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revenge herself by a joint attack with him upon Germany, hoping that he might win with Austria’s help those concessions of territory along the Rhine, which Bismarck had peremptorily refused him as a _pour-boire_ after Sadowa. Austria, too, must take a share of the responsibility, since through the secret negotiations of the Archduke Albrecht she had encouraged Napoleon in this idea. Both Napoleon and the Archduke were convinced that those South-German States which had been annexed by Prussia for siding with Austria would rise, if their attack on Prussia could be associated with the idea of liberation. Bismarck’s cleverness in picking the quarrel over the question of the Spanish succession, a matter which did not in the least concern South-Germany, proved fatal to their expectations. This triumph of diplomacy, together with the success of his master-stroke of provocation, the Ems telegram, decided the fate of France. As edited by Bismarck, the King of Prussia’s telegram describing his last interview with the French Ambassador at Ems, infuriated the French to the necessary pitch of recklessness, while to Germans it read like the account of an insult to German-speaking peoples, and tended to draw them together in resentment.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

SALTBURN, _August_ 24, 1870

Don’t you sometimes feel that a few weeks’ delay in beginning this horrible war might have given time to Europe to discover some better means than war for settling the dispute? We are full of schemes for the prevention of future wars. The only compensation I see for all these horrors is the conviction they bring of the amount of heroism in the world and of the progress made in humanity towards enemies–especially sick and wounded.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

SALTBURN, _August_ 30, 1870

Poor Paris! You may well say we must be sorry for it, having so lately seen it in all its gay spring beauty–and though no doubt the surface, which is all we saw of its inhabitants, is better than the groundwork, how much of good and great it contains! How the best Frenchmen everywhere, and the best Parisians in particular, must grieve over the deep corruption which has done much to bring their country to its present dreary prospects. I did not mean that any mediation or interference of other Powers would have prevented this war, but that there ought by this time to be a substitute found for all war.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

SALTBURN, _September_ 7, 1870

Don’t you find it bewildering to be hurried at express speed through such mighty pages of history? And if bewildering and overpowering to us, who from the beginning of the war could see a probability of French disaster, what must it be to Paris, to all France, fed with falsehood as they have been till from one success to another they find their Emperor and an army of 80,000 men prisoners of war! But what a people! Who would have supposed by reading the accounts of Paris on Sunday, the excess of joy, the _air de fete_, the wild exultation, that an immense calamity, a bitter mortification had just befallen the country! that a gigantic German army was on its way to their gates! I should like to know whether many of those who shouted “Vive l’Empereur” when he left Paris, who applauded the war and hooted down anybody who doubted its justice or attacked Imperialism, are now among the shouters of “Vive la Republique” and the new Democratic Ministry. Let us hope not. Let us hope a great many things from the downfall of a corrupt Court, and the call for heroism and self-sacrifice to a frivolous and depraved city–frivolous and depraved, and yet containing so much of noble and good–all the nobler and better, perhaps, from the constant struggle to remain so in that atmosphere. Even if, as God grant, there is no siege, the serious thoughts which the prospect of it must give will perhaps not be lost on the Parisians. I, like you, long that the King of Prussia may prove that he spoke in all sincerity when he said that he fought against the Emperor, not France, and be magnanimous in the conditions he may offer–but what does that precisely mean? John says he is right to seek for some guarantee against future French ambition. Hitherto he has acted very like a gentleman, as John in the House of Lords declared him to be, and may still be your model sovereign.

_Lady Russell to Mr. Rollo Russell_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _November_ 3, 1870

Your letter is so interesting and raises so many serious thoughts that I should like to answer it as it deserves, but can’t do so to-day as I am obliged to go to London on business, and have hardly a moment. The kind of “gigantic brains” which you mention are, I agree with you, often repulsive–there is a harshness of _dissent_ from all that mankind most values, all that has raised them above this earth, which cannot be right–which is the result of deficiency in some part of their minds or hearts or both, and not of excess of intellect or any other good thing. If they are right in their contempt of Christian faith and hope, or of all other spiritual faith and hope, they ought to be “of all men most miserable”; but they are apt to reject Christian charity too, and to dance on the ruins of all that has hitherto sustained their fellow-creatures in a world of sin and sorrow. That they are not right, but wofully wrong, I firmly believe, and happily many and many a noble intellect and great heart, which have not shrunk from searching into the mysteries of life and death with all the powers and all the love of truth given them by God to be used, not to lie dormant or merely receive what other men teach, have risen from the search with a firmer faith than before in Christ and in the immortality which he brought to light. I believe that many of those who deem themselves sceptics or atheists retain, after all, enough of the divine element within them practically to refute their own words.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _January_ 4, 1871

I wonder whether the solemn thoughts which must belong to the end of a year, and the solemn services by which it has been celebrated both by Germans and French, will lead them to ask themselves in all earnestness whether it is really duty, really what they believe to be God’s will, which guides them in the continuance of a fearful war–whether earthly passions, earthly point of honour, do not mingle with their determination. If they do ask themselves such questions, what will be the answers? I, too, am often tempted to wish peace at any price, yet neither you nor I would act upon the wish were we the people to act. It was the peace at any price doctrine that forced us into the Russian war.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _January_ 25, 1871

Hopes of peace at last, thank God! I can think of little else–the increasing and accumulating horrors, miseries, and desolation of this wicked war have been enough to make one despair of mankind. France alone was in the wrong at first, but both have been wrong ever since Sedan, so at least I think, but it is too long a matter to discuss in a letter. If the new Emperor [81] does not grant most honourable terms to Paris, I shall give him up altogether as a self-seeking, hard-hearted old man of fire and sword. I dare say you have not heard as many sad stories as we have of the losses and disasters and unspeakable sorrows of people in Paris, known to other people we have seen. I won’t repeat any of them, as it can do no good. I am glad to know that the Crown Prince _hates_ the war, _hates_ the bombardment, and opposed it strongly, and then again opposed sending shells into the town, and was very angry when it began to be done. Indeed, everything that we hear of him is highly to his credit, and one may hope much for the welfare and good government of United Germany from him and his wife.

[81] King William of Prussia had just taken the title of German Emperor.

_Lady Russell to Mr. Rollo Russell_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _January_ 26, 1871

… We are rejoicing and thanking God for the blessed news of the coming surrender of Paris. Alas for all the wasted lives–wasted, _I_ think, on both sides, for I cannot perceive that it was on either side one of those great and holy causes in which the blood shed by one generation bears fruit for the next. The _Times_ was too quick in drawing conclusions from Jules Favre being at Versailles, but there can be little doubt that terms are under consideration, and I hope the Germans will show that they are not so spoiled by success as to be ungenerous in their demands. As to Alsace and Lorraine, I fear that it is a settled point with them. If so, they ought to be all the more ready to grant terms honourable in other respects. Do you see that a brave man in the Berlin Parliament raised his voice against annexation of French provinces, on the discussion of address to the new Emperor on his new dignity? … What wonderfully interesting lectures Tyndall is giving.

LONDON, _July_ 12, 1871

We lunched yesterday, all three, with Bernstorffs, [82] to meet Crown Prince and Princess–best of Princes and Princesses. It was interesting and agreeable. John and I had the luck to sit beside her and him. I was delighted to hear him say, “I hate war,” with an emphasis better than words.

[82] Count Bernstorff was German Ambassador in London.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _July_ 27, 1871

… I suppose Agatha told you of the Emperor of Brazil’s visit to us at 7 a.m.–it was amusing to get up at six to receive an Emperor, impossible to put on much ceremony with one’s garments at that unceremonious hour, and fortunately unnecessary, for His Majesty was chatty and easy. He took a turn along West walk, admired the view, had a cup of chocolate, thanked us for our courtesy, and was off again before eight with his sallow-faced, grimy gentleman in waiting, who looked as if the little sleep he ever had was with his clothes on. We tried to see another Emperor [83] on Tuesday, having at last made out our journey to Chislehurst. Unluckily he and his son had gone to town, but we found the Empress. How unlike the splendid, bejewelled, pomp-and-gloryfied Empress of the Tuileries: her dress careless and common, her face little, if at all, painted, and thereby to my eye improved–but so altered. She seemed, however, in good spirits. She did not talk of France, but feared for England anything tending to diminish authority of “powers that be.”

[83] Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie were living at Chislehurst.

On August 18, 1871, Lord Russell’s seventy-ninth birthday was celebrated at Pembroke Lodge by the school children under the cedar in the garden. “His serene and cheerful mind, a greater blessing year by year as enjoyments one by one drop away. He looks back with gratitude, he accepts the present with contentment. He looks forward, I think, without dread.” In September they went abroad, and took for the second time the house at Renens-sur-Roche, in Switzerland, where they had stayed in 1855. Lady Russell’s mind was still full of horror of the recent war.

The first morning at Glyon (she writes to her sister, Lady Dunfermline) was one of merciless rain, but the afternoon did well enough for Chillon, to which use we all put it, and very interesting, grimly and horribly so, we found it. Men are less wicked and less cruel, tyrants are less tyrannical nowadays than when so-called criminals, often the best men in their country, were chained by iron rings to dungeon stones for years and years, or fastened to pillars and tortured by slow fires, or thrown down “oubliettes” into the lake below, falling first on a revolving machine stuck full of sharp blades–of all which horrors we were shown the scene and the remains. But I hope that some centuries hence travellers will wonder at even the present use to which Chillon is put, that of an arsenal, and thank God that they did not live in an age when sovereigns and rulers could command man to destroy his brother-man.

From Switzerland they moved down to the South of France to get to a warmer climate. They had taken a villa for the winter at Cannes, where they had a happy time, brightened during the Christmas vacation by the visits of their sons with friends from Oxford. In his old age Lord Russell seemed to enjoy more and more the companionship of the young, and entered with spirit into their merry jests and their eager conversations on great subjects, discussed with the freshness and enthusiasm of youth.

