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

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It was in the summer of 1898 that some suggestions gathered from the
love-story of Châteaubriand and Madame de Beaumont, and jotted down on a
sheet of note-paper, led to the writing of _Eleanor_. Madame de
Beaumont's melancholy life came to an end in Rome, and the Roman setting
imposed itself, so to speak, at once. But to write in Rome itself,
played upon by all the influences of a place where the currents of life
and thought, so far as those currents are political, historical, or
artistic, seem to be running at double tides, would be, I knew,
impossible, and we began to make inquiries for a place outside Rome, yet
not too far away, where we might spend the spring. We tried to get an
apartment at Frascati, but in vain. Then some friend suggested an
apartment in the old Villa Barberini at Castel Gandolfo, well known to
many an English and French diplomat, especially to the diplomat's wife
and children, flying to the hills to escape the summer heat of Rome. We
found by correspondence two kind little ladies living in Rome, who
agreed to make all the preparations for us, find servants, and provide
against a possibly cold spring to be spent in rooms meant only for
_villegiatura_ in the summer. We were to go early in March, and fires or
stoves must be obtainable, if the weather pinched.

The little ladies did everything--engaged servants, and bargained with
the Barberini Steward, but they could not bargain with the weather! On a
certain March day when the snow lay thick on the olives, and all the
furies were wailing round the Alban hills--we arrived. My husband, who
had journeyed out with us to settle us in, and was then returning to his
London work, was inclined to mocking prophecies that I should soon be
back in Rome at a comfortable hotel. Oh, how cold it was that first
night!--how dreary on the great stone staircase, and in the bare,
comfortless rooms! We looked out over a gray storm-swept Campagna, to a
distant line of surf-beaten coast; the kitchen was fifty-two steps below
the dining-room; the Neapolitan cook seemed to us a most formidable
gentleman, suggesting stilettos, and we sat down to our first meal
wondering whether we could possibly stay it out.

But with the night (as I wrote some years ago) the snow vanished and
the sun emerged. We ran east to one balcony, and saw the light
blazing on the Alban lake, and had but to cross the apartment to
find ourselves, on the other side, with all the Campagna at our
feet, sparkling in a thousand colors to the sea. And outside was the
garden, with its lemon-trees growing in vast jars--like the jars of
Knossos--but marked with Barberini bees; its white and red camellias
be-carpeting the soft grass with their fallen petals; its dark and
tragic recesses where melancholy trees hung above piled fragments of
the great Domitian villa whose ruins lay everywhere beneath our
feet; its olive gardens sloping to the west, and open to the sun,
open, too, to white, nibbling goats, and wandering _bambini_; its
magical glimpse of St. Peter's to the north, through a notch in a
group of stone-pines; and, last and best, its marvelous terrace that
roofed a crypto-porticus of the old villa, whence the whole vast
landscape, from Ostia and the mountains of Viterbo to the Circæan
promontory, might be discerned, where one might sit and watch the
sunsets burn in scarlet and purple down through the wide west into
the shining bosom of the Tyrrhenian sea.

And in one day we had made a home out of what seemed a desert. Books had
been unpacked, flowers had been brought in, the stoves were made to
burn, the hard chairs and sofas had been twisted and turned into
something more human and sociable, and we had begun to realize that we
were, after all, singularly fortunate mortals, put in possession for
three months--at the most moderate of rents!--of as much Italian beauty,
antiquity, and romance as any covetous soul could hope for--with Rome at
our gates, and leisurely time for quiet work.

Our earliest guest was Henry James, and never did I see Henry James in a
happier light. A new light, too. For here, in this Italian country, and
in the Eternal City, the man whom I had so far mainly known as a
Londoner was far more at home than I; and I realized, perhaps more fully
than ever before, the extraordinary range of his knowledge and

Roman history and antiquities, Italian art, Renaissance sculpture, the
personalities and events of the Risorgimento, all these solid
_connaissances_ and many more, were to be recognized perpetually as rich
elements in the general wealth of Mr. James's mind. That he had read
immensely, observed immensely, talked immensely, became once more
gradually and delightfully clear on this new field. That he spoke French
to perfection was of course quickly evident to any one who had even a
slight acquaintance with him. M. Bourget once gave me a wonderful
illustration of it. He said that Mr. James was staying with himself and
Madame Bourget at their villa at Hyeres, not long after the appearance
of Kipling's "Seven Seas." M. Bourget, who by that time read and spoke
English fluently, complained of Mr. Kipling's technicalities, and
declared that he could not make head or tail of McAndrew's Hymn.
Whereupon Mr. James took up the book and, standing by the fire, fronting
his hosts, there and then put McAndrew's Hymn into vigorous idiomatic
French--an extraordinary feat, as it seemed to M. Bourget. Something
similar, it will be remembered, is told of Tennyson. "One evening," says
F. T. Palgrave of the poet, "he read out, offhand, Pindar's great
picture of the life of Heaven, in the Second Olympian, into pure modern
prose splendidly lucid and musical." Let who will decide which _tour de
force_ was the more difficult.

But Mr. James was also very much at home in Italian, while in the
literature, history, and art of both countries he moved with the
well-earned sureness of foot of the student. Yet how little one ever
thought of him as a student! That was the spell. He wore his
learning--and in certain directions he was learned--"lightly, like a
flower." It was to him not a burden to be carried, not a possession to
be proud of, but merely something that made life more thrilling, more
full of emotions and sensations--emotions and sensations which he was
always eager, without a touch of pedantry, to share with other people.
His knowledge was conveyed by suggestion, by the adroitest of hints and
indirect approaches. He was politely certain, to begin with, that you
knew it all; then to walk _with you_ round and round the subject,
turning it inside out, playing with it, making mock of it, and catching
it again with a sudden grip, or a momentary flash of eloquence, seemed
to be for the moment his business in life. How the thing emerged, after
a few minutes, from the long involved sentences!--only involved because
the impressions of a man of genius are so many, and the resources of
speech so limited. This involution, this deliberation in attack, this
slowness of approach toward a point which in the end was generally
triumphantly rushed, always seemed to me more effective as Mr. James
used it in speech than as he employed it--some of us would say, to
excess--in a few of his latest books. For, in talk, his own living
personality--his flashes of fun--of courtesy--of "chaff"--were always
there, to do away with what, in the written word, became a difficult
strain on attention.

I remember an amusing instance of it, when my daughter D----, who was
housekeeping for us at Castel Gandolfo, asked his opinion as to how to
deal with the Neapolitan cook, who had been anything but satisfactory,
in the case of a luncheon-party of friends from Rome. It was decided to
write a letter to the ex-bandit in the kitchen, at the bottom of the
fifty-two steps, requesting him to do his best, and pointing out recent
shortcomings. D----, whose Italian was then rudimentary, brought the
letter to Mr. James, and he walked up and down the vast _salone_ of the
villa, striking his forehead, correcting and improvising. "A really nice
pudding" was what we justly desired, since the Neapolitan genius for
sweets is well known. Mr. James threw out half phrases--pursued
them--improved upon them--withdrew them--till finally he rushed upon the
magnificent bathos--"_un dolce come si deve_!"--which has ever since
been the word with us for the tiptop thing.

With the country people he was simplicity and friendship itself. I
recollect him in close talk with a brown-frocked, barefooted monk,
coming from the monastery of Palazzuola on the farther side of the Alban
lake, and how the super-subtle, supersensitive cosmopolitan found not
the smallest difficulty in drawing out the peasant and getting at
something real and vital in the ruder, simpler mind. And again, on a
never-to-be-forgotten evening on the Nemi lake, when, on descending from
Genzano to the strawberry-farm that now holds the site of the famous
temple of Diana Nemorensis, we found a beautiful youth at the
_fattoria_, who for a few pence undertook to show us the fragments that
remain. Mr. James asked his name. "Aristodemo," said the boy, looking,
as he spoke the Greek name, "like to a god in form and stature." Mr.
James's face lit up, and he walked over the historic ground beside the
lad, Aristodemo picking up for him fragments of terra-cotta from the
furrows through which the plow had just passed, bits of the innumerable
small figurines that used to crowd the temple walls as ex-votos, and are
now mingled with the _fragole_ in the rich alluvial earth. It was a
wonderful evening; with a golden sun on the lake, on the wide stretches
where the temple stood, and the niched wall where Lord Savile dug for
treasure and found it; on the great ship timbers also, beside the lake,
wreckage from Caligula's galleys, which still lie buried in the deepest
depth of the water; on the rock of Nemi, and the fortress-like Orsini
villa; on the Alban Mount itself, where it cut the clear sky. I
presently came up with Mr. James and Aristodemo, who led us on serenely,
a young Hermes in the transfiguring light. One almost looked for the
winged feet and helmet of the messenger god! Mr. James paused--his eyes
first on the boy, then on the surrounding scene. "Aristodemo!" he
murmured, smiling, and more to himself than me, his voice caressing the
word. "What a name! What a place!"

