MR. CLODD AND HIS FRIENDS.*
Ma. CLODD has collected friends as some men collect china or pictures. He is to be congratulated on his gift of friendship, which must have brought him many happy hours, and which has led to the writing of this agreeable book about the distinguished men and women in his circle. We must frankly admit our dislike of Mr. Clodd's attitude towards religion ; he is so hostile as to become positively angry at the suggestion that Professor W. K. Clifford and George Gluing were reconciled to the Church before they died. But a man with so many friends as ho has had cannot be so cynical as he pretends, and it is noteworthy that, like Huxley, he is all for the diligent reading and study of the Bible. Mr. Clodd tells us little about himself. He was born seventy-six years ago at Margate, but hie parents, who were Aldeburgh people, soon returned to that delightful little Suffolk port, where Mr. Clodd lives and where ho has entertained his friends. lie was by profession a banker, but, like many other bankers from Grote to Mr. Kenneth Grahame, he found time to write a long series of books, mainly on evolution and anthropology and agnosticism ; the placid regularity of the banking life, at least before the war, seems to suit the literary man as no other branch of commerce does. Mr. Clodd says that his parents wished him to become a Baptist minister, and in his early days in London he was drawn to the Unitarians by Martineau and to Theism by Voysey. " My waning belief in the Bible as in any sense a Revelation was shattered by reading Jewett's article on the ' Interpretation of Soripture ' in Essays and Reviews (1860)." He was carried further by Huxley's Man's Place in Nature (1863) and Sir E. B. Tylor's Primitive Culture (1871), which Churchmen of those days wore too ready to regard as irreconcilable with revealed religion.
Mr. Clodd's sketches of his friends are not arranged in any particular order, for Grant Allen is placed first, and Meredith, °Suring, and Holman Hunt, whose portraits aro the most interesting in the book, come much later. Grant Allen's letter describing his bleat Spanish Town, Jamaica, where he was for some years Principal of a College for coloured youths and lectured on " every subject of human conjecture from the weight of the sun . . . to the freedom of will," is a curious document. When he came home, he wrote popular essays on science, but, the demand failing, he turned to novel-writing, and there at last found worldly success. The late Canon Isaac Taylor once said to Allen, in Mr. Clodd's hearing, that " he must now and again have some difficulty in disposing of his rascals." " Not at all,' retorted Allen, I make them into Canons ' " Fortunately Taylor himself loved a joke. He once asked Mr. Clodd to attend his church to hear his curate, who had recently begun a sermon on the text " Redeeming the time " with the grave statement " My dear friends, procrastination is often the cause of much delay." To the Canon also is attributed the well-known story of the new housemaid who, after attending family prayers, announced her intention to leave, on the ground that " Master said, ' 0 God, who hatest nothing but the 'ousemaid ' "—" Master " having failed, like too many clergymen, to pronounce his words clearly. Huxley is, perhaps, Mr. Clodd's great hero, and we are given a peep at his informal Sunday evenings when he would talk about everything, and especially about books and poetry. In a corner of his library he kept a " con- demned cell " full of old books on philosophy and theology, so that he might know the arguments of the other side. It is instructive to learn that " he spoke of Hobbes's Leviathan as the book which, in the degree that his style bad been influenced at all by reading, bad been formative upon him." The steady revival of Hobbes, after age. of neglect and contumely, has long seemed to us one of the most gratifying proofs that a great author, whatever his views may bo, will always come by his • Memories. By Edward Clodd. London: Chapman and Hall. ROL ed. naij
own in the long run. Of Herbert Spencer, Mr. Clodd has, of course, one or two ludicrous stories to tell. While they were lunching with Grant Allen, he saw the philosopher use his ear-stoppers ; " in the middle of the meal, Spencer, with fixed glance on me, pressed the spring which closed the hole of each ear." After lunch, Spencer asked Allen and Mr. Clodd to drive with him, but " we were not to talk," said his messenger. But the eccentric old man was kindly at heart. Mr. Clodd prints a letter from him, in which he explained to Allen why it is wrong to bolt one's food, and added : " Excuse me for saying that if you do not masticate you do not deserve to be well." Richard A. Proctor ; H. W. Bates, the naturalist ; Joseph Thomson, the African explorer ; and Du Chaillu are interesting figures in Mr. Clodd's gallery, with Whymper and Simpson, the artist-correspondent; but he is moved to greater fervour by his memories of Mary Kingsley. Those who ever saw her, or even heard her lecture, will agree with his remark that " it is utterly beyond the power of any of us to convey the impression which this brilliantly gifted, most sympathetic and plucky woman—spare in figure, blue-eyed, fair-haired—made upon all who met her." " We all fell in love with her," he adds ; " York Powell said to me : If I were an artist, I should paint her as my type of the Madonna.' " He prints some of her lively, slangy, inconsequential letters, which, like her books, conceal under the pose of indifference her tremendous seientifio interest in the problem of the untutored mind and her desire to improve our West African rule.
