Chap. XIX.] A " Compton Place " Garden Party. 255
certain Socialist-Radical which called forth the following anonymous letter of comment, published in the Eastbourne Chronicle:—
"Your correspondent, Mr. E. H. R. Brown, should be a very amusing man —quite a Japanese,in fact. By the way, who is he that he should be "receiving letters by almost every post, especially from the rural districts " ? He seems to insinuate that there is great danger that Her Grace of Devonshire will captivate shaky Radicals. Seeing how captivating she is, would there be any wonder if shaky Radicals should fall under her spell ? Perhaps I can tell Mr. Brown some news. Yet he is apparently so well posted up in most political matters that nothing should be news to him. However, be that as it may, a considerable number of his clients (as I suppose I ought to call them) asked to be asked to the Compton Place party! This, of course, is strictly in accordance with precedent. There is no more thorough-going toady than your advanced Democrat. Directly a live lord appears on the horizon the politician who swears that " all men are equal " makes for him in order to " kow-tow " to him, and a live " dook " is an absolutely irresistible " draw."
Mr. Brown seems to have been much perturbed by this garden party, and his inferences are not altogether consistent; indeed, it is not easy to see why he troubled himself about the matter. Perhaps he will be glad to have explanations on some points. Though I went to the party I had no invitation. There came to my house a card announcing that on July 28 the Duchess of Devonshire would be " At Home." It sounded like a bald suggestion of an intended fact, and it was this that induced me to go, having pleasant remembrances of a previous " At Home " to which I went, though the ex-Mayoress did not ask me. There was nothing on the card in the least degree suggesting that the gathering had any political complexion, and I went on that account, having ceased to be a politician, if I ever was one. Even the not unfamiliar letters, R.S.V.P. ("Refuiez s'il vous plait—"Say 'No' if you like") were not there, and their omission—coupled with the fact, that there were words inviting an answer to the Compton Place Estate Office—entirely divested the gathering of all political character and brought it rather within the nature of an advertisement of a proposed sale of land or growing crops or shorthorns— certainly not a political entertainment.
Perhaps, as Mr. Brown has directly raised some political points, I may be allowed to mention what seem to me some really important issues awaiting solution at this moment. I was told that a certain Mr. Lindsay Hogg was present at the party, accompanied by a charming lady who looked an ideal M.P.'s wife, but nobody offered to introduce me to them. Surely this would have been done if they had been there for any political purpose. As regards this Mr. Hogg, if he were there and is a candidate for Parliamentary honours (save the mark!), it remains to be seen whether his principles are sound. I myself belong to the Party of Progress (Mr. Brown's party, if I mistake not), and I will not vote for any man who will not give plenty of pledges and promises to support at least three-fourths of my favourite hobbies.
First and foremost I will not vote for anybody who will not reduce the price of coals to 15s. a ton. Why should I ? Coal is the question of the hour at this moment with the thermometer at 90 degrees in the shade. Hardly less important than this I put the absurd Customs Duty now enforced by a wicked Tory Government on foreign Eau de Cologne. This is really an outrageous impost. I shall require my M.P. to promise a grant from the Treasury for an electric tramway to Beachy Head. He must be willing to abolish vaccination (including, of course, such incidentals as small-pox and typhoid). He must promise to plunder the Church and share its revenues between the Dissenters and the Home for Lost and Starving Cats. To this I attach great importance, as the only remedy for countless evils now afflicting the English body politic. The relief of destitute starving cats by the Poor Law Guardians is one of my particular hobbies, far more important than the relief of bipeds—men and women. Another very important pledge which I shall require from my