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IT is indeed lamentable that only six weeks after the death of Kingsley, another able and accomplished man of letters should be called away in the prime of life, by that dreadful messenger, who, whether he strikes at the monarch's stately portals, or at the peasant's lowly door, takes no refusal. A few days of illness, brought on by a severe cold, and Sir Arthur Helps followed the many great and benevolent men whom he had called friends, and whom England had learnt to love with a love that will not soon get cold.

Arthur Helps belonged to an order of writers exceedingly numerous at the present day, but rare in earlier times-writers whose hearts overflowed with love for their fellow-men, who were full of compassion for the poor and lowly, who yearned to leave the world better than they found it. These men did not write to build up a reputation or to earn money; though both money and fame fell abundantly to their lot. They were without party-feeling; they did not resort to sarcasm, slander, and abuse; they poured forth their thoughts on the condition of the people and of the world, thinking only of doing good. They made ample allowance for the weaknesses of human nature, and while freely exposing dark spots in the economy of modern society, never ridiculed those who were responsible for these evils, never blamed the man for the faults of which he was guilty, and which they considered rather blots on his character than essential parts of it. They felt and frankly acknowledged how poor and sinful is the human heart, how often its best resolutions end in empty prayers for amendment, how peculiarly man is the creature of circumstances, the product of education and habit; and, knowing all this, they hesitated to blame, though they were not blind to the fault.

Immeasurably superior to the masses of their countrymen, holding the broadest and noblest views about religion and politics, these men, nearly all now gone to their last home, approached more closely to the model set them by the Founder of the Christian religion than did even those able and upright men who adorned the literature of this country fifty years ago, ten times more closely than did the wits and satirists of the last century. It is no little praise to say of Sir Arthur Helps that he belongs to that small band of upright Christian men, which numbers Arnold, Whately, Maurice, Kingsley, Chalmers, Baden Powell, Lytton,

Thackeray, Stanley, Dickens, and many others in its ranks, and among whom he took so high a place.

The most superficial examination at once shows the difference between Helps and these generous co-workers of his and the great writers of the last century. The latter, as far as ability, wit, learning and literary excellence went, were not in any respect inferior to their successors; but, partly in consequence of the lives they led, partly in consequence of the views then entertained about what was allowable in literature, they gave the world books, essays, poems which, with few exceptions, could not have come from the pen of Kingsley or of Helps. The group of distinguished men who assisted Addison in the preparation of the "Spectator," and who were a great improvement on their predecessors, had not that sympathy for man, that tender compassion for the weak and sinful, which, thank Heaven, are the characteristics of the present school of writers. A hundred years ago many of the leading writers led lives far from spotless; their morals were bad; their habits dissolute. Here and there an exception occurs, but the exceptions were very few. And then, worse than all, the withering sarcasm, the ill-natured invective, the wilful misrepresentation, the degrading of literature from its high place to be the tool of party leaders, and a terrible instrument in the hands of malice and impiety, gave a tone to the writings of that day which I trust will never again be possible.

Now and then some of the weekly reviews of the present day publish articles calculated to foment ill-feeling, to loosen the bands holding society together, and to bitterly wound those unfortunates against whom the writer discharges his poisoned arrows. But these are quite exceptions. The great authors of our generation, who were the friends of rich and poor, were not cast in the mould of Fielding and Smollett, and had higher aims than poor John Wilson Croker.

Arthur Helps was one of the brightest lights in the modern order I have just been describing. What his politics were I do not know, nor would it be easy to tell whether he had any enemies. There is not an ill-natured expression in any of his many works. All he wrote breathes the spirit of that great commandment, "Do unto others as ye would that others should do unto you;" and when he lay on his death-bed, looking back over a life passed in doing good to his countrymen and to all mankind, it is hard to believe that he could have called to mind any sentenc which he would have wished unwritten. He wrote with such sense of responsibility that, had he written with the shadeo be death over him, he could not have been more guarded, other expressions, more considerate in the censure he bestowed.

Against him no one had a word to say. He was benevolen and forgiving to a fault. The many great men whom for thirty years past he had seen so much of, all appeared to have regarded him as a friend of that stamp not everyday met with. His life is said to have been absolutely spotless, a pattern to his friends, an example to the world. His Queen, who saw much of him, and who had many opportunities, of course, of finding among the crowds of scholars, divines, and statesmen, who surround her throne, the best and noblest men of the day, found in bim a friend, a co unsellor, a comforter whose place even she will not easily fill. Knowing as we do the reserve generally exercised in these matters, and the grudging hand with which royal favour is meted out to loyal subjects, that notice which, a few days after Sir Arthur's death, appeared in the papers, in which the Queen simply and touchingly records her sense of his great virtues and high abilities, is the most remarkable tribute to his worth which he could have received. He was the friend of the foremost men in the state, the leaders of parties, the rulers of the Church and of the great professions, and, last but not least, the faithful friend and wise counsellor of his Sovereign, who always knew that from him she could get advice on which she could implicitly rely.

