1 SEPTEMBER 1984, Page 16

One hundred years ago

The death of Lord Ampthill is the most serious loss to this country which its Diplomatic Service could have suf- fered. He combined all the qualities which go to make a great diplomatist, especially a great diplomatist of the kind needed and dear to England. Diplomacy is one of the few professions in which it is still a pure advantage to belong to one of the great families. And Odo Russell belonged to one of the most popular and most trusted of those families. But though it is always an advantage to a diplomatist to be one of the great caste which still commands more confidence abroad and more acceptance in England than any middle- class man can easily create for himself, there are disadvantages in the inheri- tance of aristocratic habits of character which a great many of those who are attached to our Foreign Office never surmount. It is not especially an aris- tocratic habit of mind to love know- ledge; it is not especially an aristocratic habit of mind to study character; it is not especially an aristocratic habit of mind to be reticent of the impulse that first forms itself in social intercourse, and that first suggests words to the tongue. But all these qualities Lord Ampthill had in abundance.

Spectator, 30 August 1884