Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

wincing internally as he admits, but too proud to show the woundthat it must have been something of a revelation to his colleagues on the Front Bench when, the result of the General Election of 1906 declared, they found him resolved not only to take the Premiership, but to be master in his Cabinet household. The fact, discerned by his clear sight, was that he was the elect of the people. While the House of Commons as a whole underestimated his capacity, there was nothing approaching the enthusiasm among Liberal members that at repeated crises sustained the predominance of Gladstone. London misunderstood and belittled him. The Provinces, having the advantage of perspective, saw him in a truer light, and were determined to have none other as Premier. Some of his colleagues on the Front Bench, solicitous for his health and comfort, wanted to shelve him in the restful obscurity of the House of Lords. It was no secret at the time that one whose collaboration in the Ministry was almost indispensable, for some days refused to take office if Campbell-Bannerman continued to lead the party in the Commons. He plodded along, smiling, courteous, but implacable. In the end he got his way, and lived long enough to establish a rarely equalled position as Leader, not only of his party, but of the House of Commons.

It was while he was Leader of the Opposition he wrote the subjoined letter, correcting a blunder into which I had fallen in sketching one of my ' Pictures in Parliament' for the 'Daily News.'

[ocr errors]

6 Grosvenor Place, S.W.: February 12, '96. MY DEAR LUCY,-That I should be able to catch you out! I thought you knew everything about Parliamentary practices.

You speak of me as 'forgetting’ to take my hat off when the Speaker read the Speech. On the contrary, I kept it on purposely, maintaining the traditional rule of the House, which has always been that members uncover to hear a direct message from the Queen, but never to hear a message read at second-hand from the Chair.

When I first came into the House this distinction was universally observed. It was observed to the end by Northcote, Lowe, Mr. G., Hartington, and all the vieille école. If I am the last survivor of the true faith and practice, I am proud of the fact.

It is not worth taking notice of, and please don't correct or alter anything. But if you see me on another occasion with my hat on, remember it is high principle and not slackness. As I said, I am real glad 'to catch you out.

Yours,

H. C.-B.

6

Here is another specimen of his light touch when he took pen in hand.

House of Commons: July 1. MY DEAR LUCY,-When I was a freshman at Trinity I went one Sunday to Church. When I entered the door I found the sermon going on, and a very dandified and vapourish Fellow of my College in the pulpit. With much sign of woe he was exclaiming, ‘Alas, my brethren ; alas ! and thrice alas !' I was so touched that I did not sample the sermon any longer, but came away.

These lamentable words are still ringing in my ear as I take up my pen to say that vaccination is not exhausted. Hercules in the form of Mr. Cb-pl-n has been struggling with the python, whose heads all come from the Midland counties. He chops away at them, but as he chops they grow. Probably if he whistled softly to them, and gave them something nice to nibble at, in the shape, say, of a conscientious objector, he would have scotched the beast by this time. But his ways are not as our ways.

So I am afraid I am shut out from your charming luncheon party on Tuesday : I shall be shouting Order, order, instead of eating and drinking. Pray make my apologies to your wife, and if you could convey delicately to Mrs. Craigie how sorry I am not to meet her again, you would be the friend you always are to

Yours very truly,

H. C.-B. The Mrs. Craigie alluded to was ‘John Oliver Hobbes,' whom he had met at our house some time before, and with whom he, in common with mankind, was greatly charmed.

In the spring of 1905 Sir James Knowles, editor of the Nineteenth Century,' perceiving close approach of the downfall of the Unionist Ministry, asked me to draft a Liberal Cabinet for publication in the pages of his Review. In an evil moment I undertook a delicate, as it turned out, a disastrous task. The forecast, appearing at a dull season, was widely quoted and keenly commented upon. It cost me one valued friendship and for awhile imperilled another. In the first case the ‘Nineteenth Century' assigned to a certain M.P. one of the highest and most honourable offices connected with an incoming Ministry. It was not, however, the one upon which my old friend had set his heart, and the indiscretion proved to be the unpardonable sin. Shortly after the appearance of the article, I met him at a memorable dinner given by Lawson Walton, at which there were gathered nearly every one of the leading men of the Liberal Party, who—including the hosteventually became members of the Campbell-Bannerman Ministry. Instead of the hearty greeting with which I had been familiar for

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

new

a dozen years, I was in a Parliamentary sense of course) slain by a cold stare and a slight nod.

