Intro Books I and II

SEPTEMBER 1841 – JULY 1856


LUCY CAROLINE LYTTELTON, afterwards Lady Frederick Cavendish, was born in London on September 5th, 1841. The Diary does not begin till she was on the point of being thirteen. Its first volume was lost. The earliest book that was bequeathed to me is headed “Vol. II” and its first entry is made on August 7th, 1854. But Lady Frederick’s niece, the Hon. Mrs. Hugh Wyndham, possesses, and has kindly allowed me to use, a little account of her earliest years written when she was still very young. There is no date on it, but it was certainly written before August 1857, when her mother died, for it always speaks of her in the present tense. It was intended to “finish for the present with my Confirmation,” which took place on June 4th of the same year. But it does not get so far, and may possibly have been written before with the intention of continuing up to that point. In any case it is certain that it cannot have been written much later, not only because of the allusions to Lady Lyttelton as still living, but because in it Lady Frederick always speaks of her fourth brother as George. His full name was George William Spencer, and he was called George as a child. But in July 1856 his great-uncle and godfather Lord Spencer gave him an estate in New Zealand and asked that he should be called Spencer; and for the rest of his life George and William disappeared, and he was always known as Spencer Lyttelton. The account of this is one of the last entries in Vol. II of the Diary. It is therefore possible that the unfinished sketch of Lady Frederick’s earlier life was written a little before this volume was ended as a substitute for the lost Vol. I. But its less childish and more mature style suggests some time in the first part of 1857 as a more likely date. In any case she was not sixteen when she wrote it.

Some people are dull on paper and dull in conversation. Others, while witty or brilliant on paper, never say anything worth hearing. Others again are delightful to listen to and dull to read. Lady Frederick, without any claim to be a wit, was almost as quick with her pen as she was, all her life, with her tongue. But the humorous topsy-turvydoms and incongruities which flowed so freely, even in her later years, from her tongue, and would send a roomful of intimates into a burst of laughter, were not the sort of thing that anybody writes down. And, as everybody knows, such things, when coldly recorded on paper and read apart from the occasion out of which they grew, are as unlike the original and genuine article as strawberries out of a bottle are to strawberries fresh from the bed. If I did not think her diary often amusing as well as interesting, I doubt if I should have tried to put such a book as this together. But most people, from Pepys downwards, no doubt, are graver in the solitude of their diaries than they are in the society of their friends. And Lady Frederick, especially in her earlier years, put more gravity into her records than I have cared to take out of them. That note is at once struck in this curious account of her childhood. Its very first words show how serious her character was, almost from her nursery days; as later pages show with what force, ease, and abundance she could write before she was out of the schoolroom. I quote the greater part of it. Its very first pages show where she got her seriousness. Her account is one more proof of the unhealthily “sinful” atmosphere which Victorian parents, even very kind and affectionate parents like Lord and Lady Lyttelton, allowed to grow up in their nurseries.

I suppose that if I live even to middle age some sorrows will have thrown their shadow over the sunlight of my life. Therefore I would remember as distinctly as may be what my early years have been, that in future times, when perchance their brightness has passed forever from me, I may think of them, with much sadness no doubt, but I trust with greater fondness, and thank God for the exceeding happiness wherewith my life opened. For this purpose I mean to write an account of my life, to finish for the present with my Confirmation.

