IN the early spring of 1866 Mr. Keble died, and his wife followed him in forty days.
To Miss Yonge this must have been one of the great sorrows of her life, but in all she says of it there is the note of thankfulness.
'It was the one bright, beautiful day of a cold, wet spring, and the celandines spread and glistened like stars round the grave where we laid him, and bade him our last "God be with you" with the 23rd Psalm, and went home, hoping that he would not blame us for irreverence for thinking of him in words applied to the first saint who bore his name: "He was a burning and a shining light, and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.'"
It is hardly possible to dwell too much on what the blank in her life must have been. Her mother's health also began to fail, and these must have been sad years. Mrs. Yonge died in 1868, and Charlotte was alone; the widowhood of the unmarried woman, of which she speaks in Hopes and Fears, came on her, but she was brave and unselfish, and began her work again.
To this period belong her three chief historical stories--The Dove in the Eagle's Nest, The Chaplet of Pearls, The Caged Lion. The first of these is on a very high level indeed, and the Chaplet hardly less so. The story of the burgher maiden, Christina Sorel, carried off by her father, who was in the pay of a lawless German Baron, to tend the sickly little daughter of the Baron, is a lovely idyll. Christina has been brought up by her uncle, a wealthy citizen and skilled carver of Ulm, and she is refined and cultivated to an uncommon degree. She appears among the rough inhabitants of the castle as something beyond their ken, and she manages to bring the poor little sickly maiden to grasp the meaning of the simple truths Christina taught her.
Christina fancied that when the snow melted, Ermentrude's soul would pass away. And so it came to pass. The young Baron is prevailed on to fetch a priest, for, as the elder Baron has been excommunicated, a priest is seldom seen in the castle.
'On the white masses of vapour that floated on the opposite side of the mountain was traced a gigantic shadowy outline of a hermit, with head bent eagerly forward and arm outstretched.
'The monk crossed himself. Eberhard stood still for a moment, and then said hoarsely: "The Blessed Friedmund! He is come for her "; then strode on towards the postern gate, followed by Brother Norbert, a good deal reassured.'
But Christina is loved by the young Baron, and in time he wins her to be his wife. He is supposed to have been killed in a skirmish, and Christina is left with twin boys and the Baron's fierce old mother, who dies in a few years. The story of the upbringing of the boys, of their visit to Ulm, of the hero of romance, Maximilian, and, finally, of the death of Friedel, the younger twin, in a skirmish, is perfect. Friedel comes to give water to the foe of their household, Schlangenwald, and the Count tells him that his father is a Turkish slave, and shoots Friedel. Ebbo, the elder boy, is left, and suddenly his father returns. He had been really taken prisoner by the hereditary foe, and sold to the Turks. After many adventures he had been ransomed, and returned to find his one surviving son a gallant knight, in the service and obedience of the Emperor, no longer the marauding Baron he himself had been. He refuses to resume his former state, asking only for a quiet corner in which to 'save his soul.' 'It was plain that Sir Eberhard had learnt more Christianity in the hold of his Moorish pirate-ship than ever in the Holy Roman Empire'--long ago he had vowed never to return to a life of violence--and the story ends with an epilogue, showing us Ebbo in his later life. Miss Yonge could not resist making him embrace, to some extent, the reformed doctrine, and thereby fall into disgrace with Charles V. It is a beautiful book, to which this short account does no justice. The story of the twin brothers and their love, and of Friedel's death, is of all her stories the most touched with poetic grace. When the foe of their house has fallen and Friedel is mortally wounded, Ebbo only severely hurt, the brothers must needs be separated.
'This sentence brought the first cloud of grief or dread to Friedel's brow, but only for a moment. He looked at his brother, who had again fainted at the first touch of his wounded limb, and said: "It is well. Tell the dear Ebbo that I cannot help it if, after all, I go to the praying and leave him the fighting. Dear, dear Ebbo! One day together again and for ever! I leave thee for thine own sake." With much effort he signed the cross again on his brother's brow, and kissed it long and fervently. Then, as all stood round, reluctant to effect this severance, or disturb one on whom death was visibly fast approaching, he struggled up on his elbow, and held out the other hand, saying: "Take me now, Heinz, ere Ebbo revive to be grieved. The last sacrifice," he further whispered, whilst almost giving himself to Heinz and Moritz to be carried to his own bed in the turret chamber.
