CHARLOTTE MARY YONGE was born on August 11, 1823, and died March 24, 1901.
She was of a good and honourable Devonshire family. Her father, William Yonge, served through the Peninsular War, and was present at Waterloo--a great and lifelong joy to his daughter. He had fallen in love with a certain Miss Fanny Bargus, but the course of true love by no means ran smooth, and for five years the attachment between the young people was unacknowledged by the stern parents. William Yonge's father, Mr. Duke Yonge, Vicar of Cornwood, in Devonshire, reasonably enough, demurred to his son, a young man considerably under thirty, throwing up his profession, and Mrs. Bargus, unreasonably, (at least, so it seems to modern people), would not let her only daughter marry a soldier. At last, in 1822, these difficulties were removed. William Yonge resigned his commission, and settled down on a tiny property at Otterbourne, near Winchester, which Mrs. Bargus had bought, and where it was arranged that the young people should live with her.
It must have been a very great sacrifice, for Mr. Yonge loved his profession and Devonshire, and was an active and vigorous man. To us in these days, when it is more the fashion to consider children than parents, the idea of an elderly woman insisting on what seems likely to spoil a man's life is absolutely monstrous; but Mr. Yonge took it as a matter of course, and was always a dutiful son to his somewhat difficult mother-in-law. It is curious to see how strong Miss Yonge's views always were on the subject of duties to the old.
In Heartsease, for instance, Helen Fotheringham is allowed to spoil not only her own, but also the life of her betrothed lover, John Martindale, by taking care of an imbecile grandfather. Helen was a very beautiful character, and possibly the sacrifice of not merely the best years of her own and of John's life, but of her health, was necessary. What is odd is that Miss Yonge has no doubt or suspicion that Helen could have done anything else; there was no clash of duties. The grandmother in Henriettas Wish, we are sure, is a recollection of Mrs. Bargus, but we will return to this book later on; it is such a perfect illustration of the change in ideas of the relations between young and old which has come since 1823.
The numerous cousins; the associations with good, pious, cultivated forefathers and contemporaries; the chivalrous ideals among which she was nurtured; the sweet English scenery, so quiet and soothing--the landscape, in fact, of the Christian Year--together with the Devonshire rocks and moors and sea, all made up influences which had much to do with making Charlotte what she became. She was a child of the English Church; she was a thorough Englishwoman. Loyalty to Church and Throne, an absolute devotion to duty, a love of what was good and beautiful, a deep reverence for sacred things, a certain reserve which resulted in an awkward shyness--all these are so truly English. It is probable that much which helped to build up her character is passing away, or has passed away. But so long as the Church which she loved so much and served so well exists, so long will good and holy men and women be trained up to work, if not on the lines she thought best, at least in her spirit and for the same cause, under the same Captain.
Through all the years of her long life she did a noble work, and it was nothing less than this: she showed in all her books how intimately Creed and Character are linked; she taught in every book that there was one thing, and one only, which everyone, from the crowned monarch on his throne to the little servant-girl in her scullery, had to think about: 'What ought I to do? What is it God requires of me?' Miss Yonge shrank from overmuch talk about religion in her books and in daily life, but in reality she and Brother Lawrence were absolutely agreed. She lived and moved in the Presence of God, and she made the sense of that living Presence a motive power in the lives of her best people.
She showed how every Article in the Creed was, not some theological dogma expressed in technical language, but was a living truth which would act on the lives of those who assimilated it, and make them fruitful.
Charlotte Yonge has been sneered at more than once for exalting the domestic virtues, yet it was she who was almost the first story-teller who dared to write of the Religious Life as a normal development. It was she who wrote the life of our great missionary Bishop Patteson, who certainly 'left father and mother and all that he had for Christ's sake and the Gospel.' It was she who, in the magazine she edited for so long, set forth the ideals and the lives of the faithful in the Western and Eastern branches of the Church.
But she was absolutely loyal to the English Church, and recognized that in this much-despised communion there are possibilities of sanctity, and privileges, and peace and joy and access to God.
