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´╗┐Title: The Days Before Yesterday
Author: Hamilton, Frederic, Lord, 1856-1928
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Days Before Yesterday" ***

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THE DAYS BEFORE YESTERDAY


by

Lord Frederick Hamilton



FOREWORD


The Public has given so kindly a reception to The Varnished Pomps of
Yesterday (a reception which took its author wholly by surprise), that
I have extracted some further reminiscences from the lumber-room of
recollections. Those who expect startling revelations, or stale whiffs
of forgotten scandals in these pages, will, I fear, be disappointed,
for the book contains neither. It is merely a record of everyday
events, covering different ground to those recounted in the former
book, which may, or may not, prove of interest. I must tender my
apologies for the insistent recurrence of the first person singular; in
a book of this description this is difficult to avoid.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER I

Early days--The passage of many terrors--Crocodiles, grizzlies and
hunchbacks--An adventurous journey and its reward--The famous spring in
South Audley Street--Climbing chimney-sweeps--The story of Mrs.
Montagu's son--The sweeps' carnival--Disraeli--Lord John Russell--A
child's ideas about the Whigs--The Earl of Aberdeen--"Old Brown
Bread"--Sir Edwin Landseer, a great family friend--A live lion at a
tea-party--Landseer as an artist--Some of his vagaries--His frescoes at
Ardverikie--His latter days--A devoted friend--His last Academy picture


CHAPTER II

The "swells" of the "sixties"--Old Lord Claud Hamilton--My first
presentation to Queen Victoria--Scandalous behaviour of a
brother--Queen Victoria's letters--Her character and strong common
sense--My mother's recollections of George III. and George IV.--Carlton
House, and the Brighton Pavilion--Queen Alexandra--The Fairchild
Family--Dr. Cumming and his church--A clerical Jazz--First visit to
Paris--General de Flahault's account of Napoleon's campaign of
1812--Another curious link with the past--"Something
French"--Attraction of Paris--Cinderella's glass slipper--A glimpse of
Napoleon III.--The Rue de Rivoli--The Riviera in 1865--A novel
Tricolour flag--Jenny Lind--The championship of the Mediterranean--My
father's boat and crew--The race--The Abercorn wins the championship


CHAPTER III

A new departure--A Dublin hotel in the "sixties"--The Irish mail
service--The wonderful old paddle mail-boats--The convivial waiters of
the Munster--The Viceregal Lodge--Indians and pirates--The imagination
of youth--A modest personal ambition--Death-warrants; imaginary and
real--The Fenian outbreak of 1866-7--The Abergele railway accident--A
Dublin Drawing-Room--Strictly private ceremonials--Some of the
amenities of the Chapel Royal--An unbidden spectator of the State
dinners--Irish wit--Judge Keogh--Father Healy--Happy Dublin knack of
nomenclature--An unexpected honour and its cause--Incidents of the
Fenian rising--Dr. Hatchell--A novel prescription--Visit of King
Edward--Gorgeous ceremonial, but a chilly drive--An anecdote of Queen
Alexandra


CHAPTER IV

Chittenden's--A wonderful teacher--My personal experiences as a
schoolmaster--My "boys in blue"--My unfortunate garments--A "brave
Belge"--The model boy, and his name--A Spartan regime--"The Three
Sundays"--Novel religious observances--Harrow--"John Smith of
Harrow"--"Tommy"--Steele--"Tosher"--An ingenious punishment--John
Farmer--His methods--The birth of a famous song--Harrow school
songs--"Ducker"--The "Curse of Versatility"--Advancing old age--The
race between three brothers--A family failing--My father's race at
sixty-four--My own--A most acrimonious dispute at Rome--Harrow after
fifty years


CHAPTER V

Mme. Ducros--A Southern French country town--"Tartarin de
Tarascon"--His prototypes at Nyons--M. Sisteron the roysterer--The
Southern French--An octogenarian pasteur--French
industry--"Bone-shakers"--A wonderful
"Cordon-bleu"--"Slop-basin"--French legal procedure--The
bons-vivants--The merry French judges--La gaiete francaise--Delightful
excursions--Some sleepy old towns--Oronge and Avignon--M. Thiers'
ingenious cousin--Possibilities--French political situation in
1874--The Comte de Chambord--Some French characteristics--High
intellectual level--Three days in a Trappist Monastery--Details of life
there--The Arian heresy--Silkworm culture--Tendencies of French to
complicate details--Some examples--Cicadas in London.


CHAPTER VI

Brunswick--Its beauty--High level of culture--The Brunswick
Theatre--Its excellence--Gas vs. Electricity--Primitive theatre
toilets--Operatic stars in private life--Some operas unknown in
London--Dramatic incidents in them--Levasseur's parody of
"Robert"--Some curious details about operas--Two fiery old
pan-Germans--Influence of the teaching profession on modern
Germany--The "French and English Clubs"--A meeting of the "English
Club" Some reflections about English reluctance to learn foreign
tongues--Mental attitude of non-Prussians in 1875--Concerning various
beers--A German sportsman--The silent, quinine-loving youth--The Harz
Mountains--A "Kettle-drive" for hares--Dialects of German--The odious
"Kaffee-Klatch"--Universal gossip--Hamburg's overpowering
hospitality--Hamburg's attitude towards Britain--The city itself--Trip
to British Heligoland--The island--Some peculiarities--Migrating
birds--Sir Fitzhardinge Maxse--Lady Maxse--The Heligoland
Theatre--Winter in Heligoland


CHAPTER VII

Some London beauties of the "seventies"--Great ladies--The Victorian
girl--Votaries of the Gaiety Theatre Two witty ladies--Two clever girls
and mock-Shakespeare--The family who talked Johnsonian
English--Old-fashioned tricks of pronunciation--Practical jokes--Lord
Charles Beresford and the old Club-member--The shoeless
legislator--Travellers' palms--The tree that spouted wine--Ceylon's
spicy breezes--Some reflections--Decline of public interest in
Parliament--Parliamentary giants--Gladstone, John Bright, and
Chamberlain--Gladstone's last speech--His resignation--W.H. Smith--The
Assistant Whips--Sir William Hart-Dyke--Weary hours at Westminster--A
Pseudo-Ingoldsbean Lay


CHAPTER VIII

The Foreign Office--The new Private Secretary--A Cabinet
key--Concerning theatricals--Some surnames which have passed into
everyday use--Theatricals at Petrograd--A mock-opera--The family from
Runcorn--An embarrassing predicament--Administering the oath--Secret
Service--Popular errors--Legitimate employment of information--The
Phoenix Park murders--I sanction an arrest--The innocent victim--The
execution of the murderers of Alexander II.--The jarring military
band--Black Magic--Sir Charles Wyke--Some of his experiences--The
seance at the Pantheon--Sir Charles' experiments on myself--The
Alchemists--The Elixir of Life, and the Philosopher's Stone--Lucid
directions for their manufacture--Glamis Castle and its
inhabitants--The tuneful Lyon family--Mr. Gladstone at Glamis--He sings
in the glees--The castle and its treasures--Recollections of Glamis


CHAPTER IX

Canada--The beginnings of the C.P.R.--Attitude of British Columbia--The
C.P.R. completed--Quebec--A swim at Niagara--Other mighty
waterfalls--Ottawa and Rideau Hall--Effects of dry climate--Personal
electricity--Every man his own dynamo--Attraction of Ottawa--The
"roaring game"--Skating--An ice-palace--A ball on skates--Difficulties
of translating the Bible into Eskimo--The building of the snow hut--The
snow hut in use--Sir John Macdonald--Some personal traits--The Canadian
Parliament buildings--Monsieur l'Orateur--A quaint oration--The "Pages'
Parliament"--An all-night sitting--The "Arctic Cremorne"--A curious
Lisbon custom--The Balkan "souvenir-hunters"--Personal inspection of
Canadian convents--Some incidents--The unwelcome novice--The Montreal
Carnival--The Ice-castle--The Skating Carnival--A stupendous toboggan
slide--The pioneer of "ski" in Canada--The old-fashioned raquettes--A
Canadian Spring--Wonders of the Dominion


CHAPTER X

Calcutta--Hooghly pilots--Government House--A Durbar--The sulky
Rajah--The customary formalities--An ingenious interpreter--The sailing
clippers in the Hooghly--Calcutta Cathedral--A succulent banquet--The
mistaken Minister--The "Gordons"--Barrackpore--A Swiss Family Robinson
aerial house--The child and the elephants--The merry midshipmen--Some
of their escapades--A huge haul of fishes--Queen Victoria and
Hindustani--The Hills--The Manipur outbreak--A riding tour--A wise old
Anglo-Indian--Incidents--The fidelity of native servants--A novel
printing-press--Lucknow--The loss of an illusion


CHAPTER XI

Matters left untold--The results of improved communications--My
father's journey to Naples--Modern stereotyped uniformity--Changes in
customs--The faithful family retainer--Some details--Samuel Pepys'
stupendous banquets--Persistence of idea--Ceremonial
incense--Patriarchal family life--The barn dances--My father's
habits--My mother--A son's tribute--Autumn days--Conclusion



THE DAYS BEFORE YESTERDAY



CHAPTER I


Early days--The passage of many terrors--Crocodiles, grizzlies and
hunchbacks--An adventurous journey and its reward--The famous spring in
South Audley Street--Climbing chimney-sweeps--The story of Mrs.
Montagu's son--The sweeps' carnival--Disraeli--Lord John Russell--A
child's ideas about the Whigs--The Earl of Aberdeen--"Old Brown
Bread"--Sir Edwin Landseer, a great family friend--A live lion at a
tea-party--Landseer as an artist--Some of his vagaries--His frescoes at
Ardverikie--His latter days--A devoted friend--His last Academy picture.


I was born the thirteenth child of a family of fourteen, on the
thirteenth day of the month, and I have for many years resided at No.
13 in a certain street in Westminster. In spite of the popular
prejudice attached to this numeral, I am not conscious of having
derived any particular ill-fortune from my accidental association with
it.

Owing to my sequence in the family procession, I found myself on my
entry into the world already equipped with seven sisters and four
surviving brothers. I was also in the unusual position of being born an
uncle, finding myself furnished with four ready-made nephews--the
present Lord Durham, his two brothers, Mr. Frederick Lambton and
Admiral-of-the-Fleet Sir Hedworth Meux, and the late Lord Lichfield.

Looking down the long vista of sixty years with eyes that have already
lost their keen vision, the most vivid impression that remains of my
early childhood is the nightly ordeal of the journey down "The Passage
of Many Terrors" in our Irish home. It had been decreed that, as I had
reached the mature age of six, I was quite old enough to come
downstairs in the evening by myself without the escort of a maid, but
no one seemed to realise what this entailed on the small boy
immediately concerned. The house had evidently been built by some
malevolent architect with the sole object of terrifying little boys.
Never, surely, had such a prodigious length of twisting, winding
passages and such a superfluity of staircases been crammed into one
building, and as in the early "sixties" electric light had not been
thought of, and there was no gas in the house, these endless passages
were only sparingly lit with dim colza-oil lamps. From his nursery the
little boy had to make his way alone through a passage and up some
steps. These were brightly lit, and concealed no terrors. The staircase
that had to be negotiated was also reassuringly bright, but at its base
came the "Terrible Passage." It was interminably long, and only lit by
an oil lamp at its far end. Almost at once a long corridor running at
right angles to the main one, and plunged in total darkness, had to be
crossed. This was an awful place, for under a marble slab in its dim
recesses a stuffed crocodile reposed. Of course in the daytime the
crocodile PRETENDED to be very dead, but every one knew that as soon as
it grew dark, the crocodile came to life again, and padded noiselessly
about the passage on its scaly paws seeking for its prey, with its
great cruel jaws snapping, its fierce teeth gleaming, and its horny
tail lashing savagely from side to side. It was also a matter of common
knowledge that the favourite article of diet of crocodiles was a little
boy with bare legs in a white suit. Even should one be fortunate enough
to escape the crocodile's jaws, there were countless other terrors
awaiting the traveller down this awe-inspiring passage. A little
farther on there was a dark lobby, with cupboards surrounding it. Any
one examining these cupboards by daylight would have found that they
contained innocuous cricket-bats and stumps, croquet-mallets and balls,
and sets of bowls. But as soon as the shades of night fell, these
harmless sporting accessories were changed by some mysterious and
malign agency into grizzly bears, and grizzly bears are notoriously the
fiercest of their species. It was advisable to walk very quickly, but
quietly, past the lair of the grizzlies, for they would have gobbled up
a little boy in one second. Immediately after the bears' den came the
culminating terror of all--the haunt of the wicked little hunchbacks.
These malignant little beings inhabited an arched and recessed
cross-passage. It was their horrible habit to creep noiselessly behind
their victims, tip...tip...tip-toeing silently but swiftly behind their
prey, and then ... with a sudden spring they threw themselves on to
little boys' backs, and getting their arms round their necks, they
remorselessly throttled the life out of them. In the early "sixties"
there was a perfect epidemic of so-called "garrotting" in London.
Harmless citizens proceeding peaceably homeward through unfrequented
streets or down suburban roads at night were suddenly seized from
behind by nefarious hands, and found arms pressed under their chins
against their windpipe, with a second hand drawing their heads back
until they collapsed insensible, and could be despoiled leisurely of
any valuables they might happen to have about them. Those familiar with
John Leech's Punch Albums will recollect how many of his drawings
turned on this outbreak of garrotting. The little boy had heard his
elders talking about this garrotting, and had somehow mixed it up with
a story about hunchbacks and the fascinating local tales about "the wee
people," but the terror was a very real one for all that. The
hunchbacks baffled, there only remained a dark archway to pass, but
this archway led to the "Robbers' Passage." A peculiarly bloodthirsty
gang of malefactors had their fastnesses along this passage, but the
dread of being in the immediate neighbourhood of such a band of
desperadoes was considerably modified by the increasing light, as the
solitary oil-lamp of the passage was approached. Under the comforting
beams of this lamp the little boy would pause until his heart began to
thump less wildly after his deadly perils, and he would turn the handle
of the door and walk into the great hall as demurely as though he had
merely traversed an ordinary everyday passage in broad daylight. It was
very reassuring to see the big hall blazing with light, with the logs
roaring on the open hearth, and grown-ups writing, reading, and talking
unconcernedly, as though unconscious of the awful dangers lurking
within a few yards of them. In that friendly atmosphere, what with toys
and picture-books, the fearful experiences of the "Passage of Many
Terrors" soon faded away, and the return journey upstairs would be free
from alarms, for Catherine, the nursery-maid, would come to fetch the
little boy when his bedtime arrived.

Catherine was fat, freckled, and French. She was also of a very stolid
disposition. She stumped unconcernedly along the "Passage of Terrors,"
and any reference to its hidden dangers of robbers, hunchbacks, bears,
and crocodiles only provoked the remark, "Quel tas de betises!" In
order to reassure the little boy, Catherine took him to view the
stuffed crocodile reposing inertly under its marble slab. Of course,
before a grown-up the crocodile would pretend to be dead and stuffed,
but ... the little boy knew better. It occurred gleefully to him, too,
that the plump French damsel might prove more satisfactory as a repast
to a hungry saurian than a skinny little boy with thin legs. In the
cheerful nursery, with its fragrant peat fire (we called it "turf"),
the terrors of the evening were quickly forgotten, only to be renewed
with tenfold activity next evening, as the moment for making the
dreaded journey again approached.

The little boy had had the Pilgrim's Progress read to him on Sundays.
He envied "Christian," who not only usually enjoyed the benefit of some
reassuring companion, such as "Mr. Interpreter," or "Mr. Greatheart,"
to help him on his road, but had also been expressly told, "Keep in the
midst of the path, and no harm shall come to thee." This was distinctly
comforting, and Christian enjoyed another conspicuous advantage. All
the lions he encountered in the course of his journey were chained up,
and could not reach him provided he adhered to the Narrow Way. The
little boy thought seriously of tying a rolled-up tablecloth to his
back to represent Christian's pack; in his white suit, he might perhaps
then pass for a pilgrim, and the strip of carpet down the centre of the
passage would make an admirable Narrow Way, but it all depended on
whether the crocodile, bears, and hunchbacks knew, and would observe
the rules of the game. It was most improbable that the crocodile had
ever had the Pilgrim's Progress read to him in his youth, and he might
not understand that the carpet representing the Narrow Way was
inviolable territory. Again, the bears might make their spring before
they realised that, strictly speaking, they ought to consider
themselves chained up. The ferocious little hunchbacks were clearly
past praying for; nothing would give them a sense of the most
elementary decency. On the whole, the safest plan seemed to be, on
reaching the foot of the stairs, to keep an eye on the distant lamp and
to run to it as fast as short legs and small feet could carry one. Once
safe under its friendly beams, panting breath could be recovered, and
the necessary stolid look assumed before entering the hall.

There was another voyage, rich in its promise of ultimate rewards, but
so perilous that it would only be undertaken under escort. That was to
the housekeeper's room through a maze of basement passages. On the road
two fiercely-gleaming roaring pits of fire had to be encountered.
Grown-ups said this was the furnace that heated the house, but the
little boy had his own ideas on the subject. Every Sunday his nurse
used to read to him out of a little devotional book, much in vogue in
the "sixties," called The Peep of Day, a book with the most terrifying
pictures. One Sunday evening, so it is said, the little boy's mother
came into the nursery to find him listening in rapt attention to what
his nurse was reading him.

"Emery is reading to me out of a good book," explained the small boy
quite superfluously.

"And do you like it, dear?"

"Very much indeed."

"What is Emery reading to you about? Is it about Heaven?"

"No, it's about 'ell," gleefully responded the little boy, who had not
yet found all his "h's."

Those glowing furnace-bars; those roaring flames ... there could be no
doubt whatever about it. A hymn spoke of "Gates of Hell" ... of course
they just called it the heating furnace to avoid frightening him. The
little boy became acutely conscious of his misdeeds. He had taken ...
no, stolen an apple from the nursery pantry and had eaten it. Against
all orders he had played with the taps in the sink. The burden of his
iniquities pressed heavily on him; remembering the encouraging warnings
Mrs. Fairchild, of The Fairchild Family, gave her offspring as to their
certain ultimate destiny when they happened to break any domestic rule,
he simply dared not pass those fiery apertures alone. With his hand in
that of his friend Joseph, the footman, it was quite another matter.
Out of gratitude, he addressed Joseph as "Mr. Greatheart," but Joseph,
probably unfamiliar with the Pilgrim's Progress, replied that his name
was Smith.

The interminable labyrinth of passages threaded, the warm, comfortable
housekeeper's room, with its red curtains, oak presses and a delicious
smell of spice pervading it, was a real haven of rest. To this very
day, nearly sixty years afterwards, it still looks just the same, and
keeps its old fragrant spicy odour. Common politeness dictated a brief
period of conversation, until Mrs. Pithers, the housekeeper, should
take up her wicker key-basket and select a key (the second press on the
left). From that inexhaustible treasure-house dates and figs would
appear, also dried apricots and those little discs of crystallised
apple-paste which, impaled upon straws, and coloured green, red and
yellow, were in those days manufactured for the special delectation of
greedy little boys. What a happy woman Mrs. Pithers must have been with
such a prodigal wealth of delicious products always at her command! It
was comforting, too, to converse with Mrs. Pithers, for though this
intrepid woman was alarmed neither by bears, hunchbacks nor crocodiles,
she was terribly frightened by what she termed "cows," and regulated
her daily walks so as to avoid any portion of the park where cattle
were grazing. Here the little boy experienced a delightful sense of
masculine superiority. He was not the least afraid of cattle, or of
other things in daylight and the open air; of course at night in dark
passages infested with bears and little hunchbacks ... Well, it was
obviously different. And yet that woman who was afraid of "cows" could
walk without a tremor, or a little shiver down the spine, past the very
"Gates of Hell," where they roared and blazed in the dark passage.

Our English home had brightly-lit passages, and was consequently
practically free from bears and robbers. Still, we all preferred the
Ulster home in spite of its obvious perils. Here were a chain of lakes,
wide, silvery expanses of gleaming water reflecting the woods and
hills. Here were great tracts of woodlands where countless little burns
chattered and tinkled in their rocky beds as they hurried down to the
lakes, laughing as they tumbled in miniature cascades over rocky ledges
into swirling pools, in their mad haste to reach the placid waters
below. Here were purple heather-clad hills, with their bigger brethren
rising mistily blue in the distance, and great wine-coloured tracts of
bog (we called them "flows") interspersed with glistening bands of
water, where the turf had been cut which hung over the village in a
thin haze of fragrant blue smoke.

The woods in the English place were beautifully kept, but they were
uninteresting, for there were no rocks or great stones in them. An
English brook was a dull, prosaic, lifeless stream, rolling its
clay-stained waters stolidly along, with never a dimple of laughter on
its surface, or a joyous little gurgle of surprise at finding that it
was suddenly called upon to take a headlong leap of ten feet. The
English brooks were so silent, too, compared to our noisy Ulster burns,
whose short lives were one clamorous turmoil of protest against the
many obstacles with which nature had barred their progress to the sea;
here swirling over a miniature crag, there babbling noisily among a
labyrinth of stones. They ultimately became merged in a foaming,
roaring salmon river, expanding into amber-coloured pools, or breaking
into white rapids; a river which retained to the last its lordly
independence and reached the sea still free, refusing to be harnessed
or confined by man. Our English brook, after its uneventful childhood,
made its stolid matter-of-fact way into an equally dull little river
which crawled inertly along to its destiny somewhere down by the docks.
I know so many people whose whole lives are like that of that
particular English brook.

We lived then in London at Chesterfield House, South Audley Street,
which covered three times the amount of ground it does at present, for
at the back it had a very large garden, on which Chesterfield Gardens
are now built. In addition to this it had two wings at right angles to
it, one now occupied by Lord Leconfield's house, the other by Nos. 1
and 2, South Audley Street. The left-hand wing was used as our stables
and contained a well which enjoyed an immense local reputation in
Mayfair. Never was such drinking-water! My father allowed any one in
the neighbourhood to fetch their drinking-water from our well, and one
of my earliest recollections is watching the long daily procession of
men-servants in the curious yellow-jean jackets of the "sixties," each
with two large cans in his hands, fetching the day's supply of our
matchless water. No inhabitants of Curzon Street, Great Stanhope
Street, or South Audley Street would dream of touching any water but
that from the famous Chesterfield House spring. In 1867 there was a
serious outbreak of Asiatic cholera in London, and my father determined
to have the water of the celebrated spring analysed. There were loud
protests at this:--what, analyse the finest drinking-water in England!
My father, however, persisted, and the result of the analysis was that
our incomparable drinking-water was found to contain thirty per cent.
of organic matter. The analyst reported that fifteen per cent. of the
water must be pure sewage. My father had the spring sealed and bricked
up at once, but it is a marvel that we had not poisoned every single
inhabitant of the Mayfair district years before.

In the early "sixties" the barbarous practice of sending wretched
little "climbing boys" up chimneys to sweep them still prevailed. In
common with most other children of that day, I was perfectly terrified
when the chimney-sweep arrived with his attendant coal-black imps, for
the usual threat of foolish nurses to their charges when they proved
refractory was, "If you are not good I shall give you to the sweep, and
then you will have to climb up the chimney." When the dust-sheets laid
on the floors announced the advent of the sweeps, I used, if possible,
to hide until they had left the house. I cannot understand how public
opinion tolerated for so long the abominable cruelty of forcing little
boys to clamber up flues. These unhappy brats were made to creep into
the chimneys from the grates, and then to wriggle their way up by
digging their toes into the interstices of the bricks, and by working
their elbows and knees alternately; stifled in the pitch-darkness of
the narrow flue by foul air, suffocated by the showers of soot that
fell on them, perhaps losing their way in the black maze of chimneys,
and liable at any moment, should they lose their footing, to come
crashing down twenty feet, either to be killed outright in the dark or
to lie with a broken limb until they were extricated--should, indeed,
it be possible to rescue them at all. These unfortunate children, too,
were certain to get abrasions on their bare feet and on their elbows
and knees from the rough edges of the bricks. The soot working into
these abrasions gave them a peculiar form of sore. Think of the
terrible brutality to which a nervous child must have been subjected
before he could be induced to undertake so hateful a journey for the
first time. Should the boy hesitate to ascend, many of the
master-sweeps had no compunction in giving him what was termed a
"tickler"--that is, in lighting some straw in the grate below him. The
poor little urchin had perforce to scramble up his chimney then, to
avoid being roasted alive.

All honour to the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, the philanthropist, who
as Lord Ashley never rested in the House of Commons until he got a
measure placed on the Statute Book making the employment of
climbing-boys illegal.

It will be remembered that little Tom, the hero of Charles Kingsley's
delightful Water-Babies, was a climbing-sweep. In spite of all my care,
I occasionally met some of these little fellows in the passages,
inky-black with soot from the soles of their bare feet to the crowns of
their heads, except for the whites of their eyes. They could not have
been above eight or nine years old. I looked on them as awful warnings,
for of course they would not have occupied their present position had
they not been little boys who had habitually disobeyed the orders of
their nurses.

Even the wretched little climbing-boys had their gala-day on the 1st of
May, when they had a holiday and a feast under the terms of Mrs.
Montagu's will.

The story of Mrs. Montagu is well known. The large house standing in a
garden at the corner of Portman Square and Gloucester Place, now owned
by Lord Portman, was built for Mrs. Montagu by James Wyatt at the end
of the eighteenth century, and the adjoining Montagu Street and Montagu
Square derive their names from her. Somehow Mrs. Montagu's only son got
kidnapped, and all attempts to recover the child failed. Time went on,
and he was regarded as dead. On a certain 1st of May the sweeps arrived
to clean Mrs. Montagu's chimneys, and a climbing-boy was sent up to his
horrible task. Like Tom in the Water-Babies, he lost his way in the
network of flues and emerged in a different room to the one he had
started from. Something in the aspect of the room struck a
half-familiar, half-forgotten chord in his brain. He turned the handle
of the door of the next room and found a lady seated there. Then he
remembered. Filthy and soot-stained as he was, the little sweep flung
himself into the arms of the beautiful lady with a cry of "Mother!"
Mrs. Montagu had found her lost son.

In gratitude for the recovery of her son, Mrs. Montagu entertained
every climbing-boy in London at dinner on the anniversary of her son's
return, and arranged that they should all have a holiday on that day.
At her death she left a legacy to continue the treat.

Such, at least, is the story as I have always heard it.

At the Sweeps' Carnival, there was always a grown-up man figuring as
"Jack-in-the-green." Encased in an immense frame of wicker-work covered
with laurels and artificial flowers, from the midst of which his face
and arms protruded with a comical effect, "Jack-in-the-green" capered
slowly about in the midst of the street, surrounded by some twenty
little climbing-boys, who danced joyously round him with black faces,
their soot-stained clothes decorated with tags of bright ribbon, and
making a deafening clamour with their dustpans and brushes as they sang
some popular ditty. They then collected money from the passers-by,
making usually quite a good haul. There were dozens of these
"Jacks-in-the-green" to be seen then on Mayday in the London streets,
each one with his attendant band of little black familiars. I summoned
up enough courage once to ask a small inky-black urchin whether he had
disobeyed his nurse very often in order to be condemned to sweep
chimneys. He gaped at me uncomprehendingly, with a grin; but being a
cheerful little soul, assured me that, on the whole, he rather enjoyed
climbing up chimneys.

It was my father and mother's custom in London to receive any of their
friends at luncheon without a formal invitation, and a constant
procession of people availed themselves of this privilege. At six years
of age I was promoted to lunch in the dining-room with my parents, and
I always kept my ears open. I had then one brother in the House of
Commons, and we being a politically inclined family, most of the
notabilities of the Tory party put in occasional appearances at
Chesterfield House at luncheon-time. There was Mr. Disraeli, for whom
my father had an immense admiration, although he had not yet occupied
the post of Prime Minister. Mr. Disraeli's curiously impassive face,
with its entire absence of colouring, rather frightened me. It looked
like a mask. He had, too, a most singular voice, with a very impressive
style of utterance. After 1868, by which time my three elder brothers
were all in the House of Commons, and Disraeli himself was Prime
Minister, he was a more frequent visitor at our house.

In 1865 my uncle, Lord John Russell, my mother's brother, was Prime
Minister. My uncle, who had been born as far back as 1792, was a very
tiny man, who always wore one of the old-fashioned, high black-satin
stocks right up to his chin. I liked him, for he was always full of fun
and small jokes, but in that rigorously Tory household he was looked on
with scant favour. It was his second term of office as Prime Minister,
for he had been First Lord of the Treasury from 1846 to 1852; he had
also sat in the House of Commons for forty-seven years. My father was
rather inclined to ridicule his brother-in-law's small stature, and
absolutely detested his political opinions, declaring that he united
all the ineradicable faults of the Whigs in his diminutive person.
Listening, as a child will do, to the conversation of his elders, I
derived the most grotesquely false ideas as to the Whigs and their
traditional policy. I gathered that, with their tongues in their
cheeks, they advocated measures in which they did not themselves
believe, should they think that by so doing they would be able to
enhance their popularity and maintain themselves in office: that, in
order to extricate themselves from some present difficulty, they were
always prepared to mortgage the future recklessly, quite regardless of
the ultimate consequences: that whilst professing the most liberal
principles, they were absurdly exclusive in their private lives, not
consorting with all and sundry as we poor Tories did: that convictions
mattered less than office: that in fact nothing much mattered, provided
that the government of the country remained permanently in the hands of
a little oligarchy of Whig families, and that every office of profit
under the Crown was, as a matter of course, allotted to some member of
those favoured families. In proof of the latter statement, I learnt
that the first act of my uncle Lord John, as Prime Minister, had been
to appoint one of his brothers Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of
Commons, and to offer to another of his brothers, the Rev. Lord
Wriothesley Russell, the vacant Bishopric of Oxford. Much to the credit
of my clergyman-uncle, he declined the Bishopric, saying that he had
neither the eloquence nor the administrative ability necessary for so
high an office in the Church, and that he preferred to remain a plain
country parson in his little parish, of which, at the time of his
death, he had been Rector for fifty-six years. All of which only goes
to show what absurdly erroneous ideas a child, anxious to learn, may
pick up from listening to the conversation of his elders, even when one
of those elders happened to be Mr. Disraeli himself.

Another ex-Prime Minister who was often at our house was the fourth
Earl of Aberdeen, who had held office many times, and had been Prime
Minister during the Crimean War. He must have been a very old man then,
for he was born in 1784. I have no very distinct recollection of him.
Oddly enough, Lord Aberdeen was both my great-uncle and my
step-grandfather, for his first wife had been my grandfather's sister,
and after her death, he married my grandfather's widow, his two wives
thus being sisters-in-law. Judging by their portraits by Lawrence,
which hung round our dining-room, my great-grandfather, old Lord
Abercorn's sons and daughters must have been of singular and quite
unusual personal beauty. Not one of the five attained the age of
twenty-nine, all of them succumbing early to consumption. Lord Aberdeen
had a most unfortunate skin and complexion, and in addition he was
deeply pitted with small-pox. As a result his face looked exactly like
a slice of brown bread, and "Old Brown Bread" he was always called by
my elder brothers and sisters, who had but little love for him, for he
disliked young people, and always made the most disagreeable remarks he
could think of to them. I remember once being taken to see him at
Argyll House, Regent Street, on the site of which the "Palladium" now
stands. I recollect perfectly the ugly, gloomy house, and its uglier
and gloomier garden, but I have no remembrance of "Old Brown Bread"
himself, or of what he said to me, which, considering his notorious
dislike to children, is perhaps quite as well.

Of a very different type was another constant and always welcome
visitor to our house, Sir Edwin Landseer, the painter. He was one of my
father and mother's oldest friends, and had been an equally close
friend of my grandparents, the Duke and Duchess of Bedford. He had
painted three portraits of my father, and five of my mother. Two of the
latter had been engraved, and, under the titles of "Cottage Industry"
and "The Mask," had a very large sale in mid-Victorian days. His large
picture of my two eldest sisters, which hung over our dining-room
chimney-piece, had also been engraved, and was a great favourite, under
the title of "The Abercorn Children." Landseer was a most delightful
person, and the best company that can be imagined. My father and mother
were quite devoted to him, and both of them always addressed him as
"Lanny." My mother going to call on him at his St. John's Wood house,
found "Lanny" in the garden, working from a ladder on a gigantic mass
of clay. Turning the corner, she was somewhat alarmed at finding a
full-grown lion stretched out on the lawn. Landseer had been
commissioned by the Government to model the four lions for the base of
Nelson's pillar in Trafalgar Square. He had made some studies in the
Zoological Gardens, but as he always preferred working from the live
model, he arranged that an elderly and peculiarly docile lion should be
brought to his house from the Zoo in a furniture van attended by two
keepers. Should any one wish to know what that particular lion looked
like, they have only to glance at the base of the Nelson pillar. On
paying an afternoon call, it is so unusual to find a live lion included
amongst the guests, that my mother's perturbation at finding herself in
such close proximity to a huge loose carnivore is, perhaps, pardonable.
Landseer is, of course, no longer in fashion as a painter. I quite own
that at times his colour is unpleasing, owing to the bluish tint
overlaying it; but surely no one will question his draughtsmanship? And
has there ever been a finer animal-painter? Perhaps he was really a
black-and-white man. My family possess some three hundred drawings of
his: some in pen and ink, some in wash, some in pencil. I personally
prefer his very delicate pencil work, over which he sometimes threw a
light wash of colour. No one, seeing some of his pen and ink work, can
deny that he was a master of line. A dozen scratches, and the whole
picture is there! There is a charming little Landseer portrait of my
mother with my eldest sister, in Room III of the Tate Gallery. Landseer
preferred painting on panel, and he never would allow his pictures to
be varnished. His wishes have been obeyed in that respect; none of the
Landseers my family possess have ever been varnished.

He was certainly an unconventional guest in a country house. My father
had rented a deer-forest on a long lease from Cluny Macpherson, and had
built a large house there, on Loch Laggan. As that was before the days
of railways, the interior of the house at Ardverikie was necessarily
very plain, and the rooms were merely whitewashed. Landseer complained
that the glare of the whitewash in the dining-room hurt his eyes, and
without saying a word to any one, he one day produced his colours,
mounted a pair of steps, and proceeded to rough-in a design in charcoal
on the white walls. He worked away until he had completely covered the
walls with frescoes in colour. The originals of some of his best-known
engravings, "The Sanctuary," "The Challenge," "The Monarch of the
Glen," made their first appearance on the walls of the dining-room at
Ardverikie. The house was unfortunately destroyed by fire some years
later, and Landseer's frescoes perished with it.

At another time, my father leased for two years a large house in the
Midlands. The dining-hall of this house was hung with hideously wooden
full-length portraits of the family owning it. Landseer declared that
these monstrous pictures took away his appetite, so without any
permission he one day mounted a ladder, put in high-lights with white
chalk over the oils, made the dull eyes sparkle, and gave some
semblance of life to these forlorn effigies. Pleased with his success,
he then brightened up the flesh tints with red chalk, and put some
drawing into the faces. To complete his work, he rubbed blacks into the
backgrounds with charcoal. The result was so excellent that we let it
remain. At the conclusion of my father's tenancy, the family to whom
the place belonged were perfectly furious at the disrespect with which
their cherished portraits had been treated, for it was a traditional
article of faith with them that they were priceless works of art.

Towards the end of his life Landseer became hopelessly insane and,
during his periods of violence a dangerous homicidal maniac. Such an
affection, however, had my father and mother for the friend of their
younger days, that they still had him to stay with us in Kent for long
periods. He had necessarily to bring a large retinue with him: his own
trained mental attendant; Dr. Tuke, a very celebrated alienist in his
day; and, above all, Mrs. Pritchard. The case of Mrs. Pritchard is such
an instance of devoted friendship as to be worth recording. She was an
elderly widow of small means, Landseer's neighbour in St. John's Wood;
a little dried-up, shrivelled old woman. The two became firm allies,
and when Landseer's reason became hopelessly deranged, Mrs. Pritchard
devoted her whole life to looking after her afflicted friend. In spite
of her scanty means, she refused to accept any salary, and Landseer was
like wax in her hands. In his most violent moods when the keeper and
Dr. Tuke both failed to quiet him, Mrs. Pritchard had only to hold up
her finger and he became calm at once. Either his clouded reason or
some remnant of his old sense of fun led him to talk of Mrs. Pritchard
as his "pocket Venus." To people staying with us (who, I think, were a
little alarmed at finding themselves in the company of a lunatic,
however closely watched he might be), he would say, "In two minutes you
will see the loveliest of her sex. A little dainty creature, perfect in
feature, perfect in shape, who might have stepped bodily out of the
frame of a Greuze. A perfect dream of loveliness." They were
considerably astonished when a little wizened woman, with a face like a
withered apple, entered the room. He was fond, too, of descanting on
Mrs. Pritchard's wonderfully virtuous temperament, notwithstanding her
amazing charms. Visitors probably reflected that, given her appearance,
the path of duty must have been rendered very easy to her.

Landseer painted his last Academy picture, "The Baptismal Font," whilst
staying with us. It is a perfectly meaningless composition,
representing a number of sheep huddled round a font, for whatever
allegorical significance he originally meant to give it eluded the poor
clouded brain. As he always painted from the live model, he sent down
to the Home Farm for two sheep, which he wanted driven upstairs into
his bedroom, to the furious indignation of the housekeeper, who
declared, with a certain amount of reason, that it was impossible to
keep a house well if live sheep were to be allowed in the best
bedrooms. So Landseer, his easel and colours and his sheep were all
transferred to the garden.

On another occasion there was some talk about a savage bull. Landseer,
muttering, "Bulls! bulls! bulls!" snatched up an album of my sister's,
and finding a blank page in it, made an exquisite little drawing of a
charging bull. The disordered brain repeating "Bulls! bulls! bulls!" he
then drew a bulldog, a pair of bullfinches surrounded by bulrushes, and
a hooked bull trout fighting furiously for freedom. That page has been
cut out and framed for fifty years.



CHAPTER II


The "swells" of the "sixties"--Old Lord Claud Hamilton--My first
presentation to Queen Victoria--Scandalous behaviour of a
brother--Queen Victoria's letters--Her character and strong common
sense--My mother's recollections of George III. and George IV.--Carlton
House, and the Brighton Pavilion--Queen Alexandra--The Fairchild
Family--Dr. Cumming and his church--A clerical Jazz--First visit to
Paris--General de Flahault's account of Napoleon's campaign of
1812--Another curious link with the past--"Something
French"--Attraction of Paris--Cinderella's glass slipper--A glimpse of
Napoleon III.--The Rue de Rivoli The Riviera in 1865--A novel Tricolor
flag--Jenny Lind--The championship of the Mediterranean--My father's
boat and crew--The race--The Abercorn wins the championship.


Every one familiar with John Leech's Pictures from Punch must have an
excellent idea of the outward appearance of "swells" of the "sixties."

As a child I had an immense admiration for these gorgeous beings,
though, between ourselves, they must have been abominably loud
dressers. They affected rather vulgar sealskin waistcoats, with the
festoons of a long watch-chain meandering over them, above which they
exhibited a huge expanse of black or blue satin, secured by two
scarf-pins of the same design, linked together, like Siamese twins, by
a little chain.

A reference to Leech's drawings will show the flamboyant checked
"pegtop" trousers in which they delighted. Their principal adornment
lay in their immense "Dundreary" whiskers, usually at least eight
inches long. In a high wind these immensely long whiskers blew back
over their owners' shoulders in the most comical fashion, and they must
have been horribly inconvenient. I determined early in life to affect,
when grown-up, longer whiskers than any one else--if possible down to
my waist; but alas for human aspirations! By the time that I had
emerged from my chrysalis stage, Dundreary whiskers had ceased to be
the fashion; added to which unkind Nature had given me a hairless face.

My uncle, old Lord Claud Hamilton, known in our family as "The
Dowager," adhered, to the day of his death, to the William IV. style of
dress. He wore an old-fashioned black-satin stock right up to his chin,
with white "gills" above, and was invariably seen in a blue coat with
brass buttons, and a buff waistcoat. My uncle was one of the handsomest
men in England, and had sat for nearly forty years in Parliament. He
had one curious faculty. He could talk fluently and well on almost any
topic at indefinite length, a very useful gift in the House of Commons
of those days. On one occasion when it was necessary "to talk a Bill
out," he got up without any preparation whatever, and addressed the
House in flowing periods for four hours and twenty minutes. His speech
held the record for length for many years, but it was completely
eclipsed in the early "eighties" by the late Mr. Biggar, who spoke (if
my memory serves me right) for nearly six hours on one occasion.
Biggar, however, merely read interminable extracts from Blue Books,
whereas my uncle indulged in four hours of genuine rhetorical
declamation. My uncle derived his nickname from the fact that in our
family the second son is invariably christened Claud, so I had already
a brother of that name. There happen to be three Lord Claud Hamiltons
living now, of three successive generations.

I shall never forget my bitter disappointment the first time I was
taken, at a very early age, to see Queen Victoria. I had pictured to
myself a dazzling apparition arrayed in sumptuous robes, seated on a
golden throne; a glittering crown on her head, a sceptre in one hand,
an orb grasped in the other. I had fancied Her Majesty seated thus,
motionless during the greater part of the twenty-four hours, simply
"reigning." I could have cried with disappointment when a middle-aged
lady, simply dressed in widow's "weeds" and wearing a widow's cap, rose
from an ordinary arm-chair to receive us. I duly made my bow, but
having a sort of idea that it had to be indefinitely repeated, went on
nodding like a porcelain Chinese mandarin, until ordered to stop.

Between ourselves, I behaved far better than a brother of mine once did
under similar circumstances. Many years before I was born, my father
lent his Scotch house to Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort for ten
days. This entailed my two eldest sisters and two eldest brothers
vacating their nurseries in favour of the Royal children, and their
being transferred to the farm, where they had very cramped quarters
indeed. My second brother deeply resented being turned out of his
comfortable nursery, and refused to be placated. On the day after the
Queen's arrival, my mother took her four eldest children to present
them to Her Majesty, my sisters dressed in their best clothes, my
brothers being in kilts. They were duly instructed as to how they were
to behave, and upon being presented, my two sisters made their
curtsies, and my eldest brother made his best bow. "And this, your
Majesty, is my second boy. Make your bow, dear," said my mother; but my
brother, his heart still hot within him at being expelled from his
nursery, instead of bowing, STOOD ON HIS HEAD IN HIS KILT, and remained
like that, an accomplishment of which he was very proud. The Queen was
exceedingly angry, so later in the day, upon my brother professing deep
penitence, he was taken back to make his apologies, when he did
precisely the same thing over again, and was consequently in disgrace
during the whole of the Royal visit. In strict confidence, I believe
that he would still do it to-day, more than seventy-two years later.

During her stay in my father's house the Queen quite unexpectedly
announced that she meant to give a dance. This put my mother in a great
difficulty, for my sisters had no proper clothes for a ball, and in
those pre-railway days it would have taken at least ten days to get
anything from Edinburgh or Glasgow. My mother had a sudden inspiration.
The muslin curtains in the drawing-room! The drawing-room curtains were
at once commandeered; the ladies'-maids set to work with a will, and I
believe that my sisters looked extremely well dressed in the curtains,
looped up with bunches of rowan or mountain-ash berries.

My mother was honoured with Queen Victoria's close friendship and
confidence for over fifty years. At the time of her death she had in
her possession a numerous collection of letters from the Queen, many of
them very long ones. By the express terms of my mother's will, those
letters will never be published. Many of them touch on exceedingly
private matters relating to the Royal family, others refer to various
political problems of the day. I have read all those letters carefully,
and I fully endorse my mother's views. She was honoured with the
confidence of her Sovereign, and that confidence cannot be betrayed.
The letters are in safe custody, and there they will remain. On reading
them it is impossible not to be struck with Queen Victoria's amazing
shrewdness, and with her unfailing common sense. It so happens that
both a brother and a sister of mine, the late Duchess of Buccleuch,
were brought into very close contact with Queen Victoria. It was this
quality of strong common sense in the Queen which continually impressed
them, as well as her very high standard of duty.

My brother George was twice Secretary of State for India. The Queen was
fond of suggesting amendments in the wording of dispatches relating to
India, whilst not altering their sense. My brother tells me that the
alterations suggested by the Queen were invariably in the direction of
simplification. The Queen had a knack of stripping away unnecessary
verbiage and reducing a sentence to its simplest form, in which its
meaning was unmistakably clear.

All Queen Victoria's tastes were simple. She liked simplicity in dress,
in food, and in her surroundings. If I may say so without disrespect, I
think that Queen Victoria's great hold on her people came from the fact
that, in spite of her high station, she had the ideals, the tastes, the
likes and dislikes of the average clean-living, clean-minded wife of
the average British professional man, together with the strict ideals
as to the sanctity of the marriage-tie, the strong sense of duty, and
the high moral standard such wives usually possess.

It is, of course, the easy fashion now to sneer at Victorian standards.
To my mind they embody all that is clean and sound in the nation. It
does not follow that because Victorians revelled in hideous wall-papers
and loved ugly furniture, that therefore their points-of-view were
mistaken ones. There are things more important than wall-papers. They
certainly liked the obvious in painting, in music, and perhaps in
literature, but it hardly seems to follow logically from that, that
their conceptions of a man's duty to his wife, family, and country were
necessarily false ones. They were not afflicted with the perpetual
modern restlessness, nor did they spend "their time in nothing else,
but either to tell, or to hear some new thing"; still, all their ideas
seem to me eminently sweet and wholesome.

In her old age my mother was the last person living who had seen George
III. She remembered perfectly seeing the old King, in one of his rare
lucid intervals, driving through London, when he was enthusiastically
cheered.

She was also the last person alive who had been at Carlton House which
was pulled down in 1826. My mother at the age of twelve danced as a
solo "The Spanish Shawl dance" before George IV. at the Pavilion,
Brighton. The King was so delighted with her dancing that he went up to
her and said, "You are a very pretty little girl, and you dance
charmingly. Now is there anything I can do for you?" The child
answered, "Yes, there is. Your Majesty can bring me some ham sandwiches
and a glass of port-wine negus, for I am very hungry," and to do George
IV. justice, he promptly brought them. My mother was painted by a
French artist doing her "shawl dance," and if it is a faithful
likeness, she must have been an extraordinarily pretty child. On
another occasion at a children's party at Carlton House, my uncle,
General Lord Alexander Russell, a very outspoken little boy, had been
warned by his mother, the Duchess of Bedford, that though the King wore
a palpable wig, he was to take no notice whatever of it. To my mother's
dismay, she heard her little brother go up to the King and say, "I know
that your Majesty wears a wig, but I've been told not to say anything
about it, so I promised not to tell any one."

Carlton House stood, from all I can learn, at the top of the Duke of
York's steps. Several engravings of its beautiful gardens are still to
be found. These gardens extended from the present Carlton House Terrace
to Pall Mall. Not only the Terrace, but the Carlton, Reform,
Travellers', Athenaeum, and United Service Clubs now stand on their
site. They were separated from Pall Mall by an open colonnade, and the
Corinthian pillars from the front of Carlton House were re-erected in
1834 as the portico of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.

As a child I had a wild adoration for Queen Alexandra (then, of course,
Princess of Wales), whom I thought the most beautiful person I had ever
seen in my life, and I dare say that I was not far wrong. When I was
taken to Marlborough House, I remembered and treasured up every single
word she said to me. I was not present at the child's tea-party at
Marlborough House given by the little Princess, including his present
Majesty, when SOME ONE (my loyalty absolutely refuses to let me say
who) suggested that as the woven flowers on the carpet looked rather
faded, it might be as well to water them. The boys present, including
the little Princes, gleefully emptied can after can of water on to the
floor in their attempts to revive the carpet, to the immense
improvement of the ceiling and furniture of the room underneath.

In the "sixties" Sunday was very strictly observed. In our own
Sabbatarian family, our toys and books all disappeared on Saturday
night. On Sundays we were only allowed to read Line upon Line, The Peep
of Day, and The Fairchild Family. I wonder if any one ever reads this
book now. If they haven't, they should. Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild were, I
regret to say it, self-righteous prigs of the deepest dye, whilst Lucy,
Emily, and Henry, their children, were all little prodigies of
precocious piety. It was a curious menage; Mr. Fairchild having no
apparent means of livelihood, and no recreations beyond perpetually
reading the Bible under a tree in the garden. Mrs. Fairchild had the
peculiar gift of being able to recite a different prayer off by heart
applicable to every conceivable emergency; whilst John, their
man-servant, was a real "handy-man," for he was not only gardener, but
looked after the horse and trap, cleaned out the pigsties, and waited
at table. One wonders in what sequence he performed his various duties,
but perhaps the Fairchilds had not sensitive noses. Even the possibly
odoriferous John had a marvellous collection of texts at his command.
It was refreshing after all this to learn that on one occasion all
three of the little Fairchilds got very drunk, which, as the eldest of
them was only ten, would seem to indicate that, in spite of their
aggressive piety, they had their fair dose of original sin still left
in them. I liked the book notwithstanding. There was plenty about
eating and drinking; one could always skip the prayers, and there were
three or four very brightly written accounts of funerals in it. I was
present at a "Fairchild Family" dinner given some twenty years ago in
London by Lady Buxton, wife of the present Governor-General of South
Africa, at which every one of the guests had to enact one of the
characters of the book.

My youngest brother had a great taste for drawing, and was perpetually
depicting terrific steeplechases. From a confusion of ideas natural to
a child, he always introduced a church steeple into the corner of his
drawings. One Sunday he had drawn a most spirited and hotly-contested
"finish" to a steeplechase. When remonstrated with on the ground that
it was not a "Sunday" subject, he pointed to the church steeple and
said, "You don't understand. This is Sunday, and those jockeys are all
racing to see which of them can get to church first," which strikes me
as a peculiarly ready and ingenious explanation for a child of six.

In London we all went on Sundays to the Scottish Presbyterian Church in
Crown Court, just opposite Drury Lane Theatre. Dr. Cumming, the
minister of the church at that time, enjoyed an immense reputation
amongst his congregation. He was a very eloquent man, but was
principally known as always prophesying the imminent end of the world.
He had been a little unfortunate in some of the dates he had predicted
for the final cataclysm, these dates having slipped by uneventfully
without anything whatever happening, but finally definitely fixed on a
date in 1867 as the exact date of the Great Catastrophe. His influence
with his flock rather diminished when it was found that Dr. Cumming had
renewed the lease of his house for twenty-one years, only two months
before the date he had fixed with absolute certainty as being the end
of all things. All the same, I am certain that he was thoroughly in
earnest and perfectly genuine in his convictions. As a child I thought
the church--since rebuilt--absolutely beautiful, but it was in reality
a great, gaunt, barn-like structure. It was always crammed. We were
very old-fashioned, for we sat down to sing, and we stood to pray, and
there was no instrument of any sort. The pew in front of us belonged to
Lord Aberdeen, and his brother Admiral Gordon, one of the Elders,
always sat in it with his high hat on, conversing at the top of his
voice until the minister entered, when he removed his hat and kept
silence. This was, I believe, intended as a protest against the idea of
there being any special sanctity attached to the building itself qua
building. Dr. Cumming had recently introduced an anthem, a new
departure rather dubiously welcomed by his flock. It was the singular
custom of his congregation to leave their pews during the singing of
this anthem and to move about in the aisles; whether as a protest
against a daring innovation, or merely to stretch their limbs, or to
seek better places, I could never make out.

