Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 3.djvu/410

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Stephen
Stephen
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'Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers' (vol. ii. 1862). In the same year (1861) he achieved the first complete ascent of Mont Blanc from St. Gervais. In 1862 he added to his conquests the Jungfrau Joch, the Viescher Joch, and the Monte della Disgrazia. In 1864 he scaled the Lyskamm, Zinal Rothhorn, and the Jungfrau. The summer of 1866 was spent in the eastern Carpathians with Mr. James Bryce.

After his first marriage in 1867 his mountaineering activity gradually diminished (cf. his Regrets of a Mountaineer, Nov. 1867). But he explored the Dolomites in 1869 and was in Switzerland again in 1871, in 1873, and 1875. In later life he only visited the Alpine country in the winter. The last visit was paid in 1894, when he stayed at Chamonix with his friend of early mountaineering days, M. Gabriel Loppe, the Trench Alpine artist. Stephen became a master of mountain craft, fleet of foot, but circumspect and cautious. His merit was acknowledged by his election as president of the Alpine Club (1865-8). From 1868 to 1871 he served, too, as editor of the 'Alpine Journal.' But mountaineering appealed to Stephen not only as a sport but also as an incentive to good-fellowship. Many of his closest friendships were formed in the Alps. With his guide Melchior Anderegg, whom he regularly employed from his first season in 1858, he was always on the best of terms. Anderegg was Stephen's guest in London in 1861 and 1888. Stephen felt deeply the beauty of the mountains, and it was his Alpine experiences which led him to become an author. His first book was a modest translation from the German of H. Berlepsch's 'The AlpsĀ : or Sketches of Life and Nature in the Mountains.' But he was soon contributing accounts of his Alpine ascents to the 'Alpine Journal' and elsewhere. These papers he collected in 1871 as 'The Playground of Europe,' with a frontispiece by his fellow-mountaineer Edward Whymper [q. v. Suppl. II] (2nd edit, revised, 1894, reissued in Longmans' 'Silver Library,' 1899). In the literature of mountaineering, Stephen's papers inaugurated a new style. It was vivid, direct, and unpretendingly picturesque, at the same time as it was serious and reflective.

The years which Stephen spent at Cambridge as a college don were probably the happiest of his life. But his position underwent an important change in the summer of 1862. His reading in Mill, Comte, and Kant, and his independent thought had led him to reject the historical evidences of Christianity. He declined to take part in the chapel services. Thereupon at the Master's request he resigned his tutorship. Owing apparently to the influence of his friend Fawcett, he was allowed to retain his fellowship and some minor offices. He had never taken the clerical vocation very seriously. He had not examined closely the religious convictions in which he was bred, and he abandoned them with relief and without mental perturbation. He did not, he said, lose his faith, he merely discovered that he never had any. Stephen's scepticism steadily grew thenceforth, and on 25 March 1875 he took advantage of the Act of 1870, and relinquished his orders.

When he was freed from tutorial and clerical duties, Stephen's interests took a wider range. He naturally sympathised with the views of the philosophical radicals of whom Mill was high priest. In university politics he was on the side of reform and desired to see the efficiency of the university increased. In 1863 he published a tract, 'The Poll Degree from the Third Point of View,' in which he urged the need of making the pass examination more adaptable to students' needs and abilities. But he was not greatly excited by university controversies. He was more stirred by the political ambitions of his college friend Henry Fawcett, professor of political economy in the university, who had become blind in 1859. Resolved to enter the House of Commons in the radical interest, Fawcett early in 1863 vainly contested the town of Cambridge with Stephen's active help. Next year Fawcett stood, again unsuccessfully, for Brighton; Stephen was his ablest electioneering lieutenant, and, by way of advocating his friend's candidature, ran a daily paper which he wrote himself and called 'The Brighton Election Reporter.'

One political issue of the day moved Stephen's especial ardour. He was a staunch adherent of the cause of the North in the American civil war, and an enthusiastic champion of slavery emancipation. In the summer of 1863, armed with some introductions from his first cousin, Edward Dicey, he went to America to study the question at first hand. At Boston he met J. R. Lowell, who was soon an intimate friend, and he made the acquaintance of Garrison and Wendell Phillips. His itinerary took him from New York to Chicago, down the Mississippi to St. Louis, and thence by Cincinnati to Philadelphia and Washington. After seeing Abraham Lincoln at the White House he visited the seat of war in Virginia and