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Title: Auld lang syne

Author: F. Max Müller

Release date: July 13, 2022 [eBook #68517]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: C. Scribner's Sons, 1898

Credits: Richard Tonsing and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


Transcriber’s Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.


F. Max Müller


The Rt. Hon. Professor F. MAX MÜLLER
New York
Copyright, 1898, by


What are you to do when you are sent away by your doctor for three or four weeks of perfect rest? You are made to promise that you will lie perfectly fallow, take no books and allow no proofsheets to reach you. A very eminent German professor, the late Dr. Neander, the famous Church historian, solved the difficulty in his own way. He had faithfully promised his physician that he would take no books with him to Karlsbad, but had at last, as a great favour, obtained permission to take at least one work with him on his journey. On the morning of his departure the doctor wished to say good-bye to his patient, and calling at his door saw a cart laden with heavy folios. “But, dear professor,” he said, with considerable surprise and displeasure, “you had promised me to take no books with you.” “Yes, doctor,” the professor replied, “but you allowed me one work, so I thought I might take the Fathers with me to Karlsbad.” I might have done the same, if I had taken the “Rig Veda” only, or the Sacred Books of the East with vime, but my conscience would not allow it, so that I found myself in small lodgings at an English watering place with nothing to do all day long but to answer a number of accumulated letters and to read The Times, which always follows me. What was I to do? Doctors ought to know that to a man accustomed to work enforced rest is quite as irritating and depressing as travaux forcés. In self-defence I at last hit on a very simple expedient. I began to write what could be written without a single book, and taking paper, pen and ink—these I had never forsworn—I jotted down some recollections of former years. The fancy took me, and I said with Goethe:—

Ihr naht euch wieder, schwankende Gestalten—

and after a day or two I was so absorbed in my work, if work it could be called, that I said again with Goethe:—

Ihr drängt euch zu! Nun gut, so mögt ihr walten....

Of course I had to leave many a gap in my sketch of Auld Lang Syne. Dates, even names, would now and then leave me in the lurch, and as I had no means of verifying anything, I had to wait till I was settled again among my books and letters and papers at home. But though I corrected some glaring anachronisms and some mistaken names, I viicould leave my MS. very much as it had been written down in my temporary exile, and I can therefore vouch for its truth so far that it is an exact copy of the negative developed by long exposure in my memory. Whether it is accurate, who can tell? I know from sad experience that my memory is no longer what it was. All I can say is that the positive copy here published is as true and as exact as the rays of the evening sun of life, falling on the negative in my memory, could make it. Though I have suppressed whatever could possibly have given offence to any sensible person, however sensitive, I have not retouched the pictures of my friends or acquaintances, nor have I tried, as is now so much the fashion, to take out all the lines and wrinkles so that nothing remains but the washed-out faces of angels.

What I give here is but a small portion of the panorama of life that has passed before my eyes. Of myself there is but little, for the spectator or interpreter in a panorama should remain unseen and in the dark. It is a pleasure to him, though often a sad pleasure, to see once more what he has seen before, to live the old time over again, to look once more at dear faces, once so full of love and life, to feel the touch of a vanished hand, and hear a voice that is still.

As we grow old it is our fate to lose our friends; viiibut the friends we have lost are often nearer to us than those who remain. Will they never be quite near to us again? Stars meet stars after thousands of years, and are we not of more value than many a star?



Musical Recollections 1
Literary Recollections  
  I. 40
 II. 86
III. 120
 IV. 164
Recollections of Royalties  
  I. 205
 II. 245
Beggars 289
Index 321


The man that has no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils:
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted.

Thus wrote Shakespeare; but with all due respect for the immortal bard, he was wrong for once. Did not my dear friend, Arthur Stanley, hate music, and was he not to be trusted? Were his affections dark as Erebus?

True it is, music gives us a new life, and to be without that life is the same loss as to be blind, and not to know the infinite blue of the sky, the varied verdure of the trees, or the silver sparkle of the sea. Music is the language of the soul, but it defies interpretation. It means something, but that something belongs not to this world of sense and logic, but to another world, quite real, though 2beyond all definition. How different music is from all other arts! They all have something to imitate which is brought to us by the senses. But what does music imitate? Not the notes of the lark, nor the roar of the sea; they cannot be imitated, and if they are, it is but a caricature. The melodies of Schubert were chosen, not from the Prater, but from another world.

For educational purposes music is invaluable. It softens the young barbarian, it makes him use his fingers deftly, it lifts him up, it brings him messages from another world, it makes him feel the charm of harmony and beauty. There is no doubt an eternal harmony that pervades every kind of music, and there are the endless varieties of music, some so strange that they seem hardly to deserve to be called a gift of the Muses. There is in music something immortal and something mortal. There is even habit in music; for the music that delights us sounds often hideous to uneducated ears.

Indian music is thoroughly scientific, based on mathematics, and handed down to the present age after many centuries of growth. But when we hear it for the first time, it seems mere noise, without melody, without harmony, without rhythm. The Maoris have their own music too, but send a New Zealander to hear a long symphony of Beethoven, 3and, if he can, he will certainly run away long before the finale.

In a lesser degree it is the same with us. Beethoven’s compositions were at first considered wild and lawless. Those who admired Mozart and Haydn could not endure him. Afterwards the world was educated up to his Ninth Symphony, but some of his later sonatas for pianoforte and violin were played by Mendelssohn and David in my hearing, and they both shrugged their shoulders, and thought that the old man had been no longer quite himself when he wrote them. We have grown into them, or up to them, and now many a young man is able to enjoy them, and to enjoy them honestly. I remember the time when Schumann’s songs were published at Leipzig, and the very same songs which now delight us were then by the best judges called curious, strange, interesting, promising, but no more. Yes, there is habit in music, and we are constantly passing through a musical education; nay, the time comes when our education seems finished, and we can learn and take in no more. I have passed through a long school. I began with Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, lived on with Mendelssohn, rose to Schumann, and reached even Brahms; but I could never get beyond, I could never learn to enjoy Wagner except now and then in one of his lucid 4intervals. No doubt this is my fault and my loss, but surely the vulgus profanum also has its rights and may protest against being tired instead of being refreshed and invigorated by music. Would Mendelssohn have admired Wagner? Would Beethoven have listened to his music, would Bach have tolerated it? Yet these were musicians too, though perhaps not sufficiently educated. To be honest, a great deal of Wagner’s music seems tiresome to me, and I do not see why it should ever end.

My musical education began very early, so early that I cannot remember ever passing through any drudgery. As long as I remember I could play, and I was destined to become a musician, till I went to the University, and Mendelssohn advised me to keep to Greek and Latin. I was born and brought up in Dessau, a small German town in an oasis of oak-trees where the Elbe and the Mulde meet, a town then overflowing with music. Such towns exist no longer.

When I went to school at Dessau, this small capital of the small Duchy of Anhalt-Dessau counted, I believe, not more than ten or twelve thousand inhabitants. Everybody knew everybody. As a boy I knew not only the notables of Dessau, I knew the shops and the shopmen, the servants, the day-labourers (Tagelöhner) who 5sawed and split wood in the street, every old woman that sold apples, every beggar that asked for a Pfennig—mark, not a penny, but the tenth part of a penny. It was a curious town, with one long street running through it, the Cavalierstrasse, very broad, with pavements on each side. But the street had to be weeded from time to time, there being too little traffic to prevent the grass from growing up between the chinks of the stones. The houses had generally one storey only; those of two or three storeys were mostly buildings erected by the Duke for his friends and his higher officials. Many houses were mere cottages, consisting of a ground floor and a high roof. Almost every house had a small mysterious looking-glass fastened outside the window in which the dwellers within could watch and discuss an approaching visitor long before he or she came within speaking distance. It was the fashion not only to whitewash the plastered walls of houses, but to green-wash, or to blue-wash, or to pink-wash them. All this is changed now; few people remember the old streets, with distant lamps swinging across to make darkness more visible at night, and with long waterspouts frowning down on the pavement like real gurgoyles, and not frowning only, but during a thunderstorm pouring down buckets of water on the large red and green umbrellas of the passers-by.

6Dessau was then a very poor town, but a læta paupertas reigned in it; everybody knew how much everybody else possessed or earned, and no one was expected to spend more than was justified by his position. We can hardly understand now with how little people then managed, not only to live, but thoroughly to enjoy the highest pleasures of life. My grandfather, who was the Duke’s Prime Minister, received, I believe, no more than two thousand thalers (£300) salary, though there may have been additional allowances for rent, carriages and horses. But there was a curious mixture of simplicity of life and enjoyments of the highest kind. I remember in my grandfather’s house delightful social gatherings, musical and literary performances. I remember Mozart’s “Don Juan,” Beethoven’s “Fidelio” being performed there, the latest works of Goethe and Jean Paul being read and appreciated with a cup of tea or a glass of wine. A more select circle enjoyed their Shakespeare, their Dante, their Calderon in English, Italian, and Spanish. I remember my grandfather (the son of Basedow, the reformer of national education in Germany) in his Court uniform, driving to Court in his carriage and pair, servants in full livery, everybody making room for him and bowing deep on each side, hat in hand. And when he came back from Court, 7was it not a real holiday for his grandchildren to turn the pockets of his uniform inside out—the pockets were lined on purpose with soft leather—to see what bonbons and cakes he had brought home for us from Tafeli.e., dinner at Court? Almost my first recollections come from my grandfather’s house. My mother, after the very early death of my father, who died before I was four years old, had gone back to live at her father’s house. This was a very common arrangement then. Two or three generations often lived together in the same house, and among the better families the house was looked upon as a common home, descending from father to son and grandson. There was a large garden stretching out behind the house, which was our playground. Our neighbours’ gardens were separated on each side from our own by a low hedge only. Next door to us was the house of a soap and candle maker, and I still remember the disagreeable smells on the day when soap was boiled and candles were drawn. People talked across the garden hedge to their neighbours, and all the affairs of the town were discussed there. Our neighbour on the right side took lodgers, and one of them was a young man who had come to Dessau to study music under F. Schneider, and at the same time to give music lessons. He had been a theological student, but 8had umgesattelt (changed saddles), and now tried to support himself as best he could at Dessau. He often talked to me across the garden hedge (I was only five years old). One day he lifted me across into his own garden, and asked whether I would like to learn the pianoforte. I, of course, said yes, and he then bade me promise to come to him every day for half an hour, but not to say a word to my mother or to anybody else. The bargain was struck; I kept my music quite secret, till, after about half a year or so, I sat down at my grandfather’s pianoforte, and to the amazement of everybody played some easy pieces of Mozart or Diabelli. Of course the young theological student—his name was Kahle—was engaged at once to be my music-master. He charged five Groschen (sixpence) for a lesson, and I made very rapid progress. My mother was very musical; she had a splendid alto voice, and was often invited to sing the solos at the great musical festivals in Germany. My aunts, too, sang very well, and as a little boy I could sing all the songs which they sang, and well remember being put on a table to sing Händel’s great arias, “Schnell wie des Blitzes Strahl,” etc. Dessau at that time was steeped in music.

The reigning Duke kept a first-rate orchestra, and at the head of it was Friedrich Schneider, a well-known composer of the old school, a cantor, 9like Bach, but also Ducal Capellmeister, and the head of what was then called a musical school, now a conservatorium. This school was frequented by students from all parts of Germany, and it has produced some excellent musicians and well-known composers. There were public concerts given regularly every fortnight at a very low charge, and there were rehearsals twice a week, at which a few people only were allowed to be present. I was one of the few, and every Tuesday and Friday after school I sat there for an hour or two hearing the very best music excellently performed, and being deeply impressed, nay, awed by old Schneider, who stormed at the players when a single note went wrong, and used language which I was not allowed to repeat. He was a character. A small, square man, with greyish hair flowing down to his shoulders, his black eyes full of fire, and sometimes of fury. He was very fond of his glass of wine, which had given to his whole face, and particularly to his nose, a glowing ruddy complexion. He brooked no opposition from anybody, and he was the terror of all the young musicians who showed themselves at Dessau. His orchestra had such a reputation at that time that some of the greatest celebrities considered it an honour either to have their compositions performed or to be allowed to sing or play at his concerts. 10I remember Paganini, Sonntag, Spohr, Mendelssohn (then quite a young man), and many more passing through their ordeal at Dessau. Mendelssohn’s visit left a deep impression on my mind. I was still a mere child, he a very young man, and, as I thought, with the head of an angel. Mendelssohn’s was always a handsome face, but later in life the sharpness of his features betrayed his Jewish blood. He excelled as an organ player, and while at Dessau he played on the organ in the Grosse Kirche, chiefly extempore. I was standing by him, when he took me on his knees and asked me to play a choral while he played the pedal. I see it all now as if it had been yesterday, and I felt convinced at that time that I too (anch’ io) would be a musician. Was not Weber, Karl Maria von Weber, my godfather, and had he not given me my surname of Max? My father and mother had been staying with Weber at Dresden, and my father had undertaken to write the text for a new opera, which was never finished. Weber was then writing his “Freischütz,” and my mother has often described to me how he would walk about the whole day in his room composing, not before the pianoforte, but with a small guitar, and how she heard every melody gradually emerging from the twang of his little instrument. Both his wife and my mother were 11expecting their confinement, and it was arranged that if the children should be boys, they should be called Max, if girls, Agathe. We were both boys, and Weber’s son, Max Maria von Weber, became a distinguished traveller, a most charming writer, and at last an influential financier in the Austrian service. He stayed with me several times at Oxford, and we exchanged notes about our respective fathers. He published a life of his father, which has, I believe, been translated into English.

Old Schneider was kind to young Mendelssohn, whenever he came to Dessau; they were both ardent admirers of Händel and Bach, but the more modern and romantic compositions of the young composer did not quite meet the approval of the severe Maestro. Schneider was terribly outspoken, and apt to lose his temper and become violent. He once had a most painful scene with Madame Sonntag, or rather with Countess Something, as she was then. First of all, he thought very little of any composer whose name ended in ini or ante, and he would but seldom yield to the Duke and Duchess when they wished now and then to have some of Rossini’s or Mercadante’s music performed by their own orchestra. But when the Italian Countess ventured to speak to his orchestra and to ask them for a ritardando of her own, he flourished his bâton and broke out: 12“Madame,” he said, “you may sing as you like, but I look after of my orchestra,” and there was an end of it.

Life went on, and what time I could spare from school work, perhaps too much, was given to music. There was not an air or a symphony of Beethoven’s which at that time I could not have hummed from beginning to end, and even now I often detect myself humming, “Ich bin’s, du bist’s, O himmlisches Entzücken!” Who does not know that duet between Fidelio and Florestan? Much of that humming repertorio has remained with me for life, though I cannot always tell now where an Allegro or Adagio comes from. It comes without being called, I cannot drive it away when I want to be quiet. I hum the bass, I whistle the piccolo, I draw out the notes from the violoncello, I blow the trumpet, in fact I often feel like Queen Bess, “And she shall have music wherever she goes.”

When I was about eleven or twelve, old Schneider allowed me to play with accompaniment of the full orchestra some concertos of Mozart, etc. This was a great event in my quiet life, and everything looked as if music was to be my profession. When afterwards I went to the Nicolai School at Leipzig, the school at which Leibniz (not Leibnitz) had been educated, I lived again in the 13musical house of Professor Carus. His wife sang sweetly; his son, my old friend, Professor V. Carus, was an excellent violin player, a pupil of David. I myself began to play the violoncello, but without much success, and I joined a chorus under Mendelssohn, who was then director of the famous Gewandhaus Concerts at Leipzig. We often had to sing anything he had composed and wished to hear before performing it in public. As a friend of my father and my mother, Mendelssohn was always most charming to me, but he did not encourage my idea of a musical career. The fact was I had not time to serve two masters. I could not practise and study music as it ought to be practised and studied without neglecting Greek and Latin, and, as life became more serious, my mind was more and more drawn to the thoughts of antiquity, to Homer and Cicero, and away from the delights of music. I heard excellent music at the house of Professor Carus. I still have an old slip of paper on which Mendelssohn, Liszt, David, Kalliwoda and Hiller wrote their names for me one evening after they had been playing quartettes at Professor Carus’s house. (See page 14.)


I even ventured while at Leipzig to play sometimes at public concerts in the neighbourhood. But when I began to look forward to what I should make of my life, and how I should carve out for myself a useful career, I saw that music was out of the question. There was another consideration which determined my choice. There was much deafness in my family. My mother became deaf when she was still quite young, my grandmother, several of my uncles and cousins, all had lost their hearing, and this induced me, young as I was, to choose a profession which would be possible even if I should share the same misfortune. I could not think of medicine, or law, or the Church—so I said to myself, keep to Greek and Latin, try to be 15a scholar. A professorship was my highest ambition, but I thought that even if that should fail, I might find a quiet Benedictine cell somewhere, and support myself by my pen. So music had to step into the background, not altogether, but so as not to interfere with more serious work. No, music, though somewhat slighted, has remained a true and faithful friend to me through life. I have enjoyed music until very late in life when I began to feel satisfied, and would much rather hum a symphony to myself than hear it played, often not half so well as I remembered it at Dessau, at the Gewandhaus Concerts at Leipzig, and at the marvellous Conservatoire Concerts in Paris. These were the perfection of instrumental music. Never has any other performance come near them. It was difficult to get a ticket. People used to form queue and stand the whole night in order to secure the next morning an abonnement for the season. To buy a ticket was beyond my means, for when I was at Paris I had entirely to support myself. But a friend of mine took me to the Conservatoire, and I often sat in the corridor without seeing the orchestra, listening as if to organ music. It was perfect. Every instrument of the orchestra was first-rate—the players had mostly passed through the same school, the conductor was an old man with a German name which I forget. Was it 16Habeneck? He reminded me of Schneider, and certainly his orchestra marched like a regiment of soldiers.

And besides being a constant source of the highest enjoyment to me, music has often helped me in my pilgrimage through life. Both in Paris and later on in London, many a house was open to me which would have remained closed to a mere scholar. Musicians also always took an interest in the son of the poet, Wilhelm Müller, whose songs had been set to music, not only by Schubert, but by many other popular composers. I well remember, when telling Jenny Lind whose son I was, how she held up her hands and said: “What? the son of the poet of the ‘Müllerlieder’! Now sit down,” she said, “and let me sing you the ‘Schöne Müllerin.’” And she began to sing, and sang all the principal songs of that sad idyll, just moving her head and hands a little, but really acting the whole story as no actress on the stage could have acted it. It was a perfect tragedy, and it has remained with me for life. Stockhausen also (who, as I saw too late, has just been celebrating his seventieth birthday) once sang the “Winterreise” to me in the same way, but as I had to accompany him I had only half the pleasure, though even that was great.

How many memories crowd in upon me! I 17heard Liszt when I was still at school at Leipzig. It was his first entry into Germany, and he came like a triumphator. He was young, theatrical, and terribly attractive, as ladies, young and old, used to say. His style of playing was then something quite new—now every player lets off the same fireworks. The musical critics who then ruled supreme at Leipzig were somewhat coy and reserved, and I remember taking a criticism to the editor of the Leipziger Tageblatt which the writer did not wish to sign with his own name. Mendelssohn only, with his well-tempered heart, received him with open arms. He gave a matinée musicale at his house, all the best known musicians of the place being present. I remember, though vaguely, David, Kalliwoda, Hiller; I doubt whether Schumann and Clara Wieck were present. Well, Liszt appeared in his Hungarian costume, wild and magnificent. He told Mendelssohn that he had written something special for him. He sat down, and swaying right and left on his music-stool, played first a Hungarian melody, and then three or four variations, one more incredible than the other.

We stood amazed, and after everybody had paid his compliments to the hero of the day, some of Mendelssohn’s friends gathered round him, and said: “Ah, Felix, now we can pack up (‘jetzt 18können wir einpacken’). No one can do that; it is over with us!” Mendelssohn smiled; and when Liszt came up to him asking him to play something in turn, he laughed and said that he never played now; and this, to a certain extent, was true. He did not give much time to practising then, but worked chiefly at composing and directing his concerts. However, Liszt would take no refusal, and so at last little Mendelssohn, with his own charming playfulness, said: “Well, I’ll play, but you must promise me not to be angry.” And what did he play? He sat down and played first of all Liszt’s Hungarian Melody, and then one variation after another, so that no one but Liszt himself could have told the difference. We all trembled lest Liszt should be offended, for Mendelssohn could not keep himself from slightly imitating Liszt’s movements and raptures. However, Mendelssohn managed never to offend man, woman, or child. Liszt laughed and applauded, and admitted that no one, not he himself, could have performed such a bravura. Many years after I saw Liszt once more, at the last visit he paid to London. He came to the Lyceum to see Irving and Ellen Terry act in “Faust.” The whole theatre rose when the old, bent Maestro appeared in the dress circle. When the play was over, I received an invitation from 19Mr., now Sir Henry, Irving to join a supper party in honour of Liszt. I could not resist, though I was staying with friends in London and had no latch-key. It was a brilliant affair. Rooms had been fitted up on purpose with old armour, splendid pictures, gorgeous curtains. We sat down, about thirty people; I knew hardly anybody, though they were all known to fame, and not to know them was to profess oneself unknown. However, I was placed next to Liszt, and I reminded him of those early Leipzig days. He was not in good spirits; he would not speak English, though Ellen Terry sat on his right side, and, as she would not speak German or French, I had to interpret as well as I could, and it was not always easy. At last Miss Ellen Terry turned to me and said: “Tell Liszt that I can speak German,” and when he turned to listen, she said in her girlish, bell-like voice: “Lieber Liszt, ich liebe Dich.” I hope I am not betraying secrets; anyhow, as I have been indiscreet once, I may as well say what happened to me afterwards. It was nearly 3 A.M. when I reached my friend’s house. With great difficulty I was able to rouse a servant to let me in, and when the next morning I was asked where I had been, great was the dismay when I said that I had had supper at the Lyceum. Liszt had promised to come to stay with me at Oxford, but 20the day when I expected him, the following note arrived from Amsterdam, probably one of the last he ever wrote:—

A few weeks after, I saw his death announced in the papers.

And thus Liszt left the stage. I saw his entrance 21and his exit, and when I asked myself, What has he left behind? I could only think of the new school of brilliant executionists of which he may truly be called the founder and life-long apostle. I confess that, though I feel dazzled at the impossibilities which he and his pupils perform with their ten fingers, I often sigh for an Allegro or an Andante by Haydn and Mozart as they were played in my young days with simplicity and purity on very imperfect instruments. Players now seem to think of themselves only, not of the musical poets whose works they are to render. Mendelssohn, Clara Wieck (Madame Schumann) even Moscheles and Hummel acted as faithful interpreters. On listening to them, exquisite as their execution was, one thought far more of what they played than how they played. That time is gone, and no one has now, or will ever have again, the courage to bring it back. If one wants to enjoy a sonata of Haydn one has to play it oneself or hum it, because the old fingers will not do their work any longer.

And Mendelssohn also, whom I had known as a young man, said good-bye to me for the last time in London. It was after the first performance of his “Elijah” in 1847. He too said he would come again next year, and then came the news of his sudden death. I saw him last at Bunsen’s house, 22where he played at a matinée musicale always ready to please and oblige his friends, always amiable and charming, even under great provocation. Only once I remember seeing him almost beside himself with anger, and well he might be. He possessed a most valuable album, with letters, poems, pictures, compositions of the most illustrious men of the age, such as Goethe and others. The binding had somewhat suffered, so it was sent to be mended, and I was present when it came back. It was at his sister’s house, Fanny Hensel’s, at Berlin. Mendelssohn opened the album, jumped up and screamed. The binder had cut off the blue skies and tree-tops of all the Italian sketches, and the signatures of most of the poems and letters. This was too much for Felix, he was for once infelix. Still, happy and serene as his life certainly was, for he had everything a man of his talents could desire, there were bitter drops in it of which the world knew little, and need not know anything now. There are things we know, important things which the world would be glad to know. But we bury them; they are to be as if they had never been, like letters that are reduced to ashes and can never be produced again by friends or enemies.

He was devoted to his sister Fanny, who was married to Hensel the painter, an intimate friend of my father. When I was a student at Berlin, I 23was much in their house in the Leipziger Strasse, and heard many a private concert given in the large room looking out on the garden. Mendelssohn played almost every instrument in the orchestra, and had generally to play the instrument which he was supposed to play worst. When he played the pianoforte, he was handicapped by being made to play with his arms crossed. All the celebrities of Berlin (and Berlin was then rich in celebrities) were present at those musical gatherings, and Mendelssohn was the life of the whole. He was never quiet for a moment, moving from chair to chair and conversing with everybody.

Boeckh, the great Greek scholar, lived in the same house, and Mendelssohn had received so good a classical education that he could hold his own when discussing with the old master the choruses of the Antigone. Mendelssohn was, in fact, a man teres et rotundus. He was at home in classical literature, he spoke French and English, he was an exquisite draughtsman, and had seen the greatest works of the greatest painters, ancient and modern. His father, a rich banker in Berlin, had done all he could for the education of his children. He was the son of Mendelssohn the philosopher, and when his son Felix had become known to fame, he used to say with his slightly Jewish accent: “When I was young I was called the son of the great Mendelssohn; now that I am old I am called the father of the great Mendelssohn; then, what am I?” Well, he found the wherewithal that enabled his son, and his other children too, to become what they were, all worthy of their great grandfather, all worthy of the name of Mendelssohn.

Sie stand im Boot und fischte, Ich sah’s vom Ufer her: In’s Netz die Fischlein sprangen, Als ob’s zum Tanze wär’;

Die glückliche Fischerin.

25Felix was attached to both his sisters, Fanny and Rebekah (Dirichlet), but he was more particularly devoted to Fanny (Hensel). They had been educated together. She knew Greek and Latin like her brother, she played perfectly, and composed so well that her brother published several of her compositions under his own name. They were one spirit and one soul, and at that time ladies still shrank from publicity. Everybody knew which songs were hers (I remember, for instance, “Schöner und Schöner schmückt sich die Flur”), and it was only later in life that she began to publish under her own name. I give the beginning of a song which she wrote for my mother. The words are my father’s, the little vignette was drawn by her husband, who was an eminent artist at Berlin.

The struggles which many, if not most men of genius, more particularly musicians, have had to pass through were unknown to Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. Some people go so far as to say that 26they miss the traces of those struggles in his character and in his music. And yet those who knew him best know that his soul, too, knew its own bitterness. His happiest years were no doubt spent at Leipzig, where I saw much of him while I was at school and at the University. He was loved and admired by everybody; he was undisputed master in the realm of music. He was at first unmarried, and many were the rumours as to who should be his bride. News had reached his friends that his heart had been won by a young lady at Frankfurt; but nobody, not even his most intimate friends, knew for certain. However, one evening he had just returned from Frankfurt, and had to conduct one of the Gewandhaus Concerts. The last piece was Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. I had sung in the chorus, and found myself on the orchestra when the concert was over, the room nearly empty, except his personal friends, who surrounded him and teased him about his approaching engagement. His beaming face betrayed him, but he would say nothing to anybody, till at last he sat down and extemporised on the pianoforte. And what was the theme of his fantasy? It was the passage of the chorus, “Wer ein holdes Weib errungen, mische seinen Jubel ein.” That was his confession to his friends, and then we all knew. And she was indeed “ein holdes Weib” when she arrived at Leipzig. 27One thing only she lacked—she could not express all she felt. She was soon called the “Goddess of Silence” by the side of her devoted husband, who never could be silent, but was always bubbling over like champagne in a small glass. They were a devoted couple, not a whisper was ever heard about either of them, though Mendelssohn had many friends, the greatest of all being his sister Fanny. With her he could speak and exchange whatever was uppermost or deepest in his heart. I have heard them extemporise together on the pianoforte, one holding with his little finger the little finger of the other. Her death was the heaviest loss he ever suffered in life. He was so unaccustomed to suffering and distress that he could never recover from this unexpected blow. Nor did he survive her long. She died on the 14th of May, 1847; he followed her on the 4th of November of the same year.

During most of the time when Mendelssohn celebrated his triumphs as director of the Gewandhaus Concerts, young Robert Schumann was at Leipzig, but he was little seen. Mendelssohn, so bright and happy himself, wished to see the whole world around him bright and happy, and was kind to everybody. The idea of jealousy was impossible at that time in Mendelssohn’s heart. Neither could Schumann, as a young and rising musician, have 28thought himself then to be in any sense an equal or rival of Mendelssohn. But there are natures which like to be left alone, or with a very few intimate friends only, and which shrink from the too demonstrative happiness of others. It is not envy, it often is modesty; but in any case it is not pleasant. Schumann was conscious of his own strength, but he was still struggling for recognition, and he was also struggling against that adversity of fortune which seems to decree poverty to be the lot of genius. There was another struggle going on, a struggle which is generally fought out in private, but which in his case was carried on before the eyes of the world, at least the musical world of Leipzig. He was devoted to a young pianoforte player, Clara Wieck. But her father, a great teacher of music, would not allow the marriage. He had devoted years of his life to the musical education of his daughter, and then, as she was just beginning to earn applause for herself and her master, as well as the pecuniary reward for their combined labours, a young musician, poor, and not yet recognised, wished to carry her off. Parents have flinty hearts, and the father said “No.”

Many a time have I watched young Schumann walking alone in the neighbourhood of Leipzig, being unexpectedly met by a young lady, both looking not so happy as I thought that under the 29circumstances they ought. This went on for some time, till at last, as usual, the severe or flinty-hearted father had to give way, and allow a marriage which certainly for many years was the realisation of the most perfect happiness, till it ended in a terrible tragedy. There was the seed of madness in the genius of Schumann as in that of so many really great men, and in an access of mania he sought and found rest where Ophelia sought and found it.

I did not see much of Schumann, nor of Madame Schumann, in later life, though in concerts in London I often admired her exquisite rendering of her husband’s compositions. I only recollect Schumann as a young man sitting generally in a corner of the orchestra, and listening to one of his works being performed under Mendelssohn’s direction. I remember his very large head, his drooping eyes; I hardly ever remember a smile on his face. And yet the man must have been satisfied, if not happy, who could write such music as his, who could write, “Wohlauf noch getrunken den funklenden Wein!” and he lived to see his own creations admired more even than those of Mendelssohn. He lived to see his critics turned into admirers; in fact he educated his public, and gained a place for that thoughtful, wistful, fairy-like music which is peculiarly his own.

30Many celebrated musicians stayed at Leipzig during Mendelssohn’s reign. I remember Moscheles, Thalberg, Sterndale Bennett, Clara Novello, young and fascinating, and many more. Another friend of Mendelssohn who stayed some time at Leipzig was Ferdinand Hiller. We heard several of his compositions, symphonies and all the rest, performed at the Gewandhaus Concerts under Mendelssohn’s direction. In his life there was, perhaps, too little of the dira necessitas that has given birth to so many of the masterpieces of genius. He might, no doubt, have produced much more than he did; but that he was striving to the very end of his life was proved to me by an interesting letter I received from him about a year before his death. His idea was to write a great oratorio, and he wanted me to supply him with a text. It was a colossal plan, and I confess it seemed to me beyond the power of any musician, nay, of any poet. It was to be a historical drama, representing first of all the great religions of the world, each by itself. We were to have the hymns of the Veda, the Gâthas of the Avesta, the Psalms of the Old Testament, the Sermons and Dialogues of Buddha, the trumpet-calls of Mohammed, and, lastly, the Sermon on the Mount, all of them together forming one mighty symphony in which no theme was lost, yet all became in the end an accompaniment 31of one sweet song of love dominating the full chorus of the ancient religions of the world. It was a grand idea, but was it possible to realise it? I was ready to help, but before a year was over I received the news of Hiller’s death, and who is the musician to take his place, always supposing that he could have achieved such a World Oratorio?

It was in the last year of his life that Mendelssohn paid his last visit to England to conduct his last oratorio, the “Elijah.” It had to be performed at Exeter Hall, then the best place for sacred music. Most of the musicians, however, were not professionals, and they had only bound themselves to attend a certain number of rehearsals. Excellent as they were in such oratorios as the “Messiah,” which they knew by heart, a new oratorio, such as the “Elijah,” was too much for them; and I well remember Mendelssohn, in the afternoon before the performance, declaring he would not conduct.

“Oh, these tailors and shoemakers,” he said, “they cannot do it, and they will not practise! I shall not go.” However, a message arrived that the Queen and Prince Albert were to be present, so nothing remained but to go. I was present, the place was crowded. Mendelssohn conducted, and now and then made a face, but no one else 32detected what was wrong. It was a great success and a great triumph for Mendelssohn. If he could have heard it performed as it was performed at Exeter Hall in later years, when his tailors and shoemakers knew it by heart, he would not have made a face.

It was at Bunsen’s house, at a matinée musicale, that I saw him last. He took the liveliest interest in my work, the edition of the Rig Veda, the Sacred Hymns of the Brâhmans. A great friend of his, Friedrich Rosen, had begun the same work, but had died before the first volume was finished. He was a brother of the wife of Mendelssohn’s great friend, Klingemann, then Hanoverian Chargé d’Affaires in London, a poet many of whose poems were set to music by Mendelssohn. So Mendelssohn knew all about the Sacred Hymns of the Brâhmans, and talked very intelligently about the Veda. He was, however, subjected to a very severe trial of patience soon after. The room was crowded with what is called the best society of London, and Mendelssohn being asked to play, never refused. He played several things, and at last Beethoven’s so-called “Moonlight Sonata.” All was silence and delight; no one moved, no one breathed aloud. Suddenly in the middle of the Adagio, a stately dowager sitting in the front row was so carried away by the 33rhythm, rather than by anything else, of Beethoven’s music, that she began to play with her fan, and accompanied the music by letting it open and shut with each bar. Everybody stared at her, but it took time before she perceived her atrocity, and at last allowed her fan to collapse. Mendelssohn in the meantime kept perfectly quiet, and played on; but, when he could stand it no longer, he simply repeated the last bar in arpeggios again and again, following the movements of her fan; and when at last the fan stopped, he went on playing as if nothing had happened. I dare say that when the old dowager thanked him for the great treat he had given her, he bowed without moving a muscle of his inspired face. How different from another player who, when disturbed by some noise in the audience, got up in a rage and declared that either she or the talker must leave the room.

And yet I have no doubt the old lady enjoyed the music in her own way, for there are many ways of enjoying music. I have known people who could not play a single instrument, who could not sing “God save the Queen” to save their life, in eloquent raptures about Mendelssohn, nay, about Beethoven and Bach. I believe they are perfectly honest in their admiration, though how it is done I cannot tell. I began by saying that 34people who have no music in them need not be traitors, and I alluded to my dear friend Stanley. He actually suffered from listening to music, and whenever he could, he walked out of the room where there was music. He never disguised his weakness, he never professed any love or admiration for music, and yet Jenny Lind once told me he paid her the highest compliment she had ever received. Stanley was very fond of Jenny Lind, but when she stayed at his father’s palace at Norwich he always left the room when she sang. One evening Jenny Lind had been singing Händel’s “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” Stanley, as usual, had left the room, but he came back after the music was over, and went shyly up to Jenny Lind. “You know,” he said, “I dislike music; I don’t know what people mean by admiring it. I am very stupid, tone-deaf, as others are colourblind. But,” he said with some warmth, “to-night, when from a distance I heard you singing that song, I had an inkling of what people mean by music. Something came over me which I had never felt before; or, yes, I had felt it once before in my life.” Jenny Lind was all attention. “Some years ago,” he continued, “I was at Vienna, and one evening there was a tattoo before the palace performed by four hundred drummers. I felt shaken, and to-night while listening to your 35singing, the same feeling came over me; I felt deeply moved.” “Dear man,” she added, “I know he meant it, and a more honest compliment I never received in all my life.”

However, unmusical as Stanley’s house was, Jenny Lind, or Mrs. Goldschmidt as she was then, often came to stay there. “It is so nice,” she said; “no one talks music, there is not even a pianoforte in the house.” This did not last long however. A few days after she said to me: “I hear you have a pianoforte in your rooms at All Souls’. Would you mind my practising a little?” And practise she did, and delightful it was. She even came to dine in College, and after dinner she said in the most charming way: “Do you think your friends would like me to sing?” Of course, I could not have asked her to sing, but there was no necessity for asking my friends. In fact, not only my friends listened with delight to her singing, but the whole quadrangle of All Souls’ was black with uninvited listeners, and the applause after each song was immense, both inside and outside the walls of the College.

Stanley’s feeling about music reminds me of another music-hater at Oxford, the late Dr. Gaisford, the famous Dean of Christ Church. It was he who put my name on the books of “The House,” a very great honour to an unknown German scholar 36on whom the University, at his suggestion, had just conferred the degree of M.A. What the Dean’s idea of music was may best be judged from his constantly appointing old scouts or servants who were too old to do their work any longer as bedmakers to be singing men in the Cathedral choir. The Dean’s stall was under the organ, and one day in every month, when “The voice of Thy thunder was heard round about, and the lightnings shone upon the ground, and the earth was moved and shook withal,” a certain key in the organ made the seat on which the Dean sat vibrate under him. On that day, before he left the Cathedral, he invariably thanked the organist, Dr. Corfe, for the nice tune he had played.

Music, in fact, was at a very low ebb at Oxford when I arrived there. The young men would have considered it almost infra dignitatem to play any instrument; the utmost they would do was now and then to sing a song. Yet there was much love of music, and many of my young and old friends were delighted when I would play to them. There was only one other person at Oxford then who was a real musician and who played well, Professor Donkin, a great mathematician, and altogether a man sui generis. He was a great invalid; in fact, he was dying all the years I knew him, and was fully aware of it. It seemed to be quite admissible, 37therefore, that he, being an invalid, and I, being a German, should “make music” at evening parties; but to ask a head of a house or a professor, or even a senior tutor, to play would have been considered almost an insult. And yet I feel certain there is more love, more honest enjoyment of music in England than anywhere else.

And how has the musical tide risen at Oxford since those days! Some of the young men now come up to college as very good performers on the pianoforte and other instruments. I never know how they learn it, considering the superior claims which cricket, football, the river, nay, the classics and mathematics also have on their time at school. There are musical clubs now at Oxford where the very best classical music may be heard performed by undergraduates with the assistance of some professional players from London. All this is due to the influence of Sir F. Ouseley, and still more of Sir John Stainer, both professors of Music at Oxford. They have made music not only respectable, but really admired and loved among the undergraduates. Sir John Stainer has been indefatigable, and the lectures which he gives both on the science and history of music are crowded by young and old. They are real concerts, in which he is able to illustrate all he has to say with the help of a well-trained choir of Oxford amateurs. 38As to myself, I have long become a mere listener. One learns the lesson, whether one likes it or not, that there is a time for everything. Old fingers grow stiff and will no longer obey, and if one knows how a sonata of Beethoven ought to be played, it is most painful to play it badly. So at last I said: “Farewell!” The sun has set, though the clouds are roseate still with reflected rays. It may be that I have given too much time to music, but what would life have been without it? I do not like to exaggerate, or say anything that is not quite true. Musical ears grow sensitive to anything false, whether sharp or flat. But let us be quite honest, quite plain. Is there not in music, and in music alone of all the arts, something that is not entirely of this earth? Harmony and rhythm may be under settled laws; and in that sense mathematicians may be right when they call mathematics silent music. But whence comes melody? Surely not from what we hear in the street, or in the woods, or on the sea-shore, not from anything that we hear with our outward ears, and are able to imitate, to improve, or to sublimise. Neither history nor evolution will help us to account for Schubert’s “Trockne Blumen.” Here, if anywhere, we see the golden stairs on which angels descend from heaven to earth, and whisper sweet sounds into the ears of those who have ears to hear. Words 39cannot be so inspired, for words, we know, are of the earth earthy. Melodies, however, are not of this earth, and the greatest of musical poets has truly said:—

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter.


I am the son of a poet, and I have tried very hard all my life not to be a poet myself, if poet means a man who tries to make his thoughts dance gracefully in the chains of metre and rhyme. In my own very prosaic work I have had to suffer all my life from suppressed poetry, as one suffers from suppressed gout. Poets will, no doubt, protest most emphatically against so low a view of their art. They assure us that they never feel their chains, and that they are perfectly free in giving expression to their thoughts in rhyme and metre. Some of the more honest among them have even gone so far as to confess that their best thoughts had often been suggested to them by the rhyme. Platen may be quite right when he says:

Was stets und aller Orten sich ewig jung erweist
Ist in gebundenen Worten ein ungebundener Geist.
(What proves itself eternal in every place and time
Is an unfettered spirit, free in the chains of rhyme.)

