked envy, every one who 
has a home in the country." Then, after alluding to a 
" big desk " that had taken his fancy at Quarry Bank, he 
says : " I am perforce writing on my old little one. But 
I beg to say that I do not keep your letters in this little 
open desk. I must tell you that I found in my portman- 
teau, which is never 4 put to rights,' but has all sorts of 
rubbish squeezed into corners, a pocket-book long ago pur- 
chased in Belgium, and which has neither been used nor 
thrown away. Into this I deposit your letters. And 
what do you think was the learned book that occupied me 
yesterday evening? It was precisely this pocket-book. 
I took out the letters, and read every one of them through, 
every word. May not this go for an answer to something 
said in your last ? I do not know how to express the 
tenderness that comes over me as I read them. Fit words 
won't come not to the pen they might come in speech 
more readily than wisely. Do you know when I look at 
that sketch you have sent me of your brother's house, I 
feel so acutely what a sort of vagabond I am. And you 
sit up there in the marked window ! Somewhat different 
from the little room at Grisedale Bridge." 

How vividly I remember the intense feeling this letter 
stirred ! His was not only the nature to command my 

1 He never saw it again. The first year after our marriage he 
said we would return to Patterdale after we had been married ten 
years. The ten years came round, but he was occupied at Newton 
Place and reluctant to move. 


reverence, but his the circumstances to call out, nay, to 
create, a tenderness till then unguessed at. Something 
there was in my nature which might have led to caprice, 
to momentary antagonisms, which had so led in other 
relations. A rich, a prosperous man could never have 
had my worship oh, it was given without stint or cal- 
culation to this lonely thinker ! I will copy a few words 
from the letter I wrote, because he liked it. After a 
burst of ecstasy at the " reading over " of my " four let- 
ters," I say : " There they all are down-stairs I am so 
sorry for them all they don't know you! My dear 
mother does, and she thinks of you very much as I do 
are you at all aware of that ? My sweet, loving little 
Mary comes and kisses me constantly, and looks peering 
into my eyes as though she saw some new image there. 
Whose is it, say whose is it ? But the other benighted 
mortals have never seen you. I from my upper chamber 
shrug my shoulders compassionately, and ' I write ' yes, 
just what I choose I am not to be daunted. . . . How 
I delight in knowing where you walk and what you do. 
I could not follow you up Helvellyn. My twenty-year-ago 
memory of it is very dim. But I can follow you up Glen 
Coyn, and to that consecrated knoll. As we stood to- 
gether there the sky grew bluer, the air softer, the very 
sun shone brighter through the greener leaves. I must 
go down to prayers. All my prayer is : ' Father, bless 
him teach him guide him make my love a bless- 
ing.' ' (This prayer I dare to believe was fulfilled.) 

After his answering letter, the next two are very sad 
at Keswick he had felt " every one standing aloof." The 
clergyman had met him in the library, and had com- 
mented in pastor-like strain, but " very courteously," on 
the " shortcomings " of " Thorndale." How gently he 
treated of this , just in these words ! " Is it not rather 
weak for such a man not to see that I do not belong to his 
camp ? that I am camped out there, not hostilely but 


separately, digging out our entrenchments I and oth- 
ers as well as we can, on the common earth, under 
the common sky." Then there were discomforts noisy 
fellow-lodgers. " It is hard," he says, " to be alone, and 
not to have quiet ! * Do I ever wish you were here ? ' 
Does any evening pass without the wish ? I do not think 
your experience can give you any just idea of what these 
long solitary evenings sometimes are to me." 

Who can wonder that the sadness, the solitude, that 
breathe from these letters made me plead the more earnestly 
for our meeting again ? [In a previous letter, she had hinted 
at " a hope the most reasonable, sober-minded, common- 
sensible hope in the world that he should spend some 
winter weeks in Edinburgh."] I had seen him for six weeks 
radiantly joyous ; he had told me he " had never spent so 
happy a summer," " never met a nature that he liked so 
well as mine." The next letter, of the tenth of October, 
was still sadder than its predecessor. Here are the words 
that wrung my heart : " I would write a cheerful and in- 
spiring letter if I could, but the long, lonely, gloomy days 
pass one after the other, and if I can contrive to keep my 
mind so far occupied as not to sink into any quite morbid 
condition, it is all I can manage. Day after day, month after 
month, year after year, has passed of this gloomy uncom- 
panioned life. Can you wonder that there is little energy 
left in the man ? little capability of hope or of enterprise ? 
that he sits down in despondency and says, ' What has been 
must be, and it will be all over soon ! ' I am glad to 
have my answer to this before me now. I tried to cheer, 
I did cheer, for the next letter was brighter far, though it 
says : " I think all day at intervals of your letters, and 
lie awake half the night thinking of them. I have had 
many indecisions, battles with myself, what to do or what 
I ought to do but few indecisions have given me more 
anxiety and concern than this about the journey to Edin- 
burgh. . . . Such terms as pleasurable visit and the like, 


although I might use them, are not applicable. Oh, you 
were quite right when you say we were en rapport, and 
we are so still." Then follow life-giving words ! How well 
I remember walking that, day up a very steep hill in the 
strength they lent. For I wanted nothing but his love, 
and sometimes his presence for the sake of both. I must 
have written back in cheerful strain, and given an account 
of visits, people (but of that long letter he only kept 
the postscript ! He too cared most to be told what he 
knew*). Yet in this letter too there are sad hints. " Oh, 
you little know what a person like me, with my simple 
habits, means when he talks of that 4 Shadow feared of 
men ! ' : Then comes, in letter after letter, in one form 
or another, the haunting question, " What right have I? " 
At one time he even tells me he has been tempted to send 
" arithmetical figures." But I could not surrender my 
hope. All the letters contained touches of sadness : ." I 
see no one speak to no one. I often think one word or 
two of exhilarating conversation would give me some en- 
ergy and spirit. I am sallow as a ghost." And I knew 
that I could at least ward off gloom from the present, and 
I could have bartered for that all my future ! I do not 
speak of my own yearning for his voice, his smile. Per- 
sonal feeling might have been sometimes piqued by his 
irresolution, which I could not then so fully understand. 
Now I see of course what it was that made the debate. 
He thought me many years younger than I was, thought 
too that the " heart and faith union " was imperatively 
necessary to my happiness. I only love him the more for 
every scruple that tortured me then ! On the second of 
December, one of my life's intensest joys was bestowed. 
I had heard that he was coming. I had found rooms for 
him. But late that night, walking back with Mary from 
Mrs. Jones's, I saw the light in his window ! 


(From the Memoir.) 

In the winter he came to Edinburgh for some weeks 
came after much irresolution, and with many scruples, 
such as will easily be imagined in a nature so fastidiously 
honorable, so purely unselfish as his. On my part there 
were no scruples. In heart and soul, through life to 
death, I knew that I was his. Poverty might indeed pre- 
clude much, but that nothing could alter, and to be the 
chosen and the dearest friend of such a one as he seemed 
to me, and, what is more remarkable, seemed to my most 
fond and partial mother, a high if not altogether a happy 
destiny. I may here quote a passage from a review by 
him of Gray's Letters (written four years before the time 
I am speaking of), because it was verified in the life of 
both of us : " How grossly do we err, indeed, when we 
think that youth is the especial or exclusive season of 
friendship, or even of love ! In the experience of many 
it has been found that the want of the heart, the thirst 
for affection, has been felt far more in manhood than in 
early years." 

The six weeks spent in Edinburgh were for him social, 
cheerful weeks. For the first time I saw him in society. 
In a gathering of strangers he would often sit silent ; and 
I noticed, with some amusement, how any complimentary 
allusion to his book would embarrass him, and make him 
look round for a way of escape. Perhaps this may have 
led to his being called a shy man. I never thought the 
epithet descriptive. He chose to retire, was more swift 
to hear than to speak, preferred learning from others to 
setting them right, and was very sensitive of social atmos- 
phere. But when that atmosphere was congenial, he was 
more completely frank, and more invariably elicited frank- 
ness from others than sufferers from shyness can. 1 Dur- 

1 I recollect Dr. Robert Chambers, at whose house William once 
dined, observing to me, after some htlmorous lamentations about the 


ing his stay in Edinburgh we were of course much to- 
gether, and my dear father now learned in a measure to 
know him. I say " in a measure," for he, alas ! was 
blind, and could not see the animated face, the smile 
which was as it were the key to the whole man ; so that to 
those who never saw it I despair of conveying the secret 
of his personal influence. 

(From the Manuscript.) 

What bright days those winter ones were ! made up of 
meetings. In the morning, always the walk, the talk, un- 
fettered and careless as though still in the country he 
a singular figure, in a very old-fashioned military cloak ; 
I seeing and caring for none but him, and carrying his 
frugal luncheon, biscuits and candied apricots, which he 
would eat in some quiet street or terrace. Then the 
evening ! Sometimes, but seldom, he dined out, at Mr. 
Blackwood's. Sometimes we spent some hours together 
at Mr. Constable's or Mrs. Stirling's, but if so we returned 
to our own cheery home to talk it all over, and have a 
supplementary supper. Generally, however, he came for 
the whole evening read to us, Dickens, Shakespeare, 
Philip Van Artevelde. Then the happy hours of perfect 
companionship ! I saw new phases of his character, too. 
I saw him in society, so shrinking from praise, so expand- 
ing to cordiality, so sparkling in conversation with some, 
so simple and real with all. Every one took to him, felt 
his charm and his rarity. On December thirty-first I 
note in my pocket-book : " He sat here till one. God 
bless him ! This year ended very happily." . . . Those 
remembered fire-lights lighting up the green walls and 
red curtains of what he called " a charming room " 
lighting up his slight figure and thoughtful brow, from 

universality of the name of Smith, that he had " never seen a man 
whom he could so soon love." Dr. Chambers could not have sus- 
pected the interest I felt in hearing him say so. 


which in those hours of intense feeling every furrow was 
smoothed away I at his feet it was my joy to sit 
there. Oh, only Love ! I cannot bear, except in flashes, 
to recall those hours ! 

[They parted early in the new year, " under the stars 

both very sad," and he went to Brighton.] . . . 
Writing toward the end of February, he touches upon 
"Mill's last book on Liberty " (sent him by the author, 
which he did not say) : " You would really like to look 
into it, if only for the tender and eulogistic mention that 
he makes, at the commencement, of his late wife. He, 
the philosopher par excellence, attributes all that is best 
in his own writings to her influence. The book itself is 
not dry many parts are eloquent. You will not agree 
with it entirely, and I too have my reservations, but there 
are some profound truths powerfully stated. More es- 
pecially was I delighted to see him bring forward the 
value of the energy the spontaneous, God-given energy 

of the individual man. In one point of view, this 
seems a mere truism, yet it is a truism, as he himself says, 
which one hardly ever sees recognized in its full mean- 
ing." I suppose that I had thought general subjects had 
occupied too large a space in these last letters that my 
heart cried out for personal matter that, remembering 
spoken words, I had quarrelled with the reticence of the 
pen for he begins the next : " You very dear one, 
what can I say or do ? I could find it in my heart to 
cover this paper with expressions of affection very 
honest, true, humble, genuine, and devotional ! And yet 
the next moment, I must hold up the threadbare cloak 
of the poor philosopher, and shake it at you. I must! 
Not that I have a perverse attachment to threadbare 
cloaks, or any threadbare mode of existence. I quite 
agree with the writer in this month's ' Blackwood,' that 
there is no virtue in emulating the scarecrow but you 
might as well object to the scarecrow himself as to some 


of us. Such sticks were never designed, in the nature 
of things, to face the world in any but a scarecrow 
fashion. The poor philosopher, and his brother who 
stands there in the centre of the field, cannot possibly 
help themselves." How this strain must have called out 
all the passion of my reverence and love, my own heart 
would tell me, even if I did not find it in his next letter. 

... In another letter, he humorously lauds the little 
shilling photograph he had given me, while he deprecates 
my insistence on his sending me his bust, which then I 
had only heard of, not seen, but which was acknowledged 
to be mine. He pleads : " Bear me witness every stone 
in Princes Street ! I did constantly protest against any 
project of transporting it to Edinburgh. . . Besides it is 
a cheat now, for it was done many years ago when I was 
young ' ah, woeful when ! ' The photograph is so much 
better, and I do think that was such a lucky specimen. 
It seems to me that the sun must have smiled on me that 
day, and purposely flattered me giving me a certain 
air of respectability, which I am conscious that the orig- 
inal does not possess. If had seen this instead of 

the man himself, he would not have said, 'Just such 
a fellow as one would take for a sceptic.' But he would 
have said, ' Ha, now ! That is a respectable country 
gentleman, who however you see has not been alto- 
gether idle with his brain respectable and intelligent.' 
Oh, keep to that photograph ! " The next letter is a little 
sad. Of " Thorndale " he says : " It 's sinking down 
into the Eternal Silences. Best perhaps that it should 
be so. What one has to do is to read on, and think 
on, and try to get a firmer grasp on certain matters." 
At this time he was " studying St. Paul with the assist- 
ance of Jowett," and re-reading Maurice's "Theolog- 
ical Essays." He writes : " My impression is that no 
modern divine whom I have ever heard or read gives so 
faithful an interpretation of the leading ideas of St. Paul. 


Did you ever read this volume ? Maurice is talked of gen- 
erally as if he were a denier he is viewed only as an op- 
ponent to certain orthodox notions but he is in fact what 
people for want of a better word call a mystic." In the 
course of a few days he sent me the " Theological Essays," 
putting the L. C. C. and the date in the book. He says 
of the Essays : " They at all events can do only good. 
They raise the standard of piety and of morals, while they 
liberate from some of the harsher dogmas*" The book 
stands there before me now. Oh, my good angel from 
first to last, so gently wise, letting in light so softly upon 
the poor eyes that dreaded it, you would have forgiven 
me for loving better than the highest teaching these simple 
words in the same letter : " How could you think of ask- 
ing such a question as whether the books quite drive out 
all thoughts of you ? Why, I can read nothing as I ought 
to read it, for thinking of you. No book lays hold of my 
attention half firmly enough. Even such peace as poor 
despondent men attain to, and seem entitled to, has not 
been mine of late." 

For me he had excellent advice. During this spring, 
as before and after, I was trying by humble pen-work 
translation, notices, or epitomes of books to eke out my 
own very small family income, and I feared one of these 
resources was about to fail. He wrote : " Think and read, 
and beautiful things will grow up under that so ' femi- 
nine brow ; ' under that pleasant archway fair trains of 
imagery will be passing. Possess your thoughts in peace 
let your mind develop itself free as the white cloud 
that has half the sky to itself." 

(From the Memoir.) 

We could not now consent to long separations ; the 
summers we might at least contrive to spend together, 
and therefore, breaking through the habit of years, Wil- 
liam Smith forsook his dear Lake country, and in the 


May of 1859 we met at Dunkeld. During this summer a 
fervent protest of his against the explanation given by 
Dr. Mansel of " The Limits of Religious Thought " ap- 
peared in " Blackwood's Magazine," a and he was occupied 
in writing a review of Sir William Hamilton's " Lectures 
on Metaphysics." Our talks now more frequently took 
an abstract character. He would lead me into his own 
favorite sphere of philosophical thought, and, untrained 
as my mind was, any receptivity it had lay in that direc- 
tion. On other points, too, I could not but be insensibly 
modified by his companionship. 

1 " The true reality, we repeat, for each one of us lies in those di- 
vine attributes manifested in the very nature of the world and of 
humanity, and from which we necessarily infer the Divine Being, and 
not in the scholastics' notions of the Absolute and the Infinite." 



(From the Manuscript.) 

ON the twelfth of May, 1859, the entry in the pocket- 
book is in his handwriting. " Mr. Smith arrived by the 
11.12 train. We walked by the river were out three 
hours. He came in the evening at six. We walked be- 
yond Inver. I went to see his room at Mrs. Christie's. 
Mr. S. returned with me." One flash of his light-hearted- 
ness that morning I remember. I had been reading 
"Thorndale," and said something about it to which he 
replied by a delicious anachronism : " Oh, dear, it 's your 
book! " I see his very smile in saying this, as we turned 
into the broad grass walk that then led from Birnam 
past the great trees sole relics of the ancient woods 
along the deep rapid flow of the Tay. 

And now it is difficult to know how much to tell of the 
next four months. I have only the records in my pocket- 
book, and the fond memories too sacred for utterance. I 
was busily occupied just then in translating, compiling, 
etc., and he was ever ready to help in his own incompa- 
rable way so simply and spontaneously and as it were 
unconsciously, that help from him was pure help, could 
never become obligation, could never weigh on memory. 

The entries in my journal, however, are seldom unquali- 
fiedly cheerful. They are full of extremes morning 
walks all brightness and present joy, but evenings that 
closed in all gloomy and gray, and told upon the sensitive 
organism of my " sun spirit, " as I sometimes called him ; 


evenings when the future seemed all isolation and failure ; 
or else mornings when the talk would run into painful 
channels, let it begin ever so abstractedly, but evenings of 
intense, silent joy, that left their deep traces in the con- 
sciousness of both. 

. . . We did not much vary our walks at Dunkeld, any 
more than at Patterdale. The summer was a fine one, we 
sat out much, and almost always had a book with us, 
though I think it was less and less read. There was 
no subject on which he did not talk to me, however 
unfamiliar to my ignorance. And all his depression, his 
sad anticipation, his discouragement, he shared with me 
more and more unreservedly. . . . He brought me Ten- 
nyson's " Idylls of the King ; " and oh, how beautiful they 
were when read by him those who heard them often in af- 
ter years will never forget. So the summer glided by. It 
had brought us nearer, but no ray of further hope ap- 
peared. Indeed, when I think of our circumstances as they 
were then, I cannot well imagine anything more discour- 
aging. And yet, a new phrase became current toward 
the end of our mutual life, " There is no saying what may 
happen," and to both it meant not only possible future 
meetings, but what was confessedly, demonstrably, the 
impossible ! Good-by, then, my sweet memories of Dun- 
keld of our long rests, half buried in heather and ferns, 
watching the waving of the well-loved birches on the com- 
mon, watching the great clouds above the Grampians, 
watching once the delicious gambols of a large family of 
white goats, who had no suspicion of our presence 1 
watching always, dearer and more important to me than 
all earth and sky, the least change that passed over his 
face, least shadow overcasting the radiant smile, least hint 
of sadness in the dark, far-gazing eyes. On the sixteenth 
of September we had our last walk he went with us to 
the station, but I would not let him stay till the train 
moved. I saw him off and the joy that had been, 

UNITED. 249 

words he had said, and the intimate sense that nothing 
could sever our hearts and minds, supported me ; so that 
only on the following day the already familiar anguish 
fastened on me the want of everything. . . . 

[Soon afterward, he had a slight illness at Keswick. 
The letters soon told of health improving, but the spirits 
flagged.] " Yes, yes you know that you hold a place in 
my mind and affections that no one else holds, and that 
no one will ever hold again. But you know also what 
manner of man it is who says this, and from what sort of 
hopeless environment he says it. This illness would be 
enough to humble me if I wanted such a lesson. Weak, 
weak body and mind, body and mind. ' Too late, too 
late ! Ye cannot enter now ! ' I will not let hope get 
into my mind, but will just fold my old cloak round me, 
and walk as quietly and cheerfully as I can down this 
long lane that has no turning" And then he plunges 
into other subjects my translations, tales, and the rest, 
which he revised for me ; financial matters concerning me ; 
my health, etc. I was not well at this time ; had sudden 
attacks, of no significance as the sequel proved, but I am 
sure they helped me. To die seemed sweeter than to live 
on without him, and if I died I could be of some little use. 
Accordingly I made my will, and supported my spirits 
somewhat thereby! 

[A passing visit was made by Lucy and her mother at 
Keswick, which yielded a happy fortnight.] But though 
I tell in my pocket-book of " happiest hours nature 
and him," there were some sad hours in which I strove 
against his firm resolve against spending the winter in 
Edinburgh. That he would not do not, he said, from 
want of affection ; he loved me " quite enough, too much ; " 
but for reasons that he did not then give. I think the 
horror of the observation he would excite, the sense of ut- 
ter hopelessness, making all comment upon the situation 
painful, had a good deal to do with it. Yet it was hard 


for the hope to quite die in my heart. A singular little 
incident comes in here. I had changed a ten-pound note 
on the morning of our departure, and after paying our 
little weekly bill put the purse into my pocket. It was a 
very wet day. At the coach office, settling myself in the 
wretched vehicle and looking for my purse in order to pay 
the fare, I discovered that the pocket was empty. Kind 
Miss Buchan, who was " seeing us off," at once rushed 
back to our lodging to see whether peradventure it had 
been left there, and, passing Mr. Smith in a sheltering 
doorway, " ready to take off his wide-awake in the most 
graceful manner he could " when the coach should pass, 
she told him of the disaster. Instantly he was with us, 
and the contents of his purse poured into my mother's lap 
no counting, scarce any knowing what he did. A little 
thing, and yet done in a way his way which my dear 
mother, herself the most generous of women, pronounced 
special and never to be forgotten. How earnest the dark 
eyes were ! " Was there enough ? " " Oh, too much, too 
much ! " And the coach rolled away. The loss was in- 
explicable, for we had met no one in the deluged streets. 
The crier was sent out at once to " cry the purse," and on 
the Monday following he wrote a few hurried lines to say 
he had heard something of a purse found he was " so 
distressed to think of the pretty story " I had earned 
that ten pounds " going that way." The end of it was 
that he, the most truthful human being I ever knew, de- 
liberately concocted a tale which entirely took me in; 
which never wakened in my mother or myself an instant's 
surprise ; which was cleverly circumstantial, freeing from 
suspicion the one around whom my suspicion had flitted ; 
involving no one but some unknown girl in the fault of 
having found and kept the money and done away with the 
purse as a precautionary measure. It was a great relief 
to me at the time to recover that little sum, and only when 
we were married, when I could not repay him, did the 

UNITED. 251 

real truth transpire ! Oh, I like to think how brightly 
he must have smiled to himself over the success of his 
ruse ! 

After these matters of finance, repayment, transmission 
of the supposed balance, had been got through, he sits 
down a week after our departure to write " a very long 
letter," after a "dreary, solitary day and no particular 
task in hand." Most of this letter consists of sympathiz- 
ing comment upon my family perplexities, which rather 
overwhelmed me just then. (I thankfully acknowledge 
they were not too great. How they enhanced but that 
did not need enhancing how they taught me to measure, 
to realize, the bliss of the after years !) He says : " Ah 
me ! what a multitude of things the dear head has to think 
of ! I don't know whether to congratulate you or not on 
being so indispensable. Who could take your place ? 
Yet it is hard that the dear bird, like a bird carved in 
stone, should be fixed and prisoned because it is the key- 
stone of the arch. To be of no use to any one or of 
too much use 4 1 know not which is better, no, not I,' or 
rather which is worse." 

. . . [He withstood the proposed Edinburgh visit.] 
He wrote : " All I know is that I for my own part feel 
my heart going out toward a certain impossibility, and 
that cannot be wise that is a sort of insanity. I don't 
want to be insane I want to keep my head must have 
a little use and possession of this bit of brain it is all 
I have for occupation or for pleasure." 

Again he says : " Be generous, and do not use all your 
power." But I suffered, and I fear I was not generous 
in hiding it. He writes : " I have such a heart of lead ! 
I cannot attempt to describe the pain which your pain 
gives me and I have my own too. Indeed it will be 
with a very sad heart that I shall bend next week toward 
Brighton. I feel something of the same strange pang 
that I had in parting with you at Edinburgh. I am not 


wood and stone and I know that if a little sunshine of 
a vulgar prosperity that you often despise had fallen upon 
me the heart also would have been free to open." It was 
decided, then ! He says : " I seem to myself to have de- 
cided rightly, but how wretched I have been while adher- 
ing to this decision it would be vain and useless and 
worse than useless to say." He owns that " these long 
evenings are very trying, but I have been accustomed 
through many years to live with almost no pleasure ex- 
cept what a book and a walk can supply." He says too : 
" You have wrought a revolution in my tastes. I used to 
say ' Society between the four walls of a house, but my 
walks alone,' and now I have learnt to like my walk with 
another with one other." 

[Two months later, a visit of hers with her dear friend 
Mrs. Ruck in London allowed some happy days together, 
and the- opportunity of meeting in Brighton his beloved 
nieces and their mother.] Mrs. Ruck and he were in- 
stantly at home with each other related natures. He 
felt the full charm of her " frank and cordial reception," 
" did not feel himself a perfect stranger in her house for 
one moment." At this time he went out pretty frequently 
in an evening, and his letters contain many bright de- 
scriptive touches sketches in half a dozen words. " I 

have been spending an hour at . I found the rooms 

full, and chiefly with strangers. A certain social ambi- 
tion naturally accompanies the larger drawing-room. I 
was not sorry to come away. No, indeed, I never fled 
from society. I like society dearly, but it is after my own 
fashion. Hot and crowded rooms I most certainly should 
avoid, whatever entree I might have to them. As you 
know, I live only on the crumbs of society, just pick up 
a grain or two of such pleasure, like some strange fowl 
who is not recognized as altogether belonging to the poul- 
try-yard." ... In another letter he writes : " You see 
I do not fable when I tell you that ' Thorndale ' has had its 

UNITED. 253 

little day. . . . Indeed I am not morbid; I would be 
hopeful if I could. I sometimes try very hard to be hope- 
ful, for such happy dreams would follow. You have told 
me I might dream at least." 

The third of May, 1860, found him and me and my 
dear mother comfortably installed as joint tenants, for 
five months, of Mount Hazel, a farmhouse in Carnar- 
vonshire, not far from the coast. On the most exquisite 
May-day imaginable, my beloved mother and I, having 
slept at Carlisle the night before, left it at ten, and reached 
Mount Hazel at eleven at night. This long day of travel- 
ling remains in my mind as one of the happiest I have 
known a very rapture of anticipation. On our arrival, 
there was a certain reaction the house looked dreary 
would he like it ? The next day was spent in arranging 
the rooms. The next, the third of May, there was a let- 
ter to him, a line from him he would arrive in the even- 
ing. I went out in the afternon to gather primroses. I 
met him unexpectedly. I saw the dear face flush crimson. 
For me, I read in my pocket-book : " A life's joy in a 

. . . Dunkeld had been a great advance upon Patter- 
dale, because the evenings were always spent together. 
But Mount Hazel improved upon Dunkeld we were in 
the same house, and he dined with us ! That made the 
little meal a significant festival. The day's routine was 
this : He breakfasted alone ; he wrote or read till eleven 
or twelve, then came for me and the morning walk. We 
dined at three (his hour) ; then he returned to his own 
room and had his early tea ; then the second walk, but 
not always; I sometimes went out with my precious 
mother. Then supper, chess, and, when my mother 
feigned to be sleepy and went early to bed, our own 
hour ! 

Then but I only know it years later I was allowed 
to win at chess always one game. I used to wonder at my 


own skill, he fought so skilfully up to defeat ! He saw 
that I was childish enough to like winning a well-con- 
tested game, and he liked giving it me. . . . One of our 
pleasures consisted in standing long by walls with broad 
grassy top, confining our attention to a space about a foot 
square, and showing each other all each discovered. No 
recollection of him is more vivid than this. Short-sighted 
as he was, the little details generally escaped him, but 
these walls were conveniently high. Oh, I see the grace- 
ful, slight figure ; the delicate hand gently, tenderly, ex- 
ploring the grass and leaves ; the brown eyes lit with 
pleasure at the discovery of some small fly with rainbow 
tints in its tiny wings, some burnished beetle, some very 
long-legged spider with seven-league boots striding over 
our area and away! What wonders we discovered in 
familiar things ! He loved and reverenced all life. These 
were our compensations on dull days, under the umbrella, 
but a bright morning always tempted us down to the 

On the thirteenth, he met me coming back from morn- 
ing service, and we sat long on a stone, and he told me 
all I had so long wished to know of the early romance a 
poet's life must have held. I cannot remember what led 
to his doing so, except that he liked me " to look him 
through and through." How I cried, from most complex 
feelings ! He told it all very simply, as he had done in a 
paper of his called " Wild Oats," published in " Black- 
wood " in 1840. There was therefore an interval of more 
than twenty years between that " miserable fortnight " 
and the bright day when we sat together but how my 
tears flowed ! 

An incident which caused me some unexpressed regret 
was his refusing an offer of Mr. Blackwood's, which 
would have been advantageous in one sense. Mr. Black- 
wood wished him to undertake the translation of IVJonta- 
lembert's " Monks of the West." There were to be six 

UNITED. 255 

volumes, and sixty pounds was offered for each volume. 
But ho could not entertain the idea. He needed the time 
for his own thinking even more than his own writing, and 
he felt that there would have been a " certain insincerity 
involved " his standpoint and the author's differing so 

(From the Memoir.) 

For some months past William's mind had been oc- 
cupied with the idea of another book, and on one of these 
May-days I was called into his study to listen to the in- 
troductory chapter of " Gravenhurst." But although he 
only wrote two short papers for the magazine, the book did 
not get on very fast during the happy times spent, first 
at Mount Hazel, and then at Llanberis. Our mountain 
walks were so long, and we were so much together. Noth- 
ing, indeed, was materially changed in our outward posi- 
tion, but obstacles weighed less upon our spirits than they 
had done at Dunkeld ; we succeeded better, at all events, 
in pushing them out of sight ; and the nearly five months 
of constant companionship had brought about a still more 
complete sympathy. For under his influence I could not 
but grow a little wiser and worthier. Parting was a 
great pain, but this time I think he felt it even more 
than I. 

(From the Manuscript.) 

I find in my pocket-book that toward the end of my 
stay he " talked of ways and means." But the entries are 
very meagre, and monotonously happy, " So happy ! " 
My precious, perfect mother, enhanced every joy by 
her sharing. I was not very robust, and certainly 
overwalked myself that summer. I well remember his 
anxiety about it, but the spell of the mountains was too 
strong. Dear Mount Eileo, our favorite hill, so green, 
so cheerful with its view of the Straits ; dear spurs of 
Snowdon, whence we looked down on the Pass ! Dear 
country walks, that I have taken alone, remembering ! 


I was busy at Llanberis, as I had been at Mount Hazel ; 
translating Victor Hugo's possible poems in the Legendes 
given me by Mr. Smith, summarizing, writing tales ; 
making little indeed, but still the small sums were cheer- 
ing. He wrote some of the conversations in " Graven- 
hurst," but he was not absorbed in work. I used to pre- 
sent myself at his window before breakfast, with a few 
raspberries or a flower, and often in the afternoon I 
walked with him up and down his long and rather dark 
room. He was always cheerful, radiant, except indeed 
when the parting came. This time I was happy even 
on that day ! the twenty-fifth of September. I felt that 
our hearts and minds were more inextricably interwoven 
than ever. 

I have been reading over letters to Mary written dur- 
ing these months, and they are full of loving details. I 
tell her when the end of that happiness had nearly come : 
" I have been living in such a pure, high moral atmos- 
phere ! Never a personal topic, never anything censori- 
ous or small, never a cloud of temper, a touch of selfish- 
ness. Italian politics have interested us a good deal, of 
course. It is delightful to talk over the paper with him 
he is so enthusiastic as well as wise. I think I shall 
have nothing at all to say to people in general ! They 
will seem so narrow, so intolerant, so very little ! His is 
a delightful wholesale way of dealing with such questions. 
... The parting will be terrible to ine, and he too will 
feel it, but I thank God I know such a man, and I am 
sure that nothing but death will ever break the tie be- 
tween us." It was this certainty that upheld me. His 
letter, written the evening of the day we parted, ends, 
64 You wished to be missed, you said but you would not 
wish to be so much missed as you are." Oh, I too was 
waking to the anguish of the parted life which always 
got worse and worse. 

[One of the friends who had visited Mrs. Gumming and 

UNITED. 257 

her daughter at Mount Hazel, "beautiful Eugenie 

W ," was soon to have a visit from Lucy at her home, 

Bronywendon, and invited Mr. Smith to come also ; and 
this invitation he after some hesitation accepted.] On 
the fourth of October we walked by the shore to Col- 
wyn, and I showed him the caves, haunts of my child- 
hood, of which two years before he had written : " Yes ! 
To visit with you those caves you used to sit in when a 
child, taking your Bible to read in there all alone that 
would be very pleasant, more than pleasant." It was 
more than pleasant! We were both in highest spirits, 
and had come to talking somewhat less vaguely of the 
future. The phrase that had sprung up at Dunkeld, 
" There is no saying what may happen," had by this time 
expanded into a dream of Switzerland seen together. It 
seemed, among other impossibilities, impossible that I 
should leave my parents entirely but how if the sum- 
mers were his and mine ? Something if not of impos- 
sibility of extreme difficulty was arraying itself against 
any repetition of the last three summers. Comment, op- 
position, had begun would grow. What was to be 
done ? As he wrote a few weeks later, " I cannot be 
given up cannot have no more happy summers." But 
just now we were together, and I can only recall one touch 
of sadness on the shore one Saturday afternoon when 
the sun got low and he spoke of his far past, of certain in- 
congruities between his calling and his tendencies, of his 
loneliness of thought even among his kindred. Sunday 
was a blessed day of rambling on breezy downs, the shin- 
ing sea below it was all present enjoyment a pres- 
ent so bright it seemed to include and ensure the future. 
On Monday morning there was a long stroll in the shrub- 
bery, a parting at the Abergele station that had no sad- 
ness at least outwardly, and he travelled on to Bath, and 
I left our sweet and sympathizing hostess and returned to 


. . . During our days at Bronywendon a book to be 
translated came to me, Madame de Gasparin's " Near and 
Heavenly Horizons," and it soon appeared that this book 
was wanted speedily alarmingly so to me, whose life at 
Garthewin had social interruptions. Ah, how joyously, 
beloved, you came to the rescue ! " Tell me if you think 
I can help. Will the hard words be too many for me ? 
Will you have as much trouble in looking over and re- 
copying my translation as doing it yourself ? " Looking 
over! But to his simple unconsciousness that did not 
seem preposterous as it was. Indeed, I had cause to be 
grateful for his proffered assistance, for as his next letter 
shows the task was too heavy. " What you tell me about 
your eyesight and the pain across the forehead quite 
alarms me. What are all the translations in the world, 
and all that ever came of them, to your own precious 
eyes and precious brain. . . . Yesterday I found my old 
friend Mrs. Haughton (formerly Julia Day) here, and 
we talked about various things, and I told how very hap- 
pily my last two summers had passed away, owing to the 
society of a dear friend ; and of course she asked the name 
and many other questions; and I answered all very 
frankly, and honestly confessed that if and if in truth 
I disguised nothing that had reference to my own feel- 
ings. . . . As we used to say, ' Who knows what may 
happen ! ' I wish I had more of hope in my composition 
but nothing in my life has educated hope. There 
have been no successes only respectable failures." 

He got to Brighton Saturday evening, instantly set 
about the book, translated " The Hegelian," and on Mon- 
day morning despatched it to the " dear collaborates," 
and wrote in the evening : " Certainly I ought to assist, 
for is it not our journey it is to help pay for ? " Hence- 
forth the bright dancing letters were very full of this joint 
work which part he was to undertake, which I. Two 
of the tales were translated by him, " The Hegelian " and 

UNITED. 259 

" The Sculptor," and a good deal of the first part of the 
" Heavenly Horizons." Never was he brighter and more 
endearing than when helping, and these dear letters are 
full too of valuable literary suggestion, thrown out with 
his own light, lightest touch. The happy task over, other 
subjects came up. Whether it were Switzerland or Pat- 
terdale, must there not be before our journey a " prelim- 
inary quarter of an hour ? " And then ? Indeed all was 
so vague that looking back I marvel that we dreamed so 
boldly. I was much encouraged, however, by the prospect 
of a little work. Our " Horizons " won us twenty-five 
pounds a little trumpery story of mine was ordered, 1 
and that was to bring in sixty pounds. '* Bravo for the 
sixty pounds ! " he exclaims though he exhorts me not 
to write merely for money a thing he never could have 
done. To me the temptation to try lay solely there ! 

. . . There are still and no wonder touches in the 
dear letters, half playful, half sad. He was at what he 
called " spider's work," about Causation and the like, and 
there were misgivings as to " what sort of a companion is 
one who has long indulged in his own thoughts worth- 
less things, but they have grown as necessary to him as 
wine or tobacco to other men. A poor old weaver, whose 
web is not even made to sell ! I cannot think what is to 
be made of him. If we could put him in a corner of our 
palace, that might be well. If not are we to go into his 
little shed ? Seems impossible, and we a natural prin- 
cess. The weaver would be rich enough but we ? " 
Then my life sounded so social : " All my difficulty lies 
in the impossibility there seems of monopolizing such a 
bird.'* For him, speaking of a singularly successful and 
social career, he says : " A bright life, that I can very 
well understand, yet understanding it well, and perhaps 
not quite incapable of enjoying it, I should infinitely 
prefer the life of Mount Hazel." 

1 " Memoirs of an Unknown Life." It appeared in Good Words. 


I have given several extracts from the twenty-six let- 
ters that came between the ninth of October and the four- 
teenth of December. That day put an end to all anxie- 
ties, misgivings, scruples. Oh, how can there be pessi- 
mists in a world that holds such joy as mine, that winter 
morning ! Ah, dear bundle before me as I write fifty 
letters, in not one of which is there one sad note all 
serene hope, tender, unutterably precious, confident affec- 
tion, not from one of these shall an extract be made. 
Sweet letters that I shall burn some day, when the 
parted years are nearly over there are one or two of you 
I will lay apart, and my dead hand shall be folded over 
them in unutterable thankfulness. 

The weeks sped away very busily. I had a beloved 
friend who was in sorrow I saw very much of her. Late 
in the evening my Mary would bring me a strong cup of 
coffee, and I would get on with my story, which was just 
what might have been expected, hasty and trivial, though 
he said not wholly lacking in spirit. It brought in the 
promised sixty pounds, however, in the course of the 

{From the Memoir.) 

I will give two grave passages from the pile of joyous 
letters between the 14th of December and our marriage : 

" And so my dear bird was a little serious, a little sad. 
We should both be very shallow people if we were not a 
little serious. I make very serious vows to myself. I do 
hope that you shall never have cause for any other sadness 
than what comes inevitably to us all. I will 4 love her, 
comfort her, and honour her.' I should often repeat to 
myself those lines 

' No more companionless 
Although he trod the path of high intent,' 

if I did not feel that there was a certain presumption in 
my talking of ' the path of high intent.' Yet, although 
with little success, and very little power, I have always 

UNITED. 261 

put before myself a high aim in my studies and my writ- 
ings. And I should like to die still striving, though I get 
no higher than to strive." 

And this, in answer to words of mine disclaiming any 
presumptuous wish to change " the nature of my thinker's 
thoughts : " 

" Since I wrote, another letter came from Edinburgh, 
for which I ought to thank you still more. It gave me 
reassurance that my dear bird and I shall always be en 


' I could not love thee, dear, so much, 
Loved I not honour more/ 

so runs some knightly rhyme. I, who am no knight, must 
substitute the word truth for honour, though it mars the 


{From the Manuscript.) 

On the eleventh of February I left Edinburgh and my 
most kind and partial parents left them laden with their 
blessings and travelled through the night to my Blanche's 
home [Mrs. Budworth] . On the sixteenth I reached that 
of the precious friend from whose house I was to be mar- 
ried. [Mrs. Ruck " the one, perhaps," says the Memoir, 
" to whose noble and tender nature the kindred nature of 
my husband most fully responded."] That evening he 
came. On the evening of the fourth of March, many of 
my early friends gathered round me, all welcomed by my 
sweet hostess. I will give a few extracts from letters of 
theirs written to my mother on the following day. True, 
it is mostly of me that they speak, but I was his, I like 
that kind words should have been spoken of his wife. 

Mrs. Ruck bears her testimony to the ease and pleas- 
antness of the gathering. " Mr. Smith went through every 
trying scene with the utmost cheerfulness, even the inspec- 
tion of the many friends. I don't even think he would 
have shrunk from a wedding breakfast, speeches and all. 
. . . Colonel Yorke told me that he had seen much of the 


world, and considered that he had himself many attached 
friends, but that nothing he had ever seen equalled the 
cordial love of Lucy and her friends." 

Mrs. Cotton says : "I found Mr. Smith so kindly dis- 
posed to become friends at once that we talked and 
laughed together as if we had known each other for years. 
His genial cordiality surprised me, for I expected to find 
him a shy recluse, instead of which he responded to all 
our nonsense, and seated himself amongst each knot of 
old friends as if he could not hear enough of what we were 

My Blanche my sister for years writes: "Surely 
a bride never entered the new life more wrapped in the 
affection of loving friends. It has been such a happy time 
for us all ! ... The darling had such a radiant look of 
happiness and confidence in her dear face. Mr. Smith 
might well look worshipping, and I do from my heart 
believe that he will make her very happy as it seems such 
a large, kindly nature. There is something about him 
that inspires confidence at once. When I had been talk- 
ing half an hour, I wanted to tell him the history of my 

The same loving band stood round us on the following 
morning. At St. John's Church, Netting Hill, on Tues- 
day, the fifth of March, 1861, we were married. (End of 
the Manuscript.) 

(From the Memoir.) 

We spent some weeks at Hastings and at Brighton ; 
then settled ourselves for the summer at Tent Cottage 
(near Coniston) a green nest, with tall trees round, that 
my beloved mother shared with us. There are words of 
my husband's that often recur to my mind : 

"It takes so little to make Earth a Heaven." 
Of worldly goods, so very little ! Were I to name the 
income that procured for us the ideal of both, I should 

UNITED. 263 

excite in some a smile of incredulity. But it is literally 
true that from first to last we were never conscious of 
a privation never perturbed by care. Whatever our 
income, we always contrived to have it in advance, and it 
was one of the peculiarities of my husband's character to 
be equally prudent and generous, a combination that much 
in my former life had taught me to prize. But indeed all 
that life now seemed to me requisite training for such 
"measureless content" as mine. I had had perplexity 
enough to enhance the rest of reliance on a perfectly sound 
judgment ; buffeting enough to make me habitually alive 
to a justice and tenderness that never failed. 

It was during this summer that he wrote down, on the 
inside of an old envelope, the following lines an answer, 
I imagine, to some conventional prompting of which I 
must have been guilty. They are so characteristic that I 
give them : 

Oh vex me not with needless cry 

Of what the world may think or claim ; 

Let the sweet life pass sweetly by, 

The same, the same, and every day the same. 

Thee, Nature, Thought that burns in me 

A living and consuming flame 
These must suffice ; let the life be 

The same, the same, and evermore the same. 

Here find I taskwork, here society 
Thou art my gold, thou art my fame ; 

Let the sweet life pass sweetly by, 

The same, the same, and every day the same. 

The "sweet life" was not disturbed during the re- 
mainder of the year, but we changed its scene to Keswick 
to ^he house where we had first met five years before 
and then to Brighton. During the summer William had 
written several articles, one for the " British Quarterly" 
(of which Dr. Vaughan was then editor), on the poems of 


Mrs. Browning poems so dear to us both that her death 
that summer seemed to bring personal loss and pain. 
While the winter sped on at Brighton, " Gravenhurst " 
grew rapidly. William wrote it undisturbed by my pres- 
ence a great triumph to me I sitting the while at 
another table writing too. For through the kindness of 
Mr. Strahan most enterprising and liberal of publishers 
I had for several years a good deal of translation to do. 
This was one of the finishing touches to the completeness 
of our life. Not to speak of my pleasure in contributing 
to our income, I delighted in compulsory occupation ; and 
to see me busy over my manuscript gave my husband a 
more comfortable sense of security from casual remarks 
than he would have had if I had only been working or 
reading. Then, when the pen was thrown down, both 
enjoyed the walk all the more thoroughly, the more child- 
ishly in both there was much of the child. 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

Tent Cottage, July, 1861. I never even wish not to 
have to think a little of ways and means. Believe me, it 
is an element of happiness rather than the reverse calls 
forth energy, and makes life fuller. I like the feeling of 
being able to do little things for William. If we were 
better off, it would not be I who darned and mended, it 
would be some paid and more practical needle, and then I 
should have less to do should therefore be less happy. 
... I Ve been doing a short story for Mr. Strahan, who 
tells me to send him two more such by the end of the 
month, but I cannot think of any wanting to reserve 
my small stock of ideas for a larger tale. . . . My happy 
life does not give me much to write about ; one day is 
blissfully like another. Thank God, William is well 
perhaps not quite so well as he was at Hastings and Edin- 
burgh this is not the climate for him. But there never 


is a complaint of not being well, never a cloud upon his 

UNITED. 265 

dear forehead, never a moment's depression of spirits. He 
is always busy, and after his morning's work dashes down 
to me, playful and bright as I never saw any one else. 

Keswick, Autumn, 1861. Last night, thinking Wil- 
liam out long, I wrapped myself in the railway rug, and 
flew some way up the Ambleside road. I cannot tell you 
how glorious it was, light as day, and the snow-covered 
mountains clear and white against the deep blue of the 
quite cloudless sky. William had gone down to see them 
reflected in the lake, which was quite calm. Skiddaw 
stretched out such a mighty form beneath the winding- 
sheet very weird, and all so still, the mountains so 
solemn. 'T is a charming country in winter, and our 
rooms so pleasant ! The three windows have red curtains. 
Here is the plan of the room very childish of me, but 
you '11 like to see our fixings. The sweet days are all 
peace and brightness. I see William clings a good deal 
to our present comforts, and I don't much fancy we shall 
be off till the first Tuesday in December. To me it is all 
the same, so he is well. He expects some letters early 
in December, and does not want to move you know he 
never does want to move. I am going now to my work 
what a blessing compulsory occupation is ! I wish every 
one had it. It is one of the sweetnesses of small means. 
Ah, darling, be sure all life's darkest trials are quite com- 
patible with wealth. 

Brighton, Jan. 19, 1862. I ought to be getting on 
with my story, but we are idle this morning, writing let- 
ters, talking our happy nonsense, and we have had a caller, 
a Mr. Allen, a clergyman. He wanted William to dine 
with him, but he won't go. Bless him ! He has got quite 
settled here in our nice room, and his cheerfulness and 
brilliancy are indescribable. And now, beloved child, 
God grant you a very happy New Year many years, 
each fuller and richer than the last. This life is a blessed 
inheritance, if we do not mar what God gives. With 


health, occupation, and love, how fraught everything is 
with pleasure. I find little pleasures spring up every- 
where. I needs must tremble a little in parting with this 
dear Old Year, that has crowned all my life for which 
it all seems to have been education only, only preparation. 
But our Father knoweth what things we have need of, and 
corne what may I have been quite happy. 



" GRAVENHURST, or Thoughts on Good and Evil, by 
William Smith," appeared in the spring of 1862. This 
book it is which will best show us what effect has been 
wrought in him by this mutual experience, in which the 
woman's share has been told by herself. Into her story it 
was impossible to break with a word of comment. What 
a new world she brought into his life, every reader feels. 
No less clear is it how her energy and concentration sup- 
plied the need in his irresolution. Every page illustrates 
how perfectly she supplemented all the wants of his 
nature. And it should be recognized no less that he had 
in himself the very qualities to fill out and perfect her life. 
Especially, his habitual absorption in lofty thoughts gave 
to him an elevation and serenity which was like a new 
atmosphere to a woman absorbed as she had been in 
personal cares. The woman's heart, intensely and tremu- 
lously alive with personal sympathies, linked in devoted 
service to burdened lives, all whose burdens it feels, car- 
ries in itself almost of necessity a habitual agitation. It 
is such incessant, mother-like solicitudes that prompted 
Mrs. Browning's line : 

" And who at once can love and rest ? " 

From these tender troubles, this anxiety inseparable from 
a life made up wholly of personal ties, the change to a 
society in which the great interest is in lofty impersonal 
themes is like going out of a busy household into the 
tranquil night under the solemn stars. And when this 


larger outlook, this companionship with things sublime 
and eternal, was found in a nature of high purity and 
sweetness ; when too this nature was felt to profoundly 
need just such care and love as she could give what 
wonder she was filled and satisfied ? 

What he found in their union is told best in the verses 
she repeats, asking only that the " sweet life " be " the 
same, the same, and evermore the same." It was as nat- 
ural to him to keep within himself the secret of his bliss, 
as it was to her to share with her friends all she could 
impart of the happy story. Dr. Lietch, who had been a 
friend to him amid his solitude, wrote to her in later 
years of a single swift glimpse of the new life within. " I 
remember well seeing you at Derwentwater Place, the 
year after you were married. He had used to say in a sad 
tone, ' I shall never marry.' On parting with him at the 
door, on this occasion, I recollect in grasping his hand I 
said, ' You 're happy now, Thorn dale ! ' And he said 
with a flash of joy in his face, ' I am happy I ' and darted 
suddenly away." 

It is in his work, in " Gravenhurst " in comparison with 
" Thorndale," that we most distinctly recognize what the 
gain to him had been. His love had not withdrawn him 
from the pursuit and the passion of truth : it had guided 
that pursuit and given to that passion a fuller fruition. 
The philosophy of " Gravenhurst "is an application and 
extension of that which gains the predominance in " Thorn- 
dale." But the tone has changed from interrogation to 
affirmation. One recalls that touching sentence in the 
earlier book : " Did he to the last continue to doubt, to 
hope, to aspire, and then again throw away his aspira- 
tions ? say rather give them away to some other and 
liappier mind, and still see and love them there, though 
he could not retain them for himself ? " In " Graven- 
hurst," we seem to find that " other and happier mind," 
or rather, Thorn dale's own mind, but now by happiness 

" GRA YEN HURST." 269 

so enlarged and strengthened that it grasps with the ardor 
of a faith the ideas which before were only a plausible 
but doubtful hypothesis. The change is one which recalls 
the opening passage of his early poem " Guidone," to 
which might be well applied the saying of Emerson, that 
" the soul contains in itself the secret that shall presently 
befall it." 

That cold, unreal, shadow-peopled realm 

To which much meditation wears our world, 

Where long I walked, oft startling as I trod, 

As if from dreams, at recollected self, 

And this substantial being, 

I have at length escaped : I also live ! 

Mine, too, this earth whereon I plant my foot ! 

Mine, too, the sky whereto I lift my gaze ! 

And the still brighter climes beyond are mine, 

By the bold faith which man sustains in man ! 

Our best beliefs from best affections spring, 

And solitude is ignorance. 

A firm conviction, and a deep, grave happiness, pervade 
the pages of " Gravenhurst. Here, as in "Thorndale," 
the two predominating ideas are, first, that the solution of 
our difficulties lies in looking at the whole, in seeing the 
individual in his relations to others and to the sum of being, 
and in viewing the past, present, and future as completing 
and interpreting each other ; and, secondly, that there is 
recognizable a progress of humanity. In " Thorndale," it 
is the hope of a great future, for the race and the indi- 
vidual, that chiefly reassures and inspires. But " Graven- 
hurst," while confirming this hope, yet dwells on the good 
of this present existence with a heartiness and satisfac- 
tion not felt in " Thorndale." It is a sober and tempered 
joy, but over all the landscape near and far lie sweet and 
sunny hues. " Gravenhurst " is not only a happier book 
than " Thorndale," but closer to actual existence. Its au- 
thor is a wiser man. He has made personal acquaintance 
with a vast province, with which before he had little more 


than hearsay acquaintance. He has not only tasted but 
drunk deep of 

" A sacred and home-felt delight, 
The sober certainty of waking bliss." 

The author writes of " Gravenhurst " that while " Thorn- 
dale " was called a conflict of opinions this book might 
be called a harmony. The volume like its predecessor (of 
which it is less than half the size) is mainly a series of 
dialogues ; though in this case the systematic exposition 
introduces the conversations instead of following them, 
and is perhaps of greater relative importance. There are 
two representatives of classes that have no spokesman in 
" Thorndale," a woman and a Protestant clergyman. 
The Vicar is the broad-minded pastor of the village church. 
Ada Newcome is a lovely and thoughtful girl, the victim 
of a severe and permanent lameness. Ada who, we may 
say in passing, bears very little personal resemblance to 
Lucy Smith is attached to the Christian church, glad to 
rest in some degree on its authority, but little concerned 
with dogmas and ceremonies. Her uncle, General Mans- 
field, who is a retired Indian officer, and Sandford, who 
directly represents the author, complete the little company. 
It is a quite different society from the strenuous theorists 
who battle in the pages of " Thorndale." These person- 
ages represent more of actual experience, more maturity of 
feeling, more domestic yet more largely human relations. 
For scenery, too, we exchange the Bay of Naples and the 
summit of the Bigi for a quiet English village. Some 
loss there is, compared with " Thorndale," in dramatic con- 
trast and keen interplay of diverse minds. We miss a 
little that terrible fellow, Seckendorf. We know that in 
the presence of the gentle Ada no one will have the heart 
to speak unreservedly the cruelest side of facts. Yet, 
upon the whole, we find here not only a more affirmative 
philosophy, but a riper judgment, and a far more invigor- 
ating impulse. " Thorndale " leaves the reader looking 


fascinated on the vast human scene with all its mystery ; 
Jiope gathering strength above fear, and glimpses widening 
of order in what seemed confusion. " Gravenhurst " deep- 
ens the hope ; extends the view of order into some of the 
very darkest spots ; and, above all, the reader rises from it 
nerved for vigorous combat, inspired to be actor as well 
as spectator. 

In the chivalrous stories of old, the brave knight who 
would honor his lady-love goes forth to battle with some 
creature of evil, some robber or giant or dragon. The 
knight of our story, vowed from his youth to the service 
of truth as a religion, blessed now with a love which is 
both happiness and inspiration, he too, man of peace- 
fulest outward life though he be, goes on a venturous 
quest against the fellest monster that through the genera- 
tions has dismayed the mind of man, the problem of 
Evil. In most modest guise he goes forth to combat ; no 
gay colors adorn his arms ; no trumpet-flourish rings. So 
unassuming and sedate indeed is this essay that the world, 
though giving to it something of welcome and praise, 
scarce took due note of its message. That message let the 
reader judge for himself, so far as that can be judged by 
extracts which deserves close reading from the first line to 
the last. 

Here is the opening scene, and the setting forth of the 
problem : 

It was the hour of sunset. As I paused upon the parapet of 
our little bridge, the distant Welsh hills were glowing in their 
purple splendour ; the river ran gold at my feet ; every branch 
of every graceful tree that hung silently in the air received 
and reflected a new beauty from that entire scene of enchant- 
ment to which also it brought its own contribution. Such har- 
mony there is in nature. The whole, which is formed itself of 
separate parts, gives to each part its meaning and its charm. 
Yet even here, in this scene of enchantment, I was compelled 
to recall to my imagination that poor woman whose desolate 


hearth I had lately visited, I was compelled to revive those dis- 
cordant scenes of war, of carnage, of treachery, of famine, which 
my friend, an old Indian General, had been dilating upon. No 
harmony, then, and little peace, in this other world of Humanity. 
Is there truly some diabolic element amongst us? Does dis- 
order reign in the highest part of creation ? Has the beneficent 
harmony which human nature should disclose been invaded, 
broken up, irrecoverably destroyed by some tyrannous spirit of 
evil ? It seems so. 

