Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Occasional Papers.

Lord Blachford, for so he became on his retirement from the Colonial Office, cannot be said to have quitted entirely public life, as he always, while his strength lasted, acknowledged public claims on his time and industry.  He took his part in two or three laborious Commissions, doing the same kind of valuable yet unseen work which he had done in office, guarding against blunders, or retrieving them, giving direction and purpose to inquiries, suggesting expedients.  But his main employment was now at his own home.  He came late in life to the position of a landed proprietor, and he at once set before himself as his object the endeavour to make his estate as perfect as it could be made—­perfect in the way in which a naturally beautiful country and his own good taste invited him to make it, but beyond all, as perfect as might be, viewed as the dwelling-place of his tenants and the labouring poor.  A keen and admiring student of political economy, his sympathies were always with the poor.  He was always ready to challenge assumptions, such as are often loosely made for the convenience of the well-to-do.  The solicitude which always pursued him was the thought of his cottages, and it was not satisfied till the last had been put in good order.  The same spirit prompted him to allow labourers who could manage the undertaking to rent pasture for a few cows; and the experiment, he thought, had succeeded.  The idea of justice and the general welfare had too strong a hold on his mind to allow him to be sentimental in dealing with the difficult questions connected with land.  But if his labourers found him thoughtful of their comfort his farmers found him a good landlord—­strict where he met with dishonesty and carelessness, but open-minded and reasonable in understanding their points of view, and frank, equitable, and liberal in meeting their wishes.  Disclaiming all experience of country matters, and not minding if he fell into some mistakes, he made his care of his estate a model of the way in which a good man should discharge his duties to the land.

His was one of those natures which have the gift of inspiring confidence in all who come near him; all who had to do with him felt that they could absolutely trust him.  The quality which was at the bottom of his character as a man was his unswerving truthfulness; but upon this was built up a singularly varied combination of elements not often brought together, and seldom in such vigour and activity.  Keen, rapid, penetrating, he was quick in detecting anything that rung hollow in language or feeling; and he did not care to conceal his dislike and contempt.  But no one threw himself with more genuine sympathy into the real interests of other people.  No matter what it was, ethical or political theory, the course of a controversy, the arrangement of a trust-deed, the oddities of a character, the marvels of natural science, he was always ready to go with his companion as far as he chose to go, and to take as much trouble as if the

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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