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A Writer's Recollections (In Two Volumes), Volume I by Mrs. Humphry Ward

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reading history with my father on a Devonshire reading-party. The tall,
slight figure in blue serge, the red-gold hair, the spectacles, the keen
features and quiet, commanding eye--I see them first against a
background of rocks on the Lynton shore. Then again, a few years later,
in his beautiful Merton rooms, with the vine tendrils curling round the
windows, the Morris paper, and the blue willow-pattern plates upon it,
that he was surely the first to collect in Oxford. A luncheon-party
returns upon me--in Brasenose--where the brilliant Merton Fellow and
tutor, already a power in Oxford, first met his future wife; afterward,
their earliest married home in Oxford so near to ours, in the new region
of the Parks; then the Vicarage on the Northumberland coast where
Creighton wrestled with the north-country folk, with their virtues and
their vices, drinking deep draughts thereby from the sources of human
nature; where he read and wrote history, preparing for his _magnum
opus_, the history of the Renaissance Popes; where he entertained his
friends, brought up his children, and took mighty walks--always the same
restless, energetic, practical, pondering spirit, his mind set upon the
Kingdom of God, and convinced that in and through the English Church a
man might strive for the Kingdom as faithfully and honestly as anywhere
else. The intellectual doubts and misgivings on the subject of taking
orders, so common in the Oxford of his day, Creighton had never felt.
His life had ripened to a rich maturity without, apparently, any of
those fundamental conflicts which had scarred the lives of other men.

The fact set him in strong contrast with another historian who was also
our intimate friend--John Richard Green. When I first knew him, during
my engagement to my husband, and seven years before the _Short History_
was published, he had just practically--though not formally--given up
his orders. He had been originally curate to my husband's father, who
held a London living, and the bond between him and his Vicar's family
was singularly close and affectionate. After the death of the dear
mother of the flock, a saintly and tender spirit, to whom Mr. Green was
much attached, he remained the faithful friend of all her children. How
much I had heard of him before I saw him! The expectation of our first
meeting filled me with trepidation. Should I be admitted, too, into that
large and generous heart? Would he "pass" the girl who had dared to be
his "boy's" fiance? But after ten minutes all was well, and he was my
friend no less than my husband's, to the last hour of his fruitful,
suffering life.

And how much it meant, his friendship! It became plain very soon after
our marriage that ours was to be a literary partnership. My first
published story, written when I was eighteen, had appeared in the
_Churchman's Magazine_ in 1870, and an article on the "Poema del Cid,"
the first-fruits of my Spanish browsings in the Bodleian, appeared in
_Macmillan_ early in 1872. My husband was already writing in the
_Saturday Review_ and other quarters, and had won his literary spurs as
one of the three authors of that _jeu d'esprit_ of no small fame in its
day, the _Oxford Spectator_. Our three children arrived in 1874, 1876,
and 1879, and all the time I was reading, listening, talking, and
beginning to write in earnest--mostly for the _Saturday Review_.
"J.R.G.," as we loved to call him, took up my efforts with the warmest
encouragement, tempered, indeed, by constant fears that I should become
a hopeless bookworm and dryasdust, yielding day after day to the mere
luxury of reading, and putting nothing into shape!

Against this supposed tendency in me he railed perpetually. "Any one can
read!" he would say; "anybody of decent wits can accumulate notes and
references; the difficulty is to _write_--to make something!" And later
on, when I was deep in Spanish chronicles and thinking vaguely of a
History of Spain--early Spain, at any rate--he wrote, almost
impatiently: "_Begin_--and begin your _book_. Don't do 'studies' and
that sort of thing--one's book teaches one everything as one writes it."
I was reminded of that letter years later when I came across, in
_Amiel's Journal_, a passage almost to the same effect: "It is by
writing that one learns--it is by pumping that one draws water into
one's well." But in J.R.G.'s case the advice he gave his friend was
carried out by himself through every hour of his short, concentrated
life. "He died learning," as the inscription on his grave testifies; but
he also died _making_. In other words, the shaping, creative instinct
wrestled in him with the powers of death through long years, and never
deserted him to the very end. Who that has ever known the passion of the
writer and the student can read without tears the record of his last
months? He was already doomed when I first saw him in 1871, for signs of
tuberculosis had been discovered in 1869, and all through the 'seventies
and till he died, in 1883, while he was writing the _Short History_, the
expanded Library Edition in four volumes, and the two brilliant
monographs on _The Making of England_ and _The Conquest of England_, the
last of which was put together from his notes, and finished by his
devoted wife and secretary after his death, he was fighting for his
life, in order that he might finish his work. He was a dying man from
January, 1881, but he finished and published _The Making of England_ in
1882, and began _The Conquest of England_. On February 25th, ten days
before his death, his wife told him that the end was near. He thought a
little, and said that he had still something to say in his book "which
is worth saying. I will make a fight for it. I will do what I can, and I
must have sleeping-draughts for a week. After that it will not matter if
they lose their effect." He worked on a little longer---but on March 7th
all was over. My husband had gone out to see him in February, and came
home marveling at the miracle of such life in death.

I have spoken of the wonderful stimulus and encouragement he could give
to the young student. But he was no flatterer. No one could strike
harder or swifter than he, when he chose.

It was to me--in his eager friendship for "Humphry's" young wife--he
first intrusted the task of that primer of English literature which
afterward Mr. Stopford Brooke carried out with such astonishing success.
But I was far too young for such a piece of work, and knew far too
little. I wrote a beginning, however, and took it up to him when he was
in rooms in Beaumont Street. He was entirely dissatisfied with it, and
as gently and kindly as possible told me it wouldn't do and that I must
give it up.[1] Then throwing it aside, he began to walk up and down his
room, sketching out how such a general outline of English literature
might be written and should be written. I sat by enchanted, all my
natural disappointment charmed away. The knowledge, the enthusiasm, the
_shaping_ power of the frail human being moving there before me--with
the slight, emaciated figure, the great brow, the bright eyes; all the
physical presence instinct, aflame, with the intellectual and poetic
passion which grew upon him as he traced the mighty stream of England's
thought and song--it was an experience never forgotten, one of those by
which mind teaches mind, and the endless succession is carried on.

[Footnote 1: Since writing these lines, I have been amused to discover
the following reference in the brilliant biography of Stopford Brooke,
by his son-in-law, Principal Jacks, to my unlucky attempt. "The only
advantage," says Mr. Brooke in his diary for May 8, 1899, "the older
writer has over the younger is that he knows what to leave out and has a
juster sense of proportion. I remember that when Green wanted the Primer
of English Literature to be done, Mrs. ---- asked if she might try her
hand at it. He said 'Yes,' and she set to work. She took a fancy to
_Beowulf_, and wrote twenty pages on it! At this rate the book would
have run to more than a thousand pages."]