She has influenced many people who are now themselves old; she has held up to them an ideal of goodness; she has made them know the possibilities within their own Church; she does indeed deserve a place among the leaders of religion in the Church of England.
Of course, as a writer she has limitations: she is not a Jane Austen or a George Eliot; but- in her own degree she has a place among the great ones of literature, if it were only for the Little Duke and for creating Dr. May. But of all this we shall say more.
But no one who cares for the Church, no one who really wishes to know something of the history of that extraordinary revival of life and of devotion in the Anglican Communion, ought to ignore Charlotte Mary Yonge, or think of her as a mere writer of Domestic tales which possess a High Church flavour, and are rather tiresome and prolix. They are much more than this, and some of them deserve to be remembered, and probably will be held in affection, for many a year to come.
Charlotte Mary Yonge was for more than six years her parents' only child. Her brother was born on January 31,1830. She has told us a great deal about her childhood, which was a happy one, although it lacked much of what is now considered essential to a child's happiness. Companions of her own age she had not many, except during the joyous times of the annual visits to Devonshire to the cousinhood there.
She was taught by father and mother, and they Were undoubtedly intelligent and clever people, much inclined to the bracing system which the Edgeworths had introduced, and to overmuch repression and snubbing. Possibly a good deal of her awkwardness and shyness might have been overcome had she lived among people with real country tastes and more powers of gratifying them. She never seems to have been taught to ride or drive, or encouraged to do anything except take moderate walks. But it was the fashion of the day that women should be incapable of bodily exertion.
At home there were regular lessons in the morning, walks or play by herself in the afternoon, and not very much more. As a little girl the only children near at hand were the Shipleys of Twyf ord, tout, alas! they did not like 'pretend games.'
It is surely herself whom Miss Yonge describes in Cowntess Kate. Kate, that most delightful and natural of little girls, who had no control over a squeaky voice, whose greatest joy was to play at the Lady of the Lake, or at 'Hermione descending to soft music'; Kate, whose clothes tore of themselves, and to whom dirt and brambles attached themselves, who was warm-hearted and loyal, and loved a stern but just rule, and was too shy to do herself justice, seems a description of Charlotte.
Miss Yonge, especially in her earlier books, was fond of describing fathers and uncles who were stern, upright, rather awe-inspiring, but withal the most delightful of playfellows and the most sympathetic of friends. Uncle Geoffrey in Henrietta's Wish, Colonel Umfraville in Countess Kate, are, we feel pretty sure, suggested by Mr. William Yonge.
There is also a charming story, The Sea Spleenwort, which first appeared in a set of tales called The Magnet Stories. These volumes charmed not a few little people fifty years ago. The Sea Spleenwort is surely a bit of autobiography, with the delightful account of the seaside home and numerous cousins.
To her father Miss Yonge looked up with unquestioning love and loyalty, but he was a rather impatient and exacting parent. He was an exceedingly handsome man, and Miss Yonge speaks of his 'dark keen eyes, with the most wonderful power both for sweetness and for sternness that I ever knew. ... I loved their approval and their look of affection, and dreaded their displeasure more than anything else.
'Even now (1877), when for twenty-three years they have been closed, to think of their beaming smile seems to me to recall my greatest happiness, of their warning glance my chief dread and shame.'
The description Miss Yonge gives of her mother is very charming, and shows how bright and intelligent a person Mrs. Yonge must have been; her married life so much happier than her childhood. Her letters are delightful.
When Charlotte was five years old, Mrs. Yonge took her to the Sunday-school which had been set up by Mr. Yonge in a small cottage in 1822. On week-days the school was taught by a Dame, who certainly did not know much, but could at any rate teach reading, needlework, and--manners. Surely Chantry House and its descriptions of what the Winslows found in their parish was a tolerably exact account of the funny arrangements the Yonges discovered at Otterbourne, where a rather odd individual Mr. Shuckburgh, was curate to Archdeacon Heathcote, who was Vicar of Hursley, to which Otterbourne was united.
