Historical and Political Essays
by William Edward Hartpole Lecky
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Mr. Gladstone soon re-united the sundered sections of the Opposition by raising the question of the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. The resolutions asserting the expediency of this policy were introduced into the House of Commons in April. Lord Stanley was put forward as the principal opponent. His amendment expressed no opinion about the merits of the proposed policy, but simply affirmed that it was a question which ought to be reserved for a new Parliament which was soon to be elected under an altered franchise. In his speech he disclaimed any wish to maintain that the Irish Church Establishment was what it ought to be, but urged that in the condition of Ireland a merely destructive measure would do nothing but harm, that it would serve no good purpose to attack the Establishment without laying down the lines of a definite, constructive ecclesiastical policy, and that it was absurd to launch such a question in the last session of an expiring Parliament. The more ardent spirits of the Tory party strongly censured the ambiguity of this defence, and the Government were beaten by majorities of 56 and 60. The House of Commons was dissolved in the autumn and a large Liberal majority returned. Disraeli at once resigned without waiting for the assembling of Parliament.

In October 1869 the death of Lord Derby terminated the career of his son in the House of Commons, and the following year added very greatly to the happiness of his life by his marriage with the Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury. His attitude in opposition is clearly shown in his published speeches. He had no wish to see the Conservative party again in office till they possessed an assured and homogeneous majority, and he maintained that it should be their main object to strengthen the influence of the more moderate section in the Government. He believed that by habitually pursuing this policy they would best prevent revolutionary changes, mitigate by wise compromises measures which they did not wholly approve, secure the continuance of the harmony of classes, on which more than on any other condition the prosperity of England depends, and gradually strengthen their own hold on the confidence of the country. It was also his earnest desire that English politics should be turned as much as possible from a policy of organic change to a policy of administrative reform. He considered it a great evil that public men had acquired the habit of continually tampering with the existing legislative machinery instead of wisely using it for the benefit of the whole nation. The party system, as he always thought, had falsified the perspective of English politics, bringing into the foreground comparatively unimportant questions which were well suited to rally parties and win majorities; thrusting into the background others which were immeasurably more important, but which were less available for party purposes. What Carlyle called 'The Condition of England Question' was always in his thoughts. No one would accuse him of under-rating the evils of war, but he questioned whether the most sanguinary battle which had ever been fought carried off nearly as many human beings as die in England every year from purely preventible causes. He threw the whole force of his clear and penetrating intellect into such questions as sanitary reform, the regulation of mines, the promotion of education and especially technical education, the organisation of charities, the treatment of juvenile offenders, the diffusion of wise methods of encouraging saving among the poor. The overcrowding of the great cities, and the vast masses of insanitary dwellings, seemed to him one of the most pressing dangers of the time, and he was a prominent member of nearly every important company and association in England for improving the houses of artisans. He had no puritanism in his nature and was very anxious, by the establishment of free libraries and people's parks, and Sunday opening of museums, to extend the range of innocent pleasure. 'Men die,' he once said, 'for want of cheerfulness, as plants die for want of light.' He did not believe in the repression of drunkenness by coercive legislation like the Local Veto Bill, but he believed that its true root lay in overcrowding, ignorance, insanitary conditions of life, the want of innocent means of enjoyment, excessive hours of labour. 'When you have to deal with men in masses,' he said, 'the connection between vice and disease is very close. With a low average of popular health you will have a low average of national morality and probably also of national intellect. Drunkenness and vice of other kinds will flourish on such a soil, and you cannot get healthy brains to grow on unhealthy bodies. Cleanliness and self-respect grow together, and it is no paradox to affirm that you tend to purify men's thoughts and feelings when you purify the air they breathe.' He supported liberally the movement for establishing coffee-houses, and he looked with great hope to the co-operative movement as averting or mitigating industrial conflicts. 'The subject of co-operation,' he said, 'is in my judgment more important as regards the future of England than nine-tenths of those which are discussed in Parliament, and around which political controversies gather.' As the possessor of one of the largest properties in England he was excellently informed on all agricultural questions, and he exercised a great influence upon them. Among other services he dispelled many misrepresentations by obtaining an accurate return of the numbers of owners of land in the United Kingdom, and of the quantity of land which they owned.

With the single exception of Lord Shaftesbury, I believe no conspicuous English public man devoted so much time and labour as Lord Derby to the class of questions I have described. He brought to their discussion an almost unrivalled fulness of knowledge. His purse was liberally opened in such causes, and the speeches in which he examined what Government can do and what it cannot do for the material well-being of the poor, are in my judgment among the most valuable contributions to political thought that have been furnished by any English statesman during the present century.

The election of 1874, bringing the Conservative party again into power, called him to other fields, and he became for the second time Foreign Secretary under Disraeli, and was soon involved in that Eastern Question which led to his severance from the Conservative party. It would answer no good purpose in a short sketch like the present to rake up the still smouldering ashes of that controversy. The time will come when it will be reviewed in the calm light of history, and with the assistance of materials that are not now before the public. I shall here content myself with a mere sketch. In the earlier stages of their foreign policy the Government appear to have been perfectly agreed. Lord Derby fully concurred in the purchase of the Khedive's shares in the Suez Canal, which was one of the most successful strokes of policy of the Government, though he defended it on somewhat more prosaic grounds than some of its supporters, and was careful to explain that it was essentially a measure of self-defence, and not connected with any project for the dismemberment of Turkey or the establishment of an English protectorate in Egypt. When the insurrection broke out in 1875 in Herzegovina and Bosnia, neither Lord Derby nor any of his colleagues believed it to be more than a mere passing disturbance. But the feebleness manifested by the Turkish army in suppressing the insurrection, and the partial bankruptcy of the Government at Constantinople, contributed with many elements of race and religious dissension, with foreign intrigue and local misgovernment, to aggravate the sore, and the movement soon acquired the dimensions of a great European danger. In sending an English Consul in conjunction with the Consuls of the other Powers to the scene of insurrection, in order, if possible, to arrive at a mediation; in the acceptance of the Andrassy Note, by which the three Imperial Powers laid down the reforms which they considered urgently necessary; in the rejection of the Berlin Memorandum, on the ground that the Porte could not or would not carry out its demands, and that it would almost certainly lead to an armed intervention; and finally, in sending the British fleet to Besika Bay for the purpose of protecting English and Christian interests at Constantinople, at a time when that city was in a state of almost complete anarchy, the Government were fully agreed, and they carried with them an immense majority in Parliament and in the country. For some time, also, the country seemed to approve of the policy which Lord Derby uniformly avowed and steadily observed, of maintaining a strict neutrality in the contest that was raging; doing all that could be done by advice, remonstrance, mediation, and moral influence to induce the Porte to carry out internal reforms; warning the Turkish Government in clear terms that under the circumstances of the case they must not look for any military assistance from England, but at the same time discouraging as much as possible the active interference of other Powers in the affairs of Turkey, and abstaining rigidly from any step that would involve the use of force or the chance of war unless some serious English interest was affected. He believed that the integrity of the Turkish Empire was a vital English interest, and that any attempt to substitute a Slavonic for a Turkish Empire would bring upon Europe calamities the extent of which it was impossible to exaggerate or to foresee. Russia and Austria would at once come into collision; England would almost certainly be drawn into the war, and all the fierce elements of race hatred and religious fanaticism would be let loose.

For a time most English politicians seem to have agreed with him, and his one great object was to bring about an armistice, a mediation, and a peace. But the popular agitation which arose in England on the subject of the Bulgarian atrocities in the summer and autumn of 1876 added enormously to his difficulties, and the danger was the greater because some skilful party management was blended with much genuine philanthropy. The speeches addressed by Lord Derby to the successive deputations that came to him, give the best explanation and defence of his position during this critical period, and the interruptions to which he had to reply give a vivid picture of the state of feeling that had arisen. The Crimean war was now deplored as a calamity, if not a crime. The Turks were described on high political authority as 'the one great anti-human specimen of humanity.' The Ministers were accused of complicity in the Bulgarian massacres; they were urged to cast neutrality to the wind; to adopt a policy of armed coercion in Turkey; even to assist Russia in driving the Turks out of Constantinople. It had become, as Lord Derby sarcastically said, a very unpopular thing for an English Minister to talk of English interests in connection with the Eastern Question—almost dangerous for any man at a public meeting to express in plain terms his doubt of the disinterested philanthropy of Russia.

