THE HAYWARD LETTERS.*
THERE is nothing whatever in this book. It has been most discreetly and properly edited, with just the elucidatory notes required ; the editor effaces himself in an unusual and most commendable manner; it will give no one any pain, and it will lower no one's estimate of any one who received or who wrote the "Letters ;" but we can hardly imagine any one reading it straight through. Except a few witty and slightly forced letters from Mrs. Norton and her sister, the late Lady Dufferin, some natural letters from Lord Monck, with little in them but good-humoured cleverness, and a note or two from a political personage, usually as guarded as if they were to be published next week, there is nothing whatever to interest the most inveterate student of modern history. Mr. Hayward probably despised Lord Malmesbary, but Lord Malmeribury's memoirs, which cover nearly the same period, are five times as interesting as these letters. We can hardly believe that • he Hayward Letters. Edited by E. Whale. London : John Murray.
even Mr. Hayward's friends will be pleased with the two volumes. Their contents show that Mr. Hayward, the son of a small proprietor, and originally articled to a country attorney, pursued through life two objects,—to be a man of letters, yet to live with the great ; and that he succeeded in both. As early as July, 1835, he had established his position, as he tells his sister, as "a regular member of the best London society —by which I do not mean the highest in mere rank—but that which includes all the most distinguished politicians, lawyers, poets, painters, men of science, wits, lec., along with the most enlightened of the aristocracy." The letters contain evidence that he retained that position till his death ; but that is nearly all they contain. There is nothing whatever in them to show why he acquired a reputation as a writer, for his letters would have given him none ; or why great personages consulted him, for he displays no special qualities ; or why he attained and kept the position in society of which he is so proud. We see that he did it, but nothing more. Great people write to him with a certain familiarity; there is obvious through the letters a readi- ness among politicians to accept his good offices when personal difficulties interrupt business, and there is a willingness to believe him a personage ; but of the reasons for all this, nothing appears. He wrote well, and evidently worked hard, learning German, French, and Spanish perfectly, and getting up articles for quarterlies and magazines as carefully as if they were briefs; but his letters leave his character on most points perfectly dark. We see that he was an affectionate brother, perhaps also an affectionate son, though the short letter on his father's death reads a little unlike that character ; we see that while eager for success in society, he preserved a determined pride which kept him from asking favours ; and we see that he wrote pleasantly, even flatteringly, to the well-placed or eminent women who wrote so pleasantly to him (vide all the letters to Lady Emily Peel) ; but beyond these things, no gleam of light is thrown upon his character. For all that appears, he need not have had one. Even the intellectual power which he must have possessed is not revealed. There is in the collection but one account of his many successful political negotiations with individuals, or of the political " work " which, in his own judgment, gave him such strong claims to permanent office, if not, indeed, to a profitable sinecure. He may not have overrated these claims. In one instance, that of the negotia- tions for a Commercial Treaty with Austria, Madame Blaze de Bury, who, however, wrote books and thought Mr. Hayward could distribute fame, acknowledges his claim in a very full way. Lord Palmerston, who never read anything, wanted a Com- mercial Treaty with Austria, and Mr. Hayward, having pumped Count Rechberg, found out the bases upon which such a Treaty could be arranged, and supplied Lord Palmerston with the needful information. Madame Blaze de Bury thereupon writes :—
"Paris, November 3rd, 1862.
"Thanks, dear Mr. Hayward, many and sincere ! — and I both agree that the Southampton speech was your doing, entirely ! Now, on your side of the water you don't know the dessous des cartes of the whole business. I do, and it is so amusing a one that were I to tell it you, I would make you ill with laughter ; suffice it to say that you had rendered an enormous service to all parties, for you have put into Lord Palmerston's mouth what will largely help to make the grandest commercial treaty that ever was, inevitable ; and you have personally assured a superiority of position to Lord Palmerston that be might not have had if he had not at once nailed his visitor to the Treaty. You can't know of what use your explanation of Count Rechberg to Lord Palmerston has been. When I see you I'll explain to you the whole. It is a very choice bit of contemporary political history, and the service you have done to the greatest cause of the time, and to the greatest commercial interest England has, is ince'.
oulable.—Yours ever faithfully, and obliged, R. DE BURY."
