Sivut kuvina

qualification which Lord John had not. His digestion was possibly weakened by the drastic remedies which our grandparents were in the habit of applying to organs which require a milder treatment. In reading Lord John's boyish diaries, it occurred to the present author that the first day of the week, when no playhouses were open, was reserved by Lord John either for travelling or for medicine. But from the first day of his life to the last days of his Prime Ministership his physical weakness undoubtedly militated against his chances. In the long rivalry between Lord Palmerston and himself, Lord Palmerston owed as much to his admirable organisation as Lord John did to his intellectual power. It has been said of a great modern statesman that the most extraordinary thing about him is not his mind but his body. And perhaps Lord John is the only instance of a man rising to the very highest rank in politics with a physical organisation so defective that it suggested doubt as to his strength for the work allotted to him at almost every stage of his career. Lord John was able to triumph over these defects of the body, and to survive to an unusual age, because he regulated his life on sensible principles. He was moderate in his diet, regular in his habits, and careful to obtain a sufficiency of exercise. But, though by these expedients he succeeded in partially overcoming a physical deficiency to which other men would have succumbed, the means which he adopted for doing so placed him under a disadvantage. Instead of consolidating his party by hospitality in Chesham Place, he was seeking rest and health in the seclusion of Pembroke Lodge. It is no doubt a somewhat humiliating circumstance that political success should so frequently be promoted by social pleasures. But those who recollect the careers of Lord John and Lord Palmerston will agree that the one Minister derived no mean advantage from the care with which his wife cultivated the society which the wife of the other Minister was forced to neglect. It was the common criticism applied to Lord John in January 1855, that he resigned office without justification. History perhaps will pass an exactly opposite verdict on him, and say that both in 1838 and in 1848 he remained in office without justification. For the reasons which induced him to leave office in 1855—viz, his disapproval of the conduct of the war, and his refusal to resist an inquiry which he thought necessary—are at any rate adequate; while it is much more doubtful whether the withdrawal of the Appropriation Clause in 1838 should not have led to the resignation of the Ministry which was founded on it; and whether the rejection by the Cabinet of Lord John's Irish policy in 1848 should not have logically involved the retirement of the Minister who proposed it.

This book, however, has not been concerned with Lord John's public career alone; it has endeavoured to deal with the man as well as with the Minister ; and the author's objects would not be fulfilled if a few words were not added on what Lord John was, in the seclusion of his own home, to his wife, his children, his servants, and his friends.

What Lord John was to his friends may perhaps be inferred from several passages in this Memoir. In the society of those whom he liked, there was no better or brighter companion. The cold climate, which played the deuce with votes, was dispelled by the sunshine of Pembroke Lodge.

The popular idea of Johnny [wrote Mr. Motley] is of a cold, cynical, reserved personage. But, in his own home, I never saw a more agreeable manner."

In fact, his wide reading, his long experience, his hearty appreciation of all that was good, made him a delightful companion. In conversation, he had the capacity which stood him in such good stead in debate ; and Sir James Mackintosh used to cite as an example of a witty saying the definition of a proverb which Lord John gave one morning at breakfast—‘One man's wit, and all men's wisdom.’”

* Motley's Con respondence, i. 300.

* Life of Mackintosh, ii. 473.

In his later life Lord Russell was rather jealous of the fact that his claim to be the author of this famous saying was questioned, and, as the controversy respecting its parentage has lately been revived, it is well to show how the error of

ascribing it to another arose. Deanery, Westminster : March 3, 1873.

My dear Lord Russell,—I heard the other day from Mr. Lecky of a perplexity occasioned to you by an expression in Dean Milman's Essays which I believe I can solve.

In one of these essays there occurs the definition of a proverb as “One man's


With such qualities as these it was no wonder that Lord John's society was sought and valued. Young and old found an equal welcome at Pembroke Lodge ; Lord John's nature, indeed, like good wine, mellowed with advancing age, and “as he grew old, he took more and more pleasure in the society of all who came to him.’

A great authoress has told her readers that it is better sometimes not to follow great reformers of abuses beyond the threshold of their homes. But, if this be true of other men, it is emphatically untrue of Lord John. It is precisely to Lord John's home that every biographer of Lord John who understands his business must desire to take his readers. No doubt

it is well to show him—
When the steam is on,
And languid Johnny glows to glorious John.