'There, even as they laid him down, began what seemed to be the mortal agony, and, though he was scarcely sensible, his mother felt that her prime call was to him, while his brother was in other hands. Perhaps it was well for her. Surgical practice was rough, and wounds made by firearms were thought to have imbibed a poison that made treatment to be supposed efficacious in proportion to the pain inflicted. When Ebbo was recalled by the torture to see no white reflection of his own face on the pillow beside him, and to feel in vain for the grasp of the cold, damp hand, a delirious frenzy seized him, and his struggles were frustrating the doctor's attempts, when a low, soft, sweet song stole through the open door.
'"Friedel!" he murmured, and held his breath to listen. All through the declining day did the gentle sound continue--now of grand chants or hymns caught from the cathedral choir, now of songs of chivalry or saintly legend so often sung over the evening fire, the one flowing into the other in the wandering of failing powers, but never failing in the tender sweetness that had distinguished Friedel through life. And whenever that voice was heard, let them do to him what they would, Ebbo was still absorbed in intense listening so as not to lose a note, and lulled almost out of sense of suffering by that swan-like music. If his attendants made such noise as to break in on it, or if it ceased for a moment, the anguish returned, but was charmed away by the weakest, faintest resumption of the song. Probably Friedel knew not, with any earthly sense, what he was doing, but to the very last he was serving his twin brother as none other could have aided him in his need.
'The September sun had set, twilight was coming on, the doctor had worked his stern will, and Ebbo, quivering in every fibre, lay spent on his pillow, when his mother glided in and took her seat near him, though where she hoped he would not notice her presence. But he raised his eyelids, and said, "He is not singing now."
'"Singing indeed, but where we cannot hear him," she answered. "'Whiter than the snow, clearer than the ice-cave, more solemn than the choir. They will come at last.' That was what he said, even as he entered there." And the low dove-like tone and tender calm face continued upon Ebbo the spell that the chant had left. He dozed as though still lulled by its echo.'
This is one story which surely need never grow old-fashioned.
The Chaplet of Pearls is hardly less excellent. In it we are given a romantic story which is laid in the period of the St. Bartholomew massacre. The present writer well remembers Dr. Bright, the eminent Professor of Ecclesiastical History in the University of Oxford, pointing out the great literary merit of the account of the dying hours of Charles IX. We will quote it:
'The surgeon said, "You have seen a sad sight, Monsieur le Baron: I need not bid you to be discreet."
'"There are some things that go too deep for speech," sighed the almost English Berenger; then, after a pause, "Is there no hope for him? Is he indeed dying?"
'" Without a miracle, he cannot live a month. He is as truly slain by the St. Bartholomew as ever its martyrs were," said Pare", moved out of his usual cautious reserve towards one who had seen so much and felt so truly. "I tell you, sir, that his mother hath as truly slain her sons, as if she had sent Rene there to them with his drugs. According as they have consciences and hearts, so they pine and perish under her rule."
'Berenger shuddered, and almost sobbed. "And hath he no better hope, no comforter?" he asked.
'"None save good old Flipote. As you heard, the Queen-mother will not suffer his own Church to speak to him in her true voice. No confessor but one chosen by the Cardinal of Lorraine may come near him, and with him all is mere ceremony. But if at the last he opens his ear and heart to take in the true hope of salvation, it will be from the voice of poor old Philippine."
'And so it was! It was Philippine who heard him in the night sobbing over the piteous words, "My God, what horrors, what blood!" and, as she took from him his tear-drenched handkerchief, spoke to him of the Blood that speaketh better things than the blood of Abel; and it was she who, in his final agony, heard and treasured these last words, "If the Lord Jesus will indeed receive me into the company of the blest!" Surely, never was repentance deeper than that of Charles IX., and these, his parting words, were such as to inspire the trust that it was not remorse.'
Miss Yonge in this book grasped the spirit to some extent, at any rate, of this period. We do recognize Charles IX. and Catherine de' Medici and the great Henry, and the portrait of the old Huguenot minister, who proved such a father in need to the hapless heroine. The description of the Court of the Duchesse de Quinet, with all its Huguenot stiffness and real goodness, is very good indeed.
