Memories (3)
Home Up W. J. Linton. The Chartists Claribel Misc Poems Stories for Children James Watson Republican Letters The English Republic Site Search Main Index


[Previous Page]



The English Republic; The Plaint of Freedom; Walter Savage Landor; Duffy; Carlyle; Joseph Cowen; Other Helpers; Deceased British Painters and other Work; Mogon; Visitors and Friends; Physicians.

    MY object, plainly avowed, in bringing out the English Republic was "to explain Republican Principles, to record Republican Progress, and to establish a Republican Party in England."  The record of progress would of course include notices of republican happenings everywhere.  My work began with 1851, a monthly magazine, at first printed at Leeds, in the hope of there taking up some of the subscribers to the Present Age, a serious, liberal magazine edited by Dr. F. R. Lees, the head of the Temperance agitation.  The expected advantage on both sides not arriving, the Present Age was discontinued and I went on with my own venture, still printing at Leeds, my publisher in London my old friend James Watson.  At the same time I pursued my engraving, such as I could have at that distance from London, both for support of my family and to pay for my republican endeavour.  I was also writing for the Nation, chiefly "rhymes and reasons" concerning the one great Irish difficulty, the Land Question; and in 1852 I printed at Newcastle and put out anonymously (why so it would be hard to say, unless it was that I doubted my own ability for writing so serious a work) a long poem, The Plaint of Freedom, of which I gave away the whole edition of three hundred.  I had many satisfactory acknowledgments, the best from Walter Savage Landor, to whom I was indebted for occasional writing in the English Republic.  Before he knew the poem was mine, he wrote the following lines, which I may dare to quote (I had dedicated the poem "to the memory of Milton," with farther notice of him):—


"Praiser of Milton! worthy of his praise!
 How shall I name thee?   Art thou yet unnamed?
 While verses flourish hanging overhead
 In looser tendrils than stern husbandry
 May well approve, on thee shall none descend?
 At Milton's hallow'd name thy hymn august
 Sounds as the largest bell from Minster tower.
 I ponder, and in time may dare to praise;
 Milton had done it; Milton would have graspt
 Thy hand amid his darkness, and with more
 Impatient pertinacity because
 He heard the voice and could not see the face."

    He sent me the lines later (when he knew the poem was mine) with his volume, The Last Fruit of an Old Tree, and with a letter, which I am proud enough to subjoin:—

ATH, Nov. 8, 1852.


    "This morning I send to you by railway my new volume.  I left a quantity of writing to the disposal of Mr. Forster, and I regret that he has not inserted lines I addrest to you.  I was not aware of this until the volume was bound and sent to me.  If there is anything in the volume which your pure and exquisite taste approves, I shall be more gratified than by all the Reviewers and Magazine-men, even if any of them (which is improbable) should commend it.

"Very truly yours,


    He printed the lines afterwards in 1858, in the Dry Sticks, fagoted by W. S. Landor, his last book.

    In 1853 he sent me his volume, the Imaginary Conversations of Greeks and Romans (republished in that year by Moxon) with the flattering ascription:—

"W. S. Landor to W. J. Linton,
 A true patriot and a true poet,
 Characters almost equally rare."

    Surely encouragement enough was this for a lone endeavourer, beside the cordial help of Mazzini and his fellow-republicans, and the warm and friendly reception I had from Duffy in the Irish Nation.  Carlyle, too, would sometimes acknowledge the copies of the Republic (which I regularly sent to him) with not unfriendly characteristic growl, which did not disconcert but rather amused me from a man so averse to windiness, so ready to preach the worthlessness of words.  Why waste my energy in useless speech?—was the one burden of his remonstrances, and he would not have cared had I pleaded the influence of his example.  Like him, I was bound to speak, without the warrant of his genius, but with a more prophetic hope.  I failed.  Some words may yet have echoes.  Some few feeble attempts at republican association of a few workingmen, in response to a plan of action from which I looked for results, showed me that I might teach, but might not lead.  I stood almost alone.  One man, a young lawyer at Eastbourne, now residing at Matlock, Derbyshire, whose friendship I have kept ever since, sent me ten pounds to help me in my work,—the only money subscribed to me except by Joseph Cowen, who helped me generously and largely until I had to abandon my work.  In the writing he had no part.

    In 1852 and 1853 the Republic was issued in four-page weekly tracts, bound together for monthly parts, still printed at Leeds.  In the spring of 1852 I removed to Brantwood, and in 1854 resumed the monthly issue, by then having printing press and types, and registering myself as a printer, without which my printing material was liable to seizure and confiscation by the authorities.  At Brantwood I had the assistance of three young men from Cheltenham, who came across the country to offer themselves at my service, at any wage that I could afford them.  Two were printers, and the third was a gardener.  They were zealous and efficient helpers.  When, in April, 1855, I had to give up the endeavour (it had never reached a paying point, and of the few hundreds printed many were distributed freely in the hope of propagandism), my three men had to leave me: one went back to Cheltenham, his native place, resumed printing there, and established a printing office noteworthy for its excellent work; one found employment for a time in London, and has now for many years been the editor of the weekly edition of Mr. Cowen's Newcastle Chronicle; one returned to gardening and has been long in the employment of a gentleman in the neighbourhood of London: all fairly well doing, all to this day my attached and esteemed friends, none ever complaining of lost time at Brantwood.  Their names, not among the candidates for notoriety, are written on my heart.

    At Brantwood, as at Miteside, my literary work being unremunerative, I continued my engraving, fortunate in being engaged by the Art Union of London to execute a series of cuts after the works of Deceased British Painters, some from my own drawings.  I had also occasional work for the Illustrated London News, and some from drawings by Rossetti, Millais, Stanfield, Creswick, and others, for Moxon's edition of Tennyson's Poems.  And here I may record a piece of generous kindness, not, so far as my own experience went, too common among publishers.  It was at Brantwood; and I was one day standing at an outer gate, when, unexpected, I saw Moxon coming.  I had such illness in my house that I could not even ask him to come in, but stood at the gate to answer his inquiry as to the progress of his work.  I was in arrear and could give no definite promise of performance.  He was considerately indulgent, wished me good morning and turned away; then, a few. paces gone, turned back to say, with kindly hesitation, that he knew artists were not a moneyed race, and under present circumstances would I allow him to act as a friend, offering me a ten-pound note which, he said, was more than he would want for the little time he was travelling through the Lake Country.  I gratefully took the advanced payment.

    Poor Moxon! his book, owing to the war between North and South in America, which disappointed him of a large sale, was a failure; and the failure, I believe, ruined his business.  He was one of those publishers who are patrons of literature, taking interest in his books, and so—associated with their authors—a publisher worthy of honour.

