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THE LATE DOWAGER LADY HOLLAND.
[MORNING CHRONICLE, Nov. 25, 1845.]
It seems scarcely fitting that the grave breathing picture of his most imminent dan should close over the remains of the late Dow-ger, or to embolden the bashful soldier to disager Lady Holland without some passing tri- close his own share in the perils and glories bute beyond the paragraph which announces, of some famous battle-field; to encourage the with the ordinary expression of regret, the de- generous praise of friendship, when the speaker cease of a widow lady advanced in years, and and the subject reflected interest on each other, reminds the world of fashion that the event or win the secret history of some effort which has placed several noble families in mourning. had astonished the world or shed new lights That event, which a fortnight ago was re- on science;-to conduct those brilliant devegarded by friendly apprehensions as probably lopments to the height of satisfaction, and at the distance of some years, has not merely then to shift the scene by the magic of a word, clouded and impaired the enjoyments of one were among her daily successes. And if this large circle, but has extinguished for ever a extraordinary power over the elements of sospirit of social happiness which has animated cial enjoyment was sometimes wielded without many, and severed the most genial link of as- the entire concealment of its despotism; if a sociation, by which some of the finest minds decisive check sometimes rebuked a speaker which yet grace the literary and political who might intercept the variegated beauty of world were connected with the mightiest of Jeffrey's indulgent criticism, or the jest anthose which have left us. The charms of the nounced and self-rewarded in Sydney Smith's celebrated hospitalities of Holland House, in delighted and delighting chuckle, the authority the time of its late revered master, have been was too clearly exerted for the evening's prostoo gracefully developed, by one who has often perity, and too manifestly impelled by an partaken and enhanced them, in the Edinburgh urgent consciousness of the value of those Review for July, 1841, to allow a feebler expres- golden hours which were fleeting within its sion; but death had not then bestowed the confines, to sadden the enforced silence with melancholy privilege of expatiating on the more than a momentary regret. If ever her share of its mistress in crowding those me- prohibition, clear, abrupt, and decisive, indimorable hours with various pleasure, or on cated more than a preferable regard for livethe energetic kindness with which she strove, lier discourse, it was when a depreciatory tone against the perpetual sense of unutterable was adopted towards genius, or goodness, or loss, to renew some portion of their enjoy honest endeavour, or when some friend, perments. For the remarkable position she oc-sonal or intellectual, was mentioned in slightcupied, during many years of those daily festivals in which genius, wit, and patriotic hope were triumphant, she was eminently gifted. While her own remarks were full of fine practical sense, and nice observation, her influence was chiefly felt in the discourse of those whom she directed and inspired, and which, as she impelled it, startled by the most animated contrasts, or blended in the most graceful harmonies. Beyond any other hostess we ever knew-and very far beyond any host-she possessed the tact of perceiving and the power of evoking the various capacities which lurked in every part of the brilliant circles she drew around her. To enkindle the enthusiasm of an artist on the theme over which he had achieved the most facile mastery; to set loose the heart of the rustic poet, and imbue his speech with the freedom of his native hills; to draw from the adventurous traveller a
ing phrase. Habituated to a generous partisanship by strong sympathy with a great political cause, she carried the fidelity of her devotion to that cause into her social relations, and was ever the truest and the fastest of friends. The tendency, often more idle than malicious, to soften down the intellectual claims of the absent, which so insidiously besets literary conversation, and teaches a superficial insincerity even to substantial esteem and regard, found no favour in her presence; and hence the conversations over which she presided, perhaps beyond all that ever flashed with a kindred splendour, were marked by that integrity of good nature which might admit of their exact repetition to every living individual whose merits were discussed, without the danger of inflicting pain. Under her auspices, not only all critical, but all personal talk was tinged with kindness; the strong interest
