"And they are as affectionate as they can be—they like one another and me; and they aren't easily disturbed by circumstances, not having had their morbid sensibilities developed, their innocent perceptions dimmed by alcoholic or other dissipations."
I select, rather at random, one or two other passages from his letters at this time.
"I have just been reading Emerson's Essays. They certainly kindle one's belief in the greatness of life and the nobility of little things; but, after all, the great refreshment of such books to me is—not that they give me new working ideas; I hardly know a book that has ever done that; the stock of ideas is almost constant in the world; but because they show that others are on the same track of admiration and hope as one's self for a goal only hinted at and conjectured to be glorious—on the same track, and farther advanced upon it; like older people, they fill in with experience what one has only guessed at. I find myself saying, 'I expect that life will be like this and that: it will confirm this and that idea in startling ways:' and then one of these great souls comes softly to me, and says, 'It is true.'"
"There are a great number of conventional ideas which are largely current, not only conversationally and among ordinary people, but in books—good and sensible books, written by people of experience—which are, in my opinion, radically and absolutely false, and yet no one takes the trouble to question them. I am always coming across them. Such as this: No one is more incapable of affection than a profligate. This, in my judgement, is a ludicrous error, though it is the statement of no less a moral physician than Lacordaire. If by affection you mean 'sustained, pure, disinterested emotion,' such as patriotism—well and good; but affection!—the two most affectionate persons I have ever known were thoroughly dissolute; and I mean by affection, not a slobbering sentimental passion of a purely sensual type, but an affection quite untainted, to all appearances leading them to make considerable sacrifices for the sake of it, and causing them the acutest misery when not reciprocated. In so far as profligates are selfish brutal natures, as they often are, it is true; but that is not the case with half of them. They are not unfrequently people of infirm will, strong affections, and a violent animal nature. It is selfishness, regard to personal comfort at all hazards, which is the hopeless nature, and can not be raised except through pain.
"Speaking of Lacordaire, another favourite position of his will illustrate my point. He was constantly inveighing in his seminary against desultory reading. Homer, Plutarch, Racine, Bossuet, and a few other books, are all he wishes a man to have read. He calls miscellaneous reading a subtle dissipation, a moral poison.
"It seems to me to depend entirely upon temperament. Some natures are like mills, converting everything that comes in their way into grist; and in that case, no doubt, it is deleterious. They are people of slow-revolving mind, to whom statements in books are of the nature of authorities. Lacordaire was one, I think.
"But there are others who are like sieves; who want a constant passing of materials of all kinds over them to let a little fall through; people who draw from a huge jumble of miscellaneous facts, theories, and thoughts, a little sediment of truth of the precise size to suit them. Such a person was Macaulay.
"I believe that interference does more harm than good. If you thrust books upon a mind of the first type, the result is confusion and weariness. If you deny them to the latter, all you get is poverty of ideas, and morbidity, and mawkishness. I make a rule never to interfere with anybody's reading."
Four years passed. I went during that time once to Tredennis—in the summer, when I took my scanty holiday; for I was in a Government office where only six weeks were allowed. Arthur was generally away in the summer. He took Edward Bruce to several friends' houses; to his own home in Hampshire, now for a long time in the hands of strangers. He wanted to make him a real Englishman. It was arranged that he should go to Cambridge in October. He matriculated at Trinity, Arthur's own college; and he was looking forward with great delight to the prospect.
I went down to stay at Tredennis for a week in July. I got to the house through the quiet sultry lanes about the middle of the afternoon, having started very early from town. As I came up the little drive I could see through the trees an animated game of lawn-tennis proceeding on the lawn in front of the house, between two flannelled combatants. At the sound of the wheels they broke off the game, and Edward came up to greet me. He was now nearly nineteen, and had lost none of the beauty of his boyhood; a small brown moustache which fringed his upper lip being, to my eyes, almost the only sign of his advancing years. He introduced me to his friend, a young Eton man, possessed of that frank nonchalance which it is the privilege of that institution to bestow. I inquired where Arthur was. Edward told me that he had gone down to the stream for a stroll. "We'll go down and find him," he said, putting his arm in mine, with that same demonstrativeness that had always characterized him, and that won people to him so quickly.
