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Collections and Recollections by George William Erskine Russell

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Archbishop of Canterbury was preceded by servants bearing flambeaux when
he walked across from Lambeth Chapel to what were called "Mrs. Howley's
Lodgings." When the Archbishop dined out he was treated with princely
honours, and no one left the party till His Grace had made his bow. Once
a week he dined in state in the great hall of Lambeth, presiding over a
company of self-invited guests--strange perversion of the old
archiepiscopal charity to travellers and the poor--while, as Sydney
Smith said, "the domestics of the prelacy stood, with swords and
bag-wigs, round pig and turkey and venison, to defend, as it were, the
orthodox gastronome from the fierce Unitarian, the fell Baptist, and all
the famished children of Dissent." When Sir John Coleridge, father of
the late Lord Chief Justice, was a young man at the Bar, he wished to
obtain a small legal post in the Archbishop's Prerogative Court. An
influential friend undertook to forward his application to the
Archbishop. "But remember," he said, "in writing your letter, that his
Grace can only be approached on gilt-edged paper." Archbishop Harcourt
never went from Bishopthorpe to York Minster except attended by his
chaplains, in a coach and six, while Lady Anne was made to follow in a
pair-horse carriage, to show her that her position was not the same
thing among women that her husband's was among men. At Durham, which was
worth L40,000 a year, the Bishop, as Prince Palatine, exercised a
secular jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, and the Commission at the
Assizes ran in the name of "Our Lord the Bishop." At Ely, Bishop Sparke
gave so many of his best livings to his family that it was locally said
that you could find your way across the Fens on a dark night by the
number of little Sparkes along the road. When this good prelate secured
a residential canonry for his eldest son, the event was so much a matter
of course that he did not deem it worthy of special notice; but when he
secured a second canonry for his second son, he was so filled with pious
gratitude that, as a thank-offering, he gave a ball at the Palace of Ely
to all the county of Cambridge. "And I think," said Bishop Woodford, in
telling me the story, "that the achievement and the way of celebrating
it were equally remarkable."

This grand tradition of mingled splendour and profit ran down, in due
degree, through all ranks of the hierarchy. The poorer bishoprics were
commonly held in conjunction with a rich deanery or prebend, and not
seldom with some important living; so that the most impecunious
successor of the Apostles could manage to have four horses to his
carriage and his daily bottle of Madeira. Not so splendid as a palace,
but quite as comfortable, was a first-class deanery. A "Golden Stall" at
Durham or St. Paul's made its occupant a rich man. And even the rectors
of the more opulent parishes contrived to "live," as the phrase went,
"very much like gentleman."

The old Prince Bishops are as extinct as the dodo. The Ecclesiastical
Commission has made an end of them. Bishop Sumner of Winchester, who
died in 1874, was the last of his race. But the dignified country
clergyman, who combined private means with a rich living, did his county
business in person, and performed his religious duties by deputy,
survived into very recent times. I have known a fine old specimen of
this class--a man who never entered his church on a week-day, nor wore a
white neckcloth except on Sunday; who was an active magistrate, a keen
sportsman, an acknowledged authority on horticulture and farming; and
who boasted that he had never written a sermon in his life, but could
alter one with any man in England--which, in truth, he did so
effectively that the author would never have recognized his own
handiwork. When the neighbouring parsons first tried to get up a
periodical "clerical meeting" for the study of theology, he responded
genially to the suggestion: "Oh yes; I think it sounds a capital thing,
and I suppose we shall finish up with a rubber and a bit of supper."

The reverence in which a rector of this type was held, and the
difference, not merely of degree but of kind, which was supposed to
separate him from the inferior order of curates, were amusingly
exemplified in the case of an old friend of mine. Returning to his
parish after his autumn holiday, and noticing a woman at her cottage
door with a baby in her arms, he asked, "Has that child been baptised?"
"Well, sir," replied the curtsying mother, "I shouldn't like to say as
much as that; but your young man came and _did what he could_."

Lost in these entrancing recollections of Anglicanism as it once was,
but will never be again, I have wandered far from my theme. I began by
saying that all one has read, all one has heard, all one has been able
to collect by study or by conversation, points to the close of the
eighteenth century as the low-water mark of English religion and
morality. The first thirty years of the nineteenth century witnessed a
great revival, due chiefly to the Evangelical movement, and not only,
as in the previous century, on lines outside the Establishment, but in
the very heart and core of the Church of England. That movement, though
little countenanced by ecclesiastical authority, changed the whole tone
of religious thought and life in England. It recalled men to serious
ideas of faith and duty; it curbed profligacy, it made decency
fashionable, it revived the external usages of piety, and it prepared
the way for that later movement which, issuing from Oxford in 1833, has
transfigured the Church of England.

"I do not mean to say," wrote Mr. Gladstone in 1879, "that the founders
of the Oxford School announced, or even that they knew, to how large an
extent they were to be pupils and continuators of the Evangelical work,
besides being something else.... Their distinctive speech was of Church
and priesthood, of Sacraments and services, as the vesture under the
varied folds of which the Form of the Divine Redeemer was to be
exhibited to the world in a way capable of, and suited for, transmission
by a collective body from generation to generation. It may well have
happened that, in straining to secure for their ideas what they thought
their due place, some at least may have forgotten or disparaged that
personal and experimental life of the human soul with God which profits
by all ordinances but is tied to none, dwelling ever, through all its
varying moods, in the inner courts of the sanctuary whereof the walls
are not built with hands. The only matter, however, with which I am now
concerned is to record the fact that the pith and life of the
Evangelical teaching, as it consists in the reintroduction of Christ our
Lord to be the woof and warp of preaching, was the great gift of the
movement to the teaching Church, and has now penetrated and possessed it
on a scale so general that it may be considered as pervading the whole


[6] Lord Holland's _Memoirs of the Whig Party_, ii. p. 123.

[7] The property of Colonel Davies-Evans of Highmead.

[8] Written in 1897.



It was a characteristic saying of Talleyrand that no one could conceive
how pleasant life was capable of being who had not belonged to the
French aristocracy before the Revolution. There were, no doubt, in the
case of that great man's congeners some legal and constitutional
prerogatives which rendered their condition supremely enviable; but so
far as splendour, stateliness, and exclusive privilege are elements of a
pleasant life, he might have extended his remark to England. Similar
conditions of social existence here and in France were similarly and
simultaneously transformed by the same tremendous upheaval which marked
the final disappearance of the feudal spirit and the birth of the modern

The old order passed away, and the face of human society was made new.
The law-abiding and temperate genius of the Anglo-Saxon race saved
England from the excesses, the horrors, and the dramatic incidents which
marked this period of transition in France; but though more quietly
effected, the change in England was not less marked, less momentous, or
less permanent than on the Continent. I have spoken in a former chapter
of the religious revival which was the most striking result in England
of the Revolution in France. To-day I shall say a word about another
result, or group of results, which may be summarized as Social

The barriers between ranks and classes were to a large extent broken
down. The prescriptive privileges of aristocracy were reduced. The
ceremoniousness of social demeanour was diminished. Great men were
content with less elaboration and display in their retinues, equipages,
and mode of living. Dress lost its richness of ornament and its
distinctive characteristics. Young men of fashion no longer bedizened
themselves in velvet, brocade, and gold lace. Knights of the Garter no
longer displayed the Blue Ribbon in Parliament. Officers no longer went
into society with uniform and sword. Bishops laid aside their wigs;
dignified clergy discarded the cassock. Coloured coats, silk stockings,
lace ruffles, and hair-powder survived only in the footmen's liveries.
When the Reform Bill of 1832 received the Royal Assent, the Lord
Bathurst of the period, who had been a member of the Duke of
Wellington's Cabinet, solemnly cut off his pigtail, saying, "Ichabod,
for the glory is departed;" and to the first Reformed Parliament only
one pigtail was returned (it pertained to Mr. Sheppard, M.P. for
Frome)--an impressive symbol of social transformation.

The lines of demarcation between the peerage and the untitled classes
were partially obliterated. How clear and rigid those lines had been it
is difficult for us to conceive. In _Humphrey Clinker_ the nobleman
refuses to fight a duel with the squire on the ground of their social
inequality. Mr. Wilberforce declined a peerage because it would exclude
his sons from intimacy with private gentlemen, clergymen, and mercantile
families. I have stated in a previous chapter that Lord Bathurst, who
was born in 1791, told me that at his private school he and the other
sons of peers sate together on a privileged bench apart from the rest of
the boys. A typical aristocrat was the first Marquis of Abercorn. He
died in 1818, but he is still revered in Ulster under the name of "The
Owld Marquis." This admirable nobleman always went out shooting in his
Blue Ribbon, and required his housemaids to wear white kid gloves when
they made his bed. Before he married his first cousin, Miss Cecil
Hamilton, he induced the Crown to confer on her the titular rank of an
Earl's daughter, that he might not marry beneath his position; and when
he discovered that she contemplated eloping, he sent a message begging
her to take the family coach, as it ought never to be said that Lady
Abercorn left her husband's roof in a hack chaise. By such endearing
traits do the truly great live in the hearts of posterity.

In the earlier part of this century Dr. Arnold inveighed with
characteristic vigour against "the insolencies of our aristocracy, the
scandalous exemption of the peers from all ignominious punishments short
of death, and the insolent practice of allowing peers to vote in
criminal trials on their honour, while other men vote on their oath."
But generally the claims of rank and birth were admitted with a
childlike cheerfulness. The high function of government was the
birthright of the few. The people, according to episcopal showing, had
nothing to do with the laws but to obey them. The ingenious author of
_Russell's Modern Europe_ states in his preface to that immortal work
that his object in adopting the form of a Series of Letters from a
Nobleman to his Son is "to give more Weight to the Moral and Political
Maxims, and to entitle the author to offer, without seeming to dictate
to the World, such reflections on Life and Manners as are supposed more
immediately to belong to the higher orders in Society." Nor were the
privileges of rank held to pertain merely to temporal concerns. When
Selina Countess of Huntingdon asked the Duchess of Buckingham to
accompany her to a sermon of Whitefield's, the Duchess replied: "I thank
your ladyship for the information concerning the Methodist preachers;
their doctrines are most repulsive, and strongly tinctured with
impertinence and disrespect towards their superiors, in perpetually
endeavouring to level all ranks and do away with all distinctions. It is
monstrous to be told you have a heart as sinful as the common wretches
that crawl on the earth; and I cannot but wonder that your ladyship
should relish any sentiments so much at variance with high rank and good

The exclusive and almost feudal character of the English peerage was
destroyed, finally and of set purpose, by Pitt when he declared that
every man who had an estate of ten thousand a year had a right to be a
peer. In Lord Beaconsfield's words, "He created a plebeian aristocracy
and blended it with the patrician oligarchy. He made peers of
second-rate squires and fat graziers. He caught them in the alleys of
Lombard Street, and clutched them from the counting-houses of Cornhill."
This democratization of the peerage was accompanied by great
modifications of pomp and stateliness in the daily life of the peers. In
the eighteenth century the Duke and Duchess of Atholl were always served
at their own table before their guests, in recognition of their royal
rank as Sovereigns of the Isle of Man; and the Duke and Duchess of
Argyll observed the same courteous usage for no better reason than
because they liked it. The "Household Book" of Alnwick Castle records
the amplitude and complexity of the domestic hierarchy which ministered
to the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland; and at Arundel and Belvoir,
and Trentham and Wentworth, the magnates of the peerage lived in a state
little less than regal. Seneschals and gentlemen-ushers,
ladies-in-waiting and pages-of-the-presence adorned noble as well as
royal households. The private chaplain of a great Whig duke, within the
recollection of people whom I have known, used to preface his sermon
with a prayer for the nobility, and "especially for the noble duke to
whom I am indebted for my scarf"--the badge of chaplaincy--accompanying
the words by a profound bow toward his Grace's pew. The last "running
footman" pertained to "Old Q."--the notorious Duke of Queensberry, who
died in 1810. Horace Walpole describes how, when a guest playing cards
at Woburn Abbey dropped a silver piece on the floor, and said, "Oh,
never mind; let the Groom of the Chambers have it," the Duchess replied,
"Let the carpet-sweeper have it; the Groom of the Chambers never takes
anything but gold."