Lord Derby had at this time to encounter much unpopularity. He was accused of an undue leaning towards the Turkish Government, and an inadequate sympathy with the Christian populations, and it was alleged that if he had acted in firm concert with the other Powers in coercing the Porte—if he had not proclaimed so loudly and constantly his determination to abstain from all active interference and compulsion—his remonstrances would have had more effect, and he might have averted or restricted the calamities that had occurred. But a great change soon took place. The first object of the Government was to prevent the Turkish disturbance from leading to a European war, and in this object they failed. On April 24, 1877, Russia, in spite of English remonstrances, declared war against Turkey. On the same day a Russian army crossed the Pruth, and the Eastern Question entered into a new and dangerous phase.

To a statesman like Lord Derby, who maintained that war, unless it is a necessity, is a crime; that the maintenance of peace is beyond all comparison the greatest of British interests, the months that followed were extremely trying. His first object was to limit the war, and to safeguard English interests, and for this purpose he drew up on May 6, 1877, a Note defining the English interests that were vital in the East. He warned the Russian Government that an attempt by Russia to blockade the Suez Canal, an attack on Egypt, a Russian occupation of Constantinople, or an alteration of the existing arrangements for the navigation of the Bosphorus or the Dardanelles might compel England to abandon her neutrality. Russia accepted these conditions, and for some time there appeared every prospect of limiting the war. But in the beginning of 1878 a period of extreme danger undoubtedly arrived. Plevna had fallen. The Turkish resistance had collapsed. A Russian army, flushed with victory, had advanced to near Constantinople. The treaty of San Stephano was signed; which in the opinion of most European statesmen placed Turkey at the feet of Russia, and Russia at first refused to submit its terms to a conference of European Powers. Public feeling in England now ran strongly in a direction almost opposite to that in which it had been running eighteen months before, and the nation was extremely alarmed at the danger of Constantinople becoming speedily and irremediably a Russian port. On the other hand, the national and military pride of the conquering Power was aroused, and it was felt that a single false step, a single imprudent menace, might lead to war.

It was one of those moments in which men's judgments are largely affected by their temperaments, and it soon became evident that the Cabinet was seriously divided. Disraeli had now become Lord Beaconsfield, and sat with his Foreign Secretary in the House of Lords. With his character it was inevitable that he should meet the danger by a bold, decisive, and even aggressive, policy. It was no less natural that Lord Derby should have persistently leaned towards the side of caution and shrunk from any measure that could cut short negotiation and diminish the chances of peace. The order given that the British Fleet should enter the Dardanelles, first produced the inevitable schism, and Lord Derby and Lord Carnarvon resigned. The order was countermanded, and Lord Derby, for a short time, resumed his post. He acquiesced, but with great reluctance, in the vote of credit for six millions which was at once brought before the House of Commons, but he was soon convinced that measures he did not approve of were impending, and when orders were given for calling out the reserves he definitely resigned.

He announced his resignation on March 28, 1878, in terms of much dignity and moderation. He believed, he said, that his colleagues desired peace as truly as himself, and he did not maintain that their later measures led inevitably to war, but he considered that they were neither necessary nor 'prudent in the interests of European peace.' He agreed that the terms of the treaty should be submitted to a European Congress, in which England should take part. On minor matters he thought it his duty to waive his own opinion, but he could not do so on a question involving the momentous issue of peace or war. The threat involved in the last act of the Government, he said, in a later speech, would make it more difficult for Russia to modify her policy, and he believed that without a threat such a modification of the treaty of San Stephano could be obtained as would make it acceptable. He had been accused of indecision and even of cowardice. For his own part he thought it needed more courage to stand up in his place to express views which he knew to be unpopular among the great body of his friends, than to sit at a desk in Downing Street and issue orders which would bring no danger or unpopularity to himself, but might bring about a European war.

The short speech in which Lord Beaconsfield accepted the resignation, and dwelt on the long friendship, personal as well as political, that bound him to Lord Derby, seems to me a perfect model of good feeling and good taste. Unfortunately the example of the Prime Minister was not followed, and words used in a later debate went far to make the breach irrevocable.

Lord Derby for a short time maintained a neutral position, but the foreign policy of Lord Beaconsfield was in the highest degree distasteful to him. A wave of Chauvinism was passing over England, which was utterly opposed to his views, and he believed that a section of the Conservative party encouraged it in order to divert the thoughts of men from internal reforms. He objected to the acquisition of Cyprus, to some of the responsibilities assumed by England under the treaty of Berlin, and very strongly to the Afghan war; and in the beginning of 1880 he formally attached himself to the Liberal party, on the ground of his objections to the foreign policy of the Government. His speeches in his new capacity differed very little from those which he had formerly delivered, but he said that he had learnt to see more clearly the uselessness of attempting to resist popular ideas, and to think 'more highly of the moderation, the fairness, and the general justice with which masses of men, including all conditions of life, are disposed to use their power.' He thought that England should mix herself as little as possible with 'the sanguinary muddle' of European diplomacy; that she should avoid increasing her responsibilities; that she should take stringent measures to reduce her debt; that she should pay much more attention than she was accustomed to do to the condition of her own poorer population; and that it should be the object of her statesmen to meet every great popular demand by wise and equitable compromise. One of the greatest dangers, he said, that could befall the country, would be 'a state of things in which the comparatively harmless antagonism of parties would be replaced by the far more serious and dangerous war of classes. From that danger more than from any other it is the business of a well-considered Liberalism to protect us.'

In 1882 he accepted the Colonial Office from Mr. Gladstone, and held it until the fall of the Government in the summer of 1885. His ministry was not a very eventful one, and it was marked by that steady adherence to a middle line which had always characterised him. He congratulated the country that the indifference to our colonies which had prevailed during his youth had passed away, but he was by no means favourable to extensions of the Empire. 'We have quite black men enough,' he was accustomed to say; and he believed that any increase of our responsibilities was likely to endanger the Empire, and to divert the energies of politicians from pressing home questions. He did not condemn the policy which led to the occupation of Egypt by England, but he declared that even if it was inevitable it was a misfortune, and that we ought to 'see that we do not on any pretext, however plausible, get that Egyptian millstone tied permanently round our necks.' He was very sceptical about Imperial Federation, and entirely incredulous about the possibility of an Imperial Zollverein. He deplored the protectionism of the colonies, but was himself a strict free-trader of the school of Cobden, and utterly opposed to any attempt to negotiate treaties with the colonies on a basis of preferential tariffs. On the other hand, he showed himself quite ready to favour Confederation in Australia, and he accepted gratefully Australian help in the Soudan, but he was much alarmed by tendencies in some colonies which might lead to complications with foreign Powers, and he incurred considerable unpopularity in Australia by refusing to consent to the annexation by Queensland of New Guinea.

There is, however, one incident in the colonial administration of Lord Derby on which it is necessary to dwell at somewhat greater length, for subsequent events have given it an unfortunate prominence and it has thrown some discredit on his statesmanship. I allude, of course, to the convention with the Transvaal in 1884. In the preceding convention, which had been signed in August 1881, complete self-government had been granted by England to the Transvaal 'subject to the suzerainty of her Majesty' and her successors, and also to a large number of carefully specified reservations and limitations. They comprised the complete control of the external relations of the Transvaal, including the conclusion of treaties and the conduct of diplomatic intercourse with foreign Powers, which could only be carried on through her Majesty's officers; the right of moving British troops in case of necessity through the Transvaal; a power of veto over all legislation affecting the interests of the native population. A number of articles prohibited slavery in the new State; protected with much detail the interests of the native population; secured complete religious liberty; established the right of all persons other than natives who conformed themselves to the laws of the State, to enter, travel, and reside in any part of the Transvaal, to acquire property and to carry on their business without being subject to any other taxation than that which was imposed on the citizens of the Transvaal; and placed British imports and exports on the same plane as those of the most-favoured nations. The limits of the new State were carefully defined and a British Resident was established in the Transvaal to superintend the carrying out of these provisions. There was no express provision in the convention for the political privileges of the English residents in the Transvaal, but the Government appear to have relied on a not very explicit verbal assurance given to the British Commissioners by President Kruger in May 1881. Asked about the rights of British subjects to complete free trade throughout the Transvaal, President Kruger answered that before the annexation 'they were on the same footing as the burghers'; that 'there was not the slightest difference in accordance with the Sand River convention'; that this state of things would be continued and that 'there would be equal protection for everybody.' Sir Evelyn Wood then added, 'and equal privileges?' 'We make no difference,' answered President Kruger, 'so far as burgher rights are concerned. There may perhaps be some slight difference in the case of a young person who has just come into the country.' It was subsequently explained that the words 'young person' did not refer to age, but to the time of residence in the Republic—according to the old Transvaal Constitution, a year's residence in the Republic was necessary for naturalisation. With this assurance the Government of 1881 appears to have been content. They believed in words expressly sanctioned by Mr. Gladstone, that the concession of limited independence to the Transvaal by the convention of 1881 would 'provide for the full liberty and equal treatment of the entire white population, guard the interests of the natives, and promote harmony and good-will among the various races in South Africa.'[43] As a matter of fact, the only change in the political position of the English residents in the Transvaal was that the period of naturalisation was extended from one to five years—a change which appears to have produced little or no commotion in the Republic.

