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Tracks of a Rolling Stone by Henry J. Coke

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Tracks of a Rolling Stone by Henry J. Coke
Scanned and proofed by David Price
Second proofing by Margaret Price

Tracks of a Rolling Stone


THE First Edition of this book was written, from beginning to
end, in the short space of five months, without the aid of
diary or notes, beyond those cited as such from a former

The Author, having no expectation that his reminiscences
would be received with the kind indulgence of which this
Second Edition is the proof, with diffidence ventured to tell
so many tales connected with his own unimportant life as he
has done. Emboldened by the reception his 'Tracks' have met
with, he now adds a few stories which he trusts may further
amuse its readers.

June 1905.


WE know more of the early days of the Pyramids or of ancient
Babylon than we do of our own. The Stone age, the dragons of
the prime, are not more remote from us than is our earliest
childhood. It is not so long ago for any of us; and yet, our
memories of it are but veiled spectres wandering in the mazes
of some foregone existence.

Are we really trailing clouds of glory from afar? Or are our
'forgettings' of the outer Eden only? Or, setting poetry
aside, are they perhaps the quickening germs of all past
heredity - an epitome of our race and its descent? At any
rate THEN, if ever, our lives are such stuff as dreams are
made of. There is no connected story of events, thoughts,
acts, or feelings. We try in vain to re-collect; but the
secrets of the grave are not more inviolable, - for the
beginnings, like the endings, of life are lost in darkness.

It is very difficult to affix a date to any relic of that dim
past. We may have a distinct remembrance of some pleasure,
some pain, some fright, some accident, but the vivid does not
help us to chronicle with accuracy. A year or two makes a
vast difference in our ability. We can remember well enough
when we donned the 'CAUDA VIRILIS,' but not when we left off

The first remembrance to which I can correctly tack a date is
the death of George IV. I was between three and four years
old. My recollection of the fact is perfectly distinct -
distinct by its association with other facts, then far more
weighty to me than the death of a king.

I was watching with rapture, for the first time, the spinning
of a peg-top by one of the grooms in the stable yard, when
the coachman, who had just driven my mother home, announced
the historic news. In a few minutes four or five servants -
maids and men - came running to the stables to learn
particulars, and the peg-top, to my sorrow, had to be
abandoned for gossip and flirtation. We were a long way from
street criers - indeed, quite out of town. My father's house
was in Kensington, a little further west than the present
museum. It was completely surrounded by fields and hedges.
I mention the fact merely to show to what age definite memory
can be authentically assigned. Doubtless we have much
earlier remembrances, though we must reckon these by days, or
by months at the outside. The relativity of the reckoning
would seem to make Time indeed a 'Form of Thought.'

Two or three reminiscences of my childhood have stuck to me;
some of them on account of their comicality. I was taken to
a children's ball at St. James's Palace. In my mind's eye I
have but one distinct vision of it. I cannot see the crowd -
there was nothing to distinguish that from what I have so
often seen since; nor the court dresses, nor the soldiers
even, who always attract a child's attention in the streets;
but I see a raised dais on which were two thrones. William
IV. sat on one, Queen Adelaide on the other. I cannot say
whether we were marched past in turn, or how I came there.
But I remember the look of the king in his naval uniform. I
remember his white kerseymere breeches, and pink silk
stockings, and buckled shoes. He took me between his knees,
and asked, 'Well, what are you going to be, my little man?'

'A sailor,' said I, with brazen simplicity.

'Going to avenge the death of Nelson - eh? Fond o' sugar-

'Ye-es,' said I, taking a mental inventory of stars and
anchor buttons.

Upon this, he fetched from the depths of his waistcoat pocket
a capacious gold box, and opened it with a tap, as though he
were about to offer me a pinch of snuff. 'There's for you,'
said he.

I helped myself, unawed by the situation, and with my small
fist clutching the bonbons, was passed on to Queen Adelaide.
She gave me a kiss, for form's sake, I thought; and I
scuttled back to my mother.

But here followed the shocking part of the ENFANT TERRIBLE'S
adventure. Not quite sure of Her Majesty's identity - I had
never heard there was a Queen - I naively asked my mother, in
a very audible stage-whisper, 'Who is the old lady with - ?'
My mother dragged me off the instant she had made her
curtsey. She had a quick sense of humour; and, judging from
her laughter, when she told her story to another lady in the
supper room, I fancied I had said or done something very
funny. I was rather disconcerted at being seriously
admonished, and told I must never again comment upon the
breath of ladies who condescended to kiss, or to speak to,

While we lived at Kensington, Lord Anglesey used often to pay
my mother a visit. She had told me the story of the battle
of Waterloo, in which my Uncle George - 6th Lord Albemarle -
had taken part; and related how Lord Anglesey had lost a leg
there, and how one of his legs was made of cork. Lord
Anglesey was a great dandy. The cut of the Paget hat was an
heirloom for the next generation or two, and the gallant
Marquis' boots and tightly-strapped trousers were patterns of
polish and precision. The limp was perceptible; but of which
leg, was, in spite of careful investigation, beyond my
diagnosis. His presence provoked my curiosity, till one fine
day it became too strong for resistance. While he was busily
engaged in conversation with my mother, I, watching for the
chance, sidled up to his chair, and as soon as he looked
away, rammed my heel on to his toes. They were his toes.
And considering the jump and the oath which instantly
responded to my test, I am persuaded they were abnormally
tender ones. They might have been made of corns, certainly
not of cork.

Another discovery I made about this period was, for me at
least, a 'record': it happened at Quidenham - my grandfather
the 4th Lord Albemarle's place.

Some excursion was afoot, which needed an early breakfast.
When this was half over, one married couple were missing. My
grandfather called me to him (I was playing with another
small boy in one of the window bays). 'Go and tell Lady
Maria, with my love,' said he, 'that we shall start in half
an hour. Stop, stop a minute. Be sure you knock at the
door.' I obeyed orders - I knocked at the door, but failed
to wait for an answer. I entered without it. And what did I
behold? Lady Maria was still in bed; and by the side of Lady
M. was, very naturally, Lady M.'s husband, also in bed and
fast asleep. At first I could hardly believe my senses. It
was within the range of my experience that boys of my age
occasionally slept in the same bed. But that a grown up man
should sleep in the same bed with his wife was quite beyond
my notion of the fitness of things. I was so staggered, so
long in taking in this astounding novelty, that I could not
at first deliver my grandfathers message. The moment I had
done so, I rushed back to the breakfast room, and in a loud
voice proclaimed to the company what I had seen. My tale
produced all the effect I had anticipated, but mainly in the
shape of amusement. One wag - my uncle Henry Keppel - asked
for details, gravely declaring he could hardly credit my
statement. Every one, however, seemed convinced by the
circumstantial nature of my evidence when I positively
asserted that their heads were not even at opposite ends of
the bed, but side by side upon the same pillow.

A still greater soldier than Lord Anglesey used to come to
Holkham every year, a great favourite of my father's; this
was Lord Lynedoch. My earliest recollections of him owe
their vividness to three accidents - in the logical sense of
the term: his silky milk-white locks, his Spanish servant
who wore earrings - and whom, by the way, I used to confound
with Courvoisier, often there at the same time with his
master Lord William Russell, for the murder of whom he was
hanged, as all the world knows - and his fox terrier Nettle,
which, as a special favour, I was allowed to feed with
Abernethy biscuits.

He was at Longford, my present home, on a visit to my father
in 1835, when, one evening after dinner, the two old
gentlemen - no one else being present but myself - sitting in
armchairs over the fire, finishing their bottle of port, Lord
Lynedoch told the wonderful story of his adventures during
the siege of Mantua by the French, in 1796. For brevity's
sake, it were better perhaps to give the outline in the words
of Alison. 'It was high time the Imperialists should advance
to the relief of this fortress, which was now reduced to the
last extremity from want of provisions. At a council of war
held in the end of December, it was decided that it was
indispensable that instant intelligence should be sent to
Alvinzi of their desperate situation. An English officer,
attached to the garrison, volunteered to perform the perilous
mission, which he executed with equal courage and success.
He set out, disguised as a peasant, from Mantua on December
29, at nightfall in the midst of a deep fall of snow, eluded
the vigilance of the French patrols, and, after surmounting a
thousand hardships and dangers, arrived at the headquarters
of Alvinzi, at Bassano, on January 4, the day after the
conferences at Vicenza were broken up.

'Great destinies awaited this enterprising officer. He was
Colonel Graham, afterwards victor at Barrosa, and the first
British general who planted the English standard on the soil
of France.'

This bare skeleton of the event was endued 'with sense and
soul' by the narrator. The 'hardships and dangers' thrilled
one's young nerves. Their two salient features were ice
perils, and the no less imminent one of being captured and
shot as a spy. The crossing of the rivers stands out
prominently in my recollection. All the bridges were of
course guarded, and he had two at least within the enemy's
lines to get over - those of the Mincio and of the Adige.
Probably the lagunes surrounding the invested fortress would
be his worst difficulty. The Adige he described as beset
with a two-fold risk - the avoidance of the bridges, which
courted suspicion, and the thin ice and only partially frozen
river, which had to be traversed in the dark. The vigour,
the zest with which the wiry veteran 'shoulder'd his crutch
and show'd how fields were won' was not a thing to be

Lord Lynedoch lived to a great age, and it was from his house
at Cardington, in Bedfordshire, that my brother Leicester
married his first wife, Miss Whitbread, in 1843. That was
the last time I saw him.

Perhaps the following is not out of place here, although it
is connected with more serious thoughts:

Though neither my father nor my mother were more pious than
their neighbours, we children were brought up religiously.
From infancy we were taught to repeat night and morning the
Lord's Prayer, and invoke blessings on our parents. It was
instilled into us by constant repetition that God did not
love naughty children - our naughtiness being for the most
part the original sin of disobedience, rooted in the love of
forbidden fruit in all its forms of allurement. Moses
himself could not have believed more faithfully in the direct
and immediate intervention of an avenging God. The pain in
one's stomach incident to unripe gooseberries, no less than
the consequent black dose, or the personal chastisement of a
responsible and apprehensive nurse, were but the just
visitations of an offended Deity.

Whether my religious proclivities were more pronounced than
those of other children I cannot say, but certainly, as a
child, I was in the habit of appealing to Omnipotence to
gratify every ardent desire.