These grotesque splendours of domestic living went out with the
eighteenth century. Dr. Johnson, who died in 1784, had already noted
their decline. There was a general approach towards external
equalization of ranks, and that approach was accompanied by a general
diffusion of material enjoyment. The luxury of the period was prodigal
rather than refined. There lies before me as I write a tavern bill for a
dinner for seven persons in the year 1751. I reproduce the items
verbally and literally, and certainly the bill of fare is worth studying
as a record of gastronomical exertion on a heroic scale:--

Bread and Beer. Potage de Tortue. Calipash. Calipees. Un Pate de
Jambon de Bayone. Potage Julien Verd. Two Turbots to remove the
Soops. Haunch of Venison. Palaits de Mouton. Selle de Mouton.
Salade. Saucisses au Ecrevisses. Boudin Blanc a le Reine. Petits
Pates a l'Espaniol. Coteletts a la Cardinal. Selle d'Agneau glace
aux Cocombres. Saumon a la Chambord. Fillets de Saules Royales. Une
bisque de Lait de Maquereaux. Un Lambert aux Innocents. Des Perdrix
Sauce Vin de Champaign. Poulets a le Russiene. Ris de Veau en
Arlequin. Quee d'Agneau a la Montaban. Dix Cailles. Un Lapreau. Un
Phesant. Dix Ortolans. Une Tourte de Cerises. Artichaux a le
Provensalle. Choufleurs au flour. Cretes de Cocq en Bonets. Amorte
de Jesuits. Salade. Chicken. Ice Cream and Fruits. Fruit of various
sorts, forced. Fruit from Market. Butter and Cheese. Clare.
Champaign. Burgundy. Hock. White Wine. Madeira. Sack. Cape. Cyprus.
Neuilly. Usquebaugh. Spa and Bristol Waters. Oranges and Lemons.
Coffee and Tea. Lemonade.

The total charge for this dinner for seven amounted to L81, 11s. 6d.,
and a footnote informs the curious reader that there was also "a turtle
sent as a Present to the Company, and dressed in a very high _Gout_
after the West Indian Manner." Old cookery-books, such as the misquoted
work of Mrs. Glasse, Dr. Kitchener's _Cook's Oracle_, and the anonymous
but admirable _Culina_, all concur in their testimony to the enormous
amount of animal food which went to make an ordinary meal, and the
amazing variety of irreconcilable ingredients which were combined in a
single dish. Lord Beaconsfield, whose knowledge of this recondite branch
of English literature was curiously minute, thus describes--no doubt
from authentic sources--a family dinner at the end of the eighteenth

"The ample tureen of _potage royal_ had a boned duck swimming in its
centre. At the other end of the table scowled in death the grim
countenance of a huge roast pike, flanked on one side by a leg of mutton
_a la daube_, and on the other by the tempting delicacies of Bombarded
Veal. To these succeeded that masterpiece of the culinary art a grand
Battalia Pie, in which the bodies of chickens, pigeons, and rabbits were
embalmed in spices, cocks' combs, and savoury balls, and well bedewed
with one of those rich sauces of claret, anchovy, and sweet herbs in
which our grandfathers delighted, and which was technically termed a
Lear. A Florentine tourte or tansy, an old English custard, a more
refined blamango, and a riband jelly of many colours offered a pleasant
relief after these vaster inventions, and the repast closed with a dish
of oyster-loaves and a pomepetone of larks."

As the old order yielded place to the new, this enormous profusion of
rich food became by degrees less fashionable, though its terrible
traditions endured, through the days of Soyer and Francatelli, almost to
our own time. But gradually refinement began to supersede profusion.
Simultaneously all forms of luxury spread from the aristocracy to the
plutocracy; while the middle and lower classes attained a degree of
solid comfort which would a few years before have been impossible. Under
Pitt's administration wealth increased rapidly. Great fortunes were
amassed through the improvement of agricultural methods and the
application of machinery to manufacture. The Indian Nabobs, as they were
called, became a recognized and powerful element in society, and their
habits of "Asiatic luxury" are represented by Chatham, Burke, Voltaire,
and Home Tooke as producing a marked effect upon the social life of the
time. Lord Robert Seymour notes in his diary for 1788 that a fashionable
lady gave L100 a year to the cook who superintended her suppers; that at
a sale of bric-a-brac 230 guineas were paid for a mirror; and that, at a
ball given by the Knights of the Bath at the Pantheon, the decorations
cost upwards of L3000. The general consumption of French and Portuguese
wines in place of beer, which had till recently been the beverage even
of the affluent, was regarded by grave writers as a most alarming sign
of the times, and the cause of a great increase of drunkenness among the
upper classes. The habits and manners prevalent in London spread into
the country. As the distinction between the nobility, who, roughly
speaking, had been the frequenters of the capital, and the minor gentry,
who had lived almost entirely on their own estates, gradually
disappeared, the distinction between town and country life sensibly

The enormous increase in the facilities for travelling and for the
interchange of information contributed to the same result; and grave men
lamented the growing fondness of the provincial ladies for the
card-table, the theatre, the assembly, the masquerade, and--singular
social juxtaposition--the Circulating Library. The process of social
assimilation, while it spread from town to country and from nobility to
gentry, reached down from the gentry to the merchants, and from the
merchants to the tradesmen. The merchant had his villa three or four
miles away from his place of business, and lived at Clapham or Dulwich
in a degree and kind of luxury which had a few years before been the
monopoly of the aristocracy. The tradesman no longer inhabited the rooms
over his shop, but a house in Bloomsbury or Soho. Where, fifty years
before, one fire in the kitchen served the whole family, and one dish of
meat appeared on the table, now a footman waited at the banquet of
imported luxuries, and small beer and punch had made way for Burgundy
and Madeira.

But the subject expands before us, and it is time to close. Now I
propose to inquire how far this Social Equalization was accompanied by
Social Amelioration.



At this point it is necessary to look back a little, and to clear our
minds of the delusion that an age of splendour is necessarily an age of
refinement. We have seen something of the regal state and prodigal
luxury which surrounded the English aristocracy in the middle of the
eighteenth century. Yet at no period of our national history--unless,
perhaps, during the orgies of the Restoration were aristocratic morals
at so low an ebb. Edmund Burke, in a passage which is as ethically
questionable as it is rhetorically beautiful, taught that vice loses
half its evil when it loses all its grossness. But in the English
society of his time grossness was as conspicuous as vice itself, and it
infected not only the region of morals, but also that of manners.

Sir Walter Scott has described how, in his youth, refined gentlewomen
read aloud to their families the most startling passages of the most
outrageous authors. I have been told by one who heard it from an
eye-witness that a great Whig duchess, who figures brilliantly in the
social and political memoirs of the eighteenth century, turning to the
footman who was waiting on her at dinner, exclaimed, "I wish to G---
that you wouldn't keep rubbing your great greasy belly against the back
of my chair." Men and women of the highest fashion swore like troopers;
the Princes of the Blood, who carried down into the middle of the
nineteenth century the courtly habits of their youth, setting the
example. Mr. Gladstone told me the following anecdote, which he had from
the Lord Pembroke of the period, who was present at the scene.

In the early days of the first Reformed Parliament the Whig Government
were contemplating a reform of the law of Church Rates. Success was
certain in the House of Commons, but the Tory peers, headed by the Duke
of Cumberland, determined to defeat the Bill in the House of Lords. A
meeting of the party was held, when it appeared that, in the balanced
state of parties, the Tory peers could not effect their purpose unless
they could rally the bishops to their aid. The question was, What would
the Archbishop of Canterbury do? He was Dr. Howley, the mildest and most
apostolic of men, and the most averse from strife and contention. It was
impossible to be certain of his action, and the Duke of Cumberland
posted off to Lambeth to ascertain it. Returning in hot haste to the
caucus, he burst into the room, exclaiming, "It's all right, my lords;
the Archbishop says he will be d----d to hell if he doesn't throw the
Bill out." The Duke of Wellington's "Twopenny d----n" has become
proverbial; and Sydney Smith neatly rebuked a similar propensity in Lord
Melbourne by saying, "Let us assume everybody and everything to be d---
d, and come to the point." The Miss Berrys, who had been the
correspondents of Horace Walpole, and who carried down to the 'fifties
the most refined traditions of social life in the previous century,
habitually "d----d" the tea-kettle if it burned their fingers, and
called their male friends by their surnames--"Come, Milnes, will you
have a cup of tea?" "Now, Macaulay, we have had enough of that subject."

So much, then, for the refinement of the upper classes. Did the Social
Equalization of which we have spoken bring with it anything in the way
of Social Amelioration? A philosophical orator of my time at the Oxford
Union, now a valued member of the House of Lords, once said in a debate
on national intemperance that he had made a careful study of the
subject, and, with much show of scientific analysis, he thus announced
the result of his researches: "The causes of national intemperance are
three: first, the adulteration of liquor; second, the love of drink; and
third, the desire for more." Knowing my incapacity to rival this
masterpiece of exact thinking, I have not thought it necessary in these
chapters to enlarge on the national habit of excessive drinking in the
late years of the eighteenth century. The grossness and the universality
of the vice are too well known to need elaborating. All oral tradition,
all contemporary literature, all satiric art, tell the same horrid tale;
and the number of bottles which a single toper would consume at a
sitting not only, in Burke's phrase, "outraged economy," but "staggered
credibility." Even as late as 1831, Samuel Wilberforce, afterwards
Bishop, wrote thus in his diary:--"A good Audit Dinner: 23 people drank
11 bottles of wine, 28 quarts of beer, 2-1/2 of spirits, and 12 bowls of
punch; and would have drunk twice as much if not restrained. _None, we
hope, drunk!_" Mr. Gladstone told me that once, when he was a young man,
he was dining at a house where the principal guest was a Bishop. When
the decanters had made a sufficient number of circuits, the host said,
"Shall we have any more wine, my Lord?" "Thank you--not till we have
disposed of what is before us," was the bland episcopal reply.

But still, in the matter of drinking, the turn of the century witnessed
some social amelioration among the upper classes. There was a change, if
not in quantity, at least in quality. Where port and Madeira had been
the Staple drinks, corrected by libations of brandy, less potent
beverages became fashionable. The late Mr. Thomson Hankey, formerly
M.P. for Peterborough, told me that he remembered his father coming home
from the city one day and saying to his mother, "My dear, I have ordered
a dozen bottles of a new white wine. It is called sherry, and I am told
the Prince Regent drinks nothing else." The fifteenth Lord Derby told me
that the cellar-books at Knowsley and St. James's Square had been
carefully kept for a hundred years, and that--contrary to what every one
would have supposed--the number of bottles drunk in a year had not
diminished. The alteration was in the alcoholic strength of the wines
consumed. Burgundy, port, and Madeira had made way for light claret,
champagne, and hock. That, even under these changed conditions of
potency, the actual number of bottles consumed showed no diminution, was
accounted for by the fact that at balls and evening parties a great deal
more champagne was drunk than formerly, and that luncheon in a large
house had now become practically an earlier dinner.

The growth of these subsidiary meals was a curious feature of the
nineteenth century. We exclaim with horror at such preposterous bills of
fare as that which I quoted in my last chapter, but it should be
remembered, in justice to our fathers, that dinner was the only
substantial meal of the day. Holland House was always regarded as the
very temple of luxury, and Macaulay tells us that the viands at a
breakfast-party there were tea and coffee, eggs, rolls, and butter. The
fashion, which began in the nineteenth century, of going to the
Highlands for shooting, popularized in England certain northern habits
of feeding, and a morning meal at which game and cold meat appeared was
known in England as a "Scotch breakfast." Apparently it had made some
way by 1840, for the _Ingoldsby Legends_ published in that year thus
describe the morning meal of the ill-fated Sir Thomas:--

"It seems he had taken A light breakfast--bacon,
An egg, with a little broiled haddock; at most
A round and a half of some hot buttered toast;
With a slice of cold sirloin from yesterday's roast."

