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stares them in the face. Unaccountable as it may seem, I myself once bought for £1 a first-rate copy of Alken's "National Sports of Great Britain," 1821, a scarce folio book full of colored plates. It was wedged in among a quantity of furniture, and had escaped observation, although there were several booksellers in the room.
The highest form of genius to be met with in book-men is, however, the capacity possessed by a very few of them to detect the author of an anonymous book by reference to the style in which it is written. If we happened to meet with "Swellfoot the Tyrant," for a trifling sum and passed it by, we should deserve our fate, for the authorship is so generally and widely known that there is no excuse for any book-man who is unacquainted with the facts surrounding it. But were we to discover another poem by Shelley, which no one had ever heard of before, and also be able to prove conclusively that he must ex necessitate, have been the author of it, that indeed would be a triumph of skill. Some few books have been rescued in this way, "Alaric at Rome," for instance, which was discovered and assigned to Matthew Arnold simply and solely by reference to the style. "Alaric at Rome" made a sensation when the authorship came to be known, and book-hunters were searching high and low, and giving commissions in hot haste. A few copies were unearthed in this way, but the number was exceedingly small, not more than two or three, I believe, and the pamphlet, for it is nothing more, is at this moment an object of deep interest to the few, who are in reality very many, when we come to reflect that none but perhaps half a dozen can ever hope to possess it.
When we get into bookland, more particularly into that secluded corner of it where specialists assemble to compare notes and exhibit their treasures, confusion springs up on the instant. The specialist cannot always know his business thoroughly. If you mention a particular book which comes within his purview, he will probably tell you how many copies of it are known to exist, and where they are, how many of the total number are cropped, and to what extent, and whether the titles have been "washed" or otherwise renovated. He knows accurately the original cost in money of each, and how much each would be likely to sell for were it brought to the hammer. All this is, of course, good and solid information, but it is too microscopically minute and exact to interest any one outside a very small circle. To most of us these details are unimportant, and yet every lucky find must pass some specialist, who assigns to it its proper position in point of excellence, and makes it keep its place. For this reason I have been charged with the offense of speaking about him as though he were a common bookworm, ready to feed on
anything that came in his way, which is, of course, flat treason, not by any means to be silently borne by the elite.
It is difficult for me to avoid a certain feeling of sadness in standing here to-night, for it is twentyseven years since I last delivered an inaugural address to the Philosophical Institution. Twentyseven years is a long time. Much has happened since then; many have gone and all are changed. In the chair was the venerable and sagacious form of Lord Colonsay, who looked as wise as Thurlow, and was probably much wiser. What a formidable listener I felt him, with his prodigious white hair and bushy white eyebrows! Few prisoners in the dock can have gazed on him with more apprehension than I on that night. Then there was Blackie. We shall miss to-night genial calls for a speech from him, and the not less genial response. There were Sir George Harvey, the kindly president of our Academy; Mr. Gordon, twice Lord Advocate and then Lord of Appeal; the gentle and venerable Sir William Gibson Craig; Dr. Matthews Duncan, whose rugged manner veiled so warm a heart; George Harrison, the memory of whose excellence survives amongst the best of our Lord Provosts; last, and not least, the uncle and second father I so lately lost, so well known and loved in Edinburgh, the warm friend of this institution, Bouverie Prim
All these familiar faces which encouraged me in 1871, will not be on this platform to-night. We shall miss, too, the face of another friend, also a
hearty supporter of this institution—I mean John Ritchie Findlay; Edinburgh can scarcely have had a citizen of more truly public spirit. We shall long miss him, never more than here. It is, then, with a necessary sadness that I speak to-night after so long an interval. That is not the only reason which makes it difficult for me to thank you as I could wish for the honor you have done me in electing me as your president.
For I stand in the fifty-second year of our institution as seventh on an illustrious roll. It begins with Adam Black, a great citizen and servant of Edinburgh; then comes the brilliant and wayward Christopher North. Third there comes Macaulay, in the glory of the second installment of his History. He was succeeded by Brougham, then in the commencement of decline, who was followed by Carlyle, whose connection with Edinburgh was so signal and pathetic. Then, in 1881, you choose my immediate predecessor, Mr. Gladstone, who had
*Inaugural address by the Earl of Rosebery, as President of the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution, Nov, 25, 1898.
