[From Letters of T. E. Brown, 1900]
RAMSEY, January 1, 1896.
Every good wish and every perfect wish for your happiness in 1896.
We passed into the new year very sweetly, a transition of the gentlest. 'Some natural tears' were shed, but that was only a rain-shower about midnight. My folk were returning from the ' Watch 'service in the church, and got rather wet-a not unkindly baptism.
I have had a letter from W. which I know you would like. ' The man's a man for a' that.' He had feared to find me ' a different Brown from the old Brown,' when he came over to visit me in August. The letter is a discourse on that text, and really a masterpiece, if there can be such a thing as a master piece of kindness and affection. He is an admirable guest, easy to be treated and entreated, loving and lovable, restful and acquiescent. The three days he had with us here were rubrics, and we thoroughly enjoyed them.
I have not seen the December Nineteenth Century, but I should hesitate to differ from Morley on the question of Gray's letters. Of course you are right in reserving the letters to West. I am unable to speak to the Byron letters. I suspect they would be found incommensurate with Cowper's, and am surprised that the comparison should have been instituted. The fineness of Cowper is a quality which could not be laid in the scale against the force of Byron.
RAMSEY, January 14, 1896.
I suppose you will be ready about April 15. Have you any special choice of route or locality? Almost all the country up there is equally well known to me.
I could sketch a week's or a fortnight's ramble approximately. Or shall we settle down in one place and pirouette (ah, pirouette! we two! a pencil! a pencil!) in leisurely fashion.
I wrote to X. about his trouble, and had a very brief, but touching reply. I know men who, passing through a sorrow like this, would pass through, and there an end. Of X. I think differently. He would not pass through it, nor would it pass through him. He would absorb it, and, absorbing, transmute it into untold sweetness-the dear old man, eupeptic in his very grief.
Sir, you don't take any notice of my 'Pastoral Care.' Two parishes (I have told you) depend on my vigilance; two congregations of 'hungry sheep look up and are not fed,' save with such orts as a very shabby divinity can supply. But, if they look up hungry, they look up kindly; I never saw such patient cheerful mortals. No doubt ' they're marching through Emmanuel's ground,' but some odds and ends of doctrinal turnips would not come in amiss. From me ' if aught of oaten stop or pastoral song' can obviate I the rank mist they draw,' well and good. But I fear me much my 'lean and flashy songs' have an air of the 'scrannel pipe.'
RAMSEY, January 28, 1896.
. . . The ' Burns' folk have confided to my care the toast of ' Our adopted country,' meaning, I take it, the Isle of Man.
This is a great compliment-a real patent of naturalization. Henceforth I wear the kilt and spleuchan. Don't talk to me! What will Mr. McCaa think? The spring begins to stir in my old veins-hurrah!
PS.-I dare say you know that I am at present hovering, like some shabby old 'Angel of the Covenant,' over the spirituals' of two parishes twenty-eight miles apart, Bride, and St. Matthew's, Douglas. It's very nice, ' though.'
RAMSEY, January 21, 1896.
By-the-bye I have just thought of a proof that Lord Byron pronounced the h in wh as I do, and not like you Southrons. 'Unhappy White, when life was in its spring,' &c. If he had not given the h its force, but pronounced wite, surely he must have felt he was colliding' with the archaic 'Unhappy wight.' Neat, I think, eh
I have picked up old Mozley from the vasty deep, or, rather, we were both poking about, and have fished up each other. He sent me a photograph of the ' Sugar-loaf.' But I dare say I have already mentioned this, and also the verses he wrote on the back of the picture. Did I ? At the risk of iteration here they are :
Immemorem to ne me credas illius horae,
Te duce quum stabam praeruptae vertice rupis,
Et convexa maris late prospeximus una.
I sent him in return one of the real ' Cowen' beauties, a bit of interior Manx, without a suggestion of the sea. Did I send you one? (Bridge, cottage, stream, humble sort of mountain in background.) And here is the inscription-a tetrastich-(For that elegance my heaviness. For his gold, my ) :
Tu mihi praecipitem quo cingitur insula murum
Nostra refers, tibi ego quae loca blanda latent
Intus-agros, fontes, iuga vix tendentia caelo,
Caetera quae fugiunt murmura rauca maris.
Idem Anglice Yedditum :
The girding cliff to view your picture brings,
Mine is an inland sketch of fount and lea,
And modest hills, and all the pleasant things
That shun the bluster of the roaring sea.
Trustrum, the landlord of the Port Erin Hotel (whom you will remember), sent me a beautiful Christmas card. I sent him the following, December 31, 1895:
George Trustrum, ere the day be done,
I send a word to you.
Pale primrose marked the rising sun,
The setting bids adieu
In roseate veil to all the fears
And all the hopes of bygone years.
And I look back to joys long fled
The boat, the yarn, the height
Of Bradda's crown; but you, instead,
Look forward with delight.
God bless you! may each sun that goes
Give you the primrose and the rose!
Sun that goes' is rather feeble. But-, 'however.'
I am quite ashamed of the stuff. ' Correct me, but not with judgment!'
RAMSEY, February 22, 1896.
About the MS.1, my honest opinion is that it is madness, which, indeed, it purports to be. I always approach this sort of thing with a strong prejudice. Tints and gleams of lurid splendour do not propitiate me, only irritate. The mere fact of the lunatic (supposed) having shaken off rhyme-shackles, to begin with, makes me uncomfortable. A Gadarene raving among the tombs-what's the good of it? Orpheus might have chanted it, but only after his
Gory visage down the stream was sent,
Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore.
Or it might have had for its author ' the rout that made the hideous roar.' It is hideous! Let your bard recover his reason, and we'll talk to him. The insanity flashes in Lear are glorious, but sustained E1Aeo-is of madness is, I think, abominable. Perhaps I am severe, and I admit that the rhapsody abounds in magnificent jets and sprays. Great throbs and spasms of a fine imagination are abundant and redundant therein. Why doesn't the man pull himself together? He could certainly write excellent verse if he liked. ' Clothed and in his right mind' he has the making of a brilliant style. As he is, anybody can do that sort of thing by merely letting himself go-down the swift Hebrus, or any other flood or cataract of nonsense.
This is a lovely book-the Sidney; mille gratias It has a very suggestive picture of Penshurst. That is an old dream of mine. I have such a longing to see the place, and dream one good long dream there. Hillard knows it and ministered some fuel to my passion. Could we not visit it together?
I am convinced that we might have an excellent time in the Home Counties some Easter Vacation. Milton's country, Gray's, Eton, Windsor, Burke's country, perhaps diverging into Cowper's. What think you? Not this Easter; we are to meet in ' the Lakes.' But say next year. It is rash, perhaps, to be speculating on a '97 or a '98. But such speculations are almost as delightful as the realities, and do no one any harm. I could write something which might supply the funds beforehand; and something more afterwards based upon our wanderings. I love to ponder on these things. Then might we not turn up at Haslemere for a grand bouquet to finish ?
These meetings in the wilds are very well; but to be where men have been before us, great men, good men, to subtend our excursus by an enlightened consciousness of res et personae-oh, how glorious! The res, and to some extent the personae, are preserved for us by the stability of a republic, which, after all, guarantees our tranquil possession of such treasures. How long they will last who shall say? Ought we not to avail ourselves of our opportunities ?
The other day I wrote to old George Marshall, one of my Christ Church tutors, now Rector of Milton, and had a beautiful letter in reply. Milton is in Berks., not, I imagine, connected with the name of the poet, but well within the divine precincts I have indicated. I should like to see him once more, and have a talk about Lucretius, to whom he first attracted me. These things also 'are profitable unto men.' Good-bye.
1 A poetical MS. submitted to him.
RAMSEY, February 24, 1896.
I don't know what is meant by K.M. after Max Müller's name. I have often met Max. In old times at Oxford I used to know him. Also, he came to Clifton occasionally. I liked him very much. He is a suggestive writer, and never bores one. He has strong groundwork and can be relied upon. Considering that he is so clear, it is astonishing how deep he goes. Perhaps I ought to put it the other way. At his depth it is remarkable he should be so clear...
I may be left before Christmas with Dora only. That will be rather solitary. However, I never am and never can be alone; so that's all right. My pastorate over two parishes still flourishes : but I shall soon have one, perhaps both, off my hands. It is not without interest: but I am rather longing for a 'Sunday-at-home' and no church to go to. There has been a ' mission' here. Do you know what that is? Good gracious!
RAMSEY, February 27, 1896.
If you begin Nick Ruby forthwith it would be well to watch yourself narrowly as you move along the edge of the lingua rustica. Your tendency, I imagine, is to avoid it or pass lightly over or by it. But by way of compensation, relief, or what not, you will at times go right into it head over ears with a splash. The astonished Bentley, or whoever it is, looks on and is perplexed, if not shocked.
1 Literary advice, especially as to Manx dialect.-J. Q.
RAMSEY, February 28, 1896.
Do you know Dryden's Eleonora ? Why is it praised so much? Surely it is strained and forced beyond all bearance. He had never seen the Countess, not even the Earl. Evidently it was a paid job, and, I should say, quite worthy of its origin. Of her alms-deeds
Had she giv'n more, it had profusion been,
And turned th' excess of goodness into sin.
Dryden all over, but not anything like his best. But there are fine things, witness
So softly death succeeded life in her,
She did but dream of heav'u, and she was there.
Anchises looked not with so pleased a face
In numbering o'er his future Roman race.
Nor Cybele, with half so blind an eye,
Surveyed her sons and daughters of the sky.
(Ware, Virgil !)
And this precious conceit
As precious gums are not for lasting fire,
They but perfume the Temple and expire;
So was she soon exhaled, and vanished hence, A short sweet odour of a vast expense. (! ! !)
Arn't you reminded of the 'aromatic splinters" ' ? I hope Lord Abingdon was satisfied he had the worth of his money. He got 375 lines, at any rate, not an elegy, but a descant. Forgive this descant!
RAMSEY, March 8, 1896.
You don't contemplate climbing mountains? Of course Helvellyn will be obvious, and, I should think, that would be enough. But there is a fine mountain walk (no determined apex) from Patterdale to HawesWater, which we might give a day to.
I have been tapping some glens for primroses ; divil a one,' ' divil a sign!' It's a late spring, and we do well to press on towards May. We really must try for a 'jocund company' of daffodils. I have never been in that country at the proper time, 'in vacant or in pensive mood.'
Yesterday I went well up on to the mountains, on the chance of finding anything. The curse I imprecated on a wretched little yellow leaf, which counterfeited a primrose, in an amazingly probable place at the foot of a waterfall, would have reminded you of a quaestiõ vexatissiyna in the Gospels. Also I got drenched. Nothing but honeysuckles-in leaf, of course, not in flower. They are delightful to look at; but why on earth do they take such a time about the business? The leaves come out, sometimes, even before January, and the flowers certainly not earlier than June. They are good, cheerful things, though, pregnant with a doctrine of patience.
1 Annus Mirabilis. (Of a cannon-ball falling on the spice-fleet.)
RAMSEY, March 4, 1896.
Verily ' the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.' Never mind!
And so back to Clifton, not, I dare say, without some sense of relief, even of compensation.
Mixed with his concern for you and your ultimate interest will be Irwin's joy. Indeed you must not impute it to him for unrighteousness if he suffers the joy to predominate, as he unquestionably will. So people have their several points of view. Mine, so far as it is several, bears upon a retreating figure.
