Final Entries – 1882
This page continues in narrative form after the final entry of the weblog version of The Diary of Lady Lucy Cavendish. It contains her account, and that of her sister, of the events surrounding her husband’s murder in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland.
LONDON, Saturday, April 29th, 1882.-I called for my Fred, as so often, at the Treasury, to go off for one of our happy “Sundays out.” He was greatly disturbed at the political state of things. Ld. Cowper’s resignation of the Ld. Lieutenancy was out. Ld. Spencer to succeed. There was the question to be decided whether or no to release the Parliamentary “suspects” from Kilmainham Gaol, and there was also the likelihood of Mr. Forster’s resignation. The Coercion Act expires next Sept., and long ago F. told me it wd have to be settled before the end of the session whether it shd be renewed or what shd be substituted for it. Some little time ago there was a marked symptom of a change of mind among the Parnellites. Mr. Redmond, one of the most violent, moved to bring in a Bill which amounted to a recognition of the Land Act, being a Bill for dealing with arrears. Uncle W. said that the suggestion was quite one for discussion. It was well known that Parnell was virtually the author of this; and it was at once pointed out by some of the papers that it wd be strange to discuss proposals as fit to be considered by Parliament when their prime mover was in prison. Parnell was put in prison for defying the Land Act when it had become the law of the land, and for inciting the people against it. Now that he seems willing to recognize and amend it he is changing his course. Uncle W. went this Saty., with Atie. P., to St. George’s Hill; and we heard aftds that on Sunday he there received, under cover from Forster, a letter from Parnell, through [FN: The word ” through ” is not in the original.] Mr. O’Shea, an M.P. friend of his, Parnell’s, own, to say that if, as he understood was likely, Govt. meant to bring in a Bill for dealing with arrears of rent, by way of gift, all possible excuse for outrage wd be removed, and the Irish party would support law and order. Atie. P. told me, that on getting this information Uncle W. greatly rejoiced, saying it looked like a “surrender” on Parnell’s part “all along the line”; and wd, as proving that he meant to take a new and law-abiding departure, justify the release of him and his friends. All these months they have been imprisoned without trial-a state of things most deplorable, and which the Tory papers have lately been very strong against. It is, Uncle W. thinks, for Govt. to put an end to such a humiliating anomaly as soon as ever they are satisfied it can be safely done. Of course we only knew all this later. We went from Liv. St. to Waltham Abbey, and thence drove to Warlies, Sir Fowell Buxton’s pretty place, close to Epping Forest. Wild gale and rain all the afternoon and night. We found at Warlies Sir F. and Ly. Victoria Buxton and many children; Granny’s old friend Lady Gainsborough, and a Mr. and Mrs. Noel.
WARLIES, 3rd Sunday after Easter, April 30th, 1882.-Our last Sunday and such a beautiful and happy one. F. busy, but he did not dwell on anxieties. We walked to a little school for Morning Service, and the simple village services suited my Fred: I noticed he sang everything, in his funny monotone, which he never did unless he was enjoying the service. After luncheon we had a long and lovely walk about Epping Forest: Sir Fowell pointing out to us the clearings and improvements and the beautiful openings and distant smiling views. Weather perfect. We went to the spot where the Queen was to be received the following Saty and to declare the Forest open to the people. I interested Sir Fowell in the notion of enabling the Woodford patients to see something of the ceremony. Came in to tea, and to a little sit together upstairs, when I read to my Fred a few pages of a fine sermon of Scott Holland’s on the Sufferings of Christ.
We both drove with Ly. Victoria for Evensong to Waltham Abbey. The Rector preached on the “Revised Version.”
LONDON, May st, 1882. May Day.-We came back to London in time for me to go to church at S. Andrew’s at 11 : H.C. Drove with Atie. P. as usual to the Lon. Hosp. She was much excited about the crisis. Did not tell me much, but I gathered that Mr. Forster, tho’ he had highly approved of Spencer’s appt. to succeed Ld. Cowper (indeed had almost suggested it), seemed suddenly taken aback at finding Spencer strong for Uncle W.’s views (i.e., in favour of the release of the M.P.). When we got home, she asked Eddy Hamilton at Downing Street if he cd tell her what decision the Cabt. had come to. He told her nothing had been settled and Uncle W. had gone to the House. I found aftds that Forster had held out agst the release, and that there was to be a final effort this evening to bring him round. Meriel came to tea with me (also Atie. P.), and was pleased to see me in my brown velvet gown. D. in Bry. Sq.[FN: 9 Bryanston Square, the house of her father’s widow.] F. coming in late, and going back to the House after dinner. I think I sat by Mr. Lowell. [FN: James Russell Lowell, American Minister in London.]
LONDON, Tuesday, May 2nd, 1882.-There was a Cabinet. Mr. Forster’s resignation announced in the House by Uncle W. In the H. of Lords the 3 things (all unexpected by the Peers) were given out together: the release of the suspects, the non-renewal of the Coercion Act (to be accompanied by strengthening of the ordinary law-N.B. [FN: These words from “N.B.” to “Crimes Act” were added later.] this of course meant the Prevention of Crimes Act), and the resignation of Mr. Forster. Mrs. Grenfell came to tea with me, and we wondered who wd succeed him. I saw nothing of my Fred till dinner-time. We dined with the Miss Hollands in Brook Street, and on the way there he told me his name was among those to be considered for the Chief Sect. ship. He was much disturbed, and I was very much vexed, hating his being taken out of what he was doing so well, and wishing it could be Caysh., who had done so well before as Ch. Secy. along with Spencer. At dinner I sat by a young _____ [FN: Blank in original.]; Mr. Lowell was opposite me. There was some talk of the action of the American Govt. in demanding the release of American suspects, but I didn’t otherwise hear much said about Irish matters. The Dundases were there, and aftds Alice told me that when we were gone there was a talk as to who wd succeed Mr. Forster, and she said, “Perhaps Lord F. C.” My Fred went back to the House soon after dinner.
Wedy. morning the 3rd he was in a great worry-said he must go over to Ld. Granville and put before him his “disqualifications,” and make him weigh the question of Cavendish being the better appt. He felt sure that if Cavsh. were satisfied that Uncle W. really wished him to go he wd go. But Uncle W. did not wish it-he thought Cavsh. “too big a man”-in a position that wd make it very awkward for both him and Spencer to take such an office. It would also be a serious hindrance to his future career which if he lives must be the Prime Ministership, for him to take an office now which is so almost inevitably one of odium and failure.
