It is now brought into print in the hope that it may be found of interest for certain readers of the younger generation and may serve as an incentive to the reading of the fuller histories of the War period, and particularly of the best of the biographies of the great American whom we honour as the People's leader.
In the spring of 1868 I was sent to the United States on a postal mission, of which I will speak presently. While I was absent the dissolution took place. On my return I was somewhat too late to look out for a seat, but I had friends who knew the weakness of my ambition; and it was not likely, therefore, that I should escape the peril of being put forward for some impossible borough as to which the Liberal party would not choose that it should go to the Conservatives without a struggle. At last, after one or two others, Beverley was proposed to me, and to Beverley I went.
I have already mentioned Carlyle's earlier writings as one of the channels through which I received the influences which enlarged my early narrow creed; but I do not think that those writings, by themselves, would ever have had any effect on my opinions. What truths they contained, though of the very kind which I was already receiving from other quarters, were presented in a form and vesture less suited than any other to give them access to a mind trained as mine had been. They seemed a haze of poetry and German metaphysics, in which almost the only clear thing was a strong animosity to most of the opinions which were the basis of my mode of thought; religious scepticism, utilitarianism, the doctrine of circumstances, and the attaching any importance to democracy, logic, or political economy. Instead of my having been taught anything, in the first instance, by Carlyle, it was only in proportion as I came to see the same truths through media more suited to my mental constitution, that I recognized them in his writings. Then, indeed, the wonderful power with which he put them forth made a deep impression upon me, and I was during a long period one of his most fervent admirers; but the good his writings did me, was not as philosophy to instruct, but as poetry to animate. Even at the time when out acquaintance commenced, I was not sufficiently advanced in my new modes of thought, to appreciate him fully; a proof of which is, that on his showing me the manuscript of Sartor Resartus, his best and greatest work, which he had just then finished, I made little of it; though when it came out about two years afterwards in Fraser's Magazine I read it with enthusiastic admiration and the keenest delight. I did not seek and cultivate Carlyle less on account of the fundamental differences in our philosophy. He soon found out that I was not "another mystic," and when for the sake of my own integrity I wrote to him a distinct profession of all those of my opinions which I knew he most disliked, he replied that the chief difference between us was that I "was as yet consciously nothing of a mystic." I do not know at what period he gave up the expectation that I was destined to become one; but though both his and my opinions underwent in subsequent years considerable changes, we never approached much nearer to each other's modes of thought than we were in the first years of our acquaintance. I did not, however, deem myself a competent judge of Carlyle. I felt that he was a poet, and that I was not; that he was a man of intuition, which I was not; and that as such, he not only saw many things long before me, which I could only when they were pointed out to me, hobble after and prove, but that it was highly probable he could see many things which were not visible to me even after they were pointed out. I knew that I could not see round him, and could never be certain that I saw over him; and I never presumed to judge him with any definiteness, until he was interpreted to me by one greatly the superior of us both — who was more a poet than he, and more a thinker than I— whose own mind and nature included his, and infinitely more.
Her face was of cold stone. He led her to the bed and drew her down beside him. They sat stiffly, like people in a railway carriage.
But he led me to the shore. And on that part of it where she and I had looked for shells, two children - on that part of it where some lighter fragments of the old boat, blown down last night, had been scattered by the wind - among the ruins of the home he had wronged - I saw him lying with his head upon his arm, as I had often seen him lie at school.
It was the holidays that made up for everything. I made friends with a Scottish girl, Susan Duff, who liked the same open-air things as I did. She too was an only child, and her parents were glad to have me to keep her company. So there was Scotland in the summer and skiing in the winter and spring-all over Europe, in Switzerland, Austria, Italy-and we stuck to each other through the finishing school and at the end we even "came out" together, and Aunt Florence produced five hundred pounds as my contribution to an idiotic joint dance at the Hyde Park Hotel, and I got on the same "list" and went the rounds of similar idiotic dances at which the young men seemed to me rude and spotty and totally unmasculine compared with the young Canadians I had known. (But I may have been wrong because one of the spottiest of them rode in the Grand National that year and finished the course!)
We all said something, or looked something, to welcome him, except Mrs. Gummidge, who only shook her head over her knitting.