On another occasion I recall him in company with the well-known
antiquary, Signer Lanciani, who came over to lunch, amusing us all by
the combination of learning with _le sport_ which he affected. Let me
quote the account of it given by a girl of the party:

Signor Lanciani is a great man who combines being _the_ top
authority in his profession with a kindness and _bonhomie_ which
make even an ignoramus feel happy with him--and with the frankest
love for _flânerie_ and "sport." We all fell in love with him. To
hear him after lunch, in his fluent, but lisping English, holding
forth about the ruins of Domitian's villa--"what treasures are still
to be found in ziz garden if somebody would only _dig_!"--and saying
with excitement--"ziz town, ziz Castello Gandolfo was built upon the
site of Alba Longa, not Palazzuola at all. _Here_, Madame, beneath
our feet, is Alba Longa"--And then suddenly--a pause, a deep sigh
from his ample breast, and a whisper on the summer air--"I
vonder--vether--von could make a golf-links around ziz garden!"

And I see still Mr. James's figure strolling along the terrace which
roofed the crypto-porticus of the Roman villa, beside the professor--the
short coat, the summer hat, the smooth-shaven, finely cut face, now
alive with talk and laughter, now shrewdly, one might say coldly,
observant; the face of a satirist--but so human!--so alive to all that
underworld of destiny through which move the weaknesses of men and
women. We were sorry indeed when he left us. But there were many other
happy meetings to come through the sixteen years that remained--meetings
at Stocks and in London; letters and talks that were landmarks in my
literary life and in our friendship. Later on I shall quote from his
_Eleanor_ letter, the best, perhaps, of all his critical letters to me,
though the _Robert Elsmere_ letters, already published, run it hard.
That, too, was followed by many more. But as I do not intend to give
more than a general outline of the years that followed on 1900, I will
record here the last time but one that I ever saw Henry James--a vision,
an impression, which the retina of memory will surely keep to the end.
It was at Grosvenor Place in the autumn of 1915, the second year of the
war. How doubly close by then he had grown to all our hearts! His
passionate sympathy for England and France, his English
naturalization--a _beau geste_ indeed, but so sincere, so moving--the
pity and wrath that carried him to sit by wounded soldiers and made him
put all literary work aside as something not worth doing, so that he
might spend time and thought on helping the American ambulance in
France--one must supply all this as the background of the scene.

It was a Sunday afternoon. Our London house had been let for a time, but
we were in it again for a few weeks, drawn into the rushing tide of
war-talk and war anxieties. The room was full when Henry James came in.
I saw that he was in a stirred, excited mood, and the key to it was soon
found. He began to repeat the conversation of an American envoy to
Berlin--a well-known man--to whom he had just been listening. He
described first the envoy's impression of the German leaders, political
and military, of Berlin. "They seemed to him like men waiting in a room
from which the air is being slowly exhausted. They _know_ they can't
win! It is only a question of how long, and how much damage they can
do." The American further reported that after his formal business had
been done with the Prussian Foreign Minister, the Prussian, relaxing his
whole attitude and offering a cigarette, said, "Now then, let me talk to
you frankly, as man to man!"--and began a bitter attack on the attitude
of President Wilson. Colonel ---- listened, and when the outburst was
done, said: "Very well! Then I, too, will speak frankly. I have known
President Wilson for many years. He is a very strong man, physically and
morally. You can neither frighten him nor bluff him--"

And then, springing up in his seat, "And, by Heaven! if you want war
with America, you can have it to-morrow!"

Mr. James's dramatic repetition of this story, his eyes on fire, his
hand striking the arm of his chair, remains with me as my last sight of
him in a typical representative moment.

Six months later, on March 6, 1916, my daughter and I were guests at the
British Headquarters in France. I was there at the suggestion of Mr.
Roosevelt and by the wish of our Foreign Office, in order to collect the
impressions and information that were afterward embodied in _England's
Effort_. We came down ready to start for the front, in a military motor,
when our kind officer escort handed us some English telegrams which had
just come in. One of them announced the death of Henry James; and all
through that wonderful day, when we watched a German counter-attack in
the Ypres salient from one of the hills southeast of Poperinghe, the
ruined tower of Ypres rising from the mists of the horizon, the news was
intermittently with me as a dull pain, breaking in upon the excitement
and novelty of the great spectacle around us.

"_A mortal, a mortal is dead_!"

I was looking over ground where every inch was consecrated to the dead
sons of England, dead for her; but even through their ghostly voices
came the voice of Henry James, who, spiritually, had fought in their
fight and suffered in their pain.

One year and a month before the American declaration of war. What he
would have given to see it--my dear old friend--whose life and genius
will enter forever into the bonds uniting England and America!

* * * * *

... He was a priest to us all
Of the wonder and bloom of the world,
Which we saw with his eyes and were glad.

For that was indeed true of Henry James as of Wordsworth. The "wonder
and bloom," no less than the ugly or heartbreaking things, which, like
the disfiguring rags of old Laertes, hide them from us--he could weave
them all, with an untiring hand, into the many-colored web of his art.
Olive Chancellor, Madame Mauve, Milly, in _The Wings of a Dove_--the
most exquisite, in some ways, of all his women--Roderick Hudson, St.
George, the woman doctor in the _Bostonians,_ the French family in the
_Reverberation_, Brooksmith--and innumerable others--it was the wealth
and facility of it all that was so amazing! There is enough observation
of character in a chapter of the _Bostonians,_ a story he thought little
of, and did not include in his collected edition, to shame a Wells novel
of the newer sort, with its floods of clever, half-considered journalism
in the guise of conversation, hiding an essential poverty of creation.
_Ann Veronica_ and the _New Machiavelli_, and several other tales by the
same writer, set practically the same scene, and handle the same
characters under different names. Of an art so false and confused Henry
James could never have been capable. His people, his situations, have
the sharp separateness--and something of the inexhaustibleness--of
nature, which does not mix her molds.

As to method, naturally I often discussed with him some of the difficult
problems of presentation. The posthumous sketches of work in progress,
published since his death, show how he delighted in these problems, in
their very difficulties, in their endless opportunities. As he often
said to me, he could never read a novel that interested him without
taking it mentally to pieces and rewriting it in his own way. Some of
his letters to me are brilliant examples of this habit of his.
Technique, presentation, were then immensely important to him; important
as they never could have been to Tolstoy, who probably thought very
little consciously about them. Mr. James, as we all know, thought a
great deal about them--sometimes, I venture to think, too much. In _The
Wings of a Dove_, for instance, a subject full of beauty and tragedy is
almost spoiled by an artificial technique, which is responsible for a
scene on which, as it seems to me, the whole illusion of the book is
shattered. The conversation in the Venice apartment where the two
fiancé's--one of whom, at least, the man, is commended to our sympathy
as a decent and probable human being--make their cynical bargain in the
very presence of the dying Milly, for whose money they are plotting, is
in some ways a _tour de force_ of construction. It is the central point
on which many threads converge and from which many depart. But to my
mind, as I have said, it invalidates the story. Mr. James is here
writing as a _virtuoso_, and not as the great artist we know him to be.
And the same, I think, is true of _The Golden Bowl._ That again is a
wonderful exercise in virtuosity; but a score of his slighter sketches
seem to me infinitely nearer to the truth and vitality of great art. The
book in which perhaps technique and life are most perfectly blended--at
any rate, among the later novels--is _The Ambassador_. There, the skill
with which a deeply interesting subject is focused from many points of
view, but always with the fascinating unity given to it, both by the
personality of the "Ambassador" and by the mystery to which every
character in the book is related, is kept in its place, the servant, not
the master, of the theme. And the climax--which is the river scene, when
the "Ambassador" penetrates at last the long-kept secret of the
lovers--is as right as it is surprising, and sinks away through
admirable modulations to the necessary close. And what beautiful things
in the course of the handling!--the old French Academician and his
garden, on the _rive gauche_, for example; or the summer afternoon on
the upper Seine, with its pleasure-boats, and the red parasol which
finally tells all--a picture drawn with the sparkle and truth of a
Daubigny, only the better to bring out the unwelcome fact which is its
center. _The Ambassador_ is the masterpiece of Mr. James's later work
and manner, just as _The Portrait of a Lady_ is the masterpiece of
the earlier.

And the whole?--his final place?--when the stars of his generation rise
into their place above the spent field? I, at least, have no doubt
whatever about his security of fame; though very possibly he may be no
more generally read in the time to come than are most of the other great
masters of literature. Personally, I regret that, from _What Maisie
Knew_ onward, he adopted the method of dictation. A mind so teeming, and
an art so flexible, were surely the better for the slight curb imposed
by the physical toil of writing. I remember how and when we first
discussed the _pros_ and _cons_ of dictation, on the fell above Cartmel
Chapel, when he was with us at Levens in 1887. He was then enchanted by
the endless vistas of work and achievement which the new method seemed
to open out. And indeed it is plain that he produced more with it than
he could have produced without it. Also, that in the use of dictation,
as in everything else, he showed himself the extraordinary craftsman
that he was, to whom all difficulty was a challenge, and the conquest of
it a delight. Still, the diffuseness and over-elaboration which were the
natural snares of his astonishing gifts were encouraged rather than
checked by the new method; and one is jealous of anything whatever that
may tend to stand between him and the unstinted pleasure of those to
come after.

