[From Letters of T. E. Brown, 1900]
January 19, 1895.
Your story is delightful. The Manx (Anglo-Manx) is rich and profound, and, I should say, faultless. You live in a fine Manx district, and derive full advantage from the fact.
I have an idea that Mr. M.'s new book will show plainly that we have arrived at the last squeak of the Manx language proper. So I think what we have now to do is to make a new start, making Anglo-Manx dialect the basis. In its turn this will probably become obsolete, but meanwhile the catastrophe will be deferred by your stories, and, perhaps I may add, mine.
Let us then make all we write very good and sound-Manx timber, Manx talking, Manx bolting, Manx everything. Manifestly we shall not appeal to strangers, nor in fact, hope to make a penny by them. Neither will the Manx public defray the expense of pen-and-ink and paper.
You are wonderfully strong for this purpose. Never hesitate to put in an expression or phrase which you know to be in use, or to have been in use within your memory.
We must make a long arm, and stretch back and grip the receding past. Don't care a scrap whether we thereby run the risk of being unintelligible to the rising generation. That is of no consequence. You and I are a Court of Record; let us execute our office faithfully and lovingly. . . . In short, we must be both daring and modest. . . . In all this, there is no money-of that I am sure. But there is the joy of self-utterance, of sympathy elicited, of vital union with a people whom we love, and who deserve our love, of a precious future treasury, the old possessions of the race, wondering, perhaps, how they should have come to lose so much, thankful for what will have been saved from the shipwreck. . . .
January 29, 1895.
I contrived to get to a ' Burns' dinner in Douglas on the 21st, and to propose the toast of 'The Immortal Memory.' I fully expected to be 'kilt,' but I got on very well. The audience was a capital one-such stalwart, enthusiastic, intelligent fellows. Some of them walked over the ' mountains' from Kirk Michael, and would have to walk back through the snow at 3 o'clock in the morning-, foo ' ! Well, never mind! My lecture in Douglas on ' Old Kirk Braddan' 1 was a failure. The people were most hearty and indulgent: so it must have been 'my own fault. Portraits of my father, and my brother Hugh, were botched and feeble. You will not see them. The fact is the people were too indulgent, stimulated me to unstinted mimicry-buffoonery-what you will. And they laughed and laughed, till with horror I awoke to the consciousness that I was treating the old Braddan life as a school of comedy, of which my father constituted the central figure and protagonist. Some tender things I believe I said, but the subjective condition of my hearers, aggravated by my own impudence, carried everything away into a ,8åpa0pov of farce. V'ae mihhi
I should not think you would take to Scotchmen, and Barrie's Auld Lacht Idylls is not to be compared with A Window in Thrums. But I am just now the victim of a perfect Scotch craze. I really am dangerous; so be careful! I felt tremendously moved at that dinner. I was na foo, certainly not with Scotch drink'; but I am fairly mad with' seempathy.' You see I am a Scotchman, and, upon occasions, I gravitate largely to the Caledonian basis. Some ancient ghost arises within me, ancestral for that matter, and I can't control it. Heaven only knows what crapula inherited from generations of toddybrewing Borderers takes possession of me. Foo ? foo ? na, na ! not foo, not even a drappie in my ce but a glorious swell of delight, the consciousness of the greater country absorbing the less. Nescio qua dulcedine laetus, I shake and tremble. We had a nice Irishman at our dinner. He spoke in such a way that I was constrained to embrace him with a,certain effusion (symptoms, you will say-now blow you!). Isn't Crockett the author of The Raiders ? He seems to have a tidy notion of advertizing himself. I sincerely agree with you about David Wright 2 .
I only once or twice had an opportunity of hearing him. But he was a great preacher, and I use the epithet advisedly. One drifts away from the preachers; they are almost hull-down; but Wright goes up upon the horizon still, a Peak of Teneriffe. And the dij'erentia of such men is enormous. It reminds one of what has been, and what we may yet, perhaps, work our way back to. So splendid and gracious a form cannot surely perish out of the world. Only close to it, puny, miserable, and fatuous, is the ordinary concio of the period. I often think that the art is a lost art, and conjecture that it was a very great one. I measure it, too, by the terrible certainty , with which I feel that I cannot even approach the rflAevos of what must always be to me a mystery.
1 His father's vicarage.2 For many years Vicar of Stoke Bishop, Bristol.
RAMSEY, February 11, 1895.
That was a nice fascicle of Arnoldian ' yvc~pat, or quasi-yvcõ/at. I must get the book, and will. Surely what he said about F. was meant ' succastic ' -a most unworthy axfljAa, of which, however, I fear he was capable in his day (nefasto die).
Is R. leaving ? It is enough to make your heart sick within you. He is a wholesome atmosphere. The very face of him clears away noisome vapours, and is 'as the sun in his might.'. . . Correspond with him. So sweet and flexible a quill cannot but be I had quoted a few things from them. amenable to fine and tender uses. Try, mind you do! Don't neglect this
About Dakyns I will not bate one jot of hope. To be with Dakyns is the thing. What can be done by the best pen? Dakyns is not a pen nor a wielder of pens, but a passion-flower; and to have that twining round you in a thousand convolutions of close-fitting gyration is-well-a luxury, and I am grateful for it.
I have been reading Berkeley. It brings back to me very happy days. Old George Wood, my darling old madman who watched over Napoleon in St. Helena, the cleverest old creature I ever knew, a Lieutenant in the 17th, a friend of Heber, a pure idealist, comes before me in a vision of fire. How we used to talk about Berkeley! The accent, semi-Manx, semi-Irish-it seemed tuned to that theme. I always talk Berkeley with that cantilena. I dare say Berkeley used it too. And don't you revel in the style? It is something to remember that he took it all at last to Oxford: it was a true consecration.
1 M. Arnold, Letters.
RAMSEY, February 13, 1895.
We are all agog for marvels. This is the normal condition of the Manx folk. Anything that seems to set at defiance the ordinary routine of natural experience fits in exactly with their mood, is accepted indeed as a positive bonus. They hunger and thirst for miracle; you can't give them too much. Impatient of science and all such trumpery, they welcome with delight this relegation to the ' First Cause.' Quite at home in the primordial embrace, they snuggle to it, and are happy. Anything that could diminish the area of the marvellous is resented by them. It is a philosophy of a sort, and they look so dismally at you if you enclose the smallest atom of space from the great common of the unexplained. And when they do hazard an explanation it is such fun i. . . .
Isn't that marvellous? Well that is what I live among: and really whether I'm in the body or out of the body I sometimes can hardly tell. The situation, if not Pauline, belongs at least to the Apostolic age, the protoplasm of Mythus.
I have lately read Beside the Bonnie Briar Bush and The Raiders, both Scotch to a degree that would choke you. But I have also read an English story, The Prisoner of Zenda (ridiculous rubbish). The evil savour of this bosh sent me to my Euripides, and I read the Heraclides and the Hippodytus. How very fine the latter! It was so amusing to read it with my old notes, but I found them give out. A Valckenaer would come in handy. Positively Euripides was of la premib-e qualiM.
I don't make any progress with my Macmillan book. I must gird up my loins to the work. It is absurd to be going on as if I was to live for ever. Plans open out ad infanitum-but-the tremendous but; well no, not tremendous, but not the less a fact. Woe is me for the wasted years! And after all how about reading? Would it not be better and more obvious, more suited to my powers and condition ?
Mind you never give up, as I did, quite twenty years of your life to mere idling. It was delightful, but not profitable. And I am even now inclined to say 'D-n the profitable!' Only it would be so naughty, and probably but a blasphemous and ineffectual Ignoratio elenchi Ah, the elenchus grips me, shakes me: I can't put it off, and I don't care. Still you look out
1 An illustration follows too long to insert.
February 17, 1895.
That's right! Take care of yourself. Reduce yourself as far as may be to the life of a zoophyte. Do absolutely nothing. There are a thousand tricks by which you can affect to be doing something, even to be (y)earnest and fretful. But in reality do nothing. That's your tip. If we were together I could show you exactly how it is done; but by mere reflection you can summon me up from the depths of the far niente I wish you to imitate. Also, the duplicity which is needed; there again, I am a perfect exemplar. It is pleasant to me to think how useful I can be to a young friend. Sir, I shall not have lived in vain. My influenza bears fruit.
I am now reading The Rebel Queen, by Besant. The writer is almost unknown to me, and I rather like him. I feel, though, that I may be ' sliddherin' away into God knows what. There is a facility about the style which I ought perhaps to resent. The facile is always to me so glissant ; and, at my time of life, you wouldn't have me a crag-climber, would you? Honest MacAdam ! I love thee.
Our gulls are getting very tame; they will come in at the windows next. Meanwhile the poor little songsters, for whom we spread the crumbs, are scared away by these big boobies, and get nothing. The cat contemplates the whole scene sardonically. The gannets, I suppose, are in Africa. ' O for the wings!' You don't like my photograph! I know you don't.
Neither does any one; but the die is cast. There is no return.
PS. Just read in the December Macmillan a very pleasant, humane article on the ' Poetae Mediocres ' by Ainger. What a good man he is
RAMSEY, February 28, 1895
I am generally rather a happy 'surt' of man, but your letter makes me very happy. How kind you are! Up in the morning betimes to catch people still in their beds warm with a generous enthusiasm, to surprise their sympathies before they had ' faded into the light of common day,' and to collect all their ' loving' words for me. That was a good and faithful act; and I am deeply grateful.
Yes, the man was right. I do love the poor wastrels, and you are right, I have it from my father. He had a way of taking for granted not only the innate virtue of these outcasts, but their unquestioned respectability. He, at least, never questioned it. The effect was twofold.
Some of the ' weak brethren' felt uncomfortable at 1 being met on those terms of equality. My father might have been practising on them the most dreadful irony; and they were ' that shy' and confused. But it was not irony, not a bit of it; just a sense of respect, fine consideration for the poor ' sowls,' well -respect, that's it, respect for all human beings; his respect made them respectable. Wasn't it grand? To others my father was a perfect Port-y-shee 1. To be in the same room with him was enough. To be conscious that he was there, that he didn't fight strange of them, that he never dreamt of ' scowlin ' them, that they were treated as gentlemen. Oh! the comfort, the gerjugh ' 2, the interval of repose. Extra ordinary, though, was it not? To think of a Pazon respecting men's vices even; not as vices, God forbid! but as parts of them, very likely all but inseparable from them; at any rate, theirs. Pitying with an eternal pity, but not exposing, not rebuking. My father would have considered he was' taking a liberty' if he had confronted the sinner with his sin. Doubtless he carried this too far. But don't suppose for a moment that the ' weak brethren' thought he was conniving at their weakness. Not they-they saw the delicacy of his conduct. You don't think, do you? that these poor souls are incapable of appreciating delicacy. God only knows how far down into their depths of misery and degradation the sweetness of that delicacy descends. It haunts the drunkard's dreams, and breathes a breath of purity into the bosom of the abandoned. That is the power of a noble innocence, a respect for our fellow-creatures -glib phrases, but how little understood and acted on! With my father it was quite natural. He was a hot hater, though, I can tell you. He hated hypocrisy, he hated lying, and he hated presumption and pretentiousness. He loved sincerity, truth, and modesty. It seemed as if he felt sure that, with these virtues, the others could not fail to be present. Was he far wrong? Yet many people would have thought him stern.
