Introduction

INTRODUCTION
SOME years ago my sister-in-law Lady Frederick Cavendish told me that it was her intention to leave me her Diaries after her death. When she died in April 1925 it was found that she had done so, and had confirmed in writing, what she had already said to me, that she wished my discretion as to the disposal or destruction of the Diaries to be absolute. On their coming into my hands I read them, of course, with great interest. But that could not be in itself conclusive in favour of offering any part of them to the public. What interested a relation who had known and loved the Diarist for five-and-twenty years, and who also knew, either personally or by personal report, many or most of the people who appear most often in her pages, would not necessarily interest the public. There are twelve volumes of the Dairy, and it was at once obvious that it could not all be published. Much of it as of most diaries is devoted to records of purely private doings and happenings in no way remarkable or even interesting. Such records too, with Lady Frederick as with most of us, inevitably recur again and again. What is done on one Sunday is apt to be done on the next also; the spring or autumn of each year repeats the ex¬periences of its predecessor. Each entry may by itself be interesting as a picture of the individual or the manners of the time. But too many of them are obviously tedious reading. Yet a Diary is a private and personal record, and to print only its accounts of the writer’s contact with great people or great events is really to destroy its character. The question I had to consider was whether I could make such a selection as would exhibit Lady Frederick’s life and personality as they were, both on her ordinary and, so to speak, on her extraordinary days ; and whether, if I could, the book would have a chance of interesting a wider public than that of her own friends. I decided to try, and these volumes are the result.

The Diaries extend over nearly twenty-eight years, from the time the writer was thirteen years old till the murder of her husband in 1882. After that she gave it up almost entirely, and I have not thought it desirable to make any extracts from the little she wrote between 1882 and her death. Her life was divided into three periods; twenty-three years of girlhood, eighteen of marriage, and forty-three of widowhood. Of the first forty-one years I shall give some account in the short introductions which precede each section of the Diary. But it may be advisable to give here a few biographical details of their principal events, before going on to say something about her later life which the Diary does not touch.

Lucy Caroline Lyttelton, afterwards Lady Frederick Cavendish, born in 1841, was the second daughter and second child of George William, fourth Lord Lyttelton, by his first wife, Mary, daughter of Sir Stephen Glynn. Lady Lyttelton’s elder sister, Catharine, was the wife of Mr. Gladstone. A list of the children of each of these marriages, most or all of whom make frequent appear¬ances in the Diary, is given in an Appendix. There were twelve of the Lytteltons, eight sons and four daughters, and Lord Lyttelton had three more daughters by his second wife. His mother, the “Granny” of the Diary, had been Lady Sarah Spencer, and through her Lord Spencer the statesman and Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, with his brother and successor in the title (the “Bobby” of the Diary), and his sisters Lady Sarah Spencer (“Tallee”) and Lady Sandhurst (“Va”), were cousins of the Lytteltons. Most of them appear often in the Diary, especially Lady Sarah and Lord Spencer (“Althorp”), who was Viceroy of Ireland at the time of the murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish. Through her grandmother, also, Lady Frederick was already, even before her marriage, distantly connected with the Cavendishes. She and Lord Frederick were in fact third cousins, her father, Lord Lyttelton, being second cousin to Lord Frederick’s mother, Lady Burlington. But I am not aware that the future husband and wife ever met till within a year or so of the marriage.

Lady Frederick’s childhood and youth were chiefly passed at Hagley, her father’s house in Worcestershire. She loved Hagley all her life with devoted affection, but it was at all times the memories connected with it that stirred her affection, not the beauty of the rooms, decorations, furniture, and pictures, nor the historical associations of the place; to all of which her father and most of his children, at any rate till the latter part of their lives, were almost indifferent. Later on, however, her brother Lord Cobham took such proud and loving care of its treasures, especially its books and pictures, as only a few owners of such possessions have the intelligence to take; and all who knew him were thankful that, if the disastrous fire which destroyed a good many of them in December 1925 had to come, it did not come till after his death, for in his old age it would have simply broken his heart. It was happy, too, for Lady Frederick that she died before it. But in her case the sorrow would rather have been for broken associations than for ruined works of art. The whole attitude of the generation she grew up in, which reacted so crudely against the literature and art of the eighteenth century, as well as her own personal convictions, especially in matters ecclesiastical, put her outside the possibility of caring much either for the art or for the literary or political associations of the house, nearly all of which came from its builder, the first Lord Lyttelton, the ally, and afterwards by his marriage the cousin, of Chatham, the friend of Pope, Thomson, and other poets and men of letters of that day.

There were not a great many events in Lady Frederick’s childhood. The only differences between the early years of the Lyttelton children and those of others in similar circumstances were that there was more cricket, more Church, and more unity and affection in them than in most families. There was a great alliance between the Hall and the Rectory, of which Lord Lyttelton’s brother, the beloved “Uncle Billy” of the Diary, was the occupant. The extracts which follow will give a sufficient picture of the way the years passed. The first event of importance in them was a great sorrow, the death of Lady Lyttelton after the birth of her youngest child, Alfred, in 1857. The loss of a mother during the sensitive years of childhood often makes a permanent impression of the seriousness of life upon those who experience it: and it was so with the Lytteltons, and especially perhaps with Lady Frederick, who never forgot that terrible time. Her elder sister Meriel, afterwards Mrs. Talbot, though only just seventeen, took her mother’s place, and the two sisters shared from that time the care of the younger children. But Meriel’s marriage followed in 1860, and for the next four years Lucy was the mistress of Hagley and, so far as could be, the mother of the motherless children.