True, very true. You may get that now and then, but in our modern languages it is but seldom that 41thought soars up quite free on the wings of rhyme. Many and many a thought sinks down because of the weight of the rhyme, many and many a thought remains altogether unspoken because it will not submit to the strait jacket of the rhyme; many and many a poor thought is due entirely to an irrepressible rhyme; and if some brilliant thoughts have really been suggested by the rhyme, would it not be better if they had been suggested by something else, whether you call it mind or soul? The greatest masters of rhyme, such as Browning in English or Rückert in German, and even H. Heine, often fall victims to their own mastery. They spoil their poems in order to show that they can find a rhyme for anything and everything, however grotesque the rhyme may be. I remember once being bold enough to ask Tennyson what was the use or excuse of rhyme. He was not offended, but was quite ready with his answer: “Rhyme helps the memory,” he said—and that answer was as honest as it was true. But what is useful for one purpose, for the purpose of recollecting, may be anything but useful for other purposes, it may be even hurtful, and in our case it has certainly proved hurtful again and again to the natural flow and expression of thought and feeling.

Nor should I venture to say a word against Platen’s gebundene Worte. It was only the very 42necessity of finding a word to answer to time which led me to speak of chains of rhyme. Gebundene Worte are not necessarily rhymed words, they are measured words, and these are no doubt quite natural and quite right for poetry. Metre is measure, and metrical utterance, in that sense, was not only more natural for the expression of the highest thoughts, but was probably everywhere more ancient also than prose. In every literature, as far as we know, poetry came first, prose second. Inspired utterance requires, nay produces, rhythmic movements not only of the voice (song and prosodia), but of the body also (dance). In Greek, chorus means dance, measured movement, and the Greek choruses were originally dances; nay, it can be proved that these dancing movements formed really the first metres of true poetry. Hence, it was quite natural that David should have danced before the Lord with all his might. Language itself bears witness to the fact that the oldest metres were the steps and movements of dancers. As the old dances consisted of steps, the ancient metres consisted of feet. Even we ourselves still speak of feet, not because we understand what it means, but simply because the Greeks and Romans spoke of feet, and they said so because originally the feet really marked the metre.

The ancient poets of the Veda also speak of feet, 43and they seem to have been quite aware why they spoke of metrical feet, for in the names of some of their metres we still find clear traces of the steps of the dances which accompanied their poems. Trishtubh, one of their ancient metres, meant three-step; Anushtubh, the later Sloka, meant by-step[1] or Reigen. The last syllables or steps of each line were called the Vritta, or the turn, originally the turn of the dancers, who seem to have been allowed to move more freely till they came to the end of one movement. Then, before they turned, or while they turned, they marked the steps more sharply and audibly, either as iambic or as trochaic, and afterwards marched back again with greater freedom. Hence in ancient Sanskrit the end or turn of each line was under stricter rules as to long and short steps, or long and short syllables, whereas greater freedom was allowed for the rest of a line. Thus Sanskrit Vritta, the turn, came to mean the metre of the whole line, just as in Latin we have the same word versus, literally the turn, then verse, and this turn became the name for verse, and remained so to the present day. There is no break in our history, and language is the chain that holds it together. A strophe also was originally a turning, to be followed by the antistrophe or the return, all ideas derived from dancing. The ancient Sanskrit 44name for metre and metrical or measured speed was Khandas. The verb Khand would correspond phonetically to Latin scandere, in the sense of marching, as in a-scendere, to march upward, to mount, and de-scendere, to march downward, all expressing the same idea of measured movement, but not of rhyme or jingle. These movements were free and natural in the beginning; they became artificial when they became traditional, and we find in such works as the Sanskrit Vritta-ratnâkara, “the treasury of verse,” every kind of monstrosity which was perpetrated by Hindu poets of the Renaissance period, and perpetrated, it must be confessed, with wonderful adroitness.

But I must not tire my friends with these metrical mysteries. What I want them to know is that in the most ancient Aryan poetry which we possess there is no trace of rhyme, except here and there by accident, and that everywhere in the history of the poetry of the Âryas, rhyme, as essential to poetry, is a very late invention. It is the same in Semitic languages, though in Semitic as well as in Aryan speech, in fact, wherever grammatical forms are expressed chiefly by means of terminations, rhyme even in prose is almost inevitable. And this was no doubt the origin of rhyme. In languages where terminations of declension and conjugation and most derivative suffixes have retained 45a full-bodied and sonorous form, it was difficult to avoid the jingle of rhyme. In Latin, which abounds in such constantly recurring endings as orum, arum, ibus, amus, atis, amini, tatem, tatibus, inibus, etc., good prose writers had actually to be warned against allowing their sentences to rhyme, while poets found it very easy to add these ornamental tails to their measured lines.

There can be little doubt that it was the rhymed Latin poetry, as used in the services of the Roman Catholic Church, which suggested to the German converts the idea of rhymed verses. The pagan poetry of the Teutonic races had no rhymes. It was what is called alliterative. In the German dialects the accent remained mostly on the radical syllable of words, and thus served to shorten the terminations. Hence we find fewer full-bodied terminations in Gothic than in Latin, while in later Teutonic dialects, in English as well as in German, these terminations dwindled away more and more. Thus, we say Di’ chter when the Romans would have Dicta’ tor, Pre’ diger for prœdica’ tor, cha’ ncel for cance’ lla. In order to bind their poetical lines together the German poets had recourse to initial letters, which had to be the same in certain places of each verse, and which, if pronounced with strong stress or strain, left the impression of the words being knitted together and belonging together. 46Here is a specimen which will show that the rules of alliteration were very strictly observed by the old German poets, far more strictly than by their modern imitators. The old rule was that in a line of eight arses there should be two words in the first and one in the second half beginning with the same letter, consonant or vowel, and always in syllables that had the accent. Here is a line from the old “Song of Hildebrand,” dating from the eighth century:—

Hiltibraht joh Hadhubrant Hiltibraht and Hadhubrant
Untar harjum tuâm, etc. Between hosts twain, etc.

Rückert has imitated this alliterating poetry in his poem of “Roland”:—

Roland der Ries
Im Rathhaus zu Bremen
Steht er im Standbild
Standhaft und wacht.

Kingsley has attempted something like it in his “Longbeard’s Saga,” but with much greater freedom, not to say licence:—

Scaring the wolf cub,
Scaring the horn-owl,
Shaking the snow-wreaths
Down from the pine boughs.

But to return to our modern poetry and to the 47poets whom I have known, and of whom I have something to tell, does it not show the power of tradition if we see them everywhere forcing their feet into the same small slippers of rhyme? And who would deny that they have achieved, and still are achieving, wonderful feats?—tours de force, it is true, but so cleverly performed that one hardly sees a trace of the force employed. No doubt much is lost in this process of beating, and hammering, and welding words together (a poet is called a Reimeschmied, a smith of rhymes, in German); much has to be thrown away because it will not rhyme at all (silver has been very badly treated in English poetry, because it rhymes with nothing, at present not even with gold), but what remains is often very beautiful, and, as Tennyson said, it sticks to the memory. One wishes one could add that the difficulty of rhyme serves to reduce the number of unnecessary poets that spring up every year. But rhyme does not strangle these numerous children of the Muses, and it is left to our ill-paid critics to perform every day, or every week, this murder of the innocents.

It may not seem very filial for the son of a poet thus to blaspheme against poetry, or rather, against rhyme. Well, I can admire rhymed poetry, just as I can admire champagne, though if the wine 48is really good I think it is a pity to make it mousseux.

H. Heine, who certainly was never at a loss for a rhyme, writes, at the end of one of his maddest poems, “Die Liebe”: “O Phœbus Apollo, if these verses are bad, I know thou wilt forgive me, for thou art an all-knowing god, and knowest quite well why for years I could not trouble myself any longer with measuring and rhyming words!” And he adds: “I might, of course, have said all this very well in good prose.” He ought to know, but there will not be many of his admirers to agree with him.[2]

I hardly remember having ever seen my father, and I came to know him chiefly through his poetry. He belonged to the post-Goethe period, though Goethe (died 1832) survived him. He was born in 1794, and died in 1827, and yet in that short time he established a lasting reputation not only as a scholar, but as a most popular poet. His best known poems are the “Griechenlieder,” the Greek songs which he wrote during the Greek war of independence. Alas! in those days battles were won by bravery and the sword, now by discipline and repeating guns. These Greek songs, in which his love of the ancient Greeks is mingled with his admiration for heroes such as Kanaris, Mark Bozzaris, 49and others who helped to shake off the Turkish yoke, produced a deep impression all over Germany, perhaps because they breathed the spirit of freedom and patriotism, which was then systematically repressed in Germany itself. The Greeks never forgot the services rendered by him in Germany, as by Lord Byron in England, in rousing a feeling of indignation against the Turk, and as the marble for Lord Byron’s monument in London was sent by some Greek admirers of the great poet, the Greek Parliament voted a shipload of Pentelican marble for the national monument erected to my father in Dessau.

My father’s lyrical poems also are well known all over Germany, particularly the cycles of the “Schöne Müllerin” and the “Winterreise,” both so marvellously set to music by Schubert and others. He certainly had caught the true tone of the poetry of the German people, and many of his poems have become national property, being sung by thousands who do not even know whose poems they are singing. As a specimen showing the highest point reached by his poetry, I like to quote his poem on Vineta, the old town overwhelmed by the sea on the Baltic coast. The English translation was made for me by my old, now departed, friend, J. A. Froude:—

I. I.
Aus des Meeres tiefem, tiefem Grunde From the sea’s deep hollow faintly pealing,
Klingen Abendglocken dumpf und matt, Far-off evening bells come sad and slow;
Uns zu geben wunderbare Kunde Faintly rise, the wondrous tale revealing
Von der schönen alten Wunderstadt. Of the old enchanted town below.
In der Fluthen Schoss hinabgesunken On the bosom of the flood reclining
Bleiben unten ihre Trümmer stehn, Ruined arch and broken spire,
Ihre Zinnen lassen goldne Funken Down beneath the watery mirror shining
Wiederscheinend auf dem Spiegel sehn. Gleam and flash in flakes of golden fire.
Und der Schiffer, der den Zauberschimmer And the boatman who at twilight hour
Einmal sah im hellen Abendroth, Once that magic vision shall have seen,
Nach derselben Stelle schifft er immer, Heedless how the crags may round him lour,
Ob auch rings umher die Klippe droht. Evermore will haunt the charmèd scene.
Aus des Herzens tiefem, tiefem Grunde From the heart’s deep hollow faintly pealing,
Klingt es mir, wie Glocken, dumpf und matt: Far I hear them, bell-notes sad and slow,
Ach! sie geben wunderbare Kunde Ah! a wild and wondrous tale revealing
Von der Liebe, die geliebt es hat. Of the drownèd wreck of love below.
V. V.
Eine schöne Welt is da versunken. There a world in loveliness decaying,
Ihre Trümmer bleiben unten stehn, Lingers yet in beauty ere it die;
Lassen sich als goldne Himmelsfunken Phantom forms across my senses playing,
Oft im Spiegel meiner Träume sehn. Flash like golden fire-flakes from the sky.
Und dann möcht’ ich tauchen in die Tiefen, Lights are gleaming, fairy bells are ringing,
Mich versenken in den Wiederschein, And I long to plunge and wander free
Und mir ist als ob mich Engel riefen Where I hear those angel-voices singing
In die alte Wunderstadt herein. In those ancient towers below the sea.

52That the poet did not consider rhyme an essential element of poetry, he has shown in some of his assonantic poems, such as:

Alle Winde schlafen
Auf dem Spiegel der Flut;
Kühle Schatten des Abends
Decken die Müden zu.
Luna hängt sich Schleier
Ueber ihr Gesicht,
Schwebt in dämmernden Träumen
Ueber die Wasser hin.
Alles, alles stille
Auf dem weiten Meer,—
Nur mein Herz will nimmer
Mit zur Ruhe gehn.
In der Liebe Fluten
Treibt es her und hin,
Wo die Stürme nicht ruhen,
Bis der Nachen sinkt.

Though my father was a great admirer of Goethe, he seems to have incurred his displeasure and to have been brought into personal collision with the grand old poet. Goethe had translated some modern Greek songs; it may be, as my father thought, without having fully mastered the difficulties of the spoken Greek language. My father 53published a complete translation of Fauriel’s collection of Greek popular poetry,[3] and Goethe did not like comparisons between his work and that of anybody else, least of all of quite a young poet. “Die schöne Müllerin” also may have seemed to Goethe an encroachment on a domain peculiarly his own. In fact, when my father, with my mother, went to Weimar to pay their respects to Goethe, his Excellency was somewhat stiff and cold. My mother, also, had evidently not been sufficiently careful and respectful. She was the granddaughter of the famous pedagogue Basedow, the reformer of national education all over Germany, who had been a friend of Goethe in his youth. Goethe speaks of him in his poem, “Prophete rechts (Basedow), Prophete links (Lavater), das Weltkind (Goethe) in der Mitten.” And he also complains bitterly of Basedow in his “Dichtung und Wahrheit,” as being never without a pipe in his mouth, and as lighting his pipe with most offensive tinder—Stinkschwamm, as Goethe calls it. My mother, when asked by Goethe, “Was für eine geborene” she was (What had been her maiden name?), could not resist the temptation, and replied, laughing: “Your Excellency ought to scent it; I am the granddaughter of Basedow.” Happily 54my mother was very beautiful, and was pardoned the liberty she had taken. Still, the relations between my father and Goethe always remained rather strained, and all that I find in his album is a medallion portrait of Goethe with the following lines, dated 7th November, 1825:—

Meinen feyerlich Bewegten
Mache Dank und Freude kund;
Das Gefühl das Sie erregten
Schliesst dem Dichter selbst den Mund.

He was on much warmer terms with the poets of the Swabian school, Uhland, Schwab, Justinus Kerner, etc. In the year before his death, 1827, he spent some time with them in Würtemberg, and in many respects he may be reckoned as belonging to their school. The verses which Uhland wrote in my father’s album have often been quoted as a curious prophecy of his early death. It seems that some conversations which he had with the Seherin of Prevorst[4] when staying in Justinus Kerner’s house near Weinsberg, had filled him and his friends with misgivings. Uhland’s lines were:—

Wohl blühet jedem Jahre
Sein Frühling, süss und licht,
Auch jener grosse, klare—
Getrost, er fehlt dir nicht;
55 Er ist dir noch beschieden
Am Ziele deiner Bahn,
Du ahnest ihn hienieden
Und droben bricht er an.
Zu freundlicher Erinnerung an,
L. Uhland.
Stuttgart, den 13 Sept., 1827.

Justinus Kerner himself also wrote some lines in which he alludes to the apparition of spirits. His rooms, as my mother assured me, were always full of them, and they all seemed on the most familiar terms with the other inmates.

Nicht wie Geister, nein! wie Sterne
Kamt ihr freundlich in der Nacht,
Ja, so ernst und mild wie Sterne
Hat uns euer Bild gelacht
Oft wenn schweigt der Welt Getümmel
Wird’s so treten in den Himmel
Den die Lieb uns angefacht.
Justinus Kerner
und seine Hausfrau,
Weinsberg, 7, 15, ’27.
am Tage euerer nächtlichen

I once came myself in personal contact with Uhland, the head of the Swabian school of poetry, when he was already an old man. He came to Leipzig when I was a student there, and stayed at 56the house of Professor Haupt, the famous Latin and German scholar. Uhland was a very shy and retiring man, and had declined every kind of public reception. However, the young students would not be gainsayed, and after assembling in the afternoon to consider what should be done to show their respect to the German poet and the liberal German politician, they marched off, some 600 or 800 of them, drew up in front of the house where they knew Uhland was staying, and sang some of Uhland’s songs. At last Uhland, a little, old, wrinkled man, appeared at the window, and expected evidently that some one should address him. But no arrangements had been made, and no one ventured to speak, fearing that at the same time two or three others might step forward to address the old poet. After waiting a considerable time, the position became so trying that I could bear it no longer; I stepped forward, and in a few words told Uhland how he was loved by us as a poet, as a scholar, and as a fearless defender of the rights of the people, and how proud we were to have him amongst us. We then waited to hear him speak, but he could not overcome his shyness, and sent a message to ask some of us to come into his room to shake hands with him. Even then he could say but very little, but when he knew that I was the son of his old friend, Wilhelm Müller, he was 57pleased. To me it was like a vision of a bygone age when I looked the old poet in the eyes, and whenever I hear his song, “Es zogen drei Burschen wohl über den Rhein,” or when I read his beautiful ballads, I see the silent poet looking at me with his kind eyes, unable to use meaningless words, but simply saying “Thank you.”

Another poet who was a friend and admirer of my father, and whom I saw likewise like a vision only passing before me, was Heinrich Heine. He was younger than my father (1799–1856), and evidently looked up to him as his master. “I love no lyric poet,” he wrote, “excepting Goethe, so much as Wilhelm Müller.” I found a letter of his which deserves to be preserved. Alas! the whole of my father’s library and correspondence was destroyed by fire, and this letter escaped only because my mother, a great admirer of Heine’s poems, had preserved it among her own books. Here is the letter, or at least parts of it. The original was sent about the years 1841–43, when I was a student at Leipzig, to Brockhaus’ Blätter für Litterarische Unterhaltung, but the original was never returned to me. It has often been quoted in histories of German literature, and I give the extracts here from Gustav Karpeles’ “Heinrich Heine’s Autobiographie,” Berlin, 1888, pp. 149, 150:—

58Hamburg, 7th June, 1826.

I am great enough to confess to you openly that my Small Intermezzo metre[5] possesses not merely accidental similarity with your own accustomed metre, but probably owes its most secret rhythm to your songs—those dear Müller-songs which I came to know at the very time when I wrote the Intermezzo. At a very early time I let German folk-song exercise its influence upon me. Later on, when I studied at Bonn, August Schlegel opened many metrical secrets to me; but I believe it was in your songs that I found what I looked for—pure tone and true simplicity. How pure and clear your songs are, and they are all true folk-songs. In my poems, on the contrary, the form only is to a certain extent popular, the thoughts belong to our conventional society. Yes, I am great enough to repeat it distinctly, and you will sooner or later find it proclaimed publicly, that through the study of your seventy-seven poems it became clear to me for the first time how from the forms of our old still existing folk-songs new forms may be deduced which are quite as popular, though one need not imitate the unevennesses and awkwardnesses of the old language. In the second volume of your poems the form seemed to me even purer and more transparently clear. But why say so much about the form? What I yearn to tell you is that, with the exception of Goethe, there is no lyric poet whom I love as much as you.

59Another fragment of the same letter occurs on page 195 (951). Here Heine, referring to his North Sea poems, writes:—

The “North Sea” belongs to my last poems, and you can see there what new keys I touch, and on what new lines I move along. Prose receives me in her wide arms, and in the next volume of my “Reisebilder” you will find in prose much that is mad, bitter, offensive, angry, and very polemical. Times are really too bad (1826), and whoever has strength, freedom, and boldness has also the duty seriously to begin the fight against all that is bad and puffed up, against all that is mediocre, and yet spreads itself out so broad, so intolerably broad. I beg you, keep well disposed towards me, never doubt me, and let us grow old together in common striving. I am conceited enough to believe that when we are both gone my name will be named together with yours. Let us therefore hold together in love in this life also.

I never came to know Heine. I knew he was in Paris when I was there in 1846, but he was already in such a state of physical collapse that a friend of mine who knew him well, and saw him from time to time, advised me not to go and see him. However, one afternoon as I and my friend were sitting on the Boulevard, near the Rue Richelieu, sipping a cup of coffee, “Look there,” he said, “there comes Heine!” I jumped up to see, my friend stopped him, and told him who I was. It was a sad sight. He was bent down, and dragged 60himself slowly along, his spare greyish hair was hanging round his emaciated face, there was no light in his eyes. He lifted one of his paralysed eyelids with his hand and looked at me. For a time, like the blue sky breaking from behind grey October clouds, there passed a friendly expression across his face, as if he thought of days long gone by. Then he moved on, mumbling a line from Goethe, in a deep, broken, and yet clear voice, as if appealing for sympathy:—

Das Maulthier sucht im Düstern seinen Weg.

Thus vanished Heine, the most brilliant, sparkling, witty poet of Germany. I have seen him, that is all I can say, as Saul saw Samuel, and wished he had not seen him. However, we travel far to see the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, of Nineveh and Memphis, and the ruins of a mind such as Heine’s are certainly as sad and as grand as the crumbling pillars and ruined temples shrouded under the lava of Vesuvius. “Eine schöne Welt ist da versunken,” I said to myself, and I went home and read in Heine’s “Buch der Lieder.” “Du bist wie eine Blume,” “Ich habe im Traum geweinet,” “Ein Tannenbaum steht einsam.” “Yes,” I said, “snow-white lilies spring from muddy ponds, and small mushrooms are said to grow on fresh-fallen snow.”

Few poets in Germany have been or are still so 61admired and loved as Heine, but few poets also have been so viciously maligned as Heine. Society, no doubt, had a right to frown on him, but against such calumnies as were heaped on him by envy, hatred, and malice, it is well to remember some of his last lines:—

Hab’ eine Jungfrau nie verführet
Mit Liebeswort, mit Schmeichelei,
Ich hab’ auch nie ein Weib berühret,
Wüsst’ ich, dass sie vermählet sei.
Wahrhaftig, wenn es anders wäre,
Mein Name, er verdiente nicht
Zu strahlen in dem Buch der Ehre,
Man dürft’ mir spucken in’s Gesicht.

That is strong language and evidently meant as an answer to his spies and enemies. But why will people always spy into the most uninteresting part of a poet’s life? Why are they bent on knowing on what terms Dante stood to Beatrice, Petrarch to Laura, Goethe to Frau von Stein, Heine to George Sand. Volumes have been written on their intimate relations, and yet whom does it concern, and what can it teach us? Let the dead bury their dead.

Whilst at Leipzig as a young student I still imagined myself a poet, and from time to time some of my poems appeared, to my great joy, in the local 62papers. I even belonged to a poetical society, and I remember at least two of us who in later times became very popular writers in Germany. One was a Jew of the name of Wolfsohn, whose play, “Only a Soul,” giving the tragedy of a Russian peasant girl, proved a great success all over Germany, and is still acted from time to time. He died young. Another, Theodor Fontane, is alive, and one of the best known and best loved novel-writers of the day. He was a charming character, a man of great gifts, full of high spirits and inexhaustible good humour. He began life in a chemist’s shop, and had a very hard struggle in his youth, which may have prevented his growing to his full height and strength. He might have been another Heine, but the many years of hard work and hopeless drudgery kept him from soaring as high as his young wings would have carried him. I remember but little of his poetry now, there remains but the sense of pleasure which I derived from it at the time. Now and then, as it happens to all of us, a few long-forgotten lines rise to the surface. In a political poem of his, I remember a young Liberal being warned with the following words:—

Sonst spazierst du nach Siberien
In die langen Winterferien,
Die zugleich Hundstage sind!

63And I have never forgotten the last lines of his beautiful poem, “Die schöne Rosamunde,” where he says of the King:—

Ihn traf des Lebens grösster Schmerz:
Der Schmerz um dieses Leben!

All young poets in Germany were then liberal and more than liberal, all dreamt and sang of a united Germany. But being thirty years ahead of Bismarck, they were unmercifully sent to prison, and often their whole career was ruined for life. Living much in that society, I too, a harmless boy of eighteen, was sent to prison as a person highly dangerous to the peace of Europe. The confinement in the academic career was not very severe, however, except in one respect. From time to time one was allowed to go out, provided one kept on good terms with the attendants. But the serious thing was that as one became a popular character all one’s friends came to visit one, and they expected of course to be hospitably entertained. The consumption of beer and tobacco was considerable, and so was the bill at the end of my political incarceration. More of that perhaps by-and-by. Nearly all the political poetry of that time, much as it then stirred the people, is now forgotten; even the names of the poets are known to but few, though they have found their way into the 64various histories of German literature. I remember as one of the best, Herwegh, who came to Leipzig when I was a student, and who, of course, was fêted by the Burschenschaft at a brilliant supper. Much beer was drunk, much tobacco was smoked, many speeches were made. The police were present, and the names of all who had taken part were entered in the Black Book, mine among the rest. Herwegh was a real poet, unfortunately he spent nearly all his poetical genius on political invective. How well I remember his poem in which every verse ended with the words:—

Wir haben lang genug geliebt,
Wir wollen endlich hassen!

But there were some poems of his which well deserved a longer life. One began with the words: “Ich möchte hingehen wie das Abendroth.” Very beautiful, but my memory does not serve me further, and my copy of his poems has vanished from my library like many other volumes which I lent to my friends.[6]

65I well remember the pleasure which Herwegh’s poems gave me, but the words themselves are gone. It is the same with so many of our recollections. I can still feel the intense delight, the hushed reverence 66with which I looked the first time at Raphael’s Madonna di San Sisto, and looked at it again and again whenever I passed through Dresden. But whether the colour of the Virgin’s dress is red or blue I cannot tell. I dare say it is all there, in the treasure-house of my memory. Nay, sometimes it suddenly appears, only never when I call for it. What is forgotten, however, does not seem to be entirely forfeited; it can be gotten again, and it probably forms, though unknown, the fertile soil for new harvests: that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die.

Another famous political poet whose acquaintance I made when he was an old man was Moritz Arndt. His poetry was not very great, but the effect which he produced by his “Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland” has been, and is still, perfectly marvellous. If Bismarck finished the unity of Germany, Arndt laid the foundation of it, and in the grateful memory of the people his song will probably be remembered long after Bismarck’s diplomatic triumphs have been forgotten. I shall never forget old Arndt, for, old as he was, he gave me such a grip of the hand that I thought the blood would squirt from my nails.

Lesser poets and writers whom I knew at that time, while I was a student at Leipzig, were Karl Beck, of Hungarian extraction, Robert Blum (fusillé 67at Vienna by Windischgrätz, 9th November, 1848), Herlossohn, Kühne, Laube, and several more whose names I could find in Histories of German Literature, or the Conversations-Lexicon, but no longer in the camera obscura of my memory. And yet some of their poems were really beautiful, full of high thoughts and deep feeling. But the world does not recognise a poet of one poem, or even of ten or twenty. In order to be a poet a man must produce hundreds of poems, volume after volume, good, bad, and indifferent. Nor is there here anything like the survival of the fittest. Although ever so many of Schiller’s or Goethe’s poems have become old and antiquated—few will deny this—yet no one is satisfied with a selection of the best, few people would ever agree as to which are the best. We must take them all or none. In that respect the ancient poets are certainly much better off. What is left of Tyrtaeos or Sappho, or of Horace and Catullus, can be carried in our waistcoat pocket, nay, in the folds of our brains; and though even here sifting might increase enjoyment, yet we can take in whatever there is without sinking under the burden. But who can remember Goethe or Wordsworth or Victor Hugo, aye, who has time even to read all their verses, so as to mark, learn, and inwardly digest them?

In towns like Paris and London, if a poet once 68succeeds in attracting attention, and gathering some male and female admirers around him, the very atmosphere which he breathes, the wide survey of humanity which he commands, strengthen and inspire him. No one becomes an Alpine climber who has no Alps to climb, and many a poetical soul languishes and withers if confined within the walls of a small provincial town. I have known very ordinary mortals who when they came to write for a great and influential newspaper became inspired like the prophetess on the Delphic tripod, and wrote well, while their ordinary writings remain feeble. I have known poets in small provincial towns who became changed after they had changed their provincial public for the public of a large capital. I remember a dear cousin of mine at Dessau, Adolf von Basedow, who was my playfellow when we were children, and remained my true friend all through life. He had a quite exceptional gift for occasional poetry, and later in life he wrote many things without ever being able to find a proper publisher. Some of his plays were acted and proved successful on neighbouring stages, but he never received that response which inspires and nerves a poet for higher efforts. He was very modest, nay, almost shy, and in these days humility, however charming in the man, is not likely to open the road to success. Now that he is gone, there are 69all his poetical productions laid aside and soon to be forgotten, while some of the poetry we are asked to admire in these days is far inferior to those fallen leaves. He was an officer and went through the whole of the Franco-German war, having, like so many others, to leave his wife and children at home. He returned home safe, but his health had suffered, and he never was himself again. I have seldom known a more high-minded and truly chivalrous character, content with the small surroundings in which he had to move, but never making the smallest concession to expediency or meanness. He was proud of his name, and whatever we may think of the small nobility in Germany, their manly pride keeps up a standard of honour without which the country would not be what it is. We may laugh at their courts of honour and their duels, arising often from very trifling causes, but in our age of self-seeking and pushing we want some true knights as the salt of the earth.

While I was at the University at Leipzig I well remember meeting Robert Blum in literary circles. He certainly was not a poet, but when required he could speak very powerfully and wield his pen with great effect. Never shall I forget the horror I felt when I heard of his execution at Vienna. No doubt there was danger when the mob broke into the Kaiserburg, shouting and yelling, and when 70Prince Metternich said to the Emperor, who had asked him what this hideous noise could mean, “Sire, c’est que Messieurs les démocrates appellent la voix de Dieu.” But for all that, to shoot a member of the German Parliament then sitting at Frankfurt was an outrage for which Austria has had to pay dearly. Still more cruel was the execution at the same time of a little helpless Jew, Jellineck, whom I had known as belonging to a small class reading Arabic with Professor Fleischer at Leipzig. Robert Blum may have been a dangerous man in the then state of German political excitement, but Jellineck was nothing but a perfectly harmless scholar, and if he was found guilty by a court-martial, it could only have been because he could never express himself intelligibly. If he had been killed in the streets of Vienna like many others, all one could have said would have been, “Qu’allait-il faire dans cette galère?” but to shoot a harmless student after a short court-martial was no better than lynching. There has been a Nemesis for all that, as Austria knows too well, and what would the world be without that invisible Nemesis?

With every year my own work became more and more prosaic, and yet more and more absorbing. Neither at Berlin nor afterwards at Paris, had I time or inclination to make new friends or cultivate literary society. Berlin never was rich in poets or 71poetry; Paris also, when I was there in 1844, and again in 1847 and 1848, had no names to attract me. Lamartine had some fascination for me, and I managed to see him and hear much about him from a common friend, Baron von Eckstein. This German Baron was a well-known character in Paris between 1840 and 1850, a German settled there for many years, a Roman Catholic, much mixed up, I believe, in small political transactions, and a constant contributor to the Augsburger Zeitung, at that time the Times of Germany. He was a man of wide interests, a student of Sanskrit, chiefly attracted by the mystic philosophy of the Upanishads and the Vedânta. When he heard of my having come to Paris to attend Burnouf’s lectures and to prepare the first edition of the “Rig Veda,” he toiled up to my rooms, though they were au cinquième and he was an old man and a martyr to gout. He was full of enthusiasm, and full of kindness for a poor student. I was very poor then; I hardly know now how I managed to keep myself afloat, yet I never borrowed and never owed a penny to anybody. I disliked giving lessons, but I worked like a horse for others, copying and collating manuscripts at the Bibliothèque Royale. I lived like a Hindu Sannyâsin, but, as Heine said,

Und ich hab’ es doch ertragen—
Aber fragt mich nur nicht wie.

72Baron Eckstein’s eyes were too weak to allow him to copy and collate Sanskrit manuscripts, and I gladly did it for him. I recollect copying for him, among other texts, the whole of the Aitarêya Brâhmana in Latin letters. I still possess a copy of it. He paid me liberally, and he often invited me to lunch with him at his café, which was welcome to a young man of good appetite, who had to be satisfied with wretched dinners at the Palais Royal, but not at Véfour’s or the Trois Frères Provençaux. Being the Paris correspondent of the leading German paper, the Baron was on friendly terms with many of the political and literary celebrities of the time. I believe he was in receipt of a literary pension from the French Government, but I do not know it for certain. He offered to introduce me to George Sand, to Lamennais, to the Comtesse d’Agout (Daniel Stern), to Lamartine, Victor Hugo, and others. But I shut my eyes and shook my head; I had no time then for anything but the Veda, and getting ready for the great battle of life that was before me. I am sorry for it now, but, without self-denial, we can never do anything.

When the February revolution came, Baron d’Eckstein was very active. His friend Lamartine was then in the ascendant, and through him he knew all that was going on. No revolution, I 73believe, was ever made with so little preparation. There was no conspiracy of any kind. A night or two before the contemplated banquet to Ledru Rollin, Lamartine was asked by his friends, Eckstein being present, whether he would accept office under the Duchesse d’Orléans, provided she was proclaimed Regent in the Chamber. He laughed as if it were an idle dream, outside the sphere of practical politics, as we now say, but he accepted. The Duchesse and her friends counted on him, and his prestige at that time was so great that he might have carried anything. But no one knows his own prestige, and when the moment came, when the Duchesse d’Orléans was present in the Chamber and Lamartine was expected to speak, there was confusion and fright; some shots had been fired in the Assembly, the name of the Republic had been shouted, the Deputies broke up, and the Duchesse had to fly. Never was kingdom lost with so little excuse. I saw the whole so-called revolution from my windows at the corner of the Rue Royale and the Boulevard de la Madeleine. I may have to describe what I saw at some other time. At present I am thinking of the poet-statesman only, of Lamartine and his brilliant speech from the balcony of the Hôtel de Ville.

Whatever Lamartine was, a poet, a dreamer, an aristocrat, he had the spirit of noblesse in him, 74and that spirit prevailed at the time. It was due to him, I believe, that capital punishment was then abolished once for all for political offences. Sinister elements came to the surface, but they had soon to hide again. I remember another speaker at the Hôtel de Ville, speaking after Lamartine in support of the abolition of every kind of title and privilege, and, before all, for the abolition of the nobility. He was eloquent, he was furious, and after he had summed up all the crimes committed by the French nobility and laughed at those who had grown rich and powerful by the misdeeds of their noble ancestors, he finished up in a loud voice, “Soyons ancêtres nous-mêmes,” a sentiment loudly applauded by the unwashed multitudes who aspired to take the place of the ancêtres whom they had just heard execrated from the balcony of their terrible Hôtel de Ville.

All the walls in the streets where I lived were then chalked with the mysterious words, Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. Not far from my house there was a tobacconist’s shop, called Aux trois blagues, with three tobacco pouches painted over the window. My friend, the tobacconist, was an aristo, so he left the trois blagues and simply wrote underneath, Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.

But I must not forget another poet, the greatest German poet I have ever known, and of whom I 75saw a great deal at Berlin before I migrated to Paris, I mean Rückert. It is strange how little his poems are known in England and France. He has never had an apostle, nor would a mere herald do him much service. He was a poet somewhat like Wordsworth, who must be laid siege to, not till he surrenders, but till we surrender to him. If he is known at all in England, it is through his lyric poems, which have been set to music, as they deserved to be, by Schumann. Who has not heard “Du, meine Seele, du, mein Herz,” one of the grandest songs of our age? But, alas! either the words are murdered in a translation which would break the heart both of the poet and the composer, or the German words are often pronounced so badly that no one can tell whether they are English or German or Sanskrit. Rückert was one of the richest poets. There is hardly a branch of poetry which he has not cultivated. I say cultivated on purpose, for his poetry was always a work of art, sometimes almost of artifice. He was not equally successful in all his poetical compositions: particularly towards the end of his life he disappointed many of his admirers by his dramatic attempts. He is like Wordsworth in this respect also, that one cannot enjoy all he writes, yet in the end one comes to enjoy much that has been put aside at first, because it comes from him.

76I may be prejudiced, yet a poet whose verses Goethe repeated on his deathbed is not likely to be overrated by me. These are the verses which, we are told, Goethe murmured before he exclaimed, “More light, more light!” and passed away:—

Um Mitternacht
Hab’ ich gewacht
Und aufgeblickt zum Himmel,
Kein Stern am Sterngewimmel
Hat mir gelacht
Um Mitternacht.
Um Mitternacht
Hab’ ich gedacht
Hinaus in dunkle Schranken;
Es hat kein Lichtgedanken
Mir Trost gebracht
Um Mitternacht.
Um Mitternacht
Nahm ich in Acht
Die Schläge meines Herzens;
Ein einz’ger Puls des Schmerzens
War angefacht
Um Mitternacht.
Um Mitternacht
Kämpft’ ich die Schlacht
77O Menschheit, deiner Leiden;
Nicht konnt’ ich sie entscheiden
Mit meiner Macht
Um Mitternacht.
Um Mitternacht
Hab’ ich die Macht
In deine Hand gegeben:
Herr über Tod und Leben,
Du hältst die Wacht
Um Mitternacht.

If I had a strong personal liking for Rückert it might be excused. He was really an Eastern poet, rich in colour, but equally rich in thought.

The first poems of his I knew in my youth were his “Oestliche Rosen.” My father reviewed them (“Vermischte Schriften,” vol. v., p. 290). He declared he might have judged them by one letter, the letter K, which in Roman times meant condemnation, but which in Rückert’s case would give to his “Oestliche Rosen” their right title of “Köstliche Rosen.” One of Rückert’s greatest works, a real treasury of meditative thought and mature wisdom, was his “Weisheit des Brahmanen,” and this also appealed, no doubt, strongly to my own personal tastes. His translations of Oriental poetry, Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, are perfect masterpieces. They often take away one’s 78breath by the extraordinary faithfulness and marvellous reproduction in German of plays on words and jingle of rhymes that seemed to be possible once, and once only, whether in Persian, Arabic, or Sanskrit. I may have been influenced by all this, and still more by my personal regard for the poet, but for all that I should strongly advise all who care for poetry, and for German poetry, to judge for themselves, and not to be disheartened if they do not strike gold on the first pages they open.

To know Rückert personally was a treat. I had heard much about him before I made his acquaintance, when I was a student at Berlin. The Duchess of Anhalt-Dessau, my own peculiar duchess, had in her youth been much admired by the Crown Prince of Prussia, afterwards Frederick William IV. She was herself a Prussian princess, a daughter of Prince Frederick Ludwig Karl of Prussia, who died 1796, and of a Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who after the death of her husband married the Duke of Cumberland, and became Queen of Hanover. This princess, a lady of great natural gifts, highly cultivated and well read, was personally acquainted with some of the most distinguished men in Germany. Even in the narrow sphere in which she had learnt to move and act in Dessau, she did much good in trying to discover young men of talent, and assisting them in their 79studies. She had always been very gracious to me, and even as a boy I was often invited to play with her à quatre mains at the Castle. I saw her for the last time after I had begun my Oriental studies at Leipzig, and before I went to Berlin. She told me then that she herself had known a little Sanskrit, that she and the young Crown Prince of Prussia had learnt the Sanskrit alphabet, and had corresponded in it, to the great annoyance of people who opened or read all letters that were not meant for them. “When you go to Berlin,” she said, “you must see Rückert, but do not be frightened. I was myself most anxious to see him. The King invited him to dinner, together with a number of his illustrious ménagerie. I asked the King where Rückert was sitting, the poet of ‘Frauenliebe’ and ‘Liebesfrühling.’ ‘Look there,’ the King said. ‘That broad-shouldered boor with his elbows on the table, eating a hunk of bread, that is your poet!’ And a désillusionnement it was,” she said. “Still, I was proud to have seen him and to have talked to him.” So I was prepared.

Frederick William IV. had tried hard to attract a number of the most eminent men in Germany to Berlin. Berlin by itself is not attractive, and it seemed as if the men who were then best known in Germany had chosen the South, rather than the North, for their residence. The Brothers Grimm 80Schelling, Cornelius and many more were tempted to Berlin by large salaries, and among them was Rückert also, not so much the Oriental scholar as the poet. He went to Berlin, after long hesitation and misgivings, and announced lectures on Arabic, Persian, and other Oriental languages. But he could not brook the restraints of official life. He had a little Landgut, Neusess, near Coburg, and thither he felt so strongly drawn during the summer that he soon appealed to the Minister of Public Instruction for leave of absence during each summer. This was most graciously granted by the King, but soon after followed a petition for leave of absence during a particularly severe winter. This too was granted, though the Minister ventured to say: “But, my dear Professor, if you are always absent during the summer semester, and now ask for leave of absence during the winter semester also, when do you mean to lecture?” Nor was this all. When I called on the Professor to enter my name for his lectures on the “Gulistan,” a Persian poem, he received me very coldly. He was indeed the broad-shouldered giant whom the Duchess had described to me. He wore a long dressing-gown, and his hair, parted in the middle, was hanging wildly about his temples.

“Why do you want to learn Persian?” he said. I humbly explained my reason. “It is no use your 81learning Persian,” he continued, “if you do not know Arabic.” To this I was able to reply that I had studied Arabic for a year under Professor Fleischer at Leipzig. However, the Professor was not to be foiled. He wanted to get away to Neusess, but at the same time to be able to satisfy the Minister that he had done his duty in offering to lecture. “You know,” he said, “tres faciunt collegium. I cannot lecture for one.” This was unanswerable, according to German academical etiquette. So I bowed, and went into the highways and hedges to secure the help of two commilitones. Accompanied by them, I invaded the Professor once more in his den. All three of us told him that we were most anxious to learn Persian.

