« AnteriorContinua »
preferred silence to either. His indifference was, of course, a weakness as well as a strength.
But his remarkable influence in the country was largely due to it. It was felt by every hearer of his speeches; and no doubt it conveyed to them the impression of a man who was in politics against his will, for whom dismissal would be no punishment, and neither office nor popularity any temptation. That is what made it possible for Mr Balfour to say that among all the statesmen of his time the Duke was the most persuasive speaker-that, and his manifest desire not to conceal, misrepresent or minimise any point in the case of his opponents.
Such was the temperament of the man, and it is obviously not of the sort that makes personal biography easy. Mr Holland gives us a certain number of stories that help us to realise what the Duke was like when he was, as it were, "off duty’; but of his intimate private life we are told nothing. Probably there is less to tell than in most cases. The unexpansive statesman was also an unexpansive human being; and, though in private as in public the most loyal and trusted of men, he had, it seems, no intimate friends except the lady who ultimately became his wife. No private letters are included in the book; there is not a word written to or by his wife, and hardly any to members of the family with whom he lived in such close unity. Children, who often force the closed door of a shy man's affections, were not a part of his experience of life. The world in which he lived was a world of acquaintances rather than of intimate friends. Probably, therefore, no material exists for a picture of the inner chambers of the Duke's personality If it does, Mr Holland has not cared, or has not been allowed, to use it.
Of those little external touches that help one to visualise a man and are sometimes keys to more important things, there are, indeed, a few; and their scarcity enhances their value. We have, for instance, a complaint of the Duke's untidy clothes from that most singular high priest of the cult of Adonis, Mr W. H. Smith, who reports that Lord Hartington came to see him at Aix dressed as a seedy shady sailor.' We learn on the authority of Mr Wilfrid Ward that he liked substantial food, could exclaim on the arrival of roast beef to rein
force a too elegant and ethereal dinner, ‘Hurrah! something to eat at last,' and twenty years later could still remember the dinner and the principal fact about it, which-in spite of the presence of Mr Gladstone, Cardinal Vaughan and other great personages—was simply that 'we had nothing to eat!' Again, we hear that he was so careless about engagements as to cause a certain
a hostess to say that, when she had invited Lord Hartington, she always asked one man to spare, on the principle of the twelfth man in a cricket team; that he forgot Queen Victoria's messages to Lord Salisbury, and King Edward's promises to dine with him ; that he so long omitted to get a new hat that five-and-twenty ladies of his acquaintance are said to have conspired each to send him one on his birthday; and finally, that he liked children, and, while leader of the Opposition, was once found stretched on the floor playing knuckle-bones with Lady Granville's daughters. This last picture is one of the few that link him with the man who carried the Union which it was his own great achievement to save, the imperious and self-confident Pitt. Two other of the great names of the House of Commons, Walpole and Althorp, are recalled by his passion for hunting, but it did not last so long with him; nor, fortunately, did his love of cards ever go deep enough to recall the most famous of his predecessors in the leadership of the Opposition, Charles James Fox. Finally, he took the true 'grand seigneur' interest in agriculture. Once when some foolish peer was talking in the House of Lords about the proudest moment in his life, he was heard to murmur, • The proudest moment in my life was when my pig won the first prize at Skipton Fair.'
A few more serious traits are given by Mr Charles Hamilton and Mrs Arthur Strong, both of whom worked in his service, and speak with equal admiration of his kindness as a chief, of his generous views of the claims made upon him, and of his strong sense of duty, and particularly of his own duty on the principle of noblesse oblige. Mr Hamilton adds his testimony to what is less known, his reluctant but continuous hard work. Some people again will be surprised at Mrs Strong's report that he was a large buyer of books, making constant additions to the Chatsworth Library ; and still more at her account
of the last time she saw him at Chatsworth, when she showed him the first edition of Paradise Lost' and he proceeded, to her astonishment, to read the opening of the poem aloud. “He read on for quite a time, stopping once to say, “How fine this is ! I had forgotten how fine it was !” when the Duchess came in and, poking her parasol into his ribs, whimsically remarked, " If he begins to read poetry he will never come out for his walk.'
Perhaps this last trait is the only one of these small personal details which might also have been true of his colleague and friend whose biography appeared earlier in the year, George Joachim Goschen. Goschen was neither a Whig, nor an aristocrat, nor a sportsman. He was a man of the middle class, a man of business who happened also to be a man of books. The Duke of Devonshire presided at one time over the Education Department and was Chancellor of the University of Cambridge; but, though he discharged the duties of both these posts with his usual thoroughness, no one will wonder at his asking with a groan how he had ever come to get the reputation of an educational expert.' But Goschen, who became in his turn Chancellor of Oxford, was a man who always took education seriously, for himself and for other people, and was the exact opposite of the Duke in finding in study and intellectual occupations the pleasure as well as the business of his life.
