MISS ELIZABETH WORDSWORTH came to stay with Miss Yonge some time in the seventies, and one can only wish the elder author had seen a great deal more of the much-loved Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, to whom we may apply what was said of someone else, 'To love her is a liberal education.' Miss Wordsworth has generously given an account of her visit, which can be quoted here:
'Well, dear . . . here I am at last, and seize the opportunity of my hostess being gone out to do a little school-teaching, to write to you.
'I had a lovely and enjoyable journey, and had the pleasure of seeing a brougham with Miss Yonge inside it drive up just at the moment our train was stopping. She and the coachman actually contrived to take me and all my luggage, and we had a pleasant drive through a country of budding oak-thickets and banks of wild-flowers, and just in front of us a beautiful rainbow very low down in the sky. I cannot describe the exquisite, soft, half-rainy, half-sunny colouring. All this time I felt extremely shy, though, of course, we both of us talked hard as shy people are apt to do, and I confess my feeling was, "What shall I do if she goes on in that voice for the next three or four days?" One felt inclined to speak like a hospital nurse oneself. Afterwards we made an expedition (rather under difficulties) into the garden to try and hear the nightingales; but it was a very rainy afternoon, and we took refuge in the drawing-room--a long, low room, lined with books and with a few nice prints. My eye was almost at once caught by a very fine impression of Diirer's "Knight and Death "(hanging close to two photographs of the San Sisto). Of course I ejaculated; and she said, "Oh, that was picked up by my father when he was in Paris. I think, considering he was only twenty, it showed very good taste." Then off we went about Ruskin--"What a mistake to think he is a bad knight"--Sintram, of course, etc., etc.; and having once got fairly started, we went on about all sorts of things (how they were connected it is really hard to remember)--Nuremberg, Paris (the only foreign place she had ever been to); the two things that interested her most--the Conciergerie and the Louvre; especially one little Murillo of our Lord looking on S. Peter. . . . Then we went for a most delicious stroll, something like the Wytham woods, where there were patches of bluebells and many other exquisite things, in order to fill our baskets with some moss for church decoration. Then to the church for service; congregation--a man, a little girl, and ourselves.
'The church is in that dreadful early modern Gothic, the churchyard very pretty. Then tea in the drawing-room; my hostess looking more like an old French marquise than ever in a red and black Dolly Varden dress, with pink skirt. I must get a sketch of her in that particular costume. Alas 11 never did. After tea she provided herself with a pair of scissors, and some of those cards of Sunday-school texts which have to be snipped up, and I got my knitting, by way of fancying we were industrious; and she volunteered to read me Keble's review of the Life of Walter Scott in an old British Critic. We must have read, I think, at the rate of a page an hour, as we went off into interminable discussions about everything, and, of course, a great deal of laughing and nonsense. How all the subjects got together I can't think. However, in the course of it she got down a copy of the Faerie Queen (which had been given by Mr. Keble to his wife before they were married, and used to be their travelling companion), with a nice little note in it from Mrs. Keble's sister, desiring her acceptance of it. Something in the reading about the beauty of Walter Scott's prose made me mention Dr. Whewell, and his delight in that fine passage in The Antiquary about a stormy sunset and a fallen monarch (early in chapter vii.). Of course that had to be looked out and read! We had been having some fun about the Coxe and Max Miiller school, and their way of disposing of all the old legends as myths about the sun and clouds; and she amused herself by turning the whole passage into a sort of allegory about Louis XIV.; laughing at her own thoughts in the way people do when a fresh combination conies into their mind. I never knew a face that it was greater pleasure to watch, and certainly never saw any woman (or many men) who seemed so perfectly untireable. I dare say she finds it rather lonely, though there is a married brother and family of children whose garden joins on to this. We were talking about something or other, and she said, "Two things everyone ought to be taught--to write a letter, and, if they have been anywhere, to describe it." I said: "Well, I don't mind about the letter, but it is not so easy, when you come home tired, to give a long account of your doings." "Well, it is far worse to come home and have no one to care what you have been doing." She seems very fond of the nephews and nieces, and is at this moment taking the place of a knocked-up governess, though rather in despair over a child who "has just reached that distressing stage when they know their alphabet perfectly well, and will go on saying the instead of the." All this energy seems so strange after the poor X's. [invalid friends]. By the way, Miss Yonge mentioned quite casually that she had read through the whole of the Faerie Queen as a girl, just because she liked it; and made a manuscript translation of I Promessi Sposi for the benefit of her father, who could not understand Italian, and liked to have a bit every night. . . .'
