I do not feel myself competent to undertake the conduct or superintendence of any prayers, nor can I in any way pledge myself to be present. Any attendance I might give would simply be that of a private person—no way official; it would be as that of a junior member of a family at domestic worship; it would be a matter of conformity, not of individual choice; my own feeling, meantime, being to leave it, as I understand the Quakers do, to spontaneous emotion; and so I confess I should prefer any arrangement which would make my absence not unnatural, as might for instance be the case if prayers were combined with a Greek Testament lesson not given by me.
Meantime, I am sure I should have every disposition to facilitate devotional arrangements. In fact, I should not unwillingly concede that it might be better that your Principal should be one who could officially join in them, as indeed it might be best could all your students be expected to attend.
But, whether better or worse, I had conceived your institution was to be one on which this maturer form would not be fixed, one which would offer a locus standi and a home for Theology and other subjects excluded from the College, and would aspire to encourage moral and religious sympathy, but would nevertheless leave all this to free, quiet and spontaneous development.
I confess I see great advantages in this system, but whether greater or less than those of the other, it is the only one in which I myself can co-operate. Not that I entertain any reluctance to attend the worship of others than those with whom I have hitherto been connected. Far from it. In Scotland I have always gone by preference to the Presbyterian churches; I have continually been to Mr. Martineau’s chapel at Liverpool; I have joined in the prayers of Unitarian families. If obliged to do one or other, I should probably go to Westminster Abbey rather than to any either Scotch or English Presbyterian chapel. But I have expressly testified my dislike to the Thirty-nine Articles, and you yourselves are quite as likely to attach to me such names as heretic, as I to apply that word to you.
I need not of course say that I suppose I have on these subjects, if not convictions, sentiments; not assuredly a definite theological creed, but what would be called religious views—views which may prove very different from those commonly entertained by Unitarians. But of course too, I can entirely disclaim everything approaching to a disposition to proselytise; so far from it, I hardly expect to make up my own mind as yet, and am not likely to meddle with those of others. At the same time, what a man feels for himself can hardly fail to affect his communications with his neighbour, nor should I in any way feel bound to suppress, because of the opinions of a young man’s parents and friends, anything which other reasons would not induce me to withhold. Hasty talking would be grievous misdoing, evasive dealing would vitiate everything; but I should hope to find other matters to occupy me with the students.
I believe I have only to add my thanks to yourself and your friends for your kindness and courtesy during our communications, and to subscribe myself,
A. H. CLOUGH.
I like the Manchester people, of whom I have been seeing a little, better than the Liverpuddlians. They are more provincial perhaps, but have more character; are less men of the world, but more men of themselves. Your sanguine friend still puts his trust in master manufacturers, as in those olden foolish days, when the face of Fortescue shone triumph in the Decade. Yet why be troubled about politics and social matters?
Here also, as on the Poirirua road, sweet odours of human nature ascend to the heavens. To quit the country for altogether is not, so far as I can tell, my vocation. This may be Ur of the Chaldees, or even Egypt, but no angel hath as yet spoken to me, either in dreams by night or in any burning bush of the desert.
There is no immediate expectation of any change in the government here; the only difficulty is to get money. They are going to divide the lands of the Church in small farms among the peasants; but payment will not be made for some time for these allotments.
St. Peter’s disappoints me: the stone of which it is made is a poor plastery material; and, indeed, Rome in general might be called a rubbishy place; the Roman antiquities in general seem to me only interesting as antiquities, and not for any beauty. The Arch of Titus is, I could almost say, the only one really beautiful relic I have yet seen. I have seen two beautiful views since I came, one from San Pietro in Montorio, the other from the Lateran Church, over the Campagna. The weather has not been very brilliant.
I see the ‘Times’ tells very odd stories of Rome. People here tell you that it has been bought by Austria. At any rate the story of the proposed sale of the Belvidere Apollo to the Americans is as simply a joke, I am told, as another story, that the Pantheon was sold to the English for a Protestant chapel.
About 150 refugees came off with us in the French steamer; the government paid for them as far as Leghorn, but at Leghorn they wouldn’t have them, so they came on to Civita Vecchia, and I see several of them about in the streets; they are incorporated with the other forces.
Yesterday was the most lively day I have had here. In the morning a review in the Piazza before St. Peter’s, where Avezzana, the Genoese commander, who is also an American citizen, and is now Minister of War, reviewed about 10,000 men and twenty pieces of artillery. In the evening a grand illumination of the Campidoglio, Forum, &c., all the way to the Colosseum, which was the great scene. When I entered, it was mostly dark, and a great crowd filling it, a band somewhere above the entrance playing national hymns. At the end of the great hymn, of which I don’t know the name, while the people were clapping, viva-ing and encoring, light began to spread, and all at once the whole amphitheatre was lit up with—the trois couleurs! the basement red fire, the two next stories green, and the plain white of the common light at the top. Very queer, you will say; but it was really fine, and I should think the Colosseum never looked better than it did, if not then, at least afterwards, when the plain light was left, and the area got cleared. The same thing was done again for the outside.