which she took in the happiness of her friends | out, and bring it within the sphere of his noble shed a peculiar sunniness over the aspects of life presented by the common topics of alliances, and marriages, and promotions; and not a hopeful engagement, or a happy wedding, or a promotion of a friend's son, or a new intellectual triumph of any youth with whose name and history she was familiar, but became an event on which she expected and required congratulation, as on a part of her own fortune. Although there was naturally a preponderance in her society of the sentiment of popular progress, which once was cherished almost exclusively by the party to whom Lord Holland was united by sacred ties, no expression of triumph in success, no virulence in sudden disappointment, was ever permitted to wound the most sensitive ear of her conservative guests. It might be that some placid comparison of recent with former times spoke a sense of freedom's peaceful victory; or that, on the giddy edge of some great party struggle, the festivities of the evening might take a more serious cast, as news arrived from the scene of contest, and the pleasure be deepened with the peril; but the feeling was always restrained by the present evidence of permanent solaces for the mind, which no political changes could disturb. If to hail and welcome genius-or even talent which revered and imitated genius-was one of the greatest pleasures of Lord Holland's life, to search it
sympathy, was the delightful study of her's. How often, during the last half century, has the steep ascent of fame been brightened by the genial appreciation she bestowed, and the festal light she cast on its solitude! How often has the assurance of success received its crowning delight amid the genial luxury of her circle, where renown itself has been realized for the first time in all its sweetness! How large a share she communicated to the delights of Holland House will be understood by those who shared her kindness, first in South-street, and recently in Stanhope-street, where, after Lord Holland's death, she honoured his memory by cherishing his friends and following his example; where, to the last, with a voice retaining its girlish sweetness, she welcomed every guest, invited or casual, with the old cordiality and queenly grace; where authors of every age and school-from Rogers, her old and affectionate friend, whose first poem illuminated the darkness of the last closing century "like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear," down to the youngest disciple of the latest school-found that honour paid to literature which English aristocracy has too commonly denied it; and where, every day, almost to her last, added to her claim to be remembered as one who, during a long life, cultivated the great art of living happily, by the great means of making others happy.
AT THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE MANCHESTER ATHENÆUM, Oct. 23, 1845.
[MANCHESTER GUARDIAN, OCT. 25, 1845.]
If there were not virtue in the objects and newing old ties of brotherhood and attachment purposes, and power in the affections, which among all classes, ranks, and degrees of have called into life the splendid scene before human family,-I feel that scarcely less than me, capable of emboldening the apprehensive the inspiration which breathes upon us here, and strengthening the feeble, I should shrink through every avenue of good you have opened, at this moment from attempting to discharge could justify the hope that the deficiencies of the duties of the high office to which the kind- the chairman of this night may be forgotten in ness of your directors has raised me. When the interest and the majesty of his themes. I remember that the first of this series of bril- Impressive as such an assembly as this would liant anniversaries, which is still only begin- be in any place, and under any circumstances, ning, was illustrated by the presidency of my it becomes solemn, almost awful, when the friend, Mr. Charles Dickens,-who brought to true significancy of its splendour is unveiled your cause not only the most earnest sympathy to the mind. If we consider that this festival with the healthful enjoyments and steady ad- of intellect is holden in the capital of a district vancement of his species, but the splendour containing, within comparatively narrow conof a fame as early matured and as deeply im- fines, a population scarcely less than two milpressed on the hearts of his countrymen as that lions of immortal beings, engrossed in a proof any writer since the greatest of her intellec- portion far beyond that of any other in the tual eras: when I recollect that his place was world, in the toils of manufacture and comfilled last year by one whose genius, singularly merce; that it indicates at once an unprecediversified and vivid, has glanced with arrowy dented desire on the part of those elder and flame over various departments of literature wealthier labourers in this region of industry, and conditions of life, and who was associated to share with those whom they employ and with kindred spirits, eager to lavish the ardours of generous youth, on the noble labour of re
protect, the blessings which equally sweeten the lot of all, and the resolution of the young
to win and to diffuse them; that it exhibits literature, once the privilege only of a cloistered few, supplying the finest links of social union for this vast society, to be expanded by those numerous members of the middle class whom they are now embracing, and who yet comprise, as the poet says, "two-thirds of all the virtue that remains," throughout that greater mass which they are elevating, and of whose welfare they, in turn, will be the guardians, we feel that this assembly represents objects which, though intensely local, are yet of universal concern, and cease to wonder at that familiar interest with which strangers at once regard them.