The letter ends here, but Miss Wordsworth adds some journal notes as well:
'Wednesday, May 8, 1872.--Church decorating (at home) with C. M. Y. We each did a cross for the two sides of the altar--yew, bay leaves, and rhododendrons. Her cross was broken-backed, and had to be supported by various devices. First I suggested crinoline wire (which was ineffectually tried); then she went and hunted up a garden-spud, which she stuck triumphantly at the back, and which she was sure "wouldn't show." Presently in conies her brother. "I think, Julian, we shall stand these on two hassocks to make them taller." "You might just as well stand them on--mashed potatoes." This was quite too much for my gravity. He waited for some time while we made a wreath with wet moss, flowers, and greenery for the font. . . . Went into church and arranged our crosses. Little girl bringing hemlock flowers. Nearly robbed the garden of its beautiful lilac clematis. Funeral came in the midst of our operations.
'Thursday, May 9.--After the usual festival services I left her, regretting she had proofs or something to do, and could not come, too, and walked up to the little common. Gorse most brilliant> beautiful distances, birds singing, milkwort on the turf, and a thousand other delights--a place in which to feel the true spirit of Ascension Day! She must have been at work at this time on The Pillars of the House, for at dinner she said: "I do so want a comic song. Can you help me? I don't know any music, and am not in the way of hearing such things. I want Angela to sing one on the river." "Would 'Not for Joe' do?" "Oh no, that is too common, I think." "Well, I wonder if this would. It's dreadfully vulgar, but the children in the Children's Hospital at Nottingham used to sing it:
"'Six o'clock is striking:
Mother, may I go out?' etc."
'" Oh, that will just do, because the bargemen can take it up and answer her again. I shall be so much obliged if you will dictate it to me this evening." Which I accordingly did, both of us greatly amused.
'Drove, or rather were driven, to Hursley in a low open carriage, by the road along which the body of Rufus was brought. Talked of Miss Mackenzie and missions.
'Just as we were getting into the village, I exclaimed at the beauty of a lane with light green foliage. "Ah, I have often thought I would go down that lane, but I never have yet. Certainly the road did not look inviting. Stopped outside the lych-gate. Church very beautiful with its cross-lights--the font especially so; Keble's grave and his wife's; wreath at the head, I think, of both. We stood there some moments, she telling me of his funeral day, the comfort the early service had been; a butterfly in the church; brass slab where the coffin rested. I thought she rather would have preferred a grass grave to the marble ones, especially as she had told me at another time, with enthusiasm, of an Indian Sultana whose one wish was that the grass should grow over her grave.
'Drove back through park. Deer. Ampfield Church. Something of this sort of conversation on our way through the wood: C. "This is quite a typical Ascension Day; these gleams are so much more beautiful than fixed sunshine." E. "One always fancies it was the same time of year in the Holy Laud, but, of course, the season was more advanced there-----"
'Ampfield Church stands on a rise. Drinking-fountain below, with verses by Lady Heathcote. Went up and looked round the churchyard. "When Miss (R.) Kingsley was here she seemed to know the note of every bird." Got into the carriage again, and drove on through a road among woods. Admired the larches. "As you like this so much, I must take you to-morrow to one of my favourite places for bluebells. I think we should have time in the morning. Yes, this is very pleasant English scenery. I like it better than a 'crack country,' where you are always being dragged up or down hill. What I do dislike are caves. There is one where I go and stay sometimes in Devonshire, and a sensation-novel lady [Annie Thomas] introduced it into one of her books, The most improbable bit in the book was (oddly enough) the only true one--that the cave had a door with a lock and key." Apropos of something I said: "Yes, there ought to be a novelists' lawyer. Sir John Coleridge looked over all the law in The Trial for me. He took me to the Portland Prison, and made all sorts of inquiries in my presence as if for his own edification. Mr. Roupell was there, so it was easy to ask questions about the treatment of a man of education. . . ."