In 1863 she became a Maid of Honour to Queen Victoria: an appointment which she, no doubt, partly owed to the high regard which her grandmother had gained from the Queen and the Prince Consort while acting in the capacity which made her son often speak of her as the “Governess of England.” Lady Lyttelton had in fact lived at Court between 1842 and 1850, and had had the supervision of the Royal schoolrooms and nurseries, to whose occupants she was affectionately known as “Laddle.” She was all her life a capital letter-writer, as may be seen in “Correspondence of Sarah Spencer Lady Lyttelton, 1787-1870,” edited by her great-granddaughter the Hon. Mrs. Hugh Wyndham (Murray, 1912). The Royal Family from the Queen downwards were therefore prepared to give Lucy Lyttelton a warm welcome for her grandmother’s sake; and it was to Lady Lyttelton that the Queen’s offer first came. A letter of hers survives in which she describes both Lucy’s excitement at the prospect¬”she shrieked and kicked and jumped about, between delight and fright” — and the graver approval of the family conclave: “We all agree that, for Lucy herself, it is likely to be most beneficial. She will be taught order and obedience and a certain liberality of mind from contact with heaps of different people and places which are all sure to improve her.” And if Lucy Lyttelton was to gain from her Maidship, her grandmother rightly thought that she brought with her one quality at least which Maids of Honour specially need and do not always possess. “Lucy is so entirely free from any disposition to gossip, which is the usual temptation in that profession, and so ready to occupy her time harmlessly, that she will do well in her place.” Altogether the prospect was a pleasant one and, as the young Maid came to Court full of exuberant loyalty, her brief period of service was a very happy one. Large extracts will be found from her interesting accounts of what she saw and heard and did at Windsor and Osborne.

But she had hardly been six months a Maid of Honour when she became engaged to Lord Frederick Cavendish, second son of the seventh Duke of Devonshire. Her marriage followed in June 1864, and was from the first day to the last one of perfect happiness. We shall see her again and again reckoning a chance of a few days alone with her husband as a kind of heaven on earth. Not that she and her husband were much alike: in fact they were in many respects the very opposite of each other. She was one of a family who talked from morning till night, all at once and on all sorts of subjects grave and gay, especially perhaps on matters ecclesiastical and religious. He was one of a family who seldom talked at all and never on Church topics. The change from the enthusiasm and the noisy gaiety of Hagley to the ducal silence of the meals at Chatsworth was, at any rate at first, very trying to Lady Frederick. And as will be seen, she always stood in some awe of the Duke and of her even more alarming brother-in-law Lord Hartington, the “Cavendish” of the Diary. Nor did the reserved and dignified atmosphere of Chatsworth assimilate very easily her exuberant unconventionalities. There is a story of her being asked by her sister-in-law, on one occasion when there was a large party in the house, to find out what the guests would like to do; which she did by calling out at luncheon, “Hands up those who would like to drive!” One would like to have seen the faces of some of the lunchers. In these ways there was a gulf to be crossed between her and her husband’s family. But the sisterly affection which grew up almost at once between her and the Duke’s only daughter, Lady Louisa, as well as her easy and affectionate relations with her husband’s younger brother, Lord Edward, helped to make her happy in her new world. Not that she needed any help. Her happiness was complete in her love of her husband and his of her.

The eighteen years of her marriage, as will be seen in the Diary, were spent in a regular progression from her own house in London to the three Devonshire country houses, Chatsworth and Holker and Bolton Abbey, with occasional stays at Hardwick. There were also of course frequent visits to relations and friends. The picture is one of a sort of social life which has now largely passed away. Lady Frederick’s London life was crowded with dinner-parties and “drums,” as they were then called, both of which were often more or less a political duty in those days when the world of politics was still also the world of society. But we shall see that she made a great deal of time for good works and going to church, even in her fullest seasons. And though Chatsworth and Bolton were often filled with large, and occasionally even with Royal, parties, there were many quiet days too when there was no party, and Lord Frederick was free both of business and politics and she and he were able to enjoy delicious “honeymoon” days, as she called them, riding or walking or reading together. Or, if he was away, at Barrow or in London, she and Lady Louisa and Lady Edward (wife of Lord Frederick’s younger brother) had their neighbours and cottagers to visit and the Duke to take care of.

