Memoirs of the Life and Correspondence of Henry Reeve, C.B., D.C.L.
John Knox Laughton
Part 8 out of 8
_November 27th._--The Club was brilliant with the Duc d'Aumale, Wolseley,
Lord Derby, and Coleridge. Boehm and Maunde Thompson were elected.
_December 1st_.--To All Souls, Oxford. Prothero, Dicey, Oman, George
Curzon, &c. Stayed over Sunday.
_27th_.--To Timsbury: thence to Foxholes on the 29th.
_January 15th_, 1889.--Returned to London.
_From M. B. St.-Hilaire_
_Paris, January 20th_.--It was very good of you to think of my book on
'L'Inde Anglaise,' and I thank you for the 'Edinburgh Review' which you
have sent me. I read the article with great interest. It is very well done,
and I beg you to thank the author in my name for having taken the trouble
to read me with so much attention and good will. I do not think I have
exaggerated the danger which threatens your great enterprise in India. The
Transcaspian Railway, which will very soon run from Samarkand to Tashkend,
seems to me one source of it. Yours will, indeed, soon reach to Candahar;
but Russia is at home in the country, whilst England is very far off.
The magnanimous confidence you have in your own strength is most
praiseworthy--provided that your watchfulness is not allowed to slumber....
Meanwhile I remain constant in my admiration of what the English are doing
in India; and the administration of Lord Dufferin may well confirm me in my
opinion. There is nothing like it, or so great as it, in the history of the
_From Lord Dufferin_
British Embassy, Rome, January 27th.
My dear Reeve,--Many thanks for your letter of the 16th. As you may well
suppose, I am delighted with Lyall's article; for he is acknowledged, both
by Indian and by so much of English public opinion as knows anything of
the matter, to have been the best Indian public servant that the present
generation has produced. In addition, or, as perhaps some would say, in
spite of possessing real literary genius, he proved himself a most wise,
shrewd, and capable administrator. I do not believe he made a single
mistake during his whole career. At all events, I never heard of his having
done so; and a slip is scarcely made in India without the fact being duly
recorded. What pleases me most is that the kind words he uses about myself
should be embedded in the exposition of his own opinions upon Indian
questions--opinions full of acuteness, justice, and knowledge. It is
these that will really make the article interesting to your readers, and
consequently give a greater importance to what he has said about me than
otherwise would have been the case. I have obeyed your orders in regard to
sending a copy of my speech to M. Barthelemy St.-Hilaire.
The social history of the season is adequately chronicled in the Journal:--
_February 5th_.--The Ogilvies in London.
_22nd_.--Mr. Gollop [Mrs. Reeve's father] died; born October 11th, 1791.
Christine had been down just before.
_March 12th_.--The Club. Good party: Lord Salisbury, Walpole, Tyndall,
Hooker, Hewett, Lecky, Lyall, A. Russell, Layard, and self.
_March 20th_.--Meeting at Lord Carnarvon's about the bust of Sir C. Newton.
_25th_.--Breakfast at Sheen House with Comte and Comtesse de Paris, to meet
Lefèvre-Pontalis and Bocher.
_28th_.--Lunched with Major Dawson at Woolwich and went over the Arsenal.
_April 12th_.--Meeting for Matthew Arnold's Memorial. 7,000 _l_. raised.
_May 4th_.--Dined at the Royal Academy dinner. Sat by Horsley, Tyndall, and
_From Sir Arthur Gordon_
_May 5th_.--You may rely upon it that I am absolutely right as to the
Russian Memorandum--Lord Malmesbury does not himself assert that he ever
saw it, which, had it existed, he must have done when Foreign Secretary. I
cannot, of course, expect you to attach the same weight that I do to what
I may call the personal reasons which make me utterly incredulous of Lord
Malmesbury's story; but there are other reasons for doubting it, some of
which may have already occurred to you. One is the alleged form of the
document, which is said to be signed by the Emperor, the Duke, my father,
and Sir R. Peel. Lord Malmesbury prides himself on the knowledge of
diplomatic forms and etiquettes derived from his grandfather's papers. He
might have known that the signature of an engagement by a Sovereign (and
such a Sovereign!) on the one side and _three ministers_ of another
Sovereign on the other (thereby putting them on species of equality) was
an impossibility. Such a paper, if it existed, would be signed either by
_both_ Sovereigns or by the ministers of both. I think I may say with
confidence that the Emperor Nicholas was a most unlikely man to perform
such an act of condescension. And why should he? He had his confidential
minister with him. Another, and I think fatal, objection is that neither
my father nor Lord Clarendon were altogether absolute fools, and when, in
answer to the Emperor's challenge, they published the secret memorandum
which had till then been handed on privately from minister to minister,
they knew what they were about, and would never have put it into the power
of the Emperor to retort that _that_ was not what he referred to, but to a
paper which would not improve the cordiality of the Anglo-French alliance.
Again, is it likely that, if the Emperor had entered into such an
agreement, he would take the trouble to write another long memorandum,
containing the 'substance' of his discussions with the English ministers?
This is the memorandum which was sent in a private letter, which I possess,
from Count Nesselrode to my father; which was handed from minister to
minister, and which was published in 1854. The original draft, Count
Nesselrode said, was in the Emperor's own hand. I have another little bit
of evidence which I think also goes to prove that no such agreement was
entered into in 1844, as Lord Malmesbury supposes. In 1845 Count Nesselrode
visited England. My father, writing to the Queen, gives an account of his
conversations with Nesselrode, and says: 'His language very much resembled
that held by the Emperor; and _although he made no specific proposals_, his
declarations of support, in case of necessity, were _more_ unequivocal.'
(The italics are mine.) Could he have written this if he had already,
some months before, signed an agreement with the Emperor, which was both
unequivocal and specific?
_From the Comte de Paris_
Sheen House, 7 mai.
Mon cher Monsieur Reeve ,--Nous aussi, nous n'avons pas oublié votre
présence à notre mariage le 30 mai 1864. La Comtesse de Paris et moi nous
sommes bien touchés de la manière dont vous nous le rappelez, et je vous
remercie de tout coeur de ce que vous me dites et des voeux que vous
m'adressez en cette occasion. Au milieu de toutes les vicissitudes de notre
vie pendant ces vingt-cinq ans nous avons été constamment soutenus par
le bonheur domestique que cette union nous a donné et par toutes les
satisfactions que nous ont causées nos enfants.
Lorsque j'ai reçu votre lettre j'allais vous écrire, ainsi qu'à Madame
Reeve, de vouloir bien venir ici le 30 mai dans l'après-midi: nous recevons
entre 2 et 5 tous les amis qui viendront fêter cet anniversaire avec nous.
Je me souviens bien que Madame Reeve était avec vous à la chapelle de
Kingston, mais ma mémoire n'est pas sûre en ce qui concerne Madame votre
fille. Je vous serais bien reconnaissant de me faire savoir si elle était
avec vous ce jour-là. En attendant je vous prie de me croire Votre bien
PHILIPPE COMTE DE PARIS.
The Journal notes:--
_May 7th._--The Club: Due d'Aumale, Lord Salisbury, Wolseley, Carlisle, A.
Russell, Hewett, Stephen--very brilliant.
_8th_.--Returned to Foxholes.
_16th_.--Drove to Heron Court. Lord Malmesbury dying.
_17th_.--Lord Malmesbury died. 22nd, attended his funeral in Priory Church.
29th, to London.
_30th_.--The silver wedding of the Comte and Comtesse de Paris at Sheen.
All the French Royalties, Prince of Wales, &c. About five hundred people;
169 persons still alive who were at the wedding in 1864. A silver medal was
sent to all the survivors.
_From M. B. St.-Hilaire_
_Paris, June 6th_.--If I am free in the autumn, it will give me great
pleasure to pay you another visit at Foxholes; the first has left a
pleasant memory, and I ask no better than to repeat it. But, without having
to complain of old age, I find more difficulty in going about. I am not
exactly ill, but my strength gradually fails--a sign that the end is not
I foresaw that General Boulanger would have no success in England; you are
much too serious for such a nature as his. His popularity diminishes daily;
and if the Cabinet act with judgement from now to the October elections,
I have no doubt they may regain public favour. The triumph of Boulangism
would be the signal for horrible anarchy at home and war abroad, provoked
by the madmen who had climbed into power.
Monarchy, in the person of the Comte de Paris, is losing rather than
gaining ground here. If France should ever return to a dynasty, it would be
more likely to be the Bonapartes. The terrible name of Napoleon has still
an immense _prestige_, however unworthy his successors.
M. St.-Hilaire's visit did not come off. The Journal mentions many dinners,
receptions, and garden parties in town during June and July, and eleven
days in August on board Mrs. Watney's yacht 'Palatine,' to see the naval
review on the 5th. 'Very rough weather all the time.' In September a
journey to Edinburgh and on the 14th to Chesters, chronicled as 'my first
visit to my daughter.' A week later Reeve returned south; and, paying a few
short visits on the way, including a day at Knowsley, was back at Foxholes
by the 26th.
_From Count Vitzthum_
Villa Vitzthum, Baden Baden, August 30th.
My dear Mr. Reeve,--I beg to send you the proofs of the preface and
contents, in order to show you the plan of my book.
I am very sorry that you do not approve of the account I have given of our
interview in September 1866. It was unfortunately too late to cancel the
letter, but nothing would prevent leaving it out if those memoirs should
ever be translated. On further consideration, and after reading the
foregoing pages, you will find, I am sure, that your comment on the
situation in September 1866 was not only correct, but very valuable. The
peace of Europe then was threatened by two eventualities, of which one
happened: by an ostensible alliance between Prussia and France, or by an
immediate war between both. Rouher and Lavalette worked very hard for the
alliance, and your sound judgement indicated the consequences which such an
alliance would have had. I quite agree with you about these relations. But
the opinion of a man like you is a fact, and an important fact; because you
have been in those days what they call a representative man; because you
represented a great portion of the Liberal party. It does not take one iota
off the value of your opinion--which, you may depend upon it, was correctly
recorded--if the course of events took another turn, and if this monster
alliance remained a dream of adventurous French politicians. The thing was
on the cards.
As for Napoleon's malady, all I can say [is] that Nelaton, who then was
consulted for the first time, wrote a letter to King Leopold of Belgium,
stating that it was very probable the Emperor of the French would be found
any morning dead in his bed, and that he would most likely die before the
end of November. Very truly yours,
In consequence of this letter Mr. Reeve wrote to Mr. T. Norton Longman:--
_Foxholes, September 3rd._--Count Vitzthum is about to publish two more
volumes of his political reminiscences during his mission in London. I send
you the index of the work, from which you will see that it contains a good
deal of matter, anecdotes, &c., of interest to English readers. You will
judge from the result of the former work whether you think it worth while
to engage in the publication of a translation of these later volumes. But,
as I am going away till the end of the month, I cannot negotiate with Count
Vitzthum or with the translator, and I must beg you to take that upon
A month later, however, on October 2nd, he wrote that, after seeing the
book, he was of opinion that it would not stand translation. It was
reviewed in the 'Edinburgh' of January 1890, but was not translated.
_From Lord Derby_
_November 11th_.--I have only begun the Life of Lord John. It would be a
very difficult one to write in a spirit at once of fairness and friendship.
