Collections and Recollections
George William Erskine Russell

Part 6 out of 7

my own.

The Cabinet is the Board of Directors of the British Empire. All its
members are theoretically equal; but, as at other Boards, the effective
power really resides in three or four. At the present moment[35]
Manchester is represented by one of these potent few. Saturday is the
usual day for the meeting of the Cabinet, though it may be convened at
any moment as special occasion arises. Describing the potato-disease
which led to the repeal of the Corn Laws, Lord Beaconsfield wrote: "This
mysterious but universal sickness of a single root changed the history
of the world. 'There is no gambling like politics,' said Lord
Roehampton, as he glanced at the _Times_: 'four Cabinets in one week!
The Government must be more sick than the potatoes!'"

Twelve is the usual hour for the meeting of the Cabinet, and the
business is generally over by two. At the Cabinets held during November
the legislative programme for next session is settled, and the
preparation of each measure is assigned to a sub-committee of Ministers
specially conversant with the subject-matter. Lord Salisbury holds his
Cabinets at the Foreign Office; but the old place of meeting was the
official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury at 10 Downing
Street, in a pillared room looking over the Horse Guards Parade, and
hung with portraits of departed First Lords.

In theory, of course, the proceedings of the Cabinet are absolutely
secret. The Privy Councillor's oath prohibits all disclosures. No record
is kept of the business done. The door is guarded by vigilant attendants
against possible eavesdroppers. The dispatch-boxes which constantly
circulate between Cabinet Ministers, carrying confidential matters, are
carefully locked with special keys, said to date from the administration
of Mr. Pitt; and the possession of these keys constitutes admission into
what Lord Beaconsfield called "the circles of high initiation." Yet in
reality more leaks out than is supposed. In the Cabinet of 1880-5 the
leakage to the press was systematic and continuous. Even Mr. Gladstone,
the stiffest of sticklers for official reticence, held that a Cabinet
Minister might impart his secrets to his wife and his Private Secretary.
The wives of official men are not always as trustworthy as Mrs. Bucket
in _Bleak House_, and some of the Private Secretaries in the Government
of 1880 were little more than boys. Two members of that Cabinet were
notorious for their free communications to the press, and it was often
remarked that the _Birmingham Daily Post_ was peculiarly well informed.
A noble Lord who held a high office, and who, though the most pompous,
was not the wisest of mankind, was habitually a victim to a certain
journalist of known enterprise, who used to waylay him outside Downing
Street and accost him with jaunty confidence: "Well, Lord----, so you
have settled on so-and-so after all?" The noble lord, astonished that
the Cabinet's decision was already public property, would reply, "As you
know so much, there can be no harm in telling the rest"; and the
journalist, grinning like a dog, ran off to print the precious morsel in
a special edition of the _Millbank Gazette_. Mr. Justin McCarthy could,
I believe, tell a curious story of a highly important piece of foreign
intelligence communicated by a Minister to the _Daily News_; of a
resulting question in the House of Commons; and of the same Minister's
emphatic declaration that no effort should be wanting to trace this
violator of official confidence and bring him to condign punishment.

While it is true that outsiders sometimes become possessed by these
dodges of official secrets, it is not less true that Cabinet Ministers
are often curiously in the dark about great and even startling events. A
political lady once said to me, "Do you in your party think much of my
neighbour, Mr. ----?" As in duty bound, I replied, "Oh yes, a great
deal." She rejoined, "I shouldn't have thought it, for when the boys are
shouting any startling news in the special editions, I see him run out
without his hat to buy an evening paper. That doesn't look well for a
Cabinet Minister." On the fatal 6th of May 1882 I dined in company with
Mr. Bright. He stayed late, but never heard a word of the murders which
had taken place that evening in the Phoenix Park; went off quietly to
bed, and read them as news in the next morning's _Observer_.

But, after all, attendance at the Cabinet, though a most important, is
only an occasional, event in the life of one of her Majesty's Ministers.
Let us consider the ordinary routine of his day's work during the
session of Parliament. The truly virtuous Minister, we may presume,
struggles down to the dining room to read prayers and to breakfast in
the bosom of his family between 9 and 10 A.M. But the self-indulgent
bachelor declines to be called, and sleeps his sleep out. Mr. Arthur
Balfour invariably breakfasts at 12; and more politicians than would
admit it consume their tea and toast in bed. Mercifully, the dreadful
habit of giving breakfast-parties, though sanctioned by the memories of
Holland and Macaulay and Rogers and Houghton, virtually died out with
the disappearance of Mr. Gladstone.

"Men who breakfast out are generally Liberals," says Lady St. Julians in
_Sybil_. "Have not you observed that?"

"I wonder why?"

"It shows a restless, revolutionary mind," said Lady Firebrace, "that
can settle to nothing, but must be running after gossip the moment they
are awake."

"Yes," said Lady St. Julians, "I think those men who breakfast out, or
who give breakfasts, are generally dangerous characters; at least I
would not trust them."

And Lady St. Julians's doctrine, though half a century old, applies with
perfect exactness to those enemies of the human race who endeavour to
keep alive or to resuscitate this desperate tradition. Juvenal described
the untimely fate of the man who went into his bath with an undigested
peacock in his system. Scarcely pleasanter are the sensations of the
Minister or the M.P. who goes from a breakfast-party, full of buttered
muffins and broiled salmon, to the sedentary desk-work of his office or
the fusty wrangles of a Grand Committee.

Breakfast over, the Minister's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of
exercise. If he is a man of active habits and strenuous tastes, he may
take a gentle breather up Highgate Hill, like Mr. Gladstone, or play
tennis, like Sir Edward Grey. Lord Spencer when in office might be seen
any morning cantering up St. James's Street on a hack, or pounding round
Hyde Park in high naval debate with Sir Ughtred Kay-Shuttleworth. Lord
Rosebery drives himself in a cab; Mr. Asquith is driven; both
occasionally survey the riding world over the railings of Rotten Row;
and even Lord Salisbury may be found prowling about the Green Park, to
which his house in Arlington Street has a private access. Mr. Balfour,
as we all know, is a devotee of the cycle, and his example is catching;
but Mr. Chamberlain holds fast to the soothing belief that, when a man
has walked upstairs to bed, he has made as much demand on his physical
energies as is good for him, and that exercise was invented by the
doctors in order to bring grist to their mill.

Whichever of these examples our Minister prefers to follow, his exercise
or his lounge must be over by 12 o'clock. The Grand Committees meet at
that hour; on Wednesday the House meets then; and if he is not required
by departmental business to attend either the Committee or the House, he
will probably be at his office by midday. The exterior aspect of the
Government Offices in Whitehall is sufficiently well known, and any
peculiarities which it may present are referable to the fact that the
execution of an Italian design was entrusted by the wisdom of Parliament
to a Gothic architect. Inside, their leading characteristics are the
abundance and steepness of the stairs, the total absence of light, and
an atmosphere densely charged with Irish stew. Why the servants of the
British Government should live exclusively on this delicacy, and why its
odours should prevail with equal pungency "from morn to noon, from noon
to dewy eve," are matters of speculation too recondite for popular

The Minister's own room is probably on the first floor--perhaps looking
into Whitehall, perhaps into the Foreign Office Square, perhaps on to
the Horse Guards Parade. It is a large room with immense windows, and a
fireplace ingeniously contrived to send all its heat up the chimney. If
the office is one of the older ones, the room probably contains some
good pieces of furniture derived, from a less penurious age than ours--a
bureau or bookcase of mahogany dark with years, showing in its staid
ornamentation traces of Chippendale or Sheraton; a big clock in a
handsome case; and an interesting portrait of some historic statesman
who presided over the department two centuries ago. But in the more
modern offices all is barren. Since the late Mr. Ayrton was First
Commissioner of Works a squalid cheapness has reigned supreme. Deal and
paint are everywhere; doors that won't shut, bells that won't ring, and
curtains that won't meet. In two articles alone there is
prodigality--books and stationery. Hansard's Debates, the Statutes at
Large, treatises illustrating the work of the office, and books of
reference innumerable, are there; and the stationery shows a delightful
variety of shape, size, and texture, adapted to every conceivable
exigency of official correspondence.

It is indeed in the item of stationery, and in that alone, that the
grand old constitutional system of perquisites survives. Morbidly
conscientious Ministers sometimes keep a supply of their private
letter-paper on their office-table and use it for their private
correspondence; but the more frankly human sort write all their letters
on official paper. On whatever paper written, Ministers' letters go free
from the office and the House of Commons; and certain artful
correspondents outside, knowing that a letter to a public office need
not be stamped, write to the Minister at his official address and save
their penny. In days gone by each Secretary of State received on his
appointment a silver inkstand, which he could hand down as a keepsake to
his children. Mr. Gladstone, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer,
abolished this little perquisite, and the only token of office which an
outgoing Minister can now take with him is his dispatch-box. The wife of
a minister who had long occupied an official residence, on being evicted
from office said with a pensive sigh, "I hope I am not avaricious, but
I must say, when one was hanging up pictures, it was very pleasant to
have the Board of Works carpenter and a bag of the largest nails for

The late Sir William Gregory used to narrate how when a child he was
taken by his grandfather, who was Under-Secretary for Ireland, to see
the Chief Secretary, Lord Melbourne, in his official room. The
good-natured old Whig asked the boy if there was anything in the room
that he would like; and he chose a large stick of sealing-wax, "That's
right," said Lord Melbourne, pressing a bundle of pens into his hand:
"begin life early. All these things belong to the public, and your
business must always be to get out of the public as much as you can."
There spoke the true spirit of our great governing families.

And now our Minister, seated at his official table, touches his
pneumatic bell. His Private Secretary appears with a pile of papers, and
the day's work begins. That work, of course, differs enormously in
amount, nature, importance, and interest with different offices. To the
outside world probably one office is much the same as another, but the
difference in the esoteric view is wide indeed. When the Revised Version
of the New Testament came out, an accomplished gentleman who had once
been Mr. Gladstone's Private Secretary, and had been appointed by him to
an important post in the permanent Civil Service, said: "Mr. Gladstone,
I have been looking at the Revised Version, and I think it distinctly
inferior to the old one."

"Indeed," said Mr. Gladstone, with all his theological ardour roused at
once: "I am very much interested to hear you say so. Pray give me an

"Well," replied the Permanent Official, "look at the first verse of the
second chapter of St. Luke. That verse used to run, 'There went out a
decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.' Well, I
always thought that a splendid idea--a tax levied on the whole world by
a single Act--a grand stroke worthy of a great empire and an imperial
treasury. But in the Revised Version I find, 'There went out a decree
that all the world should be enrolled'--a mere counting! a census! the
sort of thing the Local Government Board could do! Will any one tell me
that the new version is as good as the old one in this passage?"

This story aptly illustrates the sentiments with which the more powerful
and more ancient departments regard those later births of time, the
Board of Trade, the Local Government Board, the Board of Agriculture,
and even the Scotch Office--though this last is redeemed from utter
contempt by the irritable patriotism of our Scottish fellow-citizens,
and by the beautiful house in which it is lodged. For a Minister who
loves an arbitrary and single-handed authority the India Office is the
most attractive of all. The Secretary of State for India, is (except in
financial matters, where he is controlled by his Council) a pure despot.
He has the Viceroy at the end of a telegraph-wire, and the Queen's three
hundred millions of Indian subjects under his thumb. His salary is not
voted by the House of Commons; very few M.P.'s care a rap about India;
and he is practically free from Parliamentary control. The Foreign
Office, of course, is full of interest, and its social traditions have
always been of the most dignified sort--from the days when Mr.
Ranville-Ranville used to frequent Mrs. Perkins's Balls to the existing
reign of Sir Thomas Sanderson and Mr. Eric Barrington.

