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1. Life of the first Marquess of Ripon, K.G. By Lucien Wolf. Two vols. Murray, 1921.

2. Private Diaries and Correspondence of Lord Esher.

If it be true that nobody ever wrote a dull autobiography, because the dullest would in spite of themselves say something profoundly interesting, if only by way of explaining how they came to be so dull, this cannot be said of biography. Mr Lytton Strachey has destroyed the palate of the public for the conventional official biography. There are still a few readers and criticsex-Ministers and such people who disagree with Leslie Stephen's dictum that most official biographies are a mixture of bungling and indiscretion; a few who still profoundly reverence the House of Commons tone in literature, who relish mere echoes, and fight shy of impressions at first hand. To them we may commit all full-dress political biographies, in the hope that the story of their own achievement or failure may be recorded with the restraint and taste shown by the biographer of Lord Ripon. Until Mr Lytton Strachey flamed into an amused world, biographies had been, in the main, written by politicians for politicians. Every Prime Minister hopes and expects to have his 'Life recorded in three volumes and published in fine type with a selection of flattering portraits; a subordinate Minister's expectations are limited to two. But the biographer should be chosen from among his followers or acolytes, pledged to correct pose and erase any blemish. That Cromwell should have asked Cooper-or Vol. 237.-No. 471.

some lesser artist-not to shirk the wart on his face, is inconceivable to the 'ministerial breed' that hankers after posthumous fame. The weakness of official biography is its soullessness. There is no difficulty in connecting a prominent politician with the public events which he shaped or which shaped him; but the man himself is apt to remain a lay figure clad in the robes of the Garter or in those of some other high order of chivalry. The book before us does not suffer from these defects.

George, first Marquess of Ripon, 'descended on his mother's side, through the Earls of Buckinghamshire, from Hampden, traced his descent also through the Robinsons and Francis Worsley to Cromwell. He had inherited the facial disfigurement of his great ancestor. He was proud of it, and, although by no means devoid of aristocratic hauteur, he was so humble and lowly of heart that he would have resented eulogy untempered by honest criticism. Ruskin, discoursing on the Stones of Venice, remarked that restored history is of little more value than restored painting or architecture, and that the only history worth reading was written at the time of which it treats. He excepted such volumes of biography as contained letters, memoranda, and journals which had escaped destruction, declaring them to be the unrestored portions of the fabric of a man's life, indispensable to the psychologist and the student; pages that a cynical or sympathetic reader gladly turns to when weary of the mere echoes' with which nine-tenths of an official biography are commonly filled. From these unrestored fragments some scholar, delightful handler of prose and verse, is enabled to contrast the rapid and progressive deterioration in the class that from the time of Pericles acquired ascendancy at Athens, with a similar phase of English public life, when the 'mongers,' as Aristophanes called them, began to take the place at Westminster of the landed classes and the families of ancient culture.

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Lord Ripon was no 'monger'; he belonged to the disappearing class. Born at No. 10, Downing Street, during the transient and embarrassed' occupancy by his father of Walpole's old house, the delicacy of his boyhood as well as his father's prejudices deprived him

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