'In the evening she gave me a beautifully printed copy of Potter's Aeschylus to look at. "Do read it out loud. I am sure you will enjoy it more." However, as I was rather tired, she read me some of Baring-Gould's poems: "The Three Crowns," "Bishop Benno and the Frogs "--a very clever thing--etc. She reads unaffectedly and with a good deal of spirit, and, like all good readers, does not come between you and the subject.
' Friday.--Went for our bluebell walk. It was thorough enjoyment, I think, to both of us. She seemed to delight in the red colouring of the docks--a great sweep of which lay across the landscape--and young oak-trees; then there were greyish-blue lakes of wild-hyacinths among the stems to our left--a peewit flying about in a sort of broken hollow to our right, and a strange croaking creature whose bodilyform could not be discovered. Promised me some flowers to take back to Westminster Hospital.
'In the afternoon took me to St. Cross in the open carriage. Sand-martins, rooks, etc. Agreed in our views about Butterfield having ruined the place. Cardinal Beaufort (about whom she was disposed to be enthusiastic); old silver crosses handed down from time immemorial. Peeped into Winchester Cathedral for a moment; through the nave and out at door on the south; spoke to verger about choral festival. She seemed proud of knowing all the byways to the Awdrys. Mrs. A. doing illustration for a lecture. Dr. Bidding's Athenian sketches. C. Y. raving about the beauty of our morning walk. As we drove back, we talked of Mr. Butler of Wantage. C. "Well, he is very delightful to me, and yet he gives me more snubs than anybody. I shall never forget how he scolded me once for dining out on a Friday. You would be surprised how much there is in Mrs. Butler. She is so much taken up with making both ends meet--I mean in keeping such an establishment going--that she has hardly time for anything else; but she knows so much, and has great depth of character." General Wilbraham passed us on the road. His daughters nursing an old aunt.
'Home too late for church, so dressed early and had such an evening! My hostess, as I see her in my mind's eye (lying on the sofa under the San Sisto picture, in the Dolly Varden dress aforesaid, and showing a very pretty pair of feet in white open-work stockings), and I on the other side "capping Miss Austen con amore." C. "One thing I always think so much to her credit: she gives you a great deal of costume, and it is never in the way. You know her nephew says she never was in love; but-----(name forgotten) told quite a romance about her: her meeting with some Welsh squire, who paid her marked attentions, and was always expected to come forward, when it turned out he was dead." I said, I believe, that I did not think Persiuision could have been written by a person who had not been in love. C. "What was the good of the story of Mr. Elliot (I suppose he was necessary), and Mrs. Clay? How much one sees the improvement in society since those days! Lydia going off without ever having been married--even the Mrs. Bennets of these days would have felt it. Then poor Colonel Brandon's situation. I knotv a Mrs. Palmer! How cleverly Harriet Smith is drawn! One feels the utter hopelessness of ever making anything of her. The sentimental young lady of those days--Miss Lily Black in Inheritance. Her letter first-rate. Isn't it good in Mansfield Park where Mrs. Rush-worth (that is to be) complains of her aunts 'sponging' on Mr. R.! I always read Miss Austen to people of the present generation who don't appreciate her" (taking down a copy to see what Miss De Bourgh's name was). "I had been positive it began, instead of ending, with H." In answer to a question of mine: "Emma? Oh yes, I know Mr. Knightley's Christian name. Don't you remember when she says,' I called you George to see if you minded it'? How good that scene is where Miss Bates talks to him out of the window! My mother and I took warning by that when we first came to live here, and determined we never would be so caught."
'I said I always thought Fanny Price had brown eyes. "Oh no. Don't you remember when Edmund had to learn to prefer soft blue eyes to sparkling black ones? I think I know exactly what Fanny looked like, with curls making an ogee arch over her forehead."
'Talked about Charlotte Bronte. "How wrong it was letting the brother stay at home and coarsen those girls' minds! You see the traces of it in Jane Eyre. Villette is better."
