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Literary Life of the Rev. William Harness
Chapter XII.

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Chapter XI.
‣ Chapter XII.
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The allusions in the preceding and following letters show that Mr. Harness’s health became uncertain during the last few years of his life. Nevertheless, his spirits were so good, and his temperament was so cheerful, that except on some unfavourable days it was difficult to realize that he had reached an advanced age. He no longer occupied his pulpit, as his voice had become weak; but to the last he was never absent from church, and always took some part in the service.

“Kensington Gore,
“May 18, 1867.

“I have not been able to write to you, for the letters take up as much work of my hand as I am able to do . . . Longman has all the MS. of our two first volumes. He fears there
is more than the public will care for, but says he will look it over and let me hear. He seemed pleased with the offer of the book. I’m doing now 1831; and am more than half through it. The letters to
Miss Jephson are very uninteresting to any but the ladies themselves—particularly as their friend Mr. Cathcart* failed at Covent Garden, and afterwards at the Haymarket. He was not quite so bad as her other protégé, Mr. Fitzharris, who failed in ‘Othello’ at Covent Garden: but he was a miserable actor, who, in spite of a good deal of genius and passion, was perfectly incompetent for any but a very subordinate place at a London theatre—such as London theatres were forty years ago. I shall be very glad to see you again.

“Believe me to be,
“Ever yours,
“Kensington Gore,
“June 13, 1867.

“The man alluded to in that note of Miss

* Owing to Miss Mitford’s partiality for Cathcart, Charles Kemble gave him a trial at Covent Garden; but after he had been acting for three nights, he refused to continue unless he received an engagement for the whole season. Miss Mitford requested Mr.

Mitford’s, as the prototype of a scoundrel in one of Bulwer’s novels, was named Wainewright. He wrote charming articles on art under the signature of ‘Janus.’ He was a friend of Barry Cornwall (Procter) Macready, Talfourd, and all that clique of artists and authors. Charles Lamb was very fond of him, and used to call him the ‘light-hearted.’ He was born to some inheritance, which he soon spent, and subsequently replenished his finances by murder. The first person he is supposed to have poisoned was his uncle, the proprietor of the Monthly Review, whom I knew, but whose name I can’t recall, nor shall I—till I don’t want it. They say that, first and last, he assisted at least eleven friends and admirers out of their miseries in this world; and, entirely free from any apparent depression of spirits, concluded his eventful and cheerful life as a very successful portrait-painter at Botany Bay. Ask me about him on Monday, and I may be able to tell you more of his story. A real account of the man and his character, such as Charles Lamb, or Procter, or Macready might have written, would present one of the most extraordinary psycho-

Harness to use his influence with Kemble on his behalf. “I cannot give an engagement,” was the manager’s reply; “Cathcart does well enough as Jaffier to my Pierre; but how would that little fellow look in a breeches part!”

logical phenomena that ever was witnessed among mankind.

“W. H.”
“Privy Council Office,
“July 4, 1867.

“I won’t tell you how often I complained of your silence! But your letter, when it appeared yesterday at dinner-time, appeased me; and I am at this moment writing, in my usual most complacent state of mind towards that intrepid seaman, the Rev. A. G. L’Estrange. I have done nothing about the book, except read and arrange letters. All my considerations by day, with the MSS. before me, and by night, as I think about them, have led me to this conclusion, that we must finish the book as fast as we can; read the first part over for condensation; and then publish the whole together.

“I am very well at present, and trust that I may remain so; but at seventy-eight (I was going to write eighty-seven) who, without infinite presumption, can depend on life or its faculties for a moment beyond the present? I shall, if Providence permit, leave town as early in the month as I can, after getting in my pew-rents and paying my house-rent and
taxes—the latter movement being contingent on the first.

“I have not done much since you removed from the metropolis, except dining out twice, giving a dinner on the anniversary of my niece’s wedding-day,* going twice to garden-parties at Holly Lodge, and seeing ‘Dora’ at the Olympic. This latter piece of dissipation took place on Monday last. I had heard the play so praised, that I was determined to see it; and so, taking two stall tickets, I asked Mr. Smith to be so good as to go with me and take care of me, which he most kindly did; and, after being bored with a preliminary farce, I poured out my fullest approbation in tears to ‘Dora,’ from the end of the first act till the green curtain dropped upon the last. I dine out to-day at the Dean of Armagh’s.