But it is still better to see him by his own fireside, or with his wife, his children, and his servants. What Lord John was to his servants two little incidents may show. (1) Travelling in Switzerland in his old age, he was seized with illness, and his valet explained his anxiety to his medical attendant by saying, “I love every hair of his head.’ (2) In the autumn of 1888, his youngest daughter took her old nurse to a local lecture on Mr. Carlyle. The lecturer excused his hero's domestic troubles by declaring that it was natural that great men, whose minds were absorbed by public anxieties, should be sometimes irritable and impatient at home. And the old nurse, who had only known one great man, expressed her indignation that any one should suppose that great men were not great in their home life. What Lord John was to his wife and his children only they can tell; but the perfect confidence which wife and husband had in one another, the constant happiness which they derived from one another's society, may be, at any rate, inferred by one who has had the privilege of access to their private correspondence, and her private journals. As for Lord John's children, they brought him all their childish troubles, and confided to him all their childish thoughts. He was never, in his busiest days, so busy that he had not time to devote to them. In 1846, when he was charged with the formation of a Ministry, he stopped at Wimbledon on his way from Osborne to London, and had a game of ball with his boy. And in the spring of 1865, when most men thought that the Foreign Minister was engrossed with the affairs of his office, his youngest daughter, who was laid up with illness, had more pressing work for him, sending him from her bed the following note:– I am very sorry to say that the canary you gave me is dead. Mammy said I [had] better write to tell you. I should like very much if you would come up to talk about it.

wit, and many men's wisdom,’ which is quoted as ‘erroneously ascribed to an
eminent living statesman.’
It so happens that many years ago, when I was at Canterbury, Sir Robert
Inglis, speaking of this definition, said (as I understood him) that he had been in
the House—wherever it was – when you brought down the definition (if I re-
member right) to breakfast. Having always had this in my recollection, I asked
I)ean Milman why he had said erroneously.” “I said no such thing,” he replied,
“I said “ascribed to an eminent living statesman; ” and “erroneously" was put in
by the Editor of the Quarterly.” The Editor, at this time, was Mr. Elwin, and
the next time I met him I asked him why he had inserted it. I forget exactly
his answer ; but it was to the effect that he had a strong impression of having seen
the definition in some French writer, I think Montaigne. There the subject
dropped. I have thought since that it could never have been in a French writer,
because, as I remember Guizot once remarking to nie, there is no French word
for what we in modern English mean by “wit.'
But my object in writing was to clear our dear old friend at St. Paul's of any
doubt or disregard of the tradition which ascribes the definition to you.

Yours sincerely,

Lord John's intense love for wife and children may be said to have occasionally interfered with his efficiency as a public man. When domestic trouble was heavy on him, he was always disposed to look with despondency on public affairs; and it was not perhaps an altogether accidental circumstance that crises in the Cabinet had a tendency to synchronise with anxiety at home. Writing to his wife from Windsor in April 1847, he said—

Baron Stockmar came in and asked me what had made me so low yesterday evening. I was obliged to say that it was your not being so well. He could not imagine so simple a cause, and thought that there must be something wrong in the state of Europe.

While, in the following year, writing from Balmoral, he said to Lady John—

I do not envy the Queen anything she has, except the rosy cheeks of Prince Alfred. Our poor boy is so different, and gets so depressed and unstrung. When trouble came upon him, he was frequently prostrated by the blow. “Jesus wept, so ran his consolatory note to his son-in-law Mr. Villiers after the Bishop of Durham's death— Jesus wept ; and these natural sorrows must be indulged before they can be checked. In periods of sorrow and in joy he sought in religion consolation and encouragement. His views on the highest subjects with which man's mind can occupy itself were not perhaps thought out with the accuracy of a metaphysician. He probably was not sorry to leave a great deal unsettled and vague. He never seriously addressed himself to the questions which have agitated Christianity in our own times. He accepted Jesus Christ as the Divine Founder of a religion of love; he regarded the Bible as the word of God. To the last hour of his life he looked back with satisfaction to the share which he had himself had in terminating the monopoly of printing it in Scotland. A visitor at Pembroke Lodge noticed that the only book on his library table was an old Bible Society's Bible bound in sheepskin. He could not understand the complicated dogmas of other Christians. He detested the doctrines of Rome, and the pretensions of the High Church party in the English Church. He frequently spoke of them in language which could not fail to give offence. Lady Russell wrote—

His religion was as simple and true as everything else about him. He deplored the earthly and sectarian trappings by which man has disfigured Christianity—the multiplication of creeds, dogmas, ceremonies in the Church of England ; her assumption of sanctity as the special depositary of truth; the narrowness of spirit which has made her through all history the enemy of free thought and progress. He was very severe on the wearisome and irreverent repetitions in her services . . . he disliked the reading of the Commandments, one of which— the fourth—not one of those who prayed to obey it meant to obey. . . . There was, I need hardly say, much that he heartily loved and admired in the liturgy. The thanksgiving prayer was especially dear to him . . . Baptism he, of course, considered merely as an outward sign. He had himself never been confirmed, but did not trouble his

« EdellinenJatka »