[From Letters of T. E. Brown, 1900]
RAMSEY, June 1, 1893.
The other day I was coming over the mountains from Laxey, and descended Sulby Glen. We missed a train, of course, and had tea at . It was a magnificent tea. The piano was open; on its desk lay Hymns (I think) Ancient and Modern.
I played, and made an infernal row. Played, then paid, and left. Immediately a tripping step behind us: we turn: 'If you please, mamma won't take any thing for the tea, and hopes you will accept it.' Mon Dieu
Well, we were all in a twitter of delightful confusion, and the remission of this small debt evoked a gratitude which Irish tenants might very properly emulate when let off some two-thirds of their rent. There, sir, in the dusty road, and in the presence of ' natur's silent sympathetic witnesses,' under the bright sunlight, praesentibus three children, a cock, and a pig, were laid the foundations of what promises to be a life-long friendship.... Sir, it is not every day that we attain to this level of emotion.
And so from Sulby to Mascagni. I have not heard his operas: but I have both heard and played selections from the Cavalleria. There has been a good deal of exaggeration about him. Mozart need not fear for his imperishable laurels; nor indeed is Verdi to be relegated to a back seat for the aggrandizement of this young baker's apprentice-wasn't he something of that sort ?
I stick to ' but first the stable,' but not to ' that can't abide the lower classes 1.' Throughout the poems it seems evident to me that the wicked way of looking at the Puritanical dodges is supposed to be repressed with difficulty. The sincerest love and respect for my dear old friend will not make this otherwise. It will out. You plunge into all the hot steaming medium of the old man's exercitations : you sympathize, you embrace, but you really must laugh. 'Don't be angry with me!' I am no Puritan, and, by the process of the poem, am not supposed to be. The objection to ' that can't abide' is that, though it enters as a quotation from a snobbish idiot supposed, still it is not likely that any snob or any idiot would say anything so inept. I am not sure, though
Do you know Labiche ? His vaudevilles and short comedies are simply innumerable. They are also very amusing. Probability, possibility almost, are set at defiance. But from the farcical they are saved by the innate delicacy, slightness, if you will, of the French- man. I think it must be very pleasant to be with a French audience at one of these plays. One wants ethereal people about one, people who don't care a screw for anything but fun and nonsense; champagny people, if you can have champagne, if not, lemonady people, gassy, sparkling-I don't mind honest pop for that matter. Peppermint lozenges too are good, and the frequent orange has a staying effect like the apples of the ' Song of Songs which is Solomon's.' I would give much to hear the Fran~ais Company in London. But even in Paris this would not quite satisfy me. I want to be about thirty-five years younger, and to sit in a ludicrously fifth-rate theatre with Jules and his beloved, and exchange with some gentle good creature or another glances of mild and melancholy hallucination, the poor, starved, hopeless a-gIAE~a that are born in vacuo, and lead to nothing. Good-bye! Take care of yourself.
1 A reference to his poem called ' Old John' in the volume with that name.
RAMSEY, June 8, 1893.
Come as soon as you can. It is a perilous beauty this, and who can say how long it will last? I have been bathing for a fortnight-once every day, about 11a.m. I would fain bathe oftener, or rather, never be out of the water at all. To-morrow I begin bathing before breakfast. I am getting much stronger.... There is a sort of smouldering splendour this evening, the sea like glass. Heather is beginning to be conspicuous. Foxgloves are big and strong. Honey- suckle could do with some rain, but it is abundant. I have been stopped in Glen Aldhyn, but persisted in going on: threatened with a summons, I wait events! ... A few little pomes have occurred to me, but I have not yet felt moved to tackle the bigger things,
I read a good deal now. Aristophanes has got hold of me. I am reading the Birds. It is simply a portent of vigour and health. I had never realized it before. That tremendous parabasis, "Aye 8~ Øvortv, &c. , has made me all tremble!
RAMSEY, June 2-7, 1893.
I send you an English Illustrated Magazine for July. It contains a small trifle of mine, but, much more important, you will fin therein ' Mrs. O'Donnell's Report,' by the Hon. Emily Lawless. Tell me what you think of it. Surely it is delicious. What an admirable person this Miss Lawless must be! One or two of the pictures strike me as excellent. The kind of changeling look on the face of the young Carrowmore, who is not a Carrowmore, really haunts me.
I have the Cliftonian. The review is doubtless by a hand I recognize. It is extremely kind.
You pick out ' the honey-tongued quintessence of July.' I am so glad; that was the poem I had the row about. I still think that the phrase would redeem a worse copy, and evidently you agree with me. After all, what is much of our verse-making but the hunt for phrases? I don't mind owning that I have many a time constructed a whole system of little more than bosh to enshrine a locution! Faith! one might do worse. Again, thanks a thousand times for your review.
Your quotation from the Orestes reminds me of my Euripides. I have read a good deal of him lately. He really is very great; surely the Medea would justify Milton's liking for him. But for several days I've been off my dramatic feed, and have been browsing in the Odyssey. It reads so like a lovely comedy; sometimes the cloven heel of the satyr peeps out. He must have often excited laughter, though, I dare say, a great deal would depend on the rhapsodist.
Well, and so you have had the Guthrie 1. What a comfort to have it behind you! And now July is close at hand, and you are beginning to arrange about holidays. Do try and come here! I am most anxious to see you, and we can make you comfortable, ' mind ye that!' True, our dream of glory has fled; the wind is sweeping, and the rain driving. But it will be all right again, and our August and September are often delightful. Heed not for trippers ! I can guarantee you against these abominations. I know several ' banks whereon the wild' tripper grows not. In fact this defensive sort of knowledge is my special gift. You shall go for days and meet no tripper. This is effected only by very subtle evasions, but they are infallible, also in me functional and inevitable.
This dreadful Victoria business gives us pause. What on earth is to be the next move in naval architecture ? One can see by certain indications, almost unconsciously given, what a noble fellow Admiral Tryon was, evidently an awful loss. Fancy in a quarter of an hour that ' turning turtle.' One big coffin! It makes one shudder!
Hugh is still with me. I like to keep him as long as I can. Dora is in the New Forest, a scene which, methinks, must become her. Kindest regards to Miss Irwin and your sister, also to your brother Guy when next you write to him.
He has an eye
That brother Guy!
1 Commemoration Day at Clifton College.
RAMSEY, June 30, 1893,
The last day of a lovely June, and the roses are dying and the days shortening; and your Commemora.tion is over and all delights, I mean ethereal delights, have faded. The substantial joys of the ripening year are yet to come. But I can't think of them; my heart is with the roses. . . .