But when these small cavils are done, one returns in delight and wonder
to the accomplished work. To the _wealth_ of it, above all--the deep
draughts from human life that it represents. It is true indeed that
there are large tracts of modern existence which Mr. James scarcely
touches, the peasant life, the industrial life, the small-trading life,
the political life; though it is clear that he divined them all, enough,
at least, for his purposes. But in his vast, indeterminate range of busy
or leisured folk, men and women with breeding and without it, backed
with ancestors or merely the active "sons of their works," young girls
and youths and children, he is a master indeed, and there is scarcely
anything in human feeling, normal or strange, that he cannot describe or
suggest. If he is without passion, as some are ready to declare, so are
Stendhal and Turguénieff, and half the great masters of the novel; and
if he seems sometimes to evade the tragic or rapturous moments, it is
perhaps only that he may make his reader his co-partner, that he may
evoke from us that heat of sympathy and intelligence which supplies the
necessary atmosphere for the subtler and greater kinds of art.

And all through, the dominating fact is that it is "Henry James"
speaking--Henry James, with whose delicate, ironic mind and most human
heart we are in contact. There is much that can be _learned_ in fiction;
the resources of mere imitation, which we are pleased to call realism,
are endless; we see them in scores of modern books. But at the root of
every book is the personality of the man who wrote it. And in the end,
that decides.



The spring of the following year (1900) saw us again in Rome. We spent
our April fortnight there, of which I specially remember some amusing
hours with Sir William Harcourt. I see myself, for instance, as a rather
nervous tourist in his wake and that of the very determined wife of a
young diplomat, storming the Vatican library at an hour when a bland
_custode_ assured us firmly it was _not_ open to visitors. But Sir
William's great height and bulk, aided by his pretty companion's
self-will, simply carried us through the gates by their natural
momentum. Father Ehrle was sent for and came, and we spent a triumphant
and delightful hour. After all, one is not an ex-British Cabinet
Minister for nothing. Sir William was perfectly civil to everybody, with
a blinking smile like that of the Cheshire cat; but nothing stopped him.
I laugh still at the remembrance. On the way home it was wet, and he and
I shared a _legno_. I remember we talked of Mr. Chamberlain, with whom
at that moment--May, 1899--Sir William was not in love; and of Lord
Hartington. "Hartington came to me one day when we were both serving
under Mr. G., and said to me in a temper, 'I wish I could get Gladstone
to answer letters.' 'My dear fellow, he always answers letters.' 'Well,
I have been trying to do something and I can't get a word out of him.'
'What have you been trying to do?' 'Well, to tell the truth, I've been
trying to make a bishop.' 'Have you? Not much in your line, I should
think. Now if it had been something about a horse--' 'Don't be absurd.
He would have made a very good bishop. C---- and S---- [naming two
well-known Liberals] told me I must--so I wrote--- and not a word! Very
uncivil, I call it.' 'Who was it?' 'Oh, I can't remember. Let me think.
Oh yes, it was a man with a double name--Llewellyn-Davies.' Sir William,
with a shout of laughter, 'Why, it took me five years to get him made
a Canon!'"

The following year I sent him _Eleanor_, as a reminder of our meeting in
Rome, and he wrote:

To me the revisiting of Rome is the brightest spot of the day-dreams
of life, and I treasure all its recollections. After the
disappointment of the day when we were to have seen Albano and Nemi
under your guidance, we managed the expedition, and were entranced
with the scene even beyond our hopes, and since that time I have
lived through it again in the pages of _Eleanor_, which I read with
greediness, waiting each number as it appeared.

Now about Manisty. What a fortunate beggar, to have two such
charming women in love with him! It is always so. The less a man
deserves it the more they adore him. That is the advantage you women
writers have. You always figure men as they are and women as they
ought to be. If I had the composition of the history I should never
represent two women behaving so well to one another under the
circumstances. Even American girls, according to my observation, do
not show so much toleration to their rivals, even though in the end
they carry off their man....

Your sincerely attached


Let me detach a few other figures from a gay and crowded time, the
ever-delightful and indefatigable Boni--Commendatore Boni--for instance.
To hear him talk in the Forum or hold forth at a small gathering of
friends on the problems of the earliest Italian races, and the causes
that met in the founding and growth of Rome, was to understand how no
scholar or archeologist can be quite first-rate who is not also
something of a poet. The sleepy blue eyes, so suddenly alive; the
apparently languid manner which was the natural defense against the
outer world of a man all compact of imagination and sleepless energy;
the touch in him of "the imperishable child," combined with the brooding
intensity of the explorer who is always guessing at the next riddle; the
fun, simplicity, _bonhomie_ he showed with those who knew him well--all
these are vividly present to me.

So, too, are the very different characteristics of Monseigneur Duchesne,
the French Lord Acton; like him, a Liberal, and a man of vast learning,
tarred with the Modernist brush in the eyes of the Vatican, but at heart
also like Lord Acton, by the testimony of all who know, a simple and
convinced believer.

When we met Monseigneur Duchesne at the house of Count Ugo Balzani, or
in the drawing-room of the French Embassy, all that showed, at first,
was the witty ecclesiastic of the old school, an abbe of the eighteenth
century, _fin_, shrewd, well versed in men and affairs, and capable of
throwing an infinity of meaning into the inflection of a word or the
lift of an eyebrow. I remember listening to an account by him of certain
ceremonies in the catacombs in which he had taken part, in the train of
an Ultramontane Cardinal whom he particularly disliked. He himself had
preached the sermon. A member of the party said, "I hear your audience
were greatly moved, Monsignore." Duchesne bowed, with just a touch of
irony. Then some one who knew the Cardinal well and the relation between
him and Duchesne, said, with _malice prepense_, "Was his Eminence moved,
Monsignore?" Duchesne looked up and shook off the end of his cigarette.
"_Non, Monsieur_," he said, dryly, "his Eminence was not moved--oh, not
at all!" A ripple of laughter went round the group which had heard the
question. For a second, Duchesne's eyes laughed, too, and were then as
impenetrable as before. My last remembrance of him is as the center of a
small party in one of the famous rooms of the Palazzo Borghese which
were painted by the Caracci, this time in a more serious and
communicative mood, so that one realized in him more clearly the
cosmopolitan and liberal scholar, whose work on the early Papacy, and
the origins of Christianity in Rome, is admired and used by men of all
faiths and none. Shortly afterward, a Roman friend of ours, an
Englishman who knew Monseigneur Duchesne well, described to me the
impressions of an English Catholic who had gone with him to Egypt on
some learned mission, and had been thrown for a time into relations of
intimacy with him. My friend reported the touch of astonishment in the
Englishman's mind, as he became aware of the religious passion in his
companion, the devotion of his daily mass, the rigor and simplicity of
his personal life; and we both agreed that as long as Catholicism could
produce such types, men at once so daring and so devout, so free, and
yet so penetrated with--so steeped in--the immemorial life of
Catholicism, the Roman Church was not likely to perish out of Europe.

Let me, however, contrast with Monseigneur Duchesne another Catholic
personality--that of Cardinal Vaughan. I remember being asked to join a
small group of people who were to meet Cardinal Vaughan on the steps of
St. Peter's, and to go with him, and Canon Oakley, an English convert to
Catholicism, through the famous crypt and its monuments. We stood for
some twenty minutes outside St. Peter's, while Cardinal Vaughan, in the
manner of a cicerone reeling off his task, gave us _in extenso_ the
legendary stories of St. Peter's and St. Paul's martyrdoms. Not a touch
of criticism, of knowledge, of insight--a childish tale, told by a man
who had never asked himself for a moment whether he really believed it.
I stood silently by him, inwardly comparing the performance with certain
pages by the Abbe Duchesne, which I had just been reading. Then we
descended to the crypt, the Cardinal first kneeling at the statue of St.
Peter. The crypt, as every one knows, is full of fragments from
Christian antiquity, sarcophagi of early Popes, indications of the
structures that preceded the present building, fragments from papal
tombs, and so on. But it was quite useless to ask the Cardinal for an
explanation or a date. He knew nothing, and he had never cared to know.
Again and again, I thought, as we passed some shrine or sarcophagus
bearing a name or names that sent a thrill through one's historical
sense--"If only J.R. Green were here!--how these dead bones would live!"
But the agnostic historian was in his grave, and the Prince of the Roman
Church passed ignorantly and heedlessly by.

