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

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Published November, 1918



T. H. W.

(In memory of April 6, 1872)_





















Do we all become garrulous and confidential as we approach the gates of
old age? Is it that we instinctively feel, and cannot help asserting,
our one advantage over the younger generation, which has so many over
us?--the one advantage of _time!_

After all, it is not disputable that we have lived longer than they.
When they talk of past poets, or politicians, or novelists, whom the
young still deign to remember, of whom for once their estimate agrees
with ours, we can sometimes put in a quiet, "I saw him"--or, "I talked
with him"--which for the moment wins the conversational race. And as we
elders fall back before the brilliance and glitter of the New Age,
advancing "like an army with banners," this mere prerogative of years
becomes in itself a precious possession. After all, we cannot divest
ourselves of it, if we would. It is better to make friends with it--to
turn it into a kind of _panache_--to wear it with an air, since wear it
we must.

So as the years draw on toward the Biblical limit, the inclination to
look back, and to tell some sort of story of what one has seen, grows
upon most of us. I cannot hope that what I have to say will be very
interesting to many. A life spent largely among books, and in the
exercise of a literary profession, has very obvious drawbacks, as a
subject-matter, when one comes to write about it. I can only attempt it
with any success, if my readers will allow me a large psychological
element. The thoughts and opinions of one human being, if they are
sincere, must always have an interest for some other human beings. The
world is there to think about; and if we have lived, or are living, with
any sort of energy, we _must_ have thought about it, and about ourselves
in relation to it--thought "furiously" often. And it is out of the many
"thinkings" of many folk, strong or weak, dull or far-ranging, that
thought itself grows. For progress surely, whether in men or nations,
means only a richer knowledge; the more impressions, therefore, on the
human intelligence that we can seize and record, the more sensitive
becomes that intelligence itself.

But of course the difficulty lies in the seizing and recording--in the
choice, that is, of what to say, and how to say it. In this choice, as I
look back over more than half a century, I can only follow--and
trust--the same sort of instinct that one follows in the art of fiction.
I shall be telling what is primarily true, or as true as I can make it,
as distinguished from what is primarily imagination, built on truth. But
the truth one uses in fiction must be interesting! Milton expresses that
in the words "sensuous" and "passionate," which he applies to poetry in
the _Areopagitica_. And the same thing applies to autobiography, where
selection is even more necessary than in fiction. Nothing ought to be
told, I think, that does not interest or kindle one's own mind in
looking back; it is the only condition on which one can hope to interest
or kindle other minds. And this means that one ought to handle things
broadly, taking only the salient points in the landscape of the past,
and of course with as much detachment as possible. Though probably in
the end one will have to admit--egotists that we all are!--that not much
detachment _is_ possible.

For me, the first point that stands out is the arrival of a little girl
of five, in the year 1856, at a gray-stone house in a Westmorland
valley, where, fourteen years earlier, the children of Arnold of Rugby,
the "Doctor" of _Tom Brown's Schooldays_, had waited on a June day, to
greet their father, expected from the South, only to hear, as the summer
day died away, that two hours' sharp illness, that very morning, had
taken him from them. Of what preceded my arrival as a black-haired,
dark-eyed child, with my father, mother, and two brothers, at Fox How,
the holiday house among the mountains which the famous headmaster had
built for himself in 1834, I have but little recollection. I see dimly
another house in wide fields, where dwarf lilies grew, and I know that
it was a house in Tasmania, where at the time of my birth my father,
Thomas Arnold, the Doctor's second son, was organizing education in the
young colony. I can just recall, too, the deck of a ship which to my
childish feet seemed vast--but the _William Brown_ was a sailing-ship of
only 400 tons!--in which we made the voyage home in 1856. Three months
and a half we took about it, going round the Horn in bitter weather,
much run over by rats at night, and expected to take our baths by day in
two huge barrels full of sea water on the deck, into which we children
were plunged shivering by our nurse, two or three times a week. My
father and mother, their three children, and some small cousins, who
were going to England under my mother's care, were the only passengers.

I can remember, too, being lifted--weak and miserable with toothache--in
my father's arms to catch the first sight of English shores as we neared
the mouth of the Thames; and then the dismal inn by the docks where we
first took shelter. The dreary room where we children slept the first
night, its dingy ugliness and its barred windows, still come back to me
as a vision of horror. Next day, like angels of rescue, came an aunt and
uncle, who took us away to other and cheerful quarters, and presently
saw us off to Westmorland. The aunt was my godmother, Doctor Arnold's
eldest daughter--then the young wife of William Edward Forster, a Quaker
manufacturer, who afterward became the well-known Education Minister of
1870, and was Chief Secretary for Ireland in the terrible years 1880-82.

To my mother and her children, Fox How and its inmates represented much
that was new and strange. My mother was the granddaughter of one of the
first Governors of Tasmania, Governor Sorell, and had been brought up in
the colony, except for a brief schooling at Brussels. Of her personal
beauty in youth we children heard much, as we grew up, from her old
Tasmanian friends and kinsfolk who would occasionally drift across us;
and I see as though I had been there a scene often described to me--my
mother playing Hermione in the "Winter's Tale," at Government House when
Sir William Denison was Governor--a vision, lovely and motionless, on
her pedestal, till at the words, "Music! awake her! Strike!" she kindled
into life. Her family were probably French in origin. Governor Sorell
had been a man of promise in his youth. His father, General William
Alexander Sorell, of the Coldstream Guards, was a soldier of some
eminence, whose two sons, William and Thomas, both served under Sir John
Moore and at the Cape. But my great-grandfather ruined his military
career, while he was Deputy Adjutant-General at the Cape, by a
love-affair with a brother officer's wife, and was banished or
promoted--whichever one pleases to call it--to the new colony of
Tasmania, of which he became Governor in 1816. His eldest son, by the
wife he had left behind him in England, went out as a youth of
twenty-one or so, to join his father, the Governor, in Tasmania, and I
possess a little calf-bound diary of my grandfather written in a very
delicate and refined hand, about the year 1823. The faint entries in it
show him to have been a devoted son. But when, in 1830 or so, the
Governor left the colony, and retired to Brussels, my grandfather
remained in Van Diemen's Land, as it was then generally called, became
very much attached to the colony, and filled the post of Registrar of
Deeds for many years under its successive Governors. I just remember
him, as a gentle, affectionate, upright being, a gentleman of an old,
punctilious school, strictly honorable and exact, content with a small
sphere, and much loved within it. He would sometimes talk to his
children of early days in Bath, of his father's young successes and
promotions, and of his grandfather, General Sorell, who, as Adjutant of
the Coldstream Guards from 1744 to 1758, and associated with all the
home and foreign service of that famous regiment during those years,
through the Seven Years' War, and up to the opening of the American War
of Independence, played a vaguely brilliant part in his grandson's
recollections. But he himself was quite content with the modest affairs
of an infant colony, which even in its earliest days achieved, whether
in its landscape or its life, a curiously English effect; as though an
English midland county had somehow got loose and, drifting to the
Southern seas, had there set up--barring a few black aborigines, a few
convicts, its mimosas, and its tree-ferns--another quiet version of the
quiet English life it had left behind.

But the Sorells, all the same, had some foreign and excitable blood in
them. Their story of themselves was that they were French Huguenots,
expelled in 1685, who had settled in England and, coming of a military
stock, had naturally sought careers in the English army. There are
points in this story which are puzzling; but the foreign touch in my
mother, and in the Governor--to judge from the only picture of him which
remains--was unmistakable. Delicate features, small, beautifully shaped
hands and feet, were accompanied in my mother by a French vivacity and
quickness, an overflowing energy, which never forsook her through all
her trials and misfortunes. In the Governor, the same physical
characteristics make a rather decadent and foppish impression--as of an
old stock run to seed. The stock had been reinvigorated in my mother,
and one of its original elements which certainly survived in her
temperament and tradition was of great importance both for her own life
and for her children's. This was the Protestant--the _French_
Protestant--element; which no doubt represented in the family from which
she came a history of long suffering at the hands of Catholicism.
Looking back upon her Protestantism, I see that it was not the least
like English Evangelicalism, whether of the Anglican or dissenting type.
There was nothing emotional or "enthusiastic" in it--no breath of Wesley
or Wilberforce; but rather something drawn from deep wells of history,
instinctive and invincible. Had some direct Calvinist ancestor of hers,
with a soul on fire, fought the tyranny of Bossuet and Madame de
Maintenon, before--eternally hating and resenting "Papistry"--he
abandoned his country and kinsfolk, in the search for religious liberty?
That is the impression which--looking back upon her life--it often makes
upon me. All the more strange that to her it fell, unwittingly,
imagining, indeed, that by her marriage with a son of Arnold of Rugby
she was taking a step precisely in the opposite direction, to be, by a
kind of tragic surprise, which yet was no one's fault, the wife of a

And that brings me to my father, whose character and story were so
important to all his children that I must try and draw them, though I
cannot pretend to any impartiality in doing so--only to the insight that
affection gives; its one abiding advantage over the critic and the

He was the second son of Doctor Arnold of Rugby, and the younger
brother--by only eleven months--of Matthew Arnold. On that morning of
June 12, 1842, when the headmaster who in fourteen years' rule at Rugby
had made himself so conspicuous a place, not merely in the public-school
world, but in English life generally[1] arose, in the words of
his poet son--to tread--

In the summer morning, the road--
Of death, at a call unforeseen--

My father, a boy of eighteen, was in the house, and witnessed the fatal
attack of _angina pectoris_ which, in two hours, cut short a memorable
career, and left those who till then, under a great man's shelter and
keeping, had--

Rested as under the boughs
Of a mighty oak....
Bare, unshaded, alone.

[Footnote 1: At the moment of correcting these proofs, my attention has
been called to a foolish essay on my grandfather by Mr. Lytton
Strachey, none the less foolish because it is the work of an extremely
clever man. If Mr. Strachey imagines that the effect of my
grandfather's life and character upon men like Stanley and Clough, or a
score of others who could be named, can be accounted for by the eidolon
he presents to his readers in place of the real human being, one can
only regard it as one proof the more of the ease with which a certain
kind of ability outwits itself.]

He had been his father's special favorite among the elder children, as
shown by some verses in my keeping addressed to him as a small boy, at
different times, by "the Doctor." Those who know their _Tom Brown's
Schooldays_ will perhaps remember the various passages in the book where
the softer qualities of the man whom "three hundred reckless childish
boys" feared with all their hearts, "and very little besides in heaven
or earth," are made plain in the language of that date. Arthur's
illness, for instance, when the little fellow, who has been at death's
door, tells Tom Brown, who is at last allowed to see him: "You can't
think what the Doctor's like when one's ill. He said such brave and
tender and gentle things to me--I felt quite light and strong after it,
and never had any more fear." Or East's talk with the Doctor, when the
lively boy of many scrapes has a moral return upon himself, and says to
his best friend: "You can't think how kind and gentle he was, the great
grim man, whom I've feared more than anybody on earth. When I stuck, he
lifted me, just as if I'd been a little child. And he seemed to know all
I'd felt, and to have gone through it all." This tenderness and charm of
a strong man, which in Stanley's biography is specially mentioned as
growing more and more visible in the last months of his life, was always
there for his children. In a letter written in 1828 to his sister, when
my father as a small child not yet five was supposed to be dying, Arnold
says, trying to steel himself against the bitterness of coming loss, "I
might have loved him, had he lived, too dearly--you know how deeply I do
love him now." And three years later, when "little Tom," on his eighth
birthday, had just said, wistfully--with a curious foreboding instinct,
"I think that the eight years I have now lived will be the happiest of
my life," Arnold, painfully struck by the words, wrote some verses upon
them which I still possess. "The Doctor" was no poet, though the best of
his historical prose--the well-known passage in the Roman History, for
instance, on the death of Marcellus--has some of the essential notes of
poetry--passion, strength, music. But the gentle Wordsworthian quality
of his few essays in verse will be perhaps interesting to those who are
aware of him chiefly as the great Liberal fighter of eighty years ago.
He replies to his little son:

Is it that aught prophetic stirred
Thy spirit to that ominous word,
Foredating in thy childish mind
The fortune of thy Life's career--
That naught of brighter bliss shall cheer
What still remains behind?