Luncheon, or "nuncheon" as some very ancient friends of mine always
called it, was the merest mouthful. Men went out shooting with a
sandwich in their pocket; the ladies who sat at home had some cold
chicken and wine and water brought into the drawing-room on a tray. Miss
Austen in her novels always dismisses the midday meal under the cursory
appellation of "cold meat." The celebrated Dr. Kitchener, the
sympathetic author of the _Cook's Oracle_, writing in 1825, says: "Your
luncheon may consist of a bit of roasted poultry, a basin of beef tea,
or eggs poached, or boiled in the shell; fish plainly dressed, or a
sandwich; stale bread; and half a pint of good homebrewed beer, or
toast-and-water, with about one-fourth or one-third part of its measure
of wine." And this prescription would no doubt have worn an aspect of
liberal concession to the demands of the patient's appetite. It is
difficult, by any effort of a morbid imagination, to realize a time when
there was no five-o'clock tea; and yet that most sacred of our national
institutions was only invented by the Duchess of Bedford who died in
1857, and whose name should surely be enrolled in the Positivist
Kalendar as a benefactress of the human race. No wonder that by seven
o'clock our fathers, and even our mothers, were ready to tackle a dinner
of solid properties; and even to supplement it with the amazing supper
(which Dr. Kitchener prescribes for "those who dine very late") of
"gruel, or a little bread and cheese, or pounded cheese, and a glass of

This is a long digression from the subject of excessive drinking, with
which, however, it is not remotely connected; and, both in respect of
drunkenness and of gluttony, the habits of English society in the years
which immediately succeeded the French Revolution showed a marked
amelioration. To a company of enthusiastic Wordsworthians who were
deploring their master's confession that he got drunk at Cambridge, I
heard Mr. Shorthouse, the accomplished author of _John Inglesant_,
soothingly remark that in all probability "Wordsworth's standard of
intoxication was miserably low."[9] Simultaneously with the restriction
of excess there was seen a corresponding increase in refinement of taste
and manners. Some of the more brutal forms of so-called sport, such as
bull-baiting and cock-fighting, became less fashionable. The more
civilized forms, such as fox-hunting and racing, increased in favour.
Aesthetic culture was more generally diffused. The stage was at the
height of its glory. Music was a favourite form of public recreation.
Great prices were given for works of art. The study of physical science,
or "natural philosophy" as it was called, became popular. Public
Libraries and local "book societies" sprang up, and there was a wide
demand for encyclopaedias and similar vehicles for the diffusion of
general knowledge. The love of natural beauty was beginning to move the
hearts of men, and it found expression at once in an entirely new school
of landscape painting, and in a more romantic and natural form of

But against these marked instances of social amelioration must be set
some darker traits of national life. The public conscience had not yet
revolted against violence and brutality. The prize-ring, patronized by
Royalty, was at its zenith. Humanitarians and philanthropists were as
yet an obscure and ridiculed sect. The slave trade, though menaced, was
still undisturbed. Under a system scarcely distinguishable from slavery,
pauper children were bound over to the owners of factories and subjected
to the utmost rigour of enforced labour. The treatment of the insane
was darkened by incredible barbarities. As late as 1828 Lord Shaftesbury
found that the lunatics in Bedlam were chained to their straw beds, and
left from Saturday to Monday without attendance, and with only bread and
water within their reach, while the keepers were enjoying themselves.
Discipline in the services, in poorhouses, and in schools was of the
most brutal type. Our prisons were unreformed. Our penal code was
inconceivably sanguinary and savage. In 1770 there were one hundred and
sixty capital offences on the Statute-book, and by the beginning of the
nineteenth century the number had greatly increased. To steal five
shillings' worth of goods from a shop was punishable by death. A girl of
twenty-two was hanged for receiving a piece of woollen stuff from the
man who had stolen it.

In 1789 a woman was burnt at the stake for coining. People still living
have seen the skeletons of pirates and highwaymen hanging in chains. I
have heard that the children of the Bluecoat School at Hertford were
always taken to see the executions there; and as late as 1820 the dead
bodies of the Cato Street conspirators were decapitated in front of
Newgate, and the Westminster boys had a special holiday to enable them
to see the sight, which was thus described by an eye-witness, the late
Lord de Ros: "The executioner and his assistant cut down one of the
corpses from the gallows, and placed it in the coffin, but with the head
hanging over on the block. The man with the knife instantly severed the
head from the body, and the executioner, receiving it in his hands, held
it up, saying in a loud voice, 'This is the head of a traitor.' He then
dropped it into the coffin, which being removed, another was brought
forward, and they proceeded to cut down the next body and to go through
the same ghastly operation. It was observed that the mob, which was very
large, gazed in silence at the hanging of the conspirators, and showed
not the least sympathy; but when each head as cut off and held up, a
loud and deep groan of horror burst from all sides, which was not soon
forgotten by those who heard it."

Duelling was the recognized mode of settling all personal disputes, and
no attempt was made to enforce the law which, theoretically, treated the
killing of a man in a duel as wilful murder; but, on the other hand,
debt was punished with what often was imprisonment for life. A woman
died in the County Jail at Exeter after forty-five years' incarceration
for a debt of L19. Crime was rampant. Daring burglaries, accompanied by
every circumstance of violence, took place nightly. Highwaymen infested
the suburban roads, and not seldom plied their calling in the capital
itself. The iron post at the end of the narrow footway between the
gardens of Devonshire House and Lansdowne House is said by tradition to
have been placed there after a Knight of the Road had eluded the
officers of justice by galloping down the stone steps and along the
flagged path. Sir Hamilton Seymour (1797-1880) was in his father's
carriage when it was "stopped" by a highwayman in Upper Brook Street.
Young gentlemen of broken fortunes, and tradesmen whose business had
grown slack, swelled the ranks of these desperadoes. It was even said
that an Irish prelate--Dr. Twysden, Bishop of Raphoe--whose incurable
love of adventure had drawn him to "the road," received the penalty of
his uncanonical diversion in the shape of a bullet from a traveller whom
he had stopped on Hounslow Heath. The Lord Mayor was made to stand and
deliver on Turnham Green. Stars and "Georges" were snipped off
ambassadors and peers as they entered St. James's Palace.

It is superfluous to multiply illustrations. Enough has been said to
show that the circumscription of aristocratic privilege and the
diffusion of material luxury did not precipitate the millennium. Social
Equalization was not synonymous with Social Amelioration. Some
improvement, indeed, in the tone and habit of society occurred at the
turn of the century; but it was little more than a beginning. I proceed
to trace its development, and to indicate its source.


[9] I have since been told that this happy saying was borrowed from Sir
Francis Doyle.



Mr. Lecky justly remarks that "it is difficult to measure the change
which must have passed over the public mind since the days when the
lunatics in Bedlam were constantly spoken of as one of the sights of
London; when the maintenance of the African slave-trade was a foremost
object of English commercial policy; when men and even women were
publicly whipped through the streets when skulls lined the top of Temple
Bar and rotting corpses hung on gibbets along the Edgware Road; when
persons exposed in the pillory not unfrequently died through the
ill-usage of the mob; and when the procession every six weeks of
condemned criminals to Tyburn was one of the great festivals of London."

Difficult, indeed, it is to measure so great a change, and it is not
wholly easy to ascertain with precision its various and concurrent
causes, and to attribute to each its proper potency. But we shall
certainly not be wrong if, among those causes, we assign a prominent
place to the Evangelical revival of religion. It would be a mistake to
claim for the Evangelical movement the whole credit of our social reform
and philanthropic work. Even in the darkest times of spiritual torpor
and general profligacy England could show a creditable amount of
practical benevolence. The public charities of London were large and
excellent. The first Foundling Hospital was established in 1739; the
first Magdalen Hospital in 1769. In 1795 it was estimated that the
annual expenditure on charity-schools, asylums, hospitals, and similar
institutions in London was L750,000.

Mr. Lecky, whose study of these social phenomena is exhaustive, imagines
that the habit of unostentatious charity, which seems indigenous to
England, was powerfully stimulated by the philosophy of Shaftesbury and
Voltaire, by Rousseau's sentiment and Fielding's fiction. This theory
may have something to say for itself, and indeed it is antecedently
plausible; but I can hardly believe that purely literary influences
counted for so very much in the sphere of practice. I doubt if any
considerable number of Englishmen were effectively swayed by that
humanitarian philosophy of France which in the actions of its maturity
so awfully belied the promise of its youth. We are, I think, on surer
ground when, admitting a national bias towards material benevolence, and
not denying some stimulus from literature and philosophy, we assign the
main credit of our social regeneration to the Evangelical revival.

The life of John Wesley, practically coterminous with the eighteenth
century, witnessed both the lowest point of our moral degradation and
also the earliest promise of our moral restoration. He cannot, indeed,
be reckoned the founder of the Evangelical school; that title belongs
rather to George Whitefield. But his influence, combined with that of
his brother Charles, acting on such men as Newton and Cecil and Venn and
Scott of Aston Sandford; on Selina Lady Huntingdon and Mrs. Hannah More;
on Howard and Clarkson and William Wilberforce; made a deep mark on the
Established Church, gave new and permanent life to English
Nonconformity, and sensibly affected the character and aspect of secular

Wesley himself had received the governing impulse of his life from Law's
_Serious Call_ and _Christian Perfection_, and he had been a member of
one of those religious societies (or guilds, as they would now be
called) with which the piety of Bishop Beveridge and Dr. Horneck had
enriched the Church of England. These societies were, of course,
distinctly Anglican in origin and character, and were stamped with the
High Church theology. They constituted, so to say, a church within the
Church, and, though they raised the level of personal piety among their
members to a very high point, they did not widely affect the general
tone and character of national religion. The Evangelical leaders,
relying on less exclusively ecclesiastical methods, diffused their
influence over a much wider area, and, under the impulse of their
teaching, drunkenness, indecency, and profanity were sensibly abated.
The reaction from the rampant wickedness of the eighteenth century drove
men into strict and even puritanical courses.

Lord Robert Seymour wrote on the 20th of March, 1788: "Tho' Good Friday,
Mrs. Sawbridge has an assembly this evening; tells her invited Friends
they really are only to play for a Watch which she has had some time on
her Hands and wishes to dispose of."

"'Really, I declare 'pon my honor it's true' (said Ly. Bridget Talmash
to the Dutchess of Bolton) 'that a great many People now go to Chapel. I
saw a vaste number of Carriages at Portman Chapel last Sunday.' The Dut.
told her she always went to Chapel on Sunday, and in the country read
Prayers in the Hall to her Family."

But where the Evangelical influence reached, it brought a marked
abstention from such forms of recreation as dancing, card-playing, and
the drama. Sunday was observed with a Judaical rigour. A more frequent
attendance on public worship was accompanied by the revival of family
prayers and grace before meat. Manuals of private devotion were
multiplied. Religious literature of all kinds was published in great
quantity. A higher standard of morals was generally professed. Marriage
was gradually restored in public estimation to its proper place, not
merely as a civil bond or social festival, but as a chief solemnity of
the Christian religion.

There was no more significant sign of the times than this alteration. In
the eighteenth century some of the gravest of our social offences had
clustered round the institution of marriage, which was almost as much
dishonoured in the observance as in the breach. In the first half of
that century the irregular and clandestine weddings, celebrated without
banns or licence in the Fleet Prison, had been one of the crying
scandals of the middle and lower classes; and in the second half, the
nocturnal flittings to Gretna Green of young couples who could afford
such a Pilgrimage of Passion lowered the whole conception of marriage.
It was through the elopement of Miss Child--heiress of the opulent
banker at Temple Bar--from her father's house in Berkeley Square (now
Lord Rosebery's) that the ownership of the great banking business passed
eventually to the present Lord Jersey; and the annals of almost every
aristocratic family contain the record of similar escapades.

The Evangelical movement, not content with permeating England, sought to
expand itself all over the Empire. The Society for the Propagation of
the Gospel and the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge had been
essentially Anglican institutions; and similar societies, but less
ecclesiastical in character, now sprang up in great numbers. The London
Missionary Society was founded in 1795, the Church Missionary Society in
1799, the Religious Tract Society in the same year, and the British and
Foreign Bible Society three years later. All these were distinctly
creations of the Evangelical movement, as were also the Societies for
the Reformation of Manners and for the Better Observance of the Lord's
Day. Religious education found in the Evangelical party its most active
friends. The Sunday School Society was founded in 1785. Two years later
it was educating two hundred thousand children. Its most earnest
champions were Rowland Hill and Mrs. Hannah More; but it is worthy of
note that this excellent lady, justly honoured as a pioneer of
elementary education, confined her curriculum to the Bible and the
Catechism, and "such coarse works as may fit the children for servants.
_I allow of no writing for the poor_."

To the Society of Friends--a body not historically or theologically
Evangelical--belongs the credit of having first awoke, and tried to
rouse others, to a sense of the horrors and iniquities involved in the
slave-trade; but the adhesion of William Wilberforce and his friends at
Clapham identified the movement for emancipation with the Evangelical
party. Never were the enthusiasm, the activity, the uncompromising
devotion to principle which marked the Evangelicals turned to better
account. Their very narrowness gave intensity and concentration to their
work, and their victory, though deferred, was complete. It has been
truly said that when the English nation had been thoroughly convinced
that slavery was a curse which must be got rid of at any cost, we
cheerfully paid down as the price of its abolition twenty millions in
cash, and threw the prosperity of our West Indian colonies into the
bargain. Yet we only spent on it one-tenth of what it cost us to lose
America, and one-fiftieth of what we spent in avenging the execution of
Louis XVI.