We crossed one or two adjacent fields which sloped down to the stream, conspicuous by its fringe of alder and hazel; and after crossing by a gravel-pit, we came on a level reach of it, all stifled with high water-plants, figwort, and loosestrife, and willow-herb, and great sprawling docks, till, down by a little runnel where it took a sudden turn round a shoal of gravel, we came upon the faint fragrance of a cigarette; then Flora ran forward to meet us; and, on turning the corner, we found a great long figure lying on the bank, with hat half pulled over his eyes, gazing dreamily up into the shifting willow leaves and the blue above.
Our voices, which had been drowned by the sound of the running water, aroused him, and he sat up, and, on seeing me, got slowly to his feet with a delightful smile of welcome on his face. "How are you, my dear man?" he said. "I didn't expect you so early, or I should have been at home to meet you—in fact, I should have driven down to Truro, only I am not quite the thing to-day."
I looked rather anxiously at him, to see how he appeared to be, and was much struck with the change in him. There had crept into his face what has been called a look of "doom." The Stuarts are said to have had it. I can not describe it in any other way. It was that of a man waiting for something, bravely and calmly, but still with a certain sort of apprehension. He looked very solemn and grave when he was not speaking, and he was apt to get a kind of brooding look, which did not disperse till one spoke to him. He was thinner, too, and paler, though the old lock of hair still dangled over his forehead, and his eyes had the old affectionate look.
He was playful and humorous in a quiet way. I have forgotten what we talked about—we discussed people and things vaguely; I can only remember one little remark he made which struck me as being highly characteristic. I had said, in reply to some question as to one of our friends, "Oh, he's perfectly crazy." "Yes," said Arthur, mildly: "he has certainly got some curious mannerisms."
I ventured to remonstrate with him about the cigarette, but he said gravely that he had given up thinking about his health, it was so very inferior, and that he had come to the conclusion that nothing in moderation made him either better or worse; "and an occasional cigarette," he said, "adds so much to my general serenity, that I feel sure it is perfectly justifiable."
I had a very delightful week there. He talked a good deal, when he was in the mood, about the books he had been reading and the thoughts he had been thinking; but his physical languor at times, especially in the mornings, was very painful to see. He did not get up till very late, and complained to me more than once of a terrible listlessness and dejection to which he was liable during the earlier part of the day. But he spoke little of his own sufferings, or rather malaise, which I gathered was very great, only saying once or twice, "It is fortunate how habituated one gets to things, even to enduring discomfort. If I can only get my mind occupied, it hardly ever distracts me now." And again—"I think the only really valuable experiences are those that we can not lay down and take up at will, but which continue with us, invariable, unaltering, day after day, meeting us at every moment and tempering every mood." And once—"In spite of everything, I would not for an instant go back. I have every now and then, on breezy sunny mornings or after rain, an intense gush of yearning for the peculiar unconscious delight—the index of perfect physical health—of childhood; but I never deliberately wish that things were otherwise. I enjoy nature more, far more, than ever I did. The signs of spring are a deep and constant joy to me. I can lie down by the stream, and watch the water flowing and the flowers bending and stirring and the animals that run busily about, and be absolutely absorbed, without a thought of myself or even other people. This I never could do before, and it has been sent me, I often think, as a kind of alleviation. I have had it ever since I settled here at Tredennis; and altogether I feel the stronger and the more content for all this suffering and the inevitable end, which can not be far off. No; I wouldn't change, even with you, my dear Chris, or even with Edward"—as that superb piece of physical vitality crossed the lawn.