Dr. Cumming invariably preached for over an hour, sometimes for an hour
and a half, and yet I never felt bored or wearied by his long
discourses, but really looked forward to them. This was because his
sermons, instead of consisting of a string of pious platitudes,
interspersed with trite ejaculations and irrelevant quotations, were
one long chain of closely-reasoned argument. Granted his first premiss,
his second point followed logically from it, and so he led his hearers
on point by point, all closely argued, to an indisputable conclusion. I
suppose that the inexorable logic of it all appealed to the Scottish
side of me. His preaching had the same fascination for me that Euclid's
propositions exercised later, even on my hopelessly unmathematical mind.

Whatever the weather, we invariably walked home from Drury Lane to
South Audley Street, a long trudge for young feet, as my mother had
scruples about using the carriages on Sundays.

Neither my father nor my mother ever dined out on a Sunday, nor did
they invite people to dinner on that day, for they wished as far as
possible to give those in their employment a day of rest. All quite
hopelessly Victorian! for, after all, why should people ever think of
anybody but themselves?

Dr. Cumming was a great bee-fancier, and a recognised authority on
bees. Calling one day on my mother, he brought with him four queen-bees
of a new breed, each one encased in a little paper bag. He prided
himself on his skill in handling bees, and proudly exhibited those
treasures to my mother. He replaced them in their paper bags, and being
a very absent-minded man, he slipped the bags into the tail pocket of
his clerical frock-coat. Soon after he began one of his long arguments
(probably fixing the exact date of the end of the world), and, totally
oblivious of the presence of the bees in his tail pocket, he leant
against the mantelpiece. The queen-bees, naturally resenting the
pressure, stung him through the cloth on that portion of his anatomy
immediately nearest to their temporary prison. Dr. Cumming yelled with
pain, and began skipping all round the room. It so tickled my fancy to
see the grim and austere minister, who towered above me in the pulpit
every Sunday, executing a sort of solo-Jazz dance up and down the big
room, punctuated with loud cries, that I rolled about on the floor with
laughter.

The London of the "sixties" was a very dark and dingy place. The
streets were sparingly lit with the dimmest of gas-jets set very far
apart: the shop-windows made no display of lights, and the general
effect was one of intense gloom.

Until I was seven years old, I had never left the United Kingdom. We
then all went to Paris for a fortnight, on our way to the Riviera. I
well remember leaving London at 7 a.m. on a January morning, in the
densest of fogs. So thick was the fog that the footman had to lead the
horses all the way to Charing Cross Station. Ten hours later I found
myself in a fairy city of clean white stone houses, literally blazing
with light. I had never imagined such a beautiful, attractive place,
and indeed the contrast between the dismal London of the "sixties" and
this brilliant, glittering town was unbelievable. Paris certainly
deserved the title of "La Ville Lumiere" in a literal sense. I like the
French expression, "une ville ruisselante de lumiere," "a city dripping
with light." That is an apt description of the Paris of the Second
Empire, for it was hardly a manufacturing city then, and the great rim
of outlying factories that now besmirch the white stone of its house
fronts had not come into existence, the atmosphere being as clear as in
the country. A naturally retentive memory is apt to store up perfectly
useless items of information. What possible object can there be to my
remembering that the engine which hauled us from Calais to Paris in
1865 was built by J. Cail of Paris, on the "Crampton" system; that is,
that the axle of the big single driving-wheels did not run under the
frame of the engine, but passed through the "cab" immediately under the
pressure-gauge?--nor can any useful purpose be served in recalling that
we crossed the Channel in the little steamer La France.

In those days people of a certain class in England maintained far
closer social relations with people of the corresponding class in
France than is the custom now, and this was mutual. Society in both
capitals was far smaller. My father and mother had many friends in
Paris, and amongst the oldest of them were the Comte and Comtesse de
Flahault. General de Flahault had been the personal aide-de-camp and
trusted friend of Napoleon I. Some people, indeed, declared that his
connection with Napoleon III. was of a far closer nature, for his great
friendship with Queen Hortense was a matter of common knowledge. For
some reason or another the old General took a fancy to me, and finding
that I could talk French fluently, he used to take me to his room,
stuff me with chocolate, and tell me about Napoleon's Russian campaign
in 1812, in which he had taken part, I was then seven years old, and
the old Comte must have been seventy-eight or so, but it is curious
that I should have heard from the actual lips of a man who had taken
part in it, the account of the battle of Borodino, of the entry of the
French troops into Moscow, of the burning of Moscow, and of the awful
sufferings the French underwent during their disastrous retreat from
Moscow. General de Flahault had been present at the terrible carnage of
the crossing of the Beresina on November 26, 1812, and had got both his
feet frost-bitten there, whilst his faithful servant David had died
from the effects of the cold. I wish that I could have been older then,
or have had more historical knowledge, for it was a unique opportunity
for acquiring information. I wish, too, that I could recall more of
what M. de Flahault told me. I have quite vivid recollections of the
old General himself, of the room in which we sat, and especially of the
chocolates which formed so agreeable an accompaniment to our
conversations. Still it remains an interesting link with the Napoleonic
era. This is 1920; that was 1812!

I can never hear Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" without thinking of
General de Flahault. The present Lord Lansdowne is the Comte de
Flahault's grandson.

Nearly fifty years later another interesting link with the past was
forged. I was dining with Prince and Princess Christian of
Schleswig-Holstein at Schomberg House. When the ladies left the room
after dinner, H. R. H. was good enough to ask me to sit next him. Some
train of thought was at work in the Prince's mind, for he suddenly
said, "Do you know that you are sitting next a man who once took
Napoleon I.'s widow, the Empress Marie Louise, in to dinner?" and the
Prince went on to say that as a youth of seventeen he had accompanied
his father on a visit to the Emperor of Austria at Schonbrunn. On the
occasion of a state dinner, one of the Austrian Archdukes became
suddenly indisposed. Sooner than upset all the arrangements, the young
Prince of Schleswig-Holstein was given the ex-Empress to lead in to
dinner.

I must again repeat that this is 1920. Napoleon married Marie Louise in
1810.

Both my younger brother and I were absolutely fascinated by Paris, its
streets and public gardens. As regards myself, something of the glamour
of those days still remains; Paris is not quite to me as other towns,
and I love its peculiar smell, which a discriminating nose would
analyse as one-half wood-smoke, one-quarter roasting coffee, and
one-quarter drains. During the eighteen years of the Second Empire,
Paris reached a height of material prosperity and of dazzling
brilliance which she has never known before nor since. The undisputed
social capital of Europe, the equally undisputed capital of literature
and art, the great pleasure-city of the world, she stood alone and
without a rival. "La Ville Lumiere!" My mother remembered the Paris of
her youth as a place of tortuous, abominably paved, dimly lit streets,
poisoned with atrocious smells; this glittering town of palaces and
broad white avenues was mainly the creation of Napoleon III. himself,
aided by Baron Georges Haussmann and the engineer Adolphe Alphand, who
between them evolved and made the splendid Paris that we know.

We loved the Tuileries gardens, a most attractive place for children in
those days. There were swings and merry-go-rounds; there were stalls
where hot brioches and gaufres were to be bought; there were, above
all, little marionette theatres where the most fascinating dramas were
enacted. Our enjoyment of these performances was rather marred by our
anxious nurse, who was always terrified lest there should be "something
French" in the little plays; something quite unfitted for the eyes and
ears of two staid little Britons. As the worthy woman was a most
indifferent French scholar, we were often hurried away quite
unnecessarily from the most innocuous performances when our faithful
watch-dog scented the approach of "something French." All the shops
attracted us, but especially the delightful toy-shops. Here, again, we
were seldom allowed to linger, our trusty guardian being obsessed with
the idea that the toy-shops might include amongst their wares
"something French." She was perfectly right; there WAS often something
"very French," but my brother and I had always seen it and noted it
before we were moved off from the windows.

I wonder if any "marchands de coco" still survive in Paris. "Coco" had
nothing to do with cocoa, but was a most mawkish beverage compounded
principally of liquorice and water. The attraction about it lay in the
great tank the vendor carried strapped to his back. This tank was
covered with red velvet and gold tinsel, and was surmounted with a
number of little tinkling silver bells. In addition to that, the
"marchand de coco" carried all over him dozens of silver goblets, or,
at all events, goblets that looked like silver, in which he handed out
his insipid brew. Who would not long to drink out of a silver cup a
beverage that flowed out of a red and gold tank, covered with little
silver bells, be it never so mawkish?

The gardens of the Luxembourg were, if anything, even more attractive
than the Tuileries gardens.

Another delightful place for children was the Hippodrome, long since
demolished and built over. It was a huge open-air stadium, where, in
addition to ordinary circus performances, there were chariot-races and
gladiatorial combats. The great attraction of the Hippodrome was that
all the performers were driven into the arena in a real little
Cinderella gilt coach, complete with four little ponies, a diminutive
coachman, and two tiny little footmen.

Talking of Cinderella, I always wonder that no one has pointed out the
curious mistake the original translator of this story fell into. If any
one will take the trouble to consult Perrault's Cendrillon in the
original French, he or she will find that Cinderella went to the ball
with her feet encased in "des pantoufles de vair." Now, vair means grey
or white fur, ermine or miniver. The word is now obsolete, though it
still survives in heraldry. The translator, misled by the similarity of
sound between "vair" and "verre," rendered it "glass" instead of
"ermine," and Cinderella's glass slippers have become a British
tradition. What would "Cinderella" be as a pantomime without the scene
where she triumphantly puts on her glass slipper? And yet, a little
reflection would show that it would be about as easy to dance in a pair
of glass slippers as it would in a pair of fisherman's waders.

I remember well seeing Napoleon III. and the Empress Eugenie driving
down the Rue de Rivoli on their return from the races at Longchamp. I
and my brother were standing close to the edge of the pavement, and
they passed within a few feet of us. They were driving in a
char-a-banes--in French parlance, "attele a la Daumont"--that is, with
four horses, of which the wheelers are driven from the box by a
coachman, and the leaders ridden by a postilion. The Emperor and
Empress were attended by an escort of mounted Cent-Gardes, and over the
carriage there was a curious awning of light blue silk, with a heavy
gold fringe, probably to shield the occupants from the sun at the
races. I thought the Emperor looked very old and tired, but the Empress
was still radiantly beautiful. My young brother, even then a bigoted
little patriot, obstinately refused to take off his cap. "He isn't MY
Emperor," he kept repeating, "and I won't do it." The shrill cries of
"Vive l'Empereur!" seemed to me a very inadequate substitute for the
full-throated cheers with which our own Queen was received when she
drove through London. I used to hear the Emperor alluded to as
"Badinguet" by the hall-porter of our hotel, who was a Royalist, and
consequently detested the Bonapartes.

My father had been on very friendly terms with Napoleon III., then
Prince Louis Napoleon, during the period of his exile in London in
1838, when he lived in King Street, St. James'. Prince Louis Napoleon
acted as my father's "Esquire" at the famous Eglinton Tournament in
August, 1839. The tournament, over which such a vast amount of trouble
and expense had been lavished, was ruined by an incessant downpour of
rain, which lasted four days. My father gave me as a boy the "Challenge
Shield" with coat of arms, which hung outside his tent at the
tournament, and that shield has always accompanied me in my wanderings.
It hangs within a few feet of me as I write, as it hung forty-three
years ago in my room in Berlin, and later in Petrograd, Lisbon, and
Buenos Ayres.

One of the great sights of Paris in the "sixties," whilst it was still
gas-lighted, was the "cordon de lumiere de la Rue de Rivoli." As every
one knows, the Rue de Rivoli is nearly two miles long, and runs
perfectly straight, being arcaded throughout its length. In every arch
of the arcades there hung then a gas lamp. At night the continuous
ribbon of flame from these lamps, stretching in endless vista down the
street, was a fascinatingly beautiful sight. Every French provincial
who visited Paris was expected to admire the "cordon de lumiere de la
Rue de Rivoli." Now that electricity has replaced gas, I fancy that the
lamps are placed further apart, and so the effect of a continuous
quivering band of yellow flame is lost. Equally every French provincial
had to admire the "luxe de gaz" of the Place de la Concorde. It
certainly blazed with gas, but now with electric arc-lamps there is
double the light with less than a tenth of the number of old flickering
gas-lamps; another example of quality vs. quantity.

Most of my father and mother's French friends lived in the Faubourg
Saint Germain. Their houses, though no doubt very fine for
entertaining, were dark and gloomy in the daytime. Our little friends
of my own age seemed all to inhabit dim rooms looking into courtyards,
where, however, we were bidden to unbelievably succulent repasts, very
different to the plain fare to which we were accustomed at home. Both
my brother and myself were, I think, unconscious as to whether we were
speaking English or French; we could express ourselves with equal
facility in either language. When I first went to school, I could speak
French as well as English, and it is a wonderful tribute to the
efficient methods of teaching foreign languages practised in our
English schools, that at the end of nine years of French lessons, both
at a preparatory school and at Harrow, I had not forgotten much more
than seventy-five per cent. of the French I knew when I went there. In
the same way, after learning German at Harrow for two-and-a-half years,
my linguistic attainments in that language were limited to two words,
ja and nein. It is true that, for some mysterious reason, German was
taught us at Harrow by a Frenchman who had merely a bowing
acquaintanceship with the tongue.

In 1865 the fastest train from Paris to the Riviera took twenty-six
hours to accomplish the journey, and then was limited to first-class
passengers. There were, of course, neither dining-cars nor sleeping
cars, no heating, and no toilet accommodation. Eight people were jammed
into a first-class compartment, faintly lit by the dim flicker of an
oil-lamp, and there they remained. I remember that all the French
ladies took off their bonnets or hats, and replaced them with thick
knitted woollen hoods and capes combined, which they fastened tightly
round their heads. They also drew on knitted woollen over-boots; these,
I suppose, were remnants of the times, not very far distant then, when
all-night journeys had frequently to be made in the diligence.

The Riviera of 1865 was not the garish, flamboyant rendezvous of
cosmopolitan finance, of ostentatious newly acquired wealth, and of
highly decorative ladies which it has since become. Cannes, in
particular, was a quiet little place of surpassing beauty, frequented
by a few French and English people, most of whom were there on account
of some delicate member of their families. We went there solely because
my sister, Lady Mount Edgcumbe, had already been attacked by
lung-disease, and to prolong her life it was absolutely necessary for
her to winter in a warm climate. Lord Brougham, the ex-Lord Chancellor,
had virtually created Cannes, as far as English people were concerned,
and the few hotels there were still unpretentious and comfortable.

Amongst the French boys of our own age with whom we played daily was
Antoine de Mores, eldest son of the Duc de Vallombrosa. Later on in
life the Marquis de Mores became a fanatical Anglophobe, and he lost
his life leading an army of irregular Arab cavalry against the British
forces in the Sudan; murdered, if I remember rightly, by his own men.
Most regretfully do I attribute Antoine de Mores' violent Anglophobia
to the very rude things I and my brother were in the habit of saying to
him when we quarrelled, which happened on an average about four times a
day.

The favourite game of these French boys was something like our "King of
the Castle," only that the victor had to plant his flag on the summit
of the "Castle." Amongst our young friends were the two sons of the Duc
Des Cars, a strong Legitimist, the Vallombrosa boy's family being
Bonapartists. So whilst my brother and I naturally carried "Union
Jacks," young Antoine de Mores had a tricolour, but the two Des Cars
boys carried white silk flags, with a microscopic border of blue and
red ribbon running down either side. One day, as boys will do, we
marched through the town in procession with our flags, when the police
stopped us and seized the young Des Cars' white banners, the display of
the white flag of the Bourbons being then strictly forbidden in France.
The Des Cars boys' abbe, or priest-tutor, pointed out to the police the
narrow edging of red and blue on either side, and insisted on it that
the flags were really tricolours, though the proportion in which the
colours were displayed might be an unusual one. The three colours were
undoubtedly there, so the police released the flags, though I feel sure
that that abbe must have been a Jesuit.

The Comte de Chambord (the Henri V. of the Legitimists) was virtually
offered the throne of France in either 1874 or 1875, but all the
negotiations failed because he obstinately refused to recognise the
Tricolour, and insisted upon retaining the white flag of his ancestors.
Any one with the smallest knowledge of the psychology of the French
nation must have known that under no circumstances whatever would they
consent to abandon their adored Tricolour. The Tricolour is part of
themselves: it is a part of their very souls; it is more than a flag,
it is almost a religion. I wonder that in 1875 it never occurred to any
one to suggest to the Comte de Chambord the ingenious expedient of the
Des Cars boys. The Tricolour would be retained as the national flag,
but the King could have as his personal standard a white flag bordered
with almost invisible bands of blue and red. Technically, it would
still be a tricolour, and on the white expanse the golden fleur-de-lys
of the Bourbons could be embroidered, or any other device.

Even had the Comte de Chambord ascended the throne, I am convinced that
his tenure of it as Henri V. would have been a very brief one, given
the temperament of the French nation.

My youngest brother managed to contract typhoid fever at Cannes about
this time, and during his convalescence he was moved to an hotel
standing on much higher ground than our villa, on account of the
fresher air there. A Madame Goldschmidt was staying at this hotel, and
she took a great fancy to the little fellow, then about six years old.
On two occasions I found Madame Goldschmidt in my brother's room,
singing to him in a voice as sweet and spontaneous as a bird's. My
brother was a very highly favoured little mortal, for Madame
Goldschmidt was no other than the world-famous Jenny Lind, the
incomparable songstress who had had all Europe at her feet. She had
then retired from the stage for some years, but her voice was as sweet
as ever. The nineteenth century was fortunate in having produced two
such peerless singers as Adelina Patti and Jenny Lind, "the Swedish
Nightingale." The present generation are not likely to hear their
equals. Both these great singers had that same curious bird-like
quality in their voices; they sang without any effort in crystal-clear
tones, as larks sing.

In 1865 it was announced that there would be a great regatta at Cannes
in the spring of 1866, and that the Emperor Napoleon would give a
special prize for the open rowing (not sculling) championship of the
Mediterranean. We further learnt that the whole of the French
Mediterranean fleet would be at Villefranche at the time, and that
picked oarsmen from the fleet would compete for the championship. My
father at once determined to win this prize; the idea became a perfect
obsession with him, and he determined to have a special boat built.
When we returned to England, he went to Oxford and entered into long
consultations with a famous boat-builder there. The boat, a four-oar,
had to be built on special lines. She must be light and fast, yet
capable of withstanding a heavy sea, for off Cannes the Mediterranean
can be very lumpy indeed, and it would be obviously inconvenient to
have the boat swamped, and her crew all drowned. The boat-builder
having mastered the conditions, felt certain that he could turn out the
craft required, which my father proposed to stroke himself.

When we returned to Cannes in 1866, the completed boat was sent out by
sea, and we saw her released from her casing with immense interest. She
was christened in due form, with a bottle of champagne, by our first
cousin, the venerable Lady de Ros, and named the Abercorn. Lady de Ros
was a daughter of the Duke of Richmond, and had been present at the
famous ball in Brussels on the eve of Waterloo in 1815; a ball given by
her father in honour of her youngest sister.

The crew then went into serious training. Bow was Sir David Erskine,
for many years Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons; No. 2, my
brother-in-law, Lord Mount Edgcumbe; No. 3, General Sir George
Higginson, with my father as stroke. Lord Elphinstone, who had been in
the Navy early in life, officiated as coxswain. But my father was then
fifty-five years old, and he soon found out that his heart was no
longer equal to the strain to which so long and so very arduous a
course (three miles), in rough water, would subject it. As soon as he
realised that his age might militate against the chance of his crew
winning, he resigned his place in the boat in favour of Sir George
Higginson, who was replaced as No. 3 by Mr. Meysey-Clive. My father
took Lord Elphinstone's place as coxswain, but here, again, his weight
told against him. He was over six feet high and proportionately broad,
and he brought the boat's stern too low down in the water, so Lord
Elphinstone was re-installed, and my father most reluctantly had to
content himself with the role of a spectator, in view of his age. The
crew dieted strictly, ran in the mornings, and went to bed early. They
were none of them in their first youth, for Sir George Higginson was
then forty; Sir David Erskine was twenty-eight; my brother-in-law, Lord
Mount Edgcumbe, thirty-four; and Lord Elphinstone thirty-eight.

The great day of the race arrived. We met with one signal piece of
ill-luck. Our No. 3, Mr. Meysey-Clive, had gone on board the French
flagship, and was unable to get ashore again in time, so at the very
last minute a young Oxford rowing-man, the late Mr. Philip Green,
volunteered to replace him, though he was not then in training. The
French men-of-war produced huge thirty-oared galleys, with two men at
each oar. There were also smaller twenty and twelve-oared boats, but
not a single "four" but ours. The sea was heavy and lumpy, the course
was five kilometres (three miles), and there was a fresh breeze blowing
off the land. Our little mahogany Oxford-built boat, lying very low in
the water, looked pitiably small beside the great French galleys. It
wasn't even David and Goliath, it was as though "Little Tich" stood up
to Georges Carpentier. We saw the race from a sailing yacht; my father
absolutely beside himself with excitement.

Off they went! The French galleys lumbering along at a great pace,
their crews pulling a curiously short stroke, and their coxswains
yelling "En avant, mes braves!" with all the strength of their lungs.
It must have been very like the boat-race Virgil describes in the fifth
book of the Aeneid. There was the "huge Chimaera" the "mighty Centaur"
and possibly even the "dark-blue Scylla" with their modern counterparts
of Gyas, Sergestus, and Cloanthus, bawling just as lustily as doubtless
those coxswains of old shouted; no one, however, struck on the rocks,
as we are told the unfortunate "Centaur" did. Still the little
mahogany-built Abercorn continued to forge ahead of her unwieldy French
competitors. The Frenchmen splashed and spurted nobly, but the little
Oxford-built boat increased her lead, her silken "Union Jack" trailing
in the water. All the muscles of the French fleet came into play; the
admiral's barge churned the water into creaming foam; "mes braves" were
incited to superhuman exertions; in spite of it all, the Abercorn shot
past the mark-boat, a winner by a length and a half.

My father was absolutely frantic with delight. We reached the shore
long before our crew did, for they had to return to receive the judge's
formal award. He ceremoniously decorated our boat's bows with a large
laurel-wreath, and so--her stem adorned with laurels, and the large
silk "Union Jack" trailing over her stern--the little mahogany
Oxford-built boat paddled through the lines of her French competitors.
I am sorry to have to record that the French took their defeat in a
most unsportsmanlike fashion; the little Abercorn was received all down
the line with storms of hoots and hisses. Possibly we, too, might feel
annoyed if, say at Portsmouth, in a regatta in which all the crack
oarsmen of the British Home Fleet were competing, a French four should
suddenly appear from nowhere, and walk off with the big prize of the
day. Still, the conditions of the Cannes regatta were clear; this was
an open race, open to any nationality, and to any rowing craft of any
size or build, though the result was thought a foregone certainty for
the French naval crews.

Our crew were terribly exhausted when they landed. They had had a very
very severe pull, in a heavy sea, and with a strong head-wind against
them, and most of them were no longer young; still, after a bath and a
change of clothing, and, quite possibly, a brandy-and-soda or two
(nobody ever drank whisky in the "sixties"), they pulled themselves
together again. It was Lord Mount Edgcumbe who first suggested that as
there was an afternoon dance that day at the Cercle Nautique de la
Mediterranee, they should all adjourn to the club and dance vigorously,
just to show what sturdy, hard-bitten dogs they were, to whom a
strenuous three-mile pull in a heavy sea was a mere trifle, even though
some of them were forty years old. So off we all went to the Cercle,
and I well remember seeing my brother-in-law and Sir George Higginson
gyrating wildly and ceaselessly round the ball-room, tired out though
they were. Between ourselves, our French friends were immensely
impressed with this exhibition of British vigour, and almost forgave
our boat for having won the rowing championship of the Mediterranean.

At the Villa Beaulieu where we lived, there were immense rejoicings
that night. Of course all our crew dined there, and I was allowed to
come down to dinner myself. Toasts were proposed; healths were drunk
again and again. Speeches were made, and the terrific cheering must
have seriously weakened the rafters and roof of the house. No one
grudged my father his immense satisfaction, for after all he had
originated the idea of winning the championship of the Mediterranean,
and had had the boat built at his sole expense, and it was not his
defects as an oarsman but his fifty-five years which had prevented him
from stroking his own boat.

Long after I had been sent to bed, I heard the uproar from below
continuing, and, in the strictest confidence, I have every reason to
believe that they made a real night of it.

Two of that crew are still alive. Gallant old Sir George Higginson was
born in 1826, consequently the General is now ninety-four years of age.
The splendid old veteran's mental faculties are as acute as ever; he is
not afflicted with deafness and he is still upright as a dart, though
his eyesight has failed him. It is to Sir George and to Sir David
Erskine that I am indebted for the greater portion of the details
concerning this boat-race of 1866, and of its preliminaries, for many
of these would not have come within the scope of my knowledge at nine
years of age.

Sir David Erskine, the other member of the crew still surviving,
ex-Sergeant-at-Arms, was a most familiar, respected, and greatly
esteemed personality to all those who have sat in the House of Commons
during the last forty years. I might perhaps have put it more strongly;
for he was invariably courteous, and such a great gentleman. Sir David
was born in 1838, consequently he is now eighty-two years old.

One of my brothers has still in his keeping a very large gold medal.
One side of it bears the effigy of "Napoleon III., Empereur des
Francais." The other side testifies that it is the "Premier Prix
d'Avirons de la Mediterrannee, 1866." The ugly hybrid word
"Championnat" for "Championship" had not then been acclimatised in
France.

Shortly after the boat-race, being now nine years old, I went home to
England to go to school.



CHAPTER III


A new departure--A Dublin hotel in the "sixties"--The Irish mail
service--The wonderful old paddle mail-boats--The convivial waiters of
the Munster--The Viceregal Lodge-Indians and pirates--The imagination
of youth--A modest personal ambition--Death-warrants; imaginary and
real--The Fenian outbreak of 1866-7--The Abergele railway accident--A
Dublin Drawing-Room--Strictly private ceremonials--Some of the
amenities of the Chapel Royal--An unbidden spectator of the State
dinners--Irish wit--Judge Keogh--Father Healy--Happy Dublin knack of
nomenclature--An unexpected honour and its cause--Incidents of the
Fenian rising--Dr. Hatchell--A novel prescription--Visit of King
Edward--Gorgeous ceremonial but a chilly drive--An anecdote of Queen
Alexandra.


Upon returning from school for my first holidays, I learnt that my
father had been appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, and that we were
in consequence to live now for the greater portion of the year in
Dublin.

We were all a little doubtful as to how we should like this new
departure. Dublin was, of course, fairly familiar to us from our stays
there, when we travelled to and from the north of Ireland. Some of the
minor customs of the "sixties" seem so remote now that it may be worth
while recalling them. In common with most Ulster people, we always
stayed at the Bilton Hotel in Dublin, a fine old Georgian house in
Sackville Street. Everything at the Bilton was old, solid, heavy, and
eminently respectable. All the plate was of real Georgian silver, and
all the furniture in the big gloomy bedrooms was of solid, not
veneered, mahogany. Quite invariably my father was received in the
hall, on arrival, by the landlord, with a silver candlestick in his
hand. The landlord then proceeded ceremoniously to "light us upstairs"
to a sitting-room on the first floor, although the staircase was bright
with gas. This was a survival from the eighteenth century, when
staircases and passages in inns were but dimly lit; but it was an
attention that was expected. In the same way, when dinner was ready in
our sitting-room, the landlord always brought in the silver soup-tureen
with his own hands, placed it ceremoniously before my father, and
removed the cover with a great flourish; after which he retired, and
left the rest to the waiter. This was another traditional attention.

Towards the end of dinner it became my father's turn to repay these
civilities. Though he himself very rarely touched wine, he would look
down the wine-list until he found a peculiarly expensive port. This he
would order for what was then termed "the good of the house." When this
choice product of the Bilton bins made its appearance, wreathed in
cobwebs, in a wicker cradle, my father would send the waiter with a
message to the landlord, "My compliments to Mr. Massingberg, and will
he do me the favour of drinking a glass of wine with me." So the
landlord would reappear, and, sitting down opposite my father, they
would solemnly dispose of the port, and let us trust that it never gave
either of them the faintest twinge of gout. These little mutual
attentions were then expected on both sides. Neither my father nor
mother ever used the word "hotel" in speaking of any hostelry in the
United Kingdom. Like all their contemporaries, they always spoke of an
"inn."

In 1860 a new contract had been signed with the Post Office by the
London and North-Western Railway and the City of Dublin Steam-Packet
Co., by which they jointly undertook to convey the mails between London
and Dublin in eleven hours. Up to 1860, the time occupied by the
journey was from fourteen to sixteen hours. Everything in this world
being relative, this was rapidity itself compared to the five days my
uncle, Lord John Russell, the future Prime Minister, spent on the
journey in 1806. He was then a schoolboy at Westminster, his father,
the sixth Duke of Bedford, being Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. My uncle,
who kept a diary from his earliest days, gives an account of this
journey in it. He spent three days going by stage-coach to Holyhead,
sleeping on the way at Coventry and Chester, and thirty-eight hours
crossing the Channel in a sailing-packet. The wind shifting, the packet
had to land her passengers at Balbriggan, twenty-one miles north of
Dublin, from which my uncle took a special post-chaise to Dublin,
presenting his glad parents, on his arrival, with a bill for L31 16s.,
a nice fare for a boy of fourteen to pay for going home for his
holidays!

In order to fulfil the terms of the 1860 contract, the mail-trains had
to cover the 264 miles between London and Holyhead at an average rate
of 42 miles per hour; an unprecedented speed in those days. People then
thought themselves most heroic in entrusting their lives to a train
that travelled with such terrific velocity as the "Wild Irishman." It
was to meet this acceleration that Mr. Ramsbottom, the Locomotive
Superintendent of the London and North-Western Railway, devised a
scheme for laying water-troughs between the rails, by which the engine
could pick up water through a scoop whilst running. I have somewhere
seen this claimed as an American innovation, but the North-Western
engines have been picking up water daily now ever since 1861; nearly
sixty years ago.

The greatest improvement, however, was effected in the cross-Channel
passage. To accomplish the sixty-five miles between Holyhead and
Kingstown in the contract time of four hours, the City of Dublin Co.
built four paddle-vessels, far exceeding any cross-Channel steamer then
afloat in tonnage, speed and accommodation. They were over three
hundred feet in length, of two thousand tons burden, and had a speed of
fifteen knots. Of these the Munster, Connaught, and Ulster were built
by Laird of Birkenhead, while the Leinster was built in London by
Samuda. These boats were most elaborately and comfortably fitted up,
and many people of my age, who were in the habit of travelling
constantly to Ireland, retain a feeling of almost personal affection
for those old paddle-wheel mailboats which carried them so often in
safety across St. George's Channel. It is possible that this feeling
may be stronger in those who, like myself, are unaffected by
sea-sickness. I think that we all took a pride in the finest Channel
steamers then afloat, and, as a child, I was always conscious of a
little added dignity and an extra ray of reflected glory when crossing
in the Leinster or the Connaught, for they had four funnels each. I
think that I am correct in saying that these splendid seaboats never
missed one single passage, whatever the weather, for nearly forty
years, until they were superseded by the present three thousand tons,
twenty-four knot twin-screw boats. The old paddle-wheelers were
rejuvenated in 1883, when they were fitted with forced draught, and
their paddles were submerged deeper, giving them an extra speed of two
knots. Their engines being "simple," they consumed a perfectly ruinous
amount of coal, sixty-four tons for the round trip; considerably more
than the coal consumption of the present twenty-four knotters.

In the "sixties" a new Lord-Lieutenant crossed in a special
mail-steamer, for which he had the privilege of paying.

When my father went over to be sworn-in, we arrived at Holyhead in the
evening, and on going on board the special steamer Munster, we found a
sumptuous supper awaiting us.

There is an incident connected with that supper of which, of course, I
knew nothing at the time, but which was told me more than thirty years
after by Mrs. Campbell, the comely septuagenarian head-stewardess of
the Munster, who had been in the ship for forty-four years. Most
habitual travelers to Ireland will cherish very kindly recollections of
genial old Mrs. Campbell, with her wonderfully fresh complexion and her
inexhaustible fund of stories.

It appears that the supper had been supplied by a firm of Dublin
caterers, who sent four of their own waiters with it, much to the
indignation of the steward's staff, who resented this as a slight on
their professional abilities.

Mrs. Campbell told me the story in some such words as these:

"About ten minutes before your father, the new Lord-Lieutenant, was
expected, the chiefs-steward put his head into the ladies' cabin and
called out to me, 'Mrs. Campbell, ma'am! For the love of God come into
the saloon this minute.' 'What is it, then, Mr. Murphy?' says I. 'Wait
till ye see,' says he. So I go into the saloon where there was the
table set out for supper, so grand that ye wouldn't believe it, and
them four Dublin waiters was all lying dead-drunk on the saloon floor.

"'I put out the spirit decanters on the supper-table,' says Mr. Murphy,
'and see! Them Dublin waiters have every drop of it drunk on me,' he
goes on, showing me the empty decanters. 'They have three bottles of
champagne drunk on me besides. What will we do with them now? The new
Lord Lieutenant may be arriving this minute, and we have no time to
move the drunk waiters for'ard. Will we put them in the little
side-cabins here?' 'Ah then!' says I, 'and have them roaring and
shouting, and knocking the place down maybe in half an hour or so? I'm
surprised at ye, Mr. Murphy. We'll put the drunk waiters under the
saloon table, and you must get another table-cloth. We'll pull it down
on both sides, the way the feet of them will not show." So I call up
two stewards and the boys from the pantry, and we get the drunk waiters
arranged as neat as herrings in a barrel under the saloon table. Mr.
Murphy and I put on the second cloth, pulling it right down to the
floor, and ye wouldn't believe the way we worked, setting out the
dishes, and the flowers and the swatemates on the table. 'Now,' says I,
'for the love of God let none of them sit down at the table, or they'll
feel the waiters with their feet. Lave it to me to get His Excellency
out of this, and then hurry the drunk waiters away!' And I spoke a word
to the boys in the pantry. 'Boys,' says I, 'as ye value your salvation,
keep up a great clatteration here by dropping the spoons and forks
about, the way they'll not hear it if the drunk waiters get snoring,'
and then the thrain arrives, and we run up to meet His Excellency your
father.

"We went down to the saloon for a moment, and every one says that they
never saw the like of that for a supper, the boys in the pantry keeping
up such a clatteration by tumbling the spoons and forks about, that
ye'd think the bottom of the ship would drop out with the noise of it
all. Then I said, 'Supper will not be ready for ten minutes, your
Excellency'--though God forgive me if every bit of it was not on the
table that minute. 'Would you kindly see if the sleeping accommodation
is commodious enough, for we'll alter it if it isn't?' and so I get
them all out of that, and I kept talking of this, and of that, the Lord
only knows what, till Mr. Murphy comes up and says, 'Supper is ready,
your Excellency,' giving me a look out of the tail of his eye as much
as to say, 'Glory be! We have them drunk waiters safely out of that.'"

Of course I knew nothing of the convivial waiters, but I retain vivid
recollections of the splendours of the supper-table, and of the
"swatemates," for I managed to purloin a whole pocketful of preserved
ginger and other good things from it, without being noticed.

We arrived at Kingstown in the early morning, and anchored in the
harbour, but, by a polite fiction, the Munster was supposed to be
absolutely invisible to ordinary eyes, for the new Lord-Lieutenant's
official time of arrival from England was 11 a.m. Accordingly, every
one being arrayed in their very best for the State entry into Dublin,
the Munster got up steam and crept out of the harbour (still, of
course, completely invisible), to cruise about a little, and to
re-enter the harbour (obviously direct from England) amidst the booming
of twenty-one guns from the guardship, a vast display of bunting, and a
tornado of cheering.

Unfortunately, it had come on to blow; there was a very heavy sea
outside, and the Munster had an unrivalled opportunity for showing off
her agility, and of exhibiting her unusual capacity for pitching and
rolling. My youngest brother and I have never been affected by
sea-sickness; the ladies, however, had a very unpleasing half-hour,
though it must be rather a novel and amusing experience to succumb to
this malady when arrayed in the very latest creations of a Paris
dressmaker and milliner; still I fear that neither my mother nor my
sisters can have been looking quite their best when we landed amidst an
incredible din of guns, whistles and cheering.

My father, as was the custom then, made his entry into Dublin on
horseback. Since he had to keep his right hand free to remove his hat
every minute or so, in acknowledgment of his welcome, and as his horse
got alarmed by the noise, the cheering, and the waving of flags, he
managed to give a very pretty exhibition of horsemanship.

By the way, Irish cheering is a thing sui generis. In place of the
deep-throated, reverberating English cheer, it is a long, shrill,
sustained note, usually very high-pitched.

The State entry into Dublin was naturally the first occasion on which I
had ever driven through streets lined with soldiers and gay with
bunting. If I remember right, I accepted most of it as a tribute to my
own small person.

On arriving at the Viceregal Lodge in the Phoenix Park, my brother and
I were much relieved at finding that we were not expected to live
perpetually surrounded by men in full uniform and by ladies in smart
dresses, as we had gathered that we were fated to do during the
morning's ceremonies at Dublin Castle.

The Viceregal Lodge is a large, unpretentious, but most comfortable
house, standing in really beautiful grounds. The 160 acres of its
enclosure have been laid out with such skill as to appear to the eye
double or treble the extent they actually are. The great attraction to
my brother and me lay in a tract of some ten acres of woodland which
had been allowed to run entirely wild. We soon peopled this very
satisfactorily with two tribes of Red Indians, two bands of peculiarly
bloodthirsty robbers, a sufficiency of bears, lions and tigers, and an
appalling man-eating dragon. I fear that in view of the size of the
little wood, these imported inhabitants must have had rather cramped
quarters.

The enacting of the role of a Red Indian "brave" was necessarily a
little fatiguing, for according to Fenimore Cooper, our guide in these
matters, it was essential to keep up an uninterrupted series of
guttural grunts of "Ug! Ug!" the invariable manner in which his
"braves" prefaced their remarks.

There was perhaps little need for the imaginary menagerie, for the
Dublin Zoological Gardens adjoined the "Lodge" grounds, and were
accessible to us at any time with a private key. The Dublin Zoo had
always been very successful in breeding lions, and derived a large
amount of their income from the sale of the cubs. They consequently
kept a number of lions, and the roaring of these lions at night was
very audible at the Viceregal Lodge, only a quarter of a mile away.
When I told the boys at school, with perfect truth, that in Dublin I
was nightly lulled to sleep by the gentle roaring of lions round my
couch, I was called a young liar.

There is a pretty lake inside the Viceregal grounds. My two elder
brothers were certain that they had seen wild duck on this lake in the
early morning, so getting up in the dusk of a December morning, they
crept down to the lake with their guns. With the first gleam of dawn,
they saw that there were plenty of wild fowl on the water, and they
succeeded in shooting three or four of them. When daylight came, they
retrieved them with a boat, but were dismayed at finding that these
birds were neither mallards, nor porchards, nor any known form of
British duck; their colouring, too, seemed strangely brilliant. Then
they remembered the neighbouring Zoo, with its ornamental ponds covered
with rare imported and exotic waterfowl, and they realised what they
had done. It is quite possible that they had killed some unique
specimens, imported at fabulous cost from Central Africa, or from the
heart of the Australian continent, some priceless bird that was the
apple of the eye of the Curator of the Gardens, so we buried the
episode and the birds, in profound secrecy.

For my younger brother and myself, this lake had a different
attraction, for, improbable as it may seem, it was the haunt of a gang
of most abandoned pirates. Behind a wooded island, but quite invisible
to the adult eye, the pirate craft lay, conforming in the most orthodox
fashion to the descriptions in Ballantyne's books: "a schooner with a
long, low black hull, and a suspicious rake to her masts. The copper on
her bottom had been burnished till it looked like gold, and the black
flag, with the skull and cross-bones, drooped lazily from her peak."

The presence of this band of desperadoes entailed the utmost caution
and watchfulness in the neighbourhood of the lake. Unfortunately, we
nearly succeeded in drowning some young friends of ours, whom we
persuaded to accompany us in an attack on the pirates' stronghold. We
embarked on a raft used for cutting weeds, but no sooner had we shoved
off than the raft at once, most inconsiderately, sank to the bottom of
the lake with us. Being Christmas time, the water was not over-warm,
and we had some difficulty in extricating our young friends. Their
parents made the most absurd fuss about their sons having been forced
to take a cold bath in mid-December in their best clothes. Clearly we
could not be held responsible for the raft failing to prove sea-worthy,
though my youngest brother, even then a nice stickler for correct
English, declared, that, given the circumstances, the proper epithet
was "lake-worthy."

What a wonderful dream-world the child can create for himself, and
having fashioned it and peopled it, he can inhabit his creation in
perfect content quite regardless of his material surroundings, unless
some grown-up, with his matter-of-fact bluntness, happens to break the
spell.

I have endeavoured to express this peculiar faculty of the child's in
rather halting blank verse. I apologise for giving it here, as I make
no claim to be able to write verse. My only excuse must be that my
lines attempt to convey what every man and woman must have felt, though
probably the average person would express himself in far better
language than I am able to command.

    "Eheu fugaces Postume! Postume!
    Labuntur anni.

    "The memories of childhood are a web
    Of gossamer, most infinitely frail
    And tender, shot with gleaming threads of gold
    And silver, through the iridescent weft
    Of subtlest tints of azure and of rose;
    Woven of fragile nothings, yet most dear,
    As binding us to that dim, far-off time,
    When first our lungs inhaled the fragrance sweet
    Of a new world, where all was bright and fair.
    As we approach the end of mortal things,
    The band of comrades ever smaller grows;
    For those who have not shared our trivial round,
    Nor helped with us to forge its many links,
    Can only listen with dull, wearied mind.
    Some few there are on whom the gods bestowed
    The priceless gift of sympathy, and they,
    Though knowing not themselves, yet understand.
    So guard the fragile fabric rolled away
    In the sweet-scented chests of memory,
    Careful lest one uncomprehending soul
    Should, thoughtless, rend the filmy texture frail
    Into a thousand fragments, and destroy
    The precious relic of the golden dawn
    Of life, when all the unknown future lay
    Bathed in unending sunlight, and the heights
    Of manhood, veiled in distant purple haze,
    Offered ten thousand chances of success.
    But why the future, when the present seemed
    A flower-decked meadow in eternal spring?
    When every woodland glade its secrets told
    To us, and us alone. The grown-up eye
    Saw sun-flecked oaks, and tinkling, fern-fringed stream,
    Nor knew that 'neath their shade most doughty Knights
    Daily rode forth to deeds of chivalry;
    And ruthless ruffians waged relentless war
    On those who strayed (without the Talisman
    Which turned their fury into impotence)
    Into those leafy depths nor dreamed there lurked
    Concealed amidst the bosky dells unseen,
    Grim dragons spouting instant death; nor feared
    The placid lake, along whose reed-fringed shore
    Bold Buccaneers swooped down upon their prey.
    Which things were hidden from maturer eyes.
    To those who breathed the freshness of the morn,
    Endless romance; to others, common things.
    For to the Child is given to spin a web
    Of golden glamour o'er the everyday.

    Happy is he who can, in spite of years,
    Retain at times the spirit of the Child."

My own personal ambition at that period was a modest one. My mother
always drove out in Dublin in a carriage-and-four, with postilions and
two out-riders. We had always used black carriage-horses, and East, the
well-known job-master, had provided us for Dublin with twenty-two
splendid blacks, all perfect matches. Our family colour being crimson,
the crimson barouche, with the six blacks and our own black and crimson
liveries, made a very smart turn-out indeed. O'Connor, the
wheeler-postilion, a tiny little wizened elderly man, took charge of
the carriage, and directed the outriders at turnings by a code of sharp
whistles. It was my consuming ambition to ride leader-postilion to my
mother's carriage, and above all to wear the big silver coat-of-arms
our postilions had strapped to the left sleeves of their short jackets
on a broad crimson band. I went to O'Connor in the stable-yard, and
consulted him as to my chance of obtaining the coveted berth. O'Connor
was distinctly encouraging. He thought nine rather young for a
postilion, but when I had grown a little, and had gained more
experience, he saw no insuperable objections to my obtaining the post.
The leader-postilion was O'Connor's nephew, a smart-looking,
light-built boy of seventeen, named Byrne. Byrne was less hopeful about
my chance. He assured me that such a rare combination of physical and
intellectual qualities were required for a successful leader-rider,
that it was but seldom that they were found, as in his case, united in
the same person. That my mother had met with no accident whilst driving
was solely due to his own consummate skill, and his wonderful presence
of mind. Little Byrne, however, was quite affable, and allowed me to
try on his livery, including the coveted big silver arm-badge and his
top-boots. In my borrowed plumes I gave the stablemen to understand
that I was as good as engaged already as postilion. Byrne informed me
of some of the disadvantages of the position. "The heart in ye would be
broke at all the claning them leathers requires." I was also told that
after an extra long drive, "ye'd come home that tired that ye'd be
thinking ye were losing your life, and not knowing if ye had a leg left
to ye at all."

I often drove with my mother, and when we had covered more ground than
usual, upon arriving home, I always ran round to the leaders to inquire
anxiously if my friend little Byrne "had a leg left to him, or if he
had lost his life," and was much relieved at finding him sitting on his
horse in perfect health, with his normal complement of limbs encased in
white leathers. I believe that I expected his legs to drop off on the
road from sheer fatigue.

I knew, of course, that the Lord-Lieutenant had to confirm all
death-sentences in Ireland. From much reading of Harrison Ainsworth, I
insisted on calling the documents connected with this,
"death-warrants." I begged and implored my father to let me see a
"death-warrant." He told me that there was nothing to see, but I went
on insisting, until one day he told me that I might see one of these
gruesome documents. To avoid any misplaced sympathy with the condemned
man, I may say that it was a peculiarly brutal murder. A man at Cork
had kicked his wife to death, and had then battered her into a
shapeless mass with the poker. I went into my father's study on the
tip-toe of expectation. I pictured the Private Secretary coming in
slowly, probably draped for the occasion in a long black cloak, and
holding a white handkerchief to his eyes. In his hand he would bear an
immense sheet of paper surrounded by a three-inch black border. It
would be headed DEATH in large letters, with perhaps a
skull-and-crossbones below it, and from it would depend three ominous
black seals attached by black ribbons. The Secretary would naturally
hesitate before presenting so awful a document to my father, who, in
his turn, would exhibit a little natural emotion when receiving it. At
that moment my mother, specially dressed in black for the occasion,
would burst into the room, and falling on her knees, with streaming
eyes and outstretched arms, she would plead passionately for the
condemned man's life. My father, at first obdurate, would gradually be
melted by my mother's entreaties. Turning aside to brush away a furtive
and not unmanly tear, he would suddenly tear the death-warrant to
shreds, and taking up another huge placard headed REPRIEVE, he would
quickly fill it in and sign it. He would then hand it to the Private
Secretary, who would instantly start post-haste for Cork. As the
condemned man was being actually conducted to the scaffold, the Private
Secretary would appear, brandishing the liberating document. All then
would be joy, except for the executioner, who would grind his teeth at
being baulked of his prey at the last minute.

That is, at all events, the way it would have happened in a book. As it
was, the Private Secretary came in just as usual, carrying an ordinary
official paper, precisely similar to dozens of other official papers
lying about the room.

"It is the Cork murder case, sir," he said in his everyday voice. "The
sentence has to be confirmed by you."

"A bad business, Dillon," said my father. "I have seen the Chief
Justice about it twice, and I have consulted the Judge who tried the
case, and the Solicitor and the Attorney-General. I am afraid that
there are no mitigating circumstances whatever. I shall certainly
confirm it," and he wrote across the official paper, "Let the law take
its course," and appended his signature, and that was all!

Could anything be more prosaic? What a waste of an unrivalled dramatic
situation.

When I returned home for the Christmas holidays in 1866, the Fenian
rebellion had already broken out. The authorities had reason to believe
that the Vice-regal Lodge would be attacked, and various precautions
had been taken. Both guards and sentries were doubled; four light
field-guns stood in the garden, and a row of gas-lamps had been
installed there. Stands of arms made their appearance in the passages
upstairs, which were patrolled all night by constables in rubber-soled
boots, but the culminating joy to my brother and me lay in the four
loopholes with which the walls of the bed-room we jointly occupied were
pierced. The room projected beyond the front of the main building, and
was accordingly a strategic point, but to have four real loopholes,
closed with wooden shutters, in the walls of our own bedroom was to the
two small urchins a source of immense pride. The boys at school were
hideously jealous of our loopholes when they heard of them, though they
affected to despise any one who, enjoying such undreamed-of
opportunities, had, on his own confession, failed to take advantage of
them, and had never even fired through the loopholes, nor attempted to
kill any one through them.

The Fenians were supposed to have the secret of a mysterious
combustible known as "Greek Fire" which was unquenchable by water. I
think that "Greek Fire" was nothing more or less than ordinary
petroleum, which was practically unknown in Europe in 1866, though from
personal experience I can say that it was well known in 1868, in which
year my mother, three sisters, two brothers and myself narrowly escaped
being burnt to death, when the Irish mail, in which we were travelling,
collided with a goods train loaded with petroleum at Abergele, North
Wales, an accident which resulted in thirty-four deaths.

Terrible as were the results of the Abergele accident, they might have
been more disastrous still, for both lines were torn up, and the up
Irish mail from Holyhead, which would be travelling at a great pace
down the steep bank from Llandulas, was due at any moment. The front
guard of our train had been killed by the collision, and the rear guard
was seriously hurt, so there was no one to give orders. It occurred at
once to my eldest brother, the late Duke, that as the train was
standing on a sharp incline, the uninjured carriages would, if
uncoupled, roll down the hill of their own accord. He and some other
passengers accordingly managed to undo the couplings, and the uninjured
coaches, detached from the burning ones, glided down the incline into
safety. From the half-stunned guard my brother learned that the nearest
signal-box was at Llandulas, a mile away. He ran there at the top of
his speed, and arrived in time to get the up Irish mail and all other
traffic stopped. On his return my brother had a prolonged fainting fit,
as the strain on his heart had been very great. It took the doctors
over an hour to bring him round, and we all thought that he had died.

I was eleven years old at the time, and the shock of the collision, the
sight of the burning coaches, the screams of the women, the wreckage,
and my brother's narrow escape from death, affected me for some little
while afterwards.

It was the custom then for the Lord-Lieutenant to live for three months
of the winter at the Castle, where a ceaseless round of entertainments
went on. The Castle was in the heart of Dublin, and only boasted a dull
little smoke-blackened garden in the place of the charming grounds of
the Lodge, still there was plenty going on there. A band played daily
in the Castle Yard for an hour, there was the daily guard-mounting, and
the air was thick with bugle calls and rattling kettle-drums.

At "Drawing Rooms" it was still the habit for all ladies to be kissed
by the Lord-Lieutenant on being presented to him, and every lady had to
be re-presented to every fresh Viceroy. This imposed an absolute orgy
of compulsory osculation on the unfortunate Lord-Lieutenant, for if
many of the ladies were fresh, young and pretty, the larger proportion
of them were very distinctly the reverse.

There is a very fine white-and-gold throne-room in Dublin, decorated in
the heavy but effective style of George IV., and it certainly compares
very favourably with the one at Buckingham Palace. St. Patrick's Hall,
too, with its elaborate painted ceiling, is an exceedingly handsome
room, as is the Long Gallery. At my father's first Drawing-Room, when I
officiated as page, the perpetual kissing tickled my fancy so, that,
forgetting that to live up to my new white-satin breeches and lace
ruffles I ought to wear an impassive countenance, I absolutely shook,
spluttered and wriggled with laughter. The ceremony appeared to me
interminable, for ten-year-old legs soon get tired, and ten-year-old
eyelids grow very heavy as midnight approaches. When at length it
ended, and my fellow-page was curled up fast asleep on the steps of the
throne in his official finery, in glancing at my father I was amazed to
find him prematurely aged. The powder from eight hundred cheeks and
necks had turned his moustache and beard white; he had to retire to his
room and spend a quarter of an hour washing and brushing the powder
out, before he could take part in the procession through all the
staterooms which in those days preceded supper. My father was still a
remarkably handsome man even at fifty-six years of age, with his great
height and his full curly beard, and I thought my mother, with all her
jewels on, most beautiful, as I am quite sure she was, though only a
year younger than my father.

