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Frank Leward: Memorials

Bampton to Frank

Bampton to Frank.

Garden Court, Temple, London, May 1, 1851.

Dear old Man,—Saunders told me he had written to you, so I thought it unnecessary especially as there is not much news except what you will see in the papers about six mounths after the events they record. I am never quite certain either that anything I write will reach you. I send this to San Francisco perhaps if you have left California they will send it after you. The great Exhibition is the great topic of conversation here, opened to-day. A frightfully ugly building in Hyde Park spoiling the look of my only exercising ground, and filled with all manner of ugly things. Old Sibthorpe of Lincoln has been abusing it in the House splendidly, he is one of those who are said to be behind the age, and so he is a long way too, and I wish I was still further as far as art is concerned, for if competition is to be the page 195motive power of art one must give up hopes of beauty, and without beauty I know not of what use art can be. You know I am not a Tory. I am sometimes charged with being a utilitarian, and in many ways I am one, but if this must be a utilitarian age, and there is no use running your head against the spirit of the time, all the more need of hightest art and truest beauty to come in to gladden what would otherwise be a sorry world indeed. Now to get true art and highest beauty we must look to the past To the present and the future perhaps for our utilitarianisms and sciences, but for the elevating forms which we want more than ever, and must go on wanting more and more, for that we must look to the past, and to recall even in the faintest way the vanished beauty of old times we should endeavour to imitate the spirit which inspired it. That was not the spirit of great Exhibitions and emulation but of quiet thought and true holiness. "There can be no music in the soul of a man who is sinful" said an old monk whose old book on music I happened to come across once, so there can be no beauty in competitive exhibitions. Very useful perhaps for machinery, and many modern useful manufactures, for drains and chemicals and such like, but when your painter your decorator your sculptor or your architect exhibits in a Crystal Palace side by side with his rival, the result is a mediæval court debased statuary and a vulgar glass fountain.

I got a ticket however for the opening and saw the lords and potentates of earth from our Queen downwards and heard some execrable music. It has been a page 196beautiful day and coming away rather tired and weary, of it all, through the park swarming with people of all nations, I met Macaulay who was good enough to stop to speak to me. He was walking with a great swell of the beau monde one Greville by name, Punch Greville, called by his familiar friends and clerk to the Privy Council—a man who knows everybody living, and has known many people who are dead and sometimes well-nigh forgotten. He is going they say some day to publish his experiences, and some expect we shall read of not a few funny things.

I had not seen Macaulay to speak to since I met him last in poor Charles Buller's rooms three years ago shortly before his death and I didn't suppose he would remember me. However he greeted me most affec-tionately, recollected exactly where we had met before, and spoke of our friend and of all the hopes that lie buried in his grave. I walked with my head somewhat higher after talking with the great-little common-looking man. It was amusing to see Greville listening to him something like Boswell and Johnson.

I have not much time to write now but to-day is a holiday. I am as busy as possible, overdone with work. I have only time to send you these few lines to show you we often think of you, not that I suppose you want any evidence of that. I am such a big person now I keep a horse and ride in the Park every morning before breakfast, it's the only exercise I can get. To-morrow is your birthday indeed perhaps as where you are you are a day different to us they say, and things get so altered when page 197people like you go so far away, it may be your birthday now; whether it is or not and whenever it may be that you may have many happy ones, happier in the future than I fear they have been lately in the past dear old man and that before long we may meet again is the frequent hope of your old friend,

C. A. B.