“When I leave town I shall go to Scottowe, and remain there till I return home. I wish I did not turn sea-sick at the thought of a yacht, or I would follow my letter, and take a sail with you.

“My sister’s kind regards.

“Yours affectionately,

* “And a very pleasant party, though you would not stay for it.”

“Privy Council Office,
“July 24, 1867.

“I have had a note from Bentley soliciting the publication of our book. I have told him that as soon as it is finished he shall hear of it, and be referred to; but that we can’t bind ourselves to publish with anybody till we know what terms may be offered us. I have been very much better these last few days, notwithstanding that I’ve been working like a horse. The letters of 1836 took me a long time, for several hours a day. Those for 1837 will be in Makeham’s* hands by the end of the week.

“So your little friend, Miss Orpen, (is not that the name of Lady Chatterton’s niece?) is married at last. She seems to be charmed with her condition, and I had a note from her, signed ‘R. D. Ferrers,’ which reached me the day after the announcement of the marriage appeared in the newspapers. She is living at Finchden, which is Lady Chatterton’s place, and which as she describes it (an old house of black and white timber, with seven antique and carved gables to it) must be in excellent keeping with its inhabitants. It seems that they are

* Mr. Harness’s amanuensis for five-and-twenty years.

all going to live together, aunt and niece with their respective husbands, at the black and white house with its seven gables.

Lady Chatterton has written a play—a tragedy—called ‘Oswald of Deria,’ which is to be bound in white in honour of Mrs. Ferrers’ marriage; and it is hoped that it will eventually be acted in the large drawing-room of Finchden, which has been re-constructed and enlarged by Lady Chatterton expressly for private theatricals. I am to have a copy of the play.

“We have had marvellous doings here with foreign visitors! Miss Coutts’s luncheon to the Belgians was magnificent! A beautiful thing to see the troops defiling before her and marching through the grounds to the banqueting tents—2,400 of them (men, not tents), and all finding their places and eating their dinners with the greatest goût, appetite, and decorum. They had a splendid repast, with grapes, pines, peaches, &c.; and one hundred and fifty-four dozens of champagne were dismissed before the dinner was over. The day—at least so much of it as was wanted for Holly Lodge—was just what one would wish. It was fair, with occasional gleams of bright sunshine, but never too hot. Archdale talked a good deal to the Belgians, and they all ex-
pressed themselves in terms of wondering delight at the entertainment they had received. The Sultan says that ‘in Paris he saw what civilization was—in England he saw what it was that produced it.’

“Good-bye! God bless you! I can’t write long together. It fatigues my eyes; and so, with Mary’s love, believe me to be, my dear L’Estrange,

“Yours ever,
W. Harness.”
“Scottowe, Norwich,
“August 11, 1867.

“I don’t believe you ever received a long letter which I wrote to you from London and directed to Finisterre, for you ought to have had it some days before the date of your last, which is written from some place that I never heard of before, and am not quite sure that I read correctly.

“We have moved from London at last to Scottowe with the Archdales, arriving all together last Wednesday. We left rain behind us and arrived in rain; but the fine weather set in on our arrival, and the glass is now at ‘fair,’ the sky clear,
the wind in the east (which in Norfolk is an especial favourite), and the sun as hot and scorching as any human being could possibly desire.

“I had rather a dread of taking so long a journey at one heat; so I started on the Tuesday, slept at Ely, and proceeded to Norwich by a mid-day train the next day, in time to meet and accompany my sister and the Archdales to this place. I was perfectly delighted with Ely. I did not go to the Cathedral on the Tuesday evening, for I only arrived at my hotel (the ‘Lamb,’ a most comfortable house), in time for a late dinner; but I was up early the next morning, and spent several hours in the magnificent building. The restorations are not quite finished, but all that has been done is wonderfully well done, and though the funds do not come in so rapidly and liberally as at first they did, they are still progressing with the work. Nothing can be better than the taste and skill with which Styleman L’Estrange painted the ceiling, and the piece which he died before completing, and left Gambier Parry to do, is so well done that no eye could distinguish where the one left off and the other began. The duty was very well performed; but I hated the intoning till the Dean took it up at the Lord’s Prayer in the
Litany, and finished the service. I then saw, or rather heard, that intoning might be made very agreeable, and that there is as much difference between the intoning of one man and another as between one man’s reading and another’s. I intend, if well enough, to go to Ely in late Autumn for a couple of nights—Saturday and Sunday nights—and have a full treat of the service. If you are good, I’ll ask you to go with me.