The convention of 1881 was, however, extremely unpopular among a large section of the Boer population. Complete independence was their avowed object, and in order to attain it their first task was to abolish the suzerainty of Great Britain. Almost immediately after the convention was signed, the limitations of the Transvaal established by the convention were flagrantly disregarded by Transvaal filibusters, who proceeded with the tacit and even with the avowed countenance of their Government to place new sections of native territory under the exclusive protectorate of the Transvaal Government;[44] and a deputation, headed by President Kruger, came to England in 1883 for the purpose of negotiating with the Colonial Office for the abolition of the chief articles of the convention of 1881. They avowed with complete frankness that absolute independence would alone satisfy them, and that their desire was to revert to the Sand River convention of 1852, by which this independence had been recognised. This demand was absolutely rejected by the Imperial Government, but Lord Derby attempted to meet the objections of the Transvaal leaders by substituting for the articles of the convention of 1881 new articles in several respects more favourable to the pretensions of the Boers.

He, in the first place, made a sentimental concession to which it is probable he attached little importance, but which was regarded by the Boer population as a considerable step towards the achievement of their independence. The term 'Transvaal State,' which was accepted in the convention of 1881 as the designation of the new State, was dropped and the old title of 'South African Republic' was revived and recognised. The question of suzerainty was dealt with in a somewhat ambiguous fashion. The new convention purported only to substitute new articles in the place of those of the preceding convention; and it was afterwards argued that the old preamble, which asserted at once the internal independence of the Transvaal and the suzerainty of Great Britain, remained in force. In fact, however, this preamble was neither reprinted nor replaced in the new convention, and the term 'suzerainty,' which occurred in the original draft of the document, was deliberately expunged—it is said by Lord Derby himself. He considered the term wholly wanting in the precision which is desirable in a treaty arrangement, that it was capable of many different degrees of extension, and that the fact of the paramountcy of Great Britain over the new State might be sufficiently established without the use of an ambiguous word which excited the most bitter hostility in the Transvaal. His own words in defending his conduct in the House of Lords are perfectly clear. 'The word suzerainty,' he said, 'is a very vague word, and I do not think it is capable of any precise legal definition. Whatever we may understand by it, I think it is not very easy to define. But I apprehend whether you call it a protectorate, or a suzerainty, or the recognition of England as a paramount Power, the fact is that a certain controlling power is retained when the State which exercises this suzerainty has a right to veto any negotiation into which the dependent State may enter with foreign Powers. Whatever suzerainty meant in the convention of Pretoria (1881), the condition of things which it implies still remains; although the word is not actually employed, we have kept the substance. We have abstained from using the word because it was not capable of legal definition, and because it seemed to be a word which was likely to lead to misconception and misunderstanding.'

The articles of the previous convention relating to slavery, to native rights, to free trade, to religious liberty, to the rights of residence of foreigners in the Transvaal, reappear in the new convention, and the limits of the State were somewhat more fully defined, but the controlling power of Great Britain over the foreign policy of the Transvaal, though clearly reasserted, was somewhat limited in its scope. It was provided that the South African Republic should conclude no treaty or engagement with any State or nation other than the Orange Free State, or with any native tribe to the eastward or westward of the Republic, until the same had been approved by the Queen; that every such treaty should be at once submitted to her Majesty's Government for her consent, but that this consent should be presumed to have been granted if no notification to the contrary was received within six months. The desire of the Transvaal authorities to be recognised as representing an independent sovereign power was thus distinctly rejected, and the English Government positively refused a proposal to admit foreign arbitration in cases of dispute between England and the Transvaal.

This convention has been severely censured by later writers on the ground of the insufficiency and ambiguity of its assertion of the paramount authority of Great Britain over the Transvaal, and of its failure to do anything to supply the great deficiency in the preceding convention by an article securing political equality for the British population within it. A few years later, when an immense English immigration had taken place, not only with the consent but at the express invitation of the Transvaal Government; when the English element formed a large majority of the inhabitants of the State; when they paid an enormous preponderance of its taxation, and were the chief agents in developing its wealth and raising it from the position of a very poor pastoral community into that of a great and wealthy State, the Transvaal Government proceeded to impose upon the new emigrants disqualifications and disabilities which were utterly unknown when England conceded self-government to 'the inhabitants of the Transvaal.' They completely deprived the vast majority of political power or local self-government, and surrounded them at every turn with the most irritating disabilities. The Transvaal became the one part of South Africa where one white race was held in a position of inferiority to another. At a time when perfect equality was enjoyed by the Dutch population in our own colonies, the political disqualification of the English race was made the very corner-stone of the policy of the Transvaal Government. An annual revenue greatly in excess of what was required for its internal government was raised almost entirely from the taxation of an unrepresented class, to whom the prosperity of the State was mainly due, and it was employed in accumulating a great armament which could only be intended for use against England and for maintaining the subjection of an English population.

This was the position to which the paramount Power in South Africa, the Power which of its own free will had conceded a limited independence to the Transvaal, found itself reduced. And yet it was possible for the Boer Government to maintain that there was nothing in all this legislation which was inconsistent with the terms of the convention of 1884.

I do not think that the justice of this criticism can be wholly denied. The Transvaal authorities had already given clear intimation of their desire to emancipate themselves from all British control, and especially of their determination to disregard the limitations which had been imposed on the expansion of their State. There is, however, one very material fact to be remembered in judging the policy of Lord Derby. At the time of the convention of 1884 the English population in the Transvaal was a small, scattered, and powerless minority, and as their numbers were far too scanty to make them a danger to the State, there was not much reason to believe that the Transvaal authorities would repudiate their own assurances and subject them to oppressive disabilities. It was not until two years after the convention that the vast gold-mines of the Transvaal were discovered and all the conditions of the South African problem fundamentally changed. The gigantic immigration that ensued reversed the proportion between the two races. The revenue and the expenditure of the State multiplied more than fifteen fold in little more than ten years.[45] The Transvaal became the most powerful and wealthy State in South Africa, and the great preponderance of the Outlander element in numbers, wealth, energy, and industry rendered a conflict of races almost inevitable. No statesman could have foreseen this change, and a convention that might have allayed discontent if the gold-mines had never been discovered, proved wholly inefficient to meet it.

Though in a politician of the stamp of Lord Derby the change from a very liberal conservatism to a very conservative liberalism involved little real modification of opinion, it necessarily involved some change of attitude, and on some questions he spoke with a freedom which would have been impossible as a member of the Conservative party. On Church questions, for example, while strongly maintaining that the country was not ripe for the disestablishment of the Church in England, he declared that in his opinion the exclusive alliance of one religious denomination among many with the State could not be permanently maintained side by side with a democratic representation—that disestablishment and at least partial disendowment must ultimately come; that if the representatives of Scotland desired the disestablishment of their Church, it was not for Englishmen to oppose them; and that Wales had a strong claim to be separately dealt with. 'The Welsh people constitute in many respects a distinct nationality, and I do not see why we should refuse to Welsh loyalty what we have granted to Irish sedition.' On the subject of endowments indeed as early as 1875 his view was that of most moderate Liberals. 'To my mind, so far as right is concerned, the Legislature may do what it chooses in regard to any endowment, without injustice, provided only that the rights of living individuals are respected. How far it is politic to use that power is another matter.... Respect the founder's object, but use your own discretion as to the means. If you don't do the first, you will have no new endowments. If you neglect the last, those which you have will be of no use.'[46] He maintained that the question of local government had in England become one of pressing importance, and that the administration of county affairs must be put into the hands of elective bodies. He would give those local parliaments very large power—but he most urgently insisted on the importance of one restriction. The new bodies must not be given an unlimited power of mortgaging the future. The gradual reduction of the National Debt had been for some years one of the chief aims of enlightened politicians, but all that had been done in this direction would be undone if, side by side with the National Debt, there grew up a municipal debt of perhaps equal amount. In this tendency to municipal extravagance he saw one of the gravest menaces to property. 'The growth of Socialism throughout Europe has followed very closely on the gigantic increase of national indebtedness during the present century, and men who begin to feel the pressure intolerable are apt to raise questions, more easily stated than solved, as to the right of any State to impose burdens in perpetuity for the benefit of one generation.' He urged that every local body which contracted a debt should be under a statutory obligation to provide for its repayment in fifty or sixty years at latest.

