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From The Edinburgh Review.
memory, and at the velocity with which
- et nos mutamur in illis. The
ENGLISH literature is not rich in political memoirs. We can hardly recall an instance, since the times of Lord Clarendon and Bishop Burnet, in which an English statesman, having filled offices of the first rank, has left behind him an autobiographical record of the events in which he played a part. It might be added, by way of contrast, that there is scarcely a French statesman or soldier of eminence who has not left some such record for the benefit of posterity; and the history of France for hundreds of years, from St. Louis and Philippe le Bel to the present time, may But Lord Malmesbury's recollections be read in the incomparable series of me- have a higher character and purport than moirs which are one of the most valua- the record of common things. He has ble possessions of the French language. been through life a consistent member of Those who are curious in national charac- the Tory party. He became, upon the teristics might draw some inference from termination of Sir Robert Peel's administhe fact; but we content ourselves with tration, and the rupture of the Conservaacknowledging that the French memoir- tive body, one of the leaders of the Prowriters are far more numerous and bril-tectionist section of it, the trusted and liant than our own. We are, therefore, valued colleague of its chief. He held the more grateful to a veteran statesman, the office of foreign secretary in the Cabilike Lord Malmesbury, who consents to nets of Lord Derby in 1852 and 1858, make his personal reminiscences and and the privy seal in that of 1866. He diaries the property of the public, and to supplies, therefore, an important element retrace the incidents of a long and busy hitherto entirely wanting to the historian life, with entire truth and simplicity, in the of these times, for he lets us into the language in which he recorded them at councils of the Tory leaders themselves; the time. Lord Malmesbury says, mod. he produces with very little reserve their estly enough, that the readers of these correspondence with himself, which was memoirs are not to expect a continuous at the time confidential, and is now histornarrative, but rather a macédoine of mem- ical. Our own knowledge of these transoranda, diary, and correspondence, recall- actions is naturally derived from the ing the social and political events of a life opposite sources of information, which of seventy-seven years. As he wrote at have been more freely published to the the time of men, events, and common world by other hands. Nothing is more things, so he publishes his remarks, which curious than to compare the impression have therefore the freshness and reality produced by a given event or act of policy of a contemporaneous impression, for the on the minds of those who were antagomost part brief, but essentially clear and nists, and viewed the opposite side of the
And what a vista of incident and change does a retrospect of seventy years open to the view! Every reader of these volumes must be astonished at the prodigious number of events they revive in the
Memoirs of an Ex-Minister. An Autobiography, by the Right Hon. the Earl of MALMESBURY, G.C.B. 2 vols., 8vo. London: 1884.
In his youth Lord Malmesbury lived a good deal with the Whigs. His father-inlaw, Lord Tankerville, had been a Whig. He visited the family of Lord Grey at Howick, and it was at Bowood that he first met Mr. Stanley, the future Lord Derby, then wearing, like his host, Lord Lansdowne, the blue coat and yellow
waistcoat which were the appropriate remarkable talent or any fixed idea but the one dress of the friends and followers of Mr. I mention. It grew upon him with his growth, Fox. Later in life this acquaintance rip- and increased daily until it ripened into a cerened into the closest intimacy, and the tainty. He was a very good horseman and record of Lord Malmesbury's political proficient at athletic games, being short, but relations with Lord Derby is the chief ob- very active and muscular. His face was grave and dark, but redeemed by a singularly bright ject and the most important result of this smile. Such was his personal appearance in publication. It supplies us, for the first 1829, at twenty-one years of age.
time, with authentic materials for the biog
raphy of that remarkable man, especially during his short administrations of 1852 and 1858, to which we shall presently have occasion to revert. Lord Derby's numer ous letters are of the utmost interest and
Lord Malmesbury's intimacy with these
remarkable men would suffice to give a peculiar interest to his memoirs, and indeed his principal object appears to have been to sketch their characters. But his own public career entitles him to a distinguished place in our political history. He speaks of it with becoming modesty, and with no wish to exaggerate its importance. But the reader of these volumes will be satisfied that he deserves a higher rank than that previously awarded to him by public opinion. It was not till 1846, after the disruption of the Tory party, and the fall of Sir Robert Peel, that Lord Malmesbury entered upon active political life, and he entered upon it as the warm partisan of a lost cause. He never sat in the House of Commons, for although he
value, and they do honor to his industry, foresight, and patriotism. It is a pleasing characteristic of English political life, or at least of what has been English political life, that its asperities are tempered by almost unbroken personal and social relaLord Malmesbury has been all his life a strong Tory, but Lord Sydenham, Lord Canning, and Sidney Herbert were his most intimate friends; Lord Lansdowne writes him an affectionate letter on his leaving office; Lord Palmerston and Lord Clarendon assist him with their counsels, and the battle of the night before on the opposing benches of Parlia didate for the borough of Wilton in 1841, ment is forgotten the next day at the his father's death at that very time placed dinner-table. Now and then a little ex-him in the House of Peers. The strong plosion of temper takes place, but it is excitement caused by the repeal of the laughed away, and inflicts no lasting wound on the friendships of a life.