"When I first came," he told me, "quite at first, I seemed to have lost my hold of nature—to be discordant and out of joint with her. On those bright still mornings we so often have here in the early summer, I seemed to be only a sad spectator, not a part of it all. The sunset over the hills there, and the deliberate red glow of the creek, all seemed to mock me. Even Edward, fond as he was of me, seemed to have no real connection with me. I was isolated and despairing. But very gradually, like the dispersing of a cloud, it came back. I began again to feel myself a performer in the drama, not a gloomy spectator of it—there must be the sufferer, the condemned, to make the tragedy complete, and they may be enacted well—till the sense of God's Fatherhood came back to me. So that I can be and feel myself a part of the vast economy, diseased and inefficient though I am—feel that I am one with the life that throbs in the trees and water, and that forces itself up at every cranny and nestles in every ledge—can wait patiently for my move, the transference of my vital energy—as strong as ever, it seems to me, though the engines are weaker—to some other portion of the frame of things."
He spoke of spiritualism with great contempt. "The more I see of spiritualists and the less I see of phenomena," he said, "the more discontented with it I am. It is nothing but a fashionable drawing-room game."
He dwelt a good deal on the subjective interpretation of nature. One evening—we had been listening to the owls crying—he said, abstractedly:
"We put strange meanings enough, God knows, into faces that never owned them. We hear dreary hopelessness in the moaning of the wind; wild sorrow in the tossing of the trees; and read into the work-a-day cries of birds, content, humour, melancholy, and a thousand other unknown feelings."
He spoke much about the country and its effect on people. "Wisdom," he said, "is generally reared among fields and woody places, and when she is nearly grown she wanders into the cities of men, to see if she can not rule there; and then the test really comes. If she is genuine and strong, she says her say and makes her protest, and passes back again, uncontaminated, into the quiet villages, as pure and free as ever. That is the case with genius. But if the spring of her energy is not all her own—is not quite untainted, she parts with her old grace and glory, losing it in hard unloving talk, in selfish intercourse, in striving after the advantages of comfort and wealth. She stays, and is dissipated—she is conformed to the image of the world. That is what happens to mere talent."
The only other conversation with him that impressed itself very distinctly upon my mind was about religion. He had been thinking—so he told me—very deeply about Christianity, its strength and weakness. "Its weakness, nowadays," he said, "is the mistake of confusing it with the principles advocated by any one of the bodies that profess to represent it. When one sees in the world so many bodies—backed by wealth, tradition, prestige—shouting, 'We are the only authorized exponents of Christ's truth; we are the only genuine succession of the apostles;' when we see Churches who claim and make much of possessing the succession (which they have in reality forfeited by secession), and yet demand the right to be heretical if the main stream is, as they say, 'corrupted' (for once introduce that principle, and you can never limit subdivision, and equitable subdivision too)—it is no wonder weaker intellects are confused and distressed, and from their inability to decide between five or six sole possessors of the truth, fall outside teaching and encouragement altogether, though they could have got what they wanted in any of these bodies.
"But, in spite of the hopeless strife of Churches, the fundamental attraction of Christianity for human nature remains every bit as strong—to be able to say to all people, 'Imagine and idealize the best human being possible; put into him all the best qualities of all the best people you have ever known—give him strength, sympathy, power beyond the most powerful on earth, and add to that a great deep individual affection for you yourself, of a kind that is never moved by insults, or chilled by coldness, or diverted by ingratitude;'—say to them, 'And he has been waiting quietly for you for years, for the least sign of affection on your part, never disgusted, never impatient, always ready to turn and welcome you.'
"Think what a hold you establish, saying this, over all people conscious of unhappiness of any kind, over all those refined natures coarsening under a vile entourage, over all unsatisfied hearts craving for a friend that their surroundings can not give them, over all who have lost delight for whatever cause in common familiar things, and have nowhere to turn. When one reflects how many human beings fall under one or other of these heads, one does not wonder at it."
