Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 23.djvu/293

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Grote
Grote
285


only contemptuous discouragement for his intellectual pursuits, and his mother's puritanical severity rendered the home-life uncongenial. By nature he was greatly dependent on the sympathy of others·if he was to do justice to his powers and overcome an everhaunting tendency to mental depression. It was his good fortune, then, through his friend Norman, to form another intimacy destined to affect his whole career. He fell deeply in love (1814-15) with the fascinating and accomplished Harriet Lewin [see Grote, Harriet], whose family was then settled in Kent a few miles off'. His advances were received with no disfavour, but presently the ill-offices of a supposed friend, in reality a disappointed rival, Peter Elmsley [q. v.], led him to believe that Miss Lewin was already engaged. The thought that he was being trifled with came upon Grote as a crushing blow. In the first prostration, he bound himself never to propose marriage to any one without first obtaining his father's sanction. The elder Grote thus had power to prevent the renewal of the suit to Miss Lewin when, after a few weeks, the rival's deception was exposed; and, some three years later, when the young people by chance met again and understood each other, could still insist that they should not be united for two years more, and that the families should meanwhile have no intercourse. To Grote himself the whole five years (from 1815) were a time of much suffering. Some verses printed for private circulation by his widow in 1872 ('Poems by George Grote,' 1815-23, pp. 40) belong almost wholly to this period. A more promising effort of his pen, from 1817, was a short essay on Lucretius, which, with some reflection of his own melancholy in the course of its special criticism, has in it a vein of superior observation on the conditions and limits of the poetic art generally (pp. 1-16 in a miscellaneous collection of Posthumous Papers printed by Mrs. Grote, again privately, in 1874). The emotional tension was lessened from 1818, when he could hold converse with his betrothed, at least in writing. They kept diaries for each other's benefit; his diary carefully records all his reading. He was steadily becoming more engrossed in philosophical as well as in economical and classical study; going beyond English thinkers, like Berkeley, Hume, and Butler, to Kant, then little regarded in England, and this although he was just then (from 1818) coming under the very different influence of James Mill. To Mill he was introduced by Ricardo, with whom his interest in political economy had led him to seek relations in 1817. It is evident, from a letter in 1819 (Personal Life of George Grote, p. 21), that he had scruples of feeling as well as of understanding to overcome before yielding himself to Mill's dominion. Mill next introduced him to his own master, Bentham. By 1820 he had thus finally chosen his leaders in thought and public action, though his scholarly habits continued always to give him a wider outlook than was common in the Bentham-Mill circle.

Tired of waiting, Grote and Miss Lewin were married, without their fathers' knowledge, at Bexley Church early in the morning of Sunday, 5 March 1820. Mr. Lewin was informed in a day or two by his daughter, who had immediately returned home; the elder Grote, not till after some weeks. The step was condoned, and the young couple, in the course of the year, were established with moderate means in a house adjoining the bank. They lived as much as they could away from the city, on account of Mrs. Grote's health, at first occasionally, afterwards (from 1826) permanently ; but Grote, having now thrown upon him much of the weight of his father's part in the business, was bound to be in daily attendance at the bank, and, for a certain period of the year, to see to the opening and locking-up. His public authorship began in 1821 with a 'Statement of the Question of Parliamentary Reform,' directed mainly against a theory of class-representation set forth in the 'Edinburgh Review' by Sir J. Mackintosh. This pamphlet (summarised in introduction to Minor Works of George Grote) shows the influence of James Mill's theory of government; but Grote already contends fervently for his own favourite ideas of political reform, such as secrecy of voting and frequency of election. Next year, besides making a vigorous onslaught, in the 'Morning Chronicle,' upon a declaration by Canning against parliamentary reform, he accomplished a difficult task in connection with Bentham. An 'Analysis of the Influence of Natural Religion on the Temporal Happiness of Mankind, by Philip Beauchamp,' issued in 1822 by Richard Carlile [q. v.], then safe in Dorchester gaol, was the work of Grote, founded upon a mass of written material committed to him by Bentham. The manuscripts, upon which Bentham had worked in his irregular fashion from 1815, were, with his covering letter of suggestions as to the use to be made of them, given by Mrs. Grote to the British Museum after her husband's death. A comparison of them with the printed volume shows the enormous amount of labour required to bring them into form. Grote had practically to write the essay, leaving aside the greater part of the materials before him and giving to the remnant a shape that was his rather than