[From Letters of T. E. Brown, 1900]
FALCON'S NEST, PORT ERIN, April 16 (No year: ? 1890).
Grey and grim, for the most part, is our 'little eilan' ' ; but just at this moment I can look out upon a bright blue sea. The wind is blowing off the land, the bay therefore quite smooth, except for the blessed little wrinkles that get stronger and darker to about the middle distance, when the real state of affairs is manifested in the shape of breakers and general commotion.... I want to dream, also occasionally to dine. I hope to get some food, moreover, that's not of this Manx earth, or any other earth, some fruit that does not grow in these cabbage gardens. But, if this is to be, I must live a suspended life, and not know what people are talking about. The ` unknown tongues' of gulls and larks will blend very well with my mood; in fact, help materially to fill up the wind-bag of temporary torpor. At Braddan the other day I heard rooks and robins; the row made by the former was quite dreadful. I used to like it, and even expect it with pleasure, and purposely visit Braddan when I the row' was on, in spring-time. However, certain robins, evidently perceiving that I was troubled, came and got up quite a little chorus, perched on the trees just over the grave. I never before heard such enthusiastic robins. Their keen little pipes cut right through the sawdust brawling of the rooks, scattered it like ' the rear of darkness,' made it inaudible. And they were such ' boul' little beggars, so confident and confidential. . . . Tell me about Oatlands. Some people once lived there whom D., or perhaps D. and you, once went to stay with. ... What I was musing as I passed the place was the relief, escape, or what you will, that D. particularly must have felt in getting away there for a while, the imping of young wings, the expansion, and the further outlook, the introduction to ways and ideas unfamiliar, the disappointment perhaps, and the falling back on Braddan manners and prejudices and homely limitations. For, in those days, if some one gave us a glimpse of what was called the world, we were apt to say to ourselves, ' Is this all ?' and revert to our old Vicarage views, the impossibilities and the marvels, Waverley and the poets, and all the great dreamers of dreams, 'Old John' in fact. How well I remember my efforts (but why say effort?) to convert Braddan Churchyard into that of Stoke Pogis, and to think of it as the fitting scene of Gray's Elegy
Yet, poor Gray! what would he have made of it? A good deal, I dare say, for did he not understand and love Keswick ?
Yesterday, at the Kerroo-Kiel, I met a delightfully bright and witty man. He soon got to know who I was, and we had the most glorious talk. The mischief of it is that these worthies are only too glad to get into a coosh with you, and they would talk all day, leaving a spade, or forsaking plough and horses to lean over a hedge, leaning on something at any rate, and talking away. Their talk is bright, aimless rambling, not without dives into the depths, and pokes into your personality, above all, engouement the most absolute, and desire of inter-communication the most insatiable. And you are up on the mountain-side at the furthest limit of plough range, and the wind whistles just the right sort of accompaniment to such talk. I think I must have a sail here. But, do you know? the Manx seamen and fishermen tend to become self-conscious: the 'strangers' are spoiling them. Not so the farmer: of course no one can make him understand that the visitors do him any good by raising the prices of his produce, so he cares very little about them, and in no way guides himself according to them or their fashions. So far as the outer world comes to him, it is by the channel of the newspapers. He has all the boundless curiosity, the thirst for knowledge miscellaneous, pulpy, and piquant, which characterize those that dwell remote. When he gets hold of you, he flies at you, hugs you, gets every blessed thing he can out of you. 'Favourable specimens,' you will say. That is true: but as regards the independence and primitive state of mind, what I say applies to almost all. You see you must get down beneath the gentleman or would-be gentleman-farmer, down to the man who never conceived the idea of ruling it with gentlefolk. Also, you must not go down to the mere labourer. But they are desperate gossips, gossips not so much in matters local and insular, as in matters universal. The gossiping tone does proceed into the universal, does it not ? The hilarity with which they will range the far horizons of thought is so childlike (you know how children are about that) ; a chatter that sparkles on the surface like their own divers, and then, with an ' Aw bless me sowl,' or ' Aye, man, aye,' down into the deepest soundings of the spirit. I think it is this quality of theirs that the Methodists get hold of, and' lead them captive at their will.' Light, happy, irresponsible creatures of the element! In a poem of mine which I complain has not been appreciated as it ought to be (! !), ' Kitty of the Skerragh Vane,' I have tried to give some idea of them. ' Nicky' is the man's name.
Have you read it? His delight in foregathering with 'strangers' is the motf . . . I hope you get out. From Port lern to Cardiff 'is a far cry to Loch
Awe'! My gough ! yandhar sea! I must be out upon it.
FALCON'S NEST, PORT ERIN, ISLE OF MAN, - April 23, 1890.
Nay, by all the gods you shall not carry it off thus! My Amphitrite with the sweet young face and laughing eyes, and your ditch-bred Bridgwater drab ! . . . And my darling outside there, that tells me all, gives me all, and is in such a mood now, a creature of moods, I will admit; but you must know how to meet her, and her whispers! Pearson, her whispers
But getting rid of salt water, and turning inlandfor example, at Holford, is it? Ah, at Holford ! Well, that is a dear little place. To go up on to the hills from there by a long row of aged beech-trees-very good. You don't come upon the beech-trees at once they lie just above Alfoxden-really delightful old things. The Alfoxden stream is, I think, poor, and it seems ashamed of itself, lurking in secret places. The people all about I like very much. I wonder what you think. Have you been to Kilve Church, and have you yet solved the question of the weathercock? The question is simply categorical-is there a weather-cock?
You have one blessing-you are alone: at least, I think I can infer that. Now I cannot be that. I have been called upon by the local clergy! Match me that, if you please
A story and an idyll, both of the slenderest kind. I was told them by Christian, one of my crew, the other day.
(i) Coming home from Shetland; twenty boats sheltering somewhere about Raasay (?), I think Inver the place is called-in the Hebrides, is it ? or on the coast of Sutherland (DiŰu le sail). A great castle with a flag: a great lady invites all the Manxmen to dinner (I wish you could have heard Christian; Invaw, he said, not Inver, and dinnŃw). Fancy120 men and boys ! She had been in the Isle of Man, and the people was very kind to her (haw). Hence the invitation. A ter'ble grand dace, and the three-legs-of-Man cut in a stone over the door (dooaw). They accepted: the day came, the ' dinnaw' was all ready; but not a man went.
They were that shy (shoy). Woodward, my sailing-master, chimes in-, An' that's the wuss of the Manx! shay, that's it, aw shay tremenjis! they can't help it, no!' ' Dinnaw ' waits, the pipers are im patient, but no Manxmen. ' Was it your clothes?' said I. ' Well, I can't azackly say; no, hardly that either (ithaw) : just shoy.' Great lady disappointed, but excellent and ingenious, invites them to tea; accepted; time comes, 'not a sowl went, just one looking at the other (othaw).' Wind changes, up anchor, and away to the south. Two boats remain, and at long last the ' great lady' triumphs. These men went to tea at the castle. The area of mutual criticism being reduced to such dimensions, they plucked up courage and went, and enjoyed theer- selves uncommon! aw a ter'ble gran lady.' The area &c. explanation was mine: they accepted it. Heaven knows in what Anglo-Keltic form I put it! You must ' let imagination muse' the delicacy of such an achievement-the delicacy, and the daring, let me say:-
O wasn't she a ladie, a ladie, a ladie,
O wasn't she a ladie, that dame of Inver Bay?
I wish I knew who she was. I think I would write to her, and thank her, and apologize to her for my countrymen. She might have been the Duchess of Sutherland, whose mother, Mrs. Mackenzie, quartered the Manx arms on her shield; but then (almost all) the great Highland families do that.
(a) The idyll-it is hardly that, though. The Chickens Light-house lies off the island called the Calf of Man, due SW. From the shore of the Calf a long slope runs up to the crest of the island: this slope exactly faces the Chickens. Near the top of the slope, nestling under the crags of the crest, are the cottages inhabited by the families of the light- keepers, their doors opening out right toward the Chickens far down below them.
