W.T. Stead to his Father

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W.T. Stead to his Father, the Rev. William Stead (c. July 5, 1881)

Quoted in J. W. Robertson Scott, The Life and Death of a Newspaper (1952), p. 97

This thirty-second anniversary of my birthday reminds me once more of the great debt of gratitude and love which I owe to you, to whom I owe everything I am or have.

Life has perhaps been a somewhat stormy ocean for me as for others, but the storms have blown the ship faster through the waves and I stand now astonished and amazed at the rapidity with which the small infant of Embleton has been hurried upwards and onwards to be one of the handful of men to whom in his mysterious providence the Almighty has entrusted the government of the Empire.

To your fundamental virtues and capacities transmitted to your firstborn son, to your education and example, to your encouragement and inspiration, I owe under God and my mother all that I have, all that I can do.

And I have so much, too much sometimes I think. Health, strength, an energy which never flags except from absolute exhaustion of the body, a charming house in the loveliest part of England, a darling wife, lovely children, ample means, intercourse with the leading minds of the age, opportunity and demand for literary work far beyond my utmost ability to turn it out, the love and confidence of my father, sisters and brothers, the sense of perpetually increasing usefulness, the consciousness that I am constantly and clearly guided by the invisible hand of God. What more could I have? What more has any mortal had?

And for all that, and perhaps still more for the spirit which enables me to enjoy all that without feeling exalted or puffed up, and which keeps me ever ready to admit mistakes, confess shortcomings and receive correction even from the humblest,—no small addition to the sum of human comfort— I owe you endless thanks and the constant service of grateful love.