I returned to London, feeling wonderfully refreshed and invigorated, both in body and mind, by my visit. Then, as ever, I could not help feeling a subtle influence in Arthur's conversation and presence, that defied analysis and yet was undoubtedly there. He seemed to encourage one to hope, or rather believe, in the ultimate tendency to good in all things, to wait and watch the developments and the bents of life, rather than to fret over particular events—and this without a vague optimism that refuses to take count of what is unsatisfactory and foul, but looking causes and consequences fairly in the face. "I never quite understood the parable of the tares," he said to me, just before I went, "till I found these words in a book the other day: 'The root of the common darnel (lolium) or dandelion, with saltpeter, make a very cheap and effective sheep-drench. It can be applied successfully in cases of fluke.'"
In October, 1883, as had been arranged, Edward went up to Trinity College, Cambridge. I had a short letter from Arthur telling me. It ended characteristically thus: "I don't in the least care that Edward should be distinguished academically. I do care very much what sort of a character he is. What one does, matters so very much less than how one does it. It is the method, not the thing, which shows what the man is. I shall be very much disgusted if he means to work and doesn't, but merely drifts; whereas, if he is idle on principle, I don't much care. 'Do what you mean to do,' is what I have always told him. If I hear that he is doing fairly well and making friends, and finds himself at home, I shall be content, but nothing more. But if I hear that he is influential and takes his own line, I shall be very much pleased, even if that line is not quite the most respectable, or that influence is not now for the best."
This letter was dated November 1st. On November the 9th, Edward Bruce was killed by a fall from a dog-cart, driving into Cambridge from Ely. He had driven over there with a friend, a pleasant but somewhat reckless man. They had dined at Ely, and were returning in the evening, both in the highest spirits. Edward was driving; the horse took fright, in a little village called Drayton, at a dog that ran across the road. Edward was thrown out on to his head, and, entangled in the reins, was dragged for some distance. The other escaped with a few bruises.
Arthur was acquainted with the terrible news by telegraph. He came up to Cambridge at once, ill and broken with the shock as he was. They told me that he looked terribly pale, but with a quiet self-possessed manner he made all arrangements and settled all bills. The poor boy was buried in the north-west corner of the cemetery at Cambridge. Arthur put up a little tablet to him at Trinity and at St. Uny Trevise.
In Memory of E. B., BORN AT TEHERAN; DIED AT CAMBRIDGE, NOV. 9, 1883. "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter."
Arthur had an interview with Edward's companion on the fatal occasion. I subjoin the latter's account of it. He requested me, when I wrote to him to ask him for some particulars relating to Edward Bruce, to make what use I wished of the letter.
"I can't describe the effect the accident had on me. It half drove me mad, I think. I was very much attached to Edward Bruce, as, indeed, we all were. I don't attempt to condone the fault. It was due entirely to my carelessness. I pressed him to drive faster than he was willing to do. I laughed at his scruples. I whipped the horse on myself. I never clearly knew what happened—for I was stunned myself—till I woke up and was told.
"When Mr. Hamilton came to see me, I was sitting in my room, over my breakfast, which I could not eat. His card was brought in by my gyp, and it made me faint and sick. He came in with his hand out, looking very pale, but smiling just as he used to smile, only more sadly. 'Don't reproach me,' I said; 'I can't bear it.' 'Reproach you!' he said—and I shall never forget the tone of affectionate wonder with which it came, or the relief it was to me to hear it—'Reproach you! I know how you loved him.' I broke down at that, and cried wretchedly. I found him sitting by me. He put his hand on my shoulder and stroked my hair. 'I have only one more thing to say,' he said, at last. 'You will not mind my saying it, will you? Eddy had told me all about you—he was very open with me—that you were not doing justice to your opportunities here, not fulfilling your own ideals and possibilities. All I ask of you is to let this be the impulse to rise; do not let any morbid or fantastic remorse stand in your way, and baffle you. You know that he would have been the first to have forgiven any share of the fault that may be yours. What I wish most earnestly for you—it is what he, if he had lived, would have wished most—is that you should become a nobler man—as you can, I know; as you will, I believe.' I could not speak, or answer him then; but I have tried to do what he begged me. Perhaps you do not know—I hope you do not—what a struggle an attempt to forget is. I could not have believed that a memory could hang so heavily round my neck.