The Treasury has its finger in every departmental pie except the Indian
one, for no Minister and no department can carry out reforms or even
discharge its ordinary routine without public money, and of public money
the Treasury is the vigilant and inflexible guardian. "I am directed to
acquaint you that My Lords do not see their way to comply with your
suggestion, inasmuch as to do so would be to _open a serious door_."
This delightful formula, with its dread suggestion of a flippant door
and all the mischief to which it might lead, is daily employed to check
the ardour of Ministers who are seeking to advance the benefit of the
race (including their own popularity among their constituents) by a
judicious expenditure of public money. But whatever be the scope and
function of the office, and whatever the nature of the work done there,
the mode of doing it is pretty much the same. Whether the matter in
question originates inside the office by some direction or inquiry of
the chief, or comes by letter from outside, it is referred to the
particular department of the office which is concerned with it. A clerk
makes a careful minute, giving the facts of the case and the practice of
the office as bearing on it. The paper is then sent to any other
department or person in the office that can possibly have any concern
with it. It is minuted by each, and it gradually passes up, by more or
fewer official gradations, to the Under-Secretary of State, who reads,
or is supposed to read, all that has been written on the paper in its
earlier stages, balances the perhaps conflicting views of different
annotators, and, if the matter is too important for his own decision,
sums up in a minute of recommendation to the chief. The ultimate
decision, however, is probably less affected by the Under-Secretary's
minute than by the oral advice of a much more important personage, the
Permanent Head of the office.

It would be beyond my present scope to discuss the composition and
powers of the permanent Civil Service, whose chiefs have been, at least
since the days of Bagehot, recognized as the real rulers of this
country. For absolute knowledge of their business, for self-denying
devotion to duty, for ability, patience, courtesy, and readiness to help
the fleeting Political Official, the permanent chiefs of the Civil
Service are worthy of the highest praise. That they are
conservative[36] to the core is only to say that they are human. On
being appointed to permanent office the extremist theorists, like the
bees in the famous epigram, "cease to hum" their revolutionary airs, and
settle down into the profound conviction that things are well as they
are. All the more remarkable is the entire equanimity with which the
Permanent Official accepts the unpalatable decision of a chief who is
strong enough to override him, and the absolute loyalty with which he
will carry out a policy which he cordially disapproves.

Much of a Minister's comfort and success depends upon his Private
Secretary. Some Ministers import for this function a young gentleman of
fashion whom they know at home--a picturesque butterfly who flits gaily
through the dusty air of the office, making, by the splendour of his
raiment, sunshine in its shady places, and daintily passing on the work
to unrecognized and unrewarded clerks. But the better practice is to
appoint as Private Secretary one of the permanent staff of the office.
He supplies his chief with official information, hunts up necessary
references, writes his letters, and interviews his bores.

When the late Lord Ampthill was a junior clerk in the Foreign Office,
Lord Palmerston, then Foreign Secretary, introduced an innovation
whereby, instead of being solemnly summoned by a verbal message, the
clerks were expected to answer his bell. Some haughty spirits rebelled
against being treated like footmen, and tried to organize resistance;
but Odo Russell, as he then was, refused to join the rebellious
movement, saying that whatever method apprized him most quickly of Lord
Palmerston's wishes was the method which he preferred. The aggrieved
clerks regarded him as a traitor to his order--but he died an
ambassador. Trollope described the wounded feelings of a young clerk
whose chief sent him to fetch his slippers; and in our own day a Private
Secretary, who had patiently taken tickets for the play for his chief's
daughters, drew the line when he was told to take the chief's razors to
be ground. But such assertions of independence are extremely rare, and
as a rule the Private Secretary is the most cheerful and the most alert
of ministering spirits.

But it is time to return from this personal digression to the routine of
the day's work. Among the most important of the morning's duties is the
preparation of answers to be given in the House of Commons, and it is
often necessary to have answers ready by three o'clock to questions
which have only appeared that morning on the notice-paper. The range of
questions is infinite, and all the resources of the office are taxed in
order to prepare answers at once accurate in fact and wise in policy, to
pass them under the Minister's review, and to get them fairly copied out
before the House meets. As a rule, the Minister, knowing something of
the temper of Parliament, wishes to give a full, explicit, and
intelligible answer, or even to go a little beyond the strict terms of
the question if he sees what his interrogator is driving at. But this
policy is abhorrent to the Permanent Official. The traditions of the
Circumlocution Office are by no means dead, and the crime of "wanting to
know, you know," is one of the most heinous that the M.P. can commit.
The answers, therefore, as prepared for the Minister are generally
jejune, often barely civil, sometimes actually misleading. But the
Minister, if he be a wise man, edits them into a more informing shape,
and after a long and careful deliberation as to the probable effect of
his words and the reception which they will have from his questioner, he
sends the bundle of written answers away to be fair-copied and turns to
his correspondence.

And here the practice of Ministers varies exceedingly. Lord Salisbury
writes almost everything with his own hand. Mr. Balfour dictates to a
shorthand clerk. Most Ministers write a great deal by their Private
Secretaries. Letters of any importance are usually transcribed into a
copying-book. A Minister whom I knew used to burn the fragment of
blotting-paper with which he had blotted his letter, and laid it down as
an axiom that, if a constituent wrote and asked a Member to vote for a
particular measure, the Member should on no account give a more precise
reply than, "I shall have great pleasure in voting in the sense you
desire." For, as this expert observed with great truth, "unless the
constituent has kept a copy of his letter--and the chances are twenty to
one against that--there will be nothing to prove what the sense he
desired was, and you will be perfectly safe in voting as you like." The
letters received by a Minister are many, various, and surprising. Of
course, a great proportion of them relate to public business, and a
considerable number to the affairs of his constituency. But, in addition
to all this, lunatics, cranks, and impostors mark a Minister for their
own, and their applications for loans, gifts, and offices of profit
would exhaust the total patronage of the Crown and break the Bank of

When the day's official papers have been dealt with, answers to
questions settled, correspondence read, and the replies written or
dictated, it is very likely time to go to a conference on some Bill with
which the office is concerned. This conference will consist of the
Minister in charge of the Bill, two or three of his colleagues who have
special knowledge of the subject, the Permanent Officials, the
Parliamentary draftsman, and perhaps one of the Law Officers. At the
conference the amendments on the paper are carefully discussed, together
with the objects for which they were presumably put down, their probable
effect, their merits or demerits, and the best mode of meeting them. An
hour soon passes in this kind of anticipatory debate, and the Minister
is called away to receive a deputation.

The scene is exactly like that which Matthew Arnold described at the
Social Science Congress--the large bare room, dusty air, and jaded
light, serried ranks of men with bald heads and women in spectacles; the
local M.P., like Mr. Gregsbury in _Nicholas Nickleby_, full of
affability and importance, introducing the selected spokesmen--"Our
worthy mayor; our leading employer of labour; Miss Twoshoes, a
philanthropic worker in all good causes"--the Minister, profoundly
ignorant of the whole subject, smiling blandly or gazing earnestly from
his padded chair; the Permanent Official at his elbow murmuring what the
"practice of the department" has been, what his predecessor said on a
similar occasion ten years ago, and why the object of the deputation is
equally mischievous and impossible; and the Minister finally expressing
sympathy and promising earnest consideration. Mr. Bright, though the
laziest of mankind at official work, was the ideal hand at receiving
deputations. Some Ministers scold or snub or harangue, but he let the
spokesmen talk their full, listened patiently, smiled pleasantly, said
very little, treated the subject with gravity or banter as its nature
required, paid the introducing member a compliment on his assiduity and
public spirit, and sent them all away on excellent terms with themselves
and highly gratified by their intelligent and courteous reception.

So far we have described our Minister's purely departmental duties. But
perhaps the Cabinet meets at twelve, and at the Cabinet he must, to use
Mr. Gladstone's phrase, "throw his mind into the common stock" with his
fellow-Ministers, and take part in the discussions and decisions which
govern the Empire. By two o'clock or thereabouts the Cabinet is over.
The labours of the morning are now beginning to tell, and exhausted
Nature rings her luncheon-bell. Here again men's habits widely differ.
If our Minister has breakfasted late, he will go on till four or five,
and then have tea and toast, and perhaps a poached egg; but if he is an
early man, he craves for nutriment more substantial. He must not go out
to luncheon to a friend's house, for he will be tempted to eat and drink
too much, and absence from official territory in the middle of the day
has a bad look of idleness and self-indulgence. The _dura ilia_ of the
present[37] Duke of Devonshire could always cope with a slice of the
office-joint, a hunch of the office-bread, a glass of the office-sherry.
But, as a rule, if a man cannot manage to get back to the family meal in
South Kensington or Cavendish Square, he turns into a club, has a cutlet
and a glass of claret, and gets back to his office for another hour's
work before going to the House.

At 3.30 questions begin, and every Minister is in his place, unless,
indeed, there is a Levee or a Drawing-room, when a certain number of
Ministers, besides the great Officers of State, are expected to be
present. The Minister lets himself into the House by a private door--of
which Ministers alone have the key--at the back of the Chair. For an
hour and a half, or perhaps longer, the storm of questions rages, and
then the Minister, if he is in charge of the Bill under discussion,
settles himself on the Treasury Bench to spend the remainder of the day
in a hand-to-hand encounter with the banded forces of the Opposition,
which will tax to their utmost his brain, nerve, and physical endurance.
If, however, he is not directly concerned with the business, he goes out
perhaps for a breath of air and a cup of tea on the Terrace, and then
buries himself in his private room--generally a miserable little
dog-hole in the basement of the House--where he finds a pile of
office-boxes, containing papers which must be read, minuted, and
returned to the office with all convenient dispatch. From these labours
he is suddenly summoned by the shrill ting-ting of the division-bell and
the raucous bellow of the policeman to take part in a division. He
rushes upstairs two steps at a time, and squeezes himself into the
House through the almost closed doors. "What are we?" he shouts to the
Whip. "Ayes" or "Noes" is the hurried answer; and he stalks through the
lobby to discharge this intelligent function, dives down to his room
again, only, if the House is in Committee, to be dragged up again ten
minutes afterwards for another repetition of the same farce, and so on

It may be asked why a Minister should undergo all this worry of running
up and down and in and out, laying down his work and taking it up again,
dropping threads, and losing touch, and wasting time, all to give a
purely party vote, settled for him by his colleague in charge of the
Bill, on a subject with which he is personally unfamiliar. If the
Government is in peril, of course every vote is wanted; but, with a
normal majority, Ministers' votes might surely be "taken as read," and
assumed to be given to the side to which they belong. But the traditions
of Government require Ministers to vote. It is a point of honour for
each man to be in as many divisions as possible. A record is kept of all
the divisions of the session and of the week, and a list is sent round
every Monday morning showing in how many each Minister has voted.

The Whips, who must live and move and have their being in the House,
naturally head the list, and their colleagues follow in a rather
uncertain order. A Minister's place in this list is mainly governed by
the question whether he dines at the House or not. If he dines away and
"pairs," of course he does not in the least jeopardize his party or
embarrass his colleagues; but "pairs" are not indicated in the list of
divisions, and, as divisions have an awkward knack of happening between
nine and ten, the habitual diner-out naturally sinks in the list. If he
is a married man, the claims of the home are to a certain extent
recognized by his Whips, but woe to the bachelor who, with no domestic
excuse, steals away for two hours' relaxation. The good Minister
therefore stays at the House and dines there. Perhaps he is entertaining
ladies in the crypt-like dining-rooms which look on the Terrace, and in
that case the charms of society may neutralize the material discomforts.
But, if he dine upstairs at the Ministerial table, few indeed are the
alleviations of his lot. In the first place he must dine with the
colleagues with whom his whole waking life is passed--excellent fellows
and capital company--but nature demands an occasional enlargement of the
mental horizon. Then if by chance he has one special bugbear--a bore or
an egotist, a man with dirty hands or a churlish temper--that man will
inevitably come and sit down beside him and insist on being affectionate
and fraternal.