You seemed to have come near me ; but you fade away from the Mersey into-well, no void, or blackness; or dismay-into the light of familiar Clifton, where I can still focus you, though not often foregather with you.
I believe you will get a better place. By permanence in the ' arts' which have been so cordially attributed to you by the authors of your testimonials, you must succeed. I don't see how nature could have done more for a man, and all that I mean by an 'art' is the perfectly natural proclivity of culture, the process of growth. Dear me! our forefathers would have had it out like a shot-, growth in grace,' that's it, and what for no ? But we have got so gingerly about these things. False shame, is it? Something false, at any rate, somewhere. But it shall not prevent me craving God's blessing upon you and yours in this disappointment.
RAMSEY, March 9, 1896.
I never in my life enjoyed anything more than your letter with its charming stories and sketches. The shag dance ' bates all'!! the light-hearted creatures. Wonder how old they were: grown-up men? Delicious! But it's all gone, gone, gone! And I suppose if they dance at all now at a mheillea, it's a waltz or a polka or the last new . . .2 from the saloons. The 'whale' too is admirable. But the 'shag' for my money. Those three caps to indicate a point off Maughold Head, a point about Cornaa, and a point off Laxey ; the craning the neck, now this way, now that, the squawk, the dive,-aw dear! aw dear! They were young in those days! The whole would be a perfect treasure for Pierre Loti ; if indeed the Frenchman were capable of its humour_ It seems to me quite consummate as it is. How can it be better ? It is not for literary treatment--blow literary treatment ! To see it would be the thing. Next to that, indications (stage-directions, hints like yours) send one skimming shag-like over the water. I could make such a splendid fool of myself in the nisus dramaticus. I'm nearly doing it every other minute.
1 I had sent Mr. Brown sketches of the after entertainments at a Manx mheillea
(harvest-home supper) sixty years ago.
2 Shag= cormorant.-J. Q.
' Word illegible.-J. Q.
March 25, 1896.
My travels, however, upon the stile business have hitherto been productive of much delight. I have re vived some old friendships. Old Mrs. (Raby) close to Glen May is one of the friends. It appears that in some lecture or another of mine at Peel, I had pronounced a fine eulogium on the dear old lady as many years dead. But behold! she liveth ! yea, and a hearty energetic life. Her grandson (such a modest graceful creature about twenty-one) was with her when I called in re stiles. She didn't like the stiles a bit, but me she did. I sang songs for her, the old songs (she would have them). As we sat at tea, the old servant who waited on us took her full part in the conversation (how I do like that!): and it was a perfect apotheosis for your friend, I assure you. This was the kind of thing:-
OLD MRS. RABY. You remember him, don't you?
OLD SERVANT (rapturous). Of course I do.
MISTRESS. Tom Brown we were calling him, weren't we?
SERVANT. Aw bless me!
MISTRESS. And if there was a party or a picnic in those days, was it anything without ' Tom Brown'?
SERVANT. No! no! and good gracious! no!
I will devote the rest of this page to my blushes.
RAMSEY, March 16, 1896.
What a glorious breeze! You must be catching it in Peel this morning. In the night great rattling of windows, straining of roof-timbers, banging of doors. Edith is a logical person, and, while we wavering males lay in bed sorely disturbed and perplexed, she got up, and went straight for the cause, got out into the yard, and made fast the principal peccant door in the midst of rain and wind, we profiting by the comparative peace which ensued just like men
I should like to see George MacDonald's Lilith.. . . Mythical and mystical, I expect, and, from what you say, largely unintelligible. Metaphysics are all very well in their own sphere, and, I dare say, I have gone as far as most people in that direction. To have thoroughly exhausted one such problem is quite enough. Then, drop it! Religion is distinct, and must never be mixed with it, or even touched by it. You might as well call in Algebra.
I know George well. He is a dear old soul. He has occasionally sent me copies of his books. Sir Gibbie is the best.... He is a most beautiful-looking old man, and I can remember him when he was quite young, a magnificent specimen of the very finest Highland type. He is a true Highlander, from Huntley in Aberdeenshire.... It is impossible not to have an affection for the sweet old mystic.
RAMSEY, March 21, 1896.
I had a big walk on Wednesday and Thursday, and am rather stiff and knocked up. The symptoms are not encouraging! Am I really going to turn my face to the wall ? It's no use living if I can't walk and climb cliffs. Not the very smallest atom, it isn't. And my niece is coming over on April 17 on purpose to triumph over Cronk-ny-eary-laa and all the western heights. Imagine me non capax. Oh dear! Oh dear! The misery and the shame ! When we foregather, I will tell you about my 'downfall and disgrace' this fatal week-and two ladies with me, 'nymphs of Dian's train'!! !
March 25, 1896.
There is no doubt that one of the most absolutely vital and recuperative things that has happened to me for a long time was the visit of Horatio Brown, whom if you see in Venice, love and bless for me. It was his second visit, and I do hope he will repeat it annually, making it an essential constituent of his pilgrimage northwards. That, too, was an admirable tramp from Port lern to Peel. Also we bad him to Renass. Renass is in the very centre of the island.
You hide yourself well away from the sea. We did (quite a large party of us). Then we turned up and over the hills seawards, and so achieved the glory of the sea towards Jurby. The coast is the same colour, or very nearly the same, as that north of RAMSEY, a very delicate red. This took Brown's fancy no end. And certainly both colour and gesture are very fine. The attitude is a lovely fugz?z've one.
Ask Brown about it. I don't think you have been that walk. And, if you have the chance, ask him about our Tea in the rose-embowered cottage. One of the ' specialties' of this I Spoot-vane' glen is that, as you approach the sea, the cottages bloom with roses of amazing size and immense profusion. Since you were here and went to Ballaglass, a great human interest has sprung up for me there-a weaver and his wife. They have been there of course ages ago; but we didn't happen upon them till 1894. And he is fair, and she is dark; and he is placid, gentle, sweet-eyed, very handsome, and she is good heavens! a network of fire ! A scoria ? no, not that; the fire is in her eyes, but it is in her heart, and it flames out upon you, and wraps you round, and every wrinkle of her face is furrowed with it. But it is not a red face, just a deep chestnut, or the varnish of an old Stradivarius. That's a woman burning, not burnt out, nor likely to be. And she burns, and she flames, and she flames and she burnsthe divinest old bush, and is not consumed in this Sinaitic glow (you are fresh from Exodus), Ëv Øaoyi 7rvpõs i3åzov. Yes, and the fire is divine. It is in the intensity of her nature, pure elemental fire, and to be received as such. Woe to the scoffer! woe to the blasphemer! woe-yes, woe to the aesthete! Pvocul, o fivocul este _pvofani ! Misinterpret this fire of loveliest old age because it is so volcanic ? Look at the Cumaean Sibyl-that's it.
Last September Irwin and I met in Ireland. Wasn't that a great occasion? We met at the Giant's Causeway, and spent about a week there, and going round the north-east corner of the island, finishing at Belfast. No doubt Ballycastle was the gem of this tour, and Fair Head the gem of Ballycastle. The tavns right up on the top of Fair Head are an extraordinary feature'! One of these tarns is just where an eye would be placed in a man's head. It seems to fix its eternal gaze on Rathlin Island. That is a lonely spot, if you like. Few tourists ever land there; or, in fact, any one else. The. natives talk Irish. I longed to go over there. We had a pleasant day westward of Port Rush, beyond Coleraine, at Castle Rock.... I stayed after Irwin left, and had a most refreshing time with my niece at Comber Manse, near Belfast....
With my niece Nelly I climbed Slieve Donard, the highest of the Mourne Mountains (some 2,700 feet). We had a fine view, in which these dear little Manx hills played their part moderately but decidedly.
Of Irish character I saw but little. I rather think it hides away. On the whole I would predicate of it melancholy, or, perhaps, meanness, poverty, absence of character, neutrality of tint. An uninteresting people-that is, of course, up there in the Northa harsh-featured people. The whole time I was there I didn't see one handsome man, and only one pretty woman, and her prettiness was consistent with, if it did not consist in, slatterliness. No, they are not a great people. For beauty, the Manx are infinitely to be preferred-beauty of feature, voice, form. So are the North Lancashire and Lake Country people. And behold! that's where I'm going now. After walking my niece Nelly round the island coast, I shall set off for Ulleswater, and meet Irwin there. To live one day of parting'-God knows what. One day, because it is so in Burns, but, in reality, one week. This will be from April aq, to May 1. I think we ought to have a good time, see some daffodils beside some lakes, and thus lay up some store Qf gold:
To flash upon the inward eye, That is the bliss of solitude.
About May 5 to Rochdale, then to Fred (our Fred -yours and mine) at Bolton. . . . He was over as usual; and we bore you in mind fervently as we once more perambulated the Parish of Andreas, once more visited little Tommy Teare, went about generally promiscuous-lek, benedicti benedicentes.
This time we went and had tea with Ballakeeilthusthay, the Charmer. He is about eighty-six, a beautiful and a very sweet old creature, pious, of course, and holding everything as 'from the Lord.' He seemed perfectly candid about the 'Charming' business. It is a matter of prayer, as in the Bethesda, or faith-healing sect. Still I heard only the other day that when he prays over a cow, for instance, he takes care to place a Corag suggane on her horn. Corrag suggane, i.e. a thumb rope, a short bit of straw rope made by a peculiar twist of the thumb. No doubt this is a relic of paganism, which, almost unconsciously, and certainly without pagan intention, he retains.
I hope you will have a delightful journey from Venice homewards, and that you will find them all well.
April 25, 1896.
A true Philologist, a true Ethnologist, Folklorist, scorns nothing; because he never can tell where his honest gleanings may not come in, what lacuna they may not supply, what literary tendency they may not illustrate, what parable they may not suggest. He feels that there is danger in letting any fragment go by; nay, something almost like literary treason in consulting his own case, taste, or prepossession, anything but the simple bits of what, to others, may appear rubbish, and even to himself, at times, superfluous. Who has not felt this-this responsibility on the Palatine Mount or at Pompeii ? Did you not experience some such misgivings the other day in the Escurial or the Alhambra 1 ?
1 On my telling him that some of my friends had remarked that they wondered at my taking the trouble to publish such a book (the Manx Ballads).-A. W. M. .', This refers to a recent visit of mine to Spain.-A. W. M.
RAMSEY, Apra 26, 1896.
Now here is a chance ; it looks remote, but it might be fostered into propinquity. Why should we not meet in town? I shall be staying with my niece at Clapham: you will be at the Savile, say. Well, that is surely admirable. What do you think? Couldn't we fldner a bit? Stare in at shop windows? rus M urbe a bit ? Place ourselves under the direction of the relative whom I will,.Aro hac vase, and with a myriad apologies, call Guy; illo duce surrender ourselves to asynartete OavråQ/ara : play the fool (will w---?) box the watch? hear the chimes at midnight? Irwin ! it will be a second youth. You have no idea how the prospect arrides me, nay excites, convinces me.
RAMSEY, May 23, 1896.
I have been into Lancashire and Yorkshire for about ten days, and had a pleasant time with an old bachelor vicar. This was quite in the country, up one of those innumerable dales which wind away on either side of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.