One dear old cousin of his comes to my mind. We called him U. T., that is Uncle Tom. He was not our uncle-we never had one-but the uncle of our predecessors at Kirk Braddan. And almost every Sunday evening he spent at the Vicarage-poor old thing! He was quite silent. One thing, though, he would say, as 'regglar as clock-work.' My mother occasionally apologized for the evening being so exclusively musical (we were great singers). Whenever she did so, the reply was prompt from U. T., 'I'm passionately fond of music.' This to us children was highly ludicrous. Indeed my mother was amused she had no Manx blood in her-but my father accepted U. T.'s assurance with the utmost confidence. His chivalrous nature, more deeply tinged than hers with Keltic tenderness, or the very finest kind of Keltic make-believe (Anglice-humbug; oh those English!), had no difficulty in accepting U. T.'s I passionately.' Passion in U. T. Well, to us it was a splendid joke. I sometimes wonder whether the vicar too, at times, had lucid intervals of the bare, naked reality. He had a fine sense of humour; but he had a still finer sense of honour, and he would have considered it a baseness to laugh at the poor thing, with its pretence of passion, trying to screen its forlornness. What U. T. felt was not the passion for music, but just the soothing, comforting sense of being at home with us, of being accepted as one of ourselves, of not being 'scoulded,' of indisputable respectability, of being thought capable of ' passion,' even so ethereal a passion as that of music. How blessed those hours must have been to U. T.! He sometimes missed ' them. But it never was my father's fault. Was it U. T.'s ? Well, we children had no idea that he drank. But now of course I know that when U. T. did not appear on a Sunday, he must have been I hard at it' on Saturday; and into the kingdom of Heaven he must have taken the Sundays, not the Saturdays.
Forgive all this. But I have been so much touched with your taking up my reference to the dear old Vicar of Braddan, that I could not help extending the portrait a little.
And for the poor backsliders, the 'weak brethren,' the outcasts-aw ! let's feel for the lek, and I keep a houl' o' their han'.'
Do write again. You will do me so much good.
1 A letter in the possession of Miss Graves, and sent with hers.
2 Port of Peace.
RAMSEY, March 7, 1895
I can't write, I can think only in one direction'. It is terrible. . . . I will write soon again. Under these strokes let us creep a little closer together, a little closer together. All this draws my love back again to the old place. I do feel for it, for you, as well as for . But the rest is silence
.1 The death of one whom he had known as boy and master at Clifton.
RAMSEY, March 17, 1895.
The days of your mourning are now over. N. has told me about the sermon, which I suppose must have been very good, though I long to hear what you thought of it. It was a great occasion.
I have been on the very verge of influenza, but escaped, vix et ne vix quidem, seedy, weary, feverish, but I dare say all right. The progress of spring helps me much. The days are becoming glorious, and the garden shows promise of rewarding the Adamic Birkett. Crocuses spring up like tongues of living fire, and hyacinths display a bona voluntas. Everything is late, but everything is consentient and sound.
These things do their duty; but the mental Spring delays. Indeed, generally at this time of the year I lie fallow. My sympathy with growth and bloom absorbs the sort of dormant faculty, and I make no haste myself to bloom or grow. How is it with you ? Any shooting or output? There is no hurry: but don't give it up altogether.
The Marshal has petitioned for a photograph. So away over the water it goes, one of the bearded lot, smug, bucolic, the thriving Manx farmer, guiltless of ideas, incubating repose, a peaceful centre of lambs, rooks, and incipient turnips. It is good for us to be here.
Gorse has been terribly retarded, but it will now assert itself; and, before another month has passed, I shall be in the Curragh, among the bog-bean and listening for cuckoos. Mist lies upon the ground, but above it there is fine blue air, and the sea is blue. Take a good walk, and tell me about it.
The direct outcome of all your Clifton trouble is to me something of a new life, and gives me great comfort. It is the beginning of a new current streaming Clifton-wards.
To peep in upon you now would be a subtle delight: I see it all through veils of melting vapour, that melt and melt and make me inexpressibly happy. Very likely it is best to leave it so, not to take any action, but simply submit to an influence that is wholly sweet. It may even be a euthanasia: be it so: upon this I would not be unwilling to die. Yet the bog-bean blossoms, and the cuckoo calls. Isn't it odd that I get an instantaneous picture, an impressionist picture of the funeral? Corresponding about business I see just a sentence. The funeral had passed by the house ; it was on its way to Portbury. That helped me a good deal-, on its way to Portbury.' Exactly so, and where else? I am glad to think he lies at Portbury.
Symonds' life is with me. Brown has done his work well: the book is even fascinating. But I have one serious complaint, and I have laid it before the author. Symonds I always thought of as eminently a literary man. What I had looked forward to in the Biography was the picture of literary joys or solaces. Well, Brown shows him abundantly as working away in feverish haste to get a lot done, not as exulting in the literary energies and appreciations (don't they call them?); but the man, the essential man, according to Brown, is the agonizing searcher after the absolute. I think I just recognize him in that phrase, one of his 'many moods,' but to make that the key-note of Symonds is surely a total mistake.
RAMSEY, April 3,1895.
Your beautiful and elegiac letter is the poem that was wanting to this sad occasion. It expresses my feelings, nor does it contain a thought or an emotion with which I do not sympathize. I cling to the dear old place with the fondest affection. I was baptized there; almost all whom I loved and revered were associated with its history, especially Hugh Stowell, the saint and patriarch of our church, and my own father, the Rev. Robert Brown. 'The only church in Douglas where the poor go '-I dare say that is literally true. But I believe it will continue to be so. It will be ' a free and open church.' You see I postulate the continuity. . . The church will still be situate in the midst of the.poor, it will still be the centre of the peculiarly Manx district, the focus and the rallying point of the native population. 1 On the pulling down of old St. Matthew's Church, Douglas.
The ' homeliness' will for a long time be missing, a great though I trust not an irreparable loss.
For ' homeliness' we shall have beauty. Why should not the poor enjoy this advantage? When they find that this beauty is their own, freely communicated, they will surely regain the feeling of homeliness. It is not difficult to be at home with beauty, and that is an elevating influence.
Yes, the old thing, the dear old thing is beautiful, and the sensation is compounded of many elements, more or less consciously present to the minds of those who worship there. But I imagine that the main element is the unity of the congregation, their common status in life, their common nationality, common Manxmen, common isolation in the midst of the surging sea of innovation, progress, and foreign bustle.
Perhaps you will say that all this is adequately and more naturally and simply guaranteed by the old church as it stands in the old market-place. Undoubtedly it is; but the decree is gone forth, the space is demanded by what are called ' the needs of the town': years ago we might have foreseen this. Douglas, old Douglas, is knocked to pieces. A new Douglas has risen, with new ideas, new requirements. Where can we find a shrine for the old simplicity?
Even if it exists, where can we house it ? I know of a case where, owing to similar demands, a church had to be removed. But it was built of grand old stones which it was possible to transfer, one by one, numbered and arranged for reconstruction on the new site. St. Matthew's is, architecturally, a mere TT rubble heap, and cannot be subjected to such a process. And, as I pass it, I feel as if I saw a dear old mother, sweet in her weakness, trembling at the approach of dissolution, but not appealing to me against the inevitable, rather endeavouring to reassure me by her patience, and pointing to a hopeful future. Very likely it was thus that an older St. Matthew's appealed to good Bishop Wilson, who was far too deeply imbued with reverence for antiquity to contemplate with stoicism the removal of anything once dedicated to sacred uses. . . . I have a lovely water colour of St. Matthew's by some local artist. It does not show the whole building, but merely the belfry and just a bay or two. This is enough, though, to suggest the attitude, the nestling you speak of. To me all such circumstances and relations are extremely precious. I know them well in Italy, where you have also observed them. The church at home among her people, taking part in all their affairs, carts and booths right up against the walls, no mutual avoidance, quite the opposite, a sweet cosiness of benediction, a localization of peace in the midst of turmoil; a man lighting his pipe, I will not say immediately, from the lamp that stands at the feet of the Madonna; bright laughing girls, the rich fruitage and colour of the south. And every now and then a good wife passes beneath the belfry, sets down her basket, and says a prayer, and dreams a dream. Ah ! it is delicious. We never had quite that in Douglas, and we assuredly never shall. But one thing I hope, and that is, that the church will always be open. If so, it is but a step, and the tired market-woman can refresh her soul with the brooding of the sanctuary.
So I do not think I am doing wrong in helping on this movement for a new church. With my watercolour I shall always keep and treasure what you have written to me. An elegy I have called it, alas! it is so, and it is destined to be monumental. Thank you very much.
RAMSEY, April 20, 1895.
Moor's death has drawn me to the old place with a strange power. I had been getting very indifferent to it; but this is a summons which calls to me trumpet-tongued, and I obey it. Love flows again, and I long to be there. He lies at Portbury, and the rain beats down upon his grave this gloomy evening, and I would fain stand there bareheaded.
Seriously, your little visit of last year was othe most delightful episode I ever enjoyed. You were in magnificent form, and the high-water mark was that glorious tramp from Port Iern to Peel, by the coast. Do you remember the heather on the north side of Cronk-ny-eary-laa, and the rich sweet water-gleams under Contrary Head? Ah ! that was good! When can I induce you and Mrs. Worthington to repeat the dose ? Elixir is scarce. R. too ought by this time to take his place, and, tolerantly, to suppress his youthful vigour, accommodating it to the senile and demi-semi-senile pace of certain duffers. C. might very well and very profitably be introduced to the Keltico-Scandinavian cultus. She would look lovely in Glen Aldhyn, or harebell-crowned on Skye-hill. There is yet another imp of Faerie-land now coming on. Wouldn't she skip and bound on shore and Mooragh, and gather unimaginable bog-bean from peaceful waters, willow-swept, Ballaugh-way, or in Lezayre ? Yet I suppose you will bring them up in the true English fashion, half Devonshire, half Switzerland. Well, well, I know we are out of it.