In spite of all these conspicuous and beneficent advances in the
direction of humanity, a great deal of severity, and what appears to us
brutality, remained embedded in our social system. I have spoken in
previous chapters of the methods of discipline enforced in the services,
in jails, in poorhouses, and in schools.[10] A very similar spirit
prevailed even in the home. Children were shut up in dark closets,
starved, and flogged. Lord Shaftesbury's father used to knock him down,
and recommended his tutor at Harrow to do the same. Archdeacon Denison
describes in his autobiography how he and his brothers were thrashed by
their tutor when they were youths of sixteen and had left Eton. _The
Fairchild Family_--that quaint picture of Evangelical life and
manners--depicts a religious father as punishing his quarrelsome
children by taking them to see a murderer hanging in chains, and as
chastising every peccadillo of infancy with a severity which makes one
long to flog Mr. Fairchild.

But still, in spite of all these checks and drawbacks and evil
survivals, the tide of humanitarianism flowed on, and gradually altered
the aspect of English life. The bloody Penal Code was mitigated. Prisons
and poorhouses were reformed. The discipline of school and of home was
tempered by the infusion of mercy and reason into the iron regimen of
terror. And this general diminution of brutality was not the only form
of social amelioration. It was accompanied by a gradual but perceptible
increase in decency, refinement, and material prosperity. Splendour
diminished, and luxury remained the monopoly of the rich; but
comfort--that peculiarly English treasure--was more generally diffused.
In that diffusion the Evangelicals had their full share. Thackeray's
admirable description of Mrs. Newcome's villa is drawn from the life:
"In Egypt itself there were not more savoury fleshpots than those at
Clapham. Her mansion was long the resort of the most favoured among the
religious world. The most eloquent expounders, the most gifted
missionaries, the most interesting converts from foreign islands were to
be found at her sumptuous table, spread with the produce of her
magnificent gardens ... a great, shining, mahogany table, covered with
grapes, pineapples, plum-cake, port wine, and Madeira, and surrounded
by stout men in black, with baggy white neckcloths, who took little
Tommy on their knees and questioned him as to his right understanding of
the place whither naughty boys were bound."

Again, in his paper on _Dinners_ the same great master of a fascinating
subject speaks the words of truth and soberness when he says: "I don't
know when I have been better entertained, as far as creature comforts
go, than by men of very Low Church principles; and one of the very best
repasts that ever I saw in my life was at Darlington, given by a
Quaker." This admirable tradition of material comfort allied with
Evangelical opinion extended into my own time. The characteristic
weakness of Mr. Stiggins has no place in my recollection; but Mr.
Chadband I have frequently met in Evangelical circles, both inside and
outside the Establishment. Debarred by the strictness of their
principles from such amusements as dancing, cards, and theatres, the
Evangelicals took their pleasure in eating and drinking. They abounded
in hospitality; and when they were not entertaining or being
entertained, occupied their evenings with systematic reading, which gave
their religious compositions a sound basis of general culture.
Austerity, gloom, and Pharisaism had no place among the better class of
Evangelicals. Wilberforce, pronounced by Madame de Stael to be the most
agreeable man in England, was of "a most gay and genial disposition;"
"lived in perpetual sunshine, and shed its radiance all around him."
Legh Richmond was "exceedingly good company." Robinson of Leicester was
"a capital conversationalist, very lively and bright." Alexander Knox
found that Mrs. Hannah More "far exceeded his expectations in pleasant
manners and interesting conversation."

The increasing taste for solid comfort and easy living which accompanied
the development of humanitarianism, and in which, as we have just seen,
the Evangelicals had their full share, was evidenced to the eye by the
changes in domestic architecture. There was less pretension in exteriors
and elevations, but more regard to convenience and propriety within. The
space was not all sacrificed to reception-rooms. Bedrooms were
multiplied and enlarged; and fireplaces were introduced into every room,
transforming the arctic "powdering-closet" into a habitable
dressing-room. The diminution of the Window-Tax made light and
ventilation possible. Personal cleanliness became fashionable, and the
means of attaining it were cultivated. The whole art or science of
domestic sanitation--rudimentary enough in its beginnings--belongs to
the nineteenth century. The system which went before it was too
primitively abominable to bear description. Sir Robert Rawlinson, the
sanitary expert, who was called in to inspect Windsor Castle after the
Prince Consort's death, reported that, within the Queen's reign,
"cesspools full of putrid refuse and drains of the worst description
existed beneath the basements.... Twenty of these cesspools were removed
from the upper ward, and twenty-eight from the middle and lower
wards.... Means of ventilation by windows in Windsor Castle were very
defective. Even in the royal apartments the upper portions of the
windows were fixed. Lower casements alone could be opened, so that by
far the largest amount of air-spaces in the rooms contained vitiated
air, comparatively stagnant." When this was the condition of royal
abodes, no wonder that the typhoid-germ, like Solomon's spider, "took
hold with her hands, and was in kings' palaces." And well might Sir
George Trevelyan, in his ardent youth, exclaim:--

"We much revere our sires; they were a famous race of men.
For every glass of port we drink, they nothing thought of ten.
They lived above the foulest drains, they breathed the closest air,
They had their yearly twinge of gout, but little seemed to care.
But, though they burned their coals at home, nor fetched their ice
from Wenham,
They played the man before Quebec and stormed the lines at Blenheim.
When sailors lived on mouldy bread and lumps of rusty pork,
No Frenchman dared to show his nose between the Downs and Cork.
But now that Jack gets beef and greens and next his skin wears flannel,
The _Standard_ says we've not a ship in plight to hold the Channel."

So much for Social Amelioration.


[10] For a lively description of Andover School in the eighteenth
century, see the _Memoirs of "Orator Hunt_.'"



I now approach the political condition at the turn of the century, and
that was to a great extent the product of the French Revolution. Some
historians, indeed, when dealing with that inexhaustible theme, have
wrought cause and effect into a circular chain, and have reckoned among
the circumstances which prepared the way for the French Revolution the
fact that Voltaire in his youth spent three years in England, and
mastered the philosophy of Bacon, Newton, and Locke, the Deism of the
English Freethinkers, and the English theory of political liberty. That
these doctrines, recommended by Voltaire's mordant genius and matchless
style, and circulating in a community prepared by tyranny to receive
them, acted as a powerful solvent on the intellectual basis of French
society, is indeed likely enough. But to pursue the theme would carry us
too far back into the eighteenth century. In dealing with the
recollections of persons whom one's self has known we must dismiss from
view the causes of the French Revolution. Our business is with its
effect on political thought and action in England.

About half way through the nineteenth century it became the fashion to
make out that the effect of the Revolution on England had been
exaggerated. Satirists made fun of our traditional Gallophobia. In that
admirable skit on philosophical history, the introduction to the _Book
of Snobs_, Thackeray first illustrates his theme by a reference to the
French Revolution, and then adds (in sarcastic brackets)--"Which the
reader will be pleased to have introduced so early." Lord Beaconsfield,
quizzing John Wilson Croker in _Coningsby_, says: "He bored his audience
with too much history, especially the French Revolution, which he
fancied was his forte, so that the people at last, whenever he made any
allusion to the subject, were almost as much terrified as if they had
seen the guillotine." In spite of these gibes, historians have of late
years returned to the earlier and truer view, and have deliberately
reaffirmed the tremendous effect of the Revolution on English politics.
The philosophical Mr. Lecky says that it influenced English history in
the later years of the eighteenth century more powerfully than any other
event; that it gave a completely new direction to the statesmanship of
Pitt; that it instantaneously shattered, and rendered ineffectual for a
whole generation, one of the two great parties in the State; and that it
determined for a like period the character and complexion of our foreign

All contemporary Europe--all subsequent time--quivered with the shock
and sickened at the carnage; but I have gathered that it was not till
the capture of the Bastille that the events which were taking place in
France attracted any general or lively interest in England. The strifes
of rival politicians, the illness of George III., and the consequent
questions as to the Regency, engrossed the public mind, and what little
interest was felt in foreign affairs was directed much more to the
possible designs of Russia than to the actual condition of France. The
capture of the Bastille, however, was an event so startling and so
dramatic that it instantly arrested the public attention of England, and
the events which immediately followed in rapid and striking succession
raised interest into excitement, and excitement into passion. Men who
had been accustomed from their childhood to regard the Monarchy of
France as the type of a splendid, powerful, and enduring polity now saw
a National Army constituted in complete independence of the Crown; a
Representative Body assuming absolute power and denying the King's right
to dissolve; the summary abrogation of the whole feudal system, which a
year before had seemed endowed with perpetual vigour; an insurrection of
the peasantry against their territorial tyrants, accompanied by every
horror of pillage, arson, and bloodshed; the beautiful and stately Queen
flying, half naked, for her life, amid the slaughter of her sentinels
and courtiers; and the King himself virtually a prisoner in the very
Court which, up to that moment, had seemed the ark and sanctuary of
absolute government. All over England these events produced their
immediate and natural effect. Enemies of religious establishments took
courage from the downfall of ecclesiastical institutions. Enemies of
monarchy rejoiced in the formal and public degradation of a monarch.
Those who had long been conscientiously working for Parliamentary reform
saw with glee their principles expressed in the most uncompromising
terms in the French Declaration of Rights, and practically applied in
the constitution of the Sovereign Body of France.

These convinced and constitutional reformers found new and strange
allies. Serious advocates of Republican institutions, mere lovers of
change and excitement, secret sympathizers with lawlessness and
violence, sedentary theorists, reckless adventurers, and local
busybodies associated themselves in the endeavour to popularize the
French Revolution in England and to imbue the English mind with
congenial sentiments. The movement had leaders of greater mark. The Duke
of Norfolk and the Duke of Richmond, Lord Lansdowne and Lord Stanhope,
held language about the Sovereignty of the People such as filled the
reverent and orderly mind of Burke with indignant astonishment. In Dr.
Priestley the revolutionary party had an eminent man of science and a
polemical writer of rare power. Dr. Price was a rhetorician whom any
cause would have gladly enlisted as its champion. The Revolution
Society, founded to commemorate the capture of the Bastille,
corresponded with the leaders of the Revolution, and promised its
alliance in a revolutionary compact. And, to add a touch of comedy to
these more serious demonstrations, the young Duke of Bedford and other
leaders of fashion discarded hair-powder, and wore their hair cut short
in what was understood to be the Republican mode of Paris.

Amidst all this hurly-burly Pitt maintained a stately and cautious
reserve. Probably he foresaw his opportunity in the inevitable
disruption of his opponents; and if so, his foresight was soon realized
by events. On the capture of the Bastille, Fox exclaimed: "How much the
greatest event it is that ever happened in the world! and how much the
best!" At the same time Burke was writing to an intimate friend: "The
old Parisian ferocity has broken out in a shocking manner. It is true
that this may be no more than a sudden explosion. If so, no indication
can be taken from it; but if it should be character rather than
accident, then that people are not fit for liberty, and must have a
strong hand like that of their former masters to coerce them." This
contrast between the judgments of the 10 great Whigs was continuously
and rapidly heightened. Fox threw himself into the revolutionary cause
with all the ardour which he had displayed on behalf of American
independence. Burke opposed with characteristic vehemence the French
attempt to build up a theoretical Constitution on the ruins of
religion, history, and authority; and any fresh act of cruelty or
oppression which accompanied the process stirred in him that tremendous
indignation against violence and injustice of which Warren Hastings had
learned by stern experience the intensity and the volume. The
_Reflections on the French Revolution_ and the _Appeal from the New to
the Old Whigs_ expressed in the most splendid English which was ever
written the dire apprehensions that darkened their author's receptive
and impassioned mind. "A voice like the Apocalypse sounded over England,
and even echoed in all the Courts of Europe. Burke poured the vials of
his hoarded vengeance into the agitated heart of Christendom, and
stimulated the panic of a world by the wild pictures of his inspired

Meanwhile the Whig party was rent in twain. The Duke of Portland, Lord
Fitzwilliam, the Duke of Devonshire, Lord John Cavendish, and Sir George
Elliot adhered to Burke. Fox as stoutly opposed him, and was reinforced
by Sheridan, Francis, Erskine, and Grey. The pathetic issue of the
dispute, in Burke's formal repudiation of Fox's friendship, has taken
its place among those historic Partings of Friends which have modified
the course of human society. As far as can now be judged, the bulk of
the country was with Burke, and the execution of Louis XVI. was followed
by an astonishing outbreak of popular feeling. The theatres were closed.
The whole population wore mourning. The streets rang with the cry "War
with France!" The very pulpits re-echoed the summons. Fox himself was
constrained to declare to the electors of Westminster that there was no
one outside France who did not consider this sad catastrophe "as a most
revolting act of cruelty and injustice."

