A truce to work. Even adversity has its sweets. After tasks should
come whatever pleases best, the toiler has earned a play-hour. A lover
of pageant, I will now describe what to me is one of the interesting
sights in London, namely a reception at the Foreign Office. The
invitations are issued “by His Majesty and His Ministers,” for
ten-thirty, but before ten o’clock a line of carriages is slowly
wending its way to Whitehall, through Downing Street, into the
courtyard of the Foreign Office.
It is the King’s Birthday, Parliament has risen, all the men of note in
the country are dining at official dinners. They have all donned their
best uniforms, Court dress, decorations, and ribbons, and presently are
making their way up the gaily decorated staircase.
One must own to a feeling of disappointment on driving up, for the
entrance door is meagre and indifferent, and the downstairs cloak-rooms
are not imposing. Nevertheless, the dividing staircase once reached,
all is changed. At its foot is the famous marble statue of the late
Lord Salisbury by Herbert Hampton, the cast for which I had gazed on
so often when my own bust was being modelled. The well is not so large
as in Stafford House, nor so imposing as in Dorchester House, so the
spectators do not stand all round, but on one side only; besides, the
aspect is somewhat contracted. Still, half-way up the Foreign Minister,
with several officials and a sprinkling of ladies, stands and receives.
Those who have the entrée pass up the stairs on his left hand; those
without it pass up on his right.
Masses of flowers festoon the marble balustrade; their scent is heavy
in the air. What a strange crowd it is! Some of the most renowned
men and women in Europe are present. Gorgeous ladies in magnificent
gowns, with sparkling tiaras, are escorted by gentlemen ablaze with
stars and orders. Then come a humble little Labour Member in a blue
serge coat, and his wife in an ill-fitting blouse. At the top of the
stairs the crowd disperses to the Great Hall, where the one and only
picture represents William III. Beyond this is the room used in the
last Administration for Cabinet meetings—for this particular reception
took place in 1907—and where also Sir Edward Grey, the Secretary of
State for Foreign Affairs, had just given his full-dress dinner. Here
refreshments were served, and here also the band of the Grenadier
Guards played during the evening.
Among the visitors were Ambassadors from foreign States, besides
diplomats attached to the various Embassies, with their wives,
Ministers and Ladies of the Legations, Consuls and Consuls-General
of foreign countries, heads of Departments, and Chiefs of Government
Offices; representatives of the Army, Navy, Church, Art, Literature,
The decorations worn by the men certainly improve their appearance
and add to the brilliancy of the scene, but stars own sharp, angular
points, which have a way of scratching bare arms, as the writer knows
to her cost.
About eleven o’clock the strains of “God Save the King” were heard, and
shortly afterwards the Royal Procession was formed, and wended its way
through all the galleries, until it reached the room where supper was
arranged. Young men in official uniform preceded the procession, to
clear the way. Then followed the Prime Minister, with the Princess of
Wales (now Queen Mary), who has the gift of acquiring greater dignity
of manner as years roll on.
The Prince of Wales (now King George V.) came next, and, with that
extraordinary genial gift of recognition, apparently inherited from his
father, he stopped as he passed through the suite of rooms to shake
hands with the people he knew.
All the Ministers and their wives, the Duke of Norfolk, and a host
of other officials followed in his wake. It is the custom for the
gentlemen to bow low and the ladies to curtsey as the procession passes.
By this time there was barely breathing room, for all the official
diners had arrived, and most of the three thousand invitations issued
found a representative in that gay throng. Supper over, the Royal
Procession returned through the State Galleries, and, descending the
staircase, went home shortly after midnight.
Well, well! to think how many people declare they “would not thank you
for such a pretty sight; would rather sit at home with their book, or
smoke at their club; anything rather than see a fashionable gathering,
and be jostled by diplomats and peers.”
“OPENING OF PARLIAMENT.
An Impression of the Peers.
(By a Woman Commoner.)”
Thus my little article was headed in the front page of _The Pall Mall
“A little flutter of excitement passed through me as I opened a
certain envelope one morning, and took out its contents. Just a
little bit of cardboard, but oh, how precious! for it represented a
seat at the opening of Parliament by His Most Gracious Majesty King
Edward VII. ‘Admittance 12 o’clock. Doors close 1.30. Day dress.’
