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Birkbeck Hill himself it is told that, after he had succeeded to the head mastership of Bruce Castle, he was once asked to receive into the school the son of a planter whose wealth was raised in great part by slave labour. With his detestation of slavery the first thought was to refuse; but afterwards reflecting that the boy might receive good from the school, he determined to take him, resolving at the same time to devote all the fees to charitable objects. Like Dr. Johnson he might have given as his toast, 'Here's to the next insurrection of the negroes in the West Indies.'

It was in his father's school that Birkbeck Hill was educated until he matriculated at Oxford. The teaching was excellent, so far as it went. Thoroughness and good discipline were achieved: individuality and intelligence were encouraged. Yet, as he himself admits, the scholastic attainments of the founders of the new system were not equal to their ingenuity and enthusiasm. He was wont to mention with regret the fact that he did not begin Greek until he was sixteen. From Bruce Castle School Birkbeck Hill went up to Oxford, matriculating from Pembroke College on March 1, 1855. Here he passed into a new world. 'I was brought up,' he writes, 'among those whose canon of taste was contained in the Edinburgh Review. I sat, as it were, at the feet of Jeffrey and Macaulay. Not a doubt did I ever hear cast on their infallibility. In them was contained all the law and the prophets. Byron's English Bards and Scotch Reviewers was constantly in the hands and on the tongues of my young associates. .. Wordsworth was our scoff. . . . I entered Oxford as ignorant of the new School of any one well could be. I do not think that I had ever seen a single poem of Keats or Shelley. Mr. Browning's name was, I believe, unknown to me. Of Wordsworth and

Tennyson I had read only a very few poems. Tennyson I had heard treated with the same scorn as his great forerunners'.' It was for him a happy day when he became acquainted with Mr. William Fulford, a member of his college and editor of the short-lived Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, to which Rossetti and William Morris were contributors. Fulford introduced him to the little fraternity, of which Burne-Jones and William Morris were the leaders. 'It was,' to quote his own words, ""a nest of • Writers and Readers, p. 99.


singing birds," who night after night were found in the neighbourhood of Dr. Johnson's old college, often in the college itself. . . . The subjects which I had always heard discussed were never discussed here, while matters on which I had never heard any one speak formed here the staple of the talk. I recall how one evening the nineteenth century was denounced for its utter want of poetry. This was more than I could bear, for the nineteenth century was almost an object of adoration in my father's house. I ventured to assert that it could boast at all events of one piece of poetry-the steam engine. The roar of laughter which burst forth nearly overwhelmed me. The author of The Earthly Paradise almost overturned his chair as he flung himself backwards overpowered with mirth. I was too much abashed to explain that I was recalling the sight I had once had of an engine rushing through the darkness along a high embankment, drawing after it a cloud of flame and fiery steam. In this fraternity Birkbeck Hill was not unfrequently in the company of Rossetti, who, 'with a friendly band of young pre-Raphaelite painters,' was covering with frescoes the walls of the new Debating Room of the Oxford Union Society. Of Swinburne, too, he was a contemporary and friend.

So ardently did Birkbeck Hill drink in the new knowledge that, when he had scarcely taken his degree, he dared to give a lecture at the Mechanics' Institute of the very village in which he had been brought up, wherein he challenged a place for Tennyson among the great poets. For a time he even went to the opposite extreme, and learnt to speak as contemptuously of Pope as he had before spoken of Wordsworth and Tennyson.

Other friends he had, not of this set, like Professor Dicey, and,. perhaps above all others, George Rankine Luke of Balliol, afterwards Senior Student of Christ Church, a man of singular ability, high character, and enthusiastic energy, whose untimely death by drowning in the Isis in 1862 robbed the University of ‘a great and beneficent influence,' to quote the late Master of Balliol, and was lamented in an eloquent tribute by Stanley in a farewell sermon to the University3. The sudden loss of one so dear to him and so honoured was perhaps Birkbeck Hill's first great grief.

'Letters of D. G. Rossetti to W. Allingham, p. 177.

2 Now the Library.

For a brief account of Mr. Luke, and a testimony to his influence, the

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Ill health, the result of a severe attack of typhoid, proved a bar to any attempt at honours, and he was obliged to be content with an 'honorary fourth class' In Literis Humanioribus. He took his B.A. degree in the Michaelmas Term of 1858, but never proceeded to an M.A. through dislike of the religious tests then imposed. In 1866 he took the degree of B.C.L., and in 1871 that of D.C.L., availing himself of the University Tests Act passed in that year.

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On leaving Oxford in 1858 Birkbeck Hill joined his father in the school, though he did not take orders as he had originally intended when he went up to Oxford. In the January of the next year he was married to Annie Scott, the daughter of Edward Scott, a solicitor of Wigan in Lancashire. They had become engaged before Birkbeck Hill went up to Oxford, when they were still boy and girl.