My impression of the man was and is that he was more thoroughly and
essentially a partisan than anyone I have known; and sometimes open to the
comment, that he seemed to consider the Universe as existing for the sake
of the Whig party. Perhaps this would not strike anyone who was trained up
in the same school, as strongly as it did me. On the other hand, I think he
was more generally consistent, and had fewer of his own words to eat, than
any politician of his time or of ours. His religious politics were his weak
part; they were rather narrow and sectarian. I suppose he was forced by the
Court into his quarrel with Palmerston; which was the trouble of his later
official life, and caused these uneasy struggles to recover a lost position
which did him harm. But with all drawbacks he has left an honoured and
distinguished name. Do you think there is any ground for the idea which
Lady Russell puts about that, if he had lived till now, he would have gone
for Home Rule?
THE ONE MORE CHANGE
The very wide range of Reeve's studies has appeared from many indications
scattered through these pages, and it has been seen how, at different
times, he was occupying himself with various subjects far outside the
ordinary course of reading. These were, however, connected by some general
idea which pervaded the whole. Of natural science he knew little. As a boy,
the study of mathematics was irksome to him and repulsive, nor was he at
any later time more favourably inclined towards it. His acquaintance
with astronomy, chemistry, physics, and the cognate sciences was very
limited--not more, perhaps, than he picked up in his careful and
intelligent study of the articles published in the 'Edinburgh Review'
during the forty years of his editorship. His real knowledge was confined
by a band of history, but of history in its very widest sense, including
not only war and politics and law, but political economy, literature,
religion, and superstition. Of military science he had read sufficient to
take a technical interest in the details of battles and campaigns, and
he was perhaps one of the first landsmen of this age to understand the
'influence of sea-power.' His attention had been called to this at a very
early period in his career by the utter collapse of Mehemet Ali in Syria;
and reasoning on that, he had learned that 'sea-power,' or, as he preferred
to call it, 'maritime-power,' controlled and directed affairs with which,
at first sight, it seemed to have absolutely nothing to do.
Long before Captain Mahan began to teach, or to write those admirable works
which came as a revelation to the English and the European public, he had
opened the pages of the 'Edinburgh Review' to writers who, in different
ways and in different degrees, were inculcating the same doctrine, which
during the long peace, and by reason of the overwhelming superiority of the
allies in the Russian war, had been almost forgotten, even by professional
men. It would not be difficult to show how, during the thirty years which
preceded the publication of Captain Mahan's 'Influence of Sea-Power,' its
most important theories were illustrated and discussed in the pages of the
'Review.' The following, by one of the most accomplished officers in our
navy, refers to such an article in the January number:--
_From Captain Bridge, R.N._
_January 19th_.--As an Englishman and a sailor, I feel it to be a duty
again to congratulate you on the article 'Naval Supremacy,' &c., in the new
number of the 'Edinburgh Review.' That article and the one concerning which
I previously addressed you can hardly fail to do good. The Maurician school
and its 'two Army-corps and a cavalry division,' which were to be launched
at the Caucasus, must have received a severe check from the earlier
article. The disaster-breeding facts of the fort-builders can hardly
survive many more such assaults as that so sharply driven home in 'Naval
Supremacy.' The opinions of the writer of the latter, I venture to think,
foreshadow those of the Navy on the subject of huge ships and huge guns.
I hold it to be highly beneficial to the country that the editor of the
'Edinburgh Review' should have so keen an appreciation and, for a civilian,
so rare a knowledge of naval affairs.
_From Lord Derby_
_April 3rd_--What a new Europe is beginning! Bismarck dismissed; Emperors
holding Socialist conferences; more attempts to murder the Tsar; strikes
all over the world; Germans going to Prussianise Central Africa! No want of
novelty in our time and amusing enough, if one is far enough off.
_From the Duc d'Aumale_
_Chantilly_, 14 _juin_.--Où diable avais-je la tête, mon cher ami? (ne
montrez pas ce préambule à nos amis puritains.) Je croyais bien vous avoir
écrit que je comptais passer la mer vers le 22, dîner avec le Club le 24,
embrasser mes neveux et nièces de toutes générations, voir quelques amis,
et rentrer ici vers la fin de la semaine. Je persiste dans ce projet,
_weather permitting_; c'est-à-dire sauf le cas de tempête que l'on est bien
forcé de prévoir avec une pareille saison. A bientôt donc, s'il plaît à
Dieu. Je finis mieux que je ne commence, et je vous serre la main.
_From the Duc d'Aumale_
_Chantilly_, 26 _juillet_.--J'essaye de chasser par le travail les
préoccupations qui m'obsèdent. Je n'y réussis pas toujours. Est-ce l'effet
de l'âge? mais je suis de plus en plus anxieux sur l'avenir de mon pays et
même de l'Europe. Nous sommes dans le faux depuis 1848, et il est sorti de
la guerre de '70 un état de choses bien périlleux.
Au revoir et mille amitiés.
The diary and the correspondence for the rest of the year are singularly
barren of interest. A troublesome attack of sciatica in the end of July led
to Reeve's being advised to try Harrogate, whither he accordingly went
in the beginning of August. He found the place--possibly also the
water--disagreeable, and after a week's stay he went on to Bolton Abbey, to
Minto, and to Chesters. By the end of the month he was back at Foxholes,
where he remained throughout September. Early in October he went for a ten
days' visit to Knowsley, where he met Froude and the Duc d'Aumale, with
whom he returned to London. Then to Foxholes for a month, coming up to
town in the middle of November, and--with the exception of a week at
Easter--staying there till May 1891.
_From Lord Derby_
_Knowsley, January 20th_.--What do you think of Home Rule in its present
phase? Chamberlain says it is dead; I say it is badly crippled, but capable
of a good deal of mischief still. I see no new question coming forward,
except that of strikes, eight-hours legislation, and Socialism generally.
Do you ever see the 'New Review'? I picked it up yesterday, and read a very
pretty Socialist programme by Morris and a Mr. Bernard Shaw, whom I never
heard of before, but who is apparently rather clever and rather cracked. I
suspect ideas of that class are making progress.
This letter, though not calling for any hurry, Reeve answered immediately,
as was his general custom. It was indeed only by this prompt attention
that, with the enormous correspondence which he carried on, he could
prevent an accumulation which would have been overwhelming.
_To Lord Derby_
62 _Rutland Gate, January 21st_.--I think Home Rule, as an English party
cry, has received a death blow, and cannot be used to bring a party into
power. But Ireland remains open, an eternal field of agitation, and the
Irishmen are still in the House of Commons. Perhaps the want of funds may
embarrass them. I have not seen the 'New Review,' but there is a vast deal
of lawlessness and wild speculation in the air, injurious to the first
conditions of social life, and I confess I have no unbounded confidence in
the boasted good sense of the English people; they are very ignorant and
very selfish. No one tells them so many sensible home truths as yourself.
As for the strikes, the strikers are the greatest sufferers.
I have published a remarkable article on the fiscal system of the United
States--by an American--which I hope you will read. My contributor thinks
there are great difficulties ahead in America, and Mr. Blaine's bluster is
an attempt to direct public attention into another channel.
I have been laid up for some days with a cold and gout, but have been out
to-day and am better. I never remember so terrible a winter; but we hope it
is passing away, though it is still freezing here.
_Foxholes, May 12th_.--I was sorry to leave London without seeing you and
Lady Derby again; but the Fates were against me: you were laid up with
cold, and I have been troubled for some weeks with sciatica, which impedes
my movements. I hope you have shaken off your attack and will get out of
town. The atmosphere of London seems to be in a very noxious state, and I
don't know that the atmosphere of the House of Commons is much better. A
committee of the whole House strikes an outsider as the clumsiest machine
for legislation that was ever invented.
An unlimited power of moving amendments brings us to the same results as
the Polish Veto.
I hope to come up to the dinners of The Club on June 2nd and 16th. On the
latter day the Duc d'Aumale will dine with us, so I trust you will keep it
_From Lord Derby_
_May 13th_.--You are quite right about the House of Commons. They will
pass the Land Bill, I suppose, but scarcely anything else. Most of the
obstruction is unintended; loquacity, vanity, and fear of constituents do
more mischief than faction. I am not sure that it is an unmixed evil that
the legislative coach should be compelled to drive slowly.
For Reeve the principal social event of the year, or rather the one most
out of ordinary course, was the conferring an honorary degree on the Duc
d'Aumale by the University of Oxford. Of the preliminary step no record
remains, but it would seem that at a very early stage Reeve was requested
to sound the Duke, who wrote on November 30th, 1890, that he should feel
greatly honoured if the University of Oxford should confer on him the
degree of D.C.L.--'si pauvre légiste que je sois.' On this Reeve wrote to
Dr. Liddell, then Dean of Christ Church, [Footnote: After having held this
office for thirty-six years, Dr. Liddell retired in 1891, and died at the
age of 87, on January 18th, 1898.] who replied on December 2nd:--
Dear Mr. Reeve,--I shall be proud to propose H.R.H.'s (the Duc d'Aumale's)
name for an Honorary Degree at the next Encaenia. This will not be till
June 17th, 1891. I hope his R.H. will be my guest on the occasion.
Meantime, it is our rule that no mention should be made of the name to be
proposed. Yours very truly,
H. G. LIDDELL.
Other correspondence about this there was, and on February 25th, 1891, Dr.
Liddell again wrote:--
The arrangements you suggest for the Duc d'Aumale will suit very well. Of
course it is running it rather fine to arrive at 11.13; but we will see
about this as the time approaches. Meantime I must ask you and the Duke's
friends not to say anything about the matter at present. I shall have to
give notice to our Council in May. A fortnight after, his name will be
submitted to ballot; and though there can be no reasonable doubt that
H.R.H.'s name will be received with acclamation, they make a great point of
secrecy till the ballot takes place.
Perhaps about the beginning of May you will be so good as to send me a
complete statement of H.R.H.'s claims to an Honorary Degree. I know much
about them, but should be glad to be fully equipped.
_From the Duc d'Aumale_
_Chantilly_, 9 _juin_.--Bon! très cher ami, nous irons, s'il plaît à Dieu,
ensemble à Oxford, le 17, par 9.55 en cravate blanche. Je compte arriver le
14 au soir à Claridge's, où je serai présent le lundi, 15, de 10 à midi,
et de 6 à 7; le mardi, 16, de 10 à midi. Si vous pouvez venir m'y voir,
je serai très heureux, car j'ai encore besoin de quelques renseignements
Vous m'avez offert l'hospitalité du Dean, et je lui ai écrit que je
l'acceptais. Mais en quoi consiste cette hospitalité? Simple luncheon suivi
d'un départ, ou dîner et coucher au doyenné? Je ne voudrais pas manquer de
courtoisie; but above all I would not intrude--et je suis _très disposé_
à me retirer de très bonne heure. Seulement j'aimerais à être fixé pour
prendre tous mes arrangements.
The Journal simply notes that on June 16th the Duc d'Aumale dined at The
Club; and on the 17th 'with Duc d'Aumale to Oxford, where he was made
D.C.L. Lunch at All Souls; very pleasant day.' Reeve left early and
returned at once to Foxholes.
