Wednesday, February 09, 2011

25May1878, A Death at Home

LONDON, May 20th-26th, 1878.
—A great debate this week, on a motion of Hartington's condemning the Indian troops' move on constitutional grounds.

Many weighty speeches on our side. A very fine one from Uncle W. on Tuesday. He had meant to be dry and didactic, but the Attorney-Gen. (Holker) preceded him, and displayed such joints in his armour that Uncle W. changed his attack there and then (as who but he could do?) and made a brilliant cut-and-thrust debating speech. The division on Thurs. was, however, in spite of all reason and argument, the usual overwhelming one in favour of Government. Old Roebuck made a vicious onslaught on the Opposition like the venerable and venomous mosquito that he is, and then hobbled out of the House. When he returned, Mr. Dillwyn, who hitherto has always made room for him on the front bench below the gangway, only edged away a little, and Roebuck, after trying for a minute to balance himself bodkin, was hirpling off again, when one or two Conservatives affably came forward and handed him to their front bench below the gangway, where he was received by his next neighbour with a warm shake of the hand. Loud ironical cheers burst forth from the Liberals. It was particularly funny because Sir H. James had just before quoted from an ancient pamphlet of Roebuck's a most spiteful bit of abuse of the whole Tory party. Cavendish ended the debate with the best speech I ever heard him make, fluent and energetic. We dined Wednesday at the new Northumberland House in Grosvenor Place.

On Friday a terrible and piteous thing happened. Uncle B. is in London for a little, and we thought he would like to meet the Duke of Argyll with whom he made acquaintance last year. Knowing the Duchess' very precarious state, I wrote to him, saying I feared she would not be equal to it, but, if she was, of course we should be glad to see her. We heard since that she quite caught at the notion of dining with us, being always most kind and affectionate to Freddy and me, and anxious to meet Uncle B. Little Mary Campbell [FN: Now Lady Mary Glyn.] wrote to say how much her mother would like to come, and that they would send a chair for her to be carried up to the drawing-room. I felt very uneasy, tho' Edith Percy assured me on Wednesday that she had lately dined at Northumberland House with 20 people, and that society seemed to do her good, if it did not overtire her. We only invited our Duke, the Gladstones, Uncle B., and Nevy, and met in F.'s study to save her the stairs. When I greeted her on the threshold of the room, she looked much as usual, and said, "I'm afraid I shall be troublesome" ; but the next thing she tried to say was very indistinct, and she never spoke really distinctly again. I could see the Duke hoped dinner would do her good, but she tried vainly to eat or drink; and we then saw too plainly that another stroke was upon her. He went to her and with Auntie P.'s and F.'s help supported her back to the study; we got a mattress laid on the floor, and after a short time of very terrible distress, when she seemed struggling in vain to speak and make signs, utter unconsciousness came on from which she never was roused. Auntie P. helped me to cut her clothes off, and Uncle W., with his wonderful strength and skill, lifted her on to the mattress: we propped her with pillows and put mustard to her feet. Nevy fetched a Charing X. Hospital doctor, and Uncle W. went off in a cab and brought back Dr. Clark; later came her own doctor, and Radcliffe and another; and two nurses. Things were tried, and for an hour or two the bleeding on the brain was checked and there was a little rally of the pulse. The poor children were all sent for and came but the Walter Campbells, Frances, Colin, Victoria and little Constance, who were not in London. Other belongings came too, and there was sad bewilderment and confusion; yet all thro' I had the strange solemn comfort of feeling that she was sheltered from all the misery, in some deep sleep of peace. Radcliffe begged us all to go to bed about 1.30, thinking it might last hours or days, and I persuaded the girls to lie down upstairs, and Edith in the drawing-room. But about 3 they were called; the change had come, and soon after 3.30 she died, without pain or consciousness. A terrible sorrow it was to the poor Duke not to have one look, one word, of farewell; but, if she had been roused, it would have been to piteous distress; and her last conscious look was his.
[FN: She writes next day: "The first death in our house. It could not be a more really blessed one: the passing away of a most pure and beautiful soul."]

06May1878, Then Farewell to Bex

BEX, May 6th-12th, 1878.
—Wednesday still cloudy but with lovely lights. F. still a poor creature, so we did a very pleasing drive up the valley of the Rhone to the Gorges du Trient, getting out there and walking along the clever stage hung against the rocks into the depths of the wonderful chasm. Not all the full-blown cockneyism of tickets and advertisements and sale of Alpine "objects," and names scrabbled on the rocks, and pistol firing to show off the echo, could spoil the wonder and awfulness of the gorge.

