[From Letters of T. E. Brown, 1900]
January 10, 1894.
IT is not too late, I hope, to wish you a very happy New Year. You shrank from that rough sea, and I don't wonder; it really was very bad. When will you come over in February? Tell me, and I will order a primrose or two. Last year the fine weather began at the opening of March, and lasted all spring and summer. It was quite delicious. I discovered a new country, the flat land lying between the hills and the north shore, more particularly that portion of it which we call the Curragh (agh strong guttural). The Curragh is a green bog, many miles in extent. It is full of bog-plants: for instance, there are whole acres of that most lovely flower the bog-bean. I had conjectured the beauty of this level space, with its sweet winding ways, and in 'Tommy Big-eyes' I had expressed what was after all a merely superficial appreciation. Now I know it. The haunt of innumerable cuckoos, the home of gorse and such delights, dreams so soothing made up of soft creamy vapours-dreams that are creams in fact, not whipped into artificial luxuries, but placid, smooth, and all but unctuous. So I was very happy there: few people, those that I met very simple and good: for instance, a dear nice woman who was proud of the bog-bean, and knew its habitat and the changes of its condition.
I felt how much can be done by level surface. The glen, with its rocks and waterfalls and steep hillsides, I absolutely ceased to care for. Tarver felt just the same, and, staying at the Sulby Glen Hotel, always walked out along the plain, not up the glen.
I wish you could come across some time in May, and see this little paradise of a bog. It is perhaps hard to imagine Adam and Eve in a bog, though one of the orchids so abundant there is popularly called 'Adam and Eve.' Add cuckoos galore, and I think you have a fairly decent notion of what might have been the abode of ' our first parents.' Not oriental, I grant, but surely the Orient has had its innings by this time. I should be well content with the Occidental version. Adam was probably a gorgeous sort of person, certainly a gourmand. How dreadful all that talk about ' balmy spoils,' 'Sabaean odours from the spicy shores of Araby the blest,' ' ambrosial fruit of vegetable gold,' ' nectareous draughts,' ' groves of myrrh,' and I cassia, nard,' and God knows what Sabaean ! In my Manx paradise there are wholesome smells, and plenty of them.
Of course February will not show the Curraghs at their best.
What a thing it is to have the command of your own time! It must be admitted that I don't do much. My reading is not exactly desultory; at any rate, it is not sporadic or accidental. I desult, but of set purpose, knowing the horse I change to. Milton, as perhaps you observe, occupies me much, and I have revived my old ' Rep.' 1 This, it strikes me, is a great benefit, and it is undoubtedly a pleasant practice. One knew it in one's youth as a harassing, burdensome task. But that was because one never had proper time, could not expatiate, could not lie down in the shady pastures with Tityrus and Menalcas. Happily I find that my memory is not a bit impaired, and this fact adds wings to my energy, and to my pleasure the sense of security, and the ballast of great example.
My lectures (Reminiscences, and so forth). I sometimes speak for upwards of two hours, and the people listen and seem well pleased. These speeches are asynartete, solutae to da'ssolutae. They occasionally give offence, and to sundry kinds of people, but, as a rule, are much appreciated by the vulgar!! They were originally intended as an άάορμή to a book, The Island Diocese. But I don't know whether this will go on.
My tendency at present is to give up all this sort of thing, and to take to poetry again. It would be more serious than most of what I have hitherto written. I have three poems smouldering within me. So there is enough for some time to come. Don't you think it is well to let those things simmer behind the oven for a good long while ? I don't feel that they lose at all from the bubblings of Manx broth and the like that are given off by the crude heat of unpremeditated discourse. I should say that the prose, whether written or orally uttered, is a relief, and that the inner core of gestation (pardon the phrase!) goes on all the better, partly released from the strain of excessive tension, partly recruited from the outer world of converse and experience. In any case I am in no hurry, and I will read, whatever betide. For I find that I have read next to nothing all my life; and I will learn Rep. (!) ; for I find that my mind is singularly lacking in pabulum, and wholesome chyle.
1 Repetition, 'learning poetry by heart.'
RAMSEY, January 14, 1894.
Hic et ubique grey and grim, the heavens shut up in surly discontent, and you revelling in sunshine and flowers. Still I know your Riviera, and defy you to catch up the summer, chase it as you will. Short of the tropics, nothing will avail. That is a little comfort to me, envious.
I have been to Peel and delivered a lecture of some two hours. The best fun at Peel was the second day. Hall Caine gave a dinner to the fishermen and their wives. The place was the 'Shelter,' a room intended as a kind of lounge and reading-room for these fine old gentlemen.
The conditions of the feast, the wedding-garment so to speak, required that you were not a swell, not a parson, that you were 'dacent,' and over sixty. It was ruled that I fulfilled these conditions. Parson I was, but as a successor of the Galilean fisherman I passed muster, and carved an enormous joint of roast beef, and made as much row as possible.
When we had dismissed the desire of eating and drinking, we had a grand 'smook' ; and speeches and songs were 'indulged in,' under the presidency as chairman of C., the assistant harbour-master. You remember him at Greeba, a magnificent old salt, who interpreted Molly Charane to us, acute, sensible, and sincere. He made an absolutely perfect speech in proposing the health of Mr. and Mrs. Caine.
I perceive that the elation and depression of literary energy is quite as common among these worthies as with ourselves. C. told me afterwards, with unfeigned concern, of all the 'things' he had meant but failed to bring in. Characteristic too of the common predicament was his exaltation next day. Some praise of mine, given, I must say, most justly and most ungrudgingly, had reassured him and a little more. He told his chums that he didn't know how it was, but he was carried along that night 'treminjously,' and the wind getting into his sails, he was fairly astonished at himself. And truly it was a most eloquent epideixis. One passage about Mr. and Mrs. Hall Caine's position in London society, 'dining with lords, dukes, and the lek,' was simply gorgeous. 'And here they come down to us plain people, humble folk, and it is their joy to receive us and be kind to us 1.' Excellent C. I could have fallen upon his neck-a sturdy thing to fall upon and a reliable.
The songs opened with ' Rock of Ages.' This was rather stiff; but the leader was a Gorry, a beautiful descendant of the Vikings, whose face was lighted up with a perfectly divine illumination of piety and tenderness, and all the men and women sang with him. The poor old things could not get over the idea that it was a religious service, could not suddenly disuse their methodistical traditions and habits. Several hymns followed, and it was not without a kind of shock that we found ourselves at last involved in the frank nonsense of ' Hunt the wren.' I could not help thinking of my old experience, when ages ago, at Foxdale, in the mountains, I delivered a lecture moderately, but unquestionably secular, studded with funny anecdotes: and all the old women, as they entered, fell upon their knees, and said a prayer, as upon coming into church. It nearly floored me; and I went through my lewd performance with misgivings, shame, remorse. I remember they looked a good deal scared, but, with that admirable goodwill and accommodation to circumstances which is so native to them, they recovered their serenity, and even lent themselves, with a certain sweetness of condonation, to the alien atmosphere, into which yandhar young Pazon had introduced them.
The old chaps, distrusting their power of entertainment, had imported into the gathering a very ' young chap,' one K. (but all, young and old, are K.'s). K. the Buck,' I think he is called, to distinguish him from the other K.'s.
He was dressed to the nines, played the fiddle, and sang music-hall horrors, dallying with a cigar (!), which he smoked nonchalantly as he sang.
To see the old people under this ribald treatment! Rock of Ages 1 ' what a bouleversement ! They evidently thought it would be ungracious to appear otherwise than pleased. So they twisted their dear old facial muscles into the most complicated skeins of quasi-apprehension, and ' waited for the day' of a proper recovery.
The next hymn they sang, ' Jesus, lover of my soul,' they did sing. A gentle protest, but a most heartfelt burst of religious fervour; a very ecstasy. Do you wonder if I trembled, and my eyes filled with tears?
K. was all unconscious. K. fell back and resumed his fiddle with a fine alertness which did him credit never turned a hair. But afterwards, C. apologized to me privately. ' A young man, you see. Of course there must be all surts, and we thought that a little . . . well, it's not the thing; no, no! but still, for all . . .' and so forth. That kind, sagacious, equitable old C.! I had to sing two songs, and tell one story, with such 'vice' as I had saved from the wreck of my two hours' discourse on the previous evening.
I hope I didn't surprise, or overmaster you into the approbation of my sonnet in memory of Bartholomew which you express.
George Pearse's death is, domestically, even a more melancholy occurrence than that of Bartholomew.
He was a very good man, faithful, useful, and, above all things, modest. Oh that modesty! Like Wordsworth's 'gratitude of men,' it leaves me mourning as nothing else can do.
I always liked L. He speaks kindly, you say, of me. But that is not my reason for liking him. A man, perilously on the confines of charlatanry, he has been marvellously delivered by his simplicity and sweetness. One feels how imperfectly he is educated; but that does not matter. Such men are almost independent of education. Of course, I know that a good course of Oxford, both Moderations and Greats, specially the latter, and still more specially a good sousing in the Ethics (Nicomachean by preference!), would have made a different man of him. But he would not have been himself, and that would have been such a pity. I dare say that, even as it is, if you were to dig down through all the detritus and shale of his shambling 7ĖUEQLS, you would come upon some solid matter. On that he, very likely, rests at bottom.
1 In another part of the letter (omitted) the speech is thus described. 'Good Heavens! C. tore away, broke Priscian's head a thousand times into a thousand pieces, assaulted the Nine with untamed audacity, and through rape, fire, and murder strode on, a very storm of splendid anacoluthon and the devil-take-the-hindmost
(With two songs.)
RAMSEY, January 15, 1894
I send you two songs as a New Year offering not surely out of date. Both music and words are from Heine's collection (Zurich, 1876), which I think you have. The translations are by me. They are simply intended as a little reminiscence of my life-long association with a good kind friend.
Use them as you like. Do you smoke ? If so, you can light your pipe with them.
The happiest of New Years to you and yours. Kind remembrances to Mrs. and Miss Trimnell.
RAMSEY, January 22, 1894.
I took upon myself to operate upon an offending corn; the result of this brilliant demonstration in surgery is a wound which refuses to be healed. My doctor scolded me tremendously for undertaking such a professional function with so much lightness of heart. He is just off to an inquest which involved tragic circumstances. I have thought of hardly any thing else ever since. It was a case of suicide. I can't get rid of it. Poetry ought to be able to deal with it, and bring me to the true rc~Oaprrts, but I don't know. I sometimes think that poetry fails me at such need, that it was never meant for anything but a beautiful toy. It can keep the pace of noble tragedy.
But how about the ignoble ? Or, if all tragedy deals with the noble, what are we to do with what we, loosely perhaps, call the 'tragedies of humble life'? How can I reconcile myself to this fact? I feel as if I would rush up to God with her this very moment. But, says Goldsmith, ' when lovely woman,' &c. Yes, ' to die,' dear Goldie ; ' die,' one knows what that means, my sweet moralist: it means under afecting conditions, with pathetico-picturesque surroundings, ad0os 'with everything handsome about' it. But then, these brutal complications, no pathetic prettiness, no -rraoos in a tea-cup can deal with these. They are foul, sordid; but I must insist on their being admitted and justice done to them. A doctor has to face these things. Nihil humani-he seems to say. But were we created with the capacity of digesting horrors so unutterable ? Are they human? Sunt lacrymae Yevum ; but are these facia Yes? Are they not perhaps men monsters? Devilish common monsters, I can tell you. Just one instantaneous photograph of the pathology at its supreme crisis-that would be something ; but I suppose it would be sheer madness-so jurors seem to thinkand no Kodak would snap that. But poor A.-no. I am convinced she was both innocent and sane. Go get thee to work! and write me frequent letters.
RAMSEY, January 28, 1894.
My foot is still bad; confinement to the house for such a long time is a disaster. If protracted much longer it will damage my spring. And of all things that is the idea that troubles me most. That the time of the singing of birds should come, and I should be secluded from the note of turtle, or, par exemple, cuckoo, seems to me a most intolerable nuisance.