But it was too late. The horror and indignation of England were not to
be allayed by soothing words of decorous sympathy from men who had
applauded the earlier stages of the tragedy, though they wept at its
culmination. The warlike spirit of the race was aroused, and it spoke in
the cry, "No peace with the regicides!" Pitt clearly discerned the
feeling of the country, and promptly gave effect to it. He dismissed
Chauvelin, who informally represented the Revolutionary Government in
London, and he demanded from Parliament an immediate augmentation of the

On the 20th of January, 1793, France declared war against England. The
great struggle had begun, and that declaration was a new starting-point
in the political history of England. English parties entered into new
combinations. English politics assumed a new complexion. Pitt's imperial
mind maintained its ascendency, but the drift of his policy was entirely
changed. All the schemes of Parliamentary, financial, and commercial
reform in which he had been immersed yielded place to the stern
expedients of a Minister fighting for his life against revolution abroad
and sedition at home. For though, as I said just now, popular sentiment
was stirred by the King's execution into vehement hostility to France,
still the progress of the war was attended by domestic consequences
which considerably modified this sentiment. Hostility gave way to
passive acquiescence, and acquiescence to active sympathy.

Among the causes which produced this change were the immense increase of
national burdens; the sudden agglomeration of a lawless population in
the manufacturing towns which the war called into being; the growing
difficulties in Ireland, where revolutionary theories found ready
learners; the absolute abandonment of all attempts at social and
political improvement; the dogged determination of those in authority to
remedy no grievance however patent, and to correct no abuse however

The wise and temperate reforms for which the times were ripe, and which
the civil genius of Pitt pre-eminently qualified him to effect, were not
only suspended but finally abandoned under the influence of an insane
reaction. The besotted resistance to all change stimulated the desire
for it. Physical distress co-operated with political discontent to
produce a state of popular disaffection such as the whole preceding
century had never seen. The severest measures of coercion and repression
only, and scarcely, restrained the populace from open and desperate
insurrection, and thirty years of this experience brought England to the
verge of a civil catastrophe.

Patriotism was lost in partisanship. Political faction ran to an
incredible excess. The whole community was divided into two hostile
camps. Broadly speaking, the cause of France was espoused, with
different degrees of fervour, by all lovers of civil and religious
freedom. To the Whigs the humiliation of Pitt was a more cherished
object than the defeat of Napoleon. Fox wrote to a friend: "The triumph
of the French Government over the English does, in fact, afford me a
degree of pleasure which it is very difficult to disguise;" and I have
gathered that this was the prevalent temper of Whiggery during the long
and desperate struggle with Republican and Imperial France. What Byron
called "The crowning carnage, Waterloo," brought no abatement of
political rancour. The question of France, indeed, was eliminated from
the contest, but its elimination enabled English Liberals to concentrate
their hostility on the Tory Government without incurring the reproach of
unpatriotic sympathy with the enemies of England.

In the great fight between Tory and Whig, Government and Opposition,
Authority and Freedom, there was no quarter. Neither age nor sex was
spared. No department of national life was untouched by the fury of the
contest. The Royal Family was divided. The Duke of Cumberland was one of
the most dogged and unscrupulous leaders of the Tory party; the Duke of
Sussex toasted the memory of Charles James Fox, and at a public dinner
joined in singing "The Trumpet of Liberty," of which the chorus ran--

"Fall, tyrants, fall!
These are the days of liberty;
Fall, tyrants, fall!"

The Established Church was on the side of authority; the Dissenters
stood for freedom. "Our opponents," said Lord John Russell, in one of
his earliest speeches--"our opponents deafen us with their cry of
'Church and King.' Shall I tell you what they mean by it? They mean a
Church without the Gospel and a King above the law." An old Radical
electioneer, describing the activity of the country clergy on the Tory
side, said: "In every village we had the Black Recruiting-Sergeant
against us." Even within sacred walls the echoes of the fight were
heard. The State Holy-days--Gunpowder Treason, Charles the Martyr, the
Restoration and the Accession--gave suitable occasion for sermons of the
most polemical vehemence. Even the two Collects for the King at the
beginning of the Communion Service were regarded as respectively Tory
and Whig. The first, with its bold assertion of the Divine Right of
Sovereignty, was that which commended itself to every loyal clergyman on
his promotion; and unfavourable conclusions were drawn with regard to
the civil sentiments of the man who preferred the colourless
alternative. As in the Church, so in our educational system. Oxford,
with its Caroline and Jacobite traditions, was the Tory University;
Cambridge, the nursing mother of Whigs; Eton was supposed to cherish a
sentiment of romantic affection for the Stuarts; Harrow was profoundly
Hanoverian. Even the drama was involved in political antipathies, and
the most enthusiastic adherents of Kean and Kemble were found
respectively among the leaders of Whig and Tory Society.

The vigour, heartiness, and sincerity of this political hatred put to
shame the more tepid convictions of our degenerate days. The first Earl
of Leicester, better known as "Coke of Norfolk," told my father that
when he was a child his grandfather took him on his knee and said, "Now,
remember, Tom, as long as you live, never trust a Tory;" and he used to
say, "I never have, and, by George, I never will." A little girl of
Whig descent, accustomed from her cradle to hear language of this sort,
asked her mother, "Mamma, are Tories born wicked, or do they grow wicked
afterwards?" and her mother judiciously replied, "They are born wicked,
and grow worse." I well remember in my youth an eccentric maiden
lady--Miss Harriet Fanny Cuyler--who had spent a long and interesting
life in the innermost circles of aristocratic Whiggery; and she always
refused to enter a four-wheel cab until she had extorted from the driver
his personal assurance that he never had cases of infectious disease in
his cab, that he was not a Puseyite, and was a Whig.

I am bound to say that this vehement prejudice was not unnatural in a
generation that remembered, either personally or by immediate tradition,
the iron coercion which Pitt exercised in his later days, and which his
successors continued. The barbarous executions for high treason remain a
blot on the fair fame of the nineteenth century. Scarcely less horrible
were the trials for sedition, which sent an English clergyman to
transportation for life because he had signed a petition in favour of
Parliamentary reform.

"The good old Code, like Argus, had a hundred watchful eyes,
And each old English peasant had his good old English spies,
To tempt his starving discontent with good old English lies,
Then call the British yeomanry to stop his peevish cries."

At Woburn, a market town forty miles from London, under the very shadow
of a great Whig house, no political meeting could be held for fear of
Pitt's spies, who dropped down from London by the night coach and
returned to lay information against popular speakers; and when the
politicians of the place desired to express their sentiments, they had
to repair secretly to an adjacent village off the coach road, where they
were harangued under cover of night by the young sons of the Duke of

The ferocity, the venality, the profligate expenditure, the delirious
excitement of contested elections have made an indelible mark on our
political history. In 1780 King George III. personally canvassed the
Borough of Windsor against the Whig candidate, Admiral Keppel, and
propitiated a silk-mercer by calling at his shop and saying, "The Queen
wants a gown--wants a gown. No Keppel. No Keppel." It is pleasant to
reflect that the friends of freedom were not an inch behind the
upholders of tyranny in the vigour and adroitness of their
electioneering methods. The contest for the City of Westminster in 1788
is thus described in the manuscript diary of Lord Robert Seymour:--

"The Riotts of the Westr. Election are carried such lengths the Military
obliged to be called into the assistance of Ld. Hood's party. Several
Persons have been killed by Ld. J. Townsend's Butchers who cleave them
to the Ground with their Cleavers--Mr. Fox very narrowly escaped being
killed by a Bayonet wch. w'd certainly have been fatal had not a poor
Black saved him fm. the blow. Mr. Macnamara's Life is despaired of--&
several others have died in the difft. Hospitals. Next Thursday decides
the business.

"July 25.--Lord John Townsend likely to get the Election--what has
chiefly contributed to Ld. Hood's losing it is that Mr. Pulteney is his
Friend--Mr. P. can command 1,500 Votes--& as he is universally disliked
by his Tenants they are unanimous in voting against him--wch. for Ld. H.
proves a very unfortunate circumstance. The Duke of Bedford sent L10,000
towards the Expenses of the Opposition.

"It is thought that Lord Hood will not attempt a Scrutiny. One of Ld.
Hood's votes was discovered to be a carrot-scraper in St. James's Market
who sleeps in a little Kennel about the Size of a Hen Coup.

"Augt. 5th--The Election decided in favour of Ld. J.T., who was
chaired--and attend'd by a Procession of a mile in length. On his Head
was a crown of Laurel. C. Fox follow'd him in a Landau & 6 Horses
cover'd in Favors & Lawrels. The appearance this Procession made was
equal in splendor to the public Entry of an Ambassador."

A by-election was impending in Yorkshire, and Pitt, paying a social
visit to the famous Mrs. B.--one of the Whig Queens of the West
Riding--said, banteringly, "Well, the election is all right for us. Ten
thousand guineas for the use of our side go down to Yorkshire to-night
by a sure hand." "The devil they do!" responded Mrs. B., and that night
the bearer of the precious burden was stopped by a highwayman on the
Great North Road, and the ten thousand guineas were used to procure the
return of the Whig candidate. The electioneering methods, less
adventurous but not more scrupulous, of a rather later day have been
depicted in _Pickwick_, and _Coningsby_, and _My Novel_, and
_Middlemarch_, with all the suggestive fun of a painting by Hogarth.

And so, with startling incidents and culpable expedients and varying
fortunes, the great struggle for political freedom was conducted through
the first thirty years of the nineteenth century, and it has been my
interesting fortune to know some of the toughest of the combatants both
among the leaders and in the rank-and-file. And from all of them
alike--and not only from them, but from all who remembered the time--I
have gathered the impression that all through their earlier life the
hidden fires of revolution were smouldering under English society, and
that again and again an actual outbreak was only averted by some happy
stroke of fortune. At the Election of 1868 an old labourer in the
agricultural Borough of Woodstock told a Liberal canvasser from Oxford
that in his youth arms had been stored in his father's cottage so as to
be in readiness for the outbreak which was to take place if Lord Grey's
Reform Bill was finally defeated. A Whig nobleman, of great experience
and calm judgment, told me that if Princess Victoria had died before
William IV., and thereby Ernest Duke of Cumberland had succeeded to the
Throne, no earthly power could have averted a revolution. "I have no
hesitation in saying," I heard Mr. Gladstone say, "that if the repeal of
the Corn Laws had been defeated, or even retarded, we should have had a
revolution." Charles Kingsley and his fellow-workers for Social Reform
expected a revolution in April 1848.

But, after all, these testimonies belong to the region of conjecture.
Let me close this chapter by a narrative of fact, derived from the late
Lord de Ros, who was an eye-witness of the events which he narrated.
Arthur Thistlewood (whose execution for the "Cato Street Conspiracy" I
have described in a previous chapter) was a young Englishman who had
been in Paris in the time of Robespierre's ascendency, and had there
imbibed revolutionary sentiments. He served for a short time as an
officer in the English Army, and after quitting the service he made
himself notorious by trying to organize a political riot in London, for
which he was tried and acquitted. He subsequently collected round him a
secret society of disaffected citizens, and proceeded to arrange a plan
by which he hoped to paralyze Government and establish a Reign of Terror
in London.

One evening, in the winter of 1819-20, a full-dress ball was given by
the Spanish Ambassador in Portland Place, and was attended by the Prince
Regent, the Royal Dukes, the Duke of Wellington, the Ministers of State,
and the leaders of fashion and society. "About one o'clock, just before
supper, a sort of order was circulated among the junior officers to draw
towards the head of the stairs, though no one knew for what reason,
except that an unusual crowd had assembled in the street. The appearance
of Lavender and one or two well-known Bow Street officers in the
entrance-hall also gave rise to surmises of some impending riot. While
the officers were whispering to one another as to what was expected to
happen, a great noise was heard in the street, the crowd dispersed with
loud cries in all directions, and a squadron of the 2nd Life Guards
arrived with drawn swords at a gallop from their barracks (then situate
in King Street), and rapidly formed in front of the Ambassador's house.
Lavender and the Bow Street officers now withdrew; the officers who had
gathered about the stairhead were desired to return to the ballroom.

"The alarm, whatever it might have been, appeared to be over, and before
the company broke up the Life Guards had been withdrawn to their
barracks. Inside the Ambassador's house all had remained so quiet that
very few of the ladies present were aware till next day that anything
unusual had happened, but it became known after a short time that the
Duke of Wellington had received information of an intended attack upon
the house, which the precautions taken had probably prevented; and upon
the trial of Thistlewood and his gang (for the Cato Street Conspiracy)
it came out, among other evidence of the various wild schemes they had
formed, that Thistlewood had certainly entertained the project, at the
time of this ball, to attack the Spanish Ambassador's house, and destroy
the Regent and other Royal personages, as well as the Ministers, who
were sure to be, most of them, present on the occasion."

