Page images
PDF
EPUB

where. Hayward's relations to statesmen and to governments will be correctly indicated if it is said that before passing into action irrevocably, ministers found it occasionally convenient to try the strength of their case before him. When a Liberal Cabinet was preparing to deliberate on any measure, some of its members instinctively liked, before confronting the public, to "talk it over with Hayward." This "private trial," as racing men might call it, was of infinite service to ministers adventuring on new ground; for they learnt what could be effectively said both against their project and for it. If once brought to approve the design, Hayward never failed to become its strong partizan.

It may be convenient here briefly to glance at such stages and aspects of Hayward's life as are necessary for a correct understanding of the place he filled, and his connection with the politics and politicians of his time. He came of a good Wiltshire stock, descending from the Haywards of Hillcot, a family owning landed estates which, along with high moral characters, entitled them to the envied privilege of entering church before all the other parishioners. Hayward was indebted for his baptismal name to an uncle who lived at Taunton, with whom his nephew frequently stayed, and who was much shocked when, on calling on Hayward in his chambers in the Temple, he found him in the company not of a future Lord Chancellor, but of one whom, in an angry letter still extant, he called an adventurer-the future Napoleon III. In point of property his family encountered vicissitudes, sometimes in the downward sometimes in the happy direction. He was educated at Blundell's school at Tiverton, then a West-country Winchester. The discipline was harsh, the diet meagre, and his family believed that the lad's health was permanently injured by the rough life and the scanty fare. On leaving school he went to a private tutor, and learned German. He was articled to a solicitor at Ilchester, who had little business, but an excellent library of the orthodox English classics, on which Hayward feasted at leisure, and acquired much of the varied and profound knowledge of English literature that appears on every page of his writings. Before he was twenty he began to keep his terms in the Temple. His means were at this period exceedingly slender. His chief pleasure, and, as it proved, a most valuable portion of his education, was to attend the debates of the House of Commons, admission to which was then to a large extent gained by favour of the door-keepers, who were entitled to charge halfa-crown, and to whom consequently many of Hayward's spare halfcrowns went. While he was yet a law student he joined the London Debating Society. This event had a great influence on his life, and constituted a turning point in his career. Roebuck was the leader on the Liberal side. Hayward quickly stepped into the place of

VOL. XXXV. N.S.

E E

Conservative chief; and, among all the ardent young members of the society, there was none who pursued the pith of the argument with more closeness than the Blundell scholar. On being called to the Bar, and finding practice slow in coming, he established the Law Magazine, which was devoted largely to the philosophy of jurisprudence, and which brought him into connection with George Cornewall Lewis and John Austin, as well as some of the chief German authorities of the period on legal science. In 1832, Hayward paid a visit to Germany. He did not meet when there, as has been incorrectly said, Goethe, but he made the acquaintance of Savigny the jurist, and the father of the subsequent Prussian Minister. He was also thrown into the society of Tieck, and frequented the salon of the Countess Hahn-Hahn, whose acquaintance and friendship he retained during several years, and with whom he maintained a correspondence even after she had retired into a convent at Mayence. Few Englishmen, indeed, have had a larger personal acquaintance on the Continent. Few knew the character of France and Germany better, or had a juster appreciation and a deeper insight into the spirit of their literature. Hayward's visits

to Paris were frequent; and to the end of his life he seldom crossed the Channel less than once a year. He was on intimate terms with Thiers, Broglie, Dumas, and many others. He introduced more than one French writer for the first time into England. One of his most interesting essays is devoted to Madame Mohl, at whose house he was a frequent guest. When Thiers, in his futile quest for an alliance, visited this country just before the investment of Paris in 1870, the first person whom he saw on his arrival was Hayward. He sounded his old friend as to the possibility of the English Government giving France its support. Hayward at once said the idea was hopeless. Thiers then began to argue his case, and to show that in the interests of the balance of power it was the duty of England to support his country. "My friend," broke in Hayward abruptly, "put all that stuff out of your head. We care for none of these things."

The achievement in literature which firmly laid the foundation of his literary reputation, as the London Debating Society had done of his political and oratorical reputation, was his translation of Faust. Society now commenced to welcome him; and when, in the year following the Reform Bill, a hundred members were added to the Carlton Club, he was included in the list. At the same time he was elected by the committee of the Athenæum, under the operation of Rule 2, providing for the admission of men distinguised in literature or science. Nor was he by any means a briefless barrister. Though a junior, he was entrusted with the lead in the great Lyme Pathway case, which he conducted with extraordinary energy, carrying

everything before him, and bringing his local knowledge, as well as his legal acumen and forensic power, to bear upon his adversaries with an effect that achieved complete victory at every stage. Taking silk in 1845, he seemed "to have the ball at his feet;" but at that very moment he abandoned all thought of "the ball" in order to fight out a battle. He had years before quarrelled with Roebuck, who now excluded Hayward from the Benchers of the Temple, entrance to whose body was an honour that would have come to him in the natural course of things, on his promotion to the dignity of a Queen's Counsel. Hayward engaged in the business of redressing this wrong with characteristic vehemence. He brought the matter before the judges, and so far succeeded that they recommended the Benchers to revoke the decision. The recommendation was not acted upon, and Hayward, in the din of his fight with the Benchers, lost or rather abandoned the opportunity of acquiring a considerable legal practice.