"He wrote to me once after, and sent me Edward's riding-whip and flask. I never saw him again. From what Edward told me, and from the little I saw of him myself, I knew that he was the humblest and gravest of men. In his dealing with me, he showed himself the most truly loving."
I was at Tredennis for a week just after this. At the end of that time he begged me not to stay—he could bear it better alone. My impression was that he was like a man half dazed with grief. He sat very silent, and would do nothing; if he ever spoke, it was with evident effort. He did not appear to be ill, only crushed and overwhelmed. Once he broke down. He was looking over some books, and found a notebook of Edward's, of some subject they had been reading together. Edward had tired of the subject, and the last page was occupied with a pen-and-ink sketch of Arthur himself, the discovery of which, done as it had been during working hours, had been the occasion of some affectionate strictures. He shut the book up quickly, and literally moaned.
Then, after a little, his frosty silence broke up, and he wrote me several letters about his boy, very full and detailed, with numbers of little stories, and ending with a passionate burst of grief at the loss. They are too private for publication.
One very notable one, some six months after, must be given here.
"People talk and write about instantaneous momentary conversions—I never realized what was meant till a week ago. Day after day, all that time, I had been filled with gloomy, reproachful, or bitter thoughts of God and the providence which took Edward from me. It was intolerable that he should be swept away into silence, leaving me so worn and hopeless, and, worst of all, so dissatisfied and discontented with the hand that did it—my vaunted philosophy failing and giving out utterly. I knew it was right, but could not feel it.
"But last night as I sat, as I have so often done, burning and racked with recollection and regret, a kind of peace stole over me. It was quite sudden, quite abnormal; not that afterglow of hope that sometimes follows a dark plunge of despair, but a gentle firm trust that seemed, without explaining, yet to make all things plain; not ebbing and flowing, not changing with physical sensation or mental weariness, but deep, abiding, sustaining. You may think it rash of me thus, after so short an interval, to write so assuredly of it; but even if I lost the sense (and I shall not) the memory of that moment would support me; 'If I go down into hell, thou art there also,' is the only sentence that expresses it.
"But I shall not lose it; it has been with me in many moods—and my moods are many and very variable, as you know. I can't express it in words; but I feel no more doubt about Edward's well-being, no more inclination to fret or murmur, besides an all-embracing and pervading sense of satisfied content that penetrates everywhere and applies itself to everything; those are the chief manifestations.
"It is as if he had come to me himself and whispered that all was well, or, better still, as if the great Power that held both him and me and all men within His grasp, had sent His messenger to strengthen me. My friend, all the struggles and miseries of my life have paled to nothing in the light of this. If this is to be won by suffering, pray that you may suffer; though I feel, indeed, as if I had not earned or deserved a tenth part of it—it is the free gift of God. It is to this that we shall all come."
He still lived at Tredennis; spending much of his time in visiting and talking to the people round about, the cottagers and farmers. He was very weak in the mornings, and mostly read, or often was too feeble even for that; but later in the day his strength used somewhat to revive, and he would walk along the lanes with Flora, now growing older and more sedate, trotting by him. He was known and loved in the circle of the hills. "Oh, sir," as a poor woman said to me, with tears in her eyes, after he was gone, "I can't tell you how it was—he spoke very little of Him—but he seemed to remind me of the Lord Jesus, if I am not wrong to say it, more than all Mr. Robert's sermons or the pictures in the school-house. He was so kind and gentle; he seemed to bring God with him!"
But the end was not far off. He got very much weaker in the spring: he suffered from violent paroxysms of pain, depriving him of sight and power of speech, and wearing him out terribly. On the 21st of April I was telegraphed for; he wished to see me.
I came in the evening; he was conscious, and seemed glad to see me, though he was very weak. He said to me, "When I was at Cambridge, my windows overlooked a space of grass, very evenly green in the spring; but in a hot summer the lines of old foundations and buildings used to come out, burning the grass above them with the heat they retained; it is just the same," he added, "with things that I thought I had forgotten—they come out very truthfully now."