One of them actually did wish to learn Persian, and became afterwards a very distinguished scholar. He was then called Paul Bötticher, but he is best known by his later name, Paul de Lagarde, a man of extraordinary power of work and an enormous accumulation of knowledge. When Rückert saw there was no escape, he yielded, at first not with a very good grace; but he soon became most delightful. We were really working together, and when he found out that I was the son of his old friend Wilhelm Müller, nothing could exceed his kindness to me. At first he often confessed to his pupils that he had forgotten his Persian, but with every 82week it seemed to come back to him. Nothing more was said about Neusess, and the fields and meadows and woods that he had to desert for our sakes. Whatever may have been said about Rückert as a professor, he was more useful in his informal teaching than many learned professors who year after year read their lectures to large admiring audiences.

“I cannot teach you Persian,” he used to say, “I can only tell you and show you how to learn it. I learnt everything I know by myself, and so can you. We will work together, but that is all I can do.” It was astounding to see how this giant had worked, all by himself. No one at that time thought, for instance, of studying Tamil. He showed me a copy of a complete Tamil, or was it Telugu, dictionary in folio, which he had copied and largely added to. He had studied Chinese too. He was far advanced in Sanskrit and Zend, and in Arabic and Persian he had probably read more, though in his own way, than many a learned professor. Such an honest student as Rückert was could do more good to his pupils in one hour than others by a whole semester of lecturing. And this is the secret of the success of German professors. They take their pupils into their work-shops, they do not keep them standing and gaping at the show-window. Thus the immense advantage which English 83Universities enjoy in being able to combine professorial with tutorial teaching, is made up for to a certain extent by the devotion of the German professors, who give up their time in their seminaries and so-called societies for the benefit of students who want to learn how to work, and do not wish to be simply crammed for examinations. They make friends of their pupils, their pupils are proud to do much of the drudgery work for them, while they remain for life their grateful pupils and afterwards their loyal colleagues. After term was over, there was, of course, no holding Rückert in Berlin, but he invited me to see him at Neusess, which a few years afterwards I did.

There I found the old man working in his farmyard like a real peasant, pitchforking manure into his cart, and carting it off to the fields. He was delighted to see me, and when he had washed his hands he came into his study to shake hands, and to talk about the work on which I was then engaged. Rückert was a scholar with whom one could discuss any question quite freely. Even if one had to differ from him, he was never offended by contradiction. When we could not agree he used to say: “We will leave this for the present, and discuss it another time.” He told me, among other things, how my father had saved his life.

The two young men were travelling together 84on foot in Italy. Italy was at that time, in the beginning of the century, the cynosure of every German student, and of every German poet. Goethe had described it, and they all wanted to follow in Goethe’s footsteps, and pass their “Wanderjahre” in the “Land wo die Citronen blühn!” How they did it with a few thalers in their pockets we can hardly understand, but it was done.

Rückert and my father were travelling on foot, and they had often to sleep in the poorest osterias. In these wretched hovels they got more than they had bargained for, and one fine morning, after getting out into the fresh air, they saw a lake, and my father jumped in to have a bath. Rückert could not resist, and followed. But he could not swim, the lake was deeper than he had thought, and he was on the point of drowning when my father swam towards him and rescued him. “I wrote my first epic poem then, in the style of Camoens,” said Rückert, with a loud chuckle, “and I called it the ‘Lousiade,’ but it has never been published.” After this visit I lost sight of Rückert, as of many of my German friends. But I still possess the manuscript of a metrical and rhymed version of the Sanskrit poem the “Meghadûta, the Cloud Messenger,” which I made and afterwards published (in 1847), and which contains 85a number of corrections and suggestions made by Rückert in pencil. “I translated it myself,” he said to me, “but I shall not publish my translation now.”

During my stay in Paris, as I remarked, there was no time for poets or poetry. I had to sit up night after night to copy and collate Sanskrit MSS., and I shall never forget how often I screwed down my green-shaded lamp in the morning and saw the sun slowly rising over the Boulevard, and lighting up the arch of the Porte St. Martin. I lived au cinquième in a corner house of the Boulevard de la Madeleine, in a house which exists no longer, or at all events has been very much changed, so that on my last visit I could not find my windows again.



When I had settled in England in 1847, my literary acquaintances began afresh. I have had the good fortune of being on more or less intimate terms with such poets as Kingsley, Clough, Matthew Arnold, Tennyson, Browning, and with poets in prose such as Froude, Ruskin, Carlyle, and I may add, in spite of the Atlantic, Emerson, Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. I knew other writers such as Macaulay, Arthur Helps, Arthur Stanley, Frederick Maurice, Dr. Martineau; I may add even the names of Faraday, Lyall, Sedgwick, Thirlwall, Grote, Whewell, Richard Owen, Darwin, Huxley, among my personal acquaintances or friends.

Kingsley was married to one of my wife’s aunts. She was one of six most remarkable sisters, all married except the eldest and, I believe, the most gifted, who had devoted her life to the education of her younger sisters. Besides Charles Kingsley, 87the husbands of the other sisters were Froude, the historian; Lord Wolverton, of high standing in the financial world as the head of the house of Glyn, and the valued adviser of Mr. Gladstone in his earlier financial reforms; R. Mertyns Bird, an illustrious name in the history of India as the organiser of the North-Western Provinces; and “S. G. O.”

How soon popularity vanishes! There was a time when everybody knew and spoke of “S. G. O.” He was Lord Sidney Godolphin Osborne, an influential writer on political and social subjects, a frequent contributor to The Times during the Crimean War, a man of great force and independence of character. He was a giant in stature, and extremely attractive by his varied knowledge in different branches of physical science. He was a well-known microscopist, and when it was wanted, a doctor, a nurse, a surgeon, a dentist. However, he was not a poet, like his two brothers-in-law. He was an active clergyman, a sanitary reformer, a ready helper wherever poor people were ready to be helped. These five men, the husbands of five remarkable sisters—of whom one, Mrs. Bird, is still living at the age of ninety-six (she died this year), and not only living, but alive to all that is interesting in the world, and full of good works—represented a power in England. 88“S. G. O.” moved in a sphere of his own, and seldom came to Oxford. But Kingsley and Froude soon became my intimate friends.

If I call Froude a poet it is because, as I explained before, I do not consider rhyme as essential to poetry. But for really poetical power, for power of description, of making the facts of history alive, of laying bare the deepest thoughts of men and the most mysterious feelings of women, there was no poet or historian of our age who came near him. I knew him through all his phases. I knew him first when he was still a fellow of Exeter College. I was at that time often with him in his rooms in High Street, opposite to St. Mary’s Church, when he was busy writing novels, and I well remember passing an evening with him and trying to find the right name for a novel which afterwards appeared under the title of “Nemesis of Faith.” I saw him almost daily while his persecution at Oxford was going on, gaining strength every day. He had to give up his fellowship, on which he chiefly depended. I will not repeat the old story that his novel was publicly burnt in the quadrangle of Exeter College. The story is interesting as showing how quickly a myth can spring up even in our own lifetime, if only there is some likelihood in it, and something that pleases the popular taste. What really happened was, as I 89was informed at the time by Froude himself, no more than that one of the tutors (Dr. Sewell) spoke about the book at the end of one of his College Lectures. He warned the young men against the book, and asked whether anybody had read it. One of the undergraduates produced a copy which belonged to him. Dr. Sewell continued his sermonette, and warming with his subject, he finished by throwing the book, which did not belong to him, into the fire, at the same time stirring the coals to make them burn. Of what followed there are two versions. Dr. Sewell, when he had finished, asked his class, “Now, what have I done?” “You have burned my copy,” the owner of the book said in a sad voice, “and I shall have to buy a new one.” The other version of the reply was, “You have stirred the fire, sir.”

And so it was. A book which at present would call forth no remark, no controversy, was discussed in all the newspapers, and raised a storm all over England. Bishops shook their heads, nay even their fists, at the young heretic, and even those among his contemporaries at Oxford who ought to have sympathised with him, and were in fact quite as unorthodox as he was, did not dare to stand up for him or lend him a helping hand. Stanley alone never said an unkind word of him. The worst was that Froude not only lost his fellowship, 90but when he had accepted the Headmastership of a college far away in Tasmania, his antagonists did not rest till his appointment had been cancelled. Froude unfortunately was poor, and his father, a venerable and well-to-do Archdeacon, was so displeased with his son that he stopped the allowance which he had formerly made him. It seems almost as if the poverty of a victim gave increased zest and enjoyment to his pursuers. Froude had to sell his books one by one, and was trying hard to support himself by his pen. This was then not so easy a matter as it is now. At that very time, however, I received a cheque for £200 from an unknown hand, with a request that I would hand it to Froude to show him that he had friends and sympathisers who would not forsake him. It was not till many years later that I discovered the donor, and Froude was then able to return him the money which at the time had saved him from drowning. I should like to mention the name, but that kind friend in need is no longer among the living, and I have a feeling that even now he would wish his name to remain unknown. This is by no means the only instance of true English generosity which I have witnessed. But at the time I confess that I was surprised, for I did not yet know how much of secret goodness, how much of secret strength there is in England, 91how much of that real public spirit, of that chivalrous readiness to do good and to resist evil without lifting the vizor. Froude had a hard struggle before him, and, being a very sensitive man, he suffered very keenly. Several times I remember when I was walking with him and friends or acquaintances of his were passing by without noticing him, he turned to me and said: “That was another cut.” I hardly understood then what he meant, but I felt that he meant not only that he had been dropped by his friends, but that he felt cut to the quick. Persecution, however, did not dishearten him; on the contrary, it called forth his energies, and the numerous essays from his pen, now collected under the title “Short Studies on Great Subjects,” show how he worked, how he thought, how he followed the course that seemed right to him without looking either right or left. Bunsen, who was at the time the Prussian Minister in London, and had heard from me about Froude, took a deep interest in him, and after consulting with Archdeacon Hare and Frederick Maurice, suggested that he should spend a few years at a German university. I was asked to bring my young friend to Carlton Terrace, where Bunsen received him with the truest kindness. What he tried to impress on him was that the questions which disturbed him required first of all 92a historical treatment, and that before we attempt to solve difficulties we should always try to learn how they arose. Froude was on the point of going to Germany with the assistance of some of Bunsen’s friends when other prospects opened to him in England. But frequently in later life he referred to his interview with Bunsen and said, “I never knew before what it meant that a man could drive out devils.”

I confess I was somewhat surprised when Froude suddenly told me of his plan of writing a History of England, beginning with Henry VIII. My idea of a historian was that of a professor who had read and amassed materials during half his life, and at the end produced a ponderous book, half text, half notes. But, hazardous as the idea of writing a History of England seemed to me for so young a man, I soon perceived that Froude had an object in writing, and he certainly set to work with wonderful perseverance. Few of his critics have given him credit for what he did at Simancas and at the Record Office in London. I have seen him at work, morning and evening, among piles of notes and extracts. I know how the pages which are such pleasant light reading were written again and again till he was satisfied. Often I had to confess to him that I never copied what I had once written, and he was outspoken 93enough to tell me, “But you ought; and you will never write good English if you don’t.” He learnt Spanish, French, and German, so as to be able to read new and old books in these languages. He always kept up his classical reading, and translated, as far as I remember, several Greek texts from beginning to end. To these he afterwards referred, and quoted from them, without always, as he ought, going back again to the original Greek.

It is not for me to say that he did not make mistakes, and that he was not weak in some branches of historical knowledge. I cannot deny that in his translations also there are mistakes, arising from haste rather than from ignorance. But who has ever examined any translation from any language, without finding signs of what seems carelessness or ignorance? Four eyes see more than two. We have translations of Plato and Aristotle in Latin and in almost every language of Europe. The text has been critically examined for hundreds of years, and every difficult passage has been explained again and again. But is there any one translation which could be called immaculate? Was not even the last translation of Plato which is so deservedly popular, characterised by the late Rector of Lincoln, in the well-known words of a French writer, as très belle, mais peu 94fidèle? Now, while the true scholar, when examining a new translation, rejoices over every new happy rendering, the ill-natured critic, particularly if he wants to display his own superior knowledge, can easily pick out a number of passages where a mistake has been made, or where he thinks that a mistake has been made, and then proceed to show that the very best Greek scholar of the day does not know “what every schoolboy ought to know,” etc. There are many passages in Greek and other authors that admit of more than one translation. If the translator adopts one and rejects another, the game of the critic is easy enough: he has only to adopt the rejected rendering, and his triumph is secured. If that is so in Greek, how much more is it the case in translating passages from faded documents written in antiquated Spanish, nay, even letters of Erasmus written in his peculiar Latin, or statutes in Norman-French.

Translation is a difficult art, and scholars, particularly those who know the language from which, or the language into which, they translate as well as their own, consider a good translation almost impossible. I have had some experience in translating, and I know something of the treatment which translators may expect from conceited critics. The Sacred Books of the East, translated 95by myself and a number of friends, the best scholars I could find, have not escaped that kind of pedantic criticism. Impartial and honest critics have recognised the difficulties under which scholars labour in translating, often for the first time, ancient texts, whether Greek or Sanskrit. It is easy enough to translate a text, after it has once been translated; it is easy even to improve in a few places on the translations of the first pioneers. But to translate for the first time an ancient text, badly edited or not yet edited at all, is a totally different thing, and those who undertake it have a right not only to the indulgence, but to the gratitude of all who come after them. No one in our sphere of studies would call himself a scholar who has not edited a text never edited before, or at least translated a text that never was translated before. There are some critics who think they have done their duty if they can discover a few flaws in a translation, though they cannot even appreciate the labours and the brilliant though silent discoveries of a first translator. The work that has to be done by a first translator of an ancient text is often the work of a real decipherer. He has to grope his way through Egyptian darkness like the first interpreter of an Egyptian or Babylonian inscription. He cannot help making mistakes. But though we know now how 96often even a Champollion (died 1832) was mistaken, do we not feel ashamed if we read what another most eminent Egyptologist and Coptic scholar, Amadeo Peyron (died 1870), the head of the Egyptian Museum at Turin, said of Champollion? “I have known Champollion,” he said, “the so-called decipherer of hieroglyphics, very well, from his first visits to our Museum. I took him for an ordinary swindler, and his publications have afterwards confirmed me in my views. His philological labours have remained to me unsolved riddles.”[7]

I have lately had another experience. I had to revise my translation of Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason,” and I was surprised to see how many passages there were which I had to alter, not because I did not know either German or English, but because in many places a translation can only be approximately faithful; and it is only a happy thought that enables us now and then to approach nearer to the German original, though in that case often at the expense of the English idiom.

In the case of Froude, we must remember that, whatever he wrote, he had to meet not a single critic only, but a whole army. As far as one could see, a kind of association had been formed for the suppression of his “History.” Those who 97were behind the scenes know how certain of his rivals and enemies actually banded themselves together, as if against a common enemy. Now, I remember seeing in Fraser’s Magazine, then edited by Froude, a review of Green’s “History of the English People,” with pages and pages of mistakes in names, in dates, in facts. Yet, the same writers who delighted in picking holes in Froude’s “History” from week to week, from month to month, from year to year, kept up a constant chorus of applause for Green’s “History of the English People”—no doubt rightly so; but why not mete the same measure to others also? One of his reviewers openly confessed that if he took the trouble of reading a book carefully, he could not afford to review it in one paper only, he had to write at least five or six articles to make it pay. This Φρουδοφονία, as it was called, went on year after year, but, strange to say, Froude’s work was not killed by it; on the contrary, it became more and more popular. In fact, together with his other works, it enabled him to live independently and even comfortably by his pen. Things have come to such a pass that, if we may trust the experience of publishers, nothing sells so well as a well-abused book, while laudatory notices seem to produce little or no effect. The public, it seems, has grown too wise. Even such powerful adjectives 98as epoch-making (Epoche-machend), monumental and even pyramidal, fall flat. Epoche-machend has too often been found out to mean no more than Poche-machend (Poche in German means claque), and monumental has once or twice proved a misprint for momental or momentary. Few scholars would agree with M. Le Bon that “works of history must be considered as works of pure imagination, as fanciful accounts of ill-observed facts.” This is a French exaggeration. But neither are books of history meant to be mere chronicles. History is surely meant to teach not only facts, but lessons also; and, though historians may say that facts ought to speak for themselves, they will not speak without a vates sacer. I am the last man to stand up for an unscholarlike treatment of history, or of anything else. But as I do not call a man a scholar who simply copies and collates MSS., makes indices or collects errata, I doubt whether mere Quellenstudium will make a historian. Quellenstudium is a sine quâ non, but it is not everything; and whereas the number of those who can ransack archives and libraries is large, the world has not been rich in real historians whom it is a delight to listen to, such as Herodotus, Thucydides, Livy and Tacitus, Montesquieu, Gibbon, and, may we not add, Macaulay and Froude? None of these historians, not even Gibbon, has 99escaped criticism, but how poor should we be without them!

Sir Walter Raleigh, when he was writing his “History of the World” in the Tower of London, overheard two boys quarrelling over the facts of an incident that had happened the day before; and he said to himself: “If these two boys cannot agree on an event which occurred almost before their own eyes, how can any one be profited by the narration which I am writing, of events which occurred in ages long past?” The answer which the critical historian would give to Raleigh would probably be: “Go and examine the two boys; find out their home, their relations, their circumstances, particularly the opportunities they had of seeing what they profess to have seen; and try to discover whether there was any bias in their minds that could have made them incline towards one side rather than the other. Give all that evidence, and then you are a real historian.” But is that true, and were any of the great historians satisfied with that? Was not their heart in their work, and is the heart ever far from what we call bias? Did not Herodotus, in describing the conflict between Greece and Asia, clearly espouse the cause of Greece? I know he has been called the father of lies rather than of history; but he has survived for all that. Did not Thucydides throughout 100his history write as the loyal son of Athens? Was Tacitus very anxious to find out all that could be said in favour of Tiberius? Was even Gibbon, in his “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” quite impartial? Ranke’s “History of the Popes,” may be very accurate, but for thousands who read Macaulay and Froude is there one who reads Ranke, except the historian by profession? History is not written for historians only. Macaulay wrote the history of the English Restoration as a partisan, and Froude made no secret on which side he would have fought, if he had lived through the storms of the English Reformation. If Macaulay had been one of the two boys of Sir Walter Raleigh, he would probably not have discovered some of the dark shadows on the face of William III. which struck the other boy; while some critics might possibly say of Froude that in drawing the picture of Henry VIII. he may have followed now and then the example of Nelson in the use of his telescope. Still, in describing such recent periods as the reign of Henry VIII., historians cannot, at all events, go very far wrong in dates or names. Froude may have been wrong in embracing the cause of Henry VIII. and accepting all the excuses or explanations which could be given for his violent acts. But Froude is, at all events, honest, in so far that no one can fail to see where his 101sympathies lie, so that he really leaves us free to decide what side we ourselves should take.

When the historian has to analyse prominent characters, and bring them again full of life on the stage of history, is it not the artist, nay the poet, who has to do the chief work, and not the mere chronicler? In Froude’s case the difficulty was very great. The contemporary estimates of Henry’s character were most conflicting, and without taking a line of his own, without claiming in fact the same privilege which Henry’s contemporaries claimed, whether friends or foes, it would have been impossible for him to create a character that should be consistent and intelligible. There was nothing too fiendish to be told of the English king by the Papal party, and yet we cannot help asking how such a caitiff, as he is represented to have been by Roman Catholic agents, could have retained the love of the English people and secured the services of some of the best among the noblemen and gentlemen of his time? If we take upon ourselves to reject all reports of Royal Commissioners in Henry’s reign as corrupt and mendacious, would it be worth while to write any history of the English people at all? It is, no doubt, an ungrateful task to whitewash a historical character that has been besmirched for years by a resolute party. Yet it has to be done from time to time, from a 102sense of justice, and not from a mere spirit of opposition. Carlyle’s heroes were nearly all the best-abused men in Christendom: Frederick the Great, Cromwell, and Goethe. Every one of these characters was lying, as Carlyle said himself, under infinite dung; yet every one of them is now admired by thousands, because they trust in Carlyle. It was the same Carlyle who encouraged Froude in his work of rehabilitating Bluff King Hal, and we ought, at all events, to be grateful to him for having enabled us to know all that can be said by the king’s advocates. If Froude wrote as a partisan, he wrote, at the same time, as a patriot, and if a patriot sees but one side of the truth, some one else will see the other.

Can we imagine any history of our own times written from the pole star, and not from amid the turmoil of contending parties? Would a history of the reign of Queen Victoria, written by Gladstone, be very like a history written by Disraeli? However, these squabbles of reviewers about the histories of Macaulay and Froude are now almost entirely forgotten, while the historical dramas which Macaulay and Froude have left us, remain, and Englishmen are proud of possessing two such splendid monuments of the most important periods of their history. Macaulay’s account of William III. remained unfinished, and it is characteristic 103of Froude that, if I understood him rightly, he gave up the idea of finishing the reign of Queen Elizabeth, because, as an Englishman, he was disappointed in her character towards the end of her reign.

I saw much of Froude again during the last years of his life, when he returned to Oxford as Regius Professor of History, having been appointed by Lord Salisbury. “It is the first public recognition I have received,” he used to say. He rejoiced in it, and he certainly did credit to Lord Salisbury’s courageous choice. His lectures were brilliant, and the room was crowded to the end. His private lectures also were largely attended, and he was on the most friendly and intimate terms with some of his pupils.

There is no place so trying for a professor as Oxford. Froude’s immediate predecessors, Goldwin Smith, Stubbs, and Freeman, were some of the best men that Oxford has produced. Their lectures were excellent in every respect. Yet every one of them had to complain of the miserable scantiness of their audiences at Oxford. The present Bishop of Oxford, Dr. Stubbs, in his “Seventeen Lectures on the Study of Mediæval and Modern History” (1886), states what may sound almost incredible, that he had sometimes to deliver his lectures “to two or three listless men.” The same 104may be said of some of the best lectures delivered in the University. The young men are encouraged in each college to attend the lectures delivered by the tutors, and are given to understand that professorial lectures “do not pay” in the examinations. These examinations are chiefly in the hands of college tutors. Professor Stubbs was not given to complain about anything that might seem to concern himself, yet he confesses that “sometimes he felt hurt that in the combined lecture list he found the junior assistant tutor advertising a course on the same subject, or at the same hours, as his own.” Nay, he goes so far in his modesty as to say: “It may be better that there should be a dozen or fifteen college lecturers working away with large classes, when I have only a few stray men,” but the real friends of the University would hardly think so. As things are at present, it has been said, and, I believe, truly said, that nearly all professorial lectures might be abolished, and the studies of the undergraduates would go on just the same. Oxford suffers in this respect from a real embarras de richesse. The University is rich enough, though by no means so rich as it was formerly, to keep up a double staff of teachers, professorial and tutorial. It supports sixty-five professors, readers, and lecturers, and probably four or five times as many tutors. Many of the tutors 105are quite equal to the professors, nay, it may be, even superior to them, but the most popular tutor, whose lectures, when in college, were crowded, has to be satisfied with two or three listless men as soon as he has been raised to the professoriate. Froude’s lectures formed an exception, but even this was quoted against him.

Froude was not only the most fascinating lecturer, but the most charming companion and friend. His conversation was like his writings. It never tired one, it never made one feel his superiority. His store of anecdotes was inexhaustible, and though in his old age they were sometimes repeated, they were always pleasant to listen to. He enjoyed them so thoroughly himself, he chuckled over them, he covered his eyes as if half ashamed of telling them. They are all gone now, and a pity it is, for most of them referred to what he had actually seen, not only to what he had heard, and he had seen and heard a good deal, both in Church and State. He knew the little failings of great men, he knew even the peccadilloes of saints, better than anybody. He was never ill-natured in his judgments, he knew the world too well for that, and it is well, perhaps, that many things which he knew should be forgotten. He himself insisted on all letters being destroyed that had been addressed to him, and from a high sense 106of duty, left orders that his own letters, addressed to his friends, should not be divulged after his death. Though he left an unfinished autobiography, extremely interesting to the few friends who were allowed to read it, those who decided that it should not be published have acted, no doubt, wisely and entirely in his spirit.

My friend Charles Kingsley was a very different man. He was a strong man, while Froude had some feminine weaknesses, but also some of the best feminine excellencies. His life and his character are well known from that excellent biography published by his gifted widow, not much more than a year after his death. This Life of hers really gave a new life to him, and secured a new popularity and influence to his writings. In him, too, what I admired besides his delightful character was his poetical power, his brilliant yet minute and accurate descriptions of nature, and the characters he created in his novels. With all the biographies that are now published, how little do people know after all of the man they are asked to love or hate! In order to judge of a man, we ought to know in what quarry the marble of which he was made was carved, what sunshine there was to call forth the first germs of his mind, nay, even whether he was rich or poor, whether he had what we rightly call an independence, and whether from 107his youth he was and felt himself a free man. There is something in the character of a man like Stanley, for instance, which we have no right to expect in a man who had to struggle in life like Kingsley. The struggle for life may bring out many fine qualities, but it cannot but leave traces of the struggle, a certain amount of self-assertion, a love of warfare, and a more or less pronounced satisfaction at having carried the day against all rivals and opponents. These are the temptations of a poor man which do not exist for a man of independent means. It is no use shutting our eyes to this. Every fight entails blows, and wounds, and scars, and some of them remain for life. Kingsley seems to have had no anxieties as a young man at school or at the University, but when he had left the University and become a curate, and, more particularly, when he had married on his small curacy and there were children, his struggles began in good earnest. He had often to write against time; he had to get up subject after subject in order to be able to write an article, simply that he might be able to satisfy the most troublesome tradesmen. He always wrote at very high pressure; fortunately his physical frame was of iron, and his determination like that of a runaway horse. People may say that he had the usual income of a country clergyman, but why will 108they forget that a man in Kingsley’s position had not only to give his children an expensive education, but had to keep open house for his numerous friends and admirers? There was no display in his quiet rectory at Eversley, but even the simplest hospitality entails more expense than a small living can bear, and his friends and visitors ranged from the lowest to the highest—from poor workmen to English and foreign royalties. As long as he could wield his pen he could procure the necessary supplies, but it had to be done with a very great strain on the brain. “It must be done, and it shall be done,” he said; yes, but though most of his work was done, and well done, it was like the work of an athlete who breaks down at the end of the day when his victory is won. People did not see it and did not know it, for he never would yield, and never would show signs of yielding. When, towards the end of his life, a canonry was offered him, first at Chester, then at Westminster, he felt truly grateful. “After all,” he said to me, “these stalls are good for old horses.” His professorship at Cambridge was really too much for him. He was not prepared for it. Personally he did much good among the young men, and was certainly most popular. At Cambridge as a professor he did his best, but he had hardly calculated Quid valeant humeri, quid ferre recusent. 109Anyhow, the work soon became too much even for his iron constitution, and he was glad to be relieved. The fact is that Kingsley was all his life, in everything he thought and in everything he did, a poet, a man of high ideals, and likewise of unswerving honesty. No one knew Kingsley, such as he really was, who had not seen him at Eversley, and among his poor people. He visited every cottage, he knew every old man and old woman, and was perfectly at home among them. His “Village Sermons” gave them just the food they wanted, though it was curious to see every Sunday a large sprinkling of young officers from Sandhurst and Aldershot sitting quietly among the smock-frocked congregation, and anxious to have some serious conversation with the preacher afterwards. Kingsley was a great martyr to stammering, it often was torture to him in a lively conversation to keep us all waiting till his thoughts could break through again. In church, however, whether he was reading or speaking extempore, there was no sign of stammering; apparently there was no effort to overcome it. But when we walked home from church he would say: “Oh, let me stammer now, you won’t mind it.”

He was not a learned theologian, his one idea of Christianity was practical Christianity, honesty, purity, love. He was always most courteous, most 110willing to bow before higher authority or greater learning; but when he thought there was anything wrong, or mean, or cowardly, anything with which he, as an honest man, could not agree, he was as firm as a rock.

His favourite pursuits lay in natural science. He knew every flower, every bird, every fish, and every insect in his neighbourhood, and he had imbibed a belief in the laws of nature, which represented to him indirectly the thoughts of God. When, therefore, after a long continuance of drought, the bishop of his diocese ordered him to have a special prayer for rain, he respectfully and firmly declined. He would pray for the good gifts of heaven, offer thanks to God for all that He was pleased to send in His wisdom, but he would not enter into particulars with Him, he would not put his own small human wisdom against the Divine wisdom; he would not preach on what he thought was good for us, for God knew best. He had no difficulty in persuading his farmers and labourers that if they had any trust in God, and any reverence for the Divine wisdom that rules the world, they would place all their troubles and cares before Him in prayer, but they would not beg for anything which, in His wisdom, He withheld from them. “Thy will be done,” that was his prayer for rain. There was great commotion in ecclesiastical dovecotes, 111most of all in episcopal palaces. All sorts of punishments were threatened, but Kingsley remained throughout perfectly quiet, yet most determined. He would not degrade his sacred office to that of a rain-maker or medicine-man, and he carried his point. “In America we manage these things better!” said an American friend of Kingsley. “A clergyman in a village on the frontier between two of our States prayed for rain. The rain came, and it soaked the ground to such an extent that the young lambs in the neighbouring State caught cold and died. An action was brought against the clergyman for the mischief he had done, and he and his parishioners were condemned to pay damages to the sheep farmers. They never prayed for rain again after that.”

Kingsley incurred great displeasure by the support he gave to what was called Christian Socialism. His novel “Alton Locke,” contained some very outspoken sentiments as to the terrible sufferings of the poor and the duties of the rich. Kingsley, Frederick Maurice, and their friends, did not only plead, but they acted; they formed societies to assist poor tailors, and for a time the clothes they wore showed but too clearly that they had been cut in Whitechapel, not in Regent Street. Poor Kingsley suffered not only in his wardrobe, but in his purse also, owing to his having been 112too sanguine in his support of tailoring by co-operation.

However, his books, both in prose and poetry, became more and more popular, and this meant that his income became larger and larger.

Publishers say that novels and sermons have the largest market in England and the colonies, and Kingsley provided both. All went on well: even his being stopped once in the middle of a sermon by a clergyman who had invited him to preach in his church in London, but did not approve of his sermon, did not hurt him. He had many influential friends; both the Queen and the Prince of Wales had shown by special marks of favour how much they appreciated him, and he had a right to look forward to ecclesiastical preferment and to a greater amount of leisure and freedom. One unexpected cloud, however, came to darken his bright and happy life. Some people will say that he brought it upon himself, but there are certain clouds which no honest man can help bringing upon himself. He, no doubt, began the painful controversy with Newman. Having seen how much misery had been caused among some of his own dearest friends by the Romanising teaching under the auspices of Newman and Pusey, he made the mistake of fastening the charge of dishonesty, half-heartedness, and untruthfulness on 113Newman personally, instead of on the whole Roman Catholic propaganda in England from the time of Henry VIII.’s apostasy from the Roman Church to that of Newman’s apostasy from the Church of England. I shall not enter into this controversy again. I have done so once, and have been well punished for having ventured to declare my honest conviction that throughout this painful duel Kingsley was in the right. But Kingsley was clumsy and Newman most skilful. Besides, Newman was evidently a man of many friends, and of many able friends who knew how to wield their pens in many a newspaper.

In spite of having taken a most unpopular step in leaving the national church, Newman always retained the popularity which he had so well earned as a member of that Church. I have myself been one of his true admirers, partly from having known many of his intimate friends at Oxford, partly from having studied his earlier works when I first came to England. I read them more for their style than for their contents. If Newman had left behind him no more than his exquisite University sermons and his sweet hymns he would always have stood high among the glories of England. But Kingsley also was loved by the people and surrounded by numerous and powerful friends. It must be due to my ignorance of the 114national character, but I have certainly never been able to explain why public sympathy went so entirely with Newman and against Kingsley; why Kingsley was supposed to have acted unchivalrously and Newman was looked upon as a martyr to his convictions, and as the victim of an illiberal and narrow-minded Anglican clique. Certain it is that in the opinion of the majority Kingsley had failed, and failed ignominiously, while Newman’s popularity revived and became greater than ever.

Kingsley felt his defeat most deeply; he was like a man that stammered, and could not utter at the right time the right word that was in his mind. What is still more surprising was the sudden collapse of the sale of Kingsley’s most popular books. I saw him after he had been with his publishers to make arrangements for the sale of his copyrights. He wanted the money to start his sons, and he had a right to expect a substantial sum. The sum offered him seemed almost an insult, and yet he assured me that he had seen the books of his publishers, and that the sale of his books during the last years did not justify a larger offer. He was miserable about it, as well he might be. He felt not only the pecuniary loss, but, as he imagined, the loss of that influence which he had gained by years of hard labour.

However, he was mistaken in his idea that he 115had laboured in vain. Immediately after his death there came the most extraordinary reaction. His books sold again in hundreds of thousands, and his family received in one year a great deal more from his royalties than had been offered him for the whole copyright of all his books. People are more willing now to admit that though Newman may have been right in his “Apologia pro Vita Sua,” Kingsley was not wrong in pointing out the weak points in Newman’s character and in the moral and political doctrines of the Roman Catholic system, more particularly of the Jesuits, and the dangers that threatened his beloved England from those who seemed halting between the two Churches, the one national, the other foreign, the one reformed, the other unreformed.

There was another occasion when Newman’s and Kingsley’s friends had a sharp conflict at Oxford. When the Prince of Wales was invited to Oxford to receive his honorary degree of D.C.L., he had, as was the custom, sent to the Chancellor a list of names of his friends on whom he wished that the same degree should be conferred at the same time. One of them was Kingsley, then one of his chaplains. When his name was proposed a strong protest was made by Dr. Pusey and his friends, no one could understand why. Dr. Pusey declared distinctly that he did not mean to contest Kingsley’s 116orthodoxy, but when asked at last to give his reasons, he declared that Kingsley’s “Hypatia” was an immoral book. This was too much for Dr. Stanley, who challenged Pusey to produce one single passage in “Hypatia” which could be called immoral. On such conditions Shakespeare could never have received an honorary degree from the University of Oxford. I still possess the copy of “Hypatia” which Stanley examined, marking every passage that could possibly be called immoral. It need hardly be said that there was none. Still Dr. Pusey threatened to veto the degree in Convocation and to summon his friends from the country to support him. And what could have been done to prevent an unseemly scandal on such an occasion as a royal visit to Oxford? Dr. Stanley and his friends yielded, and Kingsley’s name was struck out from the Prince’s list, and, what was still worse, it was never placed again on the list of honorary doctors such as might really have reflected honour on the University. If ever the secret history of the degrees conferred honoris causa by the University of Oxford on truly eminent persons, not members of the University, comes to be written, the rejection of Kingsley’s name will not be one of the least interesting chapters.

Kingsley’s death was a severe blow to his country, and his friends knew that his life might have 117been prolonged. It was a sad time I spent with him at Eversley, while his wife lay sick and the doctors gave no hope of her recovery. He himself also was very ill at the time, but a doctor whom the Queen had sent to Eversley told him that with proper care there was no danger for him, that he had the lungs of a horse, but that he required great care. In spite of that warning he would get up and go into the sick-room of his wife, which had to be kept at an icy temperature. He caught cold and died, being fully convinced that his wife had gone before him. And what a funeral it was! But with all the honour that was paid to him, all who walked back to the empty rectory felt that life henceforth was poorer, and that the sun of England would never be so bright or so cheerful again, now that he was gone. Though I admired—as who did not?—his poetical power, his brilliant yet most minute and accurate descriptions of nature, and the lifelike characters he had created in his novels, what we loved most in him was his presence, his delightful stammer, his downright honesty, and the perfect transparency of his moral nature. He was not a child, he was a man, but unspoiled by the struggles of his youth, unspoiled by the experiences of his later years. He was an English gentleman, a perfect specimen of noble English manhood.

118Having been particularly attached to his young niece, my wife, he had at once allowed me a share in his affections, and when other members of her family shook their heads, he stood by me and bade me be of good cheer till the day was won, and she became my wife. That was in 1859. Here are some verses he had addressed to his two nieces, to my wife and to her sister, afterwards Mrs. Theodore Walrond (died 1872):—

TO G***.
A hasty jest I once let fall—
As jests are wont to be, untrue—
As if the sum of joy to you
Were hunt and picnic, rout and ball.
Your eyes met mine: I did not blame;
You saw it: but I touched too near
Some noble nerve; a silent tear
Spoke soft reproach and lofty shame.
I do not wish those words unsaid.
Unspoilt by praise or pleasure, you
In that one look to woman grew,
While with a child, I thought, I played.
Next to mine own beloved so long!
I have not spent my heart in vain.
I watched the blade; I see the grain;
A woman’s soul, most soft, yet strong.
My fairest child, I have no song to give you;
No lark could pipe to skies so dull and grey:
Yet, ere we part, one lesson I can leave you
For every day.
Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever.
Do noble things, not dream them, all day long:
And so make life, death, and that vast for ever
One grand sweet song.

In the original, as written down in her album, there is a third verse between the two:—

I’ll tell you how to sing a clearer carol
Than lark who hails the dawn on breezy down,
To earn yourself a purer poet’s laurel
Than Shakespeare’s crown.


Knowing both Kingsley and Froude very intimately, I soon came to know many of their friends, though my residence at Oxford kept me clear from the vortex of literary society in London. In some respects I regretted it, but in others I found it a great blessing. It requires not only mental, but considerable physical strength to stand the wear and tear of London life, and I confess I never could understand how some of my friends, Browning, Tyndall, Huxley, M. Arnold, and others, could manage to do any serious work, and at the same time serve the Moloch of Society to whom so many men and women in London offer themselves and their children as willing sacrifices year after year. They had not only to dine out and lose their evenings, but wherever they went they had to shine, they had often to make speeches, long speeches, at public dinners, they came home tired and slept badly, and in the morning they were interrupted 121again by letters, by newspapers, by calls, then by meetings and committees, by the inevitable leaving of cards, and, lastly, there was with many of them their official work. Society is a voracious animal, and has deprived the world of much that can only be the outcome of quiet hours, of continuous thought, and of uninterrupted labour. These men must have had not only the brain, but the physical constitution also of giants, to survive this constant social worry.

A quiet dinner with a few friends is pleasant enough, and a certain amount of social friction may even be useful in keeping us from rusting; nay, a casual collision with a kindred spirit may sometimes call forth sparks which can be turned into light and heat. But to dress, to drive a few miles, then to be set down, possibly, between two strangers who have little to say and much to ask, and who, if ill-luck will have it, may not even be beautiful or charming, is a torture to which men like Browning and M. Arnold ought never to have submitted. An afternoon tea is a far more rational amusement, because people are not kept chained for two hours to one chair and two neighbours, but can move about and pick out some of their friends whom they really wish to talk to. Even a luncheon is more bearable, for it does not last so long, and one may find a chance of talking 122to one’s friends. But dinners are tortures, survivals of the dark ages for which there is no longer any excuse, and I believe that more people, and good people too, have fallen victims to dinners, public or private, than have broken their necks in the hunting field.

I had hoped at one time that the æsthetic phase through which English society was passing, would have put an end to, or would at least have modified, these social gobblings. Surely it is a most unbeautiful sight to see a number of people, young and old, with or without teeth, filling their mouths with mutton or beef, chewing, denticating, masticating their morsels, and then washing them down with wine or water. No doubt it can be done inoffensively, or even daintily, but is it? Eastern ladies know how to throw small morsels of food into their open mouths with their fingers, and Eastern poets describe this performance with rapture. Chinese poets become eloquent even over chop-sticks as handled by their fair ones. But for all that, the Hindus seem to me to show their good taste by retiring while they feed, and reappearing only after they have washed their hands and face. Why should we be so anxious to perform this no doubt necessary function before the eyes of our friends? How often have I seen a beautiful face distorted by the action of the jaw-bones, the temples 123forced out, and the cheeks distended by obstinate morsels. Could not at least the grosser part of feeding be performed in private, and the social gathering begin at the dessert, or, with men, at the wine, so as to have a real Symposion, not a Symphagion? But I am on dangerous ground, and shall broach no further heresies.

Life at Oxford has many advantages. Of course our London friends tell us that we are mere provincials, but that is a relative expression, and, anyhow, we enjoy life in peace. It is true we have not shaken off the regular society dinners altogether, but no one is offended if his friends tell him that they are too busy to dine out. And we still have our pleasant small dinners or luncheons of four, six, at the utmost eight people, when you can really see and enjoy your friends, and not only roast beef and port. In former years, when I first came to Oxford, it was different, but then the evil was chiefly confined to heads of colleges and halls, and there were even then exceptions, where you dined to meet a few friends, and not simply to lay in food.