Meanwhile politics were occupying an even larger part of her life. She who had been a Tory, or at least a Conservative, soon became a strong Liberal. What she would have done if her adored “Uncle William” had finally refused to join Palmerston’s Ministry and turned definitely to the Conservatives one cannot say. But before her marriage took place he had become the Whig Chancellor of the Exchequer, with the visible and not very distant prospect of leading the party, and leading it a good deal farther than Palmerston would ever let it go. And probably in any case she would have gone with her husband, though his Radicalism rather shocked her at first. He was a far more advanced Liberal than his more famous brother; indeed he advocated household suffrage when most Liberals and all Whigs thought any such proposal dangerous and even revolutionary. And though his wife could get him to come with her continually to church, often even on weekdays, she could not prevent him, when he entered Parliament, from voting for measures so abhorrent to her Anglicanism as the Burials Bill and the Bill for allowing Marriage with a Deceased Wife’s Sister.

His Parliamentary career began in July 1865, when he was returned unopposed for a division of the West Riding of Yorkshire, which he continued to represent for the rest of his life. He soon became a much respected and trusted member of his party and of the House of Commons. But he was a poor speaker, and never overcame physical difficulties which prevented his pronouncing certain words correctly. However, Gladstone, with whom he was at once through his wife brought into the closest relations, soon formed a high opinion not only of the nobility of his character, as to which everyone who knew him agreed, but of his brains and capacity, as to which there was less agreement. But Gladstone’s judgment, of course, soon became, in the Liberal Party, the all-important one: nor could it be any disadvantage to Lord Frederick, in those days, that he was the son of a great Whig magnate, or, in that or any day, that he had a brother in the Cabinet. If he had been, oratorically and otherwise, a quicker man, his promotion would no doubt have been more rapid. If he had not been a Cavendish, he might have been overlooked altogether. As it was, he became a Junior Lord of the Treasury in 1873, went out, of course, with his party in 1874, became Financial Secretary to the Treasury in 1880 and Chief Secretary for Ireland for a few tragic days in 1882. His appointment had been received with surprise, to say the least, by the House and the country. But Gladstone was by no means alone in the high opinion he had formed of his abilities. The permanent officials who with Gladstone had seen his work at the Treasury wrote of it with the greatest admiration. More than one had looked forward to his becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer. As to the beauty of his character there was only one feeling. One proof of it is enough. Half the House of Commons went down to Derbyshire to attend his funeral.

The latter part of Lady Frederick’s Diary is in¬creasingly full of her husband’s political career and of the political controversies in which he had his minor part, as her uncle Mr. Gladstone had the chief part, to play. They can be followed in the extracts here printed. But they by no means occupy the whole. Life in the country and life in London, shooting-parties and dinner-parties, days in the village and days at the London Hospital, Court balls and Church services, private friends and political allies, all crowd in upon the pages and unite to make a varied picture of the world of those days. And above all, of course, of the little world of the Diarist herself. Every event that varied the fortunes of the families of her own intimate affection, the births and deaths and marriages, the illnesses and disappointments and successes, of Lytteltons and Talbots and Cavendishes and Gladstones, to say nothing of Lawleys and Wortleys and Clives and others who stood a little farther off — all receive their record and their comment. Some of these will be found in their place. Here it will be enough to mention the two or three of them that are of exceptional importance.

In 1869 Lord Lyttelton married again, his second wife being Sybella Harriet, widow of Humphrey Mildmay, M.P., and daughter of George Clive, M.P. By his second wife he had three more daughters, the “little sisters” of the Diary. In his later years he suffered greatly from temporary fits of melancholia, during one of which he unhappily committed suicide. I have heard that after the catastrophe Gladstone used to lament that he had not persuaded his brother-in-law, who was a very brilliant scholar and had printed translations of “Comus” and “Samson Agonistes” into Greek, to undertake an English verse rendering of Homer. He believed that the daily portion of more or less mechanical but intellectual and congenial labour might have kept the mind from brooding on itself and averted the disaster. Lady Frederick and her father’s second wife were most affectionate friends, both before and after his death; and the connection was drawn still closer in 1880 by the marriage of Arthur Lyttelton, afterwards Bishop of Southampton, with Lady Lyttelton’s sister Kathleen Clive.

There are one or two other marriages which may perhaps be mentioned here, as the persons concerned in them appear very frequently in the Diary. First there is that of the third Lyttelton daughter Lavinia to Edward Stuart Talbot, first Warden of Keble and afterwards Bishop of Winchester. This was also a double marriage like the two marriages with the Clives: for Edward Talbot was the younger brother of the John Talbot who had married Meriel Lyttelton. Then there is the marriage in 1878 of Lady Frederick’s eldest brother Charles, afterwards Viscount Cobham, with the Hon. Mary Cavendish, daughter of the second Lord Chesham. And there are the marriages of Lady Frederick’s brother-in-law Lord Edward, who in 1865 married his cousin Miss Emma Lascelles, and of her sister-in-law Lady Louisa, who married in the same year Admiral the Hon. Francis Egerton, son of the first Earl of Ellesmere.

This is perhaps all that is necessary to say here by way of general Introduction to the passages which follow from the Diary. That ends, as I have said, with the murder of Lord Frederick in 1882. His widow lived on till 1925, and it may be well to add here a few words about her later life. When she lost her husband she had still forty-three years to live; so that in one sense her life was not half over. In another it was over already. In all those years she never for a moment forgot that she was a widow; and there were many things in her old life which she never cared to take up again. The social life which she had lived so fully between 1858 and 1882 she never resumed; or, if she did, it was only to a small extent and for a short time, for the sake of a niece or a ward. In the main she now kept to her own circle of relations and intimate friends.