    Half a mile or but a little more to the railway, by boat across the Lake (to Coniston Hall, once the seat of Sidney's sister, Ben Jonson's Countess of Pembroke), or a three miles' walk round the Waterhead, my engraving went by rail from Church Coniston at 7 P.M., to be delivered in London as soon as houses of business were open next morning, so that I was hardly out of the way for those publishers who still knew me and valued what I did.  Nor was I altogether without visitors and friends; Mr. Gibson, our valued Coniston and Hawkshead doctor (Hawkshead, where Wordsworth went to school in the grammar school there, four miles from Coniston, at the head of Esthwaite Water), Dr. Lonsdale of Carlisle, our neighbours the Misses Romney (two maiden ladies, grand-daughters of the painter), Harriet Martineau, Dr. Lees, Wm. Bridges Adams, Richard Tyas (an old lawyer friend of many years), Joseph Cowen, Wm. Bell Scott, Edward Wehnert, Duncan, and some others.  Harriet Martineau lived at Ambleside, ten miles from us, not too far to be visited or to visit us.  Lees and other friends from a distance were introduced to our mountains, and for entertainment had rambles over them. Lees, a determined teetotaller and, I think, the most learned of the race, was free enough not to disallow our stopping at a country inn after a long tramp; and confessed, to my asking, that it would be of little use to lecture against whiskey in that moist realm of meres and waters.  Duncan, the most accurate of draftsmen, whose true realism stood him in the place of imagination, once spent a week with me tracking the River Duddon from the sea to its mountain source, taking sketches which we hoped might turn to account as illustrations to Wordsworth's Sonnets on the Duddon; but, when we came to consider poems and sketches together, we found that the Sonnets, ecclesiastical and other, were pure Wordsworth, and might as well have been written on any other river.  Then in time of need Dr. Lietch of Keswick would come thirty miles to give his unfee'd service; and good Dr. Brown of Blaydon-on-Tyne came across the country, a day's journey, on the same generous errand,—so keeping up the medical tradition I had learned in London, where, when I had scarlet fever, three doctors stood together at my bedside, Toynbee, the Quaker Dr. Hodgkin, and Southwood Smith, the last attending me through my illness.  I never paid a physician's fee in England.  Only on Dr. Sibson I had some claim for sake of his brother, my artist friend; and the doctor honoured my claim by gratuitous advice to any one I chose to send to him.  In one man so sent he became so interested that for years afterwards, until his patient's death, Sibson was at his service whenever required.  I may be grateful and proud for such services, yet I do not take all the credit to myself, but recognise them as fair instances of the generosity of the medical profession in England toward artists and literary men.


My Possessions; Stolzrnan ; To the Top of Scawfell.

    AT Brantwood I rented a garden between the house and the Lake, and had another small garden patch, with bees, reached by steps to above the height of the house.  From this patch was a view across the Lake to the "Old Man " and Coniston Crags under Wetherlam; and from the lower garden we looked up the Lake to Helvellyn.  I had the use of a horse, and kept two cows, a pig, pigeons, and poultry (an occasional pheasant would breakfast with my chickens), and some twenty sheep; my cows pasturing in two fields between the house and Lake (two fields rented with the garden), my sheep feeding on the fell, which rose some three or four hundred feet steeply, directly behind the house; the side of the fell covered with copse wood, young oak, and hazel.  On one part, not so brant (i.e., steep), I felled the larger oak, barked it (much with my own hands), and sold the bark; then, perhaps for the first time ever done, had an acre or more ploughed, and corn and garden stuff raised upon it.  My sheep-feeding on the fell above entitled me, when the common land between Coniston Water and Esthwaite Water was enclosed, to an apportionment of six acres, mostly covered with heather and juniper, so that I had sixteen acres instead of ten to sell to Ruskin.

    I knew every mountain pass in the square of the Lake Country, some thirty miles each way; and many were the rambles, of a day or of two, three, four, or more days, through the country, with friend, or friends, or alone.  It was a life worth having.  My Polish friend Stolzman came in 1852 to live with me, and helped to teach my three boys.  He was with me till 1854; then, ailing, went for change to the sea, at Haverhill, under Black Combe.  He had just been elected to the Polish Central Democratic Committee, and was anxious to recover some strength for his work in that, and for a possible return to Poland, if England, in the war then threatened, could be wise enough to attack Russia in the North.  At Haverhill he had a paralytic fit, and in three hours was dead.  I reached his side only in time to see him buried in the little churchyard of Millom, the incumbent of which, waiting my arrival, had charitably made the funeral arrangements.  For ten years I knew Stolzman.  I have known none more worthy of friendship and honour than the old soldier exile.

    That life in the North was indeed worth living, though heavy sorrow came to me there, which caused my return to London after my discontinuance of the English Republic in 1855.

    One day's excursion, well recollected, may be worth recording here from memoranda written at the time: the excursion, however, not taken while I was living at Brantwood, but on occasion of revisiting the country some years afterwards.  I had gone with some friends from Keswick to Buttermere, and they left me at Buttermere, where I slept.  Next day, it is a fair June day, the twentieth of the month, crossing over Honistar Pass, where the slate quarries are, I reach, soon after noon, little Seathwaite, on the near side of the Borrowdale road.  After the best meal I can get, bread and cheese and milk, I take it into my head that I will pass midsummer eve on the top of Scawfell, the highest ground in England.  I go over Stockley Bridge, and follow the beck, up the gorge, taking a bath on my way.  It is steep climbing for some hours, occasionally looking back over the length of Borrowdale for a distant view of Derwent Water and the line of Skiddaw and Blencathra; and, as I rise higher, catching sight of Langdale Pikes, bright and glowing as they pierce into the sunshine.  Then, rounding Great End, a bulwark of Scawfell, a long shoulder is before me, in front of which is Scawfell itself, to my left a sea of mountains, to my right Great Gable gradually lost, as I advance, in the shadow of the End.  I reach the top of the shoulder to find that the End has slipped away, leaving me to climb an empty sleeve in which he was laughing at me; and the End is as far off as ever, and Scawfell top seeming at greater distance.  Another steep climb, with right below me a seemingly bottomless pit; but a little farther on a green platform rises in the pit, in the middle of which is Sty Head Tarn, shining like an emerald.  A quarter of a mile of scrambling over a sea of rocks; and then Scawfell looks nearer, but bigger and more formidable than ever.  As I proceed he grows, ever more and more gigantic, till I am at the very foot of his own shoulder (as an Irish man might say, and very correctly).  Before attempting that last climb, I look over the lower heights, and see a lake of gold, Ennerdale Water, lying in the grey, formless mist beyond them.  Then I begin to ascend the shoulder, up steep, loose stones, digging places for my feet as I mount, not without fear of bringing down upon me an avalanche of slates and boulders.  At last I am on the summit, still among the stones, but with one patch of golden moss among them, which I pass to the pole like a flag-staff on the topmost height of the Pike, and of all England.

    On the broad platform are some broken walls, the remains of huts built for the Ordnance Surveyors; I choose one with part of a chimney in it, the walls nearly as high as my head, and prepare to take my rest so half sheltered.  The distances are growing dim, lost in haze; but before sunset some clearing brings out far Derwent Water (or is it farther Bassenthwaite Water?) in full brightness; to my right Windermere lights up; the sea is behind me; and the passing sunlight glances warmly on the pile of stones on which the pole is set, and on the ruined walls of my chamber, till the sun sinks, leaving long bars of crimson and gold, and a tender mellow glory over everything.  One last look at the flag-staff where it stands alone against the pure sky, the young crescent moon, clear as crystal, rising in the pale afterglow of the sunset; then, as the stars come out one by one, I lie down in my half-chimnied room, against a broken wall, and watch the white clouds floating silently over me till I fall asleep in the lingering twilight.  Awaking, the stars are gone; all is a dead mist; I see only the grey walls, and hear the winds careering overhead.  By and by the mist thins enough to show the light of the sun's path as he travels northward, yet far from dawn.  That light never leaves the sky all night, only for a time lost in the mist.  The expanse of mist changes to slight misty clouds rapidly driven across the sky, rather mists in motion than anything in shape of cloud; the light in the horizon extends eastward and increases; some faint tinge of scarcely colour comes into it, ripening to the vague colouring of a sea-shell, to a faint red, to reddish gold, to golden brown, to golden red, to deeper red, and pure gold.  The mountain-tops appear in grey, slowly warming to a greenish tone in the nearer ones, the distance still grey.  Northward the line of cloud in which the sun had set extends itself in long bars, becoming more distinct, darker, and seeming nearer.  Out of this line comes a little black cloud, coming nearer, nearer, and then suddenly melting away.  The mountains beyond Windermere lie in long lines of grey, with mist between, and behind their ranges.  Behind the mist rise strange black, heavy monsters, coming close in their blackness through the intervening mass of mist miles away, sometimes like a herd of buffaloes leaping over one another, sometimes one gigantic beast about to tumble over the wall.  Higher in the western sky are great wind-formed feathers.  Then the dawn grows light, colours are more distinct, the sky is streaked and golden.  It is still misty over Skiddaw and the long cloud-arms threaten to travel eastward and hide the sunrise; and behind me clouds are sweeping up from the near sea.  Afraid of being lost in the mists, I begin to descend.  But a little way down, the great ball of fire bursts out for one glorious moment, purpling the dark crags and making the clouds rosy and coppery, then losing itself in the crimson clouds above.  I hasten down the opposite way to that I had climbed, to Wastdale Head, breakfast there, and mid driving rain make my way over Sty Head Pass, the wildest pass of the English mountains, to Borrowdale, and through Borrowdale to Derwent Water and Keswick.