There is another memory from the early time, which comes back to me--of
J.R.G. in Notre Dame. We were on our honeymoon journey, and we came
across him in Paris. We went together to Notre Dame, and there, as we
all lingered at the western end, looking up to the gleaming color of the
distant apse, the spirit came upon him. He began to describe what the
Church had seen, coming down through the generations, from vision to
vision. He spoke in a low voice, but without a pause or break, standing
in deep shadow close to the western door. One scarcely saw him, and I
almost lost the sense of his individuality. It seemed to be the very
voice of History--Life telling of itself.

Liberty and the passion for liberty were the very breath of his being.
In 1871, just after the Commune, I wrote him a cry of pity and horror
about the execution of Rossel, the "heroic young Protestant who had
fought the Versaillais because they had made peace, and prevented him
from fighting the Prussians." J.R.G. replied that the only defense of a
man who fought for the Commune was that he believed in it, while Rossel,
by his own statement, did not.

People like old Delescluze are more to my mind, men who believe,
rightly or wrongly (in the ideas of '93), and cling to their faith
through thirteen years of the hulks and of Cayenne, who get their
chance at last, fight, work, and then when all is over know how to
die--as Delescluze, with that gray head bared and the old threadbare
coat thrown open, walked quietly and without a word up to the fatal
barricade.

His place in the ranks of history is high and safe. That was abundantly
shown by the testimony of the large gathering of English scholars and
historians at the memorial meeting held in his own college some years
ago. He remains as one of the leaders of that school (there is, of
course, another and a strong one!) which holds that without imagination
and personality a man had better not write history at all; since no
recreation of the past is really possible without the kindling and
welding force that a man draws from his own spirit.

But it is as a friend that I desire--with undying love and gratitude--to
commemorate him here. To my husband, to all the motherless family he had
taken to his heart, he was affection and constancy itself. And as for
me, just before the last visit that we paid him at Mentone in 1882, a
year before he died, he was actually thinking out schemes for that
history of early Spain which it seemed, both to him and me, I must at
last begin, and was inquiring what help I could get from libraries on
the Riviera during our stay with him. Then, when we came, I remember our
talks in the little Villa St. Nicholas--his sympathy, his enthusiasm,
his unselfish help; while all the time he was wrestling with death for
just a few more months in which to finish his own work. Both Lord Bryce
and Sir Leslie Stephen have paid their tribute to this wonderful talk of
his later years. "No such talk," says Lord Bryce, "has been heard in our
generation." Of Madame de Stal it was said that she wrote her books out
of the talk of the distinguished men who frequented her _salon_. Her own
conversation was directed to evoking from the brains of others what she
afterward, as an artist, knew how to use better than they. Her talk--
small blame to her!--was plundering and acquisitive. But J.R.G.'s talk
_gave_ perpetually, admirable listener though he was. All that he had he
gave; so that our final thought of him is not that of the suffering
invalid, the thwarted workman, the life cut short, but rather that of
one who had richly done his part and left in his friends' memories no
mere pathetic appeal, but much more a bracing message for their own
easier and longer lives.

Of the two other historians with whom my youth threw me into contact,
Mr. Freeman and Bishop Stubbs, I have some lively memories. Mr. Freeman
was first known to me, I think, through "Johnny," as he was wont to call
J.R.G., whom he adored. Both he and J.R.G. were admirable letter-
writers, and a volume of their correspondence--much of it already
published separately--if it could be put together--like that of Flaubert
and George Sand--would make excellent reading for a future generation.
In 1877 and 1878, when I was plunged in the history of West-Gothic
Kings, I had many letters from Mr. Freeman, and never were letters about
grave matters less grave. Take this outburst about a lady who had sent
him some historical work to look at. He greatly liked and admired the
lady; but her work drove him wild. "I never saw anything like it for
missing the point of everything.... Then she has no notion of putting a
sentence together, so that she said some things which I fancy she did
not mean to say--as that 'the beloved Queen Louisa of Prussia' was the
mother of M. Thiers. When she said that the Duke of Orleans's horses ran
away, 'leaving two infant sons,' it may have been so: I have no evidence
either way."

Again, "I am going to send you the Spanish part of my Historical
Geography. It will be very bad, but--when I don't know a thing I believe
I generally know that I don't know it, and so manage to wrap it up in
some vague phrase which, if not right, may at least not be wrong. Thus I
have always held that the nursery account of Henry VIII--

"'And Henry the Eighth was as fat as a pig--'

"is to be preferred to Froude's version. For, though certainly an
inadequate account of the reign, it is true as far as it goes."

Once, certainly, we stayed at Somerleaze, and I retain the impression of
a very busy, human, energetic man of letters, a good Churchman, and a
good citizen, brimful of likes and dislikes, and waving his red beard
often as a flag of battle in many a hot skirmish, especially with
J.R.G., but always warm-hearted and generally placable--except in the
case of James Anthony Froude. The feud between Freeman and Froude was,
of course, a standing dish in the educated world of half a century ago.
It may be argued that the Muse of History has not decided the quarrel
quite according to justice; that Clio has shown herself something of a
jade in the matter, as easily influenced by fair externals as a certain
Helen was long ago. How many people now read the _Norman Conquest_--
except the few scholars who devote themselves to the same period?
Whereas Froude's History, with all its sins, lives, and in my belief
will long live, because the man who wrote it was a _writer_ and
understood his art.

Of Bishop Stubbs, the greatest historical name surely in the England of
the last half of the nineteenth century, I did not personally see much
while we lived in Oxford and he was Regius Professor. He had no gifts--
it was his chief weakness as a teacher--for creating a young school
around him, setting one man to work on this job, and another on that, as
has been done with great success in many instances abroad. He was too
reserved, too critical, perhaps too sensitive. But he stood as a great
influence in the background, felt if not seen. A word of praise from him
meant everything; a word of condemnation, in his own subjects, settled
the matter. I remember well, after I had written a number of articles on
early Spanish Kings and Bishops, for a historical Dictionary, and they
were already in proof, how on my daily visits to the Bodleian I began to
be puzzled by the fact that some of the very obscure books I had been
using were "out" when I wanted them, or had been abstracted from my
table by one of the sub-librarians. _Joannes Biclarensis_--he was
missing! Who in the world could want that obscure chronicle of an
obscure period but myself? I began to envisage some hungry German
_Privatdozent_, on his holiday, raiding my poor little subject, and my
books, with a view to his Doctor's thesis. Then one morning, as I went
in, I came across Doctor Stubbs, with an ancient and portly volume under
his arm. _Joannes Biclarensis_ himself!--I knew it at once. The
Professor gave me a friendly nod, and I saw a twinkle in his eye as we
passed. Going to my desk, I found another volume gone--this time the
_Acts of the Councils of Toledo_. So far as I knew, not the most ardent
Churchman in Oxford felt at that time any absorbing interest in the
Councils of Toledo. At any rate, I had been left in undisturbed
possession of them for months. Evidently something was happening, and I
sat down to my work in bewilderment.