Lord Russell, as the following letters show, was still taking keen interest in education questions:

_Lord Russell to Colonel Romilly_

RENENS, _September_ 27, 1871

I see the Bishop of Manchester has been speaking in favour of “a very moderate form of dogmatism” to be imposed on Dissenters who wish their children to have religious teaching. I am quite against this moderate form, which consists in making a Baptist child own that he is to believe what his godfathers and godmothers promised for him–he having neither godfathers nor godmothers. Every form of persecution is in my eyes detestable, so that I shall have to fight a new fight for freedom of education.

_Lord Russell to Lady Minto_

CANNES, _January_ 6, 1872

MY DEAREST NINA,–Your New Year’s Day letter shows that you write as well as a volunteer as on compulsion…. I am sorry to have annoyed Maggie by my allusion to the Hertfordshire incumbent. Here is my case. Sixty-three years ago my father, with others founded a Society to teach the Bible to young boys and girls, which they called “Schools for all.” One should have thought there was no harm in the project, and that they might have been left alone. Not so. The clergy were furious. Sixty years ago they founded the National Society, and ever since they have libelled our schools…. Last year or the year before the H.I. [Hertfordshire Incumbent] attacked my proposals. I left him alone, but I carried the day, and excluded formularies from schools provided by rates. Still the bishops and clergy fulminate against us, shut out Baptists from the schools where they have influence, and declaim against us. Now I happen to have a great respect for the Bible, and while I have life will not cease to defend our Bible schools. You will say, if I do not, that in time the world will come round to Christianity, which is at a low ebb at present. Men will understand at last that they ought to love God and to love their neighbour as themselves, not to steal, or commit murder, or cheat their neighbours. The Athanasian Creed is making a pretty hubbub. It was invented as a substitute for Christianity, and taken from Aristotle….

Ever yours affectionately,


_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

CANNES, _November_ 29, 1871

What is to be the result of the Republican ferment in our country? It may not be widespread, and it certainly hardly exists above the working classes, yet I feel that the germ is there–and who can say how far it is doomed to flourish, or whether it will die away…. Ours has been so free and independent and prosperous a nation, that the notion of any fundamental change in the Constitution is awful. Yet when we boast of our freedom and prosperity we should not forget the enormous mass of misery, vice, filth, and all evil which disgraces all our large towns–nor the brutish ignorance and apathy which pervades much of our rural population. And it is well worth the most earnest thought and study, on the part of all Englishmen and women, to find out whether our form of government has or has not any share of the blame and to act accordingly. I have great confidence in the British people. They have never liked hasty, ill-considered changes; they hate revolution; and I hope I am not too trustful in believing that we shall go on in the wise and the right path, whatever that may be, and in spite of the freaks and follies of many a man whose aims are more selfish than patriotic.

While at Cannes Lord and Lady Russell saw a great deal of Princess Christian, who was living near them, and was in great anxiety and sorrow about the illness of her brother, the Prince of Wales, who nearly died in December, 1871. His illness was the occasion of a display of loyalty and sympathy from thousands of British subjects. Lady Russell received the following reply to a letter she wrote from Cannes to the Queen:

_Queen Victoria to Lady Russell_

OSBORNE, _January_ 22, 1872

DEAR LADY RUSSELL,–I meant ere this to have thanked you for your very kind letter of the 1st, but my dear son’s illness brought with it much writing besides much to do, in addition to which, there is the correspondence with _four_ absent married daughters, which is no light task. I thank you now _both_ most warmly for the great kindness of your expressions about my own long and severe illness, when you so kindly wrote to Lady Ely to inquire, and relative to this last dreadful illness of my dear son’s, coming, as it did, when I was far from strong myself. Thank God! I was able to be near him and with my _beloved_ daughter, the Princess of Wales (who behaved so beautifully and admirably), during that terrible time, when for nearly a week his life hung on a thread. Indeed, for a whole month _at least,_ if not for five weeks, his state was one of the greatest anxiety and indeed of danger. Since the 4th we may look on his progress as steady and good, and I hear that he was able to drive out yesterday for a little while. But great quiet will be necessary for a long while to come. You are very kind in your accounts of Helena, who no doubt must have suffered much from being so far off…. I hear that she is really better and stronger. She speaks often of the pleasure it is to her to see you and Lord Russell, of whom I am delighted to hear so good an account. Though not very strong and not free from rheumatic pains at times, I am much better and able to walk again out of doors, much as usual.

With kind remembrances to Lord Russell and Agatha,

Ever yours affectionately, V.R.

In the spring they all came back to England. Lord John had benefited in health by wintering abroad; he was still vigorous enough to resist in the House of Lords the claim of the United States for the _Alabama_ indemnity, and to give a presidential address to the Historical Society; but the years were beginning to tell on him.

PEMBROKE LODGE, _April_ 18, 1872

John did not venture out–still looks tired and not as he did when we arrived, but no cold. Sad, most sad to me, that when I take a brisk turn in the garden, it is no longer with him–that his enjoyments, his active powers, yearly dwindle away–that it is scarcely possible he should not at times feel the hours too long from the difficulty of finding variety of occupation. Writing, walking, even reading very long or talking much with friends and visitors all tire him. He never complains, and I thank God for his patience, and oh! so heartily that he has no pain, no chronic ailment. But alas for the days of his vigour when he was out and in twenty times a day, when life had a zest which nothing can restore!

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _August_ 8, 1872

Filled with wonder, shame, remorse, I begin on a Thursday to write to you. What possessed me to let Wednesday pass without doing so I can’t tell, but I think it happens about once a year, and I dare say it’s a statistical mystery–the averages must be kept right, and my mind is not to blame–no free will in the matter. This brings me to an essay in one of the magazines for August–I forget which–on the statistics of prayer. Not a nice name (perhaps it’s not correct, but nearly so), and not a nice article, it seemed to me–but I only glanced at it; produced, like many other faulty things of the kind, by illogical superstition on the part of Christian clergy, most of whom preach a half-belief, some a whole belief, on the efficacy of prayer for temporal good. Then comes the hard unbeliever, delighted to prove, as any child can do, that such prayer cannot be proved to avail anything. He is incapable of understanding the deeper and truer kind of prayer, but he convinces many that all communion with God is fruitless, or perhaps that there is no God with whom to hold it. This may not be the drift of the article, for, as I said, I have not read it, but it _is_ the drift of much that is talked and written nowadays by men and women of the author’s school. I wish there were no schools in that sense. They always have done and always will do harm, and prevent the independence of thought which they are by way of encouraging.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _Christmas Day,_ 1872

I do indeed feel with you how wonderful the goodness and the contented spirit of many thousands of poor, pent-up, toiling human beings, who live in God’s glorious world and leave it without ever knowing its glories, whose lives are one struggle to maintain life; and I think with you how easy it ought to be for us who have leisure for the beauty of life, in nature and in books, in conversation and in art. And yet, it was to the rich that Christ gave His most frequent warnings. Is it then, after all, easiest for the poor to do His will and love Him and trust Him in all things?

The summer and autumn and winter had been spent almost entirely at Pembroke Lodge, but when Parliament met early in 1873 they moved to London, where they had taken a house till Easter.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

LONDON, _February_ 19, 1873

Scene–a drawing-room; hour 11.30 a.m. A young lady playing the pianoforte by candle-light. An old lady writing, also by candle-light. An old gentleman five minutes ago sitting reading also by candle-light, but now doing the same in a room below. Three large windows through which is seen a vast expanse of a semi-substantial material of the hue of a smoked primrose; against it is dimly visible an irregular and picturesque outline, probably of a range of mountains, some rocky and pyramidal, others horizontally banked. Altogether, a mystery replete with grandeur in the effect–none of your Southern transparency leaving nothing for the imagination. _Seriously,_ it’s laughable that human beings should congregate so as to produce these effects, and that we among others should by preference be among the congregators. Your day at Napoule is like something in a different world altogether.

You are rather hard, John says, and he is not disposed to be otherwise, on Parliamentary sayings and doings. I can say nothing from myself, as I have not read one single speech, except that I cannot bear the humiliating exclusion of _any_ kind of useful knowledge from a University out of false consideration for religious or irreligious scruples. [84] Surely young men had better be taught boldly to face the fact that men differ than be dealt with in this ridiculously tender and most futile manner.

[84] The Irish University Bill was being discussed in the Commons, one clause of which proposed to exclude theology, philosophy, and history from the curriculum of the New University.

In August, 1873, after the publication of Lord Russell’s book, “Essays on the History of the Christian Religion,” they spent some six weeks at Dieppe, where Lord Russell’s health again considerably improved.

_Mr. Disraeli to Lord Russell_


MY DEAR LORD,–I have just finished reading your book, which I was much gratified by receiving from the author…. I cannot refrain from expressing to you the great pleasure its perusal gave me. The subject is of perpetual interest, and it is treated, in many instances, with originality founded on truth, and with wonderful freshness. The remarks suggested by your own eminent career give to the general conduct of the theme additional interest, like the personal passages in Montaigne. I wish there had been more of them, or that you would favour the world with some observations on men and things, which one who is alike a statesman, a philosopher, and a scholar could alone supply. In your retirement you have the inestimable happiness of constant and accomplished sympathy, without which life is little worth. Mine is lone and dark, but still, I hope I may send my kindest remembrances to Lady Russell.