He often spoke to me of his grief that he had never seen Edward's face after he left Tredennis to go to Cambridge, for he had been fearfully disfigured, cut and bruised by the accident, and he had no picture of him; "But perhaps it is because I was too fond of his face," he said.
He had several terrible spasms while I was with him, and the doctor said that if he had such another he could not last out the night. Once, after waking from the prolonged and weary sleep of prostration which used to follow these collapses, he said to me, with a smile, "I saw him."
Once he said, "I have just dreamed of a tall man, who came to me and said, 'You will be surprised when you meet Edward; he is delighting everyone there with his conversation; he is so much wiser; and he has grown so much handsomer," adding, with a smile, "though I still think that an impossibility."
About six o'clock on the morning of the 24th he seemed very uneasy in his sleep. On waking, he said, "I should like to receive the Sacrament."
I confess that I thought that he was wandering; he had given up this religious observance for years. He repeated it, adding, "I am not wandering; I know what I am saying."
I went at once to the rectory. The rector was away, and I was directed to the curate, who lived in the village.
I went straight to him, and made my request. He refused to comply. I will do him the justice to say that he appeared to be profoundly concerned and distressed. "I can't act without my rector in this," he said. "I daren't take the responsibility. He hasn't attended the Communion for years; I know his opinions are distinctly unchristian; and in my last talk to the rector, he confessed to me that if Mr. Hamilton (speaking hypothetically) were to present himself for Communion, he should be obliged to refuse him."
I spoke very hastily, and I think unfairly. Mr. J—— tried to remonstrate, but I would not hear him.
When I came back, Arthur was asleep. As soon as he awoke, before he was quite conscious, he said, "It is like a river; it flows very smoothly, and carries me off my feet; but the sun is on it, and it is very clear."
I told him about the rencontre. He smiled faintly, and said, "Ask him to come and see me, at any rate; he can't refuse that." I sent the message at once.
At nine o'clock he had a fearful spasm; so terrible that I could not endure to see it, and left the room. While I was down-stairs, the curate arrived. He had come of his own accord, bringing the vessels with him. It had been, he pleaded, only a momentary hesitation.
In half an hour I was told that he would like to see us. The doctor was with him; as we entered, he told me, "He can not last an hour." Then, to the curate, "You may begin the service, if you like, though I doubt if he can hear you; he certainly will not be able to receive."
He was very gray about the eyes and temples, and looked fearfully exhausted. His eyes were closed. The curate began in a quiet voice, rather agitated. When he was near the end, Arthur opened his eyes fully and saw him. The curate went forward. Arthur held out his hand. "Thank you for coming," he said.
The curate grasped his hand, and said, "Can you forgive me for not coming at once?"
"You were doing your duty," said Arthur; adding, with a half-smile, "and you are doing it now," as he saw the open book.
Then he began to wander. I heard him say this: "He seems to halt. Yes! but it is only seeming."
Then for ten minutes he was very still. Then he gave an uneasy movement, and half raised himself.
"He is going," said the doctor.
Suddenly he opened his eyes. "All three," he said. They were his last words. The curate began to say a prayer; we none of us interrupted him. There was a convulsive movement, and all was over. The doctor went out. We cried like children by the bed.
I had rather intended to say no more; to let the Life speak for itself. I had imagined that a moral destroyed, rather than enhanced, the effect of a story; that a descriptive catalogue rather interfered with one's appreciation of a picture than otherwise; but a friend to whom I showed my little collection, and to whose opinion I greatly defer, expressed surprise at the abruptness of the close. "You seem to leave the end," he said, "tangled and unravelled; one wants the threads just gathered together again." So I will try and discharge this task.