The Poles at Liverpool; Meeting at Hanover Square; Herzen; Bakouuine.

    IT was in 1849 that the Hungarian war for freedom came to an unhappy end, through the insolent intervention of Russia aided by the treachery of Görgey, the Hungarian General; and Kossuth, with the last hopes of patriotism, took refuge under the hospitality of the Sultan.  In March, 1851 (I was then living at Miteside), two hundred and sixty-one of these men, the remnant of the Polish Legion which had fought under General Wysocki, the last of 1034 who had taken refuge in Turkey in 1849, arrived at Liverpool from Kutayeh.  There were two hundred and forty-seven Poles: the rest were of different nationalities, nine of them Hungarians.  On reaching the Mersey their vessel was boarded by a Mr. Diosy, a Hungarian and emigration agent, deputed by the Literary Society of the Friends of Poland, with the object of persuading the refugees to accept a free passage to America, offered them by the British Government as the best means of getting rid of them.  The Poles, already in communication with their countryman Mr. Worcell, the chief of the Polish Emigration, refused to be so deported.  Worcell had come from London to meet them, and I had joined him to be of what service I could to him and them.  I tried to make interest for them, and called upon Robertson Gladstone, James Martineau, and other prominent men in Liverpool, but without effect.  We then appealed to a public meeting; with difficulty found an "influential " chairman; and put the case before the meeting of nearly all working-men.  In spite of some "respectable" opposition, in spite of false statements circulated through the Liverpool Press, the meeting was successful; volunteers, working-men, came forward offering individual help: one man would take to his home and care for one of the refugees; another man would take one more, and a committee was formed for farther combined efforts.

    At first the strangers were lodged in a house allowed them by the Authorities; but they were quickly informed that they would be ejected unless they accepted the Government terms.  On the 12th of March, two days after our public meeting (they only landed on the 4th) they were accordingly turned into the streets.  One generous man, Mr. Peter Stewart, a Liverpool merchant, was found to get them admission to an unused soap-factory, or they had been houseless.  My poor friend Worcell was too feeble from sickness to do more than direct, and I had to act for him, with the aid of a young Pole, who spoke French but could not speak or understand English.  The soap-factory was in a back street in Liverpool, the room large enough, but quite bare, up a narrow flight of stairs.  A rough crowd surrounded the door at the foot of the stairs as two hundred and thirty men passed in.  An active friend, a Liverpool man, and an old chartist, got them a supply of straw, but there was no water in the place.  I appealed to the crowd.  "What will you pay?"  "Nothing!" explaining the circumstances, "and you must bring your own pails."  " I will"—said one woman in the crowd.  "I will"—said another.  So we got water enough, allowing the bringers to go up-stairs to look at the strangers, which seemed to be considered a reward.  At midnight, before leaving for home, I took a last look at the two hundred and thirty lying in rows on the floor, with one sentinel walking to and fro among them, so that no one should come in.  So I left them to the action of the Committee on the morrow.  Mr. Stewart sent them £50 and gifts of vegetables; biscuit, owing to a short voyage from Kutayeh, they had in plenty, which we stored in a Temperance Hotel, kept by a political sympathiser.  Of this biscuit the Custom House (the very officers ashamed of what they had to do) took as duty ten per cent, weighing it on the quay as it was landed.  Never was I more ashamed of my country than when I stood upon that quay, and had to place a cordon of men to prevent the poor starvelings, Irish and others, about the docks, from also stealing their percentage.  As the biscuit was being uncarted at the hotel, I noticed two villainous-looking fellows hanging about, evidently with intent to steal anything in their way.  I asked them what they were there for, and had of course a rough and saucy answer.  I told them in few words who and what the refugees were, and how, unable to speak English, they were in a worse condition than any Englishmen could be; and my two villains replied that I need not be afraid of them, and walked down the street with me to ask farther questions.

    Our Liverpool Committee worked well; other Committees were formed elsewhere; the Poles were gradually drafted to different parts of the country, some obtaining employment of one sort, some of another.  They waited in vain for another chance for Polish service; and all may not eventually have remained in England; but I never heard complaint of any one of them, and with some I had opportunities for personal knowledge and personal regard.

    But I was ashamed of the influential "liberals" of Liverpool, and ashamed, not for the first time, of the then "liberal" government of England.  Two years later, these dispersed patriots should have been wanted for the Crimean War.

    The promise of war, again giving hope to Poland, brought together the refugees in London, to a public meeting at the Hanover Square Rooms, on the 29th of November, 1853, to celebrate the thirty-third anniversary of the Polish Insurrection.  It was the first open recognition of English republicanism in accord with European; and the first public gathering of representatives of European nationalities in Poland's name and their own to demand help from England, and to proclaim on English soil the necessity of a new campaign against the unholy Alliance of Kings.  Mr. Worcell, as chief of the Polish Central Committee, took the chair.  He was too feeble to speak, and I had to read for him the Address of the Committee in English, also read by others in Polish and French.  Then Herzen spoke for Russia and Russian sympathy with Poland.  He was followed by me, and then by Dr. Arnold Ruge, the German member of the European Committee, speaking in German.  Dr. Paul Darasz, the brother of Albert Darasz (but lately dead, who had been one of the first members of Mazzini's European Committee), spoke in French; and Dr. Ronay, a Hungarian, addressed the English part of the audience in their own tongue, and then, turning to the Poles and Hungarians, spoke to them in Latin.  Then two letters were read from Mazzini, who was too ill to be able to attend the meeting: one in English, one in French read by Colonel Pianciani, who also added his own speech in French.  Thomas Cooper said a few words for English working-men; Ledru Rollin was eloquent in French; and the proceedings closed in English from a Pole, M. Staniewicz.  It was a large and enthusiastic meeting, an anticipatory protest against the mismanagement of that unhappy and useless Crimean War, and notable as a promise of alliance of the peoples, some day yet perhaps to result in action, however unnoticed then.

