Arthur Helps.

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Arthur Helps was born at Streatham on the 10th of July, 1813. He
went at the age of sixteen to Eton, thence to Trinity College,
Cambridge. Having graduated B.A. in 1835, he became private
secretary to the Hon. T. Spring Rice, who was Chancellor of the
Exchequer in Lord Melbourne's Cabinet, formed in April, 1835. This
was his position at the beginning of the present reign in June,

In 1839 - in which year he graduated M.A. - Arthur Helps was
transferred to the service of Lord Morpeth, who was Irish Secretary
in the same ministry. Lord Melbourne's Ministry was succeeded by
that of Sir Robert Peel in September, 1841, and Helps then was
appointed a Commissioner of French, Danish, and Spanish Claims. In
1841 he published "Essays Written in the Intervals of Business."
Their quiet thoughtfulness was in accord with the spirit that had
given value to his services as private secretary to two ministers of
State. In 1844 that little book was followed by another on "The
Claims of Labour," dealing with the relations of employers to
employed. There was the same scholarly simplicity and grace of
style, the same interest in things worth serious attention. "We
say," he wrote, towards the close, "that Kings are God's Vicegerents
upon Earth; but almost every human being has, at one time or other
of his life, a portion of the happiness of those around him in his
power, which might make him tremble, if he did but see it in all its
fulness." To this book Arthur Helps added an essay "On the Means of
Improving the Health and Increasing the Comfort of the Labouring

His next book was this First Series of "Friends in Council,"
published in 1847, and followed by other series in later years.
There were many other writings of his, less popular than they would
have been if the same abilities had been controlled by less good
taste. His "History of the Conquest of the New World" in 1848, and
of "The Spanish Conquest of America," in four volumes, from 1855 to
1861, preceded his obtaining from his University, in 1864, the
honorary degree of D.C.L. In June, 1860, Arthur Helps was made
Clerk of the Privy Council, and held that office of high trust until
his death on the 7th of March, 1875. He had become Sir Arthur in
H. M.



None but those who, like myself, have once lived in intellectual
society, and then have been deprived of it for years, can appreciate
the delight of finding it again. Not that I have any right to
complain, if I were fated to live as a recluse for ever. I can add
little, or nothing, to the pleasure of any company; I like to listen
rather than to talk; and when anything apposite does occur to me, it
is generally the day after the conversation has taken place. I do
not, however, love good talk the less for these defects of mine; and
I console myself with thinking that I sustain the part of a
judicious listener, not always an easy one.

Great, then, was my delight at hearing last year that my old pupil,
Milverton, had taken a house which had long been vacant in our
neighbourhood. To add to my pleasure, his college friend,
Ellesmere, the great lawyer, also an old pupil of mine, came to us
frequently in the course of the autumn. Milverton was at that time
writing some essays which he occasionally read to Ellesmere and
myself. The conversations which then took place I am proud to say
that I have chronicled. I think they must be interesting to the
world in general, though of course not so much so as to me.

Milverton and Ellesmere were my favourite pupils. Many is the
heartache I have had at finding that those boys, with all their
abilities, would do nothing at the University. But it was in vain
to urge them. I grieve to say that neither of them had any ambition
of the right kind. Once I thought I had stimulated Ellesmere to the
proper care and exertion; when, to my astonishment and vexation,
going into his rooms about a month before an examination, I found
that, instead of getting up his subjects, like a reasonable man, he
was absolutely endeavouring to invent some new method for proving
something which had been proved before in a hundred ways. Over this
he had wasted two days, and from that moment I saw it was useless to
waste any more of my time and patience in urging a scholar so
indocile for the beaten path.

What tricks he and Milverton used to play me, pretending not to
understand my demonstration of some mathematical problem, inventing
all manner of subtle difficulties, and declaring they could not go
on while these stumbling-blocks lay in their way! But I am getting
into college gossip, which may in no way delight my readers. And I
am fancying, too, that Milverton and Ellesmere are the boys they
were to me; but I am now the child to them. During the years that I
have been quietly living here, they have become versed in the ways
of the busy world. And though they never think of asserting their
superiority, I feel it, and am glad to do so.

