Martin Tupper's Autobiography
AS AN AUTHOR
MARTIN FARQUHAR TUPPER D.C.L. F.R.S.
Viri, vivo, vivam.
LONDON: SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, SEARLE, & RIVINGTON CROWN BUILDINGS, 188 FLEET STREET, E.C. 1886
[All rights reserved]
CHAPTER I. Page Preliminary—Sonnet—Public Life, not Private—Benjamin Franklin—Samples from Books—Self-judgment 1-6
Infancy and Schooldays—Parentage—Germany and Guernsey, America and Canada—Winsor's Patent Gaslights—King George III.'s Blessing—My Father's Dream—Second Sight—Heredity—First School at Brentford—Next at Brook Green—Third Charterhouse—Dr. Russell—Parson Schoolmasters—Coins and Hoops—Andrew Irvine—Cockshies—Harpies at the Feast—Dr. Stocker—Holt's—M'Neile—Harold Browne 7-25
Young Authorship in Verse and Prose—Melite—Rough Rhymes—Carthage—Umbrella Sapphics—Height of Honesty—Holkar Hall—Melrose Abbey—Heidelberg—Pterodactyles—The Buckstone—Scotch Journal—Vitrified Forts—Ireland—Kingston Caverns—Cornish Letter and Sketches—Penzance—The Logan—Land's End—St. Michael's Mount—Rapid Travel 26-51
College Days—Voice from the Cloister—Gladstone—Aristotle Class—Giants in those Days—Studentship—A Reading-Man—College Larks—D.C.L.—Dr. Bliss 52-61
Failure as to Orders—Stammering—Blewbury Vicarage—Lincoln's Inn—Lewin's Critique—Brodie's Cacography—Inkpen's Entomology—Duke of Wellington—Walters'—Letter as to India—Barrister and Benedict—A Hoax—Theodore Hook—Old Lady Cork 62-71
Stammering—Man's Privilege of Speech—Chess Playing—Anecdotes—Angling—Fishing Sonnets 72-78
Oxford Prize Poems—Verses in the Schools—Parodies—Rhyme and Rhythm—Scriptural Science—Classic Parallels 79-85
Sundry Providences—The Small Semisuicide—A Concussion—Horse Accidents—Perils by Land and Sea—Lydstep Cavern 86-89
Yet more Escapes—White Cross Guild—Evils and Temptations—Potipheras—Heresies—Creeds 90-94
Fads and Fancies—Vegetarian—Teetotalism—The Anglo-Saxon—Opera Colonnade—Moderation—America Revisited—Poem on Temperance and Total Abstinence—Gough—Dr. Hodgkin—A Martyr—Clerical Letter on Pharisaism 95-104
Sacra Poesis—Geraldine—Critiques—John and Tom Hughes—Donnington Priory—Little Providences 105-110
Origin of "Proverbial Philosophy"—M'Neile and Stebbing—N.P. Willis—Harrison Ainsworth—Hatchard's—Moxon's—Cassell's—A Prophecy—My Father's Letter and Gift—Sixty Times—Politeuphuia—Parallels—Mr. Orton's Volume—American Laudations, and English—As to per contra—Copyright Question—Wedding Gifts—An Elizabethan Author—Seldom Seen, and Few Adventures 111-133
A Modern Pyramid—The Vision—A Fearful Flight—Imagination—The Crystal Cubes and Mud Bricks—Sonnets and Sonneteering—Mackay and Shakespeare's 134-144
An Author's Mind—Prefatory Ramble—Addled Eggs—The Mental Cathedral—Probabilities—Job's Trials 145-152
The Crock of Gold—Dramatised in Boston and London—Origin of the Story—The Twins—Heart: drawn from Living Models—Critiques from Ollier and St. John 153-158
AEsop Smith—Mudie's—Rabelaisian Hints—The Early Gallop—Alfred, or Albert Order—Fables 159-162
Stephan Langton—King Alfred's Poems—The Silent Pool—Hard Reading for the History—The Book still in Print—Curious Metrical Translation of Anglo-Saxon Poetry—The Jubilee at Wantage and at Liverpool 163-169
Shakespeare Commemoration—Lord Carlisle—Lord Houghton, Leigh Court—Stratford Church—The Baptismal Font—An American Autograph Hunter—Sonnet 170-172
Translations and Pamphlets—Homer, lib. A.—Tennyson's Vivien—Classical Versions—Hymn for All Nations—Protestant Ballads—Fifteen Pamphlets 173-179
Paterfamilias's Diary—Courier Pierre—Devil's Bridge—Major Hely—Guernsey—The Haro that saved Castle Cornet—Night-Sail in the Race of Alderney—Durham's Statue of Prince Albert—Isle of Man—King Orry—Walter Montgomery—Bishop Powys 180-189
Never Give Up, at Dr. Kirkland's—Harvest Hymns—Gordon Ballads—The Good Earl—John Brown—My Brother—Memory—Evil not Endless 190-199
Protestant Ballads—"So help me, God!"—Nun's Appeal, &c. 200-203
Plays—Alfred—Raleigh—Washington—Twelve Scenes—Family Records 204-207
Antiquariana—Lockhart and my Coin Article in the Quarterly—Farley Finds—Mummy Wheat and Faraday 208-212
Honours—Times' Letter—A Peerage and Baronetcy—Prussian Medal and Chevalier Bunsen's Letter—Authorship a Rank by Itself—Many Inventions and Literary Discoveries, as Punch, Humpty Dumpty, 666, &c. 213-220
Courtly: Prophetic Sonnet on our Empress—Many Royal Poems—Modern Court Suit v. Queen Anne's—A Greeting to Prince Albert Victor 221-228
F.R.S.—Lord Melbourne's Carelessness—Spectrum Analysis—Spiritualism—Vivisection—Painted Windows—Parabolic Teaching 229-233
Personation—Bignor—The Greyhound—Alibis—A Rescue on Snowdon—Fraudulent Collections—Forged Authorials—Boston Unitarianism—Pictures Falsely Signed 234-237
Hospitalities—Farnham Castle—Orchids and Pines—Bishop Sumner—Garibaldi at Gladstone's—Parham and Curzon—Ghosts—Purple Parchments—Uncut Elzevirs—Shenstone's Leasowes—"Little Testy"—Sonnet—Isle of Wight—Sojourns—City Feasts—Ostentatious Hospitality 238-244
Social and Rural—No Scandals—Hawthorne's Visit—Alexander Smith's—Jerdan's Haycock—Otto Goldschmidt and Macdougall—Dark Visitors—Liberian Gold Medal—Noviomagians—Lucky Angling—Albury Waltz—Rustic Stupidity—Redmen—The Drinking Fountain—Our House a Hive of Bees—Foxhunt in Drawing-room—The Donkey Burglar—Anthony Devis—Irvingism 245-256
American Ballads: "Ho, Brother! I'm a Britisher"—The Quasi-Inspiration—"Thirty Noble Nations," and Thirty-three—Many Others—Ground-baiting the Transatlantic 257-259
First American Visit—Too Temperate for 1851; not Temperate enough for 1876—Grand Dinner at Baltimore, and Great Speech—The Astor Dinner—"Amice Davis"—Mayor Kingsland and the Mile-long Procession—Willis, at Golden Square—The Fillmore Dinner at the White House—Jenny Lind's Concert—Gordon Bennet—Squier—Barnum 260-270
Second American Visit—Extreme Gold—Talmage—Bryant—Cooper—"Immortality" at the Tabernacle—Lotus Club—Lord Rosebery—Dr. Levis—Mr. Pettit's Portrait—The Listers at Hamilton—Toronto—Sir Charles Tupper—Elgin—Dufferin—Mackay and Sleighing—Dawson and Eozoa—Vaughan-Tuppers—The Grand John Hopkins' Banquet—Charleston Tuppers—My Palinode to the South—Visit to Williams Middleton—Parting Stanzas—Ruined Mansion—Valete 271-280
English and Scotch Readings, very rapid, from Isle of Wight to Peterhead—My Entrepreneur D.: his Experiences: I Failed with Him, but Succeeded Alone—Specimen of Readings—Local Critiques—Many Friends Unrecorded—Miscellaneous Poems—Mr. Gall's Primeval Man—Arbroath—Mill the Atheist—Mr. Boyd's Piety—Hamilton Mausoleum—Wild Cattle—Burns's Country—James Baird the Millionaire and the Hodman 281-288
Electrics—Sir Culling Eardley at Erith—Atlantic Telegraph—The First Message—Meddlesome Revisers—Antique Telegraphy—Addison and Strada—Professor Morse—A Telegram-Sonnet 289-295
The Rifle, a Patriotic Prophecy in 1845—Early Pamphlet—Defence not Defiance—Albury Club—Blackheath Review—Lord Lovelace—Alarums—Drummond's Scare—A Lucky Shot 296-303
Autographs and Advertisements—Worth Eighteenpence each—A Hundred at Once—Photographs—Oil Paintings—Locks of Hair—Interviewers—Puffs and Anti-puffs 304-311
Kindness to Animals—Louis Napoleon and Alfort—Vivisection—Pontrilas Court—The Omnibus Hack—Divers Ballads 312-315
Orkney and Shetland—Our Voyage—Wick Herring Fair—Balfour at Shapinshay—Kirkwall—Aytoun—Gulf Stream—Snuff-Boxes and Corals—Fair Isle Hosiery—Stennis—Scalloway—Lerwick Literature—Artificial Flora—Thurso Castle—Robert Dick—Cape Wrath—Stornoway—Callanish—Pipers—The brooch of Lorne, &c. 316-321
Literary Friends—Mrs. Somerville, Miss Granville, Mrs. Jameson, Mrs. Beecher Stowe, Ouida, Miss Braddon, Mrs. Carter Hall, Mrs. Grote, Lady Wilde, Miss Mackay, Rogers, Carlyle, Haweis, Tennyson, Browning, Mortimer Collins, Dickens and Son, Owen, Austen, Pengelley, Bowerbank, S. Mackenzie, M. Arnold, S. Brooks, Albert Smith, Mark Lemon, Tenniel, Cooper, P.B. Cole, E. Yates, Frank Smedley, J.G. Wood, Cuthbert Collingwood, Mr. and Mrs. Zerffi, Birch, Miss Hooper, Miss Barlee, G. MacDonald, Ronald Gower, Fred. Burnaby, Charles Marvin—A Diner-Out—A Mormon Guest—Apostles—Frank's Ranche—Twelve Anecdotes—Thackeray and Leech, Longfellow, C. Kingsley, Ainsworth, Lord Elgin 322-350
Some Older Friendships—Nightingale, and Farley Heath—Walter Hawkins—His Tomb—Anchor—Anagrams—Christmas Largesse—Sham Antiques—Joseph Durham—Alice's Statue—"Sir Joe" and the Noviomagians—Prince Albert at St. Peter's Port—Baroness Barnekow—Swedish Proverbial—King Oscar's Poems—Geo. Metivier—French Proverbial—John Sullivan—Canon Jenkins—Barnes, De Chatelain, De Pontigny—Correspondents, &c. 351-362
Political—A Dark Horse—No Party-Man—Gladstone—Ambidextrous Stanzas—Liberal and Tory—The One-Vote System—Fancy Franchises—The Voter's Motto—Fair Trade v. Free Trade—Radically Conservative—Strikes, &c. 363-372
A Cure for Ireland—Racial Difficulties—The Unsunned Corner—AEsop Smith's Prescription—An Irish Balmoral in 1858—My Anti Celtic Ballads—Adventures 373-379
Some Spiritist Experiences—Not a Spiritualist, but an Honest Recorder of Facts—Alexis—Howell—Vernon's Mesmerised Child—Mrs. Cora Tappan—Chauncey Townsend's Book—Spirit-Drawings—Planchette—Showers of Flowers, and Sugar-Plums, and Pearls—Mr. Home—Prayer before Seance—The Table in the Air—Live Coals in My Hand—The Vitalised Accordion—The Colonel's Ghost—Iamblicus—Query Electrical Influence—Our Mysterious Key—Miss Hudson—Thought-Reading 380-399
Fickle Fortune—Losses and Failures—Testimonial—"L'espoir est ma force"—My Levee in 1851—The Missed Codicil—Life and Death 400-403
Henry De Beauvoir, killed in Africa—Archdeacon Kitton—Our Old Chancery Suit: A Lost Fortune—Belgravian Five Fields, another Missed Chance—Earl Grosvenor 404-407
Flying: my Lecture at the Royal Aquarium with Fred. Burnaby as Chairman—Henry Middleton's Invention—De Lisle Hay's "Conquest of the Air"—Ezekiel's Angels—Ovid, and Tennyson—Claude Hamilton—Extracts 408-412
Luther—The Peroration as to his Life and Exploits—Anniversary Stanzas, in many Languages—Bullinger's Music—Wycliffe Ballad—Wondrous Parallel 413-416
Final—Whatever is, is Right—Sick-bed Repentance—Intuitions—What We Shall Be—Protest Against Atheism—The Infinities—A Childlike Hymn—Eternal Hope—Mercy for Ever—The Assurance of Ovid 417-431
MY LIFE AS AN AUTHOR.