Yours with sincere respect and regard,


_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _July_ 3, 1873

You will not be disappointed, I do believe, with John’s book, high as your expectations are. The spirit of it at all events is that of your letter: that of love and reverence for what you truly call the wonder of wonders–the Bible–as well as that of perfect freedom of thought. Had that perfect freedom always been allowed to mankind by kings, rulers, and priests, in all their disguises, we should never have had the “trash” of which you complain inundating our country and thinking itself a substitute for the simple lessons and glorious promises of Christ. Whereas in proportion as it is less “trashy,” it approaches more nearly, though unconsciously, to what He taught, borrowing what is best in it from Him, only giving an earthly tone to what He made divine. I have, perhaps, more indulgence than you for some of the anti-Christian thinkers and writers of the day–those who love truth with all their souls, who would give their lives to believe that–

“Dust thou art, to dust returnest, Was not spoken of the soul,”

but who seek a kind of proof of this which never can be found. They are very unhappy in this world, but I believe they are nearer heaven than many comfortable so-called believers, and will find their happiness beyond that death upon which they look as annihilation.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _October_ 22, 1873

Louisa [85] writes in such warm admiration of Minto indoors and out, it did me good to read it, and such joy in meeting you. Shall I ever be there again, I wonder?–a foolish wonder, and foolisher still when let out! Dear old oak-room–to me too Granny Brydone is always present there. I _cannot_ think of it without her image rising before me. How perfect she was! How far above the common world she and Mama, and yet both spending their lives in the discharge of common, and what many would call, petty duties! How little it signifies what are the special duties to which we are called, how much the spirit in which we do them! I don’t think I ever longed so much for long talks day after day with you. Don’t say such hopes are visionary, though, alas! they have over and over again vanished before our eyes.

[85] Lady Louisa Howard, formerly Lady Louisa Fitzmaurice (daughter of Lord Lansdowne), one of Lady Russell’s earliest friends.

_Lady Russell to Lord Amberley_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _October_ 28, 1873

DEAREST JOHNNY,–… Rollo bought Mill’s autobiography, and I have read the greater part of it. Deeply interesting it is, and his lovableness comes out in it as much as his intellect–but deeply sad too, in more ways than one. I live in dread of the possible effect on you and Kate of the account of his education by his father–the principles right, the application so wofully wrong. Mill was a learned scholar, a great thinker, a good man, partly in consequence, partly in spite of it…. Happily you have more Popes than one, as good for you as it was for the world in days of old. Happily, too, there’s such a thing as love, _innate, intuitive, instinctive_ (oh, horrible!), which is wise in proportion to its depth, and will be your best and safest guide. How strange Mill’s utter silence about his mother I How beautiful and touching the pages about his wife! How melancholy to know that such high natures as his and hers generally fail to meet in close intimacy here below, and therefore live and die more than half unknown, waiting for the hereafter. God bless you, my very dear children.

Your loving MOTHER

PEMBROKE LODGE, _November_ 9, 1873

Visit from Mr. Herbert Spencer, who stayed to dinner. Long, deep, interesting conversation; all amounting to “we know nothing,” he assuring me that the prospect of annihilation has no terrors for him; I feeling that without immortality life is “all a cheat,” and without a Father in heaven, right and wrong, love, conscience, joy, sorrow, are words without a meaning and the Universe, if governed at all, is governed by a malignant spirit who gives us hopes, and aspirations never to be fulfilled, affections to be wasted, a thirst for knowledge never to be quenched.

“1874 opened brightly and peacefully on our dear home,” she writes; but it was to prove one of the saddest years in their lives. Only some of the heavy trials and sorrows that they were called upon to bear from this time onward will be touched upon here. They were borne by Lord and Lady Russell with heroic courage and unfaltering faith.

_Lady Russell to Lady Dunfermline_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _February_ 25, 1874

I am now just finishing the “Heart of Midlothian,” and with more intense admiration for it than ever–the beauty and naturalness of every word spoken by Jeanie and Effie _before_ the last volume, of a great deal of Davie Deans, of many of the scenes scattered through the book are, I think, not to be surpassed. More tenderness and depth and heart-breakingness I should say than in any of Sir Walter’s…. I turned to Sir Walter from “The Parisians.” I doubt whether I shall finish it, a false, glittering, disagreeable atmosphere.

_Lady Russell to Lord and Lady Amberley_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _March_ 2, 1874

MY DEAR CHILDREN,–… We had a charming visit from Sir Henry Taylor a few days ago, a long quiet real “crack” about many books and many authors, with a little touch of the events of the day-change of Ministry, causes of our utter defeat, which he thinks obscure, so do I–not creditable to the country, so do I–in so far as Disraeli can hardly be reckoned more trustworthy or consistent than Gladstone, and Gladstone’s untrustworthiness and inconsistency are supposed to have caused his overthrow. The Queen made Sir John Cowell write me a note to find out whether John would be disposed to go to the great banquet next Tuesday and sleep at Windsor. Kindly done of her–of course he declines. I read Herbert Spencer on “The Bias of Patriotism,” yesterday–much of it truly excellent. To-day I am at “Progress” in the Essays … of which I have read several here and there. Whenever I have the feeling that _I_, not Herbert Spencer, have written what I am reading, I have the delightful sensation of complete agreement and unqualified admiration of his (or _my_) wisdom. When I have _not_ that feeling, I stop to consider, but even then have sometimes the candour to come to his conclusions; while at some passages, less frequent, I inwardly exclaim, “I never did, I do not now, and I never shall agree.” The want of what Sir Henry Taylor calls “the spiritual instinct” is striking in him. It is strange to turn to him as I have done from “Memorials of a Quiet Life,” which raises me into an atmosphere of heavenly calmness and joy, or ought to do so, although nobody ever felt the trials and sorrows of life more keenly than Mrs. Hare….

Good-bye, dearest children, your pets [86] are as well and as dear as pets can be.

Your loving, MOTHER.

[86] Rachel and Bertrand, who stayed for the winter at Pembroke Lodge while their parents were abroad.

In April Lady Russell lost her sister, Lady Dunfermline, who died in Rome. In May, Lord and Lady Russell’s second son, who was dearly loved for his generous and noble nature, was seized with dangerous illness. He lived, but never recovered. In the summer, Lady Amberley and her little daughter Rachel, who was only six years old, died of diphtheria within a few days of each other.

There is a touching reference to Lord Russell in a letter, written many years after his death, from Miss Elliot, daughter of the Dean of Bristol, to Lady Russell.

One of the very last times I saw him you were out, and he sent word that he would see me when he knew I was at the door; when he literally bowed his head and said, “The hand of the Lord has been very heavy on us–very heavy,” and spoke of little Rachel. I never remember being more touched and awed by the reverence I felt for him.

_Queen Victoria to Lady Russell_ [87]

WINDSOR CASTLE, _June_ 29, 1874

DEAR LADY RUSSELL,–I cannot remain silent without writing to express to you my deep and sincere sympathy with you both, and especially with your poor son on this most sad event, which has deprived him of his wife, and his little children (whom I saw so lately) of an affectionate mother, in the very prime of life! I saw the sad announcement in the papers this morning and could hardly believe it, never having heard even of her illness. This sad event will, I know, be a terrible blow to you, and to Lord Russell, and I know that _you have_ had much sorrow and anxiety lately. Dear Lady Russell, I have known you both too long not to feel the truest and deepest interest in all that concerns you and yours–in weal and woe–and I would not delay a moment in writing to express this to you. You will, I know, look for support and for comfort where _alone_ it can be found, and I pray that God may support and comfort you and your poor bereaved son.

Ever yours affectionately,


I should be very grateful if you would let me have any details of poor Lady Amberley’s illness and death.

[87] On several occasions Lord Russell had been prevented by the state of his health from accepting invitations to Windsor. In April, 1874, he and Lady Russell were touched by the Queen’s kindness in coming to visit them at Pembroke Lodge, and she had then seen Lord Amberley’s children.

_Queen Victoria to Lady Russell_

WINDSOR CASTLE, _July_ 3, 1874

DEAREST LADY RUSSELL,–Your two sad and touching letters have affected me deeply, and I thank you much for writing to me. It is too dreadful that the dear little girl whose bright eyes and look of health I so well remember at Pembroke Lodge should also be taken. May God support your poor unhappy son, for whom your heart must bleed, and whose agony of grief and bereavement seems almost too much to bear. But if he will but trust our Father in Heaven, and feel all is sent in love, though he may have to go through months and years of the bitterest sufferings, and of anguish indescribable, he will find peace and resignation and comfort come at last–when it seems farthest. _I_ know this myself. For you, dear Lady Russell and dear Lord Russell, I do feel so deeply. Your trials have been so great lately…. I shall be really grateful if you would write to me again to say how Lord Russell bears this new blow, and how your poor son Amberley is. Agatha, who is so devoted a daughter, will, I am sure, do all she can now to help and comfort you, but she will be deeply distressed herself. And poor dear Lady Clarendon is dying I fear, and poor Emily Russell only just confined, and unable to go and see her. It is dreadful.

With fervent prayers that your health may not suffer, and that you may be mercifully supported.

Ever yours affectionately,


_Lord Russell to Lady Minto_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _July_ 3, 1874

MY DEAR NINA,–We are struck down by the death of my dear pet, Rachel, who was taken from us to stay with her parents at Ravenscroft. It was but too natural that Kate should wish to have her child with her, but the event is heart-breaking–such a darling, so bright, so pretty.

“Elle a dure ce que durent les roses, L’espace d’un matin.”

I am always touched by those French verses, and now I apply them tearfully.

Ever yours affectionately,


In the summer of 1874 Lord Russell took Aldworth, Tennyson’s beautiful home near Haslemere, where they remained for some months.

_Lady Russell to Lord Amberley_

ALDWORTH, HASLEMERE, _November_ 10, 1874

We have been going on in a happy humdrum way since I last wrote–humdrum as regards events, and all the happier that it should be so–but with no lack of delightful occupation and delightful conversation, and that intimate interchange of thought which makes home life so much fuller than society life. However, it would not do to go on long cut off from the world and its ways and from the blessing of the society of real friends, which unluckily can’t be had without intermixture of wearisome acquaintances.

Rollo’s reader is reading Molesworth’s “History of England for the last Forty Years,” and Agatha takes advantage and listens, and I read it by myself, and as your father knows it all without reading it and likes to be talked to about it, we have been living a good deal in the great events of that period, and we find it a relief to turn from the mazy though deeply interesting flood of metaphysics which this age pours upon the world, to facts and events which also have their philosophy, and a deep one too.