In 1834 the Rev. William Henry Walter Bigg-Wither came as curate. He remained there for thirty-seven years, and was Miss Yonge's friend until the day of his death. He was a type of the wellborn, old-fashioned, devout Churchman of that day, a Winchester man, and a Fellow of New College, with the complete classical training of both; and he also belonged to an old Hampshire family. He was strongly influenced by Keble and Oxford, but was always old-fashioned in practice, and hated innovations. He is not forgotten even now, and his nieces (he was never married) were some of Miss Yonge's dearest friends.
It is delightful to read of the changes he introduced, and of the boys' school with a master who probably was not up to the 'third standard.' Certainly for enthusiastic Church-people, who were fond of school-teaching, those were happy days. They could, if they had the money or could raise it, set up a school, and work out all their theories on the children whom they collected, with no Inspector or County Council before their eyes. And it is a rather curious fact that it was on schools that the energy of Mrs. Yonge and of Charlotte chiefly concentrated. They never seem to have visited the people very much or made friends with them individually, and to the last days of her life Charlotte hardly ever seems to have visited the school-children when they in their turn had become fathers and mothers. The strict and, for a young girl, wise rules of her parents, which prohibited 'cottage visiting,' were kept to by her when she was a grown-up woman, and her shyness prevented her from expressing the affection and interest which she really felt. This was undoubtedly a great pity.
The chief events up to 1835 seem to have been a visit to Oxford in 1834 in order to see the Duke of Wellington installed as Chancellor, and the death of a favourite cousin, James Yonge, a Winchester boy of eighteen. There again comes out the likeness to Countess Kate. Charlotte says of herself how she fell into disgrace for appearing unfeeling, and how glad she was to remember 'the cats must be fed.' Kate had an impatience of grown-up people in affliction.
Latin and arithmetic were added to her studies, and tears were often the consequence of the lessons given her before breakfast by her impatient father, whose approbation was, however, delightful, and who bestowed on his little pupil a watch as a prize during the winter of 1834, to her unbounded surprise. A French master gave her lessons in his own tongue and in Spanish, and Charlotte's first beginnings of story-telling arose. For her French master she composed a story of the adventures of a family--Emilie, Rosalie, Henriette and Pauline Melville. Some years afterwards she worked this up into a little book, which was sold at a bazaar for Otterbourne Church, and called Le Chateau de Melville.
The Coleridges became friends when Mr. John Taylor Coleridge was made a Judge, and brought his girls to Winchester and Otterbourne when he went the Western Circuit. With both his daughters Charlotte made great and lifelong friendship. Sir John Taylor Coleridge, the brother-in-law of Mr. Justice Patteson, and biographer of Keble, was one of the best of men.
Mr. Coleridge, Mr. Keble, Sir William Heathcote, Were all friends at Oxford, scholars with kindred tastes. No wonder Charlotte, with her father and her cousin, Lord Seaton, and some others, notably Warden Barter, constantly in her view, grew up with a high ideal of what men might be and were. She saw good men in daily life--men with faults and quick tempers, but with noble ideals, high principles, and lives guided and ruled by a very deep and practical piety. And in 1835 Dr. Moberly came to Winchester, and Mr. Keble to Hursley.
Mr. Keble was, as Miss Yonge says, the great influence of her life. With Mr. Yonge he formed a deep friendship, which Miss Yonge says reminded her of the bond between Laud and Strafford.
The views of the early Tractarians were not in any way alien to the right-minded Church-people of the day. That the Church of England possessed the Apostolic Ministry and the power of the Keys, and that Sacraments were indeed outward signs of God's favour and grace, were simply neglected truths, which not a few Church-people had always held. There were not a few who, like the Mr. Bowdler of whom Miss Coleridge speaks in her Life of Miss Yonge, were 'High Churchmen before the High Church movement.' Alexander Knox is one of the most conspicuous of these, and with his writings Mr. Keble was well acquainted.
It is forty years since Mr. Keble passed away, but his holy and blessed memory still lingers around Hursley, and bestows on the little village and on the Church an atmosphere which is impossible to describe to those who do not love Keble and the Christian Year. There is still that peculiar sense of peace, of confidence, of hope; it is still a place where one realizes the possibility of lives which may be in no way outwardly remarkable, but which are blessed for evermore.
