« ElőzőTovább »
more than usually momentous announce the Treasury bench, which led to his sud. ment to make, gave notice that the gov- den departure and thrilled the House with ernment would forth with come to the a sense of fresh mystery and apprehenHouse to ask for exceptional supplies. sion, was a telegram from Mr. Layard That was all he said, but as seeming to announcing that their first impression was confirm the news which the evening pa entirely mistaken, that the terms of the pers were blazoning forth, it was regarded bases of peace had been agreed to, the as certain that the country was actually final one being that the question of the on the brink of war. Various attempts Straits should be reserved for settlement, were made to draw further information ; not between czar and sultan, but by a but Sir Stafford Northcote with grave Congress. “ After a hasty consultation face and solemn mien declined to be with those of our colleagues who were in drawn.
the House of Commons," Northcote writes After this the House, in accordance with in this interesting, but in Mr. Lang's book its manner, took up the next business, undated, entry, “I went up to Downing which was the appointment of a select Street, taking Smith with me. We found committee to inquire into the best means Lord Beaconsfield in bed, but quite able of conducting public business. To Sir to talk over the matter with us. The reStafford Northcote as leader fell the duly sult was, that we agreed to stop Admiral of making the proposal, which he did in Hornby before he entered the Dardanelles, his most matter.of-fact way, as if the echo where he had been led to expect that he of the Russian capnon approaching. Con- might find orders. Smith despatched an stantinople had not just been heard in the Admiralty telegram at once. It was not in House." He resumed his seat, and it time to stop the fleet, but it brought it seemed that matters would go forward in back again to the entrance of the Strait.” the ordinary course till the hour of ad- What a picture is here for the band of the journment. Sir Stafford was sitting in historical painter - Northcote and Mr. his usual position on the bench, with arms Smith bursting into Lord Beaconsfield's folded and head downcast, when a letter bedroom with the news that the British was handed along the bench till it reached feet had been sent on a fool's errand; his hand. As he read it, his carefully Dizzy sitting up in bed, peradventure in a cultured imperturbability gave way, and nightcap, discussing the direful news, and he turned and spoke in hurried whisper to W. H. Smith finally penning the telegram Sir Michael Hicks Beach, who sat on one that was to bring back the feet just as the side of him, and Mr. W. H. Smith on the delighted crews, coming in sight of the other. The still crowded House looking Dardanelles, were sharpening their cuton and marvelling what this might por lasses and training their guos. teod, beheld Sir Stafford rise and hurry The last touch of absurdity was given out, followed by all the Cabinet ministers to a really critical situation by the arrival present. It was clear that something mo. on the next day of a correction of Layard's mentous had happened to demand this telegram. It was not between the eminstant summoning of a Cabinet Council. peror and the Congress that the question What it was leaked out drop by drop in of the Straits was to be settled, but be. the course of the next few days. But|tween the emperor and the sultan. “How the full story, with Lord Beaconsfield's we goashed our teeth!” writes the gentle figure introduced, is told for the first time diarist. The episode was celebrated in in Northcote's diary.
