W.T. Stead Journal Entry (January 11, 1880)
Quoted in J. W. Robertson Scott, The Life and Death of a Newspaper (1952) pp. 110-112
Sunday is my first at Darlington. The old year was a troubled one. Emma, who appears never to have been quite herself after the birth of Alfred, suffering from nervous depression and the like, became worse and at last she definitely refused to live any longer at Grainy Hill in winter. The change saddened the whole year, unsettling me more than might be imagined by those who did not understand how vitally were connected country life and employment in the realisation of an ideal home. It cost me many a wrench and some very bitter moments as I seemed to see the blighting of the aspirations of a life, the gradual widening of the rift, the shattered home and the devastated household. I feel as if the wife’s indisposition to live in Grainy Hill is the first signal to move to another sphere of labour.
About the direction in which God may lead me, my own secret premonition is that I shall be summoned to edit a London daily, possibly the London Echo or the Daily Chronicle. The great lack of the London Press is the absence of enthusiasm. If God needs an editor of enthusiasm in London I will serve His turn best. He will send for me and make it clear beyond all doubt that I must go. One of the signs should be giving me a free hand as I have here to control and to speak as seemeth good to my own conscience.
I am filled with grave misgivings when I look back upon my married life, chiefly on account of the absence of direct religious work for God and man. Emma, I feel instinctively, has grown cold from lack of Christian work. I also have lacked that evangelical fervour, that craving anxiety for the souls of others that ought to characterise all Xians. Emma would have felt less lonely if she had gone about with tracts, taught classes or in other ways gone about doing good. [With a string of babies and untrustworthy help and a rather trying husband] Worship has again been a sad failure. We must sing, come what may of baby, and I must say a few words on the reading, come what may of my other work. Bible reading again has been a sad failure. This year I have more time, having a new sub-editor. Part of leisure should be devoted to Emma and the children and the Bible. I have begun on Sunday afternoons to tell them the story of Christ’s life. They are good listeners. Dear little things. Emma is going to teach them and I must help her. She needs a helper, a stimulus, support, and I waste my strength so much on other things that I have none left. I must talk more, read more, and suggest more reading for her.
I have also grieved my wife deeply this year by a fortnight’s flirtation with a scotch lassie who came over to spend the holidays with us. It was a passing folly. I liked the girl very much and like her still. She was a good listener, had good spirits, good complexion and told me her troubles. I kissed her a good deal more than was wise or right, but I was on my holidays and had better spirits and was more in the mood for any kind of fun than I had been for long. It was in driving about in the phaeton that it all happened and at a farewell visit to Keswick. But I had no idea my wife was so grieved about it till long alter the girl had returned to Scotland and the baby was born. It was a mistake, and I am sorry for the girl, because my wife deprecates the continuance of the correspondence, and I cannot explain.
With regard to Madame Novikoff, I sin no more in relation to her. I am still deeply attached to her and would do anything for her, but I no longer love her with that sinful passion the memory of which covers me with loathing, remorse and humiliation. Poor body, she is much shattered, has aged much in the last two trying years and has no longer the selfcontrol she had. She is now getting out her book – almost every line of which I wrote in draft for her, copied with corrections, revisions and rewritings, and all of which I have repeatedly revised in proof from MSS. I think her book will be useful. She is passionately devoted to it. She suspects the change that has taken place in me and resents it. But as I am the same in all respects to her cause, all except the fever-blistering passion directed to her, I manage to scrape through without inflicting upon her the pain which I dread. I love her intensely, but no longer as a second wife. I am disgusted with myself for having to confess a change, which nevertheless is right. The wrong rises in the passion. And yet who could help? God pardon the weakness of his erring child. My hope that I might be the means of leading her to a trustful faith and hope in God and his Christ is dimmed by the damning memory of my own weakness in having so far succumbed to the temptation of the devil.
The Halleluiah Lasses have done me a great deal of good, renewed my faith in the simple gospel and in the power of the preached word. Propose in the New Year to write an article in the Contemporary Review on the Salvation Army, on the ideal Church and on Russophobia. Review of O.K.’s book. Series of articles in the Echo, possibly lives of local M.P.s and possibly larger Political Catechism. Health remarkably good. Tempted to go revivalising. God has given me a dear little girl. She shall be taught to earn living and get education like lads. God give me grace and keep me faithful to Christ. Amen.