LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Reminiscences of a Literary Life

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For all the favours, important services, and benefits for which I am indebted to my generous patroness and friend, the Countess of Jersey, I count among the greatest of all, my acquaintance, and I may now say friendship, with this brave soldier, able statesman, and excellent and most kind-hearted man. I was well acquainted with his noble character, with his conduct on the field of Corunna, with his admirable decision at Albuera, with the whole of his military career from the time that he first drew his sword in Portugal, down to the time when he sheathed it in India, after achieving the two glorious victories of Moodkee and Ferozeshah. As Sir Henry Hardinge, I had often admired him as a spirited debater and a clear-headed man of business, in the House of Commons.

No one ever brought up the Army Estimates, or discussed matters connected with the Service, as well as he did when Secretary of War. He did not pretend to be an orator, or a maker of long, set speeches; but he was uncommonly smart and quick as a debater, and could always keep his own, and reply on the instant to his adversaries. In this respect he was not inferior to the long-practised and very literary John Wilson Croker; while his manner, his tone, and personal bearing, were far superior to those of the cold, sarcastic, ex-Secretary to the Admiralty. Sir Henry could say his sharp, cutting things, and he did say a good many of them during
those last stormy, tempestuous debates on the Reform Bill; but there was so much heart and earnestness in all that he said, that few or none could take offence. He would never go beyond his depth, or affect to be learned. He could never forget the advice the
Duke gave him when he was entering Parliament for the first time, and much doubting of success.

Hardinge,” said Wellington, “speak only on subjects that you well understand, never quote Latin, and you will do very well.” This story has been applied to Sir George Murray. A mistake. Sir George was a very considerable scholar, which Sir Henry had not had time to become, as he joined his first regiment in Canada when he was little more than fifteen years of age. One day, Lady Jersey, in her kindest manner, told me that I had an admirer in Lord Hardinge, that he and his sons were greatly pleased with my History of British India, and that his lordship wished to make my acquaintance, and to do me a good turn. I was introduced in the course of that same day, a bright, cheerful, sunny day of June, 1850; and from that day to this, 25th August, 1856, I have been almost constantly receiving some proofs of his lordship’s kindness.

I have never applied to him in vain for a favour; in most instances he has anticipated my wishes. His open countenance, his frank, hearty manner, his cheerfulness, the clear ring of his voice—like a silver bell—the penetrating yet caressing glance of his bright grey eye, won my heart at once, and now that I have nothing more to hope from him, now that he is departing from this world, I can safely say that no man was ever more grateful or more attached to him than I have been, or am.

When his lordship knew me only by my books, and by the too partial account of me given by Lady Jersey, he had rendered, through her ladyship, an important service to my son Charles, and at our very first interview he rendered him and me another.


“I see,” said his lordship, “that Sir James Hogg has appointed your son to the Cavalry and to the Bombay Presidency. This won’t do. I have not a very high opinion of our Indian Regular Cavalry; in it, your boy won’t learn his trade. It must be Infantry. Then, it will be best for him to go to Bengal, and to be near to Headquarters. I will give him a letter to Sir William Gomm, the Commander-in-Chief, and another to my good friend Colonel Birch, Military Secretary. They can help him a good deal; he will find them both at Calcutta. But now, do you go back to Lady Jersey, and get her to see the appointment set right. Sir James Hogg, who gives the cadetship, will have no difficulty in making the alteration. Who can refuse anything to Lady Jersey? But go at once! Her ladyship may be going out. My brougham will be at the door in a minute; take it as far as Berkeley Square, and then send it back for me, and come here to-morrow and tell me that we have succeeded.” I found Lady Jersey at home, and on the evening of that same day she did succeed with Sir James.

In the course of that summer, 1850, I had dinners and rather frequent and long interviews with Lord Hardinge, who had then, as he was holding no office, plenty of leisure time. At the end of the season, when London was emptying itself into the country, he invited me to South Park, and told me to come for two or three days, and to come often.

“You shall see my farming,” said he. “You shall see my tree-planting, in which, at least, I pretend to be as knowing as the Earl of Peterborough, who trimmed vines and planted quincunxes for Pope. You, who are a poet, can ramble about Penshurst Castle and Park, and think of Sir Philip Sidney and Arcadia. Our place is just above Penshurst.”

