"The more we live, more brief appear Our
life's returning stages:
A day to childhood seems an year, And years like passing ages."
- THOMAS CAMPBELL.
"Oh if in time of sacred youth,
We learned at home to love and pray,
Pray Heaven that early Love and Truth
May never wholly pass away."
MY mother took me to Harnish Rectory on July 28, 1843. The
aspect of Mr. Kilvert, his tall figure, and red hair encircling a
high bald forehead, was not reassuring, nor were any temptations
offered by my companions (who were almost entirely of a rich
middle class), or by the playground, which was a little gravelled
courtyard - the stable-yard, in fact - at the back of the house.
The Rectory itself was a small house, pleasantly situated on a
hill, near an odd little Wrenian church which stood in a well-kept
churchyard. We were met at Harnish by Mrs. Pile, who, as daughter
of an Alton farmer, was connected with the happiest period of my
mother's life, and while I was a prey to the utmost anguish,
talking to her prevented my mother from thinking much about
parting with me.
One miserable morning Mr. Kilvert, Mrs. Pile, and I went with
my mother and Lea to the station at Chippenham. Terrible indeed
was the moment when the train came up and I flung myself first
into Lea's arms and then into my mother's. Mrs. Pile did her best
to comfort me - but . . . there was no comfort.
Several boys slept in a room together at Harnish. In mine
there was at first only one other, who was one of the greatest
boy-blackguards I ever came across-wicked, malicious, and
hypocritical. He made my life indescribably miserable. One day,
however, whilst we were wearily plodding through our morning
lessons, I saw a pleasant gentleman - like boy come through the
gate, who was introduced to us as Alick MacSween. He was thirteen,
so much older than any of the others, and he was very good-looking,
at least we thought so then, and we used to apply to him the line
in our Syntax -
"Ingenui vultus puer ingenuique pudoris."
It was a great joy to find myself transferred to his room, and
he soon became a hero in my eyes. Imagination endowed him with
every grace, and I am sure, on looking back, that he really was a
very nice boy. Gradually I had the delight of feeling assured
that Alick liked me as much as I liked him. We became everything
to each other, and shared our lockers in school, and our little
gardens in play-hours. Our affection made sunshine in the
My one dread was that Alick would some day like another boy
better than he liked me. It happened. Then, at ten years old,
life was a blank. Soon afterwards Alick left the school, and a
little later, before he was fifteen, I heard that he was dead. It
was a dumb sorrow, which I could speak to no one, for no one
would have understood it, not even my mother. It is all in the
dim distance of the long ago. I could not realise what Alick
would be if he was alive, but my mind's eye sees him now as he
was then, as if it were yesterday: I mourn him still.
Mr. Kilvert, as I have said, was deeply "religious,"
but he was very hot-tempered, and slashed our hands with a ruler
and our bodies with a cane most unmercifully for exceedingly
slight offences. So intense, so abject was our terror of him,
that we used to look forward as to an oasis to the one afternoon
when he went td his parish duties, and Mrs. Kilvert or her sister
Miss Sarah Coleman attended to the school, for, as the eldest boy
was not thirteen, we were well within their capacities. The
greater part of each day was spent in lessons, and oh! what trash
we were wearisomely taught; but from twelve to one we were taken
out for a walk, when we employed the time in collecting all kinds
of rubbish-bits of old tobacco-pipe, &c. - to make "museums."
To My MOTHER.
"DARLING MAMA, - I like it rather
better than I expected. They have killed a large snake by
stoning it, and Gumbleton has skinned it, such nasty work,
and peged it on a board covered with butter and pepper, and
layed it out in the sun to dry. It is going to be stuffed. Do
you know I have been in the vault under the church. It is so
dark. There are great big coffins there. The boy's chief game
is robbers. Give love and 8 thousand kisses to Lea and love
to the Grannies. Good-bye darling Mama."
"Frederick Lewis has been very ill of
crop. Do you know what that is? I have been to the school-feast
at Mr. Clutterbuck's. It was so beautifull. All the girls
were seated round little round tables amongst beds of
geraniums, heliotrope, verbenas, and balm of Gilead We
carried the tea and were called in to grapes and gooseberries,
and we played at thread-the-needle and went in a swing and in
a flying boat. Good-bye Mamma."
"MY DEAR MAMMA,-The boys have got two
dear little rabbits. They had two wood-pigeons, but they died
a shocking death, being eaten of worms, and there was a large
vault made in which was interred their bodies, and that of a
dear little mouse who died too. All went into mourning for it."
"MY DEAR MAMMA,-We have been a
picknick at a beautiful place called Castlecomb. When we got
there we went to see the dungeon. Then we saw a high tower
half covered with ivy. You must know that Castlecomb is on
the top of an emense hilt so that you have to climb hands and
knees. When we sate down to tea, our things rolled down the
hill. We rambled about and gathered nuts, for the trees were
loaded. In the town there is a most beautiful old carved
cross and a church. Good-bye darling Mamma."
"Nov.1. - I will tell you a day
at Mr. Kilvert's. I get up at half-past six and do lessons
for the morning. Then at eight breakfast. Then go out till
half-past nine. Then lessons till eleven. Then go out till a
quarter-past eleven. Then lessons till 12, go a walk
till 2 dinner. Lessons from half-past three, writing, sums,
or dictation. From 5 till 6 play. Tea. Lessons from 7 to 8.
Bed. I have collected two thousand stamps since I was here.
Do you ever take your pudding to the poor women on Fridays
now? Goodbye darling Mamma."
As the holidays approached, I became ill with excitement and
joy, but all through the half years at Harnish I always kept a
sort of map on which every day was represented as a square to be
filled up when lived through. Oh, the dreary sight of these
spaces on the first days: the ecstasy when only one or two
squares remained white!
From, MY MOTHER'S JOURNAL.
"When I arrived at Harnish, Augustus
was looking sadly ill. As the Rectory door was opened, the
dear boy stood there, and when he saw us, he could not speak,
but the tears flowed down his cheeks. After a while he began
to show his joy at seeing us.
The Marcus Hares were at Hurstmonceaux all the winter, and a
terrible trial it was to me, as my Aunt Lucy was more jealous
than ever of any kind word being spoken to me. But I had some
little pleasures when I was at Hurstmonceaux Place with the large
merry family of the Bunsens, who had a beautiful Christmas-tree.
There is nothing to tell of my school-life during the next
year, though my mind dwells drearily on the long days of
uninstructive lessons in the close hot schoolroom when so
hopelessly "nous suyons à grosses gouttes," as Mme. de
Sévigné says; or on the monotonous confinement in
the narrow court which was our usual playground; and my
recollection shrinks from the reign of terror under which we
lived. In the summer I was delivered from Hurstmonceaux, going
first with my mother to our dear Stoke home, which I had never
seen before in all its wealth of summer flowers, and proceeding
thence to the English lakes, where the delight of the flowers and
the sketching was intense. But our pleasure was not unalloyed,
for, though Uncle Julius accompanied us, my mother took Esther
Maurice with her, wishing to give her a holiday after her hard
work in school-teaching at Reading, and never foreseeing, what
every one else foresaw, that Uncle Julius, who had always a
passion for governesses, would certainly propose to her. Bitter
were the tears which my mother shed when this result - to her
alone unexpected - actually took place. It was the most dismal of
betrothals: Esther sobbed and cried, my mother sobbed and cried,
Uncle Julius sobbed and cried daily. I used to see them sitting
holding each other's hands and crying on the banks of the Rotha.
These scenes for the most part took place Foxhow, where we.
paid a long visit to Mrs. Arnold, whose children were delightful
companions to me. Afterwards we rented a small damp house near
Ambleside - Rotha Cottage - for some weeks, but I was very ill
from its unhealthiness, and terribly ill afterwards at Patterdale
from the damp of the place. Matthew Arnold, then a very handsome
young man, was always excessively kind to me, and I often had
great fun with him and his brothers: but he was not considered
then to give any proof the intellectual powers he showed
afterwards. From Foxhow and Rotha Cottage we constantly visited
Wordsworth and his dear old wife at Rydal Mount, and we walked
with him to the Rydal Falls. He always talked a good deal about
himself and his own poems, and I have a sense of his being not
vain, but conceited. I have been told since, in confirmation of
this, that when Milton's watch - preserved somewhere - was shown
to him, he instantly and involuntarily drew out his own watch,
and compared, not the watches, but the poets. The "severe
creator of immortal things," as Landor called him, read us
some of his verses admirably,1 but I was too young at this time to be
interested in much of his conversation, unless it was about the
wild-flowers, to which he was devoted, as I was. I think that at
Keswick we also saw Southey, but I do not remember him, though I
remember his (very ugly) house very well. In returning south we
saw Chester, and paid a visit to an old cousin of my mother's -
" Dosey (Theodosia) Leigh," who had many quaint sayings.
In allusion to her own maiden state, she would often complacently
quote the old Cheshire proverb "Bout's bare but it's yezzy."2
While at Chester, though I forget how, I
first became conscious how difficult the having Esther Maurice
for an aunt would make everything in life to me. I was, however,
at her wedding in November at Reading.
The winter of 1844-45 was the first of
many which were made unutterably wretched by "Aunt Esther."
Aunt Lucy had chastised me with rods, Aunt Esther did indeed
chastise me with scorpions. Aunt Lucy was a very refined person,
and a very charming and delightful companion to those she loved,
and, had she loved me, I should have been devoted to her. Aunt
Esther was, from her own personal characteristics, a person I
never could have loved. Yet my uncle was now entirely ruled by
her, and my gentle mother considered her interference in
everything as a cross which was "sent to her" to be
meekly endured. The society at the Rectory was now entirely
changed: all the relations of the Hare family, except the Marcus
Hares, were given to understand that their visits were unwelcome,
and the house was entirely filled with the relations of Aunt
Esther old Mr. and Mrs. Maurice; their married daughter Lucilla
Powell, with her husband and children; their unmarried daughters
- Mary, Priscilla, and Harriet.3 - Priscilla, who now never left her bed, and
who was violently sick after everything she ate (yet with the
most enormous appetite), often for many months together.