One of my earliest dinners I remember at Oxford was to meet Thackeray. Thackeray was then writing “Esmond,” and a Mr. Stoddard—a fellow of St. John’s College—asked me to meet him at dinner. We were only four, and we were all very 124much awed by Thackeray’s presence, particularly I, not being able as yet to express myself freely in English. We sat silent for some time, no one ventured to make the first remark, the soup was over, and there was a fine John Doré on the table waiting to be splayed. We were hoping for some brilliant sally from Thackeray, but nothing came. At last Thackeray suddenly turned his large spectacled eyes on me and said: “Are you going to eat your own ancestor?” I stared, everybody else stared. At last we gave it up, and Thackeray, looking very grave and learned, said: “Surely you are the son of the Dorian Müller—the Müller who wrote that awfully learned book on the Dorians; and was not John Doré the ancestor of all the Dorians?” There was a general, “Oh, oh!” but the ice was broken, and no one after this horrible pun was afraid of saying anything. All I could tell Thackeray was that I was not the son of Otfried Müller, who wrote on the Dorians, but of Wilhelm Müller, the poet, who wrote “Die Homerische Vorschule,” and “Die Schöne Müllerin,” and as to John Doré being our ancestor, how could that be? The original John Doré, so I have been told, was il Janitore, that is, St. Peter, and had no wife, as some people will have it, or at least never acknowledged her in public, though he was kind to his mother-in-law. All this did not promise well, 125yet the rest of our little dinner party was very successful; it became noisy and even brilliant.

Thackeray from his treasures of wit and sarcasm poured out anecdote after anecdote; he used plenty of vinegar and cayenne pepper, but there was always a flavour of kindliness and good-nature, even in his most cutting remarks. I saw more of him when he came to Oxford to lecture on the Four Georges, and when he stood for Parliament and was defeated by Cardwell and Charles Neate. After one of his lectures, when I expressed my delight with his brilliant success, “Wait, wait,” he said, “the time will come when you will lecture at Oxford.” At that time my English was still very crumbly; there was no idea of my staying on in England, still less of my ever becoming a professor at Oxford.

Thackeray’s novels were a great delight to me then, and some have remained so for life. Still, there is a fashion in all things, in literature quite as much as in music, and when lately reading “The Newcomes” I was surprised at the meagreness of the dialogue, the very dialogues for which we felt so impatient from month to month when the book first came out in numbers. Still one always recognises in Thackeray the powerful artist, who, like a Japanese painter, will with a few lines place a living man or woman before you, never to be forgotten.

126I am sorry I missed seeing and knowing more of Charles Dickens. I met him in my very early days with a friend of mine at some tavern in the Strand, but did not see him again till quite at the end of his career, when he was giving readings from his novels, and knew how to make his audiences either weep or laugh. Still I am glad to have seen him in the flesh, both as a young and as an old man. However wide apart our interests in life might be, no one who had read his novels could look on Dickens as a stranger. He knew the heart of man to the very core, and could draw a picture of human suffering with a more loving hand than any other English writer. He also possessed now and then the grand style, and even in his pictures of still life the hand of the master can always be perceived. He must have shed many a tear over the deathbed of poor Joe; he must have chuckled and shouted over Mr. Winkle and Mr. Tupman going out partridge shooting. Perhaps to our taste, as it now is, some of his characters are too sentimental and simpering, but there are few writers now who could create his child-wife. It always seemed to me very strange that my friend Stanley, though he received Dickens among the great ones of Westminster Abbey, could not, as he confessed to me, take any pleasure in his works.

But though I could not spend much time in 127London and cultivate my literary acquaintances there, Oxford itself was not without interesting poets. After all, whatever talent England possesses is filtered generally either through Oxford or Cambridge, and those who have eyes to see may often watch some of the most important chapters in the growth of poetical genius among the young undergraduates. I watched Clough before the world knew him, I knew Matthew Arnold during many years of his early life, and having had the honour of examining Swinburne I was not surprised at his marvellous performances in later years. He was even then a true artist, a commander of legions of words, who might become an imperator at any time. Clough was a most fascinating character, thoroughly genuine, but so oppressed with the problems of life that it was difficult ever to get a smile out of him; and if one did, his round ruddy face with the deep heavy eyes seemed really to suffer from the contortions of laughter. He took life very seriously, and made greater sacrifices to his convictions than the world ever suspected. He was poor, but from conscientious scruples gave up his fellowship, and was driven at last to go to America to make himself independent without giving up the independence of his mind. With a little more sunshine above him and around him he might have grown to a very considerable height, but there was 128always a heavy weight on him, that seemed to render every utterance and every poem a struggle.

His poems are better known and loved in America, I believe, than in England, but in England also they still have their friends, and in the history of the religious or rather theological struggles of 1840–50 Clough’s figure will always be recognised as one of the most characteristic and the most pleasing. I had once the misfortune to give him great pain. I saw him at Oxford with a young lady, and I was told that he was engaged to her. Delighted as I was at this prospect of a happy issue out of all his troubles, I wrote to him to congratulate him, when a most miserable answer came, telling me that it all was hopeless, and that I ought not to have noticed what was going on.

However, it came right in the end, only there were some years of patient struggle to be gone through first; and who is not grateful in the end for such years passed on Pisgah, if only Jordan is crossed at last?

Another poet whom I knew at Oxford as an undergraduate, and whom I watched and admired to the end of his life, was Matthew Arnold. He was beautiful as a young man, strong and manly, yet full of dreams and schemes. His Olympian manners began even at Oxford; there was no harm in them, they were natural, not put on. The very 129sound of his voice and the wave of his arm were Jovelike. He grappled with the same problems as Clough, but they never got the better of him, or rather he never got the worse of them. Goethe helped him to soar where others toiled and sighed and were sinking under their self-imposed burdens. Even though his later life was enough to dishearten a poet, he laughed at his being Pegasus im Joche. Sometimes at public dinners, when he saw himself surrounded by his contemporaries, most of them judges, bishops, and ministers, he would groan over the drudgery he had to go through every day of his life in examining dirty schoolboys and schoolgirls. But he saw the fun of it, and laughed. What a pity it was that his friends, and he had many, could find no better place for him. Most of his contemporaries, many of them far inferior to him, rose to high positions in Church and State, he remained to the end an examiner of elementary schools. Of course it may be said that, like so many of his literary friends, he might have written novels and thus eked out a living by pot-boilers, as they are called, of various kinds. But there was something noble and refined in him which restrained his pen from such work. Whatever he gave to the world was to be perfect, as perfect as he could make it, and he did not think that he possessed a talent for novels. His saying “No Arnold can ever write a 130novel” is well known, but it has been splendidly falsified of late by his own niece. He had to go to America on a lecturing tour to earn some money he stood in need of, though he felt it as a dira necessitas, nay, as a dire indignity. It is true he had good precedents, but evidently his showman was not the best he could have chosen, nor was Arnold himself very strong as a lecturer. England has not got from him all that she had a right to expect, but whatever he has left has a finish that will long keep it safe from the corrosive wear and tear of time.

When later in life Arnold took to theological studies, he showed, no doubt, a very clear insight and a perfect independence of judgment, but he had only a few spare hours for work which in order to be properly done would have required a lifetime. Yet what he wrote produced an effect, in England at least, more lasting than many a learned volume, and he was allowed to say things that would have given deep offence if coming from other lips. His famous saying about the three Lord Shaftesburys has been judged very differently by different writers. As a mere matter of taste it may seem that Arnold’s illustration of what he took to be the common conception of the Trinity among his Philistine friends was objectionable. Let us hope that it was not even true.

131But Arnold’s intention was clear enough. He argued chiefly against those who had called the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Mass “a degrading superstition.” He tells them they ought to discover in it what the historian alone, or what Arnold means by a man of culture, can discover; namely, the original intention of the faithful in thus interpreting the words of Christ (St. John, vii., 53): “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” It was in protesting against this narrowness that he reminded his Protestant friends of the weak joints in their own armour, particularly their too literal acceptation of the doctrine of the Trinity.[8] And I doubt whether he was altogether wrong when he charged them with speaking of the Father as a mere individual, or, as he expressed it, a sort of infinitely magnified and improved Lord Shaftesbury with a race of vile offenders to deal with, whom his natural goodness would incline him to let off, only his sense of justice would not allow it. And is it not true that many who speak of Christ as the Son of God take “son” in its common literal sense, or, as Arnold expressed it, imagine “a younger Lord Shaftesbury, on the scale of his father and very dear to him, who might live in grandeur and 132splendour if he liked, but who preferred to leave his home to go and live among the race of offenders, and to be put to an ignominious death, on the condition that his merits should be counted against their demerits, and that his father’s goodness should be restrained no longer from taking effect, but any offender should be admitted to the benefit of it, simply on pleading the satisfaction made by the son”? Finally, when he points out the extremely vague conception of the Holy Ghost as a person and as an individual, does he really exaggerate so very much when he says that He is with many no more than “a third Lord Shaftesbury, still on the same high scale, who keeps very much in the background and works in a very occult manner, but very efficaciously nevertheless, and who is busy in applying everywhere the benefits of the son’s satisfaction and the father’s goodness?” Nay, even when he goes on to say that this is precisely the Protestant story of justification, what he wants to impress on his Protestant readers is surely no more than this, that from his point of view there is nothing actually degrading in their very narrow view, as little as in the common Roman Catholic view of the Mass. What he means is no more than that both views as held by the many are grotesquely literal and unintelligent.

133People who hold such views would be ready to tell you, he says, “the exact hangings in the Trinity’s council chamber.” But, with all that he is anxious to show that not only was the original intention both of Roman and English Catholics good, but that even in its mistaken application it may help towards righteousness. In trying to impress this view both on Protestants and Roman Catholics, Arnold certainly used language which must have pained particularly those who felt that the picture was not altogether untrue. However, his friends, and among them many high ecclesiastics, forgave him. Stanley, I know, admired his theological writings very much. Many of his critics fully agreed with what Arnold said, only they would have said it in a different way. There is a kind of cocaine style which is used by many able critics and reformers. It cuts deep into the flesh, and yet the patient remains insensible to pain. “You can say anything in English,” Arthur Helps once said to me, “only you must know how to say it.” Arnold, like Carlyle and others, preferred the old style of surgery. They thought that pain was good in certain operations, and helped to accelerate a healthy reaction.

The only fault that one may find with Arnold, is that he did not himself try to restore the original and true conception of the Trinity to that 134clear and intelligible form which he as an historian and a man of culture could have brought out better than any one else. The original intention of the Lord’s Supper, or the Mass, can easily be learnt, as Arnold has shown, from the very words of the Bible (St. Luke, xxii., 20): “The cup is the new testament in my blood.” But the doctrine of the Trinity requires a far more searching historical study. As the very name of Trinity is a later invention, and absent from the New Testament, it requires a thorough study of Greek, more particularly of Alexandrian philosophy, to understand its origin, for it is from Greek philosophy that the idea of the Word, the Logos, was taken by some of the early Fathers of the Church.

As the Messiah was a Semitic thought which the Jewish disciples of Christ saw realised in the Son of Man, the Word was an Aryan thought which the Greek disciples saw fulfilled in the Son of God. The history of the divine Dyas which preceded the Trias is clear enough, if only we are acquainted with the antecedents of Greek philosophy. Without that background it is a mere phantasm, and no wonder that in the minds of uneducated people it should have become what Arnold describes it,[9] father, son, and grandson, living together in the same house, or possibly in the clouds. To 135make people shrink back from such a conception is worth something, and Arnold has certainly achieved this, if only he has caused hundreds and thousands to say to themselves: “We never were so foolish or so narrow-minded as to believe in three Lord Shaftesburys.”

For some reason or other, however, the “three Lord Shaftesburys” have disappeared in the last edition of “Literature and Dogma” and have been replaced by “a Supernatural Man.” Froude, who was an intimate friend both of Arnold and of Sir James Stephen, told me that the latter had warned Arnold that the three Lord Shaftesburys were really actionable, and if Arnold hated anything it was a fracas. In the fifth edition they still remain, so that the change must have been made later on, when he prepared the cheap edition of his book. Anyhow, they are gone!

Arnold was a delightful man to argue with, not that he could easily be convinced that he was wrong, but he never lost his temper, and in the most patronising way he would generally end by: “Yes, yes! my good fellow, you are quite right, but, you see, my view of the matter is different, and I have little doubt it is the true one!” This went so far that even the simplest facts failed to produce any impression on him. He had fallen in love with Émile Burnouf’s attractive but not 136very scholar-like and trustworthy “Science de la Religion.” I believe that at first he had mistaken Émile for Eugène Burnouf, a mistake which has been committed by other people besides him. But, afterwards, when he had perceived the difference between the two, he was not at all abashed. Nay, he was betrayed into a new mistake, and spoke of Émile as the son of Eugène. I told him that Eugène, the great Oriental scholar—one of the greatest that France has ever produced, and that is saying a great deal—had no son at all, and that he ought to correct his misstatement. “Yes, yes,” he said, in his most good-humoured way, “but you know how they manage these things in France. Émile was really a natural son of the great scholar, and they call that a nephew.” This I stoutly denied, for never was a more irreproachable père de famille than my friend and master Eugène Burnouf. But in spite of all remonstrances, Émile remained with Arnold the son of Eugène; “For, you see, my good fellow, I know the French, and that is my view of the matter!” If that happened in the green wood, what would happen in the dry!

We had a long-standing feud about poetry. To me the difference between poetry and prose was one of form only. I always held that the same things that are said in prose could be said in 137poetry, and vice versâ, and I often quoted Goethe’s saying that the best test of poetry was whether it would bear translation into prose or into a foreign language. To all that, even to Goethe’s words, Arnold demurred. Poetry to him was a thing by itself, “not an art like other arts,” but, as he grandly called it, “genius.”

He once had a great triumph over me. An American gentleman, who brought out a “Collection of the Portraits of the Hundred Greatest Men,” divided them into eight classes, and the first class was assigned to poetry, the second to art, the third to religion, the fourth to philosophy, the fifth to history, the sixth to science, the seventh to politics, the eighth to industry. Arnold was asked to write the introduction to the first volume, H. Taine to the second, myself and Renan to the third, Noah Porter to the fourth, Dean Stanley to the fifth, Helmholtz to the sixth, Froude to the seventh, John Fiske to the eighth.

I do not know whether Arnold had anything to do with suggesting this division of Omne Scibile into eight classes; anyhow, he did not allow the opportunity to pass to assert the superiority of poetry over every other branch of man’s intellectual activity. “The men,” he began, “who are the flower and glory of our race are to pass here before us, the highest manifestations, whether on this 138line or that, of the force which stirs in every one of us—the chief poets, religious founders, philosophers, historians, scholars, orators, warriors, statesmen, voyagers, leaders in mechanical invention and industry, who have appeared among mankind. And the poets are to pass first. Why? Because, of the various modes of manifestation through which the human spirit pours its force, theirs is the most adequate and happy.”

This is the well-known ore rotundo and spiritu profundo style of Arnold. But might we not ask, Adequate to what? Happy in what? Arnold himself answers a little farther on: “No man can fully draw out the reasons why the human spirit feels itself able to attain to a more adequate and satisfying expression in poetry than in any other of its modes of activity.” Yet he continues to call this a primordial and incontestable fact; and how could we poor mortals venture to contest a primordial and incontestable fact? And then, limiting the question “to us for to-day,” he says, “Surely it is its solidity that accounts to us for the superiority of poetry.” How he would have railed if any of his Philistines had ventured to recognise the true superiority of poetry in its solidity!

Prose may be solid, it may be dense, massive, lumpish, concrete, and all the rest, but poetry is generally prized for its being subtle, light, ideal, 139air-drawn, fairy-like, or made of such stuff as dreams are made of. However, let that pass. Let poetry be solid, for who knows what sense Arnold may have assigned to solid? He next falls back on his great master Goethe, and quotes a passage which I have not been able to find, but the bearing of which must depend very much on the context in which it occurs. Goethe, we are told, said in one of his many moods: “I deny poetry to be an art. Neither is it a science. Poetry is to be called neither art nor science, but genius.” Who would venture to differ from Goethe when he defines what poetry is? But does he define it? He simply says that it is not art or science. In this one may agree, if only art and science are defined first. No one I think has ever maintained that poetry was science, but no one would deny that poetry was a product of art, if only in the sense of the Ars poetica of Horace, or the Dichtkunst of Goethe. But if we ask what can be meant by saying that poetry is genius, Goethe would probably say that what he meant was that poetry was the product of genius, the German Genie. Goethe, therefore, meant no more than that poetry requires, in the poet, originality and spontaneity of thought; and this, though it would require some limitation, no one surely would feel inclined to deny, though even the authority of Goethe would 140hardly suffice to deprive the decipherer of an inscription, the painter of the “Last Supper,” or the discoverer of the bacilli of a claim to that divine light which we call genius.

Arnold then goes on to say that poetry gives the idea, but it gives it touched with beauty, heightened by emotion. Would not Arnold have allowed that the language of Isaiah, and even some of the dialogues of Plato, were touched with beauty and heightened by emotion though they are in prose? I think he himself speaks somewhere of a poetic prose. Where, then, is the true difference between the creations of Isaiah and of Browning, between the eloquence of Plato and of Wordsworth?

Arnold has one more trump card to play in order to win for poetry that superiority over all the other manifestations of the forces of the human spirit which he claims again and again. I have always been a sincere admirer of Arnold’s poetry, still I think there is more massive force in some of his prose than in many of his poems; nay, I believe he has left a much deeper and more lasting impression on what he likes to call the Zeitgeist through his essays than through his tragedies. What then is his last card, his last proof of the superiority of poetry? Poetry, he argues, has more stability than anything else, and mankind 141finds in it a surer stay than in art, in philosophy, or religion. “Compare,” he says, “the stability of Shakespeare with that of the Thirty-nine Articles.”

Poor Thirty-nine Articles! Did they ever claim to contain poetry, or even religion? Were they ever meant to be more than a dry abstract of theological dogmas? Surely they never challenged comparison with Shakespeare. They are an index, a table of contents, they were a business-like agreement, if you like, between different parties in the Church of England. But to ask whether they will stand longer than Shakespeare is very much like asking whether the Treaty of Paris will last longer than Victor Hugo. There is stay in poetry provided that the prose which underlies it is lasting, or everlasting; there is no stay in it if it is mere froth and rhyme. Arnold always liked to fall back on Goethe. “What a series of philosophic systems has Germany seen since the birth of Goethe,” he says, “and what sort of stay is any one of them compared with the poetry of Germany’s one great poet?” Is Goethe’s poetry really so sure a stay as the philosophies of Germany; nay, would there be any stay in it at all without the support of that philosophy which Goethe drank in, whether from the vintage of Spinoza or from the more recent crues of Kant and Fichte? Goethe’s name, no 142doubt, is always a pillar of strength, but there is even now a very great part of Goethe’s “Collected Works” in thirty volumes that is no longer a stay, but is passé, and seldom read by any one, except by the historian. Poetry may act as a powerful preservative, and it is wonderful how much pleasure we may derive from thought mummified in verse. But in the end it is thought in its ever-changing life that forms the real stay, and it matters little whether that thought speaks to us in marble, or in music, in hexameters, in blank verse, or even in prose. Poetry in itself is no protection against folly and feebleness. There is in the world a small amount of good, and an immense amount of bad poetry. The former, we may hope, will last, and will serve as a stay to all who care for the music of thought and the harmony of language; the twaddle, sometimes much admired in its time (and there is plenty of it in Goethe also), will, we hope, fade away from the memory of man, and serve as a lesson to poets who imagine that they may safely say in rhythm and rhyme what they would be thoroughly ashamed to say in simple prose. Nor is the so-called stay or immortality of poetry of much consequence. To have benefited millions of his own age, ought surely to satisfy any poet, even if no one reads his poems, or translations of them, a thousand years hence.

143Denn wer den Besten seiner Zeit genug
Gethan, der hat gelebt für alle Zeiten.[10]

It is strange to go over the old ground when he with whom one travelled over it in former times is no more present to answer and to hold his own view against the world. There certainly was a great charm in Arnold, even though he could be very patronising. But there was in all he said a kind of understood though seldom expressed sadness, as if to say, “It will soon be all over, don’t let us get angry; we are all very good fellows,” etc. He knew for years that though he was strong and looked very young for his age, the thread of his life might snap at any moment. And so it did—felix opportunitate mortis. Not long before his death he met Browning on the steps of the Athenæum. He felt ill, and in taking leave of Browning he hinted that they might never meet again. Browning was profuse in his protestations, and Arnold, on turning away, said in his airy way: “Now, one promise, Browning: please, not more than ten lines.” Browning understood, and went away with a solemn smile.

Arnold was most brilliant as Professor of Poetry at Oxford, from 1857 to 1867. He took great pains in writing and delivering his lectures. He looked 144well and spoke well. Some of his lectures were masterpieces, and he set a good example which was followed by Sir Francis Doyle, 1867–77, well known by his happy occasional poems, then by John Shairp from 1877 to his death, and lastly by Francis Palgrave from 1885–95. The best of Arnold’s lectures were published as essays; Shairp’s lectures appeared after his death, and have retained their popularity, particularly in America. Palgrave’s lectures, we may hope, will soon appear. They were full of most valuable information, and would prove very useful to many as a book of reference. I have known no one better informed on English poetry than my friend Palgrave. His “Golden Treasury” bears evidence of his wide reading, and his ripe judgment in selecting the best specimens of English lyric poetry. One had but to touch on any subject in the history of English literature, or to ask him a question, and there was always an abundance of most valuable information to be got from him. I owe him a great deal, particularly in my early Oxford days. For it was he who revised my first attempts at writing in English, and gave me good advice for the rest of my journey, more particularly as to what to avoid. He is now one of the very few friends left who remember my first appearance in Oxford in 1846, and who were chiefly instrumental 145in retaining my services for a University which has proved a true Alma Mater to me during all my life. Grant (Sir Alexander), Sellar, Froude, Sandars, Morier, Neate, Johnson (Manuel), Church, Jowett, all are gone before me.

Here are some old verses of his which I find in my album:—

An English welcome to an English shore
Such as we could, some four years since we gave thee,
Not knowing what the Fates reserved in store
Or that our land among our sons would have thee;
But now thou art endenizen’d awhile
Almost we fear our welcome to renew:[11]
Lest what we seemed to promise, should beguile,
When all we are is open to thy view.
But yet if aught of what we fondly boast—
True-hearted warmth of Friendship, frank and free,
Survive yet in this island-circling coast,
We need not fear again to welcome thee:—
So may we, blessing thee, ourselves be blest,
And prove not all unworthy of our guest.

What happy days, what happy evenings we spent together lang syne! How patient they all were with their German guest when he first tried in his broken English to take part in their lively and sparkling conversations. Having once been 146received in that delightful circle, it was easy to make more acquaintances among their friends who lived at Oxford, or who from time to time came to visit them at Oxford. It was thus that I first came to know Ruskin, Tennyson, Browning, and others.

Ruskin often came to spend a few days with his old friends, and uncompromising and severe as he could be when he wielded his pen, he was always most charming in conversation. He never, when he was with his friends, claimed the right of speaking with authority, even on his own special subjects, as he might well have done. It seemed to be his pen that made him say bitter things. He must have been sorry himself for the severe censure he passed in his earlier years on men whose honest labour, if nothing else, ought to have protected them against such cruel onslaughts. Grote’s style may not be the very best for an historian, but in his Quellenstudium he was surely most conscientious. Yet this is what Ruskin wrote of him: “There is probably no commercial establishment between Charing Cross and the Bank, whose head clerk could not have written a better History of Greece, if he had the vanity to waste his time on it.” Of Gibbon’s classical work he spoke with even greater contempt. “Gibbon’s is the worst English ever written by an educated Englishman. 147Having no imagination and little logic, he is alike incapable either of picturesqueness or wit, his epithets are malicious without point, sonorous without weight, and have no office but to make a flat sentence turgid.” I feel sure that Ruskin, such as I knew him in later years, would have wished these sentences unwritten.

He was really the most tolerant and agreeable man in society. He could discover beauty where no one else could see it, and make allowance where others saw no excuse. I remember him as diffident as a young girl, full of questions, and grateful for any information. Even on art topics I have watched him listening almost deferentially to others who laid down the law in his presence. His voice was always most winning, and his language simply perfect. He was one of the few Englishmen I knew who, instead of tumbling out their sentences like so many portmanteau, bags, rugs, and hat-boxes from an open railway van, seemed to take a real delight in building up their sentences, even in familiar conversation, so as to make each deliverance a work of art. Later in life that even temperament may have become somewhat changed. He had suffered much, and one saw that his wounds had not quite healed. His public lectures as Professor of Fine Art were most attractive, and extremely popular at first. 148But they were evidently too much for him, and on the advice of his medical friends he had at last to cease from lecturing altogether. Several times his brain had been a very serious trouble to him. People forget that, as we want good eyes for seeing, and good ears for hearing, we want a strong, sound brain for lecturing.

I have seen much of such brain troubles among my friends, and who can account for them? It is not the brain that thinks, nor do we think by means of our brain; but we cannot think without our brain, and the slightest lesion of our brain in any one of its wonderful convolutions is as bad as a shot in the eye.

If ever there was an active, powerful brain, it was Ruskin’s. No doubt he worked very hard, but I doubt whether hard work by itself can ever upset a healthy brain. I believe it rather strengthens than weakens it, as exercise strengthens the muscles of our body. His was, no doubt, a very sensitive nature, and an overwrought sensitiveness is much more likely to cause mischief than steady intellectual effort. And what a beautiful mind his was, and what lessons of beauty he has taught us all. At the same time, he could not bear anything unbeautiful; and anything low or ignoble in men revolted him and made him thoroughly unhappy. I remember once taking Emerson to lunch with him, in 149his rooms in Corpus Christi College. Emerson was an old friend of his, and in many respects a cognate soul. But some quite indifferent subject turned up, a heated discussion ensued, and Ruskin was so upset that he had to quit the room and leave us alone. Emerson was most unhappy, and did all he could to make peace, but he had to leave without a reconciliation.

It is very difficult to make allowance for these gradual failures of brain power.

Again and again I have seen such cases at Oxford, where men were clearly no longer themselves, and yet had to be treated as if they were; nay, continue to exercise their old influence till at last the crash came, and one began to understand what had seemed so strange, and more than strange, in their behaviour. I believe there are as many degrees of insanity as there are of shortsightedness and deafness, and the line that divides sanity from insanity is often very small. I have had to watch the waverings of this line in several cases, and it is enough to upset one’s own equilibrium to have to deal with a friend who to-day is quite like himself and quite like ourselves, and the next day a raving lunatic. My predecessor at Oxford, Dr. Trithen, half Russian, half Swiss by birth, and a man of extraordinary gifts and wonderfully attractive, went slowly out of his mind and had at last to be sent 150to an asylum. But even then he wrote the most reasonable and touching letters to me on all sorts of subjects, though when I went to see him he was quite unapproachable. Fortunately he died soon after from brain disease, but who could say what was the cause of it? Nothing remains of him but the edition of a Sanskrit play, the Vîracharitra.

But his knowledge of Sanskrit and all sorts of languages, his peculiar power of mimicry in imitating the exact pronunciation of different dialects, and his knack of copying Oriental MSS. so that one could hardly tell the difference between the original and the copy were quite amazing. He might have grown to be another Mezzofanti if the fates had not been against him. He was the very type of a fascinating Russian, full of kindness and courtesy, sparkling in conversation, always ready to help others and most careless about himself; but there always was an expression in his coruscating eyes which spoke of danger, and foreboded the tragedy which finished his young and promising life.

Painful as these intellectual breakdowns are, they are not half so painful as when we see in our friends what is at first called mere wrongheadedness, but is apt to lead to a complete deterioration of moral fibre, and in the end to an apparent inability to distinguish between right and wrong, between 151truth and falsehood. In the former case we know that a slight lesion in one of the ganglion cells or nerve-fibres of the brain is sufficient to account for any disturbance in the intellectual clock-work. The man himself remains the same, though at times hidden from us, as it were, by a veil, and we feel towards him the same sorrowful sympathy which we feel towards a man who has lost the use of his eyes or his legs, who cannot see or cannot walk. We know that the instruments are at fault, not the operator. But it is very difficult to make the same allowance in cases of moral deterioration. Here instruments and operator seem to be the same, though, for all we know, here too the brain may be more at fault than the heart. A well-known oculist maintained that the peculiarities, or what he called the distortions, in Turner’s latest pictures were due to a malformation in the muscles of his eyes. He actually invented some spectacles by which everything that seemed ill-proportioned in Turner’s latest productions came right if looked at through these corrective lenses. May not what we call shortsightedness, conceit, vanity, envy, hatred and malice—all, as it seems, without rhyme or reason—be due in the beginning to some weakness or dimness of sight that might have been corrected, if treated in time, by those who are nearest and dearest to the sufferer? This may 152seem a dangerous view of moral responsibility; but, if so, it can be dangerous to the sufferer only, not to those who ought to sympathise, i.e. to feel and suffer, with him. To me it has proved a solution of many difficulties during a long and varied intercourse with men and women; the only difficulty is how to make these invalids harmless to themselves.

Ruskin’s influence among the undergraduates at Oxford was most extraordinary. He could persuade the young Christ Church men to take spade and wheelbarrow and help him to make a road which he thought would prove useful to a village near Oxford. No other professor could have achieved that. The road was made, but was also soon washed away, and, of course, Ruskin was laughed at, though the labour undergone by his pupils did them no doubt a great deal of good, even though it did not benefit the inhabitants of the village for any length of time. It was sad to see Ruskin leave Oxford estranged from many of his friends, dissatisfied with his work, which nevertheless was most valuable and highly appreciated by young and old, perhaps by the young even more than by the old. His spirit still dwells in the body, and if any one may look back with pride and satisfaction upon the work which he has achieved it is surely Ruskin.

153Another though less frequent visitor to Oxford was Tennyson. His first visit to our house was rather alarming. We lived in a small house in High Street, nearly opposite Magdalen College, and our establishment was not calculated to receive sudden guests, particularly a Poet Laureate. He stepped in one day during the long vacation, when Oxford was almost empty. Wishing to show the great man all civility, we asked him to dinner that night and breakfast the next morning. At that time almost all the shops were in the market, which closed at one o’clock. My wife, a young housekeeper, did her best for our honoured guest. He was known to be a gourmand, and at dinner he was evidently put out when he found the sauce with the salmon was not the one he preferred. He was pleased, however, with the wing of a chicken, and said it was the only advantage he got from being Poet Laureate, that he generally received the liver-wing of a chicken. The next morning at breakfast we had rather plumed ourselves on having been able to get a dish of cutlets, and were not a little surprised when our guest arrived to see him whip off the cover of the hot dish, and to hear the exclamation: “Mutton chops! the staple of every bad inn in England.” However, these were but minor matters, though not without importance at the time in the eyes of a young wife to whom Tennyson 154had been like one of the Immortals. He was simply delightful and full of inquiries about the East, more particularly about Indian poetry, and I believe that it was then that I told him that there was no rhyme in Sanskrit poetry, and ventured to ask him why there should be in English. He was not so offended as Samuel Johnson seems to have been when asked the same question. The old bear would probably have answered my question by, “You are a great fool, sir; use your own judgment,” while Tennyson gave the very sensible answer that rhyme assisted the memory.

It is difficult to define the difference between an Oxford man and a Cambridge man; but if Ruskin was decidedly a representative of Oxford, Tennyson was a true son of the sister University. I had been taught to admire Tennyson by my young friends at Oxford, many of whom were enthusiastic worshippers of the poet. My friends often forgot that I had been brought up on German poetry, and that though I knew Heine, Rückert, Eichendorff, Chamisso, and Geibel, to say nothing of Goethe, Schiller, Bürger, and even Klopstock, their allusions to Tennyson, Browning, nay, to Shelley and Keats, often fell by the wayside and were entirely lost on me.

However, I soon learnt to enjoy Tennyson’s poetry, its finish, its delicacy, its moderation—I 155mean, the absence of all extravagance; yet there is but one of his books which has remained with me a treasure for life, his “In Memoriam.” To have expressed such deep, true, and original thought as is contained in each of these short poems in such perfect language, to say nothing of rhyme, was indeed a triumph. Tennyson was very kind to me, and took a warm interest in my work, particularly in my mythological studies. I well remember his being struck by a metaphor in my first Essay on Comparative Mythology, published in 1856, and his telling me so. I had said that the sun in his daily passage across the sky had ploughed a golden furrow through the human brain, whence sprang in ancient times the first germs of mythology, and afterwards the rich harvest of religious thought.

“I don’t know,” he said, “whether the simile is quite correct, but I like it.” I was of course very proud that the great poet should have pondered on any sentence of mine, and still more that he should have approved of my theory of seeing in mythology a poetical interpretation of the great phenomena of nature. But it was difficult to have a long discussion with him. He was fond of uttering short and decisive sentences: his yes was yes indeed, and his no was no indeed.

It was generally after dinner, when smoking his 156pipe and sipping his whiskey and water, that Tennyson began to thaw, and to take a more active part in conversation. People who have not known him then, have hardly known him at all. During the day he was often very silent and absorbed in his own thoughts, but in the evening he took an active part in the conversation of his friends. His pipe was almost indispensable to him, and I remember one time when I and several friends were staying at his house, the question of tobacco turned up. I confessed that for years I had been a perfect slave to tobacco, so that I could neither read nor write a line without smoking, but that at last I had rebelled against this slavery, and had entirely given up tobacco. Some of his friends taunted Tennyson that he could never give up tobacco. “Anybody can do that,” he said, “if he chooses to do it.” When his friends still continued to doubt and to tease him, “Well,” he said, “I shall give up smoking from to-night.” The very same evening I was told that he threw his pipes and his tobacco out of the window of his bedroom. The next day he was most charming, though somewhat self-righteous. The second day he became very moody and captious, the third day no one knew what to do with him. But after a disturbed night I was told that he got out of bed in the morning, went quietly into the garden, 157picked up one of his broken pipes, stuffed it with the remains of the tobacco scattered about, and then, having had a few puffs, came to breakfast, all right again. Nothing was said any more about giving up tobacco.

He once very kindly offered to lend me his house in the Isle of Wight. “But mind,” he said, “you will be watched from morning till evening.” This was in fact his great grievance, that he could not go out without being stared at. Once taking a walk with me and my wife on the downs behind his house, he suddenly started, left us, and ran home, simply because he had descried two strangers coming towards us.

I was told that he once complained to the Queen, and said that he could no longer stay in the Isle of Wight, on account of the tourists who came to stare at him. The Queen, with a kindly irony, remarked that she did not suffer much from that grievance, but Tennyson, not seeing what she meant, replied: “No, madam, and if I could clap a sentinel wherever I liked, I should not be troubled either.”

It must be confessed that people were very inconsiderate. Rows of tourists sat like sparrows on the paling of his garden, waiting for his appearance. The guides were actually paid by sightseers, particularly by those from America, for showing them the great poet. Nay, they went so 158far as to dress up a sailor to look like Tennyson, and the result was that, after their trick had been found out, the tourists would walk up to Tennyson and ask him: “Now, are you the real Tennyson?” This, no doubt, was very annoying, and later on Lord Tennyson was driven to pay a large sum for some useless downs near his house, simply in order to escape from the attentions of admiring travellers.

Why should not people be satisfied with the best that a poet is and can give them, namely his poetry? Why should they wish to stare at him? Few poets are greater than their poetry, and Tennyson was not one of them. Like all really great men, Tennyson disliked the worship that was paid him by many who came to stare at him and to pour out the usual phrases of admiration before him. Tennyson frequently took flight from his intending Boswells, and he was the very last man to appreciate the “Il parle” by which in Paris all conversation was hushed whenever Victor Hugo was present at a dinner and spoke to his neighbour, possibly only to ask him for the menu.

People have learnt after his death what a possession they had in Tennyson. He may not rank among the greatest poets of England, but there was something high and noble in him which reacted on the nation at large, even though that 159influence was not perhaps consciously realised. Anyhow, after his death, it was widely felt that there was nobody worthy to fill his place; and why was it not left empty, as in the Greek army, where, we are told, a place of honour was reserved for a great hero who was supposed to be present during the heat of the battle, and to inspire those who stood near his place to great deeds of valour?

Browning was neither of Cambridge nor of Oxford, but his genius was much more akin to Oxford than to Cambridge, and towards the end of his life, particularly after his son had entered at Balliol College, he was very often seen amongst us. Though he was not what we call a scholar, his mind was saturated with classical lore, and his appreciation of Greek poetry, Greek mythology, and Greek sculpture was very keen. He could not quote Greek verses, but he was steeped in the Greek tragedians and lyric poets. Of course this classical sympathy was but one side of his poetry. Browning was full of sympathy, nay, of worship, for anything noble and true in literature, ancient or modern. And what was most delightful in him was his ready response, his generosity in pouring out his own thoughts before anybody who shared his sympathies. For real and substantial conversation there was no one his equal, and even in the lighter after-dinner talk he was admirable. His 160health seemed good, and he was able to sacrifice much of his time to society. He had one great advantage, he never consented to spoil his dinner by making, or, what is still worse, by having to make, a speech. I once felt greatly aggrieved, sitting opposite Browning at one of the Royal Academy dinners. I had to return thanks for literature and scholarship, and was of course rehearsing my speech during the whole of dinner-time, while he enjoyed himself talking to his friends. When I told him that it was a shame that I should be made a martyr of while he was enjoying his dinner in peace, he laughed, and said that he had said No once for all, and that he had never in his life made a public speech. I believe, as a rule, poets are not good speakers. They are too careful about what they wish to say. As dinner advanced I became more and more convinced of the etymological identity of honor and onus. At last my turn came. Having to face the brilliant society which is always present at this dinner, including the Prince of Wales, the Ministers of both parties, the most eminent artists, scientists, authors and critics, I had of course learnt my speech by heart, and was getting on very well, when suddenly I saw the Prince of Wales laughing and saying something to his neighbour. At once the thread of my speech was broken. I began to think whether I could 161have said anything that made the Prince laugh, and what it could have been, and while I was thinking in every direction, I suddenly stood speechless. I thought it was an eternity, and I was afraid I should have to collapse and make the greatest fool of myself that ever was. I looked at Browning and he gave me a friendly nod, and at that moment my grapple-irons caught the lost cable and I was able to finish my speech. When it was over I turned to Browning and said: “Was it not fearful, that pause?” “Far from it,” he said, “it was excellent. It gave life to your speech. Everybody saw you were collecting your thoughts, and that you were not simply delivering what you had learnt by heart. Besides, it did not last half a minute.” To me it had seemed at least five or ten minutes. But after Browning’s good-natured words I felt relieved, and enjoyed at least what was left of a most enjoyable dinner, the only enjoyable public dinner I know.

The best place to see Browning was Venice, and I think it was there that I saw him for the last time. He was staying in one of the smaller palaces with a friend, and he was easily persuaded to read some of his poems. I asked him for his poem on Andrea del Sarto, and his delivery was most simple and yet most telling. He was a far better reader than Tennyson. His voice was natural, 162sonorous, and full of delicate shades; while Tennyson read in so deep a tone, that it was like the rumbling and rolling sound of the sea rather than like a human voice. His admirers, both gentlemen and ladies, who thought that everything he did must be perfect, encouraged him in that kind of delivery; and while to me it seemed that he had smothered and murdered some of the poems I liked best, they sighed and groaned and poured out strange interjections, meant to be indicative of rapture.

There is a definiteness in Tennyson’s poetry which makes it easy to recite and even to declaim his poems, while many of Browning’s compositions do not lend themselves at all to vivâ voce repetition. There is always a superabundance of thought and feeling in them, and his mastery of rhyme and rhythm proved a temptation which he could not always resist. One often wished that some of Browning’s poems could have passed through the Tennysonian sieve, to take away all that is unnecessary in them, and to moderate his exuberant revelling in language. Still his friends know what they possess in his poetry. When they are sad, he makes them joyful; when they exult, he tones them down; when they are hungry, he feeds them; when they are poor, he makes them rich; and, like a true prophet, he knows how 163to bring fresh water out of the rocks, out of the commonest events in our journey through the desert of life. It is a pity that his poetry does not lend itself to translation. Perhaps he is too thoroughly English, perhaps his sentences are too labyrinthine even for German readers. Anyhow, Browning is known abroad much less than Tennyson, and if translatableness is a test of true poetry, his poetry would not stand that test well.

To have known such men as Tennyson and Browning is indeed a rare fortune. It helps us in two ways. We are preserved from extravagant admiration, which is always stupid; and, on the other hand, we can enjoy even insignificant verses of theirs, as coming from our friends and lighting up some corner of their character. There are cases where personal acquaintance with the poets actually spoils our taste for their poetry, which we might otherwise have enjoyed; and to imagine that one knows a poet better because one has once shaken hands with him, is a fatal mistake. It would be far better to go at once to Westminster Abbey, and spend a few thoughtful moments at the tombs of such poets as Tennyson or Browning, for there, at all events, there would be no disappointment.