I was born in London on the 5th Sept. 1841, being the second child of my parents; my sister was fourteen months older than myself. I was baptized at a month old by the name of Lucy Caroline : the first name after a family ancestress of great goodness ; the second after my godmothers, both of whom had the same name. I believe I was a pretty baby, but must have given more trouble than I was worth by convulsions, etc., which gave some anxiety and left me a very whining, fretful child, even when I was put into short frocks and able to toddle. I had hardly reached this stage of existence when my eldest brother was born in October 1842, and we were three babies together in the dear dear big nursery on the third floor of the house. This room faced the S. and W. It may have been different quite at first to what it is now, but my earliest remembrances of it show it to me almost exactly as I see it at present. Two windows ; the work-table, much battered, dirty red, with a curious round hole in it that I was always poking my finger through, standing in one ; a high white cupboard where the toys were kept, in the other, with flower-pots standing on the top. A massive, towering, white wardrobe, with deep drawer forming its lower part, stood in one corner, filled with frocks, linen, etc. ; and where the ornamental pin-cushion little basket, Xning cap, powder-box, etc., were always kept before an expected Baby required them. A dark wood cupboard, also of great height and based by drawers, [stood] against one wall, wherein the breakfast, dinner, and tea things were kept, with cold plum-pudding wont to be preserved from the servants’ supper. The fireplace on your left as you go in, with a heavy carved old-fashioned mantel-shelf ; half-way up the wall two large rows of bookshelves hung up, whereon grotesque china ornaments, superior toys only played with on grand occasions, and a very few books stood, the latter consisted of a portentous family medicine-book and suchlike drab-coloured volumes. A large map, always my great delight, representing all the birds, beasts, and fish imaginable, and many old prints of foreign men and women, the principal picture being one of the Queen and Duchess of Kent, standing as if they were about to set off on a polka, completed the decorations of the walls. In early times a swing hung from the ceiling ; the hooks used for that purpose remain there now. By the fireplace stood the little low rocking-chair wherein I fancy we have all been sent to sleep. The middle table was round, the carpet and paper bright.

That is the dear old nursery. I have spoken of it in the past tense because I am writing of byegone times, but it is essentially the same now.

I have not one of those wonderfully good memories in books which can recall their second birthdays and their feelings on that occasion. Of my first years I have no distinct ideas. I remember a very cross nurserymaid, Betsy ; a very good-natured one, Teresa ; a period of invalidums doses and going to bed ; one awful administration of a tumbler of castor oil, which was forced down my throat with the greatest difficulty ; and perpetual sparring with my sister Meriel, whom I called Missy, in common with herself and everyone else ; a triumphant victory over my propensity of thumb-sucking ; then later, some feeble French lessons with Mme Rollande, then a daily governess, during which I was very conscious of my great stupidity, and strangely enough wondered at her patience as we ploughed through a scrap of poetry, of which I only remember the first line ; ” Si quelqu’un m’appelait un petit ange ” ; I very clearly remember the vagueness of my ideas as to the meaning of this ; a nurserymaid, Old Sarah, sharp with us, feared, but I fancy liked, and a sin I committed in stealing an apple out of her drawer—well I remember that ; how I hid behind the bed, but inconsiderately munched at the apple when she was in the room, and was immediately detected ! dear me ! beginnings of naughtiness : pil¬ferings of the above-mentioned cold plum-pudding ; cutting off a front lock of my hair and saying Charles did it ; I am not sure, but I have a dim fancy that he said he did at last ; the punishment Mamma used to inflict upon us when we had been very naughty, taking us into Papa’s room and putting our small tender hands under a thing for pressing letters together ; a bronze hand it was, which pinched us slightly, leaving the dents of the fingers on the back of one’s hand. This was done very solemnly, Mamma shaking her head slowly at us all the time. I used to think that I should never lose the marks ; oh, the disgrace ! .. .

I have not the dimmest recollection of learning to read, which I was hopelessly stupid over, but I do remember my contempt of it before I began it, and one single lesson out of ” Rosamond,” when I read the unfortunate chapter over and over during I believe the whole morning, because of a mistake I either could not or would not avoid. At last I did it right without knowing it. It began with the words, ” Are you busy, Mamma ? ” I was always doing things like this. I was not happy in Miss Nicholson’s time. I was horribly naughty ; sly, obstinate, passionate, and very stupid. Then she managed me ill ; over-severe and apt to whip me for obstinacy when I was only dense, letting me see her partiality for the other two, and punishing too often. So I was always labouring under a sense of injustice, and felt myself injured innocence instead of trying properly to get the better of my faults.

A very naughty little French girl called Leonie, of ten years old, came at this time to teach us French, which she did very satisfactorily, but it was certainly the only good thing she did teach us. She was impudent, dreadfully false, nasty in her ways and tricks, without the faintest idea of principle or religion. I perfectly remember her arrival ; the quick little shuffling French steps on the stairs, our shyness, and how when she came in Charles would only say a gruff ” How d’ye do ? ” instead of the ” Bon jour ” that had been instilled into him. He and I took refuge in the window, while Leonie, without a scrap of shyness in her, rattled out some long unintelligible story to Meriel.