With the inmates of the
house, the whole "tone" of the Rectory society was
changed. It was impossible entirely to silence Uncle Julius, yet
at times even he was subdued by his new surroundings, the circle
around him being incessantly occupied with the trivialities of
domestic or parochial detail, varied by the gossip of such a
tenth-rate provincial town as Reading, or reminiscences of the
boarding-school which had been their occupation and pride for so
many years. Frequently also the spare rooms were filled by former
pupils "young ladies" of a kind who would
announce their engagement by "The infinite grace of God has
put it into the heart of his servant Edmund to propose to me,"
or "I have been led by the mysterious workings of God's
providence to accept the hand of Edgar,"4 - expressions which
Aunt Esther, who wrote good and simple English herself, would
describe as touching evidences of a Christian spirit in her
But what was far more
trying to me was, that in order to prove that her marriage had
made no difference in the sisterly and brotherly relations which
existed between my mother and Uncle Julius, Aunt Esther insisted
that my mother should dine at the Rectory every night, and
as, in winter, the late return in an open carriage was impossible,
this involved our sleeping at the Rectory and returning home
every morning in the bitter cold before breakfast. The hours
after five o'clock in every day of the much-longed-for, eagerly
counted holidays, were now absolute purgatory. Once landed at the
Rectory, I was generally left in a dark room till dinner at seven
o'clock, for candles were never allowed in winter in the room
where I was left alone. After dinner I was never permitted to
amuse myself, or to do anything, except occasionally to
net. If I spoke, Aunt Esther would say with a satirical smile,
"As if you ever could say anything worth hearing, as
if it was ever possible that any one could want to hear
what you have to say. If I took up a book, I was told instantly
to put it down again, it was "disrespect to my Uncle."
If I murmured, Aunt Esther, whose temper was absolutely
unexcitable, quelled it by her icy rigidity. Thus gradually I got
into the habit of absolute silence at the Rectory-a habit which
it took me years to break through: and I often still suffer from
the want of self-confidence engendered by reproaches and taunts
which never ceased: for a day-for a week-for a year they would
have been nothing: but for always, with no escape but my
own death or that of my tormentor! Water dripping for ever on a
stone wears through the stone at last.
the cruelty which I
received from my new aunt was repeated in various forms by her
sisters, one or other of whom was always at the Rectory. Only
Priscilla, touched by the recollection of many long visits during
my childhood at Lime, occasionally sent a kindly message or spoke
a kindly word to me from her sick-bed, which I repaid by constant
offerings of flowers. Most of all, however, did I feel the
conduct of Mary Maurice, who, by pretended sympathy and affection,
wormed from me all my little secrets - how miserable my uncle's
marriage had made my home-life, how I never was alone with my
mother now, &c.-and repeated the whole to Aunt Esther.
From this time Aunt Esther
resolutely set herself to subdue me thoroughly-to make me feel
that any remission of misery at home, any comparative comfort,
was as a gift from her. But to make me feel this thoroughly, it
was necessary that all pleasure and comfort in my home should
first be annihilated. I was a very delicate child, and suffered
absolute agonies from chilblains, which were often large open
wounds on my feet. Therefore I was put to sleep in "the
Barracks" - two dismal unfurnished, uncarpeted north rooms,
without fireplaces, looking into a damp courtyard, with a well
and a howling dog. My only bed was a rough deal trestle, my only
bedding a straw palliasse, with a single coarse blanket. The only
other furniture in the room was a deal chair, and a washing-basin
on a tripod. No one was allowed to bring me any hot water; and as
the water in my room always froze with the intense cold, I had to
break the ice with a brass candlestick, or, if that were taken
away, with my wounded hands. If, when I came down in the morning,
as was often the case, I was almost speechless from sickness and
misery, it was always declared to be "temper." I was
given "saur-kraut" to eat because the very smell of it
made me sick.
When Aunt Esther
discovered the comfort that I found in getting away to my dear
old Lea, she persuaded my mother that Lea's influence over me was
a very bad one, and obliged her to keep me away from her.
A favourite torment was
reviling all my own relations before me - my sister, &c. -
and there was no end to the insulting things Aunt Esther said of
People may wonder, and oh!
how often have I wondered that my mother did not put an end to it
all. But, inexplicable as it may seem, it was her extraordinary
religious opinions which prevented her doing so. She literally
believed and taught that when a person struck you on the right
cheek you were to invite them to strike you on the left also, and
therefore if Aunt Esther injured or insulted me in one way, it
was right that I should give her the opportunity of injuring or
insulting me in another! I do not think that my misery cost her
nothing, she felt it acutely; but because she felt it thus,
she welcomed it, as a fiery trial to be endured. Lea, however,
was less patient, and openly expressed her abhorrence of her own
trial in having to come up to the Rectory daily to dress my
mother for dinner, and walk back to Lime through the dark night,
coming again, shine or shower, in the early morning, before my
mother was up.
I would not have any one
suppose that, on looking back through the elucidation of years, I
can see no merits in my Aunt Esther Hare. The austerities which
she enforced upon my mother with regard to me she fully carried
out as regarded herself. "Elle vivait avec elle même comme
sa victime," as Mme. de Staël would describe it. She was
the Inquisition in person. She probed and analysed herself and
the motive of her every action quite as bitterly and mercilessly
as she probed and analysed others. If any pleasure, any even
which resulted from affection for others, had drawn her for an
instant from what she believed to be the path -and it was always
the thorniest path - of self-sacrifice, she would remorselessly
denounce that pleasure, and even tear out that affection from her
heart. She fasted and denied herself in everything; indeed, I
remember that when she was once very ill, and it was necessary
for her to see a doctor, she never could be. persuaded to consent
to it, till the happy idea occurred of inducing her to do so on a
Friday, by way of a penance! To such of the poor as accepted her
absolute authority, Aunt Esther was unboundedly kind, generous,
and considerate. To the wife of the curate, who leant confidingly
upon her, she was an unselfish and heroic nurse, equally
judicious and tender, in every crisis of a perplexing and
dangerous illness. To her own sisters and other members of her
family her heart and home were ever open, with unvarying
affection. To her husband, to whom her severe creed taught her to
show the same inflexible obedience she exacted from others, she
was utterly devoted. H is requirement that she should receive his
old friend, Mrs. Alexander, as a permanent inmate, almost on an
equality with herself in the family home, and surround her with
loving attentions, she bowed to without a murmur. But to a little
boy who was, to a certain degree, independent of her, and who had
from the first somewhat resented her interference, she knew how
to be - oh! she was - most cruel.
Open war was declared at
length between Aunt Esther and myself. I had a favourite cat
called Selma, which I adored, and which followed me about at Lime
wherever I went. Aunt Esther saw this, and at once insisted that
the cat must be given up to her. I wept over it in agonies of
grief: but Aunt Esther insisted. My mother was relentless in
saying that I must be taught to give up my own way and pleasure
to others; and forced to give it up if I would not do so
willingly, and with many tears, I took Selma in a basket to the
Rectory. For some days it almost comforted me for going to the
Rectory, because then I possibly saw my idolised Selma. But soon
there came a day when Selma was missing: Aunt Esther had ordered
her to be . . . hung!
From this time I never
attempted to conceal that I loathed Aunt Esther. I constantly
gave her the presents which my mother made me save up all my
money to buy for her-for her birthday, Christmas, New Year, &c.
- but I never spoke to her unnecessarily. On these occasions I
always received a present from her in return "The
Rudiments of Architecture," price nine-pence, in a red cover.
It was always the same, which not only saved expense, but also
the trouble of thinking. I have a number of copies of "The
Rudiments of Architecture" now, of which I thus became the
Only from Saturday till
Monday we had a reprieve. The nearness of Lime to the school
which my mother undertook to teach on Sundays was the excuse, but,
as I see from her journal, only the excuse, which she made to
give me one happy day in the week. How well I remember still the
ecstasy of these Saturday evenings, when I was once more alone
with the mother of my childhood, who was all the world to me, and
she was almost as happy as I was in playing with my kittens or my
little black spaniel "Lewes," and when she would sing
to me all her old songs "Hohenlinden," "Lord
Ullin's Daughter," &c. &c. - and dear Lea was able
to come in and out undisturbed, in the old familiar way.
Even the pleasures of this
home-Sunday, however, were marred in the summer, when my mother
gave in to a suggestion of Aunt Esther that I should be locked
into the vestry of the church between the services. Miserable
indeed were the three hours which - provided with a sandwich for
dinner - I had weekly to spend there; and though I did not expect
to see ghosts, the utter isolation of Hurstmonceaux Church, far
away from all haunts of men, gave my imprisonment an unusual
eeriness. Sometimes I used to clamber over the tomb of the Lords
Dacre, which rises like a screen against one side of the vestry,
and be stricken with vague terrors by the two grim white figures
lying upon it in the silent desolation, in which the scamper of a
rat across the floor seemed to make a noise like a whirlwind. At
that time two grinning skulls (of the founder and foundress of
the church, it was believed) lay on the ledge of the tomb; but
soon after this Uncle Julius and Aunt Esther made a weird
excursion to the churchyard with a spade, and buried them in the
dusk with their own hands. In the winter holidays, the intense
cold of the unwarmed church made me so ill, that it led to my
miserable penance being remitted. James II. used to say that
"Our Saviour flogged people to make them go out of the
temple, but that he never punished them to make them go in."5 But in my childhood no similar
abstinence was observed.
It was a sort of comfort
to me, in the real church-time, to repeat vigorously all the
worst curses in the Psalms, those in which David showed his most
appalling degree of malice (Psalm xxxv. 7-16, Psalm lix., Psalm
lxix. 22-29, Psalm cxl. 9, 10, for instance), and apply them to
Aunt Esther & Co. As all the Psalms were extolled as beatific,
and the Church of England used them constantly for edification,
their sentiments were all right, I supposed.
A great delight to me at
this time was a cabinet with many drawers which my mother
gave me to keep my
minerals and shells in, and above which was a little bookcase
filled with all my own books. The aunts in vain tried to persuade
her to take away "some of the drawers," so that I might
"never have the feeling that the cabinet was wholly mine."
When I returned to school, it was some amusement in my walks to
collect for this cabinet the small fossils which abound in the
Wiltshire limestone about Harnish, especially at Kellaway's
quarry, a point which it was always our especial ambition to
reach on holidays. At eleven years old I was quite learned about
Pentacrinites, Bellemnites, Ammonites, &c.
It was often a sort of
vague comfort to me at home that there was always one person at
Hurstmonceaux Rectory whom Aunt Esther was thoroughly afraid of.