'"Apropos of reviews, Annie Thomas once asked me, 'How do you feel when they cut you up?' It was such an awkward question. I said, 'Well, at all events I don't cry over them all day, as Charlotte Bronte did. I was so angry the other day. In a story, some gentleman says to a lady, 'Well, would you like me to turn good and build a church like one of Miss Yonge's heroes? Now, I never did make my hero build a church, except Mr. Brnscliffe, and that was after he was dead."
'One of the most amusing things was to hear her giving an account of the plot (some of it) of The Pillars of the House. It was exactly as if she was explaining the involutions of some real piece of history, and she was quite as much in earnest. I dare say, if I had been there longer, I should have had a great deal more of the same kind, for she evidently, when the first shyness was over, liked talking over her people. Naturlich!
'Another night I had made some quotation from George Eliot (Adam Bede) about ancestral features without ancestral qualities. C. "Oh yes, of course I remember that! . . . I wonder no one has ever written a poem on the death of Lorenzo de Medici."
'I had been with her some time in the house before I ventured to ask her about any of her own things. However, one evening as we were at supper, I asked her if Lady Keith's death had been drawn from real life.Instead of her replying, unluckily, a crumb got down her throat, and she began to choke so genuinely that I did not know whether to be more frightened or amused; and it was some time before I got my answer--in the negative.
'Afterwards from time to time she volunteered a good deal. About one poor girl who fell in love with Ethel, in The Daisy Chain, and wrote to the author, saying "You are the mother of all my good thoughts." Translations: One French translator would turn Guy into Walter; another would call Averil Lucie, or some such name, instead of Everilda, which it really was. "Oh," I said, "I always fancied, as you had got so many Mays, you thought it only right to have April, like the old rhyme,
'"March borrowed from Averil,' etc."
'"No, that, somehow, never came into my head." 'She evidently feels very much having no one to take an interest in these things; and talked a great deal of her own family--some cousins who had been like sisters, and were now no more (one who used to tell her about Lady Anne, a favourite old child's book I happened to mention), and we got quite confidential over family histories. I said we had really never known what sorrow was. She answered very touchingly," And you will find it is much better than you think."
'I showed her one of my father's letters; she looked at it with interest. "Ah, I have nothing of that sort. My letters used to be: 'DEAR CHARLOTTE, I am coming home to-night at six. Your affectionate,' etc." C. "My father died of apoplexy; there were two strokes, with a few days between. We had no clergyman with us. I read the Commendatory Prayer. Afterwards Mr. Bigg-Wither came in, and read us the fifteenth chapter of Corinthians. It was kindly meant, but a great strain. Then those kind Kebles came over, and did everything they possibly could. I never was a nurse, and---- did much better than my brother or I could." But she seemed to look back on that sorrow as not so hard to bear as her mother's illness, with its long, gradual breaking up of a character that had been so congenial. (They seem to have seen everything in the same way, and the same absurd likenesses in people, like the game in The Pillars of the House, which they appear really to have played.)
'"The first coming home with nobody to welcome you! One of my cousins contrived to spare me that. Now I have got used to it, and go and look what letters there are. . . . One of the things that made me take to you first of all was seeing how much you looked up to your father." This was in answer to something I had said about wishing she could know him, as she seemed to miss Keble so much; or, if I remember the words rightly: "Ah, when one's master is taken away from one's head!"
'Altogether, this our last evening was one of our nicest. She seemed to let you see so much of her real heart and feeling, expressed almost as much by the flushing of her face and the varying character of her brown eyes, with their different looks of almost tears, sparkle of fun, eagerness of observation, far-away yearning (especially sometimes out of doors), and the charming play of her mouth, as by anything she says.
'It is a great pity one who is really so loving and lovable should not be able to show it except to the very few who have the chance of getting intimate with her. I think she must have felt this herself, to judge by the way she spoke of Miss Austen's alleged reserve in society. . . . As I think she said herself, only not quite in those words, "Self-consciousness is a misfortune, not a fault."
'Friday.--Went to church 9 a.m. As we got out afterwards, she amused me by saying: "Do tell me. Is my hat on hind side before? I have had such horrid misgivings about it." Luckily, it was all right. After breakfast she went, I think, to her school, I to my packing.