F. came back from Ld. G. saying he had vainly represented to him “disqualifications.” “I told him I had no tact, no real knowledge of Ireland, no powers of speaking.” But Ld. G. wouldn’t hear of all that. F. then went off to the Treasury, and about 2 o’clock I got a little note from him (the last) saying, “From what Godley tells me, I think all personal danger is over.” (The post had been offered to Mr. Porter, the Irish Attorney-General, who declined. [FN: Added later.]) For a moment I felt a little flat, for I had strung myself up to the thought, and knew well he was equal to the task. But very soon I felt glad and relieved. There was the Woodford Home Ann. Cttee. at No. 21; Atie. P. came to it, and it lasted till late. She was still with me at 6 when F. came into the room and said, “Well, I am in for it.” We had a little talk, but we were all hurried, and of course he made the best of it before her. He said Spencer (who was going somewhere) wanted him to drive with him to the station, and I heard aftds that Charlotte said to F. (this was at the station Fri. night : she went to see them off), “What does Lucy think of it?” and that he answered, “0, she is as brave as possible, and has confidence in her husband, which is very odd.” I took Atie. P. to Gerty’s and then went to At. Coque: they were full of interest to know who wd be appointed, but I was to tell no one before the Queen had approved. I got home rather late, and Ld. G. came over and saw me in the study. He was most cordial-as strong as possible in favour of F.-said (I think) that all were agreed, that the Queen wd be much pleased, etc. He said, “When he told me he did not know Ireland, I said, ‘that is not true.’ ” (Indeed F. has been 2 or 3 times to Dublin lately on Treasury business, besides formerly on the Factory Acts Comm. and many times to Lismore, and has gained much information there.)
We dined at Sir John Lubbock’s: my poor Fred all along in great perturbation, but dwelling not at all on interruption of his congenial and most successful work at the Treasury, or on any other personal objection, but only on whether he could be the fittest man for such a difficult post. At dinner the length of the table was between us, so I heard nothing of the conversation at his end, but was told that he said to Mrs. Mulholland, “Don’t you pity Mr. Forster’s successor?” Or, “Whoever he is, I pity him.” I sat between Sir John and Mr. Chenery of The Times, so took care to avoid all talk abt Ireland. I spoke to Sir J. about the Closure and his hostility to the “bare majority” plan. Also we talked about Darwin, who has just been buried in Westminster Abbey. Ld. Aberdare was at dinner, and F. told me aftds that he was so kind and cordial (in spite of being now so dropped out of everything) that he cd not resist telling him of his appt. and that he was most warm about it. I had a good deal of talk with Ld. Aberdare upon girls’ schools and other educ. matters. I coaxed my Fred to come with me to the Downing St. party (he protested he had no gloves, but he came). There, he told some of his intimate friends and other political associates. Amongst others Lord Rosebery, who knew the appt had been offered him, said to him, “Are you going to your martyrdom?” Mr. Welby spoke to me, and said to me, “Be sure he takes out the very best man as Priv. Secy.-don’t let him do a kindness. He ought to have ‘the cob’ (i.e., Eddy Hamilton).” I said, “0, Mr. Welby, when Mr. Gladstone is to lose his right hand, wd you rob him of his front tooth too?” F. himself told Mr. Forster, who came up to me and just said in my ear in his gruff, kind way, “I am very glad of what I have just heard as to who is my successor.” I spoke to Mrs. Forster and said how very sorry I had been and how much I felt for her during all she must have gone thro’ lately; she, I found, did not know abt F.
Late in the evening I had a little talk with Uncle W. He looked at me with a curious deprecating expression, showing me he guessed that the appt was a blow to me. So I said to him, “Oh, Uncle W., we are both greatly flattered.” This pleased him and his face cleared up. He said something strong about his certainty that he had chosen the best man, then he said, “I don’t think you will find there will be more pressure on his time.” And then, “But what I am to do without him I can’t imagine.” Freddy walked home with Eddy and told him all about it-convincing him he had no alternative but to accept it as a call of duty: they walked up and down C.H.T. for some time and Nevy joined them: aftds Nevy had a good talk with F. and also was convinced it was right. F. sat up till 2 writing his election address. That night we did not talk much, but when he came to bed he said, “I know you have been praying for me.” My Fred was not restless, but in the morning he said to me, “It’s very odd-I don’t think I was worrying much, but I don’t think I slept a wink.”
LONDON, Thursday, May 4th, 1882.-After bkfast I opened his letters for him as usual. He had the draft of his address to the N.W. Riding ready, and we set to work at it, I writing out the fair copy. He knew I had a P.M.W. meeting to attend in Tilney St. at 11.30 and didn’t want to keep me, but I said, “I think this is of rather more consequence.” I arrived late at the meeting, and cd not explain why ; but said, “I appeal to all married ladies present whether, if one’s husband wants one, everything ought not to give way.” Ly. Selborne was there, and I just whispered the news to her as we came away.
After luncheon, I took Medgie Talbot to a concert at Grosv. House in aid of distressed Irish ladies (impoverished thro’ non-payment of rent). We came away before the end, because I thought I might hear the announcement of the appointt. in the House. When I got there, however, I found it had come out only thro’ Ld. R. Grosvenor moving for a new writ for the N.W. Riding. It was received, I heard, with great astonishment and indignation; no one having guessed it. But all this was over when I got there. A messenger came up to the Ladies’ Gallery to ask Atie P. if he might telegraph the news (I suppose to the papers). I soon went to George St. and found that Johnny had sent Meriel word. He came in himself by and bye, could not of course congratulate me. From his point of view, it was dreadful, sending any one out to carry out a changed policy; for he disapproves of the release of Parnell, etc.
We dined at Dev. House, my Fred coming in rather late. The poor Duke had hated the appt. (F. told him of it just before dinner on Wedy.); so much so that F. was much disturbed, and told me on Friday that he cd hardly have taken it if he had known beforehand how strongly his father wd object. His grounds, however, were hardly what ought to have outweighed the other considerations: he couldn’t bear to think of losing him so much from Holker, or seeing him undertake so thankless and odious a task. I said to F., “I don’t think these things ought to weigh too much with you, as you are now in public life and have to consider your duty as a public man; your father’s personal wish wd be to keep you all round him in the country.” But it troubled him sadly. I think he made time for a talk with his father this morning (Thursday).
The Duke said not one word agst it this evening. As he took me in to dinner, he said, “Well, I suppose it’s all settled. I hope it will do well.” Of course we talked of little else all dinner-time. Cav. and the Eddies, Frank and Lou dined. I had a talk alone with Lou aftds. I said to F., “I wonder if you will be called ‘Buckshot Freddy’?” He said, “Something worse, I dare say.” My Fred and I both talked to Emma abt the Ch. Secy’s Lodge and what sort of things I should have to do, and he told her they wd have to come and see us on their way back from Lismore.
