Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

table between the windows. The old “I think I have made the case clear," man's hand shook while he took it. he said, "and that you will see there is Aunt Anne, looking at him like a culprit nothing to be gained by staying. My waiting for punishment, noticed a black money was not made to benefit Mr. Alfred Dess round his mouth and that the lines Wimple. I shall make another will, and on his face were rigid.

it will not contain your name.” He rang “ Shall I bring you some chicken-broth, the bell again. Sir William ?” the servant asked.

“ You have treated me cruelly — cru“When I ring. Go." Then he turned elly but heaven will frustrate you to Aunt Anne." Now I will tell you why yet.” Anguish and dignity were strangely this young man loved you.” He said the blended in her voice, but she hesitated á last words with an almost fiendish chuckle. moment, and it seemed as if the latter had “ He loved you because, being a clerk in gained the victory, when she went on: his uncle's office, the office from which he You and I will probably never meet had to be kicked, he probably knew-in again, William; you have insulted me fact, I am certain that he knew, for he shamefully, and you will remember it came to ask me your Christian name when it is too late to ask my forgiveness. when the instructions were being given You have insulted me, and treated me

– that I had provided for you in my will. heartlessly, yet it was beside us when we I do not choose to pauperize people while were children that our mothers I live, but I considered it my duty to leave the servant entered with a cup of some portion of my wealth to my relations, chicken-broth. no matter how small a claim they had upon “Good-bye, Mrs. Alfred Wimple," Sir me. He knew that you would get a fourth William said politely." Charles, show share of my money — probably he reck. Mrs. Wimple down-stairs." oned it up and calculated that it would The man was bewildered at the strange amount to a good many thousand pounds, name, and looked at Aunt Anne doubt. so he and Boughton concocted a scheme fully. Sir William clutched at the arms to get hold of it together."

of his chair again and his head sank back “Mr. Boughton knew nothing of our upon the pillow. marriage.”

“ William -"she began. “I tell you it was all a scheme. What “Go," he said hoarsely. For a moment shouid Boughton allow you a hundred a she hesitated, a red spot had burnt itself year for ?" He was grasping the will on her cheek, and slowly she followed the while he spoke.

servant down the stairs. “ He knew nothing about it, William, neither did Alfred."

“Well, we'll put his disinterestedness to the test," and he tried to tear the will in half, but his fingers were too weak.

From The New Review. Oh, no," she cried, “no, no." “Do you suppose a young man would marry an old woman like you for any reason but gain? That you should have The absolute unimportance of every been such a fool -- and for that unwhole. individual to the world is a common belief some-looking cur, with his long, rickety amongst thoughtful persons in it. Exlegs and red hair, why he looks like a ception may be made in the case of a few stale prawn,” the old man said derisively, poets and one or two philosophers of a and made another effort to tear the will. practical turn, but as to our rulers and

“ I cannot bear it — William, I implore governors, the doctrine so dear to Manyou," and she clasped her hands with chester in its braver days is still believed terror.

in. This doctrine is that individual gifts, He leant forward with an effort and put personal will, count for little in times when the will on the fire.

intelligence and power are widely diffused. “Oh no, no,” she cried again, and kneel- Nations are now governed (so the arguing down almost snatched it from the ment runs) by the common stock of will fiames.

and wisdom; making use of this or that He took up the poker between his two representative of itself, but neither used white hands and held the paper down by nor dependent upon any individual, no with it.

matter what his apparent place in the " It is cruel - cruel ." she began, as world or his seeming authority. she watched it disappear from her sight. It is a great mistake, and one that ought

[ocr errors]

STUDY IN CHARACTER.

LORD SALISBURY.

not to have survived observation of the themselves; the Third Napoleon, for excareer of two or three men of our own ample. Of others, like Mr. Disraeli, distime: Cavour, Bismarck, and Mr. Glad tinct but contrary conceptioos have been stone, for example. The truth is that with formed. Lord Salisbury is not a “mystery all her apparatus of Parliament, public man.” Nobody would think of applying meeting, caucuses, newspapers, and re- to him that romantic but yet derogatory views, even free and democratic England designation ; nevertheless, after years and is almost as much in the hands of one or years of public life (or rather of public two men as with-liberty.half-endowed Ger- business), there are few minds in which many is. Whether the empire is uplifted his image takes a firm outline. Yet more or cast down may be decided by the bee remarkable, perhaps, is the fact that, notin one man's bonnet, or the fluctuations of withstanding the high place he fills, there wisdom in the head and courage in the is little curiosity about him personally heart of another. So it has been hitherto, little public curiosity. Of course, those so it is now, and so, no doubt, it will ever whose business is politics, or who take a be. Wherefore it is always interesting to sustained interest in public affairs, must look about us and see what sort of states- needs speculate from time to time upon manship we happen to be provided with. the character of so great a personage.

