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Chapter XXII
in Parliament

in June, 1895, Parliament was dissolved, and active electioneering commenced. On Monday, July 15, 1895, Stanley was elected M. P. for North Lambeth, with a majority of four hundred and five. Stanley had held many meetings, and I had worked very hard, so that when it came to polling-day, we were both extremely tired. At this contest, the Radical Press distinguished itself by virulent and abusive attacks. One leading Liberal journal, on the eve of the Election, wrote that “Mr. Stanley's course through Africa had been like that of a red-hot poker drawn across a blanket,” and that “he nightly slept on a pillow steeped in blood!!” I felt too nervous and unstrung to be present at the counting of votes. I therefore decided to remain at the little Club in the York Road, Lambeth, there to await Stanley. I crept upstairs, to a dark and empty attic, for I knew that between eleven and twelve o'clock I should see the signal: a red flash against the night sky, if we had won; a blue light, if our opponent, the Radical candidate, were returned.

As I knelt by the low window, looking out on the confused mass of roofs and chimneys, hardly distinguishable against the dark sky, I thought passionately of how I had worked and striven for this day; that because Stanley had consented to stand again, I had vowed (if it were possible, by personal effort, to help towards it) that he should be returned! I felt how great he was, and I prayed that he might not be defeated, and that I might thereby keep him from returning to Africa.

The hours passed slowly. The roar of London, as of a great loom, sounded in my ears, with the pounding of my arteries; and still my eyes were steadily fixed westward, where, about a half a mile away, the votes were being counted; and I kept thinking of Stanley. Suddenly, the sky flushed pink over the roofs; to the west, a rosy fog seemed gently to rise, and creep over the sky; and, soon, a distant, tumultuous roar came rolling like an incoming tide, and I went down to meet my Stanley!

When I reached the crudely-lighted Club-room, and stood by the door, the shout of multitudes was overwhelming. Men, in black masses, were surging up the street. They poured in, Stanley in their midst, looking white and very stern. He was seized, and swung up like a feather, on men's shoulders, and carried to a table at the further end of the Hall. As he passed me, I caught his hand; it was so cold, it seemed to freeze mine! He was called upon for a speech. “Speak to us, Stanley,” was shouted. Stanley merely drew himself up, [467] and, with a steady look, very characteristic, said quietly, “Gentlemen, I thank you, and now, good-night!” In a few minutes, he and I were stepping into a hansom cab in a back street. During the drive we did not speak. In the hall of our home, I thought he would say something about the victory, but he only smiled at me, and said, “ I think we both need rest; and now for a pipe.” We both, as Stanley said, needed rest; I was tired out, and left London for the Engadine, whilst Stanley remained for the Opening of Parliament. He promised to keep a Journal of his first impressions of the House of Commons, and sent the pages to me day by day. I here give extracts from that “Journal of one week in the House of Commons.”

August 12th, 1895. The architect of the House must have been very deficient in sense of proportion, it seems to me. I think, of all the Parliament Houses I ever saw, I am obliged to confess that any of the State Houses in America would offer superior accommodation to the members. Where are the desks for the members, the comfortable, independent chairs, the conveniences for making notes, and keeping papers? In contrast to what my mind recalls of other Chambers, this House is singularly unfurnished. Money has been lavished on walls and carved galleries, but nothing has been spent on conveniences. Then, again, the arrangements: the two Parties, opposed in feeling and principle, have here to confront one another, and present their sides to the Speaker, instead of their faces. Surely we ought to find something more congenial to look at than sour-looking opponents!

At ten minutes to two, I was back in the House. It was now crowded, every seat was occupied, Cross-benches, and under the Gallery, as well as both doorways. Then the House hushed, and in came an officer from the Lords, in old-fashioned costume of black, and a wig, gingerly carrying a gilded rod. He walked trippingly along the floor of the House to our table, at which sat three old-fashioned and be-gowned officers, and delivered a message in a not very clear voice. Whereupon the centre officer stood up, and advanced from behind the table towards him, the one with the gilded rod tripping mincingly backward. When they were both near the door, G. J. Goschen and a few other leaders strode after him; then, from either side of the House, members poured and formed procession, until there were probably three hundred in it.