“I have just been reading a novel called ‘Sprung up like a Flower.’ It’s all about a decayed family of L’Estranges, very clever and very heart-breaking.

“It is my intention to stay here till September 30, making, if well enough, a short episodical visit to Clumber; and after my return we must work. I have almost finished the letters of 1838. I shan’t write any more, for I know you’ll never get the letter. But whether you do or not,

“Believe me to be,
“Yours affectionately,
288 ‘FAIRY.’
“The New Inn, Maudesley, Norwich,
“Oct. 9, 1867.

“Your letter reached me, viâ London, yesterday morning; and I’m very sorry to hear so sad an account of your mother’s health. Nobody ought to be ill at Malvern, where everybody goes to be made well; and where, if report be true, everybody feels himself better. I’m glad to find that your account of Mrs. Simmonds (i.e. Harris), is not so bad as I had fancied. She is a good old soul, but I have always had a terror of the husband as a religious humbug.

“The story of the dog is not quite exactly the fact. The dog was mine—given me as a puppy by Henry Hope. It was a clever, cunning, fawning, unamiable dog; and, as Mrs. Harris liked it, when she married I let her have it. Its beauty, in its youth, was so great that Prince Albert wanted to purchase it, and the man who rode up to my servant to negotiate the transaction offered £50 for her. But the last glimpse I had at ‘Fairy’ was through a photographic representation of her from Guernsey, in which all the beauty and grace seemed gone, and she looked like a drowned dog that had swollen a week in the water.

“I am come to a dead stop with the letters;
there are only two or three dreadfully dull ones, for 1846 and ‘47. Some of the best, to
Miss Barrett, are not there—particularly one on the ill effects of scenery in dramatic representations, which is excellent, and almost original in its notions.

“Memo: I have not the originals of the letters which are copied; and (as I never look at the copies, from having been so worried by the mistakes in writing the names of people) those letters are virtually absent. So that I have really nothing to go on upon but Mrs Jenning’s MS. We must have all the letters to Miss Barrett which we can fairly print, and make our abridgments in the beginning of the book: we can cut out plenty there.

“I’m better, but I feel that my principal ailment is old age. My sister desires her kindest regards and best thanks to Mrs. L’Estrange.

“Yours ever,
W. Harness.”
“The New Inn, Mundesley, Norwich,
“Oct. 21, 1867.

“I can’t write more than a few lines, to tell you of my whereabouts, for my eyes are dim with working ever since breakfast at Miss Gold-
smid’s letters. I have begun at the end, at poor
Miss Mitford’s death, and am working back. I have done all the long MS. of Mrs. Jennings.

“There was a great deal to be cut out—things told in other letters, and some things actionable as calumny—viz.: ‘the account of the raffle for Southey’s copyrights.’ The dissensions of that family were very painful and very incomprehensible. In London, everybody was of Mrs. S.’s faction: at Keswick, everybody was of the children’s faction. I suppose, as in all family quarrels, everybody was a little right, and as much wrong as they could be.

“We hope to leave this and begin our return home on Monday. On getting home, I shall write to my acquaintance Appleton, the New York publisher, and negotiate with him for the publication of the book in America, as well as in England. It seems to me that Miss Mitford’s reputation there was greater than with us. There is a means of securing copyright in both quarters of the globe, but we must inquire what those means are.

“Believe me to be,
“Yours ever,
W. Harness.”
“Privy Council Office,
“March 18, 1868.

“I am sorry to hear that the tranquillity of your mind has been discomposed by a landstorm about your yacht; as, from your father and mother having recovered themselves a little, there was a brighter promise of enjoying your visit to Clifton than your friends had anticipated for you. But what has happened? What is the delinquency of the captain? I’m quite nervous to hear.