I have often been asked to prepare an autobiography, but my objections to the task have ever been many and various. To one urgent appeal I sent this sonnet of refusal, which explains itself:—
"You bid me write the story of my life, And draw what secrets in my memory dwell From the dried fountains of her failing well, With commonplaces mixt of peace and strife, And such small facts, with good or evil rife, As happen to us all: I have no tale Of thrilling force or enterprise to tell,— Nothing the blood to fire, the cheek to pale: My life is in my books: the record there, A truthful photograph, is all I choose To give the world of self; nor will excuse Mine own or others' failures: glad to spare From blame of mine, or praise, both friends and foes, Leaving unwritten what God only knows."
In fact I always rejected the proposal (warned by recent volumes of pestilential reminiscences) and would none of it; not only from its apparent vainglory as to the inevitable extenuation of one's own faults and failures in life, and the equally certain amplification of self-registered virtues and successes,—but even still more from the mischief it might occasion from a petty record of commonplace troubles and trials, due to the "changes and chances of this mortal life," to the casual mention or omission of friends or foes, to the influence of circumstances and surroundings, and to other revelations—whether pleasant or the reverse—of matters merely personal, and therefore more of a private than a public character.
Indeed, so disquieted was I at the possible prospect of any one getting hold of a mass of manuscript in old days diligently compiled by myself from year to year in several small diaries, that I have long ago ruthlessly made a holocaust of the heap of such written self-memories, fearing their posthumous publication; and in this connection let me now add my express protest against the printing hereafter of any of my innumerable private letters to friends, or other MSS., unless they are strictly and merely of a literary nature.
Biography, where honest and true, is no doubt one of the most fascinating and instructive phases of literature; but it requires a higher Intelligence than any (however intimate) friend of a man to do it fairly and fully; so many matters of character and circumstance must ever be to him unknown, and therefore will be by him unrecorded. And even as to autobiography, who, short of the Omniscient Himself, can take into just account the potency of outward surroundings, and still more of inborn hereditary influences, over both mind and body? the bias to good or evil, and the possession or otherwise of gifts and talents, due very much (under Providence) to one's ancient ancestors and one's modern teachers? We are each of us morally and bodily the psychical and physical composite of a thousand generations. Albeit every individual possesses as his birthright a freewill to turn either to the right or to the left, and is liable to a due responsibility for his words and actions, still the Just Judge alone can and must make allowance for the innate inclinings of heredity and the outward influences of circumstance, and He only can hold the balance between the guilt and innocence, the merit or demerit, of His creature.
So far as my own will goes, I leave my inner spiritual biography to the Recording Angel, choosing only to give some recollections and memories of my outer literary life. For spiritual self-analysis in matters of religion and affection I desire to be as silent as I can be; but in such a book as this absolute taciturnity on such subjects is practically impossible.
For the matter, then, of autobiography, I decline its higher and its deeper aspects; as also I wish not to obtrude on the public eye mere domesticities and privacies of life. But mainly lest others less acquainted with the petty incidents of my career should hereafter take up the task, I accede with all frankness and humility to what seems to me like a present call to duty, having little time to spare at seventy-six, so near the end of my tether,—and protesting, as I well may, against the charge of selfish egotism in a book necessarily spotted on every page with the insignificant letter I; and while, of course on human-nature principles, willing enough to exhibit myself at the best, promising also not to hide the second best, or worse than that, where I can perceive it.
That shrewd old philosopher, Benjamin Franklin, thus excuses his own self-imposed task of "autobiography," and I cannot do better than quote and adopt his wise and just remarks:—
"In thus employing myself, I shall yield to the inclination so natural to old men, of talking of themselves and their own actions, and I shall indulge it without being tiresome to those who, from respect to my age, might conceive themselves obliged to listen to me, since they will always be free to read me or not. And (I may as well confess it, as the denial would be believed by nobody) I shall, perhaps, not a little gratify my own vanity. Indeed, I never heard or saw the introductory words, 'Without vanity I may say,' &c., but some vain thing immediately followed. Most people dislike vanity in others, whatever share they may have of it themselves; but I give it fair quarter wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of good to the possessor, and to others who are within his sphere of action; and therefore, in many cases, it would not be altogether absurd if a man were to thank God for his vanity among the other comforts of life.
"And now I speak of thanking God, I desire, with all humility, to acknowledge that I attribute the happiness of my past life to His divine providence, which led me to the means I used, and gave the success. My belief of this induces me to hope, though I must not presume, that the same goodness will still be exercised towards me in continuing that happiness or enabling me to bear a fatal reverse, which I may experience as others have done; the complexion of my future fortune being known to Him only in whose power it is to bless us, even in our afflictions."
Thus speaketh the honest wisdom of Benjamin Franklin.
* * * * *
I do not see that a better plan can be chosen for carrying out the title of this book than the one I have adopted, namely, tracing from the earliest years to old age the author's literary lifework, illustrated by accounts of, and specimens from, his various books and writings, especially those which are absolutely out of print, or, haply have never been published. No doubt, in such excerpts, exhibited at their best, the critical accusations of unfairness, self-seeking, and so forth, will be made, and may be met by the true consideration that something of this sort is inevitable in autobiography. However, for the matter of vanity, all I know of myself is the fact that praise, if consciously undeserved, only depresses me instead of elating; that a noted characteristic of mine through life has been to hide away in the rear rather than rush to the front, unless, indeed, forced forward by duty, when I can be bold enough, if need be; and that one defect in me all know to be a dislike to any assumption of dignity—surely a feeling the opposite to self-conceit; whilst, if I am not true, simple, and sincere, I am worse than I hope I am, and all my friends are deceived in their kind judgment of me.
But let this book speak for itself; I trust it is honest, charitable, and rationally religious. If I have (and I show it through all my writings) a shrinking from priestcraft of every denomination, that feeling I take to be due to some ancient heredity ingrained, or, more truly, inburnt into my nature from sundry pre-Lutheran confessors and martyrs of old, from whom I claim to be descended, and by whose spirit I am imbued. Not but that I profess myself broad, and wide, and liberal enough for all manner of allowances to others, and so far as any narrow prejudices may be imagined of my idiosyncrasy, I must allow myself to be changeable and uncertain—though hitherto having steered through life a fairly straight course—and that sometimes I can even doubt as to my politics, whether they should be defined Whig or Tory; as to my religion, whether it is most truly chargeable by the epithet high or low; as to my likings, whether I best prefer solitude or society; as to literature, whether gaieties or gravities please me most. In fact, I recognise good in everything, though sometimes hidden by evil, right (by intention, at least) in sundry doctrines and opinions otherwise to my judgment wrong, and I am willing to believe the kindliest of my opponents who appear to be honest and earnest. This is a very fair creed for a citizen of the world, whose motto is Terence's famous avowal, "Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto."
INFANCY AND SCHOOLDAYS.
In a short and simple way, then, and without any desire ostentatiously to "chronicle small beer," as Iago sneers it, I suppose it proper to state very briefly when and where I was born, with a word as to my parentage. July 17, 1810, was my birthday, and No. 20 Devonshire Place, Marylebone, my birthplace, at that time the last house of London northward. My father, Martin Tupper, a name ever honoured by me, was an eminent medical man, who twice refused a baronetcy (first from Lord Liverpool, and secondly, as offered by the Duke of Wellington); my mother, Ellin Devis Marris, being daughter of Robert Marris, a good landscape artist, of an old Lincolnshire family, and made the heiress, as adopted child, of her aunt, Mrs. Ellin Devis, of Devonshire Place and Albury.
