Edward Frederick Leveson-Gower.

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me to go there, and to remain as many days as
suited me. He could hardly imagine my taking
up my quarters at his house during his absence.
I was much opposed to him in politics, but I
considered that England owed him a debt of
gratitude for his having at the time of the American
Civil War refused to countenance the mad pro-
posals of many of his supporters to take the part
of the South, which, had he encouraged it, might
possibly have happened. The most discreditable
incident in his career was his running the risk of a
war with Russia in order to uphold one of the worst
governments that ever existed, and which had just
before been engaged in the indiscriminate massacre
of men, women, and children in Bulgaria. This
war might have taken place if it had not been
averted by Mr. Gladstone in his splendid Mid-
Lothian campaign. Lord Beaconsfield's chief
merits were audacity and unrivalled power of
sarcasm ; his chief defects, unreality and want of
principle. " You must admit," a conspicuous
member of the Conservative party said to me just
before Lord Beaconsfield left for the Berlin
Congress, " that he is a consummate actor." I


occasionally met him in country houses and also at
Grillions Club. He did not strike me as very agree-
able. He was often silent, and when he spoke he
was stilted and his remarks were apt to be forced.
De mortuis nil nisi donum is a good rule to observe
just after the death of a conspicuous person, but
the truth should later be told.

My life during the four years after my dis-
appointment in being unseated for Derby on
petition was uneventful. I gradually gave up
my profession of the law and passed my time
in amusing myself I frequently went abroad,
which a young man writing home described as
" that horrid place," and I paid several visits to
Paris, where I did not go out much into society,
but chiefly passed my time at the theatres and
the Cercle de 1' Union. Our Ambassador, Lord
Cowley, presented me at the Elysee to Louis
Napoleon when he was President of the Republic.
His appearance was not prepossessing, with a
stumpy figure, fishy eyes, and an inexpressive
countenance. This was the only time I ever
approached him. After the coup d'etat I persistently
refused the Ambassador's kind offers to obtain for
me invitations to the Tuileries, because I had no
wish to shake hands again with one who, since
our first interview, had been guilty of that criminal
act. I was not however actuated by the same
motives which made Mrs. Huskisson, the wife
of the statesman, wish to go to Paris during the
Peace of Amiens, in order that, by not asking to


be presented to the great Napoleon, she might
show him her disapproval of his conduct.

One of the worst consequences of the coup d'etat
was the attempt to suppress public opinion, not
only in the press but in private life. Previously,
animated discussions were carried on every after-
noon at my club by a number of members sitting
in a circle. Afterwards the police interfered, and
over every chimney-piece was affixed, " A" z on ne
park pas politique " — an injunction so far obeyed
that the general discussions ceased, although
members talked politics to one another.

Many years later I again saw Louis Napoleon
at a distance at a magnificent ball given by him at
the Tuileries in honour of the various sovereigns
who came to Paris at the time of the Exhibition of
1867, which I attended at the request of my young
nephew, the present Earl Brownlow, who was
anxious to go. I then caught the only glimpse
I ever had of Bismarck, who was following in
the suite of his master, and I was struck by his
commanding appearance.

During one of my visits to Paris I made the
acquaintance of Mademoiselle Rachel. I afterwards
met her in London, I thought her charming, but
only saw her when she assumed the manners of
une gra7ide dame, which she did to perfection.
But I fancy that in all her phases she must have
been very attractive. Not long after I got to
know another much less gifted individual, but who,
having captivated a king, upset two Ministries, and

1846-50] LISMORE CASTLE 117

brought about a revolution in Bavaria, was entitled
to be looked upon as celebrated. This was Lola
Montez. After her flight from Munich she came
to London, and lived in a small lodging-house
in Half-Moon Street, to which she invited a few
men, including myself, to go in the evening. She
had lost much of her good looks, but her animated
conversation was entertaining. Soon afterwards
she left London and resumed her career of adventure,
which only ended with her life. I was an en-
thusiastic admirer of Madame Grisi, and I was
delighted at being invited after a concert given in
Paris to remain for supper, at which she was
present. But I was rather disenchanted when I
saw with what dexterity the divine Norma con-
trived to eat her food with her knife instead of
her fork.^