A big mill (silk) down in the bottom; boundless wealth, comfort, and stability all about. Everything emerald green, though this can't last long. Fine, hearty, well-behaved people. You could hardly imagine that they could turn into the Douglas tripper; but I suppose by some marvellous transmutation they do. My bachelor friend had a big dinner-party to meet me, including some old Clifton pupils, and we had excellent music. The music in the church, too, was very good, rather tremendous, let it be said, and the congregation an overwhelming crowd. . These Sunday-school gatherings in the North, you know, are great institutions. Families meet and have no end of festivities. They assemble from all parts, much cooking and hospitality in general. Yet they contrive to cram the church as well as their friends-a noble folk, if ever there was.
I walked over Blackstone Edge to Rochdale. The hills stood ' dressed in living green' with brown heather and immense patches of the young blaeberry, colour neither green nor brown-tint of young oak would hit it off pretty well. One of my old Cliftonians (A. Whitley, Halifax) accompanied me, a very delightful companion. He had brought with him a lot of Lancashire and Yorkshire stories, which he read to me as we sat on the Edge. These were jolly doin's.'
At Rochdale I was with Archdeacon Wilson and his never-to-be-too-highly-commended wife. Fancy -allowed? no, but encouraged and bidden to smoke in my bedroom, and with a bottle of consummate whisky on a little side-table at my elbow by the bed; breakfast also in bed, served by a kindly Lancashire lad beaming with good nature. These luxuries, however, I emphatically refused after the first night. Here I did nothing but smoke and talk, look up the Lancashire poets, and enjoy capital music (Grieg, &c. ). The musician was a bonny little Irish woman -O Margaret! Aunt Margaret! what ails ye at the Irish? What's to hinder one loving the Kelt who abides in the bogs of the West?
The Deemster has fine things in it; but it is not such a whirlwind as The Manxman. Take The Manxman as a rapture, not a reality. It is not Manx or anything else that 'savours of the realty.' As well ask for a map of Prospero's Isle as a picture of the Isle of Man from The Manxman. Don't bother about that. Surrender yourself to the hurly-burly of splendour and get carried away, God knows where! You are on the frontier of Shakespearia, and what more do you want ? Shakespeare? Ah, well ! The dear old Manx folk are terribly puzzled, many of them quite outraged. 'Local colour' is knocked to smithereens (glorious smithereens!), anachronism runs riot: this Pegasus is no pony creel-laden with Manx mountain turf: he bounds over space, and with his forefeet paws the stars. Read and enjoy. 'On the back of Pegasus,' say you! bumping and thumping, and all ' in a muck of sweat'? Nay, but streaming, gleaming, meteoric, cometic, breathless but ecstatic. 'Nonsense!' Well, Ma'am, I dare say you are right. I didn't say you could ride Pegasus; but it's worth trying. You can always fall back upon a 'Donkey in the Cevennes.'. . . Love to all.
RAMSEY, June 3, 1896.
Your idea of forcing, or fostering, the sale of my little books is most amusing. But it shows the kindness of your heart.
It is odd, but do you know? I have a perfectly serene confidence in their future. How it will come to pass I am not prepared to say, nor does it much matter. A child, perhaps yet unborn, will do it. A great poet is yet to be, a Manx poet, transcending all our 'small doin's.' He will be called Kewish, Shimmin, Quayle, Cottier All right! He will stumble across my old ditties, he will love them, he will wonder, he will muse, the fire will be kindled, and at the last he will speak with his tongue. And he will say-, This man was my brother, my father, my own real self.' Through Kewish I shall find utterance, through Shimmin, through Quayle, through Cottier. Even so my heart goes stretching back to some possible progenitor whom I'd give worlds to find. I cannot find him; but I shall be found, though after many days-found of Cottier, Quayle, Shimmin, Kewish. You'll see! Ah no, you'll not.
Dear friend, you and I will be far away. At any rate, under the sweet Manx sod we knew and cherished we shall sleep the last sleep. And Kewish will be the boee ! He will be the poet of the twentieth century. How he will yearn towards us! He will handle loftier themes, and broader branches will issue from his stem ; but his roots will be in our ashes, in the bed of dialectic homeliness which we have laid.
And I shall be perfectly satisfied, feeding the young native genius with racy sap, sending up the blossoms to blow in Manx air, and make all Manx men and Manx women happy. Kewish will, I doubt not, give readings of our booklets, just to give the people a notion of what this old stuff was like. Kewish will shed the tear of sympathetic divination. Leave it to KEWISH ! ' A gran' chap-KEWISH ! '
RAMSEY, June 14, 1896.
I know nothing of Monier Williams and his appreciation of my ' Doctor.' I do remember some laudatory reference in the same direction by Max Müller. But the 'hundred best books' (!!)-what rot! It was a craze, I think, and a very vulgar illiterate one, some ten or twelve years ago. Wasn't there a prize offered by some paper for the (number variant) of best books, also for best living authors, painters, statesmen, indeed,
I imagine, MEN, i. e. distinguished men. You were expected to head the list with Gladstone, then all things were possible. But surely these dashes at twopenny-halfpenny divinations were intended for third-rate ladies' maids.
RAMSEY, June 23, 1896.
... The wreck of the Drummond Castle is much in my mind. What lovely creatures those French are! The women and children carrying their poor drowned sisters! that little baby in its coffin decked with roses! Don't you yearn towards these dear souls? What are Agincourt and Waterloo in the presence of such sweetness? Well, I love them anyway, and shall brood over them and pray for them while I live.
Your Greek Professor must be a fine fellow; I long to know more of him. It would be delightful to effect this through you. But you're in love with the other chap. All right! Married, too! Is married? Dear me! everybody is married.
June 28, 1896.
Of course you know that delightful creature, your countryman, Alfred Percival Graves (' Father O'Flynn,' &c.). He has written some delightful songs for a collection of old Manx airs, which a friend of mine is bringing out.
On my way back from London I shall drop my two daughters, consigned to various domiciles in Clifton, and pass by to my sister's at Cardiff. This will, I imagine, be in October, the very time for
Tintern ! Could we arrange a meeting there? Un paralleled! just a day and a night. The meeting at Tintern would be supplementary to the meeting in town, for on that I count absolutely.
My time has been given largely of late to my friend W. H. Gill's Manx Song-book. He spent last Friday with me, and ' from morn to dewy eve' we dwelt in a perfect bower of melody. It will be a very charming book. He writes excellent English, and is something of a scholar. We looked at each other with a mild surmise. I can tell you, our delight was huge when we discovered a genuine Dorian mood, which, in our native ditties, prevails over the others, though, of course, we have Ionian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixo-Lydian, and Aeolian.
Perhaps I ought to call them modes, not moods. We have not many of the Aeolian, but one great beauty-' Hic my graih shagh'm '(I My love went by me')!!! Easy all
PS.-Claudian I very fine.
In Memoriam, ALEXANDER WOOD, drowned in Loch Leven, June 27, 1896, aged 22.
July 16, 1896. We knew you actor, athlete, well-equipt
For either function 2. Shakespeare bent his gaze Upon you, seen amid the purple haze
Of I ethe's wharf, and said-, Imperial lipt 1 A fragment I sent him from the I Aponus.'
s Alick's performance of Brutus in Julius Caesar at the College Play was very memorable.-T. E. B.
The boy is Roman: so my Brutus gript The steel.' Old victors of the Graecian days Admiring mused-, Such limbs, to win the bays, Olympia saw for contest duly stript.'
But now to us rememb'ring stand revealed The loftier purpose and the larger aim, The soul of truth, the virgin modesty
So delicately sensitive of shame,
The pure white life to carnal eyes concealed, The life that was, the life that is to be.
RAMSEY, August 28, 1896.
For commercial purposes it may perhaps be necessary to dip his' foot now and then into the unsavoury maelstrom 2. But for all high literary purposes, for the atmosphere of pure thought and strenuous en deavour, firocul, o firocul este firofani. He is always sweetest and most rational and intellectually clear when he banishes from his soul these gibbering phantoms.
RAMSEY, November 9, 1896.
I had a wretched journey to Rochdale 3, eight hours' delay owing to fog. At Liverpool my practised eye detected the symptoms of a storm outside. And a storm we had! A twopenny-halfpenny miscreant of a little steamer crawled shamefaced up to the stage. I never saw anything under steam or canvas more disreputable. She seemed to apologize for her very existence, and is, though so small, a notorious 'rowler., So 'we yowled, and we yowled, and we yowled.' I, of course, went below, and availed myself of my ancient seamanship to remain there. But what with sea-sick women and children who will persist in overflowing into what we used to call the 'gentlemen's cabin,' I had a hard time of it, much alleviated, though, by Fitz 1, whom I read as long as daylight lasted. The wind had risen and pursued us, and, just in the nick of time turned, with a vicious twist into the north-east, making it impossible to land at the Long Pier. So we had to wait till high water at eleven, lying to in the bay, ' rowlin' gunwales under, and smashing the crockery at an infernal rate. The captain came down to tell me how matters stood, or ' yowled,' or jumped, or generally played old Harry. He introduced an absolutely magnificent-looking fellow, whom he left to entertain me, saying that he was 'fuss-rate company.' This with the usual result of such introductions. You should never inaugurate relations of this kind by guaranteeing conversational powers. He only got as far as, 'Did ye know Parson Holmes ? Well, that's the man that christened me!' He then blushed all over his stupendously handsome face, seemed troubled, blurted out a sort of joke-possibly the 'christening' was intended to lead up to this-the joke being his age, which he stated to be sixty four! and he looked just forty. Glorious, happy creature ! 1 1 had given him Fitzgerald's Letters for the journey.
But we didn't get much further. I tried to draw him on. He fell off. I baited with the best joke I could invent. He turned away, reappeared down the companion at infrequent intervals as if to have another try, then finally vanished. I wonder how he accounted for his failure to Captain F. on the bridge. But oh, such a man! I never saw his like. The very perfection of manhood, the dear old boy, dripping all over me in his oilskins, and torturing himself to invent a phrase not totally inadequate. I hope to see him again.
I landed in the teeth of a fierce north-caster-nice work for a man recent from bedroom fires and hot grog ! When I got up to my house, my people were all snug between the blankets. I knocked them up, and what may come I know not. Some additional cold of a pituitous character has already pronounced itself; but I hope nothing worse. Between Rochdale and my ' island home' just fourteen hours of ' yowling.' No wonder at the blasphemy with which the very sides of our old rattle-trap seemed swollen-as e. g. 'Lord -- ye ! Keep the brute's head to the wind!'
But I will not give another specimen. It was a steady crescendo 'all the time.' Blessings on Fitzgerald !' How delightful he was! How he comforted me
I have now finished him. That is the worst of it.
Of a distinguished literary friend.-J. Q.
' London.-J. Q. 3 i. e. from Clifton.
RAMSEY, November za, 1896.
When your letter came I was reading the PhiZoctetes. Why worry me? Don't ! Don't! The descent is too dreadful. I distinctly refuse to be drawn any more. I am in a happier Lemnos, in an åp,Øt7p,'qs Øvktov where no wound burns, and the air is sweet.
7rowrpotros though you be, I'll not budge. I see what you want; you want me to read that book again. Never! The Gods do so to me and more also, if I repeat the experiment! I have just finished a very pleasant reading of the Religio Medici How delightful it is!