In the afternoon, I had paid my visit to Mazzini; a French envoy or agent was with him, and I had to acknowledge the triumviral dignity by waiting almost an hour in the antechamber. However, on the envoy’s retiring, he discoursed with me for half an hour. He is a less fanatical fixed-idea sort of man than I had expected; he appeared shifty, and practical enough. He seemed in excellent spirits, and generally confident and at ease. He asked me if I had seen anything of the pillaging, which the English papers were acquainted with; he said that any of the English residents would bear witness to the perfect tranquillity, even greater than before, which prevailed in the city (and certainly I see nothing to the contrary).
The ‘Times,’ he said, must be dishonest, for the things it spoke of as facts were simply not facts; émeutes where émeutes had never been thought of; the only outbreak had been at Ascoli, near the Neapolitan frontier, where a sort of brigandage had been headed by two or three priests, but easily suppressed. In Rome there were plots going on amongst some of the nobles and priests, but they were well known to the government. The temper of the people and the Assembly alike was clearly against the restoration of the temporal power; on that point he believed the Right would go heartily with the Left in the Assembly, and the people be unanimous. The object at present was rather to repress violence against the priest-party or Neri, to which some sections of the populace were inclined; but this the government was careful to do. The feeling everywhere is, he says, simply political or national. Communism and Socialism are things undreamt of. Social changes are not needed; there are no manufacturing masses, and in the lands there is a métayer system. You have heard perhaps that they are going to divide church lands amongst peasants; this is true, but only of a portion, a surplus he called it, after provision is made for the carrying on of the services of each establishment. They have got about 22,000 troops, and mean to have 50,000, so as to be able to take the field, at any rate not in mere desperation. But he expects foreign intervention in the end, and of course thinks it likely enough that the Romana Reppublica will fall. Still he is convinced that the separation of the temporal and spiritual power is a thing to be, and that to restore the Pope as before will merely breed perpetual disquiet, conspiracies, assassinations, &c.; and he thinks it possible the Great Powers may perceive this in time. The French envoy had asked him if he would apply to France for protection; he said, No, but that if France or any other power offered protection, they would welcome it.
So much for Mazzini. Meantime, Rome is very peaceably to all appearance, rather cold, however, and very rainy: the illumination, which you should be told was in honour of the Palilia, was put off one day in consequence. I do not observe much enthusiasm for the Romana Reppublica: but neither do hear as much complaint as might be expected from the shop folk and foreigners’ jackals. The religious customs seem to thrive still; they kissed away yesterday at St. Peter’s toe as fast as they could have done in its best days. Money, however, is scarce; one pays 30 per cent. for silver, and Mazzini acknowledged that the financial crisis was a great difficulty; but, as he said, it was unavoidable in revolutions. I get on but poorly in lionising, but have at last to-day seen the Sibyls. How much of this is restoration? how much is really Raphael? Michael Angelo’s Moses has ‘met my views’ as much as anything I have seen. Are the two figures beside it also by M. Angelo? And tell me, what is M. Angelo’s design for St. Peter’s exactly do the huge inside pilasters belong to him? I think it utterly lamentable and destructive that his plan was not carried out.
Tell Blackett he really must defend S.P.Q.R. in the ‘Globe’. It is a most respectable republic; it really (ipse dixit) thought of getting a monarch, but couldn’t find one to suit.
The only awkward thing that has happened in the city has been the killing of four or perhaps five priests by the mob, soon after the news of the advance of the Neapolitan army. Some say that one of them had fired out of a window and killed a soldier; others, that they were found making off to the Neapolitans. However, some, I don’t know the exact number, were killed in the street. Next day the government sent out a proclamation, and I have heard of no more outrages of this kind. Some plundering by the troops has given trouble, but they seem to be suppressing it.
Meantime the gates are all shut, and the streets strongly barricaded. The Pincian gardens, the great resort for walking, are closed and fortified, and between the Trinità dei Monti and Sta. Maria Maggiore, in one line of streets, you can count, I think, six barricades, besides smaller ones in the side streets.
My great affliction is that the Vatican is shut up. I got into the Sistine Chapel, however, and St. Peter’s of course is open. These and the Pantheon are my resources. Many of the churches are occupied as hospitals (the Frenchmen who were taken up wounded are very kindly and lovingly treated there, I am told; and they have sent back their prisoners without stipulation), and the Palaces are mostly shut up.