In the autumn of 1849 I paid a visit of six
weeks to my uncle, the Duke of Devonshire,
at Lismore Castle. His chief motive for going
there was, I fancy, to alleviate by his expenditure
the poverty resulting from the previous calamities
of famine and disease, and to cheer the people
by his presence. But it was also the sort of
life he particularly enjoyed. To make people
happy and to be surrounded by a grateful crowd
of adorers gave him supreme delight. There
was a perpetual round of amusement — dinners,
concerts and balls. People came from very long
distances to attend them. They are, or at least

' Norma was one of her favourite parts.


they were, different from what similar country
entertainments would be in England. Country
neighbours in England usually come to such parties
to show that they have been invited and not to
enjoy themselves ; they enter the room arm in
arm, and, being self-conscious, cast frightened looks
around them. In short, they are only happy when
the moment of departure arrives. But how different
it is in Ireland ! There the guests come in order to
enjoy them.selves. They at once fall into groups,
and enter into lively conversations with their
friends ; and shyness, that offspring of vanity, is
unknown to them. Moreover, the women were
mostly pretty and the men full of fun.

I own it surprised me that the Irish, so soon
after the dire calamities which had afflicted their
country, could be in such good spirits ; in that
respect they somewhat resembled the French, who,
in the midst of their fearful Revolution, contrived
to be merry.

During the famine and the dreadful mortality
that followed it every effort was made on my
uncle's estates to help them. It seems curious
that Arthur Young in his book about Ireland,
whilst discussing the question of the cultivation
of the potato, says that, whatever its drawbacks,
it had the great merit of being a crop that never
failed. The total failure in the 'forties proved
how much he was mistaken, and it is remarkable
that ever since potatoes have been liable to


The Irish are generally supposed to be excep-
tionally superstitious, and I am inclined to believe
that this is the case. Not long ago I sat at a
dinner party by the side of a distinguished Irishman
with whom I was not previously acquainted. In
the course of conversation I observed that it was
strange that so able a man as Mr. Parnell should be
influenced by silly superstitions — that he would not
sleep in a room with the number thirteen affixed
to it, and that he had a Bill re-drafted because
it had thirteen clauses. Upon which my neighbour
said it was not strange, as Mr. Parnell was an
Irishman, and all Irishmen believed in such things.
— "But do you?" — "Certainly. Nothing would
persuade me to be one of thirteen at a dinner-
party." — I looked round the room and saw that
we were thirteen. I called his attention to the
fact and advised him to go away. — " Alas," he said,
"it is too late. If you have once sat down, you
cannot by leaving avert the impending calamity."
Then he looked at the bill of fare and added :
" Besides, I see that an excellent dinner is in store
for us, so I think I shall stay." — I do not know
whether any serious consequences followed that
dinner. Every one ate heartily, so possibly some
of the guests suffered in consequence.

It is marvellous how credulous some people are ;
for instance, how many Protectionists are led to
believe that valuable commodities introduced into
a country impoverish it. It is still more so that
so many are convinced that a card-player can


improve his luck by turning round his chair, or
by sitting opposite the hinges of the table, or by
calling for a fresh pack of cards, and that if a
marriage takes place in May it will prove a failure.
This last superstition is very general, as may
be seen in the list of weddings that appear in the
columns of the Times in that month — an average
of about two a day, whereas in other months the
average is about twenty. The only reason I have
ever heard for this superstition is that June follows
May — that is, Sir Francis Jeune.^ I do not know
whether this superstition prevails among the
masses. If it does not it shows that in this respect
they are wiser than those who consider themselves
their superiors.

The following is a quotation from a journal my
uncle wrote for me at Lismore during my absence
in India, which takes the same view as I do of
Irish society :

" I arrived here on November ist, 1851. A
week at Lismore goes like an hour anywhere
else. My neighbours throng to see me, and all
are admitted. They have got a natural bonhomie
and a want of pretension that makes them very
captivating, never wanting to appear what they
are not. I think their affairs and prospects are less
gloomy, and they are always gay."

