The Life of William Morris Volume I Chapter II

The Life of William Morris Volume I Chapter II is in The Life of William Morris Volume I.

Oxford 1853-1855

Between Oxford of the early fifties and Oxford of the present day there lies a gap which is imperfectly measured by the change, vast as that is, which forty-five years have brought over the whole of England. The home of lost causes and impossible loyalties was on the eve of startling revolutions ; but it still clung to the past with obstinate tenacity, and prided itself on keeping behind the material and intellectual movement of the age. The long struggle which the University had carried on against the intrusion of a railway within ten miles of their sacred precinct typifies a contest which was being carried on, perhaps on neither side with a full understanding of the issues involved, in a much wider and more various field. The opening of the railway line between Oxford and Didcot in June, 1844, and the announcement by Lord John Russell's Government, in May, 1850, of the appointment of the University Commission, are the two great landmarks which separate the old Oxford, the stronghold or sleeping-place of a belated yet still living mediaevalism, from the new Oxford, which, for good or bad, has plunged into the modern movement and ranged itself alongside of the modern world.

The Oxford in which Morris and Burne-Jones began their residence at the end of January, 1853, was still in all its main aspect a mediaeval city, and the name (in Morris's own beautiful words) roused, as it might have done at any time within the four centuries then ended, "a vision of grey-roofed houses and a long winding street, and the sound of many bells." The railway was there, but had not yet produced its far-reaching effects. From all other sides: down the plunging slope of Headington; along the seven-bridged Bath and Gloucester Road, where it trails through the marshes from the skirts of Cumnor ; across the Yarnton meadows ; over the low stone hills, with their grey villages, that enfold the valley of the Cherwell, one still approached it as travellers had done for hundreds of years, and saw its towers rise among masses of foliage straight out of the girdle of meadow or orchard, " On all sides except where it touched the railway," writes Sir Edward Burne-Jones, "the city came to an end abruptly as if a wall had been about it, and you came suddenly upon the meadows. There was little brick in the city; it was either grey with stone, or yellow with the wash of the pebble-cast in the poorer streets, where there were still many old houses with wood carving, and a little sculpture here and there." Instead of all the meshes of suburb, hideous in gaunt brickwork and blue slate, that now envelop three sides of Oxford, there were but two outlying portions. These still remain distinguishable among the environing changes: the little faubourgs of St. Clement's beyond Magdalen Bridge, and St. Thomas's beyond the bailey-gate of the Castle, each with its tiny High Street and its inconspicuous corporate life. A few streets of small houses had grown up round the Clarendon Press since its establishment in the remote meadows beyond Worcester. Children gathered violets on the Iffley Road within sight of Magdalen. Within the city the modern rage of building had barely begun. The colleges stood much as they had done since the great building epoch of last century, which enriched Oxford with the church of All Saints, the new buildings of Magdalen, and the façade of Queen's. The University Museum was projected, but not yet begun ; beyond the grey garden walls of St. John's and Wadham all was unbroken country, and the large residential suburb and the immense pleasure ground that take their name from Fairfax's artillery parks were meadows and market gardens. The Taylorian Institute and Galleries in Beaumont Street, not then overshadowed by the sprawling bulk of the Randolph Hotel, were the only new buildings in Oxford of any importance. The common street architecture was still largely that of the fifteenth century.

Nor in its inner life did Oxford retain less of an old- world air, and of fashions and ideas that had lingered out of an earlier day. But the continuity of life and thought is measured by decades where that of buildings is by centuries; and the furthest tradition that survived in the colleges was that of the stagnant sterility of the eighteenth century. Routh, who had known Dr. Johnson, still retained the presidency of Magdalen, to which he had been elected before the French monarchy had been abolished by the Revolution. During the second half of his long headship the Oxford movement had come and gone. Reaching its climax about the year 1840, it had begun its decline after the secession of Newman in October, 1845, and though it still continued a force of prodigious importance, other movements were ranging up alongside of it, and it was suffering the law of all mutable things. The very life and expansive force of the movement, which made Oxford a missionary centre for the whole country, had laid Oxford itself open to invasion by the outer world and by new ideas. Reform was everywhere in the air. A formidable Liberal reaction had set in, dire6ted almost equally against the pretensions of the Anglo-Catholic school and the privileges of the old-established system. Congreve had founded a small but ardent school of Comtists at Wadham. Jowett had become the leading force at Balliol, and was thought certain of the reversion of the master- ship. The younger fellows of Oriel were nearly all advanced Liberals. Oxford had at a thousand points become inextricably attached to the outer world. The railway mania of 1846, when gambling in shares became more exciting than theological controversy, is said to have completed the work begun by the shock of Newman's secession. Left to itself, Oxford would have slipped back into the lethargy out of which it had been so un- willingly awakened by the Tractarian movement. But it was too late. The ferment struck roots deep. The modern city, with its tramways and electric lighting, its whirlwind of building up and pulling down, its tragi-comedies of extension arid modernization, is the realized effect of a vast and complex body of influences which were then seething under the surface. Still the Oxford of 1853 breathed from its towers the last enchantments of the Middle Ages ; and still it offered to its most ardent disciples, who came to it as to some miraculous place, full of youthful enthusiasm, thirsting after knowledge and beauty, the stony welcome that Gibbon had found at Magdalen, that Shelley had found at University, in the days of the ancient order.

