We clear the chasm of a century, and hear Dr. Johnson singing the same tune as Squire Hicks.
"The happiness of London is not to be conceived but by those who have been in it. I'll venture to say, there is more learning and science within the circumference of ten miles from where we now sit, than in all the rest of the kingdom."
"London is nothing to some people; but to a man whose pleasure is intellectual, London is the place."
"The town is my element; there are my friends, there are my books, to which I have not yet bid farewell, and there are my amusements."
But even Johnson, who is always quoted as the typical lover of London, was not more enthusiastic in its praise than Gibbon. To him "London was never dull, there at least he could keep the monster Ennui at a respectful distance." For him its heat was always tempered; even its solitude was "delicious." In "the soft retirement of my bocage de Bentinck Street" the dog-days pass unheeded. "Charming hot weather! I am just going to dine alone. Afterwards I shall walk till dark in my gardens at Kensington, and shall then return to a frugal supper and early bed in Bentinck Street. I lead the life of a philosopher, without any regard to the world or to fashion."
So much for the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; we now return to the nineteenth and are listening to Sydney Smith. "I look forward anxiously to the return of the bad weather, coal fires, and good society in a crowded city." "The country is bad enough in summer, but in winter it is a fit residence only for beings doomed to such misery for misdeeds in another state of existence." "You may depend upon it, all lives lived out of London are mistakes, more or less grievous—but mistakes." "I shall not be sorry to be in town. I am rather tired of simple pleasures, bad reasoning, and worse cookery."
Let Lord Beaconsfield have the last word, as is his due; for truly did he know and love his London.
"It was a mild winter evening, a little fog still hanging about, but vanquished by the cheerful lamps, and the voice of the muffin-bell was heard at intervals; a genial sound that calls up visions of trim and happy hearths. If we could only so contrive our lives as to go into the country for the first note of the nightingale, and return to town for the first note of the muffin-bell, existence, it is humbly presumed, might be more enjoyable."
 Lord Beaconsfield, Tancred.
 Written in May, 1910.
 A nickname invented by the famous Eton tutor, "Billy Johnson," for a florid journalist.
 Lord Beaconsfield, Lothair.
 See M. Arnold's Letters, May 15, 1880.
 The Right Hon. J. W. Lowther.
 Sir George Trevelyan, The Ladies in Parliament.
"I never eat and I never drink," said the Cardinal. "I am sorry to say I cannot. I like dinner-society very much. You see the world, and you hear things which you do not hear otherwise." LORD BEACONSFIELD, Lothair.
The Cardinal was much to be pitied. He had a real genius for society, and thoroughly enjoyed such forms of it as his health and profession permitted. Though he could not dine with Mr. Putney Giles, he went to Mrs. Putney Giles's evening party, where he made an important acquaintance. He looked in at Lady St. Jerome's after dinner; and his visits to Vauxe and to Muriel Towers were fraught with memorable results.
Mrs. Putney Giles, though a staunch Protestant, was delighted to receive a Cardinal, and not less so that he should meet in her drawing-room the inexpressibly magnificent Lothair. That is all in the course of nature; but what has always puzzled me is the ease with which a youth of no particular pretensions, arriving in London from Oxford or Cambridge or from a country home, swims into society, and finds himself welcomed by people whose names he barely knows. I suppose that in this, as in more important matters, the helpers of the social fledgling are good-natured women. The fledgling probably starts by being related to one or two, and acquainted with three or four more; and each of them says to a friend who entertains—"My cousin, Freddy Du Cane, is a very nice fellow, and waltzes capitally. Do send him a card for your dance"—or "Tommy Tucker is a neighbour of ours in the country. If ever you want an odd man to fill up a place at dinner, I think you will find him useful." Then there was in those days, and perhaps there is still, a mysterious race of men—Hierophants of Society—who had great powers of helping or hindering the social beginner. They were bachelors, not very young; who had seen active service as dancers and diners for ten or twenty seasons; and who kept lists of eligible youths which they were perpetually renewing at White's or the Marlborough. To one of these the intending hostess would turn, saying, "Dear Mr. Golightly, do give me your list;" and, if Freddy Du Cane had contrived to ingratiate himself with Mr. Golightly, invitations to balls and dances, of every size and sort, would soon begin to flutter down on him like snow-flakes. It mattered nothing that he had never seen his host or hostess, nor they him. Corney Grain expressed the situation in his own inimitable verse:
"Old Mr. Parvenu gave a great ball— And of all his smart guests he knew no one at all. Old Mr. Parvenu went up to bed, And the guest said 'Good-night' to the butler instead."
But light come, light go. Ball-going is elysian when one is very young and cheerful and active, but it is a pleasure which, for nine men out of ten, soon palls. Dinner-society, as Cardinal Grandison knew, is a more serious affair, and admission to it is not so lightly attained.
When Sydney Smith returned from a visit to Paris, he wrote, in the fulness of his heart:
"I care very little about dinners, but I shall not easily forget a matelote at the 'Rochers de Cancale,' or an almond tart at Montreuil, or a poulet a la Tartare at Grignon's. These are impressions which no changes in future life can obliterate."
I am tempted to pursue the line of thought thus invitingly opened, but I forbear; for it really has no special connexion with the retrospective vein. I am now describing the years 1876-1880, and dinners then were pretty much what they are now. The new age of dining had begun. Those frightful hecatombs of sheep and oxen which Francatelli decreed had made way for more ethereal fare. The age-long tyranny of "The Joint" was already undermined. I have indeed been one of a party of forty in the dog-days, where a belated haunch of venison cried aloud for decent burial; but such outrages were even then becoming rare. The champagne of which a poet had beautifully said:
"How sad and bad and mad it was, And Oh! how it was sweet!"
had been banished in favour of the barely alcoholic liquor which foams in modern glasses. And, thanks to the influence of King Edward VII, after-dinner drinking had been exorcised by cigarettes. The portentous piles of clumsy silver which had overshadowed our fathers' tables—effigies of Peace and Plenty, Racing Cups and Prizes for fat cattle—had been banished to the plate-closets; bright china and brighter flowers reigned in their stead. In short, a dinner thirty-five years ago was very like a dinner to-day. It did not take me long to find that (with Cardinal Grandison) "I liked dinner-society very much," and that "you see the world there and hear things which you do not hear otherwise."
I have already described the methods by which ball-society was, and perhaps is, recruited. An incident which befell me in my second season threw a similar light on the more obscure question of dinner-society. One day I received a large card which intimated that Mr. and Mrs. Goldmore requested the honour of my company at dinner. I was a little surprised, because though I had been to balls at the Goldmores' house and had made my bow at the top of the stairs, I did not really know them. They had newly arrived in London, with a great fortune made in clay pipes and dolls' eyes, and were making their way by entertaining lavishly. However, it was very kind of them to ask me to dinner, and I readily accepted. The appointed evening came, and I arrived rather late. In an immense drawing-room there were some thirty guests assembled, and, as I looked round, I could not see a single face which I had ever seen before. Worse than that, it was obvious that Mr. and Mrs. Goldmore did not know me. They heard my name announced, received me quite politely, and then retired into a window, where their darkling undertones, enquiring glances, and heads negatively shaken, made it only too clear that they were asking one another who on earth the last arrival was. However, their embarrassment and mine was soon relieved by the announcement of dinner. As there were more male guests than women, there was no need to give me a partner; so we all swept downstairs in a promiscuous flood, and soon were making the vital choice between bisque and consomme. Eating my dinner, I revolved my plans, and decided to make a clean breast of it. So, when we went up into the drawing-room, I made straight for my hostess. "I feel sure," I said, "that you and Mr. Goldmore did not expect me to-night." "Oh," was the gracious reply, "I hope there was nothing in our manner which made you feel that you were unwelcome." "Nothing," I replied, "could have been kinder than your manner, but one has a certain social instinct which tells one when one has made a mistake. And yet what the mistake was I cannot guess. I am sure it is the right house and the right evening—Do please explain." "Well," said Mrs. Goldmore, "as you have found out so much, I think I had better tell you all. We were not expecting you. We have not even now the pleasure of knowing who you are. We were expecting Dr. Russell, the Times Correspondent, and all these ladies and gentlemen have been asked to meet him." So it was not my mistake after all, and I promptly rallied my forces. "The card certainly had my first name, initials, and address all right, so there was nothing to make me suspect a mistake. Besides, I should have thought that everyone who knew the Times Russell knew that his first name was William—he is always called 'Billy Russell.'" "Well"—and now the truth coyly emerged—"the fact is that we don't know him. We heard that he was a pleasant man and fond of dining out, and so we looked him up in the Court Guide, and sent the invitation. I suppose we hit on your address by mistake for his." I suppose so too; and that this is the method by which newcomers build up a "Dinner-Society" in London.
One particular form of dinner deserves a special word of commemoration, because it has gone, never to return. This was the "Fish Dinner" at Greenwich or Blackwall, or even so far afield as Gravesend. It was to a certain extent a picnic; without the formality of dressing, and made pleasant by opportunities of fun and fresh air, in the park or on the river, before we addressed ourselves to the serious business of the evening; but that was serious indeed. The "Menu" of a dinner at the Ship Hotel at Greenwich lies before me as I write. It contains turtle soup, eleven kinds of fish, two entrees, a haunch of venison, poultry, ham, grouse, leverets, five sweet dishes, and two kinds of ice. Well, those were great days—we shall not look upon their like again. Let a poet who knew what he was writing about have the last word on Dinner.
"We may live without poetry, music, and art; We may live without conscience and live without heart; We may live without friends; we may live without books; But civilized man cannot live without Cooks.