Bulbs from the fountain of Egeria I have no chance of getting, nor shall I see Tivoli, Albano, or Nemi, for it requires a permit from the Minister of War, and I cannot for shame bother the Dictator any further with my trivial English-tourist importunities.
The Romans are content the French should remain at Civita Vecchia, or even Viterbo (for the sake of health). They sent them the other day an immense quantity of cigars and. snuff for a present.
I live here, studying chiefly Michael Angelo, specially in the Sistine Chapel. I believe the engraving of his ‘Creation of Eve’ there, more than anything else, led me to Rome. I conceive myself to understand his superiority and Leonardo da Vinci’s to Raphael, who is only natural, while they are intellectual: he produces with, and they out of nature. The idea of St. Peter’s has been wholly killed out of it, partly by the horrid internal ornaments, but still more completely by the change of the form from a Greek to a Latin cross; the latter belonging to Gothic, which Michael Angelo rejects, because he asserts TOTALITY. There!
There, —— to be translated into the style of Livy! However, I forbear to proceed, for it is a fatiguing exercise, and ere this goes, our history will have something newer to record than the fuga del Re Bomba of Sunday, 3 A.M., 30th inst.
Wandering about alone and with the map I have been twice hailed by the civicas as a ‘spione,’ but after some prattle affectionately dismissed. The barricades are very strong. A perfect agger Servianus and fossa Quintium crosses the road between the Palatine and Aventine; and before the Porta del Popolo there is an immense work. In the line from the Trinita del Monte to Sta. Maria Maggiore there are five or six, besides laterals. The soldiers, so far as one sees, are well behaved; but the government has been scolding a good deal. It is pleasant to my pastoral soul to see them sitting by marketwomen and shelling peas. I have only seen Mazzini once, but have been up to his rooms three or four times. Anyone can go; he is sadly αδορυφορος for a τυραννος, and I wonder no spirited Jesuit has yet looked in with a pistol.
The ‘Monitore’ this morning says, that the Temple of Fortune has been damaged, and that a ball has entered the roof exactly above the Aurora of Guido.
The Romans have suffered heavy losses in their sorties; but they seem to have obstructed the works a good deal. The French papers spoke of ten days as the utmost space required for preparation; and on the 12th Oudinot announced himself ready to enter.
Assure yourself that there is nothing to deserve the name of ‘the Terror.’ There may be timidity in the passiveness of the Moderates, and I will not say that if they tried resistance against the Government, they would not be suppressed, force by force. But one sees no intimidation. Since May 4th the worst thing I have witnessed has been a paper in MS. put up in two places in the Corso, pointing out seven or eight men for popular resentment. This had been done at night: before the next evening a proclamation was posted in all the streets, from (I am sure) Mazzini’s pen, severely and scornfully castigating such proceedings. A young Frenchman in a café, hearing his country abused, struck an Italian; he was of course surrounded, but escaped by the interference of the national guard and of the British Consul. The soldiers, so far as I see, are extremely well behaved, far more seemly than our regulars; they are about of course in the streets and cafés, but make no disorder. Ladies walk in the Corso till after 10 P.M. Farewell; I must go and see about my place.
Alas! it is hopeless. I am doomed to see the burning of Rome, I suppose. The world, perhaps in the same day, will lose the Vatican and me! However, they won’t get in yet, I guess.
In the following night (of Friday, 22nd) an immense number of bombs were thrown; they fell chiefly in the Piazza di Venezia, Piazza Sant’ Apostoli, and Via del Gesù. I do not think much harm was done, and the people took it coolly enough. I found a crowd assembled about 9 P.M. in the northeast corner of the Piazza Colonna, watching these pretty fireworks, ‘ecco un altro!’ One first saw the ‘lightning’ over the Post-office; then came the missive itself, describing its tranquil parabola; then the distant report of the mortar; and finally the near explosion, which occasionally took place in the air. This went on all night. But it has not been repeated in the same degree. The Consuls have remonstrated with Oudinot, but he, I believe, pleads ‘orders.’ The operations meantime, till yesterday, were unimportant, e.g. four cannon were got up on the breach, but the Roman batteries say that they upset them. On Sunday night, however, the 26th, there was another general attack, and under cover of this the French got their guns planted on the breach, and were playing with these all yesterday upon our batteries of S. Pietro in Montorio, which I fear will not be long tenable.