Then, on my way home, I ran into a fellow-worker for the Dictionary--a
well-known don and history tutor. "Do you know what's happened?" he
said, in excitement. "_Stubbs_ has been going through our work! The
Editor wanted his imprimatur before the final printing. Can't expect
anybody but Stubbs to know all these things! My books are gone, too." We
walked up to the Parks together in a common anxiety, like a couple of
school-boys in for Smalls. Then in a few days the tension was over; my
books were on my desk again; the Professor stopped me in the Broad with
a smile, and the remark that Joannes Biclarensis was really quite an
interesting fellow, and I received a very friendly letter from the
Editor of the Dictionary.

And perhaps I may be allowed, after these forty years, one more
recollection, though I am afraid a proper reticence would suppress it! A
little later "Mr. Creighton" came to visit us, after his immigration to
Embleton and the north; and I timidly gave him some lives of West-Gothic
Kings and Bishops to read. He read them--they were very long and
terribly minute--and put down the proofs, without saying much. Then he
walked down to Oxford with my husband, and sent me back a message by
him: "Tell M. to go on. There is nobody but Stubbs doing such work in
Oxford now." The thrill of pride and delight such words gave me may be
imagined. But there were already causes at work why I should not "go
on."

I shall have more to say presently about the work on the origins of
modern Spain. It was the only thorough "discipline" I ever had; it
lasted about two years--years of incessant, arduous work, and it led
directly to the writing of _Robert Elsmere_. But before and after, how
full life was of other things! The joys of one's new home, of the
children that began to patter about it, of every bit of furniture and
blue pot it contained, each representing some happy _chasse_ or special
earning--of its garden of half an acre, where I used to feel as
Hawthorne felt in the garden of the Concord Manse--amazement that Nature
should take the trouble to produce things as big as vegetable marrows,
or as surprising as scarlet runners that topped one's head, just that we
might own and eat them. Then the life of the University town, with all
those marked antagonisms I have described, those intellectual and
religious movements, that were like the meeting currents of rivers in a
lake; and the pleasure of new friendships, where everybody was equal,
nobody was rich, and the intellectual average was naturally high. In
those days, too, a small group of women of whom I was one were laying
the foundations of the whole system of women's education in Oxford. Mrs.
Creighton and I, with Mrs. Max Mller, were the secretaries and founders
of the first organized series of lectures for women in the University
town; I was the first secretary of Somerville Hall, and it fell to me,
by chance, to suggest the name of the future college. My friends and I
were all on fire for women's education, including women's medical
education, and very emulous of Cambridge, where the movement was already
far advanced.

But hardly any of us were at all on fire for woman suffrage, wherein the
Oxford educational movement differed greatly from the Cambridge
movement. The majority, certainly, of the group to which I belonged at
Oxford were at that time persuaded that the development of women's power
in the State--or rather, in such a state as England, with its far-
reaching and Imperial obligations, resting ultimately on the sanction of
war--should be on lines of its own. We believed that growth through
Local Government, and perhaps through some special machinery for
bringing the wishes and influence of women of all classes to bear on
Parliament, other than the Parliamentary vote, was the real line of
progress. However, I shall return to this subject on some future
occasion, in connection with the intensified suffragist campaign which
began about ten years ago (1907-08) and in which I took some part. I
will only note here my first acquaintance with Mrs. Fawcett. I see her
so clearly as a fresh, picturesque figure--in a green silk dress and a
necklace of amber beads, when she came down to Oxford in the
mid-'seventies to give a course of lectures in the series that Mrs.
Creighton and I were organizing, and I remember well the atmosphere of
sympathy and admiration which surrounded her as she spoke to an audience
in which many of us were well acquainted with the heroic story of Mr.
Fawcett's blindness, and of the part played by his wife in enabling him
to continue his economic and Parliamentary work.

But life then was not all lectures!--nor was it all Oxford. There were
vacations, and vacations generally meant for us some weeks, at least, of
travel, even when pence were fewest. The Christmas vacation of 1874 we
were in Paris. The weather was bitter, and we were lodged, for
cheapness' sake, in an old-fashioned hotel, where the high canopied beds
with their mountainous duvets were very difficult to wake up in on a
cold morning. But in spite of snow and sleet we filled our days to the
brim. We took with us some introductions from Oxford--to Madame Mohl,
the Renans, the Gaston Parises, the Boutmys, the Ribots, and, from my
Uncle Matthew, to the Scherers at Versailles. Monsieur Taine was already
known to us, and it was at their house, on one of Madame Taine's
Thursdays, that I first heard French conversation at its best. There was
a young man there, dark-eyed, dark-haired, to whom I listened--not
always able to follow the rapid French in which he and two other men
were discussing some literary matter of the moment, but conscious, for
the first time, of what the conversation of intellectual equals might
be, if it were always practised as the French are trained to practise it
from their mother's milk, by the influence of a long tradition. The
young man was M. Paul Bourget, who had not yet begun to write novels,
while his literary and philosophical essays seemed rather to mark him
out as the disciple of M. Taine than as the Catholic protagonist he was
soon to become. M. Bourget did not then speak English, and my French
conversation, which had been wholly learned from books, had a way at
that time--and, alack! has still--of breaking down under me, just as one
reached the thing one really wanted to say. So that I did not attempt to
do more than listen. But I seem to remember that those with whom he
talked were M. Francis Charmes, then a writer on the staff of the
_Dbats_, and afterward the editor of the _Revue des deux Mondes_ in
succession to M. Brunetire; and M. Gaston Paris, the brilliant head of
French philology at the Collge de France. What struck me then, and
through all the new experiences and new acquaintanceships of our
Christmas fortnight, was that strenuous and passionate intensity of the
French temper, which foreign nations so easily lose sight of, but which,
in truth, is as much part of the French nature as their gaiety, or as
what seems to us their frivolity. The war of 1870, the Commune, were but
three years behind them. Germany had torn from them Alsace-Lorraine; she
had occupied Paris; and their own Jacobins had ruined and burned what
even Germany had spared. In the minds of the intellectual class there
lay deep, on the one hand, a determination to rebuild France; on the
other, to avenge her defeat. The blackened ruins of the Tuileries and of
the Cour des Comptes still disfigured a city which grimly kept them
there as a warning against anarchy; while the statue of the Ville de
Strasbourg in the Place de la Concorde had worn for three years the
funeral garlands, which, as France confidently hopes, the peace that
will end this war will, after nearly half a century, give way once more
to the rejoicing tricolor. At the same time reconstruction was
everywhere beginning--especially in the field of education. The corrupt,
political influence of the Empire, which had used the whole educational
system of the country for the purpose of keeping itself and its
supporters in power, was at an end. The recognized "cole Normale" was
becoming a source of moral and mental strength among thousands of young
men and women; and the "cole des Sciences politiques," the joint work
of Taine, Renan, and M. Boutmy, its first director, was laying
foundations whereof the results are to be seen conspicuously to-day, in
French character, French resource, French patience, French science, as
this hideous war has revealed them.