"He may live without lore—what is knowledge but grieving? He may live without hope—what is hope but deceiving? He may live without love—what is passion but pining? But where is the man that can live without dining?"
There is an exquisite truth in this lyrical cry, but it stops short of the fulness of the subject. It must be remembered that "dining" is not the only form of eating. Mr. Gladstone, who thought modern luxury rather disgusting, used to complain that nowadays life in a country house meant three dinners a day, and, if you reckoned sandwiches and poached eggs at five o'clock tea, nearly four. Indeed, the only difference that I can perceive between a modern luncheon and a modern dinner is that at the former meal you don't have soup or a printed Menu. There have always been some houses where the luncheons were much more famous than the dinners. Dinner, after all, is something of a ceremony; it requires forethought, care, and organization. Luncheon is more of a scramble, and, in the case of a numerous and scattered family, it is the pleasantest of reunions.
My uncle Lord John Russell (1792-1878) published in 1820 a book of Essays and Sketches, in which he speaks of "women sitting down to a substantial luncheon at three or four," and observes that men would be wise if they followed the example. All contemporary evidence points to luncheon as a female meal, at which men attended, if at all, clandestinely. If a man habitually sat down to luncheon, and ate it through, he was regarded as indifferent to the claims of dinner, and, moreover, was contemned as an idler. No one who had anything to do could find time for a square meal in the middle of the day. But, as years went on, the feeling changed. Prince Albert was notoriously fond of luncheon, and Queen Victoria humoured him. They dined very late, and the luncheon at the Palace became a very real and fully recognized meal. The example, communicated from the highest quarters, was soon followed in Society; and, when I first knew London, luncheon was as firmly established as dinner. As a rule, it was not an affair of fixed invitation; but a hostess would say, "You will always find us at luncheon, somewhere about two"—and one took her at her word.
The luncheon by invitation was a more formal, and rather terrible, affair. I well remember a house where at two o'clock in June we had to sit down with curtains drawn, lights ablaze, and rose-coloured shades to the candles, because the hostess thought, rightly as regarded herself, less so as regarded her guests, that no one's complexion could stand the searching trial of midsummer sunshine.
"Sunday Luncheon" was always a thing apart. For some reason, not altogether clear, perhaps because devotion long sustained makes a strong demand on the nervous system, men who turned up their noses at luncheon on weekdays devoured roast beef and Yorkshire pudding on Sundays, and went forth, like giants refreshed, for a round of afternoon calls. The Sunday Luncheon was a recognized centre of social life. Where there was even a moderate degree of intimacy a guest might drop in and be sure of mayonnaise, chicken, and welcome. I can recall an occasion of this kind when I saw social Presence of Mind exemplified, as I thought and think, on an heroic scale. Luncheon was over. It had not been a particularly bounteous meal; the guests had been many; the chicken had been eaten to the drumstick and the cutlets to the bone. Nothing remained but a huge Trifle, of chromatic and threatening aspect, on which no one had ventured to embark. Coffee was just coming, when the servant entered with an anxious expression, and murmured to the hostess that Monsieur de Petitpois—a newly-arrived attache—had come, and seemed to expect luncheon. The hostess grasped the situation in an instant, and issued her commands with a promptitude and a directness which the Duke of Wellington could not have surpassed. "Clear everything away, but leave the Trifle. Then show M. de Petitpois in." Enter De Petitpois. "Delighted to see you. Quite right. Always at home at Sunday luncheon. Pray come and sit here and have some Trifle. It is our national Sunday dish." Poor young De Petitpois, actuated by the same principle which made the Prodigal desire the husks, filled himself with spongecake, jam, and whipped cream; and went away looking rather pale. If he kept a journal, he no doubt noted the English Sunday as one of our most curious institutions, and "Le Trifle" as its crowning horror.
Supper is a word of very different significances. There is the Ball Supper, which I have described in a previous chapter. There is the Supper after the Missionary Meeting in the country, when "The Deputation from the Parent Society" is entertained with cold beef, boiled eggs, and cocoa. There is the diurnal Supper, fruitful parent of our national crudities, eaten by the social class that dines at one; and this Supper (as was disclosed at a recent inquest) may consist of steak, tomatoes, and tea.
And yet, again, there is the Theatrical Supper, which, eaten in congenial company after Patience or The Whip, is our nearest approach to the "Nights and Suppers of the Gods." This kind of supper has a niche of its own in my retrospects. It was my privilege when first I came to London to know Lady Burdett-Coutts, famous all over the world as a philanthropist, and also, in every tone and gesture, a survival from the days when great station and great manner went together. Lady Burdett-Coutts was an enthusiastic devotee of the drama; and, when her Evening Parties were breaking up, she would gently glide round the great rooms in Stratton Street, and say to a departing guest:
"I hope you need not go just yet. I am expecting Mr. Irving to supper after the play, and I am asking a few friends to meet him."
As far as I know, I am the only survivor of those delightful feasts.
Dinner and luncheon and supper must, I suppose, be reckoned among the permanent facts of life; but there is, or was, one meal of which I have witnessed the unwept disappearance. It had its roots in our historic past. It clung to its place in our social economy. It lived long and died hard. It was the Breakfast-Party. When I first lived in London, it was, like some types of human character, vigorous but unpopular. No one could really like going out to breakfast; but the people who gave Breakfast-Parties were worthy and often agreeable people; and there were few who had the hardihood to say them Nay.
The most famous breakfast-parties of the time were given by Mr. Gladstone, on every Thursday morning in the Session; when, while we ate broiled salmon and drank coffee, our host discoursed to an admiring circle about the colour-sense in Homer, or the polity of the ancient Hittites. Around the table were gathered Lions and Lionesses of various breeds and sizes, who, if I remember aright, did not get quite as much opportunity for roaring as they would have liked; for, when Mr. Gladstone had started on a congenial theme, it was difficult to get in a word edgeways. One of these breakfast-parties at 10, Downing Street, stands out in memory more clearly than the rest, for it very nearly had a part in that "Making of History" which was then so much in vogue. The date was April 23, 1885. The party comprised Lady Ripon, Lord Granville, Dean Church, and Miss Mary Anderson, then in the height of her fame and beauty. We were stolidly munching and listening, when suddenly we heard a crash as if heaven and earth had come together; and presently we learned that there had been an explosion of dynamite at the Admiralty, about a hundred yards from where we were sitting. The proximity of nitro-glycerine seemed to operate as a check on conversation, and, as we rose from the table, I heard Miss Anderson say to Miss Gladstone, "Your pa seemed quite scared."
Other breakfast-givers of the time were Lord Houghton, Lord Arthur Russell, Mr. Shaw-Lefevre (afterwards Lord Eversley), and Sir John Lubbock (afterwards Lord Avebury); and there were even people so desperately wedded to this terrible tradition that they formed themselves into Clubs with no other object than to breakfast, and bound themselves by solemn pledges to meet one morning in every week, and eat and argue themselves into dyspepsia. Sydney Smith wrote thus to a friend: "I have a breakfast of philosophers to-morrow at ten punctually—muffins and metaphysics, crumpets and contradiction. Will you come?" That inviting picture, though it was drawn before I was born, exactly describes the breakfast-parties which I remember. One met all sorts of people, but very few Mary Andersons. Breakfasters were generally old,—politicians, diplomatists, authors, journalists, men of science, political economists, and everyone else who was most improving. No doubt it was a priceless privilege to meet them; yet, as I heard them prate and prose, I could not help recalling a favourite passage from Mrs. Sherwood's quaint tale of Henry Milner:—
"Mr. Dolben, as usual, gave utterance at breakfast to several of those pure and wise and refined principles, which sometimes distil as drops of honey from the lips of pious and intellectual old persons." It was breakfast that set Mr. Dolben off. We are not told that he distilled his honey at dinner or supper; so his case must be added to the long list of deleterious results produced by breakfasting in public.
Conversation must, I think, have been at rather a low ebb when I first encountered it in London. Men breakfasted in public, as we have just seen, in order to indulge in it; and I remember a terrible Club where it raged on two nights of every week, in a large, dark, and draughty room, while men sat round an indifferent fire, drinking barley-water, and talking for talking's sake—the most melancholy of occupations. But at these dismal orgies one never heard anything worth remembering. The "pious and intellectual old persons" whom Mrs. Sherwood admired had withdrawn from the scene, if indeed they had ever figured on it. Those who remained were neither pious nor intellectual, but compact of spite and greediness, with here and there worse faults. But some brighter spirits were coming on. To call them by the names which they then bore, Mr. George Trevelyan and Mr. John Morley were thought very promising, for social fame in London takes a long time to establish itself. Sir William Harcourt was capital company in the heavier style; and Lord Rosebery in the lighter. But Mr. Herbert Paul was known only to the Daily News, and Mr. Augustine Birrell's ray serene had not emerged from the dim, unfathomed caves of the Chancery Bar.
So far, I have been writing about Conversation with a capital "C,"—an elaborate and studied art which in old days such men as Sharpe and Jekyll and Luttrell illustrated, and, in times more modern, Brookfield and Cockburn and Lowe and Hayward. For the ordinary chit-chat of social intercourse—chaff and repartee, gossip and fun and frolic—I believe that London was just as good in 1876 as it had been fifty years before. We were young and happy, enjoying ourselves, and on easy terms with one another. "It was roses, roses all the way." Our talk was unpremeditated and unstudied, quick as lightning, springing out of the interest or the situation of the moment, uttered in an instant and as soon forgotten. Everyone who has ever made the attempt must realize that to gather up the fragments of such talk as this is as impossible as to collect shooting stars or to reconstruct a rainbow.