--Thurs. Outburst of radiant sun and summer. Drove zig-zagging up to Gryon. The contrast something delightful between our 2 glorious experiences of this place. The abounding flowers (gentians high up) and vivid intense green are great delights.

—Friday. F. was himself again, which was as well, for though we drove peacefully to Frémières, we had afterwards a perpendicular climb up a water-course to the top of a mountain, and got to within half an hour of the perpetual snow. Here were to be found lovely little "pastures of the blessed" set thick with buttercups, anemones, alpine heartsease, oxlips, and many another; and from one of these was a glorious view of the Mont Blanc range, Lake Léman and the distant Juras. Came home thro' the woods, amid crowds of wood-sorrel blossom.

—Saturday. Hot and dreamy: climbed very slow and leisurely behind the hotel up the lower slopes of the mountain.

--Sunday. Dismal rain. Church (i.e., a poor English service in the gaunt naked "temple") and then farewell to Bex, which is set up in my heart along with English and Irish lakes, Mount Edgcumbe, Craigton, Jamaica, and other idols.

29Apr1878, A "Jingo" Speech

AIX-LES-BAINS, April 29th–May 5th, 1878.
Mr. Hardy has made a blustering "jingo" speech. (N.B. this elegant expression is derived from a war-song of period, of which the doggrel chorus is "We don't want to fight, but by jingo if we do, We've got the men, we've got the ships, and we've got the money too.") Bright has retorted upon him at a great Manchester peace-meeting in a fine speech full of fire; but too much from the Quaker point of view.

25Mar1878, A General Mad Hatter's Tea-party

LONDON, March 25th-31st, 1878.
Ld. Salisbury succeeds Ld. Derby, Mr. Hardy goes to the Lords, and is succeeded at the War Office by Col. Stanley (very skilful of Dizzy, to keep on good terms with the Stanleys!), and there is a general Mad Hatter's Tea-party — everybody moving up (or down) one. We went to the Foreign Office on Wednesday, little thinking what was brewing! but I thought Ld. Derby looked absent and odd. Dined with the Rallis on Thursday, and had nice music afterwards. Santley sang "Revenge! Timotheus cries" grandly, and I thought fit to say to Ly. Salisbury that the song was sadly appropriate to the state of things between Russia and England—no less a person than Schouvaloff (whom I did not know by sight) being in my pocket! His keen, handsome old face remained quite impassive, however.

25Feb1878, A Ducking in the Serpentine

LONDON, February 25th–March 3rd,1878.
—On getting back to London we heard how the "Peace meeting" in Hyde Park, a very foolish, hot-headed performance of Auberon Herbert's and Bradlaugh's, called together on a Sunday as if on purpose to exclude all the respectable mass of working-men, had turned out the failure that might have been expected. A counter war mob was got up which swept off the other, and Mr. Herbert narrowly escaped a ducking in the Serpentine, and a squad of roughs went off on their own account, and smashed 2 of Uncle W.'s windows.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

18Feb1878, A New Craze Called a Telephone

BATTLE ABBEY, February 18th-24th, 1878.
—Saturday we went to Battle Abbey. Found ourselves arriving with the Charles Woods, [FN: Mr. and Lady Agnes Wood: afterwards Viscount and Viscountess Halifax.] Mr. Harris Temple, Ld. Carnavon, Ld.Minto and a nice very Scotch-faced son Hugh, Mr. Eric Barrington. Various ladies had failed, so Ly. Agnes and I were made much of. Sunday very damp and grey, but pleasant. Fine church; our way to it curiously like Lismore. The Duchess [FN: Of Cleveland, mother of Lord Rosebery.] as unmercifully given to sports as ever; Sat. evening she descended upon F. and me in our snug partie carree with the Duke and Ld. Carnarvon, and was bearing off the hapless Freddy to a most inane round game, had I not thrown myself into the breach and so rescued him. Poor Ld. Minto making to wild shots in an addle-pated state, hardly knowing clubs from spades, was a sight to move pity.