It was the faithful old servant Collins, who had kept his master
in order for many years. I remember that my Uncle Marcus, when he
came to the Rectory, complained dreadfully of the tea, that the
water with which it was made was never "on the boil,"
&c. "they really must speak to Collins about it."
But neither Uncle Julius nor Aunt Esther would venture to do it;
they really couldn't: he must do it himself. And he did it, and
very ill it was received.
The summer holidays were
less miserable than those in the winter, because then, at least
for a time, we got away from Hurstmonceaux. In the summer of 1845,
I went with my mother to her old home of Alton for the first time.
How well I remember her burst of tears as we came in sight of the
White Horse, and the church-bells ringing, and the many simple
cordial poor people coming out to meet her, and blessing her. She
visited every cottage and every person in them, and gave feasts
in a barn to all the people. One day the school-children all sang
a sort of ode which a farmer's daughter had composed to her.
Never was my sweet mother more charming than in her intercourse
with her humble friends at Alton, and I delighted in threading
with her the narrow muddy foot-lanes of the village to the
different cottages, of old and young Mary Doust, of Lizzie Hams,
Avis Wootton, Betty Perry, &c.
Alton was, and is, quite
the most primitive place I have ever seen, isolated - an oasis of
verdure - in the midst of the great Wiltshire corn-plain, which
is bare ploughed land for so many months of the year; its two
tiny churches within a stone-throw of each other, and its
thatched mud cottages peeping out of the elms which surround its
few grass pastures. A muddy chalky lane leads from the village up
to "Old Adam," the nearest point on the chain of downs,
and close by is a White Horse, not the famous beast of Danish
celebrity, but something much more like the real animal. I was
never tired during this visit of hearing from his loving people
what "Uncle Augustus" had said to them, and truly his
words and his image seemed indelibly impressed upon their hearts.
Mrs. Pile, with whose father or sister we stayed when at Alton,
and who always came to meet us there, was one of those rare
characters in middle life who are really ennobled by the
ceaseless action of a true, practical, humble Christianity. I
have known many of those persons whom the world calls "great
ladies" in later times, but I have never known any one who
was more truly "a lady" in every best and highest sense,
than Mrs. Pile.
On leaving Alton, we went
to join the Marcus Hares in the express train at Swindon. Uncle
Marcus, Aunt Lucy, her maid Griffiths, and my mother were in one
compartment of the carriage; my little cousin Lucebella, Lea, an
elderly peer (Lord Saye and Sele, I think), and I were in the
other, for carriages on the Great Western were then divided by a
door. As we neared Windsor, my little cousin begged to be held up
that she might see if the flag were flying on the castle. At that
moment there was a frightful crash, and the carriage dashed
violently from side to side. In an instant the dust was so
intense that all became pitch darkness. "For God's sake put
up your feet and press backwards; I've been in this before,"
cried Lord S., and we did so. In the other compartment all the
inmates were thrown violently on the floor, and jerked upwards
with every lurch of the train. If the darkness cleared for an
instant, I saw Lea's set teeth and livid lace opposite. I learned
then for the first time that to put hand-bags in the net along
the top of the carriage is most alarming in case of accident.
They are dashed hither and thither like so many cannon-balls. A
dressing-case must be fatal.
After what seemed an
endless time, the train suddenly stopped with a crash. We had
really, I believe, been three minutes off the line. Instantly a
number of men surrounded the carriage. "There is not an
instant to lose, another train is upon you, they may not be able
to stop it," - and we were all dragged out and up the steep
bank of the railway cutting. Most strange, I remember, was the
appearance of our ruined train beneath, lying quite across the
line. The wheels of the luggage van at the end had come off and
the rest of the train had been dragged off the line gradually,
the last carriages first. Soon two trains were waiting (stopped)
on the blocked line behind. We had to wait on the top of the bank
till a new train came to fetch us from Slough, and when we
arrived there, we found the platform full of anxious inquirers,
and much sympathy we excited, quite black and blue with bruises,
though none of us seriously hurt.
Soon after we reached
Hurstmonceaux, my Uncle Marcus became seriously ill at the
Rectory. I went with my mother, Aunt Esther, and Uncle Julius to
his "charge" at Lewes, and, as we came back in the hot
evening, we were met by a messenger desiring us not to drive up
to the house, as Uncle Marcus must not be disturbed by the sound
of wheels. Then his children were sent to Lime, and my mother was
almost constantly at the Rectory. I used to go secretly to see
her there, creeping in through the garden so as not to be
observed by the aunts, for Aunt Lucy could scarcely bear her to
be out of sight. At last one morning I was summoned to go up to
the Rectory with all the three children. Marcus went in first
alone to his father's room and was spoken to: then I went in with
the younger ones. Lucebella was lifted on to the pillow, I stood
at the side of the bed with Theodore; my mother, Uncle Julius,
and Aunt Esther
were at the foot. I
remember the scene as a picture, and Aunt Lucy sitting stonily at
the bed's head in a violet silk dress. My dying uncle had a most
terrible look and manner, which haunted me long afterwards, but
he spoke to us, and I think gave us his blessing. I was told that
after we left the room he became more tranquil. In the night my
mother and Uncle Julius said the "Te Deum" aloud, and,
as they reached the last verse, he died.
Aunt Lucy never saw him
again. She insisted upon being brought away immediately to Lime,
and shut herself up there. She was very peculiar at this time and
for a year afterwards, one of her odd fancies being that her maid
Griffiths was always to breakfast and have luncheon with the
family and be waited on as a lady. We children all went to the
funeral, driving in the family chariot. I had no real affection
for Uncle Marcus, but felt unusually solemnised by the tears
around me. When, however, a peacock butterfly, for which I had
always longed, actually perched upon my prayer-book as I was
standing by the open grave in the most solemn moment, I could not
resist closing the book upon it, and my prayer-book still has the
marks of the butterfly's death. I returned to school in August
under the care of Mr. Hull, a very old friend of the family, who
had come to the funeral.
To MY MOTHER
August 8.-When we got to London we got a cab and went,
passing the Guildhall where Gog and Magog live, the great
Post-Office, the New Royal Exchange and the Lord Mayor's, to
Tavistock Square, where three young men rushed downstairs,
who Mr. Hull told me were his three sons - John, Henry, and
Frank. I had my tea when they had their dinner. After tea I
looked at Miss Hull's drawings. Mr. Hull gave me a book
called 'The Shadowless Man.' I stayed up to see a balloon,
for which we had to go upon the top of the house. The balloon
looked like a ball of fire. It scattered all kinds of lights,
but it did not stay up very long. We also saw a house on fire,
the flames burst out and the sky was all red.' Do give the
kitten and the kitten's kitten some nice bits from your tea
for my sake."
- We have been a picknick to Slaughter-ford. We all went in a
van till the woods of Slaughterford came in sight. Then we
walked up a hill, carrying baskets and cloaks between us till
we came to the place where we encamped. The dinner was
unpacked, and the cloth laid, and all sate round. When the
dishes were uncovered, there appeared cold beet bread, cheese,
and jam, which were quickly conveyed to the mouths of the
longing multitude. We then plunged into the woods and caught
the nuts by handfuls. Then I got flowers and did a sketch,
and when the van was ready we all went home. Goodbye darling
Mamma I have written a poem, which I send you-
Chippenham station thy music is sweet
up and down trains thy neighhourhood greet.
train to London directeth our path
down train will land us quite safely at Bath."
I don't know what. - O dearest Mamma, what do you think! Mr.
Dalby asked me to go to Compton Bassett with Mr. and Mrs.
Kilvert and Freddie Sheppard. . . . When we got to the gate
of a lovely rectory near Caine, Mrs. Sheppard flew to the
door to receive her son, as you would me, with two beautiful
little girls his sisters. After dinner I went with Freddie
into the garden, and to the church, and saw the peacocks and
silver pheasants, and made a sketch of the rectory. On Sunday
we had prayers with singing and went to church twice, and saw
a beautiful avenue where the ground was covered with beech-nuts.
On Monday the Dalbys' carriage brought us to Chippenham to
the Angel, where we got out and walked to Harnish. Mr. Dalby
told me to tell you that having known Uncle Augustus so well,
he had taken the liberty to invite me to Compton."
"Oct 6. -
It is now only ten weeks and six days to the holidays. Last
night I had a pan of hot water for my feet and a warm bed,
and, what was worse, two horrible pills! and this morning
when I came down I was presented with a large breakfast-cup
of senna-tea, and was very sick indeed and had a very bad
stomach-ache. But to comfort me I got your dear letter with a
sermon, but who is to preach it?"
"Nov. 6. -
Dearest Mamma, as soon as we came down yesterday all our
dresses for the fifth of November were laid out. After
breakfast the procession was dressed, and as soon as the
sentinel proclaimed that the dock struck ten, the grand
procession set out: first Gumbleton and Sheppard dressed up
with straps, cocked hats, and rosettes, carrying between them,
on a chair, Samuel dressed as Guy Fawkes in a large cocked
hat and short cloak and with a lanthorn in his hand. Then
came Proby carrying a Union Jack, and Walter (Arnold) with
him, with rosettes and bands. Then King Alick with a crown
turned up with ermine, and round his leg a blue garter.
Behind him walked the Queen (Deacon Coles) with a purple
crown and long yellow robe and train, and Princess Elizabeth
(me) in a robe and train of pink and green. After the
procession had moved round the garden, singing
fifth of November, &c,'
the sentinel of the
guard announced that the cart of faggots was coming up the
hill . . . and in the evening was a beautiful bonfire and
"What a pity it
is that the new railway does not turn aside to save Lewes
Priory. I shall like very much to see the skeletons, but I
had much rather that Gundrada and her husband lay still in
their coffins, and that the Priory had not been disturbed. .
. . It is only five weeks now to the holidays."
- Counting to the 19th, and not counting the day of breaking
up, it is now only three weeks to the holidays. I will give
you a history of getting home. From Lewes I shall look out
for the castle and the Visitation church. Then I shall pass
Ringmer, the Green Man Inn, Laugh ton, the Bat and Ball; then
the Dicker, Horsebridge, the Workhouse, the turnpike, the
turn to Carter's Corner, the turn to Magham Down, Woodham's
Farm, the Deaf and Dumb House, the Rectory on the hill, the
Mile Post '15 miles to Lewes,' Lime Wood, the gate (oh!
when shall I be there!) - then turn in, the Flower Field, the
Beaney Field, the gate - oh! the garden - two figures
- John and Lea, - perhaps you - perhaps even the kittens will
come to welcome their master. Oh my Lime! in little more than
three weeks I shall be there!"