But that did not mean either a solitary or an inactive life. She was, for instance, very far from giving up her interest in politics. And so long as Mr. Gladstone lived she remained very near the centre of the political world. During her widowhood, as throughout her married life, he was a constant guest in her house and she in his; and she entered enthusiastically into all or nearly all the crusades he embraced, especially into his Home Rule policy and his support of the Christian subjects of the Sultan. She was for many years, and up to her death, President of the society called “The Friends of Armenia.” In that capacity she was indefatigable in urging upon the Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries of her later life the duty and necessity of protecting that unfortunate people for whom she never ceased to feel a passionate sympathy. Here, as in pleading other causes in which she was interested, she was helped by her personal friendship with many of the leading statesmen not only of her own party in politics but of the other. On her own side there were, besides the Gladstones, Lord Spencer, a cousin whom she had known from her childhood ; Lord Granville, her husband’s cousin and perhaps the closest of Gladstone’s political followers; Sir George Trevelyan, a devoted friend of her husband; Lord Bryce, and several others. On the Unionist side was her own brother Alfred, whose work at the Colonial Office was particularly concerned with South Africa, the one part of the British Empire in which for various reasons she took an ardent interest; and there was her brother-in-law the Duke of Devonshire, who was for some years the Minister responsible for Education, a subject on which she always entertained the strongest views, of which she frequently made him the patient and polite but by no means always convinced recipient. I have seen long letters of his dealing with the educational policy of that Ministry. But I expect he was himself happier when replying to a letter she must have written to thank him for grouse which for some reason or another she does not seem to have expected to receive; her letter evidently went on to discuss the Education Bill (it was in 1902) and to ask for a donation to one of her charities. His reply handles all these topics with characteristic dryness and brevity. He must have enjoyed telling his serious sister-in-law, who was much interested in morals and not at all in racing, the company in which she would find herself on the grouse-list.

CHATSWORTH, CHESTERFIELD.
Nov. 8, ’02.
MY DEAR LUCY,
The grouse were sent by Martin, not me. He was told to look over the old lists with care and discrimination, and it may diminish your gratitude to know that they were also sent to a jockey who has been warned off.

I am sorry you think that this Govt. wants its back stiffening and that only Non-Con. lies can do it. You may, however, be beginning to perceive that an Education Bill giving rates to Voluntary Schools is not quite so simple as you imagined. I send the cheque for £30.
Yours afftly,
DEVONSHIRE.

No two human beings were ever less alike than the cautious, common-sensical, most unexpansive Duke and his very exuberant and enthusiastic sister-in-law. But the common memory of Lord Frederick and the closely affectionate intimacy which always existed between Lady Frederick and the Duke’s only and much-loved sister, Lady Louisa Egerton, kept the differences between his and her standards, tastes, and moral and political creeds from separating them so entirely as might have been expected. He remained to the end one of her links with the governing and Cabinet world. Another leading statesman on the Conservative side to whom she had easy personal access was Lord Balfour, from early years an intimate friend of her brothers Spencer and Alfred. Through all these and many other political friends she was pertinacious and indefatigable, till within a few years of her death, in pressing the claims of all the causes she had at heart, especially religious education, the maintenance of the Marriage Law, the protection of the persecuted Armenians, the union of races in South Africa, and above all, that peace and justice in Ireland for which in the very first hours of her agony she lifted up her eyes to pray as the possible outcome, by God’s mercy, of her husband’s martyrdom.

For most of these causes too, though not, I think, ever for Ireland, on which she felt unable to say anything in public, she often made appeals in the columns of The Times and other newspapers. The position she occupied was recognised by her appointment in 1894 as a member of a Royal Commission on Secondary Education and by the degree of LL.D. conferred on her by the University of Leeds in 1904.

But for all her public activities she was not primarily a politician. It would be much nearer the truth to say she was primarily a Churchwoman. The Church of England had no more devoted son than Lord Lyttelton, and both he and Gladstone, who married sisters, brought up their children to be what they all remained, good Christians and strong Churchmen. Churchgoing, the reading of sermons, and other religious exercises were then practised, as Lady Frederick’s Diaries show, to an extent almost incredible to our laxer generation. A visitor to Hagley is said to have reported that the Lyttelton boys divided their time between cricket and going to church; and in Lady Frederick’s later years a witty woman who loved her said of her: “Church is Lucy’s public-house, and unfortunately there’s no keeping her out of it.” Nothing but physical impossibility would prevent her going to church two or three times on Sunday and whenever there was an opportunity on weekdays. She was the despair of Sunday hostesses, who found that two attendances, perhaps, at church in the morning would not prevent her insisting on walking off in the late afternoon a couple of miles or more for an evening service. She kept and loved all the times and seasons of the Church, in public when she could, in private when there was no church available. All this was no mere habit or formality. It was the breath of her life; for her religion, unlike that of some very good people, was sincerely and almost passionately “institutional.” She was miserable, as we shall see in the Diaries, whenever she was deprived of her Church services. It was a great trial to her to have so often to spend Holy Week and Easter at Lismore with no better spiritual food than a very meagre supply of what was to her the very dry biscuit of Irish Protestantism.