But, though I cannot say what we talked about in those distant days, I believe I can indicate with certainty two topics which were never mentioned. One is Health, and the other is Money. I presume that people had pretty much the same complaints as now, but no one talked about them. We had been told of a lady who died in agony because she insisted on telling the doctor that the pain was in her chest, whereas it really was in the unmentionable organ of digestion. That martyr to propriety has no imitator in the present day. Everyone has a disease and a doctor, and young people of both sexes are ready on the slightest acquaintance to describe symptoms and compare experiences. "Ice!" exclaimed a pretty girl at dessert. "Good gracious, no. So bad for indy!" And her companion, who had not travelled with the times, learned with interest that "indy" was the pet name for indigestion.
Then, again, as to money. In the "Sacred Circle of the Great Grandmotherhood," I never heard the slightest reference to income. Not that the Whigs despised money. They were at least as fond of it as other people, and, even when it took the shape of slum-rents, its odour was not displeasing; but it was not a subject for conversation. People did not chatter about their neighbours' incomes; and, if they made their own money in trades or professions, they did not regale us with statistics of profit and loss. To-day everyone seems to be, if I may use the favourite colloquialism, "on the make"; and the devotion with which people worship money pervades their whole conversation, and colours their whole view of life. "Scions of Aristocracy," to use the good old phrase of Pennialinus, will produce samples of tea or floor-cloth from their pockets, and sue quite winningly for custom. A speculative bottle of extraordinarily cheap peach-brandy will arrive with the compliments of Lord Tom Noddy, who has just gone into the wine-trade; and Lord Magnus Charters will tell you that, if you are going to rearrange your electric light, his firm has got some really artistic fittings which he can let you have on specially easy terms.
So far I have spoken of Hospitality as if it consisted wholly in eating and drinking. Not so. In those days Evening Parties, or Receptions, or Drums, or Tails, for so they were indifferently called, took place on four or five nights of every week. "Tails" as the name implies, were little parties tacked on to the end of big dinners, where a few people looked in, rather cross at not having been invited to dine, or else in a desperate hurry to get on to a larger party or a ball. The larger parties were given generally on Saturday evenings; and then, amid a crushing crowd and a din which recalled the Parrot-House at the Zoo, one might rub shoulders with all the famous men and women of the time. When Mr. St. Barbe in Endymion attended a gathering of this kind, he said to his companion, "I daresay that Ambassador has been blundering all his life, and yet there is something in that Star and Ribbon. I do not know how you feel, but I could almost go down on my knees to him.
'Ye stars which are the poetry of heaven,'
Byron wrote; a silly line, he should have written—
'Ye stars which are the poetry of dress.'"
Political "Drums" had a flavour which was all their own. If they were given in any of the Great Houses of London, where the stateliness and beauty of the old world still survived, such guests as Lord Beaconsfield's creations, Mr. Horrocks, M.P., and Trodgitts, the unsuccessful candidate, would look a little subdued. But in the ordinary house, with a back and front drawing-room and a buffet in the dining-room, those good men were quite at home, and the air was thick with political shop—whether we should loose Pedlington or save Shuffleborough with a struggle—whether A would get office and how disgusted B would be if he did.
Here and there a more thrilling note was sounded. At a Liberal party in the spring of 1881 an ex-Whip of the Liberal party said to a Liberal lady, as he was giving her a cup of tea: "Have you heard how ill old Dizzy is?" "Oh, yes!" replied the lady, with a rapturous wink, "I know—dying!" Such are the amenities of political strife.
A much more agreeable form of hospitality was the Garden-Party. When I came to live in London, the old-fashioned phrase—a "Breakfast"—so familiar in memoirs and novels, had almost passed out of use. On the 22nd of June, 1868, Queen Victoria signalized her partial return to social life by commanding her lieges to a "Breakfast" in the gardens of Buckingham Palace; and the newspapers made merry over the notion of Breakfast which began at four and ended at seven. The old title gradually died out, and by 1876 people had begun to talk about "Garden-Parties."
By whichever names they were called, they were, and are, delightful festivals. Sometimes they carried one as far as Hatfield, my unapproached favourite among all the "Stately homes of England"; but generally they were nearer London—at Syon, with the Thames floating gravely past its lawns—Osterley, where the decorative skill of the Brothers Adam is superimposed on Sir Thomas Gresham's Elizabethan brickwork—Holland House, rife with memories of Fox and Macaulay—Lowther Lodge, with its patch of unspoiled country in the heart of Western London. Closely akin to these Garden-Parties were other forms of outdoor entertainment—tea at Hurlingham or Ranelagh; and river-parties where ardent youth might contrive to capsize the adored one, and propose as he rescued her, dripping, from the Thames.
It is only within the last few years that we have begun to talk of "Week-Ends" and "week-Ending." These terrible phrases have come down to us from the North of England; but before they arrived the thing which they signify was here. "Saturday-to-Monday Parties" they were called. They were not so frequent as now, because Saturday was a favourite night for entertaining in London, and it was generally bespoken for dinners and drums. But, as the summer advanced and hot rooms became unendurable, people who lived only forty or fifty miles out of London began to ask if one would run down to them on Friday or Saturday, and stay over Sunday. Of these hospitalities I was a sparing and infrequent cultivator, for they always meant two sleepless nights; and, as someone truly observed, just as you had begun to wear off the corners of your soap, it was time to return to London. But there were people, more happily constituted, who could thoroughly enjoy and profit by the weekly dose of fresh air and quiet. It was seldom that Mrs. Gladstone failed to drag Mr. Gladstone to some country house "from Saturday to Monday."
As I re-read what I have written in this chapter, I seem to have lived from 1876 to 1880 in the constant enjoyment of one kind or another of Hospitality. It is true; and for the kindness of the friends who then did so much to make my life agreeable, I am as grateful as I was when I received it. My social life in London seems to me, as I look back, "a crystal river of unreproved enjoyment"; and some of those who shared it with me are still among my closest friends.
One word more, and I have done with Hospitality. I brought with me from Oxford a simple lad who had been a College servant. In those more courteous days a young man made it a rule to leave his card at every house where he had been entertained; so I made a list of addresses, gave it to my servant with a nicely-calculated batch of cards, and told him to leave them all before dinner. When I came in to dress, this dialogue ensued: "Have you left all those cards?" "Yes, sir." "You left two at each of the houses on your list?" "Oh no, sir. I left one at each house, and all the rest at the Duke of Leinster's." Surely Mrs. Humphry Ward or Mr. H. G. Wells might make something of this bewildering effect produced by exalted rank on the untutored mind.
 The second Lord Lytton.
"Candidates are creatures not very susceptible of affronts, and would rather, I suppose, climb in at a window than be absolutely excluded. Mr. Grenville, advancing towards me, shook me by the hand with a degree of cordiality that was extremely seducing.... He is very young, genteel, and handsome, and the town seems to be much at his service." W. Cowper, 1784.
Gladstone's first administration, which had begun so gloriously in 1868, ended rather ignominiously at the General Election of 1874. Matthew Arnold wrote to his friend, Lady de Rothschild, "What a beating it is! You know that Liberalism did not seem to me quite the beautiful and admirable thing it does to the Liberal party in general, and I am not sorry that a new stage in its growth should commence, and that the party should be driven to examine itself, and to see how much real stuff it has in its mind, and how much claptrap."
That wholesome discipline of self-examination was greatly assisted by the progress of events. England was now subjected to the personal rule of Disraeli. In 1868 he had been for ten months Prime Minister on sufferance, but now for the first time in his life he was in power. His colleagues were serfs or cyphers. He had acquired an influence at Court such as no other Minister ever possessed. He had conciliated the House of Lords, which in old days had looked askance at the picturesque adventurer. He was supported by a strong, compact, and determined majority in the House of Commons. He was the idol of Society, of the Clubs, and of the London Press. He was, in short, as nearly a dictator as the forms of our constitution permit; and the genius, which for forty years had been hampered and trammelled by the exigencies of a precarious struggle, could now for the first time display its true character and significance. Liberals who had been bored and provoked by the incessant blunders of the Liberal ministry in its last years, and, like Matthew Arnold, had welcomed a change of government, soon began to see that they had exchanged what was merely fatuous and foolish for what was actively mischievous. They were forced to ask themselves how much of the political faith which they had professed was "real stuff," and how much was "claptrap." Disraeli soon taught them that, even when all "claptrap" was laid aside, the "real stuff" of Liberalism—its vital and essential part—was utterly incompatible with Disraelitish ideals.
The Session of 1874 began quietly enough, and the first disturbance proceeded from a quite unexpected quarter. The two Primates of the English Church were at this time Archbishop Tait and Archbishop Thomson. Both were masterful men. Both hated Ritualism; and both worshipped the Man in the Street. The Man in the Street was supposed to be an anti-Ritualist; so the two Archbishops conceived the happy design of enlisting his aid in the destruction of a religious movement which, with their own unaided resources, they had failed to crush. Bishop Wilberforce, who would not have suffered the Ritualists to be bullied, had been killed in the previous summer. Gladstone, notoriously not unfriendly to Ritualism, was dethroned; so all looked smooth and easy for a policy of persecution. On the 20th of April, 1874, Archbishop Tait introduced his "Public Worship Regulation Bill" into the House of Lords; and, in explanation of this measure, Tait's biographers say that it merely "aimed at reviving in a practical shape the forum domesticum of the Bishops, with just so much of coercive force added as seemed necessary to meet the changed circumstances of modern times." I have always loved this sentence. Forum domesticum is distinctly good, and so is "coercive force." The forum domesticum has quite a comfortable sound, and, as to the "coercive force" which lurks in the background, Ritualists must not enquire too curiously. The Bishops were to have it all their own way, and everyone was to be happy. Such was the Bill as introduced; but in Committee it was made infinitely more oppressive. Henceforward a single lay-judge, to be appointed by the two Archbishops, was to hear and determine all cases relating to irregularities in Public Worship.