My readers would, perhaps, like one to tell them something of the
characters of Ellesmere and Milverton; but it would ill become me to
give that insight into them, which I, their college friend and
tutor, imagine I have obtained. Their friendship I could never
understand. It was not on the surface very warm, and their
congeniality seemed to result more from one or two large common
principles of thought than from any peculiar similarity of taste, or
from great affection on either side. Yet I should wrong their
friendship if I were to represent it otherwise than a most true-
hearted one; more so, perhaps, than some of softer texture. What
needs be seen of them individually will be by their words, which I
hope I have in the main retained.

The place where we generally met in fine weather was on the lawn
before Milverton's house. It was an eminence which commanded a
series of valleys sloping towards the sea. And, as the sea was not
more than nine miles off, it was a matter of frequent speculation
with us whether the landscape was bounded by air or water. In the
first valley was a little town of red brick houses, with poplars
coming up amongst them. The ruins of a castle, and some water
which, in olden times, had been the lake in "the pleasaunce," were
between us and the town. The clang of an anvil, or the clamour of a
horn, or busy wheelwright's sounds, came faintly up to us when the
wind was south.

I must not delay my readers longer with my gossip, but bring them at
once into the conversation that preceded our first reading.

- - -

Milverton. I tell you, Ellesmere, these are the only heights I care
to look down from, the heights of natural scenery.

Ellesmere. Pooh! my dear Milverton, it is only because the
particular mounds which the world calls heights, you think you have
found out to be but larger ant-heaps. Whenever you have cared about
anything, a man more fierce and unphilosophical in the pursuit of it
I never saw. To influence men's minds by writing for them, is that
no ambition?

Milverton. It may be, but I have it not. Let any kind critic
convince me that what I am now doing is useless, or has been done
before, or that, if I leave it undone, some one else will do it to
my mind; and I should fold up my papers, and watch the turnips grow
in that field there, with a placidity that would, perhaps, seem very
spiritless to your now restless and ambitious nature, Ellesmere.

Ellesmere. If something were to happen which will not, then - O
Philosophy, Philosophy, you, too, are a good old nurse, and rattle
your rattles for your little people, as well as old Dame World can
do for hers. But what are we to have to-day for our first reading?

Milverton. An Essay on Truth.

Ellesmere. Well, had I known this before, it is not the novelty of
the subject which would have dragged me up the hill to your house.
By the way, philosophers ought not to live upon hills. They are
much more accessible, and I think quite as reasonable, when,
Diogenes-like, they live in tubs upon flat ground. Now for the


Truth is a subject which men will not suffer to grow old. Each age
has to fight with its own falsehoods: each man with his love of
saying to himself and those around him pleasant things and things
serviceable for to-day, rather than the things which are. Yet a
child appreciates at once the divine necessity for truth; never
asks, "What harm is there in saying the thing that is not?" and an
old man finds, in his growing experience, wider and wider
applications of the great doctrine and discipline of truth.

Truth needs the wisdom of the serpent as well as the simplicity of
the dove. He has gone but a little way in this matter who supposes
that it is an easy thing for a man to speak the truth, "the thing he
troweth;" and that it is a casual function, which may be fulfilled
at once after any lapse of exercise. But, in the first place, the
man who would speak truth must know what he troweth. To do that, he
must have an uncorrupted judgment. By this is not meant a perfect
judgment or even a wise one, but one which, however it may be
biassed, is not bought - is still a judgment. But some people's
judgments are so entirely gained over by vanity, selfishness,
passion, or inflated prejudices and fancies long indulged in; or
they have the habit of looking at everything so carelessly, that
they see nothing truly. They cannot interpret the world of reality.
And this is the saddest form of lying, "the lie that sinketh in," as
Bacon says, which becomes part of the character and goes on eating
the rest away.

