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in. Charles may tackle him on that subject if he likes, and give the Clayshott electors the benefit of the result. It will be about as useful and intelligible to them as the other matters Charles is committing himself to in his address. Here come by the same post your note, and a gushing billet from Minnie, omitting to specify the date of arrival, for which I particularly asked, so there will most likely be a morning of telegraphing; and a letter from Laura, who is verily of the tribe of the Dúzakhís, if odious virtues ever made anyone so; I enclose it for your edification. You see she is too many for us as regards my little plan about Cynthia. She carefully misspells Mrs. Follett's name, If there is a thing I detest it is misspelt names.
I have had to explain to several people that Wei-hai-wei is not in the sphere of the Indian Political Department, and that a smoking acquaintance with cheroots does not make one an authority on Manila. But my comparative study of the Parish and the North Indian Village is going to be a great work.
Your loving brother,
GREAT MEN: THEIR SIMPLICITY
The study of the characteristics of notable personages, past and present, yields nothing more surprising-certainly nothing more humorous—than experiences of how frequently simplicity is closely allied to genius, and how often ignorance of the commonest things goes hand-in-hand with profound learning. The Duke of Wellington was largely endowed with that modesty or simplicity which makes a great man almost unconscious of his greatness. He met a lady friend who was going to see a model of the battle of Waterloo, and remarked to her, 'Ah, you're going to see Waterloo! It's a very good model; I was at the battle, you know.' Surveying a field of battle, he could detect almost at a glance the weak points in the disposition of the contending forces, but he could never tell whether his dinner was cooked well or ill. A first-rate chef was in the employment of Lord Seaford, who, not being able to afford to keep the man, prevailed on the Duke of Wellington to engage him. Shortly after entering the Duke's service the chef returned to his former master and begged him, with tears in his eyes, to take him back, at reduced wages or none at all. Lord Seaford asked, “Has the Duke been finding fault ?' 'Oh, no—he is the kindest and most liberal of masters; but I serve him a dinner that would have made Ude or Francatelli burst with envy, and he say nothing! I go out and leave him to dine on a dinner badly dressed by my cook maid, and he say nothing. Dat hurt my feelings, my lord !'
There is a story also told of Mr. Gladstone which would show that the true meaning of the old saying 'Do not mix your drinks' was unknown to the great statesman. It is said to have been his habit to let the wines which were served in the course of dinner mobilise at his elbow, and during a pause in the conversation seize the glass that happened to be nearest. On one occasion Mr. Gladstone, who had refreshed himself as usual in this haphazard way, inveighed a crainst the practice of mixing wines. It was respectfully pointed
! im that he had been guilty of this very act; but he ex
to his own satisfaction, that to mix wines was to fill up
mentary honours, is a favourite pastime in Scotland during election contests. Mr. John Morley was asked at one of his meetings during his wooing of the constituency of Montrose, 'Are you in favour of the abolition of cess and stent?' He elevated his eyebrows, looked perplexed for a moment, and then came out, amid general laughter, with the whimsical confession, 'Really, gentlemen, I don't know whether I am or not.' A few moments later the right hon. gentleman had to make the dire admission that he did not know the difference between white and yellow trout. The meeting was rather pained. Another well-known M.P., addressing a political meeting some time ago, hoping thereby to create a little enthusiasm amongst the working men, exclaimed, When the polling-day comes, you good fellows must stick to me like bricks !' A hardy son of toil, who knew from experience that bricks had no adhesive property, rose in the middle of the hall and said, “You mean like mortar, don't you, sir?' Roars of laughter greeted this correction of the ignorance of the candidate.
The following amusing extract from the lately published work, Mr. Gregory's Letter Box'—which contains the correspondence of a gentleman who was for many years Under-Secretary for Ireland
- shows that the Ministers responsible for the good government of Ireland early in the century were so ignorant of the social condition of the country that they confounded the Ribbon Society —a widespread agrarian conspiracy-with the weavers of ribbon in England :
An amateur and somewhat officious informer writes to Lord Sidmouth, the Home Secretary, February 19, 1818:
*I am an inhabitant of Ballycastle, where there is a great deal of Ribbon work carrying on; there is not a night but they are met on the hills; and, as a good and loyal subject of His Majesty, I warn you that if some measures don't take place soon so as to quell them, I am afraid they'll murder us all in a short time. They are talking a great deal about rising all through Ireland before Easter, so would advise you to take some measures that would put an end to the work, as I don't think there is Catholics in Ireland that are not Ribbonmen.'
Mr. Hobhouse writes with this to Mr. Gregory :
'I am directed by Lord Sidmouth to transmit to you the enclosed copy of a letter from a person giving information of an intended rising of the Ribbon Weavers near Ballycastle, and who, he states, hold nightly meetings on the Hills, and I am to desire that you will submit the same for the information of the Lord Lieutenant.'