not merely to claim, but to select for his own a portion in that inheritance which the mighty dead have left to mankind,--secured by the magic power of the press, against the decays of time and the shocks of fortune; or to exult in a communion with the spirit of that mighty literature which yet breathes on us fresh from the genius of the living; to feel that we live in a great and original age of literature, proud also in the consciousness that its spirit is not only to be felt as animating works elaborately constructed to endure, but as, with a noble prodigality, diffusing lofty sentiments, sparkling wit, exquisite grace, and suggestions even for serene contemplation through the most rapid effusions, weekly, monthly, daily given to the world; and, far beyond the literature of every previous age of the world, aiding the spirit of humanity, in appreciating the sufferings, the virtues, and the claims of the poor. And if I must confess, even when refreshed by the invigorating influences of this hour, that I can scarcely fancy myself virtuous enough to join one of your classes for the acquisition of science or language, or young enough to share in the exercises of your gymnasium, where good spirits and kind affections attend on the development of physical energy, there are yet some of your gay and graceful intermixtures of amusement to which I would gladly claim admission. I would welcome that delightful alternation of gentle excitement and thoughtful repose by which your musical entertainments tend to the harmony and proportion of life itself. I should rejoice to share in some of those Irish Evenings by which our friend Mr. Lover has suggested, in its happiest aspects, that land which is daily acquiring, I hope, that degree of affection and justice which it so strongly claims. I would appreciate with the heart, if not with the ear, the illustrations of Burns, by which some true Scottish melodisť has made you familiar with that poet, and enabled you to forget labour and care, and walk with the inspired rustic "in glory and in joy" among his native hills; and with peculiar gratitude to your directors for enabling you to snatch from death and time some vestiges of departing grandeur in a genial art, which the soonest yields to their ravages;-I would hail with you the mightiest and the loveliest dramas of the world's poet, made palpable without the blandishments of decoration or scenery by the voice of the surviving artist of the Kemble name-in whose accents, softened, not subdued, by time, the elder of us may refresh great memories of classic grace, heroic daring, and softened grief, when he shared the scene with his brother and his sister; and those of us who cannot vaunt this privilege of age, may guess the greatness of the powers which thrilled their fathers in those efforts to which your cause
Personally till a few days ago a stranger to almost every member of your institution, or rather cluster of institutions, I find now to-day, in the little histories of your aims and achievements, which your reports present, an affinity, sudden indeed but lasting, with some of the best and happiest passages in a thousand earnest and laborious lives. I seem to take my place in your lecture room, an eager and docile listener, among young men whom daily duties preclude from a laborious course of studies, to be refreshed, invigorated, enlightened-sometimes nobly elevated, sometimes as nobly humbled, by the living lessons of philosophic wisdom-whether penetrating the earth or elucidating the heavens, or developing the more august wonders of the world which lies within our own natures, or informing the Present with the spirit of the Past;-happy to listen to such lessons from some gifted stranger, or well-known and esteemed professor, scattering the gems of knowledge and taste, to find root in opening minds;-but, better still, if the effort should be made by one of your selves, by a fellow-townsman and fellowstudent, emboldened and inspirited by the assurance of welcome to try some short excursion of modest fancy, or to illustrate some cherished theory by genial examples, and privileged to taste, in the heartiest applause of those who know him best and esteem him most, that which, after all, is the choicest ingredient in the pleasure of the widest fame. I mingle with your Essay and Discussion Class; share in the tumultuous but hopeful throbbings of some young debater; grow placid as his just self-reliance masters his fears; triumph in his crowning success; and understand, in his timid acceptance of your unenvying congratulations, at the close of his address, that most exquisite pleasure which attends the first assurance of ability to render palpable in language the products of lonely self-culture, and the consciousness that, as ideas which seemed obscure and doubtful while they lurked in the recesses of the mind, are, by the genial inspiration of the hour, shaped into form and kindled into life, they are attested by the understand-the cause of the youth of Manchester-breathing ings and welcomed by the affections of numbers. I seek your Library, yet indeed but in its infancy, but from whence information and refined enjoyment speed on quicker and more multitudinous wings than from some of the stateliest repositories of accumulated and cloistered learning, to vindicate that the right which the youngest apprentice lad possesses,
into the golden evening of life, a second spring, redolent with hope and joy, have lent a more than youthful inspiration. And while I am indulging in a participation of your pleasures, let me take leave to congratulate you on that gracious boon, which I am informed-(and I rejoice to hear it, as one of the best of all prizes and all omens in a young career)—your M
virtues have won for a large number of your fellow-workers-that precious Saturday's halfholiday-precious almost to man as to boy, when manhood, having borrowed the endearing name from childhood, seeks to enrich it with all that remains to it of childhood's delights— precious as a noble proof of the respect and sympathy of the employers for those whose industry they direct-and most precious of all in its results, if, being brightened and graced by such images as your association invokes on your leisure, it shall leave body and mind more fit for the work and service of earth and of heaven.