Or is thy Life so full of bliss
That, come what may, more blessed than this
Thou canst not be again?
And fear'st thou, standing on the shore,
What storms disturb with wild uproar
The years of older men?

* * * * *

At once to enjoy, at once to hope--
That fills indeed the largest scope
Of good our thoughts can reach.
Where can we learn so blest a rule,
What wisest sage, what happiest school,
Art so divine can teach?

The answer, of course, in the mouth of a Christian teacher is that in
Christianity alone is there both present joy and future hope. The
passages in Arnold's most intimate diary, discovered after his death,
and published by Dean Stanley, show what the Christian faith was to my
grandfather, how closely bound up with every action and feeling of his
life. The impression made by his conception of that faith, as
interpreted by his own daily life, upon a great school, and, through the
many strong and able men who went out from it, upon English thought and
feeling, is a part of English religious history.

[Illustration: MATTHEW ARNOLD.

JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. From a drawing in possession
of H. E. Wilberforce, Esq.]

But curiously enough the impression upon his own sons _appeared_, at any
rate, to be less strong and lasting than in the case of others. I mean,
of course, in the matter of opinion. The famous father died, and his
children had to face the world without his guiding hand. Matthew and
Tom, William and Edward, the eldest four sons, went in due time to
Oxford, and the youngest boy into the Navy. My grandmother made her home
at Fox How under the shelter of the fells, with her four daughters, the
youngest of whom was only eight when their father died. The devotion of
all the nine children to their mother, to one another, and to the common
home was never weakened for a moment by the varieties of opinion that
life was sure to bring out in the strong brood of strong parents. But
the development of the elder two sons at the University was probably
very different from what it would have been had their father lived.
Neither of them, indeed, ever showed, while there, the smallest tendency
to the "Newmanism" which Arnold of Rugby had fought with all his powers;
which he had denounced with such vehemence in the Edinburgh article on
"The Oxford Malignants." My father was at Oxford all through the agitated
years which preceded Newman's secession from the Anglican communion. He
had rooms in University College in the High Street, nearly opposite
St. Mary's, in which John Henry Newman, then its Vicar, delivered Sunday
after Sunday those sermons which will never be forgotten by the Anglican
Church. But my father only once crossed the street to hear him, and was
then repelled by the mannerism of the preacher. Matthew Arnold
occasionally went, out of admiration, my father used to say, for that
strange Newmanic power of words, which in itself fascinated the young
Balliol poet, who was to produce his first volume of poems two years
after Newman's secession to the Church of Rome. But he was never touched
in the smallest degree by Newman's opinions. He and my father and Arthur
Clough, and a few other kindred spirits, lived indeed in quite another
world of thought. They discovered George Sand, Emerson, and Carlyle,
and orthodox Christianity no longer seemed to them the sure refuge
that it had always been to the strong teacher who trained them as boys.
There are many allusions of many dates in the letters of my father
and uncle to each other, as to their common Oxford passion for George
Sand. _Consuelo_, in particular, was a revelation to the two young
men brought up under the "earnest" influence of Rugby. It seemed to
open to them a world of artistic beauty and joy of which they had
never dreamed; and to loosen the bands of an austere conception of
life, which began to appear to them too narrow for the facts of life.
_Wilhelm Meister_, read in Carlyle's translation at the same time,
exercised a similar liberating and enchanting power upon my father.
The social enthusiasms of George Sand also affected him greatly,
strengthening whatever he had inherited of his father's generous
discontent with an iron world, where the poor suffer too much and
work too hard. And this discontent, when the time came for him to
leave Oxford, assumed a form which startled his friends.

He had done very well at Oxford, taking his two Firsts with ease, and
was offered a post in the Colonial Office immediately on leaving the
University. But the time was full of schemes for a new heaven and a new
earth, wherein should dwell equality and righteousness. The storm of
1848 was preparing in Europe; the Corn Laws had fallen; the Chartists
were gathering in England. To settle down to the old humdrum round of
Civil Service promotion seemed to my father impossible. This revolt of
his, and its effect upon his friends, of whom the most intimate was
Arthur Clough, has left its mark on Clough's poem, the "Vacation
Pastoral," which he called "The Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich," or, as it
runs in my father's old battered copy which lies before me,
"Tober-na-Fuosich." The Philip of the poem, the dreamer and democrat,
who says to Adam the Tutor--

Alas, the noted phrase of the prayer-book
Doing our duty in that state of life to which God has called us,
Seems to me always to mean, when the little rich boys say it,
Standing in velvet frock by Mama's brocaded flounces,
Eying her gold-fastened book, and the chain and watch at her bosom,
Seems to me always to mean, Eat, drink, and never mind others--

was in broad outline drawn from my father, and the impression made by
his idealist, enthusiastic youth upon his comrades. And Philip's
migration to the Antipodes at the end--when he

rounded the sphere to New Zealand,
There he hewed and dug; subdued the earth and
his spirit--

was certainly suggested by my father's similar step in 1847, the year
before the poem appeared. Only in my father's life there had been as yet
no parallel to the charming love-story of "The Bothie." His love-story
awaited him on the other side of the world.

At that moment, New Zealand, the land of beautiful mountain and sea,
with its even temperate climate, and its natives whom English enthusiasm
hoped not only to govern, but to civilize and assimilate, was in the
minds of all to whom the colonies seemed to offer chances of social
reconstruction beyond any that were possible in a crowded and decadent
Europe. "Land of Hope," I find it often called in these old letters.
"The gleam" was on it, and my father, like Browning's Waring, heard the

After it; follow it. Follow the gleam!

He writes to his mother in August, 1847, from the Colonial Office:

Every one whom I meet pities me for having to return to London at
this dull season, but to my own feelings, it is not worse than at
other times. The things which would make me loathe the thought of
passing my life or even several years in London, do not depend on
summer or winter. It is the chronic, not the acute ills of London
life which are real ills to me. I meant to have talked to you
again before I left home about New Zealand, but I could not find
a good opportunity. I do not think you will be surprised to hear
that I cannot give up my intention--though you may think me
wrong, you will believe that no cold-heartedness towards home has
assisted me in framing my resolution. Where or how we shall meet
on this side the grave will be arranged for us by a wiser will than
our own. To me, however strange and paradoxical it may sound,
this going to New Zealand is become a work of faith, and I cannot
but go through with it.

And later on when his plans are settled, he writes in exultation to his
eldest sister:

The weather is gusty and rainy, but no cheerlessness without can
repress a sort of exuberant buoyancy of spirit which is supplied
to me from within. There is such an indescribable blessedness in
looking forward to a manner of life which the heart and conscience
approve, and which at the same time satisfies the instinct for the
heroic and beautiful. Yet there seems little enough in a homely life
in a New Zealand forest; and indeed there is nothing in the thing
itself, except in so far as it flows from a principle, a faith.

And he goes on to speak in vague exalted words of the "equality" and
"brotherhood" to which he looks forward in the new land; winding up with
an account of his life in London, its daily work at the Colonial Office,
his walks, the occasional evenings at the opera where he worships Jenny
Lind, his readings and practisings in his lodgings. My poor father! He
little knew what he was giving up, or the real conditions of the life to
which he was going.

For, though the Philip of "The Bothie" may have "hewed and dug" to good
purpose in New Zealand, success in colonial farming was a wild and
fleeting dream in my father's case. He was born for academic life and a
scholar's pursuits. He had no practical gifts, and knew nothing whatever
of land or farming. He had only courage, youth, sincerity, and a
charming presence which made him friends at sight. His mother, indeed,
with her gentle wisdom, put no obstacles in his way. On the contrary,
she remembered that her husband had felt a keen imaginative interest in
the colonies, and had bought small sections of land near Wellington,
which his second son now proposed to take up and farm. But some of the
old friends of the family felt and expressed consternation. In
particular, Baron Bunsen, then Prussian Ambassador to England, Arnold of
Rugby's dear and faithful friend, wrote a letter of earnest and
affectionate remonstrance to the would-be colonist. Let me quote it, if
only that it may remind me of days long ago, when it was still possible
for a strong and tender friendship to exist between a Prussian and an

Bunsen points out to "young Tom" that he has only been eight or nine
months in the Colonial Office, not long enough to give it a fair trial;
that the drudgery of his clerkship will soon lead to more interesting
things; that his superiors speak well of him; above all, that he has no
money and no practical experience of farming, and that if he is going to
New Zealand in the hope of building up a purer society, he will soon
find himself bitterly disillusioned.

Pray, my dear young friend, do not reject the voice of a man of
nearly sixty years, who has made his way through life under much
greater difficulties perhaps than you imagine--who was your father's
dear friend--who feels deeply attached to all that bears the honored
and blessed name of Arnold--who in particular had _your father's
promise_ that he would allow me to offer to _you_, after I had seen
you in 1839, something of that care and friendship he had bestowed
upon Henry [Bunsen's own son]--do not reject the warning voice of
that man, if he entreats you solemnly not to take a _precipitate_
step. Give yourself time. Try a change of scene. Go for a month
or two to France or Germany. I am sure you wish to satisfy your
friends that you are acting wisely, considerately, in giving up
what you have.

_Spartam quam nactus es, orna_--was Niebuhr's word to me when once,
about 1825, wearied with diplomatic life, I resolved to throw up my
place and go--not to New Zealand, but to a German University. Let me
say that concluding word to you and believe me, my dear young friend,

Your sincere and affectionate friend


P.S.--If you feel disposed to have half an hour's quiet conversation
with me alone, pray come to-day at six o'clock, and then dine with us
quietly at half-past six. I go to-morrow to Windsor Castle for four

Nothing could have been kinder, nothing more truly felt and meant. But
the young make their own experience, and my father, with the smiling
open look which disarmed opposition, and disguised all the time a
certain stubborn independence of will, characteristic of him through
life, took his own way. He went to New Zealand, and, now that it was
done, the interest and sympathy of all his family and friends followed
him. Let me give here the touching letter which Arthur Stanley, his
father's biographer, wrote to him the night before he left England.

UNIV. COLL., OXFORD, _Nov. 4, 1847._

Farewell!--(if you will let me once again recur to a relation so long
since past away) farewell--my dearest, earliest, best of pupils. I
cannot let you go without asking you to forgive those many annoyances
which I fear I must have unconsciously inflicted upon you in the last
year of your Oxford life--nor without expressing the interest which I
feel, and shall I trust ever feel, beyond all that I can say, in your
future course. You know--or perhaps you hardly can know--how when I
came back to Oxford after the summer of 1842, your presence here was
to me the stay and charm of my life--how the walks--the lectures--the
Sunday evenings with you, filled up the void which had been left in
my interests[1], and endeared to me all the beginnings of my College
labors. That particular feeling, as is natural, has passed away--but
it may still be a pleasure to you to feel in your distant home that
whatever may be my occupations, nothing will more cheer and support
me through them than the belief that in that new world your dear
father's name is in you still loved and honored, and bringing forth
the fruits which he would have delighted to see.