Dec. 1. - On Wednesday it will be, not counting breaking-up
day, two weeks, and oh! the Wednesday after we shall say 'one
week.' This month we break up! I dream of nothing, think of
nothing, but coming home. To-day we went with Mr. Walker (the
usher) to Chippenham, and saw where Lea and I used to go to
sit on the wooden bridge. . . . Not many more letters! not
many more sums!"
How vividly, how acutely,
I recollect that - in thy passionate devotion to my mother - I
used, as the holidays approached, to conjure up the most vivid
mental pictures of my return to her, and appease my longing with
the thought, of how she would rush out to meet me, of her
ecstatic delight, &c.; and then how terrible was the bathos
of the reality, when I drove up to the silent door of Lime, and
nobody but Lea took any notice of my coming; and of the awful
chill of going into the drawing-room and seeing my longed-for and
pined-for mother sit still in her chair by the fire till I went
up and kissed her. To her, who had been taught always to curtsey
not only to her father, but even to her father's chair, it was
only natural; but I often sobbed myself to sleep in a little-understood
agony of anguish - an anguish that she could not really care for
little more, and how much it is I
little less, and what worlds away!"6
In the winter of 1845-46,
"Aunt Lucy" let Rockend to Lord Beverley, and came to
live at Lime for six months with her three children, a governess,
and two, sometimes three, servants. As she fancied herself poor,
and this plan was economical, it was frequently repeated
afterwards. On the whole, the arrangement was satisfactory to me,
as though Aunt Lucy was excessively unkind to me, and often did
not speak a single word to me for many weeks together, and though
the children were most tormenting, Aunt Esther - a far greater
enemy - was at least kept at bay, for Aunt Lucy detested her
influence and going to the Rectory quite as cordially as I did.
How often I remember my
ever-impatient rebellion against the doctrine I was always taught
as fundamental - that my uncles and aunts must be always right,
and that to question the absolute wisdom and justice of their
every act - to me so utterly selfish - was typical of the meanest
and vilest nature. How odd it is that parents, and still more
uncles and aunts, never will understand, that whilst they are
criticising and scrutinising their children or nephews, the
latter are also scrutinising and criticising them. Yet so it is
investigation and judgment of character is usually mutual. During
this winter, however, I imagine that the aunts were especially
amiable, as in the child's play which I wrote, and which we all
acted "The Hope of the Katzekoffs" - they, with
my mother, represented the three fairies "Brigida, Rigida,
and Frigida" Aunt Lucy, I need hardly say, being Frigida,
and Aunt Esther Rigida.
Being very ill with the
measles kept me at home till the middle of February. Aunt Lucy's
three children also had the measles, and were very ill; and it is
well remembered as characteristic of Aunt Esther, that she said
when they were at the worst - "I am very glad they
are so ill: it is a well-deserved punishment because their mother
would not let them go to church for fear they should catch it
there." Church and a love of church was the standard by
which Aunt Esther measured everything. In all things she had the
inflexible cruelty of a Dominican. She would willingly and
proudly undergo martyrdom herself for her own principles, but she
would torture without remorse those who differed from her.
When we were recovering,
Aunt Lucy read "Guy Mannering" aloud to us. It was
enchanting. I had always longed beyond words to read Scott's
novels, but had never been allowed to do so "they
were too exciting for a boy!" But usually, as Aunt Lucy and
my mother sat together, their conversation was almost entirely
about the spiritual things in which their hearts, their mental
powers, their whole being were absorbed. The doctrine of Pascal
was always before their minds "La vie humaine n'est
qu'une illusion perpetuelle," and their treasure was truly
set in heavenly places. They would talk of heaven in detail just
as worldly people would talk of the place where they were going
for change of air. At this time, I remember, they both wished no,
I suppose they only thought they wished - to die: they talked of
longing, pining for "the coming of the kingdom," but
when they grew really old, when the time which they had wished
for before was in all probability really near, and when they were,
I believe, far more really prepared for it, they ceased to wish
for it. "By-and-by" would do. I imagine it is always
Aunt Lucy loved her second
boy Theodore much the best of her three children, and made the
greatest possible difference between him and the others. I
remember this being very harshly criticised at the time; but now
it seems to me only natural that in any family there must be
favourites. It is with earthly parents as Dr. Foxe said in a
sermon about God, that "though he may love all his children,
he must have an especial feeling for his saints."
To MY MOTHER.
- My dearest, dearest Mamma, to-day is my 12th birthday. How
well I remember many happy birthdays at Stoke, when before
breakfast I had a wreath of snowdrops, and at dinner a little
pudding with my name in plums. . . . I will try this new year
to throw away self and think less how to please it. Good-bye
In March the news that my
dear (Mary) Lea was going to marry our man-servant John Gidman
was an awful shock to me. My mother might easily have prevented
this (most unequal) marriage, which, as far as Mrs. Leycester was
concerned, was an elopement. It was productive of great trouble
to us afterwards, and obliged me to endure John Gidman, to wear
him like a hair-shirt, for forty years. Certainly no ascetic
torments can be so severe as those which Providence occasionally
ordains for us. As for our dear Lea herself, her marriage brought
her misery enough, but her troubles always stayed in her heart
and never filtered through. As I once read in an American novel,
"There ain't so much difference in the troubles on this
earth, as there is in the folks that have to bear them."
To My MOTHER.
- O my very dearest Mamma. What news! what news! I cannot
believe it! and yet sometimes I have thought it might happen,
for one night a long time ago when I was sitting on Lea's lap-O
what shall I call her now? may I still call her Lea? Welt one
night a long time ago, I said that Lea would never marry, and
she asked why she shouldn't, and said something about
'Suppose I marry John.' . . . I was sure she could never
leave us. I put your letter away for some time till Mrs.
Kilvert sent me upstairs for my gloves. Then I opened it, and
the first words I saw were 'Lea - married.' I was so
surprised I could not speak or move. . . . How very odd it
will be for Lea to be a bride. Why, John is not half so old
as Lea, is he? . . . Tell me all about the wedding-every
smallest weeest thing - What news! what news!"
MARY (LEA) GIDMAN to
A. J. C. H.
"Stoke, March 29,
1846. - My darling child, a thousand thanks for your dear
little letter I hope the step I have taken will not displease
you. If there is anything in it you don't like, I must humbly
beg your pardon. I will give you what account I can of the
wedding. Your dear Mamma has told you that she took me to
Goldstone. Then on Saturday morning a little after nine my
mother's carriage and a saddle-horse were brought to the gate
to take us to Cheswardine. My sister Hannah and her husband
and George Bentley went with me to church. I wished you had
been with me so very much, but I think it was better that
your dear Mamma was not there, for very likely it would have
given her a bad headache and have made me more nervous than I
was, but I got through all of it better than I expected I
should. As soon as it was over the bells began to ring. We
came back to Goldstone, stayed about ten minutes, then went
to Drayton, took the coach for Whitmore, went by rail to
Chelford, and then we got a one-horse fly which took us to
Thornycroft to John's grandfather's, where we were received
with much joy. We stayed there till Wednesday, then went for
one night to Macclesfield, and came back to Goldstone on
Thursday and stayed there till Friday evening. Then we came
back to Stoke. The servants received us very joyfully, and
your dear Mamma showed me such tender feelings and kindness,
it is more than I can tell you now. My dear child, I hope you
will always call me Lea. I cannot bear the thought of your
changing my name, for the love I have for you nothing can
ever change. My mother and Hannah wish you had been in the
garden with me gathering their flowers, there is such a
quantity of them. . . . We leave Stoke to-morrow, and on
Friday reach your and our dear Lime. I shall write to you as
soon as we get back, and now goodbye, my darling child, from
your old affectionate nurse Lea."
The great age of my dear
Grandfather Leycester, ninety-five, had always made his life seem
to us to hang upon a thread, and very soon after I returned home
for my summer holidays, we were summoned to Stoke by the news of
his death. This was a great grief to me, not only because I was
truly attached to the kind old man, but because it involved the
parting with the happiest scenes of my childhood, the only home
in which I had ever been really happy. The dear Grandfather's
funeral was very different from that which I had attended last
year, and I shed many tears by his grave in the churchyard
looking out upon the willows and the shining Terne. Afterwards
came many sad partings, last visits to Hawkestone, Buntingsdale,
Goldstone; last rambles to Heishore, Jackson's Pool, and the
Islands; and then we all came away-my Uncle Penrhyn first, then
Aunt Kitty, then my mother and Lea and I, and lastly Grannie, who
drove in her own carriage all the way to her house in New Street,
Spring Gardens, the posting journey, so often talked of actually
taking place at last. Henceforward Stoke seemed to be transferred
to New Street, which was filled with relics of the old Shropshire
Rectory, and where Mrs. Cowbourne, Margaret Beeston, Anne Tudor,
and Richard the footman, with Rose the little red and white
spaniel, were household inmates as before.
I thought the house in New
Street charming - the cool, old-fashioned, bow-windowed rooms,
which we should now think very scantily furnished, and like those
of many a country inn the dining-room opening upon wide leads,
which Grannie soon turned into a garden; the drawing-room, which
had a view through the trees of the Admiralty Garden to the
Tilting Yard, with the Horse Guards and the towers of Westminster
The grief of leaving Stoke
made me miserably unwell, and a doctor was sent for as soon as I
arrived at the Stanleys' house, 38 Lower Brook Street, who came
to me straight from a patient ill with the scarlatina, and gave
me the disorder. For three weeks I was very seriously ill in hot
summer weather, in stifling rooms,
LEYCESTER'S GRAVE, STOKE CHURCHYARD.
looking on the little
black garden and chimney-pots at the back of the house. Mary and
Kate Stanley were sent away from the infection, and no one came
near me except my faithful friend Miss Clinton, who brought me
eau-de-Cologne and flowers. It was long foolishly concealed from
me that I had the scarlatina, and therefore, as I felt day after
day of the precious holidays ebbing away, while I was pining for
coolness and fresh country air, my mental fever added much to my
bodily ailments, whereas, when once told that I was seriously ill,
I was quite contented to lie still. Before I quite recovered, my
dear nurse Lea became worn-out with attending to me, and we had
scarcely reached Lime before she became most dangerously ill with
a brain-fever For many days and nights she lay on the brink of
the grave, and great was my agony while this precious life was in
danger. Aunt Esther, who on great occasions generally
behaved kindly, was very good at this time, ceased to persecute
me, and took a very active part in the nursing.