There were peacocks in the pleasure grounds at Holkham, and I
had an aesthetic love for their gorgeous plumes. As I hunted
under and amongst the shrubs, I secretly prayed that my
search might be rewarded. Nor had I a doubt, when
successful, that my prayer had been granted by a beneficent

Let no one smile at this infantine credulity, for is it not
the basis of that religious trust which helps so many of us
to support the sorrows to which our stoicism is unequal? Who
that might be tempted thoughtlessly to laugh at the child
does not sometimes sustain the hope of finding his 'plumes'
by appeals akin to those of his childhood? Which of us could
not quote a hundred instances of such a soothing delusion -
if delusion it be? I speak not of saints, but of sinners:
of the countless hosts who aspire to this world's happiness;
of the dying who would live, of the suffering who would die,
of the poor who would be rich, of the aggrieved who seek
vengeance, of the ugly who would be beautiful, of the old who
would appear young, of the guilty who would not be found out,
and of the lover who would possess. Ah! the lover. Here
possibility is a negligible element. Consequences are of no
consequence. Passion must be served. When could a miracle
be more pertinent?

It is just fifty years ago now; it was during the Indian
Mutiny. A lady friend of mine did me the honour to make me
her confidant. She paid the same compliment to many - most
of her friends; and the friends (as is their wont) confided
in one another. Poor thing! her case was a sad one. Whose
case is not? She was, by her own account, in the forty-
second year of her virginity; and it may be added,
parenthetically, an honest fourteen stone in weight.

She was in love with a hero of Lucknow. It cannot be said
that she knew him only by his well-earned fame. She had seen
him, had even sat by him at dinner. He was young, he was
handsome. It was love at sight, accentuated by much
meditation - 'obsessions [peradventure] des images
genetiques.' She told me (and her other confidants, of
course) that she prayed day and night that this distinguished
officer, this handsome officer, might return her passion.
And her letters to me (and to other confidants) invariably
ended with the entreaty that I (and her other, &c.) would
offer up a similar prayer on her behalf. Alas! poor soul,
poor body! I should say, the distinguished officer, together
with the invoked Providence, remained equally insensible to
her supplications. The lady rests in peace. The soldier,
though a veteran, still exults in war.

But why do I cite this single instance? Are there not
millions of such entreaties addressed to Heaven on this, and
on every day? What difference is there, in spirit, between
them and the child's prayer for his feather? Is there
anything great or small in the eye of Omniscience? Or is it
not our thinking only that makes it so?


SOON after I was seven years old, I went to what was then,
and is still, one of the most favoured of preparatory schools
- Temple Grove - at East Sheen, then kept by Dr. Pinkney. I
was taken thither from Holkham by a great friend of my
father's, General Sir Ronald Ferguson, whose statue now
adorns one of the niches in the facade of Wellington College.
The school contained about 120 boys; but I cannot name any
one of the lot who afterwards achieved distinction. There
were three Macaulays there, nephews of the historian - Aulay,
Kenneth, and Hector. But I have lost sight of all.

Temple Grove was a typical private school of that period.
The type is familiar to everyone in its photograph as
Dotheboys Hall. The progress of the last century in many
directions is great indeed; but in few is it greater than in
the comfort and the cleanliness of our modern schools. The
luxury enjoyed by the present boy is a constant source of
astonishment to us grandfathers. We were half starved, we
were exceedingly dirty, we were systematically bullied, and
we were flogged and caned as though the master's pleasure was
in inverse ratio to ours. The inscription on the threshold
should have been 'Cave canem.'

We began our day as at Dotheboys Hall with two large
spoonfuls of sulphur and treacle. After an hour's lessons we
breakfasted on one bowl of milk - 'Skyblue' we called it -
and one hunch of buttered bread, unbuttered at discretion.
Our dinner began with pudding - generally rice - to save the
butcher's bill. Then mutton - which was quite capable of
taking care of itself. Our only other meal was a basin of
'Skyblue' and bread as before.

As to cleanliness, I never had a bath, never bathed (at the
school) during the two years I was there. On Saturday
nights, before bed, our feet were washed by the housemaids,
in tubs round which half a dozen of us sat at a time. Woe to
the last comers! for the water was never changed. How we
survived the food, or rather the want of it, is a marvel.
Fortunately for me, I used to discover, when I got into bed,
a thickly buttered crust under my pillow. I believed, I
never quite made sure, (for the act was not admissible), that
my good fairy was a fiery-haired lassie (we called her
'Carrots,' though I had my doubts as to this being her
Christian name) who hailed from Norfolk. I see her now: her
jolly, round, shining face, her extensive mouth, her ample
person. I recall, with more pleasure than I then endured,
the cordial hugs she surreptitiously bestowed upon me when we
met by accident in the passages. Kind, affectionate
'Carrots'! Thy heart was as bounteous as thy bosom. May the
tenderness of both have met with their earthly deserts; and
mayest thou have shared to the full the pleasures thou wast
ever ready to impart!

There were no railways in those times. It amuses me to see
people nowadays travelling by coach, for pleasure. How many
lives must have been shortened by long winter journeys in
those horrible coaches. The inside passengers were hardly
better off than the outside. The corpulent and heavy
occupied the scanty space allotted to the weak and small -
crushed them, slept on them, snored over them, and
monopolised the straw which was supposed to keep their feet

A pachydermatous old lady would insist upon an open window.
A wheezy consumptive invalid would insist on a closed one.
Everybody's legs were in their own, and in every other
body's, way. So that when the distance was great and time
precious, people avoided coaching, and remained where they

For this reason, if a short holiday was given - less than a
week say - Norfolk was too far off; and I was not permitted
to spend it at Holkham. I generally went to Charles Fox's at
Addison Road, or to Holland House. Lord Holland was a great
friend of my father's; but, if Creevey is to be trusted -
which, as a rule, my recollection of him would permit me to
doubt, though perhaps not in this instance - Lord Holland did
not go to Holkham because of my father's dislike to Lady

I speak here of my introduction to Holland House, for
although Lady Holland was then in the zenith of her
ascendency, (it was she who was the Cabinet Minister, not her
too amiable husband,) although Holland House was then the
resort of all the potentates of Whig statecraft, and Whig
literature, and Whig wit, in the persons of Lord Grey,
Brougham, Jeffrey, Macaulay, Sydney Smith, and others, it was
not till eight or ten years later that I knew, when I met
them there, who and what her Ladyship's brilliant satellites
were. I shall not return to Lady Holland, so I will say a
parting word of her forthwith.

The woman who corresponded with Buonaparte, and consoled the
prisoner of St. Helena with black currant jam, was no
ordinary personage. Most people, I fancy, were afraid of
her. Her stature, her voice, her beard, were obtrusive marks
of her masculine attributes. It is questionable whether her
amity or her enmity was most to be dreaded. She liked those
best whom she could most easily tyrannise over. Those in the
other category might possibly keep aloof. For my part I
feared her patronage. I remember when I was about seventeen
- a self-conscious hobbledehoy - Mr. Ellice took me to one of
her large receptions. She received her guests from a sort of
elevated dais. When I came up - very shy - to make my
salute, she asked me how old I was. 'Seventeen,' was the
answer. 'That means next birthday,' she grunted. 'Come and
give me a kiss, my dear.' I, a man! - a man whose voice was
(sometimes) as gruff as hers! - a man who was beginning to
shave for a moustache! Oh! the indignity of it!

But it was not Lady Holland, or her court, that concerned me
in my school days, it was Holland Park, or the extensive
grounds about Charles Fox's house (there were no other houses
at Addison Road then), that I loved to roam in. It was the
birds'-nesting; it was the golden carp I used to fish for on
the sly with a pin; the shying at the swans, the hunt for
cockchafers, the freedom of mischief generally, and the
excellent food - which I was so much in need of - that made
the holiday delightful.

Some years later, when dining at Holland House, I happened to
sit near the hostess. It was a large dinner party. Lord
Holland, in his bath-chair (he nearly always had the gout),
sat at the far end of the table a long way off. But my lady
kept an eye on him, for she had caught him drinking
champagne. She beckoned to the groom of the chambers, who
stood behind her; and in a gruff and angry voice shouted:
'Go to my Lord. Take away his wine, and tell him if he
drinks any more you have my orders to wheel him into the next
room.' If this was a joke it was certainly a practical one.
And yet affection was behind it. There's a tender place in
every heart.

Like all despots, she was subject to fits of cowardice -
especially, it was said, with regard to a future state, which
she professed to disbelieve in. Mr. Ellice told me that
once, in some country house, while a fearful storm was
raging, and the claps of thunder made the windows rattle,
Lady Holland was so terrified that she changed dresses with
her maid, and hid herself in the cellar. Whether the story
be a calumny or not, it is at least characteristic.

After all, it was mainly due to her that Holland House became
the focus of all that was brilliant in Europe. In the
memoirs of her father - Sydney Smith - Mrs. Austin writes:
'The world has rarely seen, and will rarely, if ever, see
again all that was to be found within the walls of Holland
House. Genius and merit, in whatever rank of life, became a
passport there; and all that was choicest and rarest in
Europe seemed attracted to that spot as their natural soil.'

Did we learn much at Temple Grove? Let others answer for
themselves. Acquaintance with the classics was the staple of
a liberal education in those times. Temple Grove was the
ATRIUM to Eton, and gerund-grinding was its RAISON D'ETRE.
Before I was nine years old I daresay I could repeat -
parrot, that is - several hundreds of lines of the AEneid.
This, and some elementary arithmetic, geography, and drawing,
which last I took to kindly, were dearly paid for by many
tears, and by temporarily impaired health. It was due to my
pallid cheeks that I was removed. It was due to the
following six months - summer months - of a happy life that
my health was completely restored.


MR. EDWARD ELLICE, who constantly figures in the memoirs of
the last century as 'Bear Ellice' (an outrageous misnomer, by
the way), and who later on married my mother, was the chief
controller of my youthful destiny. His first wife was a
sister of the Lord Grey of Reform Bill fame, in whose
Government he filled the office of War Minister. In many
respects Mr. Ellice was a notable man. He possessed shrewd
intelligence, much force of character, and an autocratic
spirit - to which he owed his sobriquet. His kindness of
heart, his powers of conversation, with striking personality
and ample wealth, combined to make him popular. His house in
Arlington Street, and his shooting lodge at Glen Quoich, were
famous for the number of eminent men who were his frequent

Mr. Ellice's position as a minister, and his habitual
residence in Paris, had brought him in touch with the leading
statesmen of France. He was intimately acquainted with Louis
Philippe, with Talleyrand, with Guizot, with Thiers, and most
of the French men and French women whose names were bruited
in the early part of the nineteenth century.