When the Bill reached the House of Commons, it was powerfully opposed by Gladstone; but the House was dead against him, and Sir William Harcourt, who, six months before, had been his Solicitor-General, distinguished himself by the truculence with which he assailed the Ritualists. On the 5th of August, Gladstone wrote to his wife: "An able but yet frantic tirade from Harcourt, extremely bad in tone and taste, and chiefly aimed at poor me.... I have really treated him with forbearance before, but I was obliged to let out a little to-day."
Meanwhile, Disraeli, seeing his opportunity, had seized it with characteristic skill. He adopted the Bill with great cordiality. He rejected all the glozing euphemisms which had lulled the House of Lords. He uttered no pribbles and prabbles about forum domesticum, and paternal guidance, and the authoritative interpretation of ambiguous formularies. "This," he said, "is a Bill to put down Ritualism." So the naked truth, carefully veiled from view in episcopal aprons and lawn-sleeves, was now displayed in all its native charm. Its success was instant and complete. The Second Reading passed unanimously; and the Archbishops' masterpiece became at once a law and a laughing-stock. The instrument of tyranny broke in the clumsy hands which had forged it, and its fragments to-day lie rusting in the lumber-room of archiepiscopal failures.
But in the meantime the debates on the Bill had produced some political effects which its authors certainly had not desired. Gladstone's vehement attacks on the Bill, and his exhilarating triumph over the recalcitrant Harcourt, showed the Liberal party that their chief, though temporarily withdrawn from active service, was as vivacious and as energetic as ever, as formidable in debate, and as unquestionably supreme in his party whenever he chose to assert his power. Another important result of the controversy was that Gladstone was now the delight and glory of the Ritualists. The Committee organized to defend the clergy of St. Alban's, Holborn, against the forum domesticum and "coercive force" of Bishop Jackson, made a formal and public acknowledgment of their gratitude for Gladstone's "noble and unsupported defence of the rights of the Church of England." Cultivated and earnest Churchmen, even when they had little sympathy with Ritualism, were attracted to his standard, and turned in righteous disgust from the perpetrator of clumsy witticisms about "Mass in masquerade." In towns where, as at Oxford and Brighton, the Church is powerful, the effect of these desertions was unmistakably felt at the General Election of 1880.
It has been truly said that among the subjects which never fail to excite Englishmen is Slavery. "No public man," said Matthew Arnold, "in this country will be damaged by having even 'fanaticism' in his hatred of slavery imputed to him." In July, 1875, the Admiralty issued to Captains of Her Majesty's ships a Circular of Instructions which roused feelings of anger and of shame. This circular ran counter alike to the jealousy of patriots and to the sentiment of humanitarians. It directed that a fugitive slave should not be received on board a British vessel unless his life was in danger, and that, if she were in territorial waters, he should be surrendered on legal proof of his condition. If the ship were at sea, he should only be received and protected until she reached the country to which he belonged. These strange and startling orders were not in harmony either with the Law of Nations or with the law of England. They infringed the invaluable rule which prescribes that a man-of-war is British territory, wherever she may be; and they seemed to challenge the famous decision of Lord Mansfield, that a slave who enters British jurisdiction becomes free for ever. Parliament had risen for the recess just before the circular appeared, so it could not be challenged in the House of Commons; but it raised a storm of indignation out of doors which astonished its authors. Disraeli wrote "The incident is grave;" and, though in the subsequent session the Government tried to whittle down the enormity, the "incident" proved to be graver than even the Premier had imagined; for it showed the Liberals once again that Toryism is by instinct hostile to freedom.
But events were now at hand before which the Public Worship Regulation Act and the Slave Circular paled into insignificance.
In the autumn of 1875 an insurrection had broken out in Bulgaria, and the Turkish Government despatched a large force to repress it. This was done, and repression was followed by a hideous orgy of massacre and outrage. A rumour of these horrors reached England, and public indignation spontaneously awoke. Disraeli, with a strange frankness of cynical brutality, sneered at the rumour as "Coffee-house babble," and made odious jokes about the Oriental way of executing malefactors. But Christian England was not to be pacified with these Asiatic pleasantries, and in the autumn of 1876 the country rose in passionate indignation against what were known as "the Bulgarian Atrocities." Preaching in St. Paul's Cathedral, Liddon made a signal departure from his general rule of avoiding politics in the pulpit, and gave splendid utterance to the passion which was burning in his heart. "Day by day we English are learning that this year of grace 1876 has been signalized by a public tragedy which, I firmly believe, is without a parallel in modern times.... Not merely armed men, but young women and girls and babes, counted by hundreds, counted by thousands, subjected to the most refined cruelties, subjected to the last indignities, have been the victims of the Turk." And then came a fine burst of patriotic indignation. "That which makes the voice falter as we say it is that, through whatever misunderstanding, the Government which is immediately responsible for acts like these has turned for sympathy, for encouragement, not to any of the historical homes of despotism or oppression, not to any other European Power, but alas! to England—to free, humane, Christian England. The Turk has, not altogether without reason, believed himself, amid these scenes of cruelty, to be leaning on our country's arm, to be sure of her smile, or at least of her acquiescence."
And soon a mightier voice than even Liddon's was added to the chorus of righteous indignation. Gladstone had resigned the leadership of the Liberal Party at the beginning of 1875, and for sixteen months he remained buried in his library at Hawarden. But now he suddenly reappeared, and flung himself into the agitation against Turkey with a zeal which in his prime he had never excelled, if, indeed, he had equalled it. On Christmas Day, 1876, he wrote in his diary—"The most solemn I have known for long; I see that eastward sky of storm and of underlight!" When Parliament met in February, 1877, he was ready with all his unequalled resources of eloquence, argumentation, and inconvenient enquiry, to drive home his great indictment against the Turkish Government and its champion, Disraeli, who had now become Lord Beaconsfield. For three arduous years he sustained the strife with a versatility, a courage, and a resourcefulness, which raised the enthusiasm of his followers to the highest pitch, and filled his antagonists with a rage akin to frenzy. I well remember that in July, 1878, just after Lord Beaconsfield's triumphant return from Berlin, a lady asked me as a special favour to dine with her: "Because I have got the Gladstones coming, and everyone declines to meet him." Strange, but true.
1878 was perhaps the most critical year of the Eastern question. Russia and Turkey were at death-grips, and Lord Beaconsfield seemed determined to commit this country to a war in defence of the Mahomedan Power, which for centuries has persecuted the worshippers of Christ in the East of Europe. By frustrating the sinister design Gladstone saved England from the indelible disgrace of a second Crimea. But it was not only in Eastern Europe that he played the hero's part. In Africa, and India, and wherever British arms were exercised and British honour was involved, he dealt his resounding blows at that odious system of bluster and swagger and might against right, on which the Prime Minister and his colleagues bestowed the tawdry nickname of Imperialism. In his own phrase he devoted himself to "counterworking the purpose of Lord Beaconsfield," and all that was ardent and enthusiastic and adventurous in Liberalism flocked to his standard.
"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven."
One could not stand aloof—the call to arms was too imperious. We saw our Leader contending single-handed with "the obscene empires of Mammon and Belial," and we longed to be at his side in the thick of the fight. To a man born and circumstanced as I was the call came with peculiar power. I had the love of Freedom in my blood. I had been trained to believe in and to serve the Liberal cause. I was incessantly reminded of the verse, which, sixty years before, Moore had addressed to my uncle, Lord John Russell,
"Like the boughs of that laurel, by Delphi's decree Set apart for the Fane and its service divine, So the branches that spring from the old Russell tree Are by Liberty claimed for the use of her shrine."
In 1841 that same uncle wrote thus to his eldest brother: "Whatever may be said about other families, I do not think ours ought to retire from active exertion. In all times of popular movement, the Russells have been on the 'forward' side. At the Reformation, the first Earl of Bedford; in Charles the First's days, Francis, the Great Earl; in Charles the Second's, William, Lord Russell; in later times, Francis, Duke of Bedford; our father; you; and lastly myself in the Reform Bill."
These hereditary appeals were strong, but there were influences which were stronger. A kind of romantic and religious glamour, such as one had never before connected with politics, seemed to surround this attack on the strongholds of Anti-Christ. The campaign became a crusade.
Towards the end of 1879 I accepted an invitation to contest "the Borough and Hundreds of Aylesbury" at the next General Election. The "Borough" was a compact and attractive-looking town, and the "Hundreds" which surrounded it covered an area nearly coextensive with the present division of Mid Bucks. Close by was Hampden House, unaltered since the day when four thousand freeholders of Buckinghamshire rode up to Westminster to defend their impeached member, John Hampden. All around were those beech-clad recesses of the Chiltern Hills, in which, according to Lord Beaconsfield, the Great Rebellion was hatched. I do not vouch for that fact, but I can affirm that thirty years ago those recesses sheltered some of the stoutest Liberals whom I have ever known. The town and its surroundings were, for parliamentary purposes, a Borough, and, as all householders in Boroughs had been enfranchised by the Reform Act of 1867, the Agricultural Labourers of the district were already voters.