We have a good many people here already. They seem nice and quiet; but they alarm me by their shrewdness and knowledge of the place. Nay, they irritate me; for the other day when I went in pursuit of blaeberries on the mountains, and even compromised myself in the most fatal manner by taking a largish basket-behold a family of some seven or eight right on in front of me triumphantly making a clean sweep where I would have sworn no one but myself could imagine the existence of blaeberries. Oh it was mortifying. Perhaps they were aware of me and my poor hopes, perhaps not ! I was so angry that I got into a row with a native who presumed to direct me on the way. He little knew the cause of my churlishness. A bear robbed of her young is nothing to a blaeberry-picker cheated of his blae- berries. And, remember, that to make sure of an absolutely solitary control and prime-seisin of blae- berries, I shall have to go to a mountain twelve miles off, which is a blaeberry mountain proper, and has its name from that fact-' Slieu ny Fraghane,' Mountain of the Blaeberries. How I should like to hear and see you trying to pronounce the Keltic syllables!
You do not say how the story goes on ? And a drama, or a dramatized form of the same story ? Why don't they come ? I have magnificent leisure and a large appetite, which, sooth to say, I 'bear in hand' with the Odyssey and Boccaccio. By-the- bye the idea grows upon me that the Odyssey is a comedy, in fact, almost a burlesque of the Iliad, not a vulgar burlesque. The Greek mind could never have descended to that. But 'there's odds o" ' burlesques " ' ; and I ' whiles 'get glimpses of quite a celestial travesty, which I suspect is the Odyssey. Undoubtedly it is full of laughter. Ariosto best helps us to understand this, though I believe there is more of genuine comic vein in the Odyssey. You read Italian. I have a great desire to write short stories, but have no power. Couldn't you write some for me? The Italians are the veritable masters in this kind. Boccaccio almost strings me up for the effort, but the fact that he does not altogether is a proof that it is not in me. I fancy it is in you. Write six or twelve. For longer and more splendid comedy I would read Ariosto. Considering the dimensions of his stories, it is astounding how he can sit so lightly; the dainty way in which he hovers over the subject and keeps aloof in a disdainful facility of treatment is wholly admirable. We moderns are far too much in earnest, that's the mischief of us.
I don't often hear from Clifton. I am sure that I have many good friends there, but few consider it necessary to trouble me with the assurance. Still it is very pleasant to have it in black and white.
RAMSEY, July 2, 893.
The youth is right or nearly so. It was no mood that season takes away or brings. My whole life is in ' Clifton 1,' a life steadfastly or normally rebellious against the calling to which circumstances had com- pelled me. You see these boys divine the thing- bless them! And so , a boy of boys, thought it was impatience of routine; really a very good, if inadequate, solution. And there let it rest, for evidently you will not take N. as fully and obviously explaining all
I must, however, write to W. For he is the last man in the world to whom I could apply such words as ' truculent quack.' It was deliciously characteristic of him, the magnanimity, or, at any rate, the equanimity with which he had already appropriated the jibe to himself. . . .
Your ' Sir Thomas I' is absolute. Yes, that is the murex; but I should be ashamed of myself. I stand abashed before the positively awful splendour of the words, ' Let the world be deceived in thee as they are in the lights of heaven.' I do not think language can be carried to a higher point than that. It is something that any one could have been, however distantly, reminded of a pearl so transcendent by my poor murex.
1 See p. 188.
The quotation from Sir Thomas Browne I used to illustrate T. E. B.'s 'imperial murex':
That imperial murex grain No carrack ever bore to Thames or Tiber.
RAMSEY, ISLE OF MAN, July 91 1893.
Your letter came all right, for the Isle of Man is a small place, except in the estimation of its in- habitants.
Thanks for the kind things you say about my book. It is a sort of ' lucky bag'; and people take what pleases them. Those who are kindly disposed are content to do this, and ' chuck the balance.'
I fancy it is my last. What's the good of gleaning in such a field?
No, Sherborne would not have done a bit better, nor any place with boys! Some heavenly, cloud- cuckoo land high up in air between St. Bees and Måughold would have been about the spot. No ?raäs nor vatbaywyos should hover in that atmosphere, an"E7ro*, a 7rotgT7js, a Xopõs õpvt0wv, at worst a Triballic bugaboo to talk gibberish; then I should have been quite happy.
The island is glorious. Ever since February we have been enjoying untold delights. The three winter months, though, were unredeemably horrible.
RAMSEY, July 9, 1893.
I think I told you of my bitter disappointment in the matter of blaeberries. Triumphant visitors had gone up before me, and swept the whole mountain- side. However, I had my revenge. I went up about a week ago, and discovered that their ravages terminated at a certain point, and beyond that point I got any quantity. In fact, I was in a position to sit down quietly and pick the arm's length all round, occasionally shifting, but without rising. That is excellent blaeberry-picking. We had them stewed, a pis-aller, no doubt, for they ought decidedly to be in some sort of crust to get the fine pent-up flavour and bouquet of the situation. . . . Edith wouldn't touch them.... But it requires more than human self- control to abstain when the hot vapour curls up under the nostrils of Jove. Concentrated by crust, I verily believe even Edith would have given in.
Picking blaeberries, not eating them, is very fatiguing. They require such minute attention. And then at night, when you close your eyes, they crowd upon you, and you can't get rid of them; they haunt your sleep, i. e. if you get any sleep at all.
RAMSEY, July 18, 1893.
Time will run on and fetch that age of gold and Irwin which is to set me up for another winter.
My brethren are rather troublesome. My reading, and my' Repetition,' and my writing suffer terribly; doubtless you will see the effect of all this jaw in the copy of verses which I write in response to your appeal. It appears in the National Observer of July 15, which accompanies this. There is a direful misprint'. Independently of this nuisance, I think the verses have some power both of style and idea, though they supply no adequate rca0apffis. Where can you get it ? . . .
The root of the matter in him.' I should think so. To see such a man standing modestly in the crowd that surrounds the procession of authors is quite pathetic. A lay-brother of such parts, with twice the fire and twice the critical acumen that go to make the loftiest contemporary professional. The root-and from this root no flower? Don't tell me! If it be but the flower of a noble modesty, I know none that excels it in bloom or in fragrance. . . .
What your brother says of the epic Schwung is so true. Still he must miss the metre 1; it is true more in the Iliad than in the comparatively colloquial and domestic Odyssey. It is a support, at any rate a consolation, to sing the great rhythms to oneself as one ploughs on. The music, sir, the music !
I preached on Sunday twice at St. Matthew's in Douglas. This is the old church of the town, now threatened by some dreadful Hausmannic proceedings. I went up to encourage these poor people to defend themselves, to keep their parish, and so forth. It was the church where I was baptized (I was going to say where I was born), and it has undergone hardly any change up to the present. This was my occasion, and suited me down to the ground. The blessed old things gathered round me, some of them waylaying me at street corners to tell me they had been married by any father. This is the food for souls, is it not ? Now don't laugh!
To-day, like a donkey, I have been up picking blaeberries on the mountains. It came on to rain, and I persevered and got a pudding, but also I dem- nition' wet. So I don't feel quite right. It is no use trying to be careful. These hills demoralize me. I feel as if they couldn't and wouldn't harm me.