For details of the Cato Street Conspiracy the curious reader is referred
to the _Annual Register_ for 1820, and it is strange to reflect that
these explosions of revolutionary rage occurred well within the
recollection of people now[11] living, among whom I hope it is not
invidious to mention Mr. Charles Villiers,[12] Lady Mary Saurin,[13] and
Lady Glentworth.[14]


[11] 1897.

[12] The Right Hon. C.P. Villiers, M.P., 1802-98.

[13] (_nee_ Ryder), 1801-1900.

[14] Eve Maria, Viscountess Glentworth, 1803-19.



Closely connected with the subject of Politics, of which we were
speaking in the last chapter, is that of Parliamentary Oratory, and for
a right estimate of oratory personal impressions (such as those on which
I have relied) are peculiarly valuable. They serve both to correct and
to confirm. It is impossible to form from the perusal of a printed
speech anything but the vaguest and often the most erroneous notion of
the effect which it produced upon its hearers. But from the testimony of
contemporaries one can often gain the clue to what is otherwise
unintelligible. One learns what were the special attributes of bearing,
voice, or gesture, the circumstances of delivery, or even the antecedent
conditions of character and reputation, which perhaps doomed some
magnificent peroration to ludicrous failure, or, on the contrary,
"ordained strength" out of stammering lips and disjointed sentences.
Testimony of this kind the circumstances of my life have given me in
great abundance. My chain of tradition links me to the days of the

Almost all the old people whose opinions and experience I have recorded
were connected, either personally or through their nearest relations,
with one or other of the Houses of Parliament. Not a few of them were
conspicuous actors on the stage of political life. Lord Robert Seymour,
from whose diary I have quoted, died in 1831, after a long life spent
in the House of Commons, which he entered in 1771, and of which for
twenty-three years he was a fellow-member with Edmund Burke. Let me
linger for a moment on that illustrious name.

In originality, erudition, and accomplishments Burke had no rival among
Parliamentary speakers. His prose is, as we read it now, the most
fascinating, the most musical, in the English language. It bears on
every page the divine lineaments of genius. Yet an orator requires
something more than mere force of words. He must feel, while he speaks,
the pulse of his audience, and instinctively regulate every sentence by
reference to their feelings. All contemporary evidence shows that in
this kind of oratorical tact Burke was eminently deficient. His
nickname, "The Dinner-bell of the House of Commons," speaks for his
effect on the mind of the average M.P. "In vain," said: Moore, "did
Burke's genius put forth its superb plumage, glittering all over with
the hundred eyes of fancy. The gait of the bird was heavy and awkward,
and its voice seemed rather to scare than attract."

Macaulay has done full justice to the extraordinary blaze of brilliancy
which on supreme occasions threw these minor defects into the shade.
Even now the old oak rafters of Westminster Hall seem to echo that
superlative peroration which taught Mrs. Siddons a higher flight of
tragedy than her own, and made the accused proconsul feel himself for
the moment the guiltiest of men. Mr. Gladstone declared that Burke was
directly responsible for the war with France, for "Pitt could not have
resisted him." For the more refined, the more cultivated, the more
speculative intellects he had--and has--an almost supernatural charm.
His style is without any exception the richest, the most picturesque,
the most inspired and inspiring in the language. In its glories and its
terrors it resembles the Apocalypse. Mr. Morley, in the most striking of
all his critical essays, has truly said that the natural ardour which
impelled Burke to clothe his judgments in glowing and exaggerated
phrases is one secret of his power over us, because it kindles in those
who are capable of that generous infection a respondent interest and
sympathy. "He has the sacred gift of inspiring men to care for high
things, and to make their lives at once rich and austere. Such a gift is
rare indeed. We feel no emotion of revolt when Mackintosh speaks of
Shakespeare and Burke in the same breath as being, both of them, above
mere talent. We do not dissent when Macaulay, after reading Burke's
works over again, exclaims: 'How admirable! The greatest man since

No sane critic would dream of comparing the genius of Pitt with that of
Burke. Yet where Burke failed Pitt succeeded. Burke's speeches, indeed,
are a part of our national literature; Pitt was, in spite of grave and
undeniable faults, the greatest Minister that ever governed England.
Foremost among the gifts by which he acquired his supreme ascendency
must be placed his power of parliamentary speaking. He was not, as his
father was, an orator in that highest sense of oratory which implies
something of inspiration, of genius, of passionate and poetic rapture;
but he was a public speaker of extraordinary merit. He had while still a
youth what Coleridge aptly termed "a premature and unnatural dexterity
in the combination of words," and this developed into "a power of
pouring forth with endless facility perfectly modulated sentences of
perfectly chosen language, which as far surpassed the reach of a normal
intellect as the feats of an acrobat exceed the capacities of a normal
body." It was eloquence particularly well calculated to sway a popular
assembly which yet had none of the characteristics of a mob. A sonorous
voice; a figure and bearing which, though stiff and ungainly, were
singularly dignified; an inexhaustible copiousness of grandiloquent
phrase; a peculiar vein of sarcasm which froze like ice and cut like
steel--these were some of the characteristics of the oratory which from
1782 to 1806 at once awed and fascinated the House of Commons.

"I never want a word, but Mr. Pitt always has at command the right
word." This was the generous tribute of Pitt's most eminent rival,
Charles James Fox. Never were great opponents in public life more
exactly designed by Nature to be contrasts to one another. While every
tone of Pitt's voice and every muscle of his countenance expressed with
unmistakable distinctness the cold and stately composure of his
character, every particle of Fox's mental and physical formation bore
witness to his fiery and passionate enthusiasm. "What is that fat
gentleman in such a passion about?" was the artless query of the late
Lord Eversley, who, as Mr. Speaker Shaw-Lefevre, so long presided over
the House of Commons, and who as a child had been taken to the gallery
to hear Mr. Fox. While Pitt was the embodied representative of Order,
his rival was the Apostle and Evangelist of Liberty. If the master
passion of Pitt's mind was enthusiasm for his country, Fox was swayed by
the still nobler enthusiasm of Humanity. His style of oratory was the
exact reflex of his mind. He was unequalled in passionate argument, in
impromptu reply, in ready and spontaneous declamation. His style was
unstudied to a fault. Though he was so intimately acquainted with the
great models of classical antiquity, his oratory owed little to the
contact, and nothing to the formal arts of rhetoric; everything to
inborn genius and the greatness of the cause which he espoused. It would
be difficult to point to a single public question of his time on which
his voice did not sound with rousing effect, and whenever that voice was
heard it was on behalf of freedom, humanity, and the sacred brotherhood
of nations.

I pass on to the orator of whose masterpiece Fox said that "eloquent
indeed it was; so much so that all he had ever heard, all he had ever
read, dwindled into nothing, and vanished like vapour before the sun."
In sparkling brilliancy and pointed wit, in all the livelier graces of
declamation and delivery, Sheridan surpassed all his contemporaries.
When he concluded his speech on the charge against Warren Hastings of
plundering the Begums of Oude, the peers and strangers joined with the
House in a tumult of applause, and could not be restrained from clapping
their hands in ecstasy. The House adjourned in order to recover its
self-possession. Pitt declared that this speech surpassed all the
eloquence of ancient and modern times, and possessed everything that
genius or art could furnish to agitate or control the human mind. And
yet, while Sheridan's supreme efforts met with this startling success,
his deficiencies in statesmanship and character prevented him from
commanding that position in the House and in the Government which his
oratorical gift, if not thus handicapped, must have secured for its

As a speaker in his own sphere Lord Erskine was not inferior to the
greatest of his contemporaries. He excelled in fire, force, and passion.
Lord Brougham finely described "that noble figure every look of whose
countenance is expressive, every motion of whose form graceful; an eye
that sparkles and pierces and almost assures victory, while it 'speaks
audience ere the tongue.'" Yet, as is so often the case, the unequalled
advocate found himself in the House of Commons less conspicuously
successful than he had been at the Bar. The forensic manner of speech,
in which he was a head and shoulders higher than any of his legal
contemporaries, is, after all, distinct from parliamentary eloquence.

The same disqualification attached to the oratory of Lord Brougham,
whose speech at the bar of the House of Lords in defence of Queen
Caroline had made so deep an impression. His extraordinary fierceness
and even violence of nature pervaded his whole physical as well as
intellectual being. When he spoke he was on springs and quicksilver, and
poured forth sarcasm, invective, argument, and declamation in a
promiscuous and headlong flood. Yet all contemporary evidence shows that
his grandest efforts were dogged by the inevitable fate of the man who,
not content with excellence in one or two departments, aims at the
highest point in all. In reading his speeches, while one admires the
versatility, one is haunted by that fatal sense of superficiality which
gave rise to the saying that "if the Lord Chancellor only knew a little
law he would know something about everything."

Pitt died in 1806, but he lived long enough to hear the splendid
eloquence of Grattan, rich in imagination, metaphor, and epigram; and to
open the doors of the official hierarchy to George Canning. Trained by
Pitt, and in many gifts and graces his superior, Canning first displayed
his full greatness after the death of his illustrious master. For twenty
years he was the most accomplished debater in the House of Commons, and
yet he never succeeded in winning the full confidence of the nation,
nor, except in foreign affairs, in leaving his mark upon our national
policy. "The English are afraid of genius," and when genius is displayed
in the person of a social adventurer, however brilliant and delightful,
it is doubly alarming.

We can judge of Canning's speeches more exactly than of those of his
predecessors, for by the time that he had become famous the art of
parliamentary reporting had attained almost to its present perfection;
and there are none which more amply repay critical study. Second only to
Burke in the grandeur and richness of his imagery, he greatly excelled
him in readiness, in tact, and in those adventitious advantages which go
so far to make an orator. Mr. Gladstone remembered the "light and music"
of the eloquence with which he had fascinated Liverpool seventy years
before. Scarcely any one contributed so many beautiful thoughts and
happy phrases to the common stock of public speech. All contemporary
observers testify to the effect produced by the proud strength of his
declaration on foreign policy: "I called the New World into existence,
to redress the balance of the Old." And the language does not contain a
more magnificent or perfect image than that in which he likens a strong
nation at peace to a great man-of-war lying calm and motionless till the
moment for action comes, when "it puts forth all its beauty and its
bravely collects its scattered elements of strength, and awakens its
dormant thunder."

Lord John Russell entered the House of Commons in 1813, and left it in
1861. He used to say that in his early days there were a dozen men there
who could make a finer speech than any one now living; "but," he used to
add, "there were not another dozen who could understand what they were
talking about." I asked him who was, on the whole, the best speaker he
ever heard. He answered, "Lord Plunket," and subsequently gave as his
reason this--that while Plunket had his national Irish gifts of
fluency, brilliant imagination, and ready wit very highly developed,
they were all adjuncts to his strong, cool, inflexible argument. This,
it will be readily observed, is a very rare and a very striking
combination, and goes far to account for the transcendent success which
Plunket attained at the Bar and in the House, and alike in the Irish and
the English Parliament. Lord Brougham said of him that his eloquence was
a continuous flow of "clear statement, close reasoning, felicitous
illustration, all confined strictly to the subject in hand; every
portion, without any exception, furthering the process of conviction;"
and I do not know a more impressive passage of sombre passion than the
peroration of his first speech against the Act of Union: "For my own
part, I will resist it to the last gasp of my existence, and with the
last drop of my blood; and when I feel the hour of my dissolution
approaching, I will, like the father of Hannibal, take my children to
the altar and swear them to eternal hostility against the invaders of
their country's freedom."