At length our dear Lea was
better, and as I was still very fragile, I went with my mother
and Anne Brooke, our cook, to Eastbourne-then a single row of
little old-fashioned houses by the sea-where we inhabited, I
should think, the very smallest and humblest lodging that ever
was seen. I have often been reminded of it since in reading the
account of Peggotty's cottage in "David Copperfield."
It was a tiny house built of flints, amongst the boats, at the
then primitive end of Eastbourne, towards the marshes, and its
miniature rooms were filled with Indian curiosities, brought to
the poor widow to whom it belonged by a sailor son. The Misses
Thomas of Wratton came to see us here, and could hardly suppress
their astonishment at finding us in such a place - and when the
three tall smart ladies had once got into our room, no one was
able to move, and all had to go out in the order in which they
were nearest the door. But my mother always enjoyed exceedingly
these primitive places, and would sit for hours on the beach with
her Taylor's "Holy Living" or her "Christian Year,"
and had soon made many friends amongst the neighbouring cottagers,
whose houses were quite as fine as her own, and who were
certainly more cordial to the lady who had not minded settling
down as one of themselves, than they would have been to a smart
visitor in a carriage. The most remarkable of these people was an
excellent old woman called Deborah Pattenden, who lived in the
half of a boat. turned upside down, and had had the most
extraordinary adventures. My first literary work was her
biography, which told how she had suffered the pains of drowning,
burning (having been enveloped in flames while struck by
lightning), and how she had lain for twenty-one days in a rigid
trance (from "the plague," she described it) without
food or sign of life, and was near being buried alive. We found a
transition from our cottage life in frequent visits to Compton
Place, where Mrs. Cavendish, mother of the 7th Duke of Devonshire,
lived then, with her son Mr. Cavendish, afterwards Lord Richard.
She was a charming old lady, who always wore white, and had very
simple and very timid manners. But she was fond of my mother, who
was quite adored by Lord Richard, by whom we were kept supplied
with the most beautiful fruits and flowers of the Compton Gardens.
He was very kind to me also, and would sometimes take me to his
bookcases and tell me to choose any book I liked for my own. We
seldom afterwards passed a summer without going for a few days to
Compton Place as long as Mrs. Cavendish lived there. It was there
that I made my first acquaintance with the existence of many
simple luxuries to which, in our primitive life, we were quite
unaccustomed, but which in great houses are considered almost as
necessaries. The Cavendishes treated us as distant relations, in
consequence of the marriage of my Grandmother's cousin, Georgiana
Spencer, with the 5th Duke of Devonshire.
When I returned to Harnish
I was still wretchedly ill, and the constant sickness under which
I suffered, with the extreme and often unjust severity of Mr.
Kilvert, made the next half year a very miserable one. In the
three years and a half which I had spent at Harnish, I had been
taught next to nothing - all our time having been frittered in
learning Psalms by heart, and the Articles of the Church of
England (I could say the whole thirty-nine straight off when
eleven years old), &c. Our history was what Arrowsmith's
Atlas used to describe Central Africa to be " a barren
country only productive of dates." I could scarcely construe
even the easiest passages of Caesar. Still less had I learned to
play at any ordinary boys' games; for, as we had no playground,
we had naturally never had a chance of any. I was glad of any
change. It was delightful to leave Harnish for good at Christmas,
1846, and the prospect of Harrow was that of a voyage of
In January 1847 my mother
took me to Harrow. Dr. Vaughan was then headmaster, and Mr.
Simpkinson, who had been long a curate of Hurstmonceaux, and who
had been consequently one of the most familiar figures of my
childhood, was a master under him, and, with his handsome, good-humoured
sister Louisa, kept the large house for boys beyond the church,
which is still called "The Grove." It was a wonderfully
new life upon which I entered; but though a public school was a
very much rougher thing then than it is now, and though the
fagging for little boys was almost ceaseless, it would not have
been an unpleasant life if I had not been so dreadfully weak and
sickly, which sometimes unfitted me for enduring the roughness to
which I was subjected. As a general rule, however, I looked upon
what was intended for bullying as an additional "adventure,"
which several of the big boys thought so comic, that they were
usually friendly to me and ready to help me: one who especially
stood my friend was a young giant - Twisleton, son of Lord Saye
and Sele. One who went to Harrow at the same time with me was my
connection Harry Adeane,7 whose mother was Aunt Lucy's sister, Maude
Stanley of Alderley. I liked Harry very much, but though he was
in the same house, his room was so distant that we saw little of
each other; besides, my intense ignorance gave me a very low
place in the school, in the Lower Fourth Form. It was a great
amusement to write to my mother all that occurred. In reading it,
people might imagine my narration was intended for complaint, but
it was nothing of the kind: indeed, had I wished to complain, I
should have known my mother far too well to complain to her.
To MY MOTHER.
1847. - When I left you, I went to school and came back
to pupil room, and in the afternoon had a solitary walk to
the skating pond covered with boys. . . . In the evening two
big boys rushed up, and seizing Buller (another new boy) and
me, dragged us into a room where a number of boys were
assembled. I was led into the midst. Bob Smith8 whispered to me to do as I
was bid and I should not be hurt. On the other side of the
room were cold chickens, cake, fruit, &c., and in a
corner were a number of boys holding open little Dirom's
mouth, and pouring something horrible stirred up with a
tallow-candle down his throat. A great boy came up to me and
told me to sing or to drink some of this dreadful mixture. I
did sing - at least I made a noise - and the boys were
pleased because I made no fuss, and loaded me with oranges
being what is called a whole holiday, I have had to
stay in three hours more than many of the others because of
my slowness in making Latin verses. This evening Abel Smith
sent for me to his room, and asked me if I was comfortable,
and all sorts of things."
- What do you think happened last night? Before prayers I was
desired to go into the fifth form room, as they were having
some game there. A boy met me at the door, ushered me in, and
told me to make my salaam to the Emperor of Morocco, who was
seated cross-legged in the middle of a large counterpane,
surrounded by twenty or more boys as his saving-men. I was
directed to sit down by the Emperor, and in the same way. He
made me sing, and then jumped off the counterpane, as he said,
to get me some cake. Instantly all the boys seized the
counterpane and tossed away. Up to the ceiling I went and
down again, but they had no mercy, and it was up and down,
head over heels, topsy-turvy, till some one called out 'Satus'
- and I was let out, very sick and giddy at first, but soon
all right again. . . . I am not much bullied except by
Davenport, who sleeps in my room."
- To-day it has snowed so hard that there has been nothing
but snow-balling, and as I was coming out of school, hit by a
shower of snowballs, I tumbled the whole way down the two
flights of stairs headlong from the top to the bottom."
- Yesterday I was in my room, delighted to be alone for once,
and very much interested in the book I was reading, when D.
came in and found the fire out, so I got a good licking. He
makes me his fag to go errands, and do all he bids me, and if
I don't do it, he beats me, but I don't mind much. However, I
have got some friends, for when I refused to do my week-day
lessons on a Sunday, and was being very much laughed at for
it, some one came in and said, 'No, Hare, you're quite right;
never mind being laughed at.' However I am rather lonely
still with no one to speak to or care about me. Sometimes I
take refuge in Burroughs' study, but I cannot do that often,
or he would soon get tired of me. I think I shall like
Waldegrave,9 a new boy who
has come, but all the others hate him. Blomfield10 is a nice boy,
but his room is very far away. Indeed, our room is so
secluded, that it would be a very delightful place if D. did
not live in it. In playtime I go here, there, and everywhere,
but with no one and doing nothing. Yet I like Harrow very
much, though I am much teased even in my form by one big boy,
who takes me for a drum, and hammers on my two sides all
lesson-time with doubled fists. However, Miss Simmy says, if
you could see my roses you would be satisfied."
- There are certain fellows here who read my last letter to
you, and gave me a great lecture for mentioning boys' names;
but you must never repeat what I say: it could only get me
into trouble. The other night I did a desperate thing. I
appealed to the other boys in the house against D. Stapleton
was moved by my story, and Hankey and other boys listened.
Then a boy called Sturt was very much enraged at D., and
threatened him greatly, and finally D., after heaping all the
abuse he could think of upon me, got so frightened that he
begged me to be friends with him. I cannot tell you how I
have suffered and do suffer from my chilblains, which have
become so dreadfully bad from going out so early and in all
- To-day, after half-past one Bill I went down the town with
Buller and met two boys called Bocket and Lory. Lory and I,
having made acquaintance, went for a walk. This is only the
second walk I have had since I came to Harrow. I am
perpetually 'Boy in the House.'"
- To-day at 5 minutes to 11, we were all told to go into the
Speech-room (do you remember it?), a large room with raised
benches all round and a platform in the middle and places for
the monitors. I sat nearly at the top of one of these long
ranges. Then Dr. Vaughan made a speech about snow-balling at
the Railway Station (a forbidden place), where the engine-drivers
and conductors had been snow-balled, and he said that the
next time, if he could not find out the names of the guilty
individuals, the whole school should be punished. To-day the
snow-balling, or rather ice-balling (for the balls are so
hard you can hardly cut them with a knife), has been terrific:
some fellows almost have their arms broken with them."
- I am in the hospital with dreadful pains in my stomach. The
hospital is a large room, very quiet, with a window looking
out into the garden, and two beds in it. Burroughs is in the
other bed, laid up with a bad leg. . . . Yesterday, contrary
to rule, Dr. Vaughan called Bill, and then told all the
school to stay in their places, and said that he had found
the keyhole of the cupboard in which the rods were kept
stopped up, and that if he did not find out before one o'clock
who did it, he would daily give the whole school, from the
sixth form downwards, a new pun. of the severest kind. . . .
There never was anything like the waste of bread here, whole
bushels are thrown about every day, but the bits are given to
the poor people. . I like Valletort11 very much, and
I like Twisleton,12 who is one of
the biggest boys in this house."
I went to the Harrisites' steeplechase. Nearly all the school
were there, pouring over hedges and ditches in a general rush.
