Edward Frederick Leveson-Gower.

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Stood waiting for the Earl of Chatham.


Mr. George Rendel was an able and charming
man, whose friendship I greatly valued.

From Naples I went to Leocaspide, Sir James
Lacaita's country residence near Taranto. It is
a most captivating abode, situated in a vast plain
full of ravines, and carpeted with wild flowers,
with a distant view of the Calabrian Mountains
and with glimpses of the beautifully blue sea.
The house, which is built upon the ruins of an
old convent, had an imposing appearance as I
approached it, looking like some important public
building. When I said this to Sir James he told
me that his friends called it " L'impostura!' It was
pleasant to lounge in the extensive loggia in
front of the house when warmed by the mid-day
sun, but at night it was bitterly cold, with only
feeble contrivances to warm it. The arrangements
were primitive and the life of the master patriarchal.
Part of his domain was formerly owned by his
family, which, to his great satisfaction, he was
able to repurchase. He said there was a farm in
the neighbourhood which belonged to a man who
was directly descended from some one bearing the
same name who possessed it in Cicero's time,
and is mentioned in that author's Letters. We
paid some formal visits to some proprietors living
on estates which they had also inherited from a
long line of ancestors. They rarely left their
homes, knew little of the outer world, and only
cared for their own domestic concerns. They
took 'no heed of the wars and revolutions which


had so constantly agitated their country, and
were chiefly anxious about the price of olives,
which varied so much in different seasons. One
day a large gathering of purchasers came to
Leocaspide in order to fix the price of the year's
crop. They argued about it a good deal, and it
was only after having been well feasted the whole
day that in the evening they made an offer which
the proprietor was ready to accept. This is a
primitive way of transacting business.

Sir James's career was a remarkable one. Bred
up to the law, he in early life became known for
his ability and great love of literature. Having,
moreover, charming manners, he was a great
favourite with the English colony at Naples.
Holding Liberal opinions, he became suspected by
the Neapolitan Government, who arrested him and
charged him with being a member of some
secret society. This he said he had never
been, although in his opinion, under existing cir-
cumstances, it would have been quite justifiable.
The only evidence brought forward against him
at the trial was a short note written by an English
lady which the police had found among his papers.
She had formed one of a party who, some time
before, had gone with Sir James on a tour in the
neighbourhood of Naples. It seems they had
agreed to call themselves a republic, as they would
have no leader, but every one was to have a
voice as to their plans. The expedition was en-
joyable, and the lady in the note referred to


merely suggested that they should get up another
" republic." His judges considered this conclusive
proof of his guilt. In vain he explained to them
the true circumstances. They would not believe
his story, and sent him to prison, where he
would probably have remained some years if his
friend. Sir William Temple, then our Minister at
Naples, had not induced the Government to
commute his sentence of imprisonment into one
of banishment. His subsequent life is well known
— how he settled in England, and how he became
the friend of Mr. Gladstone, who appointed him
his secretary on his expedition to the Ionian
Islands, and in subsequent years consulted him
much on Italian affairs. At the request of his
friend, the Duke of Devonshire, he undertook to
make a catalogue of the splendid collection of
books in the Chatsworth library. Ultimately he
was created a Senator of his native land. He paid
me several visits at Holmbury, where he was
always welcome, and was very happy, playing all
sorts of pranks with my son.

The last time I saw him was at Florence,
where I found him very ill. He asked me to
stay on with him, which I have since regretted
that I was unable to do, as I never saw him
again. I told him in the course of conversation
that my portmanteau had been opened in the
train from Rome and some of my things had been
stolen, and I asked him whether he knew any of
the directors of the railway, from whom I could


obtain redress ; upon which he confessed that he
was himself a director, but that he could not help
me. He had often urged his colleagues to adopt
some simple precautions against such robberies,
but they would do nothing. They evidently were
unwilling to interfere with what they considered
the proper perquisites of their employes.