Now the light-keepers are absolutely separated from their families for three months at a time. But- and here is the point-these good fellows have of course a powerful telescope, and they solace them- selves with looking through it at their children playing in front of the cottage doors. Isn't that beautiful? Ah, human hearts! Fancy on Sundays
(Sabbath-they are Scotchmen), how proud the mothers must be to hae the bairns brave for the guid-man to see them through the spying-glass ! ' Gie little Kate her button gown, and Jock his Sunday coat'-isn't that it? Though there's no baillie's wife to tell that ' Colin's in the toon ' ; and indeed he is not, he is exiled out on the Chickens.
There now, have I moved you at all? Such things one picks up here, and, with a little more trustfulness and godly sincerity, and man-to-manness, a little more reach and wholesome native Opeeis, a little more love, in short, how much more one might pick up! And is not pick up a most damnable phrase? and ought not the appetite for these things and the perception of them to be normal, and is not normal a damnable phrase, for which it were well to substitute I our daily bread'? And so committing you both to Him who gives that bread to all who believe in Him faithfully, I remain, &c.
PS.-I fear there is a tone of truculence in this letter. I did not mean it. You have a sweet covert there. Bless you in your Quantock rambles!
CLIFTON, May 8, 1891.
The Isle was very good. Of primroses not a superabundance, of gorse great store, though meditating greater: of solitude foison. The glens were delicious, caught just in the act-the lovely things! I went to Renass, Ballaglass, and twice to Glen Aldhyn.
It was hard to keep out of the tubs. By-the-bye, you have never been up Glen Aldhyn: and, indeed, I have not known it long thoroughly. Glen May too I visited, and, of course, Sulby Glen. Dora is there still, enchanted, spell-bound. She is like me, would never care to come away: why should we? The world does not want us: why should we want the world? But, indeed, I do not, nor ever did.
Arr det tibi Coryletum ? 1 I think it does, and that you must be very happy.
I Hazlemere, as T. E. B. spelt it.-H. G. D.
CLIFTON, June 22, 1891.
I write just a line to tell you that we have heard of the death of your uncle. The dear gallant old fellow has gone. . . . He was a noble, brave, and absolutely honest man. I have not seen him now for nearly forty years.... When he left England I was a youngster at Oxford, and had only just become engaged. So all things pass, and the world goes on.
Aunt M. has now only one brother. Of the six boys that once grew up in old Braddan Vicarage I am the only one remaining. Ah ! it does feel lonely. But you are with me still, and I am not unhappy. Thank God for all!
KESWICK, September 12, 1891.
When your letter came, I was in the Isle of Man, and my last two days were so quiet that I wanted never to leave the place again. I wonder whether Wilson would give me something just to clear out at once. Then would I make haste and flee!
Yet this too is lovely, this lake with its divine monotony, these sphynxes of mountains with their ridiculous questioning faces. And one day on Scawfell Pike was absolutely perfect, the kind of day you get here between storms, clear as crystal, sharp and tremulous with the rapture of the rain.... And now with the fine weather crammed into one short week, we are all hurry-scurry. We hardly know what we would be at. Like the typical Englishman, we stand musing what we shall wear, and-
Sometimes we would have this, Sometimes we would have that, And sometimes we would wear, We cannot tell what.
So let us be off. The trap is at the door. And to-day it is to be Stake Pass, Mickleden, Rossett Gill, Angle Tarn, Grain's Gill, and Seathwaite. Qu'en pensez-vows ? And the wretched Dakyns, who won't come, can't, quotha, because of VISITORS. Alas for Dakyns! what will he do in the end thereof? Sunday. We went, we saw, we conquered. Rossett Gill was hot. Fancy the liquid silver near the top
How we did trinken-trinken-trinken ! Our tea at Seathwaite was untellable. This is desperately sensual, but what would you have? The tubs in Grain's Gill would you have those? I swear to you that no Roman bath ever approached them even in mechanical per- fection. We swore deeply (girls and all) that we would come up here on Tuesday and bathe. Hugh and I would constitute ourselves sentries. Besides, the place is a very solitary one, and the tripper is nearly extinct for this season.
With kindest regards to Mrs. Pearson I will now close this letter; the last of its kind which I shall probably write this side Jordan. It is good that we should have written to each other-' very meet, right, and our bounden duty,' in a very true sense, 'sacramental.'
LAKE VIEW, KESWICK, September 12, 1891.
I have been to the Isle of Man with Hall Caine. Two days, the only fine ones, were very great. One of them was a Sunday: A.M. up Glen Aldhyn : P.M. to Kirk Maughold Church. A.M. was natural; P.M., shall I say, spiritual ? Well, social, of the very highest order. The vicar is an old friend, the vicar's wife perhaps my very oldest friend. We went to the evening service, and I read the prayers. At the altar-place knelt . . . it was the church where we were married.
Charming with all the consummate charm of well- nigh eighty years worn with exquisite grace heightened by every circumstance of refinement and the halo of a beauty not yet extinct, the subtlety of an intellect still active in many directions-such is Mrs. White, more familiar to me by her maiden name. The mere physical conditions were little short of astounding. A line drawn from the altar of the church straight down the aisle and projected westward would have lighted on the other altar, that of Barrule, black, pyramidal. Venus was rising over the cairn on the top of Maughold Head. The dear old vicar crooned away his most admirable sermon, of which I heard not a word, but was conscious as of a lullaby. And so they go on, these most blessed of the blest. Time touches them lightly; they are so precious that I suppose they will at last not die, but fade away into balsams like Mizraim, sweet mummy powders of finest fragrance.
My girls are all well and happy. . Dora is really getting a great girl, though I say it. And much of all this happiness is reflected upon me. But, my dear Worthington, there is a happiness, a kind of happiness, a kind (do I claim too much for it? just a kind) which I shall never know again-ah no! so help me God
LAKE VIEW, KESWICK, September 12, 1891.
Hall Caine was with me in the Isle of Man. I took him up to Kirk Maughold on Sunday evening. The whole thing was unparalleled. I read the service. My dear old friend the vicar preached. His voice was sweet and soothing. I don't know what he said, probably it was his very best. I sat within the rails and saw nothing but one precious thing. . . . Dear old friend, preach away, and let it be your best, if you think it should be so, but I must hear words far different, and seek the higher absorption. I should like to tell you more of this wonderful day.
On Monday we had to leave for Whitehaven at 11. So we breakfasted at 6, and had a car to Ballaglass. This too was a sacrament, but more open. I enclose two ' lil pomes' from ' In the Coach.'
CLIFTON, April 5, 1891.
§roTOi, §roroi, §ToToi, likewise 9, E, ╦
Then you don't know that I have been nearly kilt'.' PYoximus vidi, I can assure you: and even now my case is dismal. Walk on Dartmoor! This morning I crawled to the sea-walls and back, and made my poor boast of the achievement. Ah, Worthington honey! Worthington avick ! I believe it is all up with me. I may go for a few years more yet, but the mainspring has been rudely shaken, and I shall be a simulacrum, an approximation to the manes and lemures of fable.
And still I would fain meet you again, and I Coll. . . . ' too, and try to put in my sword where such men foin and fence.
How infinite a walk on Dartmoor seems ! not so much in physical space as moral. Suppose I did walk all over Dartmoor now, could it be the Dartmoor of old! a dream of heaven and all that is elastic and tense and free-no, no! just mile-stones and dragging limbs, and eyes vainly seeking the old light.
Well, and the upshot is that I am seeking it to-morrow, not vainly, let us hope, with Dakyns. I was at Weston a fortnight, and it did me very little good. So now for Haslemere, possibly further, if I get on a bit, and can persuade Dakyns to cross the Channel. I have thought too of a trip to Naples by an Orient steamer. The v call at Plymouth, don' they ? If I make Plymouth my port of embarkation will you take me in for a night and a day ? .... And now you behold the situation. Dear, kind friend, be sure of my constant affection.
1 He had been seriously ill at the end of 1891, and took long to recover his strength.
16 WINDSOR VILLAS, NORTH RAMSEY, May 13, 1892.
I wrote to you last from Weston, but the place did me little good, so I left it, and two days afterwards repaired to Haslemere in Surrey, to my old friend Dakyns.
This is a delightful place, so perfectly quiet. I was upon a hill 600 or 700 feet high, commanding a glorious view, a real Poussin, only English to its utmost marge, the greater part of Surrey, Kent, and Sussex. You will know it as Tennyson's place. It lies mainly on the borders of these counties and Hampshire. The lines of the North Downs melt here into those of the South Downs in such a way that W. you have nothing but hills, E. and S. the Weald, as it is called, fringed by the furthest South Downs and the sea. Dakyns' house is on the hill called Greyswood, Tennyson's on Black Down, and Tindal (poor flighty mortal!) has enthroned himself on Hind Head.