F. went off early to see people. We settled plans for next week: Bp. Temple and B. were to dine with us Mon., and to dine with us at Dev. H. Tues. Wed. we were to have to meet them at dinner Sir R. Lingen, Mr. Welby, Arth. Godley. He came home late, and came straight up to our bedroom, in an agitated state, saying he had been greatly distressed about Uncle W. this evening-that for the 1st time he thought things were getting too much for him and had advised him to give up the Exchequer. (I think their talk was between 5 and 6.30.) The week had of course been frightfully trying (Cabinet on Tues.-“cabinet conclave” Wdy.-Mr. Forster’s resignation-the whole question of the release and also of the new Prevention of Crimes Bill-the losing F. from the Treasury and the difficulty of finding a successor. “And to make him quite comfortable,” said F., half laughing, “I had to tell him that I thought Courtney was the only man who wd do;” and Uncle W. had no particular liking for Courtney.) Then to-day there was a long Cabinet conclave, and F. found him much overwrought. I since heard from Atie. P. and Herbert how lovingly he spoke to F. himself and of all that he had been to him, especially these 2 years at the Treasury, where latterly F. has practically done all the detail work of the Ch. of the Exch. And Atie P. said F. broke down when she saw him afterwards. But this my Fred did not dwell on to me: he was so occupied about Uncle W. He told me he thought Uncle W. wd certainly give up the Exch. and that Mr. Childers had just told him that Cavsh. had accepted it. This much astonished F. and proved aftds to have been an unaccountable blunder of Mr. Childers. I found from Tallee aftds that F. went to Spencer H. after dinner and talked long with Althorp.
Thurs. night he slept all right, but on Fri. morning was still much disturbed. The last strong thing he said about his appt. was as we set out together abt 11.30 to walk across to Downing St.: he said, “The more I think of this business, the more sickening it is; to have to go at new Coercion.” I think it was in answer to this (perhaps not-more likely it was Wedy.) that I said to him very seriously: “If you really do think yourself incompetent for it, you ought to refuse; but if you can’t say that, then it must be your duty to accept.” I felt half afraid when he paused, lest he really shd feel he was incompetent: but with all his modesty, he had too just a judgment to say so. He answered “Well, as to that, I must let the others judge for me.” He knew what thorough means of judging Uncle W. and all his colleagues must have. We talked of plans, he thought he shd probably go to Dublin by the night mail, but was not quite sure: I was to order dinner early on the chance.
He said he thought we must both go to Dublin for Whitsuntide. (There have been many ups and downs this spring about Lismore: at one moment it was settled we shd go there with the Duke at Easter, but as we could barely have given 10 days the D. finally settled to go with the Eddys at Whitsuntide.) I was rather surprised, for I knew the Parliamentary holydays were to be only 5 days, and I said, “Oh dear, then we shd lose our little bit at Hagley ” (we had proposed ourselves to the Parsonage). He looked at me very gravely and said gently in reproof, “Oh, my little woman!” I said directly, “Oh, don’t think I am unwilling-I am ready to go at any time, only I thought there really would not be time.” He said, “Very likely we shall have to stay there after Parlt. meets.” During this bit of a walk, and once besides, he said to me, “It’ll be hard upon poor little woman to be all her autumn and winter in Ireland.” I said, “Why, Fred, I shall enjoy myself with you; and I daresay we shall have some nice bits at Hawarden.” I said, “Well, at all events to be Gov.-Gen. of India would be worse.” He said emphatically, “0 no!” He never said a word about its being hard on him, tho’ he loved Holker with all his heart. At the steps into Downing St. we saw Bobsey Meade going up before us. He avoided catching our eyes, and I said, “How shy he still is!” (since Lina’s death).
We parted in D. St. and I went off to see poor people in Westminster. All of them in consternation when I told them he was going to Ireland. At 1 I went to Spencer House. Tallee and Bobby were there, and, before Charlotte came down, Ly. Cowper came in. I was struck with her dreadfully sad, depressed look. She and Charlotte and I had a little talk. Ly. Cowper said, “I cannot congratulate you,” and spoke of the despairing state of things: the cold-shouldering of the gentry, the isolation. She said, however, that she had never fought shy of the people; had driven herself about in her pony carriage in Dublin shopping, etc., thro’ streets considered bad, and had never met with any rudeness. As I had no sight of Charlotte alone I settled to come again at 4.
About 3 I went to the Treasury to give up the key of the passage door which F. had given me when he was 1st appointed Financial Secy. My Fred was standing in the window in the corner of the room talking to Mr. Welby. It was a lovely day with sun streaming in, and he was looking quite cheerful and as if he had made up his mind. I made a little joke of delivering up my key to Mr. Welby, and said to him something of my anger at the unanimous scolding of all the press abt the appt. Mr. Welby said, “To get the good word of the papers you have to make up to them a little,” or words to that effect. This had certainly something to do with it; F. had never made time to cultivate editors and wd not have cared to do it: then his work, tho’ immensely useful, has been a good deal out of sight, and his not being a good speaker prevented his getting prominently “before the public”; but above all, the papers were all furious at having been on a totally wrong tack: Mr. Chamberlain was for some reason in almost all the papers. F. said, “The papers have never any good word for me.” I asked him if he was really going that night. He said, “Well, if I don’t I must send you word.” He was very anxious not to go yet if it could be avoided, wishing to wind up at the Treasury; but Spencer wanted him very much to go with him, and it depended on whether F. could be sworn in at once on arriving. (I found telegrams in his blotting-book at home aftds about the swearing in of both Sir Mich. Beach and Mr. Forster, which, I suppose, showed F. it could be done.)
At 4 I went back to Spencer House and had a delightful talk with Charlotte. She said it was the greatest possible pleasure to Spencer to have Freddy to work with; he knew how perfectly they wd feel together and how comfortable their footing wd be. For herself, tho’ she knew well what a serious state of things it was in Ireland, she said she cd not help liking to go: she knew all the ins and outs of the position and all the part she wd have to play, and had spent there 5 of the happiest and most interesting years of her life. I asked her much about what F.’s duties and position with regard to Spencer wd be, and about entertaining, etc. She told me how Spencer and Cavsh. used to meet every day at luncheon and talk everything over together. All seemed encouraging; we neither of us doubted that Spencer and Freddy wd make a good and hopeful start, and wd win confidence. She said we shd have to give dinner parties, and that she hoped we wd invite them, during the autumn.
I saw At. Coquitty, and catching sight of old Sir Math. Wilson going past their door, I ran out to him. He congratulated warmly. After this I went to see Kitty Clive, who was full of loving sympathy and interest. Tho’ at the other extreme of politics (especially as regards Ireland), she was always a little enthusiastic about F., thinking him like her husband in uprightness and single aim; she kept saying, “He is too good to be sacrificed.” We talked of what might have to be done to put down outrages and she was strong for taxing districts where bad things happened.