Edward FitzGerald lived near Woodbridge, which is not far from Aldeburgh, but Mr. Clodd only saw him once. However, he prints a letter from " old Fitz " to Carlyle and Carlyle's reply, and tells Sir Mortimer Durand's story of his interview with the Shah on behalf of the Omar Khayylini Club, who wanted the poet's tomb at Naishapur to be repaired :—
" The Shah said: Do you mean to tell mo that there is a society in London connected with Omar Khayyam ? ' When answered in the affirmative, His Majesty leant back in his big chair, laughed loudly and at last said : Why, he has been dead a thousand years.' I replied Yee, but surely that is all the more reason for doing honour to his memory.' The Shah retorted : No, I cannot order the tomb to be repaired. We have got many better poets than Omar Khayyam. Indeed, I myself —' and then he stopped."
In an enthusiastic appreciation of the late Sir A. C. Lyall, Mr. Clodd quotes some interesting letters of his. In reference to Huxley's controversy with Gladstone about the Gadarene swine, Lyall said that Huxley had taken it too seriously :- `' You think that if miracles were needed to remove unbelief, they are just as much, or more, wanted now as formerly. Miracles were quoted, in the old days, I think, not so much to remove unbelief as to accredit a now message. Our theologians might reply to you that when a now message comes, the miracles will reappear, as, in fact, they always do in Asia. Of course, I myself do not believe in the miracles, but I confess that Huxley's peremptory demand for scientific proof of these antique religions seems to mo to imply deficient apprehension of their nature and spirit. I conceive his vies- to be hardly what I should call philosophicaL"
Mr. Clodd knew James Cotter Morison, who wrote the well-known St. Bernard and The Service of Man. He says that Morison, before starting on St. Bernard's Life, " obtained, through the influence of Cardinal Manning, the privilege of admission for some weeks to a Cis- tercian monastery, whore he went through the severe discipline imposed on the brotherhood." As ho was a Positivist and an epicure, this was no small penance. Mr. Clodd compares him to the conscientious amateur who, in order to play Othello well, blacked himself all over. We are given also an attractive sketch of York Powell and rather too many of his offhand pronouncements on authors, which he would not, we think, have wished to be taken very seriously, as when he begged
fellow-Professor " not to be mealy-mouthed over Rousseau, ' Le prophet° du faux,' the eighteenth-century Mandi, the begetter of more follies than can be counted." Mr. Clodd says truly enough that York Powell was " born to be a man of action but fated to be a man of letters."
George Meredith is the most arresting figure of all in Mr. Clodd's pages, and the notes of his conversations are all too brief. They confirm the belief that he thought far more of his poetry than of his prose :- "Only a few read my verse, and yet it is that for which I care most," he told Mr. Clodd. " It is vexatious to see how judges from whom one looks for discernment miss the point. There was a review . . . com- plaining of the shadowy figure of Alice in the Nuptials of Attila.' I was not telling a love-story ; my subject was the fall of an empire. I began with poetry and I shall finish with it."
When his critics complained—not without reason—of the obscurity of his later novels, he decided to abandon the novels which he had planned, called The Journalist and Sir Harry Firebrand of the Beacon, though another, The Sentimentalists, was outlined. "They say this or that is Meredithian ; I have become an adjective." It is sad to be reminded that Meredith had written many great novels and had attained the age of fifty-seven before he achieved a success with the book-buying public in Diana of the Crossways. He told Mr. Clodd :— " I never outline my novels before starting on them ; I live day and night with my characters. As I wrote of Diana and other leading typos, it drew nourishment, as it were, from their breasts. Fevered was written at 7 Rebury Street, Chelsea •, so were the earlier chapters of Evan Harrington; the rest was finished at Esher. Fevered took me a year to write ; the Egoist was beeunn and finished in five months. In my walks I often came acmes Carlyle, and longed to speak to him. One day my publishers received a letter from Mr. Carlyle asking about me. Then I called on them ; Carlyle told me that his wife disliked Fevered at first, and had flung it on the floor, but that on her reading some of it to him he said 'The man's no fool' ; so they persevered to the end. He said that I had the makings of an historian in me ; but I answered that so much fiction must always enter into history that I must stick to novel writing."
