Thursday, March 03, 2011

30Apr1881, Comparing Gladstone and Disraeli

HOLMBURY, April 30th, 1881.—Came just in time for dinner to Holmbury, with Mr. Cowper; find Mr. Leveson and George, and Mr. Welby.

—May Day. 2nd Sunday after Easter. Lovely flying lights and shades. Only one church, alas !—it is a lovely church. Beautiful walks and a nice day altogether, with much lively talk. Mr. Cowper and I drove up from the station together yesterday and tried to analyse Uncle W. and Dizzy. He has always been rather fond of Dizzy; said he was more affectionate and made and kept more friends than Uncle W., and that he could be very charming in private life when not upon politics but talking books, etc. We rather differed about Uncle W. and his warmth of feeling; Mr. Cowper (while immensely admiring him) said he thought he had some of the "egoism of genius"—i.e., that a great cause would so absorb him as to make him view his friends and colleagues almost exclusively in the lights of instruments for the attainment of the end he had at heart. He thought Uncle W. had few devoted friends out of the circle of his belongings; but I think he has quite as many as Dizzy had: his past and present secretaries, Freddy, Algy West, Eddy Hamilton, Lord Wolverton, and (I think) Ld. Acton and Ld. Rosebery, all love him. It is quite true that grief does not remain long with him; but I don't think this is from want of true acute feeling when friends die, but partly from his curious inability to dwell upon anything when he has something else he must work at, and mainly from the extraordinarily perfect health of his whole self—mind and soul and body—which gives him wonderful spring and elasticity. It is strange in a man whose one mental deficiency is a certain want of sense of proportion that this grand well-ordered balance of all his powers should exist to such a degree.

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