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BY JUSTIN MCCARTHY
Author of " A History of Our Own Times," etc., etc. ORD ROSEBERY is at the pres- even already be regarded as certain of an ent moment the man in English abiding place in literature. Lord Rose
political life upon whom the eyes bery is a literary man, an author as well of expectation are turned. He is a as a statesman and an orator; he has younger man than most of his political written a life of Pitt which is already becolleagues and rivals, but it is not because coming a sort of classic in our libraries. of his comparative youth that the eyes of There are profounder students, men more expectation are turned upon him. Not deeply read, than he, but I doubt if there one of those who stand in the front ranks are many men living who have so wide of Parliamentary life to-day could be an acquaintance with general literature. called old, as we reckon age in our mod. He is a lover of art, a student and a conern estimate. Palmerston, Gladstone, noisseur of art, he is an accomplished and Disraeli won their highest political yachtsman, has a thorough knowledge of triumphs after they had passed the age horses, is famous on the turf, and the which Lord Salisbury and Sir William owner of a horse that won the Derby. Harcourt have now reached; Mr. Balfour The legendary fairy godmother seems to is still regarded in politics as quite a have showered upon him at his birth all young man, and Sir Henry Campbell- her richest and most various gifts, and no Bannerman has but lately been elected malign and jealous sprite seems to have leader of the Liberal party in the House come in, as in the nursery stories, to spoil of Commons. Lord Rosebery's star is any of the gifts by a counteracting spell
. again rising and at the present moment it He was born of great family and born is the only star that seems to be mounting to high estate; he married a daughter in the political sky. He has already held of the house of Rothschild; he has a the highest political offices. He has been lordly home near Edinburgh in Scotland, Foreign Secretary and he has been Prime a noble house in the finest West End Minister. He has been leader of the square of London, and a delightful resiLiberal party. No other public man in dence in one of our most beautiful Eng. England has so many and so varied men- lish counties. tal gifts, and no other public man has won Lord Rosebery is one of the most desuccess in so many distinct fields. We lightful talkers whom it has ever been my live in days when, for the time at least, good fortune to meet. He has a keen the great political orator seeins to have sense of humor, a happy art of light and passed out of existence. The last great delicate satire, and, in private conversaEnglish orator died at Hawarden less tion as well as in Parliamentary debate, than two years ago.
We have, however, he has a singular facility for the invention several brilliant and powerful Parliament of expressive and successful phrases which tary debaters, and among these Lord tell their whole story in a flash. One might Rosebery stands with the foremost, if he well be inclined to ask what the kindly is not, indeed, absolutely the foremost. fates could have done for Lord Rosebery As an orator on what I may call great that they have left undone. Nevertheless, ceremonial occasions he is, according to the truth has to be told, that up to this my judgment, the very foremost we now time Lord Rosebery has not accomplished
As an after-dinner speaker--and as much of greatness as most of us conafter-dinner speaking counts for a great fidently expected that he would achieve. deal in the success of an English public Let it be said at once, on the other hand, man-he has never had an equal in Eng. that the public, so far from having lost land during my time. Then Lord Rose- faith in him, are even now turning their bery has delivered lectures or addresses eyes to him as to the one man who can in commemoration of great poets and be expected to bring England with sucphilosophers and statęsmen which may cess through her present difficulties at
home as well as abroad. Lord Rosebery often consists of some half a dozen peers. is now in very much the same position as Now and again, during the course of a Lord Palmerston was at a great crisis session, there is got up what may be called during the Crimean War, when everybody a full-dress debate, when some great quessaw that somehow or other things were tion is disturbing the country, and the all going wrong, and everybody looked to peers think that they ought to put on the Lord Palmerston as the one man who appearance of being deeply concerned must be called upon to take his chance of about it, and some noble lord who has a putting them right again.
repute for wisdom or for eloquence gives I have been, perhaps, somewhat too notice of a formal motion, and then there hasty when I said that no counteracting is a lengthened discussion, and perhaps, spell had in any way marred the influence on some extraordinary occasion, the peers of the gifts which the fairies had so lav- may sit to a late hour and even take a ishly bestowed on Lord Rosebery. One division. But on such remarkable occastroke of ill fortune—ill fortune, that is, sions the peer who induces the House to for an English political leader—was cer- come together and listen to his oration is tainly directed against him. Nature must almost sure to be one who has had his have meant him to be a successful Prime training in the House of Commons and Minister, and yet fortune denied him a has made his fame as an orator there. seat in the House of Commons. He suc- Now, I cannot but regard it as a strikceeded to his grandfather's peerage at an ing evidence of Lord Rosebery's inborn early period of his life, and he had to fitness to be an English political leader begin his political career as a member of that he should have got over the dreary the House of Lords. He therefore discouragement of such a training-school, missed all that splendid training for po and should have practiced the art of po litical warfare which is given in the House litical oratory under conditions that might of Commons. It would not, perhaps, be have filled Demosthenes himself with a quite easy for an American reader to un- sense of the futility of trying to make a derstand how little the House of Lords great speech where nothing whatever was counts for in the education of fighting likely to come of it. Lord Rosebery, howstatesmen.