The Caged Lion, a story of James I. of Scotland, introduces us to Henry ~V. of England, and gives us a vivid picture of the King and of his brother Bedford, of the illness of Henry, of the Flemish Court. There is a saintly heroine, and another weak hero, Malcolm, who grows to be a saint. It is an interesting story, and sheds light on several not very familiar bits of history. Malcolm after James I.'s murder goes to Jerusalem. He returns to die, and is tended on his death-bed by his first and only love, Esclairmonde, now a holy nun.
'"Sister," he said, "the morn that I had offered my ring, I was feeble and faint; and when I knelt on before the altar in continued prayer--I know not whether I slept or whether it were a vision, but it was to me as though I were again on the river, and again the hymn of Bernard of Morlaix was sung around and above me by the voice I never thought to hear again. I looked up, and behold it was I that was in the boat--my King was there no more. Nay, he stood on the shore, and his eyes beamed on me; while the ghastly wounds that I once strove in anguish to staunch shone out like a ruby cross on his breast--the hands, that were so sorely gashed, were to me as though marked by the impress of the Sacred Wounds. He spake not; but by his side stood King Henry, beautiful and spirit-like, and smiled on me, and seemed as though he pointed to the wounds as he said,' Blessed is the King who died by his people's hand, for withstanding his people's sin! Blessed is every faint image of the true King!'
'"Then methought they held out their arms to me, and I would have come to them on their shore of rest, but the river bore me away--and I looked up, to find I was as yet only in the earthly Jerusalem; but I watch for them every hour, to call me once and for ever."'
These are the three most important historical stories. Perhaps the critic will say Miss Yonge has idealized everything too much, but nevertheless there is a true ring about them. We do seem to see the places and people she describes, and, daring as it will seem to be to make such a statement, The Chaplet of Pearls is not an unworthy companion to Mr. Benson's By What Authority? and might recall what that delightful book ignores, the St. Bartholomew and the general state of religion in France.
To The Chaplet of Pearls Miss Yonge wrote in later years a sequel which first appeared in the Monthly Packet--Stray Pearls. It is not nearly so interesting as the Chaplet, but has capital descriptions of the Fronde, of French society at that period, and of the misery of the French peasant.
A final sequel, The Release, which dealt with the French Revolution, was not nearly so good, and does not seem to us to have caught the spirit of the time. It was one of Miss Yonge's last and least able books.
Miss Yonge worked a good deal at history. She was always writing the 'Cameos' for the Packet , and some years before this she had written one of her most delightful little books, which should not be allowed to pass into the heap of forgotten things, A Book of Golden Deeds. She says:
'It is rather intended as a treasury for young people, where they may find minuter particulars than their abridged histories usually afford of the soul-stirring deeds that give life and glory to the record of events, and where, also, other like actions, out of their ordinary course of reading, may be placed before them, in the trust that example may inspire the spirit of heroism and self-devotion. For surely it must be a wholesome contemplation to look on actions the very essence of which is such entire absorption in others that self is not so much renounced as forgotten; the object of which is not to win promotion, wealth, or success, but simple duty, mercy, and loving-kindness. These are the actions wrought, "hoping for nothing again," but which must surely have their reward.
'At some risk of prolixity, enough of the surrounding events have in general been given to make the situation comprehensible, even without knowledge of the general history. This has been done in the hope that these extracts may serve as a mother's storehouse for reading aloud to her boys, or that they may be found useful for short readings to the intelligent, though uneducated, classes.'
We cannot even among the store of new books with lovely illustrations find a better book than this, and there is so much in it which is quite unfamiliar.
Another excellent book is the one called A Book of Worthies. In it she tells the story of thirteen great champions, beginning with Joshua and ending with Julius Caesar.
'In old times,' she says in her preface, 'when brave men had little time to read, and fewer books, they still kept clusters of glorious examples gathered from all times to light them on the way to deeds of virtue.
'Such were the Seven Champions of Christendom; the Dozipairs, or Twelve Peers of France; the Seven Wise Masters; and, above all, the Nine Worthies. These nine were, three from Israel, namely, Joshua, David, and Judas Maccabeus; three from Heathenesse, to wit, Hector, Alexander, and Julius Caesar; and three from Christendom, Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey de Bouillon.'
Miss Yonge points out that our judgment of what constitutes worthies may differ a little from the old compiler of the first nine, but 'he has selected the noblest instances he knew of great, good, and true men and "happy warriors," and, so far as we may, we follow his guidance in our choice.'