just, in a scene of matchless enthusiasm, renewed, as it were, his foothold in Edinburgh. It makes me blush to record these names and to stand in the place of these men. But as time and death make havoc in the ranks of mankind, we cannot pretend to fill the gaps. We can only close them and move on. My impression, however, is, that of your presidents the most illustrious have only been names to you. At least, during the thirty years that represent my life as your neighbor, I can recall no president of your institution who has taken part in its proceedings. I speak under correction, and I do not forget that Macaulay made his famous speech in 1846, on the literature of Great Britain, at a meeting of this institution. But he was not then president, while the occasion appears to have been a convivial one, and not, as now, a mere feast of reason. You have taken a new and dangerous course in electing the man on the spot, for in such a case you may have taken King Stork instead of King Log. I promise you that I offer no such dangèr; but suppose it had been Brougham, one of my predecessors, who had lived at Dalmeny during his presidency. He was capable each year, not merely of delivering the inaugural address, but the entire course of lectures, and I verily believe that had he been challenged he would have insisted on doing so. Mr. Gladstone, too, could have done the same thing. He could have proffered at once as the great attraction a course of lectures on Homer, and, with scarcely less of zest, a course of lectures on Dante. But after these were exhausted, if, indeed, his love and enthusiasm with respect to these subjects could ever have been exhausted, he could have given the entire course on subject after subject for winter after winter, with ever fresh knowledge and fire. And the audiences would have packed the hall night after night, although indifferent to the topic, so long as they could watch the inexhaustible play of his features and listen to the matchless melody of his voice. You will gather from these words that I regard Mr. Gladstone as the ideal president of this institution, that is, had he been able to devote himself, as a country neighbor, to your business. That may seem small praise for one who held so commanding a place in the British Empire and the world at large. But I am speaking of one Mr. Gladstone. There were a hundred Mr. Gladstones. Mr. Gladstone would have been an ideal president for you if only in the character of the constant lover and explorer of books. For I take it to be a fact beyond contradiction that Mr. Gladstone was one of the most bookish statesmen that ever lived; or rather, to put it differently and more accurately, no one ever attained such eminence as a statesman who was essentially so bookish a man. Sir George Cornewall Lewis was not less bookish, perhaps, but he never stood on or approached Mr. Gladstone's
pinnacle. He was, too, more of a book-lover and book-writer than of a statesman. Sound and sagacious as was his political judgment, admirable as are his public works, he will stand higher in the field of letters than in that of politics. Then there is Macaulay, one of your presidents. On his herculean feats as a man of books, I dare not dwell. I would rather give you the pleasure of reading them in his fascinating biography by his brilliant nephew. Macaulay seems to have reached his climax in India. On his voyage out, he had read, he says, “insatiably the 'Iliad' and 'Odyssey,' Virgil, Horace, Caesar's 'Commentaries,' Bacon's 'De Augmentis,' Dante, Petrarch, Ariosto, Tasso, 'Don Quixote,' Gibbon's 'Rome,' Mill's 'India,' all the several volumes of Voltaire, Sismondi's 'History of France,' and the seven thick volumes of the 'Biographia Britannica.'" And, again, in another account, he says: "I devoured Greek, Latin, Spanish, Italian, French, and English folios, quartos, octavos, and duodecimos." After his arrival, he sums it all up by saying: "Books are becoming everything to me. If I had at this moment my choice of life I would bury myself in one of those immense libraries that we saw together at the Universities, and never pass a waking hour without a book before me." There speaks the true man of books, but, unluckily, Macaulay does not help us with a parallel, for in him the political side, gorgeous as were his speeches, is obscured by the literary; and it is safe to say that few of the readers of to-day, as they pore spellbound over the essays and the history, know or recollect that their author was a cabinet minister.
Bookishness and statesmanship are, one would think, scarcely compatible. Nothing, indeed, could seem more discordant and incompatible than the life of the library and the life of politics. The man of books may steal through life like a shadow, happy with his simple pleasure, like a caterpillar on a broad green leaf, untortured by the travail of authorship or the candor of the critic, and leave it with his name unknown until his library be sold, should he, perchance, have books to sell. The man of politics leads possibly a more useful, certainly a more arduous, life career. He lives in the public eye, almost in the public grasp. Out of doors, there is the reporter; in the seclusion of his home, there is the interviewer. Both, presumably, are hungry to receive the ideas as they pass from his capacious brain, though some go so far as to declare that the interviewer and the reporter are less the seekers than the sought. Alert, bustling, visible, deriving even a certain popularity from the fact of being known by sight, speaking to his engagements whether he has anything to say or whether he has not, appearing on his platform, whether he be brisk and well or sick and sorry, like an actor, only that he has to find his own words, bringing together as
well as may be all sorts and conditions of men, with one eye apparently on the political weather, and the other, it is to be hoped, on his political conscience. A hurricane of life, the essential quality of which is publicity.