My father's family have sojourned 336 years in Guernsey, having migrated thither from Thuringia, via Hesse Cassel, owing to religious persecution in the evil days of Charles V., our remote ancestors being styled Von Topheres (chieftains, or head-lords) of Treffurth (as is recorded in the heraldic MSS. of the British Museum), that being the origin of our name.
Of my mother's family (in old time Maris, as "of the sea," with mermaids for heraldry), I have the commissions of one who was an Ironside cavalry officer, signed by Cromwell and Fairfax; and several of her relatives (besides her father) were distinguished artists. In particular, her uncle (my wife's father), Arthur William Devis, the well-known historical painter, and her great-uncle, Anthony Devis, who filled Albury House with his landscapes.
Some of our old German stock crossed the Atlantic in Puritan times, and many of the name have attained wealth and position both in Canada and the United States; notably Sir Charles Tupper northwards, and sundry rich merchants in New York, Virginia, and the Carolines southwardly.
Of my infancy let me record that I "enjoyed" very delicate health, chiefly due, as I now judge, to the constant cuppings and bleedings whereby "the faculty" of those days combated teething fits, and (perhaps with Malthusian proclivities) killed off young children. I remember, too, that the broad meadows, since developed into Regent's Park and Primrose Hill, then "truly rural," and even up to Chalk Farm, then notorious for duels, were my nursery ramblings in search of cowslips and new milk. Also, that once at least in those infantile days, my father took me to see Winsor's Patent Gaslights at Carlton House, and how he prognosticated the domestic failure of so perilous an explosive, more than one blowing-up having carelessly occurred.
* * * * *
Another infantile recollection is memorable, as thus. My father's annual holiday happened one year to be at Bognor, where a patron patient of his, Lord Arran, rented a pleasant villa, and he had for a visitor at the time no less a personage than George the Third: it must have been during some lucid interval, perhaps after the Great Thanksgiving at St. Paul's. My father took his little boy with him to call upon the Earl, not thinking to see the King; but when we came in there was his kind-hearted Majesty, who patted my curls and gave me his blessing! How far the mysterious efficacy of the royal touch affected my after career believers in the divine rights and spiritual powers of a king may speculate as they please. At all events I got a good man's blessing.
I remember also in my nursery days to have heard this curious story of a dream. My father, when a young man, was a student at Guy's Hospital, from which school of medicine he went to Yarmouth to attend the wounded after the battle of Copenhagen. He was on one occasion leaving Guernsey for Southampton in the clumsy seagoing smack of those days, when, on the night before embarking, he dreamt that on his way to the harbour he crossed the churchyard and fell into an open grave. Telling this to his parents at "The Pollet," they would not let him go, with a sort of superstitious wisdom; for, strangely enough, the smack was seized on its voyage by a privateer, and all the crew and passengers were consigned—for twelve years—to a French prison! I have heard my father tell this tale, and noted early how true was Dr. Watts' awkward line, "On little things what great depend." I might say more about warnings in dreams and other somnolencies, whereof we all have experiences. For instance, my "Dream of Ambition" in Proverbial Philosophy was a real one. And this reminds me now of another like sort of spiritual monition alluded to in my Proverbial Essay on "Truth in Things False," which has several times occurred to myself, as this, for example: Years ago, in Devonshire, for the first time, I was on the top of a coach passing through a town—I think it was Crediton—and I had the strange feeling that I had seen all this before: now, we changed horses just on this side of a cross street, and I resolved within myself to test the truth of the place being new to me or not, by prophesying what I should see right and left as we passed; to my consternation it was all as I had foreseen,—a market-place with the usual incidents. Now, if reasonably asked how to account for this (and most of us have felt the like), I reply that possibly in an elevated state of health and spirits the soul may outrun the body, and literally foresee coming events both real and ideal. But we must leave this to the Psychical Society for a judgment upon the famous Horatian philosophy of "more things in heaven and earth," &c.
* * * * *
On Mr. Galton's topic of hereditary talent I have little to report as to myself. Neither father nor mother had any leanings either towards verse or prose; but my mother was an excellent pianiste and a fair landscape painter both in oils and water-colour; also she drew and printed on stone, and otherwise showed that she came of an artistic family. As to my father's surroundings, his brother Peter, a consul-general in Spain, wrote a tragedy called Pelayo; and I possess half-a-dozen French songs, labelled by my father "in my late dear father's handwriting," but whether or not original, I cannot tell. As a Guernseyman, he might well be as much French as English. They seem to me clever and worthy of Beranger, though long before him: possibly they are my grandsire's. A very fair judge of French poetry, and himself a good Norman poet, Mr. John Sullivan of Jersey writes and tells me that the songs are excellent, and that he remembers them to have been popularly sung when he was a boy.
About the matter of hereditary bias itself, we know that as with animals so with men, "fortes creantur fortibus, et bonis;" this so far as bodies are concerned; but surely spirits are more individual, as innumerable instances prove, where children do not take after their parents. If, however, I may mention my own small experience of this matter, literary talent, or at all events authorship, is hereditary, especially in these days of that general epidemic, the "cacoethes scribendi."
* * * * *
I wrote this paper following originally for an American publication; and as I cannot improve upon it, and it has never been printed in England, I produce it here in its integrity.
A true and genuine record of what English schools of the highest class were more than sixty-five years ago cannot fail to have much to interest the present generation on both sides of the Atlantic; if only because we may now indulge in the self-complacency of being everyway wiser, better, and happier than our recent forebears. And in setting myself to write these early revelations, I wish at once to state that, although at times necessarily naming names (for the too frequent use of dashes and asterisks must otherwise destroy the verisimilitude of plain truth-telling), I desire to say nothing against or for either the dead or the living beyond their just deserts, and I protest against any charge of unreasonable want of charity as to my whilom "schools and schoolmasters." It is true that sometimes I loved them not, neither can I in general respect their memory; but the causes of such a feeling on my part shall be made manifest anon, and I am sure that modern parents and guardians will rejoice that much of my childhood's hard experience has not been altogether that of their own boys.
I was sent to school much too soon, at the early age of seven, having previously had for my home tutor a well-remembered day-teacher in "little Latin and less Greek" of the name of Swallow, whom I thought a wit and a poet in those days because one morning he produced as an epitaph on himself the following effusion:
"Beneath this stone a Swallow lies, No one laughs and no one cries; Where he is gone or how he fares No one knows and no one cares."
At this time of day I suspect this epigram not to be quite original, but it served to give me for the nonce a high opinion of the pundit who read with me Cornelius Nepos and Caesar and some portions of that hopeless grammar, the Eton Greek, in the midst of his hard-breathing consumption of perpetual sandwiches and beer.
The first school chosen for me (though expensive, there could not have been a worse one) was a large mixed establishment for boys of all ages, from infancy to early manhood, belonging to one Rev. Dr. Morris of Egglesfield House, Brentford Butts, which I now judge to have been conducted solely with a view to the proprietor's pocket, without reference to the morals, happiness, or education of the pupils committed to his care. All I care to remember of this false priest (and there were many such of old, whatever may be the case now) are his cruel punishments, which passed for discipline, his careful cringing to parents, and his careless indifference towards their children, and in brief his total unfitness for the twin duties of pastor and teacher. A large private school of mixed ages and classes is perilously liable to infection from licentious youths left to themselves and their evil propensities, and I can feelingly recollect how miserable for nearly a year was that poor little helpless innocent of seven under the unrestricted tyranny of one Cooke (in after years a life convict for crime) who did all he could to pollute the infant mind of the little fag delivered over to his cruelty. Cowper's Tirocinium well expresses the situation:—
"Would you your son should be a sot or dunce, Lascivious, headstrong, or all these at once, Train him in public with a mob of boys, Childish in mischief only and in noise, Else of a mannish growth and, five in ten, For infidelity and lewdness, men."
My next school was more of a success; for Eagle House, Brookgreen, where I was from eight to eleven, had for its owner and headmaster a most worthy and excellent layman, Joseph Railton. Mr. Railton was gentle, though gigantic, fairly learned, just and kindly. His school produced, amongst others eminent, the famous naval author Kingston, well known from cabin-boy to admiral; there was also Lord Paulet, some others of noble birth, and the two Middletons, nick-named Yankees, whom years after I visited at their ruined mansion in South Carolina after the Confederate War. Through the personal good influence of honest "Old Joe," and his middle-aged housekeeper, Mrs. Jones, our whole well-ordered company of perhaps a hundred boys lived and learned, worked and played purely, and happily together: so great a social benefactor may a good school chieftain be.
I have little to regret in my Brook Green recollections; the annual fair was memorable with Richardson's show and Gingel's conjuring, and the walks for mild cricketing at Shepherd's Bush, and the occasional Sundays at home; and how pleasant to a schoolboy was the generous visitor who tipped him, a good action never forgotten; and the garden with its flowering tulip-tree, and the syringas and rose-trees jewelled with the much-prized emerald May-bugs; for the whole garden was liberally thrown open to us beyond the gravelled playground; all being now given over to monks and nuns. Then I recollect how a rarely-dark annular eclipse of the sun convulsed the whole school, bringing smoked glass to a high premium; and there was a notable boy's library of amusing travels and stories, all eagerly devoured; and old Phulax the house-dog, and good Mr. Whitmore an usher, who gave a certain small boy a diamond prayer-book, greatly prized then, though long since lost, and suitably inscribed for him "Parvum parva decent;" and the speech days, wherein the same small boy always signalised himself, to the general astonishment, for he was usually a stammerer, owing much to the early worries of Brentford; all these are agreeable reminiscences.
My next school at eleven was Charterhouse, or as my schoolfellow Thackeray was wont to style it, Slaughterhouse, no doubt from the cruel tyranny of another educational D.D., the Rev. Dr. Russell. For this man and the school he so despotically drilled into passive servility and pedantic scholarship, I have less than no reverence, for he worked so upon an over-sensitive nature to force a boy beyond his powers, as to fix for many years the infirmity of stammering, which was my affliction until past middle life. As for tuition, it must all have grown of itself by dint of private hard grinding with dictionaries and grammars, for the exercises, themes, and other lessons were notoriously difficult, and those before me would be inextricable puzzles now; however, we had to do them, and we did them, unhelped by any teacher but our own industry. As for the masters in school, two more ignorant old parsons than Chapman and "Bob Watki" could not readily be found; and though the four others, Lloyd, Dickens, Irvine, and Penny were somewhat more intelligent, still all six in the lower school were occasionally summoned to a "concio," if the interpretation of any ordinary passage in Homer or Virgil or Horace was haply in dispute between a monitor and his class. In the upper school the single really excellent teacher and good clergyman, Edward Churton, had but one fault, a meek subserviency to the tyrannic Russell, who domineered over all to our universal terror; and I remember kindly Mr. Churton once affected to tears at the cruelty of his chief. What should we think nowadays of an irate schoolmaster smashing a child's head between two books in his shoulder-of-mutton hands till the nose bled, as I once saw? Or, in these milder times when your burglar or garotter is visited with a brief whipping, what shall we judge of the wisdom or equity of some slight fault of idleness or ignorance being visited with the Reverend Doctor's terrible sentence, "Allen, three rods, eighteen, and most severely"?
