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Memoirs of Arthur Hamilton, B. A. Of Trinity College, Cambridge Extracted From His Letters And Diaries, With Reminiscences Of His Conversation By His Friend Christopher Carr Of The Same College   By: (1862-1925)

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Etext preparer's note: This text was first published anonymously in 1886.


Extracted from his letters and diaries, with reminiscences of his conversation by his friend CHRISTOPHER CARR of the same college

By Arthur Christopher Benson

"Pro jucundis aptissima quaeque dabunt di; Carior est illis homo quam sibi." Juvenal


To H. L. M.

My dear Friend,

When you were kind enough to allow me to dedicate this book to you—you, to whose frank discussion of sacred things and kindly indifference to exaggerations of expression I owe so much—I felt you were only adding another to the long list of delicate benefits for which a friend can not be directly repaid.

My object has throughout been this: I have seen so much of what may be called the dissidence of religious thought and religious organization among those of my own generation at the Universities, and the unhappy results of such a separation, that I felt bound to contribute what I could to a settlement of this division, existing so much more in word than in fact—a point which you helped me very greatly to grasp.

I have been fortunate enough to have seen and known both sides of the battle. I have seen men in the position of teachers, both anxious and competent to position of teachers, both anxious and competent to settle differences, when brought into contact with men of serious God seeking souls, with the nominal intention of dropping the bandying of words and cries and of attacking principles, meet and argue and part, almost unconscious that they have never touched the root of the matter at all, yet dissatisfied with the efforts which only seem to widen the breach they are intended to fill.

And why? Both sides are to blame, no doubt: the teachers, for being more anxious to expound systems than to listen to difficulties, to make their theories plain than to analyse the theories of their—I will not say adversaries—but opponents; the would be learners, for hasty generalization; for bringing to the conflict a deliberate prejudice against all traditional authority, a want of patience in translating dogmas into life, a tendency to flatly deny that such a transmutation is possible.

Fortunately, the constructive side is in no want of an exponent; but I have tried to give a true portrait in this arrangement, or rather selection, of realities, of what a serious and thoughtful soul history may in these days be: to depict the career of a character for which no one can fail to have the profoundest sympathy, being as it is, by the nature of its case, condemned to a sadder sterner view of life than its uprightness justifies, and deprived of the helpful encouragement of so many sweet natures, whose single aim in life is to help other souls, if they only knew how.

And so, as I said before, it is with a most grateful remembrance of certain gracious words of yours, let fall in the stately house of God where we have worshipped together, in lecture rooms where I have sat to hear you, and in conversations held in quiet college rooms or studious gardens, that I place your name at the head of these pages, the first I have sent out to shift for themselves, or rather to pass whither the Inspirer of all earnest endeavour may appoint.

I remain ever affectionately yours, Christopher Carr. Ashdon, Hants.


There are several forms of temperament. The kind that mostly issues in biography is the practical temperament. Poets have the shortest memoirs, and the most uninteresting. The politician, the philanthropist, the general, make the best, the most graphic Lives. The fact remains, however, that the question, "What has he done?" though a specious, is an unsatisfactory test of greatness.

But there is a temperament called the Reflective, which works slowly, and with little apparent result. The very gift of expression is a practical gift: with the gift of expression the reflective man becomes a writer, a poet, an artist; without it, he is unknown... Continue reading book >>

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