I speak, it is to be observed, only of obvious externals, and only enough of these to indicate the natural antipathy between the life of politics and the life of books, and yet Mr. Gladstone, who rode the whirlwind and directed the storm of politics, was bookish to an extreme degree. He had not, indeed, reached the superlative and morbid form of bookishness when a man is called a bookworm. The fresh breezes of the thousand active interests prevented such a development. But with encouragement and fostering circumstance, he had been nurtured in literary traditions like his great rival, had his health been feeble, it is not difficult to imagine him a bookworm immersed in folios, a heluo librorum. But, as things were, he loved books as much as a man may without a suspicion of bibliomania. As a matter of fact, he had none of what is called bibliomania about him. To first editions or broad margins or vellum copies he was indifferent. Had he been a very wealthy man, even this form of the noble disease might have taken him. As it was, he loved collecting, buying, handling books. It was a joy to him to arrange with his own hands the books in the library he had founded in memory of St. Deiniol. It was a sport to him to hunt down books in sale catalogues. It was a sacred trust to him to preserve the little treasures of his youth, a classic or two he had at Eton, the book given to him by Hannah More. No one could have seen him reading in the "Temple of Peace," as he significantly called his study, and have deemed it possible for him to be happy in any other capacity. Those who had witnessed that sight must have felt persuaded that when he retired from public life in 1875, nothing could ever draw him from his beloved retreat. They might well have anticipated that with old books, old friends, old trees, with a hundred avenues of study to complete or explore, with a vast experience of life and affairs to discuss, with trees to cut and plant and worship-for he was a tree worshiper as well-and, above all, with the vital care and responsibility of a living faith pervading him, he might well rest and be thankful. All this might have been safe enough to predict of an ordinary, or even remarkable man, but Mr. Gladstone was a great deal more than a remarkable man. He was a number of remarkable men, and, as soon as he heard the clash of a conflict in which he saw, or thought he saw, the righteous fighting the unrighteous, the fighting Gladstone could not restrain himself, and left his tent for the battle, taking the bookish Gladstone somewhat reluctantly with him. It was, then, his extraordinary enthusiasm and faith
in great causes that was the salt that prevented his stagnation into mere bookishness. But he had another safeguard still. It was his principle in reading to make his exports balance his imports. He took in a great deal, but he put forth a great deal. His close study of a book was pretty sure to precede an article on that book. It was impossible for him, under this principle, to sink into the mere passive and receptive reader. I remember, too, his applying it in conversation to an ecclesiastical statesman for whom he had a real admiration. "I dare say," he remarked, in answer to some disparaging criticism as to thinness of matter, "I dare say that, as he has to speak so often, he has to put forth more than he can take in to replace his outputs." I do not doubt, then, that his principle of balancing exports and imports would have kept his mind active, even had it not possessed other animating and quickening principles. I reckon over all this to explain, so far as I can, the paradox of a bookish statesman, of a bookworm-to use the old expression-who was at the same time a man of practical business and affairs, one of the rarest of all combinations.
Let us test this assertion by instances; let us take the case of Prime Ministers, as an average representative of men of affairs. If you glance roughly over the Prime Ministers since the beginning of the last century, you will find Harley as a bookworm; but even he was rather a collector than a reader, and can hardly be called an eminent statesman. Bolingbroke, who was perhaps Prime Minister for a few hours, was a book-lover after his fall, or said he was. But in his days of office and youth and frankness, though he came a brilliant scholar from Eton, he cannot have much consorted with books. Stanhope had a library which still exists intact at Chevening, preserved in a separate room-a priceless example in the book collection of a Minister in the early eighteenth century. Sunderland founded a great library, mainly, I think, of the editions of the classics, which went from Althorp to Blenheim with the elder branch, afterwards replaced by an even nobler collector. Then we come to Walpole. The sublime solace of books, which soothed even the gnawing ambition of his fiercest enemy, was denied to him. No one deplored this after his resignation more than himself. Once, on seeing a friend reading in his own library at Houghton, he expressed this feeling: "I wish," he said, "I took as much delight in reading as you do. It would be the means of alleviating many tedious hours in my present retirement, but, to my misfortune, I derive no pleasure from such pursuits." And again, in the same room he said to Henry Fox, "If you can read it is a great happiness. I totally neglected it when I was in business. It has been the whole of my life, and to such a degree that I cannot now read a