Let me comment on this line, one of a sharp satire by a boy named Barnes, long since an Indian Judge and I suppose translated Elsewhere. Allen was head-gown-boy, and so chief executioner, the three rods being some five-feet bunches of birch armed with buds as sharp as thorns, renewed after six strokes for fresh excoriation! sometimes the exhibition was in medio, a public terror to evil-doers, or doers of nothing, but usually in a sort of side chapel to the lower school where the whipping-block stood. Who could tolerate such things now? and who can wonder that I, as a lad, proclaimed that I would rather die than be flogged, for I had resolved in that event to commit justifiable homicide on my flogger? I do not mean Allen, who became Head of Dulwich College, and with whom I have since dined, annually as donor of a picture there, but Russell, concerning whom I vowed that if ever he was made a Bishop (happily he wasn't) I would desert the Church of England; as yet I have not, albeit it has lately become so papalised as to be little worth an honest Protestant's adherence.
As to the exclusively classic education in my young days, to the resolute neglect of all other languages and sciences, I for myself have from youth upwards always protested against it as mainly waste of time and of very little service in the battle of life. For proof of this, before I was eighteen, I wrote that essay on Education to be seen in my first series of Proverbial Philosophy, which long years after the celebrated Dr. Binney of the Weigh-house in Thames Street issued with my leave as a tractate useful to the present generation. And while there was so much fuss made as to the criminality of a false quantity in Greek, or a deficient acquaintance with those awkward verbs in "Mi," or above all a false concord (every one of which derelictions in duty involved severe punishment), let us remember that all this time Holywell Street was suffered to infect Charterhouse with its poison (I speak of long ago, before Lord Campbell's wholesome Act), and that our clerical tutors and governors professionally recognised no sort of sins or shortcomings but those committed in class! They practically ignored everything out of school, much as a captain knows nothing of his company off duty. It was the idle system of boys set to govern boys, that the masters might have no damage. I think the system was called Lancastrian.
One very noticeable trait in the parson-schoolmasters of those old days (and perhaps it still survives) was the subserviency to rank and wealth towards any pupils likely to give them livings, whereof more anon; at present, an appropriate instance occurs to me. I was in my thirteenth year monitor of the playground, when one Dillon, a scion of a titled family, hunted and killed a stray dog there, and much to their credit for humanity a number of other boys hunted and pelted him into a dry ditch or vallum, dug for the leaping-pole under a Captain Clias who taught us athletics. I was technically responsible for this open insult offered to Hibernian nobility, however well disposed to look another way and let lynch-law take its course. Accordingly, the Doctor had me up for punishment, and he inflicted an almost impossible imposition, Book Epsilon of the Iliad (the longest of all) to be translated word for word, English and Greek, and to be given to him in MS. within a month (it would have been work for a year), that or expulsion. Had Mr. Dillon been a plebeian, no notice would have been taken of the matter, but he was an honourable, so Russell must avenge his righteous punishment. However, the result of this outrageous set-task was curious and worthy of this its first and only record. All the seventy boys in Irvine's house and others elsewhere, volunteered to do the whole imposition for me, and within a week hundreds of pages closely written with Greek and Latin, were sewn together, making a large quarto pamphlet, which was duly handed by me to the wondering Doctor; who had, however, too much shrewdness to care to inquire closely as to this popular outburst of a general indignation, so he said nothing more about it.
For other playground reminiscences: I saw, even in those tame times for cricket when overhand bowling was illegal, and the fierce artillery of a Spofforth impossible, a poor lad killed in the field, one Honourable Henry Howard; he was taken to the pump for recovery, as from a swoon, but the ball had struck him behind the ear, stone-dead. Again as to that pump; it was sometimes maliciously used for sousing unfortunate day-boys, who were allowed two minutes law out of school to enable them to escape pursuit after lessons, most unjustly, and injuriously, seeing that old Sutton founded his Charterhouse mainly for day-boys (John Leech was one in my time) and for pensioners ("old Cods") whereof Colonel Newcome of Thackeray fame, was another; but both of these charity classes were utterly despised and ignored by the reverend brigands who kept all the loaves and fishes for themselves.
One remarkable playground experience was the fact that it helped to develop in me antiquarian inclinations, and my own discovered hunting-ground for Roman numismatics in the south of England, long afterwards expanded in "Farley Heath" near Albury. At Charterhouse there was a great slope or semi-mound which had in old times been utilised as a wholesale grave for the victims of plague and other epidemics. It strikes me now as most perilous, but we boys used to dig and scratch among bones and other debris for on occasional coin or lead token, whereof I found several; it is only a wonder that we did not unearth pestilence, but mould is fortunately very antiseptic. Another playground peculiarity was that after the hoop season, usually driven in duplicate or triplicate, the hoops were "stored" or "shied" into the branching elms, from which they were again brought down by hockey-sticks flung at them; a great boon to the smaller boys who thus gratuitously became possessed of valuable properties. And for all else, there were fights behind the school, in those pugilistic days scientifically conducted with seconds and bottleholders, and some "claret" drawn, and other like fashionable brutalities; also in its season came football, but not quite so fiercely fought as it is now; and there was Mr. Rackwitz, the man of sweets and pastries at the corner; and another sort of rackets in the tennis court; and for another sort of court there was then extant a bit of ruinous Gothic in old Rutland Court, a ghostly entrance from Charterhouse Square, some thought haunted, and long since cleared away.
And now crossing the Square we come to No. 41, the Queen Anne fashioned mansion where Mr. Andrew Irvine (another Reverend Master, who like all the rest, except Churton, almost never "did duty," and when he did manifestly could neither read, preach, not pray) had a houseful of pupils, whereof the writer was one. That long room is full of ancient memories of past and gone Carthusians, though it is now humiliated into a local charity school. I remember some humorous scenes there, chiefly owing to the master's notorious niggardliness. Andrew had some Gruyere cheese, easily accessible to the boyish plunderers of his larder. Now we had complained that our slabs of butter laid between the cut sides of the rolls often were salt and strong, so one "Punsonby" (afterwards an earl) managed to put a piece of highly-flavoured Gruyere into a roll, and publicly at breakfast produced it before Mr. Irvine as a proof of the bad butter provided by the unfortunate housekeeper. He was overborne against his own convictions, by the heroic impudence of chief big boys whom he dared not offend, and actually pretended indignation, promising better butter in future!
For another small scholastic recollection: Andrew's Indian brother had brought over a lot of curiosities from the East, including a rhinoceros skin, and bows and arrows, idols, and the like, all of which were carelessly stored away in a cellar near the larder aforesaid. Of course the boys made a raid upon such spolia opima, and divers portions of that thick hide were exhibited as Indian rubber: but Andrew never knew that many other things vanished, and that for example Knighton used to walk home on Saturdays with preternaturally stiff arms, an arrow (possibly poisoned) being hid in each sleeve! some creeses also were appropriated by others. I wonder if any Carthusian of my time survives as the possessor of such loot.
Let me record, too, that in those evil days (for I am not one who can think this age as "pejor avis") boys used to go, on their Monday mornings' return from the weekly holiday, out of their way to see the wretches hanging at Newgate; that the scenes of cruelty to animals in Smithfield were terrible; that books of the vilest character were circulated in the long-room; and that both morality and religion were ignored by the seven clergymen who reaped fortunes by neglecting five hundred boys. If more memories are wanted of those times, here are two; the planned famine on one occasion, when—under monitorial inspiration—all the juniors clamoured for "more, more," seeing they had slabbed on the underside of the tables masses of bread and butter supposed to have been eaten-out; and on another, that lobsters, surreptitiously obtained from out-of-bounds by the big boys were sworn in the debris of their smaller claws to be pieces of sealing-wax! and nothing else: at least a reckless young aristocrat declared that they were so,—and the mean-spirited Andrew, fearful of giving offence in such high quarters, pretended to believe him.
Yet another trifle; for I find that such trivials are attractive to homeflock readers, by whose taste I feel the more public pulse, even as Rousseau did with his housekeeper. We, that is Knighton and Ellis and I, used to return on Sunday night in my father's carriage by the back way of Clerkenwell to Charterhouse in order to avoid the crowds of cattle; and I well remember that sometimes we would utilise apples and nuts from the dessert as missiles from our carriage window as we sped along. Alas! on one occasion Knighton was skilful enough to smash a chemist's blue bottle with an apple,—and on another I am aware that an oil lamp in Carthusian Street succumbed to my only too-true cockshy: "Et hoc meminisse dolendum."