the House of Commons in a verse which The government had received informa: bad great vogue, though probably Stafford tion that led them to fear that a private Northcote never saw it :arrangement about the Straits would be made between the Turks and the Rus. When Government ordered the Fleet to the
Straits, sians to the exclusion and the detriment They surely encountered the hardest of fates; of other powers. This was on the Wednes. For the order, scarce given, at once was reday, and at a Cabinet Council it was de- called, cided to ask for a vote of credit, and forth. And the Russians were not in the slightest with to order the feet to proceed to the appalled. Dardanelles. A message conveying this And every one says who has heard the order was sent to Admiral Hornby, and
debates, Sir Stafford Northcote, when he took his
“It's the Cabinet now, not the Fleet, that's
in straits.” seat in the House on Thursday afternoon, iknew that the feet was already on its The post of financial secretary to the way. The message that came to him on 1 Treasury, which Stafford Northcote took
on being elected for Stamford in 1859, is mained with the government, and was one that does not fill a large place in public made secretary of state for India. This estimation. But it is of prime importance, office he held till the dissolution in 1868 and has in several modern instances with credit, through exceptionally troubleproved the pathway to the highest minis. some times. Then came the long interval terial post. The financial secretary is of Liberal supremacy, lasting till 1874, practically the business manager of the Northcote was in constant attendance on government in the House of Commons. the front opposition bench, varied by a He edits the orders of the day, is a sort visit to Canada as chairman of the Hudson of fag for ministers in charge of bills, and, Bay Company; a trip to Egypt for the moreover, has at the Treasury, especially opening of the Suez Canal, and onward to at the approach of budget day, an enor. Greece; and his appointment, on the in. mous amount of office work. There could vitation of Lord Granville, to join the be no better training for a young minister, Alabama commission, which involved a 00 post that sooner finds out a man visit to the United States, the juoketing whether he be worth anything or nothing. part of which was greatly enjoyed, and is Stafford Northcote, trained already in the described with surprising vivacity in his hard school of Mr. Gladstone's workshop, letters and journals. He seems to have took naturally to the business, and more been the life and soul of the party, gravely' than justified Disraeli's prescience in se- Airting with several of the ladies, and writ.' lecting him for the post. He was brought ing verse to one, being careful to send a early to the front in debate on financial copy to Lady, Northcote. It is pleasant affairs, venturing, not without some shak- to think of the high commissioner, still iog in his shoes, to stand up against Mr. engaged in settling a matter of delicate Gladstone. This was in 1861, when the international import, sitting down to turn famous budget iovolving the reduction of verses to a young lady who had asked him the paper duties was brought in by Mr. to enrich her album. One sees him with Gladstone. It was in this debate there his lyre, strumming whilst he sang :: passed the delightful little correspondence between the late Lord Derby and Lord
I might have sung some maiden's wrongs, Palmerston. There
Some hopeless swain his fair adoring;
I cannot sing the song of songs whether the budget, of which the secret
I cannot sing of Mary Loring. bad been well kept, would deal with the tea duty or the paper duty. Just before These records of his journeyings in forMr. Gladstone rose, a messenger brought eign parts are among the pleasantest to the Treasury bench a note from Lord reading in Mr. Lang's book, displaying Derby addressed to the premier. “My keen observation, love of nature, a gentle dear Þam,” the note ran, " what is to be humor, and no inconsiderable literary the great proposal to-night? Is it to be ability. tea and turn-out? Lord Palmerston, When, in 1874, the tide turned again, reaching out for a sheet of note-paper, and the Conservatives came in wiih a promptly wrote back : “My dear Derby, majority that for the first time in the genyou are quite wrong. It is not tea and eration placed them in power as well as in turn-out; it is to be paper and station office, Stafford Northcote reached his
predestined post as chancellor of the ex.! Sir Stafford made a speech in opposing chequer. From this date up to the session the budget which secured for him a fore- of 1877, when, in succession to Mr. Dis. most position, ardent friends on the front raeli, he assumed the leadership of the bench and its neighborhood comparing House of Commons, runs a period that him with “Gladstone at his best without may be reckoned as the happiest and most Gladstone's temper.” After this his ad- prosperous of his public career.
