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and with them came new schoolmasters and influences for the boys. Thus was the worst of educations, as one would most likely say, given to young John, who is described as volatile, swift, and airy,'-—and to whom, consequently, change was no well suited teacher. Yet he grew up a noble boy, clever, joyous, adventurous, and withal somewhat impetuous. At twelve, he ran away from school, at Blackheath, and managed to get to Dover, with the view of crossing the Channel; but he was there detected, and compelled to confess, and write home to his mother; and it is very characteristic of him that he wrote a letter in what Carlyle calls the steady, historical style, narrating merely, not in the least apologizing.'
It is worth recording, that in these years, Captain Sterling had become permanently connected with the Times ;' and wrote those daily leaders which gained for him the name of the Thunderer.' The remarkable changes of the Times,' at the period referred to, were but the reflections of the quick and stormy changes taking place in the mind of Captain Edward Sterling, who, though full of honesty and force, as it is said, was too rapid and impatient for consistency. Carlyle calls him Captain Whirlwind.'
At sixteen, John Sterling was sent to the University of Glasgow, his brother Antony being already there. He remained, however, but one year. Subsequently, when eighteen, he entered at Trinity College, Cambridge ; with the good fortune of having for his tutor the Rev. Julius Hare, who became at once a cordial friend, and remained so ever afterwards. Sterling paid but little attention to the prescribed studies of the university; they were not the discipline and knowledge he required. Yet he made progress in less formal study, devoured and digested multifarious books, and reached a very high degree of culture. The chief advantage of the university to him, was in the circle of noble and loving friends with which he became surrounded, -among whom were Frederic Maurice, Richard Trench, Charles Buller, Richard Milnes, and others who have since distinguished themselves in literature and public life. Amongst these Sterling was celebrated for his clear intelligence, brilliant conversation, and unusual eloquence in debate. He had the gift of being loved, -of powerfully attracting others to himself by his genial spirit and sincerity of soul. In the admiration he won, there was generally tenderness; and the ties that bound him to his friends were of singular tenacity. The university career was not of long continuance ; at the end of two years, Sterling left, without taking a degree.
Now came entrance on life-a profession to be chosen. But Sterling had within him certain · wild radicalisms,' which shut up the road to life lying through the Church; he would not then consent to be one of her black dragoons,' as he called the clergy; and the probability is, that being a man of true integrity, yet with unawakened spiritual nature, he was also averse to the assumption of a clerical office for which he possessed no religious qualification. Other roads—as those of medicine and law—were closed to him by his desultory habits and restlessness of spirit; so that, eventually, more by chance than choice, it would seem, he took to literature as his vocation. In connexion with his friend, Frederic Maurice, he purchased and conducted the ‘Athenæum,' then newly-started. In this journal he published many fine papers—now included in the 'Remains '— full of promise of excellence afterwards to be attained. No commercial success attended this experiment, however, and the • Athenæum' was again transferred to other hands. Sterling may, for some time afterwards, be traced various wanderings to the Lakes, to Paris, and into much new society; continuing, too, decisively a radical, a man of very free and bold opinions.
At this period, about 1828, dawns a new era in Sterling's history. He then became acquainted with Coleridge; and amongst the young ardent thinkers who resorted to Highgate, to listen to the wise and wonderful discourse of the grand old man, none was more heart-earnest and absorbedly-attentive than John Sterling. The influence of Coleridge on his intellect and sensibilities awakened within him hitherto unknown longings after the highest and divinest objects of human life, and gave new directions to his spiritual nature. The impression thus made eventually determined one of the most important acts of Sterling's life; and although, as Mr. Carlyle informs us, • democratic liberalism,' and other things hard of assimilation with the philosophy and theology of Coleridge, continued to maintain their existence with him, this was the power, beyond all others, to which his nature bent with most entireness. The literary efforts put forth about this period gave proof of the strength of the Coleridgean influence.
Most readers will know something of the attempted expedition of General Torrijos and the Spanish exiles, who had found shelter in this country for some years preceding 1830. Sterling had become a friend of General Torrijos, and had induced his cousin, Lieut. Boyd, to take part in the expedition planned. Sterling was only prevented from personal share therein by failing health, of which there had been many decisive symptoms, and by the spell cast over him by a young lady who afterwards became his wife. Of the fate of these poor Spaniards, and of young Boyd with them, it is enough to say, that after the detection and failure of their attempt, their difficult escape-assisted by Sterling most courageously—and many shifts and sufferings abroad, they were finally taken at Malaga by the authorities, and immediately shot.