Of course so devoted a daughter of the Church could not be content to receive without giving. The Diary shows her, as I have already said, from childhood onwards, and even during the most crowded years of her married life, giving herself freely to every good work for which she found opportunity. School teaching, hospital visiting, workhouse visiting, services of all sorts, direct and indirect, rendered to the poor or the sick or the sad or the sinful, occupied a large part of her life at all times. The Diary is full of them, much fuller than the extracts here given tell. But enough, I hope, has been given to show how full even her happiest days were of these things, and how far she was from being one of those who, so long as they are happy themselves, never find time to think of others who are not.

While her husband lived she felt it to be her duty as well as her happiness to be with him whenever he wanted her; and she never allowed any other call to interfere with that. After she lost him and went little into ordinary society, she had of course more time to give and gave more. But of all that and of the spiritual beauty of her widowed life I shall say very little, for the reason that, as will presently be seen, what can be said has been said for me by one who knew her longer and better than I. I will only touch briefly on a more public matter. Few women, I suppose, were more consulted than Lady Frederick by those, whether clergymen or laymen, who played the chief part in the counsels of the Church. With several of them she was connected by relationship or close friendship. Whether on her own initiative or at their bidding, she was always ready to do battle for the Church either with her tongue or with her pen. Readers of this book will see that she wrote easily and well, and could state a case on paper with vigour and effect. Those who ever heard her speak will remember that she did it delightfully, with humour and lightness of touch as well as with earnest eloquence. Naturally she was in frequent request in both capacities, especially as a speaker. And, equally of course, the parochial, diocesan, and other societies with which she was connected used her as a means of getting hold of speakers more famous than herself. She would press her distinguished friends and relations to address meetings on behalf of her favourite charities. Among others the Duke was often called upon and, though his Churchmanship was not among his most conspicuous characteristics, he often responded. I have before me a letter, dated July 1906, in which he alludes to previous appearances, and declines on characteristic grounds to make another :

“I think you must let me off the Bishop of London’s Fund Meeting. I have certainly once taken the chair at a meeting at Grosvenor House for the present Bishop, and, I am almost sure, at a former one for the late Bishop.

“My speeches on these occasions have been among my dullest, which is saying a great deal, and you had much better get some enthusiastic young man.”

In all these ways, by what she did herself and what she got others to do, she never ceased to work for her beloved Church till her final illness came upon her.

I said that it would be truer to call her primarily a Churchwoman than primarily a politician. But to say that she was either in any narrow or exclusive sense would be to misrepresent her. She was no Mrs. Jellyby, either political or ecclesiastical. The first thing in her was the woman; and there never was a woman who more visibly overflowed with the natural womanly affections, as wife and daughter and sister and friend. Not as mother; that was the one sorrow which occasionally darkened the long honeymoon of her marriage: she had no children. But the love which she could not give to her children never ceased to be the strongest thing in her, never ceased to be human and personal, never for a moment dried up into that interest in a public cause or a party or a Church which makes such a very poor substitute for the love of men and women and children. She was the most devoted of aunts to her own and her husband’s nephews and nieces. It was not in her, with them any more than with their elders, to be very perceptive of differences of character or temperament. But with them as with their elders she was always intensely alive, amusing, full of jokes and stories; so that she was the most popular of visitors in a schoolroom or nursery. The Diary shows her continually teaching the Cavendish and Egerton children who all loved her then and to the end of her life and were loved by her. Even after she had left London and become a complete invalid, it gave her great pleasure to see them, and with them sometimes their children and even their grandchildren. She gave to them and to the children of her own brothers and sisters and of her Gladstone cousins the affection she could not give to her own; and in each case took a most eager interest in the doings of the whole clan.

Family affection was, in fact, as appears on every page of the Diary, the root and essence of her being. From her earliest years she loved her own with a love to the intensity of which in her childhood it may be possible to find many parallels, but few for its continuance, as in her, throughout the whole of a long life. In her not altogether impartial eyes her brothers and sisters remained always, not only the most lovable people she had ever known, but also the most interesting and delightful, and even not immensely far away from the wisest and best! Naturally therefore she rejoiced with more than ordinary sisterly rejoicing in their youthful triumphs in the cricket-field, and later on in the honours and successes which several of them achieved in various spheres of public life. And as she got much more pleasure than ordinary people get out of happy family events, so she suffered much more from losses and sorrows. Every detailed happening of every hour in the last illnesses of her mother and her sister May is recorded in the Diary in the language of an agony of anxiety and love. Nor did she ever forget. Every year on the day of her mother’s death she re-read a “record” of her which had been written that all her children might remember, or, if they were too young to remember, might learn, what a mother they had had. Nor was it only her mother whose memory she kept so wonderfully fresh. Nor only the memory of sorrows. So far as she could she carried all the past on into the present. Anniversaries of all kinds played an extraordinarily large part in her life. The returning days of family births, marriages, deaths, and other important events seldom fail of note and comment in the Diary. Her husband is reported to have once replied — on her informing him at breakfast that it was the anniversary of some wedding or funeral or perhaps even some Confirmation, “I do believe nobody ever did have the dayums like you, Lucy!” And well he might, as readers of the Diaries, even as here abbreviated, will readily allow. She did not go out of her way to make herself remember these things. It was all spontaneous in her; the natural outcome of her strong affections, retentive memory, and love of all such observances and commemorations, private and public, as bind the years of our lives together.