Hind Head is 900 feet high. It is a delicious paradise both of form and colour, heather, bilberry, larch, birch, and such a bold leonine attitude-quite ridiculous for such a hill, but you submit yourself willingly to the illusion. Black Down is chiefly heather-magnific heather, mind! Greyswood is largely built upon, but still there is a remnant of the old common, a lovely little wilderness of gorse, birch, bilberry, and heather. The heather is of the three kinds, ling, heath, and cob heather (the two last perhaps better distinguished as crimson bell and bog heather).
Well, here I soon became very happy, and everything that the most unfailing and unstinted kindness could do was done for me. I got so much better during the three weeks I stayed there that I was able to travel by myself to Liverpool, and next day to cross to the Island.
Before leaving Haslemere, I climbed Hind Head three times, the last time walking by myself, and shouting for lonely joy! . . . When I have climbed Barrule, I shall think it time to return to Clifton.
You know that I am giving up my house and mastership. Where to live? That is the question.... Much musing and meditating I find myself drawn mainly to this Island; and you must not be surprised if you hear of my settling down to spend my old days in Mannin Veg Veen.. . .
CLIFTON, June 27, 1892.
Dakyns and wife have departed. They stayed two days with me and two days with Glazebrook. He discharged his difficult task admirably-a really beautiful speech 1, conceived in the best taste, the tone sustained throughout. It was highly eulogistic, but I must not say anything about or against that. They ' drowned me in a bowl,' i. e. presented me with a silver vessel, in which you could baptize a baby by immersion.
1 At Commemoration.
CLIFTON, July 2, 1892.
The day is glorious, though overwhelmed by such memories. Forgive me that I could not lay the ghost when we parted. After all it was of you I thought, and what you must feel, leaving your birth-place and the scene of so many joys and sorrows, seeing it for the very last time as your home on earth. Woe is me! But it is inevitable, and in a few weeks' time we shall all have flown from the old nest. To-day I have given up my school work for the remainder of the Term.... We are eagerly looking forward to your letter.... Mind you give yourself a fair chance of success, i. e. by carefully attending to your own health, and trying no experiments in the way of diet or abstinence. God bless you.
WINDSOR MOUNT, NORTH RAMSEY, September 18, 1892.
How the wind howls! It has now been at it for some three weeks, and there is no sign of a change.
That is the Manx climate. I remember when I never noticed it; but long familiarity with the effeminate skies of England has made me sensitive. O for a bit of the primitive hardihood! the capacity of roughing it! A good thing, sir, a good thing and (an!) useful.
I have been throwing out my social tentacula. Called on the bishop, who has returned the call; but we were both out' has rather an Irish flavour. Old friends come in and we shall have much ado to keep pace with the genial folk. Meantime it is very hard to say what time I shall find for reading or writing. I do both write and read, but not overmuch. I read Swift, and I have written for the National Observer a review of Burgon's life. Many of my friends are old ladies, and they value my society at their whist-tables; and I am, as you know, very good-natured- so-what would you have? A charming Hibernian called on me the other day. Portentous! alarming! He had been sent from Douglas by some evil-disposed friends of mine there, to consult me as the supreme authority on matters Manx. Now of this language I am, if not wholly, yet at least grammatically, ignorant. He was a tall, stalwart fellow, black-bearded, not handsome, but with a tremendously Irish face, eyes of fire, nose of peremptory interrogation. Flourishing a wretched grammar in one hand, he proceeded rapidly to demonstrate its ineptness, and sternly to demand my explanation. As my weak-kneedness grew more painfully evident-
So scented the grim feature, and upturned
His nostril wide into the murky air, Sagacious of his quarry-
he almost shouted with exultation. All the Manx scholars had completely failed-here was another.
' Glory be to God! I'll smite him hip and thigh.' He was a splendid Irishman, and, of course, kind and generous. He didn't spare me, destructedd me utterly, but speedily constructed me upon new lines, and told me a lot about Celtic difficulties and how to overcome them. He spoke Irish like a bird, and after about three-quarters of an hour, he rushed forth to catch the train, hairy, immense, with some wild wirrasthru of farewell. Imagine a very learned and linguistic Mulligan of Ballymulligan ! I duly received your kind verses, apposui lutro. I really know not how on earth it is that I get such proofs of esteem and affection. Positively I am inclined to echo the redoubtable M. and express concern at the discovery that men like me. His predicating the reciprocity as being all on the one side I leave to him. With me the reciprocity is full to overflowing.
I went from Devonport to Rhayader, meeting there my sister and her husband. The people don't speak the Cymric much, but they are so Welsh, so unpractical, in many ways so charming. No trippers, not even tourists-a perfect cessation of the enemy, a cessation of all enemies, except, perhaps, the tippling of the natives ; but there, I am no great enemy of tippling. It is true they lie down drunk in the streets, but they look so rosy and altogether comely in their honest cups; and besides, I am such a poor sleeper, that I envy any one sound sleep wherever indulged and however induced.
WINDSOR MOUNT, NORTH RAMSEY? September 25, 1892.
How good of you to write to me from Baireuth It was a most enjoyable letter; no good, though, my attempting to answer it until you come to your point of repose. Now you are all right, and I take a shot at you sitting.
By-the-bye, you are just before me at this moment,. i. e. Elliot and Fry's version; and a very fine version it is too, and much admiration it has excited in the bosoms of many fair dames of the Isle. You are, in short (really at considerable length), upon my mantel- piece.
I see Parsifal is the only work next year: it is the last year for Baireuth to have undivided possession of this glorious thing, so they are going to have plenty of it. May I be there! not an entire impossibility. Will you and Mrs. Wollaston be there ? But this is too large an order for human foresight, so- drop it
O Wollaston, the delight of this leisure! I read, I write, I play. Good gracious! I shouldn't wonder if my music came to something yet. I have actually gone back to singing, a vice of my youth. Don't mention it at Clifton! I always think the sea the great challenger and promoter of song. Even the mountain is not the same thing. There may always be some d -d fool or another behind a rock. But the sea is open, and you can tell when you are alone, and the dear old chap is so confidential: I will trust him with my secret.
How about Devon? was it good? Did you all bathe and ' rux ' yourselves well about in the brine? I have not done much in that way: the storms have been so furious-unkind of them, eh ? Well, I fancy it is like the boisterous welcome of some great dog-at least, I take it in that sense. And the old boy is so strong, and he doesn't know, he thinks I am what I used to be. But I'm not: and every now and then he remembers that, and creeps to my feet so fawningly.
Kindest regards to Mrs. Wollaston, to Althea, and all of them.
WINDSOR MOUNT, RAMSEY; November 5, 11892.
You ask me to tell you how the days go. Well, I must confess that so far they have been mainly devoted to the re-establishment of my health. In this I have been fairly, but not triumphantly, successful. I breakfast at 8.30, and the sea is my companion for a good three hours. I walk simply on the shore, and as near as possible to the water's edge; I walk, save for the dear old chum aforesaid, alone. I lunch at 1.30, having had a short interval of reading. This reading is Iddesleian : no method, very delightful. However, what with this brief space and an hour or two besides scattered through the day, I have read a great deal of Don ,Juan, some Swift, and some Johnson, or rather, Boswell (Tour to the Hebrides). I have also preached twice, once at King William's College (my old school), and once at Maughold. The last occasion was a thing wonderful to relate. It was at night, last Sunday night, magnificent moon, sea all ' glory, honour, and power.' Barrule black as jet, pyramidal, unutterable. The church bursting with fire and bright faces: entering at the west door, it looked like a tunnel of flame. The churchyard too was full, a curiously eager 'company of witnesses' glowering in upon me. I don't know how to describe it, except by saying that it gave one the idea of a Cyclopian spiritual smithy, of which I myself was the smith, and the good old parson the bellows- blower. Out flew the sparks, and these blessed old Kelts caught them in their fine raptured faces as children do looking in upon the smitten anvil. The church was decorated for a Harvest Thanksgiving. ' Go it!' and so I did, with much satisfaction to myself, possibly to others.