I remember an illuminating talk with M. Renan himself on this subject
during our visit. We had never yet seen him, and we carried an
introduction to him from Max Mller, our neighbor and friend in Oxford.
We found him alone, in a small working-room crowded with books, at the
College de France. Madame Renan was away, and he had abandoned his large
library for something more easily warmed. My first sight of him was
something of a shock--of the large, ungainly figure, the genial face
with its spreading cheeks and humorous eyes, the big head with its
scanty locks of hair. I think he felt an amused and kindly interest in
the two young folk from Oxford who had come as pilgrims to his shrine,
and, realizing that our French was not fluent and our shyness great, he
filled up the time--and the gaps--by a monologue, lit up by many touches
of Renanesque humor, on the situation in France.

First, as to literature--"No, we have no genius, no poets or writers of
the first rank just now--at least so it seems to me. But we _work--nous
travaillons beaucoup! Ce sera noire salut_." It was the same as to
politics. He had no illusions and few admirations. "The Chamber is full
of mediocrities. We are governed by _avocats_ and _pharmaciens_. But at
least _Ils ne feront pas la guerre_!"

He smiled, but there was that in the smile and the gesture which showed
the smart within; from which not even his scholar's philosophy, with its
ideal of a world of cosmopolitan science, could protect him. At that
moment he was inclined to despair of his country. The mad adventure of
the Commune had gone deep into his soul, and there were still a good
many pacifying years to run, before he could talk of his life as "_cette
charmante promenade travers la realit_"--for which, with all it had
contained of bad and good, he yet thanked the Gods. At that time he was
fifty-one; he had just published _L'Antichrist,_ the most brilliant of
all the volumes of the "Origines"; and he was not yet a member of the
French Academy.

I turn to a few other impressions from that distant time. One night we
were in the Thtre Franais, and Racine's "Phdre" was to be given. I
at least had never been in the Maison de Molire before, and in such
matters as acting I possessed, at twenty-three, only a very raw and
country-cousinish judgment. There had been a certain amount of talk in
Oxford of a new and remarkable French actress, but neither of us had
really any idea of what was before us. Then the play began. And before
the first act was over we were sitting, bent forward, gazing at the
stage in an intense and concentrated excitement such as I can scarcely
remember ever feeling again, except perhaps when the same actress played
"Hernani" in London for the first time in 1884. Sarah Bernhardt was
then--December, 1874--in the first full tide of her success. She was of
a ghostly and willowy slenderness. Each of the great speeches seemed
actually to rend the delicate frame. When she fell back after one of
them you felt an actual physical terror lest there should not be enough
life left in the slight, dying woman to let her speak again. And you
craved for yet more and more of the _voix d'or_ which rang in one's ears
as the frail yet exquisite instrument of a mighty music. Never before
had it been brought home to me what dramatic art might be, or the power
of the French Alexandrine. And never did I come so near quarreling with
"Uncle Matt" as when, on our return, after having heard my say about the
genius of Sarah Bernhardt, he patted my hand indulgently with the
remark, "But, my dear child, you see, you never saw Rachel!"

As we listened to Sarah Bernhardt we were watching the outset of a great
career which had still some forty years to run. On another evening we
made acquaintance with a little old woman who had been born in the first
year of the Terror, who had spent her first youth in the _salon_ of
Madame Rcamier, valued there, above all, for her difficult success in
drawing a smile from that old and melancholy genius, Chteaubriand; and
had since held a _salon_ of her own, which deserves a special place in
the history of _salons_. For it was held, according to the French
tradition, and in Paris, by an Englishwoman. It was, I think, Max Mller
who gave us an introduction to Madame Mohl. She sent us an invitation to
one of her Friday evenings, and we duly mounted to the top of the old
house in the Rue du Bac which she made famous for so long. As we entered
the room I saw a small disheveled figure, gray-headed, crouching beside
a grate, with a kettle in her hand. It was Madame Mohl--then eighty-
one--who was trying to make the fire burn. She just raised herself to
greet us, with a swift investigating glance; and then returned to her
task of making the tea, in which I endeavored to help her. But she did
not like to be helped, and I soon subsided into my usual listening and
watching, which, perhaps, for one who at that time was singularly
immature in all social respects, was the best policy. I seem still to
see the tall, substantial form of Julius Mohl standing behind her, with
various other elderly men who were no doubt famous folk, if one had
known their names. And in the corner was the Spartan tea-table, with its
few biscuits, which stood for the plain living whereon was nourished the
high thinking and high talking which had passed through these rooms.
Guizot, Cousin, Ampre, Fauriel, Mignet, Lamartine, all the great men of
the middle century had talked there; not, in general, the poets and the
artists, but the politicians, the historians, and the _savants_. The
little Fairy Blackstick, incredibly old, kneeling on the floor, with the
shabby dress and tousled gray hair, had made a part of the central scene
in France, through the Revolution, the reign of the Citizen king, and
the Second Empire--playing the rle, through it all, of a good friend of
freedom. If only one had heard her talk! But there were few people in
the room, and we were none of us inspired. I must sadly put down that
Friday evening among the lost opportunities of life. For Mrs. Simpson's
biography of Madame Mohl shows what a wealth of wit and memory there was
in that small head! Her social sense, her humor, never deserted her,
though she lived to be ninety. When she was dying, her favorite cat, a
tom, leaped on her bed. Her eyes lit up as she feebly stroked him. "He
is so distinguished!" she whispered. "But his wife is not distinguished
at all. He doesn't know it. But many men are like that." It was one of
the last sayings of an expert in the human scene.

Madame Mohl was twenty-one when the Allies entered Paris in 1814. She
had lived with those to whom the fall of the _Ancien Rgime_, the
Terror, and the Revolutionary wars had been the experience of middle
life. As I look back to the _salon_ in the Rue du Bac, which I saw in
such a flash, yet where my hand rested for a moment in that of Madame
Rcamier's pet and protege, I am reminded, too, that I once saw, at the
Forsters', in 1869, when I was eighteen, the Doctor Lushington who was
Lady Byron's adviser and confidant when she left her husband, and who,
as a young man, had stayed with Pitt and ridden out with Lady Hester
Stanhope. One night, in Eccleston Square, we assembled for dinner in the
ground-floor library instead of the drawing-room, which was up-stairs. I
slipped in late, and saw in an arm-chair, his hands resting on a stick,
an old, white-haired man. When dinner was announced--if I remember
right--he was wheeled into the dining-room, to a place beside my aunt. I
was too far away to hear him talk, and he went home after dinner. But it
was one of the guests of the evening, a friend of his, who said to me--
with a kindly wish, no doubt, to thrill the girl just "out": "You ought
to remember Doctor Lushington! What are you?--eighteen?--and he is
eighty-six. He was in the theater on the night when the news reached
London of Marie Antoinette's execution, and he can remember, though he
was only a boy of eleven, how it was given out from the stage, and how
the audience instantly broke up."

Doctor Lushington, of course, carries one farther back than Madame Mohl.
He was born in 1782, four years after the deaths of Rousseau and
Voltaire, two years before the death of Diderot. He was only six years
younger than Lady Hester Stanhope, whose acquaintance he made during the
three years--1803-1806--when she was keeping house for her uncle,
William Pitt.