Before the death of Pitt another great man had risen to eminence, though
the main achievement of his life associates him with 1832. Lord Grey was
distinguished by a stately and massive eloquence which exactly suited
his high purpose and earnest gravity of nature, while its effect was
enormously enhanced by his handsome presence and kingly bearing. Though
the leader of the popular cause, he was an aristocrat in nature, and
pre-eminently qualified for the great part which, during twenty years,
he played in that essentially aristocratic assembly--the unreformed
House of Commons. In a subsequent chapter I hope to say a little about
parliamentary orators of a rather more recent date; and here it may not
be uninteresting to compare the House of Commons as we have seen it and
known it, modified by successive extensions of the suffrage, with what
it was before Grey and Russell destroyed for ever its exclusive

The following description is taken from Lord Beaconsfield, who is
drawing a character derived in part from Sir Francis Burdett
(1770-1840), and in part from George Byng, who was M.P. for Middlesex
for fifty-six years, and died in 1847:--"He was the Father of the House,
though it was difficult to believe that from his appearance. He was
tall, and kept his distinguished figure; a handsome man with a musical
voice, and a countenance now benignant, though very bright and Once
haughty. He still retained the same fashion of costume in which he had
ridden up to Westminster more than half a century ago to support his
dear friend Charles Fox--real topboots and a blue coat and buff
waistcoat. He had a large estate, and had refused an earldom. Knowing
E., he came and sate by him one Jay in the House, and asked him,
good-naturedly, how he liked his new life. It is very different from
what it as when I was your age. Up to Easter we rarely had a regular
debate, never a party division; very few people came up indeed. But
there was a good deal of speaking on all subjects before dinner. We had
the privilege then of speaking on the presentation of petitions at any
length, and we seldom spoke on any other occasion. After Easter there
was always at least one great party fight. This was a mighty affair,
talked of for weeks before it came off, and then rarely an adjourned
debate. We were gentlemen, used to sit up late, and should have been
sitting up somewhere else had we not been in the House of Commons. After
this party fight the House for the rest of the session was a mere
club.... The House of Commons was very much like what the House of Lords
is now. You went home to dine, and then came back for an important
division.... Twenty years ago no man would think of coming down to the
House except in evening dress. I remember so late as Mr. Canning the
Minister always came down in silk stockings and pantaloons or
knee-breeches. All these things change, and quoting Virgil will be the
next thing to disappear. In the last--Parliament we often had Latin
quotations, but never from a member with a new constituency. I have
heard Greek quoted here, but that was long ago, and a great mistake. The
House was quite alarmed. Charles Fox used to say as to quotation, 'No
Greek; as much Latin as you like; and never French under any
circumstances. No English poet unless he has completed his century.'
These were, like some other good rules, the unwritten orders of the
House of Commons."



I concluded my last chapter with a quotation from Lord Beaconsfield,
describing parliamentary speaking as it was when he entered the House of
Commons in 1837. Of that particular form of speaking perhaps the
greatest master was Sir Robert Peel. He was deficient in those gifts of
imagination and romance which are essential to the highest oratory. He
utterly lacked--possibly he would have despised--that almost prophetic
rapture which we recognize in Burke and Chatham and Erskine. His manner
was frigid and pompous, and his rhetorical devices were mechanical.
Every parliamentary sketch of the time satirizes his habit of turning
round towards his supporters at given periods to ask for their applause;
his trick of emphasizing his points by perpetually striking the box
before him; and his inveterate propensity to indulge in hackneyed
quotation. But when we have said this we have said all that can be urged
in his disparagement. As a parliamentary speaker of the second and
perhaps most useful class he has never been excelled. Firmly though
dispassionately persuaded of certain political and economic doctrines,
he brought to the task of promoting them unfailing tact, prompt courage,
intimate acquaintance with the foibles of his hearers, unconquerable
patience and perseverance, and an inexhaustible supply of sonorous
phrases and rounded periods. Nor was his success confined to the House
of Commons. As a speaker on public platforms, in the heyday of the
ten-pound householder and the middle-class franchise, he was peculiarly
in his element. He had beyond most men the art of "making a platitude
endurable by making it pompous." He excelled in demonstrating the
material advantages of a moderate and cautious conservatism, and he
could draw at will and with effect upon a prodigious fund of
constitutional commonplaces. If we measure the merit of a parliamentary
speaker by his practical influence, we must allow that Peel was
pre-eminently great.

In the foremost rank of orators a place must certainly be assigned to
O'Connell. He was not at his best in the House of Commons. His
coarseness, violence, and cunning were seen to the worst advantage in
what was still an assemblage of gentlemen. His powers of ridicule,
sarcasm, and invective, his dramatic and sensational predilections,
required another scene for their effective display. But few men have
ever been so richly endowed by Nature with the original, the
incommunicable, the inspired qualifications which go to make an orator.
He was magnificently built, and blessed with a voice which, by all
contemporary testimony, was one of the most thrilling, flexible, and
melodious that ever vibrated through a popular assembly. "From grave to
gay, from lively to severe" he flew without delay or difficulty. His wit
gave point to the most irrelevant personalities, and cogency to the most
illogical syllogisms. The most daring perversions of truth and justice
were driven home by appeals to the emotions which the coldest natures
could scarcely withstand; "the passions of his audience were playthings
in his hand." Lord Lytton thus described him:--

"Once to my sight the giant thus was given:
Walled by wide air, and roofed by boundless heaven,
Beneath his feet the human ocean lay,
And wave on wave flowed into space away.
Methought no clarion could have sent its sound
Even to the centre of the hosts around;
But, as I thought, rose the sonorous swell
As from some church tower swings the silvery bell.
Aloft and clear, from airy tide to tide
It glided, easy as a bird may glide;
To the last verge of that vast audience sent,
It played with each wild passion as it went;
Now stirred the uproar, now the murmur stilled,
And sobs or laughter answered as it willed.
Then did I know what spells of infinite choice,
To rouse or lull, hath the sweet human voice;
Then did I seem to seize the sudden clue
To that grand troublous Life Antique--to view,
Under the rockstand of Demosthenes,
Mutable Athens heave her noisy seas."

A remarkable contrast, as far as outward characteristics went, was
offered by the other great orator of the same time. Sheil was very
small, and of mean presence; with a singularly fidgety manner, a shrill
voice, and a delivery unintelligibly rapid. But in sheer beauty of
elaborated diction not O'Connell nor any one else could surpass him.
There are few finer speeches in the language than that in which he took
Lord Lyndhurst to task for applying the term "aliens" to the Irish in a
speech on municipal reform:--

"Aliens! Good God! was Arthur Duke of Wellington in the House of Lords,
and did he not start up and exclaim, 'Hold! I have seen the aliens do
their duty'?... I appeal to the gallant soldier before me, from whose
opinions I differ, but who bears, I know, a generous heart in an
intrepid bosom--tell me, for you needs must remember, on that day when
the destinies of mankind were trembling in the balance, while death fell
in showers--tell me if for an instant, when to hesitate for an instant
was to be lost, the 'aliens' blenched.... On the field of Waterloo the
blood of England, of Scotland, and of Ireland flowed in the same stream
and drenched the same field. When the chill morning dawned their dead
lay cold and stark together; in the same deep pit their bodies were
deposited; the green corn of spring is now breaking from their
commingled dust; the dew falls from heaven upon this union in the grave.
Partakers in every peril, in the glory shall we not be permitted to
participate? And shall we be told as a requital that we are 'aliens'
from the noble country for whose salvation our life-blood was poured

By the time which we are now considering there had risen to eminence a
man who, if he could not be ranked with the great orators of the
beginning of the century, yet inherited their best traditions and came
very near to rivalling their fame. I refer to the great Lord Derby. His
eloquence was of the most impetuous kind, corresponding to the sensitive
fierceness of the man, and had gained for him the nickname of "The
Rupert of Debate." Lord Beaconsfield, speaking in the last year of his
life to Mr. Matthew Arnold, said that the task of carrying Mr. Forster's
Coercion Bill of 1881 through the House of Commons "needed such a man as
Lord Derby was in his youth--a man full of nerve, dash, fire, and
resource, who carried the House irresistibly along with him"--no mean
tribute from a consummate judge. Among Lord Derby's ancillary
qualifications were his musical voice, his fine English style, and his
facility in apt and novel quotation, as when he applied Meg Merrilies's
threnody over the ruins of Derncleugh to the destruction of the Irish
Church Establishment. I turn to Lord Lytton again for a description:--

"One after one, the Lords of Time advance;
Here Stanley meets--how Stanley scorns!--the glance.
The brilliant chief, irregularly great,
Frank, haughty, rash, the Rupert of Debate;
Nor gout nor toil his freshness can destroy,
And time still leaves all Eton in the boy.
First in the class, and keenest in the ring,
He saps like Gladstone, and he fights like Spring!
Yet who not listens, with delighted smile,
To the pure Saxon of that silver style;
In the clear style a heart as clear is seen,
Prompt to the rash, revolting from the mean."

I turn now to Lord Derby's most eminent rival--Lord Russell. Writing in
1844, Lord Beaconsfield thus described him:--"He is not a natural
orator, and labours under physical deficiencies which even a Demosthenic
impulse could scarcely overcome. But he is experienced in debate, quick
in reply, fertile in resource, takes large views, and frequently
compensates for a dry and hesitating manner by the expression of those
noble truths that flash across the fancy and rise spontaneously to the
lip of men of poetic temperament when addressing popular assemblies."
Twenty years earlier Moore had described Lord John Russell's public
speaking in a peculiarly happy image:--

"An eloquence, not like those rills from a height
Which sparkle and foam and in vapour are o'er;
But a current that works out its way into light
Through the filtering recesses of thought and of lore."

Cobden, when they were opposed to one another in the earlier days of the
struggle for Free Trade, described him as "a cunning little fox," and
avowed that he dreaded his dexterity in parliamentary debate more than
that of any other opponent.

In 1834 Lord John made his memorable declaration in favour of a liberal
policy with reference to the Irish Church Establishment, and, in his own
words, "The speech made a great impression; the cheering was loud and
general; and Stanley expressed his sense of it in a well-known note to
Sir James Graham: 'Johnny has upset the coach.'" The phrase was
perpetuated by Lord Lytton, to whom I must go once again for a perfectly
apt description of the Whig leader, both in his defects of manner and in
his essential greatness:--

"Next cool, and all unconscious of reproach,
Comes the calm Johnny who "upset the coach"--
How formed to lead, if not too proud to please!
His fame would fire you, but his manners freeze;
Like or dislike, he does not care a jot;
He wants your vote, but your affections not.
Yet human hearts need sun as well as oats;
So cold a climate plays the deuce with votes.
But see our hero when the steam is on,
And languid Johnny glows to Glorious John;
When Hampden's thought, by Falkland's muses drest,
Lights the pale cheek and swells the generous breast;
When the pent heat expands the quickening soul,
And foremost in the race the wheels of genius roll."

As the general idea of these chapters has been a concatenation of Links
with the Past, I must say a word about Lord Palmerston, who was born in
1784, entered Parliament in 1807, and was still leading the House of
Commons when I first attended its debates. A man who, when turned
seventy, could speak from the "dusk of a summer evening to the dawn of a
summer morning" in defence of his foreign policy, and carry the
vindication of it by a majority of 46, was certainly no common performer
on the parliamentary stage; and yet Lord Palmerston had very slender
claims to the title of an orator. His style was not only devoid of
ornament and rhetorical device, but it was slipshod and untidy in the
last degree. He eked out his sentences with "hum" and "hah;" he cleared
his throat, and flourished his pocket-handkerchief, and sucked his
orange; he rounded his periods with "you know what I mean" and "all that
kind of thing," and seemed actually to revel in an anti-climax--"I think
the hon. member's proposal an outrageous violation of constitutional
propriety, a daring departure from traditional policy, and, in short, a
great mistake." It taxed all the skill of the reporters' gallery to trim
his speeches into decent form; and yet no one was listened to with
keener interest, no one was so much dreaded as an opponent, and no one
ever approached him in the art of putting a plausible face upon a
doubtful policy and making the worse appear the better cause.
Palmerston's parliamentary success perfectly illustrates the judgment of
Demosthenes, that "it is not the orator's language that matters, nor the
tone of his voice; but what matters is that he should have the same
predilections as the majority, and should entertain the same likes and
dislikes as his country." If those are the requisites of public
speaking, Palmerston was supreme.

The most conspicuous of all Links with the Past in the matter of
Parliamentary Oratory is obviously Mr. Gladstone. Like the younger Pitt,
he had a "premature and unnatural dexterity in the combination of
words." He was trained under the immediate influence of Canning, who was
his father's friend. When he was sixteen his style was already formed. I
quote from the records of the Eton Debating Society for 1826:--

"Thus much, sir, I have said, as conceiving myself bound in fairness not
to regard the names under which men have hidden their designs so much as
the designs themselves. I am well aware that my prejudices
and my predilections have long been enlisted on the side of
Toryism--(cheers)--and that in a cause like this I am not likely to be
influenced unfairly against men bearing that name and professing to act
on the principles which I have always been accustomed to revere. But the
good of my country must stand on a higher ground than distinctions like
these. In common fairness and in common candour, I feel myself compelled
to give my decisive verdict against the conduct of men whose measures I
firmly believe to have been hostile to British interests, destructive of
British glory, and subversive of the splendid and, I trust, lasting
fabric of the British Constitution."