And yet I reflected within myself since wherever science 
has penetrated, disorder and confusion disappear, and a harmo- 
nious whole is presented to us, it may happen that this sense 
of diabolic confusion in the arena of human life would vanish 
before the light of a wider and clearer knowledge. We suffer 
there is no doubt of that and we naturally speak and think 
under the sharp pang of our present agony ; but the ultimate 
and overruling judgment which we form of human life should 
be taken from some calm, impersonal point of view. We 
should command the widest horizon possible. Of the great 
whole of humanity we see but little at a time. We pause some- 
times on the lights only of the picture, sometimes only on the 
shadows. How very dark those shadows seem ! Yet if we 
could embrace in our view the whole of the picture, perhaps the 
very darkest shadows might be recognized as effective, or inevit- 
able, portions of a grand harmonious whole. (Pages 131, 132. 1 ) 

Hence, presently, in the quietest fashion, and with a dis- 
claimer of anything more original than expressing the 
thought ripening in many minds, the reader is introduced 
to this general survey, which will bear long pondering. 

I have no paradox to startle or amuse the reader with. My 
statements are simply those which must grow up in the scientific 
age in which we live. The optimism that could boldly declare 
that this was the best of all possible worlds does not belong to 
an age which recognizes the limits of its knowledge. He who 
talks of the best possible of worlds should be able to compare 
many worlds together. What we, in these times, are saying to 

1 These pages refer to the second edition of Gravenhurst, printed 
in one volume with the Memoir and Knowing and Feeling. 


ourselves is that this only world we know anything about is es- 
sentially one, one great scheme, in which the lower, or the 
simpler, is a necessary condition of the higher or more complex ; 
and that it is idle to quarrel with this or that part unless you can 
quarrel with the whole, or unless you can separate that portion 
which is the object of your criticism from the great laws or pow- 
ers that constitute the whole. You take up some one part of 
this great scheme of nature and of man, and you, a sensitive 
human being, exclaim against it as pain and suffering, and de- 
nounce it as evil. All this is quite inevitable ; but what you ex- 
claim against as evil is often the very excitement of our highest 
energies, and is always found, on examination, to be linked, 
either as cause or effect, with what you as loudly proclaim to be 
good. You suffer and you resist, and strive against your calam- 
ity, and perhaps this strife is the end for which you suffered ; 
but take away both the suffering and the strife, and you simply 
destroy the whole web of human existence. Tear this web to 
pieces, and you have behind it nothing ! nothing for human 

How can I, or any one, venture to assert that this is the best 
of all possible worlds ? There may be innumerable worlds, and 
innumerable modes of consciousness, of which we can form no 
conception whatever. What we can safely assert is this, that 
our world of nature and of man is one great scheme, and that 
what we most lament in human life, as well as what most as- 
tonishes us amongst physical phenomena, is a consequence of 
some general law essential to the whole. And, furthermore, we 
can assert that, if not the happiest of all possible worlds, happi- 
ness, and not misery, is the great end and result, the great out- 
come of this multifarious scheme. This subordination of evil 
to good may be proved, not only by enumerating the instances 
in which good comes out of evil, and comparing them with the 
instances in which evil comes out of good a process which I 
should despair of completing but by seizing hold of certain 
great laws or facts of human life which show that provision is 
made for happiness of a quite different nature than can be said 
to be made for misery. There is a susceptibility to pleasure 
for pleasure's sake, whereas the susceptibility to pain has always 
the character of means to end, or is the consequence of some 


abnormal condition. There is a universal delight in energy and 
activity of all kinds, so that there is joy blended with existence 
itself; for is riot all life activity of some description? Thus 
pain, when it acts as a stimulant to activity, is lost in the pleas- 
urable energy it excites. Again, the sentiment of beauty which 
diffuses so much subtle happiness over all parts of life, and 
which gives origin to the fine arts, and makes the world we live 
in a constant source of pleasure to the eye, cannot be said to be 
balanced or neutralized by the opposite sentiment of ugliness. 
Hardly a plainer indication could be given that joy, and not 
grief, is the purpose of our world (I presume that we may speak 
of the world as having a purpose), than this wide diffusion of 
the sentiment of beauty. General considerations of this kind 
are sufficient to demonstrate if this really needed demonstra- 
tion that happiness preponderates over misery. (Pages 134- 

The keynote of the discussion is not a passive acqui- 
escence in what seems to us evil, but the recognition that 
in overcoming the evil lies our good. 

The more we reflect on the great whole of nature and human- 
ity, the more we are reconciled not to evil as a thing to be 
patiently endured, wherever it can be remedied ; but to a condi- 
tion of things where there is the recognized evil, and the vigour 
to combat with it. This contest with evil is our very progress, 
is our very life it is one with all our effort and energy. . . . 
It does not dismay me to discover that our energies are stimu- 
lated, our pursuits are in part initiated, our enthusiasms are al- 
ways sustained, by what, when we stand face to face against it, 
we must call evil. Evil, to him who has to resist or to endure, 
it undoubtedly is. In this form it inevitably presents itself. 
But who does not see that human life, regarded as a whole, 
would be incalculably impoverished if the energy, the emotions, 
the aims, which originate in the resistance to actual or probable 
evil were abstracted from it ? (Pages 138, 139.) 

To give clearly and condensedly the leading thoughts 
of the book, it is necessary to group various passages, 
without following the sequence of the original. The pri- 
mary function of pain is thus tersely given : 


. . . Pain and pleasure are the stimulants to that activity 
which is the source of all our knowledge and all our arts, and 
which is itself the most universal of pleasures. It is impossible 
for us to conceive of life being developed without both of these 
stimulants. Hunger, thirst, bodily uneasiness, are constantly 
giving movement to the whole animal creation. 

Pain, that acts as a stimulant to action, blends with or is lost 
in the sense of effort, or the vigorous muscular exertion it calls 
forth. Very acute pain paralyzes or subdues ; but the prick 
and the sting that stimulate to energetic movement are forgot- 
ten in the energy they produce. 

In many of our motives it is difficult to say whether pain or 
pleasure predominates. Hunger having been once gratified, 
there is a prospect of pleasure, as well as a present pain, in the 
desire for food. Generally there is in desire the anticipation 
of some pleasure, and also a direct pain from the absence of 
that pleasure. If now this important state of mind, which we 
call desire, be thus a blending of pain and pleasure, we see at 
once how indispensable a part pain performs in human exist- 
ence. (Pages 162, 163.) 

The transition is -obvious to the development of mental 
and moral action : 

There is no resistance to our will which may not, in some 
sense, be pronounced to be evil, and yet the very exercise of 
power implies the idea of resistance. You could not even wield 
the stick within your hand unless it presented a resistance to 
your hand. All moral or mental power is exhibited by con- 
quering some resistance some error, or some misplaced pas- 
sion. (Pages 167.) 

It is suffering which gives occasion, gives birth, we may 
say, to social virtue : 

If a personal want initiates the activity of the individual, it 
is sympathy with each other which lies at the basis of human 
society ; and sympathy is, in the first instance, chiefly called 
forth by pain, or dread of some affliction. We sympathize with 
each other's joys no less than with each other's griefs. But even 
when we sympathize strongly with each other's joys, it is where 


there is some sense of escape from threatened or probable afflic- 
tion ; and, generally speaking, this form of the sentiment is of 
later culture or development. Society, in its early stages, owes 
more to the sympathy which is calle.d forth by pain, by wounds, 
by death. That sympathy which enlists the passions of twenty 
men in the suffering and calamity of one is the rude initiator of 
criminal justice and moral reprobation. Could I point to any 
great fact which shows more distinctly how pain and pleasure 
lie together at the very roots of human existence ? They, in- 
deed, are twisted together in every fibre, in every leaf, in every 
blossom and fruit of the great tree of life. (Page 163.) 
Let us confront, then, the question of moral evil : 
From pain we are easily led to the dread of pain, to the re- 
sentment that follows upon pain, to anger, hatred, fear, and all 
the list of depressing and inflammatory passions dire inmates 
to the human breast which admits them too readily, or retains 
them too long. Yet what passion is there which in its due de- 
gree and place is not serviceable to happiness, or is not a happi- 
ness itself ? What we call bad passions owe their badness to a 
defective state of the intelligence, as when emulation becomes 
envy in narrow minds, or love becomes jealousy. What funda- 
mental passion is there of the human mind that you would erad- 
icate ? Not revenge. You know that this is needful to self- 
preservation ; you know that when it is felt sympathetically, it 
becomes a noble indignation, summoning defenders round the 
weak against the strong. But the passion, you urge, that 
prompted the injury which has to be revenged this might be 
eradicated, and then all would be peace. What is that assail- 
ant ? What the passion that commences the strife, and gives 
the first blow ? It may be any passion that has not learned its 
limits, and it has to learn its limits by this very retaliation it 
provokes. It may be cupidity, and cupidity in itself is but the 
desire for some good. Or it may be the love of power, the desire 
of governing others, and making them subject to our will. And 
you will pause long before you eradicate this love of power. 
Here also there is a passion which has to learn its limits from 
the resistance it meets, with. (Pages 165, 166.) 

To this question of moral evil we will return later. But 



now, on the broader topic of the function of all evil, there 
comes the inquiry whether there is not obviously a great 
excess of suffering beyond any useful purpose. 

" There is too much evil. Passions are too violent, wants are 
too agonizing, pains and distresses are too numerous, too persist- 
ent, too intense." 

The complaint is natural. Who of us has not made it in the 
day of his sorrow or his indignation ? But consider this, that it 
lies in the very nature of pain and suffering that we do, and 
must, complain of it. Whatever the degree in which it pre- 
sents itself, it must always seem too much. It is always, from 
the nature of the case, the element we wish away that stands 
out against us as repugnant and superfluous. 

No animal, and certainly not man himself, could be trusted 
with the modification or reconstruction of his own life. He 
would at once and forever reject what is repugnant, and in so 
doing unnerve his whole existence. Every animal that has to 
seek its food would bargain for a regular supply, and near at 
hand ; yet with those who have great powers of locomotion the 
irregularity and uncertainty of supply is connected with the 
exercise of their peculiar faculties. What would become of all 
the birds of the air where the glory of their outstretched and 
untiring pinions if it were not for that seeming precariousness 
of supply, which doubtless they would themselves complain of, 
and which even benevolent men have contemplated with some 
dismay and distress ? We men, for our own parts, are in the 
habit of saying that it is well for us that we cannot always pre- 
dict the future that there should be abundant play for hope, 
and curiosity, and surprise. Nevertheless this uncertainty is a 
state which each one for himself would constantly remove if 
he could. He must wish to read the future while he is still in 
the anxious present. 

That there is a general feeling of too much evil is not, there- 
fore, a proof that this element is in excess, viewed as part of the 
whole ; because, from its nature, it is always that which is felt 
to be too much. 

Nevertheless this question of degree is one which may legiti- 
mately be raised, if only one could grapple with it. A calm and 


all-seeing spectator of human affairs might discuss such a ques- 
tion. We stand ourselves in this predicament : If our knowl- 
edge is not sufficient to enable us to pronounce that it is not in 
excess (an opinion to which, from the general harmony of na- 
ture, one may be disposed to lean), it is certainly not sufficient 
to entitle us to assert that it is in excess. 

How can man, the sufferer, trust himself to form any decision 
upon the degree in which pain and pleasure should be diffused 
over the whole world ? How can he know how that passions less 
violent, wants less painful, distresses less extensive, would have 
answered the purposes for which passion, want, and distress 
have been called in ? He knows this, that he should always 
give his judgment in favour of the something less. 

I ask no man to be contented with the amount of evil existing 
at any time, in any age or country. It is the nature of evil to 
prompt opposition to it. The more intelligence there is in man, 
the more vigorous and effectual the opposition it will prompt. 
The greatest of all calamities is the contentment that sits down 
at peace with a remediable evil. 

But how can I measure the degree of that stimulant nec- 
essary to call forth those energies by which we progress? 
(Pages 168-170.) 

And now comes that great explaining fact, which man's 
latest study of the world in its reality has elicited, the 
fact of a visible upward progress of terrestrial humanity. 

. . . Strange, indeed, would it be, if all nature manifested an 
admirable arrangement of parts, and an evident principle of 
growth, till we arrived at the history of that conscious and rea- 
soning being whose presence alone gives meaning and purpose 
to all the rest of nature. The unconscious world has its end, 
or its complement, in that conscious being in whom it excites 
pleasure, perception, beauty, truth. Starting from his simplest 
appetites and passions, all of which have their allotted and ap- 
parently indispensable office in his further development, we see 
him rise into higher emotions, into higher and higher truths. 
Perhaps from the elevated station he finally reaches, he looks 
down with some displeasure and contempt upon the lower ele- 

" GRA VEN HURST." 279 

ments of his own nature, unwisely, if he does not recognize, 
at the same time, the enormous debt he owes them does not 
recognize in those lower elements the very basis of that intellect- 
ual structure he has reared. The higher may predominate over 
the lower may even, when once developed, obtain an inde- 
pendent footing ; and as we shall often have occasion to show, it 
never could have been, in the first place, developed without aid 
of the lower. The whole is one. (Page 140.) 

Very rich is the book in illustrations of this law of 
progress, and in instances of service wrought by phases 
of existence which when surmounted looked wholly evil 
in the retrospect, while yet the higher plane was only 
reached by their means. One or two only of these illus- 
trations we reproduce. 

Progress is brought about by the energy of man, which energy 
is also his highest felicity. The age which in any way has 
fought and conquered for its successor would perhaps be con- 
sidered the more fortunate of the two, if its successor had not 
also its own strife strife at least to retain what had been thus 
acquired for it. ... Slavery, war, despotism, religious persecu- 
tion, are evils which we have already partly outlived. Evils we 
from our position rightly pronounce them to be, yet each of them 
had its adaptation to the epoch in which it was found to exist, 
and each had a function to perform preparatory to a subsequent 
and happier era. Where they still exist, they still have the like 

One illustration must here suffice. War is already, and has 
long been, proclaimed to be an evil of the first magnitude, and 
forward-looking men anticipate a time when the disputes of 
nations will be decided by a society of nations, represented in 
some council or congress. Meanwhile we are, as a people, still 
in that condition when we enjoy the fierce delights of war. 
Nay, we read lectures to each other on the moral benefits aris- 
ing out of the bold profession of arms. And, at all events, there 
is a general persuasion that this great framer of states, this 
founder of nationalities, has not yet done its work. Wars of 
conquest and of self-defence have hitherto assisted at the forma- 


tion of every well-knit community. The opposition from with- 
out has made the elements cohere within. (Pages 184, 185.) 

There is a toleration for the persecutor we have yet to learn. 
I was lately reading the " History of Philip II." and the grand 
revolt of the Netherlands. What indignation I felt against the 
Spanish tyrant ! And indeed we Protestants must hate this 
despot. And yet, I asked myself, is it reasonable to lay upon 
one man, as his crime, the fanaticism of a whole people and the 
tradition of ages ? A great idea prevailed, it predominated 
entirely in Spain, it had prevailed generally over European 
society. It was the idea of a universal church, out of which 
salvation for the souls of men was impossible. Kings as well 
as priests, and mobs as well as kings, were possessed with this 
idea. Scholars, soldiers, magistrates, all held themselves charged 
to maintain it, to write, to fight, and adjudicate for its support. 
The error of all is the reproach of none. This Philip II. is pre- 
eminently the great and pious king of pious Catholics. Pos- 
sessed of highest power, on him devolves the severest task. The 
sword is in his hand, and he must strike. This morose and 
superstitious king is, before all others, the slave to our great 

But in one part of his dominions this great idea is disputed 
and dethroned. I see the enlightened and wealthy cities of 
Holland suffering every calamity that war and famine can in- 
flict, rather than deny the new truth that has sprung up in them. 
They will not surrender their convictions. Rather let the sea 
take back their land, rather let the fires of martyrdom consume 
their bodies. Return stroke for stroke, you brave Dutchmen ! 
Bear all, inflict all, rather than surrender! Would that you 
could bind this monarch and fling him over your dikes, and be 
free to worship how you will ! 

But now, when the fight is over, and the combatants numbered 
with the dead, on whom are we to pass judgment ? Not on the 
zealot king, not on the zealot citizen. They are gone from be- 
fore our judgment-seat, with all their antagonistic energies and 
repugnant duties. They have left only for our contemplation a 
contest between two great ideas. 

All that remains for us is to congratulate ourselves on the 
new views that have become prevalent as to the duty of the state 


in the matter of religion. But here we perceive our age may 
justly congratulate itself, and yet not condemn or affect to pity 
its predecessor. An enlightened people, a people whose minds 
are generally active, will put forth a variety of beliefs ; and this 
very activity of mind becomes a substitute for that state author- 
ity which it resists. Amongst such people the action of the state 
is necessarily and wisely limited. Did such mental activity be- 
come still more general, the action of the state might be alto- 
gether withdrawn. All this is subject for sincere congratulation. 
But if I am to look back candidly into some past era, I must 
see there also a certain harmony in the condition of things a 
certain social organization which is not unworthy of admiration. 
An ignorant unreasoning people are bound together, and have 
their minds guided and enriched by some state-protected faith, 
which, be its composition what it may, has in it the highest 
practical wisdom that the thinking few of mankind have hitherto 
attained. This, also, is not unworthy of an approving recogni- 
tion. (Pages 186-188.) 

Nor, in this view, is man in his earlier and lower phase 
a mere sufferer and a stepping-stone to his happier suc- 
cessor. In each experience there is a satisfaction of its 

. . . The savage is a very hideous spectacle to you. But he 
as complete in himself as you or I leads his own life con- 
tentedly. Nay, if contentment with himself were the sole test 
of happiness which it is not it is only one amongst many 
tests we would hold the savage happier than ourselves. He 
is the most conceited of his species. It is, indeed, a universal 
kindness of Nature that she compensates ignorance by a most 
triumphant conceit. (Page 206.) 

Take, if you prefer it, an illustration from the arts of peace. 
Follow the miner into the bowels of the earth watch the arti- 
san at his loom, packed close in the dark alleys of a town ; the 
circumstances are to us distressing enough. But the man in 
whom those circumstances have developed the fitting and appro- 
priate activity is not an unhappy creature. Before you pro- 
nounce a man miserable, be sure you have the real being before 


you be sure that you are not pronouncing on some imaginary 
figure, made up half of him and half of yourself his circum- 
stances and your temper and habits. (Page 154. ) 

This view is carried in one instance to what must seem 
to most readers an audacious paradox. It is the old In- 
dian general who utters it. 

" This marvellous energy," he continued, " seen in all animal 
life, but most conspicuously in man, calls forth my ceaseless ad- 
miration, and affords often a complete answer to men wailing 
over the destiny of others. So long as I see the man bear up 
and contend against the hostile circumstance, so long do I know 
that he is not forsaken by the genius of happiness. I have wit- 
nessed the horrors of war ; I have shared in the forced march ; 
I have traversed the field of battle the day after ; but still I do 
not scruple to say that, merely weighing out its pleasures and its 
pains, the excitements which attend on war itself add far more 
to the sum of human happiness than its worst calamities to the 
sum of human misery. My niece who sits there in the corner 
so critically attentive to me looks dissent. But I do not ad- 
vocate war, my dear Ada, or desire its continuance. The ener- 
gies of man may find a better direction ; but it is still well to 
see that, whatever direction they take, they can scarcely fail to 
add to the sum of happiness. So much does our happiness lie 
in this energy itself." (Pages 153, 154.) 

But a less extreme illustration will win a more general 

" You are standing," General Mansfield will say, " in your 
own pleasant drawing-room, well defended from the weather, 
and you listen to the storm raging without. The rain dashes 
violently against that film of glass which yet so securely protects 
you from its violence. Your thoughts fly to the sea, and you 
picture to yourself the misery of some hapless voyager, who, 
drenched to the skin, is holding on by the rigging to save him- 
self from being carried overboard by the rage of the tempest. 
You, warm and indolent, project yourself in imagination into 
such a scene. But the man who is really there is no warm 
and indolent creature ; he has all the energy the situation itself 


has called forth. You congratulate yourself in your easy-chair, 
your dry and comfortable room : congratulate yourself by all 
means, and enjoy what the quiet hour brings you. But prob- 
ably you yourself, at some other time, have been in the very 
position that seems so dreadful now. You have clung with all 
your might to the shrouds while the waves washed over you, 
while the winds seemed resolved to tear you from your hold, 
and sweep you away into the ocean. But you have clung, you 
strove gallantly, you drew breath when the waves had passed over 
you, and prepared, with clenched hands, for the next encounter. 
You were there at your post, you had no thought of surrender, 
you were all energy ; the danger was swallowed up in the efforts 
you were making. Well, call up that hour when, drenched and 
buffeted by water and by wind, you offered stout resistance to 
the elements in every strong fibre of your body call it up 
fairly, fully, and place it beside this hour of fireside enjoyment 
and security, and tell me which of the two was the higher life ? 
Which of the two are you most proud to have experienced ? If 
we wish to form a correct estimate of human existence, we must 
not dwell upon the loud bluster of the storm, and forget the 
thrill of power that responds to it in the hidden noiseless nerve 
of the living man." (Pages 152, 153.) 

But it is on the most familiar ground that our author 
walks with firmest foot, in his pilgrimage of hope and 
cheer. Take this group of scenes, both inanimate and 
human, from the country village " Gravenhurst," whence 
the book derives its name. 

Commonplace ! Look up ! What is that apparition of daz- 
zling brightness rising softly upon the blue sky from behind 
those tall and massive elms ? If you saw it for the first time in 
your life you would say it must be some celestial visitant. Is it 
light itself from heaven taking shape, and just softened and sub- 
dued to the endurance of a mortal vision ? It is nothing but a 
cloud I mere vapour that the unseen wind moves and moulds, 
and that the sun shines on for a little time. And now it has 
risen above the massive and lofty tree, and throws light upwards 
to the sky, and throws its pleasant shadow down upon the earth 


pleasant shadow that paces along the meadows, leaving be- 
hind a greater brilliancy on tree, and grass, and hedge, and 
flower, than what, for a moment, it had eclipsed. It is -all 
commonplace. Light, and shadow, and the river, and the 
meadow with its clover blossoms, and childish buttercups. Very 
childish all. Match it ! match them ! match these trees in 
their meadows, ye restless prophets with your palaces of crystal 
and walls of sapphire, and pavements of jasper ! . . . All the 
apocalyptic visions you have ever read cannot rival a meadow in 
springtime. That simple field, with its buttercups and clover 
blossoms, outshines the imagination of all the poet-prophets that 
have ever lived. Thank God, all you who have a spark of ra- 
tional piety in your hearts, for the glorious commonplace of 
earth and sky, for this cloud-embosomed planet in which you 
pass your lives. (Pages 142, 143.) 

. . . An interesting race, these human beings. As I pass the 
meadow, I lean upon the gate that opens into it ; I see a little 
child, almost an infant, toddling alone in the high grass. The 
tall buttercups have outgrown the child ; they and the ox-eyed 
daisies shut out from its view that neighbouring cottage which is 
its home ; the child has lost its way amidst the flowers it had 
come to gather, knows not where to turn in this jungle of soft 
grass. I hear a plaintive cry of distress. Another child, some 
two years older, as I guess, runs to its aid, caresses, calms it ; 
leads it back to the cottage home of both. How prettily it pro- 
tects ! how proudly ! seeing that this older one can look 
above the grass. You perceive that the little fond, and sympa- 
thetic, and imitative creature has learnt that tender care from 
their common mother ; you note with a smile the already com- 
plex sentiment (sense of power mingled with love) revealed in 
that protection ; you observe how soon the thread of life, and 
even where it is silken-soft, is spun of pain and pleasure ; you 
know, moreover, that beneath the thatch of that cottage, to which 
these children hand-in-hand are walking, there beats some true 
and tender mother-heart, the source of this love to one another 

some tender heart whose very anxieties you would hardly 
dare to diminish. (Pages 143, 144.) 

... I need not say, therefore, that our Gravenhurst has its 
share of miseries, has its wants, its sorrows, its crimes ; per- 

GRA YEN HURST.' 1 285 

haps under some roof, unknown to any of us, a terrible guilt or 
anguish may lie hid. But that which meets the eye everywhere, 
or most conspicuously, is labour, work of some kind, performed 
cheerfully, socially, habitually. There is a stolid content in the 
countenance of most men you meet ; a more talkative and bus- 
tling activity distinguishes the women. We, in common with all 
England and the greater part of Europe, have reached that 
stage of civilization and of culture in which the necessary labours 
of life are undertaken with cheerful foresight, and where in- 
dustry is a steadfast voluntary habit. There is no savage im- 
pulse of sheer hunger, no savage sloth when the hunger is satis- 
fied ; and we have long passed that epoch when industry was 
sustained by the goad of the slave-master. We have learned 
that health and pleasure lie hid in labour. We know that the 
toil which ministers to life is itself the best part of life. (Page 

Of course we make our outcries against the miseries of life ; 
and there is real evil and indisputable sorrow amongst us. But 
we strike down the evil where we can, and we soothe the sorrow 
where we can. And then this energy with which we strike, and 
this tenderness with which we soothe I think we should not, 
after due deliberation, forfeit these for an immunity from pain 
and sorrow. Some evils, you will say, do not prompt action 
rouse no energy are simply to be endured. Well, this endur- 
ance conquers them, wrings a strength and pride out of them. 
They prompt this energy of fortitude. I go back to the meadow 
where I saw the children amongst the flowers. Childhood itself 
shall give me my illustration. Some days afterwards I encoun- 
tered the eldest one alone ; she did not perceive me ; I could 
watch her unobserved. There was a very luxuriant crop of 
nettles growing beside the hedge. I saw her put her little ten- 
der hand, slowly and deliberately, to the leaf of the stinging 
nettle. She wanted to try if she could bear the pain. The 
grave little Spartan ! I asked her if she knew that the nettle 
stung. " Oh, yes ! she knew it ; " but added, blushing, partly 
with pain and partly at being observed, " Mother says that un- 
less we can bear pain we shall be cowards and useless people. I 
wanted to try it is not so very bad." Ah, little Annie Fos- 
ter ! there was no need to go in search for the nettle. But you 


bore the trial well, and greater trials, I doubt not, you will 
bravely bear. Again I draw the inference that there was a 
brave as well as tender mother bestirring herself under the 
thatch of that cottage. (Pages 146, 147.) 

How great become the most trivial cares of existence such 
as food and clothing when we think for all ! when some great 
principle of patriotism or duty shines over them. The simplest 
pleasure when I am concerned that another shall enjoy it 
how exalted it has become ! 

" The small, familiar, transitory joy, 
Seen in the light of an eternal truth 
The mote the beam!" 

What transmutations take place in this wondrous life of ours ! 
The inexorable need of the hunger-driven animal lo ! it is a 
component part of the sweetest of our Christian charities. (Page 

The same law which rules in these sweet simple scenes 
holds sway in the highest exercises of the philosophic 

Ada. How could the merely pleasurable awake us into in- 
tense thought? Or how could intense and anxious thought 
rank amongst the merely pleasurable ? As well hope to drive 
the night out of the twenty-four hours, as drive it out of the in- 
most recesses of our thought. 

Sandford. One might say that it is this infinite night, which 
seems to surround our little globe, that throws an undying inter- 
est on its petty transactions and transitory passions. 

Ada. Speaking of my own experience, thought has been less 
happy as my horizon of thought has extended. I suffered from 
many a nightmare when I was a child, but I have suffered more 
in later times when the dream was fading away not always 
into the light of the morning. 

Sandford. Yet I am sure that you would not contract your 
horizon. We want some word to express that happiness which 
is not pleasure. 

Ada. Music expresses it to me ; I know no other language 
that does. No ! I would not relinquish on any account what 


little has been granted me of intellectual vision. Come blind- 
ness of the eye rather ! I do not envy the placidity of men 
and women of manifestly contracted understandings. I might 
as well envy (as I have heard some foolish people say they did) 
the still more placid lives of our domestic animals. I delight to 
contemplate I have no wish to imitate the life of any sort 
of tabby. My cat enjoys her existence in common with me up 
to a certain point. When in the winter evening I draw the 
easy-chair towards the fire, she couches before me on the rug. 
We both enjoy the light, the warmth, the softness, the repose, 
and for a moment I distinctly congratulate myself on this per- 
fect cat-like felicity. But this pleasant state of things must be, 
with me, the condition only for some higher enjoyment. I 
must converse with a friend, I must read books, I must think 
my thoughts, I must lose myself in their labyrinth. Puss, on 
the rug, stops where I begin feels all the peace, the comfort, 
and the warmth, and stops there perfectly content. I see her 
close her eyes and open them again, quite satisfied that every- 
thing about her is as stationary as herself. Well, I will not envy 
puss. I will take, by sympathy, her little contented life into 
my own, and so enrich my being with one more kindly senti- 
ment. This is all that I will do, whether the puss lies at my 
feet, in her own fur, upon the rug, or whether she sits, in mob- 
cap or pretty ringlets, upon the chair before me. (Pages 224, 

But let us now revert to that stubborn and perplexing 
theme, that which we call moral evil, the conscious and 
wilful wrong-doing of man. At this point it becomes im- 
possible to do justice to our author by fragmentary cita- 
tions ; his view is so different from the treatment long 
familiar in theology, that partial quotation can convey it 
but imperfectly, and the reader must be referred to the 
book itself. To the statement already cited, this may 
here be added : 

That which, amongst animals or idiots, is mere hurt and in- 
jury, becomes moral evil, becomes crime or sin, to intelligent 
man occupied with the interests of society or the presumed judg- 


merits of God. Evil, therefore, becomes moral evil how ? by 
the development of human reason. And a pleasure-giving act 
becomes moral goodness by the same development of intelli- 
gence. We have not here to speak of any absolutely new pas- 
sion ; what has converted evil into moral evil is the elevation of 
other parts of bur nature. The intentional acts of men become 
moral evil because they are performed or contemplated by 
beings capable of moral judgments. Whether you pronounce 
these judgments to be the result of a special moral faculty, or 
describe them as the reason judging for the welfare of the 
whole community, it is still sufficiently plain that evil becomes 
moral evil by the addition of these judgments. It is the result 
of this higher or peculiar development of the human mind that 
to injure another, under certain circumstances, becomes moral 
evil. We see by this sjmple statement the utter impossibility of 
ascribing simple pain or evil to the Creator of the world, and 
moral evil to some other and diabolic agent. The evil being 
there, the conversion of it into moral evil marked our advance- 
ment. (Page 174.) 

What, in the nature of things, is founded on experience, must 
be preceded by the requisite experience. If a race of thinking 
beings is to act from a rule of reason or intelligence that is, 
from generalized experience there must have been a process 
of thought or experiment carried on, and carried on through 
several generations. Man injures himself and his fellow-man 
by his ignorance and passion. From many ill results of these 
he learns temperance, he learns equity. These virtues are, 
from their very nature, to be learnt from the experience of good 
and evil, and will be learnt gradually. Turn the subject how 
you will, moral good could not exist unless its counterpart of 
moral evil also existed, or had existed. This truth is self-evi- 
dent, and yet it seems to be overlooked by those who repeatedly 
perplex themselves by asking, How could God be the author of 
moral evil ? The great fact that ought to arrest their attention 
is that God has been the author of a moral being. He has so 
arranged the circumstances of life, and the powers and propen- 
sities of man, that the reason or judgment cultivated in this 
scene of pain and pleasure produces for us the sentiments of 
merit and duty. (Page 176.) 


With the idea of moral evil is closely connected the 
question of the punishments inflicted by society, and the 
punishments attributed to God. Here our author is at 
his best. And here again we must refer the reader to 
" Gravenhurst " itself, from which we borrow little more 
than a fragment. 

God, then, is the author of moral evil in what way ? By 
a development of the reason of man He has enabled him to com. 
pare conduct with conduct, result with result enabled him to 
approve and condemn. 

All this is very clear. But why, then, it is asked, does God 
punish moral evil, if He created it ? 

There are two theories abroad on the nature of divine punish- 

If the divine punishments (whether judicial, or consisting of 
penalties brought out by the operation of the laws already estab- 
lished) have for their end the guidance of men, and of societies 
of men, here or hereafter, then these divine punishments are but 
means to carry on the progressive development of the human 
species. The whole scheme is still in harmony in all its parts. 
There is no difficulty in God's both creating and punishing moral 
evil. He creates it by the additional intelligence He gives to 
man ; that is, He has raised in man a desire to combat evil. He 
fosters or enlightens that desire by affixing penalties where man 
has declined this combat. 

If, according to another theory, God punishes sin simply be- 
cause it is sin simply from a supposed repugnance or hostility 
to moral evil, without any regard to the results of punishment 
then I admit that it is impossible to reconcile such notions of 
God's justice with the fact that God % is the Creator of the world. 
But this last theory of divine punishment is not, I believe, the 
one generally received. 

Perhaps in the general mind there is some confused notion of 
retributive justice, which would be found difficult to reconcile 
with the faith equally general that God made all mankind, and 
the whole of our humanity. But the theory that God, from the 
necessity of his nature, must punish sin as sin, without regard 
to the beneficent result of the punishment itself, is one which 


would be only formally set forth by a peculiar class of theolo- 
gians. It matters not, however, whether that class of theologians 
be large or small ; it is a theory utterly irreconcilable with the 
belief in one supreme, creative, and beneficent Intelligence. 

The sentiment of remorse is debated between the Vicar 
and Sandford. 

Vicar. There is justice as well as benevolence in the charac- 
ter of God. It is character as well as happiness for which God 
creates us. The conscience of each man tells him that he lies 
open to deserved punishment to punishment which has not 
necessarily any reference to his own happiness or the happiness 
of others. No guilty man feels that he ought to be punished for 
the benefit that will follow from his punishment ; enough, he de- 
serves it. 

Sandford. Most certainly a criminal who has broken the laws 
of God or man, and knows that a grave penalty hangs over him, 
has quite enough to occupy his attention for the time ; quite 
enough in this one association between his crime and its punish- 
ment. That this one association should take instant and full 
possession of his mind requires no psychological explanation. 

Let such a man, however, have leisure to grow calm, and let 
him be told that his punishment can answer no good purpose 
whatever, and he will be the first to exclaim that it is a needless 
cruelty to punish him. . . . 

Vicar. ... I want you to dive into the recesses of a man's 
conscience to fasten upon his free-will, and on the self-accusa- 
tion that follows upon a voluntary wrong. A man who has wil- 
fully broken the law feels that he is a culprit, and if you pardon 
him, he still feels that he is a culprit, and deserves the punish- 
ment of one. , 

Sandford. I do dive so far as I am able into the recesses 
of the conscience-stricken mind. I find there an emotion of ter- 
ror that I cannot possibly trace to anything but some threat 
issued by man, or supposed to be issued from God. This cannot 
be a feeling springing up in the solitary mind ; the individual 
mind does not produce the threat and the emotion both. 

No man fears a punishment from God unless he has been 
taught something about that punishment : and his fear of man 
depends on the nature of his relation to his fellow-men. 


This terror of the conscience, therefore, lies in the strong as- 
sociation between certain acts and certain threatenings, more or 
less precise. Nor can we be surprised at the absorbing char- 
acter of the emotion, since a criminal has brought down upon 
himself the penalties of the law, the hatred of his neighbours, 
and the apprehension of the supernatural punishment of God. 
(Pages 270, 271.) 

It is obvious how the idea of merit, as well as that of 
guilt, loses much of its former significance under the 
philosophy of this school. The charge is brought by its 
opponents that with this change of view goes a loss of 
moral energy. But that it may combine a charity of 
judgment with ardor against vice and humility in virtue, 
many instances might be given. Let this passage here 
suffice : 

We owe all to Heaven even our virtues. I have always felt 
a certain timidity in dealing out the requisite censures against 
men who have been led into error by hot, impetuous tempers, 
who probably thirsted after pleasures and excitements which to 
me and others were no temptations at all. If, when I was a 
young man at the university, I led a tranquil, temperate, and 
studious life, I feel that I should be something of a hypocrite 
were I to claim any merit for this. Such was the only life I 
cared to lead. I hated noise. I preferred fresh air to breath- 
ing tobacco-smoke fresh from the mouths of other men. This 
alone was enough to keep me much in my own rooms. The 
wine-party was simply detestable. The morning headache had 
no charms for me. Bacchus amongst his grapes and his satyrs 
may be a classic subject of art : out of the canvas he is very 
much of a beast. I have found men wittier as well as wiser 
when they were quite sober. 

Happy those to whom temperate passions have been given ! 
I have known young men absurdly and even hypocritically 
boastful of their ungovernable feelings. They, for their part, 
are all flame ! They are all fool ! What is a man worth unless 
he is master of himself ? unless reason, and not passion, is sit- 
ting at the helm ?. And is not temperance the very conservator 


of that youth they prize so much which perhaps, indeed, they 
have not yet learned to prize half enough ? (Page 286.) 

To turn to another phase of the subject, our author 
divides what we know as " evils " into two classes, the 
remediable, in overcoming which consists human prog- 
ress ; and the irremediable, as one of which he instances 
the inexorable limit upon man's knowledge, the hopeless 
inequality between what he longs to know and what it is 
possible for him to know. 

The state of the case, as put by the most desponding thinkers, 
is this : That while on these great subjects truth is not to be 
discovered, some men, or perhaps most men, at some period of 
their lives, believe they have discovered it. It is necessary to 
assume this, because if all men came to the same conclusion 
that search was unavailing, then the discrepancy between our 
wishes and our powers (which is here made the subject of 
lamentation) would cease, and men would live contented with 
their ignorance. 

Attempts " to think the unthinkable " are not incessantly 
made but on the assumption that some men believe that they 
succeed where others perceive failure to be inevitable. A mix- 
ture of doubt and faith in the same society is therefore the 
final condition of things in which we are landed by those who 
take the most melancholy view of human knowledge. This 
mixture of doubt and faith is, at least, favourable to intellectual 
energy and our highest life. 

The man who stands before Nature, and earnestly interro- 
gates her and his own soul as to what they can report of God, 
is in a most solemn attitude of mind, but not necessarily a pain- 
ful one. Let the response be uncertain, he still would not re- 
linquish that attitude of mind under any bribe earth could 
offer ; he would not relinquish it unless he would prefer to be 
a beast rather than a man. He is man preeminently when he 
stands in that attitude. (Pages 193, 194.) 

Irremediable, inevitable, death at last awaits all. Yet, 
would we wish to perpetuate this earthly existence ? 


How much of life should we lose if we lived perpetually ! 
How stagnant would have been the condition of man ! . . . I 
cannot conceive that this middle-aged immortal would ever 
keenly anticipate the future. Perhaps wonder itself would fade 
away from the face of things. And that eternity beyond life 
which death forever points to, though he points to it so silently, 
would, of course, cease to be the great stimulant of man's sub- 
limest thoughts and emotions. Nothing could be so fatal to 
human happiness as a terrestrial immortality. (Pages 189, 190.) 

Clear knowledge of a future existence is not given to 
us, but the anticipation of a hereafter is a part of our hu- 
man constitution. 

The Vicar. People say of you that while you would teach 
us admiration of this progressive world, you would shut us up 
within the limits of a mundane existence, would forbid us to 
aspire beyond it. 

Sandford. I would teach that this life is worthy of our love 
and admiration, and that God through our own efforts that is, 
of course, through the efforts we are constituted to make, is 
still rendering it more excellent and more happy. But I have 
never said that the always imperfect knowledge and happiness 
of man would confine his aspirations within the circuit of our 
mortal existence. These aspirations, vague as they may be, I 
take to be an inextinguishable portion of our humanity. 

Our earth bends down to itself our rounded sky, makes an 
ethereal dome for itself out of the infinite space beyond. So it 
is with our humanity ; it rounds a heaven for itself out of the 
infinite and the eternal. And just as we know that the sky is, 
and yet know that the form it takes is due to our earth ; in 
like manner we may know that the eternal life is, and yet feel 
that the form it assumes to us is necessarily due to our present 
humanity. It is a complement to that humanity is conceived 
by some relation to it. 

Ada. Take away the earth, and there would be no rounded 
sky; take away the sky, and earth would be like an under- 
ground clod which is inhabited by insects. (Pages 279, 280.) 

It is the very nature of our progress in one direction to 
lead us to higher aspirations than earth can gratify. 


Mansfield. Death will be always with us, and the loss of 
those we loved. There will be spirits always to beckon us on- 
wards to another life. 

God will be ever with us. And when man has ceased to fear 
his fellow-man, he will dare to think nobly and rationally of 

Ada. It is my faith that God will raise all his intelligent 
creatures finally to the knowledge and love of himself. This, 
and nothing less than this, can I accept as the end and purpose 
of creation. 

I must be permitted to think that the distresses of human 
life have, in part at least, their explanation in this, that they 
carry the mind onward to another world. 

After all our generalizations, life is sad to many of us. 
Glorious things there are in heaven and in earth, but what says 
our poetess ? 

" Two little tears suffice to hide them all ; " 

and age after age men have consoled themselves and each other 
by the hope of some compensating happiness hereafter. (Pages 

Ada quotes Tennyson's familiar verses the hope that 
every winter shall change to spring, though the hope is 
uttered by " an infant crying in the night ; " and Sand- 
ford responds : " Let the little children that are crying 
for the light throw their arms around each other's neck, 
and nestle the closer for the darkness that surrounds 
them : so will they best subdue the terrors of the night." 

Of whatever further state may await us, one charac- 
teristic we know with perfect assurance. 

Ada. But if we cannot understand how the criminal is pun- 
ished in a future world through the natural consequences of 
his criminality, we can understand how the cultivation of piety 
of love to God and man will be there, as here, its own exceed- 
ing great reward. This cultivates us for heaven for the abode 
of whatever spirits stand nearer than we do to the throne of God. 
All the physical universe is brought together, as some astron- 
omer writes, " by the one common element of light ; " and in 


like manner all the spiritual universe must be bound together 
by the one common element of love that love which is also 
reason. (Pages 278, 279.) 

As to the tie between a present and future self, this 
striking thought occurs. 

Ada. Some recollection of this present terrestrial being must, 
I suppose, remain, otherwise how recognize our personal iden- 
tity, or the continuance of our existence ? But I recoil from the 
idea that we shall be always turning over the pages of our mem- 
ory, and reading the frivolous, blundering, incoherent entries in 
it. Strange brain-book! a blotted register, whose leaves turn 
by some magic of their own, and open too often at the place of 
least pleasant reading. Most mysterious brain-book ! And we 
see that here in this life it becomes defaced, and. torn, and 
stained, and scribbled over, till nothing further can be regis- 
tered, and the leaves turn slowly, and open only at a few of the 
earliest pages. Well, would you have this brain-book restored 
as some expect and ask for every word of it made legible, 
every page of it opening, in its turn, throughout eternity ? Oh, 
better far some new brain-book, to be filled with a nobler story ! 
Who would wish to be reading eternally this old one ? 

Sandford. Immortality is a great hope, but a dim concep- 
tion. We only risk our hope when we attempt to render its nar 
ture distinct. Our ideal acts beneficently upon the actual and 
present existence, because it is not another complete life that 
we, in fact, depict to ourselves, but only some isolated sentiment 
of this life, that we glorify, and project, and follow, we know 
not how, into eternity. (Pages 228, 229.) 

And here is the true application of the supreme hope : - 

Preparation for another life! The idea is grand, none 
grander, if you have a high and large meaning for this prepara- 
tion, if every beneficent activity, if every noble joy, if every ex- 
alted sentiment, is your preparation for eternity. The end of a 
thousand lives is just this, to live, under God, our highest life, 
to develop all our capacities for knowledge, happiness, goodness. 
Preparation for another world, in this sense, cannot be separated 
from progress or from happiness in this. It is identical with 


our highest enjoyment of life, with our noblest efforts to ad- 
vance. (Page 326.) 

Nowhere in " Gravenhurst," nor in any other of our 
author's writings, is much notice taken of the heaviest 
and the commonest of human sorrows the sorrow 
of bereavement. It is said indeed that the fear of our 
friend's death gives far greater pain than the fear of our 
own, and a few of the words we have quoted breathe a 
tender consolation and hope. But the theme is little 
dwelt upon. The brevity of its treatment is in contrast 
with the full recognition given to the suffering which 
flows from the felt limitation of human knowledge. And 
yet, nowhere does the philosophy of " Gravenhurst " 
admit of a richer application than here. Of no sorrow 
is the beneficent effect more traceable than of bereave- 
ment. No other so inspires the hope of a hereafter; 
none so softens ; none has such power to deepen and 
purify affection, to fuse it with moral aspiration, and 
to widen it into a larger sympathy. " Blessed are they 
that mourn " true, might our philosopher of " Graven- 
hurst " say, for the very meaning of comfort is unknown 
except to those who have mourned. 

The attitude of our author toward the Christian church 
may be shown by one or two passages. 

Mansfield. When I returned to England, nothing struck me 
more than the increased zeal and earnestness in all parties 
throughout the domain of religious inquiry. But that which 
seemed to me most noteworthy was the approximation between 
a philosophical and critical section of the Christian church and 
those who avowedly trust themselves to the speculations of human 
reason. It seemed to me that there was a small party almost 
prepared to yield the principle of Revelation, if they could be 
assured that certain great religious truths would be generally 
acknowledged as founded on human reason. On the other hand, 
a grave and pious scepticism had arisen amongst us, such as 
feels its responsibility to God and man, and asks itself anxiously 

" GRA VENHURST. 1 " 297 

how it is to take charge of society, if society should be thrown 
upon its hands. I could not but observe how much there is of 
the believer in our modern sceptic, how much of the sceptic in 
some of our modern believers. (Page 249.) 

Sandford. If so various a country as England could put for- 
ward its model, or " representative man," how would you de- 
scribe him ? He would certainly be a Christian, but a Christian 
who has a zeal for promoting all the temporal interests of soci- 
ety whether it is a system of drainage or a system of educa- 
tion. And astonishing indeed it is to behold the number of 
charitable, municipal, national undertakings, in which our repre- 
sentative Christian takes the lead. We do honour to his piety, 
but we demand that it occupy itself with the good, healthy, 
happy life of this terraqueous globe. We have very little re- 
spect for the solitary raptures of saints, looking upward into the 
skies, if nothing comes of it for this lower world. Such solitary 
raptures we rather excuse than admire. Vague exultations fol- 
lowed by vague depressions we leave them undisturbed. But 
not to saintship of this description does England look for its sal- 
vation. By all means, let this or that gentle youth sit apart, 
with books of devotion on his knees sit there in ecstatic, hope- 
ful, amazed condition of mind, if such to him be the best and 
most innocent mode of passing his existence. Innocent it is, and 
therefore let it be undisturbed. But England thinks it has other 
employment for its youth, and looks for help to another species 
of piety. (Page 289.) 

Ada. There was a voice in the wilderness, and it cried, Re- 
pent ! And there followed another voice, still more divine, and 
it said, Love ! And the tempest arose, the tempest of wars, 
invasions, revolutions, and it carried these two voices round 
the world, and to this moment these divine words are every- 
where reechoed, Repent and Love. Repent that you may be 
pure, and capable of loving. 

To grieve for our failings, and to love each other, this is a 
teaching worthy of being called divine. Heaven's authority for 
the preeminence of the sentiment of Love I think much of this. 
Love is, indeed, the very passion of the reason ; for reason, from 
its nature, can desire only good. Still there are daring moods, 
and there are daring reasoners, occasionally exalting Hate and 


Revenge to an almost equal eminence. See how some sweet ser- 
viceable Christian soul takes upon itself to love all the afflicted 
all, even the guilty. Wherever there is sickness and distress, or 
crime, which is a sickness of the soul, the Christian comes if 
possible to heal, always to soothe and commiserate. You will say 

no, not either of you, but some stern jurisprudential moralist 
will say that this universal charity tends to obliterate the dis- 
tinctions between virtue and vice that it counteracts the moral 
opinion of society, which demands that love and kindly service 
be withdrawn from the criminal. But this universal love, re- 
member, is love with tears in its eyes love that will not cease 
to weep and protest till the guilty one has turned from his guilt 

till he too can repent, and can love. Nay, the Christian is 
the true philosopher ; for shining through all his inevitable cen- 
sure of the criminal is his deep compassion that the man should 
be a criminal deep compassion, which he recognizes as a di- 
vine sentiment, which he hears in the last word God has ut- 
tered out of eternity to his suffering and bewildered creatures. 

To love is the great glory, the last culture, the highest hap- 
piness; to be loved is little in comparison. Amongst our 
strangely complicated relationships of life, it often seems as if 
the loved one had all the advantage. To him the service, for 
him the sacrifice ; from him, perhaps, no return. You pity 
some deluded mother, impoverishing herself for a reprobate son, 
who laughs as he spends her little hoard. Do not pity ad- 
mire rather ; she is happier than a thousand reprobates. She 
loves. Oh, if One really existed, as I and others believe, who 
loved all the world, and in some inexplicable way suffered for 
its salvation, he was a God, at least, in his sublime happiness. 
Nor should I say that it was a " religion of sorrow " that such a 
love had inaugurated. (Pages 259, 260.) 

Where, now, in briefest word, have our philosophizings 
brought us ? How do we return from them to the view 
of the actual world and our own business therein ? 

I think it well to see that it is by overcoming evil, as well 
moral evil as natural evil, that we rise in the scale of creation. 
This very fact convinces us that evil was not brought here other- 
wise than beneficently is, in fact, part of the scheme of a be- 


nevolent Creator. This may aid us, too, in supporting manfully 
the unavoidable, and in combating manfully all remediable evils. 
He who seeks truth and loves goodness has God upon his side. 

I think it well to see that the higher needed the lower, that 
we may learn to respect the whole of our humanity. Even that 
which we have learnt to dispense with may have been a neces- 
sary help to our present elevation. I think it well to see that 
Human Society becomes the mould for the individual man born 
into it, and to see, also, how this mould itself becomes improved 
by those stronger minds which can advance upon the education 
they have received. Such truths as these enlighten each man 
on the debt, and on the duty, he owes to society. They also 
show Humanity, as a whole, standing in the presence of a be- 
neficent Creator, but one whose love exacts our effort, our 
endurance, under whom pain and terror ofttimes do the offices 
of love. (Page 324.) 

All who battle for the good are, in the language of a natural 
piety, the children of God. They are ranged on the side of 
goodness, or the production of happiness, and they also receive 
into their hearts, as their indisputable reward, the highest senti- 
ments of happiness. (Page 180.) 

It is a noble life in which this contest is bravely and wisely 
sustained. Worlds there may be where there is only pleasure, 
and only goodness, but we can form no conception of such a 
state of things ; or so far as we can form any conception, it is a 
languid pleasure and a torpid goodness that rises to our imagi- 
nation. It is not our supreme wisdom to pass life dreaming of a 
world where there will be no evil ; it is highest wisdom, individ- 
ually and socially, to do battle for the good, so that this mingled 
existence which is alone intelligible to us may put on all the 
glory it is capable of. From this contest we win our felicity and 
our progress, and the contest itself is a great and enduring hap- 
piness, which runs through all the ages of mankind. All that is 
energetic and noble savours of this contest. Aye, even what is 
tenderest in human life comes out of some struggle between 
good and evil. Even our very piety springs from it. (Pages 
139, 140.) 

Do not ask for a world without evil. Seek rather to know 
and rightly appreciate this our own dark-bright existence, and 


enter, heart and soul, into the old warfare for the Good ! (Page 

At the outset of William Smith's life its purpose 
seemed fitly summed up in Charles Kingsley's phrase, 
kt Given self, to find God." The deepest finding lay in 
that fidelity to moral good which he never forsook. But 
the intellectual quest was long and arduous. The barrier 
to intellectual peace lay in the seeming contradiction in- 
volved in the existence of evil in a divinely ordered world. 
In " Gravenhurst " we have at last an interpretation of evil 
as the servant of good. It is an interpretation that only 
became possible when the light of modern knowledge had 
been thrown on the procedure of the universe. Perplex- 
ities remain and doubtless always will remain. But great 
is the advance, glad as morning is the light ! The seeker, 
" sublimely meek," who entered the clouds and darkness 
of Sinai, comes back with a prophet's message. 



(From the Memoir.} 

IN the May of 1862 " Gravenhurst " was published, and 
we went to Switzerland for five months, dividing the time 
between Bex, Zermatt, Sixt, Chamounix, and Unterseen. 
It was our custom to settle down quietly at one place after 
another, to get its loveliness by heart, and to be free from 
that ruffling of equanimity bad weather may entail on the 
rapid tourist. Our fortnight at Zermatt stands out very 
prominently in my memory. The keen air and the kind 
of scenery exhilarated my husband to the utmost. In a 
manuscript book of his I find, very hastily jotted down : 
" Two short, long weeks and all my future, such is your 
share, Zermatt, of my life. Nowhere the torrents so 
grand, the snow-hills more beautifully set. I cannot de- 
scribe the scene on the Gorner Grat but I recur to it 
and keep it alive. All pleasure flowers the English 
hare-bell looks up from my ankle, the white Pinguicula 
(as if dropt from the skies upon its stalk, on which it rests 
rather than grows), shy as the violet and more delicate. 
You look up from the flower and down into the ravine. 
I tremble as I look below, one false step and all the 
beauty is gone forever, gone for me ! And see, the tor- 
rent-stream is so safe, just here is its low bed scooped in 
the solid rock ; it is so distant as to seem quite silent. 
And then the village, and the cows, and the goats, and the 
church and the bells ; a great deal of the praying here 
seems done by the bells, and not badly." 


What rapturous memories of our long walks those few 
words waken ! At Zermatt, too, we made an interesting 
and enduring friendship. We were there early in June, 
and the Hotel du Mont Cervin had only two other in- 
mates, a young husband and wife, and their sweet child of 
three. The visitors' book gave their names ; they were 
New-Englanders. We never thought it worth while to 
record ours, and hence in the course of two or three days 
Mr. Loomis, who discerned something remarkable about 
the man, asked William what his was. " The commonest 
of all English names, William Smith." " Yes, but I like 
it for the sake of a favourite author." And then I broke 
in, inquiring, with a strong presentiment as to what the 
answer would be, which of the numberless Smiths he al- 
luded to? "The author of ' Thorndale.' " It was a great 
pleasure to me to say, " This is he." Mr. Loomis had 
with him the American edition of the book, which my hus- 
band saw with interest. So began a friendship and corre- 
spondence that were kept up to the last. 

We had had some vague idea of spending the winter 
in Switzerland, but the illness of my dear father recalled 
us. The winter was spent at Weston-super-Mare, where 
we knew no one where from the 14th of October to the 
17th of February we only spoke to each other ; and never 
were we more cheerful than under these circumstances. 
The place itself had not much interest country and sea 
were alike tame ; but the beautiful sunsets in front of our 
large window were a constant source of pleasure, and we 
had Switzerland to remember. But, indeed, however ec- 
static my husband's enjoyment of Swiss glories, it was far 
less exceptional than his unfailing delight in the familiar 
shows of earth and sky. It never was more true than of 
him that 

" The poet hath the child's sight in his breast, 
And sees all new. What oftenest he has viewed, 
He views with the first glory." 