Again, to speak truth, a man must not only have that martial courage
which goes out, with sound of drum and trumpet, to do and suffer
great things; but that domestic courage which compels him to utter
small sounding truths in spite of present inconvenience and outraged
sensitiveness or sensibility. Then he must not be in any respect a
slave to self-interest. Often it seems as if but a little
misrepresentation would gain a great good for us; or, perhaps, we
have only to conceal some trifling thing, which, if told, might
hinder unreasonably, as we think, a profitable bargain. The true
man takes care to tell, notwithstanding. When we think that truth
interferes at one time or another with all a man's likings, hatings,
and wishes, we must admit, I think, that it is the most
comprehensive and varied form of self-denial.

Then, in addition to these great qualities, truth-telling in its
highest sense requires a well-balanced mind. For instance, much
exaggeration, perhaps the most, is occasioned by an impatient and
easily moved temperament which longs to convey its own vivid
impressions to other minds, and seeks by amplifying to gain the full
measure of their sympathy. But a true man does not think what his
hearers are feeling, but what he is saying.

More stress might be laid than has been on the intellectual
requisites for truth, which are probably the best part of
intellectual cultivation; and as much caused by truth as causing it.
{12} But, putting the requisites for truth at the fewest, see of
how large a portion of the character truth is the resultant. If you
were to make a list of those persons accounted the religious men of
their respective ages, you would have a ludicrous combination of
characters essentially dissimilar. But true people are kindred.
Mention the eminently true men, and you will find that they are a
brotherhood. There is a family likeness throughout them.

If we consider the occasions of exercising truthfulness and descend
to particulars, we may divide the matter into the following heads: -
-truth to oneself - truth to mankind in general - truth in social
relations - truth in business - truth in pleasure.

1. Truth to oneself. All men have a deep interest that each man
should tell himself the truth. Not only will he become a better
man, but he will understand them better. If men knew themselves,
they could not be intolerant to others.

It is scarcely necessary to say much about the advantage of a man
knowing himself for himself. To get at the truth of any history is
good; but a man's own history - when he reads that truly, and,
without a mean and over-solicitous introspection, knows what he is
about and what he has been about, it is a Bible to him. "And David
said unto Nathan, I have sinned before the Lord." David knew the
truth about himself. But truth to oneself is not merely truth about
oneself. It consists in maintaining an openness and justness of
soul which brings a man into relation with all truth. For this, all
the senses, if you might so call them, of the soul must be
uninjured - that is, the affections and the perceptions must be just.
For a man to speak the truth to himself comprehends all goodness;
and for us mortals can only be an aim.

2. Truth to mankind in general. This is a matter which, as I read
it, concerns only the higher natures. Suffice it to say, that the
withholding large truths from the world may be a betrayal of the
greatest trust.

3. Truth in social relations. Under this head come the practices
of making speech vary according to the person spoken to; of
pretending to agree with the world when you do not; of not acting
according to what is your deliberate and well-advised opinion
because some mischief may be made of it by persons whose judgment in
this matter you do not respect; of maintaining a wrong course for
the sake of consistency; of encouraging the show of intimacy with
those whom you never can be intimate with; and many things of the
same kind. These practices have elements of charity and prudence as
well as fear and meanness in them. Let those parts which correspond
to fear and meanness be put aside. Charity and prudence are not
parasitical plants which require boles of falsehood to climb up
upon. It is often extremely difficult in the mixed things of this
world to act truly and kindly too; but therein lies one of the great
trials of man, that his sincerity should have kindness in it, and
his kindness truth.

4. Truth in business. The more truth you can get into any
business, the better. Let the other side know the defects of yours,
let them know how you are to be satisfied, let there be as little to
be found as possible (I should say nothing), and if your business be
an honest one, it will be best tended in this way. The talking,
bargaining, and delaying that would thus be needless, the little
that would then have to be done over again, the anxiety that would
be put aside, would even in a worldly way be "great gain." It is
not, perhaps, too much to say, that the third part of men's lives is
wasted by the effect, direct or indirect, of falsehoods.