' Apropos of an emerald ring: "I think all the Otterbourne children of this generation will associate the 'rainbow round about the throne' with this ring."
'When I had done packing, I found her armed with a large photograph-book of friends and relations, which she showed me. I forgot to say how much talk we had had about Bishop Patteson, Bishop Selwyn's log-book, and Melanesia generally, on which she is employed just now. Also a great deal about the Old Testament--David and S. John (of course con amore), some of this out walking; the 40th Psalm--Keble's translation of "Mine ears hast thou opened," and much more. But as we hardly ever stopped talking during the four days of my visit, it is obviously impossible to put down everything. One day she took me into her bedroom, a small room with a look-out on laurel-bushes, and I should think an excellent place for observing birds. "Tod als Freund" over the bed's head. We talked a little about it. "And Alice Moberly happened to have done me this text, 'At evening time it shall be light,' so that fitted in beautifully." Picture of an old owl, "which I remember as long as I can remember anything"; photographs; a picture done by her mother for stained-glass window; family portraits.
'She does all her work in the drawing-room, the chief peculiarity of which is, there is no piano. Over the chimney-piece, her father in the centre, Lord Seaton, Keble, Sir W. Heathcote, all by Richmond ... a fine print of Millais' Huguenots in another part of the room; the two San Sisto groups--how she did talk to me about the cherubs! Death and the Knight; a print from the Vision of S. Augustine (S. Lawrence, S. Katharine, etc.), about which she was very eloquent; and I think a Cuyp, or something Cuypish, on one side of the fire; and at the foot of the sofa, and close to the fire, a window with something green peeping in, and a view of the road uphill to the common. On the other side of, and at right angles to, the fire three windows, and near the farthest her writing-table, with a handy chiffonier with cupboard for waste-paper, paste, etc.
' In the middle of the room a table with some flowers, in which she evidently took great pride--Solomon's seal, picked in our walk. Well, all pleasures come to an end, and so did this. If anything could have made parting pleasant, it would have been the genuine affection of her farewell.
'I paid her another visit in 1873, of which the following is a slight record:
'Thursday, May 29.--To Chandler's Ford. C. Y. waiting at the station for me. Drove a little way, then got out and walked through a wood something like Buckland Covert. She noticed the curious growth of the fir-cones coming at the joints of the branches. Some must have been there several years. Talked in a desultory way. Somehow Jean Ingelow came up. C. admired Off the Skelligs, also her part of One Story by Two Authors (Margaret), which I think she said was "how I first became acquainted with her. She was very angry because I would cut out so much of the other author's part." Stopped to look at a snake running aAvay in the broken ground, and told me a story of some Colonial Bishop being stung by a viper here in England. Came down by the road, leaving Hursley Park on our left. Pretty groups of children in the late afternoon light.
'Friday, 30th.--Paid calls in Winchester. To cathedral service. Old arches outside recently discovered. C. Y. "I remember when these were first found. I was quite a girl, and very enthusiastic, saying to Mr. Keble: 'Well, I think this is the greatest event that has happened in Winchester for many years.' He gave me one of his funny looks. 'Oh no, Charlotte! Don't you think the greatest event was Canon Carus's coming?'"
'After service showed me the font. Something like the Lincoln one. Was very much shocked I had not been to the cathedral "since you came to your senses. Well, we'll make a point of it next time you come."
'On the Saturday we had a grand church-decorating, and I was amused at the energetic way she set to work, carrying a large basket on her arm into the church, and subsequently dusting and scrubbing the dark oak carving inside the altar rails. Afterwards we paid a visit to Miss Walter, who had got downstairs on to the sofa.
'Sunday, (Whit Sunday) we had a great deal of Sunday-school, etc. I never saw a woman who seemed to mind noise so little, and the same thing struck me when we were travelling the next day.