She would steal Newmany’s pomatum and smear it over her head, then cut up her ribbons and dizen herself out with them. The first English she learnt was ” Cross Nurse ” ; she made me teach it her, and went and said it repeatedly to Newmany. She used to stick her multiplication table on her nose, make me laugh, and when I was scolded and said that it was her fault, would put on a shocked look and exclaim innocently, ” Lucie ! Comment pouvez-vous dire un tel mensonge ? ” Then I was put between the doors. However, at length her naughtiness caused her to be put always to learn her lessons with her back to us all ; but this was certainly not favourable to her studies, for she gazed out of window the whole time. It was impossible to get anything serious into her head, though she had daily lessons from the Bible with Papa. Her levity and giddiness were dreadful. She was once sent to bed in the daytime for some misdeed, and went with the greatest effrontery to wish Mamma good night : ” Bon soir, Madame ; je vais me coucher.” She could learn fast enough when she chose, but choosing was a rare thing. After everything possible had been done to reform her she was sent away in despair, but Granny still looked after her, got her into a nice school, and gave her every advantage ; but no good was ever effected, and she had at last to return to her father. We have now lost sight of her.

To return to myself, things went on very much the same with me as well as I can remember. I was very unhappy, very ill-managed, and very naughty. At Brighton I used to be taken out walking on the parade with my hands tied behind me, terrified out of my wits by Miss Nicholson’s declaring it was ten to one we should meet a policeman. At home my usual punishment was being put for a time into a large, deep, old-fashioned bath that was in one corner of the schoolroom, before which hung curtains, so that I was partially in the dark. I was continually put between the doors and often whipped. Still, I had a sort of affection for Miss N., for when I heard she was going I spoke with dismay of a ” nasty new governess.” I suppose I was afraid of falling out of the frying-pan into the fire. I remember blurting out before Miss Nicholson at dinner, appealing to Mamma : ” Miss Nicholson’s going to be married, isn’t she ? ” I was instantly squashed, and can only hope she didn’t hear, for such was the cause of her departure. It blew up, however, and she went to Australia to be governess in the family of the Bishop of Tasmania. Leonie was succeeded by Amelie Jacquard, a very nice Swiss girl, who remained some time with us. . .

Miss Nicholson was succeeded by a pretty, gentle, little lady with the unfortunate name of Miss Crump, who came to Hagley in October 1848. By that time there were six of us, Georgie being the youngest. I well remember her arrival. We were sitting on our high chairs sewing, and in an agony of shyness, when she walked into the room, with a pleasant smile. I remember how very short I thought her arm was at tea, after tall Miss Nicholson’s, which could reach everything on the table.

Palmy days now dawned upon me in the way of indulgence at lessons, etc. The next morning Miss Crump completely won my heart by her leniency over the first lesson I repeated to her. But Miss N.’s rod of iron was better than Miss Crump’s broken reed of government. We had quite our own way with her, for she soon grew passionately fond of us and let us get the upper hand. The only punishment she ever dreamt of inflicting was setting us lines of poetry to learn by heart, and these we never thought of doing unless she kept us up to it, really never thinking of the deceit of such conduct. We ” shirked ” duties, and became untruthful, disobedient, and self-conceited. Nevertheless we were very fond of her, and I believe sinned more from thoughtlessness than from deliberate intention, for I know I was by no means devoid of serious thoughts of religion and being very good, and I find in an old letter of Meriel’s that we had talks with Miss Crump about our faults. But we were not much the better practically for all that, and I must say, as I think of my conduct then, I feel inclined to hate myself. For many things there was no excuse, for Mamma had taught us our Bible when we were very little, and Papa as we grew older ; and we had them always to help us by their example as well as training. I remember complacently setting myself down as unselfish because I let Mamma take some little trifle of mine to give as a present, without being cross, and I was certainly happy in the conviction. I did not think of my greediness and deceit, my nasty temper with the others, and all the other faults which spring from selfishness.

I had a severe conscience prick once, however, in spite of my general self-satisfaction. For a long time I had been in the habit of going from my lessons on some pretext, for the mere purpose of dawdling about on the stairs. This I one day confessed with deep repentance, and I rather think I became more scrupulous. . . .