About these Scotchmen. Surely Beside the Bonny Briar Bush is, in many ways, delicious. I don't care about the Manse element, the stuff about sermons, and the all-pervading ' releegious' flavour. But the ' Doctor '-isn't he grand? Crockett in his Raiters is a bit too ambitious. Mounting on the shoulders of Louis Stevenson, he tries to follow Scott. Pindarum quisquis is all that can be said. But that article in the New Review, though extremely amusing, is abominably unfair. What was the title? ' Literature of the Kailyard' was it? By a Scotchman, too, one Miller! If you have not read it, I think it would make you laugh, though your heart might burn within you; for Miller is a cynic, and you have (or very nearly!) escaped that universal tar-brush. Go on escaping it: you will be all the happier, and so will your wife. It is the labes gehennae, and when there is any tendency of nature towards it, one must weed it out vigorously.
Inexpressibly welcome are your sketches, lineal and verbal. I know Tregenna, have lunched there, and saw seals playing around a fishing-skiff. They were dodging for the fish, and the men would now and then heave a ballast-stone at them, just to bid them keep clear.
St. Gurnard's ? Yes, I have been there, and there I had a female guide to the Head-an extraordinary thing to happen, I suppose. Such a nice, good woman. We talked about families and so forth. And when we parted, she looked long and earnestly at me, and said, ' I should like to see your wife.' Was not that wholly beautiful?
No, Cornwall is not England.
RAMSEY, May 112, 1895.
Yesterday we were at Ballaugh Curragh to get the bog-bean. It was most glorious. The flower was in perfect bloom, just at its akme, and we could have gathered cart-loads. Probably no daintier beauty decorates the British Isles. It is so delicate, so complex, and so distinguished. We also found the bog-violet in great abundance. In the train we had much talk with old Manx people, market-folk, deliciously inquisitive and communicative. Some of them knew me, and were eager to amplify their knowledge. I had to correct some errors, for it is evident I am becoming legendary. One was the belief that I had ' kept a school' at Exeter(!) in partnership with my cousin, Will. Howard. ' Belted Will?' I asked. ' Aw, well, I dunnow about the belt at all. Laak enough, but we never heard of it.' Then the kindly Manx resoiscentiå. "Deed, I belave in mee heart there wass a belt, too, though, or wass it a cap laak those Collidge boees has got at Castletown over ? '
Nothing could be better than the A. P.1 for your youngsters. I would steep every one, I would steep myself in that supreme bath of criticism. I can hardly think of it and its early impression on me without tears. Is it not so ? More than criticismlife, energy, sincerity, the most absolute ayXivota, a btbacrrcaAta so confidential, so unwearied, so affectionate, that I feel as if I had known Horace in the flesh, been his pupil-no plagosus Orbilius he, but an old friend, wise and kind and interested in nee. Oh, if I had had such a one
Dust flies: the spring is overdoing it. I hardly ever remember a more lovely week than that which has just passed. And now Summer stands at the door.
1 Ars Poetica.
May 21, 1895.
. . . Your account of certain perambulations make my mouth water, and, indeed, sent me over the mountains one day to Laxey. It was a walk begun with Lamplugh 1 and ending with Rydings. 'Betwix ' the two was a fine hiatus of staring and dreaming.... Some wretched artillery volunteers are to encamp on the Mooragh in Whitsun week. They make the place intolerable. Barrule is the least interposition that I can stand. . . . We shall hear the thunder of great guns, but in the distance:
Suave procul . . . turbantibus aera bombis.
Y. is an angel, but a desperately quiet one. Are they all 'laak yandhar' in heaven-What? . . . His effort (ef fort!) seems to be to hit the asymptote of definition. To take x, and then its contradictoryy, and mix them up in a sweet electuary of mumble and retraction, is his line. Really an effort, and a very resolute one, the outcome probably of a vow that you shall carry away with you from an interview with him no statement that could possibly be quoted as made by him on his own authority. What a beloved old palimpsest ! 7raAty and åvå7raAty 1 scratch and scrape, you'll never get to the original script. It must have been a long discipline that could produce such a result. A safe man ? A patent safety, a Milner chubb-locked. No, nothing so strong a mist, a cloud, a smoke, a deliquescence of all the categories, a negation, a blank. . . . He would be amiable if he were not so cautious. ' Billy-becautious' was a fool to him.
1 A F.G.S. engaged in the survey of the island.-J. Q.
RAMSEY, May 29, 31895.
There is not much chance of my leaving the island this year, nothing that we could build upon in making arrangements.
For practical purposes, therefore, consider me as not coming to Devonport. Write me off. Dismiss me to the limbo of frustrations. Suspend no movement on so precarious a thread. Natheless I love you all, and would fain be with you.
Your husband is a great joy to me-I'm sure you know. He warms and stimulates, does me infinite good. I can rest in him: that is a marvellous comfort-marvellous, because he is not a restful man. The spin of his mind, though, with its tremendous rapidity, is like the spin of a humming-top, it is musical, it soothes me. And I believe I supply something to him.
On my table lie his beautifully figured illustrations of raindrops-that is the man, too-dip, splash, and a thousand waves, pulses, beads, and coronets of exultation. Scientific knowledge does not abide with me, but I can appreciate physical form, and the tenderness of kinetic delicacy.
You will be very happy at Ivybridge. Inland from it are very delightful places; among them, the valley of the Yealm. I question whether anything can come up to Dartmoor at its best.
We have been much, of late, to Ballaglass. It is most lovely-the primroses and blue-bells amazing. The other day we discovered an old weaver there, and his wife. The man was a handsome old fellow, fair and sunny-looking in his advanced years; the wife a brunette, 'with eyes of flame,' wrinkled like a sibyl, the remains of a terrible beauty upon her. And it turned out that she was from my parish (Braddan), and knew all about me and mine. Wondrous! the old times lived again; my father, with circumstance of the minutest accuracy, the little vicarage, the church, the very flies and gnats of contemporary gossip preserved in this amber. She was like a stick of amber. But how she laughed, how she cried, how she clasped her hands, and 'blest her soul,' and 'dear me'd,' and wrapped me in a san benito of sympathy and fire-God help me! and how foolish we were! And how the whole relation was inexhaustible, and how we drank from each other full draughts of garrulous delight, and never tired, and how we scandalized Edith and Dora well, well, it was a high time. And the old weaver weaves rugs, and is now weaving one for me. I think he is rather exorbitant! But who cares what exorbitance when the glory of the accident transcends the 'orb' of 'common doin's' so magnificently.
And this was the second prophetic kind of person that laid hold of me within the last month. She was saga, fatidica, black, Cumaean. The other was a sweet old thing that I came upon in Kirk Braddan churchyard. I was sitting near my father's and mother's grave; my head was upon my hands, my hands upon my walking-stick. I was dumb and dazed. Suddenly I was aware of a woman within two yards of me. She was cleaning and painting two little tombstones. I spoke to her, and, in a moment, she was revealed to me as an old friend. She too had known my father, used to be sent by her mother to 'show the vicar the way to the shore at Kenisthal.' A beautiful, stately old darling. So wise and good. Had she been an old sweetheart ? I really cannot say. I can well imagine it. But we stood confronting each other in a tranquillity so delicious. Yes, God has given peace to both the wild young hearts; her husband is a blacksmith -and I shall go and see him. Pardon all this nonsense! To me, however, it is more, and better.
RAMSEY, May 30, 1895.
I dare say R. would oppose to your thrust about the Eclogues that he did not believe in the sincerity of my love for those old darlings. There has been so much factitious enthusiasm exhibited about those poems that I pardon the doubt. But I know in whom I have believed, and, till I die, the Eclogues will continue to be what they have always been to me. Tell somebody to look under my pillow!
I am reading right through the Athenae Oxonienses to freshen up my memory of a life-long favourite, and write an article upon it for Henley. That, I believe, you would not be averse to my doing, pomes or no pomes.
RAMSEY, June 30,1895.
I must go over the hills again and seek an unfailing Egeria who lurks for me in the deep hollows of Nickisen. The last time I was there I nearly fell into the fathomless pool of the mocking fiend. Indeed I did get in, but got out again very quickly. I had been dreaming (I had a whisky flask), it was very hot, though I lay in the shade of the hazels, and the boggane took advantage of me. The delicious old wretch! I wonder whether I shall be found dead in the depths of such a dell-ambrosiis lacevtis : for it is He or She (Lui or Elle) according to my fancy.
I was a whole week at Keswick. The W.'s behaved like angels, clever, provident angels. They bade me go about my own business, which I did. I had two good solitary mountain rambles, each a whole day long. I heard Wilson preach on Sunday morning. In the evening I had Skiddaw to my preacher.
An incredible amount of time is taken up with my editing of Rydings' Tales. These tales are by my friend Mr. Rydings, of Laxey, the Lancashire man who has so thoroughly mastered the Manx dialect.
RAMSEY, Ju1y 9, 1895.
Glorious view from above Cronk-y-Voddy, whether looking back to Rhenass or forward to Kirkmichael-shore. We were specially fascinated by the sweet soft outline of the Kirkmichael I brews' trending away towards Jurby Point-the outline and the colour! Of course we left Rhenass behind the Fall. It was really too awful to face for the second time the band (!), which roared and brayed at the gates. From this point our walk was a perfect rapture of delightful solitude . . . much upon the scene of your story....
. . . Yesterday I walked a Scotch friend from Port Erin to Peel by the coast. You know the Lagg ? It is almost finer than Glen May. . . .
RAMSEY, July 16, 1895.
The mountain walks may well comfort you. I too have been I over the hills and far away.' We walked (Horatio Brown and myself) from Port Erin to Peel by Bradda, Fleshwick, Carnanes, Slock, Cronk-nyeary-laa (top), Eary Cushlyn, the Lagg, Glen May, Peel Hill. How beautiful the Lagg is! right down in it more beautiful than to look at it from above. To get up on those ' commons '-the joy of it all! How insignificant our hopes and fears! What pigmies our minds! A whole bench of bishops throned on South Barrule, what would it add? Nay, but what would it subtract ? And Glen Rushen and Glen May, and the dappling of green fields between the heather limits! Chut ! gerr along with ye ! I . . .