Thus regarding myself as a partaker, at least in thought and in spirit, of the various benefits | of your association, I would venture to regard them less as the appliances by which a few may change their station in our external life, than as the means of adorning and ennobling that sphere of action in which the many must continue to move; which, without often enkindling an ambition to emulate the immortal productions of genius, may enable you the more keenly to enjoy, and the more gratefully to revere them; which, if they do not teach you the art of more rapidly accumulating worldly riches; and if they shall not-because they cannot-endow you with more munificent dispositions to dispense them than those which have made the generosity of Manchester proverbial throughout the Christian world, may ensure its happiest and safest direction in time to come, by encouraging those who may dispense it hereafter, to associate in youth, with the affection of brotherhood, for objects which suggest and breathe of nothing but what is wise, and good, and kind. It may be, indeed, that some master mind, one of those by which Providence, in all generations and various conditions of our species, has vindicated the Divinity which stirs within it, beyond the power of barbarism to stifle, or education to improve, or patronage to enslave, may start from your ranks into fame, under auspices peculiarly favourable for the safe direction of its strength; and, if such rare felicity should await you, with how generous a pride will you expatiate on the greatness which you had watched in its dawning, and with how pure a satisfaction will your sometime comrade, your then illustrious townsman, satiated with the applause of strangers, revert to those scenes where his genius found its earliest expression, and earned its most delightful praise. If another "marvellous boy," gifted like him of Bristol, should now arise in Manchester, his "sleepless soul" would not "perish in its pride;" his energies, neither scoffed at nor neglected, would not be suffered to harden through sullenness into despair; but his genius, fostered by timely kindness, and aided by your judicious counsel, would spring, in fitting season, from amidst the protecting cares of admiring friends, to its proper quarry, mindful, when soaring loftiest, of the associations and scenes among which it was cherished, "true to the kindred points of heaven and home." But it is not in the cultivation and encouragement of such rare intellectual prodigies, still less in the formation of a race of imitators of excel
lence, that I anticipate the best fruits of your peaceful victories. A season has arrived in the history of mankind, when talents, which in darker ages might justify the desire to quit the obscure and honourable labours of common life in quest of glittering distinction, can now only be employed with safety in adorning the sphere to which they are native; when of a multitude of competitors for public favour, few only can arrest attention; and when even of those who attain a flattering and merited popularity, the larger number must be content to regard the richest hues of their fancy and thought, but as streaks in the dawn of that jocund day which now "stands tiptoe on the misty mountain's top," and in the full light of which they will speedily be blended. But if it is almost "too late to be ambitious," except on some rare occasions, of the immortality which earth can bestow; yet for that true immortality of which Fame's longest duration is but the most vivid symbol; for that immortality which dawns now in the childhood of every man as freshly as in the morning of the world, and which breaks with as solemn a foreshadowing in the soul of the most ordinary faculties, as in that of the mightiest poet; for that immortality, the cultivation of wisdom and beauty is as momentous now as ever, although no eyes, but those which are unseen, may take note how they flourish. In the presence of that immortality, how vain appears all undue restlessness for a little or a great change in our outward earthly condition! How worse than idle all assumptions of superior dignity of one mode of honourable toil to another!-how worthless all differences of station, except so far as station may enable men to vindicate some everlasting principle, to exemplify some arduous duty, to grapple with some giant oppression, or to achieve the blessings of those who are ready to perish! How trivial, even as the pebbles and shells upon "this end and shoal of time," seem all those immunities which can only be spared by fortune, to be swept away by death, compared with those images and thoughts, which, being reflected from the eternal, not only through the clear meridian of holy writ, but, though more dimly, through all that is affecting in history, exquisite in art, suggestive in eloquence, profound in science, and divine in poetry, shall not only outlast all the chances and changes of this mortal life, but shall defy the chilness of the grave! Believe me, there is no path more open to the influences of heaven, than the common path of daily duty; on that path the lights from the various departments of your Athenæum will fall with the steadiest lustre; that path, so illumined, will be trodden in peace and joy, if not in glory; happy if it afford the opportunity, as it may to some of you, of clearly elucidating some great truth, which, being reflected from the polished mirrors of thousands of associated minds, sure of the opportunity of affording the means of perceiving and accepting, embracing and diffusing many glorious truths, which, when once fairly presented, although they may be surveyed in different aspects, and tinted with the hues of the various minds which receive them, may
seem to have "a difference," will be found es- | all momentous changes of the world have been sentially the same to all, and will enrich the being of each and all.