“These were the orders, and, not wishing to miss anything, I
started forth a little after noon, and drove to the Victoria Tower
entrance. I had been there before, when the House was sitting, and
knew those rows of five hundred pegs on which the noble lords hang
their coats and hats, each peg being ornamented with its owner’s
name. By the by, there is a curious rule that no peer standing on
the floor of the Upper House, or moving from one side to another,
may do so with his hat on; and if he rise from his comfortable red
seat with his head covered, he must doff his hat, and not replace
it until he is seated again. Such a strange formality is easily
forgotten, so wise folk leave their hats downstairs.
“There is as great a charm about the interior of the House of Peers
as there is in the building architecturally; the moss-green carpets
and red-covered seats harmonise so well with the fine carvings
and passable pictures. The Robing Room is hung with canvases of
the Tudor period, and there are also some good carvings here,
which made a fitting setting to the day’s proceedings. Never has
there been such a demand for tickets as on this occasion, both
by Members of the Commons to hear the King’s Speech, and Society
generally to get into the Royal Gallery.
“Forty-one guns fired from St. James’s Park announced the arrival
of the Royal party. It was at this point of overpowering excitement
that the heralds first made their appearance. They were gorgeous in
red and blue and gold, ornamented with lions, rose, shamrock, and
thistle, headed by the Rouge Croix and Rouge Dragon, and followed
by the officers of the Lord Chamberlain’s office, Gentlemen of
the Court, and the Ushers. After sundry officials had passed,
the Lord Privy Seal (the Marquis of Salisbury) appeared. He was
looking very, very old, his stoop more noticeable than ever, in
spite of his great height; and he was certainly one of the tallest
men present, with the exception of the magnificent Lifeguardsmen
who lined the staircase. The Prime Minister appeared somewhat
more bald, and the hair at each side of his head seemed longer
and whiter than usual. The Duke of Norfolk, on the other hand,
was looking quite smart, and so was His Grace of Devonshire, who
wore his red robes with white bands round the shoulders with manly
grace. The Duke of Portland, many years their junior, though
getting extremely stout, is still strikingly handsome. Then came
the exciting moment; the Sword of State appeared in view, carried
by the Marquis of Londonderry, followed by the King, on whose
left side walked the Queen. She looked perfectly lovely. Her
carriage, the majestic turn of her head, all denoted the bearing
of a young woman, instead of one on the wrong side of fifty, and a
grandmother. On her chestnut hair she wore a small diamond crown
with a point in front like a Marie Stuart cap, and a long cream
veil of Honiton lace. This was caught under the crown, and hung
down the back, showing to advantage over her red velvet robe, which
was borne by pages. She wore a high black dress, high probably
owing to her recent illness; but the front of the bodice was so
covered with diamonds, arranged in horizontal bands from her deep
diamond collarette, that but little of the bodice was seen. She
bowed most sweetly, and, as she passed, folk murmured, ‘Isn’t she
lovely, and every inch a Queen!’ Her black-gloved hand rested
lightly upon the King’s white one, as he led her through the Royal
Gallery to the House of Peers. She wore large pearls in her ears,
and lengthy chains of pearls round her neck; in fact, she was
literally ablaze with diamonds and pearls.
“The King was looking better than formerly, only a little paler and
thinner. He wore a scarlet uniform, which rather clashed with the
dark red velvet of his robe, but his deep ermine cape with small
black tails broke the discordant tones. The Royal couple bowed
slightly as they moved slowly along, and a deathlike stillness
prevailed after the first blare of trumpets which heralded their
approach, when the doors were first thrown open, and they entered
the gallery. Immediately behind the Queen came the Countess of
Antrim, the Lady of the Bedchamber; the Duchess of Buccleuch,
as Mistress of the Robes; and Lady Alice Stanley, who bears the
strange title ‘Woman of the Bedchamber.’ They were all dressed
in black—their Court dresses cut low—and wore black feathers and
spotted black veils, with diamond pins in the hair.