RAMSEY, July 16, 1895
I am anxious about this business. I am an old friend as well as an ' old hand,' and one thing is certain and is my support. You will not, you cannot for a moment believe that I am influenced by any object save that of cheering you and comforting you through a great trial. Machiavelli-Brown! a new character. In that character my experience may be of use, my brains are at your service, but my heart, my better organ, lies ever at your feet. Use both, and be of good courage.
PS. I am in a state of great excitement about Cowper. Reading him right through I was more than ever struck with his innumerable felicities. Yet how very terribly he sinks! The style sinks, but still more the thought. I imagined that his fine taste had piloted him through the theological mare mortuum of his age and school with comparative safety. But really, it is not so. He is often quite abominable; so rude, so insolent. He sends his antagonists to the Devil; literally, if I am not mistaken, tells them to go to H-11; exults over them, sneers, jeers, jokes. His mildest attitude is a ' sarve them right,' and his idea of God as the owner of some patent sort of peep-show, which, if we don't appreciate, he will d-n our eyes for a set of God knows what, is absolutely Swiftian in its utter vulgarity. What a detestable poison has penetrated his vitals! Mind, it is not the doctrine, but the swagger and infernal rudeness that offend me. The style too becomes infected; with all this ghastly machinery of unreason, he takes it upon him to be flippant. Such ' awful mirth' is almost unparalleled in literature. He even assumes an athletic, or pseudo-athletic vigour of contemptuous denunciation. Å thletic, and here !poor dear old thing ! But the felicities! here are some. EXPOSTULATION.
The secret power
That balances the wings of every hour,
But thou wast born amid the din of arms,
And sucked a breast that panted with alarms.
Pardon the sucked. Suck'dst would be grammatical, but harsh.
Nor less composure waits upon the roar
Of distant floods, or on the softer voice
Of neighbouring fountain, or of rills that slip
Through the cleft rock, and shining as they fall
Upon loose pebbles, lose themselves at length
In matted grass, that with a livelier green
Betrays the secret of the silent course.
Lovely, I think. In line 5 I regret lose just after loose. But try to improve it
He calls for famine, and the meagre fiend
Blows mildew from between his shrivelled lips,
And taints the golden ear.
Worthy of Milton.
RAMSEY, July 24, 1895.
'Tis the Conquest, anno MLXVI of the Hall Caine era, or Ol. I. 2
The Island swarms with Yankees. I had four of them last Monday, two yesterday. Mother and daughter had a car ready at the door. Bore me away swiftly inevitable to Maughold. The rape of Proserpine was a fool to it. I was Ceres' daughter, rapta Diti, gathering some silly violets or candida lilia in my study. I was surprised. Help, help, O heaven! Raptor agz't currus, I had to go. There were also comites, witnesses of the deed, Manx friends filling with me calathosque sinumque. I had to go.
In vain they strove. I was a ' gone coon.' I had to show them Kirk Maughold, its runes, its well. I had to discuss Hall Caine from his crown to his toe. They had seen the Hall, of course they had. The younger woman was an authoress ('This is the authoress,' so her mother introduced La belle dance sans merci). The authoress was as sharp as a needle.
What do you think of . . . .'
Alas! alas! This ravishing had circumstances of great cruelty, had it not? I struggled; I put up silent vows.
' Do you consider . . .' I hesitate, I boggle. In vain I pointed to the innocent runes, in vain I sought to divert their fury by indicating Barrule. Barrule was clear, pitilessly clear, and smiled upon my undoing. Americanae, Americanae ! spare me, daughters of Atlas! let me go! They wouldn't, they didn't. They drove me back, it is true, to the boat. Charon received me trembling. No, he received them, and I was left with all my shame at the end of the pier. People laughed! My Manx friends were there; they laughed. Is there no sympathy for-a ravished pedagogue of unimpeachable character ? What will become of us ? The authoress is to write an article on Hall Caine, 'novelist, dramatist, man.' (' Farewell to the bark, &c. ) Their method is to call on my friend in Douglas, get a note of introduction from him to me, and then to Henna on steeds of flame:
Quorum per colla iubasque Excutiunt (never mind the prosody! I'm beyond that.) obscura tinctas ferrugine habenas.
My two Manx friends were both of them in throes of Bibliopole parturition, and therefore demanding all my maieutic aid and consolations. Poor fellows! Little they got of it. Proserpine ! TIEpuECßõvq as
ElIXEt'Ovia ! The function was impossible. Henceforth let them not invoke me. I come not to their fer opem.
Verily I dwell in the tents of Kedar, but I can do something in the way of maintaining public decency. For private decency, I fear this screed is not a voucher that I can rely upon. You are now drawing nigh to Armageddon. I wish you well through it. When, emerging, you find yourself within measurable distance of the Giant's Causeway, let me know. Strange things may happen. If I do cross the herring-pond, the G. C. will be my goal. But I positively must have a race up one of the Mourne Mountains-that is indispensable.
RAMSEY, August 13, 1895
I am very busy arranging about stiles on Peel Head. Do you remember? Redans, Malakoffs, demilunes, mamelons-the horrid, horrent, diabolically perverse impedimenta of the route! Astounding contrivances wherein was manifested the maximum of detention, retention, or whatever you choose to call it, united to the minimum of stability-a subtle and most damnable all-over crumbability. That moment of awful suspense upon the åK[4 of projection God knows which way. The miserable ware! Ah, Apollo ! is it thus you serve your votaries? The miscellaneous sub-collapse, the agony for finality, and, when it has come, the shameful and demoralizing finis ! Well, all this shall be no more. Whence you dimly (fraudulently, I say) conjectured the mountains of Mourne (you remember?) there shall now be a serene platform of speculation, a o-KOnta for dyspeptic passengers, who will be happy and quite amicable, and free from spleen-nurtured visions tending to risk and the clouding of friendship.
A mural crown is the least that I anticipate, unless the interested Peelites vote me a civic one besides. In anticipation of this result, write me an inscription, or two inscriptions, in the sense of a bene TT TT them. The modern words would require to have an entirely new motf
The Manx Emigrant would be a good subject, but it is rather trite. Something that would come out of the very bowels of the land, or rumble in the guts of the sea, is 'wambling in my wame ' as I write. But I don't feel in the mood, and nothing I suppose will come of it.
There is disaster in the fall of this old tune; but our disasters have been so obscure, not definite disasters indeed, but a long suppression of nameless miseries. If it had pleased God to inflict upon us a crowning woe like the'45 ! But and Nature, you see, has not been unkind to us. One thing often touches me-the deserted cottages (tholthans) which are the results of emigration-the cold chiollogh (hearth), the bit of thorn where children have played, the trammon (elder-tree) at the gable to keep away the fairies. And the vacant space, just so many feet of air, the home, the place where the bed was, where babes were born and women wept.
Far away in America or Australia many a heart must go back to such scenes with irrepressible longing. Oh, if I could only comfort such hearts! But-and what is this BUT ? The gift going from me? The drying up of the spring? Perhaps so, nay almost certainly so. . . .
Bartholomew's portrait most exquisite. I could not look at it without choking. I am a born sobber ; and, if I give way, it is all up with me-' Down, down! hysterica passiõ'-that is my only chance. . . .
RAMSEY, " September 1?, 1895.
. . . I have just returned from Ireland.
Among other places, I was nearly a week at Comber, near Belfast, and visited Grey Abbey 1. The similarity to St. German's was most striking. I searched for the sandstone from which the Lancets have been wrought and found it at last, not in the Scabbro quarries exactly, but in an old disused quarry at Ballyrogan, hard by. I have brought you some specimens to compare with the alien stone at Peel. But I daresay you have already procured them for yourself.
Affrica is buried at Grey; also her husband, John de Courcy. Her effigy (if it be hers) is tolerably complete. Poor old de Courcy ! Of him there remains the shield only, and the stomach! I made an ascent of Slieve Donard. All this was after my ramble about the north coast to Ballyrock W., and Ballycastle, Fairhead, Cushendal, &c. , East. The climax was Fairhead, a glorious place!
1 My work in County Down in 1893 had resulted in identification of the builders of St. German's, Peel, with the builders of Inch Abbey and Grey Abbey, Down (1195 circa). Affrica, who founded Grey Abbey, was daughter of Godred, king of Man (1154-1187).-J. Q.
RAMSEY, September 14, 1895.
My Archaeology 2, minus the ritualistic connotation you grafted on it, served me well at Comber. I thoroughly did Grey Abbey: it is delicious. The Lancets at once suggested the common Cistercian origin of Grey and Peel. I sought the stone on Scrabbo Hill, and found it, not far off, in Ballyrogan Quarry. Six pieces in my bag await the examination of 'friend Quine.' I am sure he will be delighted. You see, we Archaeologists-but d-n you! You are not of the craft.
My nephew-in-law gave me Christina Rossetti's strange, but beautiful monody, which he said had sent him to sleep. A poetess hiding beneath a metaphysical veil was not for him; but bedad, sir! she does bravely for me. And you'll hear more of this. O Christina! Christina! dye hear me! I Belave me if ye can!' I follow your shining garments through all the apokalyptic spheres. Good night, Christina darling!
And, do you know, I climbed Slieve Donard, and had another niece to my fere, an approved camarade. She made great strides in my affections, and is destined to be a friend of friends. Ah, Irwin dear,' women is good when they are good,' yes, faith, they are.
Everlasting thanks for your two letters. The Colchester' one took the cake. 'Oh that I were there!' But you don't know Pearsall, nor his in dulci iubglo. Nay, sir, you are left outside, and this was emphatically 'borne in upon' me (Presbyterian in tercourse not without profit ?) at the Manse. My niece Dora, the married, played Mozart, Heller, Schubert ; my niece Nelly, the unmarried, played Handel (much), Haydn, Schumann-played from memory, and most accurately and sweetly. The husband is a good deal of a musician, strict in that, if not in dogma. It was he who accompanied his eldest son. The youth played (on the violin) Gluck, Schumann, (but also, credaie fiosteri !) La Travgåta. Here were amene conditions.
And now a word of gratitude for all you made me feel and know. It was a glorious time, and the beard has fallen.
Hugh's razor, Hugh's brush--your sow' to glory! Cecidit barba me also tonsore.
' I had said his beard transformed him into an Archaeological Ritualist,
1 I had written of its Boswell associations.
RAMSEY, September 17, 1895.
Dear me! What's doin on you? See here! A vess from oul Milton, ' Smit with the love of sacred song,' Paradise Lost, iii. That'll do gran'. But another thing. How on earth is it that I have never been told of this testimonial? For the world I would not be excluded from any token of respect-nor
' Break the fair music that all Manxmen make To their great songstress.'