My next move was to Athens, by way of
Brindisi and Corfu. I stayed some days in that
enchanting island. To call it fairyland is scarcely
adequate praise. Thence I went to Athens, where
I found my old friend. Sir Horace Rumbold, and
his agreeable wife. I have known him ever since
he and his brother, when children, ran about the
Paris Embassy. He did his utmost to make my
stay at Athens pleasant. He introduced me to
Monsieur Tricoupi, who was then Prime Minister,
with whom one evening I had an interesting
interview. He talked chiefly about English politics,
concerning which our views differed, but on all
subjects he seemed to me open-minded. The
Greeks were at that time sore because Mr. Glad-
stone had lately refused to take certain strong
measures which they desired. Monsieur Tricoupi
himself spoke in the most friendly tone about
England. He greatly admired Mr. Chamberlain,
who had just before been received with nearly
regal honours in Greece. He said he much
honoured any one who was ready to give up his
official position for the sake of his principles. I
agreed, but added that possibly personal ambition


miofht have been Mr. Chamberlain's motive. Many
will think his subsequent career has justified this

Sir Horace helped me in my sight-seeing, and
persuaded me to go to Nauplia, an expedition I
much enjoyed.

My next halt was Constantinople. To describe
it is beyond my ability, and is outside the scope
of these pages. All I will say is that no educated
person who has it in his power to go there
should omit to do so. Here again I met with
much hospitality. Our Ambassador, Sir William
White, had once come to Holmbury to meet Mr.
Gladstone in order to talk over Balkan afifairs.
It was then the question of the day, with
which Sir William was more conversant than
anybody. My first impression of him was un-
favourable. He arrived when dinner was nearly
over, having walked more than four miles from
the station in pelting rain, a boy carrying his
carpet-bag. He had refused to use the fly which
I had ordered to meet him because he thought
the charge was too high, and he left me under
the impression that my order had not been carried
out. I tell this story as a curious instance of the
tendency of many to act upon the maxim that if you
take care of the pence the pounds will take care
of themselves. But I would rather say, " Take
care of the pounds, and the pence will take care
of themselves." Many men will be generous in
large matters, but are very penurious in small


things. I have known well-to-do men who prefer
an omnibus to a cab in order to save a few pence.
I never heard Sir William blamed for stinginess,
but yet he was ready to walk nearly five miles in
drenching rain rather than pay the flyman a shilling
more than what he thought was his due.

Lord Westminster, the father of the late Duke,
occasionally gave away large sums of money, but in
trifles was ludicrously stingy. When one of his sons
entered the Navy he asked his father to give him
a watch. — " Why do you want one ? " — " Because
all the other middies have one." — " In that case
you do not need any, as you can always ascertain
the hour from them." — When building his house
at Fonthill, his architect complained that, after
having persuaded him in the morning not to spend
a thousand pounds uselessly, they had nothing
between them for dinner except one roast rabbit.
There were many similar amusing stories told of
his miserly proceedings. He would pay large prices
for pictures, but it made him unhappy. One of
his daughters once said to me — and she was not
joking — " My poor father is much vexed because
he has been tempted this morning to buy a picture
for a greater sum than he can afford."

His son, the late Duke of Westminster, was
a very different man. It is true that when we
travelled too^ether in India he was inclined to
follow his father's example. Although in delicate
health, he would not take a servant on account of
the expense, which made me take mine, who


attended upon him and nursed him in an illness.
His tips, too, hardly amounted to what was expected
of the son of one of the richest men in England.
But this disposition entirely changed, and as he
grew older he was noted for his munificent gifts.
In every respect generous, he spared neither
trouble nor money in assisting every deserving

To return to Sir William White. While at
Holmbury he was so natural and full of information,
and his conversation was so extremely interesting,
that before the conclusion of his visit we all got
to like him much. At Constantinople he received
me with open arms. He spoke feelingly of what
he owed to my brother with regard to diplomatic
promotion, saying that it was in consequence of
his having sent him on a temporary Mission to
Constantinople that he held the post he then
occupied. He procured me facilities for sight-
seeing ; he gave me luncheon every day, and
organised picnics to Therapia and the islands.
He also drove me to the Sweet Waters, where
the Turkish ladies were not sufficiently veiled to
prevent our seeing their lovely black eyes, which
he said beamed upon us in consequence of the
presence of his chasseur on the box of our carriage.
I never dined with him, as he only gave official
dinners, a sensible plan for an overworked
diplomatist. I did not lose by it, as Sir Drummond
Wolff, who was at Constantinople on a special
Mission, asked me to dine with him every day.


and twice invited me to large banquets at the
Club. He was very entertaining, and we became
great friends in spite of the persistent attacks he
had made on my brother in the House of Commons,
which I looked upon as being only in the way
of business.

