His writings, up to this time, had been tentative and imitative, being mainly reflections from (and upon) what had most struck him in his reading. He had read considerably in some six languages, (Hebrew, Irish, German, Italian, French and English) and widely in at least four of them, besides his scholarship in the universal language of music. Among his early plans for books were schemes for a translation from some of the prose of St. Francis of Assisi, (which he abandoned, because an English translation was published at the time) and for a critical study of Racine, whose pure and noble art always meant much to him. Some critical and other writings of this period exist in manuscript. They are said to be carefully written, but wanting in inner impulse.
Throughout this period if not throughout his life he lived with the utmost ascetic frugality, bordering always, or touching, on poverty. He used to say that his income was “forty pounds a year and a new suit of clothes, when my old ones get too shabby.” He had no expensive habits, he was never self-indulgent, he had no wish