It was Lord Malmesbury's good fortune to contract in his earlier years another intimacy which had a considerable influence on his after life. In the course of a Continental tour which he made in 1829, he was introduced at Rome by Madame de Guiccioli to the Duchesse de St. Leu, Queen Hortense, whose house was one of the most agreeable resorts in the city.
once stood for Portsmouth and was a can
Corn Laws roused his political energy,
and he threw himself with ardor into the Protectionist party, led by Lord Derby, but condemned at the outset to abandon the cause of protection. In 1852, when Lord Derby rallied the forlorn hope of the Tories and formed a government, the Foreign Office was placed in his hands, although he was entirely without official experience, and his knowledge of diplomacy was derived from the careful study Here for the first time I met Hortense's son, of his grandfather's despatches and correLouis Napoleon, then just of age. Nor would spondence, which he had recently pubanybody at that time have predicted his great lished. But the love of letters and a and romantic career. He was a wild, harum-ready appreciation of the foreign relations scarum youth, or what the French call un of the country and of the character of crâne, riding at full gallop down the streets to the peril of the public, fencing, and pistol- foreigners, with whose language and manshooting, and apparently without serious ners he was extremely familiar, were hethoughts of any kind, although even then hereditary in the Harris family, and there was possessed with the conviction that he would some day rule over France. We became friends, but at that time he evinced no
is no trace in his correspondence of the hand of a novice. It was the opinion of his successors in office, Lord John Rus
Before we enter upon the more important passages to be found in these vol
sell and Lord Clarendon, that the business | trophe. Lord Malmesbury applied himof the department had been conducted self with success to localize the war, which with ability and dignity. Lord Malmes- he had not the power to prevent; but his bury was never an ambitious politician. exertions, at the time, were singularly He accepted, more than he sought, the misrepresented and misunderstood. functions he was called upon to discharge, actuated mainly by a sense of duty to the House in which he sat, to the party which | umes, it is just to pay our tribute to their he had adopted, and to his country. When literary merit. The mere jottings of a he took office in 1852, the recent coup diary have, of course, no literary pretend'état in France, which placed Louis Na- sions, yet they sparkle with anecdote and poleon near the throne, had shaken the incident, and they recall to memory a confidence of Europe, and raised in this prodigious number of persons and occurcountry the liveliest apprehensions of rences, extremely amusing to those who, what the renovated empire might bring like ourselves, can remember the greater forth. Lord Malmesbury himself was part of them, and perhaps not less interviewed with suspicion from his known esting to later generations, who see these intimacy with the author of a revolution ghosts and shadows of the nineteenth which was regarded in England as a de- century flit before their eyes. But when testable aggression on the liberties of Lord Malmesbury allows his pen to run France, and as an act dangerous to the freely, no one writes more pleasantly. In peace of Europe. Here, however, his his introductory chapter he brings before knowledge of the character and opinions us the naval review of 1814 which Prince of the future emperor stood him in good Metternich also witnessed in the Solent, stead. He firmly adhered to the convic- and we mount the ancient galley of the tion that peace and good-will to England governor of the Isle of Wight, with its were the basis of the imperial policy, lofty gilded poop, dating from the days and he was right; but at that moment a of William III. He describes with an friendly reliance on the intentions of the "eternal affection" that wild tract of ruler of France was unpopular in an En- moorland, stretching between Christglish minister. church and Poole, in which the old manor house of Heron Court was planted by the priors of Christchurch a region now invaded by a thousand villas, but on which sixty years ago blackcock might be shot where the largest church in Bournemouth now stands, and where even the eagle and the bustard were not unknown. The last lesser bustard was shot there by Lord Palmerston.