    Something I may here say of the men who took part in the meeting.  Of Worcell I have already spoken, and shall have to speak again.  Dr. Paul Darasz was a Polish physician, who escaped from a Russian prison to England to join his brother Albert, then dying from consumption.  Albert Darasz, born at Warsaw in 1808, and distinguished in the Polish Insurrection of 1830, had been in exile one of the most active of the Polish Democrats.  Expelled from France because concerned in Ledru Rollin's manifestation against Louis Napoleon's attack on Rome, he came to London, there joining Mazzini on the Central European Committee, and there dying on the 19th of September, 1852.  Arnold Ruge, another exile, who had been of the party of Struve and Hecker and Robert Blum, the republican party in the unfortunate Frankfort Parliament, lived many years in England, a man of literary ability and very much respected.  Dr. Ronay, a small, slight man, with the look of a clergyman, I knew only as a Hungarian refugee.  Pianciani, a tall man of soldierly bearing, with a face scarred by gunpowder, was one of the most faithful and devoted of the Mazzinians.  He fell, I believe, some years later, in one of the many attempts for Italian freedom.  Ledru Rollin, the eloquent parliamentarian, but true beyond any parliamentarism, is too well known to need words of mine.  M. Staniewicz, an old Polish insurrectionist of 1830, had since 1831 been resident in England.  Of Alexander Herzen, the Russian, there is more to be said.

    High-born, of a family in the highest social position, the boy Herzen entered the University of Moscow, there to hear the unforgotten name of Pestel, and among the youth of the University to dream of some yet possible change in Russia,—to dream of it and perhaps to talk with some want of reserve.  When only just of age, in 1834, he was arrested (as Mazzini and so many others were in the despotic countries of Europe) on the all-sufficient suspicion of having a patriotic disposition, and after nearly a year's imprisonment was sentenced to banishment to the eastern confines of Russia, there to be employed in a government office, under the eyes of the police: to be so kept out of mischief, and perhaps recovered from the threatened error of his way.  The office, using his own words, "was worse than the prison."  However, he fulfilled his duties there and, found to have exceptional talent, was at length given some sort of promotion, and after a time allowed to approach the neighbourhood of Moscow, still under the surveillance of the police.  With some personal liberty he stole a visit to Moscow, where he married a cousin to whom he had been engaged before his banishment; and in 1839, his father being wealthy and influential, he got leave to go to Petersburg, and to be tempted with a place in the office for the Minister for Home Affairs.

    Again he seems to have been not careful enough in speech; and now with a remarkable mixture of threat and bribe, he was given the office of Councillor to the Regency of Novgorod, and ordered to his duties there, still watched by the police.  Powerful friends at last obtained leave for him to resign and return to Moscow.  This was in 1842.  By his father's death he now became a rich man, and appeared to be content with a studious life.  Years passed in vain endeavours of friends at Court to gain permission for him to travel; and it was only in 1847 that, on account of his wife's health, he was given a passport that he might visit the German baths.  Once across the Russian frontier, he was free, and refused to return.  The Tzar would have confiscated his estates but was estopped, Herzen's first care having been to sell them to one Rothschild for an annuity.

    With Mazzini's introduction, I had made Herzen's acquaintance in Paris in 1850.  In 1852 he came to England and we became friends.  He came to London in order to found, with the help of his Polish compatriots, a free Russian Press.  He was already favourably known by an important work written in French, On the Development of Revolutionary Ideas in Russia.  Hearty assistance was rendered him by the Poles, who had already their printing office in London, and with their propagandist help also his first serial paper, the Kolokol (the Alarm Bell), and later the Polar Star (a name recalling a former publication by Ryléieff and Bestoujeff, the companions of Pestel) were spread throughout Russia, reaching even to the palace of the Tzar.  Herzen was the one rich man of the knot of European revolutionists at that time in London.  For some time he lived in a pleasant country mansion, Elmfield House, at Teddington, by the side of the Thames.  I remember being there on the day the news came of the death of the Tzar Nicholas.  The rooms were crowded with political friends, Russians, Poles, Frenchmen, Germans, Italians, and English, all sharing in Herzen's joy, which was unbounded and almost savage.  Later, in 1857, he and I, with Ledru Rollin and Mazzini, were fellow-mourners at the grave of Worcell, Mazzini's dearest friend, dear also to all who came within his sphere.  There, when the coffin had to be carried from the chapel to the grave, Herzen rose from his seat, tears falling down his cheeks, and took his place as one of the bearers.  It was at once a token of affection for his friend, and of homage to the patriot Pole.

    In person Herzen was short of stature, stoutly built, in his last days inclined to corpulence, with a grand head, long chestnut hair and beard, small, luminous eyes, and rather ruddy complexion.  Suave in his manner, courteous, but with an intense power of irony, witty, choice as well as ready in speech, clear, concise, and impressive, he was a subtle and profound thinker, with all the passionate nature of the "barbarian," yet generous and humane.  He died at Paris on the 21st of January, 1870, leaving a son, since become a physician, and two younger daughters of whom he was passionately fond.

    I knew him well, having the opportunity of much personal and friendly intercourse with him.  He wrote for me on Russia, in my English Republic.  He was helpful always to the refugees in England, to the Poles as much as to his own countrymen; intimate with Mazzini and Worcell and other chiefs of exile.  Hospitable, and taking pleasure in society, he was a good conversationalist, with a frank and pleasant manner.  At his table I met Bakounine, the "anarchist," a man to be honoured for his endeavours to bring about a rapprochement between the Poles and Russians, an object which Herzen also had much at heart.  Bakounine was one of the patriots of '48, on the barricades at Dresden.  After the republican failure in that year, he suffered two years in a Saxon prison, then some time in an Austrian, and then, given up by Austria to Russia, was lost for years in a Russian casemate.  It was reported that he had been chained by the neck, and that he had died in his prison.  But he had been sent to Siberia, whence he escaped to China and passed from there through America to England.  I found him a strong-looking man over six feet in height, cheerful and humorous, laughing heartily when I told him of my having written of his life and death.


Worcell; Mazzini; American Sympathy; Grant.

    OF Worcell I have written elsewhere (European Republicans, Laurence & Bullen, London, 1892).  Here Herzen may speak for me.  "He was a Saint, and this word best expresses his dominant characteristic.  All that most strikes us in the Legends of the Saints we find in him: trait for trait, with more of love, with a more human element.  Of a nature eminently religious, his genius was logically wide-sighted, but at the same time delicately subtle.  Highly endowed with the faculty of abstract reasoning, he naturally became a profound mathematician.  His active and ardent mind, however, stopped not at geometry and astronomy, but studied in turn all the natural sciences.  His erudition was prodigious.  Speaking, not only well but elegantly, French, English, and German, he was thoroughly acquainted with modern literature.  I often addressed myself to him as a living cyclopedia.  Conscientious in everything, if he afterwards thought that he had been wrong, he would next day write in correction.  This mass of varied knowledge, with a reflection of that certain mysticism which we always meet with in the Polish poets, gave a peculiar originality to his conversation and to his way of looking at things.  And all this, science and mysticism, history and mathematics, was only on the lower plane of his life.  Above all was his religion, the thought of his whole existence, his faith in Poland.  His whole soul was there, having sacrificed to that cause his home happiness, his fortune, his entire life.  He laboured twenty-six years, in exile for the organisation of the Republican party in the Polish Emigration.  Overwhelmed with misfortunes, privations, maladies, he was day and night at his work, with that calm serenity, that resigned gentleness, that candid simplicity, which a faith not to be shaken gives to a great heart.  No one ever heard a single plaint from his mouth."

    I quote from Herzen's Polar Star, preferring the words of a man not more intimate with Worcell than I myself was, but better qualified to appreciate him completely.  My own recollections entirely confirm Herzen's account.