PEMBROKE LODGE, December 28, 1874

Finished “Life of Prince Albert.” It is seldom that a revelation of the inner life of Princes would raise the mind to a higher region than before–although we all know that they _have_ an inner and a real life through the tinsels and the trappings in which we see them. But this book can hardly fail to raise any mind, warm any heart, brace any soul. Would that we all, in all conditions of life, kept truth and duty ever before us, as he did even amid the pettinesses of a Court–the solemn trifles of etiquette which would have stifled the nobleness of a less noble nature. Would that all Princes had a Stockmar, [88] but there are not many Stockmars in the world; if there were, there would soon not be many Princes of the kind which now abounds, beings cut off from equality, friendship, freedom, by what in our supreme folly we call the “necessary” pomp and fetters of a Court. Noble as Prince Albert was, those things did him harm, and as Lady Lyttelton says, nobody but the organ knew what was in him…. The Queen appears in a charming light–truthfulness, humility, unbounded love for him.

[88] “One of the best friends of the Queen and the Prince Consort was Baron Stockmar. This old nobleman, who had known the English Court since the days of George III, and loved Prince Albert like a son, was a man of sturdy independence, fearlessly outspoken, and regarded with affectionate confidence both by Queen Victoria and her Consort.”–_Daily News_, May 7, 1910. This was what Lady Russell felt about him; his fearless outspokenness at Court always impressed her.

_Lady Russell to Lord Amberley_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _December_ 29, 1874

M. d’Etchegoyen [89] has given me Mill’s three essays. I have read “Nature,” a great deal of which I like much, but were it to be read by the inhabitant of some other planet, he would have a very false notion of this one; for Mill dwells almost entirely on the ugly and malevolent side of Nature, leaving out of sight the beautiful and benevolent side–whereas both abound, and suggest the notion of two powers at strife for the government of the world. If you bring the “Conscious Machine Controversy,” I may read it, although I feel very uncharitable to the hard, presumptuous unwisdom of some modern metaphysics.

[89] The Comte and Comtesse d’Etchegoyen (_nee_ Talleyrand) were intimate friends of Lord and Lady Russell. He was a French Republican, who had been obliged to leave Paris at the _Coup d’Etat_.

_Lady Russell to Lord Amberley_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _March_ 28, 1875

This is our Agatha’s birthday, and the spirit moves me to write to you. Every marked day, whether marked by sorrow or by joy, turns my heart, if possible, more than usual to you, and makes me feel more keenly how all the joy and perfect happiness once yours has been turned to bitter sorrow and desolation. I find it is far, far more difficult to bear grief for one’s children than for oneself, and sometimes my heart “has been like to break” as I have followed you in thought on your long and dreary journey, and remembered what your companionship was when last you went to the sunny South, to so many of the same places. You have indeed been sorely tried, my child, and you have not–would that I could give it to you–the one and only rock of refuge and consolation, of faith in the wisdom and mercy of a God of love. But I trust in Him for you, and I know that though clouds hide Him from your sight, He will care for you and not forsake you–and even here on earth I look forward to much peaceful happiness for you, in your children, in books, in nature, in duties zealously done, in the love and sympathy of many–“Mutter Treu ist ewig neu,” and that you may find some rest to your aching heart in that Mutter Treue, which is always hovering round you, wherever you are, and to which every day seems to add fresh strength and renewed longing to give you comfort, is my daily, nightly hope and prayer. May this letter find you well and cheerful and able to enjoy the loveliness of sea and sky and mountain; if so, I know it will not sadden you to get this drop out of the ocean of my thoughts about you–thoughts which the freshness of the wounds makes it intensely difficult for me to utter…. Kiss my two precious little boys and keep us in their memory. Is Bertrand as full of fun and merriment as he used to be? Poor pets! they look to you for all the tenderness of father and mother combined in order to be as happy as children ought to be. Give it them largely, my child, as it is in your nature to do…. God bless you all.

In August, 1875, Lady Russell notes in her diary that her husband had written a letter to the _Times_ giving his support to the Herzegovina insurgents. During the few years preceding 1876 he had become convinced that the days of Turkish misrule in the Christian provinces must be ended. [90] He frequently spoke with indignation of the systematic murders contrived by the Turkish Government and officials, and felt that the cause of the oppressed Christians deserved support, and that the time for upholding the rule of the Sultan as a cardinal principle in our policy had passed. He threw himself with the greatest heartiness into a movement for the aid of the insurgents. Though in his eighty-third year he was the first British statesman to break with the past and to bless the uprising of liberty in the near East. In the following letter, written from Caprera on September 17, 1875, the generous sympathy between him and Garibaldi found fresh expression.

[90] In 1874 he wrote that from Adrianople to Belgrade all government should be in the hands of the Christians.

MON ILLUSTRE AMI,–En associant votre grand nom au bien-faiteurs des Chretiens opprimes par le Gouvernement Turc, vous avez ajoute un bien precieux bijou a la couronne humanitaire qui ceint votre noble front. En 1860 votre parole sublime sonna en faveur des Rayahs Italiens, et l’Italie n’est plus une expression geographique. Aujourd’hui vous plaidez la cause des Rayahs Turcs, plus malheureux encore. C’est une cause qui vaincra comme la premiere, et Dieu benira vos vieux ans…. Je baise la main a votre precieuse epouse, et suis pour la vie votre devoue G. GARIBALDI. [91]

[91] “MY ILLUSTRIOUS FRIEND,–In associating your great name with the benefactors of the Christians oppressed by the Turkish Government, you have added a most precious jewel to the crown of humanity which encircles your noble brow. In 1860 your sublime word was spoken in favour of the Italian Rayahs, and Italy is no longer only a geographical expression. To-day you plead the cause of the Turkish Rayahs, even more unhappy. It is a cause which will conquer like the first, and God will bless your old age. I kiss the hand of your dear wife, and remain for life your devoted G. GARIBALDI.”

About a year later Lady Russell writes: “Great meetings at the Guildhall and Exeter Hall–fine spirit-stirring speech of Fawcett at the last. The feeling of the nation makes me proud, as it does to remember that John was the first to foresee the magnitude of the coming storm, when the first grumblings were heard in Herzegovina–the first to feel sympathy with the insurgents…. Many a nation may be roused to a sense of its own wrongs, but to see a whole people fired with indignation for the wrongs of another and a remote country, with no selfish afterthought, no possible prospect of advantage to what are called ‘British Interests,’ is grand indeed.”

The last entry calls to mind a passage by Mr. Froude in the Life of Lord Beaconsfield [92]:

“The spirit of a great nation called into energy on a grand occasion is one of the noblest of human phenomena. The pseudo-national spirit of Jingoism is the meanest and the most dangerous.”

[92] “Life of the Earl of Beaconsfield,” J.A. Froude, p. 251.

At the beginning of 1876 Lord Russell still retained so much health and vigour that his doctor spoke of him as being in some respects “like a man in the prime of life.” But another great sorrow now befell them. Their eldest son, Lord Amberley, died on January 9th. He was only thirty-three. In his short life he had shown great independence of mind and unusual ability. His two boys [93] now came to live permanently at Pembroke Lodge. Something of his character may be gathered from the following letter from Dr. Jowett, who had known him well at Oxford.

_Professor Jowett to Lady Russell_

_January_ 14, 1876

I am grieved to hear of the death of Lord Amberley; I read it by accident in the newspaper of yesterday. I fear it must be a terrible blow both to you and Lord Russell.

I will not intrude upon your sorrow, but I would like to tell you what I thought of him. He was one of the best men I ever knew–most truthful and disinterested. He was not of the world, and therefore not likely to be popular with the world. He had chosen a path which was very difficult, and could hardly have been carried out in practical politics. I think that latterly he saw this and was content to live seeking after the truth in the companionship of his wife, whose memory I shall always cherish. Some persons may grieve over them because they had not the ordinary hopes and consolations of religion. This does not add to my sorrow for them except in so far as it deprived them of sympathy and happiness while they were living. It must inevitably happen in these times, when everything is made the subject of inquiry with many good persons. God does not regard men with reference to their opinion about Himself or about a future world, but with reference to what they really are. In holding fast to truth and righteousness they held the greater part of what we mean by belief in God. No person’s religious opinions affect the truth either about themselves or others. One who said to me what I have said to you about your son’s remarkable goodness (while condemning his opinions) was Lady Augusta Stanley,[94] who herself, I fear, has not long to live.

[93] Frank (afterwards Earl Russell), who was then ten years old, and Bertrand, three years old.

[94] Wife of Dean Stanley.

_Dean Stanley (Dean of Westminster) to Lady Russell_

DEAR LADY RUSSELL,–Will you allow one broken heart to say a word of sympathy to another?–the life of my life is ebbing away–the hope of your life is gone. She, I trust, will find in the fountain of all Love the love in which she has trusted on earth. He, I trust, will find in the fountain of all Light the truth after which he sought on earth. May God help us both in His love.

Ever yours most truly,


_Queen Victoria to Lady Russell_

OSBORNE, _January_ 11, 1876

DEAR LADY RUSSELL,–My heart bleeds for you. A new and very heavy blow has fallen upon you, who were already so sorely tried! Most deep and sincere is my sympathy with you and Lord Russell, and I cannot say how I feel for you. It is so terrible to see one’s children go before one! You will be a mother to the orphans and the fatherless, as I know how kind and loving you were always to them.

Trusting that your health will not suffer, and asking you to remember me to Agatha, who will be a great comfort to you, as she has ever been, believe me always,

Yours affectionately,


In March they began once more to see their friends. “Seeing those I have not yet seen,” she writes, “is like meeting them after years–so changed is our world.”

