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BECONSFIELD'S OLD AGE., Issue 8006, 7 September 1889, Supplement
BECONSFIELD'S OLD AGE.
INTERESTING REMINISCENCES. Dr Kidd, who attended Lord Beaconsfield in his last illness, gives some very interesting reminiscences of his noble patient in the ' Nineteenth Century ' for July. We here give some extracts from the article : HIS REFUSAL TO TAKE EXERCISE. The greatest difficulty was to get the patient to take exercise. "My grandfather," he said to me, " lived to be ninety years; he took much open-air exercise. My father lived to eighty, yet he never took any." Lord Beaconsfield tried to steer a middle course, but the utmost he could be persuaded to take was a short walk two or three times a week if Lord Rowton or some other pleasant friend called to accompany him, otherwise he easily found an excuse for not going out. His slow pace in walking prevented him from getting much benefit from it. HIS COURTESY TO LADIES. The character of Lord Beaconsfield was most singular. To those without his manner was that of reserve and coldness, with a proud expression of power and lofty aim. But to the charmed inner circle of his friends there was a bright genial glow of kindness shown, which made all feel at ease. At first a luanner apparently cold and distant, but directly you struck the chord of sympathy most cordial and responsive. In the company of ladies his face became most animated. All the activity of his mind became freshened into new life, and he spared neither time nor trouble to interest them. An old lady, Mrs De Burgh, hearing cf his asthma, sent him a pot of Stockholm tar, with a note advising him to expose it in his bedroom at night. It proved helpful. An ordinary Prime Minister in full work might have writtenan autographic note of thanks. Lord Beaconsfield found time to visit her in Eccleston square to thank her for her kind present, much to her delight. BEACONSFIELD AND BISMARCK. As the time of the Berlin Conference drew near, Lord Rowton, his dearest and best friend, urged that I should accompany him to Berlin. Lord Beaconsfield was unwilling, satisfied with my promise to be in readiness to start at once for Berlin if telegraphed for. At Berlin his health was suddenly disturbed by a severe chill. An urgent telegram summoned me there. I found him suffering from a fresh attack of congestion of the kidneys and liver, but was enabled to afford prompt relief, and he recovered his usual vigor of mind and body, and got through the work of the Congress with ease. I remained with him till the Treaty of Berlin was completed and returned with him as far as Calais. Three or four days before the treaty was signed, I was sitting with him in his private room, when Prince Bismarck was announced. He walked into the room, giving his hat to the servant. After being introduced to the prince, I retired, and found the servants outside the door trying on Prince Bismarck's hat. "Why," said one of them, "the hat is almost big enough to take our two heads into it." The day after Lord Beaconsfield said to me: "I can tell you to-day the object of Bismarck's visit yesterday, as it is no longer a secret. The Congress was on the point of coming to an untimely end that morning, as I absolutely refused one of the Russian Plenipotentiary's conditions, and I left the Congress room saying I should have to return to London at once to concert other measures. Bismarck beard of this and rushed off to the Russian Ambassador, persuaded him to withdraw the point, and then called to stop my return to London." DEATH FOR A DINNER PARTY. In the spring of ISBI he felt the cold most keenly, and seldom went out for a walk, his only exercise, iet he could not deny himself the pleasure of going into society in the evening. He thought that with fur coats and shut carriage he might risk it. But on one of the worst nights in March he went put to dinner, and returning home was caught for a minute by the deadly blast of the north-east wind laden with sleet. Bronchitis developed the next morning with distressing asthma, loss of appetit 3, fever, and congestion of the kidneys. Asthma is a most peculiar disease. It comes on often in the most healthy places, and vanishes in the crowded, close streets of the town. In the lowlying Downing street near the Thames he had much less asthma than in Curzon street, where his bedroom was a small, stuffy one, with fluffy paper and old-fashioned curtains. From the first asthma followed him in Curzon street. CALLERS AT CURZON STREET. During one of our eleven o'clock settlings of the bulletin His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, fresh home from the funeral of the murdered Czar, came in upon us, asking anxiously as to the progress of our illustrious patient. Among the many distinguished callers Mr Gladstone walked in and inquired most feelingly after his old opponent. We, the doctors, had a hard time in reading the many hundreds of letters, telegrams, and postcards with suggestions for infallible cure. One card to Lord Beaconsfield delighted him much ; it was—
Don't dio yet; we can't do without you. (Signed) A British Workman. THE BEST BOOKS FOR DINNER BEADING.
Dr Kidd was visiting his patient at Hughenden, when Lord Beaeonsfield one evening took out a rare old copy of Virgil, and opened up its treasures till I began to share his enthusiasm. " Dining here often alone," he said to me, " I have an understanding with my cook that there is to be ten minutes' interval between one course and the next. That ten minutes I invariably devote to reading one of the great authors of antiquity; and I can say that for many years I have listened to many of the greatest wits and orators of the age, but I have derived more pleasure from Homer, Virgil, and Horace than from all the living celebrities I have met in my life." It would be interesting to know (says the ' Pall Mall Gazette') how many other distinguished men follow Lord Beaconsfield's recipe, and what authors they thus invite to their dinner table. It is said, indeed, that reading at meals is a bad thing, as interfering with digestion. But is this really so ? At any rate it prevents you bolting your food. Indeed, for all we know, it may have been the company of Homer, Virgil, and Dante that taught Mr Gladstone his great secret of thirty-six (or was it forty ?) bites as the sovereign rule of health ? BIS FAVOBITE COLLEAGUE. Lord Beaconsfield's love and regard for Earl Cairns were unbounded. One day during his illness Lord Beaeonsfield said to me " I want specially to see Lord Cairnß. He is admirable in council; I want to explain my views to him." After spending
upwards of an hour with Lord Beaconsfield, Lord Cairns ■ came out and said to me £ " With so near a prospect of death, can yoo not get Canon Fleming to visit him ? He i» specially the one Lord Beaconsfield would listen to on matters concerning the soul and eternity." Obstacles were put in the way, and_ the opportunity was lost. To myself, sitting on his bed at night, he spoke twice on spiritual subjects, in a manner indicating his appreciation of the work of Christ and of the Redemption. At Hughenden he was a diligent attendant at the Communion service, and when in London at Whitehall Chapel, THE BNl>. During his last illness there was no pain nor acute suffering, but at times much distress and weariness, all of which he bore with the most exemplary patience and endurance. To all those around him he showed the greatest kindness and consideration. At midnight there was a visible change for the worse, and the heaviness gradually passed into the calm sleep of death. Lord Rowton remained up all night with Dr Mitchell Bruce and myself. At one o'clock we summoned Dr Qaain, Lord Barrington, and Sir Philip Rose to witness the end. Lord Barrington was the first to arrive, and at once joined Lord Rowton iu a loving clasping of Lord Beaconsfield's right hand ; his left hand was laid in mine. Soon afterwards Dr Quain arrived. It touched us all deeply to see the dying statesman rise up in the bed and lean forward in the way he used to do when rising to reply in debate; his lips moved, but no sound came. He fell back on the pillows, and in about ten minutes, without suffering or distress, his spirit passed away.
BECONSFIELD'S OLD AGE., Issue 8006, 7 September 1889, Supplement
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