We marched through the passage in twos and threes, passing [468] two great Halls crowded with visitors, many of whom were ladies. We halted at the Bar of the Lords. Then I knew we were in the “gilded chamber,” which has been so often spoken about lately. This was my first view of it, and I looked about me curiously. To call it a “gilded chamber” is a simple exaggeration. There was not enough gilding for it to merit that term. It was nearly empty, there being about sixteen Peers in their seats. Four scarlet-gowned, cock-hatted gentlemen sat in front of the Throne, and some twenty ladies occupied the settees on the right.

As soon as our ‘Commons’ officer, whom we had followed, had entered, the clerk of the Lords, standing between him and the scarlet-gowned four, commenced reading from an elaborately-engraved parchment. He was well into his subject before I could get near enough to the Bar to hear his voice. I could not distinguish any word he said, but when he concluded, the Lord Chancellor--I suppose it was he — read in a much clearer voice some message to the effect that we could proceed to elect a Speaker. When he concluded, he and his three friends took off their hats; at which we retired, betaking ourselves to our own House through the long passage by which we had left.

I met many friends, but I have not been able to exchange twelve sensible words with any of them except Mr. Charles Darling, Q. C., M. P.,1 and Colonel Denny, M. P. All the rest appear to be in a perfect fever. They no sooner grasp your hand and pour out congratulations than they turn away to another person, and, during their glib greetings, keep looking away to someone else.

I searched the faces on the Radical benches to see if I recognised John Burns and James J. O'Kelly. I would not be sure of O'Kelly, because he is so different from the slim young man I knew in Madrid in 1873--twenty-three years ago.

It is too early yet to say whether I shall like the House or not. If there is much behaviour like that of Dr. Tanner in it, I shall not; but it is ominous to me that the man can be permitted to behave so badly.

William Allen, the Northumbrian, was a prominent figure among the Radicals, with his American felt hat, and loud grey [469] suit. He is certainly a massive fellow; and I am half-inclined to think that he is rather vain, under all that Radical affectation of unkemptness. If true, it is a pity; for he must have a good heart, and plenty of good sense.

I have written this out on the spur of the moment, while all is fresh in my mind. Mayhap I will send you more of the hasty diary, the day after to-morrow.

Second day, 14th Parliament of Her Majesty's reign.

August 13th. I walked down to the House at 11 A. M. Members were just beginning to arrive. Secured my seat, this time on an upper bench, behind our leaders, that I might be away from the neighbourhood of that ill-mannered Dr. Tanner, and not vis-à--vis to the scowling Radicals.

I strode through the passages to the big ante-hall, where I found the Members had begun to gather. One came to me with level eyes, and was about to indulge in an ejaculation, when I said, “I almost think I know you by your look. You can't be O'Kelly?” He softened, and answered “Yes,” --upon which, of course, I expressed my surprise that this stout figure could be the slim young man I knew in Madrid, twenty-three years ago. At that time he had just been released from a Cuban prison, and had been sent to Spain by the Cuban authorities. Sickles, the American Minister, obtained his release on parole. Now, here he stood, transformed into an elderly legislator! I gently chaffed him that, knowing I had been in London so many years, he had never sought my acquaintance. “Tell me, honestly,” I said, “was it not because you had become such an important public man?” It confused him a little, but O'Kelly and I were always pretty direct with each other.

Just near me was the worthy Kimber of Wandsworth. I turned to him, and said, “Now come, have some tenderness for a stranger, and tell me something of someone. May we not sit together for this one time, and let me hear from you, who is who?”

“By all means, come,” he said, gaily; and, as it was drawing near noon, we entered the House, and we took our seats near old Sir John Mowbray. I was fairly placed for observation, and sufficiently distant from the Radicals.

“Who is that gentleman opposite to me, next to John Ellis, second in support of Speaker Gully yesterday?” --“ That is [470] Farquharson, of Aberdeen. That light-haired young man is Allen, of Newcastle. The gentleman on the upper bench is Sir E. Gourley, of Sunderland; and the one opposite, on the other bench, is Herbert Gladstone.” But it is unnecessary to go further, you will understand his method. He pointed out quite two-score of people, with some distinctive remark about each.