“Last Saturday was my birthday: I entered my 79th year amid the congratulations and cheers of my friends, who seemed to eat a very merry dinner on the occasion, at which I was too deaf to hear a word that was spoken. Indeed, I have caught a cold, and have a wheezing on my chest, which, with my deafness, renders me a most useless and extremely stupid individual.

“I have just been calling on Milman. He has been most seriously ill, but is a good deal better. He saw me, and told me rather an amusing anecdote. An Irish farmer, who had been corrupted by reading some liberal books, refused to pay his priest’s dues. ‘No, he wouldn’t; the Priest might turn him into mice, if he could, and said he would do; but he denied his power, and would not give him a six-
pence.’ The farmer remained contumacious and victorious. But still, triumphant infidel as he was, when night drew on, and they were preparing for bed, he said to his wife, ‘Biddy, don’t you think we had better lock up the cats?’

“Good-bye! I can’t write long.

“Believe me to be,
“Yours ever affectionately,
“Privy Council Office,
“March 23, 1868.

“I am a good deal better, but feel oppressed in my chest, and don’t expect to be altogether right and sprightly, as a youth in his seventy-ninth year ought to be, till the sun has had time enough to air the wind, and these occasional sharp fits of Winter have finally disappeared. However, I have been doing some work here (i. e. Council Office,) to-day; and I did some Miss Mitford before I left home this morning.

“In one of Mrs. Hoare’s letters there is, in very fair writing, the word ‘fritillaries,’—a plant, a wild plant; do you know anything about such a creature?

“The far-seeing world, who know what the Devil intends to do next, are all prophesying a ‘No-
Popery’ cry. If it arise, the effects in Ireland and England will be terrible. In England, the sufferers will be the Ritualists; in Ireland, it will in all probability provoke a civil war.

“A story: ‘Oh! Pat; and what do ye think will be your feelings at the Day of Judgment, when you meet Mrs. Mahoney, and the pig you stole from her, face to face?’ ‘Does your Reverence think the pig will be there?’ ‘Ay, indeed will he; and what will ye say then?’ ‘I shall say, your Reverence, “Mrs. Mahoney, dear, here’s the pig that I borrowed of ye, and I’m mighty glad to have this opportunity of restoring him!’”

“We must shorten the early part of Miss Mitford’s life to bring it into proportion with the latter part. This can easily be done by leaving out some of the poetry, and cutting shorter her letters to Sir W. Elford; or rather abridging those epistles into letters.

“I have nothing more to say.

“Believe me to be,
“My dear Guy,
“Yours ever,

“Riddle:—I give you £100, and you are to give me one hundred animals. The cows cost £5, the pigs £1, and the hens one shilling each. How
many of each kind will you send me in return for my cheque? I must have one hundred animals for my money.”

“Privy Council Office
“June 22, 1868.
“My dear L’Estrange,

“I have been all last week at Holly Lodge, doing the only thing that I was capable of, in such intense and continuous heat—sitting out of doors in the shade, with my mouth a-jar to catch the little air that was moving, and ready for talk with anybody that happened to pass by. I did not return till Saturday morning; and, I suppose, I shall soon go back again. I certainly shall, if the weather be as it has been. Yesterday (a sad breach of the Sabbath, but really the day excused it) I gave way to a kind solicitation of Mrs. Disney, and drove out with her from four to six to see if any air could be found on Barnes Common and Putney Heath; for there was none to speak of—a mere sufficiency for the sustenance of a gasping existence—to be had in London. We succeeded in our exertions, and finding a breeze under the shade of a tree on the Barnes road, we stopped the carriage, and sat nearly an hour in the placid enjoyment of it.

“I have done nothing with Miss Mitford, nor
till the weather is cooler shall I attempt it. I have not strength to untie the parcel. To reduce the
Life to one volume, is re-writing the book and making a Biography of my friend—which I never intended, and now have not the strength to undertake. It would have been, at first, less trouble than the assorting her letters and making them tell her story. I am glad to hear your mother is so much better; keep her out of doors and amused.

“Believe me to be,
“Yours ever,

“I went to hear the ‘Messiah’ the other night. The music, of course, charmed me; but I had heard it all better sung, with more heart and feeling, in the olden times, in the Hanover Square Rooms. At Exeter Hall the voices are strained, and with all their straining are lost in space.”