The great white-and-gold throne-room brilliant with light, the glitter
of the uniforms, and the sparkle of the jewels were attractive from
their very novelty to a ten-year-old schoolboy, perhaps a little
overwhelmed by his own gorgeous and unfamiliar trappings. We two pages
had been ordered to stand quite motionless, one on either side of the
throne, but as the evening wore on and we began to feel sleepy, it was
difficult to carry our instructions into effect, for there were no
facilities for playing even a game of "oughts and crosses" in order to
keep awake. The position had its drawbacks, as we were so very
conspicuous in our new uniforms. A detail which sticks in my memory is
that the guests at that Drawing-Room drank over three hundred bottles
of my father's sherry, in addition to other wines.

My brother and I were not allowed in the throne-room on ordinary days,
but it offered such wonderful opportunities for processions and
investitures, with the sword of state and the mace lying ready to one's
hand in their red velvet cradles, that we soon discovered a back way
into it. Should any of the staff of Lord French, the present Viceroy,
care to examine the sword of state and the mace, they will find them
both heavily dented. This is due to two small boys having frequently
dropped them when they proved too heavy for their strength, during
strictly private processions fifty-five years ago. I often wonder what
a deputation from the Corporation of Belfast must have thought when
they were ushered into the throne-room, and found it already in the
occupation of two small brats, one of whom, with a star cut out of
silver paper pinned to his packet to counterfeit an order, was lolling
back on the throne in a lordly manner, while the other was feigning to
read a long statement from a piece of paper. The small boys, after the
manner of their kind, quickly vanished through a bolt-hole.

The Chapel Royal in Dublin Castle was built by my grandfather, the Duke
of Bedford, who was Viceroy in 1806, and it bears the stamp of the
unfortunate period of its birth on every detail of its
"carpenter-Gothic" interior. It is, however, very ornate, with a
profusion of gilding, stained glass and elaborate oak carving. My
father and mother sat by themselves on two red velvet arm-chairs in a
sort of pew-throne that projected into the Chapel. The Aide-de-Camp in
waiting, an extremely youthful warrior as a rule, had to stand until
the door of the pew was shut, when a folding wooden flap was lowered
across the aperture, on which he seated himself, with his back resting
against the pew door. At the conclusion of the service the Verger
always opened the pew door with a sudden "click." Should the
Aide-de-Camp be unprepared for this and happen to be leaning against
the door, with any reasonable luck he was almost certain to tumble
backwards into the aisle, "taking a regular toss," as hunting-men would
say, and to our unspeakable delight we would see a pair of slim legs in
overalls and a pair of spurred heels describing a graceful parabola as
they followed their youthful owner into the aisle. This particular form
of religious relaxation appealed to me enormously, and I looked forward
to it every Sunday.

It was an episode that could only occur once with each person, for
forewarned was forearmed; still, as we had twelve Aides-de-Camp, and
they were constantly changing, the pew door played its practical joke
quite often enough to render the Services in the Chapel Royal very
attractive and engrossing, and I noticed that no Aide-de-Camp was ever
warned of his possible peril. I think, too, that the Verger enjoyed his
little joke.

In that same Chapel Royal I listened to the most eloquent and beautiful
sermon I have ever heard in my life, preached by Dean Magee (afterwards
Archbishop of York) on Christmas Day, 1866. His text was: "There were
shepherds abiding in the fields." That marvellous orator must have had
some peculiar gift of sympathy to captivate the attention of a child of
ten so completely that he remembers portions of that sermon to this
very day, fifty-four years afterwards.

To my great delight I discovered a little door near our joint bedroom
which led directly into the gallery of St. Patrick's Hall. Here the big
dinners of from seventy to ninety people were held, and it was my
delight to creep into the gallery in my dressing-gown and slippers and
watch the brilliant scene below. The stately white-and-gold hall with
its fine painted ceiling, the long tables blazing with plate and
lights, the display of flowers, the jewels of the ladies and the
uniforms of the men, made a picture very attractive to a child. After
the ladies had left, the uproar became deafening. In 1866 the old
drinking habits had not yet died out, and though my father very seldom
touched wine himself, he of course saw that his guests had sufficient;
indeed, sufficient seems rather an elastic term, judging by what I saw
and what I was told. It must have been rather like one of the scenes
described by Charles Lever in his books. In 1866 political, religious,
and racial animosities had not yet assumed the intensely bitter
character they have since reached in Ireland, and the traditional Irish
wit, at present apparently dormant, still flashed, sparkled and
scintillated. From my hiding-place in the gallery I could only hear the
roars of laughter the good stories provoked, I could not hear the
stories themselves, possibly to my own advantage.

Judge Keogh had a great reputation as a wit. The then Chief Justice was
a remarkable-looking man on account of his great snow-white whiskers
and his jet-black head of hair. My mother, commenting on this, said to
Judge Keogh, "Surely Chief Justice Monaghan must dye his hair." "To my
certain knowledge he does not," answered Keogh. "How, then, do you
account for the difference in colour between his whiskers and his
hair?" asked my mother. "To the fact that, throughout his life, he has
used his jaw a great deal more than he ever has his brain," retorted
Keogh.

Father Healy, most genial and delightful of men, belongs, of course, to
a much later period. I was at the Castle in Lord Zetland's time, when
Father Healy had just returned from a fortnight's visit to Monte Carlo,
where he had been the guest (of all people in the world!) of Lord
Randolph Churchill. "May I ask how you explained your absence to your
flock, Father Healy?" asked Lady Zetland. "I merely told them that I
had been for a fortnight's retreat to Carlow; I thought it superfluous
prefixing the Monte," answered the priest. Again at a wedding, the late
Lord Morris, the possessor of the hugest brogue ever heard, observed as
the young couple drove off, "I wish that I had an old shoe to throw
after them for luck." "Throw your brogue after them, my dear fellow; it
will do just as well," flashed out Father Healy. It was Father Healy,
too, who, in posting a newly arrived lady as to Dublin notabilities,
said, "You will find that there are only two people who count in
Dublin, the Lady-Lieutenant and Lady Iveagh, her Ex. and her double X,"
for the marks on the barrels of the delicious beverage brewed by the
Guinness family must be familiar to most people.

I myself heard Father Healy, in criticising a political appointment
which lay between a Welsh and a Scotch M.P., say, "Well, if we get the
Welshman he'll pray on his knees all Sunday, and then prey on his
neighbours the other six days of the week; whilst if we get the
Scotchman hell keep the Sabbath and any other little trifles he can lay
his hand on." Healy, who was parish priest of Little Bray, used to
entertain sick priests from the interior of Ireland who were ordered
sea-bathing. One day he saw one of his guests, a young priest, rush
into the sea, glass in hand, and begin drinking the sea water. "You
mustn't do that, my dear fellow," cried Father Healy, aghast. "I didn't
know that there was any harm in it, Father Healy," said the young
priest. "Whist! we'll not say one word about it, and maybe then they'll
never miss the little drop you have taken."

Some of these stories may be old, in which case I can only apologise
for giving them here.

Dublin people have always had the gift of coining extremely felicitous
nicknames. I refrain from quoting those bestowed on two recent
Viceroys, for they are mordant and uncomplimentary, though possibly not
wholly undeserved. My father was at once christened "Old Splendid," an
appellation less scarifying than some of those conferred on his
successors. My father had some old friends living in the west of
Ireland, a Colonel Tenison, and his wife, Lady Louisa Tenison. Colonel
Tenison had one of the most gigantic noses I have ever seen, a vast,
hooked eagle's beak. He was so blind that he had to feel his way about.
Lady Louisa Tenison allowed herself an unusual freedom of speech, and
her comments on persons and things were unconventionally outspoken.
They came to stay with us at the Castle in 1867, and before they had
been there twenty-four hours they were christened "Blind Hookey" and
"Unlimited Loo."

In February 1867 my sister, brother and I contracted measles, and were
sent out to the "Lodge" to avoid spreading infection.

We were already convalescent, when one evening a mysterious stranger
arrived from the Castle, and had an interview with the governess. As a
result of that interview, the kindly old lady began clucking like a
scared hen, fussed quite prodigiously, and told us to collect our
things at once, as we were to start for the Castle in a quarter of an
hour. After a frantically hurried packing, we were bustled into the
carriage, the mysterious stranger taking his seat on the box. To our
surprise we saw some thirty mounted Hussars at the door. As we moved
off, to our unspeakable delight, the Hussars drew their swords and
closed in on the carriage, one riding at either window. And so we drove
through Dublin. We had never had an escort before, and felt immensely
elated and dignified. At the Castle there seemed to be some confusion.
I heard doors banging and people moving about all through the night.

Long afterwards I learnt that the great Fenian rising was fixed for
that night. The authorities had heard that part of the Fenian plan was
to capture the Viceregal Lodge, and to hold the Lord-Lieutenant's
children as hostages, which explains the arrival at the Lodge of Chief
Inspector Dunn, the frantic haste, and the escort of Hussars with drawn
swords.

That night an engagement, or it might more justly be termed a skirmish,
did take place between the Fenians and the troops at Tallagh, some
twenty miles from Dublin. My brothers and most of my father's staff had
been present, which explained the mysterious noises during the night.
As a result of this fight, some three hundred prisoners were taken, and
Lord Strathnairn, then Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, was very hard put
to it to find sufficient men (who, of course, would have to be detached
from his force) to escort the prisoners into Dublin. Lord Strathnairn
suddenly got an inspiration. He had every single button, brace buttons
and all, cut off the prisoners' trousers. Then the men had perforce,
for decency's sake, to hold their trousers together with their hands,
and I defy any one similarly situated to run more than a yard or two.
The prisoners were all paraded in the Castle yard next day, and I
walked out amongst them. As they had been up all night in very heavy
rain, they all looked very forlorn and miserable. The Castle gates were
shut that day, for the first time in the memory of the oldest
inhabitant, and they remained shut for four days. I cannot remember the
date when the prisoners were paraded, but I am absolutely certain as to
one point: it was Shrove Tuesday, 1867, the day on which so many
marriages are celebrated amongst country-folk in Ireland. Dublin was
seething with unrest, so on that very afternoon my father and mother
drove very slowly, quite alone, without an Aide-de-Camp or escort, in a
carriage-and-four with outriders, through all the poorest quarters in
Dublin. They were well received, and there was no hostile demonstration
whatever. The idea of the slow drive through the slums was my mother's.
She wished to show that though the Castle gates were closed, she and my
father were not afraid. I saw her on her return, when she was looking
very pale and drawn, but I was too young to realise what the strain
must have been. My mother's courage was loudly praised, but I think
that my friends O'Connor and little Byrne, the postilions, also deserve
quite a good mark, for they ran the same amount of risk, and they were
no entirely free agents in the matter, as my father and mother were.

Dr. Hatchell, who attended us all, had been physician to countless
Viceroys and their families, and was a very well-known figure in
Dublin. He was a jolly little red-faced man with a terrific brogue.
There was a great epidemic of lawlessness in Dublin at that time. Many
people were waylaid and stripped of their valuables in dark suburban
streets. Dr. Hatchell was returning from a round of professional visits
in the suburbs one evening, when his carriage was stopped by two men,
who seized the horses' heads. One of the men came round to the carriage
door.

"We know you, Dr. Hatchell, so you had better hand over your watch and
money quietly." "You know me," answered the merry little doctor, with
his tremendous brogue, "so no doubt you would like me to prescribe for
you. I'll do it with all the pleasure in life. Saltpetre is a grand
drug, and I often order it for my patients. Sulphur is the finest thing
in the world for the blood, and charcoal is an elegant disinfectant. By
a great piece of luck, I have all these drugs with me in the carriage,
but"--and he suddenly covered the man with his revolver--"they are all
mixed up together, and there is the least taste in life of lead in
front of them, and by God! you'll get it through you if you don't clear
out of that." The men decamped immediately. I have heard Dr. Hatchell
tell that story at least twenty times. Dr. Hatchell, who was invited to
every single entertainment, both at the Lodge and at the Castle, was a
widower. A peculiarly stupid young Aide-de-Camp once asked him why he
had not brought Mrs. Hatchell with him. "Sorr," answered the doctor in
his most impressive tones, "Mrs. Hatchell is an angel in heaven." A
fortnight later the same foolish youth asked again why Dr. Hatchell had
come alone. "Mrs. Hatchell, sorr, is still an angel in heaven,"
answered the indignant doctor.

It was said that no mortal eye had ever seen Dr. Hatchell in the
daytime out of his professional frock-coat and high hat. I know that
when he stayed with us in Scotland some years later, he went out
salmon-fishing in a frock-coat and high hat (with a stethescope clipped
into the crown of it), an unusual garb for an angler.

In the spring of 1868, King Edward and Queen Alexandra (then, of
course, Prince and Princess of Wales) paid us a long visit at the
Castle. My father had heard a rumour that recently the Prince of Wales
had introduced the custom of smoking in the dining-room after dinner.
He was in a difficult position; nothing would induce him to tolerate
such a practice, but how was he to avoid discourtesy to his Royal
guest? My mother rose to the occasion. A little waiting-room near the
dining-room was furnished and fitted up in the most attractive manner,
and before the Prince had been an hour in the Castle, my mother showed
him the charming little room, and told H. R. H. that it had been
specially fitted up for him to enjoy his after-dinner cigar in. That
saved the situation. Young men of to-day will be surprised to learn
that in my time no one dreamed of smoking before they went to a ball,
as to smell of smoke was considered an affront to one's partners. I
myself, though a heavy smoker from an early age, never touched tobacco
in any form before going to a dance, out of respect for my partners.
Incredible as it may sound, in those days all gentlemen had a very high
respect for ladies and young ladies, and observed a certain amount of
deference in their intercourse with them. Never, to the best of my
recollection, did either we or our partners address each other as "old
thing," or "old bean." This, of course, now is hopelessly Victorian,
and as defunct as the dodo. Present-day hostesses tell me that all
young men, and most girls, are kind enough to flick cigarette-ash all
over their drawing-rooms, and considerately throw lighted
cigarette-ends on to fine old Persian carpets, and burn holes in pieces
of valuable old French furniture. Of course it would be too much
trouble to fetch an ash-tray, or to rise to throw lighted
cigarette-ends into the grate. The young generation have never been
brought up to take trouble, nor to consider other people; we might
perhaps put it that they never think of any one in the world but their
own sweet selves. I am inclined to think that there are distinct
advantages in being a confirmed, unrepentant Victorian.

During the stay of the Prince and Princess there was one unending round
of festivities. The Princess was then at the height of her great
beauty, and seeing H. R. H. every day, my youthful adoration of her
increased tenfold. The culminating incident of the visit was to be the
installation of the Prince of Wales as a Knight of St. Patrick in St.
Patrick's Cathedral, with immense pomp and ceremonial. The Cathedral
had undergone a complete transformation for the ceremony, and all its
ordinary fittings had disappeared. The number of pages had now
increased to five, and we were constantly being drilled in the
Cathedral. We had all five of us to walk backwards down some steps,
keeping in line and keeping step. For five small boys to do this
neatly, without awkwardness, requires a great deal of practice. The
procession to the Cathedral was made in full state, the streets being
lined with troops, and the carriages, with their escorts of cavalry,
going at a foot's pace through the principal thoroughfares of Dublin. I
remember it chiefly on account of the bitter northeast wind blowing.
The five pages drove together in an open carriage, and received quite
an ovation from the crowd, but no one had thought of providing them
with overcoats. Silk stockings, satin knee-breeches and lace ruffles
are very inadequate protection against an Arctic blast, and we arrived
at the Cathedral stiff and torpid with cold. From the colour of our
faces, we might have been five little "Blue Noses" from Nova Scotia.
The ceremony was very gorgeous and imposing, and I trust that the pages
were not unduly clumsy. Every one was amazed at the beauty of the
music, sung from the triforium by the combined choirs of St. Patrick's
and Christ Church Cathedrals, and of the Chapel Royal, with that
wonderful musician, Sir Robert Stewart, at the organ. I remember well
Sir Robert Stewart's novel setting of "God save the Queen." The men
sang it first in unison to the music of the massed military bands
outside the Cathedral, the boys singing a "Faux Bourdon" above it. Then
the organ took it up, the full choir joining in with quite original
harmonies.

In honour of the Prince's visit, nearly all the Fenian prisoners who
were still detained in jail were released.

Many years after, in 1885, King Edward and Queen Alexandra paid us a
visit at Barons' Court. During that visit a little episode occurred
which is worth recording. On the Sunday, the Princess of Wales, as she
still was, inspected the Sunday School children before Morning Service.
At luncheon the Rector of the parish told us that one of the Sunday
scholars, a little girl, had been taken ill with congestion of the
lungs a few days earlier. The child's disappointment at having missed
seeing the Princess was terrible. Desperately ill as she was, she kept
on harping on her lost opportunity. After luncheon the Princess drew my
sister-in-law, the present Dowager Duchess of Abercorn, on one side,
and inquired where the sick child lived. Upon being told that it was
about four miles off, the Princess asked whether it would not be
possible to get a pony-cart from the stables and drive there, as she
would like to see the little girl. I myself brought a pony-cart around
to the door, and the Princess and my sister-in-law having got in, we
three started off alone, the Princess driving. When we reached the
cottage where the child lived, H. R. H. went straight up to the little
girl's room, and stayed talking to her for an hour, to the child's
immense joy. Two days later the little girl died, but she had been made
very happy meanwhile.

A little thing perhaps; but there are not many people in Queen
Alexandra's position who would have taken an eight-mile drive in an
open cart on a stormy and rainy April afternoon in order to avoid
disappointing a dying child, of whose very existence she had been
unaware that morning.

It is the kind heart which inspires acts like these which has drawn the
British people so irresistibly to Queen Alexandra.



CHAPTER IV


Chittenden's--A wonderful teacher--My personal experiences as a
schoolmaster--My "boys in blue"--My unfortunate garments--A "brave
Belge"--The model boy, and his name--A Spartan regime--"The Three
Sundays"--Novel religious observances--Harrow--"John Smith of
Harrow"--"Tommy" Steele--"Tosher"--An ingenious punishment--John
Farmer--His methods--The birth of a famous song--Harrow school
songs--"Ducker"--The "Curse of Versatility"--Advancing old age--The
race between three brothers--A family failing--My father's race at
sixty-four--My own--A most acrimonious dispute at Rome--Harrow after
fifty years.


I was sent to school as soon as I was nine, to Mr. Chittenden's, at
Hoddesdon, in Hertfordshire. This remarkable man had a very rare gift:
he was a born teacher, or, perhaps, more accurately, a born
mind-trainer. Of the very small stock of knowledge which I have been
able to accumulate during my life, I certainly owe at least one-half to
Mr. Chittenden. There is a certain profusely advertised system for
acquiring concentration, and for cultivating an artificial memory, the
name of which will be familiar to every one. Instead of the title it
actually bears, that system should be known as "Chittendism," for it is
precisely the method adopted by him with his pupils fifty-four years
ago. Mr. Chittenden, probably recognising that peculiar quality of
mental laziness which is such a marked characteristic of the average
English man or woman, set himself to combat and conquer it the moment
he got a pupil into his hands. Think of the extraordinary number of
persons you know who never do more than half-listen, half-understand,
half-attend, and who only read with their eyes, not with their brains.
The other half of their brain is off wool-gathering somewhere, so
naturally they forget everything they read, and the little they do
remember with half their brain is usually incorrect. It seems to me
that this sort of mental limitation is far more marked in the young
generation, probably because foolish parents seem to think it rather an
amusing trait in their offspring. Now, the boy at Chittenden's who
allowed his mind to wander, and did not concentrate, promptly made the
acquaintance of the "spatter," a broad leathern strap; and the spatter
hurt exceedingly, as I can testify from many personal experiences of
it. On the whole, then, even the most careless boy found it to his
advantage to concentrate. This clever teacher knew how quickly young
brains tire, so he never devoted more than a quarter of an hour to each
subject, but during that quarter of an hour he demanded, and got, the
full attention of his pupils. The result was that everything absorbed
remained permanently. If I enlarge at some length on Mr. Chittenden's
methods, it is because the subject of education is of such vital
importance, and the mere fact that the much-advertised system to which
I have alluded has attained such success, would seem to indicate that
many people are aware that they share that curious disability in the
intellectual equipment of the average Englishman to which I have
referred; for unless they had habitually only half-listened, half-read,
half-understood, there could be no need for their undergoing a course
of instruction late in life. Surely it is more sensible to check this
peculiarly English tendency to mental laziness quite early in life, as
Mr. Chittenden did with his boys. To my mind another striking
characteristic of the average English man and woman is their want of
observation. They don't notice: it is far too much trouble; besides,
they are probably thinking of something else. All Chittenden's boys
were taught to observe; otherwise they got into trouble. He insisted,
too, on his pupils expressing themselves in correct English, with the
result that Chittenden's boys were more intellectually advanced at
twelve than the average Public School boy is at sixteen or seventeen.
It is unusual to place such books as Paley's Christian Evidences, or
Archbishop Whately's Historic Doubts as to Napoleon Bonaparte, in the
hands of little boys of twelve, with any expectation of a satisfactory
result; yet we read them on Sundays, understood the point of them, and
could explain the why and wherefore of them. Chittenden's one fault was
his tendency to "force" a receptive boy, and to develop his intellect
too quickly. As in the Pelm--(I had very nearly written it) system, he
made great use of memoria technica, and always taught us to link one
idea with another. At the age of ten I got puzzled over Marlborough's
campaigns. "'Brom,' my boy, remember 'Brom,'" said Mr. Chittenden.
"That will give you Marlborough's victories in their proper
sequence--Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde, Malplaquet, 'Brom'"; and
"Brom" I have remembered from that day to this.

Though it is now many years since Mr. Chittenden passed away, I must
pay this belated tribute to the memory of a very skilful teacher, and
an exceedingly kind friend, to whom I owe an immense debt of gratitude.

My own experiences as a pedagogue are limited. During the War, I was
asked to give some lessons in elementary history and rudimentary French
to convalescent soldiers in a big hospital. No one ever had a more
cheery and good-tempered lot of pupils than I had in my blue-clad,
red-tied disciples. For remembering the order of the Kings of England,
we used Mr. Chittenden's jingle, beginning:

    "Billy, Billy, Harry, Ste,
    Harry, Dick, Jack, Harry Three."

By repeating it all together, over and over again, the very jangle of
it made it stick in my pupils' memory. Dates proved a great difficulty,
yet a few dates, such as that of the Norman Conquest and of the Battle
of Waterloo, were essential. "Clarke, can you remember the date of the
Norman Conquest?" "Very sorry, sir; clean gone out of my 'ead." "Now,
Daniels, how about the date of Waterloo?" "You've got me this time,
sir." Then I had an inspiration. Feigning to take up a
telephone-receiver, and to speak down it, I begged for "Willconk, One,
O, double-six, please." Twenty blithesome wounded Tommies at once went
through an elaborate pantomime of unhooking receivers, and asked
anxiously for "Willconk--One, O, double-six, miss, please. No, miss, I
didn't say, 'City, six, eight, five, four'; I said 'Willconk, One, O,
double-six.' Thank you, miss; now I can let mother know I'm coming to
tea." This, accompanied by much playful badinage with the imaginary
operator, proved immensely popular, but "Willconk, One, O, double-six"
stuck in the brains of my blue-clothed flock. In the same way the
Battle of Waterloo became "Batterloo--One, eight, one, five, please,
miss," so both those dates remained in their heads.

We experienced some little trouble in mastering the French numerals,
until I tried a new scheme, and called out, "From the right, number, in
French!" Then my merry convalescents began shouting gleefully, "Oon,"
"Doo," "Troy," "Catta," "Sink," etc.; but the French numerals stuck in
their heads. Never did any one, I imagine, have such a set of jolly,
cheery boys in blue as pupils, and the strong remnant of the child left
in many of them made them the more attractive.

When I first went to school, the selection and purchase of my outfit
was, for some inscrutable reason, left to my sisters' governess, an
elderly lady to whom I was quite devoted. This excellent person,
though, knew very little about boys, and nothing whatever as to their
requirements. Her mind harked back to the "thirties" and "forties," and
she endeavoured to reconstitute the dress of little boys at that
period. She ordered for me a velvet tunic for Sunday wear, of the sort
seen in old prints, and a velvet cap with a peak and tassel, such as
young England wore in William IV.'s days. She had large, floppy, limp
collars specially made for me, of the pattern worn by boys in her
youth; every single article of my unfortunate equipment had been
obsolete for at least thirty years. In my ignorance, and luckily not
knowing what was in store for me, I felt immensely proud of my new kit.

On the first Sunday after my arrival at school, I arrayed myself with
great satisfaction in a big, floppy collar, and my new velvet tunic,
amidst the loud jeers of all the other boys in the dormitory. I was,
however, hardly prepared for the yells and howls of derision with which
my appearance in the school-room was greeted; my unfortunate garments
were held to be so unspeakably grotesque that boys laughed till the
tears ran down their cheeks. As church-time approached the boys
produced their high hats, which I found were worn even by little
fellows of eight; I had nothing but my terrible tasselled velvet cap,
the sight of which provoked even louder jeers than the tunic had done.
We marched to church two and two, in old-fashioned style in a
"crocodile," but not a boy in the school would walk beside me in my
absurd garments, so a very forlorn little fellow trotted to church
alone behind the usher, acutely conscious of the very grotesque figure
he was presenting. I must have been dressed very much as Henry
Fairchild was when he went to visit his little friend Master Noble. On
returning from church, I threw my velvet cap into the water-butt,
where, for all I know, it probably is still, and nothing would induce
me to put on the velvet tunic or the floppy collars a second time. I
bombarded my family with letters until I found myself equipped with a
high hat and Eton jackets and collars such as the other boys wore.

We were taught French at Chittenden's by a very pleasant old Belgian,
M. Vansittart. I could talk French then as easily as English, and after
exchanging a few sentences with M. Vansittart, he cried, "Tiens! mais
c'est un petit Francais;" but the other boys laughed so unmercifully at
what they termed my affected accent, that in self-defence I adopted an
ultra-British pronunciation, made intentional mistakes, and, in order
to conform to type, punctiliously addressed our venerable instructor as
"Moosoo," just as the other boys did. M. Vansittart must have been a
very old man, for he had fought as a private in the Belgian army at the
Battle of Waterloo. He had once been imprudent enough to admit that he
and some Belgian friends of his had...how shall we put it?...absented
themselves from the battlefield without the permission of their
superiors, and had hurriedly returned to Brussels, being doubtless
fatigued by their exertions. His little tormentors never let him forget
this. When we thought that we had done enough French for the day, a
shrill young voice would pipe out, "Now, Moosoo, please tell us how you
and all the Belgians ran away from the Battle of Waterloo." It never
failed to achieve the desired end. "Ah! tas de petits sacripants! 'Ow
dare you say dat?" thundered the poor old gentleman, and he would go on
to explain that his and his friends' retirement was only actuated by
the desire to be the first bearers to Brussels of the news of
Wellington's great victory, and to assuage their families' very natural
anxiety as to their safety. He added, truthfully enough, "Nos jambes
courraient malgres nous." Poor M. Vansittart! He was a gentle and a
kindly old man, with traces of the eighteenth-century courtliness of
manner, and smothered in snuff.

Mr. Chittenden was never tired of dinning into us the astonishing
merits of a pupil who had been at the school eleven or twelve years
before us. This model boy apparently had the most extraordinary mental
gifts, and had never broken any of the rules. Mr. Chittenden predicted
a brilliant future for him, and would not be surprised should he
eventually become Prime Minister. The paragon had had a distinguished
career at Eton, and was at present at Cambridge, where he was certain
to do equally well. From having this Admirable Crichton perpetually
held up to us as an example, we grew rather tired of his name, much as
the Athenians wearied at constantly hearing Aristides described as "the
just." At length we heard that the pattern-boy would spend two days at
Hoddesdon on his way back to Cambridge. We were all very anxious to see
him. As Mr. Chittenden confidently predicted that he would one day
become Prime Minister, I formed a mental picture of him as being like
my uncle, Lord John Russell, the only Prime Minister I knew. He would
be very short, and would have his neck swathed in a high black-satin
stock. When the Cambridge undergraduate appeared, he was, on the
contrary, very tall and thin, with a slight stoop, and so far from
wearing a high stock, he had an exceedingly long neck emerging from a
very low collar. His name was Arthur James Balfour.

I think Mr. Balfour and the late Mr. George Wyndham were the only
pupils of Chittenden's who made names for themselves. The rest of us
were content to plod along in the rut, though we had been taught to
concentrate, to remember, and to observe.

Compared with the manner in which little boys are now pampered at
preparatory schools, our method of life appears very Spartan. We never
had fires or any heating whatever in our dormitories, and the windows
were always open. We were never given warm water to wash in, and in
frosty weather our jugs were frequently frozen over. Truth compels me
to admit that this freak of Nature's was rather welcomed, for little
boys are not as a rule over-enamoured of soap and water, and it was an
excellent excuse for avoiding any ablutions whatever. We rose at six,
winter and summer, and were in school by half-past six. The windows of
the school-room were kept open, whilst the only heating came from a
microscopic stove jealously guarded by a huge iron stockade to prevent
the boys from approaching it. For breakfast we were never given
anything but porridge and bread and butter. We had an excellent dinner
at one o'clock, but nothing for tea but bread and butter again, never
cake or jam. It will horrify modern mothers to learn that all the boys,
even little fellows of eight, were given two glasses of beer at dinner.
And yet none of us were ever ill. I was nearly five years at
Chittenden's, and I do not remember one single case of illness. We were
all of us in perfect health, nor were we ever afflicted with those
epidemics which seem to play such havoc with modern schools, from all
of which I can only conclude that a regime of beer and cold rooms is
exceedingly good for little boys.

The Grange, Mr. Chittenden's house, was one of the most perfect
examples of a real Queen Anne house that I ever saw. Every room in the
house was wood-panelled, and there was some fine carving on the
staircase. The house, with a splendid avenue of limes leading up to it,
stood in a large old-world garden, where vast cedar trees spread
themselves duskily over shaven lawns round a splashing fountain, and
where scarlet geraniums blazed. Such a beautiful old place was quite
wasted as a school.

We were very well treated by both Mr. and Mrs. Chittenden, and we were
all very happy at the Grange. During my first year there one of my
elder brothers died. A child of ten, should death never have touched
his family, looks upon it as something infinitely remote, affecting
other people but not himself. Then when the first gap in the home
occurs, all the child's little world tumbles to pieces, and he wonders
how the birds have the heart to go on singing as usual, and how the sun
can keep on shining. A child's grief is very poignant and real. I can
never forget Mr. and Mrs. Chittenden's extreme kindness to a very
sorrowful little boy at that time.

There was one curious custom at Chittenden's, and I do not know whether
it obtained in other schools in those days. Some time in the summer
term the head-boy would announce that "The Three Sundays" had arrived,
and must be duly observed according to ancient custom. We all obeyed
him implicity. The first Sunday was "Cock-hat Sunday," the second "Rag
Sunday," and the third (if I may be pardoned) "Spit-in-the-pew Sunday."
On the first Sunday we all marched to church with our high hats at an
extreme angle over our left ears; on the second Sunday every boy had
his handkerchief trailing out of his pocket; on the third, I am sorry
to say, thirty-one little boys expectorated surreptitiously but
simultaneously in the pews, as the first words of the Litany were
repeated. I think that we were all convinced that these were regularly
appointed festivals of the Church of England. I know that I was, and I
spent hours hunting fruitlessly through my Prayer Book to find some
allusion to them. I found Sundays after Epiphany, Sundays in Lent, and
Sundays after Trinity, but not one word could I discover, to my
amazement, either about "Cock-hat Sunday" or "Spit-in-the-pew Sunday."
What can have been the origin of this singular custom I cannot say.
When I, in my turn, became head-boy, I fixed "The Three Sundays" early
in May. It so happened that year that the Thursday after "Cock-hat
Sunday" was Ascension Day, when we also went to church, but, it being a
week-day, we wore our school caps in the place of high hats. Ascension
Day thus falling, if I may so express myself, within the Octave of
"Cock-hat Sunday," I decreed that the customary ritual must be observed
with the school caps, and my little flock obeyed me implicitly. So
eager were some of the boys to do honour to this religious festival,
that their caps were worn at such an impossible angle that they kept
tumbling off all the way to church. It is the only time in my life that
I have ever wielded even a semblance of ecclesiastical authority, and I
cannot help thinking that the Archbishop of Canterbury would have
envied the unquestioning obedience with which all my directions were
received, for I gather that his own experience has not invariably been
equally fortunate.

At thirteen I said good-bye to the pleasant Grange, and went, as my
elder brothers, my father, and my grandfather had done before me, to
Harrow.

In the Harrow of the "seventies" there was one unique personality, that
of the Rev. John Smith, best-loved of men. This saintly man was
certainly very eccentric. We never knew then that his whole life had
been one long fight against the hereditary insanity which finally
conquered him. In appearance he was very tall and gaunt, with
snow-white whiskers and hair, and the kindest eyes I have ever seen in
a human face; he was meticulously clean and neat in his dress. "John,"
as he was invariably called, on one occasion met a poorly clad beggar
shivering in the street on a cold day, and at once stripped off his own
overcoat and insisted on the beggar taking it. John never bought
another overcoat, but wrapped himself in a plaid in winter-time. He
addressed all boys indiscriminately as "laddie," though he usually
alluded to the younger ones as "smallest of created things,"
"infinitesimal scrap of humanity," or "most diminutive of men"; but,
wildly eccentric as he was, no one ever thought of laughing at him. It
was just "old John," and that explained everything.

I was never "up" to John, for he taught a low Form, and I had come from
Chittenden's, and all Chittenden's boys took high places; but he took
"pupil-room" in my house, and helped my tutor generally, so I saw John
daily, and, like every one else, I grew very much attached to this
simple, saint-like old clergyman.

He went round every room in the house on Sunday evenings, always first
scrupulously knocking at the door. An untidy room gave him positive
pain, and the most slovenly boys would endeavour to get their filthy
rooms into some sort of order, "just to please old John." John was
passionately fond of flowers, and one would meet the most unlikely boys
with bunches of roses in their hands. If one inquired what they were
for, they would say half-sheepishly, "Oh, just a few roses I've bought.
I thought they would please old John; you know how keen the old chap is
on flowers." Now English schoolboys are not as a rule in the habit of
presenting flowers to their masters. For all his apparent simplicity,
John was not easy to "score off." I have known Fifth-form boys bring a
particularly difficult passage of Herodotus to John in "pupil-room,"
knowing that he was not a great Greek scholar. John, after glancing at
the passage, would say, "Laddie, you splendid fellows in the Upper
Fifth know so much; I am but a humble and very ignorant old man. This
passage is beyond my attainments. Go to your tutor, my child. He will
doubtless make it all clear to you; and pray accept my apologies for
being unable to help you," and the Fifth-form boy would go away feeling
thoroughly ashamed of himself. After his death, it was discovered from
his diary that John had been in the habit of praying for twenty boys by
name, every night of his life. He went right down the school list, and
then he began again. Any lack of personal cleanliness drove him
frantic. I myself have heard him order a boy with dirty nails and hands
out of the room, crying, "Out of my sight, unclean wretch! Go and
cleanse the hands God gave you, before I allow you to associate with
clean gentlemen, and write out for me two hundred times, 'Cleanliness
is next to godliness.'"

John took the First Fourth, and his little boys could always be
detected by their neatness and extreme cleanliness. Neither of these
can be called a characteristic of little boys in general, but the
little fellows made an effort to overcome their natural tendencies "to
please old John." When his hereditary enemy triumphed, and his reason
left him, hundreds of his old pupils wished to subscribe, and to
surround John for the remainder of his life with all the comforts that
could be given him in his afflicted condition. It was very
characteristic of John to refuse this offer, and to go of his own
accord into a pauper asylum, where he combined the duties of chaplain
and butler until his death. John was buried at Harrow, and by his own
wish no bell was tolled, and his coffin was covered with scarlet
geraniums, as a sign of rejoicing. I know how I should describe John,
were I preaching a sermon.

Another mildly eccentric Harrow master was the Rev. T. Steele,
invariably known as "Tommy." His peculiarities were limited to his use
of the pronoun "we" instead of "I," as though he had been a crowned
head, and to his habit of perpetually carrying, winter and summer, rain
or sunshine, a gigantic bright blue umbrella. He had these umbrellas
specially made for him; they were enormous, the sort of umbrellas Mrs.
Gamp must have brought with her when her professional services were
requisitioned, and they were of the most blatant blue I have ever
beheld. Old Mr. Steele, with his jovial rubicund face, his flowing
white beard, and his bright blue umbrella, was a species of walking
tricolour flag.

Schoolboys worship a successful athlete. There was a very pleasant
mathematical master named Tosswill, always known as "Tosher," who at
that time held the record for a broad jump, he having cleared, when
jumping for Oxford, twenty-two and a half feet. That record has long
since been beaten. Should one be walking with another boy when passing
"Tosher," he was almost certain to say, "You know that Tosher holds the
record for broad jumps. Twenty-two and a half feet; he must be an
awfully decent chap!" Tosswill had the knack of devising ingenious
punishments. I was "up" to him for mathematics, and, with my hopelessly
non-mathematical mind, I must have been a great trial to him. At that
time I was playing the euphonium in the school brass band, an
instrument which afforded great joy to its exponents, for in most
military marches the solo in the "trio" falls to the euphonium, though
I fancy that I evoked the most horrible sounds from my big brass
instrument. To play a brass instrument with any degree of precision, it
is first necessary to acquire a "lip"--that is to say, the centre of
the lip covered by the mouthpiece must harden and thicken before "open
notes" can be sounded accurately. To "get a lip" quickly, I always
carried my mouthpiece in my pocket, and blew noiselessly into it
perpetually, even in school. Tosher had noticed this. One day my
algebra paper was even worse than usual. With the best intentions in
the world to master this intricate branch of knowledge, algebra
conveyed nothing whatever to my brain. To state that A + b = xy, seemed
to me the assertion of a palpable and self-evident falsehood. After
looking through my paper, Tosher called me up. "Your algebra is quite
hopeless, Hamilton. You will write me out a Georgic. No; on second
thoughts, as you seem to like your brass instrument, you shall bring it
up to my house every morning for ten days, and as the clock strikes
seven, you shall play me "Home, Sweet Home" under my window."
Accordingly every morning for ten days I trudged through the High
Street of Harrow with my big brass instrument under my arm, and as
seven rang out from the school clock, I commenced my extremely
lugubrious rendering of "Home, Sweet Home," on the euphonium, to a
scoffing and entirely unsympathetic audience of errand-boys and early
loafers, until Tosher's soap-lathered face nodded dismissal from the
window.

The school songs play a great part in Harrow life. Generation after
generation of boys have sung these songs, and they form a most potent
bond of union between Harrovians of all ages, for their words and music
are as familiar to the old Harrovian of sixty as to the present
Harrovian of sixteen.

Most of these songs are due to the genius of two men, Edward Bowen and
John Farmer. Like Gilbert and Sullivan, neither of these would, I
think, have risen to his full height without the aid of the other.
Farmer had an inexhaustible flow of facile melody at his command,
always tuneful, sometimes almost inspired. In addition to the published
songs, he was continually throwing off musical settings to topical
verse, written for some special occasion. These were invariably bright
and catchy, and I am sorry that Farmer considered them of too ephemeral
a nature to be worth preserving. "Racquets," in particular, had a
delightfully ear-tickling refrain. Bowen's words are a little unequal
at times, but at his best he is very hard to beat.

I had organ lessons from Farmer, and as I liked him extremely, I was
continually at his house. I enjoyed seeing him covering sheets of music
paper with rapid notation, and then humming the newly born product of
his musical imagination. As I had a fairly good treble voice, and could
read a part easily, Farmer often selected me to try one of his new
compositions at "house-singing," where the boys formed an exceedingly
critical audience. Either the new song was approved of, or it was
received in chilling silence. Farmer in moments of excitement perspired
more than any human being I have ever seen. Going to his house one
afternoon, I found him bathed in perspiration, writing away for dear
life. He motioned me to remain silent, and went on writing. Presently
he jumped up, and exclaimed triumphantly, "I have got it! I have got it
at last!" He then showed me the words he was setting to music. They
began:

    "Forty years on, when afar and asunder,
    Parted are those who are singing to-day."

"I wrote another tune to it first," explained Farmer, "a bright tune, a
regular bell-tinkle" (his invariable expression for a catchy tune),
"but Bowen's words are too fine for that. They want something
hymn-like, something grand, and now I've found it. Listen!" and Farmer
played me that majestic, stately melody which has since been heard in
every country and in every corner of the globe, wherever two old
Harrovians have come together. Some people may recall how, during the
Boer War, "Forty years on" was sung by two mortally wounded Harrovians
on the top of Spion Kop just before they died.

To my great regret my voice had broken then, else it is quite possible
that Farmer might have selected me to sing "Forty years on" for the
very first time. As it was, that honour fell to a boy named A.M.
Wilkinson, who had a remarkably sweet voice.

John Farmer's eccentricities were, I think, all assumed. He thought
they helped him to manage the boys. I sang in the chapel choir, and he
circulated the quaintest little notes amongst us, telling us how he
wished the Psalms sung. "Psalm 136, quite gaily and cheerfully; Psalm
137, very slowly and sorrowfully; Psalm 138, real merry bell-tinkle,
with plenty of organ.--J. F."

Long after I had left, Farmer continued to pour out a ceaseless flow of
school songs. Of course they varied in merit, but in some, such as
"Raleigh," and "Five Hundred Faces," he managed to touch some subtle
chord of sympathy that makes them very dear to those who heard them in
their youth. After Farmer left Harrow for Oxford, his successor, Eaton
Faning, worthily continued the traditions. All Eaton Failing's songs
are melodious, but in two of them, "Here, sir!" and "Pray, charge your
glasses, gentlemen," he reaches far higher levels.

The late E.W. Howson's words to "Here, sir!" seem to strike exactly the
right note for boys. They are fine and virile, with underlying
sentiment, yet free from the faintest suspicion of mawkish
sentimentality. Two of the verses are worth quoting:

    "Is it nought--our long procession,
    Father, brother, friend, and son,
    As we step in quick succession,
    Cap and pass and hurry on?
    One and all,
    At the call,
    Cap and pass and hurry on?
    Here, sir! Here, sir!" etc.

    "So to-day--and oh! if ever
    Duty's voice is ringing clear,
    Bidding men to brave endeavour,
    Be our answer, 'We are here!'
    Come what will,
    Good or ill,
    We will answer, 'We are here!'
    Here, sir! Here, sir!" etc.

The allusion is, of course, to "Bill," the Harrow term for the
roll-call. These lines, for me, embody all that is best in the
so-called "Public School spirit."

In my time the distant view from the chapel terrace was exceedingly
beautiful, whilst the immediate foreground was uncompromisingly ugly. A
vegetable garden then covered the space where now the steps of the
"Slopes" run down through lawns and shrubberies, and rows of
utilitarian cabbages and potatoes extended right up to the terrace
wall. But beyond this prosaic display of kitchen-stuff, in summer-time
an unbroken sea of green extended to the horizon, dotted with such
splendid oaks as only a heavy clay soil can produce. London, instead of
being ten miles off, might have been a hundred miles distant. Now, for
fifty years London, Cobbett's "monstrous wen," has been throwing her
tentative feelers into the green Harrow country. Already pioneer
tentacles of red-brick houses are creeping over the fields, and before
long the rural surroundings will have vanished beyond repair.

"Ducker," the Harrow bathing-place, has had scant justice done to it.
It is a most attractive spot, standing demurely isolated amidst its
encircling fringe of fine elms, and jealously guarded by a high wooden
palisade, No unauthorised person can penetrate into "Ducker"; in
summer-time it is the boys' own domain. The long tiled pool stretches
in sweeping curves for 250 feet under the great elms, a splashing
fountain at one end, its far extremity gay with lawns and flower-beds.
I can conceive of nothing more typical of the exuberant joie-de-vivre
of youth than the sight of Ducker on a warm summer evening when the
place is ringing with the shouts and laughter of some four hundred
boys, all naked as when they were born, swimming, diving, ducking each
other, splashing and rollicking in the water, whilst others stretched
out on the grass, puris naturalibus, are basking in the sun, or
regaling themselves on buns and cocoa. The whole place is vibrant with
the intense zest the young feel in life, and with the whole-hearted
powers of enjoyment of boyhood. A school-song set to a captivating
waltz-lilt record the charms of Ducker. One verse of it,

    "Oh! the effervescing tingle,
    How it rushes in the veins!
    Till the water seems to mingle
    With the pulses and the brains,"

exactly expresses the reason why, as a boy, I loved Ducker so.

Unfortunately, I never played cricket for Harrow at "Lords," as my two
brothers George and Ernest did. My youngest brother would, I think,
have made a great name for himself as a cricketer, had not the fairies
endowed him at his birth with a fatal facility for doing everything
easily. As the result of this versatility, his ambitions were
continually changing. He accordingly abandoned cricket for steeplechase
riding, at which he distinguished himself until politics ousted
steeplechase riding. After some years, politics gave place to golf and
music, which were in their turn supplanted by photography. He then
tried writing a few novels, and very successful some of them were,
until it finally dawned on him that his real vocation in life was that
of a historian. My brother was naturally frequently rallied by his
family on his inconstancy of purpose, but he pleaded in extenuation
that versatility had very marked charms of its own. He produced one day
a copy of verses, written in the Gilbertian metre, to illustrate his
mental attitude, and they strike me as so neatly worded, that I will
reproduce them in full.

    "THE CURSE OF VERSATILITY"

    "It is possible the student of Political Economy
    Might otherwise have cultivated Fame,
    And the Scientist whose energies are given to Astronomy
    May sacrifice a literary name.
    In the Royal Academician may be buried a facility
    For prosecuting Chemical Research,
    But he knows that if he truckles to the Curse of Versatility,
    Competitors will leave him in the lurch.

    "If an eminent physician should develop a proclivity
    For singing on the operatic stage,
    He will find that though his patients may apparently forgive
      it, he
    Will temporal'ly cease to be the rage,
    And the lawyer who depreciates his logical ability
    And covets a poetical renown,
    Will discover on his Circuit that the Curse of Versatility
    Has limited the office of his gown.

    "The costermonger yonder, if he had the opportunity,
    Might rival the political career
    Of the orator who poses as the pride of the community,
    The Radical Hereditary Peer.
    And the genius who fattens on a chronic inability
    To widen the horizon of his brain,
    May be stupider than others whom the Curse of Versatility
    Has fettered with a mediocre chain.

    "Should a Civil Servant woo the panegyrics of Society,
    And hanker after posthumous applause,
    It MAY happen that possession of a prodigal variety
    Of talents will invalidate his cause.
    He must learn to put a tether on his cerebral agility,
    And focus all his energies of aim
    On ONE isolated idol, or the Curse of Versatility
    Will drag him from the pinnacle of Fame.

    "Though the Curse may be upon us, and condemn us for Eternity
    To jostle with the ordinary horde;
    Though we grovel at the shrine of the professional fraternity
    Who harp upon one solitary chord;
    Still...we face the situation with an imperturbability
    Of spirit, from the knowledge that we owe
    To the witchery that lingers in the Curse of Versatility
    The balance of our happiness below."

Of course, to some temperaments variety will appeal; whilst others
revel in monotony. The latter are like a District Railway train, going
perpetually round and round the same Inner Circle. As far as my
experience goes, the former are the more interesting people to meet.

To persons of my time of life, the last verse of "Forty years on" has a
tendency to linger in the memory. It runs--

    "Forty years on, growing older and older,
    Shorter in wind, as in memory long,
    Feeble of foot, and rheumatic of shoulder,
    What will it help you that once you were strong?"

Although it is now fifty, instead of "forty years on," I indignantly
disclaim the "feeble of foot," whilst reluctantly pleading guilty to
"rheumatic of shoulder." It is common to most people, as they advance
in life, to note with a sorrowful satisfaction the gradual decay of the
physical powers of their contemporaries, though they always seem to
imagine that they themselves have retained all their pristine vigour,
and have successfully resisted every assault of Time's battering-ram.
The particular sentiment described in German as "Schadenfreude,"
"pleasure over another's troubles" (how characteristic it is that there
should be no equivalent in any other language for this peculiarly
Teutonic emotion!), makes but little appeal to the average Briton
except where questions of age and of failing powers come into play, and
obviously this only applies to men: no lady ever grows old for those
who are really fond of her; one always sees her as one likes best to
think of her.

I have already divulged one family secret, so I will reveal another.
Some few years ago my three eldest brothers were dining together. Each
of them professed deep concern at the palpable signs of physical decay
which he detected in his brethren, whilst congratulating himself on
remaining untouched by advancing years. The dispute became acrimonious
to a degree; the grossest personalities were freely bandied about. At
length it was decided to put the matter to a practical test, and it was
agreed (I tell this in the strictest confidence) that the three
brothers should run a hundred yards race in the street then and there.
Accordingly, a nephew of mine paced one hundred yards in Montagu
Street, Portman Square, and stood immovable as winning-post. The
Chairman of the British South African Chartered Company, the Chairman
of the Great Eastern Railway Company, and the Secretary of State for
India took up their positions in the street and started. The Chairman
of the Great Eastern romped home. We are all of us creatures of our
environment, and we may become unconsciously coloured by that
environment; as the Great Eastern Railway has always adopted a go-ahead
policy, it is possible that some particle of the momentum which would
naturally result from this may have been subconsciously absorbed by the
Chairman, thus giving him an unfair advantage over his brothers. It is
unusual for a Duke, a Chairman of an important Railway Company, and a
Secretary of State to run races in a London street at ten o'clock at
night, especially when the three of them were long past their sixtieth
year, but I feel certain that my confidence about this little episode
will be respected.

I fear that this habit of running races late in life may be a family
failing. During my father's second tenure of office as Lord-Lieutenant
of Ireland, he was still an enthusiastic cricketer, and played
regularly in the Viceregal team in spite of his sixty-four years. The
Rev. Dr. Mahaffy, Professor of Ancient History at Trinity College,
Dublin, also played for the Viceregal Lodge in his capacity of Chaplain
to the Viceroy. Dr. Mahaffy, though a fine bowler, was the worst runner
I have ever seen. He waddled and paddled slowly over the ground like a
duck, with his feet turned outwards, exactly as that uninteresting fowl
moves. My father frequently rallied Dr. Mahaffy on his defective
locomotive powers, and finally challenged him to a two hundred yards
race. My father being sixty-four years old, and Dr. Mahaffy only
thirty-six, it was agreed that the Professor should be handicapped by
wearing cricket-pads, and by carrying a cricket bat. I was present at
the race, which came off in the gardens of the Viceregal Lodge, before
quite a number of people. My father won with the utmost ease, to the
delirious joy of the two policemen on duty, who had never before seen a
Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland racing a Professor of Trinity College.

I myself must plead guilty to having entered for a "Veterans' Race" two
years ago, at the age of sixty-one, at some Sunday School sports in
Ireland. I ran against a butler, a gardener, two foremen-mechanics, and
four farmers, but only achieved second place, and that at the price of
a sprained tendon, so possibly the "feeble of foot" of the song really
is applicable to me after all. The butler, who won, started off with
the lead and kept it, though one would naturally have expected a butler
to run a "waiting" race.