The room is very hot; dinners have been going on in it for the last two
hours; the [Greek: knise]--the odour of roast meat, which the gods
loved, but which most men dislike--pervades the atmosphere; your
next-door neighbour is eating a rather high grouse while you are at your
apple-tart, or the perfumes of a deliquescent Camembert mingle with your
coffee. As to beverages, you may, if you choose, follow the example of
Lord Cross, who, when he was Sir Richard, drank beer in its native
pewter, or of Mr. Radcliffe Cooke, who tries to popularize cider; or you
may venture on that thickest, blackest, and most potent of vintages
which a few years back still went by the name of "Mr. Disraeli's port."
But as a rule these heroic draughts are eschewed by the modern Minister.
Perhaps, if he is in good spirits after making a successful speech or
fighting his Estimates through Committee, he will indulge himself with
an imperial pint of champagne; but more often a whiskey-and-soda or a
half-bottle of Zeltinger quenches his modest thirst.

On Wednesday and Saturday our Minister, if he is not out of London,
probably dines at a large dinner-party. Once a session he must dine in
full dress with the Speaker; once he must dine at, or give, a full-dress
dinner "to celebrate her Majesty's Birthday." On the eve of the meeting
of Parliament he must dine again in full dress with the Leader of the
House, to hear the rehearsal of the "gracious Speech from the Throne."
But, as a rule, his fate on Wednesday and Saturday is a ceremonious
banquet at a colleague's house, and a party strictly political--perhaps
the Prime Minister as the main attraction, reinforced by Lord and Lady
Decimus Tite-Barnacle, Mr. and Mrs. Stiltstalking, Sir John Taper, and
young Mr. Tadpole. A political dinner of thirty colleagues, male and
female, in the dog-days is only a shade less intolerable than the greasy
rations and mephitic vapours of the House of Commons' dining-room.

At the political dinner "shop" is the order of the day. Conversation
turns on Brown's successful speech, Jones's palpable falling-off,
Robinson's chance of office, the explanation of a recent by-election, or
the prospects of an impending division. And, to fill the cup of boredom
to the brim, the political dinner is usually followed by a political
evening-party. On Saturday the Minister probably does two hours' work at
his office and has some boxes sent to his house, but the afternoon he
spends in cycling, or golfing, or riding, or boating, or he leaves
London till Monday morning. On Wednesday he is at the House till six,
and then escapes for a breath of air before dinner. But on Monday,
Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, as a rule, he is at the House from its
meeting at three till it adjourns at any hour after midnight. After
dinner he smokes and reads and tries to work in his room, and goes to
sleep and wakes again, and towards midnight is unnaturally lively.
Outsiders believe in the "twelve o'clock rule," but insiders know that,
as a matter of fact, it is suspended as often as an Irish member in the
'80 Parliament. Whoever else slopes homewards, the Government must stay.
Before now a Minister has been fetched out of his bed, to which he had
surreptitiously retired, by a messenger in a hansom, and taken back to
the House to defend his Estimates at three in the morning.

"There they sit with ranks unbroken, cheering on the fierce debate,
Till the sunrise lights them homeward as they tramp through
Storey's Gate,
Racked with headache, pale and haggard, worn by nights of endless
While the early sparrows twitter all along the Birdcage Walk."

Some ardent souls there are who, if report speaks true, are not content
with even this amount of exertion and excitement, but finish the night,
or begin the day, with a rubber at the club or even a turn at baccarat.
However, we are describing, not choice spirits or chartered _viveurs_,
but the blameless Minister, whose whole life during the Parliamentary
session is the undeviating and conscientious discharge of official duty;
and he, when he lays his head upon his respectable pillow any time after
1 a.m., may surely go to sleep in the comfortable consciousness that he
has done a fair day's work for a not exorbitant remuneration.


[35] 1897.

[36] The word "conservative" here applies only to official routine. The
Civil Service has no politics, but many of its members are staunch

[37] Spencer Compton, 8th Duke.



The diary from which these Recollections have been mainly gathered dates
from my thirteenth year, and it has lately received some unexpected
illustrations. In turning out the contents of a neglected cupboard, I
stumbled on a photograph-book which I filled while I was a boy at a
Public School. The school has lately been described under the name of
Lyonness,[38] and that name will serve as well as another. The book had
been mislaid years ago, and when it accidentally came to light a strange
aroma of old times seemed still to hang about it. Inside and out, it was
reminiscent of a life in which for five happy years I bore my part.
Externally the book showed manifest traces of a schoolboy's ownership,
in broken corners; plentiful ink-stains, from exercises and punishments;
droppings of illicit candle grease, consumed long after curfew-time;
round marks like fairy rings on a greensward, which indicated the
standpoint of extinct jam pots--where are those jam pots now? But, while
the outside of the book spoke thus, as it were, by innuendo and
suggestion, the inside seemed to shout with joyous laughter or chuckle
with irreverent mirth; or murmured, in tones lower perhaps, but
certainly not less distinct, of things which were neither joyous nor

The book had been carefully arranged. As I turned over the leaves,
there came back the memory of holiday-evenings and the interested
questionings of sisters over each new face or scene; and the kind
fingers which did the pasting-in; and the care with which we made
portrait and landscape fit into and illustrate one another. And what
memories, what impressions, strong and clear as yesterday's, clung to
each succeeding view! The Spire--that "pinnacle perched on a
precipice"--with its embosoming trees, as one had so often seen it from
the North-Western Railway, while the finger of fate, protruding from the
carriage window, pointed it out with--"That's where you will go to
school." And, years later, came the day when one travelled for the first
time by a train which did not rush through Lyonness Station (then how
small), but stopped there, and disgorged its crowd of boys and their
confusion of luggage, and oneself among the rest, and one's father just
as excited and anxious and eager as his son.

A scurry for a seat on the omnibus or a tramp uphill, and we find
ourselves abruptly in the village street. Then did each page as I turned
it over bring some fresh recollection of one's unspeakable sense of
newness and desolation; the haunting fear of doing something ludicrous;
the morbid dread of chaff and of being "greened," which even in my time
had, happily, supplanted the old terrors of being tossed in a blanket or
roasted at a fire. Even less, I venture to think, was one thrilled by
the heroic ambitions, the magnificent visions of struggle and success,
which stir the heroes of schoolboy novels on the day of their arrival.

Here was a view of the School Library, with its patch of greensward
separating it from the dust and traffic of the road. There was the Old
School with its Fourth Form Room, of which one had heard so much that
the actual sight of it made one half inclined to laugh and half to cry
with surprise and disappointment. There was the twisting High Street,
with its precipitous causeway; there was the faithful presentment of the
fashionable "tuck-shop," with two boys standing in the road, and the leg
of a third caught by the camera as he hurried past; and, wandering
through all these scenes in the album as one had wandered through them
in real life, I reached at last my boarding-house, once a place of
mystery and wonderful expectations and untried experiences; now full of
memories, some bright, some sad, but all gathering enchantment from
their retrospective distance; and in every brick and beam and cupboard
and corner as familiar as home itself.

The next picture, a view of the School Bathing-place, carried me a stage
onward in memory to my first summer quarter. Two terms of school life
had inured one to a new existence, and one began to know the pleasures,
as well as the pains, of a Public School. It was a time of cloudless
skies, and abundant "strawberry mashes," and _dolce far niente_ in that
sweetly-shaded pool, when the sky was at its bluest, and the air at its
hottest, and the water at its most inviting temperature.

And then the Old Speech-Room, so ugly, so incommodious, where we stood
penned together like sheep for the slaughter, under the gallery, to hear
our fate on the first morning of our school life, and where, when he had
made his way up the school, the budding scholar received his prize or
declaimed his verses on Speech Day. That was the crowning day of the
young orator's ambition, when there was an arch of evergreens reared
over the school gate, and Lyonness was all alive with carriages, and
relations, and grandees,

"And, as Lear, he poured forth the deep imprecation,
By his daughters of Kingdom and reason deprived;
Till, fired by loud plaudits and self-adulation,
He regarded himself as a Garrick revived."

Opposite the Old Speech-Room was the interior of the Chapel, with its
roof still echoing the thunder of the Parting Hymn; and the pulpit with
its unforgotten pleadings for truthfulness and purity; and the organ,
still vocal with those glorious psalms. And, high over all, the
Churchyard Hill, with its heaven-pointing spire, and the Poet's Tomb;
and, below, the incomparable expanse of pasture and woodland stretching
right away to the "proud keep with its double belt of kindred and coeval

"Still does yon bank its living hues unfold,
With bloomy wealth of amethyst and gold;
How oft at eve we watched, while there we lay,
The flaming sun lead down the dying day,
Soothed by the breeze that wandered to and fro
Through the glad foliage musically low.
Still stands that tree, and rears its stately form
In rugged strength, and mocks the winter storm;
There, while of slender shade and sapling growth,
We carved our schoolboy names, a mutual troth.
All, all, revives a bliss too bright to last,
And every leaflet whispers of the past."

And while the views of places were thus eloquent of the old days,
assuredly not less so were the portraits. There was the Head Master in
his silken robes, looking exactly as he did when, enthroned in the Sixth
Form Room, he used to deliver those well-remembered admonitions--"Never
say what you know to be wrong," and "Let us leave _commence_ and
_partake_ to the newspapers."

And there was the Mathematical Master--the Rev. Rhadamanthus
Rhomboid--compared with whom his classical namesake was a lenient judge.
An admirable example was old Mr. Rhomboid of a pedagogic type which, I
am told, is passing away--precise, accurate, stern, solid; knowing very
little, but that little thoroughly; never overlooking a slip, but seldom
guilty of an injustice; sternest and most unbending of prehistoric
Tories, both in matters political and educational; yet carrying
concealed somewhere under the square-cut waistcoat a heart which knew
how to sympathize with boy-flesh and the many ills which it is heir to.
Good old Mr. Rhomboid! I wonder if he is still alive.

Facing him in the album, and most appropriately contrasted, was the
portrait of a young master--the embodiment of all that Mr. Rhomboid most
heartily loathed. We will call him Vivian Grey. Vivian Grey was an
Oxford Double First of unusual brilliancy, and therefore found a special
charm and a satisfying sense of being suitably employed in his duty at
Lyonness, which was to instil [Greek: tupto] and Phaedrus into the
five-and-thirty little wiseacres who constituted the lowest form. Over
the heads of these sages his political and metaphysical utterances
rolled like harmless thunder, for he was at once a transcendentalist in
philosophy and a utilitarian Radical of the purest dye. All of which
mattered singularly little to his five-and-thirty disciples, but caused
infinite commotion and annoyance to the Rhomboids and Rhadamanthuses.
Vivian Grey at Oxford had belonged to that school which has been
described as professing

"One Kant with a K,
And many a cant with a c."

At Lyonness he was supposed to have helped to break the railings of Hyde
Park in the riot of 1866, and to be a Head Centre of the Fenian
Brotherhood. As to personal appearance, Mr. Grey was bearded like the
pard--and in those days the scholastic order shaved--while his taste in
dress made it likely that he was the "Man in the Red Tie" whom we
remember at the Oxford Commemoration some thirty years ago. In short, he
was the very embodiment of all that was most abhorrent to the old
traditions of the schoolmaster's profession; and proportionately great
was the appositeness of a practical joke which was played me on my
second or third morning at Lyonness. I was told to go for my
mathematical lesson to Mr. Rhomboid, who tenanted a room in the Old
School. Next door to his room was Mr. Grey's, and I need not say that
the first boy whom I asked for guidance playfully directed me to the
wrong door. I enter, and the Third Form suspend their Phaedrus, "Please,
sir, are you Mr. Rhomboid?" I ask, amid unsmotherable laughter. Never
shall I forget the indignant ferocity with which the professor of the
new lights drove me from the room, nor the tranquil austerity with which
Mr. Rhomboid, when I reached him, set me "fifty lines" before he asked
me my name.

On the same page I find the portrait of two men who have before now
figured in the world of school-fiction under the names of Rose and
Gordon.[39] Of Mr. Rose I will say no more than that he was an excellent
schoolmaster and a most true saint, and that to his influence and
warnings many a man can, in the long retrospect, trace his escape from
moral ruin. Mr. Gordon is now a decorous Dean; at Lyonness he was the
most brilliant, the most irregular, and the most fascinating of
teachers. He spoilt me for a whole quarter. I loved him for it then, and
I thank him even now.