It was two or three minutes past twelve. A hush fell on the House, the doors were thrown open, and in walked Black Rod, Captain Butler, straight to the Bar, but daintily, as though he were treading consecrated ground. He delivered his message to the Speaker, who sat bareheaded, out of courtesy to the stranger. Black Rod having backed a certain number of paces, the Speaker, William Court Gully, rose, stepped down to the floor, and marched resolutely forward. Members poured out in greater number than yesterday, as though to protect our gallant leader during the perils he was to encounter with the awful Lords. I looked up and down the procession, and, really, I think that not only the Speaker but the nation might have been proud of us. We made such a show! Of course, the halls were crowded with sight-seers.

By the time the Speaker was at the Bar, Kimber and I had got into the Gallery of the Peers' Chamber, and I now looked down upon the scene. The four big-wigs in scarlet and cocked hats were before the Throne. They looked so still that they reminded me of “ Kintu and his white-headed Elders.” 2 The Peers' House was much emptier even than yesterday; I counted five Peers only. The Speaker, backed by the faithful Commons, demanded freedom of debate, free exercise of their ancient privileges, access to Her Majesty's presence on occasion, etc., and when he had ended, the Lord Chancellor, immoveable as yesterday, read out that Her Majesty graciously approved his election as Speaker, and was pleased to grant that her faithful Commons should enjoy, etc., etc., etc.

It was over! Back we strode to our House, policemen bareheaded now. Our Speaker was full Speaker, if you please, and the First Commoner in the realm. We reached our House, the Speaker disappeared, and, when we had taken our seats again, he presently burst upon the scene. We all rose to our feet bareheaded. He was now in full heavy wig and robes. [471] He had a statelier pace. Irving could not have done it better on the Stage.

He rose to his chair, ampler, nobler, and sat down heavily; we all subsided, putting on our hats. Up rose the Speaker, and informed us that he had presented our petition to the Throne, and had been graciously received, and all the Commons' privileges had been confirmed. He took the opportunity, he said, while on his feet, of thanking us once more for the honour we had done him. He had not gone far with his speech before he said “I graciously,” and then corrected himself, one or two members near me grunting, “Humph.” What will not nervousness make unhappy fellows say! He meant to say, ‘I sincerely’!

We were now to prepare to take the Oath. He took it first, Sir Reginald Palgrave delivering it to him. He signed his name on the roll, after which the book was brought to the table, on which were five New Testaments, and five cards on which were these words:--

“I---- do solemnly swear to bear faithful and true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, her heirs and successors according to law. So help me God.”

Balfour, Goschen, Harcourt, Fowler, and another, stood up at the table, held the book up, repeated the oath, kissed the Testament, and each went to subscribe his name on the roll. What an Autograph-book, after all have signed it!

Another five Ministers came, took the Oath, and departed; another five, and then the Privy Councillors, and after them the ordinary Members. And now that stupid English habit of rushing occurred, just as they do everywhere, and on every occasion, at Queen's levees, at railway-stations, and steamer-gangways. An Englishman is a gregarious animal. He must rush, and crowd, and jostle, looking as stupidly-amiable as he can, but, nevertheless, very much bent on getting somewhere, along with the crowd. The table could not be seen for the fifty or more who formed a solid mass. I waited until 1.15 P. M. I then went; the mass was much reduced, but I was driven to the table with force. I looked behind. It was O'Kelly. “Keep on,” he said; “I follow the leader.” “All right, I will pass the Testament to you next.” Two begged for it--Colonel Saunderson was one--but I was firm. “Very sorry, Colonel, I have promised.” [472]

I repeated the Oath, kissed the Testament, and handed the book to O'Kelly, hoping he will be honest with his Oath, and “bear faithful and true allegiance,” etc.!

I signed my name in the book,--“Henry M. Stanley, North Lambeth,” --was introduced to Mr. Speaker, who knows how to smile, and nod, and shake hands graciously,--passed through, and met the doorkeeper, who said, “Mr. Stanley, I presume? ” “ Yes.” “Ah, I thought I recognised you. I heard you lecture once at Kensington,” etc., etc.

I was shown the way, got out into the street, took a hansom, and drove to Mr. (now, Sir Henry) Lucy's, at Ashley Gardens, for lunch, where we had an extremely pleasant party. Parted at 3.30, and I travelled home, where I looked over a pile of Blue-books, and wrote this long entry of the second day of Parliamentary life!