I searched my heart for trace of guile or disloyalty towards one whose friendship was based upon a too-generous appreciation of encouragement publicly given to him, when he, a member, was endeavouring to make his way in the House of Commons. There was absolutely none, and I remained in pained puzzlement till I recalled the hapless article. I am not much good in these unfamiliar circumstances, being indisposed to clutch at the suddenly chilled hand of ancient friendship. Accordingly

we walk apart.' A particularly foolish‘river flows between.' When, as sometimes happens, we meet under hospitable auspices my old friend and I do not know each other.

In this same article, mindful of the long claims of Earl Spencer, I nominated him for the Premiership, suggesting Campbell-Bannerman as Secretary of State for War with a seat in the House of Lords. Here is clearly seen the under-estimation of his capacity, on an earlier page lamented on the part of the House of Commons generally. The freezing consequences were less complete than in the case of the other offended friend. But the chill was unmistakable. It was characteristic of Campbell-Bannerman's gentleness of nature that when we chanced to foregather at any of the social festivities of the Session, he was effusively friendly in his bearing towards Mrs. Lucy, while a formal shake of the hand was my full measure of greeting.

When he was smitten with illness and the approaching end seemed not afar off, I resolved to come to an understanding with him on the subject. I wrote recalling old days, and asking him plainly to declare wherein and whereby I had sacrificed a long-prized friendship. He replied :

Hotel Continental, Biarritz: Jan. 15, 1908. MY DEAR LUCY,-Your friendly letter gave me much pleasure

I can at once relieve your mind of any idea that anything has been done by you to give offence to me in the slightest ; nor am I conscious of any difference in my attitude; but, of course, opportunities of friendly relationship are more frequent among those who are completely in political accord.

I have never varied in my regard for yourself and the personage whom you call your rural secretary (Mrs. Lucy). Please remember me most kindly to her, and

Believe me
Yours very truly,

H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN. (To be continued.)

Our attention has been called by Mr. F. Moy Thomas to the references in our August and November numbers to him, and to the action which he successfully instituted in 1906 against Mr. Lucy in connexion with his work, The Life and Recollections of Sir John Robinson.'

Mr. Moy Thomas complains that the articles repeat some of the expressions complained of in the action, and that the result of the action is inaccurately described.

The event seemed to us properly to form part of Mr. Lucy's recollections, and to be an important incident in his experiences, and as such it was inserted.

Nothing was further from our, or from Mr. Lucy's, intention than to revive an old dispute, but it would have been well if the article had made clearer the fact that the verdict of 3001. obtained by Mr. Moy Thomas was on the ground that Mr. Lucy's review of his work exceeded the bounds of fair comment.

There was not the least intention of disparaging Mr. Moy Thomas's well-known position in journalism, and we have no hesitation in making this correction, and in expressing our regret and apologies to Mr. Moy Thomas.

!

ED. CORNHILL MAGAZINE.

December 1908.

STANZAS ADDRESSED TO THE HON. CHARLES

PARSONS, F.R.S.

ILLUSTRIOUS PARSONS, long have I,

Noting our age's facile crazes
For worthless idols, wondered why

No bard arose to sing your praises,
Or make at least some friendly mention
Of your unparalleled invention.

We grow in hygiene and nous,

Thanks to the zeal of Shaw and Jaeger,
And everybody talks of Strauss,

And some wax eloquent on Reger;
But there are scores of squires and squarsons,
Who never yet have heard of Parsons.

My ignorance of all machines

Could not be crasser or profounder,
And questioned what the turbine means,

I cannot say—I simply flounder ;
I only know it set me free
From my long terror of the sea.

And thus, though I'm no engineer,

Nor man of science, nor mechanic,
But totally unfit, I fear,

To cope with such a theme Titanic,
Justice, if not divine afflatus,
Bids me supply this strange hiatus.

« ZurückWeiter »