A little while before, I had sat beside the Cardinal at a
luncheon-party, where the case of Doctor Schell, the Rector of the
Catholic University of Würzburg, who had published a book condemned by
the Congregation of the Index, came up for discussion. Doctor Schell's
book, _Catholicismus und Fortschritt_, was a plea on behalf of the
Catholic Universities of Bavaria against the Jesuit seminaries which
threatened to supplant them; and he had shown with striking clearness
the disastrous results which the gradual narrowing of Catholic education
had had on the Catholic culture of Bavaria. The Jesuit influence at Rome
had procured the condemnation of the book. Doctor Schell at first
submitted; then, just before the luncheon-party at which I was present,
withdrew his submission.

I saw the news given to the Cardinal. He shrugged his shoulders. "Oh,
poor fellow!" he said. "Poor fellow!" It was not said unkindly, rather
with a kind of easy pity; but the recollection came back to me in the
crypt of St. Peter's, and I seemed to see the man who could not shut his
ear to knowledge and history struggling in the grip of men like the
Cardinal, who knew no history.

Echoes and reflections from these incidents will be found in _Eleanor_,
and it was the case of Doctor Schell that suggested Father Benecke.

So the full weeks passed on. Half _Eleanor_ had been written, and in
June we turned homeward. But before then, one visitor came to the Villa
Barberini in our last weeks there, who brought with him, for myself, a
special and peculiar joy. My dear father, with his second wife, arrived
to spend a week with us. Never before, throughout all his ardent
Catholic life, had it been possible for him to tread the streets of Rome
or kneel in St. Peter's. At last, the year before his death, he was to
climb the Janiculum, and to look out over the city and the plain whence
Europe received her civilization and the vast system of the Catholic
Church. He felt as a Catholic; but hardly less as a scholar, one to whom
Horace and Virgil had been familiar from his boyhood, the greater
portion of them known by heart, to a degree which is not common now. I
remember well that one bright May morning at Castle Gandolfo, he
vanished from the villa, and presently, after some hours, reappeared
with shining eyes.

"I have been on the Appian Way--I have walked where Horace walked!"

In his own autobiography he writes: "In proportion to a man's good sense
and soundness of feeling are the love and admiration, increasing with
his years, which he bears toward Horace." An old-world judgment, some
will say, which to us, immersed in this deluge of war which is changing
the face of all things, may sound, perhaps, as a thin and ghostly voice
from far away. It comes from the Oxford of Newman and Matthew Arnold, of
Jowett and Clough; and for the moment, amid the thunder and anguish of
our time, it is almost strange to our ears. But when the tumult and the
shouting die, and "peace has calmed the world," whatever else may have
passed, the poets and the thinkers will be still there, safe in their
old shrines, for they are the "ageless mouths" of all mankind, when men
are truly men. The supposed reformers, who thirst for the death of
classical education, will not succeed, because man doth not live by
bread alone, and certain imperishable needs in him have never been so
fully met as by some Greeks and some Latins, writing in a vanished
society, which yet, by reason of their thought and genius, is still in
some real sense ours. More science? More foreign languages? More
technical arts? Yes! All these. But if democracy is to mean the
disappearance of the Greek and Latin poets from the minds of the future
leaders of our race, the history of three thousand years is there to
show what the impoverishment will be.

As to this, a personal experience, even from one who in Greek literature
is only a "proselyte of the gate," may not be without interest. I shall
never forget the first time, when, in middle life, I read in the Greek,
so as to understand and enjoy, the "Agamemnon" of Æschylus. The feeling
of sheer amazement at the range and power of human thought--and at such
a date in history--which a leisurely and careful reading of that play
awakened in me, left deep marks behind. It was as though for me,
thenceforward, the human intellect had been suddenly related, much more
clearly than ever before, to an absolute, ineffable source, "not
itself." So that, in realizing the greatness of the mind of Aeschylus,
the creative Mind from which it sprang had in some new and powerful way
touched my own; with both new light on the human Past, and mysterious
promise for the Future. Now, for many years, the daily reading of Greek
and Latin has been not only a pleasure, but the only continuous bit of
mental discipline I have been able to keep up.

I do not believe this will seem exaggerated to those on whom Greek
poetry and life have really worked. My father, or the Master, or Matthew
Arnold, had any amateur spoken in similar fashion to them, would have
smiled, but only as those do who are in secure possession of some
precious thing, on the eagerness of the novice who has just laid a
precarious hold upon it.

At any rate, as I look back upon my father's life of constant labor and
many baffled hopes, there are at least two bright lights upon the scene.
He had the comfort of religious faith, and the double joy of the scholar
and of the enthusiast for letters. He would not have bartered these
great things, these seeming phantoms--

Eternal as the recurrent cloud, as air
Imperative, refreshful as dawn-dew--

for any of the baser goods that we call real. A year and a half after
his visit to Rome, he died in Dublin, where he had been for years a
Fellow and Professor of the Irish University, occupied in lecturing on
English literature, and in editing some of the most important English
Chronicles for the Rolls Series. His monument, a beautiful medallion by
Mr. Derwent Wood, which recalls him to the life, hangs on the wall of
the University Church, in Stephen's Green, which was built in Newman's
time and under his superintendence. The only other monument in the
church is that to the great Cardinal himself. So once more, as in 1886,
they--the preacher and his convert--are together. "_Domine, Deus meus,
in Te speravi_." So, on my father's tablet, runs the text below the
quiet, sculptured face. It expresses the root fact of his life.

A few weeks before my father's death _Eleanor_ appeared. It had taken me
a year and a quarter to write, and I had given it full measure of work.
Henry James wrote to me, on receipt of it, that it gave him

. . . the chance to overflow into my favorite occupation of rewriting
as I read, such fiction as--I can read. I took this liberty in an
inordinate degree with Eleanor--and I always feel it the highest
tribute I can pay. I recomposed and reconstructed her from head to
foot--which I give you for the real measure of what I think of her.
I think her, less obscurely--a thing of rare beauty, a large and
noble performance, rich, complex, comprehensive, deeply interesting
and highly distinguished. I congratulate you heartily on having
_mené à bonne fin_ so intricate and difficult a problem, and on
having seen your subject so wrapped in its air and so bristling with
its relations. I should say that you had done nothing more
homogeneous, nor more hanging and moving together. It has
Beauty--the book, the theme and treatment alike, is magnificently
mature, and is really a delightful thing to have been able to do--to
have laid at the old golden door of the beloved Italy. You deserve
well of her. I can't "criticize"--though I _could_ (that is, I
_did_--but can't do it again)--rewrite. The thing's infinitely
delightful and distinguished, and that's enough. The success of it,
specifically, to my sense is Eleanor, admirably sustained in the
"high-note" way, without a break or a drop. She is a very exquisite
and very rendered conception. I won't grossly pretend to you that I
think the book hasn't a weakness and rather a grave one, or you will
doubt of my intelligence. It _has_ one, and in this way, to my
troubled sense: that the anti-thesis on which your subject rests
isn't a real, valid anti-thesis. It was utterly built, your subject,
by your intention, of course, on one; but the one you chose seems to
me not efficiently to have operated, so that if the book is so
charming and touching even so, that is a proof of your affluence.
Lucy has in respect to Eleanor--that is, the image of Lucy that you
have tried to teach yourself to see--has no true, no adequate, no
logical antithetic force--and this is not only, I think, because the
girl is done a little more _de chic_ than you would really have
liked to do her, but because the _nearer_ you had got to her type
the less she would have served that particular condition of your
subject. You went too far for her, or, going so far, should have
brought her back--roughly speaking--stronger. (Irony--and various
things!--should at its hour have presided.) But I throw out that
more imperfectly, I recognize, than I should wish. It doesn't
matter, and not a solitary reader in your millions, or critic in
your hundreds, will either have missed, or have made it! And when a
book's beautiful, nothing _does_ matter! I hope greatly to see you
after the New Year. Good night. It's my usual 1.30 A.M.

Yours, dear Mrs. Ward, always,


I could not but feel, indeed, that the book had given great pleasure to
those I might well wish to please. My old friend, Mr. Frederic Harrison,
wrote to me:--"I have read it all through with great attention and
delight, and have returned to it again and again.... I am quite sure
that it is the most finished and artistic of all your books and one of
the most subtle and graceful things in all our modern fiction." And
Charles Eliot Norton's letter from Shady Hill, the letter of one who
never praised perfunctorily or insincerely, made me glad:

"It would be easier to write about the book to any one else but
you.... You have added to the treasures of English imaginative
literature, and no higher reward than this can any writer hope to
gain." The well-known and much-loved editor of the _Century_,
Richard Watson Gilder, "on this the last Sunday of the nineteenth
century"--so he headed his letter--sat down to give a long hour of
precious time to _Eleanor's_ distant author.

