21 JUNE 1913, Page 15


[To THE EDITOR Or THE " SPECTATOR."] SIR,—A letter in the Spectator of June 7th recalls to me the -efforts often made by Mr. Gladstone to speak sympathetically of his great rival, from whom he differed as widely in tempera- ment as in politics. A distinguished Etonian has assured me that Mr. Gladstone, speaking to him of one of Disraeli's novels, was struck by its accurate description of Eton life, the only error apparently being that "the Brocas " is docked of the definite article. Such fidelity is all the more wonderful as, according to Mr. Monypenny, Disraeli, when a boy, differed utterly from the typical public school boy and, when a young man, from the ex-public school boy. In view of this triumph over difficulties, I will venture to dog-Latinize and to exclaim: "De nugis microscopicis non curat censure." During the long

friendship with which Mr. Gladstone honoured me there were instances of a like forbearance towards his great opponent. I feel sure that he sometimes spoke of him as " Dizzy." Also he regarded him as " the greatest master of Parliamentary wit that had ever been " (he did not even except Sheridan). Indeed, I am tempted to quote from "Talks with Mr.

Gladstone," p. 62, two specimens that he gave me of Disraelitish wit :—

" Gladstone.—' He [Disraeli] showed great ability when attack- ing Peel. Mind, I an► not weighing his sayings in the moral scales; but they certainly showed great ability.. , . I will give one or two examples of his witty attacks on Peel. Speaking of the Maynooth Grant, he said of Peel: "To what end is it that he thus convulses tho country ? That the Maynooth students may lie two in a bed instead of lying three in a bed." I will not deny that Maynooth was pauperized. But I will pass on to another example. Disraeli charged Peel with tracing the steam-engine back to the tea-kettle !'"

By this variant of the ironical " Commeneons par he deluge," Dizzy was doubtless charging Peel with tracing back each of his measures to its primeval rudiment and, as it were, to its emergence from chaos. Mr. Gladstone knew of my Tory rearing and traditions. Such knowledge may in part, but

only in part, account for the startling fact that the phrase of his which I have italicized above is the only instance when I

have heard him imply even a slight disapproval of anything that " Dizzy," had said or done ; and his disapproval was con- spicuous for its mildness,'and was, in a manner, smothered with eulogy. Deviating but little from Bacon's rule, laudando praecipere, he was solicitous culpando laudare.—I am, Sir, Athenaeum Club, Pall Mall, S.W.