To-morrow I preach (Harvest Thanksgiving-late is it not ?) at Ballaugh. That is a tamer place, but hallowed to me by certain recollections, and I suspect I shall be much moved. What egotism all this is! Pray, forgive
I have been to Government House, dined, and slept there, on Thursday last.
I took in to dinner. She talked beautifully, and without the shadow of affectation, and talked so fluently, and so intelligently....
For music, imagine me, choragus, virtuoso in- signissimo-here again I fancy I hear something of a titter. Silence, sir! One of the phenomena of this leisure is the recrudescence of my music. Of course it is favoured by the medium. The company were quite willing to be pleased-commended me heartily. That is something worth living for. I must off to my sermon.
RAMSEY, ISLE OF MAN, November 18, 1892.
Will you kindly send me all useful information about the 'Footpaths Defence Association'? All papers thereanent would be received gratefully. How about the 'Lakes' in particular? Is that a special thing? Hints as to the best way of setting about the same business here would be very welcome. Some brief digest of the actual Law of Trespass would come in nicely. Leaflets various, especially any from your own trenchant pen, would quite set me up. [Canon Rawnsley elsewhere quotes a saying of Mr. Brown's: ' the meanest thing a man can do is to shut up a footpath.']
RAMSEY, November 18, 1892.
You are now within measurable distance of the Christmas holidays, after, I hope, a prosperous and happy Term. I don't often get beyond the shore, it is so clean and sparkling with gravel and foam-edge.. Yesterday, it is true, I went up a glen just to meet a genuine mountain stream, which rewarded me with some fine ferns quite fresh and young. A thick fog-bank lay out at sea: you were blotted out, sir, absolutely obliterated, you and your island! i. e. geographically and visually: but I thought of you all the more.
Of literature I partake as follows. Mozley has been over, and I found that he had never disused the energy of ' Repetition V At the same time I had been led, I hardly know how, to cultivate this path or byway of letters ever since I came over here. Comparing notes we discovered, to our great joy, that our memories were as strong as ever, our appetite keen, and power of retention quite unim paired. Isn't that good? Really it provides for the whole of my future life, and the close sympathy between men who squat down upon this common field of flowers is most comforting. Nothing tends to make the mind more open and cheerful. There is something about it of ' the discipline,' but we lay it gently on our shoulders. Then the realization of power is refreshing: very satisfactory too is the sensation of stowage. Idleness and emptiness are banished, and it is with a good packet of sound and wholesome stuff that I hope to stagger up at last to St. Peter's wicket. Ten lines a day-but, bless my soul! don't let us think of it in that way.
So far I've been lining the chambers with English: but, as I find greater facility, I hope to add Latin and Greek. One charming exercise is the alternation of Par. Lost with old Ballads. The Milton comes on rather heavily as yet, but under the Ballads I bound and curvet. It is marvellous what things and tones come out in the Milton as you treat it in this fashion. False notes too, unexpected lapsus-the glorious old boy! But, O Irwin ! the leisure of it! the leisure of it! This is at last life. Yes, they were great, and we-well, never mind! ...
I have made the acquaintance of the Governor. I called and left a card, and immediately received an invitation to dinner. His Excellency met me himself with his dog-cart. It was very nice, and I slept there (not in the dog-cart!). He is distinctly a literary person; and so is his wife. The party was rather big and tremendous, but at breakfast next morning we were more by ourselves, and the talk was pleasant.
They introduced me to some American writers whom I had not seen, but, on the other hand, I had the honour of introducing them to Tom Sawyer. The Governor has a fair library (' closet of books'). It was amusing to note how he caught at my Boswell (Tour), which I had taken with me to read by the way. The binding rather amazed him. He suPAosed I hadn't all my books bound in that way, but a few of my darhngs I like other things here, the knitting again of old connexions, the familiar intercourse with the old folk, the impinging of old tones upon the ear of desuetude ; but at the same time it is not without a distinct thrill of pleasure that I enter once more into the easy conventions of polite society-easy, mind! for these people are easy with the ease that has some depth of root. Yet the Governor is an out-and-out Radical! and here I am, locally, a Conservative. But what utter bosh it all is! Of course I am embedded in Conservative surroundings, steeped to the throat in the finest and most richly conserved juices of the retrograde mind. This too is such a relief. . . .
Few men are capable of this retirement. I am. Now don't think me conceited: it is the simplest fact. All life hitherto has detained me from my true life.
The rebound, if not quick, is effectual, natural, in- evitable. Absolutely now, and without any humbug, I could live here with nothing but a Horace.
But this affords no basis for self-complacency, I assure you. Why am I not a man of affairs, a man useful in my day and generation, ' a great man'? Wilson once put to me that home question, and I was dumb before him; I am still dumb.
One thing I feel is growing upon me, and that is egotism.
Do pardon all this talk about self, and recurrence iterum atque iterum to self and its weaknesses.
How are you all? There now! There's a vigorous and rather naif effort to get out of myself. For instance, how is N. ? Is he going to get married? Don't let him do so on any account. He is a most consummate bachelor, trim, neat, in mind and body don't let him be divided into parts, or dissipated in domestic mince. I would have him always TETpaywvos, and ready for celibate activities. If he by any chance should be seduced from his allegiance to the laurel, I shall expect a complaint from the Queen whose service he will have deserted.
Then up and spak the Queen of Fairies,
Out of a bush of broom,
'She that has borrowed the young N.
Has gotten a bonnie groom.
Then up and spak the Queen of Fairies,
Out of a bush of rye,
' She's ta'en awa' the [nobbiest] knight
In a' my companye.
... What a ripper Birkbeck 1 is ! He is almost too exhaustive; keeps you 'annotated' to the fraction of a hair. On the contrary the big ' Pope' is, I regret to say, a failure: the notes are quite capricious in thŰir incidence and leave you ' darkling.'
1 The learning of poetry by heart.1 Dr. Birkbeck Hill, editor of Boswell's Johnson.
November 30, 1892.
I really hope you have got into good ways of sleeping. Most nights our chimneys roar like active volcanoes. I had thought I was getting inured to this, but-fiddlededee ! last night all the winds of heaven combined and brought to bear upon me a perfect battery. I didn't sleep a wink. The fun of it is that these vagabond children of Aeolus, after raving like the worst possible form of tom-cat all night, towards dawn become quite decorous and sneak away 6 to their several caves,' as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths, and, if that is not a sweet confusion of meta- phors, leave it alone
The piano has been tuned to-day by a man from L'pool, a ' ter'ble' nice young man. I played him I Myl-y-charane,' and he played me a Cornish Florida. Fancy! these are the agrŰments of Manx life. Do you know what a Florida is? A dance tune at the Cornish Floridas ; and the Cornish Florida is the May-day fŰte, and would seem to be the Floralia of the ancient Romans handed down from the British period. Fancy one of Smith's tuners meeting me in this intelligent and sympathetic fashion! ...
RAMSEY, December 11, 1892.
The blizzard extended here, and with full vigour. I was in Douglas. The snow began on Sunday morning, but we started for Kirk Braddan, I without an umbrella. It became terrific, and on Monday we awoke to a world which was past recognition. We had never thought 'of this; we had been befooled into the belief that it hardly ever snowed at all in the Isle of Man. I spent Saturday to Wednesday last in Braddan. As a question of interior it was delightful; of exterior, a howling waste of mud and black and white horror. . . . M. is deeply interested in Manx history and antiquities. So we got on splendidly together. Part of my mission there was to advise him upon a book he is bringing out of Manx songs, and I discovered quite a treasure. . . . At Copenhagen, in the museum, he examined the papers of an old Danish professor who died somewhere about 1750- -
Among these papers he found a Manx song, with English translation written by Archdeacon Rutter, afterwards bishop of the island, in about 1680. It is a gem: but the English is so delicious that I can't help suspecting that it is the original. Still, the Manx is wonderful, and, makes a gallant effort to express the quintessential cavalier philosophy of a poet who might have signed himself Herrick or Lovelace. Well done the ' Lil Oilan ! ' Fancy its producing such fruit! The Hesperides are nothing to it.
1 Vide Appendix.
RAMSEY, December 26, 1892.
