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´╗┐Title: Margot Asquith, an Autobiography - Two Volumes in One
Author: Asquith, Margot
Language: English
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What? Have you not received powers, to the limits of which you
will bear all that befalls? Have you not received magnanimity?
Have you not received courage? Have you not received endurance?--


When I began this book I feared that its merit would depend upon
how faithfully I could record my own impressions of people and
events: when I had finished it I was certain of it. Had it been
any other kind of book the judgment of those nearest me would have
been invaluable, but, being what it is, it had to be entirely my
own; since whoever writes as he speaks must take the whole
responsibility, and to ask "Do you think I may say this?" or
"write that?" is to shift a little of that responsibility on to
someone else. This I could not bear to do, above all in the case
of my husband, who sees these recollections for the first time
now. My only literary asset is natural directness, and that
faculty would have been paralysed if I thought anything that I
have written here would implicate him. I would rather have made a
hundred blunders of style or discretion than seem, even to myself,
let alone the world at large, to have done that.

Unlike many memoirists, the list of people I have to thank in this
preface is short: Lord Crewe and Mr. Texeira de Mattos--who alone
saw my MS. before its completion--for their careful criticisms
which in no way committed them to approving of all that I have
written; Mr. Desmond MacCarthy, for valuable suggestions; and my
typist, Miss Lea, for her silence and quickness.

There are not many then of whom I can truly say, "Without their
approval and encouragement this book would never have been
written"--but those who really love me will forgive me and know
that what I owe them is deeper than thanks.







































"Prudence is a rich, ugly old maid wooed by incapacity."--Blake.



I was born in the country of Hogg and Scott between the Yarrow and
the Tweed, in the year 1864.

I am one of twelve children, but I only knew eight, as the others
died when I was young. My eldest sister Pauline--or Posie, as we
called her--was born in 1855 and married on my tenth birthday one
of the best of men, Thomas Gordon Duff. [Footnote: Thomas Gordon
Duff, of Drummuir Castle, Keith.] She died of tuberculosis, the
cruel disease by which my family have all been pursued. We were
too different in age and temperament to be really intimate, but
her goodness, patience and pluck made a deep impression on me.

My second sister, Charlotte, was born in 1858 and married, when I
was thirteen, the present Lord Ribblesdale, in 1877. She was the
only member of the family--except my brother Edward Glenconner--
who was tall. My mother attributed this--and her good looks--to
her wet-nurse, Janet Mercer, a mill-girl at Innerleithen, noted
for her height and beauty. Charty--as we called her--was in some
ways the most capable of us all, but she had not Laura's genius,
Lucy's talents, nor my understanding. She had wonderful grace and
less vanity than any one that ever lived; and her social courage
was a perpetual joy. I heard her say to the late Lord Rothschild,
one night at a dinner party:

"And do you still believe the Messiah is coming, Lord Natty?"

Once when her husband went to make a political speech in the
country, she telegraphed to him:

"Mind you hit below the belt!"

She was full of nature and impulse, free, enterprising and
unconcerned. She rode as well as I did, but was not so quick to
hounds nor so conscious of what was going on all round her.

One day when the Rifle Brigade was quartered at Winchester,
Ribblesdale--who was a captain--sent Charty out hunting with old
Tubb, the famous dealer, from whom he had hired her mount. As he
could not accompany her himself, he was anxious to know how her
ladyship had got on; the old rascal-wanting to sell his horse--
raised his eyes to heaven and gasped:

"Hornamental palings! My lord!!"

It was difficult to find a better-looking couple than Charty and
Ribblesdale; I have often observed people following them in
picture-galleries; and their photographs appeared in many of the
London shop-windows.

My next sister, Lucy, [Footnote: Mrs. Graham Smith, of Easton
Grey, Malmesbury.] was the most talented and the best educated of
the family. She fell between two stools in her youth, because
Charty and Posie were of an age to be companions and Laura and I;
consequently she did not enjoy the happy childhood that we did and
was mishandled by the authorities both in the nursery and the
schoolroom. When I was thirteen she made a foolish engagement, so
that our real intimacy only began after her marriage. She was my
mother's favourite child--which none of us resented--and, although
like my father in hospitality, courage and generous giving, she
had my mother's stubborn modesty and delicacy of mind. Her fear of
hurting the feelings of others was so great that she did not tell
people what she was thinking; she was truthful but not candid. Her
drawings--both in pastel and water-colour--her portraits,
landscapes and interiors were further removed from amateur work
than Laura's piano-playing or my dancing; and, had she put her
wares into the market, as we all wanted her to do years ago, she
would have been a rich woman, but like all saints she was
uninfluenceable. I owe her too much to write about her: tormented
by pain and crippled by arthritis, she has shown a heroism and
gaiety which command the love and respect of all who meet her.

Of my other sister, Laura, I will write later.

The boys of the family were different from the girls, though they
all had charm and an excellent sense of humour. My mother said the
difference between her boys and girls came from circulation, and
would add, "The Winsloes always had cold feet"; but I think it lay
in temper and temperament. They would have been less apprehensive
and more serene if they had been brought up to some settled
profession; and they were quite clever enough to do most things

My brother Jack [Footnote: The Right Hon. H. J. Tennant] was
petted and mismanaged in his youth. He had a good figure, but his
height was arrested by his being allowed, when he was a little
fellow, to walk twelve to fifteen miles a day with the shooters;
and, however tired he would be, he was taken out of bed to play
billiards after dinner. Leather footstools were placed one on the
top of the other by a proud papa and the company made to watch
this lovely little boy score big breaks; excited and exhausted, he
would go to bed long after midnight, with praises singing in his

"You are more like lions than sisters!" he said one day in the
nursery when we snubbed him.

In making him his Parliamentary Secretary, my husband gave him his
first chance; and in spite of his early training and teasing he
turned his life to good account.

In the terrible years 1914, 1915 and 1916, he was Under-Secretary
for War to the late Lord Kitchener and was finally made Secretary
for Scotland, with a seat in the Cabinet. Like every Tennant, he
had tenderness and powers of emotion and showed much affection and
generosity to his family. He was a fine sportsman with an
exceptionally good eye for games.

My brother Frank [Footnote: Francis Tennant, of Innes.] was the
artist among the boys. He had a perfect ear for music and eye for
colour and could distinguish what was beautiful in everything he
saw. He had the sweetest temper of any of us and the most

In his youth he had a horrible tutor who showed him a great deal
of cruelty; and this retarded his development. One day at Glen, I
saw this man knock Frank down. Furious and indignant, I said, "You
brute!" and hit him over the head with both my fists. After he had
boxed my ears, Laura protested, saying she would tell my father,
whereupon he toppled her over on the floor and left the room.

When I think of our violent teachers--both tutors and governesses
--and what the brothers learnt at Eton, I am surprised that we knew
as much as we did and my parents' helplessness bewilders me.

My eldest brother, Eddy, [Footnote: Lord Glenconner, of Glen,
Innerleithen.] though very different from me in temperament and
outlook, was the one with whom I got on best. We were both
devoured by impatience and punctuality and loved being alone in
the country. He hated visiting, I enjoyed it; he detested society
and I delighted in it. My mother was not strong enough to take me
to balls; and as she was sixty-three the year I came out, Eddy was
by way of chaperoning me, but I can never remember him bringing me
back from a single party. We each had our latch-keys and I went
home either by myself or with a partner.

We shared a secret and passionate love for our home, Glen, and
knew every clump of heather and every birch and burn in the place.
Herbert Gladstone told me that, one day in India, when he and Eddy
after a long day's shooting were resting in silence on the ground,
he said to him:

"What are you thinking about, Eddy?"

To which he answered:

"Oh, always the same ... Glen! ..."

In all the nine years during which he and I lived there together,
in spite of our mutual irascibility of temper and uneven spirits,
we never had a quarrel. Whether we joined each other on the moor
at the far shepherd's cottage or waited for grouse upon the hill;
whether we lunched on the Quair or fished on the Tweed, we have a
thousand common memories to keep our hearts together.

My father [Footnote: Sir Charles Tennant, 1823-1906.] was a man
whose vitality, irritability, energy and impressionability
amounted to genius.

When he died, June 2nd, 1906, I wrote this in my diary:

"I was sitting in Elizabeth's [Footnote: My daughter, Elizabeth
Bibesco.] schoolroom at Littlestone yesterday--Whit-Monday--after
hearing her recite Tartuffe at 7 p.m., when James gave me a
telegram; it was from my stepmother:

"'Your father passed away peacefully at five this afternoon.'

"I covered my face with my hands and went to find my husband. My
father had been ill for some time, but, having had a letter from
him that morning, the news gave me a shock.

"Poor little Elizabeth was terribly upset at my unhappiness; and I
was moved to the heart by her saying with tear-filled eyes and a
white face:

"'Darling mother, he had a VERY happy life and is very happy now
... he will ALWAYS be happy.'

"This was true. ... He had been and always will be happy, because
my father's nature turned out no waste product: he had none of
that useless stuff in him that lies in heaps near factories. He
took his own happiness with him, and was self-centred and self-
sufficing: for a sociable being, the most self-sufficing I have
ever known; I can think of no one of such vitality who was so
independent of other people; he could golf alone, play billiards
alone, walk alone, shoot alone, fish alone, do everything alone;
and yet he was dependent on both my mother and my stepmother and
on all occasions loved simple playfellows. ... Some one to carry
his clubs, or to wander round the garden with, would make him
perfectly happy. It was at these times, I think, that my father
was at his sweetest. Calm as a sky after showers, he would discuss
every topic with tenderness and interest and appeared to be
unupsettable; he had eternal youth, and was unaffected by a
financial world which had been spinning round him all day.

"The striking thing about him was his freedom from suspicion.
Thrown from his earliest days among common, shrewd men of
singularly unspiritual ideals--most of them not only on the make
but I might almost say on the pounce--he advanced on his own lines
rapidly and courageously, not at all secretively--almost
confidingly--yet he was rarely taken in.

"He knew his fellow-creatures better in the East-end than in the
West-end of London and had a talent for making men love him; he
swept them along on the impulse of his own decided intentions. He
was never too busy nor too prosperous to help the struggling and
was shocked by meanness or sharp practice, however successful.

"There were some people whom my father never understood, good,
generous and high-minded as he was: the fanatic with eyes turned
to no known order of things filled him with electric impatience;
he did not care for priests, poets or philosophers; anything like
indecision, change of plans, want of order, method or punctuality,
forgetfulness or carelessness--even hesitation of voice and
manner--drove him mad; his temperament was like a fuse which a
touch will explode, but the bomb did not kill, it hurt the
uninitiated but it consumed its own sparks. My papa had no self-
control, no possibility of learning it: it was an unknown science,
like geometry or algebra, to him; and he had very little
imagination. It was this combination--want of self-control and
want of imagination--which prevented him from being a thinker.

"He had great character, minute observation, a fine memory and all
his instincts were charged with almost superhuman vitality, but no
one could argue with him. Had the foundation of his character been
as unreasonable and unreliable as his temperament, he would have
made neither friends nor money; but he was fundamentally sound,
ultimately serene and high-minded in the truest sense of the word.
He was a man of intellect, but not an intellectual man; he did not
really know anything about the great writers or thinkers, although
he had read odds and ends. He was essentially a man of action and
a man of will; this is why I call him a man of intellect. He made
up his mind in a flash, partly from instinct and partly from will.

"He had the courage for life and the enterprise to spend his
fortune on it. He was kind and impulsively generous, but too hasty
for disease to accost or death to delay. For him they were
interruptions, not abiding sorrows.

"He knew nothing of rancour, remorse, regret; they conveyed much
the same to him as if he had been told to walk backwards and
received neither sympathy nor courtesy from him.

"He was an artist with the gift of admiration. He had a good eye
and could not buy an ugly or even moderately beautiful thing; but
he was no discoverer in art. Here I will add to make myself clear
that I am thinking of men like Frances Horner's father, old Mr.
Graham, [Footnote: Lady Horner, of Mells, Frome.] who discovered
and promoted Burne-Jones and Frederick Walker; or Lord Battersea,
who was the first to patronise Cecil Lawson; or my sister, Lucy
Graham Smith, who was a fine judge of every picture and recognised
and appreciated all schools of painting. My father's judgment was
warped by constantly comparing his own things with other people's.

"The pride of possession and proprietorship is a common and a
human one, but the real artist makes everything he admires his
own: no one can rob him of this; he sees value in unsigned
pictures and promise in unfinished ones; he not only discovers and
interprets, but almost creates beauty by the fire of his
criticisms and the inwardness of his preception. Papa was too
self-centred for this; a large side of art was hidden from him;
anything mysterious, suggestive, archaic, whether Italian, Spanish
or Dutch, frankly bored him. His feet were planted firmly on a
very healthy earth; he liked art to be a copy of nature, not of
art. The modern Burne-Jones and Morris school, with what he
considered its artificiality and affectations, he could not
endure. He did not realise that it originated in a reaction from
early-Victorianism and mid-Victorianism. He lost sight of much
that is beautiful in colour and fancy and all the drawing and
refinement of this school, by his violent prejudices. His opinions
were obsessions. Where he was original was not so much in his
pictures but in the mezzotints, silver, china and objets d'art
which he had collected for many years.

"Whatever he chose, whether it was a little owl, a dog, a nigger,
a bust, a Cupid in gold, bronze, china or enamel, it had to have
some human meaning, some recognisable expression which made it
lovable and familiar to him. He did not care for the fantastic,
the tortured or the ecclesiastical; saints, virgins, draperies and
crucifixes left him cold; but an old English chest, a stout little
chair or a healthy oriental bottle would appeal to him at once.

"No one enjoyed his own possessions more naively and
enthusiastically than my father; he would often take a candle and
walk round the pictures in his dressing-gown on his way to bed,
loitering over them with tenderness--I might almost say emotion.

"When I was alone with him, tucked up reading on a sofa, he would
send me upstairs to look at the Sir Joshuas: Lady Gertrude
Fitz-Patrick, Lady Crosbie or Miss Ridge.

"'She is quite beautiful to-night,' he would say. 'Just run up to
the drawing-room, Margot, and have a look at her.'

"It was not only his collections that he was proud of, but he was
proud of his children; we could all do things better than any one
else! Posie could sing, Lucy could draw, Laura could play, I could
ride, etc.; our praises were stuffed down newcomers' throats till
every one felt uncomfortable. I have no want of love to add to my
grief at his death, but I much regret my impatience and lack of
grace with him.

"He sometimes introduced me with emotional pride to the same man
or woman two or three times in one evening:

"'This is my little girl--very clever, etc., etc. Colonel
Kingscote says she goes harder across country than any one, etc.,

"This exasperated me. Turning to my mother in the thick of the
guests that had gathered in our house one evening to hear a
professional singer, he said at the top of his voice while the
lady was being conducted to the piano:

"'Don't bother, my dear, I think every one would prefer to hear
Posie sing.'

"I well remember Laura and myself being admonished by him on our
returning from a party at the Cyril Flowers' in the year 1883,
where we had been considerably run by dear Papa and twice
introduced to Lord Granville. We showed such irritability going
home in the brougham that my father said:

"'It's no pleasure taking you girls out.'

"This was the only time I ever heard him cross with me.

"He always told us not to frown and to speak clearly, just as my
mother scolded us for not holding ourselves up. I can never
remember seeing him indifferent, slack or idle in his life. He was
as violent when he was dying as when he was living and quite
without self-pity.

"He hated presents, but he liked praise and was easily flattered;
he was too busy even for MUCH of that, but he could stand more
than most of us. If it is a little simple, it is also rather
generous to believe in the nicest things people can say to you;
and I think I would rather accept too much than repudiate and
refuse: it is warmer and more enriching.

"My father had not the smallest conceit or smugness, but he had a
little child-like vanity. You could not spoil him nor improve him;
he remained egotistical, sound, sunny and unreasonable; violently
impatient, not at all self-indulgent--despising the very idea of a
valet or a secretary--but absolutely self-willed; what he intended
to do, say or buy, he would do, say or buy AT ONCE.

"He was fond of a few people--Mark Napier, [Footnote: The Hon.
Mark Napier, of Ettrick.] Ribblesdale, Lord Haldane, Mr.
Heseltine, Lord Rosebery and Arthur Balfour--and felt friendly to
everybody, but he did not LOVE many people. When we were girls he
told us we ought to make worldly marriages, but in the end he let
us choose the men we loved and gave us the material help in money
which enabled us to marry them. I find exactly the opposite plan
adopted by most parents: they sacrifice their children to loveless
marriages as long as they know there is enough money for no demand
ever to be made upon themselves.

"I think I understood my father better than the others did. I
guessed his mood in a moment and in consequence could push further
and say more to him when he was in a good humour. I lived with
him, my mother and Eddy alone for nine years (after my sister
Laura married) and had a closer personal experience of him. He
liked my adventurous nature. Ribblesdale's [Footnote: Lord
Ribblesdale, of Gisburne.] courtesy and sweetness delighted him
and they were genuinely fond of each other. He said once to me of

"'Tommy is one of the few people in the world that have shown me

I cannot pass my brother-in-law's name here in my diary without
some reference to the effect which he produced on us when he first
came to Glen.

He was the finest-looking man that I ever saw, except old Lord
Wemyss, [Footnote: The Earl of Wemyss and March, father of the
present Earl.] the late Lord Pembroke, Mr. Wilfrid Blunt and Lord
D'Abernon. He had been introduced to my sister Charty at a ball in
London, when he was twenty-one and she eighteen. A brother-officer
of his in the Rifle Brigade, seeing them waltzing together, asked
him if she was his sister, to which he answered:

"No, thank God!"

I was twelve when he first came to Glen as Thomas Lister: his fine
manners, perfect sense of humour and picturesque appearance
captivated every one; and, whether you agreed with him or not, he
had a perfectly original point of view and was always interested
and suggestive. He never misunderstood but thoroughly appreciated
my father. ...

Continuing from my diary:

"My papa was a character-part; and some people never understood

"None of his children are really like him; yet there are
resemblances which are interesting and worth noting.

"Charty on the whole resembles him most. She has his transparent
simplicity, candour, courage laid want of self-control; but she is
the least selfish woman I know and the least self-centred. She is
also more intolerant and merciless in her criticisms of other
people, and has a finer sense of humour. Papa loved things of good
report and never believed evil of any one. He had a rooted
objection to talking lightly of other people's lives; he was not
exactly reverent, but a feeling of kindly decent citizenship
prevented him from thinking or speaking slightingly of other

"Lucy has Papa's artistic and generous side, but none of his self-
confidence or decisiveness; all his physical courage, but none of
his ambition.

"Eddy has his figure and deportment, his sense of justice and
emotional tenderness, but none of his vitality, impulse or hope.
Jack has his ambition and push, keenness and self-confidence; but
he is not so good-humoured in a losing game. Frank has more of his
straight tongue and appreciation of beautiful things, but none of
his brains.

"I think I had more of Papa's moral indignation and daring than
the others; and physically there were great resemblances between
us: otherwise I do not think I am like him. I have his carriage,
balance and activity--being able to dance, skip and walk on a
rope--and I have inherited his hair and sleeplessness, nerves and
impatience; but intellectually we look at things from an entirely
different point of view. I am more passionate, more spiritually
perplexed and less self-satisfied. I have none of his powers of
throwing things off. I should like to think I have a little of his
generosity, humanity and kindly toleration, some of his
fundamental uprightness and integrity, but when everything has
been said he will remain a unique man in people's memory."

Writing now, fourteen years later, I do not think that I can add
much to this.

Although he was a business man, he had a wide understanding and
considerable elasticity.

In connection with business men, the staggering figures published
in the official White Book of November last year showed that the
result of including them in the Government has been so remarkable
that my memoir would be incomplete if I did not allude to them. My
father and grandfather were brought up among City people and I am
proud of it; but it is folly to suppose that starting and
developing a great business is the same as initiating and
conducting a great policy, or running a big Government Department.

It has been and will remain a puzzle over which intellectual men
are perpetually if not permanently groping:

"How comes it that Mr. Smith or Mr. Brown made such a vast

The answer is not easy. Making money requires FLAIR, instinct,
insight or whatever you like to call it, but the qualities that go
to make a business man are grotesquely unlike those which make a
statesman; and, when you have pretensions to both, the result is
the present comedy and confusion.

I write as the daughter of a business man and the wife of a
politician and I know what I am talking about, but, in case Mr.
Bonar Law--a pathetic believer in the "business man"--should
honour me by reading these pages and still cling to his illusions
on the subject, I refer him to the figures published in the
Government White Book of 1919.

Intellectual men seldom make fortunes and business men are seldom

My father was educated in Liverpool and worked in a night school;
he was a good linguist, which he would never have been had he had
the misfortune to be educated in any of our great public schools.

I remember some one telling me how my grandfather had said that he
could not understand any man of sense bringing his son up as a
gentleman. In those days as in these, gentlemen were found and not
made, but the expression "bringing a man up as a gentleman" meant
bringing him up to be idle.

When my father gambled in the City, he took risks with his own
rather than other people's money. I heard him say to a South
African millionaire:

"You did not make your money out of mines, but out of mugs like
me, my dear fellow!"

A whole chapter might be devoted to stories about his adventures
in speculation, but I will give only one. As a young man he was
put by my grandfather into a firm in Liverpool and made L30,000 on
the French Bourse before he was twenty-four. On hearing of this,
his father wrote and apologised to the head of the firm, saying he
was willing to withdraw his son Charles if he had in any way
shocked them by risking a loss which he could never have paid. The
answer was a request that the said "son Charles" should become a
partner in the firm.

Born a little quicker, more punctual and more alive than other
people, he suffered fools not at all. He could not modify himself
in any way; he was the same man in his nursery, his school and his
office, the same man in church, club, city or suburbs.

[Footnote: My mother, Emma Winsloe, came of quite a different
class from my father. His ancestor of earliest memory was factor
to Lord Bute, whose ploughman was Robert Burns, the poet. His
grandson was my grandfather Tennant of St. Rollox. My mother's
family were of gentle blood. Richard Winsloe (b. 1770, d. 1842)
was rector of Minster Forrabury in Cornwall and of Ruishton, near
Taunton. He married Catherine Walter, daughter of the founder of
the Times. Their son, Richard Winsloe, was sent to Oxford to study
for the Church. He ran away with Charlotte Monkton, aged 17. They
were caught at Evesham and brought back to be married next day at
Taunton, where Admiral Monkton was living. They had two children:
Emma, our mother, and Richard, my uncle.]

My mother was more unlike my father than can easily be imagined.
She was as timid, as he was bold, as controlled as he was
spontaneous and as refined, courteous and unassuming as he was
vibrant, sheer and adventurous.

Fond as we were of each other and intimate over all my love-
affairs, my mother never really understood me; my vitality,
independent happiness and physical energies filled her with
fatigue. She never enjoyed her prosperity and suffered from all
the apprehension, fussiness and love of economy that should by
rights belong to the poor, but by a curious perversion almost
always blight the rich.

Her preachings on economy were a constant source of amusement to
my father. I made up my mind at an early age, after listening to
his chaff, that money was the most overrated of all anxieties; and
not only has nothing occurred in my long experience to make me
alter this opinion but everything has tended to reinforce it.

In discussing matrimony my father would say:

"I'm sure I hope, girls, you'll not marry penniless men; men
should not marry at all unless they can keep their wives,' etc.

To this my mother would retort:

"Do not listen to your father, children! Marrying for money has
never yet made any one happy; it is not blessed."

Mamma had no illusions about her children nor about anything else;
her mild criticisms of the family balanced my father's obsessions.
When Charty's looks were praised, she would answer with a fine

"Tant soit peu mouton!"

She thought us all very plain, how plain I only discovered by
overhearing the following conversation.

I was seventeen and, a few days after my return from Dresden, I
was writing behind the drawing room screen in London, when an
elderly Scotch lady came to see my mother; she was shown into the
room by the footman and after shaking hands said:

"What a handsome house this is. ..."

MY MOTHER (IRRELEVANTLY): "I always think your place is so nice.
Did your garden do well this year?"

ELDERLY LADY: "Oh, I'm not a gardener and we spend very little
time at Auchnagarroch; I took Alison to the Hydro at Crieff for a
change. She's just a growing girl, you know, and not at all clever
like yours."

MY MOTHER: "My girls never grow! I am sure I wish they would!"

ELDERLY LADY: "But they are so pretty! My Marion has a homely

MY MOTHER: "How old is she?"

ELDERLY LADY: "Sixteen."

MY MOTHER: "L'AGE INGRAT! I would not trouble myself, if I were
you, about her looks; with young people one never can tell;
Margot, for instance (with a resigned sigh), a few years ago
promised to be so pretty; and just look at her now!"

When some one suggested that we should be painted it was almost
more than my mother could bear. The poorness of the subject and
the richness of the price shocked her profoundly. Luckily my
father--who had begun to buy fine pictures--entirely agreed with
her, though not for the same reasons:

"I am sure I don't know where I could hang the girls, even if I
were fool enough to have them painted!" he would say.

I cannot ever remember kissing my mother without her tapping me on
the back and saying, "Hold yourself up!" or kissing my father
without his saying, "Don't frown!" And I shall never cease being
grateful for this, as a l'heure qu'il est I have not a line in my
forehead and my figure has not changed since my marriage.

My mother's indifference to--I might almost say suspicion of--
other people always amused me:

"I am sure I don't know why they should come here! unless it is to
see the garden!" Or, "I cannot help wondering what was at the back
of her mind."

When I suggested that perhaps the lady she referred to had no
mind, my mother would say, "I don't like people with ARRIERE--
PENSEES"; and ended most of her criticisms by saying, "It looks to
me as if she had a poor circulation."

My mother had an excellent sense of humour. Doll Liddell
[Footnote: The late A.G.C. Lidell.] said: "Lucy has a touch of
mild genius." And this is exactly what my mother had.

People thought her a calm, serene person, satisfied with pinching
green flies off plants and incapable of deep feeling, but my
mother's heart had been broken by the death of her first four
children, and she dreaded emotion. Any attempt on my part to
discuss old days or her own sensations was resolutely discouraged.
There was a lot of fun and affection but a tepid intimacy between
us, except about my flirtations; and over these we saw eye to eye.

My mother, who had been a great flirt herself, thoroughly enjoyed
all love-affairs and was absolutely unshockable. Little words of
wisdom would drop from her mouth:

MY MOTHER: "Men don't like being run after ..."

MARGOT: "Oh, don't you believe it, mamma!"

MY MOTHER: "You can do what you like in life if you can hold your
tongue, but the world is relentless to people who are found out."

She told my father that if he interfered with my love-affairs I
should very likely marry a groom.

She did me a good turn here, for, though I would not have married
a groom, I might have married the wrong man and, in any case,
interference would have been cramping to me.

I have copied out of my diary what I wrote about my mother when
she died.

"January 21st, 1895.

"Mamma is dead. She died this morning and Glen isn't my home any
more: I feel as if I should be 'received' here in future, instead
of finding my own darling, tender little mother, who wanted
arranging for and caring for and to whom my gossipy trivialities
were precious and all my love-stories a trust. How I WISH I could
say sincerely that I had understood her nature and sympathised
with her and never felt hurt by anything she could say and had
EAGERLY shown my love and sought hers. ... Lucky Lucy! She CAN say
this, but I do not think that I can.

"Mamma's life and death have taught me several things. Her
sincerity and absence of vanity and worldliness were her really
striking qualities. Her power of suffering passively, without
letting any one into her secret, was carried to a fault. We who
longed to share some part, however small, of the burden of her
emotion were not allowed to do so. This reserve to the last hour
of her life remained her inexorable rule and habit. It arose from
a wish to spare other people and fear of herself and her own
feelings. To spare others was her ideal. Another characteristic
was her pity for the obscure, the dull and the poor. The postman
in winter ought to have fur-lined gloves; and we must send our
Christmas letters and parcels before or after the busy days. Lord
Napier's [Footnote: Lord Napier and Ettrick, father of Mark
Napier.] coachman had never seen a comet; she would write and tell
him what day it was prophesied. The lame girl at the lodge must be
picked up in the brougham and taken for a drive, etc. ...

"She despised any one who was afraid of infection and was
singularly ignorant on questions of health; she knew little or
nothing of medicine and never believed in doctors; she made an
exception of Sir James Simpson, who was her friend. She told me
that he had said there was a great deal of nonsense talked about
health and diet:

"'If the fire is low, it does not matter whether you stir it with
the poker or the tongs.'

"She believed firmly in cold water and thought that most illnesses
came from 'checked perspiration.'

"She loved happy people--people with courage and go and what she
called 'nature'--and said many good things. Of Mark Napier: 'He
had so much nature, I am sure he had a Neapolitan wet-nurse' (here
she was right). Of Charty: 'She has so much social courage.' Of
Aunt Marion [Footnote: My father's sister, Mrs. Wallace.]: 'She is
unfortunately inferior.' Of Lucy's early friends: 'Lucy's trumpery

"Mamma was not at all spiritual, nor had she much intellectual
imagination, but she believed firmly in God and was profoundly
sorry for those who did not. She was full of admiration for
religious people. Laura's prayer against high spirits she thought
so wonderful that she kept it in a book near her bed.

"She told me she had never had enough circulation to have good
spirits herself and that her old nurse often said:

"'No one should ever be surprised at anything they feel.'

"My mamma came of an unintellectual family and belonged to a
generation in which it was not the fashion to read. She had lived
in a small milieu most of her life, without the opportunity of
meeting distinguished people. She had great powers of observation
and a certain delicate acuteness of expression which identified
all she said with herself. She was fine-mouche and full of tender
humour, a woman of the world, but entirely bereft of worldliness.

"Her twelve children, who took up all her time, accounted for some
of her a quoi bon attitude towards life, but she had little or no
concentration and a feminine mind both in its purity and

"My mother hardly had one intimate friend and never allowed any
one to feel necessary to her. Most people thought her gentle to
docility and full of quiet composure. So much is this the general
impression that, out of nearly a hundred letters which I received,
there is not one that does not allude to her restful nature. As a
matter of fact, Mamma was one of the most restless creatures that
ever lived. She moved from room to room, table to table, and topic
to topic, not, it is true, with haste or fretfulness, but with no
concentration of either thought or purpose; and I never saw her
put up her feet in my life.

"Her want of confidence in herself and of grip upon life prevented
her from having the influence which her experience of the world
and real insight might have given her; and her want of expansion
prevented her own generation and discouraged ours from approaching
her closely.

"Few women have speculative minds nor can they deliberate: they
have instincts, quick apprehensions and powers of observation; but
they are seldom imaginative and neither their logic nor their
reason are their strong points. Mamma was in all these ways like
the rest of her sex.

"She had much affection for, but hardly any pride in her children.
Laura's genius was a phrase to her; and any praise of Charty's
looks or Lucy's successes she took as mere courtesy on the part of
the speaker. I can never remember her praising me, except to say
that I had social courage, nor did she ever encourage me to draw,
write or play the piano.

"She marked in a French translation of "The Imitation of Christ"
which Lucy gave her:

"'Certes au jour du jugement on ne nous demandera point ce que
nous avons lu, mais ce que nous avons fait; ni si nous avons bien
parle mais si nous avons bien vecu.'

"She was the least self-centred and self-scanned of human beings,
unworldly and uncomplaining. As Doll Liddell says in his admirable
letter to me, 'She was often wise and always gracious.'"



My home, Glen, is on the border of Peeblesshire and Selkirkshire,
sixteen miles from Abbotsford and thirty from Edinburgh. It was
designed on the lines of Glamis and Castle Fraser, in what is
called Scottish baronial style. I well remember the first shock I
had when some one said: "I hate turrets and tin men on the top of
them!" It unsettled me for days. I had never imagined that
anything could be more beautiful than Glen. The classical style of
Whittingehame--and other fine places of the sort--appeared to me
better suited for municipal buildings; the beams and flint in
Cheshire reminded me of Earl's Court; and such castles as I had
seen looked like the pictures of the Rhine on my blotting-book. I
was quite ignorant and "Scottish baronial" thrilled me.

What made Glen really unique was not its architecture but its
situation. The road by which you approached it was a cul-de-sac
and led to nothing but moors. This--and the fact of its being ten
miles from a railway station--gave it security in its wildness.
Great stretches of heather swept down to the garden walls; and,
however many heights you climbed, moor upon moor rose in front of

Evan Charteris [Footnote: The Hon. Evan Charteris] said that my
hair was biography: as it is my only claim to beauty, I would like
to think that this is true, but the hills at Glen are my real

Nature inoculates its lovers from its own culture; sea, downs and
moors produce a different type of person. Shepherds, fishermen and
poachers are a little like what they contemplate and, were it
possible to ask the towns to tell us whom they find most
untamable, I have not a doubt that they would say, those who are
born on the moors.

I married late--at the age of thirty--and spent all my early life
at Glen. I was a child of the heather and quite untamable. After
my sister Laura Lyttelton died, my brother Eddy and I lived alone
with my parents for nine years at Glen.

When he was abroad shooting big game, I spent long days out of
doors, seldom coming in for lunch. Both my pony and my hack were
saddled from 7 a.m., ready for me to ride, every day of my life. I
wore the shortest of tweed skirts, knickerbockers of the same
stuff, top-boots, a covert-coat and a coloured scarf round my
head. I was equipped with a book, pencils, cigarettes and food.
Every shepherd and poacher knew me; and I have often shared my
"piece" with them, sitting in the heather near the red burns, or
sheltered from rain in the cuts and quarries of the open road.

After my first great sorrow--the death of my sister Laura--I was
suffocated in the house and felt I had to be out of doors from
morning till night.

One day I saw an old shepherd called Gowanlock coming up to me,
holding my pony by the rein. I had never noticed that it had
strayed away and, after thanking him, I observed him looking at me
quietly--he knew something of the rage and anguish that Laura's
death had brought into my heart--and putting his hand on my
shoulder, he said:

"My child, there's no contending. ... Ay--ay"--shaking his
beautiful old head--"THAT IS SO, there's no contending. ..."

Another day, when it came on to rain, I saw a tramp crouching
under the dyke, holding an umbrella over his head and eating his
lunch. I went and sat down beside him and we fell into desultory
conversation. He had a grand, wild face and I felt some curiosity
about him; but he was taciturn and all he told me was that he was
walking to the Gordon Arms, on his way to St. Mary's Loch. I asked
him every sort of question--as to where he had come from, where he
was going to and what he wanted to do--but he refused to gratify
my curiosity, so I gave him one of my cigarettes and a light and
we sat peacefully smoking together in silence. When the rain
cleared, I turned to him and said:

"You seem to walk all day and go nowhere; when you wake up in the
morning, how do you shape your course?"

To which he answered:

"I always turn my back to the wind."

Border people are more intelligent than those born in the South;
and the people of my birthplace are a hundred years in advance of
the Southern English even now.

When I was fourteen, I met a shepherd-boy reading a French book.
It was called "Le Secret de Delphine." I asked him how he came to
know French and he told me it was the extra subject he had been
allowed to choose for studying in his holidays; he walked eighteen
miles a day to school--nine there and nine back--taking his
chance of a lift from any passing vehicle. I begged him to read
out loud to me, but he was shy of his accent and would not do it.
The Lowland Scotch were a wonderful people in my day.

I remember nothing unhappy in my glorious youth except the
violence of our family quarrels. Reckless waves of high and low
spirits, added to quick tempers, obliged my mother to separate us
for some time and forbid us to sleep in the same bedroom. We raged
and ragged till the small hours of the morning, which kept us thin
and the household awake.

My mother told me two stories of myself as a little child:

"When you were sent for to come downstairs, Margot, the nurse
opened the door and you walked in--generally alone--saying,
'Here's me! ...'"

This rather sanguine opening does not seem to have been
sufficiently checked. She went on to say:

"I was dreadfully afraid you would be upset and ill when I took
you one day to the Deaf and Dumb Asylum in Glasgow, as you felt
things with passionate intensity. Before starting I lifted you on
to my knee and said, 'You know, darling, I am going to take you to
see some poor people who cannot speak.' At which you put your arms
round my neck and said, with consoling emphasis, 'I will soon make
them speak!'"

The earliest event I can remember was the arrival of the new baby,
my brother Jack, when I was two years old. Dr. Cox was spoiling my
mother's good-night visit while I was being dried after my bath.
My pink flannel dressing-gown, with white buttonhole stitching,
was hanging over the fender; and he was discussing some earnest
subject in a low tone. He got up and, pinching my chin said:

"She will be very angry, but we will give her a baby of her own,"
or words to that effect.

The next day a huge doll obliterated from my mind the new baby
which had arrived that morning.

We were left very much alone in our nursery, as my mother
travelled from pillar to post, hunting for health for her child
Pauline. Our nurse, Mrs. Hills--called "Missuls" for short--left
us on my tenth birthday to become my sister's lady's-maid, and
this removed our first and last restriction.

We were wild children and, left to ourselves, had the time of our
lives. I rode my pony up the front stairs and tried to teach my
father's high-stepping barouche-horses to jump--crashing their
knees into the hurdles in the field--and climbed our incredibly
dangerous roof, sitting on the sweep's ladder by moonlight in my
nightgown. I had scrambled up every tree, walked on every wall and
knew every turret at Glen. I ran along the narrow ledges of the
slates in rubber shoes at terrific heights. This alarmed other
people so much that my father sent for me one day to see him in
his "business room" and made me swear before God that I would give
up walking on the roof; and give it up I did, with many tears.

Laura and I were fond of acting and dressing up. We played at
being found in dangerous and adventurous circumstances in the
garden. One day the boys were rabbit-shooting and we were acting
with the doctor's daughter. I had spoilt the game by running round
the kitchen-garden wall instead of being discovered--as I was
meant to be--in a Turkish turban, smoking on the banks of the
Bosphorus. Seeing that things were going badly and that the others
had disappeared, I took a wild jump into the radishes. On landing
I observed a strange gentleman coming up the path. He looked at my
torn gingham frock, naked legs, tennis shoes and dishevelled curls
under an orange turban; and I stood still and gazed at him.

"This is a wonderful place," he said; to which I replied:

"You like it?"

HE: "I would like to see the house. I hear there are beautiful
things in it."

MARGOT: "I think the drawing-rooms are all shut up."

HE: "How do you know? Surely you could manage to get hold of a
servant or some one who would take me round. Do you know any of

I asked him if he meant the family or the servants.

"The family," he said.

MARGOT: "I know them very well, but I don't know you."

"I am an artist," said the stranger; "my name is Peter Graham. Who
are you?"

"I am an artist too!" I said. "My name is Margot Tennant. I
suppose you thought I was the gardener's daughter, did you?"

He gave a circulating smile, finishing on my turban, and said:

"To tell you the honest truth, I had no idea what you were!"

My earliest sorrow was when I was stealing peaches in the
conservatory and my little dog was caught in a trap set for rats.
He was badly hurt before I could squeeze under the glass slides to
save him. I was betrayed by my screams for help and caught in the
peach-house by the gardener. I was punished and put to bed, as the
large peaches were to have been shown in Edinburgh and I had eaten

We had a dancing-class at the minister's and an arithmetic-class
in our schoolroom. I was as good at the Manse as I was bad at my
sums; and poor Mr. Menzies, the Traquair schoolmaster, had
eventually to beg my mother to withdraw me from the class, as I
kept them all back. To my delight I was withdrawn; and from that
day to this I have never added a single row of figures.

I showed a remarkable proficiency in dancing and could lift both
my feet to the level of my eyebrows with disconcerting ease. Mrs.
Wallace, the minister's wife, was shocked and said:

"Look at Margot with her Frenchified airs!"

I pondered often and long over this, the first remark about myself
that I can ever remember. Some one said to me:

"Does your hair curl naturally?"

To which I replied:

"I don't know, but I will ask."

I was unaware of myself and had not the slightest idea what
"curling naturally" meant.

We had two best dresses: one made in London, which we only wore on
great occasions; the other made by my nurse, in which we went down
to dessert. These dresses gave me my first impression of civilised
life. Just as the Speaker, before clearing the House, spies
strangers, so, when I saw my black velvet skirt and pink Garibaldi
put out on the bed, I knew that something was up! The nursery
confection was of white alpaca, piped with pink, and did not
inspire the same excitement and confidence.

We saw little of our mother in our youth and I asked Laura one day
if she thought she said her prayers; I would not have remembered
this had it not been that Laura was profoundly shocked. The
question was quite uncalled for and had no ulterior motive, but I
never remembered my mother or any one else talking to us about the
Bible or hearing us our prayers. Nevertheless we were all deeply
religious, by which no one need infer that we were good. There was
one service a week, held on Sundays, in Traquair Kirk, which every
one went to; and the shepherds' dogs kept close to their masters'
plaids, hung over the high box-pews, all the way down the aisle. I
have heard many fine sermons in Scotland, but our minister was not
a good preacher; and we were often dissolved in laughter, sitting
in the square family pew in the gallery. My father closed his eyes
tightly all through the sermon, leaning his head on his hand.

The Scottish Sabbath still held its own in my youth; and when I
heard that Ribblesdale and Charty played lawn tennis on Sunday
after they were married, I felt very unhappy. We had a few Sabbath
amusements, but they were not as entertaining as those described
in Miss Fowler's book, in which the men who were heathens went
into one corner of the room and the women who were Christians into
the other and, at the beating of a gong, conversion was
accomplished by a close embrace. Our Scottish Sabbaths were very
different, and I thought them more than dreary. Although I love
church music and architecture and can listen to almost any sermon
at any time and even read sermons to myself, going to church in
the country remains a sacrifice to me. The painful custom in the
Church of England of reading indistinctly and in an assumed voice
has alienated simple people in every parish; and the average
preaching is painful. In my country you can still hear a good
sermon. When staying with Lord Haldane's mother--the most
beautiful, humorous and saintly of old ladies--I heard an
excellent sermon at Auchterarder on this very subject, the
dullness of Sundays. The minister said that, however brightly the
sun shone on stained glass windows, no one could guess what they
were really like from the outside; it was from the inside only
that you should judge of them.

Another time I heard a man end his sermon by saying:

"And now, my friends, do your duty and don't look upon the world
with eyes jaundiced by religion."

My mother hardly ever mentioned religion to us and, when the
subject was brought up by other people, she confined her remarks
to saying in a weary voice and with a resigned sigh that God's
ways were mysterious. She had suffered many sorrows and, in
estimating her lack of temperament, I do not think I made enough
allowance for them. No true woman ever gets over the loss of a
child; and her three eldest had died before I was born.

I was the most vital of the family and what the nurses described
as a "venturesome child." Our coachman's wife called me "a little
Turk." Self-willed, excessively passionate, painfully truthful,
bold as well as fearless and always against convention, I was, no
doubt, extremely difficult to bring up.

My mother was not lucky with her governesses--we had two at a
time, and of every nationality, French, German, Swiss, Italian and
Greek--but, whether through my fault or our governesses', I never
succeeded in making one of them really love me. Mary Morison,
[Foot note: Miss Morison, a cousin of Mr. William Archer's.] who
kept a high school for young ladies in Innerleithen, was the first
person who influenced me and my sister Laura. She is alive now and
a woman of rare intellect and character. She was fonder of Laura
than of me, but so were most people.

Here I would like to say something about my sister and Alfred
Lyttelton, whom she married in 1885.

A great deal of nonsense has been written and talked about Laura.
There are two printed accounts of her that are true: one has been
written by the present Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton, in generous and
tender passages in the life of her husband, and the other by A. G.
C. Liddell; but even these do not quite give the brilliant, witty
Laura of my heart. I will quote what my dear friend, Doll Liddell,
wrote of her in his Notes from the Life of an Ordinary Mortal:

My acquaintance with Miss Tennant, which led to a close intimacy
with herself, and afterwards with her family, was an event of such
importance in my life that I feel I ought to attempt some
description of her. This is not an easy task, as a more
indescribable person never existed, for no one could form a
correct idea of what she was like who had not had opportunities of
feeling her personal charm. Her looks were certainly not striking
at first sight, though to most persons who had known her some
weeks she would often seem almost beautiful. To describe her
features would give no idea of the brightness and vivacity of her
expression, or of that mixture of innocence and mischief, as of a
half-child, half-Kelpie, which distinguished her. Her figure was
very small but well made, and she was always prettily and daintily
dressed. If the outward woman is difficult to describe, what can
be said of her character?

To begin with her lighter side, she had reduced fascination to a
fine art in a style entirely her own. I have never known her meet
any man, and hardly any woman, whom she could not subjugate in a
few days. It is as difficult to give any idea of her methods as to
describe a dance when the music is unheard. Perhaps one may say
that her special characteristic was the way in which she combined
the gaiety of a child with the tact and aplomb of a grown woman.
... Her victims, after their period of enchantment, generally
became her devoted friends.

This trifling was, however, only the ripple on the surface. In the
deeper parts of her nature was a fund of earnestness and a
sympathy which enabled her to throw herself into the lives of
other people in a quite unusual way, and was one of the great
secrets of the general affection she inspired. It was not,
however, as is sometimes the case with such feelings, merely
emotional, but impelled her to many kindnesses and to constant,
though perhaps somewhat impulsive, efforts to help her fellows of
all sorts and conditions.

On her mental side she certainly gave the impression, from the
originality of her letters and sayings, and her appreciation of
what was best in literature, that her gifts were of a high order.
In addition, she had a subtle humour and readiness, which made her
repartees often delightful and produced phrases and fancies of
characteristic daintiness. But there was something more than all
this, an extra dose of life, which caused a kind of electricity to
flash about her wherever she went, lighting up all with whom she
came in contact. I am aware that this description will seem
exaggerated, and will be put down to the writer having dwelt in
her "Aeaean isle" but I think that if it should meet the eyes of
any who knew her in her short life, they will understand what it
attempts to convey.

This is good, but his poem is even better; and there is a
prophetic touch in the line, "Shadowed with something of the
future years."

    A face upturned towards the midnight sky,
    Pale in the glimmer of the pale starlight,
    And all around the black and boundless night,
    And voices of the winds which bode and cry.
    A childish face, but grave with curves that lie
      Ready to breathe in laughter or in tears,
      Shadowed with something of the future years
    That makes one sorrowful, I know not why.
    O still, small face, like a white petal torn
      From a wild rose by autumn winds and flung
      On some dark stream the hurrying waves among:
    By what strange fates and whither art thou borne?

Laura had many poems written to her from many lovers. My daughter
Elizabeth Bibesco's godfather, Godfrey Webb--a conspicuous member
of the Souls, not long since dead--wrote this of her:


Tennyson's description of Laura in 1883:

    "Half child, half woman"--wholly to be loved
    By either name she found an easy way
    Into my heart, whose sentinels all proved
    Unfaithful to their trust, the luckless day
    She entered there. "Prudence and reason both!
    Did you not question her? How was it pray
    She so persuaded you?" "Nor sleep nor sloth,"
    They cried, "o'ercame us then, a CHILD at play
    Went smiling past us, and then turning round
    Too late your heart to save, a woman's face we found."

Laura was not a plaster saint; she was a generous, clamative,
combative little creature of genius, full of humour, imagination,
temperament and impulse.

Some one reading this memoir will perhaps say:

"I wonder what Laura and Margot were really like, what the
differences and what the resemblances between them were."

The men who could answer this question best would be Lord
Gladstone, Arthur Balfour, Lord Midleton, Sir Rennell Rodd, or
Lord Curzon (of Kedleston). I can only say what I think the
differences and resemblances were.

Strictly speaking, I was better-looking than Laura, but she had
rarer and more beautiful eyes. Brains are such a small part of
people that I cannot judge of them as between her and me; and, at
the age of twenty-three, when she died, few of us are at the
height of our powers, but Laura made and left a deeper impression
on the world in her short life than any one that I have ever
known. What she really had to a greater degree than other people
was true spirituality, a feeling of intimacy with the other world
and a sense of the love and wisdom of God and His plan of life.
Her mind was informed by true religion; and her heart was fixed.
This did not prevent her from being a very great flirt. The first
time that a man came to Glen and liked me better than Laura, she
was immensely surprised--not more so than I was--and had it not
been for the passionate love which we cherished for each other,
there must inevitably have been much jealousy between us.

On several occasions the same man proposed to both of us, and we
had to find out from each other what our intentions were.

I only remember being hurt by Laura on one occasion and it came
about in this way. We were always dressed alike, and as we were
the same size; "M" and "L" had to be written in our clothes as we
grew older.

One day, about the time of which I am writing, I was thirteen; I
took a letter out of the pocket of what I thought was my skirt and
read it; it was from Laura to my eldest sister Posie and, though I
do not remember it all, one sentence was burnt into me:

"Does it not seem extraordinary that Margot should be teaching a
Sunday class?"

I wondered why any one should think it extraordinary! I went
upstairs and cried in a small black cupboard, where I generally
disappeared when life seemed too much for me.

The Sunday class I taught need have disturbed no one, for I regret
to relate that, after a striking lesson on the birth of Christ,
when I asked my pupils who the Virgin was, one of the most
promising said:

"Queen Victoria!"

The idea had evidently gone abroad that I was a frivolous
character; this hurt and surprised me. Naughtiness and frivolity
are different, and I was always deeply in earnest.

Laura was more gentle than I was; and her goodness resolved itself
into greater activity.

She and I belonged to a reading-class. I read more than she did
and at greater speed, but we were all readers and profited by a
climate which kept us indoors and a fine library. The class
obliged us to read an hour a day, which could not be called
excessive, but the real test was doing the same thing at the same
time. I would have preferred three or four hours' reading on wet
days and none on fine, But not so our Edinburgh tutor.

Laura started the Girls' Friendly Society in the village, which
was at that time famous for its drunkenness and immorality. We
drove ourselves to the meetings in a high two-wheeled dog-cart
behind a fast trotter, coming back late in pitch darkness along
icy roads. These drives to Innerleithen and our moonlight talks
are among my most precious recollections.

At the meetings--after reading aloud to the girls while they sewed
and knitted--Laura would address them. She gave a sort of lesson,
moral, social and religious, and they all adored her. More
remarkable at her age than speaking to mill-girls were her Sunday
classes at Glen, in the housekeeper's room. I do not know one girl
now of any age--Laura was only sixteen--who could talk on
religious subjects with profit to the butler, housekeeper and
maids, or to any grown-up people, on a Sunday afternoon.

Compared with what the young men have written and published during
this war, Laura's literary promise was not great; both her prose
and her poetry were less remarkable than her conversation.

She was not so good a judge of character as I was and took many a
goose for a swan, but, in consequence of this, she made people of
both sexes--and even all ages--twice as good, clever and
delightful as they would otherwise have been.

I have never succeeded in making any one the least different from
what they are and, in my efforts to do so, have lost every female
friend that I have ever had (with the exception of four). This was
the true difference between us. I have never influenced anybody
but my own two children, Elizabeth and Anthony, but Laura had such
an amazing effect upon men and women that for years after she died
they told me that she had both changed and made their lives. This
is a tremendous saying. When I die, people may turn up and try to
make the world believe that I have influenced them and women may
come forward whom I adored and who have quarrelled with me and
pretend that they always loved me, but I wish to put it on record
that they did not, or, if they did, their love is not my kind of
love and I have no use for it.

The fact is that I am not touchy or impenitent myself and forget
that others may be and I tell people the truth about themselves,
while Laura made them feel it. I do not think I should mind
hearing from any one the naked truth about myself; and on the few
occasions when it has happened to me, I have not been in the least
offended. My chief complaint is that so few love one enough, as
one grows older, to say what they really think; nevertheless I
have often wished that I had been born with Laura's skill and tact
in dealing with men and women. In her short life she influenced
more people than I have done in over twice as many years. I have
never influenced people even enough to make them change their
stockings! And I have never succeeded in persuading any young
persons under my charge--except my own two children--to say that
they were wrong or sorry, nor at this time of life do I expect to
do so.

There was another difference between Laura and me: she felt sad
when she refused the men who proposed to her; I pitied no man who
loved me. I told Laura that both her lovers and mine had a very
good chance of getting over it, as they invariably declared
themselves too soon. We were neither of us au fond very
susceptible. It was the custom of the house that men should be in
love with us, but I can truly say that we gave quite as much as we

I said to Rowley Leigh [Footnote: The Hon. Rowland Leigh, of
Stoneleigh Abbey.]--a friend of my brother Eddy's and one of the
first gentlemen that ever came to Glen--when he begged me to go
for a walk with him:

"Certainly, if you won't ask me to marry you."

To which he replied:

"I never thought of it!"

"That's all right!" said I, putting my arm confidingly and
gratefully through his.

He told me afterwards that he had been making up his mind and
changing it for days as to how he should propose.

Sir David Tennant, a former Speaker at Cape Town and the most
distant of cousins, came to stay at Glen with his son, a young man
of twenty. After a few days, the young man took me into one of the
conservatories and asked me to marry him. I pointed out that I
hardly knew him by sight, and that "he was running hares." He took
it extremely well and, much elated, I returned to the house to
tell Laura. I found her in tears; she told me Sir David Tennant
had asked her to marry him and she had been obliged to refuse. I
cheered her up by pointing out that it would have been awkward had
we both accepted, for, while remaining my sister, she would have
become my mother-in-law and my husband's stepmother.

We were not popular in Peeblesshire, partly because we had no
county connection, but chiefly because we were Liberals. My father
had turned out the sitting Tory, Sir Graham Montgomery, of Stobo,
and was member for the two counties Peeblesshire and Selkirkshire.
As Sir Graham had represented the counties for thirty years, this
was resented by the Montgomery family, who proceeded to cut us.
Laura was much worried over this, but I was amused. I said the
love of the Maxwell Stuarts, Maxwell Scotts, Wolfe Murrays and Sir
Thomas--now Lord--Carmichael was quite enough for me and that if
she liked she could twist Sir Graham Montgomery round her little
finger; as a matter of fact, neither Sir Graham nor his sons
disliked us. I met Basil Montgomery at Traquair House many years
after my papa's election, where we were entertained by Herbert
Maxwell--the owner of one of the most romantic houses in Scotland,
and our most courteous and affectionate neighbour. Not knowing who
he was, I was indignant when he told me he thought Peeblesshire
was dull; I said where we lived it was far from dull and asked him
if he knew many people in the county. To which he answered:

"Chiefly the Stobo lot."

At this I showed him the most lively sympathy and invited him to
come to Glen. In consequence of this visit he told me years
afterwards his fortune had been made. My father took a fancy to
him and at my request employed him on the Stock Exchange.

Laura and I shared the night nursery together till she married;
and, in spite of mixed proposals, we were devoted friends. We read
late in bed, sometimes till three in the morning, and said our
prayers out loud to each other every night. We were discussing
imagination one night and were comparing Hawthorne, De Quincey,
Poe and others, in consequence of a dispute arising out of one of
our pencil-games; and we argued till the housemaid came in with
the hot water at eight in the morning.

I will digress here to explain our after-dinner games. There were
several, but the best were what Laura and I invented: one was
called "Styles," another "Clumps"--better known as "Animal,
Vegetable or Mineral"--a third, "Epigrams" and the most dangerous
of all "Character Sketches." We were given no time-limit, but sat
feverishly silent in different corners of the room, writing as
hard as we could. When it was agreed that we had all written
enough, the manuscripts were given to our umpire, who read them
out loud. Votes were then taken as to the authorship, which led to
first-rate general conversation on books, people and manner of
writing. We have many interesting umpires, beginning with Bret
Harte and Laurence Oliphant and going on to Arthur Balfour, George
Curzon, George Wyndham, Lionel Tennyson, [Footnote: Brother of
the present Lord Tennyson.] Harry Cust and Doll Liddell: all good
writers themselves.

Some of our guests preferred making caricatures to competing in
the more ambitious line of literature. I made a drawing of the
Dowager Countess of Aylesbury, better known as "Lady A."; Colonel
Saunderson--a famous Orangeman--did a sketch of Gladstone for me;
while Alma Tadema gave me one of Queen Victoria, done in four

These games were good for our tempers and a fine training; any
loose vanity, jealousy, or over-competitiveness were certain to be
shown up; and those who took the buttons off the foils in the duel
of argument--of which I have seen a good deal in my life--were
instantly found out. We played all our games with much greater
precision and care than they are played now and from practice
became extremely good at them. I never saw a playing-card at Glen
till after I married, though--when we were obliged to dine
downstairs to prevent the company being thirteen at dinner--I
vaguely remember a back view of my grandpapa at the card-table
playing whist.

