Lord Goschen

Mr Hall Caine and Viscount Goschen at the Annual Dinner

From the WhitefriarsJournal, vol. II, no.1, February 1903, pp. 1-22.

The Annual Club Dinner was held on Friday, January 30th 1903, in the Empire Hall, Trocadero Restaurant. The Friars and Guests were received in the Alexandra Room by Friar Robert Leighton, who acted as Prior. The following served as Sub-Priors : Friars F. Carruthers Gould, B.. L. Farjeon, Kenric B. Murray, Sir Ernest Clarke, and Louis H. Falck. [See end for the Roll Call of Welcome.]

The Prior said:– ‘It is our privilege tonight to welcome as the Guest of the Club our fellow-craftsman in Letters, Lord Goschen, the toast of whose health will presently be proposed by Friar Hall Caine. We feel it a pleasure no less than an honour to receive Lord Goschen in our midst and to congratulate him upon the completion of the biography of his famous grandfather, Georg Joachim Goschen, which is to bear upon its title-page the envied imprint of one of my own guests, Mr John Murray. (Applause.)

‘It is fitting that Lord Goschen and Mr Murray should sit side by side at our board to illustrate, once again, the friendly relations which have always existed between author and publisher. But there are other reasons which make it appropriate that they should be together. A hundred and eighteen years ago exactly, Lord Goschen’s grandfather started as a publisher in Leipsig; a hundred and eighteen years ago Mr Murray’s great-grandfather threw up his commission in the Army and started as a publisher in Fleet Street. In the same year, although in different intellectual centres, they entered into practice in what my guest has himself aptly called the ‘obstetric branch’ of literary production. Both were similarly imbued with a keen love of letters, with a similar artistic desire to present the works of their authors in worthy form; both made strenuous efforts for the protection of copyrights. And while Joachim Goschen was engaged in friendly as well as professional intercourse with Goethe and Schiller, with Klopstock and Wieland, and with Körner, the poet of the battle-field ; John Murray was similarly engaged in giving to the world the works of Byron and Campbell, of Crabbe and Moore, and Isaac D’Israeli. I should be glad, if I might, to say something here and now of the delight which is in store for readers of Lord Goschen’s forthcoming book, and especially since I understand that Friar Hall Caine has not yet enjoyed my |privilege of examining an advance copy of the handsome volumes.

‘But, while Lord Goschen has been in labour upon the work for many years, Mr Murray, his obstetric assistant, has seen cause to delay the accouchement, and it would, perhaps, be indiscreet to do more than merely refer to it.’

Friar Hall Caine proposed Our Guest. He said:– ‘Lord Goschen will be aware that this Club consists largely, if not entirely, of a contingent of that vast army of the unnumbered and, perhaps, the undisciplined, who are distinguished by the general title of the literary world, and in that character we welcome our illustrious Guest, and could wish to give him his due rank as a commander in our forces. (Applause.) It may easily occur that Lord Goschen has not written or collaborated in quite so many books as some of the friends by whom he is surrounded (unless they are Blue-books or treatises on foreign exchanges); but, nevertheless, we recognise in the mind of our Guest one of the chief faculties by which books are made. Long ago – Viscount Goschen may, perhaps, remember how long – he delivered a very stimulating and suggestive address on the value of imagination, showing that it is one of the most active and healthy forces in life, and without it the world would be a dreary place where everybody would do today exactly what he did yesterday, and no change or progress would be possible. This faculty of imagination is just as necessary to the politician as to the poet, and it can only be from modesty and the fear of magnifying our own office if we hesitate to say that Viscount Goschen’s splendid achievements in Parliament tempt us to call him the novelist among financiers and the romancer among statesmen. (Applause.)

‘In a literal sense, however, as well as a figurative one, Lord Goschen is now a man of letters. He has written, and is just about to publish, a book in which, I understand – I have not yet had the pleasure of reading it – a noble and beautiful account of the life of his famous grandfather, the Leipsig publisher, is combined with the discussion of subjects of great and almost universal interest to the republic of letters. We wish every success to Viscount Goschen’s book. (Applause.) We trust that he may carry into the world of letters the authority which he has also exercised in the world of affairs, and that he may enjoy the happiness of having made an affectionate tribute to his grandfather’s genius with the satisfaction of having left an adequate memorial of his own. (Applause.)