I have read your I Cowper' with much pleasure. It is surprising how you have found time to write two articles and the verses while the shuttle of examination has been rattling about your cars....
It is useless denying that I was complacently present in the spirit at the I plague 1 ' and all its horrors. It was only human nature to suck the full juice of my exemption. To do this effectually I had to summon you all to the bar of my intensest realization-the masters' meetings, the lapses of temper, the lost papers, the missing marks, all the devil's own brew of bothers; and I, pipe in mouth, glass of hot toddy at my side, and not a care, except the care to get to the very depth of the ironic misery. O ! I did enjoy myself. And so, having exquisitely sympathized, I now am the more prepared to be with you in the blessedness of the repose that has followed. May the gods grant you the plenary seisin of your luck.
I have been roaming: been to Peel, and seen lovely children and dear nice people. A cousin of mine gave an entertainment at her school. The little ones performed what was majestically styled a cantata; but it was only a series of nursery rhymes, arranged at random; for you are to consider that, in the evolution of such a sequence, it matters not whether ' Little Bo- peep' precede 'Little Jack Horner,' or succeed that voluptuary. Not the least interesting person was an old music-mistress, who entered into the delight of the children with a delight all her own, but wholly beautiful, dashed, too, with a flavour of aside at the grown-up members of the party. To that dear old thing I say heartily, ' God bless thee ! thou art good.'
Indeed I could have hugged her. I For these and all His other mercies,' &c. : they are a great comfort to me, and one sweet unselfish old maid will set me up for a week.
Altogether it will be very hard to get me away from this perfectly bewitching place. I have a sort of hold over the people which I feel is not precarious. How fortunate it is to have had forbears! well, let us say at all, but such as mine, so good, and of good report. Don't think me egotistic! But you have no idea how the old echoes repercuss and make music of my life. One goes to see a dear old creature of eighty-one: she knows you and everything about you, everything behind you, and, if possible, before you. . . . These (the elders) are such as I would fondly hope are gathering a gentle soothing sort of gossip about me to tell the happy maj§res when they meet them in Elysium.1 Examination week.
RAMSEY, January 1o, 1893.
I'm ' shoy uncommon,' but still not as bad as 'yandhar.' I In the Coach' (sic) will appear in my new volume, which Macmillan has already in hand.
What was W doing-blaspheming generally or specifically ? He's a ' ter'ble' man. But isn't he good? and don't I love him? that's all. Thanks for the sonnet. I don't know, but some way one generally ends a letter to you like this. ' Navau thee moin,
John Thomas!' But hold hard! I must not forget you're a foreigner. ' 'Scuse the Manx that's at me ! '
Why not 'nobler,' or still better ' sweeter'? The comparative is both adjective and adverb.
Kindest wishes for this new customer.
RAMSEY, January 29, 1893.
The verses are most refreshing. Nothing so bright and cheerful as these winged creatures. Always send me the latest brood. I have at last got off my Mac- millan parcel, and I suppose before the week's end proofs will be flying northwards. The volume begins with 'Old John,' and ends with ' At the Play,' which you may remember I wrote for you, accompanying it with a Latin translation. The translation, however, is omitted!! I am proud to say that my book will not contain a single word of translation. I had a pretty little matter enough of La Prade, but we must positively withstand this dreadful cacoethes transferendi:
The scene at Peel was perfectly delightful. When you get the paper you will observe some votes of thanks proposed in Manx. These are the cream of the joke. The proposers were the dearest old fellows.
They stood up in their places, and did the whole thing in perfect good faith.
The tremendous earnestness of these blessed old Kelts does not debar them from a levity which is simply ethereal and heavenly. They have such faith in one, and unbounded reverence for what they suppose to be one's ' larnin',' and yet such sympathy with one's nonsense. They are indeed ' gleg at the uptak'; never miss a point, however dodgy. The princess showed her thorough breeding by the discomfort she experienced from the one crumpled rose-leaf in a bed of roses. My dear old friends discover theirs by detecting the merest suggestion of a point through all the wrinkles that I can complicate.
RAMSEY, February 26, 1893.
Spring has just looked in upon us and gone. I don't know why. I for one was prepared to give her a hearty welcome. Certain crocuses of my acquain- tance were of the same mind, and applauded her in their meek manner; a brace of tame hyacinths expanded into perceptible, though slightly guarded satisfaction, as becomes their quality of breeding, and she turned away in a frump; and here is the demon of the pole-a blizzard, a but language fails me. Besides, I can't get to church, and the withdrawal of my ordinary ' intellectual, moral, and spiritual' (Per- cival's old trivium) has made me cross, and this may continue.
Wherefore send me Crabbe. 'Twere a pleasant leap from the Pisces to Cancer. . . . People talk about Crabbe, but they don't read him. Urge them to do so: likely enough you will only get them to read your article, but that will do them a lot of good; and it certainly will do me good, old Crabbian though I profess myself. . . .
'The young man that played the clarionet.'
This matter had a funny sequel. Letter from a rising Liverpool tradesman; says he was the 'young man,' &c. Asks for explanations and so forth: had been a pupil of mine in the Castletown Night-School. Wounded, feelings lacerated, &c. I was greatly alarmed. Issue. He was the ' young man,' but not the ' young man' who, after the Liverpool meeting, claimed the proud position of ex-clarionet player to your humble servant. That young man seems to have been an impostor; by comparison of dates, could not have been more than minus two years of age at the time of the clarionet performance-, a marvellous boy,' rather embryon, if ever there was. The real ci-devant artist is a thoroughly good fellow, a most prosperous man moreover; we have fallen on each other's necks, and the incident is closed.
RAMSEY, ISLE OF MAN, March 10, 1893.
I am quite ashamed. Your two letters make me blush. I always keep your letters. They have so much salt in them that there is no fear of their keeping. But that is no reason why they should remain unanswered. Marine salt we have here in plenty, but the Attic stuff is rather wanting. Thrice welcome therefore are your communications. You want to know how I am, and what I do. I am slowly re covering. Sometimes I seem to catch sight of the solid ultimate recovery, but it is a slow business. The Island certainly suits me. The air is delicious and strengthening. Only the winds are devilish, and sleep is hard to get.
I read much, not systematically, but in the beloved Iddesleyian fashion-desultorily. French I now never touch. What you say of Flaubert gives me qualms. Do go on, and let us have something about him.
I have been wandering through Swift a good deal. The hearty cursing in his Tale of a Tub goes straight to my midriff so satisfying, the best of tonics. For absolute splendour too, commend me to his chapters about the Aeolists ! Defoe is with me not seldom. The style of these men is refreshing. For narrative, it would be difficult to beat Defoe. The History of a Cavalier is a downright masterpiece.
A friend has lent me a lot of eighteenth-century letters stowed up in his family archives. They are entertaining, and, I think, instructive. Largely written by parsons, they go far to show that Macaulay was all wrong about the matter. These old fellows were more literary, better scholars, finer humourists than we can now boast in the Church. It is delightful to see them pelting one another with Latin, and, very occasionally, with Greek quotations. Trulliber is nowhere. Of course there were Trullibers, and, for the matter of that, there are. But for social amenity, for polite friendship, not the less true that it was polite, my old friends stand very high indeed.
You might call this a quiet place, but I find it full of all the sins and all the frailties. I look for them, you know, turn over every stone, and expose the grubs and beetles-they are awfully interesting, the only entomology I care for.
If you are well-to-do, and tolerably stupid, nicely married, and all that, you might lie on the burning lake and tuck the blankets around you. Is there not asbestos ? and why make yourself miserable?
To be well shut of schools and things scholastic is a prime bliss. But you are still in it-don't kick too much; only I am glad that there is a bit of kick left in you. So mote it be!
I hope your recent experience will not stop your writing to me. I can promise you reciprocity not altogether ' one-sided.' That reminds me of Irwin. He writes to me, and his letters are a great consolation.
RAMSEY, February 28, 1893.
February goes out like a snow-white lamb; the sea round its neck like a blue ribbon. . . . How about primroses ? You lie too high, I should suppose, for wild ones. Crocuses must now be abundant. They are so here. A stick or two of mezereon sends a shrewd thrust of spring smell (Duft) through the borders; and Lent lilies are preparing to be gorgeous. But wild primroses-of them the faintest prognostic.