My Manx Songs, words and music by T. E. B., have now advanced to their fifth number. What fun it will be some day to send them to Crossley ! Perfect barbarism, of course. I can't even defend them as relics of Keltic music. The tunes are of my own invention, wholly lewd and desperate, though distantly imitating the native measures, only, I fear, by the concoction of analogous barbarism.
It only needs a very slight hint to set me off on the road to sheer and untamable and dissolute heathendom. Bedad, sorr, it's niver very far from me at the best of times-just a bit of a wall to jump over, and there you are, free and happy, and most vulgarly unconditioned.
I am much interested in a young Manxman, who seems to be endowed with a very special gift, i. e. historical enthusiasm, which, flaming up from depths of archaeology and suchlike horrors, culminates in Romance. Why not? You begin (he begins) with the architectural study of a building (e.g. St. German's Cathedral, Peel). As you go on measuring, and noting facts and figures, some fire is generated, kindles, smoulders for a while; gradually a mad passion is formed, a genuine distress amative. A person supervenes historically known, but very imperfectly. Imagination is inflamed: the story trying to germinate. And all this naturally, inevitably. Query-is it the legitimate outcome of these d-d facts and figures ? Manifestly the man can't help himself; he is fairly stricken.
Add that he is a scorner of contemporaries, totally incapable of discovering in this century or much later than the Conquest any being male or female that can interest him, or is worthy of his attention. This strong fierce man has become rapturously enamoured of a Manx princess (historical), say 1100 A. D. His condition is positively delicious. What would you not give to be in such a predicament? Go it, say I go it, Pygmalion of the turbaries' ! Surely nothing but good can come of this Rapture. People may doubt, and sneer, and say 'How about History?' That is all very well, but here is a man who is simply insane about measurements, who will compass sea and land to get one wretched proselyte of a fact, and it all ends in this. It is not a case of effort and whipping of flanks. He must do this. This is the unquestionable efflorescence of the state in which he has got himself by the most sober pursuit of dry, technical investigations. Ought he not to rejoice therefor'? Of course I find it hard to conceive the process; but there it is. And, if a man tells me he loves a woman, I believe him, and if she lived about 1 ioo, why not? And, if she was a lady devoted to Cistercian missions, in heaven's name, why not? And how about this last fact in the nexus? Peel Cathedral is a Cistercian building. And 'I'll tell ye what, sorr,' the Cistercian ,'Ųog, the Cistercian propaganda-but hang it! let's break into Manx verse:
The Cistercian propagandhar And the lek o' yandharAn Alexandhar !
The nice, for all! And Pope Anastasiers, And goodness grayshers, Sure it's quite fa~atiers
Yes, I am getting more and more convinced that the great mistake about us is that we were born in the professional class. Is it my recently acquired passion for the bog-bean, or what? Terrae fliias, filiuspaludi's; that would be about it.
I believe that there is still a perfectly sweet little bit of a bog in Ulster from which poor Jinny Drumgoole set forth on her journey to the Mona of Caesar, and dragged behind her across the Irish Sea that thrail' of the turf. Faith, it deludes one to this day. And I think you know that our bogs are inhabited by a dark people, the Carysdoo, and that they bewilder and entice poor travellers as the mermaids overpower the fishermen. So there's for you.
I am looking forward with great interest to M.'s development. Having long ago abandoned History as a serious study, I don't wish it to become a ludicrous one; but, whenever you strike a spark from its flints, follow ! follow! through brake and briar!
Through brake and briar, The bog is a-fire ;
Let all the boys holloFollow ! Follow !
Don't you think it is about time to vote the closure (clõture) on this bosh ? Now good-night!
' Turbaries'-I read the word with difficulty-'places for digging turf'-a note for the benefit of the ignorant (e. g. myself).
February 6, 1894.
Prosit amåsse 1. That is the note. And so I pray for myself; how much more fitly and fruitfully may young hearts pray ! Proszt--may it bring forth the fruit of good living, of honourable action, of noble endeavour. So shall it be more than a sigh, and a siste, viåtor.
1 Taken from some verses I wrote on F. M. Bartholomew.
Strange mutilated obsequies those at Madura 1 Did you read the letter from the Bungalow keeper? a decent creature, I dare say. He only saw Bartholomew at that awful disadvantage in grips with death, and yet the poor native saw qualities that we recognize through the haze of distance and the disfigurement of imminent collapse. ' He was so witty, so liberal, so kind, so good-humoured, so clever.' I think those were the words. Don't we get a glimpse as from a poor but not untruthful mirror of the magnanimous Englishman? The more I think of him, the more I revere him. The absence of all show, the deep affection, the -simplicity of motive-where will you find the like? He took no part in functions of display; but, at need, there you had him. What had he to support that firm spirit? what loves, ambitions, hopes? A pure and marvellous man. For when we have climbed our dung-hills, and crowed our crows, we think we see him pass through some diviner air, sheathed in proof of righteousness and peace, profoundly humble, the very opposite of the pride that apes humility: humility the base on which pride rested serenely balanced, a rational, quiet dignity. Let us remember him and love him. Prosit amdsse
I suffer a good deal of pain, and a great deal of discomfort. I have called in a 'Doctor in Consultation.' The man is English, and has the virtue of his country-is prompt, decisive, speaks out. My dear Manx doctor is simply delightful, but so charmed to talk with you that he quite forgets that you are cursing every moment which postpones your getting out into the space which is not an arena for talk, escaping into silence and the company of yourself. The winter is supposed rather than believed to have gone. Sixteen crocus-blooms underneath my window babble of spring. But really this is about the deadest time of all. None of you come over; the islanders, satiate with Christmas and delicately crapulous in their pleasant way, withdraw for the most part from social contingence.
At first, and while you are instinctively turned from the ways and habits of English life, you quite rejoice in the change. Then you begin to feel a lack. You become, as nearly as possible, alarmed, dismayed. Weeks go by, and you are conscious that you have not exchanged the merest glimmering of an idea, literary or otherwise intellectual, with one of your friends. You begin to get discouraged. Man cannot live by garrulity alone. You desiderate discursus, and have a melancholy recollection how you once talked with your fellows. After all the world has advanced a little since the sixteenth century, and I would fain catch on to the old flirt, hag though she be. I don't suppose that what one calls the world was ever, at least since Noah, so arriėrė as our dear little island. Occasionally a Manxman lapses into London. He has seen a little of men and things; and this he brings home with him to our poor incorrigible Artaxata.
The truth dawns upon me that my Oxford and Clifton life has wrought something in me that is neither Manx nor Metropolitan, and that I am not as self-sufficing as I had imagined. I wait for letters with almost feverish anxiety, and never can have enough.
I do sometimes get letters that transcend all current interests. For instance, the other day I received one from an old pupil whom I had imagined to be dead. He is not dead, however, but very much alive in the parts about Virginia, U.S.A. He was the brightest, sunniest, cleverest pupil I ever had. He was at King William's; and I have not seen him now for thirty-three years. My seely Manx lectures do this for me. The one I delivered in Peel at the beginning of January has got out there, and has stirred my old friend to recognition and Wiederanknüpfung. So I shall as soon as possible wiederanknüpf him with a letter. He goes back to my old boating days at Derby Haven. I had forgotten that I used to take boys out with me in the old Custom-house boat of the period.
He has reminded me of those days of dawn. Well, they were strangely happy days. I forget whether I had corns then; but I rather think I had.
The days of dawn, The early morn, Without a corn Oh, joy to be born, &c.
This is rather idiotcy. But it reminds me of a heresy, I think of N.'s, and certainly of Bagehot's. These two great representatives of the English spoken near Stratford-atte-Bow agreed in maintaining the fitness of the rhyme dawn x morn; not, let us freely admit, as pronouncing dawn like Born, but as giving morn the sound of mawn. I shudder when I think of this, especially of N., squeezing the tones through nostril, not spectacle-bestrid, but battle-sniffing and dogmatic. My paper on H. Burrows appeared last Saturday. The 'vilain' has expurgated it a little, of course shovelling out one of my nattiest allusions-, worthy scion of the old Laudian house.' Laudian house for St. John's (Oxford) belongs surely to the parole challengeable from English men of letters.
Love to all,
Both great and small
RAMSEY, February 9, 1894.
This once a week threatens to be a failure. That was also, I remember, the fate of a magazine so called.
Suppose we make it a bi-monthly. To that extent the garrulity of old age may surely be trusted to produce a quantum sufåc& of things memorable or otherwise. I know how greatly you liked our dear old friend Bartholomew. Liking was hardly the word. What we all seem to have felt was mingled love and reverence. I have had sent to me various letters bringing up the story to its tragic close. Did you read a letter from the Native who keeps the Travellers'Bungalow at Madura ? It is so touching: even in this poor shambling sort of mirror you see reflected, imperfectly of course, but unmistakably, the noble qualities of the dying Englishman. He was ' so kind, so courteous, so good-humoured, so liberal, so clever'-those were something like the words. How one sees him in the superficial representation! That is Bartholomew; not a finished portrait, but the man as seen by a gentle, not, perhaps, altogether disinterested soul, such as we may imagine that of 'the mild Hindoo.' There was a letter from himself to his brother, the last he ever wrote. It was dated Trichinopoly. It gave an account of a visit to a temple crowded with natives keeping the feast; and the chief magistrate crowned him with a garland, according to custom, and offered fruits. Then he caught the cholera, but did not know that he had. And in the letter you even get an echo of his well-known laugh, borne to us now across the deep silent river.
Dr. Percival went up to Clifton the Sunday before last to a kind of memorial service. He himself preached. Both Bartholomew and Pearse were the subject-the two Devonshire lads, splendid offspring of the great county. He says he found it hard 'to keep himself together,' and that he did what he did very indifferently'; but we shall see. W. read some prayers from the Burial Service with an unaffected pathos and simplicity which were noticed both by Percival and Irwin.
I wrote to . Poor thing! Mourning and woe! . . . Money! money! It is now, and in presence of such hard facts, that I invoke the fiend, otherwisd sordid and contemptible enough, but not now. Now I would fain make truce with him: for what things one might do !
Have you such a thing as a snowdrop about you? We have exactly sixteen crocuses. They are a great comfort to me looking out at my window. For I am, if you please, a prisoner; have been ever since New Year's Day.
How are you all? When things are brightest and springiest my mind often takes its flight to Devonport. I see Charlotte and baby (God forgive my flippancy!), and I ' bless them unawares.' Then the Worthington towers above you all and centralizes you all in a loving group. I Oh that I were there!' It is not irrelevantly that I have drifted into In dulci jitbzZo.' The girls send their love.
RAMSEY, February 11, 1894.
My foot is making progress; and, as regards sleep, what say you to eight and a half hours last night of the absolute ?
The ' Marsh Warbler' is simply exquisite. A real simplicity reigns throughout; no sham, mind, no effort to be simple, but running off the reel, absolute music. So that's very good. H. B. has just sent me a book (type-written) of his poems. I Cwdmon's Song,' one of the longest, is quite first-rate. Many of the lyrics are very sweet.
Such sleep as that of last night is enough to make me sing. And my sleep, if not dreamless, is full of the loveliest 'wisions you ever.' By Jove, I wish I could write some of them down, or, what would be far better, paint them! The other night I talked French most brilliantly to a great audience, and I have also carried on conversations in that language of wits and courtesies. One was with a young man who refused to do anything in the world because he was so ugly (valaan). His mother and a little sister were present. I lectured this young man magnificently, matre approbante. We had to talk French on account of the little girl: it was he began it. And so we talked, and so I told him that he was an ingrat, and I don't know what; when suddenly, like a little robin, out burst the four-year-old sister upon him in full song; gave it him in French, paradeigmatized him in a most awful way. Oh, such a lovely little bulbul of a thing! No, not bulbul either, rather bull-dog, if that were admissible. Let us fall back upon robin-great big-chested little darling-such a throat! The young man was a frank cynic. The mother was not a sympathetic woman, but she seemed attracted by my oratory and its purport, looked as if she thought ' the man might be made use of'; thorough woman of the world; concerned about her son, though, and unhappy.