When I was taken from Temple Grove, I was placed, by the
advice and arrangement of Mr. Ellice, under the charge of a
French family, which had fallen into decay - through the
change of dynasty. The Marquis de Coubrier had been Master
of the Horse to Charles X. His widow - an old lady between
seventy and eighty - with three maiden daughters, all
advanced in years, lived upon the remnant of their estates in
a small village called Larue, close to Bourg-la-Reine, which,
it may be remembered, was occupied by the Prussians during
the siege of Paris. There was a chateau, the former seat of
the family; and, adjoining it, in the same grounds, a pretty
and commodious cottage. The first was let as a country house
to some wealthy Parisians; the cottage was occupied by the
Marquise and her three daughters.

The personal appearances of each of these four elderly
ladies, their distinct idiosyncrasies, and their former high
position as members of a now moribund nobility, left a
lasting impression on my memory. One might expect, perhaps,
from such a prelude, to find in the old Marquise traces of
stately demeanour, or a regretted superiority. Nothing of
the kind. She herself was a short, square-built woman, with
large head and strong features, framed in a mob cap, with a
broad frill which flopped over her tortoise-shell spectacles.
She wore a black bombazine gown, and list slippers. When in
the garden, where she was always busy in the summer-time, she
put on wooden sabots over her slippers.

Despite this homely exterior, she herself was a 'lady' in
every sense of the word. Her manner was dignified and
courteous to everyone. To her daughters and to myself she
was gentle and affectionate. Her voice was sympathetic,
almost musical. I never saw her temper ruffled. I never
heard her allude to her antecedents.

The daughters were as unlike their mother as they were to one
another. Adele, the eldest, was very stout, with a profusion
of grey ringlets. She spoke English fluently. I gathered,
from her mysterious nods and tosses of the head, (to be sure,
her head wagged a little of its own accord, the ringlets too,
like lambs' tails,) that she had had an AFFAIRE DE COEUR with
an Englishman, and that the perfidious islander had removed
from the Continent with her misplaced affections. She was a
trifle bitter, I thought - for I applied her insinuations to
myself - against Englishmen generally. But, though cynical
in theory, she was perfectly amiable in practice. She
superintended the menage and spent the rest of her life in
making paper flowers. I should hardly have known they were
flowers, never having seen their prototypes in nature. She
assured me, however, that they were beautiful copies -
undoubtedly she believed them to be so.

Henriette, the youngest, had been the beauty of the family.
This I had to take her own word for, since here again there
was much room for imagination and faith. She was a confirmed
invalid, and, poor thing! showed every symptom of it. She
rarely left her room except for meals; and although it was
summer when I was there, she never moved without her
chauffrette. She seemed to live for the sake of patent
medicines and her chauffrette; she was always swallowing the
one, and feeding the other.

The middle daughter was Aglae. Mademoiselle Aglae took
charge - I may say, possession - of me. She was tall, gaunt,
and bony, with a sharp aquiline nose, pomegranate cheek-
bones, and large saffron teeth ever much in evidence. Her
speciality, as I soon discovered, was sentiment. Like her
sisters, she had had her 'affaires' in the plural. A Greek
prince, so far as I could make out, was the last of her
adorers. But I sometimes got into scrapes by mixing up the
Greek prince with a Polish count, and then confounding either
one or both with a Hungarian pianoforte player.

Without formulating my deductions, I came instinctively to
the conclusion that 'En fait d'amour,' as Figaro puts it,
'trop n'est pas meme assez.' From Miss Aglae's point of view
a lover was a lover. As to the superiority of one over
another, this was - nay, is - purely subjective. 'We receive
but what we give.' And, from what Mademoiselle then told me,
I cannot but infer that she had given without stint.

Be that as it may, nothing could be more kind than her care
of me. She tucked me up at night, and used to send for me in
the morning before she rose, to partake of her CAFE-AU-LAIT.
In return for her indulgences, I would 'make eyes' such as I
had seen Auguste, the young man-servant, cast at Rose the
cook. I would present her with little scraps which I copied
in roundhand from a volume of French poems. Once I drew, and
coloured with red ink, two hearts pierced with an arrow, a
copious pool of red ink beneath, emblematic of both the
quality and quantity of my passion. This work of art
produced so deep a sigh that I abstained thenceforth from
repeating such sanguinary endearments.

Not the least interesting part of the family was the
servants. I say 'family,' for a French family, unlike an
English one, includes its domestics; wherein our neighbours
have the advantage over us. In the British establishment the
household is but too often thought of and treated as
furniture. I was as fond of Rose the cook and maid-of-all-
work as I was of anyone in the house. She showed me how to
peel potatoes, break eggs, and make POT-AU-FEU. She made me
little delicacies in pastry - swans with split almonds for
wings, comic little pigs with cloves in their eyes - for all
of which my affection and my liver duly acknowledged receipt
in full. She taught me more provincial pronunciation and bad
grammar than ever I could unlearn. She was very intelligent,
and radiant with good humour. One peculiarity especially
took my fancy - the yellow bandana in which she enveloped her
head. I was always wondering whether she was born without
hair - there was none to be seen. This puzzled me so that
one day I consulted Auguste, who was my chief companion. He
was quite indignant, and declared with warmth that Mam'selle
Rose had the most beautiful hair he had ever beheld. He
flushed even with enthusiasm. If it hadn't been for his
manner, I should have asked him how he knew. But somehow I
felt the subject was a delicate one.

How incessantly they worked, Auguste and Rose, and how
cheerfully they worked! One could hear her singing, and him
whistling, at it all day. Yet they seemed to have abundant
leisure to exchange a deal of pleasantry and harmless banter.
Auguste was a Swiss, and a bigoted Protestant, and never lost
an opportunity of holding forth on the superiority of the
reformed religion. If he thought the family were out of
hearing, he would grow very animated and declamatory. But
Rose, who also had hopes, though perhaps faint, for my
salvation, would suddenly rush into the room with the carpet
broom, and drive him out, with threats of Miss Aglae, and the

The gardener, Monsieur Benoit, was also a great favourite of
mine, and I of his, for I was never tired of listening to his
wonderful adventures. He had, so he informed me, been a
soldier in the GRANDE ARMEE. He enthralled me with hair-
raising accounts of his exploits: how, when leading a
storming party - he was always the leader - one dark and
terrible night, the vivid and incessant lightning betrayed
them by the flashing of their bayonets; and how in a few
minutes they were mowed down by MITRAILLE. He had led
forlorn hopes, and performed deeds of astounding prowess.
How many Life-guardsmen he had annihilated: 'Ah! ben oui!'
he was afraid to say. He had been personally noticed by 'Le
p'tit caporal.' There were many, whose deeds were not to
compare with his, who had been made princes and mareschals.
PARBLEU! but his luck was bad. 'Pas d'chance! pas d'chance!
Mo'sieu Henri.' As Monsieur Benoit recorded his feats, and
witnessed my unbounded admiration, his voice would grow more
and more sepulchral, till it dropped to a hoarse and scarcely
audible whisper.

I was a little bewildered one day when, having breathlessly
repeated some of his heroic deeds to the Marquise, she with a
quiet smile assured me that 'ce petit bon-homme,' as she
called him, had for a short time been a drummer in the
National Guard, but had never been a soldier. This was a
blow to me; moreover, I was troubled by the composure of the
Marquise. Monsieur Benoit had actually been telling me what
was not true. Was it, then, possible that grown-up people
acquired the privilege of fibbing with impunity? I wondered
whether this right would eventually become mine!

At Bourg-la-Reine there is, or was, a large school. Three
days in the week I had to join one of the classes there; on
the other three one of the ushers came up to Larue for a
couple of hours of private tuition. At the school itself I
did not learn very much, except that boys everywhere are
pretty similar, especially in the badness of their manners.
I also learnt that shrugging the shoulders while exhibiting
the palms of the hands, and smiting oneself vehemently on the
chest, are indispensable elements of the French idiom. The
indiscriminate use of the word 'parfaitement' I also noticed
to be essential when at a loss for either language or ideas,
and have made valuable use of it ever since.

Monsieur Vincent, my tutor, was a most good-natured and
patient teacher. I incline, however, to think that I taught
him more English than he taught me French. He certainly
worked hard at his lessons. He read English aloud to me, and
made me correct his pronunciation. The mental agony this
caused me makes me hot to think of still. I had never heard
his kind of Franco-English before. To my ignorance it was
the most comic language in the world. There were some words
which, in spite of my endeavours, he persisted in pronouncing
in his own way. I have since got quite used to the most of
them, and their only effect is to remind me of my own rash
ventures in a foreign tongue. There are one or two words
which recall the pain it gave me to control my emotions. He
would produce his penknife, for instance; and, contemplating
it with a despondent air, would declare it to be the most
difficult word in the English language to pronounce. 'Ow you
say 'im?' 'Penknife,' I explained. He would bid me write it
down; then having spelt it, he would, with much effort, and a
sound like sneezing - oh! the pain I endured! - slowly repeat
'Penkneef.' I gave it up at last; and he was gratified with
his success. As my explosion generally occurred about five
minutes afterwards, Monsieur Vincent failed to connect cause
and effect. When we parted he gave me a neatly bound copy of
La Bruyere as a prize - for his own proficiency, I presume.
Many a pleasant half-hour have I since spent with the witty

Except the controversial harangues of the zealot Auguste, my
religious teaching was neglected on week days. On Sundays,
if fine, I was taken to a Protestant church in Paris; not
infrequently to the Embassy. I did not enjoy this at all. I
could have done very well without it. I liked the drive,
which took about an hour each way. Occasionally Aglae and I
went in the Bourg-la-Reine coucou. But Mr. Ellice had
arranged that a carriage should be hired for me. Probably he
was not unmindful of the convenience of the old ladies. They
were not. The carriage was always filled. Even Mademoiselle
Henriette managed to go sometimes - aided by a little patent
medicine, and when it was too hot for the chauffrette. If
she was unable, a friend in the neighbourhood was offered a
seat; and I had to sit bodkin, or on Mademoiselle Aglae's
lap. I hated the 'friend'; for, secretly, I felt the
carriage was mine, though of course I never had the bad taste
to say so.

They went to Mass, and I was allowed to go with them, in
addition to my church, as a special favour. I liked the
music, the display of candles, the smell of the incense, and
the dresses of the priests; and wondered whether when
undressed - unrobed, that is - they were funny old gentlemen
like Monsieur le Cure at Larue, and took such a prodigious
quantity of snuff up their noses and under their finger-
nails. The ladies did a good deal of shopping, and we
finished off at the Flower Market by the Madeleine, where I,
through the agency of Mademoiselle Aglae, bought plants for
'Maman.' This gave 'Maman' UN PLAISIR INOUI, and me too; for
the dear old lady always presented me with a stick of barley-
sugar in return. As I never possessed a sou (Miss Aglae kept
account of all my expenses and disbursements) I was strongly
in favour of buying plants for 'Maman.'