Walters did an extremely kind thing the other day. Two old things going about with an entertain-. ment (!) of Recitations (really old, for I heard them at it' thirty-five years ago) took a letter with them from me to Walters. It was the merest chance, I thought, but I suggested that just possibly Walters might give them an evening at the College. By Jove, sir, he did give them an evening, and gave them a substantial fee, and filled their poor trembling cup of Auld-Lang-Syne with joy and thanksgiving, and dismissed them with honour, almost reeling with the intoxication of so unwonted a success, the boys giving them a mighty three-times-three which shook the welkin, and stirred amazingly the pulsation of two hearts that have long desisted from the exercise of hope.
The verses are to be found in T. E. B.'s Collected Poems, ed. Macmillan. The misprint was 'land-clap' for hand-clap.'1 i. e. in a prose translation.
RAMSEY, August 3, 1893o
By this time your troubles are over, and rest has been found for the weary soul. We expect you on Monday or Tuesday next and are eagerly looking forward.
The weather is not absolutely settled, but it gives fine splendours. To-day, for instance, is quite lovely, whether for sea or mountain.
I have just returned from the College, where I was preaching the 'Breaking-up' sermon.
PS. Just received your letter. The Edinburgh escapade (!) removes you entirely from the Liverpool route. You will come very comfortably, and very economically, by Ardrossan. Also you will be set ashore here, almost at my door.
Once for all. The whole of my summer happiness is staked upon this visit of yours; and all that is Brown and Brown's centres at the point of your landing here with at least a clear fortnight of sojourn. Everything on earth is postponed, is in fact praeter- mitted and forgotten, in presence of the one imperious necessity. We shall have a time!!
RAMSEY, August 17, 1893.
The emptiness of the smoking-room is quite sufficient evidence that you had a rough passage. However, all is condoned, reconciled, harmonized, 'lost in wonder, love, and praise' at Kingham. There, safe in the middle fields, you smoke the pipe of peace, and forget the watery ways. The salt evaporates from your skin, the Manx accent fades from your ear, and you are your excellent English self again
I have finished Tess. It is very unsatisfactory. The last part, the part after Clare's return, is in- tolerable. It is also weak, just as if Hardy had been very unwell, yet forced by the serial method of pub lication to produce ' copy.' One observes this in the languor of the story, combined with the cantharadine grip, or rather griping, of an occasional effort. The original impulse dies, but makes a few desperate, ineffectual kicks. Such are the Stonehenge business, and the ' black flag.' Fancy grasping at Stonehenge to heighten a situation! And how badly it is done! It surely was going out of the way to drag in the blessed old thing at all. But, when he was about it, he ought to have made a better use of the machine. Unquestionably he had an attack of influenza just at that point. I resent it enormously. A man must be either miserably out of sorts, or fearfully hard up for sensational colour, to make a snatch at Salisbury Plain. It is just like rouge; and that too upon a moribund face, for the story has already shown every symptom of approaching death.
The ' black flag'! Cheap, though creepy. What an end! And do you think Clare and Liza-Lu are even respectable as they crawl away-hand-in-hand, it is true, but yoked in a dismal fellowship, inevitably suggested by the expressed wish of Tess that they should marry ? Notice too the vague treatment of Liza-Lu's person. I take Liza-Lu to be a sort of giant succubus, or succuba would it be ?-an ëbauche of God knows what. And these two are to continue the business. Liza-Lu is to be all that Tess ought to have been. This is the most commonplace of expedients, and never can satisfy. Liza-Lu indeed conceived of by me as a compound of Undine, Caddy Jellyby, and a possible Doll Tearsheet ! And then how abominable is the later Tess ! Her first fall was nothing. But the second What! that fellow! the chap that she had seen as Methodist preacher Incredible! She couldn't. No woman could. How you detest her! Of course you do, for she is simply monstrous-a portent. And yet you liked her. Cer tainly I did, but not now-this is ruin indeed. Clare had told her to have recourse to his father in case of extremity. The author has slipped that in lest we should feel Clare to be guilty of criminal neglect. But he failed to perceive how terribly it aggravated the guilt of Tess. Had Tess pride? Pride! What And this pride threw her into the arms (shall we call them arms?) of the hydra D'Urberville ! And this is the Tess we knew. The fact is Hardy doesn't know his people, and, for the sake of sensational effect, he will take one of his own sweet countrywomen and drag her through all this impossible and inconsistent dirt. Don't tell me that this is the aim of a true artist.
Where is your 1raOos ? Where is your rcaOapuis ? You can't eat your cake and have your cake. The Tess of the later part is not the Tess of the earlier. You surely must have some kind of identity in order to maintain the most otiose interest in the victim. But she is gone, vanished like Iphigenia from among the flames. Something has been left behind, substi- tuted for her; but not a deer of Dian's herd-good gracious, no! a mask of the unutterable, faeces and the fiend
Well now, perhaps I have said enough. It will be long before I recover from this abominable book. But I am not sorry I have read it. There is a decided talent, but it is wasted. The heroine was ' condemned under an arbitrary law, not founded in nature.' That is, the law of chashiy is not founded in naiio-e. Methinks a precious doctrine. But the second fall of Tess ? Do you condemn it or do you not? Did she then merely break an arbitrary law? If so you can sympathize with her. But, in the name of all that is holy, I cannot and will not sympathize.
Kindest regards to Fowler r. Get him to play some Bach to you, and to show you birds.
I go to Laxey on Wednesday to lecture on all sorts of things.
RAMSEY, August 26, 1893.
Many thanks for your story. It is most delightful. Why didn't you read it ? Nothing could be better. If it were written out in a fair large hand, I should much like to read it in public myself. It is Manx to the marrow: all that it wants is the pronunciation, which no spelling, however phonetic, can supply nor, indeed, can any but the native produce vocally.
The ideal method of publication would be for me to get it off by heart, and then recite it. Much is lost by having to use a MS. Think of this another time! . . .
RAMSEY, September 2, 1893.
. . . Thank you very much for the kind words you spoke after my lecture 2, especially for what you said on the topic of 'making fun.' I hear that the popular version of my visit to Laxey was as follows:-' Pazon Brown was praechin' on the Manx idiots. Lek enough for the Asylum-lek.' . . .
1 W. Warde Fowler. 2 Lecture on' Manx Idioms.'-E. R.
RAMSEY, September 27, 1893.
Concerning Tess, you have not answered one point of mine, viz. that Tess could have gone to her father-in-law, and had positively been told to do so by her husband, in case of need. She deliberately preferred the Methodist blackguard. I believe Hardy introduced these directions as given by Clare (is that his name?) simply to save this wretched man from the reproach of leaving his wife in such an impasse. Clare was already so contemptible a creature that it wouldn't have done to add another taint of imbecility, not to say infamy.
I don't see Power in the book, but I do note considerable beauty in parts. The women at the dairy farm, though sufficiently ridiculous about that dreadful Clare, are really admirable in their bovine (vaccine) sympathy with Tess, and their self-renuncia tion. Here I detect a touch of clover quite guiltless of turnip. They chew the cud of a placid grief with much sweetness. Still it is all cud-chewing, bless the wenches!