Authors complain, and in many cases complain justly, of the large number of letters and visits which they receive from unknown friends and distant admirers. I myself, though the subjects on which I write are not exactly popular, have been sitting at the receipt of such custom for many years. It is difficult to know what to do. To answer all the letters, even to acknowledge all the books that are sent to me from India, Australia, New Zealand, from every new sphere of influence in Africa, from America, North and South, and from the principal countries of Europe, would be physically impossible. A simple knowledge of arithmetic would teach my friends that if I were only to glance at a book in order to give an opinion, or say something pleasant about it, one hour at least of my time in the morning would certainly be consumed by every single book. Every writer imagines that he is the only one who writes a letter, asks a question, or sends a book; but he forgets 165that in this respect everybody has as much right as everybody else, and claims it too, unmindful of the rights of others, and quite unconscious that the sum total of such interruptions would swallow up the whole of a man’s working day. And there is this further danger: however guarded one may be in expressing one’s gratitude or one’s opinion of the merits of a book, one’s letter is apt to appear in advertisements, if only far away in India or the Colonies; nay, we often find that the copy of a book was not even sent us by the author himself, but with the author’s compliments, that is, by an enterprising publisher.

However, there is a compensation in all things, and I gladly confess that I have occasionally derived great advantage from the letters of my unknown friends. They have sent me valuable corrections and useful remarks for my books, they have made me presents of MSS. and local publications difficult to get even at the Bodleian and the British Museum, and I feel sure that they have not been offended even though I could not enter into a long correspondence with every one of my epistolary friends on the origin of language or the home of the Aryan race. My worst friends are those who send me their own writings and wish me to give an opinion, or to find a publisher for them. Had I attempted to comply with one half 166of these requests, I could have done nothing else in life. What would become of me if everybody who cannot find a publisher were to write to me! The introduction of postcards has proved, no doubt, a great blessing to all who are supposed to be oracles, but even an oracular response takes time. Speaking for myself, I may truly say that I often feel tempted to write to a man who is an authority on a special subject on which I want information. I know he could answer my question in five minutes, and yet I hardly ever venture to make the appeal, but go to a library, where I have to waste hours and hours in finding the right book, and afterwards the right passage in it. Why should not others do the same?

And what applies to letters applies to personal visits also. I do sometimes get impatient when perfect strangers call on me without any kind of introduction, sometimes even without a visiting card, and then sit down to propound some theory of their own. Still, taking all in all, I must not complain of my visitors. They do not come in shoals like letters and books, and very often they are interesting and even delightful. Many of them come from America, and the mere fact that they want to see me is a compliment which I appreciate. They have read my books, that is another compliment which I always value; and they 167often speak to me of things that years ago I have said in some article of mine, and which I myself have often quite forgotten.

It strikes me that Americans possess in a very high degree the gift of sight-seeing. They possess what at school was called pace. They travel over England in a fortnight, but at the end they seem to have seen all that is, and all who are, worth seeing. We wonder how they can enjoy anything. But they do enjoy what they see, and they carry away a great many photographs, not only in their albums but in their memory also. The fact is that they generally come well prepared, and know beforehand what they want to see; and, after all, there are limits to everything. If we have only a quarter of an hour to look at the Madonna di San Sisto, may not that short exposure give us an excellent negative in our memory, if only our brain is sensitive, and the lens of our eyes clear and strong? The Americans, knowing that their time is limited, make certainly an excellent use of it, and seem to carry away more than many travellers who stand for hours with open mouths before a Raphael, and in the end know no more of the picture than of the frame. It requires sharp eyes and a strong will to see much in a short time. Some portrait painters, for instance, catch a likeness in a few minutes; others sit and sit, and stare and stare, and alter 168and alter, and never perceive the real characteristic points in a face.

It is the same with the American interviewer. I do not like him, and I think he ought at all events to tell us that we are being interviewed. Even ancient statues are protected now against snap-shots in the museums of antiquities. But with all that I cannot help admiring him. His skill, in the cases where I have been under his scalpel or before his brush, has certainly been extraordinary, and several of them seem to have seen in my house, in my garden, in my library, and in my face, what I myself had never detected there, and all that in about half an hour. I remember one visit, however, which was rather humiliating. An American gentleman (I did not know that he was interviewing me) had been sitting with me for a long time, asking all sorts of questions and making evidently a trigonometrical survey of myself and my surroundings. At last I had to tell him that I was sorry I had to go, as I had to deliver a lecture. As he seemed so interested in my work I naturally expected he would ask me to allow him to hear my lecture. Nothing of the kind! “I am sorry,” he said, “but you don’t mind my sitting here in your library till you come back?” And, true enough, there I found him when I came home after an hour, and he was delighted to see me 169again. Some months after I had my reward in a most charming account of an interview with Professor Max Müller, published in an American journal. This power of observation which these interviewers, and to a certain extent most American travellers, seem to possess, is highly valuable, and as most of us cannot hope to have more than a few hours to see such monuments as St. Peter or Santa Sophia, or such giants as Tennyson or Browning, we ought to take a leaf out of the book of our American friends, and try to acquire some of their pace and go.

And then, America does not send us interviewers only, but nearly all their most eminent men and their most charming women pay us the compliment of coming over to the old country. They generally cannot give us more than a few days, or it may be a few hours only; and in that short space we also have to learn how to measure them, how to appreciate and love them. It has to be done quickly, or not at all. Living at Oxford, I have had the good fortune of receiving visits from Emerson, Dr. Wendell Holmes, and Lowell, to speak of the brightest stars only. Each of them stayed at our house for several days, so that I could take them in at leisure, while others had to be taken at one gulp, often between one train and the next. Oxford has a great attraction for all 170Americans, and it is a pleasure to see how completely at home they feel in the memories of the place. The days when Emerson, Wendell Holmes, and Lowell were staying with us, the breakfasts and luncheons, the teas and dinners, and the delightful walks through college halls, chapels and gardens are possessions for ever.

Emerson, I am grieved to say, when during his last visit to England he spent some days with us, accompanied and watched over by his devoted daughter, was already on the brink of that misfortune which overtook him in his old age. His memory often failed him, but as through a mist the bright and warm sun of his mind was always shining, and many of his questions and answers have remained engraved in my memory, weak and shaky as that too begins to be. I had forgotten that Emerson had ceased to be an active preacher, and I told him that I rather envied him the opportunity of speaking now and then to his friends and neighbours on subjects on which we can seldom speak except in church. He then told me not only what he had told others, that “he had had enough of it,” but he referred to an episode in his life, or rather in that of his brother, which struck me as very significant at the time. “There was an ecclesiastical leaven in our family,” he said. “My brother and I were both meant for the ministry 171in the Unitarian community. My brother was sent by my father to Germany (I believe to Göttingen), and after a thorough study of theology was returning to America. On the voyage home the ship was caught in a violent gale, and all hope of saving the ship and the lives of the passengers was given up. At that time my brother said his prayers, and made a vow that if his life should be spared he would never preach again, but give up theology altogether and earn an honest living in some other way. The ship weathered the storm, my brother’s life was saved, and, in spite of all entreaties, he kept his vow. Something of the same kind may have influenced me,” he added: “anyhow, I felt that there was better work for me to do than to preach from the pulpit.” And so, no doubt, there was for this wonderfully gifted man, particularly at the time and in the place where he lived. A few years’ study at Göttingen might have been useful to the younger Emerson by showing him the track followed by other explorers of the unknown seas of religion and philosophy, but he felt in himself the force to grapple with the great problems of the world without going first to school to learn how others before him had grappled with them. And this was perhaps the best for him and for us. His freshness and his courage remained undamped by the failures of others, 172and the directness of his judgment and poetical intuition had freer scope in his rhapsodies than it would have had in learned treatises. I do not wonder that philosophers by profession had at first nothing to say to his essays because they did not seem to advance their favourite inquiries beyond the point they had reached before. But there were many people, particularly in America, to whom these rhapsodies did more good than any learned disquisitions or carefully arranged sermons. There is in them what attracts us so much in the ancients, freshness, directness, self-confidence, unswerving loyalty to truth, as far as they could see it. He had no one to fear, no one to please. Socrates or Plato, if suddenly brought to life again in America, might have spoken like Emerson, and the effect produced by Emerson was certainly like that produced by Socrates in olden times.

What Emerson’s personal charm must have been in earlier life we can only conjecture from the rapturous praises bestowed on him by his friends, even during his lifetime. A friend of his who had watched Emerson and his work and his ever-increasing influence, declares without hesitation that “the American nation is more indebted to his teaching than to any other person who has spoken or written on his themes during the last twenty years.” He calls his genius “the measure and 173present expansion of the American mind.” And his influence was not confined to the American mind. I have watched it growing in England. I still remember the time when even experienced literary judges spoke of his essays as mere declamations, as poetical rhapsodies, as poor imitations of Carlyle. Then gradually one man after another found something in Emerson which was not to be found in Carlyle, particularly his loving heart, his tolerant spirit, his comprehensive sympathy with all that was or was meant to be good and true, even though to his own mind it was neither the one nor the other.

After a time some more searching critics were amazed at sentences which spoke volumes, and showed that Emerson, though he had never written a systematic treatise on philosophy, stood on a firm foundation of the accumulated philosophic thought of centuries. Let us take such a sentence as “Generalisation is always a new influx of divinity into the mind—hence the thrill that attends.” To the ordinary reader such a sentence can convey very little; it might seem, in fact, a mere exaggeration. But to those who know the long history of thought connected with the question of the origin of conceptual thought as the result of ceaseless generalisation, Emerson’s words convey the outcome of profound thought. They show that he 174had recognised in general ideas, which are to us merely the result of a never-ceasing synthesis, the original thoughts or logoi underlying the immense variety of created things; that he had traced them back to their only possible source, the Divine Mind, and that he saw how the human mind, by rising from particulars to the general, was in reality approaching the source of those divine thoughts, and thus becoming conscious, as it were, of the influx of divinity. Other philosophers have expressed similar thoughts by saying that induction is the light that leads us up, deduction the light that leads us down. Mill thought that generalisation is a mere process of mother-wit, of the shrewd and untaught intelligence; and that, from one narrow point of view, it is so, has been fully proved since by an analysis of language. Every word is a generalisation, and contains in itself a general idea, the so-called root. These first generalisations are, no doubt, at first the work of mother-wit and untaught intelligence only, and hence the necessity of constantly correcting them, whether by experience or by philosophy. But these words are nevertheless the foundation of all later thought, and if they have not reached as yet the fulness of the Divine Logoi, they represent at least the advancing steps by which alone the human mind could reach, and will reach at last, the ideas of the Divine Mind.

175Thus one pregnant sentence of Emerson’s shows, when we examine it more closely, that he had seen deeper into the mysteries of nature, and of the human mind, than thousands of philosophers, call them evolutionists (realists) or nominalists. Evolutionists imagine that they have explained everything that requires explanation in nature if they have shown a more or less continuous development from the moneres to man, from the thrills of the moneres to the thoughts of man. Nominalists again think that by ascending from the single to the general, and by comprehending the single under a general name, they have solved all the questions involved in nature, that is, in our comprehension of nature. They never seem to remember that there was a time when all that we call either single or general, but particularly all that is general, had for the first time to be conceived or created. Before there was a single tree, some one must have thought the tree or treehood. Before there was a single ape, or a single man, some one must have thought that apehood or that manhood which we see realised in every ape and in every man, unless we can bring ourselves to believe in a thoughtless world. If that first thought was the concept of a mere moneres, still in that thought there must have been the distant perspective of ape or man, and it is that first thought alone 176which to the present day keeps the ape an ape, and a man a man. Divine is hardly a name good enough for that first Thinker of Thoughts. Still, it is that Divinity which Emerson meant when he said that generalisation is always a new influx of divinity into the mind because it reveals to the mind the first thoughts, the Divine Logoi, of the universe. The thrill of which he speaks is the thrill arising from the nearness of the Divine, the sense of the presence of those Divine Logoi, or that Divine Logos, which in the beginning was with God, and without which not anything was made that was made. Evolution can never be more than the second act; the first act is the Volition or the Thought of the universe, unless we hold that there can be effect without a cause, or a Kosmos without a Logos.

Such utterances, lost almost in the exuberance of Emerson’s thoughts, mark the distinction between a thoughtful and a shallow writer, between a scarred veteran and a smooth recruit. They will give permanence to Emerson’s influence both at home and abroad, and place him in the ranks of those who have not lived or thought in vain. When he left my house, I knew, of course, that we should never meet again in this life, but I felt that I had gained something that could never be taken from me.

177Another eminent American who often honoured my quiet home at Oxford was James Russell Lowell, for a time United States Minister in England. He was a Professor and at the same time a politician and a man of the world. Few essays are so brimful of interesting facts and original reflections as his essays entitled “Among my Books.” His “Biglow Papers,” which made him one of the leading men in the United States, appeal naturally to American rather than to Cosmopolitan readers. But in society he was at home in England as much as in America, in Spain as well as in Holland.

I came to know him first as a sparkling correspondent, and then as a delightful friend.

Here is the letter which began our intimacy:—

Legacion de nos Estados Unidos
de America en Espana.
18th Jan. 1880.

I read with great satisfaction what you wrote about jade.[12] One is tempted to cry out, with Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, “How now, ye pampered jades of Asia!” One thing in the discussion has struck me a good deal, and that is, the 178crude notion which intelligent men have of the migration of tribes. I think most men’s conception of distance is very much a creature of maps—which make Crim Tartary and England not more than a foot apart, so that the feat of the old rhyme—“to dance out of Ireland into France,” looks easy. They seem to think that the shifting of habitation was accomplished like a modern journey by rail, and that the emigrants wouldn’t need tools by the way or would buy them at the nearest shop after their arrival. There is nothing the ignorant and the poor cling to so tenaciously as their familiar household utensils. Incredible things are brought every day to America in the luggage of emigrants—things often most cumbrous to carry and utterly useless in the new home. Families that went from our seaboard to the West a century ago, through an almost impenetrable wilderness, carried with them all their domestic pots and pans—even those, I should be willing to wager, that needed the tinker. I remember very well the starting of an expedition from my native town of Cambridge in 1831, for Oregon, under the lead of a captain of great energy and resource. They started in waggons ingeniously contrived so as to be taken to pieces, the body forming a boat for crossing rivers. They carried everything they could think of with them, and got safely to the other side of the continent, as hard a job, I fancy, as our Aryan ancestors had to do. There is hardly a family of English descent in New England that doesn’t cherish, as an heirloom, something brought over by the first ancestors two hundred and fifty years ago. And besides the motive of utility there is that also of sentiment—particularly strong in the case of an old tool.

Faithfully yours, J. R. Lowell.

179Lowell’s conversation was inexhaustible, his information astonishing. Pleasant as he was, even as an antagonist, he would occasionally lose his temper and use very emphatic language. I was once sitting next to him when I heard him stagger his neighbour, a young lady, by bursting out with: “But, madam, I do not accept your major premiss!”

Poor thing, she evidently was not accustomed to such language, and not acquainted with that terrible term. She collapsed, evidently quite at a loss as to what gift on her part Mr. Lowell declined to accept.

Sometimes even the most harmless remark about America would call forth very sharp replies from him. Everybody knows that the salaries paid by America to her diplomatic staff are insufficient, and no one knew it better than he himself. But when the remark was made in his presence that the United States treated their diplomatic representatives stingily, he fired up, and discoursed most eloquently on the advantages of high thoughts and humble living. His cleverness and readiness in writing occasional verses have become proverbial, and I am glad to be able to add two more to the many jeux d’esprit of this brilliant and amiable guest.

180Had I all tongues Max Müller knows,
I could not with them altogether
Tell half the debt a stranger owes
Who Oxford sees in pleasant weather.
The halls, the gardens, and the quads,
There’s nought can match them on this planet,
Smiled on by all the partial gods
Since Alfred (if ’twas he) began it;
But more than all the welcomes warm,
Thrown thick as lavish hands could toss ’em,
Why, they’d have wooed in winter-storm
One’s very umbrella-stick to blossom!
Bring me a cup of All Souls’ ale,
Better than e’er was bought with siller,
To drink (Oh, may the vow prevail)
The health of Max[13] and Mrs. Müller!

Abundant as was his wit in the true sense of that word, his kindness was equally so. After he had written the above verses for my wife, my young daughter Beatrice (now Mrs. Colyer Fergusson) asked him, as young ladies are wont to do, for a few lines for herself. He at once resumed his pen and wrote:—

O’er the wet sands an insect crept
Ages ere man on earth was known—
181And patient Time, while Nature slept,
The slender tracing turned to stone.
’Twas the first autograph: and ours?
Prithee, how much of prose or song,
In league with the Creative powers,
Shall ’scape Oblivion’s broom so long?
In great haste,
Faithfully yours,
J. R. Lowell.

24th June, 1886.

I lost the pleasure of shaking hands with Longfellow during his stay in England. Though I have been more of a fixture at Oxford than most professors, I was away during the vacation when he paid his visit to our University, and thus lost seeing a poet to whom I felt strongly attracted, not only by the general spirit of his poetry, which was steeped in German thought, but as the translator of several of my father’s poems.

I was more fortunate with Dr. Wendell Holmes. His arrival in England had been proclaimed beforehand, and one naturally remained at home in order to be allowed to receive him. His hundred days in England were one uninterrupted triumphal progress. When he arrived at Liverpool he found about three hundred invitations waiting for him. Though he was accompanied by a most active 182and efficient daughter, he had at once to engage a secretary to answer this deluge of letters. And though he was past eighty, he never spared himself, and was always ready to see and to be seen. He was not only an old, but a ripe and mellow man.

There was no subject on which one could touch which was not familiar to the Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. His thoughts and his words were ready, and one felt that it was not for the first time that the subject had been carefully thought out and talked out by him. That he should have been able to stand all the fatigue of his journey and the constant claims on his ready wit seemed to me marvellous. I had the pleasure of showing him the old buildings of Oxford. He seemed to know them all, and had something to ask and to say about every one.

When we came to Magdalen College, he wanted to see and to measure the elms. He was very proud of some elms in America, and he had actually brought some string with which he had measured the largest tree he knew in his own country. He proceeded to measure one of our finest elms in Magdalen College, and when he found that it was larger than his American giant, he stood before it admiring it, without a single word of envy or disappointment.

183I had, however, a great fright while he was staying at our house. He had evidently done too much, and after our first dinner party he had feverish shivering fits, and the doctor whom I sent for declared at once that he must keep perfectly quiet in bed, and attend no more parties of any kind. This was a great disappointment to myself and to many of my friends. But at his time of life the doctor’s warning could not be disregarded, and I had, at all events, the satisfaction of sending him off to Cambridge safe and sound. I had him several days quite to myself, and there were few subjects which we did not discuss. We mostly agreed, but even where we did not, it was a real pleasure to differ from him. We discussed the greatest and the smallest questions, and on every one he had some wise and telling remarks to pour out. I remember one long conversation while we were sitting in an old wainscoted room at All Souls’, ornamented with the arms of former fellows. It had been at first the library of the college, then one of the fellows’ rooms, and lastly a lecture-room. We were deep in the old question of the true relation between the Divine and the Human in man, and here again, as on all other questions, everything seemed to be clear and evident to his mind. Perhaps I ought not to repeat what he said to me when we parted: “I have had much talk 184with people in England; with you I have had a real conversation.” We understood each other, and wondered how it was that men so often misunderstood one another. I told him that it was the badness of our language, he thought it was the badness of our tempers. Perhaps we were both right. With him again good-bye was good-bye for life, and at such moments one wonders indeed how kindred souls became separated, and one feels startled and repelled at the thought that, such as they were on earth, they can never meet again. And yet there is continuity in the world, there is no flaw, no break anywhere, and what has been will surely be again, though how it will be we cannot know, and if only we trust in the Wisdom that pervades and overshadows the whole Universe, we need not know.

Were I to write down my more or less casual meetings with men of literary eminence, I should have much more to say, much that was of deep interest and value to myself, but would hardly be of interest to others. I felt greatly flattered, for instance, when years ago Macaulay invited me to see him at the Albany, and to discuss with him the new regulations for the Indian Civil Service. This must have been in about 1854. I was quite a young and unknown man at the time, but I had already made his acquaintance at Bunsen’s house, 185where he had been asked to meet Herr von Radowitz, for a short time Prime Minister in Prussia, and the most famous talker in Germany. It was indeed a tournament to watch, but as it was in English, which Radowitz spoke well, yet not well enough for such a contest, Macaulay carried the day, though Radowitz excelled in repartee, in anecdotes, and in a certain elegance more telling in French than in English.

I went to call on Macaulay in London, well provided as I thought with facts and arguments in support of the necessity of Oriental studies, which I knew he had always discouraged, in the preparation and examination of candidates for the Indian Civil Service. He began by telling me that he knew nothing of Indian languages and literature, and that he wanted to know all I had to say on the real advantages to be derived by young civilians from a study of Sanskrit. I had already published several letters in The Times on the subject, and had carried on a long controversy with Sir Charles Trevelyan, afterwards published in a pamphlet, entitled “Correspondence relating to the Establishment of an Oriental College in London.”

Macaulay, after sitting down, asked me a number of questions, but before I had time to answer any one of them, he began to relate his own experiences in India, dilating on the difference between a 186scholar and a man of business, giving a full account of his controversy, while in India, with men like Professor Wilson and others, who maintained that English would never become the language of India, expressing his own strong conviction to the contrary, and relating a number of anecdotes, showing that the natives learnt English far more easily than the English could ever learn Hindustani or Sanskrit. Then he branched off into some disparaging remarks about Sanskrit literature, particularly about their legal literature, entering minutely into the question of what authority could be assigned to the Laws of Manu, and of what possible use they could be in determining lawsuits between natives, ending up with the usual diatribes about the untruthfulness of the natives of India, and their untrustworthiness as witnesses in a court of law.

This went on for nearly an hour and was very pleasant to listen to, but most disappointing to a young man who had come well primed with facts to meet all these arguments, and who tried in vain to find a chance to put in a single word. At the end of this so-called conversation Macaulay thanked me for the useful information I had given him, and I went back to Oxford a sadder and I hope a wiser man. What I had chiefly wished to impress on him was that Haileybury should not be suppressed, but should be improved, should not be ended, but 187mended. But it was easier and more popular to suppress it, and suppressed it was, so that in England, which has the largest Oriental Empire in the world, there is now not a single school or seminary for the teaching of Oriental languages, whereas France, Italy, Prussia, Austria and Russia have all found it expedient to have such establishments and to support them by liberal grants. Everybody now begins to see that these governments are reaping their rewards, but in England the old argument remains the same: “We can always find interpreters if we pay them well, and if we only speak loud enough the natives never fail to understand what we mean.”

This is no doubt much the same as what Mr. Layard meant when he explained to me how he managed to keep his diggers in order: “I speak English to them; if they do not understand I shout at them,” he said; “if they won’t obey, I knock them down; and if they show fight, I shoot them down.” No doubt this was an exaggeration, but it certainly does not prove the uselessness of a thorough knowledge of Oriental languages for those who are sent to the East to govern millions, and not to shout at them, or to knock them down.

Another true friend of mine was Arthur Helps, the author of “Friends in Council,” and for a long time clerk to the Privy Council. He often paid 188us a visit on his way to or from Blenheim, where he used to stay with the then Duke of Marlborough. He had a very high opinion of the Duke’s ability as President of the Council, and considered his personal influence most important. “At the time of a change of Ministry, you should see the members of the Cabinet,” he said. “People imagine they are miserable and disheartened. The fact is they are like a pack of schoolboys going home for their holidays, and scrambling out of the Council Chamber as fast as ever they can.”

Once when he came to stay with us on his return from Blenheim, he told me how the Duke had left the day before for London, and that on that very day the emu had laid an egg. The Duke had taken the greatest interest in his emus and had long looked forward to this event. A telegram was sent to the Duke, which, when shown to Mr. Helps, ran as follows: “The emu has laid an egg, and, in the absence of your Grace, we have taken the largest goose we could find to hatch it.”

Helps was a most sensible and thoroughly honest man; yet the last years of his life were dreadfully embittered by some ill-advised speculations of his which brought severe losses not only on himself, but, what he felt far more keenly, on several of his friends whom he had induced to share in his undertaking.

189I missed the pleasure of knowing Lord Lytton. But this illustrious writer, Lord Lytton, or in earlier days, Sir Lytton Bulwer Lytton, whose “Last Days of Pompeii” had been the delight of my youth, paid me a great and quite undeserved compliment by dedicating to me one of his last, if not his very last work, “The Coming Race,” 1871. The book was published anonymously, and as it was dedicated to me, I tried very hard to discover the author of it, but in vain. It was only after his death that Lord Lytton’s authorship became known. The book itself could hardly be called a novel, nor was there anything very striking or sensational in it. Yet, to the honour of the English public be it said, it was discovered at once that it could not be the work of an ordinary writer. It went through edition after edition, and, to the great delight of the anonymous author, was received with universal applause. Vril was the name given by the author to the fluid which in the hands of a Vrilya was raised into the mightiest agency over all forms of matter, animate or inanimate. It destroyed like the flash of lightning, yet, differently applied, it replenished or invigorated life. With it a way could be rent through the most solid substances, and from it a light was extracted, steadier, softer, and healthier than from all other inflammable materials. The fire lodged in 190the hollow of a reed, and directed by the hand of a child, could shatter the strongest fortress, or cleave its burning way from the van to the rear of an embattled host. All this reads almost like a prophecy of the electric fluid in its application to engines of war and engines of peace, but its name now survives chiefly in the powerful and invigorating fluid extracted from beef, and advertised on every wall as Bo-vril—unless I am quite mistaken in my etymology.

There are many more of the most eminent men in England from whom I have received kindness, and with whom, even as a young man, I had some interesting intercourse. But I become more and more doubtful whether I can trust my memory, and whether, in writing down my recollections, I am doing my friends full justice. When I gave my first lectures at the Royal Institution (in 1861), I came into frequent contact with Faraday. He was then what I thought an old man, and though it was quite beyond my power to estimate his greatness, he was one of those men who at once gave one the impression that they are really great. There was dignity and composure in his conversation, and at the same time a kindly welcome in his dark bright eyes which made one feel at home with him from the very first meeting. Though the subject I had to lecture on was quite new to 191him, he took the liveliest interest in my lectures. I told him how disappointed his assistant had been—I believe his name was Anderson or Robertson—when he offered me his services for my lectures, and I had to tell him that I wanted nothing, no gas, no light, no magnets, that there would be no experiments, not even diagrams to pull up and down. “O yes,” said Faraday, “I know how he tells his friends that he does all the hard work at my lectures, all the experiments, but that he lets me do the talking.” He seemed much amused when I told him that I had had just the same experience, and that one of my compositors was fully convinced that he was really responsible for my books, and told his fellow-compositors that I could not have brought out a single book without him.

Faraday sat patiently through most, if not all of my lectures, and it was a pleasure to look at his face beaming with intelligence. When I lectured for the first time on the Science of Language, I had in the beginning to clear the ground of many prejudices, and amongst the rest, to dispose of what was then almost an article of faith—namely, that all the languages of the world were derived from Hebrew. I gave a whole lecture to this question, and when it was over, an imposing old lady came up to shake hands with me and to thank me for the beautiful lecture I had delivered. “How 192delightful it is to know,” she continued, “that Adam and Eve spoke Hebrew in Paradise, and that all the other languages of the world, English not excepted, have come out of Hebrew and out of Paradise.” I really felt very much humiliated, and when Faraday came up I told him what had happened. “Oh, you must not be discouraged,” he said, “I hardly ever lecture on chemistry without an old dowager coming up to me with an incredulous smile and saying: ‘Now, Mr. Faraday, you don’t really mean to say that the water I drink is nothing but what you call oxygen and hydrogen?’ Go on,” he said, “something will always stick.”

I certainly had splendid audiences; all the best men of the town were there. But brilliant as my audiences were—they included A. P. Stanley, Fredk. Maurice, Dean Milman, Bishop Thirlwall, Mill, Lady Stanley, even royalty honoured me several times—the old habitués of the Royal Institution were not easy to please. The front row was generally occupied by old men with hearing-trumpets, old Indians, old generals, old clergymen, etc. A number of ladies came in with their newspaper and unfolded it before the lecture began, and seemed to read it with their eyes while their ears were supposed to follow my arguments. One’s self-conceit is sometimes very much tried. After 193one of my lectures I saw one of the old East Indians led out by his son or nephew, who shouted in a loud voice into his father’s ear, “That was a splendid lecture, was it not?” “Yes,” said the old man in a still louder voice, “very interesting—very; didn’t understand a single word of it.” Such is reputation. On another occasion the same deaf and loud-voiced gentleman was heard to tell his neighbour who I was and what I had done. “Yes,” he shouted, “I know him; he is a clever young man. And we have appointed him to do some work for us, to publish the old Bible of India. We have also made him our examiner for the Civil Service of India. A clever young man, I assure you.”

That is how I rose in the estimation of the London world, and how Albemarle Street became crowded with fashionable carriages, and people could hardly find places in order to hear all about Aryan roots and our Aryan ancestors, and our common Aryan home somewhere in Asia.

It was in the same Royal Institution that I first raised my voice against the thoughtless extravagances of the so-called Darwinian School, and this at a time when it required more courage to express a doubt on any Darwinian theories than to doubt the descent of all languages from Hebrew. As to Darwin himself, I had expressed my admiration of 194him in my very first course of lectures, and I had more particularly tried to show how the idea of evolution, or development, or growth, or whatever name we like to use instead of the name of history, had at all times been the guiding principle in the researches of the students of the “Science of Languages.” Our object had always been to discover how languages came to be what they are, to study the origin and growth, or more truly the history of language. If we spoke of the development or evolution of language (Entwickelung) it was simply in order to avoid the constant use of the same word. We comparative philologists had, in fact, been talking evolution for more than forty years, as M. Jourdain had been talking prose all his life, without being aware of it (sans que j’en susse rien). But we never went into raptures about that blessed word “evolution,” or about the passage from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous.

What I, from my own point of view, valued particularly in Darwin’s philosophy was the technical term of Natural Selection. Logically it was not quite correct, for, say what you like, selection presupposes a selector. Without a selector there is no selection, and unless we speak mythologically, we cannot speak of Nature as a selector. I should have preferred, therefore, Rational Elimination, 195looking upon Reason, or the Good of Plato, as the power that works for good or for fitness in all that survives or is not crowded out. But with this restriction Natural Selection was the very term we wanted to signify that process which is constantly going on in language—“excluding caprice as well as necessity, including individual exertion as well as general co-operation, applicable neither to the unconscious building of bees nor to the conscious architecture of human beings, yet combining within itself both these operations, and raising them to a higher conception.”[14] Natural selection was the very term we wanted for a true insight into the so-called growth of language, and it was Darwin who gave it us, even though for our own purposes we had to define it more strictly.

I gave Darwin full credit for having discovered and popularised this new “category of thought,” but the constant hallelujahs that were raised over the discovery of Evolution showed surely an extraordinary ignorance of the history of philosophical thought in Europe. Darwin himself was the very last person to claim evolution as a discovery of his own; but is there a single paper that has not called him the discoverer of Evolution? He knew too well how, particularly in his own special field of study, the controversy whether each so-called 196genus or species had required a separate act of creation, had been raging for centuries. He remembered the famous controversy in 1830 at the French Institute, between Cuvier and Geoffray Saint-Hilaire, and Goethe’s equally famous remarks on the subject. It would seem as if Darwin himself had originally been under the spell of the old idea that every species, if not every individual, required a special act of creation, and he describes, if I remember rightly, the shock it gave him when he saw for the first time that this idea had to be surrendered. It was evidently considered to be the orthodox view of creation, though I do not know why; nay, it seems to be so still, if we remember how the present Archbishop of Canterbury was represented as unfit to wear a mitre because he believed in evolution; that is, as I should say, in his senses. I myself, on the contrary, was given to understand at the time by my unorthodox friends that my want of belief in evolution was but a survival of my orthodox opinions. I was much puzzled before I could understand why I was looked at askance, till in one of the reviews I was told in so many words that if I did not believe in evolution, I must believe in the theory of special creations, or in nothing at all. Even Tyndall, dear honest Tyndall, told me one day at the Royal Institution that it was no use my 197kicking against the pricks, and I then had an opportunity of telling him my mind. “When some substance is brought you,” I said, “don’t you first of all analyse it to find out what it consists of, before you use it for any further experiments? Well, that is really what a student of language does. When you bring him a word like evolution, the first thing he asks for is an analysis or definition. That may often seem very discourteous, but it cannot be otherwise in any decent laboratory of chemistry or thought. Now if evolution is meant for an action, you cannot have an action without an actor, whether his action is direct or indirect. Of course you will say that we all know that, that it is mere childish logic; but, if so, we should not imagine that we can neglect this childish logic with impunity, that we can have a successful experiment without first wiping our crucibles clean. If, on the contrary, evolution is to be taken in the sense of a process excluding an actor or evolver, this should be clearly stated, and in that case the more familiar word ‘growth’ would have been far preferable, because it would not have raised unfounded expectations. But even growth means very little unless it is authenticated by history step by step.

“If then you tell me that there is growth, not only from the sperm to men like you and me, not 198only from an egg to a caterpillar, from a caterpillar to a chrysalis, and from a chrysalis to a butterfly, but likewise from inorganic to organised matter, from plants to animals, from reptiles to birds, from apes to men, I have not a word to say against it. I know you to be an honest man, and if you can assure me that there are historical facts, real, visible facts, to support this transition from one species to another, or even from one genus to another, I trust you. It would be simple arrogance were I to doubt your word, within your own special sphere of study. You have seen the transition or connecting links, you know that it is not only possible, but real, and there is an end of it. Only allow me to say that from a philosophical point of view there is nothing new in this concept of growth, or, as you call it, evolution. You would never say that Lamarck had been the discoverer of growth in nature, neither has it any definite meaning to me when you say that Darwin was the discoverer of evolution. I can understand enough of Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ to enable me to admire his power of observation and his true genius of combination. I can see how he has reduced the number of unnecessary species, and of unnecessary acts of so-called special creation; and that possibly he has traced back the whole of the animal and vegetable kingdoms to four beginnings, 199and in the end to one Creator. Darwin did not go beyond this, he required four beginnings and one Creator. It was left to his followers to carry out his principles, as they thought, by eliminating the Creator, and reducing the four beginnings to one. If you think that all this rests on well ascertained facts, I have nothing to say except to express my surprise that some men of great learning and undoubted honesty are not so positive as to these facts as you are. But with the exception of a Creator, that is, a subjective Author of the universe, all this is really outside my special province, and I could afford to be silent. Only when Darwin maintains the transition from some highly developed animal into a human being, I say, Stop! Here the student of language has a word to say, and I say that language is something that, even in its most rudimentary form, puts an impassable barrier between beast and man.”

Soon after, when I had been asked to give a new course of lectures at the Royal Institution, I had selected this very point, the barrier which language forms between man and brute, for my subject, and as Darwin’s “Descent of Man” was then occupying the thoughts of philosophers, I promised to give a course of lectures on “Darwin’s Philosophy of Language.” Entertaining, as 200I did, a sincere admiration for Darwin, I felt that it would have been even discourteous to attempt to be courteous to such a man by passing over in silence what he had said on language. This kind of courtesy is most offensive to a true man of science. Otherwise nothing would have been easier than to find antagonists for my purpose, beginning with Epicurus and ending with Mr. H. Wedgwood’s “Etymological Dictionary of the English Language” (second edition, 1872). It so happened that the author of that dictionary was a friend of Darwin’s, and had easily persuaded him that interjections and imitations of natural sounds formed the material elements of all human speech, and that, as certain animals barked, and mocking birds and parrots imitated sounds which they heard, there seemed to be no reason whatever why animals in a few millions of years should not have invented a language of their own. This naturally fell in with Darwin’s own views and wishes, and though he always spoke with great reserve on the subject of language, yet he would have been more than human if he had surrendered his conviction of the descent of man from some kind of animal on account of this, as his friend had assured him, so easily removable barrier of language. Given a sufficient number of years, he thought, and why should not bow-wow and pooh-pooh have evolved 201into “I bark” and “I despise”? The fact that no animal had ever evolved such words could not be denied, but it could be ignored, or explained away by evidence clearly showing that animals communicated with each other; as if to communicate were the same as to speak. My object in my lectures (published at the time in Longman’s Magazine) was to show that no such transition from pooh-pooh to I despise is possible; nay, that even the first step, the formation of roots, that is, of general concepts out of single sounds, that is, single percepts, is beyond the power of any animal, except the human animal. Even now it is only the human baby or puppy that can learn to imitate human language, and what is the mere learning of a language, compared with the creation of language, which was the real task of those human animals that became men? In all the arguments which I used in support of my theory—a theory no longer controverted, I believe, by any competent and independent scholar and thinker—I never used a single disrespectful word about Mr. Darwin. But for all that I was supposed to have blasphemed, again not by Mr. Darwin himself, but by those who called themselves his bulldogs. I was actually suspected of having written that notorious article in The Quarterly Review which gave such just offence to Darwin. Darwin himself was 202above all this, and I have his letter in which he writes, 5th January, 1875:—

I have just read the few first pages of your article in The Contemporary Review, and I hope that you will permit me to say that neither I, nor my son, ever supposed that you were the author of the review in the Quarterly. You are about the last man in England to whom I should have attributed such a review. I know it was written by Mr. M., and the utterly false and base statements contained in it are worthy of the man.

But what was better still, Mr. Darwin gave me an opportunity of discussing the facts and arguments which stood between him and me in a personal interview. Sir John Lubbock took me to see the old philosopher at his place, Down, Beckenham, Kent, and there are few episodes in my life which I value more. I need not describe the simplicity of his house, and the grandeur of the man who had lived and worked in it for so many years. Darwin gave me a hearty welcome, showed me his garden and his flowers, and then took me into his study, and standing leaning against his desk began to examine me. He said at once that personally he was quite ignorant of the science of language, and had taken his facts and opinions chiefly from his friend, Mr. Wedgwood. I had been warned that Darwin could not carry on a 203serious discussion for more than about ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, as it always brought on his life-long complaint of sickness. I therefore put before him in the shortest way possible the difficulties which prevented me from accepting the theory of animals forming a language out of interjections and sounds of nature. I laid stress on the fact that no animal, except the human animal, had ever made a step towards generalisation of percepts, and towards roots, the real elements of all languages, as signs of such generalised percepts, and I gave him a few illustrations of how our words for one to ten, for father, mother, sun and moon had really and historically been evolved. That man thus formed a real anomaly in the growth of the animal kingdom, as conceived by him, I fully admitted; but it was impossible for me to ignore facts, and language in its true meaning has always been to my mind a fact that could not be wiped away by argument, as little as the Himalayas could be wiped away with a silk handkerchief even in millions of years. He listened most attentively without making any objections, but before he shook hands and left me, he said in the kindest way, “You are a dangerous man.” I ventured to reply, “There can be no danger in our search for truth,” and he left the room.

He was exactly the man I had imagined, massive 204in his forehead, kind in his smile, and hardly bent under the burden of his knowledge or the burden of his years. I must give one more of his letters, because my late friend Romanes, who saw it in my album, seems to have entirely misapprehended its meaning. He saw in it a proof of Mr. Darwin’s extraordinary humility. I do not deny his humility, it was extraordinary, and, what is more, it was genuine. All great men know how little they know in comparison with what they do not know. They are humble, they do not only wish to appear so. But I see in Darwin’s letter far more of humour than of humility. I see him chuckling while he wrote it, and though I value it as a treasure, I never looked upon it as a trophy.

Down, Beckenham, Kent,
15th Oct., 1875.

My Dear Sir,

I am greatly obliged to you for so kindly sending me your essay, which I am sure will interest me much. With respect to our differences, though some of your remarks have been rather stinging, they have all been made so gracefully, I declare that I am like the man in the story who boasted that he had been soundly horsewhipped by a Duke.

Pray believe me,
Yours very sincerely,
Charles Darwin.