Therefore-let my name be added to the roll.
In Peel? Aye! At the Craig Malin. My goodness! how could I disturb daycent people at that hour of the night. I come wiss the Fenellar. Tired?
Yiss wossi, and slep' till hafe-pass-nine. Wondherful young man that was yandhar. Aye, sarvin' lek the breakfuss lek. Waiters is it theer callin' them? Aw lek enough. And says he: ' Some people is sayin' 's books is immoral. Do you think them immoral ?' Bless mee sowl ! I was that tuk aback you wudn' belave ! I wass though.
And I met C., and he was tellin' me that yandhar American woman has been doin' shockin' jeep wiss us all. Aye C. gets off pretty well, he was sayin'. But and the wife is gerrin it booseley 2 ... And 'poor people can't allis be washin' themselves,' says C., and 'preparr'd to be receivin' company like such ones.' Aye now! deed on C. And no more they can. It seems C. shut himself up, and told the wife to 'deny him' to any persons cumin' botherin' 'excep' on business.' Think of that now!
1 The word is used of things in a bad way or plight, I gather. 2 Boosely=beastly.
RAMSEY, September 21, 1895.
I think I see you on the top of Lhergy Grawe. The gossamers of vision must float around the rock. Catch some and play with them. Surrender yourself to some illusions. What are we but children ? Only we don't quite believe in our toys, nor, indeed, can we live upon interludes. Solid fact? Well that's not far off. Meanwhile illusions, gossamers-keep yourself amused. In my life I have been so much alone, it cannot be helped. Where is the comrade ? I never had one. The absolute self is far within, and no one can reach it. I will not cant, but God reaches it, and He only. I used to envy the surface people, obviously happy, and in their happiness all there, so to speak, the full complete presence of one being to anotherno, it is not for men of a certain temperament. Yet we love candour, sincerity, thoroughness, and would fain saturate ourselves with free communication. Poor old Emerson and his over and under soul, he was not far wrong. His friend Carlyle broke down the division habitually-smashed the two souls into one great smudge of discontent. I would not do this. Keep them both going separately. A strong man has strength enough to do this, and all his surroundings benefit thereby. Moreover, in a sweet ancillary way they reflect upon us their sunshine. Or would you rather tear out the very Fyrepa of the real man, and try to be the ordinary social ' critter' of the period? You can't, you can't! that ruin within you would have to be dragged about. . . .
Pay every attention to the outer soul; cultivate it and relate it harmoniously, if superficially, with others, or it will fret and work in troublesome counteraction. The great kick is within though, where gestation abides, and the quieter you keep that the better. . . .
Blackberries? Aye! picked nine quarts yesterday up Glenshuggyl-'me and mee daughter Dora'and betwix' Ballaugh Glen and Sulby Glen, aback of Ballacubragh on the mountains, springy heather and goss to tickle ye as ye 'stramp ' along. Oh the joy of it ! But what's the gud o' talkin' ? ,F
September 28, 1895.
The Burroughs is charming. I have not yet come to your favourite, but all is very good.
What a boom of sunshine! It is quite glorious. The air full of gold-dust and calm! no distant views, of course; no Scawfell eastward, no Slieve Donard westward: but some ten miles diameter of a bell-like purity.
I have been up Snaefell by the electric tram. I started from Laxey late, hoping to surprise a sunset. You need not mention it but I was the only passenger! The world was all steel-grey, rigid, immovable, just an outline, no body or substance, severely neutral colour, if you could call it colour. But it was rather grand. Pure form can do that.
Granite is the great thing about Slieve Donard. It is a noble mountain accent. (Please not ASCENT.) But it was horrible your losing the brooch.... And now Slieve Donard holds that secret, and I shall always think of it whenever I see the cruel peak go up from the horizon.
Your tobacco (yours or D.'s or both's) has lasted me till now. And behold! I am leaving off tobacco for a while, possibly for good. My success with the beard-cutting has given me an appetite for enterprise and experiment.
It is perfectly refreshing to hear of your fresh cuts into the Waverley cake. Curiously enough I have lately met with people a great deal older than you who have lots of Scott yet to read.
The Fortunes of Nigel, for instance. Fancy having that before one still! Fancy dying without having read it! ' going into the presence of your maker' and being compelled to such a confession! You can't do better than preoccupy your M. with these wholesome and delicious things. The present taste is, probably, a mere craze, and will be transient. When she grows up, the swinish crew will have grunted their way down a very steep place, and she will be in the possession of the imperishable, or, rather, it will be in possession of her. God grant that this may be so! A bad look-out for the twentieth century, if we are to go on at this rate. But the nineteenth has produced magnificent fruit, and I am certain that it will never be lost to the world.
Comber is a place to think of!
seems very happy. . . . A little explosive, though. More perfect serenity would indicate a deeper current of joy. Yet do I really prefer serenity ? Perhaps not : but I value it in others, and am inclined to congratulate them on the possession. The serenity of mere placid ben:lean 1 is not what I have in mind: but the serenity that comes of struggle finished, the equilibrium of great contending forces, victory achieved over self. Yet we are such fluid' critturs, easily disturbed. And who would care to stiffen his innards into iron girders? The rennet is yet to be found that will reduce us to consistency and a ' shape'!
I will shut myself up here and compel some of you to cross over and see whether I am yet alive. You have already promised. And next April is the time, and I shall issue orders to the primroses and other liege subjects to prepare the ways for your approach. The ' felon winds,' too, I must confine, and arrange that balmy gales shall waft you Mona-wards. . . .
1 Manx for elementary junket-curds and whey.
October 3, 1895.
After all, when I next go to Ireland, I shall go straight to Ballycastle, and I shall lay siege to Fair Head-a leaguer of say a fortnight; and ' belave me if ye can!' I shall not go near the Causeway. There now! I wish to emphasize that. The dreadful scientific suggestions which underlie the ' phenomenon,' lusus naturae, monstrum horrendum, or whatever we agree to call it, will be quite enough to make me give it a wide berth. And, positively, it has no pretensions whatever to a comparison with the Pulchrum Pro montorauyn, qua pulchrum. I shall some day sing the glories of that supreme elevation-you'll see, lave me alone
Now here is a strange story. What d'ye think? Having mastered the beard, I have gone on, not exactly to perfection, but to the disuse of tobacco. Follow your leader! 'Come, if you dare!' I am on an eminence of ecstatic morality, a pinnacle of the temple. Sir, I challenge you, over and up! The stylite position I maintain not without occasional lapsus. What would you have? Yesterday, for instance, I will admit that, Quine inter pellante, I slipt down a foot or two. He had come to see me about his book, and a tantalizing communication he had had from Bentley. Of course there was no choice, and we smoked hard, shaping the fumes into forms of conjecture and consolation. The day before, too, I regret to say that my other literary alumnus, Mr. Rydings of Laxey, had been with me; and he also needed comfort and the divinations of the 'cloudy pillar' which in this Sinaitic solitude is granted to perplexed pilgrims! So that was a pity, was it not? But I am very resolute, and have already recovered the topmost plinth, nay, am prepared to pelt you from my vantage (you know your Mat.', does he say anything of St. Simeon making reprisals upon the mob below?) with such fragments as I may, I, the beard-queller.
RAMSEY, October 4, 1895.
Ars Poetica 99. W.'s difficulty illustrates the danger of reading a modern controversy into Horace. There is no question here of Morah'ty in Art. It is not enough for a poem to be beautiful, it must also be dulce. What he means by dulce is shown by the context si curat (tetigisse). I would not go so far, as with you, to include hope or comfort in the con notation. Perhaps pathos is enough.
I agree with W. in regarding Horace's criticism here as elementary, though not precisely as he paraphrases it. He would like to coax Horace out into the modern field-bribe him by indicating its large ness, its depth, its moral importance. No go! The little man stares civilly, and passes on. If he says anything, it is ' my dear young friend, you take me too seriously. I preach with your George Eliot, your Richardson, your Thackeray ! Di meh'us ! But if some of us went after him and explained, I dare say we should find him rather strong on that word moral. He would very likely declare the word, as we use it, a clumsy and ambiguous one. In fact, with Horace, the modern controversy does not emerge. The word lttaptiv is the very centre of it. To Horace as critic, human actions and passions would not appear as utapå, or the opposite; to Horace asj~~tdex (juryman, what you like) the distinction would be very clearly present. To us moderns, that distinction absorbs almost everything. That is, I suppose, because we are jurymen, not critics.
In reading Horace I should be inclined not to twist him into modernity. He is no prophet, but the genius of common sense. That is always in season.
The beloved Wordsworth and poetic diction. In a thousand sweet and noble lines he neglects his unfortunate theories. In The Excursiõn it is almost laughable; but we are the gainers. So let us say nothing, except some goose hisses and gives Wordsworth for his authority. Poetic diction is now raised beyond all possibility of attack.
Here is a sonnet I wrote the other day (a tolerably lax one !) :
Sonnet sent to Hugh Arnold Stowell, second son of Ernest Stowell, Esq., of the Grammar School, Carlisle, to whom the author became godfather on the occasion of his christening at Ramsey, Isle of Man, being compelled to do so by proxy in consequence of an engagement to travel in Ireland with his friend, Sidney T. Irwin, Esq., author of &c. , &c. , with a silver spoon in handsome velvet case. The author may here add ... the whole genealogy of the Stowell Brown family.
A gift, Hugh Arnold, from an aged man
No stranger is he, with whose blood
Was mixed your own well, later than the Flood,
If not B. c., at least atavian,
As figured in th' High-Bailiff's' laboured plan
Heraldic, genealogical, O Lud !
How fair the flower will be from such a bud,
Dear child, whose future we so proudly scan
Brown, Stowell, what omens wait upon the names
We know not, nor the Gallic 2 confluence
We know, to ortho- or to auto-doxy
How urged, if straight or devious, intense,
Or, haply, lost amid the Keltic dhrames
That soothed your loving godfather by proxy. T. E. B.
1 A slip? or is it my ignorance?
2 Hugh Arnold's grandfather, P. C. La Mothe, Esq., High Bailiff of Ramsey, who has recently compiled a pedigree of his family.T.E.B.
3 Mrs. Ernest Stowell, nee La Mothe, of French origin therefore.T.E.B.
RAMSEY, October 6, 1895.