In October, on leaving Mr. Mountstuart Elphinstone’s (Hookwood Park), I drove across the country
to Penshurst and South Park, a delightful drive of some fourteen miles, through a quiet, secluded country which contains one or two old castles and some fine old manor-houses. At my arrival his lordship was out, but
Miss Hardinge told me that I should find him in a part of the plantation to which she pointed. As I approached it I heard the sound of someone sawing, and on getting up to the spot I found that his lordship was the sawyer.

With the stump of his left arm resting on a big bough, and with the saw in his right hand, the venerable statesman and warrior, the hero of Albuera, of Ligny, and of all those other fights, was sawing away that bough which interfered with a charming view of the grounds from the house. He welcomed me most cordially, but he did not talk much till he had finished the job. He then took me up a steep hill, on the summit of which he was building, with wood felled in his own park, a curious and picturesque summer-house, in imitation of one he had often admired at Simla in the Himalaya mountains. He was very proud of his work. “With a little aid from the carpenter and builder of the village,” said he, “we have done it all ourselves; Charles and I drew the plan, and our own people carried it out. I like to be improving, I like to be doing, and cannot bear idleness in any form. I never could.” A lady once paid him this compliment: “Lord Hardinge, I almost think it is lucky that you have but one hand, for if you had two hands you would never find work enough for both!” From the Himalayan kiosk we went to see some experiment he was trying in soils, manure, and pasturage; and thence to the farmyard, and to the splendid basse-cour or poultry-yard. Everything was of the first quality, and in tip-top order. He was very curious in poultry, and had all manner of breeds, from Cochin China, Malacca, Siam, China, and I know not how many other countries. He told me, in a very laughable way, why he did not
encourage the breeding of bantams. It was quite delightful to hear how he talked with the bailiff and with the farm-labourers, and to see his solicitude, his tenderness for a poor fellow who had been very ill. “You must get up your strength, John! A little port wine will do you no harm. Mr. Bixey will give you a bottle. Go up to the house and get it. Take care of yourself, for we can’t do without you in the plantation, and up at the summer-house.” This was the tone I invariably heard him use with his people, and it was this that made them so love him. Always close at his lordship’s heels when out, and always close at his side when in, was a very beautiful, high-bred, little pet dog, of which he was exceedingly fond. The affection was mutual, for never was dog so much attached to his master. The poor thing evidently pined and fretted if deprived, only for a single day, of his lordship’s company. He had another pet in the shape of a very peculiar Nepaulese dog, but he was getting old and lazy, and soon came to the end of his days. But the place was full of pets—as we generally find the country residences of affectionate people.
Lady Hardinge had hers, Miss Hardinge hers, and the sons theirs. Going round to the stables, I was introduced to his lordship’s favourite Arabian, poor Aliwal, who had carried his master at Moodkee and Ferozeshah, and who now frequently carried him over the greensward of the tranquil park, and down to the village of Penshurst, but seldom much farther. He was a beautiful horse, but not above the average height of Arabian or Persian Gulf horses. He whinnied before we got to the stable-door, and as his master petted him and caressed him with hand and voice he showed every symptom of equine delight. “Aliwal,” said his lordship, “is a gentleman; he has a deal of gallantry; let a man mount him and he starts off at a bound, and then continues to play sundry little pranks that are not quite agree-
able to timid riders. He does this even with me, at times. But let Lady Hardinge or my daughter mount him, and he is as steady as a judge, at setting off, and continues to behave with the greatest discretion.” I had afterwards opportunities of witnessing Aliwal’s exemplary behaviour with the ladies.

The house was delightful; not large, though his lordship had recently made some additions to it; it was tasteful, simple, and most comfortable—such a residence as any private English gentleman might possess and occupy. The dinner and the evening went off quite merrily, like every hour I have since passed in that hospitable place or in his lordship’s society. He was full of anecdote himself, and he was pleased with some he drew from me. The next morning, immediately after breakfast, I witnessed for the first time, but far from the last time, a little domestic scene which went to my heart, which brought the tears to my eyes; and which, by me, will not be forgotten until sense and memory utterly fail me, or until the hand of death be upon me. I would fain recall it when dying, and few things more touching or more holy could be recalled in one’s last moments.