At this moment the fortunes of the em- But while they do so to small advantage, pire are pretty much in the hands of two the rest of the world seems to trouble it. men, Mr. Gladstone and Lord Salisbury; self with the subject not at all. It is a and it is the last-named statesman who remarkable but not an inexplicable fact sits in the seat of actual power, where he that with all his high qualities, with all his has exercised an authority far in excess of commanding abilities including a large what is generally supposed. Prime min. share of the winning gift of eloquence isters endowed with a masterful spirit Lord Salisbury has little interest for the have much more command in affairs than people at large; which is explained by a the popular imagination attributes to lack of sympathy in his own character. them; and in Lord Salisbury's case this That amiable quality, so useful to states. power has been greatly enhanced by the manship, governed as England is, has fact that he chose to become, or had to been denied to him altogether. But symbecome — for there is no Conservative pathy lives by sympathy; and it must be half so well qualified for the post — for a matter of common remark that wherever eign secretary as well as prime minister. a distinct want of it becomes manifest it No doubt it is true that as his present is not only met with coldness, but is in term of power ran on (his first term, soon danger of setting up an antipathetic sentito be renewed or terminated) he took an ment. Would it be too much to say that ever-diminishing interest in the domestic this untoward consequence is sometimes affairs of the country, leaving them more observed in the "feeling" for Lord Salis. and more to the handling of men who are bury? Perhaps so. But at least it cannot in the Cabinet and giving an all-but not be doubted that a general indifference exclusive attention to the conduct of for- to the prime minister as a personality eign affairs. The fact remains, however, exists in the public mind. The mass of that he holds a position of extraordinary Englishmen under Lord Salisbury's gove personal authority; and that the combina. ernment are content to remain in ignotion of the iwo offices in his own hands rance of him. Himself destitute of leaves him quite unchecked in matters of sympathetic charm, he draws from them the highest and most enduring importance. no part of the personal interest that was And since he is about to ask for a renewal bestowed on Lord Palmerston, for examof that authority, it should be all the more ple, not to speak of other men Lord Salisinteresting to inquire what manner of man bury's intellectual inferiors. is he?

This is a grave privation, though it is Put this question in any society, and it probably one that he is little inclined will be strange if you receive a confident by nature to repine at. Useful as it reply. There are doubtless some who can would be to him, it is more than likely speak from observation that should be that Hatfield's lord and Burleigh's de. sufficient, but they are comparatively few, scendant would take small pride in the and even of these it may be said that they strength derived from uninformed popular do not venture on forming definite conclu: sympathy. Not that we are entitled to say sions. There have been “mystery men” that because he has never tried to gain it who yet impressed the world with a toler. he would rather do without it. Tempera

а ably distinct and fairly accurate idea of ment is temperament; we all have some knowledge of ourselves; and it may be attitude of light, sarcastic indifference, of supposed that unless Lord Salisbury' has amused and humorous scorn, is exhibited been conscious of a certain inability to anywhere else in modern statesmanship. win the sentimental sorts of popular favor More might be said, however, to the (which, however, are as well to be won by same effect. If we had to describe Lord worthy as unworthy means), he would not Salisbury's statesmanship at a stroke, to have neglected a source of power which differentiate the style of it in a single modern statesmanship can hardly do with word, “ Italian” would probably yield the out. Yet it may be true at the same time most accurate idea; Italian not of modern that it is not a source of power that Lord Italy. But, it may be asked, is not that Salisbury would take pleasure in. But preity much what we have often heard then he is not exactly a modern statesman; before? What is “Italian" but Eliza. which some may take for a reproach, bethan Cecilian with a slight difference? though the wiser sort will be in no hurry Well, it is Cecilian Elizabethan with a to blame him on that account. They will slight difference; only, whenever we are reflect that it is possible to work the busi. making generic distinctions it is as well to ness of statesmanship without resorting go from the branch to the root. But the to Dark Age methods, and yet to be abso compound word will do; and though it lutely indifferent to popular praise or has been taken up many times as a ran. blame. Anxiety or indifference in that dom missile and thrown at the Cecil of matter may simply depend upon whether our day with a mere desire to hurt, it is the statesman was originally gifted with the word that would be chosen first by the literary or the scientific mind. Now, impartial discrimination. Besides, the because Lord Salisbury wrote for a time reproach of “ Elizabethan," when hurled in the periodical press, and because his at Lord Salisbury, has usually been in. speeches and despatches are cast into tended to carry with it the meaning of what may be described as professional imitation, affectation — something of the literary form, the bent of his genius has second-hand. That is all wrong together. been commonly misapprehended. Litera. There is nothing imitative or second-hand ture he has in no small measure; and there about the prime minister; and supposing are few men in England who look the Lord Salisbury born with the Italian cast scholar — the grave, full