I loved the garden. It was such a beautiful garden; so
beautifully kept by Monsieur Benoit, and withered old Mere
Michele, who did the weeding and helped Rose once a week in
the laundry. There were such pretty trellises, covered with
roses and clematis; such masses of bright flowers and sweet
mignonette; such tidy gravel walks and clipped box edges;
such floods of sunshine; so many butterflies and lizards
basking in it; the birds singing with excess of joy. I used
to fancy they sang in gratitude to the dear old Marquise, who
never forgot them in the winter snows.

What a quaint but charming picture she was amidst this
quietude, - she who had lived through the Reign of Terror:
her mob cap, garden apron, and big gloves; a trowel in one
hand, a watering-pot in the other; potting and unpotting; so
busy, seemingly so happy. She loved to have me with her, and
let me do the watering. What a pleasure that was! The
scores of little jets from the perforated rose, the gushing
sound, the freshness and the sparkle, the gratitude of the
plants, to say nothing of one's own wet legs. 'Maman' did
not approve of my watering my own legs. But if the watering-
pot was too big for me how could I help it? By and by a
small one painted red within and green outside was discovered
in Bourg-la-Reine, and I was happy ever afterwards.

Much of my time was spent with the children and nurses of the
family which occupied the chateau. The costume of the head
nurse with her high Normandy cap (would that I had a female
pen for details) invariably suggested to me that she would
make any English showman's fortune, if he could only exhibit
her stuffed. At the cottage they called her 'La Grosse
Normande.' Not knowing her by any other name, I always so
addressed her. She was not very quick-witted, but I think
she a little resented my familiarity, and retaliated by
comparisons between her compatriots and mine, always in a
tone derogatory to the latter. She informed me as a matter
of history, patent to all nurses, that the English race were
notoriously bow-legged; and that this was due to the vicious
practice of allowing children to use their legs before the
gristle had become bone. Being of an inquiring turn of mind,
I listened with awe to this physiological revelation, and
with chastened and depressed spirits made a mental note of
our national calamity. Privately I fancied that the mottled
and spasmodic legs of Achille - whom she carried in her arms
- or at least so much of the infant Pelides' legs as were not
enveloped in a napkin, gave every promise of refuting her

One of my amusements was to set brick traps for small birds.
At Holkham in the winter time, by baiting with a few grains
of corn, I and my brothers used, in this way, to capture
robins, hedge-sparrows, and tits. Not far from the chateau
was a large osier bed, resorted to by flocks of the common
sparrow. Here I set my traps. But it being summer time, and
(as I complained when twitted with want of success) French
birds being too stupid to know what the traps were for, I
never caught a feather. Now this osier bed was a favourite
game covert for the sportsmen of the chateau; and what was my
delight and astonishment when one morning I found a dead hare
with its head under the fallen brick of my trap. How
triumphantly I dragged it home, and showed it to Rose and
Auguste, - who more than the rest had 'mocked themselves' of
my traps, and then carried it in my arms, all bloody as it
was (I could not make out how both its hind legs were broken)
into the salon to show it to the old Marquise. Mademoiselle
Henriette, who was there, gave a little scream (for effect)
at sight of the blood. Everybody was pleased. But when I
overheard Rose's SOTTO VOCE to the Marquise: 'Comme ils sont
gentils!' I indignantly retorted that 'it wasn't kind of the
hare at all: it was entirely due to my skill in setting the
traps. They would catch anything that put its head into
them. Just you try.'

How severe are the shocks of early disillusionment! It was
not until long after the hare was skinned, roasted, served as
CIVET and as PUREE that I discovered the truth. I was not at
all grateful to the gentlemen of the chateau whose dupe I had
been; was even wrath with my dear old 'Maman' for treating
them with extra courtesy for their kindness to her PETIT

That was a happy summer. After it was ended, and it was time
for me to return to England and begin my education for the
Navy I never again set eyes on Larue, or that charming nest
of old ladies who had done their utmost to spoil me. Many
and many a time have I been to Paris, but nothing could tempt
me to visit Larue. So it is with me. Often have I
questioned the truth of the NESSUN MAGGIOR DOLORE than the
memory of happy times in the midst of sorry ones. The
thought of happiness, it would seem, should surely make us
happier, and yet - not of happiness for ever lost. And are
not the deepening shades of our declining sun deepened by
youth's contrast? Whatever our sweetest songs may tell us
of, we are the sadder for our sweetest memories. The grass
can never be as green again to eyes grown watery. The lambs
that skipped when we did were long since served as mutton.
And if

Die Fusse tragen mich so muthig nicht empor
Die hohen Stufen die ich kindisch ubersprang,

why, I will take the fact for granted. My youth is fled, my
friends are dead. The daisies and the snows whiten by turns
the grave of him or her - the dearest I have loved. Shall I
make a pilgrimage to that sepulchre? Drop futile tears upon
it? Will they warm what is no more? I for one have not the
heart for that. Happily life has something else for us to
do. Happily 'tis best to do it.


THE passage from the romantic to the realistic, from the
chimerical to the actual, from the child's poetic
interpretation of life to life's practical version of itself,
is too gradual to be noticed while the process is going on.
It is only in the retrospect we see the change. There is
still, for yet another stage, the same and even greater
receptivity, - delight in new experiences, in gratified
curiosity, in sensuous enjoyment, in the exercise of growing
faculties. But the belief in the impossible and the bliss of
ignorance are seen, when looking back, to have assumed almost
abruptly a cruder state of maturer dulness. Between the
public schoolboy and the child there is an essential
difference; and this in a boy's case is largely due, I fancy,
to the diminished influence of woman, and the increased
influence of men.

With me, certainly, the rough usage I was ere long to undergo
materially modified my view of things in general. In 1838,
when I was eleven years old, my uncle, Henry Keppel, the
future Admiral of the Fleet, but then a dashing young
commander, took me (as he mentions in his Autobiography) to
the Naval Academy at Gosport. The very afternoon of my
admittance - as an illustration of the above remarks - I had
three fights with three different boys. After that the 'new
boy' was left to his own devices, - QUA 'new boy,' that is;
as an ordinary small boy, I had my share. I have spoken of
the starvation at Dr. Pinkney's; here it was the terrible
bullying that left its impress on me - literally its mark,
for I still bear the scar upon my hand.

Most boys, I presume, know the toy called a whirligig, made
by stringing a button on a loop of thread, the twisting and
untwisting of which by approaching and separating the hands
causes the button to revolve. Upon this design, and by
substituting a jagged disk of slate for the button, the
senior 'Bull-dogs' (we were all called 'Burney's bull-dogs')
constructed a very simple instrument of torture. One big boy
spun the whirligig, while another held the small boy's palm
till the sharp slate-edge gashed it. The wound was severe.
For many years a long white cicatrice recorded the fact in my
right hand. The ordeal was, I fancy, unique - a prerogative
of the naval 'bull-dogs.' The other torture was, in those
days, not unknown to public schools. It was to hold a boy's
back and breech as near to a hot fire as his clothes would
bear without burning. I have an indistinct recollection of a
boy at one of our largest public schools being thus exposed,
and left tied to chairs while his companions were at church.
When church was over the boy was found - roasted.

By the advice of a chum I submitted to the scorching without
a howl, and thus obtained immunity, and admission to the
roasting guild for the future. What, however, served me
best, in all matters of this kind, was that as soon as I was
twelve years old my name was entered on the books of the
'Britannia,' then flag-ship in Portsmouth Harbour, and though
I remained at the Academy, I always wore the uniform of a
volunteer of the first class, now called a naval cadet. The
uniform was respected, and the wearer shared the benefit.

During the winter of 1839-40 I joined H.M.S. 'Blonde,' a 46-
gun frigate commanded by Captain Bouchier, afterwards Sir
Thomas, whose portrait is now in the National Portrait
Gallery. He had seen much service, and had been flag-captain
to Nelson's Hardy. In the middle of that winter we sailed
for China, where troubles had arisen anent the opium trade.

What would the cadet of the present day think of the
treatment we small boys had to put up with sixty or seventy
years ago? Promotion depended almost entirely on interest.
The service was entered at twelve or thirteen. After two
years at sea, if the boy passed his examination, he mounted
the white patch, and became a midshipman. At the end of four
years more he had to pass a double examination, - one for
seamanship before a board of captains, and another for
navigation at the Naval College. He then became a master's
mate, and had to serve for three years as such before he was
eligible for promotion to a lieutenancy. Unless an officer
had family interest he often stuck there, and as often had to
serve under one more favoured, who was not born when he
himself was getting stale.

Naturally enough these old hands were jealous of the
fortunate youngsters, and, unless exceptionally amiable,
would show them little mercy.

We left Portsmouth in December 1839. It was bitter winter.
The day we sailed, such was the severity of the gale and
snowstorm, that we had to put back and anchor at St. Helens
in the Isle of Wight. The next night we were at sea. It
happened to be my middle watch. I had to turn out of my
hammock at twelve to walk the deck till four in the morning.
Walk! I could not stand. Blinded with snow, drenched by the
seas, frozen with cold, home sick and sea sick beyond
description, my opinion of the Royal Navy - as a profession -
was, in the course of these four hours, seriously subverted.
Long before the watch ended. I was reeling about more asleep
than awake; every now and then brought to my senses by
breaking my shins against the carronade slides; or, if I sat
down upon one of them to rest, by a playful whack with a
rope's end from one of the crusty old mates aforesaid, who
perhaps anticipated in my poor little personality the
arrogance of a possible commanding officer. Oh! those cruel
night watches! But the hard training must have been a useful
tonic too. One got accustomed to it by degrees; and hence,
indifferent to exposure, to bad food, to kicks and cuffs, to
calls of duty, to subordination, and to all that constitutes

Luckily for me, the midshipman of my watch, Jack Johnson, was
a trump, and a smart officer to boot. He was six years older
than I, and, though thoroughly good-natured, was formidable
enough from his strength and determination to have his will
respected. He became my patron and protector. Rightly, or
wrongly I am afraid, he always took my part, made excuses for
me to the officer of our watch if I were caught napping under
the half-deck, or otherwise neglecting my duty. Sometimes he
would even take the blame for this upon himself, and give me
a 'wigging' in private, which was my severest punishment. He
taught me the ropes, and explained the elements of
seamanship. If it was very cold at night he would make me
wear his own comforter, and, in short, took care of me in
every possible way. Poor Jack! I never had a better friend;
and I loved him then, God knows. He was one of those whose
advancement depended on himself. I doubt whether he would
ever have been promoted but for an accident which I shall
speak of presently.