I did not get home till just before 7 and found F. there with Atie P., who soon left us together. He was very busy writing to Sir George Young, having told me before he had thought of him for his Private Secy. They had made great acquaintance on the Factory Commission, and F. thought him extremely able, and well-informed on Irish matters; his wife is a very clever Liberal Irishwoman. F. had written to him from the Treasury, begging him to call this evening at No. 21 and see him; but the letter was brought back, Sir Geo. being out of town. Accordingly F. had to offer him the post by letter, and he took immense pains over it (tho’ his dinner was waiting for him), saying it was a great favour to ask of a man in his position, and making me read the letter and tell him if I thought it careful and civil enough. It was “an appeal to his patriotism” which wd have moved anyone, and offered a high salary out of F.’s own pocket. Sir Geo. told me I aftds how gladly he consented to take the post under F., tho’ he would not for anyone else. He telegraphed acceptance to Dublin-the telegram was in my Fred’s pocket and I am glad he had the pleasure of getting it. The messenger was waiting for the letter; I stuck it up at dinner. The messenger asked F. to frank it, but he would not “because it was not sent from the office,” and pulled out 2 coppers instead.
As we sat down to dinner he showed me my copy of his Address, with some marginal corrections and additions in pencil by Uncle W. At first I did not recognise the hand. “What ! don’t you know it?” he said. I said, “Well, I think I shall keep this; it is historical.” We had a very cosy dinner: he was quite cheerful, and hungry. We talked of Mr. Forster’s explanation of his resignation-F. did not like the way he had spoken; also he told me with much pleasure of Mr. Givan, an Ulster man, having spoken warmly of the appt. after having 1st objected. Alfred came in late, not knowing we were dining early, and Nevy also came in to dress for dining out and just saw him. How glad I am they had this last sight of him; perhaps of all my brothers they were the two he has always very specially loved. As he was putting things up afterwards, I said, “You know you will come in for the State entry.” “0 no,” he said; “I am going in my shooting-things, and I hope I shall get quietly into a brougham.”
There was some hustle at the last, as the servant was putting clean shirts into his portmanteau at the last moment (the train was at 8.20), and we laughed about it. My Fred ran into his room and took some banknotes out of his writing-table drawer. I said, “Have you money enough?” He said, “0 yes-I shall go free most of the way” (because he had a Director’s pass). Then came our good-bye-our last kiss. There were no particular last words. I had not a feeling but that he was coming back on Sunday night: I called to him, “Mind and send me word of yr train, that I may send to meet you.” I saw him go into the brougham and drive off-standing on the doorstep. Perhaps I shd have gone with him to the station, but for darling Alfred being there; but I am only glad he was there. I heard aftds he all but missed the train. This was my last sight of my own darling.
Alfred and I went back to the dining-room, and I told him all I knew about the release of the “suspects” and Mr. Forster’s resignation (Alfred having been out of town). After dinner, Stephy came in, and we talked about Mr. Parnell, and the reasons there were for believing that he was really feeling remorse at finding his course of action had led to such horrors (especially, i.e., the murder of Mrs. Smythe). I think I must have animadverted upon his shifty conduct in not telling the plain truth to the House about his desire to put down outrage and to support law and order; Stephy spoke of the danger and difficulty of his position with regard to his own party, and how we ought to be patient with him: perhaps he was even in peril of his life for having made advances, such as they were, to Govt.
Next morning, Saturday, May 6th, I read a short prayer at Family Prayers for my Fred, that he might be guided right, and strengthened for his terribly anxious work. Told Mrs. Adams of the appt. and how she wd have to go to the Ch. Secy.’s Lodge and house-keep there for us. I was rather amused at her thinking nothing short of the Cabinet at all worthy of Freddy. Dear old Nevy asked on Thurs. if he shd look out lodgings for himself. I told him we shd want him with us as much as ever, as we shd continue to be in London all the session. The post brought me a Middlesbro’ paper, with an excellent article on the appt., appreciating my Fred who was known in Middlesbro’, especially since our visit there last autumn, and showing, too a very clear understanding of the political situation. I sent for several copies of it. I had another poor visit or two to make in Westr. and took the paper to G. St. to read to the Talbots. Johnny, however, and the girls were off to Epping Forest, which the Queen threw open to the public to-day. (I had been busy up to yesty. arranging for the Wdford. patients to see the sight, and it all came off successfully; a most lovely day. I heard aftds that, an Irish M.P. at the function remarking on the beautiful weather to another Irish M.P., he replied, “Yes, and it’s a good omen for Ireland -you will see, we shall hear of no more outrages now.”) Also I took the paper to Downing S. and delighted Mazy with it; poor old Auntie looked very sad, imagining we shd have to live in Ireland entirely, but I cheered her up when I reminded her that F. would have all his Parliamentary work in London.
To luncheon came Nevy, Mr. Palgrave [FN: Francis Palgrave, the editor of “The Golden Treasury.”.], and Mr. MacColl: the latter Mazy sent across to see the Middlesb. article. Mr. MacColl was very warm and hearty abt. the appt. Told me he had heard on good authority that Parnell was really remorseful. He strongly urged me to get F. to take lessons in elocution, but I told him his defective “r” and “th” could not be cured. It was nice to know how, in spite of these defects in his articulation, his speaking had improved in fluency; and Lord Enfield told me in March that his way of answering questions was always liked by the Opposition. Mr. Palgrave was full of cordiality too, but, not caring to say much abt it before others, wrote me a most hearty letter immediately after he got home. Altogether we got quite a packet of congratulations on the appointt.
It was very near 3.30 before I cd get out, but I went to the Abbey, thinking I shd at all events hear the concluding prayers and cd have a quiet time there for prayer. But I got there while they were singing the anthem “In that day”-at the passage “Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.” These words were sung first by one voice, then by another, then a third, then in chorus, with the most lovely harmony and sweetness; and I thought, “0, these are the very words for my Fred”; during the final chorus I knelt down and prayed for him with my whole heart, but not that he might be saved from peril – (a mere idle thought crossed me once-what if the steamer shd go down on the passage?) – that I never thought of – but that he might have wisdom and strength and help.
Aftds I went again into Westr., and then to the Treasury to write to him, Mr. Spring Rice having said he shd be sending a pouch, and I thought perhaps I might gain time by sending my letter in it. I told him all the little things I thought he wd like to know, abt kind letters and visits, etc., and ended, “I hope he is keeping up a good heart.” Mr. Spring Rice pulled out a drawer where was some of our private writing-paper which F. kept for private letters. This went off at ¼ to 5: it came back to me unopened.