This morning I hear nothing I can rely on, and considering the bombs, I forbore to visit my look-out of the Ara Celi. As for the feelings of the people, I can of course say little. I fancy the middle-class Romans think it rather useless work, but they don’t feel strongly enough on the matter to make them take steps against a government which I believe has won their respect alike by its moderation and its energy; perhaps, too, they are afraid of the troops, under which term however do not understand foreigners, unless you choose to give that name to the levies of the Papal States in general. Visiting the Monte Cavallo hospital the other day, where there are I think 200 men, three Poles and one Frenchman were specially pointed out to me, that I might say some words of French to them. All the others I saw were Italians, from Bologna, Farrara, Ravenna, Perugia, and so forth. There was one Swiss. Most of them had received their wounds on the 3rd. Nice fellows they seemed, young, and mostly cheerful, spite of their hurts. One had lost an arm and a leg; another had a ball in his hip yet to be extracted; ‘and the like.’ On the whole, I incline to think they will fight it out to the last, but chi lo sa?
We have a General Archioni, a Milanese noble, a fine brave fellow, in the lodgings here, with his secretary and capo del stato maggiore, and a soldier or two. He was posted at the Villa Ludovisi, and thither two, days ago we all went—fourteen, ‘Mama’ and four daughters, and niece, and their escort, a gay party of pleasure.
The ‘panic’ of the 21St seems to have been a good deal felt as a disgrace; these last few days they have been fighting very bravely, I take it. The ‘Moniteur’ this morning states the number of foreigners in the Roman service to be 1,650; 800 Lombards, 300 Tuscans, 250 Poles and French, and 300 miscellaneous in Garibaldi’s corps. The national guard is 14,000 strong; the army, I suppose, 20,000. A bomb, I am thankful to say, has left its mark on the facade of the Gesù. I wish it had stirred up old Ignatius. Farewell.
On Saturday morning (30th June) the Assembly resolved to give in; Mazzini & Co. resigned; and a deputation went off to Oudinot. Sunday was perfectly tranquil; yesterday evening Garibaldi withdrew his troops from the Trastevere, and went off by the S. Giovanni. To-day they say the French will enter. Altogether, I incline to think the Roman population has shown a good deal of ‘apathy;’ they did not care about the bombs much, but they did not care to fight very hard either. The Lombards are fine fellows, and the Bolognese too; the only pity there were not more of them. If you put the whole lot of them together, Poles, Lombards, Tuscans, French, they would not exceed 3,000. On the whole, the French were not very barbarous, but if we had not yielded, I believe they meant to bombard us really; and as it was, their shells might have done irreparable harm.
At noon to-day, the Assembly proclaims the Constitution! which it had just completed.
If you should happen to read in the ‘Constitutionnel’ that ‘on Tuesday, July 3rd, our army entered Rome amidst the acclamations of the people,’ perhaps you will not be the worse for a commentary on the text. .
On Monday evening Garibaldi, with all the free corps except some Lombards under Medici, and with a good many Roman troops in addition, set off for the Abruzzi. On Tuesday at noon the Assembly proclaimed the Constitution on the Campidoglio. I went there and heard it. There were present perhaps 800 or 900 people. This done, I presume the deputies dispersed, the labours of the Constituent being clearly completed. The French had already begun their entry, and occupied the Ponte Sisto, and, I believe, the Trinità dei Monti. About half-past four I went out, and presently saw a detachment coming up from the Palazzo Borghese to the Condotti. I stood in the Corso with some thirty of the people, and saw them pass. Fine working soldiers indeed, dogged and businesslike; but they looked a little awkward, while the people screamed and hooted, and cried ‘Viva la Reppublica Romana!’ When they had got past, some young simpleton sent a tin pail after them; four or five faced round with bayonets presented, while my young friend cut away up the Corso double quick. They went on. At this moment some Roman bourgeois as I fancy, but perhaps a foreigner, said something either to express his sense of the folly of it, or his sympathy with the invaders. He was surrounded, and I saw him buffeted a good deal, and there was a sword lifted up, but I think not bare; I was told he got off. But a priest who walked and talked publicly in the Piazza Colonna with a Frenchman was undoubtedly killed. I know his friends, and saw one of them last night. Poor man, he was quite a liberal ecclesiastic, they tell me, but certainly not a prudent one.