But the bulbul-robin was gorgeous. Was it Fowler 1, with his 'Marsh Warbler,' that turned my sleep to these charming issues? I don't know whether you are aware that I am a real good dreamer, and I remember my dreams, and can, more or less, give them an adequate form. And they last so. I feel quite sad when the ivory gate closes.
The bay is crowded with shipping and I have seen one gannet.
1 W. Warde Fowler.
RAMSEY, February 11, 1894.
I don't know how sufficiently to thank you for this delightful book. . . . I am sure you must have derived endless solace from the impressions of which they (the poems) are the record, and I do sympathize with you so entirely, both in the 'states of mind' they indicate, and the singular felicity of expression attained. 'ApotbEeios, you have two good strings to your bow, and they are both of the true Loxian twist. I hope you will go on to use them habitually. . . .
L. S. has thrown me a tow-rope. This is very nice. I have also had a hail from Philadelphia and Virginia. The fact is you are towing me into port, you young sea-rovers, not as a ' Fighting Tėmėraire,' but a peaceful old galley, crowned with a few sparse wreaths-towing me into the longus secessus.
Eflicit obiectu laterum, quibus omnis ab alto Frangitur inque sinus scindit sese unda reductos.
Yes, I want no more of the undae. aequora tuta silent will do for me. But you must look me up from time to time, and bring me spoils.
Just now I have a Burns fit on me. Isn't he astounding? I have read hardly anything else for weeks. I suppose it is worse than useless making a pilgrimage to Ayre (sic). Once, nay twice, we spent the summer holidays on the Clyde; but it was impossible to approach the ' Mausoleum' (! !) business, and in such company.
One project I greatly cherish, but have never carried out-a good long draught of Scott's country. I mean all those hills and dales of Ettrick, Teviot, and so forth. Could you ever take that with me ? My grandfather came from Jedburgh, and I have an inextinguishable longing antiquam exquirere
matrem. It must surely be a glorious ramble in the early, tripperless summer.
RAMSEY, February 18, 1894.
We are frozen. When is this wretched spring coming? It lies hid in cunning places, and we must cower and shiver with it. And the winds! Good gracious! Was there ever anything like it? And on New Year's Day I made a holocaust of my most sacred corn, and hurt my foot in some miserable way, so that I have been a close prisoner almost ever since. Now I really do want to get out. I don't care to nurse myself in domestic snugness, though the weather out-of-doors might fairly suggest that alternative. Sir, I want to go forth and find Nature, and when I have found her, ' bring her 'ome with me.' She is but a draggle-tail and a slut, though, just now. There is a kind of nakedness which is no good. Let her bide
So Flaubert comes to the birth. I hardly know what you mean by speaking of him as having found out his true form only when it was too late. After all, do you think Bouvard et Pėcuchet was his centre of gravity? I fancy it was a marvellously happy tentamen in a new direction: but I must consider the Bovary and the L'Ėducation åentimentale the essential Flaubert. Casting about for the adequate expression, he made two great dives which were not in the line of his proper motion. One was Salammbd,
the other Bouvard et Pėcuchet. They are both magnificent, both quite at right angles to the true Flaubert who walks straight on in the absolutely real life of the Bovary. He amazes one with his Bouvard et Pėcuchet. It is as if a dying man suddenly started up a convulsive athlete, a buffoon of the first rank, and he says, 'There! I can do that too! You didn't expect it! No?' and a shrug and a shiver, and he falls dead.
I shall be full of interest in this book; and I believe it will be popular and profitable.
But I have got off my French hobby, and am now great in Burns. I can't venture to say what I feel. When the Burns fever is on me (as it often is) I become dithyrambic, rhapsodic, idiotic. Hardly any man shakes my very guts like him. I didn't join the insular Scotch folk on the 25th ult., but that was on account of my self-induced lameness. They had a dinner at Douglas. If I had gone and spoken, I should probably have made a goose of myself. Did you ever try to write a Burns song? I mean, the equivalent in ordinary English of his Scotch. Can it be done? A Yorkshireman-could he do it? A Lancashire man (Waugh) ? I hardly think so. The Ayrshire dialect has a Schwung and a confidence that no English county can pretend to. Our dialects are apologetic things, half-ashamed, half insolent. Burns has no doubts, and for his audience unhesitatingly demands the universe. Or has his dialect taken this position because it was his ? If so, then, given the same genius, and subject it to the same conditions, and you will have a Suffolk man or a Glo'stershire, who will vindicate for his dialect the imperial seat, and make it, at least, the 'lingua rustica' for all England. Poor Burns never approached this. But Tennyson did. He had, of course, other and more exquisite instruments, the septem cicutae of Pan: but when he did take up his Lincolnshire, was it not admirable? And after such a performance as the ' Northern Farmer,' does it not seem almost natural to accept that as the real thing?
But then it was a tour de force. As he wrote it I dare say he had an access of tender mimicry; but that was all. But Burns is a blackbird and mimics nothing. He is the inevitable. Still our beloved Tennyson is no accident, not he. But he is a scholar and self-conscious, as are the scholars; not a dilettante, no! no! But you can't eat your cake, and have your cake. By becoming scholars (Heaven save the mark!) we have gained something; but we have lost -I had almost said-everything.
March 5, 1894.
You will readily understand that there is little going on here with which I might hope to oblect you. There are the fitful advances of the spring, and the ordinary transitions 'from the blue bed to the brown,' but that is all. The Vicar's alternation of chambers is literally carried out on these premises. The perpetual storms compel us to have two bedrooms, one behind and one before (I had almost said, 'And one
behind the parlour door). At the very top, and in
the exact centre of the house, there is a sky-light which raves like a bacchanal or a pythoness. Its position is selected with marvellous sagacity. Do what you like, you must lay your account with the fiend, No. 3, central.
I have had an old colleague staying with me for a week-end. He came in a storm, and left in a hurricane. I wish you and Mr. Worthington knew him. The neighbours here are full of it that he has invented a ' New Religion.' To this they sometimes add that I (Mr. Brown) am his only convert. You should have seen us at it.
RAMSEY, March 7, 1894.
Percival's sermon is very good. One bit is magnificent-of Cay-'how his memory is still shining in their hearts like a lamp of sacred fire.'
My poor sonnet! Two misprints are simply intolerable. For ' as' read 'so.' But the horror is what follows. The wretch, having mistaken 'so 'for as,' thought to restore the grammar by changing the punctuation. Observe the result-a comma ends the octave!!! So there is no sonnet at all
My first pipe is just smoked, and I feel more composed. But the old versifier in me is hard to be appeased.
Yesterday, I picked my first wild primrose. I had searched all manner of dells and coverts without success, naturally thinking, that where there was shelter from these detestable winds, there would lurk the little darlings. Norrabirravit (now, what is that?); right in the very teeth of pitiless exposure (rum phrase!) I found the bonny little wretch, laughing and stark-the young rip! They will soon be coming in troops.
Since M. left I have been regaling myself with the Eclogues and a book of Herodotus. The finished art of the former, and the naiveiė, not above suspicion of irony and positive poking fun, which seams the latter, are an endless joy.
Little B. writes to me, he wants a place. He is a good fellow. The staff having to be reduced, little B. was bracketed with another man to leave. Little B. chose to leave, because the other man has a widowed mother dependent on him, and no private means. Mortua yuinetzåyn zitngebat corpora vz'vz's, quoth little B. in allusion to this coupling of the possible abeuntes. And he goes off, smiling, chuckling, perhaps, over this classical conceit, and with all possible regard and affection for the involuntary Mezentius.
Of such men are made heroes. Admirable little B. And I-I-well, that octave! oh heavens! that mulled octave
March 11, 1894.
I have resolved to give up the platform; it is too dissipating. Still it was very pleasant. I spoke, I sang, I mimicked, I was the 7rowrpo7ros buffoon, much to the satisfaction of my audience.
Next day Miss Graves took me to see M.
She lives in a quaint old house. Before the door opens you know that, dismal as it is, you will find inside a spacious, old-fashioned hall and staircase. You must know M. is a great admirer of mine, and has been from her childhood. Ages ago she heard me lecture on Thackeray and Dickens. Can't you fancy the crude balderdash ? But M. was delighted, never forgot it, quoted to me sundry 'fine passages.' They were farmers, lost the farm, but still retained the old house.
M. was in Manchester: longed for Dickens: saw a David Copperfaeld in a shop window: (crela notandus) : quoted to me Miss Mowrcher.
Goodness is her native food, and well it agrees with her-a charity that thinks no evil; a love of literature the most genuine; an enthusiasm that would melt your most hardened cynic.
M. took me up the broad staircase to see the view of Peel Hill behind; and as we reached the landing, I looked down another lateral flight of steps, and saw a curious, devious descent, into what seemed cellars - very suggestive of the old smuggling days.
My lecture was fairly attended, but not by the people I wanted. The men (fishermen) are busy preparing their boats for the herring season, and have already begun to live on board. (They look splendid, those boats, and the big fellows, with great heavy coils of rope round their shoulders, as they tread sturdily the quays, are magnificent.)
The upper ten constituted my audience. N. laboured to defend me against the charge of ' ridiculing the Manx,' using the stock arguments: I Did Burns make fun of the Scotch? Did the great Sir Walter?'
.... You can imagine my discomfort at being pitch-forked into the company of the Di ma~õres. After the lecture a young man proposed a vote of thanks. A most charming and very stylish young man, accent consummate of the English, plenty to say for himself, said with faultless manner, but listened to by the audience incredulously, and somewhat impatiently
He told them of some old extravagance of mine which I confess I had forgotten. But I suppose I must have said sometime, and somewhere, that when I returned to the island I I kissed the very cushags' (ragwort so fine and abundant here, might be considered the national plant= shamrock, &c. ). He told them this, and added-'Many of us would have liked to have been those cushags, and shared those kisses.' This was terrible. I blushed! The Igintale' audience tittered. The young man went on imperturbably.
Well, we are Kelts, and it cannot be helped. The fact is, we Manxmen, young Z. and for the matter of that, myself, are all Phantasts. God knows what dreams we have! But, for the most part, innocent and harmless enough.
March 14, 1894.
Many thanks for the story of M. It is eminently characteristic. Unhappily one is so fettered here by the absurd susceptibilities of silly pėople, that the anecdotic field is very seriously curtailed. Nearly all the stories about him have a comic tendency. It is impossible to tell them without exciting a smile. Now our Manx folk cannot understand how one can laugh at a man and, at the same time, love and respect him. Want of humour, I suppose. But it is a great nuisance, and a great impediment. I am getting bored by it, and shall not probably trouble them much more.
March 18, 1894.
I have read the two dialogues with the utmost pleasure. They are most exhilarating. Indeed the Ship is a perfect carnival of fun. The irony of the Parasite is a tremendously long pull at one rope, but it is very great. Though not having the original by me, I can divine the translation to be admirable. As English, at any rate, it is faultless, bright as old beans! I laughed consumedly over the Shag. Lucian's own interpositions are so exquisitely humorous.
By-the-bye, as regards Dodo, you have the advantage of me. Perpend ! help and enlighten! This is just what I feared would come to pass. I mean, separation from my contemporaries. Observe then! I have never heard of Dodo. Imagine the plight of a man who is totally 'out of it.' The world goes on, loses the ornithological Dodo, and gets its human (or inhuman) Dodos, and I know nothing about it.
The great stars shine in the heaven of literature, as they've shone since Milton, and I do not miss a single constellation. Has anything happened to
Orion ? Is Arcturus wavering? Do the Pleiades observe the time of their setting, or have loose principles set in among the IE7-Ėwpa, and are the Gods laughing at us? Surely not! Yet this Dodo comes floating across the sphere! Whence? Whither? Let me have a resolution.