I was at Harrow with the Duke of Aosta, brother of the beautiful Queen
Margherita of Italy. H. R. H. sported a full curly yellow beard at the
age of sixteen, a somewhat unusual adornment for an English schoolboy.
When I accompanied my father's special Mission to Rome in 1878, at a
luncheon at the Quirinal Palace, Queen Margherita alluded to her
brother having been at Harrow, and added, "I am told that Harrow is the
best school in England." The Harrovians present, including my father,
my brother Claud, myself, the late Lord Bradford, and my brother-in-law
the late Lord Mount Edgcumbe, welcomed this indisputable proposition
warmly--nay, enthusiastically. The Etonians who were there, Sir
Augustus Paget, then British Ambassador in Rome, the late Lord
Northampton, and others, contravened her Majesty's obviously true
statement with great heat, quite oblivious of the fact that it is
opposed to all etiquette to contradict a Crowned Head. The dispute
engendered considerable heat on either side; the walls of that hall in
the Quirinal rang with our angered protests, until the Italians present
became quite alarmed. Our discussion having taken place in English,
they had been unable to follow it, and they felt the gravest
apprehensions as to the plot the foreigners were evidently hatching.
When told that we were merely discussing the rival merits of two
schools in England, they were more than ever confirmed in their opinion
that all English people were hopelessly mad.

To one like myself, to whom it has fallen to visit almost every country
on the face of the globe, there is always a tinge of melancholy in
revisiting the familiar High Street of Harrow. It is like returning to
the starting-point at the conclusion of a long race. The externals
remain unchanged. Outwardly, the New Schools, the Chapel, the Vaughan
Library, and the Head-Master's House all wear exactly the same aspect
that they bore half a century ago. They have not changed, and the
ever-renewed stream of young life flows through the place as joyously
as it did fifty years ago. But....

    "Oh, the great days in the distance enchanted,
    Days of fresh air, in the rain and the sun."

At times the imagination is apt to play tricks and to set back the
hands of the clock, until one pictures oneself again in a short jacket
and Eton collar, going up to school, with a pile of books hugged under
the left arm, and the intervening half-century wiped out. But, as they
would put it in Ireland, these lucky, fresh-faced youngsters of to-day
have their futures in front of them, not behind them. Then it is that
Howson's words, wedded to John Farmer's haunting refrain, come back to
the mind--

    "Yet the time may come as the years go by,
    When your heart will thrill
    At the thought of 'The Hill'
    And the day that you came, so strange and shy."



CHAPTER V


Mme. Ducros--A Southern French country town--"Tartarin de
Tarascon"--His prototypes at Nyons--M. Sisteron the roysterer--The
Southern French--An octogenarian pesteur--French
industry--"Bone-shakers"--A wonderful
"Cordon-bleu"--"Slop-basin"--French legal procedure--The
bons-vivants--The merry French judges--La gaiete francaise--Delightful
excursions--Some sleepy old towns--Orange and Avignon--M. Thiers'
ingenious cousin--Possibilities--French political situation in
1874--The Comte de Chambord--Some French characteristics--High
intellectual level--Three days in a Trappist Monastery--Details of life
there--The Arian heresy--Silkworm culture--Tendencies of French to
complicate details--Some examples--Cicadas in London.


As it had already been settled that I was to enter the Diplomatic
Service, my father very wisely determined that I should leave Harrow as
soon as I was seventeen to go to France, in order to learn French
thoroughly. As he pointed out, it would take three years at least to
become proficient in French and German, and it would be as well to
begin at once.

The French tutor selected for me enjoyed a great reputation at that
time. Oddly enough, she was a woman, but it will be gathered that she
was quite an exceptional woman, when I say that she had for years ruled
four unruly British cubs, varying in age from seventeen to twenty, with
an absolute rod of iron. Mme. Ducros was the wife of a French judge,
she spoke English perfectly, and must have been in her youth a
wonderfully good-looking woman. She was very tall, and still adhered to
the dress and headdress of the "sixties," wearing little bunches of
curls over each ear--a becoming fashion, even if rather reminiscent of
a spaniel.

The Ducros lived at Nyons in the south of France. Nyons lay twenty-five
miles east of the main line from Paris to Marseilles, and could only be
reached by diligence. I think that I can safely say that no foreigner
(with the exception of the Ducros' pupils) had ever set foot in Nyons,
for the place was quite unknown, and there was nothing to draw
strangers there. It was an extraordinarily attractive spot, lying in a
little circular cup of a valley of the Dauphine Alps, through which a
brawling river had bored its way. Nyons was celebrated for its wine,
its olive oil, its silk, and its truffles, all of them superlatively
good. The ancient little walled town, basking in this sun-trap of a
valley, stood out ochre-coloured against the silver-grey background of
olive trees, whilst the jagged profiles of the encircling hills were
always mistily blue, with that intense blue of which the Provence hills
seem alone to have the secret. So few English people knew anything
about the conditions of life in a little out-of-the-way French
provincial town, where no foreigners have ever set foot, that it may be
worth while saying something about them. In the first place, it must
have been deadly dull for the inhabitants, for nothing whatever
happened there. Even the familiar "tea and tennis," the stereotyped
mild dissipation of little English towns, was quite unknown. There was
no entertaining of any sort, beyond the formal visits the ladies were
perpetually paying each other. The Ducros alone, occasionally, asking
their legal friends to dinner, invitations accepted with the utmost
enthusiasm, for the culinary genius who presided over the Ducros'
kitchen (M. Dueros' own sister) deservedly enjoyed an enormous local
reputation.

Most people must be familiar with Alphonse Daudet's immortal work,
Tartarin de Tarascon, in which the typical "Meridional" of Southern
France is portrayed with such unerring exactitude that Daudet himself,
after writing the book, was never able to set foot in Tarascon again.

We had a cercle in Nyons, in the Place Napoleon (re-christened Place de
la Republique after September 4, 1870), housed in three rather stately,
sparsely furnished, eighteenth-century rooms. Here, with the exception
of Tartarin himself, the counterparts of all Daudet's characters were
to be found. "Le Capitaine Bravida" was represented by Colonel Olivier,
a fiercely moustached and imperialled Crimean veteran, who perpetually
breathed fire and swords on any potential enemy of France. "Costecalde"
found his prototype in M. Sichap, who, although he had in all
probability never fired off a gun in his life, could never see a tame
pigeon, or even a sparrow flying over him, without instantly putting
his walking-stick to his shoulder and loudly ejaculating, "Pan, pan,"
which was intended to counterfeit the firing of both barrels of a gun.
I once asked M. Sichap why so excellent a shot as he (with a
walking-stick) invariably missed his bird with his first barrel, and
only brought him down with his second. This was quite a new light to M.
Sichap, who had hithered considered the double "Pan, pan," an
indispensable adjunct to the pantomime of firing a gun; much as my
young brother and I had once imagined "Ug, ug," an obligatory
commencement to any remark made by a Red Indian "brave."

In so remote a place as Nyons, over four hundred miles from the
capital, the glamour of Paris exercised a magical attraction. The few
inhabitants of Nyons who had ever visited Paris, or even merely passed
through it, were never quite as other people, some little remnant of an
aureole encircled them. The dowdy little wife of M. Pelissier, who had
first seen the light in some grubby suburb of Paris, either
Levallois-Perret or Clichy, held an immense position in Nyons on the
strength of being "une vraie Parisienne," and most questions of taste
were referred to her. M. Sisteron, the collector of taxes, himself a
native of Nyons, had twenty years before gone to Paris on business, and
spent four days there. There were the darkest rumours current in Nyons,
to the effect that M. Sisteron had spent these four days in a whirl of
the most frantic and abandoned dissipation. It was popularly supposed
that these four days in Paris, twenty years ago, had so completely
unsettled M. Sisteron that life in Nyons had lost all zest for him. He
was perpetually hungering for the delirious joys of the metropolis;
even the collection of taxes no longer afforded him the faintest
gratification. Every inhabitant of Nyons was secretly proud of being
able to claim so dare-devil a roysterer as a fellow-townsman. The
memory of those rumored four hectic days in Paris clung round him like
a halo; it became almost a pleasure to pay taxes to so celebrated a
character. M. Sisteron was short, paunchy, bald, and bearded. He was a
model husband and a pattern as a father. I am persuaded that he had
spent those four days in Paris in the most blameless and innocuous
fashion, living in the cheapest hotel he could find, and, after the
manner of the people of Nyons, never spending one unnecessary franc.
Still, the legend of his lurid four days, and of the amount of
champagne he had consumed during them, persisted. In moments of
expansion, his intimate friends would dig him in the ribs, remembering
those four feverish days, with a facetious, "Ah! vieux polisson de
Sisteron, va! Nous autres, nous n'avons pas fait des farces a Paris
dans notre jeunesse!" to M. Sisteron's unbounded delight. It was in the
genuine spirit of Tartarin de Tarascon, with all the mutual
make-believe on both sides. His wife, Mme. Sisteron, was fond of
assuring her friends that she owed her excellent health to the fact
that she invariably took a bath twice a year, whether she required it
or not.

The other members of the cercle were also mostly short, tubby,
black-bearded, and olive-complexioned. When not engaged in playing
"manille" for infinitesimal points, they would all shout and
gesticulate violently, as only Southern Frenchmen can, relapsing as the
discussion grew more heated into their native Provencal, for though
Nyons is geographically in Dauphine, climatically and racially it is in
Provence. In Southern France the "Langue d'Oil," the literary language
of Paris and Northern France, has never succeeded in ousting the
"Langue d'Oc," the language of the Troubadours. From hearing so much
Provencal talked round me, I could not help picking up some of it. It
was years before I could rid myself of the habit of inquiring quezaco?
instead of "qu'est ce que c'est?" and of substituting for "Comment cela
va-t-il?" the Provencal Commoun as? I found, too, that it was unusual
elsewhere to address people in our Nyons fashion as "Te, mon bon!"

Those swarthy, amply waistcoated, voluble little men were really very
good fellows in spite of their excitability and torrents of talk.

The Southern Frenchmen divide Europe into the "Nord" and the "Midi."
The "Nord" is hardly worth talking about, the sun never really shines
there, and no garlic or oil is used in cookery in those benighted
regions. The town of Lyons is considered to be in the "Nord," although
we should consider it well in the south of France. To the curious in
such matters, it may be pointed out that the line of demarcation
between "Nord" and "Midi" is perfectly well defined. In travelling from
Paris to Marseilles, between Valence and Montelimar, the observer will
note that quite abruptly the type of house changes. In place of the
high-pitched roof of Northern Europe the farm-houses suddenly assume
flat roofs of fluted tiles, with projecting eaves, after the Italian
fashion; at the same time the grey-green olive trees put in a first
appearance. Then you are in the "Midi," and any black-bearded,
olive-complexioned, stumpy little men in the carriage will give a sigh
of relief, for now, at last, the sun will begin to shine.

Nyons had been for two hundred years a Huguenot stronghold, so for a
French town an unusual proportion of its inhabitants were Protestants,
and there was, oddly enough, a colony of French Wesleyans there.

M. Ducros' father had been the Protestant pasteur of Nyons for
forty-four years. He was eighty-six years old, and on week-days the old
gentleman dozed in the sun all day, and was quite senile and gaga. On
Sundays, no sooner had he ascended the pulpit than his faculties seemed
to return to him, and he would preach interminable but perfectly
coherent sermons with a vigour astonishing in so old a man, only to
relapse into childishness again on returning home, and to remain senile
till the following Sunday.

The Ducros lived in a large farm-house on the outskirts of the town. It
was a farm without any livestock, for there is no grass whatever in
that part of France, and consequently no pasture for cattle or sheep.
Every one in Nyons kept goats for milk, and, quaintly enough, they fed
them on the dried mulberry leaves the silkworms had left over. For
every one reared silkworms too, a most lucrative industry. The French
speak of "making" silkworms (faire des vers-a-soie). Lucrative as it
is, it would never succeed in England even if the white mulberry could
be induced to grow, for successful silkworm rearing demands such
continual watchfulness and meticulous attention as only French people
can give; English people "couldn't be bothered" to expend such minute
care on anything they were doing.

Every foot of the Ducros' property was carefully cultivated, with
vineyards above on the terraced hillside, olive-yards below, and
mulberry trees on the lower levels. Our black mulberry, with its
cloying, luscious fruit, is not the sort used for silkworms; it is the
white mulberry, which does not fruit, that these clever little
alchemists transmute into glossy, profitable cocoons of silk. The
Ducros made their own olive-oil, and their own admirable wine.

In that sun-drenched cup amongst the hills, roses bloomed all the year
round. I always see Nyons with my inner eyes from the terrace in front
of the house, the air fragrant with roses, and the soothing gurgle of
the fountain below in my ears as it splashed melodiously into its stone
reservoir, the little town standing out a vivid yellow against the
silver background of olive trees, and the fantastic outlines of the
surrounding hills steeped in that wonderful deep Provencal blue. In
spite of its dullness, I and the three other pupils liked the place. We
all grew very fond of the charming Ducros family, we appreciated the
wonderful beauty of the little spot, we climbed all the hills, and,
above all, we had each hired a velocipede. Not a bicycle (except that
it certainly had two wheels); not a so-called "ordinary," as those
machines with one immensely high, shining, nickel-plated wheel and a
little dwarf brother following it, were for some inexplicable reason
termed; but an original antediluvian velocipede, a genuine
"bone-shaker": a clumsy contrivance with two high wooden wheels of
equal height, and direct action. Even on the level they required an
immense amount of muscle to drive them along, and up the smallest hill
every ounce of available strength had to be brought into play. They did
not steer well, were very difficult to get on and off, and gave us some
awful falls; still we got an immense amount of fun out of them, and we
scoured all the surrounding country on them, until all four of us
developed gigantic calves which would have done credit to any
coal-heaver.

M. Ducros' sister was a brilliant culinary genius such as is only found
in France. We were given truffled omelets, wonderful salads of eggs,
anchovies, and tunny-fish, ducks with oranges and olives, and other
delicacies of the Provencal cuisine prepared by a consummate artist,
and those four English cubs termed them all "muck," and clamoured for
plain roast mutton and boiled potatoes. It really was a case of casting
pearls before swine! Those ignorant hobbledehoys actually turned up
their noses at the admirable "Cotes du Rhone" wine, and begged for
beer. In justice I must add that we were none of us used to truffles or
olives, nor to the oil which replaces butter in Provencal cookery.
Mlle. Louise, the sister, was pained, but not surprised. She had never
left Nyons, and, from her experience of a long string of English
pupils, was convinced that all Englishmen were savages. They inhabited
an island enveloped in dense fog from year's end to year's end. They
had never seen the sun, and habitually lived on half-raw "rosbif." It
was only natural that such young barbarians should fail to appreciate
the cookery of so celebrated a cordon-bleu, which term, I may add, is
only applicable to a woman-cook, and can never be used of a man. This
truly admirable woman made us terrines of truffled foie-gras such as
even Strasburg could not surpass, and gave them to us for breakfast. I
blush to own that those four benighted boys asked for eggs and bacon
instead.

Although M. Ducros had heard English talked around him for so many
years, he had all the average Frenchman's difficulty in assimilating
any foreign language. His knowledge of our tongue was confined to one
word only, and that a most curiously chosen word. "Slop-basin" was the
beginning and end of his knowledge of the English language. M. Ducros
used his one word of English only in moments of great elation. Should,
for instance, his sister Mlle. Louise have surpassed herself in the
kitchen, M. Ducros, after tasting her chef d'oeuvre, would joyously
ejaculate, "Slop-basin!" several times over. It was understood in his
family that "slop-basin" always indicated that the master of the house
was in an extremely contented frame of mind.

The judicial system of France is not as concentrated as ours. Every
Sous-prefecture in France has its local Civil Court with a Presiding
Judge, an Assistant Judge, and a "Substitut." The latter, in small
towns, is the substitute for the Procureur de la Republique, or Public
Prosecutor. The legal profession in France is far more "clannish" than
with us, for lawyers have always played a great part in the history of
France. The so-called "Parlements" (not to be confounded with our
Parliament) had had, up to the time of the French Revolution, very
large powers indeed. They were originally Supreme Courts of Justice,
but by the fifteenth century they could not only make, on their own
account, regulations having the force of laws, but had acquired
independent administrative powers. Originally the "Parlement de Paris"
stood alone, but as time went on, in addition to this, thirteen or
fourteen local "Parlements" administered France. After the Revolution,
the term was only applied to Supreme Courts, without administrative
powers. M. Ducros was Assistant Judge of the Nyons Tribunal, and the
Ducros were rather fond of insisting that they belonged to the old
noblesse de robe.

As a child I could speak French as easily as English, and even after
eight years of French lessons at school, my French was still tucked
away in some corner of my head; but I had, of course, only a child's
vocabulary, sufficient for a child's simple wants. Under Madame Ducros'
skilful tuition I soon began to acquire an adult vocabulary, and it
became no effort to me whatever to talk.

The French judicial system seems to demand perpetual judicial inquiries
(enquetes) in little country places. M. Ducros invited me to accompany
him, the President, and the "Substitut" on one of these enquetes, and
these three, with their tremendous spirits, their perpetual jokes, and
above all with their delightful gaiete francaise, amused me so
enormously, that I jumped at a second invitation. So it came about in
time, that I invariably accompanied them, and when we started in the
shabby old one-horse cabriolet soon after 7 a.m., "notre ami le petit
Angliche" was always perched on the box. My suspicions may be
unfounded, but I somehow think that these enquetes were conducted not
so much on account of legal exigencies as for the gastronomic
possibilities at the end of the journey, for all our inquiries were
made in little towns celebrated for some local chef. These three merry
bons-vivants revelled in the pleasures of the table, and on our arrival
at our destinations, before the day's work was entered upon, there were
anxious and even heated discussions with "Papa Charron," "Pere Vinay,"
or whatever the name of the local artist might be, as to the
comparative merits of truffles or olives as an accompaniment to a
filet, or the rival claims of mushrooms or tunny-fish as a worthy
lining of an omelet. The legal business being all disposed of by two
o'clock, we four would approach the great ceremony of the day, the
midday dinner, with tense expectancy. The President could never keep
out of the kitchen, from which he returned with most assuring reports:
"Cette fois ca y est, mes amis," he would jubilantly exclaim, rubbing
his hands, and even "Papa Charron" himself bearing in the first dish,
his face scorched scarlet from his cooking-stove, would confidently
aver that "MM. les juges seront contents aujourd'hui."

The crowning seal of approbation was always put on by M. Ducros, who,
after tasting the masterpiece, would cry exultantly, "Bravo!
Slop-basin! Slop-basin!" should it fulfil his expectations. I have
previously explained that M. Ducros' solitary word of English expressed
supreme satisfaction, whilst his friends looked on, with unconcealed
admiration at their colleague's linguistic powers. It sounds like a
record of three gormandising middle-aged men; but it was not quite
that, though, like most French people, they appreciated artistic
cookery. It is impossible for me to convey in words the charm of that
delightful gaiete francaise, especially amongst southern Frenchmen. It
bubbles up as spontaneously as the sparkle of champagne; they were all
as merry as children, full of little quips and jokes, and plays upon
words. Our English "pun" is a clumsy thing compared to the finesse of a
neatly-turned French calembour. They all three, too, had an
inexhaustible supply of those peculiarly French pleasantries known as
petites gauloiseries. I know that I have never laughed so much in my
life. It is only southern Frenchmen who can preserve this unquenchable
torrent of animal spirits into middle life. I was only seventeen; they
were from twenty to thirty years my seniors, yet I do not think that we
mutually bored each other the least. They did not need the stimulus of
alcohol to aid this flow of spirits, for, like most Frenchmen of that
class, they were very abstemious, although the "Patron" always produced
for us "un bon vieux vin de derriere les fagots," or "un joli petit vin
qui fait rire." It was sheer "joie de-vivre" stimulated by the good
food and that spontaneous gaiete francaise which appeals so
irresistibly to me. The "Substitut" always preserved a rather
deferential attitude before the President and M. Ducros, for they
belonged to the magistrature assise, whilst he merely formed part of
the magistrature debout The French word magistrat is not the equivalent
of our magistrate, the French term for which is "Juge de Paix." A
magistrat means a Judge or a Public Prosecutor.

From being so much with the judges, I grew quite learned in French
legal terms, talked of the parquet (which means the Bar), and
invariably termed the grubby little Nyons law-court the Palais. I
rather fancy that I considered myself a sort of honorary member of the
French Bar. Strictly speaking, Palais only applies to a Court of Law;
old-fashioned Frenchmen always speak of the Chateau de Versailles, or
the Chateau de Fontainbleau, never of the Palais.

There was always plenty to see in these little southern towns whilst
the judges were at work. In one village there was a perfume factory,
where essential oils of sweet-scented geranium, verbena, lavender, and
thyme were distilled for the wholesale Paris perfumers; a fragrant
place, where every operation was carried on with that minute attention
to detail which the French carry into most things that they do, for,
unlike the inhabitants of an adjacent island, they consider that if a
thing is worth doing at all, it is worth taking trouble over.

In another village there was a wholesale dealer in silkworms' eggs,
imported direct from China. Besides the eggs, he had a host of Chinese
curios to dispose of, besides quaint little objects in everyday use in
China.

Above all there was Grignan, with its huge and woefully dilapidated
chateau, the home of Mme. de Sevigne's daughter, the Comtesse de
Grignan. It was to Grignan that this queen of letter-writers addressed
much of her correspondence to her adored daughter, between 1670 and
1695, and Mme. de Sevigne herself was frequently a visitor there.

Occasionally the judges, the Substitut, and I made excursions further
afield by diligence to Orange, Vaucluse, and Avignon, quite outside our
judicial orbit. Orange, a drowsy little spot, has still a splendid
Roman triumphal arch and a Roman theatre in the most perfect state of
preservation. Orange was once a little independent principality, and
gives its name to the Royal Family of Holland, the sister of the last
of the Princes of Orange having married the Count of Nassau, whence the
House of Orange-Nassau. Indirectly, sleepy little Orange has also given
its name to a widely-spread political and religious organisation of
some influence.

Vaucluse, most charming of places, in its narrow leafy valley,
surrounded by towering cliffs, is celebrated as having been the home of
Petrarch for sixteen years during the thirteen hundreds. We may hope
that his worshipped Laura sometimes brightened his home there with her
presence. The famous Fountain of Vaucluse rushes out from its cave a
full-grown river. It wastes no time in infant frivolities, but settles
down to work at once, turning a mill within two hundred yards of its
birthplace.

Avignon is another somnolent spot. The gigantic and gloomy Palace of
the Popes dominates the place, though it is far more like a fortress
than a palace. Here the Popes lived from 1309 to 1377 during their
enforced abandonment of Rome, and Avignon remained part of the Papal
dominions until the French Revolution. The President took less interest
in the Palace of the Popes than he did in a famous cook at one of the
Avignon hotels. He could hardly recall some of the plats of this noted
artist without displaying signs of deep emotion. These ancient towns on
the banks of the swift-rushing green Rhone seemed to me to be
perpetually dozing in the warm sun, like old men, dreaming of their
historic and varied past since the days of the Romans.

My French legal friends were much exercised by a recent decision of the
High Court. M. Thiers had been President of the Republic from 1870 to
1873. A distant cousin of his living in Marseilles, being in pecuniary
difficulties, had applied ineffectually to M. Thiers for assistance.
Whereupon the resourceful lady had opened a restaurant in Marseilles,
and had had painted over the house-front in gigantic letters,
"Restaurant tenu par la cousine de Monsieur Thiers." She was proceeded
against for bringing the Head of the State into contempt, was fined
heavily, and made to remove the offending inscription. My French
friends hotly contested the legality of this decision. They declared
that it was straining the sense of the particular Article of the Code
to make it applicable in such a case, and that it was illogical to
apply the law of Lese-majeste to the Head of a Republican State. The
President pertinently added that no evidence as to the quality of food
supplied in the restaurant had been taken. If bad, it might
unquestionably reflect injuriously on the Head of the State; if good,
on the other hand, in view of the admitted relationship of the
proprietress of the restaurant to him, it could only redound to M.
Thiers' credit. This opens up interesting possibilities. If
relationship to a prominent politician may be utilised for business
purposes, we may yet see in English watering-places the facades of
houses blazoned with huge inscriptions: "This Private Hotel is kept by
a fourth cousin of Lord Rose--," whilst facing it, gold lettering
proudly proclaims that "The Proprietress of this Establishment is a
distant relative of Mr. Ar--Bal--"; or, to impart variety, at the next
turning the public might perhaps be informed in gleaming capitals that
"The Cashier in this Hotel is connected by marriage with Mr. As---."
The idea really offers an unlimited field for private enterprise.

The political situation in France was very strained at the beginning of
1874. Marshal MacMahon had succeeded M. Thiers as President of the
Republic, and it was well known that the Marshal, as well as the
Royalist majority in the French Chamber, favoured the restoration of
the Bourbon Monarchy, represented by the Comte de Chambord, as head of
the elder branch. People of the type of M. Ducros, and of the President
of the Nyons Tribunal, viewed the possible return of a Legitimist
Bourbon Monarchy with the gravest apprehension. Given the character of
the Comte de Chambord, they felt it would be a purely reactionary
regime. Traditionally, the elder branch of the Bourbons were incapable
of learning anything, and equally incapable of forgetting anything.
These two shrewd lawyers had both been vigorous opponents of the
Bonapartist regime, but they pinned their faith on the Orleans branch,
inexplicably enough to me, considering the treacherous record of that
family. They never could mention the name of a member of the Orleans
family without adding, "Ah! les braves gens!" the very last epithet in
the world I should have dreamed of applying to them. All the
negotiations with the Comte de Chambord fell through, owing to his
obstinacy (to which I have referred earlier) in refusing to accept the
Tricolor as the national flag. Possibly pig-headed obstinacy; but in
these days of undisguised opportunism, it is rare to find a man who
deliberately refuses a throne on account of his convictions. I do not
think that the Comte de Chambord would have been a success in
present-day British politics. A crisis was averted by extending Marshal
MacMahon's tenure of the Presidency to seven years, the "Septennat," as
it was called. Before two years the Orleanists, who had always a keen
appreciation of the side on which their bread was buttered, "rallied"
to the Republic. I rather fancy that some question connected with the
return of the confiscated Orleans fortunes came into play here. The
adherents of the Comte de Chambord always spoke of him as Henri V. For
some reason (perhaps euphony) they were invariably known as "Henri
Quinquists." In the same way, the French people speak of the Emperor
Charles V. as "Charles Quint," never as "Charles Cinq."

My friends the Nyons lawyers were fond of alluding to themselves as
forming part of the bonne bourgeoisie. It is this bonne bourgeoisie who
form the backbone of France. Frugal, immensely industrious, cultured,
and with a very high standard of honour, they are far removed from the
frivolous, irresponsible types of French people to be seen at smart
watering-places, and they are less dominated by that inordinate love of
money which is an unpleasant element in the national character, and
obscures the good qualities of the hard-working French peasants, making
them grasping and avaricious.

It must be admitted that this class of the French bourgeoisie surveys
the world from rather a Chinese standpoint. The Celestial, as is well
known, considers all real civilisation confined to China. Every one
outside the bounds of the Middle Kingdom is a barbarian. This is rather
the view of the French bourgeois. He is convinced that all true
civilisation is centred in France, and that other countries are only
civilised in proportion as French influence has filtered through to
them. He will hardly admit that other countries can have an art and
literature of their own, especially should neither of them conform to
French standards. This is easily understood, for the average Frenchman
knows no language but his own, has never travelled, and has no
curiosity whatever about countries outside France. When, in addition,
it is remembered how paramount French literary and artistic influence
was during the greater portion of the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, and how universal the use of the French language was in
Northern Continental Europe amongst educated people, the point of view
becomes quite intelligible.

In spite of this, I enjoyed my excursions with these delightful French
lawyers quite enormously. The other pupils never accompanied us, for
they found it difficult to keep up a conversation in French.

The average intellectual level is unquestionably far higher in France
than in England, nor is it necessary to give, to a people accustomed
for generations to understand a demi-mot, the elaborate explanations
usually necessary in England when the conversation has got beyond the
mental standards of a child six years old. The French, too, are not
addicted to perpetual wool-gathering. Nor can I conceive of a
Frenchwoman endeavouring to make herself attractive by representing
herself as so hopelessly "vague" that she can never be trusted to
remember anything, or to avoid losing all her personal possessions.
Idiocy, whether genuine or feigned, does not appeal to the French
temperament. The would-be fascinating lady would most certainly be
referred to as "une dinde de premiere classe."

The French are the only thoroughly logical people in the world, and
their excessive development of the logical faculty leads them at times
into pitfalls. "Ils ont lesdefauts de leurs qualites." In this country
we have found out that systems, absolutely indefensible in theory, at
times work admirably well in practice, and give excellent results. No
Frenchman would ever admit that anything unjustifiable in theory could
possibly succeed in practice--"Ce n'est pas logique," he would object,
and there would be the end of it.

The Substitut informed me one day that he was making a "retreat" for
three days at the Monastery of La Trappe d'Aiguebelle, and asked me if
I would care to accompany him. To pass three days in a Trappist
Monastery certainly promised a novel experience, but I pointed out that
I was a Protestant, and that I could hardly expect the monks to welcome
me with open arms. He answered that he would explain matters, and that
the difference of religion would be overlooked. So off we started, and
after an interminable drive reached a huge, gaunt pile of buildings in
very arid surroundings. The "Hospice" where visitors were lodged stood
apart from the Monastery proper, the Chapel lying in between. It was
explained to me that I must observe the rule of absolute silence within
the building, and that I would be expected to be in bed by 8.15 p.m.
and to rise at 5 a.m. like the rest of the guests. It was further
conveyed to me that they hoped that I would see my way to attend Chapel
at 5.30 a.m., afterwards I should be free for the remainder of the day.
Talking and smoking were both permitted in the garden. I was given a
microscopic whitewashed cell, most beautifully clean, containing a very
small bed, one chair, a gas-jet, a prie-Dieu, a real human skull, and
nothing else whatever. We went to dinner in a great arched refectory,
where a monk, perched up in a high pulpit, read us Thomas a Kempis in a
droning monotone. Complete silence was observed. At La Trappe no meat
or butter is ever used, but we were given a most excellent dinner of
vegetable soup, fish, omelets, and artichokes dressed with oil,
accompanied by the monks' admirable home-grown wine. There were quite a
number of visitors making "retreats," and I had hard work keeping the
muscles of my face steady, as they made pantomimic signs to the
lay-brothers who waited on us, for more omelet or more wine. After
dinner the "Frere Hospitalier," a jolly, rotund little lay-brother, who
wore a black stole over his brown habit as a sign that he was allowed
to talk, drew me on one side in the garden. As I was a heretic (he put
it more politely) and had the day to myself, would I do him a favour?
He was hard put to it to find enough fish for all these guests; would I
catch him some trout in the streams in the forest? I asked for nothing
better, but I had no trout-rod with me. He produced a rod, SUCH a
trout-rod! A long bamboo with a piece of string tied to it! To fish for
trout with a worm was contrary to every tradition in which I had been
reared, but adaptability is a great thing, so with two turns of a spade
I got enough worms for the afternoon, and started off. The Foret
d'Aiguebelle is not a forest in our acceptation of the term, but an
endless series of little bare rocky hills, dotted with pines, and
fragrant with tufts of wild lavender, thyme and rosemary. It was
intersected with two rushing, beautifully clear streams. I cannot
conceive where all the water comes from in that arid land. In sun-baked
Nyons, water could be got anywhere by driving a tunnel into the parched
hillsides, when sooner or later an abundant spring would be tapped.
These French trout were either ridiculously unsophisticated, or else
very weary of life: they simply asked to be caught. I got quite a heavy
basket, to the great joy of the "Frere Hospitalier," and I got far more
next day. Though we had to rise at five, we got no breakfast till
eight, and a very curious breakfast it was. Every guest had a yard of
bread, and two saucers placed in front of him; one containing honey,
the other shelled walnuts. We dipped the walnuts in the honey, and ate
them with the bread, and excellent they were. In the place of coffee,
which was forbidden, we had hot milk boiled with borage to flavour it,
quite a pleasant beverage. The washing arrangements being primitive, I
waited until every one was safely occupied in Chapel for an hour and a
half, and then had a swim in the reservoir which supplied the monastery
with water, and can only trust that I did not dirty it much. I was
greatly disappointed with the singing in the severe, unadorned Chapel;
it was plainsong, without any organ or instrument. The effect of so
great a body of voices might have been imposing had not the intonation
(as kindly critics say at times of a debutante) been a little
uncertain. As Trappists never speak, one could understand their losing
their voices, but it seems curious that they should have lost their
ears as well, though possibly it was only the visitors who sang so
terribly out of tune.

I was taken all over the Monastery next day by the "Pere Hospitalier,"
who, like his brown-frocked lay-brother, wore a black stole over his
white habit, as a badge of office. With the exception of the fine
cloisters, there were no architectural features whatever about the
squat, massive pile of buildings. The modern chapel, studiously severe
in its details, bore the unmistakable imprint of Viollet-le-Duc's
soulless, mathematically correct Gothic. Personally, I think that
Viollet-le-Duc spoiled every ancient building in France which he
"restored." I was taken into the refectory to see the monks' dinners
already laid out for them. They consisted of nothing but bread and
salad, but with such vast quantities of each! Each monk had a yard-long
loaf of bread, a bottle of wine and an absolute stable-bucket of salad,
liberally dressed with oil and vinegar. The oil supplied the fat
necessary for nutrition, still it was a meagre enough dinner for men
who had been up since 3 a.m. and had done two hours' hard work in the
vegetable gardens. The "Pere Hospitalier" told me that not one scrap of
bread or lettuce would be left at the conclusion of the repast. The
immense austerity of the place impressed me very much. The monks all
slept on plank-beds, but they were not allowed to remain on these hard
resting-places after 3 a.m. Their "Rule" was certainly a very severe
one. I was told that the monks prepared Tincture of Arnica for
medicinal purposes in an adjoining factory, arnica growing wild
everywhere in the Forest, and that the sums realised by the sale of
this drug added materially to their revenues.

Next day both the Substitut and I were to be received by the Abbot. It
struck me as desirable that we should have our interviews separately,
for as the Substitut was making a "retreat," he might wish to say many
private things to the Abbot which he would not like me, a heretic, to
overhear. As soon as he had finished, I was ushered in alone to the
Abbot's parlour. I found the Abbot very dignified and very friendly,
but what possible subject of conversation could a Protestant youth of
seventeen find which would interest the Father Superior of a French
Monastery, presumably indifferent to everything that passed outside its
walls? Suddenly I had an inspiration: the Arian Heresy! We had had four
lessons on this interesting topic at Chittenden's five years earlier
(surely rather an advanced subject for little boys of twelve!), and
some of the details still stuck in my head. A brilliant idea! Soon we
were at it hammer and tongs; discussing Arius, Alexander, and
Athanasius; the Council of Nicaea, Hosius of Cordova, homo-ousion and
homoi-ousion; Eusebius of Nicomedia, and his namesake of Caesarea.

Without intending any disrespect to these two eminent Fathers of the
Church, the two Eusebius' always reminded me irresistibly of the two
Ajaxes of Offenbach's opera-bouffe. La Belle Helene, or, later on, of
the "Two Macs" of the music-hall stage of the "nineties." I blessed Mr.
Chittenden for having so thoughtfully provided me with conversational
small-change suitable for Abbots. The Abbot was, I think, a little
surprised at my theological lore. He asked me where I had acquired it,
and when I told him that it was at school, he presumed that I had been
at a seminary for youths destined for the priesthood, an idea which
would have greatly shocked the ultra-Evangelical Mr. Chittenden.

I was very glad that I had passed those three days at La Trappe, for it
gave one a glimpse into a wholly unsuspected world. The impression of
the tremendous severity with which the lives of the monks were
regulated, remained with me. The excellent monks made the most absurdly
small charges for our board and lodging. Years afterwards I spent a
night in an Orthodox Monastery in Russia, when I regretfully recalled
the scrupulous cleanliness of La Trappe. Never have I shared a couch
with so many uninvited guests, and never have I been so ruthlessly
devoured as in that Russian Monastery.

With June at Nyons, silkworm time arrived. Three old women, celebrated
for their skill in rearing silkworms, came down from the mountains, and
the magnanerie, as lofts devoted to silkworm culture are called, was
filled with huge trays fashioned with reeds. The old women had a very
strenuous fortnight or so, for silkworms demand immense care and
attention. The trays have to be perpetually cleaned out, and all stale
mulberry leaves removed, for the quality and quantity of the silk
depend on the most scrupulous cleanliness. To preserve an even
temperature, charcoal fires were lighted in the magnanerie, until the
little black caterpillars, having transformed themselves into repulsive
flabby white worms, these worms became obsessed with the desire to
increase the world's supply of silk, and to gratify them, twigs were
placed in the trays for them to spin their cocoons on. The cocoons
spun, they were all picked off, and baked in the public ovens of the
town, in order to kill the chrysalis inside. Nothing prettier can be
imagined than the streets of Nyons, with white sheets laid in front of
every house, each sheet heaped high with glittering, shimmering,
gleaming piles of silk-cocoons, varying in shade from palest
straw-colour to deep orange. If pleasant to the eye, they were less
grateful to the nose, for freshly baked cocoons have the most offensive
odour. The silk-buyers from Lyons then made their appearance, and these
shining heaps of gold thread were transformed into a more portable form
of gold, which found its way into the pockets of the inhabitants.

The peculiarly French capacity for taking infinite pains, of which a
good example is this silkworm culture, has its drawbacks, when carried
into administrative work. My friend M. David, the post-master of Nyons,
showed me his official instructions. They formed a volume as big as a
family Bible. It would have taken years to learn all these regulations.
The simplest operations were made enormously complicated. Let any one
compare the time required for registering a letter or a parcel in
England, with the time a similar operation in France will demand. M.
David showed me the lithographed sheet giving the special forms of
numerals, 1, 2, 3, and so on, which French postal officials are
required to make. These differ widely from the forms in general use.

I have my own suspicions that similar sheets are issued to the cashiers
in French restaurants. Personally, I can never read one single item in
the bill, much less the cost, and I can only gaze in hopeless
bewilderment at the long-tailed hieroglyphics, recalling a backward
child's first attempts at "pot-hooks."

The infinite capacity of the French for taking trouble, and their
minute attention to detail, tend towards unnecessary complications of
simple matters. Thus, on English railways we find two main types of
signals sufficient for our wants, whereas on French lines there are
five different main types of signal. On English lines we have two
secondary signals, against eight in France, all differing widely in
shape and appearance. Again, on a French locomotive the driver has far
more combinations at his command for efficient working under varying
conditions, than is the case in England. The trend of the national mind
is towards complicating details rather than simplifying them.

Delightful as was the winter climate of Nyons, that sun-scorched little
cup amongst the hills became a place of positive torment as the summer
advanced. The heat was absolutely unendurable. Day and night, thousands
of cicades (the cigales of the French) kept up their incessant "dzig,
dzig, dzig," a sound very familiar to those who have sojourned in the
tropics. Has Nature given this singular insect the power of dispensing
with sleep? What possible object can it hope to attain by keeping up
this incessant din? If a love-song, surely the most optimistic cicada
must realise that his amorous strains can never reach the ears of his
lady-love, since hundreds of his brethren are all keeping up the same
perpetual purposeless chirping, which must obviously drown any
individual effort. Have the cicadas a double dose of gaiete francaise
in their composition, and is this their manner of expressing it? Are
they, like some young men we know, always yearning to turn night into
day? All these are, and will remain, unsolved problems?

As I found the summer heat of Nyons unbearable, I went back to England
for a holiday, and, on the morning of my departure, climbed some olive
trees and captured fourteen live cicadas, whom I imprisoned in a
perforated cardboard box, and took back to London with me. Twelve of
them survived the journey, and as soon as I had arrived, I carefully
placed the cicadas on the boughs of the trees in our garden in Green
Street, Grosvenor Square. Conceive the surprise of these travelled
insects at finding themselves on the soot-laden branches of a grimy
London tree! The dauntless little creatures at once recommenced their
"dzig, dzig, dzig," in their novel environment, and kept it up
uninterruptedly for twenty-four hours, in spite of the lack of
appreciation of my family, who complained that their night's rest had
been seriously interfered with by the unaccustomed noise. Next evening
the cicadas were silent. Possibly they had been choked with soot, or
had fallen a prey to London cats; but my own theory is that they
succumbed to the after-effects of a rough Channel passage, to which, of
course, they would not have been accustomed. Anyhow, for the first time
in the history of the world, the purlieus of Grosvenor Square rang with
the shrill chirping of cicadas for twenty-four hours on end.

Six months later I regretfully bid farewell to Nyons, and went direct
from there to Germany. After studying the Teutonic tongue for two and a
half years at Harrow I was master of just two words in it, ja and nein,
so unquestionably there were gaps to fill up.

I was excedingly sorry to leave the delightful Ducros family who had
treated me so kindly, and I owe a deep debt of gratitude to comely Mme.
Ducros for the careful way in which she taught me history. In teaching
history she used what I may call the synoptic method, taking periods of
fifty years, and explaining contemporaneous events in France, Italy,
Germany, and England during that period.

With the exception of one friendly visit to the Ducros, I have never
seen pleasant Nyons again. Of late years I have often meditated a
pilgrimage to that sunny little cup in the Dauphine hills, but have
hesitated owing to one of the sad penalties advancing years bring with
them; every single one of my friends, man or woman, must have passed
away long since. I can see Nyons, with its encircling fringe of blue
hills, just as vividly, perhaps, with my inner eyes as I could if it
lay actually before me, and now I can still people it with the noisy,
gesticulating inhabitants whom I knew and liked so much.

I may add that in Southern French style Nyons is pronounced "Nyonsse,"
just as Carpentras is termed "Carpentrasse."



CHAPTER VI


Brunswick--Its beauty--High level of culture--The Brunswick
Theatre--Its excellence--Gas vs. electricity--Primitive theatre
toilets--Operatic stars in private life--Some operas unknown in
London--Dramatic incidents in them--Levasseur's parody of
"Robert"--Some curious details about operas--Two fiery old
Pan-Germans--Influence of the teaching profession on modern
Germany--The "French and English Clubs"--A meeting of the "English
Club"--Some reflections about English reluctance to learn foreign
tongues--Mental attitude of non-Prussians in 1875--Concerning various
beers--A German sportsman--The silent, quinine-loving youth--The Harz
Mountains--A "Kettle-drive" for hares--Dialects of German--The odious
"Kaffee-Klatsch"--Universal gossip--Hamburg's overpowering
hospitality--Hamburg's attitude towards Britain--The city itself--Trip
to British Heligoland--The island--Some peculiarities--Migrating
birds--Sir Fitzhardinge Maxse--Lady Maxse--The Heligoland
Theatre--Winter in Heligoland.


BRUNSWICK had been selected for me as a suitable spot in which to learn
German, and to Brunswick I accordingly went. As I was then eighteen
years old, I did not care to go to a regular tutor's, but wished to
live in a German family, where I was convinced I could pick up the
language in far shorter time. I was exceedingly fortunate in this
respect. A well-to-do Managing Director of some jute-spinning mills had
recently built himself a large house. Mr. Spiegelberg found not only
that his new house was unnecessarily big for his family, but he also
discovered that it had cost him a great deal more than he had
anticipated. He was quite willing, therefore, to enter into an
arrangement for our mutual benefit.

Brunswick is one of the most beautiful old towns in Europe, Its narrow,
winding streets are (or, perhaps, were) lined with fifteenth and
sixteenth century timbered houses, each storey projecting some two feet
further over the street than the one immediately below it, and these
wooden house-fronts were one mass of the most beautiful and elaborate
carving. Imagine Staples Inn in Holborn double its present height, and
with every structural detail chiselled with patient care into intricate
patterns of fruit and foliage, and you will get some idea of a
Brunswick street. The town contained four or five splendid old
churches, and their mediaeval builders had taken advantage of the
dead-flat, featureless plain in which Brunswick stands, to erect such
lofty towers as only the architects in the Low Countries ever devised;
towers which served as landmarks for miles around, their soaring height
silhouetted against the pale northern sky. The irregular streets and
open places contained one or two gems of Renaissance architecture, such
as the stone-built Town Hall and "Guild House," both very similar in
character to buildings of the same date in sleepy old Flemish towns.
The many gushing fountains of mediaeval bronze and iron-work in the
streets added to the extraordinary picturesqueness of the place. It was
like a scene from an opera in real life. It always puzzled me to think
how the water for these fountains can have been provided on that
dead-flat plain in pre-steam days. There must have been pumps of some
sort. Before 1914, tens of thousands of tourists visited Nuremberg
annually, but the guide-books are almost silent about Brunswick, which
is fully as picturesque.

The standard of material comfort appeared far higher in Brunswick than
in a French provincial town. The manner in which the Spiegelbergs'
house was fitted up seemed very elaborate after the simple appointments
of the Ducros' farm-house, though nothing in the world would have
induced me to own one single object that this Teutonic residence
contained. The Spiegelbergs treated me extremely kindly, and I was
fortunate in being quartered on such agreeable people.

At Nyons there was not one single bookseller, but Brunswick bristled
with book-shops, and, in addition, there were two of those most
excellent lending libraries to be found in every German town. Here
almost every book ever published in German or English was to be found,
as well as a few very cautiously selected French ones, for German
parents were careful then as to what their daughters read.

The great resource of Brunswick was the theatre, such a theatre as does
not exist in any French provincial town, and such a theatre as has
never even been dreamed of in any British town. It was fully as large
as Drury Lane, and was subsidised by the State. I really believe that
every opera ever written was given here, and given quite admirably. In
this town of 60,000 inhabitants, in addition to the opera company,
there was a fine dramatic company, as well as a light opera company,
and a corps de ballet. Sunday, Tuesday and Saturday were devoted to
grand opera, Monday to classical drama (Schiller or Shakespeare),
Wednesday to modern comedy, Friday to light opera or farce. The bill
was constantly changing, and every new piece produced in Berlin or
Vienna was duly presented to the Brunswick public. There are certainly
some things we can learn from Germany! The mounting of the operas was
most excellent, and I have never seen better lighting effects than on
the Brunswick stage, and this, too, was all done by gas, incandescent
electric light not then being dreamed of even. I had imagined in my
simplicity that effects were far easier to produce on the modern stage
since the introduction of electric light. Sir Johnston
Forbes-Robertson, than whom there can be no greater authority, tells me
that this is not so. To my surprise, he declares that electric light is
too crude and white, and that it destroys all illusion. He informs me
that it is impossible to obtain a convincing moonlight effect with
electricity, or to give a sense of atmosphere. Gas-light was yellow,
and colour-effects were obtained by dropping thin screens of coloured
silk over the gas-battens in the flies. This diffused the light, which
a crude blue or red electric bulb does not do. Sir Johnston
Forbes-Robertson astonished me by telling me that Henry Irving always
refused to have electric light on the stage at the Lyceum, though he
had it in the auditorium. All those marvellous and complicated effects,
which old playgoers must well recollect in Irving's Lyceum productions,
were obtained with gas. I remember the lovely sunset, with its
after-glow fading slowly into night, in the garden scene of the Lyceum
version of Faust, and this was all done with gas. The factor of safety
is another matter. With rows of flaming gas-battens in the flies,
however carefully screened off, and another row of "gas lengths" in the
wings, and flaring "ground-rows" in close proximity to highly
inflammable painted canvas, the inevitable destiny of a gas-lit theatre
is only a question of time. The London theatres of the "sixties" all
had a smell of mingled gas and orange-peel, which I thought delicious.

Mr. Spiegelberg most sensibly suggested that as I was absolutely
ignorant of German, the easiest manner in which I could accustom my
ears to the sound of the language would be to take an abonnement at the
theatre, and to go there nightly. So for the modest sum of thirty
shillings per month, I found myself entitled to a stall in the second
row, with the right of seeing thirty performances a month. I went every
night to the theatre, and there was no monotony about it, for the same
performance was never repeated twice in one month. I have seen, I
think, every opera ever written, and every single one of Shakespeare's
tragedies. A curious trait in the German character is petty
vindictiveness. A certain Herr Behrens had signed a contract as
principal bass with the Brunswick management. Getting a far more
lucrative offer from Vienna, the prudent Behrens had paid a fine, and
thrown over the Brunswick theatre. For eighteen months the unfortunate
man was pilloried every night on the theatre programmes. Every
play-bill had printed on it in large letters, "Kontrakt-bruchig Herr
Behrens," never allowing the audience to forget that poor Behrens was a
convicted "contract-breaker."

Half Brunswick went to the theatre every night of its life. The ladies
made no pretence of elaborate toilets, but contented themselves with
putting two tacks into the necks of their day gowns so as to make a
V-shaped opening. (With present fashions this would not be necessary.)
Over this they placed one of those appalling little arrangements of
imitation lace and blue or pink bows, to be seen in the shop windows of
every German town, and known, I think, as Theater-Garnitures. They then
drew on a pair of dark plum-coloured gloves, and their toilet was
complete. The contrast between the handsome white-and-gold theatre and
the rows of portly, dowdy matrons, each one with her ample bosom
swathed in a piece of antimacassar, was very comical. Every abonne had
his own peg for hanging his coat and hat on, and this, and the fact
that one's neighbours in the stalls were invariably the same, gave
quite a family atmosphere to the Brunswick theatre.

The conductor was Franz Abt the composer, and the musical standard of
the operatic performances was very high indeed. The mounting was always
excellent, but going to the theatre night after night, some of the
scenery became very familiar. There was a certain Gothic hall which
seemed to share the mobile facilities of Aladdin's palace. This hall
was ubiquitous, whether the action of the piece lay in Germany, Italy,
France, or England, Mary Queen of Scots sobbed in this hall;
Wallenstein in Schiller's tragedy ranted in it; Rigoletto reproved his
flighty daughter in it. It seemed curious that personages so widely
different should all have selected the same firm of upholsterers to fit
up their sanctums.

The Spiegelbergs had many friends in the theatrical world, and I was
immensely thrilled one evening at learning that after the performance
of Lohengrin, Elsa and the Knight of the Swan were coming home to
supper with us. When Elsa appeared on the balcony in the second act,
and the moon most obligingly immediately appeared to light up her
ethereal white draperies, I was much excited at reflecting that in two
hours' time I might be handing this lovely maiden the mustard, and it
seemed hardly credible that the resplendent Lohengrin would so soon
abandon his swan in favour of the homely goose that was awaiting him at
the Spiegelbergs', although the latter would enjoy the advantage of
being roasted.

I was on the tip-toe of expectation until the singers arrived. Fraulein
Scheuerlein, the soprano, was fat, fair, and forty, all of them perhaps
on the liberal side. As she burst into the room, the first words I
heard from the romantic Elsa, whom I had last seen sobbing over her
matrimonial difficulties, were: "Dear Frau Spiegelberg, my..." (Elsa
here used a blunt dissyllable to indicate her receptacle for food) "is
hanging positively crooked with hunger. Quick! For the love of Heaven,
some bread and butter and sausage, or I shall faint;" so the first
words the heroine of the evening addressed to me were somewhat blurred
owing to her mouth being full of sausage, which destroyed most of the
glamour of the situation. Hedwig Scheuerlein was a big, jolly, cheery
South-German, and she was a consummate artist in spite of her large
appetite, as was the tenor Schrotter too. Schrotter was a fair-bearded
giant, who was certainly well equipped physically for playing "heroic"
parts. He had one of those penetrating virile German tenor voices that
appeal to me. These good-natured artists would sing us anything we
wanted, but it was from them that I first got an inkling of those petty
jealousies that are such a disagreeable feature of the theatrical world
in every country. Buxom Scheuerlein was a very good sort, and I used to
feel immensely elated at receiving in my stall a friendly nod over the
footlights from Isolde, Aida, Marguerite, or Lucia, as the case might
be.