To return to my own experience. After this the column passed back by another street into the Corso, and dispersed the crowd with the bayonet-point; they then went on and occupied, I take it, the Post-office, which I afterwards found full of them. About six o’clock I walked out again, and found the Monte Cavallo, the Palazzo Barberini, and other places occupied. I thus missed the entry of Oudinot and his staff. I got back only just to see the final dragoons; but an English acquaintance informed me that in passing by the Café Nuovo, where an Italian tricolor hung from the window, Oudinot plucked at it, and bid it be removed. The French proceeded to do this, but the Romans intervened; Cernuschi, the barricade commissioner, took it down, kissed it, and, as I myself saw, carried it in triumph amidst cheers to the Piazza Colonna. I did not follow, but on my bolder friend’s authority I can state that here the French moved up with their bayonets and took it from Cernuschi, stripping him moreover of his tricolor scarf. One hears reports of as many as eight Romans being killed for fraternising with the Gaul, and of some of the French themselves having been assassinated. My friend told me two shots were fired from a café in the Corso when the troops passed that way at half-past four. This morning I have been to the field of battle and looked at the trenches. I condescended to speak with two Frenchmen, consoling myself by an occasional attempt at sarcasm. They said the Romans did nothing at all when the batteries were assaulted; but the artillery had been well directed. You see lots of villas, six or seven at least, in ruins; S. Pietro in Montorio is in a sad state; balls have come in and knocked great holes, and the east end is nearly in ruins, but the paintings are most, if not all, quite safe—those of Sebastian del Piombo certainly; and Bramante’s chapel is wholly untouched. My French officer said the troops were about 25,000. Almost all are in the city. The Roman forces are to withdraw immediately into cantonments assigned by Oudinot, and guaranteed against the Austrians. The national guard will be disarmed, and then all will be considered safe. On the whole, the French soldiers seemed to me to show excellent temper. At the same time, some faces I have seen are far more brutal than the worst Garibaldian; and we have hitherto seen nothing so unpleasing in the female kind as the vivandière. The Gaul is certainly the stronger animal, but assuredly the greater beast.
The American banker tells me he was told that in the morning the French were cheered. I rather doubt it; but I believe the bourgeoisie in part are very glad it is over. Naturally, for there was to have been a regular bombardment; so said my French friend. They had got a large supply ready, just come from France. The priest is not dead, and perhaps will survive; but another, I hear, was hewed in pieces for shouting ‘Viva Pio Nono,’ ‘Abasso la Reppublica,’ &c. Oudinot’s proclamation is expected every moment. They say it will declare a state of siege; name a military governor and commander of the garrison; dissolve the national guard and. the Assembly, and so forth.
Medium of all desirable communication with my brethren at home! you shall receive one more despatch. I think of going off to Albano, or some of these places, which now one supposes will be attainable. Tivoli, they say, is dubious. Garibaldi went off that way, and the French have sent a detachment after him, with orders, one is told, to give no quarter.
It is a sight to make one gnash one’s very wisdom teeth to go about the fallen Jerusalem and behold the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not; not that the French misbehave, so far as I see, individually. They appear to me to display considerable temper. Still one is told that they carried off a lot of lemons, &c., the first night without paying for them. One soldier, they say, was stabbed by a Trasteverine woman at the Ponte Sisto for insulting her. Any way, one sees how ‘riling’ it is to be conquered.
I am greatly rejoiced meantime that they have been obliged to proclaim the state of siege. They make much of the adhesion of the army. I don’t exactly know how far it has been given. Two regiments went off with Garibaldi, and one heard divers stories. However, with the alternative of dissolution and beggary, it is no marvel that the Roman line, not a popular body, should consent to give its service to any de-facto government.
Last night, for the first time, ‘by order,’ we were all driven in at half-past nine. I found a bayonet point within a few inches of me as I came along the Corso, while the battalion was clearing it.
Has the ‘Times’ correspondent told the funny way in which they have shown their spite by daubing out all the French sign-boards?
The natives do not universally quit the cafés when the French come in; at the Bon Goût in the Piazza di Spagna they appear to be treated with polite indifference; in the Café Nuovo, such unmistakeable disgust was evinced that considering also its size and importance, for you know it is a whole palace, and the great place of resort, they have seen fit to shut it up and fill it with soldiers. Elsewhere the enemies feed together, but with a pale very distinctly marked between them.
Mazzini was still here yesterday. Galetti, president of the Assembly, and commander of the Carbineers, was taken under American protection (as I hear); otherwise he would have been arrested; but the political arrests have been limited to some half-dozen agitators. Ciceruacchio got off with an American passport. You know the Assembly sat on the day after the French entrée; Mazzini was present. They passed some three or four decrees, and put them up in the streets. Oudinot’s proclamation dissolving the old government came out an hour or two after.
I told you that Garibaldi lost his negro on the 3rd. ‘Il Moro,’ as they called him, was the son of a rich negro merchant at Monte Video, who, though married and father of a family, yet, for the love of the Italian captain, came over to fight by his side, which they say he never quitted. I have seen each separately, but not together. There is a Mrs. Garibaldi; she went out with him to the Abruzzi. I hope the French won’t cut them to pieces, but vice versâ.