PEMBROKE LODGE, _March_ 15, 1876

The dear old beech-tree in the wood blown down, and with it countless recollections of happy hours under its shade with merry boys climbing it above our heads, and little Agatha playing at our feet, and her elder sisters chatting with us and looking for nests and flowers. All, all gone. The bitter gales of sorrow have blown down our fair hopes and turned our joys to sorrow. Poor old beech-tree! Like us, it had lost its fair boughs; like it, we shall soon lay down our stripped and shattered stems.

PEMBROKE LODGE, _April_ 25, 1876

The loveliness of early spring–its nameless, countless tints, its music and its flowers, never went deeper into my soul–but oh! the happy springtide of life, where is that?

_Lady Russell to Lady Charlotte Portal_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _January 27_, 1877

Do not grieve too much over all our trials, dear Lotty. We have not long to bear them now, and all will be made clear by and by. All the sorrows of all the world will be seen in their true light, and tears will be wiped from all eyes for ever. I often think, though I try to drive away the thought, how unspeakably soothing and happy it would have been to look back upon blows as must fall to the lot of all who live long, instead of to a life of many strange and unexpected and terrible shocks of many kinds. But oftener, far oftener, I feel the brightness and blessedness of my lot; so bright and so blessed in many wonderful ways; and never, never at any moment would I have exchanged it for another. Dearest Lotty, your loving letter has brought all this upon you, and it shall go with all its selfishness to Laverstoke, and not into the fire, where I am inclined to put it…. God bless you, dear Lotty.

Your loving sister,


_Lady Russell to Lady Charlotte Portal_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _January_ 4, 1878

I am reading the third volume of Prince Albert, and love and admire him more and more–but am very angry with the book as regards John: the unfairness from omission of all particulars which he alone could have given with regard to his resignation on Roebuck’s motion, and his non-resignation after Vienna, is something I cannot forgive.

Early in this year, 1878, Lady Russell writes of a dinner-party at Lord Selborne’s:

Agatha and I dined in town, with the Selbornes. I between Lord Selborne and Gladstone, who was as usual most agreeable and most eloquent, giving life and fervour to conversation whatever was the subject. “The Eastern Question,” the “Life of Prince Albert,” the comedy of “Diplomacy,” the different degrees of “parliamentary courage” in different statesmen, etc. He said that in his opinion Sir Robert Peel, my husband, and, “I must give the devil his due,” Disraeli, were the three statesmen whom he had known who had the most “parliamentary courage.”

In the summer of 1877 Lord Russell had taken a house overlooking the sea near Broadstairs. But he was falling into a gradual decline, the consequence of great age, and after they came home from Broadstairs, he never again left Pembroke Lodge.

_Lady Russell to Lady Charlotte Portal_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _January_ 11, 1878

Do not think too much of the pain to me, but of the mercy of there being none to him, in this gradual extinction of a mind which gave light to so many, of affections which made home so happy. My worst pain is over–was over long ago–the pain of first acknowledging to myself my own loneliness, without the guide, the example, the support, which so long were mine–without those golden joys of perfect companionship which made the hours fly when we sat and talked together on many an evening of blessed memory, or strolled together among our trees and our flowers, or snatched a few moments together from his days and nights of noble toil in London. All this is over, all this and much more, but gratitude that it _has been_ remains, and the bright hope of a renewal of companionship hereafter gives strength and courage for present duties and passing trials.

Mr. George W.E. Russell, in the closing passage of an article on his uncle, [95] wrote of these last years of his life: “… Thus in peace and dignity that long life of public and private virtue neared its close; in a home made bright by the love of friends and children, and tended by the devotion of her who for more than five-and-thirty years had been the good angel of her husband’s house.”

[95] _Contemporary Review_, December, 1889.

PEMBROKE LODGE, _April_ 19, 1878

I have just been sitting with my dearest husband; he has said precious words such as I did not expect ever to hear from him, for his mind is seldom, very seldom clear. We were holding one another’s hands: “I hope I haven’t given you much trouble.” “How, dearest?” “In watching over me.” Then by and by he said, “I have made mistakes, but in all I did my object was the public good.” Again, “I have sometimes seemed cold to my friends–but it was not in my heart.” He said he had enjoyed his life. I said, “I hope you enjoy it now.” He said, “Yes, except that I am too much confined to my bed…. I’m very old–I’m eighty-five.” He then talked of his birthday being in July. I told him it was in August, but our wedding-day was in July, and it would be thirty-seven years next July since we were married. He said, “Oh, I’m so glad we’ve passed it so happily together.” I said I had not always been so good to him as I ought to have been. “Oh yes, you have, very good indeed.” At another moment he said, “I’m quite ready to go now.” Asked him where to? “To my grave, to my death.” He also said, “Do you see me sometimes placing my hands in this way?” (he was clasping them together). “That always means devotion–that I am asking God to be good to me.” His voice was much broken by tears as he said these things.

PEMBROKE LODGE, _April_ 20, 1878

Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone to tea. Both most cordial and kind. Mr. Gladstone in his most agreeable mood. Eastern Question only slightly touched. Other subjects: increase of drunkenness; Northumberland election, which has raised his spirits, whether Albert Grey be returned or not; Life of Prince Albert, whom he admires heartily, but who according to him (and John) did not understand the British Constitution. Called Stockmar a “mischievous old prig.” Said “Liberty is never safe,” that even in this country an unworthy sovereign might endanger her even now. John sent down to say he wished to see them. I took them to him for a few minutes–happily he was clear in his mind–and said to Mr. Gladstone, “I’m sorry you are not in the Ministry,” and kissed her affectionately, and was so cordial to both that they were greatly touched.

PEMBROKE LODGE, _May_ 9, 1878

Great day. Nonconformist deputation presented address to John on the fiftieth anniversary of Repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts. Alas! that he could not see them. All cordial and friendly, and some with strikingly good countenances. Edmond Fitzmaurice happened to call, stayed, and spoke admirably. Lord Spencer also called just before they came to congratulate him, but I stupidly did not think of asking him to stay. Those of the deputation who spoke did so extremely well. It was a proud and a sad day. We had hoped some time ago that he might perhaps see the deputation for a moment in his room, but he was too ill for that to be possible.

Lord Russell died on May 28, 1878, at Pembroke Lodge.

_Queen Victoria to Lady Russell_

BALMORAL, _May_ 30, 1878

DEAR LADY RUSSELL,–It was only yesterday afternoon I learnt through the papers that your dear husband had left this world of sorrows and trials peacefully, and full of years, the night before, or I would have telegraphed or written sooner! You will believe that I truly regret an old friend of forty years’ standing, and whose personal kindness in trying and anxious times I shall _ever_ remember. “Lord John,” as I knew him best, was one of my first and most distinguished Ministers, and his departure recalls many eventful times. To you, dear Lady Russell, who were ever one of the most devoted of wives, this must be a terrible blow, though you must have for some time been prepared for it. But one is such trials and sorrows of late years that I most truly sympathize with you. Your dear and devoted daughter will, I know, be the greatest possible comfort to you, and I trust that your grandsons will grow up to be all that you could wish.

Believe me always, yours affectionately,


_Mr. John Bright to Lady Russell_

_June_ 1, 1878

DEAR LADY RUSSELL,–… What I particularly observed in the public life of Lord John–you once told me you liked his former name and title–was a moral tone, a conscientious feeling, something higher and better than is often found in the guiding principle of our most active statesmen, and for this I always admired and reverenced him. His family may learn from him, his country may and will cherish his memory. You alone can tell what you have lost….

Ever very sincerely yours,


_Lady Minto to Lady Russell_

_June_ 4, 1878

I have been thinking of you all day, and indeed through many hours of the night…. I rather wished to hear that the Abbey was to have been his resting place–but after all it matters little since his abiding place is in the pages of English history…. What none could thoroughly appreciate except those who lived in his intimacy was the perfect simplicity which made him the most easily amused of men, ready to pour out his stores of anecdote to old and young–to discuss opinions on a level with the most humble of interlocutors, and take pleasure in the commonest forms of pleasantness–a fine day, a bright flower. Nor do I think that the outside world understood from what depth of feeling the tears rose to his eyes when tales of noble conduct or any high sentiment touched some responsive chord–nor how much “poetic fire” lay under that _calm,_ not cold manner…. I remember often going down to you when London was full of some political anger against him–when personalities and bitterness were rife–and returning _from_ you with the feeling of having been in another world, so entire was the absence of such bitterness, so gentle and peaceful were the impressions I carried away.

Lady Russell went with her family early in July to St. Fillans, in Perthshire, for a few months of perfect quiet among the Scotch lakes and mountains. Queen Victoria’s kindness in asking her to remain at Pembroke Lodge was a great comfort to her.

_Lady Russell to Lady Charlotte Portal_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _June_ 30, 1878

Just a word with you, my own Lotty, before leaving home. Oh the blessing of being still able to call it home, darkened for ever as it is, for the multiplying memories with which it is thronged make it dearer as well as sadder every day of my life! Lotty, shall I ever believe that he has left me, quite left me, never to return? Will the fearful silence ever cease to startle me? Whenever I came in from a walk or a drive I used to know almost before I opened his door, by the sound of his voice, or of _something,_ whether all was well with him, and now there is only that deadly silence. And yet, I often feel if I had but courage to go in, surely I _must_ find him, surely he _must_ be waiting for me and wanting me. But how foolish to talk of any _one_ form of this unutterable blank, which meets me at every turn, intertwined with everything I say or do, and taking a new shape every moment, and the yearning and the aching which have been my portion for four years–the yearning for my other lost loved ones, for my dear, dear boys, seems more terrible than ever now that this too has come upon me…. I pass my husband’s sitting-room window–there are the roses he loved so well, hanging over them in all their summer beauty, but he does not call me to give him one. I come in, and there on the walls of my room are pictures of the three, but not one of them answers me–silence, nothing but deadly silence! I know all is well, and I feel in my inmost heart that this last sorrow is a blessed one, saving us from far worse, and taking him to his rest, and I never for a moment forget what treasures beyond price are left to my old age still.