_From the Duc d'Aumale_
_Chantilly_, 1er _juillet_.--Après votre départ de Christ Church [Oxford]
le 17 nous avons eu le ou la 'Gaudy.' Ainsi que vous l'aviez prévu, j'ai dû
dire quelques mots à peine préparés. Comme il n'y avait pas de _reporter_,
et que je n'avais aucune note, et comme l'auditoire, y compris nos
Seigneurs les évêques, avait accueilli mon _speech_ avec bienveillance, je
l'ai noté sur le papier--comme disent les musiciens--avant de me coucher.
Vous avez été presque mon parrain à Oxford, je vous en dois bien la copie.
C'est, en tous cas, un témoignage de ma fidèle amitié.
The speech which follows, although delivered under circumstances which
necessitated a complimentary tone, is a more than usually graceful tribute
to our old Universities, and the introduction of the little analogue is
singularly happy. The Duke, whose letters to Reeve are all in French, wrote
this _verbatim_ as here given, in correct English, perfectly well spelt.
Mr. Dean, my Lords and Gentlemen,--Let me first express how highly I prize
the honour which has been conferred upon me to-day, and how glad I am to be
so connected with your illustrious University. I have always admired the
University of Oxford. I have more than once visited this town, when I
received a princely hospitality in the noble baronial halls of this
neighbourhood--Nuneham, Blenheim--or when I was quietly living on the banks
of the Avon. Often I brought here my French friends, and I tried to
explain the peculiarities, the complicated machinery of this illustrious
corporation; to show how, remaining faithful to the traditions, preserving
your old customs, you did not remain deaf to what might be said without,
nor blind to the movement of the world; how, slowly perhaps, but prudently,
step by step, you managed to bring the necessary changes, the wanted
modifications, so as to keep pace with the times without breaking with the
'Mais c'est le couteau de Jeannot que cette Université,' said one of my
interlocutors. Well, I will give you the tale of Jeannot's knife.
There was once a young peasant called Jeannot, and he had a knife of which
he took great care. He found that the blade was rusting and he changed the
blade. Then he found that the handle was decaying from dry-rot, and he
changed the handle; and so on. His friends laughed at him, and would not
take the same care of their knives, which they lost--one breaking the
blade, another the handle. But Jeannot, having always kept his knife in
good order, could always make use of it, cleverly and powerfully.
Well, I think there is some analogy between the tale of this humble man and
the history of your great University. It seems to me I see the huge frame
of a large fabric which has stood for centuries glorious and proud. The
stones are changed, the bricks, the mortar, or the roof are renewed; and
the fabric still stands through the ages, through the storms, glorious and
proud. And I hope it will so remain and stand everlasting, with its old
frame and the new materials; and I wish glory and prosperity to the
University of Oxford.
To all who have thought of my name and conferred upon me the honour I have
just received, and to those who have given me such a kindly reception, I
send my best thanks, and I wish prosperity and success.
At this time, and indeed ever since his retirement from the Council Office,
Reeve's chief work was in connexion with the 'Review;' but he also did a
very great deal as literary adviser of the Longmans. He had indeed, to some
extent, acted in this capacity ever since he undertook the conduct of the
'Review;' the two offices fitted into and were supplementary to each other;
and it will be remembered that in 1875 [Footnote: See _ante_, p. 243.]
he had contemplated retiring from the public service, with the view
of undertaking the main responsibility of this work for the firm.
Circumstances had delayed his retirement; but by an arrangement with the
firm in 1878, which continued in force during the rest of his life, the
number of works he examined and reported on was considerably increased, and
must have been very large. Books in French, German, or Italian offered for
translation, MSS. in English offered for publication--whatever there was of
grave, serious, or important, as well as a good deal that was not, was sent
to him for a first or a revised opinion. And this opinion was given very
frankly, and most commonly in the fewest possible words: 'My advice is that
you have nothing to do with it' was a not unfrequent formula. Another,
less frequent, was, 'He--the aspirant to literary fame and emolument--can
neither write nor spell English;' 'I wish they wouldn't send their trash to
me' was an occasional prayer; 'Seems to me sheer nonsense;'--'What a waste
of time and labour!'--'It is very provoking that people should attempt to
write books who cannot write English,' were occasional reports. Of course
many of his judgements were very different: 'A work of great interest which
must have a large sale;' 'Secure this if you possibly can;' 'A most
able work, but will scarcely command a remunerative sale;' 'Not worth
translating, but send me a copy for the "Review,"' are some of his more
favourable verdicts. But in all cases the judgements were sharp and
decisive; there was about them nothing of the celebrated 'This work might
be very good if it was not extremely bad,' or its converse. These reports
were, of course, in the highest degree confidential; and, especially of the
unfavourable ones, Reeve made a point of forgetting all about the origin of
them. On one occasion, when a reference was made to a work he had reported
on a few weeks before, he wrote in reply, 'The numerous MSS. &c. sent for
an opinion leave no trace on my memory.'
As it was with printed books and larger MSS., so it was with articles
submitted for the 'Review;' but he did not encourage casual contributions,
and seldom--perhaps never--accepted any without some previous
understanding. The political articles and the reviews of important books
were almost invariably written in response to a direct invitation; but
whether the articles sent in were invited or offered, he equally reserved
the right to express his approval or disapproval or disagreement, and to
insist, if necessary, on the article being remodelled or withdrawn. Such
an insistence is more than once noticed in his correspondence, quite
irrespective of the high reputation of the author. Probably every one whose
contributions have been at all numerous has had an opportunity of noticing
how perfectly candid and yet how courteous his remarks always were. If an
article pleased him, he said so in terms that from anyone else might have
seemed extravagant. Many letters of this type might be given; one must
suffice, written to a valued contributor, dead, unfortunately, many years
ago--Colonel Charles Cornwallis Chesney:--
_C. O., February 26th, 1873_.--I received the proofs of your article on Lee
last night, and therefore I conclude that you have received them also. I
don't exaggerate the least when I say that the article strikes me as
a _chef d'oeuvre_ of military biography. You have drawn a most heroic
character with peculiar grace and fervour, and the account of the military
operations is singularly clear and interesting. It only strikes me that you
have repeated the comparison with Hannibal rather too often.
Pray be so good as to return the proofs to _me_ as soon as you can, that I
may have the article made up and printed off. I feel infinitely obliged to
you for it.
The value of such praise was heightened, its apparent extravagance done
away with, by the knowledge that dissatisfaction would be expressed in
language equally unmistakable, and that either by the contributor or the
editor the modifications which seemed to him desirable would be made. It
was partly because he reserved to himself this power and accepted all the
responsibility, that he insisted so strenuously on the anonymous character
of the articles. But more even than that was his abhorrence of anything
like 'log-rolling,' which, in his opinion, was inseparable from signed
reviews. To the very last he discouraged, and indeed openly expressed his
disapproval and dislike of the presumably inspired announcements of
authors' names in the 'Athenaeum' or other journals. Here is an extract
from a letter dated October 6th, 1891, which illustrates this objection:--
'The only objection I have to the republication of articles with the name
of the writer is that it destroys their anonymous character, which ought
especially to be retained when they contain criticism of contemporaries.'
So careful was he lest anything might warp the perfect fairness of
criticism, which should 'nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice.'
I, who write these lines, can say positively, after having written for the
'Review' under Reeve for upwards of twenty years, that in all that time I
never received a hint or suggestion that any book should be dealt with
otherwise than on its merits; and whilst engaged on this present work I
have learned, for the first time, that men whose books I have reviewed,
not always favourably, were personal friends of the editor. The following
letter, addressed to Mr. T. N. Longman, is merely a concrete illustration
_December 26th_, 1891.--I thought it best to tell Froude frankly that the
review of his book [Footnote: The Divorce of Catherine of Aragon,' in the
_Review_ of January 1892.] in the 'Edinburgh' would be an unfavourable one.
At the same time I disclaimed in the strongest language any disposition
to make a personal attack on himself. Unfortunately he seems to ascribe
adverse criticism of his works to personal animosity, which, in his case,
is entirely wanting.
It is a painful necessity. Froude and his book are too important to be
passed over in silence. But the judicial character and consistency, and I
may say honour, of the 'Review' absolutely require that the truth should be
told about the book. I should consider it a derogation to my duty to the
'Review' if, from personal motives or affection, I suppressed an adverse
criticism of a work which imperatively demands an answer. The independence
of the 'Review' requires an independent judgement; but I expressly
stipulated with the writer of the article that he should abstain from
_bitterness_, which was carried too far in Goldwin Smith's article on
the same subject in 1858. The 'Review' is pledged to the views already
expressed on that occasion.
I have therefore modified as far as possible any expressions which appeared
to be of too censorious a character; but it is impossible to avoid
condemning a mistaken book because the author is a personal friend. _Judex
damnatur si nocens absolvitur_ is our motto.
Froude does not like Mr. Gardiner's book. He says, 'It's a menagerie of
tame beasts.' I think very highly of the book; and as we differ, I have
yielded to his wish to be released from the engagement.
Nobody can regret more than I do any differences between old friends; but
my duty is to look solely to the consistency and integrity of the 'Review,'
without which criticism is worthless; and this consideration leaves me no
Another point, of a similar nature, I can illustrate by my own experience.
I had undertaken, at Reeve's request, to review a rather important
historical work published by Longmans, but on reading it was so
unfavourably impressed by it that I wrote to say that the best thing I
could do would be to return the volumes; that the book was bad, and if
I reviewed it I must say so; but that doing this in the publisher's own
Review would have a certain resemblance to seething a kid in its mother's
milk, and might probably be objected to. 'Not a bit of it,' was the sense
of the reply I received by return of post: 'a bad book may be the text for
an interesting article, and we have nothing to do with who published it.'
So I expressed my opinion of the book in very plain terms; the review was
printed exactly as I wrote it, and the editor thanked me warmly for what
he was pleased to speak of as an 'excellent article.' It may, perhaps, be
assumed that this was not an isolated case; but written evidence of any
others is not before me.
After returning from Oxford, Reeve spent the rest of the year at Foxholes,
He had intended going to London and possibly to Scotland in October, but an
accidental stumble in his library over a heavy despatch box made a nasty
wound on the left shin, which took many weeks in healing and prevented his
travelling till the middle of December. On the 19th he went to town, where,
with the exception of some short visits to Bath or to Foxholes, he remained
till June, dining several times at The Club, entertaining at home in his
customary manner, and keeping up a constant--almost daily--correspondence,
such as has been indicated, with the Longmans, for the most part with the
head of the firm, whom he had known from childhood and habitually addressed
by his Christian name.
As he returned to Foxholes the country was in the throes of a general
election. Tired, it would seem, of steady and consistent government, it
longed for a change--anything for a change; and so opened the door for an
administration whose almost avowed object was to play skittles with the
Constitution--to bowl down the Union, the Established Church, the House
of Lords, the rights of property, and any other little trifles that were
sacred to law and religion. It was with deep regret that Reeve watched the
overthrow of what he considered the true Liberal party, and he wrote to Mr.
T. Norton Longman:--
_Foxholes_, _July 14th_--The results of the elections are far worse than
could be expected. Some of them are very odd. I have to deplore the defeat
of many of my friends. I suppose the Queen will have to make up her mind
to a ministry composed of men she abhors; but the majority will have in it
inherent weakness and the seeds of dissolution.