I wonder why none of Meyerbeer's operas are ever given in London. The
"books," being by Scribe, are all very dramatic, and lend themselves to
great spectacular display; Meyerbeer's music is always melodious, and
has a certain obvious character about it that would appeal to an
average London audience. This is particularly true with regard to the
Prophete. The Coronation scene can be made as gorgeous as a Drury Lane
pantomime, and the finale of the opera is thrilling, though the three
Anabaptists are frankly terrible bores. As given at Brunswick, in the
last scene the Prophet, John of Leyden, is discovered at supper with
some boon companions in rather doubtful female society. In the middle
of his drinking-song the palace is blown up. There is a loud crash; the
stage grows dark; hall, supper-table, and revellers all disappear; and
the curtain comes down slowly on moonlight shining over some ruins, and
the open country beyond. A splendid climax! Again, the third act of
Robert le Diable is magnificently dramatic. Bertram, the Evil One in
person, leads Robert to a deserted convent whose nuns, having broken
the most important of their vows, have all been put to death. The
curtain goes up on the dim cloisters of the convent, the
cloister-garth, visible through the Gothic arches of the arcade, bathed
in bright moonlight beyond. Bertram begins his incantations, recalling
the erring nuns from the dead. Very slowly the tombs in the cloister
open, and dim grey figures, barely visible in the darkness, creep
silently out from the graves. Bertram waves his arms over the
cloister-garth, and there, too, the tombs gape apart, and more shadowy
spectres emerge. Soon the stage is full of these faint grey spectral
forms. Bertram lifts his arms. The wicked nuns throw off their grey
wrappers, and appear glittering in scarlet and gold; the stage blazes
with light, and the ballet, the famous "Pas de Fascination," begins.
When really well done, this scene is tremendously impressive.

I once heard in Paris, Levasseur, the French counterpart of our own
Corney Grain, giving a skit on Robert le Diable, illustrating various
stage conventions. Levasseur, seated at his piano, and keeping up an
incessant ripple of melody, talked something like this, in French, of
course:--

"The stage represents Isabelle's bedroom. As is usual with stage
bedrooms, Isabelle's bower is about the size of an average cathedral.
It is very sparsely furnished, but near the footlights is a large gilt
couch, on which Isabelle is lying fast asleep. Robert enters on tip-toe
very very gently, so as not to disturb his beloved, and sings in a
voice that you could hear two miles off, 'Isa-belle!' dropping a full
octave on the last note. Isabelle half awakes, and murmurs, 'I do
believe I heard something. I feel so nervous!' Robert advances a yard,
and sings again, if anything rather louder, 'Isa-belle!' Isabelle says:
'Really, my nerves do play me such tricks! I can't help fancying that
there is some one in the room, and I am so terribly afraid of burglars.
Perhaps it is only a mouse.' Robert advances right up to Isabelle's
bed, and shouts for the third time in a voice that makes the chandelier
ring again, 'Isa-belle!' Isabelle says, 'I don't think that I can have
imagined that. There really is some one in the room. I'm terribly
frightened, and don't quite know what to do,' so she gets out of bed,
and anxiously scans the stalls and boxes over the footlights for signs
of an intruder. Finding no one there but the audience, she then
searches the gallery fruitlessly, and getting a sudden inspiration, she
looks behind her, and, to her immense astonishment, finds her lover
standing within a foot of her." This, as told with Levasseur's
inimitable drollery, was excruciatingly funny.

Robert is an expensive opera to put on, for, owing to hideous
jealousies at the Paris Opera, Meyerbeer was compelled to write two
prima-donna parts which afforded the rival ladies exactly equal
opportunities. In the same way Halevy, the composer of La Juive, had to
re-arrange and transpose his score, for Adolphe Nourrit, the great
Paris tenor, in 1835, when the opera was first produced, was jealous of
the splendid part the bass had been given, the tenor's role being quite
insignificant. So it came about that La Juive is the only opera in
which the grey-bearded old father is played by the principal tenor,
whilst the lover is the light tenor. Mehul's Biblical Joseph and his
Brethren is the one opera in which there are no female characters,
though "Benjamin" is played by the leading soprano. In both the
Prophete and Favorita the contralto plays the principal part, the
soprano having a very subsidiary role. Meyerbeer wrote the part of the
Prophet himself specially for Roger, the great tenor, and that of
"Fides" for Mme. Viardot. By the way, the famous skating scene in the
Prophete was part of the original production in Paris of 1849, and yet
we think roller-skating an invention of yesterday.

I had German lessons from a Professor Hentze. This old man was the
first example of a militant German that I had come across. He was
always talking of Germany's inevitable and splendid destiny. Although a
Hanoverian by birth, he was a passionate admirer of Bismarck and
Bismarck's policy, and was a furious Pan-German in sentiment. "Where
the German tongue is heard, there will be the German Fatherland," he
was fond of quoting in the original. As he declared that both Dutch and
Flemish were but variants of Low German, he included Holland and
Belgium in the Greater Germany of the future, as well as the
German-speaking Cantons of Switzerland, and Upper and Lower Austria.
Mentally, he possibly included a certain island lying between the North
Sea and the Atlantic as well, though, out of regard for my feelings, he
never mentioned it. Hentze taught English and French in half a dozen
boys' and girls' schools in Brunswick, and his brother taught history
in the "Gymnasium." These two mild-mannered be-spectacled old
bachelors, who in their leisure moments took snuff and played with
their poodle, were tremendous fire-eaters. They were both enormously
proud of the exploits of a cousin of theirs who, under the guise of a
harmless commercial traveller in wines, had been engaged in spying and
map-making for five years in Eastern France prior to 1870. It was, they
averred (no doubt truthfully enough), owing to the labours of their
cousin and of countless others like him, that the Franco-Prussian War
of 1870-71 had been such an overwhelming success for Germany. Where
German interests were concerned, these two old brothers could see
nothing under a white light. And remember that they were teachers and
trainers of youth; it was they who had the moulding of the minds of the
young generation. I think that any one who knows Germany well will
agree with me that it is the influence of the teaching class, whether
in school or university, that has transformed the German mentality so
greatly during the last forty years. These two mild-mannered old
Hentzes must have infected scores and hundreds of lads with their own
aggressively militant views. By perpetually holding up to them their
own dream of a Germany covering half Europe, they must have transmitted
some of their own enthusiasm to their pupils, and underlying that
enthusiasm was a tacit assumption that the end justified any means;
that provided the goal were attained, the manner in which it had been
arrived at was a matter of quite secondary importance. I maintain that
the damnable spirit of modern Germany is mainly due to the teaching
profession, and to the doctrines it consistently instilled into German
youth.

The Hentzes took in eight resident German pupils who attended the
various schools in the town, mostly sons of wealthy Hamburg
business-people. Hentze was always urging me to associate more with
these lads, three of whom were of my own age, but I could discover no
common ground whatever on which to meet them. The things that
interested me did not appeal to them, and vice versa. They seemed to me
dull youths, heavy alike in mind and body. From lack of sufficient
fresh air and exercise they had all dull eyes, and flabby, white faces
that quivered like blancmanges when they walked. In addition, they
obstinately refused to talk German with me, looking on me as affording
an excellent opportunity for obtaining a gratuitous lesson in English.
One of Hentze's pupils was a great contrast, physically, to the rest,
for he was very spare and thin, and seldom opened his mouth. I was to
see a great deal of this silent, slim lad later on.

Mr. Spiegelberg was a prominent member of the so-called English and
French Club in Brunswick. This was not in the least what its name would
seem to indicate; the members of the Club were not bursting with
overwhelming love for our language and institutions, nor were they
consumed with enthusiastic admiration for French art and literature.
They were merely some fifteen very practical Brunswick commercial men,
who, realising that a good working knowledge of English and French
would prove extremely useful to them in their business relations, met
at each other's houses in rotation on one night a week during the
winter months, when the host of the evening provided copious supplies
of wine, beer and cigars. For one hour and a half the members of the
Club had to talk English or French as the case might be, under a
penalty of a fine of one thaler (three shillings) for every lapse into
their native German. Mr. Spiegelberg informed me that I had been
elected an honorary member of the English and French Club, which
flattered my vanity enormously at the time. In the light of more mature
experience I quite understand that the presence of a youth to whom
knotty points in both languages could be submitted would be a
considerable asset to the Club, but I then attributed my election
solely to my engaging personality. These Club evenings amused me
enormously, though incidentally they resulted in my acquiring a
precocious love of strong, rank Hamburg cigars. Let us imagine fifteen
portly, be-spectacled, middle-aged or elderly men seated around a table
groaning under a collection of bottles of all shapes and sizes,
addressing each other in laboured inverted English. The German love of
titles is a matter of common knowledge. All these business men had
honorific appellations which they translated into English and
introduced scrupulously into every sentence. The conversation was
something like this:

"But, Mr. Over-Inspector of Railways, I do not think that you
understand rightly what Mr. Factory Director Spiegelberg says. Mr.
Factory Director also spins jute. To make concurrenz with Dundee in
Schottland, he must produce cheaply. To produce cheaply he must
become...no, obtain new machinery from Leeds in England. If that
machinery is duty-payable, Mr. Factory Director cannot produce so
cheaply. That seems to me clear. Once our German industries established
are, then we will see. That is another matter."

"I take the liberty to differ, Mr. Councillor of Commerce. How then
shall our German industries flourish, if they not protected be? What
for a doctrine is that? Mr. Factory Director Spiegelberg thinks only of
jute. Outside jute, the German world of commerce is greater, and with
in-the-near-future-to-be-given railways facilities, vast and imposing
shortly shall be."

"What Mr. Councillor of Commerce just has said, is true. You, Mr.
Over-Inspector of Railways, and also you, Mr. Ducal Supervisor of
Forests, are not merchants like us, but much-skilled specialists; so is
the point of view different, Mr. Town Councillor Balhorn, you have
given us most brilliant beer to-night. This is no beer of here, it must
be real Munich. It tastes famous. Prosit!"

"I thank you, Mr. Court Councillor. In the place, gentlemen, of
with-anger-discussing Free Trade, let us all drink some Munich beer.
Discussion is good, but beer with content is better."

Now I put it to you--could any one picture fifteen English business men
in Manchester, Liverpool, or Leeds doing anything so sensible as to
meet once a week amongst themselves, to acquire proficiency and fluency
in French, Spanish, or German, all of which languages they must
presumably require at times for the purposes of their business. Every
one knows that it is unthinkable. No Englishman could be bothered to
take the trouble. Why is it that English people have this extraordinary
reluctance to learn any foreign language? It is certainly not from want
of natural ability to do so, though this natural aptitude may be
discounted by the difficulty most English people experience in keeping
their minds concentrated. I venture to assert unhesitatingly that, with
the exception of Dutch and Russian people, English folk learn foreign
languages with greater ease than any other nationality. This is notably
true with regard to Russian and Spanish. The English throat is more
flexible than that of the Frenchman or German, and, with the one
exception of French, there are no unwonted sounds in any European
language that an Englishman cannot reproduce fairly accurately. We have
something like the hard Russian "l" in the last syllable of
"impossible," and to the Scottish or Irish throat the Dutch hard
initial guttural, and the Spanish soft guttural offer but little
difficulty. "Jorje," which looks like "George" spelt phonetically, but
is pronounced so very differently, can easily be mastered, and that
real teaser "gracht," the Dutch for "canal," with a strong guttural at
either end of it, comes easily out of a Scottish throat. The power to
acquire these tongues is there, but the inclination is woefully lacking.

Some ten years ago I went out to Panama to have a look at the canal
works. On board the mail-steamer there were twelve commercial
travellers representing British firms, bound for the West Coast of
South America. Ten of these twelve were Germans, all speaking English
and Spanish fluently in addition to their native German. The other two
were English, not knowing one word of any language but their own. I had
a long talk with these two Englishmen, and asked them whether they were
familiar with the varying monetary standards of the countries they were
going to visit; for the nominal dollar represents a widely different
value in each South American State. No, they knew nothing whatever
about this, and were quite ignorant of Spanish-American weights and
measures. Now what possible object did the firms sending out these
ill-equipped representatives hope to attain? Could they in their
wildest moments have supposed that they would get one single order
through their agency? And how came it about that these young men were
so ignorant of the language and customs of the countries they were
proposing to travel? During the voyage I noticed the German travellers
constantly conversing with South Americans from the Pacific Coast, in
an endeavour to improve their working knowledge of Spanish; meanwhile
the young Englishmen played deck-quoits and talked English. That in
itself is quite sufficiently characteristic. In Manchester there is a
firm who do a large business in manufacturing brightly coloured
horse-trappings for the South American market. I speak with some
confidence about this, for I have myself watched those trappings being
made. Most of the "ponchos" used in the Argentine are woven in Glasgow.
Why is it that in these two great industrial centres no one seems to
have thought of establishing a special class in any of the numerous
schools and colleges for training youths as commercial travellers in
foreign countries? They would have, in addition to learning two or
three languages, to get used to making quick calculations in dollars
and cents, and in dollars of very varying values; they would also have
to learn to THINK quickly in weights and measures different to those to
which they had been accustomed. Why should British firms be compelled
to use German travellers, owing to the ineptitude of their own
countrymen? The power to learn is there; it is only the will that is
lacking, and in justice I must add, perhaps the necessary facilities.
People who do not mind taking trouble will always in the end get a pull
over people who hate all trouble. I think that our present King once
cried, "Buck up, England!" and his Majesty spoke true; very few things
can be done in this world without taking a little trouble.

To return, after this long digression, to the portly German middle-aged
business men who met weekly in Brunswick to improve their working
knowledge of French and English, I must candidly say that I never
detected the faintest shadow of animosity to Great Britain in them.
They were not Prussians--they were Hanoverians and Brunswickers. They
felt proud, I think, that the throne of Britain was then occupied by a
branch of their own ancient House of Guelph; they remembered the
hundred years' connection between Britain and Hanover; as business men
they acknowledged Britain's then unquestioned industrial supremacy, and
they recognised that men of their class enjoyed in England a position
and a power which was not accorded to them in Germany. Certainly they
never lost an opportunity of pointing out that Britain was neither a
military nor a fighting nation, and would never venture again to
conduct a campaign on the Continent. Recent events will show how
correct they were in their forecasts.

I liked the society of these shrewd, practical men, for from being so
much with the French judges, I had become accustomed to associating
with men double or treble my own age. There was nothing corresponding
to the gaiete francaise about them, though at times a ponderous
playfulness marked their lighter moments, and flashes of elephantine
jocularity enlivened the proceedings of the Club. I picked up some
useful items of knowledge from them, for I regret to admit that up to
that time I had no idea what a bill of lading was, or a ship's
manifest; after a while, even such cryptic expressions, too, as f.o.b.
and c.i.f. ceased to have any mysteries for me. Let the inexperienced
beware of "Swedish Punch," a sickly, highly-scented preparation of
arrack. I do not speak from personal experience, for I detest the
sweet, cloying stuff; but it occasionally fell to my lot to guide
down-stairs the uncertain footsteps of some ventripotent
Kommerzien-Rath, or even of Mr. Over-Inspector of Railways himself,
both temporarily incapacitated by injudicious indulgence in Swedish
Punch. "So, Herr Ober-Inspector, endlich sind wir glucklich herunter
gekommen. Jetz konnen Sie nach Hause immer aug gleichem Fusse gehen.
Naturlich! Jedermann weisst wie abscheulich kraftig Schwedischer Punsch
ist. Die Strasse ist ganz leer. Gluckliche Heimkehr, Herr
Ober-Inspector!"

It was difficult to attend the Club without becoming a connoisseur in
various kinds of German beer. Brunswick boasts a special local sweet
black beer, brewed from malted wheat instead of barley, known as
"Mumme"--heavy, unpalatable stuff. If any one will take the trouble to
consult Whitaker's Almanac, and turn to "Customs Tariff of the United
Kingdom," they will find the very first article on the list is "Mum."
"Berlin white beer" follows this. One of the few occasions when I have
ever known Mr. Gladstone nonplussed for an answer, was in a debate on
the Budget (I think in 1886) on a proposed increase of excise duties.
Mr. Gladstone was asked what "Mum" was, and confessed that he had not
the smallest idea. The opportunity for instructing the omniscient Mr.
Gladstone seemed such a unique one, that I nearly jumped up in my place
to tell him that it was a sweet black beer brewed from wheat, and
peculiar to Brunswick; but being a very young Member of the House then,
I refrained, as it looked too much like self-advertisement; besides,
"Mum" was so obviously the word. "White beer" is only made in Berlin;
it is not unlike our ginger-beer, and is pleasant enough. The orthodox
way of ordering it in Berlin is to ask the waiter for "eine kuhle
Blonde." I do not suppose that one drop of either of these beverages
has been imported into the United Kingdom for a hundred years; equally
I imagine that the first two Georges loved them as recalling their
beloved Hanover, and indulged freely in them; whence their place in our
Customs tariff.

One of the members of the English and French Club was a Mr. Vieweg, at
that time, I believe, the largest manufacturer of sulphate of quinine
in Europe. Mr. Vieweg was that rara avis amongst middle-class German
business-men, a born sportsman. He had already made two sporting trips
to Central Africa after big game, and rented a large shooting estate
near Brunswick. In common with the other members of the Club, he
treated me very kindly and hospitably, and I often had quaint repasts
at his house, beginning with sweet chocolate soup, and continuing with
eels stewed in beer, carp with horseradish, "sour-goose," and other
Teutonic delicacies. Mr. Vieweg's son was one of Hentze's pupils, and
was the thin, silent boy I have already noticed. I remember well how
young Vieweg introduced himself to me in laboured English, "Are you a
friend to fishing with the fly?" he asked. "I also fish most gladly,
and if you wish, we will together to the Harz Mountains go, and there
many trout catch." As the Harz Mountains are within an hour of
Brunswick by train, off we went, and young Vieweg was certainly a most
expert fisherman. My respect for him was increased enormously when I
found that he did not mind in the least how wet he got whilst fishing.
Most German boys of his age would have thought standing in cold water
up to their knees a certain forerunner of immediate death.

Vieweg told me, with perfect justice, that he knew every path and every
track in the Northern Harz, and that he had climbed every single hill.
He complained that none of his German friends cared for climbing or
walking, and asked whether I would accompany him on one of his
expeditions. So a week later we went again to the Harz, and Vieweg led
me an interminable and very rough walk up-hill and down-dale. He
afterwards confessed that he was trying to tire me out, in which he
failed signally, for I have always been, and am still, able to walk
very long distances without fatigue. He had taken four of his
fellow-pupils from Hentze's over the same road, and they had all
collapsed, and had to be driven back to the railway in a hay-cart, in
the last stages of exhaustion. Finding that he could not walk me down,
Vieweg developed an odd sort of liking for me, just as I had admired
him for standing up to his knees in very cold water for a couple of
hours on end whilst fishing. So a queer sort of friendship sprang up
between me and this taciturn youth. The only subject which moved Vieweg
to eloquence was quinine, out of which his father had made his fortune.
I confess that at that time I knew no more about that admirable
prophylactic than the Queen of Sheba knew about dry-fly fishing, and
had not the faintest idea of how quinine was made. Vieweg, warming to
his subject, explained to me that the cinchona bark was treated with
lime and alcohol, and informed me that his father now obtained the bark
from Java instead of from South America as formerly. He did his utmost
to endeavour to kindle a little enthusiasm in me on the subject of this
valuable febrifuge. When not talking of quinine, he kept silence. This
singular youth was obsessed with a passionate devotion to the lucrative
drug.

The Harz Mountains are pretty without being grand. The far-famed
Brocken is not 4000 ft. high, but rising as these hills do out of the
dead-flat North German plain, the Harz have been glorified and
magnified by a people accustomed to monotonous levels, and are the
setting for innumerable German legends. The Brocken is, of course, the
traditional scene of the "Witches Sabbath" on Walpurgis-Nacht, and many
of the rock-strewn valleys seem to have pleasant traditions of
bloodthirsty ogres and gnomes associated with them. There is no real
climbing in the Harz, easy tracks lead to all the local lions. As is
customary in methodical Germany, signposts direct the pedestrian to
every view and every waterfall, and I need hardly add that if one post
indicates the Aussichtspunkt, a corresponding one will show the way to
the restaurant without which no view in Germany would be complete.
Through rocky defiles and pine-woods, over swelling hills and past
waterfalls, Vieweg and I trudged once a week in sociable silence,
broken only by a few scraps of information from my companion as to the
prospects of that year's crop of cinchona bark, and the varying
wholesale price of that interesting commodity. At times, before a fine
view, Vieweg would make quite a long speech for him: "Du Fritz! Schon
was?" using, of course, the German diminutive to my Christian name,
after which he would gaze on the prospect and relapse into silence, and
dreamy meditations on sulphate of quinine and its possibilities.

I think Vieweg enjoyed these excursions, for on returning to Brunswick
after about four hours' un-broken silence, he would always say on
parting, "Du Fritz! War nicht so ubel;" or, "Fritz, it wasn't so bad,"
very high praise from so sparing a talker.

Mr. Vieweg senior invited me to shoot with him on several occasions
during the winter months. The "Kettle-drive" (Kessel-Treib) is the
local manner of shooting hares. Guns and beaters form themselves into
an immense circle, a mile in diameter, over the treeless, hedgeless
flats, and all advance slowly towards the centre of the circle. At
first, it is perfectly safe to fire into the circle, but as it
diminishes in size, a horn is sounded, the guns face round, back to
back, and as the beaters advance alone, hares are only killed as they
run out of the ring. Hares are very plentiful in North Germany, and
"Kettle-drives" usually resulted in a bag of from thirty to forty of
them. To my surprise, in the patches of oak-scrub on the moor-lands,
there were usually some woodcock, a bird which I had hitherto
associated only with Ireland. Young Vieweg was an excellent shot; in
common with all his father's other guests, he was arrayed in high
boots, and in one of those grey-green suits faced with dark green, dear
to the heart of the German sportsman. The guns all looked like the
chorus in the Freischutz, and I expected them to break at any moment
into the "Huntsmen's Chorus." Young Vieweg was greatly pained at my
unorthodox costume, for I wore ordinary homespun knickerbockers, and
sported neither a green Tyrolese hat with a blackcock's tail in it, nor
high boots; my gun had no green sling attached to it, nor did I carry a
game-bag covered with green tassels, all of which, it appeared, were
absolutely essential concomitants to a Jagd-Partie.

In these country districts round Brunswick nothing but Low German
("Platt-Deutsch") was talked. Low German is curiously like English at
times. The sentence, "the water is deep," is identical in both tongues.
"Mudder," "brudder," and "sister" have all a familiar ring about them,
too. The word "watershed," as applied to the ridge separating two river
systems, had always puzzled me. In High German it is "Wasser-scheide,"
i.e. water-parting; in Low German it is "Water-shed," with the same
meaning, thus making our own term perfectly clear. "Low" German, of
course, only means the dialect spoken in the low-lying North German
plains: "High" German, the language spoken in the hilly country south
of the Harz Mountains. High German only became the literary language of
the country owing to Luther having deliberately chosen that dialect for
the translation of the Bible. The Nibelungen-Lied and the poems of the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries were all in Middle-High German
(Mittel-Hoch Deutsch).

I remember being told as a boy, when standing on the terrace of Windsor
Castle, that in a straight line due east of us there was no such
corresponding an elevation until the Ural Mountains were reached, on
the boundary between Europe and Asia. This will give some idea of the
extreme flatness of Northern Europe, for the terrace at Windsor can
hardly be called a commanding eminence.

I am sorry to say that for over forty years I have quite lost sight of
Vieweg. My connection with quinine, too, has been usually quite
involuntary. I have had two very serious bouts of malarial fever, one
in South America, the other in the West Indies, and on both occasions I
owed my life to quinine. Whilst taking this bitter, if beneficent drug,
I sometimes wondered whether it had been prepared under the auspices of
the friend of my youth. So ignorant am I of the quinine world, that I
do not know whether the firm of Buchler & Vieweg still exists. One
thing I do know: Vieweg must be now sixty-three years old, should he be
still alive, and I am convinced that he remains an upright and
honourable gentleman. I would also venture a surmise that business
competitors find it very hard to overreach him, and that he has escaped
the garrulous tendencies of old age.

One of the curses of German towns is the prevalence of malicious and
venomous gossip. This is almost entirely due to that pestilent
institution the "Coffee Circle," or Kaffee Klatsch, that standing
feature of German provincial life. Amongst the bourgeoisie, the ladies
form associations, and meet once a week in turn at each others' houses.
They bring their work with them, and sit for two hours, eating sweet
cakes, drinking coffee, and tearing every reputation in the towns to
tatters. All males are jealously excluded from these gatherings. Mrs.
Spiegelberg was a pretty, fluffy little English woman, without one
ounce of malice in her composition. She had lived long enough in
Germany, though, to know that she would not be welcomed at her "Coffee
Circle" unless she brought her budget of pungent gossip with her, so
she collected it in the usual way. The instant the cook returned from
market, Mrs. Spiegelberg would rush into the kitchen with a breathless,
"Na, Minna, was gibt's neues?" or "Now, Minna, what is the news?"
Minna, the cook, knowing what was expected of her, proceeded to unfold
her items of carefully gathered gossip: Lieutenant von Trinksekt had
lost three hundred marks at cards, and had been unable to pay; it was
rumored that Fraulein Unsittlich's six weeks' retirement from the world
was not due to an attack of scarlet fever, as was alleged, but to a
more interesting cause, and so on, and so on. The same thing was
happening, simultaneously, in every kitchen in Brunswick, and at the
next "Coffee Circle" all these rumours would be put into circulation
and magnified, and the worst possible interpretation would be given
them. All German women love spying, as is testified by those little
external mirrors fixed outside almost every German window, by which the
mistress of the house can herself remain unseen, whilst noting every
one who passes down the street, or goes into the houses on either side.
I speak with some bitterness of the poisonous tongues of these women,
for I cannot forget how a harmless episode, when I happened to meet a
charming friend of mine, and volunteered to carry her parcels home, was
distorted and perverted.

One of Hentze's pupils, a heavy, bovine youth, invited me to Hamburg to
his parents' silver wedding festivities. I was anxious to see Hamburg,
so I accepted. Moser's parents inhabited an opulent and unimaginably
hideous villa on the outskirts of Hamburg. They treated me most
hospitably and kindly, but never had I pictured such vast eatings and
drinkings as took place in their house. Moser's other relations were
equally hospitable, until I became stupid and comatose from excessive
nourishment. I could not discover the faintest trace of hostility to
England amongst these wealthy Hamburg merchants. They had nearly all
traditional business connections with England, and most of them had
commenced their commercial careers in London. They resented, on the
other hand, the manner in which they were looked down on by the
Prussian Junkers, who, on the ground of their having no "von" before
their names, tried to exclude them from every branch of the public
service. The whole of Germany had not yet become Prussianised.

These Hamburg men were intensely proud of their city. They boasted, and
I believe with perfect reason, that the dock and harbour facilities of
Hamburg far exceeded anything to be found in the United Kingdom. I was
taken all over the docks, and treated indeed with such lavish
hospitality that every seam of my garments strained under the unwonted
pressure of these enormous repasts. Hamburg being a Free Port,
travellers leaving for any other part of Germany had to undergo a
regular Customs examination at the railway station, as though it were a
frontier post. Hamburg impressed me as a vastly prosperous, handsome,
well-kept town. The attractive feature of the place is the "Alster
Bassin," the clear, fresh-water lake running into the very heart of the
town. All the best houses and hotels were built on the stone quays of
the Alster facing the lake. Geneva, Stockholm, and Copenhagen are the
only other European towns I know of with clear lakes running into the
middle of the city. The Moser family's silver wedding festivities did
not err on the side of niggardliness. The guests all assembled in full
evening dress at three in the afternoon, when there was a conjuring and
magic-lantern performance for the children. This was followed by an
excellent concert, which in its turn was succeeded by a vast and
Gargantuan dinner. Then came an elaborate display of fireworks, after
which dancing continued till 4 a.m., only interrupted by a second
colossal meal, thus affording, as young Moser proudly pointed out,
thirteen hours' uninterrupted amusement.

As I felt certain that I should promptly succumb to apoplexy, had I to
devour any more food, I left next day for Heligoland, then, of course,
still a British Colony, an island I had always had the greatest
curiosity to see. A longer stay in Hamburg might have broadened my
mind, but it would also unquestionably have broadened my waist-belt as
well.

The steamer accomplished the journey from Hamburg in seven hours, the
last three over the angry waters of the open North Sea. To my surprise
the steamer, though island-owned, did not fly the British red ensign,
but the Heligoland flag of horizontal bars of white, green, and red.
There is a local quatrain explaining these colours, which may be
roughly Englished as--

    "White is the strand,
    But green the land,
    Red the rocks stand
    Round Heligoland."

Heligoland is the quaintest little spot imaginable, shaped like an
isosceles triangle with the apex pointing northwards. The area of the
whole island is only three-fourths of a square mile; it is barely a
mile long, and at its widest only 500 yards broad. It is divided into
Underland and Overland; the former a patch of shore on the sheltered
side of the island, covered with the neatest little toy streets and
houses. In its neatness and smallness it is rather like a Japanese
town, and has its little theatre and its little Kurhaus complete. There
are actually a few trees in the Underland. Above it, the red ramparts
of rock rise like a wall to the Overland, only to be reached by an
endless flight of steps. On the green tableland of the Overland, the
houses nestle and huddle together for shelter on the leeward side of
the island, the prevailing winds being westerly. The whole population
let lodgings, simply appointed, but beautifully neat and clean, as one
would expect amongst a seafaring population. There are a few patches of
cabbages and potatoes trying to grow in spite of the gales, and all the
rest is green turf. There is not one tree on the wind-swept Overland. I
heard nothing but German and Frisian talked around me, and the only
signs of British occupation were the Union Jack flying in front of
Government House (surely the most modest edifice ever dignified with
that title), and a notice-board in front of the powder-magazine on the
northern point of the island. This notice-board was inscribed, "V.R.
Trespassers will be prosecuted," which at once gave a homelike feeling,
and made one realise that it was British soil on which one was standing.

The island had only been ceded to us in 1814, and we handed it over to
Germany in 1890, so our tenure was too brief for us to have struck root
deeply into the soil. Heligoland was a splendid recruiting ground for
the Royal Navy, for the islanders were a hardy race of seafarers, and
made ideal material for bluejackets. There was not a horse or cow on
the island, ewes supplying all the milk. As sheep's milk has an
unappetising green tinge about it, it took a day or two to get used to
this unfamiliar-looking fluid. There being no fresh water on
Heligoland, the rain water from the roofs was all caught and stored in
tanks. On that rainswept rock I cannot conceive it likely that the
water supply would ever fail. Some-how the idea was prevalent in
England that Heligoland was undermined by rabbits. There was not one
single rabbit on the island, for even rabbits find it hard to burrow
into solid rock.

Professor Gatke's books on the migrations of birds are well known.
Heligoland lies in the track of migrating birds, and Dr. Gatke had
established himself there for some years to observe them, and there was
a really wonderful ornithological museum close to the lighthouse. The
Heligoland lighthouse is a very powerful one, and every single one of
these stuffed birds had committed suicide against the thick glass of
the lantern. The lighthouse keepers told me that during the migratory
periods, they sometimes found as many as a hundred dead birds on the
external gallery of the light in the morning, all of whom had killed
themselves against the light.

From 1830 to 1871 there were public gaming-tables in Heligoland, and
the Concessionaire paid such a high price for his permit that the
colonial finances were in the most flourishing condition. In 1871,
Downing Street stopped this, with disastrous effect on the island
budget. Fortunately, Germans took to coming over in vast numbers for
the excellent sea-bathing, and so money began to flow in again. The
place attracted them with its glorious sea air; it had all the
advantages of a ship, without the ship's motion.

I paid a second visit to Heligoland three years later, when I was
Attache at our Berlin Embassy. Sir Fitzhardinge Maxse, the uncle of Mr.
Leo Maxse of the National Review, was Governor then. Sir Fitzhardinge
had done his utmost to anglicise the island, and the "Konigstrasse" and
"Oststrasse" had now become "King Street" and "East Street." He had
induced, too, some of the shop-keepers to write the signs over their
shops in English, at times with somewhat eccentric spelling; for one
individual proclaimed himself a "Familie Grozer." How astonished the
Governor and I would have been to know that in twenty years' time his
much-loved island would be transformed into one solid concreted German
fortress! Sir Fitzhardinge had a great love for the theatre. He was, I
believe, the only person who had ever tried to write plays in two
languages. His German plays had been very successful, and two one-act
plays he wrote in English had been produced on the London stage. He
always managed to engage a good German company to play in the little
Heligoland theatre during the summer months, and having married the
leading tragic actress of the Austrian stage, both he and Lady Maxse
occasionally appeared on the boards themselves, playing, of course, in
German. It looked curious seeing a bill of the "Theatre Royal on
Heligoland," announcing Shakespeare's tragedy of Macbeth, with "His
Excellency the Governor as Macbeth, and Lady Maxse as Lady Macbeth."

There is a fine old Lutheran Church on Heligoland. It is the only
Protestant church in which I have ever seen ex votos. When the island
fishermen had weathered an unusually severe gale, it was their custom
to make a model of their craft, and to present it as a thank-offering
to the church. There were dozens of these models, all beautifully
finished, suspended from the roof of the church by wires, and the
fronts of the galleries were all hung with fishing nets. The singing in
that church was remarkably good.

It was a pleasant, unsophisticated little island; a place of fresh
breezes, and red cliffs with great sweeping surges breaking against
them; a place of sunshine, and huge expanses of pale dappled sky.

Lady Maxse told me that it was impossible for any one to picture the
unutterable dreariness of Heligoland in winter; when little Government
House rocked ceaselessly under the fierce gales, and the whole island
was drenched in clouds of spindrift; the rain pounding on the
window-panes like small-shot, and the howling of the wind drowning all
other sounds. She said that they were frequently cut off from the
mainland for three weeks on end, without either letters, newspapers, or
fresh meat, as the steamers were unable to make the passage. There was
nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one to speak to. It must have been
a considerable change for any one accustomed to the life of careless,
easy-going, glittering Vienna in the old days. Even Sir Fitzhardinge
confessed that during the winter gales he had frequently to make his
way on all fours from the stairs from the Underland to Government
House, to avoid being blown over the cliffs. Lady Maxse hung an extra
pair of pink muslin curtains over every window in Government House, to
shut out the sight of the wintry sea, but the angry, grey and white
rollers of the restless North Sea asserted themselves even through the
pink muslin.

I am glad that I saw this wind-swept little rock whilst it was still a
scrap of British territory. When my time came for leaving Brunswick, I
was genuinely sorry to go. I confess that I liked Germany and the
Germans; I had been extremely well treated, and had got used to German
ways.

The teaching profession were only then sowing broadcast the seed which
was to come to maturity thirty years later. They were moulding the
minds of the rising generation to the ideals which find their most
candid exponent in Nietzsche. The seed was sown, but had not yet
germinated; the greater portion of Germany in 1875 was still
un-Prussianised, but effect followed cause, and we all know the rest.



CHAPTER VII


Some London beauties of the "seventies"--Great ladies--The Victorian
girl--Votaries of the Gaiety Theatre--Two witty ladies--Two clever
girls and mock-Shakespeare--The family who talked Johnsonian
English--Old-fashioned tricks of pronunciation--Practical jokes--Lord
Charles Beresford and the old Club-member--The shoe-less
legislator--Travellers' palms--The tree that spouted wine--Celyon's
spicy breezes--Some reflections--Decline of public interest in
Parliament--Parliamentary giants--Gladstone, John Bright, and
Chamberlain--Gladstone's last speech--His resignation--W.H. Smith--The
Assistant Whips--Sir William Hart-Dyke--Weary hours at Westminster--A
Pseudo-Ingoldsbean Lay.


The London of 1876 boasted an extraordinary constellation of lovely
women. First and foremost came the two peerless Moncreiffe sisters,
Georgiana Lady Dudley, and Helen Lady Forbes. Lady Dudley was then a
radiant apparition, and her sister, the most perfect example of
classical beauty I have ever seen, had features as clean-cut as those
of a cameo. Lady Forbes always wore her hair simply parted in the
middle, a thing that not one woman in a thousand can afford to do, and
glorious auburn hair it was, with a natural ripple in it. I have seldom
seen a head so perfectly placed on the shoulders as that of Lady
Forbes. The Dowager Lady Ormonde and the late Lady Ripon were then
still unmarried; the first, Lady Leila Grosvenor, with the face of a
Raphael Madonna, the other, Lady Gladys Herbert, a splendid, slender,
Juno-like young goddess. The rather cruelly named "professional
beauties" had just come into prominence, the three great rivals being
Mrs. Langtry, then fresh from Jersey, Mrs. Cornwallis West, and Mrs.
Wheeler. Unlike most people, I should myself have given the prize to
the second of these ladies. I do not think that any one now could
occupy the commanding position in London which Constance Duchess of
Westminster and the Duchess of Manchester (afterwards Duchess of
Devonshire) then held. In fact, with skirts to the knee, and an
unending expanse of stocking below them, it would be difficult to
assume the dignity with which these great ladies, in their flowing
Victorian draperies, swept into a room. The stately Dutchess of
Westminster, in spite of her massive outline, had still a fine
classical head, and the Duchess of Manchester was one of the handsomest
women in Europe. London society was so much smaller then, that it was a
sort of enlarged family party, and I, having six married sisters, found
myself with unnumbered hosts of relations and connections. I retain
delightful recollections of the mid-Victorian girl. These maidens, in
their airy clouds of white, pink, or green tulle, and their untouched
faces, had a deliciously fresh, flower-like look which is wholly
lacking in their sisters of to-day. A young girl's charm is her
freshness, and if she persists in coating her face with powder and
rouge that freshness vanishes, and one sees merely rows of vapid little
doll-like faces, all absolutely alike, and all equally artificial and
devoid of expression. These present skimpy draperies cause one to
reflect that Nature has not lavished broadcast the gift of good feet
and neat ankles; possibly some girls might lengthen their skirts if
they realised this truth.

In the "seventies" there was a wonderful galaxy of talent at the old
Gaiety Theatre, Nellie Farren, Kate Vaughan, Edward Terry, and Royce
forming a matchless quartette. Young men, of course, will always be
foolish, up to the end of time. Nellie Farren, Kate Vaughan and Emily
Duncan all had their "colours." Nellie Farren's were dark blue, light
blue, and white; Kate Vaughan's were pink and grey; Emily Duncan's
black and white; the leading hosiers "stocked" silk scarves of these
colours, and we foolish young men bought the colours of the lady we
especially admired, and sat in the stalls of the Gaiety flaunting the
scarves of our favourite round our necks. As I then thought, and still
think, that Nellie Farren was one of the daintiest and most graceful
little creatures ever seen on the stage, with a gaminerie all her own,
I, in common with many other youths, sat in the stalls of the Gaiety
wrapped in a blue-and-white scarf. Each lady showered smiles over the
footlights at her avowed admirers, whilst contemptuously ignoring those
who sported her rival's colours. One silly youth, to testify to his
admiration for Emily Duncan, actually had white kid gloves with black
fingers, specially manufactured for him. He was, we hope, repaid for
his outlay by extra smiles from his enchantress.

Traces of the witty early nineteenth century still lingered into the
"seventies," "eighties," and "nineties." Lady Constance Leslie, who is
still living, and the late Lady Cork were almost the last descendants
of the brilliant wits of Sydney Smith and Theodore Hook's days. The
hurry of modern life, and the tendency of the age to scratch the
surface of things only, are not favourable to the development of this
type of keen intellect, which was based on a thorough knowledge of the
English classics, and on such a high level of culture as modern
trouble-hating women could but seldom hope to attain. Time and time
again I have asked Lady Cork for the origin of some quotation. She
invariably gave it me at once, usually quoting some lines of the
context at the same time. When I complimented her on her wonderful
knowledge of English literature of the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, she answered, "In my young days we studied the 'Belles
Lettres'; modern women only study 'Belle's Letters,'" an allusion to a
weekly summary of social events then appearing in the World under that
title, a chronicle voraciously devoured by thousands of women. When the
early prejudice against railways was alluded to by some one who
recalled the storms of protest that the conveyance of the Duke of
Sussex's body by train to Windsor for burial provoked, as being
derogatory to the dignity of a Royal Duke, it was Lady Cork who rapped
out, "I presume in those days, a novel apposition of the quick and the
dead." A certain peer was remarkable alike for his extreme parsimony
and his unusual plainness of face. His wife shared these
characteristics, both facial and temperamental, to the full, and yet
this childless, unprepossessing and eminently economical couple were
absolutely wrapped up in one another; after his death she only lingered
on for three months. Some one commenting on this, said, "They were
certainly the stingiest and probably the ugliest couple in England, yet
their devotion to each other was very beautiful. They could neither of
them bear to part with anything, not even with each other. After his
death she was like a watch that had lost its mainspring." "Surely,"
flashed Lady Constance Leslie, "more like a vessel which had lost her
auxiliary screw." The main characteristic of both Lady Cork and Lady
Constance Leslie's humour was its lightning speed. It is superfluous to
add, with these quick-witted ladies it was never necessary to EXPLAIN
anything, as it is to the majority of English people; they understood
before you had finished saying it.

Many years after, in the late "eighties," Lady Constance Leslie's two
elder daughters, now Mrs. Crawshay and Lady Hope, developed a singular
gift. They could improvise blank verse indefinitely, and with their
father, Sir John Leslie, they acted little mock Shakespearean dramas in
their ordinary clothes, and without any scenery or accessories. Every
word was impromptu, and yet the even flow of blank verse never ceased.
I always thought it a singularly clever performance, for Mrs. Crawshay
can only have been nineteen then, and her sister eighteen. Mrs.
Crawshay invariably played the heroine, Lady Hope the confidante, and
Sir John Leslie any male part requisite. No matter what the subject
given them might be, they would start in blank verse at once. Let us
suppose so unpromising a subject as the collection of railway tickets
outside a London terminus had been selected. Lady Hope, with pleading
eyes, and all the conventional gestures of sympathy of a stage
confidante, would at once start apostrophising her sister in some such
fashion as this:--

"Fair Semolina, dry those radiant orbs; Thy swain doth beg thee but a
token small Of that great love which thou dost bear to him. Prithee,
sweet mistress, take now heart of grace, At times we all credentials
have to show, Eftsoons at Willesden halts the panting train, Each
traveller knows inexorable fate Hath trapped him in her toils; loud
rings the tread Of brass-bound despot as he wends his way From door to
door, claiming with gesture rude His pound of flesh, or eke the
pasteboard slip, Punched with much care, all travel-worn and stained,
For which perchance ten ducats have been paid, Granting full access
from some distant spot. Then trembles he, who reckless loves to sip The
joys of travel free of all expense; Knowing the fate that will pursue
him, when To stern collector he hath naught to show."

To which her sister, Mrs. Crawshay, would reply, without one instant's
hesitation, somewhat after this style:--

    "Sweet Tapioca, firm and faithful friend,
    Thy words have kindled in my guilty breast
    Pangs of remorse; to thee I will confess.
    Craving a journey to the salt sea waves
    Before this moon had waxed her full, I stood
    Crouching, and feigning infant's stature small
    Before the wicket, whence the precious slips
    Are issued, and declared my years but ten.
    Thus did I falsely pretext tender age,
    And claimed but half the wonted price, and now
    Bitter remorse my stricken conscience sears,
    And hot tears flow at my duplicity."

The lines would probably have been more neatly worded than this, but
the flow of improvised blank verse from both sisters was inexhaustible.
The somewhat unusual names of Semolina and Tapioca had been adopted for
the heroine and confidante on account of their rhythmical advantages,
and a certain pleasant Shakespearean ring about them.

I know another family who from long practice have acquired the habit of
addressing each other in flowing periods of Johnsonian English. They
never hesitate for an epithet, and manage to round off all their
sentences in Dr. Johnson's best manner. I was following the hounds on
foot one day, with the eldest daughter of this family, when, as we
struggled through a particularly sticky and heavy ploughed field, she
panted out, "Pray let us hasten to the summit of yonder commanding
eminence, whence we can with greater comfort to ourselves witness the
further progress of the chase," and all this without the tiniest
hesitation; a most enviable gift! A son of this family was once riding
in the same steeplechase as a nephew of mine. The youth had lost his
cap, and turning round in his saddle, he shouted to my nephew in the
middle of the race, between two fences, "You will perceive that I have
already sacrificed my cap, and laid it as a votive offering on the
altar of Diana." One would hardly have anticipated that a youthful
cavalry subaltern, in the middle of a steeplechase, would have been
able to lay his hands on such choice flowers of speech. Unfortunately,
owing to the time lost by these well-turned periods, both the speaker
and my nephew merely figured as "also ran."

In the "seventies" some of the curious tricks of pronunciation of the
eighteenth century still survived. My aunts, who had been born with, or
before the nineteenth century, invariably pronounced "yellow" as
"yaller." "Lilac" and "cucumber" became "laylock" and "cowcumber," and
a gold bracelet was referred to as a "goold brasslet." They always
spoke of "Proosia" and "Roosia," drank tea out of a "chaney" cup, and
the eldest of them was still "much obleeged" for any little service
rendered to her, played at "cyards," and took a stroll in the
"gyarden." My grandfather, who was born in 1766, insisted to the end of
his life on terming the capital of these islands "Lunnon," in
eighteenth-century fashion.

Possibly people were more cultured in those days, or, at all events,
more in the habit of using their brains. Imbecility, whether real or
simulated, had not come into fashion. My mother told me that in her
young days a very favourite amusement in country houses was to write
imitations or parodies of some well-known poet, and every one took part
in this. Nowadays no one would have read the originals, much less be
able to imitate them. My mother had a commonplace book into which she
had copied the cleverest of these skits, and Landseer illustrated it
charmingly in pen-and-ink for her.

Any one reading the novels of the commencement of the nineteenth
century must have noticed how wonderfully popular practical jokes,
often of the crudest nature, then were. A brutal practical joke always
seems to me to indicate a very rudimentary and undeveloped sense of
humour in its perpetrator. Some people with paleolithic intellects seem
to think it exquisitely humorous to see a man fall down and hurt
himself. A practical joke which hurts no one is another matter. All
those privileged to enjoy the friendship of the late Admiral Lord
Charles Beresford will always treasure the memory of that genial and
delightful personality. About thirty years ago an elderly gentleman
named Bankes-Stanhope seemed to imagine that he had some proprietary
rights in the Carlton Club. Mr. Bankes-Stanhope had his own chair,
lamp, and table there, and was exceedingly zealous in reminding members
of the various rules of the club. Smoking was strictly forbidden in the
hall of the Carlton at that time. I was standing in the hall one night
when Lord Charles came out of the writing-room, a big bundle of newly
written letters in his hand, and a large cigar in his mouth. He had
just received a shilling's-worth of stamps from the waiter, when old
Mr. Bankes-Stanhope, who habitually puffed and blew like Mr.
Jogglebury-Crowdey of "Sponge's Sporting Tour," noticed the forbidden
cigar through a glass door, and came puffing and blowing into the hall
in hot indignation. He reproved Lord Charles Beresford for his breach
of the club rules in, as I thought, quite unnecessarily severe tones.
The genial Admiral kept his temper, but detached one penny stamp from
his roll, licked it, and placed it on his forefinger. "My dear Mr.
Stanhope," he began, "it was a little oversight of mine. I was writing
in there, do you see?" (a friendly little tap on Mr. Bankes-Stanhope's
shirt-front, and on went a penny stamp), "and I moved in here, you see"
(another friendly tap, and on went a second stamp), "and forgot about
my cigar, you see" (a third tap, and a third stamp left adhering). The
breezy Admiral kept up this conversation, punctuated with little taps,
each one of which left its crimson trace on the old gentleman's white
shirt-front, until the whole shilling's-worth was placed in position.
Mr. Bankes-Stanhope was too irate to notice these little manoeuvres; he
maintained his hectoring tone, and never glanced down at his
shirt-front. Finally Lord Charles left, and the old gentleman, still
puffing and blowing with wrath, struggled into his overcoat, and went
off to an official party at Sir Michael Hicks-Beach's, where his
appearance with twelve red penny stamps adhering to his shirt-front
must have created some little astonishment.

In the '86 Parliament there was a certain Member, sitting on the
Conservative side, who had the objectionable habit of removing his
boots (spring-sided ones, too!) in the House, and of sitting in a pair
of very dubious-coloured grey woollen socks, apparently much in want of
the laundress's attentions. Many Members strongly objected to this
practice, but the delinquent persisted in it, in spite of protests. One
night a brother of mine, knowing that there would shortly be a
Division, succeeded in purloining the offending boots by covering them
with his "Order paper," and got them safely out of the House. He hid
them behind some books in the Division Lobby, and soon after the
Division was called. The House emptied, but the discalced legislator
retained his seat. "A Division having been called, the honourable
Member will now withdraw," ordered Mr. Speaker Peel, most awe-inspiring
of men. "Mr. Speaker, I have lost my boots," protested the shoeless
one. "The honourable Member will at once withdraw," ordered the Speaker
for the second time, in his sternest tones; so down the floor of the
House came the unfortunate man--hop, hop, hop, like the "little hare"
in Shock-headed Peter. The iron ventilating gratings were apparently
uncomfortable to shoeless feet, so he went hopping and limping through
the Division Lobby, affording ample glimpses of his deplorably
discoloured woollen footwear. Later in the evening an attendant handed
him a paper parcel containing his boots, the attendant having, of
course, no idea where the parcel had come from. This incident
effectually cured the offender of his unpleasant habit. The accusation
of neglecting his laundress may have been an unfounded one. In my early
youth I was given a book to read about a tiresome little girl named
Ellen Montgomery, who apparently divided her time between reading her
pocket-Bible and indulging in paroxysms of tears. The only incident in
the book I remember is that this lachrymose child had an aunt, a Miss
Fortune, who objected on principle to clean stockings. She accordingly
dyed all Ellen's stockings dirt-colour, to save the washing. It would
be charitable to assume that this particular Member of Parliament had
an aunt with the same economical instincts.

I must plead guilty to two episodes where my sole desire was to avoid
disappointment to others, and to prevent the reality falling short of
the expectation. One was in India. Barrackpore, the Viceroy of India's
official country house, is justly celebrated for its beautiful gardens.
In these gardens every description of tropical tree, shrub and flower
grows luxuriantly. In a far-off corner there is a splendid group of
fan-bananas, otherwise known as the "Traveller's Palm." Owing to the
habit of growth of this tree, every drop of rain or dew that falls on
its broad, fan-shaped crown of leaves is caught, and runs down the
grooved stalks of the plant into receptacles that cunning Nature has
fashioned just where the stalk meets the trunk. Even in the driest
weather, these little natural tanks will, if gashed with a knife, yield
nearly a tumblerful of pure sweet water, whence the popular name for
the tree. A certain dull M.P., on his travels, had come down to
Barrackpore for Sunday, and inquired eagerly whether there were any
Travellers' Trees either in the park or the gardens there, as he had
heard of them, but had never yet seen one. We assured him that in the
cool of the evening we would show him quite a thicket of Travellers'
Trees. It occurred to the Viceroy's son and myself that it would be a
pity should the globe-trotting M.P.'s expectations not be realised,
after the long spell of drought we had had. So the two of us went off
and carefully filled up the natural reservoirs of some six fan-bananas
with fresh spring-water till they were brimful. Suddenly we had a
simultaneous inspiration, and returning to the house we fetched two
bottles of light claret, which we poured carefully into the natural
cisterns of two more trees, which we marked. Late in the afternoon we
conducted the M.P. to the grove of Travellers' Trees, handed him a
glass, and made him gash the stem of one of them with his pen knife.
Thanks to our preparation, it gushed water like one of the Trafalgar
Square fountains, and the touring legislator was able to satisfy
himself that it was good drinking-water. He had previously been making
some inquiries about so-called "Palm-wine," which is merely the
fermented juice of the toddy-palm. We told him that some Travellers'
Palms produced this wine, and with a slight exercise of ingenuity we
induced him to tap one of the trees we had doctored with claret.
Naturally, a crimson liquid spouted into his glass in response to the
thrust of his pen-knife, and after tasting it two or three times, he
reluctantly admitted that its flavour was not unlike that of red wine.
It ought to have been, considering that we had poured an entire bottle
of good sound claret into that tree. The ex-M.P. possibly reflects now
on the difficulties with which any attempts to introduce "Pussyfoot"
legislation into India would be confronted in a land where some trees
produce red wine spontaneously.