The 15th inst. was the beginning of work. I was at Prayers for the first time. Canon Farrar officiated. There was a short exhortation, when we turned our faces to the wall and repeated the Lord's Prayer after him; after which, we had three short prayers, and the “Grace,” and it was over. I noticed the Members joined heartily on our side in the Lord's Prayer. It is at such times that Englishmen appear best to me. They yield themselves unreservedly to the customs of their forefathers, in utter defiance of the blatant atheism of the age. The ceremony was sweetly simple, yet it moved me; and, in my heart, I honoured every Member the more for it. I thought of Solomon's beautiful Prayer for Understanding, and the object of these supplications was for assistance in the right doing of the legislative work before the House.

The Speaker has grown sensibly, in my estimation, since the first day when he sat in the ranks, on the Radical benches. Then he appeared a clever, legal-looking member, of somewhat high colour, a veritable “Pleydell” (Scott's “Guy Mannering ” ). Though I have seen him in his process of transformation into the First Commoner, I was not quite prepared for this increased respect. I suppose the form and ceremony attending his coming and going, the ready obedience and respect of every Member and official, have somewhat to do with my conversion. I feel as if we were going to be proud of him.

The seconder of the Address was our friend Robertson, of [473] Hackney, who was in Court dress. He spoke well, but wandered discursively into matters that seemed to have no application to the Address. He referred slightly, by innuendo, to me, as being in the House, with a large knowledge of Africa. Dr. Tanner, contravening the usage of the House, cried out, “That is Stanley!”

After Robertson, up rose Sir William Harcourt in a ponderous way, extremely old-fashioned and histrionic. I used, in my boyhood, to fancy this style was very grand; but, with more mature intelligence, I cannot say I admire it. It is so markedly stage-like, that I feel a resentful contempt for it. All the time I thought how much better his speech would sound if he left off that ponderous manner, and was more natural. He, no doubt, has the gift of speech; but the style is superfluous. It is slow and heavy, reminding one of the heavy gentlemen of a past age on the boards, playing The Justice; and, naturally, chaff came in freely; for it all seemed part of the comedy. Balfour called it “easy badinage,” but that is his polite way.

I find that the art of speaking has not been cultivated. Each speaker, so far, has shewn that he possesses matter abundantly — words flow easily, which make readable speeches; but while I did not expect, where it was not needed, any oratorical vehemence or action, I did expect what I might call “ the oratorical deportment,” such as would fit the subject-matter. The speakers have words and intonations that ought, with improved manner, to elevate them in the mind of the listener. Their hands fidget about books and papers, their bodies sway in contrary attitude to the sentiment. I attribute this to want of composure, born of nervousness. Yet such veteran speakers by this time ought to be above being flurried by a sympathetic House.

Balfour came next, with a long speech, which was undoubtedly a relief.

Sir Charles Dilke jumped up after Balfour, and he seemed to me to come nearer to what I had been expecting to see. His voice is showy, but not so sweet as Balfour's. His manner is cool, composed, and more appropriate to the spirit of debate, as I conceive it. There is an absence of all affectation, so that he is vastly preferable to Harcourt. It is a cultivated style; [474] he seems to be sure of his facts, there is no deprecation, neither is there haughtiness. He is professionally courteous, and holds himself best of all. With the sweet voice of Balfour, his own composure and self-possession, I think Dilke would have been superior to all.

Mr. Seton-Karr was also excellent. Matter, style, bearing, most becoming; no hesitancy, doubt, or awkwardness, visible. Good-tempered, too. His subject was not such as to call for exertion of power; but he was decidedly agreeable.

Up rose Mr. Haldane, and gave us a lecture, extremely bantering in tone. His whole pose was so different from all his predecessors! The solemn ponderousness, and affected respect for the House, of Harcourt; the deprecating manner of Balfour; the professional gravity of Dilke, were so opposite to the gage-throwing style of Haldane. He is a combatant, and only bides his chance.

John Redmond followed, with a plain, matter-of-fact, but good speech. He does not aim at making impressions, but to deliver himself of a duty.

John Dillon was next. He, also, has a thin voice, and speaks well; but, while it would be impossible for him to excite excessive admiration, he wins our respect and friendly tolerance. There is no arrogance; but he impresses one as well-meaning, though blindly devoted to meaner glories for his country, and wholly unconscious of the grander glories that he might obtain for Ireland, if he had good sense.