Farewell, my dear friend. May God in whom you trust be with you.

Do not trouble yourself to answer this--only take it as the true
expression of one who often thinks how little he has done for you in
comparison with what he would.

Ever yours,


[Footnote 1: By the sudden death of Doctor Arnold.]

But, of course, the inevitable happened. After a few valiant but quite
futile attempts to clear his land with his own hands, or with the random
labor he could find to help him, the young colonist fell back on the
education he had held so cheap in England, and bravely took school-work
wherever in the rising townships of the infant colony he could find it.
Meanwhile his youth, his pluck, and his Oxford distinctions had
attracted the kindly notice of the Governor, Sir George Grey, who
offered him his private secretaryship--one can imagine the twinkle in
the Governor's eye, when he first came across my father building his own
hut on his section outside Wellington! The offer was gratefully refused.
But another year of New Zealand life brought reconsideration. The exile
begins to speak of "loneliness" in his letters home, to realize that it
is "collision" with other kindred minds that "kindles the spark of
thought," and presently, after a striking account of a solitary walk
across unexplored country in New Zealand, he confesses that he is not
sufficient for himself, and that the growth and vigor of the intellect
were, for him, at least, "not compatible with loneliness."

A few months later, Sir William Denison, the newly appointed Governor of
Van Diemen's Land, hearing that a son of Arnold of Rugby, an Oxford
First Class man, was in New Zealand, wrote to offer my father the task
of organizing primary education in Van Diemen's Land.

He accepted--yet not, I think, without a sharp sense of defeat at the
hands of Mother Earth!--set sail for Hobart, and took possession of a
post that might easily have led to great things. His father's fame
preceded him, and he was warmly welcomed. The salary was good and the
field free. Within a few months of his landing he was engaged to my
mother. They were married in 1850, and I, their eldest child, was born
in June, 1851.

And then the unexpected, the amazing thing happened. At the time of
their marriage, and for some time after, my mother, who had been brought
up in a Protestant "scriptural" atmosphere, and had been originally
drawn to the younger "Tom Arnold," partly because he was the son of his
father, as Stanley's _Life_ had now made the headmaster known to the
world, was a good deal troubled by the heretical views of her young
husband. She had some difficulty in getting him to consent to the
baptism of his elder children. He was still in many respects the Philip
of the "Bothie," influenced by Goethe, and the French romantics, by
Emerson, Kingsley, and Carlyle, and in touch still with all that
Liberalism of the later 'forties in Oxford, of which his most intimate
friend, Arthur Clough, and his elder brother, Matthew Arnold, were to
become the foremost representatives. But all the while, under the
surface, an extraordinary transformation was going on. He was never able
to explain it afterward, even to me, who knew him best of all his
children. I doubt whether he ever understood it himself. But he who had
only once crossed the High Street to hear Newman preach, and felt no
interest in the sermon, now, on the other side of the world, surrendered
to Newman's influence. It is uncertain if they had ever spoken to each
other at Oxford; yet that subtle pervasive intellect which captured for
years the critical and skeptical mind of Mark Pattison, and indirectly
transformed the Church of England after Newman himself had left it, now,
reaching across the world, laid hold on Arnold's son, when Arnold
himself was no longer there to fight it. A general reaction against the
negations and philosophies of his youth set in for "Philip," as
inevitable in his case as the revolt against St. Sulpice was for Ernest
Renan. For my father was in truth born for religion, as his whole later
life showed. In that he was the true son of Arnold of Rugby. But his
speculative Liberalism had carried him so much farther than his father's
had ever gone, that the recoil was correspondingly great. The steps of
it are dim. He was "struck" one Sunday with the "authoritative" tone of
the First Epistle of Peter. Who and what was Peter? What justified such
a tone? At another time he found a _Life of St. Brigit of Sweden_ at a
country inn, when he was on one of his school-inspecting journeys across
the island. And he records a mysterious influence or "voice" from it, as
he rode in meditative solitude through the sunny spaces of the Tasmanian
bush. Last of all, he "obtained"--from England, no doubt--the _Tracts
for the Times_. And as he went through them, the same documents, and the
same arguments, which had taken Newman to Rome, nine years before,
worked upon his late and distant disciple. But who can explain
"conversion"? Is it not enough to say, as was said of old, "The Holy
Ghost fell on them that believed"? The great "Malignant" had indeed
triumphed. In October, 1854, my father was received at Hobart, Tasmania,
into the Church of Rome; and two years later, after he had reached
England, and written to Newman asking the new Father of the Oratory to
receive him, Newman replied:

How strange it seems! What a world this is! I knew your father a
little, and I really think I never had any unkind feeling toward him.
I saw him at Oriel on the Purification before (I think) his death
(January, 1842). I was glad to meet him. If I said ever a harsh
thing against him I am very sorry for it. In seeing you, I should
have a sort of pledge that he at the moment of his death made it
all up with me. Excuse this. I came here last night, and it is so
marvelous to have your letter this morning.

So, for the moment, ended one incident in the long bout between two
noble fighters, Arnold and Newman, each worthy of the other's steel. For
my father, indeed, this act of surrender was but the beginning of a long
and troubled history. My poor mother felt as though the earth had
crumbled under her. Her passionate affection for my father endured till
her latest hour, but she never reconciled herself to what he had done.
There was in her an instinctive dread of Catholicism, of which I have
suggested some of the origins--ancestral and historical. It never
abated. Many years afterward, in writing _Helbeck of Bannisdale_, I drew
upon what I remembered of it in describing some traits in Laura
Fountain's inbred, and finally indomitable, resistance to the Catholic
claim upon the will and intellect of men.

And to this trial in the realm of religious feeling there were added all
the practical difficulties into which my father's action plunged her and
his children. The Tasmanian appointment had to be given up, for the
feeling in the colony was strongly anti-Catholic; and we came home, as I
have described, to a life of struggle, privation, and constant anxiety,
in which my mother suffered not only for herself, but for her children.

But, after all, there were bright spots. My father and mother were
young; my mother's eager, sympathetic temper brought her many friends;
and for us children, Fox How and its dear inmates opened a second home,
and new joys, which upon myself in particular left impressions never to
be effaced or undone. Let me try and describe that house and garden and
those who lived in it, as they were in 1856.



The gray-stone house stands now, as it stood then, on a "how" or rising
ground in the beautiful Westmorland valley leading from Ambleside to
Rydal. The "Doctor" built it as a holiday paradise for himself and his
children, in the year 1833. It is a modest building, with ten bedrooms
and three sitting-rooms. Its windows look straight into the heart of
Fairfield, the beautiful semicircular mountain which rears its hollowed
front and buttressing scaurs against the north, far above the green
floor of the valley. That the house looked north never troubled my
grandfather or his children. What they cared for was the perfect outline
of the mountain wall, the "pensive glooms," hovering in that deep breast
of Fairfield, the magic never-ending chase of sunlight and cloud across
it on fine days, and the beauty of the soft woodland clothing its base.
The garden was his children's joy as it became mine. Its little beck
with its mimic bridges, its encircling river, its rocky knolls, its wild
strawberries and wild raspberries, its queen of birch-trees rearing a
stately head against the distant mountain, its rhododendrons growing
like weeds on its mossy banks, its velvet turf, and long silky grass in
the parts left wild--all these things have made the joy of three

Inside, Fox How was comfortably spacious, and I remember what a palace
it appeared to my childish eyes, fresh from the tiny cabin of a 400-ton
sailing-ship, and the rough life of a colony. My grandmother, its
mistress, was then sixty-one. Her beautiful hair was scarcely touched
with gray, her complexion was still delicately clear, and her soft brown
eyes had the eager, sympathetic look of her Cornish race. Charlotte
Brontė, who saw her a few years earlier, while on a visit to Miss
Martineau, speaks of her as having been a "very pretty woman," and
credits her and her daughters with "the possession of qualities the most
estimable and endearing." In another letter, however, written to a less
familiar correspondent, to whom Miss Brontė, as the literary lady with a
critical reputation to keep up, expresses herself in a different and
more artificial tone, she again describes my grandmother as good and
charming, but doubts her claim to "power and completeness of character."
The phrase occurs in a letter describing a call at Fox How, and its
slight pomposity makes the contrast with the passage in which Matthew
Arnold describes the same visit the more amusing.

At seven came Miss Martineau, and Miss Brontė (Jane Eyre); talked to
Miss Martineau (who blasphemes frightfully) about the prospects of the
Church of England, and, wretched man that I am, promised to go and see
her cow-keeping miracles to-morrow, I who hardly know a cow from a
sheep. I talked to Miss Brontė (past thirty and plain, with expressive
gray eyes, though) of her curates, of French novels, and her education
in a school at Brussels, and sent the lions roaring to their dens at
half-past nine.

No one, indeed, would have applied the word "power" to my grandmother,
unless he had known her very well. The general impression was always one
of gentle sweetness and soft dignity. But the phrase, "completeness of
character," happens to sum up very well the impression left by her life
both on kindred and friends. What Miss Brontė exactly meant by it it is
difficult to say. But the widowed mother of nine children, five of them
sons, and all of them possessed of strong wills and quick intelligence,
who was able so to guide their young lives that to her last hour, thirty
years after her husband's death had left her alone with her task, she
possessed their passionate reverence and affection, and that each and
all of them would have acknowledged her as among the dearest and noblest
influences in their lives, can hardly be denied "completeness of
character." Many of her letters lie before me. Each son and daughter, as
he or she went out into the world, received them with the utmost
regularity. They knew that every incident in their lives interested
their mother; and they in their turn were eager to report to her
everything that came to them, happy or unhappy, serious or amusing. And
this relation of the family to their mother only grew and strengthened
with years. As the daughters married, their husbands became so many new
and devoted sons to this gentle, sympathetic, and yet firm-natured
woman. Nor were the daughters-in-law less attached to her, and the
grandchildren who in due time began to haunt Fox How. In my own life I
trace her letters from my earliest childhood, through my life at school,
to my engagement and marriage; and I have never ceased to feel a pang of
disappointment that she died before my children were born. Matthew
Arnold adored her, and wrote to her every week of his life. So did her
other children. William Forster, throughout his busy life in Parliament,
vied with her sons in tender consideration and unfailing loyalty. And
every grandchild thought of a visit to Fox How as not only a joy, but an
honor. Indeed, nothing could have been more "complete," more rounded,
than my grandmother's character and life as they developed through her
eighty-three years. She made no conspicuous intellectual claim, though
her quick intelligence, her wide sympathies, and clear judgment,
combined with something ardent and responsive in her temperament,
attracted and held able men; but her personality was none the less
strong because it was so gently, delicately served by looks and manner.

Perhaps the "completeness" of my grandmother's character will be best
illustrated by one of her family letters, a letter which may recall to
some readers Stevenson's delightful poem on the mother who sits at home,
watching the fledglings depart from the nest.

So from the hearth the children flee,
By that almighty hand
Austerely led; so one by sea
Goes forth, and one by land;
Nor aught of all-man's sons escapes from that command.