It is an essentially quiet English village, with the traditions of Church and State strongly impressed on it. The village school, where the old Dame who made the children 'so good' taught, is still there.
Will it really benefit anyone when all that made Hursley what it is has been swept away?
Church-building had become Mr. Yonge's passion. Otterbourne village was no longer near the old church; and he and the clergy set to work to build the present church. Mr. Yonge, his daughter tells us, gave up quite quietly his much-loved expeditions to Devonshire, and both he and his wife denied themselves luxuries in order to have money for the church.
Otterbourne Church is the result of pioneer work. Miss Yonge says:
'It is cross-shaped, but with a chancel purposely shallow, because both [Mr. Keble and Mr. Yonge] felt the impropriety of using it for sittings, and choirs in the country were undreamt of, and altogether it is an effort towards better things.' [Musings on the Christian Year.]
Charlotte had begun to study the Christian Year, and knew that Mr. Keble was a great man when he came into her life, and one can imagine the mingled awe and ecstasy which must have filled the enthusiastic girl's heart when she was allowed to become his pupil and be prepared by him for her Confirmation. Her own account of it is delightful.
She was awed at first, but he was so tender and gentle with her that she lost nervousness and became perfectly happy. Indeed, Mr. Keble's influence and character were, it would seem to us, just what Charlotte needed. The atmosphere of her home was bracing and rather stern, and it had made her loyal and upright and dutiful; but now she encountered loyalty and uprightness, and also that gentleness and sympathy which we find in the real saints, those who most truly reflect our Lord. We are grateful to Mr. Keble for many, many reasons, and the part he had in developing Charlotte Yonge is not the least of these.
He taught her carefully the true value and meaning of Confirmation, and took her through the Catechism, dwelling, she tells us, on what was a favourite thought of his own: that the Jewish nation and all its training, and all that it underwent, are types of God's dealings with each Christian soul.
He also took her through the services of Holy Communion and Holy Baptism as they are set forth in the Prayer Book. William Palmer's Origines Liturgicce had not long been published, and Mr. Keble used this and himself translated from the older liturgies, thus teaching his ardent pupil the true nature of these Sacraments, warning her, she says, at the close of the preparation against' much talk and discussion of Church doctrines,' and against 'loving these things for the sake merely of their beauty and poetry.' Perhaps if Mr. Keble's ways had been more followed, and doctrine and teaching of the need of holiness rather than ceremonial had been the chief points of attention by the leaders of the Catholic Movement, England might have been more truly Catholic and Christian than she is at present. Those days before Newman's secession were full of vigour and of hope, and the true meaning of the Church was grasped by many who had no outward helps at all. But, of course, it had in no way reached the people, and perhaps the Movement needed something more before it could do so. In fact, the people, the vast heathen population of our large towns, will never be reached until Catholics and Evangelical unite, and cease to teach and to preach what is, in fact, only half the Gospel. The truths on which either school insists are all equally valuable, and it is, perhaps, the work of this generation to grasp this truth.
But no training could better have fitted Miss Yonge for the work she was called to do. And we have dwelt a little on her Confirmation teaching, because we see that out of it grew much of her later work of which we shall speak.
A little later on she was allowed to pay a visit to the Kebles, and we can imagine what the peaceful, cultured atmosphere of the Vicarage must have been to her. Mrs. Keble was a perfect wife, full of sympathy and understanding, very gentle, accomplished in the quiet, ladylike manner of those days, and gifted with everyday common sense and ability. She had very frail health, which seems to us to have been extraordinarily usual among the ladies of the early Victorian age.
It was undoubtedly very good for the eager, enthusiastic, and gifted girl to share in the pleasures and interests of Hursley. Her home was a very happy one, but the bustling and undoubtedly narrow-minded grandmother must every now and then have been a trial to her nerves and temper, and Hursley was just the place to send her back, not spoilt or inclined to think herself 'misunderstood,' but braced.