But on my right hand at the same dinner-party there sat a guest who was
to mean a good deal more to me personally than Doctor Lushington--young
Mr. George Otto Trevelyan, as he then was, Lord Macaulay's nephew,
already the brilliant author of _A Competition Wallah, Ladies in
Parliament_, and much else. We little thought, as we talked, that after
thirty-five years his son was to marry my daughter.

CHAPTER IX

THE BEGINNINGS OF _ROBERT ELSMERE_

If these are to be the recollections of a writer, in which perhaps other
writers by profession, as well as the more general public, may take some
interest, I shall perhaps be forgiven if I give some account of the
processes of thought and work which led to the writing of my first
successful novel, _Robert Elsmere_.

It was in 1878 that a new editor was appointed for one of the huge well-
known volumes, in which under the aegis of the John Murray of the day,
the _Nineteenth Century_ was accustomed to concentrate its knowledge--
classical, historical, and theological--in convenient, if not exactly
handy, form. Doctor Wace, now a Canon of Canterbury, was then an
indefatigable member of the _Times_ staff. Yet he undertook this extra
work, and carried it bravely through. He came to Oxford to beat up
recruits for Smith's _Dictionary of Christian Biography_, a companion
volume to that of _Classical Biography_, and dealing with the first
seven centuries of Christianity. He had been told that I had been
busying myself with early Spain, and he came to me to ask whether I
would take the Spanish lives for the period, especially those concerned
with the West-Goths in Spain; while at the same time he applied to
various Oxford historians for work on the Ostrogoths and the Franks.

I was much tempted, but I had a good deal to consider. The French and
Spanish reading it involved was no difficulty. But the power of reading
Latin rapidly, both the degraded Latin of the fifth and sixth centuries
and the learned Latin of the sixteenth and seventeenth, was essential;
and I had only learned some Latin since my marriage, and was by no means
at home in it. I had long since found out, too, in working at the
Spanish literature of the eleventh to the fourteenth century, that the
only critics and researches worth following in that field were German;
and though I had been fairly well grounded in German at school, and had
read a certain amount, the prospect of a piece of work which meant, in
the main, Latin texts and German commentaries, was rather daunting. The
well-trained woman student of the present day would have felt probably
no such qualms. But I had not been well trained; and the Pattison
standards of what work should be stood like dragons in the way.

However, I took the plunge, and I have always been grateful to Canon
Wace. The sheer, hard, brain-stretching work of the two or three years
which followed I look back to now with delight. It altered my whole
outlook and gave me horizons and sympathies that I have never lost,
however dim all the positive knowledge brought me by the work has long
since become. The strange thing was that out of the work which seemed
both to myself and others to mark the abandonment of any foolish hopes
of novel-writing I might have cherished as a girl, _Robert Elsmere_
should have arisen. For after my marriage I had made various attempts to
write fiction. They were clearly failures. J. R. G. dealt very
faithfully with me on the subject; and I could only conclude that the
instinct to tell stories which had been so strong in me as a child and
girl meant nothing, and was to be suppressed. I did, indeed, write a
story for my children, which came out in 1880--_Milly and Olly_; but
that wrote itself and was a mere transcript of their little lives.

And yet I venture to think it was, after all, the instinct for "making
out," as the Bronts used to call their own wonderful story-telling
passion, which rendered this historical work so enthralling to me. Those
far-off centuries became veritably alive to me--the Arian kings fighting
an ever-losing battle against the ever-encroaching power of the Catholic
Church, backed by the still lingering and still potent ghost of the
Roman Empire; the Catholic Bishops gathering, sometimes through winter
snow, to their Councils at Seville and Toledo; the centers of culture in
remote corners of the peninsula, where men lived with books and holy
things, shrinking from the wild life around them, and handing on the
precious remnants and broken traditions of the older classical world;
the mutual scorn of Goth and Roman; martyrs, fanatics, heretics,
nationalists, and cosmopolitans; and, rising upon, enveloping them all,
as the seventh and eighth centuries drew on, the tide of Islam, and the
menace of that time when the great church of Cordova should be half a
mosque and half a Christian cathedral.

I lived, indeed, in that old Spain, while I was at work in the Bodleian
and at home. To spend hours and days over the signatures to an obscure
Council, identifying each name so far as the existing materials allowed,
and attaching to it some fragment of human interest, so that gradually
something of a picture emerged, as of a thing lost and recovered--
dredged up from the deeps of time--that, I think, was the joy of it all.

I see, in memory, the small Oxford room, as it was on a winter evening,
between nine and midnight, my husband in one corner preparing his
college lectures, or writing a "Saturday" "middle"; my books and I in
another; the reading-lamp, always to me a symbol of peace and
"recollection"; the Oxford quiet outside. And yet, it was not so
tranquil as it looked. For beating round us all the time were the
spiritual winds of an agitated day. The Oxford of thought was not quiet;
it was divided, as I have shown, by sharper antagonisms and deeper feuds
than exist to-day. Darwinism was penetrating everywhere; Pusey was
preaching against its effects on belief; Balliol stood for an unfettered
history and criticism, Christ Church for authority and creeds; Renan's
_Origines_ were still coming out, Strauss's last book also; my uncle was
publishing _God and the Bible_ in succession to _Literature and Dogma_;
and _Supernatural Religion_ was making no small stir. And meanwhile what
began to interest and absorb me were _sources_--_testimony_. To what--to
whom--did it all go back, this great story of early civilization, early
religion, which modern men could write and interpret so differently?

And on this question the writers and historians of four early centuries,
from the fifth to the ninth, as I lived with them, seemed to throw a
partial, but yet a searching, light. I have expressed it in _Robert
Elsmere_. Langham and Robert, talking in the Squire's library on
Robert's plans for a history of Gaul during the breakdown of the Empire
and the emergence of modern France, come to the vital question: "History
depends on _testimony_. What is the nature and virtue of testimony at
given times? In other words, did the man of the third century
understand, or report, or interpret facts in the same way as the man of
the sixteenth or the nineteenth? And if not, what are the differences?--
and what are the deductions to be made from them?"

Robert replies that his work has not yet dug deep enough to make him
answer the question.

"It is enormously important, I grant--enormously," he repeated,
reflectively.

On which Langham says to himself, though not to Elsmere, that the whole
of "orthodoxy" is in it, and depends on it.

And in a later passage, when Elsmere is mastering the "Quellen" of his
subject, he expresses himself with bewilderment to Catherine on this
same subject of "testimony." He is immersed in the chronicles and
biographies of the fifth and sixth centuries. Every history, every
biography, is steeped in marvel. A man divided by only a few years from
the bishop or saint whose life he is writing reports the most fantastic
miracles. What is the psychology of it all? The whole age seems to
Robert "non-sane." And, meanwhile, across and beyond the medieval
centuries, behind the Christian era itself, the modern student looks
back inevitably, involuntarily, to certain Greeks and certain Latins,
who "represent a forward strain," who intellectually "belong to a world
ahead of them." "You"--he says to them--"_you_ are really my kindred."