The History of Christian Names is a book which strikes one with awe. It is full of information, and represents an extraordinary amount of work. Very likely it abounds in errors, for philology has had many new lights shed on it since her day; but it also abounds in curious, out-of-the-way facts. Here is one:
' It is a more curious fact . . . that Hannibal has always been a favourite [name] with the peasantry of Cornwall. From the first dawn of parish registers Hannyball is of constant occurrence, much too early even in that intelligent county to be a mere gleaning from books; and the West Country surname of Honeyball must surely be from the same source. A few other Eastern names, though none as frequent or as clearly traced as the present, have remained in use in this remote county, and ought to be allowed due weight in favour of the supposed influence of the Phoenician traders over the races that supplied them with tin and lead.'
Or take this account of Richard (the name):
'Richard, or Richardet, was one of the Quatre Fils d'Agmon, who, according to one version, was the person who gave the fatal blow with the chess-board instead of Renaud. [Renaud was the hero of an old French romance called Les Quatre Fils Aimon. He was insulted while playing at chess, and replied by dashing out his enemy's brains with the board.] He is not a very interesting personage, being rather the attendant knight than the prime hero; the rescued, not the rescuer; but under his Italian name of Ricciardetto he has a whole poem to himself written by a secretary of the Propaganda. ... It was not to this Paladin that its name owed its frequency, but to Richard, or stern King, an Anglo-Saxon monarch of Kent, who left his throne to become a monk of Lucca, and was there said to have wrought miracles.'
These quotations will give some notion of the wealth of stories contained in the two volumes of The History of Christian Names.
Miss Yonge wrote a great number of short stories, and one, New Ground, deals with the adventures of a clergyman and his family in Kaffirland somewhere in the sixties. There are very clever sketches of character in this tiny book. There is the quiet, devoted girl, ready to go or stay, as seems best, and who goes, and lays down her life for the work's sake; and there is a sentimental girl, full of talk, and aspirations, and eagerness, who breaks down utterly, while a rather dull sister, who hates leaving home, develops into one of the best of workers. We wonder if this story is still sometimes read at Mission working-parties. It certainly would be very wholesome reading, especially the account of the breakdown of the girl who wanted to teach natives, and who grumbled that it did not seem worth while to have come out just to do housemaid's work and teach tiresome white children not half so nice as she could find in the village school at home . . . and as for the natives . . . 'it is a mere delusion to think that their coming all greasy and horrid into our huts to paw everything and say "wow" is teaching them to be Christians. Not that I am complaining,' etc.
Foreign Mission work was very much in Miss Yonge's mind at that time, for in 1871 appeared Pioneers and Founders, a book of studies of the lives of some missionaries. Before this she had written The Pupils of St. John the Divine. Neither of these books should be forgotten, for there is really no successor to either, and the ignorance of Church-people about the successors of the Apostles and about the Mission work of the Church is often most profound. These books were leading up to her chief contribution to Mission literature, the Life of John Coleridge Patteson.
This is a fascinating biography. Many of us well remember the two large volumes, which was the first form in which it appeared, and realize how they made us, for the first time, know something of the reality of the Divine call to the Church, something of the extraordinary romance and beauty of true self-devotion.
'It was embalming a saint of the Church,' she said; and truly no more true and loyal son of the Church has ever gone forth to the Mission work than Bishop Patteson.
Indeed, those who read the book will say she has been allowed to do what she hoped--
'to succeed in my earnest hope and endeavour to bring the statue out of the block, and, as it were, to carve the figure of the saint for his niche among those who have given themselves soul and body to God's work.'
Miss Yonge opens her book with a particularly fresh and interesting account of Mr. Justice Patteson, the Bishop's father, and of the habits and customs of legal circles in the early years of the nineteenth century. Both Mr. Justice Patteson and his wife, who was the sister of Sir John Taylor Coleridge, were very remarkable people.
Coleridge Patteson's boyhood, especially the Eton period, is delightfully described. Excepting one or two of the great biographies, we can hardly call to mind any life which deals so pleasantly with the story of the man's boyhood. Miss Yonge knew her Eton and her Oxford, and as, fortunately, Patteson's letters had been kept, the picture is very complete.