In 1851 Miss Crump left us. She was quite inconsolable, and cried abundantly. We were very sorry, for we were fond of the gentle, affectionate little woman, though we used to wrangle and argue with her ; but it was high time that we should have a sterner hand over us. And this we certainly got in Miss Pearson. She was a woman of stern and upright mind, with a high and stern standard of duty, and little pity for those who did not reach it. Truth and openness were the first of human virtues with her. She had no mercy upon the equivocating habits that had grown upon us, and punished them relentlessly. She quickly won our affection, though it was ever greatly mixed with fear, and her influence over me was such that, though I knew her hatred of what was sly, I confessed many things to her, choosing rather to face her bitter indignation —for she would not allow that confession palliated the fault—than to have anything on my mind in the presence of her clear and unshrinking openness. Her character was indeed a noble one, though too stern ; and it was well for me to have my faults exposed to me with an unsparing hand, though it cost me many times of almost despairing tears, and a good deal of bitter repentance.

If we had not had Mamma, perhaps Miss Pearson’s management would not have answered as it did ; but there was no fear of our getting cowed and spirit-broken while we had that gentle and loving care always over us, though she interfered little directly between us and our governess. It was not long before Miss Pearson clung to Mamma with the whole affection of her earnest mind, and there is no one who so appreciates the exceeding beauty and perfection of Mamma’s character as she does. Thus we were indeed blest, and gradually we learnt to aim at a higher standard, and to strive more earnestly against our faults. As I grew older, I trust I overcame the habit of untruthfulness, which, in fact, never came natural to me.

As to lessons, we did them in a peculiar way. Miss Pearson had wretched health and was often laid up ; moreover she was no advocate for great regularity, so we became very independent ; often heard each other our lessons, and wrote exercises and worked sums a good deal alone, and pretty much when we liked. But there was no more ” shirking ” now. Holidays were very rare, and it was seldom we were let off a lesson. I have often worked till bedtime, and always after tea, finishing what had been left undone. We learnt a good deal, for all we did was useful. I have mentioned my love of poetry ; it was very great. When I was quite little Mamma taught me several of the Hymns for little Children, and it used to be a great delight to me. The last of all, ” So be it, Lord ; the prayers are prayed,” I used to think nothing could come up to ; and to this day the beautiful little hymn has a particular charm to me. With Miss Pearson I learnt a good deal of poetry ; the ” Christian Year,” bits of Shakespeare and Milton, and long things out of a book of collections. . . .

We got daily fonder of Miss Pearson, and I believe improved in all essentials under her sway. We were both inclined to argue and answer again, but she squashed us at once, and it was gradually left off. At twelve years old I was a heedless tomboy of a child, the worry of the servants, and the ruthless destroyer of frocks. Nevertheless I had a curious mixture of religious feeling and poetical fancies. I wrote verses, and was fond of quotations in my letters, had plenty of warm-heartedness, and was quickly roused or touched. I’m afraid I was a sad handful to Miss Pearson, what with my carelessness and forgetfulness, and the underhand ways that cost me many tears, and her so many headaches, but which at length were, I trust, quite got rid of.

We were at Hawarden in the autumn of 1854 when I was thirteen, and here my conscience, which had been growing daily more tender under Miss Pearson’s care, would not let me alone till I had confessed one or two little slynesses that I had long time ago been guilty of. One I remember. I had been sent on a message to Elly, and on my way bounced into the dining-room, where the remains of the luncheon were standing, and crammed my mouth with cherries. On my return, Miss Pearson’s sharp eye found out some red juice on my lips, and she questioned me. ” I’ve had some cherries,” said I, relieved at speaking out the truth. But Miss Pearson supposed Elly had given them me ; and as she scolded me for that, I had not courage to say I had purloined them. At the end of this confession I paused in mortal terror, but to my infinite relief was spoken to leniently, and was thus encouraged to tell of something else, which, strange to say, I have forgotten, but for which I caught it so dreadfully that I was utterly miserable for some days.

Altogether this time at Hawarden has left a grim’ impression on my mind. I was working a stool for Miss Pearson very lazily indeed, so much so that she at last declared she would not accept it ! Great was my anguish ; I began to slave at it so hard that she was mollified at last, and it now stands in her drawing-room at Clent. Moreover I was not well for some time ; but for one circumstance that happened at this time I shall be earnestly thankful to the end of my life—perhaps for all eternity.