The Harrisites were distinguished by their white or striped
pink and white jackets and Scotch caps, and all bore flags."
- I have been out jumping and hare-and-hounds, but we have
hard work now to escape from the slave-drivers for racket-fagging.
Sometimes we do, by one fellow sacrificing himself and
shutting up the others head downwards in the turn-up
bedsteads, where they are quite hidden; and sometimes I get
the old woman at the church to hide me in the little room
over the porch till the slave-drivers have passed."
- I have just come back from Sheen, where I have had a very
happy Exeat. Uncle Norwich gave me five shillings, and Uncle
MRS STANLEY to HER
SISTER MRS. A. HARE.
1. - I never saw Augustus look anything like so well -
and it is the look of health, ruddy and firm, and his face
rounder. The only thing is that he stoops, as if there were
weakness in the back, but perhaps it is partly shyness, for I
observed he did it more at first. He did look very shy the
first day-hung his head like a snowdrop, crouched out of
sight, and was with difficulty drawn out; but I do not think
it is at all because he is cowed, and he talked more
yesterday. The Bishop was very much pleased with him, and
thought him much improved. . . . He came without either
greatcoat or handkerchief; but did not appear to want the one,
and had lost the other He said most decidedly that he was
happy, far happier than at Mr. Kilvert's, happier than he
expected to be; and, though I felt all the time what an
uncongenial element it must be, he could not be in it under
To MY MOTHER.
- As you are ill, I will tell you my adventure of yesterday
to amuse you. I went out with a party of friends to play at
hare-and-hounds. I was hare, and ran away over hedges and
ditches. At last, just as I jumped over a hedge, Macphail
caught me, and we sat down to take breath. Just then Hoare
ran up breathless and panting, and threw himself into the
hedge crying out, 'We are pursued by navvies.' The next
minute, before I could climb back over the hedge, I found
myself clutched by the arm, and turning round, saw that a
great fellow had seized me, and that another had got Macphail
and another Hodgson Junior. They dragged us a good way, and
then stopped and demanded our money, or they would have us
down and one should suffer for all. Macphail and Hoare were
so frightened that they gave up all their money at once, but
I would not give up mine. At last they grew perfectly furious
and declared they would have our money to buy beer. I
then gave them a shilling, but hid the half-sovereign I had
in my pocket, and after we had declared we would not give
them any more, they went away.
"To cut the
story short, I got Hodgson Junior (for the others were afraid)
to go with me to the farmer on whose land the men were
working, and told what had happened. He went straight to the
field where the navvies were and - made them give up all our
money, - turned one out of his service, and threatened the
other two, and we came back to Harrow quite safe, very glad
to have got off so well.
"What do YOU
think! the fever has broken out in Vaughan's, and if any
other house catches it, we are to go-home!"
- All the school is in an uproar, for all Vaughan's house
went down yesterday. Two boys have the fever, and if any one
else catches it, we shall all go home. What fun it will be.
The fever came straight from Eton with some velocipedes.
Everybody now thinks everybody else has the fever I am
shunned by all because I have a sore throat, and half-a-yard
is left on each side of me in form. Boys suck camphor in
school. Endless are the reports. 'Pember's got the fever.'
'No, he hasn't.' - 'Yes, he has, for it's broke out in
Harris's.' 'Then we shall all go home. Hurrah !'
'No, it's all a gull!'"
with the navvies has been a very good thing for me, as some
fellows say 'that little Hare has really got some pluck.'"
- Hurrah! Vaughan has caught the fever. The Vaughanites are
all gone. Valletort is gone. Waldegrave is gone. But the
great news is we all go home the day after to-morrow. Now if
you don't write the instant you get this you will delay my
return home. So pray, Mamma, do-do-do-do. I cannot write much,
for the school is so hurry-scurry. There will be no Trial-oh
hip! hip! Oh pray do write directly! I shall see you soon.
holidays), "April 14.-When I got here, I found
Davenport was gone and Dirom come into our room. The bells
rang all night for the return of the school. We are busy at
our Trial, which we do with our masters in form. We did Ovid
this morning, and I knew much more about it than many other
To-day has been a whole holiday, as it always is at the
end of Trial. I have got off very well, and learnt eighty
lines more than I need have done, for we need only have
learnt fifty lines, and I knew more of other things than many
"To-day was 'Election
Day' - commonly called Squash Day (oh, how glad I am it is
over), the day most dreaded of all others by the little boys,
when they get squashed black and blue, and almost turned
inside out. But you won't understand this, so I will tell you.
Platt, horrid Platt, stands at one side of Vaughan's desk in
school, and Hewlett at the other, and read the names. As they
are read, you go up and say who you vote for as cricket-keeper,
and as you come out, the party you vote against squash you,
while your party try to rescue you. Sometimes this lasts a
whole hour (without exaggeration it's no fun), but to-day at
breakfast the joyful news came that the fourth form was let
off squash. It was such a delight. The fifth form were
determined that we should have something though, for as we
came out of Bill they tried to knock our hats to pieces, and
ourselves to pieces too."
- The boys have all begun to wear straw-hats and to buy
insect-nets, for many are very fond of collecting insects,
and to my delight I found, when I came up, that they did not
at all despise picking primroses and violets."
- The other day, as Sturt was staying out, I had to fag in
his place. I had to go to that horrid Platt at Ben's. At the
door of Ben's was P__________. I asked him which was Platt's
room, and he took me upstairs and pushed me into a little
dark closet, and when I got out of that, into a room where a
number of fellows were at tea, and then to another. At last I
came to some stairs where two boys were sitting crosslegged
before a door. They were the tea-fags. I went in, and there
were Platt and his brother, very angry at my being late, but
at last they let me go, or rather I was kicked out of the
"To-day we went
to hear a man read the 'Merchant of Venice' in Speech-room.
Such fun: I liked it so much."
"May 1. -
Yesterday I was in a predicament. Hewlett, the head of our
house, sent me with a note to Sporling, the head of the
school in Vaughan's new house. I asked a boy which was
Sporling's. He told me that I should find him upstairs, so I
went up stairs after stairs, and at the top were two monitors,
and as I looked bewildered by the long passages, they told me
which was Sporling's room. When I came out with an' answer to
the note, they called after me, and ordered me to give
Hewlett their compliments, and tell him not to be in too
great a hurry to get into Sporling's shoes. You must obey a
monitor's orders, and if you don't you get a wapping; but I
was pretty sure to get a wapping anyway-from the monitors if
I did not deliver the message, and from Hewlett for its
impertinence. I asked a great many boys, and they all said I
must tell Hewlett directly. At last I did he was in a great
rage, but said I might go.
"I have 7s. 6d.
owed me, for as soon as the boys have any money they are
almost obliged to lend it; at least you never have any peace
till it is all gone. Some of the boys keep rabbits in the
wells of their studies, but to-night Simmy has forbidden this."
"June. - On
Sunday in the middle of the Commandments it was so hot in
chapel that Kindersley fell down in a fit. He was seized head
and foot and carried out, struggling terribly, by Smith and
Vernon and others: and the boys say that in his fit he seized
hold of Mr. Middlemist's (the Mathematical Master's) nose and
gave it a very hard tweak; but how far this is true I cannot
tell. However, the whole chapel rose up in great
consternation, some thinking one thing and some another, and
some not knowing what to think, while others perhaps thought
as I did, that the roof was coming down. Dr. Vaughan went on
reading the prayers, and Kiridersley shrieking, but at last
all was quiet. Soon, however, there was another row, for
Miles fainted, and he was carried out, and then several
others followed his example. That night was so hot that many
of the boys slept on the bare floor, and had no bedclothes on,
but the next day it rained and got quite cold, and last night
we were glad of counterpanes and blankets again."
Holiday. - The cricket-fagging, the dreadful,
horrible cricket-fagging comes upon me today. I am Boy in the
House on the extra whole holiday, and shall have cricket-fagging
in the evening at the end of a hard day's other fagging."
I must write about the awful storm of last night. I
had been very ill all day) and was made to take a powder in
marmalade - Ah-h-bah! - and went to sleep about twelve with
the window wide open because of the heat. At half-past two I
awoke sick, when to my astonishment, it being quite dark,
flash after flash of lightning illuminated the room and
showed how the rain was pouring in floods through the open
window. The wind raged so that we thought it would blow the
house down. We heard the boys downstairs screaming out and
running about, and Simmy and Hewlett trying to keep order. I
never saw such a storm. All of a sudden, a long loud clap of
thunder shook the house, and hail like great stones mingled
with the rain came crashing in at the skylights. Another
flash of lightning illuminated the room, and continued there
(I suppose it must have struck something) in one broad flame
of light, bursting out like flames behind the window: I
called out 'Fire, fire, the window's on fire.' This woke
Buller, who had been sleeping soundly all this time, and he
rushed to the window and forced it down with the lightning
full in his eyes. Again all was darkness, and then another
flash showed what a state the room was in-the books literally
washed off the table, and Forster and Dirom armed with foot-pans
of water Then I threw myself on my bed in agonies of sickness:
not a drop of water was to be had to drink: at last Buller
found a little dirty rain-water, and in an instant I was
dreadfully sick. . . . You cannot think what the heat was, or
what agonies of sickness I was in."13
- I have cricket-fagged. Maude, my secret helper in
everything, came and told me what to do. But one ball came
and I missed it, then another, and I heard every one say, 'Now
did you see that fool; he let a ball pass. Look. Won't he get
wapped!' I had more than thirty balls and missed all but one-yet
the catapulta was not used. I had not to throw up to any
monitors; Platt did not come down for some time, and I had
the easiest place on the cricket-field, so it will be much
worse next time. Oh, how glad I was when half-past eight came!
and when I went to take my jacket up, though I found it
wringing wet with dew.
"The next day
was Speech-day, but, with my usual misfortune, I
was Boy in the House. However I got off after one o'clock.
All the boys were obliged to wear straw-coloured or lavender
kid-gloves and to be dressed very smart. . . . When the
people came out of Speeches, I looked in vain for Aunt Kitty,
but Aunt Kitty never came; so, when we had cheered everybody
of consequence, I went back with the others to eat up the
remains of Simmy's fine luncheon, and you may guess how we
revelled in jellies and fruit.
"The boys in our
house now play at cricket in the corridor"
"June. - I
have been cricket-fagging all evening, and it was
dreadful; Platt was down, the catapulta was used, and there
were very few fags, so I had very hard fagging. . . . Platt
bellowed at me for my stupidity, and Platt's word is an
oracle, and Platt's nod strikes terror into all around."
