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some extent our chance of choice in such a matter as birth. How far a man is to be praised for the possession of marked abilities, practical good sense, and a faculty of seeing things without prejudice, is too deep a matter for us to enter upon here. But however these philosophical questions may find solution, we may say that the position of the hero of the present sketch corresponds exactly with that of the fabled fairy prince. We say it even in these care-burdened days without the slightest fear that we are being intrinsically absurd. An inherited peerage of the most wonderful kingdom of the world, a possession of powers that are at once proven and young, a mastership of the marvellous Aladdiu's lamp of wealth, a marriage of choice, an untarnished good name, an ingenuous nature and a good intent; what more did the story books tell us of the attributes of the prince of romance? The professional statesman lives a troublous life, the business man is apt to murder himself by his business, the new-made nobleman is not quite at his ease for self-consciousness, the man successful by personal effort is weighed down by the seriousness of his early grapple with the world, the brainless potentate or heartless dynastic puppet has his marriage arranged for him, the stupid rich man is obliterated by his wealth ; here is a position untouched by any of these disabilities and yet empowering its holder to exercise at will all the functions that others sell so large an amount of the stock of their lives to obtain. Fully sympathising with the believers in the future of man who say “it doth not yet appear what we shall be," and toil manfully towards their goal, we yet are not blind to the privilege of being a peer to begin with, and especially a young peer, wealthy, free, winning, and with brains; the fairy prince in fact, as we have said.
It is verily a strange position, however, in this world of ours, with something in it that is ever new, and not at all unpleasant even for a poor man to contemplate. If the ingenious communistic calculator should conclude that he would be richer were others not so rich (which conclusion may on the whole be doubted), he will be bound to concede that the kind of riches imagined to be gained must be that of the lowest material possession only. There would be lost that charm and variety without which life would be an aimless and very middling monotony, a piece of perfect machinery in which we should have no object to turn to the right or to the left any more than spindles in a loom. There is a certain kind of jealous, discontented mind to which the ownership by another person of any transferable possession suggests only the covetous thought, Why should it not be taken from him and given to me? This
manner of individual is own brother to the surly pauper that will beg and snarl rather than work and be cheerful. He can never know how large and difficult a position is that of the worthy possessor of wealth. When the knowledge is gained, as it always must be, by the millionaire, that the more lavish his charity to individuals, the more paupers he is likely to produce, that the first gift often proves so demoralising as to ruin the individual supposed to be benefited, and that much of what he is asked to support is but brilliant baselessness; he realises what a terrible position is his, and we must confess it, turns often to a lower standard of life, and makes himself blind and callous to all distress alike. If the rich man had the mind of a whole Charity Organisation Society, he might indeed benefit his kind, but his ministry would become almost the work of his life.
How to reconcile the one fact that the doors of sympathy should never be closed (and not only for others' sake but for the giver's own) with the other facts that doles demoralise, and that importunity and merit rarely co-exist, is the rich man's problem. The beggars come loquacious and importunate; the angels who really ought to be attended to have a way of coming unobtrusively and unawares.
We are doing little justice to the subject of our sketch to spend so much time in talk, but we cannot forbear from speculating upon what a man of large wealth could do, if he had the mind, to benefit his species at the present day. It is a fairy-like subject. The inhabitants of huge cities suffer now from air vitiated by smoke clouds which, under certain conditions of the air currents, hang overhead and produce fogs, leading to depression and discomfort of all who would be bright and joyful, or who have work to do. House-builders will not move to provide appliances for smoke consumption, because they are ignorant, because it is not fashionable to do so, and does not pay. The laws of supply and demand left to themselves do not always produce what is best; the fairy prince has power to transcend them; he may build hygienic houses after wise unconventional plans (there would be no lack of scientific brains at his service), and furnish each block with an engineroom containing an obedient slave able to absorb the smoke of the whole row, and convert it into use; the same engine will feed the wires of a set of electric lights for each house and for the street; help the laundress of the district, and perform any other odd jobs as bidden. If this were carried out through the agency of practical theorists, it would be a success, and the fashion once set, the crasser folk would be shamed into gradual following. That valuable properties, as well as valuable lives suffer from smoky, corrosive air is an ascertained fact; ordinary business men seem unable to inaugurate improvements to benefit others; we need our fairy princes with their larger motives to set the example, and shew that improvements pay. To think of a London without smoke! “O what would poor Paris do then ?” She would hide her diminished head before her great rival's beauty. But is it an impossible dream to make a sweet city in this most mechanical age? or would it be an ignoble ambition to be the first to try to make London Ruskinesque, and so brighten the lives of its inhabitants, and gladden the national character? These be dreams, but we are still in fairy-land. Would it be an idle, visionary exploit to pull down a London “rookery,” and fill the ground with cottages and a garden ? Why, the lady who will be the Countess of Rosebery before the proofs of this paper are corrected bought up a whole tumbledown village and rebuilt it with model cottages, schools, and workmen's clubs. It is true that the new cottages in a town would be competed for by higher classes than those for which they were intended, as was found recently by an enterprising builder who constructed a series of flats for artisans, and found the professional classes putting down their names for them months before they were ready. It is true, moreover, that the true hovel-dweller will begin residence by blackening the walls of a new habitation that offends him by a too cleanly whiteness ; but surely at least houses can be so constructed as to do away with the reproach that in this mighty London there are human dwellings where children can see no sun, and where the air of that which is called home is so bad, and the very walls so impure, that, as medical men say, those who sleep therein awake with a nasty taste in the mouth that makes food nauseous, and gin the sole desire.