page.' A warning to all Ministers; and for his neglect of one branch of literature he gave one piquant and famous reason, "Do not read history, for that, I know, must be false." But he found in his country retirement one resource which he shared with Mr. Gladstone, who had all, or nearly all, the resources, for both statesmen delighted in trees. "My flatterers," wrote Walpole in a passage of such pathetic beauty that one can scarcely credit. his deficiency of literary taste, "my flatterers are all mutes, and the oaks and beeches and chestnuts seem to contend which shall best please the lord of the manor. They cannot deceive; they will not lie." And the tree was as living to Gladstone as to Walpole, but with him it was only one of innumerable living interests. From Walpole onwards, we meet with no bookish Prime Minister till we get to Lord Grenville. He was, no doubt, a man of strong literary tastes, but he does not come into competition with Mr. Gladstone as an omnivorous reader, much less with the eminence, fullness and energy of Mr. Gladstone's public life. But a friend who used to visit him gives a picture of his old age, sitting, summer and winter, on the same sofa, with his favorite books on the shelves just over his head, Roger Ascham among them, Milton always within reach. He, at any rate, in his sixty-sixth year, was clear as to the choice between literature and politics. A Minister leaves him to go to his office. "I would rather he was there than I," says Grenville. "If I were to live my life over again," he continued, with a sigh, "I should do very differently." The next possibly bookish Prime Minister was Canning, but with a literary side all his life he was only Prime Minister for a few months. Beyond Canning I hardly dare to go. Melbourne, indeed, was a great reader, and, like Mr. Gladstone, a great reader of theology, but he left behind him a library of odd volumes, which puts him out of the category of book-lovers. Sir Robert Peel, like some of the statesmen of the last century, came to the business of politics as a brilliant specimen of Oxford scholarship. Lord John Russell was, perhaps, more a writer than a reader of books. The only book I think mentioned by Lord Palmerston in his correspondence, is "Coningsby." Then we come to the author of "Coningsby," "born," as he says, "in a library," more bookish, perhaps, than Mr. Gladstone in early and less in later life. But all this is dangerous ground. We are passing from the the land of shadows into actual life. I know not whether to stop. But once, when I was a child, I was taken to see Hatfield. In the library we saw a tall, thin figure carrying a huge volume. The housekeeper paused in awe, saying, "That is Lord Robert Cecil." It was a bookish figure, then outside politics, but now Prime Minister. I turn my face briskly from the alluring present to the prudent
past. Shall we find outside the list of Prime Minister, many, in the secure latitudes of the past, who compete with Mr. Gladstone in being bookish men in high Ministerial office? Clarendon is beyond my horizon, but there is, of course, Addison, who was a Secretary of State, but so indifferent a one as to fail entirely in one point of comparison. Then there is Bolingbroke, to whom I have already alluded, and who would require a volume to himself.
There is Burke, a mighty force in politics and in letters, but never in such office as to demonstrate himself a great Minister, any more than Charles James Fox, who held office for too short a time; but Charles Fox had a real passion for literature, could talk of it the whole day and over the whole range of it. He, I think, as a real lover of books, approaches most nearly to Mr. Gladstone, and both had a common devotion to Homer. Homer was the author that Charles Fox most loved to read, but he would also read all the novels that he could get hold of. In conversation he would range over almost the whole field of literature with zest and passion, and without apparently once straying into politics. A friend has recorded how in a single day he would discuss Homer and Virgil, Eschylus and Euripides, Milton and Massinger, Pope and Addison, Gibbon and Blackstone, Sophocles and Shakespeare, Metastasio, Congreve and Vanbrugh, Cowper, Fielding and Burns. He almost convinces himself that Burns is a better poet than Cowper, but he concludes by saying, finely enough, that poetry is the great refreshment of the human mind. No one, surely, can deny that Fox was a man of books, but he is not a parallel for the combination, in which Mr. Gladstone was unique, in that he was only a Minister for a few months, once under circumstances dubious, if not sinister, and once when he was dying. He was not then, as his successor was, carrying on simultaneously, on parallel lines, a great career as a statesman in office, and a delightful life in a library. Moreover, all this, except in the case of the "History of James II." which slumbers on our shelves in majestic quarto, was without any result. Nor was there in him, as I read him, a passionate concentration and application of that reading that we saw in Mr. Gladstone. "His favorite Sultana Queen," as with his royal ancestor, "was sauntering," and sauntering was abhorrent and impossible to Mr. Gladstone. Charles Fox, at any rate, after ruining himself at cards, could sit down and derive an instant solace from Theocritus, and, indeed, as a rule, the public men of the last century seem to have been fairly well equipped in what Captain Dugald Dalgety called "the humanities." They would have blushed not to understand a Latin quotation; they could bandy and bet over them as Pulteney did with Walpole, but they do not seem to have been men of books.