But an eventful, and, as it afterwards proved to be, an auspicious epoch was at hand for him. He entered into the political controversies of 1846 with immense spirit, and throwing over the Protectionists, worked night and day for Peel and his followers. This schism between the Protectionists and the newly-converted freetraders caused angry dissensions in the Carlton Club, and together with his Peelite friends Hayward ceased to frequent it. The Morning Chronicle was next started, Mr. Sidney Herbert putting then and afterwards into the paper £120,000, while the Duke of Newcastle contributed £20,000. In conjunction with his friend George Smythe, afterwards Lord Strangford, Hayward took a very active part as a leader writer, and one of his achievements in this capacity was to finish an article in the House of Lords with his pencil on his knees while Lord Derby was delivering his famous speech on the Navigation Laws, answering the chief arguments of the speaker. In 1852 the first Derby Government was formed, and Hayward addressed a letter to Lord Lansdowne asking him whether there would, in his opinion, be anything dishonourable in a union between the Peelites and the Whigs. The reply, which exists among Hayward's papers, came speedily-to the effect that, so far from Lord Lansdowne's seeing anything dishonourable in such an arrangement, he considered it a political duty. political duty. Hayward's Temple chambers now became the scene of events of great political interest. The formation of a coalition Government was preceded by a dinner in them, at which Lord Lansdowne, Mr. Sidney Herbert, the Duke of Newcastle, and Sir James Graham were among the guests. Hayward himself would probably have gone into the House of Commons but for his disagreement with popular feeling on the question of Maynooth. As it was the Government did not ignore their obligations,

and they resolved to secure him permanent employment under the Crown. Before this, it should be said, Hayward had had some experience of the public service. Shortly after he was called to the Bar he had been appointed a revising barrister in the west of England, and at a later date he had been dispatched to Ireland as one of the Commissioners for the readjustment of the municipal boundaries of Dublin. He brought back with him to England a host of good stories from the other side of St. George's Channel. In 1852 it was arranged that Hayward should have a place, and Lord Aberdeen actually wrote a letter promising him one. The press condemned his contemplated promotion and scented a job. The courage of Ministers waned, Hayward never obtained the merited reward of his services, and the late Mr. Fleming was appointed in his stead. His conduct throughout the whole of this incident was admirable. He showed great magnanimity. He insisted on no claim, he bore no grudge, nor did he solicit place at any later period. Independence in such matters as these was one of the notes of his character.

A single anecdote will suffice to show the quality of the political influence exercised by Hayward, and the degree of political authority he occasionally exercised. In 1864 Palmerston and Russell were both bent on going to war for Denmark. The newspapers applauded their resolution. It gradually became known that some of their colleagues in the Cabinet dissented from this view, and that it was thoroughly unpopular with the rank and file of the Liberal party. When the tide of popular feeling was decisively setting against the war policy, inside and outside the House of Commons, Hayward called at Cambridge House. After some conversation with Lady Palmerston, to whom he represented the realities of the position, Lord Palmerston entered, fresh from a Cabinet, looking unusually tired, and Hayward left. He had scarcely descended the stairs when Palmerston came out of the room, and, leaning over the banisters, exclaimed, "Hayward, Hayward, come back!" The summons was obeyed, and the Minister at once asked what all this meant ? Palmerston was nettled, and with some impatience proceeded to demonstrate the unreasonableness of the antagonism to his own and Russell's policy. Hayward, in his turn, was put upon his mettle, justified his opinion by explaining the structure of the political groups which were forming against the war, said, "Ask Brand," and roundly told him that unless he executed a change of front he would be out in a week. Palmerston rejoined: "I ought to have been told of all this." On the following Monday, Palmerston went down to the House of Commons and announced the right about face.

It will not be denied that the man who exercised such an authority as this with those high in power, merits the epithet remarkable. One

[ocr errors]

of the secrets of Hayward's influence, as with Lord Palmerston, so with Mr. Gladstone, and many more of the public men whom he knew, was his singularly practical mind. Fond of speculation as he might be, Hayward was never dreamy or conjectural in his political judgments. He talked on these matters with authority, and not as the Scribes; as a Cabinet Minister and not as a publicist. Whenever his advice was asked or his opinion declared, he exhibited a sense of responsibility entirely foreign to the political quidnunc. He did not say what he would wish to be done, but what in his view could be done and must be done at once. He dealt with an existing situation, and showed, at every point, the statesman-like instinct which prompted him to avoid barren inquiry into what might have been prevented in the past. He was a man of letters, but he was pre-eminently a man of affairs. In every business, great or small, which he undertook, he was supremely trustworthy. Lady Palmerston and Lady Waldegrave were of those who used habitually to consult him about the composition of their parties, and they both of them paid him the same compliment in very nearly the same words. "You have never brought me an unattractive woman or an undistinguished man," and, unless I mistake, a great lady, now happily living, has awarded him the same grateful praise. Naturally, a councillor who was as deeply in the confidence of these arbitresses of fashion was not unfrequently the object of gentle importunities at the hands of his fair friends. "Beauty parties" existed even in the days when there were no professional beauties, and Hayward received hints now and again that invitation cards would be welcome in particular directions; but the hint was never acted upon unless he considered that the aspirant guest came up to the prescribed standard of good looks and good company. Hayward's relations to women will constitute a very interesting chapter in his history. He won the favour of many ladies of consideration during his earliest years' experience of London society. He was the confidant and counsellor of other ladies than Viscountess Palmerston and the Countess Waldegrave as his life drew to a close. There is nothing which is not graceful, of which both he and they might not have been proud, in his friendship with those ladies whose good looks have familiarised the whole public with their photographs. They recognised in him a man of consummate knowledge and experience, and of no little kindliness. His advice was always trusted by them because it was always disinterested, and so it came to pass that when he was laid to his rest less than a month ago, beauty as well as power followed him to the grave. There is no reason why the fact should not be here recorded that when Mrs. Langtry made her private début, the late Mr. Chenery expressed his relief at discovering that Mr. Hayward possessed a ticket for the performance and was willing to write a notice of it. The critique might not have been a masterpiece, but it

« PreviousContinue »