How can you reconcile it to your conscience to write a book like
_Eleanor_ that keeps a poor fellow reading it to a finish till after
three in the morning? Not only that--but that keeps him sobbing and
sighing "like a furnace," that charms him and makes him angry--that
hurts and delights him, and will not let him go till all is done!
Yes, there are some things I might quarrel with--but, ah, how much
you give of Italy--of the English, of the American--three nations so
well-beloved; and how much of things deeper than peoples or

Imagine me at our New England farm--with the younger part of the
family--in my annual "retreat." Last year at this time I was here,
with the thermometer a dozen degrees below zero; now it is milder,
but cold, bleak, snowy. Yesterday we were fishing for pickerel
through the ice at Hayes's Pond--in a wilderness where fox
abound--and where bear and deer make rare appearances--all within a
few miles of Lenox and Stockbridge. The farmer's family is at one
end of the long farm-house--I am at the other. It is a great place
to read--one reads here with a sort of lonely passion. You know the
landscape--it is in _Eleanor_. Last night (or this morning) I wanted
to talk with you about your book--or telegraph--but here I am calmly
trying to thank you both for sending us the copy--and, too, for
writing it.

Of the "deeper things" I can really say nothing--except that I feel
their truth, and am grateful for them. But may I not applaud (even
the Pope is "applauded," you know) such a perfect touch as--for
instance--in Chapter XVI--"the final softening of that sweet
austerity which hid Lucy's heart of gold"; and again "Italy without
the _forestieri_" "like surprising a bird on its nest"; and the
scene beheld of Eleanor--Lucy pressing the terra-cotta to her
lips;--and Italy "having not enough faith to make a heresy"--(true,
too, of France, is it not?) and Chapter XXIII--"a base and
plundering happiness"; and the scene of the confessional; and that
sudden phrase of Eleanor's in her talk with Manisty that makes the
whole world--and the whole book--right, "_She loves you!"_ That is
art.... But, above all, my dear lady, acknowledgments and praise for
the hand that created "Lucy"--that recreated, rather--my dear
countrywoman! Truly, that is an accomplishment and one that will
endear its author to the whole new world.

And again one asks whether the readers that now are write such generous,
such encouraging things to the makers of tales, as the readers of twenty
years ago! If not, I cannot but think it is a loss. For praise is a
great tonic, and helps most people to do their best.

* * * * *

It was during our stay on the Alban hills that I first became conscious
in myself, after a good many springs spent in Italy, of a deep and
passionate sympathy for the modern Italian State and people; a sympathy
widely different from that common temper in the European traveler which
regards Italy as the European playground, picture-gallery, and
curiosity-shop, and grudges the smallest encroachment by the needs of
the new nation on the picturesque ruin of the past. Italy in 1899 was
passing through a period of humiliation and unrest. The defeats of the
luckless Erythrean expedition were still hot in Italian memory. The
extreme Catholic party at home, the sentimental Catholic tourist from
abroad, were equally contemptuous and critical; and I was often
indignantly aware of a tone which seemed to me ungenerous and unjust
toward the struggling Italian State, on the part of those who had really
most cause to be grateful for all that the youngest--and oldest--of
European Powers had done in the forty years since 1860 to furnish itself
with the necessary equipment, moral, legal, and material, of a modern

This vein of feeling finds expression in _Eleanor_. Manisty represents
the scornful dilettante, the impatient accuser of an Italy he does not
attempt to understand; while the American Lucy, on the other side draws
from her New England tradition a glowing sympathy for the Risorgimento
and its fruits, for the efforts and sacrifices from which modern Italy
arose, that refuses to be chilled by the passing corruptions and
scandals of the new _régime_. Her influence prevails and Manisty
recants. He spends six solitary weeks wandering through middle Italy, in
search of the fugitives--Eleanor and Lucy--who have escaped him--and at
the end of it he sees the old, old country and her people with new
eyes--which are Lucy's eyes.

"What rivers--what fertility--what a climate! And the industry of
the people! Catch a few English farmers and set them to do what the
Italian peasant does, year in and year out, without a murmur! Look
at all the coast south of Naples. There is not a yard of it,
scarcely, that hasn't been made by human hands. Look at the hill
towns; and think of the human toil that has gone to the making and
maintaining of them since the world began.... _Ecco!_--there they
are"--and he pointed down the river to the three or four distant
towns, each on its mountain spur, that held the valley between them
and Orvieto, pale jewels on the purple robe of rock and wood--"So
Virgil saw them. So the latest sons of time shall see them--the
homes of a race that we chatter about without understanding--the
most laborious race in the wide world.... Anyway, as I have been
going up and down their country, ... prating about their poverty,
and their taxes, their corruption, the incompetence of their
leaders, the mischief of their quarrel with the Church; I have been
finding myself caught in the grip of things older and
deeper--incredibly, primevally old!--that still dominate everything,
shape everything here. There are forces in Italy, forces of land and
soil and race--only now fully let loose--that will remake Church no
less than State, as the generations go by. Sometimes I have felt as
though this country were the youngest in Europe; with a future as
fresh and teeming as the future of America. And yet one thinks of it
at other times as one vast graveyard; so thick it is with the ashes
and the bones of men! The Pope--and Crispi!--waves, both of them, on
a sea of life that gave them birth 'with equal mind'; and that 'with
equal mind' will sweep them both to its own goal--not theirs! ...
No--there are plenty of dangers ahead.... Socialism is serious;
Sicily is serious; the economic difficulties are serious; the House
of Savoy will have a rough task, perhaps, to ride the seas that may
come.--But _Italy_ is safe. You can no more undo what has been done
than you can replace the child in the womb. The birth is over. The
organism is still weak, but it lives. And the forces behind it are,
indefinitely, mysteriously stronger than its adversaries think."

In this mood it was that, when the book came out in the autumn of 1900,
I prefixed to it the dedication--"To Italy, the beloved and beautiful,
Instructress of our past, Delight of our present, Comrade of our future,
the heart of an Englishwoman offers this book."

"_Comrade of our future_." As one looks out to-day upon the Italian
fighting-line, where English troops are interwoven with those of Italy
and France for the defense of the Lombard and Venetian plain against the
attack of Italy's old and bitter enemy, an attack in which are concerned
not only the fortunes of Italy, but those also of the British Empire, I
wonder what touch of prophecy, what whisper from a far-off day,
suggested these words written eighteen years ago?


And here, for a time at least, I bring these _Recollections_ to an
end with the century in which I was born, and my own fiftieth year.
Since _Eleanor_ appeared, and my father died, eighteen years have
gone--years for me of constant work, literary and other. On the one
hand, increasing interest in and preoccupation with politics, owing to
personal links and friendships, and a life spent, as to half the year,
in London, have been reflected in my books; and on the other, the
English rural scene, with its country houses and villages, its religion,
and its elements of change and revolution, has been always at my home
gates, as a perpetually interesting subject. Old historic situations,
also, have come to life for me again in new surroundings, as in _Lady
Rose's Daughter_, _The Marriage of William Ashe_, and _Fenwick's
Career;_ in _Richard Meynell_ I attempted the vision of a Church
of England recreated from within, with a rebel, and not--as in
_Robert Elsmere_--an exile, for a hero; _Lady Connie_ is a picture
of Oxford as I saw her in my youth, as faithful as I can now
make it; _Eltham House_ is a return to the method of _William
Ashe_, and both _Lady Connie_ and _Missing_ have been written
since the war. _Missing_ takes for its subject a fragment
from the edge of that vast upheaval which no novel of real life
in future will be able to leave out of its ken. In the first two years
of the war, the cry both of writers and public--so far as the literature
of imagination was concerned--tended to be--"anything but the war"!
There was an eager wish in both, for a time, in the first onrush of the
great catastrophe, to escape from it and the newspapers, into the world
behind it. That world looks to us now as the Elysian fields looked to
Aeneas as he approached them from the heights--full not only of souls in
a blessed calm, but of those also who had yet to make their way into
existence as it terribly _is_, had still to taste reality and pain.
We were thankful, for a time, to go back to that kind, unconscious,
unforeseeing world. But it is no longer possible. The war has become our
life, and will be so for years after the signing of peace.

As to the three main interests, outside my home life, which, as I look
back upon half a century, seem to have held sway over my
thoughts--contemporary literature, religious development, and social
experiment--one is tempted to say a few last summarizing things, though,
amid the noise of war, it is hard to say them with any real detachment
of mind.