, laborious stu- of mind — which is what we should say of dent, dignified by study — more than he him — he is pretty much explained as a He is a master of style, proud of his mas. public man by an excessive growth in that tery, and so adept at certain forms of same mind of two kinds of pride : the expression that he is seduced at the most pride of birth and the pride of intellect. untimely seasons into showing how ele- Ambition answers for the rest. · gantly murderous a use the pen can be put He must be a very poor member of a to. This sometimes happens even when great family who does not search within his lordship is inditing a despatch which himself at one time or another for some is ultimately destined for publication, and transmitted portion of the identical qualitherefore composed under special re- ties that distinguished his more noble anstraint. But official writings do not all cestors. No others will satisfy him half as come into blue-books; and since Mr. well; and should he find a sufficient trace Gladstone and Mr. Bryce were absolutely of those he seeks, he will naturally do his shocked at the sarcasms that gleamed out best to nourish them, and add to the glory in published despatches addressed to the of his house by making known their per. Portuguese government, it is difficult to sistence and continuity. A famous phi. imagine what they would think of similar losopher of this century persuaded himself exercises penned for private exhortation, that he was the latest incarnation of correction, or rebuke. Some magnificent Buddha. How far he was justified by concompositions of that kind exist. But, as templation of his own interior (which was we know by many examples, a punishing, the greater part of his business) in making controversial style is one of the most so prodigious an assumption can never be prized gifts of modern science; and Lord known; but if Lord Salisbury arrived Salisbury's bent is less literary than sci- early at the belief that the precise facul. entific. Now, indifference to popular ap- ties of the historic Cecils had reappeared proval or disapproval is natural to the in himself, nobody who knows him will scientific mind; and by this alone Lord wonder. And if he began life with that Salisbury's "attitude” towards the public idea, of course he would be all the more would be sufficiently explained. Unless in love with his endowments. At the it be discoverable in Mr. Balfour, no such / same time the pride of birth – which

more

was

might have been great with good reason of the canvas where the mouth should be. even if he had no more resembled his Light in themselves, perhaps, these selfnoblest ancestors than other gentlemen revelations are often significant of funda. that might be named – would naturally mentals; and what was signified in Lord become intensified; and therewith, and on Salisbury's case was a preference, evithe same account, the pride of intellect. dently rooted in character and tradition, As it happens, these are Lord Salisbury's for carrying on a certain kind of public predominant characteristics; and as might business in ways

ancient than be inferred from the very origin of his lovely. pride of birth, it is the pride of intellect Another illustration of the same prefer. which is the most vivid and assertive. ence has been much less remarked upon, Now, take these two sentiments alone ; and, therefore, may be noticed here. It is understand that they can hardly be to be found in the famous “large maps". stronger in any mind, to remain rational; speech. At the time when that speech imagine how such a combination must was delivered, the country was agitated to affect character and conduct ; and every- what anybody may understand as a most thing in Lord Salisbury's public life is inconvenient' degree by the Russian enexplained.

croachments towards India. In all likeliOnly, we must assume a ground-work hood, it was impossible for the government of what has been called the Italian mind ; to satisfy the public demand for active which is not much of an assumption means of prevention; and so what Lord either. On reasonably close inspection it Salisbury did was to declare that the de. is seen that the better qualities of that cast mand based upon a ridiculously of intellect are always at work wherever ignorant conception of the facts. The the noble marquis may be, for the public prevalent fears, he said, arose entirely good. But occasionally some of its other from the irrational practice of studying qualities, in harmony with the rest but small maps; which, to the eyes of those much less admirable, appear also; and it who were so absurdly content with them, is a mighty pity that the use of them is not reduced boundless wastes and enormous perceived to be quite anachronistic. It mountain ranges to the limit of a long was all very well in the sixteenth century. day's walk. But statesmen studied large That sort of thing was even necessary in maps, and therefore understood that alarm old days, perhaps ; but it comes to no good at the Russian advance to India was