He was was steady, and even rapid. In always better as lieutenant than captain, 1866, Lord Derby coming in, Northcote ever liking something or somebody other became president of the Board of Trade, than himself to lean against. He started with a seat in the Cabinet. Following on in his new position with one inestimable the secession of Lord Cranborne, General advantage — he was personally liked and Peel, and Lord Carnarvon from a Con respected in the House, much in the same servative government that had carried a way as is Lord Hartington, even a nearer Reform Bill going far beyond that of Lord parallel being found in the case of Mr. W. Jobo Russell, which a year earlier they H. Smith. When the House of Commons bad combined to defeat, Northcote, con- likes a man he may, if he has tact and verted by Disraeli's predominance, re- ability, do as he pleases with it. But the
times were agaiost Northcote. Had he laugh did not belong to the class of come into the office in 1874, matters persons exempted by law from taking the would have turned out very differently. oath as a preliminary to taking a seat The country was weary of the pegging in the House of Commons. Thereupon away that, during the previous six years, Mr. Bradlaugh offered to take the oath. had been going on under the dictatorship Another committee was appointed which of Mr. Gladstone. It yearned for rest, denied him this privilege. He insisted and sent to the House of Commons a body upon his right. Sir Henry Wolff came to of representatives that faithfully reflected the front, gallantly, throwing his body its mood. Stafford Northcote, with his across the passage by which Mr. Bradkindly ways, his little waggeries, his hum- laugh would have advanced to the table, drum speech, his sound judgment, and his and eighteen days after, having seconded irreproachable character, would have been the motion to refer the case to a select just the man for the sessions of 1874-5. committee, Stafford Northcote seconded a But these fell to the lot of Disraeli, and motion by Sir Henry Wolff declaring Mr. poor, belated Stafford Northcote was ap- Bradlaugh's seat “vacant as if he were pointed to ride upon the whirlwind and dead." A terrible Nemesis lurked under direct the storm that filled the House of this action, for out of it was born the Commons in the sessions of 1877, 8, and fourth party that finally wrecked him, 9. Abroad, Europe was in flames, all the driving him first out of the House of nations watching the desperate fight be- Commons, and finally hustling him out of tween Russia and Turkey, England stand the ministry. ing through weeks and months on the very What Stafford Northcote thought and verge of war. At home trade was bad, wrote during the dark period that culmibudgets disappointing, the people discon- nated in a memorable scene one June tented, the Parliament already past its evening in the session of 1885, when Sir prime. In the House of Commons there Michael Hicks Beach deserted him and were nightly wrangles with the Irish ob- joined the mutineers under Lord Randolph structionists, suspensions of members, Churchill, his biographer has found it twenty-six hours' sittings, and chaos gen- necessary to
omit from bis record. erally. Still, Northcote had the strong Though this was imperative, it is none hand of Lord Beaconsfield behind him, a the less a pity, since it leaves blanks in majority that to the last presented an un. the most interesting portions of the story. broken front on critical divisions, and, Here and there in the emasculated record more precious than all, a loyal and united there are slight hints of the frame of mind comradeship on the Treasury bench. in which Sir Stafford approached his
Much worse things befell him in the diary. On the roth of June, 1885, Mr. closing chapter of his life which opened Gladstone resigned, having been defeated with the Parliament of 1880. At the gen. on Sir Michael Hicks Beach's amendment eral election the Conservative party had to the budget. Lord Salisbury, after some received a crushing blow, and the whirli- hesitation, decided to take office, albeit in gig of time once more brought Mr. Glad- a minority. On the 13th of June Northcote stone on to the Treasury bench with writes in his diary: a majority greater than ever. Stafford Northcote took up the leadership of the
this evening told me of the wish of the opposition, and at the outset decidedly
. With some of them it is a wish to get rid of
Carlton that I should go to the other House. scored. It is true, though now generally
With others it is anxiety for my health. forgotten, that he stumbled under compulsion into the position he assumed in Two days later Lord Salisbury proposed respect of the Bradlaugh incident. When, that he should take the post of first lord on the 3rd of May, 1830, the first working of the Treasury and lead the Cominons. day in the new Parliament, Mr. Bradlaugh On this there is a pathetic entry in the presented himself and claimed the right to diary, showing how nearly the wounded make affirmation, Lord Frederick Caven: heart had come to breaking. dish, on behalf of the government, moved the appointment of a select committee to I have [he writes) offered either to do this consider the matter and report. Stafford
or go to the Upper House, taking the India Northcote, as leader of the opposition, thinks best. I have not much heart in the
Office. I have offered to do whatever be seconded the motion, and it seemed at the
This has apparently been my last time as if the incident had closed in night in the House of Commons. I have sal orderly fashion. The committee was ap- in it rather more than thirty years, and it has pointed, met, and decided that Mr. Brad-I become part of my life.