The growth of municipal indebtedness; the excessive tendency to increase the functions of the State; the disaffection of Ireland and the contingency of an isolated and disloyal body of some eighty Irish representatives offering their services to any party which would consent to carry out their designs, appeared to Lord Derby the chief dangers of English domestic politics. The last danger was very speedily realised, and the sudden conversion of Mr. Gladstone to Home Rule produced one more change in the attitude of Lord Derby. On this question he had never flinched or wavered, and he at once took his place in the front rank of the Liberal Unionists, whom for some time he led in the House of Lords. I do not know that the Unionist case has ever been more powerfully put forward than in his speeches on the subject, and the eminently judicial character of his mind, and his entire freedom from all mere party bias, gave a special weight to his advocacy. With this exception he took little part in party politics during the last years of his life, but he devoted himself largely to social questions, and among other things served with great assiduity and ability on the Labour Commission. His last speech was delivered at Manchester on the unveiling of the statue of Mr. Bright in October 1891. His last public work was that of presiding over the Labour Commission in May 1892. In the preceding year an attack of influenza, followed by a relapse, had shattered a health which had hitherto been robust. Other complications ensued, and he passed away at Knowsley on April 21, 1893, in his sixty-seventh year.

The foregoing sketch will, I hope, have given a sufficient idea of his public character. Few men have made a greater sacrifice of ambition to a conscientious conviction than he did, when, rather than support a measure which might lead to war, he abandoned the Conservative Ministry in 1878. He was then the fully recognised successor of Lord Beaconsfield, and if he had adopted a different course he would in a short time have been, beyond all doubt, Prime Minister of England. On the whole, however, the severance from old friends cost him, I believe, far more than the sacrifice of his political prospects. Whatever he may have been in his youth, he was certainly not in mature life an ambitious man. With the great position he held in England the world had little to offer him, and the self-knowledge which was not the least of his many remarkable gifts showed him that party conflict was not the sphere in which Nature intended him to move. With many of the qualities of the highest statesmanship he wanted some necessary ingredients of a great statesman. He wanted the power of appealing to the imagination and moving the passions. He wanted more decision of character, more power of initiative, more capacity of bearing lightly the weight of a great responsibility. His belief that the House of Lords must always ultimately yield to the House of Commons aggravated a weakness of resolution which was deeply rooted in his nature. There were moments when his inveterate moderation tended to exasperate, and he was accused, not altogether without reason, of sometimes making admirable speeches, pointing out in the clearest terms all the evils and dangers of a measure, and then concluding by exhorting the House of Lords to vote for it, introducing mitigating amendments in Committee. The measures he treated in this way usually, as he had predicted, became law, but this was not the attitude of a great leader. During a considerable part of his career, like a very large proportion of moderate men in England, he was in the embarrassing position of agreeing substantially with the home policy of one party and with the foreign policy of the other. After the death of Lord Palmerston an element of passion was infused into public life which was very uncongenial to his temperament, and English politics passed into phases in which caution, character, judgment, and knowledge were less prized than brilliant strokes that appealed to the popular imagination, clever coalitions, a skilful barter of principles for votes. In spheres governed by such methods Lord Derby was very useful, but he was not likely to play a foremost part.

To few men who have taken a conspicuous part in active politics was the excitement of such an existence so little necessary. Happy in his domestic life and in a companionship and sympathy which were all-sufficient to him, he was not less happy in the wide range of his interests and duties. The administration of his vast estate would have been more than sufficient to tax the energies of most men, and it was, I believe, universally acknowledged that it was admirably administered. In the everyday affairs of practical life he had no indecision, and he judged swiftly with the clearest of judgments. Nothing about him was more remarkable than the apparent ease and the absence of all hurry and confusion with which he could deal with many different forms of work. His study in its perfect neatness was more like a lady's boudoir than the workshop of a very busy man. Ohne Hast, ohne Rast, might have been his motto. He had much belief in the future of English land, and was not, I think, at all exempt from the great English landlord's foible of adding field to field. In the long period of agricultural depression it was easy for a rich man to do so. 'In my experience,' he used to say, 'in nine cases out of ten it is Naboth who comes to Ahab and begs him to buy his vineyard.' Certainly no one had reason to complain, for there were few better or more popular landlords than Lord Derby. In many long walks with him through his property I was always struck with the evident pleasure with which he was welcomed by his people, the fulness of knowledge and the kindness of interest with which he inquired into the circumstances of every tenant. It is characteristic of him that only two days before his death he was giving instructions for building a hospital for the sick poor of Knowsley. I have known few men in whom the desire to make everyone about them happy was so strongly and so clearly marked. He was fond of looking minutely into the circumstances of men of different classes, and comparing their wants with their means, often with somewhat whimsical results. There was a tradesman who made regularly 5l. a week; who was accustomed every week to devote 2l. to his household expenses, to lay by 2l., and to employ the remainder in getting drunk. He was, Lord Derby thought, the only man he had ever known who satisfied all his wants with 40 per cent. of his income, who always laid by 40 per cent., and who expended 20 per cent. on his pleasures.

Outside his property Lord Derby had strong county interests. With perhaps the exception of Birmingham there is no part of England where a distinctive local patriotism is so intensely developed as in Lancashire, and Lord Derby in tastes and character was pre-eminently a Lancashire man, very proud of the greatness, and deeply concerned in the interests, of his county. In all the vicissitudes of his career, Liverpool, I believe, never wavered in its attachment to him. He contributed to the many charitable and philanthropic works with which he was concerned not only much money, but also—what in so rich a man was far more meritorious—an extraordinary amount of time and patient supervision. Among the many offices he accepted, was president of the Literary Fund for dispensing charity to needy authors, and on the committee of that charity I had, during many years, ample opportunity of observing how far he was from treating a presidential position as a sinecure. The regularity of his attendance, the constant attention he paid to every detail of the charity; the infinite pains which he would bestow upon obscure cases of distress, marked him out as a model president, and many of those whom our rules did not allow us to help were assisted by his bounty. He contributed with a large but discriminating generosity to many causes that were conspicuous in the eyes of the world, but his special bias was towards unostentatious and unobserved benevolence, and crowds of obscure men in obscure positions were assisted by him.

Those who did not know him, and those who had come in merely casual contact with him, sometimes formed a false impression of his character. He had a great deal of natural shyness. He had very little of the gift of small talk. On occasions of mere show and in uncongenial atmospheres he was apt to be awkward and embarrassed, and when walking by himself he was extremely absent and quite capable of brushing against his oldest friend with a complete unconsciousness of his presence. These traits sometimes gave rise to natural misinterpretations, which a fuller knowledge always dispelled. No one who knew Lord Derby could fail to feel that his nature was one of the most genuine and transparent simplicity, singularly free from all tinge of arrogance, superciliousness, and acrimony. His personal tastes were exceedingly simple, and there was not a particle of ostentation in his character. He delighted in a quiet country life and had a strong sense of natural beauty. In his youth he had been an ardent mountaineer, and in later life he had few greater pleasures than to watch the growth of his plantations. He calculated that he had planted in his lifetime about two million of trees.

He was among the best-read men I have ever known. His private library was one of the finest in England, and he took a keen interest in it. A love of sumptuous, large-paper editions was indeed one of the very few luxuries in which from mere personal taste he greatly indulged. Like all men of literary tastes he had his limitations. German was a closed book to him. Theology and metaphysics were conspicuous by their absence. He was certainly not drawn to the mystical, the unintelligible, or the morbid, either in imaginative or speculative literature, and although he was a great lover and great buyer of water-colour pictures, I do not think he had much real sense or knowledge of art. But he had read very extensively and with great profit and discrimination in many widely different fields, and his memory was unusually retentive. He was an excellent literary critic, and if clear thought and accurate knowledge were what he most valued, it would be a complete mistake to suppose that he was insensible to the poetic and imaginative side of literature. He could repeat long passages from 'Childe Harold,' and I can well remember the delight which he took in the picturesque narrative of Mr. Froude, and in the fiery verses of Sir Alfred Lyall.