Can you help me ? I am puzzled about Quarles. I have two editions, (1) 1736, illustrators not named; (a) 1861, illustrators, C. Bennet and W. H. Rogers. No. 2 is an edition de luxe, but the illustrations are very different from those in No. 1. It surely was not allowable to change them so. What I want to know is how long the illustrations remained fixed. The Emblems were first published in 1635. Cuts by Marshall and Simpson. In 1696 Gillyflower's edition is mentioned in Lowndes as having ' all the cuts newly illustrated.' Was this the beginning of divergence? Also, how about the Emblems of Hermann Hugo? Many of Quarles' are said to have been borrowed from Hugo. Were the cuts borrowed as well? Please consult George, and Rowley.
Sure it's not for nothing that Rowley',
Hibernice's rhyming with /3ovXj;
And a ray from the Georgaum sidus2
Might be haply forthcoming to guide us!
Ste. Beuve has three delightful causerics on Cowper. Do you know them? He gives several bits translated into French.
Dans un chemin mystërieux L'Esprit de Dieu voyage
Sur les flots, dans fombre des cieux, Tout voile par forage.
Do you recognize? This is by Madam Langlais. Much better, however, are Ste. Beuve's own translations in prose: 'La Rose avait ëtë mouillëe, å 1'instant mëme mouillëe par la pluie, cette Rose que Marie allait offrir å Anna,' &c.
Tes aiguilles, toute une collection brillante, Infatigable jusqu'å prësent pour moi, maintenant Se rouillent inutiles et ne brillent plus,
'Les visites de nuit que to faisais dans ma chambre pour savoir si j'ëtais sain et sauf et chaudement couchë ; tes largesses de matin "avant le dëpart pour 1'ëcole, le biscuit ou la prune confite ; 1'eau odorante que to main prodiguait å, mes joues,' &c. And best of all ' Arrëte, Gilpin ; to voilå arrivë ! lui crie-t-elle tout d'une haleine ; le diner attend, et nous sommes fatiguës ! '-'Et moi aussi ! ' dit Gilpin.
I think Ste. Beuve understood Cowper marvellously. But you must be cussin.
1 William George's Sons,' the well-known Bristol booksellers.
1 Professor Rowley, of University College, Bristol, is here rhymed ' out of his name.
RAMSEY, October 13, 1895.
Didn't we talk about Fitzgerald's Letters when we were in Ireland? It appears that I only knew the series to Mrs. Kemble, now being published in Temple Bar. . . . The letters to Mrs. Kemble are delicious. They are full of the Crabbe-shall we call it Craze? I am certain I told you about that.
I would strongly advise you to read everything Fitzgerald has said about the beloved old crustacean. By-the-by, do you think of him as Crabbe fish or Crabbe apple ? There is an 71Bos in Fitzgerald's letters which is so exquisitely idyllic as to be almost heavenly. He takes you with him, exactly accommodating his pace to yours, walks through meadows so tranquil, and yet abounding in the most delicate surprises. And these surprises seem so familiar, just as if they had originated with yourself. What delicious blending! What a perfect interweft of thought and diction! What a sweet companion!
And some of this sapor you find-. No, no! I love him, and there must be some sympathy; but the ethic grace-ah, Irwin ! There he is supreme, and better men than I may well uncover before this mystery of godliness.' I have no other name for it.
The lovely perturbatio of the dear old scholar as regards S.'s treatment of Crabbe, the depth of an indignation which moves his gentle soul to something like a holy ferocity; yet the respect, the forbearance, the quiet questioning of his own claims in the presence of those which he recognizes in the ability and acumen of the younger critic -. Oh, it is nectar! I do love him; yes, more even than Crabbe. It seems so deep in him. I hardly think he could give the reasons for the impatience he feels, the divine impatience. There, I confess I stand by his side; and I would counsel every one who undertakes Crabbe as a subject to pause and give all possible weight to the condition which has been induced in so fine a nature by what must have been felt by him to be the inadequacy-he would not say, and I would not say-the impertinence, the flippancy of S.
Look at him, he is speechless; but his eye flashes, his bosom heaves, his whole being protests, and we must take into account the fact, the UaNats. He stands before the shrine, stands, perhaps, for ever silent, mutely demanding your credentials. Where's your oav,-,3oXov? Search in your pocket, search in your heart.
It is very hard to make out where we differ about Horace and the gliding into the modern groove.
Probably we do not differ. I merely object to the slightest modern qualification of morata. Horace would never have imagined that a fabula ought to set forth the triumph of right over wrong, or any copy-head commonplace of the modern Christian moralist, who is essentially a preacher. Enough for Horace if the mores were consistent, however abominable. And poems
Presenting Thebes or Pelops' line,
Or the fall of Troy divine, could hardly fail to suggest the sinful and the base.
Or what (though rare) of later age
Ennobled hath the buskin'd stage.
Imagine him reading Othello, or, for the matter of that, Aristophanes, whom of course he did read, with disapprobation? Surely not. But undoubtedly we are groping about and conjuring up differences.
Your account of the silver-wedding is like a fairy tale, X. the benevolent fairy l How you must have enjoyed it!
RAMSEY, October 20, 1895.
Ever welcome! Very welcome this sweet October day. The sun is all molten down upon us, and yet there is no sunshine. So like the time we rambled on the hills here. You remember the conjectured ghosts of hills, and the brooding, and the steeping, and the softness, and the embrace, and voices as in dreams, and the general atmosphere of cows and halcyons ?
I have been in Ireland, I think you know. It was very good, and I shall go again. Ballycastle and Fair Head were delicious. The two tarns on the Head, high up. There they are on the flat. From the sea face, perpendicular, this must be the effect.
That V-shaped break is the thing. Sit just there and look down. There is something beyond measure pathetic in the evOava6ia of that little stream. Only a few yards, and it is born to die, and dies so gloriously, yet so quietly. Rathlin too is just opposite. I believe they get their letters by pigeon-post. Oh for the wings of a dove
Your telepathy-well, by conscious effort, and by setting fixed times and cultivating the habit, Heaven knows what might be done. But our poor machinery of pen and ink and paper has its merit. So do let us 'use the manes'! What are you writing, saying, thinking? That we are contemporaries is not without its solace. Two molluscs are like that: but I believe most of them have tentacula, and reach with some sort of yearning. That native nisus of limpet clinging to the rock barely suffices them, except they be of the most primitive order, holding on by suction to an area exactly limited to their size and shape. I confess there is a good deal of that about me. Solidarity with this globe, daedal or not daedal, makes me happy enough. But I fear the happiness is just a bit selfish, and if it had sufficed me I should never have gone to Ireland, nor should I have felt the other day a mysterious stirring within me when I read upon a poster : 'To London and back for 19s. 6d.!!' I was all but off, and that would have landed me at Haslemere !
I lectured at Laxey last Thursday, the audience very attentive and sympathetic. Leader of the claque was a dear little fiery Scotchman, such an enthusiast, all dripping with Keltic frenzy like a dog just emerged from a pool, and shaking himself in a halo of rapture. These chaps' souls are made of volcanic spray. He was at the Burns dinner in Douglas, where I spoke last January. He won't believe that I'm not Scotch. It seems they reproduced my address in a Dumfries paper. So, in that part of Scotland at any rate, I am adopted of the perfervidum genus, and I shall claim the civitas some day. Galloway is Scotch enough, is it not? My forbears came from Jedburgh, and the great Waverley country draws me forcibly. But, glorious as it is, it is so terribly overlaid by cockney ordures that I am fain to take refuge in the Wast. It is so far away from everything and everybody, and my dear ' Old John' came from there.
A sort of apologia pro vita mea, pro poematibus, historiis, nugis, i2cis, was the subject of my discourse. ' Makin' fun of the Manx'-that is the charge. Satire, lampoon, caricature-I went in for the whole bilin', bless ye ! a regular scientific analysis of the Momus business. And then I read them one of Rydings' stories. What I wanted, in fact, was to justify the excellent R. rather than myself. You have not seen his Manx stories ? I must send you a copy. He is a Lancashire man, and having lived here some thirty years, is ' Manxer till the Manx,' really a miracle of dialectic assimilation. He is a friend of Ruskin's ; has charge of St. George's mill at Laxey, under the St. George's Guild, and the sanction of the great J. R.
Ruskin was primarily interested in our mountain handloom weavers. But he started this mill, a powerloom concern. Obviously it has no tendency to encourage, but rather to kill off, the poor old things with their primitive domestic industry. To a certain extent it may promote the spinning by the farmers' wives of their own wool; the spinning-wheel, observe, not the handloom. And indeed spinning-wheels are getting rare.
Still there are a few of the old weavers lingering about in the most unexpected places. A whole family of them in a very out-of-the-way part of Kirk Andreas. Fred. La Mothe, formerly the curate there, introduced me.
There survived the mother and one son. The father and two other sons had died of consumption; they had all been weavers, hereditary weavers. One poor lad is left. In the little weaving place are two seats at the Ueberftufjl, worn and polished and hollowed by long use. He pointed to the other seat, and said he was now alone. A handsome youth, not more than twenty-three, and visibly signed with the same seal-the crimson hectic flush, the bright but not unearthly eyes, the automatic smile. Such a gentle, sweet creature! He has no thought of death. How is it kept from them? The mother thinks of it, though. Tall, stately, with the remains of peerless beauty, she knew all about it.
Her love for her son was only equalled by her love for F., and a lovable creature he is. It was more than love, it was worship, as she clung to his hand (Ëv S' åpa of Øv" Xapt) and devoured him with insatiable eyes. Tremendous ! to have won that love, to have won it by simple kindness and humanity.
Indeed, music is here my greatest lack, though the Manx are a musical people. I fear I am sophisti cate. England has done that. Of dormice, it must needs be that some are just beginning their hibernation. I have not forgotten.
In the next New Review I believe you will see my 'Job the White.' You remember, I always had that thing running in my brain. I wonder how you'll like it. Tell me! I wrote it about this time last year. The 'Roman Women' appeared in the same Review some time in summer. I have got some KROS for it, otherwise I do little. I am become a great contributor of occasional verses, on bazaars !
On October 31 I open a bazaar in Douglas!! This fairly takes my breath away! Do you see me? However, my beard has gone, so I'm all right.
I will tell you in my next letter about another weaver and his wife, a most splendid discovery. Please remember me most kindly to my Godson when you write to him next. I have a new Godson (proxy). I sent him a sonnet and a spoon the other day.
Now best love to Maggie and all who love me.
November 1, 1895.