These more distinguished portraits, of cabinet dimensions, were
scattered up and down among the miscellaneous herd of _cartes de
visits_. The art of Messrs. Hills and Saunders was denoted by the
pretentious character of the chairs introduced--the ecclesiastical
Glastonbury for masters, and velvet backs studded with gilt nails for
boys. The productions of the rival photographer were distinguished by a
pillar of variegated marble, or possibly scagliola, on which the person
portrayed leaned, bent, or propped himself in every phase of graceful
discomfort. The athletes and members of the School Eleven, dressed in
appropriate flannel, were depicted as a rale with their arms crossed
over the backs of chairs, and brought very much into focus so as to
display the muscular development in high relief. The more studious
portion of the community, "with leaden eye that loved the ground,"
scanned small photograph-books with absorbing interest; while a group of
editors, of whom I was one, were gathered round a writing-table, with
pens, ink, and paper, the finger pressed on the forehead, and on the
floor proofs of the journal which we edited--was it the _Tyro_ or the

Among the athletes I instantly recognize Biceps Max., captain of the
Cricket Eleven, and practically autocrat of my house--"Charity's" the
house was called, in allusion to a prominent feature of my tutor's
character. Well, at Charity's we did not think much of intellectual
distinction in those days, and little recked that Biceps was "unworthy
to be classed" in the terminal examination. We were much more concerned
with the fact that he made the highest score at Lord's; that we at
Charity's were absolutely under his thumb, in the most literal
acceptation of that phrase; that he beat us into mummies if we evaded
cricket-fagging; and that if we burnt his toast he chastised us with a
tea-tray. Where is Biceps now, and what? If he took Orders, I am sure he
must be a muscular Christian of the most aggressive type. If he is an
Old Bailey barrister, I pity the timid witness whom he cross-examines.
Why do I never meet him at the club or in society? It would be a
refreshing novelty to sit at dinner opposite a man who corrected your
juvenile shortcomings with a tea-tray. Would he attempt it again if I
contradicted him in conversation, or confuted him in argument, or capped
his best story with a better?

Next comes Longbow--Old Longbow, as we called him; I suppose as a term
of endearment, for there was no Young Longbow. He was an Irishman, and
the established wit, buffoon, and jester of the school. Innumerable
stories are still told of his youthful escapades, of his audacity and
skill in cribbing, of his dexterity in getting out of scrapes, of his
repartees to masters and persons in authority. He it was who took up the
same exercise in algebra to Mr. Rhomboid all the time he was in the
Sixth Form, and obtained maiks, ostensibly for a French exercise, with a
composition called _De Camelo qualis sit_. He alone of created boys
could joke in the rarefied air of the Head Master's schoolroom, and had
power to "chase away the passing frown" with some audacious witticism
for which an English boy would have been punished. Longbow was ploughed
three times at Oxford, and once "sent down." But he is now the very
orthodox vicar of a West End parish, a preacher of culture, and a
pattern of ecclesiastical propriety. Then, leaving these heroic figures
and coming to my own contemporaries, I discern little Paley, esteemed a
prodigy of parts--Paley, who won an Entrance Scholarship while still in
knickerbockers; Paley, who ran up the school faster than any boy on
record; Paley, who was popularly supposed never to have been turned in a
"rep" or to have made a false quantity; Paley, for whom his tutor and
the whole magisterial body were never tired of predicting a miraculous
success in after life. Poor Paley! He is at this moment languishing in
Lincoln's Inn, consoling himself for professional failure by
contemplating the largest extant collection of Lyonness prize-books. I
knew Paley, as boys say, "at home," and, when he had been a few years at
the Bar, I asked his mother if he had got any briefs yet. "Yes," she
answered with maternal pride; "he has been very lucky in that way." "And
has he got a verdict?" I asked. "Oh, no," replied the simple soul; "we
don't aspire to anything so grand as that."

Next to Paley in my book is Roderick Random, the cricketer. Dear Random,
my contemporary, my form-fellow and house-fellow; partaker with me in
the ignominy of Biceps's tea-tray and the tedium of Mr. Rhomboid's
problems: my sympathetic companion in every amusement, and the pleasant
drag on every intellectual effort--Random, who never knew a lesson, nor
could answer a question; who never could get up in time for First
School, nor lay his hand on his own Virgil--Random, who spent more of
his half-holidays in Extra School than any boy of his day, and had
acquired by long practice the power of writing the "record" number of
lines in an hour; who never told a lie, nor bullied a weaker boy, nor
dropped an unkind jest, nor uttered a shameful word--Random, for whom
every one in authority prophesied ruin, speedy and inevitable; who is,
therefore, the best of landlords and the most popular of country
gentlemen; who was the most popular officer in the Guards till duty
called him elsewhere, and at the last election came in at the top of the
poll for his native county.

Then what shall we say for Lucian Gay, whose bright eyes and curly hair
greet me on the same page, with the attractive charm which won me when
we stood together under the Speech-Room gallery on the first morning of
our school life? Gay was often at the top of his form, yet sometimes
near the bottom; wrote, apparently by inspiration, the most brilliant
verses; and never could put two and two together in Mr. Rhomboid's
schoolroom. He had the most astonishing memory on record, and an
inventive faculty which often did him even better service. He was the
soul of every intellectual enterprise in the school, the best speaker at
the Debating Society; the best performer on Speech Day; who knew nothing
about [Greek: ge] and less about [Greek: men] and [Greek: de]; who
composed satirical choices when he should have been taking notes on
Tacitus; edited a School Journal with surprising brilliancy; failed, to
conjugate the verbs in [Greek: mi] during his last fortnight in the
school; and won the Balliol Scholarship when he was seventeen. I trust,
if this meets his eye, he will accept it as a tribute of affectionate
recollection from one who worked with him, idled with him, and joked
with him for five happy years.

Under another face, marked by a more spiritual grace, I find written
_Requiescat_. None who ever knew them will forget that bright and pure
beauty, those eyes of strange, supernatural light, that voice which
thrilled and vibrated with an unearthly charm. All who were his
contemporaries remember that dauntless courage, that heroic virtue, that
stainless purity of thought and speech, before which all evil things
seemed to shrink away abashed. We remember how the outward beauty of
body seemed only the visible symbol of a goodness which dwelt within,
and how moral and intellectual excellence grew up together, blending
into a perfect whole. We remember the School Concert, and the enchanting
voice, and the words of the song which afterwards sounded like a warning
prophecy, and the last walk together in the gloaming of a June holiday,
and the loving, trusting companionship, and the tender talk of home. And
then for a day or two we missed the accustomed presence, and dimly
caught a word of dangerous illness; and then came the agony of the
parting scene, and the clear, hard, pitiless school bell, cutting on our
hearts the sense of an irreparable loss, as it thrilled through the
sultry darkness of the summer night.

Here I shut the book. And with the memories which that picture called up
I may well bring these Recollections to a close. It is something to
remember, amid the bustle and bitterness of active life, that one once
had youth, and hope, and eagerness, and large opportunities, and
generous friends. A tender and regretful sentiment seems to cling to the
very walls and trees among which one cherished such bright ambitions and
felt the passionate sympathy of such loving hearts. The innocence and
the confidence of boyhood pass away soon enough, and thrice happy is he
who has contrived to keep

"The young lamb's heart amid the full-grown flocks."


[38] In _School and Home Life,_ by T.G. Rooper, M.A.

[39] In _Eric_, by F.W. Farrar, D.D.



De ce cote de la Manche nous avons une specialite de souvenirs
militaires, et le public parait prendre gout a ce genre de lectures. De
l'autre cote, les souvenirs sont plutot d'ordre politique ou litteraire.
Ils n'en sont pas moins interessants. Apres tout, les recits de
massacres et de saccages se ressemblent beaucoup, qu'ils soient
d'Herodote ou de Canrobert: et meme il ne semble pas que le genre soit
en progres, si l'on compare les termes extremes de la serie. Car
Herodote vit autre chose que les tueries, et il l'en faut feliciter.

Il y a une autre difference entre les deux groupes de memoires en
question. Les notres ont trait pour la plupart a une epoque que beaucoup
de gens considerent comme un apogee, de sorte que, pour le lecteur, ils
apportent plutot un sentiment de decouragement. "Voila ce qu'ils
firent," se dit-il: "et nous?..." Car ce qu'on est convenu d'appeler
"les gloires" napoleoniennes du debut du siecle ne suffit pas, helas, a
effacer la tache--non moins napoleonienne--de 1870. Ce sentiment, le
lecteur anglais ne l'eprouve pas a lire les memoires qui lui sont
offerts, et qui, s'ils ne racontent pas, d'habitude, des exploits
guerriers, relatent les phases principales d'une lente evolution, d'un
progres tres reel dans les moeurs, dans la culture et dans
l'amelioration sociale generale.

Quel etait l'auteur du plus recent volume de souvenirs, _Collections and
Recollections_, publie par MM. Smith, Elder et C'ie, a Londres, on
l'ignora quelques semaines. Maintenant il n'y a plus de doute: l'auteur
s'est fait connaitre; c'est M.G.W.E. Russell. Sa personnalite importait
assez peu d'ailleurs: car ce n'est lui-meme qu'il raconte: ce sont ses
contemporains et les faits dont il a ete temoin. Mais M. Russell est un
homme de culture, qui a beaucoup approche de notabilites politiques et
litteraires, et a su les ecouter parler, saisissant plus volontiers le
cote humoristique ou anecdotique de leurs propos. Son livre est amusant
et instructif a la fois: et il met bien en lumiere, dans les premiers
chapitres en particulier, l'evolution dont il etait parle plus haut, la
transformation graduelle que les moeurs anglaises ont subie depuis le
commencement du siecle.

Ce n'est point que l'auteur soit centenaire, d'ailleurs. Il nous le dit
expressement: ses souvenirs personnels remontent a 1856 seulement: mais
il a beaucoup vu de vieilles gens, il a pris note de leurs recits, et
c'est par ces recits qu'il est facile de mesurer le chemin parcouru.

Ils confirment ce qu'on savait deja de la grossierete des moeurs a une
epoque encore recente. Du reste l'exemple venait de haut, et la famille
royale ne pouvait en imposer ni par la tenue, ni par la moralite.