As in 1852 Lord Malmesbury was accused of a leaning to France, so in 1859, when the Franco-Austrian war broke out in Italy, he was accused of a leaning to Austria, because at that time he strongly opposed the aggressive policy of Napoleon III., in the interest of the general peace. That war was more popular in England than it was in France, because it had for its object the independence of Italy. But, however desirable that object was to the Italians, more than one statesman thought that it might be too dearly purchased by the overthrow of the exist ing settlement of Europe. Lord Malmesbury foresaw that this was the letting out of waters. He even predicted that in the long run it would cost the emperor his crown or his life. And it would not be difficult to show that the series of events which followed in succession the first outbreak of the military ambition and activity of France did in fact lead up to that catas
At two-and-twenty he starts for the Continent, and escapes by a hair's-breadth from the wound of a fencing-master at Geneva, who runs him through the body with a broken foil; and again in the Sicilian seas from the wreck of a vessel in which he had all but embarked. Connected by his marriage with the family of the Duc de Gramont (Lady Malmesbury was a granddaughter of the old Duc de Gramont, who arrested the Cardinal de Rohan at Versailles, and lived to tell the story fifty years afterwards); received as a confidential friend by the heir of the
Bonapartes, whom he saw in all the vicis- | sail on his own account, and by the time he situdes of fortune, in England, at Ham, upon the throne in Paris, and upon his deathbed at Chislehurst; acquainted, as few Englishmen are, with every province of France by frequent excursions to that country, Lord Malmesbury's notes of French society and manners are of extraordinary variety and interest.*
And if we turn from courts and Cabinets to his life in the Highlands, where he rented for many years the shootings of Achnacarry from Cameron of Lochiel, on the west coast, our author becomes the ardent and successful sportsman, passing months in that wild scenery which he knew how to describe and to enjoy. We must cite the following passage, which has something of the lightness of touch of our old friend Mrs. Barbauld:
September 29th. A tremendous gale and rain. The whole party sat together in the drawing-room, each obliged to tell a story. Mine was as follows, and was founded on the
fact that Richelieu had refused to shoot with Loughborough in consequence of his always hunting his pointers down wind:
was thirty, the rapid voyages he invariably made cut out everybody else, and gave him such advantages that he realized a large forand determined to buy an estate upon them. This he did, but he felt that he was not really a Highland gentleman without a deer-forest, and therefore he extended his domain, took off the sheep, and hired the best stalker in Scotland. All this being prepared for his happiness and amusement, he started with him to stalk in his own forest, but day after day he was disappointed by the perverseness of the weather, the wind constantly changing the mohe found himself always going down wind, so ment he went out. Whatever circuits he took that, whether as single deer or herds, no animal allowed him to approach within a quarter of a mile. He looked upon this merely as a piece of bad luck, till by chance, crossing the burn on which he had seen the pixie fifteen years before, he heard a tiny giggle and then a long low laugh. Turning round, he saw the little woman, and then the terrible truth broke upon him that if he lived to a thousand years he never could possibly kill a stag.
He then remembered his native hills,
We must here intercalate for in this kaleidoscope diary incidents occur in a perplexing variety Lord Malmesbury's very curious account of his visit to Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, then a prisoner at Ham, in April, 1845:
There was once a young Highland shepherd, who was drinking at a burn, and being in the humor of desiring all sorts of things that he had never seen or possessed, he wished that one of the fairies he had heard of, who haunted the place, would appear and give him whatever he wanted. At that moment his dog howled, and a pixie stood before him. "I have heard you," she said, "as I sat under that pebble in the burn, and I will give you whatever you wish for, but it must be one thing only and forever." "Thank you," said the lad, not at all alarmed, "I have only one de sire in the world, and that is to go to sea and become a rich merchant." This happened before steamers were invented, and the fairy answered most graciously, "Mr. MacGuffog, will give you what is the most essential thing for a prosperous voyage and successful trading - namely, wherever you go you shall have a fair wind whichever way you turn yourself or your ship." The young MacGuffog fell on his knees with gratitude, and having given the fairy a pull at his whiskey-flask, went forth-day allowed me for the interview, he confessed with to Fort William, and enlisted as a cabin-mained unabated, he was weary of his prison, that, although his confidence and courage reboy on board a merchantman. It was not very long before the fact became known that whatever ship he was on board always had the wind astern; all the trading captains hired him at any price, but he soon gained enough to
April, London. -I am just returned from the Castle of Ham, on the Somme, where I have been to see Prince Louis Napoleon in the prison in which he has been confined since 1840. Early last January he sent M. Ornano to London to ask me to come and see him on a matter of vital importance to himself, bringing a small almanack for the year, with a vignette of the fortress of Ham painted in miniature on the cover. I was unable to go till now, and having obtained with some diffiIculty a permission from M. Guizot to see the Prince, I went to Ham on April 20. I found him little changed, although he had been imprisoned five years, and very much pleased to see an old friend fresh from the outer world, and that world London. As I had only half a
* Sometimes his transitions are rather abrupt, as if he thought that his readers had as good a memory as his own. Thus, after saying that Lady Tankerville, his mother-in-law, was a Gramont, he passes immediately to Count d'Orsay without explaining the connection. The young Duchesse de Guiche, afterwards Duchesse de Gramont a lady still alive-was Count d'Orsay's sister; the count was therefore allied by marriage to Lady Tankerville's family.