I long to be out and seeing to all this; and soon I hope to be aiding and abetting in the most active manner.
Much delight is mine in a big box of MSS. lent me by a young Manx friend-eighteenth-century letters of his family, particularly of one member thereof. I go on from year to year as through a garden with walks and parterres and borders, all so sweet and good. The old man was a humourist, and was famed in his day as the ' Manx Swift.' A grand old fellow not a Swift (!)-good gracious, no! not so great by a thousand miles, nor so unhappy; but perfectly sound, and most excellent company. I have just finished the box-perhaps five or six hundred letters. They all go to produce chyle for the big book 1. Well,
I will not say chyle, but blaoEQtS. To attain that will be a supreme delight.
1 The Island Diocese.
RAMSEY, March 10, 1893.
I was much interested in what you say about the hymn book. After all, each generation must have its turn: it is only fair that it should discharge the function as decently as possible, but with full purpose of self-assertion. I suppose we had our turn. We liked certain hymns from old associations. The associations failing, the hymns can't be liked.
The ' school song' I fear must keep. I have materials put away somewhere, and some day Ibelieve I shall tackle them. But the mood is a rare one, and becomes progressively rarer.
I am greatly deterred by the fear of imposing on you a song which might be inadequate, and which you might find distasteful, and yet be under some kind of ai÷ais about rejecting.
The right song should come to the front at one stride: there should be no possibility of a mistake about it.
I fear me much, my Wiseman dear, That we Sall come till harm.
And yet I am unwilling to hand it over to any one else. That's the sort of critters we are.
RAMSEY, March 12, 1893.
For weeks and weeks I have lived in the eighteenth century up to the eyes', and have had a delightful time. What dear old fellows!
Then the colouring-matters of postage and carriage of goods-the whole life of the time-men going to and fro, the ' Custom-horses,' the wives, &c. carried in creels across the backs of some venerable old Dobbin-the exquisite manners, warmth of friendship, combined with respect and deference.
i Referring to some eighteenth-century letters from Manx clergy that I had lent him.-A. W. M.
RAMSEY, March 19, 1893
The article is very good, but I scarcely think it would hit its mark now. Shoot folly as it flies.
Look out for another emergence: any day some such bubble may float up from the depths of the fatuous. They are astounding.
Hugh is at our gates. Passed Prawle Point on Friday, arrived Gravesend Saturday. Has gone on, I fancy, to Clifton, where he will see his -sister Dora. He will next proceed Manxman, and we hope to have him here on Wednesday. Whereupon the fatted calf, &c. , for this very guiltless prodigal.
B. fled from the face of our visitors. You can depict to yourself the hiatus (if a hiatus can be de- picted) that separates him from the enthusiastic and ebullient X. Meantime he is on the other side of the hiatus, safe, -sardonic, derisive!
How amazing is the Review of Reviews ! I suppose you never see it. In a dreadful ancillary, i. e. scullery, back-kitcheny way, it ministers miscellaneous pabulum, on which it is not impossible to feed.
Do you see Longman's ? If so, you are aware that Andrew Lang writes for it a sort of causerie,
' At the Sign of the Ship': sometimes good. Poor old Thackeray would have called it not a causerie, but a 'roundabout paper'; and what for no? In the number for this month there is a ramblement (that's another name that would save recourse to French) by old A. K. H. B. He calls it ' Of a Wilful Memory'; and, do you know, it seems to me quite delightful. It includes a high appreciation of Henley as a poet. There is one thing about ' language' as used by sailors that you'd like. Said a preacher, ' Ah, the fearful nouns, the appalling adjectives, and the tremenduous (sic) verbs, one hears down at the harbour!'
And then the man who wanted St. Andrews to be prayed for. At a great prayer-meeting requests were being made that divers souls, supposed to be in evil case, should be interceded for. One arose and asked the prayers of the meeting for a little town on the east coast of Scotland, which was ' wholly given to idolatry.' Such was the expression. A little city, with many schools, also the seat of a University. Having thus mysteriously indicated the place, the excellent individual plainly felt that no mortal could possibly guess what place was meant; and putting his hand over his mouth, he said to his friends on the platform, in a hoarse whisper distinctly heard over the entire hall, ' St. Andrews!' Isn't that consummate ? isn't it Scotland ?
I have now hardly time left to tell you that I am finally done with the G. O. M. and his Home-Rule. The Welsh business has sickened me, and I pass over! Take me to your bosom!
RAMSEY, March 31, 1893.
Of Crabbe-what shall I say? I shall never forget what I felt when I read a certain article on Crabbe. It was so patronizing, and so full of the pretence at appreciation and sympathy. You know the kind of person! N. is another of the gang. It would never do to admit their blindness; but blind they are, non omnia bossumus omnes. One may be all sorts of admirable things, but it does not follow that one has a right to sit down on the same sofa with Crabbe. At the same time one has to remember that the limitations imposed by homogeneous homespun don't for a moment qualify one for intimate converse with the author of the Parish Register. It is simply lovely to think of Burke and Fox, and how they stood related to Crabbe. They were distinctly adequate. Byron too, with all his gin-sling and democratic bosh, was fit to come within the charmed circle. I could fancy you and the old vicar in a blessed eighteenth- century parlour. If it had had for its last tenant him of Wakefield, all the better. The next occupant would surely be Guhelmus Brown, vaY nulla non donandus lauru.
You don't put Withers' point ň propos of Lucian, &c. But I am wholly with you as to Lucian and Ovid 1. About Shakespeare - doubtful. I should always hesitate to attribute to Shakespeare any artistic or literary intention. The fountain is too deep, too universal, at once geyser and cataclysm. I feel sure that the humour of his citizens, in the Roman plays for instance, was not to him heightened or even qualified by the cross-sensing of the anachronism. Of course he had bona fide Elizabethan Englishmen under his hand. But I don't think he was con- scious of the difference. To me it is amusing; to him it was not (es war nacht da). To us it yields a flavour piquant enough ; to him I am pretty confident that its presence or suggestion would have been a bore. So genuine is the outflow, so pure and vital.
I am now not doing much, not reading, not writing, not even Rep? The fact is I am not well, and can not tackle anything with gusto. For a man in this state the most obviously dainty and delicate things are the only diet. Your letters, for instance (would that they were more frequent and longer), the twrisszwa fienna of Dakyns, and Ethel's talk, Dora's letters too (which are perfectly charming), keep me going. The intervals I am fain to occupy with the Eclogues. How exquisite they are! With what perfect contentment they fill me! The sweetest utterances sure of any tongue that ever warbled or prattled, or-- what did it not? If I get a bit more serious (this is Good Friday) I take up the Ajax. There too I am on safe ground. And yet-I had rather be free of all this! Out in the wilderness! unconditioned, purged of thought. That is Heaven! which reminds me that the gannets are here again-the bould birds! They do look so glorious! They fish here, but not in winter. I imagine they are on their way back from the tropics ; and have just called in to have a look at our bay, which is now in fine fishing ferment. Or they may have already built their nests in the Hebrides, and intend retiring there to-night. Nothing is im- possible to such ardour and keenness-╦m7ro;~6Covras. Well, hardly that; no opportunists they. I suffer much from the want of a good classical library. Constantly I find myself hampered. True, it drives me in upon my reserves, and that has its advantages.
1 Discussion as to their use of anachronisms. 2 Repetition, ' learning poetry by heart.'
RAMSEY, March 31, 1893.
The gannets are here again. Either they are on their way from equatorial regions, or they have taken a day trip from their nests in the Hebrides. To- night they will go back, 'the bould imp'rint craythurs ' ! They are now, however, ' divn' like the divil,' and very splendid they look. Hugh sits with me, and looks out critically: he talks of albatrosses, Cape-hens, 'and sich.' Isn't it horrible that the experience of the 'Ancient Mariner' is quite thrown away upon our youth? They fish for the birds, exult in their uncouth attempts to walk on deck, insult them, crucify them, and hang them up (like St. Peter?) with the head downwards. This means slow death by deter- mination of blood to the head. Why they choose this miserable form of death rather than an honest crack over the skull I can hardly say, but probably in order to keep the head intact for stuffing purposes. And the I ice-fiend' does nothing to these insensate pigs, except bring them home grunting and grum- bling..... The other day Hugh and I went up Glen Aldhyn, and picked many primroses, also one blue- bell. It must be very delightful to him handling these tender things after spun-yarn and canvas. I should say the great plant here is the wild honey- suckle. It is not in flower yet, of course; but its foliage is the prettiest and most engaging of any.