“Privy Council Office,
“Oct. 2. 1868.

“Thank you, my dear L’Estrange, for your kind note of this morning. I was, and am, a good deal affected by poor Milman’s death. We had been friends ever since 1802; and the death of one whom I have known so long, and who was so near my own age, seems like the pulling
up the young roots of one’s life from the ground. I was at his funeral, which was very solemn and very affecting to those who were as much attached to him as myself.

“I should be off a-tree-planting, were I in your place, at once, that the job may be finished and yourself in England before the election rows begin in Ireland.

“Privy Council Office,
“Feb. 18, 1869.

“I was very glad to get your letter, for I began to wonder what could have become of you. I was not quite sure but you might have been blown off the cliff.

“Ever since you left town, as the weather has been growing damper and damper, I have been growing deafer and deafer! Now, it is really very painful, this absence of the sense of hearing when I’m in company. It renders me a bore to my companions, and a burden to myself. I trust, however, that, as the days clear, and the ground dries, and the sun brightens, it may partly disappear.

“Yesterday, and I believe to-day, there is a pair
of artificial second-hand legs on exhibition at an auction-room in Bond Street. It is not said whether they are on sale or not. But the exhibition of them is very disgusting to my mind. They were the legs worn by
Sir Thomas Trowbridge, and more respect was due to them as having been worn by that excellent man and distinguished soldier.

“I’m reading a novel written by Mrs. Coventry’s grandmother, which I read (almost the first full-grown book I ever did read) in the year my sister was born, 1811. I have never seen it since. ‘The Beggar Girl;’ there are eight volumes of it. I have almost read the first volume, and seem to have a dream-like remembrance of what is to come. It’s different from novels of the present day, and contains some occasional bad English; but it’s very clever. She was a great beauty, as well as an authoress—a Mrs. Bennett—and also the mother of old Mrs. Scott Waring, who died last year at the age of 102, and whom, I dare say, you may remember to have seen at church.

“Believe me to be,
“Yours ever,
“Kensington Gore,
“Feb. 27, 1869.

“Many thanks, my dear L’Estrange. for your present, with which my brother and I opened our dinner yesterday. They are excellent and most acceptable.

“I enter my eightieth year to-morrow fortnight! All my romance about convent life is put to flight for ever; and I am told, by those who have seen the nuns, that their ugliness is past belief. I think it would be an excellent thing—as very many Roman Catholics do—that it would be a great reform of their ecclesiastical system, if the clergy were allowed to marry, i.e., if no vow of celibacy were enforced on ordination; but I must condemn the man who first voluntarily takes the vow, and then considers himself justified in breaking it.

“I don’t understand about zoophytes; you must teach me. I was very much shocked to hear of poor Delawarr’s death. He was an excellent and charming person. Considering that he always looked delicate and consumptive in early life, it was a marvel that he lived to be so old. He and I were, great friends once; but I never could be at the trouble of keeping up noble friendships, unless the coronet did two-thirds of the business.

“I believe there was no actual quarrel with
Byron. It was simply a case of incompatibility. The ardour of B. was more than D. could adequately meet. But I must be off to read the Chief Justice’s charge anent the nuns; and I have very little time to do it in, as I must go and see poor Dyce, who is very ill indeed. Mrs. Disney is dead. The Dean is in deep grief.

“My sister’s kind remembrances.

“Yours ever affectionately,
“Worting, Basingstoke, Hants,
“July 31, [1869.]

“I came here to my brother’s last Thursday, directly after marrying two young people who had asked me to perform the service, and for whose sake I remained the beginning of the week in town. They seemed very happy on the occasion; and I felt myself supremely happy in getting the ceremony over, and being able to escape into the country.

“I am already better—more alive—for the change of air. It really is a delightful thing, having nothing to do. The cottage is so small that my servant is always hitting his head against the doors, and says the rooms were only made for little people; but it is a great pleasure to
move about from one room to the other, and then to sit awhile in the little hall with the door between the two, and enjoy the fresh air of the Hampshire hills, brisk from the sea, and unadulterated by any metropolitan mixtures.