    Poor, always poor, hardly supported by irregular remittances from friends in Poland, his scanty means shared with his yet needier compatriots, I was, while in London, too sadly aware of his poverty and cognizant of his generosity and devotedness.  He was a constant sufferer from asthma, and I do not recollect ever seeing him at ease, except on one day, when, some political object calling him from London, he came to see his friend Stolzman and myself at Coniston.  There, with some difficulty getting him on the fell at the back of my house, resting on the height, revived by the pure air, he said that he felt like a new man.  But weak or sick or in pain he was always ready, at any personal inconvenience, at any risk, to meet the continual calls upon him for advice or exertion, calls from the whole body of the Polish refugees, who looked to him as a wise father.  On the same ground I learned to love him, loving him and loved by him to his death, on the 3rd of February, 1857.

    With the Polish refugees in London, with Mazzini and Ledru Rollin and P. A. Taylor, Jun., the Member of Parliament for Leicester (Worcell's good friend), I followed to his grave in Highgate Cemetery, the grave in which Darasz had been laid four years before.  Ledru Rollin and Taylor spoke over it.  His epitaph (from which alone I learn his age—I thought he had been much older), with that of Darasz, for a contemplated monument, is before me in the handwriting of Kossuth.

Hic requiescit
quidquid mortale est
 Exercitus Poloniensis Litenentis
ex ordine "virtuti militari" equitis
natus anno Christi MDCCCVIII die Augusti XIX
vita decessit exsul
anno MDCCXCIX natus
ad Conventus Polaniæ anno illo nostro
MDCCCXXXI publice legatus
pari fato exsul
anno MDCCCLVII die III Februarii
mortuus est

patriæ amore ardens
laboris pervicax populo devotus
in aliena quamvis amica terra
viris delectis Poloniensium
multos annos præsidens
pro plebe populoque
Summœ libertati consulebat

Talibus Viris
propter excelsas ipsorum virtutes
propter merita ac labores
publica causa susceptos
socii eorundem exsules
necnon pluribus e gentibus
Jurium Poloniæ suffragatores
sumptu communi
hic monumentum

    Of Mazzini there is little need to speak.  His great career, his genius, his deeds, and his worth, are written on the scroll of History in characters which even the inventive pen of Detraction can not now belittle.  He stands, as I believe, the greatest man in this nineteenth century, none greater in the years of Time, the Prophet of the Future.  What remains for me to speak of is simply the recollections of his personality and of my own relations with him.  I never found change in him, except the change of increased warmth in a growing friendship.  His conversation during the five years from 1843 to 1848, the years in which I was oftenest with him, was always frank and wise.  On whatever subject he spoke, political, social, or literary (English literature included), there was always something to be learned from him.  His greeting was invariably warm and cheerful, his manner that of an affectionate friend, whether in general company, in his own chamber, or in my house among my children.  Of children he was fond.  Well I recollect one night leaving with him his Italian School at Greville Street, Hatton-Garden, when he lifted in his arms the tired child of an Italian workman, and carried the boy as he would a friend's son.  Not merely a leader, even of the great cause of Italian Freedom, his heart was tender toward all sufferers, his disposition compassionate, the disposition of a man who loved.  He came to me once with tears in his eyes, telling me of his friend Stolzman, whom he had found starving, because the old soldier would not even of him ask help, knowing the many claims upon him of his Italians.  He was a man who had not only the faculty of loving, but also the faculty of inspiring love.  Few came under his magnetic influence without becoming attached to him; even those who were unable to comprehend his highest thoughts.  Many served him for his own sake, though they might not fully appreciate his faith or feel any real deep interest in his purposes.

    Even in America he was not without sympathisers.  A young Polish friend, coming to the States, enlisted friends who promised to form for him an Italian party.  When I came to America at the end of 1866, Mazzini charged me to bring them together for some reality of active help, and to explain his principles and views.  Some of these men were dead, some I spoke with.  I need not name them here.  They had cooled; they saw nothing to be done, they were too scattered and isolated to be of use.  Perhaps I myself did not sufficiently persevere, was not strenuously urgent; but the Italian party melted away, like snow on a warm morning, even as the interest evoked by Kossuth in both England and America had also vanished without effect.  There were but few exceptions.  Introduced by Wendell Phillips to General Rawlings, then War Secretary, very cordially received by him, and by him taken to Grant, I had the opportunity of speaking with, I ought rather to say of speaking to, the President; was met with enough courtesy, and listened to, but with no appearance of interest or understanding; and came out grieved and disheartened.  Certainly there was no help for European Republicanism in democratic America: the utmost stretch of sympathy in the United States (still I own to some few noble exceptions) producing only occasional cheers for the eloquent orator and a certain tolerance for unfortunate refugees.  Enough of a bootless complaint!


Norwood; Colonel Reid; Babbage; Sloman; Cobden; O'Connell; Frances Wright; Owen; Landor; Browning; Oastler; Paxton; Place; Perronet Thompson; P. A. Taylor; Hickson; Ebenezer Elliott; George Dawson; F. W. Newman; J. H. Newman; Epps; Bowring; Dickens; Holyoake; Bradlaugh.

    I RETURN to earlier recollections.  Norwood I knew before the Crystal Palace was thought of, where indeed was a wood, a rare place for the entomologist, where in my boyish days I made collections of butterflies, dragon-flies and beetles.  Of many men and women crossing my path in maturer years, who came "like shadows" and so departed, I can recall the names, but little more.  For Colonel Reid, a gaunt Scotchman, the author of the Law of Storms, a work which antedated the work of Maury, I did the first engraving on my own account, cuts of wrecks and wind-driven ships, designed by Duncan.  With a strange sort of unusual fitness for place, Reid became the governor of the "vexed Bermoothes."  Babbage, of the Calculating Machine, I saw once at a Conversazione of the Graphic Club, held at the London University.  I thought he looked like a man to be always at war with the Italian organists.  Sloman, a Jew composer, and a popular singer, I have heard and talked with at Evans' in Covent-Garden, like the "Cider Cellars" a rare place for drink and song in late hours after the theatres.  Very late out of Evans' it was a sight to watch the country waggons coming in with vegetables to the early market: a sight worth waiting for.  Cobden and O'Connell I have heard at the Corn Law League in Covent-Garden Theatre.  There was no chance of hearing them in the Borough of Finsbury, where they would have been met by the chartist cry of "Manhood Suffrage and political freedom even before cheap bread!"  Foresti, Silvio Pellico's fellow-prisoner at Spielberg, after his release, wrote to me from America.  They said that his first inquiry on coming out of Spielberg was concerning Mazzini.  Frances Wright (Madame d'Arusmont), the author of A Few Days at Athens, one of Owen's New Harmony people, a rather handsome woman who had the look of being six feet high, I heard lecture on her return from America, and I occasionally met her.  Robert Owen, too, I would sometimes meet.  There was no magnetic influence from him, a man of one idea, unpoetic, without a spark of imagination, very wearisome in his singular capacity for reiteration.

    Landor I never saw, though I had many friendly letters from him, contributions also to my English Republic, and to Pen and Pencil, a weekly illustrated newspaper which had a brief existence of a few weeks under my editing and art management, in 1854 or 1855.  When, resolute not to pay the damages cast against him in a trial for libel, a libel which the quick-tempered old poet ought not to have uttered, although indeed it was not uncalled for, Landor sold off all he had and quitted England to end his days in Italy, he left in my hands a pile of leaflets to be distributed in justification of his action.  It was really a repetition of the libel, and, thinking such a course unworthy of so great a man, I burned the leaflets, every one.  Somewhile after he sent to Browning, as a present for me, a large picture he supposed to be by Michael Angelo.  Landor at one time had a large collection of pictures, supposed to be genuine, but seldom if ever of any worth.  This "Angelo" might be of that sort.  I called on Browning (the only time I ever saw him) to look at and to speak about the picture.  It was a "Last Judgment," a poor and very unpleasant composition, too large and too unpleasant to be hung in a private house, a gift as of a white elephant, neither to be accepted nor refused.  I got out of the difficulty by Browning telling me that the old man had no right to give it, as all his "belongings" really belonged to his brother, Robert Landor, on whom Walter Savage was living.  So Browning took charge of the elephant and relieved me.

