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Archbishop Benson. To hear him describe a gold ornament from Aegina, just brought to the Museum, or the proper way of cutting a lawn sleeve, you would have supposed that he had nothing else to think of. After he had been instructing his coachman (he was a great lover of horses, and, like Cranmer, an excellent rider) in the points by which to tell good oats from inferior ones, "Lord," said the coachman to someone else, “I don't believe there ain't nothing that that man don't know."
(Professor MASON in the Cambridge Review, Oct. 22, 1896.) One of my father's favourite delusions was that he was very punctual. And indeed he used to chafe almost unduly at being kept waiting. He was seldom in time for a meal. He never started at the time mentioned; but he was most irregularly late; if one agreed to ride with him he would keep one dangling about for an immense time; and the gracious apologies with which he made his appearance made remonstrance impossible.
But it was impossible to count on his unpunctuality, and if one did so, one was sure to be summoned by an urgent stroke on the gong and find him fretting over his wasted time. He had a way of summoning his secretaries, and then doing thing after thing, unconnected with his work, hanging pictures, looking for books, quite unconscious of the flight of time-a practice which they found difficult to acquiesce in cheerfully.
I have said before, but the statement needs a little amplification, that my father was seldom conscious of happiness. He was often happy, I believe, when plunged in work, when immersed in Cyprian, when storing his memory with some of the beautiful sights of travel, artistic or natural. The felicitous and facile exercise of natural gifts, the conversion of mental energy into action must of itself be of the nature of happiness. But I have seldom seen my father in conscious high spirits of the spontaneous irrational kind, the joie de vivre, though my mother says
that outbursts of irrepressible spirits were characteristic of his early youth. In later days, when he was conscious of himself, his thoughts naturally turned to what was unsatisfactory or painful, in prospect and retrospect. He would reflect how little he had made of his opportunities, or sink beneath the oppressive thought of some difficult or delicate task which overshadowed him. I imagine that this was not always so; but it has been so ever since I have been a sharer of his more intimate thoughts. He had a natural tendency to melancholy, and such a nature finds food for sadness in everything. If there was nothing else, the prospects of his children, the demeanour of his family circle towards himself, were matters of deep concern. He would sadden himself with the thought of problematical dangers, or accuse himself of having forfeited some dear one's sympathy, which had never faltered or failed.
There is something particularly striking in the intense accuracy and minuteness of erudition displayed in the Notes and Appendices to the "Cyprian": he had taken this work up originally as a sort of counterpoise to mere serving of tables; but I think his reason for the methods he employed, his insatiable verifications, the length of time he spent on the elucidation of minute points, had a still deeper origin. In the first place he looked upon it as a severe corrective to the naturally inaccurate and imaginative tendencies of his mind. And secondly, the slap-dash sketchy way in which he was obliged to live, the ceaseless pressure, the lack of time for preparation, the impossibility of giving literary finish and artistic precision to so many of his utterances, made him hanker after some one piece of work where all might be solid and definite and exact. That is why his "lust for perfection" was so strong; it was this that explained the innumerable revisions, the incessant re-touching, the interminable delays.
There was never a stronger instance of the development of inborn as opposed to hereditary instincts than my father. He was descended from a long line of Yorkshire dalesmen, without a single clerical element. Then there came two generations of great mercantile acuteness, then a dissolute young soldier, and then his immediate parentage is an Evangelical man of science and a strong Unitarian. From this arises a nature of the most decided aristocratical and ecclesiastical tendencies.
He cared for ecclesiastical things from his earliest years though his mother was a strong Protestant, and his adored schoolmaster a scholar and a man of wide cultivation and of liberal rather than ecclesiastical views. Yet my father was strongly and deeply imbued with these ecclesiastical tastes, liturgical and antiquarian; and the moment he was brought into contact with a strong high churchman like his cousin Christopher Sidgwick, found himself, even as a boy, in his natural element.
