Saturday, December 26, 2009

25Apr1868, Duke Shot by Fenian

LONDON, April 25th, 1868.
—Dined at the D. of Cleveland's. A horrible thing has happened : the Duke of Edinburgh while at a charity picnic at Sydney in Austr. was shot in the back by a Fenian scoundrel, but is mercifully not dangerously hurt. As a makeweight the Prince and Princess of Wales left Ireland in a blaze of enthusiasm to-day, which has gone crescendo ever since they landed.

I sat at dinner between young Lord Joscelyn (a nice, handsome creature) and Lord Clarendon, who was immensely entertaining, giving me an account of his interview with the Pope this winter. He appears to have "upped" and advised the Pope to enter upon negotiations with the King, assuring him his spiritual power would be strengthened thereby ; to which the Pope protested that it was impossible for a "pauvre vieillard" to trust a man whose government was worthless and himself a liar. To this Ld. C. said that doubtless there would be difficulties, but so much the grander for the S. Père to conquer them. "Mettezvous done à ma place," says His Holiness. "Would you have me forgive all the insults—the injuries, etc., etc." "It is unnecessary for me," says Lord C., "to remind the head of Christianity that it is his part to present to the world the spectacle of sublime Christian charity." Which I should think "shut up" the Pope effectually !

Ld. C. was also great fun over Ld. Derby's anti-compulsory-Church-Rate-abolition speech the other night ; saying, "It's rather too bad to have this 'leaper in the dark' [FN: Lord Derby had candidly described his own Ministry's franchise Act, that of 1867, as a "leap in the dark."] coming forth one year at the head of democracy and the next at the tail of old Toryism!" and that he talked "retrograde rubbish." Says I, "What a pity you could not attack him in that fashion in the H. of Lords." "No!" says Ld. C. ; "he's too kind to Constance" (née Villiers, married to Ld. D.'s 2nd son) "for me to abuse him."

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