After 5 I went to see Mrs. Forster. Driving there, I noticed placards abt a disturbance in Ireland at Ballina, when some lads were killed by the police; and it gave me a “mauvais moment,” thinking what miserable anxieties F. wd. have. I wished to call at Sir Ch. Trevelyan’s and inquire after Mr. Dugdale, who a little while ago was terribly hurt in his coal-mine, trying to save life, but I had not time. I had a long talk with Mrs. Forster; she was most kind and helpful, but gave me the impression of all the look-out being sad and dark. I said, “Perhaps we shall come in for a kind of pause – for a better state of things,” and she said, “Perhaps so.” I asked her all I cd think of as to what my own duties wd be. She spoke of Mr. Burke, and what a right hand we shd find him. Also of Miss Burke, very affectionately. Said she thought the society the Ch. Secy. had to see was pleasanter than the Ld. Lieut.’s – physicians, lawyers, etc. As I went downstairs, her daughter Florence followed me to say how very glad Mr. and Mrs. Forster were at the thought of F.’s succeeding him.
I did not get home till 7.30-and even then at that terrible moment, which was ending all my happiness, I had not a thought of harm or fear. Alfred was standing on the doorstep, coming to dine with me; he turned round to greet me with his bright face, and we ran upstairs together, full of eagerness to see the evening papers. I heard that Tallee had been to the door in the aftn to see me, and had left word that they had had a good passage, and an excellent reception in Dublin. Frank and Lou came to dinner, and we had a very cheery evening. I felt as if the worst was over, all the anxiety as to the decision, and the pain of accepting; and now we had to face it bravely and hopefully. We talked much of all I shd have to do-how smart I shd have to be; I don’t think we talked of anything but Ireland.
After dinner dear old Meriel came in. Lou was going on to the party at Ld. Northbrook’s. I had forgotten it and was not dressed (the card had somehow got mixed up with things on my table). I said to Lou, “Oh, if you are going, shall I come too?” but she demurred, saying, “But you are not asked” – and it was to this mere chance that I owed the not having the dreadful thing to go thro’ of hearing it all at the Admiralty, as poor Lou and Cavsh. and Atie. P. had to do. Meriel stayed late; I read her a nice letter of Uncle B.’s, raving of her children, whom he had been with at Falconhurst: and I said to her how sad it seemed that a character like Fred’s shd not be transmitted to children, and we settled what I shd do on Sunday, which I think I had never had to spend in London before without my Fred. I thought I wd go to the early Communion at the Abbey, then perhaps to Mr. Lowder’s church, S. George’s-in-the-East; in the afternoon go and see Aunt Mary, and end at Meriel’s for 7 o’clock service at S. Margaret’s.
I was not left alone till near 12. I sat down at my writing-table and wrote 2 notes, one to the little sisters [FN: I.e. her half-sisters.] to ask them to tea on Monday; another to the Byng girls, to propose their coming at 5 on Sunday for some reading. Then I took the paper off a set of beautifully bound little books (his “Gleanings”), which Uncle William had sent over in the course of the day, with a most affectionate little letter to me, begging me to ask Freddy to give them a place on his shelves “in memory -in grateful memory on my part-of what he has been to me these past 2 years.” I was just writing to thank him, and had begun, “Dear Uncle William, I must write one line (though how unnecessary)” when the door opened and Lou came in. No thought of fear struck me at first; I knew she wished for a talk, and I only thought that on her way home from the Admiralty she had looked in so as to find me alone. But as soon as I saw her face, the terror seized me, and I knew something must have happened to my darling. She had the dreadful telegram in her hand-but it said “dangerously wounded,” and I clung to the hope he wd get over it. She could not tell me, but I felt that she did not say a word of hope.
Then Meriel came in, and then the whole anguish fell upon me. All my blessed joy of many years wrecked in the darkness. In the midst of the black storm a confused feeling came over me that it wd kill Uncle W. who had sent him out in such hope – as indeed a “son of his right hand.” But then Uncle W. himself came in with Atie. Pussy – I saw his face, pale, sorrow-stricken, but like a prophet’s in its look of faith and strength. He came up and almost took me in his arms, and his first words were, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Then he said to me, “Be assured it will not be in vain,” and across all my agony there fell a bright ray of hope, and I saw in a vision Ireland at peace, and my darling’s life-blood accepted as a sacrifice for Christ’s sake, to help to bring this to pass. I write these words at Holker, Feb. 9, 1883, having only been able to write the whole history bit by bit as I could bear it. This my 1st ray of hope has never entirely forsaken me, through all the dark, blank months emptied of joy. I said to him as he was leaving me, “Uncle Wm., you must never blame yourself for sending him.” He said, “0 no, there can be no question of that.” Once he said, “Poor Forster!”
I will copy here what I wrote in Retreat at S. Mary’s, Stone, Nov. 14, 15, 1882. I had never gone to a Retreat before – never able to bring myself to leave my own darling only for my own sake.
” The Name of the Lord is a Strong Tower.”
” The prayer of the humble pierceth the clouds.”
” He healeth those that are broken in heart.”
God be thanked for His wonderful teaching, when He sent upon me the terrible blow, that took away the desire of my eyes with a stroke. No word or presentiment of warning was granted me: one minute I was crowned with the fulness of earthly joy and love -my life full to the brim of hope and interest – the next, all lay shattered around me in one dark wreck, and with what circumstances of horror and fear! How was it that reason and faith and nerves did not give way: how was it that I did not sink down into despair? …”The Eternal God was my Refuge, and underneath were the Everlasting Arms.”
0, let me never forget what He did for me, now that the weary weeks and months are bearing me on through my changed and darkened life, and the miracles of those early days are over, and I have to face it all with only the ordinary help of His Spirit.
In the hours of foreboding and despondency, when “naked and forlorn I stand among the ruins of the past,” this memory at least ought to be a never-failing ray of Divine Light shining in my soul – that in my extremity, when I could do nothing for myself, His immense Love came to my rescue, enfolding, upbearing, soothing me, above all that I could ask or think.
All the attendant circumstances were most tenderly ordered for me, so that I had round me all loving human help, and was at home among his dear ones and mine. Only by an “accident” was I prevented, at the last moment, from keeping an engagement out of town; which would have taken me among comparative strangers. By another “accident” I did not go out that very Saturday evening. It was without my arranging it that dear Lou, and Meriel, and Alfred were all with me at dinner and afterwards. (In the same “chance” way Eddy happened to be with his father at Chatsworth.)
Other things there were to bring me help beforehand; most especially the anthem at Evensong on Saturday at the Abbey. I could only go very late to the service, and only expected to come in for the concluding prayers; but the anthem was being sung as I came in, and the blessed Divine Promise came over and over, in lovely pathetic harmonies. “Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.” Thus in minute and tender ways did He care for me “more than a mother doth.” “He remembereth that we are but dust.”