“One of the chief features of the procession was the Cap of
Maintenance, which was carried immediately before His Majesty
by the Marquis of Winchester. Then came the Duke of Devonshire,
bearing the State Crown, which resembled an extremely large
peer’s crown of red velvet with an ermine border. Then came Gold
Sticks and Silver Sticks, pages and officers in uniform, truly
a magnificent procession, as it wended its way along the Royal
Gallery. The Yeomen of the Guard lined the aisle, and looked
as delightfully picturesque as usual. Now came the moment of
disappointment. These much-prized tickets did not admit us into
the House of Peers to hear the Speech from the Throne. We had to
wait patiently for about a quarter of an hour for the return of the
procession, which—by the by—had been a quarter of an hour late in
starting, and then wend our way down the Royal staircase and out
through the funny little oak door towards home. Wonderful carriages
were waiting below, with hammercloths and wigged coachmen, and all
the glories of nobility. Truly a regal entertainment.
“Now for a growl. That Royal Gallery is all very well, but it was
packed to suffocation, and there were no chairs at all, the three
raised tiers being impossible as seats, when the great crush came.
Would it not be better to issue less tickets, and provide narrow
benches for those present? Two to three hours’ standing for women
not accustomed to it is rather trying, especially when the space
is so crowded that it is hardly possible to breathe. Peeresses
married to commoners were there; peeresses by marriage whose
fathers-in-law are still living; sons who one day will succeed
noble fathers in the House of Lords; they were all there, crowds of
them; that was why the Hall was so full. There were some beautiful
women and handsome men in that Royal Gallery. Only peeresses, who
are the wives of the heads of noble families, were admitted to the
Peeresses’ Gallery itself, and even they could not all find room.
Standing in a crowd is a tedious performance; but a look at the
King and Queen was a grand recompense, and made us all forget our
aching feet and the want of luncheon.”
A tea-party at the House of Commons is another London experience that
to me is always rather amusing. For this one drives to St. Stephen’s
Porch, and, passing up a wide stairway flanked here and there by
ponderous-looking policemen, is accosted at the top of the stairs by
another magnificent guardian of the law, who demands one’s business.
“Tea with Dr. Farquharson,” was my humble reply on one occasion,
whereupon the functionary bowed graciously, and waved me through the
glass doors that led to the central hall.
There is always a hubbub in that particular lobby; at least, I have
never been there when it has not been full of men discussing political
affairs. (Or dare we call it gossiping?) Between four and five o’clock
a small sprinkling of ladies, who have been invited to tea within the
sacred precincts, are dotted here and there. Members are generally very
good at meeting their guests, and on the alert, at the appointed place
and time. It is well this is so, for it would be an awful trial for a
lone woman to stand and wait there long.
Having collected his chickens, the evergreen Member for Aberdeen led us
along the passage opposite our entrance to the Terrace. The way on the
left leads to the House of Commons, that on the right to the House of
Lords. It is all very imposing, as far as the end of the passage, but
having reached that one stumbles down a stone-flagged stairway which
would hardly do credit as the ordinary back-stairs of a private London
house, and would certainly be a poor specimen of the back-stairs of a
country mansion. Foreigners and Americans must be rather surprised at
the cellar-like and tortuous means by which they are led to the famous
river view; for back regions, consisting of kitchens, store-rooms,
pantries, and other like places, have to be passed by the dainty ladies
who trip their way to the Terrace overlooking the Thames.
Having emerged from semi-darkness to the light, all is changed. From
the Terrace there is a magnificent view of St. Thomas’s Hospital
opposite, and the barges and river craft plying between.
Neat maids in black dresses and white caps and aprons serve the
Commons. It is a charming place; still, although shaded from the sun,
wind on the Terrace is not unknown, and the cloths on the little tables
have to be carefully pegged down to keep them in their places. The
entertainment, however pleasant, is not exactly what one would call
smart. Plain white cups and brown earthenware teapots, hunks of cake
on plates, or strawberries and cream, form the fare. There are none of
those dainty little trays and mats, and pretty crockery, to which one
is accustomed at ladies’ clubs or in Bond Street tea-rooms.