We went into the hall for family worship, his lordship leading the way, Prayer-Book in hand. The hall was hung round with Indian firearms, pikes, lances, sabres, yataghans, daggers, bows and arrows, and other implements of war from India, Persia, Afghanistan, Nepaul, and other Oriental regions, and here and there was hung the skin of a tiger or of some other wild beast. On either side of the hall, placed longitudinally, the breech to the door at the lower end of the hall, and the muzzle pointing to the other end, was a magnificent Sikh cannon on its high and truly astonishing Sikh carriage. These had formed part of the spoil taken at Moodkee and Ferozeshah, and the Honourable East India Company had presented the two guns to his lordship as a pleasant souvenir of his Indian Campaign. I have
seen, in my time, plenty of guns of all ages, and of nearly all nations, but I have never seen two such pieces of ordnance as these Sikh guns, or any that could be at all compared with them, either as to the carriages or as to the pieces themselves. At the upper end of the hall, on a line between the two cannons, and in front of a magnificent rug made of a tiger’s skin, was a low, small, very unpretending reading-desk, and here the brave, pious-hearted old warrior took his seat, and read the short Morning Service, and a beautiful short prayer which I believe to have been his own composition. He read with perfect emphasis and propriety; nay, he read beautifully. I wish a good many of my friends in the Church could only read like him. He read so well because he felt so earnestly what he was reading. And as he read—
“His eyes diffused a venerable grace,
And charity itself was in his face.”
The juxtaposition, the strong contrast of War and Peace, of implements of slaughter and the prayers and precepts of holy religion, impressed me then, as always after when I took part in this family worship, more, far more, than I can express in words. Those two Sikh guns had vomited death on our devoted bands, and had not been captured without a fierce hand-to-hand fight, and a great loss on our side. His lordship made me observe the curious way in which bright iron seats for the drivers were placed within the wheels, and the all but inexplicable manner in which the very strong and thick iron tyre, apparently without any nails or rivets or screws, was put on the beautifully constructed wheel. I was admiring one of the fine tiger-skins, which had been so prepared that the head of the animal, entire, and in perfect preservation, was left attached to it. “I am proud of that,” said he, “for my son
Charles shot the animal, and gave me the skin.”


In the course of the day his lordship and I, and the little white dog, went all over the Park, and again over the farm, and the basse-cour. His lordship was talking like a farmer, and from his appearance he might very well have been taken for one. He wore an old hat, a brown paletot coat or coatee, a brown stuff waistcoat, tweed trousers, and thick-soled, hobnailed boots.

When en bourgeois his dress was always extremely plain and simple. He used to say, “We have now only two old dandies left, the Marquis of Anglesey, and your friend Lord Strangford. I farm my land,” said he, “for it gives me occupation, and I have always delighted in it. When I was a poor, young, struggling officer, I did not, like Napoleon, sigh for a city life, and the means of keeping a cabriolet of my own; but I often longed for the day when I should have a small estate in my own native Kent, and be able to farm it. You know what is commonly said of gentleman farmers. Well, now! I pretend that I farm not only without loss, but with profit, notwithstanding the pounds I now and then spend in experiments. I have an honest bailiff; and Bixey, my factotum and most faithful servant, is an excellent accountant. Not so much as an egg but is accounted for. We don’t sell much, but only see what I should have to spend if it were not for my farm, poultry-yard, pasturage, woodland, and the rest. I estimate that, according to current market prices, and put it down as so much profit. We are plain livers, as you see; we almost live on this estate, without having recourse to butchers or bakers, corn-factors, or hay-dealers. I don’t grow beef, I don’t meddle with bulls or oxen, we have only a few milch-cows; but I grow my mutton and my pork, my chickens and capons, and of these we always have a great plenty, and of the best quality.”