I have found it difficult to say anything about the elections and have been
as short as possible.
From a somewhat different point of view, he wrote a few days later to Lord
_Foxholes, July 22nd._--I have, of course, been watching with great
interest the progress of the elections, and I am happy to say that
Hampshire, like all the southern counties, comes out with a clean Unionist
bill. If the ultimate majority was to be small, is it not better to be in
opposition than in power? Mr. Gladstone's position, as the man responsible
for the conduct of affairs, is much less desirable than that of Lord
Salisbury, for he has the better half of the country dead against him. How
curious it is to trace on the map in the 'Times' the old traditions of
Saxon, Celtic, Mercian, and Danish origin in the counties of England,
Ireland, and Wales! Are the Celts to govern the Saxons?
Early in August Reeve was visited at Foxholes by Count Adam Krasinski
[Footnote: Son of Ladislas and grandson of Reeve's early friend Sigismond
Krasinski. He was born in 1870, and married at Vienna in 1897.]--a
connecting link with the past, the merry days when he was young; and on
Krasinski's departure, he went north to visit some friends in Wales and
thence on to Chesters.
Parliament met on August 4th, and on a simple motion of want of confidence,
as an amendment to the Address, the Ministry was defeated. Lord Salisbury
resigned, and Mr. Gladstone came into office with a Cabinet in which every
shade of unconstitutional opinion and every socially destructive fad were
fully represented. Reeve consoled himself with the belief that such a
ministry could not last. To Mr. T. Norton Longman he wrote:--
_Chesters, August 22nd_.--I have been paying some visits in Wales and have
come on here, where Mrs. Reeve preceded me. We find the Ogilvies very
flourishing, and the place beautiful. Here, at least, it is not hot, which
seems to be the grievance elsewhere.
We are going to Rutland Gate on Friday and to Foxholes on Monday, and shall
remain there, except for a visit to a neighbour.
I think Mr. Gladstone's Ministry a wretched affair. The old ones are worn
out, and the young ones are not broken in, and bring no weight at all.
The sole gratification of every one of them is absolute submission and
obedience to the Chief. But he will have some troublesome outsiders.
_Foxholes, September 7th_.--We shall stay here till October 6th, when I
mean to come to London for two or three days, on our way to Knowsley. The
world seems fast asleep after the excitement of the summer, and people have
nothing to talk or write about but the cholera--which is not amusing.
It was whilst at Chesters that Reeve received a curious note from the
Marquis of Lorne, written to 'The Editor of the "Edinburgh Review,"' as to
a total stranger:--
Osborne, August 21st.
SIR,--I have found a number of original unpublished letters written by the
Duke of Argyll in 1705 and the Earl of Leven in 1706, from Edinburgh, to
Queen Anne and Godolphin, on the measures taken in the Scots Parliament
for the Union between England and Scotland, and am writing a notice of and
giving extracts from these papers, and wish to ask if you would care to
have this notice as an article in your 'Review.'
I remain, yours faithfully,
Reeve's answer corrected the mistake, and in forwarding the MS. referred
to, to Foxholes, Lord Lorne wrote:--
Kensington Palace, September 5th.
My dear and ancient friend and editor,--I did not know, to my disgrace,
that you are still in command. I never thought when the grey mare subsided
under you at Inveraray, in--year, [Footnote: Blank in the original; meaning
presumably--'so long ago that I've forgotten.' Reeve's one recorded visit
to Inveraray was in August 1858 (_ante_, vol. i. p. 395), when the Marquis
of Lorne was a boy of thirteen.] that in 1892 I should be writing to you
about proofs! It makes me feel young again to think of you in your old
capacity. If old times' gossip suits the 'Review,' please send the proofs
to me here--to Kensington Palace--whence, if I be away, they will be
forwarded to me.
Yours very faithfully,
A few days later came the following letter from Count Adam Krasinski, to
whom, when at Foxholes, Reeve had given the letters of his grandfather,
Royalin, September 10th.
SIR,--On arriving in Warsaw a few days ago, I took the liberty of sending
you some bottles of wine from our cellar, among which is some
Hungarian Tokay, one of the oldest wines we have, bought by my
great-great-grandfather, the father of General Vincent, in the year of the
latter's birth. I hope you will be so good as to accept this little
present and make it welcome; for, being young myself, I have chosen an old
ambassador to thank you for your kindness to me. I can never sufficiently
thank you for the charming way in which you have made me the handsome
present of my grandfather's correspondence, which is of inestimable value
to me. The more I read it the more I realise its value. It contains the
whole developement of a noble character, and a fine nature, set forth in
long, full, and frequent letters to a trusted friend. And what a pleasure
it is to have the answers of this friend, so clearly showing your relations
to each other, and the reciprocal influence of two minds! Thanks, and again
I am very well, and am at present with my stepfather in the Grand Duchy of
Posnanie. Our plans for the winter are not yet fixed. Paris attracts me
greatly; but, on the other hand, I am advised to go to Heidelberg, where
there is better air and a milder climate. In any case, I will endeavour to
revisit England next year, and so recall myself to your memory.
Agréez, Monsieur, l'expression de ma très grande considération, à laquelle
je joins des sentiments respectueux pour Madame votre femme.
To Mr. Norton Longman at this time Reeve wrote--primarily on the business
of the 'Review,' but incidentally on a literary conundrum which was just
then causing a little excitement:--
_Foxholes, September 16th_.--I do not think the translation of a French
book on Political Economy is _primâ facie_ advisable. But the book seems
(from the accounts in the 'Nation') to be so excellent that I should be
glad to see it, and may have it reviewed in the 'Edinburgh.' The title is,
'Le Capital, la Spéculation et la Finance au XIXe Siècle;' par Claudio
Jannet. Published by Plon.
No one who knew Sir Richard Wallace could believe that he wrote 'The
Englishman in Paris.' I said from the first that it was a mere collection
of old gossip to be passed off on the English public as something racy. If
Grenville Murray were alive, this is exactly the sort of thing he would
have done. But Grenville Murray left a son, who must now be grown up, and
who may have inherited some of his father's sinister talents. They have
lived for many years in Paris. Sir Richard Wallace was the very type of a
gentleman of the highest breeding--rather stern, melancholy, not at all
humorous, and incapable of vulgarity or pretence.
October slipped away in visits to Stratton (Lord Northbrook's) and to
Knowsley, and the remainder of the year for the most part at Foxholes. In
December Reeve was proposing to have a review of Sir Mountstuart Grant
Duff's 'Life of Sir Henry Maine,' and consulted the author as to who would
be the best fitted to write it. This is what Sir Mountstuart wrote in
_Twickenham, December 11th_.--I am very proud to find that so excellent a
judge thinks well of my little memoir of Maine. As to the article about
which you write, I think Sir Frederick Pollock would be very much the best
man to undertake it--the only man who could tell us, without any bias, what
I exceedingly want to know: how much of Maine's juridical speculations,
especially in 'Ancient Law,' is finally accepted. He may say that he has
said his say about Maine; but he has not; he has said a little, but I am
sure he has a great deal more to say. I wish to know the real value of each
of Maine's books.... I am writing a quite small book about Renan--the only
great Frenchman of our day whom you did not know very well.
The next was a Christmas greeting from Lord Derby, with an interesting
comment on the situation in France:--
_Knowsley, December 5th_.--Thanks for your letter of inquiry and good
wishes; the latter are cordially returned. Lady Derby joins me in the hope
that the coming year may be one of health and happiness to you and yours. I
cannot give a very rosy account of myself, being still ill and weak; even
if all goes well, I expect to have to lead in future a life of quiet
and privacy. My days of speeches are almost certainly ended; and after
forty-four years of public life, I do not much regret it.
The developement of events in 1893 will be interesting to watch. All
reports agree that Gladstone is taking the work of his office very easily,
and that he leaves nearly everything to his colleagues. That will not be so
easy in the Session. The Cabinet will be prevented by fear of ridicule
from breaking up on the Irish Bill, but all their friends and backers seem
prepared for its failure.
You are a hopeless pessimist as to French affairs. They certainly are not
going on smoothly, but where is the new Boulanger? Bourbons and Bonapartes
are played out; and France might advertise for a dictator without finding
one. If that be so, what threatens the republic? A socialist outbreak would
only strengthen it. Surely a nation may go on muddling its affairs a long
while without mortal harm.
Waddington, I am told, was informed by his friends that he had no right
to remain a Senator without taking his seat, and that he must give up one
position or the other. This is the excuse made for his recall. The truth, I
suppose, is that his place was wanted. He will be a real loss.
With the new year the party from Foxholes came to town, and there Reeve was
laid up with a serious illness which lasted nearly a month. The Journal
notes on February 7th--'I attended a dinner of The Club, and resigned the
treasurership, which I had held for twenty-five years.' A corresponding
entry a month later, on March 7th, is 'At the third dinner of The Club.
Lord Salisbury came "to my obsequies" and Gladstone wrote to me. Grant Duff
elected to the treasurership.'
Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff has been so good as to amplify this by a note
from his own diary. 'At the dinner on February 7th, 1893'--he writes--'I
was in the chair.... Reeve made a statement for which he had prepared me
by letter, to the effect that his great age, breaking health, and frequent
absences from London, would oblige him to resign ere long the treasurership
of The Club--the only office which exists in connection with it. He has
held it for some five-and-twenty years, and it is not surprising that his
voice faltered as he addressed us....
_March 21st_--Dined with The Club, taking my seat for the first time as
treasurer. After the last meeting mentioned, Reeve wrote to me to say that
there was a feeling in favour of my becoming his successor, and asked
whether I should object. I replied in the negative, and on the 7th I was
unanimously elected, upon the proposal of Sir Henry Elliot, who was in the
chair, and was seconded by Lord Salisbury.'
Of the correspondence of this period there is little. Lord Derby, who was
almost, or quite, the last of his political correspondents, was too ill
to write, and died on April 21st. On the 27th Reeve attended the funeral
service at St. Margaret's. Letters relating to the 'Review,' of course,
continued. Here are three referring to a political problem which, so lately
as five years ago, few could have the patience to be bothered with. That
Reeve, at his advanced age, could take it up with such interest is a strong
proof of the vitality and even freshness of his intellect.
_To Rear-Admiral Bridge_
62 Rutland Gate: April 27th.
My dear admiral,--I wish you would read an article in 'Blackwood's
Magazine' for May (just out) on the Russian occupation of Manchuria. I
never read a more impudent piece of _blague._ ------ must have written it.
Nobody else would boast of swindling the Chinese with a false map.
This induces me to ask whether you could not give me a short article for
the 'Review' on The Russians on the Pacific' and the naval effects of their
position at Vladivostock. They have made it a fortress, but it will take a
long time to make it a settlement. But it may become important.
Yours very faithfully,
_April 30th._--I am very glad you will revert to the North Pacific. You
should refer to your excellent article of 1880, which I have read over
again. It seems to exhaust the subject as far as relates to the settlements
on the Amoor, and even as to Vladivostock; but I suppose that thirteen
years have materially augmented the strength of Russia on the Pacific, and
any additional information would be valuable.