He was one of the kindest and most gracious of hosts, and his genuine unforced good nature and good humour drew to him many whose tastes and sympathies were widely different from his own. Nature certainly never intended him for a sportsman, but he preserved game extensively and until the last years of his life usually went out with his guests. 'I rather like shooting,' he once said to me, 'it prevents the necessity of general conversation.' Among kindred spirits, however, his own conversation was eminently attractive. His wide knowledge both of books and men, his vast range of political anecdote, his experience of so many statesmen and offices and departments of life, made it singularly instructive. He was a very shrewd, and at the same time a very kind, judge of character; and he had a power, which is certainly not common, of fully appreciating merits that are allied with great and manifest defects. He had much quaint, dry humour, and a great happiness of expression; and one always felt that his opinions were genuinely thought out—that they were voices and not echoes. His private conversation had the quality that I have noticed in his public speeches, of grasping at once the essential elements of a question and disencumbering it from accessories and details. It is one of the qualities that add most to the charm of conversation, and, with the exception of Lord Russell, I do not think I have met with anyone who possessed it to a greater degree than Lord Derby. He delighted in long walks with one or two friends, and he might be seen to great advantage in some small dining-clubs which play a larger part than is generally recognised in the best English social life of our time. He had been a member of Grillion's for thirty-seven years, but the society to which he was most attached was, I think, 'The Club' which was founded by Johnson and Reynolds. During the nineteen years of which I can speak from personal experience, he was an almost constant attendant, and certainly no other member enjoyed a greater popularity in it, or contributed more largely to its charm.

He hated cant of all kinds, and had a great distrust of ostentatious professions of lofty motives. He disliked, I think greatly, the habit of dragging sacred names into party speeches, and attributing every party manoeuvre to a solemn sense of duty. Language of this kind will never be found in his speeches, but I have known few men who were governed through life more steadily though more unobtrusively by a sense of duty. He always tried to look facts in the face, and to promote in the many spheres which he could influence the real happiness of men. There have been statesmen among his contemporaries of greater power and of more brilliant achievement. There has been, I believe, no statesman of sounder judgment and more disinterested patriotism; there have been very few whose departure has left a void in so many spheres.


[43] See, on this subject, Cook's Rights and Wrongs of the Transvaal War, pp. 260-265.

[44] See Westlake's L'Angleterre et les Republiques Boers, pp. 30-31.

[45] See the table of revenue and expenditure in Fitzpatrick's Transvaal from Within, p. 71.

[46] Inaugural address at Edinburgh University.


Although it has never been the custom of the 'Edinburgh Review' to withdraw the veil of anonymity from its writers and its administration, it would be mere affectation to suffer it to appear before the public without some allusion to the great editor whom we have just lost,[47] and who for forty years has watched with indefatigable care over its pages.

The career of Mr. Henry Reeve is perhaps the most striking illustration in our time of how little in English life influence is measured by notoriety. To the outer world his name was but little known. He is remembered as the translator of Tocqueville, as the editor of the 'Greville Memoirs,' as the author of a not quite forgotten book on Royal and Republican France, showing much knowledge of French literature and politics; as the holder during fifty years of the respectable, but not very prominent, post of Registrar of the Privy Council. To those who have a more intimate knowledge of the political and literary life of England, it is well known that during nearly the whole of his long life he was a powerful and living force in English literature; that few men of his time have filled a larger place in some of the most select circles of English social life; and that he exercised during many years a political influence such as rarely falls to the lot of any Englishman outside Parliament, or even outside the Cabinet.

He was born at Norwich in 1813, and brought up in a highly cultivated, and even brilliant, literary circle. His father, Dr. Reeve, was one of the earliest contributors to the 'Edinburgh Review.' The Austins, the Opies, the Taylors, and the Aldersons were closely related to him, and he is said to have been indebted to his gifted aunt, Sarah Austin, for his appointment in the Privy Council. The family income was not large, and a great part of Mr. Reeve's education took place on the Continent, chiefly at Geneva and Munich. He went with excellent introductions, and the years he spent abroad were abundantly fruitful. He learned German so well that he was at one time a contributor to a German periodical. He was one of the rare Englishmen who spoke French almost like a Frenchman, and at a very early age he formed friendships with several eminent French writers. His translation of the 'Democracy in America,' by Tocqueville, which appeared in 1835, strengthened his hold on French society. Two years later he obtained the appointment in the Privy Council, which he held until 1887. It was in this office that he became the colleague and fast friend of Charles Greville, who on his death-bed entrusted him with the publication of his 'Memoirs.'

Mr. Reeve had now obtained an assured income and a steady occupation, but it was far from satisfying his desire for work. He became a contributor, and very soon a leading contributor, to the 'Times,' while his close and confidential intercourse with Mr. Delane gave him a considerable voice in its management. The penny newspaper was still unborn, and the 'Times' at this period was the undisputed monarch of the Press, and exercised an influence over public opinion, both in England and on the Continent, such as no existing paper can be said to possess. It is, we believe, no exaggeration to say that for the space of fifteen years nearly every article that appeared in its columns on foreign politics was written by Mr. Reeve, and the period during which he wrote for it included the year 1848, when foreign politics had the most transcendent importance.

The great political influence which he at this time exercised naturally drew him into close connection with many of the chief statesmen of his time. With Lord Clarendon especially his friendship was close and confidential, and he received from that statesman almost weekly letters during his viceroyalty in Ireland and during others of the more critical periods of his career. In France, Mr. Reeve's connections were scarcely less numerous than in England. Guizot, Thiers, Cousin, Tocqueville, Villemain, Circourt—in fact, nearly all the leading figures in French literature and politics during the reign of Louis Philippe were among his friends or correspondents. He was at all times singularly international in his sympathies and friendships, and he appears to have been more than once made the channel of confidential communications between English and French statesmen.

It was a task for which he was eminently suited. The qualities which most impressed all who came into close communication with him were the strength, swiftness, and soundness of his judgment, and his unfailing tact and discretion in dealing with delicate questions. He was eminently a man of the world, and had quite as much knowledge of men as of books. Probably few men of his time have been so frequently and so variously consulted. He always spoke with confidence and authority, and his clear, keen-cut, decisive sentences, a certain stateliness of manner which did not so much claim as assume ascendancy, and a somewhat elaborate formality of courtesy which was very efficacious in repelling intruders, sometimes concealed from strangers the softer side of his character. But those who knew him well soon learnt to recognise the genuine kindliness of his nature, his remarkable skill in avoiding friction, and the rare steadiness of his friendships.

One great source of his influence was the just belief in his complete independence and disinterestedness. For a very able man his ambition was singularly moderate. As he once said, he had made it his object throughout life only to aim at things which were well within his power. He had very little respect for the judgment of the multitude, and he cared nothing for notoriety and not much for dignities. A moderate competence, congenial work, a sphere of wide and genuine influence, a close and intimate friendship with a large proportion of the guiding spirits of his time, were the things he really valued, and all these he fully attained. He had great conversational powers, which never degenerated into monologue, a singularly equable, happy, and sanguine temperament, and a keen delight in cultivated society. These characteristics showed conspicuously in two small and very select dining-clubs which have included most of the distinguished English statesmen and men of letters of the century. He became a member of the Literary Society in 1857 and of Dr. Johnson's Club in 1861, and it is a remarkable evidence of the appreciation of his social tact that both bodies speedily selected him as their treasurer. He held that position in 'The Club' from 1868 till within a year of his death, when failing health and absence from London obliged him to relinquish it. The French Institute elected him 'Correspondant' in 1863 and Associated Member in 1888, in which latter dignity he succeeded Sir Henry Maine. In 1869 the University of Oxford conferred on him the honorary degree of D.C.L.

It was in 1855, on the death of Sir George Cornewall Lewis, that he assumed the editorship of the 'Edinburgh Review' which he retained till the day of his death. Both on the political and the literary side he was in full harmony with its traditions. His rare and minute knowledge of recent English and foreign political history; his vast fund of political anecdote; his personal acquaintance with so many of the chief actors on the political scene, both in England and France, gave a great weight and authority to his judgments, and his mind was essentially of the Whig cast. He was a genuine Liberal of the school of Russell, Palmerston, Clarendon, and Cornewall Lewis. It was a sober and tolerant Liberalism, rooted in the traditions of the past, and deeply attached to the historical elements in the Constitution. The dislike and distrust with which he had always viewed the progress of democracy deepened with age, and it was his firm conviction that it could never become the permanent basis of good government. Like most men of his type of thought and character, he was strongly repelled by the later career of Mr. Gladstone, and the Home Rule policy at last severed him definitely from the bulk of the Liberal party. From this time the present Duke of Devonshire was the leader of his party.