This time he talked very little about war, and not at all about politics. I have several times heard him
say: “I like to be one thing at a time, and all in one thing; when I am soldiering I like to be all soldiering. When I am in the country I am all country-gentleman and farmer. I will no more mix civil and military pursuits than I would dress myself half en militaire and half en bourgeois. In some of the Continental countries men commit this last mistake in costume; thinking, I suppose, that they must always carry something of the officer about them. Englishmen have better taste.” In the evening he related some very affecting anecdotes of
Sir Robert Peel, to whom he had been greatly attached, and whose memory he held in reverence.

His lordship was a convert, though a tardy one, I believe, to Sir Robert’s Free Trade policy; which I was not then, nor am now. He listened with patience and perfect good humour to some of my objections, and then said: “Well, whatever may be the result of Free Trade, Sir Robert meant it to be a blessing. His intentions were always noble, generous, right. He laboured over that scheme for years, his head was almost incessantly occupied with it. No statesman ever more ardently desired the good and greatness of his country; and though Sir Robert had a cool, calculating, retiring outward manner, he had a very ardent mind, and a very warm heart, as I well know! I was most deeply grieved at his death, and I shall never cease to regret him. Only six days before he fell from his horse in the Park, he was here, sitting where you now are, talking and chatting in a pleasant, animated way; and being, to all appearance, in perfect health. He left this, with me, on the Monday morning; on the next Saturday afternoon he was carried home, a maimed, broken, dying man! The shock was great to all of us, for we had enjoyed much of his intimacy, and with us he had always thrown off the ministerial toga, and had been cheerful, easy, and quite natural. Lady Hardinge can hardly yet bear to hear him spoken of. Take my word for
it, Sir Robert was a good man, and a pious man: pious without ostentation, cant, intolerance, or bigotry. He used so to like to attend our old Penshurst country church. It was the last place of worship he was in.”

The drawing-room was hung with a great number of very clever, spirited water-colour drawings made by Mr. Charles, and chiefly in India. There were views of battlefields, encampments, military stations, mosques, temples, and pagodas, all looking quite Oriental and quite true. His lordship prided himself in them, as he did in every good or clever thing that proceeded from his children. The next morning I reluctantly took my departure. In the month of December I again went from Mr. Elphinstone’s to South Park. It was the 22nd of the month. “You come at a right time,” said his lordship. “This is the fifth anniversary of the Battle of Ferozeshah. We will celebrate it with an extra bottle of claret. Five years ago, at this hour of the morning, I had plenty of work on my hands, and plenty of anxiety in my mind! I was standing among the captured Sikh guns, surrounded by the wounded, dead, and dying. But let us take a walk and forget it.”

After dinner there was no toast-giving or speech-making; but his lordship calmly yet feelingly spoke of the slain, and very animatedly spoke of many of the officers who had displayed courage and ability. He warmly praised Colonel Abbot of the Engineers, who had constructed a bridge for the passage of the army. “If it had not been for Adams, and his readiness and skill, we should have been in a mess! If it had not been for Abbot and his bridge, I hardly know how the campaign might have ended!”

I never knew his lordship to be avaricious or stinted in his praise; when he praised he did it, as it was in his very nature to do everything else,
heartily, con core ed anima. The next morning he was all the farmer again. I cannot avoid the conviction that even trifles told of such a man as
Lord Hardinge must have an interest, and be worthy of brief record and long remembrance.

As I was leaving, on the following afternoon, and as his lordship was giving me his hand in the trophied hall, he suddenly said in his smart, rapid manner: “Oh! You have children at home, and children love fruit, which is not easily obtained at this season of the year. We have just received some splendid pears, a present from the Governor of Guernsey. Bixey, bring them here and fill a basket for Mr. MacFarlane.” He helped, with that ever active one hand, to pack the fruit and to secure it from injury by wrapping it in soft paper. The fruit was exquisite, but we had some scruple about eating it. Indeed we felt something like the old soldier to whom his lordship had given a blackcock. This was a little incident with which he was greatly pleased. At one of the railway-stations between Penshurst and town, he recognized in one of the Company’s servants a pensioned sergeant who had behaved well at Moodkee and Ferozeshah. He made him a present, and always afterwards, when the train stopped at that station, he had a kind word for the old soldier. Mr. Charles Hardinge, who was away shooting in the Highlands of Scotland, sent up to London a magnificent basket of game. The family were down at Penshurst, and his lordship took charge of the basket, which he opened on his way down, in order to give the soldier a splendid blackcock. The next time he saw the man, he asked him how he and his wife had relished the bird. “Oh,” said the sergeant, “we could never think of eating a bird that was killed by Mr. Charles, and given by Lord Hardinge! Instead of cooking the cock, we had him stuffed and put into a glass case, and a very handsome thing it is, and a great ornament, and a greater honour
to our humble house.” “My fine fellow,” rejoined Lord Hardinge, holding out a hand that was not empty, “you shall have some other birds; and something else which I insist upon your cooking and eating, and which cannot be kept, or stuffed.” “Now,” said his lordship in relating the story, “this poor sergeant must have had heart and imagination within him. An educated man would hardly have paid a neater compliment, or have done it in a neater, shorter manner. That man is fit for something better than porter at a railway-station.”

