Pembroke Lodge, the house, was entered by a porch overhung with wistaria; the walls on each side were covered with laburnums and roses; a long trellised arch of white roses led to the south lawn, which was sheltered from the east by holly, lilacs, and a very fine crataegus. From here was one of the loveliest views in the place, for our mother had made a wide opening under the arched bough of a fine elm-tree which stood like a grand old sentinel in the foreground. The bow room on the south side of the house was occupied by our father during his later years. Here stood the statue of Italy given by grateful Italians and the silver statuette given by the ladies of Bedford in recognition of Reform. The West room next the dining-room had been our father’s study during many of his most strenuous years of office. The floor was heaped high with pyramids of despatch-boxes. One day some consternation was caused by our pet jackdaw, who had found his way in and pulled off all the labels, no doubt intending, in mischievous enjoyment, to tear to shreds despatches of European importance.
Above the bow room was our mother’s bedroom; the view from here was exceedingly beautiful, both near and far, and she was never tired of standing at the open window looking at the loveliness around her, and listening to the happy chorus of birds—and to the nightingales answering each other, and singing day and night, apparently never weary of trying to gladden the world with their glorious melody.
It was indeed impossible to have a happier or more perfect home; the freedom, the outdoor life, the games and fun, in which our father and mother joined in their rare moments of leisure; the hours of reading and talk with them on the high and deep things of life—all this, and much more that cannot be expressed, forms a background in the memory of life deeply treasured and ineffaceable.
Although the Russell Ministry had been defeated upon the Militia Bill ("my tit-for-tat with John Russell,” as Palmerston called it), the victors were very unlikely to hold office for long. In spite of Disraeli’s praise of Free Trade during the General Election, a right-about surprising and disconcerting to his colleagues, the returns left the strength of parties much as they had been before. The Conservatives did not lose ground, but they did not gain it; they remained stronger than any other single party, but much weaker than Whigs, Peelites, and Irish combined. When Parliament met it was obvious that they would soon be replaced in office by some kind of coalition. Defeat came on Disraeli’s Budget. The question remained, who could now undertake to amalgamate the various political groups, which, except in Opposition, had shown so little stable cohesion? Since the downfall of the Derby Government had been the work of a temporary alliance between Peelites and Whigs,