When we got into warm latitudes we were taught not only to
knot and splice, but to take in and set the mizzen royal.
There were four of us boys, and in all weathers at last we
were practised aloft until we were as active and as smart as
any of the ship's lads, even in dirty weather or in sudden

We had a capital naval instructor for lessons in navigation,
and the quartermaster of the watch taught us how to handle
the wheel and con.

These quartermasters - there was one to each of the three
watches - were picked men who had been captains of tops or
boatswains' mates. They were much older than any of the
crew. Our three in the 'Blonde' had all seen service in the
French and Spanish wars. One, a tall, handsome old fellow,
had been a smuggler; and many a fight with, or narrow escape
from, the coast-guard he had to tell of. The other two had
been badly wounded. Old Jimmy Bartlett of my watch had a
hole in his chest half an inch deep from a boarding pike. He
had also lost a finger, and a bullet had passed through his
cheek. One of his fights was in the 'Amethyst' frigate when,
under Sir Michael Seymour, she captured the 'Niemen' in 1809.
Often in the calm tropical nights, when the helm could take
care of itself almost, he would spin me a yarn about hot
actions, cutting-outs, press-gangings, and perils which he
had gone through, or - what was all one to me - had invented.

From England to China round the Cape was a long voyage before
there was a steamer in the Navy. It is impossible to
describe the charm of one's first acquaintance with tropical
vegetation after the tedious monotony unbroken by any event
but an occasional flogging or a man overboard. The islands
seemed afloat in an atmosphere of blue; their jungles rooting
in the water's edge. The strange birds in the daytime, the
flocks of parrots, the din of every kind of life, the flying
foxes at night, the fragrant and spicy odours, captivate the
senses. How delicious, too, the fresh fruits brought off by
the Malays in their scooped-out logs, one's first taste of
bananas, juicy shaddocks, mangoes, and custard apples - after
months of salt junk, disgusting salt pork, and biscuit all
dust and weevils. The water is so crystal-clear it seems as
though one could lay one's hands on strange coloured fish and
coral beds at any depth. This, indeed, was 'kissing the lips
of unexpected change.' It was a first kiss moreover. The
tropics now have ceased to remind me even of this spell of
novelty and wonder.


THE first time I 'smelt powder' was at Amoy. The 'Blonde'
carried out Lord Palmerston's letter to the Chinese
Government. Never was there a more iniquitous war than
England then provoked with China to force upon her the opium
trade with India in spite of the harm which the Chinese
authorities believed that opium did to their people.

Even Macaulay advocated this shameful imposition. China had
to submit, and pay into the bargain four and a half millions
sterling to prove themselves in the wrong. Part of this went
as prize money. My share of it - the DOUCEUR for a middy's
participation in the crime - was exactly 100L.

To return to Amoy. When off the mouth of the Canton river we
had taken on board an interpreter named Thom. What our
instructions were I know not; I can only tell what happened.
Our entry into Amoy harbour caused an immediate commotion on
land. As soon as we dropped anchor, about half a mile from
the shore, a number of troops, with eight or ten field-
pieces, took up their position on the beach, evidently
resolved to prevent our landing. We hoisted a flag of truce,
at the same time cleared the decks for action, and dropped a
kedge astern so as to moor the ship broadside to the forts
and invested shore. The officer of my watch, the late Sir
Frederick Nicholson, together with the interpreter, were
ordered to land and communicate with the chief mandarin. To
carry out this as inoffensively as possible, Nicholson took
the jolly-boat, manned by four lads only. As it was my
watch, I had charge of the boat. A napkin or towel served
for a flag of truce. But long before we reached the shore,
several mandarins came down to the water's edge waving their
swords and shouting angrily to warn us off. Mr. Thom, who
understood what they said, was frightened out of his wits,
assuring us we should all be sawed in half if we attempted to
land. Sir Frederick was not the man to disobey orders even
on such a penalty; he, however, took the precaution - a very
wise one as it happened - to reverse the boat, and back her
in stern foremost.

No sooner did the keel grate on the shingle than a score of
soldiers rushed down to seize us. Before they could do so we
had shoved off. The shore was very steep. In a moment we
were in deep water, and our lads pulling for dear life. Then
came a storm of bullets from matchlocks and jingals and the
bigger guns, fortunately just too high to hit us. One bullet
only struck the back-board, but did no harm. What, however,
seemed a greater danger was the fire from the ship. Ere we
were halfway back broadside after broadside was fired over
our heads into the poor devils massed along the beach. This
was kept up until not a living Chinaman was to be seen.

I may mention here a curious instance of cowardice. One of
our men, a ship's painter, soon after the firing began and
was returned by the fort's guns, which in truth were quite
harmless, jumped overboard and drowned himself. I have seen
men's courage tried under fire, and in many other ways since;
yet I have never known but one case similar to this, when a
friend of my own, a rich and prosperous man, shot himself to
avoid death! So that there are men like 'Monsieur
Grenouille, qui se cachait dans l'eau pour eviter la pluie.'
Often have I seen timid and nervous men, who were thought to
be cowards, get so excited in action that their timidity has
turned to rashness. In truth 'on est souvent ferme par
faiblesse, et audacieux par timidite.'

Partly for this reason, and partly because I look upon it as
a remnant of our predatory antecedents and of animal
pugnacity, I have no extravagant admiration for mere
combativeness or physical courage. Honoured and rewarded as
one of the noblest of manly attributes, it is one of the
commonest of qualities, - one which there is not a mammal, a
bird, a fish, or an insect even, that does not share with us.
Such is the esteem in which it is held, such the ignominy
which punishes the want of it, that the most cautious and the
most timid by nature will rather face the uncertain risks of
a fight than the certain infamy of imputed cowardice.

Is it likely that courage should be rare under such
circumstances, especially amongst professional fighters, who
in England at least have chosen their trade? That there are
poltroons, and plenty of them, amongst our soldiers and
sailors, I do not dispute. But with the fear of shame on one
hand, the hope of reward on the other, the merest dastard
will fight like a wild beast, when his blood is up. The
extraordinary merit of his conduct is not so obvious to the
peaceful thinker. I speak not of such heroism as that of the
Japanese, - their deeds will henceforth be bracketed with
those of Leonidas and his three hundred, who died for a like
cause. With the Japanese, as it was with the Spartans, every
man is a patriot; nor is the proportionate force of their
barbaric invaders altogether dissimilar.

Is then the Victoria Cross an error? To say so would be an
outrage in this age of militarism. And what would all the
Queens of Beauty think, from Sir Wilfred Ivanhoe's days to
ours, if mighty warriors ceased to poke each other in the
ribs, and send one another's souls untimely to the 'viewless
shades,' for the sake of their 'doux yeux?' Ah! who knows
how many a mutilation, how many a life, has been the price of
that requital? Ye gentle creatures who swoon at the sight of
blood, is it not the hero who lets most of it that finds most
favour in your eyes? Possibly it may be to the heroes of
moral courage that some distant age will award its choicest
decorations. As it is, the courage that seeks the rewards of
Fame seems to me about on a par with the virtue that invests
in Heaven.

Though an anachronism as regards this stage of my career, I
cannot resist a little episode which pleasantly illustrates
moral courage, or chivalry at least, combined with physical

In December, 1899, I was a passenger on board a Norddeutscher
Lloyd on my way to Ceylon. The steamer was crowded with
Germans; there were comparatively few English. Things had
been going very badly with us in the Transvaal, and the
telegrams both at Port Said and at Suez supplemented the
previous ill-news. At the latter place we heard of the
catastrophe at Magersfontein, of poor Wauchope's death, and
of the disaster to the Highland Light Infantry. The moment
it became known the Germans threw their caps into the air,
and yelled as if it were they who had defeated us.

Amongst the steerage passengers was a Major - in the English
army - returning from leave to rejoin his regiment at
Colombo. If one might judge by his choice of a second-class
fare, and by his much worn apparel, he was what one would
call a professional soldier. He was a tall, powerfully-
built, handsome man, with a weather-beaten determined face,
and keen eye. I was so taken with his looks that I often
went to the fore part of the ship on the chance of getting a
word with him. But he was either shy or proud, certainly
reserved; and always addressed me as 'Sir,' which was not

That same evening, after dinner in the steerage cabin, a
German got up and, beginning with some offensive allusions to
the British army, proposed the health of General Cronje and
the heroic Boers. This was received with deafening 'Hochs.'
To cap the enthusiasm up jumped another German, and proposed
'ungluck - bad luck to all Englanders and to their Queen.'
This also was cordially toasted. When the ceremony was ended
and silence restored, my reserved friend calmly rose, tapped
the table with the handle of his knife (another steerage
passenger - an Australian - told me what happened), took his
watch from his pocket, and slowly said: 'It is just six
minutes to eight. If the person who proposed the last toast
has not made a satisfactory apology to me before the hand of
my watch points to the hour, I will thrash him till he does.
I am an officer in the English army, and always keep my
word.' A small band of Australians was in the cabin. One
and all of them applauded this laconic speech. It was
probably due in part to these that the offender did not wait
till the six minutes had expired.

Next day I congratulated my reserved friend. He was reticent
as usual. All I could get out of him was, 'I never allow a
lady to be insulted in my presence, sir.' It was his Queen,
not his cloth, that had roused the virility in this quiet

Let us turn to another aspect of the deeds of war. About
daylight on the morning following our bombardment, it being
my morning watch, I was ordered to take the surgeon and
assistant surgeon ashore. There were many corpses, but no
living or wounded to be seen. One object only dwells
visually in my memory.

At least a quarter of a mile from the dead soldiers, a stray
shell had killed a grey-bearded old man and a young woman.
They were side by side. The woman was still in her teens and
pretty. She lay upon her back. Blood was oozing from her
side. A swarm of flies were buzzing in and out of her open
mouth. Her little deformed feet, cased in the high-heeled
and embroidered tiny shoes, extended far beyond her
petticoats. It was these feet that interested the men of
science. They are now, I believe, in a jar of spirits at
Haslar hospital. At least, my friend the assistant surgeon
told me, as we returned to the ship, that that was their
ultimate destination. The mutilated body, as I turned from
it with sickening horror, left a picture on my youthful mind
not easily to be effaced.

After this we joined the rest of the squadron: the
'Melville' (a three-decker, Sir W. Parker's flagship), the
'Blenheim,' the 'Druid,' the 'Calliope,' and several 18-gun
brigs. We took Hong Kong, Chusan, Ningpo, Canton, and
returned to take Amoy. One or two incidents only in the
several engagements seem worth recording.