I return you your Big School 1. You aim at your hearers, manifestly desiring to reach them. Don't you think that makes a great difference? To be thinking about oneself and the Sõ6a is one thing, to be thinking about one's hearers and how to get at them is another. Of course it is not enough to hammer at their understandings. I suppose that gives 'clarity.' We must also give pleasure; no 7rEtOai without Oov?j. And the y/õou4 reflects upon ourselves. But the faintest smirk of self-satisfaction alienates the hearer. How I stand, how I appear, how clever I am, how awfully cute, how preternaturally witty-these things must be relegated to the innermost adytum of consciousness. I don't believe for a moment we can get rid of them, ' absolutely' expunge them. If we could, the concio would be such a happy function, no effort, all grace, free movement, and charm.
I only wish the local colour was not so unmistakable as to render the essay unsuitable for general reading. This can't be helped. Of course, it arises from that very quality of directness, singleness of aim, oneness of desire, which I welcome with delight. Addresses of this kind will not do anywhere else; oddly enough, when you think of it, not for other schools. The young demons are such monopolists, shall I say, Epicures ? They want the very best, and they will have nothing else. You furnish a table at which all mankind might sit as well as they, but they will tolerate no commensals. It is a fearful waste as regards both quantity and quality. But there is no help for it. These dreadful young persons do not really eat one-half of what is laid before them ; but they will not let it go forth to serve a second table. Well, I don't complain, nor, I imagine, do you. They are the yEVECrts as well as the TEXos ; they create the situation, and unconsciously stimulate your energy. But such Persic apparatus ! 1 the young barbarians'
This is disturbing about Greek, ' set' Yes, you would fill the school to overflowing, of course you would, as long as other places did not abandon the old lines. But it would be detestable treachery to the cause of education, of humanity. To me the learning of any blessed thing is a matter of little Moment. Greek is not learned by nineteentwentieths of our Public School boys. But it is a baptism into a cult, a faith, not more irrational than other faiths or cults; the baptism of a regeneration which releases us from I know not what original sin. And if a man does not see that, he is a fool, such a fool that I shouldn't wonder if he gravely asked me to explain what I mean by original sin in such a connexion.
1 An address given in the ' Big School,' Clifton College.
1 The question raised was whether Greek should be outside the ordinary Form-routine-taught in sets' and not as a Form-subject.
RAMSEY, November 10, 1895.
The one thing' I did indeed please. Also one wishes one had discovered it oneself-that is a very exquisite form of envy ! !
In the quotation
And thinks, committed to that equal sky, His faithful dog shall bear him company, how delicious is the 'equal'! Of which the pathos is purely literary, not moral. And what is the exact ground of the pathos ? Is it not the consciousness that by using this classical form of speech we tread in sacred footsteps, that all the ages are one, ' linked each to each by natural piety,' that it appeals to scholars like a masonic symbol, reminding us that we are a brotherhood: yes, more than masonic, a true oparpta. I dare not press into theological precincts; but infinitely remote as are the two spheres from each other, why should we refuse to perceive an analogy q.d., 'one in Horace,' one in Homer,' &c. = 'one in Christ'? I assure you that the sweetness of the thought as it emerges in the classical field helps me a good deal to understand the depth and sincerity of what might, otherwise, be to me a vacuous languor as it stands in the theological field, and is associated with the term, ' Oneness in Christ.'
Well, then, if this be so, who shall rob us of so noble a joy? and what class of men are to be denied it? The Humanities-precisely, there you are. Oh, do give people a chance! Be it by adopting the method recommended by a 'Gentleman of Bristol i,' teach better, and cut down the subjects. The gross fallacy of 'useful subjects' must be exploded as a horror.
I have not had any reply to my last letter to Z. Very likely I have offended him, and I did it maliciously and with subtlety. What ' bein's' we are ! I'm thinking of myself, not him. Why should I deliberately aim at hurting him? and he is so perfect a friend. I suppose every man likes to scratch and bite once in a way. But it is childish, and you don't know what harm you may be doing. Nor does it avail to plead, ' It was so clever; I thought, after all, he'd be pleased.' Nonsense! No man is pleased at the protruded nail; the mere gesture is an ugly one, and the entrance into your flesh is certainly painful, and may be insulting. So I school myself, but find it hard to practise my own rules. In all things I am my own most incorrigible pupil.
l An adaptation of the quotation that follows.
1 In an eighteenth century pamphlet I had told him of.
RAMSEY, November 22, 1895.
I am so glad you like the books.
The snake Hydra, some people say, had seven heads, some say it had nine, some fifty, some a hundred; so that's a pretty kettle of fish, or, at least, of snake, that is Hydra or water-snake
The two-headed dog that guarded Geryon's cows was called Orthrus, that is upright, because he always stood upright, and kept his four eyes upon the cows.
That is quite right about Ariadne. The wine-god married her, took her up to heaven, and placed the crown he gave her at the wedding among the stars. A very pretty story too. It is now a beautiful bright star, and you can see it on a fine night as bright and as beautiful as ever. Think of that now! Hercules had twelve labours, or tasks to do. But he had anotherwhich is not generally mentioned. Being a great traveller, he once came to the Isle of Man, and, wandering up Glen Roy, he met a big cat, and had a fight with him. They fought near St. Patrick's Well. The cat was what is called a Bull-cat, and had an enormous and very strong tail. This tail he twisted round and round poor Hercules, and they rolled together right down into the river. There He drew his sword, and cut off the cat's tail, and all the young ones of this cat are still without tails! Wonderful, is it not? Music and drawing are very delightful; but sums and spelling are useful. Don't neglect them. And your nice letter is so well written and spelt that I hardly think you do.
Remember me very kindly to your father and mother.
RAMSEY, November 27, 1895.
I grow old naturally, comfortably, easily, and with assent and consent. Very well. It is the strugglers, the rebels, he miserables who can do nothing generously, that spoil themselves, throwing away a lot of vital energy in sulks, and starts, and recalcitrations. Am I wrong in this bona fides of living, tearing no passion to rags, kicking against no bars? I have seen bars looming occasionally, but I treat them as atmospheric effects. And that may, perhaps, be the reason why I have not read Balfour's book, and, indeed, give all such books a wide berth. These matters I defer to larger, or, it may be, narrower fields; in short, practically, to the Greek Kalends. I have no taste for them, and recognize no responsibility. . . .
Kindest love to you all from us all.
RAMSEY, November 23, 1895.
The most fastidious Antiochian might feel for me in my endeavours to carry out his aesthetic requirements. Unfortunately no use or wont will ever reconcile me to my fate, and every morning I am in doubt whether to apply the razor to my beard or my weazand. It is an awful tyranny; you exercise it unconsciously; otherwise, God forgive you
You ask me for my sonnet on the Governor's departure. I think I can remember it, though I have no copy. The printer left out a line (! ), and consequently I had for a while to submit to the imputation of having written a thirteen-lined sonnet which would have been worse than my other sufficiently perilous flights in the sonnet direction. Verily I am unfortunate with the forma astrictisszma. Better take to ballads and be done with it! well, here goes :
Sonnet on the occasion of Sir Jos. West Ridgeway's being transferred from the government of the Isle of Man to that of Ceylon, and identifying his last public appearance with the distribution of prizes to the Local Volunteer Company, the proceedings forming a conspicuous feature of the Bazaar held in Douglas on behalf of the New St. Matthew's Church Building Fund, October 29-31 ; of which days the last was distinguished by this interesting ceremonial, and the Bazaar was opened by the Rev. T. E. Brown (the author).' [I flatter myself ' old Wordsworth' is not in it. In it? well, yes, but only by way of quotation in the sonnet] :
A stainless sword, Ceylon, we give to thee,
jewelled with gems as precious as thine own,
Faith, wisdom, loyalty, to guard the throne
Of her who I holds the gorgeous East in fee,'
But well content to rule the strong and free.
Such Mona's sons. To us it was a loan
Short-dated, soon reclaimed.
Two years have flown,
And the fine lustre flashes.
What are we ? Soldier and statesman, soldier-citizens
Surround you still, and at your hands receive
The merited guerdon.
Hear the People's voice,
Far-echoing from the mountains and the glens;
God speed you, Ridgeway, for, albeit we grieve,
Yet for the Empire's sake we will rejoice.
Is it stately enough ? ceremonious ? 'poetic diction'? All right?
December 8, 1895.
My stiles will soon facilitate the cliff ramble from Peel to Glen May. I have had an estimate and given the order. Peel will have to enroll me as a benefactor to the town, perhaps as a deus semital2's, erecting to me a statue as among her Ëvõbtot.
I wish I could send you some sense. Here is my father's hymn: before rejecting it, would you mind your cousin and your sister and your old servant seeing it ? It is not without faults, but the intention throughout is classical. You know how hard it was to suppress that in the Evangelical exercises, the dear old fiatres :
Clouds unnumbered hues displaying
Skirt no more the western sky;
Pensive twilight, long delaying,
Now at length eludes the eye.
Silence that of Death resembling
Reigns all o'er the scene around,
Save where wind-swept woods are trembling,
Save where Ocean's waves rebound.
Thanks to Thee for every blessing,
Thee to whom the hosts above
Songs of praise are still addressing,
Fount of Goodness, God of Love!
Should we be by Death o'ertaken
Ere the morn dispels the shade,
Gladly be this world forsaken,
Gladly be Thy call obeyed.
By celestial guards attended,
May we seek Thy glorious throne,
Dwell where Day is never ended,
Live where Night is never known.
I dare say I have sent the verses to you before. If so, pardon the officious piety. Just now I feel these things and thoughts pressing closely on me. You too no doubt have some of these ' Father' days. They are inexpressibly sweet, but the vagueness of our modern beliefs makes them yearn out into a vortiginous emptiness. Sick at heart! sick at heart!
RAMSEY, December 9, 1895.
I cannot give up Nigel to you. So much depends on what sort of novel you like. For instance, many people don't care for the historical novel. I am not over-spooney on them myself. But I am, historically, interested in James I, and I take Scott's portrait of him to be a masterpiece. Then, historically again, the Sanctuary, and the rights of sanctuary, at Westminster-the bullies and bravos of ' Alsatia 'what a picture of social or, rather, anti-social conditions, of London life before the Civil War! No one to love, to like, to respect-quite true. But do you want that in a novel? We want men to be alive and kicking: we can do with a lot of kicking, and, if the kicking is against the I pricks' of the Decalogue, what for no? I don't read a novel for edification.