It is one of Miss Yonge's characteristics that she never had undue sympathy with 'misunderstood' children--that is, children who could not 'get on' with decently behaved parents and guardians. She saw the difficulties of these children--as, for instance, her beloved Countess Kate, Elizabeth in the Stokesley Secret, Geraldine in Pillars of the House; but she always taught by inference that Christian people must use their circumstances, not misuse them, and that a child who tried to be loyal to authority and who struggled against temper gained more than it lost. And here some pages of her article in Mothers in Council--'A Real Childhood'--may be inserted:
'I should like to give a few pictures of real childhood. Perhaps if I begin with my own recollections, others may follow, and I will try to be perfectly truthful.
'Perhaps there were unusual circumstances to lead to the complete oneness between my mother and myself, for we lived with my grandmother, who for nearly twenty years took the household cares. Moreover, I was an only daughter, an only child for six years, and the object of much more attention and solicitude than I ever was allowed to know.
'It was an old-fashioned upbringing, with much that would shock sanitarians now--only one nursery, also the maids' workroom and the nurse's sleeping-room (in a press-bed). However, I was generally outside the nursery, though it was a home, and all my meals were taken downstairs, except supper--milk and dry bread, "nice crustesses," as the maid used to say in a tone of congratulation. I have been glad ever since of having been thus taught to enjoy dry bread. The rule was that those who could not eat dry bread were not really hungry--a very good rule. Butter, as a rule, I never had. I remember my indignation when a naughty, good-natured housemaid, in misplaced pity, brought slices with the buttered side turned down to escape the nurse's eye. I don't know that the absence of such nutritious food is an example, but I am sure the prevention of dainty habits was an advantage. However, dining at luncheon-time, the fat trouble never was surmounted, and certain joints recall it to me still. But greediness was treated as despicable. We were rebuked for casting sidelong glances to see what pudding was coming, taught never to meddle with fruit not given to us, and that gathering strawberries was pleasure enough without eating them till the proper time. Sweets we never bought, and, if given, were administered one at a time at bedtime. The denial was never felt as a hardship, and it has certainly been of no small benefit in health and discipline.
'As to the maids sitting with the nurse, I am decidedly of opinion that it was unadvisable. One woman, though really very good-natured, used to put me in a passion for the pleasure of seeing me roll on the floor. The sure way was to incite the nurse to repeat that tragic poem of Jane Taylor's on the melancholy adventures of Poor Puss, which tore my heart. I remember matters unsuitable to "little pitchers'" ears being discussed, and a cousin of mine heard Pamela being read aloud after she was in her crib.
'The above anecdote shows that I was not too good a child, though naughtiness was never tolerated for a moment. I think it was chiefly noisiness, disobedience, slovenly carelessness, and quick temper, with a certain provoking levity, since I have heard a story (though beyond recollection) of having been put in the corner, and there beginning to sing in a high squeak:
'"Begone, dull care '"
'The only flat falsehood of those early days was so seriously treated that it is a pain to me to remember it now. One other, some years later, hung on my conscience so heavily that I voluntarily, with many tears, confessed it, after what now seems a long time. Equivocating was shown to be equally heinous, the occasion of my being so taught being that my father detected me making a sort of accompaniment to the responses in church instead of following' the words. His displeasure at my thus acting a falsehood was not to be forgotten. Perfect truth and honour seem to me to have been the strongest of all my early impressions.
'My father, a Peninsular and Waterloo soldier, was the hero of heroes to both my mother and me. His approbation was throughout life my bliss; his anger, my misery for the time, though my elastic, frivolous spirits so soon recovered that I was thought not to care. No liberty was ever taken -with either parent; the half-saucy, half-petting terms of children to their parents were never dreamt of. My father could be very stern, but also very gentle, and he took great pains with me. The stories he told me and those first books he read to me are still glorified. One needs no glory of association, with Joseph's history; but Bel and the Dragon will always be linked with the scene in the long journey which he beguiled with it. Then the Pilgrims Progress he began when I had the measles, and A laddiris Lamp and the Perambulations of a Mouse alway recall the delight of hearing them from him. Such kindnesses from an intensely respected father dwell with one for ever. 'He taught me to write, after an idea of his own, in large letters in chalk, done without resting the hand, thinking this would conduce to freedom of hand in drawing. He was not always patient at the time with childish carelessness, but he was most persevering, and most warmly fostered all real attempts to do one's best.