I read nothing! the Island harasses me with its loveliness, and I can't stay in the house. Also I am smoking more than I did. I have written an article, though, in my Manx character series, which I will send you when it is printed. It is the last.
I heard one or two good stories at Braddan when I preached there (last Sunday). One was of a child at the Sunday school. 'What ought you to do on Sunday? ' ' Go to church.' ' What ought you to do next?' ' Go to chapel.' Was it not precisely the story for a vicar to tell? You feel the atmosphere-what ?
Your holiday has evidently been a good one, and will have done you good. The little Island may count for something; but the converse with your own kin and with Fowler in those pleasant country places must count for more. I have no brother now, and that is a sad, sad want.
RAMSEY, September 21, 1893.
You don't care for school work '-but I fear there is no choice. I demur to your statement that when you take up schoolmastering your leisure for this kind of thing will be practically gone. Not at all. If you have the root of the matter in you-and I think you have-the school work will insist upon this kind of thing as a relief. My plan always was to recognize two lives as necessary-the one the outer kapelistic life of drudgery, the other the inner and cherished life of the spirit. It is true that the one has a tendency to kill the other, but it must not, and you must see that it does not.
It's an awfully large order, but we really need three lives-the life of pedagogic activity, as strenuous as you like; the social life nicely arranged, and kept in hand, but never regarded as serious; and the intellectual and spiritual life.
The pedagogic is needful for bread and butter, also for a certain form of joy; of the inner life you know what I think; the social lift is required of us and must be managed. You had better act on the supposition that you are never to make your bread and butter by anything but schoolmastering: That supposition, amounting to a conviction, will. keep you hard at it. Make quite sure of that department. Your inner work had better be kept as a solace.
One thing that I always felt about my own verses, if I may refer to myself, was the hope that some day my friends, including my old boys grown up to man's estate, might accept them as human pledges, and, by a certain retrospective sympathy, bear me upon their hearts. This has largely happened to me, and is now the source of my greatest happiness. When the time comes for publication-say some five years hence-nothing will have happened to your verses to make them fail of their full effect. . . . As regards publication, now or hereafter, there is but one way open-the work must be sent to a publisher, who, or his reader, will treat you with the utmost in- difference, except in so far as they judge the work good. The first encounter with them is horrible the coldest sensation, the feeling of utter friendlessness ; very like what death must be, that final sensation in which we are destined to be absolutely alone. I wish I could help you more. All I can do is to assure you that your work is most promising. But man can't live by ' sonnets' alone, and no publisher will look at you on the other side of the street till he is quite satisfied there ' is money' in you. That is their hideous phrase.
RAMSEY, October 3, 1893.
. . . I am extremely grateful to you for your kind words about my lecture on ' Manx Character.' You do indeed give praise freely and unreservedly when you are about it. There are some people who will hedge under any circumstances: you are not one. The 'inside 1 ' Manxman had better be told the truth about our people. It would be an insult to approach such a subject without the firmest resolve to speak the truth. And the truth I have spoken. That is one thing I can claim to have done. I am not an advocate, I am a judge: I sit on the bench. My knowledge of the case entitles me to the seat, and no one shall oust me from it.
But, after all, if the person whose character is submitted to inquiry does not exactly leave the court without the slightest stain, ëzc., &c. , are not you surprised to see how very creditably he comes out from the examination? The analysis was a prolonged and searching one, yet he never broke down, my dear old Manxman, not he. Why, I consider the result quite a triumph. And then the desire to have it all your own way, all praise, and no blame, all sugar and butter-ah ! how natural! It only makes me love them more, just as one loves a pettish and wayward child.
The Manxman is good and sound, and a man to live with, a lovable and livable man. That is surely the main point, and that is the upshot of the matter.
1 I had said the 'outside Manxman' would be pleased with what had been said, but I was afraid the ' inside Manxman'-those now living on the island-might not altogether like everything therein said.-E. R.
RAMSEY, October 9, 1893.
I was sorry to see Jowett's death in the paper. Nothing that has yet appeared does justice to the subject. That's two of my old examiners, and about the third I should not be surprised at his having gone long ago, without standing on the ceremony of ' taking his leave.' Rawlinson, I think, was his name. Timely warnings! I always owe Jowett for his kindness when he withdrew me gently, but firmly, from the grim talons of Mark.
I went up Snaefell the other day. On the top we were caught in a great hailstorm. It only lasted about ten minutes, but such a blackness! straight at a bound from Ireland-that was its track. Till then Ireland had been under the thickest veil; but the veil vanished in this deluge; and we saw the Mourne Mountains clear as crystal, but black as night. A space there was of purest sky, but no sunlight; a space of dark gunpowder tint, from which your sweet old mother looked forth the most bewitching, fascinating vixen. Oh, how she hated us ! A fixed, eternal, glaring stare of hate and implacable revenge. No, not us, poor little kind-hearted, goosey-gander Mona, but you, you English. How the hail-stones hissed hate So it is that night and day these terribly ' naughty passions' pass over us in transition. We are in the line of fire, and we sometimes try to reconcile you. But what can we do ? That day, for instance, we did put up the sweetest little kiss of a rainbow just over Barrule. But Ireland stared fierce and unmiti- gated; and your dear old bungling, well-meaning Britishers looked rather confused and flurried; but in five minutes had recovered the inevitable attitude of perfect self-complacency, and the Pharisee in evcelsi's. But sure you're a noble people, and I allis said so.
By-the-bye, notwithstanding the shelter of the hut, we got very wet, and I thought I was in for an influenza from which ' salpetre wouldn't save me, and that's a sthrong pickle.' However, I am 'just for' a sore throat, which is a sufficient nuisance, and almost confines me to the house.
I send you a copy of N. O., last Saturday's. ' It con- tains an article by me on Pusey's Life, which I hope and think you will like. Before writing it, I really read the book, and steeped my mind in all the tenderest and sweetest of my old Ch. Ch. and Oriel recollections. Liddon writes like a gentleman, and has affected me much by certain suppressions which are obvious enough to the initiated. As to Pusey, I stand amazed. Church' (!) had left me unconvinced, New- man, Burgon, the Mozleys had hardly shaken me; but now before the man himself thus revealed (and 1 Cf, p. 2']. His admiration for Dean Church was unqualified. the revelation is unquestionably genuine), I throw up my hands, and fall upon my knees. Yes, here was a good, good, real man! And from a Patriotic point of view, what are we not to think of the patience, the firmness, the absolute confidence in his fellow-country- men with which he waited, bestrode that fiery Pegasus, rode the great race, and won, while Newman lay sprawling on the Via Sacra ? This is the unmis- takable Englishman, this dogged Pusey ; dogged, but did you see the tenderness! God forgive me!