I have no doubt that the poor sergeant often got some of his lordship’s mutton and poultry. This brave man’s heart was always so accessible, and his hand always so open. No one ever more enjoyed the luxury of doing good, or the happiness of seeing smiling, happy faces around him. What a different world would it be if there were a vast many more Henry Hardinges in it! With anything base, sordid, meanly selfish or ungenerous, he had no patience; his eye would flash, his lips quiver, and his voice go into a sharp treble, at the mention of any paltry act. In his time he had made or found plenty of ingrats, but although I have heard him complain of this, or rather of poor human nature, it had no effect on his warm native benevolence and beneficence. “A man,” said he, “does not do good to get equal good in return. If he does it is traffic and barter. I am not surprised that so many men in public life and in high employment should come to entertain a very low opinion of human nature; for they, of necessity, see so much of its selfishness, insincerity, trickery, and falsehood. I would rather not have very much to give away in the shape of Government places, promotions, or pensions.

“Patronage is a heavy burden to bear, and it carries one into strange roads and dirty paths, and it too much familiarizes the mind with meanness and ingratitude.”


Although he is decided, firm, and even a little stern where any serious matter of duty or any high principle is concerned, no man living or no man that I have ever known has a more feeling, compassionate, tender heart than this brave, good, religious veteran. With the courage of a lion he has the gentleness of a gazelle. I have myself seen numerous instances of his tenderness of heart and quick sympathy with the sufferings of others. I have also watched, at times with the tears starting to my eyes, the gentle, affectionate way in which he speaks to, and in which he treats, not only his wife and children, but also his household servants, his woodmen, farm-labourers, and all who approach him, whatever their degree. This contributes immensely to render a day or two’s stay at South Park, Penshurst, a privilege and a perfect delight.

After the murderous Battle of Ferozeshah, his amiable Christian character was displayed to the greatest advantage. He visited all the wounded, whether officers or private, and he had a cheerful word, or a word of comfort, for all. The sufferers forgot their own pangs in the admiration his kindness elicited. He visited them again and again; sometimes with one, sometimes with both, of his sons, and he watched over their welfare with a solicitude which would not have been surpassed if they had all been his own children. Every little luxury to be obtained, no matter at what cost, in the camp bazaar or in the country, was procured for them by his command, and by the vigilant care he took in seeing his orders obeyed and carried out. (“In war,” says his lordship, “it is not enough to give orders—the General must see to their execution.”) One little homely incident is well deserving of record. It was Christmas Eve, and his lordship, then only Sir Henry, in going his rounds, heard one of the wounded men saying to his bed-neighbour and fellow-sufferer, “To-morrow is Christmas Day, but we shall
have no mince-pies!” “Yes, you shall, my fine fellow!” said Sir Henry, who forthwith ordered pies to be made; and by the morrow more than a thousand mince-pies smoked upon the board, and were distributed among the wounded soldiers. I have, somewhere, told this story in print. The following anecdote I have related only in conversation.

When the surgeons and their assistants were preparing to perform the necessary amputations, his lordship, with his son Charles, went through the ward, to comfort and encourage the patients. One poor fellow, quite a young man, said it was hard, at his time of life, to lose a leg. “Oh!” said Sir Henry, “Here is my son Charles who lost a leg long before he was your age, and yet you see how well and active he is, and how well he can walk and ride!” Another poor soldier moaned at the idea of having an arm cut off. “Courage, my fine fellow!” said Sir Henry. “You see that I have but one hand myself. I lost the other at Ligny, thirty years ago, and you see I have lived to be Governor-General of India. A man may do a great many things with one hand, and a great many more with only one leg.”