Still, let us not be swift to imagine that lies are never of any
service. A recent Prime Minister said, that he did not know about
truth always prevailing and the like; but lies had been very
successful against his government. And this was true enough. Every
lie has its day. There is no preternatural inefficacy in it by
reason of its falseness. And this is especially the case with those
vague injurious reports which are no man's lies, but all men's
carelessness. But even as regards special and unmistakable
falsehood, we must admit that it has its success. A complete being
might deceive with wonderful effect; however, as nature is always
against a liar, it is great odds in the case of ordinary mortals.
Wolsey talks of

Fit for a fool to fall by,"

when he gives Henry the wrong packet; but the Cardinal was quite
mistaken. That kind of negligence was just the thing of which far-
seeing and thoughtful men are capable; and which, if there were no
higher motive, should induce them to rely on truth alone. A very
close vulpine nature, all eyes, all ears, may succeed better in
deceit. But it is a sleepless business. Yet, strange to say, it is
had recourse to in the most spendthrift fashion, as the first and
easiest thing that comes to hand.

In connection with truth in business, it may be observed that if you
are a truthful man, you should be watchful over those whom you
employ; for your subordinate agents are often fond of lying for your
interests, as they think. Show them at once that you do not think
with them, and that you will disconcert any of their inventions by
breaking in with the truth. If you suffer the fear of seeming
unkind to prevent your thrusting well-meant inventions aside, you
may get as much pledged to falsehoods as if you had coined and
uttered them yourself.

5. Truth in pleasure. Men have been said to be sincere in their
pleasures; but this is only that the taste and habits of men are
more easily discernible in pleasure than in business. The want of
truth is as great a hindrance to the one as to the other. Indeed,
there is so much insincerity and formality in the pleasurable
department of human life, especially in social pleasures, that
instead of a bloom there is a slime upon it, which deadens and
corrupts the thing. One of the most comical sights to superior
beings must be to see two human creatures with elaborate speech and
gestures making each other exquisitely uncomfortable from civility:
the one pressing what he is most anxious that the other should not
accept, and the other accepting only from the fear of giving offence
by refusal. There is an element of charity in all this too; and it
will be the business of a just and refined nature to be sincere and
considerate at the same time. This will be better done by enlarging
our sympathy, so that more things and people are pleasant to us,
than by increasing the civil and conventional part of our nature, so
that we are able to do more seeming with greater skill and
endurance. Of other false hindrances to pleasure, such as
ostentation and pretences of all kinds, there is neither charity nor
comfort in them. They may be got rid of altogether, and no moaning
made over them. Truth, which is one of the largest creatures, opens
out the way to the heights of enjoyment, as well as to the depths of

It is difficult to think too highly of the merits and delights of
truth; but there is often in men's minds an exaggerated notion of
some bit of truth, which proves a great assistance to falsehood.
For instance, the shame of some particular small falsehood,
exaggeration, or insincerity, becomes a bugbear which scares a man
into a career of false dealing. He has begun making a furrow a
little out of the line, and he ploughs on in it to try and give some
consistency and meaning to it. He wants almost to persuade himself
that it was not wrong, and entirely to hide the wrongness from
others. This is a tribute to the majesty of truth; also to the
world's opinion about truth. It proceeds, too, upon the notion that
all falsehoods are equal, which is not the case; or on some fond
craving for a show of perfection, which is sometimes very inimical
to the reality. The practical, as well as the high-minded, view in
such cases, is for a man to think how he can be true now. To attain
that, it may, even for this world, be worth while for a man to admit
that he is inconsistent, and even that he has been untrue. His
hearers, did they know anything of themselves, would be fully aware
that he was not singular, except in the courage of owning his

- - -

Ellesmere. That last part requires thinking about. If you were to
permit men, without great loss of reputation, to own that they had
been insincere, you might break down some of that majesty of truth
you talk about. And bad men might avail themselves of any
facilities of owning insincerity, to commit more of it. I can
imagine that the apprehension of this might restrain a man from
making any such admission as you allude to, even if he could make up
his mind to do it otherwise.

