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Anecdotes Home

At a parliamentary dinner, Mr. Plunkett was asked if Mr. Hume did
not annoy him by his broad speeches. "No," replied he, "it is the _length_
of the speeches, not their _breadth_, that we complain of in the House."

Henry Lord Falkland having been brought into the House of Commons at a very
early age, a grave senator objected to his youth, remarked that "he did not
look as if he had sown his wild oats." His lordship replied with great
quickness, "Then I am come to the fittest place, where there are so many
old geese to gobble them up."

The Duke of Newcastle, who was at the head of the Treasury, frequently
differed with his colleague in office, Mr. Pitt, the first Earl of Chatham,
though the latter, by his firmness, usually prevailed. A curious scene
occurred at one of their interviews. It had been proposed to send Admiral
Hawke to sea, in pursuit of M. Conflans. The season was unfavourable, and
almost dangerous for a fleet to sail, being the end of the month of
November, and very stormy. Mr. Pitt was at that time confined to his bed by
gout, and was obliged to receive visitors in his chamber, in which he could
not bear to have a fire. The Duke of Newcastle waited upon him one very raw
day, to discuss the affair of the fleet, but scarcely had he entered the
chamber, when shivering with cold, he said, "What, have you no fire?" "No,"
replied Mr. Pitt, "I can never bear a fire when I have the gout." The duke
sat down by the side of the invalid, wrapt up in his cloak, and began to
enter upon the subject of his visit. There was a second bed in the room,
and the duke, unable longer to endure the cold, said, "With your leave,
I'll warm myself in this other bed;" and without taking off his cloak, he
actually got into the bed, and resumed the debate. The duke began to argue
against exposing the fleet to hazard in such weather, and Mr. Pitt was as
determined it should put to sea. "The fleet must absolutely sail," said Mr.
Pitt, accompanying his words with the most expressive gesture. "It is
impossible," said the duke, with equal animation, "it will certainly be
lost." Sir Charles Frederick, of the ordnance department, arrived just at
this time, and finding them both in this laughable posture, had the
greatest difficulty to preserve his gravity, at seeing two ministers of
state deliberating on the affairs of the country in so ludicrous a

"They're all Out."--At the time when the unfortunate ministry, known as
"All the Talents," was ousted in 1807, there stood upon the Earthen Mound
in Edinburgh many caravans of wild beasts belonging to the famous Mr.
Wombwell, around which there clustered a large crowd of idle folks
listening to the dulcet strains of his most harmonious brass band. The news
of the Tory victory was first made known in the parliament house, and, as
can well be believed, the excitement that ensued was intense. Under its
influence that eager and eccentric judge, Lord Hermand, making for his
home, espied a friend among the Wombwell crowd, and shouted aloud in his
glee across the street, "They're out! they're out! they're all out!" In
half a second there was the wildest distribution of the mob--down to
Prince's-street, up the Castle-hill, into the gardens, and up the vennels.
The people picturing the horrors of a tiger-chase did not stop to hear
more, and Hermand found himself, to his amazement, monarch of all he
surveyed, and sole auditor of the last terrified shriek of the band.

Lord Lyndhurst, it is said, tells this story of his surrender of the great
seal in 1846. "When I went to the palace," says his lordship, "I alighted
at the grand staircase; I was received by the sticks gold and silver, and
other officers of the household, who called in sonorous tones from landing
to landing, and apartment to apartment, 'Room for the Lord High Chancellor
of England.' I entered the presence chamber; I gave the seals to her
Majesty; I had the honour of kissing her hand; I left the apartment by
another door and found myself on a back staircase, down which I descended
without any one taking any notice of me, until, as I was looking for my
carriage at the outer door, a lackey bustled up, and with a patronising
air, said, 'Lord Lyndhurst, can I do anything for you?'"

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