'Daily, before breakfast, he read the Bible with us, from Mant's edition. Nor can I remember a time when I did not say prayers, repeat the Catechism every Sunday, and go to church, being taken early that no one might be kept at home. There was teaching of the meaning of these things and of Scripture history, but the manuals of those days were not many nor very helpful. However, a great Dutch Scripture history, with an immense number of prints, impressed Scripture events; and from seven years old my mother took me to the Sunday-school, first to learn, and then to teach, when, however, I was much too young to be put in authority. I was more a conscientious than a religious child. Except a vehement pleasure in the Sunday-school--which was not so much for religion's sake as for the love of teaching--I felt these observances a weariness, though I should have been ashamed to say so, and felt that it was my own fault.
'It was a strict Sunday--two services, two Sunday-schools, books always of a religious cast, (and not too many of them), hymns and Catechism in the evening; but I grew gradually up from the sense of lengthiness to actual enjoyment, at first through the Sunday-school. Lax Sundays would never have had the same effect.
'Intellectually the religious teaching interested me, but my parents were of the old reticent school, reverent and practical, so as to dread the drawing out of feeling and expression, for fear of unreality, and I do not know of much awakening in me to religious warmth, unless it may be impulses of thankfulness for a beautiful day, and an extreme terror of the Last Judgment. Fancying it would only come when nobody was awake, I remember trying to keep off sleep by pulling out the hairs in my mattress. This, however, was only like other terrors that haunted my bedtime, such as wolves in the dark hall, gunpowder plots, and the fate of the Princes in the Tower. These are, I believe, the lot of all imaginative children. My parents were my practical religion and conscience.
'My mother had read and imbibed the Edgeworth books. She was perfectly regular in her teaching, and never gave holidays unless there was a needful occupation, but there were no lessons after one o'clock. She had the old London school education, and was very thorough, but she had the art of making her teaching pleasant with playful observations. At four years old I could read. The discovery that I was capable of reading to myself was too delightful to be forgotten. It was made over a quarto illustrated Robinson Crusoe, beside a print of him contending with the breakers. French in children's stories was easy to me at seven or eight years old; also the order of Kings of England, and their histories in Bishop Davys's little book; nor do I think there was the slightest damage to health or brains from what people now call over-forcing.
'It was a happy, healthy childhood, with much joy in play, running about boisterously in upper rooms and out of doors, delighting in dolls and in live creatures, and in all quiet games, having the best of playfellows in my mother, though her health would not permit her to walk out far with me. She was much afraid of my being vain. Once, on venturing to ask if I was pretty, I was answered that all young animals, young pigs and all, were pretty. It would probably have been wiser to tell me her true opinion, for the question of my beauty was a problem to me all my earlier life. My hair in those days was of a rich chestnut colour, in wavy curls; but it delighted her that I answered a lady who admired it (out of Miss Edgeworth), "You flatter me!"
'There was hardly any companionship with other children, except in an annual visit to a large family of cousins, whose company was perfect felicity, but who were brought up on the same lines, perhaps even more plainly and strictly. These recollections reach to about seven or eight years old.
'The special point experience would lead me to remember is that justice and strong displeasure at wrong-doing, severe criticism on carelessness, and no weak indulgence promoted the most fervent love and honour to my father, and that my mother's perfect loyalty to all his opinions and measures, and her unfailing tenderness, sympathy, and playfulness made a life of happy affection and lasting reverence.
' THE TEENS.
'Looking back, it seems to me that childhood proper ended with me at thirteen. In that year we made a visit to the cousins, which was especially delightful in games and expeditions and other charms, and for five years we did not go again en famille or for a Igng time, and I remember wondering how it would be when we had passed the stage of romping children and had become mannerly young people. I need hardly say that we were as happy as ever and as playful, for change and death had not yet begun to cast their shadows so as to be felt by our joyous young spirits. Even by the time I was thirteen I had begun some of the pursuits that have been a solace to me all my life--those of flowers and of shells.
