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Staël, the cherished associate of the whole Lake school of poets, he had seen Shelley and Mrs Siddons, travelled with Southey to Paris and Wordsworth to Italy, conversed with Coleridge, supped and walked often with Charles Lamb, watched the rhapsodies of Blake, breakfasted with Rogers, chatted with Sydney Smith and Lady Blessington (at whose house he met the young Disraeli), discoursed with Bunsen, and vied with "Conversation" Sharpe; a philosopher and unitarian, a philanthropist on principle, almost the first foreign correspondent of the Times,' and, later, a practising barrister, sprung from a lower middle-class that has now nearly evaporated-a class with temperament as well as character, with refinement as well as determination-he impressed his virtues on the most illustrious. He seldom soars, but he never grovels; he rarely startles, but he never intrudes. The want of "liberality" in his boyish education was atoned for by the unchecked originality of his character and by his visits to Germany in her golden age. There, besides being a deep student, he opened the gates of cultivated aristocracy and aristocratic culture. He was told how, at the outset, he had only to assert that he was "English to be treated as a "nobleman." His chief interest throughout the journal is for "characters." "The half-literary conversations of half-learned people, the commonplaces of politics and religious dispute, are to me intolerable." This is the canon of his
diary. Of Wordsworth's depth and difficulty of expression, of Coleridge's eloquent mysticism, of Lamb's "antic disposition, of Goethe's clear-cut serenity, his pages are among the most authentic exponents. But they are also dedicated to the goodness of smaller men. Above all things Robinson possessed the "many - travelled heart." His patient sympathy with loftiness of mind is evinced by his late correspondence with Lady Byron. To him Wordsworth addressed the lines beginning with Companion, by whose buoyant spirit cheered." With some faculty of imagination, however, he lacked fancy and feeling for the picturesque. Venice, in Wordsworth's own company, leaves him untouched; and the whole world is to him rather a panorama of excellence than a landscape of light and shade.
Space presses, and we must glance at two recent diaries, not omitting the familiar Greville by the way. But first a glimpse must be given of two diaries in the form of letters which have been, we think, too little in public prominence. We allude to the correspondence of Felix Mendelssohn, and of Charles Dickens. Of the former it may well be said that they are "words without songs." · The same pure feeling and exalted ideals, affectionate humility, conscientious aspiration, and pathetic playfulness that pervade the music are the qualities of the Letters. We must reluctantly be content with two examples: "So I am said to have become a saint! If this
is intended to convey what I conceive to be the meaning of the word, and what your expressions lead me to think you also understand by it, then I can only say that, alas! I am not so, though every day of my life I strive with greater earnestness according to my ability more and more to resemble this character. If people, however, understand by the word 'saint a 'Pietist,' one of those who lay their hands on their laps and expect Providence to do their work for them, talk of the incompatibility of the heavenly calling with the earthly, and are incapable of loving with their whole hearts any human being or anything on earth, then, God be praised! such an one I am not, and hope never to become." And the second is like unto it: "I well know that for thorough self-cultivation the whole of a man's life is required, and often does not suffice."
Dickens throughout the whole range of his writings "Travels for the great firm of Human Interest Brothers." His unapproached spirits and sense of humour, his rollicking self-confidence and lovable humanity, distinguish his letters also. "Lord, what a blessed thing it is," he ejaculates in one of them, "to read a man who can write! The Salon-satellites must have been shocked at his first impression of George Sand as of "the Queen's monthly nurse." How good, too, is that description of the Paris drama on English life, whose villain was "Meester Corn'ill"; and of London in the dead season, with his tailor playing the piano in
private! But we would fain dwell on a softer phase. "When I came in from seeing poor, dear Watson's grave, Mrs Watson asked me to go up into the gallery, which I had last seen in the days of our merry play. We went up and walked into the very part he made and was so fond of, and she looked out of one window and I looked out of another, and for the life of me I could not decide in my own heart whether I should console or distress her by going and taking her hand and saying something of what was naturally in my mind. So I said nothing and came out again.”
"I am going," remarks Greville, in his matter-of-fact way, "if not too lazy, to note down the everyday nothings of my life, and see what it looks like." The "everyday nothings" comprise some of the most serious events in English history. Greville's prosaic nonchalance belongs to the Whigs of George the Fourth and Worst. His diary is rich in green - room gossip of politics and society; but his jottings are dusty with Whig exclusiveness and official red-tape. As we read them, we discern a wooden man of the world, frivolous upon caste-compulsion, self-complacent even while he deplores the unintellectuality of his routine, a precise, prudent, punctilious failure, abounding in cautious insight but bare of generous impulse. There is nothing spontaneous about him. One of the newspapers has undiscriminatingly termed Mr George Russell "a modern Greville." That may serve as a popular label, but as
a cap it will not fit. Mr Russell
partee.” Royalties and Princedoms compose the entremets, and Lord Beaconsfield, the savoury—a relish, as we shall point out, overseasoned. "Flatterers " and "Bores," "Epitaphs" and "Advertisements," stand for ices and liqueurs, topped by the dessert of "Parodies," "Children," and the like; and, last not least-the roses of the repast-"An old PhotographBook." "Links with the Past" are by no means conventional. There is old-world Lady Robert Seymour, who "used the potticary" whenever she sent for the doctor; there is the Earl of Bathurst, whose private school reserved a bench for the little sons of peers; there is ancient "Polly Arnold" of Harrow, who had sold "cribs" to Byron. And there is Mr Russell's father, page at George IV.'s coronation, who discussed the 'Bride of Lammermoor' with Scott before its authorship was divulged. We may be allowed in this connection to pay our own tribute to the memory of Lord Charles James Fox Russell, whose very names perpetuate history, and whose kindness, enthusiasm, and simplicity we remember and revere. We miss Mrs Norton in the gallery; perhaps this omission may be remedied hereafter. The "Pièces de Résistance" chapters afford a genuine contribution to solid history. First-rate, worthy of Thackeray or of Disraeli, is the figure of that Marquis of Abercorn who always went out shooting in his blue ribbon, and required his housemaids to wear white kid gloves when they made his bed, and his wife to use the family
"just the medium hit, And heals with morals what it hurts with wit."
