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LETTER FROM THE REV. WILLIAM ROGERS
THIS letter, from the popular Rector of Bishopsgate, came to hand as the final sheets were being passed for press, and its contents could not, therefore, be incorporated with the text.
Rectory, Bishopsgate: March 1893.
Dear Sir, I esteem it a great compliment that Mr. Goschen should have mentioned me to you as being on old and intimate terms with Mr. Lowe, for to be reputed a friend of so eminent and accomplished a man is a distinction.
When I first went to Oxford, Mr. Lowe was the great 'coach' of the period, and I have heard him say he never worked so hard or felt his work so oppressive as during that time-ten hours a day with pupils.
In after days, though I frequently met him at the houses of Professor Jowett, the Rothschilds, Lord Airlie, and others, I was not brought into intimate relations with him till later, when he did me the honour of consulting me on the subject of popular education. Our intercourse, however, on my part at all events, was always a little strained and reserved; for in his company, so little was he changed, I could never shake off the feeling that he was still the Chief Examiner in the Little-go School, wielding the great power of Pluck, which he exercised with a liberal hand. I remember on one occasion when I was summoned to give evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons, of which he was the chairman, I approached the ordeal with considerable diffidence. He, however, treated me with great consideration and respect. I thanked him afterwards for the manner in which he had conducted the examination, attributing his moderation to his sympathy with me in the question before the Committee. Not at all,' he said; 'I always look upon you as a boy, and I treated you with the delicacy due to your tender years:
Maxima debetur pueris reverentia.'
At the time when the Bill for the amendment of popular education was under consideration, he used frequently to advise with me, as I was supposed to be an expert, having been member of the Royal Commission (Duke of Newcastle's), and having had an oppor
tunity of practically carrying out my views. On one occasion he asked me to come down to his house at Caterham to take luncheon with him and to go afterwards for a walk over the Downs. I went. We had an excellent luncheon and a most agreeable walk, but the wordEducation' was never mentioned.
While on this subject, I remember that on one occasion I had to stand by a friend, an inspector of schools, who was summoned to appear before 'My Lords' to answer for misconduct of which he had been guilty. The charge was that he had kissed some girls on Putney Bridge. My friend pleaded guilty, and all I had to do was to get as good terms for him as I could. The three judges were Lord Granville (President of the Council), Mr. Lowe (Vice-President), and Mr. Lingen (Secretary)-Minos, Rhadamanthus, acus. I begged them to deal with the culprit leniently. There arose a great dispute: one of the judges said he ought to be summarily dismissed, the other two were more merciful, and at last it was arranged that he was to have three months' leave and then disappear. I met Mr. Lowe in the lobby afterwards, and I said, ‘I think you were rather hard upon the poor fellow, for, after all, he has only committed an offence of which we have all of us at some time in our lives been guilty.' He said, 'Yes-it was not the fact that he kissed the girls, but that he was such a fool as to do it on Putney Bridge.'
Some time ago Baroness Burdett-Coutts's Market, upon which she had expended large sums of money, was the lion of the East End. Mr. Lowe proposed paying me a visit in the City, and going afterwards to inspect the market. When we arrived we found magnificent buildings, model lodging-houses, plenty of bricks and mortar, but no life. 'Where is the Fish market?' said Mr. Lowe. And we were shown a Costermonger's Hall, containing a few redherrings and some whelks, and, naturally, no customers. Being of a literary turn of mind, Mr. Lowe wished to see the reading-room. We were introduced to a spacious apartment with a few chairs and a table, upon which reposed a beer-stained copy of Bell's Life, and an old sheepskin-bound Bible, tattered and torn. Any friend of Mr. Lowe's may conceive the sarcastic remarks of the great economist; giving utterance to which, in no measured terms, he retired.
Mr. Lowe, though he was a statesman and a profound scholar, enjoyed most keenly the fun of life. So I am disposed to think he would not be displeased if these trivial episodes found an odd corner in his biography.
A. Patchett Martin, Esq.