I have only a very imperfect knowledge of Cowley's Prose. But is it not astonishingly modern ? I remember that impression. Johnson too, you will remember, notices that : I think so at least. He was both a tranquil and brilliant creature-Cowley ! Grant Allen does well in his Queen Dido. Have you seen it ? In Longman's I fancy? Really capital. His Dido is the Queen Wasp-dux femina facti: He surely is very good on Natural History.
Gratulare ! The day before yesterday I walked fifteen miles! and was not very tired. The day was glorious. The way led through curragh and gorse hedges (banks) ; and I picked a big nosegay of primroses. This first-born of the spring is now in splendid form-bless it!
Yes, I am going to the Wagner Festival at Bayreuth. Of Wagner why should I discourse to you remote in partibus immusicorum ?
April 1, 1894.
I see you at Pensford. Violets! No, we have none here, except of course the dog-violet, which will soon be abundant. I suppose our neglect of it is not merely owing to the absence of that vulgar commodity, smell, but to the presence in its sweet-scented sister of qualities which it would be hard to define, qualities of form and colour, mystic and unutterable.
I have not been able to write much of late. Still I have written eleven songs, with music. A sad waste of time, I fear. But I have the fit upon me, and am hugely enamoured of a plan for counteracting, counter-writing, counter-composing the musichall songs now invading the silly rustics everywhere. Wherever you go, you hear the wretched babes and sucklings discoursing of ' the man that broke the bank' at somewhere-Monaco is it? Or ' a bicycle
for two.' It is very deplorable. Blessed little beautiful things that might well bear palms and follow Christ on His entry into Jerusalem. No doubt on Olivet you will soon hear (or has not the Jaffa railway already introduced?) the same refrain.
I am writing songs partly of sentiment, partly of fun, for fishers, farm-lads, and so forth. I should like to get them into circulation (make them popular) by singing them at lectures and concerts when the right sort of people would be present to take them up. But this aotb& notion of mine will be very exacting; my voice, though still fairly good, is not what it once was; the clergy will look askance; and my rivals will have an awful pull over me: it is so hard to win a people back to honest, healthy barbarism. The affections (domestic, &c. ) are a great power, and that's my only chance. Even so, the success of my enterprise, if any, is like to be posthumous. Post humum, post humum ! All right, if I can only grip from my grave the 1.zE7åuota of the children's children. This faith I have, that the world will not go on for ever in the pursuit of baseness. Some day there will be an ' antiquam exquirite matrem,' and that not a sentimental slobber, but to purpose.
Both you and I have a great tendency to look backward: now do let us try to conquer this native bent, and look forward! If we could only see what is coming upon the earth, the " preparations of the dawn" (doesn't Jeremy Taylor use the phrase?), I believe it would make us glad. I don't think of or care about perfectibility, and that electrical scientific sort of business. I think I see plainly that the human heart is the centre of everything, and I have no doubt it will triumph, and regenerate the dear old vXri in which we are embedded. Excellent,
Herr Braun! Võrtrefflich ! Wunderschön ! There! go back to your dunghill, and drop this star-gazing.
RAMSEY, April 7, 1894.
How is , your cold ? no doubt, dead and buried.
I have a vicious toothache. Yet is it not somewhat of a distinction at my time of life to have teeth, and teeth that can ache ? Most of my contemporaries, and many of my juniors, male and female, have shed their dental honours, and grin at me from rows of pearly symmetry. The dentist has done his best or his worst: but I am still capable de tout, and look at his brass-plate as yet innocent of the gold-plate to which I must be ultimately consigned. But the middle distance is 'an aching void.' Oh that it were all over! My contemplated visit to Bayreuth is evidently moving the profane mirth of people like . . . . Very likely you have nt heard any whisper of my Wagnerian infatuation. Nor indeed have I had a direct facer planted on my proboscis by the actual ; but he has implied much.... There is a side of my nature, not a worthless one either, which is withdrawn from the contemplation of the pure scholars, just as there are many and glorious facets of theirs which I can't touch. The I back of the
moon,' that's about it. Let me speak with profound respect for all ' back sides.'
RAMSEY, April 29, 1894.
What am I to do! What am I to do? Wirrasthru 1
This is dreadful. Your letter is dated April 8, and look at my April 29! 29-8 = 21= 3 weeks ! a lacuna with a vengeance. And your letter" was so full of pleasant things-Stonehenge, the Close, the Canon, Lord Radnor ! Isn't that Avon a lovely Avon? It is so silvery, and so brimming. Of Stonehenge you know that I am amantissimus. It is impossible to convey my idea of what I feel about The Temple. It broods over you like the whole
1 It told of Bemerton and Salisbury, and of an introduction and the presenting it.
of heaven, and grips you with the tenacity of the other region.
G. Herbert! delicious!
The precarious introduction with its results--fine! fine! your sister's dealing with the situation . . . a supreme social picture, in which you yourself are not the least interesting element. I have been through all that. I have it in my bones--the cold, cold, deadly rigidity of that quarter of an hour. Dreadful! But somehow one recovers; life is so made and we go on. It was rather like my visit to old S.
The island is all in a shiver about Hall Caine. 'Worse than Tess !'so they say. Ladies can't admit that they read The Manxman. Poor innocent Hall; and I such an old pig that Tess enraged me, nor am I quite comfortable about her Manx rival.
We have had Mr. and Mrs. Shenstone with us for a week. Peel specially delighted Shenstone. He liked not the castle only, but also the people, the town, which reminded him of his own old Wells (Norfolk), the dear old homely ways cemented with good faith and good manners.
ARMITAGE RECTORY, RUGELEY, May 13, 1894.
A genius! that's it. And they are all like that, almost all. Those little falsetti, and affectations, and posings, and putting the best foot foremost; those cravings for appreciation, the egotism, the selfconsciousness (go ahead!), all characterize the genius.
You must take him with them-take him or leave him alone. But you seem to seek a portent! A man of genius and a man of hard practical common-sense knocked into one. The world has produced half a dozen such men. They are tremendous. ButHeaven help us!-you must be content with something less than this, or Nature will never get her men off her hands. 'Sell me a genius,' say you. 'Here you are,' says Nature, handing over a lot, 'plenty of choice: marked in figures; read-Byron, Shelley, Keats, Coleridge ' 'Oh, I want I
'Well, what do you want?' A strong, powerful, healthy intellect, and genius as a dhooragh L' ' Oh,
thank you for nothing! We don't make them. You had better try the shop over the way, or give a special order, and we can try, provided you are willing to wait a thousand years or so ! ' . . . This 'rift within the lute' of genius is the inseparable accident. I have long learnt to bear with it, and I earnestly desire, for your own sake, that you make up your mind to it.... They (geniuses) are all divine babies, and will kiss and scratch in a breath. That is the divine thing in them. Now, don't be impatient with me. They must be borne with; and remember what compensation we have. Nulla rosa sine spina:: but what a glorious rose blooms among the thorns
I have no doubt that to many of us it were better if we never got to know men of genius privately. You may depend upon it that, throughout the history of literature, they offended their contemporaries by
1 Something added to the weight or measure of an article sold ; a 'luck-penny' =' and genius to boot'
their airs and their bosh, their pettiness and their asinine conceit. Never mind! The world has taken its hat off to these men: and so must we. We need not stroke the quills on the 'back of the fretful porpentine ' ; let us avoid coming into too close contact. Perhaps some of them had better be kept in cages. But chance may domesticate you with one; you may, for instance, marry one. Poor Mrs. Carlyle And she too a genius. 'Oh, it is a glorious thing! Marry me to the lightning!' Well, just think a bit first. But don't mistake the matter, don't ignore genius, and don't complain of it when you find its silly and shabby adjuncts.
ARMITAGE, RUGELEY, May 11, 1894.
I went into-Lichfield yesterday. The church itself lovely. I sat in the prebendal stall of Pz~6a minor, which I believe represents in English the estate of Little Poe ! Armitage is in Little Pipe. I felt more than mediaeval. But the whole place throws one back upon Feudalism and the Anglo-Normans. There is a subcurrent of modern chatter, ecclesiology, and interests Ruridecanal. But that is all right.
I take to these surroundings very quickly. To-day I am going to a full-blown Ruridecanal, where a paper will be read on 'The Ignatian Epistles' Oh, bless ye ! there is much comfort in these old wool-wraps. It is as if you opened an old drawer and took out garments scented with lavender and woodruff And the young clergy are getting more modest than they used to be when Anglicanism was crude and perfervid. They don't hammer so defiantly at the foes c f the Church as they did thirty years ago. They have wholesome dread of the new enemies that have sprung up, and betake themselves with more humility to the seniors who have had experience by which these alumni may profit.
And Samuel Johnson, LL.D., sits ponderous and prone upon his pedestal in Lichfield market-place; and I think they will soon have to repair his left boot. The 'arf brick' of some profane person has broken off a large piece of marble or bronze, or whatever it is.
ARMITAGE RECTORY, RUGELEY, May I'], 1894.
I am so sorry to hear about Mrs. L. Poor dear creature! so clever, so kind! Her music still rings through my brain: a permanent possession almost like some physical part of her transferred to me. No more will such a shaft of fire pierce my heart. But it was well, was it not, to undergo the tremendous passion ? All of you combined so: it was as for a dead lift; and you got me up a good deal. But I don't think I shall get much higher. ' Stick at that,' as the sailors say; but . . . that will do! that will do
You ask about pomes, &c. I have started not ing but trifles. The White Boy still hangs fire; also my second Parson's story; also everything.
Some twelve songs I have written and composed.
They are part of an attempt to divert the minds of the Manx people from trumpery, music-hall songs, to supply, if possible, the place of traditional, hereditary Literature. But I don't think they will have the desired effect. It is too late-too late! They amuse me, and that is something. Like almost everything I have ever written, they are for myself, to be murmured inwardly, a solace of a sort. No one will ever know anything about them. For greater effort I have no heart, no stomach. It costs more to redeem their souls, so that I must let that alone for ever.
Poor dear Mrs. L. How it I tore from her like rending of raiment. The concentration so close and fierce, the dispersion so free and triumphant! . . . 'The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof'; and wherever she is, she is there. Winds carry her, waves sustain her! She passes through the melodies of the Universe and is happy. I suppose we should all of us like to be thus conditioned, if conditioned we must be. My best love to Hazlemere !
RAMSEY, June 6, 1894.
On Friday last died my dear old friend Henry Grattan White, Vicar of Kirk Maughold. We buried him yesterday at Ballaugh, where his sainted old father-in-law lies, my godfather, Mr. Howard.
How I shall miss poor White! The sweetest and most chivalrous of men. He was not brilliant, but Her music. the most stainless and perfect gentleman I think I ever knew; so good too, so kind. He came to the island just forty years ago, so that I have known him for that period. He was of a good Irish family, an Irishman of the most exquisitely delicate type, conserved in a Manx elixir the daintiest and the most finely constituted. I do feel very sad.
About Clifton and my attitude towards it-it shifts coquettishly from time to time, but the direction is polar and ultimately inevitable.
In extreme old age I may enter Clifton omnino agnotus, there to dree my ain dole unstinted. Unless indeed I become incapable even of dole, for that is quite on the cards, and that would be the horror of horrors-sans griefs, sans joys, sans heart, sans anything.
The fear of putting this to the touch will keep me from Clifton, I suppose, indefinitely. It is one thing to poetize on the 'three places only, Dakyns' ; it is another to encounter three voids and stagger away sodden with dullness or reeling with disappointment.
One bathe! a good one, but coldish ; and I am going to have one to-day. June is a fausse faitour, and I really don't know which month to trust.
I didn't do much at Lichfield. The cathedral, though, is glorious. Being in a 'churchy' frame, oI was quite content with the emotion, and, of set purpose, turned my back on Samuel, LL.D. There are people who would unscrew the tension of any cultus ; what can you do? Why, obviously, change the venue, and talk of Pusey or Keble.