As it turned out, he visited the House call, he died - the only dramatic personal once again, entering quietly from behind incident in a placid life. the speaker's chair at balf past four on the afternoon of the 19th June. His friends Stafford Northcote was a good man on the back benches caught sight of him rather than a great one. As Mr. Lang and raised a cheer. It was taken up below finely says in the introduction to his biogthe gangway, where at that time the Irish raphy, there were no shining peaks nor members, and the fourth party sat to- unfathomed depths in his mind; he was gether. From the benches which the Lib- especially equable. Equability is a great erals thronged, jubilant though defeated, gift in the House of Commons, which, applause burst forth, and for several mo. prone to be storm-tossed, likes to find a ments the House rang with cheers. This leader who stands unmoved. Mr. Disraeli was the parting farewell. Sir. Stafford had this gift, and Mr. Gladstone has it Northcote passed out never to return. not. Stafford Northcote, thanks to a genHe forthwith took his seat in the House tle nature and supreme sweetness of of Lords as Earl of Iddesleigh, bolding temper, had it in large degree. It was Cabinet rank with the honorable but not sometimes, in appearance, carried to com physically or mentally exhausting post of ical extreme; as, for example, when on an first lord of the Treasury.
early day in the session of 1880 he sprang He was practically shelved, and would on the House of Commons the amazing have been comparatively happy had his news of the dissolution. The secret had life now quietly ebbed out. When, how. been well kept. The leader of the House ever, the Conservative goveroment, allied appeared at the table, ostensibly to make with Lord Hartington's party, were con- an ordinary statement on the course of firmed in power after the general election public business. This duty he had disof 1886, Lord Iddesleigh, always ready to charged, and seemed about to resume his serve, accepted the Foreign Seals. Once seat when, as if it were an afterthought, more times were quieter, and if he had he added, “ Being on my legs, I may been left alone he had still another chance. state
Then came the stupendous. But the malign influence of the fourth news. party still pursued him. When, on the But equability is, after all, superficial. eve of Christmas, 1886, Lord Randolph Disraeli was equable and something more ; Churchill threw up his office as chancellor Northcote was equable, but there was of the exchequer and leader of the House something lacking; and wben storms of Commons, a reconstruction of the min. broke, his equability turned out to be istry became pecessary, Stafford North- painfully like weakness. He was prudent, cote was, as usual, promptly to the fore, experienced, suavely wise, but not strong. ready to sacrifice himself, if that were any An excellent pilot in moderately fair use to the party. It would have been bad weather, but, as was shown when the enough if his offer had been accepted in fourth party grew into full development, the usual form, and decent excuse made not the pilot who could weather the storm. in the public ear for getting rid of the As he once half humorously, wholly pafaithful servant of thirty years. As it thetically said, he was " lacking in go." happened, he, in common with the million The House esteemed him personally readers of the penny press, learned from liked him, probably beyond all others an outside source that his resignation had but, though he was nominally leader been accepted, and that his career was through three sessions, it was really never closed. No murmur escaped his lips. led by him. The news was confirmed in the afternoon He was in no degree a Parliamentary by a telegram from Lord Salisbury, fol. orator, though, as Disraeli once in converlowed by a letter received on the next sation with him shrewdly argued, that is morning. To this Lord Iddesleigh replied no disadvantage to a leader of the House that be cheerfully accepted the premier's of Commons. Disraeli's idea, which he decision.