The year which had elapsed since Morris left Marlborough had not only loosened his connexion, slight as that in any case was, with the society of his schoolfellows and the common routine through which the schoolboy passes into the undergraduate, but had matured his mind and widened his knowledge to a degree which represents the normal growth of many years in an ordinary mind. " I arrived at Oxford," says Gibbon in the Autobiography, " with a stock of erudition that might have puzzled a doctor, and a degree of ignorance of which a schoolboy would have been ashamed." Morris's book-knowledge, born of extraordinary swiftness in reading and an amazing memory, was almost as portentous and no doubt as incomplete. " Just as in after years, in the thick of his work," Sir Edward Burne-Jones says, " it was noticeable how he never seemed to be particularly busy, and how he had plenty of leisure for expeditions, for fishing, for amusement, if it amused him ; he never seemed to read much, but always knew, and accurately ; and he had a great instinct at all times for knowing what would not amuse him, and what not to read."

For such a self-centred nature, already accustomed to take its own views of things, the ordinary college life, the ordinary undergraduate society, had little attraction. The numbers of Exeter were then about one hundred and twenty, and the college buildings were over-full. Even when Morris and Burne-Jones were allowed to come up they had to go into lodgings for their first two terms. No undergraduate was then allowed to spend the night out of college in any circumstances: and the over-crowding was met by making freshmen lodge out during the day, and sleep in the third room of sets belonging to seniors, on whom they were billeted for this purpose. This curious and cumbrous arrangement was of course equally distasteful to senior and freshman, and threw the latter still more on himself, if he had any tendency that way.

Notwithstanding its popularity and its increasing numbers, the internal condition of the college was far from satisfactory. " There was neither teaching nor discipline," is the sweeping verdict of a contemporary of Morris who afterwards rose to high academic distinction. The rector. Dr. Richards, was ill and non-resident. The only one of the fellows who was at all friendly or encouraging was Ridding, the present Bishop of Southwell, who had brought a more energetic tradition with him from Balliol. Morris's own tutor contented him- self with seeing that he attended lectures on the prescribed books for the schools, and noted him in his pupil-book as "a rather rough and unpolished youth, who exhibited no special literary tastes or capacity, but had no difficulty in mastering the usual subjects of examination." It is proper to add that this vague supervision was then regarded as sufficient fulfilment of a college tutor's duty, and that his college tutor is the last person in the world to whom an undergraduate thinks of communicating his inner thoughts or his literary enthusiasms.

The undergraduates at Exeter were divided, more sharply than is now the case at any college, into two classes. On the one hand were the reading men, immersed in the details of classical scholarship or scholastic theology ; the rest of the college rowed, hunted, ate and drank largely, and often sank at Oxford into a coarseness of manners and morals distasteful and distressing in the highest degree to a boy whose instinctive delicacy and purity of mind were untouched by any of the flaws of youth. Of the average college lecture some notion may be formed from a letter written early in 1854 by one of Morris's intimate friends, who shared many of his tastes.