That, after all, I tried to express this intellectual experience--which
was, of course, an experience of my own--not in critical or historical
work, but in a novel, that is to say in terms of human life, was the
result of an incident which occurred toward the close of our lives in
Oxford. It was not long after the appearance of _Supernatural Religion_,
and the rise of that newer school of Biblical criticism in Germany
expressed by the once-honored name of Doctor Harnack. Darwinian debate
in the realm of natural science was practically over. The spread of
evolutionary ideas in the fields of history and criticism was the real
point of interest. Accordingly, the University pulpit was often filled
by men endeavoring "to fit a not very exacting science to a very
grudging orthodoxy"; and the heat of an ever-strengthening controversy
was in the Oxford air.

In 1881, as it happened, the Bampton Lectures were preached by the Rev.
John Wordsworth, then Fellow and Tutor of Brasenose, and, later, Bishop
of Salisbury. He and my husband--who, before our marriage, was also a
Fellow of Brasenose--were still tutorial colleagues, and I therefore
knew him personally, and his first wife, the brilliant daughter of the
beloved Bodley's Librarian of my day, Mr. Coxe. We naturally attended
Mr. Wordsworth's first Bampton. He belonged, very strongly, to what I
have called the Christ Church camp; while we belonged, very strongly, to
the Balliol camp. But no one could fail to respect John Wordsworth
deeply; while his connection with his great-uncle, the poet, to whom he
bore a strong personal likeness, gave him always a glamour in my eyes.
Still, I remember going with a certain shrinking; and it was the shock
of indignation excited in me by the sermon which led directly--though
after seven intervening years--to _Robert Elsmere._

The sermon was on "The present unsettlement in religion"; and it
connected the "unsettlement" definitely with "sin." The "moral causes of
unbelief," said the preacher, "were (1) prejudice; (2) severe claims of
religion; (3) intellectual faults, especially indolence, coldness,
recklessness, pride, and avarice."

The sermon expounded and developed this outline with great vigor, and
every skeptical head received its due buffeting in a tone and fashion
that now scarcely survive. I sat in the darkness under the gallery. The
preacher's fine ascetic face was plainly visible in the middle light of
the church; and while the confident priestly voice flowed on, I seemed
to see, grouped around the speaker, the forms of those, his colleagues
and contemporaries, the patient scholars and thinkers of the Liberal
host, Stanley, Jowett, Green of Balliol, Lewis Nettleship, Henry
Sidgwick, my uncle, whom he, in truth--though perhaps not consciously--
was attacking. My heart was hot within me. How could one show England
what was really going on in her midst? Surely the only way was through
imagination; through a picture of actual life and conduct; through
something as "simple, sensuous, passionate" as one could make it. Who
and what were the persons of whom the preacher gave this grotesque
account? What was their history? How had their thoughts and doubts come
to be? What was the effect of them on conduct?

The _immediate_ result of the sermon, however, was a pamphlet called
_Unbelief and Sin: a Protest addressed to those who attended the Bampton
Lecture of Sunday, March 6th_. It was rapidly written and printed, and
was put up in the windows of a well-known shop in the High Street. In
the few hours of its public career it enjoyed a very lively sale. Then
an incident--quite unforeseen by its author--slit its little life! A
well-known clergyman walked into the shop and asked for the pamphlet. He
turned it over, and at once pointed out to one of the partners of the
firm in the shop that there was no printer's name upon it. The
booksellers who had produced the pamphlet, no doubt with an eye to their
large clerical _clientle_, had omitted the printer's name, and the
omission was illegal. Pains and penalties were threatened, and the
frightened booksellers at once withdrew the pamphlet and sent word of
what had happened to my much-astonished self, who had neither noticed
the omission nor was aware of the law. But Doctor Foulkes, the clergyman
in question--no one that knew the Oxford of my day will have forgotten
his tall, militant figure, with the defiant white hair and the long
clerical coat, as it haunted the streets of the University!--had only
stimulated the tare he seemed to have rooted up. For the pamphlet thus
easily suppressed was really the germ of the later book; in that,
without attempting direct argument, it merely sketched two types of
character: the character that either knows no doubts or has suppressed
them, and the character that fights its stormy way to truth.

The latter was the first sketch of _Robert Elsmere_. That same evening,
at a College party, Professor Green came up to me. I had sent him the
pamphlet the night before, and had not yet had a word from him. His kind
brown eyes smiled upon me as he said a hearty "thank you," adding "a
capital piece of work," or something to that effect; after which my
spirits were quite equal to telling him the story of Doctor Foulkes's
raid.

* * * * *

The year 1880-81, however, was marked for me by three other events of
quite a different kind: Monsieur Renan's visit to Oxford, my husband's
acceptance of a post on the staff of the _Times_, and a visit that we
paid to the W.E. Forsters in Ireland, in December, 1880, at almost the
blackest moment of the Irish land-war.

Of Renan's visit I have mingled memories--all pleasant, but some touched
with comedy. Gentle Madame Renan came with her famous husband and soon
won all hearts. Oxford in mid-April was then, as always, a dream of
gardens just coming into leaf, enchasing buildings of a silvery gray,
and full to the brim of the old walls with the early blossom--almond, or
cherry, or flowering currant. M. Renan was delivering the Hibbert
Lectures in London, and came down to stay for a long week-end with our
neighbors, the Max Mllers. Doctor Hatch was then preaching the Bampton
Lectures, that first admirable series of his on the debt of the Church
to Latin organization, and M. Renan attended one of them. He had himself
just published _Marc Aurle_, and Doctor Hatch's subject was closely
akin to that of his own Hibbert Lectures. I remember seeing him emerge
from the porch of St. Mary's, his strange, triangular face pleasantly
dreamy. "You were interested?" said some one at his elbow. "_Mais oui_!"
said M. Renan, smiling. "He might have given my lecture, and I might
have preached his sermon! _(Nous aurions du changer de cahiers_!)" Renan
in the pulpit of Pusey, Newman, and Burgon would indeed have been a
spectacle of horror to the ecclesiastical mind. I remember once, many
years after, following the _parroco_ of Castel Gandolfo, through the
dreary and deserted rooms of the Papal villa, where, before 1870, the
Popes used to make _villegiatura_, on that beautiful ridge overlooking
the Alban lake. All the decoration of the villa seemed to me curiously
tawdry and mean. But suddenly my attention was arrested by a great
fresco covering an entire wall. It represented the triumph of the Papacy
over the infidel of all dates. A Pope sat enthroned, wearing the triple
crown, with angels hovering overhead; and in a huge brazier at his feet
burned the writings of the world's heretics. The blazing volumes were
inscribed--Arius--Luther--Voltaire--_Renan_!

We passed on through the empty rooms, and the _parroco_ locked the door
behind us. I thought, as we walked away, of the summer light fading from
the childish picture, painted probably not long before the entry of the
Italian troops into Rome, and of all that was symbolized by it and the
deserted villa, to which the "prisoner of the Vatican" no longer
returns. But at least Rome had given Ernest Renan no mean place among
her enemies--Arius, Luther, Voltaire--_Renan_!