The literary man is not always over-delighted by the incursion of the politician into the field of literature. I do not refer to the statesman-critic. That is a censorious personage of whom the literary man stands in becoming awe. (Laughter.) When he descends into the lower marshes of modern literature from the arid heights of Downing Street or the somnolent alcoves of the House of Lords and tells us of our sins and shortcomings we sometimes think of the proverb about the cobbler and his last, and commend his industry over the Education Act. (Laughter.)

It is the statesman-author the literary man is more troubled about, and perhaps it is natural if the author thinks that the statesman with so many and such enviable opportunities for serving his country, in the making of wars and a one-and-threepenny income-tax, might be content to leave to the humble brotherhood of the pen the privilege of besieging the circulating library. But the incursions of the politician into the field of literature are not so frequent that the man of letters has any serious cause for professional jealousy. Once in fifty years politics produce a novelist like Disraeli, and once in a hundred years a dramatist like Brinsley Sheridan, and then it matters nothing to any of us where he has come from in our joy that a great genius has come.

As for the other literary products of the political world, the occasional causeries of the House of Commons, the sibylline leaves of the House of Lords, we see that in general they are written as the new book of Lord Goschen has been written, out of special knowledge and by special impulse, and are therefore to be welcomed by all. Whether the incursions of the literary man into the field of politics are equally welcome to the politician we must leave it to our Guest to say. I don’t speak of the critic-statesman. That is a personage the politician must love as little as the author loves the statesman-critic. He dogs him in the dailies, he lures him in the leaders, he caricatures him in the comic papers. But use is second nature, and the statesman must be used to the critic-statesman.

It is the author-statesman the politician might be more concerned about. He might naturally think that the author with a constituency already secured – a constituency of readers, having no limit of numbers or of electoral districts, or even qualifications for the franchise – (laughter) – has no need for a constituency of voters; that haying arrested the public ear there can be no particular object in catching the Speaker’s eye; that though the author in Parliament may perhaps do some good, there is much good he may not do, that he may give practical shape to an idea at the loss of other ideas which he will never give any shape to, and that he may render some service to his country at the cost of greater services which he might, perhaps, render to humanity.

No one knows better than the statesman how many men of letters, professors, scholars, and students, who are not fitted by nature for Parliamentary life, are constantly being drawn into it, and are to be seen in the various Parliaments of Europe cooling their heels in corridors, when they might be doing good work in their own world of the study, the laboratory, or the library. But the statesman will, I trust, allow that, if the literary man feels that as a politician he has a certain added authority, a certain opportunity for shaping abstract ideas, he is justified upon entering upon a scene for which nature may not have fitted him too well. And, surely, there can be no course more true and right than that of the man who, coming out of a totally different intellectual atmosphere, and fully aware that the chances of success are limited, nevertheless goes into political life with much to lose and little to gain, except the satisfaction of doing a public duty. Such a man may rarely become a great statesman, but he is already a good citizen, and the Whitefriars Club is happy to remember that it is represented by more than one such member in the House of which our Guest was for so many years a distinguished figure. (Applause.)

But however this may be, there are those of us who think that whether through the medium of Parliament, or of the publishing house, the representatives of politics and literature might some times be brought closer together, and with that thought we men of letters have invited the illustrious statesman who has done us the honour to be our Guest tonight (Applause.) And since the immediate occasion of his presence is his début as an author, I feel myself impelled, as the Friar who has been asked to propose his health, to make so bold with our distinguished Guest as to put him through his catechism or, say, his initiation as a member of our craft, and tell him what he is to expect, and not to expect, in the new world into which he has just been born.