Laura was a year and a half older than I was and came out in 1881,
while I was in Dresden. The first party that she and I went to
together was a political crush given by Sir William and Lady
Harcourt. I was introduced to Spencer Lyttleton and shortly after
this Laura met his brother Alfred.

One day, as she and I were leaving St. Paul's Cathedral, she
pointed out a young man to me and said:

"Go and ask Alfred Lyttelton to come to Glen any time this
autumn," which I promptly did.

The advent of Alfred into our family coincided with that of
several new men, the Charterises, Balfours, George Curzon, George
Wyndham, Harry Cust, the Crawleys, Jack Pease, "Harry" Paulton,
Lord Houghton, Mark Napier, Doll Liddell and others. High hopes
had been entertained by my father that some of these young men
might marry us, but after the reception we gave to Lord Lymington
--who, to do him justice, never proposed to any of us except in the
paternal imagination--his nerve was shattered and we were left to

Some weeks before Alfred's arrival, Laura had been much disturbed
by hearing that we were considered "fast"; she told me that
receiving men at midnight in our bedroom shocked people and that
we ought, perhaps, to give it up. I listened closely to what she
had to say, and at the end remarked that it appeared to me to be
quite absurd. Godfrey Webb agreed with me and said that people who
were easily shocked were like women who sell stale pastry in
cathedral towns; and he advised us to take no notice whatever of
what any one said. We hardly knew the meaning of the word "fast"
and, as my mother went to bed punctually at eleven, it was
unthinkable that men and women friends should not be allowed to
join us. Our bedroom had been converted by me out of the night-
nursery into a sitting-room. The shutters were removed and book-
shelves put in their place, an idea afterwards copied by my
friends. The Morris carpet and chintzes I had discovered for
myself and chosen in London; and my walls were ornamented with
curious objects, varying from caricatures and crucifixes to prints
of prize-fights, fox-hunts, Virgins and Wagner. In one of the
turrets I hung my clothes; in the other I put an altar on which I
kept my books of prayer and a skull which was given to me by the
shepherd's son and which is on my bookshelf now; we wore charming
dressing-jackets and sat up in bed with coloured cushions behind
our backs, while the brothers and their friends sat on the floor
or in comfortable chairs round the room. On these occasions the
gas was turned low, a brilliant fire made up and either a guest or
one of us would read by the light of a single candle, tell ghost-
stories or discuss current affairs: politics, people and books.
Not only the young, but the old men came to our gatherings. I
remember Jowett reading out aloud to us Thomas Hill Green's lay
sermons; and when he had finished I asked him how much he had
loved Green, to which he replied:

"I did not love him at all."

That these midnight meetings should shock any one appeared
fantastic; and as most people in the house agreed with me, they
were continued.

It was not this alone that disturbed Laura; she wanted to marry a
serious, manly fellow, but as she was a great flirt, other types
of a more brilliant kind obscured this vision and she had become
profoundly undecided over her own love-affairs; they had worked so
much upon her nerves that when Mr. Lyttelton came to Glen she was
in bed with acute neuralgia and unable to see him.

My father welcomed Alfred warmly, for, apart from his charming
personality, he was Gladstone's nephew and had been brought up in
the Liberal creed.

On the evening of his arrival, we all went out after dinner. There
had been a terrific gale which had destroyed half a wood on a hill
in front of the library windows and we wanted to see the roots of
the trees blown up by dynamite. It was a moonlight night, but the
moon is always brighter in novels than in life and it was pitch
dark. Alfred and I, walking arm in arm, talked gaily to each other
as we stumbled over the broken brushwood by the side of the Quair
burn. As we approached the wood a white birch lay across the water
at a slanting angle and I could not resist leaving Alfred's side
to walk across it. It was, however, too slippery for me and I
fell. Alfred plunged into the burn and scrambled me out. I landed
on my feet and, except for sopping stockings, no harm was done.
Our party had scattered in the dark and, as it was past midnight,
we walked back to the house alone. When we returned, we found
everybody had gone to their rooms and Alfred suggested carrying me
up to bed. As I weighed under eight stone, he lifted me up like a
toy and deposited me on my bed. Kneeling down, he kissed my hand
and said good night to me.

Two days after this my brother Eddy and I travelled North for the
Highland meeting. Laura, who had been gradually recovering, was
well enough to leave her room that day; and I need hardly say that
this had the immediate effect of prolonging Alfred's visit.

On my return to Glen ten days later she told me she had made up
her mind to marry Alfred Lyttleton.

After what Mrs. Lyttelton has written of her husband, there is
little to add, but I must say one word of my brother-in-law as he
appeared to me in those early days.

Alfred Lyttelton was a vital, splendid young man of fervent
nature, even more spoilt than we were. He was as cool and as
fundamentally unsusceptible as he was responsive and emotional.
Every one adored him; he combined the prowess at games of a Greek
athlete with moral right-mindedness of a high order. He was
neither a gambler nor an artist. He respected discipline, but
loathed asceticism.

What interested me most in him was not his mind--which lacked
elasticity--but his religion, his unquestioning obedience to the
will of God and his perfect freedom from cant. His mentality was
brittle and he was as quick-tempered in argument as he was sunny
and serene in games. There are people who thought Alfred was a man
of strong physical passions, wrestling with temptation till he had
achieved complete self-mastery, but nothing was farther from the
truth. In him you found combined an ardent nature, a cool
temperament and a peppery intellectual temper. Alfred would have
been justified in taking out a patent in himself as an Englishman,
warranted like a dye never to lose colour. To him most foreigners
were frogs. In Edward Lyttelton's admirable monograph of his
brother, you will read that one day, when Alfred was in the train,
sucking an orange, "a small, grubby Italian, leaning on his
walking-stick, smoking a cheroot at the station," was looked
upon, not only by Alfred but by his biographer, as an
"irresistible challenge to fling the juicy, but substantial,
fragment full at the unsuspecting foreigner's cheek." At this we
are told that "Alfred collapsed into noble convulsions of
laughter." I quote this incident, as it illustrates the difference
between the Tennant and the Lyttelton sense of humour. Their
laughter was a tornado or convulsion to which they succumbed; and
even the Hagley ragging, though, according to Edward Lyttelton's
book, it was only done with napkins, sounds formidable enough.
Laura and Alfred enjoyed many things together--books, music and
going to church--but they did not laugh at the same things. I
remember her once saying to me in a dejected voice:

"Wouldn't you have thought that, laughing as loud as the
Lytteltons do, they would have loved Lear? Alfred says none of
them think him a bit funny and was quite testy when I said his was
the only family in the world that didn't."

It was his manliness, spirituality and freedom from pettiness that
attracted Alfred to Laura; he also had infinite charm. It might
have been said of him what the Dowager Lady Grey wrote of her
husband to Henry when thanking him for his sympathy:

"He lit so many fires in cold rooms."

After Alfred's death, my husband said this of him in the House of

It would not, I think, be doing justice to the feelings which are
uppermost in many of our hearts, if we passed to the business of
the day without taking notice of the fresh gap which has been made
in our ranks by the untimely death of Mr. Alfred Lyttelton. It is
a loss of which I hardly trust myself to speak; for, apart from
ties of relationship, there had subsisted between us for thirty-
three years, a close friendship and affection which no political
differences were ever allowed to loosen, or even to affect. Nor
could I better describe it than by saying that he, perhaps, of all
men of this generation, came nearest to the mould and ideal of
manhood, which every English father would like to see his son
aspire to, and, if possible, to attain. The bounty of nature,
enriched and developed not only by early training, but by constant
self-discipline through life, blended in him gifts and graces
which, taken alone, are rare, and in such attractive union are
rarer still. Body, mind and character, the schoolroom, the cricket
field, the Bar, the House of Commons--each made its separate
contribution to the faculty and the experience of a many-sided and
harmonious whole. But what he was he gave--gave with such ease
and exuberance that I think it may be said without exaggeration
that wherever he moved he seemed to radiate vitality and charm. He
was, as we here know, a strenuous fighter. He has left behind him
no resentments and no enmity; nothing but a gracious memory of a
manly and winning personality, the memory of one who served with
an unstinted measure of devotion his generation and country. He
has been snatched away in what we thought was the full tide of
buoyant life, still full of promise and of hope. What more can we
say? We can only bow once again before the decrees of the Supreme
Wisdom. Those who loved him--and they are many, in all schools of
opinion, in all ranks and walks of life--when they think of him,
will say to themselves:

    This is the happy warrior, this is he
    Who every man in arms should wish to be.

On the occasion of Alfred Lyttelton's second visit to Glen, I will
quote my diary:

"Laura came into my bedroom. She was in a peignoir and asked me
what she should wear for dinner. I said:

"'Your white muslin, and hurry up. Mr. Lyttelton is strumming in
the Doo'cot and you had better go and entertain him, poor fellow,
as he is leaving for London tonight.'

"She tied a blue ribbon in her hair, hastily thrust her diamond
brooch into her fichu and then, with her eyes very big and her
hair low and straight upon her forehead, she went into our
sitting-room (we called it the Doo'cot, because we all quarrelled
there). Feeling rather small, but, half-shy, half-bold, she shut
the door and, leaning against it, watched Alfred strumming. He
turned and gazed at the little figure so near him, so delicate in
her white dress.

"The silence was broken by Alfred asking her if any man ever left
Glen without telling her that he loved her; but suddenly all talk
stopped and she was in his arms, hiding her little face against
his hard coat. There was no one to record what followed; only the
night rising with passionate eyes:

'The hiding, receiving night that talks not.'

"They were married on the 10th of May, 1885. "In April of 1886,
Laura's baby was expected any day; and my mother was anxious that
I should not be near her when the event took place. The Lytteltons
lived in Upper Brook Street; and, Grosvenor Square being near, it
was thought that any suffering on her part might make a lasting
and painful impression on me, so I was sent down to Easton Grey to
stay with Lucy and hunt in the Badminton country. Before going
away, I went round to say good-bye to Laura and found her in a
strange humour.

"LAURA: 'I am sure I shall die with my baby.'

"MARGOT: 'How can you talk such nonsense? Every one thinks that.
Look at mamma! She had twelve children without a pang!'

"LAURA: 'I know she did; but I am sure I shall die.'

"MARGOT: 'I am just as likely to be killed out hunting as you are
to die, darling! It makes me miserable to hear you talk like

"LAURA: 'If I die, Margot, I want you to read my will to the
relations and people that will be in my bedroom. It is in that
drawer. Promise me you will not forget.'

"MARGOT: 'All right, darling, I will; but let us kneel down and
pray that, whether it is me or you who die first, if it is God's
will, one of us may come to the other down here and tell us the
truth about the next world and console us as much as possible in

We knelt and prayed and, though I was more removed from the world
and in the humour both to see and to hear what was not material,
in my grief over Laura's death, which took place ten days later, I
have never heard from her or of her from that day to this.

Mrs. Lyttelton has told the story of her husband's first marriage
with so much perfection that I hesitate to go over the same ground
again, but, as my sister Laura's death had more effect on me than
any event in my life, except my own marriage and the birth of my
children, I must copy a short account of it written at that time:

'On Saturday, 17th April, 1886, I was riding down a green slope in
Gloucestershire while the Beaufort hounds were scattered below
vainly trying to pick up the scent; they were on a stale line and
the result had been general confusion. It was a hot day and the
woods were full of children and primroses.

"The air was humming with birds and insects, nature wore an
expectant look and all the hedge-rows sparkled with the spangles
of the spring. There was a prickly gap under a tree which divided
me from my companions. I rode down to jump it, but, whether from
breeding, laziness or temper, my horse turned round and refused to
move. I took my foot out of the stirrup and gave him a slight
kick. I remember nothing after that till I woke up in a cottage
with a tremendous headache. They said that the branch was too low,
or the horse jumped too big and a withered bough had caught me in
the face. In consequence I had concussion of the brain; and my
nose and upper lip were badly torn. I was picked up by my early
fiance. He tied my lip to my hair--as it was reposing on my chin--
and took me home in a cart. The doctor was sent for, but there was
no time to give me chloroform. I sat very still from vanity while
three stitches were put through the most sensitive part of my
nose. When it was all over, I looked at myself in the looking-
glass and burst into tears. I had never been very pretty ("worse
than that," as the Marquis of Soveral [Footnote: The Late
Portuguese Minister.] said) but I had a straight nose and a look
of intelligence; and now my face would be marked for life like a
German student's.

"The next day a telegram arrived saying: "'Laura confined--a boy--
both doing well.'

"We sent back a message saying: "'Hurrah and blessing!'

On Sunday we received a letter from Charty saying Laura was very
ill and another on Monday telling us to go to London. I was in a
state of acute anxiety and said to the doctor I must go and see
Laura immediately, but he would not hear of it:

"'Impossible! You'll get erysipelas and die. Most dangerous to
move with a face like that,' he said.

"On the occasion of his next visit, I was dressed and walking up
and down the room in a fume of nervous excitement, for go I WOULD.
Laura was dying (I did not really think she was, but I wanted to
be near her). I insisted upon his taking the stitches out of my
face and ultimately he had to give in. At 6 p.m. I was in the
train for London, watching the telegraph-posts flying past me.

"My mind was going over every possibility. I was sitting near her
bed with the baby on my arm, chattering over plans, arranging
peignoirs, laughing at the nurse's anecdotes, talking and
whispering over the thousand feminine things that I knew she would
be longing to hear. ... Or perhaps she was dying... asking for me
and wondering why I did not come... thinking I was hunting instead
of being with her. Oh, how often the train stopped! Did any one
really live at these stations? No one got out; they did not look
like real places; why should the train stop? Should I tell them
Laura was dying? ... We had prayed so often to die the same day.
... Surely she was not going to die... it could not be... her
vitality was too splendid, her youth too great... God would not
allow this thing. How stiff my face felt with its bandages; and if
I cried they would all come off!

"At Swindon I had to change. I got out and sat in the vast eating-
room, with its atmosphere of soup and gas. A crowd of people were
talking of a hunting accident: this was mine. Then a woman came in
and put her bag down. A clergyman shook hands with her; he said
some one had died. I moved away.

"'World! Trewth! The Globe! Paper, miss? Paper? ...'

"'No, thank you.'

"'London train!' was shouted and I got in. I knew by the loud
galloping sound that we were going between high houses and at each
gallop the wheels seemed to say, 'Too late--too late!' After a
succession of hoarse screams we dashed into Paddington.

"It was midnight. I saw a pale, grave face, and recognised Evan
Charteris, who had come in Lady Wemyss' brougham to meet me. I

'"Is she dead?' "To which he answered: "'No, but very, very ill.'
"We drove in silence to 4 Upper Brook Street.

Papa, Jack and Godfrey Webb stood in the hall. They stopped me as
I passed and said: 'She is no worse'; but I could not listen. I
saw Arthur Balfour and Spencer Lyttelton standing near the door of
Alfred's room. They said: "'You look ill. Have you had a fall?'

"I explained the plaster on my swollen face and asked if I might
go upstairs to see Laura; and they said they thought I might. When
I got to the top landing, I stood in the open doorway of the
boudoir. A man was sitting in an arm-chair by a table with a
candle on it. It was Alfred and I passed on. I saw the silhouette
of a woman through the open door of Laura's room; this was Charty.
We held each other close to our hearts... her face felt hot and
her eyes were heavy.

"'Don't look at her to-night, sweet. She is unconscious,' she

"I did not take this in and asked to be allowed to say one word to
her. ... I said:

"'I know she'd like to see me, darling, if only just to nod to,
and I promise I will go away quickly. Indeed, indeed I would not
tire her! I want to tell her the train was late and the doctor
would not let me come up yesterday. Only one second, PLEASE,
Charty! ...'

"'But, my darling heart, she's unconscious. She has never been
conscious all day. She would not know you!'

"I sank stunned upon the stair. Some one touched my shoulder:

"'You had better go to bed, it is past one. No, you can't sleep
here: there's no bed. You must lie down; a sofa won't do, you are
too ill. Very well, then, you are not ill, but you will be to-
morrow if you don't go to bed.'

"I found myself in the street, Arthur Balfour holding one of my
arms and Spencer Lyttelton the other. They took me to 40 Grosvenor
Square. I went to bed and early next morning I went across to
Upper Brook Street. The servant looked happy:

"'She's better, miss, and she's conscious.'

"I flew upstairs, and Charty met me in her dressing-gown. She was
calm and capable as always, but a new look, less questioning and
more intense, had come into her face. She said:

"'You can go in now.'

"I felt a rushing of my soul and an over-eagerness that half-
stopped me as I opened the door and stood at the foot of the
wooden bed and gazed at what was left of Laura.

"Her face had shrunk to the size of a child's; her lashes lay a
black wall on the whitest of cheeks; her hair was hanging dragged
up from her square brow in heavy folds upon the pillow. Her mouth
was tightly shut and a dark blood-stain marked her chin. After a
long silence, she moved and muttered and opened her eyes. She
fixed them on me, and my heart stopped. I stretched my hands out
towards her, and said, 'Laura!'... But the sound died; she did not
know me. I knew after that she could not live.

"People went away for the Easter Holidays: Papa to North Berwick,
Arthur Balfour to Westward Ho! and every day Godfrey Webb rode a
patient cob up to the front door, to hear that she was no better.
I sat on the stairs listening to the roar of London and the clock
in the library. The doctor--Matthews Duncan--patted my head
whenever he passed me on the stair and said, in his gentle Scotch

"'Poor little girl! Poor, poor little girl!'

"I was glad he did not say that 'while there was life there was
hope,' or any of the medical platitudes, or I would have replied
that he LIED. There was no hope--none! ...

"One afternoon I went with Lucy to St. George's, Hanover Square.
The old man was sweeping out the church; and we knelt and prayed.
Laura and I have often knelt side by side at that altar and I
never feel alone when I am in front of the mysterious Christ-
picture, with its bars of violet and bunches of grapes.

"On my return I went upstairs and lay on the floor of Laura's
bedroom, watching Alfred kneeling by her side with his arms over
his head. Charty sat with her hands clasped; a single candle
behind her head transfigured her lovely hair into a halo. Suddenly
Laura opened her eyes and, turning them slowly on Charty, said:

"'You are HEAVENLY! . . .'

"A long pause, and then while we were all three drawing near her
bed we heard her say:

"'I think God has forgotten me.'

"The fire was weaving patterns on the ceiling; every shadow seemed
to be looking with pity on the silence of that room, the long
silence that has never been broken.

"I did not go home that night, but slept at Alfred's house. Lucy
had gone to the early Communion, but I had not accompanied her,
as I was tired of praying. I must have fallen into a heavy sleep,
when suddenly I felt some one touching my bed. I woke with a start
and saw nurse standing beside me. She said in a calm voice:

"'My dear, you must come. Don't look like that; you won't be able
to walk.'

"Able to walk! Of course I was! I was in my dressing-gown and
downstairs in a flash and on to the bed. The room was full of
people. I lay with my arm under Laura, as I did in the old Glen
days, when after our quarrels we crept into each other's beds
to'make it up.' Alfred was holding one of her hands against his
forehead; and Charty was kneeling at her feet.

"She looked much the same, but a deeper shadow ran under her brow
and her mouth seemed to be harder shut. I put my cheek against her
shoulder and felt the sharpness of her spine. For a minute we lay
close to each other, while the sun, fresh from the dawn, played
upon the window-blinds. ... Then her breathing stopped; she gave a
shiver and died. ... The silence was so great that I heard the
flight of Death and the morning salute her soul.

"I went downstairs and took her will out of the drawer where she
had put it and told Alfred what she had asked me to do. The room
was dark with people; and a tall man, gaunt and fervid, was
standing up saying a prayer. When he had finished I read the will

My Will [Footnote: The only part of the will I have left out is a
few names with blank spaces which she intended to fill up.], made
by me, Laura Mary Octavia Lyttelton, February, 1886.

"I have not much to leave behind me, should I die next month,
having my treasure deep in my heart where no one can reach it, and
where even Death cannot enter. But there are some things that have
long lain at the gates of my Joy House that in some measure have
the colour of my life in them, and would, by rights of love,
belong to those who have entered there. I should like Alfred to
give these things to my friends, not because my friends will care
so much for them, but because they will love best being where I
loved to be.

"I want, first of all, to tell Alfred that all I have in the world
and all I am and ever shall be, belongs to him, and to him more
than any one, so that if I leave away from him anything that
speaks to him of a joy unknown to me, or that he holds dear for
any reason wise or unwise, it is his, and my dear friends will
forgive him and me.

"So few women have been as happy as I have been every hour since I
married--so few have had such a wonderful sky of love for their
common atmosphere, that perhaps it will seem strange when I write
down that the sadness of Death and Parting is greatly lessened to
me by the fact of my consciousness of the eternal, indivisible
oneness of Alfred and me. I feel as long as he is down here I must
be here, silently, secretly sitting beside him as I do every
evening now, however much my soul is the other side, and that if
Alfred were to die, we would be as we were on earth, love as we
did this year, only fuller, quicker, deeper than ever, with a
purer passion and a wiser worship. Only in the meantime, whilst my
body is hid from him and my eyes cannot see him, let my trivial
toys be his till the morning comes when nothing will matter
because all is spirit.

"If my baby lives I should like it to have my pearls. I do not
love my diamond necklace, so I won't leave it to any one.

"I would like Alfred to have my Bible. It has always rather
worried him to hold because it is so full of things; but if I know
I am dying, I will clean it out, because, I suppose, he won't like
to after. I think I am fonder of it--not, I mean, because it's the
Bible--but because it's such a friend, and has been always with
me, chiefly under my pillow, ever since I had it--than of anything
I possess, and I used to read it a great deal when I was much
better than I am now. I love it very much, so, Alfred, you must
keep it for me.

"Then the prayer book Francie [Footnote: Lady Horner, of Mells.]
gave me is what I love next, and I love it so much I feel I would
like to take it with me. Margot wants a prayer book, so I leave it
to her. It is so dirty outside, but perhaps it would be a pity to
bind it. Margot is to have my darling little Daily Light, too.

"Then Charty is to have my paste necklace she likes, and any two
prints she cares to have, and my little trefeuille diamond brooch
--oh! and the Hope she painted for me. I love it very much, and my
amethyst beads.

"Little Barbara is to have my blue watch, and Tommy my watch--
there is no chain.

"Then Lucy is to have my Frances belt, because a long time ago the
happiest days of my girlhood were when we first got to know
Francie, and she wore that belt in the blue days at St. Moritz
when we met her at church and I became her lover; and I want Lucy
to have my two Blakes and the dear little Martin Schongaun Madonna
and Baby--dear little potbellied baby, sucking his little sacred
thumb in a garden with a beautiful wall and a little pigeon-house
turret. I bought it myself, and do rather think it was clever of
me--all for a pound.

"And Posie is to have my little diamond wreaths, and she must
leave them to Joan, [Footnote: My niece, Mrs. Jamie Lindsay.] and
she is to have my garnets too, because she used to like them, and
my Imitation and Marcus Aurelius.

"I leave Eddy my little diamond necklace for his wife, and he must
choose a book.

"And Frank is just going to be married, so I would like him to
have some bit of my furniture, and his wife my little silver

"I leave Jack the little turquoise ring Graham gave me. He must
have it made into a stud.

"Then I want Lavinia [Footnote: Lavinia Talbot is wife of the
present Bishop of Winchester] to have my bagful of silver
dressing-things Papa gave me, and the little diamond and sapphire
bangle I am so fond of; and tell her what a joy it has been to
know her, and that the little open window has let in many sunrises
on my married life. She will understand.

"Then I want old Lucy [Footnote: Lady Frederick Cavendish, whose
husband was murdered in Ireland] to have my edition of the
"Pilgrim's Progress," that dear old one, and my photograph in the
silver frame of Alfred, if my baby dies too, otherwise it is to
belong to him (or her). Lucy was Alfred's little proxy-mother, and
she deserves him. He sent the photograph to me the first week we
were engaged, and I have carried it about ever since. I don't
think it very good. It always frightened me a little; it is so
stern and just, and the 'just man' has never been a hero of mine.
I love Alfred when he is what he is to me, and I don't feel that
is just, but generous.

"Then I want Edward [Footnote: The late Head Master of Eton] to
have the "Days of Creation," and Charles [Footnote: The present
Lord Cobham, Alfred's eldest brother] to have my first editions of
Shelley, and Arthur [Footnote: The late Hon. Arthur Temple
Lyttelton, Bishop of Southampton] my first edition of Beaumont and
Fletcher; and Kathleen [Footnote: The Late Hon. Mrs. Arthur
Lyttelton.] is to have my little silver crucifix that opens, and
Alfred must put in a little bit of my hair, and Kathleen must keep
it for my sake--I loved her from the first.

"I want Alfred to give my godchild, Cicely Horner,[Footnote: The
present Hon. Mrs. George Lambton.], the bird-brooch Burne Jones
designed, and the Sintram Arthur [Footnote: The Right Hon. Arthur
Balfour.], gave me. I leave my best friend, Frances, my grey
enamel and diamond bracelet, my first edition of Wilhelm Meister,
with the music folded up in it, and my Burne Jones ''spression'
drawings. Tell her I leave a great deal of my life with her, and
that I never can cease to be very near her.

"I leave Mary Elcho [Footnote: The present Countess of Wemyss.]
my Chippendale cradle. She must not think it bad luck. I suppose
some one else possessed it once, and, after all, it isn't as if I
died in it! She gave me the lovely hangings, and I think she will
love it a little for my sake, because I always loved cradles and
all cradled things; and I leave her my diamond and red enamel
crescent Arthur gave me. She must wear it because two of her dear
friends are in it, as it were. And I would like her to have oh!
such a blessed life, because I think her character is so full of
blessed things and symbols. ...

"I leave Arthur Balfour--Alfred's and my dear, deeply loved
friend, who has given me so many happy hours since I married, and
whose sympathy, understanding, and companionship in the deep sense
of the word has never been withheld from me when I have sought it,
which has not been seldom this year of my blessed Vita Nuova--I
leave him my Johnson. He taught me to love that wisest of men--and
I have much to be grateful for in this. I leave him, too, my
little ugly Shelley--much read, but not in any way beautiful; if
he marries I should like him to give his wife my little red enamel
harp--I shall never see her if I die now, but I have so often
created her in the Islands of my imagination--and as a Queen has
she reigned there, so that I feel in the spirit we are in some
measure related by some mystic tie."

Out of the many letters Alfred received, this is the one I liked


April 27th, 1886. MY DEAR ALFRED,

It is a daring and perhaps a selfish thing to speak to you at a
moment when your mind and heart are a sanctuary in which God is
speaking to you in tones even more than usually penetrating and
solemn. Certainly it pertains to few to be chosen to receive such
lessons as are being taught you. If the wonderful trials of
Apostles, Saints and Martyrs have all meant a love in like
proportion wonderful, then, at this early period of your life,
your lot has something in common with theirs, and you will bear
upon you life-long marks of a great and peculiar dispensation
which may and should lift you very high. Certainly you two who are
still one were the persons whom in all the vast circuit of London
life those near you would have pointed to as exhibiting more than
any others the promise and the profit of BOTH worlds. The call
upon you for thanksgiving seemed greater than on any one--you will
not deem it lessened now. How eminently true it is of her that in
living a short she fulfilled a long time. If Life is measured by
intensity, hers was a very long life--and yet with that rich
development of mental gifts, purity and singleness made her one of
the little children of whom and of whose like is the Kingdom of
Heaven. Bold would it indeed be to say such a being died
prematurely. All through your life, however it be prolonged, what
a precious possession to you she will be. But in giving her to
your bodily eye and in taking her away the Almighty has specially
set His seal upon you. To Peace and to God's gracious mercy let us
heartily, yes, cheerfully, commend her. Will you let Sir Charles
and Lady Tennant and all her people know how we feel with and for

Ever your affec.


Matthew Arnold sent me this poem because Jowett told him I said it
might have been written for Laura:


    Strew on her roses, roses,
    And never a spray of yew!
    In quiet she reposes;
    Ah, would that I did too!

    Her mirth the world required;
    She bathed it in smiles of glee.
    But her heart was tired, tired,
    And now they let her be.

    Her life was turning, turning,
    In mazes of heat and sound,
    But for peace her soul was yearning,
    And now peace laps her round.

    Her cabin'd, ample spirit,
    It flutter'd and fail'd for breath.
    To-night it doth inherit
    The vasty hall of death.



After Laura's death I spent most of my time in the East End of
London. One day, when I was walking in the slums of Whitechapel, I
saw a large factory and girls of all ages pouring in and out of
it. Seeing the name "Cliffords" on the door, I walked in and asked
a workman to show me his employer's private room. He indicated
with his finger where it was and I knocked and went in. Mr.
Cliffords, the owner of the factory, had a large red face and was
sitting in a bare, squalid room, on a hard chair, in front of his
writing-table. He glanced at me as I shut the door, but did not
stop writing. I asked him if I might visit his factory once or
twice a week and talk to the work-girls. At this he put his pen
down and said:

"Now, miss, what good do you suppose you will do here with my

MARGOT: "It is not exactly THAT. I am not sure I can do any one
any good, but do you think I could do your girls any harm?"

CLIFFORDS: "Most certainly you could and, what is more, you WILL"

MARGOT: "How?"

CLIFFORDS: "Why, bless my soul! You'll keep them all jawing and
make them late for their work! As it is, they don't do overmuch.
Do you think my girls are wicked and that you are going to make
them good and happy and save them and all that kind of thing?"

MARGOT: "Not at all; I was not thinking of them, _I_ am so very
unhappy myself."

that's quite another matter! If you've come here to ask me a
favour, I might consider it."

MARGOT (HUMBLY): "That is just what I have come for. I swear I
would only be with your girls in the dinner interval, but if by
accident I arrive at the wrong time I will see that they do not
stop their work. It is far more likely that they won't listen to
me at all than that they will stop working to hear what I have to


So it was fixed up. He shook me by the hand, never asked my name
and I visited his factory three days a week for eight years when I
was in London (till I married, in 1894).

The East End of London was not a new experience to me. Laura and I
had started a creche at Wapping the year I came out; and in
following up the cases of deserving beggars I had come across a
variety of slums. I have derived as much interest and more benefit
from visiting the poor than the rich and I get on better with
them. What was new to me in Whitechapel was the head of the

Mr. Cliffords was what the servants describe as "a man who keeps
himself to himself," gruff, harsh, straight and clever. He hated
all his girls and no one would have supposed, had they seen us
together, that he liked me; but, after I had observed him blocking
the light in the doorway of the room when I was speaking, I knew
that I should get on with him.

The first day I went into the barn of a place where the boxes were
made, I was greeted by a smell of glue and perspiration and a roar
of wheels on the cobblestones in the yard. Forty or fifty women,
varying in age from sixteen to sixty, were measuring, cutting and
glueing cardboard and paper together; not one of them looked up
from her work as I came in.

I climbed upon a hoarding, and kneeling down, pinned a photograph
of Laura on a space of the wall. This attracted the attention of
an elderly woman who turned to her companions and said:

"Come and have a look at this, girls! why, it's to the life!"

Seeing some of the girls leave their work and remembering my
promise to Cliffords, I jumped up and told them that in ten
minutes' time they would be having their dinners and then I would
like to speak to them, but that until then they must not stop
their work. I was much relieved to see them obey me. Some of them
kept sandwiches in dirty paper bags which they placed on the floor
with their hats, but when the ten minutes were over I was
disappointed to see nearly all of them disappear. I asked where
they had gone to and was told that they either joined the men
packers or went to the public-house round the corner.

The girls who brought sandwiches and stayed behind liked my visits
and gradually became my friends. One of them--Phoebe Whitman by
name--was beautiful and had more charm than the others for me; I
asked her one day if she would take me with her to the public-
house where she always lunched, as I had brought my food with me
in a bag and did not suppose the public-house people would mind my
eating it there with a glass of beer. This request of mine
distressed the girls who were my friends. They thought it a
terrible idea that I should go among drunkards, but I told them I
had brought a book with me which they could look at and read out
loud to each other while I was away--at which they nodded gravely
--and I went off with my beautiful cockney.

The "Peggy Bedford" was in the lowest quarter of Whitechapel and
crowded daily with sullen and sad-looking people. It was hot,
smelly and draughty. When we went in I observed that Phoebe was a
favourite; she waved her hand gaily here and there and ordered
herself a glass of bitter. The men who had been hanging about
outside and in different corners of the room joined up to the
counter on her arrival and I heard a lot of chaff going on while
she tossed her pretty head and picked at potted shrimps. The room
was too crowded for any one to notice me; and I sat quietly in a
corner eating my sandwiches and smoking my cigarette. The frosted-
glass double doors swung to and fro and the shrill voices of
children asking for drinks and carrying them away in their mugs
made me feel profoundly unhappy. I followed one little girl
through the doors out into the street and saw her give the mug to
a cabman and run off delighted with his tip. When I returned I was
deafened by a babel of voices; there was a row going on: one of
the men, drunk but good-tempered, was trying to take the flower
out of Phoebe's hat. Provoked by this, a young man began jostling
him, at which all the others pressed forward; the barman shouted
ineffectually to them to stop; they merely cursed him and said
that they were backing Phoebe. A woman, more drunk than the
others, swore at being disturbed and said that Phoebe was a
blasted something that I could not understand. Suddenly I saw her
hitting out like a prize-fighter; and the men formed a ring round
them. I jumped up, seized an under-fed, blear-eyed being who was
nearest to me and flung him out of my way. Rage and disgust
inspired me with great physical strength; but I was prevented from
breaking through the ring by a man seizing my arm and saying:

"Let be or her man will give you a damned thrashing!"

Not knowing which of the women he was alluding to, I dipped down
and, dodging the crowd, broke through the ring and flung myself
upon Phoebe; my one fear was that she would be too late for her
work and that the promise I had made to Cliffords would be broken.

Women fight very awkwardly and I was battered about between the
two. I turned and cursed the men standing round for laughing and
doing nothing and, before I could separate the combatants, I had
given and received heavy blows; but unexpected help came from a
Cliffords packer who happened to look in. We extricated ourselves
as well as we could and ran back to the factory. I made Phoebe
apologise to the chief for being late and, feeling stiff all over,
returned home to Grosvenor Square.

Cliffords, who was an expert boxer, invited me into his room on my
next visit to tell him the whole story and my shares went up.

By the end of July all the girls--about fifty-two--stayed with me
after their work and none of them went to the "Peggy Bedford."

The Whitechapel murders took place close to the factory about that
time, and the girls and I visited what the journalists call "the
scene of the tragedy." It was strange watching crowds of people
collected daily to see nothing but an archway.

I took my girls for an annual treat to the country every summer,
starting at eight in the morning and getting back to London at
midnight. We drove in three large wagonettes behind four horses,
accompanied by a brass band. On one occasion I was asked if the
day could be spent at Caterham, because there were barracks there.
I thought it a dreary place and strayed away by myself, but Phoebe
and her friends enjoyed glueing their noses to the rails and
watching the soldiers drill. I do not know how the controversy
arose, but when I joined them I heard Phoebe shout through the
railings that some one was a "bloody fish!" I warned her that I
should leave Cliffords for ever, if she went on provoking rows and
using such violent language, and this threat upset her; for a
short time she was on her best behaviour, but I confess I find the
poor just as uninfluenceable and ungrateful as the rich, and I
often wonder what became of Phoebe Whitman.

At the end of July I told the girls that I had to leave them, as I
was going back to my home in Scotland.

PHOEBE: "You don't know, lady, how much we all feels for you
having to live in the country. Why, when you pointed out to us on
the picnic-day that kind of a tower-place, with them walls and
dark trees, and said it reminded you of your home, we just looked
at each other! 'Well, I never!' sez I; and we all shuddered!"

None of the girls knew what my name was or where I lived till they
read about me in the picture-papers, eight years later at the
time of my marriage.

When I was not in the East-end of London, I wandered about looking
at the shop-windows in the West. One day I was admiring a
photograph of my sister Charty in the window of Macmichael's, when
a footman touched his hat and asked me if I would speak to "her
Grace" in the carriage. I turned round and saw the Duchess of
Manchester [Footnote: Afterwards the late Dutchess of Devonshire];
as I had never spoken to her in my life, I wondered what she could
possibly want me for. After shaking hands, she said:

"Jump in, dear child! I can't bear to see you look so sad. Jump in
and I'll take you for a drive and you can come back to tea with

I got into the carriage and we drove round Hyde Park, after which
I followed her upstairs to her boudoir in Great Stanhope Street.
In the middle of tea Queen Alexandra--then Princess of Wales--
came in to see the Duchess. She ran in unannounced and kissed her

My heart beat when I looked at her. She had more real beauty, both
of line and expression, and more dignity than any one I had ever
seen; and I can never forget that first meeting.

These were the days of the great beauties. London worshipped
beauty like the Greeks. Photographs of the Princess of Wales, Mrs.
Langtry, Mrs. Cornwallis West, Mrs. Wheeler and Lady Dudley
[Footnote: Georgiana, Countess of Dudley.] collected crowds in
front of the shop windows. I have seen great and conventional
ladies like old Lady Cadogan and others standing on iron chairs in
the Park to see Mrs. Langtry walk past; and wherever Georgiana
Lady Dudley drove there were crowds round her carriage when it
pulled up, to see this vision of beauty, holding a large holland
umbrella over the head of her lifeless husband.

Groups of beauties like the Moncrieffes, Grahams, Conynghams, de
Moleynses, Lady Mary Mills, Lady Randolph Churchill, Mrs. Arthur
Sassoon, Lady Dalhousie, Lady March, Lady Londonderry and Lady de
Grey were to be seen in the salons of the 'eighties. There is
nothing at all like this in London to-day and I doubt if there is
any one now with enough beauty or temperament to provoke a fight
in Rotten Row between gentlemen in high society: an incident of my
youth which I was privileged to witness and which caused a
profound sensation.

Queen Alexandra had a more perfect face than any of those I have
mentioned; it is visible even now, because the oval is still
there, the frownless brows, the carriage and, above all, the grace
both of movement and of gesture which made her the idol of her

London society is neither better nor worse than it was in the
'eighties; there is less talent and less intellectual ambition and
much less religion; but where all the beauty has gone to I cannot

When the Princess of Wales walked into the Duchess of Manchester's
boudoir that afternoon, I got up to go away, but the Duchess
presented me to her and they asked me to stay and have tea, which
I was delighted to do. I sat watching her, with my teacup in my
hand, thrilled with admiration.

Queen Alexandra's total absence of egotism and the warmth of her
manner, prompted not by consideration, but by sincerity, her
gaiety of heart and refinement--rarely to be seen in royal people
--inspired me with a love for her that day from which I have never

I had been presented to the Prince of Wales--before I met the
Princess--by Lady Dalhousie, in the Paddock at Ascot. He asked me
if I would back my fancy for the Wokingham Stakes and have a
little bet with him on the race. We walked down to the rails and
watched the horses gallop past. One of them went down in great
form; I verified him by his colours and found he was called
Wokingham. I told the Prince that he was a sure winner; but out of
so many entries no one was more surprised than I was when my horse
came romping in. I was given a gold cigarette-case and went home
much pleased.

King Edward had great charm and personality and enormous prestige;
he was more touchy than King George and fonder of pleasure. He and
Queen Alexandra, before they succeeded, were the leaders of London
society; they practically dictated what people could and could not
do; every woman wore a new dress when she dined at Marlborough
House; and we vied with each other in trying to please him.

Opinions differ as to the precise function of royalty, but no one
doubts that it is a valuable and necessary part of our
Constitution. Just as the Lord Mayor represents commerce, the
Prime Minister the Government, and the Commons the people, the
King represents society. Voltaire said we British had shown true
genius in preventing our kings by law from doing anything but
good. This sounds well, but we all know that laws do not prevent
men from doing harm.

The two kings that I have known have had in a high degree both
physical and moral courage and have shown a sense of duty
unparalleled in the Courts of Europe; it is this that has given
them their stability; and added to this their simplicity of nature
has won for them our lasting love.

They have been exceptionally fortunate in their private
secretaries: Lord Knollys and Lord Stamfordham are liberal-minded
men of the highest honour and discretion; and I am proud to call
them my friends.

Before I knew the Prince and Princess of Wales, I did not go to
fashionable balls, but after that Ascot I was asked everywhere. I
was quite unconscious of it at the time, but was told afterwards
that people were beginning to criticise me; one or two incidents
might have enlightened me had I been more aware of myself.

One night, when I was dining tete-a-tete with my beloved friend,
Godfrey Webb, in his flat in Victoria Street, my father sent the
brougham for me with a message to ask if I would accompany him to
supper at Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill's, where we had been
invited to meet the Prince of Wales. I said I should be delighted
if I could keep on the dress that I was wearing, but as it was
late and I had to get up early next day I did not want to change
my clothes; he said he supposed my dress would be quite smart
enough, so we drove to the Randolph Churchills' house together.

I had often wanted to know Lord Randolph, but it was only a few
days before the supper that I had had the good fortune to sit next
to him at dinner. When he observed that he had been put next to a
"miss," he placed his left elbow firmly on the table and turned
his back upon me through several courses. I could not but admire
the way he appeared to eat everything with one hand. I do not know
whether it was the lady on his right or what it was that prompted
him, but he ultimately turned round and asked me if I knew any
politicians. I told him that, with the exception of himself, I
knew them all intimately. This surprised him, and after discussing
Lord Rosebery--to whom he was devoted--he said:

"Do you know Lord Salisbury?"

I told him that I had forgotten his name in my list, but that I
would like above everything to meet him; at which he remarked that
I was welcome to all his share of him, adding:

"What do you want to know him for?"

MARGOT: "Because I think he is amazingly amusing and a very fine

LORD RANDOLPH (muttering something I could not catch about
Salisbury lying dead at his feet): "I wish to God that I had NEVER
known him!"

MARGOT: "I am afraid you resigned more out of temper than
conviction, Lord Randolph." At this he turned completely round
and, gazing at me, said:

"Confound your cheek! What do you know about me and my
convictions? I hate Salisbury! He jumped at my resignation like a
dog at a bone. The Tories are ungrateful, short-sighted beasts. I
hope you are a Liberal?"

I informed him that I was and exactly what I thought of the Tory
party; and we talked through the rest of dinner. Towards the end
of our conversation he asked me who I was. I told him that, after
his manners to me in the earlier part of the evening, it was
perhaps better that we should remain strangers. However, after a
little chaff, we made friends and he said that he would come and
see me in Grosvenor Square.

On the night of the supper-party, I was wearing a white muslin
dress with transparent chemise sleeves, a fichu and a long skirt
with a Nattier blue taffeta sash. I had taken a bunch of rose
carnations out of a glass and pinned them into my fichu with three
diamond ducks given me by Lord Carmichael, our delightful
Peeblesshire friend and neighbour.

On my arrival at the Churchills', I observed all the fine ladies
wearing ball-dresses off the shoulder and their tiaras. This made
me very conspicuous and I wished profoundly that I had changed
into something smarter before going out.

The Prince of Wales had not arrived and, as our hostess was giving
orders to the White Hungarian Band, my father and I had to walk
into the room alone.

I saw several of the ladies eyeing my toilette, and having
painfully sharp ears I heard some of their remarks:

"Do look at Miss Tennant! She is in her night-gown!"

"I suppose it is meant to be 'ye olde Englishe pictury!' I wonder
she has not let her hair down like the Juliets at the Oakham

Another, more charitable, said:

"I daresay no one told her that the Prince of Wales was coming.
... Poor child! What a shame!"

And finally a man said:

"There is nothing so odd as the passion some people have for self-
advertisement; it only shows what it is to be intellectual!"

At that moment our hostess came up to us with a charming accueil.

The first time I saw Lady Randolph was at Punchestown races, in
1887, where I went with my new friends, Mrs. Bunbury, Hatfield
Harter and Peter Flower. I was standing at the double when I
observed a woman next to me in a Black Watch tartan skirt, braided
coat and astrachan hussar's cap. She had a forehead like a
panther's and great wild eyes that looked through you; she was so
arresting that I followed her about till I found some one who
could tell me who she was.

Had Lady Randolph Churchill been like her face, she could have
governed the world.

My father and I were much relieved at her greeting; and while we
were talking the Prince of Wales arrived. The ladies fell into
position, ceased chattering and made subterranean curtsies. He
came straight up to me and told me I was to sit on the other side
of him at supper. I said, hanging my head with becoming modesty
and in a loud voice:

"Oh no, Sir, I am not dressed at all for the part! I had better
slip away, I had no notion this was going to be such a smart party
... I expect some of the ladies here think I have insulted them by
coming in my night-gown!"

I saw every one straining to hear what the Prince's answer would
be, but I took good care that we should move out of earshot. At
that moment Lord Hartington [Footnote: The late Duke of
Devonshire.] came up and told me I was to go in to supper with
him. More than ever I wished I had changed my dress, for now every
one was looking at me with even greater curiosity than hostility.

The supper was gay and I had remarkable talks which laid the
foundation of my friendship both with King Edward and the Duke of
Devonshire. The Prince told me he had had a dull youth, as Queen
Victoria could not get over the Prince Consort's death and kept up
an exaggerated mourning. He said he hoped that when I met his
mother I should not be afraid of her, adding, with a charming
smile, that with the exception of John Brown everybody was. I
assured him with perfect candour that I was afraid of no one. He
was much amused when I told him that before he had arrived that
evening some of the ladies had whispered that I was in my night-
gown and I hope he did not think me lacking in courtesy because I
had not put on a ball-dress. He assured me that on the contrary he
admired my frock very much and thought I looked like an old
picture. This remark made me see uncomfortable visions of the
Oakham ball and he did not dispel them by adding:

"You are so original! You must dance the cotillion with me."

I told him that I could not possibly stay, it would bore my father
stiff, as he hated sitting up late; also I was not dressed for
dancing and had no idea there was going to be a ball. When supper
was over, I made my best curtsy and, after presenting my father to
the Prince, went home to bed.

Lord Hartington told me in the course of our conversation at
supper that Lady Grosvenor [Footnote: The Countess of Grosvenor.]
was by far the most dangerous syren in London and that he would
not answer for any man keeping his head or his heart when with
her, to which I entirely agreed.

When the London season came to an end we all went up to Glen.

Here I must retrace my steps.

In the winter of 1880 I went to stay with my sister, Lucy Graham
Smith, in Wiltshire.

I was going out hunting for the first time, never having seen a
fox, a hound or a fence in my life; my heart beat as my sisters
superintending my toilette put the last hair-pin into a crinkly
knot of hair; I pulled on my top-boots and, running down to the
front door, found Ribblesdale, who was mounting me, waiting to
drive me to the meet. Hounds met at Christian Malford station.

Not knowing that with the Duke of Beaufort's hounds every one wore
blue and buff, I was disappointed at the appearance of the field.
No one has ever suggested that a touch of navy blue improves a
landscape; and, although I had never been out hunting before, I
had looked forward to seeing scarlet coats.

We moved off, jostling each other as thick as sardines, to draw
the nearest cover. My mount was peacocking on the grass when
suddenly we heard a "Halloa!" and the whole field went hammering
like John Gilpin down the hard high road.

Plunging through a gap, I dashed into the open country. Storm
flung herself up to the stars over the first fence and I found
myself seated on the wettest of wet ground, angry but unhurt; all
the stragglers--more especially the funkers--agreeably diverted
from pursuing the hunt, galloped off to catch my horse. I walked
to a cottage; and nearly an hour afterwards Storm was returned to

After this contretemps my mount was more amenable and I determined
that nothing should unseat me again. Not being hurt by a fall
gives one a sense of exhilaration and I felt ready to face an arm
of the sea.

The scattered field were moving aimlessly about, some looking for
their second horses, some eating an early sandwich, some in groups
laughing and smoking and no one knowing anything about the hounds;
I was a little away from the others and wondering--like all
amateurs--why we were wasting so much time, when a fine old
gentleman on a huge horse came up to me and said, with a sweet

"Do you always whistle out hunting?"

MARGOT: "I didn't know I was whistling ... I've never hunted

STRANGER: "Is this really the first time you've ever been out with

MARGOT: "Yes, it is."

STRANGER: "How wonderfully you ride! But I am sorry to see you
have taken a toss."

MARGOT: "I fell off at the first fence, for though I've ridden all
my life I've never jumped before."

STRANGER: "Were you frightened when you fell?"

MARGOT: "No, my horse was ..."

STRANGER: "Would you like to wear the blue and buff?"

MARGOT: "It's pretty for women, but I don't think it looks
sporting for men, though I see you wear it; but in any case I
could not get the blue habit."

STRANGER: "Why not?"

MARGOT: "Because the old Duke of Beaufort only gives it to women
who own coverts; I am told he hates people who go hard and after
today I mean to ride like the devil."

STRANGER: "Oh, do you? But is the 'old Duke,' as you call him, so

MARGOT: "I've no idea; I've never seen him or any other duke!"

STRANGER: "If I told you I could get you the blue habit, what
would you say?"

MARGOT (with a patronising smile): "I'm afraid I should say you
were running hares!"

STRANGER: "You would have to wear a top-hat, you know, and you
would not like that! But, if you are going to ride like the devil,
it might save your neck; and in any case it would keep your hair

MARGOT (anxiously pushing back her stray curls): "Why, is my hair
very untidy? It is the first time it has ever been up; and, when I
was 'thrown from my horse,' as the papers call it, all the hair-
pins got loose."

STRANGER: "It doesn't matter with your hair; it is so pretty I
think I shall call you Miss Fluffy! By the bye, what is your

When I told him he was much surprised:

"Oh, then you are a sister-in-law of the Ancestor's, are you?"

This was the first time I ever heard Ribblesdale called "the
Ancestor"; and as I did not know what he meant, I said:

"And who are you?"

To which he replied:

"I am the Duke of Beaufort and I am not running hares this time. I
will give you the blue habit, but you know you will have to wear a

MARGOT: "Good gracious! I hope I've said nothing to offend you? Do
you always do this sort of thing when you meet any one like me for
the first time?"

DUKE OF BEAUFORT (with a smile, lifting his hat): "Just as it is
the first time you have ever hunted, so it is the first time I
have ever met any one like you."

On the third day with the Beaufort hounds, my horse fell heavily
in a ditch with me and, getting up, galloped away. I was picked up
by a good-looking man, who took me into his house, gave me tea
and drove me back in his brougham to Easton Grey; I fell
passionately in love with him. He owned a horse called Lardy
Dardy, on which he mounted me.

Charty and the others chaffed me much about my new friend, saying
that my father would never approve of a Tory and that it was lucky
he was married.

I replied, much nettled, that I did not want to marry any one and
that, though he was a Tory, he was not at all stupid and would
probably get into the Cabinet.

This was my first shrewd political prophecy, for he is in the
Cabinet now.

I cannot look at him without remembering that he was the first man
I was ever in love with, and that, at the age of seventeen, I said
he would be in the Cabinet in spite of his being a Tory.

For pure unalloyed happiness those days at Easton Grey were
undoubtedly the most perfect of my life. Lucy's sweetness to me,
the beauty of the place, the wild excitement of riding over fences
and the perfect certainty I had that I would ride better than any
one in the whole world gave me an insolent confidence which no
earthquake could have shaken.

Off and on, I felt qualms over my lack of education; and when I
was falling into a happy sleep, dreaming I was overriding hounds,
echoes of "Pray, Mamma" out of Mrs. Markham, or early punishments
of unfinished poems would play about my bed.

On one occasion at Easton Grey, unable to sleep for love of life,
I leant out of the window into the dark to see if it was thawing.
It was a beautiful night, warm and wet, and I forgot all about my

The next day, having no mount, I had procured a hireling from a
neighbouring farmer, but to my misery the horse did not turn up at
the meet; Mr. Golightly, the charming parish priest, said I might
drive about in his low black pony-carriage, called in those days a
Colorado beetle, but hunting on wheels was no role for me and I
did not feel like pursuing the field.

My heart sank as I saw the company pass me gaily down the road,
preceded by the hounds, trotting with a staccato step and their
noses in the air.

Just as I was turning to go home, a groom rode past in mufti,
leading a loose horse with a lady's saddle on it. The animal gave
a clumsy lurch; and the man, jerking it violently by the head,
bumped it into my phaeton. I saw my chance.

MARGOT: "Hullo, man! ... That's my horse! Whose groom are you?"

MAN (rather frightened at being caught jobbing his lady's horse in
the mouth): "I am Mrs. Chaplin's groom, miss."

MARGOT: "Jump off; you are the very man I was looking for; tell
me, does Mrs. Chaplin ride this horse over everything?"

MAN (quite unsuspicious and thawing at my sweetness and
authority): "Bless your soul! Mrs. Chaplin doesn't 'unt this
'orse! It's the Major's! She only 'acked it to the meet."

MARGOT (apprehensively and her heart sinking): "But can it jump?
... Don't they hunt it?"

MAN (pulling down my habit skirt): "It's a 'orse that can very
near jump anythink, I should say, but the Major says it shakes
every tooth in 'is gums and she says it's pig-'eaded."

It did not take me long to mount and in a moment I had left the
man miles behind me. Prepared for the worst, but in high glee, I
began to look about me: not a sign of the hunt! Only odd remnants
of the meet, straggling foot-passengers, terriers straining at a
strap held by drunken runners--some in old Beaufort coats, others
in corduroy--one-horse shays of every description by the sides of
the road and sloppy girls with stick and tammies standing in gaps
of the fences, straining their eyes across the fields to see the

My horse with a loose rein was trotting aimlessly down the road
when, hearing a "Halloa!" I pulled up and saw the hounds streaming
towards me all together, so close that you could have covered them
with a handkerchief.

What a scent! What a pack! Have I headed the fox? Will they cross
the road? No! They are turning away from me! Now's the moment!!

I circled the Chaplin horse round with great resolution and
trotted up to a wall at the side of the road; he leapt it like a
stag; we flew over the grass and the next fence; and, after a
little scrambling, I found myself in the same field with hounds.
The horse was as rough as the boy said, but a wonderful hunter; it
could not put a foot wrong; we had a great gallop over the walls,
which only a few of the field saw.

When hounds checked, I was in despair; all sorts of ladies and
gentlemen came riding towards me and I wondered painfully which of
them would be Mr. and which Mrs. Chaplin. What was I to do?
Suddenly remembering my new friend and patron, I peered about for
the Duke; when I found him and told him of the awkward
circumstances in which I had placed myself, he was so much amused
that he made my peace with the Chaplins, who begged me to go on
riding their horse. They were not less susceptible to dukes than
other people and in any case no one was proof against the old Duke
of Beaufort. At the end of the day I was given the brush--a
fashion completely abandoned in the hunting-field now--and I went
home happy and tired.



Although I did not do much thinking over my education, others did
it for me.

I had been well grounded by a series of short-stayed governesses
in the Druids and woad, in Alfred and the cakes, Romulus and Remus
and Bruce and the spider. I could speak French well and German a
little; and I knew a great deal of every kind of literature from
Tristram Shandy and The Antiquary to Under Two Flags and The
Grammarian's Funeral; but the governesses had been failures and,
when Lucy married, my mother decided that Laura and I should go to

Mademoiselle de Mennecy--a Frenchwoman of ill-temper and a lively
mind--had opened a hyper-refined seminary in Gloucester Crescent,
where she undertook to "finish" twelve young ladies. My father had
a horror of girls' schools (and if he could "get through"--to use
the orthodox expression of the spookists--he would find all his
opinions on this subject more than justified by the manners,
morals and learning of the young ladies of the present day) but as
it was a question of only a few months he waived his objection.

No. 7 Gloucester Crescent looked down on the Great Western
Railway; the lowing of cows, the bleating of sheep and sudden
shrill whistles and other odd sounds kept me awake, and my bed
rocked and trembled as the vigorous trains passed at uncertain
intervals all through the night. This, combined with sticky food,
was more than Laura could bear and she had no difficulty in
persuading my papa that if she were to stay longer than one week
her health would certainly suffer. I was much upset when she left
me, but faintly consoled by receiving permission to ride in the
Row three times a week; Mlle. de Mennecy thought my beautiful hack
gave prestige to her front door and raised no objections.

Sitting alone in the horsehair schoolroom, with a French patent-
leather Bible in my hands, surrounded by eleven young ladies, made
my heart sink. "Et le roi David deplut a l' Eternel," I heard in a
broad Scotch accent; and for the first time I looked closely at my
stable companions.

