Page images
PDF
EPUB

LETTERS, 1877–1879.

[ocr errors]

To R. B. D. MORIER, C.B.

January 27, 1877. I have intended to answer your kind letter for a long time, but the cares of this world have choked the seed.' I have had an uneasy feeling for six months past, but I will be guilty of that sin no more,' and am determined like a child of conscience to make restitution.'

Let me tell you of our buildings here, which you and I planned together nearly four years ago at Verona or Venice. We have a very fine hall—a great architectural success, I think; also a kitchen, common room, three lecture-rooms, and a beautiful reading-room, or second library, made out of the old Hall. When will you come and see all this? Last Tuesday week we had a solemn inauguration of the new buildings, which were blessed by a bishop and archbishop. There was a great deal of speaking, which went on till twelve o'clock at night, the Athenians praising the Athenians,' but upon the whole with modesty. I wish that you had been there. It was a delightful gathering of about two hundred and sixty old Balliolenses, some from the far west, and from the far north. Everybody appeared to have been greatly pleased. And I was pleased, and hope that it will be the beginning of a new life to the College. ...

6

[ocr errors]

TO THE LADY ABERCROMBY.

February II, 1877. How curious that difficulty of talking to others is to which you refer. I feel it constantly-partly a kind of sensitiveness, or the fear of not meeting with a response, or of some superior quickness or knowledge in the person with whom we are talking. For some reason or other, nothing comes into our minds to say—no pleasant nonsense, or more solid fact of interest-or only comes into our minds a minute too late.

It is a sad trouble—so much pleasure lost-such a bad impression created, such a humiliation to oneself. Sometimes it seems physical, almost like a headache. This is what I used to feel when I was young ; now I fear that I have not much more elasticity or pleasure in conversation at a dinner-table than I used to have ; but I know it does not signify much; if you are kind and listen to others, people are not dissatisfied, and you must rely on other things for any influence which you exercise in the world. Also if a person takes pains, and has leisure, and tries according to Dr. Johnson's rule always to say things as well as they can,' I believe that they may acquire the art of conversation.

To DEAN STANLEY.

April 15, 1877 I have often thought of you during the last month, and shall think still more often after hearing from you. I was very greatly pleased to have such a proof of your affection. We must do what we can for one another during the years that remain.

I am glad to hear that you are able to preach. Attacks like yours, if there is no predisposition to them in the constitution, often leave no after ill effects. But for a year or so they require great care about a number of little things, diet, change of clothes and shoes, &c., which one is always forgetting. Like other old women, you see I am telling you my own experience. But dear Lady Augusta, if she had been living, would not have been displeased at my pouring these old wives' advices into your ear?

TO THE LADY ABERCROMBY.

October 27, 1877. I had a very interesting visit of a day to Woburn last week, where a very pleasant party were collected-Lord Lyons and, if I may describe him so in scriptural language, one of great

1

Lady Augusta Stanley died 1876; see Life of Dean Stanley, on Ash Wednesday, March 1, vol. ii. p. 465 ff.

authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians' No State secrets were talked of, so far as I know, but there was a great deal of interesting conversation. Lord Lyons was inclined to think that there would be no coup d'état in France. The pious Minister of Candace confided to me his admiration for Renan, and seemed to be posted up in the latest forms of rationalism, not only German but Dutch ; he also said that there was a book which he had read seventeen times, Pride and Prejudice. He was more of the literary man than a politician. He left upon me the impression of a trifler and a great man in one. In health he is perfectly well, much better than the Liberals would like to see.

To SIR HENRY TAYLOR.

BALLIOL COLLEGE,

October 29, (1877). Thank you for the most interesting book which you have ever sent me? I think that I have read every word of it. The interest of it appears to me to consist in its absolute truthfulness and absence of egotism. Though I do not believe that your friends found in you at any time of life those disagreeable qualities which you attribute to yourself. This appears to me to be only the way in which a shy person imagines himself to affect others.