Then as to the aristocratical side; my father was a strong Tory, and had a great natural reverence for authority and a great ideal of an historical aristocracy. Though brought up in comparative poverty, he was never, in spirit, quite of the working democratic world; dignity, stateliness of life, ancient buildings, refined leisure-all these were dear to his heart. Not until he was four and forty was he ever brought face to face with the problems of the democratical world. But his early training, the constant association with mechanics and working-men in his father's factory, stood him in good stead here. He talked to working-men as if he was one of them; he understood them, as if by instinct; he sympathised intensely and naturally with any self-respecting workman whose heart was in his work. Moreover his sense of justice, and his overpowering desire to bring the knowledge of Christ home
to souls made the duty of sympathising with lives lived in struggle and poverty paramount. Though the circumstances of his life placed him in stately spheres of activity, he was profoundly conscious of the duties of the Church to the poor, the ignorant and the oppressed; and though he had not the impassioned zeal of the democrat or the reformer, he understood the hearts and sympathised with the ideals of the brotherhood of labour far better than many who claim to represent them.
Mr Colin Campbell writes:
I remember on one occasion when I was riding past the House of Lords with him, just when the pigeons were in clouds before the horses' feet, we were overtaken by a hansom cab. The driver having no fare inside and perhaps cogitating upon the vanity of human nature when he sighted a Bishop who could sit in the saddle, found in the occupant of a palace (with nothing to do but ride in the Row) a concrete illustration of his text. Be that as it may-as he passed us at a leisurely pace, he turned round in his seat, and looking the Archbishop full in the face exclaimed, "Better off in this world than in the next, old man." Without a pause His Grace looked across to me with a sweet smile and "Very pithily put, wasn't it?"
It is not the first time that popular ignorance has uttered its unthinking gibe, but it has never been more sweetly forgiven.
You probably know how pained he was to have it brought home to him, as he sometimes did, how little the working man understands the actualities of a Palace and £15,000 a year.
The Rector of Lambeth found it so hard to explain matters to working men that he asked the Archbishop if he would consent to receive a Deputation of working men at the Palace and allow them to talk with him on the matter. He readily consented, and so one evening I showed up into his study four or five working men on their way home from work; one big fellow I well remember, as he deposited his bag on the floor.
In a few minutes the clamour of debate reached such a pitch that it brought me to the door, and it seemed as if everybody was talking at the top of their voice and all at the same moment; and such proved to be the case-for when I had shown them out,
and asked the Archbishop how it went off, he was much amused and much pleased with the interview-his face was "beaming"; he said, "I waited and waited for my turn to come, but it never came, and so at last I was obliged to join in and we all spoke together."
My experience of many a ride in London is that few things gave him such genuine pleasure-judging by the look of his expressive face-as the salutation of a working man; perhaps it meant to him that an Archbishop's life was better understood and more fully appreciated.
His feeling about the splendours of the Church was that they were a stately heritage, which it was right and proper to enjoy, and he had not the faintest sympathy with-only horror for Socialistic ideas. Several times, it is true, he gave what might be thought a radical vote, as for the extension of the franchise, when he said, with great feeling, that the Church "trusted the people"-but the people that he meant should be trusted were the dignified and independent working people whom he had known in boyish days, who, he believed, acquiesced as firmly as he did in the established order and the sacred rights of inheritance.
At Addington he found the life which instinctively suited him best; he had all the instincts of the landowner; he liked to ride round, to see about planting and clearing; and he had a very strong sense of personal possession. Addington was to him, from the first, far more like a place in which he had been born and bred, than an official residence in which he spent the last few years of his life. He loved the glades and open heathery places, and knew innumerable trees by sight, delighting in their characteristic beauties. He made the Park, from a sense of duty, quite accessible to the public, but all admission was done by ticket, and was of the nature of a favour which he liked to bestow, but to bestow in his own way. As a matter of fact, far more people had access to Addington Park in my