Mlle. de Mennecy allowed no one to argue with her; and our first
little brush took place after she informed me of this fact.

"But in that case, mademoiselle," said I, "how are any of us to
learn anything? I don't know how much the others know, but I know
nothing except what I've read; so, unless I ask questions, how am
I to learn?"

MLLE. DE MENNECY: "Je ne vous ai jamais defendu de me questionner;
vous n'ecoutez pas, mademoiselle. J'ai dit qu'il ne fallait pas
discuter avec moi."

MARGOT (keenly): "But, mademoiselle, discussion is the only way of
making lessons interesting."

MLLE. DE MENNECY (with violence): "Voulez-vous vous taire?"

To talk to a girl of nearly seventeen in this way was so
unintelligent that I made up my mind I would waste neither time
nor affection on her.

None of the girls were particularly clever, but we all liked each
other and for the first time--and I may safely say the last--I was
looked upon as a kind of heroine. It came about in this way: Mlle.
de Mennecy was never wrong. To quote Miss Fowler's admirable
saying a propos of her father, "She always let us have her own
way." If the bottle of ink was upset, or the back of a book burst,
she never waited to find out who had done it, but in a torrent of
words crashed into the first girl she suspected, her face becoming
a silly mauve and her bust heaving with passion. This made me so
indignant that, one day when the ink was spilt and Mlle. de
Mennecy as usual scolded the wrong girl, I determined I would
stand it no longer. Meeting the victim of Mademoiselle's temper in
the passage, I said to her:

"But why didn't you say you hadn't done it, ass!"

GIRL (catching her sob): "What was the good! She never listens;
and I would only have had to tell her who really spilt the ink."

This did seem a little awkward, so I said to her:

"That would never have done! Very well, then, I will go and put
the thing right for you, but tell the girls they must back me.
She's a senseless woman and I can't think why you are all so
frightened of her."

GIRL: "It's all very well for you! Madmozell is a howling snob,
you should have heard her on you before you came! She said your
father would very likely be made a peer and your sister Laura
marry Sir Charles Dilke." (The thought of this overrated man
marrying Laura was almost more than I could bear, but curiosity
kept me silent, and she continued.) "You see, she is far nicer to
you than to us, because she is afraid you may leave her."

Not having thought of this before, I said:

"Is that really true? What a horrible woman! Well, I had better go
and square it up; but will you all back me? Now don't go fretting
on and making yourself miserable."

GIRL: "I don't so much mind what you call her flux-de-bouche
scolding, but, when she flounced out of the room, she said I was
not to go home this Saturday."

MARGOT: "Oh, that'll be all right. Just you go off." (Exit girl,
drying her eyes.)

It had never occurred to me that Mlle. de Mennecy was a snob: this
knowledge was a great weapon in my hands and I determined upon my
plan of action. I hunted about in my room till I found one of my
linen overalls, heavily stained with dolly dyes. After putting it
on, I went and knocked at Mlle. de Mennecy's door and opening it

"Mademoiselle, I'm afraid you'll be very angry, but it was I who
spilt the ink and burst the back of your dictionary. I ought to
have told you at once, I know, but I never thought any girl would
be such an image as to let you scold her without telling you she
had not done it." Seeing a look of suspicion on her sunless face,
I added nonchalantly, "Of course, if you think my conduct sets a
bad example in your school, I can easily go!"

I observed her eyelids flicker and I said:

"I think, before you scolded Sarah, you might have heard what she
had to say."

MLLE. DE MENNECY: "Ce que vous dites me choque profondement; il
m'est difficile de croire que vous avez fait une pareille lachete,

MARGOT (protesting with indignation): "Hardly lachete,
Mademoiselle! I only knew a few moments ago that you had been so
amazingly unjust. Directly I heard it, I came to you; but as I
said before, I am quite prepared to leave."

MLLE. DE MENNECY (feeling her way to a change of front): "Sarah
s'est conduite si heroiquement que pour le moment je n'insiste
plus. Je vous felicite, mademoiselle, sur votre franchise; vous
pouvez rejoindre vos camarades."

The Lord had delivered her into my hands.

One afternoon, when our instructress had gone to hear Princess
Christian open a bazaar, I was smoking a cigarette on the
schoolroom balcony which overlooked the railway line.

It was a beautiful evening, and a wave of depression came over me.
Our prettiest pupil, Ethel Brydson, said to me:

"Time is up! We had better go in and do our preparation. There
would be the devil to pay if you were caught with that cigarette."

I leant over the balcony blowing smoke into the air in a vain
attempt to make rings, but, failing, kissed my hand to the sky and
with a parting gesture cursed the school and expressed a vivid
desire to go home and leave Gloucester Crescent for ever.

ETHEL (pulling my dress): "Good gracious, Margot! Stop kissing
your hand! Don't you see that man?"

I looked down and to my intense amusement saw an engine-driver
leaning over the side of his tender, kissing his hand to me. I
strained over the balcony and kissed both mine back to him, after
which I returned to the school-room.

Our piano was placed in the window and, the next morning, while
Ethel was arranging her music preparatory to practising, it
appeared my friend the engine-driver began kissing his hand to
her. It was eight o'clock and Mlle. de Mennecy was pinning on her
twists in the window.

I had finished my toilette and was sitting in the reading-room,
learning the passage chosen by our elocution master for the final
competition in recitation.

My fingers were in my ears and I was murmuring in dramatic tones:

"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears, I come to bury
Caesar, not to praise him. ..."

The girls came in and out, but I never noticed them; and when the
breakfast bell rang, I shoved the book into my desk and ran
downstairs to breakfast. I observed that Ethel's place was empty;
none of the girls looked at me, but munched their bread and sipped
their tepid tea while Mademoiselle made a few frigid general
remarks and, after saying a French grace, left the room.

"Well," said I, "what's the row?"


MARGOT (looking from face to face): "Ah! The mot d'ordre is that
you are not to speak to me. Is that the idea?"


MARGOT (vehemently, with bitterness): "This is exactly what I
thought would happen at a girls' school--that I should find myself
boycotted and betrayed."

FIRST GIRL (bursting out): "Oh, Margot, it's not that at all! It's
because Ethel won't betray you that we are all to be punished to-

MARGOT: "What! Collective punishment? And I am the only one to get
off? How priceless! Well, I must say this is Mlle. de Mennecy's
first act of justice. I've been so often punished for all of you
that I'm sure you won't mind standing me this little outing! Where
is Ethel? Why don't you answer? (Very slowly) Oh, all right! I
have done with you! And I shall leave this very day, so help me

On hearing that Mlle. de Mennecy had dismissed Ethel on the spot
because the engine-driver had kissed his hand to her, I went
immediately and told her the whole story; all she answered was
that I was such a liar she did not believe a word I said.

I assured her that I was painfully truthful by nature, but her
circular and senseless punishments had so frightened the girls
that lying had become the custom of the place and I felt in honour
bound to take my turn in the lies and the punishments. After which
I left the room and the school.

On my arrival in Grosvenor Square I told my parents that I must go
home to Glen, as I felt suffocated by the pettiness and
conventionality of my late experience. The moderate teaching and
general atmosphere of Gloucester Crescent had depressed me, and
London feels airless when one is out of spirits: in any case it
can never be quite a home to any one born in Scotland.

The only place I look upon as home which does not belong to me is
Archerfield [Footnote: Archerfield belonged to Mrs. Hamilton
Ogilvie, of Beale.]--a house near North Berwick, in which we
lived for seven years. After Glen and my cottage in Berkshire,
Archerfield is the place I love best in the world. I was both
happier and more miserable there than I have ever been in my life.
Just as William James has written on varieties of religious
experience, so I could write on the varieties of my moral and
domestic experiences at that wonderful place. If ever I were to be
as unhappy again as I was there, I would fly to the shelter of
those Rackham woods, seek isolation on those curving coasts where
the gulls shriek and dive and be ultimately healed by the beauty
of the anchored seas which bear their islands like the Christ
Child on their breasts.

Unfortunately for me, my father had business which kept him in
London. He was in treaty with Lord Gerard to buy his uninteresting
house in an uninteresting square. The only thing that pleased me
in Grosvenor Square was the iron gate. When I could not find the
key of the square and wanted to sit out with my admirers, after
leaving a ball early, I was in the habit of climbing over these
gates in my tulle dress. This was a feat which was attended by
more than one risk: if you did not give a prominent leap off the
narrow space from the top of the gate, you would very likely be
caught up by the tulle fountain of your dress, in which case you
might easily lose your life; or, if you did not keep your eye on
the time, you would very likely be caught by an early house-maid,
in which case you might easily lose your reputation. No one is a
good judge of her own reputation, but I like to think that those
iron gates were the silent witnesses of my milder manner.

My father, however, loved Grosvenor Square and, being anxious that
Laura and I should come out together, bought the house in 1881.

No prodigal was ever given a warmer welcome than I was when I left
the area of the Great Western Railway; but the problem of how to
finish my education remained and I was determined that I would not
make my debut till I was eighteen. What with reading, hunting and
falling in love at Easton Grey, I was not at all happy and wanted
to be alone.

I knew no girls and had no friends except my sisters and was not
eager to talk to them about my affairs; I never could at any time
put all of myself into discussion which degenerates into gossip. I
had not formed the dangerous habit of writing good letters about
myself, dramatizing the principal part. I shrank then, as I do
now, from exposing the secrets and sensations of life. Reticence
should guard the soul and only those who have compassion should be
admitted to the shrine. When I peer among my dead or survey my
living friends, I see hardly any one with this quality. For the
moment my cousin Nan Tennant, Mrs. Arthur Sassoon, Mrs. James
Rothschild, Antoine Bibesco, and my son and husband are the only
people I can think of who possess it.

John Morley has, in carved letters of stone upon his chimney-
piece, Bacon's fine words, "The nobler a soul, the more objects of
compassion it hath."

When I first read them, I wondered where I could meet those souls
and I have wondered ever since. To have compassion you need
courage, you must fight for the objects of your pity and you must
feel and express tenderness towards all men. You will not meet
disinterested emotion, though you may seek it all your life, and
you will seldom find enough pity for the pathos of life.

My husband is a man of disinterested emotion. One morning, when he
and I were in Paris, where we had gone for a holiday, I found him
sitting with his head in his hands and the newspaper on his knee.
I saw he was deeply moved and, full of apprehension, I put my arm
round him and asked if he had had bad news. He pointed to a
paragraph in the paper and I read how some of the Eton boys had
had to break the bars of their windows to escape from fire and
others had been burnt to death. We knew neither a boy nor the
parent of any boy at Eton at that time, but Henry's eyes were full
of tears, and he could not speak.

I had the same experience with him over the wreck of the Titanic.
When we read of that challenging, luxurious ship at bay in the
ice-fields and the captain sending his unanswered signals to the
stars, we could not sit through dinner.

I knew no one of this kind of sympathy in my youth, and my father
was too busy and my mother too detached for me to have told them
anything. I wanted to be alone and I wanted to learn. After
endless talks it was decided that I should go to Germany for four
or five months and thus settle the problem of an unbegun but
finishing education.

Looking back on this decision, I think it was a remarkable one. I
had a passion for dancing and my father wanted me to go to balls;
I had a genius for horses and adored hunting; I had such a
wonderful hack that every one collected at the Park rails when
they saw me coming into the Row; but all this did not deflect me
from my purpose and I went to Dresden alone with a stupid maid at
a time when--if not in England, certainly in Germany--I might
have passed as a moderate beauty.



Frau von Mach kept a ginger-coloured lodging-house high up in
Luttichau-strasse. She was a woman of culture and refinement; her
mother had been English and her husband, having gone mad in the
Franco-Prussian war, had left her penniless with three children.
She had to work for her living and she cooked and scrubbed without
a thought for herself from dawn till dark.

There were thirteen pianos on our floor and two or three permanent
lodgers. The rest of the people came and went--men, women and boys
of every nationality, professionals and amateurs--but I was too
busy to care or notice who went or who came.

Although my mother was bold and right to let me go as a bachelor
to Dresden, I could not have done it myself. Later on, like every
one else, I sent my stepdaughter and daughter to be educated in
Germany for a short time, but they were chaperoned by a woman of
worth and character, who never left them: my German nursery-
governess, who came to me when Elizabeth was four.

In parenthesis, I may mention that, in the early terrible days of
the war, our thoughtful Press, wishing to make money out of public
hysteria, had the bright idea of turning this simple, devoted
woman into a spy. There was not a pressman who did not laugh in
his sleeve at this and openly make a stunt of it, but it had its
political uses; and, after the Russians had been seen with snow on
their boots by everyone in England, the gentlemen of the Press
calculated that almost anything would be believed if it could be
repeated often enough. And they were right: the spiteful and the
silly disseminated lies about our governess from door to door with
the kind of venom that belongs in equal proportions to the
credulous, the cowards and the cranks. The greenhorns believed it
and the funkers, who saw a plentiful crop of spies in every bush,
found no difficulty in mobilising their terrors from my governess
--already languishing in the Tower of London--to myself, who
suddenly became a tennis-champion and an habituee of the German
officers' camps!

The Dresden of my day was different from the Dresden of twenty
years after. I never saw an English person the whole time I was
there. After settling into my new rooms, I wrote out for myself a
severe Stundenplan, which I pinned over my head next to my alarm-
clock. At 6 every morning I woke up and dashed into the kitchen to
have coffee with the solitary slavey; after that I practised the
fiddle or piano till 8.30, when we had the pension breakfast; and
the rest of the day was taken up by literature, drawing and other
lessons. I went to concerts or the opera by myself every night.

One day Frau von Mach came to me greatly disdressed by a letter
she had received from my mother begging her to take in no men
lodgers while I was in the pension, as some of her friends in
England had told her that I might elope with a foreigner. To this
hour I do not know whether my mother was serious; but I wrote and
told her that Frau von Mach's life depended on her lodgers, that
there was only one permanent lodger--an old American called
Loring, who never spoke to me--and that I had no time to elope.
Many and futile were the efforts to make me return home; but,
though I wrote to England regularly, I never alluded to any of
them, as they appeared childish to me.

I made great friends with Frau von Mach and in loose moments sat
on her kitchen-table smoking cigarettes and eating black cherries;
we discussed Shakespeare, Wagner, Brahms, Middlemarch, Bach and
Hegel, and the time flew.

One night I arrived early at the Opera House and was looking about
while the fiddles were tuning up. I wore my pearls and a scarlet
crepe-de-chine dress and a black cloth cape with a hood on it,
which I put on over my head when I walked home in the rain. I was
having a frank stare at the audience, when I observed just
opposite me an officer in a white uniform. As the Saxon soldiers
wore pale blue, I wondered what army he could belong to.

He was a fine-looking young man, with tailor-made shoulders, a
small waist and silver and black on his sword-belt. When he turned
to the stage, I looked at him through my opera-glasses. On closer
inspection, he was even handsomer than I had thought. A lady
joined him in the box and he took off her cloak, while she stood
up gazing down at the stalls, pulling up her long black gloves.
She wore a row of huge pearls, which fell below her waist, and a
black jet decollete dress. Few people wore low dresses at the
opera and I saw half the audience fixing her with their glasses.
She was evidently famous. Her hair was fox-red and pinned back on
each side of her temples with Spanish combs of gold and pearls;
she surveyed the stalls with cavernous eyes set in a snow-white
face; and in her hand she held a bouquet of lilac orchids. She was
the best-looking woman I saw all the time I was in Germany and I
could not take my eyes off her. The white officer began to look
about the opera-house when my red dress caught his eye. He put up
his glasses, and I instantly put mine down. Although the lights
were lowered for the overture, I saw him looking at me for some

I had been in the habit of walking about in the entr'actes and,
when the curtain dropped at the end of the first act, I left the
box. It did not take me long to identify the white officer. He was
not accompanied by his lady, but stood leaning against the wall
smoking a cigar and talking to a man; as I passed him I had to
stop for a moment for fear of treading on his outstretched toes.
He pulled himself erect to get out of my way; I looked up and our
eyes met; I don't think I blush easily, but something in his gaze
may have made me blush. I lowered my eyelids and walked on.

The Meistersinger was my favourite opera and so it appeared to be
of the Dresdeners; Wagner, having quarrelled with the authorities,
refused to allow the Ring to be played in the Dresden Opera House;
and every one was tired of the swans and doves of Lohengrin and

There was a great crowd that night and, as it was raining when we
came out, I hung about, hoping to get a cab; I saw my white
officer with his lady, but he did not see me; I heard him before
he got into the brougham give elaborate orders to the coachman to
put him down at some club.

After waiting for some time, as no cab turned up, I pulled the
hood of my cloak over my head and started to walk home; when the
crowd scattered I found myself alone and I turned into a little
street which led into Luttichau-strasse. Suddenly I became aware
that I was being followed; I heard the even steps and the click of
spurs of some one walking behind me; I should not have noticed
this had I not halted under a lamp to pull on my hood, which the
wind had blown off. When I stopped, the steps also stopped. I
walked on, wondering if it had been my imagination, and again I
heard the click of spurs coming nearer. The street being deserted,
I was unable to endure it any longer; I turned round and there was
the officer. His black cloak hanging loosely over his shoulders
showed me the white uniform and silver belt. He saluted me and
asked me in a curious Belgian French if he might accompany me
home. I said:

"Oh, certainly! But I am not at all nervous in the dark."

OFFICER (stopping under the lamp to light a cigarette): "You like
Wagner? Do you know him well? I confess I find him long and loud."

MARGOT: "He is a little long, but so wonderful!"

OFFICER: "Don't you feel tired? (With emphasis) _I_ DO!"

MARGOT: "No, I'm not at all tired."

OFFICER: "You would not like to go and have supper with me in a
private room in a hotel, would you?"

MARGOT: "You are very kind, but I don't like supper; besides, it
is late. (Leaving his side to look at the number on the door) I am
afraid we must part here."

OFFICER (drawing a long breath): "But you said I might take you

MARGOT (with a slow smile): "I know I did, but this is my home."

He looked disappointed and surprised, but taking my hand he kissed
it, then stepping back saluted and said:

"Pardonnez-moi, mademoiselle."

 My second adventure occurred on my way back to England. After a
little correspondence, my mother allowed me to take Frau von Mach
with me to Berlin to hear the Ring der Nibelungen. She and I were
much excited at this little outing, in honour of which I had
ordered her a new black satin dress. German taste is like German
figures, thick and clumsy, and my dear old friend looked like a
hold-all in my gift.

When we arrived in Berlin I found my room in the hotel full of
every kind of flower; and on one of the bouquets was placed the
card of our permanent lodger, Mr. Loring. I called out to Frau von
Mach, who was unpacking:

"Do come here, dearest, and look at my wonderful roses! You will
never guess who they come from!"

FRAU VON MACH (looking rather guilty): "I think I can guess."

MARGOT: "I see you know! But who would have dreamt that an old
maid like Loring would have thought of such gallantry?"

FRAU VON MACH: "But surely, dear child, you knew that he admired

MARGOT: "Admired me! You must be cracked! I never remember his
saying a civil word to me the whole time I was in Dresden. Poor
mamma! If she were here now she would feel that her letter to you
on the danger of my elopement was amply justified!"

Frau von Mach and I sat side by side at the opera; and on my left
was a German officer. In front of us there was a lady with
beautiful hair and diamond grasshoppers in it; her two daughters
sat on either side of her.

Everything was conducted in the dark and it was evident that the
audience was strung up to a high pitch of expectant emotion, for,
when I whispered to Frau von Mach, the officer on my left said,
"Hush!" which I thought extremely rude. Several men in the stalls,
sitting on the nape of their necks, had covered their faces with
pocket-handkerchiefs, which I thought infinitely ridiculous,
bursting as they were with beef and beer. My musical left was only
a little less good-looking than the white officer. He kept a rigid
profile towards me and squashed up into a corner to avoid sharing
an arm of the stall with me. As we had to sit next to each other
for four nights running, I found this a little exaggerated.

I was angry with myself for dropping my fan and scent-bottle; the
lady picked up the bottle and the officer the fan. The lady gave
me back my bottle and, when the curtain fell, began talking to me.

She had turned round once or twice during the scene to look at me.
I found her most intelligent; she knew England and had heard
Rubinstein and Joachim play at the Monday Pops. She had been to
the Tower of London, Madame Tussaud's and Lord's.

The officer kept my fan in his hands and, instead of going out in
the entr'acte, stayed and listened to our conversation. When the
curtain went up and the people returned to their seats, he still
held my fan. In the next interval the lady and the girls went out
and my left-hand neighbour opened conversation with me. He said in
perfect English:

"Are you really as fond of this music as you appear to be?"

To which I replied:

"You imply I am humbugging! I never pretend anything; why should
you think I do? I don't lean back perspiring or cover my face with
a handkerchief as your compatriots are doing, it is true, but..."

HE (interrupting): "I am very glad of that! Do you think you would
recognise a motif if I wrote one for you?"

Feeling rather nettled, I said:

"You must think me a perfect gowk if you suppose I should not
recognise any motif in any opera of Wagner!"

I said this with a commanding gesture, but I was far from
confident that he would not catch me out. He opened his cigarette-
case, took out a visiting card and wrote the Schlummermotif on the
back before giving it to me. After telling him what the motif was,
I looked at his very long name on the back of the card: Graf von--

Seeing me do this, he said with a slight twinkle:

"Won't you write me a motif now?"

MARGOT: "Alas! I can't write music and to save my life could not
do what you have done; are you a composer?"

GRAF VON--: "I shan't tell you what I am--especially as I have
given you my name--till you tell me who you are."

MARGOT: "I'm a young lady at large!"

At this, Frau von Mach nudged me; I thought she wanted to be
introduced, so I looked at his name and said seriously:

"Graf von--, this is my friend Frau von Mach."

He instantly stood up, bent his head and, clicking his heels, said
to her:

"Will you please introduce me to this young lady?"

FRAU VON MACH (with a smile): "Certainly. Miss Margot Tennant."

GRAF VON--: "I hope, mademoiselle, you will forgive me thinking
your interest in Wagner might not be as great as it appeared, but
it enabled me to introduce myself to you."

MARGOT: "Don't apologise, you have done me a good turn, for I
shall lie back and cover my face with a handkerchief all through
this next act to convince you."

GRAF VON--: "That would be a heavy punishment for me... and
incidentally for this ugly audience."

On the last night of the Ring, I took infinite trouble with my
toilette. When we arrived at the theatre neither the lady, her
girls, nor the Graf were there. I found an immense bouquet on my
seat, of yellow roses with thick clusters of violets round the
stalk, the whole thing tied up with wide Parma violet ribbons. It
was a wonderful bouquet. I buried my face in the roses, wondering
why the Graf was so late, fervently hoping that the lady and her
daughters would not turn up: no Englishman would have thought of
giving one flowers in this way, said I to myself. The curtain! How
very tiresome! The doors would all be shut now, as late-comers
were not allowed to disturb the Gotterdammerung. The next day I
was to travel home, which depressed me; my life would be different
in London and all my lessons were over for ever! What could have
happened to the Graf, the lady and her daughters? Before the
curtain rose for the last act, he arrived and, flinging off his
cloak, said breathlessly to me:

"You can't imagine how furious I am! To-night of all nights we had
a regimental dinner! I asked my colonel to let me slip off early,
or I should not be here now; I had to say good-bye to you. Is it
true then? Are you really off to-morrow?"

MARGOT (pressing the bouquet to her face, leaning faintly towards
him and looking into his eyes): "Alas, yes! I will send you
something from England so that you mayn't quite forget me. I won't
lean back and cover my head with a handkerchief to-night, but if I
hide my face in these divine roses now and then, you will forgive
me and understand."

He said nothing but looked a little perplexed. We had not observed
the curtain rise but were rudely reminded of it by a lot of angry
"Hush's" all round us. He clasped his hands together under his
chin, bending his head down on them and taking up both arms of the
stall with his elbows. When I whispered to him, he did not turn
his head at all but just cocked his ear down to me. Was he
pretending to be more interested in Wagner than he really was?"

I buried my face in my roses, the curtain dropped. It was all

GRAF VON--(turning to me and looking straight into my eyes): "If
it is true what you said, that you know no one in Berlin, what a
wonderful compliment the lady with the diamond grasshoppers has
paid you!"

He took my bouquet, smelt the roses and, giving it back to me with
a sigh, said:




When I first came out in London we had no friends of fashion to
get me invitations to balls and parties. The Walters, who were my
mother's rich relations, in consequence of a family quarrel were
not on speaking terms with us; and my prospects looked by no means

One day I was lunching with an American to whom I had been
introduced in the hunting-field and found myself sitting next to a
stranger. Hearing that he was Arthur Walter, I thought that it
would be fun to find out his views upon my family and his own. He
did not know who I was, so I determined I would enjoy what looked
like being a long meal. We opened in this manner:

MARGOT: "I see you hate Gladstone!"

ARTHUR WALTER: "Not at all. I hate his politics."

MARGOT: "I didn't suppose you hated the man."

ARTHUR WALTER: "I am ashamed to say I have never even seen him or
heard him speak, but I entirely agree that for the Duke of
Westminster to have sold the Millais portrait of him merely
because he does not approve of Home Rule shows great pettiness! I
have of course never seen the picture as it was bought privately."

MARGOT: "The Tennants bought it, so I suppose you could easily see

ARTHUR WALTER: "I regret to say that I cannot ever see this

MARGOT: "Why not?"

ARTHUR WALTER: "Because though the Tennants are relations of mine,
our family quarrelled."

MARGOT: "What did they quarrel over?"

ARTHUR WALTER: "Oh, it's a long story! Perhaps relations quarrel
because they are too much alike."

MARGOT: "You are not in the least like the Tennants!"

ARTHUR WALTER: "What makes you say that? Do you know them?"

MARGOT: "Yes, I do."

ARTHUR WALTER: "In that case perhaps you could take me to see the

MARGOT: "Oh, certainly! ... And I know Mr. Gladstone too!"

ARTHUR WALTER: "What a fortunate young lady! Perhaps you could
manage to take me to see him also."

MARGOT: "All right. If you will let me drive you away from lunch
in my phaeton, I will show you the Gladstone picture."

ARTHUR WALTER: "Are you serious? Do you know them well enough?"

MARGOT (nodding confidently): "Yes, yes, don't you fret!"

After lunch I drove him to 40 Grosvenor Square and, when I let
myself in with my latch-key, he guessed who I was, but any
interest he might have felt in this discovery was swamped by what

I opened the library door. Mr. Gladstone was sitting talking to my
parents under his own portrait. After the introduction he
conversed with interest and courtesy to my new relation about the
Times newspaper, its founder and its great editor, Delane.

 What I really enjoyed most in London was riding in the Row. I
bought a beautiful hack for myself at Tattersalls, 15.2, bright
bay with black points and so well-balanced that if I had ridden it
with my face to its tail I should hardly have known the
difference. I called it Tatts; it was bold as a lion, vain as a
peacock and extremely moody. One day, when I was mounted to ride
in the Row, my papa kept me waiting so long at the door of 40
Grosvenor Square that I thought I would ride Tatts into the front
hall and give him a call; it only meant going up one step from the
pavement to the porch and another through the double doors held
open by the footman. Unluckily, after a somewhat cautious approach
by Tatts up the last step into the marble hall, he caught his
reflection in a mirror. At this he instantly stood erect upon his
hind legs, crashing my tall hat into the crystal chandelier. His
four legs all gave way on the polished floor and down we went with
a noise like thunder, the pony on the top of me, the chandelier on
the top of him and my father and the footman helpless spectators.
I was up and on Tatts' head in a moment, but not before he had
kicked a fine old English chest into a jelly. This misadventure
upset my father's temper and my pony's nerve, as well as
preventing me from dancing for several days.

My second scrape was more serious. I engaged myself to be married.

If any young "miss" reads this autobiography and wants a little
advice from a very old hand, I will say to her, when a man
threatens to commit suicide after you have refused him, you may be
quite sure that he is a vain, petty fellow or a great goose; if
you felt any doubts about your decision before, you need have none
after this and under no circumstances must you give way. To marry
a man out of pity is folly; and, if you think you are going to
influence the kind of fellow who has "never had a chance, poor
devil," you are profoundly mistaken. One can only influence the
strong characters in life, not the weak; and it is the height of
vanity to suppose that you can make an honest man of any one. My
fiance was neither petty nor a goose, but a humorist; I do not
think he meant me to take him seriously, but in spite of my high
spirits I was very serious, and he was certainly more in love with
me than any one had ever been before. He was a fine rider and gave
me a mount with the Beaufort hounds.

When I told my mother of my engagement, she sank upon a settee,
put a handkerchief to her eyes, and said:

"You might as well marry your groom!"

I struggled very hard to show her how worldly she was. Who wanted
money? Who wanted position? Who wanted brains? Nothing in fact was
wanted, except my will!

I was much surprised, a few days later, to hear from G., whom I
met riding in the Row, that he had called every day of the week
but been told by the footman that I was out. The under-butler, who
was devoted to me, said sadly, when I complained:

"I am afraid, miss, your young gentleman has been forbidden the

Forbidden the house! I rushed to my sister Charty and found her
even more upset than my mother. She pointed out with some truth
that Lucy's marriage and the obstinacy with which she had pursued
it had gone far towards spoiling her early life; but "the squire,"
as Graham Smith was called, although a character-part, was a man
of perfect education and charming manners. He had beaten all the
boys at Harrow, won a hundred steeplechases and loved books;
whereas my young man knew little about anything but horses and,
she added, would be no companion to me when I was ill or old.

I flounced about the room and said that forbidding him the house
was grotesque and made me ridiculous in the eyes of the servants.
I ended a passionate protest by telling her gravely that if I
changed my mind he would undoubtedly commit suicide. This awful
news was received with an hilarity which nettled me.

CHARTY: "I should have thought you had too much sense of humour
and Mr. G. too much common sense for either of you to believe
this. He must think you very vain. ..."

I did not know at all what she meant and said with the utmost

"The terrible thing is I believe that I have given him a false
impression of my feelings for him; for, though I love him very
much, I would never have promised to marry him if he had not said
he was going to kill himself." Clasping my two hands together and
greatly moved, I concluded, "If I break it off now and ANYTHING
SHOULD happen, my life is over and I shall feel as if I had
murdered him."

CHARTY (looking at me with a tender smile): "I should risk it,

A propos of vanity, in the interests of my publisher I must here
digress and relate the two greatest compliments that I ever had
paid to me. Although I cannot listen to reading out loud, I have
always been fond of sermons and constantly went to hear Canon
Eyton, a great preacher, who collected large and attentive
congregations in his church in Sloane Street. I nearly always went
alone, as my family preferred listening to Stopford Brooke or
going to our pew in St. George's, Hanover Square.

One of my earliest recollections is of my mother and father taking
me to hear Liddon preach; I remember nothing at all about it
except that I swallowed a hook and eye during the service: not a
very flattering tribute to the great divine!

Eyton was a striking preacher and his church was always crowded. I
had to stand a long time before I could ever get a seat. One
morning I received this letter:


I hope you will excuse this written by a stranger. I have often
observed you listening to the sermon in our church. My wife and I
are going abroad, so we offer you our pew; you appear to admire
Eyton's preaching as much as we do--we shall be very glad if you
can use it.

Yours truly,


The other compliment was also a letter from a stranger. It was
dirty and misspelt, and enclosed a bill from an undertaker; the
bill came to seven pounds and the letter ran as follows:

Honoured Miss father passed away quite peaceful last Saturday, he
set store by his funeral and often told us as much sweeping a
crossing had paid him pretty regular, but he left nothing as one
might speak of, and so we was put to it for the funeral, as it
throws back so on a house not to bury your father proper, I
remember you and all he thought of you and told the undertaker to
go ahead with the thing for as you was my fathers friend I hoped
you would understand and excuse me.

This was from the son of our one-legged crossing-sweeper, and I
need hardly say I owed him a great deal more than seven pounds. He
had taken all our love-letters, presents and messages to and fro
from morning till night for years past and was a man who
thoroughly understood life.

 To return to my fiance, I knew things could not go on as they
were; scenes bored me and I was quite incapable of sustaining a
campaign of white lies; so I reassured my friends and relieved my
relations by telling the young man that I could not marry him. He
gave me his beautiful mare, Molly Bawn, sold all his hunters and
went to Australia. His hair when he returned to England two years
later was grey. I have heard of this happening, but have only
known of it twice in my life, once on this occasion and the other
time when the boiler of the Thunderer burst in her trial trip; the
engine was the first Government order ever given to my father's
firm of Humphreys & Tennant and the accident made a great
sensation. My father told me that several men had been killed and
that young Humphreys' hair had turned white. I remember this
incident very well, as when I gave Papa the telegram in the
billiard room at Glen he covered his face with his hands and sank
on the sofa in tears.

About this time Sir William Miller, a friend of the family,
suggested to my parents that his eldest son--a charming young
fellow, since dead--should marry me. I doubt if the young man knew
me by sight, but in spite of this we were invited to stay at
Manderston, much to my father's delight.

On the evening of our arrival my host said to me in his broad
Scottish accent:

"Margy, will you marry my son Jim?"

"My dear Sir William," I replied, "your son Jim has never spoken
to me in his life!"

SIR WILLIAM: "He is shy."

I assured him that this was not so and that I thought his son
might be allowed to choose for himself, adding:

"You are like my father, Sir William, and think every one wants to

SIR WILLIAM: "So they do, don't they?" (With a sly look.) "I am
sure they all want to marry you."

MARGOT (mischievously): "I wonder!"

SIR WILLIAM: "Margy, would you rather marry me or break your leg?"

MARGOT: Break both, Sir William."

After this promising beginning I was introduced to the young man.
It was impossible to pay me less attention than he did.

Sir William had two daughters, one of whom was anxious to marry a
major quartered in Edinburgh, but he was robustly and rudely
against this, in consequence of which the girl was unhappy. She
took me into her confidence one afternoon in their schoolroom.

It was dark and the door was half open, with a bright light in the
passage; Miss Miller was telling me with simple sincerity exactly
what she felt and what her father felt about the major. I suddenly
observed Sir William listening to our conversation behind the
hinges of the door. Being an enormous man, he had screwed himself
into a cramped posture and I was curious to see how long he would
stick it out. It was indique that I should bring home the
proverbial platitude that "listeners never hear any good of

MISS MILLER: "You see, there is only one real objection to him, he
is not rich!"

I told her that as she would be rich some day, it did not matter.
Why should the rich marry the rich? It was grotesque! I intended
to marry whatever kind of man I cared for and papa would
certainly find the money.

MISS MILLER (not listening): "He loves me so! And he says he will
kill himself if I give him up now."

MARGOT (with vigour): "Oh, if he is THAT sort of man, a really
brave fellow, there is only one thing for you both to do!"

MISS MILLER (leaning forward with hands clasped and looking at me
earnestly): "Oh, tell me, tell me!"

MARGOT: "Are you sure he is a man of dash? Is he really unworldly
and devoted? Not afraid of what people say?"

MISS MILLER (eagerly): "No, no! Yes, yes! He would die for me,
indeed he would, and is afraid of no one!"

MARGOT (luring her on): "I expect he is very much afraid of your

MISS MILLER (hesitating): "Papa is so rude to him."

MARGOT (with scorn): "Well, if your major is afraid of your
father, I think nothing of him!" (Slight movement behind the

MISS MILLER (impulsively): "He is afraid of no one! But Papa never
talks to him."

MARGOT (very deliberately): "Well, there is only one thing for you
to do; and that is to run away!" (Sensation behind the door.)

MISS MILLER (with determination, her eyes sparkling): "If he will
do it, I WILL! But oh, dear! ...What will people say? How they
will talk!"

MARGOT (lightly): "Oh, of course, if you care for what people say,
you will be done all through life!"

MISS MILLER: "Papa would be furious, you know, and would curse

To this I answered:

"I know your father well and I don't believe he would care a

I got up suddenly, as if going to the door, at which there was a
sound of a scuffle in the corridor.

MISS MILLER (alarmed and getting up): "What was that noise? Can
any one have been in the passage? Could they have heard us? Let us
shut the door."

MARGOT: "No, don't shut the door, it's so hot and we shan't be
able to talk alone again."

Miss MILLER (relieved and sitting down): "You are very good. ... I
must think carefully over what you have said."

MARGOT: "Anyhow, tell your major that _I_ know your father; he is
really fond of me."

MISS MILLER: "Oh, yes, I heard him ask your father if he would
exchange you for us."

MARGOT: "That's only his chaff; he is devoted to you. But what he
likes about me is my dash: nothing your papa admires so much as
courage. If the major has pluck enough to carry you off to
Edinburgh, marry you in a registrar's office and come back and
tell your family the same day, he will forgive everything, give
you a glorious allowance and you'll be happy ever after! ... Now,
my dear, I must go."

I got up very slowly, and, putting my hands on her shoulders,

"Pull up your socks, Amy!"

I need hardly say the passage was deserted when I opened the door.
I went downstairs, took up the Scotsman and found Sir William
writing in the hall. He was grumpy and restless and at last,
putting down his pen, he came up to me and said, in his broad
Scotch accent:

"Margy, will you go round the garden with me?"

"MARGY": "Yes, if we can sit down alone and have a good talk."

SIR WILLIAM (delighted): "What about the summerhouse?"

"MARGY": "All right, I'll run up and put on my hat and meet you

When we got to the summer-house he said:

"Margy, my daughter Amy's in love with a pauper."

"MARGY": "What does that matter?"

SIR WILLIAM: "He's not at all clever."

"MARGY": "How do you know?"

SIR WILLIAM: "What do you mean?"

"MARGY": "None of us are good judges of the people we dislike."

SIR WILLIAM (cautiously): "I would much like your advice on all
this affair and I want you to have a word with my girl Amy and
tell her just what you think on the matter."

"MARGY": "I have."

SIR WILLIAM: "What did she say to you?"

"MARGY": "Really, Sir William, would you have me betray

SIR WILLIAM: "Surely you can tell me what YOU said, anyway,
without betraying her."

"MARGY" (looking at him steadily): "Well, what do you suppose you
would say in the circumstances? If a well-brought-up girl told you
that she was in love with a man that her parents disliked, a man
who was unable to keep her and with no prospects..."

SIR WILLIAM (interrupting): "Never mind what I should say! What
did YOU say?"

"MARGY" (evasively): "The thing is unthinkable! Good girls like
yours could never go against their parents' wishes! Men who can't
keep their wives should not marry at all. ..."

SIR WILLIAM (with great violence, seizing my hands): "WHAT DID YOU

"MARGY" (with a sweet smile): "I'm afraid, Sir William, you are
changing your mind and, instead of leaning on my advice, you begin
to suspect it."

SIR WILLIAM (very loud and beside himself with rage): "WHAT DID

"MARGY" (coolly, putting her hand on his): "I can't think why you
are so excited! If I told you that I had said, 'Give it all up, my
dear, and don't vex your aged father,' what would you say?"

SIR WILLIAM (getting up and flinging my hand away from him):
"Hoots! You're a liar!"

"MARGY": "No, I'm not, Sir William; but, when I see people
listening at doors, I give them a run for their money."

I had another vicarious proposal. One night, dining with the
Bischoffheims, I was introduced for the first time to Baron
Hirsch, an Austrian who lived in Paris. He took me in to dinner
and a young man whom I had met out hunting sat on the other side
of me.

I was listening impressively to the latter, holding my champagne
in my hand, when the footman in serving one of the dishes bumped
my glass against my chest and all its contents went down the front
of my ball-dress. I felt iced to the bone; but, as I was thin, I
prayed profoundly that my pink bodice would escape being marked. I
continued in the same position, holding my empty glass in my hand
as if nothing had happened, hoping that no one had observed me and
trying to appear interested in the young man's description of the
awful dangers he had run when finding himself alone with hounds.

A few minutes later Baron Hirsch turned to me and said:

"Aren't you very cold?"

I said that I was, but that it did not matter; what I really
minded was spoiling my dress and, as I was not a kangaroo, I
feared the worst. After this we entered into conversation and he
told me among other things that, when he had been pilled for a
sporting club in Paris, he had revenged himself by buying the club
and the site upon which it was built, to which I observed:

"You must be very rich."

He asked me where I had lived and seemed surprised that I had
never heard of him.

The next time we met each other was in Paris. I lunched with him
and his wife and he gave me his opera box and mounted me in the
Bois de Boulogne.

One day he invited me to dine with him tete-a-tete at the Cafe
Anglais and, as my father and mother were out, I accepted. I felt
a certain curiosity about this invitation, because my host in his
letter had given me the choice of several other dates in the event
of my being engaged that night. When I arrived at the Cafe Anglais
Baron Hirsch took off my cloak and conducted me into a private
room. He reminded me of our first meeting, said that he had been
much struck by my self-control over the iced champagne and went on
to ask if I knew why he had invited me to dine with him. I said:

"I have not the slightest idea!"

BARON HIRSCH: "Because I want you to marry my son, Lucien. He is
quite unlike me, he is very respectable and hates money; he likes
books and collects manuscripts and other things, and is highly

MARGOT: "Your son is the man with the beard, who wears glasses and
collects coins, isn't he?"

BARON HIRSCH (thinking my description rather dreary): "Quite so!
You talked to him the other day at our house. But he has a
charming disposition and has been a good son; and I am quite sure
that, if you would take a little trouble, he would be devoted to
you and make you an excellent husband: he does not like society,
or racing, or any of the things that I care for."

MARGOT: "Poor man! I don't suppose he would even care much for me!
I hate coins!"

BARON HIRSCH: "Oh, but you would widen his interests! He is shy
and I want him to make a good marriage; and above all he must
marry an Englishwoman."

MARGOT: "Has he ever been in love?"

BARON HIRSCH: "No, he has never been in love; but a lot of women
make up to him and I don't want him to be married for his money by
some designing girl."

MARGOT: "Over here I suppose that sort of thing might happen; I
don't believe it would in England."

BARON HIRSCH: "How can you say such a thing to me? London society
cares more for money than any other in the world, as I know to my
cost! You may take it from me that a young man who will be as rich
as Lucien can marry almost any girl he likes."

MARGOT: "I doubt it! English girls don't marry for money!"

BARON HIRSCH: "Nonsense, my dear! They are like other people; it
is only the young that can afford to despise money!"

MARGOT: "Then I hope that I shall be young for a very long time."

BARON HIRSCH (smiling): "I don't think you will ever be
disappointed in that hope; but surely you wouldn't like to be a
poor man's wife and live in the suburbs? Just think what it would
be if you could not hunt or ride in the Row in a beautiful habit
or have wonderful dresses from Worth! You would hate to be dowdy
and obscure!"

"That," I answered energetically, "could never happen to me."

BARON HIRSCH: "Why not?"

MARGOT: "Because I have too many friends."

BARON HIRSCH: "And enemies?"

MARGOT (thoughtfully): "Perhaps. ...I don't know about that. I
never notice whether people dislike me or not. After all, you took
a fancy to me the first time we met; why should not other people
do the same? Do you think I should not improve on acquaintance?"

BARON HIRSCH: "How can you doubt that, when I have just asked you
to marry my son?"

MARGOT: "What other English girl is there that you would like for
a daughter-in-law?"

BARON HIRSCH: "Lady Katie Lambton,[Footnote: The present Duchess
of Leeds.] Durham's sister."

MARGOT: "I don't know her at all. Is she like me?"

BARON HIRSCH: "Not in the least; but you and she are the only
girls I have met that I could wish my son to marry."

I longed to know what my rival was like, but all he could tell me
was that she was lovely and clever and mignonne, to which I said:

"But she sounds exactly like me!"

This made him laugh:

"I don't believe you know in the least what you are like," he

MARGOT: "You mean I have no idea how plain I am? But what an odd
man you are! If I don't know what I'm like, I am sure you can't!
How do you know that I am not just the sort of adventuress you
dread most? I might marry your son and, so far from widening his
interests, as you suggest, keep him busy with his coins while I
went about everywhere, enjoying myself and spending all your
money. In spite of what you say, some man might fall in love with
me, you know! Some delightful, clever man. And then Lucien's
happiness would be over."

BARON HIRSCH: "I do not believe you would ever cheat your

MARGOT: "You never can tell! Would Lady Katie Lambton many for

BARON HIRSCH: "To be perfectly honest with you, I don't think she

MARGOT: "There you are! I know heaps of girls who wouldn't;
anyhow, _I_ never would!"

BARON HIRSCH: "You are in love with some one else, perhaps, are

It so happened that in the winter I had fallen in love with a man
out hunting and was counting the hours till I could meet him
again, so the question annoyed me; I thought it vulgar and said,
with some dignity:

"If I am, I have never told him so."

My dignity was lost, however, on my host, who persisted. I did not
want to give myself away, so, simulating a tone of light banter, I

"If I have not confided in the person most interested, why should
I tell YOU?" This was not one of my happiest efforts, for he
instantly replied:

"Then he IS interested in you, is he? Do I know him?"

I felt angry and told him that, because I did not want to marry
his son, it did not at all follow that my affections were engaged
elsewhere; and I added:

"I only hope that Mr. Lucien is not as curious as you are, or I
should have a very poor time; there is nothing I should hate as
much as a jealous husband."

BARON HIRSCH: "I don't believe you! If it's tiresome to have a
jealous husband, it must be humiliating to have one who is not."

I saw he was trying to conciliate me, so I changed the subject to
racing. Being a shrewd man, he thought he might find out whom I
was in love with and encouraged me to go on. I told him I knew
Fred Archer well, as we had hunted together in the Vale of White
Horse. He asked me if he had ever given me a racing tip. I told
him the following story:

One day, at Ascot, some of my impecunious Melton friends,--having
heard a rumour that Archer, who was riding in the race, had made a
bet on the result--came and begged me to find out from him what
horse was going to win. I did not listen much to them at first, as
I was staring about at the horses, the parasols and the people,
but my friends were very much in earnest and began pressing me in
lowered voices to be as quick as I could, as they thought that
Archer was on the move. It was a grilling day; most men had
handkerchiefs or cabbages under their hats; and the dried-up grass
in the Paddock was the colour of pea-soup. I saw Fred Archer
standing in his cap and jacket with his head hanging down, talking
to a well-groomed, under-sized little man, while the favourite--a
great, slashing, lazy horse--was walking round and round with the
evenness of a metronome. I went boldly up to him and reminded him
of how we had cannoned at a fence in the V.W.H. Fred Archer had a
face of carved ivory, like the top of an umbrella; he could turn
it into a mask or illuminate it with a smile; he had long thin
legs, a perfect figure and wonderful charm. He kept a secretary, a
revolver and two valets and was a god among the gentry and the
jockeys. After giving a slight wink at the under-sized man, he
turned away from him to me and, on hearing what I had to say,
whispered a magic name in my ear. ...

I was a popular woman that night in Melton.

Baron Hirsch returned to the charge later on; and I told him
definitely that I was the last girl in the world to suit his son.

It is only fair to the memory of Lucien Hirsch to say that he
never cared the least about me. He died a short time after this
and some one said to the Baron:

"What a fool Margot Tennant was not to have married your son! She
would be a rich widow now."

At which he said:

"No one would die if they married Margot Tennant."



The political event that caused the greatest sensation when I was
a girl was the murder of Mr. Burke and Lord Frederick Cavendish on
May 6, 1882. We were in London at the time; and the news came
through on a Sunday. Alfred Lyttelton told me that Lady Frederick
Cavendish's butler had broken it to her by rushing into the room

"They have knifed his lordship!"

The news spread from West to East and North to South; groups of
people stood talking in the middle of the streets without their
hats and every one felt that this terrible outrage was bound to
have consequences far beyond the punishment of the criminals.

These murders in the Phoenix Park tended to confirm Gladstone in
his belief that the Irish were people whom we did not understand
and that they had better be encouraged to govern themselves. He
hoped to convert his colleagues to a like conviction, but Mr.
Chamberlain and he disagreed.

Just as I ask myself what would have been the outcome of the Paris
Conference if the British had made the League of Nations a genuine
first plank in their programme instead of a last postscript, so I
wonder what would have happened if Chamberlain had stuck to
Gladstone at that time. Gladstone had all the playing cards--as
President Wilson had--and was not likely to under-declare his
hand, but he was a much older man and I cannot but think that if
they had remained together Chamberlain would not have been thrown
into the arms of the Tories and the reversion of the Premiership
must have gone to him. It seems strange to me that the leaders of
the great Conservative party have so often been hired bravos or
wandering minstrels with whom it can share no common conviction. I
never cease wondering why it cannot produce a man of its own
faith. There must be something inherent in its creed that produces

When Mr. Gladstone went in for Home Rule, society was rent from
top to bottom and even the most devoted friends quarrelled over
it. Our family was as much divided as any other.

One day, when Lord Spencer was staying at Glen, I was sent out of
the room at dinner for saying that Gladstone had made a Balaclava
blunder with his stupid Home Rule; we had all got so heated over
the discussion that I was glad enough to obey my papa. A few
minutes later he came out full of penitence to see if he had hurt
my feelings; he found me sitting on the billiard-table smoking one
of his best cigars. I gave him a good hug, and told him I would
join him when I had finished smoking; he said he was only too glad
that his cigars were appreciated and returned to the dining-room
in high spirits.

Events have proved that I was quite wrong about Home Rule. Now
that we have discovered what the consequences are of withholding
from Ireland the self-government which for generations she has
asked for, can we doubt that Gladstone should have been vigorously
backed in his attempt to still the controversy? As it is, our
follies in Ireland have cursed the political life of this country
for years. Some one has said, "L'Irlande est une maladie incurable
mais jamais mortelle"; and, if she can survive the present regime,
no one will doubt the truth of the saying.

In May, June and July, 1914, within three months of the war, every
donkey in London was cutting, or trying to cut us, for wishing to
settle this very same Irish question. My presence at a hall with
Elizabeth--who was seventeen--was considered not only provocative
to others but a danger to myself. All the brains of all the
landlords in Ireland, backed by half the brains of half the
landlords in England, had ranged themselves behind Sir Edward
Carson, his army and his Covenant. Earnest Irish patriots had
turned their fields into camps and their houses into hospitals;
aristocratic females had been making bandages for months, when von
Kuhlmann, Secretary of the German Embassy in London, went over to
pay his first visit to Ireland. On his return he told me with
conviction that, from all he had heard and seen out there during a
long tour, nothing but a miracle could avert civil war, to which I

"Shocking as that would be, it would not break England."

Our follies in Ireland have cursed not only the political but the
social life of this country.

It was not until the political ostracisms over Home Rule began all
over again in 1914 that I realised how powerful socially my
friends and I were in the 'eighties.

Mr. Balfour once told me that, before our particular group of
friends--generally known as the Souls--appeared in London,
prominent politicians of opposite parties seldom if ever met one
another; and he added:

"No history of our time will be complete unless the influence of
the Souls upon society is dispassionately and accurately

The same question of Home Rule that threw London back to the old
parochialisms in 1914 was at its height in 1886 and 1887; but at
our house in Grosvenor Square and later in those of the Souls,
everyone met--Randolph Churchill, Gladstone, Asquith, Morley,
Chamberlain, Balfour, Rosebery, Salisbury, Hartington, Harcourt
and, I might add, jockeys, actors, the Prince of Wales and every
ambassador in London. We never cut anybody--not even our friends
--or thought it amusing or distinguished to make people feel
uncomfortable; and our decision not to sacrifice private
friendship to public politics was envied in every capital in
Europe. It made London the centre of the most interesting society
in the world and gave men of different tempers and opposite
beliefs an opportunity of discussing them without heat and without
reporters. There is no individual or group among us powerful
enough to succeed in having a salon of this kind to-day.

The daring of that change in society cannot be over-estimated. The
unconscious and accidental grouping of brilliant, sincere and
loyal friends like ourselves gave rise to so much jealousy and
discussion that I shall devote a chapter of this book to the

It was at No. 40 Grosvenor Square that Gladstone met Lord Randolph
Churchill. The latter had made himself famous by attacking and
abusing the Grand Old Man with such virulence that every one
thought it impossible that they could ever meet in intimacy again.
I was not awed by this, but asked them to a luncheon party; and
they both accepted. I need hardly say that when they met they
talked with fluency and interest, for it was as impossible for
Gladstone to be gauche or rude as it was for any one to be ill at
ease with Randolph Churchill. The news of their lunching with us
spread all over London; and the West-end buzzed round me with
questions: all the political ladies, including the Duchess of
Manchester, were torn with curiosity to know whether Randolph was
going to join the Liberal Party. I refused to gratify their
curiosity, but managed to convey a general impression that at any
moment our ranks, having lost Mr. Chamberlain, were going to be
reinforced by Lord Randolph Churchill.

The Duchess of Manchester (who became the late Duchess of
Devonshire) was the last great political lady in London society as
I have known it. The secret of her power lay not only in her
position--many people are rich and grand, gay and clever and live
in big houses--but in her elasticity, her careful criticisms, her
sense of justice and discretion. She not only kept her own but
other people's secrets; and she added to a considerable effrontery
and intrepid courage, real kindness of heart. I have heard her
reprove and mildly ridicule all her guests, both at Compton Place
and at Chatsworth, from the Prince of Wales to the Prime Minister.
I asked her once what she thought of a certain famous lady, whose
arrogance and vulgarity had annoyed us all, to which she answered:

"I dislike her too much to be a good judge of her."

One evening, many years after the time of which I am writing, she
was dining with us, and we were talking tete-a-tete.

"Margot," she said, "you and I are very much alike."

It was impossible to imagine two more different beings than myself
and the Duchess of Devonshire--morally, physically or
intellectually--so I asked her what possible reason she had for
thinking so, to which she answered:

"We have both married angels; when Hartington dies he will go
straight to Heaven"--pointing her first finger high above her
head--"and when Mr. Asquith dies he will go straight there, too;
not so Lord Salisbury," pointing her finger with a diving movement
to the floor.

You met every one at her house, but she told me that before 1886-
1887 political opponents hardly ever saw one another and society was
much duller.

One day in 1901 my husband and I were staying at Chatsworth. There
was a huge house-party, including Arthur Balfour and Chamberlain.
Before going down to dinner, Henry came into my bedroom and told
me he had had a telegram to say that Queen Victoria was very ill
and he feared the worst; he added that it was a profound secret
and that I was to tell no one. After dinner I was asked by the
Duchess' granddaughters--Lady Aldra and Lady Mary Acheson--to join
them at planchette, so, to please them, I put my hand upon the
board. I was listening to what the Duchess was saying, and my mind
was a blank. After the girls and I had scratched about for a
little time, one of them took the paper off the board and read out

"The Queen is dying." She added, "What Queen can that be?"

We gathered round her and all looked at the writing; and there I
read distinctly out of a lot of hieroglyphics:

"The Queen is dying."

If the three of us had combined to try to write this and had poked
about all night, we could not have done it.

I have had many interesting personal experiences of untraceable
communication and telepathy and I think that people who set
themselves against all this side of life are excessively stupid;
but I do not connect them with religion any more than with Marconi
and I shall always look upon it as a misfortune that people can be
found sufficiently material to be consoled by the rubbish they
listen to in the dark at expensive seances.

At one time, under the influence of Mr. Percy Wyndham, Frederic
Myers and Edmund Gurney (the last-named a dear friend with whom I
corresponded for some months before he committed suicide), Laura
and I went through a period of "spooks." There was no more
delightful companion than Mr. Percy Wyndham; he adored us and,
though himself a firm believer in the spirit world, he did not
resent it if others disagreed with him. We attended every kind of
seance and took the matter up quite seriously.

Then, as now, everything was conducted in the dark. The famous
medium of that day was a Russian Jewess, Madame Blavatsky by name.
We were asked to meet her at tea, in the dining-room of a private
house in Brook Street, a non-professional affair, merely a little
gathering to hear her views upon God. On our arrival I had a good
look at her heavy, white face, as deeply pitted with smallpox as a
solitaire board, and I wondered if she hailed from Moscow or
Margate. She was tightly surrounded by strenuous and palpitating
ladies and all the blinds were up. Seeing no vacant seat near her,
I sat down upon a low, stuffed chair in the window. After making a
substantial tea, she was seen to give a sobbing and convulsive
shudder, which caused the greatest excitement; the company closed
up round her in a circle of sympathy and concern. When pressed to
say why her bust had heaved and eyelids flickered, she replied:

"A murderer has passed below our windows." The awe-struck ladies
questioned her reverently but ardently as to how she knew and what
she felt. Had she visualised him? Would she recognise the guilty
one if she saw him and, after recognising him, feel it on her
conscience if she did not give him up to the law? One lady
proposed that we should all go round to the nearest police-station
and added that a case of this kind, if proved, would do more to
dispell doubts on spirits than all the successful raps, taps,
turns and tables. Being the only person in the window at the time,
I strained my eyes up and down Brook Street to see the murderer,
but there was not a creature in sight.