It is wonderful to read of the purpose of self-dedication, kindled apparently by two sermons--one preached by Archdeacon (afterwards Bishop) Wilber-force, and one by the recently-consecrated Bishop Selwyn. That purpose was never forgotten, and the boy's tutor, Mr. Edward Coleridge, was full of interest in missions. And Miss Yonge tells us how Bishop Selwyn, who was a friend of the Patteson family, half seriously, half playfully, asked: 'Lady Patteson, will you give me Coley?' The boy confided to his mother that he wished to go with the Bishop, and his mother replied that if he kept that wish she would consent.
His mother's death in 1842 made a very deep impression on Coleridge Patteson, and, as his biographer says, 'everything sank deeply.' He certainly was most fortunate in his father, whose letter to him on his failure to attain a place in the Select at the examination for the Newcastle Scholarship shows an ideal relationship between father and son. Sir John Taylor Coleridge said of Judge Patteson that he was a man of singularly strong common sense, and this letter shows it. He is so reasonable about his disappointment. The whole picture of Eton life .is very interesting, including a description of Windsor Fair. Then came days at Balliol, and mention of various friends whose names became well known in after-years. Edwin Palmer, afterwards Archdeacon of Oxford, and his brother-in-law, Mr. James Riddell, so early lost to Oxford and to Balliol, were of these.
Patteson was an enthusiastic cricketer, and Miss Yonge tells a story of a Professional coming to him in Melbourne years after he had left Oxford, and begging him to give him a meeting at 5 a.m., and let the Professional bowl him a few balls!
The account of Patteson's Oxford life is as good as that of Eton. There is a sketch of 'Coley as an Undergraduate' by Principal Shairp, which speaks of Patteson as
'the representative of the very best kind of Etonian . . . those pleasant manners and that perfect ease in dealing with men and the world which are the inheritance of Eton, without the least tincture of worldliness.'
It is difficult not to linger over these charming pages describing Patteson as a layman; amongst other matters, the story of his father's resignation of his post as Judge on account of deafness, and the high-minded and simple way in which his resignation was carried out. Miss Yonge might well say that the Judge 'had done that which is, perhaps, the best thing that it is permitted to man to do here below--namely, "served God in his generation."'
Patteson was elected a Fellow of Merton in 1852, [He retained his Fellowship until his death] and devoted some time to the study of Hebrew and Arabic in Dresden. We wish Miss Yonge had told us who was the famous theologian to whom Mr. Arthur Coleridge, who was Patteson's companion, refers in a letter. It is wonderful to read of Patteson's taste for, and acquirements in, the study of languages, of philology, and to see how very soon he relinquished all intellectual delights.
In 1853 he was ordained to the curacy at Alfington, a hamlet of Ottery St. Mary, where a church had been built by Sir John Taylor Coleridge.
These chapters which tell us of Patteson's dia-conate--his early ministry--are still very well worth reading. He pours himself out to his father about all his difficulties and perplexities. He had a peculiarly happy time, and his sister writes: 'The impression he has made is really extraordinary.'
And then comes the story of the sacrifice. And, again, this should never be forgotten, for it gives the picture of an ideal parental surrender. Bishop Selwyn came to stay at the Judge's house, Feniton Court, in 1854, and after a talk with him Coley went to his sister and told her that the Bishop knew of his wish.
'"You ought to put it to my father, that he may decide it," she answered. "He is so great a man that he ought not to be deprived of the crown of Sacrifice if he be willing to make it."'
'The crown of Sacrifice.' How few of us could speak in this way about the giving up of a brother!
'So Coley repaired to his father and confessed his long-cherished wish, and how it had come forth to the Bishop. Sir John was manifestly startled, but at once said: "You have done quite right to speak to me, and not to wait. It is my first impulse to say No, but that would be very selfish."
'Coley explained that he was "driven to speak"; he declared himself not dissatisfied with his present position, nor, he hoped, impatient. If his staying at home were decided upon, he would cheerfully work on there without disappointment or imagining his wishes thwarted. He would leave the decision entirely in the hands of his father and the Bishop.
'Luncheon brought the whole family together, and Sir John, making room for his younger daughter beside him, said: "Fan, did you know this about Coley?"