Another incident was amusing in its way. Poor Mr. Irvine (who was going to be married) mended up a very much smashed greenhouse to greet his bride thereby with floral joy. Unluckily, the boys preferred broken panes to whole ones, so nothing was easier than by flinging brickbats and even mugs over the laundry wall to revel in the sweet sound of smashed glass; moreover this would go to evidence the popular animosity against a wretched bridegroom. Then, when he reappeared after some temporary absence before the wedding, it was after this ridiculous fashion. There was a wooden staircase screened off one side of the long-room down which he would occasionally creep to listen at the door at bottom to the tattle of the boys about him. He was heard creaking downstairs, and some active young fellow by a round-about byway managed to steal down behind and suddenly pushed him by the burst open door, spread-eagle fashion, into the laughing long-room! The poor victim pretended it was an accident, "Ye see, Mr. Yates, I was coming down the stair, and me foot slipped." It seems that the luckless Andrew was coming, so he averred, expressly to expostulate with the boys, to throw himself on their generosity for a subscription towards his ruined greenhouse, and to ask Messrs. "Punsonby," Yates, & Co. to promote it. This they promised to do, and did after an original fashion. Several pounds worth of pence and half-pence were distributed through the house, so that when Andrew with his traitorous aides went round to collect monies, it miraculously happened to be all coppers, unrelieved by a single sparkle of silver or gold. On which, in a red rage (and he often was in the like) he flung the whole bowlful into the long-room fire, from the ashes whereof for days after the small boys gladly collected hot half-pence. We must recollect that the canny Scot was a mean over-reaching man, so perhaps he was well paid out. Soon after the wedding, the bridegroom held high festival, and gave a grand dinner to all the masters. Our big boys were equal to the occasion, and as the hired waiters from the Falcon brought out the viands (all was a delusive peace as they went in) our harpies flew upon the spoil, and each meat, fish and fowl was cleared off the great dishes held between the helpless hands of the astonished servitors! It was really too bad, but if a man is so manifestly unpopular no doubt he deserves it. Rugbeians would not have so served Arnold. Nearly all my schoolmates are dead, and I cannot call on Charles Roe or Frank Ellis to corroborate my small anecdotes, but I could till lately on Sir William Knighton and one or two more. In a crowd of five hundred scholars (Russell's average number, afterwards much diminished, until Godalming brought up the tale), there must be many still extant and of eminence whom I would name if I did but know them. Certainly, yes, Trevelyan was my next neighbour in the "emeriti," and there was Hebert, the one distinguished in the State, the other in the Church; also Cole, and his noble chief of Enniskillen, whom I have visited at Florence Court; and Walford, our great genealogist, with many more; among the more recent dead, let me mention my good friend Archibald Mathison, lately an Indian Judge, and Robert Curzon, and Arthur Helps, the historian of Mexico. Thackeray I knew then but very slightly, as he was a lower schoolboy, and John Leech not at all, because he was a day boy, seeing that the upper school was made to keep foolishly aloof from all such; however, in after years I made good acquaintance with both of those true geniuses, and had Leech down to Albury, and to illustrate my tales, whilst I have several times compared judgments with Thackeray as to Doctor Birch and his young friends and other scholia.
For the matter of my practical education at Charterhouse, I like others went through the usual course, though without much distinction. I never gained a prize, albeit I tried for some, by certain tame didactic poems on the Tower, Carthage, and Jerusalem, and as I couldn't as a stammerer speak in school, high places were out of my reach. Like others, however, I learned by heart all Horace's odes and epodes, the Ajax and the Antigone of Sophocles, and other like efforts of memory, almost useless in after life, except for capping quotations, and thereby being thought a pedant by the display of schoolboy erudition. How often have I wished that the years wasted over Latin verses and Greek plays had been utilised among French and German, astronomy, geology, chemistry and the like; but all such useful educationals were quite ignored by the clerical boobies who then professed to teach young gentlemen all that they needed to know. Sixty years ago I perceived what we all see now (teste Lord Sherborne) that a most imperfect classical education, such as was then provided for us, was the least useful introduction to the real business of life, except that it was fashionable, and gave a man some false prestige in the circle of society. At about sixteen I left Charterhouse for a private tutor, Dr. Stocker, then head of Elizabeth College, Guernsey, seeing my father wished to do him a service for kindly private reasons; I was not at the College, but a pupil in his own house: however, as this other Rev. D.D. proved a failure, I was passed on to a Rev. Mr. Twopeny of Long Wittenham, near Dorchester, staying with him about a year with like little profit; when I changed to Mr. Holt's at Albury, a most worthy friend and neighbour, with whom I read diligently until my matriculation at Oxford, when I was about nineteen. With Holt, my intimate comrade was Harold Browne, the present Bishop of Winchester, and he will remember that it was our rather mischievous object to get beyond Mr. Holt in our prepared Aristotle and Plato, as we knew he had hard work to keep even in the race with his advanced pupils by dint of midnight oil. With this good tutor and the excellent ministrations of Hugh M'Neile, the famous rector of Albury, my status pupillaris comes technically to an end, Oxford being practically independence; albeit I am sure that education can cease only with human life, even if it be not carried further, onward and upward, through the cycles of eternity.
As I did not care to stop the continuity of this gossiping record (perhaps too light and too frank, but it is best unaltered) I must now hark back for a few years, to fill in whatever small details of early life and primitive literature happened to me, between school and college. Truly, much of this amounts to recording trivialities; but boyhood, not to say life also, is made up of trifles; and there is always interest to a reader in personal anecdotes and experiences, the more if they are lively rather than severe. Let this excuse that lengthy account of "My Schooldays."
YOUNG AUTHORSHIP IN VERSE AND PROSE.
Of my earliest MS., written soon after my seventh birthday, I have no copy, and only a very confused memory: but I remember that my good mother treasured for years and showed to many friends something in the nature of an elegy which a broken-hearted little brother wrote on the death of an infant sister from his first school: this is only mentioned in case any one of my older readers may possibly supply such a lost MS. in a child's roundhand. At school, chiefly as a young Carthusian, I frequently broke out into verse, where prose translation was more properly required: seeing that it pleased my indolence to be poetical where I was not sure of literal accuracy, and (I may add) it rejoiced me to induce a certain undermaster to suspect and sometimes to accuse this small poetaster of having "cribbed" his metrical version from some unknown collection of poems: however, he had always to be satisfied with my assurance as to authenticity, for he was sure to be baffled in his inquiries elsewhere.
One such instance is extant as thus,—for I kept a copy, as the assembled Charterhouse masters seemed to think it too good to be original for a small boy of twelve to thirteen. Here then, as a specimen of one of my early bits of literature, is a genuine and unaltered poem (for any modern improvements would not be honest) in the shape of a translated Greek epigram from the Anthologia:—
"Not Juno's eye of fire divine Can vie my Melite, with thine So heavenly pure and bright; Nor can Minerva's hand excel That pretty hand I know so well, So small and lily-white.
"Not Venus can such charms disclose As those sweet lips of blushing rose And ivory bosom show; Not Thetis' nimble foot can tread More lightly o'er her coral bed Than thy soft foot of snow.
"What happiness thy face bestows When smiling on a lover's woes! Thrice happy then is he Who hears thy soul-subduing song,— O more than blest, to whom belong The charms of Melite!"
I was head of the lower school then, and I remember the father of Bernal Osborne patting my curly locks and scolding his whiskered son for letting a small boy be above him.
Much about this time, and until I left Charterhouse at sixteen, there proceeded from my pen numerous other mild rhymed pieces and sundry unsuccessful prize poems; e.g., three on Carthage, the second Temple of Jerusalem, and the Tower of London, whereof I have schoolboy copies not worth notice; besides divers metrical translations of Horace, AEschylus, Virgil; and a few songs and album verses for young lady friends, one being set by a Mr. Sala (perhaps G.A.S. had a musical relative) with an impromptu or two, whereof the following "On a shell sounding like the sea" is a fair specimen for a boy:—
"I remember the voice of the flood Hoarse breaking upon the rough shore, As a linnet remembers the wood And his warblings so joyous before."
Of course, this class of my juvenile lyrics was holiday work, and barely worth a record, except to save a fly in amber, like this.
* * * * *
Whilst I was at Charterhouse, occurred my first Continental journey, when my excellent father took his small party all through France in his private travelling carriage, bought at Calais for the trip (it was long before railways were invented), and I jotted down in verse our daily adventures in the rumble. The whole journal, entitled "Rough Rhymes," in divers metres, grave and gay, was published by the "Literary Chronicle" in 1826, and the editor thereof, Mr. Jerdan, says, after some compliments, "the author is in his sixteenth year,"—which fixes the date. Possibly, a brief specimen or two of this may please: take the livelier first,—on French cookery: if trivial, the lines are genuine: I must not doctor anything up even by a word.
"Now Muse, you must versify your very best, To sing how they ransack the East and the West, To tell how they plunder the North and the South For food for the stomach and zest for the mouth! Such savoury stews, and such odorous dishes, Such soups, and (at Calais) such capital fishes! With sauces so strange they disguise the lean meat That you seldom, or never, know what you're to eat; Such fricandeaux, fricassees epicurean, Such vins-ordinaires, and such banquets Circean,— And the nice little nothings which very soon vanish Before you are able your plate to replenish,— Such exquisite eatables! and for your drink Not porter or ale, but—what do you think? 'Tis Burgundy, Bourdeaux, real red rosy wine, Which you quaff at a draught, neat nectar, divine! Thus they pamper the taste with everything good And of an old shoe can make savoury food, But the worst of it is that when you have done You are nearly as famish'd as when you begun!"
For a more serious morsel, take the closing lines on Rouen:—
"Yes, proud Cathedral, ages pass'd away While generations lived their little day,— France has been deluged with her patriots' blood By traitors to their country and their God,— The face of Europe has been changed, but thou Hast stood sublime in changelessness till now, Exulting in thy glories of carved stone, A living monument of ages gone!— Yet—time hath touch'd thee too; thy prime is o'er,— A few short years, and thou must be no more; Ev'n thou must bend beneath the common fate, But in thy very ruins wilt be great!"
More than enough of this brief memory of "Sixty Years Since," which has no other extant record, and is only given as a sample of the rest, equally juvenile. Three years however before, this, my earliest piece printed, I find among my papers a very faded copy of my first MS. in verse, being part of an attempted prize poem at Charterhouse on Carthage, written at the age of thirteen in 1823; for auld langsyne's sake I rescue its conclusion thus curtly from oblivion,—though no doubt archaeologically faulty:—
"Where sculptured temples once appeared to sight, Now dismal ruins meet the moon's pale light,— Where regal pomp once shone with gorgeous ray, And kings successive held their transient sway;— Where once the priest his sacred victims led And on the altars their warm lifeblood shed,— Where swollen rivers once had amply flowed And splendid galleys down the stream had rowed, A dreary wilderness now meets the view, And nought but Memory can trace the clue!"
The poor little schoolboy's muse was perhaps quite of the pedestrian order: but so also, the critics said, had been stern old Dr. Johnson's in his "London."
Mere school-exercises (whereof I have some antique copybooks before me), cannot be held to count for much as early literature; though I know not why some of my Greek Iambic translations of the Psalms and Shakespeare, as also sundry very respectable versions of English poems into Latin Sapphics and Alcaics still among my archives, should not have been shrined—as they were offered at the time—in Dr. Haig Brown's Carthusian Anthology. However somehow these have escaped printer's ink,—the only true elixir vitae—and we must therefore suppose them not quite worthy to be bracketed with the classical versification of Buchanan or even of Mr. John Milton,—albeit actually superior to sundry of the aforesaid Anthologia Carthusiana; so of these we will say nothing.