'Sunday Afternoon.--" Now I must go and write my weekly letter to Mr. Wither." However, she hung about by the door, talking about prayer apropos of a story of Bishop Patteson having once escaped a great danger, and finding afterwards that his old governess had been praying for him all night. I said the obvious thing: "Why, then, did he get killed at last?" and the obvious remarks to and fro were made. I said: "At last one comes to pray for nothing but spiritual things, except, perhaps, people one loves." E, "And success." C. "Yes. 'Prosper Thou our handywork,' that was always a favourite text of mine. I fancy God encourages people by secondary motives while they are young, and by degrees withdraws them, treating us like children." (At another time she said: "I have had a great deal of affection in my life, but not from the people I cared for most.")
'Showed me an autograph of Keble with what he called "his motto" (from George Herbert), "Love is a present for a mighty King," stuck in Christian Year, I think. After tea she got into a corner of the sofa by the little window already mentioned, close to the fire, and I sat at the head and looked over her photograph copy of Lyra Innocentium. I made her read me several: the one for the day, and, "What I care for more," for Whitsun Eve, about the cooing of the dove; also "Where is the brow to wear in mortals' sight?" We began with the one for Whit Sunday, and, as she said, it rather seemed to have been done for the sake of getting the children in somehow, whereas the "Eve "was his own self completely.
'Among the photographs, one of Fra Angelico's face struck me. I think she said she had got it in Paris. It had all the air of being a portrait--the mouth so characteristic. I said, however, I wished the upper part had more the air of one who had gone through some intellectual struggle. It looked undeveloped. How could one get sympathy from such a man? This led to a very interesting discussion as to whether one must be able to be a thing in order to enter into it. "I'm sure I don't think I could have been as good as "(I think she said) "some of my own characters. Take courage, for instance. I know I'm an arrant coward. However, you may say that's a mere matter of physical nerve." I mentioned a paper I had seen in Mac-millan by Mr. Hutton, where he says Tennyson's Northern Farmer was drawn from the outside, and Tithonus from the inside. And this led us, of course, to Shakespeare, especially Hamlet, whom one felt he had drawn from within. C. "I fancy him a mixture of Hamlet and Sir John Falstaff. Now, Othello, I think, is from the outside." Then we went on to "Middlemarch "and the wonderful portraiture of Lydgate. Where did she get her medical knowledge from?
'I said something--I forget exactly what--about the effect of great events in forming great literary characters. What "would Shakespeare have been if he had not lived in an heroic age?
'C. "But sometimes the crisis comes, and there is no great man to rise up to it. Now, for instance, who is there? Perhaps the greatest intellect of the age is Dr. Newman. But-----" "But," I said, "perhaps his intellect is too strong for his nature." And we digressed a little on that subject, and got, somehow, to self-consciousness, whether it was the effect of the character or the epoch. "Bishop Patteson," she said, "was a remarkably self-conscious man. It was one of his great trials. I'm sure Ulysses was self-conscious." (I could not agree to this.) C. "I should say, now, that Euripides was self-conscious, and .ZEschylus not." "Yes." "And Cicero?" "Oh yes," I said; "why, he was just as much over-civilized as ourselves." C. "Do you know a passage in one of Miss Sewell's books in which she says of a pretty girl:' She was not vain, but she wouldn't have liked any of her father's labourers to pass her without noticing her'?" I said: "Or like Maggie in The Mill on the Floss, who didn't like the gipsies not to think her a clever little girl." C. "Well, you know, I feel like that girl of Miss Sewell's, I am afraid. I don't like it if people--not snub me, exactly, but don't give me my due. The other day I was going over a cathedral with a lady who certainly had all the right to respect, and I found my remarks treated with the utmost contempt. I fancied we had been mistaken one for another, and afterwards found it was the case. People do all they can to spoil you-----" "And then," I said, "are the first to turn round on you for being spoilt." "Yes. But, now, what should you have thought of Miss Strick-landgoingover a showplace and leaving a message: 'Tell the Duchess I have been here; she'll like to know it'? I don't like butter, but I must say I like approbation. What should you think of people when they come and say,' I've been wanting to see you so, I've heard so much of you,' and so on?" "Oh," I said, "if you did that to me, I should butter them again so thickly that they should see I was chaffing them. But I should hope they would have the good taste not to do so." "Very few people