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Lady John Russell

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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

_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

_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

_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

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

_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

_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

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

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

[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

_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] "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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

* * * * *

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

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,

[103] Mrs. Tyndall.

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

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

_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

_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.

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