Meredith as reader to Messrs. Chapman and Hall had proved a shrewd judge of authors, and had " discovered " Mr. Hardy and George Giasing. It is curious, therefore, that he should have said to Mr. Clodd :—
" I don't think that Stevenson's fiction has any chance of life. Weir of Hermiston was the likeliest, but 'tie a fragment. Neither are his essays likely to have permanence ; they are good, but competition is destructive, and only the rarest will survive."
Fifteen years or more, we suppose, have passed since this was said, and Stevenson is more widely read than ever. Meredith was a stem critic of his fellow-poets. He called Byron a " sham sentimentalist," and Matthew Arnold " a dandy Isaiah," but he loved the whole of Keats and the earlier verso of Tennyson. " Tennyson's rich diction and marvellous singing power cannot be overrated, but the thought is thin." Of the great twin-brethren of the mid-Victorian age ho said :—
" Thackeray's note was too monotonous ; the Great Hoggarty Diamond, next to Vanity Fair, is most likely to live ; it is full of excellent fooling. I mot him and Dickens only a very few times. Not much of Dickens will live, because it has so little correspondence to life. Ho was the incarnation of Cockneydom, a caricaturist who aped the moralist ; he should have kept to short stories. If his novels are read in the future, people will wonder what we saw in them, save some possible element of fun meaningless to them. Tho world will never let Mr. Pickwick, who to me is full of the lumber of imbecility, share honours with Don Quixote."
We shall see. Predicting the taste of readers a generation or two hence is a vain task, even for a Meredith, but we think he was wrong. Dickens's immense popularity in Russia, for example, shows that he does appeal to humanity at large, despite his apparent limitations. George Chasing is not seen at his beet in his letters to Mr. Clodd, but they give an interesting glimpse of the man in the last years of his short and troubled life, enjoy- ing the tranquillity of the Pyrenees and reading the classics that ho really
loved. His Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft, which had cost him two years' work, brought him, he told Mr. Clodd, not quite £200. " There is literary success for you! Yet I have nearly threescore letters from
strangers about this book, most of them enthusiastic. The fact of the matter is that some men are born not to make mbney. I do not touch the great public,' and I suppose never shall." Mr. Clodd mentions in a footnote that the MS. of one of Gissing's novels is being offered, as an autograph, for £120. " I question," he adds, " if he made half the sum on the book itself."
The last figure whom we shall select from Mr. Clodd's collection is that of Holman Hunt. His candid criticism of the mosaics in St. Paul's, dated 1889, is worth reading. So, too, are his letters from Oxford, written during the long months whioh he spent in painting "May Morning in Magdalen Tower." In regard to religion he dealt frankly with Mr. Clodd, whose views, of course, he did not share.
He wrote :— " I have heard you say that some German critic found out two hundred and fifty (or something like it) unfulfilled prophecies in the Bible. I do not believe the Biblical critics one bit. I know that when I go to the site of Tiberias, the only city I see standing there in Tiberias, the one which most of all was hateful to Jesus. Not one word was uttered against it by Jesus, but Capernaum and the other humble and compara- tively pious places were denounced and doomed, and not one of them exists. Go to Tyre, to Sidon, to Askelon, to Gaza, and you will find these all ruined, while Jaffe, Beyrout, against which nothing was said, remain where they were."
Holman Hunt confirmed the truth of the story that Christina Rossetti —" the sepulchral poetess," he calls her—sat to him for the head of Christ in " The Light of the World," but only once, and other sitters wore also used. He says in one letter that an old gentleman used to call on his wife and ask her to persuade Holman Hunt to overcome his
partiality for mysteries " and " paint something more in accordance with sober common-sense." The painter hoped that his " May Morning " would reassure the old man as to his sanity.