It would be absurd, of course, to merely ludicrous. Nothing could be suppose that the conduct of foreign affairs more ingenious or more telling than that can be carried on in public like a cricket speech; and nothing more disingenuous match. Concealments there must be; and deluding. But it served its purpose sometimes there must be that kind of de to a miracle. There was a burst of laugh. ceit which is called putting off the scent; ter throughout the country, so glad were and the business of diplomacy is such we to believe in the paibless hills and that the necessity most often arises upon deserts vast revealed by the Foreign Office affairs of the highest importance. All that maps ; and the government was left quite is understood. But it is possible to use undisturbed about the Russian advance these practices to excess, without need, till a few years after, when the fighting and merely as part of the refinements of at Penjdeh declared that Lord Salisthe game; and when that is done by a bury's large-map revelations were mythstatesman in our time and country, the re- ical, and that the Russian advance up to sult is to place between nation and minis. the Afghan frontier had been accomter a distance which Lord Salisbury must plished out of hand. As a first result of have been very conscious of more than this discovery, it seemed for a time that once. The like of it is often seen in do-war was almost inevitable. But it was mestic life; when wife and husband go on avoided ; and avoided, let us hasten to together in comfort enough, though each is add, on the most honorable terms that never long unconscious of the void that could have been hoped for under the cir. opened between them when some self-cumstances, by the sagacity and firmness revealing word was spoken. It is unnec. of Lord Salisbury himself. essary to dwell on the occasions when the According to the natural order of things, revealing word was uttered by Lord Salis- the strength and ambition of Lord Salisbury, but to put them out of sight in a bury's intellect came out before its subsketch of character would be as if a portrait tlety. They came out not long after he painter drew a floating scarf over that part entered the House of Commons (he was Lord Robert Cecil and twenty-three at the time when Lord Salisbury was sent to that time), where he soon gave proof of Constantinople, which the rest of the Cab. his very remarkable powers and of a cer- inet was unaware of. This was in 1876. tain aggressive courage in the use of Lord Salisbury, was despatched out of them. This was the most noticeable the Cabinet – he was Indian secretary thing about his quarrel with Mr. Disraeli. then- to see what British influence could But that Lord Robert should stand up to do to avert a threatened attack on Turkey his political chief when he did was less by the Russians. He had no sooner remarkable than it might have seemed at started than signs of an ambitious indeother times; for at that period there was pendency of action appeared in his cona great deal of discontent with Mr. Dis- duct. Somewhat later, his carriage at raeli amongst influential Conservatives Constantinople was such as to excite asa discontent largely mixed with contempt. tonishment amongst his fellow countrymen It was not surprising, therefore, that a at home, who could not reconcile it with young patrician, conscious of great parts the understood sympathies and policies of and gifted with a full share of fighting the government. And their doubts were eloquence, should dream of pushing Mr. so far justified that Lord Salisbury's con. Disraeli out of the leadership and taking duct was equally unintelligible to his own his place. Yet that Lord Robert Cecil colleagues. Possibly it was only his should hope to beat Mr. Disraeli on the methods of going about the business he floor of the House of Commons argued a had in hand that looked dubious; but confidence which, though not without however that may be, warm remonstrances merit, was hardly justified. He fought on were sent out to him from Downing good conscientious grounds, but in the Street, complaining that he seemed to be end it was not Mr. Disraeli who received not only exceeding his instructions but the most“punishment”in that encounter; departing from them. This little episode, which was marked on the side of his the details of which have never been laid youthful opponent by precisely the same before the public, is recalled to illustrate merits and defects that distinguish his Lord Salisbury's masterfulness in a posicontroversial speeches to this day. The tion of advantage. That position he cerquarrel engendered much bitterness, and tainly enjoyed at Constantinople ; for of the memory of it was lasting. Fortu- course he knew that an envoy from the nately, it is not the habit of public men in Cabinet is not to be controlled or recalled England to cherish the rancors that do as easily as another man might be. At arise from time to time in political con- the same time he may have been right in flict. The relations between these two what he did, and wiser than those whom men became very close afterwards, and, he astonished and offeoded ; but that is no doubt, beneficially; but if the truth not a question for discussion in a paper must be told, much that we have heard like this, though to put it out of view since Lord Beaconsfield's death of the would be unfair to the political character affectionate trust reposed in the younger we are dealing with. Neither are we to statesman by the elder is mere invention. forget that when some time afterwards

now.

When the shah made his tour in Europe other important ministers departed from a he was accompanied by a large number of Cabinet long and deeply troubled by difPersian gentlemen, who were no doubt ferences of opinion, Lord Salisbury resupposed to bave been selected for their mained with Mr. Disraeli and worked in merits and as a mark of honor and confi- harmony with him to the end. dence. Some of them were ; but others On Lord Derby's resignation in 1878 were chosen because his Majesty thought his noble kiosman (who publicly likened it wouldn't be wise to leave them at home; him on one occasion to Titus Oates) took wiser to carry them about with him and the foreign secretaryship; and it is neces. keep them under his eye. Should this sary to recall the fact that Lord Salisbury story, apply to the appearance of Lord signalized his appearance in that role by Salisbury in Mr. Disraeli's 1874 admin- publishing a declaration of policy that istration (which many wondered at), let it won boundless plaudits for its boldness be remembered that the Disraelian mo. and the defiant patriotism that spoke in tive, like the shah's, may have been every line. It had as great an effect on groundless. If so, however, good reason the country as the small maps speech – for mistrusting Lord Salisbury soon reap- an immense effect; and almost immedipeared; unless, indeed, there was an un. ately afterwards proof appeared that it derstanding between him and his chief, at was equally trustworthy. No doubt one

« VorigeDoorgaan »