But in truth, Renan, personally, was not the enemy of any church, least
of all of the great Church which had trained his youth. He was a born
scholar and thinker, in temper extremely gentle and scrupulous, and with
a sense of humor, or rather irony, not unlike that of Anatole France,
who has learned much from him. There was, of course, a streak in him of
that French paradox, that impish trifling with things fundamental, which
the English temperament dislikes and resents; as when he wrote the
_Abbesse de Jouarre_, or threw out the whimsical doubt in a passing
sentence of one of his latest books, whether, after all, his life of
labor and self-denial had been worth while, and whether, if he had lived
the life of an Epicurean, like Thophile Gautier, he might not have got
more out of existence. "He was really a good and great man," said
Jowett, writing after his death. But "I regret that he wrote at the end
of his life that strange drama about the Reign of Terror."

There are probably few of M. Renan's English admirers who do not share
the regret. At the same time, there, for all to see, is the long life as
it was lived--of the ever-toiling scholar and thinker, the devoted
husband and brother, the admirable friend. And certainly, during the
Oxford visit I remember, M. Renan was at his best. He was in love--
apparently--with Oxford, and his charm, his gaiety, played over all that
we presented to him. I recall him in Wadham Gardens, wandering in a kind
of happy dream--"Ah, if one had only such places as this to work in, in
France! What pages--and how perfect!--one might write here!" Or again,
in a different scene, at luncheon in our little house in the Parks, when
Oxford was showing, even more than usual, its piteous inability to talk
decently to the great man in his own tongue. It is true that he neither
understood ours--in conversation--nor spoke a word of it. But that did
not at all mitigate our own shame--and surprise! For at that time, in
the Oxford world proper, everybody, probably, read French habitually,
and many of us thought we spoke it. But a mocking spirit suggested to
one of the guests at this luncheon-party--an energetic historical
tutor--the wish to enlighten M. Renan as to how the University was
governed, the intricacies of Convocation and Congregation, the
Hebdomadal Council, and all the rest. The other persons present fell at
first breathlessly silent, watching the gallant but quite hopeless
adventure. Then, in sheer sympathy with a good man in trouble, one after
another we rushed in to help, till the constitution of the University
must have seemed indeed a thing of Bedlam to our smiling but much-
puzzled guest; and all our cheeks were red. But M. Renan cut the knot.
Since he could not understand, and we could not explain, what the
constitution of Oxford University _was_, he suavely took up his parable
as to what it should be. He drew the ideal University, as it were, in
the clouds; clothing his notion, as he went on, in so much fun and so
much charm, that his English hosts more than forgot their own defeat in
his success. The little scene has always remained with me as a crowning
instance of the French genius for conversation. Throw what obstacles in
the way you please; it will surmount them all.

To judge, however, from M. Renan's letter to his friend, M. Berthelot,
written from Oxford on this occasion, he was not so much pleased as we
thought he was, or as we were with him. He says, "Oxford is the
strangest relic of the past, the type of living death. Each of its
colleges is a terrestrial paradise, but a deserted Paradise." (I see
from the date that the visit took place in the Easter vacation!) And he
describes the education given as "purely humanist and clerical,"
administered to "a gilded youth that comes to chapel in surplices. There
is an almost total absence of the scientific spirit." And the letter
further contains a mild gibe at All Souls, for its absentee Fellows.
"The lawns are admirable, and the Fellows eat up the college revenues,
hunting and shooting up and down England. Only one of them works--my
kind host, Max Mller."

At that moment the list of the Fellows of All Souls contained the names
of men who have since rendered high service to England; and M. Renan was
probably not aware that the drastic reforms introduced by the two great
University Commissions of 1854 and 1877 had made the sarcastic picture
he drew for his friend not a little absurd. No doubt a French
intellectual will always feel that the mind-life of England is running
at a slower pace than that of his own country. But if Renan had worked
for a year in Oxford, the old priestly training in him, based so solidly
on the moral discipline of St. Nicholas and St. Sulpice, would have
become aware of much else. I like to think that he would have echoed the
verdict on the Oxford undergraduate of a young and brilliant Frenchman
who spent much time at Oxford fifteen years later. "There is no
intellectual _lite_ here so strong as ours (i.e., among French
students)," says M. Jacques Bardouz, "but they undoubtedly have a
political _lite_, and, a much rarer thing, a moral _lite_.... What an
environment!--and how full is this education of moral stimulus and
force!"

Has not every word of this been justified to the letter by the
experience of the war?

After the present cataclysm, we know very well that we shall have to
improve and extend our higher education. Only, in building up the new,
let us not lose grip upon the irreplaceable things of the old!

It was not long after M. Renan's visit that, just as we were starting
for a walk on a May afternoon, the second post brought my husband a
letter which changed our lives. It contained a suggestion that my
husband should take work on the _Times_ as a member of the editorial
staff. We read it in amazement, and walked on to Port Meadow. It was a
fine day. The river was alive with boats; in the distance rose the
towers and domes of the beautiful city; and the Oxford magic blew about
us in the summer wind. It seemed impossible to leave the dear Oxford
life! All the drawbacks and difficulties of the new proposal presented
themselves; hardly any of the advantages. As for me, I was convinced we
must and should refuse, and I went to sleep in that conviction.

But the mind travels far--and mysteriously--in sleep. With the first
words that my husband and I exchanged in the morning, we knew that the
die was cast and that our Oxford days were over.

The rest of the year was spent in preparation for the change; and in the
Christmas vacation of 1880-81 my husband wrote his first "leaders" for
the paper. But before that we went for a week to Dublin to stay with the
Forsters, at the Chief Secretary's Lodge.

A visit I shall never forget! It was the first of the two terrible
winters my uncle spent in Dublin as Chief Secretary, and the struggle
with the Land League was at its height. Boycotting, murder, and outrage
filled the news of every day. Owing to the refusal of the Liberal
Government to renew the Peace Preservation Act when they took office in
1880--a disastrous but perhaps intelligible mistake--the Chief
Secretary, when we reached Dublin, was facing an agrarian and political
revolt of the most determined character, with nothing but the ordinary
law, resting on juries and evidence, as his instrument--an instrument
which the Irish Land League had taken good care to shatter in his hands.
Threatening letters were flowing in upon both himself and my godmother;
and the tragedy of 1882, with the revelations as to the various murder
plots of the time, to which it led, were soon to show how terrible was
the state of the country and how real the danger in which he personally
stood. But, none the less, social life had to be carried on;
entertainments had to be given; and we went over, if I remember right,
for the two Christmas balls to be given by the Chief Secretary and the
Viceroy. On myself, fresh from the quiet Oxford life, the Irish
spectacle, seen from such a point of view, produced an overwhelming
impression. And the dancing, the visits and dinner-parties, the keeping
up of a brave social show--quite necessary and right under the
circumstances!--began to seem to me, after only twenty-four hours, like
some pageant seen under a thunder-cloud.