'Rousseau's six letters on botany, translated by Martyn, and with excellent illustrations, were read with my mother, and introduced me to the wonders of a lily, a stock, and a daisy. A f oi'mer generation had been botanical, and had subscribed for Curtis's Flora Londinensis and his Botanical Magazine. The hand - coloured plates are infinitely better than modern chromo-lithographs, though we may be very grateful for these. Though the continuations by Martyn and Priscilla Wakefield had not the touch of genius that made Rousseau charming, still, on the Linnaean system, I knew well all our wood and river flowers in a way that does not seem to occur to the girls who are supposed to learn scientifically botany in classes--of maidens, I mean, not plants. It is the fashion to laugh at what used to be called a hortus siccus, and certainly the poor plants do become melancholy mummies; but it really offers the only mode of being sure of one's discoveries, and, moreover, is a most innocent means of gratifying the instinct of collecting without sacrifice of animal life, and without needing much space or being liable to be discarded on removals. Botany gives spirit and object to our walks, and opens new fields of interest in every new place. It has been one of my greatest pleasures.
'So have shells. An old gentleman of ninety, noted as a naturalist in his day--Dr. Latham, author of a book on ornithology, exhaustive in its time--lent me Wood's Catalogue of Shells, coloured, and very expensive, and to obtain the same was one of those ambitions the accomplishment of which verified that everything comes to one who waits. Conchology is not a pursuit quite so desirable as botany, for shells require space, and are inconvenient in changes of residence. Besides that, beyond the British species, the collecting them, except under special circumstances, is expensive; but, on the other hand, their beauty is imperishable. My taste was encouraged because it was a sort of inheritance from my father's favourite sister, and my shells were keepsakes, or old treasures from chimney-pieces, or purchases with my own pocket-money, or brought home by a naval relation, and all have a special value and history. My parents shared the pursuit with me, and fostered it by sympathy, but did not stifle it, as people often do, by overdoing encouragement. Many of my treasures still bear the labels my mother wrote for them half a century ago, before my handwriting was neat enough.
'Daily life went on much as when I was younger. There was early rising at six, or soon after, to work at arithmetic and Latin with my father, going on to Euclid. We got as far as the first six books, and then went back again. I had to draw the diagrams with the utmost neatness and precision, and then to write out the proposition from memory in a book without blot or erasure, which I still possess. My father was one of the most accurate of beings, I one of the most slovenly, and my entire life and doings have been a struggle between my conscience, trained to accuracy, and my inclination to slurring my work. How much worse I should have been without the drilling I went through I cannot guess; but I was never disheartened, his approbation was so delightful, and such an object to look forward to.
'Breakfast, feeding of chickens, cats, and other animals, then studies--French or Italian exercises, Latin ones to prepare, geography, grammar of one or other of the languages, or else work with the French master, who by-and-by taught me Spanish. Then came historical reading in English or French, and drawing, My mother had been taught by a London master--and drew very well in the old style--exact and minute copying of line engravings, and also of water-coloured drawings of figures, and this she taught so that I could draw about as well as she, perhaps less neatly, but more boldly. There were no schools of art, no good masters within reach, or I think I had talent in that line enough to have gone farther. My father had a real love and appreciation of art, delighted in fine pictures, and accumulated exquisite books of prints and engravings. These were my extreme delight as far back as I can remember, and a visit to a gallery or print-shop with him was a memorable pleasure. He took great interest in my drawings, but criticized every defective outline and quizzed failures. I once set to work to copy the likenesses of all the "true knights" to be collected, some of whom remain to this day in portfolios. Montrose, elaborately copied in pencil from Lodge's portraits, but too roughly shaded, was received with, "What! has he been scraped with a small-toothed comb?" Laughter took out the sting, and there was always hope of approval. My mother and I went through many a tough volume while one read and the other drew or worked.