The Talisman-that's odd. It is the first ' Waverley' I ever read, and, if for that reason alone, must always be dear. Stronger lights and richer. colours have been at work since, but they have not removed the delightful impression. Every one who cares about what men can be and do will love some sort of Cceur-de-Lion or another. And Sir Walter has done him to perfection. It does not matter about historical accuracy. I I thought that that was what you attached importance to,' I think I hear you say. Well, no! but what I value is the power to set up a character, give it prominence, strength, and point. Then go at it, all you young-uns ! Knock it about! Use it as a football, if you like. Henceforth Ceeur-de-Lion is a creature, a big creature, and you'll not ignore him. Sir Walter has made mistakes: yes, but there is no mistake about this, and he has opened your mind, and given you the historical impulse! Now, go a-head !
I have read Burroughs with great satisfaction. The man is a genuine naturalist, with a sweet and wholesome enthusiasm, and no bad style. I have to thank you for a great treat. I suppose one needs a bit of a change from the blessed old White. But was there ever a sincerer man, or one who, considering his love for the marvellous, held closer to the truth ? Nothing could induce him to exaggerate; even his style is free from the faintest tinge of pretentiousness. The grand honest old soul! Naturalists, good ones, are great favourites of mine. Waterton, you might imagine, liked a pull at the long bow, but we are told he was all right, and that his stories are not the less true for being so amusing. Certainly his style is a very suitable one, quaint and racy.
And to all these things your M. is now coming on. Her talent for drawing will stand her in good stead. If she is fond of Natural History, what a field she has before her ! The beasts and the birds alone will be splendid subjects. Let her draw them (in colours, if you approve, it bribes the beginner at any rate) at first from books, but afterwards, and not so very long afterwards, from Nature. The Zoological Gardens would, in this way, become a charming studio.
As children, my brother Harry and I illustrated history at a great rate. We hung the walls of our bedroom with these pictures, Greek, Roman, English history. They would have been better for some lessons in drawing (freehand or other), and also for some special instruction in anatomy and the figure. But they did really impress upon us history in a wonderful degree. I remember your grandfather being brought into the room to see these productions. He was a very reserved person, I believe you know. He said nothing, that is, to us. Mothers are more outspoken. How much we owe to ours! When we left the Vicarage, I was away at school. Very likely, if I had been at home, I should have done nothing to save these triumphs of art! At that time of life one does not think of these things and of their possible future value to the family circle, sufficiently busied about its own contemporary history and provisions for ordinary daily wants. There was mighty tearing up, pulling down, and burning. Your father was by universal consent appointed to this function, and I am bound to say he discharged it with great thoroughness and impartiality. I still see the holocaust in the back garden flaming up to heaven, and our brave Hugh, loaded with MSS. and God knows what, logically proceeding to the grim end
This youthful inquisitor was then just twenty-three! Can you picture him ? Ah the glorious twenty-three But I must not dwell on that. Within the year the house was pulled down, and that I think is when our historical gallery, like Shakespeare's 'golden lads and lasses,' 'came to dust.' When you come in the spring we must devote a day to Kirk Braddan. I want you to realize how much of your father came from that spot, that life, almost unconsciously to himself. I believe I could have done that part of the biography better than either biographist or autobiographist. I may yet return to it somewhere. But you come and have a look and a dream. These things want a bit of dreaming. Without some such preliminary, you don't get the atmosphere, and your crags of fact stand up in a gaunt nakedness which implies exaggeration. I don't want to substitute a dream for a series of facts. Let us handle them carefully, scrupulously. But I demand the preliminary dream, which is a kind of vital intoxication, a rapture, if you like. And to get it, you must come to Braddan. I could help you there, no doubt; but I positively think you had better be alone, taking with you some brief directions, notes, what-not, from me. At any rate, if I go, we two must go alone. You can easily explain this to your companions. They will understand. You see the pilgrimage will be, and ought to be, and can be, a sacramental function between you and me. And when I say 'it can be,' what I mean is that when we walked in Co. Down the other day, I saw that for a certainty you were capable of these sacramental silences, and can drink them in, few words being spoken. Love to M.
RAMSEY, December 15, 1895.
You excellent man! From the hurly-burly to send such a letter, so cheering. Dear old Noah ' flew a pigeon ' from the Ark. I dare say he suffered rather from distractions (all the critters, we may suppose, were not well-behaved) ; but from such a veritable Gehenna as 'Examination' to dispatch a messenger with the feathers unsinged was a record. Have you seen Mat. Arnold's Letters ? I hear of a Penny Mat. Arnold published by Stead (! !). Is that possible ? And to be followed by a Penny Clough ! Did you ever? Is he publishing them in penny numbers? the whole to cost a lot? Or, positively, can we have Mat.--the whole unmutilated Mat.-for a penny? And by STEAD? Wonders will never cease. Fancy Mat., from that fair heaven which now holds his dainty ghost, stooping to sniff at this rcvivr~ ! snot-sniff is ambiguous, is it not? It is to be observed that men like Mat. have an odd way of generating bastards. On some raid into Philistia he must have captured a Dalilah and taken her to his tent. And this is characteristic of our time; the frontiers get blurred, our choicest and best, whose very defects, if they be defects, we might have imagined would save them from such unions, are occasionally to be seen surrounded by hangers-on, who are absolutely unworthy. What is it? Some kindly looseness in the great man ? or merely impudence in the small one? However this may be, I never can get a clear view of a modern writer, especially an eminent one, by reason of the admirers and imitators who are his own spurious offspring. What a nimbus for a celebrity! The old men are full-orbed, serene, 'fixed in their everlasting seats.' Now that is surely a glorious thing. There they are, the Classics. No one dreams of associating them with the feculent vulgar. No doubt we may impute a good deal of this ragamuffin salvage to the I spread of education,' to the smug conviction which every man seems to cherish that he is in the secret, or that there is no secret. And the pestilent error is encouraged by the reduction of genius to I the infinite capacity of taking pains,' by the insane idea that you can teach the 'trick,' that literature is a trade, a kapelistic art, that 'the all is in us all,' that there is no intellectual hierarchy, that the venerable Poeta nascitur non fit is venerable bosh-and a thousand and one heresies of the same ' mak.' Hence it comes to pass that even a evCa)vos like Mat. gets swaddled and swathed with these terrible integuments, the fine Greek limbs of him impeded by Barbarian braccae. Still one has the consolation of thinking that he must be amused when he beholds waving a censer in his temple such a high-priest as Stead-amused-yes, and note the shrinking nostril, how it curves
Almost thou persuadest me to be an examinerI find myself gliding quite obviously into the mood'. I am prepared to dive into question (i), and reappear with the pearl, 'The moral of The Princess.' It does not, however, lie at a specially unsoundable depth. More to my taste, and wholly magnificent, is question (9) 2. This is a draught de longue halesne. Here I don't want to be the examiner, but the examined. The question gives one such a shove, sends one over such fields. Is one a bee? Ah, the flowers! the flowers! Couldn't I do that question ? You trust me with it ? it is a great compliment : I suck the honey afar of N.B. Confusion, not 'worse confounded,' but still a nuisance: forgive!
The little hymn I sent you produced exactly the effect I had anticipated. To feel it, one has to go back, and place it in its period. I know it is a period you love. There is just this additional consideration. 'A paper on The Princess which I had sent him.
2 ' What should you say was the secret of success in the two great songs, "I Blow, bugle, blow," II Tears, idle tears "? Has any success of the same kind been achieved by other English poets?'
One has to remember how absolutely sound was the bona fides of these men. They were without selfconsciousness, stretched back, in all guileless simplicity, to their models, and were proudly, sedately humble. We are so different. We have the artperception, we catch flavours, and roll them on our tongues. And we are quite right; it is an enjoyment which they could not have had. But we have yet another opportunity, that of sympathizing with them in their very incompleteness, the Spartan tenuity of their a-oparatus criticus, the loyalty to what they were accustomed to regard as excellent, the unquestioning, childlike reverence for authority in literature: behind all which we may conjecture potentially, latent but unmistakable, a contemptuous impatience of new-fangled ways, and unprecedented metres. I wonder what they thought: and with this wonder I cease: I may wonder.
If melancholy sometimes creeps into my letters, pray do not imagine that I am melancholy. Melancholy is the overflow of everything, but, with me, only an overflow, not, however, of melancholy. You have heard of harmonics in music. Well, such are my melancholies. Strike any note, and listen attentively ; you will hear the harmonic. It is part of ourselves-' the electric chain wherewith we're darkly bound'? Nonsense! Very good Byron, but very poor philosophy.
Now get to work at those papers.
Before I write again you will have got through all your ' throubles.' Even so! Amen.
RAMSEY, December 17,1895.
Keep this letter till the hurly-burly is over. It is important. Don't answer immediately! You can't
B. and H. emigrate. They have thought of Canada. But the accounts are not encouraging.
The lads are quite determined to work like niggers. There's no mistake about that. They will turn up their noses at nothing, so far as the operation has not as yet been anticipated by nature.
It dies away-over the hills! over the hills! the battle has staggered and reeled, and there is now a vast silence: I will not interrupt it.
What a fool of a world it is! No room, sir, no room whatsoever.
When you are quite recovered, wounds healed, fractures joined, write me a long letter.
RAMSEY, December 23, 1895.
Yiss, maam, I'd be glad to jine the Book Club.
. . . Poor Mr. ! I was down with them all yesterday, ' taking the jooty 'and the lek o' yandhar. . . . I saw the broken leg: it's ' nicely bruck,' and in that ' slantin'' way that is most satisfactory for a good splice'-Dr. W. is in attendance-, Couldn be batthar.' . . . The children are so nice, so bright, and cheerful, and helpful. I told them they'd got ' somethin' worth nussin' now,' and you should have seen how happy they looked. M. and E. came home on Saturday. . . . That good soul had taken charge of them, given them tea and an enormous box of chocolates. And J. is good-min' yow that l . . .
' I b'liv' in mee sowl the man is good.' ' Aye,' says you, ' and jus because he gev the children the choco lates ! Men is funny ! ' . . .
Fancy four weeks in splints and four weeks in plaster of Paris H ! So they say; but, dear me heart! Surely four weeks altogether would do the healing job? But maybe it's like 's salvation 'Ye know ye navor know ye know.'
The attack in The Saturday was copied in The Couriër. We are a poor lot! I repeat it-We, Manx, a poor, poor lot. We have a sneaking delight in seeing dirt cast at those of whom we ought to be proud.
You comfort me much by kind words of sympathy. I hope you don't often find me in a melancholic mood. But now and then I dare say I'm rather like an old cat, ' slickin' meeself with mee own slaver.' You've seen the like ? You stroke them a bit, and they're pleased enough with that for a change. But on they go, slick, slick, slick, till the melancholy is gone, and behould ye ! they're out in the bushes after them blackbirds, ' as bowl' as bowl'.'