After Dillon, followed Gerald Balfour, with his brother Arthur's voice and manner. He wins our regard for him personally, and we feel sure as he goes on that the speaker has a lofty idea of his duty, and that he will do it, too, though he die for it. There is not a single phrase that expresses anything of the kind; but the air is unmistakeable: neither bludgeons, nor knives, nor pistols held to his head would make him budge from the performance of duty! It is a noble pair of brothers — Arthur and he! We are all proud of them! They are fine personalities, “ out and out!”

The impossible Dr. Tanner, however, found that he could make objections to them. I was quite thirty-five feet away from him, and yet I heard him call him — Gerald--“the Baby.” “Baby does n't know. Oh, they are only snobs,” etc., etc. [475]

There were sixty gentlemen on our side who heard Tanner, but all they said was “Order! Order!” This, to me, is a wonderful instance of the courtesy to be found in the House. Sixty big, strapping gentlemen can sit still, and hear their chiefs insulted, and called “snobs,” and only call “Order! Order!”

“Tay-pay” followed, which, if it had not been for the brogue, would have been equal to the best speech of the House. He might have been Curran, Shiel, O'Connell, and Burke combined, but the “brogue” would have reduced his oratory to third-rate. Nevertheless, in the construction, copiousness, command of words, and easy, composed bearing, he deserves to rank with Dilke. But the sibilancy of his words distracts the ear, and that is a pity. He can be animated, though, and at the right time. He made good play with Gerald Balfour's expression of an “unchanging, and an inflexible, opposition to Home-Rule.” I have always cared for “Tay-pay.”

At midnight, we rose and left the House. Before I had finished my pipe, and a chapter of Grote, it was 1 A. M. At 6 A. M. of the 17th, punctually, I was up again, made my own tea, and, at 7 A. M., I was at my desk writing this rapid sketch for my wife!

August 20th. Yesterday was one of the most wearying days I have experienced since leaving Africa. To secure a seat at all, one has to visit the House at an early hour to write his name, and then one had to be on hand for Prayers. The sitting began at 3 P. M., and ended this morning at 2.20--eleven hours and forty minutes! We voted seven times, which occupied over three hours. We listened to the most dreary twaddle which it has ever been my lot to hear! Tim Healy was up from his seat oftener than any two men, and appeared to be maliciously bent on tiring us all out. He reminds me, when he speaks, of a gentle little zebra, trying to “moo.” His round glasses, and the vast concave between his cheek-bones and eyebrows, give him this peculiar resemblance. When he turned to us, and said, “I look across at the boasted Majority, and I cannot say I regard it with awe,” his likeness to a little zebra-cow was impressed on me by the way he brought out the words. It was a perfect, gentle “moo,” in tone.

I have now learned to know all the most prominent among the Irish Members by sight. There is a marked difference in [476] type between them and our Members. The Celtic, or Iberian, type affords such striking contrasts to the blonde, high-coloured Anglo-Saxon. There is the melancholy-looking John Dillon, who resembles a tall Italian or Spaniard; there is the sanguine Dalziell, like one of the Carlists of my youthful days; there is the quaint-faced Pickersgill, with the raven hair; “Tay-pay,” with hair dark as night, who, despite his London training, is still only a black-haired Celt; and many more singular types, strongly individualistic. While, on our side, Sir William Houldsworth best represents the florid-faced gentlemen who form the sturdy, long-suffering Majority.

The Obstructive tactics, about which I heard so much in the past, have been pursued for three days now, most skilfully. Like an unsophisticated new Member, I have sat watching curiously, speaker after speaker rising to his feet on the Opposition side, wondering why they showed so much greater energy than our people, and expecting to be rewarded with a great speech; but so far I have waited in vain. It dawned upon me, after a while, that they were all acting after a devised plan. There was absolutely nothing worth listening to in anything any one of them said, but it served admirably to waste time, and to exasperate, or, rather, fatigue one.

Towards midnight, the patience of the Government seemed worn out, and from that hour, until 2.20 A. M., we were kept marching to the lobbies, and being counted. Each count occupies from twenty minutes to half an hour. We went through the performance four times in succession, and our majorities were double the total number of the minority.

I was so tired, when I came home, that I felt as if I had undergone a long march. The close air of the House I feel is most deleterious to health, for the atmosphere of the small chamber after the confinement of about three hundred and fifty Members for eleven hours, must needs be vitiated.