When I think of my blindness! Well, well, ' there's a dale that'll have to be forgiven at some of us-aye, a dale.' But, bedad, sor, I'm as thrue a Protestan' as the wan o' ye, for all that. I feel sure that no man did anything like as much as Pusey to stave off Popery in England. Don't you agree with me?
What do you think of Gore and those people? Tell me. I feel a good deal attracted towards them, but don't know much about them, except that I suppose Pusey would have had nothing to say to them. But then that's of course.
The island is still as green as an emerald. Ah, that poor dear outcast in the West! If she were only as happy as we! But that look of sullen defiance! there was no mistake about it. And I have no consolation in the glibness of Chamberlain, or the bow-wow of Salisbury.
RAMSEY, October 12, 1893.
Your account of Jowett's funeral is most interesting. . . . Your brother, as usual, was on the very edge of observation (acies observandi) : most striking was his remark about the fine set of heads. . . . I believe that Jowett, like so many Englishmen, carried' the principle of not pinning his heart upon his sleeve for laws to peck at so far as to forget that, besides the pecking daws, there are the craving hearts of others . . . craving for the food, which, God help us! is not too abundantly spread upon the tables of this world. But it is rash of me to speculate: frailties, at the worst; and the dear old elegist reminds us where these are to be left.
Do you think of going through with Lucian ? Would it be advisable?-the whole of a voluminous author ? . . . I must say it seems to me a kind of slavery: and of slavery no kind can ever repay one.
RAMSEY, October 15, 1893.
Fowler's 1 printed enclosure 2 is a document of great importance. I did not need it to strengthen me in my Unionism. Only no one can conceive how unhappy I feel about Ireland. No hope whatever, not in my time. It is only human nature that you steady old Unionists should feel something like exhilaration at the removal of this shadow. But to me the removal of one shadow is but the descent of another still more fatal.
In Daudet's Lettres de mon Moulin there is one which I have read and re-read, and would read for ever. It really is absolute (!). It is called ' Les Vieux'-only about half a dozen pages, imperishable, inestimable. Do read it.
Let me make a confession. This is the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, and I have read Ishmael, by Miss Braddon. It is not altogether rot: but I never before realized the inequality of the authoress.
1 W. Warde Fowler.
2 Reasons for not conceding' Home Rule' to Ireland.
RAMSEY, October 24, 1893.
That I don't answer your letters more promptly is a psychological study of the most interesting kind. I sometimes think the reason may be the instan- taneous repercussion of your touch-the impulse is to reply on the moment. Now, as circumstance is the beastliest of idiots, one can never be sure of doing this. Time passes, and more patient and phlegmatic desires attain their accomplishment, while the primary desire and intention vanishes futile and frustrate.
Your book on Flaubert promises to be a very exhaustive treatise. From the nature of the case, it will be very instructive for the English people. To understand Flaubert is to understand the most intensely un-English spirit that ever breathed. That will do us good; we sadly want our loins to be girded, and, for the matter of that, our lamps to be set burning. The excessive scrupulousness of Flaubert in his literary work is not likely to have any imitators this side of the Channel. But it is well we should know, if only in distant inaccessibility, these children of light. I have read Le Docteur Rameau of Ohnet ;- first part good, beginning of second part (some three chapters) intolerable rot; the remainder, except just one slip at the very end, magnificent.
But I never tire of Daudet's Lettres de mon Moulin. You know the short story called'Les Vieux.' Ah, that is exactly what I would fain write! Such a merest trifle, but such ineffable loveliness. Doubtless you have read it: you will at once recollect it, when I quote the phrase, 'Bon jour braves gens ! je suis l'ami de Maurice.' The quality! the quality! Oh, do let us aim at that ; it is everything. And to think that it should seem so casual, just a drop amongst a thousand others, when it is really the gutta serena of a priceless pearl that doesn't drop at all. These things delight me, but they also depress me. They don't perplex me at all. I quite see how natural it is for certain minds to energize in this way: but then I can't; and that is settled for ever, and probably was settled some fifty years ago. In your case, it is not settled. Strive, strive to enter in at the strait gate! Even I (madman that I am!) have not yet given up all endeavour, utterly as I have abandoned hope. The endeavour is to write one poor story of about five, not more than ten pages, that the world will not willingly let die.
What say you? Shall we go in for this? Shall we get the little bit of canvas, and stretch it on an easel that shall be slender as les Pals de la bonne Fiërge, but strong as adamant?
Dear Tarver, a visit to you would be exquisite; but it cannot be as yet. Let us hope, ' before I go hence,' I may manage it. At present, correspondence (not, I trust, with the reciprocity on the one side only) must do the business. Our brave little Isle has behaved admirably all the summer; and it still looks very pleasant and green. I have drunk largely of its essence, and am all the better.
RAMSEY, October 29, 1893.
Many thanks for the loan of Maupassant.
I have read one volume-the Conies du dour et de la nuit. I confess I am a good deal disappointed. The Aveu is fair, but not much beyond the kind of story which commercial travellers used to tell in the good old times. Whether this simple straightforward kind of lubricity is still the thing around the supper table and in the smoking-room, I can't say. They are gone from my gaze, those neiges d'antan. The story, however, is ' Le Bonheur.' I don't deny the gruesome merits of Le Vieux (really admirable) ; but, you know, a little bit of sugar suits English. Maupassant is far from saccharine, deals as little as possible in the article. But the old craving is in us, and the absinthe will hardly go down without it. Independently of that, one likes to know that in entering the inferno of this great cynic one is not bidden to ' abandon all hope.' Why, here is a lovely story, and a manly. No, no, these men have not scooped out their hearts and made metal cups of them. The old alternate stroke is there, the see-saw of what men really are and must be, up to the heaven of purity and peace, down to the sentina of honest nastiness. Aren't we made so ? He that denies either Schwung is a monster and no man. This little sketch is so exquisite too as a matter of art. Corsica, as seen occasionally from some point of view on the Riviera, suggests the situation. How different the Corsica at the beginning, a shadow, a wraith, and at the end, the home of these poor old things! By Jove, I felt this very much. I always feel like this in looking at hills far away, especially when they are separated from me like those of Cumberland and Scotland by the sea, and are only visible at rare intervals.
All my children are forsaking me: I intend myself going to Castletown and spending a week with my old chum Pleignier. I doubt not we shall have plenty of Flaubert, Maupassant, &c. , and, if we don't burn the midnight oil, imbibe a good deal of the midnight whusk.
RAMSEY, November a, 1893.
I was afraid the passage would be stormy, although the wind was rather favourable. You had it, I think, technically speaking, on the starboard quarter, and she probably both kicked and rolled a good deal. . . . I saw your boat for a good while; I went up Douglas Head, and walked along the Marine Drive, and so on to Kerristhal, near Port Soderick, beyond the completed portion. It is really very fine. Then I turned inland and wandered past Summercot, Oakhill, Middle, Pulrose to Braddan-a regular Braddan ' sthroul,' terminating at the Union Mills station. It was a soothing walk, but rather melancholy. I found myself beset with the thought how the tradition of all this must cease with me personally. None of you can retain it, and, of my contemporaries, hardly any one has the clue. That made me-well, I think I may say, a little sad.