Nothing approaches the meridian splendour of Weir of Hermiston. Until further notice, please consider that my Ne plus ultra. I really don't expect, during the short remainder of my life, to see anything to beat that. A sweet taste to leave the world with.
My cold has nearly ceased, I still wear a wrap, but it is of the smallest, and we are having some delicious weather. With all this my affections flow steadily and increasingly Clifton-wards. You have cured me of a cold that was beginning to irk my spirit, the sense of estrangement, and a deadness. Well, thank God for that ! I believe the cure is permanent, and that my next visit to Clifton promises to be a very happy one.
Quick enthusiasms must needs be superficial. They live, and die, and live again; they succeed one another with a fair show of continuity. Let us be content. I imagine the great difficulty of being content is the cherishing of inordinate and unreasonable expectations. For which 'overhaul' Adam Smith; Theory of Moral Sentiments, an old friend of mine, cold-blooded, but wholesome. My dear friend, both you and I are of the hot-blooded species, and ought to take some such drug at least twice a year. Brimstone and treacle sufficed for the pupils of Mr. Squeers. We want a more searching specific.
I have just found that Y., who has read nothing for years but Chrysostom and Augustine, has taken to poetry, and his eyes are opened in a wonderful way. His avenue of approach to the Muses is rather casual -Clough and Walt Whitman! Good Heavens! Hear it, ye bishops!
November 28, 1896.
This is a very charming book, this Shropshire Lad. Is he [the author 1] a highly cultivated person, through sheer cultivation attaining simplicity; or a simple person marvellously protected from vulgarity and the banal? Some of the poems indicate so much selfrestraint, so much artistic cuteness, that I incline to the former opinion. In either case the results are very satisfactory. A thousand thanks for your kind present.
Kipling is my constant wonderment. But I am not quite sure about him. I have not read his last book, though MacAndrew's Hymn I have read as quoted in extenso by some reviewer. It is, as you say, superb. Kipling seems a versatile being, without a pivotmagnificent sky-rocket of a genius. There is nothing he can't do, but I question whether he will ever do anything really great. He is at his second wind, and one gets anxious about his staying power.
Weir of Hermiston I take to be the most consummate thing that has been written for many years. Don't you agree with me? THAT WOMAN-not Mrs. Weir, though she is marvellously good, but the humble relative who occupies the place of chief and confidential servant!!! No one but a Scot can enter into this character. That I am able so thoroughly to feel it, I consider the strongest proof of my Scottish origin. Such a woman! And yet they said Stevenson couldn't draw a woman. And the passion of loveyes, love; yes, passion-the positive quasi-sexual (or shall I drop the quasi?) longing for the young Hermiston. Good God! what depth! what truth! what purity! what nobility! If the century runs out upon this final chord, what more do I want? Let me die with the sough of it in my ears. It is enough mane dimittis, Domine. You will go on to other joys: the coming century will bring them to you. But to me-well, well, all right. In heaven I will bless you, Louis Stevenson.
1 A. E. Housman.
RAMSEY, November 29, 1896.
I was rather more than two months on the ramble. My visit to Clifton was, of course, exceedingly interesting. . . . Your own letter interested me greatly. How altogether right you are about the good wife! 1 After his return.
We watch these maternal phenomena with curious equanimity, whereas they are daily miracles, and deserve our fullest worship. . . . I may just venture to remark the marvellous spread of respectable writing. It would seem as if everybody could produce no end of copy not destitute of a certain style. One gets bewildered and has to keep firm hold of one's judgment. The point is this-we must look to something beyond style and diction, or these people will sweep us off our feet.... Our illiterate friends (can we call them illiterate?), reckless of spelling, and in grammar Wubant, soar to heights of real eloquence. What a pity it is, this wretched accessory of writing! How magnificently they could declaim their compositions! The 'Locals' (local preachers) do that, and I imagine do it well. To bind them down to the beggarly elements of punctuation, &c. , would be fatal....
Have you read Wear of Hermiston ? It is Louis Stevenson's last and greatest, though unfinished work. A veritable masterpiece. It doesn't exactly take one's breath away as Rudyard Kipling did when I first read. his Barrack-room Ballads: but it fills one with a steady glow. You'll not cry over it, as we may all be well excused for crying over Ian Maclaren. But the great men go beyond tears. I don't mean that Stevenson does quite this. One thing he does: he treads the heights above the watershed of the facile and obvious lachrymose. You don't want your pocket-handkerchief; your heart is full, but not exactly that way.
RAMSEY, December 8, 1896.
Your ' causerie' (doubtful word ?) is delightful : . . . depend upon it, the texture is good and sound. So is the current of ideas, and it is wonderfully taking and bright.
Interesting it is moreover, a refreshing walk in a happy place. Surprising too, a revelation to lots of people. ' Who now reads Cowley ?' One does read, and with something akin to remorse, these glorious things: and every generous mind must feel concerned that the neglect be made good. This chivalrous mode of approaching the subject runs through the whole essay, and while we admire and sympathize, indignation is not far off, nor tears.
Talking about the Philoctetes, I have been so much struck with the splendour of Neoptolemus. What a noble cub! And how strongly contrasted in this play is the difficulty of the choruses with the straight forward dignity of the heroes. This can't surely arise from the exigencies of metre alone. The doubting, hinting, halting chorus is, I suppose, as it should be. But I love to think of the great men, old and young, talking so plainly. They seem to scorn hesitation and the cowardice of suggestion. Hang it! even Ulysses will not have it. The miserable sailors are obviously ignoble; their shifting åro0'tWTrjrrets, where more is meant than meets the ear,' their insinuations, their general baseness, they weary me. Or is it merely the fact that they are very hard Greek, possibly a bit corrupt?
RAMSEY, December 12, 1896.
You must not trouble yourself too much about these nymphs. Penelope was the wife of Ulysses. But, of course, there might be other Penelopes ; for the name means ' a woman that weaves.' And in those times almost every woman both span and wove. We know that Ulysses' wife wove, and, for a purpose, unwove. But weaving was the work of every housewife. So there you are! Dryops was the son of the river-god, Spercheus, and was the father of the Penelope you mention. Penelope, the wife of Ulysses, was the daughter of Icarius. Pan was the son of another Penelope. But the Greeks talked a lot of nonsense about their innumerable nymphs. Egeria was a Roman muse, called a Camena. She lived in a cave. There's a well in the cave. I have been to it. The cave is near Rome, at the Porta Capena, the gate through which you pass on to the great Southern Road, the Appian Way. I did not see Egeria ! She was a very wise woman, and the men of our time, and of all time, ought to remember how much they can learn from good and wise women.
No, Santa Claus never comes to me. It seems rather hard, but he only comes to very young people. I have no doubt he will come to you. Probably he is on the way already. Where does he come from? Far ?
RAMSEY, December 15, 1896.
1 To tell me what you did was both necessary and a real kindness. I confess that to dwell upon it would be to me a trial. You did not dwell upon it, or touch it one atom more than was needed. In my reply you no doubt observed a corresponding brevity.
That was what it meant, not a scrap more or less. If I felt at liberty to enlarge upon my distress, it would be in the direction of apologies. But here I am doing just what I said I would not do. Once for all then a clear sky without a cloud of reserve. You know I keep back nothing. Gratitude, gratitude: my heart has room for nothing more.
1 Generosity is writ so large on this cryptic fragment that I thought it worth
RAMSEY, January 15, 1897.
. . . I was only just able to write a hasty line (' an 'asty snack') stating my opinion crudely that Mr. Courthope 2 was not like your mother, but that he reminded me strongly of the Poet Cowher-' a fine nervous face like his.' I hope you will, before you have read this, have recovered the photograph....
I have an article on Spenser coming out soon in the New Review. I want to convert people back to Spenser. With a view to this I am willing to compromise, and, dropping the F. Q. ('for the hardness of their hearts'), to urge upon them five poems. Do you know what they are? In order of merit
1. The Two Hymns of Love and Beauty.
2. The Prothal. .
3. The Epithal.
4 .. Mother Hubbard's Tale.
What would yours be?
Here is a sonnet from Mozley to me for the New Year, which I think quite fine
To T. E. B.
Dear poet of the isle so sharply set,
A single jewel in the crystal deep
Encircled by four realms, whose people keep
The Celtic fire and antique flavour yet
This verse of mine will tell I ne'er forget
Yourself and yours, and gladly by the steep
Of North Barrule, or where the waters leap
In Sulby's Glen, would roam with you, and let
Your racy converse while away the hours.
Still do I hope, although it tarries late,
To walk with you thro' Mona's springtime flowers!
But now I waft the wish allowed by fate
That this new year, by heaven's favouring powers,
Which finds you brave, may leave you fortunate.
J. R. M. December 30, 1896.
To J. R. M.
Speed on, great Sol, and bid the hours renew
The diamond-y-paven Zodiac.
Bid busy zephyrs clear away the rack
Of ruined months: let hyacinths be blue
Once more, nor any primroses eschew
The haunts of scented silence, where the black
Tempestuous North not enters, nor his pack
Accursed that yelps, but finds no passage through.
Come, Mozley, with the coming of the spring,
Catch the first breath that hints her presence near.
Barrule is frowning, but the frown will pass;
Sulby her sweetest song prepares to sing;
And I have noted how the waking year
(For you, unquestioned) stirs in Ballaglass.
T. E. B. January 1, 1897.
Good luck to you this term! A good time with the crocuses and the daffodils! and all happiness. My kindest regards to your brother and his family.
2 My uncle in Western Australia,
RAMSEY, January 22, 1897.
We are just now going through a great trouble, and it is hard to think of anything else. Our poor servant-a very excellent one-is off her head. She is not a native, will not give me her friends' address; and everything falls upon my wretched responsibility. To some extent I am relieved by the admirable courage and benevolence of my sisters-in-law. They have taken the poor creature in and are watching over her, and practically nursing her. The doctor has a strong objection to her remaining there. He has told me quite definitely that it is done at my risk, and that he will not be answerable for any consequences. These are the times to try men. He is a clever young Cantab, knowing the morbid side, and I am a blind old psychologist supposed to be versed in the normal condition of the pvX, , and I would fain run away, or give him carte blanche to use his accredited methods.
But I am not fit for these things. The close contemplation of dementia, nay, the mere presence in the air of a floating dementia almost kills me. I believe I have an affinity for it, and it at once attracts me, and makes me shudder. . . .
It blows great guns, a mighty blizzard strides landward, its wings deep purple tinged with a fury of sweltering snow. In front of it leap the exultant waves, blue and pale green; behind all, an ingruent horror.
We have just received a telegram from our servant's friends: a brother will come to-morrow. This is to a certain extent a relief: at least just sufficient to restore the equilibrium.
RAMSEY, February 7, 1897.
Have you read The Table Talk of Shirley? It is rather a pretentious title, but the book contains some good things. A good half consists of materials for a life of J. A. Froude. Really excellent. I have a liking for this amorphous sort of biography, and could wish that many big tomes were arrested at a little before the stage of precipitation. The world will have to drop a deal of its baggage. It would be convenient to do so at starting the new century. Let it start ex, editior. Have a select committee to sit upon these aspirants for immortality who go on haunting the obscure corridors of time.
RAMSEY, February 14, 1897.
Yes, yes! so I did, but clean forgot it 1. Sorry for A.'s house-supper. Certainly! oh, dear me, yes! I remember it perfectly; not the song, but the circumstance. How on earth did I yield ? The pressure must have been enormous. At what exact tumbler does one fall to pieces like that?