Lady Russell survived her husband nearly twenty years. From the time of Lord Russell’s death in May, 1878, till 1890, she kept no diary, but not long before her death she wrote for her children a few recollections of some of the events during those twelve years.

In May, 1880, Lady Victoria Villiers died, leaving a widowed husband and many children. Her death was a great sorrow to Lady Russell, who wrote of her as “a perfect wife and mother.”

In the summer of 1883 her son Rollo bought a place–Dunrozel–near Haslemere, and from this time till 1891 Lady Russell spent a few months every year at Dunrozel.[96] In 1891 and 1892 she took a house on Hindhead–some miles from Haslemere–for a few months. She enjoyed and loved the beautiful wild heather country, which reminded her of Scotland, but after 1892 she felt that home was best for her, and never again left Pembroke Lodge.

[96] They named it Dunrozel after Rozel in Normandy, supposed to be the original home of the Russells.

In 1885 the marriage of her son Rollo to Miss Alice Godfrey was a great happiness to her. But in little more than a year, soon after the birth of a son, Mrs. Rollo Russell died, and again Lady Russell suffered deeply, for she always found the sorrows of her children harder to bear than her own.

To retire more and more from the world of many engagements and important affairs was easy to her, easier than it proves to many who have figured there with less distinction. Playing a prominent part in that world does not make people happy; but, as a rule, it prevents them from being contented with anything else. It was not so with her; in the days most crowded with successes and excitements her thoughts kept flying home. She had always felt that a quiet, busy family life was the one most natural to her. When she was a girl at Minto, helping to educate her younger brothers and sisters, she had written in her diary:

_August_ 26, 1836

Chiefly unto children, O Lord, do I feel myself called; in them I see Thy image reflected more pure than in anything else in this sinful though beautiful world, and in serving them my love to Thee increases.

Her wish was fulfilled to an unusual degree. One of a large family of brothers and sisters, she was still helping in the education of the younger ones when she married, and her marriage at once brought her the care of a young family; soon, too, children of her own; while her old age brought her the charge of successive grandchildren. During the lifetime of Lord and Lady Amberley their children often spent many months at Pembroke Lodge while their parents were abroad, and when both father and mother had died the two boys came to live with their grandparents. Ten years later her youngest son’s boy was brought to her on the day of his mother’s death, when he was two months old, and remained with her till her son’s second marriage in 1891. The children of her stepdaughters were also loving grandchildren to her, and often came for long visits to Pembroke Lodge.

Lady Russell had sometimes thought that when days of leisure came, she would give some of her time to literary work, and write reminiscences of the many interesting men and women she had known and the stirring events she had lived through; but the unexpected and daily cares and duties which came upon her made this impossible. [97] She was one who would never neglect the living needs of those around her, and she gave her time and thoughts to the care of her grandchildren with glad and loving devotion.

[97] The only book Lady Russell published was “Family Worship”; a small volume of selections from the Bible and prayers for daily use. It was first published in 1876.

One of her greatest pleasures was to see her own ideals and enthusiasms reflected in the young; and next to the care of her family the prosperity of the village school at Petersham was perhaps nearest her heart. It grew and flourished through her devotion. In 1891 it was generously taken over by the British and Foreign School Society, but the change made no difference to her interest nor to the time she gave to it. The warm affection of the people of Petersham was a great happiness to her; after long illness and enforced absence from the village she wrote to her daughter: “You can’t think what good it did me to see a village friend again.”

The feeling among the villagers may be gathered from two brief passages in letters written after her death: a gardener in Petersham alluded to her as “our much-loved friend, Countess Russell,” and another man–who had been educated at Petersham School–wrote: “She was really like a mother to many of we ‘Old Scholars.'”

Lady Russell’s letters will show that her interest in politics remained as keen as ever to the end; and she eagerly watched the changes which affected Ireland. To the end of her life she retained the fervour of her youthful Radicalism, and with advancing years her religious opinions became more and more broad. To her there was no infallibility in any Bible, any prophet, any Church. With an ever-deepening reverence for the life and teaching of Jesus, she yet felt that “The highest Revelation is not made by Christ, but comes directly from the Universal Mind to our minds.” [98] Her last public appearance in Richmond was at the opening of the new Free Church, on April 16, 1896, which she had joined some years before as being the community holding views nearer to her own than any other.

[98] Rev. F.W. Robertson, of Brighton. Sermons, 1st Series.

There is a side of Lady Russell’s mind which her letters do not adequately represent. She was a great reader, and in her letters (written off with surprising rapidity) she does not often say much about the books she was so fond of discussing in talk. Among novelists, Sir Walter Scott was perhaps the one she read most often; Jane Austen too was a favourite; but she also much enjoyed many of the later novelists, especially Charles Dickens and George Eliot.

In poetry her taste was in some respects the taste of an earlier generation; she could not join, for instance, in the depreciation of Byron, nor could she sympathize with the unbounded admiration for Keats which she met with among the young. Milton, Cowper, Burns, Byron, and Longfellow were among those oftenest read, but Shakespeare always remained supreme, and as the years went by her wonder and admiration seemed only to grow stronger and deeper with every fresh reading of his greatest plays; and the intervals without some Shakespeare reading, either aloud or to herself, were short and rare. She had not an intimate knowledge of Shelley, but in the later years of her life she became deeply impressed by the beauty and music of his poetry, which she liked best to hear read aloud.

Tennyson she loved, and latterly also Browning, with protests against his obscurity and his occasionally most unmusical English. The inspiration of his brave and optimistic philosophy she felt strongly. She was extremely fond of reading Dante, and she was better acquainted with German and Italian poetry than most cultivated women. But though she read much and often in the works of famous writers, this did not prevent her keeping abreast with the literature of the day. She was strongly attracted by speculative books, not too technical, and by the works of theologians whose views were broad and tolerant of doubt. In 1847 she mentions reading some of Dr. Channing’s writings “with the greatest delight”; and some years afterwards she wrote: “Began ‘Life of Channing’; interesting in the highest degree–an echo of all those high and noble thoughts of which this earth is not yet worthy, but which I firmly believe will one day reign on it supreme.” In later years she was deeply impressed by the writings of Dr. Martineau, and read many of his books. But she was not interested in philosophical inquiry for its own sake; it was the importance of the moral and religious issues at stake in such discussions that attracted her. History and biography it was natural she should read eagerly, and it was characteristic of her to praise and condemn actions long past with an intensity such as is usually excited by contemporary events. Until a few years before her death she rose early to secure a space of time for reading and meditation before the duties of the day began. Unless ill-health could be pleaded, fiction and light reading were banished from the morning hours. She believed in strict adherence to such self-imposed sumptuary regulations, whether they applied to the body or to the pleasures of the mind.

In the course of her long life she became personally acquainted with nearly all the principal writers of the Victorian era, and some of them she knew well.

Among the earliest friends of Lord and Lady John Russell were Sydney Smith, Thomas Moore, and Macaulay. There is a note in verse written by Lady John to Samuel Rogers, which will serve at least to suggest how readily her fancy and good spirits might run into rhyme on the occasion of some family rejoicing or for a children’s play.

_To Mr. Rogers, who was expected to breakfast and forgot to come_


When a poet a lady offends
Is it prose her forgiveness obtains? And from Rogers can less make amends
Than the humblest and sweetest of strains?

In glad expectation our board
With roses and lilies we graced; But alas! the bard kept not his word, He came not for whom they were placed.

Sad and silent our toast we bespread, At the empty chair looked we and sighed; All insipid tea, butter, and bread,
For the salt of his wit was denied.

Now in wrath we acknowledge how well He the “Pleasures of Memory” who drew, For mankind from his magical shell
Gives the “Pains of Forgetfulness” too.

Rogers wrote in answer:–

CARA, CARISSIMA, CRUDELISSIMA,–If such is to be the reward for my transgressions, what crimes shall I not commit before I die? I shall shoot Victoria to-day, and Louis Philippe to-morrow.

But to be serious, I am at a loss how to thank you as I ought. How I lament that I have hung my harp upon the willow!

Yours ever,


In later years Thackeray and Charles Dickens were welcome guests, and the cordial friendship between Lord and Lady John and Dickens lasted till his death in 1870. Dickens said in a speech at Liverpool in 1869 that “there was no man in England whom he respected more in his public capacity, loved more in his private capacity, or from whom he had received more remarkable proofs of his honour and love of literature than Lord John Russell.”

Among poets, Tennyson and Browning were true friends; Longfellow also visited Pembroke Lodge, and impressed Lady Russell by his gentle and spiritual nature; and Lowell was one of her most agreeable guests. With Sir Henry Taylor, whose “Philip van Artevelde” she admired, the intercourse was, from her youth to old age, intimate and affectionate.

Mr. Lecky, a faithful friend, gave a picture of the society at Pembroke Lodge, which may be quoted here:

For some years after Lord Russell’s retirement from ministerial life he gathered around him at Pembroke Lodge a society that could hardly be equalled–certainly not surpassed–in England. In the summer Sunday afternoons there might be seen beneath the shade of those majestic oaks nearly all that was distinguished in English politics, and much that was distinguished in English literature, and few eminent foreigners visited England without making a pilgrimage to the old statesman. [99]

[99] “Life of Lord John Russell,” by Stuart J. Reid, p. 351.

Mr. Frederic Harrison was one of Lady Russell’s best friends in the last years of her life, and her keen interest in the Irish Question brought her into close and intimate intercourse with Mr. Justin McCarthy, who knew her so well in these days of busy and sequestered old age that his recollections, given in the last chapter of this volume, are valuable.

Among the men of science she knew best were Sir Richard Owen, a near neighbour in Richmond Park, Sir Joseph Hooker, and Professor Tyndall, one of the most genial and delightful of her guests.