- I have been for my Exeat to Brook Street. . . At breakfast
the Archbishop of Dublin came in. He is a very funny old man14 and says such funny things.
He gave us proverbs, and everybody a piece of good advice."
I have found a beautiful old house called Essingham
standing in a moat full of clear water. It is said to have
been inhabited once by Cardinal Wolsey.
"Last night I
cricket-fagged, very hard work, and I made Platt very angry;
but when I told him my name, he quite changed, and said I
must practise and learn to throw up better, and when the
other monitors said I ought to be wapped, Platt (!!) said, 'I
will take compassion upon him, because when I first came to
Harrow I could do no better.'"
If it had not been for
constant sickness, the summer holidays of 1847 would have been
very happy ones. I found my dear old Grandmother Mrs. Oswald
Leycester at Lime, which prevented our going to the Rectory, and
it was the greatest happiness to read to her, to lead her about,
and in every way to show my gratitude for past kindnesses at
Stoke. When she left us, we went for the rest of the holidays to
the Palace at Norwich, which was always enchanting to me - from
the grand old library with its secret room behind the bookcase,
to the little room down a staircase of its own, where the old
nurse Mrs. Burgess lived one of the thinnest and dearest old
women ever seen-surrounded by relics of her former charges. Aunt
Kitty was pleased with my improvement in drawing, and she and
Kate Stanley encouraged me very much in the endless sketches I
made of the old buildings in Norwich. "Honour the beginner,
even if the follower does better," is a good old Arabic
proverb which they thoroughly understood and practised. We spent
the day with the Gurneys at Earlham, where I saw the heavenly-minded
Mrs. Catherine Gurney ("Aunt Catherine") and also Mrs.
Fry, in her long dark dress and close white cap, and we went to
visit the Palgraves at Yarmouth in a wonderful old house which
once belonged to Ireton the regicide. But a greater delight was a
visit of several days which we paid to the Barings at Cromer Hall,
driving the whole way with the Stanleys through Blickling and
Aylsham, a journey which Arthur Stanley made most charming by the
books which he read to us about the places we passed through. We
lingered on the way with Miss Anna Gurney, a little old lady, who
was paralysed at a very early age, yet had devoted her whole life
to the good of those around her, and who, while never free from
suffering herself ( seemed utterly unconscious of her own trials
in thinking of those of others. She lived in a beautiful little
cottage at Northrepps, full of fossils and other treasures, close
to the sea-coast.
Lord and Lady Shrewsbury15 (the father and
mother of the Princesses Doria and Borghese) came to meet my
mother at Cromer Hall, perfectly full of the miraculous powers of
"L'Estatica" and "L'Addolorata," which they
had witnessed in Italy, and of which they gave most extraordinary
The kindness of "Uncle
Norwich" caused me to love him as much as I dreaded Uncle
Julius. In his dealings with his diocese I have heard that he was
apt as a bishop to be tremendously impetuous; but my aunt knew
how to calm him, and managed him admirably. He wonderfully
wakened up clerical life in Norfolk. Well remembered is the
sharpness with which he said to Dean Pellew, who objected to a
cross being erected on the outside of the cathedral, "Never
be ashamed of the cross, Mr. Dean, never be ashamed of the cross."
It was his custom to pay surprise visits to all Norwich churches
on Sunday afternoons. On one of these occasions, an old clergyman-fellow
of his college for forty years-who had lately taken a small
living in the town, was the preacher. High and dry was the
discourse. Going into the vestry afterwards, "A very old-fashioned
sermon, Mr. H.," said the Bishop. "A very good-fashioned
sermon I think, my lord," answered the vicar.
In those days a very
primitive state of things prevailed in the Norwich churches. A
clergyman, newly ordained, provided for by a title at St. George's,
Colegate, was exercised by finding the large well-thumbed folio
Prayer-book in the church marked with certain hieroglyphics.
Amongst these O and OP
frequently recurred. On the curate making inquiry of the clerk if
there were any instructions he ought to follow during the service,
he was informed that his active predecessor had established a
choir and had reopened an organ closed from time immemorial. He
had done this without any reference to the incumbent, who was so
deaf that he could hear neither organ nor choir. Thus it happened
that when they came to the "Venite," the incumbent read,
as usual, the first verse. From long usage and habit he knew, to
a second, the moment when the clerk would cease reading verse two,
and then commenced reading the third verse, the clerk below him
making frantic signs with his hand, which were quite
incomprehensible: and it was not until the reading of the fifth
verse that he understood he had better be silent altogether, and
leave the field to the organ and choir, of whose performances he
had not heard one single sound. He was determined not to be taken
aback again, so, consulting with the clerk, he elicited when the
performances of the organ would take place, and marked these for
his guidance with a large O or OP - organ plays.
When the curate of whom I
have spoken was first ordained, the incumbent gave him
instructions as to what he was to do. Afterwards he found him
visiting and over-zealous for the age, and said, "Now don't
do too much in the parish, and never give anything away."
The curate expressed surprise, when he added, "If you want
to give, always come to me - a suggestion the curate never
failed to carry out. The rector had a very poor opinion of
clergymen who wrote fresh sermons every week. "I've only got
two sermons for every Sunday in the year, and I preach them all
every year. I don't see why I should trouble myself to write any
more, for when I preach them, I find I don't recollect them
myself, so it's quite impossible the congregation should."
As reminiscences of a type of clergyman very common at this time,
but nearly extinct now, these notes seem worth recording.
Most of the Norfolk
clergy were then old-fashioned conservatives of the first water.
One day at a clerical dinner-party at the Palace, the Bishop,
probably with the view of improving the taste of his guests, said,
"When I first came into this diocese, I found the clergy
would drink nothing but port. I used every means I could think of
to alter a taste I could not myself enter into. All failed. At
last I hit upon something which I thought was sure to be
successful. I told my wine-merchant to send me the best of all
other wines and the nastiest of port. But the clergy still
insisted upon drinking the nasty port. So, when I felt my plan
had failed, I wrote to my wine-merchant again, and told him to
let them have it good."
The Bishop used to be
greatly amused by an epitaph in Bergh Apton Church, which said
that the man commemorated was "very free of his port,"
meaning that he was very hospitable (from portcullis), but
the common people always thought it meant that he drank a great
deal of port.
My dear old uncle was a
capital bishop, and his clergy gradually learnt to think him so.
But it was a sailor he had wished to be. He had been better
fitted for that profession originally. Indeed, when he was a very
little child he had such -a passion for the sea, that once when
he was missed from his cot, he was found asleep on the high shelf
of a wardrobe, having climbed up there because he thought it was
like a berth. Through life he was one of those men who never want
presence of mind, and this often stood him in good stead. One
Advent Sunday it was the Bishop's turn to preach in the cathedral,
where the soldiers in the barracks usually attend the service :
but it was terrible weather, and, with due regard to their pipe-clay,
they were all absent that morning. The Bishop had prepared his
sermon especially for the soldiers he expected to hear it, and he
had no other. But he was quite equal to the occasion, for, after
he had given out the text, he began "Now this is
the sermon I should have preached if the soldiers had been here,"
and went on, without concerning himself further about their
On another occasion he
fell fast asleep in the cathedral during the sermon. At the end,
when the choir broke out into the "Amen," he suddenly
awoke. In that moment he could not collect himself to remember
the words of the blessing, but, "Peace be with you" he
exclaimed very solemnly, and it did quite well.
with his snow-white hair and black eyebrows, and his eager
impetuous manner, was a somewhat startling figure to come upon
suddenly. There was a private door in the wall in a remote corner
of the palace-garden. A rather nervous clergyman who lived close
by had passed it for years, and had never seen it open. H is
curiosity was greatly excited about it. One day when he was
passing, he could not resist the impulse, and looking up and down
the road, and seeing neither the Bishop nor any of the Stanley
family about, though very shy, he stooped down to peep in at the
keyhole. At that moment the Bishop's key entered the lock on the
other side, the door flew open, and he found himself confronted
by the Bishop in person!
It was soon after we left
Norwich that Jenny Lind, then at the height of her fame, went to
stay at the Palace, and great was the family enthusiasm about her.
My aunt conceived an affection for her which was almost maternal.
Arthur Stanley admired her exceedingly, in spite of his hatred of
music, but amused her when he said, "I think you would be most
delightful if you had no voice.
At the end of August I
returned to Harrow.
To MY MOTHER.
10. - Alas! our form is under Mr. Oxenham. He has the
power of flogging, and does flog very often for the least
fault, for he really enjoys it. He is such an old man, very
old, very sharp, very indolent, very preachy. Sometimes he
falls asleep when we are in form, and the boys stick curl-papers
through his hair, and he never finds it out. He always calls
his boys 'stupid little fools,' without meaning anything
particular by it. This morning he said to me, 'Stuff and
nonsense, stupid little fool; don't make yourself a stupider
little fool than you are.' He is always called 'Billy.'"
I have been racket-fagging all afternoon. It is such
dismal work. You have to stand in one corner of the square
court and throw all the balls that come that way to the 'feeders,'
who throw them to the players when they are wanted. The great
amusement of P., one of those I fag for, is to hit the racket-balls
with all his might at the fags, and he tried to cut me off a
great many times, but missed. At last P. said, 'I'll go and
get another fag instead of that young beast Hare,' and he
went, but he never came back, or the fag either.
"One day our
room bought a pipkin, saucepan, and frying-pan to cook things
in, but Mrs. Collins (the matron) took away the frying-pan,
and the others were bagged. But we got another pipkin, and
one night as we were cooking some potatoes, in little slices
as we have them at home, they made such a smell that Mrs.
Collins came up, and told Simmy, and he was very angry, and
would not let us have fires for a week, and said we
should all have extra pupil-room; but fortunately he forgot
A. P. STANLEY to A.
J. C. H.
College, Oxford, Oct 16. - The Goblin presents his
compliments to the Ghost, and will give him a leaf of a bay-tree
from Delphi, a piece of marble from Athens, and a bit of tin
from the Cassiterides, on condition that the Ghost can tell
him where those places are, and where the Goblin shall send
A. J. C. H. to A.
"Delphi is the
capital of Phocis and the seat of the oracle in Greece.