RAMSEY, November 9, 1893-
I went to Douglas on Friday week and saw Dora off by the boat. So I went to the Head, the Marine Drive. Really very fine, though I was shocked to see, on a great advertizing board, that Bishop Bardsley had described the Great Orme's Head as not being in it with the Manx marvel. Not in it! What a phrase to fall from the lips of a bishop! As I advanced on my walk I had other things to think of. It is my old parish; every knoll and nook haunted by a thousand memories. And indeed I felt rather sad. The thought that troubled me was this - who is to perpetuate the traditions? They must go with me. The whole business will be a perfect blank: not only tribal traditions, but family. My children know next to nothing of them. And these traditions are the most precious deposit, though not of a nature to be made public. ' The wind passeth over it, and it is gone ; and the place thereof knoweth it no more.'
Under this burden I stumbled on. The new generation must build the fabric of its own interests, and the old must vanish. Yet there are families in which, by some strong vital force of projection on the one hand and a retrospective adhesiveness on the other, all that is best and worthiest is transmitted. It was never so with us. We live vigorously in the living present, and extract the gold from the current years, being amply satisfied with contemporary relations. I alone have tried to build a cairn of memories in my books. But that is nothing. This isolation is the nightmare that oppresses me. If, in another world, I could find my brothers, restored and fitted for the converse, what a joy it would be! Perhaps it will be so. This is a long monody. Do forgive me!
Tarver writes ' constant.' He sent me last week two books of Maupassant-short stories, rather disappointing, but some of them excessively clever, one beautiful. Maupassant did not attach much importance to beauty; but, in spite of himself, she sometimes hung upon his neck.
A very kind letter from Ainger. But how funny it is that so many people are surprised that I can write decent English verse! They had focussed me as a dialectic poet, a man of the people, imperfectly educated, and so forth; and they seem rather impatient at my venturing in a new and more cultivated field. What ought I to do? Shall I put on my next title page-, Late Fellow of Oriel,' &c. ? or am I always to abide under this ironic cloak of rusticity?
RAMSEY, November 7, 1893.
Here is a pretty enough testimonium. It occurs in a hymn which, down to the fifteenth century, is said to have been sung at Mantua in the Mass of St. Paul:-
Ad Maronis mausoleum Ductus fudit super cum Piae rorem lacrimae Quantum, inquit, to fecissem, Vivum si to invenissem, Poetarum maxime !
Daniel gives this in his Thesaurus Hymnologicus, 574. Don't you think it a delightful instance of the Renaissance nai'vetë
? I will attempt a translation :-
Brought to Maro's tomb, he cried,
O'er the flower of Mantua's pride Shedding many a pious tear:
' Living if I could have found thee,
How I would have loved and crowned thee, Chief of poets, ever dear!'
Milton's marvellous blend will no doubt be present to your mind. Also Walter Map :-
Meum est propositum in taberna mori, Et vinum appositum sitienti ori,
Ut dicant, quum venerint angelorum chori, 'Deus sit propitius isti potatori.'
'Tis my firm resolve to die
In a tavern lying,
Wine unto my thirsty lips
Kindest hands supplying.
So shall angels come to me,
Bands of angels, sighing 'God have mercy on his soul! '
Tis the drunkard dying.'
But this is not the same attitude of mind. There is a suspicion of the rowdy, as in Villon. Whereas these blessed old clergymen at Mantua sang their ditty in the most perfect good faith.
Do you know Robert Bridges' poems at all? I have never seen them, but there are some extracts, I think, in Temple Bar for Oct. Very fine, I think. Funnily enough, the Temple Bar reviewer urges him to translate Sophodes ! but is there never to be an end of this translation mania ? What do you think of Jowett's Plato ? I often see it described as a masterpiece. Is it? Plato's style is so all-important that I cannot but ' hae me doots.' Again, I am at Dante for the what/h. (!) time. Few joys are to be compared with this. The calm is so soothing, resting on such enormous strength. The felicities can only be adequately appreciated by an Italian, but they often pierce with a perfectly awful splendour. I think Dante is monotonous, but what a monotone! He drowns you in a dream, and you never want to wake. This is sheer selfishness and egotism, mooning on about my reading and so forth. I don't feel to be talking to you. Stop me when I take this line.
And commend me to Clifton friends. Whom do you see most of? R. I hope remembers me. He is a pure righteous soul with the root of the matter in him.... I shall gossip for ever. Tuus admodum.
RAMSEY, November 11, 1893.
I went to Peel on Thursday, and greatly, vastly dined. We had a very pleasant company, no speeches, just one or two songs.
I probably smoked half a dozen cigars, and as many pipes. Deus sei proprius ! These Peel men are most interesting: they were the upper class, not ' Tommy the Mate' & Co. I saw Tommy, though, next morning. He recited to me some of his verses. The nice old creature ! but really egotistic in a degree which Well, they don't get much from us, and the kindly listener is to them at once a solace and a temptation.
Rowley's interpretation of my 'Rapture" had already occurred to me, and I now begin to prefer it. The Mourne Mountains and what lies behind them- obvious! The longing look, the quousque tandem, the ' come over into Macedonia and help us.' So let hate betake herself to her native hell, and let us bridge the Channel with a bridge of sighs! God bless old Ireland! When could we go over there together? It would be so refreshing. I have a lot of pent-up love in me: let me go and pour it forth where perhaps it would not be unwelcome.
Dante is still my companion. Some things bore me, astronomical horrors, indications of time, Ptolemaic complications. I wish he had left those dismalities to ' Chaos and old Night.' Yet one is uncomfortable at passing them over. You remember M.'s disgust at being hurried over loci desPerali in our Italian readings. I have not yet attained to the true nervous tension which makes some men to 'jump' the bothers and land in Elysium. Now, sir, I talk of Tommy the Mate's egotism! how about mine? This life is a producer and conserver of egotism. Hang it all! if schoolmastering is but a sorry business, at any rate it mixes you up with contemporaries and compels you to take account of them.
' Cf. letter of October 9, 1893.
RAMSEY, November 13, 1893.
I have been reading your second volume 1 with great delight.... Don't you think the Polily of the Athe- nzans is meant as a satire? It reads exactly like one, witty and almost bitter. All these lesser works are wondrous interesting. Even the Ways and Means carries me with it as on a flowing tide of energy. You have excited my appetite for what is yet to come. Some of the very best wine is yet unbroached. . . .
Music deigns to visit these island spaces: I don't mean merely Nature's music, though of this we have good store [listen! the moan, the sob, the vagitus !] ; but our Manx people are musical. They have fine voices, and they sing in tune. This latter quality of theirs is almost as infallible as are their aitches ; for which let us be duly thankful. We had a capital concert some weeks ago, to which I contributed a reading of ' Peggy's Wedding.'