Some of the short papers which, from time to time have appeared of late years in the leading magazines, signed, in his simple, unobtrusive way, so characteristic of the man, A. H., are most interesting, and give as good an insight into his heart as any of the more important works that have come from his busy pen. There are several papers in which he has beautifully recorded his impressions of some of the great men whom he had known, and who had preceded him by a little space to the grave. One on Lord Clarendon, another on Dickens, and a third on Charles Kingsley, the last published two months ago in "Macmillan," are among the best of the kind. There is such a generous appreciation of the talents of his friends, such sympathy with and for them, such sorrow at the loss he, in common with all England, had sustained, that no one could refuse to admit that he was indeed a great and good man.

What will be his position in English literature? What is the value of the work he did? What are his books remarkable for? These are somewhat difficult questions to answer, though they are being asked on all hands. And, perhaps, in his case there will be, oth now and for years to come, more diversity of opinion than Cal. It must be remembered that his position was a most jar one, and calculated to make it almost impossible for him Whatel and to express those clear, well-defined, unmistakeable which other writers, more fortunately circumstanced,



could hold and give to the world. His natural turn of mind may have to some extent influenced the tone of his writings, and the delicate offices he, at various times, held must still more have made him cautions. He was not a Member of Parliament, a clergyman, a Queen's Counsel, a successful court physician. He was not connected with any party in Church or State, nor had he anything to do with any great social or national organisation. In early life he was the private secretary of one distinguished public man after another; first of Lord Monteagle, Lord Melbourne's Chancellor of the Exchequer, next of Lord Carlisle, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; then he held several delicate and responsible posts; and finally, sixteen years ago, he became Clerk to the Privy Council, a delicate, though honourable office, bringing him into constant contact with the ablest and most influential public men of the day.

Caution was impressed upon him, and caution marks all he wrote. He had opportunities of seeing and knowing statesmen representing all colours and parties, and thus he got to see how much goodness of heart and greatness of intellect there was in men holding radically different opinions. Then, again, I presume he would have laid himself open to the severest censure, both from the Government and from the periodical press, had he, in any of his works, criticised the motives and actions of the ministers, whom he knew so well, and of whose conduct, perhaps, few could judge better. No man ever seemed more closed in, on every hand, with difficulties which would render success as a writer im. possible, no man more cautiously and wisely avoided those diffi. culties. In all estimates of his abilities the peculiar nature of the posts he held must never be forgotten. To me it seems that in it we must seek the key to much that would otherwise seem in. explicable in his style.

An opinion, sometimes expressed, is that he was capable of something greater than anything he ever accomplished. No one means by this to hint that Arthur Helps was not a great and original writer, still the impression left on the mind is that, valuable as are his works, full of wisdom, of knowledge of mankind, something more-greater and more original-might have come from his pen. Perhaps, had he retired from public life at forty-five, and shaken himself altogether free from the restraints of a delicate official position, he might have formed opinions more decided, and written something more capable of rousing the enthu siasm of the nation, and of forcing those who had read what he had written to bestir themselves and to do something.

Like Kingsley and Thackeray, he did not allow himself to be influenced by national prejudices and habits. The good in other

nations he generously admired and warmly praised. For example, how kindly he speaks of the German people, of their habits, their out-door life, their innocent amusements, their sobriety! Again, how passionately he loved nature in all her wild, luxuriant beauty! There is that well-known passage in "Friends in Council," in which this love of the country comes strongly out. He had been staying in a continental city near which, according to the guide books, there was nothing to interest the tourist. But Sir Arthur thought differently. He left his carriage at the post-house, and walked into the great pine forest, and there he was delighted. "There was that almost indescribably soothing sound (the Romans would have used the word susurrus)—the aggregate of many gentle movements of gentle creatures. The birds hopped but a few paces off as I approached them; the brilliant butterflies wavered hither and thither before me; there was a soft breeze that day, and the tall trees swayed to and fro politely to each other. I found many delightful resting-places."

Sir Arthur did not confine himself to one walk of literature. In this, too, he resembled many of the leading writers of the present day, nor did he only take a lively interest in those subjects about which he wrote. He was an enlightened advocate of sanitary reform, and of a national and comprehensive system of education. He was certain to approve of anything which could in any wise make the lives of his fellow-men happier and more prosperous, and raise them socially and morally.

As a historian he can never rank high. Not but what he had thoroughly mastered his subject, and had a perfect knowledge of the language and manners of the people whose exploits he was describing; but his humane heart sank within him at the long strings of bloody deeds, fierce raids, treacherous reprisals, which form the chief events in the history of the conquest of America by the Spaniards. Then Sir Arthur weighed everything so calmly and judicially, was, in short, so afraid of saying anything which was not absolutely and in its minutest particulars true, that his historical works are deficient in that power of description, that admiration for the personages whose lives he is recording, which have made Prescott's Conquest of Mexico " so deservedly popular, and such a splendid specimen of a semi-military history. In another walk-the drama, he obtained as much fame as the majority of writers who have of late years written for the stage. One of his dramatic pieces, "Oulita," a tragedy, published in 1858, is exceedingly beautiful. There is something so graceful and dignified in the characters described; all have some merit; all are perfectly natural, and though this play has probably never been acted, and might not be a success, were it acted, it greatly


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