First, my Lord, you are not to expect that your new book will escape criticism, but if it does escape criticism, it will also escape attention, for it is the common opinion of the literary profession that the critic never damns so deeply as when he does not damn at all. (Laughter and applause.) Next, you are not to be so unreasonable as to think that your work will be criticised by persons who know as much of your subject as you do, for if they did why should they trouble to write about anybody else’s book when they might just as well be writing books of their own? (Laughter.) Next, you are not to expect that your critics, who in the nature of things know so much less than you do, should not tell the world they know more – (laughter) – because that is what they are there for, and as a generous author you would not deprive anybody of his living. (Laughter.) Finally, if your book is universally denounced you are not to conclude too rashly that it is necessarily worthless, for why should all the world trouble to sit upon your work if it is not worth sitting upon? (Laughter.) If your book should be popular you must expect to be told that you have pampered the vanity of the public – (laughter) – and if it should be unpopular that you have merely tried to pander to your own. (Laughter.) Like every other sensible author you will, of course, publish your book in the hope of a good circulation, but if it should sell you must be prepared to hear that the public is a donkey, and if it does not sell that you have been one. (Laughter.) I ask your pardon, my Lord, for offering this candid counsel, because you must have learnt it all, and much more, in compiling the memoirs of your ancestor whose great contemporaries and correspondents knew the laws of the human heart so much more thoroughly than ourselves. But if none knew better than Goethe and Schiller how many and how paltry were some of the inevitable conditions of the literary life, none knew so well how great and noble the profession of. letters may be.

It is as true today as ever it was that, apart from critics, or sales, or popularity, literature may be its own exceeding great reward – inspiring, stimulating, uplifting, cheering, and comforting the person. (Applause.) Literature is a profession of which no man in any country or company has ever yet had any reason to be ashamed. (Applause.) Whoever he is, it demands al1 his powers and more than a1l his energy; its best products are among the noblest achievements of the human mind, and with all its disadvantages and drawbacks there is not one of us – however humble his place in the world of letters – who would change his calling for all the glory and all the emoluments of the most distinguished and the most-highly paid profession on earth.

(Applause.)

You come, my Lord, out of the world of reality, while we live – live our professional life at least – in a world of dream. These two worlds, the world of the statesman and the world of shadows born of the brain of the novelist and dramatist, both populous and both eternally busy, exist together at all times. It would be natural if an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer should feel a certain contempt for a population which he could not tax; but you know, and your recent studies must have made you feel it strongly, that the shadow world of the poet may be just as real as the actual world of the politician, that it may last longer, and do as much good. (Applause.)

You know that the world of puppets may help the world of living men to forget for a little while their anxieties and sorrows by carrying them out of themselves and their pitiful circumstances, or by lifting them up to better ideals of life and conduct by means of pictures of man not as he is but as he might be. And you know that this is a wonderful thing which cannot be done by any other agency known to any of us. You may be rich, but you cannot do it with money; you may stand in places, but you cannot do it by power. You can only do it by books, and books are, therefore, for good or for bad, among the mightiest, forces in life. (Applause.) A great book judged by its effect on man and on time, may be an even greater event than a great Act of Parliament, and there is no book so poor but it has taken generations of men to write it; therefore there is none that is absolutely worthless and no author that is quite unnecessary.

Such, at least, my Lord, in our loyalty to our craft (as all of us are in duty bound to be) is our own conviction, and therefore, in offering you this welcome to our ranks, we do so with no false modesty, because we feel that, however humble we are ourselves, we belong to a profession which is glorified by association with the most beloved, the most familiar, the dearest and the noblest of names, and is, therefore, the greatest profession in the world. (Applause.)

Lord Goschen, in responding, said:

Friar Hall Caine has cut out my work for me tonight. (Laughter.) He has given me a difficult task. He has challenged me in many respects. I feel sure, however, that the members of the gracious order of the White Friars, who have extended so cordial a welcome to a rough politician, will be kind enough to listen to me if I take up the challenge which the Friar has thrown down, though, possibly I may be expressing views somewhat different from those of his eloquent speech. I am not so far prepared as he is to admit a divergence between the political and the literary careers. I do not resent, but I welcome with all my heart, the incursion of literary men into our political life. I am not sure that I shall not be able to show that the incursion of politicians into literary life has also some advantages. Indeed, I think the more politicians and literary men can work together, the better it is for maintaining those ideals of life and those higher standards which none more than the members of this Club would wish to see upheld by the nation.