When we came up to London in 1881, George Eliot was just dead (December,
1880); Browning and Carlyle passed away in the course of the 'eighties;
Tennyson in 1892. I saw the Tennyson funeral in the Abbey, and remember
it vividly. The burying of Mr. Gladstone was more stately; this of
Tennyson, as befitted a poet, had a more intimate beauty. A great
multitude filled the Abbey, and the rendering, in Sir Frederick Bridge's
setting, of "Crossing the Bar" by the Abbey Choir sent the "wild echoes"
of the dead man's verse flying up and on through the great arches
overhead with a dramatic effect not to be forgotten. Yet the fame of the
poet was waning when he died, and has been hotly disputed since; though,
as it seems to me, these later years have seen the partial return of an
ebbing tide. What was merely didactic in Tennyson is dead years ago; the
difficulties of faith and philosophy, with which his own mind had
wrestled, were, long before his death, swallowed up in others far more
vital, to which his various optimisms, for all the grace in which he
clothed them, had no key, or suggestion of a key, to offer. The
"Idylls," so popular in their day, and almost all, indeed, of the
narrative and dramatic work, no longer answer to the needs of a
generation that has learned from younger singers and thinkers a more
restless method, a more poignant and discontented thought. A literary
world fed on Meredith and Henry James, on Ibsen or Bernard Shaw or
Anatole France, or Synge or Yeats, rebels against the versified
argument, however musical or skilful, built up in "In Memoriam," and
makes mock of what it conceives to be the false history and weak
sentiment of the "Idylls." All this, of course, is true, and has been
said a thousand times, but--and here again the broad verdict is
emerging--it does not touch the lyrical fame of a supreme lyrical poet.
It may be that one small volume will ultimately contain all that is
really immortal in Tennyson's work. But that volume, it seems to me,
will be safe among the golden books of our literature, cherished alike
by young lovers and the "drooping old."

I only remember seeing Tennyson twice--once in a crowded drawing-room,
and once on the slopes of Blackdown, in his big cloak. The strong set
face under the wide-awake, the energy of undefeated age that breathed
from the figure, remains with me, stamped on my memory, like the gentle
face of Mrs. Wordsworth, or a passing glimpse--a gesture--of George
Meredith as we met on the threshold of Mr. Cotter Morison's house at
Hampstead, one day perhaps in 1886 or 1887, and he turned his handsome
curly head with a smile and a word when Mr. Morison introduced us. He
was then not yet sixty, already a little lame, but the radiant physical
presence scarcely marred. We had some passing talk that day, but--to my
infinite regret--that was the only time I ever saw him. Of his work and
his genius I began to be aware when "Beauchamp's Career"--a much
truncated version--was coming out in the _Fortnightly_ in 1874. I
had heard him and his work discussed in the Lincoln circle, where both
the Pattisons were quite alive to Meredith's quality; but I was at the
time and for long afterward under the spell of the French limpidity and
clarity, and the Meredithian manner repelled me. About the same time,
when I was no more than three or four and twenty, I remember a visit to
Cambridge, when we spent a week-end at the Bull Inn, and were the guests
by day of Frederic Myers, and some of his Trinity and King's friends.
Those two days of endless talk in beautiful College rooms with men like
Frederic Myers, Edmund Gurney, Mr. Gerald Balfour, Mr. George Prothero,
and others, left a deep mark on me. Cambridge seemed to me then a hearth
whereon the flame of thought burnt with far greater daring and freedom
than at Oxford. Men were not so afraid of one another; the sharp
religious divisions of Oxford were absent; ideas were thrown up like
balls in air, sure that some light hand would catch and pass them on.
And among the subjects which rose and fell in that warm electric
atmosphere, was the emergence of a new and commanding genius in George
Meredith. The place in literature that some of these brilliant men were
already giving to _Richard Feverel_, which had been published some
fifteen years earlier, struck me greatly; but if I was honest with
myself, my enthusiasm was much more qualified than theirs. It was not
till _Diana of the Crossways_ came out, after we had moved to
London, that the Meredithian power began to grip me; and to this day the
saturation with French books and French ideals that I owed to my uncle's
influence during our years at Oxford, stands somewhat between me and a
great master. And yet, in this case, as in that of Mr. James, there is
no doubt that difficulty--even obscurity!--are part of the spell. The
man behind is _great enough_, and rewards the reader's effort to
understand him with a sense of heightened power, just as a muscle is
strengthened by exercise. In other words, the effort is worth while; we
are admitted by it to a world of beauty or romance or humor that without
it we should not know; and with the thing gained goes, as in
Alpine-climbing, the pleasure of the effort itself.

Especially is this the case in poetry, where the artist's thought
fashions for itself a manner more intimate and personal than in prose.
George Meredith's poetry is still only the possession of a minority,
even among those who form the poetic audience of a generation. There are
many of us who have wanted much help, in regard to it, from others--the
young and ardent--who are the natural initiates, the "Mystae" of the
poetic world. But once let the strange and poignant magic of it, its
music in discord, its sharp sweetness, touch the inward
ear--thenceforward we shall follow its piping.

Let me record another regret for another lost opportunity. In spite of
common friends, and worlds that might have met, I never saw Robert Louis
Stevenson--the writer who more, perhaps, than any other of his
generation touched the feeling and won the affection of his time. And
that by a double spell--of the life lived and the books written.
Stevenson's hold both upon his contemporaries, and those who since his
death have had only the printed word of his letters and tales whereby to
approach him, has not been without some points of likeness--amid great
difference--to the hold of the Brontës on their day and ours. The sense
of an unsurpassable courage--against great odds--has been the same in
both cases; and a great tenderness in the public mind for work so
gallant, so defiant of ill fortune, so loyal to its own aims. In
Stevenson's case, quite apart from the claims of his work as literature,
there was also an added element which, with all their genius, the
Brontës did not possess--the element of charm, the _petit
carillon,_ to which Renan attributed his own success in literature:
undefinable, always, this last!--but supreme.[1] There is scarcely a
letter of Stevenson's that is without it, it plays about the slender
volumes of essays or of travel that we know so well; but it is present
not only in the lighter books and tales, not only in the enchanting
fairy-tale, "Prince Otto," but in his most tragic, or his most
intellectual work--in the fragment "Weir of Hermiston," or in that fine
piece of penetrating psychology and admirable narrative, _The Master
of Ballantrae_. It may, I think, be argued whether in the far future
Stevenson will be more widely and actively remembered--whether he will
enter into the daily pleasure of those who love literature--more as a
letter-writer, or more as a writer of fiction. Whether, in other words,
his own character and personality will not prove the enduring thing,
rather than the characters he created. The volumes of letters, with
their wonderful range and variety, their humor, their bravery, their
_vision_--whether of persons or scenes--already mean to some of us
more than his stories, dear to us as these are.

He died in his forty-fifth year, at the height of his power. If he had
lived ten--twenty--years longer, he might well have done work that would
have set him with Scott in the history of letters. As it is, he remains
the most graceful and appealing, the most animated and delightful,
figure in the literary history of the late nineteenth century. He is
sure of his place. "Myriad-footed Time will discover many other
inventions; but mine are mine!" And to that final award his poems no
less than his letters will richly contribute--the haunting beauty of the
"Requiem," the noble lines "To my Father," the lovely verses "In memory
of F.A.S."--surely immortal, so long as mother-hearts endure.

[Footnote 1: Greek: Ti gar chariton agapaton Anthropois apaneuthen;]

Another great name was steadily finding its place during our first
London years. Thomas Hardy had already published some of his best novels
in the 'seventies, and was in full production all through the 'eighties
and 'nineties. The first of the Hardy novels that strongly affected me
was the _Return of the Native_, and I did not read it till some
time after its publication. Although there had been a devoted and
constantly growing audience for Mr. Hardy's books for twenty years
before the publication of _Tess of the Durbervilles,_ my own
recollection is that Tess marked the conversion of the larger public,
who then began to read all the earlier books, in that curiously changed
mood which sets in when a writer is no longer on trial, but has, so to
speak, "made good."

And since that date how intimately have the scenes and characters of Mr.
Hardy's books entered into the mind and memory of his country,
compelling many persons, slowly and by degrees--I count myself among
this tardy company--to realize their truth, sincerity, and humanity, in
spite of the pessimism with which so many of them are tinged; their
beauty also, notwithstanding the clashing discords that a poet, who is
also a realist, cannot fail to strike; their permanence in English
literature; and the greatness of Mr. Hardy's genius! Personally, I would
make only one exception. I wish Mr. Hardy had not written _Jude the
Obscure!_ On the other hand, in the three volumes of _The
Dynasts_ he has given us one of the noblest, and possibly one of the
most fruitful, experiments in recent English letters.

Far more rapid was the success of Mr. Kipling, which came a decade later
than Mr. Hardy's earlier novels. It thrills one's literary pulse now to
look back to those early paper-covered treasures, written by a youth, a
boy of genius; which for the first time made India interesting to
hundreds of thousands in the Western world; which were the heralds also
of a life's work of thirty years, unfailingly rich, and still unspent!
The debt that two generations owe to Mr. Kipling is, I think, past
calculating. There is a poem of his specially dear to me--"To the True
Romance." It contains, to my thinking, the very essence and spirit of
his work. Through all realism, through all technical accomplishment,
through all the marvelous and detailed knowledge he has accumulated on
this wonderful earth, there rings the lovely Linos-song of the higher
imagination, which is the enduring salt of art. Whether it is Mowgli, or
Kim, or the Brushwood Boy, or McAndrew, or the Centurion of the Roman
Wall, or the trawlers and submarines and patrol-boats to which he lends
actual life and speech, he carries through all the great company the
flag of his lady--the flag of the "True Romance." It was Meredith's
flag, and Stevenson's and Scott's--it comes handed down in an endless
chain from the story-tellers of old Greece. For a man to have taken
undisputed place in that succession is, I think, the best and most that
literary man can do. And that it has fallen to our generation to watch
and rejoice in Rudyard Kipling's work may be counted among those gifts
of the gods which bring no Nemesis with them.