from which he saw no chance of escaping, as he knew that the French Government gave him opportunities of doing so that they might shoot him in the act. He stated that a deputation had arrived from Ecuador offering him Philippe would release him, and in that case the Presidency of that Republic if Louis he would give the King his parole never to return to Europe. He had, therefore, sent for me as a supporter and friend of Sir R. Peel, at that time our Prime Minister, to urge Sir Robert to intercede with Louis Philippe to comply with his wishes, promising every pos
sible guarantee for his good faith. The Prince was full of a plan for a new canal in Nicaragua, that promised every kind of advantage to British commerce. As a precedent for English official interference I was to quote Earl Grey's in favor of Prince Polignac's release in 1830. I assured the Prince that I would do my best; but added that Lord Aberdeen was our Foreign Secretary, and that there was nothing of romance in his character. At this time Prince Louis was deeply engaged in writing the history of Artillery, and he took an hour in making me explain the meaning of several technical words in English, which he wished translated. He gave me a full account of his failure at Boulogne, which he declared was entirely owing to the sudden illness of the officer of the day whom he had secured, and who was to have given up the barracks at once. The soldiers had mostly been gained, and the prestige of his name in the French army was universal. To prove this, he assured me that the cavalry escort of lancers who accompanied him to Ham made him constant gestures of sympathy on the road. He then said, "You see the sentry under my window? I do not know whether he is one of mine or not; if he is he will cross his arms, if not, he
ceed to the more substantial portions of his work, which are the fit subjects of discussion and criticism.
took his seat in the House of Lords in Lord Malmesbury, as has been said, 1841, on the death of his father, who had rather dissuaded than encouraged him to enter public life. He appears for some years to have taken no active part in politics, and although he had applauded Sir Robert Peel's gallant struggle in 1835, we think we can trace at a later period something of that distrust of their great leader which the High Tory Party did not care to conceal, and which ultimately broke out in the invectives of Mr. Disraeli. In 1839 Sir Robert Peel had "implored the Conservatives to be united and not to split upon minor differences with respect to the Corn Laws, declaring himself to be in favor of the present system, against fixed duty or any alteration whatever."* That was the shibboleth of the Tory Peel's accession to office, to shake their party. But many things occurred, after will do nothing when I make a sign.' 'He faith. In 1843 Lord Malmesbury says: went to the window and stroked his moustache, Many Conservatives think that Peel but there was no response until three were re-truckles to the Radicals, and throws over lieved, when the soldier answered by crossing his friends;" and in the preceding year, his arms over his musket. The Prince then 1842, he had actually brought in a Corn said, "You see that my partisans are unknown Bill: to me, and so am I to them. My power is in an immortal name, and in that only; but I have waited long enough, and cannot endure imprisonment any longer.' I understood that Count Montholon and Dr. Conneau, with his valet, Thelin, were his fellow-prisoners at Ham. After a stay of three hours I left the prison, and returned to London deeply impressed with the calm resolution, or rather philosophy, of this man, but putting little faith as to his ever renouncing [qu.? mounting] the throne of France. Very few in a miserable prison like this, isolated and quasi forgotten, would have kept their intellect braced by constant day studies and original compositions, as Louis Bonaparte did during the last five years in the fortress of Ham.
February 7th. Sir Robert Peel has brought in his Bill upon the Corn Laws, which is no less than taking off more than half the present duty. Nobody expected such a sweeping measure, and there is great consternation amongst the Conservatives. It is clear that he has thrown over the landed interest, as my father always said he would. . . . My steward says that the landed proprietors will lose at least 15 per cent. of their rents by Peel's Bill. (Vol. i., p. 139.)
To which Lord Malmesbury adds in a this is far under the mark :" he does not note that "experience has shown that appear to notice that rents had been artifiThe day after I arrived in London I saw Sir cially raised by the effect of the protective Robert Peel, and related my interview and system, which was precisely the grievance message to him. He seemed to be greatly in- complained of by the nation. Sir Robert terested, and certainly not averse to apply to Peel was not unconscious of the rift in the the French Government in the Prince's favor party of which he was the illustrious chief, on his conditions, but said he must consult and even when his administration was apLord Aberdeen, which of course was inevitable.parently at the height of its power, he That evening he wrote to me to say that Lord foresaw its dissolution. The studied siAberdeen "would not hear of it." Who can tell how this decision of the noble lord may in-lence of Lord Malmesbury with reference fluence future history? (Vol. i., p. 157.)
We are compelled, by the limits of this article, to pass over numerous anecdotes and incidents of sport, society, and travel, which our readers will find for themselves in Lord Malmesbury's pages, and we pro
to the head of the government in these years is significant. Lord Stanley appears to have been the only member of the Cabinet with whom he lived on confidential terms. Mr. Gladstone he did not
• Vol. i., p. 98.