He was a lonely man, was Goldwin Smith: lonely in his domestic circle, lonely in his social relations, lonely in his political convictions, lonely in his ideals. As he sat there in his armchair before the fire after the dinner, you felt—actually felt—an insulating atmosphere between him and you.
Arnold Haultain, Goldwin Smith (1914, p. 143)
These words by Smith’s personal secretary are very revealing. The distance Goldwin Smith maintained between himself and those who worked with him, and, of course, between himself and his audience, was characteristic of a public performer, almost an actor. Smith was a master of communication in his day, and in this he cultivated a certain stage presence, even a mystique. An effective writer who aimed at a wide cross-section of readers, or the “middle brow,” Smith employed all the journalistic and communication tricks of the trade available at the time. Like W.T. Stead and a few others, he recognized very early the importance of an increasingly Anglo-American readership that cut across national borders, and he nurtured it to the end, keeping up all his contacts on both sides of the Atlantic.
As a combative public moralist, or controversialist, he held his audience in a steady condition of alertness to his ideas. Whether people