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Christopher Crayon's Recollections The Life and Times of the late James Ewing Ritchie as told by himself   By: (1820-1898)

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Transcribed from the 1898 James Clarke & Co. edition by David Price, email

[Picture: J. Ewing Ritchie, from a photo by The Parade Studio, Leamington Spa]


The Life and Times of the late JAMES EWING RITCHIE, As told by Himself .

London: JAMES CLARKE & CO., 13 & 14, FLEET STREET.



CHAPTER PAGE I. East Anglia in 1837 3 II. A Life’s Memories 33 III. Village Life 51 IV. Village Sports and Pastimes 65 V. Out on the World 83 VI. At College 95 VII. London Long Ago 105 VIII. My Literary Career 127 IX. Cardiff and the Welsh 151 X. A Great National Movement 171 XI. The Old London Pulpit 185 XII. Memories of Exeter Hall 207 XIII. Men I Have Known 217 XIV. How I Put Up for M.P. 229 XV. How I was Made a Fool Of 241 XVI. Interviewing the President 253 XVII. A Bank Gone 261


In 1837 Lord Melbourne was Prime Minister—the handsomest, the most cultivated, the most courteous gentleman that ever figured in a Royal Court. For his young mistress he had a loyal love, whilst she, young and inexperienced, naturally turned to him as her guide, philosopher and friend. The Whigs were in office, but not in power. The popular excitement that had carried the Reform Bill had died away, and the Ministry had rendered itself especially unpopular by a new Poor Law Bill, a bold, a praiseworthy, a successful attempt to deal with the growing demoralisation of the agricultural population. Lord Melbourne was at that time the only possible Premier. “I have no small talk,” said the Iron Duke, “and Peel has no manners,” and few men had such grace and chivalry as Lord Melbourne, then a childless widower in his manhood’s prime. He swore a good deal, as all fine gentlemen did in the early days of Queen Victoria. One day Mr. Denison, afterwards Lord Ossington, encountered Lord Melbourne as he was about to mount his horse, and called attention to some required modification in the new Poor Law Bill. Lord Melbourne referred him to his brother George. “I have been with him,” was the reply, “but he damned me, and damned the Bill, and damned the paupers.” “Well, damn it, what more could he do?” was the rejoinder. And in East Anglia there was a good deal of swearing among the gentry. I can remember an ancient peer who had been brought up in the Navy, who resided in the Eastern Counties, and who somehow or other had been prevailed upon to attend as chairman at a meeting of the local Bible Society. I have forgotten the greater part of the noble Lord’s speech, but I well remember how his Lordship not a little shocked some of his hearers by finishing up with the remark—that the Bible Society was a damned good Society, and ought to be damned well supported. Another noble Lord, of Norfolk, had some fair daughters, who distinguished themselves in the hunting field, where they had a habit of swearing as terribly as an army in Flanders. In this respect we have changed for the better; ladies never swear now.

In politics bribery and corruption and drunkenness everywhere prevailed... Continue reading book >>

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