Of other sorts of schoolboy literaria whereof from time to time I was guilty let me save here (by way of change) one or two of my trivial humoristics: here is one, not seen in print till now; "Sapphics to my Umbrella,—written on a very rainy day," in 1827. N.B. If Canning in his Eton days immortalised sapphically a knifegrinder, why shouldn't a young Carthusian similarly celebrate his gingham?
"Valued companion of my expeditions, Wanderings, and my street perambulations, What can be more deserving of my praises Than my umbrella?
"Under thine ample covering rejoicing, (All the 'canaille' tumultuously running) While the rain streams and patters from the housetops, Slow and majestic,
"I trudge along unwetted, though an ocean Pours from the clouds, as if some Abernethy Had given all the nubilary regions Purges cathartic!
"Others run on in piteous condition, Black desperation painted in their faces, While the full flood descends in very pailfuls Streaming upon them.
"Yea, 'tis as if some cunning necromancer Had drawn a circle magically round me, Till like the wretched victim of Kehama, (Southey's abortion)
"Nothing like liquor ever could approach me! But it is thou, disinterested comrade, Bearest the rainy weather uncomplaining, Oh, my umbrella!
"How many hats, and 'upper Bens,' and new coats, How many wretched duckings hast thou saved me Well—I have done—but must be still indebted To my umbrella!"
Another such trifle may be permissible, as thus: also about an umbrella, a stolen one. On the occasion of my loss I wrote this to rebuke the thief, "The height of honesty:"—
"Three friends once, in the course of conversation, Touch'd upon honesty: 'No virtue better,' Says Dick, quite lost in sweet self-admiration, 'I'm sure I'm honest;—ay—beyond the letter: You know the field I rent; beneath the ground My plough stuck in the middle of a furrow And there a pot of golden coins I found! My landlord has it, without fail, to-morrow.' Thus modestly his good intents he told: 'But stay,' says Bob,' we soon shall see who's best, A stranger left with me uncounted gold! But I'll not touch it; which is honestest?' 'Your honest acts I've heard,' says Jack, 'but I Have done much better, would that all folks learn'd it, Mine is the highest pitch of honesty— I borrow'd an umbrella and—return'd it!!'".
N.B.—I remember that Dr. Buckland, whose geological lectures I attended, had the words "Stolen from Dr. Buckland" engraved on the ivory handle of his umbrella: he never lost it again.
In the way of prose, not printed (though much later on I have since published "Paterfamilias's Diary of Everybody's Tour") I have kept journals of holiday travel passim, whereof I now make a brief mention. Six juvenile bits of authorship are before me, ranging through the summers of 1828 to 1835 inclusive; each neatly written in its note-book on the spot and at the time (therefore fresh and true) decorated with untutored sketches, and all full of interest ab least to myself in old memories, faded interests, and departed friends. As very rare survivals of the past (for who cares to keep as I have done his schoolboy journals of half a century ago?) I will give at haphazard from each in its order of time a short quotation by way of sample,—a brick to represent the house. My first, A.D. 1828, records how my good father took his sons through the factories of Birmingham and the potteries of Staffordshire, down an iron mine and a salt mine, &c. &c., thus teaching us all we could learn energetically and intelligently; it details also how we were hospitably entertained for a week in each place by the magnate hosts of Holkar Hall and Inveraray Castle; and how we did all touristic devoirs by lake, mountain, ruin, and palace: in fact, a short volume in MS., whereof quite at random here is a specimen page. "Melrose looks at a distance very little ruinous, but more like a perfect cathedral. While the horses were being changed we walked to see this Abbey, a splendid ruin, with two very light and beautiful oriel windows to the east and south, besides many smaller ones; the architecture being florid Gothic. The tracery round the capitals of pillars is in wonderful preservation, looking as fresh and sharp as on the first day of their creation; instead of the Grecian acanthus Scotch kail being a favourite ornament. Some of the images still remain in their niches. In the east aisle is the grave of the famous wizard, Michael Scott, and at the foot of the tombstone a grim-looking figure,—query himself? In the ruined cloisters the tracery is of the most delicate description, foliage of trees and vegetables being carved on them. This Abbey was founded by David the First, but repaired by James the Fourth, which accounts for his altered crown appearing in stone on the walls," &c. &c. The Scotch kail is curious, as indicative of national preference: and is the wizard still on guard? Recollect that in those days there were no guide-books,—so every observant traveller had to record for himself what he saw.
The next, in 1829, was a second visit to the Continent, my first having been in 1826, with those quotations from "Rough Rhymes" which have already met your view. In this we took the usual tour of those days, via Brussels and the Rhine to Switzerland, and I might quote plenty thereof if space and time allowed. Here shall follow a casual page from the 1829 MS. Journal, now before me.
"Heidelberg has a university of seven hundred students, who wear no particular academicals, but are generally seen with a little red or blue cap topping a luxuriant head of hair, a long coat, and moustaches which usually perform the function of a chimney to pipe or cigar. All along our to-day's route extended immense fields of tobacco, turnips, and vegetals of every description. Most of the women seem to be troubled with goitres, and we observed that all who have them wear rows of garnets strung tight on the part affected, whether with the idea of hiding the deformity, or of rendering the beauty of the swelling more conspicuous, or of charming it away, I cannot tell. The roads in these parts are much avenued with walnut trees: Fels, our courier, told me that of all trees they are most subject to be struck by lightning, and that under them is always a current of air. I insert his information, as he is both a sensible man, and has had great opportunities of observing," &c. &c. Here is a gap of three years.
In 1832, my journal about Dorsetshire and the Isle of Wight is chiefly geological: as this extract shows, it was mainly a search after fossil spoils at Charmouth:—"Would you like to see a creature with the head of a lizard, wings of a bat, and tail of a serpent? Such things have been, as these bones testify; they are called Pterodactyls, and are as big as ravens. Thus, you see, a dragon is no chimera, but attested by a science founded on observation, Geology. As their bones (known by their hollowness) often occur in the coprolites or fossil dung of Plesiosauri, mighty monsters of the deep like gigantic swans, it is thought they were their special prey, for which the long and flexible neck of the Plesiosaurus is an a priori argument," &c. &c.
The 1833 journal is Welsh; and, inter alia, I therein drew and I now record that recently destroyed and more recently restored Druidical movement, the Buckstone: "A solid mass of rock, not of living adamant but of dead pudding-stone, seemingly 'by subtle magic poised' on the brow of a steep and high hill, wooded with oaks: the top of this mass of rock is an area of fifty-four feet, its base being four, and the height twelve. It was once a logan stone, but now has no rocking properties; though most perilously poised on the side of a slope, and certainly, if in part a work of nature, it must have been helped by art, seeing the mere action of the atmosphere never could have so exactly chiselled away all but the centre of gravity. The secret of the Druids, in this instance at least, was in leaving a large mass behind, which as a lever counteracted the preponderance of the rock." I drew on the spot two exact views of it, taken to scale,—whereof this is one,—now of some curious value, since its intentional destruction last year by a snobbish party of mischievous idiots. (However, I see by the papers that, at a cost of L500, it has been replaced.) Let this touch suffice as to my then growing predilection for Druidism, since expanded by me into several essays find pamphlets, touching on that strange topic, the numerous rude stone monuments from Arabia to Mona.
The 1834 journal regards Scotland,—a country I have since visited several times, including the Orkneys and Shetlands, and the voyage round from Thurso via Cape Wrath to the Hebrides; whereof, perhaps, more anon. For a specimen page of this let me give what follows; the locality is near Inverness and the Caledonian Canal: "We now bent our steps toward Craig Phadrick, two miles north. This is the site of one of the celebrated vitrified forts, concerning the creation of which there has been so much learned discussion. And verily there is room, for there is mystery: I will detail what we saw. On the summit of a steep hill of conglomerate rock we could trace very clearly a double oblong enclosure of eighty yards by twenty, with entrances east and west, a space of five yards being between the two oblongs. The mounds were outwardly of turf, but under a thin skin of this was a thick continuous wall of molten stone, granite, gneiss, and sandstone, bubbling together in a hotchpot! The existence of these forts (occurring frequently on the heights and of various shapes) is attempted to be explained by divers theories. One man tells us they were beacons; but, first, what an enormous one is here, one hundred and twenty-four feet by sixty of blazing wood, timber being scarce too! next, they sometimes occur in low situations from which a flame could scarcely be seen; thirdly, common wood fire will not melt granite. Another pundit says they are volcanic. O wondrous volcano to spout oblong concentric areas of stone walls! Perhaps the best explanation is that the Celts cemented these hilltops of strongholds by means of coarse glass, a sort of red-hot mortar, using sea-sand and seaweed as a flux. This is Professor Whewell's idea, and with him we had some interesting conversation on that and other subjects." Of this Scotch tour, full of interest, thus very curtly. Turn we now to Ireland in 1835. My record of just fifty years ago is much what it might be now, starvation, beggary, and human wretchedness of all sorts in the midst of a rich land, through indolence relapsed into a jungle of thorns and briars, quaking bogs, and sterile mountains; whisky, and the idle uncertain potato, combining with ignorance and priestcraft, to demoralise the excitable unreasoning race of modern Celts. Let us turn from the sad scenes of which my said diary is full, to my day at the spar caverns of Kingston. "At the bottom of a stone quarry, we clad ourselves in sack garments that mud wouldn't spoil, and with lit candles descended into the abyss, hands, knees, and elbows being of as much service as our feet. Now, I am not going to map my way after the manner of guide-books, nor to nickname the gorgeous architecture of nature according to the caprice of a rude peasant on the spot or the fancy of a passing stranger. I might fill a page with accounts of Turks' tents, beehives, judges' wigs, harps, handkerchiefs, and flitches of bacon, but I rather choose to speak of these subterranean palaces with none of such vulgar similarities. No one ever saw such magnificence in stalactites; from the black fissured roofs of antres vast and low-browed caves they are hanging, of all conceivable shapes and sizes and descriptions. Now a tall-fluted column, now a fringed canopy, now like a large white sheet flung over a beetling rock in the elegant folds and easy drapery of a curtain, everywhere are pure white stalactites like icicles straining to meet the sturdier mounds of stalagmite below; whilst in the smaller caves slender tubes extend from top to bottom like congealed rain. One cavern is quite curtained round with dazzling and wavy tapestry; another has gigantic masses of the white spar pouring from its crannied roof like boiled Brobdingnag macaroni; others like heaps of snowy linen lying about or hanging from the ceiling. The extent of the caves is quite unknown: eleven acres (I was told) have been surveyed and mapped, while there are six avenues still unexplored, and you may already wander for twenty-four hours through the discovered provinces of the gnome king." This is not to be compared with Kentucky, perhaps not quite with Derbyshire; but it seemed to me marvellous at the time. Let this much suffice as hinted reference to those early journals, which, if the world were not already more full of books than of their readers, would be as well worth printing in their integrity as many others of their bound and lettered brethren.