"As for lectures, I have long since ceased to hope that I should learn anything at them which I did not know before. Imagine yourself ushered into a large room comfortably provided with chairs and a large centre table. The men take their places round it, and the lecturer, looking up from his easy chair by the fireside, exclaims, 'Will you go on, Mr. -?' The approved crib version s then faithfully given, and meanwhile most other men are getting, by heart or otherwise, Bohn's translation of the next piece. When No. 1 has concluded, the lecturer asks benignly, 'Dum governs two moods, doesn't it?' 'Yes.' 'It governs the subjunctive sometimes, doesn't it?' 'Yes.' 'Is qui ever used with the subjunctive?' 'It is, isn't it?' 'Yes.' 'Very well, very well' Mr. Will you go on, Mr. ? 'Haven't read it.' 'Oh, never mind then; you go on, Mr. , will you?' and when the crib has been deposited in the hands of a neighbour, in order that any requisite emendations may be whispered into the man's ear, the lecture proceeds. At some awful blunder, up jumps the lecturer, and after a long yawning pause, mildly breaks forth, 'Well, yer know, I should hardly think you'd take it in that way, yer know. Mr. , will you just translate that passage?' (Another crib version is given.) 'Precisely so, precisely so ; quite right, quite right, Mr. .' And so we gradually limp through a page or two which none of the men has bestowed ten minutes upon, and leave the room for another exhibition of crib-repetition.'

The wit here is not untouched with malice ; but the sketch shows the impression made by the routine of college lectures on a sensitive, enthusiastic boy who had come to Oxford full of hopes and longings, and prepared to find in it the realization of all his school dreams. The effect was such as Morris himself at all events never got over: to the end of his life the educational system and the intellectual life of modern Oxford were matters as to which he remained bitterly prejudiced, and the name of "Don" was used by him as a synonym for all that was narrow, ignorant, and pedantic.

Morris and Burne-Jones made each other's acquaintance within the first two or three days of their first term. At first sight each found in the other a kindred and complemental spirit. Within a week they were inseparable friends, with that complete and unreserved friendship which is the greatest of all the privileges that Oxford life has to bestow. " We went almost daily walks together," Sir Edward writes. "Gloomy disappointment and disillusion were settling down on me in this first term's experience of Oxford. The place was languid and indifferent ; scarcely anything was left to shew that it had passed through such an excited time as ended with the secession of Newman. So we compared our thoughts together upon these things and went angry walks together in the afternoons and sat together in the evenings reading. From the first I knew how different he was from all the men I had ever met. He talked with vehemence, and sometimes with violence. I never knew him languid or tired. He was slight in figure in those days ; his hair was dark brown and very thick, his nose straight, his eyes hazel-coloured, his mouth exceedingly delicate and beautiful. Before many weeks were past in our first term there were but three or four men in the whole college whom we visited or spoke to. But at Pembroke there was a little Birmingham colony, and with them we con- sorted when we wanted more company than our own. In a corner of the old quadrangle there, on the ground floor, were the rooms of Faulkner, learned in mathematics and the physical sciences, not so learned in theology, since, in spite of great distinction and University scholarships, he was once plucked because he included Isaiah in the number of the twelve apostles. Dixon, an old school- fellow of mine and the only poet in our school, had rooms at the top of the same staircase, and upon the opposite side of the quadrangle lived Fulford, our senior by about two years, a man then full of energy and enthusiasm. But our common room was invariably Faulkner's, where about nine of the evening Morris and I would often stroll down together, and settle once for all how all people should think."

It was among this Birmingham group, Fulford, Burne-Jones, Faulkner, and Dixon, together with Cormell Price and Harry Macdonald, who came up to Oxford from King Edward's School a little later, that Morris mainly spent his time: and it was they who, together with Godfrey Lushington of Balliol, and Vernon Lushington and Wilfred Heeley of Trinity College, Cambridge, joined him three years later in originating and carrying on the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine. The two Lushingtons were a few years senior to the rest of the group: the acquaintance with them was formed through Heeley, who was also a King Edward's School boy. He was a man of brilliant parts and amiable nature, whose career in India was cut short by an early death. With this Birmingham group Morris, from his first term at Oxford, was much more closely intimate than with his old Marlborough acquaintance. Such of these last as were at Exeter were, with the exception of W. F. Adams, now Vicar of Little Faringdon, and for many years a neighbour of Morris at Kelmscott, in completely different sets ; and for the others, the isolation of one college from another was too great for ordinary school acquaintance to be long kept up without some farther attachment of congenial tastes. Mr. Bliss, Morris's fellow-pupil at Walthamstow, tells me that he dined with him at Magdalen now and then, and that they used to play fives together at the racquet-courts. But this was almost a solitary exception to the self-centred isolation in which the small group habitually lived. Within the group, Fulford, from his two years' seniority, and his super-abundant volubility and energy, at first took a position of some dominance. He was one of those minds which reach a precocious maturity and quickly exhaust themselves. He had left King Edward's School with an immense reputation among his schoolfellows, which his subsequent performances did little to justify. By the time he left Oxford his friends had already taken his measure, and sighed over an extinct brilliance. But in this circle of undergraduates, distracted among a thousand divergent interests of theology, social problems, art, literature, and history, his genuine and exclusive devotion to pure literature powerfully helped to keep that interest prominent ; and Morris's own first essays, both in prose and verse, though from the first moment he far out- stripped his model, to some degree owed their origin to Fulford's influence.