A few days ago I had a great mind to bathe; why shouldn't one? Both air and water were magnificently warm; I feel certain that it would have done me good. The bay a bath of liquid silver, smooth as glass -why on earth refrain? I grant you to-day is for the gannets; but we are far too smug for noble ventures. All Ramsey would cry out upon me if I ' sthripped.' But I'll not wait till June- blow'd if I do.
Ah, Dakyns, ' good sowl ! ' I can't come to you. I would give my eyes to do so; but it may not be; it cannot be. Won't you come and see me?
RAMSEY, April 21) 1893.
Your kindness is overwhelming. But what dreadful stuff the book contains! Not that I agree with the general run of my critics, who are favourable, but make the most ludicrous blunders. Surely it is ridiculous for the Speakev to say that I all the long poems are unsuccessful except the " Epistola ad Dakyns." ' That is really preposterous. But the inequality-there of course do manus. Mixed pickles! mixed pickles!
Here cauliflowers salute the various ken, And there the pungent pods of far Cayenne, With embryo walnuts, gherkins at the breast, And the squab onion soothes the humbler taste. A liter.
For here are cauliflowers of crispy severance, And pods of far Cayenne to warm his Reverence, Walnuts and gherkins; and lest C. P.' grumble,
Onions to soothe a taste legitimate though humble. ' Pl. interpp. referunt ad Paedagogum quendam eius aevi, ex
Tarver is here, four miles off. We see a good deal of him.
I am planning another blank verse story. I think ' Bella Gorry' was rather good, and this will be by the Pazon,' as was ' Bella.' Indeed I have the eggs of two' Pazon's ' stories, which I may reasonably hope to hatch in due time.
Poor Symonds ! how much I think of him!
April 16, 1893.
The other day I met an old friend and pupil, and we had a long ramble about the parish of which my father and his were successively vicars. Sunshine and for the most part silence, but occasional outbursts of delightful recognition from those faithfullest of friends, the poor. How sweet it was! And then we went to the house of his aunts, two absolutely perfect old maids, living where they have always lived. It was an old haunt of mine when a child. There it is, exactly what it was! The old corner cupboards, deep, inscrutable, from whose recesses it was no hopeless speculation in those times to anticipate cakes of all sorts.
Nor do they frustrate one's anticipations now. And outside struts the lineal descendant of a turkey-cock who used to frighten the life out of a trouserless urchin. The old old life-the dear old things well on to eighty, beautiful to behold, and quite wild with joy. And we told old stories, and did our best to make up for a good thirty years of interrupted converse, but did not get beyond the merest lip-rim of the full cup.
And there sat a boy, now quite seventy. He used to be thought half-witted, but he claimed his share in this orgy, and proved himself a person of far-reaching memory and subtle wit. His sisters evidently looked upon him as inspired.
stirpe Wilsoniorum ; ubi percipiat quivis latere paronomasiam (C. P. qu. d. Caepe). Inepte alium Wilsonium, olim praefectum collegii apud Cliftonienses, effodiunt Heynius et caet.-T. E. B.
RAMSEY, April 23, 1893.
An excellent letter, and very welcome! It is very pleasant to hear that you are so happy, and if you can give a little happiness to others, it's not amiss, is it ?
I must say I rather envy you that week in Somerset. Never was there such a spring. But what must it be in the valley of the Tone, and under the Quantocks Even here apple, pear; and plum-trees are making a goodly show, and a certain wild cherry sets the heart a-dancing. Then the grass-why, that alone is a perfect lap of ' lugszury.' Indeed the Island blooms like a rose. Primroses make no secret of it now- they are everywhere, and begin to bring with them young blue-bells, ' ter'ble shoy,' but they'll soon get over that. I went up Sulby Glen a bit the other day the gorse there, as elsewhere, is a mass of golden flame; and I heard the cuckoo. . . .
RAMSEY, April 23, 1893.
Behold me! rather tired, but jolly enough, just the excuse required for not going to church, or, indeed, anywhere this glorious morning. Tarver and I walked yesterday for some seven hours. We went to Balla- glass and found it a ' mash' of primroses, with just a sprinkling of timid little blue-bells.
Tarver about the Isle of Man is excellent. He is no doubt a most subtle person, and knows precisely what I want him to feel; but I really think he has the root of the matter in him. Fancy his going in for the Curraghs with all his heart and soul! The Curraghs, mind ye ! think of that! ' and him a sthraanger ... what? And knickerbockers arrim ! and belts all flyin' about his jacket-eh ? A Norfolk ,'cccket they're callin' it?-aye, aye! you'll get lave though! you'll get lave!'
Cambridge must be lovely to look at; but I suppose you have not yet had opportunities for making the nearer acquaintance of the bounteous English spring.
RAMSEY, April 26, 1893.
The Island is simply glorious this marvellous weather, the spring riotous, tumultuous, unparalleled. But I often think of Haslemere and of its precious pledges. How lovely too it must be just now! . . .
There! Borne upon 'viewless wings' the refrain of your piano. M.'s gentle yet unerring touch, or Mrs. L.'s seraphic sweep. Alas! I want that desperately. These days of ' light and gladness' are so suggestive. But ' they'll get lave.'
Ballaglass is delicious in the sunlight with the beechen spray breathing over it. Also its primroses are good, also its blue-bells. As yet the blue-bells are hesitant, or apologetic. Of course you know that later on they will attend the funeral of the primroses with a mighty mourning of hyacinthine blooms; and then they will become quite cheeky and truculent, and make the ground their own. But now the Curragh is in its absolute perfection.
I had a solitary ramble which lasted all day yesterday in Ballaugh Curragh. The bog-bean is everywhere and in extraordinary form. Do you know it? One of the loveliest, I think, of marsh plants. It insists upon growing right in the water. And the water is so still, and therefore so clear. All bog, observe, black, tremendous bog, i. e. the bottom; but what with reed and rush and flower, the Curragh, the combination of land and water, the inextricable labyrinthine twining of the two elements, is a thing marvellous to see, to smell, and indeed to hear. For the cuckoos were innumerable, and corn-crakes scraped their rasping celli with unwearied vigour. Then the feel of the air-I have tried to indicate it in ' Tommy Big Eyes'-the tactual effect of it on a skin dry and chapped with sea-salt, drawing- the acrid crystals from the epiderm, soothing, filling up, ' making good repairs,' caulking, renovating.
I wrote to you about Symonds in rather slipshod fashion, yet I can't say I regret it. No doubt there are two points of view; and from one there would be demanded a much more critical and discriminant estimate than from the other-in fact, an estimate.
Well, that is what I didn't care for, or intend. It will be made, I do not doubt, and by an abler hand than mine.
' By Shelley'-well, one expected that. How it would have thrilled him! The Walt Whitman I will gratefully accept ex donis tuis. Am I becoming a sturdy mendicant? The old institution of Patrons has ceased; but I seem to be reviving it in you! The dedication and the douceur ! I did not think of this when I inscribed my book to you and M.; had I done so, you would have been in for a plusquam Drydenian altar, smoking with seventeenth-century incense. Love to all.i Mark Pattison.
RAMSEY, May 11, 1893.
Pat's' sniff is lovely-, as unknown to the modern world as if it had been a classic.' Good ! ! good! ! very good!!!! I shall applaud that when I lie down to- night, I shall resume my applause when the shades of- But heaven help me! isn't this a very near approach to something that Mr. Pecksniff said to Mrs. Todgers ? I am losing my sense of proportion, indeed that of property. Of propriety the perception has long ago forsaken my ethics.
That W. W. F.1 will make a perfect monograph on White of Selborne I'll lay you very heavy odds. He is just the man. Macmillan has lucid intervals
Wilson writes of my verses on 'Clifton': '' Clifton" is just what I have felt both for you, and in a less degree for myself.'
You can't think how I enjoy what you say about S. You cannot conceive, sir, what a charming- figure you make! I borrow our favourite old phrase with change of epithet. I mean that you have quite unconsciously given me a picture of a very rare and exquisite bit of contemporary life, such as is indeed suggested by your own, ' an ingenious young gentleman of Cambridge.'