It happens that Agricultural Labourers are the class of voters with which I am most familiar; and an intimate acquaintance with these men has taught me increasingly to admire their staunchness, their shrewdness, and their racy humour. Two or three of the old sayings come back to memory as I write. "More pigs and less parsons" must have been a survival from the days of Tithe. "The Black Recruiting Sergeant" was a nickname for a canvassing Incumbent. "I tell you how it is with a State-Parson," cried a Village Hampden: "if you take away his book, he can't preach. If you take away his gown he mayn't preach. If you take away his screw, he'll be d—d if he'll preach." A Radical M.P. suddenly deserted his constituency and took a peerage, and this was the verdict of the Village Green: "Mister So-and-so says he's going to the House of Lords to 'leaven it with Liberal principles.' Bosh! Mr. So-and-so can't no more leaven the House of Lords than you can sweeten a cartload of muck with a pot of marmalade."
Aylesbury returned two Members to Parliament, and its political history had been chequered. When first I came to know it, the two members were Mr. Samuel George Smith and Sir Nathaniel de Rothschild (afterwards Lord Rothschild). Mr. Smith was a Tory. Sir Nathaniel professed to be a Liberal; but, as his Liberalism was of the sort which had doggedly supported Lord Beaconsfield all through the Eastern Question, the more enthusiastic spirits in the constituency felt that they were wholly unrepresented. It was they who invited me to stand. From the first, Sir Nathaniel made it known that he would not support or coalesce with me; and perhaps, considering the dissimilarity of our politics, it was just as well. So there were three candidates, fighting independently for two seats; there was no Corrupt Practices Act in those days; and the situation was neatly summarized by a tradesman of the town. "Our three candidates are Mr. S. G. Smith, head of 'Smith, Payne & Co.;' Sir Nathaniel de Rothschild, head of 'N. M. Rothschild & Sons,' and Mr. George Russell, who, we understand, has the Duke of Bedford behind him. So we are looking forward to a very interesting contest." That word interesting was well chosen.
Now began the most vivid and enjoyable portion of my life. Everything conspired to make it pleasant. In the first place, I believed absolutely in my cause. I was not, as Sydney Smith said, "stricken by the palsy of candour." There were no doubts or questionings or ambiguities in my mind. My creed with regard both to foreign and to domestic politics was clear, positive, and deliberate. I was received with the most extraordinary kindness and enthusiasm by people who really longed to have a hand in the dethronement of Lord Beaconsfield, and who believed in their politics as part of their religion.
After my first speech in the Corn Exchange of Aylesbury I was severely reprehended because I had called Lord Beaconsfield a "Jew." If I had known better, I should have said "a Semite" or "an Israelite," or—his own phrase—"a Mosaic Arab," and all would have been well. I had and have close friends among the Jews, so my use of the offending word was not dictated by racial or social prejudice. But it expressed a strong conviction. I held then, and I hold now, that it was a heavy misfortune for England that, during the Eastern Question, her Prime Minister was one of the Ancient Race. The spiritual affinity between Judaism and Mahomedanism, founded on a common denial of the Christian Creed, could not be without its influence on a statesman whose deepest convictions, from first to last, were with the religion of his forefathers. In 1876 Mr. Gladstone wrote—"Some new lights about Disraeli's Judaic feeling, in which he is both consistent and conscientious, have come in upon me." And similar "lights" dictated my action and my language at the crisis of 1879-1880.
Another element of enjoyment was that I was young—only twenty-six. Youth is an invaluable asset in a first campaign. Youth can canvass all day, and harangue all night. It can traverse immense distances without fatigue, make speeches in the open air without catching cold, sleep anywhere, eat anything, and even drink port with a grocer's label on it, at five in the afternoon. Then again, I had a natural and inborn love of public speaking, and I have known no enjoyment in life equal to that of addressing a great audience which you feel to be actively sympathetic.
Yes, that spring of 1880 was a delightful time. As the condemned highwayman said to the chaplain who was exhorting him to repentance for his life of adventure on the road—"You dog, it was delicious." It was all so new. One emerged (like Herbert Gladstone) from the obscurity of College rooms or from the undistinguished herd of London ball-goers, or from the stables and stubbles of a country home, and became, all in a moment, a Personage. For the first time in one's life one found that people—grown-up, sensible, vote-possessing people—wished to know one's opinions, and gave heed to one's words. For the first time, one had "Colours" of one's own, as if one were a Regiment or a University; for the first time one beheld one's portrait, flattering though perhaps mud-bespattered, on every wall. For the first time one was cheered in the street, and entered the Corn-Exchange amid what the Liberal paper called "thunders of applause," and the opponent's organ whittled down to "cheers."
But canvassing cannot, I think, be reckoned among the pleasures of a candidature. One must be very young indeed to find it even tolerable. A candidate engaged in a house-to-house canvass has always seemed to me (and not least clearly when I was the candidate) to sink beneath the level of humanity. To beg for votes, as if they were alms or broken victuals, is a form of mendicancy which is incompatible with common self-respect, and yet it is a self-abasement which thirty years ago custom imperatively demanded. "If my vote ain't worth calling for, I suppose it ain't worth 'aving" was the formula in which the elector stated his requirement.
To trudge, weary and footsore, dusty and deliquescent, from door to door; to ask, with damnable iteration, if Mr. So-and-so is at home, and to meet the invariable rejoinder, "No, he isn't," not seldom running on with—"And, if he was, he wouldn't see you;" to find oneself (being Blue) in a Red quarter, where the very children hoot at you, and inebriate matrons shout personalities from upper windows—all this is detestable enough. But to find the voter at home and unfriendly is an experience which plunges the candidate lower still. A curious tradition of privileged insolence, which runs through all English history from the days when great men kept Jesters and the Universities had their Terrae Filii, asserts itself, by immemorial usage, at an election. People who would be perfectly civil if one called on them in the ordinary way, and even rapturously grateful if they could sell one six boxes of lucifers or a pound of toffee, permit themselves a freedom of speech to the suppliant candidate, which tests the fibre of his manhood. If he loses his temper and answers in like sort, the door is shut on him with some Parthian jeer, and, as he walks dejectedly away, the agent says—"Ah, it's a pity you offended that fellow. He's very influential in this ward, and I believe a civil word would have won him." If, on the other hand, the candidate endures the raillery and smiles a sickly smile, he really fares no better. After a prolonged battle of wits (in which he takes care not to be too successful) he discovers that the beery gentleman in shirtsleeves has no vote, and that, in the time which he has spent in these fruitless pleasantries, he might have canvassed half the street.
There is, of course, a pleasanter side to canvassing. It warms the cockles of one's heart to be greeted with the words, "Don't waste your time here, sir. My vote's yours before you ask for it. There's your picture over the chimney-piece." And when a wife says, "My husband is out at work, but I know he means to vote for you," one is inclined to embrace her on the spot.
These are the amenities of electioneering; but a man who enters on a political campaign expecting fair treatment from his opponents is indeed walking in a vain shadow. The ordinary rules of fairplay and straightforward conduct are forgotten at an election. In a political contest people say and do a great many things of which in every-day life they would be heartily ashamed. An election-agent of the old school once said to me in the confidence of after-dinner claret, "For my own part, when I go into a fight, I go in to win, and I'm not particular to a shade or two." All this is the common form of electioneering, but in one respect I think my experience rather unusual. I have been all my life as keen a Churchman as I am a Liberal, and some of my closest friends are clergymen. I never found that the Nonconformists were the least unfriendly to me on this account. They had their own convictions, and they respected mine; and we could work together in perfect concord for the causes of Humanity and Freedom. But the most unscrupulous opponents whom I have ever encountered have been the parochial clergy of the Church to which I belong, and the bands of "workers" whom they direct. Tennyson once depicted a clergyman who—
"From a throne Mounted in heaven should shoot into the dark Arrows of lightnings,"
and graciously added that he "would stand and mark." But, when the Vicar from his pulpit-throne launches barbed sayings about "those who would convert our schools into seminaries of Atheism or Socialism, and would degrade this hallowed edifice into a Lecture-Hall—nay, a Music-Hall," then the Liberal candidate, constrained to "sit and mark" these bolts aimed at his cause, is tempted to a breach of charity. The Vicar's "workers" follow suit, but descend a little further into personalities. "You know that the Radical Candidate arrived drunk at one of his meetings? He had to be lifted out of the carriage, and kept in the Committee Room till he was sober. Shocking, isn't it? and then such shameful hypocrisy to talk about Local Option! But can you wonder? You know he's an atheist? Oh yes, I know he goes to Church, but that's all a blind. His one object is to do away with Religion. Yes, they do say he has been in the Divorce Court, but I should not like to say I know it, though I quite believe it. His great friend, Mr. Comus, certainly was, and Mr. Quickly only got off by paying an immense sum in hush-money. They're all tarred with the same brush, and it really is a religious duty to keep them out of Parliament."
Such I have observed to be the attitude of parochial clergy and church-workers towards Liberal candidates.
"They said their duty both to man and God Required such conduct—which seemed very odd."
I suppose they would have justified it by that zeal for Established Churches and Sectarian Schools which, if it does not actually "eat up" its votaries, certainly destroys their sense of proportion and perspective.
Though I have said so much about the pugnacity of the clergy, I would not have it supposed that the Tory laity were slack or backward in political activity. To verbal abuse one soon became case-hardened; but one had also to encounter physical violence. In those days, stones and cabbage-stalks and rotten eggs still played a considerable part in electioneering. Squires hid their gamekeepers in dark coppices with instructions to pelt one as one drove past after dark. The linch-pin was taken out of one's carriage while one was busy at a meeting; and it was thought seriously unsafe for the candidate to walk unescorted through the hostile parts of the borough.