His literary judgments had much analogy to his political ones. His leanings were all towards the old standards of thought and style. He had been formed in the school of Macaulay and Milman, and of the great French writers under Louis Philippe. Sober thought, clear reasoning, solid scholarship, a transparent, vivid, and restrained style were the literary qualities he most appreciated. He was a great purist, inexorably hostile to a new word. In philosophy he was a devoted disciple of Kant, and his decided orthodoxy in religious belief affected many of his judgments. He could not appreciate Carlyle; he looked with much distrust on Darwinism and the philosophy of Herbert Spencer and he had very little patience with some of the moral and intellectual extravagances of modern literature. But, according to his own standards and in the wide range of his own subjects, his literary judgment was eminently sound, and he was quick and generous in recognising rising eminence. In at least one case the first considerable recognition of a prominent historian was an article in the 'Edinburgh Review' from his pen.

He had a strong sense of the responsibility of an editor, and especially of the editor of a Review of unsigned articles. No article appeared which he did not carefully consider. His powerful individuality was deeply stamped upon the Review, and he carefully maintained its unity and consistency of sentiments. It was one of the chief occupations and pleasures of his closing days, and the very last letter he dictated referred to it.

Time, as might be expected, had greatly thinned the circle of his friends. Of the France which he knew so well scarcely anything remained, but his old friend and senior Barthelemy Saint-Hilaire visited him at Christ Church, and he kept up to the end a warm friendship with the Duc d'Aumale. He spent his eightieth birthday at Chantilly, and until the very last year of his life he was never absent when the Duke dined at 'The Club.' In Lord Derby he lost the statesman with whom in his later years he was most closely connected by private friendship and political sympathy, while the death of Lady Stanley of Alderley deprived him of an attached and lifelong friend.

Growing infirmities prevented him in his latter days from mixing much in general society in London, but his life was brightened by all that loving companionship could give; his mental powers were unfaded, and he could still enjoy the society of younger friends. He looked forward to the end with a perfect and a most characteristic calm, without fear and without regret. It was the placid close of a long, dignified, and useful life.


[47] Mr. Reeve died October 21, 1895.—ED.


The great prominence which the High Church movement has assumed in the ecclesiastical history of England during the second and third quarters of the nineteenth century, and the extraordinary success with which it has permeated the Established Church by its influence, have led some writers to exaggerate not a little the place which it occupied in the general intellectual development of the time. In the universities, it is true, it long exercised an extraordinary influence, and Mr. Gladstone, who was by far the most remarkable layman whom it profoundly influenced, was accustomed to say that for at least a generation almost the whole of the best intellect of Oxford was controlled by it. It possessed in Newman a writer of most striking and undoubted genius. In an age remarkable for brilliancy of style he was one of the greatest masters of English prose. His power of drawing subtle distinctions and pursuing long trains of subtle reasoning made him one of the most skilful of controversialists, and he had a great insight into spiritual cravings and an admirable gift of interpreting and appealing to many forms of religious emotion. But though he was a man of rare, delicate, and most seductive genius, we have sometimes doubted whether any of his books are destined to take a permanent and considerable place in English literature. He was not a great scholar, or an original and independent thinker. Dealing with questions inseparably connected with historical evidence, he had neither the judicial spirit nor the firm grasp of a real historian, and he had very little skill in measuring probabilities and degrees of evidence. He had a manifest incapacity, which was quite as much moral as intellectual, for looking facts in the face and pursuing trains of thought to unwelcome conclusions. He often took refuge from them in clouds of casuistry. The scepticism which was a marked feature of his intellect allied itself closely with credulity, for it was directed against reason itself; and though he has expressed in admirable language many true and beautiful thoughts, the glamour of his style too often concealed much weakness and uncertainty of judgment and much sophistry in argument.

Many of those who co-operated with him were men of great learning and distinguished ability. No one will question the patristic knowledge of Pusey, the metaphysical acumen of Ward, the genuine vein of religious poetry in Keble and Faber, the wide accomplishments and scholarly criticism of Church. But on the whole the broad stream of English thought has gone in other directions. In politics the Oxford movement had brilliant representatives in Gladstone and Selborne, but the ideal of the relations of Church and State and the ideal of education to which the Oxford school aspired, have been absolutely discarded. The universities have been secularised. The Irish Established Church, which it was one of the first objects of the party to defend, has been abolished by Gladstone himself, and although the English Established Church retains its hold on the affections of the nation, it is defended by its most skilful supporters on very different grounds and by very different arguments from those which were put forward by the Oxford divines. Among the foremost names in lay literature during the fifty years we are considering, it is curious to observe how few were even touched by the movement. Froude is an exception, but he speedily repudiated it. The mediaeval sympathies that were sometimes shown by Ruskin sprang from a wholly different source. Macaulay, Carlyle, Hallam, Grote, Mill, Buckle, Tennyson, Browning, and the great novelists, from Dickens to George Eliot, all wrote very much as they might have written if the movement had never existed. An unusual proportion of the best intellect of England passed into the fields of physical science, and the methods of reasoning and habits of thought which they inculcated were wholly out of harmony with the school of Newman, while both geology and Darwinism have made serious incursions into long-cherished beliefs. Even in the Church itself, though the High Church movement was stronger than any other, great deductions have to be made. The school of independent Biblical criticism, which in various degrees has come to be generally accepted, certainly owed nothing to it, and several of the most illustrious Churchmen of this period were wholly alien to it. Thirlwall and Merivale were conspicuous examples, but they devoted themselves chiefly to great works of secular history. Arnold—who was one of the strongest personal influences of his age, and whose influence was both perpetuated and widened by Dean Stanley—and Whately, who was one of the most independent and original thinkers of the nineteenth century, were strongly antagonistic. In the field of ecclesiastical history it might have been expected that a school which was at once so scholarly and so wedded to tradition would have been pre-eminent, but no ecclesiastical histories which England has produced can, on the whole, be placed on as high a level as those which were written by the great Broad Church divine whose name stands at the head of this article.

Milman was, indeed, a man well deserving of commemoration on account of the works which he produced, yet it is perhaps not too much to say that to those among whom he lived the man seemed even greater than his works. For many years he was a central and most popular figure in the best English literary society, and he reckoned most of the leading intellects of his day among his friends. He was in an extraordinary degree many-sided, both in his knowledge and his sympathies. He was an admirable critic, and the eminent sanity of his judgment, as well as the eminent kindness of his nature, combined with a great charm both of manner and of conversation. Few men of his time had more friends, and were more admired, consulted, and loved.

Mr. Arthur Milman has sketched his father's life in one short volume,[48] written in excellent English and with uniformly good taste. We have read it with much interest, yet in laying it down it is impossible not to be sensible how much of the personal charm which was so conspicuous in its subject has passed beyond recovery. More than thirty years have gone by since the old Dean was laid in his grave, and but few of those who knew him intimately survive. He appears to have kept no journal. He wrote nothing autobiographical, and he had a strong sense of the chasm that should separate private from public life. It was wholly contrary to his unegotistical nature to make the great public the confidant of his domestic affairs or of his inner feelings, and he was deeply sensible of the injustice which is so often done by biographers in printing unguarded, unqualified opinions and judgments, expressed in the freedom of private correspondence. He acted sternly on this view. Many of the foremost men in England were among his correspondents, but he deliberately burnt their letters. 'I could never bear,' we have heard him say, 'that what was written to me by dear friends in the most unreserved and absolute confidence should, through my fault, be one day dragged before the public.' This reticence and this strong feeling of the sanctity of friendship and private correspondence, which is now becoming very rare, was one of his most characteristic traits, but it has necessarily deprived his biography of many elements of interest.

He was the youngest son of Sir Francis Milman, the well-known physician of George III. He was born in 1791, and educated at Eton and Oxford, where he soon distinguished himself as one of the most brilliant of students. He won the Newdigate in 1812, the Chancellor's prize for Latin verse in 1813, the prize for English and Latin essays in 1816. He obtained a first class in classics, and in 1815 he was elected a Fellow of his college. He was ordained in the following year, and a year later Lord Eldon, who was then Chancellor of the university, nominated him to the vicarage of St. Mary at Reading, where he spent eighteen happy and fruitful years. Like most young and brilliant men, he first turned to verse, and for several years he poured out in rapid succession a number of dramas and poems which have been collected in three substantial volumes. The tragedy of 'Fazio' was written when he was still at Oxford, and it was speedily followed by a long and ambitious epic poem called 'Samor, Lord of the Bright City'; by three elaborate sacred dramas, the 'Fall of Jerusalem,' the 'Martyr of Antioch,' and 'Belshazzar'; and by an historical tragedy on 'Anne Boleyn,' as well as by a few minor poems.