Remindin' me' that I have followed you ' into the silent land.'
Into the land ofthe great departed, Into the silent land.
You see, I even quote Longfellow. Yes, I am a teetotaller. You can't become that with impunity. In my case it is a counsel of perfection, but founded on a diagnosis half mine and half my doctor's. Ah, Irwin ! never again shall we-but it is too painful, and life hereafter but a shabby business.
That is very good of Coleridge 1. But how it suffers from the degradation of the phrase ' first-class.' Was it ever creditable to say 'a first-class' gentleman, &c. ? Did Coleridge say it with a conscious affectation or air of smartness? As things stand now, the expression is little short of indecent !
Your Hazlitt on Caliban is charming. I know so little of Hazlitt. He must be well worth reading. Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.' Not exactly that; but four and twenty crocuses shining in my garden. They look delightful and spring-like. Snowdrops have been out a long time; but they look so like babies' funerals that I had rather they stayed away.
A good letter from Worthington is a good thing. I had one the other day.
I have written to Grenfell. You describe my feeling about him to a nicety. He is a lovely and a noble spirit. As the tie by which he holds on to the living sphere becomes more attenuate and precarious, his sweetness is more exquisite, and his interest more tender. It seems just one long delicate embrace in which he includes us all. Heaven gives this grace; it is so rare and so-I use the word deliberately-so edifying.
1 He promised to write a ' House' song.1 1 Cowley's prose is the prose of a first-class gentleman.'
RAMSEY, February 25, 1897.
Yesterday Dora and I went up Sulby Glen, taking with us two lady friends. We caught it, and no mistake. About eight miles of drench and bellowing. The ladies had to get changes of raiment and wait till their own 'things' were dry. Two gentlemen with steaming tumblers occupied the bar. Our hostess saw that wouldn't do, and lighted a beautiful fire in a private apartment.
The gentlemen proved two very capital fellows. One was tall, looked aggressive, the absolute John Bull, you would have said-not a bit of him; Manx as they make them. But he did the external John Bull to perfection, even threw in a bit of brusquerie, a possibility of rudeness. Oh, certainly, John Bull confessed. Meantime his companion was a lovely little creature, gentle, tractable, flexible, all the bles that are good and delightful. He was evidently very much under the influence of the pseudo John Bull, looked up to him with something like awe.
I tackled the pseudo. He was a tremendous person, but I took his measure, and crept gradually within his guard. Yes, nearly a perfect English accent, but a touch here and there quite unmistakable. I had him; he was Manx! I drove him in upon his courtesy; that was infallible; so were his aitches.
But the sweet, gentle creature, his companion, over whom he exercised such influence, was the Englishman, a ' party' (yes, but he did not say that) from Nottingham. There he lives, there in a house which he calls (it is on his card) Ellan Vannin veg veer, 'The darling little Isle of Man ' ; he, cherishes Keltic dreams and Menapian sympathies. Wound himself round me with every Manx blandishment, discovered me as the author, and as nearly cried.
The Manxman stayed at the limit of courtesy; no gush for the John Bull, however pseudo. He seemed to adhere to his friend with a certain stateliness of indulgence. I think he had begun with the intention of not discovering me. But his hand being forced, he rose to the occasion splendidly, and spoke of the pride, &c. , deeming himself fortunate to have had the opportunity, &c. , then becoming once more rigid with a fine reserve.
The end of my story is charmingly Manx (Manx, observe, out of the season !). For all this trouble, extra fire, drying clothes, delicious tea, the charge was zero. 'Bless my soul! Mrs.-, what's the meaning of this ? ' 'Aw, well, sir, ye see, sir, &c. , &c. '
RAMSEY, March 10, 1897
I am in the Dr.'s hands and really bad, the consequence of three drenchings wildly encountered by me in rapid succession . . .
A has a splendid gift of folly, a gift which to others must often seem a fatality. Such a rollicking mad baby of a cbap. God bless the like though I love them. And sweet old ! That's another, only so much more so, so much sweeter, and so much gentler. Only the divine trickle of the madness soaking the brain-bath. That's what they agree in. And that is what makes them so delightful-perfect honeycomb! . . .
What a ghastly picture you draw of X-! But exquisitely hit off with a devilish vraisemblance which I recognize as a touch of genius. Yes! but the very excess of the horror, Dantesque in its naked beastliness, ought to have terrified you back into moderation and the limits of possibility. From what abyss of distortion you conjured up that spectre
I know not. It shows the depths of the Aeschylean fury that is within you. I write this in sheer admiration, I assure you.
RAMSEY, March 26, 1897.
1 What a business ! 'Fire! Fire!' Ucalegon starts in me. I am awfully sorry. You are not insured ? Why, you're worse than I. My insurance only costs 10s. a year. Go and do thou likewise.
It must have given you all a great fright. An invaluable experience, no doubt, but one you could dispense with.
I don't get out the very smallest atom. What am I to do? Go out in the very teeth of the gale? Well, perhaps not. Still the wind has always been such a friend of mine. I want to plunge into it, and laugh in its
face, and shout. Rain, too, is one of my joys. I want to wash myself, soak myself in it; hang myself over a meridian to dry, dissolve (still better) into rags of soppy disintegration, blotting paper, mash and splash and hash of inarticulate protoplasm.
Up on those hills what things to be suffered! What things to be done! chiefly the former.
Just to submit yourself to the squalid process and become squelch. Wouldn't that be nice ? Yet I suppose one would go on hankering through all eternity for contiguity of atoms, even a row and some kind of uproar opposing the final dissipation.
I never was a dissipated person, but I should desire to be dissipated on some Sierra, swept and reduced to the viewless void.
And so, hold hard, get back into form. This isle is quite vague and void enough; and I swear I think it is taking to itself wings, and meditates a flight towards ' the backside of the world,' 'fluttered into' Limbo 'rags.' Well it must go without me; I must be precipitate and residuous.
Considering that I can't get out, I am doing pretty well. As an opposite pole of irritation, dissolution, what you will, there has been set up the Springcleaning. All things get mixed, chaotic, devious borne. It is a fearful time. Your Concio 1 has vanished, no doubt only for a season. It will turn up like the young Princes in the Tower, a-smilin' round the 'pillar.' Cast your Conci~ upon the house-cleaning, and you shall see it after (let us hope) a moderate number of days. It was an admirable Concio ; I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even, if you don't convince people, you do well to lift up a standard, and stick it high, and stick it tight, if it be but a retrospective Mizpah.
I would give anything to read Miss Holroyd's letters. They come just at a meeting-of-the-waysa literary Pond-hoint, where we can do, exceedingly well with them. But I suppose I shall not see them.
Of course, I have plenty to read. I am now reading Gautier's Capiiaine Fracasse. The language is French of the age of Louis XIII. That is rather a handicap. Why not Louis-Philippe ? But we must bear in mind that it is intended to be a quasipicaresque novel, and aims at nothing but a series of adventures rather loosely strung together.
I have an article ,on Spenser in the New Review of April. You remember how Ste. Beuve every now and then took up some solid and obvious classic (Corneille, Bossuet, &c. ), and abstained for a while from out-of-the-way authors, or from archaeological or bibliographical questions.
PS.-Assure Miss Irwin and your sister of my deepest sympathy and concern.
1 We had had a fire.
2 A paper I wrote and sent him.
RAMSEY, April 7, 1897.
Poor old Grenfell. What a brave spirit it was! So bright and true.
I feel very lonely.
There was no help for it. The seal of death was on him when we last parted. . . .
Did you ever meet a Paladin like G. ? Gentle and faithful, unselfish, and of the purest chalybean, stainless and pure. I have known him twenty-seven years, and all the time he has been to me a marvel, a revelation of what man may be at his best. If there were many such we might augur well for the race. But I have known only one such, one whom to know has been a joy and a pride. Let us bury him in our heart of hearts.
Clevedon, with its wallflowers, would be easier of access than Torquay, and, I should say, preferable. The smell of the wallflowers, combined with a powerful blend of sea smell, always made me happy at Clevedon. Scenically, it is not so ambitious as Torquay, but it has a humble (humilis) look with it, and a kindly, that does one good. Also you scarcely meet anybody, and some of the walks are real raptures for a quiet, brooding spirit. What would I not give to go to Cadbury with you? or Portishead ? or, indeed, anywhere? but, if specially, somewhere where we might be free from wind. And the coast provides that exemption. All the way to Portishead it has behind it a sort of hollow-way within which you can be quite safe, and dream,. The dream is now the thing. Oh, let us dream! a chance word now and then, a cowslip, a violet; but mainly the all but continuous dream.
Wherever you go, I sincerely hope that Miss Irwin and your sister, and Dida, if there be no others, will have a sweet consensus somniandi For that is what you can best do at Clevedon. It will strengthen them so after that drawing of the curtains, in the dead of night-was it? Well, after that alarm and perturbation unwonted in the lives of ' paceful faymales.'
I return you 's poem. I am glad to see he woos the muse. As yet the oat is tenuis ; but we may hope, fairly hope, for larger expansions, and flights into the empyrean. He has tried his I prentice hand' on a bit of daåblerie, and not without success. I would suggest the practice of mechanism, and the strict cultivation of the ear.
I have read Stevenson's Familiar Studies of Men and Books, wherein I commend the 'Walt Whitman,' the 'Thoreau,' and the ' Villon.' But how wonderfully moderate and judicious is his treatment of these persons! I think I told you my impression of Margaret Ogilvy. On the whole, it disappointed me. I am now going to read Weir of Hermiston for the second time. I can hardly fancy my changing my opinion about that. But we shall see.
April 9, 1897.
I confess I did not think so highly of Margaret Ogilvy as did Hall Caine, though the book is, in many respects, charming. The fact is all my faculty of admiration is 'bespoke' for Weir of Hermiston.
I have just read it again. The elder Kirstie bates all! The ' nocturnal visit' to Archie's chamber is simply stupendous. Oh, these middle-aged loves, how strong and glorious, and to literature how new
When I am next in Peel I shall read your mother a lecture upon the supreme duty of taking care of oneself. It will come nicely from me, won't it? A ter'ble obstinate oul' woman! Yiss ! she is! All very fine ! But' motes or barnes,' let her choose which, and pull away-it's well to be rid of them-aye!
I heard of 'his death only yesterday. I think I knew that when we parted last we should never meet again in this world.
He was inexpressibly dear to me, and, indeed, so entirely lovable a friend I never had. Looking back upon the past, upon our long connexion so close and so full of interest, I see nothing that is not wholly beautiful. He was a man to love with one's whole heart, and it was thus I loved him, and shall always love. The winsomest of all my friends, the purest, the most honourable and stainless. I am lonely here, specially so just now, and I expatiate in a wide field of sorrow: it is a field of tombs becoming more and more populous. God bless you, my dear friend, and make you strong to bear, and guide, and hallow the memories that you feel to be most precious. Not all sad that life, was it? With that bright and happy spirit you knew many a joy as well as many a grief. On the whole, your life has been a rich and overflowing one, and you have fought a good fight, sustained the sinkings of a noble heart, and now it is Peace-now it is Peace.
RAMSEY, April 26, 1897.