But, after all, this animosity, theological, moral, physical, did no great harm. It quickened the zeal and strengthened the resolve of one's supporters; and it procured one the inestimable aid of young, active, and pugnacious friends, who formed themselves into a body-guard and a cycle-corps, protecting their candidate when the play was rough, and spreading the light all over the constituency.
Why did not Lord Beaconsfield dissolve Parliament in July, 1878, when he returned in a blaze of triumph from the Congress of Berlin? Probably because his nerve had failed him, and he chose to retain his supremacy unquestioned, rather than commit it to the chances of a General Election. Anyhow, he let the moment pass; and from that time on his Government began to lose ground. In 1879 Vanity Fair, a strongly Disraelitish organ, pronounced (under a cartoon) that Gladstone was the most popular man in England. In the autumn of that year, the "Mid-Lothian Campaign" raised him to the very summit of his great career; and, when Christmas came, most Liberals felt that it was all over except the shouting.
On the 9th of March, 1880, Lord Beaconsfield announced that he had "advised the Queen to recur to the sense of her people." His opponents remarked that the nonsense of her people was likely to serve his turn a good deal better; and to the task of exposing and correcting that nonsense we vigorously applied ourselves during the remaining weeks of Lent. It is true that the same statesman had once declared himself "on the side of the Angels" in order to reassure the clergy, and had once dated a letter on "Maundy Thursday" in order to secure the High Church vote. Encouraged by these signs of grace, some of his followers mildly remonstrated against a Lenten dissolution and an Easter poll. But counsels which might have weighed with Mr. Disraeli, M.P. for Bucks (who had clerical constituents), were thrown away on Lord Beaconsfield, who had the Crown, Lords, and Commons on his side; and on the 24th of March the Parliament which he had dominated for six years was scattered to the winds.
Electioneering in rural districts was pure joy. It was a delicious spring, bright and yet soft, and the beech-forests of the Chilterns were in early leafage.
"There is a rapturous movement, a green growing, Among the hills and valleys once again, And silent rivers of delight are flowing Into the hearts of men.
"There is a purple weaving on the heather, Night drops down starry gold upon the furze; Wild rivers and wild birds sing songs together, Dead Nature breathes and stirs."
In the spring of 1880, Nature had no monopoly of seasonable life. Humanity was up and doing. Calm people were roused to passion, and lethargic people to activity. There was hurrying and rushing and plotting and planning, and all the fierce but fascinating bustle of a great campaign. One hurried across the Vale from a Farmers' Ordinary, where one had been exposing Lord Beaconsfield's nonsense about the "Three Profits" of agricultural land, to a turbulent meeting in a chapel or a barn (for the use of the schoolroom was denied to the Liberal candidate). As we drove through the primrose-studded lanes, or past the village green, the bell was ringing from the grey tower of the Parish Church, and summoning the villagers to the daily Evensong of Holy Week. The contrast was too violent to be ignored; and yet, for a citizen who took his citizenship seriously, the meeting was an even more imperative duty than the service. Hostilities were suspended for Good Friday, Easter Even, and Easter Day, but on Easter Monday they broke out again with redoubled vigour; and, before the week was over, the Paschal Alleluias were blending strangely with paeans of victory over conquered foes. When even so grave and spiritually-minded a man as Dean Church wrote to a triumphant Gladstonian, "I don't wonder at your remembering the Song of Miriam," it is manifest that political fervour had reached a very unusual point.
On the 2nd of April I was returned to Parliament, as colleague of Sir Nathaniel de Rothschild, in the representation of Aylesbury. We were the last Members for that ancient Borough, for, before the next General Election came round, it had been merged, by Redistribution, in Mid Bucks. The Liberal victory was overwhelming. Lord Beaconsfield, who had expected a very different result, resigned on the 18th of April, and Gladstone became Prime Minister for the second time. Truly his enemies had been made his footstool. On the 30th of April I took the oath and my seat in the House of Commons, and a fresh stage of life began.
 I must except from this general indictment the Rev. A. T. Lloyd, Vicar of Aylesbury in 1880, and afterwards Bishop of Newcastle. A strong Conservative, but eminently a Christian gentleman.
 Archbishop Alexander.
"Still in the Senate, whatsoe'er we lack, It is not genius;—call old giants back, And men now living might as tall appear; Judged by our sons, not us—we stand too near. Ne'er of the living can the living judge— Too blind the affection, or too fresh the grudge." BULWER-LYTTON, St. Stephen's.
"In old days it was the habit to think and say that the House of Commons was an essentially 'queer place,' which no one could understand until he was a Member of it. It may, perhaps, be doubted whether that somewhat mysterious quality still altogether attaches to that assembly. 'Our own Reporter' has invaded it in all its purlieus. No longer content with giving an account of the speeches of its members, he is not satisfied unless he describes their persons, their dress, and their characteristic mannerisms. He tells us how they dine, even the wines and dishes which they favour, and follows them into the very mysteries of their smoking-room. And yet there is perhaps a certain fine sense of the feelings, and opinions, and humours of this Assembly which cannot be acquired by hasty notions and necessarily superficial remarks, but must be the result of long and patient observation, and of that quick sympathy with human sentiment, in all its classes, which is involved in the possession of that inestimable quality styled tact.
"When Endymion Ferrars first took his seat in the House of Commons, it still fully possessed its character of enigmatic tradition. For himself, Endymion entered the Chamber with a certain degree of awe, which, with use, diminished, but never entirely disappeared. The scene was one over which his boyhood even had long mused, and it was associated with all those traditions of genius, eloquence, and power that charm and inspire youth. His acquaintance with the forms and habits of the House was of great advantage to him, and restrained that excitement which dangerously accompanies us when we enter into a new life, and especially a life of such deep and thrilling interests and such large proportions."
I quote these words from a statesman who knew the House of Commons more thoroughly than anyone else has ever known it; and, though Lord Beaconsfield was describing the Parliament which assembled in August, 1841, his description would fit, with scarcely the alteration of a word, the Parliament in which I took my seat in April, 1880.
The "acquaintance with the forms and habits of the House," which Lord Beaconsfield attributes to his favourite Endymion, was also mine; from my earliest years I had been familiar with every nook and corner of the Palace of Westminster. My father's official residence in Speaker's Court communicated by a private door with the corridors of the Palace, and my father's privilege as Sergeant-at-Arms enabled him to place me in, or under, the Gallery whenever there was a debate or a scene of special interest. I was early initiated into all the forms and ceremonies of the House; the manoeuvres of the mace, the obeisances to the Chair, the rap of "Black Rod" on the locked door, the daily procession of Mr. Speaker and his attendants (which Sir Henry Irving pronounced the most theatrically effective thing of its kind in our public life).
The Sergeant-at-Arms has in his gift the appointment of all the doorkeepers, messengers, and attendants of the House; and, as my father was Sergeant from 1848 to 1875, the staff was almost exclusively composed of men who had been servants in our own or our friends' families. This circumstance was vividly brought home to me on the day on which I first entered the House. In the Members' Lobby I was greeted by a venerable-looking official who bowed, smiled, and said, when I shook hands with him, "Well, sir, I'm glad, indeed, to see you here; and, when I think that I helped to put both your grandfather and your grandmother into their coffins, it makes me feel quite at home with you."
The first duty of a new House of Commons is to elect a Speaker, and on the 7th of April, 1880, we re-elected Mr. Henry Brand (afterwards Lord Hampden), who had been Speaker since 1872. Mr. Brand was a short man, but particularly well set up, and in his wig and gown he carried himself with a dignity which fully made up for the lack of inches. His voice was mellow, and his utterance slightly pompous, so that the lightest word which fell from his lips conveyed a sense of urbane majesty. He looked what he was, and what the traditions of the House required—a country gentleman of the highest type. One of the most noticeable traits was his complexion, fresh and rosy as a boy's. I well remember one day, after a stormy "all-night sitting," saying to his train-bearer, "The Speaker has borne it wonderfully. He looks as fresh as paint." Whereupon the train-bearer, a man of a depressed spirit, made answer, "Ah! sir, it's the Speaker's 'igh colour that deceives you. 'E'll 'ave that same 'igh colour when 'e's laid out in 'is coffin."
The election of the Speaker having been duly accomplished, and the Members sworn in, the House adjourned till the 20th of May, then to meet for the despatch of business; and this may be a convenient point for a brief recapitulation of recent events.
Lord Hartington (afterwards eighth Duke of Devonshire) had been, ever since the beginning of 1875, the recognized leader of the Liberal Party. But, when Gladstone re-entered the field as the foremost assailant of Lord Beaconsfield's policy, Lord Hartington's authority over his party was sensibly diminished. Indeed, it is not too much to say that he was brushed on one side, and that all the fervour and fighting power of the Liberal Party were sworn to Gladstone's standard.
When the General Election of 1880 reached its close, everyone felt that Gladstone was now the real, though not the titular, leader of the Liberal Party, and the inevitable Prime Minister. Lord Beaconsfield did not wait for an adverse vote in the new House, but resigned on the 18th of April. We do not at present know, but no doubt we shall know when Mr. Monypenny's "Life" is completed, whether Queen Victoria consulted Lord Beaconsfield as to his successor. A friend of mine once asked the Queen this plain question: "When a Prime Minister goes out, does he recommend a successor?" And the Queen replied, with equal plainness, "Not unless I ask him to do so." There can, I think, be little doubt that Her Majesty, in April, 1880, asked Lord Beaconsfield's advice in this delicate matter, and we may presume that the advice was that Her Majesty should follow the constitutional practice, and send for Lord Hartington, as being the leader of the victorious party. This was done, and on the 22nd of April Lord Hartington waited on Her Majesty at Windsor, and was invited to form an Administration. Feeling in the Liberal Party ran very high. It was not for this that we had fought and won. If Gladstone did not become Prime Minister, our victory would be robbed of half its joy; and great was our jubilation when we learned that the task had been declined. As the precise nature of the transaction has often been misrepresented, it is as well to give it in Lord Hartington's own words—
"The advice which Lord Hartington gave to the Queen from first to last was that Her Majesty should send for Mr. Gladstone, and consult him as to the formation of a Government; and that, if he should be willing to undertake the task, she should call upon him to form an Administration.