But now let me turn to the greater miracles of mercy, whereby alone I was saved from sinking in the deep waters. In the first hour of darkness God sent Uncle William with a message straight from Him, which alone at that moment could give me strength, and which still abides with me, though so often I can but feebly cling to it: the assurance that my darling’s life was not given in vain. In the midst of the storm, the vision was granted me of my darling called to that highest honour, of being allowed to die, guiltless (most guiltless, as regards Ireland), and thereby good to come, and peace, and better days: that thus his death, and my sorrow, might, for CHRIST’s sake, be accepted as a sacrifice, and ascend to GOD in union with the One Great Sacrifice.
Later, I had the thought sent to me how earnestly I ought to try and not spoil my share in the sacrifice by any repining or want of resignation; but offer up my will with the same single heart as my darling did.
All through the long awful night I was saved, I know not how, from nervous agony such as would seem inevitable under such a blow. I believe I had a faint hope it was not true. But when I knew it certainly was true, I had some of the misery of consternation – the sense of defeat – all the reviving hopes for Ireland, with which Uncle William had sent my darling out, and with which he had gone, shattered to pieces, and the fear of what would come next. All seemed wrecked in the darkness. Then came from Heaven into my soul the thought of the greater darkness – the more terrible defeat – which seemed to have overwhelmed the Church in her very beginning, when her LORD had died and was buried. And yet that Death was her life; and I could take comfort in hope again. “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” So GOD carried me in His arms through the first terrible hours. He soothed me, even by the very exhaustion of grief, so that I could sleep; and when (as happened for the first 10 days or so), I used to wake in the early dawn, alone, clearly and vividly conscious of all that had happened (when too it is my nature to see everything on the dark side) – at those times – the most free from excitement, when there is “deep silence in the heart, for thought to do her part” – and I should have expected a fiery trial of anguish – then there used to come over me an indescribable sense of something guarding and enfolding me. I could lie perfectly still, feeling that I was sinking deep, deep, into the depths of sorrow, so that the floods ran over me, but that beneath and around me was some mighty Protection. Or as if I was indeed falling down a precipice of grief, but with the feeling of falling soft. I knew then that it was the love of many – the prayers of thousands – which were helping me; drawing down to me in my helplessness the Boundless Love of GOD.
0, how is it that this wonderful experience, never to be forgotten, does not enable me evermore to possess my soul in peace, and in my very sorrow to rejoice? “I said, it is mine own infirmity; but I will remember the years of the Right Hand of the Most Highest.”
(Written in Retreat at S. Mary’s, Stone, Nov. 14, 15, 1882. Finished writing out here, at Morpeth Rectory, Mar. 7, 1883.)
LONDON, April 17th, 1883.-I must try and write all that I can remember.
Sunday, May 7th, 1882.-I sat all day in our dear, dear house, full of familiar things, and thought I realised that all was shattered and gone from me, but did not: hardly yet can I do it. It was about dawn I think that Lou (who never went home all night) came gently into my room where my darling old Meriel had spent the night with me. Lou had a little kind smile on her face, and for one second I thought “she has come to tell me it is not true.” But the hope vanished. Messages had come during the night saying Charlotte and I were not to go to Dublin; that I shd be able to see my Fred’s face placid and beautiful at Chatsworth. My darling Alfred came upstairs soon afterwards, and it was while he was with me that I thought of the victorious sufferings of Christ.
Mrs. Forster came to see me. She told me how often she had been in trembling fear when her husband was late of an evening. In the middle of the day my old Charles and Nevy came from Latimer. My poor old Nevy threw himself upon me in a great agony of tears, and Charles was quite white. My Fred had been to them all a sort of father and brother in one. The D. of Argyll came later; he was very kind and affte., but went on to speak despairingly of Ireland, and what he said struck like lead into my heart, and I don’t know what wd have become of me, only just then came in dear Edward Talbot and soothed and blessed me, and comforted me about Lavinia. Poor little thing, she was only confined 3 weeks ago and had written in such joyful hope and excitement over the appointment, but saying it had almost been too much for her. I also saw Arthur and other dear loving people. I heard that Kitty Clive had been in the house in immense distress for me. Atie. Pussy spent the night with me. Capt. Ross of Bladensburg was sent from Ireland to tell me things.
CHATSWORTH, Monday, May 8th, 1882.-Lou and I, Nevy and Alfred, went down to Chatsworth together and I went straight to the Duke’s room. He had written me a few words of heartbroken sorrow. Eddy had had to tell him, and said that he fell on his knees. He looked piteously shattered and stricken. I tried to say to him how I hoped he wd never think it had been wrong for him to go; and he said no, he knew it was his duty. He said, “He was the best son, and I do believe the best man.” I sat in Lou’s little room, and masses of beautiful flowers kept arriving.
My own darling was laid in the chapel. His face beautiful and serene and pure, like sleep, only more tranquil: the lines smoothed away. No sign of hurt except a little scratch on the bridge of the nose. His look, as Althorp wrote to me, “as if no shadow of sin or suffering had ever come near him.” His soft hair falling back from his forehead as it used to do. I put on his breast the little locket with my hair which I gave him in the “golden days.” Mary Gladstone made a long beautiful cross of white flowers and ferns to lay on the coffin, and we covered the floor of the chapel round him with wreaths and crosses. Edward Talbot and Arthur came from Oxford and said prayers with me in my room every day. Nevy or Alfred went out with me a little in the garden. All was lovely, outbreaking spring and bright sunshine, speaking to me of the Eternal Joy and Brightness.
Thursday, May 11th, was the day of the funeral; it was beautiful, but the sun was veiled in the early part of the day. On Monday the House of Commons only met to adjourn, and Uncle W. spoke of how my Fred had gone out “full of love to Ireland, full of hope for her future, full of capacity to render her service.” Thurs. the House was only to meet late in the day, so as to enable members to attend; and I saw from Lou’s window the great numbers who came, coming up the approach to the house, and, as they waited there for a little, looking round them at all the glory and stateliness of the place, I thought how perhaps it was striking them that my own darling might have spent his life in enjoyment of all such things, but chose rather to work hard and do all the good he could. Dear Lou drove with me. The Duke walked with Cavendish and Eddy, and a great multitude followed. All my darling brothers came except poor Albert who must hear it all in that far-off country , [FN: He was in S. Africa.]. The way to the church was one great concourse of people ; but there was no disorder. The little half-sisters sent me a wreath of roses with a card “For dear Brother Freddy,” and I took it with me and dropped it into the grave. The Grey-coat Hospital sent a wreath of dark-red roses, with the words, “The Noble army of Martyrs praise Thee,” and this was laid on the coffin, on the transverse of the cross. Edward Talbot read the service beautifully, so as to be heard far round, and said at the end, “Give peace in our time, 0 Lord.”