Only those who knew her personally can understand the difficulty of my task in writing these Introductory pages. She had been seventeen years a widow when I first saw her. I had not then any reason to believe that I should ever have more than an acquaintance with her. But no one could meet the heroine of such a tragedy as hers without interest and more than interest; no one could meet the woman she was without being attracted by her rare combination of mobility, vivacity, and humour with high enthusiasms and strong convictions. In repose her face sometimes had an expression as of one who had been through an awful and unforgettable experience. And that was, I think, a true revelation of what was underneath. I do not believe she was ever long unconscious of the aching void in her heart which could never be filled. She wrote late in 1884 to her sister Meriel, who all her life, except of course during her marriage, was nearer to her than any other human being: “You can’t think how heavy life is to bear, not from unbearableness, but from the utter vanishing of all my old mainspring of joy and delight.” And when she was asked to allow her name to be put forward for the Headship of Girton College she declined in a letter which shows, what strangers would hardly have guessed, how utterly broken she felt. It was her cousin Mrs. Drew who had sounded her on the subject, and it was to her that she replied that she could not feel bound to take up work of that kind “unless God emptied my life of its natural calls and duties which rather increase upon me than diminish (the little Clives, [FN: Children of her great friend Lady Kitty Clive. She was one of their guardians. One of them was afterwards Captain Percy Clive, M.P., killed in the Great War.] for instance : poor people in St. Martins, etc. [FN: Her house, 21 Carlton House Terrace, was in the parish of St. Martin’s in the Fields.]). I cannot see why because my sorrow came upon me in that tremendous way I should conclude that I am called to be dragged up into prominent mountain-tops. Dear Freddy would wish me rather to be useful in quiet natural ways. And nothing (to speak selfishly) that I can work at, or live for, can be otherwise than deeply sad and drifting-like to me or to anyone the whole half of whose life is gone from her.”

Both these letters, it is true, were written within three years of her husband’s death; but though she naturally spoke less of her sorrow as time went on, I do not think the secret load was ever lifted, though often borne so lightly that strangers would perceive very little of it. Certainly I myself, as a stranger, was much more struck by her eager talk and varied interests than by any suggestion of the hidden sorrow. I remember that the thing she was full of at the moment was the question of the erection of Lord Rosebery’s Cromwell statue which now stands by Westminster Hall. Everything in her, her loyalty to the Crown, her devotion to the Church, her dislike of militarism, her Liberal faith in Parliamentary Government, her Irish sympathies, combined to make the name of Cromwell odious to her ; and the proposal to set up his statue at Westminster of all places, was, to her, as offensive as it certainly was inappropriate. She was getting up a petition against the project, and wanted me to sign it, which, however, I evaded, on grounds with which the reader, who is concerned with her opinions and not with mine, need not be troubled. But I shall never forget how ingeniously, persuasively, and humorously she urged her case as we sat in the garden of the house in which we were staying; and how she at once won of me an admiring allegiance which was to have more opportunities of renewal than I was then aware of.

The last act of that allegiance, or rather of the affection into which it was soon afterwards transformed, is the editing of these Diaries and the writing of this and the other Introductions. It was a privilege to know such a woman. But unhappily such a privilege, even if it had been enjoyed longer and more intimately than I enjoyed it, could not confer the power of so describing her as to make her known to others. That I have scarcely attempted, and happily I have had the less need, as I have been able to secure the help of one in whose earliest memories and affections Lady Frederick played a large and much-loved part. Lady Stephenson is one of the daughters of Mrs. John Talbot, and from her birth till Lady Frederick’s death I suppose she was very rarely many weeks without seeing her aunt. I am very grateful to her for doing for me what I could not do, and giving the readers of this book, both those who knew and those who did not know Lady Frederick, a true and, I think, vivid picture of that beautiful character, those ardent and passionate affections, that restless energy of love and service, that quick, eager, humorous mind. Lady Stephenson’s knowledge of Lady Frederick hardly began till after these diaries end; and she speaks of her chiefly as she was in the forty and more years of her widowhood. But I do not think that those who have read the Diaries will have any difficulty in recognising in the picture she draws the same woman, aged and saddened no doubt, but still very unmistakably the same, whom they had got to know by her own account of her earlier years. She makes plain for us what we can read between the lines of the Diary, though the Diarist neither wrote it nor meant us to read it. She makes us see in Lady Frederick what Lady Frederick could not see in herself, what she would have thought it almost wrong to see. But all who knew her saw it, and would wish that readers of the Diary should be helped to see it too. They scarcely need the help, no doubt ; but still, I cannot think that any of them will find it, given as Lady Stephenson gives it, either superfluous or unwelcome. Indeed I am sure that they will read it with the same gratitude with which I received it.

