A Passionate Pilgrim

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Story by Henry James, published in 1871 and collected in A Passionate Pilgrim and Other Tales (1875).

Clement Searle, a middle-aged American widower, comes to England to prosecute his claim to a rich estate. Although a melancholy invalid, he is enthusiastic concerning his pilgrimage to the mother country, which has been his lifelong dream, and he shares his new experiences with the narrator, an impressionable American tourist. Penniless, and feeling the approach of death, Searle determines to enjoy to the full his last days. With the narrator, he visits the Searle estate, is received by its furiously conservative and selfish proprietor, and falls in love with his gentle sister. The brother drives his visitors away, and the shock further weakens Searle, who that night believes he sees a traditional family specter. With his companion, he goes to Oxford, still the “passionate pilgrim,” but after a few days becomes weaker and dies. On his deathbed he asks for Miss Searle, who is summoned. She appears in mourning, since her brother has been accidentally killed, leaving her “free … with what use for freedom?”

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Henry James (1843—1916) writer

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