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the eminent statesman, as Greville calls him-for whom he grew to have an ever-increasing regard. They were in absolute accord on the subject of parliamentary reform, as Lord Landsdowne always distrusted the tactics of Lord John Russell. Lord Lansdowne was not personally ambitious, or he might have been Prime Minister, but he was a man of statesmanlike mind, of generous instincts, and of princely hospitality. Among the late Lord Sherbrooke's papers was an undated entry in regard to a dinner at Lansdowne House, which may interest men of letters.
'I dined at Lansdowne House with Macaulay and Seward. Seward, with questionable taste, talked of the dearness of English books, and said he could buy Macaulay's History for two dollars in New York, instead of fifty shillings in England. Macaulay said: "A Greenwich schoolmaster wrote to me to complain of the bad grammar and spelling of English Classics, among whom he was good enough to include me. I asked him for instances. He gave a list of fourteen very gross ones. I verified the references and wrote to him that I found no such errors in my book. He replied that he was very sorry, and that the only way he could account for his error was that he used an American edition."
Lord Lansdowne died in 1863, and was succeeded by his eldest son, with whom Lowe was on equally good terms until his death, in 1866.
Robert Lowe used also to meet Macaulay at Holland House, and enjoyed listening to that wonderful, uninterrupted flow of talk which, as Sydney Smith said, only needed the relief of occasional brilliant flashes of silence.' It is always interesting to know what one great talker thinks of another, though it must be admitted they are not always the best judges. No two men could have differed more widely as conversationalists than Lowe and Macaulay; the one was a wit, who could almost at will silence an opponent and set the table in a roar with an epigram. The other was essentially a
holder-forth, one who could talk admirably and at length on any subject under the sun. But Lowe, unlike most wits, could, when he chose, be the most patient of listeners; the habit of attention had grown upon him, as through life he had learnt what was going on in the world more from his ears than his eyes. Having a very great personal regard for Macaulay, and the highest opinion of his attainments, it was always a pleasure to Robert Lowe to meet him in society; though he was fond of repeating the saying that his memory had swamped his mind.'
MINISTER OF HEALTH
WITH AN ESTIMATE OF LORD SHERBROOKE AS A SANITARY REFORMER,
BY SIE JOHN SIMON, K.C.B.
WHEN Lord Palmerston returned to office in June, 1859, after the general election and the defeat of Lord Derby, the newly elected member for Calne became Vice-President of the Council of Education, the Lord President being that affable Whig nobleman, the late Earl Granville. By virtue of this office, Robert Lowe became President of the Board of Health. It has been thought advisable to precede the narrative of Lord Sherbrooke's career and activity as Vice-President of the Council of Education, by Sir John Simon's account of his work at the Board of Health, and by a passing picture of his contemporary social life. The necessity for such an arrangement will be obvious to all who bear in mind that it was in connection with the Education Department per se that Lord Sherbrooke became involved in a momentous conflict with the House of Commons, and although he emerged from it with triumph, it led to his resignation as a member of Lord Palmerston's Government.
I count it among the most fortunate circumstances attendant on my present labours, to have been brought into personal relations with Sir John Simon, who was Medical Officer under the Privy Council from 1858 to 1876. The opinions of a mere layman as to the work achieved by Lord Sherbrooke, as practically our first Minister of Public Health, could have
little value; but I venture to think that the clear and concise statement which Sir John Simon, at a time of much illness and depression, has been kind enough to write for the purposes of this book, will rank among the permanent memorials to the Chief under whom this distinguished man of science found such personal satisfaction in serving. I will only ask the reader's indulgence for a brief while in order to introduce Sir John's statement by a few general remarks bearing on the merely political aspects of this portion of Lord Sherbrooke's official career.
Sir John Simon, it will be observed, has pointed out that in the obituary notices of Lord Sherbrooke, little if any mention was made of his invaluable work as Minister of Health. The reason he assigns, doubtless the true one, is that the official title of the office then held by Robert Lowe was simply Vice-President of the Council of Education. But it may be remembered, especially by some of the older members of the London University, how sharply their then member rated Disraeli for talking in his airy fashion about sanitas sanitatum, omnia sanitas,' as if it were a kind of Tory watchword. Lowe observed that he could not help thinking that instead of sanitas, Disraeli must have meant vanitas. Had Lowe cared to do so, he might have gone on to claim that our modern sanitary official system, and the whole recognition and endowment of the medical science by the State, was purely his own work, achieved in the face of the hostility of Disraeli and his party, and notwithstanding the indifference, or at best lukewarm support, of the Palmerston Government. The facts as related without the slightest political bias in Sir John Simon's well-known work, English Sanitary Institutions, are of the highest political significance merely as an illustration of the strange chances and perturbations of our
1 No public man ever realised more clearly the value of watchwords and phrases. In a partisan biography of Lord Beaconsfield, by Francis Hitchman, this Disraelian phrase is quoted as though it really constituted in itself a great national policy of sanitation.
party system. The question of the initiation of a central medical officership had been bandied about a good deal by the two parties, until at last a Public Health Act was passed, which was practically of no use, as it contained a rider that its chief provisions should last only for a year.
The principal opponent at this time in the House of Commons to any measure of sanitary reform was that not altogether reputable aristocratic Radical, Mr. Thomas Slingsby Duncombe, then member for Finsbury. There can be hardly any doubt that this erratic politician had a genius for electioneering, which made him feared by Ministers and persons in authority. In a footnote of Sir John Simon's great work, there is a graphic sketch of Duncombe, which is only one of a number of admirable political portraits. While Mr. Duncombe was not a man to be taken too seriously in the House, and while, indeed, his just-named contemporary [Charles Greville] regarded him as the greatest "political comedy going," he was often an especial torment to the occupants of the Treasury bench, whose weak cases he would assail, when it suited him, with the warmest indignation of independent membership. At the later times to which my text refers, he was of broken health, and only able to attend the House during the earlier of its hours of business; but he could still attack with vivacity and assurance, had a quick perception of easy openings for attackespecially of such as Finsbury would like him to perceive, and was listened to as a speaker who amused. Throughout the years 1856-9, he would always, if possible, come to the front to oppose anything medical which Government happened to have in hand, and on such occasions he perhaps carried a certain additional prestige as the most notable invalid in the House.'
Slingsby, or Tom' Duncombe, as his intimates called him, seemed to have been altogether too much for any zeal in the direction of sanitary reform which Lord Derby or Mr. Disraeli may have possessed. It was not a question on which Ministers