Ere this catastrophe occurred, Sterling was married, in 1830, to Miss Susan Barton, whose graces and fine qualities are well spoken of by Mr. Carlyle. Health was then in a seriously-threatening state with Sterling-dangerous illness speedily followed, and proving to be pulmonary disease, on partial recovery it seemed desirable that he should seek a more favourable climate. He went to St. Vincent, West Indies, where was a family property which he undertook to manage. There his eldest son was born. There, too, the tidings of the Torrijos tragedy reached him; and so terrible was its impression on him, that, conspiring with the state of Mrs. Sterling's health to make him feel unsettled at St. Vincent's, he resolved to return home. Letters from him at this period spoke much of the spiritual exercises of his mind-of prayer, religious studies, and longing endeavours after a sanctuary for the soul. A critical juncture had arrived.
In the following year he went to Germany, and at Bonn met with his friend and college tutor, the Rev.Julius Hare. To him he explained his views for the future-briefly, that he intended a few years' study at a good German university, and then a return to England, and an entrance on the ministry of the Established Church. Mr. Hare approved, and offered his own curacy at Herstmonceux, if it should be vacant at the time of Sterling's return. After some months, this plan was changed; and a letter despatched to Mr. Hare, stating that if the curacy were still vacant, Sterling was ready at once to take orders and enter on its duties. The reply gave assent-Sterling came home, and was ordained at Chichester, on Trinity Sunday, 1834.
Archdeacon Hare testifies that Sterling threw his whole heart and soul into the duties of the Christian ministry—that he was faithful to the pulpit, assiduous in his attention to the poor, and active to the full measure of his powers. Still do some of the poor at Herstmonceux affectionately remember him-perhaps the best and purest remembrance Sterling has on earth. This new life-deeply sincere and devout as it seems to have been-opened a path which, could it but have been kept, might have proved holy and happy, closing triumphantly. Work, such as the activities of a parish ministry involved, -and the influence of one having clear, strong intellect, profound learning, and fulness of faith, such as Archdeacon Hare's,—were likely to prove a saving discipline to a temperament and character like Sterling's. But nine short months closed this path also. Again failing health, and the counsels of physicians thereupon, drove him from his duties ; and, with 'sorrowful agitation,' he resigned his curacy.
It was in the following year that the second great power came to bear on the mind and character of Sterling; and the history of its results is scarcely favourable to a high estimate of his individuality and inward strength. Ever too ready to bend to the forces reaching him from without—and unconsciously, perhaps, accustomed to take his tone and direction from other minds—it was scarcely possible that he should not be • led captive at his will’ by Thomas Carlyle. Such was the event of an acquaintance which sprung up in the year he left Herstmonceux, and which strengthened and grew to a deep and mutually-prized intimacy, now affectionately commemorated by Mr. Carlyle in his recently published biography. How far-reaching and important were the consequences of this new friendship-it might be said, discipleship—will appear presently.
On his removal to London, Sterling for a while kept his faith in Christianity-retaining the feeling of the clerical office, and due regard for the Church. He occupied himself variously with theological and metaphysical studies; and on breaking into German, made himself familiar with some of the works of Schleiermacher, Tholuck, Neander, and others, delightedly finding therein great increase to his knowledge. At the same time he was aimless and wandering-life had no serious
duties, no practicalities for him. Speculation deep and high suited his mood-various and roving speculations, tending nowhither,' modified and changed his opinions at large. The influence of Coleridge was lessening; Carlyle was in the ascendency. By and by, theologies and spiritualisms were somewhat lost sight of; and such work as was done at all was in the shape of efforts at a place in literature.
For the next eight years Sterling made temporary residences in London, occupied with literary labours in several directions-chiefly publication of poems and contributions to · Blackwood ;' but sadly were these labours broken in upon by threatening illness, necessitating flights to Clifton, Falmouth, Torquay, and, in successive winters, to the south of France, Madeira, and Italy. Hope of permanent recovery alternated with the prospect of immediate dissolution; almost ever was he in the attitude of one screening himself from swift death. If his achievements were few and comparatively unimportant, it may be remembered that he had other life-battle to do than tends to victory recognizable by standers-by.