Within, and yet above or apart from the rest of this group, the two Exeter undergraduates lived in undivided intimacy and unremitting intellectual tension. In the Michaelmas term of 1853 they moved into rooms in college. Morris's (age 19) rooms were in the little quadrangle affectionately known among Exeter men as Hell Quad, with windows overlooking the small but beautiful Fellows' garden, the immense chestnut tree that overspreads Brasenose Lane, and the grey masses of the Bodleian Library. There the long nights set in to crown the long days. On the first night of one of their terms in college, after Burne-Jones (age 20) had arrived late from Birmingham, and had supper, " presently Morris (age 19) came tumbling in," he wrote home next day, " and talked incessantly for the next seven hours or longer." The two read together omnivorously. At first it was chiefly in theology, ecclesiastical history, and ecclesiastical archaeology. Morris early started the habit of reading aloud to Burne-Jones (age 20) — he could not bear to be read aloud to himself — which continued throughout their lives. Among the works thus read through were Neale's ''History of the Eastern Church," Milman's "Latin Christianity," great portions of the " Adla Sanctorum," and of the "Tracts for the Times," Gibbon, Sismondi, and masses of mediaeval chronicles and ecclesiastical Latin poetry. Kenelm Digby's " Mores Catholici " was another book which both read independently; their admiration for it was a thing of which they felt a little ashamed, and which for a time they concealed from each other. Archdeacon Wilberforce's treatises on the Eucharist, Baptism, and the Incarnation, were deeply studied, and Morris was within a little of following Wilberforce's example when he joined the Roman communion in 1854. But alongside of this course of reading, which might be regarded as professional in young men destined for the Church, grew up more and more overpoweringly a wider interest in his- tory, mythology, poetry, and art. Morris arrived at Oxford already familiar with Tennyson and with the two volumes then published of "Modern Painters." One of Burne-Jones (age 20)'s earliest recollections of his first term was of Morris reading aloud "The Lady of Shalott" in the curious half-chanting voice, with immense stress laid on the rhymes, which always remained his method of reading poetry, whether his own or that of others. Ruskin became for both of them a hero and a prophet, and his position was more than ever secured by the appearance of "The Stones of Venice" in 1853. The famous chapter "Of the Nature of Gothic," long afterwards lovingly reprinted by Morris as one of the earliest productions of the Kelmscott Press, was a new gospel and a fixed creed. Curiously enough, in the case of passionate Anglo-Catholics, Kingsley was read much more than Newman, and Carlyle's "Past and Present " stood alongside of "Modern Painters " as inspired and absolute truth. Before Morris had been a year at Oxford the acquiescence of unquestioning faith was being exchanged or a turmoil of new enthusiasms. Burne-Jones (age 20) had come to Oxford already saturated with Shakespeare and Keats, and full of the fascination of the Celtic and Scandinavian mythologies. The Pembroke group, together with the rest of their college, which throughout the Anglo-Catholic revival had remained steadfast to the older Evangelicalism, stood apart from the Tractarian movement, and were full of enthusiasm for modern and secular literature: Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, in poetry ; Carlyle, De Quincey, Thackeray, Dickens, in prose. Thorpe's "Northern Mythology," to which he was introduced by Burne-Jones (age 20), opened to Morris a new world, which in later life became, perhaps, his deepest love, that of the great Scandinavian Epic. His other lifelong passion, that for the thirteenth century in all its works and ways, grew not only on the unremitting study of mediaeval architecture, but on a rapid and prodigious assimilation of mediæval chronicles and romances. But the two books which afterwards stood with him high and apart beyond all others, Chaucer and Malory, were as yet unknown to him ; nor, until it was first brought within their knowledge by the appearance, in 1854, of Ruskin's "Edinburgh Lectures," had either he or Burne-Jones (age 20) heard of the name of Rossetti, or of the existence of that Pre-Raphaelite school from which they received, and to which they imparted, so profound an influence.