My blessings on you! you speak of inspiration, encouragement, what not, coming from me. With The Captain of the Parish I am supremely contented, I can die happy. To have had anything to do with the yEVE(Rs of such a work makes me very proud. Perhaps I have leavened you and my barm may stir in your young and vigorous veins. All rightbut, however that may be, I have got what I longed for, and, ever since I came to the island, conjectured a new Manx writer honestly suckled at a Manx breast. You will be faithful to us, and continue, and expand, and heighten the tradition, the sacred deposit. . . . You see I am excited, but how can I help it ?
1 After reading The Captain of the Parish.
RAMSEY, May 3, 1897.
What a nuisance it is we can't agree about the book' ! You are profoundly dissatisfied with it, whereas I am more charmed than ever. No doubt I expressed myself in pretty strong terms before I really could be said to have known much about the work. I anticipated great things, and felt justified in doing so. But now that I have read it I am simply delighted. It is a very fine piece of work indeed; in parts, most exquisite.
Would it be asking you too much if I begged you to suspend your judgment until you have read my article? Your disapproval is so absolute and without exception that I still have hopes it has sprung from a misconception. I can understand that one must either very much like or very much dislike the book. As it caught you on the dislike face of your sympathies, you condemn it in told. Try again!
I heartily endorse your judgment of Manx women. For one prince in our Thule, I know a good dozen princesses.
But I like exceedingly. In a humbler rank I have met with even nobler specimens, in fact I have met with perfect gods. Their loveliness has positively over-awed me, and I am quite unable to express in essay, or poem, or story, all that they send shivering and glowing to my heart. Yiss ! juss Boees. But when it comes to gels-aw, my gough !
Shigs that pass in the Night--not yet arrived(overdue). In fact, no ships.
1 The Captain of the Parish.
RAMSEY, May 4, I897
I made a mistake in going to Castletown and lecturing there last Wednesday. I lost my voice it is a wretchedly imbecile condition to be in. I held out for an hour in a sort of bubble-and-squeak fashion, then collapsed. With the kindest and most delightful of hosts, all I could do was to poke about on the edge of an extinct volcano, and try to recover the ' Lost Chord.' But I didn't hook it up from the 13apa0poV, nor have I yet. Very dismal! though, as no one expects me to speak, I feel it as a kind of holiday. I promise you I shall never attempt to lecture again.
. . . George Moore has no earthly right to treat Stevenson in that fashion 1. It seems to me a hideous performance, jumping upon the coffin, not even waiting to dance upon the grave. Moreover I think his criticism is all wrong.
My friend Mr. Quine has brought out his Captain of the Parish, a Manx story. It is very good indeed, and we are rallying round the flag, and making a great row with fife and drum. All we can do will be little enough to overcome that prejudice against a prophet in his own country,1 which seems so inevitable, and is surely so unjust. Quine's women are exquisite. To feel this I am sure that you must be initiated into the medium. It is only fair that we should have some compensation for having been born in such an out-of-the-way place-born, one might say, so eccentrically. It is an every-day experience to flush a prejudice here-to send a whole covey flying promiscuous, or as some one said the other day, to ' rouse the early hen-roost.'
Now, for some paltry reason or another, though born to an inheritance of prejudices, swathed with them, encaudled with them, they irritate me beyond all bearance. And the reason is simply that I am so complex and ivnpedi?us with them. They seem to me to be so respectable, so strong, so grounded on the nature of things, that is, of me.
1 A reference to an article sent him.
RAMSEY, May 9, 1897.
Yes, it is a garden, I mean; and I'll swear mine is not amiss. For wallflowers, I brook no trifling. Come, number me them, measure me them, ' colour' me them. You shall see, sir, you shall see. . . .
That reminds me-lilies of the valley ? Yes! oh yes! Li-li-es of , certainly. Perhaps they're not in flower yet; but they are lilies of the valley, are they not? However, I wouldn't give my Cowslips for all the Lilies in creation. It is true they came the other day from Nash House, picked by E. But there's something in that-eh? picked, do you mark me? by E. ; I said by E., didn't I ? All right. They don't smell. No, of course they don't. This starveling of a climate won't give them a chance. But our servant Alice 'stood and exclaimed at them," growin' wile, them beautiful things, growin' wile.'
And Alice, too, is a flower. You must see her. A magnificent creature, 'grew to a dot,' as they say here, shapely they mean, ' moves like a piece of poethry.' By Jove! I've quoted myself, so I'll stop.
The Quantock country, from Crowcombe over to Stowey, I flatter myself I know well, and I recognize it in your charming sketch. ' Clear in an east wind.' Precisely; and what can be more keenly splendid? On the Quantocks, though, it is well to be alone, and to wander late into the dark. The solitude brings up the blessed company of Wordsworth and Coleridge. And there is a parity, a balance of the men and the landscape. More, I think, than at the Lakes. The lake scenery rather absorbs the figures, in whatever relation you place them. But on the Quantocks I have felt them at my side, talked with them, yearned as I couldn't yearn in presence of the big hills. In Cumberland, when alone, there is always for me a sensation of a Brocken Gespenst, the eighteenthcentury mountain horror.
On the Quantocks I feel fairies all round me, the good folk, meet companions for young poets. How Coleridge, more especially, fits in to such surroundings!
Fairies,' say you. Well, ' there's odds o' fairies,' and of the sort I mean Coleridge was the absolute Puck. Puck,' says you. ' For shame,' says you. No, d-n it! 'I'll stick to that. 'There's odds o' fairies'; and often enough I think the world is nothing else; 'troops, societies,' hierarchies-S. T. C. a supreme hierarch ; look at his face; think of meeting him at midnight between Stowey and Alfoxden, like a great white owl, soft and plumy, with eyes of flame ! . . .
Stick to it, my Worthington! Observe the vagations of drops, carry your acumen into far fields, be patient, wait upon Nature with a plusquam-Baconian JAWEVT6K~. Meanwhile I am by your side, a mist, a cloud, an unutterable old goose! Love to you all. Delighted to hear such good accounts of R.
RAMSEY, May 10, 1897.
Will ye be gud now? will ye ? T'day that's theer ! Just botherin' an oul' man, that's what you're afther ; I know ye. . . .
As a picture of the Mormon migration 1, you advance another and a later impression; the fair-spoken young Proselytiser of whom you have an imperfect recollection. These men had to be cautious, draw in their horns, be more vague and less enthusiastic in their promises. I have met men of this kind. They neither professed nor excited vehement religious feeling. The old Mormons did.
A.'s failure to represent this is, I think, part of his reluctance to deal with the common people. He sits entrenched in Arrosey, its broad acres, its well-to-do folk. I'm not sure that he's wrong about this. It is as it affects the fortunes of (this class), not as it involves the fate of Tom, Dick, and Harry, that the Mormon migration interests us.
I am sorry you do not feel with me the subtle method with which handles his scenery, not flinging it down in great masses, diffusing it, humanizing it, making it live and glow.
For my own part, I confess my own utter inability to paint the scenery in this masterly way.
But now we come to the real root of the matter. How can you admire 'Lizzy ' ? Admire is a cold word. I love Lizzy. And here our quarrel is hopeless. You don't like-divils ; I do. Lizzy is a magnificent divil. Indeed, I fancy you will find that, as regards Lizzy, you are in an overwhelming minority. Do consider what you are thinking of. Evidently, as in fact you admit, ' an ordinary good and decent girl.' Lizzy is meant to be nothing of the sort. It does not follow that she is to be an extraordinarily indecent girl. Oh dear no; just a divil. But about divils I can see that the difference in our conceptions is radical. Until you can look upon such a creature, breathless and alarmed for her, loving her, yearning over her, blaming her, slapping her, in an awful state as to what is going to become of her-the young wretch, the Divil (give her a capital!), I respectfully decline to discuss the question further. . . .
As you threaten to strike, I see the face of Mrs. Grundy. Yes, Mrs. Grundy, a modified, but clearly perceptible Mrs. Grundy. She's been there all along. I didn't like to mention it; but excuse me, ladies, let me introduce you-'Mrs. Grundy, Miss Graves; Miss Graves, Mrs. Grundy.' And to think it's come to that-aw dear!
1 He is talking of The Captain of the Parish, as in the last letter to Miss Graves (p. 202).
RAMSEY, May 13, 1897.
To-day I got out into the Curraghs, and picked some bog-bean, the very perfection of a lovely flower complicated to an exquisite delicacy both of form and colour. I picked my specimens to a fine accompaniment of cuckoos, not so numerous as usual; but think of the thermometer!
Meanwhile, unknown to me, but not far off, was a party of archaeologists endeavouring to unearth a fossil elk. I don't know yet whether they were successful. I was endeavouring to unearth a delightful old Manxman whom I met in the wilderness. He reminded me of Wordsworth's leech-gatherer.
My children were with a picnic up Glen Aldhyn. They returned curiously puzzled, partly pleased, partly displeased with the consummate form shown by certain babes of tender years. The ' specialitë 'was the type of prig. The little folk had the manners and diction of grown-up people, as described in genteel novels, lives of goodie-goodie young persons, published some seventy years ago.
Sandford and Merton were not in it. ' I trust, Miss Brown, that there is now a prospect, however remote, of an amelioration in the weather' (textual) may be taken as a sample. Yet these weird animalcules were really good as gold, and intoxicated with happiness. And you will admit that the fault was on the right side. Good manners-a positive apotheosis of manners which was saved by its rarity from being ludicrous. So I defend them, and their careful parents and trainers.
Much novel-reading makes me, if not mad, yet dreadfully immoral. Most of these critters can write though. Is it not amazing the widespread skill which obtains in this art? They all shout out together, and it is difficult to appreciate the pretensions for the very row they make. A sumptuary law is much required. One private Lex may be passed, and that is to write no book oneself. That would tend to make the air clearer, and strengthen the faculty of judgment, which just now seems to be going to the devil in a mighty hurry.
And yet I am going to ask you to look at a Novel just written by a friend. Should you come across The Captain of the Parish, by J. Quine, I hope you will like it. It is written by a scholar, yet does not obtrude the scholarship. But I must not worry you. Wait until I send you my copy-wait till-but no, no! What's the good? Let it wait with a few thousand others, souls prisoned beneath the altar. The whole sacrarium resounds with their cries-Lord, how long?'
This cold is frightful.
RAMSEY, May 15, 1897.
Poor Laxey ! I wish I could tell you what I feel -the noble spirit of the people, the solemn sadness that has been brooding over their desolate homes' ! That dear brave Kewley 2. I long to catch the pulse of the mountain heart and to drink in the depths of the sorrow. . . Poor darling old Laxey ! A vale of Baca indeed! God help and comfort you all!
1 The Snaefell Mine disaster.
2 Captain Kewley, of Snaefell Mines, acted well, and certainly inspired the men in the attempts to rescue the suffocating or suffocated miners.-J. Q.
RAMSEY, May 18, 1897.
Knocked you down ! kicked you ! Aw no! no! nawthin o' the surt ! Juss wantin to get you into the same way of thinking as myself.
I don't mean to settle this here and now. I want not to insult, or hector, or bully, or for a moment figure as a superior person, a critic, a swell, a trained bruiser. Let us take counsel together, not argue; and let us study this question about Genius. I feel quite sure of my ground, my instinctive ground. And I look to you to help me in laying it out by way of rational demonstration.