We are herded in the lobbies like so many sheep in a fold; and, among my wonders, has been that such a number of eminent men could consent voluntarily to such a servitude, in which I cannot help seeing a great deal of degradation.

The criminal waste of precious time, devotion to antique customs, the silent endurance of evils, which, by a word, could be swept away, have afforded me much matter of wonder. [477] There are Irish M. P.'s who must feel amply rewarded, in knowing that, through sheer excess of impudence only, they can condemn so many hundreds of their betters to bend servilely to their behests! At many of the divisions, I have been almost smothered by Hicks-Beach, the Marquis of Lorne, Austin Chamberlain, Arthur Balfour, Tom Ellis, Arnold-Forster, Henry Chaplin, George Curzon, Lord Compton, Sydney Gedge, Lord Dalkeith, Coningsby Disraeli, and scores of great land-owners and others; temperature in the nineties. While, on the other side of our cage, stood Tim Healy in the cool hall, smiling inwardly at this servility on the part of so many noble and worthy men!

But, if I pity this dumb helplessness of our great Majority, and marvel at its meek submissiveness to the wholly unnecessary, I pity still more that solitary figure in the Speaker's Chair, who has been sitting, and standing, from 3 P. M. to 2.20 A. M. One said to me, “What won't six thousand pounds a year do?” Well, I swear that I am above it, if the reward was double; because I should not survive it long, and hence would derive no benefit from the big pay. I pity him from my heart, and I hope sincerely that his constitution is strong enough to bear it. No mortal can sit eleven hours, on a rich diet, and long survive.

August 23rd. The vote in connection with the Foreign Office, on the 21st, formed a legitimate excuse for my rising to deliver a few remarks, in answer to Sir Charles Dilke. I see those remarks are called my Maiden Speech, but as I made no preparation — as I really did not suspect there would be any occasion for interposing in the debate — I do not think they deserve to be called a speech.

Sir Charles, in that professional manner I have already alluded to, began with drawing attention to Armenia and China, and, as though he was again about to set out on a tour through Greater Britain, soon entered upon the question of the evacuation of Egypt; and, then airily winging his way across the dark continent, lighted on West Africa and its affairs, dipped into the liquor traffic; then suddenly flew towards Uganda, and, after a short rest, continued his flight to Zanzibar and Pemba.

As an exhibition of the personal interest he took in matters [478] abroad, in little-known countries, no fault could be found with his discursive flights; that is, if the Committee were sitting for the purpose of judging his proficiency and knowledge. But, as the House takes no interest in any one's personal qualifications, his speech was, I thought, superfluous.

It is not easy, however, to reply in the House, all at once. Half a score of Members are on the “qui-vive” to discharge upon the submissive body their opinions. I perceive as each would-be speaker rises to attract the Chairman's attention that his thoughts are abundant; but, when he is permitted to speak, the thoughts do not flow so smoothly out of his lips as they may have coursed through his mind! If he is a new Member, he is a pitiable object at such a time. Even the old Members are not always happy.

Well, after Sir Charles Dilke sat down, our friend James Bryce rose, who, I must admit, speaks fluently, as well he might, with his great experience as a Lecturer, Member, and Minister. I do not think he is at all nervous; at least, I should not judge him to be so from his manner.

After him, rose Mr. McKenna to ask about Siam. I had made a little move, but I was too late, having not quite concluded in my own mind that I ought to speak.

When he finished, Commander Bethell had the floor. These old Members shoot to their feet with a sudden spring, like Jack-in-the-Box. He spoke upon Egypt and the new countries of Central Africa like one desirous of obtaining information upon matters which puzzled him.

Parker Smith, sitting beside me, was on his feet in an instant; but what he said seemed to me rather an indistinct echo of what his brother C. S. Smith (formerly Consul at Zanzibar) thinks of Zanzibar slavery.

I rose, a trifle after he finished; but the veteran, “TommyBowles, was ahead of me, and what he said was fatal to the repose, and concentration, of mind necessary for a speech. He speaks excellently, and delivers good, solid matter. My surprise at his power, and my interest in what he said, was so great, that I could not continue the silent evolution of thought in which I should have engaged, had he been less interesting and informing; and here I ought to say, that I do not join with some in their dislike of him. He is not a man to be despised. [479] As a public speaker, he comes very near in ability to Chamberlain, who is, without doubt, the best debater in the House. Given the fitting subject, suited to his manner, Mr. Bowles would certainly prove that my opinion of him as a Parliamentary debater is correct. He is quite cool, uses good language, and handles his arguments with skill. Then, again, there is no oddity or awkwardness of bearing, to neutralize the effect of his words. As I supposed he was drawing to a close, I resolutely collected my straying thoughts, and excluded what he was saying out of my mind; and, as he was sitting down, I stood up, and Mr. Lowther called out “Mr. Stanley” in a firm, clear voice.