Friar Hall Caine has rather tempted me to venture for a few moments upon the slippery slope of garrulous autobiography. (Laughter and applause.) If I stumble, give me your help, and do not let me slip down to the bottom. I have to confess to you - and I do not wish to convey to you a sense of abnormal priggishness - that I was a literary boy. I was the poet of the family. (Laughter.) I was the poet of a narrow circle,  - let me rather say poetaster, versifier; though, not to be too humble, I must admit that even in my earliest days I had a sense of rhythm, and could not bear a line that did not scan. (Laughter and applause.) Being in that way acclaimed by a narrow circle, when I went to Rugby it was quite natural that I should be fired with literary ambition, and as soon as it was competent for me to do so - when I had been a year in the sixth, and was seventeen - I had the temerity to enter the lists for the prizes for English verse, for English prose, and for the Queen’s medal for an English essay on a historical subject.

These ambitions of my literary period were, I must admit, rewarded, for I won the prize for English verse, I gained the prize for the English essay, and I was second for the historical medal, which I got the next year. (Applause.) The subject of my prize poem was ‘The Celts’ and a certain rhetorical tendency which I possessed at that time enabled me to produce a poem which, many, years later, after my conflicts with Irish members In the House of Commons, I submitted to the judgment of Mr Justin McCarthy; and I was much flattered by the statement that he would wish to keep it. (Laughter.) I am not sure, if the Irish members had read that poem before, the violent antagonism with which I met would have been so pronounced, (Laughter.)

From Rugby I went to Oxford, and, needless to say, I became a candidate for the Newdigate Prize. You know, gentlemen, the kind of thing – rhetoric in rhyme, grandiose, heroic, antithetical, alliterative. The subject was Belshazzar’s Feast. (Much laughter.) It did not suit me. (Laughter.) My powers were not descriptive, but heroic:–

‘Ho! Bring the cups, the golden goblets bring;
A godlike chalice for a godlike king!
Bring forth the cups! ‘Twould be a draught divine –
In Hebrew vessels, Babylonian wine!’

(Much laughter.) Rhetoric in rhyme did not succeed. The prize was not assigned to the composer of these heroic lines. On that occasion there entered into the lists against those who thought they possessed the power of verse, a man who was a real poet. The Newdigate prize has often been won by great men. Keble was a Newdigate winner. In this year there was a poem sent in, gorgeous in its colouring, by a man who possessed a wonderful power of Asiatic gorgeousness.  Its author was a man whom, probably, many of you know, the author of the LightofAsia, Sir Edwin Arnold – (applause), –and when we heard him recite his beautiful poem we felt there was no humiliation in surrendering the prize to one who had real poetic force. (Applause.)

After leaving Oxford I did not have many flirtations with the Muse. I entered upon a life of affairs and of business. If you ask me whether there were any more flirtations, I should say, ‘Never’. ‘What, never?’ ‘Well, hardly ever.’ (Laughter.) Of course there are occasions when a stolen visit to the slopes of Helicon may be permitted, even to a man of affairs. (Laughter.) Some time afterwards I produced a book – a real book – which has been alluded to by Mr Hall Caine, with the forbidding title of The Theory of the Foreign Exchanges. (Laughter and applause.) Well, the book was a great success. It has gone through many editions, but I don’t know that it was literature. It was simply analysis – the application of an Oxford mind to City subjects. I was saturated with Mill, but he did not dominate me. I even analysed his generalisations.

At a later period I attempted another piece of analysis; I analysed those terrible problems connected with local taxation – and if any of you wish to drive yourselves almost to lunacy, undertake to tackle the mysteries of the incidence of taxation, local or imperial. (‘Hear, hear,’ and laughter.) I have acquired, whether I deserve it or not, a certain credit in that department, but here again what I did was to apply a rigid mental separator to all the facts which came before me. It is not an uninteresting thing to ask oneself whether the same powers, the same qualities, the same methods which are employed by politicians and by political economists are applied by literary men to other subjects.

I would like to know whether the novelists who analyse the secrets of the heart and the soul employ the same methods of mental analysis. Differing, perhaps, to a certain extent from Mr Hall Caine, I think the methods and the powers of politicians might also be successful in the walks of literature, and, viceversa, that the processes of literary men might with great advantage be applied to the work of politicians. Mr Hall Caine has resented, in his good-humoured way, the incursions of political men into the realms of literature. Well, there is one class of politicians who have been great offenders in that respect, and those are the Prime Ministers. And let me for a moment stop to analyse. There are politicians who have, become literary, and literary men who have become politicians. There are also those who have started simultaneously, on the literary and the political side.