RAMSEY, May a1, 1897
. . . The Darley 1 is wonderful. It flashes all over. A little of his stammering has found its way into his style, if indeed he has any style. How anticipatory he is! A veritable flying-fish, he takes flights across our bows, phosphor flights, and then down into the depths. I wish though he would keep more en ëvidence. There's an awful lot of gorgeous muddle in his track. But I have enjoyed the gleaming phenomena more than I can tell....
Hang these dramatists! They sniff at anything that is not legitimate drama, as if drama and tale meant the same thing. You saw George Moore the other day, and his attack on Stevenson. These fellows are drawing nigh to the very sanctities. The cry will very soon be, perhaps already is, 'The ark of Scott is taken.' If so, I shall be a broken-hearted old Eli. But can't you young men come to the rescue without dreading the fate of Uzzah ?
1 Nepenthe, by George Darley, London, 1897.-H. F. B.
RAMSEY, May 28, 1897
1 return the letter, which is quite charming. Now do you believe? It doesn't matter to me whom you trust, provided you were to be of a right mind.
But I have still in view the thesis I have started. I will only suggest one point bearing upon the subject. 'Genius is intellectual, not moral.' For instance, it seems probable that the greatest genius in the universe is the Devil.
RAMSEY, June 6, 1897.
On Friday I had a sail from Ramsey to Douglas quite glorious! Hardly a soul on board. I ' smooked forrard.' Landing at Douglas ' I whusked' (a faint reminiscence of other and better days steamed up from the tumbler), I walked to Braddan churchyard, and had a second pipe by my father's grave. Then walked on to the Asylum, where I saw my old servant, peaceful enough, but such eyes, prepared to flash! I walked among these innocents, conducted by the doctor, a very nice fellow indeed. I got the train, but first had an extremely pleasant talk with the station-master. I unearthed him, dug, at least, fairly deep into his ancestral roots (Manxmen can't meet anywhere without doing that), made out who he was, and of whom; and, distinctly cheered by the mutual handling of these pedigrees, I took my seat for Crosby, three miles further on. Met at station by two of the oldest friends I have in the world (two brothers, both parsons). I got a cup of tea, and genealogies galore, venerable and accustomed jokes, the myths of inveterate, if invertebrate familiarity. Oh, how good they are for one! The vicar is an old bachelor. I saw and made much of his pets in the back garden. They were two gulls and a cat. The vicar's fondling is funny. He grasps a gull by the bill, dexterously anticipating the gull's nip. Then there is the devil to pay. The gull screams positively with delight and affection, not- in anger. The vicar prays you take notice of his dexterity, and the game is continued, or repeated. The brother is an old master, emertius, but still living at R.
We didn't talk much shop. The dear old vicar was a non-conductor of such rubbish. Nay, sir, we were true to ourselves and to one another, meeting, as a rule, only once a year. The genealogies have to be cleared (like the cleaning of gravestones) every time. That is the first necessity. Then we laugh and cry like children. How homely it is ! how Manx !
You never before told me anything about the book 1. Gyatulor. Also blessed are you in that A copy of the Imitation. keenly discerning and exquisitely sympathizing sister who so thoroughly knows your weaknesses 1.
1 The particular ' weakness' was 'crushed Levant,' in which the Imitation was bound.
RAMSEY, June 8, 1897.
I went by the Fairy to Douglas on Friday last. We called at Laxey. How exquisite it looked! how sad! ...
At Braddan, the other day, I had a very sweet dream-the Nunnery, the Clyp, Saddle, Churchyard (pipe by my father's grave), Strang, Union Millswhether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell -finishing up at Marown Vicarage. As long as I can 'beat the bounds' in this fashion, I ought not to lose heart. Nor d I for the matter of that. Come and see me! But here is different from a walk by Chibber-y-Pherrick and Nickesen ! and a nice cup-o'-tay' at the Vicarage, and a peep at dear old R., and a lovely all-round cooish (chat, crack), looking up at Snaefell from his back window....
To imagine is your function, and with a view to that to eliminate the personal. Your imagination is a strong one; but as yet I should say untrained. Call upon it, and you will have a reply in the form of treasures as yet undreamt of. Reject the bribe of the actual, still more the obviousness of the factual, and dig deep. Manx soil down to the Manx rock, but deep, that is deep. Only think, 'juss thenk ' ! ...
RAMSEY, June 15, 1897.
. . . You say you don't believe in a future state, but you have 'gleams of hope.' We are all much in the same plight. So was old Jowett, you remember. Implicit believers in the Bible are all right. Independently of revelation, the matter is a question of metaphysics, and a very subtle one. It has beset humanity from the very beginning, and (this is important) you can't lay the ghost. Rest for a moment from the pressing concerns of the present life, and there you are, you and your question. It is the inevitable attitude of the soul, what one might call its obvious native polarity. 'The gleams' are blessed things, just caught at our noblest throbs and in our most ecstatic moods. That they are ecstatic, as apprehended by us, does not disprove their essential permanence. Rather it suggests the contrary. Metaphysically the balance is in favour of a future state.
To a sceptical nature like mine, the balance is everything. That is what I get from my own reflections, or rather, what I got ages ago, helped by Plato, confirmed by Butler. It was done once for all; you can't re-open these metaphysical problems. Let sleeping dogs lie.
I invite no one to go back into them with me. To those who have no aptness for metaphysical specula tions I would say, ' Stop where you are! Accept the opinion of the majority. The greatest thinkers of all ages have believed in the future state. They have thought it out for you, be content. In a hundred difficult matters you act upon similar testimony.' Rest assured it is not parsons and such folk that have passed through the region of shadows into the light of the eternal day; no, but the great fixed stars of the human race, pondering, reflecting, judicious. If, at the end of their great communings, somewhat of a rapture of intoxication has seized them, what wonder? They have seen the King in His beauty. Give them credit for honesty, for intelligence, for a sympathy with human wants, for absolute fairness, for burning love. That is how I think of them and feel towards them. With tottering steps
I have accompanied them. But that was years ago. Now I don't want to totter, but to walk steadily. Therefore I say, unhesitatingly, ' I believe.' I have encouraged the glimpses, stored them up for the periods of depression which will inevitably break in upon me. Must I always be breaking stones upon the road to heaven? examining and re-examining every inch of the way? proving every rung of the Jacob's ladder? Well, no, I have other things to do.
About Mr. , for instance, I must see as soon as I can. ' A creature of moods,' you will say. No doubt; but let me grip the moods and bind them into a habit of hopefulness and -helpfulness.
' Faith, Hope, Charity, these three,' and which is the greatest ?
RAMSEY, June 18, 1897
I wonder how many beloved old ghosts will dine together to-day.
And that reminds me of your old gentleman with, or rather without, the dog-ticket'. A priceless old darling! A thousand thanks for that impressionist picture. Do you suppose I haven't got him, and his sweet little daughter, too ? But, hang it! she needn't be little-that's just my rash way of taking fences.
I have the man here, an exact prototype, a magnificent old chap. He wanted me to play bowls with him. Six feet two is his stature; his face the handsomest, I think, I ever saw; his opinions-those of the British Army
You ask about my health. I am often very weary, and begin to feel that any exertion drains, or, at any rate, strains me. The doctor does not attend me as a regular patient; very intermittently he looks me over, and I don't like to force his reticence. Old age, perhaps, accounts for my condition, but the change has been sudden. What I could have done without a thought a year ago is now far above out of my sight. The liability to neuralgic pains is a novelty and very distressing. The onset of senility altogether is both distressing and humiliating.
Could you come and see me ? I don't think that you would find me so utterly incommensurate physically as to bore you. A complete disuse of mental intercourse is at times a necessity, but I feel sure you would understand that. We would try to make you comfortable, and sandwiches of solitude are good for us all. Of course, I shall not leave home in August and September. Do think of this. My card has grown into a sheet-the sheet garrulous-senility again !
1 A delightful fellow-traveller who charmed me equally by his oldfashioned impatience, which vented itself in a military oath, and by his old-fashioned urbanities.
RAMSEY, Judy 21, 1897.
Worthington is with us. Also glorious weather. What a change! I am a different man. This blessed old d8atpcov of a creature, d8tdywyos, 6rpa7rekos, dxapt(T7-os, everything beginning with d, he positively recreates me.
We have had some excellent walks, and we shall have more, if matters go on like this.
For instance, my stile-walk on Peel Hill-Mountains of Mourne unquestionably distinguishable, no possibility of doubt 1, as you know there sometimes is! The Curragh walk.
Delightful rencontre with ' Clerk' in Jurby Post Office (Jurby is the last squeak of expiring civilization). 'Clerk' a girl, a pretty girl, carries pen behind ear like a darling Secretary-bird. No inn within
'Goodness knows!' We summon up courage and ask for tea. Tea! (the girl is Irish). Tea it is, tea served in the neatest of parlours, the family funeral cards hung round, family silhouettes, photographs (you know) ! Tea-I believe you! and a tea-service quite lovely, and a solid silver tea-pot produced from a cabinet that would not have shamed the boudoir of a duchess.
We tea, we rise, we behold our young hostess in the garden, leaning over a hedge (how nicely they do it! and what an attitude for a well-turned ankle, and skirts that know not of mud and dust!) conversing gaily with two (ah, the two!) sweethearts sufficiently decorous.
Que faire ? To pay, to ask what we have to pay. We approach, hands fumbling in uncertain pockets.
Behold! the demoiselle will have none of it. Close at hand are the grave, serious-looking, very much interested sweethearts. They narrowly scrutinize the issue. Was it not ridiculous? She ought to have taken our money ? Perhaps so. She was not in a position to be our hostess. But why not ? We had not been introduced!! O dear old Madam Society! No, we had not, and the refusal to take money was a claim to equaliy ? However this may be, we looked awful fools. What we did was to try and re-establish something like an understanding-well, I suppose so, a basis of-call it equality. We phrased, we grimaced, we bowed, we did the drawing-room business, and so retired a good deal mortified. All they wanted was a straightforward ' Thank you!' and no more words about it.
Perhaps it was a consciousness of this failure that made me ask the next man we met the name of a farm close by (his farm, I think) without any superfluous circumlocution, yet, I trust, not impolitely. The reply was given with an abruptness, not to say a ferocity of downright insolence. I thanked him, and turning to W., said quietly, 'No waste of civility, I think.' W. says he believes he heard me. Evidently he repented his rudeness, and we could observe that he did not, while we were within hearing, resume his conversation with the friend who stood beside him. ' The Lesser Morals,' you will say. 'Lesser,' no doubt, but 'morals' and vital conditions for all that.
1 I thought I saw them once when with him, and he contemptuously proved the impossibility.
RAMSEY, July 11, 1897.
Don't be alarmed! We are all right. It is Sunday; your husband has gone to Sulby. I am resting after our walk of yesterday; and, quietly brooding over my responsibility, I think I must write to you. The responsibility is fulfilling itself charmingly, in the fact that we are both having a very happy time. That is what you meant us to have, was it not ? And the weather has taken up the matter quite seriously and interposed a guarantee of positive splendour. Upon my word this much-abused old bungler is doing her very best.
It is rather late for some of the good things. We were reminded of that yesterday in rambling through the Curragh. The bog-bean was all over, the cuckoo had gone. But certain reeds and grasses were magnificent, and your husband was so delighted that to-day he is off there again, sketching. The days are long, and, as the sun sets, 'the moon takes up the wondrous tale.' I don't expect him home much before bed-time. And when he comes he will be steeped in glowing colours. No man is more capable of these things. He will not, I think, climb much, but tarry on the plain, contemplating, ruminating.