_Foxholes, May 23rd_.--I am much obliged to you for your interesting
article. I think the best heading would be 'Russia on the Pacific.' As I am
much pressed for room, I have ventured to excise some of your introductory
remarks, which are not essential to the main objects of the paper; but when
you come to positive business at Vladivostock, all that you say is most
excellent and important. I believe the Siberian railroad--like the line to
Samarkand--is only a single line. Such a line 5,000 miles long is a very
ineffective instrument for military and commercial purposes. How much can
it carry, allowing for return trains, chiefly empty? Where is Russia, with
a debt equal in charge to our own, to find forty millions sterling for such
a work, which would be wholly unproductive? It is true that, by employing
troops and Turkomans, the work may be done cheaply; but all this will take
a long time.
I am very glad you touch on the question between France and Siam: it is a
In the early days of July the Reeves settled down for the summer at
Foxholes, avoiding the great heat, with the thermometer at 80° F. when in
London it was reaching as high as 93° F. In the beginning of September
Reeve, together with his wife, returned to London, crossed over to
Boulogne, and so to Chantilly, where, as the guests of the Due d'Aumale,
they spent his 80th birthday. They stayed there till the 12th, and
returned, again by Boulogne and London, to Foxholes. It was his last visit
to the France he had loved so well. The year was in many respects a sad
one. His own health was becoming very uncertain, and gout, feverish colds,
and violent bleeding of the nose laid him up for weeks at a time. The
deaths of his friends, too, recurring in rapid succession, were frequent
reminders of what he had written nearly sixty-two years before: 'Between
seventy and eighty there rarely remains more than one change to be made.'
[Footnote: See _ante_, vol. i. p. 17.] He had now exceeded the higher
limit, and it happened that the obituary of 1893 contained an unusual
number of men of high literary and scientific distinction. Through all,
however, Reeve's head remained clear, and his work was seldom disturbed.
There is no sickness or feebleness in the following:--
_To Mr. T. Norton Longman_
_Foxholes, October 3rd._--I have read a great part of the 'Life of
Pusey'--an appalling book from the length of the letters in it. In my
opinion it lays bare, as nothing else has done, the total weakness and
inconsistency of the Tractarians, and their absolute disloyalty to the
Church of England. It is very difficult and very important to find a
suitable person to review such a work, for it must be done in the spirit
of the articles of Arnold, Tait, and Arthur Stanley, which express the
principles of the 'Edinburgh Review.' I incline to think it had better be
done by a layman. The parsons are all hostile to their own Church.
_To Rear-Admiral Bridge_
62 _Rutland Gate, November 12th._--We are come to town, and I hope it will
not be long before I have the pleasure of seeing you. Meanwhile, I have
been reading again the article on Mediterranean Politics which you gave us
last autumn. The combination of the French and Russian fleets seems to me
to be a matter of grave importance. Both those countries are unhappily
animated by very hostile intentions to us. They have discovered that it
is only by a superiority of sea power in the Mediterranean that they can
accomplish their twofold object, which I take to be for Russia to force the
Dardanelles and for France to compel us to evacuate Egypt. This seems to me
to be the _but_ of the alliance, in as far as it is an alliance. It is all
very well to talk of our maritime supremacy, but have we got it? You
know, and I do not. But to my mind, the worst is that we have got a
Government--or rather a minister--profoundly incapable of foreseeing a
great emergency or providing against it. It is quite possible that the
Gladstone administration may be blown up by a tremendous catastrophe. These
thoughts perplex me; but I hope you will tell me that I am quite wrong and
that Britannia rules the waves.
An exceptional chance gives us a picture of Foxholes, at this time, when
twenty years' occupation had enabled its owner to perfect all the details
which go to make up comfort.
During his absence in London in the beginning of 1894, he let it, for the
only time, to his friend, Lord Hobhouse, for many years a member of the
Judicial Committee, and just then convalescent after a serious illness. A
couple of notes which Lord Hobhouse wrote during his four weeks' tenancy
may be classed as 'Interiors' or 'Exteriors' from the practical point of
Foxholes, February 16th.
My dear Reeve,--I imagine that this morning Mrs. Reeve will have got a note
from my wife telling her of our settlement here. I was contemplating 'a
few words' to you, when Lady H. told me of her writing; and now comes your
letter, partly of welcome, partly of information.
I don't think it possible that we could be more happily housed. Size,
arrangement, warmth, beauty, inside and out, evidences everywhere of
cultivated taste and refined pursuits--all is calculated for enjoyment and
repose, probably for anybody, certainly for an invalid. I have established
myself in a corner of the library--which, partly from its intrinsic
advantages and partly from the presence of a thick cushion in the seat of
the armchair, I conjecture to be yours--between the writing desk and the
N.W. bookcase, with the N.E. window at my back and my legs protruding
beyond the jamb of the mantelpiece into the sacred [Greek: temeuos], which
is guarded by a low marble fence, and over which the fire which I
worship has sway. Both by day and by night the situation is perfect for
distribution of light and warmth. And I can read almost all my waking
hours; for all through my illness my head has been clear. My principal
embarrassment is to choose among the many temptations with which your
goodly bookcases beset me. However, after reading Traill's 'William III.'
(a rather thin composition, I think) I have settled into Gardiner's 'Civil
War,' which is much more solid and satisfying.
This morning I have been reading your little notice of Lord Derby; and I
think you do not speak at all too highly of his capacity for examining
political and social movements. In 1880 I delivered a lecture, which
was printed and circulated, on the eternal division of political
tendencies--movement and rest; and I took Lord Derby (then temporarily in
the Liberal Camp) as the best type of conservatism; cool, patient,
keen, sceptical, critical, just, impartial, with a mind always open
to conviction, but refusing to move until convinced. Such men are an
invaluable element in the deliberative stages of every question; but their
very critical powers paralyse action, and when movement becomes necessary
their hesitations are a drawback. I fancy that Cornewall Lewis was just
such another, but I did not know so much about him....
For me, I improve, slowly but enough, I think, to show at least that our
move was not premature. In the pick of the day (would that it were always
afternoon) I am able to walk for an hour or more, and I get good sleep in
the most luxurious of beds. Pray give my kind remembrances to Mrs. Reeve,
and believe me,
_Foxholes, March 6th._--Alas, alas! time flies away, and pleasant things
come to an end, and I shall not have many days' more enjoyment of your
charming house and library and outlook. But my time has not been wasted. I
have recovered strength, a good deal more than I expected, and am probably
now--at all events hope, by our return next Monday or Tuesday, to be--able
to re-enter the ordinary routine of life. Of course, we have had, like
other people, a great deal of blustering wind--for the most part from
north-west--very cold and very noisy in your chimneys. But there has also
been a great deal of sunshine with the gales, and the exposure of your
house to south-east has, on most days, given us a sheltered walk. Moreover,
your soil is so porous and absorbent, that one gets dry walking immediately
after rain. I have only been kept indoors two days since our arrival.
A few letters from Reeve himself show the continued activity of his mind,
and at the same time his consciousness of, his readiness for, the end which
was drawing nigh.
_To Mr. T. Norton Longman_
_Foxholes, May 29th._--Lord Derby's Speeches contain more political wisdom
than any other book of our time. I think people will find out its permanent
_June 13th._--I have nothing to correct or alter in the Greville Memoirs,
and am glad to find that some sale of them goes on.
I am much touched by the [approaching] death of Coleridge, whom I have
known so well and so long. I expect he will not survive to-day. He dined
with us at The Club on April 24th, and was then very well. _Sic transit._
_Foxholes, October 23rd_.--The notices of our old friend Froude
[Footnote: He died on October 20th, in his 77th year.] have been very
gratifying--especially the leader in the 'Times.' He leaves the world quite
glorified, and they now find out what a great man he was. I wonder
whether you are going to attend the funeral. I never send wreaths on such
occasions, but if I ever did send one it would be now, for I am truly
affected by the loss of such a friend. The newspapers seem to have
discovered that there were some big men in the last generation, and that
there are very few of them in the present.
_Rutland Gate, February 16th, 1895._--I am pretty well--not worse than
usual; but I don't go out.
My dear old friend, Lady Stanley of Alderley, died this morning. She was
only ill four days, and expired without pain or suffering at eighty-seven.
To me an irreparable loss, and to a vast circle of descendants and friends.
[Footnote: Among Reeve's papers there are a great many letters from Lady
Stanley of Alderley, telling plainly of the long and close friendship
between the two. Unfortunately, there are no available letters from Reeve
_To Rear-Admiral Bridge_ [Footnote: At this time Commander-in-Chief in
62 Rutland Gate, May 2nd.
My dear admiral,--I wish you were in reach of us, to discuss the
extraordinary events which are taking place in the North Pacific, to which
your articles on that subject have for some time pointed; but no one
foresaw the sudden uprising of Japan.
It seems to me that, in spite of her victories, Japan is in a very critical
position, politically speaking. She lies between two huge empires, and she
has undertaken to occupy more than she can hold. Her position is absolutely
fatal to the grand design of Russia, of crossing the north of Asia to the
Pacific, and I expect Russia will not submit to it. But Russia would find
it extremely difficult to carry on military and naval operations at such
an enormous distance from her base. I doubt whether she could destroy the
Japanese fleet, and it certainly is not for our interest that it should be
destroyed. The disposition here is to observe strict neutrality and watch
the course of events.
It is curious that nobody points out that the United States are the country
with the largest future interest in the Pacific, and that they must have
a voice in this controversy. It also largely affects our own Australian
colonies. A Russian establishment in Corea would effect a momentous change
in the Pacific, and Japan will doubtless resist it to the uttermost.
We are very dull here. Lord Rosebery has sunk into complete insignificance,
and his state of health is doubtful. The Government is rotten, but
continues to hold together. I think something must occur before long to
stir the waters.
We are going to Foxholes on May 20th to stay there. I have spent a dreary
winter, being unable to go out, but I am not seriously ill--suffering
chiefly from old age. Mrs. Reeve sends you her kind regards, and I am
Yours very faithfully,
* * * * *
_To Miss A. M. Clerke_
_Foxholes, September 8th_.--Many thanks, dear Miss Clerke, for your elegant
and instructive Life of the Herschels; they could not have had a more
accomplished biographer, if they had waited for it another century. Your
article on Argon fills me with amazement and admiration. How can the
human mind fathom such things! I beg you to send me the corrected proofs
to-morrow by return of post, as I want to make it up immediately. If
anything new is said on the subject at the British Association, you can add
a note to be printed at the end of the number.
To-morrow is my 82nd birthday--probably the last. But I am not ill, only
feeble and tired of living so long.
Yours most faithfully,
_To Captain S. P. Oliver, R.A._
_Foxholes, September 12th._--I have sent your corrected proofs [Footnote:
'The French in Madagascar,' October 1895.] to Spottiswoode, with a few
slight suggestions of my own. They will send you a revise.... I see you
have now so far modified your opinion that you think with me that the
position of the French is most critical. Unless they can announce some
signal success in the next two weeks, there will be a disaster and an awful
row. I see by the map that on the 5th of this month they were still
at Andriba, which I take to be about three-fifths of the distance to
Antananarivo. They have been five months getting there, and as they advance
the difficulty of bringing up stores, supplies, and reliefs increases, and
will increase. In my opinion, the Hovas are quite right _not_ to treat for
peace till they see what the rains will do for them. I hope they will hold
out, but avoid fighting.