I will extract from the same journal an account of
a singular instance of the vicissitudes of fortune :

" Mrs. Connor, the widow of an Agent employed
here, had three nieces born and brought up in

' Late Lord St. Helier.


the lowest sphere of Irish life. They lived in a
rude cabin on the rocky coast between Ardmore
and Grange, where they used to serve food and
whisky to the smugglers and frequenters of the
paternal roof. The beauty of the two eldest was
remarkable, and one became Countess of Barrymore
the other Duchesse de Castries. The Duke was
an old ^migr(^, whose poverty she shared in London.
She was rather gay, but always devoted to him,
and when the Bourbons returned to Paris she
found herself grande dame in the Hotel de
Castries. Her son appeared to me afterwards to
be one of the most distinguished of the young
Frenchmen of the day. But the third sister's
history is still more strange — a small, half-witted
cripple about three feet high, supported, I believe,
by family contributions and living in a small abode
here at Lismore. She is apparently cared for and
attended by a Mrs. Gurley, who looks like a
retired housekeeper or lady's maid, and who
watches over the baby of seventy, relates her
sayings, is enchanted with her eccentricities and
contrives a happy existence for her. The little
blear-eyed creature is grateful. She is proud of
a miniature over the chimney-piece of a lady in
pink feathers, representing one of her sisters. She
says that if Aunt Connor was alive she would be a
good deal at the Castle. With a few coloured child's-
books of prints I caused her as much joy as chests
of jewels might have given to her titled relations."

Here is another extract from the Duke's journal
concerning the visit of his niece to Lismore :

''November I'jtk. — The Duchess of Sutherland
and her beautiful daughter Constance ^ are to arrive
here to-day. They will come in the dark between

1 Engaged to be married to Lord Grosvenor (the late Duke of


seven and eight o'clock. If the illuminations of
this old Castle should be as fine a sight as I expect
there can never be anything more imposing than
their arrival by the Glen of the Onnashad."

The Duke of Devonshire also inserts a copy of
the following letter which the Duchess on this
occasion wrote to her mother, Lady Carlisle :

" It was dark soon after Cahir ; it is wild and
anxious driving. The post-boy was off once,
twice the traces broke. At some distance from
this place an outrider met us and a running
footman, who with a lantern displayed the worst
part of the road, where he said a man and horse
from Tipperary had rolled down. There was little
life left in me except that which made me con-
scious there was some danger. When, emerg-
ing from darkness, there was suddenly a vision
so bright and beautiful. It was gone and ap-
peared again. How shall I tell you of it : an outline
which looked like Heidelberg, every window bathed
in light. The effect of the light among the ivy
and the grey old walls was beautiful, and at the
door that dearest, greatest Duke, that most puis-
sant Prince, your own, kindest brother. I cannot
say how touched I was at his giving us this
beautiful thing to see, I am only grieved that more
did not see it. The whole population was out,
and we crossed the bridge amidst great cheering
and then entered the Castle of Lismore."

The Duke also quotes the following note, which
his niece wrote to him after her departure :

" I must not leave Ireland without telling you again
and again how much my heart swells when I think
of you. It is not only in the County of Waterford
(where people told me they could not stop short
of loving you), but here in this neighbourhood


your more than kindness, your great hospitality,
your warming coolnesses and healing feuds are
known and felt as they should be."

"This was written from Carton,"^ adds the
Duke, " where she said Lord Otho - ought not to
have looked surprised when she told him of her
having danced. And so he ought not, for though
this lovely grandmother of twelve children is
growing rather large, she moves with such dignity
that nothing can have better appearance than her
dancing. She saw a pretty ball here of 125 of my
best neighbours, who one and all were in raptures
with both mother and daughter. The former retains
a freshness and a bloom of youth which are quite

When my brother in 1851 succeeded Lord
Palmerston at the Foreign Office he appointed me
his precis-writer. I was glad to serve under him,
and should have been still more so if I could have
been of any use to him, but I found my duties
decidedly irksome, as they consisted in copying a
number of dry despatches, chiefly concerning the
Schleswig-Holstein question, which neither I nor
indeed many Englishmen could unravel. I shudder
to think that the two principal Liberal statesmen
of the day. Lord Palmerston and Lord John
Russell, should have strongly advocated our
engaging on behalf of Denmark in a war with
Germany. We were saved from this calamity by
the good sense of the rest of the Cabinet, backed
up by Queen Victoria and her husband.