Madame Blavatsky turned out to be an audacious swindler.

To return to Chatsworth: our host, the Duke of Devonshire, was a
man whose like we shall never see again; he stood by himself and
could have come from no country in the world but England. He had
the figure and appearance of an artisan, with the brevity of a
peasant, the courtesy of a king and the noisy sense of humour of a
Falstaff. He gave a great, wheezy guffaw at all the right things,
and was possessed of endless wisdom. He was perfectly disengaged
from himself, fearlessly truthful and without pettiness of any

Bryan, the American politician, who came over here and heard all
our big guns speak--Rosebery, Chamberlain, Asquith, etc.--when
asked what he thought, said that a Chamberlain was not unknown to
them in America, and that they could produce a Rosebery or an
Asquith, but that a Hartington no man could find. His speaking was
the finest example of pile-driving the world had ever seen.

After the Prince and Princess of Wales, the Duke and his wife were
the great social, semi-political figures of my youth. One day
they came to pay us a visit in Cavendish Square, having heard that
our top storey had been destroyed by fire. They walked round the
scorched walls of the drawing-room, with the blue sky overhead,
and stopped in front of a picture of a race-horse, given to me on
my wedding day by my habit-maker, Alexander Scott (a Scotchman who
at my suggestion had made the first patent safety riding-skirt).
The Duke said:

"I am sorry that your Zoffany and Longhi were burnt, but I myself
would far rather have the Herring." [Footnote: A portrait by J. F.
Herring, sen., of Rockingham, winner of the St. Leger Stakes,
1833, ridden by Sam Darling.]

The Duchess laughed at this and asked me if my baby had suffered
from shock, adding:

"I should be sorry if my little friend, Elizabeth, has had a

I told her that luckily she was out of London at the time of the
fire. When the Duchess got back to Devonshire House, she sent
Elizabeth two tall red wax candles, with a note in which she said:

"When you brought your little girl here, she wanted the big red
candles in my boudoir and I gave them to her; they must have
melted in the fire, so I send her these new ones."

I was walking alone on the high road at Chatsworth one afternoon
in winter, while the Duchess was indoors playing cards, when I saw
the family barouche, a vast vehicle which swung and swayed on C-
springs, stuck in the middle of a ploughed field, the horses
plunging about in unsuccessful efforts to drag the wheels out of
the mud. The coachman was accompanied by a page, under life size.
Observing their dilemma, I said:

"Hullo, you're in a nice fix! What induced you to go into that

The coachman, who knew me well, explained that they had met a
hearse in the narrow part of the road and, as her Grace's orders
were that no carriage was to pass a funeral if it could be
avoided, he had turned into the field, where the mud was so deep
and heavy that they were stuck. It took me some time to get
assistance; but, after I had unfastened the bearing-reins and
mobilised the yokels, the coachman, carriage and I returned safely
to the house.

Death was the only thing of which I ever saw the Duchess afraid
and, when I referred to the carriage incident and chaffed her
about it, she said:

"My dear child, do you mean to tell me you would not mind dying?
What do you feel about it?"

I answered her, in all sincerity, that I would mind more than
anything in the world, but not because I was afraid, and that
hearses did not affect me in the least.

She asked me what I was most interested in after hunting and I
said politics. I told her I had always prophesied I would marry a
Prime Minister and live in high political circles. This amused her
and we had many discussions about politics and people. She was
interested in my youth and upbringing and made me tell her about

As I have said before, we were not popular in Peeblesshire. My
papa and his vital family disturbed the country conventions; and
all Liberals were looked upon as aliens by the Scottish
aristocracy of those days. At election times the mill-hands of
both sexes were locked up for fear of rows, but in spite of this
the locks were broken and the rows were perpetual. When my father
turned out the sitting Tory, Sir Graham Montgomery, in 1880, there
were high jinks in Peebles. I pinned the Liberal colours, with the
deftness of a pick-pocket, to the coat-tails of several of the
unsuspecting Tory landlords, who had come from great distances to
vote. This delighted the electors, most of whom were feather-
stitching up and down the High Street, more familiar with drink
than jokes.

The first politicians of note that came to stay with us when I was
a girl were Chamberlain and Sir Charles Dilke. Just as, later on,
my friends (the Souls) discussed which would go farthest, George
Curzon, George Wyndham or Harry Cust, so in those days people were
asking the same question about Chamberlain and Dilke. To my mind
it wanted no witch to predict that Chamberlain would beat not only
Dilke but other men; and Gladstone made a profound mistake in not
making him a Secretary of State in his Government of 1885.

Mr. Chamberlain never deceived himself, which is more than could
be said of some of the famous politicians of that day. He also
possessed a rare measure of intellectual control. Self-mastery was
his idiosyncrasy; it was particularly noticeable in his speaking;
he encouraged in himself such scrupulous economy of gesture,
movement and colour that, after hearing him many times, I came to
the definite conclusion that Chamberlain's opponents were snowed
under by his accumulated moderation. Whatever Dilke's native
impulses were, no one could say that he controlled them. Besides a
defective sense of humour, he was fundamentally commonplace and
had no key to his mind, which makes every one ultimately dull. My
father, being an ardent Radical, with a passion for any one that
Gladstone patronised, had made elaborate preparations for Dilke's
reception; when he arrived at Glen he was given a warm welcome;
and we all sat down to tea. After hearing him talk uninterruptedly
for hours and watching his stuffy face and slow, protruding eyes,
I said to Laura:

"He may be a very clever man, but he has not a ray of humour and
hardly any sensibility. If he were a horse, I would certainly not
buy him!"

With which she entirely agreed.

On the second night of his visit, our distinguished guest met
Laura in the passage on her way to bed; he said to her:

"If you will kiss me, I will give you a signed photograph of

To which she answered:

"It is awfully good of you, Sir Charles, but I would rather not,
for what on earth should I do with the photograph?"

Mr. Gladstone was the dominating politician of the day, and
excited more adoration and hatred than any one.

After my first visit to Hawarden, he sent me the following poem,
which he had written the night before I left:


    When Parliament ceases and comes the recess,
    And we seek in the country rest after distress,
    As a rule upon visitors place an embargo,
    But make an exception in favour of Margot.

    For she brings such a treasure of movement and life,
    Fun, spirit and stir, to folk weary with strife.
    Though young and though fair, who can hold such a cargo
    Of all the good qualities going as Margot?

    Up hill and down dale,'tis a capital name
    To blossom in friendship, to sparkle in fame;
    There's but one objection can light upon Margot,
    Its likeness in rhyming, not meaning, to argot.

    Never mind, never mind, we will give it the slip,
    'Tis not argot, the language, but Argo, the ship;
    And by sea or by land, I will swear you may far go
    Before you can hit on a double for Margot.

W. E. G. December 17th, 1889.

I received this at Glen by the second post on the day of my
arrival, too soon for me to imagine my host had written it, so I
wrote to our dear old friend, Godfrey Webb--always under suspicion
of playing jokes upon us--to say that he had overdone it this
time, as Gladstone had too good a hand-writing for him to
caricature convincingly. When I found that I was wrong, I wrote to
my poet:


At first I thought your poem must have been a joke, written by
some one who knew of my feelings for you and my visit to Hawarden;
but, when I saw the signature and the post-mark, I was convinced
it could be but from you. It has had the intoxicating effect of
turning my head with pleasure; if I began I should never cease
thanking you. Getting four rhymes to my name emphasizes your
uncommon genius, I think! And Argo the ship is quite a new idea
and a charming one. I love the third verse; that Margot is a
capital name to blossom in friendship and sparkle in fame. You
must allow me to say that you are ever such a dear. It is
impossible to believe that you will be eighty to-morrow, but I
like to think of it, for it gives most people an opportunity of
seeing how life should be lived without being spent.

There is no blessing, beauty or achievement that I do not wish

In truth and sincerity, Yours,


A propos of this, twelve years later I received the following
letter from Lord Morley:


July 18th, 1901.

I have just had such a cheerful quarter-of-an-hour--a packet of
YOUR letters to Mr. G. Think--! I've read them all!--and they
bring the writer back to me with queer and tender vividness. Such
a change from Bishops!!! Why do you never address me as "Very dear
and honoured Sir"? I'm not quite eighty-five yet, but I soon shall

Ever yours, JOHN MORLEY.

I have heard people say that the Gladstone family never allowed
him to read a newspaper with anything hostile to himself in it;
all this is the greatest rubbish; no one interfered with his
reading. The same silly things were said about the great men of
that day as of this and will continue to be said; and the same
silly geese will believe them. I never observed that Gladstone was
more easily flattered than other men. He WAS more flattered and by
more people, because he was a bigger man and lived a longer life;
but he was remarkably free from vanity of any kind. He would
always laugh at a good thing, if you chose the right moment in
which to tell it to him; but there were moods in which he was not
inclined to be amused.

Once, when he and I were talking of Jane Welsh Carlyle, I told him
that a friend of Carlyle's, an old man whom I met at Balliol, had
told me that one of his favourite stories was of an Irishman who,
when asked where he was driving his pig to, said:

"Cark. ..." (Cork.)

"But," said his interlocutor, "your head is turned to Mullingar
... !"

To which the man replied:

"Whist! He'll hear ye!"

This delighted Mr. Gladstone. I also told him one of Jowett's
favourite stories, of how George IV. went down to Portsmouth for
some big function and met a famous admiral of the day. He clapped
him on the back and said in a loud voice:

"Well, my dear Admiral, I hear you are the greatest blackguard in

At which the Admiral drew himself up, saluted the King and said:

"I hope, Sir, YOU have not come down to take away my reputation."

I find in an old diary an account of a drive I had with Gladstone
after my sister Laura died. This is what I wrote:

"On Saturday, 29th May, 1886, Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone came to pay
us a visit at 40 Grosvenor Square. Papa had been arranging the
drawing-room preparatory to their arrival and was in high
spirits. I was afraid he might resent my wish to take Mr.
Gladstone up to my room after lunch and talk to him alone.
However, Aunty Pussy--as we called Mrs. Gladstone--with a great
deal of winking, led papa away and said to mamma:

"'William and Margot are going to have a little talk!'

"I had not met or seen Mr. Gladstone since Laura's death.

"When he had climbed up to my boudoir, he walked to the window and
admired the trees in the square, deploring their uselessness and
asking whether the street lamp--which crossed the square path in
the line of our eyes--was a child.

"I asked him if he would approve of the square railings being
taken away and the glass and trees made into a place with seats,
such as you see in foreign towns, not merely for the convenience
of sitting down, but for the happiness of invalids and idlers who
court the shade or the sun. This met with his approval, but he
said with some truth that the only people who could do this--or
prevent it--were 'the resident aristocracy.'

"He asked if Laura had often spoken of death. I said yes and that
she had written about it in a way that was neither morbid nor
terrible. I showed him some prayers she had scribbled in a book,
against worldliness and high spirits. He listened with reverence
and interest. I don't think I ever saw his face wear the
expression that Millais painted in our picture as distinctly as
when, closing the book, he said to me:

"'It requires very little faith to believe that so rare a creature
as your sister Laura is blessed and with God.'

"Aunty Pussy came into the room and the conversation turned to
Laurence Oliphant's objection to visiting the graves of those we
love. They disagreed with this and he said:

"'I think, on the contrary, one should encourage oneself to find
consolation in the few tangible memories that one can claim; it
should not lessen faith in their spirits; and there is surely a
silent lesson to be learnt from the tombstone.'

"Papa and mamma came in and we all went down to tea. Mr. G.,
feeling relieved by the change of scene and topic, began to talk
and said he regretted all his life having missed the opportunity
of knowing Sir Walter Scott, Dr. Arnold and Lord Melbourne. He
told us a favourite story of his. He said:

"'An association of ladies wrote and asked me to send them a few
words on that unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots. In the penury of my
knowledge and the confusion arising from the conflicting estimates
of poor Mary, I thought I would write to Bishop Stubbs. All he
replied was, "Mary is looking up."'

"After this I drove him back to Downing Street in my phaeton,
round the Park and down Knights bridge. I told him I found it
difficult to judge of people's brains if they were very slow.

"MR. GLADSTONE: "I wish, then, that you had had the privilege of
knowing Mr. Cobden; he was at once the slowest and quite one of
the cleverest men I ever met. Personally I find it far easier to
judge of brains than character; perhaps it is because in my line
of life motives are very hard to fathom, and constant association
with intelligence and cultivation leads to a fair toleration and
criticism of all sorts and conditions of men.'

"He talked of Bright and Chamberlain and Lord Dalhousie,[Footnote:
The late Earl of Dalhousie.] who, he said, was one of the best
and most conscientious men he had ever known. He told me that,
during the time he had been Prime Minister, he had been personally
asked for every great office in the State, including the
Archbishopric of Canterbury, and this not by maniacs but by highly
respectable men, sometimes even his friends. He said that
Goschen's critical power was sound and subtle, but that he spoilt
his speeches by a touch of bitterness. Mr. Parnell, he said, was a
man of genius, born to great things. He had power, decision and
reserve; he saw things as they were and had confidence in himself.
(Ten days after this drive, Mr. Gladstone made his last great
speech on Irish Home Rule.)

"I made him smile by telling him how Lord Kimberley told me that,
one day in Dublin, when he was Viceroy, he had received a letter
which began:

"'My Lord, To-morrow we intend to kill you at the corner of
Kildare Street; but we would like you to know there is nothing
personal in it!'

"He talked all the way down Piccadilly about the Irish character,
its wit, charm, grace and intelligence. I nearly landed my phaeton
into an omnibus in my anxiety to point out the ingratitude and
want of purpose of the Irish; but he said that in the noblest of
races the spirit of self-defence had bred mean vices and that
generation after generation were born in Ireland with their blood
discoloured by hatred of the English Governments.

"'Tories have no hope, no faith,' he continued, 'and the best of
them have class-interest and the spirit of antiquity, but the last
has been forgotten, and only class-interest remains. Disraeli was
a great Tory. It grieves me to see people believing in Randolph
Churchill as his successor, for he has none of the genius,
patience or insight which Dizzy had in no small degree.'

"Mr. Gladstone told me that he was giving a dinner to the Liberal
party that night, and he added:

"'If Hartington is in a good humour, I intend to say to him,
"Don't move a vote of want of confidence in me after dinner, or
you will very likely carry it."'

"'He laughed at this, and told me some days after that Lord
Hartington had been delighted with the idea.

"He strongly advised me to read a little book by one Miss Tollet,
called Country Conversations, which had been privately printed,
and deplored the vast amount of poor literature that was
circulated, 'when an admirable little volume like this cannot be
got by the most ardent admirers now the authoress is dead.'" (In
parenthesis, I often wish I had been able to tell Mr. Gladstone
that Jowett left me this little book and his Shakespeare in his

"We drove through the Green Park and I pulled up on the Horse
Guards Parade at the garden-gate of 10 Downing Street. He got out
of the phaeton, unlocked the gate and, turning round, stood with
his hat off and his grey hair blowing about his forehead, holding
a dark, homespun cape close round his shoulders. He said with
great grace that he had enjoyed his drive immensely, that he hoped
it would occur again and that I had a way of saying things and a
tone of voice that would always remind him of my sister Laura. His
dear old face looked furrowed with care and the outline of it was
sharp as a profile. I said good-bye to him and drove away; perhaps
it was the light of the setting sun, or the wind, or perhaps
something else, but my eyes were full of tears."

My husband, in discussing with me Gladstone's sense of humour,
told me the following story:

"During the Committee Stage of the Home Rule Bill in the session
of 1893, I was one evening in a very thin House, seated by the
side of Mr. Gladstone on the Treasury Bench, of which we were the
sole occupants. His eyes were half-closed, and he seemed to be
absorbed in following the course of a dreary discussion on the
supremacy of Parliament. Suddenly he turned to me with an air of
great animation and said, in his most solemn tones, 'Have you ever
considered who is the ugliest man in the party opposite?

"MR. ASQUITH: 'Certainly; it is without doubt X' (naming a famous
Anglo-Indian statesman).

"MR. GLADSTONE: 'You are wrong. X is no doubt an ugly fellow, but
a much uglier is Y' (naming a Queen's Counsel of those days).

"MR. ASQUITH: 'Why should you give him the preference?'

"MR. GLADSTONE: 'Apply a very simple test. Imagine them both
magnified on a colossal scale. X's ugliness would then begin to
look dignified and even impressive, while the more you enlarged Y
the meaner he would become.'"

I have known seven Prime Ministers--Gladstone, Salisbury,
Rosebery, Campbell-Bannerman, Arthur Balfour, Asquith and Lloyd
George--every one of them as different from the others as
possible. I asked Arthur Balfour once if there was much difference
between him and his uncle. I said:

"Lord Salisbury does not care fanatically about culture or
literature. He may like Jane Austen, Scott or Sainte-Beuve, for
all I know, BUT HE IS NOT A SCHOLAR; he does not care for Plato,
Homer, Virgil or any of the great classics. He has a wonderful
sense of humour and is a beautiful writer, of fine style; but I
should say he is above everything a man of science and a
Churchman. All this can be said equally well of you."

To which he replied:

"There is a difference. My uncle is a Tory... and I am a Liberal."

I delighted in the late Lord Salisbury, both in his speaking and
in his conversation. I had a kind of feeling that he could always
score off me with such grace, good humour and wit that I would
never discover it. He asked me once what my husband thought of his
son Hugh's speaking, to which I answered:

"I will not tell you, because you don't know anything about my
husband and would not value his opinion. You know nothing about
our House of Commons either, Lord Salisbury; only the other day
you said in public that you had never even seen Parnell."

LORD SALISBURY (pointing to his waistcoat): "My figure is not
adapted for the narrow seats in your peers' gallery, but I can
assure you you are doing me an injustice. I was one of the first
to predict, both in private and in public, that Mr. Asquith would
have a very great future. I see no one of his generation, or even
among the younger men, at all comparable to him. Will you not
gratify my curiosity by telling me what he thinks of my son Hugh's

I was luckily able to say that my husband considered Lord Hugh
Cecil the best speaker in the House of Commons and indeed
anywhere, at which Lord Salisbury remarked:

"Do you think he would say so if he heard him speak on subjects
other than the Church?"

I assured him that he had heard him on Free Trade and many
subjects and that his opinion remained unchanged. He thought that,
if they could unknot themselves and cover more ground, both he and
his brother, Bob Cecil, had great futures.

I asked Lord Salisbury if he had ever heard Chamberlain speak
(Chamberlain was Secretary of State for the Colonies at the time).

LORD SALISBURY: "It is curious you should ask me this. I heard him
for the first time this afternoon."

MARGOT: "Where did you hear him? And what was he speaking about?"

LORD SALISBURY: "I heard him at Grosvenor House. Let me see...what
was he speaking about? ... (reflectively) Australian washer-
women? I think...or some such thing. ..."

MARGOT: "What did you think of it?"

LORD SALISBURY: "He seems a good, business-like speaker."

MARGOT: "I suppose at this moment Mr. Chamberlain is as much hated
as Gladstone ever was?"

LORD SALISBURY: "There is a difference. Mr. Gladstone was hated,
but he was very much loved. Does any one love Mr. Chamberlain?"

One day after this conversation he came to see me, bringing with
him a signed photograph of himself. We of the Liberal Party were
much exercised over the shadow of Protection which had been
presented to us by Mr. Ritchie, the then Chancellor of the
Exchequer, putting a tax upon corn; and the Conservative Party,
with Mr. Balfour as its Prime Minister, was not doing well. We
opened the conversation upon his nephew and the fiscal question.

I was shocked by his apparent detachment and said:

"But do you mean to tell me you don't think there is any danger of
England becoming Protectionist?"

LORD SALISBURY (with a sweet smile): "Not the slightest! There
will always be a certain number of foolish people who will be
Protectionists, but they will easily be overpowered by the wise
ones. Have you ever known a man of first-rate intellect in this
country who was a Protectionist?"

MARGOT: "I never thought of it, but Lord Milner is the only one I
can think of for the moment."

He entirely agreed with me and said:

"No, you need not be anxious. Free Trade will always win against
Protection in this country. This will not be the trouble of the

MARGOT: "Then what will be?"

LORD SALISBURY: "The House of Lords is the difficulty that I

I was surprised and incredulous and said quietly:

"Dear Lord Salisbury, I have heard of the House of Lords all my
life! But, stupid as it has been, no one will ever have the power
to alter it. Why do you prophesy that it will cause trouble?"

LORD SALISBURY: "You may think me vain, Mrs. Asquith, but, as long
as I am there, nothing will happen. I understand my lords
thoroughly; but, when I go, mistakes will be made: the House of
Lords will come into conflict with the Commons."

MARGOT: "You should have taught it better ways! I am afraid it
must be your fault!"

LORD SALISBURY (smiling): "Perhaps; but what do YOU think will be
the next subject of controversy?"

MARGOT: "If what you say is true and Protection IS impossible in
this country, I think the next row will be over the Church of
England; it is in a bad way."

I proceeded to denounce the constant building of churches while
the parsons' pay was so cruelly small. I said that few good men
could afford to go into the Church at all; and the assumed voices,
both in the reading and in the preaching, got on the nerves of
every one who cared to listen to such a degree that the churches
were becoming daily duller and emptier.

He listened with patience to all this and then got up and said:

"Now I must go; I shall not see you again."

Something in his voice made me look at him.

"You aren't ill, are you?" I asked with apprehension.

To which he replied:

"I am going into the country."

I never saw him again and, when I heard of his death, I regretted
I had not seen him oftener.



The next Prime Minister, whom I knew better than either Mr.
Gladstone or Lord Salisbury, was Lord Rosebery.

When I was a little girl, my mother took us to stay at Thomas's
Hotel, Berkeley Square, to have a course of dancing lessons from
the fashionable and famous M. d'Egville. These lessons put me in
high spirits, because my master told me I could always make a
living on the stage. His remarks were justified by a higher
authority ten years later: the beautiful Kate Vaughan of the
Gaiety Theatre.

I made her acquaintance in this way: I was a good amateur actress
and with the help of Miss Annie Schletter, a friend of mine who is
on the English stage now, I thought we might act Moliere's
Precieuses ridicules together for a charity matinee. Coquelin--the
finest actor of Moliere that ever lived--was performing in London
at the time and promised he would not only coach me in my part but
lend his whole company for our performance. He gave me twelve
lessons and I worked hard for him. He was intensely particular;
and I was more nervous over these lessons than I ever felt riding
over high timber. My father was so delighted at what Coquelin said
to him about me and my acting that he bought a fine early copy of
Moliere's plays which he made me give him. I enclose his letter of


Je suis tres mecontent de vous. Je croyais que vous me traitiez
tout a fait en ami, car c'etait en ami que j'avais accepte de vous
offrir quelques indications sur les Precieuses...et voila que vous
m'envoyez un enorme cadeau...imprudence d'abord parce que j'ai
tous les beaux Moliere qui existent et ensuite parce qu'il ne
fallait pas envoyer ombre de quoi que ce soit a votre ami Coq.

Je vais tout faire, malgre cela, pour aller vous voir un instant
au'jourd'hui, mais je ne suis pas certain d'y parvenir.

Remerciez votre amie Madelon et dites-lui bien qu'elle non plus ne
me doit absolument rien.

J'aime mieux un tout petit peu de la plus legere gratitude que
n'importe quoi. Conservez, ma chere Margot, un bon souvenir de ce
petit travail qui a du vous amuser beaucoup et qui nous a reunis
dans les meilleurs sentiments du monde; continuons nous cette
sympathie que je trouve moi tout a fait exquise--et croyez qu'en
la continuant de votre cote, vous serez mille fois plus que quitte
envers votre tres devoue


Coquelin the younger was our stage-manager, and acted the
principal part. When it was over and the curtain went down,
"Freddy Wellesley's [Footnote: The Hon. F. Wellesley, a famous
bean and the husband of Kate Vaughan.] band" was playing Strauss
valses in the entr'acve, while the audience was waiting for Kate
Vaughan to appear in a short piece called The Dancing Lesson, the
most beautiful solo dance ever seen. I was alone on the stage and,
thinking that no one could see me, I slipped off my Moliere hoop
of flowered silk and let myself go, in lace petticoats, to the
wonderful music. Suddenly I heard a rather Cockney voice say from
the wings:

"My Lord! How you can dance! Who taught you, I'd like to know?"

I turned round and saw the lovely face of Kate Vaughan. She wore a
long, black, clinging crepe-de-chine dress and a little black
bonnet with a velvet bow over one ear; her white throat and
beautiful arms were bare.

"Why," she said, "you could understudy me, I believe! You come
round and I'll show you my parts and YOU will never lack for
goldie boys!"

I remember the expression, because I had no idea what she meant by
it. She explained that, if I became her under-study at the Gaiety,
I would make my fortune. I was surprised that she had taken me for
a professional, but not more so than she was when I told her that
I had never had a lesson in ballet-dancing in my life.

My lovely coach, however, fell sick and had to give up the stage.
She wrote me a charming letter, recommending me to her own
dancing-master, M. d'Auban, under whom I studied for several

One day, on returning from my early dancing-lesson to Thomas's
Hotel, I found my father talking to Lord Rosebery. He said I had
better run away; so, after kissing him and shaking hands with the
stranger I left the room. As I shut the door, I heard Lord
Rosebery say:

"Your girl has beautiful eyes."

I repeated this upstairs, with joy and excitement, to the family,
who, being in a good humour, said they thought it was true enough
if my eyes had not been so close together. I took up a glass, had
a good look at myself and was reluctantly compelled to agree.

I asked my father about Lord Rosebery afterwards, and he said:

"He is far the most brilliant young man living and will certainly
be Prime Minister one day."

Lord Rosebery was born with almost every advantage: he had a
beautiful smile, an interesting face, a remarkable voice and
natural authority. When at Oxford, he had been too much interested
in racing to work and was consequently sent down--a punishment
shared at a later date and on different grounds by another
distinguished statesman, the present Viscount Grey--but no one
could say he was not industrious at the time that I knew him and a
man of education. He made his fame first by being Mr. Gladstone's
chairman at the political meetings in the great Midlothian
campaign, where he became the idol of Scotland. Whenever there was
a crowd in the streets or at the station, in either Glasgow or
Edinburgh, and I enquired what it was all about, I always received
the same reply:


I think Lord Rosebery would have had a better nervous system and
been a happier man if he had not been so rich. Riches are over-
estimated in the Old Testament: the good and successful man
receives too many animals, wives, apes, she-goats and peacocks.
The values are changed in the New: Christ counsels a different
perfection and promises another reward. He does not censure the
man of great possessions, but He points out that his riches will
hamper him in his progress to the Kingdom of Heaven and that he
would do better to sell all; and He concludes with the penetrating

"Of what profit is it to a man if he gain the whole world and lose
his own soul?"

The soul here is freedom from self.

Lord Rosebery was too thin-skinned, too conscious to be really
happy. He was not self-swayed like Gladstone, but he was self-
enfolded. He came into power at a time when the fortunes of the
Liberal party were at their lowest; and this, coupled with his
peculiar sensibility, put a severe strain upon him. Some people
thought that he was a man of genius, morbidly sensitive shrinking
from public life and the Press, cursed with insufficient ambition,
sudden, baffling, complex and charming. Others thought that he was
a man irresistible to his friends and terrible to his enemies,
dreaming of Empire, besought by kings and armies to put countries
and continents straight, a man whose notice blasted or blessed
young men of letters, poets, peers or politicians, who at once
scared and compelled every one he met by his freezing silence, his
playful smile, or the weight of his moral indignation: the truth
being that he was a mixture of both.

Lord Salisbury told me he was the best occasional speaker he had
ever heard; and certainly he was an exceptionally gifted person.
He came to Glen constantly in my youth and all of us worshipped
him. No one was more alarming to the average stranger or more
playful and affectionate in intimacy than Lord Rosebery.

An announcement in some obscure paper that he was engaged to be
married to me came between us in later years. He was seriously
annoyed and thought I ought to have contradicted this. I had never
even heard the report till I got a letter in Cairo from Paris,
asking if I would not agree to the high consideration and
respectful homages of the writer and allow her to make my
chemises. After this, the matter went completely out of my head,
till, meeting him one day in London, I was greeted with such
frigid self-suppression that I felt quite exhausted. A few months
later, our thoughtful Press said I was engaged to be married to
Arthur Balfour. As I had seen nothing of Lord Rosebery since he
had gone into a period of long mourning, I was acclimatised to
doing without him, but to lose Arthur's affection and friendship
would have been an irreparable personal loss to me. I need not
have been afraid, for this was just the kind of rumour that
challenged his insolent indifference to the public and the Press.
Seeing me come into Lady Rothschild's ball-room one night, he left
the side of the man he was conversing with and with his elastic
step stalked down the empty parquet floor to greet me. He asked me
to sit down next to him in a conspicuous place; and we talked
through two dances. I was told afterwards that some one who had
been watching us said to him:

"I hear you are going to marry Margot Tennant."

To which he replied:

"No, that is not so. I rather think of having a career of my own."

Lord Rosebery's two antagonists, Sir William Harcourt and Sir
Henry Campbell-Bannerman, were very different men.

Sir William ought to have lived in the eighteenth century. To
illustrate his sense of humour: he told me that women should be
played with like fish; only in the one case you angle to make them
rise and in the other to make them fall. He had a great deal of
wit and nature, impulsive generosity of heart and a temperament
that clouded his judgment. He was a man to whom life had added
nothing; he was perverse, unreasonable, brilliant, boisterous and
kind when I knew him; but he must have been all these in the

At the time of the split in our party over the Boer War, when we
were in opposition and the phrase "methods of barbarism" became
famous, my personal friends were in a state of the greatest
agitation. Lord Spencer, who rode with me nearly every morning,
deplored the attitude which my husband had taken up. He said it
would be fatal to his future, dissociating himself from the
Pacifists and the Pro-Boers, and that he feared the Harcourts
would never speak to us again. As I was devoted to the latter, and
to their son Lulu [Footnote: The present Viscount Harcourt.] and
his wife May--still my dear and faithful friends--I felt full of
apprehension. We dined with Sir Henry and Lady Lucy one night and
found Sir William and Lady Harcourt were of the company. I had no
opportunity of approaching either of them before dinner, but when
the men came out of the dining-room, Sir William made a bee-line
for me. Sitting down, he took my hand in both of his and said:

"My dear little friend, you need not mind any of the quarrels! The
Asquith evenings or the Rosebery afternoons, all these things will
pass; but your man is the man of the future!"

These were generous words, for, if Lord Morley, my husband and
others had backed Sir William Harcourt instead of Lord Rosebery
when Gladstone resigned, he would certainly have become Prime

I never knew Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman well, but whenever we
did meet we had great laughs together. He was essentially a bon
vivant, a boulevardier and a humorist. At an official luncheon
given in honour of some foreign Minister, Campbell-Bannerman, in
an admirable speech in French--a language with which he was
familiar--described Arthur Balfour, who was on one side of him,
as l'enfant gate of English politics and Chamberlain, who was also
at the lunch, as l'enfant terrible.

On the opening day of Parliament, February the 14th, 1905, he made
an amusing and telling speech. It was a propos of the fiscal
controversy which was raging all over England and which was
destined to bring the Liberal party into power at the succeeding
two general elections. He said that Arthur Balfour was "like a
general who, having given the command to his men to attack, found
them attacking one another; when informed of this, he shrugs his
shoulders and says that he can't help it if they will
misunderstand his orders!"

In spite of the serious split in the Liberal Party over the Boer
War, involving the disaffection of my husband, Grey and Haldane,
Campbell-Bannerman became Prime Minister in 1905.

He did not have a coupon election by arrangement with the
Conservative Party to smother his opponents, hut asked Henry,
before he consulted any one, what office he would take for himself
and what he thought suitable for other people in his new Cabinet.
Only men of a certain grandeur of character can do these things,
but every one who watched the succeeding events would agree that
Campbell-Bannerman's generosity was rewarded.

When C.B.--as he was called--went to Downing Street, he was a
tired man; his wife was a complete invalid and his own health had
been undermined by nursing her. As time went on, the late hours in
the House of Commons began to tell upon him and he relegated more
and more of his work to my husband.

One evening he sent for Henry to go and see him at 10 Downing
Street and, telling him that he was dying, thanked him for all he
had done, particularly for his great work on the South African
constitution. He turned to him and said:

"Asquith, you are different from the others, and I am glad to have
known you ... God bless you!"

C.B. died a few hours after this.

I now come to another Prime Minister, Arthur Balfour.

When Lord Morley was writing the life of Gladstone, Arthur Balfour
said to me:

"If you see John Morley, give him my love and tell him to be bold
and indiscreet."

A biography must not be a brief either for or against its client
and it should be the same with an autobiography. In writing about
yourself and other living people you must take your courage in
both hands. I had thought of putting as a motto on the title-page
of this book, "As well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb"; but I
gave it up when my friends gave me away and I saw it quoted in the
newspapers; and I chose Blake and the Bible.

If I have written any words here that wound a friend or an enemy,
I can only refer them to my general character and ask to be judged
by it. I am not tempted to be spiteful and have never consciously
hurt any one in my life; but in this book I must write what I
think without fear or favour and with a strict regard to
unmodelled truth.

Arthur Balfour was never a standard-bearer. He was a self-
indulgent man of simple tastes. For the average person he was as
puzzling to understand and as difficult to know as he was easy
for me and many others to love. You may say that no average man
can know a Prime Minister intimately; but most of us have met
strangers whose minds we understood and whose hearts we reached
without knowledge and without effort; and some of us have had an
equally surprising and more painful experience when, after years
of love given and received, we find the friend upon whom we had
counted has become a stranger.

He was difficult to understand, because I was never sure that he
needed me; and difficult to know intimately, because of his
formidable detachment. The most that many of us could hope for was
that he had a taste in us as one might have in clocks or

Balfour was blessed or cursed at his birth, according to
individual opinion, by two assets: charm and wits. The first he
possessed to a greater degree than any man, except John Morley,
that I have ever met. His social distinction, exquisite attention,
intellectual tact, cool grace and lovely bend of the head made him
not only a flattering listener, but an irresistible companion. The
disadvantage of charm--which makes me say cursed or blessed--is
that it inspires every one to combine and smooth the way for you
throughout life. As the earnest housemaid removes dust, so all his
friends and relations kept disagreeable things from his path; and
this gave him more leisure in his life than any one ought to have.

His wits, with which I say that he was also cursed or blessed--
quite apart from his brains--gave him confidence in his
improvisings and the power to sustain any opinion on any subject,
whether he held the opinion or not, with equal brilliance,
plausibility and success, according to his desire to dispose of
you or the subject. He either finessed with the ethical basis of
his intellect or had none. This made him unintelligible to the
average man, unforgivable to the fanatic and a god to the

On one occasion my husband and I went to a lunch, given by old Mr.
McEwan, to meet Mr. Frank Harris. I might have said what my sister
Laura did, when asked if she had enjoyed herself at a similar
meal. "I would not have enjoyed it if I hadn't been there," as,
with the exception of Arthur Balfour, I did not know a soul in the
room. He sat like a prince, with his sphinx-like imperviousness to
bores, courteous and concentrated on the languishing
conversation. I made a few gallant efforts and my husband, who is
particularly good on these self-conscious occasions, did his best
... but to no purpose.

Frank Harris, in a general disquisition to the table, at last
turned to Arthur Balfour and said, with an air of finality:

"The fact is, Mr. Balfour, all the faults of the age come from
Christianity and journalism."

To which Arthur replied with rapier quickness and a child-like

"Christianity, of course ... but why journalism?"

When men said, which they have done now for over thirty years,
that Arthur Balfour was too much of a philosopher to be really
interested in politics, I always contradicted them. With his
intellectual taste, perfect literary style and keen interest in
philosophy and religion, nothing but a great love of politics
could account for his not having given up more of his time to
writing. People thought that he was not interested because he had
nothing active in his political aspirations; he saw nothing that
needed changing. Low wages, drink, disease, sweating and
overcrowding did not concern him; they left him cold, and he had
not the power to express moral indignation which he was too
detached to feel.

He was a great Parliamentarian, a brilliant debater and a famous
Irish Secretary in difficult times, but his political energies lay
in tactics. He took a Puck-like pleasure in watching the game of
party politics, not in the interests of any particular political
party, nor from esprit de corps, but from taste. This was very
conspicuous in the years 1903 to 1906, during the fiscal
controversy; but any one with observation could watch this
peculiarity carried to a fine art wherever and whenever the
Government to which he might be attached was in a tight place.

Politically, what he cared most about were problems of national
defence. He inaugurated the Committee of Defence and appointed as
its permanent Chairman the Prime Minister of the day; everything
connected with the size of the army and navy interested him. The
size of your army, however, must depend on the aims and quality of
your diplomacy; and, if you have Junkers in your Foreign Office
and jesters on your War Staff, you must have permanent
conscription. It is difficult to imagine any one in this country
advocating a large standing army plus a navy, which is vital to
us; but such there were and such there will always be. With the
minds of these militarists, protectionists and conscriptionists,
Arthur Balfour had nothing in common at any time. He and the men
of his opinions were called the Blue Water School; they deprecated
fear of invasion and in consequence were violently attacked by the
Tories. But, in spite of an army corps of enthusiasts kept upon
our coasts to watch the traitors with towels signalling to the sea
with full instructions where to drive the county cows to, no
German army during the great War attempted to land upon our
shores, thus amply justifying Arthur Balfour's views.

The artists who have expressed with the greatest perfection human
experience, from an external point of view, he delighted in. He
preferred appeals to his intellect rather than claims upon his
feelings. Handel in music, Pope in poetry, Scott in narration,
Jane Austen in fiction and Sainte-Beuve in criticism supplied him
with everything he wanted. He hated introspection and shunned

What interested me most and what I liked best in Arthur Balfour
was not his charm or his wit--and not his politics--but his
writing and his religion.

Any one who has read his books with a searching mind will perceive
that his faith in God is what has really moved him in life; and no
one can say that he has not shown passion here. Religious
speculation and contemplation were so much more to him than
anything else that he felt justified in treating politics and
society with a certain levity.

His mother, Lady Blanche Balfour, was a sister of the late Lord
Salisbury and a woman of influence. I was deeply impressed by her
character as described in a short private life of her written by
the late minister of Whittingehame, Mr. Robertson. I should be
curious to know, if it were possible, how many men and women of
mark in this generation have had religious mothers. I think much
fewer than in mine. My husband's mother, Mr. McKenna's and Lord
Haldane's were all profoundly religious.

This is part of one of Lady Blanche Balfour's prayers, written at
the age of twenty-six:

From the dangers of metaphysical subtleties and from profitless
speculation on the origin of evil--Good Lord deliver me.

From hardness of manner, coldness, misplaced sarcasm, and all
errors and imperfections of manner or habit, from words and deeds
by which Thy good may be evil-spoken, of through me, or not
promoted to the utmost of my ability--Good Lord deliver me.

Teach me my duties to superiors, equals and inferiors. Give me
gentleness and kindliness of manner and perfect tact; a thoughtful
heart such as Thou lovest; leisure to care for the little things
of others, and a habit of realising in my own mind their positions
and feelings.

Give me grace to trust my children--with the peace that passeth
all understanding--to Thy love and care. Teach me to use my
influence over each and all, especially children and servants,
aright, that I may give account of this, as well as of every other
talent, with joy--and especially that I may guide with the love
and wisdom which are far above the religious education of my

By Lady Blanche Balfour, 1851.

Born and bred in the Lowlands of Scotland, Arthur Balfour avoided
the narrowness and materialism of the extreme High Church; but he
was a strong Churchman. I wrote in a very early diary: "I wish
Arthur would write something striking on the Established Church,
as he could express better than any one living how much its
influence for good in the future will depend on the spirit in
which it is worked."

His mind was more critical than constructive; and those of his
religious writings which I have read have been purely analytical.
My attention was first arrested by an address he delivered at the
Church Congress at Manchester in 1888. The subject which he chose
was Positivism, without any special reference to the peculiarities
of Comte's system. He called it The Religion of Humanity.
[Footnote: An essay delivered at the Church Congress, Manchester,
and printed in a pamphlet] In this essay he first dismisses the
purely scientific and then goes on to discuss the Positivist view
of man. The following passages will give some idea of his manner
and style of writing:

Man, so far as natural science itself is able to teach us, is no
longer the final cause of the universe, the heaven-descended heir
of all the ages. His very existence is an accident, his history a
brief and discreditable episode in the life of one of the meanest
of the planets. Of the combination of causes which first converted
a piece or pieces of unorganised jelly into the living progenitors
of humanity, science indeed, as yet, knows nothing. It is enough
that from such beginnings, Famine, Disease, and Mutual Slaughter,
fit nurses of the future lord of creation, have gradually evolved,
after infinite travail, a race with conscience enough to know that
it is vile, and intelligence enough to know that it is
insignificant. We survey the past and see that its history is of
blood and tears, of helpless blundering, of wild revolt, of stupid
acquiescence, of empty aspirations. We sound the future, and learn
that after a period, long compared with the individual life, but
short indeed compared with the divisions of time open to our
investigation, the energies of our system will decay, the glory of
the sun will be dimmed, and the earth, tideless and inert, will no
longer tolerate the race which has for a moment disturbed its
solitude. Man will go down into the pit, and all his thoughts will
perish. The uneasy consciousness, which in this obscure corner has
for a brief space broken the contented silence of the Universe,
will be at rest. Matter will know itself no longer. Imperishable
monuments and immortal deeds, death itself, and love stronger than
death, will be as though they had never been. Nor will anything
that is be better or be worse for all that the labour, genius,
devotion, and suffering of man have striven through countless
generations to effect.

He continues on Positivism as an influence that cannot be

One of the objects of the "religion of humanity," and it is an
object beyond all praise, is to stimulate the imagination till it
lovingly embraces the remotest fortunes of the whole human family.
But in proportion as this end is successfully attained, in
proportion as we are taught by this or any other religion to
neglect the transient and the personal, and to count ourselves as
labourers for that which is universal and abiding, so surely must
be the increasing range which science is giving to our vision over
the time and spaces of the material universe, and the decreasing
importance of the place which man is seen to occupy in it, strike
coldly on our moral imagination, if so be that the material
universe is all we have to do with. My contention is that every
such religion and every such philosophy, so long as it insists on
regarding man as merely a phenomenon among phenomena, a natural
object among other natural objects, is condemned by science to
failure as an effective stimulus to high endeavour. Love, pity,
and endurance it may indeed leave with us; and this is well. But
it so dwarfs and impoverishes the ideal end of human effort, that
though it may encourage us to die with dignity, it hardly permits
us to live with hope.

Apart from the unvarying love I have always had for Arthur
Balfour, I should be untrue to myself if I did not feel deeply
grateful for the unchanging friendship of a man who can think and
write like this.

Of the other two Prime Ministers I cannot write, though no one
knows them better than I do. By no device of mine could I conceal
my feelings; both their names will live with lustre, without my
conscience being chargeable with frigid impartiality or fervent
partisanship, and no one will deny that all of us should be
allowed some "private property in thought."






5. Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.

6. Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are
disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who
shall gather them.

7. And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in Thee.



No one ever knew how it came about that I and my particular
friends were called "the Souls." The origin of our grouping
together I have already explained: we saw more of one another than
we should probably have done had my sister Laura Lyttelton lived,
because we were in mourning and did not care to go out in general
society; but why we were called "Souls" I do not know.

The fashionable--what was called the "smart set"--of those days
centred round the Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VII, and
had Newmarket for its head-quarters. As far as I could see, there
was more exclusiveness in the racing world than I had ever
observed among the Souls; and the first and only time I went to
Newmarket the welcome extended to me by the shrewd and select
company there made me feel exactly like an alien.

We did not play bridge or baccarat and our rather intellectual and
literary after-dinner games were looked upon as pretentious.

Arthur Balfour--the most distinguished of the Souls and idolised
by every set in society--was the person who drew the enemy's fire.
He had been well known before he came among us and it was
considered an impertinence on our part to make him play pencil-
games or be our intellectual guide and critic. Nearly all the
young men in my circle were clever and became famous; and the
women, although not more intelligent, were less worldly than their
fashionable contemporaries and many of them both good to be with
and distinguished to look at.

What interests me most on looking back now at those ten years is
the loyalty, devotion and fidelity which we showed to one another
and the pleasure which we derived from friendships that could not
have survived a week had they been accompanied by gossip, mocking,
or any personal pettiness. Most of us had a depth of feeling and
moral and religious ambition which are entirely lacking in the
clever young men and women of to-day. Our after-dinner games were
healthier and more inspiring than theirs. "Breaking the news," for
instance, was an entertainment that had a certain vogue among the
younger generation before the war. It consisted of two people
acting together and conveying to their audience various ways in
which they would receive the news of the sudden death of a friend
or a relation and was considered extraordinarily funny; it would
never have amused any of the Souls. The modern habit of pursuing,
detecting and exposing what was ridiculous in simple people and
the unkind and irreverent manner in which slips were made material
for epigram were unbearable to me. This school of thought--which
the young group called "anticant"--encouraged hard sayings and
light doings, which would have profoundly shocked the most
frivolous among us. Brilliance of a certain kind may bring people
together for amusement, but it will not keep them together for
long; and the young, hard pre-war group that I am thinking of was

The present Lord Curzon [Footnote: Earl Curzon of Kedleston.] also
drew the enemy's fire and was probably more directly responsible
for the name of the Souls than any one.

He was a conspicuous young man of ability, with a ready pen, a
ready tongue, an excellent sense of humour in private life and
intrepid social boldness. He had appearance more than looks, a
keen, lively face, with an expression of enamelled selfassurance.
Like every young man of exceptional promise, he was called a prig.
The word was so misapplied in those days that, had I been a clever
young man, I should have felt no confidence in myself till the
world had called me a prig. He was a remarkably intelligent person
in an exceptional generation. He had ambition and--what he claimed
for himself in a brilliant description--"middle-class method"; and
he added to a kindly feeling for other people a warm corner for
himself. Some of my friends thought his contemporaries in the
House of Commons, George Wyndham and Harry Cust, would go farther,
as the former promised more originality and the latter was a finer
scholar, but I always said--and have a record of it in my earliest
diaries--that George Curzon would easily outstrip his rivals. He
had two incalculable advantages over them: he was chronically
industrious and self-sufficing; and, though Oriental in his ideas
of colour and ceremony, with a poor sense of proportion, and a
childish love of fine people, he was never self-indulgent. He
neither ate, drank nor smoked too much and left nothing to chance.

No one could turn with more elasticity from work to play than
George Curzon; he was a first-rate host and boon companion and
showed me and mine a steady and sympathetic love over a long
period of years. Even now, if I died, although he belongs to the
more conventional and does not allow himself to mix with people of
opposite political parties, he would write my obituary notice.

At the time of which I am telling, he was threatened with lung
trouble and was ordered to Switzerland by his doctors. We were
very unhappy and assembled at a farewell banquet, to which he
entertained us in the Bachelors' Club, on the 10th of July, 1889.
We found a poem welcoming us on our chairs, when we sat down to
dinner, in which we were all honourably and categorically
mentioned. Some of our critics called us "the Gang"--to which
allusion is made here--but we were ultimately known as the Souls.

This famous dinner and George's poem caused a lot of fun and
friction, jealousy, curiosity and endless discussion. It was
followed two years later by another dinner given by the same host
to the same guests and in the same place, on the 9th of July,

The repetition of this dinner was more than the West End of London
could stand; and I was the object of much obloquy. I remember
dining with Sir Stanley and Lady Clarke to meet King Edward--then
Prince of Wales--when my hostess said to me in a loud voice,
across the table:

"There were some clever people in the world, you know, before you
were born, Miss Tennant!"

Feeling rather nettled, I replied:

"Please don't pick me out, Lady Clarke, as if I alone were
responsible for the stupid ones among whom we find ourselves

Having no suspicion of other people, I was seldom on the
defensive and did not mean to be rude but I was young and
intolerant. This was George Curzon's poem:

[Editor's Note: See footnotes at bottom of poem]

10th JULY, 1889.

    Ho! list to a lay
    Of that company gay,
Compounded of gallants and graces,
    Who gathered to dine,
    In the year '89,
In a haunt that in Hamilton Place is.

    There, there where they met,
    And the banquet was set
At the bidding of GEORGIUS CURZON;
    Brave youth! 'tis his pride,
    When he errs, that the side
Of respectable licence he errs on.

    Around him that night--
    Was there e'er such a sight?
Souls sparkled and spirits expanded;
    For of them critics sang,
    That tho' christened the Gang,
By a spiritual link they were banded.

    Souls and spirits, no doubt
    But neither without
Fair visible temples to dwell in!
    E'en your image divine
    Must be girt with a shrine,
For the pious to linger a spell in.

    There was seen at that feast
    Of this band, the High Priest,
The heart that to all hearts is nearest;
    Him may nobody steal
    From the true Common weal,
Tho' to each is dear ARTHUR the dearest. [1]

    America lends,
    Nay, she gives when she sends
Such treasures as HARRY and DAISY; [2]
    Tho' many may yearn,
    None but HARRY can turn
That sweet little head of hers crazy.

    There was much-envied STRATH [3]
    With the lady who hath [3]
Taught us all what may life be at twenty;
    Of pleasure a taste,
    Of duty no waste,
Of gentle philosophy plenty.

    KITTY DRUMMOND was there-- [4]
    Where was LAWRENCE, oh! where?--
And my Lord and my Lady GRANBY; [5]
    Is there one of the Gang
    Has not wept at the pang
That he never can VIOLET'S man be?

    From WILTON, whose streams
    Murmur sweet in our dreams,
Come the Earl and his Countess together; [6]
    In her spirit's proud flights
    We are whirled to the heights,
He sweetens our stay in the nether.

    Dear EVAN was there, [7]
    The first choice of the fair,
To all but himself very gentle!
    And ASHRIDGE'S lord [8]
    Most insufferably bored
With manners and modes Oriental.

    The Shah, I would bet,
    In the East never met
Such a couple as him and his consort. [8]
    If the HORNERS you add, [9]
    That a man must be mad
Who complains that the Gang is a wrong sort.

    From kindred essay
    LADY MARY to-day [10]
Should have beamed on a world that adores her.
    Of her spouse debonair [10]
    No woman has e'er
Been able to say that he bores her.

    Next BINGY escorts [11]
    His dear wife, to our thoughts [11]
Never lost, though withdrawn from our vision,
    While of late she has shown
    That of spirit alone
Was not fashioned that fair composition.

    No, if humour we count,
    The original fount
Must to HUGO be ceded in freehold,
    Tho' of equal supplies
    In more subtle disguise
Old GODFREY has far from a wee hold! [12]

    MRS. EDDY has come [13]
    And we all shall be dumb
When we hear what a lovely voice Emmy's is;
    SPENCER, too, would show what [14]
    He can do, were it not
For that cursed laryngeal Nemesis.

    At no distance away
    Behold ALAN display [15]
That smile that is found so upsetting;
    And EDGAR in bower, [16]
    In statecraft, in power,
The favourite first in the betting.

    Here a trio we meet,
    Whom you never will beat,
Tho' wide you may wander and far go;
    From what wonderful art
    Of that Gallant Old Bart,
Sprang CHARTY and LUCY and MARGOT?

    To LUCY he gave [17]
    The wiles that enslave,
Heart and tongue of an angel to CHARTY; [18]
    To MARGOT the wit [19]
    And the wielding of it,
That make her the joy of a party.

    LORD TOMMY is proud [20]
    That to CHARTY he vowed
The graces and gifts of a true man.
    And proud are the friends
    Of ALFRED, who blends [21]
The athlete, the hero, the woman!

    From the Gosford preserves
    Old ST. JOHN deserves [22]
Great praise for a bag such as HILDA; [22]
    True worth she esteemed,
    Overpowering he deemed
The subtle enchantment that filled her.

    Very dear are the pair,
    He so strong, she so fair,
Renowned as the TAPLOVITE WINNIES;
    Ah! he roamed far and wide,
    Till in ETTY he spied [23]
A treasure more golden than guineas.

    Here is DOLL who has taught [24]
    Us that "words conceal thought"
In his case is a fallacy silly;
    HARRY CUST could display [25]
    Scalps as many, I lay,
From Paris as in Piccadilly.

    But some there were too--
    Thank the Lord they were few!
Who were bidden to come and who could not:
    Was there one of the lot,
    Ah! I hope there was not,
Looked askance at the bidding and would not.

    The brave LITTLE EARL [26]
    Is away, and his pearl-
Laden spouse, the imperial GLADYS; [26]
    By that odious gout
    Is LORD COWPER knocked out. [27]
And the wife who his comfort and aid is. [27]

    Miss BETTY'S engaged,
    And we all are enraged
That the illness of SIBELL'S not over; [28]
    GEORGE WYNDHAM can't sit [29]
    At our banquet of wit,
Because he is standing at Dover.

    But we ill can afford
    To dispense with the Lord
Of WADDESDON and ill HARRY CHAPLIN; [30, 31]
    Were he here, we might shout
    As again he rushed out
From the back of that "d--d big sapling."

    We have lost LADY GAY [32]
    'Tis a price hard to pay
For that Shah and his appetite greedy;
    And alas! we have lost--
    At what ruinous cost!--
The charms of the brilliant Miss D.D. [33]

    But we've got in their place,
    For a gift of true grace,
VIRGINIA'S marvellous daughter. [34]
    Having conquered the States,
    She's been blown by the Fates
To conquer us over the water.

    Now this is the sum
    Of all those who have come
Or ought to have come to that banquet.
    Then call for the bowl,
    Flow spirit and soul,
Till midnight not one of you can quit!

    And blest by the Gang
    Be the Rhymester who sang
Their praises in doggrel appalling;
    More now were a sin--
    Ho, waiters, begin!
Each soul for consomme is calling!

 1 The Right Eton A. J. Balfour.
 2 Mr. and Mrs White.
 3 The Duke and Duchess of Sutherland.
 4 Col. and Mrs L. Drummond.
 5 Now the Duke and Duchess of Rutland.
 6 Earl and Countess of Pembroke.
 7 Hon. Evan Charteris.
 8 Earl and Countess Brownlow.
 9 Sir J. and Lady Horner.
10 Lord and Lady Elcho (now Earl and Countess of Wemyss).
11 Lord and Lady Wenlock.
12 Mr. Godfrey Webb.
13 The Hon. Mrs. E. Bourke.
14 The Hon. Spencer Lyttelton.
15 The Hon. Alan Charteris.
16 Sir E. Vincent (now Lord D'Abernon).
17 Mrs. Graham Smith.
18 Lady Ribblesdale.
19 Mrs. Asquith.
20 Lord Ribblesdale.
21 The Hon. Alfred Lyttelton.
22 The Hon. St. John Brodrick (now Earl of Midleton) and Lady
   Hilda Brodrick.
23 Mr. and Mrs. Willy Grenfell (now Lord and Lady Desborough).
24 Mr. A. G. Liddell.
25 Mr. Harry Cust.
26 Earl and Countess de Grey.
27 Earl and Countess Cowper.
28 Countess Grosvenor.
29 The late Right Hon. George Wyndham.
30 Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild.
31 Now Viscount Chaplin.
32 Lady Windsor (now Marchioness of Plymouth).
33 Miss E. Balfour (Widow of the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton).
34 Mrs. Chanler, the American novelist (now Princess Troubetzkoy).]

For my own and the children's interest I shall try, however
imperfectly, to make a descriptive inventory of some of the Souls
mentioned in this poem and of some of my friends who were not.

Gladstone's secretary, Sir Algernon West, [Footnote: The Right
Hon. Sir Algernon West.] and Godfrey Webb had both loved Laura and
corresponded with her till she died and they spent all their
holidays at Glen. I never remember the time when Algy West was not
getting old and did not say he wanted to die; but, although he is
ninety, he is still young, good-looking and--what is even more
remarkable--a strong Liberal. He was never one of the Souls, but
he was a faithful and loving early friend of ours.