How about N.? that sweet, good, intemerate creature ? We know nothing yet as we ought to know. Some day perhaps we shall get to know how she fared in the tents of this dreadful Kedar, how from the shadow of that grim eclipse she passed in maiden meditation fancy-free.'
RAMSEY, June 15, 1894.
You can't think with what interest I have been reading-good gracious, you'll never-well, guess then ! No? I'll tell you. Law's Treatise on Christian Perfection!!! You know what a book it was with the men of eighty years ago. But I had no idea of its merits. Written about the beginning of the eighteenth century by a Jacobite Nonconformist, its doctrine is what I suppose would now be called high-flown. But the style is excellent, the logic tenacious, the wit never-failing. Of logic there is almost a 3avav ia, even to mood and figure. It is refreshing to feel oneself for a moment in the grip of such an athlete. But I will not affect to be indifferent to the subject-matter. I think it does me good. Perhaps I might have chosen a more suitable alternative for this admirable theologian than Anna Karėnina (second reading) ; but that book grows upon me; truly a very noble romance.
I have also been reading Karl Elze's Essays on Shakespeare. He is not bad, but don't you resent the imperturbable confidence of men, who after attributing a play of Shakespeare's to two authors, proceed to suggest a third, urged thereto by some fatuous and self-sought exigency?
Last night two men presented themselves with a request. It was that I would take part in an undertaking which they call ' The Pleasant Sunday After noon.' How is one to escape these faddists ? The world is overrun with them. Surely I might have relied on escaping them here. Yet I believe that the discoverer of the North Pole will come upon one of the lot addressing his rubbish to Ursa Major, placarding latitude go with a manifesto, blowing his trumpet in the ear of Arcturus, grating his scrannel pipe-but there! I promised the worthies to consult my brother clerics, and found myself at last talking about 'professional etiquette,' an expression which seemed rather to go home, but how exactly I would not like to say.
In return for your epigram, may I offer you one of my Manx songs?
I once did love a pretty gel,
Her name was handsome Ballaw ;
It's lek enough you knew her well,
She lived at Ballasallaw.
There most o' nights at Mother Cowle's I sat and got quite mallaw ;
And with a score of cheerful sowls Rejoiced at Ballasallaw.
But though I quaffed the foamin quart Gintale there in the pallaw 1,
She wouldn't be my own sweet heart, This gel at Ballasallaw.
1 i. e. parlour.
Alas, the gel a notion tukN She loved another fallaw ; And I was down upon my luck, Down, down at Ballasallaw. The tastiest I allis dressed
The more that I did swallaw ; Which univarsal was confessed By them at Ballasallaw.
Above her head I used to spread My fine silk romberallaw ;
She couldn't see the s'perier, This gel of Ballasallaw. Whate'er I done with freak and fun, She married Jimmy Callaw ; Unpozzible I think it still,
This gel of Ballasallaw.
So with this grief which fortune gives I'm turning green and yallaw.
I'm dying now; but still she lives, She lives at Ballasallaw.
There now ! Turn that into Latin elegiacs !
June 18, 1894.
Has the Commem. been and done itself? Any fireworks? chicken-fixins, or common doings? pomposities ? rapier-thrusts ? tears ? frivolities ? Biao-os ev7reaXOS, plausive ? Pulpit how occupied? Chairman ofbanquet ? who was pleased ? who was offended ?
ices ? decorations ? Grins gathered on the floor _next morning? Heart-burnings carried off for private rumination ? sweetness, long drawn out, inadequate, weary? «v(0_77 EAWTOIA6r7 l8pc"ųrc, icvio_77 O'X)AOV Voluminous, superflottant, Ua-wvoos, infernal ? ' Auld Lang Sync' and ' God save the Queen,' followed by a sauve-qui fieut, and a blessed and long craved for retreat to whisky and miscellaneous 'cussin'.'
Nay, don't follow him to his lair, that wretched man who made a speech at the dinner! I know, I know, God knows, he knows he made an awful mess of it. Respect the fallen! He will be miserable for the remainder of the term. No foolish jesting, please, no charivari at the door of his rooms! He couldn't help it. You hear him groan. Come away!
Have you been reading Tri7by ? It is a great improvement upon Peter Ibbetson. Rather a flout in the face of obvious proprieties-perhaps, too, rather excessively saturated with Thackeray ; but certainly both amusing and interesting.
I shall soon, I think, blunder off into one of my stories. The style had better remain in my own hands, i. e. be really guided and deliberately controlled by me, not imposed by accident. The common English just now seems to hold the preference. That, practically, means Blank Verse. I wonder whether you ever read a thing called ' Bella Gorry' by me, and, if so, whether you inferred from it anything as regards my aptness for Blank Verse. I am not at all above taking great pains with a study in this kind, if you encourage me.
June 24, 1894.
A thousand thanks for the Welsh story. That is the choicest morsel, as you say. 'We have not enterfere with you, don't we? Yes. By Tam, No!' Delicious! Did you ever hear of Colley Cibber's play-Love's Last Shift? Do you know that a Frenchman, who translated it, gave the title as La derni~re chemise de l'Amour ? Isn't that Frenchy in excelsis ?
We sailed round the island the other day. It was magnificent. The new governor was on board, beating the bounds of his island domain. So the captain took us very close. We were a party of eleven. The people were quite nice and orderly. I couldn't help thinking of my Windermere story
' By I tuk the lot.' That is just what I did, and was Ųssed in the deed. Such brilliancy of colour But not far off: we barely saw Scotland, and England not at all, nor Ireland. The little nest of rocks and gorse had shut itself up to itself, and invited the sun to shine full upon its virgin breast. ' Susannah and the Elders,' thought I.
Have you any 'views' about the Phoenissae ? Why did Euripides have a chorus of Phoenician, and not Theban women ? Is it possible that he had in stock, or recently bought as a cheap lot, a set of dresses which he wanted to use ? This urgency of the costumier might explain other things. Had he got hold, too, of a Phoenician piper? Phoenician music? (quasi-Jewish!!). He harps a good deal on the ßoå papl3apos of these she-males; but, otherwise, makes them chant good Greek enough.
RAMSEY, June 25, 1894.
It makes me quite happy to think that you are still at Clifton. Your leaving would have been such a dislocation.
Irwin must be hugely relieved. He is not a man from whom you can part easily. There is an inveteracy of concretion in him that cries like the lacerated limbs of Polydore.
I suppose you, too, are easier in your mind. Youth is sanguine, and has a right to be sanguine. I have just got into my new house. This will most likely be my last change. Therefore, I am arranging my books with some care. We have a bit of garden which my son Birkett has in charge. To find cabbages and carrots at one's elbow is a pleasant sensation. It makes me feel quite a propr2gtaire. All Ramsey is witness of our horticultural tentamina ; critical too, I can tell you. And we need support and indulgence, for my gardening dates very far back, and Birkett's is ruefully recent.
July 15, 1894o
Ramsey life-Manx life-has its dissipations. Oh yes! downright dissipations, and no mistake. For instance, yesterday we had a party of Americans brought over from Peel. We gave them tea and strawberries in the garden. They told me, with a delicious accent, that my daughters were ' quite lovely,' and my tea 'like a story-book.' Meantime Q. had entrenched himself in my study, resolved to make me his own for a final long solid reading of his MS. novel. How I contrived to dovetail the parson with these extremely feather-headed cousins from the other side of the Atlantic, by what specious shifts I got them to accept him as a fellow man of like 'body, parts, and passions 'with themselves, how he could hardly conceal his discontent, how the young man of the American faction fairly took my breath away by the cheerful declaration that Q. was a wag, how Q. survived these trifles, how we retreated to the study and there had it out over pipes innumerable, how he had to snatch up his cahi*ers and bolt for the last train, how/1 waited lest he should return trainless, how the sweet twilight sponged my soul of this imminent distress-are not these things written in the Chronicles of the House of Brown, and in the prophecy of Birkett the seer ?
And lo! it is morning! a glorious breezy day, bay blue as indigo, tipped with white feathers, perfect. Dora has gone, that is the worst of it. I cannot tell you how I miss her. She is such a joy and consolation. On Thursday she and Ethel played me the Septuor. It was, indeed, a sacrament, a high mass; only it is almost too beautiful: at times the loveliness becomes quite intolerable, and you feel you must rush out into the open, or grovel before your own children. . . .
There is the merest chance of my coming to Devonport to the Worthingtons, and, if so, to you in Cornwall. But these operations are, probably, too heroic. Bless you both.
RAMSEY, July x6, 1894.
Your letter was a great delight compounded of many pleasant things, and spiced with a flavour of refreshing. That's a funny way to begin a reply which is all too late.
W. was charmed with our little island, which indeed did its very best. He cried aloud and rejoiced greatly. Occasionally he dipped into the Tartarus of turbid speculation, but I had him out in a moment, and on we went light-hearted, feather-brained, and happy. One day we did some twenty-two miles along the coast. He sketched, I smoked, nothing went amiss, the heavens were consentient, and Zeus on Barrule slumbered in purple dreams by the side of the golden-throned. They stayed ten days: I shall long to have them again.
BAYREUTH, August -7, 1894.
I am in the land of the great enchanter, or the great impostor-which? A good deal of both. The fact is, I knew well what was before me, disenchantment I will not call it, for I never was under the utterly irrational spell to which some submit, nor capable, I trust, of the miserable following of fashions which leads others into untold extravagance. I will trouble you no more, however, about Wagner. This is the inscription over the door of his house here :Wahnfried.
Hier wo mein Wähnen Frieden fand Sei dieses Haus von mir genannt.
Let this house be called the Peace-of-dreams, For here my dreams found peace.
If ever a man was wahnsinnig-, he was, and obstinate, and confident, and intolerant. But verily a great musician.
Here, too, lies Liszt. The great pianist lies in the churchyard, but the son-in-law is buried in his own garden. To you a more interesting fact will be that also in the churchyard lies the great humourist, jean Paul Richter. That's rather more in your line; perhaps rather more in mine too, if the truth must be known.
Here is an old Vier-und-Sechziger hovering vaguely over these Bavarian fields, and precious little the worse for it, upon my word, rather the better. Often as happy as bird on bough; but when I think of poor W. and such-like haps, my God! how my heart sinks!
But sursum ! sursum ! It's not such a dead-lift after all. There's ' a dale of happiness about'; put out your hand, and make a snatch at it, not furtively, or diffidently, but with full purpose.
The children here go barefoot. That has cheered me considerably, and women of all ages, but, of course, of the lowest class, do the same. That is bad. What is to be done ?
Measure them for shoes!' That was pretty nearly what Mr. Dick said in presence of David's sparse wardrobe.
No one speaks English here but the English. It is a thoroughly German place. I knew some I Amerkins,' who were very pleasant, most unaffected and wholesome; but they have just gone away, leaving me very (pronounce that like the Latin for spring followed by ee) lonely.
To-day I was complimented on my German by an old German lady. But I believe she was French. She said I spoke it much better than she did English. Das kann se2'n.
AUF DER BURG, ISELTWALD, CANT. BERN, SCHWEIZ) August 17, 1894
Wonderful are the joys of the House Oakeley. The whole thing is quite perfect. Imagine what it must be to live in an absolutely Swiss family. I have always so longed to be admitted into the interior of genuine Swiss life. And now I have it, for the English nationality of my friends is but an accident.
I get a thundering big cup of tea in my bed at 8. Then comes breakfast in a gallery overlooking the lake. But I should tell you that we first have a summons to prayer, given by E. M. O. on the piano. It is a chorale! Children and servants they assemble in orthodox fashion in the dining-room, but we do not breakfast in that room, but in our first floor gallery. Plenty of honey and wild raspberries. Lunch at 1.3o, very nearly English. Afternoon tea at 5 ; dinner at 7.45. Interspersed among these substantial delights are Bachs, Beethovens, Schumanns, Chopins, Griegs, innumerable. They never stop. Sometimes a young Englishwoman, or French, or German, comes in and reinforces the music.