Another star--was it the one that danced when Beatrice was born?--was
rising about the same time as Rudyard Kipling's. _The Window in
Thrums_ appeared in 1889--a masterpiece to set beside the French
masterpiece, drawn likewise from peasant life, of almost the same date,
_Pêcheur d'Islande._ Barrie's gift, also, has been a gift making
for the joy of his generation; he too has carried the flag of the True
Romance--slight, twinkling, fantastic thing, compared to that of
Kipling, but consecrate to the same great service.

And then beside this group of men, who, dealing as they constantly are
with the most prosaic and intractable material, are yet poets at heart,
there appears that other group who, headed perhaps by Mr. Shaw, and
kindred in method with Thomas Hardy, are the chief gods of a younger
race, as hostile to "sentimentalism" as George Meredith, but without
either the power--or the wish--to replace it by the forces of the
poetic imagination. Mr. Shaw, whose dramatic work has been the goad, the
gadfly of a whole generation, stirring it into thought by the help of a
fascinating art, will not, I think, elect to stand upon his novels;
though his whole work has deeply affected English novel-writing. But Mr.
Wells and Mr. Arnold Bennett have been during the last ten or fifteen
years--vitally different as they are--the leaders of the New Novel--of
that fiction which at any given moment is chiefly attracting and
stimulating the men and women under forty. There is always a New Novel,
and a New Poetry, as there was once, and many times, a New Learning. The
New Novel may be Romantic, or Realist, or Argumentative. In our day it
appears to be a compound of the last two--at any rate, in the novels of
Mr. Wells.

Mr. Wells seems to me a journalist of very great powers, of unequal
education, and much crudity of mind, who has inadvertently strayed into
the literature of imagination. The earlier books were excellent
story-telling, though without any Stevensonian distinction; _Kipps_
was almost a masterpiece; _Tono-Bungay_ a piece of admirable
fooling, enriched with some real character-creation, a thing extremely
rare in Mr. Wells's books; while _Mr. Britling Sees It Through_ is
perhaps more likely to live than any other of his novels, because the
subject with which it deals comes home so closely to so vast an
audience. Mr. Britling, considered as a character, has neither life nor
joints. He, like the many other heroes from other Wells novels, whose
names one can never recollect, is Mr. Wells himself, talking this time
on a supremely interesting topic, and often talking extraordinarily
well. There are no more brilliant pages, of their kind, in modern
literature than the pages describing Mr. Britling's motor-drive on the
night of the declaration of war. They compare with the description of
the Thames in _Tono-Bungay_. These, and a few others like them,
will no doubt appear among the _morceaux choisis_ of a coming day.

But who, after a few years more, will ever want to turn the restless,
ill-written, undigested pages of _The New Machiavelli_ again--or
of half a dozen other volumes, marked often by a curious monotony both
of plot and character, and a fatal fluency of clever talk? The only
thing which can keep journalism alive--journalism, which is born of the
moment, serves the moment, and, as a rule, dies with the
moment--is--again the Stevensonian secret!--_charm_. Diderot, the
prince of journalists, is the great instance of it in literature; the
phrase "_sous le charme_" is of his own invention. But Mr. Wells
has not a particle of charm, and the reason of the difference is not far
to seek. Diderot wrote for a world of friends--"_C'est pour moi et
pour mes amis que je lis, que je réfléchis, que j'écris_"--Mr. Wells
for a world of enemies or fools, whom he wishes to instruct or show up.
_Le Neveu de Rameau_ is a masterpiece of satire; yet there is no
ill-nature in it. But the snarl is never very long absent from Mr.
Wells's work; the background of it is disagreeable. Hence its complete
lack of magic, of charm. And without some touch of these qualities, the
_à peu près_ of journalism, of that necessarily hurried and
improvised work which is the spendthrift of talent, can never become
literature, as it once did--under the golden pen of Denis Diderot.

Sainte Beuve said of Stendhal that he was an _excitateur d'idées_.
Mr. Wells no doubt deserves the phrase. As an able journalist, a
preacher of method, of foresight, and of science, he has much to say
that his own time will do well to heed. But the writer among us who has
most general affinity with Stendhal, and seems to me more likely to live
than Mr. Wells, is Mr. Arnold Bennett. Mr. Bennett's achievement in his
three principal books, the _Old Wives' Tale_, _Clayhanger_,
and _Hilda Lessways_, has the solidity and relief--the ugliness
also!--of Balzac, or of Stendhal; a detachment, moreover, and a
coolness, which Mr. Wells lacks. These qualities may well preserve them,
if "those to come" find their subject-matter sufficiently interesting.
But the _Comédie Humaine_ has a breadth and magnificence of general
conception which govern all its details, and Stendhal's work is linked
to one of the most significant periods of European history, and reflects
its teeming ideas. Mr. Bennett's work seems to many readers to be choked
by detail. But a writer of a certain quality may give us as much detail
as he pleases--witness the great Russians. Whenever Mr. Bennett
succeeds in offering us detail at once so true and so exquisite as the
detail which paints the household of Lissy-Gory in _War and Peace_,
or the visit of Dolly to Anna and Wronsky in _Anna Karénin_, or the
nursing of the dying Nicolas by Kitty and Levin, he will have justified
his method--with all its _longueurs_. Has he justified it yet?

One great writer, however, we possess who can give us any detail he
likes without tedium, because of the quality of the intelligence which
presents it. Mr. Conrad is not an Englishman by race, and he is the
master, moreover, of a vast exotic experience of strange lands and
foreign seas, where very few of his readers can follow him with any
personal knowledge. And yet we instinctively feel that in all his best
work he is none the less richly representative of what goes to make the
English mind, as compared with the French, or the German, or the Italian
mind--a mind, that is, shaped by sea-power and far-flung
responsibilities, by all the customs and traditions, written and
unwritten, which are the fruit of our special history, and our
long-descended life. It is this which gives value often to Mr. Conrad's
slightest tales, or intense significance to detail, which, without this
background, would be lifeless or dull. In it, of course, he is at one
with Mr. Kipling. Only the tone and accent are wholly different. Mr.
Conrad's extraordinary intelligence seems to stand outside his subject,
describing what he sees, as though he were crystal-gazing at figures and
scenes, at gestures and movements, magically clear and sharp. Mr.
Kipling, on the other hand, is part of--intimately one with--what he
tells us; never for a moment really outside it; though he has at command
every detail and every accessory that he needs.

Mr. Galsworthy, I hope, when this war is over, on which he has written
such vivid, such moving pages (I know! for in some of its scenes--on the
Somme battle-fields, for instance--I have stood where he has stood), has
still the harvest of his literary life before him. Since _The Country
House_ it does not seem to me that he has ever found a subject that
really suits him--and "subject is everything." But he has passion and
style, and varied equipment, whether of training or observation; above
all, an individuality it is abundantly worth while to know.

On the religious development of the last thirty years I can find but
little that is gladdening, to myself, at any rate, to say. There are
ferments going on in the Church of England which have shown themselves
in a series of books produced by Oxford and Cambridge men, each of them
representing some greater concession to modern critical and historical
knowledge than the one before it. The war, no doubt, has gripped the
hearts and stirred the minds of men, in relation to the fundamental
problems of life and destiny, as nothing else in living experience has
ever done. The religious minds among the men who are perpetually
fronting death in the battle-line seem to develop, on the one hand, a
new and individual faith of their own, and, on the other, an instinctive
criticism of the faiths hitherto offered them, which in time may lead us
far. The complaints, meanwhile, of "empty churches" and the failing hold
of the Church of England, are perhaps more persistent and more
melancholy than of old; and there is a general anxiety as to how the
loosening and vivifying action of the war will express itself
religiously when normal life begins again. The "Life and Liberty"
movement in the Anglican Church, which has sprung up since the war, is
endeavoring to rouse a new Christian enthusiasm, especially among the
young; and with the young lies the future. But the war itself has
brought us no commanding message, though all the time it may be silently
providing the "pile of gray heather" from which, when the moment comes,
the beacon-light may spring.

The greatest figure in the twenty years before the war seems to me to
have been George Tyrrell. The two volumes of his biography, with all
their absorbing interest, have not, I think, added much to the effect of
his books. _A Much-abused Letter, Lex Orandi, Scylla and
Charybdis_, and _Christianity at the Cross-Roads_ have settled
nothing. What book of real influence does? They present many
contradictions; but are thereby, perhaps, only the more living. For one
leading school of thought they go not nearly far enough; for another a
good deal too far. But they contain passages drawn straight from a
burning spiritual experience, passages also of a compelling beauty,
which can hardly fall to the ground unfruitful. Whether as Father
Tyrrell's own, or as assimilated by other minds, they belong, at least,
to the free movement of experimental and inductive thought, which, in
religion as in science, is ever the victorious movement, however
fragmentary and inconclusive it may seem at any given moment to be.
Other men--Doctor Figgis, for instance--build up shapely and plausible
systems, on given material, which, just because they are plausible and
shapely, can have very little to do with truth. It is the seekers, the
men of difficult, half-inspired speech, like T. H. Green and George
Tyrrell, through whose work there flashes at intervals the "gleam" that
lights human thought a little farther on its way.