'She answered that she had some idea, but no more could pass till the meal was ended, when her father went into another room, and she followed him. The great grief broke out in the exclamation, "I can't let him go "; but even as the words were uttered they were caught back, as it were, with "God forbid I should stop him!"
'The subject could not be pursued, for the Bishop was public property among the friends and neighbours, and the rest of the day was bestowed upon them. He preached on the Sunday at Alfington, where the people thronged to hear him, little thinking of the consequences of his visit.
'Not till afterwards were the Bishop and the father alone together, when Sir John brought the subject forward. The Bishop has since said that what struck him most was the calm balancing of arguments, like a true Christian Judge. Sir John spoke of the great comfort he had in this son, cut off as he was by his infirmity from so much of society, and enjoying the young man's coming in to talk about his work. He dwelt on all with entire absence of excitement, and added: "But there, what right have I to stand in his way? How do I know that I may live another year?"
'And as the conversation ended, "Mind!" he said, "I give him wholly, not with any thought of seeing him again. I will not have him thinking he must come home again to see me."
'That resolution was the cause of much peace of mind to both father and son.
'After family prayers that Sunday night, when all the rest had gone upstairs, the Bishop detained the young man, and told him the result of the conversation, then added; "Now, my dear Coley, having ascertained your own state of mind, and having spoken at length to your father and your family, I can no longer hesitate, as far as you recognize any power to call on my part, to invite you most distinctly to the work."
'The reply was full acceptance.
'Then, taking his hand, the Bishop said: "God bless you, my dear Coley! It is a great comfort to me to have you for a friend and companion,"
'Such was the outward and such the inward vocation to the deacon now within a month of the priesthood. Was it not an evident call from Him by whom the whole Church is governed and sanctified? And surely the noble old man, who forced himself not to withhold "his son, his firstborn son," received his crown from Him who said: "With blessing I will bless thee."'
We have lingered over these early pages of the biography, for, as we have said, they are so wonderfully fresh, and give so delightful a description of Patteson's youth and of his family; the story of his work is full of interest, and he still pours himself out to his beloved father, who lived to hear of him as admitted to the order of Bishops. The Judge died in 1861. Some time before his death he knew that his days were numbered, and his letters to his son and to Bishop Selwyn are just the letters we should have expected--brave and pious, and full of faith and joyful hope.
'His works do follow him,' writes Miss Yonge, and she goes on: 'We turn to that work of his son's in which assuredly he had his part, since one word of his would have turned aside the course that had brought such blessing on both, had he not accepted the summons, even as Zebedee, when he was left by the lake-side, while his sons became fishers of men.'
Miss Yonge writes to Miss F. Patteson:
'July 7, 1861.
MY DEAR FANNY,
'I thought it might be more comfortable to you not to hear from me till the great stress of letters was over at first, and so that I would wait to write till I could send the precious letters [Bishop Patteson's]. We took our turn the last, and so read them upon Friday, the very day one would have chosen above all others for it, the girding to the battle in that calm and self-devoted spirit seemed to chime in so perfectly with the resting from the labours. One in spirit as they always were, how much closer they may be together now! And now your Sunday is passing fast away, and that return to daily life is coming that seems hardest of all when the external calm is over, and one seems no longer lifted into that higher and more real region, but beginning to find what the world is without the arm one has leant on so long.
'It is strange how the recurrence of scene or place brings this back as fresh as ever when one thinks one is used to it: the pang of not looking for the white head [of her father] in the stalls of the Cathedral was one of the first, and it was almost as overcoming to see the field-paths where we used to walk between churches on Sunday . . . and the not having him to meet me at the end of a journey; only that brought the thought, Would that face meet me in the real home when the journey is over? It is the first vexation and worry, the first loss, that is, after all, what comforts one most--when it is what would have been doubly felt for them, and one knows they are shielded and only gain by it.
'After your last note to me, I was sure your first feelings must be of the relief that the hard and long way to the grave was over, and rest had so gently begun, and this must be the abiding sense, even though the sore, sore missing must come, till the grief turns with time to solemn pleasure.
'After all, but for those beautiful letters, it is such a separation as that from your brother, and with no anxiety and suspense. Those letters do go home to one's heart; as Mrs. Keble said, one can hardly part from them; there is something in the depth and simplicity of your brother's that ought to do one great good, and fills one with more reverence than I can say.