—Sun. evening a wretched new craze called a Telephone was brought into play, and F. kept at work shouting down it for a long time; on the whole a failure. All the same we had a very pleasant visit; Ld. Carnarvon was most agreeable. He said not a word of his personal concerns, and I don't think even mentioned any of his late colleagues; but spoke very frankly upon the E.Q., speaking strongly against the war-cries of the moment, and considering that a wave of insanity is passing over the country. Did not blame the people at large much for their horror of Polish and Siberian doings, but blamed extremely the cultured and well-informed classes for not keeping cool heads and showing wisdom and sense. I let fly a good deal at a horrid clever little pamphlet just out, called "The Crown and the Cabinet," which tries to make out that the Queen and Prince (!!) struggled all their time for unconstitutional personal government!!! The thing is provoked by the sadly ill-advised publication of Theo. Martin's Life of the P. Consort, which brings to light what ought always to have been absolutely private and sacred matter—the Queen's discussions and communications with her Ministers, and of course, in consequence, the share the P. Consort took in these commns. But I stoutly maintain that the Queen is entirely within her constitutional rights when she discusses, suggests, objects, or anything else, with her Ministers: however much of a bore she may be at times! The pamphlet ought to lead straight to Republicanism, as it is an intolerable view that a Sovereign with the usual allowance of wits and arms and legs should be a mere machine for affixing a seal to the laws, which is practically the plan recommended. I can't say I got much sympathy from Ld. Carnarvon, who, it is supposed, has had a rough time with H.M.; when I said, "Surely she might be allowed to give her own opinion to her Ministers," all he would say was, in his little cat-voice, "I think the less she does the better" ! But I have nothing to say for the existing state of things, except, on behalf of the Queen, that her furore for the Turks and marked partisanship are the direct result of Dizzy's influence; and that she is only to be blamed for overdoing a constitutional duty, viz., confiding in her Prime Minister.

Battle Abbey disappointed me as Raby did, and for the same reason; the disfiguring of a grand old building. The Duchess of Cleveland was very kind, and the old Duke I quite took to: when one has time, it is very interesting to hear him go off upon old recollections, and he seems to have boundless information upon some things. He gave a sort of sketch of the ancient history of Constantinople, Saturday, which was worthy of Uncle Wm. on Eccles. History !

11Feb1878, Gladstone and Cavendish

HOLKER, February 11th-17th, 1878.
Barrow business every day prevented F. resting as he ought; he is rather ill with all the worry and tension of the past fortnight. Especially he is harassed by the excessive difficulty of Hartington's and Uncle W.'s footing together. They are 2 men so utterly unlike in disposition and mode of viewing things, and Uncle W., having been driven by the very nature of this great question to take a leading part—(he has felt a special responsibility, as the only surviving Compos [FN: I.e. Compos mentis; still in possession of his faculties.] statesman who conducted the Crimean War and was a party to the Treaty of Paris)—has necessarily been prominent, tho' no longer leader. He never can properly realize that it is absolutely impossible for him, with his great past, and his great powers, to take up the line of "M. was a member." [FN: Appendix A; "A was an Admiral.".] I am come round to the conviction (which Papa always held strongly) that he should either have continued to lead the party, or withdrawn from Parliament altogether, or taken a Peerage. It is immensely to the credit of both him and Cavendish that they have pulled together at all, and is due to the perfect honesty and sense of duty of both. We had to go back to London Thursday—partly, to my disgust, that F. might vote on the odious Burial question Friday.

05Jan1878, The State of Religion in France

TURIN, Saturday, January 5th, 1878.
—The state of religion in France, as far as we have come across indications of it, seems to me terribly hopeless. There are no signs of any standing-ground for earnest people between Ultramontanism and all its superstitions and utter infidelity. In Advent we came in for the feast of the "Immaculate Conception"; and looking into a church at Lyons, it was dreadful to see the apparently unmixed Mariolatry, amid frippery dolls and tawdry decorations. One sees and hears and reads nothing of Protestantism. If the newspapers speak of sacred things, it is with outrageous levity such as I should hope no one but Bradlaugh would venture on in England, however sceptical. One article in a Repub. paper, wanting to compare something political with the Forbidden Fruit (!!!), related the story of the Fall in a paragraph beginning, "Un vieux farceur nommé Moise," and ending, "On n'a jamais pu savoir d'ou est venu Bette fantaisie du bon Dieu." I think "le bon Dieu" stands for something allegorical or fabulous suitable for story-telling to children; and that perhaps if they spoke of "Dieu" there would be a little more attempt at reverence. And yet that isn't always the case, for did not I get a letter from M. Du Lau after Bolton, in which he said he sent it off, "priant Dieu et la poste" to convey it safe!!! as if they were allied powers.