Mr. Godfrey Webb was the doyen of the Souls. He was as intimate
with my brothers and parents as he was with my sisters and self.
Godfrey--or Webber as some called him--was not only a man of
parts, but had a peculiar flavour of his own: he had the sense of
humour and observation of a memoirist and his wit healed more than
it cut. For hours together he would poke about the country with a
dog, a gun and a cigar, perfectly independent and self-sufficing,
whether engaged in sport, repartee, or literature. He wrote and
published for private circulation a small book of poems and made
the Souls famous by his proficiency at all our pencil-games. It
would be unwise to quote verses or epigrams that depend so much
upon the occasion and the environment. Only a George Meredith can
sustain a preface boasting of his heroine's wit throughout the
book, but I will risk one example of Godfrey Webb's quickness. He
took up a newspaper one morning in the dining-room at Glen and,
reading that a Mr. Pickering Phipps had broken his leg on rising
from his knees at prayer, he immediately wrote this couplet:

On bended knees, with fervent lips, Wrestled with Satan Pickering
Phipps, But when for aid he ceased to beg, The wily devil broke
his leg!

He spent every holiday with us and I do not think he ever missed
being with us on the anniversary of Laura's death, whether I was
at home or abroad. He was a man in a million, the last of the
wits, and I miss him every day of my life.

Lord Midleton [Footnote: The Right Hon. the Earl of Midleton, of
Peper, Harow, Godalming.]--better known as St. John Brodrick--was
my first friend of interest; I knew him two years before I met
Arthur Balfour or any of the Souls. He came over to Glen while he
was staying with neighbours of ours.

I wired to him not long ago to congratulate him on being made an
Earl and asked him in what year it was that he first came to Glen;
this is his answer:

Jan. 12th, 1920. DEAREST MARGOT,

I valued your telegram of congratulation the more that I know you
and Henry (who has given so many and refused all) attach little
value to titular distinctions. Indeed, it is the only truly
democratic trait about YOU, except a general love of Humanity,
which has always put you on the side of the feeble. I am relieved
to hear you have chosen such a reliable man as Crewe--with his
literary gifts--to be the only person to read your autobiography.

My visit to Glen in R--y's company was October, 1880, when you
were sixteen. You and Laura flashed like meteors on to a dreary
scene of empty seats at the luncheon table (the shooting party
didn't come in) and filled the room with light, electrified the
conversation and made old R--y falter over his marriage vows
within ten minutes. From then onwards, you have always been the
most loyal and indulgent of friends, forgetting no one as you
rapidly climbed to fame, and were raffled for by all parties--from
Sandringham to the crossing-sweeper.

Your early years will sell the book.

Bless you.


St. John Midleton was one of the rare people who tell the truth.
Some people do not lie, but have no truth to tell; others are too
agreeable--or too frightened--and lie; but the majority are
indifferent: they are the spectators of life and feel no
responsibility either towards themselves or their neighbour.

He was fundamentally humble, truthful and one of the few people I
know who are truly loyal and who would risk telling me, or any one
he loved, before confiding to an inner circle faults which both he
and I think might be corrected. I have had a long experience of
inner circles and am constantly reminded of the Spanish proverb,
"Remember your friend has a friend." I think you should either
leave the room when those you love are abused or be prepared to
warn them of what people are thinking. This is, as I know to my
cost, an unpopular view of friendship, but neither St. John nor I
would think it loyal to join in the laughter or censure of a
friend's folly.

Arthur Balfour himself--the most persistent of friends--remarked

"St. John pursues us with his malignant fidelity." [Footnote: The
word malignity was obviously used in the sense of the French

This was only a coloured way of saying that Midleton had none of
the detachment commonly found among friends; but, as long as we
are not merely responsible for our actions to the police, so long
must I believe in trying to help those we love.

St. John has the same high spirits and keenness now that he had
then and the same sweetness and simplicity. There are only a few
women whose friendships have remained as loving and true to me
since my girlhood as his--Lady Horner, Miss Tomlinson [Footnote:
Miss May Tomlinson, of Rye.], Lady Desborough, Mrs. Montgomery,
Lady Wemyss and Lady Bridges [Footnote: J Lady Bridges, wife of
General Sir Tom Bridges.]--but ever since we met in 1880 he has
taken an interest in me and all that concerns me. He was much
maligned when he was Secretary of State for War and bore it
without blame or bitterness. He had infinite patience, intrepid
courage and a high sense of duty; these combined to give him a
better place in the hearts of men than in the fame of newspapers.

His first marriage was into a family who were incapable of
appreciating his particular quality and flavour; even his mother-
in-law--a dear friend of mine--never understood him and was amazed
when I told her that her son-in-law was worth all of her children
put together, because he had more nature and more enterprise. I
have tested St. John now for many years and never found him

Lord Pembroke [Footnote: George, 13th Earl of Pembroke.] and
George Wyndham were the handsomest of the Souls. Pembroke was the
son of Sidney Herbert, famous as Secretary of State for War during
the Crimea. I met him first the year before I came out. Lord
Kitchener's friend, Lady Waterford--sister to the present Duke of
Beaufort--wrote to my mother asking if Laura could dine with her,
as she had been thrown over at the last minute and wanted a young
woman. As my sister was in the country, my mother sent me. I sat
next to Arthur Balfour; Lord Pembroke was on the other side, round
the corner of the table; and I remember being intoxicated with my
own conversation and the manner in which I succeeded in making
Balfour and Pembroke join in. I had no idea who the splendid
stranger was. He told me several years later that he had sent
round a note in the middle of that dinner to Blanchie Waterford,
asking her what the name of the girl with the red heels was, and
that, when he read her answer, "Margot Tennant," it conveyed
nothing to him. This occurred in 1881 and was for me an eventful
evening. Lord Pembroke was one of the four best-looking men I ever
saw: the others, as I have already said, were the late Earl of
Wemyss, Mr. Wilfrid Blunt--whose memoirs have been recently
published--and Lord D'Abernon [Footnote: Our Ambassador in
Berlin.]. He was six foot four, but his face was even more
conspicuous than his height. There was Russian blood in the
Herbert family and he was the eldest brother of the beautiful Lady
Ripon [Footnote: The late wife of the present Marquis of Ripon.].
He married Lady Gertrude Talbot, daughter of the twentieth Earl of
Shrewsbury and Talbot, who was nearly as fine to look at as he
himself. He told me among other things at that dinner that he had
known Disraeli and had been promised some minor post in his
government, but had been too ill at the time to accept it. This
developed into a discussion on politics and Peeblesshire, leading
up to our county neighbours; he asked me if I knew Lord Elcho,
[Footnote: The father of the present Earl of Wemyss and March.] of
whose beauty Ruskin had written, and who owned property in my

"Elcho," said he, "always expected to be invited to join the
government, but I said to Dizzy, 'Elcho is an impossible
politician; he has never understood the meaning of party
government and looks upon it as dishonest for even three people to
attempt to modify their opinions sufficiently to come to an
agreement, leave alone a Cabinet! He is an egotist!' To which
Disraeli replied, 'Worse than that! He is an Elchoist!'"

Although Lord Pembroke's views on all subjects were remarkably
wide--as shown by the book he published called Roots--he was a
Conservative. We formed a deep friendship and wrote to one another
till he died a few years after my marriage. In one of his letters
to me he added this postscript:

Keep the outer borders of your heart's sweet garden free from
garish flowers and wild and careless weeds, so that when your
fairy godmother turns the Prince's footsteps your way he may not,
distrusting your nature or his own powers, and only half-guessing
at the treasure within, tear himself reluctantly away, and pass
sadly on, without perhaps your ever knowing that he had been near.

This, I imagine, gave a correct impression of me as I appeared to
some people. "Garish flowers" and "wild and careless weeds"
describe my lack of pruning; but I am glad George Pembroke put
them on the "outer," not the inner, borders of my heart.

In the tenth verse of Curzon's poem, allusion is made to Lady
Pembroke's conversation, which though not consciously pretentious,
provoked considerable merriment. She "stumbled upwards into
vacuity," to quote my dear friend Sir Walter Raleigh.

There is no one left to-day at all like George Pembroke. His
combination of intellectual temperament, gregariousness, variety
of tastes--yachting, art, sport and literature--his beauty of
person and hospitality to foreigners made him the distinguished
centre of any company. His first present to me was Butcher and
Lang's translation of the Odyssey, in which he wrote on the fly-
leaf, "To Margot, who most reminds me of Homeric days, 1884," and
his last was his wedding present, a diamond dagger, which I always
wear close to my heart.

Among the Souls, Milly Sutherland [Footnote: The Dowager Duchess
of Sutherland.], Lady Windsor [Footnote: The present Countess of
Plymouth.] and Lady Granby [Footnote: The present Duchess of
Rutland.] were the women whose looks I admired most. Lady Brownlow
[Footnote: Countess Brownlow, who died a few years ago.],
mentioned in verse eleven, was Lady Pembroke's handsome sister and
a famous Victorian beauty. Lady Granby--the Violet of verse nine,
Gladys Ripon [Footnote: My friend Lady de Grey.] and Lady Windsor
(alluded to as Lady Gay in verse twenty-eight), were all women of
arresting appearance: Lady Brownlow, a Roman coin; Violet Rutland,
a Burne-Jones Medusa; Gladys Ripon, a court lady; Gay Windsor, an
Italian Primitive and Milly Sutherland, a Scotch ballad. Betty
Montgomery was a brilliant girl and the only unmarried woman,
except Mrs. Lyttelton, among us. She was the daughter of Sir Henry
Ponsonby, Queen Victoria's famous private secretary, and one of
the strongest Liberals I ever met. Her sister Maggie, though
socially uncouth, had a touch of her father's genius; she said of
a court prelate to me one day at Windsor Castle:

"There goes God's butler!"

It was through Betty and Maggie Ponsonby that I first met my
beloved friend, Lady Desborough. Though not as good-looking as the
beauties I have catalogued, nor more intellectual than Lady Horner
or Lady Wemyss, Lady Desborough was the cleverest of us. Her
flavour was more delicate, her social sensibility finer; and she
added to chronic presence of mind undisguised effrontery. I do not
suppose she was ever unconscious in her life, but she had no self-
pity and no egotism. She was not an artist in any way: music,
singing, flowers, painting and colour left her cold. She was not a
game-player nor was she sporting and she never invested in parlour
tricks; yet she created more fun for other people than anybody.
She was a woman of genius, who, if subtly and accurately
described, either in her mode of life, her charm, wits or
character, would have made the fortune of any novelist. To an
outsider she might--like all over-agreeable femmes du monde--give
an impression of light metal, but this would be misleading. Etty
Desborough was fundamentally sound, and the truest friend that
ever lived. Possessed of social and moral sang-froid of a high
order, she was too elegant to fall into the trap of the candid
friend, but nevertheless she could, when asked, give both counsel
and judgment with the sympathy of a man and the wisdom of a god.
She was the first person that I sought and that I would still seek
if I were unhappy, because her genius lay in a penetrating
understanding of the human heart and a determination to redress
the balance of life's unhappiness. Etty and I attracted the same
people. She married Willy Grenfell,[Footnote: Lord Desborough of
Taplow Court.] a man to whom I was much attached and a British
gladiator capable of challenging the world in boating and boxing.

Of their soldier sons, Julian and Billy, I cannot write. They and
their friends, Edward Horner, Charles Lister and Raymond Asquith
all fell in the war. They haunt my heart; I can see them in front
of me now, eternal sentinels of youth and manliness.

In spite of a voracious appetite for enjoyment and an expert
capacity in entertaining, Etty Desborough was perfectly happy
either alone with her family or alone with her books and could
endure, with enviable patience, cold ugly country-seats and
fashionable people. I said of her when I first knew her that she
ought to have lived in the days of the great King's mistresses. I
would have gone to her if I were sad, but never if I were guilty.
Most of us have asked ourselves at one time or another whom we
would go to if we had done a wicked thing; and the interesting
part of this question is that in the answer you will get the best
possible indication of human nature. Many have said to me, "I
would go to So-and-so, because they would understand my temptation
and make allowances for me"; but the majority would choose the
confidante most competent to point to the way of escape. Etty
Desborough would be that confidante.

She had neither father nor mother, but was brought up by two
prominent and distinguished members of the Souls, my life-long and
beloved friends, Lord and Lady Cowper of Panshanger, now, alas,
both dead. Etty had eternal youth and was alive to everything in
life except its irony.

If for health or for any other reason I had been separated from my
children when they were young, I would as soon have confided them
to the love of Etty and Willy Desborough as to any of my friends.

To illustrate the jealousy and friction which the Souls caused, I
must relate a conversational scrap I had at this time with Lady
Londonderry,[Footnote: The late Marchioness of Londonderry.] which
caused some talk among our critics.

She was a beautiful woman, a little before my day, happy,
courageous and violent, with a mind which clung firmly to the
obvious. Though her nature was impulsive and kind, she was not
forgiving. One day she said to me with pride:

"I am a good friend and a bad enemy. No kiss-and-make-friends
about me, my dear!"

I have often wondered since, as I did then, what the difference
between a good and a bad enemy is.

She was not so well endowed intellectually as her rival Lady de
Grey, but she had a stronger will and was of sounder temperament.

There was nothing wistful, reflective or retiring about Lady
Londonderry. She was keen and vivid, but crude and impenitent.

We were accused entre autres of being conceited and of talking
about books which we had not read, a habit which I have never had
the temerity to acquire. John Addington Symonds--an intimate
friend of mine--had brought out a book of essays, which were not
very good and caused no sensation.

One night, after dinner, I was sitting in a circle of fashionable
men and women--none of them particularly intimate with me--when
Lady Londonderry opened the talk about books. Hardly knowing her,
I entered with an innocent zest into the conversation. I was taken
in by her mention of Symonds' Studies in Italy, and thought she
must be literary. Launching out upon style, I said there was a
good deal of rubbish written about it, but it was essential that
people should write simply. At this some one twitted me with our
pencil-game of "Styles" and asked me if I thought I should know
the author from hearing a casual passage read out aloud from one
of their books. I said that some writers would be easy to
recognise--such as Meredith, Carlyle, De Quincey or Browning--but
that when it came to others--men like Scott or Froude, for
instance--I should not be so sure of myself. At this there was an
outcry: Froude, having the finest style in the world, ought surely
to be easily recognised! I was quite ready to believe that some of
the company had made a complete study of Froude's style, but I had
not. I said that I could not be sure, because his writing was too
smooth and perfect, and that, when I read him, I felt as if I was
swallowing arrow-root. This shocked them profoundly and I added
that, unless I were to stumble across a horseman coming over a
hill, or something equally fascinating, I should not even be sure
of recognising Scott's style. This scandalised the company. Lady
Londonderry then asked me if I admired Symonds' writing. I told
her I did not, although I liked some of his books. She seemed to
think that this was a piece of swagger on my part and, after
disagreeing with a lofty shake of her head, said in a challenging

"I should be curious to know, Miss Tennant, what you have read by

Feeling I was being taken on, I replied rather chillily:

"Oh, the usual sort of thing!"

Lady Londonderry, visibly irritated and with the confident air of
one who has a little surprise in store for the company, said:

"Have you by any chance looked at Essays, Suggestive and

MARGOT: "Yes, I've read them all."

LADY LONDONDERRY: "Really! Do you not approve of them?"

MARGOT: "Approve? I don't know what you mean." LADY LONDONDERRY:
"Do you not think the writing beautiful ... the style, I mean?"

MARGOT: "I think they are all very bad, but then I don't admire
Symonds' style."

LADY LONDONDERRY: "I am afraid you have not read the book."

This annoyed me; I saw the company were enchanted with their
spokeswoman, but I thought it unnecessarily rude and more than

I looked at her calmly and said:

"I am afraid, Lady Londonderry, you have not read the preface. The
book is dedicated to me. Symonds was a friend of mine and I was
staying at Davos at the time he was writing those essays. He was
rash enough to ask me to read one of them in manuscript and write
whatever I thought upon the margin. This I did, but he was
offended by something I scribbled. I was so surprised at his
minding that I told him he was never to show me any of his
unpublished work again, at which he forgave me and dedicated the
book to me."

After this flutter I was not taken on by fashionable ladies about

Lady Londonderry never belonged to the Souls, but her antagonist,
Lady de Grey, was one of its chief ornaments and my friend. She
was a luxurious woman of great beauty, with perfect manners and a
moderate sense of duty. She was the last word in refinement,
perception and charm. There was something septic in her nature and
I heard her say one day that the sound of the cuckoo made her feel
ill; but, although she was not lazy and seldom idle, she never
developed her intellectual powers or sustained herself by reading
or study of any kind. She had not the smallest sense of proportion
and, if anything went wrong in her entertainments--cold plates, a
flat souffle, or some one throwing her over for dinner--she became
almost impotent from agitation, only excusable if it had been some
great public disaster. She and Mr. Harry Higgins--an exceptionally
clever and devoted friend of mine--having revived the opera,
Bohemian society became her hobby; but a tenor in the country or a
dancer on the lawn are not really wanted; and, although she spent
endless time at Covent Garden and achieved considerable success,
restlessness devoured her. While receiving the adoration of a
small but influential circle, she appeared to me to have tried
everything to no purpose and, in spite of an experience which
queens and actresses, professionals and amateurs might well have
envied, she remained embarrassed by herself, fluid, brilliant and
uneasy. The personal nobility with which she worked her hospital
in the Great War years brought her peace.

Frances Horner [Footnote: Lady Horner, of Mells, Frome.] was more
like a sister to me than any one outside my own family. I met her
when she was Miss Graham and I was fourteen. She was a leader in
what was called the high art William Morris School and one of the
few girls who ever had a salon in London.

I was deeply impressed by her appearance, it was the fashion of
the day to wear the autumn desert in your hair and "soft shades"
of Liberty velveteen; but it was neither the unusualness of her
clothes nor the sight of Burne-Jones at her feet and Ruskin at her
elbow that struck me most, but what Charty's little boy, Tommy
Lister, called her "ghost eyes" and the nobility of her

There may be women as well endowed with heart, head, temper and
temperament as Frances Horner, but I have only met a few: Lady de
Vesci (whose niece, Cynthia, married our poet-son, Herbert), Lady
Betty Balfour[Footnote: Sister of the Earl of Lytton and wife of
Mr. Gerald Balfour.] and my daughter Elizabeth. With most women
the impulse to crab is greater than to praise and grandeur of
character is surprisingly lacking in them; but Lady Horner
comprises all that is best in my sex.

Mary Wemyss was one of the most distinguished of the Souls and was
as wise as she was just, truthful, tactful, and generous. She
might have been a great influence, as indeed she was always a
great pleasure, but she was both physically and mentally badly
equipped for coping with life and spent and wasted more time than
was justifiable on plans which could have been done by any good
servant. It would not have mattered the endless discussion whether
the brougham fetching one part of the family from one station and
a bus fetching another part of it from another interfered with a
guest catching a five or a five-to-five train--which could or
could not be stopped--if one could have been quite sure that Mary
Wemyss needed her friend so much that another opportunity would be
given for an intimate interchange of confidences; but plan-weaving
blinds people to a true sense of proportion and my beloved Mary
never had enough time for any of us. She is the only woman I know
or have ever known without smallness or touchiness of any kind.
Her juste milieu, if a trifle becalmed, amounts to genius; and I
was--and still am--more interested in her moral, social and
intellectual opinions than in most of my friends'. Some years ago
I wrote this in my diary about her:

"Mary is generally a day behind the fair and will only hear of my
death from the man behind the counter who is struggling to clinch
her over a collar for her chow."

One of the less prominent of the Souls was my friend, Lionel
Tennyson.[Footnote: Brother of the present Lord Tennyson.] He was
the second son of the poet and was an official in the India
Office. He had an untidy appearance, a black beard and no manners.
He sang German beer-songs in a lusty voice and wrote good verses.

He sent me many poems, but I think these two are the best. The
first was written to me on my twenty-first birthday, before the
Souls came into existence:

    What is a single flower when the world is white
      with may?
    What is a gift to one so rich, a smile to one so gay?
    What is a thought to one so rich in the loving
      thoughts of men?
    How should I hope because I sigh that you will
      sigh again?
        Yet when you see my gift, you may
        (Ma bayadere aux yeux de jais)
        Think of me once to-day.

    Think of me as you will, dear girl, if you will let
      me be
    Somewhere enshrined within the fane of your pure
    Think of your poet as of one who only thinks of
    That you ARE all his thought, that he were happy
      if he knew--
        You DID receive his gift, and say
        (Ma bayadere aux yeux de jais)
        "He thinks of me to-day."

And this is the second:

    She drew me from my cosy seat,
    She drew me to her cruel feet,
    She whispered, "Call me Sally!"
    I lived upon her smile, her sigh,
    Alas, you fool, I knew not I
        Was only her pis-aller.

    The jade! she knew her business well,
    She made each hour a heaven or hell,
    For she could coax and rally;
    She was SO loving, frank and kind,
    That no suspicion crost my mind
        That I was her pis-aller.

    My brother says "I told you so!
    Her conduct was not comme il faut,
    But strictly comme il fallait;
    She swore that she was fond and true;
    No doubt she was, poor girl, but you
        Were only her pis-aller."

He asked me what I would like him to give me for a birthday
present, and I said:

"If you want to give me pleasure, take me down to your father's
country house for a Saturday to Monday."

This Lionel arranged; and he and I went down to Aldworth,
Haslemere, together from London.

While we were talking in the train, a distinguished old lady got
in. She wore an ample black satin skirt, small black satin
slippers in goloshes, a sable tippet and a large, picturesque lace
bonnet. She did not appear to be listening to our conversation,
because she was reading with an air of concentration; but, on
looking at her, I observed her eyes fixed upon me. I wore a
scarlet cloak trimmed with cock's feathers and a black, three-
cornered hat. When we arrived at our station, the old lady tipped
a porter to find out from my luggage who I was; and when she died
--several years later--she left me in her will one of my most
valuable jewels. This was Lady Margaret Beaumont; and I made both
her acquaintance and friendship before her death.

Lady Tennyson was an invalid; and we were received on our arrival
by the poet. Tennyson was a magnificent creature to look at. He
had everything: height, figure, carriage, features and expression.
Added to this he had what George Meredith said of him to me, "the
feminine hint to perfection." He greeted me by saying:

"Well, are you as clever and spurty as your sister Laura?"

I had never heard the word "spurty" before, nor indeed have I
since. To answer this kind of frontal attack one has to be either
saucy or servile; so I said nothing memorable. We sat down to tea
and he asked me if I wanted him to dress for dinner, adding:

"Your sister said of me, you know, that I was both untidy and

To which I replied:

"Did you mind this?"

TENNYSON: "I wondered if it was true. Do you think I'm dirty?"

MARGOT: "You are very handsome."

TENNYSON: "I can see by that remark that you think I am. Very well
then, I will dress for dinner. Have you read Jane Welsh Carlyle's

MARGOT: "Yes, I have, and I think them excellent. It seems a
pity," I added, with the commonplace that is apt to overcome one
in a first conversation with a man of eminence, "that they were
ever married; with any one but each other, they might have been
perfectly happy."

TENNYSON: "I totally disagree with you. By any other arrangement
four people would have been unhappy instead of two."

After this I went up to my room. The hours kept at Aldworth were
peculiar; we dined early and after dinner the poet went to bed. At
ten o'clock he came downstairs and, if asked, would read his
poetry to the company till past midnight.

I dressed for dinner with great care that first night and, placing
myself next to him when he came down, I asked him to read out loud
to me.

TENNYSON: "What do you want me to read?"

MARGOT: "Maud."

TENNYSON: "That was the poem I was cursed for writing! When it
came out no word was bad enough for me! I was a blackguard, a
ruffian and an atheist! You will live to have as great a contempt
for literary critics and the public as I have, my child!"

While he was speaking, I found on the floor, among piles of books,
a small copy of Maud, a shilling volume, bound in blue paper. I
put it into his hands and, pulling the lamp nearer him, he began
to read.

There is only one man--a poet also--who reads as my host did; and
that is my beloved friend, Professor Gilbert Murray. When I first
heard him at Oxford, I closed my eyes and felt as if the old poet
were with me again.

Tennyson's reading had the lilt, the tenderness and the rhythm
that makes music in the soul. It was neither singing, nor
chanting, nor speaking, but a subtle mixture of the three; and the
effect upon me was one of haunting harmonies that left me
profoundly moved.

He began, "Birds in the high Hall-garden," and, skipping the next
four sections, went on to, "I have led her home, my love, my only
friend," and ended with:

    There has fallen a splendid tear
      From the passion-flower at the gate.
    She is coming, my dove, my dear,
      She is coming, my life, my fate;
    The red rose cries, "She is near, she is near;"
      And the white rose weeps, "She is late;"
    The larkspur listens, "I hear, I hear;"
      And the lily whispers, "I wait."

    She is coming, my own, my sweet;
      Were it ever so airy a tread,
    My heart would hear her and beat,
      Were it earth in an earthly bed;
    My dust would hear her and beat,
      Had I lain for a century dead;
    Would start and tremble under her feet,
      And blossom in purple and red.

When he had finished, he pulled me on to his knee and said:

"Many may have written as well as that, but nothing that ever
sounded so well!"

I could not speak.

He then told us that he had had an unfortunate experience with a
young lady to whom he was reading Maud.

"She was sitting on my knee," he said, "as you are doing now, and
after reading,

   Birds in the high Hall-garden
   When twilight was falling,
   Maud, Maud, Maud, Maud,
   They were crying and calling,

I asked her what bird she thought I meant. She said, 'A
nightingale.' This made me so angry that I nearly flung her to the
ground: 'No, fool! ... Rook!' said I."

I got up, feeling rather sorry for the young lady, but was so
afraid he was going to stop reading that I quickly opened The
Princess and put it into his hands, and he went on.

I still possess the little Maud, bound in its blue paper cover,
out of which he read to us, with my name written in it by

The morning after my arrival I was invited by our host to go for a
walk with him, which flattered me very much; but after walking at
a great pace over rough ground for two hours I regretted my
vanity. Except my brother Glenconner I never met such an easy
mover. The most characteristic feature left on my mind of that
walk was Tennyson's appreciation of other poets.

Writing of poets, I come to George Wyndham. [Footnote: The late
Right Hon. George Wyndham.] It would be superfluous to add
anything to what has already been published of him, but he was
among the best-looking and most lovable of my circle.

He was a young man of nature endowed with even greater beauty than
his sister, Lady Glenconner, but with less of her literary talent.
Although his name will always be associated with the Irish Land
Act, he was more interested in literature than politics, and, with
a little self-discipline, might have been eminent in both.

Mr. Harry Cust is the last of the Souls that I intend writing
about and was in some ways the rarest end the most brilliant of
them all. Some one who knew him well wrote truly of him after he

"He tossed off the cup of life without fear of it containing any
poison, but like many wilful men he was deficient in will-power."

The first time I ever saw Harry Cust was in Grosvenor Square,
where he had come to see my sister Laura. A few weeks later I
found her making a sachet, which was an unusual occupation for
her, and she told me it was for "Mr. Cust," who was going to
Australia for his health.

He remained abroad for over a year and, on the night of the
Jubilee, 1887, he walked into our house where we were having
supper. He had just returned from Australia, and was terribly
upset to hear that Laura was dead.

Harry Cust had an untiring enthusiasm for life. At Eton he had
been captain of the school and he was a scholar of Trinity. He had
as fine a memory as Professor Churton Collins or my husband and an
unplumbed sea of knowledge, quoting with equal ease both poetry
and prose. He edited the Pall Mall Gazette brilliantly for several
years. With his youth, brains and looks, he might have done
anything in life; but he was fatally self-indulgent and success
with my sex damaged his public career. He was a fastidious critic
and a faithful friend, fearless, reckless and unforgettable.

He wrote one poem, which appeared anonymously in the Oxford Book
of English Verse:

    Not unto us, O Lord,
    Not unto us the rapture of the day,
    The peace of night, or love's divine surprise,
    High heart, high speech, high deeds 'mid
      honouring eyes;
    For at Thy word
    All these are taken away.

    Not unto us, O Lord:
    To us Thou givest the scorn, the scourge, the scar,
    The ache of life, the loneliness of death,
    The insufferable sufficiency of breath;
    And with Thy sword
    Thou piercest very far.

    Not unto us, O Lord:
    Nay, Lord, but unto her be all things given--
    My light and life and earth and sky be blasted--
    But let not all that wealth of love be wasted:
    Let Hell afford
    The pavement of her Heaven!

I print also a letter in verse sent to me on October 20th, 1887:

    I came in to-night, made as woful as worry can,
    Heart like a turnip and head like a hurricane,
    When lo! on my dull eyes there suddenly leaped a
    Bright flash of your writing, du Herzensgeliebte;
    And I found that the life I was thinking so leavable
    Had still something in it made living conceivable;
    And that, spite of the sores and the bores and the
         flaws in it,
    My own life's the better for small bits of yours in it;
    And it's only to tell you just that that I write to
    And just for the pleasure of saying good night to
    For I've nothing to tell you and nothing to talk
    Save that I eat and I sleep and I walk about.
    Since three days past does the indolent I bury
    Myself in the British Museum Lib'ary,
    Trying in writing to get in my hand a bit,
    And reading Dutch books that I don't understand
         a bit:
    But to-day Lady Charty and sweet Mrs. Lucy em-
    Broidered the dusk of the British Museum,
    And made me so happy by talking and laughing on
    That I loved them more than the frieze of the
    But I'm sleepy I know and don't know if I silly
    Dined to-night with your sisters, where Tommy
         was brilliant;
    And, while I the rest of the company deafened, I
    Dallied awhile with your auntlet of seventy,
    While one, Mr. Winsloe, a volume before him,
    Regarded us all with a moody decorum.
    No, I can't keep awake, and so, bowing and blessing
    And seeing and loving (while slowly undressing)
    Take your small hand and kiss, with a drowsed
         benediction, it
    Knowing, as you, I'm your ever affectionate


I had another friend, James Kenneth Stephen, too pagan, wayward
and lonely to be available for the Souls, but a man of genius. One
afternoon he came to see me in Grosvenor Square and, being told by
the footman that I was riding in the Row, he asked for tea and,
while waiting for me wrote the following parody of Kipling and
left it on my writing-table with his card:


We all called him The Man who Wrote It. And we called It what the
man wrote, or IT for short--all of us that is, except The Girl
who Read It. She never called anything "It." She wasn't that sort
of girl, but she read It, which was a pity from the point of view
of The Man who Wrote It.

The man is dead now.

Dropped down a cud out beyond Karachi, and was brought home more
like broken meat in a basket. But that's another story.

The girl read It, and told It, and forgot all about It, and in a
week It was all over the station. I heard it from Old Bill Buffles
at the club while we were smoking between a peg and a hot weather

J. K. S.

I was delighted with this. Another time he wrote a parody of
Myers' "St. Paul" for me. I will only quote one verse out of the

    Lo! what the deuce I'm always saying "Lo!" for
    God is aware and leaves me uninformed.
    Lo! there is nothing left for me to go for,
    Lo! there is naught inadequately formed.

He ended by signing his name and writing:

    Souvenez-vous si les vers que je trace
    Fussent parfois (je l'avoue!) l'argot,
    Si vous trouvez un peu trop d'audace
         On ose tout quand on se dit

My dear friend J.K.S. was responsible for the aspiration
frequently quoted:

    When the Rudyards cease from Kipling
    And the Haggards ride no more.

Although I can hardly claim Symonds as a Soul, he was so much
interested in me and my friends that I must write a short account
of him.

I was nursing my sister, Pauline Gordon Duff, when I first met
John Addington Symonds, in 1885, at Davos.

I climbed up to Am Hof[Footnote: J. A. Symonds's country house.]
one afternoon with a letter of introduction, which was taken to
the family while I was shown into a wooden room full of charming
things. As no one came near me, I presumed every one was out, so I
settled down peacefully among the books, prepared to wait. In a
little time I heard a shuffle of slippered feet and some one
pausing at the open door.

"Has he gone?" was the querulous question that came from behind
the screen.

And in a moment the thin, curious face of John Addington Symonds
was peering at me round the corner.

There was nothing for it but to answer:

"No I am afraid she is still here!"

Being the most courteous of men, he smiled and took my hand; and
we went up to his library together.

Symonds and I became very great friends.

After putting my sister to bed at 9.30, I climbed every night by
starlight up to Am Hof, where we talked and read out loud till one
and often two in the morning. I learnt more in those winter nights
at Davos than I had ever learnt in my life. We read The Republic
and all the Plato dialogues together; Swift, Voltaire, Browning,
Walt Whitman, Edgar Poe and Symonds' own Renaissance, besides
passages from every author and poet, which he would turn up
feverishly to illustrate what he wanted me to understand.

I shall always think Lord Morley [Footnote: Viscount Morley of
Blackburn.] the best talker I ever heard and after him I would say
Symonds, Birrell and Bergson. George Meredith was too much of a
prima donna and was very deaf and uninterruptable when I knew him,
but he was amazingly good even then. Alfred Austin was a friend of
his and had just been made Poet Laureate by Lord Salisbury, when
my beloved friend Admiral Maxse took me down to the country to see
Meredith for the first time. Feeling more than usually stupid, I
said to him:

"Well Mr. Meredith, I wonder what your friend Alfred Austin thinks
of his appointment?"

Shaking his beautiful head he replied:

"It is very hard to say what a bantam is thinking when it is

Symonds' conversation is described in Stevenson's essay on Talks
and Talkers, but no one could ever really give the fancy, the
epigram, the swiftness and earnestness with which he not only
expressed himself but engaged you in conversation. This and his
affection combined to make him an enchanting companion.

The Swiss postmen and woodmen constantly joined us at midnight and
drank Italian wines out of beautiful glass which our host had
brought from Venice; and they were our only interruptions when
Mrs. Symonds and the handsome girls went to bed. I have many
memories of seeing our peasant friends off from Symonds' front
door, and standing by his side in the dark, listening to the crack
of their whips and their yodels yelled far down the snow roads
into the starry skies.

When I first left him and returned to England, Mrs. Symonds told
me he sat up all night, filling a blank book with his own poems
and translations, which he posted to me in the early morning. We
corresponded till he died; and I have kept every letter that he
ever wrote to me.

He was the first person who besought me to write. If only he were
alive now, I would show him this manuscript and, if any one could
make any thing of it by counsel, sympathy and encouragement; my
autobiography might become famous.

"You have l'oreille juste" he would say, "and I value your
literary judgment."

I will here insert some of his letters, beginning with the one he
sent down to our villa at Davos a propos of the essays over which
Lady Londonderry and I had our little breeze:

I am at work upon a volume of essays in art and criticism,
puzzling to my brain and not easy to write. I think I shall ask
you to read them.

I want an intelligent audience before I publish them. I want to
"try them on" somebody's mind--like a dress--to see how they fit.
Only you must promise to write observations and, most killing
remark of all, to say when the tedium of reading them begins to
overweigh the profit of my philosophy.

I think you could help me.

After the publication he wrote:

I am sorry that the Essays I dedicated to you have been a failure
--as I think they have been--to judge by the opinions of the
Press. I wanted, when I wrote them, only to say the simple truth
of what I thought and felt in the very simplest language I could

What the critics say is that I have uttered truisms in the
baldest, least attractive diction.

Here I find myself to be judged, and not unjustly. In the pursuit
of truth, I said what I had to say bluntly--and it seems I had
nothing but commonplaces to give forth. In the search for
sincerity of style, I reduced every proposition to its barest form
of language. And that abnegation of rhetoric has revealed the
nudity of my commonplaces.

I know that I have no wand, that I cannot conjure, that I cannot
draw the ears of men to listen to my words.

So, when I finally withdraw from further appeals to the public, as
I mean to do, I cannot pose as a Prospero who breaks his staff. I
am only a somewhat sturdy, highly nervous varlet in the sphere of
art, who has sought to wear the robe of the magician--and being
now disrobed, takes his place quietly where God appointed him, and
means to hold his tongue in future, since his proper function has
been shown him.

Thus it is with me. And I should not, my dear friend, have
inflicted so much of myself upon you, if I had not, unluckily, and
in gross miscalculation of my powers, connected your name with the
book which proves my incompetence.

Yes, the Master [Footnote: Dr. Jowett, Master of Balliol.] is
right: make as much of your life as you can: use it to the best
and noblest purpose: do not, when you are old and broken like me,
sit in the middle of the ruins of Carthage you have vainly
conquered, as I am doing now.

Now good bye. Keep any of my letters which seem to you worth
keeping. This will make me write better. I keep a great many of
yours. You will never lose a warm corner in the centre of the
heart of your friend


P.S. Live well. Live happy. Do not forget me. I like to think of
you in plenitude of life and activity. I should not be sorry for
you if you broke your neck in the hunting field. But, like the
Master, I want you to make sure of the young, powerful life you
have--before the inevitable, dolorous, long, dark night draws

Later on, a propos of his translation of the Autobiography of
Benvenuto Cellini, he wrote:

I am so glad that you like my Cellini. The book has been a
success; and I am pleased, though I am not interested in its sale.
The publisher paid me L210 for my work, which I thought very good


I wrote to you in a great hurry yesterday, and with some bothering
thoughts in the background of my head.

So I did not tell you how much I appreciated your critical insight
into the points of my Introduction to Cellini. I do not rate that
piece of writing quite as highly as you do. But you "spotted" the
best thing in it--the syllogism describing Cellini's state of mind
as to Bourbon's death.

It is true, I think, what you say: that I have been getting more
nervous and less elaborate in style of late years. This is very
natural. One starts in life with sensuous susceptibilities to
beauty, with a strong feeling for colour and for melodious
cadence, and also with an impulsive enthusiastic way of expressing
oneself. This causes young work to seem decorated and laboured,
whereas it very often is really spontaneous and hasty, more
instructive and straightforward than the work of middle life. I
write now with much more trouble and more slowly, and with much
less interest in my subject than I used to do. This gives me more
command over the vehicle, language, than I used to have. I write
what pleases myself less, but what probably strikes other people

This is a long discourse; but not so much about myself as appears.
I was struck with your insight, and I wanted to tell you how I
analyse the change of style which you point out, and which
results, I think, from colder, more laborious, duller effort as
one grows in years.

The artist ought never to be commanded by his subject, or his
vehicle of expression. But until he ceases to love both with a
blind passion, he will probably be so commanded. And then his
style will appear decorative, florid, mixed, unequal, laboured. It
is the sobriety of a satiated or blunted enthusiasm which makes
the literary artist. He ought to remember his dithyrambic moods,
but not to be subject to them any longer, nor to yearn after them.

Do you know that I have only just now found the time, during my
long days and nights in bed with influenza and bronchitis, to read
Marie Bashkirtseff? (Did ever name so puzzling grow upon the
Ygdrasil of even Russian life?)

By this time you must be quite tired of hearing from your friends
how much Marie Bashkirtseff reminds them of you.

I cannot help it. I must say it once again. I am such a fossil
that I permit myself the most antediluvian remarks--if I think
they have a grain of truth in them. Of course, the dissimilarities
are quite as striking as the likenesses. No two leaves on one
linden are really the same. But you and she, detached from the
forest of life, seem to me like leaves plucked from the same sort
of tree.

It is a very wonderful book. If only messieurs les romanciers
could photograph experience in their fiction as she has done in
some of her pages! The episode of Pachay, short as that is, is
masterly--above the reach of Balzac; how far above the laborious,
beetle--flight of Henry James! Above even George Meredith. It is
what James would give his right hand to do once. The episode of
Antonelli is very good, too, but not so exquisite as the other.

There is something pathetic about both "Asolando" and "Demeter,"
those shrivelled blossoms from the stout old laurels touched with
frost of winter and old age. But I find little to dwell upon in
either of them. Browning has more sap of life--Tennyson more ripe
and mellow mastery. Each is here in the main reproducing his

I am writing to you, you see, just as if I had not been silent for
so long. I take you at your word, and expect Margot to be always
the same to a comrade.

If you were only here! Keats said that "heard melodies are sweet,
but those unheard are sweeter." How false!

    Yes, thus it is: somewhere by me
      Unheard, by me unfelt, unknown,
    The laughing, rippling notes of thee
      Are sounding still; while I alone
    Am left to sit and sigh and say--
      Music unheard is sweet as they.

This is no momentary mood, and no light bubble-breath of
improvisatory verse. It expresses what I often feel when, after a
long night's work, I light my candle and take a look before I go
to bed at your portrait in the corner of my stove.

I have been labouring intensely at my autobiography. It is blocked
out, and certain parts of it are written for good. But a thing of
this sort ought to be a master's final piece of work--and it is
very exhausting to produce.



I am sending you back your two typewritten records. They are both
very interesting, the one as autobiographical and a study of your
family, the other as a vivid and, I think, justly critical picture
of Gladstone. It will have a great literary value sometime. I do
not quite feel with Jowett, who told you, did he not? that you had
made him UNDERSTAND Gladstone. But I feel that you have offered an
extremely powerful and brilliant conception, which is impressive
and convincing because of your obvious sincerity and breadth of
view. The purely biographical and literary value of this bit of
work seems to me very great, and makes me keenly wish that you
would record all your interesting experiences, and your first-hand
studies of exceptional personalities in the same way.

Gradually, by doing this, you would accumulate material of real
importance; much better than novels or stories, and more valuable
than the passionate utterances of personal emotion.

Did I ever show you the record I privately printed of an evening
passed by me at Woolner, the sculptor's, when Gladstone met
Tennyson for the first time? If I had been able to enjoy more of
such incidents, I should also have made documents. But my
opportunities have been limited. For future historians, the
illuminative value of such writing will be incomparable.

I suppose I must send the two pieces back to Glen. Which I will
do, together with this letter. Let me see what you write. I think
you have a very penetrative glimpse into character, which comes
from perfect disengagement and sympathy controlled by a critical
sense. The absence of egotism is a great point.

When Symonds died I lost my best intellectual tutor as well as one
of my dearest friends. I wish I had taken his advice and seriously
tried to write years ago, but, except for a few magazine sketches,
I have never written a line for publication in my life. I have
only kept a careful and accurate diary, [Footnote: Out of all my
diaries I have hardly been able to quote fifty pages, for on re-
reading them I find they are not only full of Cabinet secrets but
jerky, disjointed and dangerously frank.] and here, in the
interests of my publishers and at the risk of being thought
egotistical, it is not inappropriate that I should publish the
following letters in connection with these diaries and my writing:


April 9th, 1915.


By what felicity of divination were you inspired to send me a few
days ago that wonderful diary under its lock and key?--feeling so
rightly certain, I mean, of the peculiar degree and particular
PANG of interest that I should find in it? I don't wonder, indeed,
at your general presumption to that effect, but the mood, the
moment, and the resolution itself conspired together for me, and I
have absorbed every word of every page with the liveliest
appreciation, and I think I may say intelligence. I have read the
thing intimately, and I take off my hat to you as to the very
Balzac of diarists. It is full of life and force and colour, of a
remarkable instinct for getting close to your people and things
and for squeezing, in the case of the resolute portraits of
certain of your eminent characters, especially the last drop of
truth and sense out of them--at least as the originals affected
YOUR singularly searching vision. Happy, then, those who had, of
this essence, the fewest secrets or crooked lives to yield up to
you--for the more complicated and unimaginable some of them
appear, the more you seem to me to have caught and mastered them.
Then I have found myself hanging on your impression in each case
with the liveliest suspense and wonder, so thrillingly does the
expression keep abreast of it and really translate it. This and
your extraordinary fullness of opportunity, make of the record a
most valuable English document, a rare revelation of the human
inwardness of political life in this country, and a picture of
manners and personal characters as "creditable" on the whole (to
the country) as it is frank and acute. The beauty is that you
write with such authority, that you've seen so much and lived and
moved so much, and that having so the chance to observe and feel
and discriminate in the light of so much high pressure, you
haven't been in the least afraid, but have faced and assimilated
and represented for all you're worth.

I have lived, you see, wholly out of the inner circle of political
life, and yet more or less in wondering sight, for years, of many
of its outer appearances, and in superficial contact--though this,
indeed, pretty anciently now--with various actors and figures,
standing off from them on my quite different ground and neither
able nor wanting to be of the craft of mystery (preferring, so to
speak, my own poor, private ones, such as they have been) and yet
with all sorts of unsatisfied curiosities and yearnings and
imaginings in your general, your fearful direction. Well, you take
me by the hand and lead me back and in, and still in, and make
things beautifully up to me--ALL my losses and misses and
exclusions and privation--and do it by having taken all the right
notes, apprehended all the right values and enjoyed all the right
reactions--meaning by the right ones, those that must have
ministered most to interest and emotion; those that I dimly made
you out as getting while I flattened my nose against the shop
window and you were there within, eating the tarts, shall I say,
or handing them over the counter? It's to-day as if you had taken
all the trouble for me and left me at last all the unearned
increment or fine psychological gain! I have hovered about two or
three of your distinguished persons a bit longingly (in the past);
but you open up the abysses, or such like, that I really missed,
and the torch you play over them is often luridly illuminating. I
find my experience, therefore, the experience of simply reading
you (you having had all t'other) veritably romantic. But I want so
to go on that I deplore your apparent arrest--Saint Simon is in
forty volumes--why should Margot be put in one? Your own portrait
is an extraordinarily patient and detached and touch-upon-touch
thing; but the book itself really constitutes an image of you by
its strength of feeling and living individual tone. An admirable
portrait of a lady, with no end of finish and style, is thereby
projected, and if I don't stop now, I shall be calling it a
regular masterpiece. Please believe how truly touched I am by your
confidence in your faithful, though old, friend,


My dear and distinguished friend Lord Morley sent me the following
letter of the 15th of September, 1919, and it was in consequence
of this letter that, two months afterwards, on November the 11th,
1919, I began to write this book:



Your kindest of letters gave me uncommon pleasure, both personal
and literary. Personal, because I like to know that we are still
affectionate friends, as we have been for such long, important and
trying years. Literary--because it is a brilliant example of that
character-writing in which the French so indisputably beat us. If
you like, you can be as keen and brilliant and penetrating as
Madame de Sevigne or the best of them, and if I were a publisher,
I would tempt you by high emoluments and certainty of fame. You
ask me to leave you a book when I depart this life. If I were your
generous well-wisher, I should not leave, but give you, my rather
full collection of French Memoirs now while I am alive. Well, I am
in very truth your best well-wisher, but incline to bequeath my
modern library to a public body of female ladies, if you pardon
that odd and inelegant expression. I have nothing good or
interesting to tell you of myself. My strength will stand no tax
upon it.

The bequest from my old friend [Footnote: Andrew Carnegie.] in
America was a pleasant refresher, and it touched me, considering
how different we were in training, character, tastes, temperament.
I was first introduced to him with commendation by Mr. Arnold--a
curious trio, wasn't it? He thought, and was proud of it, that he,
A. C., introduced M. A. and me to the United States.

I watch events and men here pretty vigilantly, with what good and
hopeful spirits you can imagine. When you return do pay me a
visit. There's nobody who would be such a tonic to an

Always, always, your affectionate friend,

J. M.

When I had been wrestling with this autobiography for two months I
wrote and told John Morley of my venture, and this is his reply:



A bird in the air had already whispered the matter of your
literary venture, and I neither had nor have any doubt at all that
the publisher knew very well what he was about. The book will be
bright in real knowledge of the world; rich in points of life;
sympathetic with human nature, which in strength and weakness is
never petty or small.

Be sure to TRUST YOURSELF; and don't worry about critics. You need
no words to tell you how warmly I am interested in your great
design. PERSEVERE.

How kind to bid me to your royal [Footnote: I invited him to meet
the Prince of Wales.] meal. But I am too old for company that
would be so new, so don't take it amiss, my best of friends, if I
ask to be bidden when I should see more of YOU. You don't know how
dull a man, once lively, can degenerate into being.

Your always affectionate and grateful


To return to my triumphant youth: I will end this chapter with a
note which my friend, Lady Frances Balfour--one of the few women
of outstanding intellect that I have known--sent me from her
father, the late Duke of Argyll, the wonderful orator of whom it
was said that he was like a cannon being fired off by a canary.

Frances asked me to meet him at a small dinner and placed me next
to him. In the course of our conversation, he quoted these words
that he had heard in a sermon preached by Dr. Caird:

"Oh! for the time when Church and State shall no longer be the
watchword of opposing hosts, when every man shall be a priest and
every priest shall be a king, as priest clothed with
righteousness, as king with power!"

I made him write them down for me, and we discussed religion,
preachers and politics at some length before I went home.

The next morning he wrote to his daughter:



How dare you ask me to meet a syren.

Your affectionate,




I shall open this chapter of my autobiography with a character-
sketch of myself, written at Glen in one of our pencil-games in
January, 1888. Nearly every one in the room guessed that I was the
subject, but opinions differed as to the authorship. Some thought
that our dear and clever friend, Godfrey Webb, had written it as a
sort of joke.

"In appearance she was small, with rapid, nervous movements;
energetic, never wholly ungraceful, but inclined to be restless.
Her face did not betray the intelligence she possessed, as her
eyes, though clear and well-shaped, were too close together. Her
hawky nose was bent over a short upper lip and meaningless mouth.
The chin showed more definite character than her other features,
being large, bony and prominent, and she had curly, pretty hair,
growing well on a finely-cut forehead; the ensemble healthy and
mobile; in manner easy, unself-conscious, emphatic, inclined to be
noisy from over-keenness and perfectly self-possessed.
Conversation graphic and exaggerated, eager and concentrated, with
a natural gift of expression. Her honesty more a peculiarity than
a virtue. Decision more of instinct than of reason; a disengaged
mind wholly unfettered by prejudice. Very observant and a fine
judge of her fellow-creatures, finding all interesting and worthy
of her speculation. She was not easily depressed by antagonistic
circumstances or social situations hostile to herself--on the
contrary, her spirit rose in all losing games. She was assisted in
this by having no personal vanity, the highest vitality and great
self-confidence. She was self-indulgent, though not selfish, and
had not enough self-control for her passion and impetuosity; it
was owing more to dash and grit than to any foresight that she
kept out of difficulties. She distrusted the dried-up advice of
many people, who prefer coining evil to publishing good. She was
lacking in awe, and no respecter of persons; loving old people
because she never felt they were old. Warm-hearted, and with much
power of devotion, thinking no trouble too great to take for those
you love, and agreeing with Dr. Johnson that friendships should be
kept in constant repair. Too many interests and too many-sided.
Fond of people, animals, books, sport, music, art and exercise.
More Bohemian than exclusive and with a certain power of investing
acquaintances and even bores with interest. Passionate love of
Nature. Lacking in devotional, practising religion; otherwise
sensitively religious. Sensible; not easily influenced for good or
evil. Jealous, keen and faithful in affection. Great want of
plodding perseverance, doing many things with promise and nothing
well. A fine ear for music: no execution; a good eye for drawing:
no knowledge or practice in perspective; more critical than
constructive. Very cool and decided with horses. Good nerve, good
whip and a fine rider. Intellectually self-made, ambitious,
independent and self-willed. Fond of admiration and love from both
men and women, and able to give it."

I sent this to Dr. Jowett with another character-sketch of
Gladstone. After reading them, he wrote me this letter:

BALL. COLL. Oct. 23rd, 1890.


I return the book [Footnote: A commonplace book with a few written
sketches of people in it.] which you entrusted to me: I was very
much interested by it. The sketch of Gladstone is excellent. Pray
write some more of it some time: I understand him better after
reading it.

The young lady's portrait of herself is quite truthful and not at
all flattered: shall I add a trait or two? "She is very sincere
and extremely clever; indeed, her cleverness almost amounts to
genius. She might be a distinguished authoress if she would--but
she wastes her time and her gifts scampering about the world and
going from one country house to another in a manner not pleasant
to look back upon and still less pleasant to think of twenty years
hence, when youth will have made itself wings and fled away."

If you know her, will you tell her with my love, that I do not
like to offer her any more advice, but I wish that she would take
counsel with herself. She has made a great position, though
slippery and dangerous: will she not add to this a noble and
simple life which can alone give a true value to it? The higher we
rise, the more self-discipline, self-control and economy is
required of us. It is a hard thing to be in the world but not of
it; to be outwardly much like other people and yet to be
cherishing an ideal which extends over the whole of life and
beyond; to have a natural love for every one, especially for the
poor; to get rid, not of wit or good humour, but of frivolity and
excitement; to live "selfless" according to the Will of God and
not after the fashions and opinions of men and women.

Stimulated by this and the encouragement of Lionel Tennyson--a new
friend--I was anxious to start a newspaper. When I was a little
girl at Glen, there had been a schoolroom paper, called "The Glen
Gossip: The Tennant Tatler, or The Peeblesshire Prattler." I
believe my brother Eddy wrote the wittiest verses in it; but I was
too young to remember much about it or to contribute anything. I
had many distinguished friends by that time, all of whom had
promised to write for me. The idea was four or five numbers to be
illustrated by my sister Lucy Graham Smith, and a brilliant
letter-press, but, in spite of much discussion among ourselves, it
came to nothing. I have always regretted this, as, looking at the
names of the contributors and the programme for the first number,
I think it might have been a success. The title of the paper gave
us infinite trouble. We ended by adopting a suggestion of my own,
and our new venture was to have been called "To-morrow." This is
the list of people who promised to write for me, and the names
they suggested for the paper:

Lord and Lady Pembroke    Sympathetic Ink.
                          The Idle Pen.
                          The Mail.
                          The Kite.
                          Blue Ink.

Mr. A. Lyttelton          The Hen.
                          The Chick.

Mr. Knowles               The Butterfly.
Mr. A. J. Balfour         The New Eve.
                          Mrs. Grundy.

Mr. Oscar Wilde           The Life Improver.
                          Mrs. Grundy's Daughter.

Lady Ribblesdale          Jane.
                          The Mask.

Margot Tennant            The Mangle.
                          Dolly Varden.

Mr. Webb                  The Petticoat.

Mrs. Horner               She.

Miss Mary Leslie          The Sphinx.
                          Blue Veil.

Sir A. West               The Spinnet.
                          The Spinning-Wheel.

Mr. J. A. Symonds         Muses and Graces.
                          Causeries en peignoir.
                          Woman's Wit and Humour.

The contributors on our staff were to have been Laurence Oliphant,
J. K. Stephen, Mr. Wilfrid Blunt, Hon. George Curzon, George
Wyndham, Godfrey Webb, Doll Liddell, Harry Cust, Mr. Knowles (the
editor of the Nineteenth Century), the Hon. A. Lyttelton, Mr. A.
J. Balfour, Oscar Wilde, Lord and Lady Ribblesdale, Mrs. (now
Lady) Horner, Sir Algernon West, Lady Frances Balfour, Lord and
Lady Pembroke, Miss Betty Ponsonby (the present Mrs. Montgomery),
John Addington Symonds, Dr. Jowett (the Master of Balliol), M.
Coquelin, Sir Henry Irving, Miss Ellen Terry, Sir Edward Burne-
Jones, Mr. George Russell, Mrs. Singleton (alias Violet Fane,
afterwards Lady Currie), Lady de Grey, Lady Constance Leslie and
the Hon. Lionel Tennyson.

Our programme for the first number was to have been the following:


Leader                Persons and Politics    Margot Tennant.

The Social Zodiac     Rise and fall of
                      Professional Beauties   Lady de Grey.

Occasional Articles   The Green-eyed          Violet Fane (nom-
                      Monster                 de-plume of
                                              Mrs. Singleton).

Occasional Notes      Foreign and Colonial
                      Gossip                  Harry Cust.

Men and Women         Character Sketch        Margot Tennant.

Story                                         Oscar Wilde.

Poem                                          Godfrey Webb.

Letters to Men                                George Wyndham.

Books Reviewed                                John Addington

Conversations                                 Miss Ponsonby.