Mr. Forster had then little more than five years to live. He was on the
threshold of the second year of his Chief-Secretary ship. During the
first year he had faced the difficulties of the position in Ireland, and
the perpetual attacks of the Irish Members in Parliament, with a
physical nerve and power still intact. I can recall my hot sympathy with
him during 1880, while with one hand he was fighting the Land League and
with the other--a fact never sufficiently recognized--giving all the
help he could to the preparation of Mr. Gladstone's second Land Act. The
position then was hard, sometimes heartbreaking; but it was not beyond
his strength. The second year wore him out. The unlucky Protection Act--
an experiment for which the Liberal Cabinet and even its Radical
Members, Mr. Bright and Mr. Chamberlain, were every whit as chargeable
as himself--imposed a personal responsibility on him for every case out
of the many hundreds of prisoners made under the Act, which was in
itself intolerable. And while he tried in front to dam back the flood of
Irish outrage, English Radicalism at his heels was making the task
impossible. What he was doing satisfied nobody, least of all himself.
The official and land-owning classes in Ireland, the Tories in England,
raged because, in spite of the Act, outrage continued; the Radical party
in the country, which had always disliked the Protection Act, and the
Radical press, were on the lookout for every sign of failure; while the
daily struggle in the House with the Irish Members while Parliament was
sitting, in addition to all the rest, exhausted a man on whose decision
important executive acts, dealing really with a state of revolution,
were always depending. All through the second year, as it seemed to me,
he was overwhelmed by a growing sense of a monstrous and insoluble
problem, to which no one, through nearly another forty years--not Mr.
Gladstone with his Home Rule Acts, as we were soon to see, nor Mr.
Balfour's wonderful brain-power sustained by a unique temperament--was
to find the true key. It is not found yet. Twenty years of Tory
Government practically solved the Land Question and agricultural Ireland
has begun to be rich. But the past year has seen an Irish rebellion; a
Home Rule Act has at last, after thirty years, been passed, and is dead
before its birth; while at the present moment an Irish Convention is
sitting.[1] Thirty-six years have gone since my husband and I walked
with William Forster through the Phoenix Park, over the spot where, a
year later, Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke were murdered. And
still the Aeschylean "curse" goes on, from life to life, from Government
to Government. When will the Furies of the past become the "kind
goddesses" of the future--and the Irish and English peoples build them a
shrine of reconciliation?

[Footnote 1: These words were written in the winter of 1917. At the
present moment (June, 1918) we have just seen the deportation of the
Sinn Feiners, and are still expecting yet another Home Rule Bill!]

With such thoughts one looks back over the past. Amid its darkness, I
shall always see the pathetic figure of William Forster, the man of
Quaker training, at grips with murder and anarchy; the man of sensitive,
affectionate spirit, weighed down under the weight of rival appeals, now
from the side of democracy, now from the side of authority; bitterly
conscious, as an English Radical, of his breach with Radicalism; still
more keenly sensitive, as a man responsible for the executive government
of a country, in which the foundations had given way, to that atmosphere
of cruelty and wrong in which the Land League moved, and to the hideous
instances poured every day into his ears.

He bore it for more than a year after we saw him in Ireland at his
thankless work. It was our first year in London, and we were near enough
to watch closely the progress of his fight. But it was a fight not to be
won. The spring of 1882 saw his resignation--on May 2d--followed on May
6th by the Phoenix Park murders and the long and gradual disintegration
of the powerful Ministry of 1880, culminating in the Home Rule disaster
of 1886. Mr. Churchill in the _Life_ of his father, Lord Randolph, says
of Mr. Forster's resignation, "he passed out of the Ministry to become
during the rest of Parliament one of its most dangerous and vigilant
opponents." The physical change, indeed, caused by the Irish struggle,
which was for a time painfully evident to the House of Commons, seemed
to pass away with rest and travel. The famous attack he made on Parnell
in the spring of 1883, as the responsible promoter of outrage in
Ireland, showed certainly no lack of power--rather an increase. I
happened to be in the House the following day, to hear Parnell's reply.
I remember my uncle's taking me down with him to the House, and begging
a seat for me in Mrs. Brand's gallery. The figure of Parnell; the
speech, nonchalant, terse, defiant, without a single grace of any kind,
his hands in the pockets of his coat; and the tense silence of the
crowded House, remain vividly with me. Afterward my uncle came up-stairs
for me, and we descended toward Palace Yard through various side-
passages. Suddenly a door communicating with the House itself opened in
front of us, and Parnell came out. My uncle pressed my arm and we held
back, while Parnell passed by, somberly absorbed, without betraying by
the smallest movement or gesture any recognition of my uncle's identity.

In other matters--Gordon, Imperial Federation, the Chairmanship of the
Manchester Ship Canal, and the rest--William Forster showed, up till
1885, what his friends fondly hoped was the promise of renewed and
successful work. But in reality he never recovered Ireland. The mark of
those two years had gone too deep. He died in April, 1886, just before
the introduction of the Home Rule Bill, and I have always on the retina
of the inward eye the impression of a moment at the western door of
Westminster Abbey, after the funeral service. The flower-heaped coffin
had gone through. My aunt and her adopted children followed it. After
them came Mr. Gladstone, with other members of the Cabinet. At the
threshold Mr. Gladstone moved forward, and took my aunt's hand, bending
over it bareheaded. Then she went with the dead, and he turned away
toward the House of Commons. To those of us who remembered what the
relations of the dead and the living had once been, and how they had
parted, there was a peculiar pathos in the little scene.

A few days later Mr. Gladstone brought in the Home Rule Bill, and the
two stormy months followed which ended in the Liberal Unionist split and
the defeat of the Bill on June 7th by thirty votes, and were the prelude
to the twenty years of Tory Government. If William Forster had lived,
there is no doubt that he must have played a leading part in the
struggles of that and subsequent sessions. In 1888 Mr. Balfour said to
my husband, after some generous words on the part played by Forster in
those two terrible years: "Forster's loss was irreparable to us [i.e.,
to the Unionist party]. If he and Fawcett had lived, Gladstone could not
have made head."

It has been, I think, widely recognized by men of all parties in recent
years that personally William Forster bore the worst of the Irish day,
whatever men may think of his policy. But, after all, it is not for
this, primarily, that England remembers him. His monument is
everywhere--in the schools that have covered the land since 1870, when
his great Act was passed. And if I have caught a little picture from the
moment when death forestalled that imminent parting between himself and
the great leader he had so long admired and followed, which life could
only have broadened, let me match it by an earlier and happier one,
borrowed from a letter of my own, written to my father when I was
eighteen, and describing the bringing in of the Education Act.

He sat down amidst loud cheering.... _Gladstone pulled him down with
a sort of hug of delight._ It is certain that he is very much
pleased with the Bill, and, what is of great consequence, that he
thinks the Government has throughout been treated with great
consideration in it. After the debate he said to Uncle F., "Well, I
think our pair of ponies will run through together!"

Gladstone's "pony" was, of course, the Land Act of 1870.

THE END OF VOL. I

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