At the end of the week I went to Keble Coll. and found darling Lavinia hardly recovered, and so overwhelmed with sorrow for me. It is a sweet little baby, whose happy birth was a sort of culminating blessing at the height of my happiness. I remember, when I heard of it, thinking, “Well, this completes the wonderful prosperity of us all,” and thanking God, as indeed I did thank Him continually, for all the joy of my life. At Keble I got from the Illustrated Lon. News, which did not print it, a most perfect photograph of my darling, done on the 7th, in the bed at the Ch. Sec.’s Lodge.
After a while I had to come back to London, “full of emptiness,” and try to face the weary days. For weeks there kept arriving masses of addresses and letters of sympathy to me, the Duke, Spencer, Cavsh. and Uncle William, from all parts of the kingdom and from America, etc. The 1st card left on me was Mr. A. M. Sullivan’s,[FN: An Irish M.P.] “with deepest sorrow.” Many full of deep sorrow and shame from Ireland. One to me from an old priest in a province of France. The Irish members were all shocked for a few days into silence, and so allowed the Crimes Bill (which was all prepared but had not come before the Cabinet and was not to be introduced till “Procedure” was through, there seeming then no hope of passing it or any other measure without the help of the New Rules) – to be introduced the week of the 8th May. It was only for a few days that opposition was suspended; afterwards there was bitter obstruction. The Bill did not become law till the end of July. At this time all seemed hopeless about finding out the murderers or breaking up the conspiracy; but in July Spencer wrote privately to Cavsh. a letter which showed a good deal was known.
In it he said, what I felt nearly sure of from the first, that it was not my darling’s life that was aimed at, but poor Mr. Burke’s. Spencer said it had been ascertained that men had been lying in wait for Mr. Burke some days before, and that “he knew too much of Fenianism.” I knew that it was hardly possible that any one in Dublin should have expected my Fred, for he had not himself actually decided on going till Friday afternoon; and no one could possibly guess that he wd have set off alone to walk from the Castle to the Viceregal Lodge (just what I shd have fully expected him to do – he loved a quiet walk in a fine evening after hard work), still less that Mr. Burke would have caught him up, jumped off his car, and joined him (which was of course a mere chance). One of the Secs. went to offer Fred a lift, but he had left the Castle. The Arrears Act was passed after the Crimes Act, in spite of some threat of being thrown out by the Lords. Other murders and outrages occurred, especially a hideous murder of a whole family at Maamtrasna; the murderers were convicted and hung; but the Crimes Act proved of great use, and agrarian crime and “boycotting” began steadily to lessen.
In London I had talks with some of my Fred’s friends. Tho’ I knew how well he was liked and looked up to, I hardly knew how deep and strong was the love felt for him. Mr. Welby said that almost always in political life people had some selfish aim; but that Freddy was absolutely devoid of any thought of self. I tried to say that I hoped his death wd so touch people’s hearts far and wide as to do even more than his life. But he could not so be comforted, saying, “Oh, but such men are the salt of politics.” Sir Ralph Lingen,[FN: Afterwards Lord Lingen, Permanent Secretary of the Treasury.] a dry man of figures, whom Freddy had often to struggle with a little-making him soften down official replies, etc. – had, I was told, cried like a child. I had a long talk with him. He was with my darling at the Office till nearly the last moment, winding up Treasury matters. The last thing F. signed there was the vote for a large grant to the Irish Constabulary. F. said to Sir Ralph, “Do you think I am strong enough for this post?”
Sir Ralph said, “I told him I considered him strong enough for anything. Indeed, I had long thought that his brother and he had the future of England in their hands.” Mr. Algy West also came and saw me. He said he had caught the 2 editors of the Pall Mall Gazette walking together just after the appointt. and had scolded them for the cold notice they had taken of it. “Oh,” said one, “he is an unknown man.” “If you had asked any one of his colleagues or any Cabinet Minister, you wd have been told that he was admirably suited for it,” said Mr. West in answer.
… A beautiful engraving has been done of W. B. Richmond’s picture of him-more beautiful than the picture; his expression when he sat deeply thinking – gentle, earnest, strong, full of thought and nobleness, and strangely pathetic. It looks younger: his hair had grown rather thinner over his forehead, and his forehead had developed and his countenance gained in strength and thought. Richmond lately therefore wanted to paint him again.
KEBLE COLL., OXFORD, October 23rd, 1884.-It is so weary an effort to me to write in this book, that I have not written a word for more than a year. Yet there is much I wish to put down. I saw Mr. Trevelyan [FN: Sir George Trevelyan succeeded Lord Frederick as Chief Secretary.] in the course of the summer of 1882 and can never forget the expression of his face, as of a man who had grown years older in those few months – and a look as if in constant presence of death. At that time he and Spencer knew well that the dreadful gang of murderers were all in Dublin, bound together by the widely ramified conspiracy of terror. He said to me, “Things are better in the country, but Dublin is as black as it is possible to be.” By degrees the police knew many of the murderers, but no shred of evidence cd be got till after the Crimes Act was passed the end of July, when the power of examining witnesses in private brought evidence at last.
I had a most precious and touching talk with him [Mr. Gladstone] at Hawarden just before he went [to Cannes]. He said there was no one left like Freddy for the combination of deep enthusiasm with strong sense and judgment, and for single-minded, self-forgetting aims. Seeing how his words moved me, he said, with great tenderness, “But that is only to say how ready he was to go.” He spoke of the future of the party, and said there was no lack of clever and able men, but none that had those high gifts combined ; and he told me he had begun to think that hereafter, when Cavsh. was called to the Upper House, Freddy wd probably succeed him as leader of the H. of Commons. (This, I have heard, was also Mr. Fawcett’s opinion, and when some one demurred on acct of Freddy’s not speaking well, he instanced Ld. Althorp (Uncle Jack) and Hartn. as bad speakers who had improved, and had successfully led the House.)
. . . The trials lasted through long and terrible weeks. Four were executed: Brady, Kelly, Curley, and Fagan; others were imprisoned for life. People wrote full of sorrow for me, thinking it must “reopen my grief,” but how should that be, when it had never, never for an hour closed. There was no reopening of grief, but it became a long pain to me that my own darling, so gentle and loving-hearted, and so full of faith and hope for Ireland – so tender-hearted for others tho’ so strong to endure hardness himself – should be, with Mr. Burke, the most innocent cause of all this ghastly bloodshed and have his death associated with such terrible wickedness. 0, how cd I ever bear it, but for that One Death of Him Who met it at the hands of wicked men.
In the course of the summer I saw Althorp. He was most gentle and kind and told me everything he could to comfort me; but he cd hardly bear to look at me. I saw him last when we dined almost alone with them at Spencer House early in ’82. He is greatly aged, but well, and full of his usual strong, brave, patient courage. He told me that a cousin of Mr. Burke’s, a Sister of Mercy, Mrs. Kirwen, had visited the condemned men unweariedly in prison to try and bring them to repentance. She found them all fanatics – not worse than other men – but defending what they did as “obeying orders”; “it was for Ireland.” She asked them what good they hoped wd come of it. They never seemed to have thought of that. She persevered, and was satisfied at last that some of them were sorry. I have heard since that they were sorry and disturbed about Freddy.