It is not a pleasant feeling to look down from the third row upon an intelligent and critical Opposition, who, you feel, are going to pay more attention to the manner than the matter of your speech. The reporters and editorial Members, in remarking upon how I spoke, gave free rein to their fancies. “Tay-pay,” as you must have seen in the pink “Sun” I sent you, has excelled all the rest in his imaginative description of my deportment. You will wonder, perhaps, when I say that the picture of me, which he gives, is far from representing my inwardness. All my fellow-members have a remarkable gift of easy verbosity. There is a small kernel of fact in almost every sentence they deliver, but it is often indistinguishable, through the vast verbiage.

The veriest trifle of commonplace fact is folded round and round with tissue after tissue of superfluity. If a Member wished to say that he had seen a rat, he seems to be unable to declare the fact nakedly, but must hedge it about with so many deprecatory words that you are apt to lose sight of the substance. He says: “I venture to say, with the permission of the House, that unless my visual organs deceive me, and the House will bear me out when I say that my powers of ocular perception are not of the most inferior kind, that,” etc., etc.

To nervous people, this verbiage serves as a shelter, until they can catch the idea they are groping for. I wanted some such shelter badly, for it requires a strong effort to marshal out your ideas and facts, so that there shall be no awkward break in the speech. Gladstone used to shelter to excess; he [480] circumvented, to a weary length; and often required more than one sentence before he could muster courage to approach the fact.

Well! I have not got the art! First, I have not the patience; and, then, again, I disdain the use of the art, on principle. I want to say what I have to say, right out, and be done with it,--which does not tend to elegance.

Considering these, my Parliamentary imperfections, my facts rolled out without being over-detached. Some say I spoke rapidly. They are wrong. I spoke at the ordinary rate of public speech, and distinctly. By the kindness of the House, I was made to feel that I was not saying anything foolish or silly. That was the main point, and inspired me with just enough confidence to prevent an ignominious breakdown. I sat down with the feelings of one who had made a deep dive, and came up just in time to relieve the straining lungs. Members all said that I had done well. I was congratulated right and left. Well, honestly, I did not know whether I was doing well or ill! I had a few sentiments to utter, and I felt relieved that they were not botched.

In the afternoon, Parker Smith got up, and remarked that, in what I said, I had been “trading on my reputation.” Fancy a young fellow, sitting next to you, getting up and saying such a thing,--and he a veteran Parliamentarian! I chose my time, and got up to say that I was wholly unaware of having uttered a word calling for such a remark; and I begged the honourable gentleman not to make any more such!

Yesterday, however, I did not make a brilliant figure. Ashmead-Bartlett, a truly busy bee, asked a question in regard to the hanging of Stokes, an English trader in East Africa. I, not wishing that the House should express too great an indignation, got up a question which, while it did justice to poor Stokes's merits, showed how rash and misguided he had been in consorting with Kibonge, the murderer of Emin Pasha, and supplying him with arms. But the question was too long, and the Speaker checked me when I was near the end of it.

I have not been clear of a headache all this week. The atmosphere in the House, during this great heat, is simply poisonous. I do not wonder, now, at the pasty, House-of-Commons complexion; four hundred people breathing for [481] ten or eleven hours the air of one room must vitiate it. Then my late hours, 2 and 3 A. M., simply torture me. One night, I was relieved by Labouchere pairing with me; and so got home by midnight, and slept six hours. On all other nights, I have not been able to obtain more than four hours sleep.

Yesterday, I paired with Labouchere, for the rest of the Session from to-night; so I shall lie in bed all day to-morrow, to rest; and, after finishing some private work, shall depart on my holiday.

Thus ends this Journal of Stanley's first week in Parliament.

1 Now Sir Charles Darling, Judge in the King's Bench Division.

2 See “The legend of Kintu ” in My Dark Companions (by Stanley).

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