3 Translation of Xenophon.
M. wrote me nearly a year ago a long letter, a sort of Confessio Fidei combined with an invitation, challenge, or what not. I never answered Zi! Men who go in for I new religions' must not apply to me. I do not mean to say that ' the old is better,' but I am content to drink the blessed old vintage as long as I am di qua. When I I drink it new in my Father's kingdom,' these bothers will be of the past.
RAMSEY, November 14, 1893.
I wrote you a rigmarole the other day about the nai'veti of the Renaissance exhibited in a mediaeval hymn. Of course it was Virgil. It was quite natural that Paul should be conceived of as shedding the pious tear' over Virgil.
I have been reading Dakyns' second volume, and am delighted with it. I really don't know which to admire most-the architect, artist, or man. But the notes I think are the best. How deliciously he does ramble! No, it is not rambling either. It is the gesture of some lovely butterfly that lights upon or hovers above a flower. With what dexterity he taps the text, with the application of what consummate instruments! Other critics can probe or dissect; but who like Dakyns can maintain with such exquisite libration the asymptotic attitude which is so charming, and, let me add, so characteristic? The translation reads well. I have not the original to compare. In the AgeszZaus he attains his apogee: in Dakyns' English it is magnificent. The peroration is quite masterly.
Altogether it is most refreshing to find that our old friend has by no means lost himself in those latitudes. Let me remind you that I am not above receiving with pleasure a bit of Clifton gossip. I observe that you sedulously (?) exclude that form of interest. But, happy though I may be in my island life, I can't forget how long I went in and out among you at Clifton; and where I conversed for so many years there must needs be interests that touch me nearly. They cannot but come closer both to you and me, certainly to you, than the affairs of Manxland.
So let me have, for instance, a report (from your point of view) of a masters' meeting. Tell me how people looked, as well as what they said, or if they said nothing. Let the canvas glow! Certainly I would have decorum: this is, of course, the subaudition ; and this I know you will faithfully reproduce. But supposing in that serene, slightly colourless atmosphere, some one has made an ass of himself, why not give me the benefit of an afifione lutro ? Here people make asses of themselves every day; but there, in proportion to the infrequency is the piquancy of the emergence. Then the 'Merry Wives of Clifton.' Ah, my dear sir, you say you don't know them. Get out! you ought to know them: 'tis a field like another, and indeed a fertile one-a field, did I say? a parterre, a pleasaunce ! Don't tell me, sir! Take counsel, and let me be admitted to the feast private and particular.
RAMSEY, November r7, 1893.
The admirable 1 Fowler has sent me a volume of Bridges' Poems. Wasn't it kind of him? Many of them are very beautiful. The gem is ' The Windmill.' Let me copy it for you; indeed, I straightway got it off by heart: so here it is.
The green corn waving in the dale,
The ripe grass waving on the hill
I lean across the paddock pale
And gaze upon the giddy mill.
Its hurtling sails a mighty sweep
Cut thro' the air: with rushing sound
Each strikes in fury down the steep,
Rattles, and whirls in chase around.
Beside his sacks the miller stands
On high within the open door
A book and pencil in his hands,
His grist and meal he reckoneth o'er.
His tireless merry slave the wind
Is busy with his work to-day
From whencesoe'er he comes to grind;
Q He hath a will and knows the way.
He gives the creaking sails a spin,
The circling millstones faster flee,
The shuddering timbers groan within,
And down the shoots the meal runs free.
The miller giveth him no thanks,
And doth not much his work o'erlook .
He stands beside the sacks, and ranks
Cb The figures in his dusty book.
There! that is worthy of Heine, and wonderfully like him.
1 W. Warde Fowler.
I have written a pendant for the Virgilio-Pauline whimsy. This is it
We are led to Maro's bust, And we slake the sacred dust, Not with pious tears like Paul. Reason pregnant is for weeping, Where Virgilius lies a-sleeping, And we hear the urgent call- 'Construe! Construe!' Head of Priscian Broken oft, Apollo Lycian,
God that wield'st the silver bow, Help us, one faint glimmer send us, Muses nine, assist, befriend us,
Oh! Pierian virgins, oh! For the master's look is horrid, And his corrugated forehead Indicates the usual signs.
We are done, sirs, we are spun, sirs- All is black beneath the sun, sirs- 'Every one five hundred lines'!
Many, many thanks for the good baccy. Birkett and I have both ' sampled' it.
I have just read your' Don Quixote 'in the Monthly Packet for May. I remember it well. It is delightful as ever.
RAMSEY, November 28, 1893.
. . . 1 We sat down in some cottages. Some of the people were magnificent, throwing themselves upon you with such vigour of accent, such warmth and fun, and endless receptivity, bright, well pulled together, sonorous, that I nearly staggered under it-not chaff- ' Walking back from Castletown, where he had been staying.
good heavens ! no-but would have been chaff, only it wasn't, for they can't chaff.
Kitty Kermode, alias Kinvig, was the best. She said a very sweet and profound thing (but I can't phrase it as I ought) about the value of friendship, as compared with that of love. A little happy creature of some seventeen giggled in a dark corner, but I let her giggle; the old woman pierced me through and through. O fortunate-O indeed! And these dear things seemed to know that their lot was a happy one. Quod faustum ! Unutterably precious to me is the woman, the native of the hills, almost my own age, or a little younger, whose spirit is set upon the finest springs, and her sympathies have an almost masculine depth, and a length of reflection that wins your confidence and stays your sinking heart.
The lady can't do it. This class, of what I suppose you would call peasant women (I won't have the word), seems made for the purpose of rectifying everything, and redressing the balance, inspiring us with that awe which the immediate presence of abso lute womanhood creates in us. The plain, practical woman, with the outspoken throat and the eternal eyes. Oh, mince me, madam, mince me your pretty mincings ! Deliberate your dainty reticences ! Balbu- tient loveliness, avaunt ! Here is a woman that talks like a bugle, and, in everything, sees God.
My eye! there's a buster. Da veneåm ! it is really too dreadful. I hope you are well. Kindest re- membrances.
I AM ALONE!
RAMSEY, December 3, 1893.
Y. upon Herrick ! What do you mean ? By Jove, we don't know. Does he appreciate the un bowdlerized Herrick ? Herrick of the amatory poems, as well as the divine and moral. Did he ever see ' a tempest in a petticoat'? He may after all leave I merry gestes' behind him. See that you become one of his literary executors! Y. as a denizen of Cythera is lovely.
I am not doing much now; in fact, am very idle. I have been reading too many novels, specially French. This is no good. Pleignier supplies me; so does Tarver. The whole ' bilin" might as well be put in the fire. It is dreadful to get reading these things immediately after breakfast, with the first pipe Of course I ought to be out in this glorious keen air, but, instead of that, I loiter over these ' divilments,' one after another. I get into an armchair by a good fire. A look at yesterday's Standard; and then- Take a novel, blend of Ouida
Metaphors are mixed and sappy- Ardent creatures! how they need a Kindly priest to make them happy But I am not sympathetic,
Spite of all the cash and jewels, And I find my gorge emetic Rising at the hero's duels.