In connection with these journals, I have been specially requested to add to the above this record following (dated forty-four years ago) as a specimen of my letter-writing in old days: it has pen-and-ink sketches, here inserted by way of rough and ready illustration. The whole letter is printed in its integrity as desired, and tells its own archaeological tale, though rather voluminously; but in the prehistoric era before Rowland Hill arose, to give us cheap stamps for short notes, it was an economy to make a letter as long as possible to pay for its exorbitant postage: for example, my letters to and from Oxford used to cost eightpence—or double if in an envelope, then absurdly surcharged.
My Cornish Expedition.
8th and 9th of January 1840.
"FOR ONE AND ALL"]
My Dear Mother, and all good Domiciliars,—
I suppose it to be the intention of our worshipful and right bankrupt Government that everybody write to everybody true, full, and particular accounts of all things which he, she, or it, may have done, be doing, or be about to do; and seeing I may have something to say which will interest you all, I fulfil the gossiping intentions of the Collective Wisdom, and give you an omnibus epistle. Now, I recommend a good map, a quiet mind, and as Charley says, Attention.—The bright, clear, frosty morning of the 8th found me at Devonport, and nine o'clock beheld the same egregious individual, well-benjamined, patronising with his bodily presence the roof of the Falmouth coach. A steam ferry-bridge took us across the Hamoaze, which, with its stationed hulks, scattered shipping, and town and country banks, made, as it always makes, a beautiful landscape. At Torpoint we first encountered venerable Cornwall; and a pretty drive of sixteen miles, well wooded, and watered by several intrusions of the unsatisfied sea, brought coach and contents to Liskeard, a clean, granite, country town, with palatial inn, and (in common with the whole of Devonshire and Cornwall) a large many gabled church, covered with carved cathedral windows, and shadowed by ancient elms. Not being able to accomplish everything, I heard of, but saw not, divers antiquities in the distant neighbourhood of St. Clare, such as a circle of stones, an old church and well, and the natural curiosity called the cheese-ring, being a mass of layered granite capriciously decomposed: these "unseen ones" (what a mysterious name for a three-volumed Bentleyism!) I do not regret, for I know how to appreciate those wonders, the only enchantment whereof is, distance. So suffered I conveyance to Lostwithiel, a town lying in a hollow under the pictorial auspices of Restormel Castle, whose ivied ruins up the valley are fine and Raglandish: while the rest were bolting a coach dinner, I betook me to ye church, and was charmed with a curious antique font, and the tower, an octagon gothic lantern with extinguisher atop, like this: as far as memory serves me. Onward again, through St. Blazey, and a mining district, not ill-wooded, nor unpicturesque, to the fair town of St. Austle, which the piety of Cornish ancestors has furnished with another splendid specimen of ecclesiastical architecture, the upper half of the chief tower, a square one, being fretted on every stone with florid carving, and grotesque devices: but what shall I say of Probus tower, which from top to bottom is covered with delicate tracery cut in granite? it rises above the miserable surrounding village, a satire upon neighbouring degeneracy in things religious: you must often have seen drawings of Probus at the Watercolour Exhibition, as it is a regular artists' lion. At about half-past six we got into Truro, a clean wide flourishing town with London shops, a commemorative column, a fine spired church, bridges over narrow streams, and, like most other West of England towns, well payed and gas-lighted. From this, I had intended to go to Falmouth, but a diligent brain-sucking of coach comrades induced me to jump at once into a branch conveyance to Penzance, so passing sleepy Redruth, Camborne, and St. Erth in the dark, I found myself safely housed at the Union Inn, Penzance, at half-past eleven. Talking of unions, the country is studded here as everywhere with them; fine buildings put to the pernicious use of imprisoning for life those whose only crime is poverty, and destined to be metamorphosed ere long (so I prophesy) into lunatic asylums for desperate ministerialists, prisons for the Chartists, veterinary colleges for cattle with the rot, and as one good end, hospitals for the poor. Near Redruth, I took notice in the moonlight of Carn-breh, the remains of a British beacon or hill-fort, much of the antiquarian interest of which has been destroyed by a neighbouring squire having added to it modern ruins, to make it an object from his hall! the whole hill, like much of the country, is sprinkled with granite blocks higgledi-piggledy, and it is a grand dispute among the pundits, whether or not the Archdruid Nature has been playing at marbles in these parts; I wished to satisfy myself about it, but couldn't stop, and so there's no use in grummering about regrets. I've seen enough, to be able to judge a priori, that father Noah's flood piled the hill with blocks, which have served one Dr. Borlase and others as occasions for earning the character of blockheads. One thing is man's doing, without much dispute, and that is, an obelisk in honour of old Lord De Dunstanville, which is a conspicuous toothpick on the hilltop: no doubt, as in this case, nature brought the stones there, and man did his part in arranging them; poor Dr. B. would have you believe that every natural rock had been lifted here bodily for architectural purposes, and as bodily made a most elaborate and labyrinthine ruin afterwards. At Penzance, a broiled fish supper, and to bed by midnight, having ordered a twilight gig, wherein by 7 on the ninth I was traversing the beautiful bay. Penzance is a fine town in a splendid situation; the bay, bounded by the Lizard and its opposite bold brother-headland, inclosing St. Michael's Mount, and having a fertile and villa-studded background; the town full of good handsome shops (one like the Egyptian Hall), a large cathedralish church, and with a very special market-place, of light granite, in the form of a plain Grecian temple, surmounted at the middle by an imposing dome. As I had duly culled information from the natives, I lost no time in breakfasting, but drove off, bun in hand, to explore the country of the Druids. Now, if the matters I succeeded in visiting were in isolated and plain situations, they might have been less disappointing; but where the face of the whole soil is covered naturally with jutting rocks, and timeworn boulders of granite, one doesn't feel much astonishment to see some one stone set on end a little more obviously than the rest, or to find out by dint of perseverance a little arrangement, which may or may not be accidental: added to this, the cottages, and walls, and field enclosures are built of such immense blocks cleared off the surface of the fields, that one's mind is prepared for far more than the Druids ever did: many a Stonehengeified doorway, many a Titanic pigstye, many a "Pelion-on-Ossa" questionable-sentry box, puts one out of conceit with our puny ancestors. I went first to the Dans-mene, a famous stone-circle; and felt not a little vexed to find that I, little i, am feet taller than any of the uprights there, not 25 in number, and no bigger than field gateposts. It is evidently the consecrated portion of a battlefield, for there are several single stones dotted about the neighbourhood, to mark where heroes fell; like those at Inveraray, but smaller. The habit all through Cornwall of setting up a stone in every field, for cattle to scratch themselves withal, seems to be a sly satire against other rubbing-stones for A.S. Ses. A few dreary miles further brought me to the "voonder of voonders," the Logan-Rock, which on the map is near Boskenna. The cliff and coast scenery is superb; immense masses of granite of all shapes and sizes tumbled about in all directions; what wonder that in such a heap of giant pebbles one should be found ricketty? or more, what wonder that the very decomposing nature of coarse granite should have caused the atmosphere to eat away, gradually, all but the actual centre of gravity? both at the Logan, and Land's End, and Mount St. Michael, I am sure I have seen a hundred rocks wasted very nearly to the moving point, and I could mention specifically six, which in 20 years will rock, or in half an hour of chiselling would. In part proof of what I say, the Land-End people, jealous of Logan customers, have just found out a great rock in their parts, which two men can make to move; I recommended a long-handled chisel, and have little doubt that my hint will be acted on; by next season, the Cornish antiquaries will be puzzling their musty brains over marks of "druidical" tools; essays will appear, to demonstrate that the chippings were accomplished by the consecrated golden sickle; the rock will be proved to have been quarried at Normandy, and ferried over; facsimiles of the cuts will be lithographed; and the Innkeeper of the "First and Last house in England" will gratefully present a piece of plate (a Druid "spanning" [consider Ezekiel's "putting the branch to the nose" as a sign of contempt]!) to the author of "Hints for a Chisel," "Proverbial Phil.," &c. &c. &c. But—revenous a nos moutons: to the Logan: until it was scrupulously pointed out, by so tangible a manner as my boy-guide getting on it, I could scarcely distinguish it from the fine hurlyburly of rocks around. That it moves there is no question; but when I tell you that it is now obliged to be artificially kept from falling, by a chain fixing it behind, and a beam to rest on before, I think you will agree with me in muttering "the humbug!" Artists have so diligently falsified the view, ad captandum, that you will have some difficulty in recognising so old a friend as the Logan: it is commonly drawn as if isolated, thus, and would so, no doubt, be very astonishing; but, when my memory puts it as above, stapled, and obliged to remain for Cockneys to log it, surrounded by a much more imposing brotherhood, my wonder only is that it keeps its lion character, and that, considering the easy explication of its natural cause or accident, it should ever have been conceived to be man's doing; perhaps the Druids availed themselves of so lucky a chance for miracle-mongering, but as to having contrived it, you might as well say that they built the cliffs. It strikes me, moreover, that Cornwall could never have been the headquarters of Druidism, inasmuch as the soil is too scanty for oaks: there isn't a tree of any size, much less an oak tree in all West Cornwall: they must have cut samphire from the rocks, instead of misletoe from oaks, and the old gentlemen must have been pretty tolerable climbers, victim and all, to have got near enough to touch the Logan: to be sure it was a frosty day, and iron-shod shoes on icy granite are not over coalescible, but I did not dare scramble to it, as a tumble would have insured a particularly uncomfortable death; and although the interesting "Leaper from the Logan, or Martin Martyr" would have had his name enshrined in young lady sonnets, and azure albums, such immortality had little charms for me. I contented myself with being able to swear that I have seen 90 tons of stone moved by a child of ten years old. Near it is another, called the logging lady, a block, upright like its neighbours, about 12 feet high, and which the boy told me could only be made to log by two men with poles; in fact, one end is worn with levers: well, I told him to try and move it; no use, says