Le prince de Galles, raconte Lord Seymour, dans des memoires inedits, le
prince de Galles assure--et doit s'y connaitre--"qu'il n'y a pas une
honnete femme a Londres, excepte Lady Parker et Lady Westmorland: et
encore sont-elles si betes qu'on n'en peut rien tirer: tout au plus
sont-elles capables de se moucher elles-memes." A la reception de Mme
Vaneck, la semaine derniere [ceci se passe en 1788], le prince de
Galles; a l'honneur de la politesse et de l'elegance de ses manieres,
mesura la largeur de Mme V---- par derriere avec son mouchoir, et alla
montrer les dimensions a presque tous ceux qui etaient la. Un autre
trait de la conduite respectueuse du prince: a cette meme assemblee il a
fait signe a la pauvre vieille duchesse de Bedford a travers une grande
salle, et apres qu'elle eut pris la peine de traverser cette derniere,
il lui dit brusquement n'avoir rien a lui communiquer. Le prince a rendu
visite la semaine derniere a Mme Vaneck, avec deux de ses ecuyers. En
entrant dans la salle il s'est exclame: "Il _faut_ que je le fasse: il
le _faut_ ..." Mme V---- lui a demande ce qu'il etait oblige de faire,
et la-dessus il a jete un clignement d'oeil a St. Leger et a l'autre
complice qui ont couche Mme V---- a terre, et le prince l'a positivement

C'etait le resultat d'un pari. Mais Mlle Vaneck avait quelque habitude
des "jeux de rois": le prince fit penitence le lendemain, et elle ne lui
en voulut point. Autre aimable fantaisie du prince: il recoit le duc
d'Orleans, accompagne de son frere naturel, l'abbe de la Fai(?). L'abbe
pretend avoir un secret pour charmer les poissons: d'ou le pari, a la
suite duquel l'abbe s'approche de l'eau pour chatouiller un poisson avec
une baguette. Se mefiant toutefois du prince, qu'il connaissait sans
doute de reputation, il dit qu'il espere bien que celui-ci ne lui jouera
pas le tour de le jeter a l'eau. Le prince de protester et de donner "sa
parole d'honneur." L'abbe commence a se pencher sur un petit pont et le
prince aussitot le saisit et le fait culbuter a l'eau, d'ou l'abbe se
tire non sans peine, et non sans colere, car il court sur le prince avec
un fouet pour le corriger, declarant a qui veut l'entendre ce qu'il
pense d'un prince incapable de tenir parole. Les _practical jokers_ de
ce genre n'etaient pas rares: le duc de Cumberland fit partager le meme
sort a une jeune fille qui servait de dame de compagnie. Les "grands"

Ils ont d'autres manieres de s'amuser: le jeu, la boisson, et le reste,
qui sont de tous les temps et de tous les pays: l'histoire de France en
peut temoigner autant que celle de n'importe quelle nation. Il faut
croire que ces plaisirs sont les plus appropries a la caste oisive et
riche, a qui il a suffi de naitre pour etre--ou paraitre--quelque chose.
Au reste, il n'y aurait guere a s'en plaindre: ils font office d'agents
de selection; ils eliminent--dans la sterilite ou imbecillite--des etres
imbeciles et malfaisants, et ils remettent en circulation des richesses
qui n'ont souvent ete accumulees qu'a coups de rapines, ou par une
perseverante marche dans les voies deshonnetes.

Mais ces soi-disant plaisirs menent de facon tres directe au crime:
c'est la une notion banale, et les exemples ne manquent point.

Le duc de Bedford--cinquieme du nom--ayant perdu de grosses sommes un
soir, a Newmarket, incrimina les des, les accusant d'etre pipes. Il se
leva de table en colere, saisit les instruments de son malheur, et les
emporta pour les examiner a loisir. Rentre chez lui, il se coucha, pour
se calmer, remettant ses investigations au lendemain. Celles-ci se
firent avec le concours de ses compagnons, et il dut reconnaitre que les
des etaient fort orthodoxes. Cela le surprit, mais il n'avait qu'a
s'executer et c'est ce qu'il fit: il adressa des excuses, et paya.
Quelques annees apres, un des joueurs qui se mourait le fit appeler. "Je
vous ai prie de venir," dit-il, "parce que je voulais vous dire que vous
etiez dans le vrai. Les des etaient effectivement pipes. Mais nous
attendimes que vous fussiez couche: nous nous sommes glisses dans votre
chambre, et aux des pipes que vous aviez emportes nous avons substitue
qui ne l'etaient point, et nous les avons places dans votre poche."
"Mais si je m'etais eveille, et si je vous avais pris sur le fait?..."
"Eh bien! nous etions decides a tout ... et nous avions des pistolets."

La seule action meritoire de sa vie, disait M. Goldwin Smith du duc
d'York, c'est de l'avoir une fois risquee en duel.... C'etait maigre,
pour un prince du sang, et pour un simple particulier aussi bien. Car il
ne la perdit point.

La delicatesse est tres mediocre.

William et John Scott, plus tard Lord Stowell et Lord Eldon, ayant
obtenu quelque succes comme avocats; dans leurs jeunes aimees, avaient
resolu de celebrer l'evenement par un diner a la taverne, apres quoi
l'on irait au theatre. En payant l'addition, William laissa tomber une
guinee que les deux freres ne purent retrouver. "Mauvaise affaire," fit
William: "voila qu'il nous faut renoncer au theatre." "Que non pas," dit
John: "je sais une tour qui vaut mieux." Il appela la servante. "Betty,
nous avons perdu deux guinees: voyez donc si vous pouvez les retrouver."
Betty se met a quatre pattes et cherche si bien qu'elle retrouve la
piece. "Bonne fille," fait William: "quand vous trouverez l'autre, vous
pourrez la garder pour votre peine." Et les deux freres s'en furent au
theatre, et plus tard aux plus hautes dignites de la magistrature. La
pauvre Betty a-t-elle jamais compris le tour? Il se peut: ce n'est point
par la delicatesse et les scrupules que se distinguait la clientele a
laquelle elle avait d'habitude affaire.

De facon generale, pourtant, ce monde avait un certain courage

Le cinquieme comte de Berkeley avait dit un jour, devant temoins, qu'il
n'y a point de honte a etre reduit par des adversaires, quand ceux-ci
l'emportent par le nombre, mais que, pour lui, il ne se rendrait jamais
a un voleur de grand chemin qui l'attaquerait seul.

En ce temps le brigandage etait repandu. Une nuit qu'il se rendait de
Berkeley a Londres, sa voiture fut arretee par un seigneur de grande
route qui, passant sa tete a la portiere, lui dit: "N'etes-vous pas Lord

"Certainement," repliqua celui-ci.

"C'est bien vous qui avez declare que vous ne vous rendriez jamais a un
voleur de grand chemin qui vous attaquerait seul?"


"Eh bien!"--et ce disant il braquait un pistolet sur Lord Berkeley--"je
suis un de ces voleurs, et je suis seul; je vous demande la bourse ou la

"Chien couard," crie Lord Berkeley, "crois-tu donc me tromper? Est-ce
que je ne vois pas tes complices caches derriere toi?"

Le voleur se retourne, surpris, pour voir ces complices qu'il ignorait,
car il etait reellement seul, et dans ce moment Lord Berkeley lui brule
la cervelle.

Courage, et surtout presence d'esprit. Cette anecdote a ete racontee a
notre auteur par la propre fille de Lord Berkeley.

La religion n'inspirait qu'un mediocre respect. La faute en etait en
partie a ses representants, en partie a l'esprit general. Un pur
formalisme, une etiquette mondaine, telle elle etait: rien de plus. Le
systeme etait commode; il est reste tel, d'ailleurs, et non pas
seulement en Angleterre.

Le mepris des choses religieuses etait naturel, et l'exemple partait de
haut. Un des freres du roi, le duc de Cambridge, s'etait fait une
specialite dans l'irreverence, en se creant pour lui seul une liturgie,
et en repondant personnellement a l'officiant.

"Prions," disait ce dernier a la congregation.

"Certainement," faisait observer le duc; "c'est cela; prions."

Le clergyman commenca. Sans doute, la saison etait fort seche, car il
demanda d'abord au ciel d'envoyer de la pluie. Mais le duc

"Inutile; rien a faire pour le moment, le vent est a l'Est...."

Le service continua par une lecture de la Bible. "Et Zacchee se leva et
dit: Vois, Seigneur, je donne la moitie de mes biens aux pauvres ..."

"C'est trop, c'est beaucoup trop," interrompit le duc; "des privileges,
si vous voulez, mais pas le reste."

On lit les commandements. Le duc les commente. Il en est deux qui le

"C'est tres bien dit; mais il est des cas ou c'est diablement difficile
d'obeir.... Ah! pour celui-la, non; c'est mon frere Ernest qui l'a
viole; cela ne me regarde pas."

A ce troupeau grossier, et mene par des pasteurs grossiers, on
chercherait avec peine quelques sentiments eleves, en dehors du courage
personnel. C'est quelque chose assurement: mais n'est-il pas infiniment
plus deshonorant de ne l'avoir point, qu'il n'est honorable de l'avoir?
Il ne semble pas qu'il y ait tant a vanter la possession d'un attribut
qu'il serait degradant de ne pas posseder: c'est une vertu negative. La
condition du peuple etait pitoyable: entre le _status_ des enfants des
fabriques et l'esclavage, il etait difficile d'apercevoir une
difference. A Bedlam, les alienes etaient enchaines a leurs lits de
paille, en 1828, et du samedi au lundi ils etaient abandonnes a
eux-memes, avec les aliments necessaires a portee, tandis que le geolier
allait s'amuser au dehors. En 1770, il y avait 160 offenses punies de la
peine de mort, et le nombre s'en etait beaucoup accru au commencement de
ce siecle. Le vol simple appelait la peine capitale, et pour avoir vole
cinq _shillings_ de marchandises dans un magasin, c'etait la corde. En
1789, on brulait les faux monnayeurs. C'etaient du reste des
rejouissances, que les executions, et pour inculquer a la jeunesse des
sentiments moraux, on conduisait des ecoles entieres au spectacle. Ceci
se passait encore en 1820. Sur le chapitre des dettes, la loi etait
feroce. Une femme est morte dans la prison d'Exeter apres quarante cinq
ans d'incarceration, cette derniere motivee par le fait qu'elle ne
pouvait acquitter une dette de moins de 500 francs... Aussi les
malheureux qui avaient perdu leur avoir, ou qui ne pouvaient faire face
a leurs engagements, etaient-ils, pour ainsi dire, jetes dans les bras
du crime. Plutot que d'aller moisir dans les cachots, ils prenaient la
fuite, et comme il faut manger, ils demandaient le necessaire a la
societe. Ils le demandaient de facons variees: l'une des plus repandues,
et qui est relativement honorable, consistait a se faire brigand de
grand chemin. Nombre de vaincus de la vie embrasserent cette carriere ou
l'on put voir des gentlemen ruines et jusqu'a un prelat, l'eveque de
Raphoe. Ils avaient beaucoup d'audace, pillant les voitures des invites
a peu de distance du palais.

Voila pour le passe.

C'est par le mouvement religieux, issu d'Oxford il y a bientot
soixante-dix ans, que la transformation fut operee. Par le mouvement
religieux, qui fut admirable, et aussi par le mouvement politique ou la
Revolution et la France jouerent un role preponderant. Ces deux facteurs
ont puissamment contribue a remodeler l'Angleterre.

La passion politique etait vive: et pendant un temps, tout l'interet se
concentra sur ce qui se passait en France. Tous les esprits qui avaient
a coeur la liberte civile et la liberte religieuse, tous ceux que
l'imperitie et la suffisance de la classe aristocratique degoutaient,
tous ceux qui voyaient avec mepris ce que l'Eglise avait pu faire de la
religion, avaient embrasse la cause de la France revolutionnaire. Fox, a
la prise de la Bastille, s'exclamait: "C'est le plus grand evenement qui
se soit passe au monde, et c'en est le meilleur." Il croyait que tout
serait fini avec le demantelement de la vieille forteresse symbolique et
ne prevoyait pas qu'elle pouvait etre sitot reconstituee: l'idee que le
peuple serait assez bete pour se forger, benevolement, des chaines pour
s'entraver lui-meme ne lui etait point apparue. Par contre, Burke etait
pessimiste. Il ne voyait la que "la vieille ferocite parisienne," et se
demandait si, apres tout, ce peuple n'est pas impropre a la liberte, et
s'il n'a pas besoin d'une main vigoureuse pour le contenir. Il etait
pessimiste et autoritaire: aussi eut-il beaucoup d'adherents; et Pitt
bientot se joignit a lui, au moins dans la haine des revolutionnaires.
Son humiliation fut une joie profonde pour les whigs qui suivaient Fox:
et il est interessant de voir que, pour beaucoup, la defaite de Pitt
comptait plus que celle de Napoleon. Il y avait des whigs jusque dans la
famille royale, et ils etaient pleins d'ardeur. Au reste la cause etait
belle: c'etait celle de la liberte contre l'autorite. "Nos adversaires,"
s'ecriait Lord John Russell, "nous cassent le tympan avec le cri: 'Le
roi et l'Eglise.' Savez-vous ce qu'ils entendent par la? C'est une
Eglise sans evangile et un roi qui se met au-dessus de la loi."
Oxford--clerical et litteraire--etait tory; Cambridge, scientifique, qui
avait eu Newton et attendait Darwin, etait whig. Il est bon que la
politique inspire de telles passions: car, au total, c'est la lutte
entre les principes fondamentaux, et l'enjeu est de nature telle que nul
n'a le droit de se desinteresser de la partie. Car l'enjeu ce sont les
hommes memes, leurs privileges et leurs droits, et s'ils se
desinteressent, ils n'ont que ce qu'ils meritent le jour ou la force
s'appesantit sur eux brutalement.