As usual, during these peaceful months William was 
thoroughly occupied, not only in writing for the magazine, 
but with psychological subjects. In the manuscript book 
that at that time lay upon his desk, I find much jotted 
down under the head of " Knowing and Feeling." But the 
one thing in him that I regretted was his habit of writing 
so many of his thoughts illegibly, even to himself. He 
would often deplore his own way of working, extracts 
made, line of argument traced out, to be referred to here- 
after, and when wanted undecipherable ! When a new 
manuscript book was begun, there would he resolve to do 
better ; but habit was too strong, the pen flew too fast, 
the writing (in his letters so delicate and clear) baffled 
the writer's own patience. 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

ZERMATT, June 18, 1862. 

This is the place of places ! No mountain that I ever 
saw equals the Matterhorn in his hold over one's mind. 
Read about him, I beg, in Murray. How he rears him- 
self up how when the clouds come round him it takes 
your breath away every time that he emerges . to find that 
his head can indeed be there so incredibly high ! . . . On 
our way here, at Visp, I heard as I believed pouring rain 
all night, but did not like to get up and verify, fearing to 
disturb William. At five we were up. It was the river, 
not the rain, I had heard ; clouds were rising ; guides 
promised fine weather. We were in our saddles at seven. 
How you would have enjoyed it ! I soon lost all sense of 
nervousness, and indeed there is nothing to be the least 
nervous about. I love precipices, and to stretch out my 
arms over a gorge with a torrent at the bottom. The 
nine hours' ride was one ecstasy of enjoyment; the day 
perfect, the horse an angel the saddle an arm-chair. 
Murray gives one no idea of the grandeur of the scenery 
the whole way to Zermatt. What with perpendicular and 


richly colored rocks, hills wooded sometimes to their tops, 
and overlooked by one white summit aftfcr another, the 
river roaring far below, the flowers by the wayside, the 
butterflies that crossed one's path ; what with the gran- 
deur and the beauty, and all of it " reflected from the eyes 
that one loves," I may say life culminated that day. And 
yet the next was I think better, for William was in my 
room at five, wild with spirits, feeling the air gives him 
new life, and wanting instantly to be off on another expe- 
dition. Accordingly off we set to the Schwarzsee (read 
about it) and oh, the glory of Monte Rosa, cloudless to 
the summit, and the fairy beauty of the flowers ! Coming 
down, we got wrapped in clouds. I liked to see them 
rising like smoke, so rapidly out of the valley, veiling the 
mountains, then all melting away suddenly. I would not 
have been without them, though it was very cold. I have 
got to like the feeling of going up-stairs on horseback. 
We had one of the sweet fellows who brought us over 
the day before, and a lovely youth of eighteen as guide. 
Fuchs (such was the dear horse's name) wriggled so de- 
lightfully up great slabs of rock ! There was no one in 
the great hotel but an American Congregational minister 
and his wife and child he a remarkably handsome 
young man in delicate health, she healthy and kindly look- 
ing, with loving eyes, and a quite caressing smile. What 
walks we had Saturday and Sunday, what snow moun- 
tains we saw the Twins and the Lyskamm (almost as 
high as Monte Rosa), towering above the beautiful Gorner 
Glacier, and a fringe of fir-trees for foreground, and such 
a sky ! And then think what it is to see William wild 
with health and mirth, and full of the most bewitching 
conceptions. We have walked every day in spite of the 
weather, which broke up on Monday. Tuesday we went 
to see the river Visp break out of its icy cradle, so weird 
and grand and desolate, with the mist of rain hanging 
round. Yesterday I was thinking about other things, and 


down I went on a slab of rock, not knocking my head, but 
jarring it terribly. It aches this morning, but I 'm quite 
well. . . . We talk of going to Sixt, and there spending 
perhaps a month or six weeks. We must settle some- 
where where I can get on with my translation, for a letter 
from Mr. Strahan announces two other books, and also 
that I may write two other " Photographic Sketches " 
so one must be a little fixed. 

VALLEY OF SIXT, July 31, 1862. 

The hotel at Sixt is an extraordinary old place. It was 
once a monastery but I have already described it to the 
dear grandparents, and will only say of it that it is the 
most haunted looking place I have ever been in, with its 
low arched windowless corridor of 120 feet, into which the 
bedrooms open ; and the first evening, when we were the 
only persons in the house I could not let your uncle Wil- 
liam leave me for a moment, such was my nervous con- 
dition. Half the building is utterly dilapidated ; there are 
underground dark places, and an old crypt communicating 
with the church which at night seemed to me unutterably 
gloomy. However, our room was large and charming. 
Nothing can exceed the loveliness of the scenery loveli- 
ness and grandeur. Three weeks have passed away very 
happily. We had once a char-a-banc with an enchanting 
mule, and a kind one, generally they are vicious, and I 
cannot express my affectionate admiration for fear of being 
bit but with that exception we have contented ourselves 
with long walks, for mules are an expensive luxury. The 
country people here are a particularly pleasant and con- 
versable race. I seldom walk alone without a long chat 
with some one, and a chapter of family history. They go 
much to raris from this lovely valley in which it is 
quite difficult to believe in Paris, or any large town with 
its unrest and turmoil. This is the land of waterfalls. 
There are six really fine ones within an easy walk. Of 


these three gush out of the ground, fed by some tarn or 
by the glacier on the mountain top far away. Some days 
I have sat at home to translate, while my dear one took a 
ramble alone. Some charming walks we have taken to- 
gether. Once I went off alone at half -past six to an ele- 
vation several thousand feet above Sixt. In short, it has 
been very delightful the weather glorious the loftiest 
mountains cloudless, seeming to " melt and throb away 
at the sight of the great sky," and lit up at sunset with 
intense rare color. ... In this large airy room we have 
never suffered from excessive temperature. There has 
been but one drawback the fleas ! sometimes I have 
been tempted to be quite low about them. I often catch 
two enemies at the same moment with each hand eight 
or ten a day is the constant average. 

Chamounix, /Sunday afternoon. We left Sixt Friday 
evening in the drollest vehicle you ever saw, like a thing 
in Hogarth's prints a car for two with a canopy, so : 
[picture] . It is almost on the ground, but very easy, and 
we had a darling horse, who went at a famous pace and 
never seemed at all tired. Our canopy kept out a burn- 
ing sun. We left Samoens at half past five yesterday, 
and the beauty of the peaked, bold mountains, all lilac 
haze in the morning light, and the rich foliage on their 
slopes, is not to be told. So much for effects of light and 
shade we had thought that drive rather dull which now 
kept us speechless with entranced ecstasy. And then the 
dew on the grass, and on our spirits! So fresh, so 
happy ! When we got to St. Martin, Mont Blanc was 
cloudless in his immensity. William lay on the ground 
the two hours, lost to all sense of fatigue and hunger. I, 
a lower creature, hunted and slew the last fleas of Sixt, 
and ate an omelette. We had quite a touching little part- 
ing at Sixt, Friday evening, the sweet Marie, the maid, 
so sorry to lose us, and the washerwoman coming out to 


shake hands and offer an oleander and a most fragrant 
rose as a " souvenir de Sixt " sweet Sixt ! We left St. 
Martin at about one o'clock. From Chede the rise was 
long and steep, and we walked a good deal beneath the 
most burning of suns, but there was a breeze and often 
shade, and the scenery the whole way to Servoz was be- 
yond description. From Servoz a dear mule was taken to 
assist our famous horse and we walked no more. What 
the glory was ! But some miles before we reached Cha- 
mounix I was too tired to feel anything. William, on the 
contrary, all soul, and all thrilled with the vast, simple, 
cold, stern grandeur of this valley, as peak after peak 
seemed to fall into line and range themselves under the 
white banner of the monarch mountain. There are as 
many mules here as people, and such immense, sleek, de- 
lightful fellows. But they are very expensive, and we 
will see what we can walking. To-day I have been to 
church. There is a very pretty English church here, and 
a most earnest, elderly man preached. William has had 
a day of rapture, on the grass, looking at Mont Blanc. 
He came in with one of his inspired looks, which so won- 
drously change the aspect of the man. After all, he thinks 
nothing we have seen so grand as this. I infinitely pre- 
fer Zermatt and the marvellous Matterhorn. 


My darling, you see your Zia sits down promptly to 
answer your little note, though it is but a shabby affair. 
I should have liked it to be an impulse and a pleasure to 
write to her, but people are not to be persuaded into 
impulses. However, whatever you might say would be 
thought by me well worth hearing. Your Zia likes to 
hear of small details, of letters received and the like, 
as well as of feelings and thoughts. And for your own 
dear sake remember that the effort made to write a long 
letter leaves a sense of cheerfulness behind that a hasty 


note dashed off never does. Your darling godmother 
writes such pleasant things of you they so thoroughly 
like you and admire your pretty face. This is not the 
least likely to make you vain, any vanity you may have 
being of the pining and rather morbid order that wants 
to be fed up into health ! Mine was always of the same 
nature, and partial appreciation always did me immense 
good. It is only when people rate us a little above our 
true standard that we can come up to it. Oh, it is so 
good, therefore, to love and be loved ! I rejoice more than 
I can say that you should be with two such samples of 
human nature as General and Mrs. Cotton. I am sure 
you must feel your spirits rise as you see what a divine 
thing this earthly life may be made this life which with 
all its exquisite possibilities lies all before you. You were 
at Chester, my dear, this day fortnight, when your Gran 
got a long letter from me, which of course you saw. 1 
have just had an excellent account from her. Dear Gran ! 
She writes in such good spirits and the dear Grandpere 
has been down, she says, several times, and must be mar- 
vellously better, for he speaks of being photographed next 
week. Tell me, my dear one, when you know, your winter 
plans, but meanwhile give nothing a thought but your 
happy visit. I rejoice to believe that dear Edith is quite 
happy with the grandparents. It is pleasant to us all k. 
feel ourselves of use, and of consequence to the daily lives 
of others. I thought Edith so improved in every way. 
It is, I am sure, very good for her to be at Chester all 
her more helpful qualities are called into play. Did I tell 
you I mean, did I tell in my last letter to the Gran - 
what a charming review there had been of " Graveiihurst " 
in the " Revue des Deux Mondes ? " We lead such a 
quiet life here, so different, so contrasted in its circum- 
stances with the social one your sweet godmother leads. 
We do not know a single person, nor shall we during our 
months here speak to any one but to each other ! And yet 


I maintain that we both are very social people. I saw it 
remarked the other day that the most solitary people are 
at the same time the most sociable, and it really is a truth 
though it seems a paradox. I can't say I want anything, 
for that would imply some sadness or discontent, and 
every one of my days is brim-full of happiness. But yet 
if any friend did appear, it would be very charming, too. 
Sometimes we think, how nice to go to Edinburgh, where 
we have so many real friends. . . . Oh, those St. Ber- 
nard dogs ! what precious creatures they must be what 
delicious cheeks they must have how I should kiss 
them ! Are they much attached to their master and mis- 
tress ? There are not many dogs here, not any that I am 
on speaking terms with. I must needs tell you of my 
letters, dear, for unless I record what we have had for din- 
ner the last week, or prose about the books we have been 
reading, or get upon William's perfections, which I am 
always in danger of doing what have I to write about ? 
We are living very economically here. Indeed, we must 
do so, for we have mainly our work to depend upon, and 
that is a precarious thing. I have been employing myself 
in translating one of Victor Hugo's poems, but I dare say 
I shall not get it taken. 



{From the Memoir.) 

IN the spring of 1863, after a little round of visits a 
thing unprecedented with us we found ourselves again 
in the neighborhood of Coniston, attracted thither mainly 
by friends with whom, during our stay at Tent Cottage, 
we had entered into cordial relations, and whom we had 
much enjoyed meeting during our Swiss tour. One of 
these friends was an especially congenial companion to 
my husband, and his correspondent to the end. When- 
ever he had received any new or vivid delight from art or 
nature, or whenever a political or religious movement had 
excited in him more than usual interest, I always knew 
that the sheets of note-paper I saw spread out on the lit- 
tle desk were destined for Miss Rigbye. She will not, I 
know, object to my quoting here her earliest impression of 
him : 

" I like to recall the first time I saw him, and the feel- 
ing that his joyous, radiant expression awakened in me 
something of surprise, and wonder, and pleasure. I re- 
member distinctly recognizing that it was something I had 
never seen before." 

During the course of this summer, there fell upon me 
an irreparable blow, the death within one week of both 
beloved parents. But my husband's presence made an- 
guish (as I now understand the word) impossible. A few 
days before her sudden seizure, my mother had said to me, 
" Thank God, my darling, that when I am in my grave 


you will have one to love you as I do ! " She, better than 
any one, would have understood how, having all in him, 
even her loss could not darken life. My joy henceforth 
lacked the complete reflection it had found from her sym- 
pathy, but it was " fulness of joy " still. More than ever 
my company, more than ever tender, my husband seemed 
resolved that my nature should know no want. Part of 
the ensuing winter was spent in Edinburgh amid true 
friends ; the remainder at Brighton. 

The story of her parents' last days was written in a 
letter to be circulated among their friends. From the 
touching story we take two or three passages. 

August 19, 1863. 

[She relates how she was summoned to her parents at 
Chester, her father, for a long time blind and an invalid, 
having suffered a second stroke of paralysis. She found 
him unable to speak, though evidently with clear mind.] 
I believe that he never for a moment expected to recover, 
though when we told him of good symptoms he would 
bow a gracious assent. But that was for our sakes. He 
knew the value of hope to those who attend the sick. 
Meanwhile, as I found that to speak much to him was to 
provoke painful efforts to reply, that he seemed indiffer- 
ent to reading, and that my presence did not soothe him 
more than that of others, I was less taken up with him than 
I had been during my two previous visits, and more con- 
stantly with my own most precious mother. All who know 
me at all know, I think, how intensely I loved her, how in- 
tensely we loved each other. But never in my whole life 
did I appreciate her more than during this last fortnight. 
Everything was cheery and pleasant. She took a hopeful 
view of my dear father's case, trusted she might yet see 
him sitting up a little in his chair, rejoiced in his freedom 
from bodily pain, and made the best of everything. . . . 


During my stay in Chester, the weather was almost with- 
out exception bright, joyous, breezy. My mother and I 
usually took a long walk in the evening. How she en- 
joyed the air, the sunset sky, the waving of the trees be- 
fore the house, the flowers in other people's gardens, the 
noise and laughter of children in the street ! How heav- 
enly her spirit was ! I remarked to many that she was 
more perfect than ever the fine gold seemed to have 
lost all alloy. There were no longer the importunate beg- 
gars besieging the door who had chafed my less confiding 
nature on former occasions. She had all her characteris- 
tic energy of kindness and sympathy, but she had no rest- 
lessness with it. She would lie on the sofa so placidly, 
reading some religious book, or knitting the unfinished 
stocking which is now one of my best treasures. Her ap- 
petite was good ; she enjoyed her dinner, enjoyed her 
bed, enjoyed especially the morning service at the Cathe- 
dral, enjoyed Dr. McNeile's sermon, enjoyed my chat, my 
jokes, enjoyed the gambols of puss and puppy, enjoyed 
my letters which were always hers to read, enjoyed every- 
thing. I think the words " In everything giving thanks " 
would have been her fittest motto. How we talked ! I 
fancy that no one estimated her intelligence quite so cor- 
rectly as I. She had a sweet humility that often kept her 
silent in society, to herself so often her opinion did not 
seem worth giving ; but with me she thought aloud, and I 
was often struck by the breadth and enlightenment of her 
views, and always by the correctness of her taste. Intui- 
tively she discerned the best in character, literature, art. 
I always found her the most attractive of companions. 
Age had not touched one faculty of her mind. I mourn 
her (she was seventy-eight) as I should mourn a contem- 
porary. Yet I thank God that it was so. I would rather 
part with my treasures when treasured most, than be 
weaned from them by any diminution of their excellence. 
I prefer the sharp pang and the perfect memory. Oh, 


how we talked of life and death, and all connected with 
death, for the possibilities of my dear father's case intro- 
duced that theme. The morning I went away (Monday, 
the third) she said, " How I shall miss you," and for a 
second her dear face grieved, " but I don't give myself a 
thought in the matter, and I would not keep you any 
longer from dear William for five hundred pounds." 
The precious angel! [The mother's sudden illness re- 
called the daughter, two days later.] Whether she knew 
me or not I can never be sure never in this world. 
The dear eyes would not, could not, meet mine, the dear 
hand could not return my pressure. There was no evi- 
dence of suffering, and from time to time the sweetest 
smiles played over the face. I think she must have heard 
my voice. One thing she certainly heard I asked dear 
Maria Barker to repeat to her her favourite hymn, the 
hymn she knew by heart : 

" Rock of Ages, cleft for me, 
Let me hide myself in Thee." 

There was a radiance then in the eyes and the sweet 
lips moved, as though joining in that prayer. I think, too, 
she must have been conscious of my unalterable love and 
sorrow, but that may have seemed secondary then. More 
than once she tried to tell us something something 
cheerful, happy, peaceful; that was plain from the ex- 
pression of the face. My arm was under her when the 
long breath, and then the pause, came. Not a struggle, 
not a contortion, not one physical horror. It seemed 
meet that she whose life was so sweet, so imbued with con- 
sideration for others, should even in her dying give no 
one any pain, any memory that they would wish to lose. 
... I left her looking as if my lightest call would waken 
her from that lifelike and most placid sleep, and went at 
once to my dear father's room. What he must have suf- 
fered during that day and night of suspense, when he 


never heard her dear, prompt, helpful step or heard her 
cheering, comforting voice, God alone knows. He knew 
that she was ill ; Brownlow had told him so, told him once 
that she was very ill he feared ; and he must have heard 
occasional sounds of grief, for between the rooms there 
was only the closed door. My dear father ! I went to him, 
kissed him, told him our dearest one was " better now, well 
now." At once he caught the truth. " God have mercy 
mercy ! " he exclaimed, lifting the one hand and 
groaning deeply. That night I sat with him from twelve 
till half past four, and our hearts were, I felt, united most 
closely in their love and sorrow. I talked of her, of all 
her goodness and sweetness, of his value for her. He 
pressed my hand, and the tears kept flowing from the 
sightless eyes. From that moment his patience was pre- 
ternatural. When one thinks of his suffering condition, 
tied and bound by infirmity, one must indeed admire his 
patience throughout, but before she went he had, as was 
inevitable, moments of irritation when we failed to catch 
the meaning that to him was so obvious, but after her de- 
parture there was never one. . . . [From the time of the 
mother's burial, the father failed rapidly.] My father 
perfectly knew his own condition. During the forty-eight 
hours that followed he helped us to nurse him. His hear- 
ing evidently continued acute almost to the end. I thank 
God that it was so, and that he could catch the words of 
our unutterable love, tenderness, and gratitude. I laid 
his hand upon the head of every one of us, his three chil- 
dren and his three grandchildren, and there it rested in a 
silent blessing. We were all with him to the last. Till 
I die I shall remember the scene upon which the dawn 
of Wednesday broke. The dear girls, who would not 
leave him, had fallen asleep, one on each side of him, their 
young flushed faces resting against his head. He lay 
there asleep too, very often comfortably asleep, looking so 
grand and calm; such a venerable head, his measured 


breathing not startling them. They loved him so much 
they had no fear of seeing him die. Their gentle hero- 
ism and self-forgetfulness were indeed very remarkable 
throughout. These were solemn nights and days sol- 
emn, not terrible. He was spared all acute suffering. I 
believe the heavy groans that burst from him at times 
were more of grief for her than because of his own pain. 
He was not restless. Throughout one felt his love and 
sympathy and consideration for us all, felt his conscious- 
ness of our most deep and reverent affection. There was 
no struggle. The face grew paler and paler the breath- 
ing slower. It was half past eleven when his spirit passed 
away. He died one week after her was buried one 
week after her funeral. It is well. One would not if 
one could have kept him here, blind, speechless, widowed. 
But the world seems a changed place to us, and years are 
crowded into one little fortnight. Nothing ages like the 
loss of parents. We may well thank God who spared 
them to us so long, and has given us such blessed recollec- 
tions of them both. 

William Smith 1 to Rev. H. Loomis. 

KESWICK, Oct. 23, 1863. 

I take up the pen instead of one who uses it much bet- 
ter than myself, because my dear Lucy has lately under- 
gone a very severe trial, and she would rather that I told 
you of her bereavements than that she should have to retell 
the sad history herself. ... I was very much interested 
in what you told me of the impression that your great 
civil war makes on the North, or rather the very little 
impression it seems to make on some of the States remote 
from the scene of operations. We, in England, perhaps 
talk and think as much about this terrible war as the in- 
habitants of Boston and New York. It is still the great 

1 Throughout the volume, letters to which the writer's name is not 
prefixed are by Lucy Smith. 


topic of the day or rather of the age with us. Pub- 
lic opinion is of course divided, but I think I am right in 
saying that the majority of those who have thought at all 
upon the subject would agree in these three propositions : 
1. Peace ! Peace ! Peace ! 2. If it must be war, may the 
North conquer ! and out of this dreadful conflict (whether 
as purpose or mere result) may slavery be extinguished ! 
3. For England's own conduct, the strictest neutrality. 
This I think would represent the reflective public opinion. 
The popular sympathy in favor of the South resolves 
itself into an admiration of the pluck, the courage, and 
perseverance of the weaker of the two combatants. If a 
little boy fights a bigger boy than himself and fights him 
well, he will enlist the sympathies of all the boys who are 
looking on. It is thus the South has been undoubtedly 
popular with the multitude. But no reflective politician 
can admire the sort of republic the South desired to estab- 
lish. He could accept it, rather than incur all the evils 
and all the dangers of this tremendous civil war dangers 
I mean to your own political constitution. Yet I think 
on this and other subjects we argue too much in the old 
track. We do not sufficiently consider that the education 
and character of the North American is a new element in 
the calculation. A large standing army may not with 
such a people become the instrument of a despotism. 
And as to the financial part of the question, you may 
give the commercial world of Europe a new lesson on the 
subject of currency, and show that a return to a metallic 
currency is not necessary. But, I am wandering, I fear, 
amongst subjects that must be tedious to you, tedious 
at least to Mrs. Loomis, whom I forget I am also ad- 
dressing. How is dear little Daisy ? Well, I will hope 
and believe. It is odd that though fond of looking at 
children and listening to them at a safe distance I 
do not remember that any other little Daisy ever excited 
in me the wish to have just such a lovable creature for 


one's own. I almost envy you that sweet possession. I 
I am charged with I know not what kind messages 
from Lucy I think I shall fail to express them, so must 
leave you to put them into words. This is a very poor 
substitute for her letter but let it help to keep us in 
your memory. 

[Postscript by L. C. S.] . . . Her death was sweet and 
lovely as her life. I have a precious past, but happiness 
must henceforth be I will not say less, but other than 
it was. When we lose we women at least our par- 
ents, our mother, the sense of youth departs. No count- 
ing of my years, no looking-glass, made me realize how 
far on in life I was while I was her " darling child." She 
died in her perfection of nature, with nothing of age but 
its toleration. 

(From the Memoir.) 

The summer of 1864 was memorable to us, as being 
the first we spent at a house which became almost a 
home ; I refer to Newton Place, in Borrowdale. It was a 
house pleasantly planned, with large windows, and rooms 
lofty in proportion to their size, a house into which 
breeze and sunlight streamed in from the four quarters ; 
with the lake and Skiddaw in front, on either side bold 
wooded crags or soft grassy hills, and between us and the 
latter green meadows, with a river gliding silently through. 
It was a pleasant coincidence that this house had been 
somewhat coveted by me eight years before, when my 
mother and I occupied it for a few weeks ; and that Wil- 
liam, calling upon some friends who tenanted it, had said 
to himself that the drawing-room would make him a de- 
lightful study. And now we shared it. We were able to 
secure it for ourselves from April to December, and we 
had rooms to which we could welcome friends. But I 
will vary my chronicle of our outwardly unbroken life, by 


an extract from his manuscript book of the year, sug- 
gested evidently by the quiet stream we so often watched 
together : 


Beauty here does not owe much to utility. Not many ob- 
jects more beautiful or useful, but the beauty and utility seem 
distinct. The river to a very thirsty man has lost its beauty ; 
and the farmer, who thinks more intensely than any of us of 
irrigation, sees very little of its charm of beauty. This lies in 
its motion, in its light, in its endless variety, and that curve 
which displays more of these, and suggests life and choice of 

All beautiful things grow more beautiful by looking long at 
them. There is a charm of novelty ; there is also the growing 
charm of persistency and repetition ; the eye feeds. Indeed, 
dwell on any object, and the sentiment it is calculated to in- 
spire augments so long as attention is unfatigued. 

This gnat upon the surface, it does not seem to me a life, 
but a fragment of life a joy a motion, nothing more. 

The river by its inundation obliterates itself; by overflow- 
ing becomes mere marsh. I pray that my river here will keep 
its bounds, and not strive to be a lake. 

How endless are the charms of a river! It has ceaseless 
motion, yet it suggests repose ; these blurred shadows of the 
bank and trees are stationary, though the water is ever flowing. 
Motion and shadow ; life and the dream of life ; and the 
whence and the whither. 

The moss just under the stream is kept moist by the water 
and yet shines in the sun. How resplendent a green ! but 
where I see nothing but the bare stones, I find the most fasci- 
nating spectacle. There the river of light is flowing. On the 
surface the water ripples, ripples in the light ; so light and 
shadow course each other in mimic flow along the bottom of the 


stream. I watch that understream that is no stream, and think 
of what thought may be. 

This stick half in the water, crooked to the eye, I take it 
out, it is straight. Delusion that the child detects, and that to 
the man has become an additional knowledge by his explanation 
of it. But the man himself, can he take himself out of the ele- 
ment through which he sees himself ? 

To Mr. and Mrs. Loomis. 


. . . Daisy's photograph is thought most charming by 
all who do not know Daisy herself we consider that it 
does her scant justice, though the little face looks very 
sweet, too, when one frames it with the lovely curl, which 
I have put with the vignette into a new album ; and all 
who turn over the pages exclaim when they come to that 
sweet, soft, exquisite hair. Thank you for sending it. 
We are so interested in hearing of your work resumed 
and of the pretty parsonage. You will not, I know, sus- 
pect me of undervaluing your letter, but I tell you frankly 
I shall never be satisfied till I get one from dear Mrs. 
Loomis too. Did you not yourself tell me what charming 
letters she wrote, and she has never sent me one word ! 
You can't get a satisfactory view of the two lives which 
are one unless you have it from the two pens, which are 
sure to mention different features at all events to write 
from a slightly different point of view. See, it is like the 
stereoscope you have two pictures nearly but not quite 
the same, and these blend into one that stands out with 
a reality, a lifelikeness, that even the accuracy of pho- 
tography cannot give to one view. When William writes 
to his sisters in Australia, I always put in a little bit, feel- 
ing sure that I shall tell something that would not other- 
wise get told, and yet which is worth telling. I should 
like to know much more about the house, about the furni- 
ture a thousand things, in short; and I end where I 


began, I shall never rest till there comes a note from her 
own dear self as well not instead, mind that but as 
well. . . . May dear Mrs. Loomis long have her mother 
spared to her. With regard to the restoration of that 
love, the " eye of faith is dim " I think most peculiarly. 
It was its sweet blindness, its tender unreason, its instinc- 
tive fondness, its unjustified faith, it was all that, that 
cannot be in a world of higher knowledge, that was 
so intensely dear. But I am most thankful for the past, 
and I delight to speak of my beloved parents, and to re- 
call all their specialties, and to find myself saying some- 
thing that they might have said, feeling their nature in 

. . . About the end of November we went to Edin 
burgh to pay a three weeks' visit to a very dear Roman 
Catholic friend of ours [Mrs. Jones], at whose house we 
met some very striking specimens of the Roman Catholic 
clergy. All the Edinburgh friends were kind and affec- 
tionate even beyond what I expected; there was not a 
shadow of disappointment in the return amongst them, 
and we left with every tie drawn somewhat closer than 
before. . . . This house stands alone, has a nice little ap- 
proach lined with firs, but has very little ground to tempt 
one into the expense that a garden will bring. It is occu- 
pied by nice country people, an excellent man who is 
wrapped up in his wife, a sweet woman, with such mother- 
love in her eyes ; any painter might be glad to have her 
to help out his idea of the Madonna. She has several 
children, but there is an under story in which they live, 
and my dear student hears them very little. For me, I 
like the notion of the family life down-stairs, far better 
than of two maids who would be always upon my mind,, 
either as dull or as seeking some dangerous delassement. 
I want to be yearly tenants, to have our books, pictures, 
etc., and to improve the aspect of some of the rooms by 
other furniture. But we must wait and see how the au 


tumn rains and floods affect us in this wild Borrowdale 
before we decide. . . . My dear one has just finished an 
article on his friend Mr. Lewes's Aristotle, and he is now 
busy with Victor Hugo's rhapsody of Shakespeare. I 
don't touch upon politics, nor on books. I am busy with 
my translation, and much writing leads to little reading. 
In the winter I had a book of Mme. de Gasparin's, then 
a story of Swiss life from the German, and now I have 
two volumes of Vinet, one on religion, the other on philos- 
ophy and literature. This is an interesting task. Here 
we have each a room in which to sit and work, and then 
he comes to challenge me to a walk over these delightful 
hills (mossy, rocky, heathery), with views of mountains 
now that my eye has recovered from Switzerland I call 
them mountains again. 

W. S. to Mr. Loomis. 

KESWICK, May 23, 1864. 

I don't know exactly what my dear wife has been writ- 
ing, but I take it for granted she has told you all personal 
news and of our whereabouts and the like. And no doubt 
she has thanked you for the photograph of Daisy, and the 
lock of brightest, softest hair that accompanied it. But 
as I take half those to myself, and am especially jealous 
of the hair, I must repeat my own thanks. I have to 
thank you too for a graver kindness, though not a more 
pleasing one the numbers of the " New Englander " 
that contained the reviews of " Thorndale " and " Graven- 
hurst." 1 That the reviewer should have objections to 
make, and his own points of view to put forth, is always 
expected, but I did not expect so kind and generous a 
measure of praise, and coming across the water it was to 
me peculiarly grateful. I hope by and by when my hands 
are free from work for the periodical press to put out 
some philosophical papers, chiefly on certain metaphysical 
1 By Professor Noah Porter. 


problems, on which I wish to say a word, though certainly 
to very little purpose. I read with interest the extract 
you sent me from one of your sermons, and liked the tone 
of it very much. It was extremely pleasant to hear that 
you were settled, for some time at least, in a parish, and 
to read the account of your housing and furnishing your- 
selves. We still dream from time to time of settling 
down in some cottage of our own, but I sometimes doubt 
whether the dream will ever be realized. We like our 
mountains too much to settle in the plains, and yet the 
region of our lakes and mountains is so visited by rains 
that it hardly seems wise to remain in it for the winter. 
From the first of May to the end of October is generally 
our time for the Lakes, and perhaps quite enough. 

I read with unabated interest all accounts from your 
country. What a power has democracy put forth ! I 
watch with as much anxiety for the issue of this tremen- 
dous conflict as when the war first broke out. It is in vain 
that Poland and Denmark cross my path and would carry 
off my attention. I never had any faith in Poland, and 
Denmark will do very well without the Duchies, or such 
part of them as are German and not Danish. But with 
you new nations are in the making, and perhaps forms of 
government are being decided on for centuries. I hope 
you do not personally suffer from the state of your cur- 
rency. I suppose that where a nominal sum had been 
fixed for the support of a church at the time when pay- 
ments were made in gold, there is always now an advance 
in the nominal sum to make up for the depreciation in the 
currency. Does it not seem at present that of the two 
objects of the war the abolition of slavery is the one most 
likely to be accomplished ? . . . I was glad to hear that 
amongst the furniture of the new parsonage there was so 
good a piano. I envy you the privilege of sitting over 
your desk and hearing the sonatas of Beethoven. We, 
alas, often say that we have not a single accomplishment 


between us. I think if we settled I would invest the price 
of a piano in a multitude of musical boxes, and by a tem- 
perate and judicious use of them, and changing them not 
too often, we might make them last a long time. 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

NEWTON PLACE, October 6, 1864. 

. . . Ah, how harsh and common a nature that is 
too common indeed that chafes at any great love borne 
by any for any husband, child, friend, dog. How sel- 
dom it is that an intense affection fails to raise up enmity 
against both lover and loved. But it is an ugly trait. We 
should be ready to lend ourselves to all genuine enthusi- 
asm, to be glad any has the solace of unqualifiedly admir- 
ing where their hearts are fixed, and to believe in the good 
they see. But always it is an offence to uncultivated 
natures that any one should have an intense feeling, they 

for their part having none. Miss 's face took on a 

quite wicked look in saying how much her lodgers made 
of the dog. Well, dear, I have run on long upon this, 
but I have been led in this direction of thought more par- 
ticularly by the praises of a doting sister for a moment 
there rose in my mind just that hideous antagonism which 
prompts the feeling that the one so praised is overrated. 
It is nothing but one's own vanity and self-love, which 
would fill creation if it might. Indeed, it did not last 
more than a moment before I saw what it was, but many 
encourage it under the idea that it is their sense of justice 
which is offended. 



(From the Memoir.) 

THE winter of 1864-65 was outwardly more varied than 
was usual with us. It included a stay of two months at 
Llandudno, in North Wales, a short visit to Bath, where 
my husband had an old and intimate friend and correspond- 
ent, and several weeks at Brighton ; and then, after a fort- 
night in London, we set out early in May for Switzerland, 
and saw Lucerne and enchanting Engelberg in their fresh 
beauty, and had pensions to ourselves. Our other happy 
resting-places were Grindelwald, Unterseen, Champe*ry, 
Bex, La Comballaz. One week too was given to Chamou- 
nix, for which William had an especial affection. His deep- 
est impressions of sublimity had been received there twenty 
years before and renewed in 1862 ; his constant nature 
preferred revisiting it to exploring new scenes. Never 
shall I forget his lying on the ground on our return from 
the Chapeau one glorious August day, gazing long and 
silently, absorbed in wonder and worship, at what he had 
called " the sculpture of landscape," " the great hills 
built up, from their green base to their snowy summits, 
with rock, and glacier, and pine forests," " leading be- 
yond this earth." Then suddenly starting from his trance 
of rapture he said, " Now I don't want to see that again ! " 
He had indeed seen it this last time in fullest perfection. 

We spent five months in Switzerland. They were 
fraught with delight ; and yet there were days days of 
reaction after vivid enjoyment when I could plainly see 


that my husband missed the steady occupation, the studi- 
ous routine, of our English summers. Had his life been 
prolonged, I do not think we should ever have become 
tourists again. During the ensuing years, remembering 
his own delight in Italy, and kindly anxious to give me 
every possible pleasure, he would often ask me whether I 
really wished very much to go there ; because, if so, the 
effort would be made. But I had always a doubt as to 
such a journey being the best thing for him. I dared not 
wish it. 

I will transcribe a few of the " Scraps of Verse from a 
Tourist's Note-book," which were written during our sec- 
ond Swiss summer, and published in the magazine : 

The lightest, brightest cloud that floats 

In the azure can but throw 
Some kind of shadow, dark or faint. 

On whatever lies below. 

For me, thank God ! although I lowly lie, 
I lie where earth looks straightway to the sky ; 
On me, remote alike from king and clown, 
No fellow-atom flings his shadow down. 

No shadow ? none ? Think, look again I 
An hour ago that huge and rocky hill 

Stood bare, unsightly ; all in vain 
Did mid-day light each rent and chasm fill. 
It waited for the cloud. The shadow came, 
Rested or moved upon its brow 
And, lo ! it softens into beauty now 
Blooms like a flower. With us 't is much the same, 
From man to man as the deep shadows roll, 
Breaks forth the beauty of the human soul. 

High rise the mountains, higher rise 
The clouds ; the mimic mountain still, 
The cloud, the cloud, say what we will, 

Keeps full possession of our skies. 
Let cloud be cloud, my friend ; we know the wind 

Shapes and re-shapes, and floats the glory on ; 


Glory or gloom it floats, but leaves behind 

The stable mountain, open to the sun. 
Let cloud be cloud unreal as the space 

It traverses ; earth can be earth, yet rise 
Into the region of God's dwelling-place, 

If light and love are what we call his skies. 

The stream flows on, it wearies never, 

Whilst I, who do but watch its flow, 
I weary oft. ' Ah, not forever ! 

Soon other eyes ' I know, I know, 
I too repeat my * Not forever,' 

And waking to that thought I start, 

And find my weariness depart. 

I pluck the flower, one moment to behold 
Its treasury of purple and of gold ; 
The blossom, and a nest of buds around, 
Ruthless I pluck, and fling them on the ground 

Plucked because fair, then flung to death away ! 
I might have stooped and looked, and had a blameless joy. 
Nature's great prodigality, you say 

E'en for man's wantonness provides. 

It may be so, but still with me abides 

A sense of shame that I could so destroy. 

The stream to the tree I shine, you shade, 
And so the beauty of the world is made. 

Our second Swiss tour, like our first, was succeeded by 
several months of exclusively tete-a-tete life at Weston- 
super-Mare, and I was soon happily convinced that the 
spell of the desk had in no way been weakened by our 
wanderings. William wrote a long " Review of J. S. 
Mill's Examination of Sir William Hamilton's Philoso- 
phy," confining himself chiefly to that " central position 
in which the great question is discussed of the nature and 
origin of our knowledge of the external world." To those 
who know his writings it is needless to indicate the side 
he took in the controversy. He u selected to be totally 
wrong" (according to Mr. Mill) "with Sir William 


Hamilton, rather than exchange our real world of matter 
and motion, of substance and force, for permanent possi- 
bilities of sensation attached to nothing at all for mere 
thoughts of sensations, a dreary and bewildering ideal- 
ism." My husband's mind was at this time constantly en- 
gaged with the problems the book in question treats of ; 
but a remark he made with regard to Sir W. Hamilton 
" He loved thinking over the book better than thinking 
over the pen " was just then applicable to himself. The 
manuscript book grew full, but during our stay at Wes- 
ton-super-Mare nothing else was written. 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

BRISTOL, Feb. 9, 1865. 
. . . There is a good deal here of the comfort of wealth, 

and Mr. G lives within his means, so that altogether 

it seems a happy home. We shall not stay long enough 
to get demoralized by the perfection of a tapestried bed- 
room, and a bed which it is a regret to get out of, and very 
good eating. We both feel that nothing equals our own 
life, but I think one might soon get into a habit of mind 
and body which would make lodgings seem dingy things. 
But then the joy of being together immeasurably out- 
weighs all mere comforts, and here I see nothing of Wil- 
liam, the gentlemen sit so long after dinner, and in the 
morning are much in the drawing-room. No rich peo- 
ple can be to each other quite all we are, because of the 
different rooms and the guests and the ways altogether ; 
and oh, how from my heart of hearts I thank Heaven that 
my lot has fallen just how and where it has ! I brought 
all my smartness here in a bonnet-box, and assure you 
that my moire and mantilla, etc., make me quite as smart 
as beseems my years. That dear Lloyd made my old 
point up into a lovely fall, and I consider that I keep up 
appearances wonderfully when one thinks that all my 
stores are comprised within the limits of a bonnet-box. 


I am amused with the things that get said now and then, 

showing that Mr. G evidently does not guess me so 

far on in the fifth decade, or I suspect in it at all ! The 
young girls have sharper eyes, no doubt. 

To Mr. and Mrs. Loomis. 

BRIGHTON, March 18, 1865. 

When your charming letters came to us, they gave us 
quite a glow of sympathetic delight, and now I have just 
been re-reading them and renewing the impression. Never 
did any two lives or rather one life, that is the beauty 
of it strike me as being more complete, healthy, and 
every way delicious. We warmly congratulate you on the 
safe and happy arrival of the little Kuth we find it dif- 
ficult to believe that she can ever be quite so bewitching as 
little Daisy, our ideal of sweet childhood, but we admit 
that the description of her is a most attractive one. And 
how entirely, too, we enter into the delights of the home, 
with the garden to work in and watch. I don't know that 
there is any surer receipt for permanent cheerfulness than 
the interests and even the anxieties connected with what 
one has sown, or transplanted, or pruned, or trained. Then 
in addition to all, or rather as foundation to all, as that to 
which all other things are added, there is your work, your 
consciousness of being of use ! Yes, indeed, it does one's 
heart good to think of you both. . . . How kind of you 
to send me not only the photograph of Holmes but that 
of Emerson. They both gave great pleasure, for I sent 
the one of Holmes to an acquaintance who had long 
wished for it, admiring his writings as she seldom admires 
anything, and Emerson's I gave to a beloved Scotch friend 
of mine, a Mrs. Stirling, who saw a great deal of him 
when he was in Edinburgh some fifteen years ago, and 
who felt particularly interested in tracing the resemblance 
and the difference between his face now and then. . . . 
For the last fortnight we have been in this glaring, star- 


ing Babylon that I never can like but then place is of 
very little consequence to me so only William be well. 
Indeed he has been very well, thank God has not had a 
cold all through this unusually severe winter, and I think 
I give a false impression of him by my tone about him in 
this particular, for he never alludes to health and never 
complains. Only I always feel that he is fragile, and 
strangers in general by way of a pleasant opening remark 
observe to me that he looks delicate ! ! We have bright- 
looking, cheery rooms. Beside William's desk (he is out 
just now) lies " The Secret of Hegel," which he is reading 
with interest evidently, for the book is often dropped and 
the dark eyes are fixed and see nothing in the room. Oh, 
God grant that we may know the truth ! I have just been 
reading a novel which has made a deep impression upon 
my mind ; the writer seems so penetrated with the love of 
God, raised into a region where all fear is cast out by per- 
fect trust. I hope the author has not written thus " from 
without," merely as the artist ; I do not think he can, or 
it would not thus have gone to the heart of another. 
There is a good deal about mesmerism, etc., which to me 
was unintelligible, or which I did not try to understand, 
but the book has, I think, passages of great beauty. It is 
"David Elginbrod," by George Macdonald. William 
was writing a great deal this summer, but nothing was 
completed, or nearly so only thinking out. He dashed 
off too some articles for " Blackwood," on Lewes's " Aris- 
totle," and Max Miiller's second volume, and I think a 
very pleasant paper on Victor Hugo's " Shakespeare," 
and one in this March number on Blake, the half-crazy 
artist, who was a grand creature too, in some ways, espe- 
cially in his successful way of grasping the nettle, poverty. 
Victor Hugo I feel more enthusiastic about than ever, now 
that I know the active benevolence of his life. He de- 
votes himself to the rescue of forty of the poorest children 
near him in Guernsey. Some French physiologist having 


established the fact that a good dinner once a month will 
tell most favorably upon children habitually under-fed, he 
gives these forty little ones an excellent dinner and a glass 
of good wine once a fortnight ; and they are waited on by 
Mme. Hugo and her daughter (a daughter-in-law), their 
going to school is insisted upon, and on Christmas day 
they were all gathered to a cha,rmmg fete, from which they 
went away laden with toys as well as good clothing, etc. ; 
for he seems determined to brighten their lot with all 
childhood's innocent pleasures as well as to provide for 
their necessities. It is charming to know that practice 
keeps pace with theory in this glowing advocate of all the 
world's " Miserdbles" 

(Postscript by W. S.) How interested we both were 
in the perusal of your letter I cannot say ; and though I 
valued highly the few intimations you gave us of the state 
of political opinion in your country, I valued still more 
highly your account of the home and of the daily life. 
How delightful the intermixture seemed to me of the gar- 
den and the family with the study and the sermon-writing. 
We also passed a most fortunate summer in 1864. The 
weather, for our climate, was remarkably fine, and we had 
secured a small house in the most beautiful part of our 
Lake district. (Generally we are compelled to be content 
with a lodging.) I used often to say, This is ideal, this 
is our climax, and as plants that have once blossomed 
commence thereafter to wither and decay, we must expect 
(may it be slowly !) to descend henceforth from our palmy 
state. Not that the outside world would see anything 
marvellous in our position, but we were both well, both 
occupied, we had a paradise to walk out in, and were not 
without friends for short intervals to visit us. But 
the elements of our content were not so numerous as 
yours, and you, with Daisy and Alice about you, would 
have thought our home had a very great blank. This 
summer we think of Switzerland, but the grander scenery 


(except that it stores the memory) is dearly purchased by 
the worry, the idleness, the dissipation of mind that at- 
tends on travelling. But my Lucy will have told you all 
there is to tell, whether of our past or future only I 
could not but add a word. 

We here if I may judge of others by myself do 
not abate the least in the intense interest we take in your 
great civil war. The interest indeed increases, for it 
seems as if this next summer would see the battle fought 
out the North triumphant and slavery extinguished. 
And then, if peace and union are again established, what 
a note of congratulation there will be. Pray Heaven that 
North and South will not celebrate and cement their union 
by a war with England or France I I do not fear it my- 
self but I have been always and long ago persuaded 
that it would be for the benefit both of Canada and Eng- 
land that the tie between them should be severed. We 
cannot defend Canada, but our connection with it may be 
the very cause that brings war down upon it. It is 
plainly for the interest of Canada to be separate, and I 
am sure it is for the interest of England. It is only 
pride that stands in the way. Do not let it be long be- 
fore we hear from you again. I wish I could send you in 
return something worth sending. Give my sincere re- 
membrances to Mrs. Loomis, and a kiss to Daisy. 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 


... I often think it is wonderful how far a small in- 
come may go in Switzerland, but then I should not like 
expatriation, and begin to feel that a cosy English lodg- 
ing, with a fire and the " Times," will be charming for 
winter. But take the case of a single woman, with 80 
or 90 pounds a year. In England she must have small 
rooms and simple meals. But here for instance is a 


charming bed-room with a matchless view I must tell 
you what I see the first thing from my pillow. First, the 
picturesque rough roof of an old chalet ; behind it a yel- 
low tree backed by a freshly green clump ; then a wooded 
hill bright with autumn tints ; then a fir-covered one, blue 
in the distance ; then a grand, boldly shaped mountain, 
down which the sun paints streaks of gold upon the greens 
and purples ; then over all the whole of the Jungfrau 
supreme, solemn, coldly white, majestic, calm waiting 
for the sun to change her into a soft aerial loveliness, and 
to light up the Silberhorn into dazzling brightness. All 
this view I see without rising from the best of spring- 
beds ! Then to go on with the comforts to be had here 
for five francs a day one's good breakfast of coft'ee, 
rolls, and honey, at any hour one likes (we are hardly 
ever later than eight) ; dinner at two or at six, at will, 
and tea ; a pretty new salon full of lamps and luxurious 
sofas, with a piano and all this for about 75 pounds a 
year ! And there are much cheaper pensions in the 
neighborhood of Geneva. I often amuse myself with 
planning Swiss tours for you three wonderful walkers, 
and I dare say you will accomplish one before long. 
Meantime nothing can be more charming than Arran, 
and all that purple pomp of heather that makes Scotland 
so beautiful in autumn. I must tell you that Comballaz 
turned out almost the most charming place we had been 
at. The inn stands alone, there is no village near, only 
chalets dotted about in all directions. We looked out 
upon a hay-field the second hay harvest was perfuming 
the air during the fortnight we spent there sloping 
steeply down to a fir-lined ravine through which ran a 
merry little brook. The fir woods are the finest we have 
seen, but it is the walks that are so enchanting not road 
walks, but green paths through fields and woods in every 
direction. 1 gave myself up to the enjoyment of the lovely 
spot I did nothing never put pen to paper. We had 


an exquisite moon while there, and were really out morn- 
ing, noon, and night. On the fourth, the most glorious of 
days, we set off early, I on a nice horse, William walking, 
to the Dent de Champre", the mountain that rises just op- 
posite Comballaz. The way thither through a steep wood 
was very charming, and we came in about two hours and 
a half to the loveliest of little lakes, with water clear and 
blue as that of the Lake of Geneva only one very low, 
long chalet, half -sunk in monk's-hood and fern, with rocks 
all around throwing their shadows upon the calm surface. 
There we left the horse, and I took to my feet, and in 
about an hour or so we were at the summit, and the view 
took away my breath. The Dent de Champre is very 
steep on that side, and as we lay on the grass top it 
shelved away rapidly from beneath us, so that we had for 
foreground the Dent de in the next valley, a moun- 
tain purple and gold with heath and faded fern, with fir 
forests at its base. Then for the next distance the Dent 
du Midi, facing the Dent de Morcles, very grand in them- 
selves, and looking quite their 9 and 10,000 feet, but having 
a clear space between them for Mont Blanc, who towered, 
soared, one pure crystal, into a soft blue sky, with light 
streaky white clouds above, but not one dimmed the perfect 
outline. How vast, how immensely high, the monarch 
of mountains looked, it is vain to try to tell. There 
were other beautiful things, the whole Rhone valley, 
the Lake of Geneva, the glittering summit of Monte Rosa, 
and hints of the Oberland but Mont Blanc filled our 
souls. We both felt that we had never seen a more per- 
fect, if so perfect a picture. We were out about eight 
hours, William walking the whole way without any fa- 
tigue, which makes me so happy ! . . . The whole party 
at Comballaz was English, but we were as usual unso- 
ciable. I often think many might like to know the author 
of " Thorndale " but how discover him in that quiet, 
silent man, in the very shabbiest coat that ever was seen ! 


You may fancy what we have got to in the way of shab- 
biness my hat for instance worn constantly for four 
months, for I brought no bonnet. . . . The next evening 
at our first sight of the Jungf rau, having that vision of 
Mont Blanc in our mind's eye, we pronounced her small, 
and thought we had been foolish to leave sweet La Com- 
ballaz. However, there I could not sit in-doors; while 
here for the first week I worked away steadily at a trans- 
lation Mr. Strahan wishes for the beginning of Novem- 
ber. I walked alone on the 15th, with precious, precious 
mother in my heart, as God knows she is always. She 
would have been eighty. . . . The last week we had three 
charming excursions, alternating with my days of trans- 
lation. Yesterday's was as pleasant a one as we have 
had. We set off at half past eight in a nice little ein- 
spanner to Grindelwald. The beauty of that drive is 
unspeakable as an approach to Grindelwald it exceeds 
the Wengern Alp. We spent two hours or more prowl- 
ing about the lower glacier, and sitting about. As we 
came back, the old man with the marmot waylaid us 
but it was not the old marmot, but a beautiful young one, 
a creature for which I was quite distracted with admiring 
fondness. The poor old man, however, mourns his old 
friend, who he said " entendait la langue franqaise" and 
had been with him ten years. Poor old man he broke 
his arm, went to a hospice, and while he was there " they 
let the poor beast die." Fancy what a pang on his re- 
turn! I wish dear Richard could have seen this sleek 
darling sit up and eat a bit of roll that we gave it, with 
hands like an immense squirrel. I kissed its tail while 
so engaged how muffly it was ! but its temper was 
allowed to be uncertain, not like " ma vielle bete.''' The 
poor old man blessed us for a half franc in a most touch- 
ing way. How charming to have been rich enough to 
surprise him with a five-franc piece instead of a trumpery 
fifty centimes ! I could be, I may say, wrapped up in 
a marmot ! 


To Mrs. Cotton. 

CHAMPEBY, 1865. 

In short, every one went off, and at last we were the 
only left, we and a Dutch family a widowed sister and 
two young girls, and an excellent and (I thought) delight- 
ful brother, a Mr. Van de W ; a missionary spirit, 

intent on doing good the highest good if possible, but 
the very least also. A man more kindly and helpful, as 
well as earnest and spiritual, I have not seen. Whether 
you shared his views or not, you must respect and love 
him. The sister was a good woman too. The brother 
had no egotism. His motto might have been " Not I, 
but " one far higher. I don't know why I tell you of 
them, except that we made so few acquaintances. We 
are not people who get on in pensions shy, silent, rather 
shabby-looking. I often thought to myself that many a 
one might have liked a chat with William if they had 
known how rich a mind was within their reach ; but what 
people see is charm and geniality of manner that de- 
lectable " confidence to please " which is a fairy gift, and 
that fairy was at neither of our cradles. 

[From Bex.] This time there happened to be a charm- 
ing Genevese there, Rodolph Key, who will be better 
known I am sure by and by (if he lives a little longer) 
as a writer of history and a wonderfully clear thinker. 
He seemed intimate with most of the first intellects of 
France, and he was just the sort of man to get intimate 
with. I am sure people love him. In character of mind 
as well as way of thought he seemed to me very like my 
own dear one, and like him he was very playful, simple, 
and childlike ; but he was easier to become acquainted 
with, in that he would talk of himself not the least 
egotistically, but openly and readily, whereas William 
shuns himself and his own writings irresistibly. They 
were both sorry they could not get further over the bar- 


rier of a foreign language. I don't know when I have 
seen so charming a being as this M. Rey with a great 
deal of the " beauty of ugliness " which is by no means 
limited to Skye terriers ! He offered to give us his book 
of the Renaissance Politique of Italy, where he has lived 
a good deal, and I said No, because I thought we were 
going on to Vevay where it could be got ; and we did not 
go, and I've regretted the lost chance ever since. His 
next work is to be on the Social Conditions of France, and 
if I could translate it, what pleasant work it would be. 

To Mrs. Cotton. 

Girlhood is not a happy time, I am quite sure of it, 
though it 's so happy-looking. If we could put old heads 
on young shoulders, and look as we used, and feel as we 
do I think that would be quite the prime of life. In- 
deed, in all respects but just to look at I consider that 
middle age is the prime of life. . . I Ve been busy, and 
still am, correcting the proofs of two interesting volumes 
of Vinet's that I 've translated. Ah, my darling, you in 
your generous affection, that gilds its objects always as 
the light and warmth of fine natures will you thought I 
might write something original, and you have, I know, felt 
a little disappointed in me. But though I have not power, 
I have not ambition either, and so am quite content, and 
so thankful to have this pleasant and paying occupation. 
I 've something to do for this summer, and my penny-a-lin- 
ing is a great joy to me, but dreadfully against letter-writ- 
ing. William is always occupied and always cheerful, and 
is recreating himself with a large book on Hegelian philo- 
sophy, not one sentence of which appears to me intelligible. 

To Mrs. Cotton. 