Now, take our Prime Ministers. Mr Gladstone turned to his Homeric studies, and to many other literary topics. Disraeli, as Mr Hall Caine reminded us, was a great novelist. Lord Rosebery has written admirable books upon Napoleon and Pitt, and I do not think that authors ought really to exclude him from their ranks. Another Prime Minister, Mr Arthur Balfour, has written in a literary spirit on philosophic doubts, also a book which has some literary merit. (‘Hear, hear,’ and laughter.) French Prime Ministers, like M. Waddington and the Due de Broglie, have followed the same course. Ought these men to be rebuked for entering the field of letters? I think they have helped letters, and have shown the public that politicians and statesmen of the day have a wider range than their political or party subjects; that they are able, like other members of the community, to enter the realms of imagination and of history, of study, and of scholarship, to their own great advantage and that of others also. Lord Salisbury – (applause) – has not written but he is essentially literary in his mind, as has been shown in his great gift of coining phrases.

Disraeli also had this gift in a great degree. I remember one of my first experiences in entering the House of Commons was to hear a fine phrase he used. I do not know whether it would strike the literary men of today as it struck me. He was replying to Mr Roebuck, who was a man who held an isolated position. Mr Roebuck attacked Mr Disraeli for having deserted his camp, and Mr Disraeli used this fine phrase in reply ‘The hon. and learned member taunts me with having deserted his camp. I never knew he had a camp. I thought he was a solitary sentry keeping guard over a deserted fortress.’ (Laughter and applause.) I thought that very beautiful and literary. (‘Hear, hear.’) A little time afterwards I had the honour of sitting next to Mr Disraeli at a dinner at Trinity House – he had a Bishop on one side whom he did not like, so he unbent to me, a young politician, and made three epigrams, each of which struck me as very good. I was deeply interested seven years later in finding all three, just as he had used them to me, introduced in Lothair and Endymion. (Laughter.)

The fact is he potted his epigrams. (Laughter.) Let me tell you one of them. He told me, in a dramatic style I wish I could reproduce, that in 1848, or about that time, Count Bismarck, as he was then, had been summoned to Berlin to give Germany a constitution, and was instructed to take London on his way.

At London it was arranged that Bismarck and Disraeli should meet. ‘We met,’  said Disraeli. ‘I said to Count Bismarck, “They have summoned you to Berlin to give them a constitution?” To which Count Bismarck replied “They have summoned me to Berlin to give them a constitution; I intend to give them a country.”‘ On this I observed: ‘Mr Disraeli, that sounds like one of your own epigrams across the table of the House of Commons.’ He replied, but in a very unconvincing voice, ‘Count Bismarck did say so.’ Well, gentlemen, I had an opportunity years afterwards, dining with Count Bismarck, to tell him the story, and I asked him, ‘Did you say that?’ Count Bismarck said to me, but also in an  unconvincing voice – (laughter) – ‘Yes, 1 said so.’ Mr Disraeli was dead at that time. (Much laughter). Well, I had against me two great men, both of whom said it was Count Bismarck who used the words, but for my part, I believe to this day that the phrase was coined in a British mint. (Laughter and applause).

Count Bismarck, however, was perfectly capable of splendid rhetorical phrases; he also was a manufacturer of fine and picturesque epigrams. One of them he used to me with reference to French aggressions in North Africa) which had been proceeding whilst I was Ambassador at Constantinople. ‘Since you passed through here last, Mr Goschen,’ Count Bismarck said, ‘the fiery steed of French policy has been galloping on the sands of Tunis, and heavy galloping ground they found it.’ I think that a very good phrase. All his letters and his reminiscences show that, man of blood and iron as he was, there was the literary feeling in Count Bismarck. He apologised to me for not being acquainted with modern English literature. I am afraid he had not read the many able novels which have been published by authors now living: He said, ‘I know my Shakespeare, and I know my Sheridan, and I think one of the finest scenes in the English language is that in which Charles Surface sells his ancestors, but refuses to part with old Noll.’ It was characteristic of Count Bismarck that that should have been his favourite passage in English literature.