ever, did succeed in proving to the House When Charles James Fox was told in of Lords that they had among them a his declining years that the King, as a brilliant and powerful debater who had mark of royal favor, intended to make qualified himself for success without any him a peer and thus remove him from the help from the school in which Lord House of Commons into the House of Brougham and the brilliant Lord Derby, Lords, he struck his forehead and ex- Lord Cairns, and Lord Salisbury had claimed: “Good Heaven! he does not studied and mastered the art of Parliathink it has come to that with me, does mentary eloquence. he?" Fox had had all the training that But, indeed, Lord Rosebery seems to his genius needed in the House of Com- have had a natural inclination to seek mons, and he was not condemned to pass and find a training-school for his abilities into the House of Lords. Nothing but in places and pursuits that might have the inborn consciousness of a genius for seemed very much out of the ordinary political debate can stimulate a man to British aristocrat's way. Until a compargreat effort in the House of Lords. Noth- atively recent period, we had nothing that ing turns upon a debate in that House. If could be called a really decent system of a majority in the House of Lords were to municipal government in the greater part pass a vote of censure three times a week of London. We had, of course, the Lord on the existing Government, that Govern- Mayor and the municipality of the City of ment would continue to exist just as if London, but then the City of London is nothing had happened, and the public in only a very small patch in the great general would hardly know that the Lords metropolis that holds more than five millhad been expressing any opinion on the ions of people. London, outside the City, subject. An ordinary sitting of the House was governed by the old-fashioned parish of Lords is not expected to last for more vestries, and to some extent by a more than an hour or so, and the whole assembly recent institution which was called the
Metropoñtan Board of Works. Now, the Rosebery undoubtedly has the honor of Metropolitan Board of Works did not having done more than any other Englishmanage its affairs very well. There were man to raise the municipal government disagreeable rumors and stories about of London to that position which it ought contracts and jobbing and that sort of to have in the public life of the State. thing, and although matters were never All that time Lord Rosebery was not supposed to have been quite so bad as neglecting any of the other functions and they were in New York during days which occupations which had been imposed upon I can remember well, the days of Boss him, or which he had voluntarily taken Tweed, there was enough of public com- upon himself. He held the office of first plaint to induce Parliament, at the insti- Commissioner of Works in one of Mr. gation of Lord Randolph Churchill, to Gladstone's administrations, an
office abolish the Board of Works altogether which involves the care of all the State and set up the London County Council
, a buildings and monuments and parks of thoroughly representative body elected by the metropolis. He was always to be popular suffrage and responsible to its seen at the private views of the Royal constituents and the public. Lord Rose Academy and the other great picture galbery threw himself, heart and soul, intoleries of the London season. the promotion of this better system of always starting some new movement for London municipal government. He be- the improvement of the breed of horses, came a member of the London County and, indeed, there is a certain section of Council, was elected its first Chairman. our community among whom Lord Roseand later on was re-elected to the same bery was regarded, not as a statesman, or office. Now, I think it would be hardly a London County Councilor, or a lover of possible for a man of Lord Rosebery's literature, but simply and altogether as a rank and culture and tastes to give a more patron of the turf. Meanwhile we were genuine proof of patriotic public spirit hearing of him every now and then as an than he did when he threw himself heart adventurous yachtsman, and as the orator and soul into the business of a municipal of some great commemoration day when council.
a statue was unveiled to a Burke or a Up to that time the business of a Burns. London municipality had been regarded A more delightful host than Lord Roseas something belonging entirely to the bery it would not be possible to meet or middle class or the lower middle class, even to imagine. I have had the honor something with which peers and nobles of enjoying his hospitality at Dalmeny could not possibly be expected to have and in his London home, and I shall only anything to do. A London Alderman say that those were occasions which I may had been from time out of mind a sort of describe, in the words which Carlyle emfigure of fun, a vulgar, fussy kind of person, ployed with a less gladsome significance, who bedizened himself in gaudy robes on as not easily to be forgotten in this world. festive occasions, and was noted for his No man can command a greater variety love of the turtle in quite a different sense of topics of conversation. Politics, travel, from that which Byron gives to the words. art, letters, the life of great cities, the Lord Rosebery set himself steadily to the growth of commerce, the tendencies of work of London municipal government civilizations, the art of living, the philoso at a most critical period in its history, and phy of life, the way to enjoy life, the his example was followed by men of rank various characteristics of foreign capitals and culture, and some of the most intel. -on all such topics Lord Rosebery can lectual men of our day have been elected speak with the clearness of one who knows Aldermen of the London County Council. his subject and with the vivacity of one Only think of Frederic Harrison, the who can put his thoughts into the most celebrated Positivist philosopher, the man expressive words. I suppose there must of exquisite culture and refinement, the be some authors in modern literature with man of almost fastidious ways, the scholar whose works Lord Rosebery is not familand the writer, becoming an Alderman of jar, but I can only say that if there be the London County Council, and devoting any such, I have not yet discovered who himself to the work of his position! Lord they are—and I have spent a good deal
of my time in the reading of books. I commander-in-chief ought always to be
Yet it is certain, as I said in the begin. cept the position of Prime Minister, he