There is a passage in Sir Henry Taylor’s autobiography which speaks of her in earlier times, but it expresses an impression she made till her death on many who met her:

I have been rather social lately, … and went to a party at Lord John Russell’s, where I met the Archbishop of York…. A better meeting was with Lady Lotty Elliot, the one of the Minto Elliots who is now about the age that her elder sisters were when I first knew them some sixteen or eighteen years ago…. They are a fine set of girls and women, those Minto Elliots, full of literature and poetry and nature; and Lady John, whom I knew best in former days, is still very attractive to me; and now that she is relieved from the social toils of a First Minister’s wife, I mean to renew and improve my relations with her, if she has no objection…. She is very interesting to me, as having kept herself pure from the world with a fresh and natural and not ungifted mind in the world’s most crowded ways. I recollect some years ago going through the heart of the City, somewhere behind Cheapside, to have come upon a courtyard of an antique house, with grass and flowers and green trees growing as quietly as if it was the garden of a farm-house in Northumberland. Lady John reminds me of it.

The charm of her company, apart from the kindliness of her manner, lay in an immediate responsiveness to all that was going on around her, and the sense her talk and presence conveyed of a life controlled by a homely, dignified, strenuous tradition. It was the spontaneity of her sympathy which all her life long drew to her defenders, dispirited or hopeful, of struggling causes, and so many idealists, confident or resigned, shabby or admired. Any with a cause at heart, an end to aim at beyond personal ends, found in her a companion who seemed at once to understand how bitter were the checks or how important the triumphs they had met, and to them her company was a singular refreshment and inspiration, amid the polite or undisguised indifference of the world. She could listen with ardour; and if this sympathy was there for comparative strangers, still more was it at the service of those who possessed her affection. She reflected instantaneously their joys and troubles; indeed, she made both so much her own that those she loved were often tempted at first to hide their troubles from her. Such natures cannot usually disguise their emotions, and though she could conceal her own physical sufferings so as almost to mislead those with whom she lived, her feelings were plainly legible. If anything was said in her presence which pained her, her distress was visible in a moment; and as a beautiful consequence of this transparent expressiveness, her gaiety was infectious and her affection shone out upon those she loved with tenderest radiance.

* * * * *

After Lord Russell’s death political events can no longer be used as a thread to connect her letters and other writings together; but the following passages, chosen over many years, will, it is hoped, give to those who never knew her some idea of her as she is remembered by those who did.

On Lady Georgiana Peel’s first birthday after the death of her father Lady Russell sent her the following verses:


_For her Birthday, February 6, 1879._

TUNE: _”Lochnagar.”_

What music so early, so gently awakes me, And why as I listen these fast falling tears; And what is the magic that so swiftly takes me Far back on my road, o’er the dust of dead years?

Voice of the past, in thy sweetness and sadness Thy magic enthralling, thy beauty and power, Oh voice of the past! in thy deep holy sadness, I know thee and yield to thee one little hour.

Once more rings the birthday with merry young laughter, Our bairnies once more are around us at play; Their little hearts reck not of what may come after, As lightly they weave the fresh flowers of to-day.

Now to thy father’s loved hand gaily clinging, To ask for the kiss he stoops fondly to gi’e; To his care-laden spirit once more thou art bringing The freshness of thine, bonny winsome wee Gee![100]

Thy rosy young cheek to my own thou art pressing, Thy little arms twining around me I feel. And thy Father in Heaven to thank for each blessing, I see thee beside me in innocence kneel.

When the dread shadow of sickness is o’er me, I see thee, a lassie all brightness and bloom; Still, still through thy tears strewing blossoms before me, Still watching beside me through silence and gloom.

* * * * *

Hushed now is the music! and hushed be my weeping For days that return not and light that hath fled. No more from their rest may I summon the sleeping, Or linger to gaze on the years that are dead.

Fadeth my dream–and my day is declining, But love lifts the gloamin’ and smooths the rough way; And I hail the bright midday o’er thee that is shining, And think of a home that will ne’er pass away.

[100] The name she was called by in her childhood.

Early in 1879 Lady Russell began again to have more intercourse with her friends in London, and in May she went with her son and daughter to the Alexandra Hotel for a short stay in town. She writes in her Recollections:

In May (1879) we spent ten days at the Alexandra Hotel, in the midst of many kind friends and acquaintances. It was strange to be once more in “the crowd, the hum, the shock of men” as of old–and all so changed, so solitary within…. We there first saw Mr. Justin McCarthy–he has since become a true friend, and his companionship and conversation are always delightful; as with so warm a heart and so bright an intellect they could not fail to be.

In April, 1880, when Mr. Gladstone’s candidature in Midlothian was causing the greatest excitement and enthusiasm, Lady Russell received this letter from Mrs. Gladstone.

120, GEORGE STREET, EDINBURGH, _April_ 4, 1880

MY DEAR LADY RUSSELL,–We are so much touched by your letter and all the warmth and kindness you have shown to ourselves and Mary and Herbert. How can I thank you enough? I see in your letter all the memories of the past, and that you can throw your kind heart into the present moment lovingly. The old precious memories only make you more alive to what is going on, as you think of _him_ who had gone before and shown so noble an example to my husband. No doubt it did not escape you, words of my husband about Lord Russell…. All here goes on splendidly; the enthusiasm continues to increase, and all the returns have thrown us into a wild state of ecstasy and thankfulness. It is, indeed, a blessing passing all expectations, and I look back to all the time of anxiety beginning with the Bulgarian horrors, all my husband’s anxious hard work of the past three or four years–how he was ridiculed and insulted–and now, thank God, we are seeing the extraordinary result of the elections, and listening to the goodness and greatness of the policy so shamefully slandered; righteous indignation has burst forth…. I loved to hear him saying aloud some of the beautiful psalms of thanksgiving as his mind became overwhelmed with gratitude and relieved with the great and good news. Thank you again and again for your letter.

Yours affectionately,


_Sir Mount Stuart Grant Duff [101] to Lady Russell_

_June_ 8, 1883

As to the public questions at home–alas! I can say nothing but echo what you and some other wise people tell me. One is far too much _out_ of the whole thing. I do not fear the Radical, I greatly fear the Radical, or crotchet-monger…. Your phrase about the division on the Affirmation Bill [102] rises to the dignity of a _mot,_ and will be treasured by me as such. “The triumph of all that is worst in the name of all that is best.”

[101] At that time Governor of Madras.

[102] In the April of 1881 Gladstone gave notice of an Affirmation Bill, to enable men like Mr. Bradlaugh to become members of Parliament without taking an oath which implied a belief in a Supreme Being. But it was not till 1883 that the Bill was taken up. On April 26th Gladstone made one of his most lofty and fervid speeches in support of the Bill, which, however, was lost by a majority of three.

_Lady Russell to Lady Agatha Russell_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _June,_ 1883

… I have been regaling myself on Sydney Smith’s Life and Letters–the wisdom and the wit, the large-hearted and wide-minded piety, the love of God and man set forth in word and deed, and the unlikeness to anybody else, make it delightful companionship…. I long to talk of things deep and high with you, but if I once began I should go on and on, and “of writing of letters there would be no end.” That is a grand passage of Hinton’s [on music]. I always feel that music means much more than just music, born of earth–joy and sorrow, agony and rapture, are so mysteriously blended in its glorious magic.

_Lady Russell’s Recollections_

In July, 1883, I went with Agatha to see Dunrozel for the first time … I was simply enchanted–it was love at first sight, which only deepened year after year…. We had a good many pleasant neighbours; the Tennysons were more than pleasant, and welcomed us with the utmost cordiality, and we loved them all.

At that time Professor Tyndall and Louisa [103] were almost the only inhabitants of Hindhead. They were not yet in their house, but till it was built and furnished lived in their “hut,” where they used to receive us with the most cheering, as well as cheerful, friendliness.

[103] Mrs. Tyndall.

_Lady Russell to Miss Lilian Blyth_ [104] _[Mrs. Wilfred Praeger]_

DUNROZEL, HASLEMERE, _November_ 16, 1883

Your letter is just like you, and that means all that is dear and good and loving…. Indeed, past years are full of happy memories of you all, not on marked days only, but on all days. At my age, however, it is better to look forward to the renewal of all earthly ties and all earth’s best joys in an enduring home, than to look back to the past–to the days before the blanks were left in the earthly home which nothing here below can ever fill, and this it is my prayer and my constant endeavour to do. We go home to dear Pembroke Lodge next Tuesday … going there must always be a happiness to us all, yet this lovely little Dunrozel is not a place to leave without many a pang.

[104] Daughter of the Rev. F.C. Blyth, for many years curate at Petersham.

_Lady Russell to Miss Buehler_ [105]

PEMBROKE LODGE, _December_, 1883

… I find my head will not bear more than a certain amount of writing without giddiness and dull headache … and there are so _many_ correspondents who must be answered; friends, relations, business people, that I am often quite bewildered; … so, please, understand that I shall always write _when I can_, but not nearly always when I _would like_ to do so. Go on letting yourself out whether sadly or happily, or in mingled sadness and happiness, and believe how very much I like to see into your thoughts and your heart as much as letters can enable me to do so…. As for Scotland, oh! Scotland, my own, my bonny Scotland! if you associate that best and dearest of countries with your present _ennui_ and unhappiness, I shall turn my back upon you for good and all and give you up as a bad job! So make haste and tell me that you entirely separate the two things, and if you don’t admire “mine own romantic town” and feel its beauty thrill through and through you, you must find the cause in anything rather than in Edinburgh itself! Such are my commands…. In the meantime let it be a consolation and a support to you to remember that it is by trials and difficulties that our characters are raised, developed, strengthened, made more Christ-like…. Good-bye, good-bye. God bless you.

[105] Miss Buehler (who died some years ago) had been governess to Lady Russell’s grandson Bertrand. She was Swiss, and only nineteen when she came, and Lady Russell gave her motherly care and affection.