A noteworthy writer says :-“ Among things to come is an answer to the question, What is the calling of wealth, and of great wealth, in the commonwealth? Wealth here is neither a doctor, nor a lawyer, nor a clergyman, nor a soldier, nor a tradesman, nor a writer. It is a totally indeterminate calling; an unconstituted profession. Its determination is the point to be settled. It is a dukedom; a chieftainship. Being a dukedom, it has a principality attached to it. Its revenues belong there. What is that principality? It can be no other than a subjacent society.
When we consider the matter closely, the charity that consists in doing the duties of one's calling in the world, sincerely justly, and faithfully, leaves nothing outside it in the way of good works." These are wholesome words; the reason why we refer to them here is that a disposition has been shewn to act out their spirit, and we may couple the words with the names of the betrothed pair whose aspirations have suggested them to us.
Another fairy prince work over which we may amuse ourselves by dwelling a moment while we are on the subject of fairy princes and princesses, might be to re-organise literary society, which, since Holland House, has had no home in the busiest "Phrontisterion" of the world. We mean by literary society those who think and write, as opposed to those who merely scribble. To gather this disbanded army into any harmonious oneness would be to add a strength to every man in it, and might possibly lead on to a renewed vigour of the general life. The so oft forgotten motto of “plain living and high thinking " might be written up for certain ideal evenings, and if strictly followed would be a relief to all concerned, and a novel feature that would find a ready sympathy from all who are a little tired of life, as so often arranged, with its heavy side uppermost. Or to take another field, science, so excellent a pursuit on every ground, might be brought within the reach of all, and a Technical University founded that would enable the British workman once again to win his way against the world.
Of the Earl of Rosebery it cannot, we imagine, be said, in Wordsworth's lines, that
A primrose on the river's brim
And nothing more. For a primrose is his heraldic crest and gives him his family name. The surname is derived from the Primrose lands in Fife, while Rosebery is believed to come originally from Rosebery Topping in Yorkshire, whence an heiress was won by the first lord, who thus commemorated the happy field of his love by making it the ground of his title. There is a second Rosebery now, near Edinburgh. The name was originally spelled, as now, with one “r” (beria is AngloSaxon) but is found in early usage, Roseberry, from which it has now long ago reverted to its original form. The founder of the family was Duncan Primrose, burgess of Culross in Perthshire in the time of Queen Mary. He appears to have educated one son to be “archichirurgus regius," the other to be " mineralium clericus."
Archibald Primrose, first Earl of Rosebery, was of the Scottish peerage, and son of the first baronet, who received that title from Charles the Second, having been knighted by Charles the First some little time after a battle in which he was taken prisoner; he was afterwards a Lord of Session, a man both astute and conscientious. The first Earl of Rosebery owned a library, rather a considerable one for his day, containing many a good historian, philosopher, theologian, and classic ; and amongst other works may be found there the treatise, with editions dated 1636 and 1646 (on that favourite Scottish subject, the Sabbath), of his cousin, Gilbert Primrose, minister of the French church in London, chaplain to James the First, D.D. of Oxford by Royal mandamus, and Canon of Windsor ; also certain medical works from the pen of the father of that divine who was physician to James the First, practised in Paris, and afterwards settled in Yorkshire.
The “noble lady, Diana Primrose," who wrote a poetic memorial of Queen Elizabeth in 1630, and in the preface thereto is addressed by a friendly hand as
The Prime-Rose of the muses nine,
was presumably of the same family.
Alas, her verse is not generally known for so conspicuous a position among the sacred nine, but it is by no means without grit or vigour. Here is the picture of Elizabeth's proposed Spanish alliance :
Yea Spanish Philip, Husband to her Sister,
Should license it, Shee held it but a Gull. The Earls of Rosebery were for generations men who quietly and faithfully fulfilled the duties of their position in Scotland. The first Earl was for fifteen years Provost of the Royal Burgh of Queensferry, his son occupied the same civic chair, and later descendants maintained the old connection. When the burgesses, in 1872, presented the freedom to the present Earl, they brought out the ancient minute books of the burgh, and shewed him the signatures of his forefathers, cordially cherishing the memory of their kindness and liberality.
Earl Rosebery's political opinions, which are decidedly radical, have been said to have been derived by an original kind of gradation from “his grandfather, who was a Conservative, and his father, who was a Peelite." The Duke of Wellington, we will undertake to say, did not regard that grandparent as Conservative, seeing that he was the political manager for Earl Grey,