A n'entendre parler que de politique, les enfants memes se troublaient
"Maman," demandait la fille d'un whig eminent; "les tories naissent-ils
mechants, ou bien le deviennent-ils?" "Ils naissent mechants," repliqua
la mere, "et deviennent pires....' Une vieille fille excentrique, que
l'auteur a connue, ne consentait a monter dans une voiture de louage
qu'apres avoir demande au cocher s'il n'avait point transporte de
malades atteints d'une maladie infectieuse, s'il n'etait pas puseyite,
et enfin s'il adherait au programme whig.

"La passion aveugle," dit Topffer: elle aveuglait sur la moralite des
procedes. Pitt, en visite chez une femme qui occupait un rang eleve dans
le monde whig, au moment d'une election, dit a son interlocutrice: "Eh
bien! vous savez, nous l'emporterons. Dix mille guinees partiront
demain par un homme de confiance pour le Yorkshire, et c'est pour notre
usage qu'elles partent." "Du diable s'il en est ainsi," replique la
dame. Et la nuit meme le porteur etait arrete, et son precieux fardeau
allait grossir les poches des electeurs qui voterent pour le candidat
whig et en assurerent la nomination.

C'est au cours de ces luttes politiques, pleines de feu et glorieuses,
qui marquerent principalement le debut de ce siecle, et firent tant de
bien a la nation, que les barrieres entre les castes commencerent a
s'abaisser. Jusque-la, il n'y avait point de rapports entre
l'aristocratie et la classe moyenne, en dehors des cas, encore rares, ou
la premiere patronnait l'aristocratie intellectuelle. (Voyez _La Vie de
Johnson_ par Boswell, par exemple.)

Les choses allaient a ce point que Wilberforce refusa la pairie pour ne
point retirer a ses fils le privilege de frequenter chez les
_gentlemen_, les familles du commerce, etc. A l'ecole--et c'est lord
Bathurst qui a raconte ceci a l'auteur--les fils de nobles etaient assis
sur un banc a part, loin du contact avec les roturiers. Il fallait
garder la tradition. C'est ce que faisait le marquis d'Abercorn, qui
mourut en 1818. Il n'allait jamais a la chasse sans arborer sa
decoration--son _Blue Ribbon_--et exigeait que pour faire son lit les
femmes de chambre eussent les mains gantees, et de gants de peau, pas de
fil.... Avant d'epouser sa cousine Hamilton, il la fit anoblir par le
regent, pour ne pas se marier au-dessous de sa condition. Et quand il
apprit qu'elle le voulait planter la pour suivre un amant, il la pria de
prendre le carrosse de famille afin qu'il ne fut pas dit que Lady
Abercorn avait quitte le domicile conjugal dans une voiture de louage. A
ses yeux cette "voiture de louage" jetait evidemment un grand discredit
sur les operations. On a de la race ou l'on n'en a pas.

Nous avons dit plus haut que M.G.W.E. Russell avait connu beaucoup
d'hommes marquants de ce siecle, et avait eu avec eux des relations
personnelles. Il en fut de toutes sortes; leurs opinions religieuses et
politiques etaient souvent tres opposees, mais tous etaient au nombre
des, notabilites du jour. Sur chacun d'eux, notre auteur donne son
impression personnelle, et rappelle des souvenirs personnels ou des
anecdotes interessantes. Nous ne pouvons les passer tous en revue: mais
on en peut citer quelques-uns.

Sir Moses Montefiore ne fut pas le plus celebre: mais il avait une
specialite. Ne en 1784, il mourut en 1885, ayant ete toute sa vie un
objet d'horreur pour les _teetotallers_; car de quel oeil en verite
pouvaient-ils considerer un homme qui buvait chaque jour une bouteille
de porto, et a qui la Providence permettait de se bien porter? C'etait

Une physionomie plus curieuse etait celle de Lord Russell, plein
d'anecdotes, spirituel, souvent froid en apparence, a l'occasion
eloquent. A une dame qui demandait la permission de lui dedier un livre,
il repliquait qu'a son grand regret il se voyait oblige de refuser:
"parce que, comme chancelier de l'Universite d'Oxford, il avait ete tres
expose aux auteurs."

Pour un chef politique, il avait un grave defaut. Sa memoire des visages
etait tres faible. Il se rencontra une fois en Ecosse chez un ami commun
avec le jeune Lord D...., depuis comte de S.... Le jeune homme lui plut
par sa personne et par ses opinions _whig_. Quand vint l'heure de la
separation, Lord John dit a Lord D.... tout le plaisir qu'il avait eu a
faire sa connaissance, et ajouta: "Maintenant il faut que vous veniez me
donner votre appui a la Chambre des communes." "Mais je ne fais pas
autre chose depuis dix ans," repondit le jeune politicien. Son chef ne
l'avait pas reconnu. Avec cela des distractions qui auraient pu le faire
croire denue d'education alors qu'il n'etait que denue d'artifice.

Etant assis un soir a un concert a Buckingham Palace, aux cotes de la
duchesse de Sutherland, il se leva tout a coup, et s'en fut au fond de
la piece, ou il s'assit aupres de la duchesse d'Inverness. La chose fut
remarquee, et l'on soupconna quelque querelle, aussi fut-il interroge
par un ami sur la cause de son attitude, et il repondit et toute
sincerite: "Je ne pouvais rester plus longtemps aupres d'un feu aussi
vif: je me serais evanoui." "Ah! tres bien: la raison est bonne en
effet, mais au moins avez-vous dit a la duchesse de Sutherland la raison
de votre changement de place?" "Tiens, non, je ne crois pas le lui avoir
dit: mais j'ai dit a la duchesse d'Inverness pourquoi je venais
m'asseoir pres d'elle."

Il n'etait pas diplomate--comme on le peut voir--mais il avait de
l'esprit, et sa conversation etait pleine d'anecdotes curieuses. Il
avait converse avec Napoleon a l'ile d'Elbe. Celui-ci l'avait pris par
l'oreille, et lui avait demande ce qu'en Angleterre on pensait des
chances qu'il pouvait avoir de remonter sur le trone de France. "Sire,"
repondit Russell, "les Anglais considerent vos chances comme nulles."
"Alors vous pouvez leur dire de ma part qu'ils se trompent."

* * * * *

Autre physionomie interessante, celle de Lord Shaftesbury, un beau type
d'aristocrate, au physique comme au moral, tres sensible et
compatissant, un philanthrope bon et loyal, anti-esclavagiste militant.
"Pauvres enfants," disait-il en ecoutant le recit d'un inspecteur
d'ecole d'enfants assistes. "Que pouvons-nous faire pour eux?" "Notre
Dieu subviendra a tous leurs besoins," dit l'inspecteur, en servant le
cliche habituel. "Oui, sans doute, mais il faut qu'ils aient a manger
tout de suite," dit Shaftesbury, et sur l'heure il rentre chez lui, et
expedie 400 rations de soupe. Le quiproquo d'un journaliste americain
l'amusa fort. Devenu Lord Shaftesbury apres avoir longtemps porte le nom
de Lord Ashley, il signa une lettre sur l'emancipation des esclaves des
Etats-Unis du Sud. "Ou etait-il donc, ce lord Shaftesbury," demandait
le journaliste, "pendant que ce noble coeur, Lord Ashley, seul et sans
appui, se faisait le champion des esclaves anglais dans les manufactures
du Lancashire et du Yorkshire?" C'etait un type admirable de grand
seigneur, et de grand coeur, et l'on comprend ce que lui disait
Beaconsfield, avec un peu d'emphase, une fois qu'il prenait conge, apres
lui avoir rendu visite dans son chateau: "Adieu, mon cher lord. Vous
m'avez donne le privilege de contempler l'un des plus impressionnants
des spectacles; de voir un grand noble anglais vivant a l'etat
patriarcal dans son domaine hereditaire."

Puis c'est Lord Houghton, qui avait de l'esprit et de la psychologie. Il
venait de gagner une livre a un jeune homme de ressources tres modestes,
au cours d'une partie de whist, et comme il empochait la piece: "Ah! mon
cher enfant," dit-il, "le _grand_ Lord Hertford, que les sots appellent
le _mechant_ Lord Hertford, avait accoutume de dire: Il n'y a pas de
plaisir a gagner de l'argent a un homme qui ne sent point sa perte.
Comme c'est vrai!"

Et apercevant un jeune ami, au club, qui faisait un souper de pate de
foie gras et de Champagne, il lui fit un regard d'encouragement: "Voila
qui est bien, mon ami: toutes les choses agreables de la vie sont
malsaines, ou couteuses, ou illicites." C'est un peu la philosophie du
_Pudd'n-head Wilson_ de Mark Twain, qui declare que, pour bien faire
dans la vie, il faut se priver de tout ce que l'on aime, et faire tout
ce que l'on n'aime point.

Notre auteur n'a point connu Wellington, mais des anecdotes lui ont ete
fournies a son egard, de premiere main.

C'etait lors du couronnement de la reine Victoria. Celle-ci voulait
aller au palais de Saint-James, n'ayant dans son carrosse que la
duchesse de Kent et une dame d'honneur; mais Lord Albemarle, _master of
the Horse_, exposa qu'il avait le droit de faire le trajet avec la
reine, dans la meme voiture, comme il l'avait fait avec Guillaume IV.
De la, discussion. L'affaire fut soumise au duc de Wellington, considere
comme une sorte d'arbitre en choses de la cour. Sa reponse fut precise
et peu satisfaisante. "La reine seule a droit de decider," dit-il: "elle
peut vous faire aller dans la voiture ou hors de la voiture, ou courir
derriere comme un s... chien de raccommodeur."

A un autre moment le gouvernement meditait une expedition en Birmanie
pour la prise de Rangoon, et l'on se demandait a quel general la tache
serait confiee. Le cabinet consulta Wellington. Celui-ci repliqua
aussitot: 'Envoyez Lord Combermere.'

"Mais nous avons toujours compris que Votre Seigneurie considerait Lord
Combermere comme un imbecile...." "Assurement, c'est un imbecile,"
repliqua Wellington, "c'est un s... imbecile, mais il peut bien prendre

Autre trait de la meme periode, et qui se rapporte a Lord Melbourne.

La reine Victoria venait de se fiancer, et elle voulait que le prince
Albert fut fait roi consort, par acte du Parlement. Elle parla de ceci a
Lord Melbourne, le premier ministre. Celui-ci commenca par eviter la
discussion, mais comme Sa Majeste insistait pour obtenir un avis
categorique: "Pour l'amour de Dieu, Madame, ne parlons plus de ceci.
Car, une fois que vous aurez donne a la nation anglaise le moyen de
faire des rois, vous lui aurez aussi donne le moyen de les defaire."

Il avait de la philosophie, Lord Melbourne.... C'est lui qui disait que
l'intelligence n'est pas toujours indispensable: le grand avantage du
celebre ordre de la Jarretiere, ajoutait-il, c'est qu'au moins "il n'y a
pas, dans toute cette bete d'histoire, de _merite_ a l'avoir." Lord
Melbourne avait la bosse de l'esprit pratique, en meme temps que la

Pour les personnalites plus modernes, notre auteur insiste assez
longuement sur Disraeli, _alias_ Dizzy, _alias_ encore Lord
Beaconsfield. C'etait un homme ingenieux.

"On m'accuse d'etre un flatteur," disait-il a Matthew Arnold. "Cela est
vrai, je suis un flatteur. Il est utile de l'etre. Chacun aime la
flatterie, et, si vous approchez les rois, il faut l'empiler avec une
truelle...." "Mon secret, c'est de ne jamais contredire et de ne jamais
nier; j'oublie quelquefois...."