Mazzini, on the 30th, after the capture of the bastion, proposed to the Assembly that it, with the army, should quit Rome, carry off the artillery, and occupy some stronghold. But the Assembly at first would not; and after, when it would, could not. The course actually taken was repugnant to Mazzini’s views, who was anxious to save Rome from destruction, but at the same time to hold out somewhere and somehow to the last.
The Chigi chapel, in Sta. Maria del Popolo, is a remarkable case. Raphael’s Jonah is untouched, but the statue next it has been chipped in two places by a ball. Nothing else is hurt.
On the night of the 29th, a French officer told an English gentleman the detachment in the Borghese grounds was ordered to fire 120 shots into the Piazza di Spagna quarter, as a feint; they had no particular aim, but seeing a light in a high window, they took it for their mark, and—hinc illæ lachrymæ—hence those balls and bombs, or, I beg pardon, grenades perhaps, which frightened us out of our propriety into the primo piano.
Mazzini, through the negotiation of Mr. Cass, the American Chargé d’affaires, received a passport in his own name from the French, and went off viâ Civita Vecchia, with a bearer of despatches from the same Mr. Cass, I think, on Tuesday last, the 10th. He would go into Switzerland. This is quite positive.
On Monday I was at Albano. The French, seventy horse, came in that afternoon at four. The Spaniards meantime had just the previous night occupied Genzano, three miles off. One hears that the French have turned them out of it.
Two newspapers appear in Rome besides the official gazette, called the ‘Giornale di Roma;’ one of these, the ‘Costituzionale,’ belongs to the prete interest; the other, ‘La Speranza dell’ Epoca,’ to Mamiani and coterie. They are under a military censure, but liberally exercised; a new appointment was freely commented on in malam partem yesterday by this latter print.
The Principessa di Belgiojoso is still here, looking after her feriti at the Monte Cavallo, who, as I think by Mr. Cass’s intercession, are allowed to remain there; at first, orders were given that they should be removed within a week. Garibaldi is said to have effected a junction at Terni with Forbes, an Englishman holding rank here of colonel I think, and commanding a small detachment.
Add to the list of fortunate escapes, that a ball struck the facade of the Palazzo Sciarra on the terzo piano. On the secondo in front is the gallery, whose ample windows give light to the famous Modestia é Vanità of Leonardo da Vinci, the Violin Player of Raphael, Titian’s Bella Donna, and others, most of which, however, had been put into the passage for safety.
Freeborn, the Consul, has got one bomb in his bank. Do you know the difference between the two things, bomb and grenade? bomb has two handles, and grenade is a hollow ball with a hole in it; that is all I know. Grenades, they say, burst in the air; otherwise they are as big as bombs, and by no means innocent things.
This is a dull sky-and-water atmosphere, after the blue sweaters of the South; and the English locust of course prevails in it.
Do we not work best by digging deepest? by avoiding polemics, and searching to display the real thing? If only one could do the latter!—Emerson is an example, and also Carlyle, and, in his kind, M.A. Yet εκαστος εχει το εαυτου χαρισμα and ου παντες χωρουσι τουτον τον λογον. Let B——s delight to bark and bite, if indeed God has made them so.
Interrupted by my one pupil—for you observe that undergraduates all attend the University College professors, and I only keep a hall, as an M.A. of old times did in the days of professors at Oxford—and out of the eleven only have one pupil—I now resume to say farewell.
I wish you would come and see me on your way to Oxford. London, generally speaking, is lonely—for evil at any rate and partly for good. A loneliness relieved by evening parties is not delightful, but I get on well enough in general, looking forward always to the Long. If I do not get a pupil for the Continent, I shall come up to Scotland.
You do not perhaps enjoy at Rugby a fine yellow fog this morning. We do.
And so on, whereof enough.
It is a good deal forgotten that we came into this world to do, not kindness to others, but our own duty, to live soberly, righteously, and godly, not benevolently, philanthropically, and tenderheartedly. To earn his own bread honestly—in the strictest sense of the word honestly—to do plain straightforward work or business well and thoroughly, not with mere eye-service for the market, is really quite a sufficient task for the ordinary mortal.
There is a great blessing, I sometimes think, in being set down amongst uncongenial people, for me at least who am overprovocable. Consider the coal upon the fireplace, how it came to blaze thus: was it not concealed and compressed for long world-ages, never expecting to see the light again, far less that in its own self there was light, heat, and joyfulness, having no sort of imagination that it should be transmuted into, or shall we say, wooed, wedded, and incorporated with the subtle atmosphere itself. Consider, I say, the long preparation of this strange marriage of coal and oxygenic air, and say, if you can, moreover, when was there most real worthiness of existence, in the grimy or the blazy period, in the imprisonment or deliverance of the gases, the incarnation or apotheosis, the suppression or expression, &c. &c. &c.?