^ The residence of the Duke of Leinster.

^ Lord Otho Fitzgerald, the second son of the Duke of Leinster,
who afterwards married Lady Londesborough.



" II y a des p6riodes du passe qui me semblent des songes. Je
ne puis croire quelquefois que je sois celui qui ait fait ceci, ait
6t6 1^." — Jacquemont, Correspondance pendant son voyage dans

1 CANNOT undertake to recapitulate the momen-
tous changes which have taken place in India
since I visited it. The record of all the improve-
ments, as described by the late Sir William Hunter,
is one of which Englishmen may well be proud.
The blessings we have conferred on the inhabitants
of that vast dominion entitle us to their gratitude,
and I hope are more and more recognised by them.
The facilities of travel in India are now in-
finitely greater than they were fifty years ago.
There were then no roads except in the neighbour-
hood of large towns. During the greater part of
our journey we were carried by men in palanquins,
which were called " palkees," or we rode on horses,
or sometimes on camels or elephants. There were
no inns, only rest-houses, which afforded nothing
but shelter. On the other hand, we were hospit-
ably received in the houses of Europeans, even


1850-51] OPINION OF INDIA 125

when we had no letters of introduction, and some
of our hosts were men who had distinguished
themselves in various capacities. There were then
few tourists in India, and strangers fresh from
England, who interrupted the monotony of Anglo-
Indian life, were welcome guests. We were also
treated with much civility by some of the native
grandees, who were perhaps stimulated thereto by
hearing of the rank and wealth of one of our

On my return to England I had some talk with
Lord Canning, who was not then aware that he
would be ever called upon to govern India, but
already took a great interest in that country.
Among other questions he asked me whether I
was in favour of the annexation of Oude, I replied
that I did not know enough of Indian politics
to form an opinion, but from what I had seen of
the condition of the inhabitants of Oude, as
compared with that of the people in our own
territories, and having witnessed something of the
disreputable Court at Lucknow, I could not help
wishing that its annexation might be decided on.

The impression I derived during our rapid
journey through a great portion of India was that
the people did not suffer from such abject poverty
as in many places in Europe. This, of course,
chiefly arises from their easier conditions of life,
no fuel being needed except for cooking, food
being inexpensive, the need of clothing slight, and
very little required in the way of a house. " Man


wants but little here below " applies much more to
them than to the inhabitants of colder regions.

There is a theory of much importance with
regard to the future prospects of India put forward
by the late Duke of Argyll, the late Sir William
Hunter and other men of ability, which I cannot
accept. They held that such calamities as war,
epidemics and famine acted as checks to popula-
tion, and that the mitigation or cessation of those
evils under our rule has brouQ^ht about its undue
increase and thereby impoverished the people.

I cannot conceive a more dreadful notion than
the one that the better you govern a country the
more wretched it will be, and that such terrible
scourges as those I have mentioned are blessings
in disguise. This would lead us, as a logical in-
ference, to relax all efforts to overcome them.

Luckily this theory is erroneous and founded
on a mistaken view of the laws which regulate
the growth of population. This growth follows
the increase of the means of subsistence, and
does not precede it. As the population of India
has of late years greatly increased, there must
have been great increase of production, and such
has been the case. The main causes of this
increase have been improved cultivation, extensive
systems of irrigation, conversion of jungle into
arable land, and, in a less degree, the destruction
of wild beasts throughout most parts of the country,
not to mention the construction of railways and
the great increase of trade and manufactures. The


consequence has been that the condition of the
cultivators, bad as it is, has to a certain extent
been improved.