At one end of the Terrace, nearest the Bridge, is the Speaker’s
House, and that part of the walk is reserved for Members alone. On a
hot summer afternoon twenty, thirty, or forty men may be seen there
settling important business, or enjoying tea and cigarettes. Then comes
the portion set aside for Members with guests, and there the gaiety
of the dresses—for every woman puts on her best to go to tea at the
House of Commons—is delightful, but mingled with the smart company are
some queer folk. Members are always being asked to entertain their
constituents, and some of the political ladies from the provinces must
be rather a trial to their representatives at Westminster.
We were a funny little party that afternoon. Miss Braddon (Mrs.
Maxwell) sat at the end of the table, then came Sir Gilbert Parker,
myself, Mr. and Mrs. (now Sir Henry and Lady) W. H. Lucy, Sir William
Wedderburn, and Mrs. John Murray.
Since the Radical majority in 1906 the Terrace has become a very
different place. Smart ladies and pretty frocks, well-set-up and
well-groomed men, are not predominant; for Labour Members wear labour
clothes, and smoke pipes, while their families and friends look ill at
ease below those glorious towers of Westminster.
A few days after that House of Commons tea with Dr. Farquharson I
chanced to have tea at the House of Lords with Viscount Templetown.
In this case, one drives up to the Peers’ Entrance, which is rather
farther from Parliament Street, and alights beneath the fine portico,
where officials in gorgeous uniform enquire one’s business, until the
kindly peer, who is waiting in the hall, steps forward to claim his
Passing, as on my visit to the House of Commons, through sundry
cheerless passages and more horrible stone staircases, we stepped out
upon the Terrace, this time at the end furthest from the Speaker’s
House. The only difference in the arrangements is that at the Lords’
teas, waitresses are superseded by waiters wearing gorgeous blue
ribbons and gold badges, so grand, indeed, that an American is said to
have innocently asked if that was the Order of the Garter.
“Yes, my lud,” “No, my lud,” is the answer to every question. The tea
is just the same, the fare is just as frugal, the cups and tray just
as simple as for the House of Commons, but on every chair is painted
“House of Lords.” What would not an American give to possess one of
those chairs, iron-clamped and wooden-rimmed though they be?
The less said about the Ladies’ Gallery the better. I have never
gone there without a feeling of disgust. One might as well be shut
up in a bathing-machine, so foul is the air; or behind the screen of
a cathedral, so little can one see; or in a separate room, so little
can one hear. For many months in 1910 women were forbidden even this
gruesome chamber as a punishment for militant disturbances. When
the rule of banishment was rescinded only relations of members were
admitted. Thus some curious relationships were invented. A story runs
that someone asked a prominent Irishman if he would pass a lady in as
“Certainly,” he replied—but when he saw her, she came from South
Africa, and was black, and so he cooled off.
“But the lady is official, and must get in.”
“All right, I’ll manage it,” replied the genial member, so off he went
to a fellow-Nationalist.
“I say, there is an official’s wife from South Africa wants a seat.
Will you pass her in as your cousin?”
“By all means,” replied his colleague.
Accordingly, the black lady took her seat complacently, and everyone
wondered whose “cousin” she was.
Let me, “in half joke and whole earnest,” as the Irish say, give an
instance of myself as an ordinary woman with certain ideas on politics,
and show how one incident changed my mind on the Tariff. Let us call
the little tale “The Story of a Fur Coat”—only a little story about
my very own fur coat, a Conservative garment which nearly became
In 1905 I was in Mexico. I had crossed the Atlantic in the warmth of
summer, had travelled in tropical heat beneath banana trees in the
South, and was to return to England in time for Christmas Day. I waited
in Mexico City until the last minute, because I wanted to see General
Diaz elected President for the seventh time. Then I remembered my big
sledging coat was in London, and three thousand miles of the Atlantic
had to be crossed in mid-winter, even after traversing as many more
miles by land to reach New York.
I wired for the coat to meet me in New York.