Some of these works had considerable popularity. 'Fazio' for many years held its place on the stage. Byron, in one of his letters to Rogers, speaks of its 'great and deserved success' when it was brought out at Covent Garden. Its heroine was a favourite part of Miss O'Neil and of Fanny Kemble. It was translated into Italian by Del Ongaro for Ristori, who acted it with admirable power, and there was also a French translation or adaptation in which Mademoiselle Mars took part. The 'Fall of Jerusalem' was never intended for the stage, but it had a great literary success. Murray, who had given only a hundred and fifty guineas for 'Fazio,' gave five hundred for the 'Fall of Jerusalem,' and he gave the same sum both for the 'Martyr of Antioch' and for 'Belshazzar,' which succeeded it. Neither of these, however, proved as popular as the 'Fall of Jerusalem,' but the 'Martyr of Antioch' contains that noble funeral ode beginning 'Brother, thou art gone before us, and thy saintly soul is flown,' which is familiar to numbers who are probably not aware of its authorship. It is worthy of notice that as recently as 1880 Sir Arthur Sullivan set the 'Martyr of Antioch' to music and brought it out at the Leeds Festival, where it achieved an immediate and brilliant success, and was frequently performed.[49] On the other hand, 'Samor' and 'Anne Boleyn' were almost absolute failures, and, on the whole, the longer poems of Milman have not retained their popularity, and probably now rarely find a reader.

Those who turn to them will certainly be struck by the command of language and metre they display. It was shown both in rhyme and in blank verse. Many fine odes are scattered through them, and in the octo-syllabic verse Milman always appears to us peculiarly happy. But his poetry, like most of the poetry that was written under the Byronic influence, was rather the poetry of rhetoric than of imagination, and it wanted both the intensity and the concentration of the great master. Stately, sonorous, fluent, unfailingly lucid, it was too lengthy and too artificial, and Lockhart was not wholly wrong in pronouncing that it showed 'fine talents, but no genius,' and in urging that prose rather than poetry was the vehicle in which its author was destined to succeed. In addition, however, to the funeral ode to which we have referred, Milman has written many hymns, and some of these are of singular beauty. They appeared originally in the collection of that other great hymn-writer, Bishop Heber, who was one of his dearest friends, and one of the men to whose memory he looked back with the fondest affection. The Good Friday hymn, 'Bound upon th' accursed tree,' the Palm Sunday hymn, 'Ride on, ride on in majesty,' and perhaps still more that exquisitely pathetic hymn (so often misprinted in modern hymn-books) beginning

When our heads are bowed with woe, When our bitter tears o'erflow,

have long since taken their permanent place in devotional literature.

In another and very different field of poetry also he greatly excelled. He was an admirable example of that highly finished and fastidious classical scholarship which is, or was, the pride of our great public schools, and he took great pleasure in translations from the classics. He translated into verse the 'Agamemnon' of AEschylus, and the 'Bacchanals' of Euripides, and also a great number of small and much less known poems. He held the professorship of poetry at Oxford from 1821 to 1831, and as his lectures, according to the custom which then prevailed, were delivered in Latin, he had the happy thought of diversifying them by English metrical translations of the different poems he treated. They range over a wide field of obscure Greek poets, as well as of epitaphs, votive inscriptions, and inscriptions relating to the fine arts, and in addition to these there are translations from Sanscrit poetry—a branch of knowledge which was then very little cultivated, and to which Milman was greatly attracted. These poems the author published in 1865, but the lectures in which they were produced he committed to the flames. They had, in his opinion, lost their value through the subsequent publication of the works on the history of Greek literature by Bode, Ulrici, Otfried Mueller, and Mure.

In prose his pen was exceedingly active. In 1820 he began his long connection with the 'Quarterly Review,' which continued, with occasional intervals, through more than forty years. His articles extended over a great variety of subjects, but most of them were essentially reviews and essentially critical. The fact that he was both a poet and an accomplished critic of verse caused some persons to ascribe to him the authorship of two articles which had an unhappy reputation—the criticism which was falsely supposed to have hastened the death of Keats, and the attack upon the 'Alastor' of Shelley, a poet for whom Milman had a special admiration. It is now well known that neither of these articles was by him, but it is characteristic of his loyalty to his colleagues that he never disclaimed the authorship. This loyalty was indeed not less conspicuous in his nature than the singular kindness of disposition with which he ever shrank from giving pain. After his death a few of his many essays in the 'Quarterly' were collected in one volume. Among them there is an admirable account of Erasmus, with whom in mental characteristics he had considerable affinity.

In 1829 appeared his first historical work, the 'History of the Jews,' a work which excited a violent storm of theological indignation. The crime of Milman was that he applied to Jewish history the usual canons of historical criticism—sifting evidence, discriminating between documents, pointing out the parallelisms between Jewish conditions and those of other Oriental nations, and attempting to separate in the sacred writings the parts which were essential and revealed from those which were merely human and fallible. In a remarkable preface to a revised and enlarged edition of this work, which was published thirty years later, he laid down very clearly the principles that had guided him. The Jewish writers, in his opinion, were 'men of their age and country who, as they spoke the language, so they thought the thoughts of their nation and their time.... They had no special knowledge on any subject but moral and religious truth to distinguish them from other men, and were as fallible as others on all questions of science, and even of history, extraneous to their religious teaching.... Their one paramount object being instruction and enlightenment in religion, they left their hearers uninstructed and unenlightened as before in other things.... In all other respects society, civilisation, developed itself according to its usual laws. The Hebrew in the wilderness, excepting as far as the law modified his manners and habits, was an Arab of the desert. Abraham, except in his worship and intercourse with the one true God, was a nomad Sheik.... The moral and religious truth, and this alone, I apprehend, is "the word of God" contained in the sacred writings.'

It must also, he contended, be always remembered that the Semitic records are of an 'essentially Oriental, figurative, poetical cast,' and that it is therefore wholly erroneous to suppose that every word can be construed with the precision of an Act of Parliament or of a simple modern historical narrative.

His attitude towards the miraculous was carefully defined. He observed the absolute impossibility of evading the conclusion that the Jewish writers, whether eye-witnesses or not, implicitly believed in 'the supernaturalism, the divine or miraculous agency almost throughout the older history of the Jews,' and that it is 'an integral, inseparable part of the narrative.' Sometimes it is possible 'with more or less probability to detect the naked fact which may lie beneath the imaginative or marvellous language in which it is recorded; but even in these cases the solution can be hardly more than conjectural.' In other cases 'the supernatural so entirely predominates and is so of the intimate essence of the transaction that the facts and the interpretation must be accepted together or rejected together.' In such cases it is the duty of the historian simply 'to relate the facts as recorded, to adduce his authorities, and to abstain from all explanation for which he has no ground.'

The distinction between the providential and the strictly miraculous appears to him impossible to draw. 'Belief in Divine Providence, in the agency of God as the Prime Mover in the Natural world as in the mind of Man, is an inseparable part of religion. There can be no religion without it.' But in numerous cases, to distinguish between the simply providential and the strictly miraculous implies a knowledge of the working of natural causes greater than we possess; and in certain stages of civilisation, and very eminently in the Jewish mind, there is a marked tendency to suppress secondary causes, and to attribute not only the more extraordinary but also the common events of life to direct divine agency. The possibility and the reality of the miraculous he emphatically asserts.

'The palmary miracle of all, the Resurrection, stands entirely by itself. Every attempt to resolve it into a natural event, a delusion or hallucination in the minds of the disciples, the eye-witnesses and death-defying witnesses to its truth, or to treat it as an allegory or figure of speech, is to me a signal failure. It must be accepted as the keystone—for such it is—and seal to the great Christian doctrine of a future life, as a historical fact, or rejected as a baseless fable.'

But great numbers of what were deemed miracles may be explained by natural causes, by figurative modes of expression which were common in Oriental nations, by the tendency of the human mind to embellish or exaggerate surprising facts, or invent supernatural causes for what it is unable to explain, by the retrospective imagination which seeks to dignify the distant past with a supernatural halo. The early annals of all nations are strewn with pretended miracles which no one will now maintain, and Milman shows in a powerful passage how the idea of the miraculous has been steadily contracting and receding; how dangerous it is to base the defence of Christianity on the evidence of miracles rather than on appeals to the conscience, the moral sense, the innate religiousness, the deep spiritual cravings of human nature.