    Richard Oastler I once met in Hetherington's shop; a tall, burly, Yorkshire man, with strangely protruding eyes, a stout Tory, but stronger as a factory-reformer.  Rowland Hill, to whom we owe the penny postage, I spoke with once, on some newspaper business.  With Sir Joseph Paxton, of the Crystal Palace, who had been the Duke of Devonshire's head-gardener at Chatsworth, I once also had an interview.  It was to obtain his interest and help for, I believe, Pen and Pencil.  He received me courteously, but could afford me at most a few minutes, pointing to the clock on the chimney-piece against which he stood; then detained me nearly an hour to tell me of his heavy losses on the Daily News and the useless expense of Dickens' editorship of that paper.  Francis Place, the Westminster tailor who returned two members to Parliament, for he was a power in Westminster, and Sir Francis Burdett and John Cam Hobhouse both owed their election to his influence, a fierce Malthusian with a large family, was an old man when I knew him.  I used to consult him when I wanted advice as to getting up a public meeting.  Colonel Perronet Thompson was the first public speaker I ever heard, it was at a Polish meeting.  I came to know him in the Peoples' International League.  It was only in quite his later days that he was made a General.  His radical principles stood in his way, though he had been Governor of Sierra Leone.  I have understood that he had expended more than £30,000 in advocacy of liberal measures.  As proprietor and editor of the Westminster Review in its best days, he was one of the earliest and most important promoters of the agitation against the Corn Laws.  I recollect, as far back as in the time of my apprenticeship, a cut in the Westminster Review in sharp illustration of the effect of those laws, drawn by Thomas Landseer and engraved by Bonner, a cut of a cage of monkeys, every monkey struggling to get his neighbour's food from the trough in front of them.  A widely accomplished man was the Colonel; his five volumes of Political Exercises (which he gave me), mainly reprints from the Review, are among the best of political writings that I know.  P. A. Taylor, with whom also I was acquainted, the father of the Member of Parliament, of the firm of Courtauld, Taylor, & Courtauld, silk manufacturers, was also one of the first Anti-CornLaw men.  Thompson, Taylor, and W. E. Hickson (who succeeded Thompson as proprietor of the Westminster), with Ebenezer Elliott, the "Corn-Law Rhymer," deserve to rank in that movement as precursors and preparers of the way of Bright and Cobden.

    For George Dawson, the popular lecturer and preacher, I wrote a series of leaders in his newspaper, the Birmingham Journal. A fluent and good orator, though not great, I used to think his manner had been too much affected by his early education as show-boy at prize-exhibitions of his father's school.  He was not an original thinker, but did very good work in popularising Carlyle, and in general politics, always frankly at the public service, with or without pay.  Another good man on the popular side was Francis William Newman, the brother of the Cardinal, not a man of the same high genius, but a man of culture and fine thought, with excellent sympathies and intentions, but, as it seemed to me, hesitating in action and always appearing to doubt if his accepted course had been really right in politics.  He, I used to think, ought to have stooped under the yoke of the Roman Church, and John Henry to have stood upright as a leader of progress, which he might have been.  Good also, and always prompt on the public ground, was Dr. John Epps, a homœopathic physician, whose father, having made a fortune by what the French call charcuterie, sent his eldest son John to College.  We spoke laughingly, not, however, with disrespect, of him as the "Homœopathic Napoleon," his stature and figure and accustomed posture reminding one of the "Little Corporal."  He was a ready, if not an eloquent speaker, too often mixing the hygienic with the political, a plain, sound teacher whose heart was in his speech, a good and sincere liberal.  Dr. Bowring was another man to be depended on in any proceedings toward reform.  I saw him often on public questions, once breakfasted with him at his house in Queen Square, Westminster, and had pleasant meeting with him after his return from China.  There was a little of the Girondist, of the pedagogue about him, and I have no faith in his too facile translations; but he was a good citizen and a man to be respected.

    I had not the same respect for Charles Dickens.  For all his genius as a novelist, I have always thought that his real vocation was as an actor of low comedy, much as the world might have lost by such a change.  Warm-hearted and sentimental, but not unselfish, he was not the gentleman.  There was no grace of manner, no soul of nobility in him.  When he and Wilkie Collins and Wills (the editor of Household Words) went out, taking Dickens' doctor with them, to eat "the most expensive dinner they could get," it was an action that marked the Amphytrion of the feast, if not the others also.  It is an unpleasant anecdote, but it was told me by the doctor himself, who had to prescribe for all three next day.  The doctor's fees of course would be reckoned as part of the expensiveness of the dinner.  Other things I knew of Dickens make me rate him as far inferior as a man (indeed I would also place him as a writer) to Thackeray.  I knew two of Dickens' uncles, both named Barrow: the one a draftsman on wood, who did much work for me, the other, who had been in India, a literary man and editor of an unsuccessful paper, the Mirror of Parliament, projected and provided for by Spottiswood, the Queen's Printer.  Spottiswood was also proprietor of the Pictorial Times, an opposition to the Illustrated London News, and Barrow introduced me to him, as he wanted some change and improvement in the paper.  I was offered a partnership as artistic editor, but had to decline the offer, as I did not feel that under the proposed agreement I should be free in my department.  Not long afterwards I heard that the paper had been given up after a loss of £10,000.  The copyright was bought by Ingram for £100.

    Of two men with whom I had relations, George Jacob Holyoake and Charles Bradlaugh, I must now speak, that I may not be thought afraid to do so: not afraid, but indeed unwilling so far as concerns Holyoake, with whom for some years I had close connection.  He began his public life by a foolish provocation of prosecution for blasphemy, thereby gaining such credit and notoriety as might be due to the "Last Martyr for Atheism."  With such object in view, the martyrdom was of small account; but, taken as only the rash impulsiveness of an over-earnest young man, it gave him admittance to the ranks of lovers of free thought.  So welcomed and made much of, he worked himself up to be the leader of a party, the party of those who considered freethought and disbelief to be synonymous terms, who may indeed be likened to the bird which, escaping from its cage, perches on the next tree, not knowing how nor caring to attempt a farther flight, and whose monotonous song is merely the contented inane reiteration of "I am free."  Looking back upon Holyoake's work, I can give no better account of it so far as free thought was concerned.  But independently of that, he had place among us for his adhesion to the principles of the Charter, and for some aidance in the co-operative endeavours of the time: not by any means of the importance which he now claims for himself.  And he was liked as a kindly-natured, amiable man.  So he made his way, a poor speaker, though not wanting words, not so much leading or swaying an audience as expressing what it desired to hear, and therefore popular,—the mouthpiece of a party that only wanted to be encouraged on its predetermined road.  Looking back, I find in his writing in his paper—the Reasoner—little of original thought or sound reasoning.  Half-educated and weak, he never grew.  Yet after a time he was dissatisfied.  Staying in my house at Miteside for some days, seeing his state of doubtfulness, I counselled him to make his condition of health an excuse for discontinuing the Reasoner for a few weeks, to give him time to seriously sift his own mind.  "If," I said, "you find yourself still convinced of the righteousness and usefulness of your course, you have sufficient hold on your followers to resume work, all the better for your rest; if, on the other hand, you find your path is really tending nowhere, be brave enough to abandon it, and apply your future differently!"  He did not follow my advice, but long afterwards said that he wished he had.