Now, having spoken of politicians who have done something in the way of literature, let me deal for a moment with literary men who have made incursions into politics. One of my first experiences in the Parliament of 1864 or 1865 was to hear the last speech – oration, let me call it – from Bulwer, the great novelist. It was splendid, stately, magnifique, mais n’est pas la politique.. He became a Secretary of State; he made a certain position in political life, but essentially he was not a politician.

Then there was Kinglake, the great historian. In an earlier period he made, I believe, some impression, but when I heard him in the first years I was in the House his fine political rhetoric was without effect. He did not succeed as a politician. Then there was John Stuart Mill, who went from literature into the House of Commons. I remember well the pathetic figure he made when he got up to speak, listened to in a House as rowdy as the present – (laughter), – listened to on account of his great sincerity and absolute conviction, but still an absolute failure. He had not that robustness which seems to be one of the necessary qualities for political work.

There was Professor Fawcett, who succeeded. He was a man of letters and a student, but he had a robustness and virility which told upon the House, and was essentially a success in his day. One other man let me cite, a graceful and polished poet, Richard Monckton Milnes, ‘Dicky’ Milnes, as he was called by his friends. He was a failure in the House, and he was asked the cause. He honestly admitted he had been a failure. A friend said, ‘How is it, Dicky? You are a very clever fellow. How is it you do not get on in the House?’ He said, ‘Well, to tell you the truth, I believe it is because when I am in the middle of my speech I say to myself, “Well, Dicky, how are you getting on?”‘ (Much laughter.) Self-consciousness will not do in political life. Self-consciousness is the snare of the exquisites of culture. Take Matthew Arnold, for instance. If he had brought his majestic sweetness and his incandescent light into the House of Commons, it is certain he would have been a failure, because he was not of that class of literary men who succeed in politics. You want more force, you want more go, and, above all, you want less self-consciousness and sensitiveness than some literary men possess.

Now, for one moment, let me speak of the present. Happily, there are now in the House of Commons literary men who have succeeded by the strength of their intellect, and by the possession of Parliamentary qualities. There are Lecky, Morley, Bryce, Anson, and others, who are not only able to catch the Speaker’s eye, but able to catch the ear of the House of Commons, which is, perhaps, as difficult a task; and so history, scholarship, and law, are acclaimed in the persons of these men, who are all a success. When Birrell was in the House, he represented humour. Morley had his vicissitudes. At the beginning it was a question how far he would succeed, but in the end he conquered his position, and now he is able at the same time to thunder forth party speeches on the platform and to prepare the Life of Mr Gladstone, which will be an epoch-making book when submitted to the public. I should like to hear from some of these gentlemen what they think of the comparative joys and sorrows of literary and political life. Perhaps Friar Gilbert Parker will some day tell us whether he considers the thrill of a successful novel falls short, or is surpassed by the rapture of a successful speech. (Laughter.)

The question as to which conveyed most happiness might be a very interesting psychological subject. I received once some confidences from Mr Morley on the subject. When he had been some months in the House of Commons he said what he missed most was the immediate effect of his work.  When he was a journalist, and edited the Pall Mall Gazette, he knew his articles would appear at once. When he was in the House of Commons as a private member, he might sit night after night, wondering if he would catch the Speaker’s eye. He felt a waste of brain power, because, however elaborately he prepared his speeches, he might never get an opportunity of using them. Well, the journalist has the advantage in that respect, because he knows his work will be before the public next morning; The MP for Blank, who tries to catch the Speaker’s eye, may suffer night after night the agonies of undelivered speeches. (Laughter.)

I have experienced it myself. (Laughter.) It is a most intolerable pain. He endures this impeded parturition without any obstetric publisher who will deliver him – (laughter) – to use a phrase borrowed from your Chairman, which without such sanction I should have shrunk from employing. (Laughter.) And what does this impeded parturition end in? Often in a miscarriage. (Laughter.) The member for Blank at last catches the Speaker’s eye.  ‘Now,’ he says, ‘my hour has come.’ The House is not electrified. (Laughter.) Member after member withdraws to the smoking-room. Still he hopes for a time his oration will appear in the papers next morning. Then comes the awful and mortifying phrase, ‘After a few remarks from the member for Blank….’ (Laughter.)