We have all of us supped full with horrors this last year or
so, and I have no thought of adding to the surfeit. But
sometimes common accidents appear exceptional, if they befall
ourselves, or those with whom we are intimate. If the
sufferer has any special identity, we speculate on his
peculiar way of bearing his misfortune; and are thus led on
to place ourselves in his position, and imagine ourselves the

Major Daniel, the senior marine officer of the 'Blonde,' was
a reserved and taciturn man. He was quiet and gentlemanlike,
always very neat in his dress; rather severe, still kind to
his men. His aloofness was in no wise due to lack of ideas,
nor, I should say, to pride - unless, perhaps, it were the
pride which some men feel in suppressing all emotion by
habitual restraint of manner. Whether his SANGFROID was
constitutional, or that nobler kind of courage which feels
and masters timidity and the sense of danger, none could
tell. Certain it is he was as calm and self-possessed in
action as in repose. He was so courteous one fancied he
would almost have apologised to his foe before he
remorselessly ran him through.

On our second visit to Amoy, a year or more after the first,
we met with a warmer reception. The place was much more
strongly fortified, and the ship was several-times hulled.
We were at very close quarters, as it is necessary to pass
under high ground as the harbour is entered. Those who had
the option, excepting our gallant old captain, naturally kept
under shelter of the bulwarks and hammock nettings. Not so
Major Daniel. He stood in the open gangway watching the
effect of the shells, as though he were looking at a game of
billiards. While thus occupied a round shot struck him full
in the face, and simply left him headless.

Another accident, partly due to an ignorance of dynamics,
happened at the taking of Canton. The whole of the naval
brigade was commanded by Sir Thomas Bouchier. Our men were
lying under the ridge of a hill protected from the guns on
the city walls. Fully exposed to the fire, which was pretty
hot, 'old Tommy' as we called him, paced to and fro with
contemptuous indifference, stopping occasionally to spy the
enemy with his long ship's telescope. A number of
bluejackets, in reserve, were stationed about half a mile
further off at the bottom of the protecting hill. They were
completely screened from the fire by some buildings of the
suburbs abutting upon the slope. Those in front were
watching the cannon-balls which had struck the crest and were
rolling as it were by mere force of gravitation down the
hillside. Some jokes were made about football, when suddenly
a smart and popular young officer - Fox, first lieutenant of
one of the brigs - jumped out at one of these spent balls,
which looked as though it might have been picked up by the
hands, and gave it a kick. It took his foot off just above
the ankle. There was no surgeon at hand, and he was bleeding
to death before one could be found. Sir Thomas had come down
the hill, and seeing the wounded officer on the ground with a
group around him, said in passing, 'Well, Fox, this is a bad
job, but it will make up the pair of epaulets, which is

'Yes sir,' said the dying man feebly, 'but without a pair of
legs.' Half an hour later he was dead.

I have spoken lightly of courage, as if, by implication, I
myself possessed it. Let me make a confession. From my soul
I pity the man who is or has been such a miserable coward as
I was in my infancy, and up to this youthful period of my
life. No fear of bullets or bayonets could ever equal mine.
It was the fear of ghosts. As a child, I think that at times
when shut up for punishment, in a dark cellar for instance, I
must have nearly gone out of my mind with this appalling

Once when we were lying just below Whampo, the captain took
nearly every officer and nearly the whole ship's crew on a
punitive expedition up the Canton river. They were away
about a week. I was left behind, dangerously ill with fever
and ague. In his absence, Sir Thomas had had me put into his
cabin, where I lay quite alone day and night, seeing hardly
anyone save the surgeon and the captain's steward, who was
himself a shadow, pretty nigh. Never shall I forget my
mental sufferings at night. In vain may one attempt to
describe what one then goes through; only the victims know
what that is. My ghost - the ghost of the Whampo Reach - the
ghost of those sultry and miasmal nights, had no shape, no
vaporous form; it was nothing but a presence, a vague
amorphous dread. It may have floated with the swollen and
putrid corpses which hourly came bobbing down the stream, but
it never appeared; for there was nothing to appear. Still it
might appear. I expected every instant through the night to
see it in some inconceivable form. I expected it to touch
me. It neither stalked upon the deck, nor hovered in the
dark, nor moved, nor rested anywhere. And yet it was there
about me, - where, I knew not. On every side I was
threatened. I feared it most behind the head of my cot,
because I could not see it if it were so.

This, it will be said, is the description of a nightmare.
Exactly so. My agony of fright was a nightmare; but a
nightmare when every sense was strained with wakefulness,
when all the powers of imagination were concentrated to
paralyse my shattered reason.

The experience here spoken of is so common in some form or
other that we may well pause to consider it. What is the
meaning of this fear of ghosts? - how do we come by it? It
may be thought that its cradle is our own, that we are
purposely frightened in early childhood to keep us calm and
quiet. But I do not believe that nurses' stories would
excite dread of the unknown if the unknown were not already
known. The susceptibility to this particular terror is there
before the terror is created. A little reflection will
convince us that we must look far deeper for the solution of
a mystery inseparable from another, which is of the last
importance to all of us.


THE belief in phantoms, ghosts, or spirits, has frequently
been discussed in connection with speculations on the origin
of religion. According to Mr. Spencer ('Principles of
Sociology') 'the first traceable conception of a supernatural
being is the conception of a ghost.' Even Fetichism is 'an
extension of the ghost theory.' The soul of the Fetich 'in
common with supernatural agents at large, is originally the
double of a dead man.' How do we get this notion - 'the
double of a dead man?' Through dreams. In the Old Testament
we are told: 'God came to' Abimelech, Laban, Solomon, and
others 'in a dream'; also that 'the angel of the Lord'
appeared to Joseph 'in a dream.' That is to say, these men
dreamed that God came to them. So the savage, who dreams of
his dead acquaintance, believes he has been visited by the
dead man's spirit. This belief in ghosts is confirmed, Mr.
Spencer argues, by other phenomena. The savage who faints
from the effect of a wound sustained in fight looks just like
the dead man beside him. The spirit of the wounded man
returns after a long or short period of absence: why should
the spirit of the other not do likewise? If reanimation
follows comatose states, why should it not follow death?
Insensibility is but an affair of time. All the modes of
preserving the dead, in the remotest ages, evince the belief
in casual separation of body and soul, and of their possible

Take another theory. Comte tells us there is a primary
tendency in man 'to transfer the sense of his own nature, in
the radical explanation of all phenomena whatever.' Writing
in the same key, Schopenhauer calls man 'a metaphysical
animal.' He is speaking of the need man feels of a theory,
in regard to the riddle of existence, which forces itself
upon his notice; 'a need arising from the consciousness that
behind the physical in the world, there is a metaphysical
something permanent as the foundation of constant change.'
Though not here alluding to the ghost theory, this bears
indirectly on the conception, as I shall proceed to show.

We need not entangle ourselves in the vexed question of
innate ideas, nor inquire whether the principle of casuality
is, as Kant supposed, like space and time, a form of
intuition given A PRIORI. That every change has a cause must
necessarily (without being thus formulated) be one of the
initial beliefs of conscious beings far lower in the scale
than man, whether derived solely from experience or
otherwise. The reed that shakes is obviously shaken by the
wind. But the riddle of the wind also forces itself into
notice; and man explains this by transferring to the wind
'the sense of his own nature.' Thunderstorms, volcanic
disturbances, ocean waves, running streams, the motions of
the heavenly bodies, had to be accounted for as involving
change. And the natural - the primitive - explanation was by
reference to life, analogous, if not similar, to our own.
Here then, it seems to me, we have the true origin of the
belief in ghosts.

Take an illustration which supports this view. While sitting
in my garden the other day a puff of wind blew a lady's
parasol across the lawn. It rolled away close to a dog lying
quietly in the sun. The dog looked at it for a moment, but
seeing nothing to account for its movements, barked
nervously, put its tail between its legs, and ran away,
turning occasionally to watch and again bark, with every sign
of fear.

This was animism. The dog must have accounted for the
eccentric behaviour of the parasol by endowing it with an
uncanny spirit. The horse that shies at inanimate objects by
the roadside, and will sometimes dash itself against a tree
or a wall, is actuated by a similar superstition. Is there
any essential difference between this belief of the dog or
horse and the belief of primitive man? I maintain that an
intuitive animistic tendency (which Mr. Spencer repudiates),
and not dreams, lies at the root of all spiritualism. Would
Mr. Spencer have had us believe that the dog's fear of the
rolling parasol was a logical deduction from its canine
dreams? This would scarcely elucidate the problem. The dog
and the horse share apparently Schopenhauer's metaphysical
propensity with man.

The familiar aphorism of Statius: PRIMUS IN ORBE DEOS FECIT
TIMOR, points to the relation of animism first to the belief
in ghosts, thence to Polytheism, and ultimately to
Monotheism. I must apologise to those of the transcendental
school who, like Max Muller for instance (Introduction to the
'Science of Religion'), hold that we have 'a primitive
intuition of God'; which, after all, the professor derives,
like many others, from the 'yearning for something that
neither sense nor reason can supply'; and from the assumption
that 'there was in the heart of man from the very first a
feeling of incompleteness, of weakness, of dependency, &c.'
All this, I take it, is due to the aspirations of a much
later creature than the 'Pithecanthropus erectus,' to whom we
here refer.

Probably spirits and ghosts were originally of an evil kind.
Sir John Lubbock ('The Origin of Civilisation') says: 'The
baying of the dog to the moon is as much an act of worship as
some ceremonies which have been so described by travellers.'
I think he would admit that fear is the origin of the
worship. In his essay on 'Superstition,' Hume writes:
'Weakness, fear, melancholy, together with ignorance, are the
true sources of superstition.' Also 'in such a state of
mind, infinite unknown evils are dreaded from unknown

Man's impotence to resist the forces of nature, and their
terrible ability to injure him, would inspire a sense of
terror; which in turn would give rise to the twofold notion
of omnipotence and malignity. The savage of the present day
lives in perpetual fear of evil spirits; and the
superstitious dread, which I and most others have suffered,
is inherited from our savage ancestry. How much further back
we must seek it may be left to the sage philosophers of the


THE next winter we lay for a couple of months off Chinhai,
which we had stormed, blockading the mouth of the Ningpo
river. Here, I regret to think, I committed an act which has
often haunted my conscience as a crime; although I had
frequently promised the captain of a gun a glass of grog to
let me have a shot, and was mightily pleased if death and
destruction rewarded my aim.