Mr. Gladstone entered Parliament when he was not quite twenty-three, at
the General Election of 1832, and it is evident from a perusal of his
early speeches in the House of Commons, imperfectly reported in the
third person, and from contemporary evidence, that, when due allowance
is made for growth and development, his manner of oratory was the same
as it was in after-life. He was only too fluent. His style was copious,
redundant, and involved, and his speeches were garnished, after the
manner of his time, with Horatian and Virgilian tags. His voice was
always clear, flexible, and musical, though his utterance was marked by
a Lancastrian "burr." His gesture was varied and animated, though not
violent. He turned his face and body from side to side, and often
wheeled right round to face his own party as he appealed for their

"Did you ever feel nervous in public speaking?" asked the late Lord

"In opening a subject, often," answered Mr. Gladstone; "in reply,

It was a characteristic saying, for, in truth, he was a born debater,
never so happy as when coping on the spur of the moment with the
arguments and appeals which an opponent had spent perhaps days in
elaborating beforehand. Again, in the art of elucidating figures he was
unequalled. He was the first Chancellor of the Exchequer who ever made
the Budget interesting. "He talked shop," it was said, "like a tenth
muse." He could apply all the resources of a glowing rhetoric to the
most prosaic questions of cost and profit; could make beer romantic and
sugar serious. He could sweep the widest horizon of the financial
future, and yet stoop to bestow the minutest attention on the microcosm
of penny stamps and the monetary merits of half-farthings. And yet,
extraordinary as were these feats of intellectual athletics, Mr.
Gladstone's unapproached supremacy as an orator was not really seen
until he touched the moral elements involved in some great political
issue. Then, indeed, he spoke like a prophet and a man inspired. His
whole physical formation seemed to become "fusile" with the fire of his
ethical passion, and his eloquence flowed like a stream of molten lava,
carrying all before it in its irresistible rush, glorious as well as
terrible, and fertilizing while it subdued. Mr. Gladstone's departure
from the House of Commons closed a splendid tradition, and Parliamentary
Oratory as our fathers understood it may now be reckoned among the lost



We have agreed that Parliamentary Oratory, as our fathers understood
that phrase, is a lost art. Must Conversation be included in the same
category? To answer with positiveness is difficult; but this much may be
readily conceded--that a belief in the decadence of conversation is
natural to those who have specially cultivated Links with the Past; who
grew up in the traditions of Luttrell and Mackintosh, and Lord Alvanley
and Samuel Rogers; who have felt Sydney Smith's irresistible fun, and
known the overwhelming fullness of Lord Macaulay. It is not unreasonable
even in that later generation which can still recall the frank but
high-bred gaiety of the great Lord Derby, the rollicking good-humour and
animal spirits of Bishop Wilberforce, the saturnine epigrams of Lord
Beaconsfield, the versatility and choice diction of Lord Houghton, the
many-sided yet concentrated malice which supplied the stock in trade of
Abraham Hayward. More recent losses have been heavier still. Just ten
years ago[15] died Mr. Matthew Arnold, who combined in singular harmony
the various elements which go to make good conversation--urbanity,
liveliness, quick sympathy, keen interest in the world's works and ways,
the happiest choice of words, and a natural and never-failing humour, as
genial as it was pungent. It was his characteristic glory that he knew
how to be a man of the world without being frivolous, and a man of
letters without being pedantic.

Eight years ago[16] I was asked to discuss the Art of Conversation in
one of the monthly reviews, and I could then illustrate it by such
living instances as Lord Granville, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Coleridge,
Lord Bowen, Mr. Browning, and Mr. Lowell. Each of those distinguished
men had a conversational gift which was peculiarly his own. Each talked
like himself, and like no one else; each made his distinct and
individual contribution to the social agreeableness of London. If in now
endeavouring to recall their characteristic gifts I use words which I
have used before, my excuse must be that the contemporary record of a
personal impression cannot with advantage be retouched after the lapse
of years.

Lord Granville's most notable quality was a humorous urbanity. As a
story-teller he was unsurpassed. He had been everywhere and had known
every one. He was quick to seize a point, and extraordinarily apt in
anecdote and illustration. His fine taste appreciated whatever was best
in life, in conversation, in literature, even when (as in his selection
of the preface to the Sanctus as his favourite piece of English prose)
it was gathered from fields in which he had not habitually roamed. A man
whose career had been so full of vivid and varied interests must often
have felt acutely bored by the trivial round of social conversation. But
if he could not rise--who can?--to the apostolic virtue of suffering
bores gladly, at any rate he endured their onslaughts as unflinchingly
as he stood the gout. A smiling countenance and an unfailing courtesy
concealed the torment which was none the less keen because it was
unexpressed. He could always feel, or at least could show, a gracious
interest in what interested his company, and he possessed in supreme
perfection the happy knack of putting those to whom he spoke in good
conceit with themselves.

The late Sir Robert Peel was, both mentally and physically, one of the
most picturesque figures in society. Alike in his character and in his
aspect the Creole blood which he had inherited from his maternal descent
triumphed over the robust and serviceable commonplace which was the
characteristic quality of the Peels. Lord Beaconsfield described "a
still gallant figure, scrupulously attired; a blue frock coat, with a
ribboned button-hole; a well-turned boot; hat a little too hidalgoish,
but quite new. There was something respectable and substantial about
him, notwithstanding his moustaches and a carriage too debonair for his
years." The description, for whomsoever intended, is a lifelike portrait
of Sir Robert Peel. His most salient feature as a talker was his lovely
voice--deep, flexible, melodious. Mr. Gladstone--no mean judge of such
matters--pronounced it the finest organ he ever heard in Parliament; but
with all due submission to so high an authority, I should have said that
it was a voice better adapted to the drawing-room than to the House of
Commons. In a large space a higher note and a clearer tone tell better,
but in the close quarters of social intercourse one appreciates the
sympathetic qualities of a rich baritone. And Sir Robert's voice,
admirable in itself, was the vehicle of conversation quite worthy of it.
He could talk of art and sport, and politics and books; he had a great
memory, varied information, lively interest in the world and its doings,
and a full-bodied humour which recalled the social tone of the
Eighteenth century.

His vein of personal raillery was rather robust than refined. Nothing
has been heard in our time quite like his criticism of Sir Edgar Boehm
in the House of Commons, or his joke about Mr. Justice Chitty at the
election for Oxford in 1880. But his humour (to quote his own words)
"had an English ring," and much must be pardoned to a man who, in this
portentous age of reticence and pose, was wholly free from solemnity,
and when he heard or saw what was ludicrous was not afraid to laugh at
it. Sir Robert Peel was an excellent hand at what our fathers called
banter and we call chaff. A prig or a pedant was his favourite butt, and
the performance was rendered all the more effective by his elaborate
assumption of the _grand seigneur's_ manner. The victim was dimly
conscious that he was being laughed at, but comically uncertain about
the best means of reprisal. Sydney Smith described Sir James Mackintosh
as "abating and dissolving pompous gentlemen with the most successful
ridicule." Whoever performs that process is a social benefactor, and the
greatest master of it whom I have ever known was Sir Robert Peel.

The Judges live so entirely in their own narrow and rather technical
circle that their social abilities are lost to the world. It is a pity,
for several of them are men well fitted by their talents and
accomplishments to take a leading part in society. The late Lord
Coleridge was pre-eminently a case in point. Personally, I had an almost
fanatical admiration for his genius, and in many of the qualities which
make an agreeable talker he was unsurpassed. Every one who ever heard
him at the Bar or on the Bench must recall that silvery voice and that
perfect elocution which prompted a competent judge of such matters to
say: "I should enjoy listening to Coleridge even if he only read out a
page of _Bradshaw_." To these gifts were added an immense store of
varied knowledge, a genuine enthusiasm for whatever is beautiful in
literature or art, an inexhaustible copiousness of anecdote, and a happy
knack of exact yet not offensive mimicry. It is always pleasant to see a
man in great station, who, in the intercourse of society, is perfectly
untrammelled by pomp and form, can make a joke and enjoy it, and is not
too cautious to garnish his conversation with personalities or to season
it with sarcasm. Perhaps Lord Coleridge's gibes were a little out of
place on "The Royal Bench of British Themis," but at a dinner-table they
were delightful, and they derived a double zest from the exquisite
precision and finish of the English in which they were conveyed.

Another judge who excelled in conversation was the late Lord Bowen.
Those who knew him intimately would say that he was the best talker in
London. In spite of the burden of learning which he carried and his
marvellous rapidity and grasp of mind, his social demeanour was quiet
and unobtrusive almost to the point of affectation. His manner was
singularly suave and winning, and his smile resembled that of the
much-quoted Chinaman who played but did not understand the game of
euchre. This singular gentleness of speech gave a special piquancy to
his keen and delicate satire, his readiness in repartee, and his subtle
irony. No one ever met Lord Bowen without wishing to meet him again; no
one ever made his acquaintance without desiring his friendship. Sir
Henry Cunningham's memoir of him only illustrated afresh the
impossibility of transplanting to the printed page the rarefied humour
of so delicate a spirit. Let me make just one attempt. Of a brother
judge he said: "To go to the Court of Appeal with a judgment of ----'s in
your favour, is like going to sea on a Friday. It is not necessarily
fatal; but _one would rather it had not happened_." Had Bowen been more
widely known, the traditions of his table-talk would probably have taken
their place with the best recollections of English conversation. His
admirers can only regret that gifts so rich and so rare should have been
buried in judicial dining-rooms or squandered on the dismal orgies of
the Cosmopolitan Club, where dull men sit round a meagre fire, in a
large, draughty, and half-lit room, drinking lemon-squash and talking
for talking's sake--the most melancholy of occupations.

The society of London between 1870 and 1890 contained no more striking
or interesting figure than that of Robert Browning. No one meeting him
for the first time and unfurnished with a clue would have guessed his
vocation. He might have been a diplomatist, a statesman, a discoverer,
or a man of science. But whatever was his calling, one felt sure that it
must be something essentially practical. Of the disordered appearance,
the unconventional demeanour, the rapt and mystic air which we assume to
be characteristic of the poet he had absolutely none. And his
conversation corresponded to his appearance. It abounded in vigour, in
fire, in vivacity. It was genuinely interesting, and often strikingly
eloquent, yet all the time it was entirely free from mystery, vagueness,
and jargon. It was the crisp, emphatic, and powerful discourse of a man
of the world who was incomparably better informed than the mass of his
congeners. Mr. Browning was the readiest, the blithest, and the most
forcible of talkers, and when he dealt in criticism the edge of his
sword was mercilessly whetted against pretension and vanity. The
inflection of his voice, the flash of his eye, the pose of his head, the
action of his hand, all lent their special emphasis to the condemnation.
"I like religion to be treated seriously," he exclaimed with reference
to a theological novel of great renown, "and I don't want to know what
this curate or that curate thought about it. _No, I don't._" Surely the
secret thoughts of many hearts found utterance in that emphatic cry.

Here I must venture to insert a personal reminiscence. Mr. Browning had
honoured me with his company at dinner, and an unduly fervent admirer
had button-holed him throughout a long evening, plying him with
questions about what he meant by this line, and whom he intended by that
character. It was more than flesh and blood could stand, and at last
the master extricated himself from the grasp of the disciple, exclaiming
with the most airy grace, "But, my dear fellow, this is too bad. _I_ am
monopolizing _you_." Now and then, at rather rare intervals, when time
and place, and company and surroundings, were altogether suitable, Mr.
Browning would consent to appear in his true character and to delight
his hearers by speaking of his art. Then the higher and rarer qualities
of his genius came into play. He kindled with responsive fire at a
beautiful thought, and burned with contagious enthusiasm over a phrase
which struck his fancy. Yet all the while the poetic rapture was
underlain by a groundwork of robust sense. Rant, and gush, and
affectation were abhorrent to his nature, and even in his grandest
flights of fancy he was always intelligible.

The late Mr. Lowell must certainly be reckoned among the famous talkers
of his time. During the years that he represented the United States in
London his trim sentences, his airy omniscience, his minute and
circumstantial way of laying down literary law, were the inevitable
ornaments of serious dinners and cultured tea-tables. My first encounter
with Mr. Lowell took place many years before he entered on his
diplomatic career. It was in 1872, when I chanced to meet him in a
company of tourists at Durham Castle. Though I was a devotee of the
_Biglow Papers_, I did not know their distinguished author even by
sight; and I was intensely amused by the air of easy mastery, the calm
and almost fatherly patronage, with which this cultivated American
overrode the indignant showwoman; pointed out, for the general benefit
of the admiring tourists, the gaps and lapses in her artistic,

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