Captain Oliver writes that 'One of Reeve's last pieces of work connected
with the "Edinburgh Review" must have been the paragraphs which he
substituted for my ending to the article. He was doubtful of the eventual
French success, whereas I felt pretty certain that affairs would terminate
as they have done in that island.' The forecast of the result of a
complicated business was erroneous, but to make one at all, and to commit
it to paper, was a remarkable display of energy in a dying man who was now
in his eighty-third year.
_To Mr. T. Norton Longman_
_Foxholes, September 12th_.--Thanks for your birthday congratulations, but
I doubt whether great age is a subject of congratulation at all.
_29th_.--I am extremely feeble, faculties low, eyesight weak. I should
like, if I live so long, to edit the January number of the 'Review;' but
after that I must stop.
_October 2nd._--Much obliged to you for your very kind note.... You will
doubtless pay me on November 15th the sum due then; but I wish to say that
I cannot go on to receive remuneration for services I am scarcely capable
of rendering. Therefore this payment in November will be the last on that
account [as literary adviser].
This was probably the last letter Reeve wrote with his own hand. For
several months he had been very much of an invalid, though he had persisted
in continuing his work, in which he found distraction and relief. And no
complaint passed his lips. 'The kindest thing you can do for me,' he said
to his anxious wife, 'is to leave me alone.' He made a point of coming down
to breakfast; but his strength was gradually failing, and he moved with
difficulty. His medical attendant recommended an operation, but this he was
unwilling to undergo, feeling doubtful whether at his advanced age it could
be successful. Sunday, October 13th, he passed in the library among the
books he prized. He dictated a letter, listened to the Psalms of the day,
and asked his wife to read also the First Epistle General of St. Peter.
In the afternoon Dr. Roberts Thomson and Dr. Davison saw him, and after a
consultation wrote to the distinguished specialist, Mr. Buckston Browne, to
be prepared to come on receipt of a telegram. On Monday Reeve was unable
to get up; he consented to undergo the operation, and Mr. Browne was
telegraphed for. On his arrival, about 7 o'clock in the evening, it was
decided to lose no more time. The operation was successfully performed,
under chloroform, and everything, the surgeons hoped, would go well. And
this they repeated for the next few days; the wound, they thought, was
closing nicely. At 82, however, wounds do not close readily, and Reeve's
system was weakened by some years of bad health. He never regained entire
consciousness; and though from time to time he gave some directions about
the 'Review,' they were not intelligible to those who heard; they probably
had no meaning even to himself. On Monday, October 21st, at half-past
one in the morning, 'the one last change was made,' and he passed away
peacefully and without suffering.
In a letter of sympathy to Mrs. Reeve Dr. Roberts Thomson wrote:--
'I was very much struck with your husband's wonderful patience when I saw
him, and the calm way in which he was able to face the future--whatever it
had in store for him. It is some consolation to know that he did not suffer
much, and that perhaps, had he recovered from the illness, his health
would have been so affected that great valetudinarianism would have been
inevitable. To him, this would have been suffering; and for his sake we are
thankful that he was spared it.'
His remains were interred in the Brookwood cemetery at Woking on October
He died, literally in harness. On Saturday, October 12th, he dictated a
last letter on the business of the 'Review;' and his indistinct words
during the few days of partial unconsciousness showed that his mind was
still endeavouring to fix itself on what had occupied it for so many years.
It was in his editorial capacity that I, who write these lines, first knew
him in 1866, though I did not make his personal acquaintance till 1877,
when he was a few months over 63. I found him a tall, stout, and--though
not strictly handsome--a good-looking man, who might very well have passed
for ten years younger than he actually was, and whose burly figure might
have seemed more at home in the covers or the turnip-fields than in the
Privy Council Office; his weight, which cannot, even then, have been much
under eighteen stone, must have stopped his hunting some time before. But
in his manner there was no trace of this fancied rusticity--how could there
be, indeed, in one trained in society almost from the cradle?--and his
voice was soft and musical. I have seen it stated that he was pompous,
self-assertive, and dictatorial. That his manners, formed by his mother and
his aunt on eighteenth-century models, and perfected in Paris among the
traditions of the _ancien regime_, had about them nothing of the 'hail
fellow, well met' fashion of the present day is very certain, and, joined
to his height (about 6 ft. 1 in.) and his great bulk, may sometimes
have given him the appearance of speaking _de haut en bas_, and must,
unquestionably, have enabled him to repress any unwelcome or undue
familiarity. As an editor, of course, he was dictatorial. We may talk of
the Republic of Letters; but in point of fact a successful journal is
and must be an autocracy. In his private capacity, I never found in his
conversation that habit of 'laying down the law' which some, with probably
inferior opportunities of judging, have complained of. Of his untiring
application and power of work enough has already been said; but the uniform
good luck which attended him through life is worthy of notice. In the
course of eighty-two years he experienced no reverse of fortune, no great
disappointment, and--with the one, though terrible, exception of the death
of his first wife--no great sorrow beyond what is the lot of all men. We
know that fortune favours the brave. It favours also those who to ability
and temper join prudence, courtesy, and careful, systematic, painstaking
At the age of 82 Reeve had outlived all of his contemporaries--the men who
had associated with him and worked with him in his youth. Their opinion of
him is only to be gauged by the fact that, with but few and easily explained
exceptions, the friendships of his early manhood were broken only by the
grave. The number of friends of forty or fifty years' standing who died
during the last decade of his life is very remarkable. As these are
wanting, I am happy in being able to conclude this tribute to his memory
by two appreciations, one English, the other French; the first, from and
representing the 'Edinburgh Review' to which it was contributed in January
1896, by Mr. W. E. H. Lecky.
'Although it has never been the custom of this "Review" to withdraw the
veil of anonymity from its writers and its administration, it would be mere
affectation to suffer this number to appear before the public without some
allusion to the great Editor whom we have just lost, and who for forty
years has watched with indefatigable care over our pages.
'The career of Mr. Henry Reeve is perhaps the most striking illustration in
our time of how little in English life influence is measured by notoriety.
To the outer world his name was but little known. He is remembered as the
translator of Tocqueville, as the editor of the "Greville Memoirs," as
the author of a not quite forgotten book on Royal and Republican France,
showing much knowledge of French literature and politics; as the holder
during fifty years of the respectable, but not very prominent, post of
Registrar of the Privy Council. To those who have a more intimate knowledge
of the political and literary life of England, it is well known that during
nearly the whole of his long life he was a powerful and living force in
English literature; that few men of his time have filled a larger place
in some of the most select circles of English social life; and that he
exercised during many years a political influence such as rarely falls
to the lot of any Englishman outside Parliament, or indeed outside the
'He was born at Norwich in 1813, and brought up in a highly cultivated,
and even brilliant, literary circle. His father, Dr. Reeve, was one of the
earliest contributors to this Review. The Austins, the Opies, the Taylors,
and the Aldersons were closely related to him, and he is said to have been
indebted to his gifted aunt, Sarah Austin, for his appointment in the Privy
Council. The family income was not large, and a great part of Mr. Reeve's
education took place on the Continent, chiefly at Geneva and Munich. He
went with excellent introductions, and the years he spent abroad were
abundantly fruitful. He learned German so well that he was at one time a
contributor to a German periodical. He was one of the rare Englishmen who
spoke French almost like a Frenchman, and at a very early age he formed
friendships with several eminent French writers. His translation of
the "Democracy in America," by Tocqueville, which appeared in 1835,
strengthened his hold on French society. Two years later he obtained the
appointment in the Privy Council, which he held until 1887. It was in this
office that he became the colleague and fast friend of Charles Greville,
who on his death-bed entrusted him with the publication of his "Memoirs."
'Mr. Reeve had now obtained an assured income and a steady occupation, but
it was far from satisfying his desire for work. He became a contributor,
and very soon a leading contributor, to the "Times," while his close and
confidential intercourse with Mr. Delane gave him a considerable voice in
its management. The penny newspaper was still unborn, and the "Times" at
this period was the undisputed monarch of the press, and exercised an
influence over public opinion, both in England and on the Continent,
such as no existing paper can be said to possess. It is, we believe, no
exaggeration to say that for the space of fifteen years nearly every
article that appeared in its columns on foreign politics was written by
Mr. Reeve, and the period during which he wrote for it included the year
1848,--when foreign politics were of transcendent importance.
'The great political influence which he at this time exercised naturally
drew him into close connexion with many of the chief statesmen of his time.
With Lord Clarendon especially his friendship was close and confidential,
and he received from that statesman almost weekly letters during his
Viceroyalty in Ireland and during other of the more critical periods of his
career. In France Mr. Reeve's connexions were scarcely less numerous than
in England. Guizot, Thiers, Cousin, Tocqueville, Villemain, Circourt--in
fact, nearly all the leading figures in French literature and
politics during the reign of Louis Philippe were among his friends or
correspondents. He was at all times singularly international in his
sympathies and friendships, and he appears to have been more than once
made the channel of confidential communications between English and French
'It was a task for which he was eminently suited. The qualities which most
impressed all who came into close communication with him were the strength,
swiftness, and soundness of his judgement, and his unfailing tact and
discretion in dealing with delicate questions. He was eminently a man of
the world, and had quite as much knowledge of men as of books. Probably
few men of his time have been so frequently and so variously consulted.
He always spoke with confidence and authority, and his clear, keen-cut,
decisive sentences, a certain stateliness of manner which did not so much
claim as assume ascendency, and a somewhat elaborate formality of courtesy
which was very efficacious in repelling intruders, sometimes concealed from
strangers the softer side of his character. But those who knew him well
soon learnt to recognise the genuine kindliness of his nature, his
remarkable skill in avoiding friction, and the rare steadiness of his
'One great source of his influence was the just belief in his complete
independence and disinterestedness. For a very able man his ambition was
singularly moderate. As he once said, he had made it his object throughout
life only to aim at things which were well within his power. He had very
little respect for the judgement of the multitude, and he cared nothing
for notoriety and not much for dignities. A moderate competence, congenial
work, a sphere of wide and genuine influence, a close and intimate
friendship with a large proportion of the guiding spirits of his time, were
the things he really valued, and all these he fully attained. He had great
conversational powers, which never degenerated into monologue, a singularly
equable, happy, and sanguine temperament, and a keen delight in cultivated
society. He might be seen to special advantage in two small and very select
dining clubs which have included most of the more distinguished English
statesmen and men of letters of the century. He became a member of the
Literary Society in 1857 and of Dr. Johnson's Club in 1861, and it is a
remarkable evidence of the appreciation of his social tact that both bodies
speedily selected him as their treasurer. He held that position in "The
Club" from 1868 till 1893, when failing health and absence from
London obliged him to relinquish it. The French Institute elected him
"Correspondant" in 1865 and Associated Member in 1888, in which latter
dignity he succeeded Sir Henry Maine. In 1870 the University of Oxford
conferred on him the honorary degree of D.C.L.