The kindness shown me by the various diplomats
I came across during this tour was very gratifying,
althouoh I knew it was a Q-ood deal owinsf to the
regard which they entertained for my brother, who
had been for so many years their Chief. Besides
those I have already mentioned were my cousin,
Sir Frank Lascelles, at Bucharest, Mr. (now Sir
William) Barrington at Pesth. Mr. Phipps at
Vienna, and last but not least, Sir Edward and
Lady Ermyntrude Malet at Berlin. Frank Las-
celles boarded me and would have lodged me, had
his furniture all arrived from his last post, Sofia.
Barrington shared his small apartment with me
and took me about everywhere, introducing me
to various notable Hungarians, amongst whom were
the orator, Count Appony, and Professor Vambery.
The latter has passed his life in trying to bring
about a quarrel between England and Russia, a most
mischievous endeavour, although perhaps natural
in a Hungarian. At Berlin I spent a whole week
at the Embassy, which gave me time to see the
principal sights of that interesting but unattractive
town. The event of the week was the christening
of the infant daughter of my friend and relative,
Mr. Arthur Leveson Gower. It was a grand


affair, the Crown Princess and the Ambassadress
being Godmothers. Afterwards there was a
luncheon at the Embassy, at which I had the
honour of sitting next to Her Royal Highness,
who made herself very agreeable. I had previously
been presented to her in London at a small
afternoon party which my sister-in-law gave at
Alford House, where she was accompanied by
her husband and her son, the present Emperor.
He was then about fourteen years old, and ap-
peared to be a quiet and rather dull youth, an
impression which has been much belied by his sub-
sequent career.

After luncheon Lady Ermyntrude told me what
an effort it had been for the Crown Princess to
be present at it, as she had been informed that
morning for the first time of the serious nature
of her beloved husband's malady. But, on this
as on every other occasion, she never shrank
from performing anything she looked upon as a
duty. I met her several times afterwards, twice
at Homburor and once at Venice. The last time
I saw her she alluded to our meeting at Berlin,
and the painful circumstances in which it had

Sir Donald Currie in 1895 invited Mr. Gladstone
to accompany him in his newly-built steamer, the
Tantallon Castle, to witness the opening of the Kiel
Canal. He was good enough, at Mr. Gladstone's
instigation, to include me in the invitation. It was
a delightful expedition. The vessel was splendid,


the weather glorious, and the company agreeable
There were no ladies except the immediate rela-
tives and friends of Sir Donald and of his chief
guest. The party comprised several of my intimate
friends, but I only knew a few of the rest of my
shipmates. It was chiefly composed of Members of
Parliament, authors and artists, with whom I was
glad to become acquainted.

Our first destination was Hamburg, a fine town,
much improved since I was there on my return
from Moscow in 1856. We were hospitably
received by the principal merchants and citizens.
They gave us a banquet at which I sat next to
a pleasant lady, who had still some remains of
beauty. She asked me among many things
whether I had ever seen their Emperor. I told
her I had done so at a party at the Prince of
Wales's. — " Were you at a party at the Prince of
Wales's ? That was indeed an honour ! " — Not to
appear boastful, I explained that it was a large
garden party, to which many people were invited.
— "Still, a party at the Prince of Wales's!" —
I might have told her that His Majesty when
Prince of Wales had once done me the honour of
dining with me, but she would have certainly not
believed it. She informed me that she was going
to Carlsbad, and I asked her what took her there.
She replied, " My stomach," which sounds more
crude than had it been expressed in any other
language but English. What is insufferable in
this sort of banquet in Germany is that speeches


are made between each dish, a custom which I
cannot understand the Germans continuing.