I found quantities of letters joy and sorrow the 
shot silk of life. Oh, my darling, how much the world is 


changed to me since I was in Switzerland last. My par- 
ents, my Blanche, and sweet Fanny ! My dear husband, 
however, is my world, but the mother's love lit up that 
world with her sweet sympathy. I am still very happy, 
but I have learned to tremble. I had lived so long with- 
out losing. [Speaking of a girl who had lost her mother :] 
But it 's only a mother who approves one not only through 
but for everything or, if she could wish any change, 
any increase here or abatement there, still " covers our 
faults with her kisses, and loves us the same." All other 
affection is too wise, too clear-sighted, too impartial. In 
short, a girl with or without a mother seems to me to be 
placed in two quite different positions each having ad- 
vantages no doubt, but the transition out of the former 
into the latter is like a new birth, or a dying out of one 
world into another, where all trials and disappointments 
and mortifications come closer, and require an armor of the 
soul that it does not consciously need with the shield of 
the mother's partiality to ward them off. . . We are all 
different in the amount and the quality of the sympathy 
we require. Some stand alone quite contentedly in joy 
or trial. Others want to call together their friends and 
neighbors when " the piece of silver is found." "Rejoice 
with me ! " is their cry. Others, like Irish mourners, al- 
ways invite their circle of intimates to howl with them at 
a wake of some dead hope or possession. I myself am 
terribly prone to wax egotistical about my happiness 
my silver piece, found when I looked not for any terri- 
bly liable to dilate upon its value and all its peculiarities. 
That 's my snare ! 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

WESTON-SUPER-MARE, December 1, 1865. 

. . . When William is well [he had a feverish cold] 
the proposed month in Edinburgh seems delightful, and I 


think it would be good and pleasant too for him to meet 
clever men. It seems hard to shut up a mind like his 
with only a woman to reflect its brightness and its depths. 
He had such a nice note from Mr. Mill the other day 
does my child know whom I mean ? J. S. Mill who 
had sent William his book. They used to know each 
other very well many years ago, and to meet at a de- 
bating club. Curiously, William had told me he made 
nothing of speaking at it, and I had believed him, and 
Mr. Mill in this note refers to his speeches as " some of 
the best ever delivered there." ... I respect him quite 
as much as I love him, and oh, I love him fearfully / . . . 
I am as well as a woman can be who has got so far down 
life's hill. But indeed were there no looking-glasses, and 
were my own darling mother alive, I should not feel 
older than twenty years ago. . . . Last Wednesday week 
I finished my German story, and thought I should have 
no more, but on Saturday Mr. Strahan asked me to take 
up Eugenie de Guerin's Letters. As Christmas draws on, 
I shall be excited about my cheque. How thankful I am 
for this occupation, and how pleased I shall be if the 
cheque exceeds my estimate. I always feel this cruse of 
oil of translation cannot flow on much longer, but I thor- 
oughly appreciate it while it lasts. . . . Write and tell 
me all about the wardrobe. How does it stand just now ? 
Do you like these silk reps I see everywhere? I am so 
fond of dresses and cloaks of the same, whatever it be. I 
had thought of having a new black silk this winter, but 
have given up the notion, and got my dear Blanche's done 
up I grudge expense on my own dress very much. I 
like to hear all about your attire. What are the bonnets 
to be ? I think little blue velvets would be very pretty, 
with quiet dove-like dresses and cloaks. . . . Good-by, 
child of my affections ! 



(From the Memoir.) 

WE left Weston-super-Mare with tender regret, as we 
always did any place where we had been quite alone 
left it for an interval of social life in Edinburgh and in 
the February of 1866 found ourselves once more at New- 
ton Place. During the eleven months that we spent there 
we had very frequent guests dear young nieces, dear 
old friends of mine originally, but now of his, for he 
adopted them heartily, and not any of them, I know well, 
have forgotten or will forget the simple cordiality of his 
welcome. It is true that the prospect of any interruption 
to our duality was sometimes perturbing to the student, 
who loved his regular work and his habitual ways ; true 
that when those even we best loved left and we returned 
to each other, I heard the words that above all words 
made my heart leap with joy : " Now I have my ideal of 
life." But none came to us who were not friends indeed ; 
we had no surface acquaintance, no conventional sociality, 
and at the close of every visit we received we found our- 
selves enriched by pleasant memories and enlarged in- 
terests. Early in 1867 we made our winter flight to 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

NEWTON PLACE, KESWICK, February 22, 1866. 
I do not like to leave your letter unanswered, or you 
will not accredit me with the interest I really took in it. 
I could wish the ball to have been less grotesque, because 


the laughter at people is not so good for us as the laugh- 
ter with them but you are not satirical, and satire even 
where it exists is one of the faults we outlive. I ain sure 

was much admired, and I like her to have had this 

taste of gayety, so natural and therefore so healthy to 
youth. I for my part immensely appreciated my taste of 
society never cared for it so much perhaps was never 
so well fitted to enjoy it as now, when all shyness is over, 
and from the habit of living with a mind of William's 
stamp, I feel more able to cope with minds in general. 
How loving and dear all our friends were wonderfully 
so ! Darling Mrs. Jones's hospitality was beyond telling. 
Mrs. Stirling, Mrs. Lorimer, Mrs. Blackie, were all so 
much more affectionate than I could have expected. 
And then my young friends Fanny and Augusta were so 
dear that sweet Augusta's affection I take as a great 
compliment. Then, the pleasant new acquaintances we 
made, and the nice way they all had of wishing we were 
going to live in Edinburgh! Altogether I don't know 
that I ever had a more pleasant social experience, and I 
am very fond of society. My light and black moires 
quite set me up in the way of evening dress, so I had 
nothing to get, and felt nicely dressed which even at 
my time of life is satisfactory, how much more so at 
yours, my darling ! We dined out five times at Mr. 
Blackwood's, Mr. Lorimer's, Mrs. Stirling's, the Smiths', 
and the Constables', and went in the evening to the 
Blackies', twice to the Simons', to Miss S. Grahame's, and 
to Mrs. Ferrier's. . . . Sweet Mrs. L is quite an an- 
gel. Her fearful illness seems to have exalted, sublimed 
her. The children are all delightful. Spite of her very 
delicate health she teaches them daily, is their only teacher, 
and finds time for all her duties. In short, she has made 

the deepest impression on me. Dear Mrs. B too is in 

very delicate health. I called three or four times and 
had nice long chats with her. I took the dear little Lor- 


imers one day to see a diorama, and saw terrible carica- 
tures of some of our beloved Swiss mountains. Then we 
went to two concerts ; at one heard Grisi and Mario (oh, 
how I cried with enjoyment), and at the other, for which 
Mr. R. Smith sent us tickets, heard Titiens and Joachim. 
In short, the month was one of unalloyed enjoyment, and 
my visit to your dear aunt will always be a happy mem- 
ory. . . . Mrs. is a most saintly woman, and narrow 

as her Calvinism seems to me, yet hers is a faith that 
"leads harmonious days." One of our Edinburgh de- 
lights was William being admirably photographed by the 
most artistic photographer I have ever come across, a 
Mr. Rejlander who was staying with the Constables for a 
fortnight, and doing lovely things of that lovely family. 
William's head is a great success. 'T is a large photo 
so thoughtful and really good looking. All others have 
been such caricatures of him. His beard makes him if 
anything better looking, though I love and miss the dear 
large mouth and well-formed chin. . . . The cold when 
we got here on Saturday was intense, but we have con- 
quered it by roaring fires, and, thank God, William has 
not taken cold. Yesterday was the most glorious of days 
snow on the mountains and a cloudless sky, and the 
lake mirroring both. 

KESWICK, October 17, 1866. 

This will, I hope, reach you on the morning of your 
birthday, and tell you how lovingly I think of you, and 
warmly hope (and believe) that there are many, many 
birthdays in store for you, bright, beautiful, complete ; 
compared to this birthday (though this is happy) as the 
full-blown fragrance of the flower to the hard green bud, 
or the " purple light of noon " to the first faint flush in 
the east. This I look for and over and beyond this a 
growth of all that is best and highest in you, an approach 
to your ideal, which is, I am sure, something more than 
personal satisfaction, even of the sweetest sort. May you 


be a comfort and help and strength to others, my darling 
I think you will, ever more and more. I do so like to 
picture you with your dear Aunt Matilda, writing for her, 
reading to her, and gaining from her " wonderful bright- 
ness and cheerfulness " increased confidence in that Infin- 
ite Mercy that has appointed compensations for all except 
for the misery of our own foolish, grasping desires and 
taught us by that very misery to seek to surrender them. 
Your long letter was very welcome and very pleasant, and 
it was dear of you to find time to write it to me. This 
birthday letter, which is all I have to send, shall be a 
long one in return. I feel my thumb a little sensitive, 
and therefore hold my pen loosely, which makes my writ- 
ing very niggling, but I know it will not perplex you. 
I have been much more free from that radiating sense of 
cold, and indeed very well, though I hold that no one 
is free from some uneasy sensation or other for long 

... I never saw any one so brightened as Miss . 

Her whole appearance is changed. I feel sure there must 
be some new light risen on her horizon there is a joy 
all % over and through her a wonderful change. Poor 

Mr. is here, and we met him twice. I could but 

wring his hand and rush away. " Love knows the secret 
of grief" positively it shatters me to meet one of these 
half lives, divided personalities. I have asked your 
mamma to send " Macmillan " to your aunt Matilda, 
thinking she might like to throw her eye over Annie 
Clough's plan for improving female education. To-day 
Annie tells me she sees an opening in Liverpool I shall 
be anxious to hear more. Mrs. Clough has written such 
a sweet letter to William, asking him to review her hus- 
band's Memoir and Poems I hope he will. Yesterday, 
after an interval of about ten months, Mr. Strahan's hand 
reappeared I was glad to see it. He sent me the sheets 
of an unpublished book, to make a paper out of it on the 


state of the Christians in Turkey, and wanted it back to- 
morrow! The thing was impossible, and indeed I never 
could have done it at all, but my precious one has most 

kindly taken the difficult task from me. Eugenie W 

wants me to do some poetry for a friend of hers who is 
translating but can't manage the rhymes a dear little 
German governess who is doing it to give a sister a small 
allowance. Of course I will do my best. So I have got 
work, though of the unremunerative order, but perhaps 
translation will come by and by. It was cheering to 
see Mr. Strahan's hand. I tell my child the interests of 
my life. Here we are we two alone together, and 
William seems to like that we should sit in the same 
room again. So there he is at the round table again, 
doing my work, and I at mine, writing to my child, and 
oh, so thankful and tremblingly happy ! I look at him 
there, and thinking of what life would have been without 
him may well say, " Thou who hast given so much to me, 
give me one thing more a thankful heart." To-mor- 
row I shall bring in the other sofa, and settle the room 
to my mind. 

To Mrs. Cotton. 


. . . You ask me, dear, what books I have translated 
since " Human Sadness." A great many, but none worth 
mentioning. I did two very thick volumes, " Outlines of 
Theology and Philosophy," from the French of the well- 
known Swiss theologian, Alexander Vinet. Then I trans- 
lated Eugenie de Guerin's journal and letters, but they 
were too slight to bear the process well. There is a Ger- 
man tale, " short and simple annals of the poor," called 
" Wealth and Welfare," just come out, which I think 
will very probably be my last translation, for the pub- 
lisher who for six years has furnished me with this pleas- 
ant occupation, and sent me such liberal cheques, has now 
soared into a higher sphere altogether, and is little likely, 


I think, to bring me any more translations. I have had 
nothing to do the whole summer, and the interval of idle- 
ness has made me enjoy our guests still more thoroughly. 
I shall be charmed if any work of the kind comes to me 
this autumn, but I do not soon expect it. I had a pos- 
sibility suggested to me by another publisher a few days 
ago, but I 'm not sanguine as to the books he mentions 
proving worth the doing, and as he refers the decision to 
me I am afraid I shall have to tell him so. I do not 
like the responsibility of deciding. 

To Mrs. Cotton. 


. . . Do you know, my darling, I suspect that our way 
of living so out of society and all its restrictions, seeing 
none but intimate friends, never having (or seldom) to 
suppress an opinion or put on a conventional semblance, 
is unfitting me fast for anything else. The very idea 
of " standing on one's hind-legs," as your delightful Mrs. 

D said, makes me shudder. Then I have a growing 

sense of dowdiness and want of savoir faire I Remova- 
ble I think by millinery in some measure, but then the 
remedy would be worse than the disease. All merely su- 
perficial relations, all acquaintance, becomes, I find, so irk- 
some, and this probably because one has nothing to repay 
the casual glance. What I mean is that unless I am loved 
I should never be liked. But don't imagine that I would 
willingly get odd or wilfully unconventional. On the 
contrary, in deference to Minma's remonstrances I dis- 
carded a faithful bonnet, comparatively of the coal-scuttle 
shape, and adopted a small pretence, a mere figment, un- 
suited to my years ! . . . We shall see Eugenie I hope at 
Brighton, for it is there we are going. Just because it 's 
so little attractive for me I think it is better for me than 
to go from solitude to solitude, and then, though William 
kindly assures me he should like Barmouth just as well, it 


is natural that he should take an interest in a place where 
he has lived so much, so that I am sure it is a judicious 
move. There is one person whom I shall be truly sorry 
to leave a dear old woman of ninety-seven, with all her 
faculties clear and bright, and much enjoyment of life 
still nay, with a merry spirit and a sense of fun which 
does not in many survive youth. To-day she was talking 
to me of her mother, " dear old woman," as she calls her. 
She says she dreams of her constantly. We are great 
friends, old Sally Yewdale and I, and if we live to return, 
we may find her, for she does not seem to have even the 
germ of any disease, and is full of mental vigour. 

I was much struck one summer Sunday with a face be- 
fore me in church. The profile was plain and common- 
looking, but the full face beautiful with the bright spirit 
within. When I heard Mr. Trevelyan was staying at 
Grange, I felt sure this face belonged to him, and so it 
did ; and I had his photograph lent me and admired it un- 
speakably ; and when we came across hini in our rambles 
I always looked at him with interest. And so I came to 
wanting to read what he had written, and dear Annie 
Clough sent me his " Cawnpore," which William had al- 
ways refused to let me have from the London Library. 
And he was perhaps right it is too painful, but I think 
the most interesting book I ever read. The first chapters 
are brilliantly and graphically written ; afterwards one 
does not think of that, but of the " fruitless valor and un- 
utterable woe." When the newspapers told the terrible 
story it did not torture me as this book did. The suffer- 
ings in the entrenchments one can bear to think of, for 
there was action, heroism, and sympathy. But that mas- 
sacre darkens the very sun, and shakes one to the centre. 
For days I was haunted by it. You must have been far 
more impressed at the time than even we in England 
were, and I am sure I don't want any one to feel their 
heart and faith sink as mine did over this fearfully ab- 


sorting book. I think it is wonderfully written, and 
after the description of " the Station" felt as if I had 
been there. 

. . . Will you not despise us forever when 1 tell you 
we did not see the meteors I We take a two-days-old 
" Times," and did not know the full glories to be revealed, 
else of course we should never have thought of going to 
bed after looking out too soon. I shall never be quite 
the same woman in consequence ! 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

KESWICK, Jan. 21, 1867. 

How I hope you got well to your journey's end, and 
have not taken cold ! To-morrow will tell. Matthew has 
just brought in a very long letter from dearest Mrs. 
Jones five sheets. I send you two were you here, 
you should have them all, of course, but I don't mean to 
exceed my one-penny stamp. We are all packed up, and 
purpose setting off for Brighton to-morrow morning. How 
beautiful it was yesterday ! When I got back, I tidied 
the drawing-room, and made it look so comfortable with 
the two sofas, little table, etc., that I really should have 
been content to settle down for another week. Then I 
went to visit William, and he proposed that we should 
go to Lodore together. I do wish you had seen it it is 
magical. The monuments William described were 
strangely impressive and solemn the reclining figure 
more perfect than I expected ; the icicles hung over like 
exquisite drapery, and behind them seemed a dark cave. 
Then the moonlight was so fascinating we could hardly 
get to bed for watching it. This morning I longed to go 
and see Sally, but was disinclined to walk so far along the 
snowy road. And I felt dull and inert, and that perhaps 
has told upon my beloved, or else it is the inevitable de- 
pression that attends a move but whatever it is, we are 
quiet and subdued, both of us. We have ha.c| eleven 


months of such unbroken health and happiness here, and 
we both feel committing ourselves to the unknown. Clara 
writes very lovingly. . . . Life seems to me to-night so 
short as though it were hardly worth while to plan. I 
hope there will be no sudden thaw to-morrow, but the 
wind rises in fitful, threatening, wailing gusts. I have 
done all my packing again all is ready and this room 
that has known us so long will know us no more. I wish 
I had some old clothes for the Irish woman, but I have 
not, as you know. But when we get to Brighton, I will 
send you some stamps for her. I am afraid, my darling, 
I shall not be thought to have time to add anything in 
the morning, but I need not tell you how rejoiced I shall 
be to have a good account of you all. 

BRIGHTON, January 24, 1867. 

Here we are, you see safe, which is a great bless- 
ing very dejected, absurdly so but I hope and be- 
lieve we shall yet rally, and smile again ! Ah, how beau- 
tiful it was on Monday morning, and how affectionately 
sorry to lose us the nice people were. Who should get 
out of the carriage we were about to get into at Keswick, 
but Mrs. Todhunter with her baby in her arms but she 
feared to let me peep at it, so intense was the cold. She 
looked very large and very happy, but the meeting was so 
hurried I feared I might not have seemed genial how 
can you, with both hands full, and your foot on a railway 
step ? At Penrith some one reached up to kiss me it 
was Mrs. Lietch, going back to her house. There was 
only one lady with us, nice-looking and sweet-voiced. As 
we rolled away from a station, where we had had a mouth- 
ful of hot tea at the refreshment room, her countenance 
fell she had lost her purse. Evidently she was a good 
deal agitated her ticket was in it, and about five pounds. 
William at once pulled out Ms purse, and oh, how kind 
and earnest and real his dear eyes looked as he held it out 


with its bright sovereigns, and begged she would take 
whatever she might want. However, she expected to be 
met and finally she found her own purse, which she 
was sitting upon in a manner worthy of me ! We got 
to Euston station at eleven o'clock, had our tea, and then 
a perfect bed with any amount of rest in it. And the 
next morning (yesterday ! it seems six months ago) we 
went off to London Bridge station, William calling at the 
Bank on the way and getting his dividend. Of course we 
were an hour and a half too soon, and that being the case 
I did not wish to be relegated to the crowded ladies' wait- 
ing-room, but said I would wait in the general waiting- 
room with William. Accordingly our bags, his cloak, and 
the railway rugs were put on a round table in that general 
waiting-room, but there the crowd was greater, and Wil- 
liam advised me to return to the other, and said he would 
stay there. But the dear one forgot .to keep his eye upon 
the luggage, and his bag with little in it but documents, 
the loss of which may be serious my bag, with all its 
contents, brushes, inkstand, gold pen, account book, etc. 
and his dear old cloak, were whisked off, never more to 
be seen by us ! But in this world of calamities I 'm not 
going to make a misery of that 't is an inconvenience, 
and a loss of about two pounds (not more, because I 
shan't dream of replacing the bag), and I shall not get 
accustomed to it immediately. Still, if it ends there it 
is nothing. The weather was indescribably wretched yes- 
terday, and what we thought of the gloom of Brighton ! 
Oh, how we have fretted, and asked what madness brought 
us to the haunts of men us, who are so happy in our 
own life. I am sure Rebecca is as kind as possible, but 
we cannot be pleasant guests, we are so low. A dreadful 
day of lodging-hunting every variety of objection dif- 
fused over a wide range of houses nice rooms too dear, 
the cheaper too odious, or the women offensive. I have 
seen two or three most satisfactory ones, but they were 


just let! However, this is Thursday morning, and we are 
going to gird our loins energetically, choose, and move. 
Somehow these last two days have deepened my sense of 
the wretchedness of an itinerant life. I think we shall 
try to settle at Newton Place. In the prostration of our 
intellects yesterday, William and I had our hair cut, both 
in one room, and a droller sight I never saw than our two 
sorrowful visages sheeted up, with whiskered men manip- 
ulating us ! My kindest love to all. Dear me, how 
much I could tell you, but writing is naught. 

[On the envelope.] We have found charming rooms ! 

BRIGHTON, February 4, 1867. 

... At the Willetts' we met such a young man ! He 
is a very High Church clergyman, and as you know I have 
no predilection that way. But all forms of earnest good- 
ness I do at least heartily admire. This Mr. F 

W is doing, it seems, a quite wonderful work in his 

living of West Bromwich, somewhere in the Black Coun- 
try. No one thinks of dwelling there who can help it, 
none of the manufacturers, nor did his predecessor. Con- 
sequently when he first went there he counted seven peo- 
ple in church besides the officials. Now they go away by 
fifties because the church can't hold them all. He has 
three devoted curates, men of his own stamp ; they have 
service every evening at seven, and a good many of the 
night workers like to go to that service before they turn in 
to bed for the day. Of course it is a short service, and 
there is very beautiful singing. Any one who sees this 
zealous young priest can understand his influence. He is 
very powerful and manly, and has the sweetest smile. 
Then there is such a simplicity and thoroughness about 
him, and of course his choosing to live in the midst of dirt 
and smoke and poverty tells immensely in his favor. He 
seems quite as anxious about their bodies as their souls, 
and has established a hospital. He is very well off, but 


if he had only eighty pounds a year I should call him a 
glorious match for any girl who was worthy. Such 
straight black eyebrows, and deep-set blue eyes ! I am 
quite faithless to my fair-haired ideal. And then the 
sweet way in which he played whist with his mother and 
an old aunt. I was his partner, and we won two rubbers. 
I beg to say he invited me most kindly for the Birming- 
ham oratorio, or church congress, or anything else there 
might be. But my beloved one was naughty that evening, 
fell into a silent mood, and could not be got away from 
picture-books his great snare. ... I must return to 
Thursday, to tell you what greeted me on my return from 
the Willetts'. Such a box from my beloved Mrs. Jones ! 
A delightful bag, large and light, really far more pleasant 
to carry than the fitted-up ones a beauty quite, and in 
it the gold pen with which I am now writing, destined, I 
trust, to be as great a comfort as the last was. It runs on 
delightfully, and will no doubt go on improving. And 
such a pretty box of dear Mr. Jones's, and such a lovely 
inkstand to replace dear Annie's ! There never was such 
a gracious, generous nature as that darling woman's, and 
she makes all her gifts dearer by saying that whether they 
answer the purpose or not " the love they come with is all 
right." Bless her ! I am grateful. In the evening of 
Saturday your uncle William went to have a chat with 
Mr. Joshua Williams, and I to Mrs. Woodford's, and he 
came there for me. Miss Kinglake had with her a singu- 
larly charming early friend of hers. This lady had be- 
come a Catholic, but I have no objection to " that sort," 
as dear old Sally said. I do not know when I have met 
any one who had the same intense refinement of voice and 
felicity of expression. Her lips dropped pearls the 
merest word told of intellect, and I think sweetness, at all 
events of highest culture. At a little distance she is still 
so pretty. Miss Kinglake had told me much of her fasci- 
nation in youth, and I was not disappointed. But there 


was a cross-grained young man there, with his glass 
screwed tight into his eye, and generally disposed to put 
people down. I did not enjoy my evening your Zia is 
soon chilled and cowed. I felt too shivery and good-for- 
nothing last evening to venture out ; thought indeed I was 
going to have a violent cold ; but thanks to aconite taken 
in time, and what the dear grandfather used to call my 
44 resiliency," I am sharp enough this evening to contem- 
plate going to the Phipps's. There are only to be a Mr. 
and Mrs. Carpenter there. Pray Heaven William may 
be chatty, for Mr. Carpenter has long wished to see him, 
and is said to be a very superior man. And to people who 
know and delight in his books, it must be a disappoint- 
ment to see him shut himself up in a picture-book. 

March 3, 1867. 

... I have liked Brighton much better this time as 
regards people. Mr. Carpenter is so charming so emi- 
nently one of the salt of the earth. Some might say that 
his religion was philosophy, but it is not cold and abstract 
the man glows with love to God and man. He was 
with us hours on Sunday evening, and if we come again 
he will greet us as friends. Then Mr. Long J I delight 
in, and the young clergyman. Mr. Phipps, to whom we 
owe that pleasant new acquaintance, is very taking, and 
evidently likes William exceedingly comes to take him 
out walking in a nice, cordial way. 

To Mrs. Cotton. 

BRIGHTON, Feb. 8, 1867. 

Why should I not have a few words with you, even 
though you should not have time to reply ? I am quite 
sure you will not think them unwelcome, and I feel in a 
sort of dreamy, tender, subdued mood retrospective 

1 The late Mr. George Long, author of A History of the Roman 


and perhaps a little sad in which an old friend is the 
very person one naturally turns to. And what old friends 
you and I are, darling! Do you, I wonder, remember 
how at Penhelig we two (surely remarkably intelligent 
girls of twelve!) used to discuss theological subjects in 
the dear shrubbery ? I from the decidedly Calvinistic 
point of view which darling Mrs. Scott found rather ob- 
jectionable, and which you by* no means shared! And 
then the talks of our youth the pleasures, the sorrows, 
the aspirations ! And all that so long ago ! How long 
has just been brought to my mind by a morning call from 
Mr. . He looked with ^great interest at my photo- 
graphs of sweet Louise and you, and felt how gracefully 
and how generously time had dealt with both. Naturally 
he did not tell me how lamentable the impression my ap- 
pearance made, but he looked it. He and I never had 
much to say to each other, and should probably feel more 
kindly now through the virtue of old memories, common 
memories, than we ever did before. But his presence and 
talk generally has had a wonderful effect in making me 
realize how long I have sat at Life's feast, and how soon 
I must rise and make room for others at the richly spread 
table. To me the best things have come late the} r are 
still so freshly enjoyed I do not like to think my time 
must be short. We all, I fancy, take our own notions of 
ourselves from what others form. When I live with Wil- 
liam, while I am alone with him, years have done me no 
wrong. I am what he sees me to be I look at myself 
through the flattering medium of those kind eyes, partial 
as my mother's I am bright by reflection I am on 
easy, affectionate terms with myself ! Oh, " how am I 
translated " by this interview with Mr. - - ! How el- 
derly, how ugly, how uninteresting ! You will think me 
crazy, perhaps, but I 've a notion too that what one human 
being really feels can hardly be quite unintelligible to any 
other. Your old and admiring friend Mr. looks 


well, and has a pleasant manner, and though I don't say 
the effect on me of the effect I made upon him was exhil- 
arating, still I am glad to have seen him. 

I do hope we may go to London for a fortnight, or 
three weeks. Would we could spend some hours together, 
say at the Zoological Garden my idea of enjoyment ! 
and thoroughly wake up the dear old friendship which will 
never die, I am quite sure, but which must needs grow 
comparatively lethargic and silent for want of the viva 
voce, the laugh and sigh shared, the agreement or the ar- 
gument as the case might be. Sweet Mary ! Do girls 
nowadays admire each other as I admired you? Are 
there such darlings to be seen ? You combined, and com- 
bine, so very much. I am longing to know where you 
will go first when you leave the happy home of five years. 
There will be so many friends claiming you, you will be 
torn to pieces, and indeed I shall not be surprised to hear 
that you run away from them all and go and tour in Swit- 
zerland. And here are we beginning to think that we 
should like to pitch a more permanent tent than we have 
done hitherto not that any years can ever be happier 
than these last six have been. ... I have been laid up the 
last two or three days with cold, sick headache, etc., and 
I think that 's why I think in the minor key, so to speak. 
Generally my spirits are I would say absurdly high, 
but that William likes them, and would not, I think, even 
if he could, barter this " antic and exultant spirit " for 
stronger intellect or wider cultivation. You know that 
we had M with us again for a month. She is a dar- 
ling, and I was more than ever struck with her very re- 
markable intellectual quickness. She seems to me to have 
an aptitude for almost everything. ... I am going to put 
in instead of any more letter some very simple lines 
something like a little poem of G run's I read and took a 
great fancy to six years ago but how like I really do 
not know. 



I climbed the hill, and looked around 

The prospect stretched out wide ; 
Green vales, rich woods, and shining sea 

Beauty on every side ! 

So fair, so far, so boundless all ! 

My spirit was oppressed ; 
My glance roamed round, now here, now there, 

And knew not where to rest. 

Then from my finger, half in play, 

My wedding ring I drew ; 
And through that golden circlet small 

Looked out upon the view. 

I saw a wreath of cottage smoke, 

A church spire rising by, 
A river wind thro' sheltering trees, 

Above a reach of sky. 

This little picture I had made 

Both cheered and calmed my soul ; 
True, I saw less, but what I saw 

Was dearer than the whole. 

More vivid light, more solemn shades, 

Such limits seemed to bring ; 
My portion of the world be still 

Framed in my wedding ring ! 

Now I Ve written them out they don't seem worth it, but 
there 's a truth in them. My darling Mary, keep a little 
corner in your dear heart for your and General Cotton's 
truly affectionate and appreciating L. C. S. 



(From the Memoir.) 

FOR the summer of 1867 we fixed ourselves at Bar- 
mouth, in North Wales a place to which my husband 
had never before been, though he had chosen it for the 
scene of one of the episodes in " Thorndale." We had a 
snug little cottage to ourselves, perched just above the es- 
tuary, on the other side of which rose the range of Cader 
Idris. The place suited my husband's health, and as 
usual we were fortunate in a landlady whose kindliness 
and care for us gave us a sense of comfort and security 
very precious to both. We should have been, I believe, 
unduly pained by an opposite experience, but during our 
married life we never encountered it. My husband's un- 
varying consideration for the claims and the feelings of 
all brought into contact with him, as well as his self-help- 
fulness and punctuality, made him the most popular of 
lodgers. Looking over my diaries, whatever year I take 
up seems to have been the happiest ! William was much 
occupied, I remember, this particular summer, with scien- 
tific subjects. One of the papers that he wrote for the 
magazine was a review of a work of Emile Saigey's, treat- 
ing of the " Unity of Natural Phenomena." I think the 
closing paragraph will interest some who read these 
pages : 

What if the movements of suns and planets, about which so 
many theories have been devised, should at last be studied in 
the mpvements of the molecule ? The movements of suns and 


systems may be but results or examples of those two movements 
of rotation and translation with which we found it necessary to 
endow every atom from the commencement. 

Need we add that we have still to ask how atoms came to be 
endowed with these movements, and were brought into all these 
rhythms or harmonies ? Need we add that our last and boldest 
generalizations only make the necessity more glaring to supple- 
ment the atom and its movement with the great idea of Intelli- 
gential Power ? 

God, and the atom, and the soul of man, 
Something we seem to know of all the three 
Something and only always of the three. 

We were seven months at Barmouth. What memories 
arise of grave and tender talk during sunset strolls along 
the quiet sands, while the distant Carnarvonshire moun- 
tains stood out lilac against a " daffodil sky ; " of glad 
morning rambles, after morning work, over hills gorgeous 
with furze and heather ; or rapid pacing up and down the 
bridge, watching the flowing or the ebbing rush of the 
tide ! We had a good many brief visits from different 
friends during the summer, but we were much alone too. 
The winter found us in Edinburgh. 

During our stay there one of our peculiar interests lay 
in attending together, every Sunday morning, a rather 
singular service held by a Mr. Cranbrook in the Hopetoun 
Rooms. Mr. Cranbrook had been originally, I believe, 
an Independent minister, but at the time I speak of he 
had seceded from that body. We never knew his history 
with exactness, but heard of him as an earnest thinker, 
following at any cost what he deemed truth. He was then 
evidently in ill . health, and had the wistful look of one 
" led by the Spirit " into a desert. His congregation was 
small, but loving hands always placed flowers on each 
side of the desk before him. His sermons were generally 
critical, but in his prayers the emotional nature of the 
man came out. We found the contrast between the cold 


analytical tone of his preaching and the passionate cry of 
his heart deeply pathetic, and came away with much to 
talk over during our Sunday morning walk. To me it 
was always an unspeakable interest to go with my hus- 
band to a place of worship. I never saw there a de- 
meanor quite the same as his, he sat so still, there was 
such reverent attention in his fixed glance. It was not 
often that I had this experience ; compromises and con- 
formity to custom formed no part of his religion ; but he 
laid down no rules for others ; could understand how in 
them memories and affections might hold together old 
habits and changed opinions; never charged their intel- 
lectual inconsistency with dishonesty. When I returned 
from church, he liked me to tell him what I had heard 
there, and if a deepened sense of things unseen and a de- 
sire to live more in accordance with the highest standard 
be the best results of religious teaching, then it was his 
comments that most helped me. I, on my side, rever- 
enced the law of his higher nature, unflinchingly 
obeyed, and rewarded openly by a transparent simplicity, a 
reality in look, and speech, and gesture, that all felt the 
influence of, and which his venerable friend Dr. Brabant 
once referred to in these words, " When I am with your 
husband, I feel in the presence of absolute truth." 

In the January of 1868 we left Edinburgh for our dear 
Newton Place, and some of our kind friends thought it an 
injudicious move. But even in winter we enjoyed it thor- 
oughly ; perhaps never more than then, when mighty 
winds swooping down from Sea wf ell tossed and twisted 
our protecting trees and shook the walls of our dwelling 
as they passed us by, or when heavy rains had turned 
our meadow into a lake, and flooded roads shut us most 
completely in. To the happy, storm is as exhilarating as 
sunshine, and I used to liken our secluded life to a full 
glass of champagne, into which drop the merest trifle, 
it effervesces anew. A book, a magazine, sent by a 


friend, a parcel from the London library, the arrival of 
proof to correct, etc., still more, any natural spectacle 
northern lights, frost-work, falling snow anything, ev- 
erything, was pleasurable excitement. On such winter 
evenings my husband would often take me from room to 
room of our dwelling " to show me " the moon, or moon- 
lit clouds, or the starlight splendor in different parts of 
the sky. And after standing long in silence together gaz- 
ing at the silent stars, he would turn from their oppres- 
sive magnificence with such words as these : u Love 
must be better than hate in all worlds I " So much was 
certain. While thus alone, from the first hour of rising 

when I could hear him " singing, dancing to himself " 

to the winding up of our evening by some game of 
chess or cards, all was conscious enjoyment. I cannot 
convey to those who did not know him, or knew him but 
slightly, the variety of his playfulness, the delicate humor 
that gave charm and freshness to " every day's most quiet 
need by sun and candlelight." I suppose it required a 
heart like his, " moored to something ineffable, supreme," 
and an entire absence from personal anxieties, enmities, 
ambitions. I only know that this "spirit of joy" that 
he felt and diffused was, as far as my experience goes, 
unique, and no sketch of his character that did not lay 
stress upon it could be in any degree complete. 

This year, 1868, our " Annus Mirabilis," as he some- 
times called it, was the most social of all our years. 
For several months we had a succession of dear friends, 
some of them eminently congenial companions to my hus- 
band ; and between their coming and going, intervals of 
our own life. William was well and strong ; the seasons 
were all unusually fine ; in autumn the hills were one 
sheet of golden bracken, such as we never saw before or 
since ; the leaves hung later on his beloved birch -trees, 
and our mountain walks were longer than usual. 


To Mr. TJwmas Constable. 


I have had a great pleasure this last fortnight. Just 
when I had finished and despatched " Le Secret," and was 
open to social enjoyment, came a visit of five days from 
the only sister of that precious Blanche, of whom you 

have so often heard me speak. Mrs. R a widow, alas ! 

and the mother of eight wonderfully handsome and 
clever creatures. Two and twenty years ago this dear 
Augusta and I were great friends. Then she went to 
India, married most happily was a " queen of society " 
at Calcutta for many years. Delightful to say, our very 
different lives had brought about no estrangement what- 
ever we found that we suited each other just as we 
used to do, and actually ended by seeing very little change 
even in the outward woman ! ! It is curious indeed how 
to the eye of familiar affection the former young face 
shows again through the veil of the present old one. 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 


I find that I don't get on much with my writing unless 
I am alone. I regret to feel my capability of abstraction 
diminished, but my blessed mode of life has the one draw- 
back of somewhat unfitting me for any other. Tuesday 
I was so sharp and well off to my old woman, and 
walked the four and a half miles in no time. She is 
doing so well. I positively don't know what I am to do 
with the poor people here the sick poor, I mean, who 
want nourishment. My poor navvy I am obliged to begin 
with again he has boils, which require a little good 
food, I am sure, and till he can work for it he is penniless. 
The medicines for the old woman are expensive. And 
the piteous thing is, the people fancy I can do something 
for their cases, and I tell them in vain that I have no 


medical knowledge. Oh, that I had money for these poor 
souls ! [Speaking of a spendthrift.] Poor fellow ! Life 
is a very poor thing when the part believes itself the 
whole, and a man looks upon heaven and earth as existing 
to supply him with pleasures and amusements this is 
what the grossly selfish do. The poorer the intellect, the 
less the perception that the unit is not the whole. There 
is a word that expresses briefly the very spirit of Christian 
teaching altruism. Comte was not a Christian, but 
every Christian may thank him for the word. Oh, for 
more altruism more " looking on the things of others," 
" loving others as ourself ." It is matter of thankfulness 

to be able to see the beauty of this. But could not, 

poor fellow, any more than I could be a mathematician. 
... I am interested in every word you tell me, though I 
don't comment, and go on thinking aloud to you just as it 

February 24, 1868. 

[She and her husband called on Mr. and Mrs. Lewes.] 
We found them in, and so cordial ! Her hands were cold 
as death, and she was not well. She is writing, which al- 
ways exhausts her. ... In going away, I saw in her dear 
eyes that I might kiss her, and I can't tell you how kindly 
she put her arms about me. She is delightful so gentle 
and tender. 

To Mr. and Mrs. Loomis. 


It was a true pleasure to see your handwriting on the 
28th of February, and I almost wish I had replied at 
once ; followed that impulse to write, which if once 
checked is apt to die down, and hence great gaps of si- 
lence between those who really care much for each other. 
I rejoice, we rejoice, to have so good an account of your 
health, and we take a sincere interest in all you tell us of 
your family life and your new home. . . . Now I am 
going to leave all allusions to general subjects, to politics, 


literature, and the great throbs and heavings of opinion in 
your country and ours, to my dear husband, who will say 
more in a few words than I in so many pages. I am 
going as usual to write you a mere woman's chit-chat 
about persons and private interests. Not that I lack sym- 
pathy with those other wider subjects, but I have not 
energy to write about them, and besides, we have not 
written to each other for so long a time. I want to take 
a retrospective glance at our quiet life. We so much like 
hearing your personal history, I am sure you will not be 
indifferent to ours. On the 2d of April settled ourselves 
down at a Welsh bathing-place that my dear one has 
spoken of in "Thorndale," though he had never seen it till 
last year. It had many attractions a less wet climate 
than that of Cumberland, lovely mountain and river scen- 
ery, and fine sands, though not a grand sea too land- 
locked and calm. There all the country people speak 
Welsh, but it so happened that I have more to do with 
them than I have here, where indeed there are no poor. 
. . . The Established Church is comparatively a dead let- 
ter in Wales. You should, however, have seen how the 
Voluntary principle builds and flourishes there ! But 
what was even more serious, the doctors in the neighbour- 
hood drank even more than , and here was no Volun- 
tary principle to come to the rescue ! This led to my 
having a few patients. My father was a physician, and I 
have just a little common-sense, simple knowledge. Any- 
how, I had there the supreme delight of feeling that I had 
been of some little use in alleviating pain. The Welsh 
have great faith in an irregular practitioner ! Then we 
were lodging with such a dear woman, one of the loveliest 
specimens of human nature, and thoroughly refined, 
though she could neither read nor write. The Welsh, 
like the Highlanders and other Celts, have often a native 
charm of exquisite politeness and tact, a sort of poetic in- 
sight into the relations of persons and things, which makes 


them very pleasant to deal with. We were with this 
sweet woman for seven months, and now she keeps up a 
correspondence with us through the medium of her little 
ten-year-old daughter's pen, and wonderful the spelling is, 
but very simple and pretty the idioms. To dwellers 
in tents such as we are, the finding mental and moral ex- 
cellence in a landlady is an immense point. That is one 
reason why we so much like returning here. I thor- 
oughly appreciate the freedom from care, and above all 
the never having to train and find fault, which the mis- 
tress of a small household would inevitably have to do in 
these transitory days, when servants still exist, but with- 
out any of the old traditions of duty which used to make 
the tie between them and their master so strong. The 
very word master is hardly ever heard, except indeed in 
Wales. My dear mother remembered that former state 
of things in all its perfection. In her home the old but- 
ler, housekeeper, ladies' maids, and the rest lived thirty, 
forty years lived, in short, all their lives. There was 
a beauty in it, of course, as there is in every epoch. But 
progress, that brings so much, must take away too the 
former things have passed away, and it is vain to look 
back regretfully let us go on to the cooperative condi- 
tion, and hope the best ! Meanwhile, we are very happy 
in our tent life but I must love the people I come in 
contact with, and I do here love the gentle, admirable 
woman who has husband and six children in the lower 
part of the house, entirely apart and out of our way ; at- 
tends to them faithfully, and yet cooks very nicely for us, 
while we are waited upon by her eldest daughter, Ruth, a 
modest, obliging, round-faced English girl, of a very satis- 
factory type. My great friend is a dear old woman of 
ninety-eight, who lives all alone in a poor little cottage, 
and is as regards intelligence and even the power of min- 
istering to her own small wants, in the prime of life. I 
am very fond of that uncultured class, with their sincerity 


and reality. From Wales we went on the 5th of Novem- 
ber to Edinburgh, where we have several very dear and 
very delightful friends, one of the most intimate a fervent 
Roman Catholic. At her house we constantly met Jesuit 
fathers, who are really working their way wonderfully in 
Presbyterian Scotland. Perhaps not wonderfully for 
they are exceedingly active, and this is a day of violent 
reactions. In Edinburgh we were quite sociable, dined 
out, and met several interesting people, to say nothing of 
seeing beloved friends constantly and familiarly. You 
may remember, perhaps, my speaking to you of Mr. 
Thomas Constable as one whom I should particularly wish 
you to know if you went to Edinburgh. I must tell you 
what he did last summer. The Constables were all spend- 
ing it in Switzerland, and for a time took up their quarters 
at Pension Crochet, Bex. There they observed a very un- 
happy, ungenial-looking man, who suffered from his eyes 
evidently, and spoke to no one. Touched by his appar- 
ent isolation, Mr. Constable accosted him. The reply was 
a hand raised to the ear, and the words, " I hear nothing." 
This only excited Mr. Constable's compassionate feeling 
further, and his next move was to ask (in writing) the 
solitary man to drive with him and his large, cheerful 
family party. This was declined, on the plea that his 
infirmities made him a miserable companion. Nothing 
daunted, Mr. Constable begged to be taught the sign- 
language of which this stranger made use. This done, he 
could communicate more freely. By and by the poor 
man's heart melted, and he told Mr. Constable his whole 
story a wretched one it was. This poor stone-deaf man 
was an Austrian, of high family and connections, but a 
bankrupt and an exile. His deafness had greatly inter- 
fered with his prospects in life, and he represented him- 
self as always having been wayward and impracticable. 
However, he had married a very beautiful woman, and 
might have gone on pretty well, had he not resolved, con- 


trary to the entreaties of his family, to embark all his 
fortune and his wife's fortune in a speculation which 
utterly failed. There had been faults, as well as this 
folly, but only such as are, I suppose, too current in Vien- 
nese society. However, backed by poverty, these faults 

looked very grave. The head of the family, a Count , 

volunteered to support the wife and daughters, provided 
the bankrupt father left the country ; and finally the 
family man of business took him to that cheap Swiss pen- 
sion^ and left him there, saying that should he find that 
mode of life intolerable, " the lake of Geneva was near at 
hand." Alone, uncared-for, a hopeless bankrupt and ex- 
ile, having estranged all his friends and his wife, deaf, en- 
tirely deaf, and nearly blind this man had stood hours 
on the bridge of St. Maurice, but had not the nerve to 
plunge, he said, much as he desired to die. For a month, 
Mr. Constable did all he could to comfort him ; then, 
when the family were on the point of leaving for Thun, 
the poor man burst out : " What shall I do when you are 
gone!" "Come and stay with us there for a month." 
This he declined he said that in a life so miserable as 
his must be it was better not to have such gleams of com- 
parative light. But evidently he felt the approaching 
parting. One day, when Mr. Constable had again pressed 
him to visit them at Thun, with the same result, he said : 
" Very well, then, come and stay with us altogether ! " 
"What do you mean?" "Come and stay with us for 
good and all." " What are you talking about ? I do not 
understand." "Come and stay with us till you die," 
said my beloved friend. The count burst into tears. 
He stood out bravely he was a bad man, he said. " I 
don't mind," was the reply, "you are unhappy." "He 
was a Catholic " that Mr. Constable minded much less. 
" Wife and family would object," Mr. Constable would 
fetch them, and he would see. (His wife and he are one 
soul, the children worthy of their parents.) Finally, after 


wintering with them at Nice, this poor man is at this mo- 
ment a much loved member of their charming Scotch 
home. He seems quite a changed creature, and his de- 
voted love to that man who was indeed a " refuge from 
the storm" is most touching. We hope they will be 
coming to this neighbourhood by and by. This is a very 
long story about strangers but I think you will under- 
stand my temptation to tell it. I thank God for having 
such a friend as Mr. Constable. Now I must go to bed, 
and I shall finish to-morrow. I hope you will allow that 
I am writing more legibly at all events, I have tried. 
Good-night, dear far-away friends in Minnesota ! 

May 11. Such a sweet, mild spring morning but 
rather gray. How I should like to see your brilliant sun- 
shine. Sometimes William and I amuse ourselves with 
planning a trip to America, but we know all the while we 
are only playing with our own fancies. Thank God, he is 
well bright and cheerful not writing much in " Black- 
wood," but there will be an article by and by on Lewes' 
" History of Philosophy," and also on your Motley's two 
last volumes. We have enjoyed Holmes's "Guardian 
Angel " very much. Do you in America hold George Eliot 
the very queen of novelists ? She is just about to publish 
a long poem, and from the lines that head several of the 
chapters of " Felix Holt " one knows her to be a true poet. 
. . . Marriage seems to be becoming more and more rare 
in England ; there is an unhealthy horror of poverty and 
" loss of position " which nips many a young hope. Now 
you will not think will you that it is from want of 
attentive interest to every part of your letter that I have 
commented so little upon it. I wish you would write 
again, rather sooner this time. I wish I had dried an 
English primrose to send with a kiss on it to Daisy. I 
wish that you could see our green, peaceful valley, with its 
lakes and quiet hills the highest only 3000 feet. By 
the way, I wandered with the Cottons over lonely hills for 


three hours the other day, and was not over-tired. Thank 
God, I think William is well you know what this is for 
me. Your life sounds quite perfect, with each other, your 
darlings, and your definite and lofty work. May you 
have .health to enjoy it fully. 

W. S. to Same. 

It gave us very great pleasure to hear from you again, 
and especially to hear so charming an account of your new 
abode. What a climate and what a beautiful country 
you have lighted on ! Your description kindled a momen- 
tary desire to see your magnificent river, with its grand 
bluffs, and its rich and picturesque valleys. But we must 
content ourselves with our little lakes and miniature 
mountains. And we have had so exquisite a spring that 
so far as scenery is concerned we ought to be content. I 
have never seen our Borrowdale and all its surroundings 
look more beautiful than through this last month. How 
cities spring up with you ! We say here, we almost see 
the trees grow you might say that you almost see cities 
grow. The political life of the future lies mainly with 
you. Democracy, with a glorious region of the earth to 
expand itself in what will it do ? We ask the question, 
and try to look ahead. But I am afraid we cannot see 
very distinctly. 

I feel an unabated interest in your politics, although ours 
have lately become very exciting. I cannot understand 
altogether the policy of your great Republican party in 
its conduct toward the South. Perhaps at this distance, 
with conflicting facts put before one, it is impossible to 
get a clear view of the question. This unfortunate Presi- 
dent Johnson, with all his blundering and foolish obstina- 
cies, seems to have had a real desire to cement the union 
between the North and South, while the Republican party 
seems to be solicitous only for the triumph of its own 
ideas good no doubt in the main, but pushed on regard* 


less of the feelings of the South, or of the necessity to con- 

But as to the conduct of political parties, we in Eng- 
land have lately been giving to the world one of the 
strangest exhibitions. Our conservative party has had 
one distinguishing tenet dread of democracy. They 
came into power, and they have pushed us toward democ- 
racy at a rate which is alarming to old liberals. We are 
all speculating as to what the new constituencies will do 
what measures they will clamour for and now before 
these new constituencies can elect their House of Parlia- 
ment, the question of the Irish Church has emerged from 
the region of mere speculation and controversial politics, 
and presents itself as something to be done. One thing 
is very noticeable that whereas the speakers in the 
House of Commons uniformly draw a broad distinction 
between the English Protestant Church and the Irish, 
and are loud in asserting their fidelity to the former even 
when they are most violent against the latter yet out- 
side the House, and amongst the clergy in particular, 
there is a disposition to regard the attack upon the Irish 
as an attack also upon the English Establishment. In 
spite of Mr. Gladstone's assertions, and the whole body 
of Whigs, they insist upon it that the real question at 
issue is that between Establishments and the Voluntary 
principle. This belongs in part to the ordinary tactics of 
controversy. Persuade the English people that their own 
Church is bound up with the fate of the Irish and the 
Irish Church is safe enough at present. But there is 
more in it than this. The dissensions in our own Church, 
the ritualism and the rationalism that have grown up in 
it, have brought a sense of insecurity to churchmen them- 
selves. They know that here as elsewhere union is 
strength and disunion weakness. Their own dissensions 
will give an opening to the Voluntary principle, and if 
this principle is deliberately adopted for Ireland, the ex- 


ample may spread. So the cry of " The Church is in 
danger " is not wholly the mere war-cry of a party, as it 
has often been, but speaks of a rational solicitude for the 
future. I myself look upon the Voluntary principle as 
I look upon Democracy, as the inevitable but I have 
never been anxious to expedite the coming of either of 
them. Every year people read more and think more than 
they did, and I want this kind of quiet progress to go on 
and at least accompany our organic changes. 

I am prosing on about matters perhaps as familiar to 
yourself as they are on this side of the water. You in 
Minnesota are as much within hearing of London and 
Paris as we here in Cumberland. I only know that when- 
ever you touch upon your politics you interest me in- 
tensely. Do you read the French review, " La Revue des 
Deux Mondes " ? I gather more of the general politics of 
the world from that periodical than from any other source. 
Do you find time to write amongst your many avocations ? 
or do you feel, as I am sure I should, that your public ad- 
dresses were quite enough to occupy your time ? I my- 
self find writing more and more distasteful, more and 
more laborious, but I am happy to say that I do not en- 
joy books less than ever, and that I reflect on what I read 
with perhaps more pertinacity than at any other time of 
my life. Your letter gave me a delightful impression of 
an active, bright, cheerful existence, with great duties and 
many small pleasures. I think I may safely put you and 
Mrs. Loomis in the category of the happy (pray give my 
kind regards to her and my love to Daisy) -= and we on 
our side, we too would write ourselves down in the cate- 
gory of the happy, or at least of the contented. When 
we are alone here together I often say that my ideal of 
life is accomplished books country solitude and 
society that is compatible with much solitude. To be 
sure, I do nothing. I am very useless but this is from 
a lack of power, not from a disposition to fold my arms 


in mere reflective indolence. I hope we shall hear again 
from you at no very long interval, and that you may con- 
tinue to have your health, and that we may be both still 
giving good accounts of our respective conditions. 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

NEWTON PLACE, May, 1868. 

... To tell you the loveliness of this country to-day is 
impossible. We have had dull, misty, blurred kind of 
days, but yesterday and all last night it rained, and to-day 
Nature is in an ecstasy. I sit with open window, and the 
cuckoo's "wandering voice" is wafted in on the softest 
breezes. ... I returned grave and possibly a little sad. 
For, oh, my chick, to whom I confide mysteries, there are 
moods when the spirit of joy will evade joyous circum- 
stances, and when we are surrounded by all that is pleas- 
ant the heart in its immense solitude will take to crying, 
" It is naught," while the lips smile falsely on. You say 
I am one of the cheerful, and I thank Heaven for that in- 
estimable gift, animal spirits. But I think I know every 
phase of discontent, gloom, unreasonableness, aching self- 
love, and the rest, which make the worst part of our 
low spirits to say nothing of the burthen of " all the 
unintelligible world," and the questions to which there is 
no replying. 

To Mr. and Mrs. Loomis. 

NEWTON PLACE, Aug. 23, 1868. 

. . . Your description of your country and mode of 
life is most interesting, and I can quite believe that 
your delight in your handsome horses and all the pleasure 
and variety they afford you is much enhanced by your 
entering into such close personal relations with them 
winning their affections and giving yours for one learns 
to love what one ministers to. I am sure that many of 
us in the old country would be happier for having more 


varied labor, and I think I see the dawn of great changes 
in that direction. . . . We have had visits from some dear 
Edinburgh friends, among them a charming Mrs. Stirling 
and her husband. She is large minded and hearted 
one to whom your Emerson took a great liking when in 
Edinburgh, and that I consider a feather in any one's 
cap. How intensely I admired and revelled in his essays 
and some of his poems in my younger days. I think I 
should now but they are packed away with all our 
books, waiting to be arranged in the home we shall, I 
suspect, never fin$. The sentence looks sad, as all sen- 
tences perhaps do that include the word "never." But 
I do not write it with any actual sadness. Our wander- 
ing mode of life has many advantages. . . . We are 
alone now, and General and Mrs. Cotton have left the 
neighbourhood the old loving friendship closer and 
warmer, thank Heaven, than ever. But William is so 
happy when alone that is Ms ideal. Something is 
growing, I think, about his desk but, as I believe I said 
before, the critic is almost too strong for the author ; and 
besides, he is dealing with subjects where if you will not 
assume you end by denying, and to his religious nature 
that is not easy. Oh, the mystery of it all ! I wonder 
whether you will take any interest in the proceedings of 
our British Association, and in Dr. Hooker's inaugural ad- 
dress. No one can escape some modification of dogmatic 
theology nowadays. Happy they who retain the spirit 
and let the letter go most easily ! I have been much in- 
terested by one of George Macdonald's last books. " Rob- 
ert Falconer." It must a good deal horrify the stern 
Calvinist ministers of Scotland ; yet, in the Establishment 
at all events, convictions are not so rigid nowadays ; it is 
the Free Church that is still the stronghold of narrow and 
intense dogmatism. I confess that George Macdonald's 
position logically does not appear to me tenable but " I 
would that I were altogether such a one as he is ! " I must 


tell you that dearest Mr. Constable came out for a night 
one exquisite May day, bringing his Austrian with him. 
To see the care the tall,"powerful, noble-looking man takes 
of the poor, stone-deaf, half -blind, helpless exile ! He is 
like a mother with some child that she believes perfection. 
For the best part of it is, he has got out of their kindness 
to love this little count. My dear child is now staying 
with the Constables at their charming new house near Ed- 
inburgh, and says that it is indescribably beautiful to see 
the tenderness with which they all treat their guest. For- 
tunately for him he has some literary talent, and is now 
writing a romance. And I am translating it for him. I 
have no paying work on hand, I 'm rather sorry to say, 
and it is to me a very great pleasure to be of any possible 
service to a friend of my beloved Mr. Constable. Besides, 
I like a task. I think it is an interesting story, but it is 
very difficult for a translator to judge. You are quite right 
it would be death to domestic happiness to introduce a 
stranger into a very small home circle though I really 
believe Mr. and Mrs. Constable could have done even that 
out of the intense pitifulness and lovingness of their na- 
tures. I wonder whether you have read George Eliot's 
very remarkable poem, " The Spanish Gypsy," and what 
you have thought of it. It is a marvel of intellect, and 
full of exquisite passages, but I think there is a but, 
and that it does not sweep one away as poetry should, as 
I found " Aurora Leigh " did. I read " The Spanish 
Gypsy " dry-eyed. 