Off Chinhai, lorchers and fast sailing junks laden with
merchandise would try to run the blockade before daylight.
And it sometimes happened that we youngsters had a long chase
in a cutter to overhaul them. This meant getting back to a
nine or ten o'clock breakfast at the end of the morning's
watch; equivalent to five or six hours' duty on an empty

One cold morning I had a hard job to stop a small junk. The
men were sweating at their oars like galley slaves, and
muttering curses at the apparent futility of their labour. I
had fired a couple of shots from a 'brown Bess' - the musket
of the day - through the fugitive's sails; and fearing
punishment if I let her escape, I next aimed at the boat
herself. Down came the mainsail in a crack. When I boarded
our capture, I found I had put a bullet through the thigh of
the man at the tiller. Boys are not much troubled with
scruples about bloodguiltiness, and not unfrequently are very
cruel, for cruelty as a rule (with exceptions) mostly
proceeds from thoughtlessness. But when I realised what I
had done, and heard the wretched man groan, I was seized with
remorse for what, at a more hardened stage, I should have
excused on the score of duty.

It was during this blockade that the accident, which I have
already alluded to, befell my dear protector, Jack Johnson.

One night, during his and my middle watch, the forecastle
sentries hailed a large sampan, like a Thames barge, drifting
down stream and threatening to foul us. Sir Frederick
Nicholson, the officer of the watch, ordered Johnson to take
the cutter and tow her clear.

I begged leave to go with him. Sir Frederick refused, for he
at once suspected mischief. The sampan was reached and
diverted just before she swung athwart our bows. But
scarcely was this achieved, when an explosion took place. My
friend was knocked over, and one or two of the men fell back
into the cutter. This is what had happened: Johnson finding
no one in the sampan, cautiously raised one of the deck
hatches with a boat-hook before he left the cutter. The mine
(for such it proved) was so arranged that examination of this
kind drew a lighted match on to the magazine, which instantly

Poor Jack! what was my horror when we got him on board!
Every trace of his handsome features was gone. He was alive,
and that seemed to be all. In a few minutes his head and
face swelled so that all was a round black charred ball. One
could hardly see where the eyes were, buried beneath the
powder-ingrained and incrusted flesh.

For weeks, at night, I used to sit on a chest near his
hammock, listening for his slightest movement, too happy if
he called me for something I could get him. In time he
recovered, and was invalided home, and I lost my dear
companion and protector. A couple of years afterwards I had
the happiness to dine with him on board another ship in
Portsmouth, no longer in the midshipman's berth, but in the

Twice during this war, the 'Blonde' was caught in a typhoon.
The first time was in waters now famous, but then unknown,
the Gulf of Liau-tung, in full sight of China's great wall.
We were twenty-four hours battened down, and under storm
staysails. The 'Blenheim,' with Captain Elliott our
plenipotentiary on board, was with us, and the one
circumstance left in my memory is the sight of a line-of-
battle ship rolling and pitching so that one caught sight of
the whole of her keel from stem to stern as if she had been a
fishing smack. We had been wintering in the Yellow Sea, and
at the time I speak of were on a foraging expedition round
the Liau-tung peninsula. Those who have followed the events
of the Japanese war will have noticed on the map, not far
north of Ta-lien-wan in the Korean Bay, three groups of
islands. So little was the geography of these parts then
known, that they had no place on our charts. On this very
occasion, one group was named after Captain Elliott, one was
called the Bouchier Islands, and the other the Blonde
Islands. The first surveying of the two latter groups, and
the placing of them upon the map, was done by our naval
instructor, and he always took me with him as his assistant.

Our second typhoon was while we were at anchor in Hong Kong
harbour. Those who have knowledge only of the gales, however
violent, of our latitudes, have no conception of what wind-
force can mount to. To be the toy of it is enough to fill
the stoutest heart with awe. The harbour was full of
transports, merchant ships, opium clippers, besides four or
five men-of-war, and a steamer belonging to the East India
Company - the first steamship I had ever seen.

The coming of a typhoon is well known to the natives at least
twenty-four hours beforehand, and every preparation is made
for it. Boats are dragged far up the beach; buildings even
are fortified for resistance. Every ship had laid out its
anchors, lowered its yards, and housed its topmasts. We had
both bowers down, with cables paid out to extreme length.
The danger was either in drifting on shore or, what was more
imminent, collision. When once the tornado struck us there
was nothing more to be done; no men could have worked on
deck. The seas broke by tons over all; boats beached as
described were lifted from the ground, and hurled, in some
instances, over the houses. The air was darkened by the

But terrible as was the raging of wind and water, far more
awful was the vain struggle for life of the human beings who
succumbed to it. In a short time almost all the ships except
the men-of-war, which were better provided with anchors,
began to drift from their moorings. Then wreck followed
wreck. I do not think the 'Blonde' moved; but from first to
last we were threatened with the additional weight and strain
of a drifting vessel. Had we been so hampered our anchorage
must have given way. As a single example of the force of a
typhoon, the 'Phlegethon' with three anchors down, and
engines working at full speed, was blown past us out of the

One tragic incident I witnessed, which happened within a few
fathoms of the 'Blonde.' An opium clipper had drifted
athwart the bow of a large merchantman, which in turn was
almost foul of us. In less than five minutes the clipper
sank. One man alone reappeared on the surface. He was so
close, that from where I was holding on and crouching under
the lee of the mainmast I could see the expression of his
face. He was a splendidly built man, and his strength and
activity must have been prodigious. He clung to the cable of
the merchantman, which he had managed to clasp. As the
vessel reared between the seas he gained a few feet before he
was again submerged. At last he reached the hawse-hole. Had
he hoped, in spite of his knowledge, to find it large enough
to admit his body? He must have known the truth; and yet he
struggled on. Did he hope that, when thus within arms'
length of men in safety, some pitying hand would be stretched
out to rescue him, - a rope's end perhaps flung out to haul
him inboard? Vain desperate hope! He looked upwards: an
imploring look. Would Heaven be more compassionate than man?
A mountain of sea towered above his head; and when again the
bow was visible, the man was gone for ever.

Before taking leave of my seafaring days, I must say one word
about corporal punishment. Sir Thomas Bouchier was a good
sailor, a gallant officer, and a kind-hearted man; but he was
one of the old school. Discipline was his watchword, and he
endeavoured to maintain it by severity. I dare say that, on
an average, there was a man flogged as often as once a month
during the first two years the 'Blonde' was in commission. A
flogging on board a man-of-war with a 'cat,' the nine tails
of which were knotted, and the lashes of which were slowly
delivered, up to the four dozen, at the full swing of the
arm, and at the extremity of lash and handle, was very severe
punishment. Each knot brought blood, and the shock of the
blow knocked the breath out of a man with an involuntary
'Ugh!' however stoically he bore the pain.

I have seen many a bad man flogged for unpardonable conduct,
and many a good man for a glass of grog too much. My firm
conviction is that the bad man was very little the better;
the good man very much the worse. The good man felt the
disgrace, and was branded for life. His self-esteem was
permanently maimed, and he rarely held up his head or did his
best again. Besides which, - and this is true of all
punishment - any sense of injustice destroys respect for the
punisher. Still I am no sentimentalist; I have a contempt
for, and even a dread of, sentimentalism. For boy
housebreakers, and for ruffians who commit criminal assaults,
the rod or the lash is the only treatment.

A comic piece of insubordination on my part recurs to me in
connection with flogging. About the year 1840 or 1841, a
midshipman on the Pacific station was flogged. I think the
ship was the 'Peak.' The event created some sensation, and
was brought before Parliament. Two frigates were sent out to
furnish a quorum of post-captains to try the responsible
commander. The verdict of the court-martial was a severe
reprimand. This was, of course, nuts to every midshipman in
the service.

Shortly after it became known I got into a scrape for
laughing at, and disobeying the orders of, our first-
lieutenant, - the head of the executive on board a frigate.
As a matter of fact, the orders were ridiculous, for the said
officer was tipsy. Nevertheless, I was reported, and had up
before the captain. 'Old Tommy' was, or affected to be, very
angry. I am afraid I was very 'cheeky.' Whereupon Sir
Thomas did lose his temper, and threatened to send for the
boatswain to tie me up and give me a dozen, - not on the
back, but where the back leaves off. Undismayed by the
threat, and mindful of the episode of the 'Peak' (?) I looked
the old gentleman in the face, and shrilly piped out, 'It's
as much as your commission is worth, sir.' In spite of his
previous wrath, he was so taken aback by my impudence that he
burst out laughing, and, to hide it, kicked me out of the

After another severe attack of fever, and during a long
convalescence, I was laid up at Macao, where I enjoyed the
hospitality of Messrs. Dent and of Messrs. Jardine and
Matheson. Thence I was invalided home, and took my passage
to Bombay in one of the big East India tea-ships. As I was
being carried up the side in the arms of one of the boatmen,
I overheard another exclaim: 'Poor little beggar. He'll
never see land again!'

The only other passenger was Colonel Frederick Cotton, of the
Madras Engineers, one of a distinguished family. He, too,
had been through the China campaign, and had also broken
down. We touched at Manila, Batavia, Singapore, and several
other ports in the Malay Archipelago, to take in cargo.
While that was going on, Cotton, the captain, and I made
excursions inland. Altogether I had a most pleasant time of
it till we reached Bombay.

My health was now re-established; and after a couple of weeks
at Bombay, where I lived in a merchant's house, Cotton took
me to Poonah and Ahmadnagar; in both of which places I stayed
with his friends, and messed with the regiments. Here a copy
of the 'Times' was put into my hands; and I saw a notice of
the death of my father.

After a fortnight's quarantine at La Valetta, where two young
Englishmen - one an Oxford man - shared the same rooms in the
fort with me, we three returned to England; and (I suppose
few living people can say the same) travelled from Naples to
Calais before there was a single railway on the Continent.

At the end of two months' leave in England I was appointed to
the 'Caledonia,' flagship at Plymouth. Sir Thomas Bouchier
had written to the Admiral, Sir Edward Codrington, of
Navarino fame (whose daughter Sir Thomas afterwards married),
giving me 'a character.' Sir Edward sent for me, and was
most kind. He told me I was to go to the Pacific in the
first ship that left for South America, which would probably
be in a week or two; and he gave me a letter to his friend,
Admiral Thomas, who commanded on that station.

About this time, and for a year or two later, the relations
between England and America were severely strained by what
was called 'the Oregon question.' The dispute was concerning
the right of ownership of the mouth of the Columbia river,
and of Vancouver's Island. The President as well as the
American people took the matter up very warmly; and much
discretion was needed to avert the outbreak of hostilities.