    In fact, he was getting weary of the poor reiteration of Atheism, the word standing between him and friends who could not recognise him openly under such a garment.  So at last he doffed the unseemliness and put on what seemed the more respectable garb of "Secularism," rather a vague term which did not too exactly describe his still-continued nibblings at religious theories and wranglings upon theological formulas.  I began to find him inconsistent and slippery; and when, as it seemed to me, he was also false to the popular cause, and only self-seeking, I parted from him, not without harsh words which even now, rereading them, I can not honestly call back or soften.

    Bradlaugh was a very different man.  Sturdy and conscientious, meaning all he said, and never afraid to say what he meant.  I had little sympathy with his irreligious opinions, nor do I know that there was more than occasional agreement between us on political grounds.  But I had never any reason to do other than respect him.  I take it that sheer want of the imaginative faculty was at the base of his theory of disbelief.  It was not in his nature to believe, certainly not in the supernatural.  But it was in his nature to take an active part in what lay around him, and to stoutly contend against whatever he thought wrong in theory or practice; and he was true to his nature, whether as iconoclast or reformer.  There seemed an indication of something else in his affection for the companion of his early days, James Thomson, the poet (true poet) of the City of Dreadful Night, and in Thomson's affection for him.  Certainly it should be said that this indefatigable iconoclast was a kindly-natured man, as one may be even if a born fighter.   And he was a man who made the best of himself; to whom, I would say, self-culture, if only to train him for the fight (and who shall dare even so to narrow his motives?) was felt as a duty.  Unlike the man of whom I have just spoken, there was growth in him.  I had not heard him for years when, being in England, I was asked by an American friend to take him to hear a lecture by Bradlaugh.  We went, were much pleased with the lecturer, and for myself, I was surprised at a notable improvement in both oratory and manner.  Had he lived, I believe he would have made a distinguished record as Member of Parliament,—courageous, persistent, indomitable, and of strict integrity.  So I judge him, differing toto cœlo from him on the ground of life and action.


Ruskin; John Forster; Robson; Derwent Coleridge; Wordsworth; Dr. Davy; Harriet Martineau; Mrs. Millner Gibson; Mediums; Dupotet ; Kossuth; Medici ; Rouge; The Hills; Mrs. Craik ; Dobell; Rossetti; Swinburne; Barmby; Thom; The Chartist Epic; Robert Montgomery; Lover; G. S. Phillips; Hughes; Mayne Reid.

    I CAN keep no sort of order in these reminiscences.  Ruskin I saw but once, then by appointment in the shop of Ellis, the bookseller, in King Street, Covent Garden: a very pleasant meeting.  The purchase of Brantwood was pleasantly arranged in a couple of letters.  But I knew of him not only through my admiration for his writings (admiring him as The Poet, beyond all verse-makers of his time, and for the keen political insight of his at first so much misunderstood book, Unto This Last), but farther as a man of the noblest nature.  I knew from W. B. Scott, very friendly with him until differing views of artistic teaching (at the Workingmen's College and elsewhere) sundered them, of his great life and generosities.  Scott, no doubt, was right on the Art question.  Forster of the Examiner, whom Thornton Hunt labelled as the "Beadle of the Universe" on account of his pomposity, I met only at a conversazione; but I wrote occasionally in the Examiner; on one occasion a whole page of review with translations of Victor Hugo's Châtiments, for which my only honorarium was a note of admiration from Landor, and Hugo's photograph sent to me by the great Frenchman.  Of Forster's Life of Sir John Eliot I possess a copy given me by my friend John Robson, the printer of the book, a printer not only excellent in his own art, but a man of various accomplishments, a Greek and Latin scholar, not unacquainted with Hebrew, and a collaborator with Dyce in the preparation of Dyce's edition of Shakspere.  With the Rev. Derwent Coleridge, the brother of Hartley, I once spent a delightful day at Keswick and walking over Blencathra (Saddleback, from its form), the nearest mountain to Skiddaw.  He appeared to me a sensible, well-informed, genial, and liberal clergyman, hardly deserving to be girded at by Carlyle because he was too wise a man not to get on better in the world than his brother or his father.  But the getting on in the world was itself the offence to Carlyle.  (Duffy's Conversations, p. 60.)  Wordsworth, though I lived in the Lake Country, I never saw.  Miteside was far away from Rydale across the mountains, and he died in 1850, before I had come within his reach from Brantwood.  Perhaps I had not cared to visit him, not sure how he might receive the Chartist and Republican, for I could not forget what I had been told by Margaret Gillies, the miniature-painter, who was staying at Rydale to take Wordsworth's portrait when the news came of Frost's reprieve: that the old Northman stamped his foot with vexation and rage.  Professor Wilson was much oftener talked of than Wordsworth, and was evidently much more in the hearts and remembrance of the Lake folk.  So, indeed, was poor Hartley Coleridge.  They were before my time, as certainly was Sir Humphrey Davy; but I dined once at the Swan at Grasmere, in company with my good Coniston doctor, Mr. Gibson, with Sir Humphrey's brother, Dr. Davy, at a doctors' dinner.

    At Brantwood I was near enough to Ambleside to visit Harriet Martineau, and to be visited by her.  Plain and, judging from her portraits, far from prepossessing in her young days, she had become with age a good-looking, comely, interesting old lady, very deaf, but cheerful and eager for news, which she did not always catch correctly.  With all her manly self-dependence and strict intentional honesty, with all her credit for practical common sense, she was as much a poet at heart as her brother, the Rev. James; a romancer even in the region of economical facts, even in those hard Poor Law Tales, when under Lord Brougham she was preparing to prove the necessity for the Poor Law Amendment Act, that crowning harshness of Whig rule.  She has never had justice done to her on this ground of romance.  It matters little: if she did find Cumberland cheeses so hard that they struck fire as they rolled down the rocks, and the peasant girls indulging in an excess of jewellery, we are still justified in esteeming her as a true and brave woman.  Another grand woman I had the honour of knowing was Mrs. Millner Gibson, a staunch Liberal, her house a centre and place of rendezvous for Liberals, a firm friend of Mazzini and Italian freedom.  She, too, like Harriet Martineau, had her weak spot of credence for some things not "dreamed of in your philosophy."  At the next house to hers, that of Dr. Ashburner, by Hyde Park Corner, I was with her at a reception given to that chief of humbugs, the American medium, Foster.  Various were his tricks, but none convincing to the unprepared.  Going from the exhibition-room into another, I there saw Mrs. Gibson, Sir Emerson Tennant, and a third person, watching a round table that, with its legs in the air, was expected to lift itself and turn over to a normal position.  I did not wait to see the accomplishment.  Another fraud even more transparent than Foster was a Mrs. Marshall, a rather low-lived medium and table-rapper, who allowed you to look under the table because there was "nothing but wacancy there."  She gave me messages from a dead (never-living) brother, whose name I led to; and was plainly disposed to be fooled by or to fool her visitors to the top of their bent.  Once, many years before, I had been present at a séance given by the French magnetist, the Baron Dupotet, when the power of magnetic passes was fairly exhibited on two young girls, Dupotet's patients.  Unless my recollection deceives me, there were present Mrs. Trollope and a deaf son, his deafness apparently lost while under the magnetic influence.