Athens is capital of Attica in Greece, and the Cassiterides
are islands in the Western Ocean. The Ghost presents his
compliments to the Goblin, thanks him very much, tells him
where the places are, and begs him to send the things from
those places to the usual haunt of the Ghost. The Ghost has
communicated the Goblin's stories of the beautiful Hesketh
and Mrs. Fox to the boys at night. The Ghost flitted up
Harrow church-steeple yesterday, and was locked up inside.
Farewell, Goblin, from your most grateful cousin - the Ghost."
This letter reminds me
how L used to tell stories to the boys in our room after we had
gone to bed: it was by them that I was first asked to "tell
The winter of 1847-48 was
one of those which were rendered quite miserable to me by the way
in which I was driven to the Rectory, where 'Aunt Esther made me
more wretched than ever, and by being scarcely ever permitted to
remain in my own dear home. I fear that in later days I should
have acted a part, and pretended to like going to the
Rectory, when it would instantly have been considered unnecessary,
the one thought in the mind of all the family being that it was a
duty to force me to do what I disliked; but at that time I was
too ingenuous to indulge in even the most innocent kinds of
deception. My own brothers, Francis and William, who were now at
Eton, came to the Rectory for part of their holidays, 'but their
upbringing and their characters had so little in common with my
own, that we were never very intimate, though I rather liked them
than otherwise. They hated the Rectory, and got away from it
whenever they could.
Of all the miserable days
in the year, Christmas was the worst. I regarded it with loathing
unutterable. The presents of the quintessence of rubbish which I
had to receive from my aunts with outward grace and gratitude.
The finding all my usual avocations and interests cleared away.
The having to sit. for hours and hours pretending to be deeply
interested in the six huge volumes of Foxe's "Book of
Martyrs," one of which was always doled out for my mental
sustenance. The being compelled - usually with agonising
chilblains - to walk twice to church, eight miles through the
snow or piercing marsh winds, and sit for hours in mute anguish
of congelation, with one of Uncle Julius's interminable sermons
in the afternoon, about which at that time I heartily agreed with
a poor woman, Philadelphia Isted, who declared that they were
"the biggest of nonsense." Then, far the worst of all,
the Rectory and its sneerings and snubbings in the evening.
My mother took little or
no notice of all this - her thoughts, her heart, were far away.
To her Christmas was simply "the festival of the birth of
Christ." Her whole spiritual being was absorbed in it earth
did not signify: she did not and could not understand why it was
not always the same with her little boy.
I was not allowed to have
any holidays this year, and was obliged to do lessons all morning
with Mr. Venables, the curate.16 At this I wonder now, as every day my health
was growing worse. I was constantly sick, and grew so thin that I
was almost a skeleton, which I really believe now to have been
entirely caused by the way in which the miseries of my home life
preyed upon my excessively sensitive nervous disposition. And,
instead of my mind being braced, I was continually talked to
about death and hell, and urged to meditate upon them. Towards
the close of the holidays I was so ill that at last my mother was
alarmed, and took me to a Mr. Bigg, who declared that I had
distinct curvature of the spine, and put my poor little back into
a terrible iron frame, into which my shoulders were fastened as
into a vice. Of course, with this, I ought never to have
been sent back to Harrow, but this was not understood. Then, as
hundreds of times afterwards, when I saw that my mother was
really unhappy about me, I bore any amount of suffering without a
word rather than add to her distress, and I see now that my
letters are full of allusions to the ease with which I was
bearing "my armour" at school, while my own
recollectibn is one of intolerable anguish, stooping being almost
That I got on tolerably
well at Harrow, even with my "armour" on, is a proof
that I never was ill-treated there. I have often, however, with
Lord Eustace Cecil (who was at Harrow with me), recalled since
how terrible the bullying was in our time-of the constant cruelty
at "Harris's," where the little boys were always made
to come down and box in the evening for the delectation of the
fifth form: of how little boys were constantly sent in the
evening to Famish's - half-way to the cricket-ground, to bring
back porter under their greatcoats, certain to be flogged by the
head-master if they were caught, and to be "wapped" by
the sixth form boys if they did not go, and infinitely preferring
the former - of how, if the boys did not "keep up at
football, they were made to cut large thorn sticks out of the
hedges, and flogged with them till the blood poured down outside
their jerseys. Indeed, what with fagging and bullying, servility
was as much inculcated at Harrow in those days as if it was
likely to be a desirable acquirement in after life.
I may truly say that I
never learnt anything useful at Harrow, and had little chance of
learning anything. Hours and hours were wasted daily on useless
Latin verses with sickening monotony. A boy's school education at
this time, except in the highest forms, was hopelessly inane.
In some ways, however,
this " quarter" at Harrow was much pleasanter than the
preceding ones. I had a more established place in the school, and
was on more friendly terms with all the boys in my own house;
also, with my "armour," the hated racket-fagging was an
impossibility. I had many scrambles about the country with Buller17 in search of eggs
and flowers, which we painted afterwards most carefully and
perseveringly; and, assisted by Buller, I got up a sort of
private theatricals on a very primitive scale, turning Grimm's
fairy stories into little plays, which were exceedingly popular
with the house, but strictly forbidden by the tutor, Mr.
Simpkinson or "Simmy." Thus I was constantly in hot
water about them. One day when we had got up a magnificent scene,
in which I, as "Snowdrop," lay locked in a magic sleep
in an imaginary cave, watched by dwarfs and fairies, Simmy came
in and stood quietly amongst the spectators, and I was suddenly
awakened from my trance by the sauve qui feul which
followed the discovery. Great punishments were the result. Yet,
not long after, we could not resist a play on a grander scale-something
about the "Fairy Tilburina" out of the "Man in the
Moon," for which we learnt our parts and had regular dresses
made. It was to take place in the fifth form room on the ground-floor
between the two divisions of the house, and just as Tilburina (Buller)
was descending one stair-case in full bridal attire, followed by
her bridesmaids, of whom I was one, Simmy himself suddenly
appeared on the opposite staircase and caught us.
These enormities now made
my monthly "reports," when they were sent home,
anything but favourable; but I believe my mother was intensely
diverted by them: I am sure that the Stanleys were. A worse crime,
however, was our passion for cooking, in which we became
exceedingly expert. Very soon after a tremendous punishment for
having been caught for the second time frying potato chips, we
formed the audacious project of cooking a hare! The hare was
bought, and the dreadful inside was disposed of with much the
same difficulty and secrecy, and in much the same manner, in
which the Richmond murderess disposed of her victims; but we had
never calculated how long the creature would take to roast even
with a good fire, much more by our wretched embers: and long
before it was accomplished, Mrs. Collins, the matron, was down
upon us, and we and the hare were taken into ignominious custody.
Another great amusement
was making sulphur casts and electrotypes, and we really made
some very good ones.
My great love for
anything of historic romance, however, rendered the Louis
Philippe revolution the overwhelming interest of this quarter,
and put everything else into the shade. In the preceding autumn
the murder of the Duchesse de Praslin had occupied every one, and
we boys used to lie on the floor for hours poring over the
horrible map of the murder-room which appeared in the "Illustrated,"
in which all the pools of blood were indicated. But that was
nothing to the enthusiastic interest over the sack of the
Tuileries and the escape of the Royal Family: I have never known
anything like it in after life.
I have often heard since
much of the immoralities of a public-school life, but I can truly
say that when I was there, I saw nothing of them. A very few boys,
however, can change the whole character of a school, especially
in a wrong direction. "A little wormwood can pollute a hive
of honey," was one of the wise sayings of Pius II. I do not
think that my morals were a bit the worse for Harrow, but from
what I have heard since of all that went on there even in my time,
I can only conclude it was because-at that time certainly -
"je n'avais pas le gout du peché," as I once read in a
At Easter, 1848, I left
Harrow for the holidays, little imagining that I should never
return there. I should have been very sorry had I known it. On
the whole, the pleasurable "adventures" of a public-school
life had always outweighed its disagreeables; though I was never
in strong enough health for any real benefit or enjoyment.
1 Dr Quincey
says that Wordsworth was the only poet he ever met who could do
this, and certainly it is my experience.
2 To be without (a husband) is bare but it's easy.
3 Harriet survived all her sisters for many years, as the
wife of Edward Plumptre, Dean of Wells. She died in 1890. A
charming account of her has appeared in Boyd's "Twenty-five
Years at St. Andrews:" I thought her most unlike it.
4 Actual cases.
5 Memoires de " Madame," Lettre du 15 Juillet
6 R. Browning.
7 He afterwards married my cousin Lady Elizabeth Yorke.
8 Robert Smith, who afterwards married my connection
9 Afterwards Lord Radstock.
10 Son of the Bishop of London, Alfred Blomfield,
afterwards himself Bishop of Colchester.
11 Afterwards 4th Earl of Mount Edgecumbe.
12 Afterwards 14th Lord Saye and Sele.
13 This account is not the least exaggerated. I remember
the storm as one of the most awful things I ever saw. At this
time and long afterwards I was always very ill in a thunderstorm.
14 Dr. Whately.
15 This eccentric Lord Shrewsbury lived in great pomp at
Alton Towers, with an intense parade of magnificence. Once a
large party staying there included a French countess of very
noble lineage. One day after breakfast he went up to her in his
courteous way and said, "Madame, what will you be pleased to
d~ to-day? will you walk, or ride, or drive?"-' Oh, it is a
delightful day, I should like to drive." "Then, madame,
would you prefer an open or a close carriage?" "Oh,
an open carriage, if you please." "And, madame,
how many horses will you have?" "Oh, four-and-twenty
horses of course," she said laughing, "you know I never
go out without four-and-twenty horses." The afternoon came,
and at the appointed hour Lord Shrewsbury came to the lady and
said, "The carriage is at the door, madame, the horses are
there, but I must apologise for having only one outrider"
She rushed to the window, and, to her horror, saw a carriage to
which four-and-twenty grey horses were harnessed, each pair being
furnished with a postillion. Utterly terrified, the lady declared
that nothing should make her drive with them, but her fellow-guests
assured her she must. So at last she got in, and the twenty-four
horses took her for a short drive in the park. Then Lord
Shrewsbury had pity upon her, and twenty-two were unharnessed,
and she finished her drive with a pair. - Mr. E. Hussey's
16 A very kind friend of mine, afterwards Precentor of
17 William Wentworth Buller of Strete Raleigh in