Lady Maxse told me that it was impossible for any one to picture the unutterable dreariness of Heligoland in winter; when little Government House rocked ceaselessly under the fierce gales, and the whole island was drenched in clouds of spindrift; the rain pounding on the window-panes like small-shot, and the howling of the wind drowning all other sounds. She said that they were frequently cut off from the mainland for three weeks on end, without either letters, newspapers, or fresh meat, as the steamers were unable to make the passage. There was nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one to speak to. It must have been a considerable change for any one accustomed to the life of careless, easy-going, glittering Vienna in the old days. Even Sir Fitzhardinge confessed that during the winter gales he had frequently to make his way on all fours from the stairs from the Underland to Government House, to avoid being blown over the cliffs. Lady Maxse hung an extra pair of pink muslin curtains over every window in Government House, to shut out the sight of the wintry sea, but the angry, grey and white rollers of the restless North Sea asserted themselves even through the pink muslin.
I am glad that I saw this wind-swept little rock whilst it was still a scrap of British territory. When my time came for leaving Brunswick, I was genuinely sorry to go. I confess that I liked Germany and the Germans; I had been extremely well treated, and had got used to German ways.
The teaching profession were only then sowing broadcast the seed which was to come to maturity thirty years later. They were moulding the minds of the rising generation to the ideals which find their most candid exponent in Nietzsche. The seed was sown, but had not yet germinated; the greater portion of Germany in 1875 was still un-Prussianised, but effect followed cause, and we all know the rest.
Some London beauties of the “seventies”—Great ladies—The Victorian girl—Votaries of the Gaiety Theatre—Two witty ladies— Two clever girls and mock-Shakespeare—The family who talked Johnsonian English—Old-fashioned tricks of pronunciation— Practical jokes—Lord Charles Beresford and the old Club-member— The shoe-less legislator—Travellers’ palms—The tree that spouted wine—Celyon’s spicy breezes—Some reflections—Decline of public interest in Parliament—Parliamentary giants—Gladstone, John Bright, and Chamberlain—Gladstone’s last speech—His resignation —W.H. Smith—The Assistant Whips—Sir William Hart-Dyke—Weary hours at Westminster—A Pseudo-Ingoldsbean Lay.