certainly carried out in his own case, was In the next week he went up to London that the leader of the House should be, to pack up his papers at the Foreign not unable, but unwilling to speak. StafOffice. Thence he walked across Down- ford Northcote had a logical mind, and ing Street to see Lord Salisbury, doubt. was lucid alike in the arrangement of his less with intent to assure his noble friend argument and in its setting forth. But be that it was all of “no consequence.” was not what is known in the House of There, sitting in an anteroom waiting his I Cominons as an attractive speaker, much
less an orator. His abounding good sense | the memory of the great emperor, and also prevented him from essaying parts he was to the little marble statuette of bin on not qualified to fill. I do not remember the nursery chimneypiece. It stood with his closing any of his more important folded arms contemplating the decadence Parliamentary speeches with attempt at of France, black and silent and reproach. peroration. He just talked to the House, ful. France was no longer an empire, perhaps not without suspicion of prosi- only a kingdom just like any other counness, and when he came to the end of what try; this fact I and the cook bitterly re. he had to say, or found his audience yawn- sented. Besides the statuette there was ing, he stopped. He had a good voice, a snuff-box, belonging I know not to which in marked degree shared his charac. whom, that was a treasure of emotional teristic of equability. His gestures wbilst awe. It came out on Sundays, and somespeaking were few and mechanical. His times of an evening just before bedtime. principal one was imitated from the worst At first as you looked you saw nothing but in usage by Mr. Disraeli. Sometimes, in the cover of a wooden box ornamented by comparatively involved passages of his a drawing in browo sepia, the sketch of a speech, whilst thinking out his argument, tombstone and a weeping willow-tree, Mr. Disraeli had acquired a habit of pin- nothing more. Then if you looked again, ning his elbows to his sides, and waving indicated by ingenious twigs and lines out his open hands, as if he were splashing there gradually dawned upon you the fig. some one with water. Northcote picked up ure, the shadowy figure of him who lay this trick, and used to enforce his argu. beneath the stone. Napoleon, pale and ment with its inadequate assistance. sad, with folded arms, with his cocked
The House of Commons, to tell the hat crushed forward on his brow, the truth, did not particularly care for his mournful shade of the conqueror who had ordered speech ; but it had thoroughly sent a million of other men to Hades begauged his character, and held him in fore him. higher esteem and in warmer affection As we gazed we hated the English. tban, io his time, it has bestowed upon It is true I was very glad they always conmuch more brilliant men.
quered everybody, and that my grandpapa HENRY W. LUCY. was a major in the army; but at the same
time the cook and I hated the perfidious English, and we felt that if Napoleon had not been betrayed he would still have been
reigning over us here in Paris. From Macmillan's Magazine.
Every day we children used to go with MY PROFESSOR OF HISTORY.
our bonne to play around about the Arc I BEGAN life at five or six years old as de Triomphe near which we lived, and a fervent Napoleonist. The great em. where, alternating with ornamental roperor had not been dead a quarter of a settes, the long lists of Napoleon's batcentury when I was a little child. He was tles and triumphs were carved upon the certainly alive in the hearts of the French stone. The bonne sat mending stockings people and of the children growing up upon one of the stone benches which among them. Influenced by the cook we surround the arch, we made gravel pies adored his memory, and the concierge had on the step at her feet and searched for a clock with a laurel wreath which from shells in the sand, or when we were not some reason kindled all our enthusiasm. prevented by the guardian, swung on the
As a baby holding any father's finger I iron chaios which divide the inclosure had stared at the second funeral of Napo. from the road. We paid no attention leon sweeping up the great roadway of the whatever to the inscriptions, in fact we Champs Elysées. The ground was white couldn't read very well in those days. with new-fallen snow and I had never seen We hardly ever looked at the groups of snow before; it seemed to me to be a part statuary, except that there was one great of the funeral, a mighty pall indeed spread arm carrying a shield, and a huge leg like for the obsequies of so great a warrior. the limb in the Castle of Otranto which It was the snow I thought about, though haunted us, and which we always saw I looked with awe at the black and glit- though we tried not to see it. l. never teriog carriages which came up like ships remember being very light-hearted sailing past us, noiselessly one by one. laughing at my play up by the arch, a genThey frightened me, for I thought there eral sense of something grim and great was a dead emperor in each. This weird and strange and beyond my small ken im procession gave a strange importance to pressed itself upon me as we played.