At Hamburg Sir Donald proposed to Mr.
Gladstone that he should pay Prince Bismarck a
visit. This Mr. Gladstone declined to do, saying
that if invited he would be happy to go, but could
not propose himself. Sir Donald then asked me
and several others to accompany him and pay our
respects to the Prince at Friedrichsruhe. We all
consented. Impelled by curiosity to see a man
who had played so large a part in the history of
his country, I was glad to be one of the party,
although, having no great admiration for the Prince's
career, this was rather inconsistent.

We got as far as the porter's lodge, but no
farther. We were told that the Prince was asleep,
and that when he awoke our cards would be
given to him. We were from time to time, in
answer to our inquiries, assured that he was still
asleep, till the hour arrived for our return to
Hamburg. The next day the Prince wrote to
Sir Donald to express his regret that, owing
to the state of his health, he had been unable to
receive us. The newspapers on the same day
stated that he was perfectly well. Now which
excuse were we to believe — the sleep, or the state of
health ? This reminds me of what a young man in
Paris said to a charming lady who had got into
some scrape : " Ma c/iere, dites ce que vous voulez,
et nous vous croirons, p02irvu que cela soit toujours
la 7ncme chose ^ Prince Bismarck, however, the


following year sent a number of small oak saplings
to be distributed among the gentlemen who had
been good enough to call upon him the previous
year. My specimen now flourishes in a field in
front of my house.

From Hamburg we went to Copenhagen, which,
in spite of its historical associations, to my shame
did not interest me much. Its appearance in
comparison with most of the other Capitals in
Europe — to use a disagreeable epithet when
applied to individuals — is somewhat second-rate.

The King and several members of the Royal
Family came on board and were entertained at
luncheon, when Mr. Gladstone made a speech,
which was much applauded, but which I was too
far from him to hear. His Majesty seemed delighted
to meet our great statesman, who was always a
favourite with the Danish Court. The next day
what appeared to be the whole population was
allowed to inspect the ship. They came in crowds
and peered into every cabin, which made the place

Our next destination was Kiel harbour, which
was seen at its best, crowded with ships of every
description, men-of-war, merchant vessels and
yachts of all nationalities. The chief event was
the German Emperor's inspection of the different
fleets. There he stood, upright on the bridge of
his ship, quite alone and in an attitude which
betokened the monarch of all he surveyed. Some
of our company admired it, but I thought it a



trifle theatrical. At one time his vessel seemed
to be directed straight towards us, which made us
think he was coming to pay a visit to our aged
statesman, which would have been a graceful act
on his part ; but his ship suddenly altered her
course, and he went off^ as I was told, to see
some English friend who had come to Kiel in
his yacht.

There was little of an opening ceremony. At
least, all I saw were a few ships coming at long
intervals from a corner of the bay where the
entrance of the Canal was said to be.

We were desirous on leaving Kiel to go to
Stockholm, the only Capital in Europe which I
have never seen, but for some reason it could
not be managed. We went instead to the pretty
town of Gothenburg, which was all decorated with
green branches on account of some local festivity.
Our return home was prosperous, and we all
felt that we had made a most pleasant expedition.
There was much excitement among the passengers
when the news reached us at the mouth of the
Thames that the Liberal Government was out,
which was nuts to some but not to all.

About twenty years ago I met with a piece
of good fortune. The late Lord Armstrong, who
was then Sir William, proposed to me at the
suggestion of my friend, Lord Rendel, to join
the Board of Directors of his Company. I joyfully
accepted his kind offer. Besides benefiting me
financially, it has given me the interest of watching


the marvellous development of this great concern
and the skill with which it has been brought
about. My relations with my fellow directors
both past and present have always been most
pleasant, and I have much valued their friendship.
Lord Armstrong himself I greatly esteemed, ad-
miring his modesty and unassuming manners, which,
considering his ability and successful career, were
very remarkable.