It was while making occasional brief visits to London that a club was founded, at which pleasant reunions with his friends might be possible; this, innocently enough, was called the .Sterling Club,' and has since become famous, through the gross and unjust attacks made on its members, in some quarters, for a supposed heretical sympathy with views and principles of rationalistic stamp, of which Sterling's name was held to be a symbol. It is undoubtedly true that views to which the name of Rationalism is vaguely given, were, in these years, adopted by Sterling. Mr. Carlyle gives no information on this momentous occurrence in his spiritual history; to Mr. Carlyle it does not seem momentous, but rather a happy deliverance from the wrecks of priesthood and from bondage to the incredible. Were it not for the memoir by Archdeacon Hare, and twelve painfully interesting letters to Mr. Coningham, published by him recently, little would be known of the spiritual struggles of Sterling's mind at this period, or of his eventual position with respect to the Christian faith. And, after all, for those who knew not Sterling, there is no very clear account of his inward life possible to be gotten from his biographers. Such words as it is fitting should here be said thereon shall presently be spoken.
In the year 1843, the shadows gathered deep over the path of Sterling. His wife lay newly confined, when he received intelligence of the death of his mother—to him an excellent and well-loved mother. He could not hide his grief from his wife, and, in answer to her questions, gave the intelligence. * Poor old man!' murmured his wife, • thinking of the old Edward Sterling now left alone in the world; and these were her own last words ; in two hours more she too was dead.' Carlyle adds, ' Sterling has lost much in these two hours ; how much that has long been can never again be for him! Twice in one morning, so to speak, has a mighty wind smitten the corners of his house; and much lies in dismal ruins round him.'
In something more than a year from this time Sterling himself was with the dead. The decease of his wife induced a removal to Ventnor,
and there, being possessed of ample income, he purchased a house and grounds, and set about their improvement. A permanent residence was necessary to the six young motherless children now left to his care. His literary labours were again steadily prosecuted; a tragedy published, and eight cantos of a new poem completed. Yet he complained of sad thoughts and ghastly dreaminess,' saying, “the heart is gone out of my life. Mr. Carlyle confesses to receiving letters from him during this year at Ventnor, which he calls melancholy enough ;' but he suppresses them. In the spring of 1844, the breaking of a bloodvessel prostrated Sterling under the sickness from which he never recovered. For six months death was immediately before him; and with great calmness and courage he set about the adjustment of his affairs, domestic, literary, and all others, and then prepared to die. The Maurices were with him, lovingly caring for him, and sustaining his spirit. Much religious feeling flowed forth in these last scenes ; there was much reading of the Bible—a humble and a happy recognition of the will of God—I thank the All-wise One;' and to Archdeacon Hare, he wrote, Christianity is a great comfort and blessing to me, although I am quite unable to believe all its original documents.' At length, on the 18th of September, the end came. He was very weak and quiet, but penned a few verses for friends ; and to his sister gave these, the last words he ever wrote:
Could we but hear all Nature's voice,
From glowworm up to sun,
“ Thy will, O God, be done !''
From all men's hearts that live,
And Thou my sins forgive!”' It grew dusk; he asked for the old Bible, which he used so often at Herstmonceux in the cottages ; then conversed cheerfully for a few minutes, and was left to settle for the night:-and so all things closed around him, and he trode the common road into the great darkness,' as he himself said, ' without any thought of fear, and with very much of hope.'
Such were the facts of Sterling's life; they are not very important; neither are his completed works numerous, nor of more than partial success. Yet, such as they were, they had a true worth in them; and but for the continual struggle for life, and the over-haste in which all work was therefore done, might have been nobler and more enduring. Sterling had brilliant powers and fine heart; and was full of genuine purity and the deepest sincerity. Like other such lives, like all lives, this is a tragedy,' says Mr. Carlyle ; "high hopes, noble efforts ; under thickening difficulties and impediments, ever new nobleness of valiant effort; and the result death, with conquests by no means corresponding. A life which cannot challenge the world's attention ; yet which does modestly solicit it, and, perhaps, on clear study will be found to reward it.
Of Sterling's religious errors something remains to be said. They