Such views, though now sufficiently commonplace, seemed very novel in England when Milman wrote. Dean Stanley described his work as 'the first decisive inroad of German theology into England; the first palpable indication that the Bible could be studied like another book; that the characters and events of sacred history could be treated at once critically and reverently.' But though Milman was very well acquainted with German theology, he resented the notion that he was its interpreter or representative. He contended that in restricting the province of inspiration to the direct inculcation of religious truth he was following a sound Anglican tradition. He quoted the authority of Paley and Warburton, of Tillotson and Secker. In such principles of interpretation he said he had found 'a safeguard during a long and not unreflective life against the difficulties arising out of the philosophical and historical researches of his time.' They had enabled him 'to follow out all the marvellous discoveries of science, and all those hardly less marvellous, if less certain, conclusions of historical, ethnological, linguistic criticism, in the serene confidence that they are utterly irrelevant to the truth of Christianity.' 'If on such subjects,' he concluded, 'some solid ground be not found on which highly educated, reflective, reading, reasoning men may find firm footing, I can foresee nothing but a wide, a widening—I fear, an irreparable—breach between the thought and the religion of England. A comprehensive, all-embracing, truly Catholic Christianity which knows what is essential to religion, what is temporary and extraneous to it, may defy the world.'

These words are taken from the later preface to which we have referred. In the same preface, and also in his 'History of Christianity,' may be found some interesting remarks on the German school of Biblical criticism, the greater portion of which has arisen since the original publication of the 'History of the Jews.' In many of its conclusions he had anticipated it, and he was quite as sensible as the German writers of the hopelessness of seeking scientific revelations in the Biblical narrative; of the worthlessness of most of the common schemes for reconciling science and theology; of the untrustworthy character of Jewish chronology and Jewish figures; of the grave doubts that hang over the authorship and the date of some of the books; of the necessity of making full allowance, when reading them, for human fallibility and inaccuracy. At the same time, his admiration for the German critics was by no means unqualified. While fully admitting their extraordinary learning, industry, and ingenuity, he complained that their too common infirmity was 'a passion for making history without historical materials,' basing the most dogmatic and positive statements upon faint indications, or upon ingenious conjectures that could not legitimately go beyond a very low degree of probability. The assurance with which these writers undertook by internal evidence to decompose ancient documents, assigning each paragraph to an independent source; the decisive weight they were accustomed to give to slight improbabilities or coincidences, and to small variations of style and phraseology; the confidence with which they put forward solutions or conjectures which, however ingenious or plausible, were based on no external evidence as if they were proved facts, appeared to him profoundly unhistorical.

It must have been somewhat irritating to one who clung so closely to University life, and who had been justly regarded as one of the most brilliant of Oxford scholars, to find that his own University was prominent in the condemnation of the 'History of the Jews.' Only two years before he had preached with general approbation the Bampton Lectures in defence of Christianity. His new work was again and again condemned from the University pulpits, and among others by the Margaret Professor of Divinity and by the Hulsean lecturer for 1832. The clamour was naturally taken up in many other quarters, and especially by the religious newspapers. It was noticed that 'Milman's History' appeared in the window of Carlisle, the infidel bookseller.

'I only wish,' wrote Milman, when the fact was brought to his notice, 'all Carlisle's customers would read it. A noble lord once wrote to the bishop of a certain diocese to complain that a baronet who lived in the same parish brought his mistress to church, which sorely shocked his regular family. The bishop gravely assured him that he was very glad to hear that Sir —— brought his naughty lady to church, and hoped that she would profit by what she heard there and amend her ways. So say I of Carlisle's customers.'[50]

The opinions expressed in this, as in his later works, no doubt in some degree obstructed the promotion of Milman in the Church, but he had no reason to regret it. Of all men, he once said, he thought he owed most to Bishop Blomfield, for there was once a question of offering him a bishopric, and it was a remonstrance of the Bishop of London that prevented it. 'I am afraid,' he said, 'that if it had been offered me I should have accepted it, and I should then never have written my "Latin Christianity."' But, though he escaped the fate which has cut short the best work of more than one distinguished historian, his conspicuous position among the scholars and writers in the Church was widely recognised, and he was soon transferred from a provincial town to a central position in the Metropolis. In 1835 Sir Robert Peel made him Rector of St. Margaret's, Westminster, and Prebendary in the Abbey. Though continuing without intermission his historical work, he appears to have discharged with exemplary vigour the duties of a large and poor parish until 1849, when Lord John Russell appointed him Dean of St. Paul's. The position was exactly suited to him. It was one of much dignity, but also of much leisure, and it gave him ample opportunities of pursuing the studies which were the true work of his life.

The great subject of the history of Christianity was, indeed, continually before him. Among other things, he studied minutely both the text and the authorities of Gibbon, for whom he had a deep and growing admiration. An excellent edition of Gibbon was one of the first results. Milman's notes have been included in Smith's later edition, and, though a large proportion of them were naturally somewhat controversial, being devoted to refuting some of the conclusions of the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters, it is impossible to read them without recognising the candour as well as the learning and the acumen of the critic. Few things that Milman has written are finer than the preface in which, in ten or twelve masterly pages, he sums up his estimate of his great predecessor.

The three volumes of the 'History of Christianity,' dealing with its early history up to the period of the abolition of Paganism in the Roman Empire, appeared in 1840, and they were followed by the six large volumes of the 'History of Latin Christianity,' carrying the history of the Western Church to the end of the Pontificate of Nicholas V. in 1455. This great work was published in two instalments—the first three volumes in 1854, and the remaining three in the following year—and it gave its author indisputably the first place among the ecclesiastical historians of England and a high place among the historians of the nineteenth century. He possessed, indeed, in an eminent degree some of the qualities that are most rare, and at the same time most valuable, in ecclesiastical history. A large proportion of the most learned ecclesiastical historians have been men who have devoted their whole lives to this single department of knowledge, who derived from it all their measures of probability and canons of criticism, and who, treating it as an isolated and mainly supernatural thing, have taken very little account of the intellectual and political secular influences that have largely shaped its course. Most of them also have been men who undertook their task with convictions and habits of thought that were absolutely incompatible with real independence and impartiality of judgment in estimating either the events or the characters they described. Milman was wholly free from these defects. His wide knowledge, his cool, critical, admirably trained judgment, were never better shown than in the many pages in which he has pointed out the analogies or resemblances between Jewish and other Oriental beliefs; the manner in which national characteristics or secular intellectual tendencies affected theological types; the countless modifications in belief or practice which grew up, as the Church accommodated itself to the conditions of successive ages and entered into alliance or conflict with different political systems; the many indirect, subtle, far-reaching ways in which the world and the Church interacted upon each other in all the great departments of speculation, art, industry, social and political life. A certain aloofness and coldness of judgment in dealing with sacred subjects was the reproach which was most frequently brought against him. As he himself said, he wrote rather as an historian than a religious instructor, and he dealt with his subject chiefly in its temporal, social, and political aspects. Justice and impartiality of judgment to friend and foe he deemed one of the first moral duties of an historian, and Dean Church was not wrong in ascribing to him a quite 'unusual combination of the strongest feeling about right and wrong with the largest equity.' 'What a delightful book, so tolerant of the intolerant!' was his characteristic eulogy of the work of another writer, and it truly reflects the turn of his own mind. Provost Hawtrey, who was no mean judge of men, said, after an intimacy of nearly fifty years, that he had never known a man who possessed in a greater degree than Milman the virtue of Christian charity in its highest and rarest form. It was a gift which stood him in good stead in dealing with the very blended characters, the tangled politics, the often misguided enthusiasms of ecclesiastical history. While he was constitutionally extremely averse to the moral casuistry which confuses the boundaries of right and wrong, he had too sound a grasp of the evolution of history to fall into the common error of judging the acts of one age by the moral standards of another. His history was eminently a history of large lines and broad tendencies. The growth, influence, and decline of the Papacy—the distinctive characteristics of Latin and Teutonic Christianity; the effect of Christianity on jurisprudence; the monastic system in its various phases; the rise and conquests of Mohammedanism; the severance of Greek from Latin Christianity; Charlemagne, Hildebrand, the Crusades, the Templars, the Great Councils; the decay of Latin and the rise of modern languages; the influence of the Church on literature, painting, sculpture, and architecture—are but a few of the great subjects he has treated, always with knowledge and intelligence, often with conspicuous brilliancy.

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