W. S. to Same. 

. . . The last interesting thing amongst us is the ad- 
dress of the President of the British Association, Dr. 
Hooker, the great botanist. I dare say it will be in your 
hands by the time this reaches you. If you read it, you 
will find that the doings of the prehistoric archaeologist 
take the prominent place. You will be struck too by the 


bold tone which the man of science now takes on topics 
where science and the Old Testament are thought to be 
at variance. I know that this will not distress you it 
ought not to distress any intelligent man. Perhaps even 
you will not be in the least surprised by it. Only one who 
knows England who knows the stolid, unenthusiastic, 
but dogged prejudice of our well-dressed churchmen and 
church women, would be aware that there is any courage 
requisite to say what Hooker has said. Read some of the 
reports of our Convocation, especially those of the Lower 
House read them in their eternal battle with Colenso 
and you will understand where English churchmen are 
in their course of development. 

I have nothing to say of myself, or I would willingly 
say it. I am not idle, in one sense I do the best I can 
by reading and thinking to get some idea of things in gen- 
eral physiology and other 'ologies I strive to get some 
hold of but in the way of writing I do nothing, nor feel 
that I am capable of doing anything. The brain works, 
but to no apparent result. You do as well as think, and 
therefore lead a far more perfect life. May it last long, 
in its cheerful and wise activity. 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

Oct. 19, 1868. 

[Anxious about her husband's health.] My fragile only 
one ! Oh, it is a very fearful thing to have an only one ! 

Happy are wives who are mothers ! 

Oct. 1868. 

Oh, the solemn, the sad, the suffering days that must 

come ! I was saying to M A that I sometimes 

feared that these, which are all praise or pleasure, might 
unfit me for them ; and she said in her gentle, wise way : 
" It is the tree that has stood in richest soil and brightest 
sunshine that best bears the frost." God give me now the 
gift of thankfulness ! 



THE little book made up in later years by Mrs. Wil- 
lett, " Lines by L. C. S.," contains these verses, dated 
" Feb. 24, 1869, Brighton." 

In the noble band of workers 

Seems no place for such as I ; 
They have faith where I have yearning, 

They can teach where I but sigh ; 
They can point the road distinctly, 

Where for me the shadows lie. 

Lofty purpose, high endeavour, 

These are not ordained for me ; 
Wayside flower may strive its utmost, 

It can ne'er become a tree, 
Yet a child may laugh to gather, 

And a sick man smile to see. 

And I, too, in God's creation, 

Have my little proper part ; 
He must mean some service surely 

For weak hand and timid heart, 
Transient joys for my diffusing, 

For my healing, transient smart. 

Just to fling a ray of comfort 

O'er life's downcast, dreary ways ! 

Just to fan a better impulse 
By a full and ready praise ; 

Pitying where I may not succour, 
Loving where I cannot raise ! 


(From the Memoir.) 

We had debated with ourselves whether to spend the 
following summer in Derbyshire or Cornwall ; but I had 
a longing to see the Atlantic break on the Bude shore, 
having read of the waves rising there to an unusual 
height ; and my husband, to whose more occupied mind 
place was less important, allowed my preference to pre- 
vail. It was a long journey to take to a spot quite un- 
known to us, where, of course, we should not have a single 
acquaintance. I think I never set out in a greater ferment 
of delight than on that bright April day ! But Bude is 
a place that has its wrong side, " a bare, sandy common, 
and an ugly canal ; " and my husband's first impression of 
it, given in a letter to a dear niece, was " that a more 
dreary region could not be discovered in all England," 
and that, " had he fallen upon it alone, he should have 
been off like a shot the next morning." However, a little 
accident that befell me immediately on my arrival (the 
falling of a sashless window on my hands) so distressed 
him as to " make it impossible to growl at the place," and 
its own peculiar charm soon asserted itself. Later on he 
writes to the same niece : " These ground-swells of the 
Atlantic will spoil me for any other seas. On the coast of 
Sussex and Kent I have seen grand seas, but I was 
blinded or blown away in the attempt to look at them, 
and the waves were generally dark and turbid. On this 
coast I have seen waves as lustrous and clear as the waters 
of the Lake of Geneva rising in all the grand forms of a 

Our small abode at Bude was not so quiet as we could 
have wished, but William at once set about writing on a 
subject that had long been occupying his mind : " Know- 
ing and Feeling." The illusion that, as I take up one 
pocket-book after another, makes the year therein re- 
corded seem of all our years the best, comes over me 


si?": I dwell on our Bude life. The bold cliffs, 

where always there was a renovating breeze, short flower- 
filled turf for our feet, and a glorious semicircle of sea 
below us, where, as we stood or sat near the edge, great 
gulls would conie soaring up from the shore, not seeing us 
till close by, then calmly slant off their wide wings 
foam-white in the sunshine ; or whence we watched the 
ravens that had their nests in the rocks below tumble fan- 
tastically in the air, how these things delighted him ! 
The peaceful days were all made up of thinking, writing, 
and of four short rambles on common or shore. He took 
no long walks, felt no inclination for them ; but we heard 
that the air of the place often disposed to lassitude, and 
our landlady struck at first, as indeed strangers usually 
were, with his look of fragility told me that she and her 
neighbors noticed a marked improvement as the weeks 
went on. The summer brought us a dear young niece ; 
and General and Mrs. Cotton, whose presence in Borrow- 
dale had been a delight the previous summer, now spent 
three weeks at Bude. William, very busily engaged with 
his own thoughts and pen, only joined in one excursion 
that to Tintagel. In a letter to his niece Clara he says : 
" I was very glad that I went. It was a kind of scen- 
ery somewhat novel to me. At Tintagel you stand on a 
rock 500 feet above the level of the sea which juts 
out, and enables you to command a magnificent view of 
both sides of this beautiful coast. What makes the chief 
charm of the view are the grand, isolated rocks that rise 
at some little distance from the shore out of the blue sea. 
These assume various shapes, and all beautiful. But per- 
haps the greatest novelty at Tintagel was the caves. In 
one of these the greenest of ferns had grown over the roof 
in the most delectable way, and the color of the rocks 
was to me quite surprising all the colors of the richest 
marbles dark red, green, yellow, but a sort of dull, deep 
purple being the prevailing tint. In another cave it was 


not the colors one admired, but the admirable proportions, 
the lofty roof, the form of the whole. In this second 
cave we saw a spectacle I shall never forget. The cave 
led through to the ocean. It was the calmest and bright- 
est of days, but there was a ground swell, and the magnif- 
icence of the waves as they filled for a moment the whole 
entrance to the cave, then dashed up the spray to the roof, 
was something to remember forever." 

From the 10th of September to the 5th of January we 
were quite alone, and the little desk was soon permanently 
installed in the joint sitting-room. As usual, I have no 
outward events to record. A wonderfully high tide had 
been predicted for the 6th of October, such as would lay 
half Bude partially under water ; but there was no wind 
that night, and we watched the calm sea flow in the vil- 
lage lights reflected in its perfect stillness flow in and 
turn, having spread no further than at the September 
spring-tides. I confess I was disappointed ; but William, 
who never had any craving for the abnormal, was heartily 
glad that the low-lying houses should escape the antici- 
pated discomfort. One day we saw the rocket apparatus 
used, but only in the way of practice. This was a novel 
sight to both, and a great interest. The sunsets grew 
finer as autumn advanced, and we invariably went out to 
watch them. Even in December we could sit in the shel' 
ter of the rocks without any fear of chill. The morning 
and evening hours were occupied by the projected treatise 
on Psychology ; I used sometimes to doubt whether the 
critic would ever let the author finish it ! But however 
intent my husband might be on this or other abstruse sub- 
jects, he was never rendered absent-minded, never so 
much as let the fire go out while he was writing, and the 
moment the pen was laid down the brow was all smooth- 
ness, the eye all light, and he as ready to listen to any 
trifle his companion might have to impart as to share his 
own trains of thought with her. He had indeed a rare 


gift of sympathy. Even trivial things told to him seemed 
trivial no longer ; while as to the higher aspirations and 
the perplexities they bring, these spontaneously took, as 
it were, refuge in hie mind the former to gain strength 
and support, the latter a tender comprehension that al- 
ways lightened if it could not always remove. 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

BRIGHTON, January 18, 1869. 

So glad, child of my affections, to hear of all your en- 
joyments ! I hope your stay will be prolonged a little, 
and that you will have a little peaceful stay at the Rec- 
tory, and return well and strengthened for trouble. May 
it be nothing worse than change of lodgings but I don't 
underrate that annoyance, remembering, oh, my darling, 
oh, so well, the passionate reluctance one had in youth to 
certain things, the feeling that they were intolerable, and 
that Heaven and Enrth somehow must avert them, be- 
cause we could not stand them and so ! But you are 
calmer and wiser and better than your Zia was at twenty- 
five. Live in the present, all you can. There may be 
some bright hour in circumstances quite close at hand. I 
am always expecting some " fairy prince " for my chick. 
Yes indeed, power and wealth, rank and state, are all pre- 
cious possessions it were folly to underrate them. But 
one thing is certain: to those who have them they are 
things of course ; to those who have them not they are 
captivating to the imagination. Remembering, however, 
the millions who have far less of comfort, graceful appli- 
ances, pleasantnesses, than ou/selves still more, remem- 
bering the hundreds of thousands tortured with actual 
want one comes I think to feel rather a grateful hum- 
ble wonder that so much should have been bestowed upon 
one, than a longing for more. One thing is indisputable : 
the chronic mood of looking longingly at what we have 
not, or thankfully at what we have, realizes two very dif- 


ferent types of character. And we certainly can encour- 
age the one or the other. And I know which I want my 
darling to encourage the one her reason approves. I 
am re-reading that marvellous book, Carlyle's " French 
Revolution." Some great change there will be in the 
structure of our society. The pauperizing of some classes, 
the starving of others out of their very humanity, cannot 
go on, if there be a God that ruleth the earth and is evolv- 
ing the development of man. . . . 

February 25, 1869. 

. . . And now, with her nature deepened and expanded 
by years of beautiful life, and companionship with a high 
and holy nature, I do believe, dear, that she is a perfect 
woman, such as it does one good to see, still more to be 
with. For me, I have always told you how I thank God 
for my friends' virtues. Very halting will my walk al- 
ways be, very blurred my good, but I can love goodness, 
and believe in a standard I can never reach, and take 
some comfort in thoughts like this : 

" All I could never be, 

All men ignored in me, 
This I was worth to God, whose wheel the pitcher shaped." 

March 18, 1869. 

... I don't know that I ever saw William look 
brighter or better than this morning, talking to me of the 
social questions that interest him so intensely. These 
earthquakes are solemn things, are they not ? How if 
England should have to suffer as other countries have 
done? London as Lisbon? I do believe my dear one 
would be glad to be blown up any day, provided, the great 
mass of pauperism which so grieves him coming to the 
same end, society might be inaugurated upon a better 

BUDE, November 19, 1869. 

Wednesday. Such a lovely morning brilliant sun. 
shine a blue satin sea, with very large waves, blue- 


green, and as they break their spray is driven back by a 
slight land wind, like the hair of a maenad. Beautiful 
exceedingly ! On such days as this, how I wish poor 

dear were here. It goes to my heart to think of 

her as unhappy, but I do not see how it can be otherwise 
till something arises to give her the same sense of occupa- 
tion and energy which poor , his constant letters and 

her constant efforts for him, did. Grief is so complex a 
thing. He was not certainly the pleasure of her life, but 
he called her out and now comes a blank. The better 
trained women of the future will have their sorrows, but 
half the misery our generation goes through is lack of 
pursuit, unfitness for any because of the defective mental 
training we have had. Suppose now there was something 

for dear to do which no one else did in her circle, 

and for which they all were dependent upon her do you 
not feel that she would be a different creature ? Lodging- 
house life is very unfavourable to us all in this respect. A 
home, be it ever so tiny, gives occupation. As things are, 
change of scene is a relief, because it fills up time, and 
keeps off the consciousness of having nothing to do. So 
with visiting ; and indeed so with marriage for one 
case of real sympathy of heart and soul, there are at least 
five, I should say, where the fuller life is the real attrac- 
tion. There is a better time coming I shall not see it, 
but I am glad to have seen its dawn. . . But, my sweet, 
I don't know why I am prosing on to you now ; you must 
do as I did all my youth, and indeed you will do better, 
for your work is skilfully done, and is a more legitimate 
employment. Still, you must struggle with the same 
sense of wasted faculties which drove me to seek unworthy 
excitement till one of two things happens. Oh, I will 
think only of one, some really happy marriage some- 
body not too rich to live for, and so to have all your 
sense and sweetness thoroughly called out and rewarded. 
I think very highly of you, my child, but I do desire that 


you should cultivate your reason, and read books that de- 
mand and strengthen thought. However sweet and dear 
our friends may be, we seldom encounter those who raise 
us open out new vistas help us to discriminate. I 
could wish for you the companionship of an intellectual 
man, not a lover. . . . And while I was running on at 
full tilt and becoming tedious, in came the post such a 
good one and having glanced at the four letters, I left 
them and we two set out for such a delightful ramble 
along the cliffs. What the beauty of the blue sea with 
its exquisite surf ! Nothing equals a ground swell. 
[There follow a score of items from the letters just re- 
ceived, with sympathetic comments.] . . . Salcombe must 
be sweet, but there never will be such a sea as Bude can 
show. If you could hear the thunder of the waves ! It is 
sad to know that such glories are going on in the middle 
of the night. We saw such splendors this evening 
gold in the west, the tenderest pink suffusing the east and 
the moon rising, and then the sea the serried ranks of 
waves, incredibly large. And in their foam, and the 
smooth reflex of the water, such opal, iridescent, unuttera- 
ble colors ! We have been, I may say, saturated with 
beauty. ... As I confided to you my aged perplexities 
about clothing, I may as well tell you that light flashed 
in with economy. I have a velvet Garibaldi, made of 
precious mother's cloak, with a bow behind, and an al- 
paca skirt (black of course) with three small flounces, 
piped with velvet. That will do quite well, with my black 
and yellow and for evening, I hope something can be 
done with moire dyed black. My dear old shag is al- 
ways respectable. How charmingly warm a sealskin 
bonnet must be ! Is it very dear ? Tell me how it is 
trimmed. But, good Heaven ! what matters it what I put 
on ? Only that a decent bonnet I should like, for dear 
Mrs. Stirling's drum. . . . Clara is the gayest of the gay, 
has guests always, I think, and a great many dinner par- 


ties. She writes in such joyous spirits, seems full of 
energy, and writes with such affection, as if some supreme 
blessedness must make her heart overflow. How I grieve 

over dear Mrs. P 's sufferings, and how I admire 

her courage and self-conquest. I am the poorest of crea- 
tures ! Though I know and say that it is not worth a 
thought, rheumatism has been making me restless and 
good-for-nothing these last days. Better, I think, this even- 
ing I dare say dear Mrs. P- would never have 

named or noticed so slight a pain. Give her my kind 
love, and say how I admire her. Not many days are let- 
terless. Oh, how fast they pass, these days of unbroken 
peace arid love ! What it is to live with one who is always 
sustaining your faculties and your spirits by his ever ten- 
der over-appreciation that courtesy which always notices 
your merest trivialities respectfully ! We are what oth- 
ers think us, in such great measure. Good-night, chick 
of my heart. The dear Moly sends love to you. 

BUDE, Dec. 4, 

. . . What a pleasant letter you wrote me, my darling ; 
how I enter into what you say about the distastef ulness of 
gossip. Here is a delightful passage from Carlyle, apro- 
pos thereof. 

Nay, what is that wonderful spirit of Interference, were it 
but manifested as the paltriest scandal and tea-table backbitings, 
other than inversely a heartfelt, indestructible sympathy of man 
with man ? . . . The philosopher's wife complained to him that 
certain two-legged animals without feathers spoke evil of him, 
spitefully criticised his goings out and comings in ; wherein she 
too failed not of her share. " Light of my life," answered the 
philosopher, " it is their love of us, unknown to themselves, and 
taking a foolish shape ; thank them for it, and do thou love 
them more wisely. Were we mere steam-engines, working here 
under this roof-tree, they would scorn to speak of us once in a 


But so long as women are uneducated (which may co- 
exist with accomplishments and modern languages), so 
long as they have never generalized at all, or looked be- 
yond what is merely personal, so long will they gossip. 
Generally speaking, men, even average professional men, 
don't gossip, because they have an apprehension of public 
interests. When a man gossips, all admit he is degraded. 
With women as yet it is too much the rule, because they 
have so little else to talk about, thinking of little else. 
But the change now going on will be a rapid one. Mean- 
time, let all who feel the pitiableness of living thus upon 
others cultivate their minds, were it only by reading 
books that momentarily lift them out of the concrete into 
the abstract a book of science, even if they retain but 
the smallest gleaning. I feel a different being say that 
some trivial thing has vexed me after reading (just 
now) LyelTs Geology or whatever else. You, with your 
stronger memory and clearer head for positive science 
may do much for yourself ; and if you say " Why should 
I ? " I would answer, that you may be cheerf uller and 
therefore make others happier. There is an infinite sad- 
ness in a mind left fallow. Will you not, to please me, 
never speak against the blessed movement for the higher 
education of women ? It is easy to laugh at " strong- 
minded women," but oh, what an ignorant laugh it is ! I 
have been guilty of it, and read Mill's admirable book on 
that subject with a sense of humiliation which I think was 
wholesome. . . . Mind you tell me all that interests you. 
I enjoy all your pleasures do you not know I do ? If 
you see " Good Words " for this month, peep at some 
lines by your Zia. 


No two leaves above us waving 

Are quite like in form and hue, 
No two flowers in equal measure 

Hold the blessing of the dew, 


Nothing is on earth repeated, 
All is special, all is new. 

So of all the hosts of lovers, 

Now and in the days of yore, 
Loving deeply, loving lightly, 

Loving less, or loving more, 
None have loved I hold it certain 

Quite as you and I before ! m 

Hearts have beat, but not as ours did 

When this hope upon us broke ; 
All our former life mere dreaming, 

Till to consciousness we woke 
In a world anew created, 

By a little word each spoke. 

Not as ours I for that was needed, 

What belongs to us alone ; 
Just the years we two have counted, 

Just the sorrows we have known, 
Just your strength, and just my weakness 

Love ! our love is all our own ! 

Written for C , June, 1869. 

From " Good Words," December, 1869. 


If I had never met thee, my beloved, 

As in this world, where so much waste is seen, 
OP seeming waste, might easily have been, 

I wonder what my nature would have proved ! 

I am so much thy work ; thy thoughts rule mine, 
Give them direction, lift from what is low ; 
What grasp or play of mind I have, I owe 

To the strong happiness of being thine. 

I catch thy tastes, enjoy what pleases thee, 
Learn what is beautiful from thy delight, 
Wait on thy choosing to decide aright ; 

'T is but thy shadow, any praise in me. 


To love, to pity, to forgive with ease, 

In others' hopes and fears to claim a part 
Are but the o'erflow of a blissful heart, 

And having thee, how should I fail in these ? 

If thou shouldst leave me ! in that utter woe 
I wonder what of life could still be mine ! 
Would mind be quench'd, and heart grow cold with thine? 
O God ! forbid that ever I should know ! 

From " Good Words," December, 1869. 

To Mr. Thomas Constable. 

BUDE [1869]. 

. . . What a mystery is the intense enjoyment of differ- 
ent phases of nature to different minds. A golden birch- 
tree bending against a blue sky will transport William. 
/ like, as uncultivated natures always do, the portentous 
the storm, the flood, the ground-swell above all ! ... 
All the Scotch firs at the head of Derwentwater gone ! 
As the old negress truly observed, " The Lord lets dreffle 
things happen ! " You can imagine how my heart glows 
at the thought of Edinburgh. Much solitude with the 
Einziger intervals of sociality with dearly loved 
friends some homely intercourse with the few that one 
can help that would always be my life's ideal. How I 
shall miss Sally when we return to Newton Place ! But 
do you know, I suspect there is a wrong side to all this, 
and that I shrink from general society and acquaintance 
because a woman of my age is so utterly unattractive 
there, entirely a nonenity if not a bore ! 

To Miss Edith Wrench, chiefly from Bude, in 1869. 

And oh, my Edith, be thankful for what God has given 
you, and never mind books. They are but written 
thoughts of living men ; you '11 learn from the men and 
women themselves. The love of reading is a great re- 
source, but not the very avenue of wisdom. Live your 


best ; try to shun all extravagance, extravagant wishes as 
well as expenditure. Try to believe that place does not 
make so much difference as whether we are busy in the 
place. I always find you a dear and congenial companion. 

Economy must be attended to. That 's a fundamental, 
simple honesty ; scarce a virtue, but soil for virtues to 
grow in, soil without which none can grow. 

I prefer the unprosperous. Perhaps this savours of self- 
ishness, for one can do nothing for those who have all and 
abound. I am wrong we can rejoice with them. 

Oh, that I could impart to you my horror and dread of 
debts of any and every kind ! No one can have every- 
thing they might fancy ; there must always be an effort to 
live within one's means or they will be exceeded ; and 
once exceeded, good-by all comfort, all honour, all affec- 
tion. Believe me, once in debt and a person would be 
glad of any one's death, so it might bring a windfall ! 

Let me tell you what I am looking out upon. A white 
world (we had a quite deep snow on Saturday night) spark- 
ling in brilliant sunshine, the sands purely white up to the 
water's edge, the little river winding along, partially 
frozen, the vessels slowly stealing out of the harbour, with 
Christmas nosegays at the masthead, and every sail set 
they look so dark contrasted with the snow. All about in 
the little garden charming little birds (we 've been feed- 
ing them with crumbs, and I've just sent for canary 
seed), robins with bright waistcoats and fluffy, portly fig- 
ures, and the most audacious pair of wagtails they were 
both in the little room yesterday, and I caught one quite 
easily and kissed it. What a strange love one feels for 
" a bird in the hand," warm, fluttering, pulsing. One of 
these wagtails eats up the crumbs at a most astonishing 


rate, and when he can no more walks up and down the 
little path to the gate, keeping off the Bobuses ! 

There is no gift so precious as a cheerful temper, and I 
do believe no one thing that wins so much love. ... It 
may indeed be more blessed to give than to receive, but 
when the former luxury is not within one's honest reach, 
it is blessed too to receive, from those one thoroughly 
loves, as I do H . 

If I had life to begin over again, I would learn a little 
simple surgery. I think everybody should know how to 
bandage properly. 

Yesterday there was no stirring. Never was there such 
wind and such sublime rain, sheets of it, quite exciting 
to watch, the ground before us covered with water as in a 
high tide. The day before we had had such a fine wild 
blow along the cliffs, and I shall never forget the stormy 
grandeur of the scene. The sea in awful shadow, the 
black sky rent toward the north, and a broad space of 
green blue, wondrously pure and ethereal. Near the 
horizon a range of cloud peaks catching the sunlight that 
we could not see, and across this space of light and colour 
such columns of dark rain driving along. Words are poor 
things but it was very glorious. The rain caught us, 
and there we sheltered, so cheery and glowing, under a 
wall with ragged gorse top, and how the wind shook our 
gorse tent ! And even there, on the Widemouth road, 
great foam flakes whirled along with the wild rain. In 
the afternoon I went to the breakwater, and was there 
long, not crossing, the foam and wind daunting me, but 
watching the great rollers. 


To Mrs. Cotton. 

BUDE, Nov. 29, 

This is the dullest of wet mornings, and it occurs to me 
that there is no better way of brightening it up than 
writing to you. So I put by my darning, and place your 
photograph so that you look at me calmly with hand sus- 
pended as if in excellent listening mood. Can I bring 
you back in thought to Bude to-day will you come 
though it is at its worst ? Saturday was furious, rain dash- 
ing at the panes, blurring them so that one could scarce 
see the red river of mud that swelled up to its banks, 
spreading over much of the sand and staining the whole 
of the bay. Really Saturday was almost sublimely wild. 
This morning it is only dull persistent rain. Sitting at 
the window I watch the carts crawl along the sand, the pa- 
tient horses having hard work with their heavy loads; 
near at hand the building of new houses, the going up and 
down the ladders of active, intelligent-looking workmen, 
with straight profiles and tufty heads, who get on rapidly 
let the weather be what it may. And rapidly coming in, 
tossing about the bleak rocks, are rows of white waves, 
asking only a ray of light to be beautiful. To think 
that it is rather more than a month since I heard from you, 
more since I wrote to you ! You have been moving about 
so much (of course this is only the vainest excuse, but 
anything will do in the matter of letter-writing) and do 

you know, taking it for granted that you are now at , 

I feel rather shy of you there, in an atmosphere so essen- 
tially unlike that in which I have my being, and with a 
friend excellent and admirable I well believe in many 
and many a point where I should prove mere failure, but 
so different a type that from her point of view I must be 
reprehensible in most things and unintelligible in the rest. 
Ah, my dear one, do not even open this letter down-stairs ! 
Wait till bedtime, and let me feel I am having a chat 


with you and the beloved General, and then I can breathe. 
The very retrospect of the powdered footmen and the ri- 
gidity of Miss 's moral sense was beginning to make 

me feel quite formal. Those words, " rigidity," etc., be- 
tray me into a bit of lowest gossip. Well ! There was a 
certain stone-breaker I had encountered in my solitary 
springtime walks, and taken a fancy to, he was so 
cheerful in spite of rheumatism, and so quaint in his way 
of expressing himself. And he appreciated a little to- 
bacco. However, I had not come across him for some time 
when one early day in November it occurred to me that I 
would go to his cottage with my humble offering. The 
door was opened by a respectable woman with handker- 
chief up to her face. I thought my friend was dead. No, 
he had been ill and was well again, but she, the wife, was 
suffering sadly, and there to be sure was a fearful boil on 
the upper lip; the inflamed, tightly stretched skin ex- 
posed to the air, and nothing to mitigate the pain. You 
see at once what an opening for my medical skill, and 
like all quacks I pique myself a good deal. Never was a 
patient that responded more kindly to wet lint and oil 
silk, and she was such a pleasant, countrified, Welsh kind 
of woman, and gave me such a fee of apples (I had to 
take it too), and did not turn up her nose at Liebig, and 
in short our relations were most satisfactory when an 
unwelcome ray of light is thrown upon the case. She is 

the mother of Mrs. 's husband, the mother too of 

five other sons, all entitled simply to the mother's name, 
and brothers only on the mother's side. I positively stag- 
gered. One must draw a line, and become rigid some- 
where. Ah no rigid nowhere but you can under- 
stand that my pleasure is spoiled. The worst of these 
departures from the right is that they entail subterfuge 

and deceit. Mrs. , with her first baby, has just gone 

to her husband's house. Poor young man ! Naturally too 
the young wife may not like to keep up more than can be 


helped of that relationship. I must end my gossip by say- 
ing that the stone-breaker is really the husband, and 
speaks with a touching tenderness of his " old woman." 
I fear she is getting into thoroughly bad health, but here 
where doctors are sober I dare not practise extensively. 
And the dampness of the cottage by the canal would nul- 
lify quinine, I fear. And so it ends like most cases with a 
mere sigh, " The pity of it, the pity of it ! " 

. . . Mr. gives a frightful picture of the open re- 
bellion of feeling and language at Cork. Indeed, the 
state of Ireland is enough to make anyone grave, and 
those who viewed in a disestablished Church and a prom- 
ised Land Bill merely sops to Cerberus will no doubt loudly 
proclaim that they have failed to conciliate him. Never- 
theless, " Fais ce que dois, advienne que pourra ! " Things 
that have gone wrong so long won't come right at once. 
Our " Times " brings us in plenty of excitement. Is not 
dear General Cotton glad about Dr. Livingstone, and in- 
terested about these strange underground people, the Rua ? 
And the unexpected result of these late Deep Sea dredg- 
ings, too ! How can any one ever be dull in such a won- 
drous world any one, that is, who is heart-happy and in 
health ! We have had a new book parcel, with charming 
numbers of the " Revue des Deux Mondes." I should 
like you to read Mr. M. Arnold's two papers in the 
" Cornhill " on St. Paul. We 've got Browning's " Ring 
and Book" too, hard reading rather, crabbed, con- 
torted ; full of rough power and beauty, no doubt, further 
on. I Ve read your beautiful Spectrum book with atten- 
tion and delight, and shall read it again. I have come to 
believing that all books of that nature should be read 
twice. The days are very short, though. A little reading 
after breakfast of some improving book ; then comes the 
post, and the abstract gives way to the personal ; then, 
when it is fine, we get a good walk to Widemouth not 
unfrequently, and passing the cottage I remember how 


pleasant it was to rest there on the way to Nuthook ; and 
often, dear one, I improve localities by associating them 
with you. William and I live now all day long together, 
and almost always walk together ; and though variety is es- 
sential for us all, and this is too spoiling, too petting, too 
flattering a life, and it will do me good no doubt to have 
a little friction and a little sense of being seen through in- 
different eyes yet I do emphatically record it best and 
sweetest of all lives, and wish for all who are one that 
they could be cast on a desert island, say for seven months 
out of the twelve ! By the way, my little lines which I 
repeated to you are in the new " Good Words." So 
slight, it must be out of good nature Mr. Strahan put 
them in ; but still, being from the heart, some heart may 
echo them. 

These are the " little lines." 


Lord, in Thy sky of blue, 

No stain of cloud appears ; 

Gone all my faithless fears, 
Only Thy Love seems true. 
Help me to thank Thee, then, I pray, 
Walk in the. light and cheerfully obey ! 

Lord, when I look on high, 

Clouds only meet my sight ; 

Fears deepen with the night ; 
But yet it is Thy sky. 
Help me to trust Thee, then, I pray, 
Wait in the dark and tearfully obey. 




(From the Memoir.) 

WE left Bude, as I have said, early in January, left it 
for Bath, and there spent three weeks under the roof of 
my husband's old and true friend, Mrs. Haughton. In 
my pocket-book for this year he wrote, " A new decade ; 
the old wish : May it be a repetition of the last ! " There 
had been several entries of the kind : " May we have 
no new years, only the old ones back again ; " " May the 
new year be happy as the old," etc. As we purposed 
spending the following spring and summer in the north, 
at our dear Newton Place, we fixed upon Edinburgh for 
the few intervening winter weeks. I was greatly occu- 
pied with a dearly-loved invalid friend, and spent all my 
evenings with her. 

March found us once more at Newton Place, where we 
were welcomed and ministered to with an affection that we 
returned. . . . This year my husband published in the 
" Contemporary " two articles on " Knowing and Feel- 
ing," and wrote two papers for " Blackwood's Magazine." 
One of these was upon Dr. Noah Porter's work on the 
"Human Intellect," for which he had, and expressed, 
high appreciation, and which generally lay upon his writ- 
ing-table. I need hardly say that he also read much. 
What and how he read shall be described in words of his 
own, written long years before, and true to the end : 

" The books of a speculative man lie open quite tran- 
quilly before him, the page turns slowly they are the 


things that set his own thoughts in motion, and with those 
thoughts, whether the books lie there or not, he is chiefly 
engaged. What he reads is all along so mingled with and 
modified by his own reflections, that at the end of his la- 
bours he can scarcely tell what was his own and what the 
author's. The written words on the page have been like 
music to a thoughtful man, which prompts and accom- 
panies his long reverie, but itself is little heeded. Even 
when heeded most, and carefully weighed and scrutinized, 
the words he reads are still the mere utterance of a 
thought that has thus been carried to him ; they are not 
the utterance of this or that man, and bear on them noth- 
ing of motive or character. Whilst the historian, in pro- 
portion as he prosecutes his labours, recalls and reani- 
mates some scene of past experience, and adds detail to 
detail till it almost appears to be again a portion of the 
living world, the philosophic or metaphysic labourer, who 
is in search of first principles, and is exploring with this 
purpose the furthest recesses of the human mind, departs 
at every step more completely from all detail and every 
familiar object, and gains as the result of his toil some ab- 
stract truth, if truth it be, which after all no man seems to 
care for but himself. Like the celebrated traveller whose 
ambition it was to detect the source of the Nile, he leaves 
behind him the broad stream with its fertile and populous 
banks, whereon city and temple have been built he 
bends his devoted course to where the river of life grows 
more and more narrow, more and more silent as he pro- 
ceeds and at length stands alone, in brief and troubled 
rapture over a discovery which may still be dubious, and 
in which no one participates." 

I think I may as well sum up our summer in an ex- 
tract from an irregularly-kept diary of mine : " July the 
28th, 1870. . . . Here we have been for more than four 
months, for half our appointed time. And hitherto it is 
passing sweetly, as former summers have passed in this 


almost home. Visits from different friends have been 
much enjoyed by me, because I have had my conditions 
of enjoyment: William has been well, and occupied thor- 
oughly and energetically. . . . The days are all too short. 
And as they fly by, they bring an ever-deepening con- 
sciousness of the peerless treasure of living with one so 
entirely beloved and lovable, with so large an intellect, 
so gracious a nature ! 1 Never does word of detraction or 
spite cross his dear lips ; never is he hasty, unjust, uncan- 
did, unwise in thought or word. He ought to be an elevat- 
ing influence. I ought to be better. We have been all 
surrounded by hay the last fragrant cartful from the 
meadows will now be soon carried off, and of late we have 
had exquisite summer. The one apparent cloud over our 
little lives is that which darkens millions this horrible, 
appalling war. Sometimes one feels it almost wrong to 
be so happy.'* 

W. S. to Mr. Loomis. 

NEWTON PLACE, March 29, 1870. 

I must thank you myself although my wife will do it 
in the letter she is going to write for sending us those 
two lectures on Comtism. My first impression was that you 
were the author as well as the sender of them, but I came 
upon passages which I do not think your religious convic- 
tions would have allowed you to write, and I afterward 
observed the name of Fiske, put among the contents of 
the lectures, but in such a way as to indicate, I suppose, 
that these were a series of two of Mr. Fiske's lectures. I 
read them with great interest. The author has studied 
Herbert Spencer and appears in the main to agree with 
him. He is evidently marching in the foremost rank of 
the thinkers of our day, perhaps a step or two in advance 
of either you or me. At least, I suspect we should both 
pause before we admitted the Spencerian idea of the ob- 

1 It may be asked, "What were the faults, the drawbacks? " I 
answer now, as I should have done then, " / do not know them." 


jeet of religious worship (which I cannot distinguish from 
Spinoza's). However difficult it may be to form an idea 
of the personality of God, it seems to me that if we erase 
this conception entirely and pronounce against personal- 
ity, we may as well erase this sacred name at once from 
our vocabulary. Pantheism gives us only wonder, and 
the conception of the whole as in some way emanating 
from one source. We may come to this, but if we do the 
old names of God and religion will be little more than 
signs of certain past ways of thinking and feeling. 

It seemed to me very creditable to your newspaper 
press that so cheap a paper as this [the New York 
" World "] can give so much space to lectures of this pro- 
found character or rather, it is creditable to the read- 
ers of such papers. I doubt if any London journal would 
do the like. . . . We lead a contented, but I am ashamed 
to say (for my own part) a very idle life. 

" Good Words " for September, 1870, contained these 
lines by L. C. S. : 


Companions fair had I while, as a child, 

I danced along the smooth ascent to youth, 

Light-footed Joy, brave Hope, and Fancy wild, 
With wondrous fairy tales, all told for truth. 

Love, too, was near, and came at every call, 

Flung kisses and fond words to great and small ; 

But of Love's nature than I scarce took note at all. 

Companions these, along youth's level way, 
Hope, now the dearest, never left my side 

But Joy and Fancy would not always stay. 

And Love, drawn closer, proved with pain allied : 

No longer gave she freely as of yore, 

But set a price upon her priceless store, 

And, e'en when best repaid, in secret pined for more- 


Companions still are these, although I .find 
The path grow narrow as my steps descend ; 

Joy, Hope, and Fancy sometimes lag behind ; 
Let them ! so Love keep by me to the end ! 

Love changed and chasten'd careless grown of sway, 

Careless how any prize her or repay ; 

Caring for this alone to give herself away ! 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

NEWTON PLACE, Oct. 17, 1870. 

You know that my heart, always full of love and hope 
for you, must especially overflow on the eve of a birthday. 
But it shall overflow speechlessly. How do I know what 
is best and happiest for you ? All this present distress 
and perplexity may be preparing some brightness, some 
peace, some fulness, that I can't guess at. To me to be 
twenty, even with a few added years, seems of course to 
be very young indeed ! But I vividly recollect the time 
when it did not seem so and when, having as you know 
lived through much of keen joy and bitter disappointment, 
I did most truly believe life in the only sense of the term 
I much cared for was entirely over; and the matronly 
airs and premature abnegations I displayed, if ridiculous, 
were at least sincere. Therefore I can imagine that my 
dear child will feel a twinge of sadness, but I want her to 
view her age from the point of view of the community at 
large. It is only girls of seventeen who think an added 
decade so momentous it is not even youth, to whom the 
woman is generally more attractive than the girl. In the 
power of pleasing in society, power of helping by sympa- 
thy and intelligence, power of winning and returning love, 
power of thinking, power of doing seven and twenty is 
far beyond seventeen. Oh, do not darken your perfect 
youth by bewailing wilfully your immature youth ! Do 
not let the rose that has opened out to its " dainty core " 
hang its head because it cannot " close and be a bud 
again ! " So we may go through life, helpless, hopeless 


mourners for the past with heads reverted and eyes 
blind to all glory in the future. But there is no folly 
like anticipated wisdom. There is deep sadness for us 
all in this remorseless course of the years first because 
they carry us away from our prime, or that we fancied so ; 
next because they carry us on to decay, loss, or death. 
Deep sadness a deep all of waves and storms, so long as 
we passively yield to it. But the moment we put our 
hand to any work, the " going forward," which is the law 
of our existence, is a cheerful march too. And that is 
why I have been so anxious, oh, my darling, that your ex- 
cellent faculties should be called out by strenuous study. 
You will always be loved, will always have much friends 
and social interests and much besides ; but what we are 
is more than any having, and there does come a greater 
amount of energy and satisfaction from mental work than 
any variety of pleasure. And so it was I desired very 
ardently for you an Edinburgh winter and a leading pur- 
suit. ... I sit here and ask myself whether I am " inter- 
fering " as says. I dare say my character has that 

tendency, but I don't think I take the initiative. When 
any one confides in me, and I seem to see the remedy for 
the sorrow confided, the clue to the way out into the open, 
so plainly I can't help pointing it out, pressing its 
adoption. I am very glad your birthday finds you at Bur- 
ton Agnes, with such dear loving friends. I 'm uneasy 
about your cold, though, and terribly afraid you '11 bring 
it all back by attending that tiresome exhuming. I pic- 
ture to myself your standing long on damp ground, seeing 
a few broken bits of pottery turned out, and at last a 
doubled-up skeleton ! I know damp, icy feet and then a 
lay-up must come of it, and I wish Canon Greenwell and 
his barrow were miles away! . . . We are having the 
wildest weather water, water everywhere. Yesterday I 
caught Lodore finer than I had ever seen it, and scram- 
bled about alone like an ancient jat ! I was out a long 


time, and saw such beautiful things sun-gleams and 
rain-columns. Oh, for peace ! Oh, to be and do right ! 
That after all is Heaven. William is such an angel to 
me. I am glad you all approved his letter. He is very 
fond of my chick. . . . Perhaps you may yet manage 
Edinburgh. Anyhow, the winter may have more pleas- 
ures. My sweet child, your aunt Lucy has many things 
in her heart. And I have a great power of " living in 
your experience," and understand by my own feelings how 
precious Granny craved to see me happy. May all true 
blessedness be yours ! May you and Edith be ever more 
and more one in your tender affection to your mother, and 
your loyalty to each other. I believe Edith would put her 
hand into the fire to save you pain. 

To Mr. and Mrs. Loomis. 

NEWTON PLACE, Oct. 18, 1870. 

. . . You send us a delightful description of your holi- 
day month. How the dear little girls must have enjoyed 
it ! The grandmother's home is the children's heaven 
upon earth, generally speaking, and when it is near the 
sea it must be the seventh heaven ! Though to be sure 
time is not standing still with the sweet Daisy, and her 
delights on the beach are no longer those of a child. 
What an exquisite summer home you described, and 
how charming yours at Poughkeepsie must be. William 
and I often talk of crossing the Atlantic, and our dream 
always includes a peep at you. But I am too afraid of 
the passage the illness, and the dread of drowning 
which would alternate with the physical suffering. It is 
more probable that we shall meet again in this Lake coun- 
try, for when the girls are a little older you will wish to 
show them Europe. One summer day of more than usual 
beauty, as Mary and I were strolling before the house, we 
noticed two strangers, and felt sure that they were a very 
superior pair and an American pair. The gentleman very 


tall and thin, with a wonderful hat, intended to protect 
against a fiercer sun than ours, and with a large white 
umbrella besides. The lady flung herself down on the 
grass of the field in the shade one of the trees of our 
garden cast, and gazed at the soft hills, misty and there- 
fore loftier than reality, in the afternoon sun that was get- 
ting behind them ; the gentleman seemed mainly inter- 
ested in the configuration of the nearer rocks. You can't 
think how I longed to speak to them over the hedge, to 
ask them to come in and have a cup of afternoon tea ! I 
am sociable enough to long to do things of the kind not 
to do them! For that I have not courage not that 
blessed " certainty to please " which beauty, talents, and 
even youth are authorized to give or that still more 
blessed spontaneous geniality which acts without any reflex 
action, any questioning about the impression it produces. 
The clergyman to whom William lent your kind gift 
[ u Boston Lectures on Christianity and Scepticism "] and 
his wife have that geniality. They are really a remarka- 
ble pair, with an unusual amount of the " enthusiasm of 
humanity " about them. Mr. Borthwick looked in yester- 
day morning, and again carried off the essays. He is re- 
markably musical, and has given me a beautiful Hymn 
and Tune Book to me mere tantalization, for we no- 
mads have no piano, but I should like to send it to you. 
... A most exquisite season it has been, and the hideous 
war now raging has seemed impossible under such a sky. 
When last I wrote to you how little any one foresaw it ! 
A.nd now one cannot realize it cannot realize the sud- 
den and fearful reverses France has undergone. I don't 
know whether you ever see the " Contemporary Review." 
William has had two psychological papers in it, and oth- 
ers will follow. But what made me think of it just then 
was Mr. Ludlow's very interesting paper about the war. 
I so entirely feel with him that although at first one's 
sympathy was with Germany the aggressed, it turns away 


from Germany the implacable annexer and humbler of 
France. ... I know your friendly feelings will be glad 
to know that the summer. has passed very happily with us. 
I had my sweet niece Mary, my almost child, here for 
more than three months. One other niece, Clara (can 
you recall a very tall girl at Brighton ?), now happily 
married, came with her first baby to the hotel near us and 
stayed there a month. She has developed into a delight- 
ful woman. This morning I have had a loving letter from 
her, with a photograph of her little son, three months old, 
and a fine chubby fellow, already developing a most 
marked individuality, according to the happy mother's be- 
lief! And so it is, I dare say, for always Love sees 
truest ! Indeed Love only knows. How should Indiffer- 
ence, or still less Dislike, gauge character? I firmly 
accept all that loving hearts tell ine about those they love. 
I may not see the person as they do but that 's because 
my eyes lack the anointing, and they are right. 

We have had also visits from other friends, one of them 
the sister of Arthur Clough, who is, I think, as well known 
with you as with us. And now we are alone, and that is 
the best of all though variety is of course pleasant, and 
all friends (and we see none but friends) are dearly wel- 
come. I think the death of Dickens has been my sharp- 
est sorrow this summer, and I do feel it as a source of per- 
sonal happiness closed. We have had Emerson's last 
book, full of beauty and wisdom. I have read some of 
the essays the fourth attentively. On this great sub- 
ject I cannot enter it is too great, and " clouds and 
darkness " are about it. Only one thing I do feel sure of, 
" Love is of God." My dear one has written a longer 
note than usual. I am thankful to believe that he looks 
well and is well his step elastic and light, always going 
up two steps at a time, his spirits so evenly bright and 
playful. . . . Nearly eight years since we last met but 
we are not forgetting each other, nor do I think we shall. 


Much love to you both, and persuade Daisy that she re- 
members me ! I hope you got the Dramas. 

W. S. to Same. 

. . . Talking of books, my Lucy despatched to you by 
post a little volume of poems dramas written as the 
date will show long, long ago. She did it in spite of my 
protest. I know they are dead that they never in fact 
lived and I am quite reconciled to their fate. I assure 
you it is one of the last things I should do to invite any 
one to their perusal. I have buried them long ago. 

The terrible war and the state of France engrosses us 
here, and I suppose is the great topic of interest with you. 
How to get nations to behave with justice to each other, 
and then how to get the several classes of which a nation 
is composed to live equitably together these problems 
were never brought before me more terribly than now. 
There was no rational cause for this most awful war 
nothing but senseless rivalry who is strongest? And 
France in her agony is now disclosing what ? The hos- 
tility between class and class, between rich and poor, capi- 
talist and workman. We have not got farther than this 
in our progress of civilization ! What is reported of the 
state of Lyons is even more ominous than the condition of 
Paris. We in England, cooped up in our little island, 
with a great population of the poor and discontented, have 
causes for alarm that you have not. So perhaps the 
anarchy which threatens France is looked on by us not 
with sympathy only for France, but with terror for our- 

Extracts from Letters to Mr. Thomas Constable. 

(Borrowdale, undated.) As for dear Sally, she was in 
highest force yesterday, and her ruffled dignity when poor 
Dinah introduced herself into the party was really amus- 
ing. Ah, so touchingly sweet to my heart! dear old 


Robert has left me a pretty stone, with a fossil of some 
kind or other, something, he had found and kept as a curi- 
osity. Why is it that we value the love of those we call 
the poor with so much tenderer a value than that of those 
who have our kind of culture ? 

(Undated.) Do you know what I have been doing the 
last three days ? Living in another world a world of 
grace, piety, and love, exquisiteness of all kinds which 
I think has done me some little good. I hope to be less 
censorious, since certainly I find less difference between 
myself and those I think most meanly of than between 
myself and the angels of which this book, " Le Recit d'une 
Soeur," by Madame Augustus Craven, gives the sacred 
and touching history. I charge you to get that book at 
once, if you have not already read it. The mother's char- 
acter in its humility and self-forgetf ulness reminds me not 
a little of my precious mother. The book is full of ex- 
quisite thoughts, and the characters depicted have a love- 
liness, an attractiveness, a perfection of grace, refinement, 
spontaneity, which certainly I have never met with before 
in any biography whatever. You won't mind their being- 

(Undated.) Miss seems to have lived such a pale 

life. I doubt if she has ever come into contact with any- 
thing but " decencies forever " no passion, no agony, no 
deep feeling, no strenuous effort to rise. In the long run 
I should prefer the society of a convict. 

(Undated.) I send you 's last address. Printing 

is a disease, I think, with him, but he is so nice and taking 
in so many ways, and " I 'm no pairfect mysel'," nor I 
suppose is William so, though / find him so, and cannot 
conceive living happily I mean / with any other hu- 
man creature. One is so free with him, so safe thought 
may beat its wings in sustaining, never restricting, air. 
All other companionship is a cage, more or less wide. In 
all others the very pleasure of it wearies in his enjoy- 


ment is also rest. Such is your happy experience you 
two peculiarly blessed ones. Well, now I hurry on, for 
the postman conies for letters now at two o'clock. The 
other day Miss called, and having talked of Switzer- 
land all the time (I liked that), just said as she was going 
away, " I hoped you liked my dear Mr. Constable ! " Not 
the remotest idea that I had ever seen you before, nor has 
she by this time the remotest idea of it, spite of all I said. 

Miss ignores one's existence so totally. There is 

discourtesy in her blandest tones, therefore, because the 
first element of courtesy is to make another feel that they 
are recognized as entities at least, as something, even 
if a disagreeable thing. Miss is both insolent, virtu- 
ally so, and insincere. Yet I don't hate her, but I do 
think her hateful. 

(Undated.) It is all mystery but surely love never 
dieth. At Bath we met some charming people, excellent 
people in all the affairs of life, mild, indulgent in temper 
and judgment, and they are quite enthusiastic about their 
faith of the negative kind no God conceivable, and de- 
cidedly no immortality ! I felt with them as one may on 
a glacier beautiful to the eye, sunlit like the rest, but 
deadly cold to touch. Then I saw a good deal of a dear 
good meek soul, who after agonies of inward conflict, and 
a night spent on the floor alone with God crying out 
of its depths for guidance, believed itself guided to the 
Church of Rome. And finally I had long talks with a 
fervent semi-Swedenborgian. But all these were earnest, 
unworldly, superior either intellectually or morally or 

(1870?) And so there is another of those absurd 
absurd only they are so melancholy persecutions going 
on among the U. P.'s, as well as elsewhere. Who can, 
who does, hold to that extract from the Westminster 
standards? It seems as though the human mind was 
undergoing some organic change, and not only could not 


believe, but could not conceive of as believable, many and 
many a doctrine taught me in my childhood, unhesita- 
tingly subscribed to by me till of later years, nay, never 
questioned in words by that blessed mother of mine, who 
was all tenderness, as you know, and would not have hurt 
a fly, yet who was never consciously delivered from the 
bondage of a terrific creed. Not, sweet soul, that, save 
perhaps for herself, it ever did terrify her. Good hearts 
are driven to bad logic in such cases. But oh, the diffi- 
culty of the whole question the difficulty of retaining I 
That is, I believe, the great trial of the present time to all 
those on whom is laid the necessity of thinking, and it is 
just the purest and best who realize the pang. A nature 
like mine is too frivolous, too much at the call of trivial 
interests, to feel it save in flashes ; and as regards conduct 
there is no difficulty in knowing the right at all events. 

(1870.) The sorrow the death of Charles Dickens 
has given me I cannot put into words. All England must 
mourn, and would have better missed, I think, any other 
man. I feel that a source of personal happiness is closed 
to me. Perhaps no one but a person living out of society 
and without personal cares could so look forward to those 
green numbers as I did. No other writer can give the 
vivid delight this true genius gave. 



OF this so joyful double life a part at least of the se- 
cret is an open one. No endowment and no propitious 
circumstance can open the gates of this Eden save to the 
pure in heart and the disciplined in life. How absent 
from these two are all rivalry, ambition, jealousy ! Not 
one pursuit or passion here that brings collision with an- 
other's good. And they are free, too, from that which 
so commonly mars life's joy, anxiety about material 
things. Most of mankind are forever troubled about 
food and raiment. This pair seem as care-free and as 
joyous as the sparrows and lilies. But they earn the 
freedom with a double price, which is gladly paid. 
They limit their wants, and they husband their resources. 
An utmost modesty of desire and a scrupulous economy 
win for them exemption from the fear and care that 
haunt so many households. How womanly and delight- 
ful are the touches in the wife's letters of just an oc- 
casional subdued regret for daintiness and prettiness 
which they must forego ! Those very light and transient 
regrets are all it costs them to give up the luxury and 
elegance which are to so many the end and aim of life. 
Luxury? Have they not love, thought, each other? 
Elegance ? This whole glorious world of beauty is theirs, 
this world of humanity too, by the tenure of reverence 
and sympathy. Little does it reck them of fine clothes, 
houses, equipages ! But there is in them no fancied su- 
periority to responsibilities of pounds, shillings, and 
pence ; down to a postage stamp, every expense is care- 


fully measured. So they honestly pay the price of their 
liberty : moderate wants, strict economy, and hence, 
nights and days undisturbed by care. 

Their paradise secludes them in a way from the rest 
of the world ; yet the wife we see preserves active and 
sympathetic relations with a wide circle of friends, makes 
kindly ties in every new lodging-house wherever their 
transient home is made, becomes a gracious helper among 
the poor. But the husband, save for her society, appears 
almost as much as ever a recluse. That innate bent to 
solitude, or the second nature wrought in the long years, 
does not yield even to the spell of her influence. He 
lives in her and in his thoughts. So interior is his life, so 
little has it of outward action even in little things, that 
not even her letters often show him to us in any distinct 
picture. The finest camera cannot take photographs 
from a life that is all thought and no action. The 
reader may sometimes wish that of the actors in this 
drama of two the man's figure stood out more distinctly. 
To read the wife's story is like looking at a religious pic- 
ture, where the face of the adoring saint glows on the can- 
vas, but of what the saint sees only a hint is disclosed. 
Nor can we much supply the want from other sources. 
Those who met William Smith felt a rare charm in him, 
but it was something so subtle, so little embodied in defi- 
nite acts, that small record of it could be made. One or 
two glimpses of him we may here borrow, from a friendly 
and impartial observer, who shows him to us doubtless as 
he appeared to those who were not of his inner circle. 
Mr. Alexander Strahan, so often mentioned by Lucy 
Smith, contributed to the "Day of Rest" for August, 
1881, as one number of " Twenty Years of a Publisher's 
Life," a sketch of William Smith ; and from it we quote 
the most descriptive passages. 

Tt was either late in 1861 or in the beginning of 1862 that 
one forenoon Mrs. Smith called at my office. As I went for- 


ward to meet her, I noticed, a step or two behind her, a slightly- 
built gentleman, somewhat below the middle height, and no 
longer young, though at the same time not showing age much. 
He had stopped in following Mrs. Smith, and was, in fact, look- 
ing disturbed, and as if, on the whole, he would rather be on 
the other side of the door. I scarcely needed telling that I at 
length saw the author of " Thorndale." The shyness which he 
showed was shyness of a very peculiar kind. After the first 
minute, it did not pain an observer to witness it. Hardly could 
it be said that as you talked on it passed away ; it, in some de- 
gree, stayed, but you came not to take it into account. A smile 
of perfect graciousness began to flit over his face, and the bright 
dark eyes met yours fully, in no way shrinking from looking 
into your mind, and quite ready to be looked into. But for the 
eyes, the face scarcely could be called impressive, though it grew 
more and more interesting as you gazed. The forehead was 
not high, but was well-formed. I afterwards found that he 
might fairly be described as a brilliant talker, when he was once 
roused. At this earliest meeting, however, in spite of some un- 
concealed encouragement from Mrs. Smith, the remarks he 
made were very brief, though always prompt and given with a 
smile. The shyness, meanwhile, went a little, came back again, 
and afresh faded, but towards the close of the talk it was rein- 
stated in nearly full force on my venturing to allude to his writ- 
ings. I found that the diffidence could become an actual em- 
barrassment if one did not restrain the natural impulse to offer 
words of praise. But the instant the conversation turned away 
from himself, Mr. Smith's mind quieted again. Taken alto- 
gether, there was, as I now try to recall that first interview, 
something nearly boyish in Mr. Smith's bearing, a touch of 
old-fashionedness, as though he had strayed for a minute into 
this world out of another ; but it was another world which, if 
not so bustling as this, was kinder, and in which everybody was 
very sincere. Only in some such way can I try to explain to 
myself the readiness with which you felt at full ease with one 
who was so shy constitutionally. Mr. and Mrs. Smith were at 
this time living at Brighton, and I very willingly accepted a 
kind invitation that I should visit them there. 