* * * * *

And as the fervent smith of yore
Beat out the glowing blade,
Nor wielded in the front of war
The weapons that he made,
But in the tower at home still plied his ringing trade;

So like a sword the son shall roam
On nobler missions sent;
And as the smith remained at home
In peaceful turret pent,
So sits the while at home the mother well content.

The letter was written to my father in New Zealand in the year 1848, as
a family chronicle. The brothers and sisters named in it are Walter, the
youngest of the family, a middy of fourteen, on board ship, and not very
happy in the Navy, which he was ultimately to leave for Durham
University and business; Willy, in the Indian Army, afterward the author
of _Oakfield_, a novel attacking the abuses of Anglo-Indian life, and
the first Director of Public Instruction in the Punjab--commemorated by
his poet brother in "A Southern Night"; Edward, at Oxford; Mary, the
second daughter, who at the age of twenty-two had been left a widow
after a year of married life; and Fan, the youngest daughter of the
flock, who now, in 1917, alone represents them in the gray house under
the fells. The little Westmorland farm described is still exactly as it
was; and has still a Richardson for master, though of a younger
generation. And Rydal Chapel, freed now from the pink cement which
clothed it in those days, and from the high pews familiar to the
children of Fox How, still sends the cheerful voice of its bells through
the valley on Sunday mornings.

The reader will remember, as he reads it, that he is in the troubled
year of 1848, with Chartism at home and revolution abroad. The "painful
interest" with which the writer has read Clough's "Bothie" refers, I
think, to the fact that she has recognized her second son, my father, as
to some extent the hero of the poem.

Fox How, _Nov. 19, 1848._

My Dearest Tom,--... I am always intending to send you something
like a regular journal, but twenty days of the month have now passed
away, and it is not done. Dear Matt, who was with us at the
beginning, and who I think bore a part in our last letters to you,
has returned to his post in London, and I am not without hope of
hearing by to-morrow's post that he has run down to Portsmouth to
see Walter before he sails on a cruise with the Squadron, which I
believe he was to do to-day. But I should think they would hardly
leave Port in such dirty weather, when the wind howls and the rain
pours, and the whole atmosphere is thick and lowering as I suppose
you rarely or never see it in New Zealand. I wish the more that
Matt may get down to Spithead, because the poor little man has been
in a great ferment about leaving his Ship and going into a smaller
one. By the same post I had a letter from him, and from Captain
Daws, who had been astonished and grieved by Walter's coming to him
and telling him he wished to leave the ship. It was evident that
Captain D. was quite distressed about it.

She then discusses, very shrewdly and quietly, the reasons for her boy's
restlessness, and how best to meet it. The letter goes on:

Certainly there is great comfort in having him with so true and good
a friend as Captain D. and I could not feel justified in acting
against his counsel. But as he gets to know Walter better, I think
it very likely that he will himself think it better for him to be in
some ship not so likely to stay about in harbor as the _St. Vincent_;
and will judge that with a character like his it might be better for
him to be on some more distant stations.

I write about all this as coolly as if he were not my own dear
youngest born, the little dear son whom I have so cherished, and who
was almost a nursling still, when the bond which kept us all together
was broken. But I believe I do truly feel that if my beloved sons are
good and worthy of the name they bear, are in fact true, earnest,
Christian men, I have no wish left for them--no selfish longings
after their companionship, which can for a moment be put in
comparison with such joy. Thus it almost seemed strange to me when,
in a letter the other day from Willy to Edward, in reference to
his--E's--future destination--Willy rather urged upon him a home,
domestic life, on _my_ account, as my sons were already so scattered.
As I say, those loving words seemed strange to me; because I have
such an overpowering feeling that the all-in-all to me is that my
sons should be in just that vocation in life most suited to them,
and most bringing out what is highest and best in them; whether it
might be in England, or at the furthest extremity of the world.

* * * * *

_November 24, 1848._--I have been unwell for some days, dearest Tom,
and this makes me less active in all my usual employments, but it
shall not, if I can help it, prevent my making some progress in this
letter, which in less than a week may perhaps be on its way to New
Zealand. I have just sent Fan down-stairs, for she nurses her Mother
till I begin to think some change good for her. She has been reading
aloud to me, and now, as the evening advances I have asked some of
them to read to me a long poem by Clough--(the "Bothie") which I
have no doubt will reach you. It does not _look_ attractive to me,
for it is in English Hexameters, which are to me very cumbrous and
uninviting; but probably that may be for some want of knowledge in
my own ear and taste. The poem is addressed to his pupils of last
summer, and in scenery, etc., will have, I suppose, many touches
from his Highland residence; but, in a brief Preface, he says that
the tale itself is altogether fiction.

* * * * *

To turn from things domestic to things at large, what a state of
things is this at Berlin! a state of siege declared, and the King at
open issue with his representatives!--from the country districts,
people flocking to give him aid, while the great towns are almost in
revolt. "Always too late" might, I suppose, have been his motto; and
when things have been given with one hand, he has seemed too ready
to withdraw them with the other. But, after all, I must and do
believe that he has noble qualities, so to have won Bunsen's love
and respect.

_November 25._--Mary is preparing a long letter, and it will
therefore matter the less if mine is not so long as I intended. I
have not yet quite made up the way I have lost in my late
indisposition, and we have such volumes of letters from dear Willy
to answer, that I believe this folio will be all I can send to you,
my own darling; but you do not dwell in my heart or my thoughts
less fondly. I long inexpressibly to have some definite ideas of
what you are now--after some eight months of residence--doing,
thinking, feeling; what are your occupations in the present, what
your aims and designs for the future. The assurance that it is
your first and heartful desire to please God, my dear son; that
you have struggled to do this and not allowed yourself to shrink
from whatever you felt to be involved in it, this is, and will be
my deepest and dearest comfort, and I pray to Him to guide you
into all truth. But though supported by this assurance, I do not
pretend to say that often and often I do not yearn over you in
my thoughts, and long to bestow upon you in act and word, as
well as in thought, some of that overflowing love which is
cherished for you in your home.

And here follows a tender mother-word in reference to an early and
unrequited attachment of my father's, the fate of which may possibly
have contributed to the restlessness which sent him beyond the seas.

But, dear Tom, I believe that though the hoped for flower and fruit
have faded, yet that the plant has been strengthened and
purified.... It would be a grief to me not to believe that you
will yet be most happy in married life; and when you can make to
yourself a home I shall perhaps lose some of my restless longing
to be near you and ministering to your comfort, and sharing in
your life--if I can think of you as cheered and helped by one
who loved you as I did your own beloved father.

_Sunday, November 26._--Just a year, my son, since you left England!
But I really must not allow myself to dwell on this, and all the
thoughts it brings with it; for I found last night that the contrast
between the fulness of thought and feeling, and my own powerlessness
to express it weighed on me heavily; and not having yet quite
recovered my usual tone, I could not well bear it. So I will just
try to collect for you a few more home Memoranda, and then have
done.... Our new tenant, James Richardson, is now fairly established
at his farm, and when I went up there and saw the cradle and the
happy childish faces around the table, and the rows of oatmeal cake
hanging up, and the cheerful, active Mother going hither and
thither--now to her Dairy--now guiding the steps of the little one
that followed her about--and all the time preparing things for her
husband's return from his work at night, I could not but feel that
it was a very happy picture of English life. Alas! that there are
not larger districts where it exists! But I hope there is still much
of it; and I feel that while there is an awful undercurrent of
misery and sin--the latter both caused by the first and causing
it--and while, on the surface, there is carelessness, and often
recklessness and hardness and trifling, yet that still, in our
English society, there is, between these two extremes, a strength
of good mixed with baser elements, which must and will, I fully
believe, support us nationally in the troublous times which are
at hand--on which we are actually entered.

But again I am wandering, and now the others have gone off to the
Rydal Chapel without me this lovely Sunday morning. There are the
bells sounding invitingly across the valley, and the evergreens
are white and sparkling in the sun.

I have a note from Clough.... His poem is as remarkable, I think,
as you would expect, coming from him. Its _power_ quite overcame
my dislike to the measure--so far at least as to make me read it
with great interest--often, though, a painful one. And now I
must end.

As to Miss Brontė's impressions of Matthew Arnold in that same afternoon
call of 1850, they were by no means flattering. She understands that he
was already the author of "a volume of poems" (_The Poems by A,_ 1849),
remarks that his manner "displeases from its seeming foppery," but
recognizes, nevertheless, in conversation with him, "some genuine
intellectual aspirations"! It was but a few years later that my uncle
paid his poet's homage to the genius of the two sisters--to Charlotte of
the "expressive gray eyes"--to Emily of the "chainless soul." I often
try to picture their meeting in the Fox How drawing-room: Matthew
Arnold, tall, handsome, in the rich opening of his life, his first
poetic honors thick upon him, looking with a half-critical,
half-humorous eye at the famous little lady whom Miss Martineau had
brought to call upon his mother; and beside him that small, intrepid
figure, on which the worst storms of life had already beaten, which was
but five short years from its own last rest. I doubt whether, face to
face, they would ever have made much of each other. But the sister who
could write of a sister's death as Charlotte wrote, in the letter that
every lover of great prose ought to have by heart--

Emily suffers no more from pain or weakness now, she never will
suffer more in this world. She is gone, after a hard, short
conflict.... We are very calm at present, why should we be
otherwise? The anguish of seeing her suffer is over; the
spectacle of the pains of death is gone; the funeral day is
past. We feel she is at peace. No need now to tremble for the
hard frost and the keen wind. _Emily does not feel them_.--

must have stretched out spiritual hands to Matthew Arnold, had she lived
to read "A Southern Night"--that loveliest, surely, of all laments of
brother for brother.



Doctor Arnold's eldest daughter, Jane Arnold, afterward Mrs. W.E.
Forster, my godmother, stands out for me on the tapestry of the past, as
one of the noblest personalities I have ever known. She was twenty-one
when her father died, and she had been his chief companion among his
children for years before death took him from her. He taught her Latin
and Greek, he imbued her with his own political and historical
interests, and her ardent Christian faith answered to his own. After his
death she was her mother's right hand at Fox How; and her letters to her
brothers--to my father, especially, since he was longest and farthest
away--show her quick and cultivated mind, and all the sweetness of her
nature. We hear of her teaching a younger brother Latin and Greek; she
goes over to Miss Martineau on the other side of the valley to translate
some German for that busy woman; she reads Dante beside her mother, when
the rest of the family have gone to bed; she sympathizes passionately
with Mazzini and Garibaldi; and every week she walks over Loughrigg
through fair weather and foul, summer and winter, to teach in a night
school at Skelwith. Then the young Quaker manufacturer, William Forster,
appears on the scene, and she falls happily and completely in love. Her
letters to the brother in New Zealand become, in a moment, all joy and
ardor, and nothing could be prettier than the account, given by one of
the sisters, of the quiet wedding in Rydal Chapel, the family breakfast,
the bride's simple dress and radiant look, Matthew Arnold giving his
sister away--with the great fells standing sentinel. And there exists a
delightful unpublished letter by Harriet Martineau which gives some idea
of the excitement roused in the quiet Ambleside valley by Jane Arnold's
engagement to the tall Yorkshireman who came from surroundings so
different from the academic and scholarly world in which the Arnolds had
been brought up.