LADY FREDERICK CAVENDISH : a note by her niece
Lady Stephenson

After 1882, Lady Frederick would have said of the rest of her life that the mainspring was broken. For two years she never slept without desolate tears ; no day in the long years of her widowhood passed without a definite thought of her husband; the expression of her face in repose reflected the tragedy that underlay all her being. Yet glowing energy, spirit, life, are the qualities which stand out in one’s memory of her; sloth, fear, hesitation, were all foreign to her nature. One pictures her hurrying across from Carlton House Terrace to the ten-o’clock service at Westminster Abbey, always a little late; or sitting writing far into the night, shaking her fountain-pen with a characteristic movement of impatience; or setting forth, after a day of ceaseless activity, by omnibus or train to some far church for a special service, sometimes even to hear one hymn that she loved.

The whole of life glowed with purpose for her ; there was nothing that did not matter. Her one preoccupation was to be allowed to help to the utmost in the forwarding of that purpose. Of the two great obstacles to a life of service — worldliness and self-consciousness — Lady Frederick knew nothing. She did not resist the standards of the world, because they simply did not exist for her. She valued every person and every thing in so far as they advanced or hindered the cause of righteousness. And if she was wholly unworldly, it is also impossible to exaggerate her unself-consciousness. She never considered anything in relation to her own comfort or her own popularity; she never thought of the effect she was making; or of the price in nerve-strain that her innumerable activities and her entire disregard of all laws of health would entail.

I recall a visit with her to a great doctor when the alarming symptoms of the illness that was to make a martyrdom of the last years of her life first showed themselves. As we sat in the waiting-room she was only concerned lest she should be summoned too soon. “They never give one time for these lovely picture-papers,” she said. And when the doctor had examined her, she asked no questions as to the course of the illness or the future she might expect, but wished to engage him in conversation on quite other subjects. No personal anxiety ever disturbed her night’s rest; but the fear that England might be committed to some injustice or that the Church might be missing some great opportunity would give her a sleepless night. And in the last months of her life, when speech was difficult, she never spoke to us of herself or of her own sufferings, but with all the old eager longing asked for news of the Armenians or of Ireland or of some one of the many she loved.

She had the defects of this great quality of unselfconsciousness. She was so filled with zeal and interest herself that she could not realise that there were many whom the causes dear to her bewildered or bored; and that even for those in sympathy with them, there were times when their discussion was not appropriate. She was too much possessed by the subject uppermost in her mind at the moment or by her own vivid memories of the past to be a good listener. And when she did give her full attention, she was inclined to sympathise too emphatically, even too tragically. She could not understand pettinesses, meannesses; they were so wholly outside her nature. “So many of my mistakes,” she said pathetically, “come from keeping the Golden Rule.” She could not understand why people were annoyed by things she did or failed to do which, coming from others, would not have annoyed her at all. She was constitutionally incapable of grievances and hurt feelings: “things,” as she once said, “so small I can’t keep my eye on them.” So she sometimes blundered in her dealings with others ; though her splendid generosity of apology and her loving-kindness usually righted the trouble in the end. She too often had preconceived theories of the characters of those about her, especially of the young, and she had a passion for discovering hereditary traits from babyhood onwards, so that her judgments of character were sometimes wide of the mark. The same qualities and defects characterised the public activities with which she overcrowded her days. She found it very difficult to say “no” to any appeal for help in a cause which interested her. And her interests were many-sided: the “Old Vic.” in the early struggles of its pioneer days, the Yorkshire Ladies’ Council for Education, the Girls’ Public Day School Trust, Parochial Mission Women, the Armenians, the cause of temperance—for all these she worked and cared whole-heartedly. She enjoyed public speaking and felt no nervousness at all, whatever her audience; she had a touch of genius in expression, and, on the subjects which she really mastered, remarkable clearness of thought. But she was liable to be led astray by her love of analogies, and to go off at a tangent ; and she trusted too much to her intuitions and to the inspiration of the moment when a considered judgment was needed in committee work.

It was her personal inspiration and her undaunted faith in the ultimate issue that made her so delightful to work with.

Miss Powell, lately Principal of St. Mary’s College, Paddington, writes of her work for the College: “In spite of my assurances that she needn’t feel responsible, she felt herself in honour bound to help to pull the College out of the ditch, and made Herculean efforts, writing round to everyone who had an available shilling long personal letters, using to the full her gift of persuasiveness. It must have cost her hours of labour…. Of the £11,000 we collected I am sure Lady Frederick was responsible directly for more than half. But that is the least part of what she did. Her sympathy and faith and courage infected us all. She never missed a Council meeting, and her delightful humour carried us lightly over the rocky paths.”

I think she herself was happiest when any opportunity for direct evangelisation came her way: in Confirmation classes for the girls in the Kent Penitentiary, a share in a mission in Leeds, or even a Sunday lesson to the children of three successive generations, for which she had an inimitable gift.