Take another: matrimony Posited, a sober joyaunce Waits the reader ? no, my sonny To my very great annoyance, Hymen opes the golden barriers; 'Tis a race, let him or her win ; I will join the peaceful harriers, Write to Dakyns, write to Irwin. Richepin, Maupassant, great Zola, Pornographic authors recent, Solus picturing cum sola, just a trifle less than decent. Wessex Hardy swears the Channel Shall not baulk his bold beginning, Drops his homely British flannel, Sets his pretty Tess a-sinning ;
Is not frankly, gaily lubrick- Mrs. Grundy will not bear it- So he ducks, her formal rubrick Cheating with a timely caret. English, German, French, Italian- Not the stuff for me, i' faikins ! I will ramble on Slieu Whallian, Write to Irwin, write to Dakyns.
And so I have had a very blessed ramble on Slieu Whallian, I the mountain of the wild colts,' which looks down upon our Tynwald Hill. Soothing, redintegrating, restoring the moral balance, making me young and lusty as an eagle. 'Lustful as a satyr' would better represent the school of writers with whom I have been conversing. Severe, perhaps, upon Hardy; but, unless we accept the theory of weakness and physical indisposition, I can only account for the latter part of Tess as a deliberate imitation of the cruelty and defiance of the common sentiment which I find so rampant in Maupassant. It is true the satire of this tremendous person is terrific, but so cold-blooded. By-the-bye, can satire be cold-blooded? That is more like irony. Yes, he uses irony, but for the purposes of satire. Juvenal never cools down to this point of venomous, deadly sting, this cobra of horror. He gives vent to his saeva indzknatzõ. Not so Maupassant : he never turns a hair, and on you go!
I think his Bel Ami one of the most brilliant and annihilating works. A very devil! But, somewhere behind, there is a God, a God that hisses at his own creation, and spits upon the hurly-burly that has escaped from his hands.
To lay this aside for a while, let us talk, not of Shen Whallian, antidotic though it be, yet not in pari materzå. Let me tell you how delighted I was the other day, when an old pupil of mine sent me a piece of music he had written to the words-, Thou art gone to the grave, but we will not deplore thee.' I refer to the words, rather than to the music, though that is extremely good.
But have you ever quite realized the force of Heber ? Except for the unfortunate choice of a metre, I think those lines are almost perfect. They show what that old Evangelical school could do, when chastened by absolute culture, and guarded by consummate taste. Religious poetry lies open to so many dangers. Hymns Ancient and Modern show the ghastly results only too manifest.
But I find something ' similar the same' in the Christian Year. Not so much, though, a lack of taste as of elevation. What a glorious creature was that Reginald ! You don't know how I love him. Try that poem by any test or standard, and I think you will find it faultless. Yet the emotion and the piety, so often the pitfalls of elegance, have not availed here to mar a single movement. Teres atque rotundus, it stands a Koh-i-noor of sacred song.
And thank God for it! Why should this dear fellow's anxiety, quite honest anxiety, for the souls of men, thwart the native bent of beauty that gave the buoyant lilt, and produced the inevitable phrase? I confess I could, in this poem, spare the buoyancy; it might have been utilized in another ' From Green- land's icy mountains.'
But even in that old enemy of mine, who does not recognize the artist? ' Waft, waft, ye winds, His story'-no-then I give it up. A true child of genius, for all that. He did not live to be a Charles Wesley, nor could he perhaps ever have become that. One Charles Wesley, sir, and no other.
PS.-Enclosed you will find a curious address upon an envelope
Scholar and Historian.' Large, is it not!
RAMSEY, December 25, 1893.
Irwin, whenas the suns, an arrant crew
Of lubbers, cleave the unwilling fissile dark
(But doubtless better hid in Noah's ark),
I think that I will take a shot at you.
Not present is the slightest glimpse of blue,
And yet withouten care, withouten cark,
I rise as lissome as a summer's lark,
And do what I suppose all people do.
I greet the friend whom chiefest I must love,
And unto every Irwin in the land
Peace, plenty, and prosperity I pray.
So shall the merry gods that reign above
Have richest offerings at my grateful hand,
And thine own whisky crown the cheerful day'.
December 27, 1893.
Such a combination of virtues I never expect to see again in any man as God gave us in Bartholomew 2. There was a divine sweetness in his constancy and patience, and the ' humility,' which I see you recognize as an element in his character, was extremely beautiful and touching.
It is an experience that seldom falls to one's lot, to follow slowly but surely through noble avenues of reserve, a soul that withdraws itself as you advance towards the hidden treasures it guarded with such profound modesty.
Simple and sage-simplicity, I imagine, the grand note, simplicity of motive rather than of action, a very deep and rare simplicity. His loss is beyond all losses that I can conceive. Clifton was twined around his very heart: his life was Clifton.
Beside his perfect devotion the ordinary standard of zeal and industry, however honest, is merely respect- able; with some it is only a make-believe of awkward gesticulation.
I append a sonnet, which, to some extent, relieves my sorrow, and which may perhaps help to relieve yours.
F. M. BARTHOLOMEW.
Unselfish, steadfast, absolutely true,
Dear friend, sage counsellor, your every thought
Was ours, as pious Nature inward wrought
The civic purpose and the loftier view.
From him you most revered the golden dew
Of loyalty traditional was caught,
Whose gold is steel; and so you constant taught
This earthly Clifton, loved Bartholomew.
Bides yet a Clifton in the chiefest Heaven, The av
To-Clifton God has made for us,
Serenely placed, divinely bright and fair.
Sometimes unto our noblest hearts 'tis given
To see its circuit broad and luminous
He saw it, and he found it, and he's there.
RAMSEY, December 26, 1893.
1 A Christmas offering.
2 F. M. Bartholomew, for many years a master at Clifton, died of cholera while on a visit to India, in December, 1892. It would be impossible to say here what his personality was to Clifton.
RAMSEY, December 30, 1893
Mr. Shenstone wrote to me about our poor dear old Bartle. What a sad story! we are not likely to see such another. He was goodness itself; and we shall miss him as a friend, as a counsellor, as a true and loyal companion more than can be expressed. Let us be thankful for so great a blessing. I remember, his first arrival amongst us as if it had been yesterday. He was then fresh from Marlborough and Oxford; young and sanguine. The experience of life never clouded him, though it made him grave and thoughtful. The inner man was ' renewed day by day,' and a ripe sweetness assured us thereof. Ah, well! ...
I shall make inquiries about farm-houses near the coast. We are a funny little people, light-hearted, irresponsible, somewhat unpractical, very un-English, if that will suit you. For my part, I almost forget that I ever lived in England. No doubt I do my level best to humour this tendency, and to make a Lethe of the blessed old herring-pond. And Lethe' ' is kind, and Lethe is useful; but there is no Lethe in my heart for dear old friends. So come and see! Kindest wishes for the New Year.
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