Then followed married life at Rawdon near Bradford, with supreme
happiness at home, and many and growing interests in the manufacturing,
religious, and social life around the young wife. In 1861 William
Forster became member for Bradford, and in 1869 Gladstone included him
in that Ministry of all the talents, which foundered under the
onslaughts of Disraeli in 1874. Forster became Vice-President of the
Council, which meant Minister for Education, with a few other trifles
like the cattle-plague thrown in. The Education Bill, which William
Forster brought in in 1870 (as a girl of eighteen, I was in the Ladies'
Gallery of the House of Commons on the great day to hear his speech),
has been the foundation-stone ever since of English popular education.
It has always been clear to me that the scheme of the bill was largely
influenced by William Forster's wife, and, through her, by the
convictions and beliefs of her father. The compromise by which the
Church schools, with the creeds and the Church catechism, were
preserved, under a conscience clause, while the dissenters got their way
as to the banishment of creeds and catechisms, and the substitution for
them of "simple Bible-teaching," in the schools founded under the new
School Boards, which the bill set up all over England, has
practically--with, of course, modifications--held its ground for nearly
half a century. It was illogical; and the dissenters have never ceased
to resent the perpetuation of the Church school which it achieved. But
English life is illogical. It met the real situation; and it would never
have taken the shape it did--in my opinion--but for the ardent beliefs
of the young and remarkable woman, at once a strong Liberal and a
devoted daughter of the English Church, as Arnold, Kingsley, and Maurice
understood it, who had married her Quaker husband in 1850, and had
thereby been the innocent cause of his automatic severance from the
Quaker body. His respect for her judgment and intellectual power was
only equaled by his devotion to her. And when the last great test of his
own life came, how she stood by him!--through those terrible days of the
Land League struggle, when, as Chief Secretary for Ireland, Forster
carried his life in his hand month after month, to be worn out finally
by the double toil of Parliament and Ireland, and to die just before Mr.
Gladstone split the Liberal party in 1886, by the introduction of the
Home Rule Bill, in which Forster would not have followed him.

I shall, however, have something to say later on in these Reminiscences
about those tragic days. To those who watched Mrs. Forster through them,
and who knew her intimately, she was one of the most interesting figures
of that crowded time. Few people, however, outside the circle of her
kindred, knew her intimately. She was, of course, in the ordinary social
and political world, both before and after her husband's entrance upon
office, and admission to the Cabinet; dining out and receiving at home;
attending Drawing-rooms and public functions; staying at country houses,
and invited to Windsor, like other Ministers' wives, and keenly
interested in all the varying fortunes of Forster's party. But though
she was in that world, she was never truly of it. She moved through it,
yet veiled from it, by that pure, unconscious selflessness which is the
saint's gift. Those who ask nothing for themselves, whose whole strength
is spent on affections that are their life, and on ideals at one with
their affections, are not easily popular, like the self-seeking,
parti-colored folk who make up the rest of us; who flatter, caress, and
court, that we in our turn may be flattered and courted. Their
gentleness masks the indomitable soul within; and so their fellows are
often unaware of their true spiritual rank.

It is interesting to recall the instinctive sympathy with which a nature
so different from Charlotte Brontė's as that of Arnold's eldest
daughter, met the challenge of the Brontė genius. It would not have been
wonderful--in those days--if the quiet Fox How household, with its
strong religious atmosphere, its daily psalms and lessons, its love for
_The Christian Year_, its belief in "discipline" (how that comes out in
all the letters!) had been repelled by the blunt strength of _Jane
Eyre_; just as it would not have been wonderful if they had held aloof
from Miss Martineau, in the days when it pleased that remarkable woman
to preach mesmeric atheism, or atheistic mesmerism, as we choose to put
it. But there was a lifelong friendship between them and Harriet
Martineau; and they recognized at once the sincerity and truth--the
literary rank, in fact--of _Jane Eyre_. Not long after her marriage,
Jane Forster with her husband went over to Haworth to see Charlotte
Brontė. My aunt's letter, describing the visit to the dismal parsonage
and church, is given without her name in Mrs. Gaskell's _Life_, and Mr.
Shorter, in reprinting it in the second of his large volumes, does not
seem to be aware of the identity of the writer.

Miss Brontė put me so in mind of her own Jane Eyre [wrote my
godmother]. She looked smaller than ever, and moved about so
quietly and noiselessly, just like a little bird, as Rochester
called her; except that all birds are joyous, and that joy can
never have entered that house since it was built. And yet, perhaps,
when that old man (Mr. Brontė) married and took home his bride,
and children's voices and feet were heard about the house, even
that desolate graveyard and biting blast could not quench
cheerfulness and hope. Now (i.e. since the deaths of Emily and
Anne) there is something touching in the sight of that little
creature entombed in such a place, and moving about herself there
like a spirit; especially when you think that the slight still
frame incloses a force of strong, fiery life, which nothing has
been able to freeze or extinguish.

This letter was written before my birth and about six years before the
writer of it appeared, as an angel of help, in the dingy dock-side inn,
where we tired travelers had taken shelter on our arrival from the other
side of the world, and where I was first kissed by my godmother. As I
grew up into girlhood, "Aunt K." (K. was the pet name by which Matthew
Arnold always wrote to her) became for me part of the magic of Fox How,
though I saw her, of course, often in her own home also. I felt toward
her a passionate and troubled affection. She was to me "a thing enskied"
and heavenly--for all her quick human interests, and her sweet ways with
those she loved. How could any one be so good!--was often the despairing
reflection of the child who adored her, caught herself in the toils of a
hot temper and a stubborn will; but all the same, to see her enter a
room was joy, and to sit by her the highest privilege. I don't know
whether she could be strictly called beautiful. But to me everything
about her was beautiful--her broad brow, her clear brown eyes and wavy
brown hair, the touch of stately grace with which she moved, the mouth
so responsive and soft, yet, at need, so determined, the hand so
delicate, yet so characteristic.

She was the eldest of nine. Of her relation to the next of them--her
brother Matthew--there are many indications in the collection of my
uncle's letters, edited by Mr. George Russell. It was to her that
"Resignation" was addressed, in recollection of their mountain walks and
talks together; and in a letter to her, the Sonnet "To Shakespeare,"
"Others abide our question--thou art free," was first written out. Their
affection for each other, in spite of profound differences of opinion,
only quickened and deepened with time.

Between my father and his elder brother Matthew Arnold there was barely
a year's difference of age. The elder was born in December, 1822, and
the younger in November, 1823. They were always warmly attached to each
other, and in spite of much that was outwardly divergent--sharply
divergent--they were more alike fundamentally than was often suspected.
Both had derived from some remoter ancestry--possibly through their
Cornish mother, herself the daughter of a Penrose and a
Trevenen--elements and qualities which were lacking in the strong
personality of their father. Imagination, "rebellion against fact,"
spirituality, a tendency to dream, unworldliness, the passionate love of
beauty and charm, "ineffectualness" in the practical competitive
life--these, according to Matthew Arnold, when he came to lecture at
Oxford on "The Study of Celtic Literature," were and are the
characteristic marks of the Celt. They were unequally distributed
between the two brothers. "Unworldliness," "rebellion against fact,"
"ineffectualness" in common life, fell rather to my father's share than
my uncle's; though my uncle's "worldliness," of which he was sometimes
accused, if it ever existed, was never more than skin-deep. Imagination
in my father led to a lifelong and mystical preoccupation with religion;
it made Matthew Arnold one of the great poets of the nineteenth century.

There is a sketch of my father made in 1847, which preserves the dreamy,
sensitive look of early youth, when he was the center of a band of
remarkable friends--Clough, Stanley, F.T. Palgrave, Alfred Domett
(Browning's Waring), and others. It is the face--nobly and delicately
cut--of one to whom the successes of the practical, competitive life
could never be of the same importance as those events which take place
in thought, and for certain minds are the only real events. "For ages
and ages the world has been constantly slipping ever more and more out
of the Celt's grasp," wrote Matthew Arnold. But all the while the Celt
has great compensations. To him belongs another world than the visible;
the world of phantasmagoria, of emotion, the world of passionate
beginnings, rather than of things achieved. After the romantic and
defiant days of his youth, my father, still pursuing the same natural
tendency, found all that he needed in Catholicism, and specially, I
think, in that endless poetry and mystery of the Mass which keeps
Catholicism alive.

Matthew Arnold was very different in outward aspect. The face, strong
and rugged, the large mouth, the broad lined brow, and vigorous
coal-black hair, bore no resemblance, except for that fugitive yet
vigorous something which we call "family likeness," to either his father
or mother--still less to the brother so near to him in age. But the
Celtic trace is there, though derived, I have sometimes thought, rather
from an Irish than a Cornish source. Doctor Arnold's mother, Martha
Delafield, according to a genealogy I see no reason to doubt, was partly
of Irish blood; one finds, at any rate, Fitzgeralds and Dillons among
the names of her forebears. And I have seen in Ireland faces belonging
to the "black Celt" type--faces full of power and humor, and softness,
visibly molded out of the good common earth by the nimble spirit within,
which have reminded me of my uncle. Nothing, indeed, at first sight
could have been less romantic or dreamy than his outer aspect.
"Ineffectualness" was not to be thought of in connection with him. He
stood four-square--a courteous, competent man of affairs, an admirable
inspector of schools, a delightful companion, a guest whom everybody
wanted and no one could bind for long; one of the sanest, most
independent, most cheerful and lovable of mortals. Yet his poems show
what was the real inner life and genius of the man; how rich in that
very "emotion," "love of beauty and charm," "rebellion against fact,"
"spirituality," "melancholy" which he himself catalogued as the cradle
gifts of the Celt. Crossed, indeed, always, with the Rugby
"earnestness," with that in him which came to him from his father.

It is curious to watch the growing perception of "Matt's" powers among
the circle of his nearest kin, as it is reflected in these family
letters to the emigrant brother, which reached him across the seas from
1847 to 1856, and now lie under my hand. The _Poems by A._ came out, as
all lovers of English poetry know, in 1849. My grandmother writes to my
father in March of that year, after protesting that she has not much
news to give him:

But the little volume of Poems!--that is indeed a subject of new and
very great interest. By degrees we hear more of public opinion
concerning them, and I am very much mistaken if their power both in
thought and execution is not more and more felt and acknowledged. I
had a letter from dear Miss Fenwick to-day, whose first impressions
were that they were by _you_, for it seems she had heard of the
volume as much admired, and as by one of the family, and she had
hardly thought it could be by one so moving in the busy haunts of
men as dear Matt.... Matt himself says: "I have learned a good
deal as to what is _practicable_ from the objections of people,
even when I thought them not reasonable, and in some degree they
may determine my course as to publishing; e.g., I had thoughts of
publishing another volume of short poems next spring, and a tragedy
I have long had in my head, the spring after: at present I shall
leave the short poems to take their chance, only writing them
when I cannot help it, and try to get on with my Tragedy
('Merope'), which however will not be a very quick affair. But as
that must be in a regular and usual form, it may perhaps, if it
succeeds, enable me to use meters in short poems which seem proper to
myself; whether they suit the habits of readers at first sight or
not. But all this is rather vague at present.... I think I am
getting quite indifferent about the book. I have given away the
only copy I had, and now never look at them. The most enthusiastic
people about them are young men of course; but I have heard of one
or two people who found pleasure in 'Resignation,' and poems of
that stamp, which is what I like."