On another occasion I was going by sea from Calcutta to Ceylon. On
board the steamer there were a number of Americans, principally ladies,
connected, I think, with some missionary undertaking. When we got
within about a hundred miles of Ceylon, these American ladies all began
repeating to each other the verse of the well-known hymn:

    "What though the spicy breezes
    Blow soft o'er Ceylon's isle,"

over and over again, until I loathed Bishop Heber for having written
the lines. They even asked the captain how far out to sea the spicy
breezes would be perceptible. I suddenly got an idea, and, going below,
I obtained from the steward half a dozen nutmegs and a handful of
cinnamon. I grated the nutmegs and pounded the cinnamon up, and then,
with one hand full of each, I went on deck, and walked slowly up and
down in front of the American tourists. Soon I heard an ecstatic cry,
"My dear, I distinctly smelt spice then!" Another turn, and another
jubilant exclamation: "It's quite true about the spicy breezes. I got a
delicious whiff just then. Who would have thought that they would have
carried so far out to sea?" A sceptical elderly gentleman was summoned
from below, and he, after a while, was reluctantly forced to avow that
he, too, had noticed the spicy fragrance. No wonder! when I had about a
quarter of a pound of grated nutmeg in one hand, and as much pounded
cinnamon in the other. Now these people will go on declaring to the end
of their lives that they smelt the spicy odours of Ceylon a full
hundred miles out at sea, just as the travelling M.P. will assert that
a tree in India produces a very good imitation of red wine. It is a
nice point determining how far one is morally responsible oneself for
the unconscious falsehoods into which these people have been betrayed.
I should like to have had the advice of Mrs. Fairchild, of the
Fairchild Family upon this delicate question. I feel convinced that
that estimable lady, with her inexhaustible repertory of supplications,
would instantly have recited by heart "a prayer against the temptation
to lead others into uttering untruths unconsciously," which would have
met the situation adequately, for not once in the book, when appealed
to, did she fail to produce a lengthy and elaborately worded petition,
adapted to the most unexpected emergencies, and I feel confident that
her moral armoury would have included a prayer against tendencies to
"leg-pulling."

To return to the London of the "seventies" and "eighties" after this
brief journey to the East, nothing is more noticeable than the way
public interest in Parliamentary proceedings has vanished. When I was a
boy, all five of the great London dailies, The Times, Morning Post,
Standard, Daily Telegraph, and Daily News, published the fullest
reports of Parliamentary news, and the big provincial dailies followed
their example. Every one then seemed to follow the proceedings of
Parliament with the utmost interest; even at Harrow the elder boys read
the Parliamentary news and discussed it, and I have heard keen-witted
Lancashire artisans eagerly debating the previous night's Parliamentary
encounters. Now the most popular newspapers give the scantiest and
baldest summaries of proceedings in the House of Commons. It is an
editor's business to know the tastes of his readers; if Parliamentary
reports are reduced to a minimum, it must be because they no longer
interest the public. This, again, is quite intelligible. When I first
entered Parliament in 1885 (to which Parliament, by the way, all four
Hamilton brothers had been elected), there were commanding
personalities and great orators in the House: Mr. Gladstone, John
Bright, Joseph Chamberlain, Lord Hartington, Henry James and Randolph
Churchill. When any of these rose to speak, the House filled at once,
they were listened to with eager attention, and every word they uttered
would be read by hundreds of thousands of people next day. Nowadays
proceedings in Parliament seem to be limited to a very occasional solo
from the one star-performer, the rest of the time being occupied by
uninteresting interludes by his understudies, all of which may serve to
explain the decline in public interest. At the time of the Peace of
Paris in 1856, on the termination of the Crimean War, there were in the
House of Commons such outstanding figures as Gladstone, Disraeli, Lord
John Russell, John Bright, and Palmerston; the statesman had not yet
dwindled into the lawyer-politician.

I only heard Mr. Gladstone speak in his old age, when his voice had
acquired a slight roughness which detracted, I thought, from his
wonderful gift of oratory. Mr. Gladstone, too, had certain
peculiarities of pronunciation; he always spoke of "constitootional"
and of "noos." John Bright was a most impressive speaker; he obtained
his effects by the simplest means, for he seldom used long words;
indeed he was supposed to limit himself to words of Saxon origin, with
all their condensed vigour. Is not Newman's hymn, "Lead, Kindly Light,"
considered to be a model of English, as it is composed almost entirely
of monosyllables, and, with six exceptions, of words of Saxon origin?
John Bright's speaking had the same quality as Cardinal Newman's hymn.
In spite of his eloquence, John Bright's prophecies were invariably
falsified by subsequent events. I have never heard any one speak with
such facility as Joseph Chamberlain. His utterance was so singularly
clear that, though he habitually spoke in a very low voice, every
syllable penetrated to all parts of the House. When Chamberlain was
really in a dangerous mood, his voice became ominously bland, and his
manner quieter than ever. Then was the time for his enemies to tremble.
I heard him once roll out and demolish a poor facile-tongued
professional spouter so completely and remorsely that the unfortunate
man never dared to open his mouth in the House of Commons again. I
think that any old Member of Parliament will agree with me when I place
David Plunkett, afterwards Lorth Rathmore, who represented for many
years Trinity College, Dublin, in the very front rank as an orator.
Plunkett was an indolent man, and spoke very rarely indeed. When really
roused, and on a subject which he had genuinely at heart, he could rise
to heights of splendid eloquence. Plunkett had a slight impediment in
his speech; when wound up, this impediment, so far from detracting
from, added to the effect he produced. I heard Mr. Gladstone's last
speech in Parliament, on March 1, 1894. It was frankly a great
disappointment. I sat then on the Opposition side, but we Unionists had
all assembled to cheer the old man who was to make his farewell speech
to the Assembly in which he had sat for sixty years, and of which he
had been so dominating and so unique a personality, although we were
bitterly opposed to him politically. The tone of his speech made this
difficult for us. Instead of being a dignified farewell to the House,
as we had anticipated, it was querulous and personal, with a peevish
and minatory note in it that made anything but perfunctory applause
from the Opposition side very hard to produce. Two days afterwards, on
March 3, 1894, Mr. Gladstone resigned. In the light of recent
revelations, we know now that his failing eyesight was but a pretext.
Lord Spencer, then First Lord of the Admiralty, had framed his Naval
Estimates, and declared that the shipbuilding programme outlined in
those Estimates was absolutely necessary for the national safety. Mr.
Gladstone, supported by some of his colleagues, refused to sanction
these Estimates. Some long-headed Members of the Cabinet saw clearly
that if Lord Spencer insisted on his Estimates, in the then temper of
the country, the Liberal party would go to certain defeat. Accordingly,
Mr. Gladstone was induced to resign, as the easiest way out of the
difficulty. I do not gather, though, that those of his colleagues who,
with him, disapproved of the Naval Estimates, thought it their duty to
follow their chief into retirement.

I am amused on seeing on contents bills of news-papers, as a rare item
of news, "All-night sitting of Commons."

In the 1886 Parliament practically every night was an all-night
sitting. Under the old rules of Procedure, as the Session advanced, we
were kept up night after night till 5 a.m. Some Members, notably the
late Henry Labouchere, took a sort of impish delight in keeping the
House sitting late. Many Front-Bench men had their lives shortened by
the strain these late hours imposed on them, notably Edward Stanhope
and Mr. W. H. Smith. Mr. W. H. Smith occupied a very extraordinary
position. This plain-faced man, who could hardly string two words
together, was regarded by all his friends with deep respect, almost
with affection. My brother George has told me that, were there any
disputes in the Cabinet of which he was a member, the invariable advice
of the older men was to "go and take Smith's advice about it." Men
carried their private, domestic, and even financial troubles to this
wise counsellor, confident that the advice given would be sound. Mr.
Smith had none of the more ornamental qualities, but his fund of common
sense was inexhaustible, he never spared himself in his friends'
service, and his high sense of honour and strength of character earned
him the genuine regard of all those who really knew him. He was a very
fine specimen of the unassuming, honourable, high-minded English
gentleman.

In the 1886 Parliament, Mr. Akers-Douglas, now Lord Chilston, was Chief
Conservative Whip and he was singularly fortunate in his Assistant
Whips. Sir William Walrond, now Lord Waleran, Sir Herbert Maxwell, and
the late Sidney Herbert, afterwards fourteenth Earl of Pembroke, formed
a wonderful trio, for Nature had bestowed on each of them a singularly
engaging personality. The strain put on Members of the Opposition was
very severe; our constant attendance was demanded, and we spent
practically our whole lives in the precincts of the House. However much
we longed for a little relaxation and a little change, it was really
impossible to resist the blandishments of the Assistant Whips. They
made it a sort of personal appeal, and a test of personal friendship to
themselves, so grudgingly the contemplated visit to the theatre was
abandoned, and we resigned ourselves to six more hours inside the
over-familiar building.

Sir William Hart-Dyke had been Chief Conservative Whip in the 1868-1873
Parliament. He married in May 1870, in the middle of the session at a
very critical political period. He most unselfishly consented to forego
his honeymoon, or to postpone it, and there were rumours that on the
very evening of his wedding-day, his sense of duty had been so strong
that he had appeared in the House of Commons to "tell" in an important
Division. When Disraeli was asked if this were true, he shook his head,
and said, "I hardly think so. Hart-Dyke was married that day. Hart-Dyke
is a gentleman; he would never kiss AND 'tell.'" As a pendant to this,
there was another Sir William, a baronet whose name I will suppress.
With execrable taste, he was fond of boasting by name of his amatory
successes. He was always known as "William Tell."

In 1886 the long hours in the House of Commons hung very heavily on our
hands, once the always voluminous daily correspondence of an M.P. had
been disposed of. My youngest brother and I, both then well under
thirty, used to hire tricycles from the dining-room attendants, and
have races up and down the long river terrace, much to the interest of
passers-by on Westminster Bridge. We projected, to pass the time, a
"Soulful Song-Cycle," which was frankly to be an attempt at pulling the
public's leg. Our Song-Cycle never matured, though I did write the
first one of the series, an imaginative effort entitled "In Listless
Frenzy." It was, and was intended to be, utter nonsense, devoid alike
of grammar and meaning. I quoted my "Listless Frenzy" one night to an
"intense" and gushing lady, as an example of the pitiable rubbish
decadent minor poets were then turning out. It began--

    "Crimson wreaths of passionless flowers
    Down in the golden glen;
    Silvery sheen of autumnal showers;
    When, my beloved one, when?"

She assured me that the fault lay in myself, not in the lines; that I
was of too material a temperament to appreciate the subtle beauty of
so-and-so's work. I forget to whom I had attributed the verses, but I
felt quite depressed at reflecting that I was too material to
understand the lines I had myself written.

My brother was a great admirer of the Ingoldsby Legends, and could
himself handle Richard Barham's fascinating metre very effectively. He
was meditating "A Pseudo-Ingoldsbean Lay," dealing with leading
personalities in the then House of Commons. The idea came to nothing,
as an "Ingoldsby Legend" must, from its very essence, be cast in a
narrative form, and the subject did not lend itself to narrative.
Although it has nothing to do with the subject in hand, I must quote
some lines from "The Raid of Carlisle," another "Pseudo-Ingoldsbean
Lay" of my brother's, to show how easily he could use Barham's metre,
with its ear-tickling double rhyme, and how thoroughly he had
assimilated the spirit of the Ingoldsby Legends. The extracts are from
an account of an incident which occurred in 1596 when Lord Scroop was
Warden of the Western or English Marches on behalf of Elizabeth, while
Buccleuch, on the Scottish side, was Warden of the Middle Marches on
behalf of James VI.

    "Now, I'd better explain, while I'm still in the vein,
    That towards the close of Elizabeth's reign,
    Though the 'thistle and rose' were no longer at blows,
    They'd a way of disturbing each other's repose.
    A mode of proceeding most clearly exceeding
    The rules of decorum, and palpably needing
    Some clear understanding between the two nations,
    By which to adjust their unhappy relations.
    With this object in view, it occurred to Buccleuch
    That a great deal of mutual good would accrue
    If they settled that he and Lord Scroop's nominee
    Should meet once a year, and between them agree
    To arbitrate all controversial cases
    And grant an award on an equable basis.
    A brilliant idea that promised to be a
    Corrective, if not a complete panacea--
    For it really appears that for several years,
    These fines of 'poll'd Angus' and Galloway steers
    Did greatly conduce, during seasons of truce,
    To abating traditional forms of abuse,
    And to giving the roues of Border society
    Some little sense of domestic propriety.

    So finding himself, so to speak, up a tree,
    And unable to think of a neat repartee,
    He wisely concluded (as Brian Boru did,
    On seeing his 'illigant counthry' denuded
    Of cattle and grain that were swept from the plain
    By the barbarous hand of the pillaging Dane)
    To bandy no words with a dominant foe,
    But to wait for a chance of returning the blow,
    And then let him have it in more suo."

These extracts make me regret that the leading personalities in the
Parliament of 1886 were not commemorated in the same pleasant, jingling
metre.



CHAPTER VIII


The Foreign Office--The new Private Secretary--A Cabinet
key--Concerning theatricals--Some surnames which have passed into
everyday use--Theatricals at Petrograd--A mock-opera--The family from
Runcorn--An embarrassing predicament--Administering the oath--Secret
Service--Popular errors--Legitimate employment of information--The
Phoenix Park murders--I sanction an arrest--The innocent victim--The
execution of the murderers of Alexander II.--The jarring military
band--Black Magic--Sir Charles Wyke--Some of his experiences--The
seance at the Pantheon--Sir Charles' experiment on myself--The
Alchemists--The Elixir of Life, and the Philosopher's Stone--Lucid
directions for their manufacture--Glamis Castle and its
inhabitants--The tuneful Lyon family--Mr. Gladstone at Glamis--He sings
in the glees--The castle and its treasures--Recollections of Glamis.


Having successfully defeated the Civil Service Examiners, I entered the
Foreign Office in 1876, for the six or eight months' training which all
Attaches had to undergo before being sent abroad. The typewriter had
not then been invented, so everything was copied by hand--a wearisome
and deadening occupation where very lengthy documents were concerned.

The older men in the Foreign Office were great sticklers for observing
all the traditional forms. Lord Granville, in obedience to political
pressure, had appointed the son of a leading politician as one of his
unpaid private secretaries. The youth had been previously in his
father's office in Leeds. On the day on which he started work in the
Foreign Office he was given a bundle of letters to acknowledge. "You
know, of course, the ordinary form of acknowledgment," said his chief.
"Just acknowledge all these, and say that the matter will be attended
to." When the young man from Leeds brought the letters he had written,
for signature that evening, it was currently reported that they were
all worded in the same way: "Dear Sirs:--Your esteemed favour of
yesterday's date duly to hand, and contents noted. Our Lord Granville
has your matter in hand." The horror-stricken official gasped at such a
departure from established routine.

As was the custom then, after one month in the Foreign Office, my
immediate chief gave me a little lecture on the traditional high
standard of honour of the Foreign Office, which he was sure I would
observe, and then handed me a Cabinet key which he made me attach to my
watch-chain in his presence. This Cabinet key unlocked all the boxes in
which the most confidential papers of the Cabinet were circulated. As
things were then arranged, this key was essential to our work, but a
boy just turned twenty naturally felt immensely proud of such a proof
of the confidence reposed in him. I think, too, that the Foreign Office
can feel justifiably proud of the fact that the trust reposed in its
most junior members was never once betrayed, and that the most weighty
secrets were absolutely safe in their keeping.

I have narrated elsewhere my early experiences at Berlin and Petrograd.
In every capital the Diplomatists must always be, in a sense,
sojourners in a strange land, and many of them who find a difficulty in
amalgamating with the people of the country must always be thrown to a
great extent on their own resources. It is probably for this reason
that theatricals were so popular amongst the Diplomats in Petrograd,
the plays being naturally always acted in French.

Here I felt more or less at home. My grandmother, the Duchess of
Bedford, was passionately fond of acting, and in my grandfather's time,
one room at Woburn Abbey was permanently fitted up as a theatre. Here,
every winter during my mother's girlhood, there was a succession of
performances in which she, her mother and brothers and sisters all took
part, the Russell family having a natural gift for acting. Probably the
very name of Charles Matthews is unfamiliar to the present generations,
so it is sufficient to say that he was THE light comedian of the early
nineteenth century. The Garrick Club possesses a fine collection of
portraits of Charles Matthews in some of his most popular parts.
Charles Matthews acted regularly with the Russell family at Woburn, my
mother playing the lead. I have a large collection of Woburn Abbey
play-bills, from 1831-1839, all printed on white satin, and some of the
pieces they put on were quite ambitious ones. My mother had a very
sweet singing voice, which she retained till late in life; indeed a
tiny thread of voice remained until her ninety-third year, with a faint
remnant of its old sweetness still clinging to it. After her marriage,
her love of theatricals still persisted, so we were often having
performances at home, as my brothers and sisters shared her tastes. I
made my first appearance on the stage at the age of seven, and I can
still remember most of my lines.

At Petrograd, in the French theatricals, I was always cast for old men,
and I must have played countless fathers, uncles, generals, and family
lawyers. As unmarried girls took part in these performances, the French
pieces had to be considerably "bowdlerized," but they still remained as
excruciatingly funny as only French pieces can be.

If I may be permitted a rather lengthy digression, "bowdlerised"
derives its name from Thomas Bowdler, who in 1818 published an
expurgated edition of Shakespeare. It would be rather interesting to
make a list of words which have passed into common parlance but which
were originally derived from some peculiarity of the person whose
surname they perpetuate. A few occur to me. In addition to
"bowdlerise," there is "sandwich." As is well known, this compact form
of nourishment derives its name from John, fourth Earl of Sandwich, who
lived between 1718-1792. Lord Sandwich was a confirmed gambler, and
such was his anxiety to lose still more money, and to impoverish
further himself, his family, and his descendants, that he grudged the
time necessary for meals, and had slices of bread and slices of meat
placed by his side. The inventive faculty being apparently but little
developed during the eighteenth century, he was the first person who
thought of placing meat between two slices of bread. Owing to the
economy of time thus effected, he was able to ruin himself very
satisfactorily, and his name is now familiar all over the world, thanks
to the condensed form of food he introduced.

Again, Admiral Edward Vernon was Naval Commander-in-Chief in the West
Indies in 1740. The Admiral was known as "Old Grog," from his habit of
always having his breeches and the linings of his boat-cloaks made of
grogram, a species of coarse white poplin (from the French grosgrain).
It occurred to "Old Grog" that, in view of the ravages of yellow fever
amongst the men of the Fleet, it would be advisable, in the burning
climate of the West Indies, to dilute the blue-jackets' rations of rum
with water before serving them out. This was accordingly done, to the
immense dissatisfaction of the men, who probably regarded it as a
forerunner of "Pussyfoot" legislation. They at once christened the
mixture "grog," after the Admiral's nickname, and "grog" as a term for
spirits and water has spread all over the world, and is used just as
much in French as in English.

The origin of the expression "to burke an inquiry," in the sense of
suppressing or stifling it, is due to Burke and Hare, two enterprising
malefactors who supplied the medical schools of Edinburgh with
"subjects" for anatomical research, early in the nineteenth century.
Their procedure was simple. Creeping behind unsuspecting citizens in
lonely streets, they stifled them to death by placing pitch-plasters
over their mouths and noses. Burke was hanged for this in Edinburgh in
1829.

In our own time, an almost unknown man has enriched the language with a
new verb. A Captain Boycott of Lough Mask House, Co. Mayo, was a small
Irish land-agent in 1880. The means that were adopted to try and drive
him out of the country are well known. Since that time the expression
to "boycott" a person, in the sense of combining with others to refuse
to have any dealings with him, has become a recognised English term,
and is just as widely used in France as with us.

A less familiar term is a "Collins," for the usual letter of thanks
which a grateful visitor addresses to his recent host. This, of course,
is derived from the Rev. Mr. Collins of Jane Austen's Pride and
Prejudice, who prided himself on the dexterity with which he worded
these acknowledgments of favours received. As another example, most
bridge-players are but too familiar with the name of a certain defunct
Earl of Yarborough, who, whatever his other good qualities may have
been, scarcely seems to have been a consistently good card-holder.

There must be quite a long list of similar words, and they would make
an interesting study.

To return to the Diplomatic Theatricals at Petrograd, Labiche's piece,
La Cagnotte, is extraordinarily funny, though written over sixty years
ago. We gave a very successful performance of this, in which I played
the restaurant waiter--a capital part. La Lettre Chargee and Le
Sous-Prefet are both most amusing pieces, which can be played, with
very slight "cuts," before any audience, and they both bubble over with
that gaiete francaise which appeals so to me. We were coached at
Petrograd by Andrieux, the jeune premier of the Theatre Michel, and we
all became very professional indeed, never talking of Au Seconde Acte,
but saying Au Deux, in proper French stage style. We also endeavoured
to cultivate the long-drawn-out "a's" of the Comedie Francaise, and
pronounced "adorahtion" and "imaginahtion" in the traditional manner of
the "Maison de Moliere."

The British business community in Petrograd were also extremely fond of
getting up theatricals, in this case, of course, in English. If in the
French plays I was invariably cast for old men, in the English ones I
was always allotted the extremely juvenile parts, being still very slim
and able to "make up" young. I must confess to having appeared on the
stage in an Eton jacket and collar at the age of twenty-four, as the
schoolboy in Peril.

Russians are extremely clever at parody. Two brothers Narishkin wrote
an intensely amusing mock serious opera, entitled Gargouillada, ou la
Belle de Venise. It was written half in French and mock-Italian, and
half in Russian, and was an excellent skit on an old-fashioned Italian
opera. All the ladies fought shy of the part of "Countess Gorganzola,"
the heroine's grandmother. This was partly due to the boldness of some
of "Gorganzola's" lines, and also to the fact that whoever played the
role would have to make-up frankly as an old woman. I was asked to take
"Countess Gorganzola" instead of the villain of the piece, which I had
rehearsed, and I did so, turning it into a sort of Charley's Aunt part.
Garouillada went with a roar from the opening chorus to the final
tableau, and so persistently enthusiastic were the audience that we
agreed to give the opera again four nights in succession.

I was at work in the Chancery of the Embassy next morning when three
people were ushered in to me. They were a family from either St.
Helens, Runcorn, or Widnes, I forget which, all speaking the broadest
Lancashire. The navigation of the Neva being again opened, they had
come on a little trip to Russia on a tramp-steamer belonging to a
friend of theirs. There was the father, a short, thickset man in shiny
black broadcloth, with a shaven upper lip, and a voluminous red
"Newgate-frill" framing his face--exactly the type of face one
associates with the Deacon of a Calvinistic-Methodist Chapel; there was
the mother, a very grim-looking female; and the son, a nondescript
hobbledehoy with goggle-eyes. It appeared that after their passports
had been inspected on landing, the goggle-eyed boy had laid his down
somewhere and had lost it. No hotel would take him in without a
passport, but these people were so obviously genuine, that I had no
hesitation in issuing a fresh passport to the lad, after swearing the
father to an affidavit that the protuberant-eyed youth was his lawful
son. After a few kind words as to the grave effects of any carelessness
with passports in a country like Russia, I let the trio from Runcorn
(or St. Helens) depart.

That evening I had just finished dressing and making-up as Countess
Gorganzola, when I was told that three English people who had come on
from the Embassy wished to see me. The curtain would be going up in ten
minutes, so I got an obliging Russian friend who spoke English to go
down and interview them. The strong Lancashire accent defeated him. All
he could tell me was that it was something about a passport, and that
it was important. I was in a difficulty. It would have taken at least
half an hour to change and make-up again, and the curtain was going up
almost at once, so after some little hesitation I decided to go down as
I was. I was wearing a white wig with a large black lace cap, and a
gown of black moire-antique trimmed with flounces and hanging sleeves
of an abominable material known as black Chantilly lace. Any one who
has ever had to wear this hateful fabric knows how it catches in every
possible thing it can do. Down I went, and the trio from Widnes (or
Runcorn) seemed surprised at seeing an old lady enter the room. But
when I spoke, and they recognised in the old lady the frock-coated (and
I trust sympathetic) official they had interviewed earlier in the day,
their astonishment knew no bounds. The father gazed at me
horror-stricken, as though I were a madman; the mother kept on
swallowing, as ladies of her type do when they wish to convey strong
disapprobation; and the prominent-orbed boy's eyes nearly fell out of
his head. I explained that some theatricals were in progress, but that
did not mend matters; evidently in the serious circles in which they
moved in St. Helens (or Widnes), theatricals were regarded as one of
the snares of the Evil One. To make matters worse, one of my Chantilly
lace sleeves caught in the handle of a drawer, and perhaps excusably,
but quite audibly, I condemned all Chantilly lace to eternal
punishment, but in a much shorter form. After that they looked on me as
clearly beyond the pale. The difficulty about the passport was easily
adjusted. The police had threatened to arrest the young man, as his new
passport was clearly not the one with which he had entered Russia. The
Russian Minister of the Interior happened to be in the green-room, and
on my personal guarantee as to the identity of the Widnes youth, he
wrote an order to the police on his visiting-card, bidding them to
leave the goggle-eyed boy in peace. I really tremble to think of the
reports this family must have circulated upon their return to Widnes
(or Runcorn) as to the frivolity of junior members of the British
Diplomatic Service, who dressed up as old women, and used bad language
about Chantilly lace.

There is a wearisome formality known as "legalising" which took up much
time at the Berlin Embassy. Commercial agreements, if they are to be
binding in two countries, say Germany and England, have to be
"legalised," and this must be done at the Embassy, not at the
Consulate. The individual bringing the document has to make a sworn
affidavit that the contents of his papers are true; he then signs it,
the dry-seal of the Embassy is embossed on it, and a rubber stamp
impressed, declaring that the affidavit has been duly sworn to before a
member of the Embassy staff. This is then signed and dated, and the
process is complete. There were strings of people daily in Berlin with
documents to be legalised, and on a little shelf in the Chancery
reposed an Authorized Version of the Bible, a German Bible, a Vulgate
version of the Gospels in Latin, and a Pentateuch in Hebrew, for the
purpose of administering the oath, according to the religion professed
by the individual. I was duly instructed how to administer the oath in
German, and was told that my first question must be as to the religion
the applicant professed, and that I was then to choose my Book
accordingly. My great friend at Berlin was my fellow-attache Maude, a
most delightful little fellow, who was universally popular. Poor Maude,
who was a near relation of Mr. Cyril Maude the actor's, died four years
afterwards in China. Most of the applicants for legalisation were of
one particular faith. I admired the way in which little Maude, without
putting the usual question as to religion, would scan the features of
the applicant closely and then hand him the Hebrew Pentateuch, and
request him to put on his hat. (Jews are always sworn covered.) About a
month after my arrival in Berlin, I was alone in the Chancery when a
man arrived with a document for legalisation. I was only twenty at the
time, and felt rather "bucked" at administering my first oath. I
thought that I would copy little Maude's methods, and after a good look
at my visitor's prominent features, I handed him the Pentateuch and
requested him to put on his hat. He was perfectly furious, and declared
that both he and his father had been pillars of the Lutheran Church all
their lives. I apologised profusely, but all the same I am convinced
that the original family seat had been situated in the valley of the
Jordan. I avoided, however, guesses as to religions for the future.

Both at Berlin and at Petrograd I kept what are known as the
"Extraordinary Accounts" of the Embassies. I am therefore in a position
to give the exact amount spent on Secret Service, but I have not the
faintest intention of doing anything of the sort. Suffice it to say
that it is less than one-twentieth of the sum the average person would
imagine. Bought information is nearly always unreliable information. A
moment's consideration will show that, should a man be base enough to
sell his country's secrets to his country's possible enemy, he would
also unhesitatingly cheat, if he could, the man who purchases that
information, which, from the very nature of the case, it is almost
impossible to verify. In all probability the so-called information
would have been carefully prepared at the General Staff for the express
purpose of fooling the briber. There is a different class of
information which, it seems to me, is more legitimate to acquire. The
Russian Ministries of Commerce and Finance always imagined that they
could overrule economic laws by decrees and stratagems. For instance,
they were perpetually endeavouring to divert the flow of trade from its
accustomed channels to some port they wished to stimulate artificially
into prosperity, by granting rebates, and by exceptionally favourable
railway rates. Large quantities of jute sacking were imported from
Dundee to be made into bags for the shipment of Russian wheat. One
Minister of Commerce elaborated an intricate scheme for supplanting the
jute sacking by coarse linen sacking of Russian manufacture, by
granting a bonus to the makers of the latter, and by doubling the
import duties on the Scottish-woven material. I could multiply these
economic schemes indefinitely. Now let us suppose that we had some
source of information in the Ministry of Commerce, it was obviously of
advantage to the British Government and to British traders to be warned
of the pending economic changes some two years in advance, for nothing
is ever done quickly in Russia. People in England then knew what to
expect, and could make their arrangements accordingly. I can see
nothing repugnant to the most rigid code of honour in obtaining
information of this kind.

On May 6, 1882, Lord Frederick Cavendish, the newly appointed Irish
Secretary, and Mr. Burke, the Permanent Under-Secretary for Ireland,
were assassinated in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. I knew Tom Burke very
well indeed. The British Government offered a reward of ten thousand
pounds for the apprehension of the murderers, and every policeman in
Europe had rosy dreams of securing this great prize, and was constantly
on the alert for the criminals and the reward.

In July 1882, the Ambassador and half the Embassy staff were on leave
in England. As matters were very slack just then, the Charge d'Affaires
and the Second Secretary had gone to Finland for four days' fishing,
leaving me in charge of the Embassy, with an Attache to help me. My
servant came to me early one morning as I was in bed, and told me that
an official of the Higher Police was outside my front door, and begged
for permission to come into my flat. I have explained elsewhere that
Ambassadors, their families, their staffs, and even all the Embassy
servants enjoy what is called exterritoriality; that is, that by a
polite fiction the Embassy and the houses or apartments of the
Secretaries are supposed to be on the actual soil of the country they
represent. Consequently, the police of the country cannot enter them
except by special permission, and both the Secretaries and their
servants are immune from arrest, and are not subject to the laws of the
country, though they can, of course, be expelled from it. I gave the
policeman leave to enter, and he came into my bedroom. "I have caught
one of the Phoenix Park murderers," he told me triumphantly in Russian,
visions of the possible ten thousand pounds wreathing his face in
smiles. I jumped up incredulously. He went on to inform me that a man
had landed from the Stockholm steamer early that morning. Though he
declared that he had no arms with him, a revolver and a dagger had been
found in his trunk. His passport had only been issued at the British
Legation in Stockholm, and his description tallied exactly with the
signalment issued by Scotland Yard in eight languages. The policier
showed me the description: "height about five feet nine; complexion
sallow, with dark eyes. Thickset build; probably with some recent cuts
on face and hands." The policeman declared that the cuts were there,
and that it was unquestionably the man wanted. Then he put the question
point-blank, would the Embassy sanction this man's arrest? I was only
twenty-five at the time. I had to act on "my own," and I had to decide
quickly. "Yes, arrest him," I said, "but you are not to take him to
prison. Confine him to his room at his hotel, with two or three of your
men to watch him. I will dress and come there as quickly as I can."

Half an hour later I was in a grubby room of a grubby hotel, where a
short, sallow, thickset man, with three recent cuts on his face, was
walking up and down, smoking cigarettes feverishly, and throwing
frightened glances at three sinister-looking plain-clothes men, who
pretended to be quite at ease. I looked again at the description and at
the man. There could be no doubt about it. I asked him for his own
account of himself. He told me that he was the Manager of the
Gothenburg Tramway Company in Sweden, an English concern, and that he
had come to Russia for a little holiday. He accounted for the cuts on
his face and hands by saying that he had slipped and fallen on his face
whilst alighting from a moving tram-car. He declared that he was well
known in Stockholm, and that his wife, when packing his things, must
have put in the revolver and dagger without his knowledge. It all
sounded grotesquely improbable, but I promised to telegraph both to
Stockholm and Gothenburg, and to return to him as soon as I had
received the answers. In the meanwhile I feared that he must consider
himself as under close arrest. He himself was under the impression that
all the trouble was due to the concealed arms; the Phoenix Park murders
had never once been mentioned. I sent off a long telegram in cypher to
the Stockholm Legation, making certain inquiries, and a longer one en
clair to the British Consul at Gothenburg. By nagging at the Attache,
and by keeping that dapper young gentleman's nose pretty close to the
grindstone, I got the first telegram cyphered and dispatched by 10
a.m.; the answers arrived about 4 p.m. The man's story was true in
every particular. He HAD fallen off a moving tram and cut his face; his
wife, terrified at the idea of unknown dangers in Russia, HAD borrowed
a revolver and dagger from a friend, and had packed them in her
husband's trunk without his knowledge. Mr. D---- (I remember his name
perfectly) was well known in Stockholm, and was a man of the highest
respectability. I drove as fast as I could to the grubby hotel, where I
found the poor fellow still restlessly pacing the room, and still
smoking cigarette after cigarette. There was a perfect Mont Blanc of
cigarette stumps on a plate, and the shifty-looking plain-clothes men
were still watching their man like hawks. I told the police that they
had got hold of the wrong man, that the Embassy was quite satisfied
about him, and that they must release the gentleman at once. They
accordingly did so, and the alluring vision of the ten thousand pounds
vanished into thin air! The poor man was quite touchingly grateful to
me; he had formed the most terrible ideas about a Russian State prison,
and seemed to think that he owed his escape entirely to me. I had not
the moral courage to tell him that I had myself ordered his arrest that
morning, still less of the awful crime of which he had been suspected.
Looking back, I do not see how I could have acted otherwise; the prima
facie case against him was so strong; never was circumstantial evidence
apparently clearer. Mr. D---- went back to Sweden next day, as he had
had enough of Russia. Should Mr. D---- still be alive, and should he by
any chance read these lines, may I beg of him to accept my humblest
apologies for the way I behaved to him thirty-eight years ago.

I happened to see the four assassins of Alexander II. driven through
the streets of Petrograd on their way to execution. They were seated in
chairs on large tumbrils, with their backs to the horses. Each one had
a placard on his, or her breast, inscribed "Regicide" ("Tsaryubeeyetz"
in Russian). Two military brass bands, playing loudly, followed the
tumbrils. This was to make it impossible for the condemned persons to
address the crowd, but the music might have been selected more
carefully. One band played the well-known march from Fatinitza. There
was a ghastly incongruity between the merry strains of this captivating
march and the terrible fate that awaited the people escorted by the
band at the end of their last drive on earth. When the first band
rested, the second replaced it instantly to avoid any possibilities of
a speech. The second band seemed to me to have made an equally unhappy
selection of music. "Kaiser Alexander," written as a complimentary
tribute to the murdered Emperor by a German composer, is a spirited and
tuneful march, but as "Kaiser Alexander" was dead, and had been killed
by the very people who were now going to expiate their crime, the
familiar tune jarred horribly. A jaunty, lively march tune, and death
at the end of it, and in a sense at the beginning of it too. At times
even now I can conjure up a vision of the broad, sombre Petrograd
streets, with the dull cotton-wool sky pressing down almost on to the
house-tops; the vast silent crowds thronging the thoroughfares, and the
tumbrils rolling slowly forward through the crowded streets to the
place of execution, accompanied by the gay strains of the march from
Fatinitza. The hideous incongruity between the tune and the occasion
made one positively shudder.

There is in the Russian temperament a peculiar unbalanced hysterical
element. This, joined to a distinct bent towards the mystic, and to a
large amount of credulity, has made Russia for two hundred years the
happy hunting-ground of charlatans and impostors of various sorts
claiming supernatural powers: clairvoyants, mediums, yogis, and all the
rest of the tribe who batten on human weaknesses, and the perpetual
desire to tear away the veil from the Unseen. It so happened that my
chief at Lisbon had in his youth dabbled in the Black Art. Sir Charles
Wyke was a dear old man, who had spent most of his Diplomatic career in
Mexico and the South American Republics. He spoke Spanish better than
any other Englishman I ever knew, with the one exception of Sir William
Barrington. He was unmarried, and was a most distinguished-looking old
gentleman with his snow-white imperial and moustache. He was
unquestionably a little eccentric in his habits. He had rendered some
signal service to the Mexican Government while British Minister there,
by settling a dispute between them and the French authorities. The
Mexican Government had out of gratitude presented him with a splendid
Mexican saddle, with pommel, stirrups and bit of solid silver, and with
the leather of the saddle most elaborately embroidered in silver. Sir
Charles kept this trophy on a saddle-tree in his study at Lisbon, and
it was his custom to sit on it daily for an hour or so. He said that as
he was too old to ride, the feel of a saddle under him reminded him of
his youth. When every morning I brought the old gentleman the day's
dispatches, I always found him seated on his saddle, a cigar in his
mouth, a skull-cap on his head, and his feet in the silver
shoe-stirrups. Sir Charles had been a great friend of the first Lord
Lytton, the novelist, and they had together dabbled in Black Magic. Sir
Charles declared that the last chapters in Bulwer-Lytton's wonderful
imaginative work, A STRANGE STORY, describing the preparation of the
Elixir of Life in the heart of the Australian Bush, were all founded on
actual experience, with the notable reservation that all the recorded
attempts made to produce this magic fluid had failed from their very
start. He had in his younger days joined a society of Rosicrucians, by
which I do not mean the Masonic Order of that name, but persons who
sought to penetrate into the Forbidden Domain. Some forty years ago a
very interesting series of articles appeared in Vanity Fair (the weekly
newspaper, not Thackeray's masterpiece), under the title of "The Black
Art." In one of these there was an account of a seance which took place
at the Pantheon in Oxford Street, in either the "forties" or the
"fifties." A number of people had hired the hall, and the Devil was
invoked in due traditional form, Then something happened, and the
entire assemblage rushed terror-stricken into Oxford Street, and
nothing would induce a single one of them to re-enter the building. Sir
Charles owned that he had been present at the seance, but he would
never tell me what it was that frightened them all so; he said that he
preferred to forget the whole episode. Sir Charles had an idea that I
was a "sensitive," so, after getting my leave to try his experiment, he
poured into the palm of my hand a little pool of quicksilver, and
placing me under a powerful shaded lamp, so that a ray of light caught
the mercury pool, he told me to look at the bright spot for a quarter
of an hour, remaining motionless meanwhile. Any one who has shared this
experience with me, knows how the speck of light flashes and grows
until that little pool of quicksilver seems to fill the entire horizon,
darting out gleaming rays like an Aurora Borealis. I felt myself
growing dazed and hypnotised, when Sir Charles emptied the mercury from
my hand, and commenced making passes over me, looking, with his slender
build and his white hair and beard, like a real mediaeval magician.
"Now you can neither speak nor move," he cried at length. "I think I
can do both, Sir Charles," I answered, as I got out of the chair. He
tried me on another occasion, and then gave me up. I was clearly not a
"sensitive."

Sir Charles had quite a library of occult books, from which I
endeavoured to glean a little knowledge, and great rubbish most of them
were. Raymond Lully, Basil Valentine, Paracelsus, and Van Helmont; they
were all there, in French, German, Latin, and English. The Alchemists
had two obsessions: one was the discovery of the Elixir of Life, by the
aid of which you could live forever; the other that of the
Philosopher's Stone, which had the property of transmuting everything
it touched into gold. Like practical men, they seemed to have
concentrated their energies more especially on the latter, for a
moment's consideration will show the exceedingly awkward predicament in
which any one would be placed with only the first of these conveniences
at his command. Should he by the aid of the Elixir of Life have managed
to attain the age of, say, 300 years, he might find it excessively hard
to obtain any remunerative employment at that time of life; whereas
with the Philosopher's Stone in his pocket, he would only have to touch
the door-scraper outside his house to find it immediately transmuted
into the purest gold. In case of pressing need, he could extend the
process with like result to his area railings, which ought to be enough
to keep the wolf from the door for some little while even at the
present-day scale of prices.

Basil Valentine, the German Benedictine monk and alchemist, who wrote a
book which he quaintly termed The Triumphant Wagon, in praise of the
healing properties of antimony, actually thought that he had discovered
the Elixir of Life in tartrate of antimony, more generally known as
tartar emetic. He administered large doses of this turbulent remedy to
some ailing monks of his community, who promptly all died of it.

The main characteristics of the Alchemists is their wonderful clarity.
For instance, when they wish to refer to mercury, they call it "the
green lion," and the "Pontic Sea," which makes it quite obvious to
every one. They attached immense importance to the herb "Lunary," which
no one as yet has ever been able to discover. Should any one happen to
see during their daily walks "a herb with a black root, and a red and
violet stalk, whose leaves wax and wane with the moon," they will at
once know that they have found a specimen of the rare herb "Lunary."
The juice of this plant, if boiled with quicksilver, has only to be
thrown over one hundred ounces of copper, to change them instantly into
fine gold. Paracelsus' directions for making the Philosopher's Stone
are very simple: "Take the rosy-coloured blood of the lion, and gluten
from the eagle. Mix them together, and the Philosopher's Stone is
thine. Seek the lion in the west, and the eagle in the south." What
could be clearer? Any child could make sufficient Philosopher's Stones
from this simple recipe to pave a street with--a most useful asset, by
the way, to the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the present time, for
every bicycle, omnibus and motor-lorry driving over the Philosopher
Stone-paved street would instantly be changed automatically into pure
gold, and the National Debt could be satisfactorily liquidated in this
fashion in no time.

Whenever I returned home on leave, whether from Berlin, Petrograd,
Lisbon, or Buenos Ayres, I invariably spent a portion of my leave at
Glamis Castle. This venerable pile, "whose birth tradition notes not,"
though the lower portions were undoubtedly standing in 1016, rears its
forest of conical turrets in the broad valley lying between the
Grampians and the Sidlaws, in the fertile plains of Forfarshire. Apart
from the prestige of its immense age, Glamis is one of the most
beautiful buildings in the Three Kingdoms. The exquisitely weathered
tints of grey-pink and orange that its ancient red sandstone walls have
taken on with the centuries, its many gables and towers rising in
summer-time out of a sea of greenery, the richness of its architectural
details, make Glamis a thing apart. There is nothing else quite like
it. No more charming family can possibly be imagined than that of the
late Lord Strathmore, forty years ago. The seven sons and three
daughters of the family were all born musicians. I have never heard
such perfect and finished part-singing as that of the Lyon family, and
they were always singing: on the way to a cricket-match; on the road
home from shooting; in the middle of dinner, even, this irrepressible
family could not help bursting into harmony, and such exquisite
harmony, too! Until their sisters grew up, the younger boys sang the
treble and alto parts, but finally they were able to manage a
male-voice quartet, a trio of ladies' voices, and a combined family
octette. The dining-room at Glamis is a very lofty hall, oak-panelled,
with a great Jacobean chimney-piece rising to the roof. After dinner it
was the custom for the two family pipers to make the circuit of the
table three times, and then to walk slowly off, still playing, through
the tortuous stone passages of the ancient building until the last
faint echoes of the music had died away. Then all the lights in the
dining-room were extinguished except the candles on the table, and out
came a tuning-fork, and one note was sounded--"Madrigal," "Spring is
Come, third beat," said the conducting brother, and off they went,
singing exquisitely; glees, madrigals, part-songs, anything and
everything, the acoustic properties of the lofty room adding to the
effect. All visitors to Glamis were charmed with this most finished
singing--always, of course, without accompaniment. They sang equally
well in the private chapel, giving admirable renderings of the most
intricate "Services," and, from long practice together, their voices
blended perfectly. This gifted family were equally good at acting. They
had a permanent stage during the winter months at Glamis, and as every
new Gilbert and Sullivan opera was produced in London, the concerted
portions were all duly repeated at Glamis, and given most excellently.
I have never heard the duet and minuet between "Sir Marmaduke" and
"Lady Sangazure" from The Sorcerer better done than at Glamis, although
Sir Marmaduke was only nineteen, and Lady Sangazure, under her white
wig, was a boy of twelve. The same boy sang "Mabel" in the Pirates of
Penzance most admirably.

In 1884 it was conveyed to Lord Strathmore that Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone,
whom he did not know personally, were most anxious to see Glamis. Of
course an invitation was at once dispatched, and in spite of the
rigorously Tory atmosphere of the house, we were all quite charmed with
Mr. Gladstone's personality. Lord Strathmore wished to stop the
part-singing after dinner, but I felt sure that Mr. Gladstone would
like it, so it took place as usual. The old gentleman was perfectly
enchanted with it, and complimented this tuneful family
enthusiastically on the perfect finish of their singing. Next evening
Mr. Gladstone asked for a part-song in the middle of dinner, and as the
singing was continued in the drawing-room afterwards, he went and, with
a deferential courtesy charming to see in a man of his age and
position, asked whether the young people would allow an old man to sing
bass in the glees with them. Mr. Gladstone still had a very fine
resonant bass, and he read quite admirably. It was curious to see the
Prime Minister reading off the same copy as an Eton boy of sixteen, who
was singing alto. Being Sunday night, they went on singing hymns and
anthems till nearly midnight; there was no getting Mr. Gladstone away.
Mrs. Gladstone told me next day that he had not enjoyed himself so much
for many months.

There was a blend of simplicity, dignity, and kindliness in Mrs.
Gladstone's character that made her very attractive. My family were
exceedingly fond of her, and though two of my brothers were always
attacking Mr. Gladstone in the most violent terms, this never strained
their friendly relations with Mrs. Gladstone herself. I always conjure
up visions of Mrs. Gladstone in her sapphire-blue velvet, her
invariable dress of ceremony. Though a little careless as to her
appearance, she always looked a "great lady," and her tall figure, and
the kindly old face with its crown of silvery hair, were always
welcomed in the houses of those privileged to know her.

The Lyon family could do other things besides singing and acting. The
sons were all excellent shots, and were very good at games. One brother
was lawn-tennis champion of Scotland, whilst another, with his partner,
won the Doubles Championship of England.

Glamis is the oldest inhabited house in Great Britain. As Shakespeare
tells us in Macbeth,

"This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air Nimbly and sweetly
recommends itself Unto our gentle senses."

The vaulted crypt was built before 1016, and another ancient
stone-flagged, stone-vaulted hall leading out of it is the traditional
scene of the murder of Duncan by Macbeth, the "Thane of Glamis." In a
room above it King Malcolm II. of Scotland was murdered in 1034. The
castle positively teems with these agreeable traditions. The staircases
and their passages are stone-walled, stone-roofed, and stone-floored,
and their flags are worn into hollows by the feet which have trodden
them for so many centuries. Unusual features are the secret winding
staircases debouching in the most unexpected places, and a well in the
front hall, which doubtless played a very useful part during the many
sieges the castle sustained in the old days. The private chapel is a
beautiful little place of worship, with eighty painted panels of
Scriptural subjects by De Witt, the seventeenth-century Dutch artist,
and admirable stained glass. The Castle, too, is full of interesting
historical relics. It boasts the only remaining Fool's dress of motley
in the kingdom; Prince Charlie's watch and clothes are still preserved
there, for the Prince, surprised by the Hanoverian troops at Glamis,
had only time to jump on a horse and escape, leaving all his belongings
behind him. There is a wonderful collection of old family dresses of
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and above all there is the
very ancient silver-gilt cup, "The Lion of Glamis," which holds an
entire bottle of wine, and on great family occasions is still produced
and used as a loving-cup, circulating from hand to hand round the
table. Walter Scott in a note to Waverly states that it was the "Lion
of Glamis" cup which gave him the idea of the "Blessed Bear of
Bradwardine." In fact, there is no end to the objects of interest this
wonderful old castle contains, and the Lyon family have inhabited it
for six hundred years in direct line from father to son.

It is difficult for me to write impartially about Glamis, for it is as
familiar to me as my own home. I have been so much there, and have
received such kindness within its venerable walls, that it can never be
to me quite as other places are. I can see vast swelling stretches of
purple heather, with the dainty little harebells all a-quiver in the
strong breeze sweeping over the grouse-butts, as a brown mass of
whirling wings rushes past at the pace of an express train, causing one
probably to reflect how well-nigh impossible it is to "allow" too much
for driven grouse flying down-wind. I can picture equally vividly the
curling-pond in winter-time, tuneful with the merry chirrup of the
curling-stones as they skim over the ice, whilst cries of "Soop her up,
man, soop! Soop!" from the anxious "skip" fill the keen air. I like
best, though, to think of the Glamis of my young days, when the ancient
stone-built passages and halls, that have seen so many generations pass
through them and disappear, rang with perpetual youthful laughter, or
echoed beautifully finished part-singing; when nimble young feet
twinkled, and kilts whirled to the skirl of the pipes under the vaulted
roof of the nine-hundred-year-old crypt; when the whole place was
vibrant with joyous young life, and the stately, grey-bearded owner of
the historic castle, and of many broad acres in Strathmore besides,
found his greatest pleasure in seeing how happy his children and his
guests could be under his roof.



CHAPTER IX


Canada--The beginnings of the C.P.R.--Attitude of British Columbia--The
C.P.R. completed--Quebec--A swim at Niagara--Other mighty
waterfalls--Ottawa and Rideau Hall--Effects of dry climate--Personal
electricity--Every man his own dynamo--Attraction of
Ottawa--Curling--The "roaring game"--Skating--An ice-palace--A ball on
skates--Difficulties of translating the Bible into Eskimo--The building
of the snow hut--The snow hut in use--Sir John Macdonald--Some personal
traits--The Canadian Parliament buildings--Monsieur l'Orateur--A quaint
oration--The "Pages' Parliament"--An all-night sitting--The "Arctic
Cremorne"--A curious Lisbon custom--The Balkan
"souvenir-hunters"--Personal inspection of Canadian convents--Some
incidents--The unwelcome novice--The Montreal Carnival--The
Ice-castle--The Skating Carnival--A stupendous toboggan slide--The
pioneer of "ski" in Canada--The old-fashioned raquettes--A Canadian
Spring--Wonder of the Dominion.


