Friday, September 24, 2010

30Jan1873, George IV, An Abominable Man

LONDON, Thursday, January 30th, 1873.
—Met wonderful old Sir Henry Holland, who might, however, be 30 times better company than he is : he always seems devoured by doctorial reserve and afraid of committing himself about characters 70 years ago. However, he did let fly upon George IV, saying he had attended his two wives, and his mistress Ly. Conyngham, the latter of whom had told him awful things of him. "He was an abominable man from the beginning of his life to the end," quoth Sir Henry — "far worse than any of his brothers," all of whom Sir H. knew. He also talked of Prss. Charlotte, and the lamentable job perpetrated by "my old friend Dr. Willis" in getting appointed as accoucheur his brother-in-law wretched Sir R. Crofts, who had before been shut up for insanity, and who bled the poor flabby-habit-ed Princess 2 or 3 times before her confinement, so that she died of exhaustion.

23Jan18873, The Whirl of London

LONDON, Thursday, January 23rd, 1873.
—Came to London for good — earlier than ever before, I do believe, except the year of Bob's birth. My heart always rather sinks at the prospect of the whirling, strenuous sort of life, in contrast with peaceful, gliding Holker days.

18Jan1873, In a Rage Over the Burials Bill and Slavery

HOLKER, Saturday, January 18th, 1873.
—I have been reading " Uncle Tom's Cabin " again, also its Key, and an article in the Edinburgh of '55 about it. In this troublesome world, many are the things that one dislikes and disapproves of, many that grieve and fret one ; but there are only a few subjects which put me into a thorough rage ; which I avoid speaking of from the exasperation they produce all through me. They are various in magnitude—some may have but the smallest external scope : for instance, the " Burials Bill " is one of them. But one strong element of insufferability is a malevolent lie, clothed in religious cant, which I detect in such things, and which to my mind the Burials Bill has in great perfection. I have the strongest conviction that the originators of the agitation have for motive the desire to claim what does not belong to them, what they have justly and deliberately forfeited—not by way of disability, but by the very act of dissenting. It is as if a family had come into possession of a house and grounds to which it was agreed they were all entitled, as long as by common consent they lived under certain rules, and as if some out of the number, on conscientious grounds having come to the conclusion that they cd no longer submit to these rules, shd calmly demand their share in the house and grounds comme si rien n'├ętait!
The old disabilities which were very rightly removed from Dissenters were political ones, wrongly imposed for religious differences. But here is the Church's own ground, paid for by her own members, claimed by those who, of their own free choice, have broken off from her. Nay, it is still worse ; for in the wide charity taught by our Lord, the Church does admit all who are baptized to her buildings and her churchyards, counting them all Church people whenever they come to her. But it is a little strong to ask her to let them bring into her own holy places, their own forms and ministers ! so as comfortably to combine the pleasures of Dissent with the advantages of Churchmanship. The original Dissenters were more manly and true. Objecting in their consciences to the Church's system, they left her honestly, and never invented a clever plan of both keeping their cake and eating it. There wd be some¬thing to be said for the demand if there was one word in our Burial Service which cd run against the doctrines or feelings of any Christian whatever—but this nobody pretends to say. If, however, it was so, all difficulty wd be removed by their having their own minister and service over the body in the house, and having the funeral in silence aftds (a thing R.C.s and Presbyterians always do). The reasons and pleas brought forward — "National" churchyards should be free to all—it is wicked to forbid their own services to the dead—etc., etc., are all false at bottom. Another subject of rage with me is the Birmn. League outcry agst the 25th clause of the Education Act, which is still more undoubtedly a false one ; but I have talked about that before. But the monstrous one of all is now, thank God ! a thing of the past—American slavery. I suppose "Uncle Tom," first read to us when I was about 12, when it came out, took a tight grip of me ; at all events it has fresh-gripped me now with wonderful strength ! Of course I don't mean but what the upholders of slavery did an enormously more awful thing than the would-be defrauders of the Church are attempting now ; but the element these things have in common is the plea that by unfairness and oppression they are doing God service. (I don't apply this to individuals, who, to be sure, may be and constantly are honestly convinced that the reasons on their side are good—I only speak of the thing that I believe is at the bottom.) The defending of slavery on religious grounds must now, I should think, be an atrocious blasphemy to the eyes of everyone ; but when one recalls the network of self-interest, conservatism, and national pride that kept the "institution" going, helped by all that is worst in human passions and the whole glazed over by that hateful distortion of "religion," one can understand why the agony of the long civil war was the only hope for the country. The cancer had to be cut out by the roots, and it was a blessing that it was at the risk of life itself. The old planters, I believe, are mostly ruined and gone ; and the present race must surely be penitent and in their right minds !

08Jan1873, Helping Out at the School

Holker, Wednesday, January 8th, 1873.
—I only went out to the school, where Lou and I have offered to help in the religious teaching, now a "Time Tabled" and "Conscience Claused" business, and difficult for the mistress alone to squeeze into the one half-hour allowed.