You’re a funny creature, my dear old fellow: if one don’t sing you a ballant, or read you a philosophic sermonette, if one don’t talk about the gowans or faith, you’re not pleased. However, I believe that the execution of this is so poor, that it makes the conception a fair subject of disgust. You cannot possibly be too severe and truculent about the execution, and I agree quite as to the correctness (which is the only question) of what you say; except that I am not sure that scenes and scenery would exactly improve the matter.
But do you not, in the conception, find any final strength of mind in the unfortunate fool of a hero? I have no intention of sticking up for him, but certainly I did not mean him to go off into mere prostration and defeat. Does the last part seem utterly sceptical to your sweet faithful soul?
Your censure of the conception almost provoked me into publishing, because it showed how washy the world is in its confidences. There is a Roland for your Oliver, my boy. But I probably shan’t publish, for fear of a row with my committee.
Enter the arena of your brethren, and go not to your grave without knowing what common merchants and solicitors, much more sailors and coalheavers, are acquainted with. Ignorance is a poor kind of innocence. The world is wiser than the wise, and as innocent as the innocent; and it has long been found out what is the best way of taking things. ‘The earth,’ said the great traveller, ‘is much the same wherever we go;’ and the changes of position which women and students tremble and shilly-shally before, leave things much as they found them. Cælum non animum mutant. The winter comes and destroys all, but in the spring the old grasses come up all the greener.
Let us not sit in a corner and mope, and think ourselves clever, for our comfort, while the room is full of dancing and cheerfulness. The sum of the whole matter is this: Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it without fiddle-faddling; for there is no experience, nor pleasure, nor pain, nor instruction, nor anything else in the grave whither thou goest. When you get to the end of this life, you won’t find another ready-made, in which you can do without effort what you were meant to do with effort here.
I am here at the end of my first session in London, not much the worse, nor much the wiser. I am not sorry myself to be where I am: in very many ways, it is a greater seclusion than the academic shades you took pleasure in looking at, at Oxford.
I find, meantime, even the small amount of business which I have to do in this place beneficial to me, even the bank-books and cash-accounts.
You must, therefore, correct your exercises with your own goose feathers. But, tell me. Have you got such big boys this half-year that the ordinary-sized instrument will not apply to their Latin prose? Why don’t you come up here and buy them for yourself?
We are still, I believe, travelling about the sun, round and round, and round and round, in the old foolish fashion. It is certainly a very funny way for the anima mundi to amuse itself. But chacun à son goût. In the midst of life we are in death, for suppose the anima mundi were to take a fancy to do something else, to go backwards and forwards, or even round the other way!
Cudwith, I am told, has an admirable disquisition on ‘A Plastic Nature,’ in a parliamentary sense, I suppose; for otherwise, would it not be pantheism? But indeed that is a mistake, for I hold it to be perfectly constitutional language, entirely in the spirit of our institutions in (Church and State, that is to say) Natural and Revealed Religion. Consider these things; watch and pray, that is the right way, for self and friends, among whom, believe me,
On grass, on gravel, in the sun,|
And now beneath the shade,
They went in pleasant Kensington.
Let it remind you of the ancient Kensington Gardens. Fresh from the oven, it is, I assure you, tibi primo confisum. I am still resident in Gordon Square, and very little certain whether I shall or not continue so. The work does, however, well enough.
I, like you, have jumped over a ditch for the fun of the experiment, and would not be disinclined to be once again in a highway with my brethren and companions. But Spartam nactus es, hanc orna. And you, I should think, though amongst the poor sinful blackguards of yearly multiplying convicts and convictidæ, may make some pretty thing out of your Sparta.
Nothing is very good anywhere, I am afraid. I could have gone cracked last year with one thing or another, I think, but the wheel comes round.
I mean to wait, but at present that’s what I think. A great many intelligent and moral people think Christianity a bad religion. I don’t, but I am not sure, as at present preached, it is quite the truth. Meantime, ‘the kingdom of heaven cometh not of observation,’ but ‘is in ourselves.’
Pictorial-ness, yes; that, when it becomes a wonderful vision of all things, is the ‘Spirit of the Universe.’ The pictorial attitude is not a good one for one’s continuous life, but for a season it transports one out of all reality.
A bad style is as bad as bad manners, and manners you admit do mean something. Things really ill-written it does one a little harm to read. Would you forgive bad music because it was well meant? discord because concordantly intended?