At one time Bobby Spencer came to see me. I think it was in ’82. He told me how Spencer and Freddy set to work at the Castle as soon as ever they were sworn in. It was noticed that my Fred took the oath in a peculiarly solemn way. And some one told me that he said on being spoken to about his coming, “I have come to do all the good I can”; but I don’t know who heard this.
Bobby said he came in to luncheon very cheery and said he was very hungry. They set to work immediately aftds; going carefully thro’ the different provisions of the Crimes Act, my Fred putting in a plea for moderating it when he cd. Bobby had been uneasy until the reception, procession, etc., was all over, having had some vague intimation of danger (which made him accompany his brother). But when all had gone off well, he thought no more of it. The course of the trials revealed very plainly that Parliamentary politics had nothing to do with the murders. The whole conspiracy was against “the Castle,” first Lord Cowper, then Mr. Forster (again and again) was lain in wait for; then, when Mr. Forster had got safe to England, the orders went out against Mr. Burke, as the next highest representative of “the Castle”; and days before the release of the suspects they were seeking his life. My own darling was utterly unknown to them, and was only attacked because he defended Mr. Burke.
In ’83 I saw in London Miss Franks, who was the head matron of Stevens’ Hospital when Freddy and Mr. Burke were brought there. She had had a heavy day’s work at the hospital and had nearly been persuaded by a friend to go to Phoenix Park in the evening; had she done so she wd have seen the attack. She was out when she saw Mr. Burke driving off alone, and she said to her friend, “See, there goes Mr. Burke with his life in his hand,” and a little later she saw Spencer riding away from the Castle with only a groom, and wondered at his not being more guarded. I said to her, “But did you know then that there was danger?” She replied, “My father was a district magistrate in Galway and often had had things to report to Mr. Burke, so I knew something of the conspiracies.” Her friend was going away by train, and she was going to the station with her when a message was sent to Miss F. telling her about the murders and summoning her back; her friend came back with her. The nurses in charge had taken the most reverent tender care of the bodies, putting them together alone in a small ward, but locking the door and allowing no one to touch them till Miss Franks came back. When they were attending to my darling, he looked so beautiful that one of the young nurses burst into tears and said, “He looks like our Saviour taken down from the Cross.”
Dear Bobby Spencer, she told me, came himself, and either suggested the photograph being taken or at all events saw about it; the beautiful flowers I think the nurses thought of. Bobby with his own hand cut off the lock of hair for me, and prayed by my darling. They were moved to the Chief Sec.’s Lodge in the quiet of the evening, with no excitement or crowd. When Spencer saw my darling’s face he broke down into tears for the first time, the horror all stilled by that heavenly look of peace.
ANOTHER ACCOUNT OF THE NIGHT OF MAY 6TH, 1882
This was written by Mrs. John Talbot and is published by permission of her son Mr. Justice Talbot.
On Saturday, May 6th, 1882, I went after dinner to 21 C.H.T. and found Lucy, the F. Egertons, and Alfred. Lucy was in good spirits, and we had a great deal of talk about what she was to do to help Freddy in his new position. She said she had been asking Mrs. Forster about the amount of entertaining there would be, and we chaffed her about being smartly dressed, etc. It was all very bright and happy, and I saw that, now the decision was made, she was throwing herself into the new life with full energy and spirit. The Egertons went away to Ld. Northbrook’s party, and Alfred went. I stayed on with her till 11 1/2, when I came home. I found a hansom standing at our door, and Turner told me Adml. Egerton was in the drawing-room. He had come to tell me the awful news and to send me back to Lucy.
When I got back, I found Louisa Egerton with her. She had only told her that Freddy was dangerously wounded, and when I came in Lucy was saying, “Oh I know he will pull through, if I can only go to him at once; he is in such fine health just now, I know he will get through it.” Her voice was quite hopeful and eager. Then I suppose she suspected something from our manner, and she said, “Tell me everything, tell me the whole.” Then she knew, and the change from hope to utter hopelessness was the most pathetic thing I ever saw. She sank down on the floor, leaning against Lou, and moaned, but so gently, and her first words were, “It is cruel, so cruel,” and then almost directly, “Don’t let them hate them, don’t let them be angry with them; Freddy wouldn’t like it. I don’t think they could have done it if they had known about me.”
Very soon the Gladstones came in. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. I don’t repent sending him; I was right to do it.” After he went, Lucy said, “He is like an oak to lean against.” I could see that all he said suited her and strengthened her. She saw Ld. Hartington for a few minutes, and I heard her begging him to make the Duke feel that it was right F. should go to Ireland; she repeated that often.
Then we took her upstairs, and she undressed and lay down in bed, and I lay down by her, and we were alone for some hours. She cried a good deal, and talked to me; it was wonderfully natural; she never seemed bewildered, or to lose her balance. We spoke of Mrs. Talbot,[FN: Mother of J. G. Talbot, a great friend of the Lyttelton and Gladstone families. Her husband had died young.] and of what had helped her; a great deal of Freddy’s tenderness, and their ways together, how they were just like lovers always. She even seemed to face her life alone, said she should go on in that house which had been his home. Sometimes, “How could they do it – it was cruel. He only wanted to help them. He never said one bitter word against Ireland. He always thought if the right remedy could but be found, they would behave well.” Then, rather suddenly and almost brightly, “I see now, I see that our Saviour’s death seemed a failure; it seemed like the end – the defeat of all His life’s work – the collapse of His followers’ hopes, and yet it was victory, and Freddy’s will be like that; it will do more good than his life, that is real comfort,” and all the rest of the night she never quite lost hold of the thought, but dwelt on it and leant on it.
About 5, Adams brought her a cup of tea; she kissed her and said, “You always made Ld. Frederick so comfortable, he never had any bothers about his house.”
She thought she was going to Dublin at once, in order to see him once more, but it was decided that she ought not, and she said she did not know how she shd have borne the journey. “I think God will allow me to see him again – the only thing I care for”; and she did see his face at Chatsworth, before any change had passed over it, the look one of perfect rest and dignity, and strength too.
I believe this is all I can remember of that wonderful night. I feel in looking back to it that to be with Lucy through those first hours of her great sorrow was to be allowed to see a marvellous manifestation of the power of religion, and of the blessedness granted to those who all their lives have kept their faith in God pure and strong. Her faith never failed her for one instant; it was there, ready to her hand. She had not to look for it, but only to lean heavily upon it, and she was enabled to be patient and trustful, and absolutely without one thought of bitterness, much less of revenge on those who had shattered her earthly happiness in one instant.
MERIEL S. TALBOT.