Before this, however, art was taking a place alongside of literature in Morris's daily life, under the combined influence of his delight in architecture, his natural dexterity of hand, and the companionship of Burne-Jones, whose drawings, then chiefly of a fantastic nature, had already made him a reputation among his schoolfellows at Birmingham. "There was not a boy in the school," one of them writes, "who did not possess at least one of 'Jones's devils.' "Merton Chapel, one of Morris's special haunts, had lately been renovated by Butterfield ; and the beautiful painted roof had been executed by Hungerford. Pollen, a former fellow of the college. The application of colour to architecture was then a starting novelty, and young architects were making it their business to learn painting. Morris's study of "The Builder" newspaper, which he took in regularly, alternated with the study of mediaeval design and colouring in the painted manuscripts displayed in the Bodleian. One of these, a splendid Apocalypse of the thirteenth century, became his ideal book. Forty years later he went to Oxford to spend a day in studying it, and looked over it with greater knowledge but unimpaired satisfaction. He was constantly drawing windows, arches, and gables in his books ; and even in his letters of this time, where the pen had paused, there comes a half unconscious scribble of floriated ornament. Burne-Jones had already found in drawing from nature a relief from the burden of theological perplexities, and spent whole days in Bagley Wood making minute and elaborate studies of flowers and foliage. Morris's rooms were full of rubbings which he had taken from mediaeval brasses. But the great pictorial art of Italy and Flanders was as yet unknown to either. "Of painting," writes Sir Edward Burne-Jones, "we knew nothing. It was before the time when photographs made all the galleries of Europe accessible, and what would have been better a thousand times for us, the wall paintings of Italy. Indeed it would be difficult to make any one understand the dearth of things dear to us in which we lived ; and matters that are now well known to cultivated people, and commonplaces in talk, were then impossible for us to know." Giotto, Angelico, Van Eyck, Dürer, names which a little later became of capital importance to Morris, were then wholly unknown to him. The reproductions of the Arundel Society were just beginning to be issued ; but at present all that he knew of Pre-Raphaelite Italian art was from one or two pictures in the Taylorian Museum, and the rude woodcuts in Ruskin's Handbook to the Arena Chapel at Padua. Among the most immediately stimulating of the books which he and Burne-Jones fell in with at Oxford was a translation of Fouque's "Sintram," prefixed to which was a woodcut copy of Dürer's engraving of the Knight and Death. Poorly executed as it was, this fired their imagination, and hours were spent in poring over it.

The romances of Fouqué, which supplied Morris with the germ of his own early tales, became known to him through another book which exercised an extraordinary fascination over the whole of the group, and in which much of the spiritual history of those years may be found prefigured, "The Heir of Redclyffe." In this book, more than in any other, may be traced the religious ideals and social enthusiasms which were stirring in the years between the decline of Tractarianism and the Crimean War. The young hero of the novel, with his over- strained conscientiousness, his chivalrous courtesy, his intense earnestness, his eagerness for all such social re- forms as might be effected from above downwards, his high-strung notions of love, friendship, and honour, his premature gravity, his almost deliquescent piety, was adopted by them as a pattern for actual life: and more strongly perhaps by Morris than by the rest, from his own greater wealth and more aristocratic temper. Yet Canon Dixon, in mentioning this book as the first which seemed to him greatly to influence Morris, pronounces it, after nearly half a century's reflection and experience, as "unquestionably one of the finest books in the world."

The following reminiscences, contributed by Canon Dixon, of the early years of the "set" as they then called themselves, before this name was replaced by that of the "brotherhood," draw a vivid picture of the life lived among them.

"I matriculated at Pembroke College, Oxford, in June, 1851, and began residence in the October term following, leaving behind me in the Birmingham School Edward Burne-Jones, Edwin Hatch, and Cormell Price.