Twice when I induced him to speak of Sir John Moore’s disastrous retreat, the Battle of Corunna, and the death of Sir John, he was affected even to tears. The battlefield, the bleeding, dying General, and the mournful removal to the rear, seemed to reproduce themselves, and to be full, plain, and glaring before his eyes. It will be remembered that he was at Sir John Moore’s side when that brave and good man received his death-wound, that he was the first to dismount and to raise Moore from the ground, that he tried in vain to stop the effusion of blood with his sash, and that he helped his beloved General to the rear. In one of my works, in describing his conduct on this occasion, I had said that it was characterized
by the fortitude of a Christian soldier mingled with the tenderness of a woman. “Truer words,” said
Sir George Murray, “were never written! Little Henry Hardinge deserves all this and a great deal more!” His lordship is naturally of a warm temperament. I have seen him roused to anger, but not often, and never without cause.

Our neighbour, old Farmer C., had for some time the management of an estate that nearly adjoins South Park. As he passed for a good farmer, and as his lordship was so very fond of his own farm, and of trying experiments and making improvements in it, he not infrequently sent for C. and still oftener met him on his rides. “I never knew so affable a gentleman,” says C. “Why, bless you, he would talk with me by the hour together, and be just as easy and pleasant-like as if he had only been a farmer like myself. And he, such a very great man!” One morning that they were riding together, side by side, through the Park, the farmer’s horse flung out and kicked at his lordship’s pet Arab, poor dear Aliwal, who died last year in London, and now lies buried in the Park. Luckily the kick fell upon his lordship’s stirrup-iron, and no great harm was done. “I could have got off the brute and have cut his throat then and there,” says the farmer; “but his lordship was not in the least ruffled; he only smiled, and said: ‘A lucky escape, Mr. C.! If the kick had come a little higher I might have been minus a leg, as well as minus a hand. Let us thank God that it is as it is.’

“And I do assure you,” says Farmer C., “that I did thank God with all my heart and soul.”

Lord Hardinge is as full of religion as of loyalty. One morning, on going into the harness-room, he found one of his grooms reading a detestable, ultra-Radical weekly newspaper, in which the Altar was as little respected as the Throne. “My good fellow,” said he, “if you will read this mischievous trash,
read it outside, for I will not allow it to be brought within my lodge-gates. If you must have a newspaper here, the butler will lend you a better one.”

It has always been in my taste, or in my very nature, to love a veteran soldier, a brave, fighting one, better than any other sort of man. All that I have known—and at home or abroad I have known a good many—have been mild, modest, gentle. I think their manners the perfection of manners. That of Lord Hardinge is charming; so easy, so thoroughly unaffected, so kind, so caressing. . . . My children know, and will never forget, the extent of my obligations to this family.

Lord Hardinge has a very neat way of turning a note or short letter. He can be antithetical and epigrammatic. I have some letters of his, and I have seen a good many more, that are quite models for that very useful and necessary sort of composition. When my elder son Charles was preparing to go out to India in the Company’s service, his lordship said that he must have the pleasure of giving the young man his first sword. In effect, he gave him a great deal more than that. A week or two after, being in London, I received the following note: “You will get the sword at Wilkinson’s in Pall Mall. It is sure to be a good one—the best that can be made. May your son never draw it without necessity, nor sheathe it without honour.”

My dear boy did sheathe that sword with some honour after the second storming of Pegu, where he was one of the first over the palisades, and where his regiment did nearly all the work. He has the original note with him, and I have no doubt it has acted on him as a valuable monitor, and that it has given him courage and fortitude in the scenes of danger, fatigue, and sickness that it has been his lot to go through in these last five years and six months.