By royal I do not mean kings and emperors only, or queens and empresses. I should have very little to tell of them. But royal, as is well known, has a wider meaning. The families of all reigning sovereigns, whether grand dukes, dukes, princes, landgraves, electors, etc., are royalty, nay even certain mediatised families, families that have ceased to be reigning, and which are very numerous on the continent, claim the same status, and may therefore intermarry with royal princes and princesses. Princes and princesses may also marry persons who are not royalty, but in that case the marriage is morganatic—a perfectly good and legal form of marriage both from an ecclesiastical and civil point of view, only that the children of such marriages, though perfectly legitimate, cannot succeed to the throne: in many cases no great loss to them. It has been my good fortune to see a good deal of royalty during the whole of my life. I say 206good fortune on purpose, for, with all the drawbacks inherent in Court life, royal persons enjoy some great advantages. Their position is assured and well defined. It requires no kind of self-assertion, and wherever they appear, they have no equals, no rivals, and hardly any enviers. They know that their presence always gives pleasure, and that every kind word or look from them is highly appreciated. They seldom have any inducement to try to appear different from what they are, or to disguise what they think or feel. What is the use of being a bishop, Stanley used to say, except that you can speak your own mind! The same applies to crowned heads, and if some of them, and it may be some bishops also, do not avail themselves of this privilege, it is surely their own fault. No doubt, if a bishop wants to become an archbishop, he has to think twice about what he may and what he may not say. But a king or a prince does not generally want to become anything else, and as they want nothing from anybody, they are not likely to scheme, to flatter, or to deceive. Whatever people may say of the atmosphere of courts and the insincerity of courtiers, the sovereign himself, if only left to himself, if only seen in his own private cabinet, is generally above the vitiated atmosphere that pervades his palace, nor does he, as a rule, while speaking with 207perfect freedom himself, dislike perfect freedom in others.

Of course there are differences among royalty as well as among commonalty. Some sovereigns have become so accustomed to the daily supply of the very cheapest flattery, that the slightest divergence from the tone of their courtiers is apt to startle or to offend them. Still most human beings like fresh air.

And have we not known persons who display their mitres and shake their crosiers before our faces, far more than kings their crowns and their sceptres? There is a whole class of people in ordinary life who have become something, and who seem always to be thanking God that they are not as other men are. They have ceased to be what they were, quite unaware that even in becoming something, there ought always to be or to remain something that becomes or has become. They seem to have been created afresh when they were created peers, temporal or spiritual.

But we must not be unfair to these new creations or creatures. I have known bishops, and archbishops too, in England, who, to their friends, always remained Thirlwalls or Thomsons, and in the second place only Bishops of St. David’s or Archbishops of York. My friend Arthur Stanley never became a dean. He was always Stanley; Dean of 208Westminster, if necessary. If he had been what he ought to have been, Archbishop of Canterbury, he would never have ceased to be A. P. Stanley, his chuckle would always have been just the same, and if his admirers had presented him with a mitre and crosier, he would probably have put the mitre on his head sideways, and said to his friends what another bishop is reported to have said on a similar occasion: “Thank you, my friends, but a new hat and an alpaca umbrella would have been far more useful than a mitre and a crosier.” With regard to royal personages, they have the great advantage that they are to their business born. They have not become, they were born royal. I was much struck by the extraordinary power of observation of a French friend of mine, who, when in 1855 the Queen and the Empress Eugénie entered the Grand Opera at Paris together, and were received with immense applause, turned to his neighbour, an Englishman, and said: “Look at the difference between your Queen and our Empress.” They had both bowed most graciously, and then sat down. “Did you not observe,” he continued, “how the Empress looked round to see if there was a chair for her before she sat down. But your Queen, a born Queen, sat down without looking. She knew a chair must be there, as surely as she is Queen of England.”

209There must be something to hedge a king. While most people have to move in a crowd, and hold their own even in a mob—and it is difficult to move with ease when you are hustled and pushed—royal persons are never in a crowd, and have never to adopt a position of self-defence or self-assertion. Still there is a difference between royal persons also. Some of them with all their dignity manage to hide their crown in everyday life; others seem always conscious that it is there, and that they must not condescend too low, lest it should tumble from their head.

My first acquaintance with royalty was at Dessau, my native town. Much has been written to ridicule the small German princes and their small Courts. And it cannot be denied that the etiquette kept up by the courtiers, and the nobility, in some of the small capitals of Germany is ludicrous in the extreme. But there is in the sovereigns themselves an inherited dignity, a sentiment of noblesse oblige, which demands respect. The reigning Duke of Anhalt-Dessau was to us boys a being by himself, and no wonder. Though the Duchy was so small that on one occasion a troublesome political agitator, who had been expelled from the Duchy, threatened to throw stones and break the Duke’s windows as soon as he had crossed the frontier, to us children Dessau was our world. 210When I was a child, the town of Dessau, the capital of the Duchy, contained not more than 10,000 or 12,000 inhabitants, but the Duke, Leopold Friedrich (1817–1871), was really the most independent sovereign in Europe. He was perfectly irresponsible, a constitution did not exist, and was never allowed to be mentioned. All appointments were made by the Duke, all salaries and pensions were paid from the Ducal chest, whatever existed in the whole Duchy belonged, or seemed to belong, to him. There was no appeal from him, at least not in practice, whatever it may have been in theory. If more money was wanted, the Dukes, I believe, had only to issue a new tax, and the money was forthcoming. And with all that one never, or hardly ever, heard of any act of injustice. The Duke was rich, nearly the whole of the Duchy belonged to him, and he had large landed property elsewhere also. Taxation was low, and during years of war and distress, taxes were actually remitted by the Dukes. The only public opinion there was, was represented by the Duke’s own permanent civil service, and certainly in it tradition was so strong that even the Duke, independent as he was, would have hesitated before going against it.

But the Duke himself was a splendid example of uprightness, fairness, and justice. He belonged to one of the oldest reigning families in Europe. 211The Hohenzollern, and even the Hohenstaufen, were but of yesterday compared with the glorious ancestors of the Ascanian princes. They did not actually claim descent from Ascanius, the son of Aeneas, nor from Askenas, the grandson of Japhet, though some crazy genealogists may have done so; but there is no flaw in their pedigree from the present Duke to Albrecht the Bear, Markgrave of Brandenburg in 1134. Some people would probably say that he belonged to a totemistic age. The Duke whom I knew, and who died in 1871, was the eighteenth successor of this Albrecht the Bear, and though his possessions had been much reduced in the course of centuries, he knew what was due from him to his name, and to the blood of his ancestors. He never forgot it. He was a tall and very handsome man, very quiet, very self-contained, particularly during the later part of his life, when his increasing deafness made any free intercourse between him and his friends and officials extremely difficult. He worked as hard as any of his ministers, and no wonder, considering that everything, whether important or not, had finally to be decided by him. As he had been much attached to my father, and as my grandfather was his president or prime minister, he took some interest in me when I was a boy at school in Dessau, and I can remember standing 212before him and looking up to him in his cabinet with fear and trembling, although nothing could be kinder than the handsome tall man with his deep voice and his slowly uttered words; he seemed to move in an atmosphere of his own, far removed from the life of his subjects. The ducal castle at Dessau was a grand old building, a quadrangle open in front, with turrets that held the staircases leading up to the reception rooms. Some of his ancestors had been highly cultivated men, who had travelled in Italy, France, and England, and had collected treasures of art, which were afterwards stored up in the old Palace (Schloss) at Dessau, and in several beautiful parks in the neighbourhood that had been laid out a hundred years ago after the model of English parks. The orange trees (Orangerie) in those parks and gardens were magnificent, and I do not remember having seen such an abundance of them anywhere else; but they suddenly began to wither and die, and even replanting them by their heads and letting the roots grow as new branches does not seem to have saved them.

The Duke and his highly cultivated Duchess were the little gods of Dessau. They seemed to live on their own Olympus. Everything depended on them; everything, such as theatre, concerts, or any public amusements, had to be provided out 213of their private purse. No wonder that the people looked up to them, and that whatever they did was considered right, whatever they said was repeated as gospel.

Scholars are just now writing learned essays as to whether the idea of the apotheosis of Augustus came to the Romans from Greece or from Egypt, or whether it may be a survival of fetishism. It may have had a much more homely origin, however. To the common people in the villages round Dessau, I feel sure that the Duke was little short of a god, provided always that they knew what was meant by a god. He might not have created the world, even Divus Augustus was not credited with that tour de force; but there was nothing else, I believe, that the peasants would have thought beyond the power of their Duke. To us children also, the Duke, the Duchess, and all the members of the Ducal family, were something quite different from the rest of the world, and some of these impressions of childhood often remain for life. When their carriage passed through the streets, everybody stood still, took off his hat, and remained bareheaded till they had passed. There was nothing servile in all this, as little as there is in a Frenchman signing himself Votre très-obéissant serviteur, for no one ever thought at that time that it could be otherwise. 214Nor am I at all certain that this outward respect for a sovereign is a mistake, for in honouring their sovereign, people after all but honour themselves. Whether he is supposed to be a sovereign by the grace of God, or by hereditary right, or by the voice of the people, he represents the country and the people; he is their duke, their king, their emperor, and if they wish to see him honoured by others, they must not fail to honour him themselves. When I saw the other day a king passing through the streets of his own capital, and no one touching his hat, I thought, “What a low opinion these people must have of themselves.” Even as boys at school we felt a pride in our Duke, and, though we knew scraps only of the glorious history of his ancestors, we knew how they had borne the brunt of the battle in all the greatest episodes of the history of Germany.

Little is said of these numerous small principalities in the history of Germany, but without them German history would often be quite unintelligible, and Germany would never have had so intense a vitality, would never have become what it is now. No doubt there was also an element of danger in them, particularly during the first half of this century, when as members of the German Confederation they could band together and support either Austria or Prussia in their fatal rivalry. 215They were the horses, as Bismarck said, harnessed to the chariot of Germany, some before and some behind, and pulling in different directions, so that it was impossible to advance. But that danger is past, thanks chiefly to Bismarck’s policy, and for the future the smaller principalities that have escaped from his grasp will form the most useful centres of intellectual life, nor are they likely now to be absorbed by Prussia, if well advised. There was a time during the Austro-Prussian war in 1866 when everybody expected that Anhalt, being almost an enclave of Prussia, would share the fate of Hanover, Nassau, and the Electorate of Hessia. The reigning Duke had the strongest sympathies for Austria. But he had a clever minister, who showed him that there were only two ways open to him under the circumstances, either to abdicate of his own free will, and make as advantageous an arrangement with Prussia as possible, or to say yes to whatever demand was made from Berlin. He chose the latter alternative, and it is reported that it was of him that Bismarck said: “I know what to do with my enemies, but what to do with my friends, I don’t.”

I cannot resist the temptation of giving here a short sketch of the really glorious history of the duchy and the Dukes of Anhalt, such as it was known to us as boys. Nor should it be supposed 216that I exaggerate the importance of my native duchy. I doubt, indeed, whether there is any reigning house now that can produce such a splendid record as Anhalt. If it has remained small and lost much of its former political influence, that is due chiefly to a law of inheritance which prevailed in the ducal family. Instead of making the eldest son the ruler of the whole duchy, it was the custom to divide the land among all the princes. Thus instead of one Duchy of Anhalt there were four duchies, Anhalt-Dessau, Anhalt-Cöthen, Anhalt-Zerbst, and Anhalt-Bernburg, some of them again subdivided. From time to time the duchies were reunited, and so they are at present, the last of the collateral branches having died out in 1863, when they were united once more into one duchy.

If we go slowly back into the past, and that seems to me the real task of the historian, we shall find that there is no critical epoch in the history of Germany, and of the history of the world, where we do not meet with some of the princes of the small Duchy of Anhalt, standing in the very front of the fight. I only wonder that no one has yet attempted to write a popular history of the four principalities of Anhalt, in order to show the share which they took in the historical development of Germany. I have tried to refresh 217my memory by reading a carefully written manual, “Anhalt’s Geschichte in Wort und Bild,” by Dr. Hermann Lorenz, 1893, but instead of quoting his opinion, or the opinions of any historians, as to the personal merits and the historical achievements of the princes of Anhalt, whether as warriors or as rulers, I shall try to quote, wherever it is possible, the judgments pronounced on them by some of their own contemporaries, whose names will carry greater weight.

The beginning of the nineteenth century was dominated by Napoleon’s invasion and almost annihilation of Germany. Dessau was then ruled by Prince Leopold Friedrich Franz (1740–1806). He had done an immense amount to raise both the material and the intellectual status of his people, and had well earned the name he is still known by, of “Father Franz.” Many of the princes of that time were far in advance of the people, and they met, as he did, with considerable difficulty in overcoming the resistance of those whom they wished to benefit by their reforms. The young prince of Dessau had travelled in Holland, England, and Italy. He avoided France, which he said was dangerous to young princes, and yet he was enlightened enough to erect a monument to Rousseau in his beautiful park at Wörlitz. He loved England. “In England,” he 218used to say, “one becomes a man.” Nor did he travel for pleasure only. While in England, he studied agriculture, architecture, gardening, brewing, and various other manufactures, in order to introduce as many improvements as possible among his own people. In Italy he studied art, both ancient and modern, under Winckelmann, and this great antiquarian was so delighted with the young prince and his companion that he spoke of their visit as the appearance of two young Greek gods. At that time it was still possible to buy old classical statues and old Italian pictures, and the young prince gladly availed himself of his opportunities as far as his financial resources would allow, and brought home to Dessau many valuable specimens of ancient and modern art. These he arranged in his various palaces and museums, all open to the people, and in the beautiful parks and gardens which he had created after English models in the neighbourhood of his capital. After a hundred years some of these parks, particularly that of Wörlitz, can vie with some of the finest parks in England. Like the neighbouring duchy of Weimar, Dessau soon attracted visitors from all parts of Germany. Goethe himself and his enlightened patron, the Duke Karl August, were often the guests of the Duke of Dessau, and Goethe has in several places spoken in rapturous terms of the 219beauties of Wörlitz, and the charm of the Duke’s society. Wieland, Lavater, Matthison, and other celebrities often passed happy days at Dessau as guests of the Duke.

But after Duke Franz had spent all his life in embellishing his land and inspiring his subjects with higher and nobler ideals, the Napoleonic thunder-cloud, which had long threatened Germany, burst over his head, and threatened to destroy everything that he had planted. After the battle of Jena in 1806 Prussia and the whole of Germany were at the mercy of the great French conqueror, and Napoleon, with his army of 100,000 men, who had to be lodged and fed in every town of Germany through which they passed, appeared at Dessau on 21st October, 1806. The old Prince had to receive him bareheaded at the foot of the staircase of his castle. My mother, then a child of six, remembered seeing her own grand and beautiful prince standing erect before the small and pale Corsican. The Prince, however, in his meeting with the Emperor, was not afraid to wear the Prussian order of the Black Eagle on his breast, and when he was asked by Napoleon whether he too had sent a contingent to the Prussian army, he said, “No, sir.” “Why not?” asked the Emperor. “Because I have not been asked,” was the answer. “But if you had been 220asked?” continued the Emperor. “Then I should certainly have sent my soldiers,” the Prince replied; and he added: “Your Majesty knows the right of the stronger.” This was a not very prudent remark to make, but the Emperor seems to have liked the outspoken old man. He invited him to inspect with him the bridge over the Elbe which had been burnt by the Prussians to cover their retreat. He demanded that it should be rebuilt at once, and on that condition he promised to grant neutrality to the duchy. Nay, before leaving Dessau in the morning he went so far as to ask his host whether he could do anything for him. “For myself,” the Prince replied, “I want nothing. I only ask for mercy for my people, for they are all to me like my children.”

The next critical period in the history of Germany is that of Frederick the Great, marked by the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763) and the establishment of Prussia as one of the great Powers of Europe.

Here again we find a prince of Anhalt as one of the principal actors. The instrument with which Frederick the Great won his victories was his well-drilled army, and the drill-master of that army had been Leopold, Fürst zu Anhalt, the Field-Marshal of Frederick’s father. At the head of his grenadiers and by the side of Prince Eugène, 221Prince Leopold of Dessau had won, or helped to win, the great battles of Höchstadt, Blindheim (corrupted to Blenheim), Turin, and Malplaquet in the War of the Spanish Succession, and had thus helped in establishing against the overweening ambition of Louis XIV. what was then called the political equilibrium of Europe. The Prussian Field-Marshal was known at the time all over Germany as the “Alte Dessauer,” and through Carlyle’s “Life of Frederick the Great” his memory has lately been revived in England also. Having completely reorganised the Prussian army and having led it ever so many times to brilliant victories, he was for Prussia in his time what Bismarck was in our own. But after the death of Frederick I. and Frederick William II., Frederick II., or the Great, disliked the old general’s tutelage and dismissed him: much as Bismarck has been dismissed in our own time. The young King wrote to the old Field-Marshal quite openly: “I shall not be such a fool as to neglect my most experienced officers, but this campaign (in Silesia) I reserve for myself lest the world should think that the Prussian King cannot go to war without his tutor.” His old tutor was very angry, but he did not rebel, and in a State like Prussia, Frederick the Great was probably as right as the present Emperor in saying “Let one 222be King.” However, after Frederick had once established his own position as a general, he recalled his old tutor, and in the second Silesian War it was the brave warrior who stormed the heights of Kesselsdorf at the head of his old grenadiers, and won one of the most difficult and most decisive victories for his King. The King after the battle took off his hat before his tutor and embraced him in the sight of the whole army. The inscription placed on the Field-Marshal’s monument at Berlin, probably composed by the King himself, is simple and true: “He led the Prussian auxiliary forces victoriously to the Rhine, the Danube, and the Po; he took Stralsund and the island of Rügen. The battle of Kesselsdorf crowned his military career. The Prussian army owes him its strict discipline and the improvement of its infantry.” The successors of Frederick the Great have never forgotten what they owe to the “Alte Dessauer,” and I doubt not they may be counted on in the future also as the stoutest friends and supporters of the illustrious house of Albrecht the Bear, the first Markgrave of Brandenburg.

If stronger testimony to the military genius of the Old Dessauer were wanted from the mouth of his own contemporaries, it might easily be quoted from the despatches of Prince Eugène. That 223great general freely admits that the Prince’s troops surpassed his own in courage and discipline; nay, he adds, “the Prince of Dessau has done wonders in the battle of Turin.” The Emperor of Austria endorsed this judgment, and added, “that he had earned immortal glory,” and he conferred on him the title of Serene Highness.

So much for the eighteenth century. If now we look back to the seventeenth, the century of the Thirty Years’ War, we find Anhalt the constant trysting-ground of the two parties, the Catholic and the Protestant Powers, and we see the princes of Anhalt again and again at the head of the Northern or Protestant armies. The Elbe often divided the two, and the bridge over the river near Dessau was contested then as it was during the Napoleonic wars. Well do I remember, when as a boy I went to the Schanzenhaus, a coffeehouse on the way to the new bridge over the Elbe, how it was explained to me that these Schanzen or fortifications were what was left of the works erected by Wallenstein: just as I learnt at a later time that my own house at Oxford called Park’s End, was so called not because it stood as it does now at the end of the Park, but because what is now called the Park was originally the Parks, i.e., the parks of artillery erected by Cromwell’s army against the walls of Oxford. The right name of 224my house should therefore have been not Park’s End, but Parks’ End. A more merciless war than the Thirty Years’ War was seldom waged; villages and whole towns vanished from the ground, and many tracts of cultivated land, particularly along the Elbe, were changed into deserts. Yet during all that time the Anhalt princes never wavered. When the Elector of the Palatinate, Frederick II., had been proclaimed King in Bohemia in 1619, his commander-in-chief was Prince Christian of Anhalt. When after years of slaughter Gustavus Adolphus came to the assistance of the Protestant Powers in Germany and won the decisive battle of Lützen, one of Prince Christian’s sons, Prince Ernest, fought at his side and died of his wounds soon after the battle. The memory of Gustavus Adolphus has been kept alive in Dessau to the present day. He has become the hero of popular romance, and as a schoolboy I heard several stories told by the common people of his adventures during the war. There stands a large red brick house which I often passed on my way from Dessau to Wörlitz, and which is simply called Gustavus Adolphus. The story goes that the Swedish king was in hiding there under a bridge while the enemy’s cavalry passed over it.

One more century back brings us to the time of the Reformation, and once more among the most 225prominent champions of the Protestant cause we see the princes of Anhalt. The very cradle of the Reformation, Wittenberg, was not far from Dessau, and the reigning family of Anhalt was closely connected by marriage with the Saxon princes of the house of Wettin, the chief protectors of the reforming movement in Germany. Prince Wolfgang of Anhalt was present at the Diet of Worms, in 1521, and again in 1529, at the Diet of Speier. He openly declared in favour of ecclesiastical reform, and he extended his patronage to Luther when he came to preach at Zerbst. This was at that time a most dangerous step to take, but the young prince was not to be frightened by Pope or Emperor, and at the Diet of Augsburg he was again one of the first princes to sign the Augsburg Confession. During the momentous years that followed, the Anhalt princes were willing, as they declared, to risk life and wealth, land and throne, for the Gospel. Nor was this a mere phrase, for Prince Wolfgang, when he found himself surrounded at Bernburg by the Imperial army, chiefly Spanish, had in good earnest to fly for his life and remain in hiding for some time. When he was able to return to his duchy, he devoted his remaining years to repairing, as much as possible, the ravages of the war, and he then retired into private life of his own free will, leaving the government 226to his three cousins, and ending his days as a simple citizen in the small town of Zerbst. Let me quote once more the judgment passed on him by the most eminent of his own contemporaries. Luther and Philip Melanchthon have spoken in no uncertain tone of the merits of the Anhalt princes during the most critical period of the Reformation. Of Prince Wolfgang Melanchthon said: “No one will come again, equal to him in authority among princes, in love towards churches and schools, in zeal to maintain peace and concord, and in readiness to give up his life for his faith.” Of Prince George, called the Gottselige, Luther is reported to have declared: “He is more pious than I am, and if he does not get into heaven, I too shall certainly have to remain outside.” Nay, even his antagonist, the Emperor Charles V., confessed that he knew no other person in the whole of his empire who could be compared in piety or ability to Prince George of Anhalt. Who knows of him now outside the limits of the Duchy of Dessau? but it is all the more the duty of his descendants to keep his memory fresh as one of that small band of men who have done their duty.

So much for the princes of the house of Anhalt during the period of the Reformation. No other reigning family could produce a brighter escutcheon 227during the troubles of the sixteenth century, and we saw how that escutcheon was preserved bright and brilliant during the centuries that followed, the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth. If the title of Grand Duke does not depend on the number of square miles, surely no family has deserved that title so well as the ducal family of Anhalt.

Beyond the sixteenth century, the history of Germany tells us little of the private character of the Anhalt princes, but we may look forward to new information which the Ducal Archives will yield if examined, as they have been of late by competent historians. Much useful work has been done during the last twenty-two years by a historical society established at Dessau. A Codex Anhaltinus has been published and much light has been thrown on transactions in which some princes of Anhalt had taken a prominent part. If during the time of the Crusades the names of the Ascanians are but seldom mentioned, there was a good reason for it. Bernhard of Clairvaux himself, wise man as he was with all his fanaticism, had persuaded them to turn their arms against the heathen on the eastern borders of Germany, rather than against the heathen who had conquered the Holy Land. Slavonic tribes, particularly the Wends and Sorbs, who were still heathen, were constantly threatening the eastern parts of the German Empire, the very ramparts of 228civilisation and Christianity, and it was felt to be absolutely necessary to drive them back, or to induce them to adopt a civilised and Christian mode of life. In 1134 Albrecht, commonly called Albrecht the Bear, had been invested by the Emperor Lothar with the Northern Mark, or the Mark Brandenburg, as his fief, in order to defend it as best he could against these Slavonic inroads. This Albrecht the Bear is the ancestor of the reigning Dukes of Anhalt, the present duke being his nineteenth successor. It was the same Mark Brandenburg which was afterwards to become the cradle of Prussia and indirectly of the German Empire. Albrecht’s influence was so great at the time that, after the death of the Emperor Lothar, he succeeded in carrying the election of the Emperor Konrad III., the Hohenstaufen, against the Welfic party, who wished to raise the Duke of Bavaria, Henry the Proud, to the Imperial throne of Germany. The Emperor rewarded Albrecht’s services by taking the Duchy of Saxony away from the Welfic Duke of Bavaria, and bestowing it on him. This led to a bloody war between the two claimants, and ended in the defeat of Albrecht. But though deprived again of his Saxon fief, Albrecht proved so successful in his own mark against the Sorbs and Wends that he received the title of Markgrave of Brandenburg, and as such became 229one of the Electors of the German Empire. All those fierce fights against the Slavonic races on the western frontier of Germany are now well-nigh forgotten, and only the names of towns and rivers remain to remind us how much of what is now German soil, between the Elbe and Oder, had for a long time been occupied by Slavonic tribes, uncivilised and pagan. Albrecht had really inherited this task of subduing and expelling these enemies from German soil from his father, Count Otto, who was the grandson of Count Esiko of Ballenstädt (1050). All these princes and their knights had to spend their lives in settling and defending the frontiers or marks of Germany, or of what had been German soil before the southward migrations of the German tribes began. They held their fiefs from the German Emperors, but were left free to do whatever they deemed necessary in the defence of their strongholds (burgs) and settlements. The first of the Saxon Emperors, Henry I. (919–936), was called the Burgenbauer, because he encouraged all over Germany the building of strongholds which afterwards grew into villages and towns, and thus led gradually to a more civilised life in the German Empire. Wherever it was possible churches were built, bishoprics were founded, monasteries and schools established and supported by liberal grants of land. A great share in this Eastern conquest 230fell to the Counts of Anhalt, and their achievements were richly rewarded by the great Saxon Emperors, Henry I. and Otto the Great. There can be no doubt that these bloody crusades of the German Markgraves against their pagan enemies in the East of Europe, though less famous, left more lasting and more substantial benefits to Germany than all the crusades against the Saracens.

I shall carry my historical retrospect no farther, but it may easily be imagined how this long and glorious history of the princes of the house of Anhalt made a deep impression on the minds of the young generation, and how even as boys we felt proud of our Duke. Though the belief in heredity was not then so strong as it is now—and I must confess that even now my own belief in acquired excellencies being inherited is very small—yet standing before our Ascanian[15] 231Duke, the descendant and representative of so many glorious ancestors, one felt something like 232the awe which one feels when looking at an oak that has weathered many a storm, and still sends forth every year its rich green foliage. It was a just pride that made even the schoolboys lift their caps before their stately Duke and his noble Duchess, and I must confess that something of that feeling has remained with me for life, and the title of Serene Highness, which has since been changed to Royal Highness (Hoheit), has always sounded to my ears not as an empty title or as inferior to Royal Highness or even Majesty, but as the highest that could be bestowed on any sovereign, if he had deserved it by high ideals, and by true serenity of mind in the storms and battles of life.

As to myself, if as a boy I was not quite so much overawed by the inhabitants of the old stately palace at Dessau as my friends and schoolfellows, it was due perhaps to their personal kindness 233to our family, and likewise to a strange event that happened while I was still very young. The reigning Duke had three brothers and only one son, and in the absence of male heirs it was supposed that the duchy would have gone to Prussia. One of his brothers had married a Countess von Reina, and their children therefore could not succeed. The other brother was married to a Hessian princess, and they had no sons. But for that, they would possibly have succeeded to the throne of Denmark, as it was only due to the resignation of the elder in favour of her younger sister that this younger sister, the mother of the Princess of Wales, became Queen of Denmark, and her husband King. Both the ducal family and the whole country were anxious, therefore, that the only remaining brother of the Duke should marry and have children, when suddenly he announced to the world that he had fallen in love with a young lady at Dessau, a cousin of mine, and that no power on earth should prevent him from marrying her. There was a considerable flutter in the dovecotes of the Dessau nobility; there was also a very just feeling of regret among the people, who disliked the idea of a possible amalgamation with Prussia. Everything that could be thought of was done to prevent the marriage, but after waiting for several years the marriage was celebrated, and my cousin, 234as Baronne von Stolzenberg, became the Prince’s (morganatic) wife, and sister-in-law of the reigning Duke. The Prince was a handsome man, and extremely good-natured and kind, there was not an atom of pride in him. They lived very happily together, and after a few years they were received most cordially even by the old Duke and his relations. In this way the doings and sayings of the Duke and the ducal court became less hidden behind the mysterious veil that formerly shrouded Olympus, and one began to see that its inhabitants were not so very different after all from other human beings, but that they acted up to their sense of duty, did a great deal of good work unknown to the world at large, and were certainly in many respects far more cultivated and far more attractive than those who were inclined to sneer at the small German courts, and to agitate for their suppression.

What would Germany have been without her small courts? Without a Duke Charles Augustus of Weimar, there would probably have been no Wieland, no Herder, no Goethe, and no Schiller. It is not only plants that want sunshine, genius also requires light and warmth to bring it out, and the refining influence of a small court was nowhere so necessary as during the period of storm and stress in Germany. It cannot be denied that 235some of these small courts were hotbeds of corruption of every kind. I remember how in my younger days the small Duchy of Anhalt-Cöthen, for instance, suffered extremely from maladministration during the reign of the last Duke, who died without heirs, and had no scruples in impoverishing the country, and suppressing all opposition, however legitimate. He was a sovereign by divine rights, as much as the King of Prussia, and with the assistance of his ministers he could alienate and sell whatever he liked. He actually established a public gambling house on the railway station at Cöthen. In the third Duchy of Anhalt, that of Anhalt-Bernburg, the reigning Duke was for a time almost out of his mind, but no one had the power to restrain or to remove him. The ministers did all they could to prevent any public scandal, but it was not easy to prevent, if not a revolution—that would have been difficult on so small a scale—at least a complaint to the German Diet, and that might have become serious. Many were the stories told of the poor Duke and believed by the people. Like all court stories they went on growing and growing, and they were repeated “on the highest authority.” One day, it was said, the Duke of Bernburg had been reading the history of Napoleon, how he had decorated a sentinel, and made him an officer on the field of 236battle. The Duke, so we are told, carried away by his enthusiasm, rushed out of his room, embraced the sentinel, fastened some medal on his breast and said: “Thou art a captain.” The soldier, not losing his presence of mind, said to the Duke: “I thank your Serene Highness, but would you please give it me in writing?” The Duke did, and nothing remained for his ministers but to grant to the private the title and the pension of a captain, and to let him wear the small medal which the Duke had given him. I confess I could never come face to face with the fortunate captain or find out his whereabouts. Still to doubt the truth of the story would have been considered the extreme of historical scepticism. Another time the Duke’s enthusiasm was fired by reading an account of a wild-boar hunt in the neighbouring duchy of Anhalt-Dessau, which had been attended by a number of princes from all parts of Germany. He summoned his Prime Minister and told him, “I must have wild boars in my forests. Turn out a herd of pigs, they will do quite as well.” This command too had to be obeyed, and the extraordinary part of it was that in a few years these tame pigs had completely reverted to their wild state, probably not without some intermarriages with neighbouring wild boars, and the Duke of Bernburg could invite the Duke of Dessau and 237other princes to hunt wild boars in the Hartz mountains, as well as in the forest of Dessau. Again I cannot vouch for the truth of the story, but I have been assured by competent authorities that such a return from the tame to the savage state is by no means incredible. Very soon after this exploit, however, the ducal race of Bernburg became extinct, and the three duchies now form a happy union under the old name of Duchy of Anhalt.

The year 1848 came at last, and everything was changed. There were émeutes in the streets of Dessau, and when one of my uncles, the General commanding the ducal army, was telling his men that they would have to fire on the people, he received a message from some of them to say that they would willingly fire on anybody outside the town in the open, but not in the streets, because they might smash their own fathers’ windows. This respect for window-glass served, however, another good purpose. When my uncle, in default of a large enough prison, had to confine a number of people in the Duke’s hothouses, they were as quiet as lambs, because here too they were afraid of breaking the glass. In spite of this innate respect for glass and established authority, much mischief was done at Dessau in 1848. Splendid old oaks in the ducal forests were cut down, the 238game was killed by hundreds, and a new constitution was proclaimed. There was a chamber, I believe there was even a desire for a House of Peers, if Peers could be found; there were two responsible ministers, and the Duke had to be satisfied with a Civil List.

The Duke bore all this with wonderful serenity, but the Duchess died, I believe, from anxiety and nervous prostration. In 1848 even Dukes and Duchesses were hustled, and this was more than she could bear. She had done all that was in her power to make herself useful in her exalted position, and she deeply felt the ingratitude of those whom she had helped and befriended in former years, and who had joined the opposition. She told me herself that she had once to walk out on foot from her palace with an umbrella, because every one of her four carriages had been ordered by the Prime Minister, the Second Minister, the wife of the Prime, and some friend of the Second Minister. This Second Minister was a young man who had left the University not many years before, and was practising at Dessau as a lawyer. Of course, there was great joy among his former University friends; many were invited to Dessau, and as there was an abundance of old wine in the castle, the gates of the ducal cellar, so I was informed, were thrown open, and the thirsty young 239students soon reduced the store of wine to what they thought more reasonable dimensions. Some of the Rhenish wines in that cellar were more than a hundred years old, so old that but a few bottles were fit for drinking. A thick crust had formed inside the bottles, and only one or two glasses of wine were left. But what was left was considered so useful as medicine in certain illnesses that any doctor was allowed to prescribe and order bottles of it from the ducal cellars. My uncle, the Commander-in-chief of the small Anhalt army, had been through all the Napoleonic wars, had marched twice into Paris, and was such a Franzosenfresser, that, fond as he was of wine, he would never touch French wine, least of all French champagne. He lived to a very considerable age, he celebrated his silver, his golden, his diamond, and his iron (sixty-five years) wedding, and danced at his diamond wedding with his wife and one of the bridesmaids. He was my godfather, and as he had made the acquaintance of his wife at my christening, he never called me by any other name but “mein Wohlthäter,” my benefactor. As he had been at the battle of Jena (1806) with the Emperor William, then a mere cadet in the Prussian army, and afterwards through many campaigns, the Emperor treated him to the very end of his life as his personal friend. Once every year he had to go to 240Berlin to stay with the Emperor, and talk over old times. He was about five years older than the Emperor, and almost the last time he saw him the Emperor said to him: “Well, Stockmarr, we are both getting old, but as long as you march ahead, I shall follow.” “Yes, your Majesty,” Stockmarr replied, “and as long as you are behind to support me, I hope we shall get on and bring our shares up to par.” “Oh, Stockmarr,” the Emperor replied, “you are not a courtier. If you knew what the courtiers say to me, you would have said, ‘Oh, your Majesty, your Majesty, your shares will rise to at least 15 per cent. premium.’” General Stockmarr told me the story himself, and it gave me a new idea of the old Emperor’s humour, and his insight into the character of his surroundings.

Kind-hearted as the Duke of Dessau was, there were certain things that he could not stand. As his deafness grew upon him his chief amusement was shooting and driving about in his open carriage through the beautiful oak-forests that surround Dessau. There are long avenues through the old oak-forests like bowers formed by the lower branches of the trees, so that one can see the deer a mile off. Here the old Duke was to be seen almost every day. The common people had many endearing names for him, and when they 241saw his carriage from a distance they shouted Hä Kimmet, and the whole village was soon gathered to see their kind old Duke passing. He knew every tree, every stone, every road. In a wood not far from Dessau there was a large boulder, dropped there by a passing iceberg long before the time even of Albrecht the Bear and Count Esiko. One day, as he was passing by, the Duke missed the stone and drove straight to the next village to find out who had dared to move it. The Schulze of the village stood trembling before the Duke, and had to confess that as the road had had to be mended, the village commune had decided to blast the old useless stone and to break it up for that purpose. The Duke declared that it was his stone, that they had no right to touch it, and that they must replace it. That was, of course, an impossibility, without going back as far as the Glacial period. But the peasants had to go on searching all over the neighbourhood till at last they found two similar boulders, not quite so large as the original stone of offence, still, large enough to cause them much trouble and expense in transporting them to their village. This was their punishment, and from it there was no appeal. The two new stones may now be seen in a public park near Dessau, dedicated to the memory, one of Bismarck, the other of Moltke.

242The sound of the Duke’s carriage was well known, not only in the town, but, as the people said, even by the deer in the forest. Other carriages might pass and the deer would not budge, but as soon as the Duke’s carriage was heard approaching they would all scamper away. The fact was that no one was allowed to shoot in the large ducal preserves except the Duke himself. It was a very great favour if he allowed even his brothers or his best friends to accompany him now and then.

Some of his forests were stocked with wild boars. These animals were quite tame while they were being fed in winter, but in summer they would attack the horses of a carriage and become really dangerous. If they could break out by night, which happened not unfrequently, the peasants would find next morning whole fields of corn ploughed up, trampled down, and destroyed. Large damages had to be paid by the Duke, but he never demurred as long as he was unshackled by his two responsible ministers. After 1848, however, not only was the amount to be paid for damages considerably reduced by his ministers, but the Duke was told that this pig-preserving was a very expensive amusement, and that it might make him very unpopular. The Duke knew better. He knew the peasants liked his 243boars, and still more the ample damages which he paid, but he did not like the advice of his ministers. So whenever any mischief had been done by the boars, the peasants ran after his carriage in the forest and told him how much they had lost. In his good-nature he used to say: “I will pay it all, let me know how much it is; only do not tell my ministers.”

After a time things settled down again at Dessau, still the old state of things could never come back. The three duchies of Anhalt-Dessau, Cöthen, and Bernburg with its beautiful Hartz mountains, when united, formed a more considerable principality, and it was thought necessary to have a regular parliament to control its finances, and watch over its legislation. Everything assumed a grander air; the Duke, who since the days of the Old Dessauer had been Serene Highness (Durchlaucht), now became Highness (Hoheit), which is supposed to be a step higher than Serene Highness (Durchlaucht), though I cannot see how language could ever produce a finer title than Serene Highness. The railway, which as the Berlin jokers said, had led to the discovery of Dessau, brought it at all events close to Berlin, Leipzig, Magdeburg, and the great Continental net of railways. People from all parts of Germany came to settle in the quiet, beautiful town 244on the Mulde; the Elbe had been made navigable nearly as far as Dessau, and the port near the Walwitzberg became an important commercial centre for export and import.

Whenever I pay a visit to Dessau I find the town more and more enlarged and much improved. The old lamps that swung across the streets are gone, the gurgoyles frown no longer on large red and green umbrellas; there are gas lamps, and there are waterworks, and cabs, and tramways. The grass is no longer allowed to grow in the chinks of the pavement. The old Duke is gone, and the old people whom I knew as a boy are gone too. The wild boars are still there, but they are no longer allowed to break out of bounds. Old men and women are still seen sawing wood and cutting it up in the street, but I do not know their faces, nor the faces of the old women from whom I bought my apples. I look at every man and woman that passes me, there is not one whose face or name I know. It is only when I go to the old cemetery outside the town that old names greet me again, some very dear to me, others almost forgotten during my Wanderjahre. No doubt the present is better, and the future, let us trust, will be better still; but the past had its own charms; our grandfathers were as wise as their sons and grandsons, and possibly they were happier.



My first and very pleasant contact with Royalty had taken place at Dessau, while I was a schoolboy. When afterwards I went to the University of Berlin, the Duchess of Dessau had given me an introduction to Alexander von Humboldt, and while I was in Paris, working at the then Bibliothèque Royale, Humboldt had used his powerful influence with the King, Frederick William IV., to help me in publishing my edition of the “Rig Veda” in Germany. Nothing, however, came of that plan; it proved too costly for any private publisher, even with Royal assistance. But when, after having published the first volume in England, under the patronage of the East India Company, I passed some weeks at Berlin, in 1850, collating some of the Vedic MSS. in the Royal Library there, I received a message from Humboldt that the King wished to see me.

Frederick William IV. was a man of exceptional 246talent, nay, a man of genius. I had heard much about him from Bunsen, who was a true friend and confidant of the King, ever since they had met at Rome. I had seen some of the King’s letters to Bunsen; some of them, if I remember rightly, signed, not by the King’s name, but by Congruentia Incongruentium, probably from his imagining that the different opinions and counsels of his various friends and advisers would find their solution in him. This idea, if it was entertained by the King, would account for the many conflicting sides of his character, and the frequent changes in his opinions. I presented my volume of the “Rig Veda” to him at a private audience. He knew all about it, and had so much to tell me about the oldest book of mankind, that I had hardly a chance to say anything myself. But it was impossible to listen to him without feeling that one was in the presence of a mind of very considerable grasp and of high and noble ideals.

A few days after this audience I received an invitation to dine with the King at Potsdam, and Humboldt wrote to me that he would take me in his carriage.