Yesterday who do you think was our reinforcement? Dakyns and Frances. They came down from Meiringen, wet though it was, and spent the evening... The meeting was tremendous!! Rain here is bad enough; but, writing in this open gallery, I catch lovely glimpses of wandering lights as sweet and peaceful as may be, hiding away among the pines.
HIGHER COOMBE, HASLEMERE, August 23, 1894
I left the Dakynses in Switzerland; they were on their way home, and were detained at Meiringen by Arthur's being bad again.
The house is placed at my disposal, and it is quite heavenly-such perfect peace after all the chatter. So I think I will do what my hosts ask of me-stay here till they come. It is a glorious opportunity for thorough rest. I have begun by taking seisin of the piano, not the small one, but th t on which Frances practises, and which is in the study. And a great mist has arisen, and at this height I am cut off from all the earth, being on Olympus for the nonce. The heavens are padded into a mighty dullness, and there is no sound whatever-nothing visible, nothing audible, how perfect
My time at Auf-der-Burg was most delicious. The hostess is most courteous, and kind. We had a party of French-Swiss people who were very nice, one of them playing with much brilliancy, and our hostess I made all the expenses of the conversation,' and entertained these honest folk as none of us could have done.
Much of my stay was devoted to Bach, O. and I hammering our duets as we used to do twenty-eight years ago, and with the fullest consciousness of that use. Surely this was soothing, not to say reassuring, I mean to us at least, to ourselves two.
PS.-Your picture of Margaret is a veritable gem. Save for the grace, Margaret is I-, that love of the driving rain,' that is the touch! Bless the child !
HIGHER COOMBE,- HASLEMERE, August 24, 1894.
Will you meet me in Liverpool and cross with me? That would be grand.
I have been four days in town, but it was not enough. I only managed some four friends. No, it was three friends, and they belonged to three different periods of my life. The Isle of Man mastership, the Gloucester episode, the Clifton dream. First, the drawing-master at King William's; second, Henley (germinally) ; third, Heymann. All were kindness itself.
I wrote to Crossley from Bayreuth: I hope he agrees with me; or have I blasphemed a deity of his ?
Marvellous joys and no 'common doin's' at Oakeley's. The place and the life are alike unique. Didn't we 'Bach ' it to our hearts' content? Our hostess covered herself with honour. You should have seen her entertain a party of French-speaking people at afternoon tea. We others (nous autres, P r) sat as dumb as dish-covers, while the Chåtelaine of Auf -der-Burg made conversation for all.
The Dakynses were detained by Arthur's falling ill. I ran down here yesterday, not however to the life and conversation of H. G. D., but to a solitudo. It is a delicious solitude, and I am very willing to abide it, and 'occupy till' they come. Such are their prayers and admonitions. I walked up Blackdown yesterday evening. Oh the heather! oh the silence! Many thoughts came into my mind, whether ' voluble ' some day may tell, probably not. But they were sweet and tender, and I suppose they were not really thoughts, they lay too deep for predication and the categories.
You dreadful man! This would have gone straight to you, if I could only read the address. And I ought to put %. Now I don't know Watt's initials. Would you reduce me to the humiliation of writing Watt, Esq. ? Irwin ! Irwin ! have mercy! I send this to the Clifton ark. ' Go, little dove.'
1 The italics represent a preference for the French language on the part of P-.
HIGHER COOMBE, HASLEMERE, August as, t894.
I am so Sorry.... I fear you are in great trouble and perplexity.
I got to London last Sunday and stayed there till Thursday. Then I came on here.
My disappointment was great. But the quiet was delicious. I walked out over Blackdown. I never saw such heather, and the bleaberries must have been magnificent-they are over. Yesterday morning was so hot that I could hardly stir. I got to the Station and bought a paper. Then, after lunch, I had a talk with Ragless, who thinks it a bad year for flowers, especially roses. The rats bother him, and there is a difficulty about setting traps on account of Roy. But Roy never goes into the garden. What a glorious creature! At first he was all fire and fury, but soon recognized a potential friend. He spends most of his time in a gentle sort of captivity at the front door. When I appear he lies on his back, and then suddenly rolls over and grips a great marrowbone. I don't see much of the pigeons, though one of that hooded kind (Capuchins?) peeped in at the dining-room window, and retired as who should say 'Only that old buffer P About q. p.m. rain began, and it has rained ever since (10 a.m.).
I have seen a rum book called La Fie inconnue de J. C.: I believe it to be a sell. Also I have read some of Boethius' De Cons. in a lovely little copy presented to you by S. T. I. I rather need this Consolatio. But I will not add my doubts and uncertainties to yours. So I state it to myself peremptorily that I am going to wait here till next Friday (!) in the hope of your all turning up. Henry is coming to-day. That will be very nice. I have never had such an opportunity of getting close to him before. Quod faustum
Beside Boethius, however, I have many, I will not say consolations, but attractions. Certain scones, a certain blackberry-jelly. It ' crisps me the nerves,' when I think of them. Mary is perfect to me, and so indeed are all. I go to bed at 10, am called at 7.30; bathe in your big bath; returning to dress in bedroom, discover a grand cup of tea; breakfast at 8.30, lunch 1.30, tea complete at 4.3o, dinner at 7.30, biscuit and whisky at 9.30. Was ever such a Sybarite?
In London I saw Heymann and Henley. The latter lives now at Barnes, in a delightful old house by the river-side. We had a most affectionate meeting; had not seen each other for thirty-two years. . . .
How pleasantly the birches smell in your Avenue! Sid. Irwin will, I hope, meet me in Liverpool next Friday, and we shall cross to the Island on Saturday. The Gods send you hither long before that, and Arthur quite well, or at least incolum s!
Fancy my having a compartment to myself a good twelve hours (Berne to Chalons) the other night! It shows which way the tide of travel is still setting....
We had the little Foam. What a thing! Just a bit of a swell, and lots of people sick. She did it in about one and three-quarter hours. We met a fine big boat which made nothing of the sea. Is she the Victoria ? I really think the Foam is a disgraceful anachronism. Kindest love to you all. Are the Miss Piries 'with'? Roy sends earnest longings.
HIGHER COOMBE, HASLEMERE, August 27, 1894.
On Saturday arrived Henry, and immediately his arrival brought fruit. . . . At 3 p.m. this young man, with a fine, simple audacity, took me off to Aldworth. We had tea with Lord and Lady Tennyson. There is a simplicity, a sweetness, and a good sense about this man that makes you love him at once. And they showed me the place and all its sacred belongings with such graceful candour. They seemed to know that I must wish to see things, and there was no coyness or affectation of reluctance; in short, they anticipated me at every turn. For instance, he showed me the old poet's favourite seat, and summer-house, in the latter the last pen he used, and his old plain metal ink-stand, like those we had in our hall for
Prep.' The trippers, he said, had so far spared these relics, but he could not undertake to say how much further their forbearance was likely to extend. Still there they should remain as far as he was concerned. Lady T. took me up to her room on the third floor, from which you can get a distant peep of the sea, and a most glorious view of the Weald. The house stands on a hill, a sort of promontory of the Downs. The day was perfection; all round the domain the crimson heather rolls right up to the enclosure, and mingles with the woods. I positively have to knock under about our Manx ling. This Surrey stuff, consisting of crimson bell, cat heather, and ling, is the finest I have ever seen anywhere. The woods are, of course, not to be paralleled in the Isle of Man; they are quite tumultuous, and remain as green as in June. There is not the smallest appearance of decay; it looks like midsummer. But the rich golden grain reminds us that autumn is ' dominant.'
The Dakynses we expect this evening. This will be all right. For, even with H. at home, I cannot help feeling rather an intruder with a touch of the parasite ! . . .
1 School ' Preparation' of evening work.
RAMSEY, September 28, 1894.
Fowler 1 has departed this morning with a 'fresh wind and a flowing sheet,' and has been delighted and delightful. There was no drawback-weather exquisite, and everything going off like a reel. He is a profound admirer of The Manxman, and is going to buy all the novels.
Yesterday we were at Port Iern. We walked to Fleshwick in sunlight of the brightest. Our first evening at Port lern gave us the Mourne Mountains in a deliquium of melancholy splendour which exceeded even your vision of ' the Guarded Mount' from Peel Hill. Long after sunset the black outline cut across a band of deepest purple. By Jove! it was a tremendous revelation, and the vela almost terrible in their significance. We proceeded to Castletown and the College. We saw every room, every dormitory, every dustbin, and Fowler was perfectly happy.
1 Thomas Fowler, D.D., President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford.
RAMSEY, ISLE OF MAN, September 29, 1894.
I return the ' Waterloo' letters, for the perusal of which I am most grateful.
How wonderfully they call up the atmosphere of the time! Documents are so invaluable: no history, however brilliant, can produce an equal impression.
Irwin has been over here, and we had a most delightful time. The weather was good, and we got about a good deal. I think he begins to like our little. island, and indeed it was on its best behaviour.
His Lucian is extremely entertaining. And all this he has wrestled for with sundry 'beasts at Ephesus.' It is extraordinary how he can contrive to find time, and the necessary go and fervour.
October 21, 1894
I see your face framed in the window of the little Manx Railway carriage, as I saw it that last morning, and the possession is permanent. Yet I have not written. Well, not writing doesn't mean not thinking, rather the reverse. . . .
Hall Caine! I agree with everything you say about this marvellous book. Only imagine-as Manx -even so it comes up to my utmost demands, sweeps me off my Manx feet, charrane-less 1, naked, bleeding with the gorse-pricks. And then you are a witness of its depth, its reach, its grip, its electric energy, its universal truth. Be sure it is a genuine as it is a profound fascination that the book exercises. You have taken it to your heart; let it lie there, a sovereign specific for all ills, an amulet of peace and purity. The people here, and I dare say at Clifton, talk of its 'coarseness.' By the people I mean, of course, the genteel class. The people, the warm-hearted, humorous, loving Manx folk, glory in it. The darling old savages! Don't you see them looking into the mirror ? Just as the South Sea beauties stared deliciously into Captain Cook's glass, and showed all their pearly teeth, and nudged one another. These are my people, savages if you will, I don't mindnoble, unconscious, sympathetic, naked and not ashamed. Yes, they love the book, and greedily devour it. My genteel friends however draw their skirts out of the path. I Faugh ! disgraceful! coarse 1 ' As one of them said the other day, ' Mr. Hall Caine seems to have a little bit of genius-yes, I dare say, but that is all.' ALL! Did you ever?
Upon the subject of coarseness I preach incessantly to these owls. It is just the point for them. Some of them seem rather ashamed. The reason is so obvious that I have to spare them. ' Your passion then is coarseness; passion is coarseness; coarseness is passion; they are the same thing. Therefore Kate's passion is coarse.' But Kate's passion is a flame of purity and splendour. They don't see that because their own passion, if it at all exists, iswhat? Ah, poor souls! It is something that they have to stifle, to beat down like the prairie fire, to be ashamed of, to be silent about, instead of the joy and glory of their life. Do these beings live?
Meanwhile Hall Caine is the High Priest of this altar. He is misunderstood of course. He has just heard of a young man in America who has died by his own hand. By his side was found a copy of The Manxman, marked in many places, and intended to be seen by the wife of a friend. For he cherished an unhallowed passion for her. This is precisely one of those unhappy Wertherian accidents that dog the steps of all great things. And he is very wretched about it. . . .
Caesar Cregeen ' is the triumph. Who ever guessed before that such treasures of humour lay hidden within the breast of Hall Caine? The Isle of Man seems to have elicited them. Literature is per manently enriched by this creation. A great tour de force is the recovery (rehabilitation) of Philip. I myself feared that he had brought Philip too low. But he ends magnificently, with a pathos that is astounding. We find that, all the time, we have loved this Philip.