"The most enthusiastic people about them are young men, of course." The
sentence might stand as the motto of all poetic beginnings. The young
poet writes first of all for the young of his own day. They make his
bodyguard. They open to him the gates of the House of Fame. But if the
divine power is really his, it soon frees itself from the shackles of
Time and Circumstance. The true poet becomes, in the language of the
Greek epigram on Homer, "the ageless mouth of all the world." And if,
"The Strayed Reveller," and the Sonnet "To Shakespeare," and
"Resignation," delighted those who were young in 1849, that same
generation, as the years passed over it, instead of outgrowing their
poet, took him all the more closely to their hearts. Only so can we
explain the steady spread and deepening of his poetic reputation which
befell my uncle up to the very end of his life, and had assured him by
then--leaving out of count the later development of his influence both
in the field of poetry and elsewhere--his place in the history of
English literature.

But his entry as a poet was gradual, and but little heralded, compared
to the debuts of our own time. Here is an interesting appreciation from
his sister Mary, about whom I shall have more to say presently. At the
time this letter was written, in 1849, she was twenty-three, and already
a widow, after a tragic year of married life during which her young
husband had developed paralysis of the brain. She was living in London,
attending Bedford College, and F.D. Maurice's sermons, much influenced,
like her brothers, by Emerson and Carlyle, and at this moment a fine,
restless, immature creature, much younger than her years in some
respects, and much older in others--with worlds hitherto unsuspected in
the quiet home life. She writes:

I have been in London for several months this year, and I have seen a
good deal of Matt, considering the very different lives we lead. I
used to breakfast with him sometimes, and then his Poems seemed to
make me know Matt so much better than I had ever done before.
Indeed it was almost like a new Introduction to him. I do not
think those Poems could be read--quite independently of their
poetical power--without leading one to expect a great deal from
Matt; without raising I mean the kind of expectation one has from
and for those who have, in some way or other, come face to face
with life and asked it, in real earnest, what it means. I felt
there was so much more of this practical questioning in Matt's
book than I was at all prepared for; in fact that it showed a
knowledge of life and conflict which was _strangely like experience_
if it was not the thing itself; and this with all Matt's great
power I should not have looked for. I do not yet know the book
well, but I think that "Mycerinus" struck me most, perhaps, as
illustrating what I have been speaking of.

And again, to another member of the family:

It is the moral strength, or, at any rate, the _moral consciousness_
which struck and surprised me so much in the poems. I could have been
prepared for any degree of poetical power, for there being a great
deal more than I could at all appreciate; but there is something
altogether different from this, something which such a man as
Clough has, for instance, which I did not expect to find in Matt;
but it is there. Of course when I speak of his Poems I only speak
of the impression received from those I understand. Some are
perfect riddles to me, such as that to the Child at Douglas, which
is surely more poetical than true.

_Strangely like experience!_ The words are an interesting proof of the
difficulty we all have in seeing with accuracy the persons and things
which are nearest to us. The astonishment of the sisters--for the same
feeling is expressed by Mrs. Forster--was very natural. In these early
days, "Matt" often figures in the family letters as the worldling of the
group--the dear one who is making way in surroundings quite unknown to
the Fox How circle, where, under the shadow of the mountains, the
sisters, idealists all of them, looking out a little austerely, for all
their tenderness, on the human scene, are watching with a certain
anxiety lest Matt should be "spoiled." As Lord Lansdowne's private
secretary, very much liked by his chief, he goes among rich and
important people, and finds himself, as a rule, much cleverer than they;
above all, able to amuse them, so often the surest road to social and
other success. Already at Oxford "Matt" had been something of an
exquisite--or, as Miss Brontė puts it, a trifle "foppish"; and (in the
manuscript) _Fox How Magazine_, to which all the nine contributed, and
in which Matthew Arnold's boyish poems may still be read, there are many
family jests leveled at Matt's high standard in dress and deportment.

But how soon the nascent dread lest their poet should be somehow
separated from them by the "great world" passes away from mother and
sisters--forever! With every year of his life Matthew Arnold, besides
making the sunshine of his own married home, became a more attached, a
more devoted son and brother. The two volumes of his published letters
are there to show it. I will only quote here a sentence from a letter of
Mrs. Arnold's, written in 1850, a year after the publication of the
_Poems by A._ She and her eldest daughter, then shortly to become
William Forster's wife, were at the time in London. "K" had been
seriously ill, and the marriage had been postponed for a short time.

Matt [says Mrs. Arnold] has been with us almost every day since we
came up--now so long ago!--and it is pleasant indeed to see his
dear face, and to find him always so affectionate, and so
unspoiled by his being so much sought after in a kind of society
entirely different from anything we can enter into.

But, indeed, the time saved, day after day, for an invalid sister, by a
run-after young man of twenty-seven, who might so easily have made one
or other of the trifling or selfish excuses we are all so ready to make,
was only a prophecy of those many "nameless unremembered acts" of simple
kindness which filled the background of Matthew Arnold's middle and
later life, and were not revealed, many of them, even to his own people,
till after his death--kindness to a pupil-teacher, an unsuccessful
writer, a hard-worked schoolmaster or schoolmistress, a budding poet, a
school-boy. It was not possible to "spoil" Matthew Arnold. Meredith's
"Comic Spirit" in him, his irrepressible humor, would alone have saved
him from it. And as to his relation to "society," and the great ones in
it, no one more frankly amused himself--within certain very definite
limits--with the "cakes and ale" of life, and no one held more lightly
to them. He never denied--none but the foolish ever do deny--the immense
personal opportunities and advantages of an aristocratic class, wherever
it exists. He was quite conscious--none but those without imagination
can fail to be conscious--of the glamour of long descent and great
affairs. But he laughed at the "Barbarians," the materialized or stupid
holders of power and place, and their "fortified posts"--i.e., the
country houses--just as he laughed at the Philistines and Mr. Bottles;
when he preached a sermon in later life, it was on Menander's motto,
"Choose Equality"; and he and Clough--the Republican--were not really
far apart. He mocked even at Clough, indeed, addressing his letters to
him, "Citizen Clough, Oriel Lyceum, Oxford"; but in the midst of the
revolutionary hubbub of 1848 he pours himself out to Clough only--he and
"Thyrsis," to use his own expression in a letter, "agreeing like two
lambs in a world of wolves," and in his early sonnet (1848) "To a
Republican Friend" (who was certainly Clough) he says:

If sadness at the long heart-wasting show
Wherein earth's great ones are disquieted;
If thoughts, not idle, while before me flow

The armies of the homeless and unfed--
If these are yours, if this is what you are,
Then I am yours, and what you feel, I share.

Yet, as he adds, in the succeeding sonnet, he has no belief in sudden
radical change, nor in any earthly millennium--

Seeing this vale, this earth, whereon we dream,
Is on all sides o'ershadowed by the high
Uno'erleaped mountains of necessity,
Sparing us narrower margin than we dream.

On the eagerness with which Matthew Arnold followed the revolutionary
spectacle of 1848, an unpublished letter written--piquantly
enough!--from Lansdowne House itself, on February 28th, in that famous
year, to my father in New Zealand, throws a vivid light. One feels the
artist in the writer. First, the quiet of the great house and courtyard,
the flower-pricked grass, the "still-faced babies"; then the sudden
clash of the street-cries! "Your uncle's description of this house,"
writes the present Lord Lansdowne, in 1910, "might almost have been
written yesterday, instead of in 1848. Little is changed, Romulus and
Remus and the she-wolf are still on the top of the bookcase, and the
clock is still hard by; but the picture of the Jewish Exiles...has been
given to a local School of Art in Wiltshire! The green lawn remains, but
I am afraid the crocuses, which I can remember as a child, no longer
come up through the turf. And lastly one of the 'still-faced babies'
[i.e., Lord Lansdowne himself] is still often to be seen in the gravel
court! He was three years old when the letter was written."

Here, then, is the letter:

LANSDOWNE HOUSE, _Feb. 8, 1848._

MY DEAREST TOM,--...Here I sit, opposite a marble group of Romulus
and Remus and the wolf; the two children fighting like mad, and
the limp-uddered she-wolf affectionately snarling at the little
demons struggling on her back. Above it is a great picture,
Rembrandt's Jewish Exiles, which would do for Consuelo and Albert
resting in one of their wanderings, worn out upon a wild stony
heath sloping to the Baltic--she leaning over her two children
who sleep in their torn rags at her feet. Behind me a most musical
clock, marking now 24 Minutes past 1 P.M. On my left two great
windows looking out on the court in front of the house, through
one of which, slightly opened, comes in gushes the soft damp
breath, with a tone of spring-life in it, which the close of an
English February sometimes brings--so different from a November
mildness. The green lawn which occupies nearly half the court is
studded over with crocuses of all colors--growing out of the grass,
for there are no flower-beds; delightful for the large still-faced
white-robed babies whom their nurses carry up and down on the
gravel court where it skirts the green. And from the square and
the neighboring streets, through the open door whereat the civil
porter moves to and fro, come the sounds of vehicles and men, in
all gradations, some from near and some from far, but mellowed by
the time they reach this backstanding lordly mansion.

But above all cries comes one whereat every stone in this and other
lordly mansions may totter and quake for fear:

"Se...c...ond Edition of the Morning _Herald_--L...a...test news from
Paris:--arrival of the King of the French."

I have gone out and bought the said portentous _Herald_, and send it
herewith, that you may read and know. As the human race forever
stumbles up its great steps, so it is now. You remember the Reform
Banquets [in Paris] last summer?--well!--the diners omitted the
king's health, and abused Guizot's majority as corrupt and servile:
the majority and the king grew excited; the Government forbade the
Banquets to continue. The king met the Chamber with the words
"_passions aveugles_" to characterize the dispositions of the
Banqueters: and Guizot grandly declared against the spirit of
Revolution all over the world. His practice suited his words, or
seemed to suit them, for both in Switzerland and Italy, the French
Government incurred the charge of siding against the Liberals. Add
to this the corruption cases you remember, the Praslin murder, and
later events, which powerfully stimulated the disgust (moral
indignation that People does not feel!) entertained by the lower
against the governing class.

Then Thiers, seeing the breeze rising, and hoping to use it, made
most telling speeches in the debate on the Address, clearly
defining the crisis as a question between revolution and
counter-revolution, and declaring enthusiastically for the
former. Lamartine and others, the sentimental and the plain honest,
were very damaging on the same side. The Government were harsh--
abrupt--almost scornful. They would not yield--would not permit
banquets: would give no Reform till they chose. Guizot spoke
(alone in the Chamber, I think) to this effect. With decreasing
Majorities the Government carried the different clauses of the
address, amidst furious scenes; opposition members crying that they
were worse than Polignac. It was resolved to hold an Opposition
banquet in Paris in spite of the Government, last Tuesday, the 22d.
In the week between the close of the debate and this day there was
a profound, uneasy excitement, but nothing I think to appall the
rulers. They had the fortifications; all kinds of stores; and
100,000 troops of the line. To be quite secure, however, they
determined to take a formal legal objection to the banquet at the
doors; but not to prevent the procession thereto. On that the
Opposition published a proclamation inviting the National Guard,
who sympathized, to form part of the procession in uniform. Then
the Government forbade the meeting altogether--absolutely--and
the Opposition resigned themselves to try the case in a Court of Law.

_So did not the people!_

They gathered all over Paris: the National Guard, whom Ministers did
not trust, were not called out: the Line checked and dispersed the
mob on all points. But next day the mob were there again: the
Ministers in a constitutional fright called out the National Guard:
a body of these hard by the Opéra refused to clear the street, they
joined the people. Troops were brought up: the Mob and the National
Guard refused to give them passage down the Rue le Pelletier, which
they occupied: after a moment's hesitation, they were marched on
along the Boulevard.

