'I quite agree with you that it is very disagreeable to grow old, and I have always thought that if I had been Providence I would have made life begin with dotage and decrepitude, and go on freshening and improving to a primal death. But as I am a humble individual, and not Providence, I make up my mind to things as they are.

Neither old women nor old men can hope to be loved amorously or sentimentally, whatever other love they may obtain. I confess that for long years the ruling feeling of my life was a love of women, and a desire to be loved by them, not exactly with a passionate love, but with a love having in it some touch of amorous sentiment. It was for this that I chiefly valued my youth, my intellect, my celebrity, and whatever else I possessed that might help me to it. And it was through loving women, "not wisely but too well," that I made myself unpopular both with men and women; for I cared nothing about men, and they saw it and resented it, and yet women are in the hands of men, and he who would be popular with women should take care first to get men's good word. Even if I had taken count of this in time perhaps I should not have taken heed to it, for I was rather reckless and heedless in my youth, and more disposed to trust to Fortune than to take means, and perhaps I had also a sort of latent consciousness that what I desired was not good for me, and thus was I, in the absence of better safeguards From social snares with ease Saved by that gracious gift, inaptitude to please.

'Youth is dead and gone at eight-and-twenty, and one may mourn it for a year or two then; but at thirty it is time to rise and eat bread, and after fifty one no more desires to be young than one desires to be the Archangel Michael or Henry VIII. One does not desire it because one cannot conceive it. The past is so long past that it is past being a subject for regret; and as to the future, one has to look forward to losing one's eyes and ears and brains and some of the powers of one's stomach, but one has not the loss of youth to look forward to, and that is one source of sadness removed - and to me it used to be, thirty or forty years ago, a source of sadness; for I was very fond of my youth, and cared more for it than for eyes, ears, brains, stomach, and all the rest. Now they have a fair share of my regard, and I shall be sorry for their decay. I think you make too much of my imagination as a resource. It is true that from time to time I join a party of phantoms, and find them pleasant to live with on the whole, though they sometimes give me a good deal cf trouble, and at other times wear my nerves a little. But my main resource is in my business. Acting to a purpose with steadiness and regularity is the best support to the spirits and the surest protection against sad thoughts. Realities can contend with realities better than phantoms can . . . For the rest, Sydney Smith's precept is "Take short views of life." Henry Taylor expressed the same thing:

Foresight is a melancholy gift Which bares the bald and speeds the all-too-swift.

'To invest one's personal interests in the day that is passing, and to project one's future interests into the children that are growing up, is the true policy of self-love in the decline of life, and as commendable a policy as it is in the nature of self-love to adopt.'

I have recommended no books for girls. The question is much too big a one. But I cannot refrain from saying that within the compass of one small book I know nothing that comes up in wisdom and sagacity to Emerson's essays called 'The Conduct of Life' and 'society and Solitude.' He says: 'Youth has an access of sensibility before which every object glitters and attracts. We leave one pursuit for another, and the young man's year is a heap of beginnings. At the end of a twelvemonth he has nothing to show for it, not one completed work. But the time is not lost.' If this is true of young men, it is doubly true of young women. Every experience is a growth, and every growth tends towards completion of life rightly understood. There should never be hopelessness and despair, whatever happens. The future is always ours, to conquer and make noble. No one can really crush us. Trodden under foot, if we choose we may rise again better, even nobler, than all the fortunate ones around us. It all depends on ourselves. That is why I admire Mr. George Moore's 'Esther Waters' almost above all modern novels, although Messrs. Smith & Son, whose stalls are covered with translations of French novels, refused to sell it.

In spite of age and experience, I feel that on all these difficult subjects I have said very little that can be of use to anybody. There is no receipt by which we can regulate our lives. 'As our day is, so shall our strength be' is a fact to those who train their natures to meet with courage the difficulties as they arise.

One of our old divines states that 'Our infancy is full of folly; youth, of disorder and toil; age, of infirmity. Each time hath his burden, and that which may justly work our weariness; yet infancy longeth after youth; and youth after more age; and he that is very old, as he is a child for simplicity, so he would be for years. I account old age the best of the three, partly for that it has passed through the folly and disorder of the others; partly, for that the inconveniences of this are but bodily, with a bettered estate of the mind; and partly, for that it is nearest to dissolution.' I wish I could agree with Bishop Hall, but I do not. I very often feel that quite the worst part of old age is that it brings us so near to dissolution. My sympathies all remain with the young, and I only feel at times inclined to cry out with Thomas Moore:

Give me back, give me back the wild freshness of Morning; Her clouds and her tears are worth Evening's best light.

I fear everyone will think this is not at all as it should be; and I only feel it sometimes, and perhaps even that won't last.

This is good-bye, dear reader. Collecting these notes has given me pleasure and also cost me trouble. I cannot do better than close them by quoting what were almost the last lines ever written by my kind friend and brother-in-law, Owen Meredith. I owe him as large a debt of gratitude as one human being can owe another. It was due to his friendly advice and his kind encouragement that my mind was saved from that sense of failure and disappointment so common - to women, at any rate - in middle life. He taught me how all ages have their advantages, and gave me courage to go on learning even to the end. He always seemed able to see the line of the other shore with a brightness not granted to me:

My songs flit away on the wing:

They are fledged with a smile or a sigh:

And away with the songs that I sing Flit my joys, and my sorrows, and I.

For time, as it is, cannot stay:

Nor again, as it was, can it be: Disappearing and passing away

Are the world, and the ages, and we.

Gone, even before we can go,

Is our past, with its passions forgot,

The dry tears of its wept-away woe, And its laughters that gladden us not.

The builder of heaven and of earth

Is our own fickle fugitive breath: As it comes in the moment of birth,

So it goes in the moment of death.

As the years were before we began,

Shall the years be when we are no more: And between them the years of a man

A e as waves the wind drives to the shore.

Back into the Infinite tend

The creations that out of it start:

Unto every beginning an end,

And whatever arrives shall depart.

But I and my songs, for a while, As together away on the wing

We are borne with a sigh or a smile, Have been given this message to sing The Now is an atom of sand,

And the Near is a perishing clod:

But Afar is as Faery Land,

And Beyond is the bosom of God.

By The Same Author

Eighteenth Edition. Large Crown 8vo. 7s. 6d.

Pot=Pourri from a Surrey


With an Appendix by Lady Constance Lytton.

Dean Hole, in an article upon the work in the Nineteenth Century, says: - 'There is not time for further enjoyment of this sweet, spicy "Pot-Pourri"; no space for further extracts from this clever and comprehensive book; only for two more earnest words to the reader - Buy it.'