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DESPONDENCY AND BEREAVEMENT.
DESPONDENCY-Illness of old Knight-Illness of Miss JowettLetter to Stanley – The Agamemnon of Aeschylus — The Long Vacation of 1880 : Conversations; Visits to cathedrals-Notes-Death of Mrs. Cross - Publication of the Thucydides (1881) Death of StanleyJowett at Clifton-His kindness to children-Criticism of BentleyNotes partly on moral philosophy, partly personal-Death of Lord Airlie; of Professor Green (1882); of Hugh Pearson-At MerevaleAt Davos-Letters.
THE years were passing on, and in spite of his exertions
Jowett was unable to finish his works in the time allotted to them in his schemes for the future. He began to feel that he would not accomplish all that he wished to do, a feeling which naturally increased the depression under which he was labouring. His health was now tolerably good, but age, the most irresistible of all diseases, was creeping upon him. He writes of himself:
* Age is the chief cause of my despondency. I fear that I shall not be able to accomplish all that I desire. I must economize time and health, and get my work done. I must commune with myself about this, but speak to no one. In weakness I must be passive and go to sleep, and seize only favourable moments. To look at Wordsworth's poem 21.'
"Greater silence, greater dignity; moving slowly to death ; 1 Despondency Corrected,' the fourth book of The Excursion.
of that I would wish to carry the impression always. My life has been such a waste of vanity and egotism, that I must make the most of the remaining fifteen years.
*I desire nothing, and can have no further disappointments, except the non-completion of my work. This I go to fulfil. Working and resting, diet, place of abode, must always be directed to this end. Aetatis sixty-three I feel very old.
'I must do the utmost for my friends by kindness and correspondence. The great want of life can never be supplied, and I must do without it.'
There were other causes for this despondency besides the mere inability to finish his work. In the thirteen years which remained he did work enough to satisfy any reasonable ambition, if not so much as he desired, but the hand of death fell heavily on his circle, and almost every year
left him more alone. We have seen what a heavy blow he suffered in the illness of his secretary, Matthew Knight. Another serious trouble was the loss of the services of Knight's father, his old servant, whose health broke down in the Commemoration week of 1880. Everyone who visited Balliol Lodge in these years will remember the round cheerful face of Knight, which was a welcome in itself. His loyalty to his master was delightful; he watched over him with anxious care, and would often shake his head at the mention of Plato's name: 'That translation, sir, will be the death of him.' In any way that he could he sought to save Jowett from annoyance, and when the noise of a College party was continued too late, he would put his head in at the study door and ask: 'Shall I give your compliments to them, sir, and say that you would like to hear them sing “God save the Queen?”?' The
1 On one occasion when Knight into the Garden quad and, marchhad taken this message the com- ing across it in a body, took up pany 'tumbled down, pell-mell, their stand underneath the
simplicity of his character and his utter freedom from any kind of meanness raised him above his station, and Jowett felt his departure from the house as the loss of a friend.
A greater sorrow was the illness of his sister, who was seized with paralysis in this same summer.
Since her mother's death in 1869 Miss Jowett had continued to live at Torquay, and Jowett had spent many of his happiest and most useful hours with her there. But it was now impossible for her to live alone, and she was removed to Clifton to the care of her cousins, the Irwins, where she remained till her death in 1882. In a letter dated West Malvern, August 9, 1880, Jowett writes :
'It is very kind of you to inquire about my sister. She is somewhat better, thank you, and able to sit up for an hour in the day. There is no immediate danger of her life now, but I doubt whether she can perfectly recover; the speech is hardly intelligible, and seems not to come back.
'Her mind is perfectly clear, and when she was first seized a month ago she wrote on a piece of paper the words : “Make not my will to be Thine, but Thy will to be mine, O God," and desired that they should be sent to me. She is perfectly resigned and cheerful, and thinks about everybody but herself. I asked whether I should read to her, and she said, “No, she remembered so much."
"We have fortunately a young cousin who has the gift of nursing, and finds the greatest delight in staying with her and taking care of her. She has been in the habit of reading Dante through every year, like you.
* As you say, calamities of this sort bring back many reflections. There were once nine of us, and now there are only two. Two of the sisters died of consumption more than forty years ago ; two brothers, who went into the Indian army, more than twenty years ago. They had all passed away before I knew
Master's window, and sang at the top of their voices as much
of the National Anthem as they could remember.'
or you. I have the pleasantest recollection of them. They were all intelligent, and had a very uncommon disinterestedness and unselfishness.'
In spite of despondency and sorrow, Jowett was still as convinced as ever that the last years of life were the best. He resolved by every means in his power to make the most of them, and what he wished for himself he wished for his friends also. He could not bear to see them sinking under a burden of sorrow, real or imaginary, and losing the precious years which remained. Very characteristic of this mood of his mind is the following letter to Dean Stanley :
'OXFORD, July 14, 1880 1. 'I hardly like to offer you advice because it is intrusive, and because it is so difficult for one person to judge of another's character or circumstances. And please not to suppose that in giving it I think myself your superior in any way. The reverse is the truth.
'It always seems to me that the last ten years of life are the most important of all (and for myself I build my hopes entirely on what I can do in them). I sometimes fear that you are allowing yourself to be crushed by personal misfortunes -some very real, like the loss of dear Lady Augusta, which I shall never cease to lament, but others partly fanciful, like this matter of the Prince Imperial, which does not affect you in any important manner. Will you not shake them off and fix your mind exclusively on higher things? I really believe that this “expulsive power” is necessary for your happiness. I am certain that your talents are as good as ever, and your experience far greater. I am not flattering you when I say that you are the most distinguished clergyman in the Church of England, and could do more than any one towards the great work of placing religion on a rational basis. If you can accomplish this task you may effect more good and have a much
1 This letter is printed in Dean light which it throws on Jowett's Stanley's Letters, p. 442; but I ven- attitude towards his friend. Cf. ture to reprint it here for the vol. i. pp. 99, 166 ff., 389.
more enduring fame than any bishop or archbishop of the English Church.
'What you have done has been good and valuable, but like other theological writing it has been transient, suited to one generation more than to another. But this work should be of a deeper kind, the last result of many theological thoughts and experiences, into which your whole soul and life might be thrown, all the better because the truths of which you spoke had been realized by suffering.
'It may be objected that such a book could not be written by a person holding a leading position in the Church. But if it were, it would win the battle of freedom for other clergymen, and to fight such a battle would be a great interest and a legacy to leave to the Church if gained. Few things will rouse the laity, but that certainly would.
Such a labour would require you to withdraw a good deal from society, from Convocation, and from Church agitations of other sorts. But there would be nothing lost in this; you have gained all that you can possibly gain from society, and as for Con. vocation, your friends regret your going to a place where they are rude to you, and whereas they do you harm, you can do these bigots no good, to say nothing of the whole affair being a great sham. You would return to the studies of your youththe great religions of the world—the early Christian Churchthe Gospels, the good in everything, which is a mere vacant and unmeaning word, but may be made a power in the world. You would live among the thoughts which a wise and good man would wish to have familiarly haunting him during his last years. And you would be able to say after all: “It is finished.”
the whole matter? Forty years ago we all expected you to be the most distinguished man among us, and you must not disappoint us.
'I would like you to plan out a course of study and writing as the unum porro et necessarium, and to place yourself in circumstances in which you can carry it out, and allow nothing to interrupt it. The more you come to Oxford for the sake of quiet reading, the more I shall be the gainer. You shall talk
. to me about the work or not, as you think best. You and I, and our dear friend Hugh Pearson, and Rogers, and some others,