_Lady Russell to Sir Henry Taylor_

_February_ 29, 1884

I have just been reading with painful interest “Memoires d’un Protestant condamne aux Galeres” in the days of that terribly little great man Louis XIV. I ask myself at every page, “Did man really so treat his fellow-man? or is it all historical nightmare?” I never can make the slightest allowance for persecutors on the ground that “they thought it right to persecute.” They had no business so to think.

_Mr. Gladstone to Lady Russell_

_December_ 14, 1884

I thank you for and return Dr. Westcott’s interesting and weighty letter…. A very clever man, a Bampton lecturer, evidently writing with good and upright intention, sends me a lecture in which he lays down the qualities he thinks necessary to make theological study fruitful. They are courage, patience, and sympathy. He omits one quality, in my opinion even more important than any of them, and that is reverence. Without a great stock of reverence mankind, as I believe, will go to the bad….

During the strife and heat of the controversy on Home Rule, Lady Russell received the following letter from Mr. Gladstone:


_June_ 10, 1886

MY DEAR LADY RUSSELL,–I am not less gratified than touched by your most acceptable note. It is most kind in you personally to give me at a critical time the assurance of your sympathy and approval. And I value it as a reflected indication of what would, I believe, have been the course, had he been still among us, of one who was the truest disciple of Mr. Fox, and was like him ever forward in the cause of Ireland, a right handling of which he knew lay at the root of all sound and truly Imperial policy. It was the more kind of you to write at a time when domestic trial has been lying heavily upon you. Believe me,

Very sincerely yours,


_Lady Russell to Lady Agatha Russell_

DUNROZEL, HASLEMERE, _August_ 30, 1886

… Our Sunday, mine especially, was a peaceful, lovely Sabbath–mine especially because I didn’t go to any church built with hands, but held my silent, solitary worship in God’s own glorious temple, with no walls to limit my view, no lower roof than the blue heavens over my head. The lawn, the green walk, the Sunday bench in the triangle, each and all seemed filled with holiness and prayer–sadness and sorrow. Visions of more than one beautiful past which those spots have known and which never can return, were there too; but the Eternal Love was around to hallow them….

_Lady Russell to Miss Buehler_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _November_ 24, 1886

MY DEAREST DORA,–I am afraid you will say that I have forgotten you and your most loving and welcome birthday letter, but as I know you will not _think_ it, I don’t so very much mind. Nobody at seventy-one and with many still to love and leave on earth, can hail a birthday with much gladness…. The _real_ sadness to me of birthdays, and of all marked days, is in the bitterly disappointing answer I am obliged to make to myself to the question: “Am I nearer to God than a year ago?” … I never answered your long-ago letter about your doubts and difficulties and speculations on those subjects which are of deepest import to us all, yet upon which it sometimes seems that we are doomed to work our minds in vain–to seek, and _not_ to find–to exult one moment in the fullness of bright hope and the coming fulfilment of our highest aspirations, and the next to grope in darkness and say, “Was it not a beautiful dream, and only a dream? Is it not too good to be true that we are the children of a loving Father who stretches out His hands to guide us to Himself, who has spoken to us in a thousand ways from the beginning of the world by His wondrous works, by the unity of creation, by the voices of our fellow-creatures, by that voice, most inspired of all, that life and death most beautiful and glorious of all, which ‘brought life and immortality to light,’ and chiefly by that which we feel to be immortal within us–_love_–the beginning and end of God’s own nature, the supreme capability which He has breathed into our souls?” No, it is _not_ too good to be true. Nothing perishes–not the smallest particle of the most worthless material thing. Is immortality denied to the one thing most worthy of it?

I sent you “The Utopian,” because I thought some of the little essays would fall in with all that filled your mind, and perhaps help you to a spirit of hopefulness and confidence which _will_ come to you and abide with you, I am sure. You will soon receive another book written by several Unitarians, of which I have only read very little as yet, but which seems to me full of strength and comfort and holiness…. Good-bye, and God bless you.

Your ever affectionate,


_Lady Charlotte Portal to Lady Russell_

_January_ 26, 1887

DEAREST FANNY,–I wonder if you are quite easy in your conscience, or whatever mechanism takes the place with you of that rococo old article. Do you think you have behaved to me as an elder ought?–to me, a poor young thing, looking for and sadly requiring the guidance of my white-headed sister? Our last communications were at Christmas-time–a month ago. Are you all well? Are you all entirely at the feet of the dear baby boy? [106] Or have your republican principles begun to rebel against his autocratic sway? … I have been amusing myself with an obscure author named William Shakespeare, and enjoying him _immensely_. Amusing myself is not the right expression, for I have been in the tragedies only. I had not read “Othello” for ages. How wonderful, great, and beautiful and painful it is (oh dear, why is it so coarse?). Then I also read “Lear” and “Henry VIII,” and being delightfully ignorant I had the great interest of reading the same period (Henry VIII) in Holinshed, and in finding Katharine’s and Wolsey’s speeches there! Then I have tried a little Ben Jonson and Lord Chesterfield’s letters. What a worldling, and what a destroyer of a young mind that man was. Can you tell me how the son turned out? I cannot find any information about him. The language is delightful, and I wish I could remember any of his expressions…. Now give me a volume of Pembroke Lodge news in return for this. Public matters, the fear of war, the arming of all nations, make me sick at heart. How wonderful and admirable the conduct of that poor friendless little Bulgaria has been. Then Ireland, oh me! but on that topic I won’t write to the Home Ruler!

Your affectionate sister,


[106] Arthur, son of Mr. Rollo Russell.

_Lady Russell to Lady Charlotte Portal_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _January_ 27, 1887

DEAREST LOTTY,–It was but yesterday that there rose dimly to my memory the vision of a lady with the initials–C.M.P., and who knows how long I might have remained in the dark as to who and what she might be but for this letter, in which she claims me as a sister! and moreover an elder and a wiser sister! one therefore whose doings and not-doings, writing and not-writing, must not be questioned by the younger….

We have imagined ourselves living in a state of isolation from our fellow-creatures, but yours far exceeds ours and makes it almost into a life of gaiety. I’m most extremely sorry to hear of it, though most extremely glad to hear that your minds to you a kingdom are. What good and wholesome and delightful food _your_ mind has been living on. Isn’t that Shakespeare too much of a marvel to have really been a man? “Othello” is indeed all you say of it, and more than anybody can say of it, and so are _all_ the great plays. I am reading the historical ones with Bertie…. Alas, indeed, for the coarseness! I never can understand the objections to Bowdlerism. It seems to me so right and natural to prune away what can do nobody good–what it pains eyes to look upon and ears to hear–and to leave all the glories and beauties untouched…. The little Autocrat is beginning to master some of the maxims of Constitutional Monarchy–for instance, to find out that we do not always leave the room the moment he waves his hand by way of dismissal and utters the command of “Tata.” I waste too much time upon him, in spite of daily resolutions to neglect him…. I don’t at all know whether Lord Chesterfield succeeded in making his son like his own clever, worldly, contemptible self, but will try to find out. _Have_ you read “Dean Maitland”? [107] Now, Fanny, do stop, you know you have many other letters to write….

Ever thine,


[107] “The Silence of Dean Maitland,” by Maxwell Grey.

_Lady Russell to Lady Georgiana Peel_

DUNROZEL, HASLEMERE, SURREY, _September_ 9 [1887]

… Your account of the Queen and her visit interested us much…. I often wish she could ever know all my gratitude to her and the nation for the unspeakable blessing and happiness Pembroke Lodge has been, and is; joys and sorrows, hopes fulfilled, and hopes faded and crushed, chances and changes, and memories unnumbered, are sacredly bound up with that dear home. Will it ever be loved by others as we have loved it? It seems impossible….

_Lady Russell to Lady Charlotte Portal_

DUNROZEL, HASLEMERE, _September_ 12, 1887

DEAREST LOTTY,–I don’t think I am writing because your clock is on the stroke of Sixty-three, for these clocks of ours become obtrusive, and the less they are listened to the better for our spirits. I wonder whether it’s wrong and unnatural not to rejoice in their rapid movements as regards myself. I often think so. There is so much, or rather there are so many, oh, so many! to go to when it has struck for the last time, and the longing and the yearning to be with them is so unspeakable–and yet, dear Lotty, I cling to those here, not less and less, but more and more, as the time for leaving them draws nearer. God grant you many and many another birthday of happiness, as I trust this one is to you and your home…. Your letter was an echo of much that we had been saying to one another, as we read our novel–not only does nobody, man or even woman, see every change and know its meaning in the human countenance, and interpret rightly the slight flush, the hidden tremor, the shade of pallor, the faint tinge, etc.; but we don’t think there _are_ perceptible changes to such an extent except in novels…. I think a great evil of novels for girls, mingled with great good, is the false expectation they raise that _somebody_ will know and understand their every thought, look, emotion…. How glad I am that you have a rival baby to worship–ours is beyond all praise–oh, so comical and so lovely in all his little ways and words….

Your most affectionate sister,


_Lady Russell to Lady Georgiana Peel_

PEMBROKE LODGE, _November_ 28, 1887

… We have been having such a delightful visit from Lotty … we _did_ talk; and yet it seems as if all the talk had only made me wish for a great deal more. Books and babies and dress and almsgiving and amusements and the nineteenth century, its merits and its faults, high things and low things, and big things and trifles, and sense and nonsense, and everything except Home Rule, on which we don’t agree and couldn’t spare time to fight. We did thoroughly agree, however, as I think people of all parties must have done, in admiration of a lecture, or rather speech, made at our school by a very good and clever Mr. Wicksteed, a Nonconformist (I believe Unitarian) minister on Politics and Morals. The principle on which he founded it was that politics are a branch of morals; accordingly he placed them on as high a level as any other duty of life, and spoke with withering indignation of the too common practice, and even theory, that a little insincerity, a little trickery, is allowable in politics, whereas it would not be in other matters. [108] We were all delighted.