Il savait etre aimable quand il le fallait, et voici son procede pour se
faire bien venir des personnes qu'il ne reconnaissait pas, mais qui le
connaissaient, a en juger par leur maniere de venir a lui: "Eh bien!"
disait-il sur un ton d'affectueuse sollicitude, "et le vieil ennemi, que
fait-il?" (_How is the old complaint?_ Comment va l'indisposition
accoutumee?) Cela tombait rarement a faux; et cela faisait toujours

Bismarck, qui s'y connaissait, avait une haute opinion de Disraeli,
"Salisbury est sans importance," disait-il durant le congres de Berlin:
"ce n'est qu'une baguette peinte pour ressembler a du fer. Mais ce vieux
juif--Disraeli--s'entend aux affaires."

Un amusant episode se rapporte au meme congres, et au meme "vieux juif."

Lord Beaconsfield arriva a Berlin la veille de l'ouverture, et
l'ambassade anglaise le recut avec beaucoup d'apparat. Dans le courant
de la soiree un des secretaires vint trouver Lord Odo Russell qui etait
l'ambassadeur en ce moment et lui dit:

"Nous sommes dans un terrible embarras. Vous seul pouvez nous en tirer.
Le vieux chef a resolu d'ouvrir le congres avec un discours en
francais.... Il a redige une longue oraison, en francais, et il l'a
apprise par coeur. Il ouvrira les ecluses demain. L'Europe entiere va se
moquer de nous: sa prononciation est execrable. Nous perdrions nos
places a vouloir le lui dire: voulez-vous nous tirer d'affaire?"

"La mission est delicate," fit Lord Odo: "mais j'aime les missions
delicates. Je vais voir ce que je puis faire."

Il alla rejoindre Dizzy dans la chambre a coucher d'honneur de

"Mon cher lord," dit-il, "une terrible rumeur est arrivee jusqu'a mes

"Vraiment, qu'est-ce donc?"

"On nous dit que vous avez l'intention d'ouvrir demain les travaux du
congres en francais."

"Eh bien! et apres?"

"Ce qu'il y a, c'est que nous savons tous que nul en Europe n'est mieux
en etat de ce faire. Mais, a tout prendre, faire un discours en francais
est un tour de force banal. Il y aura au congres au moins une
demi-douzaine d'hommes qui pourraient en faire autant, presque aussi
bien. Mais, d'un autre cote, qui donc, hormis vous, pourrait prononcer
un discours en anglais? Tous ces plenipotentiaires sont venus des
differentes cours d'Europe dans l'expectative du plus grand regal
intellectuel de leur existence: entendre parler en anglais par le maitre
le plus eminent de la langue. La question est de savoir si vous les
voulez desappointer?..."

Dizzy ecouta avec attention, mit son monocle, considera Lord Odo, et dit

"11 y a un argument serieux dans ce que vous me dites la. Je vais y

Et il y reflechit si bien que le lendemain il ouvrait le congres en
langue anglaise. Avait-il reellement avale la flatterie, ou bien
avait-il compris--fut-ce vaguement--son inferiorite en francais? On ne
sait; mais un flatteur tel que lui devait avoir quelque mefiance; et la
seconde hypothese est sans doute la plus exacte.

Autre anecdote. Il dinait un jour a cote de la princesse de Galles, et
se blessa le doigt en voulant couper du pain trop dur. La princesse,
pleine de grace, entoura le doigt de son propre mouchoir. Et Dizzy, avec
a-propos, de s'exclamer:

"Je leur ai demande du pain, et c'est une pierre qu'ils m'ont
donnee.... Mais j'ai eu une princesse pour panser mes plaies."

Sa mort fut longue et douloureuse. Pendant six semaines elle approcha et
s'eloigna tour a tour. Un ami--ce nom est-il bien en situation--trouva
le courage de dire a ce propos: "Ah! le voila bien; il exagere: il a
toujours exagere."

Sur Gladstone, Newman et beaucoup d'autres, il faut passer rapidement.
Manning a toutefois laisse une grande impression a l'auteur, par sa
prestance et sa dignite. Il etait malicieux aussi.

Peu apres la mort de Newman, un article necrologique parut dans une
revue, qui etait piquant et meme mechant. Manning fut interroge a ce
propos; il declara qu'il plaignait l'auteur de l'avoir ecrit, que
celui-ci devait avoir un fort mauvais esprit, etc., mais, ajouta-t-il:
"Si vous demandez si c'est bien la Newman, je suis bien oblige de vous
le dire; c'est une vraie photographie."

On peut du reste ouvrir _Collections and Recollections_ au hasard; a
toute page c'est un trait curieux et spirituel qui se montre. J'en cite
quelques-uns, "tout venant," comme disent les carriers. Les deux
premiers rapportent a Henry Smith, un Irlandais des plus spirituels, qui
fut professeur de geometrie a Oxford. Un homme politique eminent, qui
est actuellement un des premiers jurisconsultes de son pays, et dont le
principal defaut est une suffisance exageree, se presentait aux
elections en 1880, comme candidat liberal. Pour le discrediter, ses
adversaires politiques le representerent aux elections comme athee;
c'etait une manoeuvre. Apprenant cette accusation, Henry Smith s'ecria,
avec une indignation feinte:

"Tout cela est faux. Il n'est nullement un athee. Il croit le plus
fermement du monde a l'existence d'un etre superieur "--sans ajouter que
l'etre superieur, en qui X----croyait, etait X---- lui-meme.

"Que vaut-il le mieux etre, eveque ou juge?" "Oh!" fait Henry Smith,
"eveque. Car le juge, au plus, peut dire: 'Allez vous faire pendre;'
mais l'eveque peut vous damner." "Oui," dit le maitre de Balliol, "mais
si le juge dit: 'Allez vous faire pendre,' vous etes effectivement
pendu." Ici Smith avait le dessous.

Une jolie anecdote dont Napoleon III. _n'est pas_ le heros:

Napoleon III., alors qu'il n'etait que pretendant, et plus riche
d'esperances que de monnaie ayant cours legal, frequentait beaucoup, a
Londres, chez Lady Blessington, maison plus clinquante que solide. Apres
le coup d'Etat, la dame vint a Paris faire un petit voyage, et elle
s'attendait a ce que ses politesses lui fussent rendues. Aucune
invitation ne venait, l'empereur oubliait les bienfaits recus par le
prince. A la fin, pourtant, Lady Blessington reussit a le rencontrer au
cours d'une reception quelconque. Il ne put eviter de la voir et
l'interpella: "Ah! milady Blessington, restez-vous longtemps a Paris?"
"Et vous, Sire?" repliqua-t-elle.

Revenons un peu en arriere et voici une autre jolie ironie.

Au college d'Oriel, un soir, un des compagnons de Charles Marriott, qui
joua un si grand role dans le _Tractarian Movement_, s'oublia, et se
conduisit de facon deplacee. Le lendemain, rencontrant Marriott, il
essaya de s'excuser. "Mon cher ami, je crois bien que j'ai quelque peu
fait la bete hier au soir." "Comment donc, cher camarade?" repliqua
Marriott. "Je ne me suis pas apercu que vous fussiez autrement qu'a

Le tact n'est pas donne a tous; et pour en avoir, il ne suffit pas
d'occuper une haute situation.

Il y a a Windsor, au bout d'une des promenades du chateau, une statue
equestre que le peuple a denommee le Cheval de cuivre. Un grand de
distinction, mais assez pauvre en culture historique, etait l'hote de la
Reine, et une apres-midi il fit une promenade. A diner la Reine
s'informa de ce qu'il avait fait, demandant s'il n'etait point fatigue.

"Du tout, Madame, merci; j'ai trouve une voiture qui m'a ramene jusqu'au
Cheval de cuivre."

"Jusqu'ou?" dit la Reine avec effarement

"Jusqu'au Cheval de cuivre, vous savez bien, au bout de Long Walk."

"Mais ce n'est pas un cheval de cuivre: c'est mon grand-pere."

"Avez-vous lu les _Greville Memoirs_?" demandait quelqu'un a Disraeli.
"Non," repliqua-t-il. "Ils ne m'attirent pas. Il me souvient de
l'auteur, et c'etait la personne la plus vaniteuse avec qui je sois
jamais entre en contact, encore que j'aie lu Ciceron et connu Bulwer
Lytton." D'une pierre trois coups; et ils sont bons. Voulez-vous de la
malice feminine?

"Que Lady Jersey est donc belle!" s'exclamait un admirateur fervent,
devant Lady Morley, sa rivale en beaute. "Dans sa toilette de deuil, en
noir et avec ses diamants, elle semble personnifier la nuit." "Oui, mon
cher," fit Lady Morley, "mais minuit passe."

* * * * *

Le chapitre des mots d'enfants est fort etendu. J'en cueille
quelques-uns au hasard:

Voici un trait d'Alexandre de Battenberg, alors qu'il etait tout jeune
encore. Manquant d'argent de poche, il imagina d'ecrire a son auguste
grand'mere, la reine et imperatrice Victoria, pour en demander. Elle lui
repondit une admonestation, et en l'engageant a etre desormais plus
econome, de facon a ne pas se trouver depourvu a la fin du mois. Tres
bien. Quelque jours apres, elle recut un second billet de son

"Chere grand'mere," disait le tres pratique personnage, "je suis certain
que vous apprendrez avec plaisir que je n'ai pas besoin de vous ennuyer
pour de l'argent en ce moment, car j'ai vendu votre derniere lettre pour
30 shillings a un de mes camarades d'ici!..."

Un enfant--qui depuis a ete representant de Manchester au
Parlement--avait dans sa famille une servante qu'il jugeait etre fort
vieille. Il eut voulu savoir son age, mais il n'osait le lui demander,
sachant que c'est la une question qu'on ne pose pas. Il fallait ruser.
Enfin, un jour, il trouva le biais requis. Il venait de lire que l'aloes
ne fleurit qu'une fois tous les cent ans--ce qui est une erreur
d'ailleurs--et il y avait des aloes dans la serre. Abordant la servante
d'un air calin: "Avez-vous souvent vu fleurir l'aloes?"

Une elegante forme de politesse. C'est aux Indes, et un Indien rend
compte au gouverneur d'une partie de chasse qui a ete organisee en
l'honneur d'un jeune lord de passage. "Eh bien?" fait le gouverneur.
"Oh!" dit l'Indien, "le jeune Sahib a tire divinement; mais Dieu a ete
tres misericordieux pour les petits oiseaux."

Comme cela est finement dit! Je n'en dirai pas autant de quelques
exemples de rhetorique religieuse.

C'est une metaphore cueillie dans le sermon d'un clergyman: "Et si
quelque etincelle de grace a pu etre allumee par cet exercice, veuille,
o Dieu, l'arroser."

Et que dites-vous de cette priere prononcee devant la reine Victoria par
un predicateur de petite ville? "Elle," c'est la souveraine: "accorde, o
Dieu! qu'en devenant plus agee elle soit faite un homme nouveau, et que
dans toutes les causes de justice elle marche en avant de son peuple
comme un belier dans les montagnes."

Que de metamorphoses, grand Dieu!

Et enfin, pour ne pas sortir de la theologie. C'est aux examens de

"Qu'est-ce que la foi?

"C'est cette faculte par laquelle nous pouvons croire ce que nous savons
n'etre pas vrai."

Et j'en passe, et des meilleures, et en grand nombre. Lisez _Collections
and Recollections_ l'occupation est amusante et instructive, et une
excellente table des noms vous permettra de savoir tout de suite s'il
est parle de tel ou toi personnage et de retrouver les anecdotes qui le

Abercorn, marquis of
Acton, Lord
Albermarle, sixth Earl of,
fifth Earl of
Albert, Prince Consort
Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (_see_ Wales)
Alvanley, Lord
Ampthill, Lord
Appleton, Tom
Apponyi, Mme.
Arbuthnot, Mrs.
Argyll, Duke and Duchess of
Arnold, Matthew
Atholl, Duke and
Duchess of Aytoun, W.E.