Mr Russell, like Lord Gran-
coach when she eloped. 1818 revelation. Lord Beaconsfield is handled by Mr Russell with a perverse mixture of sympathy and suspicion, applause and apology. Throughout he quotes him with evident delight even oftener than Dickens; and if morale be at stake, he protests a "sneaking sympathy" for the genius who penned that inspiring passage concerning Youth in Coningsby.' Yet he dwells with deliberate satire on his alleged arts as courtier, and ostentation as host. Had we room we could answer exhaustively. We might have enlarged on the ethics of anecdote. Disraeli was a dreamer and a poet. Imagination coloured his thoughts and actions. Like Canning, he was early misnamed "Adventurer" by the jealousy and prejudice of a Dunciad. Like Canning, he will be justified by history. Throughout his career the suffering million appealed to him with increasing power, but the shrieks of paid agitation were never "vox Dei" in his ears. No more than Carlyle could he tolerate the material creed of Utilitarianism. Like Gladstone himself, he sought to acclimatise the germs of inevitable democracy in the native air and soil of the constitution. His ideas are already triumphing. To quote his "diabolical cleverness" at the time when an imperious tribune was out of place, is as out of place as was then the imperious tribune. To bear out his pretentious hospitality by a story about ices at Hughenden, which is in fact a mot long before of Sir David Dundas; to substantiate the
is far from 1718, but this ornament of his order is in close likeness to that immortal Duke of Somerset-the feeble terror of three successive Courts-who ordered his daughters to be standing sentinels of his siesta, and, on awaking to find one of them dropped into a chair from sheer fatigue, curtailed her inheritance. Mr Russell's favourites in "Conversation" are chiefly of the Holland House School. We could have wished for more of Lord Granville-the British Talleyrand. Again, of Lord Bowen we should like to have found the dulcet reply to the question whether a successful prig was not becoming "almost interesting"-"I think that perhaps when I have the pleasure of meeting him in another world, he may just begin to be interesting"; and of Lowe, that retort about the excellent "organ" for the articles of public men-"Organ, yes; but you must take the monkey with it." Among "Clergymen" he oddly enough omits Dr Magee; while in "Repartee" we miss that of Jowett to his secretary exploding into fits of officious laughter at an anecdote of the Master's -"Don't do that, Knight; you are not my wife." But these are our Own recollections. Manning's medieval presence and Cæsarism, Lord Houghton, with the subacidity of his old age amiably erased, are speaking portraits. But the "Lord Shaftesbury" who, as patrician, scholar, and polished host, surrendered a career, dedicated privilege to humanity, and consecrated it to God, is a real
"grotesque performances of his
If Mr Russell's conversationalists hail from Holland House, Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff's are akin to Madame Mohl and the Seniors. We could desire larger limits to saunter through the severer Academe of the 'Notes from a Diary.' For academical Sir Mountstuart remains, despite his exceptional gifts and opportunities, and his long conversance with affairs. Nor is this disparagement. The outlook of Balliol at its zenith is one of delicate gravity -of culture applied to career. If its fastidiousness of tread be now and then somewhat the daintiness of Agag, if its omniscient studies and studied omniscience recall the palmy commencements of the 'Saturday Review,' they are none the less definite and active. Sir Mountstuart was from the first scholar, a traveller, a politician,
a historian, and a lover of science. Long before his official eminence he moved among the best in Germany and France. He is always perceptive. His style is full of nicety and suggestion. And yet it seems to us there is a want of elasticity. The passages have been retouched. They lose some of their freshness by the subsequent glosses. They are in fact Commentaries rather than Diaries. College essays are quoted, and many of the Notes' resemble them. There is also a want of selection. The register is blent with the recital. We are told, for instance, of a consultation with a German oculist just after a lecture on Austria in 1851. We cannot be interested in the author's eyes as we are in Stella's. He dances from disquisition to personality. There are too many figureheads among the figures. But here criticism must end. Like the late Lord Houghton, a patriotic cosmopolitan with an abnormal memory, our author gazes at once on Europe and England with a keen eye for movements and an enthusiasm for every noble effort. How fine is that phrase of his about Maurice's sermons- -"spiritual champagne"! How interesting his glimpses of Disraeli "in the faint dawn discoursing of Lord John Russell"! And he owns the saving grace of humour. Excellent is the description of Carlyle trotting Emerson round London and vainly endeavouring to make him believe in "the Deil." Admirable, too, is his account of Wilkes's dream, where Lord