“I shall be away from town, and in all probability here, till the 18th of September, when the church will again be opened. It closes on Monday for painting and repairing, and the congregation assembles in the large room at Kent House, which Mr. Henry has been so good as to lend me for the occasion.

“Believe me,
“Yours affectionately,
“Worting, Basingstoke,
“Aug. 18, 1869.

“I have had nothing to tell, and therefore have not written. Day follows day, each like the other in every thing, I am happy to say; as I certainly am a great deal better and less deaf every day that I am content to remain in this quiet home. I have not for these five years felt so free from all uneasiness or agedness as I am feeling at present. Thank God!

“This is our life: breakfast at nine, luncheon
at one, tea at five, dinner at seven, coffee at nine, bed at half-past ten. Every meal exact to time, except tea at five; that varies, as Arthur drives Coe and me out in a basket-carriage after luncheon, and we very often don’t get back from our excursion so soon; indeed sometimes we are so late as not to have any tea at all.

“You now know the whole course of my life; and when you have heard that between whiles I play with the dog, or doze over Crabb Robinson’sJournal,” I don’t think you have any more to hear of the present doings of W. H.

“I have just had a letter from Miss Skerrett; it is, strange to say, legible. She claims the fulfilment of a promise that, should any of Miss Mitford’s letters to her be printed, proofs of the MS. should be shown to her, and not published without her consent. I have written to assure her that her wish shall be complied with; but, as far as I recollect, no letters to her are given.

“I don’t know whither to send this. I must try Dover. My sister is gone to Norfolk, on her way to Lincolnshire, and I think of following her in about a fortnight. How the time does fly when one is happy and in good air!

“God bless you!

“Worting, Basingstoke,
“Aug. 31, 1869.
“My dear L’Estrange,

“I hasten to answer your question as well as I can. ‘The Revenge’ is a very popular tragedy, by Young (Edward, I think), and the principal character is Zanga. The ‘Bellario’ you want I can’t tell. There are at least fifty Bellarios in the old English Drama; but I can’t guess, from the slight hint you give me, which this alluded to by Miss Mitford may be, unless it be the young lady in disguise who is the heroine in ‘Philaster,’ a celebrated play of Beaumont and Fletcher’s. George Darnley wrote two plays, very good, on English history, about thirty years ago. I have them both, but can’t remember the names of them. He was a very studious literary person, and well nigh stone-deaf. I could help you, if I could see the text in full and had my books at hand; but here, except scientific books, we have nothing but ‘Crabb Robinson’s Life’ and a few novels.

“About ‘Clarissa’s’ work I can’t make a guess. I suppose it has some reference to Mademoiselle D’Arblay’s novel. You must not forget to put a note on Hugh Pearson when you insert his letters from Miss Mitford. He is a very able and accomplished man, and from the time of
being appointed Rector of Sonning, which happened when he was quite young in orders, a kindred taste for literature attracted him to the companionship of Miss Mitford, to whom he eventually became a most invaluable friend. If you look his name out in
Crockford’s Clerical Guide, you will find the dates of his preferment.

“If you go to Sandwich again, do try to get me some seeds or cuttings of the Trumpet tree. I shall be here till the 28th, if I don’t leave on Friday. Adieu! I’m going to Basingstoke for letters.

“Yours ever affectionately,
“W. H.”

The last time I saw Mr. Harness was about a fortnight before his death. I was passing through London, and, hearing that he was at home, determined to call upon him on my way. He was in his little study, looking as happy and genial as ever, and our conversation turned on the passing events of the day, and especially on the scandalous imputations which Mrs. Stowe had recently brought against Lord Byron. He said that he had heard the charge long before—that it arose out of the publication of Manfred; but was as untrue as it was revolting. He reiterated what he had before said of Byron’s love of romancing and of exaggerat-
ing his dissipations, and that he was encouraged in such rhapsodies by the serious interpretation his wife put upon them. His wilful conduct in this respect had greatly tarnished his memory.