The difficulty is not to arrive at a deterministic theory of life for most men. Anyone who will take things as he finds them, and fairly come to a conclusion about them, not hampered by fetters of authority or tradition, but independently arriving at his own solution, must inevitably arrive at this; there is no logical escape. But the difficulty lies in the application of this determinism to life. So many people persist in saying that it is only a logical account of the existence of the world, only an ontological solution, not a life-philosophy. The best man, who can not confute it, only says mournfully that it will not do for an ethical system; nothing good can come out of it in practice.
The writer is one of those who believe that truth, however painful, is essentially practical. That truth when seen must be applied, must be worked out into life, is his cherished idea. But he, as much as anyone, has felt the usual (alas!) and bitter consequences of determinism; has seen the victim of the thought sit, as it were, with his hands tied; has seen the determinist sink into temporary fatalism, and has seen effort relaxed and ideals growing hourly dim.
He was beginning to suffer in this manner himself when, at Cambridge, he met Arthur; and met in him not only an inspiring acquaintance, an encouraging friend, but a man who was far ahead of him on the same path where he had only ventured to imprint a few trembling footsteps, and then draw back appalled at the sombre prospect. Arthur was like one further up the pass, who had turned a corner, so to speak, and saw the road plain.
He found a thoroughgoing determinist who was still faithful to the voice of duty, still striving upwards; he found that his theories, far from giving him a sense of gloom and hopelessness, rather bestowed on him a frank expectant habit of soul; a readiness to weigh circumstances, however small, to overlook nothing as trivial or common; and a serene trust in an invisible all-ruling Father ([Greek: pantokrator], as he used to say), who really was ordering the world in the smallest details when He seemed to be ordering it least, and who wished the best for His children—far better than they had insight to wish for themselves, and who thus could be trusted not to be inflicting any useless blow, any meaningless torment, even when things looked blackest and the world most unintelligible.
I do not maintain that Arthur never flagged or swerved from this; the letter on page 164 will show it was far otherwise: but this was his deliberate habit of mind; this was the ideal that he was faithful to, with all allowances for a humanity, and a humanity sorely tried.
He was an ambitious man by nature; I am sure of that: that he conquered. He was indolent by nature, averse to detail, and motion, and change: that he conquered by deliberate rough travel. He disliked new people: that he set himself to conquer. In the prime of his life, being of a nature to which health and ordinary enjoyments of life were very delightful and precious, death was suddenly and hopelessly set before him; he loved and was disappointed; and the one charge that was given him, the education of his friend's boy, was overwhelmed and ended in a moment by a little act of boyish carelessness. Keenly sensitive to physical pain, the last years of his life were racked with it, every week, almost every day.
Such are the materials of a life. Apparently self-regarding in idea, and prematurely cut short in fact, it has left results on a small circle of friends that will never die. And why?
Because, in spite of every trial and every rebuff, he preserved at heart a serenity that was not thoughtlessness, a cheerfulness that was not hilarity, a humour that was not cynicism. The biographer has thought fit to give expression to his darkest hours, and they were not few; they may appear in the life to have the preponderance, but he would not cut them out. No life is inspiriting that is not occasionally weak and faulty. What would David be without his sins; Peter, without his fall? There was no depth of the despairing spirit, I say it deliberately, that Arthur had not sounded—and he had not been, as it were, lowered—deaf, blind, and unconscious—into the abysmal deeps; it was with an eye alert to mark every ledge of the dark walls, an ear quick to catch the smallest murmur from below, a sense keen to experience and record every new depth gained, every qualm of heart-sickness encountered. Naturally prone to serious contemplation of life's enigmas, there was not one that life did not bring with shocking vividness to his touch.