With regard to the business we are engaged in I
will only say that I abhor every war of aggression,
but consider it the duty of every Government to
be adequately prepared for defence. I once said
to the late Colonel Dyer that I should always
regret a war taking place, although it might be
to our advantage. He mildly observed, " Perhaps
you do not object to rumours of war."

Some years later Mr. Gladstone spent his last
winter at Lord Rendel's beautiful chateau at
Cannes. He went there in the hope that a change
of climate would be beneficial, a hope which
unluckily was not realised. He suffered severely
during his whole stay there.

Lord Rendel thought that it would do him good
to see some society, and with that object invited
several of his old friends, including myself, to
meet him. It was a sad visit, as it was so
distressing to see one to whom we were so much
attached endure so much pain. We saw a good
deal of him, as with the exception of breakfast
he was present at every meal. I do not know


how he passed his time before luncheon, but in
the afternoon he took a drive, and after tea and
in the evening lay down on a sofa, listening to
music, which soothed him. Several ladies played
to him by turns ; they were angels by the sick
man's couch.

Lord Rendel urged me to try and draw him
into conversation in the hope of distracting him
from his sufferings. I endeavoured to do so by
putting questions and suggesting topics, such as
in former years he so charmingly dealt with ; but
now, finding it only wearied and annoyed him, I
had to desist. The only conversation I had with
him was when he sometimes after luncheon asked
me to give him my arm whilst we paced up and
down a long passage, as it was his habit to do every
day. He then talked to me freely. He was
perfectly resigned, but his words were sad. More
than once he expressed the hope that all might
be over before the next day. When finally I took
leave of him he gave me his blessing, whilst he
added, ** We shall never meet again in this world."
His prediction turned out true, for although his
life of suffering was prolonged for a few months,
I never saw him again.

The weather during the whole of this visit was
enchanting — cloudless skies, glorious sunsets and
no mistral. With the exception of a few days
it has been much the same during the various times
I have visited Cannes. I have gone there every
winter, remaining never less than ten weeks, and


one year I took a villa for four months. No words
can describe the kindness I have always there met
with in nearly every quarter. A young man looks
upon the hospitality he receives as a matter of
course, but it is very different with an old man —
at least, it is so with me. I am grateful for the
welcome often given me by Lady Alfred Paget,
Lord and Lady Rendel, and Lord Glenesk at their
respective chateaux of Garibondy, Thorenc and St.
Michel, all in their different ways delicious abodes,
and I heartily thank them and many other friends
at Cannes for their constant goodness towards

Before concluding, I will, although with some
hesitation, venture to refer to the subject of
the authorship of Werner. In an article in the
August number of 1899 of the Nineteenth Cejitury
I maintained that my grandmother the Duchess
of Devonshire and not Lord Byron wrote that
drama. It is a startling statement, but is borne
out by undeniable facts. I shall not here repeat
the substance of my article, but am convinced
that most people who take the trouble to read
it will arrive at the same conclusion about it.
Mr. Hartley Coleridge, the editor of Byron's
Poems in Mr. Murray's edition of his Works, deals
with my article in his notes to Werner. He does
not answer my arguments, but disbelieves my story
for the two following reasons. The first is that
there is ample proof that Byron just before its
publication informed his entourage that he was


busy writing Werner. Surely if he contemplated
publishing as his own a poem written by some one
else, he would be anxious to make people believe
that it was his own production. You would not
say that the innocence of a man suspected of some
offence was proved by his having told his friends
that he had not committed it. The second reason
is on account of the parallel passages which are to
be found in Werner and in the works of Byron.
But this does not disprove my case, as Byron may
have inserted, and probably did insert, some lines
of his own in the original poem. Moreover, the
argument derived from parallel passages as to the
identity of authorship is not reliable, or else we
must believe that Bacon wrote the works of
Shakespeare, as so many parallel passages are to
be met with in their writings.

Byron did, at an earlier date, write the first act
of a drama founded on the plot of Werner. The
copy of it, in his handwriting, was mislaid in his
lifetime, and was only found the other day by Mr.
Murray. I wish Mr. Coleridge had printed it in

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Online LibraryEdward Frederick Leveson-GowerBygone years; → online text (page 20 of 21)