This settled the matter! Everywhere the National Guard fraternized
with the people: the troops stood indifferent. The King dismissed
the Ministers: he sent for Molé; a shade better: not enough: he
sent for Thiers--a pause; this was several shades better--still
not enough: meanwhile the crowd continued, and attacks on different
posts, with slight bloodshed, increased the excitement: finally
_the King abdicated_ in favor of the Count of Paris, and fled. The
Count of Paris was taken by his mother to the Chamber--the people
broke in; too late--not enough:--a republic--an appeal to the
people. The royal family escaped to all parts, Belgium, Eu,
England: _a Provisional Government named_.

You will see how they stand: they have adopted the last measures of
Revolution.--News has just come that the National Guard have declared
against a Republic, and that a collision is inevitable.

If possible I will write by the next mail, and send you a later paper
than the _Herald_ by this mail.

Your truly affectionate, dearest Tom,


To this let me add here two or three other letters or fragments, all
unpublished, which I find among the papers from which I have been
drawing, ending, for the present, with the jubilant letter describing
his election to the Poetry Professorship at Oxford, in 1857. Here, first
of all, is an amusing reference, dated 1849, to Keble, then the idol of
every well-disposed Anglican household:

I dined last night with a Mr. Grove,[1] a celebrated man of science:
his wife is pretty and agreeable, but not on a first interview. The
husband and I agree wonderfully on some points. He is a bad sleeper,
and hardly ever free from headache; he equally dislikes and
disapproves of modern existence and the state of excitement in
which everybody lives: and he sighs after a paternal despotism
and the calm existence of a Russian or Asiatic. He showed me a
picture of Faraday, which is wonderfully fine: I am almost inclined
to get it: it has a curious likeness to Keble, only with a calm,
earnest look unlike the latter's Flibbertigibbet, fanatical,
twinkling expression.

[Footnote 1: Afterward Sir William Grove, F.R.S., author of the famous
essay on "The Correlation of Physical Force."]

Did ever anybody apply such adjectives to John Keble before! Yet if any
one will look carefully at the engraving of Keble so often seen in quiet
parsonages, they will understand, I think, exactly what Matthew Arnold

In 1850 great changes came upon the Arnold family. The "Doctor's" elder
three children--Jane, Matthew, and my father--married in that year, and
a host of new interests sprang up for every member of the Fox How
circle. I find in a letter to my father from Arthur Stanley, his
father's biographer, and his own Oxford tutor, the following reference
to "Matt's" marriage, and to the second series of Poems--containing
"Sohrab and Rustum"--which were published in 1854. "You will have
heard," writes Stanley, "of the great success of Matt's poems. He is in
good heart about them. He is also--I must say so, though perhaps I have
no right to say so--greatly improved by his marriage--retaining all the
genius and nobleness of mind which you remember, with all the lesser
faults pruned and softened down." Matt himself wrote to give news of his
wedding, to describe the bride--Judge Wightman's daughter, the dear and
gracious little lady whom we grandchildren knew and loved as "Aunt Fanny
Lucy"--and to wish my father joy of his own. And then there is nothing
among the waifs and strays that have come to me worth printing, till
1855, when my uncle writes to New Zealand:

I hope you have got my book by this time. What you will like best, I
think, will be the "Scholar Gipsy." I am sure that old Cumner and
Oxford country will stir a chord in you. For the preface I doubt if
you will care, not having much before your eyes the sins and
offenses at which it is directed: the first being that we have
numbers of young gentlemen with really wonderful powers of
perception and expression, but to whom there is wholly wanting
a "_bedeutendes Individuum"_--so that their productions are most
unedifying and unsatisfactory. But this is a long story.

As to Church matters. I think people in general concern themselves less
with them than they did when you left England. Certainly religion is
not, to all appearance at least, losing ground here: but since the great
people of Newman's party went over, the disputes among the comparatively
unimportant remains of them do not excite much interest. I am going to
hear Manning at the Spanish Chapel next Sunday. Newman gives himself up
almost entirely to organizing and educating the Roman Catholics, and is
gone off greatly, they say, as a preacher.

God bless you, my dearest Tom: I cannot tell you the almost painful
longing I sometimes have to see you once more.

The following year the brothers met again; and there followed, almost
immediately, my uncle's election to the Poetry Professorship at Oxford.
He writes, in answer to my father's congratulations:

HAMPTON, _May 16, 1857._

MY DEAR TOM,--My thoughts have often turned to you during my canvass
for the Professorship--and they have turned to you more than ever
during the last few days which I have been spending at Oxford. You
alone of my brothers are associated with that life at Oxford, the
_freest_ and most delightful part, perhaps, of my life, when with
you and Clough and Walrond I shook off all the bonds and
formalities of the place, and enjoyed the spring of life and that
unforgotten Oxfordshire and Berkshire country. Do you remember a
poem of mine called "The Scholar Gipsy"? It was meant to fix the
remembrance of those delightful wanderings of ours in the Cumner
hills before they were quite effaced--and as such Clough and
Walrond accepted it, and it has had much success at Oxford, I am
told, as was perhaps likely from its _couleur locale_. I am hardly
ever at Oxford now, but the sentiment of the place is overpowering
to me when I have leisure to feel it, and can shake off the
interruptions which it is not so easy to shake off now as it was
when we were young. But on Tuesday afternoon I smuggled myself away,
and got up into one of our old coombs among the Cumner hills, and
into a field waving deep with cowslips and grasses, and gathered
such a bunch as you and I used to gather in the cowslip field on
Lutterworth road long years ago.

You dear old boy, I love your congratulations although I see and
hear so little of you, and, alas! _can_ see and hear but so little
of you. I was supported by people of all opinions, the great bond
of union being, I believe, the affectionate interest felt in papa's
memory. I think it probable that I shall lecture in English: there
is no direction whatever in the Statute as to the language in which
the lectures shall be: and the Latin has so died out, even among
scholars, that it seems idle to entomb a lecture which, in English,
might be stimulating and interesting.

On the same occasion, writing to his mother, the new Professor gives an
amusing account of the election day, when my uncle and aunt came up to
town from Hampton, where they were living, in order to get telegraphic
news of the polling from friends at Oxford. "Christ Church"--i.e., the
High Church party in Oxford--had put up an opposition candidate, and the
excitement was great. My uncle was by this time the father of three
small boys, Tom, Trevenen--_alias_ Budge--and Richard--"Diddy."

We went first to the telegraph station at Charing Cross. Then, about
4, we got a message from Walrond--"nothing certain is known, but
it is rumored that you are ahead." Then we went to get some toys
for the children in the Lowther Arcade, and could scarcely have
found a more genuine distraction than in selecting wagons for Tom
and Trev, with horses of precisely the same color, not one of which
should have a hair more in his tail than the other--and a musical
cart for Diddy. A little after five we went back to the telegraph
office, and got the following message--"Nothing declared, but you
are said to be quite safe. Go to Eaton Place." ["Eaton Place" was
then the house of Judge Wightman, Mrs. Matthew Arnold's father.]
To Eaton Place we went, and then a little after 6 o'clock we were
joined by the Judge in the highest state of joyful excitement with
the news of my majority of 85, which had been telegraphed to him
from Oxford after he had started and had been given to him at
Paddington Station.... The income is £130 a year or thereabouts:
the duties consist as far as I can learn in assisting to look over
the prize compositions, in delivering a Latin oration in praise of
founders at every alternate commemoration, and in preparing and
giving three Latin lectures on ancient poetry in the course of the
year. _These lectures I hope to give in English_.

The italics are mine. The intention expressed here and in the letter to
my father was, as is well known, carried out, and Matthew Arnold's
Lectures at Oxford, together with the other poetic and critical work
produced by him during the years of his professorship, became so great a
force in the development of English criticism and English taste, that
the lifelike detail of this letter acquires a kind of historical value.
As a child of fourteen I first made acquaintance with Oxford while my
uncle was still Professor. I remember well some of his lectures, the
crowded lecture-hall, the manner and personality of the speaker, and my
own shy pride in him--from a great distance. For I was a self-conscious,
bookish child, and my days of real friendship with him were still far
ahead. But during the years that followed, the ten years that he held
his professorship, what a spell he wielded over Oxford, and literary
England in general! Looking back, one sees how the first series of
_Essays in Criticism_, the _Lectures on Celtic Literature_, or _On
Translating Homer, Culture, and Anarchy_ and the rest, were all the time
working on English taste and feeling, whether through sympathy or
antagonism; so that after those ten years, 1857-1867, the intellectual
life of the country had absorbed, for good and all, an influence, and a
stimulus, which had set it moving on new paths to new ends. With these
thoughts in mind, supplying a comment on the letter which few people
could have foreseen in 1857, let me quote a few more sentences:

Keble voted for me after all. He told the Coleridges he was so much
pleased with my letter (to the electors) that he could not refrain.
... I had support from all sides. Archdeacon Denison voted for me,
also Sir John Yarde Buller, and Henley, of the high Tory party. It
was an immense victory--some 200 more voted than have ever, it is
said, voted in a Professorship election before. It is a great
lesson to Christ Church, which was rather disposed to imagine it
could carry everything by its great numbers.

Good-by, my dearest mother.... I have just been up to see the three
dear little brown heads on their pillows, all asleep.... My
affectionate thanks to Mrs. Wordsworth and Mrs. Fletcher for
their kind interest in my success.

It is pleasant to think of Wordsworth's widow, in her "old age serene
and bright," and of the poet's old friend, Mrs. Fletcher, watching and
rejoicing in the first triumphs of the younger singer.

So the ten years of approach and attack--in the intellectual
sense--came to an end, and the ten central years of mastery and success
began. Toward the end of that time, as a girl of sixteen, I became a
resident in Oxford. Up to then Ruskin--the _Stones of Venice_ and
certain chapters in _Modern Painters_--had been my chief intellectual
passion in a childhood and first youth that cut but a very poor figure,
as I look back upon them, beside the "wonderful children" of this
generation! But it must have been about 1868 that I first read _Essays
in Criticism._ It is not too much to say that the book set for me the
currents of life; its effect heightened, no doubt, by the sense of
kinship. Above all it determined in me, as in many others, an enduring
love of France and of French literature, which played the part of
schoolmaster to a crude youth. I owe this to my uncle, and it was a
priceless boon. If he had only lived a little longer--if he had not died
so soon after I had really begun to know him--how many debts to him
would have been confessed, how many things said, which, after all, were
never said!



I have now to sketch some other figures in the Fox How circle, together
with a few of the intimate friends who mingled with it frequently, and
very soon became names of power to the Tasmanian child also.