This is what I wrote for the first number:


"In Politics the common opinion is that measures are the important
thing, and that men are merely the instruments which each
generation produces, equal or unequal to the accomplishment of

"This is a mistake. The majority of mankind desire nothing so much
as to be led. They have no opinions of their own, and, half from
caution, half from laziness, are willing to leave the
responsibility to any stronger person. It is the personality of
the man which makes the masses turn to him, gives influence to his
ideas while he lives, and causes him to be remembered after both
he and his work are dead. From the time of Moses downwards,
history abounds in such examples. In the present century Napoleon
and Gladstone have perhaps impressed themselves most dramatically
on the public mind, and, in a lesser degree, Disraeli and Parnell.
The greatest men in the past have been superior to their age and
associated themselves with its glory only in so far as they have
contributed to it. But in these days the movement of time is too
rapid for us to recognise such a man: under modern conditions he
must be superior, not so much to his age, as to the men of his
age, and absorb what glory he can in his own personality.

"The Code Napoleon remains, but, beyond this, hardly one of
Napoleon's great achievements survives as a living embodiment of
his genius. Never was so vast a fabric so quickly created and so
quickly dissolved. The moment the individual was caught and
removed, the bewitched French world returned to itself; and the
fame of the army and the prestige of France were as mere echoes of
retreating thunder. Dead as are the results of Bonaparte's
measures and actions, no one would question the permanent vitality
of his name. It conjures up an image in the dullest brain; and
among all historical celebrities he is the one whom most of us
would like to have met.

"The Home Rule question, which has long distorted the public
judgment and looms large at the present political moment,
admirably illustrates the power of personality. Its importance has
been exaggerated; the grant of Home Rule will not save Ireland;
its refusal will not shame England. Its swollen proportions are
wholly due to the passionate personal feelings which Mr. Gladstone
alone among living statemen inspires. 'He is so powerful that his
thoughts are nearly acts,' as some one has written of him; and at
an age when most men would be wheeled into the chimney-corner, he
is at the head of a precarious majority and still retains enough
force to compel its undivided support.

"Mr. Chamberlain's power springs from the concentration of a
nature which is singularly free from complexity. The range of his
mind is narrow, but up to its horizon the whole is illuminated by
the same strong and rather garish light. The absoluteness of his
convictions is never shaded or softened by any play of imagination
or sympathetic insight. It is not in virtue of any exceptionally
fine or attractive quality, either of intellect or of character,
that Mr. Chamberlain has become a dominant figure. Strength of
will, directness of purpose, an aggressive and contagious belief
in himself: these--which are the notes of a compelling
individuality--made him what he is. On the other hand, culture,
intellectual versatility, sound and practised judgment, which was
tried and rarely found wanting in delicate and even dangerous
situations, did not suffice in the case of Mr. Matthews to redeem
the shortcomings of a diffuse and ineffective personality.

"In a different way, Mr. Goschen's remarkable endowments are
neutralised by the same limitations. He has infinite ingenuity,
but he can neither initiate nor propel; an intrepid debater in
council and in action, he is prey to an invincible indecision.

"If the fortunes of a Government depend not so much on its
measures as upon the character of the men who compose it, the new
Ministry starts with every chance of success.

"Lord Rosebery is one of our few statesmen whose individuality is
distinctly recognised by the public, both at home and abroad.

"Lord Spencer, without a trace of genius, is a person. Sir W.
Harcourt, the most brilliant and witty of them all, is, perhaps,
not more than a life-like imitation of a strong man. Mr. John
Morley has conviction, courage and tenacity; but an over-delicacy
of nervous organisation and a certain lack of animal spirits
disqualify him from being a leader of men.

"It is premature to criticise the new members of the Cabinet, of
whom the most conspicuous is Mr. Asquith. Beyond and above his
abilities and eloquence, there is in him much quiet force and a
certain vein of scornful austerity. His supreme contempt for the
superficial and his independence of mind might take him far.

"The future will not disclose its secrets, but personality still
governs the world, and the avenue is open to the man, wherever he
may be found, who can control and will not be controlled by
fashions of opinion and the shifting movement of causes and

My article is not at all good, but I put it in this autobiography
merely as a political prophecy.

To be imitative and uninfluenceable--although a common
combination--is a bad one. I am not tempted to be imitative
except, I hope, in the better sense of the word, but I regret to
own that I am not very influenceable either.

Jowett (the Master of Balliol in 1888-1889), my doctor, Sir John
Williams (of Aberystwyth), my son Anthony and old Lady Wemyss (the
mother of the present Earl) had more influence over me than any
other individuals in the world.

The late Countess of Wemyss, who died in 1896, was a great
character without being a character-part. She told me that she
frightened people, which distressed her. As I am not easily
frightened, I was puzzled by this. After thinking it over, I was
convinced that it was because she had a hard nut to crack within
herself: she possessed a jealous, passionate, youthful
temperament, a formidable standard of right and wrong, a
distinguished and rather stern accueil, a low, slow utterance and
terrifying sincerity. She was the kind of person I had dreamt of
meeting and never knew that God had made. She once told me that I
was the best friend man, woman or child could ever have. After
this wonderful compliment, we formed a deep attachment, which
lasted until her death. She had a unique power of devotion and
fundamental humbleness. I kept every letter she ever wrote to me.

When we left Downing Street in ten days--after being there for
over nine years--and had not a roof to cover our heads, our new
friends came to the rescue. I must add that many of the old ones
had no room for us and some were living in the country. Lady
Crewe[Footnote: The Marchioness of Crewe.]--young enough to be my
daughter, and a woman of rare honesty of purpose and clearness of
head--took our son Cyril in at Crewe House. Lady Granard[Footnote:
The Countess of Granard.] put up my husband; Mrs. Cavendish-
Bentinck--Lady Granard's aunt and one of God's own--befriended my
daughter Elizabeth; Mrs. George Keppel[Footnote: The Hon. Mrs.
Keppel.] always large-hearted and kind--gave me a whole floor of
her house in Grosvenor Street to live in, for as many months as I
liked, and Mrs. McKenna [Footnote: Mrs. McKenna, the daughter of
Lady Jekyll, and niece of Lady Horner.] took in my son Anthony. No
one has had such wonderful friends as I have had, but no one has
suffered more at discovering the instability of human beings and
how little power to love many people possess.

Few men and women surrender their wills; and it is considered
lowering to their dignity to own that they are in the wrong. I
never get over my amazement at this kind of self-value, it passes
all my comprehension. It is vanity and this fundamental lack of
humbleness that is the bed-rock of nearly every quarrel.

It was through my beloved Lady Wemyss that I first met the Master
of Balliol. One evening in 1888, after the men had come in from
shooting, we were having tea in the large marble hall at Gosford.
[Footnote: Gosford is the Earl of Wemyss' country place and is
situated between Edinburgh and North Berwick.] I generally wore an
accordion skirt at tea, as Lord Wemyss liked me to dance to him.
Some one was playing the piano and I was improvising in and out of
the chairs, when, in the act of making a final curtsey, I caught
my foot in my skirt and fell at the feet of an old clergyman
seated in the window. As I got up, a loud "Damn!" resounded
through the room. Recovering my presence of mind, I said, looking

"You are a clergyman and I am afraid I have shocked you!"

"Not at all," he replied. "I hope you will go on; I like your
dancing extremely."

I provoked much amusement by asking the family afterwards if the
parson whose presence I had failed to notice was their minister at
Aberlady. I then learnt that he was the famous Dr. Benjamin
Jowett, Master of Balliol.

Before telling how my friendship with the Master developed, I
shall go back to the events in Oxford which gave him his insight
into human beings and caused him much quiet suffering.

In 1852 the death of Dr. Jenkyns caused the Mastership at Balliol
to become vacant. Jowett's fame as a tutor was great, but with it
there had spread a suspicion of "rationalism." Persons whispered
that the great tutor was tainted with German views. This reacted
unduly upon his colleagues; and, when the election came, he was
rejected by a single vote. His disappointment was deep, but he
threw himself more than ever into his work. He told me that a
favourite passage of his in Marcus Aurelius--"Be always doing
something serviceable to mankind and let this constant generosity
be your only pleasure, not forgetting a due regard to God"--had
been of great help to him at that time.

The lectures which his pupils cared most about were those on Plato
and St. Paul; both as tutor and examiner he may be said to have
stimulated the study of Plato in Oxford: he made it a rival to
that of Aristotle.

"Aristotle is dead," he would say, "but Plato is alive."

Hitherto he had published little--an anonymous essay on Pascal and
a few literary articles--but under the stimulus of disappointment
he finished his share of the edition of St. Paul's Epistles, which
had been undertaken in conjunction with Arthur Stanley. Both
produced their books in 1855; but while Stanley's Corinthians
evoked languid interest, Jowett's Galatians, Thessalonians and
Romans provoked a clamour among his friends and enemies. About
that time he was appointed to the Oxford Greek Chair, which
pleased him much; but his delight was rather dashed by a hostile
article in the Quarterly Review, abusing him and his religious
writings. The Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Cotton, required from him a
fresh signature of the Articles of the Church of England. At the
interview, when addressed by two men--one pompously explaining
that it was a necessary act if he was to retain his cloth and the
other apologising for inflicting a humiliation upon him--he merely

"Give me the pen."

His essay on The Interpretation of Scripture, which came out in
1860 in the famous volume, Essays and Reviews, increased the cry
of heterodoxy against him; and the Canons of Christ Church,
including Dr. Pusey, persisted in withholding from him an extra
salary, without which the endowment of the Greek Chair was worth
L40. This scandal was not removed till 1864, after he had been
excluded from the university pulpit. He continued working hard at
his translation of the whole of Plato; he had already published
notes on the Republic and analyses of the dialogue. This took up
all his time till 1878, when he became Master of Balliol.

The worst of the Essays and Reviews controversy was that it did an
injustice to Jowett's reputation. For years people thought that he
was a great heresiarch presiding over a college of infidels and
heretics. His impeached article on The Interpretation of Scripture
might to-day be published by any clergyman. His crime lay in
saying that the Bible should be criticised like other books.

In his introduction to the Republic of Plato he expresses the same

A Greek in the age of Plato attached no importance to the question
whether his religion was an historical fact. ...Men only began to
suspect that the narratives of Homer and Hesiod were fictions when
they recognised them to be immoral. And so in all religions: the
consideration of their morality comes first, afterwards the truth
of the documents in which they are recorded, or of the events,
natural or supernatural, which are told of them. But in modern
times, and in Protestant countries perhaps more than Catholic, we
have been too much inclined to identify the historical with the
moral; and some have refused to believe in religion at all, unless
a superhuman accuracy was discerned in every part of the record.
The facts of an ancient or religious history are amongst the most
important of all facts, but they are frequently uncertain, and we
only learn the true lesson which is to be gathered from them when
we place ourselves above them.

Some one writes in the Literary Supplement of the Times to-day,
11th December, 1919:

"An almost animal indifference to mental refinement characterises
our great public."

This is quite true, and presumably was true in Jowett's day, not
only of the great public but of the Established Church.

Catherine Marsh, the author of The Life of Hedley Vicars, wrote to
Jowett assuring him of her complete belief in the sincerity of his
religious views and expressing indignation that he should have had
to sign the thirty-nine Articles again. I give his reply. The
postscript is characteristic of his kindliness, gentle temper and
practical wisdom.


Accept my best thanks for your kind letter, and for the books you
have been so good as to send me.

I certainly hope (though conscious of how little I am able to do)
that I shall devote my life to the service of God, and of the
youths of Oxford, whom I desire to regard as a trust which He has
given me. But I am afraid, if I may judge from the tenour of your
letter, that I should not express myself altogether as you do on
religious subjects. Perhaps the difference may be more than one of
words. I will not, therefore, enter further into the grave
question suggested by you, except to say that I am sure I shall be
the better for your kind wishes and reading your books.

The recent matter of Oxford is of no real consequence, and is not
worth speaking about, though I am very grately to you and others
for feeling "indignant" at the refusal.

With sincere respect for your labours, Believe me, dear Madam,

Most truly yours,


P.S.--I have read your letter again! I think that I ought to tell
you that, unless you had been a complete stranger, you would not
have had so good an opinion of me. I feel the kindness of your
letter, but at the same time, if I believed what you say of me, I
should soon become a "very complete rascal." Any letter like
yours, which is written with such earnestness, and in a time of
illness, is a serious call to think about religion. I do not
intend to neglect this because I am not inclined to use the same

When Jowett became Master, his pupils and friends gathered round
him and overcame the Church chatter. He was the hardest-working
tutor, Vice-Chancellor and Master that Oxford ever had. Balliol,
under his regime, grew in numbers and produced more scholars, more
thinkers and more political men of note than any other college in
the university. He had authority and a unique prestige. It was
said of Dr. Whewell of Trinity that "knowledge was his forte and
omniscience his foible"; the same might have been said of the
Master and was expressed in a college epigram, written by an
undergraduate. After Jowett's death I cut the following from an
Oxford magazine:

The author of a famous and often misquoted verse upon Professor
Jowett has written me a note upon his lines which may be
appropriately inserted here. "Several versions," he writes, "have
appeared lately, and my vanity does not consider them
improvements. The lines were written:

    'First come I, my name is Jowett,
    There's no knowledge but I know it.
    I am Master of this College,
    What I don't know--is not knowledge.'

"The 'First come I' referred to its being a masque of the College
in which fellows, scholars, etc., appeared in order. The short,
disconnected sentences were intentional, as being characteristic.
Such a line as 'All that can be known I know it' (which some
newspapers substituted for line 2) would express a rather vulgar,
Whewellian foible of omniscience, which was quite foreign to the
Master's nature; the line as originally written was intended to
express the rather sad, brooding manner the Master had of giving
his oracles, as though he were a spectator of all time and
existence, and had penetrated into the mystery of things. Of
course, the last line expressed, with necessary exaggeration,
what, as a fact, was his attitude to certain subjects in which he
refused to be interested, such as modern German metaphysics,
philology, and Greek inscriptions."

When I met the Master in 1887, I was young and he was old; but,
whether from insolence or insight, I never felt this difference. I
do not think I was a good judge of age, as I have always liked
older people than myself; and I imagine it was because of this
unconsciousness that we became such wonderful friends. Jowett was
younger than half the young people I know now and we understood
each other perfectly. If I am hasty in making friends and skip the
preface, I always read it afterwards.

A good deal of controversy has arisen over the Master's claim to
greatness by some of the younger generation. It is not denied that
Jowett was a man of influence. Men as different as Huxley,
Symonds, Lord Lansdowne, Lord Bowen, Lord Milner, Sir Robert
Morier and others have told me in reverent and affectionate terms
how much they owed to him and to his influence. It is not denied
that he was a kind man; infinitely generous, considerate and good
about money. It may be denied that he was a fine scholar of the
first rank, such as Munro or Jebb, although no one denies his
contributions to scholarship; but the real question remains: was
he a great man? There are big men, men of intellect, intellectual
men, men of talent and men of action; but the great man is
difficult to find, and it needs--apart from discernment--a
certain greatness to find him. The Almighty is a wonderful
handicapper: He will not give us everything. I have never met a
woman of supreme beauty with more than a mediocre intellect, by
which I do not mean intelligence. There may be some, but I am only
writing my own life, and I have not met them. A person of
magnetism, temperament and quick intelligence may have neither
intellect nor character. I have known one man whose genius lay in
his rapid and sensitive understanding, real wit, amazing charm and
apparent candour, But whose meanness, ingratitude and instability
injured everything he touched. You can only discover ingratitude
or instability after years of experience, and few of us, I am glad
to think, ever suspect meanness in our fellow-creatures; the
discovery is as painful when you find it as the discovery of a
worm in the heart of a rose. A man may have a fine character and
be taciturn, stubborn and stupid. Another may be brilliant, sunny
and generous, but self-indulgent, heartless and a liar. There is
no contradiction I have not met with in men and women: the rarest
combination is to find fundamental humbleness, freedom from self,
intrepid courage and the power to love; when you come upon these,
you may be quite sure that you are in the presence of greatness.
Human beings are made up of a good many pieces. Nature, character,
intellect and temperament: roughly speaking, these headings cover
every one. The men and women whom I have loved best have been
those whose natures were rich and sweet; but, alas, with a few
exceptions, all of them have had gimcrack characters; and the
qualities which I have loved in them have been ultimately
submerged by self-indulgence.

The present Archbishop of Canterbury is one of these exceptions:
he has a sweet and rich nature, a fine temper and is quite
unspoilable. I have only one criticism to make of Randall
Davidson: he has too much moderation for his intellect; but I
daresay he would not have steered the Church through so many
shallows if he had not had this attribute. I have known him since
I was ten (he christened, confirmed, married and buried us all);
and his faith in such qualities of head and heart as I possess has
never wavered. He reminds me of Jowett in the soundness of his
nature and his complete absence of vanity, although no two men
were ever less alike. The first element of greatness is
fundamental humbleness (this should not be confused with
servility); the second is freedom from self; the third is intrepid
courage, which, taken in its widest interpretation, generally goes
with truth; and the fourth, the power to love, although I have put
it last, is the rarest. If these go to the makings of a great man,
Jowett possessed them all. He might have mocked at the confined
comprehension of Oxford and exposed the arrogance, vanity and
conventionality of the Church; intellectual scorn and even
bitterness might have come to him; but, with infinite patience and
imperturbable serenity, he preserved his faith in his fellow-

"There was in him a simple trust in the word of other men that won
for him a devotion and service which discipline could never have
evoked." [Footnote:] I read these words in an obituary notice the
other day and thought how much I should like to have had them
written of me. Whether his criticisms of the Bible fluttered the
faith of the flappers in Oxford, or whether his long silences made
the undergraduates more stupid than they would otherwise have
been, I care little: I only know that he was what I call great and
that he had an ennobling influence over my life. He was
apprehensive of my social reputation; and in our correspondence,
which started directly we parted at Gosford, he constantly gave me
wise advice. He was extremely simple-minded and had a pathetic
belief in the fine manners, high tone, wide education and lofty
example of the British aristocracy. It shocked him that I did not
share it; I felt his warnings much as a duck swimming might feel
the cluckings of a hen on the bank; nevertheless, I loved his
exhortations. In one of his letters he begs me to give up the idea
of shooting bears with the Prince of Wales in Russia. It was the
first I had heard of it! In another of his letters to me he ended

But I must not bore you with good advice. Child, why don't you
make a better use of your noble gifts? And yet you do not do
anything wrong--only what other people do, but with more success.
And you are very faithful to your friends. And so, God bless you.

He was much shocked by hearing that I smoked. This is what he

What are you doing--breaking a young man's heart; not the first
time nor the second, nor the third--I believe? Poor fellows! they
have paid you the highest compliment that a gentleman can pay a
lady, and are deserving of all love. Shall I give you a small
piece of counsel? It is better for you and a duty to them that
their disappointed passions should never be known to a single
person, for as you are well aware, one confidante means every
body, and the good-natured world, who are of course very jealous
of you, will call you cruel and a breaker of hearts, etc. I do not
consider this advice, but merely a desire to make you see things
as others see them or nearly. The Symonds girls at Davos told me
that you smoked!!! at which I am shocked, because it is not the
manner of ladies in England. I always imagine you with a long
hookah puffing, puffing, since I heard this; give it up, my dear
Margaret--it will get you a bad name. Please do observe that I am
always serious when I try to make fun. I hope you are enjoying
life and friends and the weather: and believe me

Ever yours truly,

He asked me once if I ever told any one that he wrote to me, to
which I answered:

"I should rather think so! I tell every railway porter!"

This distressed him. I told him that he was evidently ashamed of
my love for him, but that I was proud of it.

JOWETT (after a long silence): "Would you like to have your life
written, Margaret?"

MARGOT: "Not much, unless it told the whole truth about me and
every one and was indiscreet. If I could have a biographer like
Froude or Lord Hervey, it would be divine, as no one would be
bored by reading it. Who will you choose to write your life,

JOWETT: "No one will be in a position to write my life, Margaret."
(For some time he called me Margaret; he thought it sounded less
familiar than Margot.)

MARGOT: "What nonsense! How can you possibly prevent it? If you
are not very good to me, I may even write it myself!"

JOWETT (smiling): "If I could have been sure of that, I need not
have burnt all my correspondence! But you are an idle young lady
and would certainly never have concentrated on so dull a subject."

MARGOT (indignantly): "Do you mean to say you have burnt all
George Eliot's letters, Matthew Arnold's, Swinburne's, Temple's
and Tennyson's?"

JOWETT: "I have kept one or two of George Eliot's and Florence
Nightingale's; but great men do not write good letters."

MARGOT: "Do you know Florence Nightingale? I wish I did."

JOWETT (evidently surprised that I had never heard the gossip
connecting his name with Florence Nightingale): "Why do you want
to know her?"

MARGOT: "Because she was in love with my friend George Pembroke's
[Footnote: George, Earl of Pembroke, uncle of the present Earl.]

JOWETT (guardedly): "Oh, indeed! I will take you to see her and
then you can ask her about all this."

MARGOT: "I should love that! But perhaps she would not care for

JOWETT: "I do not think she will care for you, but would you mind

MARGOT: "Oh, not at all! I am quite unfemnine in those ways. When
people leave the room, I don't say to myself, "I wonder if they
like me," but, "I wonder if I like them."

This made an impression on the Master, or I should not have
remembered it. Some weeks after this he took me to see Florence
Nightingale in her house in South Street. Groups of hospital
nurses were waiting outside in the hall to see her. When we went
in I noted her fine, handsome, well-bred face. She was lying on a
sofa, with a white shawl round her shoulders and, after shaking
hands with her, the Master and I sat down. She pointed to the
beautiful Richmond print of Sidney Herbert, hanging above her
mantelpiece, and said to me:

"I am interested to meet you, as I hear George Pembroke, the son
of my old and dear friend, is devoted to you. Will you tell me
what he is like?"

I described Lord Pembroke, while Jowett sat in stony silence till
we left the house.

One day, a few months after this visit, I was driving in the
vicinity of Oxford with the Master and I said to him:

"You never speak of your relations to me and you never tell me
whether you were in love when you were young; I have told you so
much about myself!"

JOWETT: "Have you ever heard that I was in love with any one?"

I did not like to tell him that, since our visit to Florence
Nightingale, I had heard that he had wanted to marry her, so I

"Yes, I have been told you were in love once."

JOWETT: "Only once?"

MARGOT: "Yes."

Complete silence fell upon us after this: I broke it at last by

"What was your lady-love like, dear Master?"

JOWETT: "Violent . . . very violent."

After this disconcerting description, we drove back to Balliol.

Mrs. Humphry Ward's novel "Robert Elsmere" had just been published
and was dedicated to my sister Laura and Thomas Hill Green,
Jowett's rival in Oxford. This is what the Master wrote to me
about it:

Nov. 28, 1888.


I have just finished examining for the Balliol Scholarships: a
great institution of which you may possibly have heard. To what
shall I liken it? It is not unlike a man casting into the sea a
great dragnet, and when it is full of fish, pulling it up again
and taking out fishes, good, bad and indifferent, and throwing the
bad and indifferent back again into the sea. Among the good fish
there have been Archbishop Tait, Dean Stanley, A. H. Clough, Mr.
Arnold, Lord Coleridge, Lord Justice Bowen, Mr. Ilbert, &c., &c.,
&c. The institution was founded about sixty years ago.

I have been dining alone rather dismally, and now I shall imagine
that I receive a visit from a young lady about twenty-three years
of age, who enlivens me by her prattle. Is it her or her angel?
But I believe that she is an angel, pale, volatile and like
Laodamia in Wordsworth, ready to disappear at a moment's notice. I
could write a description of her, but am not sure that I could do
her justice.

I wish that I could say anything to comfort you, my dear Margot,
or even to make you laugh. But no one can comfort another. The
memory of a beautiful character is "a joy for ever," especially of
one who was bound to you in ties of perfect amity. I saw what your
sister [Footnote: Mrs. Gordon Duff.] was from two short
conversations which I had with her, and from the manner in which
she was spoken of at Davos.

I send you the book [Footnote: Plato's Republic] which I spoke of,
though I hardly know whether it is an appropriate present; at any
rate I do not expect you to read it. It has taken me the last year
to revise and, in parts, rewrite it. The great interest of it is
that it belongs to a different age of the human mind, in which
there is so much like and also unlike ourselves. Many of our
commonplaces and common words are being thought out for the first
time by Plato. Add to this that in the original this book is the
most perfect work of art in the world. I wonder whether it will
have any meaning or interest for you.

You asked me once whether I desired to make a Sister of Charity of
you. Certainly not (although there are worse occupations); nor do
I desire to make anything. But your talking about plans of life
does lead me to think of what would be best and happiest for you.
I do not object to the hunting and going to Florence and Rome, but
should there not be some higher end to which these are the steps?
I think that you might happily fill up a great portion of your
life with literature (I am convinced that you have considerable
talent and might become eminent) and a small portion with works of
benevolence, just to keep us in love and charity with our poor
neighbours; and the rest I do not grudge to society and hunting.
Do you think that I am a hard taskmaster? Not very, I think. More
especially as you will not be led away by my good advice. You see
that I cannot bear to think of you hunting and ballet-dancing when
you are "fair, fat and forty-five." Do prepare yourself for that
awful age.

I went to see Mrs. H. Ward the other day: she insists on doing
battle with the reviewer in the Quarterly, and is thinking of
another novel, of which the subject will be the free-thinking of
honest working-men in Paris and elsewhere. People say that in
"Robert Elsmere" Rose is intended for you, Catherine for your
sister Laura, the Squire for Mark Pattison, the Provost for me,
etc., and Mr. Grey for Professor Green. All the portraits are
about equally unlike the originals.

Good-bye, you have been sitting with me for nearly an hour, and
now, like Laodamia or Protesilaus, you disappear. I have been the
better for your company. One serious word: May God bless you and
help you in this and every other great hurt of life.

Ever yours,


I will publish all his letters to me together, as, however
delightful letters may be, I find they bore me when they are
scattered all through an autobiography.

March 11th, 1889.


As you say, friendships grow dull if two persons do not care to
write to one another. I was beginning to think that you resented
my censorious criticisms on your youthful life and happiness.

Can youth be serious without ceasing to be youth? I think it may.
The desire to promote the happiness of others rather than your own
may be always "breaking in." As my poor sister (of whom I will
talk to you some day) would say: "When others are happy, then I am
happy." She used to commend the religion of Sydney Smith--"Never
to let a day pass without doing a kindness to some body"--and I
think that you understand something about this; or you would not
be so popular and beloved.

You ask me what persons I have seen lately: I doubt whether they
would interest you. Mr. Welldon, the Headmaster of Harrow, a very
honest and able man with a long life before him, and if he is not
too honest and open, not unlikely to be an Archbishop of
Canterbury. Mr. J. M. Wilson, Headmaster of Clifton College--a
very kind, genial and able man--there is a great deal of him and
in him--not a man of good judgment, but very devoted--a first-rate
man in his way. Then I have seen a good deal of Lord Rosebery--
very able, shy, sensitive, ambitious, the last two qualities
rather at war with each other--very likely a future Prime
Minister. I like Lady Rosebery too--very sensible and high-
principled, not at all inclined to give up her Judaism to please
the rest of the world. They are rather overloaded with wealth and
fine houses: they are both very kind. I also like Lady Leconfield
[Footnote: Lady Leconfield was a sister of Lord Rosebery's and one
of my dearest friends.], whom I saw at Mentone. Then I paid a
visit to Tennyson, who has had a lingering illness of six months,
perhaps fatal, as he is eighty years of age. It was pleasing to
see how he takes it, very patient and without fear of death,
unlike his former state of mind. Though he is so sensitive, he
seemed to me to bear his illness like a great man. He has a volume
of poems waiting to come out--some of them as good as he ever
wrote. Was there ever an octogenarian poet before?

Doctor Johnson used to say that he never in his life had eaten as
much fruit as he desired. I think I never talked to you as much as
I desired. You once told me that you would show me your novel.
[Footnote: I began two, but they were not at all clever and have
long since disappeared.] Is it a reality or a myth? I should be
interested to see it if you like to send me that or any other
writing of yours.

"Robert Elsmere," as the authoress tells me, has sold 60,000 in
England and 400,000 in America! It has considerable merit, but its
success is really due to its saying what everybody is thinking. I
am astonished at her knowing so much about German theology--she is
a real scholar and takes up things of the right sort. I do not
believe that Mrs. Ward ever said "she had pulverised
Christianity." These things are invented about people by the
orthodox, i. e., the infidel world, in the hope that they will do
them harm. What do you think of being "laughed to death"? It would
be like being tickled to death.


Ever yours truly,


BALLIOL COLLEGE, May 22nd, 1891.


It was very good of you to write me such a nice note. I hope you
are better. I rather believe in people being able to cure
themselves of many illnesses if they are tolerably prudent and
have a great spirit.

I liked your two friends who visited me last Sunday, and shall
hope to make them friends of mine. Asquith is a capital fellow,
and has abilities which may rise to the highest things in the law
and politics. He is also very pleasant socially. I like your lady
friend. She has both "Sense and Sensibility," and is free from
"Pride and Prejudice." She told me that she had been brought up by
an Evangelical grandmother, and is none the worse for it.

I begin to think bed is a very nice place, and I see a great deal
of it, not altogether from laziness, but because it is the only
way in which I am able to work.

I have just read the life of Newman, who was a strange character.
To me he seems to have been the most artificial man of our
generation, full of ecclesiastical loves and hatred. Considering
what he really was, it is wonderful what a space he has filled in
the eyes of mankind. In speculation he was habitually untruthful
and not much better in practice. His conscience had been taken
out, and the Church put in its place. Yet he was a man of genius,
and a good man in the sense of being disinterested. Truth is very
often troublesome, but neither the world nor the individual can
get on without it.

Here is the postman appearing at 12 o'clock, as disagreeable a
figure as the tax-gatherer.

May you have good sleep and pleasant dreams. I shall still look
forward to seeing you with Lady Wemyss.

Believe me always,

Yours affectionately,


 BALLIOL COLLEGE, Sep. 8,1892.


Your kind letter was a very sweet consolation to me. It was like
you to think of a friend in trouble.

Poor Nettleship, whom we have lost, was a man who cannot be
replaced--certainly not in Oxford. He was a very good man, and had
a considerable touch of genius in him. He seems to have died
bravely, telling the guides not to be cowards, but to save their
lives. He also sang to them to keep them awake, saying (this was
so like him) that he had no voice, but that he would do his best.
He probably sang that song of Salvator Rosa's which we have so
often heard from him. He was wonderfully beloved by the
undergraduates, because they knew that he cared for them more than
for anything else in the world.

Of his writings there is not much, except what you have read, and
a long essay on Plato in a book called "Hellenism"--very good. He
was beginning to write, and I think would have written well. He
was also an excellent speaker and lecturer--Mr. Asquith would tell
you about him.

I have received many letters about him--but none of them has
touched me as much as yours. Thank you, dear.

I see that you are in earnest about writing--no slipshod or want
of connection. Writing requires boundless leisure, and is an
infinite labour, yet there is also a very great pleasure in it. I
shall be delighted to read your sketches.

 BALLIOL COLLEGE, Dec. 27th, 1892.


I have been reading Lady Jeune's two articles. I am glad that you
did not write them and have never written anything of that sort.
These criticisms on Society in which some of us "live and move and
have our being" are mistaken. In the first place, the whole fabric
of society is a great mystery, with which we ought not to take
liberties, and which should be spoken of only in a whisper when we
compare our experiences, whether in a walk or tete-a-tete, or
"over the back hair" with a faithful, reserved confidante. And
there is also a great deal that is painful in the absence of
freedom in the division of ranks, and the rising or falling from
one place in it to another. I am convinced that it is a thing not
to be spoken of; what we can do to improve it or do it good--
whether I, the head of a college at Oxford, or a young lady of
fashion (I know that you don't like to be called that)--must be
done quite silently.

Lady Jeune believes that all the world would go right, or at least
be a great deal better, if it were not for the Nouveaux Riches.
Some of the Eton masters talk to me in the same way. I agree with
our dear friend, Lady Wemyss, that the truth is "the old poor are
so jealous of them." We must study the arts of uniting Society as
a whole, not clinging to any one class of it--what is possible and
desirable to what is impossible and undesirable.

I hope you are none the worse for your great effort. You know it
interests me to hear what you are about if you have time and
inclination to write. I saw your friend, Mr. Asquith, last night:
very nice and not at all puffed up with his great office
[Footnote: The Home Office.]. The fortunes of the Ministry seem
very doubtful. There is a tendency to follow Lord Rosebery in the
Cabinet. Some think that the Home Rule Bill will be pushed to the
second reading, then dropped, and a new shuffle of the cards will
take place under Lord Rosebery: this seems to me very likely. The
Ministry has very little to spare and they are not gaining ground,
and the English are beginning to hate the Irish and the Priests.

I hope that all things go happily with you. Tell me some of your
thoughts. I have been reading Mr. Milner's book with great
satisfaction--most interesting and very important. I fear that I
have written you a dull and meandering epistle.

Ever yours,



I began at ten minutes to twelve last night to write to you, but
as the postman appeared at five minutes to twelve, it was
naturally cut short. May I begin where I left off? I should like
to talk to you about many things. I hope you will not say, as
Johnson says to Boswell, "Sir, you have only two subjects,
yourself and me, and I am heartily sick of both."

I have been delighted with Mr. Asquith's success. He has the
certainty of a great man in him--such strength and simplicity and
independence and superiority to the world and the clubs. You seem
to me very fortunate in having three such friends as Mr. Asquith,
Mr. Milner and Mr. Balfour. I believe that you may do a great deal
for them, and they are probably the first men of their time, or
not very far short of it.

Mr. Balfour is not so good a leader of the House of Commons in
opposition as he was when he was in office. He is too aggressive
and not dignified enough. I fear that he will lose weight. He had
better not coquette with the foolish and unpractical thing
"Bimetallism," or write books on "Philosophic Doubt"; for there
are many things which we must certainly believe, are there not?
Quite enough either for the highest idealism or for ordinary life.
He will probably, like Sir R. Peel, have to change many of his
opinions in the course of the next thirty years and he should be
on his guard about this, or he will commit himself in such a
manner that he may have to withdraw from politics (about the
currency, about the Church, about Socialism).

Is this to be the last day of Gladstone's life in the House of
Commons? It is very pathetic to think of the aged man making his
last great display almost in opposition to the convictions of his
whole life. I hope that he will acquit himself well and nobly, and
then it does not much matter whether or no he dies like Lord
Chatham a few days afterwards. It seems to me that his Ministry
have not done badly during the last fortnight. They have, to a
great extent, removed the impression they had created in England
that they were the friends of disorder. Do you know, I cannot help
feeling I have more of the Liberal element in me than of the
Conservative? This rivalry between the parties, each surprising
the other by their liberality, has done a great deal of good to
the people of England.

HEADINGTON HILL, near OXFORD, July 30th, 1893.

MY DEAR MARGARET, Did you ever read these lines?--

    'Tis said that marriages are made above--
    It may be so, some few, perhaps, for love.
    But from the smell of sulphur I should say
    They must be making MATCHES here all day.

(Orpheus returning from the lower world in a farce called "The
Olympic Devils," which used to be played when I was young.)

Miss Nightingale talks to me of "the feelings usually called
love," but then she is a heroine, perhaps a goddess.

This love-making is a very serious business, though society makes
fun of it, perhaps to test the truth and earnestness of the

Dear, I am an old man, what the poet calls "on the threshold of
old age" (Homer), and I am not very romantic or sentimental about
such things, but I would do anything I could to save any one who
cares for me from making a mistake.

I think that you are quite right in not running the risk without a
modest abode in the country.

The real doubt about the affair is the family; will you consider
this and talk it over with your mother? The other day you were at
a masqued ball, as you told me--a few months hence you will have,
or rather may be having, the care of five children, with all the
ailments and miseries and disagreeables of children (unlike the
children of some of your friends) and not your own, although you
will have to be a mother to them, and this state of things will
last during the greatest part of your life. Is not the contrast
more than human nature can endure? I know that it is, as you said,
a nobler manner of living, but are you equal to such a struggle.
If you are, I can only say, "God bless you, you are a brave girl."
But I would not have you disguise from yourself the nature of the
trial. It is not possible to be a leader of fashion and to do your
duty to the five children.

On the other hand, you have at your feet a man of outstanding
ability and high character, and who has attained an extraordinary
position--far better than any aristocratic lath or hop-pole; and
you can render him the most material help by your abilities and
knowledge of the world. Society will be gracious to you because
you are a grata persona, and everybody will wish you well because
you have made the sacrifice. You may lead a much higher life if
you are yourself equal to it.

To-day I read Hume's life--by himself--very striking. You will
find it generally at the beginning of his History of England.
There have been saints among infidels too, e.g., Hume and Spinoza,
on behalf of whom I think it a duty to say something as the Church
has devoted them to eternal flames. To use a German phrase, "They
were 'Christians in unconsciousness.'" That describes a good many
people. I believe that as Christians we should get rid of a good
many doubtful phrases and speak only through our lives.

Believe me, my dear Margaret,

Yours truly and affectionately,


BALLIOL, Sunday. 1893.


I quite agree with you that what we want most in life is rest and
peace. To act up to our best lights, that is quite enough; there
need be no trouble about dogmas, which are hardly intelligible to
us, nor ought there to be any trouble about historical facts,
including miracles, of which the view of the world has naturally
altered in the course of ages. I include in this such questions as
whether Our Lord rose from the dead in any natural sense of the
words. It is quite a different question, whether we shall imitate
Him in His life.

I am glad you think about these questions, and shall be pleased to
talk to you about them. What I have to say about religion is
contained in two words: Truth and Goodness, but I would not have
one without the other, and if I had to choose between them, might
be disposed to give Truth the first place. I think, also, that you
might put religion in another way, as absolute resignation to the
Will of God and the order of nature. There might be other
definitions, equally true, but none suited better than another to
the characters of men, such as the imitation of Christ, or the
truth in all religions, which would be an adequate description of
it. The Christian religion seems to me to extend to all the parts
and modes of life, and then to come back to our hearts and
conscience. I think that the best way of considering it, and the
most interesting, is to view it as it may be seen in the lives of
good men everywhere, whether Christians or so-called heathens--
Socrates, Plato, Marcus Aurelius, St. Augustine, as well as in the
lives of Christ, or Bunyan, or Spinoza. The study of religious
biography seems to me one of the best modes of keeping up
Christian feeling.

As to the question of Disestablishment, I am not like Mr. Balfour,
I wobble rather, yet, on the whole, I agree with Mr. Gladstone,
certainly about the Welsh Church. Churches are so worldly and so
much allied to the interests of the higher classes. I think that a
person who belongs to a Church should always endeavour to live
above his Church, above the sermon and a good part of the prayer,
above the Athanasian Creed, and the form of Ordination, above the
passions of party feelings and public meetings. The best
individuals have always been better than Churches, though I do not
go so far as a German professor, who thinks that people will never
be religious until they leave off going to church, yet I am of
opinion that in every congregation the hearers should attempt to
raise themselves above the tone of the preacher and of the

I am sorry to hear that Mr. Balfour, who has so much that is
liberal in him, is of an extreme opposite opinion. But I feel that
I have talked long enough on a subject which may not interest you,
but of which I should like to talk to you again when we meet. It
seems to me probable that the Church WILL be disestablished,
because it has been so already in most countries of Europe, and
because the school is everywhere taking its place.

I shall look forward to your coming to see me, if I am seriously
ill--"Be with me when my light is low." But I don't think that
this illness which I at present have is serious enough to make any
of my friends anxious, and it would be rather awkward for my
friends to come and take leave of me if I recovered, which I mean
to do, for what I think a good reason--because I STILL have a good
deal to do.


My beloved friend died in 1893.

The year before his death he had the dangerous illness to which he
alludes in the above letter. Every one thought he would die. He
dictated farewell letters to all his friends by his secretary and
housekeeper, Miss Knight. On receiveing mine from him at Glen, I
was so much annoyed at its tone that I wired:

Jowett Balliol College Oxford.

I refuse to accept this as your farewell letter to me you have
been listening to some silly woman and believing what she says.

This telegram had a magical effect: he got steadily better and
wrote me a wonderful letter. I remember the reason that I was
vexed was because he believed a report that I had knocked up
against a foreign potentate in Rotten Row for a bet, which was not
only untrue but ridiculous, and I was getting a little impatient
of the cattishness and credulity of the West-end of London.

My week-ends at Balliol were different to my other visits. The
Master took infinite trouble over them. Once on my arrival he
asked me which of one or two men I would like to sit next to at
dinner. I said I should prefer Mr. Huxley or Lord Bowen, to which
he replied:

"I would like you to have on your other side, either to-night or
to-morrow, my friend Lord Selborne:" [Footnote: The late Earl of

MARGOT (with surprise): "Since when is he your friend? I was under
the impression you disliked him."

JOWETT: "Your impression was right, but even the youngest of us
are sometimes wrong, as Dr. Thompson said, and I look upon Lord
Selborne now as a friend. I hope I said nothing against him."

MARGOT: "Oh dear no! You only said he was fond of hymns and had no
sense of humour."

JOWETT (snappishly): "If that is so, Margaret, I made an extremely
foolish remark. I will put you between Lord Bowen and Sir Alfred
Lyall. Was it not strange that you should have said of Lyall to
Huxley that he reminded you of a faded Crusader and that you
suspected him of wearing a coat of mail under his broadcloth, to
which you will remember Huxley remarked, 'You mean a coating of
female, without which no man is saved!' Your sister, Lady
Ribblesdale, said the very same thing to me about him."

This interested me, as Charty and I had not spoken to each other
of Sir Alfred Lyall, who was a new acquaintance of ours.

MARGOT: "I am sure, Master, you did not give her the same answer
as Mr. Huxley gave me; you don't think well of my sex, do you?"

JOWETT: "You are not the person to reproach me, Margaret: only the
other week I reproved you for saying women were often dull,
sometimes dangerous and always dishonourable. I might have added
they were rarely reasonable and always courageous. Would you agree
to this?"

MARGOT: "Yes."

I sat between Sir Alfred Lyall and Lord Bowen that night at
dinner. There was more bouquet than body about Sir Alfred and, to
parody Gibbon, Lord Bowen's mind was not clouded by enthusiasm;
but two more delightful men never existed. After dinner, Huxley
came across the room to me and said that the Master had confessed
he had done him out of sitting next to me, so would I talk to him?
We sat down together and our conversation opened on religion.

There was not much juste milieu about Huxley. He began by saying
God was only there because people believed in Him, and that the
fastidious incognito, "I am that I am," was His idea of humour,
etc., etc. He ended by saying he did not believe any man of action
had ever been inspired by religion. I thought I would call in Lord
Bowen, who was standing aimlessly in the middle of the room, to my
assistance. He instantly responded and drew a chair up to us. I
said to him:

"Mr. Huxley challenges me to produce any man of action who has
been directly inspired by religion."

BOWEN (WITH A SLEEK SMILE): "Between us we should be able to
answer him, Miss Tennant, I think. Who is your man?"

Every idea seemed to scatter out of my brain. I suggested at


I might have been reading his thoughts, for it so happened that
Huxley adored General Gordon.

HUXLEY: "Ah! There you rather have me!"

He had obviously had enough of me, for, changing the position of
his chair, as if to engage Bowen in a tete-a-tete, he said:

"My dear Bowen, Gordon was the most remarkable man I ever met. I
know him well; he was sincere and disinterested, quite incapable
of saying anything he did not think. You will hardly believe me,
but one day he said in tones of passionate conviction that, if he
were to walk round the corner of the street and have his brains
shot out, he would only be transferred to a wider sphere of

BOWEN: "Would the absence of brains have been of any help to him?"

After this, our mutual good humour was restored and I only had
time for a word with Mrs. Green before the evening was ruined by
Jowett taking us across the quad to hear moderate music in the
hideous Balliol hall. Of all the Master's women friends, I
infinitely preferred Mrs. T. H. Green, John Addington Symonds'
sister. She is among the rare women who have all the qualities
which in moments of disillusion I deny to them.

I spent my last week-end at Balliol when Jowett's health appeared
to have completely recovered. On the Monday morning, after his
guests had gone, I went as usual into his study to talk to him. My
wire on receiving his death-bed letter had amused but distressed
him; and on my arrival he pressed me to tell him what it was he
had written that had offended me. I told him I was not offended,
only hurt. He asked me what the difference was. I wish I could
have given him the answer that my daughter Elizabeth gave Lord
Grey [Footnote: Viscount Grey of Fallodon.] when he asked her the
same question, walking in the garden at Fallodon on the occasion
of her first countryhouse visit:

"The one touches your vanity and the other your heart."

I do not know what I said, but I told him I was quite unoffended
and without touchiness, but that his letter had all the faults of
a schoolmaster and a cleric in it and not the love of a friend. He
listened to me with his usual patience and sweetness and expressed
his regret.

On the Monday morning of which I am writing, and on which we had
our last conversation, I had made up my mind that, as I had spoilt
many good conversations by talking too much myself, I would hold
my tongue and let the Master for once make the first move. I had
not had much experience of his classical and devastating silences
and had often defended him from the charge; but it was time to see
what happened if I talked less.

When we got into the room and he had shut the door, I absently
selected the only comfortable chair and we sat down next to each
other. A long and quelling silence followed the lighting of my
cigarette. Feeling rather at a loose end, I thought out a few
stage directions--"here business with handkerchief, etc."--and
adjusted the buckles on my shoes. I looked at some photographs and
fingered a paper-knife and odds and ends on the table near me. The
oppressive silence continued. I strolled to the book-shelves and,
under cover of a copy of "Country Conversations," peeped at the
Master. He appeared to be quite unaware of my existence.

"Nothing doing," said I to myself, putting back the book.

Something had switched him off as if he had been the electric

At last, breaking the silence with considerable impatience, I

"Really, Master, there is very little excuse for your silence!
Surely you have something to say to me, something to tell me; you
have had an experience since we talked to each other that I have
never had: you have been near Death."

JOWETT (not in any way put out): "I felt no rapture, no bliss."
(Suddenly looking at me and taking my hand.) "My dear child, you
must believe in God in spite of what the clergy say."



My friendship with Lord and Lady Manners, [Footnote: Avon Tyrrell,
Christchurch, Hants. Lady Manners was a Miss Fane.] of Avon
Tyrrell, probably made more difference to the course of my life
than anything that had happened in it.

Riding was what I knew and cared most about; and I dreamt of High
Leicestershire. I had hunted in Cheshire, where you killed three
foxes a day and found yourself either clattering among cottages
and clothes-lines, or blocked by carriages and crowds; I knew the
stiff plough and fine horses of Yorkshire and the rotten grass in
the Bicester; I had struggled over the large fences and small
enclosures of the Grafton and been a heroine in the select fields
and large becks with the Burton; and the Beaufort had seen the
dawn of my fox-hunting; but Melton was a name which brought the
Hon. Crasher before me and opened a vista on my future of all that
was fast, furious and fashionable.

When I was told that I was going to sit next to the Master of the
Quorn at dinner, my excitement knew no bounds.

Gordon Cunard--whose brother Bache owned the famous hounds in
Market Harborough--had insisted on my joining him at a country-
house party given for a ball. On getting the invitation I had
refused, as I hardly knew our hostess--the pretty Mrs. Farnham--
but after receiving a spirited telegram from my new admirer--one
of the best men to hounds in Leicestershire--I changed my mind. In
consequence of this decision a double event took place. I fell in
love with Peter Flower--a brother of the late Lord Battersea--and
formed an attachment with a couple whose devotion and goodness to
me for more than twenty years encouraged and embellished my
glorious youth.

Lord Manners, or "Hoppy," as we called him, was one of the few men
I ever met whom the word "single-minded" described. His sense of
honour was only equalled by his sense of humour; and a more
original, tender, truthful, uncynical, real being never existed.
He was a fine sportsman and had won the Grand Military when he was
in the Grenadiers, riding one of his own hunters; he was also the
second gentleman in England to win the Grand National in 1882, on
a thoroughbred called Seaman, who was by no means every one's
horse. For other people he cared nothing. "Decidement je n'aime
pas les autres," he would have said, to quote my son-in-law,
Antoine Bibesco.

His wife often said that, but for her, he would not have asked a
creature inside the house; be this as it may, no host and hostess
could have been more socially susceptible or given their guests a
warmer welcome than Con and Hoppy Manners.

What I loved and admired in him was his keenness and his
impeccable unworldliness. He was perfectly independent of public
opinion and as free from rancour as he was from fear, malice or
acerbity. He never said a stupid thing. Some people would say that
this is not a compliment, but the amount of silly things that I
have heard clever people say makes me often wonder what is left
for the stupid.

His wife was very different, though quite as free from rhetoric.

Under a becalmed exterior Con Manners was a little brittle and
found it difficult to say she was in the wrong; this impenitence
caused some of her lovers a suffering of which she was
unconscious; it is a minor failing which strikes a dumb note in
me, but which I have since discovered is not only common, but
almost universal. I often warned people of Con's dangerous smile
when I observed them blundering along; but though she was uneven
in her powers of forgiveness, the serious quarrel of her life was
made up ultimately without reserve. Lady Manners was clever,
gracious, and understanding; she was more worldly, more
adventurous and less deprecating than her husband; people meant a
great deal to her; and the whole of London was at her feet, except
those lonely men and women who specialise in collecting the famous
as men collect centipedes.

To digress here. I asked my friend Mr. Birrell once how the juste
milieu was to be found--for an enterprising person--between
running after the great men of the day and missing them; and he

"I would advise you to live among your superiors, Margot, but to
be of them."

Con was one of the few women of whom it could be said that she was
in an equal degree a wonderful wife, mother, sister and friend.
Her charm of manner and the tenderness of her regard gave her face
beauty that was independent--almost a rival of fine features--and
she was a saint of goodness.

Her love of flowers made every part of her home, inside and out,
radiant; and her sense of humour and love of being entertained
stimulated the witty and the lazy.

For nineteen years I watched her go about her daily duties with a
quiet grace and serenity infinitely restful to live with, and when
I was separated from her it nearly broke my heart. In connection
with the love Con and I had for each other I will only add an old
French quotation:

"Par grace infinie Dieu les mist au mande ensemble."

My dear friend, Mrs. Hamlyn, was the chatelaine of the famous
Clovelly, in Devonshire, and was Con's sister. She had the spirit
of eternal youth and was full of breathless admiration. I hardly
ever met any one who derived so much pleasure and surprise out of
ordinary life. She was as uncritical and tolerant of those she
loved as she was narrow and vehement over those who had
unaccountably offended her. She had an ebullient and voracious
sense of humour and was baffled and eblouie by titled people,
however vulgar and ridiculous they might be. By this I do not mean
she was a snob--on the contrary she made and kept friends among
the frumps and the obscure, to whom she showed faithful
hospitality; but she was old-fashioned and thought that all
duchesses were ladies.

Christine Hamlyn was a character-part: but, if the machinery was
not invented by which you could remove her prejudices, no tank
could turn her from her friends. It was through the Souls and
these friends whom I have endeavoured to describe that I entered
into a new phase of my life.



The first time I ever saw Peter Flower was at Ranelagh, where he
had taken my sister Charty Ribblesdale to watch a polo-match. They
were sitting together at an iron table, under a cedar tree, eating
ices. I was wearing a grey muslin dress with a black sash and a
black hat, with coral beads round my throat, and heard him say as
I came up to them:

"Nineteen? Not possible! I should have said fifteen! Is that the
one that rides so well?"

After shaking hands I sat down and looked about me.

I always notice what men wear; and Peter Flower was the best-
dressed man I had ever seen. I do not know who could have worn his
clothes when they were new; but certainly he never did. After his
clothes, what I was most struck by was his peculiar, almost animal
grace, powerful sloping shoulders, fascinating laugh and
infectious vitality.

Laurence Oliphant once said to me, "I divide the world into life-
givers and life-takers"; and I have often had reason to feel the
truth of this, being as I am acutely sensitive to high spirits. On
looking back along the gallery of my acquaintance, I can find not
more than three or four people as tenacious of life as Peter was:
Lady Desborough, Lady Cunard, my son Anthony and myself. There are
various kinds of high spirits: some so crude and rough-tongued
that they vitiate what they touch and estrange every one of
sensibility and some so insistent that they tire and suffocate
you; but Peter's vitality revived and restored every one he came
in contact with; and, when I said good-bye to him that day at
Ranelagh, although I cannot remember a single sentence of any
interest spoken by him or by me, my mind was absorbed in thinking
of when and how I could meet him again.

In the winter of that same year I went with the Ribblesdales to
stay with Peter's brother, Lord Battersea, to have a hunt. I took
with me the best of hats and habits and two leggy and faded
hirelings, hoping to pick up a mount. Charty having twisted her
knee the day after we arrived, this enabled me to ride the horse
on which Peter was to have mounted her; and full of spirits we all
went off to the meet of the Bicester hounds. I had hardly spoken
three words to my benefactor, but Ribblesdale had rather unwisely
told him that I was the best rider to hounds in England.

At the meet I examined my mount closely while the man was
lengthening my stirrup. Havoc, as he was called, was a dark
chestnut, 16.1, with a coat like the back of a violin and a
spiteful little head. He had an enormous bit on; and I was glad to
see a leather strap under the curb-chain.

When I was mounted, Peter kept close to my side and said:

"You're on a topper! Take him where you like, but ride your own

To which I replied:

"Why? Does he rush? I had thought of following you."

PETER: "Not at all, but he may pull you a bit, so keep away from
the field; the fence isn't made that he can't jump; and as for
water, he's a swallow! I wish I could say the same of mine! We've
got a brook round about here with rotten banks, it will catch the
best! But, if we are near each other, you must come alongside and
go first and mine will very likely follow you. I don't want to
spend the night in that beastly brook."

It was a good scenting day and we did not take long to find. I
stuck to Peter Flower while the Bicester hounds raced across the
heavy grass towards a hairy-looking ugly double. In spite of the
ironmonger's shop in Havoc's mouth, I had not the faintest control
over him, so I said to Peter:

"You know, Mr. Flower, I can't stop your horse!"

He looked at me with a charming smile and said:

"But why should you? Hounds are running!"

MARGOT: "But I can't turn him!"

PETER: "It doesn't matter! They are running straight. Hullo!
Lookout! Look out for Hydy!"

We were going great guns. I saw a man in front of me slowing up to
the double, so shouted at him:

"Get out of my way! Get out of my way!"

I was certain that at the pace he was going he would take a heavy
fall and I should be on the top of him. While in the act of
turning round to see who it was that was shouting, his willing
horse paused and I shot past him, taking away his spur in my habit
skirt. I heard a volley of oaths as I jumped into the jungle.
Havoc, however, did not like the brambles and, steadying himself
as he landed, arched with the activity of a cat over a high rail
on the other side of the double; I turned round and saw Peter's
horse close behind me hit the rail and peck heavily upon landing,
at which Peter gave him one down the shoulder and looked furious.

I had no illusions! I was on a horse that nothing could stop!
Seeing a line of willows in front of me, I shouted to Peter to
come along, as I thought if the brook was ahead of us I could not
possibly keep close to him, going at that pace. To my surprise and
delight, as we approached the willows Peter passed me and the
water widened out in front of us; I saw by his set face that it
was neck or nothing with him. Havoc was going well within himself,
but his stable-companion was precipitate and flurried; and before
I knew what had happened Peter was in the middle of the brook and
I was jumping over his head. On landing I made a large circle
round the field away from hounds, trying to pull up; and when I
could turn round I found myself facing the brook again, with Peter
dripping on the bank nearest to me. Havoc pricked his ears, passed
him like a flash and jumped the brook again; but the bank on
landing was boggy and while we were floundering I got a pull at
him by putting the curb-rein under my pommel and, exhausted and
distressed, I jumped off. Peter burst out laughing.

"We seem to be separated for life," he said. "Do look at my damned

I looked down the water and saw the animal standing knee-deep,
nibbling grass and mud off the bank with perfect composure.

MARGOT: "I really believe Havoc would jump this brook for a third
time and then I should be by your side. What luck that you aren't
soaked to the skin; hadn't I better look out for the second
horsemen? Hounds by now will be at the sea and I confess I can't
ride your horse: does he always pull like this?"

PETER: "Yes, he catches hold a bit, but what do you mean? You rode
him beautifully. Hullo! What is that spur doing in your skirt?"

MARGOT: "I took it off the man that you call 'Hydy,' who was going
so sticky at the double when we started."

PETER: "Poor old Clarendon! I advise you to keep his spur, he'll
never guess who took it; and, if I know anything about him, there
will be no love lost between you even if you do return it to him!"