Milverton. Yes; but can anything be worse than a man going on in a
false course? Each man must look to his own truthfulness, and keep
that up as well as he can, even at the risk of saying, or doing,
something which may be turned to ill account by others. We may
think too much about this reflection of our external selves. Let
the real self be right. I am not so fanciful as to expect men to go
about clamouring that they have been false; but at no risk of
letting people see that, or of even being obliged to own it, should
they persevere in it.

Dunsford. Milverton is right, I think.

Ellesmere. Do not imagine that I am behind either of you in a wish
to hold up truth. My only doubt was as to the mode. For my own
part, I have such faith in truth that I take it mere concealment is
in most cases a mischief. And I should say, for instance, that a
wise man would be sorry that his fellows should think better of him
than he deserves. By the way, that is a reason why I should not
like to be a writer of moral essays, Milverton - one should be
supposed to be so very good.

Milverton. Only by thoughtless people then. There is a saying
given to Rousseau, not that he ever did say it, for I believe it was
a misprint, but it was a possible saying for him, "Chaque homme qui
pense est mechant." Now, without going the length of this aphorism,
we may say that what has been well written has been well suffered.

"He best can paint them who has felt them most."

And so, though we should not exactly declare that writers who have
had much moral influence have been wicked men, yet we may admit that
they have been amongst the most struggling, which implies anything
but serene self-possession and perfect spotlessness. If you take
the great ones, Luther, Shakespeare, Goethe, you see this at once.

Dunsford. David, St. Paul.

Milverton. Such men are like great rocks on the seashore. By their
resistance, terraces of level land are formed; but the rocks
themselves bear many scars and ugly indents, while the sea of human
difficulty presents the same unwrinkled appearance in all ages. Yet
it has been driven back.

Ellesmere. But has it lost any of its bulk, or only gone elsewhere?
One part of the resemblance certainly is that these same rocks,
which were bulwarks, become, in their turn, dangers.

Milverton. Yes, there is always loss in that way. It is seldom
given to man to do unmixed good. But it was not this aspect of the
simile that I was thinking of: it was the scarred appearance.

Dunsford. Scars not always of defeat or flight; scars in the front.

Milverton. Ah, it hardly does for us to talk of victory or defeat,
in these cases; but we may look at the contest itself as something
not bad, terminate how it may. We lament over a man's sorrows,
struggles, disasters, and shortcomings; yet they were possessions
too. We talk of the origin of evil and the permission of evil. But
what is evil? We mostly speak of sufferings and trials as good,
perhaps, in their result; but we hardly admit that they may be good
in themselves. Yet they are knowledge - how else to be acquired,
unless by making men as gods, enabling them to understand without
experience. All that men go through may be absolutely the best for
them - no such thing as evil, at least in our customary meaning of
the word. But, you will say, they might have been created different
and higher. See where this leads to. Any sentient being may set up
the same claim: a fly that it had not been made a man; and so the
end would be that each would complain of not being all.

Ellesmere. Say it all over again, my dear Milverton: it is rather
hard. [Milverton did so, in nearly the same words.] I think I have
heard it all before. But you may have it as you please. I do not
say this irreverently, but the truth is, I am too old and too
earthly to enter upon these subjects. I think, however, that the
view is a stout-hearted one. It is somewhat in the same vein of
thought that you see in Carlyle's works about the contempt of
happiness. But in all these cases, one is apt to think of the sage
in "Rasselas," who is very wise about human misery till he loses his
daughter. Your fly illustration has something in it. Certainly
when men talk big about what might have been done for man, they omit
to think what might be said, on similar grounds, for each sentient
creature in the universe. But here have we been meandering off into
origin of evil, and uses of great men, and wickedness of writers,

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