When I was in Canada for the first time in 1884, the Canadian Pacific
Railway was not completed, and there was no through railway connection
between the Maritime Provinces, "Upper" and "Lower" Canada, and the
Pacific Coast, though, of course, in 1884 those old-fashioned terms for
the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec had been obsolete for some time.
Since the Federation of the Dominion in 1867, the opening of the
Trans-Continental railway has been the most potent factor in the
knitting together of Canada, and has developed the resources of the
Dominion to an extent which even the most enthusiastic of the original
promoters of the C.P.R. never anticipated. When British Columbia threw
in its lot with the Dominion in 1871, one of the terms upon which the
Pacific Province insisted was a guarantee that the Trans-Continental
railway should be completed in ten years--that is, in 1881. Two rival
Companies received in 1872 charters for building the railway; the
result was continual political intrigue, and very little construction
work. British Columbia grew extremely restive under the continual
delays, and threatened to retire from the Dominion. Lord Dufferin told
me himself, when I was his Private Secretary in Petrograd, that on the
occasion of his official visit to British Columbia (of course by sea),
in either 1876 or 1877, as Governor-General, he was expected to drive
under a triumphal arch which had been erected at Victoria, Vancouver
Island. This arch was inscribed on both sides with the word
"Separation." I remember perfectly Lord Dufferin's actual words in
describing the incident: "I sent for the Mayor of Victoria, and told
him that I must have a small--a very small--alteration made in the
inscription, before I could consent to drive under it; an alteration of
one letter only. The initial 'S' must be replaced with an 'R' and then
I would pledge my word that I would do my best to see that 'Reparation'
was made to the Province." This is so eminently characteristic of Lord
Dufferin's methods that it is worth recording. The suggested alteration
in the inscription was duly made, and Lord Dufferin drove under the
arch. In spite of continued efforts the Governor-General was unable to
expedite the construction of the railway under the Mackenzie
Administration, and it needed all his consummate tact to quiet the
ever-growing demand for separation from the Dominion on the part of
British Columbia, owing to the non-fulfilment of the terms of union. It
was not until 1881, under Sir John Macdonald's Premiership, that a
contract was signed with a new Company to complete the Canadian Pacific
within ten years, but so rapid was the progress made, that the last
spike was actually driven on November 7, 1886, five years before the
stipulated time. The names of three Scotsmen will always be associated
with this gigantic undertaking: those of the late Donald Smith,
afterwards Lord Strathcona; George Stephen, now Lord Mount-stephen; and
Mr. R. B. Angus of Montreal. The last spike, which was driven in at a
place called Craigellachie, by Mrs. Mackenzie, widow of the Premier
under whom the C.P.R. had been commenced, was of an unusual character,
for it was of eighteen-carat gold. In the course of an hour it was
replaced by a more serviceable spike of steel. I have often seen Mrs.
Mackenzie wearing the original gold spike, with "Craigellachie" on it
in diamonds.

There are few finer views in the world than that from the terrace of
the Citadel of Quebec over the mighty expanse of the St. Lawrence, with
ocean-going steamers lying so close below that it would be possible to
drop a stone from the Citadel on to their decks; and the view from the
Dufferin Terrace, two hundred feet lower down, is just as fine. My
brother-in-law, Lord Lansdowne, had been appointed Governor-General in
1883, and I well remember my first arrival in Quebec. We had been
living for five weeks in the backwoods of the Cascapedia, the famous
salmon-river, under the most primitive conditions imaginable. I had
come there straight from the Argentine Republic on a tramp steamer, and
we lived on the Cascapedia coatless and flannel-shirted, with our legs
encased in "beef moccasins" as a protection against the hordes of
voracious flies that battened ravenously on us from morning to night.
It was a considerable change from a tent on the banks of the rushing,
foaming Cascapedia to the Citadel of Quebec, which was then appointed
like a comfortable English country house, and gave one a thoroughly
home-like feeling at once. After my prolonged stay in South America I
was pleased, too, to recognise familiar pictures, furniture and china
which I had last met in their English Wiltshire home, all of them with
the stolid impassiveness of inanimate objects unaware that they had
been spirited across the Atlantic, three thousand miles from their
accustomed abiding-place.

In September 1884, at a point immediately below the Falls, I swam
Niagara with Mr. Cecil Baring, now a partner in Baring Brothers, then
an Oxford undergraduate. We were standing at the foot of the American
Falls, when we noticed a little board inscribed, "William Grenfell of
Taplow Court, England" (the present Lord Desborough), "swam Niagara at
this spot." I looked at Baring, Baring looked at me. "I don't see why
we shouldn't do it too," he observed, to which I replied, "We might
have a try," so we stripped, sent our clothes over to the Canadian
side, and entered the water. It was a far longer swim than either of us
had anticipated, the current was very strong, and the eddies bothered
us. When we landed on the Canadian shore, I was utterly exhausted,
though Baring, being eight years younger than me, did not feel the
effects of the exertion so much. I remember that the Falls, seen from
only six inches above the surface of the water, looked like a splendid
range of snow-clad hills tumbling about in mad confusion, and that the
roar of waters was deafening. As we both lay panting and gasping, puris
naturalibus, on the Canadian bank, I need hardly say, as we were on the
American continent, that a reporter made his appearance from nowhere,
armed with notebook and pencil. This young newspaper-man was not
troubled with false delicacy. He asked us point-blank what we had made
out of our swim. On learning that we had had no money on it, but had
merely done it for the fun of the thing, he mentioned the name of a
place of eternal punishment, shut up his notebook in disgust, and
walked off: there was evidently no "story" to be made out of us. After
some luncheon and a bottle of Burgundy, neither Baring nor I felt any
the worse for our swim, nor were we the least tired during the
remainder of the day. I have seen Niagara in summer, spring and in
mid-winter, and each time the fascination of these vast masses of
tumbling waters has grown on me. I have never, to my regret, seen the
Victoria Falls of the Zambesi, as on two separate occasions when
starting for them unforeseen circumstances detained me in Cape Town.
The Victoria Falls are more than double the height of Niagara, Niagara
falling 160 feet, and the Zambesi 330 feet, and the Falls are over one
mile broad, but I fancy that except in March and April, the volume of
water hurling itself over them into the great chasm below is smaller
than at Niagara. I have heard that the width of the Victoria Falls is
to within a few yards exactly the distance between the Marble Arch and
Oxford Circus. When I was in the Argentine Republic, the great Falls of
the River Iguazu, a tributary of the Parana, were absolutely
inaccessible. To reach them vast tracts of dense primeval forest had to
be traversed, where every inch of the track would have to be
laboriously hacked through the jungle. Their very existence was
questioned, for it depended on the testimony of wandering Indians, and
of one solitary white man, a Jesuit missionary. Now, since the railway
to Paraguay has been completed, the Iguazu Falls can be reached, though
the journey is still a difficult one. The Falls are 200 feet high, and
nearly a mile wide. In the very heart of the City of Ottawa there are
the fine Chaudiere Falls, where the entire River Ottawa drops fifty
feet over a rocky ledge. The boiling whirl of angry waters has well
earned its name of cauldron, or "Chaudiere," but so much of the water
has now been drawn off to supply electricity and power to the city,
that the volume of the falls has become sensibly diminished. I know of
no place in Europe where the irresistible might of falling waters is
more fully brought home to one than at Trollhattan in Sweden. Here the
Gotha River whirls itself down 120 feet in seven cataracts. They are
rapids rather than falls, but it is the immense volume of water which
makes them so impressive. Every year Trolhattan grows more and more
disfigured by saw-mills, carbide of calcium works, and other industrial
buildings sprouting up like unsightly mushrooms along the river-banks.
The last time that I was there it was almost impossible to see the
falls in their entirety from any point, owing to this congestion of
squalid factories.

Rideau Hall, the Government House at Ottawa, stands about two miles out
of the town, and is a long, low, unpretentious building, exceedingly
comfortable as a dwelling-house, if somewhat inadequate as an official
residence for the Governor-General of Canada. Lord Dufferin added a
large and very handsome ball-room, fitted with a stage at one end of
it, and a full-sized tennis-court. This tennis-court, by an ingenious
arrangement, can be converted in a few hours into a splendid
supper-room. A red and white tent is lowered bodily from the roof; a
carpet is spread over the floor; great white-and-gold electric
standards bearing the arms of the different Provinces are placed in
position, and the thing is done. The intense dryness of the Canadian
winter climate, especially in houses where furnace-heat intensifies the
dryness, produces some unexpected results. My brother-in-law had
brought out a number of old pieces of French inlaid furniture. The
excessive dryness forced out some of the inlaid marqueterie of these
pieces, and upon their return to Europe they had to undergo a long and
expensive course of treatment. Some fine Romneys and Gainesboroughs
also required the picture-restorer's attentions before they could
return to their Wiltshire home after a five years' sojourn in the dry
air of Canada. The ivory handles of razors shrink in the dry
atmosphere; as the steel frame cannot shrink correspondingly the ivory
splits in two. The thing most surprising to strangers was that it was
possible in winter-time to light the gas with one's finger. All that
was necessary was to shuffle over the carpet in thin shoes, and then on
touching any metal object, an electric spark half an inch long would
crack out of your finger. The size and power of the spark depended a
great deal on the temperament of the experimenter. A high-strung person
could produce quite a large spark; a stolid, bovine individual could
not obtain a glimmer of one. The late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, whilst
staying at Government House, was told of this, but was inclined to be
sceptical. My sister, Lady Lansdowne, made him shuffle over the carpet,
and then and there touch a gas-burner from which she had removed the
globe. Mr. Chamberlain, with his nervous temperament, produced a spark
an inch long out of himself, and of course the gas flared up
immediately. I do not think that I had ever seen any one more
surprised. This power of generating static electricity from their own
bodies was naturally a source of immense delight to the Lansdowne
children. They loved, after shuffling their feet on the carpet, to
creep up to any adult relation and touch them lightly on the ear, a
most sensitive spot. There would be a little spark, a little shock, and
a little exclamation of surprise. Outside the children's schoolroom
there was a lobby warmed by a stove, and the air there was peculiarly
dry. The young people, with a dozen or so of their youthful friends,
would join hands, taking, however, care not to complete the circle, and
then shuffle their feet vigorously. On completing the circuit, they
could produce a combined spark over two inches long, with a
correspondingly sharp shock. In my bedroom at Ottawa there was an
old-fashioned high brass fender. Had I put on slippers, and have
attempted to warm myself at the fire previous to turning-in. I should
be reminded, by a sharp discharge from my protesting calves into the
metal fender, that I was in dry Canada. (At that date the dryness of
Canada was atmospherical only.) Curiously enough, a spark leaving the
body produces the same shock as one entering it, and no electricity
whatever can be generated with bare feet. One of the footmen at Ottawa
must have been an abnormally high-strung young man, for should one
inadvertently touch silver dinner-plate he handed one, a sharp electric
shock resulted. The children delighted in one very pretty experiment.
Many books for the young have their bindings plentifully adorned with
gold, notably the French series, the "Bibliotheque Rose." Should one of
these highly-gilt volumes be taken into a warm and dry place, and the
lights extinguished, the INNER side of the binding had only to be
rubbed briskly with a fur-cap for all the gilding to begin to sparkle
and coruscate, and to send out little flashes of light. The children
took the utmost pleasure in this example of the curious properties of
electricity.

The Ottawa of the "eighties" was an attractive little place, and Ottawa
Society was very pleasant. There was then a note of unaffected
simplicity about everything that was most engaging, and the people were
perfectly natural and free from pretence. The majority of them were
Civil servants of limited means, and as everybody knew what their
neighbours' incomes were, there was no occasion for make-believe. The
same note of simplicity ran through all amusements and entertaining,
and I think that it constituted the charm of the place. I called one
afternoon on the very agreeable wife of a high official, and was told
at the door that Lady R--was not at home. Recognizing my voice, a cry
came up from the kitchen-stairs. "Oh, yes! I am at home to you. Come
right down into the kitchen," where I found my friend, with her sleeves
rolled up, making with her own hands the sweets for the dinner-party
she was giving that night, as she mistrusted her cook's capabilities.
The Ottawa people had then that gift of being absolutely unaffected,
which makes the majority of Australians so attractive. Now everything
has changed; Ottawa has trebled in size since I first knew it, and on
revisiting it twenty-five years later, I found that it had become very
"smart" indeed, with elaborate houses and gorgeous raiment.

Rideau Hall had two open-air skating-rinks in its own grounds, two
imposing toboggan-slides, and a covered curling-rink. The "roaring
game" is played in Canada with very heavy straight-sided iron "stones,"
weighing from 50 to 60 lbs. As the ice in a covered rink can be
constantly flooded, it can be kept in the most perfect order, and with
the heavy stones far greater accuracy can be attained than with the
granite stones used in Scotland. The game becomes a sort of billiards
on ice. The Rideau Hall team consisted of Lord Lansdowne himself,
General Sir Henry Streatfield, a nephew of mine, and one of the
footmen, who seemed to have a natural gift as a curler. Our team were
invincible in 1888. At a curling-match against Montreal in 1887, a
long-distance telephone was used for the first time in Canada. Ottawa
is 120 miles distant from Montreal, and a telephone was specially
installed, and each "end" telephoned from Rideau Hall to Montreal,
where the result was shown on a board, excitement over the match
running high. Montreal proved the victors. On great occasions such as
this, the ice of the curling-rink was elaborately decorated in colours.
It was very easily done. Ready-prepared stencils, such as are used for
wall-decoration, were laid on the ice, and various coloured inks mixed
with water were poured through the stencil holes, and froze almost
immediately on to the ice below. In this fashion complicated designs of
roses, thistles and maple-leaves, all in their proper colours, could be
made in a very short time, and most effective they were until destroyed
by the first six "ends." When the Governor-General's time in Canada
expired and he was transferred to India, the curlers of Canada
presented him with a farewell address. Lord Lansdowne made, I thought,
a very happy reply. Speaking of the regret he felt at leaving Ottawa,
and at severing his many links of connection with Canada, he added
that, bearing in view the climate of Bengal, he did not anticipate much
curling in India, and that he would miss the "roaring game"; in fact,
the only "roaring game" he was likely to come in contact with would
probably take the unpleasant form of a Bengal tiger springing out at
him. Lord Lansdowne went on to say, "Let us hope that it will not
happen that your ex-Governor-General will be found, not pursuing the
roaring game, but being pursued by it."

From skating daily, most of the Government House party became very
expert, and could perform every kind of trick upon skates. Lord and
Lady Lansdowne and their two daughters, now Duchess of Devonshire and
Lady Osborne Beauclerk, could execute the most complicated Quadrilles
and Lancers on skates, and could do the most elaborate figures.

Once a week all Ottawa turned up at Rideau Hall to skate to the music
of a good military band. Every year in December a so-called ice-palace
was built for the band, of clear blocks of ice. Once given a design,
ice-architecture is most fascinating and very easy. Instead of mortar,
all that is required is a stream of water from a hose to freeze the
ice-blocks together, and as ice can be easily chipped into any shape,
the most fantastic pinnacles and ornaments can be contrived. Our
ice-palace was usually built in what I may call a free adaptation of
the Canado-Moresque style. A very necessary feature in the ice-palace
was the large stove for thawing the brass instruments of the band. A
moment's consideration will show that in the intense cold of a Canadian
winter, the moisture that accumulates in a brass instrument would
freeze solid, rendering the instrument useless. The bandsmen had always
to handle the brass with woollen gloves on, to prevent getting burnt.
How curious it is that the sensation of touching very hot or very cold
metal is identical, and that it produces the same effect on the human
skin! With thirty or more degrees of frost, great caution must be used
in handling skate-blades with bare fingers if burns are to be avoided.
The coldest day I have ever known was New Year's Day 1888, when the
thermometer at Ottawa registered 41 degrees below, or 73 degrees of
frost. The air was quite still, as it invariably is with great cold,
but every breath taken gave one a sensation of being pinched on the
nose, as the moisture in the nostrils froze together.

The weekly club-dances of the Ottawa Skating Club were a pretty sight.
They were held in a covered public rink, gay with many flags, with
garlands of artificial flowers and foliage, and blazing with sizzling
arc-lights. These people, accustomed to skates from their earliest
childhood, could dance as easily and as gracefully on them as on their
feet, whilst fur-muffled mothers sat on benches round the rink,
drinking tea and coffee as unconcernedly as though they were at a
garden-party in mid-July instead of in a temperature of zero. An
"Ottawa March" was a great institution. Couples formed up as though for
a country dance, the band struck up some rollicking tune, the leader
shouted his directions, and fifty couples whirled and twirled, and
skated backwards or forwards as he ordered, going through the most
complicated evolutions, in pairs or fours or singly, joining here,
parting there, but all in perfect time. Woe betide the leader should he
lose his head! A hundred people would get tangled up in a hideous
confusion, and there was nothing for it but to begin all over again.

It is curious that in countries like England and Prance, where from the
climatic conditions skating must be a very occasional amusement, there
is a special word for the pastime, and that in Germany and Russia,
where every winter brings its skating as a matter of course, there
should be no word for it. "Skate" in English, and patiner in French,
mean propelling oneself on iron runners over ice, and nothing else;
whereas in German there is only the clumsy compound-word
Schlittschuh-laufen, which means "to run on sledge shoes," and in
Russian it is called in equally roundabout fashion Katatsa-na-konkach,
or literally "to roll on little horses," hardly a felicitous
expression. As a rule people have no word for expressing a thing which
does not come within their own range of experience; for instance, no
one would expect that Arabs, or Somalis, or the inhabitants of the
Sahara would have any equivalent for either skating or tobogganing, nor
do I imagine that the Eskimo have any expression for "sunstroke" or
"heat-apoplexy," but one would have thought that Russians and Germans
might have evolved a word for skating.

Apropos of Eskimo, I once heard a missionary describe the extraordinary
difficulty he had found in translating the Bible into Eskimo. It was
useless to talk of corn or wine to a people who did not know even what
they meant, so he had to use equivalents within their powers of
comprehension. Thus in the Eskimo version of the Scriptures the miracle
of Cana of Galilee is described as turning the water into BLUBBER; the
8th verse of the 5th chapter of the First Epistle of St. Peter ran:
"Your adversary the devil, as a roaring Polar BEAR walketh about,
seeking whom he may devour." In the same way "A land flowing with milk
and honey" became "A land flowing with whale's blubber," and throughout
the New Testament the words "Lamb of God" had to be translated "little
Seal of God," as the nearest possible equivalent. The missionary added
that his converts had the lowest opinion of Jonah for not having
utilised his exceptional opportunities by killing and eating the whale.

Fired by the example of the builders of the ice-palace on the rink at
Rideau Hall, I offered to build for the Lansdowne children an ice-hut
for their very own, a chilly domicile which they had ardently longed
for. As it is my solitary achievement as an architect, I must dwell
rather lovingly on the building of this hut. The professional
ice-cutters were bringing up daily a large supply of great gleaming
transparent blocks from the river, both for the building of the
band-house and for the summer supply of Rideau Hall, so there was no
lack of material. On the American continent one is being told so
constantly that this-and-that "will cut no ice," that it is
satisfactory to be able to report that those French-Canadians cut ice
in the most efficient fashion. My sole building implement was a kettle
of boiling water. I placed ice-blocks in a circle, pouring boiling
water between each two blocks to melt the points of contact, and in
half an hour they had frozen into one solid lump. I and a friend
proceeded like this till the ice-walls were about four feet high,
spaces being left for the door and windows. As the blocks became too
heavy to lift, we used great wads of snow in their stead, melting them
with cold water and kneading them into shape with thick woollen gloves,
and so the walls rose. I wanted a snow roof; had we been mediaeval
cathedral builders we might possibly have fashioned a groined and
vaulted snow roof, with ice ribs, but being amateurs, our roof
perpetually collapsed, so we finally roofed the hut with
grooved-and-tongued boards, cutting a hole through them for the
chimney. We then built a brick fire-place, with mantelpiece complete,
ending in an iron chimney. The windows were our great triumph. I filled
large japanned tea-trays two inches deep with water and left them out
to freeze. Then we placed the trays in a hot bath and floated the
sheets of ice off. They broke time and time again, but after about the
twentieth try we succeeded in producing two great sheets of transparent
ice which were fitted into the window-spaces, and firmly cemented in
place with wet snow. Then the completed hut had to be furnished. A
carpenter in Ottawa made me a little dresser, a little table, and
little chairs of plain deal; I bought some cooking utensils, some
enamelled-iron tea-things and plates, and found in Ottawa some crude
oleographs printed on oil-cloth and impervious to damp. These were duly
hung on the snow walls of the hut, and the little girls worked some red
Turkey-twill curtains for the ice windows, and a frill for the
mantelpiece in orthodox south of England cottage style. The boys made a
winding tunnel through the snow-drifts up to the door of the hut, and
Nature did the rest, burying the hut in snow until its very existence
was unsuspected by strangers, though it may be unusual to see clouds of
wood-smoke issuing from an apparent snow-drift. That little house stood
for over three months; it afforded the utmost joy to its youthful
occupiers, and I confess that I took a great paternal pride in it
myself. Really at night, with the red curtains drawn over the ice
windows, with the pictures on its snow walls, a lamp alight and a
roaring log fire blazing on the brick hearth, it was the most
invitingly cosy little place. It is true that with the heat the snow
walls perspired freely, and the roof was apt to drip like a fat man in
August, but it was considered tactful to ignore these details. Here the
children entertained their friends at tea-parties, and made hideous
juvenile experiments in cookery; here, too, "Jerusalem the Golden" was
prepared. It was a simple operation; milk and honey were thoroughly
mixed in a bowl, the bowl was put out to freeze, and the frozen mass
dipped into hot water to loosen it; "Jerusalem the Golden" was then
broken up small, and the toothsome chips eagerly devoured. Those
familiar with the hymn will at once understand the allusion.

Sir John Macdonald, the Prime Minister, was very often at Government
House, and dined there perpetually. When at the Petrograd Embassy, I
was constantly hearing of Sir John from my chief, Lord Dufferin, who
had an immense admiration for him, and considered him the maker of the
Dominion, and a really great statesman. I was naturally anxious to meet
a man of whom I had heard so much. "John A.," as he was universally
known in Canada, had a very engaging personality, and conveyed an
impression of having an enormous reserve of latent force behind his
genial manner. Facially he was reminiscent of Lord Beaconsfield, but
there was nothing very striking about him as an orator: his style was
direct and straightforward.

The Houses of Parliament at Ottawa are a splendid pile of buildings,
and though they may owe a great deal to the wonderful site they occupy
on a semicircular wooded bluff projecting into the river, I should
consider them one of the most successful group of buildings erected
anywhere during the nineteenth century. All the details might not bear
close examination, but the general effect was admirable, especially
that of the great circular library, with its conical roof. In addition
to the Legislative Chambers proper, two flanking buildings in the same
style housed various Administrative departments. Seen from Rideau Hall
in dark silhouette against the sunset sky, the bold outline of the
conical roof of the library and the three tall towers flanking it gave
a sort of picturesque Nuremberg effect to the distant view of Ottawa,
The Parliament buildings proper were destroyed by an incendiary during
the war, but the library and wings escaped.

Everything in the House of Commons was modelled accurately on
Westminster. The Canadian Parliament being bi-lingual, French members
addressed the Speaker as "Monsieur l'Orateur," and the Usher of the
Black Rod of the Senate became "l'Huissier de la Verge Noire." To my
mind there was something intensely comical in addressing a man who
seldom opened his mouth except to cry, "Order, order," as "Monsieur
l'Orateur." A Frenchman from the Province of Quebec seems always to be
chosen as Canadian Speaker. In my time he was a M. Ouiment, the
TWENTY-FIRST child of the same parents, so French Canadians are
apparently not threatened with extinction. I heard in the House of
Commons at Ottawa the most curious peroration I have ever listened to.
It came from the late Nicholas Flood Davin, a member of Irish
extraction who sat for a Far-Western constituency. The House was
debating a dull Bill relating to the lumber industry, when Davin, who
may possibly have been under the influence of temporary excitement,
insisted on speaking. He made a long and absolutely irrelevant speech
in a voice of thunder, and finished with these words, every one of
which I remember: "There are some who declare that Canada's trade is
declining; there are some who maintain that the rich glow of health
which at present mantles o'er Canada's virgin cheek will soon be
replaced by the pallid hues of the corpse. To such pusillanimous
propagandists of a preposterous pessimism, I answer, Mr. Speaker with
all confidence, never! never!" As a rhetorical effort this is striking,
though there seems a lack of lucidity about it.

In the Canadian House of Commons there are a number of little pages who
run errands for members, and fetch them books and papers. These boys
sit on the steps of the Speaker's chair, and when the House adjourns
for dinner the pages hold a "Pages' Parliament." One boy, elected by
the others as Speaker, puts on a gown and seats himself in the
Speaker's chair; the "Prime Minister" and the members of the Government
sit on the Government benches, the Leader of the Opposition with his
supporters take their places opposite and the boys hold regular
debates. Many of the members took great interest in the "Pages'
Parliament," and coached the boys for their debates. I have seen Sir
John Macdonald giving the fourteen-year-old "Premier" points for his
speech that evening.

All-night sittings were far rarer at Ottawa than with us, and
constituted quite an event. Some of us went into the gallery at 5 a.m.
after a dance, to see the end of a long and stormy sitting. The House
was very uproarious. Some member had brought in a cricket-ball, and
they were throwing each other catches across the House. To the credit
of Canadian M.P.'s, I must say that we never saw a single catch missed.
When Sir John rose to close the debate, there were loud cries of, "You
have talked enough, John A. Give us a song instead." "All right," cried
Sir John, "I will give you 'God save the Queen.'" And he forthwith
started it in a lusty voice, all the members joining in. The
introduction of a cricket-ball might brighten all-night sittings in our
own Parliament, though somehow I cannot quite picture to myself Mr.
Asquith throwing catches to Sir Frederick Banbury across the floor of
the House of Commons.

I was once in the gallery of the South African Parliament at Capetown,
after the House had been sitting continuously for twenty hours. The
Speaker had had a stool brought him to rest his legs on, and was fast
asleep in his chair, with his wig all awry. Dutch farmer members from
the Back-Veld were stretched out at full length on the benches in the
lobbies, snoring loudly; in fact, the whole place was a sort of
Parliamentary Pullman Sleeping-car. That splendid man, the late General
Botha, told me that late hours in Parliament upset him terribly, as he
had been used all his life to going early to bed. Though the exterior
of the Capetown Parliament buildings is nothing very wonderful
architecturally, the interior is very handsome, and quite surprisingly
spacious.

The Governor-General gave two evening skating and tobaggoning parties
at Rideau Hall every winter. He termed these gatherings his "Arctic
Cremornes," after the then recently defunct gardens in London, and the
parties were wonderfully picturesque. In those days, though the fashion
now has quite disappeared, all members of snow-shoe and tobogganing
clubs, men and women alike, wore coloured blanket-suits consisting of
knickerbockers and long coats, with bright-coloured stockings, sash,
and knitted toque (invariably pronounced "tuke"). The club colours of
course varied. Rideau Hall was white with purple stockings and "tuke,"
and red sash. Others were sky-blue, with scarlet stockings and "tuke,"
or crimson and black, or brown and green. A collection of three hundred
people in blanket-suits gave the effect of a peripatetic rainbow
against the white snow. For the "Arctic Cremorne" the rinks were all
fringed with coloured fairy-lamps; the curling-rink and the tea-room
above it were also outlined with innumerable coloured electric bulbs,
and festoons of Japanese lanterns were stretched between the fir trees
in all directions. At the top of the toboggan slides powerful arc-lamps
blazed, and a stupendous bonfire roared on a little eminence. The
effect was indescribably pretty, and it was pleasant to reflect how man
had triumphed over Nature in being able to give an outdoor evening
party in mid-winter with the thermometer below zero. The gleaming
crystals of snow reflecting the coloured lamps; the Bengal lights
staining the white expanse crimson and green, and silhouetting the
outlines of the fir trees in dead black against the burnished steel of
the sky; the crowd of guests in their many-coloured blanket-suits, made
a singularly attractive picture, with a note of absolute novelty in it;
and the crash of the military band, the merry whirr of the skates, and
the roar of the descending toboggans had something extraordinarily
exhilarating about them in the keen, pure air. The supper-room always
struck me as being pleasingly unconventional. Supper was served in the
long, covered curling-rink, where the temperature was the same as that
of the open air outside, so there was a long table elaborately set out
with silver-branched candlesticks and all the Governor-General's fine
collection of plate, but the servants waited in heavy fur-coats and
caps. Of course no flowers could be used in that temperature, so the
silver vases held branches of spruce, hemlock, and other Canadian firs.
The French cook had to be very careful as to what dishes he prepared,
for anything with moisture in it would freeze at once; meringues, for
instance, would be frozen into uneatable cricket-balls, and tea,
coffee, and soup had to simmer perpetually over lamps. One so seldom
has a ball-supper with North Pole surroundings. We had a serious
toboggan accident one night owing to the stupidity of an old Senator,
who insisted on standing in the middle of the track, and the
Aides-de-Camps' room was converted into an operating theatre, and
reeked with the fumes of chloroform. The young man had bad concussion,
and was obliged to remain a week at Rideau Hall, whilst the poor girl
was disfigured for life.

Whilst on the subject of ball-suppers, there was a curious custom
prevailing in Lisbon. Most Portuguese having very limited means, it was
not usual to offer any refreshments whatever to guests at dances; but
when it was done, it took the form of a "tooth-pick-supper" (souper aux
curedents). Small pieces of chicken, tongue, or beef were piled on
plates, each piece skewered with a wooden toothpick. The guests picked
these off the plate by the toothpick, and nibbled the meat away from
it, eating it with slices of bread. This obviated the use of plates,
knives and forks, most Portuguese families having neither sufficient
silver table-plate for an entertainment nor the means to hire any.
There was another reason for this quaint custom. Some Portuguese
are--how shall we put it?--inveterate souvenir-hunters. The Duke of
Palmella, one of the few rich men in Portugal, gave a ball whilst I was
in Lisbon at which the supper was served in the ordinary fashion, with
plates, spoons, knives and forks. It was a matter of common knowledge
in Lisbon that 50 per cent. of the ducal silver spoons and forks had
left the house in the pockets of his Grace's guests, who doubtless
wished to preserve a slight memento of so pleasant an evening.

In a certain Balkan State which I will refrain from naming, the
inhabitants are also confirmed souvenir-hunters. At a dinner-party at
the British Legation in this nameless State, one of the Diplomatic
ladies was wearing a very fine necklace of pearls and enamel. A native
of the State admired this necklace immensely, and begged for permission
to examine it closer. The Diplomat's wife very unwisely unfastened her
pearl necklace, and it was passed around from hand to hand, amidst loud
expressions of admiration at its beautiful workmanship. At the end of
dinner the Diplomatic lady requested that her necklace might be
returned to her, but it was not forthcoming; no one knew anything about
it. The British Minister, who thought that he understood the people of
the country, rose to the occasion. Getting up from his chair, he said
with a smile, "We have just witnessed a very clever and very amusing
piece of legerdemain. Now we are going to see another little piece of
conjuring." The Minister walked quietly to both doors of the room,
locked them, and put the keys in his pocket. He then placed a small
silver bowl from the side-board in the centre of the dinner-table, and
continued: "I am now going to switch off all the lights, and to count
ten slowly. When I have reached ten, I shall turn on the lights again,
and hey presto! Madame de--'s necklace will be found lying in that
silver bowl!" The room became plunged in darkness, and the Minister
counted slowly up to ten. The electric light blazed out again, there
was no necklace, but the silver bowl had vanished!

I have enjoyed the exceptional experience of having inspected many
convents in Canada, even those of the most strictly cloistered Orders.
By long-established custom, the Governor-General's wife has the right
to inspect any convent in Canada on giving twenty-four hours' notice,
and she may take with her any two persons she chooses, of either sex.
My sister was fond of visiting convents, and she often took me with her
as I could speak French. We have thus been in convents of Ursulines,
Poor Clares, Grey Sisters, and in some of those of the more strictly
cloistered Orders. The procedure was always the same. We were ushered
into a beautifully clean, bare, whitewashed parloir, with a highly
polished floor redolent of beeswax. There would be hard benches running
round the parloir, raised on a platform, much after the fashion of
raised benches in a billiard-room. In the centre would be a chair for
the Reverend Mother. We then made polite conversation for a few
minutes, after which coffee (usually compounded of scorched beans, with
no relation whatever to "Coffea Arabica") was handed to us, and we went
over the convent. It was extremely difficult for two Protestants to
find any subject of conversation which could interest a Mother Superior
who knew nothing of the world outside her convent walls, nor was it
easy to find any common ground on which to meet her, all religious
topics being necessarily excluded, I had noticed that the nuns made
frequent allusions to a certain Marie Alacoque. Misled by the
similarity of the sound in French, I, in my ignorance, thought that
this referred to a method of cooking eggs. I learnt later that Marie
Alacoque was a French nun who lived in the seventeenth century, and I
discovered why her memory was so revered by her co-religionists. It was
easy to get a book from the Ottawa Library and to read her up, and
after that conversation became less difficult, for a few remarks about
Marie Alacoque were always appreciated in conventual circles. The
convents were invariably neat and clean, but I was perpetually struck
by the wax-like pallor of the inmates. The elder nuns in the strictly
cloistered Orders were as excited as children over this unexpected
irruption into their convent of two strangers from the world outside,
which they had left for so long. They struck me as most excellent,
earnest women, and they delighted in exhibiting all their treasures,
including the ecclesiastical vestments and their Church plate. They
always made a point of showing us, as an object of great interest, the
flat candlestick of bougie that the Cardinal-Archbishop had used when
he had last celebrated Pontifical High Mass in their chapel. In one
strictly cloistered convent there was a high wooden trellis across the
chapel, so that though the nuns could see the priest at the altar
through the trellis-work, he was unable to see them. In the Convent of
the Grey Sisters at Ottawa we found an old English nun who, in spite of
having spent thirty-five years in a French-Canadian convent, still
retained the strong Cockney accent of her native London. She was a
cheery old soul, and, with another old English nun, had charge of the
wardrobe, which they insisted on showing me. I was gazing at piles of
clothing neatly arranged on shelves, when the old Cockney nun clapped
her hands. "We will dress you up as a Sister," she cried, and they
promptly proceeded to do so. They put me on a habit (largest size) over
my other clothes, chuckling with glee meanwhile, and I was duly draped
in the guimpe, the piece of linen which covers a nun's head and
shoulders and frames her face, called, I believe, in English a
"wimple," and my toilet was complete except for my veil, when, by a
piece of real bad luck, the Reverend Mother and my sister came into the
room. We had no time to hide, so we were caught. Having no moustache, I
flattered myself that I made rather a saintly-looking novice, and I hid
my hands in the orthodox way in my sleeves, but the Mother Superior was
evidently very much put out. The clothes that had come in contact with
my heretical person were ordered to be placed on one side, I presume to
be morally disinfected, and I can only trust that the two old nuns did
not get into serious trouble over their little joke. I am sorry that my
toilet was not completed; I should like to have felt that just for once
in my life I had taken the veil, if for five minutes only.

In the "eighties" the city of Montreal spent large sums over their
Winter Carnival. It attracted crowds of strangers, principally from the
United States, and it certainly stimulated the retail trade of the
city. The Governor-General was in the habit of taking a house in
Montreal for the Carnival, and my brother-in-law was lent the home of a
hospitable sugar magnate. The dining-room of this house, in which its
owner had allowed full play to his Oriental imagination and love of
colour, was so singular that it merits a few words of description. The
room was square, with a domed ceiling. It was panelled in polished
satinwood to a height of about five feet. Above the panelling were
placed twelve owls in carved and silvered wood, each one about two feet
high, supporting gas-standards. Rose-coloured silk was stretched from
the panelling up to the heavy frieze, consisting of "swags" of fruit
and foliage modelled in high relief, and brilliantly coloured in their
natural hues. The domed ceiling was painted sky-blue, covered with
golden stars, gold and silver suns and moons, and the signs of the
Zodiac. I may add that the effect of this curious apartment was not
such as to warrant any one trying to reproduce it. The house also
contained a white marble swimming bath; an unnecessary adjunct, I
should have thought, to a dwelling built for winter occupation in
Montreal.

The Ice-Castle erected by the Municipality was really a joy to the eye.
It was rather larger than, say, the Westminster Guildhall, and had a
tower eighty feet high. It was an admirable reproduction of a Gothic
castle, designed and built by a competent architect, with barbican,
battlements, and machiocolaions all complete, the whole of gleaming,
transparent ice-blocks, a genuine thing of beauty. One of the principal
events of the Carnival was the storming of the Ice-Castle by the
snow-shoe clubs of Montreal. Hundreds of snow-shoers, in their
rainbow-hued blanket suits, advanced in line on the castle and fired
thousands of Roman candles at their objective, which returned the fire
with rockets innumerable, and an elaborate display of fireworks,
burning continually Bengal lights of various colours within its
translucent walls, and spouting gold and silver rain on its assailants.
It really was a gorgeous feast of colour for the eye, a most entrancing
spectacle, with all this polychrome glow seen against the dead-white
field of snow which covered Dominion Square, in the crystal clearness
of a Canadian winter night, with the thermometer down anywhere.

Another annual feature of the Carnival was the great fancy-dress
skating fete in the covered rink. The Victoria Rink at Montreal is a
huge building, and was profusely decorated for the occasion with the
usual flags, wreaths of artificial foliage, and coloured lamps. An
American sculptor had modelled six colossal groups of statuary out of
wet snow, and these were ranged down either side of the rink. As they
froze, they took on the appearance and texture of white marble, and
were very effective. Round a cluster of arc-lights in the roof there
was a sort of revolving cage of different coloured panes of glass;
these threw variegated beams of light over the brilliant kaleidoscopic
crowd below. Previous Governors-General had, in opening the fete
shuffled shamefacedly down the centre of the rink in overshoes and fur
coats to the dais, but Lord and Lady Lansdowne, being both expert
skaters, determined to do the thing in proper Carnival style, and
arrived in fancy dress, he in black as a Duke of Brunswick, she as Mary
Queen of Scots, attended by her two boys, then twelve and fourteen
years old, as pages, resplendent in crimson tights and crimson velvet.
The band struck up "God Save the Queen," and down the cleared space in
the centre skimmed, hand-in-hand, the Duke of Brunswick and Mary Queen
of Scots, with the two pages carrying her train, all four executing a
"Dutch roll" in the most workman-like manner. It was really a very
effective entrance, and was immensely appreciated by the crowd of
skaters present. I represented a Shakespearean character, and had
occasion to note what very inadequate protection is afforded by blue
silk tights, with nothing under them, against the cold of a Canadian
February. One of the Aides-de-Camp had arrayed himself in white silk as
Romeo; being only just out from England, he was anything but firm on
his skates. Some malicious young Montrealers of tender age, noticing
this, deliberately bumped into him again and again, sending his
conspicuous white figure spinning each time. Poor Romeo's experiences
were no more fortunate on the rink than in the tragedy associated with
his name; by the end of the evening, after his many tumbles, his
draggled white silk dress suggested irresistibly the plumage of a
soiled dove.

A hill (locally known as "The Mountain") rises immediately behind
Montreal, the original Mont Real, or Mount Royal, from which the city
derives its name. This naturally lends itself to the formation of
toboggan slides, and one of them, the "Montreal Club Slide," was really
terrifically steep. The start was precipitous enough, in all
conscience, but soon came a steep drop of sixty feet, at which point
all the working parts of one's anatomy seemed to leave one, to replace
themselves at the finish only. The pace was so tremendous that it was
difficult to breathe, but it was immensely exciting. The Montreal slide
was just one-third of a mile long, and the time occupied in the descent
on good ice was about twenty seconds, working out at sixty miles an
hour. Every precaution was taken against accidents; there was a
telephone from the far end, and no toboggan was allowed to start until
"track clear" had been signalled. Everything in this world is relative.
We had thought our Ottawa slides very fast, though the greatest speed
we ever attained was about thirty miles an hour, whilst at home we had
been delighted if we could coax fifteen miles an hour out of our rough
machines. The Lansdowne boys were very expert on toboggans, and could
go down the Ottawa slides standing erect, a thing no adult could
possibly manage. They had fitted their machines with gong-bells and red
and green lanterns, and the "Ottawa River Express" would come whizzing
down at night with bells clanging and lights gleaming.

I can claim to be the absolute pioneer of ski on the American
continent, for in January, 1887, I brought my Russian ski to Ottawa,
the very first pair that had ever been seen in the New World. I coasted
down hills on them amidst universal jeers; every one declared that they
were quite unsuited to Canadian conditions. The old-fashioned raquettes
had their advantages, for one could walk over the softest snow in them.
Here, again, I fancy that it was the sense of man triumphant over
Nature that made snow-shoeing so attractive. The Canadian snow-shoe
brings certain unaccustomed muscles into play, and these muscles show
their resentment by aching furiously. The French habitants term this
pain mal de raquettes. In my time snow-shoe tramps at night,
across-country into the woods, were one of the standard winter
amusements of Ottawa, and the girls showed great dexterity in vaulting
fences with their snow-shoes on.

A Canadian winter is bathed in sunshine. In the dry, crisp atmosphere
distant objects are as clear-cut and hard as though they were carved
out of wood; the air is like wine, and with every breath human beings
seem to enter on a new lease of life.

It is not so in the lower world. There is not a bird to be seen, for no
bird could secure a living with three feet of snow on the ground.
Nature is very dead, and I understood the glee with which the children
used to announce the return of the crows, for these wise birds are the
unfailing harbingers of Spring. With us Spring is undecided, fickle,
and coy. She is not sure of herself, and after making timid, tentative
advances, retreats again, uncertain as to her ability to cope with grim
Winter. In Canada, Spring comes with an all-conquering rush. In one
short fortnight she clothes the trees in green, and carpets the ground
with blue and white hepaticas. She is also, unfortunately, accompanied
by myriads of self-appointed official maids-of-honour in the shape of
mosquitoes, anxious to make up for their long winter fast. As the
fierce suns of April melt the surface snow, the water percolates
through to the ground, where it freezes again, forming a sheet of what
Canadians term "glare-ice." I have seen at Rideau Hall this ice split
in all directions over the flower-beds by the first tender shoots of
the crocuses. How these fragile little spears of green have the power
to penetrate an inch of ice is one of the mysteries of Nature.

Would space admit of it, and were paper not such an unreasonably
expensive commodity just now, I would like to speak of the glories of a
Canadian wood in May, with the ground flecked with red and white
trilliums; of the fields in British Columbia, gorgeous in spring-time
with blue lilies and drifts of rose-coloured cyclamens; of the autumn
woods in their sumptuous dress of scarlet, crimson, orange, and yellow,
the sugar-maples blazing like torches against the dark firs; of the
marvels of the three ranges of the Rockies, Selkirks, and Cascades, and
of the other wonders of the great Dominion.

As boys, I and my youngest brother knew "Hiawatha's Fishing" almost by
heart, so I had an intense desire to see "Gitche Gumee, the Big-Sea
Water," which we more prosaically call Lake Superior, the home of the
sturgeon "Nahma," of "Ugudwash" the sun-fish, of the pike the
"Maskenozha," and the actual scene of Hiawatha's fishing. To others,
without this sentimental interest, the Great Lakes might appear vast
but uninteresting expanses of water, chiefly remarkable for the hideous
form of vessel which has been evolved to navigate their clear depths.

One thing I can say with confidence. No one who makes a winter journey
to that land of sunshine and snow, with its energetic, pleasant, and
hospitable inhabitants, will ever regret it, and the wayfarer will
return home with the consciousness of having been in contact with an
intensely virile race, only now beginning to realise its own strength.



CHAPTER X


Calcutta--Hooghly pilots--Government House--A Durbar--The sulky
Rajah--The customary formalities--An ingenious interpreter--The sailing
clippers in the Hooghly-Calcutta Cathedral--A succulent banquet--The
mistaken Ministre--The "Gordons"--Barrackpore--A Swiss Family Robinson
aerial house--The child and the elephants--The merry midshipmen--Some
of their escapades--A huge haul of fishes--Queen Victoria and
Hindustani--The Hills--The Manipur outbreak--A riding tour--A wise old
Anglo-Indian--Incidents--The fidelity of native servants--A novel
printing-press--Lucknow--The loss of an illusion.


Lord Lansdowne had in 1888 been transferred from Canada to India, and
in May of that year he left Ottawa for Calcutta, taking on the way a
three months' well-earned holiday in England. Two of his staff
accompanied him from the vigorous young West to the immemorially old
East.

He succeeded as Viceroy Lord Dufferin, who had also held the
appointment of Governor-General of Canada up to 1878, after which he
had served as British Ambassador both at Petrograd and at
Constantinople, before proceeding to India in 1884.

Lord Minto, too, in later years filled both positions, serving in
Canada from 1898 to 1904, and in India from 1905 to 1910.

Whether in 1690 Job Charnock made a wise selection in fixing his
trading-station where Calcutta now stands, may be open to doubt. He
certainly had the broad Hooghly at his doors, affording plenty of water
not only for trading-vessels, but also for men-of-war in cases of
emergency. Still, from the swampy nature of the soil, and its proximity
to the great marshes of the Sunderbunds, Calcutta could never be a
really healthy place. An arrival by water up the Hooghly unquestionably
gives the most favourable impression of the Indian ex-capital, though
the river banks are flat and uninteresting. The Hooghly is one of the
most difficult rivers in the world to navigate, for the shoals and
sand-banks change almost daily with the strong tides, and the white
Hooghly pilots are men at the very top of their profession, and earn
some L2000 a year apiece. They are tremendous swells, and are perfectly
conscious of the fact, coming on board with their native servants and
their white "cub" or pupil. There is one shoal in particular, known as
the "James and Mary," on which a ship, touching ever so lightly, is as
good as lost. Calcutta, since I first knew it, has become a great
manufacturing centre. Lines of factories stand for over twenty miles
thick on the left bank of the river; the great pall of black smoke
hanging over the city is visible for miles, and the atmosphere is
beginning to rival that of Manchester. Long use has accustomed us to
the smoke-blackened elms and limes of London, but there is something
peculiarly pathetic in the sight of a grimy, sooty palm tree.

The outward aspect of the stately Government House at Calcutta is
familiar to most people. It is a huge and imposing edifice, but when I
first knew it, its interior was very plain, and rather bare. Lady Minto
changed all this during her husband's Vice-royalty, and, with her
wonderful taste, transformed it into a sort of Italian palace at a very
small cost. She bought in Europe a few fine specimens of old Italian
gilt furniture, and had them copied in Calcutta by native workmen. In
the East, the Oriental point of view must be studied, and Easterns
attach immense importance to external splendour. The throne-room at
Calcutta, under Lady Minto's skilful treatment, became gorgeous enough
for the most exacting Asiatic, with its black marble floor, its
rose-coloured silk walls where great silver sconces alternated with
full-length portraits of British sovereigns, its white "chunam" columns
and its gilt Italian furniture. "Chunam" has been used in India from
time immemorial for decorative purposes. It is as white as snow and
harder than any stone, and is, I believe, made from calcined shells.
Let us suppose a Durbar held in this renovated throne-room for the
official reception of a native Indian Prince. The particular occasion I
have in mind was long after Lord Lansdowne's time, when a certain
Rajah, notoriously ill-disposed towards the British Raj, had been given
the strongest of hints that unless he mended his ways, he might find
another ruler placed on the throne of his State. He was also
recommended to come to Calcutta and to pay his respects to the Viceroy
there, when, of course, he would be received with the number of guns to
which he was entitled. The Indian Princes attach the utmost importance
to the number of guns they are given as a salute, a number which varies
from twenty-one in the case of the Nizam of Hyderabad, who alone ranks
as a Sovereign, to nine for the smaller princes. Should the British
Government wish to mark its strong displeasure with any native ruler,
it sometimes does so by reducing the number of guns of his salute, and
correspondingly, to have the number increased is a high honour. Sulkily
and unwillingly the Rajah of whom I am thinking journeyed to Calcutta,
and sulkily and unwillingly did he attend the Durbar. On occasions such
as these, visiting native Princes are the guests of the Government of
India at Hastings House (Warren Hastings' old country house in the
suburbs of Calcutta, specially renovated and fitted up for the
purpose), and the Viceroy's state carriages are sent to convey them to
Government House. Everything in the way of ceremonial in India is done
strictly by rule. The precise number of steps the Viceroy will advance
to greet visiting Rajahs is all laid down in a little book. The Nizam
of Hyderabad is met by the Viceroy with all his staff at the state
entrance of Government House, and he is accompanied through all the
rooms, both on his arrival and on his departure; but, as I said before,
the Nizam ranks as a Sovereign. In the case of lesser lights the
Viceroy advances anything from three to twenty steps. These points may
appear very trivial to Europeans, but to Orientals they assume great
importance, and, after all, India is a part of Asia. At right angles to
the Calcutta throne-room is the fine Marble Hall, with marble floor and
columns and an entirely gilt ceiling; empty except for six colossal
busts of Roman Emperors, which, together with a number of splendid
cut-glass chandeliers of the best French Louis XV. period, and a
full-length portrait of Louis XV. himself, fell into our hands through
the fortunes of war at a time when our relations with our present film
ally, France, were possibly less cordial than at present. For a Durbar
a long line of red carpet was laid from the throne-room, through the
Marble Hall and the White Hall beyond it, right down the great flight
of exterior steps, at the foot of which a white Guard of Honour of one
hundred men from a British regiment was drawn up, Aligned through the
outer hall, the Marble Hall and the throne-room were one hundred men of
the Viceroy's Bodyguard, splendid fellows chosen for their height and
appearance, and all from Northern India. They wore the white leather
breeches and jack-boots of our own Life Guards, with scarlet tunics and
huge turbans of blue and gold, standing with their lances as motionless
as so many bronze statues. For a Durbar, many precious things were
unearthed from the "Tosha-Khana," or Treasury: the Viceroy's
silver-gilt throne; an arm-chair of solid silver for the visiting
Rajah; great silver-gilt maces bearing & crown and "V.R.I."; and, above
all, the beautiful Durbar carpets of woven gold wire. The making of
these carpets is, I believe, an hereditary trade in a Benares family;
they are woven of real gold wire, heavily embroidered in gold
afterwards, and are immensely expensive. The visiting Rajah announces
beforehand the number of the suite he is bringing with him, and the
Viceroy has a precisely similar number, so two corresponding rows of
cane arm-chairs are placed opposite each other, at right angles to the
throne. Behind the chairs twelve resplendent red-and-gold-coated
servants with blue-and-silver turbans, hold the gilt maces aloft,
whilst behind the throne eight more gorgeously apparelled natives hold
two long-handled fans of peacock's feathers, two silver-mounted yak's
tails, and two massive sheaves of peacock's feathers, all these being
the Eastern emblems of sovereignty.

We will suppose this particular Rajah to be a "nine-gun" and a
"three-step" man. Bang go the cannon from Fort William nine times, and
the Viceroy, in full uniform with decorations, duly advances three
steps on the gold carpet to greet his visitor. The Viceroy seats
himself on his silver-gilt throne at the top of the three steps, the
visiting Rajah in his silver chair being one step lower. The two suites
seat themselves facing each other in dead silence; the Europeans
assuming an absolutely Oriental impassivity of countenance. The
ill-conditioned Rajah, though he spoke English perfectly, had insisted
on bringing his own interpreter with him. A long pause in conformity
with Oriental etiquette follows, then the Viceroy puts the first
invariable question: "I trust that your Highness is in the enjoyment of
good health?" which is duly repeated in Urdu by the official white
interpreter. The sulky Rajah grunts something that sounds like "Bhirrr
Whirrr," which the native interpreter renders, in clipped staccato
English, as "His Highness declares that by your Excellency's favour his
health is excellent. Lately, owing to attack of fever, it was with His
Highness what Immortal Bard has termed a case of 'to be or not to be!'
Now, danger happily averted, His Highness has seldom reposed under the
canopy of a sounder brain than at present." Another long pause, and the
second invariable question: "I trust that your Highness' Army is in its
usual efficient state?" The surly Rajah, "Khirr Virr." The native
interpreter, "Without doubt His Highness' Army has never yet been so
efficient. Should troubles arise, or a pretty kettle of fish
unfortunately occur, His Highness places his entire Army at your
Excellency's disposal; as Swan of Avon says, 'Come the three corners of
the world in arms, and we shall shock them.'" A third question, "I
trust that the crops in your Highness' dominion are satisfactory?" The
Rajah, "Ghirrr Firrr." The interpreter, "Stimulated without doubt by
your Excellency's auspicious visit to neighbouring State, the soil in
His Highness' dominions has determined to beat record and to go regular
mucker. Crops tenfold ordinary capacity are springing from the ground
everywhere." One has seen a conjurer produce half a roomful of paper
flowers from a hat, or even from an even less promising receptacle, but
no conjurer was in it with that interpreter, who from two sulky
monosyllabic grunts evolved a perfect garland of choice Oriental
flowers of speech. It reminded me of the process known in newspaper
offices as "expanding" a telegram. When the customary number of formal
questions have been put, the Viceroy makes a sign to his Military
Secretary, who brings him a gold tray on which stand a little gold
flask and a small box; the traditional "Attar and pan." The Viceroy
sprinkles a few drops of attar of roses on the Rajah's clothing from
the gold flask, and hands him a piece of betel-nut wrapped in gold
paper, known as "pan." This is the courteous Eastern fashion of saying
"Now I bid you good-bye." The Military Secretary performs a like office
to the members of the Rajah's suite, who, however, have to content
themselves with attar sprinkled from a silver bottle and "pans" wrapped
in silver paper. Then all the traditional requirements of Oriental
politeness have been fulfilled, and the Rajah takes his leave with the
same ceremonies as attended his arrival. At the beginning of a Durbar
"tribute" is presented--that is to say that a folded napkin supposed to
contain one thousand gold mohurs is handed to the Viceroy, who "touches
it and remits it." I have often wondered what that folded napkin really
contained.