I have said that I had always been thoughtful about sacred things ; very far back I remember doing right from a sort of principle, not merely to save punishment, and this made me wretched over my perpetual falls. I used to pray for help with much faith, and make many resolutions ; but hitherto I had done so almost mechanically, following what I had been taught from babyhood, with no strong personal realisation of what was meant by God, Heaven, Death, Eternity. I had not brought these things before me as realities so vivid that they may almost be called tangible. I was indeed but a child. But in church one Sunday at Hawarden, whether some words suggested it to me, whether the distress of mind I had been going through had made me peculiarly susceptible of strong impression, or whether an angel spoke to me suddenly, I cannot tell ; but there flashed upon me, like blinding light, a great thought of Eternity as bearing upon myself—as an unchangeable certainty—as something that was irresistibly advancing—in short, in some awful and present manner, to such an extent that I was aghast and overwhelmed with the tremendousness of my thought. For a moment I thought I should have fainted. I was a young and foolish child ; a very small thing among God’s Infinite Mysteries ; can I wonder that —awaking to the realisation of things into which the Angels cannot look—my immortal soul struggled in a sort of agony within its narrow prison ?

I shall never now lose that impression, and for this I thank God.

It is unwillingly that I leave the record of my earlier years : I mean my life before entering my teens ; so certain I feel that I must have left out many of the little incidents that gave it its own calm and happy colouring ; for indeed my childhood was a bright, unruffled river, and I would not lose any of its memories. Our Christmases ! How they shone out at the end of each year with an indescribable joy of their own ; made up of the ” bright leaves and red berries ” with which the old house was lit up, the joyous home-gathering, the circle of our dear home-faces without one missing from arriving. Then the wonderful excitement of the whole number of us going in the early morning to sing ” Hark the herald,” at all the doors, beginning with Papa and Mamma, scrambling on to their bed for the kisses and ” Merry Christmases.” Oh, what a delight it was !—ending with the nurseries, where we all as¬sembled to drink coffee and eat tea-cake, surrounded by the admiring maids, with the holly all round the room shining in the firelight. And all going to the church down to the youngest but one, to hear the dear old hymns and Uncle Billy’s beautiful Christmas sermons. The ecstasy of dining late, the mince-pies, the snapdragon, the holiday, the listening to evening carols ; and perhaps the dawning of true joy because Christ was born in Bethlehem, and it was to His tender love that we owed all our happiness. Strong and loving, and shining with ever-increasing brightness, is my memory of the Christmases of my childhood. The return of the holidays, seeing the dear boys’ faces again, and rejoicing over the prizes, their begging a holiday for us, and the wild scampers over the place with them. The gathering of aunts and cousins from time to time, when the old house echoed with children, and it was our especial aunt’s (Papa’s maiden sister, Aunt Coque) delight to range our goodly and unbroken numbers in files according to age. The astonishing excitement of packing and journey days, when even sober Meriel could hardly sleep from delight, and when my imagination woke into song !

Packing-day ! Sweet packing-day !
The subject of my lay.
Come, come ! Thy pleasures bring,
Thou sweet dear darling thing.

Packing is my delight.
I’ll pack from morn till night ;
Next day is journey-day !
Hurrah ! Hurrah ! Hurrah !

Even when nothing was going on the dear home-life was as happy as anything in its way ; the schoolroom, where day after day we went through the well-known routine, the time there enlivened by Papa’s visits to Mamma and hers to him ; our room being the passage between them. We were never interrupted by this, for one got so thoroughly accustomed to it, and it was seldom that either took any notice of us, beyond a smile from Mamma and ” You little pigs,” or ” Absurd monkies,” from Papa. But it always gave me a happy feeling when I heard Mamma’s little cough outside the door, or saw her tall and graceful figure passing through the room, and it was nice to feel that they were so close to us. The glorious summers ! After lessons there was the walking out into the beautiful country ; the hills, park with its stately trees, the bright village and green lanes ; or a ride, or a drive with Mamma in the pony-carriage ; both great delights ; sitting under the trees with the song of birds and hum of bees all round one, or on the lawn, mossy and velvety with age, from whence we looked over the grassy hills rising gently one over the other, crowned with the beautiful trees, and where we loved to bring our reading or have tea on summer holidays. Then in the evenings, coming to dessert in the high cool dining-room, and sitting on the perron out of doors till the first stars came out, while everything slept in still beauty, and Malvern and Aberleigh rose deeply blue against the sky.