Meanwhile, it must often seem to any one who ponders these past years,
as if what is above all wanting to our religious moment is courage and
imagination. If only Bishop Henson had stood his trial for
heresy!--there would have been a seed of new life in this lifeless day.
If only, instead of deserting the churches, the Modernists of to-day
would have the courage _to claim them!_--there again would be a
stirring of the waters. Is it not possible that Christianity, which we
have thought of as an old faith, is only now, with the falling away of
its original sheath-buds, at the beginning of its true and mightier
development? A religion of love, rooted in and verified by the simplest
experiences of each common day, possessing in the Life of Christ a
symbol and rallying cry of inexhaustible power, and drawing from its own
corporate life of service and aspiration, developed through millions of
separate lives, the only reasonable hope of immortality, and the only
convincing witness to a Divine and Righteous Will at work in the
universe;--it is under some such form that one tries to dream the
future. The chaos into which religious observance has fallen at the
present day is, surely, a real disaster. Religious services in which men
and women cannot take part, either honestly or with any spiritual gain,
are better let alone. Yet the ideal of a common worship is an infinitely
noble one. Year after year the simplest and most crying reforms in the
liturgy of the Church of England are postponed, because nobody can agree
upon them. And all the time the starving of "the hungry sheep" goes on.

But if religious ideals have not greatly profited by the war, it is
plain that in the field of social change we are on the eve of
transformations--throughout Europe--which may well rank in history with
the establishment of the Pax Romana, or the incursion of the northern
races upon the Empire; with the Renaissance, or the French Revolution.
In our case, the vast struggle, in the course of which millions of
British men and women have been forcibly shaken out of all their former
ways of life and submitted to a sterner discipline than anything they
have ever known, while, at the same time, they have been roused by mere
change of circumstance and scene to a strange new consciousness both of
themselves and the world, cannot pass away without permanently affecting
the life of the State and the relation of all its citizens to each
other. In the country districts, especially, no one of my years can
watch what is going on without a thrilling sense, as though, for us who
are nearing the last stage of life, the closed door of the future had
fallen mysteriously ajar and one caught a glimpse through it of a coming
world which no one could have dreamt of before 1914. Here, for instance,
is a clumsy, speechless laborer of thirty-five, called up under the
Derby scheme two years ago. He was first in France and is now in
Mesopotamia. On his first leave he reappears in his native village. His
family and friends scarcely know him. Always a good fellow, he has risen
immeasurably in mental and spiritual stature. For him, as for Cortez, on
the "peak in Darien," the veil has been drawn aside from wonders and
secrets of the world that, but for the war, he would have died without
even guessing at. He stands erect; his eyes are brighter and larger; his
speech is different. Here is another--a boy--a careless and troublesome
boy he used to be--who has been wounded, and has had a company officer
of whom he speaks, quietly indeed, but as he could never have spoken of
any one in the old days. He has learned to love a man of another social
world, with whom he has gone, unflinching, into a hell of fire and
torment. He has seen that other dare and die, leading his men, and has
learned that a "swell" can reckon _his_ life--his humble,
insignificant life as it used to be--as worth more than his own.

And there are thousands on whom the mere excitement of the new scenes,
the new countries, cities, and men, has acted like flame on invisible
ink, bringing out a hundred unexpected aptitudes, developing a mental
energy that surprises themselves. "On my farm," says a farmer I know, "I
have both men that have been at the front, and are allowed to come back
for agricultural purposes, and others that have never left me. They were
all much the same kind of men before the war; but now the men who have
been to the front are worth twice the others. I don't think they
_know_ that they are doing more work, and doing it better than they
used to do. It is unconscious. Simply, they are twice the men they

And in the towns, in London, where, through the Play Centers, I know
something of the London boy, how the discipline, the food, the open air,
the straining and stimulating of every power and sense that the war has
brought about, seems to be transforming and hardening the race! In the
noble and Pauline sense, I mean. These lanky, restless lads have indeed
"endured hardness."

Ah, let us take what comfort we can from these facts, for they are
facts--in face of these crowded graveyards in the battle zone, and all
the hideous wastage of war. They mean, surely, that a new heat of
intelligence, a new passion of sympathy and justice, has been roused in
our midst by this vast and terrible effort, which, when the war is over,
will burn out of itself the rotten things in our social structure, and
make reforms easy which, but for the war, might have rent us in sunder.
Employers and employed, townsman and peasant, rich and poor--in the ears
of all, the same still small voice, in the lulls of the war tempest,
seems to have been urging the same message. More life--more
opportunity--more leisure--more joy--more beauty!--for the masses of
plain men and women, who have gone so bare in the past and are now
putting forth their just and ardent claim on the future.

Let me recall a few more personal landmarks in the eighteen years that
have passed since _Eleanor_ appeared, before I close.

Midway in the course of them, 1908 was marked out for me, for whom a
yearly visit to Italy or France, and occasionally to Germany, made the
limits of possible travel, by the great event of a spring spent in the
United States and Canada. We saw nothing more in the States than every
tourist sees--New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, and a few
other towns; but the interest of every hour seemed to renew in me a
nervous energy and a capacity for enjoyment that had been flagging
before. Our week at Washington at the British Embassy with Mr. and Mrs.
Bryce, as they then were, our first acquaintance with Mr. Roosevelt,
then at the White House, and with American men of politics and affairs,
like Mr. Root, Mr. Garfield, and Mr. Bacon--set all of it in spring
sunshine, amid a sheen of white magnolias and May leaf--will always stay
with me as a time of pleasure, unmixed and unspoiled, such as one's
fairy godmother seldom provides without some medicinal drawback! And to
find the Jusserands there so entirely in their right place--he so
unchanged from the old British Museum days when we knew him first--was
one of the chief items in the delightful whole. So, too, was the
discussion of the President, first with one Ambassador and then with
another. For who could help discussing him! And what true and admiring
friends he had in both these able men who knew him through and through,
and were daily in contact with him, both as diplomats and in social

Then Philadelphia, where I lectured on behalf of the London Play
Centers; Boston, with Mrs. Fields and Sarah Orne Jewett--a pair of
friends, gentle, eager, distinguished, whom none who loved them will
forget; Cambridge, and our last sight of Charles Eliot Norton, standing
to bid us farewell on the steps of Shady Hill; Hawthorne's house at
Concord; and the lovely shore of Newport. The wonderful new scenes
unrolled themselves day by day; kind faces and welcoming voices were
always round us, and it was indeed hard to tear ourselves away.

But at the end of April we went north to Canada for yet another chapter
of quickened life. A week at Montreal, first with Sir William van Horne,
then Ottawa, and a week with Lord and Lady Grey; and finally the
never-to-be-forgotten experience of three weeks in the "Saskatchewan,"
Sir William's car on the Canadian Pacific Railway, which took us first
from Toronto to Vancouver, and then from Vancouver to Quebec. So in a
swallow's flight from sea to sea I saw the marvelous land wherein,
perhaps, in a far hidden future, lies the destiny of our race.

Of all this--of the historic figures of Sir William van Home, of beloved
Lord Grey, of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and Sir Robert Borden, as they were
ten years ago, there would be much to say. But my present task is done.

Nor is there any room here for those experiences of the war, and of the
actual fighting front, to which I have already given utterance in
_England's Effort_ and _Towards the Goal._ Some day, perhaps,
if these _Recollections_ find an audience, and when peace has
loosened our tongues and abolished that very necessary person, the
Censor, there will be something more to be written. But now, at any
rate, I lay down my pen. For a while these _Recollections_, during
the hours I have been at work on them, have swept me out of the shadow
of the vast and tragic struggle in which we live, into days long past on
which there is still sunlight--though it be a ghostly sunlight; and
above them the sky of normal life. But the dream and the illusion are
done. The shadow descends again, and the evening paper comes in,
bringing yet another mad speech of a guilty Emperor to desecrate yet
another Christmas Eve.

The heart of the world is set on peace. But for us, the Allies, in whose
hands lies the infant hope of the future, it must be a peace worthy of
our dead and of their sacrifice. "Let us gird up the loins of our minds.
In due time we shall reap, if we faint not."

And meanwhile across the western ocean America, through these winter
days, sends incessantly the long procession of her men and ships to the
help of the Old World and an undying cause. Silently they come, for
there are powers of evil lying in wait for them. But "still they come."
The air thickens, as it were with the sense of an ever-gathering host.
On this side, and on that, it is the Army of Freedom, and of Judgment.

_Christmas Eve, 1917._


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