Pete is a dangerous character for a novelist. The danger consists in the inevitable spooning. He is too Sweet, a luscious moral jelly, which palls upon the taste and disorders the digestion. I hear Wilson Barrett has more than fallen into the snare, in fact has gormandized on the facile diet, and will soon, if he persists, nauseate his audience. Already he has done so at Manchester. The play was damned there from the first. Our hardy Norsemen are better critics than your pock-pudding Southerners. They are right. The play can never succeed legitimately until it has been restored to its true balance. Even in the novel, Pete weighs it down to a lob-sided attitude, which is excessive and contrary to all rules of true art. Said a Peel lady tersely, I Pete is a fool.' A hard-mouthed quean this lady of Peel, but perilously near being right. Now don't be angry with her, or with me ! Before long you'll come round to my opinion, if not to hers.
I had begun to wear my beard, and it was dreadful. So it had to come off. This is very perplexing. The question is where to find the interval, the Jericho for its culture. If I take the wings of the morning, if I . . . what is to be done ? A retreat, clerical or otherwise ? Is this the secret of ' spiritual' retreats ? Men want to change their capillary habit (by which you will please not understand me to mean 'a hair shirt'), and so betake themselves to the cells. Perhaps so; but laymen can't do this, and S. of Clifton College is an example of the heroic hardihood with which a man may effect the transition publicly and without misgiving. The 'hero as shaveling' or the ' hero as goat.'
Kindest regards to Mr. Shenstone. Love from all.
1 Shoe-less 1 (a conjecture).
RAMSEY, October 28, 11894.
A thousand thanks for your story. One gets a brilliant glimpse of some not over-brilliant people.
I have written a Hall-Caine-Manxman article for the Contemporary, which might interest you as a Manx neophyte of so much promise
Y. was here the other day-a sharp, shrewd, serious sort of person, unnecessarily serious, shrewd, sharp, but good in his way. I have said I unnecessarily,' but perhaps, after all, it was necessary in the economy of things. A literary man, he is advisedly pedestrian. He does not dream of guiding the public, elevating the public, or anything but following the crassa multitudo. He does not love that entity, but he will wait upon it, study it. As the eyes of a maiden are lifted to the hand of her mistress, so do his eyes wait upon-the public.
His candour about this is refreshing, perhaps, but rather startling. ' The public doesn't care a brass farthing for so-and-so.' The ' so-and-so' includes such ' illigant thrifles' as poetry, essays, literary sketches, reviews of books, everything not absolutely up-to-date, or, we had better say, ' to-data.'
Z. has missed fire with Macmillan. I suspect we shall all miss fire now. 'The ground is covered,' as Y. said with reference to The Manxman and all possible competitors, or humble coexistents, not coefficients. But behold, I am gliding into mathematics ' gude guide us a' ! '
RAMSEY, November 1, 1894.
Oft in the stilly night.'
11. 5 and 6, 'the smiles, the tears,' &c. I Illacvamo pueri lacriynzs puera1z*oY' is a distinct inspiration, just that heightening of the phrase (tender and loveable) which is so amply justified by the effect. Euge
The question is whether this rain will ever cease. I hear it swilsh, swilsh, all day, and in ' the stilly night' it is bourdon to my dreams. It prevents my going to see an old friend; indeed, it keeps me to the house, and here I am a close prisoner. The very bay seems swept out of existence, and Barrule is a barely conjecturable bugaboo. We must return to whist. It began last night. There, sir, are the little events of our daily record, while Salisbury and Rosebery gird at one another, and the Czar is moribund at Livadia. Where is Livadia ? I prayed for him last night.
Hans Sachs-I took him up yesterday, and read Güdeke's introduction, and one or two of the Lieder. They were of the sacred kind (except the first), and not attractive. The Meistersingers, as theologians, were fatuous enough, i. e. in verse. Hans Sachs' prose is said to have been a powerful solvent in the Reformation muddle.
To Addison I give my I nights and days '-how delicious he is! Do you know his use of the word
' indolent'= without pain'? I imagine it is his only use. One of his mottoes I tried the other day with a dear old friend whom I visited in his illness. He is upwards of 8o, and is very unhappy. He clings to life, and seems to consider it a grievance that it was so delightful-and now, all gone. He was the very soul of hospitality, lived heartily and liberally among his fellows, liked I to have his friends about him.' I tried to lead him back to those bygone days, and get him to extract from them the solace which I think they are well suited to afford. I was one of the turba coenantum, though still revocable to his querulous old vows. And I quoted Martial:Hoe est Vivere his, vita posse priore frui. Lovely, is it not? But the dear old thing could only go back to the lacunae. Shall we come to that?
I don't know. I have a very strong impression that I shall not.
I have been reading job-not mine', but Froude's. It is very noble. I What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?' But Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, reinforced by Brown the sophist and Elihu the cantankerous, could have availed nothing against this deep-seated melancholy.
Remember me most kindly to the ' saints that are of your household.'
1 This poem he had refused me earlier in the letter. 'Even your neopbytic promise is hardly capable of it.' ' It is strongly Manx.'
November 6, 1894.
I seek no preferment anywhere, certainly not in the Isle of Man. At some cost I have purchased my freedom, and will not lightly part with it. It is a case of ' From Egypt's bondage come.' A few years will finish the business, and I must be free-free to do what I like, say what I like, write what I like, within the limitations prescribed by me by my own sense of what is seemly and fitting. Literature is my calling, and that in the most liberal interpretation, ranging from Die hope Kritik to such lucubrations as 'The Gel of Ballasallaw.' With this view, I need absolute freedom, freedom to go to church or not to go to church, freedom to commune with local preachers and occasionally attend methodist chapels, freedom to smoke a pipe in a Manx public-house, freedom to absent myself from church conferences and ruridecanal potterings-in short, absolute freedom. If from this freedom there should proceed anything whereby my native island may profit, either by way of self-realization or harmless mirth, apponam lutro. To hold up the mirror to my fellow-countrymen comes natural .to me; and in the more open field of invention I am not without hope of giving them pleasure. Every man should follow the bent of his nature in art and letters, always provided that he does not offend against the rules of morality and good taste. But an archdeacon must submit to other and more cramping restraints. Good taste alone would cancel half my writings as the production of an ecclesiastical dignitary. The great Archdeacon of Oxford is no model for a divine of the nineteenth century. The blessed old Walter was perhaps not looked upon too favourably in the twelfth when he wrote his lhleum est propositum, and though meum pvopositum is not in taberna mori, yet I should glory in writing a 'drinking-song' like his.
You see I am incorrigible
Hugh Gill stands foremost among the native clergy, and would, in every way, make an excellent holder of the office.
1 Two letters on the question of whether or not he would accept the Archdeaconry of Man.
November 14, 1894.
. . . I would work hard to get it for a Manxman, what's the use? Our countrymen have no chance. As livings go now in England, Andreas is very valuable, and the foreigners are indiscriminately ravenous. They will bite at anything, much more then at Andreas. I bite not!
This vision of gaiters and dancing attendance, and all the proprieties and all the pettinesses having passed, I feel quite tuneful'. And yet my legs have only just escaped the greaves ecclesiastic.
November 21, 1894.
My castis omniå casta rests really on a great effort I made to subdue the physical repugnance I told you of. I had found so few people sympathize with me, J or even understand me, that I began to suspect my own Siåoeovcs. Choking down, therefore, that rising gorge, I raised myself to a point which overlooks the objection. My whole being rushes out to apprehend
the passion of love. Once dissipate that horror (of which I have perhaps said enough), and the field of expectation is even greedily devoured by me (corr46iõ camAum). The removal of that physical check makes me abound in the opposite sense. And, indeed, I see the whole situation as chaste, or rather soaring into an atmosphere which doesn't differentiate things in that way.
I read Trilby in HarAer as it came out. It simply astonished me. Whole pages of it were delicious, the very medulla of the sweeter Thackeray. But one misses the bitter-sweet. Still it is much to give the Thackerayan honey alone; for Trilby is a veritable honeysuckle, if ever there was. As a tourde-force I imagine nothing has been written for many years that comes near it. And weren't the pictures good ? And after Peter Ibbetson, with both text and illustrations so disappointing. I see some reviews are calling upon Du Maurier to advance and challenge the higher issues. But surely that is unfair. He has done admirably, and I don't think he is ever likely to do better. His work is an extraordinarily felicitous product, an ague, I should call it, or high-water mark for him. Apparently it has been written with the greatest care. Isn't that the very condition of its excellence ? Let him lash himself for some mighty effort, and ten-to-one we shall see a dismal failure.
Do you think at his time of life and all, there's much more to come of that brand ? I don't.
I have been reading a little Latin-Amphitruo of Plautus (how bright and strenuous!), and Epistles of Horace. Has it ever struck you that there is some affectation of the desultory, loosely-connected, nonsequitur, Byronic slovenliness, or whatever we may call it, about these compositions? A nescio quid that suggests more than carelessness, something approaching to Z,3pis, even to cynicism, i.e. artistically.
Your Latin verses 1 I greatly enjoy. The dear old Abraham goes straight off into your beautiful lines. Of course he has not a scrap of modern ampedimenta. You get through the Customs at the frontier with a whistle and a smile. You have nothing to declare. The blessed old man by your side is himself a Roman to begin with, and you pass together as cheerfully as possible.
In re Rabelaisiåna. Big broad Rabelaisians may sit down with us in our more liberal hours, but Sterne never! I have an idea that my judgment within this area is infallible. There are nice Rabelaisians, and there are nasty; but the latter are not Rabelaisians. The new Macmillan has a pious horror of my Anglo-Manx. So job must keep till I have a mixed volume ready. By that time my BEARD will have grown, and I may leave Jericho. Remember this, if you want to grow a beard begin at once, or you will never have a rich, glossy, soft, voluminous, silken appendage. The longer you put it off, the coarser it will be when it comes. Hemp is a fool with it.
Oakum-picking is substituted for shaving, one kind of penal labour for another, and there you are. But if ever you see me in the flesh again it will be with a beard.
I don't ' scorn' the Archdeaconry. The function is something more than archidiaconal. It is legislative, the Archdeacon of Man being ex oficio a member of the Council. Moreover (and this is symptomatic), the Governor communicated to me through a friend, the fact that my appointment would be very acceptable to him, and that expressly with a view to my duly weighing the considerations bearing on the matter. This was, I think, very kind, but my mind is made up, and has been from the first.
A. M. is my great fautor in the business. Here is an epigram I wrote him :
Archidiaconicam quaeris cur non sequar escam ? Roystonal quot dentes Sint mihi, Maure, roga. Anglice.
You won't be Archdeacon? Such fads I'm irate with. Ask Royston what teeth I've to nibble a bait with.
Also I want a cousin of mine to get the Archdeaconry. Here is a manifesto by St. Andrew him self. The Rectory is Kirk Andreas. 'Gill for Archdeacon!' sound the fiat clear!
A Manxman he, and Manx-like loves the Manx. A strangers voice my people will not hear;
Let them hear Gill's grand voice and give God thanks.
. . . The never-sufficiently-to-be-valued Worthington has sent me a lovely
picture, one painted by himself, of Ramsey. He calls it,' The Ramsey Sentinels,'
i. e. the two lighthouses,
one on either side of the harbour-mouth. I have written an inscription for it.
- PINXIT A. M. W., MDCCC%CIV.
Beyond that line the angry billows cease,
Whilst light to conscious light the watchword tells;
Without is war, within is guarded peace;
And hence their name, ' The Ramsey Sentinels.'
Now I think that is pretty, and it owes all its prettiness to Worthington. Essentially, what a poet he is! But he doesn't write verse? Must I change my principles? I'll tell you what, I'm certain he does write verse; yes, rhymed verse! there now! Slent principia ! Very kindest regards to you all; and mind you include your brother.