The winters, when the house felt so snug with its wide grates and roaring fires, and snow and frost were the greatest pleasures of life ; when we slid with the boys, enjoying it full as much as they, or played at ” Earth, Air, Fire, and Water,” round the fire in the library. And as I grew older and understood more and more what our happiness was, thought of our unclouded home, of the exceeding blessing to us of such parents as ours, of all the dear brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, of the little pleasures with which God filled our cup, and the many deep and lasting joys with which He crowned our life—I trust I grew year by year more grateful, while at times there would mingle with the happiness, a feeling ever increasing that it could not last for ever, and how should we prize it and turn it to good account ! So might God grant that those bright years should lead us to him from Whom all good things do come. . . .

Besides little Katie Glynne (her first cousin), there was another death in the spring of ’54 ; I mean Grand-mamma’s. We have never known grandfathers. Our grandfather Lyttelton died a year or two before Papa’s marriage ; our grandfather Glynne when Mamma was a little child ! And I may say we have never known more than one grandmother, for the impression that remains on my mind of Mamma’s mother is a very confused one. She came to live at Hagley before my birth and became gradually a confirmed invalid. I just remember her driving out in her own carriage with her companion Miss Browne, the hood up, and a large umbrella held over her. Meriel remembers when she was able to dine with Papa and Mamma, but for the last years of her life she lived quite secluded in her own rooms. From time to time one of us might be sent with a message, but this was rare, and when I did see her, her tall bent figure and, to me, stern expression [here follow some lines partly scratched out : they evidently described how Lady Glynne used to wear a black patch on her nose] awed me very much. We were not allowed as a rule to go up the staircase near her sitting-room, and were kept very quiet when¬ever we were on her side of the house. (She had the drawing-room as her sitting-room, and the little tapestry dining-room as her bedroom ; her maid had the little room next door.) Latterly we quite left off going to see her, and I remember my dismay when I bounced into the dining-room at an irregular hour, and saw her passing with her slow, careful step across it from her bedroom to’ her sitting-room. From all this it may be seen that we could know little personally of Grandmamma, and looked upon her more as a sort of awful mystery than anything else ; but I well re¬member the devotion of Mamma and Auntie Pussy to her ; how much time they spent with her, and how much talk with Miss Browne about her health ; also the instinct early taught us, and which I have hardly yet lost, of avoiding, or going softly by, the staircase and passages near her rooms.

And now having spoken about Grandmamma, I must describe Granny,(Her father’s mother, Sarah, Lady Lyttelton.) for so we always called her as a distinction, and the fond familiar name best suits her. My first recollections of her are as making us charming presents ; frocks, sashes, and so on ; and later, little ” tips ” of money, so that her arrival was always a great event. I suppose she cannot be called a pretty old lady, as she has lost the sight of one eye from brow ague ; but in spite of this defect, to me, and to most I believe, she has always had a charm about her better than beauty. Tall, with great dignity and grace of manner, a sweet smile, a low melodious voice, and a power of winning and attracting everyone who knows her ; this is the best superficial idea I can give of her. But I can’t do justice on paper to all that is admirable in her mind and character. Clever and brilliant in conversation, with a somewhat satirical turn, and a great gift of humour, the best letter writer I ever knew —which may partly be accounted for by her complete disbelief of the fact, and consequent ease and simplicity ; she is full of information, a first-rate teller of stories, or reader . . . [Here the account breaks off.]

The account breaks off abruptly in this way and was never finished. No occurrence mentioned in it took place later than the year 1854. In that year the regular Diary begins. It is, as I have said, entitled Vol. II, and covers the period between August 7th, 1854, when the first entry was made, and August 31st, 1856, when it ends. It is written in a childish hand much less legible than Lady Frederick’s later writing, and is frequently illustrated by pen-and-ink sketches of the scenes or persons mentioned. It is, of course, mainly a record of the routine of schoolroom life at Hagley. Enough is given, I hope, in the extracts which follow to show what this was like. To omit it would have been to leave out an essential part of the picture. For Lady Frederick kept all her life the mark of her early years. And the object aimed at throughout all the selections has been, first, to give a picture of the character and life of the writer herself, and only after that, and second to it, to illustrate generally the manners and customs, and the social, political, and religious world, of Victorian times.