In Sir Edward's letter, which he read out and gave to me
open, he requested Admiral Thomas to put me into any ship
'that was likely to see service'; and quoted a word or two
from my dear old captain Sir Thomas, which would probably
have given me a lift.

The prospect before me was brilliant. What could be more
delectable than the chance of a war? My fancy pictured all
sorts of opportunities, turned to the best account, - my
seniors disposed of, and myself, with a pair of epaulets,
commanding the smartest brig in the service.

Alack-a-day! what a climb down from such high flights my life
has been. The ship in which I was to have sailed to the west
was suddenly countermanded to the east. She was to leave for
China the following week, and I was already appointed to her,
not even as a 'super.'

My courage and my ambition were wrecked at a blow. The
notion of returning for another three years to China, where
all was now peaceful and stale to me, the excitement of the
war at an end, every port reminding me of my old comrades,
visions of renewed fevers and horrible food, - were more than
I could stand.

I instantly made up my mind to leave the Navy. It was a
wilful, and perhaps a too hasty, impulse. But I am impulsive
by nature; and now that my father was dead, I fancied myself
to a certain extent my own master. I knew moreover, by my
father's will, that I should not be dependent upon a
profession. Knowledge of such a fact has been the ruin of
many a better man than I. I have no virtuous superstitions
in favour of poverty - quite the reverse - but I am convinced
that the rich man, who has never had to earn his position or
his living, is more to be pitied and less respected than the
poor man whose comforts certainly, if not his bread, have
depended on his own exertions.

My mother had a strong will of her own, and I could not guess
what line she might take. I also apprehended the opposition
of my guardians. On the whole, I opined a woman's heart
would be the most suitable for an appeal AD MISERICORDIAM.
So I pulled out the agony stop, and worked the pedals of
despair with all the anguish at my command.

'It was easy enough for her to REVEL IN LUXURY and consign me
to a life worse than a CONVICT'S. But how would SHE like to
live on SALT JUNK, to keep NIGHT WATCHES, to have to cut up
her blankets for PONCHOS (I knew she had never heard the
word, and that it would tell accordingly), to save her from
being FROZEN TO DEATH? How would SHE like to be mast-headed
when a ship was rolling gunwale under? As to the wishes of
my guardians, were THEIR FEELINGS to be considered before
mine? I should like to see Lord Rosebery or Lord Spencer in
my place! They'd very soon wish they had a mother who &c.

When my letter was finished I got leave to go ashore to post
it. Feeling utterly miserable, I had my hair cut; and,
rendered perfectly reckless by my appearance, I consented to
have what was left of it tightly curled with a pair of tongs.
I cannot say that I shared in any sensible degree the
pleasure which this operation seemed to give to the artist.
But when I got back to the ship the sight of my adornment
kept my messmates in an uproar for the rest of the afternoon.

Whether the touching appeal to my mother produced tears, or
of what kind, matters little; it effectually determined my
career. Before my new ship sailed for China, I was home
again, and in full possession of my coveted freedom as a


IT was settled that after a course of three years at a
private tutor's I was to go to Cambridge. The life I had led
for the past three years was not the best training for the
fellow-pupil of lads of fifteen or sixteen who had just left
school. They were much more ready to follow my lead than I
theirs, especially as mine was always in the pursuit of

I was first sent to Mr. B.'s, about a couple of miles from
Alnwick. Before my time, Alnwick itself was considered out
of bounds. But as nearly half the sin in this world consists
in being found out, my companions and I managed never to
commit any in this direction.

We generally returned from the town with a bottle of some
noxious compound called 'port' in our pockets, which was
served out in our 'study' at night, while I read aloud the
instructive adventures of Mr. Thomas Jones. We were, of
course, supposed to employ these late hours in preparing our
work for the morrow. One boy only protested that, under the
combined seductions of the port and Miss Molly Seagrim, he
could never make his verses scan.

Another of our recreations was poaching. From my earliest
days I was taught to shoot, myself and my brothers being each
provided with his little single-barrelled flint and steel
'Joe Manton.' At - we were surrounded by grouse moors on one
side, and by well-preserved coverts on the other. The grouse
I used to shoot in the evening while they fed amongst the
corn stooks; for pheasants and hares, I used to get the other
pupils to walk through the woods, while I with a gun walked
outside. Scouts were posted to look out for keepers.

Did our tutor know? Of course he knew. But think of the
saving in the butcher's bill! Besides which, Mr. B. was
otherwise preoccupied; he was in love with Mrs. B. I say 'in
love,' for although I could not be sure of it then, (having
no direct experience of the AMANTIUM IRAE,) subsequent
observation has persuaded me that their perpetual quarrels
could mean nothing else. This was exceedingly favourable to
the independence of Mr. B.'s pupils. But when asked by Mr.
Ellice how I was getting on, I was forced in candour to admit
that I was in a fair way to forget all I ever knew.

By the advice of Lord Spencer I was next placed under the
tuition of one of the minor canons of Ely. The Bishop of Ely
- Dr. Allen - had been Lord Spencer's tutor, hence his
elevation to the see. The Dean - Dr. Peacock, of algebraic
and Trinity College fame - was good enough to promise 'to
keep an eye' on me. Lord Spencer himself took me to Ely; and
there I remained for two years. They were two very important
years of my life. Having no fellow pupil to beguile me, I
was the more industrious. But it was not from the better
acquaintance with ancient literature that I mainly benefited,
- it was from my initiation to modern thought. I was a
constant guest at the Deanery; where I frequently met such
men as Sedgwick, Airey the Astronomer-Royal, Selwyn, Phelps
the Master of Sydney, Canon Heaviside the master of
Haileybury, and many other friends of the Dean's,
distinguished in science, literature, and art. Here I heard
discussed opinions on these subjects by some of their leading
representatives. Naturally, as many of them were Churchmen,
conversation often turned on the bearing of modern science,
of geology especially if Sedgwick were of the party, upon
Mosaic cosmogony, or Biblical exegesis generally.

The knowledge of these learned men, the lucidity with which
they expressed their views, and the earnestness with which
they defended them, captivated my attention, and opened to me
a new world of surpassing interest and gravity.

What startled me most was the spirit in which a man of
Sedgwick's intellectual power protested against the possible
encroachments of his own branch of science upon the orthodox
tenets of the Church. Just about this time an anonymous book
appeared, which, though long since forgotten, caused no
slight disturbance amongst dogmatic theologians. The
tendency of this book, 'Vestiges of the Creation,' was, or
was then held to be, antagonistic to the arguments from
design. Familiar as we now are with the theory of evolution,
such a work as the 'Vestiges' would no more stir the ODIUM
THEOLOGICUM than Franklin's kite. Sedgwick, however,
attacked it with a vehemence and a rancour that would
certainly have roasted its author had the professor held the
office of Grand Inquisitor.

Though incapable of forming any opinion as to the scientific
merits of such a book, or of Hugh Miller's writings, which he
also attacked upon purely religious grounds, I was staggered
by the fact that the Bible could possibly be impeached, or
that it was not profanity to defend it even. Was it not the
'Word of God'? And if so, how could any theories of
creation, any historical, any philological researches, shake
its eternal truth?

Day and night I pondered over this new revelation. I bought
the books - the wicked books - which nobody ought to read.
The INDEX EXPURGATORIUS became my guide for books to be
digested. I laid hands on every heretical work I could hear
of. By chance I made the acquaintance of a young man who,
together with his family, were Unitarians. I got, and
devoured, Channing's works. I found a splendid copy of
Voltaire in the Holkham library, and hunted through the
endless volumes, till I came to the 'Dialogues
Philosophiques.' The world is too busy, fortunately, to
disturb its peace with such profane satire, such withering
sarcasm as flashes through an 'entretien' like that between
'Frere Rigolet' and 'L'Empereur de la Chine.' Every French
man of letters knows it by heart; but it would wound our
English susceptibilities were I to cite it here. Then, too,
the impious paraphrase of the Athanasian Creed, with its
terrible climax, from the converting Jesuit: 'Or vous voyez
bien . . . qu'un homme qui ne croit pas cette histoire doit
etre brule dans ce monde ci, et dans l'autre.' To which
'L'Empereur' replies: 'Ca c'est clair comme le jour.'

Could an ignorant youth, fevered with curiosity and the first
goadings of the questioning spirit, resist such logic, such
scorn, such scathing wit, as he met with here?

Then followed Rousseau; 'Emile' became my favourite.
Froude's 'Nemesis of Faith' I read, and many other books of a
like tendency. Passive obedience, blind submission to
authority, was never one of my virtues, and once my faith was
shattered, I knew not where to stop - what to doubt, what to
believe. If the injunction to 'prove all things' was
anything more than an empty apophthegm, inquiry, in St.
Paul's eyes at any rate, could not be sacrilege.

It was not happiness I sought, - not peace of mind at least;
for assuredly my thirst for knowledge, for truth, brought me
anything but peace. I never was more restless, or, at times,
more unhappy. Shallow, indeed, must be the soul that can
lightly sever itself from beliefs which lie at the roots of
our moral, intellectual, and emotional being, sanctified too
by associations of our earliest love and reverence. I used
to wander about the fields, and sit for hours in sequestered
spots, longing for some friend, some confidant to take
counsel with. I knew no such friend. I did not dare to
speak of my misgivings to others. In spite of my earnest
desire for guidance, for more light, the strong grip of
childhood's influences was impossible to shake off. I could
not rid my conscience of the sin of doubt.

It is this difficulty, this primary dependence on others,
which develops into the child's first religion, that
perpetuates the infantile character of human creeds; and,
what is worse, generates the hideous bigotry which justifies
that sad reflection of Lucretius: 'Tantum Religio potuit
suadere malorum!'


TO turn again to narrative, and to far less serious thoughts.
The last eighteen months before I went to Cambridge, I was
placed, or rather placed myself, under the tuition of Mr.
Robert Collyer, rector of Warham, a living close to Holkham
in the gift of my brother Leicester. Between my Ely tutor
and myself there was but little sympathy. He was a man of
much refinement, but with not much indulgence for such
aberrant proclivities as mine. Without my knowledge, he
wrote to Mr. Ellice lamenting my secret recusancy, and its
moral dangers. Mr. Ellice came expressly from London, and
stayed a night at Ely. He dined with us in the cloisters,
and had a long private conversation with my tutor, and,
before he left, with me. I indignantly resented the
clandestine representations of Mr. S., and, without a word to
Mr. Ellice or to anyone else, wrote next day to Mr. Collyer
to beg him to take me in at Warham, and make what he could of

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