"Lord Hartington had up to that time had no communication with Mr. Gladstone on the subject, and did not know what his views as to returning to office might be. With the Queen's permission, Lord Hartington, on his return from Windsor, informed Mr. Gladstone and Lord Granville, but no other person, of what had passed between Her Majesty and himself."
The result of that interview was a foregone conclusion. If Lord Hartington consented to form an Administration, Gladstone would not take a place in it. If he was not to be Prime Minister, he must remain outside. Having put this point beyond the reach of doubt, Lord Hartington returned next day to Windsor, accompanied by Lord Granville, who led the Liberal Party in the House of Lords. They both assured the Queen that the victory was Gladstone's, and that the Liberal Party would be satisfied with no other Prime Minister. The two statesmen returned to London in the afternoon, and called on Gladstone. He was expecting them and the message which they brought. He went down to Windsor without an hour's delay, and that evening "kissed hands" as Prime Minister for the second time.
This was the climax of his career. He had dethroned Lord Beaconsfield. He had vindicated the cause of humanity and freedom all over the world; and he had been recalled, by unanimous acclamation, to the task of governing the British Empire. On the 20th of May he met his twelfth Parliament, and the second in which he had been Chief Minister of the Crown. "At 4.15," he wrote in his diary, "I went down to the House with Herbert. There was a great and fervent crowd in Palace Yard, and much feeling in the House. It almost overpowered me, as I thought by what deep and hidden agencies I have been brought into the midst of the vortex of political action and contention.... Looking calmly on the course of experience, I do believe that the Almighty has employed me for His purposes in a manner larger or more special than before, and has strengthened me and led me on accordingly, though I must not forget the admirable saying of Hooker, that even ministers of good things are like torches—a light to others, waste and destruction to themselves."
The conviction so solemnly expressed by Gladstone was entertained by not a few of his followers. We felt that, Deo adjuvante, we had won a famous victory for the cause of Right; and, as a Party, we "stood on the top of golden hours." An overwhelming triumph after a desperate fight; an immense majority, in which internecine jealousies were, at least for the moment, happily composed; a leader of extraordinary powers and popularity; an administration of All the Talents; an attractive and practicable programme of Ministerial measures—these were some of the elements in a condition unusually prosperous and promising. But trained observers of political phenomena laid even greater stress on Gladstone's personal ascendancy over the House of Commons. Old and experienced Members of Parliament instructed the newcomer to watch carefully the methods of his leadership, because it was remarkable for its completeness, its dexterity, and the willing submission with which it was received.
The pre-eminence of the Premier was, indeed, the most noteworthy feature which the new House presented to the student of Parliamentary life. Whether considered morally or intellectually, he seemed to tower a head and shoulders above his colleagues, and above the Front Opposition Bench. The leader of the Opposition was the amiable and accomplished Sir Stafford Northcote, afterwards Lord Iddesleigh, a
"scrupulous, good man, Who would not, with a peremptory tone, Assert the nose upon his face his own."
In his youth he had been Gladstone's Private Secretary, and he still seemed to tremble at his old chief's glance.
But, when everything looked so fair and smiling, Speaker Brand quietly noted in his diary, that the Liberal Party "were not only strong, but determined to have their way in spite of Mr. Gladstone." And this determination to "have their way" was soon and startlingly manifested, and challenged the personal ascendancy of which we had heard so much.
Charles Bradlaugh, a defiant Atheist, and the teacher of a social doctrine which decent people abhor, had been returned as one of the Members for Northampton. When the other Members were sworn, he claimed a right to affirm, which was disallowed on legal grounds. He thereupon proposed to take the oath in the ordinary way; the Tories objected, and the Speaker weakly gave way. The House, on a division, decided that Bradlaugh must neither affirm nor swear. In effect, it decreed that a duly elected Member was not to take his seat. On the 23rd of June, Bradlaugh came to the table of the House, and again claimed his right to take the oath. The Speaker read the Resolution of the House forbidding it. Thereupon Bradlaugh asked to be heard, and addressed the House from the Bar. I happened to be dining that night with Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone in Downing Street. Gladstone came in full of excitement, and pronounced Bradlaugh's speech "consummate." However, it availed nothing. Bradlaugh was ordered to withdraw from the House; refused, and was committed to a farcical imprisonment of two days in the Clock Tower; and so, as Lord Morley says, there "opened a series of incidents that went on as long as the Parliament, clouded the radiance of the Party triumph, threw the new Government at once into a minority, dimmed the ascendancy of the great Minister, and showed human nature at its worst." From the day when Bradlaugh's case was first mooted, it became apparent that the Liberal Party contained a good many men who had only the frailest hold on the primary principles of Liberalism, and who, under the pressure of social and theological prejudice, were quite ready to join the Tories in a tyrannical negation of Religious Liberty. Gladstone, though deserted and defeated by his own followers, maintained the righteous cause with a signal consistency and courage. There was no one in the world to whom Bradlaugh's special opinions could have been more abhorrent; but he felt—and we who followed him felt the same—that the cause of God and morality can never be served by the insolent refusal of a civil right.
There is no need to recapitulate the story in all its stages, but one incident deserves commemoration. In April, 1883, Gladstone brought in an Affirmation Bill, permitting Members of Parliament (as witnesses in Law-Courts were already permitted) to affirm their allegiance instead of swearing it. On the 26th of April he moved the Second Reading of the Bill in the finest speech which I have ever heard. Under the existing system (which admitted Jews to Parliament, but excluded Atheists), to deny the existence of God was a fatal bar, but to deny the Christian Creed was no bar at all. This, as Gladstone contended, was a formal disparagement of Christianity, which was thereby relegated to a place of secondary importance. And then, on the general question of attaching civil penalties to religious misbelief, he uttered a passage which no one who heard it can forget. "Truth is the expression of the Divine Mind; and, however little our feeble vision may be able to discern the means by which God may provide for its preservation, we may leave the matter in His hands, and we may be sure that a firm and courageous application of every principle of equity and of justice is the best method we can adopt for the preservation and influence of Truth."
The Bill was lost by a majority of three, recreant Liberals again helping to defeat the just claim of a man whom they disliked; and Bradlaugh did not take his seat until the new Parliament in 1886 admitted, without a division, the right which the old Parliament had denied. Meanwhile, a few of us, actuated by the desperate hope of bringing the clergy to a right view of the controversy, printed Gladstone's speech as a pamphlet, and sent a copy, with a covering letter, to every beneficed clergyman in England, Scotland, and Ireland. One of the clergy thus addressed sent me the following reply, which has ever since been hoarded among my choicest treasures:
June 16th, 1883. MY DEAR SIR,
I have received your recommendation to read carefully the speech of Mr. Gladstone in favour of admitting the infidel Bradlaugh into Parliament. I did so, when it was delivered, and I must say that the strength of argument rests with the Opposition. I fully expect, in the event of a dissolution, the Government will lose between 50 and 60 seats.
Any conclusion can be arrived at, according to the premises laid down. Mr. G. avoided the Scriptural lines and followed his own. All parties knew the feeling of the country on the subject, and, notwithstanding the bullying and majority of Gladstone, he was defeated.
Before the Irish Church was robbed, I was nominated to the Deanery of Tuam; but, Mr. Disraeli resigning, I was defrauded of my just right by Mr. Gladstone, and my wife, Lady —— ——, the only surviving child of an Earl, was sadly disappointed, but there is a just Judge above. The letter of nomination is still in my possession. I am, dear Sir, Yours faithfully, —— ——, D.D. and LL.D.
One is often asked if Gladstone had any sense of humour. My simple and sufficient reply is that, when he had read this letter, he returned it to my hands with a knitted brow and flashing eyes, and this indignant question: "What does the fellow mean by quoting an engagement entered into by my predecessor as binding on me?"
The good fortune, which had so signally attended Gladstone's campaign against Lord Beaconsfield, seemed to desert him as soon as the victory was won. The refusal of the House to follow his lead in Bradlaugh's case put heart of grace into his opponents, who saw thus early in the new Parliament a hopeful opening for vicious attack. The Front Opposition Bench, left to its own devices, would not have accomplished much, but it was splendidly reinforced by the Fourth Party—a Party of Four—Lord Randolph Churchill, Sir Henry Drummond-Wolff, Sir John Gorst, and Mr. Arthur Balfour. Some light has been cast by recent memoirs on the mutual relations of the Four; but beyond question the head and front of the Party was Lord Randolph. That ingenious man possessed a deadly knack of "drawing" Gladstone, as the boys say. He knew the great man's "vulnerable temper and impetuous moods," and delighted in exercising them. He pelted Gladstone with rebukes and taunts and gibes, and the recipient of these attentions "rose freely." There was something rather unpleasant in the spectacle of a man of thirty playing these tricks upon a man of seventy; but one could not deny that the tricks were extremely clever; and beyond doubt they did a vast deal to consolidate the performer's popularity out of doors. It is not too much to say that, by allowing himself to be drawn, Gladstone made Lord Randolph.