Mr. Gregory sends the letters to Mr. Peel, and says :
• Pray read these letters, and explain to Mr. Hobhouse that Ribbon Work in Ireland is a very different manufacture from weaving of Ribbons in England.'
Here is another instance, also from Ireland, of official betrayal of colossal ignorance. In October 1845, when the country was
getting alarmed about the failure of the potato crop—which ultimately led to the awful famine of 1847—Sir Robert Peel, the Prime Minister, wrote to Lord Heytesbury, the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, a letter on the situation, which he thus concluded : 'At what period will the pressure be felt? Will it be immediate if the reports of the full extent of the evil are confirmed, or is there a stock of old potatoes sufficient to last for a certain time?' The Viceroy replied that he was assured there is no stock whatever of last year's potatoes in the country. So little did the Prime Minister of England (who had been Chief Secretary for Ireland) and the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland know of the nature and cultivation of the potato-upon which, at the time, the lives of millions of the Irish people depended—that they imagined it was possible to keep them in stock for years, like grain !
Absent-mindedness also seems to be a common failing among great men. An amusing story
An amusing story is told of the late Louis Pasteur, who so distinguished himself by his discoveries in regard to bacteria. While dining at his son-in-law's one evening, it was noticed that he dipped his cherries in his glass of water, and then carefully wiped them before eating them. As this caused some amusement, he held forth at length on the dangers of the microbes with which the cherries were covered. Then he leaned back in his chair, wiped his forehead, and, unconsciously picking up his glass, drank off the contents, microbes and all!
A friend calling upon Peter Burrowes, the celebrated Irish barrister, one morning in his dressing-room, found him shaving with his face to the wall, and asked him why he chose so strange an attitude. The answer was, “To look in the glass. Why, there is no glass there!' said the friend. Bless me!'exclaimed Burrowes, 'I did not notice that before.' Then, ringing the bell, he called the servant and questioned him respecting the looking-glass which had been hanging on the wall. 'Oh, sir,' said the servant, “it was broken six weeks ago'! A certain learned professor at Cambridge is a very absent-minded man. A friend of his had been seriously ill. When he was convalescent, the professor used to send him jellies and other delicacies. One day he took him a fine bunch of hot house grapes. The old friends were very pleased to see each other, and were soon deep in a discussion. The professor, becoming interested, began absent-mindedly picking the grapes, taking one at a time till they were all gone. On going out of the door he called back to his friend, 'Now, mind you eat those grapes ;
they will do you all the good in the world'! A well-known archbishop was also noted for his absent-mindedness. Dining at home one evening, he found fault with the flavour of the soup. Next evening he dined out at a large dinner party. Forgetting for the moment that he was not in his own house, but a guest, he observed across the table to his wife, This soup is, my dear, again a failure.
There are many amusing examples of the infantile ignorance of judges, such as the late Lord Coleridge's Who is Connie Gilchrist ?' Sir Henry Hawkins's 'What is hay?' and Earl Halsbury's Who was Pigott ?' In a libel action by a lady journalist against Mr. Gilbert a few years ago, Sir E. Clarke read from a book of the plaintiff's a description of Chopin’s ‘umbershaded hair. Lord Russell of Killowen's face assumed a look of blank astonishment. What shade?' said he. Umber-shaded,' replied Sir Edward. 'Yes, but what shade is that ?' pressed the Chief Justice. The British jury could stand it no longer. • Brown, my lord-brown,' they all cried with one voice; and the case proceeded. Mr. Justice Ball, an Irish judge, was noted for his amusing manifestations of ignorance, but whether they were real or pretended has never been clearly established. He tried a case in which a man was indicted for robbery at the house of a poor widow. The first witness was the young daughter of the widow, who identified the prisoner as the man who had entered the house and smashed her mother's chest. Do you say that the prisoner at the bar broke your mother's chest ?' said the judge in astonishment. 'He did my lord,' answered the girl; ‘he jumped on it till he smashed it entirely.' The judge turned to the Crown Counsel and said, “How is this? Why is not the prisoner indicted for murder ? If he smashed this poor woman's chest in the way the witness has described, he must surely have killed her. But, my lord,' said the counsel, “it was a wooden chest'! Some men were indicted at the Cork Assizes for riot and assault before the same judge. The prisoners had beaten two labourers who were drawing turf from a bog belonging to an obnoxious landlord. One of the witnesses said, in the course of his evidence, 'As we came near to the bog we saw the prisoners fencing along the road.' • Eh! what do you say the prisoners were doing ?' asked Mr. Justice Ball. Fencing, my lord, • With what ?' 'Spades and shovels, my lord.' The judge, looking amazed, said to the Crown Counsel, 'Can this be true? Am