have good taste. I am getting hardened now; and don't mind it as much as I did. Of course, now, if I met, say, one of your sisters, and said I wanted to see her so, it would be quite natural, because I knew you. But supposing one met George Eliot or Mrs. Oliphant, of course it would not be the same thing; and yet, you know, one likes to be approved of--when one writes a fresh thing to know it is not a falling off." Something made me say: "I suppose a great success almost always brings a great shadow with it. It seems as if God would not allow people to have their heads turned--if they were good, at least." I believe she assented. "Ah," she said, evidently thinking of herself, "a lonely old age is a sad thing." She was apparently haunted by her mother's six months' imbecility, for she added: "I hope I shall keep myself. My mother got so restless; she was never quiet five minutes. We could not keep her in bed at night. If I went down to get my dinner, she could not bear me out of her sight. However, I do not think my constitution is like hers. The other side of our family is more for sudden deaths." A good deal of this conversation took place in the dusk, when people generally get confidential; and she went on about her father's symptoms, and a little tendency to gout she had been feeling. "People often think I must be very dull here, and want me to go and live in Oxford." I forget exactly at what part of the conversation I had begged her to go for a winter in Rome--it seemed such a pity for people who knew and cared about the place not to see it. "Well, the Heathcotes wanted me to go last winter, but I declined. There seems so much to do here; and, with an old mind like mine, it is difficult to take in fresh impressions."
'I have forgotten a good deal of this conversation now, but I shall never forget her eyes, sparkling like diamonds, especially by candlelight.
'We started together by train the next day, and travelled a short distance together. She was going to see Miss Dyson, "the mother of Guy."
"You must come again, you know; you seem quite to belong now to Ascension Day and Whitsuntide." We had several other meetings after this, but I fear I have not kept a record of them.'
Another friend of Miss Yonge's was Mrs. Gibbs, the wife of Mr. William Gibbs, whom all Churchmen gratefully remember. The visits to the home at Tyntesfield, of which she writes, 'The beautiful house was like a church in spirit, I used to think,' were a great pleasure. She writes from Mr. Gibbs's house in 1872:
'J. F. O. [Bishop Mackarness] slept here last night to assist at the opening of Mr. Randall's church at Clifton, to which we have been this morning. [The beautiful Church of All Saints, which has been so great a blessing to many souls.] The Bishop of Salisbury, Dr. Moberly, preached most beautifully about the Shadow and the Image. Mr. Skinner is also here for it .... Those who stayed for the luncheon are full of enthusiasm, and say it was most successful, and that the two Bishops spoke in perfection in their several ways; but Archdeacon Denison seems to have almost demolished poor Dr. Moberly with the noise he made. This is a holy and beautiful house to be in, with Blanche's almost unearthly goodness and humility, and her husband's princely nobleness. . . . He still reads the lessons in chapel, and with beautiful expression. Just fancy what it was to hear him read the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, the spirit so rising above the infirmities! He wants to build a church here for the district, also a private chapel, licensed for H. O. But the Rector, a very low and slovenly Churchman, will not consent; though the Bishop [Bath and Wells] has been talked to by our Bishop and him of Ely, he will not or cannot abide it. As to the chapel, there came a letter two days ago, saying "he would do everything in his power," but it is much feared that this means only a licence for the Holy Communion, not permitting anyone not in the house to receive. It is celebrated now in the Oratory, but with a sense that it is irregular and might be stopped when nobody is really ill. How Mr.-----and the Bishop can take advantage of the scrupulous forbearance they meet with, I cannot think.'
And another interest was Wantage. The sister of Mrs. Butler, Miss Barnett, was one of Miss Yonge's later correspondents, and Miss Yonge was an Exterior Sister of Wantage from 1868. She speaks of the Dean as being almost one with the 'Mighty Three,' and that Wantage was 'almost a Theological College, so many men were trained there.'
Wantage stands for so much to us of the English Church, and the Community of S. Mary's, Wantage, seems to have been one of the most richly blessed of those Communities which have given back to us the idea of the Religious Life for women. Wantage is linked also with the Community of S. John the Evangelist at Cowley; and when it is remembered how greatly she cared for missions, it is indeed thankworthy to realize that Miss Yonge had this connection with Wantage.