The contrast between them was marked from the first. The two men who were destined to act so closely together entered official life at the same moment; but it was in order to counterbalance so new a man and so advanced a politician as Goschen that Lord Russell asked the representative of the Whig house of Cavendish to become Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. From that time forward Lord Hartington and Goschen were closely associated till the end of their careers; and it is remarkable that the 'advanced politician' of 1866 was the first to abandon Mr Gladstone. Men of ideas always move faster and further than men of habit and tradition. A man who became a Liberal because he sympathised with Liberal ideas could cease to be one directly Liberal ideas became something with which he could not sympathise. A man who was a Liberal because the Liberals were the successors of the Whigs, and because he had in
him two hundred years of Wbig blood and an inherited aptitude for the compromises necessary to common political action, was sure not to move so quickly. No one is so conscious of his ancestors as a Whig aristocrat; no one thinks so little about them as a man of ideas.
Goschen, then, took publicly his own line much sooner than Lord Hartington. He had accepted the Reform Bill of 1867, and remained till 1874 a loyal member of Mr Gladstone's Cabinet. So well-informed a critic as Mr Childers even thought him likely to succeed Mr Gladstone in 1874. But, from the first, Goschen was thinking for himself; and men who both do that and prefer their convictions to their ambition always quarrel with the party machine sooner or later. The political struggle in the Europe of the future will possibly not be so much one between rich and poor as one between the democracy and science. Already, in every country, trained intelligence looks with profound distrust on the ignorant emotionalism of the all-powerful mob. Everywhere it
. complains that in difficult questions, as those of finance, of education, of poor relief, of insurance, of foreign affairs, the solution adopted is guided less than it should be by the opinion of those who understand it, and more by the opinion of those who merely want to find some showy political goods for the party shop-window.
Goschen was one of the quickest to feel this danger; and it led to his first separation from his party. His views were not those of the mere property-defence Conservative. His fears were wider and more disinterested. So early as 1867 he contributed to a magazine a searching analysis of the probable tendencies of the new voters, prophesying that they would be more sentimental than the old, very susceptible about their own social class, more ready to go to war, more inclined to Government interference, less faithful to political economy. Some at least of these prophecies have been fulfilled ; and, though Goschen was agreeably surprised at the slow coming of the fulfilment, he did not support the extension of the franchise to the agricultural labourers and was not included in the Cabinet of 1880. During the five following years he became increasingly dissatisfied-as was Lord Hartington within the Cabinetwith the policy of Mr Gladstone, and still more with the
language and personality of Mr Chamberlain. Naturally enough, he was anxious to get the Whig leader to come out into the open and organise the moderate Liberals while there was still time. Equally naturally, a sense of the practical difficulties in that course combined with Whig tradition and sturdy party loyalty to make Lord Hartington hesitate. What would have happened if Mr Gladstone had not declared for Irish Home Rule no one can say. That finally opened Lord Hartington's eyes. The mist of Gladstonian explanations, which had so long kept him from seeing where he was, at last lifted. He saw that he and Mr Gladstone did not mean the same thing; and he formed the Liberal Unionist party.
Of that party Goschen was, from the first, one of the leading spirits. All secessions are richer in brains and character than in numbers; for only men of more than the ordinary intelligence and sense of duty ever face the discomfort of thinking for themselves and acting on their thoughts. The Liberal Unionist party was rich above most other secessions in such men. And the greatest compliment ever received by Goschen was that paid him by Mr Gladstone when, in a letter to Lord Granville, written in July 1886, he said that it was Goschen who supplied, in the main, soul, brains and movement' to the Liberal Unionist party. The man who held such a position in such a party assuredly deserves not to be forgotten; and it is well that his biography was entrusted to one so sure to understand him as Mr Arthur Elliot, who acted with him in political life for many years, and has himself had an opportunity of showing that he shared Goschen's contempt for office and party ties when they bar the way pointed out by convictions seriously held.
Goschen never held so great a position, either in politics or in the world, as the Duke of Devonshire; and his life cannot have quite the same interest. Like most men whose characters have been mainly formed by study and reflection, there was in him, perhaps, a lack of that racy individuality which distinguishes men who, like the Duke, remain what nature made them at their birth. The mind and character of Goschen counted for a great deal; his personality for very little. That was the impression the living man made; and the biography confirms it or leaves it where it was. Mr Elliot has not