That was an important service to the State, and it is believed that Mr. Hayward performed many such; but this is the only one of which the modus operandi is described, and his many friends in many Ministries acknowledged none. They knew that, though no place-hunter, he wished for place, being poor for his way of living; they wrote to him frequently acknowledging his claims ; they can hardly have doubted his competence for most permanent posts in their gift ; and once at least they received kindly a direct applica- tion from himself; but they gave him nothing. He would have been appointed once to a post he desired, if somebody bad resigned; but the somebody changed his mind, and Mr. Hayward was left for life out in the cold. There was ground for bitterness here, and he grew bitter; but there is no bitterness in these letters, any more than any other quality. We have no doubt that he was a sagacious man ; but, except in some remarks on Turkey, there is little evidence of sagacity. He never understood in the least the strength, though he clearly perceived the weaknesses, of Mr. Disraeli, and generally thought him dying in popular estimation, and in 1850 pronounced him already forgotten. "How soon one of these puffed-up reputa-
tions goes down. It is like a bladder after the pricking of a pin." He misunderstood the force in Louis Blanc, and thought he would be pardoned as a weak enthusiast, the Corsican grip
of the eager little man escaping him entirely ; he either did not perceive, or did not mention, the importance of the great Indian Mutiny, and he positively fretted under that " unreasonable " Mr. Motley's assurances that the restoration of the Union was a certainty. In fact, he foresaw very little. Throughout the two volumes, with all the will in the world, we have failed to find one instance of marked political sagacity, or one letter which we could quote as a sufficient reason, or even a good reason, why Mr. Hayward should have been trusted by statesmen as we believe him to have been. There is more evidence of intellectual power in any one of his essays, say, for instance, the paper on Gentz, than in all this book. The letters are, in fact, either domestic letters, telling his family—always in the most natural and truthful way—how well he was received in the great society "of elegance and ease," which he loved so well, or they are letters to great personages to tell them what other great personages are doing with their time. He does not sketch those personages or criticise them much, or praise them at all, or, in fact, show any interest in them except as pieces in the great game which there is reason to believe interested him keenly. He liked the Peelites, even after they ceased to be a party ; but that, and an intense dislike of the Derbyites, make all the political feeling that comes out in this book.
The volumes are nearly as weak on their literary side. Mr. Hayward's letters themselves do not contain a trace of his wit, or of his satire, or of his wealth.of knowledge ; and the letters he received, exeept those from Mrs. Norton and Lady Dufferin, are rarely worth publishing. Those are, especially the two characters of Rogers the poet, upon which critics have fastened. Lady Dufferia's is perhaps the best, eontaining.as it does the savage but true epigram that Rogers gave what he valued least, his money, but never gave what he valued most, his admiration. Bat as this• has been over-quoted, we take Mrs. Norton's, admirable in its quiet satire :—
" I am sure you will know what I mean : no man ever seemed so important, who did so little, aye, and said so little (in spite of table- talk) for his fellow-men. His God was Harmony ; and over his life Harmony presided, Bitting on a lukewarm cloud. He was not the poet, sage, and philosopher.' people expeet to find he was, but a man in whom the Jambes. (rare fact 1) preponderated over the passions; who defrayed the expenses of his tastes as other men make outlay for the gratification of their passions; all within limit of reason, he did not squander more than- won- the affection of his seraglio, the Nine Muses, nor bet upon Pegasus, though he entered him for the races when he had a fair chanceef winning. He did nothing rash. Jam sure Rogers as a baby never fell down, unless he was pushed ; but walked from chair to chair of the drawing-roont furniture steadily and quietly till he reached the place; where the sunbeam; fell on the carpet. He most always have preferred a lullaby to the merriest game of romps s and if he could have spoken would have begged his long-clothes might be made of fine Mut/ muslin instead of cambric or jacquenet, the first fabric being of incomparable softness, and the two latter capable of that which he loathed, starch. He was the very embodiment of quiet, from his voice to the last harmonious little picture that hung, in his lulled room, and a curious figure he seemed—an elegant, pale watch-tower, showing for ever what a quiet port literature and the fine arts might offer, in an age of progress,' when every one is tossing, struggling, wreaking, and foundering on a sea of commercial speculation or political adventure : where people fight even over pictures, and if a man does buy a picture, it is with the burning desire to prove it is a Raphael to his yelping enemies, rather than to point it out with a slow white finger to his breakfasting friends."
That is perfect ; but the bits of that quality, even in Mrs. Norton's letters, are sadly few. Here is the original, from Sir W. Stirling-Maxwell, of an often misquoted story :—
" Here is an anecdote from the contest for the Falkirk Burgh s :— Questioner: Will Mr. Merry vote for an alteration of the Deoalog ne ?' —Merry (aside to treacherous friend) :'What the --'s that Friend : 'Flogging in the Army.' —Merry : I beg to say, if elite tad, I will vote, and indeed I will move, for its total and immediate abolition."
And here is one of the best and most severe rejoinders ever printed in English:—
"I assure you it was not Lord Alvatiley, bat my brother Charlie who made the jest (or jets tie- mots) you quote; though immediately after, we heard it attributed (as all witty things were) to Lord Alvanley, and I said then,' How sure they were to give that to a noted wit, instead of you, Chattel' Some -man (1 `can't 'recollect idler) said, with a stupid sneer, 'I'd be afraid even to leave my card on Larcl R., for fear he'd mark it That woul t at least depend on whether he thought it a high honour,' Charlie said very quietly. But it was said rather in reproof of the fling at a man who was down, as Lord R. then
With the exception of a rubbishy jest or two by Hook, those are nearly the only anecdotes in a book which was expected to be fall of them ; while there are no political revelations, and scarcely any additions to political history. The book, in faot, is disappointing, and either suggests that Mr. Hayward's letters have been edited to death, which is improbable, or that those who received his best communications carefully destroyed them. We must add that the book also suggests rather painfully that the pursuit of position in society, even political society, throughout a life, is not what Madame Mohl once called a " nourishing " occupation. Few; indeed, of Mr. Hayward's correspondents are anything but acquaintances.