Do authors ever pass through any similar agonies; are there not similar difficulties and disappointments in their life? Do they ever find a difficulty in catching a publisher’s eye? Or when they have caught it do they sometimes find that the audience of readers – if that is not a bull – disapprove, and that they do not get what they expected? I am afraid that in both these walks of life there are periods of disappointment, of baffled expectations, though often, I trust, of hopes crowned after all. I must lay to heart the catechism applied to me by Mr Hall Caine. A cold shiver runs through me when I think of my own picture of the disappointed expectations of authors, for I, too, am about to become an author, and my obstetric assistant is sitting at my right hand (Mr Murray). But, notwithstanding all the warnings which have fallen from Mr Hall Caine, I shall await the verdict with that patience and with that philosophy with which forty years of public life have necessarily endowed me. Politicians no less than authors are accustomed to disappointment, and, if I may say it in this audience, we are accustomed to criticism. How many critics are not sitting before me at this moment! I will not say I cast myself upon their indulgence – it would scarcely be becoming in me to say so. I cast myself on their impartial judgment.

Let me say, once more, that I believe politicians and literary men can work together for the ennobling of the ideals of life among the people at large. I associate myself with the eloquent words with which Friar Hall Caine finished his speech. He showed how noble was the profession of the author, how lofty the duties he puts before himself. We politicians, notwithstanding party strife, notwithstanding that it seems sometimes as if we diverged from the high ideals which we ought to pursue, often aspire to join with all the pioneers of civilisation, with the literary battalions in their forward march, with all the men who are opening up new vistas of hope for our country. We aspire to associate ourselves with them for the benefit of our country, which literature and politics alike desire to serve. (Applause.)

The toast of ‘Our Club’ was proposed by Friar Anthony Hope, who made playful allusion to the spirit of brotherhood which enabled publisher, author, and critic to sit down harmoniously at its board.

Friar F. Carruthers Gould, in a witty response, added the notable instance of two Scotch literary gentlemen having been known to sit side by side at a Whitefriars dinner without any mischief resulting.

Friar Max Pemberton, in the absence of Friar Richard Whiteing through illness, proposed ‘Our Prior’ in most cordial terms. Everyone knew, he said, that Friar Robert Leighton was one of the most popular members of the Brotherhood. The toast having been drunk with musical honours, the Prior briefly responded. He said the Committee had paid him a great honour in asking him to preside over that gathering, and no one rejoiced more than he in the prosperity of the Whitefriars Club.

A programme of music was rendered during the evening by the St. George’s Glee Singers from His Majesty’s Chapel Royal, Windsor Castle.

The company having adjourned from the Empire Hall to the Alexandra Hall, a very pleasant hour was spent in informal conversation. The proceedings concluded with ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

The Guest list:

The Prior’s ‘second guest is Mr Leonard Huxley, a son of the late Professor Thomas Henry Huxley, of whose biography he is the author. Friar Spurgeon has personally fulfilled his desire to make this a representative literary gathering by bringing as his guest one who would lend distinction to any assemblage of men of letters—Mr Maurice Hewlett, the author of The Forest Lovers, and many other charming works. A second guest of Friar Spurgeon’s is Mr Harry J, Powell, Governor of Dulwich College, and author of the article on ‘Glass’ in the new edition of the EncyclopoediaBritannica. Many of us have much admired Mr Powell’s designs in the Arts and Crafts Exhibition.

The guests of Friar G. H. Perkins are Dr J. Scott Keltie, Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society; Mr C. E. Fagan, Secretary of the Natural History Department of the British Museum ; Mr H. Plowman, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries; and Mr John Bolton, F.R.G.S; Friar J. Farlow Wilson brings with him Mr S. Jennings. Friar Joseph B. Gilder’s guest is Mr C. J. Petherick. Friar John Foster Eraser has brought Mr Emil Ernst. Friar Kenric B. Murray’s guests are Mr John Kendall and Mr Oswald Kendall. Friar Louis H. Falck brings Mr Philip C.- Barry and Mr Arthur N. Polak.