'It was in 1855, on the resignation of Sir George Cornewall Lewis, that he
assumed the editorship of this "Review," which he retained till the day
of his death. Both on the political and the literary side he was in full
harmony with its traditions. His rare and minute knowledge of recent
English and foreign political history; his vast fund of political anecdote;
his personal acquaintance with so many of the chief actors on the political
scene, both in England and France, gave a great weight and authority to his
judgements, and his mind was essentially of the Whig cast. He was a genuine
Liberal of the school of Russell, Palmerston, Clarendon, and Cornewall
Lewis. It was a sober and tolerant Liberalism, rooted in the traditions
of the past, and deeply attached to the historical elements in the
Constitution. The dislike and distrust with which he had always viewed the
progress of democracy deepened with age, and it was his firm conviction
that it could never become the permanent basis of good government. Like
most men of his type of thought and character, he was strongly repelled by
the later career of Mr. Gladstone, and the Home Rule policy at last severed
him definitely from the bulk of the Liberal party. From this time the
present Duke of Devonshire was the leader of his party.
'His literary judgements had much analogy to his political ones. His
leanings were all towards the old standards of thought and style. He had
been formed in the school of Macaulay and Milman, and of the great French
writers under Louis Philippe. Sober thought, clear reasoning, solid
scholarship, a transparent, vivid, and restrained style were the literary
qualities he most appreciated. He was a great purist, inexorably hostile
to a new word. In philosophy he was a devoted disciple of Kant, and his
decided orthodoxy in religious belief affected many of his judgements. He
could not appreciate Carlyle; he looked with much distrust on Darwinism and
the philosophy of Herbert Spencer, and he had very little patience with
some of the moral and intellectual extravagances of modern literature. But,
according to his own standards and in the wide range of his own subjects,
his literary judgement was eminently sound, and he was quick and generous
in recognising rising eminence. In at least one case the first considerable
recognition of a prominent historian was an article in this "Review" from
'He had a strong sense of the responsibility of an editor, and especially
of the editor of a Review of unsigned articles. No article appeared which
he did not carefully consider. His powerful individuality was deeply
stamped upon the "Review," and he carefully maintained its unity and
consistency of sentiments. It was one of the chief occupations and
pleasures of his closing days, and the very last letter he dictated
referred to it.
'Time, as might be expected, had greatly thinned the circle of his friends.
Of the France which he knew so well scarcely anything remained, but his old
friend and senior, Barthélemy St.-Hilaire, visited him at Christ-Church,
and he kept up to the end a warm friendship with the Duc d'Aumale. He spent
his 80th birthday at Chantilly, and until the very last year of his life he
was never absent when the Duke dined at "The Club." In Lord Derby he lost
the statesman with whom in his later years he was most closely connected by
private friendship and political sympathy, while the death of Lady Stanley
of Alderley deprived him of an attached and lifelong friend.
'Growing infirmities prevented him in his latter days from mixing much in
general society in London, but his life was brightened by all that loving
companionship could give; his mental powers were unfaded, and he could
still enjoy the society of younger friends. He looked forward to the end
with a perfect and a most characteristic calm, without fear and without
regret. It was the placid close of a long, dignified, and useful life.'
The second, the French appreciation, was spoken at the meeting of the
'Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques,' on November 16th, 1895,
by the Duc d'Aumale, who, after regretting his absence on the previous
occasion when the President had announced the death of their foreign
member, Mr. Henry Reeve, continued:
'Je n'aurais sans doute rien pu ajouter à ce qui a été si bien dit par M.
le Président, mais je tenais à rendre personnellement hommage à la mémoire
d'un confrère éminent, pour lequel je professais une haute estime et une
sincère amitié, et je demande à l'Académie la permission de lui adresser
'Qu'on l'envisage au point de vue littéraire ou au point de vue social,
la figure d'Henry Reeve était essentiellement originale, et il devait ce
caractère non seulement à la nature de son esprit, mais à l'éducation qu'il
avait reçue. Sur la base anglaise de la forte instruction classique son
père [Footnote: A momentary lapse of memory. It is scarcely possible that
the Duc d'Aumale did not know that Reeve's father died whilst Reeve was
still an infant, and that his education was directed by his mother.] voulut
ajouter le couronnement des hautes études continentales, et, pour que cette
culture intellectuelle n'eût rien d'exclusif ou d'absolu il fit choix de
Genève et de Munich. C'cst dans ces deux villes, dans ces deux grands
centres intellectuels, que Reeve passa une partie de sa jeunesse. Ce séjour
dans des milieux si différents laissa dans son esprit une double impression
qui se refléta sur toute sa vie.
'Peu de personnes, de nos jours, ont aussi bien connu que lui cette
charmante et originale société de Genève, qui semblait dater du
dix-huitième siècle, et qui en a si longtemps conservé les traditions.
C'est là qu'il acquit la connaissance approfondie de notre langue; il en
avait saisi les nuances délicates; il connaissait toute notre littérature.
Je ne connais guère d'étrangers qui puissent parler, comprendre, écrire le
français mieux que lui.
'L'allemand ne lui était pas moins familier. Le séjour à Munich lui inspira
aussi le goût des arts envisagés à un point de vue qui n'est pas tout à
fait le nôtre. Dans un petit volume, oeuvre de jeunesse, "Graphidae," il
traduisit sous une forme poétique l'impression que lui avaient laissée les
oeuvres des premiers maîtres italiens. On y retrouve, avec la mesure qui
etait un des caractères de cet esprit bien pondéré, la trace des théories
qui prévalaient alors dans l'Allemagne méridionale.
'À d'autres points de vue ce long séjour à l'étranger lui avait laissé
des traces plus profondes encore. Il en avait rapporté une sorte de
cosmopolitisme éclairé, tempéré, entretenu par ses nombreuses relations.
Je ne veux pas dire qu'il ne fut pas Anglais avant tout. Passionnément
patriote--et ce n'est pas moi qui lui en ferai un reproche--il épousait les
passions, les colères de son pays, mais sans rudesse, sans hauteur, sans
haine ou mépris des autres peuples, sans préjugés contre aucune nation
'Il ne cessa d'entretenir des relations intimes et constantes avec tout le
parti libéral français (je prends le mot libéral dans le vrai sens, le sens
le plus large), depuis M. le Duc de Broglie et M. Gruizot jusqu'à notre
vénéré confrère M. Barthelémy Saint-Hilaire.
'Malgré son impartialité j'oserai dire qu'il avait une certaine faiblesse
pour la France. Certes il n'aurait jamais épousé la cause de la France
engagée contre l'Angleterre; mais quand il voyait la France et l'Angleterre
d'accord sa joie était vive. Et lors de nos malheurs, sans prendre parti
dans la querelle, il n'a jamais cachée la sympathie que lui inspirait la
'Je ne sache pas que Reeve ait écrit aucun ouvrage de longue haleine, sauf
certaines traductions difficiles, importantes: quelques-unes rappellent à
cette compagnie des noms qui lui sont chers--la "Vie de Washington," par
Guizot; la "Démocratic," de Tocqueville, un de ses plus intimes amis.
'Il n'a pas pris une part directe au mouvement des affaires de son pays,
n'ayant siégé ni dans le parlement ni dans aucun cabinet; mais son
influence était considérable: sans cesse consulté, souvent chargé de
messages importants; enfin sa plume, sa plume surtout, ne restait jamais
inactive, et ses écrits portaient coup. Le "Times" l'a compte longtemps
parmi ses principaux collaborateurs; plus tard il se recueillit et se
consacra exclusivement à la direction de la "Revue d'Edimbourg," dont il
avait été longtemps un des principaux redacteurs. [Footnote: The Duke would
seem to have misunderstood Reeve's position, or, more probably, his
memory was confused by the lapse of forty years. Reeve was never _'un des
principaux rédacteurs'_ of the Edinburgh Review. Till he became sole editor
and, in a literary sense, autocrat, he had no part in the conduct of it,
nor was he a constant contributor (cf. _ante_, vol. i. p. 173).]
'Je n'ai pas besoin de rappeler à l'Académie quel rôle appartient à
"l'editeur" dans les grandes revues anglaises, quelle part il prend au
choix des sujets, à la rédaction des articles, quelle autorité il exerce,
ni de m'etendre sur l'histoire du plus ancien, je crois, des recueils
périodiques, assurément un des plus importants. La "Revue d'Edimbourg" est
plus qu'un simple organe; souvent elle donne la note, la formule des idées
acceptées par le parti dont elle continue d'arborer les couleurs sur sa
couverture bleue et chamois, les couleurs de M. Fox.
'J'ai dit que Reeve n'avait pas pris part au gouvernement. Il exerçait
cependant une charge, un veritable office de judicature, dont les
attributions ne sont pas d'accord avec nos moeurs et dont le titre même se
traduit difficilement dans notre langue. Attaché au Conseil privé comme
_Appeal Clerk_, puis comme Registrar, il jugeait des appels des îles de la
Manche. [Footnote: This, as has been seen (ante, vol. i. pp. 85-6), is a
very inexact and imperfect description of Reeve's duties, either as Clerk
of Appeals or as Registrar.] On comprend qu'une connaissance si parfaite
de la langue et des usages français le qualifiait particulièrement pour
remplir ces fonctions, quand on songe que la langue officielle de ces
îles est encore aujourd'hui le français et que dans les questions de
jurisprudence la coutume de Normandie y est constamment invoquée.
'Officiellement Reeve était sous les ordres du secrétaire du Conseil privé,
et ces rapports de subordination avaient créé des relations intimes entre
son supérieur et lui. M. Charles Gréville avait tenu la plume du Conseil
dans des circonstances deélicates et s'était trouvé mêlé à une foule
d'incidents; en mourant il chargea Reeve de publier ses mémoires. Cette
publication eut un grand retentissement.
'Reeve était fier d'appartenir à votre compagnie. Lorsque l'Université
d'Oxford me conféra le degré de docteur il était près de moi.
"Rappelez-vous," me dit-il en souriant, "que l'Académie des Sciences
Morales a sa part dans l'honneur que vous venez de recevoir." Fort répandu,
fort apprécie dans le monde, il menait de front ses travaux littéraires,
ses devoirs de juge, ses relations sociales, ses excursions; son activité
était extraordinaire. La goutte le gênait quelquefois, et d'année en année
ses visites devenaient plus fréquentes.
'Il avait bâti au bord la mer, en face de l'île de Wight, sous un climat
doux, une charmante villa, où il aimait a s'enfermer avec ses livres,
poursuivant ses travaux auprès de la digne et gracieuse compagne de sa vie.
Ses dernières années s'écoulèrent ainsi entre cette résidence et la maison
bien connue de Rutland Gate, où sa table hospitalière était toujours
ouverte à ses amis de France ou d'ailleurs. C'est à Foxholes que la mort
est venue le chercher.
'Je n'ai pas la préention de prononcer devant vous l'éloge d'Henry Reeve;
la competence me manque comme la preparation. En vous rappelant quelques
traits de cette noble figure je voulais, comme je vous l'ai dit tout à
l'heure, acquitter une dette de coeur envers un ami qui, jusqu'aux derniers
moments de sa vie, m'a prodigué les marques d'affection. Il voulut célébrer
à Chantilly le 80e anniversaire de sa naissance, et un de ses derniers
soucis était de réclamer les bonnes feuilles du septième volume de
"L'Histoire des Condé," dont il voulait rendre compte dans sa Revue.
[Footnote: The present writer feels a personal satisfaction in adding
that one of the last letters which Reeve dictated about the work of the
_Review_, was to him, asking him to undertake this article.]