Let me take first Doctor Arnold's third son, "Uncle Willy"--my father's
junior by some four years. William Delafield Arnold is secure of long
remembrance, one would fain think, if only as the subject of Matthew
Arnold's two memorial poems--"A Southern Night" and "Stanzas from
Carnac." But in truth he had many and strong claims of his own. His
youth was marked by that "restlessness," which is so often spoken of in
the family letters as a family quality and failing. My father's
"restlessness" made him throw up a secure niche in English life, for the
New Zealand adventure. The same temperament in Mary Twining, the young
widow of twenty-two, took her to London, away from the quiet of the
Ambleside valley, and made her an ardent follower of Maurice, Kingsley,
and Carlyle. And in Willy, the third son, it showed itself first in a
revolt against Oxford, while he was still at Christ Church, leading to
his going out to India and joining the Indian Army, at the age of
twenty, only to find the life of an Indian subaltern all but
intolerable, and to plunge for a time at least into fresh schemes of

Among the early photographs at Fox How there is a particularly fine
daguerreotype of a young officer in uniform, almost a boy, slim and well
proportioned, with piled curly hair, and blue eyes, which in the late
'fifties I knew as "Uncle Willy"; and there were other photographs on
glass of the same young man, where this handsome face appeared again,
grown older--much older--the boyish look replaced by an aspect of rather
grave dignity. In the later pictures he was grouped with children, whom
I knew as my Indian cousins. But him, in the flesh, I had never seen. He
was dead. His wife was dead. On the landing bookcase of Fox How there
was, however, a book in two blue volumes, which I soon realized as a
"novel," called _Oakfield_, which had been written by the handsome young
soldier in the daguerreotype. I tried to read it, but found it was about
things and persons in which I could then take no interest. But its
author remained to me a mysteriously attractive figure; and when the
time came for me to read my Uncle Matthew's poems, "A Southern Night,"
describing the death at Gibraltar of this soldier uncle, became a great
favorite with me. I could see it all as Matthew Arnold described it--the
steamer approaching Gibraltar, the landing, and the pale invalid with
the signs on him of that strange thing called "death," which to a child
that "feels its life in every limb" has no real meaning, though the talk
of it may lead vaguely to tears, as that poem often did with me.

Later on, of course, I read _Oakfield_, and learned to take a more
informed pride in the writer of it. But it was not until a number of
letters written from India by William Arnold to my father in New Zealand
between 1848 and 1855, with a few later ones, came into my possession,
at my father's death, that I really seemed to know this dear vanished
kinsman, though his orphaned children had always been my friends.


The letters of 1848 and 1849 read like notes for _Oakfield_. They were
written in bitterness of soul by a very young man, with high hopes and
ideals, fresh from the surroundings of Oxford and Rugby, from the
training of the Schoolhouse and Fox How, and plunged suddenly into a
society of boys--the subalterns of the Bengal Native Infantry--living
for the most part in idleness, often a vicious idleness, without any
restraining public opinion, and practically unshepherded, amid the
temptations of the Indian climate and life. They show that the novel is,
indeed, as was always supposed, largely autobiographical, and the
references in them to the struggle with the Indian climate point sadly
forward to the writer's own fate, ten years later, when, like the hero
of his novel, Edward Oakfield, he fell a victim to Indian heat and
Indian work. The novel was published in 1853, while its author was at
home on a long sick leave, and is still remembered for the anger and
scandal it provoked in India, and the reforms to which, no doubt, after
the Mutiny, it was one of the contributing impulses. It is, indeed, full
of interest for any student of the development of Anglo-Indian life and
society; even when one remembers how, soon after it was published, the
great storm of the Mutiny came rushing over the society it describes,
changing and uprooting everywhere. As fiction, it suffers from the Rugby
"earnestness" which overmasters in it any purely artistic impulse, while
infusing a certain fire and unity of its own. But various incidents in
the story--the quarrel at the mess-table, the horse-whipping, the court
martial, the death of Vernon, and the meeting between Oakfield and
Stafford, the villain of the piece, after Chilianwallah--are told with
force, and might have led on, had the writer lived, to something more
detached and mature in the way of novel-writing.

But there were few years left to him, "poor gallant boy!"--to quote the
phrase of his poet brother; and within them he was to find his happiness
and his opportunity in love and in public service, not in literature.

Nothing could be more pathetic than the isolation and revolt of the
early letters. The boy Ensign is desperately homesick, pining for Fox
How, for his mother and sisters, for the Oxford he had so easily
renounced, for the brothers parted from him by such leagues of land and

The fact that one learns first in India [he says, bitterly] is the
profound ignorance which exists in England about it. You know how one
hears it spoken of always as a magnificent field for exertion, and
this is true enough in one way, for if a man does emerge at all, he
emerges the more by contrast--he is a triton among minnows. But I
think the responsibility of those who keep sending out here young
fellows of sixteen and seventeen fresh from a private school or
Addiscombe is quite awful. The stream is so strong, the society is
so utterly worldly and mercenary in its best phase, so utterly and
inconceivably low and profligate in its worst, that it is not
strange that at so early an age, eight out of ten sink beneath it.
... One soon observes here how seldom one meets _a happy man_.

I came out here with three great advantages [he adds]. First, being
twenty instead of seventeen; secondly not having been at Addiscombe;
third, having been at Rugby and Christ Church. This gives me a sort
of position--but still I know the danger is awful--for
constitutionally I believe I am as little able to stand the
peculiar trials of Indian life as anybody.

And he goes on to say that if ever he feels himself in peril of sinking
to the level of what he loathes--"I will go at once." By coming out to
India he had bound himself to one thing only--"to earn my own bread."
But he is not bound to earn it "as a gentleman." The day may come--

when I shall ask for a place on your farm, and if you ask how I am
to get there, you, Tom, are not the person to deny that a man who
is in earnest and capable of forming a resolution can do more
difficult things than getting from India to New Zealand!

And he winds up with yearning affection toward the elder brother so far

I think of you very often--our excursion to Keswick and Greta Hall,
our walk over Hardknot and Wrynose, our bathes in the old Allen
Bank bathing-place [Grasmere], our parting in the cab at the corner
of Mount St. One of my pleasantest but most difficult problems is
when and where we shall meet again.

In another letter, written a year later, the tone is still despondent.
"It is no affectation to say that I feel my life, in one way, cannot now
be a happy one." He feels it his duty for the present to "lie still," as
Keble says, to think, it may be to suffer. "But in my castle-buildings I
often dream of coming to you." He appreciates, more fully than ever
before, Tom's motives in going to New Zealand--the desire that may move
a man to live his own life in a new and freer world. "But when I am
asked, as I often am, why you went, I always grin and let people answer
themselves; for I could not hope to explain without preaching a sermon.
An act of faith and conviction cannot be understood by the light of
worldly motives and interests; and to blow out this light, and bring the
true one, is not the work of a young man with his own darkness to
struggle through; so I grin as aforesaid." "God is teaching us," he
adds--i.e., the different members of the family--"by separation,
absence, and suffering." And he winds up--"Good-by. I never like
finishing a letter to you--it seems like letting you fall back again to
such infinite distance. And you are often very near me, and the thought
of you is often cheery and helpful to me in my own conflict." Even up to
January, 1850, he is still thinking of New Zealand, and signing himself,
"ever, dear Tom, whether I am destined to see you soon, or never again
in this world--Your most truly affectionate brother."

Alack! the brothers never did meet again, in this world which both took
so hardly. But for Willy a transformation scene was near. After two
years in India, his gift and his character had made their mark. He had
not only been dreaming of New Zealand; besides his daily routine, he had
been working hard at Indian languages and history. The Lawrences, both
John and Henry, had found him out, and realized his quality. It was at
Sir Henry Lawrence's house in the spring of 1850 that he met Miss Fanny
Hodgson, daughter of the distinguished soldier and explorer, General
Hodgson, discoverer of the sources of the Ganges, and at that time the
Indian Surveyor-General. The soldier of twenty-three fell instantly in
love, and tumult and despondency melted away. The next letter to New
Zealand is pitched in quite another key. He still judges Indian life and
Indian government with a very critical eye. "The Alpha and Omega of the
whole evil in Indian Society" is "the regarding India as a rupee-mine,
instead of a Colony, and ourselves as Fortune-hunters and
Pension-earners rather than as emigrants and missionaries." And outside
his domestic life his prospects are still uncertain. But with every mail
one can see the strained spirit relaxing, yielding to the spell of love
and to the honorable interests of an opening life.

"To-day, my Thomas [October 2, 1850], I sit, a married man in the Bengal
army, writing to a brother, it may be a married man, in Van Diemen's
Land." (Rumors of Tom's courtship of Julia Sorell had evidently just
reached him.) He goes on to describe his married home at Hoshyarpore,
and his work at Indian languages. He has been reading Carlyle's
_Cromwell_, and marveling at the "rapid rush of thought which seems more
and more to be engrossing people in England!" "In India you will easily
believe that the torpor is still unbroken." (The Mutiny was only seven
short years ahead!) And he is still conscious of the "many weights which
do beset and embitter a man's life in India." But a new stay within, the
reconciliation that love brings about between a man and the world,
upholds him.

"'To draw homeward to the general life,' which you, and dear Matt
himself, and I, and all of us, are--or at least may be--living,
independent of all the accidents of time and circumstance--this is a
great alleviation." The "_fundamentals"_ are safe. He dwells happily on
the word--"a good word, in which you and I, so separated, as far as
accidents go, it may be for all time, can find great comfort, speaking
as it does of Eternity." One sees what is in his mind--the brother's
"little book of poems" published a year before:

Yet they, believe me, who await
No gifts from chance, have conquered fate,
They, winning room to see and hear,
And to men's business not too near
Though clouds of individual strife
Draw homeward to the general life.
* * * * *
To the wise, foolish; to the world
Weak;--yet not weak, I might reply,
Not foolish, Fausta, in His eye,
To whom each moment in its race,
Crowd as we will its neutral space,
Is but a quiet watershed
Whence, equally, the seas of life and death are fed.

Six months later the younger brother has heard "as a positive fact" of
Tom's marriage, and writes, with affectionate "chaff":

I wonder whether it has changed you much?--not made a Tory of you,
I'll undertake to say! But it is wonderfully sobering. After all,
Master Tom, it is not the very exact _finale_ which we should have
expected to your Republicanism of the last three or four years, to
find you a respectable married man, holding a permanent appointment!

Matt's marriage, too, stands pre-eminent among the items of family news.
What blind judges, sometimes, the most attached brothers are of each

I hear too by this mail of Matt's engagement, which suggests many
thoughts. I own that Matt is one of the very last men in the world
whom I can fancy happily married--or rather happy in matrimony. But
I dare say I reckon without my host, for there was such a "_longum
intervallum"_ between dear old Matt and me, that even that last month
in town, when I saw so much of him, though there was the most
entire absence of elder-brotherism on his part, and only the most
kind and thoughtful affection, for which I shall always feel
grateful, yet our intercourse was that of man and boy; and though
the difference of years was not so formidable as between "Matthew"
and Wordsworth, yet we were less than they a "pair of Friends,"
though a pair of very loving brothers.

But even in this gay and charming letter one begins to see the shadows
cast by the doom to come. The young wife has gone to Simla, having been
"delicate" for some time. The young husband stays behind, fighting the

The hot weather, old boy, is coming on like a tiger. It is getting
on for ten at night; but we sit with windows all wide open, the
punkah going, the thinnest conceivable garments, and yet we sweat,
my brother, very profusely.... To-morrow I shall be up at
gun-fire, about half-past four A.M. and drive down to the civil
station, about three miles off, to see a friend, an officer of our
own corps ... who is sick, return, take my Bearer's daily account,
write a letter or so, and lie down with _Don Quixote_ under a
punkah, go to sleep the first chapter that Sancho lets me, and
sleep till ten, get up, bathe, re-dress and breakfast; do my daily
business, such as it is--hard work, believe me, in a hot sleep-
inducing, intestine-withering climate, till sunset, when doors and
windows are thrown open ... and mortals go out to "eat the air," as
the natives say.

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