As I was taking my leave, I referred to the forthcoming Life of Mary Russell Mitford, and speaking about the payment to be made by Bentley, inquired whether he would not receive a portion of it. In reply, he generously said that he would not; that I had been much occupied in the preparation of the work, and all he wished to be taken out of the money was £20 to be given to the Sweetmans. I was much surprised at the nature of this request; but I knew that he had a great affection for old servants—he had (as already mentioned) put up a stained window in All Saints’ Church in memory of his nurse—and I merely inquired whether I should give them more, as I was ready to comply in every way with his wishes. To this he replied ‘No; twenty pounds;’ and as he offered no explanation I remained for a long time in ignorance of his motive.*

When our conversation was ended, I wished Mr. Harness farewell, little thinking our parting

* In Miss Mitford’s last letter to Mr. Harness, she requested him to give them a part of the profits.

was to be for ever! We were in fact looking forward to the pleasure of an early meeting, and to the arrival of an especially interesting anniversary, when he should accomplish his 80th year.

The last letter I received from him was the following:—

“Nov. 6, 1869.

“Nothing has happened since I came back, except the arrival of Mr. Archdale in town, who has been driven from Norfolk by the bitterness of the cold. I was very happy at Sherborne. I like living in a school; it is so regular in the hours, and the meals are so ample and plain and good. To be sure I felt very much as if I was a pupil, and subject to the laws of the school, from which, when I transgressed them by appearing too late at breakfast or dinner, I was only absolved from the punishment by some illogical and partial exception.

“My pen won’t write, and when that is the case, my mind is always suggesting false words to my ink.

“When shall you be back? I am told to go to the sea for a few days, and intend being with
Crake at Battle from Monday till Saturday. I hope the sea-air will carry away my cough before it gets fixed for the Winter. I’m very old; and at that age in which keeping alive seems to be the sole object of living.

“I have heard nothing of Miss Mitford nor of Miss Austen; the life of the latter I’m looking for with great anxiety. In the meantime, I’ve been spending my evenings on the dullest of books, with clever things in it—Noblesse oblige.

“When do you come back. I’m off to dine with my niece.

“Yours ever affectionately,

Among those to whom Mr. Harness was most warmly attached was Mr. Crake, who had been for twelve years his curate at Knightsbridge. Their intimacy continued after the latter had become Dean of Battle; and Mr. Harness knew that he was always welcome at the Deanery, and frequently accepted his friend’s hospitality. It was a pleasant and easy change for him from the cares and toils of London; and the freedom from conventionality which he there enjoyed was as grateful to him as the fresh sea-breezes were invigorating. Even the old Deanery itself possessed
an attraction for him, with its battlements, its wide hearths and panelled walls.

On the occasion of which we are about to speak, there would seem to have been almost a fatality in his visit. The day before his departure, a note arrived from Mr. Tysley, in Prince’s Gardens, inviting him to dine on the following Thursday. Mr. Harness, however, was a man who seldom altered his plans; he felt a longing for country air, and wrote to the Dean that he could always make himself happy with his books, in however lonely a position.

He therefore started to pay the fatal visit on the day he originally named; he seemed remarkably well when he arrived, and spent the greater part of Tuesday and Wednesday sitting in his arm-chair, with his favourite Shakespeare in his hand—the changing play of his countenance, as he read, showing he was still alive to his old enthusiasm. On Thursday, he walked for a considerable time up and down the garden, and returning to the house by some new stairs, remarked to the Dean, “When you are an old man, you’ll repent having placed those stairs there!”

Later in the day some friends called, and a lady observed that he seemed in unusually good spirits, and that, but for his slight deafness, no one would have thought him an old man. He talked with ani-
mation, and seemed to take as much interest as ever in the affairs of life, although he observed, somewhat sadly, that he had survived all his contemporary friends. They left at six o’clock, and, the Dean having by this time started to keep an engagement in St. Leonards,
Mr. Harness was left quite alone. At half-past six his servant came to the study to inform him that it was time to prepare for dinner, when, to his consternation, he found the room vacant; and almost at the same time the butler, who was going across the hall, was horrified at finding Mr. Harness’s body lying head-foremost at the bottom of the stone stairs. He saw at once that he was dead; his head was lying in a pool of blood; but his expression was so peaceful and benign, the man said, that, although he knew he was dead, he could almost have imagined he was asleep.

It seems probable that Mr. Harness left the study when the light was uncertain, just before the lamps were lit, and in the dusk did not observe the staircase. On examination, it was found that the skull was severely fractured.