Seven feet of snow lay piled along the sides of the streets of that
city when I arrived, and chunks of ice floated down the Hudson, icicles
hung from the sky-scrapers; everyone shivered out of doors, and baked,
or rather stewed, inside the houses.
“Where is my fur coat?” I asked.
“It has not arrived,” was the answer.
Distressed and surprised, I went off the next day to the Steamship
Office to demand the coat. From White Star to Cunard, from Cunard
to White Star, backwards and forwards I trudged. At last a package
securely sewn up and sealed was found. Was that it?
Really I could not say, as I had never seen the parcel before; but,
as my name was on it, I presumed it was. Would the clerk kindly look
inside and see if it was a blue cloth coat with a fur lining and sable
The clerk regretted, but he dared not open it, and suggested my filling
in a sheet of paper.
“Certainly, I would fill in anything to get my coat.”
So I began. They have a way in America of asking the most irrelevant
questions. Your age?—Parents?—Probable length of sojourn?—What
illnesses have you had?—If you are a cripple?—What languages you
speak?—and generally end up by enquiring of first-class passengers if
they have ever been in prison.
I answered reams of such-like questions, as far as I can remember;
swore to all sorts of queer things, and against “Value” put forty or
fifty pounds, which was what the coat had originally cost.
The clerk took the paper, read it slowly through, appeared to juggle
with figures, and then said calmly:
“The duty will be twenty-three pounds!” ($115.)
“The what?” I exclaimed.
“What duty? It is a very old coat; it has been in Iceland, Lapland,
Russia, and other countries with me, and it is not for sale. It is my
“I quite understand all that,” he replied, “but you said its value was
forty or fifty pounds, and we charge sixty per cent on the value.”
I nearly had a fit. I was sailing next day; I had no twenty-three
pounds in cash to pay with, and I absolutely declined to disburse
He simply refused to disgorge. Deadlock.
Fuming and fretting, I left the office. Every influential friend I had
was appealed to in the next few hours, I maintaining stoutly that every
paper in America should hear of the injustice to my “old clo’,” if I
had to cross the Atlantic without it; and if I died from cold, my death
would be laid at the door of the American custom-house officials.
Finally, the affair was arranged. At seven o’clock next morning a
friend fetched me in that rare commodity—in New York—a cab, and we
drove those weary miles to the docks. My luggage was on the vehicle, my
ticket in my hand. It was not the same dock as I was sailing from at
ten o’clock. More palaver, more signing of documents, more swearing to
the identity of the coat, more showing of frayed edges, to prove the
coveted garment was not new; and the precious thing was at last handed
over. An official helped me into it. Another official mounted on the
box of the cab and drove with me to the next dock; he actually conveyed
me—and the coat—“in bond” to my ship. He saw me up the gangway, and
then—but apparently not till then—did he believe I was not going to
sell the coat, and cheat the United States of a sixty per cent duty.
Up to that time I had been somewhat large in my views, somewhat
of a Free Trader; but after that I realised how impossible it was
for England to stand out practically alone against all the other
protected countries, and that if Free Trade was right, Free Trade must
be universal or not at all. Why should we be the only people to be
When they wanted to take my fur coat from me I also realised I was not
really a Socialist. I did not wish to share it with anyone; and when
they wanted to charge me for my own wares, I felt the injustice of
England allowing tens and tens of thousands of new foreign clothes to
enter our ports unchallenged, while America and other countries charge
half the value of the goods received.
From that moment I believed in Protection, and bade adieu to Free-Trade
notions and Socialistic dreams.
_We_ do the _giving_, while others do the _taking_, and the odds work
As we can’t make the world Free Traders, let us enjoy Protection, like
the rest of the world. Conscription, more practical—and especially
technical—education, and the revival of apprenticeships, would do more
good to England than all the Socialistic tearing to pieces of manners
and customs, strikes, disorganisation, and all the rest of it.
Cabinet Ministers, with their five thousand a year, and Members of
Parliament, with their four hundred pounds, can afford to go on keeping
the pot of discontent boiling—its very seething is what keeps them in
office. Paid agitators are ruining the land.