'La mémoire du philosophe, du lettré, de l'érudit, dn confrère éminent, de
l'homme bon et aimable, mérite de rester honorée dans notre compagnie.'
It has been seen (_ante_, vol. ii.) that Reeve intended quoting Lord
Stanmore's letter on the formation of the Aberdeen Cabinet, in a future
edition of the 'Greville Memoirs.' There seems, however, to have been no
opportunity for doing so, and the letter has remained buried in the
columns of the 'Times' of June 13, 1887, becoming each year more and more
inaccessible. As relating to an interesting point raised by the 'Greville
Memoirs,' and also as, to some extent, carrying out Reeve's intention, it
is here reprinted, with Lord Stanmore's express permission.
_To the Editor of the 'Times'_
Sir,--It is only recently that the two new volumes of the 'Greville
Memoirs' lately published have reached Ceylon. I fear that before this
letter can arrive in England the interest excited by their appearance will
have passed away, and that, consequently, comments upon their contents
addressed to you may seem as much out of place as would a letter written
for the purpose of correcting some error in any well-known collection of
memoirs which have been long before the world. It is therefore not without
some hesitation that I venture to request permission from you to point out
the inaccuracy of a statement which appears near the commencement of the
first of these two volumes, and casts an undeserved imputation upon the
conduct, in 1852, of the chief members of the Peelite party.
Mr. Greville, under the date of December 28, 1852, writes thus:--
'Clarendon told me last night that the Peelites have behaved very ill, and
have grasped at everything; and he mentioned some very flagrant cases, in
which, after the distribution had been settled between Aberdeen and John
Russell, Newcastle and Sidney Herbert--for they appear to have been the
most active in the matter--persuaded Aberdeen to alter it, and bestow or
offer offices intended for Whigs to Peelites, and in some instances to
Derbyites who had been Peelites' (vol. i.).
In the next two pages lie comments with severity on the selfishness and
shortsightedness of the Peelites in reference to this matter. Now, the
reflection thus cast on the foresight and disinterestedness of the Peelite
leaders is in no wise warranted by the facts. What really occurred at the
formation of the Cabinet of December 1852 was, in truth, the exact reverse
of what is stated in Mr. Greville's pages. It was not the Peelites, but
Lord John Russell and the Whigs, who, after the list of the Cabinet and of
the chief officers of the State had been agreed on between Lord Aberdeen
and Lord John Russell, and had been submitted to and approved by the Queen,
objected to the composition of the Cabinet as 'too Peelite,' and strove to
change the arrangements made originally with Lord John Russell's entire
acquiescence. I will not, however, occupy your space with remarks of my
own; I will at once produce incontestable proof of what I have asserted. I
have now before me a manuscript journal kept by Sir James Graham, and from
it I quote the following extracts. In reading them it should be borne in
mind that the proposed distribution of offices agreed on between Lord
Aberdeen and Lord John Russell had been formally approved by the Queen on
_December 24th_.--'Lord John Russell most unexpectedly raised fresh
difficulties this morning, on the ground that the Whigs are not represented
in the new Cabinet sufficiently. He wished that Sir F. Baring should be
placed at the Board of Trade to the exclusion of Cardwell; that Lord
Clarendon should have the Duchy, with a seat in the Cabinet; and that Lord
Granville should be President of the Council. He thus proposed at one
_coup_ an infusion of three additional Whigs, and talked of Lord Carlisle
as the fittest person for the Lieutenancy of Ireland. It became necessary
to make a stand and to bring the Whigs to their ultimatum. Lord Aberdeen
consented to Lord Granville as President, and proposed that Lord Lansdowne
should sit in the Cabinet, without an office. This proposition, which
reduced the Whig addition, from three to two, saved the Board of Trade for
Cardwell, but excluded both him and Canning from the Cabinet. Lord John
did not regard it as satisfactory, and fought the point so long and so
pertinaciously, that the new writs could not be moved to-day, and the
House was adjourned till Monday. Towards evening, at the instance of Lord
Lansdowne, Lord John Russell yielded an unwilling assent to Lord Aberdeen's
_December 25th_.--'Lord John Russell is very much annoyed by the
disparaging tone of the articles in the "Times," which, while it supports
Lord Aberdeen, attacks him [Russell] and the Whigs. He is still also
dissatisfied in the exclusion of Lord Clarendon and of Sir George Grey from
the Cabinet, and thinks that the Whig share of the spoil is insufficient.
It is melancholy to see how little fitness for office is regarded on all
sides, and how much the public employments are treated as booty to be
divided among successful combatants. The Irish Government, also, is still
a matter of contest. The Whigs are anxious to displace Blackburne and to
replace him with Brady, their former Chancellor; they are jealous also of
St. Germans and Young, as Lord-Lieutenant and Chief Secretary, and want to
have Lord Carlisle substituted for the former. I discussed these matters at
Argyll House with Lord John and Lord Aberdeen. If we three were left
alone, we could easily adjust every difficulty; it is the intervention of
interested parties on opposite sides which mars every settlement...'
_December 27th_.--'The Whigs returned to the charge, and claimed in a most
menacing manner a larger share of the minor offices. Sir C. Wood and Mr.
Hayter came to me in the first instance and tried to shake me individually
in my opinion. I was stout and combated all their arguments, which assumed
an angry tone. We came to no satisfactory conclusion in my house, and the
discussion was adjourned to Lord John's. I found Lord John more amenable to
reason; but the whole arrangement was on the point of being broken off.
It was 1 o'clock. The House of Commons was to meet at 2 by special
adjournment, and the writs were to be issued punctually at that hour.
Sir C. Wood intimated that unless some further concessions were made
the arrangement was at an end, and that the moving of the writs must be
postponed. I said I should go down to the House, and make then and there
a full statement of the case, and recall by telegraph my address to
the electors of Carlisle, which declared my acceptance of office. This
firmness, coupled with my rising to leave the room, brought the gentlemen
to reason. I had a note in my pocket from Lord Aberdeen, which placed the
Duchy of Lancaster at their disposal, and Strutt was in the House ready to
receive it at the hands of Lord John. This offer was snatched immediately;
Strutt was consulted and accepted on the spot, and Hayter was sent to the
House of Commons, and he moved the writs of the Cabinet Ministers, of
Strutt also, and of Baines...'
_December 28th_.--'The contest as to minor offices was renewed with equal
pertinacity, but with less effect, after the moving of the principal writs.
A battle was fought for the Great Seal of Ireland, which was ultimately
yielded to Brady, the ex-Whig Chancellor. This concession was no sooner
made than an attempt to force Reddington as the Under-Secretary for Ireland
was commenced. He, being a Catholic, had consented to the Ecclesiastical
Titles Bill, against his private judgement and in defiance of his
coreligionists. His appointment would have been war with the Brigade, and
it was necessary to refuse it peremptorily. The dissatisfaction of
Lord Clarendon and of Lord John Russell was eagerly expressed, but was
ultimately mitigated by the offer to Reddington of the Secretaryship of
the Board of Control. The suggestion that Lord John might provide for him
abroad was not so favourably entertained. I have never passed a week so
unpleasantly. It was a battle for places from hostile camps, and the Whigs
disregarded fitness for the public service altogether. They fought
for their men as partisans, and all other considerations, as well as
consequences, were disregarded. Lord Aberdeen's patience and justice are
exemplary; he is firm and yet conciliatory, and has ended by making an
arrangement which is, on the whole, impartial and quite as satisfactory as
circumstances would permit.'
The evidence of Sir James Graham on points of fact will hardly be disputed,
nor will it be denied that he, who took an active part in the construction
of the Government and was in the most intimate confidence of Lord Aberdeen,
was in a better position for knowing what passed than Mr. Greville, who
was dependent on the information which he received from others. But if any
confirmation be desired it will be found in the extracts which I add from
the correspondence of Lord Aberdeen. The Queen, as I have before said,
approved the lists submitted to her on December 23rd. The same evening,
Lord John Russell wrote to Lord Aberdeen as follows:--
'I am told that the whole complexion of the Government will look too
Peelite. G. Grey suggests, and I concur, that Clarendon should be President
of the Council immediately, and when he leaves it someone else may be
named--Harrowby or Granville. I am seriously afraid that the whole thing
will break down from the weakness of the old Liberal party (I must not say
Whig) in the Cabinet. To this must be added:--President of the Board of
Trade, Postmaster, Chief Secretary for Ireland, all in Peelite hands. I
send a note which Bessborough has given me, and which is said to convey the
opinion of the Irish Liberal members. _It is not very reasonable_, but I
think Blackburne should be changed for Moore, and St. Germans for Lord
Carlisle. Palmerston consents to Bernal Osborne. You should write or see
Cranworth. Forgive all this trouble.'
Lord Aberdeen replied:--
'I do not admit the justice of the criticism made on the composition of the
Cabinet, if you fairly estimate the persons and the offices they fill. I do
not object to Clarendon; but my fear is that he will not be able to do the
business of the office in the House of Lords, and we are so weak there that
I entertain very great apprehensions.'
Lord John rejoined:--
'What I suggest is (1) that, as I have frequently proposed, with your
consent, Lord Granville should be Lord President; (2) that Sir F. Baring
should be President of the Board of Trade, with a seat in the Cabinet; (3)
that Clarendon should at once enter the Cabinet as Chancellor of the Duchy
of Lancaster; (4) that Lord Stanley of Alderley should be Vice-President,
not in the Cabinet. Let me add to what I have said that ten Whigs, members
of former Cabinets, are omitted in this, while only two Peelites are
omitted, and one entirely new is admitted--Argyll. Let me propose further
that the minor posts be recast with less disproportion. Cardwell ought not
to have office while Labouchere, Vernon Smith, and others are excluded.
'Pray let me have an answer before the writs are moved. I have sent for F.
Baring. If he will not join, G. Grey will.
'P.S.--About Ireland afterwards.'
On the receipt of this letter Lord Aberdeen wrote to the Queen that it
put it entirely out of his power to go to Windsor on that day as had been
intended, and that 'he regretted to say that the new propositions, which
had been made by Lord John that morning, although the scheme submitted to
the Queen had been approved of, were so extensive as very seriously to
endanger the success of his [Lord Aberdeen's] undertaking.'
It appears to me to be thus shown, beyond dispute or question, that it was
the Whigs and not the Peelites who, after the distribution of offices had
been fully agreed on, and approved by the Queen, sought to modify the
arrangements effected. Whether the Whigs had or had not cause for their
discontent is another question, on which it is unnecessary now to enter.
That such discontent was (considering their numerical strength) extremely
natural, none can deny. That, on the other hand, it would have been
impossible to exclude Sir James Graham, Mr. Gladstone, or the Duke of
Newcastle from a Cabinet formed and presided over by Lord Aberdeen, and
that the important share taken by Mr. Sidney Herbert in the overthrow of
Lord Derby's Government rendered him also entitled to claim Cabinet office,
most men will admit.
While anxious to correct a statement which appears to me injurious to the
reputation of public men, some of whom are still living, I trust I may
be permitted at the same time to record my strong sense of the general
accuracy of Mr. Greville's information. Where his notes are inaccurate,
their inaccuracy may, I believe, be more generally accounted for by his
omission in those cases to insert in his diary (as in many other instances
he has done) a subsequent correction of the erroneous reports which had in
the first instance reached him.
I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
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