A fortnight after our separation in London, one calm autumnal day at the end of the long summer, when the yellow leaves were dropping silently from the trees—I was sitting at the window of my study at Clifton, reading the first copy of Miss Mitford’s
Life, which had just been forwarded by the publisher. I was musing over and reviewing the results of our three years’ labour, with those mingled feelings which seem to attend the completion of all literary enterprises. Suddenly, I heard the sharp knock of the postman at the door, and in a few minutes the servant entered the room with a letter. I broke the seal. I had observed the deep black border, but never could have conceived the crushing intelligence it conveyed. The words were as follows:—

“The Deanery, Battle,
“Nov. 12, [1869.]

“Our poor dear old friend Harness is no more. He fell down a flight of stone steps at the Deanery last night, and was instantly killed.

“Poor Miss Harness and Miss Archdale have been here, but have returned home. The funeral takes place here on Monday afternoon.

“I will not attempt to tell my sorrow.

“Yours ever,

The blow was so sudden and severe that for some moments I could not comprehend the intelligence. Dead! One whom I had so intimately
known, and had seen a few days before in the enjoyment of the fullest health and vigour! I could not realize the fact; it seemed overwhelming.

Mr. Harness was never married; but I have heard that there was some romance and disappointment in his early life. In speaking of celibacy, he was wont to say, “There is always some story connected with it.” He felt less than others his isolated position, inasmuch as he had a sister to whom he was devotedly attached, and who superintended his household. I never saw his usual buoyancy of spirits desert him but when she was unwell; then, he was an altered man, and seemed equally unable to attend either to business or pleasure. They had a rule, which to some may appear strange—Neither of them was, on ordinary occasions, to make inquiries after the other’s health. Mr. Harness thought the expression of such solicitude had an injurious effect, and led people to imagine themselves suffering from ailments.

His health, even in old age, was remarkably good, and his faculties were to the last in a wonderful state of preservation. His hair, though changed in colour, was as thick as ever, and clustered in curls as in his early youth; his complexion was clear and fresh; his teeth beautifully
white and perfect; and he could see so well as to be able to read the newspaper without glasses. He still, to the last, retained remnants of that beauty which
Sir Thomas Lawrence had admired in his childhood. Old age had no Winter for his genial nature. Indeed, he used to say that the older we grow the happier we become. In one of his sermons, written after he had passed his seventh decade, he observes, “There is one time when the age of even threescore years and ten seems by no means great; and that is, when you have reached it yourself.”

It was remarkable, in connection with his fate, that he never dreaded an unexpected death, but always said he should prefer it to a lingering illness. He objected to the prayer in the Litany on this subject, and said he wished the proposed word “unprepared” had been substituted for “sudden.” In this desire, therefore, as in his life, he seems to have been blessed; for he died without a struggle, and, as far as could be ascertained, without any suffering.

It is almost surprising, when we consider the infirmity (lameness) with which he was afflicted through life, and his constant danger of falling, that he ever reached the span of an octogenarian. On several occasions he met with severe falls; on one especially, when, in company with the Dean
of Battle, they had been attending a visitation charge at St. Paul’s. They had stood for five hours, and on leaving the Cathedral by the south entrance,
Mr. Harness’s knee gave way at the top of the flight of steps, and he fell head-foremost to the bottom. The Dean thought he must have been killed on the spot; but, as he said, he seemed to have fallen “like a child;” and such was Mr. Harness’s spirit and unwillingness to disappoint his friends, that he would not put off a dinner engagement which he had made for that evening.

Mr. Harness was buried at Battle, where he died. His simple funeral was attended by his brother and nephew and by two or three attached friends. Shortly afterwards, a committee was formed with the view of raising a subscription to commemorate his labours and his virtues; and it is worthy of record, as marking the respect in which he was held by those who differed from his views, that although he consistently opposed the claims of Rome, one of the earliest contributors to the fund was a Roman Catholic.

After much consideration as to what would be the most suitable kind of memorial, it was determined that a prize bearing his name should be founded at Cambridge for the study
of Shakespearian Literature, and that a brass tablet should be placed in the centre aisle of All Saints’ Church, Knightsbridge, “As a record of his generous actions and faithful ministry, by his friends and grateful parishioners.”

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