he; try, said I; he did try, and couldn't; well, I took a sight of where I thought he could do it, and set him to push; forthwith, my lady tottered, and I told the boy, if he would only keep to himself where he pushed it would be a banknote to him. I mention this to illustrate what I verily believe, to wit, that, if a man only took the breakneck trouble to clamber and try, he would discover several rocking-stones; but the fact is, this would diminish the wonder, and Cockneys wouldn't come to see what is easily explained: your Druids, with imaginary dynamics, invest nature's freaks with mysterious interest. But away to Tol Peden Penwith, where there is another curiosity; in the smooth green middle of a narrow promontory, surrounded and terminated by the boldest rock-scenery, strangely drops down for a perpendicular hundred feet, a circular chasm, not ill named the Funnel, and which not even a stolid Borlase can pretend was dug by the Druids: at the bottom there is communication with the sea by means of a cavern, and in stormy weather the rush up this gigantic earth's chimney-must be something terrible: will this convey a rough idea? the scenery all round is really magnificent, and the looking down this black smooth stone-pit is quite fearful; it slopes away so deceitfully, and looks like a huge lion-ant's nest. Few people see this, because you can only get at it by a walk of a mile, but I think it quite as worth seeing as the logan-rock. My next object was the Land's End, where, as elsewhere, I did signalise myself by not scribbling my autograph on a rock, or carving M.F.T. on the sod: the rocky coast is of the same grand character; granite bits, as big as houses, floundering over each other like whales at play; the cliffs, cavernous, castellated, mossgrown, and weatherbeaten; it looks like a Land's end, a regular break up of the world's then useless ribs: an outlier of rocks in the sea, surmounted by a lighthouse: looks like the end of the struggle between conquering man, and sturdy desolation. One place, where I tremble to think I have been, struck me as quite awful: helped by an iron-handed sailor, who comforts you in the dizzy scramble with "Never fear, sir, you shan't fall, unless I fall too," you fearfully pick your way to the extreme end, where it goes slick down, and lying prostrate on the slippery granite (which looks disjointed everywhere, and as if it would fall with you, bodily) with head strained over you see under you a dreadful cavern, open nearly to where you are, up which roars the white and angry sea. O brother David, and foot-tingling Sire, never can you take that look; and never would I again. Only think of tipping over! ugh.—Into the gig again, beside my shrewd Sam Weller driver, and away. Here and there about this part of Cornwall are studded rude stone crosses, probably of the time of St. Colomba, as they are similar to those at Iona: about two or three feet high, and very rude. In one place, I noticed what seemed to be a headless female figure, perhaps the Virgin, and as large as life: my Jehu said he had heard that it once had a head. We soon came to a small square inclosure, said to be a most ancient cemetery; I scrambled over the wall, and found among the briars and weeds one solitary tomb of a venerable and Runic aspect, but I soon found out that it recorded the name of somebody who departed Ye LYFE somewhere in 1577; nothing so extremely ancient. A rough rock-besprinkled hill now attracted me, as I heard it was called another Carn-breh, and was surmounted by some mound, or ruin: so out of the gig, and up in no time. Clearly it had been an ancient beacon place, as atop are the remains of a small square-built terrace inclosing some upright stones placed irregularly,—a sort of huge fireplace. One of the neighbouring rocks presented on its surface a fine specimen of what are called rock basins; but unluckily for the antiquary, this excavation is on the side of the stone, not on the summit; so that it could not possibly hold water, and is clearly caused by some particular moss eating away the stone.—By three o'clock returned to Penzance, had dinner (it was breakfast too), bought a mineral memorial, and in the gig again, over the sands to the outlandishly named Mara Zion, or Market Jew, words probably of similar import. Opposite to this little place, and joined to it by a neck of rocks passable at low-water, stands that picturesque gem, Mount St. Michael. You know the sort of thing; an abrupt, pyramid of craggy rock, crowned with an edifice, half stronghold and half cathedral. It is a home of the St. Aubyn family, and is well kept up in the ancient style, but in rather a small way: a portcullised entrance, old armour hanging in the guard-room, a beautiful dining-hall with carved oak roof, and panels, and chairs; a chapel to match, with stained windows; an elegant Gothic drawing-room, white and gold; and everything, down to black-leather drinking jugs, in character with the feudal stronghold. I mounted the corkscrew tower, and got to the broken stone lantern they call St. Michael's chair; an uncomfortable job, but rewarded by a splendid panorama, gilt by the setting sun: in the chapel too, I descended into a miserable dungeon communicating with a monk's stall, where doubtless some self-immured penitent had wasted life away, only coming to the light for matins, and only relieved from solitary imprisonment by midnight mass. This has been discovered but very lately in repairing the chapel: it was walled up, and contained a skeleton. As a matter of course, this old castle contains a little hidden room, where that ubiquitous vagabond, the royal Charles, laid his hunted head: the poor persecuted debauchee sponged upon all his friends like Bellyserious Buggins. Back again, by water this time, to little Mara Zion, but ever and anon looking with admiration on that beautiful mount; the western rocks are really magnificent, as big as the largest hay-stacks, and tumbled about as loosely as an emptied sugar-basin; some hanging by a corner, and others resting on a casual fragment; I am sure of one logan-stone, if a little impertinent bit of rock were only moved away; and I walked under and between more Titanic architecture than Stonehenge can show: the Druids, for my part, shall have their due, but not where they don't deserve it. At nine, after a substantial fried-fish tea, I mounted the night coach to Falmouth,—outside, as there was no room in, and so, through respectable Helstone, remarkable for a florid Gothic arch erected to some modern worthy of the town, to decent Penryn, and then by midnight, to the narrowest of all towns, Falmouth. I longed to get back to my darlings, and resolved to see them by next morning, so booked an outside (no room inside, as before) for an immediate start. Now, you can readily imagine that I was by no means hot, and though the night of Thursday last was rather mild, still it was midwinter: accordingly I conceived and executed a marvellous calorificating plan, which even the mail-coachman had never heard of. Haying comforted my interiors with hot grog of the stiffest, I called for another shillingsworth of brandy, and deliberately emptied it, to the astonished edification of beholders, into my boots! literal fact, and it kept my feet comfortable all night long. And so, wrapped all in double clothing, sped I my rapid way, varying what I had before seen by passing through desolate Bodmin, and its neighbourhood of rock, moor, and sand: hot coffee at Liskeard, morning broke soon after, then the glorious sun over the sea. Hamoaze, the ferry, and Devonport at 1/2 past 8. Much as I longed to get home, I went forthwith into a hot bath at 102, to boil out all chills, and thence went spick and span to my happy rest, having within 48 hours seen the best part of Cornwall and its wonders, and rode or walked 250 miles. And so, brother David, commend me for a traveller. HERE ends my Cornish expedition. Does it recall to thee, O sire, thine own of old time, undertaken (if I remember rightly) with Dr. Kidd?—Mails then did not travel like the Quicksilver, averaging 12 miles an hour, and few people go 40 miles before breakfast. Now, I feel able to get nearer my Albury destination, and in a week or so, shall hope to be residing at Dorchester, near the Blandford of paternal recollections. Did you, dear mother, get a letter from me directed to Albury? I hope so, for it sets all clear: and if not, I'll set the nation against cheap postage. I don't feel the least confidence now in the Post Office, forasmuch as they have no interest in a letter after it is paid, and many will be mislaid from haste and multiplicity. Please to say if it came safely to hand, as I judge it important. If you, dear mother, got my last, I have nothing more to say, and if not, I'll blow up the Post Office: unpopularity would send all the letters by carriers: but whether or not, I can't write any more, so with a due proportion of regards rightly broadcast around, accept the remainder from—Your affectionate son,
In 1829 I was entered as a commoner at Christ Church, Oxford, and went through the usual course of lectures with fair success. As a family we have all favoured Oxford rather than Cambridge: my father and two cousins, Elisha and Carre, were at Exeter College, to take the benefit of its Sarnian Exhibitions; my brother Daniel was at Brasenose, and my brother William gained a scholarship of Trinity. When at Christ Church I wore the same academical gown which my father had,—and have it still; a curious antiquity in the dress line, now some fourscore years old, and perfect for wear and appearance,—such as would have rejoiced the Sartor Resartus of Carlyle. At college I did not do much in the literary line, unless it is worth mention that translations from the Greek or Latin poets were always rendered by me in verse not prose, and that I published anonymously "A Voice from the Cloister," being an earnest appeal to my fellow-collegians against the youthful excesses so common in those days.
From this pamphlet I give an extract, as it is scarce; it began with blank verse and ended with rhyme, all being for the period courageously moral and religious. The end is as thus:—
"Enough, sad Muse, enough thy downward flight Has cleft with wearied wing the shades of night: Be drest in smiles, forget the gloomy past, And, cygnet-like, sing sweeter at the last, Strike on the chords of joy a happier strain And be thyself, thy cheerful self, again. Hail, goodly company of generous youth, Hail, nobler sons of Temperance and Truth! I see attendant Ariels circling there, Light-hearted Innocence, and Prudence fair, Sweet Chastity, young Hope, and Reason bright, And modest Love, in heaven's own hues bedight, Staid Diligence, and Health, and holy Grace, And gentle Happiness with smiling face,— All, all are there; and Sorrow speeds away, And Melancholy flees the sons of day; Dull Care is gladden'd with reflected light, And wounded Sin flies sickening at the sight.
"My friends, whose innate worth the wise man's praise And the fool's censure equally betrays, Accept the humble blessing of my Muse, Nor your assistance to her aim refuse, She asks not flattery, but let her claim A kind perusal, and a secret name."
I scarcely like to mention it, as a literary accident, but being a curious and unique anecdote it shall be stated. I had the honour at Christ Church of being prizetaker of Dr. Burton's theological essay, "The Reconciliation of Matthew and John," when Gladstone who had also contested it, stood second; and when Dr. Burton had me before him to give me the L25 worth of books, he requested me to allow Mr. Gladstone to have L5 worth of them, as he was so good a second. Certainly such an easy concession was one of my earliest literary triumphs.