I was longing for another horse, as I could not bear the idea of
going home. At that moment a single file of second horse-men came
in sight; and Peter's well-trained servant, on a thoroughbred
grey, rode up to us at the conventional trot. Peter lit a cigar
and, pointing to the brook, said to his man:

"Go off and get a rope and hang that brute! Or haul him out, will
you? And give me my lunch."

We were miles away from any human habitation and I felt depressed.

"Perhaps I had better ride home with your man," said I, looking
tentatively at Peter.

"Home! What for?" said he.

MARGOT: "Are you sure Havoc is not tired?"

PETER: "I wish to God he was! But I daresay this infernal Bicester
grass, which is heavier than anything I saw in Yorkshire, has
steadied him a bit; you'll see he'll go far better with you this
afternoon. I'm awfully sorry and would put you on my second
horse, but it isn't mine and I'm told it's got a bit of a temper;
if you go through that gate we'll have our lunch together. ...Have
a cigarette?"

I smiled and shook my head; my mouth was as dry as a Japanese toy
and I felt shattered with fatigue. The ground on which I was
standing was deep and I was afraid of walking in case I should
leave my boots in it, so I tapped the back of Havoc's fetlocks
till I got him stretched and with great skill mounted myself. This
filled Peter with admiration; and, lifting his hat, he said:

"Well! You are the very first woman I ever saw mount herself
without two men and a boy hanging on to the horse's head."

I rode towards the gate and Peter joined me a few minutes later on
his second horse. He praised my riding and promised he would mount
me any day in the week if I could only get some one to ask me down
to Brackley where he kept his horses; he said the Grafton was the
country to hunt in and that, though Tom Firr, the huntsman of the
Quorn, was the greatest man in England, Frank Beers was hard to
beat. I felt pleased at his admiration for my riding, but I knew
Havoc had not turned a hair and that, if I went on hunting, I
should kill either myself, Peter or some one else.

"Aren't you nervous when you see a helpless woman riding one of
your horses?" I said to him.

PETER: "No, I am only afraid she'll hurt my horse! I take her off
pretty quick, I can tell you, if I think she's going to spoil my
sale; but I never mount a woman. Your sister is a magnificent
rider, or I would never have put her on that horse. Now come along
and with any luck you will be alone with hounds this afternoon and
Havoc will be knocked down at Tattersalls for five hundred

MARGOT: "You are sure you want me to go on?"

PETER: "You think I want you to go home? Very well! If you
go..._I_ go!"

I longed to have the courage to say, "Let us both go home," but I
knew he would think that I was funking and it was still early in
the day. He looked at me steadily and said:

"I will do exactly what you like."

I looked at him, but at that moment the hounds came in sight and
my last chance was gone. We shogged along to the next cover, Havoc
as mild as milk. I was amazed at Peter's nerve: if any horse of
mine had taken such complete charge of its rider, I should have
been in a state of anguish till I had separated them; but he was
riding along talking and laughing in front of me in the highest of
spirits. This lack of sensitiveness irritated me and my heart
sank. Before reaching the cover, Peter came up to me and suggested
that we should change Havoc's bit. I then perceived he was not
quite so happy as I thought; and this determined me to stick it
out. I thanked him demurely and added, with a slight and smiling

"I fear no bit can save me to-day, thank you."

At which Peter said with visible irritability:

"Oh, for God's sake then don't let us go on! If you hate my horse
I vote we go no farther!"

"What a cross man!" I said to myself, seeing him flushed and
snappy; but a ringing "Halloa!" brought our deliberations to an
abrupt end.

Havoc and I shot down the road, passing the blustering field; and,
hopping over a gap, we found ourselves close to the hounds, who
were running hell-for-leather towards a handsome country seat
perched upon a hill. A park is what I hate most out hunting:
hounds invariably lose the line, the field loses its way and I
lose my temper.

I looked round to see if my benefactor was near me, but he was
nowhere to be seen. Eight or ten hard riders were behind me; they

"Don't go into the wood! Turn to your left! Don't go into the

I saw a fancy gate of yellow polished oak in front of me, at the
end of one of the grass rides in the wood, and what looked like
lawns beyond. I was unable to turn to the left with my companions,
but plunged into the trees where the hounds paused: not so Havoc,
who, in spite of the deep ground, was still going great guns. A
lady behind me, guessing what had happened, left her companions
and managed somehow or other to pass me in the ride; and, as I
approached the yellow gate, she was holding it open for me. I
shouted my thanks to her and she shouted back:

"Get off when you stop!"

This was my fixed determination, as I had observed that Havoc's
tongue was over the bit and he was not aware that any one was on
his back, nor was he the least tired and no doubt would have
jumped the yellow gate with ease.

After leaving my saviour I was joined by my former companions. The
hounds had picked up again and we left the gate, the wood and the
country seat behind us. Still going very strong, we all turned
into a chalk field with a white road sunk between two high banks
leading down to a ford. I kept on the top of the bank, as I was
afraid of splashing people in the water, if not knocking them
down. Two men were standing by the fence ahead, which separated me
from what appeared to be a river; and I knew there must be a
considerable drop in front of me. They held their hands up in
warning as I came galloping up; I took my foot out of the stirrup
and dropping my reins gave myself up for lost, but in spite of
Havoc slowing up he was going too fast to stop or turn. He made a
magnificent effort, but I saw the water twinkling below me; and
after that I knew no more.

When I came to, I was lying on a box bed in a cottage, with Peter
and the lady who had held the yellow gate kneeling by my side.

"I think you are mad to put any one on that horse!" I heard her
say indignantly. "You know how often it has changed hands; and you
yourself can hardly ride it."

Havoc had tried to scramble down the bank, which luckily for me
had not been immediately under the fence, but it could not be
done, so we took a somersault into the brook, most alarming for
the people in the ford to see. However, as the water was deep
where I landed, I was not hurt, but had fainted from fear and

Peter's misery was profound; ice-white and in an agony of fear, he
was warming my feet with both his hands while I watched him
quietly. I was taken home in a brougham by my kind friend, who
turned out to be Mrs. Bunbury, a sister of John Watson, the Master
of the Meath hounds, and the daughter of old Mr. Watson, the
Master of the Carlow and the finest rider to hounds in England.

This was how Peter and I first came really to know each other; and
after that it was only a question of time when our friendship
developed into a serious love-affair. I stayed with Mrs. Bunbury
in the Grafton country that winter for several weeks and was
mounted by every one.

As Peter was a kind of hero in the hunting field and had never
been known to mount a woman, I was the object of much jealousy.
The first scene in my life occurred at Brackley, where he and a
friend of his, called Hatfield Harter, shared a hunting box

There was a lady of charm and beauty in the vicinity who went by
the name of Mrs. Bo. They said she had gone well to hounds in her
youth, but I had never observed her jump a twig. She often joined
us when Peter and I were changing horses and once or twice had
ridden home with us. Peter did not appear to like her much, but I
was too busy to notice this one way or the other. One day I said
to him I thought he was rather snubby to her and added:

"After all, she must have been a very pretty woman when she was
young and I don't think it's nice of you to show such irritation
when she joins us."

PETER: "Do you call her old?"

MARGOT: "Well, oldish I should say. She must be over thirty, isn't

PETER: "Do you call that old?"

MARGOT: "I don't know! How old are you, Peter?"

PETER: "I shan't tell you."

One day I rode back from hunting, having got wet to the skin. I
had left the Bunbury brougham in Peter's stables but I did not
like to go back in wet clothes; so, after seeing my horse
comfortably gruelled, I walked up to the charming lady's house to
borrow dry clothes. She was out, but her maid gave me a coat and
skirt, which--though much too big--served my purpose.

After having tea with Peter, who was ill in bed, I drove up to
thank the lady for her clothes. She was lying on a long, thickly
pillowed couch, smoking a cigarette in a boudoir that smelt of
violets. She greeted me coldly; and I was just going away when she
threw her cigarette into the fire and, suddenly sitting very
erect, said:

"Wait! I have something to say to you."

I saw by the expression on her face that I had no chance of
getting away, though I was tired and felt at a strange
disadvantage in my flowing skirts.

MRS. BO: "Does it not strike you that going to tea with a man who
is in bed is a thing no one can do?"

MARGOT: "Going to see a man who is ill? No, certainly not!"

MRS. BO: "Well, then let me tell you for your own information how
it will strike other people. I am a much older woman than you and
I warn you, you can't go on doing this sort of thing! Why should
you come down here among all of us who are friends and make
mischief and create talk?"

I felt chilled to the bone and, getting up, said:

"I think I had better leave you now, as I am tired and you are

MRS. BO (standing up and coming very close to me): "Do you not
know that I would nurse Peter Flower through yellow fever! But,
though I have lived next door to him these last three years, I
would never dream of doing what you have done to-day."

The expression on her face was so intense that I felt sorry for
her and said as gently as I could:

"I do not see why you shouldn't! Especially if you are all such
friends down here as you say you are. However, every one has a
different idea of what is right and wrong. ...I must go now!"

I was determined not to stay a moment longer and walked to the
door, but she had lost her head and said in a hard, bitter voice:

"You say every one has a different idea of right and wrong, but I
should say you have none!"

At this I left the room.

When I told Mrs. Bunbury what had happened, all she said was:

"Cat! She's jealous! Before you came down here, Peter Flower was
in love with her."

This was a great shock to me and I determined I would leave the
Grafton country, as I had already been away far too long from my
own people; so I wrote to Peter saying I was sorry not to say
good-bye to him, but that I had to go home. The next day was
Sunday. I got my usual love-letter from Peter--who, whether I saw
him or not, wrote daily--telling me that his temperature had gone
up again and that he would give me his two best horses on Monday,
as he was not allowed to leave his room. After we had finished
lunch, Peter turned up, looking ill and furious. Mrs. Bunbury
greeted him sweetly and said:

"You ought to be in bed, you know; but, since you ARE here, I'll
leave Margot to look after you while Jacky and I go round the

When we were left to ourselves, Peter, looking at me, said:

"Well! I've got your letter! What is all this about? Don't you
know there are two horses coming over from Ireland this week which
I want you particularly to ride for me?"

I saw that he was thoroughly upset and told him that I was going
home, as I had been already too long away.

"Have your people written to you?" he said.

MARGOT: "They always write. ..."

PETER: (seeing the evasion): "What's wrong?"

MARGOT: "What do you mean?"

PETER: "You know quite well that no one has asked you to go home.
Something has happened; some one has said something to you; you've
been put out. After all it was only yesterday that we were
discussing every meet; and you promised to give me a lurcher. What
has happened since to change you?"

MARGOT: "Oh, what does it matter? I can always come down here
again later on."

PETER: "How wanting in candour you are! You are not a bit like
what I thought you were!"

MARGOT (sweetly): "No ...?"

PETER: "Not a bit! You are a regular woman. I thought differently
of you somehow!"

MARGOT: "You thought I was a dog-fancier or a rough-rider, did
you, with a good thick skin?"

PETER: "I fail to understand you! Are you alluding to the manners
of my horses?"

MARGOT: "No, to your friends."

PETER: "Ah! Ah! Nous y sommes! ... How can you be so childish!
What did Mrs. Bo say to you?"

MARGOT: "Oh, spare me from going into your friends' affairs!"

PETER (flushed with temper, but trying to control himself): "What
does it matter what an old woman says whose nose has been put out
of joint in the hunting-field?"

MARGOT: "You told me she was young."

PETER: "What an awful lie! You said she was pretty and I disagreed
with you." Silence. "What did she say to you? I tell you she is
jealous of you in the hunting-field!"

MARGOT: "No, she's not; she's jealous of me in your bedroom and
says I don't know right from wrong."

PETER (startled at first and then bursting out laughing): "There's
nothing very original about that!"

MARGOT (indignantly): "Do you mean to say that it's a platitude?
And that I DON'T know right from wrong?"

PETER (taking my hands and kissing them with a sigh of intense
relief): "I wonder!"

MARGOT (getting up): "Well, after that, nothing will induce me to
stay down here or ride any of your horses ever again! No regiment
of soldiers will keep me!"

PETER: "Really, darling, how can you be so foolish! Who would ever
think it wrong to go and see a poor devil ill in bed! You had to
ride my horse back to its stable and it was your duty to come and
ask after me and thank me for all my kindness to you and the good
horses I've put you on!"

MARGOT: "Evidently in this country I am not wanted, Mrs. Bo said
so; and you ought to have warned me you were in love with her. You
said I was not the woman you thought I was: well, I can say the
same of you!"

At this Peter got up and all his laughter disappeared.

"Do you mean what you say? Is this the impression you got from
talking to Mrs. Bo?"

MARGOT: "Yes."

PETER: "In that case I will go and see her and ask her which of
the two of you is lying! If it's you, you needn't bother yourself
to leave this country, for I shall sell my horses. ...I wish to
God I had never met you!"

I felt very uncomfortable and unhappy, as in my heart I knew that
Mrs. Bo had never said Peter was in love with her; she had not
alluded to his feelings for her at all. I got up to stop him
leaving the room and put myself in front of the door.

MARGOT: "Really, why make scenes! There is nothing so tiring; and
you know quite well you are ill and ought to go to bed. Is there
any object in going round the country discussing me?"

PETER: "Just go away, will you? I'm ill and want to get off."

I did not move; I saw he was white with rage. The idea of going
round the country talking about me was more than he could bear; so
I said, trying to mollify him:

"If you want to discuss me, I am always willing to listen; there
is nothing I enjoy so much as talking about myself."

It was too late. All he said to me was:

"Do you mind leaving that door? You tire me and it's getting

MARGOT: "I will let you go, but promise me you won't go to Mrs. Bo
to-day; or, if you DO, tell me what you are going to say to her

PETER: "You've never told me yet what she said to you, except that
I was in love with her, so why should I tell you what I propose
saying to her! For once you cannot have it all your own way. You
are SO spoilt since you've been down here that..."

I flung the door wide open and, before he could finish his
sentence, ran up to my room.

 Peter was curiously upsetting to the feminine sense; he wanted to
conceal it and to expose it at the same time, under the impression
it might arouse my jealousy. He was specially angry with me for
dancing with King Edward, then the Prince of Wales. I told him
that if he would learn to waltz instead of prance I would dance
with him, but till he did I should choose my own partners. Over
this we had a great row; and, after sitting out two dances with
the Prince, I put on my cloak and walked round to 40 Grosvenor
Square without saying good night to Peter. I was in my dressing-
gown, with my hair--my one claim to beauty--standing out all
round my head, when I heard a noise in the street and, looking
down, I saw Peter standing on the wall of our porch gazing across
an angle of the area into the open window of our library,
contemplating, I presumed, jumping into it; I raced downstairs to
stop this dangerous folly, but I was too late and, as I opened the
library-door, he had given a cat-like spring, knocking a flower-
pot down into the area, and was by my side. I lit two candles on
the writing-table and scolded him for his recklessness. He told me
had made a great deal of money by jumping from a stand on to
tables and things and once he had won L500 by jumping on to a
mantelpiece when the fire was burning. As we were talking I heard
voices in the area; Peter, with the instinct of a burglar,
instantly lay flat on the floor behind the sofa, his head under
the valance of the chintz, and I remained at the writing-table,
smoking my cigarette; this was all done in a second. The door
opened; I looked round and was blinded by the blaze of a bull's-
eye lantern. When it was removed from my face, I saw two
policemen, an inspector and my father's servant. I got up slowly
and, with my head in the air, sat upon the arm of the sofa,
blocking the only possibility of Peter's full length being seen.

MARGOT (with great dignity): "Is this a practical joke?"

INSPECTOR (coolly): "Not at all, madam, but it is only right to
tell you a hansom cabman informed us that, as he was passing this
house a few minutes ago, he saw a man jump into that window."

He walked away from me and, holding his lantern over the area,
peered down and saw the broken flower-pot. I knew lying was more
than useless and, as the truth had always served me well, I said,
giving my father's servant, who looked sleepy, a heavy kick on the

"That is quite true; a friend of mine DID jump in at that window,
about a quarter of an hour ago; but (looking down with a sweet an
modest smile) he was not a burglar ..."

HENRY HILL (my father's servant): "How often I've told you, miss,
that, as long as Master Edward loses his latch-keys, there is
nothing to be done and something is bound to happen! One day he
will not only lose the latch-key, but his life."

INSPECTOR: "I'm sorry to have frightened you, madam, I will now
take down your names ..."

MARGOT (anxiously): "Oh, I see, you have to report it in the
police news, have you? Has the cabman given you his name? He ought
to be rewarded, he might have saved us all!"

I felt that I could have strangled the cabman, but, collecting
myself, took one candle off the writing-table and, blowing the
other out, led the way to the library-door, saying slowly:

"Margaret... Emma... Alice Tennant. Do I have to add my

INSPECTOR (busily writing in a small note-book): "No, thank you."
(Turning to Hill) "Your name, please."

My father's servant was thoroughly roused and I regretted my kick
when in a voice of thunder he said:

"Henry Hastings Appleby Hill."

I felt quite sure that my father would appear over the top of the
stair and then all would be over; but, by the fortune that follows
the brave, perfect silence reigned throughout the house. I walked
slowly away, while Hill led the three policemen into the hall.
When the front door had been barred and bolted, I ran down the
back stairs and said, smiling brightly:

"I shall tell my father all about this! You did very well; good
night, Hill."

When the coast was clear, I returned to the library with my heart
beating and shut the door. Peter had disentangled himself from the
sofa and was taking fluff off his coat with an air of happy
disengagement; I told him with emphasis that I was done for, that
my name would be ringing in the police news next day and that I
was quite sure by the inspector's face that he knew exactly what
had happened; that all this came from Peter's infernal temper,
idiotic jealousy and complete want of self-control. Agitated and
eloquent, I was good for another ten minutes' abuse; but he
interrupted me by saying, in his most caressing manner:

"The inspector is all right, my dear! He is a friend of mine! I
wouldn't have missed this for the whole world: you were
magnificent! Which shall we reward, the policeman, the cabman or

MARGOT: "Don't be ridiculous! What do you propose doing?"

PETER (trying to kiss my hands which I had purposely put behind my
back): "I propose having a chat with Inspector Wood and then with
Hastings Appleby."

MARGOT: "How do you know Inspector Wood, as you call him?"

PETER: "He did a friend of mine a very good turn once."

MARGOT: "What sort of turn?"

PETER: "Sugar Candy insulted me at the Turf and I was knocking him
into a jelly in Brick Street, when Wood intervened and saved his
life. I can assure you he would do anything in the world for me
and I'll make it all right! He shall have a handsome present."

MARGOT: "How vulgar! Having a brawl in Brick Street! How did you
come to be in the East-end?"

PETER: "East-end! Why, it's next to Down Street, out of

MARGOT: "It's very wrong to bribe the police, Peter!"

PETER: "I'm not going to bribe him, governess! I'm going to give
him my Airedale terrier."

MARGOT: "What! That brute that killed the lady's lap-dog?"

PETER: "The very same!"

MARGOT: "God help poor Wood!"

Peter was so elated with this shattering escapade that a week
after--on the occasion of another row, in which I pointed out that
he was the most selfish man in the world--I heard him whistling
under my bedroom window at midnight. Afraid lest he should wake my
parents, I ran down in my dressing-gown to open the front door,
but nothing would induce the chain to move. It was a newly
acquired habit of the servants, started by Henry Hill from the
night he had barred out the police. Being a hopeless mechanic and
particularly weak in my fingers, I gave it up and went to the open
window in the library. I begged him to go away, as nothing would
induce me to forgive him, and I told him that my papa had only
just retired to bed.

Peter, unmoved, ordered me to take the flower-pots off the
window-sill, or he would knock them down and make a horrible
noise, which would wake the whole house. After I had refused to do
this, he said he would very likely break his neck when he jumped,
as clearing the pots would mean hitting his head against the
window frame. Fearing an explosion of temper, I weakly removed the
flower-pots and watched his acrobatic feat with delight.

We had not been talking on the sofa for more than five minutes
when I heard a shuffle of feet outside the library-door. I got up
with lightning rapidity and put out the two candles on the
writing-table with the palms of my hands, returning noiselessly
to Peter's side on the sofa, where we sat in black darkness, The
door opened and my father came in holding a bedroom candle in his
hand; he proceeded to walk stealthily round the room, looking at
his pictures. The sofa on which we were sitting was in the window
and had nothing behind it but tile curtains. He held his candle
high and close to every picture in turn and, putting his head
forward, scanned them with tenderness and love. I saw Peter's
idiotic hat and stick under the Gainsborough and could not resist
nudging him as "The Ladies Erne and Dillon" were slowly
approached. A candle held near one's face is the most blinding of
all things and, after inspecting the sloping shoulders and anaemic
features of the Gainsborough ladies, my father, quietly humming to
himself, returned to his bed.

Things did not always go so smoothly with us. One night Peter
suggested that I should walk away with him from the ball and try
an American trotter which had been lent to him by a friend. As it
was a glorious night, I thought it might be rather fun, so we
walked down Grosvenor Street into Park Lane; and there stood the
buggy under a lamp. American trotters always appear to be
misshapen; they are like coloured prints that are not quite in
drawing and have never attracted me.

After we had placed ourselves firmly in the rickety buggy, Peter
said to the man as he took the reins:

"Let him go, please!"

And go he did, with a curious rapid, swaying waddle. There was no
traffic and we turned into the Edgware Road towards Hendon at a
great pace, but Peter was a bad driver and after a little time
said his arms ached and he thought it was time the "damned" horse
was made to stop.

"I'm told the only way to stop an American trotter," said he, "is
to hit him over the head." At this I took the whip out of the
socket and threw it into the road.

Peter, maddened by my action, shoved the reins into my hands,
saying he would jump out. I did not take the smallest notice of
this threat, but slackened the reins, after which we went quite
slowly. I need hardly say Peter did not jump out, but suggested
with severity that we should go back and look for the whip.

This was the last thing I intended to do, so when we turned I
leant back in my seat and tugged at the trotter with all my might,
and we flew home without uttering a single word.

I was an excellent driver, but that night had taxed all my powers
and, when we pulled up at the corner of Grosvenor Square, I ached
in every limb. We were not in the habit of arriving together at
the front door; and after he had handed me down to the pavement I
felt rather awkward: I had no desire to break the silence, but
neither did I want to take away Peter's coat, which I was wearing,
so I said tentatively:

"Shall I give you your covert-coat?"

PETER: "Don't be childish! How can you walk back to the front door
in your ball-dress? If any one happened to be looking out of the
window, what would they think?"

This was really more than I could bear. I wrenched off his coat
and placing it firmly on his arm, said:

"Most people, if they are sensible, are sound asleep at this time
of the night, but I thank you all the same for your

We turned testily away from each other and I walked home alone.
When I reached our front door my father opened it and, seeing me
in my white tulle dress, was beside himself with rage. He asked me
if I would kindly explain what I was doing, walking in the streets
in my ball-dress at two in the morning. I told him exactly what
had happened and warned him soothingly never to buy an American
trotter; he told me that my reputation was ruined, that his was
also and that my behaviour would kill my mother; I put my arms
round his neck, told him soothingly that I had not really enjoyed
myself AT ALL and promised him that I would never do it again. By
this time my mother had come out of her bedroom and was leaning
over the staircase in her dressing-gown. She said in a pleading

"Pray do not agitate yourself, Charlie. You've done a very wrong
action, Margot! You really ought to have more consideration for
your father: no one knows how impressionable he is. ... Please
tell Mr. Flower that we do not approve of him at all! ..."

MARGOT: "You are absolutely right, dear mamma, and that is exactly
what I have said to him more than once. But you need not worry,
for no one saw us. Let's go to bed, darling, I'm dog-tired!"

Peter was thoroughly inconsequent about money and a great gambler;
he told me one day in sorrow that his only chance of economising
was to sell his horses and go to India to shoot big game,
incidentally escaping his creditors.

When Peter went to India I was very unhappy, but to please my
people I told them I would say good-bye and not write to him for a
year, a promise which was faithfully kept.

While he was away, a young man of rank and fortune fell in love
with me out hunting. He never proposed, he only declared himself.
I liked him particularly, but his attention sat lightly on me;
this rather nettled him and he told me one day riding home in the
dark, that he was sure I must be in love with somebody else. I
said that it did not at all follow and that, if he were wise he
would stop talking about love and go and buy himself some good
horses for Leicestershire, where I was going in a week to hunt
with Lord Manners. We were staying together at Cholmondeley
Castle, in Cheshire, with my beloved friend, Winifred
Cholmondeley, [Footnote: The Marchioness of Cholmondeley.] then
Lady Rocksavage. My new young man took my advice and went up to
London, promising he would lend me "two of the best that money
could buy" to take to Melton, where he proposed shortly to follow

When he arrived at Tattersalls there were several studs of well-
known horses being sold: Jack Trotter's, Sir William Eden's and
Lord Lonsdale's. Among the latter was a famous hunter, called Jack
Madden, which had once belonged to Peter Flower; and my friend
determined he would buy it for me. Some one said to him:

"I don't advise you to buy that horse, as you won't be able to
ride it!"

(The fellow who related this to me added, "As you know, Miss
Tennant, this is the only certain way by which you can sell any

Another man said: "I don't agree with you, the horse is all
right; when it belonged to Flower I saw Miss Margot going like a
bird on it. ..."

MY FRIEND: "Did Miss Tennant ride Flower's horses?"

At this the other fellow said:

"Why, my dear man, where HAVE you lived! ..."

Some months after I had ridden Jack Madden and my own horses over
high Leicestershire, my friend came to see me and asked me to
swear on my Bible oath that I would not give him away over a
secret which he intended to tell me.

After I had taken my solemn oath he said: "Your friend Peter
Flower in India was going to be put in the bankruptcy court and
turned out of every club in London; so I went to Sam Lewis and
paid his debt, but I don't want him to know about it and he never
need, unless you tell him."

MARGOT: "What does he owe? And whom does he owe it to?"

MY FRIEND: "He owes ten thousand pounds, but I'm not at liberty to
tell you who it's to; he is a friend of mine and a very good
fellow. I can assure you that he has waited longer than most
people would for Flower to pay him and I think he's done the right

MARGOT: "Is Peter Flower a friend of yours?"

MY FRIEND: "I don't know him by sight and have never spoken to him
in my life, but he's the man you're in love with and that is
enough for me."

. . . . . . .

When the year was up and Peter--for all I knew--was still in
India, I had made up my mind that, come what might, I would never,
under any circumstances, renew my relations with him.

That winter I was staying with the Manners, as usual, and finding
myself late for a near meet cut across country. Larking is always
a stupid thing to do; horses that have never put a foot wrong
generally refuse the smallest fence and rather than upset them at
the beginning of the day you end by going through the gate, which
you had better have done at first.

I had a mare called Molly Bawn, given to me by my fiance, who was
the finest timber-jumper in Leicestershire, and, seeing the people
at the meet watching me as I approached, I could not resist, out
of pure swagger, jumping an enormous gate. I said to myself how
disgusted Peter would have been at my vulgarity! But at the same
time it put me in good spirits. Something, however, made me turn
round; I saw a man behind me, jumping the fence beside my gate;
and there was Peter Flower! He was in tearing spirits and told me
with eagerness how completely he had turned over a new leaf and
never intended doing this, that or the other again, as far the
most wonderful thing had happened to him that ever happened to any

"I'm under a lucky star, Margie! By heavens I am! And the joy of
seeing you is SO GREAT that I won't allude to the gate, or Molly
Bawn, or you, or any thing ugly! Let us enjoy ourselves for once;
and for God's sake don't scold me. Are you glad to see me? Let me
look at you! Which do you love best, Molly Bawn or me? Don't
answer but listen."

He then proceeded to tell me how his debts had been paid by Sam
Lewis--the money-lender--through an unknown benefactor and how he
had begged Lewis to tell who it was, but that he had refused,
having taken his oath never to reveal the name. My heart beat and
I said a remarkably stupid thing:

"How wonderful! But you'll have to pay him back, Peter, won't

PETER: "Oh, indeed! Then perhaps you can tell me who it is ..."

MARGOT: "How can I?"

PETER: "Do you know who it is?"

MARGOT: "I do not."

I felt the cock ought to have crowed, but I said nothing; and
Peter was so busy greeting his friends in the field that I prayed
he had not observed my guilty face.

Some days after this there was a race meeting at Leicester. Lord
Lonsdale took a special at Oakham for the occasion and the
Manners, Peter and I all went to the races. When I walked into the
paddock, I saw my new friend--the owner of Jack Madden--talking to
the Prince of Wales. When we joined them, the Prince suggested
that we should go and see Mrs. Langtry's horse start, as it was a
great rogue and difficult to mount.

As we approached the Langtry horse, the crowd made way for us and
I found my friend next to me; on his other side was Peter Flower
and then the Prince. The horse had his eyes bandaged and one of
his forelegs was being held by a stable-boy. When the jockey was
up and the bandage removed, it jumped into the air and gave an
extended and violent buck. I was standing so near that I felt the
draught of its kick on my hair. At this my friend gave a slight
scream and, putting his arm round me, pulled me back towards him.
A miss is as good as a mile, so after thanking him for his
protection I chatted cheerfully to the Prince of Wales.

There is nothing so tiring as racing and we all sat in perfect
silence going home in the special that evening.

Neither at dinner nor after had I any opportunity of speaking to
Peter, but I observed a singularly impassive expression on his
face. The next day--being Sunday--I asked him to go round the
stables with me after church; he refused, so I went alone. After
dinner I tried again to talk to him, but he would not answer; he
did not look angry, but he appeared to be profoundly sad, which
depressed me. He told Hoppy Manners he was not going to hunt that
week as he feared he would have to be in London. My heart sank. We
all went to our rooms early and Peter remained downstairs reading.
As he never read in winter I knew there was something seriously
wrong, so I went down in my tea-gown to see him. It was nearly
midnight. The room was empty and we were alone. He never looked

MARGOT: "Peter, you've not spoken to me once since the races. What
can have happened?"

PETER: "I would rather you left me, PLEASE. ... Pray go back to
your room."

MARGOT (sitting on the sofa beside him): "Won't you speak to me
and tell me all about it?"

Peter put down his book, and looking at me steadily, said very

"I'd rather not speak to a liar!"

I stood up as if I had been shot and said:

"How dare you say such a thing!"

PETER: "You lied to me."

MARGOT: "When?"

PETER: "You know perfectly well! And you are in love! You know you
are. Will you deny it?"

"Oh! it's this that worries you, is it?" said I sweetly. "What
would you say if I told you I was NOT?"

PETER: "I would say you were lying again."

MARGOT: "Have I ever lied to you, Peter?"

PETER: "How can I tell? (SHRUGGING HIS SHOULDERS) You have lied
twice, so I presume since I've been away you've got into the habit
of it."

MARGOT: "Peter!"

PETER: "A man doesn't scream and put his arm round a woman, as D--
ly did at the races to-day, unless he is in love. Will you tell me
who paid my debt, please?"

MARGOT: "No, I won't."

PETER: "Was it D--ly?"

MARGOT: "I shan't tell you. I'm not Sam Lewis; and, since I'm such
a liar, is it worth while asking me these stupid questions?"

PETER: "Ah, Margot, this is the worst blow of my life! I see you
are deceiving me. I know who paid my debt now."

MARGOT: "Then why ask ME? ..."

PETER: "When I went to India I had never spoken to D--ly in my
life. Why should he have paid my debts for me? You had much better
tell me the simple truth and get it over: it's all settled and
you're going to marry him."

MARGOT: "Since I've got into the way of lying, you might spare
yourself and me these vulgar questions."

PETER (SEIZING MY HANDS IN ANGUISH): "Say you aren't going to
marry him ... tell me, tell me it's NOT true."

MARGOT: "Why should I? He has never asked me to."

After this the question of matrimony was bound to come up between
us. The first time it was talked of, I was filled with anxiety. It
seemed to put a finish to the radiance of our friendship and,
worse than that, it brought me up against my father, who had often
said to me: "You will never marry Flower; you must marry your

Peter himself, in a subconscious way, had become aware of the
situation. One evening, riding home, he said:

"Margie, do you see that?"

He pointed to the spire of the Melton Church and added:

"That is what you are in my life. I am not worth the button on
your boot!"

To which I replied:

"I would not say that, but I cannot find goodness for two."

I was profundly unhappy. To live for ever with a man who was
incapable of loving any one but himself and me, who was without
any kind of moral ambition and chronically indifferent to politics
and religion, was a nightmare.

I said to him:

"I will marry you if you get some serious occupation, Peter, but I
won't marry an idle man; you think of nothing but yourself and

PETER: "What in the name of goodness would you have me think of?

MARGOT: "You know exactly what I mean. Your power lies in love-
making, not in loving; you don't love any one but yourself."

At this, Peter moved away from me as if I had struck him and said
in a low tense voice:

"I am glad I did not say that. I would not care to have said such
a cat-cruel thing; but I pity the man who marries you! He will
think--as I did--that you are impulsively, throbbingly warm and
kind and gentle; and he will find that he has married a governess
and a prig; and a woman whose fire--of which she boasts so much--
blasts his soul."

I listened to a Peter I had never heard before, His face
frightened me. It indicated suffering. I put my head against his
and said:

"How can I make an honest man of you, my dearest?"

I was getting quite clever about people, as the Mrs. Bo episode
had taught me a lot.

A short time after this conversation, I observed a dark, good-
looking woman pursuing Peter Flower at every ball and party. He
told me when I teased him that she failed to arrest his attention
and that, for the first time in my life, I flattered him by my
jealousy. I persisted and said that I did not know if it was
jealousy but that I was convinced she was a bad friend for him.

PETER: "I've always noticed you think things bad when they don't
suit you, but why should I give up my life to you? What do you
give me in return? I'm the laughing-stock of London! But, if it is
any satisfaction to you, I will tell you I don't care for the
black lady, as you call her, and I never see her except at

I knew Peter as well as a cat knows its way in the dark and I felt
the truth of his remark: what did I give him? But I was not in a
humour to argue.

The lady often asked me to go and see her, but I shrank from it
and had never been inside her house.

One day I told Peter I would meet him at the Soane Collection in
Lincoln's Inn Fields. To my surprise he said he had engaged
himself to see his sister, who had been ill, and pointed out with
a laugh that my governessing was taking root. He added:

"I don't mind giving it up if you can spend the whole afternoon
with me."

I told him I would not have him give up going to see his sister
for the world.

Finding myself at a loose end, I thought I would pay a visit to
the black lady, as it was unworthy of me to have such a prejudice
against some one whom I did not know. It was a hot London day;
pale colours, thin stuffs, naked throats and large hats were
strewn about the parks and streets.

When I arrived, the lady's bell was answered by a hall-boy and,
hearing the piano, I told him he need not announce me. When I
opened the door, I saw Peter and the dark lady sharing the same
seat in front of the open piano. She wore a black satin sleeveless
tea-gown, cut low at the throat, with a coral ribbon round her
waist, and she had stuck a white rose in her rather dishevelled
Carmen hair. I stood still, startled by her beauty and stunned by
Peter's face. She got up, charmed to see me, and expressed her joy
at the amazing luck which had brought me there that very
afternoon, as she had a wonderful Spaniard coming to play to her
after tea and she had often been told by Peter how musical I was,
etc., etc. She hoped I was not shocked by her appearance, but she
has just come back from a studio and it was too hot to expect
people to get into decent clothes. She was perfectly at her ease
and more than welcoming; before I could answer, she rallied Peter
and said she pleaded guilty of having lured him away from the path
of duty that afternoon, ending with a slight twinkle:

"From what I'm told, Miss Margot, you would NEVER have done
anything so wicked? ..."

I felt ice in my blood and said:

"You needn't believe that! I've lured him away from the path of
duty for the last eight years, haven't I, Peter?"

There was an uncomfortable silence and I looked about for a means
of escape, but it took me some little time to find one.

I said good-bye and left the house.

When I was alone I locked the door, flung myself on my sofa, and
was blinded by tears. Peter was right; he had said, "Why should I
give up my life to you?" Why indeed! And yet, after eight years,
this seemed a terrible ending to me.

"What do you give me in return?" What indeed? What claim had I to
his fidelity? I thought I was giving gold for silver, but the dark
lady would have called it copper for gold. Was she prepared to
give everything for nothing? Why should I call it nothing? What
did I know of Peter's love for her? All I knew was she had taught
him to lie; and he must love her very much to do that: he had
never lied to me before.

I went to the opera that night with my father and mother. Peter
came into our box in a state of intense misery; I could hardly
look at him. He put his hand out toward me under the programme and
I took it.

At that moment the servant brought me a note and asked me to give
her the answer. I opened it and this was what I read:

"If you want to do a very kind thing come and see me after the
opera to-night. Don't say no."

I showed it to Peter, and he said, "Go." It was from the dark
lady; I asked him what she wanted me for and he said she was
terribly unhappy.

"Ah, Peter," said I, "what HAVE you done? ..."

PETER: "I know ... it's quite true; but I've broken it off for
ever with her."

Nothing he could have said then would have lightened my heart.

I scribbled, "Yes," on the same paper and gave it back to the

When I said good night to my mother that night after the opera, I
told her where I was going. Peter was standing in the front hall
and took me in a hansom to the lady's house, saying he would wait
for me round the corner while I had my interview with her.

It was past midnight and I felt overpoweringly tired. My beautiful
rival opened the front door to me and I followed her silently up
to her bedroom. She took off my opera-cloak and we sat down facing
each other. The room was large and dark but for a row of candles
on the mantel-piece and two high church-lights each side of a
silver pier-glass. There was a table near my chair with odds and
ends on it and a general smell of scent and flowers. I looked at
her in her blue satin nightgown and saw that she had been crying.

"It is kind of you to have come," she said, "and I daresay you
know why I wanted to see you to-night."

MARGOT: "No, I don't; I haven't the faintest idea!"

"I want you to tell me about yourself."

I felt this to be a wrong entry: she had sent for me to tell her
about Peter Flower and not myself; but why should I tell her about
either of us? I had never spoken of my love-affairs excepting to
my mother and my three friends--Con Manners, Frances Horner, and
Etty Desborough--and people had ceased speaking to me about them;
why should I sit up with a stranger and discuss myself at this
time of night? I said there was nothing to tell. She answered by
saying she had met so many people who cared for me that she felt
she almost knew me, to which I replied:

"In that case, why talk about me?"

THE LADY: "But some people care for both of us."


THE LADY: "Don't be hard, I want to know if you love Peter Flower
. ... Do you intend to marry him?"

The question had come then: this terrible question which my mother
had never asked and which I had always evaded! Had it got to be
answered now ... and to a stranger?

With a determined effort to control myself I said:

"You mean, am I engaged to be married?"

THE LADY: "I mean what I say; are you going to marry Peter?"

MARGOT: "I have never told him I would."

THE LADY (VERY SLOWLY): "Remember, my life is bound up in your
answer ..."

Her words seemed to burn and I felt a kind of pity for her. She
was leaning forward with her eyes fastened on mine and her hands
clasped between her knees.

"If you don't love him enough to marry him, why don't you leave
him alone?" she said. "Why do you keep him bound to you? Why don't
you set him free?"

MARGOT: "He is free to love whom he likes; I don't keep him, but I
won't share him."

THE LADY: "You don't love him, but you want to keep him; that is
pure selfishness and vanity."

MARGOT: "Not at all! I would give him up to-morrow and have told
him so a thousand times, if he would marry; but he is not in a
position to marry any one."

THE LADY: "How can you say such a thing! His debts have just been
paid by God knows who--some woman, I suppose!--and you are rich
yourself. What is there to hinder you from marrying him?"

MARGOT: "That was not what I was thinking about. I don't believe
you would understand even if I were to explain it to you."

THE LADY: "If you were really in love you could not be so critical
and censorious."

MARGOT: "Oh, yes, I could! You don't know me."

THE LADY: "I love him in a way you would never understand. There
is nothing in the world I would not do for him! No pain I would
not suffer and no sacrifice I would not make."

MARGOT: "What could you do for him that would help him?"

THE LADY: "I would leave my husband and my children and go right
away with him."

I felt as if she had stabbed me.

"Leave your children! and your husband!" I said. "But how can
ruining them and yourself help Peter Flower? I don't believe for a
moment he would ever do anything so vile."

THE LADY: "You think he loves you too much to run away with me, do

MARGOT (with indignation): "Perhaps I hope he cares too much for

THE LADY (not listening and getting up excitedly): "What do you
know about love? I have had a hundred lovers, but Peter Flower is
the only man I have ever really cared for; and my life is at an
end if you will not give him up."

MARGOT: "There is no question of my giving him up; he is free, I
tell you ..."

THE LADY: "I tell you he is not! He doesn't consider himself free,
he said as much to me this afternoon ... when he wanted to break
it all off."

MARGOT: "What do you wish me to do then? ..."

THE LADY: "Tell Peter you don't love him in the right way, that
you don't intend to marry him; and then leave him alone."

MARGOT: "Do you mean I am to leave him to you? ... Do you love him
in the right way?"

THE LADY: "Don't ask stupid questions . ... I shall kill myself if
he gives me up."

After this, I felt there was nothing more to be said. I told her
that Peter had a perfect right to do what he liked and that I had
neither the will nor the power to influence his decision; that I
was going abroad with my sister Lucy to Italy and would in any
case not see him for several weeks; but I added that all my
influence over him for years had been directed into making him the
right sort of man to marry and that all hers would of necessity
lie in the opposite direction. Not knowing quite how to say good-
bye, I began to finger my cloak; seeing my intention, she said:

"Just wait one moment, will you? I want to know if you are as good
as Peter always tells me you are; don't answer till I see your
eyes ..."

She took two candles off the chimneypiece and placed them on the
table near me, a little in front of my face, and then knelt upon
the ground; I looked at her wonderful wild eyes and stretched out
my hands towards her.

"Nonsense!" I said. "I am not in the least good! Get up! When I
see you kneeling at my feet, I feel sorry for you."

THE LADY (getting up abruptly): "For God's sake don't pity me!"

Thinking over the situation in the calm of my room, I had no
qualms as to either the elopement or the suicide, hut I felt a
revulsion of feeling towards Peter. His lack of moral indignation
and purpose, his intractability in all that was serious and his
incapacity to improve had been cutting a deep though unconscious
division between us for years; and I determined at whatever cost,
after this, that I would say good-bye to him.

A few days later, Lord Dufferin came to see me in Grosvenor

"Margot," he said, "why don't you marry? You are twenty-seven; and
life won't go on treating you so well if you go on treating it
like this. As an old friend who loves you, let me give you one
word of advice. You should marry in spite of being in love, but
never because of it."

Before I went away to Italy, Peter and I, with passion-lit eyes
and throbbing hearts, had said goodbye to each other for ever.

The relief of our friends at our parting was so suffocating that I
clung to the shelter of my new friend, the stranger of that House
of Commons dinner.



My husband's father was Joseph Dixon Asquith, a cloth-merchant, in
Morley, at that time a small town outside Leeds. He was a man of
high character who held Bible classes for young men. He married a
daughter of William Willans, of Huddersfield, who sprang of an old
Yorkshire Puritan stock.

He died when he was thirty-five, leaving four children: William
Willans, Herbert Henry, Emily Evelyn and Lilian Josephine. They
were brought up by their mother, who was a woman of genius. I
named my only daughter [Footnote: Princess Bibesco.] after
Goethe's mother, but was glad when I found out that her
grandmother Willans had been called Elizabeth.

William Willans--who is dead--was the eldest of the family and a
clever little man. He taught at Clifton College for over thirty

Lilian Josephine died when she was a baby; and Evelyn--one of the
best of women--is the only near relation of my husband still

My husband's mother, old Mrs. Asquith, I never knew; my friend
Mark Napier told me that she was a brilliantly clever woman but an
invalid. She had delicate lungs, which obliged her to live on the
South coast; and, when her two sons went to the City of London
School, they lived alone together in lodgings in Islington and
were both poor and industrious.

Although Henry's mother was an invalid she had a moral, religious
and intellectual influence over her family that cannot be
exaggerated. She was a profound reader and a brilliant talker and
belonged to what was in those days called orthodox nonconformity,
or Congregationalists.

After my husband's first marriage he made money by writing,
lecturing and examining at Oxford. When he was called to the Bar
success did not come to him at once.

He had no rich patron and no one to push him forward. He had made
for himself a great Oxford reputation: he was a fine scholar and
lawyer, but socially was not known by many people.

It was said that Gladstone only promoted men by seniority and
never before knowing with precision what they were like, but in my
husband's case it was not so.

Lord James of Hereford, then Sir Henry James, was Attorney
General, overburdened with a large private practice at the Bar;
and, when the great Bradlaugh case came on, in 1883, it was
suggested to him that a young man living on the same staircase
might devil the Affirmation Bill for him. This was the beginning
of Asquith's career: When Gladstone saw the brief for his speech,
he noted the fine handwriting and asked who had written it. Sir
Henry James, the kindest and most generous of men, was delighted
at Gladstone's observation and brought the young man to him. From
that moment both the Attorney General and the Prime Minister
marked him out for distinction; he rose without any intermediary
step of an under-secretaryship from a back-bencher to a Cabinet
Minister; and when we married in 1894 he was Home Secretary. In
1890 I cut and kept out of some newspapers this prophecy, little
thinking that I would marry one of the "New English Party."


Amid all the worry and turmoil and ambition of Irish politics,
there is steadily growing up a little English party, of which more
will be heard in the days that are to come. This is a band of
philosophico-social Radicals--not the OLD type of laissez-faire
politician, but quite otherwise. In other words, what I may call
practical Socialism has caught on afresh with a knot of clever,
youngish members of Parliament who sit below the gangway on the
Radical side. This little group includes clever, learned,
metaphysical Mr. Haldane, one of the rising lawyers of his day;
young Sir Edward Grey, sincere, enthusiastic, with a certain gift
for oratory, and helped by a beautiful and clever wife; Mr. Sidney
Buxton, who has perhaps the most distinct genius for practical
work; and finally, though in rather loose attachment to the rest,
Mr. Asquith, brilliant, cynical, cold, clear, but with his eye on
the future. The dominant ideas of this little band tend in the
direction of moderate Collectivism--i.e., of municipal Socialism.

I met my husband for the first time in 1891, at a dinner given by
Peter Flower's brother Cyril. [Footnote: The late Lord Battersea.]
I had never heard of him in my life, which gives some indication
of how I was wasting my time on two worlds: I do not mean this and
the next, but the sporting and dramatic, Melton in the winter and
the Lyceum in the summer. My Coquelin coachings and my dancing-
lessons had led me to rehearsals both of the ballet and the drama;
and for a short time I was at the feet of Ellen Terry and Irving.
I say "short" advisedly, for then as now I found Bohemian society
duller than any English watering-place. Every one has a different
conception of Hell and few of us connect it with flames; but stage
suppers are my idea of Hell and, with the exception of Irving and
Coquelin, Ellen Terry and Sarah Bernhardt, I have never met the
hero or heroine off the stage that was not ultimately dull.

The dinner where I was introduced to Henry was in the House of
Commons and I sat next to him. I was tremendously impressed by his
conversation and his clean Cromwellian face. He was different from
the others and, although abominably dressed, had so much
personality that I made up my mind at once that here was a man who
could help me and would understand everything. It never crossed my
brain that he was married, nor would that have mattered; I had
always been more anxious that Peter Flower should marry than
myself, because he was thirteen years older than I was, but
matrimony was not the austere purpose of either of our lives.

After dinner we all walked on the Terrace and I was flattered to
find my new friend by my side. Lord Battersea chaffed me in his
noisy, flamboyant manner, trying to separate us; but with tact and
determination this frontal attack was resisted and my new friend
and I retired to the darkest part of the Terrace, where, leaning
over the parapet, we gazed into the river and talked far into the

Our host and his party--thinking that I had gone home and that Mr.
Asquith had returned to the House when the division bell rang--had
disappeared; and when we finished our conversation the Terrace was
deserted and the sky light.

We met a few days later dining with Sir Algernon West--a very dear
and early friend of mine--and after this we saw each other
constantly. I found out from something he said to me that he was
married and lived at Hampstead and that his days were divided
between 1 Paper Buildings and the House of Commons. He told me
that he had always been a shy man and in some ways this is true of
him even now; but I am glad that I did not observe it at the time,
as shy people disconcerted me: I liked modesty, I pitied timidity,
but I was embarrassed by shyness.

I cannot truly say, however, that the word shy described my
husband at any time: he was a little gauche in movement and
blushed when he was praised, but I have never seen him nervous
with any one or embarrassed by any social dilemma. His unerring
instinct into all sorts of people and affairs--quite apart from
his intellectual temperament and learning--and his incredible lack
of vanity struck me at once. The art of making every man better
pleased with himself he had in a high degree; and he retains to
this day an incurable modesty.

When I discovered that he was married, I asked him to bring his
wife to dinner, which he did, and directy I saw her I said:

"I do hope, Mrs. Asquith, you have not minded your husband dining
here without you, but I rather gathered Hampstead was too far away
for him to get back to you from the House of Commons. You must
always let me know and come with him whenever it suits you."

In making this profound and attaching friendship with the
stranger of that House of Commons dinner, I had placed myself in a
difficult position when Helen Asquith died. To be a stepwife and a
stepmother was unthinkable, but at the same time the moment had
arrived when a decision--involving a great change in my life--had
become inevitable. I had written to Peter Flower before we parted
every day for nine years--with the exception of the months he had
spent flying from his creditors in India--and I had prayed for him
every night, but it had not brought more than happiness to both of
us; and when I deliberately said good-bye to him I shut down a
page of my life which, even if I had wished to, I could never have
reopened. When Henry told me he cared for me, that unstifled inner
voice which we all of us hear more or less indistinctly told me I
would be untrue to myself and quite unworthy of life if, when such
a man came knocking at the door, I did not fling it wide open. The
rumour that we were engaged to be married caused alarm amounting
to consternation in certain circles. Both Lord Rosebery and Lord
Randolph Churchill, without impugning me in any way, deplored the
marriage, nor were they by any means alone in thinking such a
union might ruin the life of a promising politician. Some of my
own friends were equally apprehensive from another point of view;
to start my new life charged with a ready-made family of children
brought up very differently from myself, with a man who played no
games and cared for no sport, in London instead of in the country,
with no money except what he could make at the Bar, was, they
thought, taking too many risks.

My Melton friends said it was a terrible waste that I was not
marrying a sporting man and told me afterwards that they nearly
signed a round-robin to implore me never to give up hunting, but
feared I might think it impertinent.

The rumour of my engagement caused a sensation in the East-end of
London as well as the West. The following was posted to me by an
anonymous well-wisher:

At the meeting of the "unemployed" held on Tower Hill yesterday
afternoon, John E. Williams, the organiser appointed by the Social
Democratic Federation, said that on the previous day they had gone
through the West-end squares and had let the "loafers" living
there know that they were alive. On the previous evening he had
seen an announcement which, at first sight, had caused tears to
run down his face, for he had thought it read, "Mr. Asquith going
to be murdered." However, it turned out that Mr. Asquith was going
to be married, and he accordingly proposed that the unemployed,
following the example of the people in the West-end, should
forward the right hon. gentleman a congratulatory message. He
moved: "That this mass meeting of the unemployed held on Tower
Hill, hearing that Mr. Asquith is about to enter the holy bonds of
matrimony, and knowing he has no sympathy for the unemployed, and
that he has lately used his position in the House of Commons to
insult the unemployed, trusts that his partner will be one of the
worst tartars it is possible for a man to have, and that his
family troubles will compel him to retire from political life, for
which he is so unfit." The reading of the resolution was followed
by loud laughter and cheers. Mr. Crouch (National Union of Boot
and Shoe Operatives) seconded the motion, which was supported by a
large number of other speakers and adopted.

I was much more afraid of spoiling Henry's life than my own, and
what with old ties and bothers, and new ties and stepchildren, I
deliberated a long time before the final fixing of my wedding-day.

I had never met any of his children except little Violet when I
became engaged and he only took me to see them once before we were
married, as they lived in a villa at Redhill under the charge of a
kind and careful governess; he never spoke of them except one day
when, after my asking him if he thought they would hate me and
cataloguing my grave imperfections and moderate qualifications for
the part, he stopped me and said that his eldest son, Raymond, was
remarkably clever and would be devoted to me, adding thoughtfully:

"I think--and hope--he is ambitious."

This was a new idea to me: we had always been told what a wicked
thing ambition was; but we were a fighting family of high spirits
and not temper, so we had acquiesced, without conforming to the
nursery dictum. The remark profoundly impressed me and I pondered
it over in my heart. I do not think, by the way, that it turned
out to be a true prophecy, but Raymond Asquith had such unusual
intellectual gifts that no one could have convicted him of lack of
ambition. To win without work, to score without an effort and to
delight without premeditation is given to few.

One night after our engagement we were dining with Sir Henry and
Lady Campbell-Bannerman. While the women were talking and the men
drinking, dear old Mrs. Gladstone and other elderly ladies and
political wives took me on as to the duties of the spouse of a
possible Prime Minister; they were so eloquent and severe that at
the end of it my nerves were racing round like a squirrel in a

When Mr. Gladstone came into the drawing-room I felt depressed
and, clinging to his arm, I switched him into a corner and said I
feared the ladies took me for a jockey or a ballet-girl, as I had
been adjured to give up, among other things, dancing, riding and
acting. He patted my hand, said he knew no one better fitted to be
the wife of a great politician than myself and ended by saying
that, while I was entitled to discard exaggeration in rebuke, it
was a great mistake not to take criticism wisely and in a spirit
which might turn it to good account.

I have often thought of this when I see how brittle and
egotistical people are at the smallest disapprobation. I never get
over my surprise, old as I am, at the surly moral manners, the
lack of humbleness and the colossal personal vanity that are the
bed-rock of people's incapacity to take criticism well. There is
no greater test of size than this; but, judged by this test, most
of us are dwarfs.

Disapproving of long engagements and wishing to escape the
cataract of advice by which my friends thought to secure both my
husband's and my own matrimonial bliss, I hurried on my marriage.
My friends and advisers made me unhappy at this time, but
fortunately for me Henry Asquith is a compelling person and, in
spite of the anxiety of the friends and relations, we were married
at St. George's, Hanover Square, on May the 10th, 1894. I doubt if
any bride ever received so many strange letters as I did. There
was one which I kept in front of me when I felt discouraged. I
shall not say who it is from, as the writer is alive:


You are not different to other people except in this respect--you
have a clear, cold head, and a hot, keen heart, and you won't find
EVERYTHING; so choose what lasts, and with luck and with pluck,
marrying as you are from the highest motives, you will be repaid.
Asquith is far too good for you. He is not conventional, and will
give you a great deal of freedom. He worships you, and understands
you, and is bent on making the best of you and the life together.
You are marrying a very uncommon man--not so much intellectually--
but he is uncommon from his Determination, Reality and
concentrated power of love. Don't pity yourself--you would not
wish to have loved Peter less--though you might wish you had
never seen him--but you must know you have allowed too much love
in your life, and must bear the consequences. Deep down in your
heart you must feel that you ought to put a stop to your present
life, and to the temptation of making people love you. Depend upon
it with your rich and warm nature you need not be afraid of not
loving Asquith intensely. By marrying him you will prove yourself
to be a woman of courage and nobility, instead of a woman who is
talked about and who is in reality self-indulgent. You are lucky
after your rather dangerous life to have found such a haven and
should bless God for it.

In those days it was less common for people to collect in the
streets to see a wedding. The first marriage I ever saw which
collected a crowd was Lady Crewe's, but her father, Lord Rosebery,
was a Derby winner and Prime Minister and she was married in
Westminster Abbey. From Grosvenor Square to St. George's, Hanover
Square, is a short distance, but from our front door to the church
the pavements were blocked with excited and enthusiastic people.

An old nurse of my sister Charlotte's, Jerusha Taylor, told me
that a gentleman outside St. George's had said to her, "I will
give you L10 for that ticket of yours!" and when she refused he
said, "I will give you ANYTHING YOU LIKE! I must see Margot
Tennant married!" I asked her what sort of a man he was. She

"Oh! he was a real gentleman, ma'am! I know a gentleman when I see
him; he had a gardenia in his buttonhole, but he didn't get my

Our register was signed by four Prime Ministers: Mr. Gladstone,
Lord Rosebery, Arthur Balfour and my husband. We spent the first
part of our honeymoon at Mells Park, Frome, lent to us by Sir John
and Lady Horner, and the second at Clovelly Court with our friend
and hostess, Mrs. Hamlyn.