'His own feelings seem to me to absorb all the rest, and to be much the most precious part; but there certainly ought to be a description of the outward things put forth, and this could, I should think, be easily compiled from his and Mrs. Abraham's letters. I have done as you told me, and have put the bound Daisy Chain into Mrs. Biss' case [for New Zealand]. . . .
'You will be feeling the whole sorrow freshly both in thinking of the arrival of the letters in N. Zealand, and in watching for the answers; but I have hoped from the first that the tidings of the first alarm and then of the end would not be far apart, and that there would be no dreary watching for mails coming in. And, oh, what a comfort the talk to Mrs. Selwyn will be! Mrs. Keble wrote to her, but she could not come then, but hopes to manage it.'
One longs to quote Bishop Patteson's admirable letter to his tutor--on p. 341, vol. i.--Mr. Edward Coleridge, but those who already know Bishop Patteson's Life will remember it, and those who do not had better read it at once. Some sentences we must quote. He is speaking of his longing for men and what sort of men he needs--men of industry, men of religious common sense--and he says:
'Then, again, unless a man can dispense with what we ordinarily call comfort or luxuries to a great extent, and knock about anywhere in Melanesian huts, he can hardly do much work in this mission. The climate is so warm that, to my mind, it quite supplies the place of the houses, clothing, and food of old days, yet a man cannot accommodate himself to it all at once. I don't say that it came naturally to me five years ago, as it does now, when I feel at home anywhere, and cease to think it odd to do things which, I suppose, you would think very extraordinary indeed.
'But most of all--for this makes all easy--men are wanted who really do desire in their hearts to live for God and the world to come, and who have really sought to sit very loosely to this world. The enjoyment, and the happiness, and the peace all come, and that abundantly; but there is a condition, and the first rub is a hard one, and lasts a good while.
'Naturally buoyant spirits, the gift of a merry heart, are a great help; for oftentimes a man may have to spend months without any white man within hundreds of miles, and it is very depressing to live alone in the midst of heathenism. But there must be many, many fellows pulling up to Surley to-night who may be well able to pull together with one on the Pacific--young fellows whose enthusiasm is not mere excitement of animal spirits, and whose pluck and courage are given them to stand the roughnesses (such as they are) of a missionary life. For, dear Uncle, if you ever talk to any old pupil of yours about the work, don't let him suppose that it is consistent with ease and absence of anxiety and work. When on shore at Kohimarama, we live very cosily, as I think. Some might say we have no society, very simple fare, etc.; I don't think any man would really find it so. But in the islands, I don't wish to conceal from anyone that, measured by the rule of the English gentleman's household, there is a great difference. Why should it, however, be measured by this standard? I can truly say that we have hitherto always had what is necessary for health, and what does one need more? though I like more as much as anyone.'
Is this not just what we want to say to Etonians and other English boys nowadays?
There is one point in Bishop Patteson's career which is very remarkable. He left England in 1854, and he laid down his life in 1871. Never once did he return to his home and the sisters and brother he loved so well. Of course, since then voyages even to New Zealand and Melanesia are much less formidable affairs than they were in his time, but, still, it was very wonderful that he never gave himself the exceeding joy of going home.
Bishop Patteson's correspondents were exceedingly interesting people, and Miss Yonge's selection of letters is marked with great judgment. There are letters to Mr. Keble and Dr. Moberly, as well as to his own large circle of relations, including Miss Yonge herself.
They reveal the character of the writer, and make us understand why he was so much loved. He had considerable mental powers, as we have seen, but far beyond all these were his extraordinary unselfishness and powers of loving and hunger for souls. The Eton and Oxford man, the English gentleman, was indeed the follower of the 'Pastor Pastorum,' and few people can, we think, read his letters about his 'boys' without a pang of shame that Christian brotherhood has been realized as yet so little by Christians.
The story of his death is well known, and need not be repeated. Miss Yonge's simple narrative is worthy of the subject. May her book inspire not a few Etonians and Oxford men and Englishmen to follow in the steps of one of whom one of his own converts wrote: 'He did not despise anyone, nor reject anyone with scorn. Whether it were a white or a black person, he thought them all as one, and he loved them all alike.' As his biographer says, 'He loved them all alike.' 'That was the secret of John Coleridge Patteson's history and his labours. Need more be said of him? Surely the simple islander's summary of his character is the honour he would prefer?'