24Dec1877, Visiting in Italy, Jane Morris

SAN REMO, Christmas Eve—December 30th, 1877.
—Paid a visit in the morning to one of Sybella's innumerable "old friends," Edward Lear the artist. He remembers giving lessons to Freddy's mother in Rome in '39 when F. was 3 years old. Showed us many beautiful sketches.

—Thurs. Went to Oneglia to see the George Howards, who have a fine but rather cold and ramshackle villa (Bianchi). Our hotel in the town (Victoria) a dismal, rough one, but not dirty. Dined with the Howards, who we thought must be dead; we had seen George in San Remo and he said they would be home about 5. Not till past 7 did they appear, after a long spell of New Year shopping. F. and I meanwhile sat in the drawing-room and made acquaintance with a pleasing Miss Brook (sister of Rev. Stopford) and with jolly little Charlie [FN: Afterwards 10th Earl of Carlisle.] the eldest boy, who, in spite of some likeness to Lyulph Stanley, won my heart. Mary and Cecilia, the 2 little girls, are very gentle good things; Mary [FN: Now Lady Mary Murray, wife of Professor Gilbert Murray.] has a look of Ly. Taunton, Cecilia is the image of George.

—Friday. They took us a most lovely expedition to certain hilltops crowned with pine trees; ladies on donkeys. Enchantingly warm till we got into the blast of the wind at the top. Opinions seem to vary surprisingly as to which wind is the mistral. Luncheon and dinner with the hospitable cousins. The batch of funny little sturdy square boys, one below the other, Hubert, Christopher, Oliver, and a baby, Geoffrey, are a delightful sight. Oliver is the ditto of Lord Wensleydale. George took us in the afternoon by the sea to see a pretty villa where Morris the decorator-poet's wife and daughters are. Mrs. Morris might have stept out of any of Burne-Jones' pictures, and is in fact the original of the favourite P.B. [FN: I.e. Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.] lady (having sat to Rossetti)—haggard and wistful-eyed, with a heavy bush of black hair penthouse-style over the forehead; certainly handsome.

—Saturday, another beautiful walk, skirting the sides of the valley. Rosalind, [FN: Mrs. George Howard, afterwards Countess of Carlisle.] tho' as hoarse as a crow with a relaxed throat, talked the whole way, and made me rather miserable with her wild views on religion: immortality "an open question," etc., etc. Yet I do think she is good, truthful, and desperately in earnest; and she somehow manages to consider herself a Churchwoman.

27Aug1877, Ld. Granville Speaks at Bradford

BOLTON, August 27th–September 2nd, 1877.
—The Granvilles came Monday, and on Tuesday we had a field-day in honour of the opening of the Liberal Club at Bradford; poor F. unable to go—I do believe the first duty he has been debarred from by health. Ld. Granville as flustered and anxious over the preparation of his two speeches as any new young M.P. Ly. G. sat up writing for him till 1 on Monday night. Titus Salt lionized us (viz., Egertons, Granvilles, and me) over Saltaire, which looked as flourishing as ever in spite of hard times and many idle looms out of the 1,000 in the great 2-acre room. Luncheon and speeches at Bradford, after which we all deserted Ld. G. and came home. The big meeting came off late, and he returned at midnight, struck with the intelligence of the great crowded audience, but a little disgusted at their caring for neither Eastern Q. nor anything else compared with disestablishment, and cheering Miall louder than anybody.

28Jul1877, Ld. and Ly. George Hamilton

ST. GEORGE'S HILL, Saturday, July 28th, 1877.
—To St. George's Hill, where we met Ld. and Ly. George Hamilton. Ld. G. looks like a pretty boy about 20, with very bright eyes and plenty to say; he is, however, a good deal more than that, does uncommonly well in his office, and I daresay will get to the top of the tree. She is pleasing; and they are both most agreeable when away from each other, as their take E is to refer to each other incessantly, being regular married lovers.

09Jul1877, Ugly Nice Little Prince George

LONDON, July 9th-15th, 1877.
—Smart garden-party at Marlborough House, the Queen present. I shook hands with her, to my joy; and shot that she is quite grey at last. Poor Prince Edward ill with continuing fever; ugly nice little Prince George in his cadet uniform; for they have both just passed the Naval Cadet Examination.