Monckton Milnes

Monckton Milnes

Monckton Milnes

Monckton Milnes

Excerpt

This study of the youth and early middle-age of Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton, will be followed by a second book dealing with his life from 1851 until his death in 1885. A third volume containing a selection of hitherto unprinted letters to Lord Houghton from his friends will be published subsequently, since many of the letters are of great intrinsic interest, some of considerable literary merit and all of them illuminate from one angle or another the social life, the literature and the politics-- English, French and German--of Western Europe in Lord Houghton's day.

Monckton Milnes (as his contemporaries usually called him) left no memoirs. In age he amiably resisted the persuasions of his family to write down an account of some of the events and people he had seen. This refusal to apply himself to the exacting task of reminiscence was in keeping with his temperament, for Monckton Milnes was easy-going and not given to harsh concentration. One squat volume, entitled Monographs Social and Personal, published by John Murray's when Lord Houghton was sixty-three (and mainly consisting of reprints of sketches of his contemporaries already published elsewhere) is the only formal comment on his era that he has left behind him. Besides these Monographs, which are written with delicacy and with a certain elaboration, Lord Houghton's printed works comprise five volumes of verse; the famous Life, Letters and Literary Remains of John Keats; a pamphlet on Puseyism, one on Ireland, one on the Events of 1848; some printed speeches; a few essays on social subjects; an introduction to an edition of Peacock; some contributions to the Philobiblon Society's papers; and a handful of articles on literary and political matters scattered through the serious periodicals of that time. Five years after Lord Houghton's death, at Vichy, in August 1885, there appeared in London the official two-volume Life, Letters and Friendships of Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton (Cassell & Co., 1890), by Sir Thomas Wemyss Reid. This comprehensive and scrupulous example of memorial biography records Milnes' development in chronological detail, but it was written before the passing of time had set Lord Houghton into any sort of perspective.

The chief source for Wemyss Reid's volumes and for the present . . .

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