There are, perhaps, two signal exceptions, statesmen of eminence and power in the first rank, who were also men of books, and I do not feel perfectly sure even of one of these two-I mean Carteret and Chesterfield. The great exemplar in the eighteenth century of the combination of literature and politics was undoubtedly Chesterfield. Perhaps, indeed, the only startling deficiency in his intellectual equipment was his unaccountable ignorance of the mother tongue of that Hanoverian dynasty which he was so anxious to serve. There his rival, Carteret, had the advantage of him-and it was not slight-but Carteret never pretended to, or, indeed, would have cared for, the sovereignty in the literary world that was occupied by Chesterfield, and moreover, their habits were very different. One loved cards and the other wine, but it was the delight of Chesterfield to combine his gambling with polite society, until deafness excluded him altogether from conversation. Carteret, on the other hand, kept a large, plain, hospitable table, where burgundy flowed freely, but he was the best Greek scholar of his age. He had left Christ Church with a rich store of classical learning. To this he added a consummate knowledge, not merely of modern politics, but of modern languages. He is said to have been at his ease in French, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, and Portuguese, but he seems always to have been faithful to his first love of the classics. On his death-bed, indeed, he repeated with sonorous emphasis six lines from the "Iliad," for he, scarcely less than Mr. Gladstone, worshiped and cherished Homer. "Ah, friend," he said, in words of Sarpedon-I quote from Mr. Andrew Lang's translation—“Ah, friend, if once escaped from this battle we were forever to be ageless and immortal, neither would I fight myself in the foremost ranks nor would I send thee into the war that giveth men reason, but now-for assuredly ten thousand gates of death do every way beset us, and these no mortal may escape nor avoid-now let us go forward.” There is something sublime in the dying statesman signing his last papers with these words on his lips. It is in the grand old style, and we may infer perhaps that the thoughts of his old age were those of Grenville, and that he repented him of the choice that he had made; but words spoken in sickness can scarcely represent the judgment or passion of the man entering life. Carteret was too ardent a spirit to refrain from active or even fiery ambition, and it would be tempting to draw his character, one of the most interesting of his century, but that would be outside of my compass. I am only asserting his character as a man of learning and a man of affairs. Of absolute bookishness he was strongly suspected, and classics were to be found, it was said, in his dressing-room. But I am content to make the claim that he was eminently and concurrently a
scholar and a statesman. It is, perhaps, difficult to understand on what claim or merit was based Chesterfield's literary throne. That he occupied it is sufficiently evidenced from the fact that Johnson, who was no courtier, had thought of dedicating his dictionary to him. A few essays, more or less anonymous, were all the productions known to his contemporaries--essays which appeal but little to us. His letters to his son and his godson, on which rest his fame—and which, indeed, to some of us seem dreary enough—were posthumous. In these letters, however, we find symptoms of his bookishness. From them we may suppose him versed in the literature of his own country, of France, and perhaps of Italy. In England his idol is Bolingbroke. In France he sees such perfection that one would infer that he worships there a literary polytheism; but his verdict upon Italian literature separates him forever from my predecessor in your presidency. The only Italian poets that he thinks worth reading are Tasso and Ariosto; he deliberately excludes Dante-a veto which seems an abiding slur on his perception, and which, in Mr. Gladstone's judgment, would have constituted him a sort of literary outlaw. Moreover, in spite of Chesterfield's undoubted love of reading, he places on record an injunction which strikes him altogether out of the category of thorough bookishness. "Lay aside," he solemnly says, "the best book whenever you can go into the best company, and depend upon it, you change for the better." Perhaps, when we remember that the best society, in the highest sense, is rarely attainable, he is right, but then we might not all agree as to what constitutes the best society. I am not going to discuss the point tonight, but I strongly recommend it to the debating societies of our University, which, after a protracted existence, must be gaping like stranded oysters for fresh subjects of polemic. It is in any case a hard saying, and must be held to exclude Chesterfield from the straitest sect of the worshipful company of bookmen. Mr. Gladstone would certainly not have subscribed to it in this bare and absolute form. But in any case, were Chesterfield ten times as bookish as he was, he would not have equalled Mr. Gladstone any more in that quality than in the length and splendor of his public career. There is no parallel between them. I only take Chesterfield because I can think of nobody else.
I believe, then, as I said before, nowhere in history, so far as I know, is there an instance of so intensely bookish a man as Mr. Gladstone who was at the same time so consummate a man of affairs. I limit myself to the last two centuries, as alone offering conditions analogous to those in which Mr. Gladstone lived. Of course, I guard myself by saying that I am not now speaking of the mere collectors of libraries, in which several-perhaps many