At Calcutta his lordship became very much attached to the late John Francis Lyall, a man of great worth and talent, son of the late George Lyall the East India Director, and consequently nephew to my friend, Dr. William Rowe Lyall, Dean of Canterbury. Under his lordship’s administration, Mr. J. F. Lyall became Judge-Advocate, and performed the duties of that office in a most satisfactory manner. Unfortunately, he soon fell a victim to the endemic diseases of Bengal. His interesting widow, now my very kind friend, returned to England with her only child, an infant daughter. On the first anniversary of poor Lyall’s death, his lordship was involved in all the turmoils, labours, and anxieties of the Sikh campaign; it was the day on which the terrible Battle of Ferozeshah was to be fought. Yet he remembered Lyall, and thought of his widow and child, and from that very battlefield he wrote her a most consoling and affectionate letter. And when his lordship gave up the Governor-Generalship and came home, among the first persons he looked up were the widow and the little girl, who, since then, have been frequent guests at South Park. Mrs. J. F. Lyall belongs to a wealthy and distinguished family. She is sister to Sir J. F. Davis, late Governor of Hong-Kong, author of our best book about China, and she is herself well provided with worldly goods; but presents from a man like Lord Hardinge cannot be otherwise than acceptable and highly prized. I know not how many he has made to the little girl, who, by the way, is now fast growing into a fine young woman. He has given her one of the prettiest Indian toys I have ever seen, the figure of an elephant with the howdah on its back, in pure solid gold, and beautifully wrought. I could adduce fifty other proofs of the tenderness of heart and generosity of disposition of Field-Marshal Viscount Hardinge, whose name be for ever honoured! Never, I believe, never in his life, and whether humble
or exalted, rich or poor, was this admirable man “sans chevalerie pour le malheur.

Though very anxious about him, ever since that black Aldershot Monday when he had his fit and fell to the ground almost at Her Majesty’s feet, I certainly did not expect the tidings of his death, this heartbreaking bereavement, quite so soon. He was so temperate, so regular in all his habits, so cheerful and so strong both of body and heart, that I fondly hoped that, being relieved from the terrible toils of the Horse Guards, and living quietly at his own dear Penshurst, with plenty of tranquil occupation and out- and in-door amusement, he might yet last a few years. I had quite recently received news that he was wonderfully better, that he had recovered the use of his hand—that dear one hand—and could walk about with the help of a supporting arm. I was arranging how I could go to him, having heard still better accounts of him from another quarter; when, yesterday evening, when calling upon an old man who is visiting Canterbury, I learned to my astonishment and grief that his lordship was no more, and that notice of his death was in the morning’s Times, which I had not seen.

The fact was brusquement and coldly announced by the unsympathizing, selfish old man, who has been living ninety-six years in the world, without ever having done anything good or generous in it, and who is still strong and hearty, and to all appearance likely to attain more than his hundredth year. Yes, he lives on, and a man like Lord Hardinge, whose life was one uninterrupted course of good and generous deeds, is taken from us in his seventy-second year. Fiat voluntas Dei. The grief is to us who remain, not to him who is gone. If heroic courage, fortitude to bear, kindness of heart, generosity carried to munificence, and an entire Christian faith, entitle man to eternal bliss, Henry Hardinge is in Heaven. I almost staggered as I walked home
from that ill-omened visit, and through the night I could not away with visions of the deathbed, and of the afflicted family. This morning, 26th September, I received from South Park the following letter written by Mr. Bixey, his lordship’s confidential man: “Dear Sir,—You will be grieved to hear of the decease of dear Lord Hardinge. On Tuesday morning he was exceedingly well, and walked in from the dining-room to the front hall, to prayers, all by himself. After prayers, he rode out on horseback from eleven to twelve-thirty, being perfectly well. He walked across the room only five minutes before he was seized, which took place at 1.30 p.m., and at eleven at night he expired, having been unconscious from about 2.30 p.m.
Dr. Locock and Mr. Gregory were both with him, and I believe he never felt a single pain. You will forgive my very short note, as I have not time, but feeling you would be anxious to know, I have written what I could.”

Thank God that his death was as easy as his life had been glorious! With far more truth than Walter Scott could say it of Byron, I can say of my departed benefactor and friend—
“There will be many peers
Ere such another Hardinge.”
But I must set aside this book, or not continue this mournful subject, until my sorrow be less new and keen.