Balfour, A.J.
Barham, Rev. R.H.D. ("Thomas Ingoldsby")
Barker, H.J.
Bathurst, Earl
Battenberg, Prince Alexander of
Bayly, T.H.
Beaconsfield, Earl of
Beaconsfield, Viscountess
Bedford, Anna Maria, Duchess of
fifth Duke of
Gertrude, Duchess of
sixth Duke of
Benson, Dr., Archbishop of Canterbury
Benson, Harry
Beresford-Hope, A.J.B.
Berkeley, Earl of
Bernal-Osborne, Ralph
Berry, the Misses
Birrell, Augustine
Bismarck, Count Herbert
Blessington, Countess of
Blomfield, Dr., Bishop of London
Bolles, Dame Maria
Bolton, Duchess of
Boswell, James
Bowen, Lord
Braddon, Miss
Bright, John
Brookfield, Rev. W.H.
Brougham, Lord
Broughton, Miss,
Browne, Dr., Bishop of Ely,
Browning, Robert,
Brownrigg, Mrs.,
Brummell, G.B.,
Buckinghamshire, Countess of,
Bull, Bishop,
Burdett, Sir Francis,
Burgon, Dean,
Burke, Sir Bernard,
Bury, Lady Charlotte,
Butler, Dr., Master of Trinity,
Dr., Bishop of Lichfield,
Byng, George,
Byron, Lord,

Calverley, C.S.,
Cambridge, Adolphus, Duke of,
Duchess of,
Canning, George,
Canterbury, Archbishops Benson,
Cornwallis, Howley, Tait, and
Temple, of (_see_ those headings).
Carlyle, Thomas,
Carrington, Lord,
"Carroll, Lewis,"
Chamberlain, Joseph,
Charles I.,
Chatham, Earl of,
Child, Miss,
Church, Dean,
Churchill, Lord Randolph,
Clarence, Edward, Duke of,
William, Duke of,
Cleveland, Duchess of,
Cobbett, William,
Cobden, F.C.,
Cockburn, Sir Alexander,
"Coke of Norfolk" (Earl of Leicester),
Coleridge, Lord,
Sir J.T.,
Collins, Miss,
Combermere, Viscount,
Connaught, Duke of,
Prince Arthur of,
Cornwallis, Dr., Archbishop of Canterbury,
Cowper-Temple, W.F. (Lord Mount-Temple),
Croker, J.W.,
Cross, Viscount,
Cumberland, Ernest, Duke of,
Henry Frederick, Duke of,
Cuyler, Miss,
Cunningham, Sir Henry,

Delane, J.T.,
Denison, Archdeacon,
Derby, fourteenth Earl of,
fifteenth Earl of,
De Ros, Lord,
Devonshire, eighth Duke of,
Dickens, Charles,
Disraeli (_see_ Beaconsfield).
D'Orsay, Count Alfred,
Dowse, Serjeant,
Dublin, Archbishops Plunket, Trench, and Whately, of (_see_
those headings).
Duckworth, Rev. Dr.
Dufferin, Marchioness of,
Marquis of,
Duncombe, Thomas,
Dundas, Sir David,

Eldon, Earl of,
Elliot, Dean,
Ely, Bishops Browne, Sparke,
Turton, and Woodford, of (_see_
those headings).
Erne, Earl and Countess of,
Erskine, Lord,
Evarts, Jeremiah,
Exeter, Dr. Phillpotts, Bishop of,
Eyton, Rev. Robert,

FitzGerald, Lady Edward,
Fitzherbert, Mrs.,
Fitzwilliam, Earl,
Forster, W.E.,
Fox, C.J.,
Frederick, the Empress (Princess
Freeman, E.A.,
Fronde, J.A.,
Furse, Archdeacon,

Gambetta, Leon,
George IV. (_see_ under Kings).
Gladstone, W.E.,
Glasse, Hannah,
Glentworth, Viscountess,
Gloucester, Duke of ("Silly Billy"),
Gore, Rev. Charles,
Goschen, G.J.,
Gower, Earl,
Graham, H.J.L.,
Grain, Corney,
Granville, Earl,
Grattan, Henry,
Grenville, Thomas,
Greville, C.C.F.,
Grey, Colonel Charles,

Grey, Earl,
Lady Georgiana,
Guthrie, Anstey,

Haig-Brown, Rev. Dr.,
Hamilton, Lady Anne,
Lady Cecil,
Emma, Lady,
Hampden, Viscount,
Dr., Bishop of Hereford,
Hankey, Thomson,
Hanover, Ernest, King of,
Harcourt, Lady Anne,
Dr., Archbishop of York,
Sir William,
Hardy, Gathorne (Earl of Cranbrook),
Harness, Rev. William,
Harte, Bret,
Hayward, Abraham,
Healy, T.M.,
Heath, Baron,
Hertford, first Marquis of,
third Marquis of,
Hilton, A.C.,
Hoare, Mrs.,
Holland, Sir Henry, M.D.,
Rev. H.S.,
Hook, Dean,
Hope-Scott, J.R.,
Houghton, Lord,
Howley, Dr., Archbishop of Canterbury,
Hugo, Victor,
Hume, David,
Huntingdon, Countess of,

"Ingoldsby, Thomas" (Rev.
R.H. D, Barham), his "Legends,"
Irving, Sir Henry,

Jenkins, Miss A.M.,
Jersey, Countess of,
Jessopp, Rev. Dr.,
Johnson, Dr.,
Jones, W.B.T.,
Jowett, Rev. Benjamin,

Keble, Rev. John,
Kent, Duchess of,
Keppel, Admiral,
Kidd, Dr.,
Earnest of Hanover,
George III.,
George IV.,
William IV.,
Kingsley, Rev. Charles,
Kipling, Rudyard,
Kitchener, Dr.,
Knox, Alexander,
Knutsford, Viscount,
Kurr, William,

Labouchere, Henry,
La Fai, l'Abbe de,
Lang, Andrew,
Law, Rev. William,
Lawson, Sir Wilfrid,
Lear, Edward,
Lecky, W.E.H.,
Leech, John,
Leicester, Earl of ("Coke of Norfolk"),
Lennox, Lady Louisa,
Leo XIII. (_see_ Popes, Leo XIII.).
Liddell, Dean,
Liddon, Rev. Dr.,
Lightfoot, Dr., Bishop of Durham,
Lily, Mrs.,
Lincoln, Abraham,
Lind, Jenny,
London, Dr. Blomfield, Bishop of,
Lover, Samuel,
Lowell, J.R.,
Luttrell, Henry,
Lyndhurst, Lady,
Lyttelton, Lady,
Lytton, Lord,

Macaulay, Lord,
M'Carthy, Justin,
MacColl, Rev. Malcolm,
Mackintosh, Sir James,
Macleod, Rev. Norman,
Mallock, W.H.,
Manners, Lord John (Duke of Rutland),
Manning, Cardinal,
Marlborough, third Duke of,
fourth Duke of,
Marriott, Rev. Charles,
Marsh, Dr., Bishop of Peterborough,
Marten, Henry,
Martin, Sir Theodore,
Maude, Capt. Francis,
Maxse, Lady Caroline,
Maxwell, Sir Herbert,
Melbourne, Viscount,
Merry, Rev. W.W.,
Milnes, R.M. (_see_ Lord Houghton)
"Miss J.,"
Monk, Dr., Bishop of Gloucester,
Montefiore, Sir Moses,
Montgomery, Miss,
Rev. Robert,
Moore, Thomas,
More, Hannah,
Morley, John,
", Countess of,
Morris, Lord,
Motley, J.L.,
Mount-Temple, Lord (_see_ Cowper-Temple, W.F.).

Napoleon I.,
Newman, Cardinal,
Northumberland, Duke and Duchess of,
Norton, Mrs.,

OAKS Widows, the,
O'Coighley, J.,
O'Connell, Daniel,
"Old Q.,"
Orleans, Duke of,
O'Sullivan, W.H.,
Owen, Sir Hugh,

Palmerston, Viscount,
"Pamela" (Lady Edward FitzGerald),
Parke, Sir James (_see_ Lord Wensleydale).
Parr, Rev. Dr.,
Pater, W.H.,
Payn, James,
Peel, Sir Robert (father),
Pembroke, Countess,
Earl of,
Phillpotts, Dr., Bishop of Exeter,
Pigott, Miss,
Pitt, William (_see_ Chatham).
Pitt, William (younger),
Pius IX. (_see_ Popes, Pius IX.).
Plunket, Lord,
Pollock, Sir Frederick,
Popes, Leo XIII.,
Pius IX.,
Prince Regent (_see_ Kings, George IV.).
Princess Royal (_see_ Victoria, Princess Royal).
Procter, Mrs.,

Queen Victoria,
Queensberry, Duke of (_see_ "Old Q.")

Raikes, H.C.,
Raphoe, Dr. Twysden, Bishop of (_see_ Twysden, Dr.).
Rawlinson, Sir Robert,
Reynolds, Sir Joshua,
Rhoades, James,
Richmond, Rev. Legh,
Duchess of,
Ridding, Dr., Bishop of Southwell,
Lady Laura,
Robinson, Rev. Thomas,
Rochester, Dr. Thorold, Bishop of (_see_ Thorold).
Rogers, Samuel,
J.E. Thorold,
Rosebery, Earl of,
Rossetti, D.G.,
Rowton, Lord,
Ruskin, John,
Russell, Lord Charles,
Lord John (sixth Duke of Bedford),
Lord John (Earl Russell),
Russell, Odo (Lord Ampthill),
Lord William,
Lord Wriothesley,
Rutland, Duke of,

Salisbury, Marquis of,
Saurin, Lady Mary (_nee_ Ryder),
Sawbridge, Mrs.,
Scott, John (Earl of Eldon),
Rev. Thomas,
Sir Waller,
William (Lord Stowell),
Seaman, Owen,
Seeley, Sir John,
Sellon, Miss,
Seymour, Lady Robert,
Sir Hamilton,
Jane, Lady (Duchess of Somerset),
Lord Robert,
Shaftesbury, sixth Earl of,
seventh Earl of,
Shaw-Lefevre, Charles (Viscount Eversley),
Sheil, R.L.,
Sheppard, Thomas,
Sherbrooke, Viscount,
Sheridan, Jane (Lady Seymour, Duchess of Somerset),
Sheridan, R.B.,
Short, Rev. Thomas,
Shorthouse, J.H.,
Shuckburgh, Lady,
Sibthorp, Colonel,
Siddons, Mrs.,
"Silly Billy,"
Smith, Eliza,
Smith, Robert (Lord Carrington),
Rev. Sydney,
Somerset, Duchess of (_see_ Sheridan, Jane).
Southey, Robert,
Southwell, Dr. Ridding, Bishop of,
Sparke, Dr., Bishop of Ely
Spencer, Rev. George,
Stael, Mme de,
Stanley, Dean,
Stephen, J.K.,
Stirling, Sir Walter,
Stowell, Lord,
Stuart, Prince Charles Edward,
Lady Louisa,
Sturgis, Julian,
Sumner, Dr., Bishop of Winchester,
Sussex, Duke of,
Swinburne, A.C.,

Tait, Dr., Archbishop of Canterbury,
Talleyrand, Prince,
Talmash, Lady Bridget,
Temple, Dr., Archbishop of Canterbury,
Tennyson, Lord,
Thackeray, W.M.,
Thistlewood, Arthur,
Thompson, Dr. (Master of Trinity),
Thomson, Dr., Archbishop of York,
Thorold, Dr., Bishop of Winchester,
Sir John,
Tighe, Lady Louisa,
Trench, Dr., Archbishop of Dublin,
Trevelyan, Sir George,
Trollope, Anthony,
Turner, Rev. E.T.,
Turton, Dr., Bishop of Ely,
Twysden, Dr., Bishop of Raphoe,
Tyndall, John,

Upward, Allen,

Vaneck, Mrs.,
Van Mildert, Dr., Bishop of Durham,
Vaughan, Dean,


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