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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsHugh: Memoirs Of A Brother - Preface
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Hugh: Memoirs Of A Brother - Preface Post by :dan7530 Category :Nonfictions Author :Arthur C. Benson Date :May 2012 Read :1754

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Hugh: Memoirs Of A Brother - Preface

This book was begun with no hope or intention of making a formal and finished biography, but only to place on record some of my brother's sayings and doings, to fix scenes and memories before they suffered from any dim obliteration of time, to catch, if I could, for my own comfort and delight, the tone and sense of that vivid and animated atmosphere which Hugh always created about him. His arrival upon any scene was never in the smallest degree uproarious, and still less was it in the least mild or serene; yet he came into a settled circle like a freshet of tumbling water into a still pool!

I knew all along that I could not attempt any account of what may be called his public life, which all happened since he became a Roman Catholic. He passed through many circles--in England, in Rome, in America--of which I knew nothing. I never heard him make a public speech, and I only once heard him preach since he ceased to be an Anglican. This was not because I thought he would convert me, nor because I shrank from hearing him preach a doctrine to which I did not adhere, nor for any sectarian reason. Indeed, I regret not having heard him preach and speak oftener; it would have interested me, and it would have been kinder and more brotherly; but one is apt not to do the things which one thinks one can always do, and the fact that I did not hear him was due to a mixture of shyness and laziness, which I now regret in vain.

But I think that his life as a Roman Catholic ought to be written fully and carefully, because there were many people who trusted and admired and loved him as a priest who would wish to have some record of his days. He left me, by a will, which we are carrying out, though it was not duly executed, all his letters, papers, and manuscripts, and we have arranged to have an official biography of him written, and have placed all his papers in the hands of a Catholic biographer, Father C. C. Martindale, S.J.

Since Hugh died I have read a good many notices of him, which have appeared mostly in Roman Catholic organs. These were, as a rule, written by people who had only known him as a Catholic, and gave an obviously incomplete view of his character and temperament. It could not well have been otherwise, but the result was that only one side of a very varied and full life was presented. He was depicted in a particular office and in a specific mood. This was certainly his most real and eager mood, and deserves to be emphasized. But he had other moods and other sides, and his life before he became a Catholic had a charm and vigour of its own.

Moreover, his family affection was very strong; when he became a Catholic, we all of us felt, including himself, that there might be a certain separation, not of affection, but of occupations and interests; and he himself took very great care to avoid this, with the happy result that we saw him, I truly believe, more often and more intimately than ever before. Indeed, my own close companionship with him really began when he came first as a Roman Catholic to Cambridge.

And so I have thought it well to draw in broad strokes and simple outlines a picture of his personality as we, his family, knew and loved it. It is only a _study_, so to speak, and is written very informally and directly. Formal biographies, as I know from experience, must emphasise a different aspect. They deal, as they are bound to do, with public work and official activities; and the personal atmosphere often vanishes in the process--that subtle essence of quality, the effect of a man's talk and habits and prejudices and predispositions, which comes out freely in private life, and is even suspended in his public ministrations. It would be impossible, I believe, to make a presentment of Hugh which could be either dull or conventional. But, on the other hand, his life as a priest, a writer, a teacher, a controversialist, was to a certain extent governed and conditioned by circumstances; and I can see, from many accounts of him, that the more intimate and unrestrained side of him can only be partially discerned by those who knew him merely in an official capacity.

That, then, is the history of this brief Memoir. It is just an attempt to show Hugh as he showed himself, freely and unaffectedly, to his own circle; and I am sure that this deserves to be told, for the one characteristic which emerges whenever I think of him is that of a beautiful charm, not without a touch of wilfulness and even petulance about it, which gave him a childlike freshness, a sparkling zest, that aerated and enlivened all that he did or said. It was a charm which made itself instantly felt, and yet it could be hardly imitated or adopted, because it was so entirely unconscious and unaffected. He enjoyed enacting his part, and he was as instinctively and whole-heartedly a priest as another man is a soldier or a lawyer. But his function did not wholly occupy and dominate his life; and, true priest though he was, the force and energy of his priesthood came at least in part from the fact that he was entirely and delightfully human, and I deeply desire that this should not be overlooked or forgotten.

A. C. B.

Tremans, Horsted Keynes,

December 26, 1914.


CONTENTS

I

HARE STREET

Garden--House--Rooms--Tapestry--Hare Street Discovered--A Hidden Treasure


II

CHILDHOOD

Birth--The Chancery--Beth


III

TRURO

Lessons--Early Verses--Physical Sensitiveness--A Secret Society--My Father--A Puppet-Show


IV

BOYHOOD

First Schooldays--Eton--Religious Impressions--A Colleger


V

AT WREN'S

Sunday Work--Artistic Temperament--Liturgy--Ritual--Artistic Nature


VI

CAMBRIDGE

Mountain--climbing--Genealogy--Economy--Hypnotism--The Call--My Mother--Nelly


VII

LLANDAFF

Dean Vaughan--Community Life--Ordained Deacon


VIII

THE ETON MISSION

Hackney Wick--Boys' Clubs--Preaching--My Father's Death


IX

KEMSING AND MIRFIELD

Development--Mirfield--The Community--Sermons--Preaching


X

THE CHANGE

Leaving Mirfield--Considerations--Argument-- Discussion--Roddy--Consultation


XI

THE DECISION

Anglicanism--Individualism--Asceticism--A Centre of Unity--Liberty and Discipline-- Catholicism--The Surrender--Reception--Rome


XII

CAMBRIDGE AGAIN

Llandaff House--Our Companionship--Rudeness--The Catholic Rectory--Spiritual Direction-- Mystery-Plays--Retirement


XIII

HARE STREET

Ken--Engagements--Christmas--Visits


XIV

AUTHORSHIP

The Light Invisible--His Books--Methods of Writing--Love of Writing--The Novels


XV

FAILING HEALTH

Illness--Medical advice--Pneumonia


XVI

THE END

Manchester--Last Illness--Last Hours--Anxiety--Last Words--Passing on


XVII

BURIAL

His Papers--After-Thoughts--The Bond of Love


XVIII

PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS

Courage--Humour--Manliness--Stammering-- Eagerness--Independence--Forward


XIX

RETROSPECT

Boyhood--Vocation--Independence--Self-Discipline


XX

ATTAINMENT

Priesthood--Self-Devotion--Sympathy--Power--Energy


XXI

TEMPERAMENT

Courtesy--Chivalry--Fearlessness--Himself

"Then said _Great-heart to Mr. _Valiant-for-Truth_, Thou hast worthily behaved thyself. Let me see thy Sword. So he shewed it him. When he had taken it in his hand, and looked thereon a while, he said, _Ha, it is a right Jerusalem Blade!_"

The Pilgrim's Progress.

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