When I first knew Calcutta, most of the grain, jute, hemp and indigo
exported was carried to its various destinations in sailing-ships, and
there were rows and rows of splendid full-rigged ships and barques
lying moored in the Hooghly along the whole length of the Maidan. The
line must have extended for two miles, and I never tired of looking at
these beautiful vessels with their graceful lines and huge spars, all
clean and spick and span with green and white paint, the ubiquitous
Calcutta crows perched in serried ranks on their yards. To my mind a
full-rigged ship is the most beautiful object man has ever devised, and
when the dusk was falling, with every spar and rope outlined in black
against the vivid crimson of the short-lived Indian sunset, the long
line of shipping made a glorious picture. Nineteen years later every
sailing-ship had disappeared from the Hooghly, and in their place were
rows of unsightly, rusty-sided iron tanks, with squat polemasts and
ugly funnels vomiting black smoke. A tramp-steamer has its uses, no
doubt, but it is hardly a thing of beauty. Ichabod! Ichabod!

Calcutta is fortunate in having so fine a lung as the great stretch of
the Maidan. It has been admirably planted and laid out, with every palm
of tree of aggressively Indian appearance carefully excluded from its
green expanse, so it wears a curiously home-like appearance. The Maidan
is very reminiscent of Hyde Park, though almost double its size. There
is one spot, where the Gothic spire of the cathedral emerges from a
mass of greenery, with a large sheet of water in the foreground, which
recalls exactly the view over Bayswater from the bridge spanning the
Serpentine.

Considering that Calcutta Cathedral was built in 1840; that it was
designed by an Engineer officer, and not by an architect; that its
"Gothic" is composed of cast-iron and stucco instead of stone, it is
really not such a bad building. The great size of its interior gives it
a certain dignity, and owing to the generosity of the European
community, it is most lavishly adorned with marbles, mosaics, and
stained glass. It possesses the finest organ in Asia, and a really
excellent choir, the men Europeans, the boys being Eurasians. These
small half-castes have very sweet voices, with a curious and not
unpleasing metallic timbre about them. At evening service in the
cathedral, should one ignore such details as the rows of electric
punkahs, the temperature, and the dingy complexions of the choir-boys,
it was almost impossible to realise that one was not in England. I had
been used to singing in a church choir, and it was pleasant to hear
such familiar cathedral services as Garrett in D, Smart in F, Walmisley
in D minor, and Hopkins in F, so perfectly rendered seven thousand
miles away from home, thanks to that excellent musician, Dr. Slater,
the cathedral organist.

St. Andrew's Scottish Presbyterian Church stands in its own wooded
grounds in which there are two large ponds, or, as Anglo-Indians would
put it, it stands in a compound with large tanks. The church is
consequently infested with mosquitoes. The last time that I was in
Calcutta, the Gordon Highlanders had just relieved an English regiment
in the fort, and on the first Sunday after their arrival, four hundred
Gordons were marched to a parade service at St. Andrew's. The most
optimistic mosquito had never in his wildest dreams imagined such a
succulent banquet as that afforded by four hundred bare-kneed, kilted
Highlanders, and the mosquitoes made the fullest use of their unique
opportunity. Soon the church resounded with the vigorous slapping of
hands on bare knees and thighs, as the men endeavoured to kill a few of
their little tormentors. The minister, hearing the loud clapping, but
entirely misapprehending its purport, paused in his sermon, and said,
"My brethren, it is varra gratifying to a minister of the Word to learn
that his remarks meet with the approbation of his hearers, but I'd have
you remember that all applause is strictly oot of place in the Hoose of
God."

The Gordon Highlanders were originally raised by my great-grandfather,
the fourth Duke of Gordon, in 1794, or perhaps more accurately, by my
great-grandmother, Jean, the beautiful Duchess of Gordon. Duchess Jean,
then in the height of her beauty, attended every market in the towns
round Gordon Castle, and kissed every recruit who took the guinea she
offered. The French Republic had declared war on Great Britain in 1793,
and the Government had made an urgent appeal for fresh levies of
troops. Duchess Jean, by her novel osculatory methods, raised the
Gordons in four months. My father and mother were married at Gordon
Castle in 1832, and the wedding guests grew so excessively convivial
that they carried everything on the tables at the wedding breakfast,
silver plate, glass, china, and all, down to the bridge at Fochabers,
and threw them into the Spey. We may congratulate ourselves on the fact
that it is no longer incumbent on wedding guests to drink the health of
the newly married couple so fervently, and that a proportional saving
in table fittings can thus be effected.

Barrackpore, the Viceroy's country place, is unquestionably a pleasant
spot, with its fine park and famous gardens. Like the Maidan in
Calcutta Barrackpore is a very fairly successful attempt at reproducing
England in Asia. With a little make-believe and a determined attempt to
ignore the grotesque outlines of a Hindoo temple standing on the
confines of the park, and the large humps on the backs of the grazing
cattle like the steam domes on railway engines, it might be possible to
imagine oneself at home, until the illusion is shattered in quite
another fashion. There is an excellent eighteen-hole golf course in
Barrackpore park, but when you hear people talking of the second
"brown" there can be no doubt but that you are in Asia. A "green" would
be a palpable misnomer for the parched grass of an Indian dry season,
still a "brown" comes as a shock at first. The gardens merit their
reputation. There are innumerable ponds, or "tanks," of lotus and
water-lilies of every hue: scarlet, crimson, white, and pure sky-blue,
the latter an importation from Australia. When these are in flower they
are a lovely sight, and perhaps compensate for the myriads of
mosquitoes who find in these ponds an ideal breeding-place, and assert
their presence day and night most successfully. There are great drifts
of Eucharis lilies growing under the protecting shadows of the trees
along shady walks, and the blaze of colour in the formal garden
surrounding the white marble fountain in front of the house is
positively dazzling. The house was built especially as a hot-weather
residence, and as such is not particularly successful, for it is one of
the hottest buildings in the whole of India. The dining-room is in the
centre of the house, and has no windows whatever; an arrangement which,
though it may shut out the sun, also excludes all fresh air as well.
The bedrooms extend up through two storeys, and are so extremely lofty
that one has the sensation of sleeping in a lift-shaft. Apart from its
heat, the house has a dignified old-world air about it, with vague
hints of Adam decoration in its details.

The establishment of Government House consisted of five hundred and
twenty servants, all natives, so it could not be termed short-handed.
With so many men, the apparently impossible could be undertaken. Lord
Lansdowne left Calcutta for Barrackpore every Saturday afternoon. As
soon as we had gone into luncheon at Calcutta on the Saturday, perfect
armies of men descended on the private part of the house and packed up
all the little things about the rooms into big cases. An hour later
they were on their way up the river by steamer, and when we arrived at
Barrackpore for tea, the house looked as though it had been lived in
for weeks, with every object reposing on the tables in precisely the
same position it had occupied earlier in the day in Calcutta. Late on
Sunday night this process was reversed for the return journey at seven
on Monday morning. The Viceroy had a completely fitted-up office in his
smart little white-and-gold yacht, and was able to get through a great
deal of work on his voyage down the Hooghly before breakfast on Monday
mornings. A conscientious Viceroy of India is one of the hardest-worked
men in the world, for he frequently has ten hours of office work in the
day, irrespective of his other duties.

An enormous banyan tree stands on the lawn at Barrackpore. I should be
afraid to say how much ground it covers; perhaps nearly an acre, for
these trees throw down aerial suckers which form into fresh trunks, and
so spread indefinitely. Lady Lansdowne thought she would have a bamboo
house built in this great banyan tree for her little daughter, the same
little girl for whom I had built the snow-hut at Ottawa, for she
happens to be my god-daughter. It was to be a sort of "Swiss Family
Robinson" tree-house, infinitely superior to the house on the tree-tops
of Kensington Gardens, which Wendy destined for Peter Pan. The house
was duly built, with bamboo staircases, and little fenced-off bamboo
platforms fitted with seats and tables, at different levels up the
tree. The Swiss Family Robinson would have gone mad with jealousy at
seeing such a desirable aerial abode, so immeasurably preferable to
their own, and even Wendy might have felt a mild pang of envy. When the
house was completed, one of the Aides-de-Camp inspected it and found a
snake hanging by its tail from a branch right over one of the little
aerial platforms. He reported that the tree was full of snakes. The
risk was too great to run, so prompt orders were given to demolish the
house, and the little girl never enjoyed her tree-top playground.

The Viceroy's State elephants were all kept at Barrackpore, and the
elephant-lines had a great attraction for children, especially for a
small great-nephew of mine, now a Lieut.-Colonel, and the father of a
family, then aged six. The child was very fearless, but the only
elephant he was allowed to approach was a venerable tusker named
"Warren Hastings," the very identical elephant on which Warren Hastings
made his first entry into Calcutta. "Warren" was supposed to be nearly
200 years old, and his temper could be absolutely relied on. It is
curious that natives, in speaking of a quiet, good-tempered animal,
always speak of him as "poor" (gharib). The little boy was perpetually
feeding Warren Hastings with oranges and bananas, and the two became
great friends. It was a pretty sight seeing the fearless small boy in
his white suit, bare legs, and little sun-helmet, standing in front of
the great beast who could have crushed him to a wafer in one second,
and ordering him in the vernacular, with his shrill child's voice, to
kneel. It was a more curious sight seeing the huge animal at once obey
his little mentor, and, struggling with the infirmities and rheumatic
joints of old age (to which, alas! others besides elephants are
subject), lower himself painfully on to his knees. "Salaam karo"
("Salute me"), piped the white child, and the great pachyderm instantly
obeyed, lifting his trunk high in salute; which, if you think it out,
may have a certain symbolism about it.

It was the same small boy who on returning to England at the age of
seven, after five years in India, looked out of the windows of the
carriage with immense interest, as they drove through London from
Charing Cross station. "Mother," he piped at length, "this is a very
odd country! All the natives seem to be white here."

My little great-nephew was immensely petted by the native servants, and
as he could speak the vernacular with greater ease than English, he
picked up from the servants the most appalling language, which he
innocently repeated, entailing his frequent chastisement.

I can sympathise with the child there, for at the age of nine, in
Dublin, I became seized with an intense but short-lived desire to
enlist as a trumpeter in a Lancer regiment. Seeing one day a real live,
if diminutive, Lancer trumpeter listening to the band playing in the
Castle yard, I ran down and consulted him as to the best means of
attaining my desire. The small trumpeter was not particularly
intelligent, and was unable to help me. Though of tender years, he was
regrettably lacking in refinement, for his conversation consisted
chiefly of an endless repetition of three or four words, not one of
which I had ever heard before. Carefully treasuring these up, as having
a fine martial smack about them suitable to the military career I then
proposed embracing, I, in all innocence, fired off one of the
trumpeter's full-flavoured expressions at my horror-stricken family
during luncheon, to be at once ordered out of the room, and severely
punished afterwards. We all know that "what the soldier said" is not
legal evidence; in this painful fashion I also learnt that "what the
trumpeter said" is not held to be a valid excuse for the use of bad
language by a small boy.

In the late autumn of 1890 Admiral Sir Edmund Fremantle brought his
flagship, the Boadicea, right up the Hooghly, and moored her alongside
the Maidan. The ship remained there for six weeks, the Admiral taking
up his quarters at Government House. My sister Lady Lansdowne had a
mistaken weakness for midshipmen, whom she most inappropriately termed
"those dear little fellows." At that time midshipmen went to sea at
fifteen years of age, so they were much younger than at present. As
these boys were constantly at Government House, four of us thought that
we would lend the midshipmen our ponies for an early morning ride. The
boys all started off at a gallop, and every one of them was bolted with
as soon as he reached the Maidan. As they had no riding-breeches, their
trousers soon rucked up, exhibiting ample expanses of bare legs; they
had no notion of riding, but managed to stick on somehow by clinging to
pommel and mane, banging here into a sedate Judge of the High Court,
with an apologetic "Sorry, sir, but this swine of a pony won't steer;"
barging there into a pompous Anglo-Indian official, as they yelled to
their ponies, "Easy now, dogs-body, or you'll unship us both;"
galloping as hard as their ponies could lay legs to the ground,
cannoning into half the white inhabitants of Calcutta, but always with
imperturbable good-humour. When their panting ponies tried to pull up
to recover their wind a little, these rising hopes of the British Navy
kicked them with their heels into a gallop again, shouting strange
nautical oaths, and grinning from ear to ear with delight, until
finally four ponies lathered in sweat, in the last stages of
exhaustion, returned to Government House, and four dripping boys
alighted, declaring that they had had the time of their lives in spite
of a considerable loss of cuticle. It was the same at the dances at
Government House. The smart young subalterns simply weren't in it; the
midshipmen got all the best partners, and, to do them justice, they
could dance very well. They started with the music and whirled their
partners round the room at the top of their speed, in the furnace
temperature of Calcutta, without drawing rein for one second until the
band stopped, when a dishevelled and utterly exhausted damsel collapsed
limply into a chair, whilst a deliquescent brass-buttoned youth, with a
sodden wisp of white linen and black silk round his neck to indicate
the spot where he had once possessed a collar and tie, endeavoured to
fan his partner into some semblance of coolness again.

Lady Lansdowne having invited eight midshipmen to spend a Sunday at
Barrackpore, they arrived there by launch with a drag net, which the
Viceroy had given them leave to use on the largest of the ponds. My
sister at once set them down to play lawn-tennis, hoping to work off
some of their superfluous energy in this way. In honour of the
occasion, the midshipmen had extracted their best white flannels from
their chests, and they proceeded to array themselves in these. The
Boadicea, however, had been two years in commission, the flannels were
two years old, and the lads were just at the age when they were growing
most rapidly. They squeezed themselves with great difficulty into their
shrunken garments, which looked more like tights than trousers, every
button and seam obviously strained to the bursting point, and set to
work playing tennis with their accustomed vigour. Soon there was a
sound of rending cloth, and the senior midshipman, a portly youth of
Teutonic amplitude of outline, lay down flat on his back on the lawn. A
minute later there was a similar sound, and another boy lay down on his
back and remained there, and a third lad quickly followed their
example. A charming lady had noticed this from the verandah above, and
ran down in some alarm, fearing that these young Nelsons had got
sunstrokes. Somewhat confusedly they assured her that they were quite
well, but might they, please, have three rugs brought them. Otherwise
it was impossible for them to move. With some difficulty three rugs
were procured, and, enveloped in them, they waddled off to their
bungalow to assume more decent apparel. A few minutes later there were
two more similar catastrophes (these garments all seemed to split in
precisely the same spot), and the supply of rugs being exhausted, these
boys had to retreat to their bungalow walking backwards like
chamberlains at a Court function. After luncheon, in the burning heat
of Bengal, most sensible people keep quiet in the shade, but the
midshipmen went off to inspect the great tank, and to decide how they
should drag it.

Soon we heard loud shoutings from the direction of the tank, and saw a
long string of native servants carrying brown chatties of hot water
towards the pond. We found that the courteous House-Baboo had informed
the midshipmen that the holes in the banks of the tank were the winter
rest-places of cobras. It then occurred to the boys that it would be
capital fun to pour hot water down the holes, and to kill the cobras
with sticks as they emerged from them. It was a horribly dangerous
amusement, for, one bad shot, and the Royal Navy would unquestionably
have had to mourn the loss of a promising midshipman in two hours'
time. When we arrived the snake-killing was over, and the boys were all
refreshing themselves with large cheroots purloined from the
dining-room on their behalf by a friendly kitmutgar. The dragging of
the tank was really a wonderful sight. As the net reached the far end
it was one solid mass of great shining, blue-grey fish, of about thirty
pounds weight each. The most imaginative artist in depicting the
"Miraculous Draught of Fishes" never approached the reality of
Barrackpore, or pictured such vast quantities of writhing, silvery
finny creatures. They were a fish called cattla by the natives, a
species of carp, with a few eels and smaller fish of a bright red
colour thrown in amongst them. I could never have believed that one
pond could have held such incredible quantities of fish. The Viceroy,
an intrepid pioneer in gastronomic matters, had a great cattla boiled
for his dinner. The first mouthful defeated him; he declared that the
consistency of the fish was that of an old flannel shirt, and the taste
a compound of mud and of the smell of a covered racquet-court. A lady
insisted on presenting the midshipmen with two dozen bottles of a very
good champagne for the Gun-room Mess. In the innocence of her heart she
thought that the champagne would last them for a year, but on New
Year's Eve the little lambs had a great celebration on board, and drank
the whole two dozen at one sitting. As there were exactly eighteen of
them, this made a fair allowance apiece; they all got exceedingly
drunk, and the Admiral stopped their leave for two months, so we saw no
more of them. They were quite good boys really though, like all their
kind, rather over-full of high spirits.

As is well known, Queen Victoria celebrated her seventieth birthday by
commencing the study of Hindustani under the tuition of a skilled
Moonshee. At the farewell audience the Queen gave my sister, Her
Majesty, on learning that Lady Lansdowne intended to begin learning
Hindustani as soon as she reached India, proposed that they should
correspond occasionally in Urdu, to test the relative progress they
were making. Every six months or so a letter from the Queen,
beautifully written in Persian characters, reached Calcutta, to which
my sister duly replied. In strict confidence, I may say that I strongly
suspect that Lady Lansdowne's letters were written by her Moonshee, and
that she merely copied the Persian characters, which she could do very
neatly. The Arabic alphabet is used in writing Persian, with three or
four extra letters added to express sounds which do not exist in
Arabic; it is, of course, written from right to left. I had an hour and
a half's daily lesson in Urdu from an efficient, if immensely pompous,
Moonshee, but I never attempted to learn to read or write the Persian
characters.

I do not think that any one who has not traversed the plains of
Northern Indian can have any idea of their deadly monotony. Hour after
hour of level, sun-baked wheat-fields, interspersed with arid tracts of
desert, hardly conforms to the traditional idea of Indian scenery, nor
when once Bengal is left behind is there any of that luxuriant
vegetation which one instinctively associates with hot countries. In
bars in the United States, any one wishing for whisky and water was (I
advisedly use the past tense) accustomed to drain a small tumbler of
neat whisky, and then to swallow a glass of water. In India everything
is arranged on this principle; the whisky and the water are kept quite
separate. The dead-flat expanse of the Northern plains is unbroken by
the most insignificant of mounds; on the other hand, in the hills it is
almost impossible to find ten yards of level ground. In the same way
during the dry season you know with absolute certainty that there will
be no rain; whilst during the rains you can predict, without the
faintest shadow of doubt, that the downpour will continue day by day.
Personally, I prefer whisky and water mixed.

In 1891 the Viceroy had selected the Kumaon district for his usual
official spring tour, and all arrangements had been made for this. As
my sister was feeling the heat of Calcutta a great deal, she and I
preceded the Viceroy to Naini Tal in the Kumaon district, as it stands
at an altitude of 6500 feet. The narrow-gauge railway ends at
Kathgodam, fifteen miles from Naini Tal, and the last four miles to the
hill-station have to be ridden up, I should imagine, the steepest road
in the world. It is like the side of a house. People have before now
slipped over their horses' tails going up that terrific ascent, and I
cannot conceive how the horses' girths manage to hold. Naini Tal is a
delightful spot, with bungalows peeping out of dense greenery that
fringes a clear lake. As in most hill-stations, the narrow riding
tracks are scooped out of the hillsides with a perpendicular drop of,
say, 500 feet on one side. These khudd paths, in addition to being very
narrow, are so precipitous that it takes some while getting used to
riding along them. A rather tiresome elderly spinster had come up to
Naini Tal on a visit to a relative, and was continually bewailing the
dangers of these khudd paths. She had hoped, she declared, to put on a
little flesh in the hills, but her constant anxiety about the khudds
was making her thinner than ever. A humorous subaltern, rather bored at
these continual laments, observed to her: "At all events, Miss Smith,
you'll have one consolation. If by any piece of bad luck you should
fall over the khudd, you'll go over thin, but you'll fall down plump--a
thousand feet."

The very evening that Lord Lansdowne arrived for his projected tour,
the news of a serious outbreak in Manipur was telegraphed. The Viceroy
at once decided to abandon his tour and to proceed straight to Simla,
to which the Government offices had already moved, and where his
presence would be urgently required. Lord William Beresford, the
Military Secretary, a prince of organisers, at once took possession of
the telegraph wires, and in two hours his arrangements were
complete--or as an Anglo-Indian would put it, "he had made his
bundobust." The Viceroy and my sister were to leave next morning at 6
a.m., and Lord William undertook to get them to Simla by special trains
before midnight. He actually landed them there by 11 p.m.--quite a
record journey, for Naini Tal is 407 miles from Simla, of which 75
miles have to be ridden or driven by road and 66 are by narrow-gauge
railway, on which high speeds are impossible. There were 6500 feet to
descend from Naini, and 6000 feet to ascend to Simla, but in India a
good organiser can accomplish miracles.

The Viceroy's tour being abandoned, Colonel Erskine, the Commissioner
for the Kumaon district, invited me to accompany him on his own
official tour. It was through very difficult country where no wheeled
traffic could pass, so we were to ride, with all our belongings carried
by coolies. I bought two hill-ponies the size of Newfoundland dogs for
myself and my "bearer," and we started. The little animals being used
to carrying packs, have a disconcerting trick of keeping close to the
very edge of the khudd, for experience has taught them that to bump
their load against the rock wall on the inner side gives them an
unpleasant jar. These little hill-ponies are wonderfully sure-footed,
and can climb like cats over dry water-courses piled with rocks and
great boulders, which a man on foot would find difficult to negotiate.
The rhododendrons were then in full flower, and the hills were one
blaze of colour. We were always going up and up, and as we ascended,
the deep crimson rhododendron flowers of Naini Tal gradually faded to
rose-colour, from rose-colour to pale pink, and from pink to pure
white. It was a perfect education travelling with Colonel Erskine, for
that shrewd and kindly old Scotsman had spent half his life in India,
and knew the Oriental inside out. The French have an expression, "se
fourrer dans la peau d'autrui," "to shove yourself into another
person's skin," and therefore to be able to see things as they would
present themselves to the mind of a man of a different race and of a
different mentality, and from his point of view. All young diplomats
are enjoined to cultivate this art, and some few succeed in doing so.
Colonel Erskine had it to perfection. On arriving in a village he would
call for a carpet, and a dirty cotton dhuree would be laid on the
round. He would then order a charpoy, or native bed, to be placed on
the carpet, and he would seat himself on it, and call out in the
vernacular, "Now, my children, what have you to tell me?" All this was
strictly in accordance with immemorial Eastern custom. Then the long
line of suppliants would approach, each one with a present of an
orange, or a bunch of rhododendron flowers in his hand. This, again,
from the very beginning of things has been the custom in the East (cf.
2 Kings, chap. viii, vers. 8, 9: "And the King said unto Hazael, Take a
present in thine hand, and go, meet the man of God.... So Hazael went
to meet him, and took a present with him"). Colonel Erskine was a great
stickler for these presents, and as they could be picked off the
nearest rhododendron bush, they cost the donor nothing.

The outpouring of grievences and complaints then began, each applicant
always ending with the two-thousand-year-old cry of India, "Dohai,
Huzoor!" ("Justice, my lord!") The old Commissioner meanwhile listened
intently, dictating copious notes to his Brahmin clerk, and at the
conclusion of the audience he would cry, "Go, my children. Justice
shall be done to all of you," and we moved on to another village. It
was very pleasant seeing the patriarchal relations between the
Commissioner and the villagers. He understood them and their customs
thoroughly; they trusted him and loved him as their official father. I
fancy that this type of Indian Civil servant, knowing the people he has
to deal with down to the very marrow of their bones, has become rarer
of late years. The Brahmin clerk was a very intelligent man, and spoke
English admirably, but I took a great dislike to him, noting the abject
way in which the natives fawned on him. Colonel Erskine had to
discharge him soon afterwards, as he found that he had been exploiting
the villagers mercilessly for years, taking bribes right and left. From
much experience Colonel Erskine was an adept at travelling with what he
termed "a light camp." He took with him a portable office-desk, a
bookcase with a small reference library, and two portable arm-chairs.
All these were carried in addition to our baggage and bedding on
coolies' heads, for our sleeping-places were seldom more than fifteen
miles apart.

The Commissioner's old Khansama had very strict ideas as to how a
"Sahib's" dinner should be served. He insisted on decorating the table
with rhododendron flowers, and placing on it every night four dishes of
Moradabad metal work containing respectively six figs, six French
plums, six dates, and six biscuits, all reposing on the orthodox
lace-paper mats, and the moment dinner was over he carefully replaced
these in pickle-jars for use next evening. We would have broken his
heart had we spoiled the symmetry of his dishes by eating any of these.
It takes a little practice to master bills of fare written in "Kitmutar
English," and for "Irishishtew" and "Anchoto" to be resolved into
Irish-stew and Anchovy-toast. Once when a Viceroy was on tour there was
a roast gosling for dinner. This duly appeared on the bill-of-fare as
"Roasted goose's pup." In justice, however, we must own that we would
make far greater blunders in trying to write a menu in Urdu.

The Kumaon district is beautiful, not unlike an enlarged Scotland, with
deep ravines scooped out by clear, rushing rivers, their precipitous
sides clothed with dense growths of deodaras. In the early morning the
view of the long range of the snowy pinnacles of the Himalayas was
splendid. I learnt a great deal from wise old Colonel Erskine with his
intimate knowledge of the workings of the native mind, and of the
psychology of the Oriental.

There is something very touching in the fidelity of Indian native
servants to their employers. Lady Lansdowne returned to India eighteen
years after leaving it, for the marriage of her son (who was killed in
the first three months of the war) to Lord Minto's daughter, and I
accompanied her. One afternoon all the pensioned Government House
servants who had been in Lord Lansdowne's employment arrived in a body
to offer their "salaams" to my sister. They presented a very different
appearance to the resplendent beings in scarlet and gold whom I had
formerly known, for on taking their pension they had ceased troubling
to dye their beards, and they were merely dressed in plain white
cotton. These grey-bearded, toothless old men with their high, aquiline
features (they were nearly all Mohammedans), flowing white garments and
turbans, might have stepped bodily out of stained-glass windows. They
had brought with them all the little presents (principally watches)
which my sister had given them; they remembered all the berths she had
secured for their sons, and the letters she had written on their
behalf. An Oriental has a very long memory for a kindness as well as
for an injury done him. Lady Lansdowne, whose Hindustani had become
rather rusty, began feverishly turning over the pages of a dictionary
in an endeavour to express her feelings and the pleasure she
experienced in seeing these faithful retainers again: she wept, and the
old men wept, and we all agreed, as elderly people will, that in former
days the sun was brighter and life altogether rosier than in these
degenerate times. Before leaving, the old servants simultaneously
lifted their arms in the Mahommedan gesture of blessing, with all the
innate dignity of the Oriental; it was really a very touching sight,
nor do I think that the very substantial memento of their visit which
each of them received had anything to do with their attitude: they only
wished to show that they were "faithful to their salt."

It is difficult to determine the age of a native, as wrinkles and lines
do not show on a dark skin. Dark skins have other advantages. One of
the European Examiners of Calcutta University told me that there had
been great trouble about the examination-papers. By some means the
native students always managed to obtain what we may term "advance"
copies of these papers. My informant devised a scheme to stop this
leakage. Instead of having the papers printed in the usual fashion, he
called in the services of a single white printer on whom he could
absolutely rely. The white printer had the papers handed to him early
on the morning of the examination day, and he duly set them up on a
hand-press in the building itself. The printer had one assistant, a
coolie clad only in loin-cloth and turban, and every time the coolie
left the room he was made to remove both his loin-cloth and turban, so
that by no possibility could he have any papers concealed about him. In
spite of these precautions, it was clear from internal evidence that
some of the students had had a previous knowledge of the questions. How
had it been managed? It eventually appeared that the coolie, taking
advantage of the momentary absence of the white printer, had whipped
off his loin-cloth, SAT DOWN ON THE "FORM," and then replaced his
solitary garment. When made to strip on going out, the printing-ink did
not show on his dark skin: he had only to sit down elsewhere on a large
sheet of white paper for the questions to be printed off on it, and
they could then easily be read in a mirror. The Oriental mind is very
subtle.

This is no place to speak of the marvels of Mogul architecture in Agra
and Delhi. I do not believe that there exists in the world a more
exquisitely beautiful hall than the Diwan-i-Khas in Delhi palace. This
hall, open on one side to a garden, is entirely built of transparent
white marble inlaid with precious stones, and with its intricate gilded
ceilings, and wonderful pierced-marble screens it justifies the famous
Persian inscription that runs round it:

    "If heaven can be on the face of the earth,
    It is this, it is this, it is this."

I always regret that Shah Jehan did not carry out his original
intention of erecting a second Taj of black marble for himself at Agra,
opposite the wonderful tomb he built for his beloved Muntaz-i-Mahal;
probably the money ran out. Few people take in that the dome of the
Taj, that great airy white soap-bubble, is actually higher than the
dome of St. Paul's. The play of fancy and invention of Shah Jehan's
architects seems inexhaustible. All the exquisite white marble
pavilions of Agra palace differ absolutely both in design and
decoration, and Akbar's massive red sandstone buildings make the most
perfect foil to them that could be conceived.

Lucknow is one of the pleasantest stations in India, with its ring of
encircling parks, and the broad, tree-shaded roads of its cantonments,
but the pretentious monuments with which the city is studded will not
bear examination after the wonders of Agra and Delhi. The King of Oude
wished to surpass the Mogul Emperors by the magnificence of his
buildings, but he wished, too, to do it on the cheap. So in Lucknow
stucco, with very debased details, replaces the stately red sandstone
and marble of the older cities.

In 1890 after a long day's sight-seeing in Lucknow, in the course of
which we ascended the long exterior flight of steps of the great
Imambarah on an elephant (who proved himself as nimble as a German
waiter in going upstairs), Lady Lansdowne and I were taken to the
Husainabad just as the short-lived Indian twilight was falling. On
passing through its great gateway I thought that I had never in my life
seen anything so beautiful. At the end of a long white marble-paved
court, a stately black-and-white marble tomb with a gilded dome rose
from a flight of steps. Down the centre of the court ran a long pool of
clear water, surrounded by a gilded railing. On either side of the
court stood great clumps of flowering shrubs, also enclosed in gilded
railings. At the far end, a group of palms were outlined in jet black
against that vivid lemon-coloured afterglow only seen in hot countries;
peacocks, perched on the walls of the court, stood out duskily purple
against the glowing expanse of saffron sky, and the sleeping waters of
the long pool reflected the golden glory of the flaming vault above
them.

In the hush of the evening, and the half-light, the scene was lovely
beyond description, and for eighteen years I treasured in my mind the
memory of the Husainabad at sunset as the vision of my life.

On returning to Lucknow in 1906, I insisted on going at once to revisit
the Husainabad, though I was warned that there was nothing to see
there. Alas! in broad daylight and in the glare of the fierce sun the
whole place looked abominably tawdry. What I had taken for
black-and-white marble was only painted stucco, and coarsely daubed at
that; the details of the decoration were deplorable, and the Husainabad
was just a piece of showy, meretricious tinsel. The gathering dusk and
the golden expanse of the Indian sunset sky had by some subtle wizardry
thrown a veil of glamour over this poor travesty of the marvels of
Delhi and Agra. So a long-cherished ideal was hopelessly shattered,
which is always a melancholy thing.

We are all slaves to the economic conditions under which we live, and
the present exorbitant price of paper is a very potent factor in the
making of books. I am warned by my heartless publishers that I have
already exceeded my limits. There are many things in India of which I
would speak: of big-game hunts in Assam; of near views of the mighty
snows of the Himalayas; of jugglers and their tricks, and of certain
unfamiliar aspects of native life. The telling of these must be
reserved for another occasion, for it is impossible in the brief
compass of a single chapter to do more than touch the surface of things
in the vast Empire, the origin of whose history is lost in the mists of
time.



CHAPTER XI


Matters left untold--The results of improved communications--My
father's journey to Naples--Modern stereotyped uniformity--Changes in
customs--The faithful family retainer Some details--Samuel Pepys'
stupendous banquets--Persistence of idea--Ceremonial
incense--Patriarchal family life--The barn dances--My father's
habits--My mother--A son's tribute--Autumn days--Conclusion.


I had hoped to tell of reef-fishing in the West Indies; of surf-riding
on planks at Muizenberg in South Africa; of the extreme inconvenience
to which the inhabitants of Southern China are subjected owing to the
inconsiderate habits of their local devils; of sapphire seas where
coco-nut palms toss their fronds in the Trade wind over gleaming-white
coral beaches; of vast frozen tracts in the Far North where all animate
life seems suspended; of Japanese villages clinging to green hill-sides
where boiling springs gush out of the cliffs in clouds of steam, and of
many other things besides, for it has been my good fortune to have seen
most of the surface of this globe. But all these must wait until the
present preposterous price of paper has descended to more normal levels.

I consider myself exceptionally fortunate in having lived at a time
when modern conveniences of transport were already in existence, but
had not yet produced their inevitable results. It is quite sufficiently
obvious that national customs and national peculiarities are being
smoothed out of existence by facilities of travel. My father and
mother, early in their married life, drove from London to Naples in
their own carriage, the journey occupying over a month. They left their
own front door in London, had their carriage placed on the deck of the
Channel steamer, sat in it during the passage (what a singularly
uncomfortable resting-place it must have been should they have
encountered bad weather!), and continued their journey on the other
side. During their leisurely progress through France and Italy, they
must have enjoyed opportunities of studying the real life of these
countries which are denied the passengers in a rapide, jammed in
amongst a cosmopolitan crew in the prosaic atmosphere of dining and
sleeping cars, and scarcely bestowing a passing glance on the country
through which they are being whirled. Even in my time I have seen
marked changes, and have witnessed the gradual disappearance of
national costumes, and of national types of architecture. Every capital
in Europe seems to adopt in its modern buildings a standardised type of
architecture. No sojourner in any of the big modern hotels, which bear
such a wearisome family likeness to each other, could tell in which
particular country he might happen to find himself, were it not for the
scraps of conversation which reach his ears, for the externals all look
alike, and even the cooking has, with a greater or less degree of
success, been standardised to the requisite note of monotony.
Travellers may be divided into two categories: those who wish to find
on foreign soil the identical conditions to which they have been
accustomed at home, and those searching for novelty of outlook and
novelty of surroundings. The former will welcome the process of planing
down national idiosyncrasies into one dead level of uniformity of type,
the latter will deplore it; but this, like many other things, is a
matter of individual taste.

The ousting of the splendid full-rigged ships by stumpy, unlovely
tramp-steamers in the Hooghly River, to which I have already referred,
is only one example of the universal disappearance of the picturesque.
In twenty-five years' time, every one will be living in a
drab-coloured, utilitarian world, from which most of the beauty and
every scrap of local colour will have been successfully eliminated. I
am lucky in having seen some of it.

I have also witnessed great changes in social habits. I do not refer so
much to the removal of the rigid lines of demarcation formerly
prevailing in English Society, as to the disappearance of certain
accepted standards. For instance, in my young days the possibility of
appearing in Piccadilly in anything but a high hat and a tail coat was
unthinkable, as was the idea of sitting down to dinner in anything but
a white tie. Modern usage has common sense distinctly on its side.
Again, in my youth the old drinking customs lingered, especially at the
Universities. Though personally I have never been able to extract the
faintest gratification from the undue consumption of alcohol, my
friends do not seem to have invariably shared my tastes. I am certain
of one thing: it is to the cigarette that the temperate habits of the
twentieth century are due. Nicotine knocked port and claret out in the
second round. The acclimatisation of the cigarette in England only
dates from the "seventies." As a child I remember that the only form of
tobacco indulged in by the people that I knew was the cigar. A
cigarette was considered an effeminate foreign importation; a pipe was
unspeakably vulgar.

In my mother's young days before her marriage, the old hard-drinking
habits of the Regency and of the eighteenth century still persisted. At
Woburn Abbey it was the custom for the trusted old family butler to
make his nightly report to my grandmother in the drawing-room. "The
gentlemen have had a good deal to-night; it might be as well for the
young ladies to retire," or "The gentlemen have had very little
to-night," was announced according to circumstances by this faithful
family retainer. Should the young girls be packed off upstairs, they
liked standing on an upper gallery of the staircase to watch the
shouting, riotous crowd issuing from the dining-room. My father very
rarely touched wine, and I believe that it was the fact that he, then
an Oxford undergraduate, was the only sober young man amongst the rowdy
troop of roysterers that first drew my mother to him, though he had
already proposed marriage to her at a children's party given by the
Prince Regent at Carlton House, when they were respectively seven and
six years old. My father had succeeded to the title at the age of six,
and they were married as soon as he came of age. They lived to
celebrate their golden wedding, which two of my sisters, the late
Duchess of Buccleuch and Lady Lansdowne, were also fortunate enough to
do, and I can say with perfect truth that in all three instances my
mother and her daughters celebrated fifty years of perfect happiness,
unclouded save for the gaps which death had made amongst their children.

Students of Pepys' Diary must have gasped with amazement at learning of
the prodigious quantities of food considered necessary in the
seventeenth century for a dinner of a dozen people. Samuel Pepys gives
us several accounts of his entertainments, varying, with a nice sense
of discrimination, the epithet with which he labels his dinners. Here
is one which he gave to ten people, in 1660, which he proudly terms "a
very fine dinner." "A dish of marrow-bones; a leg of mutton; a loin of
veal; a dish of fowl; three pullets, and two dozen of larks, all in a
dish; a great tart; a neat's tongue; a dish of anchovies; a dish of
prawns, and cheese." On another occasion, in 1662, Pepys having four
guests only, merely gave them what he modestly describes as "a pretty
dinner." "A brace of stewed carps; six roasted chickens; a jowl of
salmon; a tanzy; two neats' tongues, and cheese." For six distinguished
guests in 1663 he provided "a noble dinner." (I like this careful
grading of epithets.) "Oysters; a hash of rabbits; a lamb, and a rare
chine of beef, Next a great dish of roasted fowl cost me about thirty
shillings; a tart, fruit and cheese." Pepys anxiously hopes that this
was enough! One is pleased to learn that on all three occasions his
guests enjoyed themselves, and that they were "very merry," but however
did they manage to hold one quarter of this prodigious amount of food?

The curious idea that hospitality entailed the proffering of four times
the amount of food that an average person could assimilate, persisted
throughout the eighteenth century and well into the "seventies" of the
nineteenth century. I remember as a child, on the rare occasion when I
was allowed to "sit up" for dinner, how interminable that repast
seemed. That may have been due to the fact that my brother and I were
forbidden to eat anything except a biscuit or two. The idea that human
beings required perpetual nourishment was so deep-grounded that, to the
end of my father's life, the "wine and water tray" was brought in
nightly before the ladies went to bed. This tray contained port, sherry
and claret, a silver kettle of hot water, sugar, lemons and nutmeg, as
well as two large plates of sandwiches. All the ladies devoured wholly
superfluous sandwiches, and took a glass of wine and hot water before
retiring. I think people would be surprised to find how excellent a
beverage the obsolete "negus" is. Let them try a glass of either port,
sherry, or claret, with hot water, sugar, a squeeze of lemon, and a
dusting of nutmeg, and I think that they will agree with me.

A custom, I believe, peculiar to our family, was the burning of church
incense in the rooms after dinner. At the conclusion of dinner, the
groom-of-the-chambers walked round the dining-room, solemnly swinging a
large silver censer. This dignified thurifer then made the circuit of
the other rooms, plying his censer. From the conscientious manner in
which he fulfilled his task, I fear that an Ecclesiastical Court might
have found that this came under the heading of "incense used
ceremonially."

My father had one peculiarity; he never altered his manner of living,
whether the house was full of visitors, or he were alone with my
mother, after his children had married and left him. At Baron's Court,
when quite by themselves, they used the large rooms, and had them all
lighted up at night, exactly as though the house was full of guests.
There was to my mind something very touching in seeing an aged couple,
after more than fifty years of married life together, still preserving
the affectionate relations of lovers with each other. They played their
chess together nightly in a room ninety-eight feet long, and delighted
in still singing together, in the quavering tones of old age, the
simple little Italian duets that they had sung in the far-off days of
their courtship. As his years increased, my father did not care to
venture much beyond the circle of his own family, though as thirteen of
his children had grown up, and he had seven married daughters, the two
elder of whom had each thirteen children of her own, the number of his
immediate descendants afforded him a fairly wide field of selection. In
his old age he liked to have his five sons round him all the winter,
together with their wives and children. Accordingly, every October my
three married brothers arrived at Baron's Court with their entire
families, and remained there till January, so that the house
persistently rang with children's laughter. What with governesses,
children, nurses and servants, this meant thirty-three extra people all
through the winter, so it was fortunate that Baron's Court was a large
house, and that there was plenty of room left for other visitors. It
entailed no great hardship on the sons, for the autumn salmon-fishing
in the turbulent Mourne is excellent, there was abundance of shooting,
and M. Gouffe, the cook, was a noted artist.

Both my father and mother detested publicity, or anything in the nature
of self-advertisement, which only shows how hopelessly out of touch
they would have been with modern conditions.

My father was also old-fashioned enough to read family prayers every
morning and every Sunday evening; he was very particular, too, about
Sunday observance, now almost fallen into desuetude, so neither the
thud of lawn-tennis racquets nor the click of billiard-balls were ever
heard on that day, and no one would have dreamed of playing cards on
Sunday.

It would be difficult to convey any idea of the pleasant family life in
that isolated spot tucked away amongst the Tyrone mountains; of the
long tramps over the bogs after duck and snipe; of the struggles with
big salmon; of the sailing-matches on the lakes; of the grouse and the
woodcocks; of the theatrical performances, the fun and jollity, and all
the varied incidents which make country life so fascinating to those
brought up to it.

It was the custom at Baron's Court to have two annual dances in the
barn to celebrate "Harvest Home" and Christmas, and to these dances my
father, and my brother after him, invited every single person in their
employ, and all the neighbouring farmers and their wives. Any one
hoping to shine at a barn-dance required exceptionally sound muscles,
for the dancing was quite a serious business. The so-called barn was
really a long granary, elaborately decorated with wreaths of
evergreens, flags, and mottoes. The proceedings invariably commenced
with a dance (peculiar, I think, to the north of Ireland) known as
"Haste to the Wedding." It is a country dance, but its peculiarity lies
in the fact that instead of the couples standing motionless opposite to
one another, they are expected to "set to each other," and to keep on
doing steps without intermission; all this being, I imagine, typical of
the intense eagerness every one was supposed to express to reach the
scene of the wedding festivities as quickly as possible. Twenty minutes
of "Haste to the Wedding" are warranted to exhaust the stoutest
leg-muscles. My mother always led off with the farm-bailiff as partner,
my father at the other end dancing with the bailiff's wife. Both my
father, and my brother after him, were very careful always to wear
their Garter as well as their other Orders on these occasions, in order
to show respect to their guests. Scotch reels and Irish jigs alternated
with "The Triumph," "Flowers of Edinburgh," and other country dances,
until feet and legs refused their office; and still the fiddles
scraped, and feet, light or heavy, belaboured the floor till 6 a.m. The
supper would hardly have come up to London standards, for instead of
light airy nothings, huge joints of roast and boiled were aligned down
the tables. Some of the stricter Presbyterians, though fond of a dance,
experienced conscientious qualms about it. So they struck an ingenious
compromise with their consciences by dancing vigorously whilst assuming
an air of intense misery, as though they were undergoing some terrible
penance. Every one present enjoyed these barn-dances enormously.

My father was an admirable speaker of the old-fashioned school, with
calculated pauses, an unusual felicity in the choice of his epithets,
and a considerable amount of gesticulation. The veteran Lord Chaplin is
the last living exponent of this type of oratory. Although my father
prepared his speeches very carefully indeed, he never made a single
written note. He had a beautiful speaking voice and a prodigious
memory; this memory, he knew from experience, would not fail him. An
excellent shot himself both with gun and rifle, and a good fisherman,
to the end of his life he maintained his interest in sport and in all
the pursuits of the younger life around him, for he was very human.

It is difficult for a son to write impartially of his mother. My
mother's character was a blend of extreme simplicity and great dignity,
with a limitless gift of sympathy for others. I can say with perfect
truth that, throughout her life, she succeeded in winning the deep love
of all those who were brought into constant contact with her. Very
early in life she fell under the influence of the Evangelical movement,
which was then stirring England to its depths, and she throughout her
days remained faithful to its tenets. It could be said of her that,
though, in the world, she was not of the world. Owing to force of
circumstances, she had at times to take her position in the world, and
no one could do it with greater dignity, or more winning grace; but the
atmosphere of London, both physical and social, was distasteful to her.
She had an idea that the smoke-laden London air affected her lungs,
and, apart from the pleasure of seeing the survivors of the very
intimate circle of friends of her young days, London had few
attractions for her; all her interests were centred in the country, in
country people, and country things. Although deeply religious, her
religion had no gloom about it, for her inextinguishable love of a
joke, and irrepressible sense of fun, remained with her to the end of
her life, and kept her young in spite of her ninety-three years. From
the commencement of her married life, my mother had been in the habit
of "visiting" in the village twice a week, and in every cottage she was
welcomed as a friend, for in addition to her gift of sympathy, she had
a memory almost as tenacious as my father's, and remembered the names
of every one of the cottagers' children, knew where they were employed,
and whom they had married. With the help of her maid, my mother used to
compound a cordial, bottles of which she distributed amongst the
cottagers, a cordial which gained an immense local reputation. The
ingredients of this panacea were one part of strong iron-water to five
parts of old whisky, to which sal-volatile, red lavender, cardamoms,
ginger, and other warming drugs were added. "Her Grace's bottle," as it
was invariably termed, achieved astonishing popularity, and the most
marvellous cures were ascribed to it. I have sometimes wondered whether
its vogue would have been as great had the whisky been eliminated from
its composition. In her home under the Sussex downs, amidst the broad
stretches of heather-clad common, the beautiful Tudor stone-built old
farm-houses, and the undulating woodlands of that most lovable and
typically English county, she continued, to the end of her life,
visiting amongst her less fortunate neighbours, and finding friends in
every house. Her immense vitality and power of entering into the
sorrows and enjoyments of others, led at times to developments very
unexpected in the case of one so aged. For instance, a small
great-nephew of mine had had a pair of stilts given him. The boy was
clumsy at learning to use them, and my mother, who in her youth, could
perform every species of trick upon stilts, was discovered by her
trained nurse mounted on stilts and perambulating the garden on them,
in her eighty-sixth year, for the better instruction of her little
great-grandson. Again, during a great rat-hunt we had organised, the
nurse missed her ninety-year-old charge, to discover her later, in
company with the stable-boy, behind a barn, both of them armed with
sticks, intently watching a rat-hole into which the stable-boy had just
inserted a ferret.

My mother travelled up to London on one occasion to consult a
celebrated oculist, and confided to him that she was growing
apprehensive about her eyesight, as she began to find it difficult to
read small print by lamplight. The man of Harley Street, after a
careful examination of his patient's eyes, asked whether he might
inquire what her age was. On receiving the reply that she had been
ninety on her last birthday, the specialist assured her that his
experience led him to believe that cases of failing eyesight were by no
means unusual at that age.

My mother had known all the great characters that had flitted across
the European stage at the beginning of the nineteenth century:
Talleyrand, Metternich, the great Duke of Wellington, and many others.
With her wonderful memory, she was a treasure-house of anecdotes of
these and other well-known personages, which she narrated with all the
skill of the born reconteuse. She belonged, too, to an age in which
letter-writing was cultivated as an art, and was regarded as an
intellectual relaxation. At the time of her death she had one hundred
and sixty-nine direct living descendants: children, grandchildren,
great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren, in addition to
thirty-seven grandchildren and great-grandchildren by marriage. She
kept in touch with all her descendants by habitually corresponding with
them, and the advice given by this shrewd, wise old counsellor, with
her ninety years of experience, was invariably followed by its
recipients. She made a point of travelling to London to attend the
weddings of every one of her descendants, and even journeyed up to be
present at the Coronation of King Edward in her ninetieth year. It is
given to but few to see their GRANDSON'S GRANDSON; it is granted to
fewer to live ninety-three years with the full use of every
intellectual faculty, and the retention of but slightly impaired bodily
powers; and seldom is it possible to live to so great an age with the
powers of enjoyment and of unabated interest in the lives of others
still retained.

She never returned to Ireland after her widowhood, but was able, up to
the end of her life, to pay a yearly autumn visit to her beloved
Scotland. And so, under the rolling Sussex downs, amidst familiar
woodlands and villages, full of years, and surrounded by the lore of
all those who knew her, the long day closed.

I think that there is a passage in the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs
which says: "Her children rise up and call her blessed."

I have reached my appointed limits, leaving unsaid one-half of the
things I had wished to narrate. Reminiscences come crowding in
unbidden, and, like the flickering lights of the Will-o'-the-wisp, they
tend to lead the wayfarer far astray from the path he had originally
traced out for himself. "Jack-o'-lanthorn" is proverbially a fickle
guide to follow, and should I have succumbed to his lure, I can only
proffer my excuses, and plead in extenuation that sixty years is such a
long road to re-travel that an occasional deviation into a by-path by
elderly feet may perhaps be forgiven.

Charles Kingsley, in the "Water-Babies", has put some very touching
lines into the mouth of the old school-dame in Vendale, lines which
come home with pathetic force to persons of my time of life.

    "When all the world is young, lad,
    And all the trees are green;
    And every goose a swan, lad,
    And every lass a queen;
    Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
    And round the world away;
    Young blood must have its course, lad
    And every dog his day.

    "When all the world is old, lad,
    And all the trees are brown;
    And all the sport is stale, lad,
    And all the wheels run down;
    Creep home, and take your place there,
    The old and spent among:
    God grant you find one face there
    You loved when all was young."

I protest indignantly against the idea that all the wheels are run
down; nor are the trees yet brown, for kindly autumn, to soften us to
the inevitable passing of summer, touches the trees with her magic
wand, and forthwith they blaze with crimson and russet-gold, pale-gold
and flaming copper-red.

In the mellow golden sunshine of the still October days it is sometimes
difficult to realise that the glory of the year has passed beyond
recall, though the sunshine has no longer the genial warmth of July,
and the more delicate flowers are already shrivelled by the first
furtive touches of winter's finger-tips. Experience has taught us that
the many-hued glory of autumn is short-lived; the faintest breeze
brings the leaves fluttering to the ground in golden showers. Soon the
few that remain will patter gently down to earth, their mother. Winter
comes.





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