July 19, 1897.
I went on to the Sport Venn, and tried to dream, but the flies did for me and my dreams, curse them! Afterwards I was joined by my companion, who bathed at the foot of the fall, thereby exciting my keenest envy. The sketch turned out a great success. The cottage had splendid roses standing up against the roof and the blue sea. The roses run absolute riot in Michael, and more especially in this Ballagawne Glen. is not 'a sweet old thing,' but she has her good points. One can hardly count among them her lightness of heart, when I tell you that the day we had tea with her two years ago her husband's body I hadn' left the door above a week' a terrible old wife of Bath, but ' navar mind.' The lek is in, and well they are when ye consider what they've got to do. But the 'sweet oul'thing' came from another cottage. My friend sketched her cottage too. She was quite the reverse of Madam . Not over-neat, no! laak she'd forgot or tuk on the sudden lek. Ready to pour out her soul in tender fluency. Sweet? Ah, that woman was sweet. Slatternly? Well, no, not azakly ither. Not dressed ? Well, not to speak of, but rich in personal charm. Teeth? Well, if you insist, no then, and be qui(e)te, will ye ? Eyes? Heaven itself, only brown, not blue. Kindest remembrances to .
RAMSEY, July 22, 1897
Blessed be you in your land of trees, also waterlilies, sunshine, 'sedulous and accomplished gardeners.' F. is greatly concerned about having missed you. Already he has sketched out a Jurby and Andreas visitation. It will include the hospitable post-mistress, and the churl at Ballavanane. We want to see whether he is really churl, and to reserve a locals poeniYentiåe for him. We shall flash upon him with full clerical splendour.
This is to help the resipiscential process, though I'm not sure that he does not owe me an apology as the mere shabby old tripper, the character in which I must abide in his memory, if I abide at all. . . .
About the Manx woman we met in the coach. I was quite right. Sure enough she was the only Manx woman there, and as proud as old Harry. She is a splendid gardener, sells fruit, &c.
As reason would have it, she has sundry scarecrows in her garden. It pleased F. to discover in these a source of decorous clerical mirth. 'Are all these yours?'-, your children?' Suddenly the babes tottered from behind a bush. Solvuntur tabulae risu. Did you think she had that laugh in her?
RAMSEY, August 2, 1897.
Yesterday I went to --. A nice man there. He is an old scholar. Imagine my surprise when he began to talk most intelligently and charmingly of Homer. You might have knocked me down with a feather. Moreover, he used the compendious scholarly words which save so much trouble, lighten the atmosphere, and make one feel at home. You were quite safe in talking about the Wolfian Thesis, and calling so-and-so a Dichotomist without further periphrasis. The ceiling fairly trembled with the sounds.
The old Scotch scholar's daughter sat with us, very bright and sympathetic.
Father and daughter were delightful, and didn't we christen the house with some pedantries in the fullness of our hearts, notwithstanding the staleness of our Hellenic vocabularies. I really felt myself twenty years younger.
RAMSEY, August 7, 1897.
Yes, I must plead guilty to considerable vagabondage on a small Manx scale; nothing like yours though On July 25, I drove over to Lonan with a friend Horatio Brown. Lunched at Chibber-y-Pherrick, and went down into Glen Roy and Nickesen. My friend, a full Alpine person, I am sorry to say, did not seem much taken with these little gems. What he really did admire was the view of sea and cliff at Dreemy-jees-sking. Magnificent it looked that morning. Aug. 3. Went to Vicarage, and found you and Mrs. Quine were not at home. We continued to Chibber ; lunched (now habitual). . . . Afterwards, at Laxey, I never saw such a scene 2. It reminded me of Lourdes on a day of high festival. Good gracious! then up to God's silence and the eternal decencies. Through Agneash we ascended to the col between Slieu Ouyr and Slieu Lhean making for the N. Snaefell mine and the Corony stream. Here it got dark. I could have sworn I could hit the track blindfolded. However, ' no such thing' if you please. You should bear on the left when you get on the level. Ever so little on the right, and there you are right down to Ballig, a beastly system of concatenated stone walls-the very deuce!
1 After my return from Scotland with the Right Hon. R. J. Seddon, of New Zealand.-J. Q.
2 The visiting season, and Laxey full of trippers.-J. Q.
RAMSEY, August 7, 1897.
About Bernard Grenfell's find. I can't get rid of suspicion as to the motive of compiling these Xdyta. Suppose an early century, when gnostic disputes were dividing the Church, what would be more probable than collections of Xdyta made by the opposite factions, with the view of appropriating the authority of Xt. ? And what more probable than forgery? In such an age these fiery controversialists would make no scruple of inventing any blessed thing. And fancy Egypt! the very country for such spawn.
RAMSEY, September 3, 1897
I have often seen Brougham Castle, but only from the line. The river Eamont, or Lowther (which?) is beautiful there. And all these things I shall never see again. ' I cannot but remember such things were.' Well, never mind: what they have been to me, they are and will be to others. Keep up the cultus
You are a perfect pilgrim. All points of the compass take you.
And the Roman wall: that, too, I shall never see. The High Force I have seen, and liked it very much.
I well remember the effect of the junipers growing about the Fall-quite a foreign look I thought.
'Q.' has been entrusted with one of Stevenson's stories to finish. Not Weir of Hermiston, though. That must not be touched till the Resurrection Morn. Did you tell me of this, or was it Hall Caine? I have just been to Douglas with my teeth !! Remember me very kindly to Mr. and Mrs. Baker. PS.-Your exquisite roses from Oxford to hand, to eyes, to nose! We all thank you heartily.
September 19, 1897.
On Sunday last I preached at St. Matthew's, Douglas. For strength very well indeed, but as regards whether matter or manner, quite deplorably, the merest midden of wild rhetoric. That is what I am becoming. Of course I could provide against these humiliating escapades by writing my sermons. But my day is over, and I had better shut up in a profound discontent (something like that in Milton's Prose Works?).
It was very dreadful. After that I could not sleep, and what marvel? The tabes grows upon me. And I was preaching where every stone should have cried out against me. You have seen what I say of my father. Imagine such things issuing from his lips
In Douglas I called upon A. M. [A W Moore] He was just about to entertain some Americans to dinner. I sat down with them. They belonged to Denver City, such nice, quiet, modest people, men and women. I find I always get on with Americans. Perhaps you will say that, upon my confession above, it is easy to see why. But I said they were quiet and modest. Was my sermon that?
RAMSEY, September 23, 1897
I believe I am coming to England on October 1. Such has been the motive power of Clifton friends partly they urged, partly they demonstrated to me my renewed energies. Brief, I come. First it will be Wales, however, to October q.-Tannyralt near Abergele, with my grand-niece. Then to Clifton. 'Yiss, indeed '-on W.'s wedding day. . . .
I have had another climb; dux femina facts, and again Slieu Whallian and Glen May, and again a disaster, and only nine miles of mountain. No doubt I must give up all this kind of thing. . . .
The summer dies rather like myself, hard, invitus. October will play the deuce with it. I dare say I had better stay at home. However, I am overpersuaded: so here goes! Old R. came to see me from Laxey on Tuesday. He climbed Snaefell by tramcar, then walked down from the top by the new Douglas road. He was as fresh as paint. . . .
I can now reckon up my gains. Mozley, Worthington, Hor. Brown, Irwin, Hanby Hay, Wollaston, and Sandy with Tait. Not a bad lot, sir ! N.B.-Very kindest regards to Mrs. Worthington, to Robert, Charlotte, Margaret (deliciõlae.n.
RAMSEY, September 28, 1897.
Your memory, as regards correspondence, is ferocious and relentless: I am a very leaky vessel.
I suppose this arises from the fact that you are a keen anecdotist-a collector-and I am not. You know how I enjoy a good story, but I have not the animus of retention.
In this commerce I am singularly inept. Indeed you must have observed it in my conversation.
I expect to be in Clifton on October q..
Henley intends, I hear, a collected edition of his poems. He is right: his place is ready, and a high one-higher, I fancy, than his contemporaries would assign him.
That S. looks forward to work this Term, I confess, makes me feel uncomfortable. What a thoroughbred he is! I suppose he will not be put off his purpose.
Greet him warmly from me. Let there not be a word of discouragement, nothing but my heartiest congratulations.
About the Grenfell memorial-I am most anxious to be included among the subscribers.
Poor dear old fellow! I shall hope to see Moor's grave; but I can never hope to see his.
To sit at a masters' meeting would greatly please me. But I don't think ' the like' has ever been done so I abandon the idea no sooner than penned.
I remember Mayor's mimicry.
At his age, I was much given to such joys. Even now I feel like an old horse who scents the battle, or something ' similar the same.'
RAMSEY, September 30, 1897.
Your sketch of the Islay interior very charming. . . . Mr. Kerrnish [sic Kerruish], of Cleveland (i.e. Ohio, U.S.A.), entertained Hanby Hay, when the great oration was delivered about this time last year 2. Hanby reported, &c. , some of you young people ought to go to Cleveland. It would be delightful. At Arthur Moore's the other day I met certain Americans called Mather (lineal descendants of ' Cotton'). They were a very good sort. I purpose crossing to Liverpool tomorrow, if all be well, en route for Abergele, Clifton, and London. Can you promise me decent weather? All in good time-The Captain will win its way in America, as elsewhere, on its sterling merits.
1 The only postcard I ever received from him. It struck me as strange, unusual. I did not think then, though I knew he was not his old self, that it was to be the last.-J. Q.
2 Really at Christmas.-J. Q.
26 COLLEGE ROAD, October 27,1897
Sure enough here I am, and you are right entirely. I left the Island on Oct.1, and I shall be leaving here on Saturday, Oct. 30, for Liverpool. Then I hope to see my nephew and his family, and go to hybernation.
Stayed first with the Wollastons for ten days, then withdrew to Cardiff, where I put up at my sister's for another ten days, went to Dean Vaughan's funeral, and called upon our old Clifton Vaughan. Then I came back to Clifton on Monday last. Poor Jupp was in extremis, died the same evening about 9.30. . . .
He is to be buried in Sutherlandshire l, where his brother is the clergyman....
This flight straight across the unsympathetic latitudes! ... At the chapel, and away, away into the long night alone.
Influenza 2, and two other masters down and the doctors nonplussed.
Tait, Wollaston and I are going to-night to a Richter 3 concert. We are not in much fettle for it. Your long and delightful letter meets with but a poor equivalent in this hasty scrawl. But I will write again. I ought to say, though, there is no chance of my coming round by Haslemere.
1 A mistake, Sunderland it was.-H. G. D.
2 It proved to be typhoid, the origin of which was traced.-H. G. D.
3 He enjoyed the Richter concert. This was Wednesday. He himself died the following Friday night.-H. G. D.
[This, I think, must have been his last letter to any one. On the Thursday he dined with me and seemed his usual bright self, and read one of his poems at my sister's request, but did not finish it, saying he was tired. He was staying with Mr. Tait, and on Friday evening gave an address to the boys of his House. He spoke for some minutes with great vigour, then suddenly his voice grew thick, and he seemed to stagger. He died in less than two hours.]