Further, I believe that some will be found to say, "The teaching of this life is so selfish; it is all self-contemplation, miserable self-weariness, gloomy reveries bounded by the narrowest horizons. If ever he turns to others' evil case, it is with the melancholy satisfaction of the hypochondriac, who finds his own symptoms repeated with less or greater variations in others' cases." To these I could only reply, "You have totally misunderstood the life. It is not a selfish one. The deepest self-communings are necessary to one who would know human nature, because self is the only human creature that can be known with a perfect intimacy. 'No one but yourself can tell,' as Arthur once wrote to me, 'what ruled the lines in your face.'" But Arthur, above all others that I have ever known, had passed from the particular to the general. Plato's praise of love was based on the principle that the philosopher passed from the love of one fair form to the love of abstract beauty. The fault is that so many never pass the initiation. Arthur did cross the threshold; he passed from the contemplation of his own suffering to the consideration of the root of all human suffering. He found his best comfort in doing all he could (and God allowed him little latitude) to alleviate the sufferings of others. I have letters from various of his friends, dealing, with his firm and faithful touch, with crisis after crisis in their lives. No one who had trusted him with his confidence once, ever shrank from doing it again. I am forced to admit that, far more than many of his authorized brethren, he discharged the priestly office. He was self-constituted, or rather called, to be a priest of God.
The great mystery of effectiveness he never solved, I think, quite to his own satisfaction. His life has solved it for me ever since I was able to regard it en masse. It was a great puzzle to him what to make, for instance, of infants who died at or before birth. "'Saved from this wicked world' is such a horrible statement in such cases," he used to say. "If that is the best that can happen to us, what can we make of life?" And so he was always very urgent about the influence of example opposed to the influence of precept. "My father," he said to me, "once spoke to me rather sharply about not attending at family prayers. He did not attend very closely himself. I was an observant boy, and I knew it. The very fact that he should have noticed me proved it. So all I felt was that prayer didn't matter really, but that, however I felt, I must behave as if I was devout; whereas, if he had prayed in rapt fervency, unconscious of anything, I should have been ashamed, I think, to wander. I should have perceived the beauty of prayer. Ah, my dear friend," he added, "never speak to a child about a thing unless you know you always do it yourself, and even then with extreme and tender caution."
Acting then, on this principle, he did not give us lectures and rules: but we saw how a man was meeting life, not shirking any of its problems, and beset by most of its trials. And we wondered what was the secret spring of his well-being; and when we came to examine it, we were amazed to find that it was in the strength of principles resulting from a rigid and logical classification of phenomena.
So much is said nowadays about the dissidence of the spiritual and intellectual worlds. Many people, conscious of intellect, are yet strangely at sea when they are told of their spiritual side. There appears to be nothing within them answering to that description. There are, indeed, certain qualities or characteristics, but those seem not to exist independent of their intellectual and physical economies, but to permeate both. They do not understand that what is meant is the faculty of emotional generalization. That they could understand. Arthur arrived at his principles purely through logical methods and intellectual operations. He could not, he often confessed, separate the intellectual and the spiritual. From some expressions, however, which dropped from him in a letter, part of which is given on p. 209, I am vaguely aware that he was reconsidering that point (and it has been suggested to me that such an explanation will suit his last words); but, in any case, he was of the greatest possible comfort to us who knew him, because he was an instance (the only one) of a man who had arrived at his principles from a purely intellectual basis.
And let me, finally, correct the impression, if I have by chance, in developing this latter point, given any colour to the idea that his character was hard, logical, unaffectionate, unloving. Arthur was the tenderest, most sympathetic, most loving soul I have ever met; nothing else would explain his influence. He was not demonstrative, and was often misunderstood. His tendency was to dissimulate the strongest of his feelings. Yet I have seen him turn red and pale at the sight of a letter in the handwriting of a friend he loved; I have seen him literally tremble with emotion when Edward Bruce, in his impulsive boyish way, would, with eager demonstrative affection, throw his arm round his neck, or take his hand. The tears gather in my eyes as I write, when I recall a few words of his a few days before he died, when he called me to him. It was after one of those terrible paroxysms of pain. He was very white and feeble, but smiling. He took my hand, and said, "What a wonderful thing it is that pain takes away one's power of thinking of anything except people. It hurries one away, somewhere, deep, deep down; yet one can bear to touch the bottom. But when loving anyone carries one away, one goes down deeper and deeper, and yet feels that there is a fathomless gulf beyond."