“From gay to grave” this chapter is headed. Surely no misnomer, for
to pass from teacups on the Terrace of Lords’ and Commons’ Houses,
where women chat and smile, and show off their pretty frocks, to the
atmosphere of solid learning diffused by the _Encyclopædia Britannica_,
its huge staff, its editor, its hundreds of workers, this is a weighty
and serious enough ending.
The _Encyclopædia Britannica_ celebrated its eleventh birthday—I mean
edition—on the 13th December, 1910; and all the great papers (and
the greater Dailies “include the lesser”) took notice of the really
Four dinners had been already given by Mr. Hugh Chisholm, the editor,
to his masculine contributors, but the feminine element being less
numerous, it was thought inadvisable to distribute the women as scanty
plums in four large dough puddings. Therefore the fifth and last of the
series of _Encyclopædia_ dinners given at the Savoy Hotel was dedicated
to celebrating the share taken by women in the colossal work. We sat
down two hundred and fifty, and no more representative attendance of
light and learning was ever brought together. It was a triumph for
both sexes. A splendid gathering of men came to do those women workers
_The Times_ said:
“Perhaps, if looked at rightly and seriously, one of the most
remarkable events in the world of women for many years was the
dinner given on Tuesday last by the Editor of the _Encyclopædia
Britannica_, in celebration of the part taken by women in the
preparation of the 11th edition of that monument of learning. Among
the women present as contributors or guests were the following:—The
Mistress of Girton College and the Principal of Newnham College,
Cambridge, the Principal of Somerville College, Oxford, the
Principal of Bedford College, London, and the heads of many other
women’s colleges; H.M. Principal Lady Inspector of Factories (Miss
A. M. Anderson, M.A.), the Lady Superintendent of the Post Office
Savings Bank (Miss Maria Constance Smith, I.S.O.), Mrs. Fawcett,
Mrs. W. K. Clifford, Lady Strachey, Mrs. Alec Tweedie, Mrs. Sophie
Bryant, D.SC., Mrs. Hertha Ayrton, Mrs. Bedford Fenwick, Mrs.
Wilfrid Meynell, Miss Emily Davies, LL.D., etc. Truly an imposing
list of names, a standing testimony to the value of woman’s brain
power in the work of the humanities and sciences.”
Twelve hundred contributors from all over the world. Among whom only
twenty-seven were women. Is it surprising that I was proud to be
numbered among those lucky few, and to have been one of the four asked
to speak at that great gathering?
_The Morning Post_, after giving the names of the guests present,
added that the wide range of feminine activity, shown in the lives and
work of those ladies present, proved that into the last four decades
women had compressed the work of four centuries. That the interests,
work, and present place in the social scheme of women were entirely
on a level with that of men, this being the strongest testimony of
the enormous advance in civilisation made by all the English-speaking
peoples in the past forty years.
Hurrah! All honour to women! Admiring my sex as I do, here let me
make my boast of them, and give a little list of the leading women
contributors that was kindly furnished me by Miss Janet Hogarth
(head of the female staff of the _Encyclopædia Britannica_). If some
are omitted, I am sorry; for we should make the most of our few chances
of letting the blind, deaf outer world see and hear what women are
doing and have lately done.
_Education._—Mrs. Henry Sidgwick.
_Scholarship._—Mrs. Wilde (Miss A. M. Clay), Mrs. Alison Phillips,
Miss B. Philpotts.
_Science._—Lady Huggins, Miss A. L. Smith, the late Miss Agnes
Clarke, and the late Miss Mary Bateson.
_Travel._—Lady Lugard, Mrs. Alec Tweedie, Miss Gertrude Bell.
_Sociology._—Miss A. Anderson.
_Literature._—Mrs. Meynell, Miss Jessie Weston, Miss Margaret
Bryant, Miss A. Zimmern.
_Church History._—Miss A. Panes, Mrs. O’Neill.
_Medicine._—Mrs. Hennessy and the late Miss Fisher.
Having myself, as usual, refused to speak, I was kindly reproached by
Mr. Chisholm for declining, and told “to be sure to be amusing.”
But stop a moment! _Punch_ was so delightful in his next issue, that it
is to be hoped Toby will not yap at me for lifting the morsel wholesale.