Some months passed before an opportunity for the visit of- 


fered, and when it did, and I was shown into the pleasant lodg- 
ings they occupied, I was for a moment a good deal puzzled. 
The gentleman who hastily rose from a writing-desk to welcome 
me, eager to be prompt in his kind greeting, and yet a little 
shrinking from having to offer it, was Mr. Smith, and yet 
scarcely so. A second's gazing, helped by a smile which made 
the white teeth flash out in the centre of a heavy beard, ren- 
dered it all plain ; when I previously saw the author of " Thorn- 
dale," he wore only very short whiskers on the upper part of 
the cheek. A beard does not greatly alter some faces, but there 
are others which it nearly transforms, and William Smith's vis- 
age belonged to the latter class. During that too short visit I 
first learned what a radiant gayety could be shed out of his 
strangely shy heart upon all around him. I should not be jus- 
tified in trying to picture the idyllic scene which their hearth 
then, as always, presented to the visitor. But the remembrance 
of it is very pleasant to those who ever witnessed it. Many 
people, who had not thought out its likelihood beforehand, 
would have been surprised to find that an acute ethical thinker 
and recondite metaphysician could be so merry in a large part 
of his talk. True, it alternated. In the midst of the light wit 
some very serious reflection would from time to time peep out ; 
even though, in the fashion of its utterer, it hurried to hide itself 
again. The general impression produced upon you was that 
you were in the society of a perfectly original man ; one who 
valued at very little most of the honours and the possessions 
prized by people in general, but who had deliberately stepped 
aside from the ordinary ambitions, to give himself up to think- 
ing everything out for himself, and living in his own self- 
prompted way, undisturbed. 

... It may have the trivial interest which belongs to even 
the peculiarities of notable men to set down among these brief 
memories of Mr. Smith that, on our reaching home, he, and not 
Mrs. Smith, at once proceeded to concoct tea. I hardly think 
that word too elaborate for the occasion, since the process itself 
was laborious, careful, minute. It was throughout accompanied 
by a half -jocose running commentary on his part, but this make- 
believe at fun was not allowed to interfere in the least with the 
serious proceeding. Nobody but himself, he semi-pathetically 


said, would take the pains to make tea properly. Then came 
some solemn explanations as to the rules which were necessary 
to be rightly observed ; these, I think I can remember, involved 
a preliminary warming of the pot, a catching the water for the 
infusing at just a particular state of ebullition, the allowing the 
herb to " draw " for only a given number of minutes, or perhaps 
it was seconds ; and I know not what other critical ceremonies. 
The result, I may state, was very satisfactory ; and Mr. Smith 
evidently enjoyed it as much as Dr. Johnson himself could have 
done, though a smaller number of cups satisfied him. 

. . . From this time I usually saw Mr. Smith whenever he 
came to London, and some matters of financial business brought 
him up to town at fixed periods. On one of these occasions, I, 
though not without a little trouble, got him to accept an invita- 
tion to spend an evening with me at my home in Bayswater, to 
meet some friends of my own. These included, among others, 
Dr. Norman Macleod, who had expressed to me a strong wish 
to make the acquaintance of William Smith. It was curious, 
and I may perhaps be allowed to say a little amusing, to note 
the author of " Thorndale's " shy demeanour among the group 
of admirers he found himself surrounded by. There was, I 
should say, not one present who did not feel intellectually in- 
debted to him, and it was not very unnatural that they should 
wish to acknowledge this to him, and to offer him their thanks. 
But a compliment always alarmed William Smith. I saw him, 
in a flutter of mental distress, turn his looks away from first one 
and then another, who had only inflicted on him the injury of 
offering him praise. I went to his help, and tried to protect 
him against this paying of compliments, which most men would 
have given much to receive. 

As I now think of him, William Smith stands out a very dis- 
tinct figure in the circle of that evening. There were men there 
well known in literature, some more conspicuously public than 
he ; but none of the others so differed from each other as he did 
from them all. I should suppose that, so far as mere money 
rewards went, he had been the least successful of that group of 
writers. But every one of them showed him a kind of defer- 
ence. I fancy they all felt that this slight, dark-eyed man, who 
was as diffident as he was able, and to whom neither achieve- 


ment nor age brought self-confidence, had made more personal 
sacrifices for letters than any other there, and in a certain sense 
had done their common vocation most honour, by pursuing liter- 
ature more completely for her own sake. Dr. Macleod, after 
some talk with him, took occasion to whisper to me, " Smith has 
more brains than all the lot of us, and a heart as pure as a 
woman's. I wish I could meet the man every day." 

Some such opinion, and some such wish as this, William 
Smith inspired in all who were brought into contact with him ; 
and this without seeking it, or even desiring it, anxious only that 
people would not talk of him, or think of him, but pass him by. 
It was not possible to lend yourself so entirely to his shyness. 
Some words, despite his silence and shrinking, were sure to fall 
from him, which sounded like things spoken from a higher plane 
of living, and you recognized in his simplicity a wise originality 
which witnessed to you that you were communicating with a stu- 
dent of the most perfect ideal type, who was dealing with the 
facts of experience at first hand, and so was able to dispense 
with conventionality. 

In his letters to Mr. Loomis, there are occasional 
touches of regret at his being, as he says, an " idler." 
The wish that he might have had more of active occu- 
pation, a freer mingling with men and women as his wife 
mingled with them, can hardly fail to occur to the 
reader. Whether his extreme seclusion was an innate 
necessity of his nature, it is in vain to ask. Nature, or 
circumstance, with how large an influence from voluntary 
acquiescence no one can say, had set him in a solitude 
of spirit, apart from his kind. Across the gulf his wife 
came to him like an angel, and made almost a heaven for 
him. She went freely to and fro, always closely compan- 
ioning him, but one also with her kind. But he, save for 
loving ties with some who were near of blood, had his 
only society in her. To the end, as at first, it was with 

" Thee, Nature, Thought that burns in me 
A living and consuming flame." 


And in that element of thought lay his real communion 
with mankind at large. Whatever treasures he found 
there, he was eager to share. In action, in lineament 
in flesh and blood, so to speak he is somewhat shadowy 
to us, but in his books we feel the throb and thrill of the 
currents of his heart and brain. 

He completed no book after " Gravenhurst." Possibly 
he might have done so had he had the stimulus of a more 
marked success for that book and for "Thorndale." 
They found many admirers, lovers not a few, but hardly 
the unmistakable award of a genuine and great success. 
The wife's letters of later years tell that her husband had 
some feeling of discouragement from their want of suc- 
cess, and that once he said, " with such a light leaping 
up in the brown eyes," " They will reprint them when I 
am dead ! " Shyly as he shrank from open praise, he 
needed the encouragement of recognition. Every man 
who writes for the public needs and needs all the more 
if he be truly modest a fair measure of success, to cer- 
tify to him that his work is worth doing. This disappoint- 
ment, like earlier ones, was borne with equanimity ; even 
to the partner of his inuiost thoughts there was scarcely a 
complaint but it perhaps had an effect in preventing 
further attempts. Thenceforth, his principal work was a 
continuation of the reviews in " Blackwood." But he was 
always thinking, pondering, fascinated by the problems of 
existence and with occasional purpose of embodying the 
results. The nearest approach to such an embodiment 
was the three essays on " Knowing and Feeling." To 
these, after his death, his wife added a fourth, from his 
manuscript, and they are published as a treatise by them- 
selves in the volume which also contains u Gravenhurst " 
and the " Memoir." 

A severe task it is to read this " Knowing and Feel- 
ing: a Contribution to Psychology;" yet to the serious 
student a richly repaying task. The style is lucid, but the 


lines run along the abstrusest provinces of thought. It is 
an essay in psychology by the introspective method. The 
standpoint is that of the Evolutionist. Our author's ex- 
position begins at the dawn of human consciousness, and 
leaving on one side man's " poor relations," and 
perhaps his ancestors, he studies the progress of man 
as the development of twin faculties, knowing and feeling. 
Both sensation and cognition are present, he maintains, 
in the earliest rudimentary consciousness of man : along 
this double line he grows. Sensation flowers into pas- 
sion ; cognition at first the mere perception of a resist- 
ing substance encountered through the muscular move- 
ment of the body passes up through various forms of 
sense-perception into ever fuller knowledge of surround- 
ing objects. Passion and knowledge act and react on 
each other ; the original simple passions of love and hate, 
becoming objects of reflection, are discerned as of differ- 
ent worth; love is thereby encouraged, and hate is 
restricted. Revenge is slowly modified into justice, and 
justice rises into higher forms. Out of pleasure in the 
approbation of others, and suffering in their disapproval 
(a judgment and a feeling blended, both in those who 
exercise the approval or disapproval and in those who 
receive it), grows a sense of accountability, of moral re- 
sponsibility. While thought educates and purifies emo- 
tion, emotion renders back an equal service by stimula- 
ting thought. So there is a perpetual, orderly growth. 
The order is universal not even to the human will be- 
longs arbitrariness or caprice ; the action of the will is 
swayed by the antecedent conditions of the individual; 
and the compatibility of this view with a system of re- 
wards and punishments, and with moral development, 
is ingeniously and effectively set forth. 

This is a rough and imperfect hint of the main lines 
of thought. It is a treatise requiring such close study 
that we cannot to advantage illustrate it by large quota- 


tion, as was practicable with " Thorndale " and " Graven- 
hurst." Its views are in line with modern knowledge, in 
sympathy with much that is current in modern spec- 
ulation, yet so independent and at points so divergent 
from the now prevalent philosophies that it cannot be 
classed under any of them. The author ranks himself 
neither with the sensational nor the intuitional school of 
psychology. As against the. former he maintains that an 
element of real knowledge coexists with sensation even in 
the earliest stages of human consciousness. As against 
the intuitional school, with its assertion that the mind is 
endowed from the first with certain highest truths, he 
holds that it is not in the earlier but in the later stages 
of human development that we must look for the most 
authoritative principles. 

The treatise, of about a hundred pages, shows in the 
last chapter, on " Our Passions " (supplied by the wife 
from the husband's manuscript), that the writer had in 
view a continuation into broader fields. The chapter be- 
gins, " Before we approach the problems of Sociology, we 
should frame for ourselves some distinct ideas of man as a 
social being ; " and it ends thus : " Having thus seen the 
elasticity and growth of human passion following, in 
short, human knowledge and change of outward circum- 
stance we are somewhat better prepared to enter on a 
survey of the past with some hope of dimly foreseeing the 
future." The frustration of this purpose is peculiarly 
tantalizing, because both in " Thorndale " and " Graven- 
hurst" the passages dealing with psychological analysis 
fall far short, in interest for the general reader, of what 
may be called the sociological chapters. 

There is much in the treatise, which, if assimilated and 
familiarized, yields very fruitful applications both to social 
administration and personal conduct. But the abstruse- 
ness of its fundamental lines, the remoteness from the 
familiar and homely interests of men, accords well with 


those moods of rapt absorption in which we see that our 
thinker passed much of his life, moods which he has 
portrayed graphically in the passage which his wife cites 
in the preceding chapter. 

At a single point we detach from the closely-wrought 
structure of the essays certain passages which touch a 
question of great practical moment. They occur in the 
discussion of the Will. The author's analysis of the Will 
beyond its primitive significance of " the relation be- 
tween the psychical and physical properties of man " 
resolves it into a combination of desire and knowledge. 
" A mere mental resolve to perform a certain action at a 
future time can be nothing but thought and desire, some 
combination of our old familiar elements of judgment and 
feeling." But that he recognizes a substantial reality un- 
der what is generally called free-will is made very clear. 

If the advocates of free-will only demand the acknowledg- 
ment of an intellectual energy which none of us can sound or 
fathom, and which is the last gift from the hand of God, I for 
one have no controversy with them ; that such energy must at 
each stage receive the conditions on which it works is also a 
truth which they, perhaps, on their side would feel bound to 
acknowledge. (Page 437.) 

But unquestionably modern knowledge does greatly 
limit that freedom of the will which was claimed when 
men knew less of the interdependence of body and mind. 
And it is of the highest interest to see how the new esti- 
mate can be adjusted to the moral necessities of the indi- 
vidual and the society. It is on this head that we cite 
some passages, whose large wisdom may be felt without 
committing ourselves to any theory on the nature of the 

Though we assign to him to each individual man the in- 
divisible soul we are all in imagination so familiar with, is not 
this new entity itself reacted on by the material instruments it is 


compelled to employ ? These nerves, this brain, are its slaves, 
and its tyrants also. They receive impressions or modifications 
from the very work they are engaged in, they grow this way or 
that by their very activity (growth which we call habit), and will 
at length perform work only of one kind. So the past comes to 
determine the present. In this, or some other way, man finds 
out that there is within his own little kingdom of mind, or self, 
an evolution, in which what has been determines what will be ; 
determines it to us, to our apprehension, who see only the 
growth, and cannot dive down to the grower, whether of the 
plant or the mind. 

If this be so, the startling reflection occurs, What becomes of 
our moral responsibility ? Do we not punish this or that scoun- 
drel in the firm faith that it depended on himself, at every mo- 
ment of his life, whether he would be a scoundrel or not ? How 
can I continue to punish him, or to punish him with the same 
sense of justice, if I am to believe that he grew into a scoundrel 
by the laws of nature laws somewhat more complicate, but of 
the same kind, that grow a tiger or a domestic dog ? And, 
moreover, if I myself am the person punished, in what spirit am 
I to receive my punishment? Good for the whole, you say. A 
necessity is imposed on society to punish, and it is a necessity 
for me to submit. Perhaps I may profit by it. But what of 
this sentiment of remorse of self-reproof ? If crime was a 
misfortune or a misery in some other man, it was but a misfor- 
tune and a misery in me. (Pages 373, 374.) 

Presuming we have arrived at the conclusion that mind and 
matter, psychical as well as physical qualities, are all parts of 
one stupendous scheme, parts of that harmonious whole we 
ascribe to the Infinite Power, which again manifests itself to us in 
that whole presuming that some such philosophical doctrine 
were generally accepted, what would be its influence on our 
moral sentiments ? 

I can well understand that a man with very vague notions 
about desert and punishment might, on first becoming acquainted 
with such a philosophy, be disposed to extract from it an excuse 
for self-indulgence. He has offended some one, who threatens 
punishment, and he pleads the necessity of the case, that "he 
could not help it " that, in short, his passions were too strong 


to be controlled. Some such colloquy as the following might 
take place : 

"But you could help it," the offended man might retort. 
" You had the two courses of conduct placed before you, and you 
chose this" 

*' Very true ; I chose. But then, as you know, I had certain 
habits and tastes, and but a certain amount of knowledge. I 
could not choose otherwise." 

" It was your duty not to let such habits and tastes, as you 
call them, become predominant. It is the first purpose of every 
intelligent man to form his own character ; you had the power 
to watch over yourself, and to check your* self-indulgences." 

" True again ; but you know as well as I do that I could not 
exercise a supervision over my own habits and tastes, with a 
view to the formation of my own character, unless I had this 
very purpose of forming a character. My power here is simply 
an acting or thinking under the influence of such a purpose. 
Now no such purpose has ever grown up in me, or it has been a 
plant of an extremely feeble description. I have been chiefly 
occupied with such chance pleasures they have been few 
enough that came within my reach. You, I believe, have had 
this solemn purpose of forming a character ; I congratulate you 
upon it ; in me it has not been evolved." 

Here the offended man will probably break off the colloquy. 
" All I can say is this," he will ultimately reply, " that if you 
do it again I will so punish you that you will choose better for 
the future." 

And if this is an earnest threat it will very likely be effectual, 
and lead to some better choice on the next occasion. It may 
also lead our tyro in philosophy to some reflection on the nature 
of punishment. Based on the past deed, its operation is really 
prospective. It stands between the past and the future. It is, 
in short, an instrument of education ; a coarse instrument, but 

Moreover, even the offended man, when his anger has sub- 
sided, may gather something from such a colloquy. He, too, 
will be led to reflect on the nature of vice and its punishment. 
He knows that in some extreme cases society can think only of 
self-defence. It either exterminates the criminal or incarcer- 


ates him, just as we are compelled to shoot a tiger or shut it in 
a cage. But these cases excepted, he too will note that punish- 
ment is in its nature a mode of education, and a mode not to be 
resorted to while there are other blander or more effectual 
modes within reach. 

What gain could it be to an individual to relieve him from 
punishment on the plea that passion and habit were too strong 
for him, and that he " could not help it ? " The more need that 
society should come to his aid and help him " to help it." What 
are any of us without the control of society ? 

Look into the village school. Here is an idle boy who 
lounges, and sulks, and slumbers over his book. In fact, he is 
fat, and lethargic in his temperament. A physiologist will sug- 
gest good reasons for his indolence. He cannot help it. Left 
to himself he cannot. But the schoolmaster comes to his assist- 
ance, applies reproof, shames him in the eyes of his fellow- 
pupils ; if need be, applies the cane. The boy struggles through 
his task. Thus stimulated, he becomes intelligent of something 
beyond marbles and peg-top. Would it have been kindness, 
would it have been well, for him or the community, if the plea 
*' he could not help it " had been listened to, and the lethargic 
temperament left in undisputed predominance ? It was pre- 
dominant, and for that reason, doubtless much to his regret, the 
schoolmaster was compelled to administer the sharp stimulant of 
the cane. (Pages 377-380.) 

Public punishments, such as are administered by the laws, are 
administered by the whole society, by the whole community, for 
its own interest and self-preservation. I have heard it asked, 
Why should a man be punished as an example for others 
why should he be sacrificed to the good of society ? And there- 
upon I have heard the querist endeavour to satisfy himself by 
some eternal fitness between punishment and crime. The cul- 
prit deserved, and therefore he was punished. The culprit de- 
serves no punishment at all, unless you can prove, first, that he 
committed the crime ; and, in the second place, that the pun- 
ishment of it is for the good of society. It is precisely this very 
element of the good of all that makes the punishment a right- 
eous punishment, that makes it deserved, that makes it justice, 


and not mere revenge. The man punished is one of the all. 
Would he renounce this solidarity? (Page 381.) 

As in punishing a criminal we put ourselves between the past 
and the future, punish the deed done to secure a better doing 
for the future, so we must desire the criminal also to put himself 
between the past and the future, to reproach himself for the 
deed done, and at the same moment resolve on better life for the 
future. We have no desire that he should inflict misery on him- 
self ; that leads to no good result. If it were possible for him 
to rest wholly in his remorse for the past, the sentiment would 
be of no avail. Penitence that leads to better life is the noblest 
of sentiments ; but it is noble in proportion as the sad penitent 
directs his steps to wiser courses. A remorse that shuts a man 
up for self-torture does not commend itself to us. " You have 
done wrong ; you know it and you feel it ; go now and do right ; 
show your sorrow in your better life." That is the language we 
expect to hear from the lips of intelligent men. Remorse that 
contemplates any other expiation than the better life for the 
future leads to superstitious practices. Again and again has 
society witnessed this spectacle : men and women have had re- 
morse, have expiated their vices by some self-torture, some ret- 
ributive punishment self-inflicted, and gone back into society 
ready to reproduce the same vices. There is no expiation for 
an old crime but a new virtue. (Page 382.) 

With maturer intellect he comes to understand how individu- 
als grow each in his own environment ; he becomes more toler- 
ant of the criminal, less tolerant of the crime; he wants to 
attack this last in every way imaginable stifle it,- if possible, 
in its birth. Morality takes the shape of a great desire desire 
of excellence in others and in himself desire of a completed 
society to be obtained only by the cooperation of each member 
of it. For such is the nature of the human hive. It forms the 
individual, yet itself is only an assemblage of individuals, 
each leading his own intelligent and passionate existence. Add, 
too, that such desire is sustained by the knowledge that it is 
shared with other minds around him, who will esteem and 
love him in proportion as he possesses and acts upon it ; sus- 
tained also by the knowledge that it is one with the laws of 


Surely, to believe that God has created a world which pro- 
gresses in part through the progressive purposes of man will not 
check the growth of such purposes. (Page 383.) 

Our thinker is as he is, and cannot be made otherwise. 
If he urges unrestingly the intellectual probe, plies perpet- 
ually his tools of analysis, to do so seems a necessity 
laid upon his spirit. And beautiful is it to see how his 
separation and helplessness amid the ordinary world of 
men wakes in the wife's heart a special tenderness, like a 
mother's for a child. She has told us that a successful 
and. prosperous man could scarcely have won the unre- 
served homage of her nature, but she gave it all to this 
lonely thinker. Her admiration for him, and delight in 
his society, blends subtly with her perception of his utter 
need of her care-taking. His incapacity to fit himself to 
the actual world is perfectly illustrated by one incident 
which she tells to his honor : how, while poverty seemed 
an insuperable barrier to the union for which they both 
longed, he was offered employment in translation, at a 
compensation of three hundred and sixty pounds, 
wealth, for such modest wants as theirs. But, " he needed 
the time for his own thinking," and he felt u a certain in- 
sincerity " in translating an author whose opinions differed 
from his own ; so there is no sign of even considering the 
offer ! A sort of celestial child this, straying quite help- 
lessly among the paths of earth. But he is not forgotten 
of Heaven, which sends him for his guardian angel one 
who shall be as it were both wife and mother. A divine 
impulse it is which urges her to make good to him every 
lack. He starves for society she will be to him society ! 
To his thoughts the world does not greatly care to listen 
her ear welcomes every whisper. " Thou art my gold, 
thou art my fame ! " those words are her passport to 
the woman's heaven. At the outset she does indeed at- 
tempt some gentle urgency she speaks of it as " some 
conventional prompting," but surely a most wifely im- 


pulse it was to draw him into a more active world. 
But he makes characteristic reply, and she loyally accepts 
thenceforth his mode of life, not only as his necessity, but 
as fit and best. Nay, so perfectly does her nature mould 
itself to his, and so absolute is the satisfaction he yields 
to her, as if heaven had decreed that to her soul alone 
should be fully opened all that spiritual beauty in him 
which expressed itself to others only in bright transient 
glimpses, so complete is this union of two in one that 
she finds their dual solitude the supremely happy condi- 
tion. " The gift of God," and His lovely miracle ! 

The intensity of her love for him is apparent in every 
word she utters, but its nobility is appreciated only when 
we see how sweetly she accepts the fact that his deepest 
interest is fastened on the unseen realities. There is 
something in their union that recalls Milton's line : 

" He for God only, she for God in him." 

To be in that sense second in his thoughts, while he is 
first in hers, breeds no dissatisfaction in her. 

The quality in him which inspired her homage is illus- 
trated to us by nothing better than his unvarying tone of 
sweetness and reverence toward that world of humanity 
in which he could never play an active part. Over-fine 
he seems for this world, but never a word do we catch of 
complaint against it as rough or harsh or coarse. If he 
finds small place for visible usefulness, he takes blame 
only to himself. He lives in a surging and troubled 
time: faiths and doubts, nationalities and classes, are 
clashing and jostling ; on that sublime strife his eyes and 
heart are fixed. His voice is not much listened to, 
what matters that ? To see that the movement of man- 
kind is forward, and God-led that absorbs him, that is 
enough for him. 

" Well roars the storm to them that hear 
A deeper voice across the storm." 


Yet we can see that even in his estate of happiness he 
feels in some degree the shadowing presence of life's un- 
answered questions. Her letters show that there are hours 
when she too feels the shadow's presence, the intense, 
the even painful longing for a clearer knowledge of the 
truth. We recognize that her transition, under her hus- 
band's guidance, from old beliefs to new ones, is not 
certainly in its immediate results an entire gain. In 
the creed of her youth, as she held it, the elements of 
cruelty and terror were practically ignored, or received 
only some dim theoretical assent. What Christianity 
essentially means, to such natures as her mother and her- 
self, is an unselfish rule of life, the sense of a fatherly 
care (" our Father knoweth what things we have need 
of"), and the soul's absolute safety in a Divine lover and 
Saviour the " Rock of Ages cleft for me." We miss, 
in the ways of thought into which she followed her hus- 
band, the nearness and tenderness of that personal trust. 
The outlook is wider: whatever of beneficent destiny is 
discerned is for the whole of mankind, instead of a frac- 
tion of it; "there is no outside to our Father's house." 
But, that word " Father " no longer rises spontaneous 
toward the supreme Power. It is revered, studied, obeyed, 
but can it be loved? Is there longer possible that 
" perfect love which casteth out fear ? " 

Such doubts, we see, send sometimes a deep shiver even 
through the peace of this happy pair. Doubts they should 
be called, not denials. Nor does the relinquishment of 
the old creed necessarily involve the permanent loss of that 
temper which accompanied and glorified it. The filial 
spirit in man toward his Creator is not the exclusive pos- 
session of any theology. How much that is filial mani- 
fests itself in this thinker what reverence, obedience, 
submission ! But there is a certain glad confidence, a 
trust which is joyful where submission is only humble 
and this " faith " is at the heart of the New Testament, 


breaking out there, in such words as " Beloved, now are 
we the sons of God ! " " And if children, then heirs, 
heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ ! " May we not say 
that such faith as this is a rightful possession of humanity, 
which, once acquired by the race, may be sometimes ob- 
scured, but always victoriously reasserts itself, deepens, 
and through the passing chill of changing thought emerges 
at last into warmer radiance ? Is it not this faith at the 
heart of the Christian Church, and even of Catholicism, 
which gives a vitality that no errors can quench ? 

And of this pious and beautiful thinker may we not 
surmise that it is an incompleteness and disproportion of 
life that hinders this confident gladness, this joyful trust ? 
Faith is nourished and exercised by Love and Action ; 
love he has found, but from action his life-long habit still 
bars him. The uplift in the universe, the present sustain- 
ing Divinity in man, is scarcely felt except by the soul 
that plies its energies as the strong swimmer breasts the 
waves. Service, hardihood, valor these win the great 
prize. " The Kingdom of Heaven is conquered and the 
stout-hearted make it their own ! " 

The shadow of the husband's uncertainties touches 
sometimes the wife on what thoughtful mind does not 
that shadow sometimes fall? But she is wrapped close 
and warm in a great love, a great happiness. " Love is of 
God ! " that always stands a rock beneath their feet. 
For the present need it suffices. 

It is perhaps not the completed and systematic treatise 
which best displays the personal lineaments of the author. 
These we seem to catch more truly, more distinctly, in the 
passing thoughts jotted down as they occur, and nearest 
resembling the spoken word, the every-day phrase and in- 
tonation. A few such thoughts taken from a collection 
copied by his wife from a note-book which she thinks be- 
longs to 1863 or 1864 may give us one more glimpse of 
this pure and delicate spirit. The passages are headed 


Cornelius Winter loquitur. (The wife's handwriting is 
ordinarily a difficult one to read, but all of this note-book 
is copied with the clearness of copperplate.) 

POVERTY IN CITIES. The poor ragged woman, at night in 
the cold damp streets, is singing the same sweet air I heard at 
the Opera singing it after her fashion. She begs her bread 
by these strains, devoted to pleasure and love. She makes the 
most refined of melodies the wail of her own hunger and dis- 
tress. I know no wail of distress so utterly miserable as this. 

OPINION. There is no fetter like the golden opinion of soci- 
ety, no restraint more wholesome. Yet he who would be a 
prophet or a teacher must be able to throw this gold, like other 
gold, away. 

COURTIER AND VALET. The silent, deferential manner of a 
well-bred servant, valet, or butler, in the establishment of a no- 
bleman, is much the same thing as the manner of the nobleman 
himself when he figures as a courtier in the palace. Both are 
proud of playing their part well. In both there is a self-respect 
in their disciplined humility. In both the deference has as 
much of pride as humility. 

ASCETICISM. Asceticism is self control gone mad. The mor- 
alist repudiates the lower for the sake of the higher. The as- 
cetic thinks there is virtue in simple repudiation. Self-sacrifice 
is properly the choice of the highest, accompanied necessarily by 
a sacrifice of the lower. The ascetic separates what should be 
one act of choice, and finds a virtue in the self-renunciation 

CONTENT. O children of men, he would say, is there 
not a heaven of beauty, by day and night, arched over you ! 
Can you not read herein the presence of your God ? How know 
you that in other regions his presence is otherwise made 
known ? He is visible always in his works can He be visible 
in any other way ? Aspire ! But you will aspire only to other 
skies. Aspire, but be happy under these, or under what other 
skies are you sure of happiness ? " The kingdom of heaven is 
within you." You live always in the Infinite as well as in the 

SNOWDON. You see the mountain, from the necessity of the 


case, must separate himself a little from the rest of the earth. 
Our Snowdon as he rises gets his shoulder out of the crowd. 

MORAL RULES. Here is an instance of their growth, though 
on a limited subject. In England it is a rule of commercial 
morality that the tradesman should have one price for all cus- 
tomers. No such rule is established in an Eastern bazaar. 
Each transaction is a separate bargain ; the morality of the 
market sanctions the best price that can be got; and the 
stranger must suffer from his ignorance. 

THE CULTUS. You may read in Prescott's History how the 
ancient Mexicans used to congregate in a public square, decked 
out in all their feathers, to greet the sun at his rising. They 
shouted as he rose. I prefer to open my casement silently, and 
to look out alone. 

HYPOCRISY. On the greatest subjects on which human be- 
ings can think, there ought not to be an habitual systematic 
hypocrisy. Nor is there amongst the multitude. But in our 
educated classes there is. But this is not to be wondered at. 
A free-thinker who does not see an absolute gain to society by 
the substitution of his own faith or opinion for the popular faith 
can have no motive for sincerity. There will be this hypocrisy 
till the moment comes when a new and simpler faith brings in 
some new enthusiasm on the side of virtue. 

TERROR. How have we been tortured into goodness. What 
a tragedy has here purified us by tears ! 

PROGRESS. I no more wish you to be eternally occupied with 
progress than forever occupied with your immortal state. Live 
your best do your best progress and immortality will take 
care of themselves. 

INDUSTRY. During the French Revolution a mob of men 
had somehow persuaded themselves that food and clothing were 
to be got out of Liberty and Fraternity. Liberty and Frater- 
nity may be excellent things, but they will not do the work of 
Industry. Food and clothing are not to be got out of political 
enthusiasm, however exalted. 

HEREDITARY SIN. I have read a statistical account which 
shows that two thirds of our criminal population were born of 
parents who themselves were more or less criminal belonged 
to the race of vagabonds and thieves. Apply your doctrine of 


compensation here ! Who could demand it better than these 
criminals? The very ill temper, the hateful passion which 
made them criminals, are part and parcel of their miserable lot. 

NOBLESSE OBLIGE. They who see must get out of the way 
of the blind. The blind cannot take care of them. 

EPITAPH engraved under the image of a lute : 
Placet, Tacet, Jacet. 

It speaks, however, of regret only and the past. At the boun- 
dary between this world and the next, two conflicting streams of 
sentiment meet; combine they do not, but they possess the 
mind in turn. Our friend is dead our friend is living ; he is 
lost he has but gone before ; we weep, we rejoice ; we believe 
at the same time in death and immortality. 

Two PRAYERS. The weak in their despair at the injustice of 
the strong called upon the gods to help them. And the gods 
heard their prayer. They sent a fear upon all human hearts, 
and one that crushed the wicked in his pride of strength. 

The time has come when the violence of wicked men is sub- 
dued and strength lies with the many and peaceful. Mean- 
while this fear haunts the gentle and the meek. They pray to 
the gods to relieve them from it. 

And this prayer also the gods I think will hear. 

DOUBT. Doubt is distressing, I admit. One says, Revelation 
has removed the distress. It has increased it. Still more dis- 
tracting doubts arise about this revelation. But even augmented 
thus, better the doubt and the free career of reason, than a 
truth and a command subjecting the reason. 

THE YOUNG LEAF. Our fruit-trees generally send forth their 
blossoms first, before the leaf, apparently that these may have the 
full benefit of the sun. An apple orchard is one cloud of pink 
and white blossoms a dazzling picture. But I like better the 
more ordinary procedure when the young leaf comes out alone 
upon the bough, and in its uncertain tint of gold or green itself 
seems half blossom and half leaf. And see, when you approach 
and look closer into it, how the young leaf rests partly coiled up 
in some sheath like the young of living creatures, gathering I 
know not what of tenderness out of its very imperfection. It 
was fortunate for him that the gentle Brahmin who first made 
it religion not to destroy an insect did not carry his amiable 


disposition one step further and feel that he could not hurt the 
young budding leaf. I feel myself something of the same re- 
luctance to crush a bud as to kill an insect. 


She came she went a fleeting guest, 

And trackless in our busy land. 
Whither ? and whence ? From rest to rest, 

Out of God's hand into God's hand. 



(From the Memoir.) 

IN the early autumn of 1870 my husband was for a 
time less uniformly well than usual teased with nettle- 
rash, less up to long walks. Yet there seemed nothing to 
alarm though I remember his saying one day when we 
were talking over our Swiss rambles of five years before, 
" I could not do those things now. La Sante is going 
down." And then in his tender pity he instantly added, 
" Let us hope only very gradually." I cannot retrace the 
slow and stealthy course of his illness. / cannot I did 
so more than a year ago, and that account, with a few 
additions, shall be repeated here. 

[In October her husband had one night a shivering fit, 
which was followed in the succeeding months by several 
others. They were at first attributed to the flooded con- 
dition of the meadows ; but when they recurred during a 
stay at Aberdovey and then at Brighton, they caused 
some alarm.] 

I may mention that the tenth anniversary of our mar- 
riage (the 5th of March, 1871) found us at Brighton. I 
had been spending three or four days with a dear friend 
in London, but returned on the Saturday, in spite of a 
great possible treat on the Sunday (luncheon with Mr. 
and Mrs. Lewes), because that Sunday was our dear an- 
niversary, and I could not have borne it to find us sepa- 
rated. This time its return made us low. Ten years! 
There was something solemn about the closing of that 


term. My own depression during several of those March 
days was quite unusual, and I remember his saying to me, 
" Ten years ! I used to think if I could have ten happy 
years ! And I have had them." And in the January of 
1871 he had put in my pocket-book, where he always wrote 
my name, " One happy decade over will another, will 
half of another, be granted?" Till then these inscrip- 
tions had been so joyous. 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

BRIGHTON, April 11, 1871. 

. . . The s are close to us, but 1 shall not attempt 

to see much of them. I know what the young who are 
in society think of an ill-dressed relative of the name of 
Smith. I remember my own youth, and while I blush in 
my soul at some of its wants of moral courage and shrink- 
ing from incongruity, I at least draw a lesson from it. 
They may look in some afternoon, and I shall call there 
in the evening, and have a pleasant chat I dare say. . . . 
We go this evening to Clara's. Oh dear, how glad T was 
I did not go with the party to sit on end in the Stand. 
Your uncle William and I saw everything so charmingly 
vilely dressed, both of us, and not knowing a soul, we 
were like two creatures out of the body, and entirely given 
up to impressions from without. We were on our legs 
four good hours, and much amused. Prince Arthur has a 
very nice face. I had my little glass, and I inspected him 
leisurely, just as your granny would have done. In 
youth, how many enjoyments I can recall spoilt by reflex 
action, so to speak self coming in either that one 
was dissatisfied with one's appearance, or something. 
We two see things now very comfortably. 

BRIGHTON, April 17, 1871. 

. . .'1 've no doubt M. is radiantly happy, and there is 
something very sweet and maidenly and unegotistical in 


not dwelling upon it but I know I am a dweller my- 
self ! However, I can admire other types fully. I really 
cannot tell you what Constance R. is, and how gloriously 
Polly R sings. Their collie dog Laddie, black and tan 
with just a white shirt frill, human eyes, and manner of 
high distinction, is equally inexpressible. . . . This evening 
William goes in there with me how I hope he will un- 
derstand my enthusiasm. . . . Of course we are all bet- 
tering or worsening, and I can understand dear Mrs. 

is not in the happiest phase just now. Trying to get too 
much out of an income is destructive to character. 

BRIGHTON, May 5, 1871. 

... A fortnight ago I was walking back from Clara's 
when I passed a blind man. Now there are such numbers 
of them here one's heart gets hardened, and I never like 
to have money about me lest I should be betrayed into 
the very great sin for so I believe it to be of giving 
it to tramps or otherwise frittering it away. But there 
was a dejection about this blind man's attitude that sent 
a thrill through one, and I looked back, and then there 
was nothing for it but going to speak to him. He was a 
navvy who had lost his sight a year and a half ago when 

working for a Mr. , a great London contractor, in one 

of the great drains. He was very straightforward in his 

tale, and seemed to think that if only Mr. could be 

got at, and he be interceded for, something would be 

done for him. Mr. had been staying in Brighton, 

but was gone. Well this was on a Friday ; on Saturday 

I got Mr. 's London address from a house agent, and 

on Monday went off to the poor man, but could not find 
him looked for him three times in vain. A week later 
I was driving with Clara when I discerned him in quite 
another part of the town. He wished me to write for him 

to Mr. , and I did so. I had several talks with him, 

and got to know his history, and all about the clothes in 


pawn, and what he wanted. He is a stalwart man of 
forty-seven ; a hard-working, well-paid, independent, well- 
off, active man, a year and a half ago ; now a poor waif 
and stray, shivering in the cold sea air, moved on from 
pillar to post by the police, with a placard on his broad 
chest setting forth his case, utterly lonely in the great 
crowd, with no one to care for him, obliged to shelter in a 
low lodging-house, with nothing to look to but a gradual 
wasting away and deepening misery here below. Poor 
dear John Matthews ! He is a Devonshire man, and I am 
sure a truthful as well as a more than ordinarily intelli- 
gent one. Yesterday Mr. 's answer came, and alas, 

he considers that he has done enough. He gave some- 
thing in the winter, and it was owing to his insistency that 
he got a twelve shillings a week allowance for weeks and 
weeks, then six shillings. John M. has been in hospital 
after hospital, under all manner of doctors, trying all 
manner of treatment the result, perfect blindness ! 
You may imagine how it went to my heart to read him 
the cold, stern denial. In his darkness, help from Mr. 

appeared to have become a fixed idea with him 

that, and to go to his own parish. At first he bore up 
manfully tried to put it away but the disappointment 
was too great, and the once strong frame heaved, and the 
sightless eyes overflowed, and he broke down utterly, and 
oh, my child ! if you had heard his exceeding bitter cry, 
" My punishment is greater than I can bear," you would 
have felt your heart torn as mine was. I could have taken 
him in my arms, but for the people. That 's so wretched 
I do go when everybody is at luncheon, but there are 
always children or somebody about. All his anguish made 
its way, and oh, the unspeakable pathos of it ! Well 
William says he shall have a sovereign (so kind of him, 
when he has not seen the man) and I am much mis- 
taken if Clara does not send another and I Ve got half 
a crown from Miss (I declare I did it more for her 


sake than his), and we shall get his poor, good clothes (the 
evidence of his past honourable because hard-working pros- 
perity) out of pawn, and he shall go off to his Devonshire 
parish to the workhouse, alas ! but he thinks they '11 
give him out-door relief, and perhaps he can board with 
one of his brothers anyhow he wishes this. To-day I 
must go and see him I think he 's got to feel me a friend 
and to-morrow I shall hear from Clara, and something 
final will be done. My own is gone to-day to the Acad- 
emy, and wanted me to go with him. But I had had my 
treat at the Old Masters, and I could not. I would 
rather give that poor fellow an hour's glow at the heart 
if indeed such a blessing could be granted me than see 
all the pictures that were ever painted. 1 How glad I shall 
be to have my owTiest back again! Now you and my 
darling Edith are not for a moment to fancy I want a 
penny for the poor fellow. I only mention it because it 
has been uppermost in my mind. I only wish I had seen 
him before I rigged myself out. It may be satisfactory 
to you to know I have spent ten pounds upon my gar- 
ments, and feel rather remarkably well dressed ! 

[In May they went to Ilkley in Yorkshire, to try the 
effect of a more bracing climate.] 

(From the Memoir.) 

He seemed well, but not peculiarly well there. Never 
shall I forget one misty, gray evening when we stood 
watching the sun set behind the low hills, and he, his dear 
eyes fixed wistfully on the west, said, as though thinking 
aloud, "The summers will be few." I think, however, 
this was less the language of definite apprehension than of 
that vague yearning melancholy we all know. When the 
die was cast, the charm of the moors began a little to gain 
upon us ; but we could not have secured a house to his 

1 Her friendly help accomplished more than she hoped ; in a hos- 
pital the man's sight was partially restored. 


taste, and he was even more pleased than I to find himself 
again in the old home at Newton Place, the favourite 
study. Eleven days of intense enjoyment succeeded. He 
at once sat down to the little desk in the old corner, and 
rapidly wrote the last article of his that ever appeared in 
" Blackwood's Magazine " one on the " Coming Race." 
I remember his saying one day as he laid down the book, 
" I should not wonder if it was written by Bulwer." I 
occupied myself meanwhile with giving to the little room 
where I sat during his busy morning hours more of a 
home look than heretofore (indeed, we planned making 
Newton Place more of a permanent home, and collecting 
there all our small and scattered possessions), and so I 
sent for books long left in Edinburgh, for William's bust, 
etc. We had blissful walks to see all his favourite haunts 
in their fresh beauty ; we were never more gayly, light- 
heartedly happy. On the evening of the 5th of June, I 
walked into Keswick, and on the way back I met him. He 
was coming along so very quickly, looked so boyish, I 
may say, in figure and tread, I could hardly believe at a 
distance it was he ; but soon I saw the white teeth shine 
out saw the radiant smile that always greeted me, and 
never more fully realized the old ever-new joy of putting 
my arm through his, and hearing and telling all that an 
interval of three hours (a long interval to my conscious- 
ness) had brought to each. He had had a visit from his 
friend Dr. Lietch. " Did Dr. Lietch think him looking 
well ? " " Yes ; he had noticed that he seemed in very 
good health." That verdict was another delight. There 
was nothing to disquiet me that summer evening ! In the 
night a very protracted shivering-fit came on. The fol- 
lowing day he was really ill. And now began a period of 
restless wretchedness, upon which I hardly know how to 
dwell restless wretchedness of my own only ; for while 
fever-fit followed fever-fit, and began visibly to sap his 
strength, he never admitted that there was any necessity 


for alarm, and strenuously resisted advice or change of 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

NEWTON PLACE, June 27, 1871. 

... I say to myself, " What am 1 that I should not 
suffer ? " I think of the suffering of others try to 
think of it and the good I have received at the hand it 
may be decrees me sorrow. Oh, I pray to bear well, that 
he may not be saddened. It is easy to be loving and 
kindly when we are happy. Sorrow isolates draws an 
icy shroud about our hearts and it is hard to love any- 
thing but the one who suffers. I can but cry "I have 
no language but a cry " for patience and meekness. 
But I do see just a something to-day that makes tears 
come easier to me, and anguish less bitter. He has no 
pain that is a blessing. He says " we shall smile again," 
in his own dear way. 

(July 5.) He looks so sorry for me looks at me, and 
says to the old and faded woman, " Sweet, sweet Lucy ! " 
He is fading away from before me. 

[A change of place was thought desirable for the inva- 
lid, by his wife and Dr. Lietch, and with Mr. Constable's 
help the arrangements had been made for a removal.] 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

NEWTON PLACE, July 27, 1871. 

Yesterday when I came down to breakfast, he reported 
himself much better, and I saw that irresolution about a 
move was setting in ! I will not enlarge upon it, but it was 
a dreadful trial. . . . My dear one went off by the omni- 
bus for a drive, and oh, how I wrestled with the irritation 
as well as the anguish of his resolve to stay on here so 
as to go and meet him with a smile. For after all, as that 
great writer says, " Love is of no value, without a larger 
power of living in the experience of others." And his 
point of view is not unreasonable. He thinks less of 


change of air than I do, and more values the comforts this 
house gives him the freedom, the quiet, the nice cook- 
ing, the punctuality. Oh, my chick, it is hard to get rid 
of self ! It is / who suffer by remaining, but perhaps 
there are advantages for him. Be that as it may, I will 
not struggle any more. I feel to-day quite quiet per- 
haps through exhaustion from fruitless efforts, but also 
I think from something of a well-grounded hope that he 
may recover here. . . . He is so all in all to me, and not 
only my happiness, but my shelter and my moral support. 
What dearest Mrs. Jones says in her last letter of Mrs. 

is so true : 4% The want of the large mans mind in 

the house is so felt ; subjects of irritation that he would 
never have allowed grow so prominent." With him to 
sustain me by his wiser, better, higher nature, I cannot 
degrade, as without him I feel I might. I dare not con- 
template the awful desolation. 

(From the Memoir.) 

At the end of September came two shivering-fits, but 
they were not succeeded by illness, and October passed 
over us, bringing, as it seemed, still further amendment. 
His mental energy was unimpaired, his power of writing, 1 

1 It was during this happy respite that William wrote his last 
article on Mr. Greg's Political Essays. Originally intended for 
the Magazine, with the views of which, however, it was not found 
quite in accord it appeared in the Contemporary of June, 1872. 
I give its closing paragraphs, a fitting last utterance for one al- 
ways so reverent of labor, and so interested in the progress of the 
labouring classes : 

" No one doubts, we presume, that, in spite of fluctuating or oscil- 
lating movements, or long- stationary periods, there is observable 
through the past ages a progress of humanity. And since this prog- 
ress, speaking broadly, is one with the enlarged scope and increased 
activity of the human mind, and especially with that activity which 
increases actual knowledge of nature and ourselves, and since this 
mental activity cannot be expected to come suddenly to an end, 
since the increase of knowledge, especially of external nature, seems 


his spirits, had entirely returned ; the most marked differ- 
ence was that he did not run up-stairs two steps at a time, 
as till this summer he had invariably done. 

at this hour to be advancing with accelerated speed, we may surely 
predict that there is yet a course of progressive development lying 
before us. Of what precise nature, it would be indeed hazardous to 
predict. The knowledge yet to be acquired, the additional inven- 
tions and expedients of a future age, its modified passions, its new 
sentiments, cannot be known to us now. But we know that scientific 
knowledge, as a general rule, leads to improvements in industrial art, 
and thus multiplies those products which render life agreeable and 
civilized. A larger number enjoying all those advantages of temper- 
ate pleasure and healthful occupation, of amenity of manners and 
culture of mind, which only a minority enjoys at present this alone 
would be an immense progress, and this we may venture to proph- 

" It is as if the student of botany and vegetable physiology had 
the growth of a plant exhibited before him up to a certain point, and 
had to predict how it would grow on. Something he has gathered of 
the laws of vegetable growth, and he doubts not that it will grow 
higher and put forth fresh leaves like those which it has already pro- 
duced. But let us say this plant has not yet blossomed, how is he to 
foretell what the blossom will be, or what the fruit will be ? The 
student of humanity is in some such position. He has half the growth 
before him ; how is he to predict the other half ? Precisely he can- 
not. But he, too, knows something of the laws or method of human 
growth. Like the botanist he can say of this plant that it will grow 
higher, and expand its branches, and multiply its leaves. What if 
there is a blossom and fruitage yet to come ? Of that he can say 
nothing. An evolution still in the future cannot enter into science, 
since it does not enter into knowledge at all. 

" Even this superficial and rapid survey of what may be acquired 
by studying man in history may indicate how such acquisitions may aid, 
or guide, or console us, when we are involved in certain of our social 
and political problems. We find the artisan and the labourer urging 
their claim to be admitted within the inner circle of civilized life. They 
urge it rudely, perhaps prematurely ; they occasion alarm and con- 
sternation by their clamour and their threats. Nevertheless that they 
do urge their claim is a good augury. It is the right desire, and in- 
dicates that some step has been already made towards its fulfilment. 
And that general progress of society in art and knowledge, on which 
we can most securely calculate, is of such a nature as to guarantee 


Early in November William caught cold. It did not 
threaten to be even a severe cold ; but just when I was 
rejoicing over its passing away, on the night of the ninth 
a terrible shivering-fit came on. From this time his illness 
I can see now steadily advanced. But while what is 
the irrevocable past was still the fluctuating present, there 
were gleams of hope. Oh, how many hopes I was called 
upon to surrender ! He now began to lay more stress 
upon this persistent fever than he had ever before con- 
sented to do, and to notice the decline of his strength. 
He consented to leave Borrowdale for Brighton on the 
first of December ; sea-air we thought might be of use, 
and there further advice was to be had. . . . However, 
since change of place -did not work improvement, he <}id 
consent to see a medical friend, one who knew his con- 
stitution, and took the kindliest interest in his case. Here 
was the rising of another hope ! Tonics, opiates these 
he had made no trial of perhaps his system would re- 
spond to these ! The year ended with just a ray of light ; 
yet it was some time about its close that he one day said 
suddenly to me : " Oh, Lucy, we will go off together to 
the country, have done with medicines and doctors, and 
there we will calmly and quietly await the inevitable end, 
and we will love each other to the last." (I wonder now 
how I bore the agonizing terror of those days, as I should 
have wondered then how days of solitude and vain yearn- 
ing such at these could be borne !) And in my pocket- 
book for 1872, his last entry of my name is accompanied 
by these ominous words : " The new year has less of hope, 

its future fulfilment. The movement is one not to be absolutely and 
resolutely opposed, but the stateman's task is to moderate, guide, and 
render it safe. Task hard enough, it must be admitted. Much tur- 
moil and many terrors will probably attend the movement. But if 
ultimately what is most refined and enjoyable in human life should 
be participated in by the - hand-worker as well as the head- worker, 
this would not only be the extension of culture and happiness, but it 
would put our civilization on a broader and safer basis." 


but more of love and gratitude, than any of its predeces- 

[Little by little he grew worse.] But those anxious 
nights were not all unhappy ; he used to be not merely 
cheerful, but playful, during those sleepless hours. Noth- 
ing provoked a gesture or tone of impatience, still less a 
complaint ; but it was always the alleviations on which he 
dwelt : how comfortable the bed, the room, the firelight ! 
how delicious the beaten-up egg and sherry ; how pleasant 
to have the candle lit and placed beside him ; how pleas- 
ant to be warmly wrapped up, and to have book or news- 
paper given him to read for an hour or so ! It was about 
th? middle of January that he began to find the walks he 
ha$l persistently taken " do him more harm than good," 
tire him overmuch, and he now gladly consented to the 
drives his dear niece Clara was only too happy to offer 
him. In the days of health he preferred his own light, 
rapid walking to the most luxurious of carriages ; now 
the daily drive with the sweet, affectionate companion 
tender to him as a daughter, with whom he had all the 
ease of a father, could speak or be silent at will this 
became the greatest refreshment and pleasure. Oh, I 
thankfully record everything that made his last illness 
easier to him! In our happy days we had all, and 
abounded ; now, when we might for the first time have 
discovered that we were poor, loving hearts made their 
wealth minister to his comfort. How he used to watch 
for " the dear gray horses ! " In this way he got the 
fresh air, and saw the sea and the clouds. And when he 
came in, and had taken his luncheon, there was always an 
interval of comparative strength, and a short walk could 
still be enjoyed. ... I besought him to try at least what 
homoeopathy might avail in a case evidently not calculated 
for other treatment Dr. Allen, the kind friend who had 
hitherto attended him, gladly consenting. He, it appeared, 
had had no hope from the first. In his opinion the lungs 


were obscurely affected. Dr. Hilbers, the homoeopathic 
physician, thought the defective action of the heart was 
the chief danger. One thing was certain I see it now 
daily he wasted. The afternoons were the best part 
of the day the afternoons and the evenings. And dur- 
ing these he had frequently visits from congenial friends. 
One was a Mr. Carpenter, a remarkable man, philosopher 
and philanthropist, a man of most active benevolence 
and most fervent piety (not of the dogmatic kind), who 
had valued my husband's works before he came to know 
and still more highly value him. Mr. Carpenter's visits 
were always a pleasure ; and the two would discuss poli- 
tics and general questions with quite eager earnest. One 
day in February, Professor Maurice, an early friend of 
William's, not met for many years, made him a long call. 
During these winter months my husband had not only 
constant visits from two loved nieces, but he saw some- 
thing of three of his favorite nephews, and much enjoyed 
getting them to talk of their own lives. Never did he 
dwell upon himself never in health, never in illness ! 
He was self-forgetting to a degree I have not seen nor 
shall see equalled. It was the childlike attitude of lis- 
tener that bright intelligence usually chose to occupy. Yet 
sometimes, through all the weakness, there would be 
bursts of energy on some general subject a kindling 
of the old fervor against some social wrong or political 
blunder. Oh, how hard it was to realize that so much light 
was so soon to be quenched ! 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

BRIGHTON, Feb. 4, 1872. 

I went to Dr. Hilbers' on Friday morning, dear kind 
Rebecca, a true sister, with me. I wish I could describe 
Dr. Hilbers to you. He is very tall I don't know how 
tall he would be but for a stoop with a curious awkward 
figure which doubles in two when he sits down. I take 


him to be much the same man that Abraham Lincoln was ; 
very plain and unconventional, abrupt too, yet with some- 
thing singularly kind. I could get very fond of him. He 
has large, light, penetrating eyes, that seem to look into 
and through you, but with no sharpness that you dread 
rather such perfect understanding as " makes allowance 
for us all." His voice is gurgling, slow, and rather mel- 
ancholy. He comes and goes with no time wasted in cus- 
tomary greetings. A most real man, and I imagine 
and my own has just indorsed the suggestion very like 
one's idea of the murdered President. There is such an 
unconventionality about him that you would not mind 
anything would let room, person, or mind, be in disha- 
bille before him, with less embarrassment than any one al- 
most I ever saw. He is a man of large private fortune 
as well as in very large practice, and attends quantities of 
people gratis. The first time he came I think I told you 
how reluctantly he took a fee. The last time he was here 
he would not have it. But as I see no occasion, thank God, 
to go to him in forma pauperis, I said to William, " Give 
it me, and I '11 'warstle ' with him." When I went into 
the room, without rising out of his doubled position, 
" Well, how is he ? " he gurgled. I reported the good 
night, and the most rapid and effectual influence of the 
aconite. But I got no information except the inference 
that it is the watery condition of the blood, or in other 
words the tendency to dropsy, which is the great thing to 
dread. . . . Then I shook the fee into his great hand, 
and there was such a droll contest. He started up, held 
both my hands, and said "Look here, literary men are 
seldom rich are you well off ? " " Certainly," I said, 
" very we owe no man anything." " Is it important to 
you ? " " Not at all, at present." " Will you promise 
you will tell me when it becomes so?" "I will." And 
then with a look of disgust at my bit of white paper with 
its conventional coin, " / hate it" he said. And I, " I 


know you do, but you must confer the additional kind- 
ness of taking it. We are perfect strangers, and have 
no claim upon your time." " Look here I shall take 
better care of your husband if you don't give me fees. 
And come again come every day if you like you do 
like, don't you ? People always like a croak with the 

BRIGHTON, March 3, 1872. 