The most formidable enemy of the Liberal Party in the House of Commons was Parnell; and, when he joined forces with the Fourth Party and their adherents, the conjunction was disastrous to Liberalism. He figures in Lord Morley's "Life" of Gladstone as a high-souled and amiable patriot. I always thought him entirely destitute of humane feeling, and a bitter enemy of England. I remember the late Lord Carlisle, then George Howard and Member for East Cumberland, gazing at Parnell across the House and quoting from The Newcomes—"The figure of this garcon is not agreeable. Of pale, he has become livid." A lady who met him in a country house wrote me this interesting account of him:
"I cannot exaggerate the impression he made on me. I never before felt such power and magnetic force in any man. As for his eyes, if he looks at you, you can't look away, and, if he doesn't, you are wondering how soon he will look at you again. I'm afraid I have very little trust in his goodness—I should think it a very minus quantity; but I believe absolutely in his strength and his power of influence. I should be sorry if he were my enemy, for I think he would stop at nothing."
At the General Election of 1880, Irish questions were completely in the background. The demand for Home Rule was not taken seriously, even by Mr. John Morley, who stood unsuccessfully for Westminster. Ireland was politically tranquil, and the distress due to the failure of the crops had been alleviated by the combined action of Englishmen irrespective of party. But during the summer of 1880 it was found that the Irish landlords were evicting wholesale the tenants whom famine had impoverished. To provide compensation for these evicted tenants was the object of a well-meant but hastily drawn "Disturbance Bill," which the Government passed through the Commons. It was rejected by an overwhelming majority in the Lords, and the natural consequence of its rejection was seen in the ghastly record of outrage and murder which stained the following winter.
The Session of 1881 opened on the 6th of January. The speech from the Throne announced two Irish Bills—one to reform the tenure of land, and one to repress crime and outrage. The combination was stigmatized by Mr. T. P. O'Connor as "weak reform and strong coercion"; and the same vivacious orator, alluding to Mr. Chamberlain's supposed sympathy with the Irish cause, taunted the Right Honourable gentleman with having had "if not the courage of his convictions, at least the silence of his shame."
The debate on the Address in the Commons lasted eleven nights, the Irish Members moving endless amendments, with the avowed object of delaying the Coercion Bill, which was eventually brought in by Forster on the 24th January. The gist of the Bill was arrest on suspicion and imprisonment without trial. The Irish Members fought it tooth and nail, and were defied by Gladstone in a speech of unusual fire. "With fatal and painful precision," he exclaimed, "the steps of crime dogged the steps of the Land League; and it is not possible to get rid of facts such as I have stated, by vague and general complaints, by imputations against parties, imputations against England, or imputations against Government. You must meet them, and confute them, if you can. None will rejoice more than myself if you can attain such an end. But in the meantime they stand, and they stand uncontradicted, in the face of the British House of Commons." The speech in which this tremendous indictment was delivered attracted loud cheers from Liberals and Conservatives alike, but stirred the Irish to fury. I remember Mr. O'Connor saying to me, "If only Gladstone had been in opposition, how he would have enjoyed tearing into shreds the statistics which he has just quoted!" The resistance to the Bill became impassioned. The House sat continuously from the afternoon of January 31st to the forenoon of February 2nd. Members were divided, like miners, into Day-Shifts and Night-Shifts. The Refreshment-Rooms at the House were kept open all night, and we recruited our exhausted energies with grilled bones, oysters, and champagne, and went to bed at breakfast-time. At 9.30 on Wednesday morning, February 2nd, Mr. Speaker Brand, who had been absent from the House for some hours, suddenly resumed the Chair, and, without waiting for J. G. Biggar to finish his speech, put the question that leave be given to bring in the Coercion Bill. The Irish raved and stormed, and cried out against the Speaker's action as "a Breach of Privilege." That it was not; but it was an unexpected and a salutary revolution. When questioned, later in the day, as to the authority on which he had acted, the Speaker said, "I acted on my own responsibility, and from a sense of my duty to the House." Thus was established, summarily and under unprecedented circumstances, that principle of Closure which has since developed into an indispensable feature of Parliamentary procedure.
The Session as a whole was extremely dull. The Irish Land Bill was so complicated that, according to common report, only three persons in the House understood it, and they were Gladstone, the Irish Chancellor, and Mr. T. M. Healy. The only amusing incident was that on the 16th of June, owing to the attendance of Liberal Members at Ascot Races, the majority on a critical division fell to twenty-five. Having occupied the whole Session, the Bill was so mangled by the House of Lords that the best part of another year had to be spent on mending it. Meanwhile, the Coercion Bill proved, in working, a total failure. Forster had averred that the police knew the "Village Ruffians" who incited to crime, and that, if only he were empowered to imprison them without trial, outrages would cease. But either he did not lay hold of the right men, or else imprisonment had no terrors; for all through the autumn and winter of 1881 agrarian crimes increased with terrible rapidity. In a fit of desperation, Forster cast Parnell into prison, and Gladstone announced the feat amid the tumultuous applause of the Guildhall. But things only went from bad to worse, and soon there were forty agrarian murders unpunished. Having imprisoned Parnell without trial, and kept him in prison for six months, the Government now determined to release him, in the hope, for certainly there was no assurance, that he would behave like a repentant child who has been locked up in a dark cupboard, and would use his influence to restore order in Ireland. Dissenting, as well he might, from this policy, Forster resigned. His resignation was announced on the 2nd of May. That evening I met Gladstone at a party, and, in answer to an anxious friend, he said: "The state of Ireland is very greatly improved." Ardent Liberals on both sides of the Channel shared this sanguine faith, but they were doomed to a cruel disappointment. On the 6th of May, the Queen performed the public ceremony of dedicating Epping Forest, then lately rescued from depredation, to the service of the public. It was a forward spring; the day was bright, and the forest looked more beautiful than anything that Dore ever painted. I was standing in the space reserved for the House of Commons, by W. H. O'Sullivan, M.P. for the County of Limerick. He was an ardent Nationalist, but recent events had touched his heart, and he overflowed with friendly feeling. "This is a fine sight," he said to me, "but, please God, we shall yet see something like it in Ireland. We have entered at last upon the right path. You will hear no more of the Irish difficulty." Within an hour of the time at which he spoke, the newly-appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland—the gallant and high-minded Lord Frederick Cavendish—and the Under Secretary, Mr. Burke, were stabbed to death in the Phoenix Park at Dublin, and the "Irish difficulty" entered on the acutest phase which it has ever known.
At that time Lord Northbrook was First Lord of the Admiralty, and on Saturday evening, the 6th of May, he gave a party at his official residence. The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh were among the guests, and there was some music after dinner. In the middle of the performance, I noticed a slight commotion, and saw a friend leading Mrs. Gladstone out of the room. The incident attracted attention, and people began to whisper that Gladstone, who was not at the party, must have been taken suddenly ill. While we were all wondering and guessing, a waiter leaned across the buffet in the tea-room, and said to me, "Lord Frederick Cavendish has been murdered in Dublin. I am a Messenger at the Home Office, and we heard it by telegram this evening." In an incredibly short time the ghastly news spread from room to room, and the guests trooped out in speechless horror. That night brought a condition more like delirium than repose. One felt as though Hell had opened her mouth, and the Powers of Darkness had been let loose. Next day London was like a city of the dead, and by Monday all England was in mourning. Sir Wilfrid Lawson thus described that awful Sunday: "The effect was horrifying—almost stupefying. No one who walked in the streets of London that day can ever forget the sort of ghastly depression which seemed to affect everyone. Perfect strangers seemed disposed to speak in sympathizing, horror-stricken words with those whom they met. In short, there was a moral gloom which could be felt over the whole place."
 Lord Beaconsfield. Endymion.
 The following incident may be worth recording for the information of such as are interested in the antiquities of Parliament. I first took my seat on the highest bench above and behind the Treasury Bench, under the shadow of the Gallery. A few days later, an old Parliamentarian said to me, "That's quite the wrong place for you. That belongs to ancient Privy Councillors, and they sit there because, if any difficulty arises, the Minister in charge of the business can consult them, without being observed by everyone in the House." That was the tradition in 1880, but it has long since died out.
 Afterwards Lord Gladstone.
 Gladstone's own phrase.
 Afterwards Lord Morley of Blackburn.
 The Right Hon. Hugh Law.
"Ne'er to these chambers, where the mighty rest, Since their foundation came a nobler guest; Nor e'er was to the bowers of bliss conveyed A fairer spirit, or more welcome shade." T. TICKELL, On the death of Mr. Addison.
Lord Frederick Cavendish was laid to rest with his forefathers at Edensor, near Chatsworth, on the 11th of May, 1882—and on the evening of that day the Home Secretary, Sir William Harcourt, brought in a "Prevention of Crimes Bill" for Ireland, designed to supersede the Coercion Act which had proved such a dismal failure. The new Bill provided for the creation of special tribunals composed of Judges of the Superior Courts, who could sit without juries; and gave the police the right of search at any time in proclaimed districts, and authorized them to arrest any persons unable to give an account of themselves. The Bill was succinctly described as "Martial Law in a Wig," and, as such, it was exactly adapted to the needs of a country in which social war had raged unchecked for two years. The murderous conspiracy died hard, but experience soon justified those who had maintained that, as soon as a proper tribunal was constituted, evidence would be forthcoming. The Act was courageously administered by Lord Spencer and Sir George Trevelyan, under circumstances of personal and political peril which the present generation can hardly realize. In less than two years the murderers of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke had been hanged; the conspiracy which organized the murders had been broken up; and social order was permanently re-established.