“THE END OF WOMAN
“[Miss Fluffy Frou-Frou’s reply to Miss JANET HOGARTH, who, at a
recent Encyclopædia-Contributors’ Dinner, said the best answer she
had ever heard to the question, ‘What are women put into this world
for?’ was, ‘To keep the men’s heads straight.’]
“WHEN you would settle woman’s place and aim
And duties on this planet,
I, and whole _heaps_ of girls who think the same,
Bid you shut up, Miss JANET!
“Speak for the Few, if speak you must, but _pray_
Don’t speak for _us_, the Many;
_We_ simply _scream_ with mirth at what you say;
_We_ are not taking any.
“Your words, dear JANET, frankly are _si bête_
That all we others spurn them;
_We_ (Heavens!) _we_, ‘to keep the men’s heads straight!’
_We_ who just live to _turn them_!!”
It seems that in the first edition of the _Encyclopædia_, published
in 1798, the editor defined woman as “the female of man. See _Homo_.”
Finally, Miss Hogarth, who began by telling what women had done for the
_Encyclopædia Britannica_, ended by saying what it had given them, viz.
the opportunity, hitherto unequalled, of showing what they could do to
help learning, the chance to demonstrate their rightful place in the
Afterwards Mrs. Fawcett, in an excellent speech, said that the wife of
a working-man (if she did her duty) was the hardest-worked creature on
the face of the globe. Pointing to the successes achieved by women in
various directions, she recalled the remark of a famous Cambridge coach
who reproached his idle students, asking how they would like to be
beaten by a woman. One replied, “I should much prefer it, sir, to being
beaten by a man.”
To end up the notices of this memorable dinner, ever-delightful _Punch_
helps one to leave off with a smile. This is a little scrap stolen—be
quiet, Toby!—from a column of quips and cranks honouring our gathering:
“(_From ‘The Times’ of December 20, 1906._)
“THE series of spritely dinners given by the proprietors of the
_Encyclopædia Britannica_ to the contributors to the eleventh
edition is still in full swing, the two hundred and fiftieth
being held last night. Sir HUGH CHISHOLM took the Chair as usual,
habit having become second nature with him; and he made, for a
nonagenarian, a singularly lucid speech, in which he once again
explained the genesis of the Encyclopædic idea and its progress
through the ages until it reached perfection under his own
fostering care. Sir HUGH, who spoke only for two hours instead of
his customary three, was at times but imperfectly heard by the
Press, but a formidable array of ear-trumpets absorbed his earlier
words at the table.
“Sir THOMAS BEECHAM, Mus.Doc., responding for the toast of the
musical contributors, indulged in some interesting reminiscences of
his early career. In those days, as he reminded his hearers, he was
a paulo-post-Straussian. But it proved only a case of _sauter pour
mieux reculer_, and now he confessed that he found it impossible
to listen with any satisfaction to music later than that of
MENDELSSOHN. After all, melody, simple and unsophisticated, was the
basic factor in music, and an abiding fame could never be built up
on the calculated pursuit of eccentricity.
“Lord GOSSE, who entered and dined in a wheeled chair, remarked
incidentally that he had missed only seven out of the two hundred
and fifty dinners, and then told some diverting if not too novel
anecdotes of his official connection with the Board of Trade and
recited a charming sonnet which he had composed in honour of the
Editor, the two last lines running as follows:
Foe of excess, of anarchy and schism,
I lift my brimming glass to thee, HUGH CHISHOLM.
“Few centenarians can ever have contributed a more exhilarating
addition to an evening’s excitement.
“Dr. HOOPER, late Master of Trinity and ex-Vice-Chancellor of
Cambridge University, expressed his gratification that his _alma
mater_ was indissolubly associated with the great undertaking
which they were once more met to celebrate in convivial conclave.
Cambridge was famous for its ‘Backs,’ and it had put its back into
the _Encyclopædia Britannica_. He hoped that he might be spared to
attend their three hundredth meeting, with Sir HUGH CHISHOLM as
Autocrat of the Dinner-Table.”