One is anxious not to paint her picture in too heavy colours; but words inevitably fail to give that other side of her that made her “such fun.” She had a child’s gay enjoyment of the simplest pleasures: the most amateur effort at entertainment, the mild humours of a seaside lodging, puppies at play. She had a real love of animals, and the company of children never failed to refresh and delight her. I can see her literally running into the room in an ecstasy over one of the family engagements; and she was liable to be overcome by helpless amusement, however solemn the occasion. Her humour had a flavour all its own, partly because of the tragic gravity of her face and voice. “Oh, Green,” to the imperturbable butler, when one of her awkward movements had upset the whole coffeepot, “oughtn’t I to be in a lunatic asylum?” “Yes, m’Lady.” Or “Green,” piteously, “I could ride to York on this knife.” I recall the astonishment of the clerk in the shipping office when appealed to for an assurance that her return ticket to South Africa would “do for my coffin”; or of the captain of a liner after a rough night at sea when she accosted him with: “Break my heart, Captain, or tell me we have had a gale.” Her epithets had a delightful unexpectedness, as when she writes of one of her brothers: “It will be a comfort if we can picture him eating something more sedative and uplifting than a slab of cold mutton at supper-time.” A scullery-maid of unusual perfection is always alluded to as “the Aloe,” and a landlord whose business methods were elusive is “the Pimpernel.” But it is useless to try to recapture for those who did not know her the humour that was such an unfailing source of delight to all who came into contact with her.

To anyone who reads Lady Frederick’s Diaries it will be abundantly plain that her religion was the preoccupation of her whole mind, the motive of her every activity, the standard by which every event was judged. Her passionate loyalty to the Church of England was part of the tradition of that home which, through all her life, never lost its hold on her love and obedience. Unquestioning obedience to, glad co-operation with, the Will of God, made her life impressively whole. Motive and action became one. There could never be any doubt as to how she would act. When the awful blow of her husband’s murder fell, it was inevitable that she should make a great gesture of forgiveness, and be satisfied with nothing short of complete resignation; but that was not enough. There must be obedience to the law of love in each detail. On his tomb was engraved “died,” so that there might be no memorial of the cruel crime in stone; and every day of the long years of her widowhood she prayed specially for Ireland.

Nothing was outside the sphere of dutiful obedience. Money was wanted for some good cause ; then her hard-worked carriage and horses must be given up and she must go by omnibus and train to her ever-increasing activities; and no unnecessary luxuries, however trivial, could be tolerated. Evil, in every form, hurt her, gave her personal pain. To her, wrongdoing could never be a subject of interest, of gossip, still less of amusement; she hated to hear of it, and suffered with and for the wrong-doer, though hers was essentially the love that “hopeth all things.”

All the traditional framework of her faith appealed to her glowing loyalty. She loved the services of the Church: “they take and do for me,” she said; it uplifted her to feel one of a great multitude; the romance of the long history and the world-wide challenge of the Church inspired her imagination; and corporate prayer and praise consecrated her untiring life of service. With unusual wide-mindedness and sincerity she welcomed any fresh developments in worship, or, more remarkable still, in criticism, as long as she could believe them compatible with the “faith once delivered to the Saints.”

It would be true, then, to say that in the outer things of her faith she found most of the joy of her life; but in that inmost recess of her soul, where one would have thought to find peace and joy, there was, for the most part, only a burdened sense of sin, a longing, deep but unfulfilled, for an immediate sense of God. It is tempting to compare her experience with that “dark night of the soul ” familiar to the Mystics; but the hunger of her soul was never appeased by the Mystics’ moments of ecstasy whose memory persists through the “dark night”; and she was always inexpressibly saddened and humiliated by reading or hearing of mystical experiences, because she had no share in them. Her spiritual life was overshadowed, almost submerged, by her sense of sin. This might have been partly due to the austere teaching of her youth, to which her sincerity and her amazing humility made perhaps too complete a submission. But I think too that she was temperamentally incapable of that in-describable spiritual experience which transcends time and space. Up to the day of her death she was always seeking for this vision, wistfully appealing to any who might have the key to it, agonising over the sinfulness which, she thought, darkened her eyes to it.

In 1913 Lady Frederick was summoned to the deathbed of her brother Alfred. From that shock dated the beginning of her long illness. From that date, slowly but relentlessly, her magnificent health gave way, her powers of body failed, and she had to suffer the peculiar distress of great exhaustion combined with inability to rest. “If I had known what was coming, I do not think I could have borne it,” she once said. But it was only once; for her own sufferings were apparently the least interesting thing in the world to her. As I have said above, she still passionately desired to hear of the causes for which she had always cared or of the many whom she loved. Through the long months of increasing distress, she, who had always had the impatience of those who think more quickly, and act more energetically, and care more vitally, than others, was divinely patient. She grew graver, but sometimes the old humour flickered out again; and there was a wonderful dignity about her demeanour. “Isn’t Aunt Lucy beautiful?” said a little great-nephew in those last days. There was indeed an atmosphere of great spiritual beauty about her, so that her room seemed filled with light ; and never in the days of her tireless energy had she given more illuminating witness of the faith which upheld her. She died only two hours after the elder sister who had been the close companion of over eighty years. May this not have been the first of the rewards with which Love has surprised her in that other world?