... It was on Wednesday I posted a note to your dear 
mother, who was then ailing, but is, I hope and trust, bet- 
ter now. That afternoon Dr. Hilbers called, felt Wil- 
liam's pulse, and pronounced it better. And never shall 
I forget what I must call the divine benignity of the im- 
mense man's rugged face when he said this to me. I 
caught his great hand in both mine, and had such an im- 
pulse to kneel to him ! No, I never saw such a smile. 
Some one was telling Rebecca he had the largest body 
(he is six feet four), largest head, and largest heart in 
Brighton. I am sure his heart is exquisitely kind. I 
wish you could see him unconventional, with hat on his 
head and his hands in his pockets (I believe that this at- 
titude has become habitual through customary avoidance 
of fees he told me on Monday if I ever alluded to one 
again he would poison my husband !). Well, my darlings, 
he came again to-day. I stood at the door of the room 
and just saw him as he lounged off. But he did seem 
satisfied, does seem to think William a shade better 
did not tell me to go to him, but I think I shall to-morrow, 
just to know whether he seemed encouraged or was so. . . 
There are now so many little things that I can do for my 
cherished one, and he lets me go out with him, and I think 
likes me with him more constantly. Yesterday morning 
he said, " When I woke I was thinking what a comfort 
to have you there." My precious one ! He is as pleased 
to have me sleep, and as reluctant to wake me, as darling 
Granny herself. He was so delighted with Mr. Carpeu- 


ter this evening and it came over me like a revelation 
how awful it would be to part with him. I am mercifully 
preserved from often realizing this. Dear Mr. Carpenter 
is so fond of him. On Friday I had him to myself for a 
little (William was up-stairs) and that is always such a 
relief, because with him I can cry. " My dear," he said 
to me, "how much you have to be thankful for in the 
beauty of his character, the bravery of him, the sweet- 

(From t/ie Memoir.) 

There were some signs of improvement during the month 
of February. . . I do not think, however, that I ever had 
any hope of actual recovery. I think I knew " by the 
love that was in my heart " what the end would be, but 
not how near. We had many dreams of another summer 
talking of Ilf racombe, Aberystwith ; once of Nairn ; 
nay, once of Men tone ! I am glad he had those floating 
thoughts, very thankful that the knowledge of how ill he 
was was mercifully kept back, or at least was not abid- 
ingly present to him. Certainly he grew more, rather 
than less, hopeful. But then I cannot distinguish be- 
tween what he spontaneously felt and what he wished to 
feel out of his tender compassion for me. On the 19th of 
February we went to London together ; he to receive his 
yearly dividends at the bank. The little trip entailed no 
fatigue; and though it often flashed across me that it 
might be our last, I think we were both rather cheered by 
it. That evening we counted up our income for the year 
to come, and he said " that everything was pleasant done 
together." I never knew in any man quite so felicitous 
a blending of generosity and prudence. " The only use 
of money is not to have to think about it," was one of his 
axioms. Eminently liberal in his repayment of all ser- 
vice rendered to him, giving whenever he could give with 
a childlike pleasure at the moment, and then an absolute 


forgetfulness, personal economy was, I believe, not dis- 
tasteful to him. " Plain living and high thinking." would 
have been his choice, as it was his destiny. In his play- 
fulness he would tell me that when we came into our for- 
tune (an imaginary 3000 a year that we used to argue 
about the disposal of), I should see how reformed a char- 
acter he would become in the matter of dress ; but I feel 
sure the old coat, old hat, old slippers, would have been 
equally clung to, and that our life could not have been 
rendered more completely satisfying by any increase of 

On the fifth of March, the eleventh anniversary of our 
marriage, we walked together on the West Pier walked 
briskly to and fro in the breeze and sunshine, and in shel- 
tered corners stood to watch the waves. That evening 
there came to Brighton General and Mrs. Cotton, two of 
the friends in whom he most thoroughly delighted* Gen- 
eral Cotton' s conversation he always spoke of as one of the 
greatest enjoyments procurable, and her brightness and 
charm now seemed peculiarly to refresh him. On the 
13th, while preparing for his morning's drive, he said : 
" I am weaker than ever. It is vain to kick against the 
pricks." And then, with most pathetic playfulness, and 
calling himself by one of the myriad pet names I used in 
our happier days to invent for him, he declared he could 
be quite sorry for himself, could pity himself. I could 
not help saying, " And me I " And oh, the unuttera- 
ble compassion of his voice, the deep tenderness that 
rung out in his reply, " Infinitely ! infinitely ! " Then 
in a few moments he very solemnly and earnestly went 
on, " There is a power stronger than all our wishes and 
regrets, we must not let any angry or impatient feel- 
ings creep into our hearts, we must quietly and patiently 

On the same day we took our last walk ; sat out, and 
looked together at sea and sky for the last time. On Fri- 


day we moved to the house of his kind sister-in-law on the 
other side of the square. . . . 

When once the change was accomplished it was very 
affecting to notice his enjoyment of it. Sometimes, dur- 
ing the last few weeks, he had expressed his longing for 
a home, and now, one familiar to him for twenty years, 
and having only pleasant associations, was eagerly thrown 
open to him. All its comfortable arrangements gave him 
pleasure. In the cheerful bedroom we occupied, pictures 
of his kindred hung upon the walls ; and thinking of the 
peculiarly tender love between him and his mother, one is 
glad that the last chair he ever sat in should have been his 
mother's arm-chair. He seemed better that first evening 
at No. 1, and when General and Mrs. Cotton came as 
usual to spend it with him, told them he " felt himself in 
paradise since his move." Yet in the night, while I lay 
silently there hoping he was asleep, he suddenly said, 
" Your love supports me," and something in the almost 
solemn tone of the voice struck terror to my heart. The 
next day he had his breakfast in bed for the first time. 
But he enjoyed his drive, talked with animation to his 
companion, and insisted upon walking down to the din- 
ing-room for dinner. This too he did on the Sunday, but 
for the last time. For now the bodily strength ebbed 
rapidly. The last drive was on Tuesday the 19th, when 
he noticed with pleasure some beautiful streaks of light in 
the afternoon sky. 

I do not here enumerate the remedies tried. It is 
enough to say that nothing had the least effect in checking 
those paroxysms of trembling and breathlessness with 
sense of internal chill. Pain there was none. He would 
entreat me not to move, to fold him closely in my arms ; 
and so, with perfect cheeriness and hopefulness, thinking 
more of my alarm than any danger to himself, he bore 
one fever-fit after another till they had wasted him to a 
shadow. On Wednesday evening he looked sad as the 


familiar shudder came on at a new hour. " This dashes 
our hopes," he said. Yet he took the greatest pleasure 
that very evening in Mrs. Cotton's music. Music had 
been one of the passions of his earlier days. Of late he 
had got weaned from it, having a wife who did not play ; 
and, indeed, even when the opportunity arose of gratify- 
ing the dormant taste, he had seemed almost reluctant to 
do so. But now that he was getting too weak for much 
sustained conversation, the " refreshment " of the sweet, 
slow, flowing music the only kind he wished for was 
keenly felt ; and this enjoyment he had for several even- 
ings. It now became my privilege to wait upon him 
daily more and more. Little by little the singularly inde- 
pendent and self-helpful man came to permit his wife to 
do everything for him. But so perfect the sweetness of 
his nature, and so exquisite its courtesy, he never showed 
the least annoyance at this necessity ; he even made it a 
pleasure. The washing and dressing all gone through 
in bed now were got over in the cheerf ulest acknowledg- 
ment of every attempt to serve. On one of these morn- 
ings some sudden impulse made me say: "William, 
such love as mine for you cannot be the result of mere 
mechanical or vital forces, can it ? " And he replied, in 
a tone of conviction from which in my darkest hours I 
gain some support, " OA, no f It has a far higher 
source." It was still impossible not to feel- happy in his 
presence, and I knew I had the rest of my life for sorrow. 
Yet when I look back to myself at that time, I almost 
shudder to think that I could seem cheerful ! But he 
had more than once said to me that my cheerfulness was 
his greatest boon and delight ; and for weeks I had one 
wish only to soothe the path for him. I never spoke to 
him but with smiles, with almost gayety, to which he in- 
variably responded. His sensitive nature was peculiarly 
susceptible to gloomy looks, and besides, he had not given 
up all hope of recovery. On this point he seemed to have, 


so to speak, a double consciousness. His knowledge of 
physiology must have told him of imminent danger ; and, 
indeed, many expressions of his showed that he under- 
stood his own case perfectly. Yet at other times there 
was the hopefulness that characterizes consumption. 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

BRIGHTON, March 19, 1872. 

. . . He is all tenderness, thankfulness, serenity but 
oh, the end is drawing near ! He will meet it, thank 
God, with courage, but he would gladly recover. We 
were so happy, and no pain has come to wean, and he has 
great pity on my desolation. If it had been God's will ! 
But the cup that comes to all is at our lips now, and will 
not pass away. I try to bear I always can with him 
there is support and sweetness in our dear love even 
now. Whenever I go near him, it is to meet the sweetest 
smile and some loving word. 

(From the Memoir.) 

He continued to see friends to the last. Indeed, his 
nature seemed to grow more and more genial and gracious, 
more demonstrative of affection. The smile of welcome 
was warmer and as bright as ever. The dear nieces never 
had so many sweet and loving words to garner up in their 
hearts as during this last winter. For me he had a bound- 
less tenderness and pity. I have memories of love and 
blessing too sacred to my sorrow to be recorded here. I 
had thought I might give more of his gracious sayings. 
But I could not give the look, the tone ; it is best, as he 
once wrote of words of mine, to let them " just sink into 
the silence of one's heart." Yet those who value him as 
he deserved will be glad to know that even his exceeding 
humility did not prevent his realizing that he was, and 
had long been, the object of an exceptional affection. On 
one of our last days he said to me, " Yours is a great love. 


I do not believe there ever was such another." And an- 
other saying of his will prove that however inferior to 
him, his constant companion was still sufficing. During 
one of the last nights, fixing the large dark eyes always 
beautiful, but never so beautiful as now very earnestly 
on mine, he said, " I think you and I should make a happy 
world if we were the only two in it." 

On the morning of Tuesday the 26th, Mr. Carpenter 
saw him. They talked politics, discussed the " Budget," 
and my husband's mind was clear and keen as ever. Mr. 
Carpenter did not think he was bidding him good-by for 
the last time, though he blessed him, rejoicing, as he said, 
to see " so bright a face." 

Evj3n on Wednesday, William rose at the usual hour, 
walked resolutely down-stairs, finished the third number 
of " Middlemarch," which he had read during the last few 
days with steady determination, listened to a " beautifully 
written " and very kind note from the author, saw his 
dear niece Clara and both doctors for now Dr. Allen 
came as an invaluable friend, and for the last two even- 
ings helped to carry him up-stairs. . . . The following 
morning, Thursday the 28th, he told me he did not mean 
to attempt to rise. I cannot retrace the hours of this last 
day. It seemed as though he who hitherto had retained 
some enjoyment and hope of life now all at once knew 
that he was to die, and equally acquiesced in it ! His per- 
fect calm, his habitual manner, were not for one moment 
disturbed. It was of others he still thought throughout. 
He alluded to the "melancholy of it" for "poor Re- 
becca " (his sister-in-law) in the half -playful manner he 
might have had on any other day. Throughout these 
hours of the last weariness he used some of our words for 
different things, for we had a language of our own, as 
I said before. But for me he had tones of tender pity. 
For me he "grieved deeply r , deeply. He could have 
wished to live for my sake more than for his own." And 


then in some connection that has escaped me, though I 
strain my memory often to recall it, but I think in answer 
to some cry of anguish, and with a wish to give me still 
something to live for, with a thrilling earnestness of voice 
and far-off gaze I shall surely remember till I die : " And 
if there be a further sphere for us, it must be our part to 
prepare ourselves for it." For Violetta, his u sweetest of 
hostesses," as he called her, he had the most gracious so- 
licitude. " Was she quite well ? were we eating enough ? " 
The mind was unclouded throughout. He listened to let- 
ters, talked of dictating a reply to one. The voice grew 
indistinct and the sentences broken ; but I do not believe 
there was the least confusion of mind. I add a few sen- 
tences jotted down while the blow still stunned, and the 
agony was less felt : " Throughout the day he kept tell- 
ing me he ' was doing well,' ' was doing very well,' and 
once I heard the words, ' Quite normal,' as though he were 
watching himself die. Once I saw the hands clasped as 
in a speechless communion with the Unseen, and twice I 
caught the solemn word God, uttered not in a tone of 
appeal or entreaty, but as if the supreme contemplation 
which had been his very life meant more, revealed more, 
than ever. When I said to him, ' Oh, what a grace of 
patience God has given you ! ' he shook his head in gentle 
deprecation. . . . 

" Dear Vi was of course necessarily called out of the 
room to provide for his wants, and thus I had the privi- 
lege of never leaving him. God bless her for it. ... 
It was not far from the end when opening his eyes and 
seeing Vi and me beside him, he had quite in cheerful 
tone said, ' There they are, the two dear creatures.' 
Later as I bent over him he opened his eyes, and 
with the same smile as in health and happiness, bright, 
inexpressibly tender, he took my face into his hand 
twice did so. This old familiar caress was the farewell. 

" After his last spoonful of turtle, which Vi gave while 


I raised him, the peculiar sound in the throat came on, 
but it had no horror, no intensity about it, and did not to 
either of us convey the fact that he was about to go. 
After that the laboured breathing changed its character. 
Violetta was called away. I was quite alone with my 
love. I got on the bed behind him, the better to prop 
him in what seemed an easy sleep the hands and feet 
still warm. His head passed gradually from the pillow to 
my breast, and there the cherished head rested firmly ; 
the breathing grew gentler and gentler. Never shall I 
forget the great awe, the brooding presence, with which 
the room was filled. My heart leapt wildly with a new 
sensation, but it was not fear. Only it would have 
seemed profane to utter even my illimitable love, or to 
call upon his name. This must have lasted, Vi thinks, 
not more than ten minutes. The head grew damp and 
very heavy ; my arms were under him. Then the sleep 
grew quite quiet, and as the church clock began to strike 
ten, I caught a little, little sigh, such as a new-born infant 
might give in waking not a tremor, not a thrill of the 
frame ; and then Vi came back with Clara's nurse (who 
having a peculiar love and admiration for him I had said 
might come up). I told them he was gone, and I thanked 
God for the perfect peace in which he passed away." 

He was buried in the Brighton Cemetery, in a spot at 
present still secluded, and over which the larks sing joy- 
ously. There a plain gray granite headstone rises " to his 
pure and cherished memory," with just his name and two 
dates, and this one line, long associated with him in my 
mind, and which all who knew him have felt to be appro- 

" His soul was like a star, and dwelt apart." 

Only four went to his funeral viz., Clara's husband, 
General Cotton, Mr. Carpenter (whom he had taken 
pleasure in introducing to each other as " two of the no- 
blest men he knew "), and Dr. Allen, his kind friend of 


years. There were no mourning trappings peculiarly 
discordant with the idea of him only the carriage with 
" the dear gray horses " followed, and in it hearts that 
valued him. A clergyman who had known him, not long 
but well, in our Borrowdale home, asked whether he 
might come and read the Service. This will show the 
feelings my husband inspired in those whose thoughts 
were not his. Indeed, I never knew a high moral nature 
that did not at once recognize the purity, righteousness, 
and holiness of his. In the case of all such the sense of 
differing opinions melted away under the influence of his 
character. To men of negative views, the possibility of a 
future life seemed to acquire a deeper interest now that 
he had passed away; to those whose faith in immortality 
was firmest, the conception of spiritual enjoyment became 
all the clearer for having known one so spiritually- 
minded, so purely searching after the truth. I might 
multiply testimonies to this effect, but they are not needed 
here. If, however, the appreciation of the cultivated and 
thoughtful seem a mere matter of course, it was yet not 
more marked or more unfailing than the love he, shy and 
silent towards them, won from all the simple and unedu- 
cated who were brought into frequent contact with him. 
Something in his courtesy elevated them, something in his 
brightness cheered. I do not think any person who ever 
spoke to him half-a-dozen times was quite indifferent to 
him. No man sought love less, or was less careful about 
the impression he made on others. But love unsought 
came largely to him, and during his last illness I think 
he discovered, with something of sweet and tender sur- 
prise, how very dear he was to many ! It was, I dare to 
believe, a gentle, a cheerful last illness ! Of him every 
memory is sweet and elevating ; and I record here that a 
lifelong anguish such as defies words is yet not too high 
a price to pay for the privilege of having loved him and 
belonged to him. 


These last pages were written, as I have said, more than 
a year ago, and there is nothing to add. I might indeed 
cite the testimony of relations and friends to some ineffable 
charm in his nature, ineffable tenderness in their regret ; 
but I prefer closing this brief memoir with words of his 
and the passage I am about to quote contains, I believe, 
the very secret of his pure life and the ground of his 
serenity in death : 

" There comes a time when neither Fear nor Hope are 
necessary to the pious man ; but he loves righteousness for 
righteousness' sake, and love is all in all. It is not joy at 
escape from future perdition that he now feels ; nor is it 
hope for some untold happiness in the future : it is a pres- 
ent rapture of piety, and resignation, and love a pres- 
ent that fills eternity. It asks nothing, it fears nothing ; 
it loves and it has no petition to make. God takes back 
his little child unto Himself a little child that has no 
fear, and is all trust." 

October, 1873. 

(End of the Memoir.) 


Sometimes I could deem 

I heard his voice, loved voice that guides me, say, 
" The earth we loved must never trivial seem 

Although our joy has passed from earth away. 

" Go down, at my behest, 

The smallest, humblest, kindly task to do ; 

/ see the thorn-prints ; hide them from the rest ; 

Because thou lov'st me so, love others too." 

L. C. S. 

Here we have to wait 
Not so long neither ! Could we by a wish 
Have what we will and get the future now, 
Would we wish aught done undone in the past ? 
So let him wait God's instant men call years ; 
Meantime hold hard by truth and his great soul, 
Do but the duty ! Through such souls alone 
God stooping shows sufficient of his light 
For us in the dark to rise by. 




" AFTER her husband's death," writes the niece Mary, 
" I was with her for a month at Brighton. Her calmness 
and power of living out of herself were amazing. She was 
then so filled with the sense of the nearness of the time 
when she had him that she did not seem to suffer as she 
did later on. She used to say sometimes she was stunned. 
And then she had learned strong self-control from the 
long habit of keeping cheerful and bright before him when 
her heart was breaking. Later on the agony was keener. 
I can remember the look in her beautiful eyes as of some 
one in torture. How she suffered, with the whole capa- 
city of her nature! Everything seemed an additional 
pain. Ah, and how she struggled not to sadden others ! 
how to devise little pleasures and expeditions for me or 
any friend staying with her. How infinitely sweet and 
brave she was ! We went together to Coniston, to a 
pretty cottage called How Head, quite near to the Tent 
Cottage where she had been so happy. The evening we 
got there, she found a letter saying that her dear friend 
Mrs. Jones was very ill in Edinburgh, had been ill for 
some little time, but did not wish Aunt Lucy to be told. 
The next morning after getting the news, tired as she 
was, and overpowered with the thought of being back at 
Coniston, she started for Edinburgh, alone ; and was in 
time to see her friend and be with her at the last. Mrs. 
Jones said, 'You have never failed me.' My husband 
remembers so well seeing her at that time. She was stay- 
ing for two or three days at her beloved friend Mrs. Stir- 


ling's, and he went to see her. She was in bed, but asked 
for him to go and see her. It was the first time they had 
met since her loss, and she could not speak, but when he 
came near she just opened her arms and folded them 
round him. She came back in a few days to Coniston, 
after seeing that all was arranged as Mrs. Jones would 
have wished, and writing to her friends and her many de- 
voted priests. I was with her some weeks, and then, first 

of all, Vi, and then her beloved Hessie H , came to 

stay with her. I went to Ireland to see my father, and 
came back to her in the autumn, and soon she and I went 
to Edinburgh for some weeks. She had many friends 
there, loving and tender, but I remember her saying one 
day she was like a person with a dreadful wound, which 
the tenderest, lightest touch made still worse ; only 

A seemed always like a soothing dressing of pure 

cold water.'* 

To Lady Eastlake. 

CONISTON, June 6, 1872. 

Dear, kind Lady Eastlake, in your full life to make 
time for thoughts of me ! I thank our loved one [Mrs. 
Jones, who had been their common friend] for your let- 
ters as well as you. I had seen your little book on her 
table in London, and she confided to me that it was writ- 
ten by you. I took it up and dropped it with a sharp 
pang. I could not have read it. I could not then dare 
to realize this suffering. Now I have read it again and 
again, and thanked it for many tears. You know that I 
cannot go along with all but oh ! I don't want to 
argue, only to be quite truthful. It is a wonderful anal- 
ysis of this complicated sorrow a sorrow for each and 
all of us special having incommunicable phases, ten- 
dernesses, yearnings, heart-piercings for which indeed 
there are no words. 'I can hardly understand what is 
commonly called rebellion against the decree that took 


away, or question why. My loved one warned me against 
letting " angry or impatient feelings creep in." I can 
believe, too, that the time for him was the best time, as 
certainly the manner was most merciful. I see abundant 
cause for thankfulness in the past. And, as you say, 
" We are to suffer," and in what is natural, inevitable, 
there cannot be sin. When I said sorrow was not good 
for us I was thinking of the many spontaneous pleasant- 
nesses and kindnesses it kills in us, as surely as the frost 
does the tender plants of sunny climes. The evil may bring 
forth fruit by and by but much that others loved in us, 
as it seems to me, must vanish forever. That does not 
matter I used to care a good deal about being loved 
a tenacious need, but this scotches it. The great danger 
seems to me the caring for nothing. 

To Mr. and Mrs. Loomis. 


Dear, kind friends, how much I thank you for your 
letter, and how touched I am by the feeling that led you 
to make the effort ! I grieve to think that dictation is 
attended by pain, and that writing is still impossible. Oh, 
I grieve over dear Mrs. Loomis's anxiety even more than 
for the privation to yourself ! If you knew how often I 
have read your letter, and what soothing tears have fallen 
over it, you would be glad you sent it. I am so deeply 
thankful for tears, and some kind words go straight to 
the heart and a little lighten it. It is the unshed tears 
that torture. But you know what life with him was, what 
life without him must be. I am only going to write a few 
lines, because with this you will receive a printed letter. 
There were many that I wanted to tell something to, of 
his exquisite patience and serenity something, very lit- 
tle and I could not go over the agonizing weeks and 
months again and again. There may be almost nothing 
in the letter that you do not know, but I wrote it once for 


all, and dear Mr. Constable put it in print for me, and 
I like to believe that besides your own dear selves there 
may be some, who loved his writings, who will feel inter- 
ested in knowing something of the man. It is a poor, 
meagre, and perhaps very trivial record meant only for 
kind eyes. 

I have long wanted to write, but I waited to send this. 
A few days ago a delightful article by Dr. Porter reached 
me. It is so true, so discriminating! You will judge 
best whether he will care to read my other letter. 

Sometimes my heart feels dead and dull, and I have 
nothing to say, and hardly feel. Then the agony wakes. 
Indeed I try to bear it as he would have me do. I know 
how much I have to be thankful for. And it may be 
but oh, my hope is dim and feeble ! The difficulties so 
crushing ! I can only cry for more faith in God's truth, 
and for power to think of others. I won't talk of my 
wretched self. 

I shall indeed long to hear that you are better. I would 
that a voyage to England were prescribed. I did get the 
letter, and the picture of the little early gathered flower. 
May you be long spared to each other ! It seems to me 
that there can come no crushing sorrow to two. Will you 
let me know how you are ? Will you tell Dr. Porter that 
his article was very precious to me? I would he and 
William had met. I would he had heard the welcome 
that dear one's peculiarly touching and varied voice 
would have given him. I dare not recall his voice. 

Dear friends, don't think me selfish. I am truly inter- 
ested in all that concerns you. 

In the July "Contemporary," William's last article 
appears. He wrote it last autumn when he seemed to be 
recovering. He was superhuman in his sweetness all 
through his illness and on his dying day. Never more 
serene. I forget now all I have said or not said in that 
printed letter. His tenderest words are not there. Oh, 


do you indeed believe that in some ineffable way individ- 
ual love is undying? I cannot write this evening, and 
will not put off any longer. 

My kind, true love. Your poor desolate friend, 

L. C. S. 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

CONISTON, July 22, 1872. 

. . . Archie read to us last night some of Browning, 
and I must copy two verses out of one of the poems 
they stir something like hope, and give blessed tears. 

Think, when our one soul understands 

The great Word which makes all things new, 

When earth breaks up and heaven expands, 
How will the change strike me and you 

In the house not made with hands ? 

Oh, I must feel your brain prompt mine, 

Your heart anticipate my heart, 
You must be just before, in fine, 

See and make me see, for your part, 
New depths of the Divine ! 

CONISTON, August 28, 1872. 

. . . Lady Eichardson, who called the other day, sent 
me a blessed book of that saint, Mr. Erskine of Linla- 
then, and it seemed to open some light and hope. It is 
the only alternative to blank unbelief, and that is too 
fearful misery. Mr. Erskine rejects the idea of this life 
being a trial, after which comes eternal bliss or eternal 
misery he is sure God means in time (his time, to which 
a day and a thousand years are alike) to educate all his 
moral creatures to a participation in the divine nature. I 
do indeed believe my beloved one's earthly education was 
complete. Every virtue seemed to have had its perfect 
work. And if I could lay hold on this faith, I should 
suffer more meekly, believing that when my education too 


was finished I should be taken too and surely the love 
and trust that existed between us will survive if our con- 
sciousness survive and I think it does. Oh, my child, 
what a difference between a faith taught you and one you 
learn for yourself in anguish and darkness and desolation 
a faith you have to struggle for, for more than life. I 
have had flashes of light, but again and again the dark- 
ness and the agony must return. . . . 

My lonely sorrow is dear to me. Mary, I suffer, but I 
would not change with any. 

To Lady Eastlake. 

CONISTON, 1872. 

Mr. Stopford Brooke's last volume of sermons has four 
on Immortality, which I have read and re-read. The sub- 
ject is, I may truly say, the only one which has my inter- 
est. This life can be nothing more to me ; except, indeed, 
as I pray and sometimes hope, discipline. The view of 
God's education of his moral creatures commends itself 
far more to my mind than that of probation. I think it 
is far more than a verbal difference. But I find that con- 
tinuous argument on this one absorbing subject sometimes 
defeats itself. Even Stopford Brooke's sermons suggested 
difficulties. It must remain " a great hope but a dim con- 
ception." Sometimes a blessed instinct wakes in me. I 
do not quite hold with you that faith in immortality and 
faith in God necessarily stand or fall together. God 
ruled before my poor little individuality was developed, 
and it would be to me even more terrible to forego a be- 
lief in an Infinite Wisdom than in my continuous life 
(which has only one meaning for me). I have said a bold, 
and perhaps not quite true thing. But I think it ought 
to be more dreadful. I remember we were so struck 
with the deep devotion of George Long's preface to his 
" Marcus Aurelius," and I admired the perfect resignation 
with which he could surrender all personal wishes as to 


immortality to the Supreme Will. But then we were to- 
gether, and infinitely happy ; and now ! In this anguish 
which you, dear Lady Eastlake, know so well, my whole 
soul has but one cry, and though intellectually I can divide 
between these solemn truths, practically I feel them one. 
How could one love a God unless one hoped his love for 
his creatures involved, as you say, a correlative of reunion 
for this awfulness of parting, and how could one care to 
believe in a God for whom one's nature could have no re- 
sponse even of gratitude ? And indeed I do deeply feel, 
and more and more, that without this hope one would sink 
to apathy, lovelessness, moral death, and that it never 
glows within us without purifying. I desire so to grow 
better, while I feel that this betterness will fit me to be 
more with one who was here on earth immeasurably above 
me. I find his dear words sustain me often. There are 
passages in " Gravenhurst " that greatly stimulate my 
trust in a further sphere. The writer of that very tender 
and true notice of my loved one [ in " Blackwood " ] 
dwells rather too much on the negative side of his think- 
ing. It had its positive side, which was light and guid- 
ance for life and death. 

I often shed tears that are warm with hope over pas- 
sages of Browning. In short, helps come from quarters 
where one did not expect them. You have been very good 
and kind to ine. You know how I suffer what it is, to 
have had all and abounded to have had Heaven and 
now to be only alive to pain you know that there is no 
exaggerating the difference this loss makes in everything. 
That blessed peace you speak of has made me rejoice for 
you. Do you know, I have had a momentary sense of 
what it might be. 


To Miss Violetta Smith. 

Oct. 1872. 

When God sends darkness, let it be dark. 'T is so vain 
to think we can light it up with candles, or make it any- 
thing but dark. It may be because of the darkness we 
shall see some new beauty in the stars. Indeed I live in 
him still not the old love, of joy, and playfulness of 
" antic spirits," and eager enjoyment ; but a grave life, 
and yearning and seeking; a life into which through 
God's goodness the patience of hope may come. We 
must all seek and find if we do find for ourselves. 

" Early in 1873," writes the niece Mary, " she and I 
went back to Coniston, not to How Head, but to a pretty 
farmhouse called Low Bank Ground, belonging to Miss 
Rigbye, who urged her to return there. There she spent 
a year, having always some one with her my sister 
Edith, Violetta, or other friends. For several months 
from this time on she and I were much together, and 
when we were apart she wrote comparatively little, as she 
was suffering sadly from her eyes." 

To Mr. and Mrs. Loomis. 

CONISTON, April 2, 1873. 

. . . Over none of the letters that I have received have 
I shed more tears than over the first that Mr. Loomis dic- 
tated and you, dear friend, wrote out. He speaks of " the 
mingled sense of loss and possession." Yes, indeed I 
am still his, and that imposes upon me self-control. Only 
just let me say that a year is nothing, nothing, in the way 
of assuagement by habit of life without him. It is not 
life. I love him more day by day. I know him better. 
As the earthly bliss recedes, I see the angel in him even 
more clearly. And no shyness now prevents my speaking 
of him as he was. And now I will not speak of him 
any more. 


I did get your November letter, and it was exceedingly 
welcome, for I had been, as you know, anxious. It was a 
comfort to see that you were able to use your pencil for so 
long a time together, but you said the letter was written 
at intervals, and I fear from the fact of this last letter 
being in dear Mrs. Loomis's handwriting that your head 
still interferes with some of your pursuits. Indeed, I was 
interested in the new house, and I am glad there is no 
danger of the pretty view being interfered with. And I 
was deeply interested in hearing of the removal of the 
dear mother to your present home. How a venerable old 
age completes, sanctifies a family ! How precious to chil- 
dren the special indulgence, the boundless toleration, of 
the grandmother. You must tell me more of her and the 
children when you write again. I was in Edinburgh for 
nine winter weeks ; I, and a dear niece who is to me like a 
child. I think she .enjoyed Edinburgh, and I could like 
to see her enjoyment, and besides we have friends there 
whom I could never bear to relinquish one especially, a 
good deal older than myself, and the nearest approach to 
motherliness that the world holds for me. Early in Jan- 
uary Mary and I came here ; came to a farmhouse, pret- 
tily situated, in which I have taken rooms for a year. 
My dear child liked giving it a comfortable look, hanging 
pictures, arranging books, and I have my husband's bust 
in one corner, and though the low ceiling is far too near it, 
still it seems to elevate and refine the whole place. I send 
you a copy of it. . . .1 think it is very like " the author 
of Thorndale." But it is sad, and my husband had what 
does not appear in his photographs and his writings, such 
a fountain of joyous, playful life, making his companion- 
ship such pure bliss. He had all that shows in the baby 
face which I send to Daisy. The little miniature must 
have been taken when he was between two and three. It 
has yellow hair, but with that exception is very faithfully 
reproduced. Looking at this bright child you will under- 


stand how he, the youngest child of a large family, was 
the " especial pet " of both parents. Or perhaps and 
yet I think that is not likely you may not admire it. 
All there is in this face innocence, joy, wonder, wistful- 
ness, simplicity all was in the man to the last. And 
because of that ineffableness which made my dear Mr. 
Constable say he " never saw him without longing to take 
him into his arms ; " which made his niece Clara, on the 
eve of a happy marriage, write to him, " But nobody can 
be to me what you are ; " makes his eldest sister (a widow 
who has lost children) tell me, " I can never think of dear 
William without tears it is not so with others ; " be- 
cause of the nameless something, made up of pathos and 
sweetness, I who loved him so and was so closely and 
solely his companion, suffer, suffer ! Oh, I hope many 
are not so utterly and irremediably bereaved. 

I am glad you are reading that marvellous "Middle- 
march." Everything pains now, and that pains. Rosa- 
mond's unworthiness threw a shadow of dread over me. 
This great genius makes one so aware of the " solidarity 
of the human race." None of her characters are unnat- 
ural. One feels guilty at least I did as I read of 
much unsuspected selfishness. And I have heard others, 
in whom I saw no flaw, speak of the book as charged with 
the prophet's power of " bringing sin to remembrance." 
The writer is very, very kind to me, and sends me sweet, 
tender notes. I could like you to see the last. But she 
cannot help me. For she has given up the hope of contin- 
ued life, in which alone I can live. If I did not how- 
ever weakly and waveringly believe that we are crea- 
tures of a loving God, training here for some solution 
by and by ; that this anguish may be killing in me some 
faults which would hinder our complete togetherness there 
life would be so hideous I would not lead it. She is 
braver and better, and besides she has the love which is 
happiness and seems religion. But the poorest and weak- 

HERE A VED. 463 

est soul that holds some instinctive conviction of a " fur- 
ther sphere," taught perhaps by sorrow ; holding it really, 
not only having been brought up to say it helps me 
more than that glorious woman can. Mr. Lewes's book, 
just advertised, will create a good deal of interest. He 
sent a sketch of it to my husband, last February year. I 
shall not read it. My cry to heaven and earth is, " Help 
my unbelief ! " I dare not hear arguments to eliminate 
God from the universe. But neither can I return to the 
old Orthodoxy in which I grew up. Channing's " Per- 
fect Life," Martineau's " Sermons," and " Le Recit d'une 
Soeur," have been precious and soothing. And often my 
husband's books throw a slanting ray of light, and so 
the days go on, and one year is over. 

Will you convey to President Porter my gratitude for 
the pamphlets he sent me, still more for his letter. What 
an exquisite character Professor Hadley's ! One thinks 
such cannot end when they die. But there is a position 
of his I nevermore could occupy. I can believe in no dis- 
location of our nature only in its ordered growth, and 
in no help from the Divine but according to and by means 
of a Divine Purpose, which cannot be interfered with and 
needs not rectification. 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

CONISTON, April 5, 1873. 

. . . Channing's " Perfect Life " is very beautiful. I 
have to fight daily for some faith in which to suffer sanely 
not make others suffer. " The Everlasting Yea " is 
what we must seek after, or miss our fullest development. 
Perhaps we shall word our seeking and our finding differ- 
ently, but oh, so we seek and find ! . . . I copy out a bit 
from Greg's " Enigmas of Life." May you know one 
day all its truth. 

Who that has truly tasted and fathomed human love in its 
dawning and its crowning joys has not thanked God for a feli- 


city which indeed " passeth understanding " ! If we had set our 
fancy to picture a Creator occupied solely in devising delight for 
children whom He loved, we could not conceive one single ele- 
ment of bliss that is not here. We might retrench casualties ; we 
might superadd duration and extension ; we might make that 
which is partial, occasional, and transient, universal and endur- 
ing; but we need not and we could not introduce one new 
ingredient of joy. 

How I set my seal to that ! I have lived eternities in 
some moments of quite unbounded joy. I used to say to 
him, " If I might die now ! " and he would reply, " How 
cruel to me ! " but that was the feeling. It is wonder- 
ful to think what the presence of one human being can do 
for another change everything in the world. ... I 
have wonderfully beautiful sermons .of Martineau's. 

Some God sends transparent into this world, and leaves us 
nothing to gather and infer. Goodness, truth, acquired by oth- 
ers, are original to them. . . . Such beings live to express them- 
selves, to stand between heaven and earth and mediate for our 
dull hearts. With fewer outward objects than others, or at least 
with a less limited practical mission devoting them to a fixed 
task, their life is a soliloquy of love and aspiration. Usually 
they do not less, but rather more than others ; only under some- 
what sorrowful conditions, having spirits prepared for what is 
more than human, and being obliged to move within limits that 
are human. The worth of such a life depends little on its quan- 
tity, it is an affair of quality alone. These highest ends of ex- 
istence have but slight relation to time. Years cannot mellow the 
love already ripe, or purify the perceptions already clear, or lift 
the aspiration that already enters heaven. 

CONISTON, April 9, 1873. 

. . . Two days ago a sweet letter from M. A. R., tell- 
ing her purpose of coming on the nineteenth. Oh, how I 
cried over it ! I did not think much wish for anything 
survived, but I do feel a singular emotion at the idea of 
seeing her. . . . But I must not think overmuch of it 


she may not be able. Mrs. A is noble, I am sure, a 

heroine of endurance. People are so noble ! The poor 
young washerwoman who by the way tears up my cuffs 
and frills in a wonderfully rapid way, so that I find my- 
self almost without any, spite of your stock, you dear 
child has been, it seems, sleeping for months in an in- 
fected atmosphere. There was an old cousin, distant 
cousin, of her father's, a woman with several children, 
but not one of them came forward to save her from the 
workhouse ; and this good man said she should never go 
there so long as he could work. So in their tiny cottage 
she has lived and suffered three years. I never knew of 
her existence till it was over. She died last Monday of 
cancer. And this young girl nursed her and slept in her 
room, and now frets, fearing she did not do enough ! 
Well might she tear my cuffs, poor dear she had her 
hands full. 

You may remember that I told you of an old hawker of 
tea with whom Fanny and I walked some short time ago, 
and with whose cheerfulness I was struck. Three days 
ago I discerned him coming along the field, and darted 
out with my little offering. It was touching to see that 
I seemed to surprise him. But perhaps he heard some- 
thing in my voice that made him pity me ; anyhow, his 
heart was poured out, and I do not know that anything 
ever struck me as more sublime than his experience. He 
was a parish 'prentice, as he said, " fatherless, motherless, 
sisterless, brotherless, auntless, and uncleless." Quite 
alone, used to hardship in youth, then maimed and al- 
most blinded in the mines ; now seventy-two, long a 
pauper, hawking about tea, and getting a mere pittance, 
as you can believe. Yet with all this, and without the 
sweet training of human love, he is quite happy " just 
leans on God " has an abiding sense of the Divine Love 
ordering all, and of all being right, which makes him not 
merely patient, but very cheerful. I never heard a more 


remarkable utterance, it was so simple and evidently hon- 
est, ending as he did, " but these things are not for talk- 
ing about, only it is so with me." 

To Mrs. Ruck. 

CONISTON, 1873. 

. . . Ah, my dear one, we might safely have kept you 
half a day longer ; but you would have been just as surely 
gone now, and your little stay would have been a tender, 
touching, sweet dream from which however one wakes 
strengthened. . . . Thank you for copying dear Mrs. 
Forde's good true words. Tell her I feel, through all the 
pain, thankfulness for the fond close union which raised 
me into higher moral life as no other influence ever did. 
And oh, I share her hope to me the only hope that can 
avail to keep one loving, to purify, to exalt. A hope to 
be influential must be hope that is, strong desire be- 
lieving future attainment probable. In me there can be 
only one strong desire. It may never be realized but 
so long as my consciousness endures, the only appeal to the 
principle of hope within me must be in conformity with 
the laws of my consciousness. A dog cannot be lured by 
a bank-note, but by a penny-bun a child will prefer the 
story-book with pictures to the philosophical treatise. It 
may be that hereafter we shall rise to the general in some 
sense transcending our present faculties even to conceive 
of. Meanwhile I, who have known a love so immeasur- 
ably superior to any other feeling in intensity as to de- 
serve by contrast to be called infinite, can only be sus- 
tained by hope in that love meaning something for me not 
only here but elsewhere. 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

CONISTON, April, 1873. 

You are my own dear child, and friend of many years, 
and I can rouse myself out of the perpetual sorrow which 


makes up my life, to wish for you the things I hold good 
things ; a deep, intense love for one higher and stronger 
than yourself, or that peace and joy which come, one sees, 
to some elect natures who have got rid of the achings and 
yearnings of self, and live in the life of others. That is 
hardest, but divinest no doubt. That is what I must 
strain and strive after for the rest of my days, on pain of 
moral decomposition. But for you I am still tied and 
bound by such fond memories of earthly bliss, I must wish 
and look for that ; and in the mean time there is your 
dear, bright little self to go on educating more and more. 
And so I like to know that you have assimilated " Sartor 

Kesartus." . . . Mr. was much disappointed in the 

Vienna Exhibition but then it was not at its best, half 
the things undisplayed and said the expense of Vienna 
was frightful. Did you notice what the " Times " corre- 
spondent said on that head, that the saying u See Naples 
and die " might be parodied by " See Vienna and become 
bankrupt"? And Mr. has no doubt learned prac- 
tically during his year's sojourn abroad that change of 
place does little or nothing, or worse than nothing, for a 
rooted sorrow. If there be a truth beyond disputation, it 
is this : 

I may not hope from outward things to win 

The passion and the life whose fount is from within. 

For myself I should not care not now of course 
should never have cared to see anything unless I was 
happily companioned. But there are tastes of all kinds, 
and it takes a good deal of learning to know assuredly 
that " the eye is not filled with seeing, neither the ear with 
hearing," and that the one help for any of us lies in doing 
and being oh, my darling, how hard to learn it, I know ! 

. . . has been seeing some pictures. How her 

drawing has elevated, steadied her life, kept her always 
growing, aspiring, alive to nature and art, and so by 
making her happy made her beneficent and helpful. One 


has dark moods of questioning the use of it all ; but, im- 
material as it may seem if we fix our eyes upon the great 
sum of human effort, yet, the universal being made up of 
the particular, it does matter that individuals should be as 
healthily developed as possible, that they may radiate 
healthy influence ; and therefore it is good to have a pur- 
suit, even if we do not attain excellence. 

To Rev. Allan Menzies. 

CONISTON, June 1, 1873. 

. . . But you must have enough of theology certainly 
mine would be superfluous. I cannot even define what 
it is. It is only a clinging and a cry a thankfulness 
that would fain be trust a human agony that would 
throw itself on some Divine Pity, and grow into some 

CONISTON, July 28, 1873. 

. . . Your letters interest me, but to see and speak with 
you would be a still deeper interest. The old pleasure in 
writing is so over and gone. Writing should be just the 
overflow of life. With me now life is low, and thought 
all concentrated, made up of many memories and one 
hope. When I am with others the habit and instinct of 
sympathy makes me an attentive, sometimes an eager lis- 
tener. When the pen is in my hand it is an effort to turn 
away from that ever-growing sorrow which is my life. 
But indeed I do not depress others. 

I follow the career of such men as Mr. Knight, Mr. 
Stevenson, and yourself with deep and genuine interest. 
There is no resisting the law of evolution in thought, any 
more than elsewhere. The great fundamental concep- 
tions must be differently expressed. Happy are they who 
are quite sure of one or two truths. ... I want to know 
whether you are acquainted with the writings of the Rev. 
G. D'Oyly Snow, There is in the " Contemporary " a 
paper of his on " Natural Theology " by which I have been 


exceedingly struck. The views are much akin to those 
put forth in " Gravenhurst ; " the only views, as it ap- 
pears to me, that is now possible to hold on that long 
vexed question of moral evil. I think Mr. Snow one of 
the clearest and most suggestive (one is sick of that term, 
rather) writers I have come across. But indeed these 
last numbers of the " Contemporary " are full of interest. 
Herbert Spencer's papers on Sociology I have not read 
through, but the last, on " The Theological Bias," is the 
very essence of justice, candor, reasonableness. . . . 

Tell me about your life. " Great faith in spiritual 
powers," you say. Do you mean love, sympathy, strong 
belief, strong desire removing mountains, always mould- 
ing, creating one might say the individual and society ; or 
do you mean anything more ? 

In a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Loomis, of Nov. 5, 1873, 
after speaking with warm pleasure of a photograph of 
President Porter, she continues: "His and your letters 
have done me good, and I have followed your suggestion 
and written a short sketch of my husband's life. But I 
feel it will be no history of his thinking, and sometimes I 
fear it will be mere failure that he will not show 
through. I have no one to consult, and it is only for 
friends." This was the "Memoir," which, privately 
printed at first, was at a later time, yielding to the urgency 
of friends, published in the same volume with " Graven- 
hurst " and " Knowing and Feeling." 

The impression her letters give of her needs one addi- 
tion. When she writes, the sorrow of her heart always 
finds expression. But as she mingled with her friends, 
she so threw herself into their interests that in them she 
seemed to live. They were conscious principally not of 
any suffering in her, but of an element of exquisite sym- 
pathy, cheer, and tender radiance, which she brought into 
their lives. In such intercourse too she showed, as indeed 


might well be guessed from her letters, a vivid interest in 
the passing events of the hour, a keen observation of char- 
acter, and a charming playful humor. As compared with 
the pictures of her that live in her friends' memories, the 
impression given by her letters is a too sombre one. Noth- 
ing can supply to it the lighter touches, the grace and 
charm and play, of which not even her bereavement 
robbed her. Writes a friend : " We shall never laugh 
again as she used to make us laugh with her humorous 
descriptions and quaint conceits." Speaking of a visit 

near the end of her life, Mrs. B writes : " I said 

something to her of how impossible I felt it to select from 
the catalogue of my ailments any one that was not to my- 
self most hateful. She looked at me with a very bright 
arch light in her face, and said, 4 Oh, my dear, I love my 
ailments ! I find them quite to my mind ! ' 

Mrs. Bishop (Miss Isabella Bird), writing after her 
death, expresses what all felt : " I miss her more than I 
can say. It seemed so natural to turn to her swift com- 
prehension and ready sympathy in everything of special 
interest, never to be disappointed. She was so unique and 
wonderful, so developed on every side. While her rare 
gifts made one feel small beside her, her sympathy seemed 
to make one at one's best while with her listening to 
her wonderful words about things small and great, and 
looking at her face and eyes, so much fuller of soul than 
any other's. She was so encouraging ! and she saw things 
that no one else saw, and made one see them ; saw beauty 
and goodness where only the commonplace was evident to 
others, and so intensely loved and glorified those she 
loved, till one saw them in a halo too. She lived and 
thought and felt so keenly, and put all unworthy things 
and thoughts so utterly outside her ken, that an hour with 
her seemed an hour of illumination. I never saw any one 
more absolutely free from egotism, and yet she communi- 
cated more of herself than any one." 


A workingman, who was led to write to her by his ad- 
miration of " Thorndale," says of her letters to him : " I 
never opened one that did not afford me means of grace 
for many a day afterward. I am not irreverent in thought 
when I think of her as always manifesting (to me it seems 
so) the constancy of God changeless in all sorrow and 
joy. We have an impulse toward all good in the very 
thought of her as she lived and wrote and spoke. Times 
there must have been when the grossness and uncouth- 
ness through which I have had to struggle all my life long 
must have manifested their influence to her ; but ah ! not 
a word of this pain to her sensitive spirit escaped the pen. 
And this is only one of those intimations of her royal 
nature which showed themselves in her letters, and for 
which I am and ever shall be her debtor." " I have a 
strange feeling," wrote another friend after her death, 
" that I never again shall be worth so much, as when her 
loving sight seemed to elevate me into something above 

Each friend instinctively gave to her the worthiest of 
his thought, the finest of his feelings ; and, by imparting 
so much of this as was permissible to her other friends, 
she interpreted them all to one another through their 
noblest traits. " How privileged you are," writes one of 
them to her in returning another's letter, " to have com- 
forted by a word a spirit like that ! There is a spell 
about, you, for even I am conscious of having grown 
better under your influence. I have kept back words, 
when I thought of you, that would have poisoned my 
life if I had uttered them, though I thought I was only 
feeling a righteous indignation." 

" It is difficult," says one, " to give an idea of her bril- 
liant playfulness, her lightness of touch, the little inde- 
scribably dainty and droll descriptions and this while 
the aching sorrow and faithful love were always there. 
She was like sunshine in her cheerfulness, and radiance 


and like the tender dew in her intense pity and gentle un- 
speakable helpfulness, and like a reviving breeze in her 
strong, clear, decided opinions, and instant perceptions of 
what was the right thing to do or say." 



SHE passed the winter of 1873-74 at Cambridge, 
and the lonely season, apart from all familiar and be- 
loved surroundings, tried her brave spirit sorely. When 
in the spring she went to Dunkeld in Perthshire, the 
place where she had spent happy weeks in 1859, and 
among the scenes that had such power over her, one sees 
in her words a revival of the heart. The winter of 1874- 
75 was passed in Edinburgh, near her beloved Archie 
and Mary, 1 and in all the after winters her home was under 
the same roof with them; while most of her summers 
were henceforth passed at Patterdale. Of her other jour- 
neyings, the letters themselves will for the most part suf- 
ficiently tell the story. 

To Mrs. Larimer. 

CAMBRIDGE, Jan. 17, 1874. 

I am thinking, how beautiful your view must be looking 
this clear, keen day, and I trust all is as well and bright 
within the happy home as when I saw it last that wild 
evening when my coming disturbed all the young ones 
grouped around the dear mother-bird, who looked one of 
the youngest of the party. I have been reading an interest- 
ing, thought-rousing paper of Miss Cobbe's on " Hetero- 
pathy, Aversion, and Sympathy." Were the latter but 
more perfect ! But it is growing in the race,-and one's own 
aching heart at least recognizes it to be its legitimate aim. 
I must, however, always believe happiness a vantage-ground 

1 Married in 1874. 


for the exercise of all virtues. One of the books that I 
read just now most persistently is lent me by our beloved 
Mrs. Stirling. It is a very large volume, on " The His- 
tory of the Doctrine of a Future State." That is for me 
"the ocean to the river of all thought." I should like 
you to read Miss Cobbe's paper it is in the " National 
Review." She seems to think sympathy with joy comes 
before sympathy with pain, and makes out her case well 
with regard to animal, savage, and childish life. But I 
have always noticed that the ruder, the less cultured na- 
tures one knows nowadays are far more capable of being 
sorry for you than glad with you. 

You will wonder, however, what sets me off on these 
topics, and why I don't tell something of the whereabouts, 
etc. Dear, there is so little to tell. If I described the 
house, the squalid street, you would think I was complain- 
ing, and I do not even feel much difference. And though 
the street is very squalid, and I have seen faces as brutal- 
ized as in the Old Town of beautiful Edinburgh, this 
abode stands back from it in a nursery garden, and is 
quiet and airy as to situation, with about two acres of 
garden ground in front of it. Very mean and dingy the 
the little house is, but then, so marvellously cheap. It is 
really better than I expected, not worse ; and the good 
woman is sensible and obliging, very fond of discoursing 
to me. She has been married more than forty years, yet 
her hair is still black, while her good husband's is white 
as snow. She lost two children in infancy, and had 
no others. Her husband is everything to her now. 
" Lord, mum, I often says to myself, what ever should I 
do if I lost him ! I don't feel as if I could get on at 
all ! " And then she rambles off about the nieces and 
nephews that -have fallen to their share, that they have 
had "a terrible hand with," or else helped on to some 
successful industry. 

My one friend, dear Annie Clough, is away just now, 


and when she returns she is too busy with her household 
to have leisure for companionship. But I am attached 
to her by happy associations, and the sound of her voice 
reminds me of the days of life. New voices I shall never 
care to hear. Letters are really a boon here, linking one 
with happier lives. Tell me of all your darlings. Now I 
have seen them, I can realize all you say. Good-by, my 
dear and very sweet Hannah. Are you sure I did not 
alienate you by disliking over-much the lecture you so 
kindly took me to ? I don't feel now as if I ever should 
be vehement again about anything. I believe that this 
period of silence will be good for me. Oh, if I could grow 
like what I love so absolutely ! Never was he vehement 
against anything that interested others. 

To President Porter. 

DUNKELD, Aug. 13, 1874. 

... I know that you will expect me to write of my 
husband, for whose sake alone you are so kind to me. 
Those lines you so much admire (" There is a sweetness 
in the world's despair ") made a great impression upon 
Mr. and Mrs. Lewes. She writes : " I think I never 
read a more exquisite little poem than the one called 
4 Christian Resignation,' and Mr. Lewes when I read it 
aloud at once exclaimed, ' How very fine ! Read it 
again.' ' To them, apart from its melodiousness, the 
charm probably lay in the renunciation of a future bliss, 
the acceptance of love and sorrow here. You know they 
are Positivists. Oh, Dr. Porter ! You wonder how / 
can have a doubt of immortality ! The very intensity of 
my desire, my craving to believe that he, my so inexpress- 
ibly loved one, lives, as you say, " an intensely real and 
personal life," defeats itself, I do believe. The over- 
strained eye loses the power of vision. 1 I was never hope- 

1 Dr. Holmes says, in Elsie Venner : " All wonderful things soon 
grow doubtful in our own minds, as do even common events, if great 
interests prove suddenly to attach to their truth or falsehood." 


f ul nor was he though we were so strangely joyous 
together. Temperament must colour all things, our faith 
as well as the rest. I strive, I pray, I die to believe what 
you do, even more and more. I could not let Mrs. Lewes 
suppose for a moment I thought as she did. Her gentle 
hand would not put out any light, however irrational she 
may hold that intermittent ray which yet is my all. She 
says in reply : " All that goes to my heart of hearts. It 
is what I think of almost daily. For death seems to me 
now a close, real experience, like the approach of autumn 
or winter, and I am gfad to find that advancing life 
brings this power of imagining the nearness of death I 
never had till late years." Then again, after alluding to 
nieces of mine who have been and are with me : " You 
can feel some sympathy in their cheerfulness, even though 
sorrow is always your only private good can you not, 
dear friend ? And the time is short at the utmost. The 
blessed re-union, if it may come, must be patiently waited 
for, and such good as you can do to others by loving looks 
and words must seem to you like a closer companionship 
with the gentleness and benignity which you justly wor- 
shipped while it was visibly present, and still more per- 
haps now it is veiled and is a memory stronger than vis- 
ion of outward things." I know you will feel an interest 
in reading her words. I do not forgive me (but you 
will say truth needs not to be forgiven) /do not think 
your view of my husband's position as a religious thinker 
is quite the correct one. If ."the mind that was in 
Christ," the moral perfectness, the " sweet reasonable- 
ness," the soul athirst for God, the utter indifference to 
the outward things which the bulk of human beings seek 
after if justice, gentleness, purity, if these make a 
man a Christian, then indeed he was one. But the " per- 
petual unrest of thought " you allude to was excited by 
other subjects, and I think far more vital subjects, than 
any connected with " positive and historical Christian 


faith," There his position had been long denned to him- 
self. He held, you * know, of the most eminent teachers 
that they were " raised up by God I do not say mirac- 
ulously because in my conception all his works are equally 
miraculous." I have read your sermon with deep atten- 
tion, and I hope some little profit. But I cannot return 
to my early conception of Christianity. ... I have read 
your letter so often I think indeed much of those 
words, " Be over-solicitous for nothing." And sometimes 
I have felt that if my mind could like his be more utterly 
resigned to be or be not immortal, according as Infinite 
Wisdom should decide, I should have more abiding hope. 
But I suffer greatly God only knows how I loved and 
love that sweet spirit given to me by Him, 

Dear thought of God, that God will stQl think on. 
That line came one day into my head and haunts me often. 