'The actual' studies ended with luncheon, and then came the time spent out of doors. My mother could not take long walks, and to go far beyond the garden with my father, or even with a maid, was always something of a treat; but there were endless occupations out of doors, except on the damp days, when three times round the gravel walk which bounded what grandmamma called the premises was reckoned as equivalent to a mile, and made my required exercise, enlivened by many a fancy. There was not cottage-visiting, save within my mother's short tether, or when sent under escort on a definite message. I was a great chatterbox, and my parents had seen evil consequences from carelessness about young people's intercourse, so that all gossip and familiarity with servants, as a rule, and poor people, was decidedly checked. I have often wondered how far this was for the best.
'The elder villagers were much less cultivated than in these days, and would probably have been unconsciously much more coarse, and my tongue would certainly have run away with me, and have been mischievous in every way; yet, on the other hand, the shyness of other classes that was engendered has never left me; and though I have been working for my village neighbours all my life, I have never been able to converse with them with any freedom, nor so as to establish mutual confidence, even where there is certainly mutual esteem and affection, and this has become a serious drawback to helpfulness, though old use and loyalty diminishes the evil effect among the native inhabitants.
'After the daily constitutional, there were divers delights and pursuits besides the pleasure of reading the twenty pages of history (Goldsmith's Rome), and then one chapter of Scott, and no limitation to the varieties of chosen story-books or the books of travels. Franklin's Voyages, and an abridgment of Waterton, with a charming picture of his ride on the crocodile, stand out in memory among those. I was also free for Bowdler's Shakespeare and Potter's translations of the Greek tragedies.
'I was early promoted to what was then considered as late dinner, at half-past five or six, with a long evening afterwards, spent in reading aloud, needlework, sometimes in games, chess, backgammon, or even "twenty questions," which, be it observed, is a very useful diversion when rationally conducted, so that it is not held fair to guess too soon or without real grounds. It is the way to learn common things, such as what glass is made of, and the like, for it causes the reflecting on what things are "animal substances," "vegetable substances," or "mineral substances," "compound or simple," and a person who was used to the exercise would never maintain that salt fish came ready salted out of the sea.
'Sometimes my Latin construing had to be relegated to the evening, but not as a rule, for it made my grandmother unhappy. I think that here a story of those days must be pardoned, as illustrating both faults and conscientiousness.
'Tea used to come in at eight o'clock, and at the critical moment of an interesting employment grandmamma bade me go and call my father. I rose unwillingly, giving what my mother called my black look and used to say was like Cain. She reproved me sharply, for she had a horror of any disrespect to her mother. Immediately after, on going into the dining-room, my father presented me with two beautifully bound volumes of Mrs. Jameson's Female Characters of Shakespeare as a reward for diligence and good conduct.
'I burst into tears, and sobbed out that I did not deserve the book, as I had just been very naughty to grandmamma.
'He said it should wait for another time, and so it did, till I was recovering from a feverish attack in the winter, and was said to have shown much patience and good humour.
'My faults were, so far as can be remembered, a strange mixture of indolent carelessness with vehement eagerness, and the temper which was evoked by rebukes, either for omissions and imperfect work and untidiness, or else for boisterousness and noisiness, and losing all self-control in excitement.
'A boy cousin declared that I reminded him of the description in Quentin Durward of Charles the Bold, whose laugh was a diabolical grimace. When we met again long after I had learned to laugh without making horrid faces, he apologized for what, probably, had been a useful, if rather strong, hint. Such observations, if amusing, never hurt my temper. It was not of that kind. But reproof for idleness did make me very cross for a time, and there were also moods, connected, perhaps, with health, when nothing seemed to go right or be enjoyable. Nor does it seem to me that I was vain. I never knew whether I was good-looking, though I tried to find out, and, having little or no rosy colour, I did not admire myself. As to cleverness, I seriously wondered at one time whether I was an idiot, knowing that no one would tell me if I was so, and when one evening, something of this wonderful notion having betrayed itself, my mother told me that, on the contrary, if I took pains, I might be a superior person, she said afterwards that elation and excitement made me disagreeable from high spirits all the rest of the evening, when someone was dining with us.'