and the national mind must either glow with generous excitement, or waste in fitful fever. How important then is it, that throughout our land-but more especially here where all the greatest of the material instruments have their triumphant home-almost that of the alchemist
produced by individual greatness, so all popular and free institutions can only be rendered There is one advantage which I may justly and kept vital by individual energies-a result boast over both my predecessors in this office, which nothing can even threaten but that most -that of being privileged to announce to you insidious form of indolence which is called a state of prosperity far more advanced and modesty and self-distrust; a result against more confirmed than that which either could which not only the welfare of this great town, develop. The fairest prophecies which Mr. and of each stranger who comes to Manchester, Dickens put forth, in the inspiration of the and who may now hope to find beneath the time, in the year 1843, have been amply ful- shelter of your roof a great intellectual home, filled; the eloquent exhortations of Mr. D'Is- but also the exigencies of the time in which raeli, in 1844, have been met by noble re- we live, plead with solemn voices!-They sponses. From a state of depression, which, remind you that existence has become almost four or five years ago, had reduced the number a different thing since it began with some of of members nearly to 400, and steeped the in-us. It then justified its old similitude of a stitution in difficulty, it is now so elevated journey; it quickened with intellect into a that, as to life members, you number 133 of march; it is now whirling with science and those who have made the best of all possible speculation into a flight. Space is contracted investments, because the returns are sure and and shrivelled up like a scroll; time disdains certain, and the rewards at once palpable and its old relations to distance; the intervals fair, which thus greet your life governors upon between the "flighty purpose" and the deed these happy anniversaries; you have of pay-through which thought might lazily spread out ing members no fewer than 2500-with an in- its attenuated films, are almost annihilated; come of £4000 a year-with a debt annihilated, with the exception of that on mortgage, and with good hope even that this encumbrance may be soon swept away, and of informing the Courts of Bankruptcy, which I understand have taken shelter beneath your roof, that it will soon be time for them to look the spiritual agencies should be quickened out for a more appropriate home. Before I into kindred activity; that the few minutes of entered this room, I confess I was inclined to leisure and repose which may be left us should, wonder how these great effects had been by the succession of those "thoughts which achieved; I knew they had been principally wander through eternity," become hours of accomplished by the great exertions, the sac- that true time which is dialled in heaven; that rifices scarcely less than heroic, of some few to a mind winged for distant scenes, convermembers of your society, who had taken its sant with the society of the great of all ages, interest deeply to heart; but now, when I see and warmed by sympathy to embrace the vast the scene before me, so graced and adorned as interests of its species, the few hours in which it is, I certainly need be surprised at no energies | the space between London and Manchester is which have been put forth,-I can wonder at now traversed-nay the little hour in which it no results that have been attained. Those ex- may soon be flashed over-shall have an inertions, however, permit me to remind you, tellectual duration equal to the old, legitimate, having been of extraordinary character, you six days' journey of our fathers; while thought, can scarcely hope to be renewed. You must no longer feebly circling in vapid dream, but look for the welfare of this institution to its impelled right onward with divine energy, younger members. To them I speak when I shall not only outspeed the realized miracles say, "To you its destinies are confided; on of steam, but the divinest visions of atmoyou, if not its existence, yet its progress and spheric prophecy, and still keep "the start of its glory depend; for its happiest success will the majestic world." Mr. Canning once not arise mainly from emancipated revenues, boasted of his South American policy, that he or the admiring sympathy of strangers, or even had “called a new world into existence to from a scheme remarkably liberal and com- redress the balance of the old ;" be it your prehensive, adapted to all, and embracing the nobler endeavour to preserve the balance even feelings of all; nor yet in laws admirably between the world within us and the world framed, to preserve and support its proportion without us-not vainly seeking to retard the and order; but it is by the vigorous efforts of life of action, but to make it steady by conyourselves perpetually renewing spirit and templation's immortal freightage. In your life in its forms-without which their very course,-members of the Manchester Atheperfection will be dangerous, because, while næum,-society at large may watch, and I presenting the fairest shows, they may, with believe will mark, the clear indications both less violence of apparent and startling transi- of its progress and its safety. While the solition, cease to be realities, and, instead of a tary leisure of the clerk, of the shopman, of great arena of intellectual exertion, may the apprentice, of the overseer, as well as of become only the abode of intellectual enjoy- the worker in all departments of labours, from ment and luxury-fair, admirable, graceful the highest to the lowest, shall be gladdened, still; but the moving and elevating impulse of at will, by those companions to whom the a vast population no more!-I know I wrong" serene creators of immortal things," in verse you in deprecating such a result as possible; and prose, have given him perpetual_introa result I only imagine, to remind you that, as duction, and who will never weary, or betray