To Miss Lyon. 


... I wish such joy and quick throbbing life of course 
to all the young. And yet I am pretty sure (and you 
know mine was a youth with plenty of variety and excite- 
ment) that youth is not the happiest period in any happy 
life. ... I read much and with intense interest in some 
directions. The good of a little home is that it affords 
greater variety of occupations. Your garden is a pleas- 
ure, and a most healthy one I am sure. How your dear 
mother loved her garden ! How odd it seems to the 
young that elderly people should have anything worth 
calling pleasure ! As we go on, our life includes that of 
the young. They can hardly understand ours, any more 
than we can understand the conditions of that other life, 
to the hope of which we cling, but we know every throb 
of theirs. I fancy I retain with peculiar vividness my in- 
tellectual sympathy with the young. 


To Mrs. Larimer: 


Yes, dear, I was in church that is, I was in chapel 
in an Independent chapel, on Sunday morning ; and 
though the tears did rain, as they must to the end not 
here will they be wiped away yet they were not so bit- 
ter. I was listening to a good, true man, who, daring to 
tell his hearers how very little he is sure of or even cares 
to be sure of, has the firmer hold on their minds when he 
speaks of those things on which he has attained as full a 
conviction as of his own existence. He has won that 
great and fundamental faith in God which leads him to 
have faith also in the instincts of his own God-created 
nature, and one of the strongest of these he finds to be 
prayer. Many things grew a little clearer to me as I lis- 
tened to this Dr. Robertson (a Scotchman plainly), and I 
should rather like to know him. I do not tell you I can 
accept all his conclusions, and probably were he not fet- 
tered, he might think on. But the one important matter 
is not so much the how people formularize their trust in 
God, as that they should have it. I was reading your 
book on Sunday evening, and appropriating from it what 
I could hold, and feeling strongly that in the holding it 
lay all the hope of growth. There was great need of 
elimination, but yet a broad strong light seemed flashed 
in on my consciousness, and if I did not believe (feebly 
as yet) that God's purpose is to educate us out of evil, I 
do not know how I should bear the amount of wrongness 
I see in myself. Dear, one should not say these things. 
Friends think it is humility that speaks. Not so ! But 
then, just as society gets on by that which was not evil at 
one stage (slavery, for instance) becoming conscious evil 
at another, and thus being renounced even so in our- 
selves, these new discoveries of wrongness must involve a 
higher conception of Tightness. And if the " Power that 


makes for righteousness " be and He must be on the 
side or rather at the very bottom of these strivings, there 
is hope. Oh, I have much to overcome ! I lived in and 
on love the love of one who was myself, my goodness, 
my wisdom ! There was no seeming need of conflict 
now it must be all conflict and renouncement. 

To Miss Mary Wrench. 

DUNKELD, June 18, 1874. 

. . . Last evening I was out till ten, gazing at his cot- 
tage at ours counting the steps between the two ; 
thinking, thinking ; loving him so absolutely, as he was 
then, was ever, and surely as he is now ; "a part of all 
the loveliness he once did make more lovely " to me, 
whose supreme good he was, and is, and may be even when 
you speak of us both as passed away. I feel lulled in the 
strangest trance, as if sorrow had taken some opiate. I 
am not frightened at the thought of solitude, though I can 
hardly tell yet. As yet I sit and do nothing half the day. 
It is all so wonderful ! So much joy, so much grief, and 
the body's life going on through it all. 

To Mrs. Cotton. 

DUNKELD, 1874. 

... I went again one evening to see Mrs. , and I 

see that she is a far more interesting person than I sup- 
posed. I don't know that I have ever erred in over- 
rating in under-rating, often. As I write the sentence 

the thought of - and Miss occurs. But I could 

not over-rate what Miss was while she liked me, what 

she would always be to those she approved. I think per- 
haps she lacks indulgence, and that my character requires 
it especially. I always appropriate the lines 

And you must love me, ere to you 
I shall seem worthy of your love. 

And I am sure - has the fine and noble qualities I ac- 
credited her with. 


To the Rev. Allan Menzies. 

. . . Nothing gives me the same throb of warm, vivid 
feeling that used to be so natural, that always now 
comes as a surprise as to find that my husband's char- 
acter has been duly appreciated, and that his works are in- 
fluencing younger minds. Since a notice of the " Essays " 
appeared in the " Scotsman," I have had some very grati- 
fying proofs of the deep interest he excited. One of the 
letters I allude to is from a Dundee man ; judging from 
the handwriting I should say one of the artisan class ; 
and the enthusiasm with which he writes of the "mental 
regeneration " he underwent through the study of " Thorn- 
dale " gratifies me even more than the tribute paid by a 
Yorkshire clergyman ; though that is peculiarly precious 
because it tells of an interview with my husband many 
years ago, when he was solitary, and / could no more 
guess what fulness of life lay before me than I can now 
what may be in store for us in that " further sphere " 
toward which my whole being must henceforth yearn. . . . 
I find these words of his in a manuscript book, he has 
been treating of the rude elementary conception of an 
angry God : 

Higher thought shall correct this also. You have seen, felt, 
enjoyed, a thousand times the great gifts of Life. Some day 
you see the Giver in the gifts. Happiest revelation ! Did any 
veil lift itself from the sky ? No, but the glory of the sky be- 
came as it were the glory of God. The light and beauty are to 
us his glory. 

I always noticed in the upturned and kindling eye that 
gazed at tree or mountain or cloud, not so much admira- 
tion as adoration. Only one thing exceeds the loss the 
love. That lives on, affording me such new experiences 
as make me understand the growth of a religion better 
than ever before. Do you know (you will not think me 


blasphemous) that no words so express my consciousness 
as some of St. Paul's : " I live, yet not I he lives in 
me." The adored ideal by filling modifies our heart and 
mind, so that our personality seems merged in another. 
But this will not be spoken, still less written. 

I was ten days here alone, re-living the summer of 1859. 
And they were the most living days I have had since he 
left me. The constant pain seemed to have something 
under and beyond it. 

. . . When will you come and see me ? You will be 
truly welcome. I do take interest in these church ques- 
tions, and shall understand them better when I have 
heard you speak of them. Only, all these questions seem 
so merely provisional, so evidently secondary, questions of 
taste, questions of to-day. The one thing that does mat- 
ter appears to me : what conception the human race in 
its development retains or frames of God, and whether its 
hope of another life strengthens while it changes. 

To Miss Violetta, Smith. 

[1874.] I think it so much better not to write than to 
swell the flood of merely commonplace productions ; and 
it should be understood that every educated man and 
woman can rhyme, but that poetry is and always will be 
rare. No doubt there are times when the thoughts within 
us can only be uttered so, but one need not want stran- 
gers to listen. To me the duty in this age of the world of 
not writing comes out very strongly 

A thoroughly healthy organization is as rare as genius 
is. Most of us, when we come to think of it, have an ache 
or a discomfort located somewhere in our uncomfortable 
bodies. That is why excitement does us good, it makes 
us forget our lower range of sensations. Love of some 
other is the best cure, and mental effort. 

[Christmas Day, 1874.] Mazzini's "Life" came, by 
which I was deeply interested, and supported somewhat. 


I had felt so desolate I was obliged to go in quest of one 
as desolate a poor Irish woman, whom I had seen sitting 
on a doorstep in thick-falling snow. She lived in one of 
the worst parts of the Old Town. Oh, my Vi, how the poor 
suffer ! But the dear old soul, the goodness of whose coun- 
tenance there was no mistaking, was quite cheerful, and 
full of God's goodness to her. She says she is eighty- 
eight, but I think it must be seventy-eight ; anyhow she is a 
wonder and a lesson, and I shall go again for a lesson in 
courage and patience. She makes patchwork counter- 
panes ; rags are given to her which she works up, and if 
she can't sell them she pawns them, and the work 
" amuses " her. She is kept alive by a son, a laborer 
who supports wife, six children, sick father-in-law, and 
aged mother. That is my idea of a good man ! The old 
woman has the good breeding of her country, and saw me 
down-stairs with dignified courtesy. When I asked if she 
were pretty warm in bed she said, " Well, reasonable 
yes, reasonable " in a tone that will I hope often recur 
to me as I sit and shiver with all appliances, and a great 
folding-screen from dear Mr. Constable. 

To Mrs. Cotton. 

PLAS COCH, 1874. 

. . . My Mary, it is a wonderful thing to be capable of 
intense happiness, and then to live entirely without it 
save indeed in memory. Two nights ago I dreamed of 
William, as I seldom do, and the restored joy so natural, 
so warm, so all-pervading gave me a still fuller con- 
sciousness of the strange unnatural chill and isolated con- 
ditions under which I exist with some phosphorescent 
kind of cheerfulness, that for others lightens the darkness, 
and with certainly a true if not deep interest in all that is 
going on for others. I do not say this, dear, complain- 
ingly, nor even is it a cry of irrepressible anguish, but the 
wonderfulness of our nature's range has so come home to 


me. I shall never in this life fully know how unhappy I 
am. The return of joy would reveal as it removed. Only 
then could one bear to fathom the abyss, when delivered 
from it forever. 

To Mrs. Cotton. 


If you have time for reading, there is a book of Ha- 
merton's on Animals that is quite amazing. I suppose 
you too have fogs in London, perhaps even yellower and 
thicker than ours. I 've been a very poor creature, and 
have looked startlingly cadaverous. But I have I do be- 
lieve a strong constitution, and I get round again to the 
old level. And the time is going on. May '75 be very 
happy to you both ! Did I tell you I wonder of Mr. 

meeting the B s at dinner and speaking to Lizzie 

much of me in connection with his " dear wife " send- 
ing me messages of remembrance, and on going away 

saying, " I hope we shall meet again, Mrs. B , for your 

connection with Mrs. Smith brings you very near to me." 
This touched me. He used to dislike me very much, but 
that was only a jealousy of an intimate friend. Now that 
loved one has become a reason for liking me ! Many of 
our faults are deciduous. Different sides of a character 
come out to different people you and dear General 
Cotton always evoke the best. 


How well within the reach of all 

Life's precious things indeed ! 
The kindly word, the offering small, 

The slight, spontaneous deed. 
What " New Year gift " could leave behind 

A sweeter trace than this 
A sudden impulse, good and kind, 

A country-woman's kiss ? 

The words exchanged were very few, 
Mere simple talk, no more ; 


But each one's heart the other knew, 

A common garb we wore. 
Her train came first, she took my hand, 

Held fast, and, saying this 
" We '11 meet no more on earth," she gave 

A widow- woman's kiss ! 

To Mr. Menzies. 


... I hardly know why, putting down the " Times," in 
which I have for the second time read Tyndall's address, 
I should at once turn to talk in this poor way to you. It 
is all so wonderful ! Here are people thanking him for 
his very interesting lecture, accepting apparently his con- 
clusions as the last word in our present state of knowl- 
edge, and yet I dare say they '11 be in church next Sun- 
day all the same. Why, I feel my hands grow quite cold 
with the excitement of the train of thought, the issues 
seem to me so tremendous. I should wonder how any 
one can ponder any other subject, did I not know the law 
of mental perspective, and that some ephemeral matter, 
matter of the present hour's strong feeling, hides those far 
mysteries from the gaze ; that some dear presence, and 
the gladness it brings, may seem to solve them ; or some 
agony of parting dissipate their importance. But there is 
one parting, one sorrow, to which this subject must ever 
be vital above all others. Oh, how I agree with the one 
who said, " This life without faith in a supreme intelli- 
gence would be intolerable." Can that deep personal 
need be only the result of hereditary influence, the teach- 
ing of countless generations ? Has it been intensified in 
ages of persecution, so that it still endures, but is it 
doomed to die out as men are less and less driven by suf- 
fering to refer all chance of satisfaction to some other 
world ? I feel that train of thought torturing, but it 
must come and go. ... Does it not seem to you as if the 
human mind always grew by exclusively and alternately 


laying stress upon one aspect of a duality ; then suddenly 
a few see that it is a unity ; that the contrast was but ap- 
parent ? With the words " natural " and " supernatural " 
what real difference do we indicate ? Only that between 
the common and the rare ; for even between the normal 
and the abnormal there can only be the division between 
a familiarly known law and one less familiar. 

I should like to know how you have felt this address of 
Tyndall's. But you, engaged in teaching, in the effort 
to " lift the life," which he does and all other sound intel- 
lects must allow to be the noblest result of all our " know- 
ing and feeling " you cannot torture yourself with the 
mere intellectual problem. Do you know these words of 
Victor Hugo, 

" Celui qui ne pense pas est aveugle, 

Celui qui pense est dans 1'obscurite', 

Nous ii'avons que le choix du noir." 

And yet how different the attitude, and how that which 
thinks and yearns and loves, and strains with wide-opened 
faculties toward the light its very efforts and defeats pre- 
sage ; how that call it soul, " mentalized matter," what 
you will how it must sometimes believe that what we 
know not now we shall know hereafter ! 

The other day, looking over my husband's manuscript 
books, I came upon a passage written some twelve years 
ago, which I take in connection with a clause in Tyndall's 
speech toward the close : " If, still unsatisfied, the human 
mind, with the yearning of a pilgrim for his distant home, 
will turn to the Mystery from which it has emerged, seek- 
ing so to fashion it as to give unity to thought and faith," 
etc. This is what my husband has jotted down you 
can understand with what reverence I turn for help to 
him : " There may be a normal development of the human 
mind, according to which certain ideas or truths are gen- 
erated and become universal faiths. These truths are not 
presented to us at once in the forms they are destined to 


reach, in the full and perfect form ; but they may have a 
determined growth, and finally take a form as truth recog- 
nized by all. Such seems to me the grand idea of God. 
I do not venture to pronounce that the idea present to my 
mind is that final idea which will prevail, but it is final to 
me ; and there will probably come a time when all men 
sufficiently cultivated will rest in some final idea." 

I like and find help in this thought God developing 
humanity into ever higher conceptions of his nature, thus 
raising theirs (for here there must be constant interac- 
tion) ; at last perhaps some grand perception of Unity, 
our personality not lost, yet God all in all. 


To Mr. and Mrs. Loomis. 

EDINBURGH, February 9, 1875. 

. . . Indeed, indeed, if I were with you, you would not 
find me grown egotistical. I can listen with I think deep- 
ened interest to all that concerns the lives of others. But 
when I write (I who have no life any longer) I must re- 
vert to the one in whom I lived, and for whose sake alone 
I have any value. . . . You know the one subject that is 
forever in my mind. That " to be or not to be " is the 
only question for those whose soul has left them. I have 
more hope I have but hope. Some profess intuitive 
certainty. Here is a passage from a little book, D'Oyly 
Snow's, that helps me much : 

What saves me from a weak uncertain faith, that would be 
scarcely better than atheism, is the conviction that tidings of 
God and immortality do not depend on hearsay, or on the cor- 
rectness of a certain version of ancient history, but that they are 
by a natural process made gradually to stamp their impression 
on the mind of the creature as it advances in consciotcsness ; in 
fact, that it is not by the violation of the universal creative 
method, but by the working of that method in its ordinary way, 
that man comes at the hope that is " full of immortality." 

[Extracts from letters to Miss Edith Wrench at different 
times. ^ 

Every effort made turns into strength. 
All we haye and are is pure gift. 


Enjoying each other's good is Heaven begun. 

[Speaking of a bit of work done.] It teaches me to en- 
ter into the pleasure the artistic must have in designing 
their own patterns. That is the advantage of any even 
mediocre performance, that it enables you to enter more 
sympathetically into the higher attainments of others. I 
wish I had discerned this truth earlier in life, instead of 
throwing up drawing, etc., because I could not excel. 
Even in the matter of weeding this small plot, and watch- 
ing the plants grow, the success will be small indeed, 
but I enter more fully into the delight of a garden for 
others. And the extension of our own personality by 
sympathy is just another word for progress, such as is pos- 
sible to us in this world, such as we hope for in another 
and brighter sphere. 

Only supporting supports. 

Oh, to be always as good as one's word, unless there be 
some grave deliberate reason for rescinding a project! 
How melancholy it is that people should so habitually 
neglect their promises ! The value, the imperativeness, 
of the spoken word, would be the first thing I should im- 
press upon a child if I had one to educate. 

There is nothing so terrible as ingratitude. That is 
why it is so dreadful when those who have been kind to 
one change ; one so fears one has been ungrateful. 

[DuNKELD.] I got on the rough ground above the 
road, covered with Trientalis, and a lovely little shrub 
with waxy pink bells, and I saw a scene of glory I shall 
never forget. The day had been cloudy and showery, but 
as he got low the sun broke out, and there was a trans- 
formation indeed. The mountains seen through golden 



mist might have been Alps in height, and the distant 
trees were very dark, while the birches in front of me 
were all interpenetrated with light, and stood bending as 
in worship before the great glory. Every leaf was quite 
still, and glistened with rain. How the birds sang ! The 
cuckoo prattled about it, but some of the thrushes seemed 
to have caught the very secret of the scene, and to sing it 
out in a rapture of praise. Ah, my Edith, no world surely 
can be fairer than this ! 

Every-day life must be lived on the level of cheerful 
contentment. Looking back through my varied years I 
can remember with regret how dull I used to find home 
after some exciting visit ; and I thankfully call up the re- 
membrance that later my precious mother spoke of my 
habitual cheerfulness as something priceless to her. To 
the young I would whisper that life cannot be all conscious 
vivid enjoyment. I sometimes think I might have done 
better in my early days if I had known this. Of course 
our health seems better (because we are too much oc- 
cupied with other things to notice ups and downs) when 
we are in new scenes and places ; and I fancy we are 
never acting more in conformity with the highest guid- 
ance than when we try to counterbalance the quiet routine 
by some employment. I was three hours in the woods 
yesterday, alone, but not alone, and oh, my Edith, how 
beautiful this stillness was, with gleams of slanting sun- 
light on moss and stones, and red fir trunks, and such 
squirrels ! Struan hunted terribly, for I was afraid he 
never could get out of the thick tangle of rhododendrons ; 
and afterward in the fern he did catch a rabbit, but I 
took it from him he did not know how to kill it. The 
sweet creature was in a swoon of terror, but as I carried 
it it revived, and its eye brightened, and when the little 
sportsman was off in another direction I put it into a 
covert of fern, and believe it will recover. 


DUNKELD, May 10, 1875. 

. . . My dear Edith's letters are always very inter- 
esting, and give the impression of not having been written 
in great haste. Whenever you feel hurry in a letter the 
charm is gone. But during a visit no one can give or 
ought to give much time to absent friends, and it was very 
sweet of my chick to write at all, and my generalization has 
no personal application. You will say that my eyes must 
be better, seeing my return to my small niggling hand. 
Well, they are better and worse. Yesterday was a very 
bad day of doing nothing but nurse Struan and disen- 
tangle his lovely coat. I fear I shall never have strong 
eyes again. I have great varieties of discomfort, but oh, 
I should be thankful to see to have my angel's thought- 
ful face before me, and the exquisite world in which he 
loved to help me to realize our Creator's love. I cannot 
describe the beauty of Dunkeld ; of a new walk Yi and I 
took on Friday evening, in glades between the Crieff road 
and river. The cones are wonderful under great firs, quite 
fresh and smooth as in autumn. They always remind me 
of my Archie and Mary, and I trust October will find 
them here again, to pick more and ramble through the 
woods. I had seven letters yesterday, and expect more 
to-day. I send you Mrs. Blackie's; is she not kind and 
generous ? Return her note, I shall keep it for days of 
dark discouragement, such as come to us all. ... I am 
feeling very doubtful as to the publication of the Memoir. 
He was so retiring, and his rest is to me so sacred. Yes- 
terday I wrote to Mrs. Lewes, and by her judgment I shall 

[Mrs. Lewes's answer was favorable to publication.] 


To Mrs. Archibald Constable. 1 

DUNKELD, May, 1875. 

This is a good day with the eyes, and oh, so beautiful ! 
I think of you all travelling, and perhaps meeting at 
sunny Aberdovey. I set out with dear Vi this morning 
to go to the Spanish chestnuts, but the wind turned me 
back. Struan, after a little indecision, went on with Vi. 
He is very fond of her. I make too much of him, and 
never did win much canine devotion. The loveliness was 
indescribable. My whole soul is expressed in Tennyson's 
two lines : 

Though mixed with God and Nature thou, 
I seem to love thee more and more. 

And how this love and sorrow fill and exalt life ! To me 
they are better than anything but the old joy, fulness of 
joy in his presence. I cannot tell you what new light 
seems to break on my soul. 

To President Porter. 

DUNKELD, July 14, 1875. 

How good you are to me ! And for this and all I thank 
my husband. I was much interested in those records of 
good and happy lives happy in spite of suffering so 
peaceful and holy in their close. Most deeply do I feel 
with you a sadness and a regret that any should be driven 
by some inexorable logic to relinquish that hope of a fur- 
ther growth in knowledge and in harmony with the 
Supreme Will, which gives all their meaning and beauty 
to such lives. I know indeed that one with Mrs. Lewes's 
high moral sense would point me to their influence on 
others ; but if there be no reality corresponding to their 
own dearest convictions, the whole universe to my think- 
ing is chaos, for then delusion is stronger for good than 
recognition of fact. Oh, I cling with unspeakable te- 
1 Formerly Miss Mary Wrench. 


iiacity to the trust in love outliving this life. I cannot 
transmute this trust into joy, as more sanguine spirits do, 
only it is my all. I can indeed see that there is a sort of 
sublimity in that loose hold upon personality, that con- 
tentment in subserving the progress of others, which dis- 
tinguish that gifted woman but those views appall me. 
And though a few natures are rare enough to dispense 
with what to others is intuition, instinct, yet they are 
abnormal, I think at all events they cannot help the 
suffering. If she lost her all, could she bear the absolute 
separation? I think not. One has heard and read so 
much condemnation of Mr. Mill's posthumous Essays, but 
what struck me most was the admission in the last that 
in the hope of a future life (which to some can only be 
thought of as further love) there was nothing contrary to 
reason. What a step that was for him to take, after the 
long mutilation of his childhood and his youth. His poor 
father robbed him of childhood indeed. I wonder whether 
a book entitled " The Unseen Universe " has been at all 
cared for in America. It has interested me, but less 
than a little work, " A Theologico-Political Treatise r> by 
George D'Oyly Snow, whose line of thought is much the 
same as the Duke of Argyll's in the " Contemporary " 
for this month. In that article on Animal Instinct there 
are many passages which have brought a blessed thrill of 
hope and trust. You see that to me nothing else signi- 

Lines dated Dunkeld, September 20, 1875 : 

As men born blind must ponder upon light, 

Deaf men on sound, though pondering seems vain ; 
Since only seeing tells the joy of sight, 

And hearing only music can explain ; 

So I, Beloved, must needs my spirit strain 
Long as endures life's dark and silent night 

Some image of a future bliss to gain. 


Knowledge will widen, that must mean, for thee, 
God clearer seen in all his power has wrought ; 

And oh, my thinker ! still more bold and free 
The range and energy of ceaseless thought. 

High hopes are these ; but yet, for one like me, 
A simple image, with past rapture fraught, 

Seems best to shadow forth what Heaven may be. 

Our life had days and years most glad and fair, 

Yet one joy thrills me still all joys above, 
Because it rose on an almost despair 

We two were parted ; should we meet ? Oh, Love f 
I did not dare expect you, You. were there! 

That says it all ; and dying may but prove 
A like surprise, and give me strength to bear. 

To Miss Violetta Smith. 

[1875.] I am to go to the Infirmary once or twice a 
week. I was there yesterday and saw a sweet young 
nurse, who will let me know what day suits. I heard a 
visitor reading in a loud quick hard voice to seven women, 
one very weak after a severe operation, a commonplace 
tract, telling them they might die any moment, and ask- 
ing them what would become of them. " Which should 
it be, Heaven or Hell ? Now is the time for choice." I 
told the nurse that style of ministration was horrible to 
me ; that if I went, I went as a fellow-creature, certainly 
inferior in power of bearing pain, lacking that consecra- 
tion as regarded bodily pain ; went not to teach, but if it 
might be to give a few moments' variety, and perhaps 
render some small friendly service, take a message, 
write a letter, supply some trivial want. The young wo- 
man plainly understood me. 

The Saturday visit to the Infirmary has much interest 
in it. The men are so glad of a paper, and there was a 
quite lovely Highland woman for whom one could do some 
small service. Yesterday I went again, taking all my 

494 LUCY 

Christmas cards for them to look at, and some for the 
Highland woman to send to her children in Ross-shire, 
and I have little commissions for some of them, and must 
return on Christmas day. I sent to Mrs. Dixon for holly 
from dear Borrowdale, and last evening it came, and 
Archie went off with it at once, and the nice nurse was 
" awfully pleased to get it," for they had only box, and 
were all full of dressing the wards. 

Lines dated Edinburgh, December 6, 1875 : 


Only a burst of sunlight, 

To shine through a budding tree, 
Only leaf-stars on the noontide blue, 

Yet a thrill of ecstasy ! 
And this is the spell works such wonders, Beloved 

J T is the eyes of two that see. 

Only the fire-light flicker 

On our plain green walls at play ; 
And we, well shut in by storm without, 

At close of our third wet day. 
" Can comfort, can cheeriness, go beyond this ? " 

So two happy voices say. 

Only the same sweet life 

Nothing startling, strange, and new ; 
But we find fresh meaning and delight 

In the smallest thing we do ; 
And the secret of this we have long agreed 

Is that everything 's done by two. 


One lonely creature dragging thro' her life, 

Weeks long as months, and months stretched out to years, 

Waging with sorrow an unending strife, 

Counting for sweetest solace, unchecked tears ; 

All impulse, energy, and motive gone, 

Nothing on earth to call or feel her own, 

Nothing worth doing, since 't is done alone. 


This is the lot of one of that glad two ! 

The other's lot but hope grows voiceless here, 
Though ever straining for some nearer view 

Of his high being in that " further sphere ; " 
And pressing to her heart, thro* sharpest pain, 
The thought that he for all his present gain, 
Waits for the hour will make them two again. 

My sorrow is my throne! 

It lifts me from the dust of earthly care ; 
'T is calm and peaceful, though so cold and lone 

And wider prospects stretch before me there. 

My sorrow is my crown ! 

A glory round the worn and aching brow ; 
I would not lay its thorny circlet down 

For any flowers earth has to offer now. 

Yet sometimes I could deem 

I heard his voice, loved voice that guides me, say, 
" The earth we loved must never trivial seem, 

Although our joy has passed from earth away. 

" Go down, at my behest, 

The smallest, humblest, kindly task to do ; 
/ see the thorn-prints ; hide them from the rest ; 

Because thou lov'st me so, love others too." 



To Lady Eastlake. 

137 GEORGE STREET, EDINBURGH, February 23, 1876. 
I HAVE just laid down your delightful paper on the 
" Two Amperes," dearest Lady Eastlake, and I want so 
much to talk with you about it. It brings me into such a 
new world opens out such fresh vistas of what life may 
be to the rarer spirits whose full development has been 
fostered by circumstances. I long to know more about 
Ballanche, that tender faithful soul content to give it- 
self away, " hoping for nothing again." I am so struck 
with all you say about the " Salon," and its necessary con- 
ditions, which indeed can never be found here, where for 
the most part speech seems an effort, a struggle seldom 
an impulse where the talk is known to be dull ac- 
cepted as such where indeed no one speaks, as the birds 
sing, from some sweet constraint of joy or sorrow where 
remark after remark, like a damp match, amounts to a 
momentary friction hardly a spark, and lights nothing. 
I remember indeed in the living days long talks with my 
husband when his bright thought poured out freely and 
gave me a new sense, and I shall never forget a conver- 
sation between him and Mrs. Lewes but for the most 
part I have never lived with talkers. Our loved friend 
[Mrs. Jones] used to take such delight in conversation, 
for which she had herself every requisite. But I don't 
think it ever occurred to me that it was a thing that could 
be cultivated. No doubt Madame Molil is right, and 
something should be done early in life. One sentence in 


your charming paper went straight to my heart : " Strength 
of conviction, not so much intended to be the present sup- 
port as the final fruit of intense mental anguish." It is a 
wise and profound remark. 

The winter is over. It has been as peaceful and pleas- 
ant as may now be. These dear ones are all one could 
wish, and friends very kind. I have recovered the power 
of using my eyes very freely, and have read much. 
Theodore Parker I often find helpful. Sometimes Past 
and Future seem bright at all events the trembling 
hope is felt as the most precious, the only precious thing. 

To the Rev. Allan Menzies. 


I wonder whether you know Clodd's little books for 
children, "The Childhood of the World" and "of Reli- 
gions." I read them with great interest, and feel perfect 
conviction that they embody the truth, the real facts, as 
to the manner of growth of the great ideas in the minds 
of men. Then comes that aching question : Is this, the 
last word of the highest knowledge and most earnest 
thought of the present day is this to be outgrown too, 
like those earlier conceptions ? How different an attitude 
the most religious minds of the day (if at all intelligent) 
must take from that of a St. Bernard, in whose mind the 
idea of progress of the race had never dawned : or even of 
the worthy divines of thirty years ago, who believed in an 
immutable form of spiritual life. Now, we suspect that 
much that we cling to still may be left behind. The good 
side of it is the toleration. And one does, at least I do, 
feel quite positive as to what has become to me simply 
unthinkable ; and however vague one's ideas may be, I 
am sure it is right to be true, and not to pretend to enter- 
tain what one has really left behind. 

Archie bought that book of Theodore Parker that I saw 
at Abernyte. I read it with as much agreement as is 


possible. But his was a remarkably spiritual nature. 
His soul was attuned for the highest and holiest. Still, 
it is only the more highly gifted that help the lesser, and 
the poorest of us is God's creature. 

I like to hear of your teaching. I sometimes wish I 
could betake myself to some sick ward of a hospital, and 
try to make a ten minutes easier for any. But I dread 
moving in any matter. If the work came to me, I would 
thankfully do what I could, being indeed " free of the 
guild of woe ; " but the work would come if I were better 
fitted for it. I think with Emerson that what belongs to 
us "gravitates toward us." 

I am so glad you have Hobab. That dumb affection is 
often a great comfort. 

To Miss Violetta Smith, 

[1876.] How conversant I am with that sense of the 
futility of one's efforts to do a little good! I do so un- 
derstand your feeling when the poor soul went to sleep ! 
However, if we make others familiar with us, a time 
comes when we are of such use as for the most part one 
human being can be to the unrelated lives outside our 
deepest love. I shall have plenty of the same experience, 
now that I have undertaken to go to the Infirmary. It 
struck me as such a pity to live on without trying to give 
afflicted ones such slight variety as a visit from a fellow- 
creature not wanting to preach might give. I shall take 
the day's paper and a few grapes, and though I don't ex- 
pect to feel my visits of any use or even conscious comfort 
to any of the sufferers, I shall try to go on. 

Most assuredly I know well what you mean by absence 
of growth in many excellent people. I have indeed been 
accustomed to define certain acquaintances as young, at 
whatever age, because growing. Some people cease grow- 
ing quite early, have no power of liking a new fact, 


scarcely a new book. When people see nothing as beau- 
tiful as they saw in their early days for instance, it is a 
sign that they are no longer impressionable, have set for 
once and all into a definite shape, will never grow from 
within a little perhaps from accretion. 

For the matter of a perfect sincerity, I must always 
think it of great moment to be truthful, and never to seem 
to like much what we in point of fact like little. But 
then if we can do any good turn to any one, we do like 
them for that very reason ; and there are relations where 
friendliness is perhaps Imperative. In theory we might 
debate the case long ; practically, I don't think there is 
much difficulty. But if a person be markedly distasteful 
to me, I think it most probable the same want of rapport 
affects that person in the same way, and I do not feel I 
am depriving such a one of any pleasure by keeping aloof. 
But I think one likes almost everybody with some amount 
of sincere liking, whether admiration or compassion or 
sympathy prevails. So many suffer and pity is closely 
akin to love. It is only untruthful people that I feel any 
shrinking from. And one's benevolence grows in propor- 
tion as one expects and even wishes no return, " hoping 
for nothing again." 

. . . The house is quite unchanged, and we are in the 
quiet country. Deep snow yesterday, and inexpressibly 
cold. When I think of the blessedness I have known 
here, and how all that I loved and love, in the one abso- 
lute unqualified sense, lived and thought his high thoughts 
in this room, I still feel a glow of intense feeling almost 
like happiness I I am sure, dear one, I don't know when 
I did write, but I think my letter to Archie must have 
told of my first interview with dearest Mr. Carpenter. I 
was of course a good deal with my Clara, spent Monday 


with her and great part of Tuesday. Tuesday evening I 
saw Dr. Allen, and I think I told Archie how he " under- 
stood." I was minded to send " Gravenhurst " to Dr. Hil- 
bers, whose kindness I shall never forget, and I 'm glad 1 
did. Wednesday brought George and Effie they are a 
dear pair. The Aquarium, enchanting but ill-ventilated 
place, where we spent two hours ; and then the agitation of 
witnessing Mr. Carpenter's anguish and resignation ; and 
a long, late walk all together were too much. Thursday 
I could hardly look up. Friday was divided between 
Augusta and Clara ; Saturday the same, Augusta going 
with me to our Aome, and oh, the 'tender grace with which 
she knelt and laid her offering of lily-of-the-valley and 
forget-me-not there ! I can't tell how lovingly I admire 
her. She is all and more than her early promise, and her 
life a romance. How she is admired and deferred to by 
men of all ages, and women are equally devoted. People 
are so very, very kind to me ! Sunday brought dear An- 
nie Clough in the morning ; George and Clara dined ; 
then Augusta came and walked with me to Mr. Carpen- 
ter's, waiting for me. The blessed old man gave me the 
enclosed. Must not his son have been a noble compound ? 
His sailor son is with the Challenger, and saved a life 
very nobly some time ago. I went to St. Paul's with Au- 
gusta, and the day was a busy one. 

Monday such frantic wind and rain I did not go out. 
Spite of the weather, Clara came in the morning ; then 
Augusta, to sing to me ; and while she was there Miss 
Thackeray called with Eugenie's dear little nieces. Au- 
gusta, with her sweet tact, took possession of the chil- 
dren, and Miss Thackeray and I spoke out of our hearts 
to each other. She is very dear, and simple and sweet 
as gifted people are. I felt it an interest to hear her 
speak of her father, and her love, intense love, for him. 
What with letters and people that day was full ; I wrote to 
several, too. We came off on Tuesday, I taking a most 


beautiful homeless tabby to Miina. How well he trav- 
elled, purring when the train stopped, and never moving 
till we got to Chester. George and Clara travelled with 

us to Victoria. Dear Amy G met me at the station 

I fear our last meeting and parting. She lifted up her 
voice, and what she called me ! all that his wife ought to 
be. Dearest Mr. Cotton too was there, all love and kind- 
ness. Dear Sophy too came, and when we departed I 
thought there were three friends who would tvfrn to each 
other and say gracious things of the poor " mutilated life " 
once so blessed. Altogether, dear, I felt the last three 
weeks helpful. It was such an atmosphere of glowing 
warmth and tenderness. Augusta's caring for me touches 
me, her life is so full. Rebecca was all true sisterliness, 
and did many a sweet little turn. You know how warm 
a welcome Hessie gave. The dear puss was much appre- 
ciated. It was a good thing for him I went to Brighton. 
Yesterday Vi and I were off early, meaning to walk to 
dear Betty's, but there was kind Jane Browne with her 
vehicle, and we got driven there. Poor Jane had much 
to tell me of her husband's beautiful death. . . . She was 
very affectionate, and had such a box of new-laid eggs 
for me. It was most kind of her to give us that lift to 
and fro. . . . Nine children in this house, and the hus- 
band smokes inveterately bad tobacco ! I don't mind, 
though, and dear Vi will, I trust, be well here. 

To the Rev. Allan Menzies. 

BRIGHTON, April, 1876. 

I think of you this bright April morning, and am glad 
that I can see your church, with its attentive congrega- 
tion, and you in the pulpit, and even the long-ladled boxes 
for the collection, all so clearly in my mind's eye. I have 
often thought of you since we last met, but the impulse to 
write grows I fear feebler. I do not, however, mean to 
resign myself passively to this. I notice as years go on 


people have a very general tendency to leave off letter 
writing. This must show a little deadening and narrow- 
ing of sympathy, and tends to increase it. One must fight 
it tooth and nail. To me throughout life it has been a 
great interest to receive letters, and that 's not to be had 
without writing them. And even now they help me much, 
and when some heart has poured itself out to me thus, I 
am stronger all the day through. ... I am sending you 
a paper thkt has interested me, but probably to you the 
train of thought may have no novelty. I remember that 
during the last winter my husband was looking over 
Feuerbach, and one day said, " It prompts a reaction." 
The suffering of animals does weigh terribly on many 
minds, but perhaps there is necessity in existence of any 
kind to include pain, and one ventures to hope that in 
them pleasure far exceeds. Of course I dissent strongly 
from the clause at the end of page 14. I need no " dia- 
bolic essence " to quicken conscience. I can believe in 
evil as the element which is always being revealed by 
higher knowledge, and the resisting of which is growth 
and life. But it is all very interesting and ingenious. 
Did you ever see Ruskin's " Fors Clavigera " ? The 
humour and the madness and the wisdom make them a 
unique compound. 


... It came across me the other night, driving by 
moonlight through this grand and solemn Pass, that one 
might read those words, " Sorrow not even as others that 
have no hope," in an inverse sense to the generally re- 
ceived. " Sorrow not less, but more ! You who have hope 
need not fear to fathom the unfathomableness of your 
earthly loss. You who have hope need never seek to get 
rid of your sacred Sorrow. You may safely receive her, 
a life-long inmate of your inmost heart. There she will 
dwell, suffering nothing low or worldly to dwell with her. 
Sorrow greatly, abidingly, consciously, thankfully you 
who have hope ! " 


PLAS COCH, LIANBEBIS, May 20, 1876. 

I write to you, dear Mr. Menzies, less for any definite 
reason, such as thanking you for your very valuable de- 
scription of Seathwaite might afford, than from a restless 
misery which has oppressed me ever since I received the 
enclosed note yesterday. It brought back the very worst 
phases of the sorrow which of late has been growing gen- 
tler and more lit up by hope. Mr. M is I am sure 

a man of fine intellect and tenderly affectionate nature, 
and the renunciation of the great idea of continued life 
gives him pain. But he is renouncing it. Is it some 
" cowardly shrinking " on my own part from a growing 
conviction that makes me suffer so acutely ? If my own 
convictions were firmer, should I be thus vulnerable ? I 
have read that article in the " Contemporary," but it does 
not shake my belief in a Power manifesting itself in 
Humanity, but even to the consciousness of Humanity 
manifesting itself in many other ways. The instinctive 
tendency to worship can never, to my mind, find its ade- 
quate object in the progressive race of which each one of 
us is a fraction. I feel that these words of my husband 
are reasonable : " Religion undoubtedly means more than 
a belief in God, but it means this first of all. Our cate^ 
chism tells us that it includes love to our neighbour, 
and philosophers tell us that it binds society together ; but 
it binds society together and cultivates our social affec- 
tions by the aid of those sentiments that spring from the 
relation between the creature and the Creator." On that 
head I cannot understand Positivism being irresistible. 
Humanity has been evolved into fuller perception of the 
beauties of this little world, of the glories and laws of the 
starry heavens, but it has not itself to thank for the deli- 
cate beauty of the tiniest moss, and something in its na- 
ture " claims kinship with the stars." We must adore 
something that embraces Humanity and muck more. 
Define we cannot. Is your life too busy a one for any 


anguish of this vain endeavour? And why should Pos- 
itivism be found " irresistible " on that other subject of 
continuity of life? The more we think and know, the 
greater our perception of our individual life as part of a 
whole ; that was never I think more constantly put out 
than by my own teacher and guide. Do you remember 
that passage in " Thorndale," chapter 3 : " But in thy 
hands, O Rhadamanthus, judge of the dead, what is this 
solitary soul ? " 1 one passage amongst many. The very 
word " solidarity " is but a recently adopted one among 
us, but the fact had been very early dwelt on by him. It 
seems to me that man as he progresses is less under the 
tyranny of this solidarity, no longer liable to that conta- 
gion of the imagination that rendered possible many of the 
epidemics of the Middle Ages. Such phenomena as the 
dancing madness, etc., are hardly possible in our civiliza- 
tion ; though indeed Irvingism and speaking with tongues, 
to say nothing of Moody-and-Sankeyism, should make us 
hesitate in saying this. However, on the whole, the indi- 
vidual does seem in proportion to his scientific knowledge 
to be, so to speak, more self-contained, practically more 
individual, while he realizes increasingly his dependence 
upon the past for all that he is now, and that he has no 
life except as part of an " organic whole." But this only 
enlarges our sense of personality. There is no contradic- 
tion between the two facts, as we apprehend them now. 
Why may not this dualism, so to say, of knowing our- 
selves as a part, and feeling ourselves " rounded to a sep- 
arate soul," endure ? I cannot think the instincts of the 
race have deceived it up to this present time, and that man 
is to grow satisfied with the perception of one of these 
truths. But I do think this Religion of Humanity is a 
great reaction from the mere Theology that has been so 
long taught, and that the renunciation by so many men of 
high intelligence of the thought of immortality is a violent 
1 See page 198. 


protest against the hideous dogma of eternally tortured 
beings. I suffer so ! All these subjects are for me 
steeped in my heart's blood. You see it was, it is, no 
ordinary love that bears this doom of separation. He in- 
spired a quite different feeling, even in his nieces, even in 
people who knew him but little. If I did not believe 
hope think abidingly that he lives in God, as we live 
in God, my own life would be utterly hideous and un- 
bearable to me. My love for him grows and grows. You 
see I owe to him such a vivid life, vivid joy. His very 
presence was fulness of joy. During those years I crossed 
the room on the most trivial errand with something of the 
freedom and ecstasy of flight. All things were intensi- 
fied, had boundless meaning, fragrance, were outlets " into 
infinity." I have said to him, not knowing what I said, 
on my Mount Tabor, " This is Eternity ! " If I have 
hope (I do not need to define our reunion, any more than 
the nature of God) the love strengthens me to try and 
purify myself even as he is pure. If not ! This letter is 
just a cry. If you have any strong conviction, strong need 
to hope, tell me anything sustaining. Is Mr. Stevenson 
an on-looker, or satisfied with just our present knowing in 
part? I cannot go for my faith to the Bible, and indeed 
on this subject it holds very little ; but the divinest char- 
acter we know of had this assumption of higher life, un- 
derlying all the morality he taught. To-day I cannot 
turn to any other subject. 

PLAS COCH, June. 18, 1876. 

It was good and kind of you, dear Mr. Menzies, to think 
about me and to write to me again. Your letters are al- 
ways very welcome. The intolerable pressure of hopeless- 
ness which I seemed rather to foresee than to feel, but 
its cold shadow withers up the life did not last long. 
I will not to-day touch upon the subject from the stand- 
point of thought. I have been thinking intensely, as the 
solitary can, all the morning, and turn to my letters for 


the relief that society gives. But I will just write down 
lines that gushed from my heart the other evening, and 
which will tell you how it has been with me of late. 

On one of the spurs of Snowdon : June 2. 

My angel out of sight, how could I bear 

The sunset glory of this summer eve, 

When all the hills their purplest shadows wear, 

And all the clouds their rosiest hues receive, 

How could I bear it, did I not believe 

Thy present sphere is yet more perfect and more fair. 

Oh, but that deep down in my secret heart 
Such trust all fear and doubting underlies, 
Glories like these, in which thou hast no part, 
What could they be but torture to my eyes ? 
Better the dreariest scene, the darkest skies, 
Better no more to be if thou no longer art. 

But since, Beloved, while I sit and gaze 

Upon the pageant of the earth and sky, 

My heart still throbs with thankfulness and praise, 

For what thou lovedst in our days gone by, 

I know thou must be living life more high, 

Seeing and serving God in nearer, nobler ways. 

And so it is. My love grows ever more and more, is 
all my personal life. How could I live did I not hope ? 
But he would say, " Turn to other subjects." 

I am glad you saw my ideal of young womanhood, 

Augusta S , and wish you had had more talk with 

her. Her face is fraught with intellect and feeling ; and 
every movement is so graceful it makes one say what 
Florimel said to Perdita which I might misquote, and 
which you know, so I won't get up for my Shakespeare. 
She and I had not met for ten years till we met last 
March, and the interval we found had but drawn us 


To a Friend. 

It is my hope that you will make in new and con- 
genial friends. You must learn to take the initiative. 
You are a very bright darling, and if you would only give 
yourself the rein, many that you think dry and unsympa- 
thetic would be far more genial and pleased than you 
suppose. It is no one's fault it is the merest trifles that 
seem to isolate. If you were stronger in health, you would 
not feel these chills. Augusta has quoted such an excel- 
lent saying of mine (! !) that I must give you the benefit 
of it. It seems that when she went to Edinburgh, I, in- 
troducing her to some friends, said, " You must mix up a 
good deal of yourself with them, and then you will thor- 
oughly like them ! " Oh, my dear one, act upon that ! 

To Mr. Thomas Constable. 

PLAS COCH, May 29, 1876. 

... I think you know that I am going to stay here for 
the summer. I hope in one way or other to be able to do 
this, even if the Khedive be finally ruined by the stock- 
jobbing crew the worst offenders of our modern days, 
" spreading ruin and scattering ban," for the poor return 
of personal wealth. However, they have their functions no 
doubt, like vultures and other ravagers, and they must 
have a hard time of it too, and lose much that is " free to 
the poorest comer." ... I wish I had seen that notice in 
the " Guardian " of " Gravenhurst," from which I see a 
pleasant passage extracted. That " step so light yet firm " 
was characteristic of the man as well as the author. The 
personality touched one as lightly as does a sunbeam, 
but it colored all one's world and raised the spirit's tem- 
perature. The majority have a heavy, opaque personality, 
mere resistance to another self. . . . These mountains are 
better than most things and how the birds sing! 
Archie has lent me helpful, thoughtful books not that I 


can go far with them, but they give one strength to reach 
a point where if the ways fork one sees 't is to meet again 
at the end. 

To Mrs. A. Constable. 

PLAS COCH, July 20, 1876. 

. . . Now I must tell you of the past week. Do you 
know, I can quite believe that solitude might grow to be 
one's consciously best time? Only one would want a 
wider range of books. Every evening I wandered in 
lovely places. On the fourteenth, the day William came 
to Patterdale, I sat long on a green hill we loved, saw the 
shining sea on one hand, Snowdon on the other, glowing 
like molten iron in the sunset, near me the peaceful sheep, 
overhead plovers all so peaceful, so like the past. And 
there I sat, and read his letters, and thanked God for my 
creation. No companionship can ever give me such in- 
tense feeling as these lonely hours. But variety is no 
doubt good for one ; prevents one's getting, as one easily 
might, exclusive ; and that very intensity of agony and 
rapture requires to be rested from. Indeed I feel, con- 
trasting myself as I am with others and as I am there, 
alone with him, that with very little exaggeration I might 
say " whether in the body or out of the body I cannot 
tell." Looking back through the empty years, a few such 
evenings of sunset glow, in the sky and in my soul, stand 
out as the only intervals of life in the old sense. But 
then, there are the dark hours, and the weary eyes, and 
the eating in of the un uttered thoughts ; and I am thankful 
for the intervals of human fellowship, and quite sure, my 
darlings, that it will be far better for me to winter with 
you than anywhere else ; though I would not have your 
plans inconveniently modified, the more so that I feel I 
shall be 110 advantage in a pecuniary sense, or enable you 
to have better rooms this winter. This summer I have 
.45 less than usual, but then I am spending less only 


twenty-five shillings for the rooms, and very little for eat- 
ing. Every week that comes round, I have to put some- 
thing in Mrs. Williams's bill, and this little fight, in which 
I always prevail, keeps up a delusion of being rather rich 
than otherwise. She is a nice little woman, so obliging 
and kindly ; and as to a little moulding of facts to make 
them fit in, that does not offend me. The girl Elizabeth 
is so pretty that I quite overlook her want of head, and she 
is such a gentle, timid creature that one can say anything. 
I have had a feeling of their being fond of me, if you will 
excuse my saying so, and was therefore glad to be told by 

Miss D that Mrs. Williams said " I was an angel " ! 

I wonder why, considering that the only notice I ever take 
of her eight children is to beg to have them silenced. 

Miss D called on Saturday. She is singularly kind, 

with that generous kindness that likes to dwell upon the 
possessions of others. She seems to take a positive pleas- 
ure in dwelling upon the bliss that was mine, and that she 
firmly believes will be again. I think her an admirable 
woman. I know few who are so easy and satisfactory to 
talk with, " quick at the uptak',' ' and with a courtesy that 
is flattering. On Saturday afternoon I had a telegram 
from the dear sailor, and he came by the ten train, but 
went first to the hotel to shake off his dustiness and order 
his room. He was in such good looks. The beautiful 
white teeth light up his grave and rather reluctant smile. 
I could fancy his having had some singular experiences. 
He sees so much of reckless, desperate life on the coast of 
Peru, lives so much where you must carry your revolver 
and are likely enough to witness an assassination, that he 
must take a wider view of human nature than those who 
live in decencies forever. Yet one would stake something 
worthier than one's life upon his uprightness and purity. 
He is a man you could go with anywhere, sure of his cool 
courage. You remember how years ago I was supported 
by his sitting upon the gunwale of the boat that tossed us 


a mile from shore to the packet. He is a good listener^ 
and if the sentiment chances to be one he feels but could 
not express, endorses it emphatically. I felt we were en 
rapport, but he is not a talker ; considers it probably very 
immaterial what he thinks or does not think, an acci- 
dent not affecting in any perceptible degree the course of 
events. He thinks marriage such a fearful risk ; said, half 
to himself, " Now there was my uncle ; I don't suppose 
one woman in a million would have suited him." He has 
evidently a deep feeling about his uncle. As I sat with 
him in the sweetest nooks of a brook on Sunday, and 
showed him the English wild flowers, unfamiliar to his eyes 
(he has been at sea since the age of fifteen), oh, how I 
wished for him the joy I felt, we felt, together ! He is 
affectionate to his own family, and adored by them, and 
tenderly devoted to his father. We were out all the morn- 
ing, despite the heat ; and in the evening I took him a 
drive, and we walked to the lakes below Snowdon ; and 
when he went away I had an odd feeling of having been 
cdive, such as I often have after dreams. I have a strange 
affection for him, a little fear of tiring him, a sense that 
there is in him much that is unfathomed, and a feeling 
that his uncle likes our being together. He talks of send- 
ing me a chinchilla. Think what a darling! He de- 
scribed the feel of it as of a " handful of smoke." It is 
quite gentle and tame. I have scruples about taking it, 
they are so seldom brought alive to this country. It 
would be a great responsibility. Of course it likes warmth, 
and in Edinburgh it would have to live always near the 
fire. It has a cage, but would gladly come out and run 
about, only it nibbles, like a squirrel. I am sure Archie 
would like it. I don't know whether it will come or not, 
and don't know what to wish. It must be an exquisite 
creature. There is no trouble with it ; it eats any green 
thing or any fruit, apple or apple-paring. Tell me how 
you will feel if I announce that I have got it. 


The Miss D referred to in this letter writes of her 

friend as follows : 

" My idea and remembrance of her is contained in one 
short sentence the noblest, most thoroughly noble 
woman I ever knew, and the most humble and sympathiz- 
ing utterly unselfish. I mean by humble the uncon- 
sciousness she showed of her own gifts and attainments, 
in her intercourse with the less gifted. And she had that 
rare and sacred gift, the power to wake the best in every 
one, and send them away feeling old energies revived, old 
hopes quickened, the world not all dry and desolate since 
it still held so gracious a presence, so full a sympathy. Of 
her great mental gifts others are better fitted to speak, 
but to me it was the heart, the spirit, the tone, which 
blessed five years only of my life, but changed it, and is 
now a part of it, though she has been lost to us outwardly 
for six years. You know something of what she was to 
me, but only I know the depth and extent of her influ- 
ence and help, or how entirely she was a ' light in a star- 
less night ' to me. Well I remember the first meeting 
coming out of the little Welsh church one evening, and 
seeing her sitting in the porch, listening to 4 the sweet 
Welsh hymn,' as she said when I held the door open 
(thinking she was going in to hear the sermon, not know- 
ing who she was I was leaving before the sermon, as it 
was the Welsh service that evening). Then she rose and 
walked in my direction, and even in that short walk I 
began to know what she was. A day or two after she 
came to see me, and then, until she left, I saw her only 
seven times altogether. Then the dear letters and 
then, the end. 

"Two of these meetings espBcially remain as pictures 
in my memory. Once, she was sitting on a grassy slope 
near the church, looking toward the Lake and Snowdon, 
with such a look in the beautiful dark eyes not suffer- 
ing exactly, the word ' pathetic ' suits it better and 


her smile that evening I can see now. The other vision 
of her is yet more vivid. She and Edith had been at 
Mount Hazel by the seashore, where she and her husband 
once lived ; and in the twilight she came in on her way 
home to give me a white pebble and seaweed from the 
beach. Her dear eyes were full of light, and her cheek 
flushed, and her black veil had the dew of the autumn 
evening upon it ; and she spoke a few sweet words about 
the old life there, and of still knowing he was near her 
4 my dearest out of sight.' 

" Was ever sorrow so unselfish as hers ! It never 
closed her heart to that of others, who, if I may judge 
by my own feeling, looked upon her as one guarded, set 
apart, by her sacred grief, from intrusion of theirs. But 
she drew it out by her magic sympathy, and then came 
the flow of wise, helping, raising encouragement. Many 
more than will ever be fully known in this world owe the 
restoration of life and hope to her, in her own widowhood 
and loss of personal happiness if indeed that is a true 
description of the dear heart which felt as its own the 
joy of those she loved. And then the thought for her