"At Pembroke I found two Birmingham School men, whom I had known distantly at the school, Richard Whitehouse and William Fulford. As soon as I came up, Fulford called on me, after I had been solitary two or three days. I can still hear his step running up the stairs: and his greeting as he came in. He was a very little fellow, very strong and active, very clever, and immensely vivacious. We immediately fell upon poetry: and he read me a poem, 'In Youth I died,' which afterwards appeared in the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine. He asked me to breakfast next morning: and at his rooms then I met another man of Birmingham, though not of Birmingham School, Charles Joseph Faulkner. We three became very intimate. Faulkner was rather younger than I, though he had been in residence at least one term when I first knew him. His rooms were on the same staircase as mine: his at the bottom on one side, mine at the top on the other, in the north- east corner of Pembroke old quad.

"Fulford this term and after became extremely intimate with me. He was at least a year beyond my standing: but I could not find that he had any intimates before I came. He seemed to have had no set. How- ever, he, Faulkner, and I soon made up a small set, and were constantly together. Fulford had great critical insight, and extraordinary power of conversation. His literary principles were early fixed. He was absolutely devoured with admiration for Tennyson. Shakespeare he knew, and could speak of as few could. Keats the same. (I introduced Keats to him: he had never heard of him before.) Shelley the same. He never changed much from the first three of these.

" Faulkner was, of course, wholly different: a great mathematician, who carried everything in Oxford. I suppose he must have had an original mind in mathematics, though he never made a noted discovery. He was not particularly of literary taste, I think, except so far as it must belong to a powerful mind.

"Next term, I think it was, Burne-Jones came up to Exeter: and William Morris was a freshman of the same term and college. Calling on Burne-Jones, we all became directly acquainted with Morris ; and in no long time, composed one set, Jones and Morris were both meant for Holy Orders: and the same may be said of the rest of us, except Faulkner: but this could not be called the bond of alliance. The bond was poetry and indefinite artistic and literary aspiration: but not of a selfish character, or rather, not of a self-seeking character. We all had the notion of doing great things for man: in our own way, however: according to our own will and bent.

" At first Morris was regarded by the Pembroke men simply as a very pleasant boy (the least of us was senior by a term to him) who was fond of talking, which he did in a husky shout, and fond of going down the river with Faulkner, who was a good boating man. He was very fond of sailing a boat. He was also extremely fond of singlestick, and a good fencer. In no long time, however, the great characters of his nature began to impress us. His fire and impetuosity, great bodily strength, and high temper were soon manifested: and were sometimes astonishing. As, e.g. his habit of beating his own head, dealing himself vigorous blows, to take it out of himself I think it was he who brought in singlestick. I remember him offering to 'teach the cuts and guards.' But his mental qualities, his intellect, also began to be perceived and acknowledged. I remember Faulkner remarking to me, 'How Morris seems to know things, doesn't he?' And then it struck me that it was so. I observed how decisive he was: how accurate, without any effort or formality: what an extraordinary power of observation lay at the base of many of his casual or incidental remarks, and how many things he knew that were quite out of our way ; as, e.g., architecture. One of the first things he ever said to me was to ask me to go with him to look at Merton tower.

"At this time Fulford had a sort of leadership among us. This was partly due to his seniority: partly to his intense vivacity: partly to his Tennysonianism, in which we shared with greater moderation, and in different ways. It is difficult to the present generation to understand the Tennysonian enthusiasm which then prevailed both in Oxford and the world. All reading men were Tennysonians: all sets of reading men talked poetry. Poetry was the thing: and it was felt with justice that this was due to Tennyson. Tennyson had invented a new poetry, a new poetic English: his use of words was new, and every piece that he wrote was a conquest of a new region. This lasted till 'Maud,' in 1855; which was his last poem that mattered. I am told that in this generation no University man cares for poetry. This is almost inconceivable to one who remembers Tennyson's reign and his reception in the Sheldonian in '55. There was the general conviction that Tennyson was the greatest poet of the century: some held him the greatest of all poets, or at least of all modern poets. In my time at Oxford there were two other men who, without touching him, obtained an immense momentary vogue, which has never been equalled since, perhaps, unless by Swinburne, or by Morris himself. These were Alexander Smith, whose 'Life Drama' was in every one's hands, and caused an immense sensation ; and Owen Meredith (Lytton), in the 'Clytemnestra ' volume containing 'The Earl's Return.' Morris was delighted with this, especially with the incident of the Earl draining a flagon of wine, and then flinging it at the head of him that brought it.