It is rain, rain, rain, and universal umbrellas travelling churchward. I meant to get another walk to Chelsea to see Mrs. Carlyle; but the waters are covering the face of the New Road, and the omnibuses, doubtless, would be full.
All things become clear to me by work more than by anything else. Any kind of drudgery will help one out of the most uncommon either sentimental or speculative perplexity; the attitude of work is the only one in which one can see things properly. One may be afraid sometimes of destroying the beauty of one’s dreams by doing anything, losing sight of what perhaps one will not be able to recover: it need not be so.
As to mysticism, to go along with it even counter to fact and to reason may sometimes be tempting, though to do so would take me right away off the terra firma of practicable duty and business into the limbo of unrevealed things, the forbidden terra incognita of vague hopes and hypothetical aspirations. But when I lose my legs, I lose my head; I am seized with spiritual vertigo and meagrims unutterable.
It seems His newer will|
We should not think at all of Him, but turn,
And of the world that He has given us make
What best we may.
What we are we know (says the beloved Apostle, does he not?) or at any rate, can make some sort of guess, which is much more than we can about what we shall be: howbeit we know, or rather hope, that if we have done something here, it will count for something there; nor will those be nothing to each other there that have consorted faithfully here.
Lay not your hand upon the veil of the inner sanctuary, to try and lift it up; go, thou proselyte of the gate, and do thy service where it is permitted thee. Is it for nothing, but for the foolish souls of men to be discontented and repine and whimper at, that He made this very tolerably beautiful earth, with its logic and its arithmetic, and its exact and punctual multifarious arrangements, &c. &c.? Is it the end and object of all finite creation that sentimental human’ simpletons may whine about their infinite longings? Was it ordered that twice two should make four, simply for the intent that boys and girls should be cut to the heart that they do not make five? Be content, when the veil is raised, perhaps they will make five! who knows?
It is odd that I was myself in a most Romanizing frame of mind yesterday, which I very rarely am. I was attracted by the spirituality of it. But what has hitherto always come before me as the truth is rather that—
It seems His newer will|
We should not think at all of Him, but turn,
And of the world that He has given us make
What best we may.
In the Warwickshire physiognomy I can frequently detect the dross of Shakespeare. You have another bright, light-haired, sanguine, less bilious type, which perhaps comes of the Northmen—for our villages all hereabouts, Barby, Kilsby, Buckby, Naseby, including Rugby itself, have the characteristic Danish by termination.
The country is singularly destitute of gentlemen’s houses, and has a solitary unoccupied appearance, with its wide fields and its field-roads. A railway, however, with a single line of rails, and, I believe, three trains a day, looking quite afraid of what it is doing, runs up through them from Rugby to Stamford.
How beautiful the falling leaves of flowers are! not decayed, not even as yet decaying, but ripe, full to their fullest of growth and adolescence. I cannot prevail upon myself to empty the wine-glass, the surface of whose water is covered with fallen geranium petals, though there are still buds enough opening and opened to make a fair show. The kalmias still survive; they will perhaps last till Thursday—sufficiently, at least, to satisfy the eyes of a lover of falling petals.
People should not be very sceptical about things in general. ‘Wen Gott betrügt, ist wohl betrügen.’ There are plenty of good things in the world, and good persons. Fitness is a great deal, but truth is a great deal more. If things are good, we ought to accept them as such; looking at them, and not thinking of our own fitness.
And this morning I have been to Chobham. I took the Ordnance Map, and walked, I should say, about eight miles, by road and by common, through sun and shade, specially the former, and about half-past twelve found myself seated under a beech avenue, looking out over wide heathy banks to the westward, and to the southward into a sort of wide, tolerably rich, and treey upper valley; the avenue leading to iron gates at the south-east end; some clumps of Scotch firs on the heath to the north, visible through the opposite rows of beeches. Really a very pretty place indeed. I walked down under the house, and on into the village, and refreshed myself at a tavern called the Sun, and walked on three miles to the railway, and so home. Certainly Chobham is a remarkably nice place—so green and rich, close to the very edge of the wide waste heath, and looking abroad far over all the expanse from Bagshot to Epsom, and I know not what more. The distance was dull in the heat of noon.
There is a letter from Emerson, with general encouragement towards America, and urging a preliminary visit by ‘first ship.’
1. After resigning his Fellowship and Tutorship at Oriel, Clough had accepted the Headship of University Hall in London, and this letter was written in consequence of a request which had been made him by the authorities. [back]
2. The following letters from Rome were written during a tour he took in Italy before settling at University Hall. It was in the course of this tour that he wrote Amours de Voyage, and Easter Day. [back]