    Kossuth's oratory I never heard, but with my friend Worcell I spent some hours with him one morning, and was pleased with his suavity and bright conversation.  Medici, a tall, handsome, soldierly-looking man, one of the heroes of the defence of Rome, afterwards under Victor Emmanuel Governor of Sicily, I had met at an evening reception in London.  Thiers, a mean old clothes-man in appearance, passed me once at the entrance of the Chamber of Deputies in Paris, followed immediately by General Cavaignac.  I could not repress a wish that the tall, grim soldier would pick up the historic liar and fling the noisome thing to the ground.  Not even for Louis Napoleon have I felt more abhorrence than for Thiers, the woman-massacrer in those sadly mistaken days of the Commune.  Johannes Ronge, a sort of mild Luther, I knew slightly.  He spent some time at the house of my friend Scott in Newcastle; and sorely grieved the heart of Mrs. Scott's mother, as the old lady herself told me, by his excessive addiction to cold water, hanging out his wet sheets of a morning to dry on the rail at the stair-top.  A worthy enough man, well meaning, but with far too high an opinion of his own importance in the world's work.  His wife appeared to be a sensible and estimable woman.  She kept at one time a kindergarten in London.  Mrs. Hill, a daughter of Dr. Southwood Smith, the wife of the editor of an extreme free-thought paper at Wisbeach, the Star in the East, I knew well; and knew also, when they were children, her five daughters, five or six.  One of them was Octavia Hill, since prominent in good work.  Another married a son of G. H. Lewes.

    With Dinah Muloch, afterwards Mrs. Craik, I was also well acquainted, an over-tall and in younger days somewhat spindly woman, not beautiful, but good, the goodness flavouring all her writings.  At her house at Hampstead I met Sidney Dobell, a pleasant, gentlemanly young fellow, the author of Balder.  Once at Dante Rossetti's rooms in Chatham Place, by Blackfriar's Bridge, I think in 1861, I met Swinburne, then a young man, but looking like a boy, and with a boyish manner, jumping about as he became excited in speaking, yet interesting and attractive.  For Rossetti I had great regard, though I saw not much of him.  He seemed to me to be rather an Italian than an Englishman; an Italian of the time of the Medici, not without thoughts and superstitions of that period, a man of genius both in art and literature; one, however, hindering the other, the literary preponderating, and by which he will be best recollected.  His poems will surely last; and there are no finer translations extant than his from the Italian, of "Dante and his Circle."  I find him fully and fairly noticed in the Autobiographical Notes of W. B. Scott; so fully that I need not attempt addition to his record.  Powerful, subtle, and highly imaginative, Rossetti's poems are the very antithesis of those of Charles Mackay, whom I knew, of Eliza Cook, whom I never met, or of Martin Farquhar Tupper, to whom I was introduced at the opening of Mudie's Lending Library, and whom I might have passed as a most respectable grocer and possible churchwarden.  More poetic than Tupper, not only in appearance, was Goodwyn Barmby, who in his callow days was a very earnest itinerant all-on-his-own-hook preacher of a sort of socialism; but who, after much well-borne buffeting, settled down as a quiet and respectable Unitarian minister at Pontefact, in Yorkshire, where he married for his second wife the daughter of the Governor of the Gaol.  We were always friendly, and he came across the country to visit me at Brantwood, and to show how little he had changed except in outer clerical appearance.  He offered me the use of his pulpit; but I never had the opportunity of accepting his offer.  Truly a poet, albeit in a small Burns-diluted way, was poor Willie Thom, an Inverurie weaver, a little man with a club-foot, who was seduced to come on a poetic pilgrimage to London, somewhere about 1844, meeting there at first with much congratulation, public dinners, pattings on the back, and kindness, from Dickens, the Howitts, Fox, Eliza Cook, and others, but with no success in his search for literary employment, for which indeed he had little capacity.  That a poor untaught weaver should have written so well, was his sole recommendation.  An amiable, weak man, he met with much personal favour; but what could be done with him or for him?  Disappointed, with the help of Fox, who was a good friend to him, and at whose house I first met him, he returned to Scotland to die outside of the gates of Fame.  Friendly patronage could do no more.

    Such ineffectual fostering brings before me the name of Capel Lofft, the patron of Kirke White!  A nephew of Lofft, of the same name (I believe he was a barrister in Gray's Inn), wrote and printed an "epic" poem.  The poem being "Chartist," I suppose was the occasion of my hearing of it, and I asked for and obtained a copy.  It was a strange jumble of blank, very blank, verse and rhyme: the speeches being rhyme, the descriptive portions in unrhymed lengths.  The story was of an imaginary attempt at revolution in England, headed by one "Ernest," a young enthusiast whose part was that of "King Arthur come again," and who, winning one battle against the opponent nobles, in the moment of victory disappears, Arthur like, when the successful rebels would proclaim him king: the whole story reading like a romance of the German "Peasants' War," with a more fortunate but most unlikely result.  Hardly had the book appeared, and been noticed not unfavourably by the Quarterly Review, when the author, fearing it was too potent an incitement to rebellion, called in all the copies and withdrew from the notoriety he had begun to provoke.  Fox, unable to get a copy, asked to borrow mine.  When I handed it to him he remarked, "Do not expect to have this back again!  I have lost so many books by lending, that now I never think of returning those I borrow.  I lent some volumes to Southwood Smith.  He never returned them, but one day when I was dining with him, he pointed them out to me in his library, and bade me notice how well he had had them bound."  Of course, so warned, I had my book back in due time.  I have never seen another copy.  It is one of the curiosities of literature.

    The Rev. Robert Montgomery, the author of Satan, once consulted me concerning the illustrating of another of his great poems, Woman.  He was a handsome and popular clergyman, full of words, but his poetic gift perhaps fairly to be estimated from some lines in The Real Devil's Walk, a rather lengthy imitation of Coleridge's.  Montgomery meets the Devil in Piccadilly; and they pass without greeting, for

"Montgomery knew nothing of Satan,
 Though Satan knew Montgomery."

    Lover, a poorer Moore, not so prolific, but perhaps more genuine, I once heard sing one of his songs—"What would you do?  Love!" to his own accompaniment.  He struck me only as a pleasant little man of society, of not much weight.  Not at all a man of society was G. S. Phillips, with whom I spent some hours in Huddersfield, where he was Secretary to a Mechanics' Institute.  I knew him from his writing some fresh and brightly clever articles on Sherwood Forest in Lees' Present Age, in which he wrote over the pseudonym of "January Searle."  He was a tall, good-looking, earnest, or rather impulsive man, who would, should think, make friends quickly and perhaps not keep them.  Scott, hearing something of him, wrote to invite him to Newcastle.  He meaned to take him to some philosophical meeting; but the appointed evening arrived; and no Phillips.  Too late for the meeting came a brief note to say that he, Phillips, had found a pleasant fellow-traveller on the train, and they two were enjoying themselves at the Turk's Head, or other Newcastle hotel, and would Scott join them there?  I knew no more of him till he called upon me in New York.  I did not care to keep up the acquaintance.  He had taken to drink, and the last I heard of him was of his being in an asylum.  Hughes, the author of Tom Brown's Schooldays, I used to see while engraving Richard Doyle's designs for Scouring the White Horse, for Macmillan.  Mayne Reid I met once at the office of the Illustrated London News.

[Next Page]


[Home] [Up] [W. J. Linton.] [The Chartists] [Claribel] [Misc Poems] [Stories for Children] [James Watson] [Republican Letters] [The English Republic] [Site Search] [Main Index]