The extracts here printed are about one-fifth of the whole book. They and its other four-fifths exhibit the picture of a very good, very intelligent, and very affectionate child and a very happy home. There is more about sins and prayers and sermons than is thought quite healthy by a later generation, even by that part of it which has no sympathy with the modern fashion of dismissing sin as a mere theological bogy. This gravity sometimes takes amusing forms. One admires the decision with which this youthful critic pronounces the sermons at St. Leonard’s ” good on the whole ” ; and entirely sympathises with her when she finds a book on ” The Influence of the Clergy of the First Centuries ” ” much dryer ” than Macaulay. That was Macaulay’s Essays : with Lucy Lyttelton, as with so many of us, in spite of youthful Royalist feelings ” desperately exasperated ” by Macaulay’s Whiggery, the first or almost the first ” grown-up ” book to be appreciated. Among other books which the Lyttelton children are recorded as reading are, of course, Shakespeare (though Bowdier’s), ” Half-hours with the Best Authors,” Scott’s novels, Hume’s History, and even something unspecified of Burke. Evidently it was not for nothing that they were the sons and daughters of a very fine scholar and the nephews and nieces of Gladstone. Even in these early years Lucy was beginning her life-long enthusiasm for her famous uncle. During a visit to Hawarden she records the delight of ” long rides over a country new to us, with Agnes, and some¬times Uncles William or Henry, the former being able to answer any question you may ask him.” Already too she shows more interest than most children in public affairs outside her own family and circle. Not only does she frequently allude to the cholera, then actually a scourge and terror to England, but she devotes many pages to the Crimean War, and even records the resignations of Ministers. The young politician, brought up in a political atmosphere, is also seen in a long declamation about the War and the Peace. I have spared the reader its semi-parliamentary rhetoric with a long series of passages each opening with ” Look back, look back to the nobly fought and nobly sustained battles, look back to the long long siege,” etc., etc. But perhaps the peroration may be quoted here : ” Shall we talk of having got no good by the war ? Was it undertaken for ourselves ? Let it be enough that we took up arms in defence of the just rights of a nation, that we accomplished our end and humbled the pride of the oppressor ; and then let us thankfully receive the honourable Peace and strive to make much of it : for is it not the greatest of blessings ? I say, Amen, and thank God.”

There is no mention of the reading of newspapers in this volume of the Diary ; but one wonders whether if the Crimean debates were searched one would find some speech of Gladstone or another, of which this long outburst by his youthful niece is an echo. If she had been a boy, or if she had been born fifty years later, she would certainly have been either a preacher or a politician. She came very young into the possession of the mental and physical energy, the moral enthusiasm, and the command of language, the combination of which naturally leads to one or other of those careers.

But these high matters are, of course, only occasional visitors in the diary of a girl of fourteen. We hear more of family births, marriages, illnesses and deaths, which, filling her heart, naturally filled her pages ; and of the lessons and amusements, the walks and rides, which occupied her girlish days. There was boating (as well as scarlet fever) at St. Leonard’s, and dancing in London ; there were evenings of cards (commerce and beggar-my-neighbour seem to have been the games), and occasionally of acting ; now and then, too, the children were taken to the real theatre or to hear Fanny Kemble read ” Lear ” or ” Othello.” Serious as the home was, it is evident that there was no Puritanical or Evangelical ban on innocent amuse¬ments. And of course when they were in London there were such glimpses as children can have of the great world. The extracts which follow describe several Royal functions at which the diarist was present, including two Court balls for children. She records that in preparation for one of them her younger sister ” Win,” afterwards Mrs. Edward Talbot, had ” her hair curl-papered every night ” for a week ” to make it look a little less Irish and wild.” In fact the Diary is like life, full of a lot of very little things, with a few greater ones thrown in from time to time.

And now it is more than time that the Diary should begin to speak for itself.