We have with us as the guests of Friar J. B. Pinker two young authors who require no introduction to our Club – Mr H. G, Wells, who has lately been concerning himself with Mankind In The Making, and Mr W. W. Jacobs, who we all hope will bring many MoreCargoes into the harbourage of our treasured bookshelves. Friar Wm. L. Gane has as guest Mr A. J. Bird, of the Estate Duty Office. Friar J. Louis Kight’s guests are Mr W. Pett Ridge, novelist, and Mr T. Skewes Cox, MP for Richmond; We gladly welcome Mr Henry Newbolt, Editor of the MonthlyReview and author of AdmiralsAll, and other stirring patriotic ballads, who comes as the guest of Friar Anthony Hope. Friar Joseph Hocking brings Mr James Bowden, Manager-in-Chief of the Religious Tract Society; Friar Fred. J.  Wilson – Mr Alfred Hance, Manager of the DailyChronicle; Friar W. G. Lacy – Mr R. J. Lister, Librarian to the Board of Trade, Dr McManus, and Mr C. J. Drummond, well-known for his work in connection with the Board of Trade; Friar Fred. J. Cross – Mr A. J. Butler, Professor of Italian at the University College and Editor at the Public Record Office ; author of Dante: His Times and Work, etc. Friar Sir Ernest Clarke’s guest is Mr Arthur Farr Mayhew, ex-Chairman of the London Society of East Anglians.

Friar Wm. Senior has brought Mr Robert B. Marston, publisher and brother angler, and Mr W. Baden-Powell, KC, brother of the defender of Mafeking. The guests of Friar F. A, Atkins are Mr Alfred P. Hedges, Parliamentary Candidate for the Tonbridge Division; Rev. W. J. Dawson, novelist and critic; and Mr E. H. Stout, Manager of the Review of Reviews. Friar R. N. Fairbanks introduces Dr Arthur Bousfield, a neighbour of his host, and Mr Frank S. Andrews, a fellow American. Another American whom we gladly welcome is  General H. Clay Evans, United States Consul-General, who is the guest of Friar Henry J. Brown. Friar Douglas M. Gane’s guest is Mr Charles W. F. Goss, Librarian of the Bishopsgate Institute; under Mr Goss’ management the Institute has come to have one of the best and most up-to-date libraries in the centre of London. Friar Drysdale brings Mr J. B. Atkins, London Editor of the Manchester Guardian, and Mr A. B. Keith, of the Colonial Office, a distinguished Sanskrit scholar and part author of the forthcoming analytical catalogue of the Sanskrit MSS. in the Bodleian Library.

Art, as well as Literature and Scholarship, is represented in Friar Edward Clodd’s guest, Mr W. Holman Hunt, who has immortalised himself as a painter of sacred subjects and conferred lasting benefit by his influence in connection with the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Friar Charles E. Pearce has brought his son, Mr C. L. Pearce, a rising black and white artist – a hopeful son of a popular Friar. Friar Bernard E. Hodgson’s guests are Mr Charles Burney, a collateral descendant of Fanny Burney, and Mr Francis A. Stringer, both authors and editors of works highly valued by the legal profession. Friar C. G. Luzac introduces Mr Walter W. Skeat, MA, son of the well-known Cambridge professor, and author of MalayMagic. Our Vice-Chairman to-night, Friar F. Carruthers Gould, has, as guests, Dr Ginsburg, well-known as an Oriental Scholar, and Mr Richardson Evans, of the Standard, who takes a great interest in suppressing advertisements which disfigure scenery and historic points of view.

We greatly regret that Friar Shorter is himself absent through illness; for this reason we accord a heartier welcome to his guests, Mr Frederick Greenwood, a distinguished journalist, and Mr Alfred Tennyson, grandson of the late poet Laureate. Friar Walter Neef brings E. Clifford, CB, RN, and Mr J. Mackenzie. Friar Max Pemberton’s guest is Mr Greenhough Smith, Editor of the StrandMagazine and the WorldWideMagazine, Friar Richard Whiteing, I am sorry to announce, is absent through illness, but his son, Mr Clifford Whiteing, who expects shortly to return to do further service in West Africa, and Mr C. F, H. Greenwood, who distinguished himself as one of the City Imperial Volunteers in South Africa, are here as his guests.

We have also with us as Friar Algernon Locker’s guest, Mr Spenser Wilkinson, the well-known naval critic, whose writings in the MorningPost are known to all of us. (Loud applause.)