1 W. Warde Fowler.
RAMSEY, May 14, 1893.
I am very grateful to you for the Whitman. I read it through immediately, and with great interest. More- over, I have been thinking ever since of writing a notice of some sort for the Nat. Observer. But whether to write ostensibly of Whitman or of Symonds I am in doubt.
My feeling is that the death of a man like Symonds is an event in the history of literature which ought not to pass without notice. So I believe I shall try.
I discovered a MS. of B.'s the other day. It is a story (prose) not finished, but not at all bad ; the style, a really very good Marryatt sort of style. I think it is promising, and I told him so.
There is a strong twist of the vows apaKrirc§s in it, an absence of romantic colour, a touch of Defoe ; not much humour, exceedingly clear vision of outside things, e.g. boat ropes, handling of the same, quite photographic. Altogether stuff worth examining, and decidedly interesting, with a grave sort of entrain that gets hold of you.
I often have dreams and longings Haslemere-ward. The height of your place fascinates me, that great extent of distant plain. It is a dream, is it not? What long shoots of speculation you must have at times when you are quiet enough! There is a pathos in a great distance, and a tenderness supervenes, or subvenes, when the distance is well and subtly filled.
The gannets are now returned in full force. I see the plunges, and hear the thud a few seconds after. It is electric, and beyond measure vital, and vitalizing. To-morrow, challenged by these ' divils,' I am going to begin my own aquatics; quod faustum
Hall Caine is writing his new novel; destined, as I think, to be the very utmost Schwung of his tether.
BALDRINE, LONAN, ISLE OF MAN, May 21, 1893.
I have come here to the house of my brother-in-law for a week. Ramsey is occupied by three regiments of volunteers from the adjacent isle.
I walked over the mountains yesterday, and finished in a labyrinth of lovely glens, imperfectly known by me. The sweetest of solitudes, each one. It, is so delicious to pore over a country like this, and draw out the very soul of it. As I descended I caught sight of three great steamers advancing towards the coast. I laughed and rejoiced greatly.
I have just stumbled upon a curious literary problem. In a little biography of a member of my family who died ages ago I find that this ' amiable and pious young man ' derived great benefit from a book entitled Morning Thoughts on the Gospel according to St. Matthew,' by Mr. Cunningham, of Harrow. Now Mr. Cunningham, as, no doubt, you are aware, was an eminent Evangelical, whose name goes with those of Venn, Simeon, Newton, and so forth. The book is partly in prose and partly in verse, and no other name but that of Cunningham appears upon the title-page. But the critics of the day (so the little biography says) attributed the verse to Tom Moore. This is extremely odd. I have no life of Moore, so can't go into the matter exhaustively. The Cunningham book was published in 1824, and, just at that time, as we know from ordinary sources, cyclopaedias, &c. , Tom was in difficulties through the dishonesty of his representatives in Bermuda. Consequently he may have been hard up and glad to get a job. The critics based their opinion upon internal evidence, and, if they were right, the situation is almost painfully comic-Tom Moore as Evangelical bard! A specimen is given in the biography. It is anapaestic, after the manner of O believe me, with all those_ endearing young charms.' Dactylic, if you like; and the dear little cupid of a man gambols away quite cheerfully, and is full of a rose-buddy sort of edification, which is really quite winning.
Is it not probable that some aspiring muse in the Evangelical camp was caught by the Oecebrae of the great Little, and resolved that the devil should not have all the good metres, as Charles Wesley refused to leave him all the good tunes ? However this may be, Cupid as Seraph, rose-bud as rue, it is inconceivably rum. I observe that in my father's volume of verses, Scott is similarly pressed into the service of the-well, let us say-British and Foreign Bible Society. By-the-bye, one must not forget that Tom Moore did write ' Sound the loud Timbrel,' may the gods forgive him
You will gather that I am much improved in health. My walk yesterday was a good twelve miles across mountains. I plucked some bell heather nicely in flower; very early, is it not ? Most exquisitely lovely the walk was! Not a soul for four hours; then con- verse with a good old soul, who was preparing a field for planting: the happy agvicola who, having sailed all over the world, really does know ' his own goods.' We talked of the past, the Island past, so simple of analysis for both of us. The succession of farmers, the succession of parsons, till we got back to ' that's the man that christened me.' Then we stopped and looked into each other's eyes. The cuckoo called, and down the vale I went with no vacillating step. These things strengthen one.
I found a foxglove fairly out: that, too, was early. The mountains had the midsummer smell-a wonderful concoction ; the glens perplexed me with an even more subtle aroma. Upon smells it is hard to reflect, so that I have not yet determined what it was. The glens were very full of blue-bells, and the flower of the mountain-ash, but I don't think I have got it; no. Some divine footsteps-what ? Ah, sweet thing ! was it you? In such valleys the sons of God might not unfitly wander, and find not a few daughters of men meet for the ineffable embrace. At any rate, heaven itself walked down the valley and lingered there, ' and deludhed me ter'ble.'
BALDRINE, LONAN, ISLE OF MAN, May 21, 1893.
I have come here for a week. Ramsey is in the hands of the Philistines. Three corps of Lancashire and Cheshire Volunteers have encamped there. This is my brother-in-law's. It is a delicious quiet place- much rest for the sole of my feet.
I came over the mountains yesterday-walking, of course. First, the slope of North Barrule, very long pull, keeping above Glen Aldhyn on its south side. Then the heart of Snaefell, and the valley opening down to Laxey-all my Manx Witch business. Then glen after glen, as I descended to Baldrine, which lies just over Lerwick, at the west end of Laxey Bay. Such lovely glens! they smelt of heaven; so indeed did the mountains, and even more so, i. e. if heaven's smells are more ethereal than those of earth. But the glen smell suited me perfectly. It was not so simple as the heavenly smell. Henna is more chromatic than Olympus. And yet awfully mysterious this glen smell. It is so hard to reflect upon smells that I can't even yet make it out.
It was not the blue-bells, innumerable as they were. Was it Proserpine, with a stealthy sufuviiun of Dis ? I really do think it was a bodily presence, an aromatic person. However, I greatly rejoiced at it. I hadn't gone far until the highest power which I ever gain swooped down upon me. I mean the power of suck- ing out from the country its very inmost soul, and making it stand before me and smile and speak. What an ecstasy that is! I know you know it.
Gie me a canny hour at e'en, My arms about my dearie, O ; And warly cares, and warly men, May a' gae tapsalteerie, O ! Well, that is my dearie.
O Cuckoo! shall I call thee bird, Or but a wandering voice?
A bird! a bird! a thousand birds! good Mr. Wordsworth. How they did sing yesterday! But no doubt the finest cuckoo business is just after dawn when you are lying snug in bed. This was my position to-day. I had had but a poor night, and the cuckoo began. I turned over on my left side, and with the cuckoo's note, like the soft croon of some old nurse in my ear, I wandered away into dream- land. And such an odd dream.
RAMSEY, May 28,1893.
A word about S.'s essay-don't you find it obscure I get glimpses here and there that make me less forlorn ; but, on the whole, ' forlorn' is the word that expresses my condition vis-ň-vis of this youthful prophet. The style is not at all bad, too terse, per- haps, considering the subject, but I should say, as a style, marked and distinctive. But it does not make plain the thought. Don't you fancy he has found the subject rather too many for him ? There is an obvious way of treating it which, of course, he would scorn.
His slap in the face of Ste. Beuve I like well enough, but it is not perhaps an overmodest thing to do. On Salammb§ he is really very good. His notion of Flaubert's wanting ' to get away' is suggestive, want- ing to 'bathe in strange delights and contemplate monstrosities that come from an unknown quarter.'
' The vision of this strange people'-that's nice. His notion of observing where authors' show their weak- ness' is naf and amusing; and again his cautions and reserves, as ' this would be a misleading state- ment,' and so on. Don't you think a course of Oxford would have done him good? It seems to me quite certain that we benefit both positively and negatively by enforced study of Greek Philosophy, but even more by the study of Greek expression. It is no mere fancy that S. would have written a better essay if he had read the Poetics, nor would he have reason to regret careful study of the Ethics. Ah, sir, that Greek stuff penetrates !