But a curious intermezzo happened. While I was quietly sitting in my room with my mother, a young lieutenant of police entered, and began to ask a number of extremely silly questions—why 247I had come to Berlin, when I meant to return to England, what had kept me so long at Berlin, etc. After I had fully explained to him that I was collating Sanskrit MSS. at the Royal Library, he became more peremptory, and informed me that the police authorities thought that a fortnight must be amply sufficient for that purpose (how I wished that it had been so), and that they requested me to leave Berlin in twenty-four hours. I produced my passport, perfectly en règle; I explained that I wanted but another week to finish my work. It was all of no avail, I was told that I must leave in twenty-four hours. I then collected my thoughts, and said very quietly to the young lieutenant, “Please to tell the police authorities that I shall, of course, obey orders, and leave Berlin at once, but that I must request them to inform His Majesty the King that I shall not be able to dine with him to-night at Potsdam.” The poor young man thought I was laughing at him, but when he saw that I was in earnest he looked thunderstruck, bowed, and went away. All this seems now almost incredible even to myself while I am writing it down, but so it was. Nor was the explanation far to seek. One of my friends, with whom I had been almost every day, was Dr. Goldstücker, a young Sanskrit scholar, who had been mixed up with political intrigues, 248and had long been under strict surveillance. I was evidently looked upon as an emissary from England, then considered the focus of all political conspiracies; possibly my name had been found in the Black Book as a dangerous man, who, when he was about eighteen, had belonged to a secret society, and had sung Arndt’s song, “Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland,” before Bismarck sang it in his own way. It was not long, however, before another police official appeared, an elderly gentleman of very pleasant manners, who explained to me how sorry he was that the young lieutenant of police should have made so foolish a mistake. He begged me entirely to forget what had happened, as it would seriously injure the young lieutenant’s prospects if I lodged a complaint against him. I promised to forget, and, at all events, not to refer to what had happened in the Royal presence.

Humboldt and I drove to Potsdam, and I had a most delightful dinner and evening party. The King was extremely gracious, full of animated conversation, and evidently in the best of humours. While the Queen was speaking to me, he walked up to us, bowed to the Queen, and said to her, not to me, “S’il vous plait, monsieur.” With this sally he took her arm and walked into the dining-room. We followed and sat down, and during the whole dinner the King carried on a conversation 249in a voice so loud that no one else ventured to speak. I watched the King, and saw how his face became more and more flushed, while he hardly touched a drop of wine during the whole of dinner.

After dinner we all stood, and the King walked about from one to the other.

Humboldt, who was at that time an old man, about eighty, stood erect for several hours like all the rest. When we drove home it was very late, and I could not help remarking on the great sacrifice he was making of his valuable time in attending these court functions.

“Well,” he said, “the Hohenzollern have been very kind to me, and I know they like to show this old piece of furniture of theirs. So I go whenever they want me.” He went on to say how busy he was with his “Kosmos,” and how he could no longer work so many hours as in former years. “As I get old,” he said, “I want more sleep, four hours at least. When I was young,” he continued, “two hours of sleep were quite enough for me.” I ventured to express my doubts, apologising for differing from him on any physiological fact. “It is quite a mistake,” he said, “though it is very widely spread, that we want seven or eight hours of sleep. When I was your age, I simply lay down on the sofa, turned 250down my lamp, and after two hours’ sleep I was as fresh as ever.”

“Then,” I said, “your Excellency’s life has been double the life of other people, and this accounts for the immense amount of work you have been able to achieve.” Humboldt was never married and, I was told, had never been in love. But I did not tell him what was in my mind, that under such circumstances his life had really been four times that of ordinary mortals.

“Yes,” he said, “I have had a long span of life to work, but I have also been very much helped by my friends and colleagues. I know,” he continued, “I have been abused for not building my own stoves for making chemical experiments; but a general, in order to make great conquests, must have colonels, captains, lieutenants, and even privates under him.” And those who served under him and assisted him had certainly no cause to regret it. He helped them whenever he could, and his influence at that time was very great. To be mentioned in a note in his “Kosmos” was for a scholar what it was for a Greek city to be mentioned in the catalogue of ships in the “Iliad.” I could not resist telling him in strict confidence my little adventure with the police lieutenant, and he was highly amused. I hope he did not tell the King; anyhow, no names were 251mentioned and the poor lieutenant of police, who, of course, had only done what he was told, may, long ago I hope, have become a president of police, or some “grosses Thier.” When I left Humboldt I felt I should not see him again, and the old man was moved as much as I was in saying good-bye. These old heroes had very large and tender hearts. After all, I was only one out of hundreds of young men in whom he took an interest, and I happen to know that his interest was not only in words, but in deeds also. He was by no means what we should call a rich man, but I know that he sent young Brugsch, afterwards the great Egyptian scholar, Brugsch Pasha, a handsome sum of money to enable him to finish his studies at the University of Berlin, though no one at the time heard anything about it.

I did not see Humboldt again, nor Frederick William IV. Long before this time it had become clear that King William IV. was not what he imagined himself to be—the congruence of all the incongruent elements then fermenting in Prussia and Germany at large. There can be little doubt that towards the end of his life his mind, or rather his judgment, had given way. His mind, I believe, remained lively to the very end; but, in a State like Prussia, the Government without a 252clear-sighted King is like a runaway engine without its driver. It may keep to the rails for a time, but there is sure to be a smash at the end. The King had parted with one friend after another. His own brother, the Prince of Prussia, afterwards the first German Emperor, fell into disgrace, and had in the end to leave the country and take refuge in England. The name by which he was known in the family was not flattering. He was a soldier, clear-headed and straightforward. His whole heart was in the army, and when he afterwards came to the throne, he wisely left everything else to his responsible ministers, after he had once learnt to trust them. The army was the pride of his life, and to see that army ordered out of Berlin, and not allowed to restore order in the streets of the capital, had nearly broken his heart. He was intensely unpopular in 1848. His own palace was taken possession of, and, in order to preserve it from pillage, a large inscription was put on the walls, “National Property.” I was not in Germany that year, but I heard much from my friends there—v. Schlœzer, Ernst Curtius, and others—all personal friends of the Prince and Princess of Prussia. The Prince was not even allowed to command his own, the Prussian army, in the Schleswig-Holstein war, then just beginning; and the following letter, written in London, and 253addressed to one of his comrades, shows how deeply he felt it:—

Mit welchen Gefühlen habe ich gestern Euren Sieg bei Schleswig vernommen!!! Gott sei Dank dass unser alter Waffenruhm auch gegen einen ehrlichen Feind sich bewährt hat! Sage doch Deinen Untergebenen, wie glücklich ich wäre über diese Siegesnachricht: wie der Geist, der Euch zum Siege führte, der alte preussische war, der vor nichts zurückschreckt. Wie beneide ich Dir das Glück, diese Lorbeeren geerntet zu haben. Du weisst, wie nahe es daran war, dass ich sie mit Dir hätte theilen können. Wie wären dabei alle meine Wünsche in Erfüllung gegangen: Truppen meiner beiden lieben Corps geführt zu haben, im Ernst - Kampfe!—Es sollte nicht sein!—Aber ich kann es nicht verschmerzen, da die Möglichkeit vorhanden war! Nun, Gott wird es doch wohl noch einst so fügen, dem wir ja Alles anheim stellen müssen. Wer kann und muss es wohl mit mehr Resignation als ich! Er prüft mich schwer, aber mit einem reinen Gewissen erwarte ich den Tag der Wahrheit, damit ich dem neuen Preussen meine Kräfte widmen kann, wie dem alten, wenngleich das Herz trauern muss, über den Fall des alten Preussen, des Selbständigen. Lebe wohl! Gott schütze Dich ferner und erhalte Dich den Deinen, die sehr besorgt sein müssen. Ich kenne die Verluste noch nicht, mir bangt etwas vor ihnen.

Ewig Dein treuer Freund,
London, d. 29. 4. 48.

I was at that time in London, and often with Bunsen at the Prussian Legation in Carlton 254House Terrace. There was a constant succession of couriers bringing letters from Berlin. On one occasion a sub-editor from The Times office rushed in and said: “Well, another one is gone, the King of Bavaria!” He did not see that the Bavarian minister, Baron Cetto, was in the room, and thus received this very informal notification of his sovereign’s fate. It was known that the King had remained at his palace, but that the Prince of Prussia had left Berlin. For several days no one knew where he was. I was quietly sitting on the sofa with Bunsen (27th March, 1848, 8 A.M.) discussing some question of Vedic mythology, when a servant came in and whispered something in Bunsen’s ear. Bunsen rose, took me by the arm and said: “Make haste, run away.” I did so, and as I ran out of the door I rushed against the Prince of Prussia. I hardly knew him at first, for he was not in uniform, and had no moustache. In fact, I saw him as few people have ever seen him. He stayed in London for many weeks at the Prussian Legation, where I met him several times, and, honest and hardworking as he was all through life, he did not waste the time in Bunsen’s house, nor did Bunsen lose the opportunity of showing the Prince how well a free and popular form of government could be carried on with due respect for order and law, and with love and 255devotion to the throne. This London episode of the Prince’s life has borne ample fruit in the hey-dey of the German Empire, and he by whom the seed was sown has but seldom been remembered, or thanked for the good work he did then for his sovereign and for his country.

There was no sovereign more constitutional than the King of Prussia at the beginning of his reign. He surrounded himself with enlightened and liberal-minded ministers, and never interfered with their work. Having been brought up to look upon his brother as a great genius, he was very humble about his own qualifications, and he even thought for a time of abdicating in favour of his son. This, however, would not have suited Bismarck’s hand. When the Prince of Prussia came to the throne, he stipulated one thing only with his ministers: they must give him a free hand to strengthen the army; for all the rest he would follow their advice. And so he did for several years. But when they failed to keep their promise, and to get Parliament to pass the necessary military budget, he parted with them and invited Bismarck to form a new ministry in 1862. This was the beginning of the political drama which ended at Sedan, if indeed it ended then.

I had heard much from my friends Roggenbach, Schlœzer, and E. Curtius about the Princess of 256Prussia (afterwards the Queen of Prussia, and the first German Empress), and my expectations were not deceived when I was presented to her during her stay in England in the spring of 1851. She was grand’ dame, highly gifted, highly cultivated. She wanted to see everything and know everybody worth knowing in England. It was she who went to Eton to see a cricket match played. She had heard much about it, and was most anxious to watch it. After the game had been going on for a good quarter of an hour, she turned impatiently to the Provost, and asked: “When are the boys going to begin?” She had evidently expected some kind of fight or skirmish, and was rather disappointed at the quiet and business-like way in which the boys, who were on their best behaviour, threw the ball and hit it back. However, at that time everything English, even the games, was perfect in the eyes of the Germans, and nothing more perfect than the Princess Royal, when she had been won by the young Prince of Prussia in 1857. The Princess of Prussia never forgot people whom she had once taken an interest in, and I had several interesting interviews with her later on—at Coblentz in 1863, at Baden in 1872. I confess I was somewhat taken aback when, after dinner, the Empress took me by the hand, and stepped forward, addressing the whole company present, and giving the ladies and 257gentlemen a full account of what this Oxford professor had done for Germany during the Franco-German war by defending their cause in The Times. All I could reply was that I had done little enough, and that I could not help saying what I had said in The Times, and that I was proud of having been well abused for having spoken the truth.

Whatever disappointments she may have had in life, she lived long enough to see the fulfilment of her patriotic dreams; she wore the Imperial crown of Germany, and she saw in the Crown Prince Frederick the fulfilment of all that a mother can dream of for her son. One wishes that she had died a year sooner, so as to be spared the terrible tragedy of her son’s illness and death in 1888.

That son, our Princeps juventutis, had been educated by my friend Ernst Curtius, and was on most friendly terms with many of my German friends. I made his acquaintance when he came to Oxford as a very young man in 1857. He brought George Bunsen and two friends with him, and I took rooms for them at the Angel Hotel, which stood where the Examination School, the so-called Chamber of Horrors, now stands. For several days I took the Prince to all the Colleges and to some of the lectures, even to one of the public examinations. No one knew him, and we preserved the strictest incognito. He quickly perceived the advantages of 258the English university system, particularly of the college life and the tutorial teaching. But he saw that it would be hopeless to attempt to introduce that system into Germany. Though at that time everything English was admired in Germany, he was clear-sighted enough to see that it is better to learn than simply to copy. The weak point in the German university system is that, unless an undergraduate is personally known to a professor, he receives very little guidance. He generally arrives from school, where he has been under very strict guidance, without any choice as to what he really wishes to learn. He then suddenly finds himself independent, and free to choose from an immense menu (Index lectionum) whatever tempts his appetite. Most German students, when they leave school, have not only a natural curiosity, but a real thirst for learning. They have also a feeling of great reverence for the professors, particularly for the most famous professors in each university. They often select their university in order to hear the lectures of a certain professor, and if he is moved to another university they migrate with him. In the strictly professional faculties of medicine, law, and theology, there is no doubt a certain routine, and students know by a kind of tradition what lectures they should attend in each semester. But in the philosophical faculty there is little, if any, tradition, 259and looking at my book of lectures, attested by the various professors at Leipzig, I am perfectly amazed at the variety of incongruous subjects on which I attended professorial classes. Unless they were all properly entered and attested in my book I could not believe that at that time (1840–41), when I was only seventeen years of age, I had really attended lectures on so many heterogeneous subjects. In this respect, in preventing waste, the college or tutorial system has, no doubt, many advantages, but the young Prince saw very clearly that what is called in Germany academic freedom cannot be touched, that the universities could not be changed into schools, if for no other reason, because it would be impossible to find the necessary funds to inaugurate the college system by the side of the professorial system. All that could possibly be done would be to establish a closer relation between professors and undergraduates, to increase, in fact, the number of seminaries and societies, and to make it obligatory on each professor to have some personal intercourse with the students who attend his lectures.

The Prince’s incognito was carefully preserved at Oxford, though it was not always easy to persuade his attendants not to bow and take off their hats whenever they met the Prince. The very last day, however, and just before I asked for the bill at the 260hotel, one of his A.D.C.’s forgot himself, bowed very low before the door of the hotel, and stood bareheaded before the Prince. The hotel-keeper smiled and came to me with a very knowing look, telling me of the discovery he had made. He was very proud of his perspicacity; but I am sorry to say that the discovery had its painful influence on the bill also, which, under the circumstances, could not be helped.

What struck the Prince most at Oxford was the historical continuity of the University. I reminded him of the remark which Frederick William IV. made when at Oxford:—

“Gentlemen,” he said, “in your University everything that is young is old, everything that is old is young.” “We cannot do everything,” the Prince used to say, “but we shall do our best in Germany.” Though the Prince was still very young, he could at times be very serious. There had actually been rumours, as I have said before, that his father, always one of the most humble-minded men, would abdicate in favour of his son, who was very popular, while the father at one time was not, and the thought that he might soon be called upon to rule the destinies of Prussia and of Germany was evidently not unfamiliar to him. How different was his destiny to be! What terrible events had happened before I saw much of the Prince 261again; for though I saw him in his own happy home life at the Neue Palais at Potsdam in 1863, it was not until after the Prusso-Austrian and Franco-German wars that I had again some real personal intercourse with the Prince at Ems in the year 1871. He had sent me a very kind letter immediately after his return to Berlin from Paris. Even Bismarck had sent me a message through his private secretary that he was proud of his new ally. I had defended the policy of the German Emperor in The Times, simply because I could not keep silent when the policy of Germany was misrepresented to the people of England.

Here is the Prince’s letter, which I received in May, 1871:—

Berlin, Mai 1871.

Ich habe mit aufrichtigem Danke und ganz besonderem Interesse Ihre “Letters on the War” entgegengenommen, welche Sie die Freundlichkeit hatten, mir zu übersenden.

Mit der einmüthigen Hingebung unseres Volkes während der grossen Zeit die wir durchkämpft, steht im schönsten Einklang die patriotische Haltung welche unsere deutschen Brüder, oft unter den schwierigsten Verhältnissen und mit Opfer aller Art bewährt und durch die sie sich für immer einen Anspruch auf die Dankbarkeit des Vaterlandes erworben haben.

Dass die Erfahrungen, welche die Deutschen in England während unseres ruhmvollen Krieges gemacht, nicht immer erfreulich waren, ist mir freilich bekannt, Gründe der verschiedensten Art kamen zusammen um eine Verstimmung 262zu erzeugen, die hüben und drüben von allen einsichtigen und patriotischen Männern gleich schmerzlich empfunden ist.

Meine feste und zuversichtliche Hoffnung bleibt es aber dass dieselbe bald jenem herzlichen Einvernehmen wieder Platz machen wird, welches die Natur unserer gegenseitigen Beziehungen und Interessen verlangt. Dieses Ziel wollen wir verfolgen, unbeirrt durch Aufregungen und Eindrücke des Augenblicks, überzeugt, dass es für das Gedeihen beider Länder ebenso heilsam wie für den Frieden Europa’s unerlässlich ist.

Sie haben Ihrerseits niemals aufgehört in diesem Geiste thätig zu sein und es ist mir deshalb Bedürfniss, Ihnen meine dankbare Anerkennung für Ihr erfolgreiches Wirken hierdurch auszusprechen.

Ihr wohlgeneigter
Friedrich Wilhelm.

At Ems the Prince was the popular hero of the day, and wherever he showed himself he was enthusiastically greeted by the people. He sent me word that he wished to see me. When I arrived the antechambers were crowded with Highnesses, Excellencies, Generals, all covered with stars and ribands. I gave my card to an A. D. C. as simple Max Müller, and was told that I must wait, but I soon saw there was not the slightest chance of my having an audience that morning. I had no uniform, no order, no title. From time to time an officer called the name of Prince So-and-So, Count So-and-So, and people became very impatient. 263Suddenly the Prince himself opened the door, and called out in a loud voice, “Maximiliane, Maximiliane, kommen Sie herein!

There was consternation in the crowd as I walked through, but I had a most pleasant half-hour with the Prince. Once when I began to bubble over and tried to express, as well as I could, my admiration for his splendid achievements in the war, he turned away rather angrily, and said, “Na, sind Sie denn auch unter die Schmeichler gegangen!” I wrote a sonnet at the time, which I find among my old papers:—

IN EMS AM 19. JULI 1871.
Wie jungen Most von altem Holz umschlungen
Fühlt ich mein Blut, das sich im Herzen rührte,
Als es den Druck der Heldenhand verspürte,
Die Deutschlands Schwert so ritterlich geschwungen.
Oft hört ich’s schon gesagt und auch gesungen,
Wie Dich dein Stern von Sieg zu Siege führte,
Doch fühlt ich nie, wie sich’s für Dich gebührte,
Das Herz so ganz von Lieb und Stolz durchdrungen.
Einst sah ich in der Jugend schönen Hüllung
In Dir die Zukunft Deutschlands sich entfalten,
Die neue Zeit erstehen aus der alten:—
Heut stand vor mir die herrlichste Erfüllung—
Ein deutscher Fürst, das Aug’ vol Treu und Adel,
Ein ganzer Mann, Held ohne Furcht und Tadel.

264This was followed by another sonnet at the time of his death:—

Wir warteten im Stillen lange Jahre,
Und nimmer wankte unsres Herzens Glaube;
Wir sah’n im dunklen Grün die reiche Traube,
Und wussten, welchen Saft sie uns bewahre.
Und jetzt! O klaget nicht an seiner Bahre,
Wenn auch der Leib zerfällt zum Erdenstaube,
Nie werde das dem blinden Tod zum Raube,
Was er gewollt das Hohe, Schöne, Wahre!
Dem edlen Geiste woll’n wir Treue halten,
In stillem Dulden wie in kühnem Wagen;
Wir ehren ihn durch Thaten, nicht durch Klagen,
Und lassen unsre Liebe nie erkalten:
Was wir verloren, kann kein Blick ermessen,
Was wir gehabt, das bleibe unvergessen.

The old Emperor was at Ems at the same time, and so was the Emperor Alexander of Russia. It was a surprise to me to see these two Emperors walking together in the crowd, and fetching their glass of water at the spring, apparently without any protection. The people did not much crowd round them, but neither were they kept back by the police officers. I asked one of the higher officials how they managed to keep out any dangerous Poles 265or Frenchmen, who might have shot the two Emperors with a double-barrelled pistol at any moment. The place was swarming with people of every nationality; but he said that there was no one at Ems who was not known. I confess it was a riddle to me. The good old Emperor, who had heard of my presence, asked me to dine, and he also thanked me for my advocacy of Germany in The Times. What a change since I ran against him in Bunsen’s room! Abeken, who during the war had been Bismarck’s right hand, was there, and I learnt from him that the famous Ems telegram had been written by him, though, of course, inspired and approved of by Bismarck. This is now well known, and has become ancient history. Great as was the enthusiasm at Ems, it was heart-breaking to see the invalided soldiers, looking young and vigorous, but without arms or legs, their only wish being to catch a glimpse of the Emperor or the Crown Prince. Some of them had been blinded in the war; others walked about on crutches, some with both arms cut off, and using iron forks instead of hands and fingers. All was done that could be done for them, and the Emperor and the Crown Prince shook hands with as many of them, officers or privates, as they could. The Crown Prince had sent me word that he wished to see me once more; but his surroundings evidently thought that I had been favoured quite enough, and 266our meeting again was cleverly prevented. No doubt princes must be protected against intruders, but should they be thwarted in their own wishes? I had another happy glimpse, however, of the Crown Prince in his family circle, in 1876.

In the year 1879 the Crown Prince came once more to Oxford, this time with his young son, the present German Emperor, and accompanied by the Prince of Wales. He had not forgotten his former visit, when he was not much older than his son was then, and he reminded me of what had happened to us in the Examination Schools on his former visit. The Prince had preserved the strictest incognito, but when we entered the schools his appearance, and that of several foreign-looking gentlemen, had attracted some attention. However, we sat down and listened to the examination. It was in Divinity, and one of the young men had to translate a chapter in the Gospel of St. John. He translated very badly, and the Prince, not accustomed to the English pronunciation of Greek, could not follow. Suddenly there was a burst of laughter. The Prince did not perceive that it was due to a really atrocious mistranslation. He turned to me and said: “Let us go; they are laughing at us.” When we were outside I explained to him what had happened; but it was really so bad that I must not repeat it 267here. The passage was St. John, iv., 9: Λέγει οὔν αὐτῷ ἡ γυνὴ ἡ Σαμαρειτῖς.

The young Prince, the present Emperor, who was with his father, was very much pleased with what he saw of Oxford, of the river, and of the life of the young men. He would have liked to spend a term or two at Oxford, but there were objections. Fears of English influence had begun to show themselves at Berlin. Several young ladies tried their powers of persuasion on the young Prince, who told me at the time, in true academic German, “In all my life I have not been canvassed so much” (In meinem Leben bin ich noch nicht so gekeilt worden).

It is well known how warm an interest the young Prince, now the German Emperor, has always taken in the success of Oxford, and for how many years he has always sent his congratulations by telegram to the successful, and now almost charmed, Oxford crew.

When the Crown Prince with his son and the Prince of Wales honoured my College (All Souls’) with their presence at luncheon, I remember presenting to them three tumblers of the old ale that is brewed in the College, and is supposed to be the best in the University, very drinkable (süffig), but very strong. One year when several men from Cambridge were passing their long vacation at 268Oxford (one of them was Lightfoot, afterwards Bishop of Durham, another Augustus Vansittart), they were made free of all the common-rooms at Oxford, and constituted examiners of the beers brewed in the different Colleges. All Souls’ came out at the head of the tripos, but there was to be a new examination in the year following, and competitors were invited to send their essays to F. M. M., Professor of Comparative Palaeontology, at All Souls’. I took a tumbler of the old ale myself and drank to the health of “The three Emperors.” The Crown Prince did not see what I meant, and asked again and again, “But how so (Wie so)?” “The future German Emperor,” I said, “the future Emperor of India (the Prince of Wales), and, in the very distant future, the third Emperor of Germany.” The Crown Prince smiled, but an expression of seriousness or displeasure passed over his face, showing me that I touched a sensitive nerve. The Crown Prince was a curious mixture. In his intercourse with his friends he liked to forget that he was a Prince, he spoke most freely and unguardedly, and enjoyed a good laugh about a good joke. He allowed his friends to do the same, but suddenly, if any of his friends made a remark that did not quite please him, he drew back, and it took him some time to recover himself. He was a noble and loyal nature. He knew Bismarck, he 269knew his strong, and he knew his very weak, and more than weak, points; but such was his gratitude for what the old statesman had done for Prussia and Germany that he never said an unkind word against him. I believe he would never have parted with him, though he was quite aware of the danger of a major domus in the kingdom of Frederick the Great. History will have much to say about those years, and will teach us once more the old lesson—how small the great ones of the earth can be.

Once more I met the Prince at Venice, when he was enjoying himself with the Crown Princess and some of his daughters. He was then incognito, and he had the best cicerone in his learned and charming wife. They worked hard together from morning till evening. At last the people of Venice found out who he was, and crowded round him to that extent that he had to take refuge in the royal palace. What struck me at the time was a sadness and far greater reticence in the Prince. Still, at times, the old joyous smile broke out, as if he had forgotten how serious life had become to him.

Again some years passed. The accounts of the old Emperor’s health showed that his end was drawing near, but at the same time began the disquieting rumors about the Crown Prince’s health. The Prince sent for me shortly after his arrival 270in London, where he had come for the Queen’s Jubilee, 1887. He looked as grand as ever, and in his eyes there was the same light and life and love, but his voice had become almost a whisper. Nevertheless, he spoke hopefully, almost confidently, and went through all the festivities like a hero. Who will ever forget him on horseback in the white uniform of the Prussian Cuirassiers, in the midst of the sons and sons-in-law of the Queen? I saw him once more at Windsor, the day before he left for Germany. In the evening, after dinner, he walked up to me and spoke to me for a long time. His voice had regained its timbre, and I felt convinced like himself that the downward course of his malady was over, and that the uphill work was now to begin.

After he had spoken to me for nearly half an hour, one of his aides-de-camp came up to him, and said: “Not another word, your Royal Highness.” He shook my hand: I looked up to him full of hope; it was for the last time. He himself, I believe, retained his hopefulness to the very end. The Greeks said: “Those whom the gods love die young.” When the Prince Consort died, and when the Emperor Frederick died, one felt inclined to say: “Those whom all men love die young.” Five reigns have thus passed before my eyes, those of Frederick William III., 17971840; 271Frederick William IV., 1840–1861; Wilhelm I., 1861–1888; Frederick III., 1888; Wilhelm II., 1888; and if there is one lesson which their history teaches us, and which everybody should take to heart, it is that the wonderful work which they have achieved is due to the hard work, the determined purpose, and the persevering industry of these sovereigns. I did not know much of the personal work of Frederick William III., but, beginning with Frederick William IV. to the present Emperor, I have had occasional glimpses of their private life, enough to show that none of these men looked upon his place in life as a sinecure. In no case was their throne an easy chair. Their bed was in very truth a bed of iron, not a bed of roses. These sovereigns have been at work day and night; they have shared not only in the triumphs, but in the privations and sufferings of their army. I shall never forget, when I was at Ems in 1871, passing the house where the old Emperor resided; and there in the first storey, behind a green curtain, one could clearly see him standing at his desk, with a lamp by his side, reading and signing despatches, while everybody else enjoyed the cool air of the evening, nay, long after most people had gone to bed. The Emperor Frederick, before he was Emperor, was unhappy about one thing only, that he had not work enough 272to do, and if there is a sovereign indefatigable in the service of his country it is surely the present King of Prussia, the German Emperor. I must say no more, for I have made it a rule in these Recollections not to say anything about living persons, least of all royalties. Besides, through all my life I have tried to follow the rule that Ruskin lays down for himself: “In every person who comes near you look for what is good and strong; honour that; rejoice in it, and, as you can, try to imitate it.”

Though I did not see much of Prince Albert—I am thinking of the time when he was still called Prince Albert, and not yet the Prince Consort—I heard much about him, partly from Bunsen, who admired him greatly, partly through one of his private secretaries, my old friend Dr. Karl Meyer.[16] By this time the world knows not only 273the nobility of the Prince’s character, but the strength of his intellect, his unceasing industry, and his loyal devotion to his queen and country. But there was a time when those who knew him felt indignant, nay, furious, at the treatment which he received in England. It would be well if that page could be torn out of the history of England, and as she who suffered most has long forgiven, if not forgotten, who has a right to renovare dolores? Apart from all personal considerations, it seemed a most extraordinary hallucination to imagine that he who was the consort of the Queen should exercise no influence on his wife. Human nature after all is superior even to the English constitution. One can imagine a political philosopher indulging in so Utopian a theory as a marriage without influence, but that practical men, men of the world, men of common sense, should have imagined such a possibility—that English statesmen should have imagined that a wife, because she was a Queen, would never be influenced by her husband, will hardly sound credible to future historians. I remember only one analogous case. When Lord John Russell was proposed as Secretary for Foreign Affairs, several members of the Cabinet objected, fearing Lady Russell’s influence, and pointing out the danger of Cabinet secrets oozing out through her indiscretion. Lord Palmerston listened 274for a long time, and then turned to his colleagues and said: “Well, I see one remedy only—one of us must always sleep with them.” When he saw blank consternation on the faces of his colleagues, “Well, well,” he said, “we shall take it by turns.” At a time when it was fully believed that Prince Albert had been taken to the Tower for high treason, no wonder that even a young German student who spent his days in the Bodleian Library should have been attacked as a spy. It was a passing madness, and the wonder is that it passed without more serious consequences.

Prince Albert took a most lively interest in a scheme which I had strongly advocated in The Times and elsewhere, namely, that there should be a school of Oriental languages in England, as in every other country that has political and commercial relations with the East. I pointed out that for years France had maintained its École des Langues Orientales vivantes; that Austria had its Oriental School for the diplomatic service and for the education of official interpreters; that, long before the Afghan disaster, there was a professor teaching the Afghan language in the University of St. Petersburg (and, I may add now, that Prussia has a flourishing Oriental seminary in which even African languages are taught by professors and native teachers); but no one would listen to me 275except Prince Albert. The different offices, Foreign Office, Horse Guards, Colonial Office, etc., declared that interpreters could always be had, and that the best way to secure their fidelity was to pay them well. That others might pay them better seemed never to have entered their minds. Prince Albert saw clearly the disadvantage under which England was labouring, nay, the danger that threatened her trade and her general influence in the East. He spoke to Lord Granville, and Lord Granville wrote to me to make further proposals. This I did; but beyond that I decided I would not go, for such was the feeling at that time, that the name of Prince Albert and my own, as that of a German scholar, would have been sufficient to wreck the whole scheme. I remember writing at the time to Prince Albert that we must wait till “Her Majesty, Public Opinion, became more favourable.” In the meantime, to speak of commercial interests only, how much has England lost by her unwillingness to incur an expense which other countries have readily incurred, which the people of England have a right to demand, and which would not have amounted to anything like the cost of a single man-of-war! The Prince of Wales took the same warm interest in the foundation of an Oriental school in London, as may be seen from the speech he delivered at the Royal 276Institution in 1890, when the scheme of a school of Oriental languages was taken up by the Imperial Institute, but even his persuasive eloquence has hitherto proved ineffectual to realise a wish that was so near his father’s heart, and of such enormous importance to English interests in the East.

As I think it right to abstain from recording my recollections of royal persons still alive, I must say nothing of the stay of the young Prince of Wales at Oxford; but, among the many things which I treasure in my memory, I may at least produce one small treasure, a sixpence, which I won from His Royal Highness at whist. I have always been a very bad whist player, but good luck would have it that I won a sixpence at Frewen Hall, the Prince’s residence at Oxford. The Prince maintained that I had calculated my points wrongly, but not being a courtier, I held my own, and actually appealed to General Bruce. When he decided in my favour, the Prince graciously handed me my sixpence, which I have kept ever since among my treasures. I may speak more fully of Prince Leopold, the late Duke of Albany, a deeply interesting character of whom much was expected, and in whom much has been lost. He was often a great sufferer while at Oxford, but when he was well, no one was so well as he was, no one looked 277more brilliant or more vigorous. His little dinner parties were charming. His tutor, Mr. (now Sir) R. Collins, knew how to collect his guests, and the Prince was the most excellent host. Whenever I had some distinguished man staying with me, a note was sure to come from the Prince, asking whether he might invite Emerson or Froude, or whoever it might be, and I well remember his adding: “You may tell Mr. Froude that I have read the whole of his ‘History.’” And so he had. Being often confined to his bed he had read a great deal, and was read to by his devoted tutor, Sir R. Collins. How many fond hopes centred in that life, and how anxious many of the best men that Oxford has produced were to inspire him with a love each of his own subject. Sanskrit, I soon perceived, had no chance. But for a time astronomy was in the ascendant, then history, then art. But there was always the danger to be guarded against of the young student becoming too much absorbed in any one subject, and losing that general sympathy with learning and art which is so desirable in a Prince. The Prince had a quick eye for small weaknesses, but his kindness was likewise extreme. I so well remember sitting by him at dinner, and enjoying the most exquisite real Johannisberger from the royal cellar. Prince Metternich used to send every year some of the 278best of his crue to the royalties represented at the Congress of Vienna, having received Johannisberg from that Congress. Prince Leopold knew how to appreciate the wines sent him from the royal cellar. “They like port better at Oxford,” he said to me, “but we shall keep to the Rheinwein.” It was really a quite exceptional wine, the aroma of it being perceptible even at the dinner-table. I quoted some of my father’s drinking songs, “Das Essen, nicht das Trinken, bracht’ uns um’s Paradies,” etc. Many delightful evenings were thus spent in the Prince’s drawing-room. I often played à quatre mains with him, fearing only to touch and hurt his fingers, which was always most painful to him. But to return to the Johannisberger. Long after the Prince had settled at Boyton, I was staying with him, and at dinner he said: “Now we must drink the health of the Princess of Wales; it is her birthday. I have one bottle left of the Oxford Rheinwein. I kept it for you. It has travelled about with me from place to place; but there will be no more of it, it is the last bottle.”

Once more the Prince was most kind to me under most trying circumstances. I was to dine at Windsor, and when I arrived my portmanteau was lost. I telegraphed and telegraphed, and at last the portmanteau was found at Oxford station, but 279there was no train to arrive at Windsor before 8.30. Prince Leopold, who was staying at Windsor, and to whom I went in my distress, took the matter in a most serious spirit. I thought I might send an excuse to say that I had had an accident and could not appear at table; but he said: “No, that is impossible. If the Queen asks you to dinner, you must be there.” He then sent all round the Castle to fit me out. Everybody seemed to have contributed some article of clothing—coat, waistcoat, tie, shorts, shoes and buckles. I looked a perfect guy, and I declared that I could not possibly appear before the Queen in that attire. I was actually penning a note when the 8.30 train arrived, and with it my luggage, which I tore open, dressed in a few minutes, and appeared at dinner as if nothing had happened.

Fortunately the Queen, who had been paying a visit, came in very late. Whether she had heard of my misfortunes I do not know. But I was very much impressed when I saw how, with all the devotion that the Prince felt for his mother, there was this feeling of respect, nay, almost of awe, that made it seem impossible for him to tell his own mother that I was prevented by an accident from obeying her command and appearing at dinner.

Oxford is an excellent place for seeing illustrious visitors from all parts of the world. It is the cynosure of all Americans, and it is strange to see how 280many travellers know all about the beauties of Oxford, and seem often to be quite unaware of the similar, nay, in some respects greater, beauties of Cambridge. There is only one drawback. Most travellers come to Oxford during the Long Vacation, and during the Long Vacation most professors naturally go away. In that way I have missed seeing some people whose acquaintance I should have highly valued. I thus lost the pleasure of showing the late Emperor of Brazil the historical sights of Oxford, being absent when he passed through. He saw everything in a marvellously short time, but then he was up sight-seeing at five in the morning. However, I made his acquaintance afterwards in Switzerland. We were staying at an out-of-the-way place at Gimmelwald, and one day about five in the morning there was a loud knock at my bedroom door. The whole wooden cottage trembled. When I got up to see what was the matter, I saw my friend Mr. Ralston, standing breathless on the staircase and saying, “The Emperor of Brazil wants to see you. He is staying at Interlaken, and has persuaded the Empress to stay another day to see you. But you must get up at once and take a carriage and drive to Interlaken.” I did so, and was with the Emperor and Empress soon after breakfast. The Empress and the gentlemen-in-waiting were not in the best of humours on account of this unexpected 281delay in their journey. We had a long and undisturbed talk in a private room. I was sorry the Emperor would speak French, though, having been at school in Switzerland, he spoke German quite as well. He was full of questions about Sanskrit literature and the Vedic religion. I was amazed at his knowledge, for he had actually begun to study Sanskrit, and was fully aware of all the difficulties that had to be met before we could hope to gain an insight into the heart of the ancient religion of the Vedic Rishis. He had a young German with him who acted as his tutor in Sanskrit, and likewise in Hebrew. It was very pleasant to be examined by a man who really knew what questions to ask, and who was bent on finding out by himself what the “Rig Veda,” the most ancient of all the books in the world, really contained. Like many others he seemed to expect too much, and I had to tell him he must not be disappointed, and that, though the Veda was certainly the oldest book in the proper sense of that word, which had been preserved to us in an almost miraculous manner, still it bore already traces of a long growth, nay, even of a long decay of religious thought. If the Vedic poets were different from what we expected them to be, it was our fault, not theirs. They showed us what the world was like in the second millennium B.C., and if we thought that there was 282in that millennium much that sounds childish and absurd to us, it was well that we should know that fact, and talk no longer of the mysterious or esoteric wisdom of the East. Like most students, the Emperor wished to know the exact date of the Veda, and I did not find it easy to explain to him that where we have no contemporaneous history we cannot expect an exact chronology. If some scholars placed the Veda 5000 or 10,000 B.C., we should find it difficult to refute them, but we should gain nothing, it would be like one of the distant dates in Egyptian and Babylonian chronology, a mere point in vacuo. He was surprised when I confessed to him that even the low date of about 1200 B.C., which I had fixed upon, seemed to me too high rather than too low, and that I should feel it a relief if anybody could establish a lower date for at least some of the Vedic hymns. I think the Emperor saw that in spite of this inevitable uncertainty, the “Rig Veda” would always maintain its unique position in the history of religion, nay, of literature, being without an equal anywhere, and allowing us an insight into the growth of thought, such as we find in no other literature. Whatever the antecedents of the Vedic religion may have been, however rudely its original features may have been effaced even before the beginning of the Brâhmana period, we can still see here and there in the Veda some germ ideas, some 283thoughts requiring no antecedents, and in that sense primitive, more primitive even than the thoughts of Egypt, Babylon, and Nineveh, whatever their merely chronological antiquity may have been. I do not know how it happened—that from discussing the ancient names of metals and the relative value of gold and silver, as fixed, we do not know how, in Egypt, Babylon, and afterwards in Greece, in Italy, and the rest of the civilised world at about 1 to 15—our conversation drifted away into financial questions. Here I must have been betrayed into uttering some financial heresy, possibly savouring of bimetallism, for I well remember the Emperor becoming rather impatient and saying: “I know all about that, and have studied the question for many years. Let us return to the Veda.”

After a very pleasant luncheon we parted, and soon after the Emperor lost his crown, as some would have it, because he had given too much thought and time to his studies instead of keeping in touch with the leaders of the different parties around his throne. However that may be, Brazil has not been long before regretting her learned Emperor. I heard afterwards that to the very end of his reign, and even when in exile, the Emperor kept his tutor and carried on his studies in Sanskrit and Hebrew. When at Stockholm in 1889, attending the International Oriental Congress, under 284the auspices of the King of Sweden, I received a letter from the Emperor of Brazil giving an account of his Sanskrit studies. I showed the letter to the King of Sweden, Oscar II., himself a man extremely well informed on Eastern literature, and full of the warmest sympathy for Oriental scholars and scholarship. He read the letter and sighed. “I have no leisure for Sanskrit,” he said. “The happy Emperor of Brazil has but one people to govern, I have two.”

I might go on for a long time with my royal recollections, but it is, of course, impossible to do so when living persons are concerned. Most of the royal persons with whom I was brought into contact were eminent among their peers, but were I to say what I think of them, I should at once be called ugly names—courtier, flatterer, etc. Such things cannot be helped, and the only excuse I could, perhaps, plead as a circonstance atténuante would be the reverence I imbibed with my mother’s milk for my own Duke and my own Duchess of Anhalt-Dessau.

There is only one more sovereign about whom I may say a few words, the late Queen of Holland, highly gifted as she was, and most charming in society. She frequently came to England; according to the newspapers, as a friend and advocate of the Emperor Napoleon. She was far too wise, however, 285to attempt to play such a part at the English court. But that she was much admired and won the hearts of many people in London is certainly true. She came to lunch with Stanley at the Deanery. She had asked him to invite a number of literary men—Tennyson, Monckton Milnes (Lord Houghton), Huxley, and several more. We were waiting and waiting, but Tennyson did not appear. Stanley suggested that we should not wait any longer, but the Queen refused to sit down before the great poet’s arrival. At last it was suggested that Tennyson might be mooning about in the Cloisters, and so he was. He was caught, and was placed next to the Queen. The Queen knew wonderfully how to hide her Crown, and put everybody at their ease. She took the conversation into her own hands, and kept the ball rolling during the whole luncheon. But she got nothing out of Tennyson. He was evidently in low spirits, and, sitting next to him, I could hear how to every question the Queen addressed to him he answered, “Yes, Ma’am,” “No, Ma’am,” and at last, by a great effort, “Ma’am, there is a good deal to be said on both sides of the question.” He then turned to me and said in a whisper, but a loud whisper: “I wish they had put some of you talking fellows next to Regina.”