What a curious thing shyness is, having such hidden sympathies and antipathies, never knowing what to say, and yet sometimes pouring out its feeling like a flood. What acute pain it causes to the sufferer! and leading to all sorts of misunderstandings. Will you write an essay upon it-you who know what it is, as I also do, although the recollection of it becomes less vivid as time goes on? Is a Frenchman ever shy? or an Irishman ?

I am very glad to hear that Una reads Plato to you. There are few things in it which a young lady may not read, chiefly, I think, a page at the beginning of the Charmides and a few 1 Lord Beaconsfield.

wards published in 1885) under * Sir H. Taylor's Reminiscences the title Autobiography. -then privately circulated, after

pages of the Symposium and Republic. I would recommend her to read some of them in the following order: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Phaedrus, Gorgias, Republic, Laws, Book x, and to remember always that Socrates, besides being the wisest, is also the most provoking of human beings. There is a very interesting account of Socrates (though not quite right, I think) in Grote's History of Greece.

To R. B. D. MORIER 1.

This morning (March 14, 1877) brought a new pamphlet of Gladstone's damnable iteration about Bulgarian horrors, which are horrid enough, no doubt, but not to be weighed in the balance against a European war. I am not unwilling that he should raise the standard of public morality ; but why did he say nothing about India, about Jamaica, where the horrors (with the exception of the outrages on women) were probably as great and as inexcusable by necessity as these Turkish horrors? ..

I cannot help asking the question, whether civilized Europe at the end of the nineteenth century has no means of preventing universal war; and war too which will not clear the atmosphere, or place European politics ultimately on a better basis. No one can foresee where it will stop, or what the conditions of peace must be. People sometimes talk of the benefits of war, of carrying out the designs of Providence, and the like, of the virtues called forth by war, or the 'canker

1 During this year (1877) and as much as any man, but on the the next two Jowett wrote un- other hand he did not wish to see usually long letters to Morier, the Turks driven out of Europe ; pouring out his thoughts on the for that, he believed, would be state of Europe and on the action the signal for a general conflict. of the Court and Ministry at home. The letters are far too long to They were the years of the Bul- print here, and must be reserved garian atrocities and the Turko- for another volume, but a few Russian war, of depressed trade extracts may be given, showing and a calamitous harvest (1879). the general drift of Jowett's Jowett was

no Turcophil; he views. detested cruelty and oppression

[ocr errors]

of a long peace'; but in future wars there will be less and less of virtue and heroism and more of money, and God will be more and more on the side of the great guns. Improvements in war, as they are called, tend rather to extinguish the human side of it-the individual courage and chivalry, as well as the long endurance. I do not expect to see any great result upon character produced by war in the future.

I want to see the higher civilization of Europe combining against the lower, whether Czar or Pope [? Sultan), and offering something like paternal government to Egypt and the East. It is a dreadful thing in the world that countries whose inhabitants are hardworking, inoffensive people should be governed for centuries as Syria and Egypt have been. But then there is such a danger of taking away the government which they have and substituting only chaos.' This might be avoided if the European powers would jointly take up their cause. The fairest countries of the ancient world are now the most desolate ; the Egyptians are as badly off as they were under the Pharaohs. How long is this to go on? Will no saviour ever hear the cries of these Eastern people ? That is the real Eastern question.

6

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

I am afraid the year (1879) closes rather darkly and hopelessly for Europe (though I also believe that nations quickly recover and that one's opinions about them are apt to take the colour of one's own circumstances). But at present it seems to me that, besides the commercial distress, there is great reason for anxiety in the three chief countries of Europe, France, Germany, and Russia-France, after seeming for a time settled, falling into the hands of the Left, which means war with the clergy and the old régime, whether Napoleonist or Legitimist, who may perhaps ally themselves with the army, and will hardly give up all without a struggle. . . . Then there is Germany--poor, military, divided by caste, impoverished and oppressed by the conscription, the most educated country in Europe and yet having no share in its own government, hanging on the life of one man, and looking forward to the possibility of a desperate war.

As for Russia, it may

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »