Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 3.djvu/411

This page needs to be proofread.

inspected General Mead's army. He came home more convinced than before of the righteousness of the northern plea. Subsequently he published 'The Times on the American War, by L. S.' (1865), in which he sought to refute the English arguments in favour of the South.

At the end of 1864 Stephen left Cambridge for London in order to embark on a literary career. He retained his fellowship till 1867, when it lapsed on his marriage. At times he thought of attempting other than literary occupation. He was for a brief period secretary of the newly formed Commons Preservation Society in 1865, and on 27 May 1867 he was admitted a student of the Inner Temple, in spite of some doubt as to his eligibility owing to his clerical orders; but he was not called to the bar, and removed his name from the books of the Inn in 1875. Sufficient literary work was quickly offered him to make it needless for him to seek employment elsewhere.

His brother, James Fitzjames Stephen, was between 1860 and 1870 dividing his practice at the bar with a vigorous pursuit of journalism. He was acquainted with Carlyle, Froude, and other literary leaders, and to his recommendations Leslie owed a promising start in the literary world. Leslie was soon invited to write for the 'Saturday Review,' and for many years he contributed two articles a week — a review and a 'middle.' There he attacked every subject from popular metaphysics to the university boatrace, but avoided politics and religion, on which the paper pursued conservative lines. But more important to his future literary career was his brother's early introduction of him to George Smith, who during 1864 was laying the foundation of a new evening paper, the 'Pall Mall Gazette.' The editor, Frederick Greenwood, welcomed Stephen's co-operation, and from the second number on 8 Feb. 1865 he was a regular contributor of miscellaneous literary matter for six years, and was an occasional contributor at later dates, notably in 1880, when Mr. John Morley suddenly succeeded Greenwood as editor. To the 'Pall Mall' he contributed at the outset a series of frankly humorous and occasionally flippant 'Sketches from Cambridge, by a Don' (1865). From October 1866 to August 1873 he wrote, too, a fortnightly article on English affairs for the weekly 'Nation' of New York, of which the editor was Edwin Lawrence Godkin [q. v. Suppl. II]. Here Stephen dealt with the political situation at Westminster and occasionally attended for the purpose the sittings of the House of Commons, which wearied him.

At the same time he formed important connections with the chief monthly magazines. In 1866 he began writing for the 'Cornhill Magazine,' another of George Smith's literary ventures. At first he wrote there on social themes under the signature of 'A Cynic' (not reprinted), but he soon confined himself in the 'Cornhill' to literary criticism, which, according to the practice of the magazine, was anonymous. His literary essays from 1871 onwards bore the general heading 'Hours in a Library,' and were collected from time to time in separate volumes (1st ser. 1874; 2nd ser. 1876; 3rd ser. 1879). His position as an independent and sagacious literary critic was thereby established. His relations with the 'Cornhill' had meanwhile growth in importance. In February 1871 George Smith appointed him editor, and he held the post for more than eleven years. He was thus enabled to abandon much of his joumalism, but he remained faithful to the 'Saturday.' In the 'Cornhill' magazine he sought to uphold a high standard of theme and style. He encouraged young writers, many of whom afterwards became famous, and with whom he formed cordial and enduring personal relations. Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Hardy, James Sully, W. E. Henley, Henry James, and Edmund Gosse were among the contributors in whose work Stephen took especial pride. When visiting Edinburgh to lecture on the Alps in February 1875 he sought out in the infirmary there W. E. Henley, who had offered the magazine his 'In Hospital' series of poems; a day or two later Stephen introduced R. L. Stevenson to the sick room, with the result that an interesting literary friendship was formed. Matthew Arnold's 'Literature and Dogma' ran through the 'Cornhill' under Stephen's auspices ; but it was in purely literary work that the magazine won its reputation during Stephen's editorship.

Not that literature was by any means the editor's sole personal interest. Religious and philosophical speculation engaged much of his attention, and he presented his results elsewhere than in the 'Cornhill.' J. A. Froude, who was editor of 'Fraser's Magazine,' and Mr. John Morley, who was editor of the 'Fortnightly Review,' gave him every opportunity of defining his position in the pages of those periodicals. A collection of religious and philosophic essays, which he fittingly entitled 'Essays on Free Thinking and Plain Speaking,' came out in