While I am finishing these “Recollections of 286Royalties,” and sending the proof sheets to press, the last echoes of the greatest triumph that has ever been granted to royalty, which has ever been celebrated by royalty, are vanishing from our ears. May those royal recollections never vanish from our memories! We need not, nay, we cannot exaggerate their importance. Magnificent as the pageant has been of the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen of England, what was invisible in it was far greater than what was so brilliantly visible in the royal procession passing through the crowded streets of London. Has there ever been an empire like the British, not excluding the Babylonian, the Persian, the Macedonian, or the Roman empires? Sixty years of one reign is not a mere numerical expression; no, it means permanent vitality, unbroken continuity, sustained strength and vigour, such as, I believe, have never been witnessed in any reign during the whole history of the world.

And England is not only the greatest, it is also the freest, country in the world, so free that even republics may well envy it its fresh and pure air; and yet was there ever among the vast masses, rich and poor, a more universal outburst of hearty loyalty to the Throne, of personal love of the sovereign, than in the days of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee?

287It was said early in her reign by a royal and loyal thinker that constitutional government was then on its trial in England. So it was, but it has come out triumphant, and stronger than ever. Constitutional government under a royal protector will henceforth be recognised as the most perfect form of government which human ingenuity has been able to devise, after many centuries of patient and impatient search. Royalty has proved its right to exist, and that under the sceptre of a Queen who, if compared to other sovereigns, will be famous not only for much that she has done, but also for much that she has not done. Constitutional government has proved its superiority over any form of government by the triumph on 22nd June.

If the people have been loyal to the Queen, how loyal has the Queen been to her people; if her subjects have shared her joys and sorrows, how warmly has she taken the sufferings of her people to heart. Royalty has its dangers, and mankind has suffered much from kings and emperors, but the greatness of England during the last sixty years has chiefly been due to the mutual esteem and love of her people and their sovereign. The world will know henceforth one at least of the secret springs of England’s health and wealth and strength—namely, the true sympathy that for 288years has knitted ruler and ruled together. England has had great ministers and counsellors, but ask those ministers, who for years has been their truest and most trusted counsellor, and they will not hesitate in their answer. No wonder that England, celebrating the Sixty-years’ Jubilee of her Sovereign, should have roused the admiration—and it may be, the envy also—of other nations. Let us hope that the admiration, so ungrudgingly bestowed, may last, and that the envy, if any, may pass away. “Viel Ehr, viel Feind” is as true here as elsewhere. Let other nations blame and criticise, it is the highest compliment they can pay. But let them ponder what Europe would have been without England, what the world would have been without the sceptre of the wise and good Queen Victoria.



Often when I had related to my friends some of my painful experiences with beggars and they laughed at me, “Wait,” I said, “I shall have my revenge; and when I am unfit to do anything else, I shall write a book about Beggars.” Now it has sometimes happened to me of late that, when I had sat down to do the work to which I have been accustomed for so many years, I could not get on at all, or if by a great effort of will I managed to do something, it was of no use, and had to be done again. I felt, therefore, that the time had come for rest, or at all events, for a change of occupation, and, though I had not yet sufficient time to spare for writing a whole book on beggars, I thought I might jot down a few of my experiences, not only as an amusement to myself, but possibly as a useful lesson to some of my friends. It seems to me that my experience has been large, larger than that of most of my acquaintances. Why, I cannot tell; but beggars, and extremely clever beggars too, have evidently singled me out as an easy prey. They seem to have imagined—in fact 290they told me so again and again—that I was a rich man, and could well afford to help a poor beggar. They little knew what a poor beggar I was myself, and how hard I have had to work through life to keep myself afloat, and to live as I was expected to live among my wealthy colleagues at Oxford. They would have smiled incredulously if I had told them how many hours, nay, how many weeks, a scholar has often to do the hardest drudgery without getting a penny for his work. He has often to be thankful if he can find a publisher for what is the outcome of years of hard labour. It is schoolbooks only that are remunerative, or novels and sermons, and novels he has to leave to his worldly, sermons to his unworldly, fellow-labourers.

Some of my beggar acquaintances were so clever and so well educated that they might easily have made a living for themselves; but, as one of them told me when I thought I had made him thoroughly ashamed of himself, and quite confidential, they preferred begging to any other kind of occupation. “Talk of shooting partridges or pheasants,” he said, “talk of racing or gambling, there is no sport like begging. There must always be risk in sport, and the risk in begging is very great. You are fighting,” my half-penitent informant said, “against tremendous odds. You ring 291at the door, and you must first of all face a servant, who generally scrutinises you with great suspicion, and declines to take your name or your card, unless you have a clean shirt and a decent pair of boots. Then, after you have been admitted to the presence, you have to watch every expression of your enemy or your friend, as the case may be. You have to face the cleverest people in the world, and you know all the time that the slightest mistake in your looks or in the tone of your voice may lead to ruin. You may be kicked out of the house, and if you meet with a high-minded and public-spirited gentleman, who does not mind trouble and expense, you may find yourself in the hands of the police for trying to obtain money under false pretences. No,” he concluded, “I have known in my time what hunting and shooting and gambling are; but I assure you there is no sport like begging.”

What is one to do with such a visitor—in appearance, in manners, and in language, quite a gentleman, or a ci-devant gentleman, a man who has been at a university, and who, when asked, will translate a page of Homer to you very fairly, who bears, of course, a noble name, and has friends, as he gives you to understand, in every university or at every court in Europe—what is one to do with him, if not to accelerate his departure 292by means of a small gift, for which he is generally very grateful? But that is really the worst one can do. For, on the strength of it, your noble sportsman will at once go to other covers, to all your friends, tell them that you have helped him, describe your generosity, your room, your dog, your cat, and thus among your unsuspecting friends secure a fresh bag, dearer to him, if you may believe him, than any number of pheasants and partridges.

The information which these beggars possess is quite astounding. They have stepped into my room, and given me the most minute information about my friends and relations in Germany, who live in a small and little-known town, describing their houses, their gardens, their dogs—everything, in fact, to show that they had been on the most familiar terms with them. This happened to me some years ago when the organisation among the foreign beggars in London was far more perfect than it is, or seems to be, at present. It may be, of course, that they know that an old fox who has been hunted again and again is difficult to catch. Anyhow, I have not of late heard of any such exploits as, unfortunately, I have had to suffer from in former years.

It was after the Schleswig-Holstein war, in about 1850, that one morning a young military-looking 293man stepped into my room. He limped, and told me he had still a ball in his leg, which must be removed. He presented himself as an officer in the Danish Army—the only officer who had joined the rebels, the Schleswig-Holsteiners—and had been taken prisoner at the battle of Idstedt in 1850. He described most graphically how he was confronted with his former Danish comrades, how his epaulettes were torn off, how his sword was broken, and he himself sent to a military prison, previous, as he thought, to being fusillé for high treason. All this naturally appealed to my sympathy, and then he went on telling me, in the most confidential way, that when at last sentence of death had been pronounced against him, he knew quite well that it would never be carried out, because the Queen of Denmark was his dearest friend, and would never have allowed such a thing. “Give me some paper,” he said; “I must write to my beloved Queen, and tell her I am safe in England. She will be in deep distress till she hears of me.” He sat down and wrote a letter, which he wished me to read. I only saw the beginning of it: that was quite enough; it was in a style which only the most devoted lover could have used. That letter was stamped—I supplied the stamps—dropped into the pillar-box, sent to Copenhagen, and must have 294been delivered to the Queen, though I doubt its being preserved in the royal archives. And that was not all. In a few days a letter came from Copenhagen, delivered by post, which again I was asked to read, but declined. I did not wish to pry into State or Court secrets. But all this showed, at all events, how cleverly the whole scheme had been laid, so that a confederate could send from Copenhagen a letter apparently written by the Queen, in answer to a letter despatched to her a few days before. I was completely taken in. The young officer went to London to have the ball extracted. I doubt now whether there was any ball to extract. There he made many acquaintances, and was helped by some very influential people. I remember one, who afterwards rose to the highest post in our Diplomatic Service, and was at that time known among his friends as never having a five-pound note in his possession. He gave him £10, and when I asked him: “But, my dear fellow, where in the world did you get that ten-pound note?” he used, as was his wont, very strong language, and said: “I borrowed it from the porter at my club.” This little comedy went on for some time. The man himself must have enjoyed his sport thoroughly, and he never lost his presence of mind. I still think that he must have been at one time in the Danish Service, 295as he possessed very accurate information about Danish officials and Danish affairs in general, though in what capacity he served his country and his Queen has never been found out. His ostensible correspondence with the Queen continued for some time. Even remittances arrived, as we were told from his royal patroness, but most of his funds were drawn, I am sorry to say, from English pockets, and might have served some better purpose. As far as I remember—for I am trying to recall events that happened nearly fifty years ago—a collection was made for our clever adventurer, and he left England uninjured to look for more dupes in the United States.

Though I might have learnt a lesson, I have to confess that hardly a month passed without something of the same kind happening to me. Few swindlers were so clever or had their schemes so beautifully prepared as my Danish friend, but I generally felt whenever I was taken in that I could hardly have acted differently. Nay, when I mustered courage to say “No,” I often regretted it. Let me give an instance. A gentleman steps into your room, tells you that he has been robbed, offers you his gold watch, and asks you to lend him a pound to pay his bill at the hotel. What are you to do? I declined to advance any money, particularly as my visitor behaved rather like a 296sturdy beggar, and what was the consequence? He broke out into violent abuse, mentioned a number of newspapers whose correspondent he professed to be, and told me I should rue the day when I had insulted him. And it was not a vain threat. From time to time I received extracts, not indeed from The Times or the Débats or the Augsburger Zeitung, but from some obscure local papers, with violent tirades against me as an ignoramus, as a Jesuit, as a German spy, as a hard-hearted miser, etc. For all I know, the man may have been in momentary distress, but was I to open a pawnbroker’s shop in my house?

There was a time, and it lasted for several years, when a man, though he never tried his hand on me, victimised a large number of my friends. He called himself my brother, evidently unaware of the fact that I never had a brother. He must have taken the “Clergy List,” for week after week came letters from my friends, mostly clergymen in London who had known me at Oxford and who had been swindled by my brother.

Twice The Times was kind enough to print a letter from me in large type to warn my friends. It was of no use. I seldom went to London without some friend coming up to me and asking after my brother, or expressing himself thoroughly ashamed of having allowed himself to be so stupidly 297victimised by a common impostor. One friend told me that he was so convinced that the man was a swindler that he had him turned out of the house. But then it struck him that after all the man might really be my brother, who only wanted a ticket to go to Oxford, so he rushed into the street after him, apologised, and pressed a sovereign into his hand. “There were telegraphs in those days, and why did you not telegraph to me?” I said. But my brother went on unabashed. He once called at the house of Lord W., telling the old story of having been robbed, and wanting a ticket to go to Oxford to see his dear brother. Lord W. was not to be taken in so easily, but Lady W., who came into the room and heard the story, said to the young man: “Perhaps you are not aware that you are speaking to a very near relation of your brother, who is the husband of my niece?” The man never flinched, but was rushing up to Lady W. to shake hands most affectionately and to embrace her, if she had not beaten a sudden retreat. Lord W. was quite convinced that the man was an impudent beggar, took him to the front door, and told him to be gone. “Would you tell your servant to call a cab for me,” he said, “to go to the station?” A servant, who was present, hailed a cab. “Please to give the man half a crown,” my brother said. The 298half-crown was given, and the man got away unharmed, having swindled one of the cleverest financial men in London out of half a crown. Only a few minutes after, my wife called at her aunt’s house, and regretted that she was just too late to make the long-desired personal acquaintance of my lost brother.

After carrying on this business for more than two years in England, and chiefly in London, the place seems to have become too hot at last. He vanished from the soil of England without ever having called on his brother at Oxford, and the next I heard of him was through some friends in New Zealand, who had suffered as others had suffered before in England.

The worst of such experiences is that they make us very hard-hearted. One believes nothing that a man tells one who comes begging to the door. And yet how much of real misery there is! It is a problem which really seems to admit of no solution. Of course we must not expect angels to come to us in the disguise of beggars. All beggars are more or less disreputable; not one of them would venture to tell the true story of his life. Yet they generally have something to say for themselves, and they hardly know the mischief they are doing by making it impossible for any one with any self-respect to believe the old, old 299stories which they are telling. They say: “What can we do? We must say something to appeal to your pity, and the unvarnished tale of our life is too long and too dry, and not likely to excite your sympathy.” All this is true, but what is to be done to alleviate or to cure this terrible evil of poverty and beggary? Nothing really seems to remain but to adopt the example of the Buddhists, and give to the beggar a recognised status in society. The Buddhists have no poor rates, but whoever is admitted to the brotherhood has a right to go round the village or town once or twice a day, to hold out his begging bowl, and to take home to his monastery whatever is given him. No householder likes these Bhikshus or beggars to depart from his house without having received a gift, however small, while the Bhikshu himself is not degraded, but enjoys, on the contrary, the same respect which the begging friars enjoyed during the middle ages. Even in later times we hear in Scotland of the Gaberlunzie men, and elsewhere of Bedesmen, Bluegowns, etc., all forming a kind of begging fraternity, and having a recognised position in society.

Free above Scot-free, that observe no laws,
Obey no governor, use no religion,
But what they draw from their own ancient custom,
Or constitute themselves, yet they are no rebels.
“Antiquary,” chap. xii.

300All this is extinct now, but the beggar is not extinct, and never will be, as we are told. What then is to be done? for we are all more or less responsible for their existence. It seems to me that there is only one thing to be done, namely, to give up, every one of us, whatever quotum of our income we think right, and to hand it over to such societies as take the trouble to find out for us some not quite undeserving poor. Our Charity Organisation Society does no doubt much good, but it should have another branch, the members of which should be understood to give, say, a tenth part, or any other quotum of their annual income for charitable purposes. Such a society existed formerly. The members of it were not subjected to any inquisitorial questions. They simply declared that they would regularly devote a tenth of their income to the alleviation of poverty, and they were left perfectly free to do it each in his own way. What has become of that society? The organiser and leading spirit of it died, and no one seems to have taken it up again.

There is, however, one class of beggars and impostors more objectionable than any—people who do not beg for money, but borrow, and never mean to return either the money or any thanks. I have known of a good many cases where young men visiting Oxford and having made a few acquaintances 301among the undergraduates, were invited to dinner in college, and not only borrowed from their young companions, but, introduced by their young friends, ran up bills among the tradesmen of the town, and then quietly slipped away, leaving their friends to satisfy their creditors as best they could. All this goes on, and it seems impossible to stop it. Even if now and then these swindlers make a mistake, and place themselves within the clutches of the law, what satisfaction is it to keep them in prison for a month or two? No one knows their real names. They are boarded and fed at the expense of the country, and enjoy a little rest from their labours. That is all. They go in and come out of prison as if nothing had happened, and all they have learnt in prison is how to be more careful in future.

Who can doubt that there is much poverty and suffering, even undeserved suffering, among the poor, more particularly among poor foreigners in London? The Society for the Relief of Foreigners in Distress does much, but that much is but like a drop of milk in an ocean of salt water. The stories of the applicants printed each year, and carefully sifted by the committee, are simply heart-rending. And those who go to see for themselves often wish they had never crossed the thresholds of these hovels in which whole families live huddled up together, 302hungry, sick, dying, dead. One feels utterly hopeless and helpless at the sights one sees. One might as well jump into the Atlantic to save a sinking vessel and a drowning crew as attempt to rescue this drowning humanity.

And the men, after all, can help themselves. They can work, they may fight and beg, and even steal, and be sent to prison. But what is the fate of the poor unfortunate women!

There is one more class of beggars, though they would indignantly protest against such a name, who have given me great trouble. They are gentlemen who have something to sell and who are willing to sell it to you as a great favour. In Oxford these gentlemen have generally manuscripts to sell, ancient, valuable, unique. As I spent a good deal of my time at the Bodleian Library, and was there every day for several years as Oriental librarian, I made some curious acquaintances. After some time I never trusted a man who offered to sell scarce manuscripts or unique books to the library. My experiences were many, most of them painful. Perhaps the most interesting was when we received a visit from the famous forger, Simonides. Fortunately his fame had preceded him. There had been a full account of his doings and misdoings abroad, yet he arrived quite unabashed with a box full of Greek MSS. I had warned our librarian, 303the Rev. H. O. Coxe, and it was amusing to watch the two when their pourparlers began. Simonides—so called, not because he was a descendant of the poet Simonides, but (with a long î) because his ancestor was one Simon, a Jew—addressed the librarian half in ancient Greek, half in modern English. He knew both equally well. His manners were most engaging. The librarian was equally polite, and began to examine some of the Greek MSS. “These are of small value,” Simonides said, “they are modern. What century would you assign to them?” The librarian assigned the thirteenth century to them, and Simonides fully agreed. He then went on producing MS. after MS., but claiming for none of them more than the twelfth or tenth century. All went on most amicably until he produced some fragments of an uncial Greek MS. The librarian opened his eyes wide, and, examining them very carefully, put some of them aside for further consideration. Becoming more and more confidential, Simonides at last produced a real treasure. “This,” he said, “ought to repose nowhere but in the Bodleian Library. And what century would you assign to it, Mr. Librarian?” Simonides said with a smile and a respectful bow. Mr. Coxe turned over a few pages, and, looking very grave, though never quite without his usual twinkle, “The second half of the 304nineteenth century, sir,” he said, “and now pack up your MSS. and Apage (begone).”

Simonides did as he was told, and, with an injured expression, walked away. Next day he wrote a Greek letter to the librarian, bitterly complaining about the Apage, and offering some more MSS. for his inspection. But all was in vain; too much had been discovered about him in the meantime. He was certainly a most extraordinary man—a scholar who, if he had applied his ingenuity to editing instead of forging Greek MSS., might have held a very high position. His greatest achievement was, of course, the newly discovered Greek text of the history of ancient Egypt by Uranios. The man possessed a large quantity of later Greek MSS. It seems that in the Eastern monasteries, where he sold, he also acquired some Greek MSS., by what means we must not ask. He tried several of these MSS. with chemicals to see whether, as was the fashion during the middle ages, the parchment on which they were written had been used before, and the old writing scraped off in order to get writing material for some legends of Christian saints or other modern compositions. When that has been the case, chemical appliances bring out the old writing very clearly, and he knew that in this way some very old and valuable Greek texts had been recovered. In that 305case the old uncial writing comes out generally in a dark blue, and becomes quite legible as underlying the modern Greek text. As Simonides was not lucky enough to discover or recover an ancient Greek text, or what is called a Palimpsest MS., the thought struck him that he might manufacture such a treasure, which would have sold at a very high price. But even this did not satisfy his ambition. He might have taken the text of the Gospels and written it between the lines of one of his modern Greek MSS., adding some startling various readings. In that case detection would have seemed much more difficult. But he soared higher. He knew that a man of the name of Uranios had written a history of Egypt which was lost. Simonides made up his mind to write himself in ancient Greek a history of Egypt such as he thought Uranios might have written. And, deep and clever as he was, he chose Bunsen’s “Egypt” and Lepsius’ “Chronology” as the authorities which he faithfully followed. After he had finished his Greek text, he wrote it in dark blue ink and in ancient uncial Greek letters between the letters of a Greek MS. of about 1200 a.d. Anybody who knows the smallness of the letters in such a MS. can appreciate the enormous labour it must have been to insert, as it were, beneath and between these minute lines of each letter 306the supposed earlier writing of Uranios, so that the blue ink should never encroach on the small but true Greek letters. One single mistake would have been fatal, and such is the knowledge which antiquaries now possess of the exact changes of Greek letters in every century that here, too, one single mistake in the outline of the old uncial letters would have betrayed the forger.

When Simonides had finished his masterpiece, he boldly offered it to the highest tribunal, the Royal Berlin Academy. The best chemists of the time examined it microscopically, and could find no flaw. Lepsius, the great Egyptologist, went through the whole text, and declared that the book could not be a forgery, because no one except Uranios could have known the names of the ancient Egyptian kings and the right dates of the various dynasties, which were exactly such as he had settled them in his books. The thought that Simonides might have consulted these very books never entered anybody’s mind. Great was the excitement in the camp of the Egyptologists, and, though the price demanded by Simonides was shamefully extravagant, Bunsen persuaded the then King of Prussia, Frederick William IV., to pay it and to secure the treasure for Berlin. Dindorf, the famous Greek scholar, had been entrusted by Simonides with the editing of the text, 307and he had chosen the Clarendon Press at Oxford to publish the first specimen of it. In the meantime unfavourable reports of Simonides reached the German authorities, and during a new examination of the MS. some irregularities were detected in the shape of the uncial M, and at last one passage was discovered by a very strong microscope where the blue ink had run across the letters of the modern Greek text. No doubt could then remain that the whole MS. was a forgery. Part of it had actually been printed at the Clarendon Press, and I was able to secure six copies of Dindorf’s pamphlet, which was immediately destroyed, and has now become one of the scarcest books in any library. After I had secured my copy, I read on the first page κὰτ’ ἐμὴν ἰδέαν, which was intended for “According to my idea.” I went straight to the then Master of Balliol, Dr. Scott, of Greek Lexicon fame. I asked him whether he thought such an expression possible before the fifteenth century A.D. He took down his Stephanus, but after looking for some time and hesitating, he admitted at last that such an expression was certainly not quite classical. Simonides had, of course, to refund the money, and was sent to prison, never to appear again in the libraries of Europe. A number of his forgeries, however, exist in England, in public and 308private collections; among them portraits of the Virgin Mary and some of the Apostles painted by St. Luke, a copy of Homer with a dedication from Perikles to the tyrant of Syrakuse, other Greek MSS. written on paper made of human skin, etc. His forged MS. of Uranios was such a masterpiece that he was offered £100 for it, but he declined, and I have never been able to find out what has been the end of it.

Some years afterwards another forger of the name of Shapira offered to the British Museum some scrolls of parchment containing the text of the Pentateuch from the hand of Moses. They, too, were very closely criticised, and were exhibited for some time at the Museum; nay, a Commission was appointed to report on the MS., for which, very naturally, an enormous sum was demanded. It was perfectly well known, of course, among Semitic scholars that writing for literary purposes was unknown at the time of Moses, and that the very alphabet used by the forger belonged to a much later period. Poor Shapira, whose name had already become notorious as connected with the spurious Moabite antiquities, which he had sold at Berlin, professed to be so dejected when the fraud was discovered, a fraud, as he stated, not committed by himself, but practised on him by some Arabs, that he went to Belgium, and there, 309according to the newspapers, committed suicide; while some of his victims maintained that even then the newspaper paragraphs on his suicide were a forgery, and that he had retired from an ungrateful world under the veil of a new name.

It is extraordinary how low a man may sink who once takes to this kind of trade. A Greek gentleman whom I knew, and who moved in the very best society in London, who held a responsible position in a bank, where he was trusted with any amount of money, roused the suspicions of the authorities in the coin department of the British Museum. He possessed himself a very valuable collection of ancient coins, and was admitted to all the privileges of a special student of numismatics.

Nearly all the employees of the British Museum were his personal friends, and no one would have ventured to doubt his honour. However, some unique specimens of Greek coins disappeared, or rather were found to be replaced by inferior specimens. A trap was laid, and there remained little doubt that he had transferred the better specimens to his own collection, substituting inferior specimens in his possession. At first no one would believe it, but an English jury found him guilty, and he was condemned to five years’ penal servitude. Great efforts were made by some of the Foreign 310Ministers, and by the directors of the bank in which he had been employed, and a pardon was obtained for him on condition of his never returning to England. When, however, inquiries were made as to his behaviour in the hulks where he had been detained in the meantime, it turned out that this perfect gentleman had behaved there worse than the lowest criminal, so that it was quite out of the question to release him, and he was kept to serve his full sentence. What may have become of him afterwards, who knows? But it shows how scientific devotion can go hand in hand with moral degradation, nay, can blunt the conscience to such an extent that exchange seems no robbery, and even the abstraction of a book from a public or private library is looked upon as a venial offence. MSS. have again and again disappeared from libraries, and have been returned after the death of the scholar who took them, showing, at least, a late repentance. But I have also known of cases where MSS. seemed to have vanished and suspicion fell on scholars who had consulted them last, while after a time the MSS. turned up again, having been placed in a wrong place in the library; which, of course, in a large library is tantamount to throwing them out of window.

There was a well-known case in the same coin-room of the British Museum, where, during a visit 311of a number of gentlemen and ladies, it was observed that a very valuable and almost unique Sicilian coin had disappeared. All the gentlemen present in the room at the time had to be searched, and no one objected except one. He protested his innocence, but declared that nothing would induce him to allow his pockets to be searched. All the other visitors were allowed to go home, but he was detained while the coin-room was swept, and every corner searched once more. At last the missing coin was found in a chink of the floor.

Every apology was made to the suspected person, but he was asked why he had so strongly objected to being searched. He then produced from his pocket another specimen of the very same coin. “I came here,” he said, “to compare my specimen, which is very perfect, with the only other specimen which is thought to be superior to mine, and almost unique in the world. Now, suppose,” he added, “that you had not found your coin, and had found my specimen in my pocket, would anybody have believed in my innocence?”

Such cases will happen, though no doubt a man must have been born under a very unlucky star to come in for such a trial. In most museums unique specimens are now never shown except 312under precautions which make such accidents, as well as deliberate thefts, almost impossible.

After all the sad experiences which one has had, it is perhaps quite right that we should shut our ears and our house against all beggars, whether in rags or in the disguise of gentlemen. But even our servants have hearts, and though they have orders not to admit beggars, they often are, or imagine they are, better judges than ourselves. I know that they sometimes give something where their masters, rightly or wrongly, decline to do anything. Physical suffering appeals to them, though they also have learnt how beggars who ask for a crust of bread throw away what has been given them as soon as they leave the house.

I remember once my servant coming in and saying: “There is a poor man at the door, I believe he is dying, sir!” I confess I did not believe it, but I went to see him, and he looked so ill that the doctor had to be sent for. The doctor declared he was in the last stage of consumption, and I was glad to send him to the Infirmary.

He was a poor tailor, a German by birth, but who had lived many years in England and spoke English perfectly well. Being well taken care of, he got better for a time. I went to see him and tried to cheer him as well as I could. He was surprised to see me, and said with a frown: “Why 313do you come to see me?” I said that he seemed quite alone in the world, without any friends or relations in England.

“Friends and relations!” he said. “I have never had any in all my life.”

“You had father and mother?” I said.

“No,” he answered, “I never had. I never knew anybody that belonged to me. I was brought up at a Government school for poor children, was apprenticed to a tailor, and when I was quite young sent to England, where I have been working in different places for nearly twenty years. I have never begged, and have always been able to support myself.”

He told me the name of the tailor for whom he had been working in Oxford, and I received the most satisfactory account both from his employer and from the men with whom he had been working.

“Why do you come to see me?” he said again and again. “No one has ever been kind to me. I want to die; I have nothing to care for in this world. The few things that belong to me I wish to leave to the poor servant girl in the house where I have last been at work, the little money in my purse may go to the Infirmary. I know no one else; no one cares for me, or has ever cared for me.”

314Who can imagine such a life? Without father or mother, without friends, without the sense of belonging to anybody in the world, of ever being loved or pitied by a single human soul. Even the idea of a kind and loving Father in heaven had no meaning for him. His one wish was to have done with it all. It was no trouble to him to leave this world and to cease from stitching. He could not even express anything like gratitude. All he could say was that it was so strange that any one should care for him, and come to see him. He passed away without suffering, anyhow without a sound of complaint. Whatever he left was given to the poor servant girl, who was equally surprised that the poor tailor should have thought of her. What an empty, purposeless life it seemed to have been, and yet his, too, was a precious soul, and meant to be more on earth than a mere sewing machine.

Yes, now and then one can do a little good, even to professional beggars; but very, very seldom—and it is right that such cases should be known and remembered. The most difficult people to deal with are educated young foreigners, who always came to me with the same tale. Some of them were hardened sinners, and had to end their visits to Oxford and to the always open rooms of undergraduates in college, with a visit to our gaol. I 315have no doubt whatever that some of them belonged to good families, and had received an excellent education. Some of them had run away from home with a woman they had fallen in love with; others may have committed some crime, mostly while serving in the army, and had tried to escape punishment by deserting. But there were others who had come to England to learn English, hoping to support themselves by giving lessons, for as soon as a foreigner arrives in England he imagines that a dozen people are ready to learn his language, which in many cases he is quite unable to teach. I remember one of this class whom, by mere accident, I was able to help. He came to me in a ragged and very disreputable state. He told me he was starving, and wished me to find pupils for him at Oxford. Well, I managed with some effort to get hold of him and shake him. He showed that he knew Greek and Latin, and his German was that of an educated man. “My dear fellow,” I said, “how in the world did you sink so low?” He saw that I meant it, and, with tears in his eyes, told me his simple, and this time true, story. He had been a teacher in a well-known German watering-place, and, as he had several English pupils, he was anxious to perfect himself in English. He arrived in London without knowing anybody, and with but a small sum of money 316left. “I don’t know what happened to me,” he said; “I must have had a very serious illness, and I was told that for weeks I was in a delirious fever. When I came to myself, I was in a miserable hovel occupied by a poor German family in Whitechapel. I know nothing about them, nor how I had fallen into their hands. But they had taken me in; they had nursed me, as I found out, for several weeks; and they now asked me to repay what they had spent on me. My money was gone; I knew no one who would have sent me any money from Germany. My Whitechapel friends were kind to me, and at last they advised me, as I knew Greek and Latin, to go to Oxford and Cambridge and beg. I did not like it at all; but what could I do? I owed them the money, and I had no means of earning anything in London. I was starving, and my friends had little to eat and drink themselves.” I believed his story, and this time I had no reason to regret it. The master of a school for boys near London had written to me to recommend a German teacher as a stop-gap. I wrote to him, giving him a full account of my man, and told him that he had experience in teaching, and wished to stay for a time in England to improve his knowledge of English. The master said he would give him a trial. I told the young man to get rid of every article of clothing he had on, and 317had him clothed as well as I could before I sent him off. He acquitted himself admirably at the school, and his first thought was to pay the poor Samaritans in Whitechapel for what they had done for him. After a time he went back to Germany to resume his work as a teacher of German at the fashionable watering-place he had come from; and for several years I regularly received letters of thanks from him, telling me how well he was getting on in the world, that he was happily married, and hoped that he would see me once more, though not in England, but at his watering-place in Germany. Here I had my reward.

During the first year I was in England I sometimes saw harrowing scenes among the poor German families stranded and wrecked in London. These poor people flocked to the Prussian Legation. Generally they could only see the porter. If they were lucky, they saw a secretary; and, if very lucky, the Minister himself, Bunsen, came to see them in the hall. Now and then I was sent to find out what might be true in the heart-rending stories they told. And often there was plenty of truth in them. Father, mother, and children had been tempted away from a small village in the Black Forest or the Erzgebirge. They had been told that England was made of gold and silver, and that they had only to scratch the soil to get 318as much as they wanted and bring it home. They believed it all, and when they saw the glistening white chalk cliffs near Dover, they thought they were all of silver. Then when they came to London, the misery began, and began very soon. They were hungry, the children were sickly, and there was nothing for them to do to earn an honest penny. Nothing remained but to earn dishonest pennies, and in this they were readily helped by all the people around them.

I cannot tell the harrowing scenes I saw. Those who care to know what is going on among the poor German families in London should go themselves, and they would see more than they would wish ever to have seen. One case I shall never forget, and it is perhaps as well that people should know these things. In one room on a miserable bed there lay a poor girl, quite young, who had given birth to a child. The child had fortunately died. The people about her had been kind to her, and done all they could be expected to do. But, oh! the sad, half-delirious face of the dying mother, for there could be no doubt that she was dying. And what was her story? As far as I could find out from the women about her, she was the daughter of a German clergyman. A young Englishman had come to their vicarage to learn German. He had fallen in love with his pretty German teacher, 319and the poor girl had fallen in love with him. He had promised her marriage, and when she could no longer hide her state from her parents she had been persuaded by her lover to follow him to England. In London he had left her with a small sum of money at a little German hotel, promising to come back as soon as possible after he had seen his father. When the money which he had left for her became low, she had been sent to a poor German family. She never believed that he whom she called her English husband had forsaken her. Something, she felt sure, had happened to prevent him from coming back to her. I hope she was right. However, he never came; she died, and died in agonies, calling for him, for her child, for her happy home in Germany, and with her last breath and her last tears for her mother! She never divulged any names. She died and was buried with her child.

Can society do nothing for these poor victims? Can we only call them hard names—some of them being the most gentle, the most loving, the most innocent creatures in the world! Have we not even some Pharisees left among us who will go out one by one, beginning at the eldest even unto the last, instead of throwing a stone at her? Who is to solve this problem if not He who said: “Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no 320more”? And she, the poor girl, was she really so great a sinner? She did not look so. And if she was, had she not expiated her sin and been purified by the most awful suffering? She looked so pure and innocent that Heine’s lines were constantly coming into my mind:—

Mir ist’s als ob ich die Hände
Auf’s Haupt Dir legen sollt’,
Und beten dass Gott Dich behüte,
So fromm, so rein, so hold.

Poor girl! I felt for her with all my heart, but I had but few words of comfort for her. How difficult it is to judge. Love, youth, nature, and ignorance have to be reckoned with in our judgments; and society, which no doubt has to enforce certain laws for its own protection, should distinguish at least between sins against society and sins against God, before whom one untrue and unkind word, written or spoken, may weigh heavier in the scales, for all we know, than the sin of many a heart-broken girl.



1. See M. M., “Vedic Hymns,” S.B.E., vol. xxxii., p. 96.

2. Autobiographie, p. 224.

3. “Neugriechische Volkslieder,” gesammelt von C. Fauriel, übersetzt von Wilhelm Müller, Leipzig, 1825.

4. See J. Kerner, “Die Seherin von Prevorst,” 1829.

5. The metre used in his volume of “Tragödien nebst einem lyrischen Intermezzo,” Berlin, 1823. I possess a copy of it with Heine’s dedication: “Als ein Zeichen seiner Achtung und mit dem besonderen Wunsche, dass der Waldhornist das lyrische Intermezzo seiner Aufmerksamkeit würdige, überreicht dieses Buch der Verfasser.

6. As many of my unknown friends have come to my assistance and sent me Herwegh’s poem I feel bound to give it here in its entirety:—

Ich möchte hingeh’n wie das Abendroth,
Und wie der Tag mit seinen letzten Gluthen—
O! leichter, sanfter ungefühlter Tod!—
Mich in den Schoosz des Ewigen verbluten.
Ich möchte hingeh’n wie der heitre Stern,
In vollstem Glanz in ungeschwächtem Blinken;
So stille und so schmerzlos möchte gern
Ich in des Himmels blaue Tiefen sinken.
Ich möchte hingeh’n wie der Blume Duft,
Der freudig sich dem schönen Kelch entringet
Und auf dem Fittig blüthenschwangrer Luft
Als Weihrauch auf des Herrn Altar sich schwinget.
Ich möchte hingeh’n wie der Thau im Thal,
Wenn durstig ihm des Morgens Feuer winken;
O wollte Gott, wie ihn der Sonnenstrahl,
Auch meine lebensmüde Seele trinken!
Ich möchte hingeh’n wie der bange Ton,
Der aus den Saiten einer Harfe dringet;
Und, kaum dem irdischen Metall entfloh’n,
Ein Wohllaut, in des Schöpfers Brust verklinget.
Du wirst nicht hingeh’n wie das Abendroth,
Du wirst nicht stille, wie der Stern, versinken,
Du stirbst nicht einer Blume leichten Tod,
Kein Morgenstrahl wird deine Seele trinken.
Wohl wirst du hingeh’n, hingeh’n ohne Spur,
Doch wird das Elend deine Kraft erst schwächen
Sanft stirbt es einzig sich in der Natur,
Das arme Menschenherz muss stückweis brechen.

7. See Brugsch, “Mein Leben,” p. 104.

8. “Literature and Dogma,” 1873, pp. 305, seq.

9. “Literature and Dogma,” p. 143.

10. Schiller’s “Wallenstein,” Prolog, vv. 48, 49.

11. This was written in 1851, and here in 1897 that Welcome has never ceased to be a blessing to me.

12. I had written some articles in The Times to show that when we meet with jade tools in countries far removed from the few mines in which jade is found, we must admit that they were carried along as precious heirlooms by the earliest emigrants from Asia to Europe, by the same people who carried the tools of their mind, that is the words of their language, from their original homes to the shores of the Mediterranean, to Iceland, to Ireland, and in the end to America.


(“Professor” I would fain have said,
But the pinched line would not admit it,
And where the nail submits its head,
There must the hasty hammer hit it!)

14. “Lectures on the Science of Language,” vol. ii., p. 343.

15. Ascania seems to have been the Latin rendering of Asgaria, which appears on the map as Ascharien, and is now called Aschersleben. It must have been very tempting for a mediæval Latin scholar to see in Asgaria or Ascharia a trace of Ascanius, the son of Aeneas. Old local names, however, are difficult to explain, particularly if they occur on German soil that was formerly occupied by Slavonic tribes, because the Germans often mispronounced and then misinterpreted Slavonic names. It is easy to guess, but often difficult to prove their original form and meaning. If, as seems but fair, we admit a German origin for Asgaria or Ascharien, it is most natural to see in it a modification of the well-known word As-gard, i.e., the home of the gods. Âs (or ass), plus-aesir, was a name of the gods in Old Norse; in Gothic it would have been, as Grimm has shown (“Deutsche Mythol.,” p. 22), Anses, and this is found in several proper names such as Ansgâr, AS. Oscar, god-spear. The Swedish åska, lightning, thunder, if it stands for ás-ekja, meant originally the driving of the god, i.e., of Thor, thunder being supposed to be due to the rattle of his chariot. Proper names such as Ásbjörn, Ásmodr display the same element. Asgard is the abode of the gods, by the side of Mitgart, the abode of men, or the earth, and would have supplied a very natural name either for a sanctuary or for any place sacred to the gods. But though our way seems easy from Asgard to Asgaria, Ascania, Ascharien and even Aschersleben, and though in Esics also, the name of a Prince of Asgaria, we may recognise a derivation of Âs, meaning divine or beloved by the gods, Gottlieb, there is another word that may put in a claim on Askanius if that was not a more learned corruption of Asgaria. For Askr in German mythology (Grimm, l.c., p. 327) is the first man, and means ashtree, and from him the Iscaevones, mentioned by Tacitus, derived their name (Grimm, l.c., p. 324). According to tradition the first King of the Saxons also was called Aschanes, and he is said to have sprung from a rock in the midst of a wood (Grimm, l.c., p. 537). We must admit therefore the possibility that our Ascanius was a German word Aschanes, and in that case had nothing to do with Âs, aesir, the ancient gods of the Scandinavians. Having met with these various traces of the gods as the names of men and places in Anhalt, one feels tempted to see in the An of Anhalt too a remnant of the same name. Anhalt is explained as the place ane holt, without wood, but as it seems to have stood in the very midst of a wood, or an der halde, near the precipice, this derivation is not very likely. Others take it in the modern sense of Anhalt, a firm hold or safe refuge. All this is possible, but it is likewise possible to take An for Ans, so that Anhalt might have been the wood or grove of the gods. We must not lay too much stress on the loss of the s, particularly if by a popular etymology Anhalt had been made to convey the meaning of support or stronghold. All these are and can only be guesses, and certainty could only be gained, if at all, from old historical documents giving the original forms of all these names and trustworthy indications as to how they arose. The whole question is one for the historian rather than for the philologist, and I gladly leave it to them to solve the riddle if they can.

16. Dr. Meyer was a most interesting character. He had been for years in Bunsen’s house, formerly private secretary to Schelling, the philosopher. He was a poet and a scholar, very strong in Welsh, having spent many years travelling about in Wales. He certainly was not cut out for life at court. After leaving England he spent the last years of his life as reader to the old Emperor of Germany; a most faithful soul, and full of varied information. Some of his occasional poems were beautiful, his “Bellone Orientalis” a masterwork; but they are all forgotten now. Dr. Meyer was devoted to the Prince, and much that the world does not know of him, and never will know, I learnt at the time from Dr. Meyer.

  1. Silently corrected obvious typographical errors and variations in spelling.
  2. Retained archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as printed.