But enough of Shakespeare—let us turn to Augustus
Hare. There are people who say that even illness does not
warrant these transitions; that the author of The Story of
Two Noble Lives is not the peer of Boswell; and if we
assert that short of the best in literature we like the worst
—it is mediocrity that is hateful—will have none of that
either. So be it. The law is on the side of the normal. But
for those who suffer a slight rise of temperature the names
of Hare and Waterford and Canning will always ray out
beams of benignant lustre. Not, it is true, for the first 
hundred pages or so. There, as so often in these fat
volumes, we flounder, and threaten to sink in a plethora
of aunts and uncles. We have to remind ourselves that
there is such a thing as atmosphere; that the masters
themselves often keep us waiting intolerably while they
prepare our minds for whatever it may be—the surprise, or
the lack of surprise. So Hare, too, takes his time; the 
charm steals upon us imperceptibly; by degrees we 
become almost one of the family, yet not quite for 
our sense of the oddity of it all remains, and share 
the family dismay when Lord Stuart leaves the room
—there was a ball going forward—and is next heard 
of in Iceland. Parties, he said, bored him—such were 
English aristocrats before marriage with intellect had 
adulterated the fine singularity of their minds. Parties bore 
them; they are off to Iceland. Then Beckford's mania for 
castle building attacked him; and he must lift a French 
château across the channel, and erect pinnacles and towers 
to serve as servants' bedrooms at vast expense, upon the 
borders of a crumbling cliff, too, so that the housemaids 
saw their brooms swimming down the Solent, and Lady 
Stuart was much distressed, but made the best of it 
and began, like the high-born lady that she was, planting 
evergreens in the face of ruin; while the daughters, 
Charlotte and Louisa, grew up in their incomparable 
loveliness, with pencils in their hands, for ever sketching,