I do not think if you had ransacked the world you could have found
natures so opposite in temper, temperament and outlook as myself
and my stepchildren when I first knew them.

If there was a difference between the Tennants and Lytteltons of
laughter, there was a difference between the Tennants and Asquiths
of tears. Tennants believed in appealing to the hearts of men,
firing their imagination and penetrating and vivifying their
inmost lives. They had a little loose love to give the whole
world. The Asquiths--without mental flurry and with perfect self-
mastery--believed in the free application of intellect to every
human emotion; no event could have given heightened expression to
their feelings. Shy, self-engaged, critical and controversial,
nothing surprised them and nothing upset them. We were as zealous
and vital as they were detached and as cocky and passionate as
they were modest and emotionless.

They rarely looked at you and never got up when any one came into
the room. If you had appeared downstairs in a ball-dress or a
bathing-gown they would not have observed it and would certainly
never have commented upon it if they had. Whether they were
glowing with joy at the sight of you or thrilled at receiving a
friend, their welcome was equally composed. They were devoted to
one another and never quarrelled; they were seldom wild and never
naughty. Perfectly self-contained, truthful and deliberate, I
never saw them lose themselves in my life and I have hardly ever
seen the saint or hero that excited their disinterested emotion.

When I thought of the storms of revolt, the rage, the despair, the
wild enthusiasms and reckless adventures, the disputes that
finished not merely with fights, but with fists in our nursery and
schoolroom, I was stunned by the steadiness of the Asquith temper.

Let it not be inferred that I am criticising them as they now are,
or that their attitude towards myself was at any time lacking in
sympathy. Blindness of heart does not imply hardness; and
expression is a matter of temperament or impulse; hut it was their
attitude towards life that was different from my own. They over-
valued brains, which was a strange fault, as they were all
remarkably clever. Hardly any Prime Minister has had famous
children, but the Asquiths were all conspicuous in their different
ways: Raymond and Violet the most striking, Arthur the most
capable, Herbert a poet and Cyril the shyest and the rarest.

Cys Asquith, who was the youngest of the family, combined what was
best in all of them morally and intellectually and possessed what
was finer than brains.

He was two, when his mother died, and a clumsy ugly little boy
with a certain amount of graceless obstinacy, with which both
Tennants and Asquiths were equally endowed. To the casual observer
he would have appeared less like me than any of my step-family,
but as a matter of fact he and I had the most in common; we shared
a certain spiritual foundation and moral aspiration that solder
people together through life.

It is not because I took charge of him at an early age that I say
he is more my own than the others, but because, although he did
not always agree with me, he never misunderstood me. He said at
Murren one day, when he was seventeen and we had been talking
together on life and religion:

"It must be curious for you, Margot, seeing all of us laughing at
things that make you cry."

This showed remarkable insight for a schoolboy. When I look at his
wonderful face now and think of his appearance at the time of our
marriage, I am reminded of the Hans Andersen toad with the jewel
in its head, but the toad is no longer there.

I have a dear friend called Bogie Harris,[Footnote: Mr. H. Harris,
of Bedford Square.] who told me that, at a ball given by Con and
Hoppy Manners, he had seen a young man whose face had struck him
so much that he looked about for some one in the room to tell him
who it was. That young man was Cyril Asquith.

One night when he was a little boy, after I had heard him say his
prayers he asked me to read the General Confession out of his
Prayer Book to him. It was such an unusual request that I said:

"Very well, darling, I will, but first of all I must read you what
I love best in the Prayer Book."

To which he answered:

"Oh, do! I should like that."

I put a cushion behind my head and, lying down beside him, read:

"Lighten our darkness, we beseech Thee, O Lord; and by Thy great
mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night, for the
love of Thine only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen."

After this I read him the General Confession, opening, "We have
erred and strayed from Thy ways like lost sheep," and ending,
"that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life."
When I had finished I said to him:

"What do you take sober to mean here, darling?"

CYS (looking furtively at me with his little green eyes): "It does
not mean drunkenness." (A slight pause and then reflectively): "I
should say moderate living."

I told the children one day to collect some of their toys and that
I would take them to the hospital, where they could give them away
themselves. I purposely did not say broken toys; and a few days
afterwards I was invited to the nursery. On arriving upstairs I
saw that Cys's eyes were scarlet; and set out in pathetic array
round the room was a large family of monkeys christened by him
"the Thumblekins." They were what he loved best in the world. I
observed that they were the only unbroken toys that were brought
to me; and he was eyeing his treasures with anguish in his soul. I
was so touched that I could hardly speak; and, when I put my arms
round his neck, he burst into sobs:

"May I keep one monkey ... only one, Margot? ... PLEASE?
...PLEASE, Margot? ..."

This was the window in his soul that has never been closed to me.
For many years during a distinguished college career he was
delicate, but since his marriage to Miss Ann Pollock--a daylight
creature of charm, beauty and goodness--he has been happy and

My stepdaughter Violet--now Lady Bonham Carter--though intensely
feminine, would have made a remarkable man. I do not believe there
is any examination she could not have passed either at a public
school or a university. Born without shyness or trepidation, from
her youth upwards she had perfect self-possession and patience.
She loved dialectics and could put her case logically, plausibly
and eloquently; and, although quite as unemotional as her
brothers, she had more enterprise and indignation. In her youth
she was delicate, and what the French call tres personelle; and
this prevented her going through the mill of rivalry and criticism
which had been the daily bread of my girlhood.

She had the same penetrating sense of humour as her brother
Raymond and quite as much presence of mind in retort. Her gift of
expression was amazing and her memory unrivalled. My daughter
Elizabeth and she were the only girls except myself that I ever
met who were real politicians, not interested merely in the
personal side--whether Mr. B. or C. spoke well or was likely to
get promoted--but in the legislation and administration of
Parliament; they followed and knew what was going on at home and
abroad and enjoyed friendships with most of the young and famous
men of the day. Violet Bonham Carter has, I think, a great
political future in the country if not in the Commons. She is a
natural speaker, easy, eloquent, witty, short and of imperturbable

Life in the House is neither healthy, useful nor appropriate for a
woman; and the functions of a mother and a member of Parliament
are not compatible. This was one of the reasons why my husband and
I were against giving the franchise to women. Violet is a real
mother and feels the problem acutely, but she is a real Liberal
also and, with gifts as conspicuous as hers, she must inevitably
exercise a wide-spread political influence. Her speeches in her
father's election at Paisley, in February of this year, brought
her before a general as well as intellectual audience from which
she can never retire; and, whenever she appears on a platform, the
public shout from every part of the hall calling on her to speak.

Raymond Asquith was born on the 6th of November, 1878, and was
killed fighting against the Germans before his regiment had been
in action ten minutes, on the 15th of September, 1916.

He was intellectually one of the most distinguished young men of
his day and beautiful to look at, added to which he was light in
hand, brilliant in answer and interested in affairs. When he went
to Balliol he cultivated a kind of cynicism which was an endless
source of delight to the young people around him; in a good-
humoured way he made a butt of God and smiled at man. If he had
been really keen about any one thing--law or literature--he would
have made the world ring with his name, but he lacked temperament
and a certain sort of imagination and was without ambition of any

His education was started by a woman in a day-school at
Hampstead; from there he took a Winchester scholarship and he
became a scholar of Balliol. At Oxford he went from triumph to
triumph. He took a first in classical moderations in 1899; first-
class literae humaniores in 1901; first-class jurisprudence in
1902. He won the Craven, Ireland, Derby and Eldon scholarships. He
was President of the Union and became a Fellow of All Souls in
1902; and after he left Oxford he was called to the Bar in 1904.

In spite of this record, a more modest fellow about his own
achievements never lived.

Raymond was charming and good-tempered from his boyhood and I only
remember him once in his life getting angry with me. He had been
urged to go into politics by both his wife and his father and had
been invited by the Liberal Association of a northern town to
become their candidate. He was complaining about it one day to me,
saying how dull, how stupid, how boring the average constituents
of all electorates were; I told him I thought a closer contact
with common people would turn out not only more interesting and
delightful than he imagined, but that it would be the making of
him. He flared up at once and made me appear infinitely
ridiculous, but being on sure ground I listened with amusement and
indifference; the discussion ended amicably, neither of us having
deviated by a hair's breath from our original positions. He and I
seldom got on each other's nerves, though two more different
beings never lived. His arctic analysis of what he looked upon as
"cant" always stirred his listeners to a high pitch of enthusiasm.

One day when he was at home for his holidays and we were all
having tea together, to amuse the children I began asking riddles.
I told them that I had only guessed one in my life, but it had
taken me three days. They asked me what it was, and I said:

"What is it that God has never seen, that kings see seldom and
that we see every day?"

Raymond instantly answered:

"A joke."

I felt that the real answer, which was "an equal," was very tepid
after this.

In 1907 he married, from 10 Downing Street, Katherine Horner, a
beautiful creature of character and intellect, as lacking in fire
and incense as himself. Their devotion to each other and happiness
was a perpetual joy to me, as I felt that in some ways I had
contributed to it. Katherine was the daughter of Laura's greatest
friend, Frances Horner, and he met her through me.

Raymond found in both his mother-in-law and Sir John Horner
friends capable of appreciating his fine flavour. He wrote with
ease and brilliance both prose and poetry. I will quote two of his


    Attend, my Muse, and, if you can, approve
    While I proclaim the "speeding up" of Love;
    For Love and Commerce hold a common creed--
    The scale of business varies with the speed;
    For Queen of Beauty or for Sausage King
    The Customer is always on the wing--
    Then praise the nymph who regularly earns
    Small profits (if you please) but quick returns.
    Our modish Venus is a bustling minx,
    But who can spare the time to woo a Sphinx?
    When Mona Lisa posed with rustic guile
    The stale enigma of her simple smile,
    Her leisure lovers raised a pious cheer
    While the slow mischief crept from ear to ear.
    Poor listless Lombard, you would ne'er engage
    The brisker beaux of our mercurial age
    Whose lively mettle can as easy brook
    An epic poem as a lingering look--
    Our modern maiden smears the twig with lime
    For twice as many hearts in half the time.
    Long ere the circle of that staid grimace
    Has wheeled your weary dimples into place,
    Our little Chloe (mark the nimble fiend!)
    Has raised a laugh against her bosom friend,
    Melted a marquis, mollified a Jew,
    Kissed every member of the Eton crew,
    Ogled a Bishop, quizzed an aged peer,
    Has danced a Tango and has dropped a tear.
    Fresh from the schoolroom, pink and plump and pert,
    Bedizened, bouncing, artful and alert,
    No victim she of vapours and of moods
    Though the sky falls she's "ready with the goods"--
    Will suit each client, tickle every taste
    Polite or gothic, libertine or chaste,
    Supply a waspish tongue, a waspish waist,
    Astarte's breast or Atalanta's leg,
    Love ready-made or glamour off the peg--
    Do you prefer "a thing of dew and air"?
    Or is your type Poppaea or Polaire?
    The crystal casket of a maiden's dreams,
    Or the last fancy in cosmetic creams?
    The dark and tender or the fierce and bright,
    Youth's rosy blush or Passion's pearly bite?
    You hardly know perhaps; but Chloe knows,
    And pours you out the necessary dose,
    Meticulously measuring to scale,
    The cup of Circe or the Holy Grail--
    An actress she at home in every role,
    Can flout or flatter, bully or cajole,
    And on occasion by a stretch of art
    Can even speak the language of the heart,
    Can lisp and sigh and make confused replies,
    With baby lips and complicated eyes,
    Indifferently apt to weep or wink,
    Primly pursue, provocatively shrink,
    Brazen or bashful, as the case require,
    Coax the faint baron, curb the bold esquire,
    Deride restraint, but deprecate desire,
    Unbridled yet unloving, loose but limp,
    Voluptuary, virgin, prude and pimp.

BUMP SUPPER (by the President of his College)

    Dear Viscount, in whose ancient blood
      The blueness of the bird of March,
      The vermeil of the tufted larch,
    Are fused in one magenta flood.

    Dear Viscount--ah! to me how dear,
      Who even in thy frolic mood
      Discerned (or sometimes thought I could)
    The pure proud purpose of a peer!

    So on the last sad night of all
      Erect among the reeling rout
      You beat your tangled music out
    Lofty, aloof, viscontial.

    You struck a bootbath with a can,
      And with the can you struck the bath,
      There on the yellow gravel path,
    As gentleman to gentleman.

    We met, we stood, we faced, we talked
      While those of baser birth withdrew;
      I told you of an Earl I knew;
    You said you thought the wine was corked;

    And so we parted--on my lips
      A light farewell, but in my soul
      The image of a perfect whole,
    A Viscount to the finger tips--

    An image--Yes; but thou art gone;
      For nature red in tooth and claw
      Subsumes under an equal law
    Viscount and Iguanodon.

    Yet we who know the Larger Love,
      Which separates the sheep and goats
      And segregates Scolecobrots, [1]
    Believing where we cannot prove,

    Deem that in His mysterious Day
      God puts the Peers upon His right,
      And hides the poor in endless night,
    For thou, my Lord, art more than they.

[Footnote 1: A word from the Greek Testament meaning people who
are eaten by worms.]

It is a commonplace to say after a man is dead that he could have
done anything he liked in life: it is nearly always exaggerated;
but of Raymond Asquith the phrase would have been true.

His oldest friend was Harold Baker,[Footnote: The Rt. Hon. Harold
Baker.] a man whose academic career was as fine as his own and
whose changeless affection and intimacy we have long valued; but
Raymond had many friends as well as admirers. His death was the
first great sorrow in my stepchildren's lives and an anguish to
his father and me. The news of it came as a terrible shock to
every one. My husband's natural pride and interest in him had
always been intense and we were never tired of discussing him when
we were alone: his personal charm and wit, his little faults and
above all the success which so certainly awaited him. Henry's
grief darkened the waters in Downing Street at a time when, had
they been clear, certain events could never have taken place.

When Raymond was dying on the battle-field he gave the doctor his
flask to give to his father; it was placed by the side of his bed
and never moved till we left Whitehall.

I had not realised before how powerless a step-wife is when her
husband is mourning the death of his child; and not for the first
time I profoundly wished that Raymond had been my son.

Among the many letters we received, this one from Sir Edward Grey,
the present Lord Grey of Fallodon, gave my husband the most

33 ECCLESTON SQUARE, S.W. Sept. 18, 1916.


A generation has passed since Raymond's mother died and the years
that have gone make me feel for and with you even more than I
would then. Raymond has had a brilliant and unblemished life; he
chose with courage the heroic part in this war and he has died as
a hero.

If this life be all, it matters not whether its years be few or
many, but if it be not all, then Raymond's life is part of
something that is not made less by his death, but is made greater
and ennobled by the quality and merit of his life and death.

I would fain believe that those who die do not suffer in the
separation from those they love here; that time is not to them
what it is to us, and that to them the years of separation be they
few or many will be but as yesterday.

If so then only for us, who are left here, is the pain of
suffering and the weariness of waiting and enduring; the one
beloved is spared that. There is some comfort in thinking that it
is we, not the loved one, that have the harder part.

I grieve especially for Raymond's wife, whose suffering I fear
must be what is unbearable. I hope the knowledge of how the
feelings of your friends and the whole nation, and not of this
nation only, for you is quickened and goes out to you will help
you to continue the public work, which is now more than ever
necessary, and will give you strength. Your courage I know never

Yours affectionately,


Raymond Asquith was the bravest of the brave, nor did he ever
complain of anything that fell to his lot while he was soldiering.

It might have been written of him:

    He died
    As one that had been studied in his death
    To throw away the dearest thing he own'd.
    As 'twere a careless trifle.
    --MACBETH, Act I., sc. iv.

Our second son, Herbert, began his career as a lawyer. He had a
sweet and gentle nature and much originality. He was a poet and
wrote the following some years before the Great War of 1914,
through which he served from the first day to the last:


[Footnote: Reprinted from The Volunteer and other Poems, by kind
permission of Messrs. Sidgwick & Jackson.]

    Here lies a clerk who half his life had spent
    Toiling at ledgers in a city grey,
    Thinking that so his days would drift away
    With no lance broken in life's tournament;
    Yet ever 'twixt the book and his bright eyes
    The gleaming eagles of the legions came,
    And horsemen, charging under phantom skies,
    Went thundering past beneath the oriflamme.

    And now those waiting dreams are satisfied,
    From twilight to the halls of dawn he went;
    His lance is broken--but he lies content
    With that high hour, he wants no recompense,
    Who found his battle in the last resort,
    Nor needs he any hearse to bear him hence,
    Who goes to join the men at Agincourt.

He wrote this when he was in Flanders in the war:

THE FALLEN SPIRE (A Flemish Village)

[Footnote: Reprinted from The Volunteer and other Poems, by kind
permission of Messrs. Sidgwick & Jackson.]

    That spire is gone that slept for centuries,
      Mirrored among the lilies, calm and low;
    And now the water holds but empty skies
      Through which the rivers of the thunder flow.

    The church lies broken near the fallen spire,
      For here, among these old and human things,
    Death sweeps along the street with feet of fire,
      And goes upon his way with moaning wings.

    On pavements by the kneeling herdsmen worn
      The drifting fleeces of the shells are rolled;
    Above the Saints a village Christ forlorn,
      Wounded again, looks down upon His fold.

    And silence follows fast: no evening peace,
      But leaden stillness, when the thunder wanes,
    Haunting the slender branches of the trees,
      And settling low upon the listless plains.

"Beb," as we called him, married Lady Cynthia Charteris, a lovely
niece of Lady de Vesci and daughter of another beloved and
interesting friend of mine, the present Countess of Wemyss.

Our third son, Arthur Asquith, was one of the great soldiers of
the war. He married Betty, the daughter of my greatest friend,
Lady Manners, a woman who has never failed me in affection and

Arthur Asquith joined the Royal Naval Division on its formation in
September, 1914, and was attached at first to the "Anson," and
during the greater part of his service to the "Hood" Battalion. In
the early days of October, 1914, he took part in the operations at
Antwerp and, after further training at home in the camp at
Blandford, went in February, 1915, with his battalion to the
Dardanelles, where they formed part of the Second Naval Brigade.
He was in all the fighting on the Gallipoli peninsula and was
wounded, but returned to duty and was one of the last to embark on
the final evacuation of Helles, in January, 1916.

In the following May the Naval Division joined the army in France,
becoming the 63rd Division, and the "Hood" Battalion (now
commanded by Commander Freyberg, V. C.) formed part of the 189th

In the Battle of the Ancre (February, 1917) Arthur Asquith was
severely wounded and was awarded the D.S.O.

In the following April, Commander Freyberg having been promoted to
be a Brigadier, Arthur Asquith took over the command of the "Hood"
Battalion and played a leading part in the operations against
Gavrelle, taking the mayor's house (which was the key to the
position) by assault and capturing the German garrison. It was
largely due to him that Gavrelle was taken; and he was awarded a
bar to his D.S.O.

In October, 1917, in the Battle of Passchendaele the Naval
Division were heavily engaged. The following account of what
happened near Poelcappelle (October 26th) is taken from the
"History of the Royal Naval Division," by Sub-Lieutenants Fry and

On account of the serious losses in officers, the four battalions
were getting out of hand when Commander Asquith, like the born
fighter that he is, came forward and saved the situation. He
placed his battalion in the most advantageous positions to meet
any counter-attacks that might develop. That done, in spite of
heavy artillery and machine-gun fire, he passed from end to end
of the line we were holding and superintended the consolidation of
our gains. In addition, he established liaison with the Canadians
on our right, and thus closed a breach which might have caused us
infinite trouble and been the source of our undoing.

Arthur Asquith was recommended for the V.C. (he, in fact, received
a second bar to his D.S.O.); and these are the terms of the
official recommendation:

Near Poelcappelle, during the operations of October 26th-27th,
1917, Commander Asquith displayed the greatest bravery,
initiative and splendid leadership, and by his reconnaissance of
the front line made under heavy fire, contributed much valuable
information which made the successful continuance of the
operations possible. During the morning of the 26th, when no news
was forthcoming of the position of the attacking troops, Commander
Asquith went forward, through heavy fire, round the front
positions, and heedless of personal danger, found out our
dispositions, got into touch with the troops on the right, and
returned after some hours with most valuable information. On the
night of the same day, he went forward alone in bright moonlight
and explored the ground in the vicinity of Varlet Farm, where the
situation was not clear. He was observed by the enemy, but, in
spite of heavy rifle and machine-gun fire directed at him, and the
fact that the going was necessarily slow, owing to the awful state
of the ground, he approached Varlet Farm then reported to be in
the hands of the enemy. Entering a concrete building alone he
found it occupied by a small British garrison, who were exhausted
and almost without ammunition and the most of them wounded. After
investigating the ground thoroughly he returned and led up three
platoons of a company of this battalion and relieved the garrison.
He superintended the disposal of the troops, putting one platoon
in the building as garrison and placing the other two platoons on
each flank. A very important position was therefore kept entirely
in our hands, owing to magnificent bravery, leadership and utter
disregard of his own personal safety. This example of bravery and
cool courage displayed throughout the operations by Commander
Asquith encouraged the men to greater efforts, and kept up their
moral. His valuable reconnaissance, the manner in which he led his
men and his determination to hold the ground gained, contributed
very largely to the success of the operations.

On December 16th, 1917, he was appointed Brigadier to command the
189th Brigade; and a few days later, in reconnoitring the
position, he was again severely wounded. His leg had to be
amputated and he was disabled from further active service in the
war. I never saw Arthur Asquith lose his temper or think of
himself in my life.

. . . . . . .

I look around to see what child of which friend is left to become
the wife of my son Anthony; and I wonder whether she will be as
virtuous, loving and good-looking as my other daughters-in-law.

We were all wonderfully happy together, but, looking back, I think
I was far from clever with my stepchildren; they grew up good and
successful independently of me.

In consequence of our unpopularity in Peebles-shire, I had no
opportunity of meeting other young people in their homes; and I
knew no family except my own. The wealth of art and music, the
luxury of flowers and colour, the stretches of wild country both
in Scotland and high Leicestershire, which had made up my life
till I married, had not qualified me to understand children reared
in different circumstances. I would not perhaps have noticed many
trifles in my step-family, had I not been so much made of, so
overloved, caressed and independent before my marriage.

Every gardener prunes the roots of a tree before it is
transplanted, but no one had ever pruned me. If you have been
sunned through and through like an apricot on a wall from your
earliest days, you are over-sensitive to any withdrawal of heat.
This had been clearly foreseen by my friends and they were
genuinely anxious about the happiness and future of my
stepchildren. I do not know which of us had been considered the
boldest in our marriage, my husband or myself; and no doubt step-
relationships should not be taken in hand unadvisedly, lightly, or
wantonly, but reverently, discreetly, and soberly. In every one of
the letters congratulating me there had been a note of warning.

Mr. Gladstone wrote:

MAY 5TH, 1894.

You have a great and noble work to perform. It is a work far
beyond human strength. May the strength which is more than human
be abundantly granted you.

Ever yours, W. E. G.

I remember, on receiving this, saying to my beloved friend, Con

"Gladstone thinks my fitness to be Henry's wife should be prayed
for like the clergy: 'Almighty and Everlasting God, who alone
workest great marvels . ...'"

John Morley wrote:


Now that the whirl of congratulations must be ceasing, here are
mine, the latest but not the least warm of them all. You are going
to marry one of the finest men in all the world, with a great
store of sterling gifts both of head and heart, and with a life
before him of the highest interest, importance and power. Such a
man is a companion that any woman might envy you. I daresay you
know this without my telling you. On the other part, I will not
add myself to those impertinents who--as I understand you to
report--wish you "to improve." I very respectfully wish nothing of
the sort. Few qualities are better worth leaving as they are than
vivacity, wit, freshness of mind, gaiety and pluck. Pray keep them
all. Don't improve by an atom.

Circumstances may have a lesson or two to teach you, but 'tis only
the dull who don't learn, and I have no fear but that such a pair
have happy years in front of them.

You ask for my blessing and you have it. Be sure that I wish you
as unclouded a life as can be the lot of woman, and I hope you
will always let me count myself your friend. I possess some
aphorisms on the married state--but they will keep. I only let
them out as occasion comes. Always yours sincerely, JOHN MORLEY.

Looking back now on the first years of my marriage, I cannot
exaggerate the gratitude which I feel for the tolerance, patience
and loyalty that my stepchildren extended to a stranger; for,
although I introduced an enormous amount of fun, beauty and
movement into their lives, I could not replace what they had lost.

Henry's first wife, Helen Asquith, was an exceptionally pretty,
refined woman; never dull, never artificial, and of single-minded
goodness; she was a wonderful wife and a devoted mother, but was
without illusions and even less adventurous than her children. She
told me in one of our talks how much she regretted that her
husband had taken silk and was in the House of Commons, at which I
said in a glow of surprise:

"But surely, Mrs. Asquith, you are ambitious for your husband!
Why, he's a WONDERFUL man!"

This conversation took place in Grosvenor Square the second time
that we met, when she brought her little girl to see me. Violet
was aged four and a self-possessed, plump, clever little creature,
with lovely hair hanging in Victorian ringlets down her back.

The children were not like Helen Asquith in appearance, except
Raymond, who had her beautiful eyes and brow; but, just as they
had none of their father's emotion and some of his intellect, they
all inherited their mother's temperament, with the exception of
Violet, who was more susceptible to the new environment than her
brothers. The greatest compliment that was ever paid to my
appearance--and one that helped me most when I felt discouraged
in my early married life--was what Helen Asquith said to my
husband and he repeated to me: "There is something a little noble
about Margot Tennant's expression."

If my stepchildren were patient with me, I dare not say what their
father was: there are some reservations the boldest biographer has
a right to claim; and I shall only write of my husband's
character--his loyalty, lack of vanity, freedom from self, warmth
and width of sympathy--in connection with politics and not with
myself; but since I have touched on this subject I will give one
illustration of his nature.

When the full meaning of the disreputable General Election of
1918, with its promises and pretensions and all its silly and
false cries, was burnt into me at Paisley in this year of 1920 by
our Coalition opponent re-repeating them, I said to Henry:

"Oh, if I had only quietly dropped all my friends of German name
when the war broke out and never gone to say good-bye to those
poor Lichnowskys, these ridiculous lies propagated entirely for
political purposes would never have been told; and this criminal
pro-German stunt could not have been started."

To which he replied:

"God forbid! I would rather ten thousand times be out of public
life for ever."



My husband was Home Secretary when we married, and took a serious
interest in our prison system, which he found far from
satisfactory. He thought that it would be a good thing, before we
were known by sight, to pay a surprise visit to the convict--
prisons and that, if I could see the women convicts and he could
see the men privately, he would be able to examine the conditions
under which they served their sentences better than if we were to
go officially.

I was expecting my baby in about three months when we made this

Wormwood Scrubs was the promising, almost Dickens-like name of one
of our convict-prisons and, at that time, took in both men and

The governor scrutinised Henry's fine writing on our permits; he
received us dryly, but without suspicion; and we divided off,
having settled to meet at the front door after an hour and a
half's inspection.

The matron who accompanied me was a powerful, intelligent-looking
woman of hard countenance and short speech. I put a few stupid
questions to her about the prison: how many convicts they had, if
the food was good, etc.

She asked me if I would care to see Mrs. Maybrick, an American
criminal, who had been charged with murder, but sentenced for
manslaughter. This woman had poisoned her husband with mild
insistence by arsenic, but, as he was taking this for his health
at the time of his death, the evidence was conflicting as to where
he stopped and she began. She had the reputation of being a lady
and beautiful; and petitions for her reprieve were sent to us
signed by every kind of person from the United States. I told the
matron I would see her and was shown into her cell, where I found
her sitting on a stool against a bleak desk, at which she was
reading. I noted her fine eyes and common mouth and, apologising,

"I hope you will not mind a stranger coming to enquire how you are
getting on," adding, "Have you any complaints to make of the

The matron had left me and, the doors being thick, I felt pretty
sure she could not hear what we were saying.

abominable and we are only given two books--THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
and the Bible--and what do you say to our looking-glasses?"
FRAME HANGING ON A PEG). "Do you know why it is so small?"


MRS. MAYBRICK: "Because the women who want to kill themselves
can't get their heels in to break the glass; if they could they
would cut their throats. The men don't have looking-glasses at

MARGOT: "Do you think they would like to have them?"

BLUE COTTON BLOUSE): "I don't suppose they care! I'm sure no one
could wish to see themselves with cropped hair and in these
hideous clothes."

MARGOT: "I think that I could get you every kind of book, if you
like reading, and will tell me what you want."

MRS. MAYBRICK (with a sudden laugh and looking at me with a
contemptuous expression which made my heart ache): "Oh, no, you
couldn't! Never mind me! But you might tell them about the

I did not find Mrs. Maybrick sympathique and shortly after this
rejoined the matron. It was the first time I had seen a prison and
my heart and mind were moved as we went from cell to cell nodding
to the grey occupants.

"Have you any very bad cases?" I asked. "I mean any woman who is
difficult and unhappy?"

MATRON: "Yes, there is one woman here who has been sitting on the
floor for the last three days and, except a little water, I don't
think she has swallowed a mouthful of food since she came in. She
is a violent person and uses foul language. I do not think you had
better see her."

MARGOT: "Thank you, I am not at all afraid. Please take me to her

MATRON (still reluctant and eyeing my figure): "She may not speak
to you, but if she does it might give you a shock. Do you think
you are wise to go in your present condition?"

MARGOT: "Oh, that's all right, thanks! I am not easily shocked."

When we came to the cell, I took the precaution of telling the
matron she could leave me, as after this visit I should have to
join my husband and I could find my way to the front hall by
myself. She opened the door in silence and let me in.

Crouching on the stone floor, in an animal attitude, I saw a
woman. She did not look up when I went in nor turn when I shut the
door. Her eyebrows almost joined above a square-tipped nose; and
her eyes, shaded by long black lashes, were fixed upon the ground.
Her hair grew well, out of a beautiful forehead, and the red curve
of her mouth gave expression to a wax-like face. I had never seen
a more striking-looking creature.

After my usual apology and a gentle recitative of why I had come,
she turned what little I could see of her face away from me and
whatever I suggested after that was greeted with impenetrable

At last I said to her:

"It is so difficult for me to stand and talk while you are sitting
on the ground. Won't you get up?"

No answer. At this--being an active woman--I sat down beside her
on the stone floor and took her hand in both of mine. She did not
withdraw it, but lifted her lashes to look at me. I noted the
sullen, exhausted expression in her grey eyes; my heart beat at
the beauty of her face.

"Why don't you speak to me?" I said. "I might, for all you know,
be able to do a great deal for you."

This was greeted by a faint gleam and a prolonged shake of the

MARGOT: "You look very young. What is it you did, that brought you
into this prison,"

My question seemed to surprise her and after a moment's silence
she said:

"Don't you know why I am sentenced?"

MARGOT: "No; and you need not tell me if you don't want to. How
long are you here for?"

THE WOMAN (in a penetrating voice): "Life!"

MARGOT: "That's impossible; no one is punished for life unless
they commit murder; and even then the sentence is always

THE WOMAN: "Shortened in time for what? For your death and burial?
Perhaps you don't know how kind they are to us here! No one is
allowed to die in prison! But by the time your health is gone,
your hair white and your friends are dead, your family do not need
you and all that can be done for you is done by charity. You die
and your eyes are closed by your landlady."

MARGOT: "Tell me what you did."

THE WOMAN: "Only what all you fashionable women do every day ..."

MARGOT: "What?"

THE WOMAN: "I helped those who were in trouble to get rid of their

MARGOT: "Did you take money for it?"

THE WOMAN: "Sometimes I did it for nothing."

MARGOT: "What sort of women did you help?"

THE WOMAN: "Oh, quite poor women!"

MARGOT: "When you charged them, how much money did you ask for?"

THE WOMAN: "Four or five pounds and often less."

MARGOT: "Was your husband a respectable man and did he know
anything about it?"

THE WOMAN: "My husband was highly respected. He was a stone-mason,
and well to do, and knew nothing at all till I was arrested. ...
He thought I made money sewing."

MARGOT: "Poor man, how tragic!"

After this rather stupid ejaculation of mine, she relapsed into a
frozen silence and I got up off the ground and asked her if she
liked books. No answer. If the food was good? No answer. If her
bed was clean and comfortable? But all my questions were in vain.
At last she broke the silence by saying:

"You said just now that you might be able to help me. There is
only one thing in the world that I want, and you could not help to
get it . ... No one can help me ..."

MARGOT: "Tell me what you want. How can I or any one else help you
while you sit on the ground, neither speaking nor eating? Get up
and I will listen to you; otherwise I shall go away."

After this she got up stiffly and lifted her arms in a stretch
above her head, showing the outline of her fine bust. I said to

"I would like to help you."

THE WOMAN: "I want to see one person and only one. I think of
nothing else and wonder night and day how it could be managed."

MARGOT: "Tell me who it is, this one person, that you think of and
want so much to see."

THE WOMAN: "I want to see Mrs. Asquith."

MARGOT (dumb with surprise): "Why?"

THE WOMAN: "Because she is only just married and will never again
have as much influence over her husband as she has now; and I am
told she is kind ..."

MARGOT (moving towards her): "I am Mrs. Asquith."

At this the woman gave a sort of howl and, shivering, with her
teeth set, flung herself at my feet and clasped my ankles with an
iron clutch. I should have fallen, but, loosening her hold with
great rapidity, she stood up and, facing me, held me by my
shoulders. The door opened and the matron appeared, at which the
woman sprang at her with a tornado of oaths, using strange words
that I had never heard before. I tried to silence her, but in
vain, so I told the matron that she might go and find out if my
husband was ready for me. She did not move and seemed put out by
my request.

"I really think," she said, "that you are extremely foolish
risking anything with this woman.'

THE WOMAN (in a penetrating voice): "You clear out and go to hell
with you! This person is a Christian, and you are not! You are a--

I put my hand over her mouth and said I would leave her for ever
if she did not stop swearing. She sat down. I turned to the matron
and said:

"You need not fear for me, thank you; we prefer being left alone."

When the matron had shut the door, the woman sprang up and,
hanging it with her back, remained with arms akimbo and her legs
apart, looking at me in defiance. I thought to myself, as I
watched her resolute face and strong, young figure, that, if she
wanted to prevent me getting out of that room alive, she could
easily do so.

THE WOMAN: "You heard what I said, that you would never have as
much influence with your husband as you have now, so just listen.
He's all-powerful and, if he looks into my case, he will see that
I am innocent and ought to be let out. The last Home Secretary was
not married and never took any interest in us poor women."

Hearing the matron tapping at the door and feeling rather anxious
to get out, I said:

"I give you my word of honour that I will make my husband read up
all your case. The matron will give me your name and details, but
I must go now."

THE WOMAN (with a sinister look): "Oh, no, you don't! You stay
here till I give you the details: what does a woman like that care
for a woman like me?" (throwing her thumb over her shoulder
towards the matron behind the door). "What does she know about

MARGOT: "You must let me open the door and get a pencil and

THE WOMAN: "The old lady will do it for you while I give you the
details of my case. You have only got to give her your orders.
Does she know who you are?"

MARGOT: "No; and you must not tell her, please. If you will trust
me with your secret, I will trust you with mine; but you must let
me out first if I am to help you."

With a lofty wave of my hand, but without taking one step forward,
I made her move away from the door, which I opened with a feeling
of relief. The matron was in the passage and, while she was
fetching a pencil, the woman, standing in the doorway of her cell,
told me in lowered tones how cruelly unlucky she had been in life;
what worthless, careless girls had passed through her hands; and
how they had died from no fault of hers, but through their own
ignorance. She ended by saying:

"There is no gratitude in this world ..."

When the matron came back, she was much shocked at seeing me kiss
the convict.

I said, "Good-bye," and never saw her again.

My husband looked carefully into her case, but found that she was
a professional abortionist of the most hopeless type.



Sir John Williams [Footnote: Sir John Williams, of Aberystwyth,
Wales.] was my doctor and would have been a remarkable man in any
country, but in Wales he was unique. He was a man of heart without
hysteria and both loyal and truthful.

On the 18th of May, 1895, my sisters Charlotte and Lucy were
sitting with me in my bedroom. I will quote from my diary the
account of my first confinement and how I got to know him:

"I began to feel ill. My Gamp, an angular-faced, admirable old
woman called Jerusha Taylor--'out of the Book of Kings'--was
bustling about preparing for the doctor. Henry was holding my
hands and I was sobbing in an arm-chair, feeling the panic of pain
and fear which no one can realise who has not had a baby.

"When Williams arrived, I felt as if salvation must be near; my
whole soul and every beat of my heart went out in dumb appeal to
him, and his tenderness on that occasion bred in me a love and
gratitude which never faded, but was intensified by all I saw of
him afterwards. He seemed to think a narcotic would calm my
nerves, but the sleeping-draught might have been water for all
the effect it had upon me, so he gave me chloroform. The room grew
dark; grey poppies appeared to be nodding at me--and I gasped:

"'Oh, doctor, DEAR doctor, stay with me to-night, just THIS one
night, and I will stay with you whenever you like!'

"But Williams was too anxious, my nurse told me, to hear a word I

"At four o'clock in the morning, Henry went to fetch the
anaesthetist and in his absence Williams took me out of
chloroform. Then I seemed to have a glimpse of a different world:
if PAIN is evil, then it was HELL; if not, I expect I got nearer
Heaven than I have ever been before . ...

"I saw Dr. Bailey at the foot of the bed, with a bag in his hand,
and Charty's outline against the lamp; then my head was placed on
the pillow and a black thing came between me and the light and
closed over my mouth, a slight beating of carpets sounded in my
brain and I knew no more . ...

"When I came to consciousness about twelve the next morning, I saw
Charty looking at me and I said to her in a strange voice:

"'I can't have any more pain, it's no use.'

"CHARTY: 'No, no, darling, you won't have any more.' (SILENCE.)

"MARGOT: 'But you don't mean it's all over?'

"CHARTY (soothingly): 'Go to sleep, dearest.'

"I was so dazed by chloroform that I could hardly speak. Later on
the nurse told me that the doctor had had to sacrifice my baby and
that I ought to be grateful for being spared, as I had had a very
dangerous confinement.

"When Sir John Williams came to see me, he looked white and tired
and, finding my temperature was normal, he said fervently:

"'Thank you, Mrs. Asquith.'

"I was too weak and uncomfortable to realise all that had
happened; and what I suffered from the smallest noise I can hardly
describe. I would watch nurse slowly approaching and burst into a
perspiration when her cotton dress crinkled against the chintz of
my bed. I shivered with fear when the blinds were drawn up or the
shutters unfastened; and any one moving up or down stairs, placing
a tumbler on the marble wash-hand-stand or reading a newspaper
would bring tears into my eyes."

In connection with what I have quoted out of my diary here it is
not inappropriate to add that I lost my babies in three out of my
five confinements. These poignant and secret griefs have no place
on the high-road of life; but, just as Henry and I will stand
sometimes side by side near those little graves unseen by
strangers, so he and I in unobserved moments will touch with one
heart an unforgotten sorrow.

Out of the many letters which I received, this from our intimate
and affectionate friend, Lord Haldane, was the one I liked best:


I cannot easily tell you how much touched I was in the few minutes
I spent talking to you this afternoon, by what I saw and what you
told me. I left with the sense of witnessing triumph in failure
and life come through death. The strength that is given at such
times arises not from ignoring loss, or persuading oneself that
the thing is not that IS; but from the resolute setting of the
face to the East and the taking of one step onwards. It is the
quality we touch--it may be but for a moment--not the quantity we
have, that counts. "All I could never be, all that was lost in me
is yet there--in His hand who planned the perfect whole." That was
what Browning saw vividly when he wrote his Rabbi Ben Ezra. You
have lost a great joy. But in the deepening and strengthening the
love you two have for each other you have gained what is rarer and
better; it is well worth the pain and grief--the grief you have
borne in common--and you will rise stronger and freer.

We all of us are parting from youth, and the horizon is narrowing,
but I do not feel any loss that is not compensated by gain, and I
do not think that you do either. Anything that detaches one, that
makes one turn from the past and look simply at what one has to
do, brings with it new strength and new intensity of interest. I
have no fear for you when I see what is absolutely and
unmistakably good and noble obliterating every other thought as I
saw it this afternoon. I went away with strengthened faith in what
human nature was capable of.

May all that is highest and best lie before you both.

Your affec. friend,


I was gradually recovering my health when on May the 21st, 1895,
after an agonising night, Sir John Williams and Henry came into my
bedroom between five and six in the morning and I was told that I
should have to lie on my back till August, as I was suffering from
phlebitis; but I was too unhappy and disappointed to mind. It was
then that my doctor, Sir John Williams, became my friend as well
as my nurse, and his nobility of character made him a powerful
influence in my life.

To return to my diary:

"Queen Victoria took a great interest in my confinement, and wrote
Henry a charming letter. She sent messengers constantly to ask
after me and I answered her myself once, in pencil, when Henry was
at the Home Office.

"I was convalescing one day, lying as usual on my bed, my mind a
blank, when Sir William Harcourt's card was sent up to me and my
door was darkened by his huge form.

I had seen most of my political and other friends while I was
convalescing: Mr. Gladstone, Lord Haldane, Mr. Birrell, Lord
Spencer, Lord Rosebery, the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Morley,
Arthur Balfour, Sir Alfred Lyall and Admiral Maxse; and I was
delighted to see Sir William Harcourt. When he came into my room,
he observed my hunting-crops hanging on the wall from a rack, and

"I am glad to see those whips! Asquith will be able to beat you if
you play fast and loose with him. That little tight mouth of his
convinces me he has the capacity to do it.

"After my nurse had left the room, he expressed surprise that I
should have an ugly woman near me, however good she might be, and
told me that his son, Bobby, had been in love with his nurse and
wrote to her for several years. He added, in his best Hanoverian

"'I encourage my boys all I can in this line; it promises well for
their future.'"

"After some talk, Mr. John Morley's card was brought up and,
seeing Sir William look rather subdued, I told the servant to ask
him to wait in my boudoir for a few minutes and assured my guest
that I was in no hurry for him to go; but Harcourt began to fidget
about and after a little he insisted on John Morley coming up. We
had a good talk a trots, starting by abusing men who minded other
people's opinion or what the newspapers said of them. Knowing, as
I did, that both of them were highly sensitive to the Press, I
encouraged the conversation.

"JOHN MORLEY: 'I can only say I agree with what Joe once said to
me, "I would rather the newspapers were for than against me."'

"SIR WILLIAM: 'My dear chap, you would surely not rather have the
DAILY CHRONICLE on your side. Why, bless my soul, our party has
had more harm done it through the DAILY CHRONICLE than anything

"MARGOT: Do you think so? I think its screams, though pitched a
little high, are effective!'

"JOHN MORLEY: 'Oh, you like Massingham, of course, because your
husband is one of his heroes.'

"SIR WILLIAM: 'Well, all I can say is he always abuses me and I am
glad of it.'

"JOHN MORLEY: 'He abuses me, too, though not, perhaps, quite so
often as you!'

"MARGOT: 'I would like him to praise me. I think his descriptions
of the House of Commons debates are not only true and brilliant
but fine literature; there is both style and edge in his writing
and I rather like that bitter-almond flavour! How strangely the
paper changed over to Lord Rosebery, didn't it?'

"Feeling this was ticklish ground, as Harcourt thought that he and
not Rosebery should have been Prime Minister, I turned the talk on
to Goschen.

"SIR WILLIAM: 'It is sad to see the way Goschen has lost his hold
in the country; he has not been at all well treated by his

"This seemed to me to be also rather risky, so I said boldly that
I thought Goschen had done wonders in the House and country,
considering he had a poor voice and was naturally cautious. I told
them I loved him personally and that Jowett at whose house I first
met him shared my feeling in valuing his friendship. After this he
took his departure, promising to bring me roses from Malwood.

"John Morley--the most fastidious and fascinating of men--stayed
on with me and suggested quite seriously that, when we went out of
office (which might happen any day), he and I should write a novel
together. He said that, if I would write the plot and do the
female characters, he would manage the men and politics.

I asked if he wanted the old Wilkie Collins idea of a plot with a
hundred threads drawn into one woof, or did he prefer modern
nothingness, a shred of a story attached to unending analysis and
the infinitely little commented upon with elaborate and
pretentious humour. He scorned the latter.

I asked him if he did not want to go permanently away from
politics to literature and discussed all his wonderful books and
writings. I chaffed him about the way he had spoken of me before
our marriage, in spite of the charming letter he had written, how
it had been repeated to me that he had said my light-hearted
indiscretions would ruin Henry's career; and I asked him what I
had done since to merit his renewed confidence.

"He did not deny having criticised me, for although 'Honest John'
--the name by which he went among the Radicals--was singularly ill-
chosen, I never heard of Morley telling a lie. He was quite
impenitent and I admired his courage.

"After an engrossing conversation, every moment of which I loved,
he said good-bye to me and I leant back against the pillow and
gazed at the pattern on the wall.

"Henry came into my room shortly after this and told me the
Government had been beaten by seven in a vote of censure passed on
Campbell-Bannerman in Supply, in connection with small arms
ammunition. I looked at him wonderingly and said:

"'Are you sad, darling, that we are out?'

"To which he replied:

"'Only for one reason. I wish I had completed my prison reforms. I
have, however, appointed the best committee ever seen, who will go
on with my work. Ruggles-Brise, the head of it, is a splendid
little fellow!'

"At that moment he received a note to say he was wanted in the
House of Commons immediately, as Lord Rosebery had been sent for
by the Queen. This excited us much and, before he could finish
telling me what had happened, he went straight down to Westminster
. ... John Morley had missed this fateful division, as he was
sitting with me, and Harcourt had only just arrived at the House
in time to vote.

"Henry returned at 1 a.m. and came to say good night to me: he
generally said his prayers by my bedside. He told me that St. John
Brodrick's motion to reduce C. B.'s salary by L100 had turned the
Government out; that Rosebery had resigned and gone straight down
to Windsor; that Campbell-Bannerman was indignant and hurt; that
few of our men were in the House; and that Akers Douglas, the Tory
Whip, could not believe his eyes when he handed the figures to Tom
Ellis, our chief Whip, who returned them to him in silence.

"The next morning St. John Brodrick came to see me, full of
excitement and sympathy. He was anxious to know if we minded his
being instrumental in our downfall; but I am so fond of him that,
of course, I told him that I did not mind, as a week sooner or
later makes no difference and St. John's division was only one out
of many indications in the House and the country that our time was
up. Henry came back from the Cabinet in the middle of our talk and
shook his fist in fun at 'our enemy.' He was tired, but good-
humoured as ever.

"At 3:30 Princess Helene d'Orleans came to see me and told me of
her engagement to the Due d'Aosta. She looked tall, black and
distinguished. She spoke of Prince Eddy to me with great
frankness. I told her I had sometimes wondered at her devotion to
one less clever than herself. At this her eyes filled with tears
and she explained to me how much she had been in love and the
sweetness and nobility of his character. I had reason to know the
truth of what she said when one day Queen Alexandra, after talking
to me in moving terms of her dead son, wrote in my Prayer Book:

"Man looketh upon the countenance, but God upon the heart.

"Helene adores the Princess of Wales [Footnote: Queen Alexandra.]
but not the Prince! [Footnote: King Edward VII.] and says the
latter's rudeness to her brother, the Duc d'Orleans, is terrible.
I said nothing, as I am devoted to the Prince and think her
brother deserves any ill-treatment he gets. I asked her if she was
afraid of the future: a new country and the prospect of babies,
etc. She answered that d'Aosta was so genuinely devoted that it
would make everything easy for her.

"'What would you do if he were unfaithful to you?' I asked.

"PRINCESS HELENE: 'Oh! I told Emanuel. ... I said, "You see? I
leave you ... If you are not true to me, I instantly leave you,"
and I should do so at once.'

"She begged me never to forget her, but always to pray for her.

"'I love you,' she said, 'as every one else does'; and with a warm
embrace she left the room.

"She came of a handsome family: Blowitz's famous description,'de
loin on dirait un Prussien, de pres un imbecile,' was made of a
near relation of the Duchesse d'Aosta."

With the fall of the Government my diary of that year ceases to
have the smallest interest.



I will finish with a character-sketch of myself copied out of my
diary, written nine weeks before the birth of my fifth and last
baby in 1906, and like everything else that I have quoted never
intended for the public eye:

"I am not pretty, and I do not know anything about my expression,
although I observe it is this that is particularly dwelt upon if
one is sufficiently plain; but I hope, when you feel as kindly
towards your fellow-creatures as I do, that some of that warmth
may modify an otherwise bright and rather knifey CONTOUR.

"My figure has remained as it was: slight, well-balanced and
active. Being socially courageous and not at all shy, I think I
can come into a room as well as many people of more appearance and
prestige. I do not propose to treat myself like Mr. Bernard Shaw
in this account. I shall neither excuse myself from praise, nor
shield myself from blame, but put down the figures as accurately
as I can and leave others to add them up.

"I think I have imagination, born not of fancy, but of feeling; a
conception of the beautiful, not merely in poetry, music, art and
nature, but in human beings. I have insight into human nature,
derived not only from a courageous experience, but also from
imagination; and I have a clear though distant vision, down dark,
long and often divergent avenues, of the ordered meaning of God. I
take this opportunity of saying my religion is a vibrating reality
never away from me; and this is all I shall write upon the

"It is difficult to describe what one means by imagination, but I
think it is more than inventiveness, or fancy. I remember
discussing the question with John Addington Symonds and, to give
him a hasty illustration of what I meant, I said I thought naming
a Highland regiment 'The Black Watch' showed a HIGH degree of
imagination. He was pleased with this; and as a personal
testimonial I may add that both he and Jowett told me that no one
could be as good a judge of character as I was who was without
imagination. In an early love-letter to me, Henry wrote:

"Imaginative insight you have more than any one I have ever met!

"I think I am deficient in one form of imagination; and Henry will
agree with this. I have a great longing to help those I love: this
leads me to intrepid personal criticism; and I do not always know
what hurts my friends' feelings. I do not think I should mind
anything that I have said to others being said to me, but one
never can tell; I have a good, sound digestion and personally
prefer knowing the truth; I have taken adverse criticism pretty
well all my life and had a lot of it; but by some gap I have not
succeeded in making my friends take it well. I am not vain or
touchy; it takes a lot to offend me; but when I am hurt the scar
remains. I feel differently about people who have hurt me; my
confidence has been shaken; I hope I am not ungenerous, but I fear
I am not really forgiving. Worldly people say that explanations
are a mistake; but having it out is the only chance any one can
ever have of retaining my love; and those who have neither the
courage, candour nor humbleness to say they are wrong are not
worth loving. I am not afraid of suffering too much in life, but
much more afraid of feeling too little; and quarrels make me
profoundly unhappy. One of my complaints against the shortness of
life is that there is not time enough to feel pity and love for
enough people. I am infinitely compassionate and moved to my
foundations by the misfortunes of other people.

"As I said in my 1888 character-sketch, truthfulness with me is
hardly a virtue, but I cannot discriminate between truths that
need and those that need not be told. Want of courage is what
makes so many people lie. It would be difficult for me to say
exactly what I am afraid of. Physically and socially not much;
morally, I am afraid of a good many things: reprimanding servants,
bargaining in shops; or to turn to more serious matters, the loss
of my health, the children's or Henry's. Against these last
possibilities I pray in every recess of my thoughts.

"With becoming modesty I have said that I am imaginative, loving
and brave! What then are my faults?

"I am fundamentally nervous, impatient, irritable and restless.
These may sound slight shortcomings, but they go to the
foundation of my nature, crippling my activity, lessening my
influence and preventing my achieving anything remarkable. I wear
myself out in a hundred unnecessary ways, regretting the trifles I
have not done, arranging and re-arranging what I have got to do
and what every one else is going to do, till I can hardly eat or
sleep. To be in one position for long at a time, or sit through
bad plays, to listen to moderate music or moderate conversation is
a positive punishment to me. I am energetic and industrious, but I
am a little too quick; I am DRIVEN along by my temperament till I
tire myself and every one else.

"I did not marry till I was thirty. This luckily gave me time to
read; and I collected nearly a thousand books of my own before I
married. If I had had real application--as all the Asquiths have--
I should by now be a well-educated woman; but this I never had. I
am not at all dull, and never stale, but I don't seem to be able
to grind at uncongenial things. I have a good memory for books and
conversations, but bad for poetry and dates; wonderful for faces
and pitiful for names.

"Physically I have done pretty well for myself. I ride better than
most people and have spent or wasted more time on it than any
woman of intellect ought to. I have broken both collar-bones, all
my ribs and my knee-cap; dislocated my jaw, fractured my skull,
gashed my nose and had five concussions of the brain; but--though
my horses are to be sold next week [Footnote: My horses were sold
at Tattersalls, June 11th, 1906.]--I have not lost my nerve. I
dance, drive and skate well; I don't skate very well, but I dance
really well. I have a talent for drawing and am intensely musical,
playing the piano with a touch of the real thing, but have
neglected both these accomplishments. I may say here in self-
defence that marriage and five babies, five step-children and a
husband in high politics have all contributed to this neglect, but
the root of the matter lies deeper: I am restless.

"After riding, what I have enjoyed doing most in my life is
writing. I have written a great deal, but do not fancy publishing
my exercises. I have always kept a diary and commonplace books and
for many years I wrote criticisms of everything I read. It is
rather difficult for me to say what I think of my own writing.
Arthur Balfour once said that I was the best letter-writer he
knew; Henry tells me I write well; and Symonds said I had
l'oreille juste; but writing of the kind that I like reading I
cannot do: it is a long apprenticeship. Possibly, if I had had
this apprenticeship forced upon me by circumstances, I should have
done it better than anything else. I am a careful critic of all I
read and I do not take my opinions of books from other people; I
have not got 'a lending-library mind' as Henry well described
that of a friend of ours. I do not take my opinions upon anything
from other people; from this point of view--not a very high one--I
might be called original.

"When I read Arthur Balfour's books and essays, I realised before
I had heard them discussed what a beautiful style he wrote.
Raymond, whose intellectual taste is as fine as his father's,
wrote in a paper for his All Souls Fellowship that Arthur had the
finest style of any living writer; and Raymond and Henry often
justify my literary verdicts.

"From my earliest age I have been a collector: not of anything
particularly valuable, but of letters, old photographs of the
family, famous people and odds and ends. I do not lose things. Our
cigarette ash-trays are plates from my dolls' dinner-service; I
have got china, books, whips, knives, match-boxes and clocks given
me since I was a small child. I have kept our early copy-books,
with all the family signatures in them, and many trifling
landmarks of nursery life. I am painfully punctual, tidy and
methodical, detesting indecision, change of plans and the egotism
that they involve. I am a little stern and severe except with
children: for these I have endless elasticity and patience. Many
of my faults are physical. If I could have chosen my own life--
more in the hills and less in the traffic--I should have slept
better and might have been less overwrought and disturbable. But
after all I may improve, for I am on a man-of-war, as a friend
once said to me, which is better than being on a pirate-ship and
is a profession in itself.

"Well, I have finished; I have tried to relate of my manners,
morals, talents, defects, temptations, and appearance as
faithfully as I can; and I think there is nothing more to be said.
If I had to confess and expose one opinon of myself which might
differentiate me a little from other people, I should say it was
my power of love coupled with my power of criticism, but what I
lack most is what Henry possesses above all men: equanimity,
moderation, self-control and the authority that comes from a
perfect sense of proportion. I can only pray that I am not too old
or too stationary to acquire these.


"P.S. This is my second attempt to write about myself and I am not
at all sure that my old character-sketch of 1888 is not the better
of the two--it is more external--but, after all, what can one say
of one's inner self that corresponds with what one really is or
what one's friends think one is? Just now I am within a few weeks
of my baby's birth and am tempted to take a gloomy view. I am
inclined to sum up my life in this way:

"'An unfettered childhood and triumphant youth; a lot of love-
making and a little abuse; a little fame and more abuse; a real
man and great happiness; the love of children and seventh heaven;
an early death and a crowded memorial service.'

"But perhaps I shall not die, but live to write another volume of
this diary and a better description of an improved self."


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