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Letters Character Sketches From the House of Commons

Letters Character Sketches From the House of Commons

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Excerpt from Letters Character Sketches From the House of Commons: Home Rule and Other Matters in 1886-1887

During his parliamentary career from 1886 to 1895, my father kept a private journal of an average of four pages for each day in the form of letters addressed to my stepmother; and, at the same time, he drew character sketches of the leading politicians in the House of Commons at the time, and also of any other members who attracted his attention. In this way he produced eleven quarto Ms. volumes, containing some 1, 400 letters, which, he says, in his preface to Life in Parliament, published in 1893, were "not for publication in my lifetime"; and also two Ms. volumes of his own impressions of 176 personages that figured in the House of Commons while he sat in it.

A selection of the letters in the three first volumes, containing the Sessions of 1886 and 1887, and 112 of the character sketches, are now printed with extensive editing, about one-third of the matter in the Mss. being omitted for the following reasons. The letters contain, inter alia, details of purely ephemeral affairs, chiefly of a financial nature, in which my father was much interested from his Indian experience; and as might be expected from their intimate nature, they include many personal details, such as his accounts of his own speeches on matters connected with his constituents and the London School Board, of which he was Vice-Chairman.

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