Sir James Caird, who in 1879 was sent to
India to inquire into the matter, reported that
he could see no improvement in the condition
of the people, but did not assert the contrary.
The Indian Government, however, were not satis-
fied with his report, and appointed a Commission
to consider it, who came to the conclusion that
on the whole the people were slightly better
off Every one connected with India whom I
have consulted on the subject has without ex-
ception confirmed this opinion. The late Sir
William Hunter, however, doubted it. He held,
in common with our earlier economists, that the
most fertile land is always that which is first
cultivated, whereas, as the American economist
Carey long ago proved, it is as a rule the least
fertile. This disposes of the idea that as population
increases production must proportionately diminish.
Sir William also believed that population increases
spontaneously, independently of any increased
production. It was these two views, which I
hold to be erroneous, that gave him misgivings
about the future welfare of India.

I believe with Malthus that any undue en-
couragement of population, whether by bad
customs or bad laws, is mischievous, and my
further conviction is that in India, as elsewhere,
an increase of population, unless unduly promoted,


is in most cases a proof of increased prosperity
and not a cause of greater misery.

I must apologise for this economic digression,
which is hardly suited to this little book that
has no pretension to be of a serious character.
But ever since I travelled in India I have taken
so great an interest in its wonderful development
that I am tempted to try to attract public
attention to a question which is intimately con-
nected with its future destinies. It is certainly
a question which ought to be well threshed out,
and well considered by all who have any re-
sponsibility with regard to that country. I am
confident that those who will fully inquire into
the matter will come to the conclusion that peace,
health, and abundance — the results of good govern-
ment — are unmitigated blessings.

I will only add that I believe there is much
to be regretted in the past and the present govern-
ment of the country, and that many further
reforms are needed. I therefore give great credit
to those who are endeavouring to bring them about.
But I would urge them not to injure their cause
by exaggeration, or fail to recognise sufficiently
the wonderful achievements of the past.

The following account of my trip is an abridged
copy of the journal I wrote in India, and which was
addressed to my uncle, the Duke of Devonshire.

My mother accompanied me to Waterloo Station
on October 19, 1850.

1850-51] THE START 129

I got into an empty carriage, in which I left
so depressed, that I soon joined Mrs. and Miss
Gore, who were in the same train, on their way
to a villa on Southampton Water. Their society
succeeded in cheering me. Miss Gore was very
agreeable and gay. She had been told I was
going to India without clothes or companions.
I assured her I was well provided with both.
She warned me against falling in love with an
Indian widow. This was a danger about which I
felt foolhardy. I dined with them that evening at
the Dolphin Inn.^

I found at Southampton my two companions,
Grosvenor" and Frank Egerton,^ as well as F.
Fitz-Roy,"^ who had been appointed aide-de-camp
to Sir William Gomm,^ and Euston,^ who had come
to see us off The leave-takings on board were
a painful sight. Mothers crying and in hysterics
at parting with the sons they would not see again
for years, and fathers struggling with their tears.

^ Mrs. Gore was a popular authoress, who produced more than
fifty novels. The public got rather tired of them, when she published
some anonymously and the interest in them then revived. Her
daughter had great success both in Paris and London, and had
most of the young men at her feet, to the discomfiture of other young
ladies, or rather of their mothers. She was not decidedly pretty, but
had a beautiful figure with a slim waist. Her mother was plump,
and they were nicknamed Plenty and Waste. Miss Gore soon after
married Lord Edward Thynne, who had a great charm of manner
but did not turn out an ideal husband. When above sixty he ran
away with another man's wife.

* Earl Grosvenor, the late Duke of Westminster.

^ The late Admiral the Hon. Francis Egerton, brother of the second
Earl of Ellesmere.

■* Lord Frederick Fitz-Roy, son of the fifth Duke of Grafton.

^ A Peninsular and Waterloo veteran ; made Field Marshal in 1868,
and Governor of the Tower from 1872 to 1875.

^ The Earl of Euston, afterwards sixth Duke of Grafton.


We started at half-past eleven. I looked out
with the telescope for Miss Gore, and saw her in
her garden waving her pocket-handkerchief.

Later we passed close by a small yacht. I
afterwards learnt that it was Godolphin's, and
that he was in it. There were several officers
on board our ship, with whom we soon made
friends. I was glad to get F. Fitzroy to share my

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Online LibraryEdward Frederick Leveson-GowerBygone years; → online text (page 8 of 21)