At Bruce Castle School, first in partnership with his father, but from 1868 as sole head master, Birkbeck Hill remained until 1877. At Tottenham all his seven children were born. The school continued to enjoy fair prosperity and success. Some changes were introduced, chiefly in the direction of bringing up the teaching to modern requirements, but on the whole the old principles were maintained to the end. Yet it may be said here that the profession was not one suited to Birkbeck Hill's sensitive nature-unsupported, as he at any rate came to be, by enthusiasm or even confidence in his calling; while many of the duties incumbent on the master of a private school, though always performed with that conscientiousness which was a characteristic of his work, grew more and more irksome to him as years went on.

It may be of interest to some of Birkbeck Hill's friends who are aware of his denunciation of the tyranny of over-organized athleticism in our schools and universities, to hear that while at Bruce Castle he was a keen cricketer, taking part as a regular member of the school eleven in the matches of the boys. He was always a vigorous walker. In earlier manhood a holiday passed amid the Lake mountains was one of his greatest pleasures; nor in his later years did this source of health and happiness desert him. I well remember the long mountain rambles we took

reader is referred to the Life and Letters of Benjamin Jowett, i. 331, where a portion of the late Master's obituary notice of him, contributed to the Times, is given.

together day after day during one winter I passed with him at Alassio. Often did it fall to my lot in Hampstead, where he chiefly passed the last years of his life, to be his companion in the brisk walks which he regularly took on the Heath or round Golder's Hill.

Through his enduring friendship with Charles Joseph Faulkner', 'the pleasantest of companions as he was always the truest of friends,' who was the third member in the art firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. (now Morris & Co.), Birkbeck Hill kept in touch with many of the men in whose company he had entered upon the new world of art and literature. Yet it was not until 1869 that Birkbeck Hill began regularly to write. In that year he became a contributor to the Saturday Review, then under the editorship of his friend Philip Harwood, in its palmy days when it numbered among the contributors E. A. Freeman, J. R. Green, Sir Henry Maine, Lord Justice Bowen, Sir James Stephen, Sir Leslie Stephen, and Professor Owen. As Matthew Arnold once said to Birkbeck Hill, it was easy to see that every subject was entrusted to a writer who was master of it. For many years he was a regular contributor, his last review, I believe, appearing in 1884, in the year after Harwood ceased to be editor. With the political part of the journal he had, of course, nothing whatever to do. 'The editor,' as he himself tells us, 'discovered in me a certain vein of humour, and for the most part sent me books to review which deserved little more than ridicule. What havoc I made among the novelists and minor poets! I amused my readers because I was first amused myself by the absurdities which I everywhere found in these writers, and by the odd fancies which rose in my mind as I read their works.' At last the minor poets overwhelmed him. Dejection took the place of amusement as he read. At his entreaty they were entrusted to a fresher hand. The time too came when the novelists ceased to amuse him, and he became aware that he could no longer raise a natural laugh. 'One result of all this novel-reading,' he tells us, 'was a total incapacity, lasting for many years, of reading any novels except those which were the favourites of my younger days. To read a novel became so inseparably connected in my mind with three pounds ten shillings, the usual payment for a Saturday Review article, that without the one I could not under* Scholar of Pembroke and Fellow of University College, Oxford.

take the other. All in vain have friends urged me to read the works of Black, Blackmore, Hardy, Howells, Henry James, Stevenson, and Kipling. Not a single story of any one of these writers have I ever read or am I ever likely to read1.' In addition to his work as a Saturday Reviewer he contributed also to the Cornhill Magazine, the Pall Mall Gazette, and the Times.

It was not until 1878 that his first book, Dr. Johnson: His Friends and His Critics, was published. This was the first outcome of those Johnsonian studies which were to be the main pursuit of his life.

In the Preface to his edition of Boswell, Birkbeck Hill has described the happy day in 1869 when, 'in an old book-shop, almost under the shadow of a great cathedral,' he bought a secondhand copy of an early edition of the Life. For though when he entered Pembroke College he loved to think that Johnson had been there before him, he had scarcely opened the pages of Boswell since his boyhood until that day. Yet Addison had attracted him in his undergraduate days, and with him and the other great writers of his and the succeeding age he had become familiar. 'The volumes,' he writes, 'became my inseparable companions. Before long I began to note the parallel passages and allusions.' In his reviewing it fell to his lot to criticize works that bore both on Boswell and Johnson, and his love and knowledge of the subject increased; but it was not until 1875 that he first definitely resolved to prepare a new edition of the Life. From that time he began steadily to collect materials. Unfortunately ill health came upon him, and the work of preparation had to be carried on amid many interruptions and disadvantages. More than once his health seemed almost hopelessly broken down. One hindrance to his literary work was, however, removed in 1877, for a complete and alarming breakdown, accompanied by distressing asthma, made him finally resolve to give up the school and devote himself henceforth to literature. A few months passed at Mentone, the first of many winters to be spent abroad, did much to remove the worst symptoms of his illness; but he never possessed the same physical vigour again. A removal to the country was determined on, and the autumn of 1877 saw him settled at Burghfield, near Reading, where he lived until 1886. With the rest from the ever-increasing burden which the school had come

* Talks about Autographs, p. 79.

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