1 I omit verses (a eulogy of Archdeacon Gill) quoted elsewhere.
1 I Dentistam' celeberrimum Monensem. Roystona ='Poiurova ab 'PoiaTarv, cf. MĖjuvova ab MĖyvwv.-T. E. B.
RAMSEY, November ag, 1894.
How deeply I sympathize with you in what you say about Clevedon ! The dream condition which you describe I enter into with all my soul. The old life once lived and forever passed from us! A brooding presence that haunts the air, and charges it with memories that are almost more vital than the obvious surroundings. The wallflower, the flow'ring currants, that will soon be there again, and, everywhere. . . . Yes, Clevedon sums up our life more even than Clifton. To creep into it quietly some morning, to drop down from Cadbury, and just breathe it again-how delightful it would be! And poor little M.-a few wild hyacinths to strew upon his grave. You have led me into this dream very sweetly and gently.
RAMSEY, December 4, 1894.
Names are invaluable; they often suggest stories. Here is my basket! pour into it! What a lovely story that is about the poor widow! yours, or M.'s, or ' both's' ? It is delicious. If we were to develop it, I fear the inroad of the 'sentimental.' So it must be told quite briefly and in verse, e. g.
Her husband died before her babe was born Two years ago. Converted? Doubt and grief, Poor soul! she felt. Her Methodist creed forlorn Gave but a lenten substance of relief.
To-day, beneath the piteous gaze of morn, Her child is dying. On his little brow Descends the veil, and all is over nowNot yet, not yet! For suddenly he springs As who perceived the gleam of golden wings.
Dada!' he cries; he knows his father's face, Ne'er seen before. O God, thou giv'st the grace O widowed heart! They live in Heaven's fair light,
Your husband with his boy: the child was right. There! Shall I dedicate it to you, or to M. ? or slight as it is, will it bear dedication to the 'two of ye,?
Perhaps a more perfect day never shone on this sea-girt isle than this. What marvels December can work, when it's in the mood !
PS.-Send me stories to get them 'set' in the same way. There is nothing I like better than 'setting' these little jewels.
RAMSEY, December 11, 1894.
It seems a long time since I last heard from you. The matter of the Archdeaconry came to a head by Asquith's offering it to me and my refusing. So that is all over.
I ought to tell you that I had a charming letter from Sir West Ridgeway about ilgran ri)Tuto. He did not tax me with v2ltade, and that was very good of him.
And now I feel as light as air. No net henceforth is likely to be spread in the sight of this bird, and I can see my way on till the end.
Did I tell you of the three excellent articles in Ste. Beuve's Causeries (vol. xi) on Cowper ? I am sure you would like them. They are appreciative and sympathetic, and that is not amiss from a French man. I have also read a Causerie on Virgil, and one on Theocritus. So many French liaėrateurs give me the idea that they don't go nearer the Greek authors than the Latin translations.
Do you knowWordsworth's Essay, prefixed, I think, to his collection of Lyrics-subject, the neglect of all great writers (Eng.) by their contemporaries ? He makes out his point very well; but the object is manifest, and so natively put. He wants to prepare the world for his own book being a failure.
I have just read The Excursion. In book viii, I think, occurs the celebrated line
Goes sounding on his dim and perilous way.
Surely I have read somewhere that that line was Coleridge's. Puzzled, I had recourse to Milton, but it was not there, however worthy of him. In The Excursion it is quite in situ, and there are no marks of quotation. Isn't this all terribly sciolistic ? I ought to know these things, but I don't. By-the-bye, in reading The Excursion after a long interval, I feel so much how good it would have been for Wordsworth to have gone to Oxford. He is a thorough Cantab, has no philosophical vocabulary, and really rather bores one with his constant philosophizing, which is under difficulties and often only half intelligible. Some periods, all involved and crude of phrase, I can't construe.
Most wonderful, and why not delightful? In the parish of Maughold, commonly reported of as the last fortress of barbarism, they are going to have, on Thursday night, an entertainment which will include (saving your presence) the trial scene
In Pickwick ? Nay, sir, no such ' commin doin's,' but The Merchant of Venice!!! Isn't that splendid. Fancy these rustics with some Holofernes of a school master aspiring to such purposes! Not content even with a homely Pyramus and ' Thisne,' but the absolute soccus. God bless them! We intend going. To think that the music-hall is to give way, if only in this one item, to the ' true and the beautiful.' To see these country lads, open-mouthed, drinking in the sweet gravity of Portia. But how about Shylock ?
If they laugh-ah ! So much depends upon the actor. I have my fears. Well, if they do laugh, I shall be disappointed, but not disheartened. You shall know the result. The School House is quite up among the mountains. The full moon has a great deal to do with the matter. Now don't deride! you owe me two letters.
December 15, 1894.
Coraggio, mon ami ! You see, don't you, the end of the combat, and your fingers clutch less spasmodically the bowie-knives of assassination? I see you all, and have no fears. On the contrary, I am reading Gautier, and will preach to-morrow two excellent sermons. My poor friend Langton, the Vicar of Bride, is dead, and I am going to help his curate. What will you bet that I don't bring in the good Rector's descent from Bennet Langton, and further back from Stephen of that ilk? Will the rustics stare! All right! All the better
The rustics at Maughold did not behave very well at the Shakspearian performance the other night. I gave them a sketch of the play up to the trial scene, but I forgot to tell them not to laugh at Shylock, and they did laugh the whole time. Poor souls! All acting is to them comical. The mere assumption of a part sets them off at once. It is the fault of 1,%.r1o-cs and can't be helped. The fescennine precedes everything, and is the primal fount of drama. On Tuesday I shall repeat my preliminary remarks to an audience at Lezayre. I must tell them what a ducat is, and a Doctor of Law. Of course to my Maughold friends ducats were a kind of bird. ' These birds I must shift I:' and beg them to understand that Portia does not appear in the character of Sangrado. The only theatrical scene they had ever witnessed before is that performed at Christmas by the Whiteboys, or Mummers, and there a real phlebotomizing, dosing son of Aesculapius is a leading comic personage. So they took Portia for that kind of doctor, and audibly expressed their recognition of the identity, at the same time demanding the ' King George,' properly' Saint George,' whom he is required to heal of ' his deadly waoond.'
The quality of mercy is not strained' they of course applied to some defect in the making up of the prescription.
Sir, it is a day of small things, but we are not discouraged, not a bit of it.
N. is now preening his plumes already full sleek enough. Marvellous phantom, till Hades recovers him, and the plaintive shades mourn their lost peace. The effect upon Proserpine and the three-headed monster is doubtful. But that will be only at the entrance, and N. will be too tired to give them a taste of his quality first thing. Otherwise Cerberus might snap-poor N.! poor Cerby ! Now, sir, stop this nonsense!
1 Some piece of coterie-speech.
RAMSEY, December 21, 1894.
Pembroke 1 arrived and was ' hausted' at one sitting. Thank you very much. It was quite impossible to leave it once I began. It has its faults, but they are made up for by some delightful things.
It is difficult to understand the character and conduct of Barney. He seems almost a lunatic. Yet his brutal obstinacy gives occasion to some very fine scenes, notably to that with Rose in the ploughfield. But how about the likeness between Barney and Richard Alger ? Surely we have the most pregnant intimation of an occult cause for this; and ought the excited and expectant reader to be cheated so mercilessly ? Then, do you care about the supposed physical degeneracy and even visible spinal distortion of Barney? I thought we had come to a Doctor Jekyll business. But no, all passes off, and we are again frustrate. These things are, I think, unsatisfactory tentamina, a sort of pullulation towards as yet untried ground! Do your spookery frankly, or leave it alone. It's no use making my flesh creep if you don't make my hair rise with the full-bloom horror. Besides, my flesh only begins to creep, and this inchoate condition is a bore. For goodness sake, let people keep their feet on the ground. They need not, therefore, necessarily be pedestrian.
The mysterious, unexplained, but strongly emphasized likeness of Barney to Alger would prepare one for a heredity out-cropping after the manner of Ibsen, or for some criminal nexus, I don't know what, as between the Thayers and the Algers. But all that it leads to is the very worst in the whole book-Aunt Sylvie's mistake, and unconscious betrayal (repulsive would not be too strong a word).
1 Miss Mary Wilkins' novel.
One situation, however, redeems everything. We have it on page 2q.4-the death of Deborah, or, rather, Deborah stricken down. Only a few lines. " I wish you'd go an' get Rebecca an' Barney, father," said Deborah faintly. She suddenly wavered so that her old husband wavered with her, and they reeled back and forth like two old trees in a wind.' Magnificent! That is nature herself, and at one of the aKp,as. See the simplicity of the means! and the stupendous effect! Why should a woman who can do this yield to the pseudo-scientific, or whatever it is ?-the damnable incubus of the para-physical ?
The epigram' (epitaph) by Marvell is one of the noblest things I ever saw. You have introduced me to a veritable treasure. How, and when did you find it? And R. did not know it either! Treasure trove, and no mistake! You'll have to surrender it to the Crown. But henceforth Marvell's crown will shine to me with added lustre. I Let him rest his reputation, &c. &c. ' A glorious diamond of tears !
A eulogy (brief but earnest) by Ste. Beuve on 1 ' An Epitaph upon -,' Marvell's Works, Muses' Library, ed. Aitken, vol. i. p. 112. It begins
Enough ; and leave the rest to fame; 'Tis to commend her, but to name.
Mat. Arnold pleased me the other day. He also singles out the father as deserving of high commendation. He quotes (translates) the doctor. The passage is a fine one, an apology, and more than an apology for the classics, and is taken from what seems a lecture by Dr. Arnold (volume de Mė1anges du docteur Arnold, seconde ėdition, Londres 1858, p. 25o), vid. Ste. Beuve, Nouveaux Lundis, vii. pp. 1-52, on The Greek Anthology.' Ste. Beuve is an enthusiastic champion for our side, but, oddly enough, he never strikes me as knowing much about the matter Happy Christmas! merry, if you will.
RAMSEY, December 30, 1894.
What a coil! Hail, snow, 'wind and storm fulfilling,' &c. But here I have your nice verses, good fire, a pipe, and I can defy Boreas.
I don't think I should care to introduce a third rhyme into the octave. A shapely sonnet ought, I fancy, to pile up the octave as a stem, avoiding rhythmic changes ; then the sestet should b ossom out in rhyme like a rich corolla. I prefer the excess of rhyme in the flower part of your plant. Your sonnet follows the reverse method. Otherwise I like it very much.
In the form, I advocate restraint, chastity, conformity to the purest Italian models. It is a plant of Italian growth, and we Englishmen, so naturally disposed to be irregular, had best hold ourselves in.
It is a question, essentially, and in every sense, of measure. Let us be measured, especially within so small a plot of ground as the Sonnet. Elsewhere we can and do pan out enormously-plenty of verge and compensation.
Warton's lines I think are poor things, hardly worth translating; I prefer yours to the original.
It is quite allowable to foam over in a crest of heightened idea, when the original attains a certain elevation. You are excited, and justifiably so; hence the added swell, or stronger heave. But the original must give an aŲopiA7j. As a translator you have no right to 'take the word of God out of the minister's mouth' and make him speak poetry, where he has himself been contented with prose. This is artistically an impertinence, possibly, even from a moral point of view (a very delicate one, I admit), the taking of a liberty !!!
About The Manxman, this is the point.
The ' loves' of Philip and Kate (taking no account of matrimony, and therefore in the sphere of naked idyll, pagan idyll, if you like) are most glorious. I go with them to the very apogee-you will not call it perigee-of their rapture. Surely a splendid lovefling, genuine and sweet. That is Part 1.
For this I have in Tess a sordid, melancholy situation
The Manxman, clouded, eclipsed for a while, but, by some potent charm, brought out into the light of clear victory and triumph. That is Part II.
For this in Tess, marriage of Tess and return to the unutterable Chadband-satyr who ruined her. This is sheer 7ropveta of the most loathsome, cold-blooded type. She also commits murder. That does not much mend matters. .. I prefer infinitely, The Manxman.