Biographical Study of A.W. Kinglake HTML version

Later Days, And Death
For twenty years Kinglake lived in Hyde Park Place, in bright cheerful rooms looking in
one direction across the Park, but on another side into a churchyard. The churchyard,
Lady Gregory tells us, gave him pause on first seeing the rooms. "I should not like to live
here, I should be afraid of ghosts." "Oh no, sir, there is always a policeman round the
corner." {24} "Pleaceman X." has not, perhaps, before been revered as the Shade-
compelling son of Maia:
"Tu pias laetis animas reponis
Sedibus, virgaque levem coerces
Aurea turbam."
Here he worked through the morning; the afternoon took him to the "Travellers," where
his friends, Sir Henry Bunbury and Mr. Chenery, usually expected him; then at eight
o'clock, if not, as Shylock says, bid forth, he went to dine at the Athenaeum. His dinner
seat was in the left-hand corner of the coffee-room, where, in the thirties, Theodore Hook
had been wont to sit, gathering near him so many listeners to his talk, that at Hook's death
in 1841 the receipts for the club dinners fell off to a large amount. Here, in the "Corner,"
as they called it, round Kinglake would be Hayward, Drummond Wolff, Massey,
Oliphant, Edward Twisleton, Strzelecki, Storks, Venables, Wyke, Bunbury, Gregory,
American Ticknor, and a few more; Sir W. Stirling Maxwell, when in Scotland, sending
hampers of pheasants to the company. "Hurried to the Athenaeum for dinner," says
Ticknor in 1857, "and there found Kinglake and Sir Henry Rawlinson, to whom were
soon added Hayward and Stirling. We pushed our tables together and had a jolly dinner. .
. . To the Athenaeum; and having dined pleasantly with Merivale, Kinglake, and Stirling,
I hurried off to the House." In later years, when his voice grew low and his hearing
difficult, he preferred that the diners should resolve themselves into little groups,
assigning to himself a tete-a-tete, with whom at his ease he could unfold himself.
No man ever fought more gallantly the encroachments of old age--on sut etre jeune
jusque dans ses vieux jours. At seventy-four years old, staying with a friend at Brighton,
he insisted on riding over to Rottingdean, where Sir Frederick Pollock was staying. "I
mastered," he said, in answer to remonstrances, "I mastered the peculiarities of the
Brighton screw before you were born, and have never forgotten them." Vaulting into his
saddle he rode off, returning with a schoolboy's delight at the brisk trot he had found
practicable when once clear of the King's Road. Long after his hearing had failed, his
sight become grievously weakened, and his limbs not always trustworthy, he would never
allow a cab to be summoned for him after dinner, always walking to his lodgings. But he
had to give up by and by his daily canter in Rotten Row, and more reluctantly still his
continental travel. Foreign railways were closed to him by the Salle d'Attente; he could
not stand incarceration in the waiting-rooms.
The last time he crossed the Channel was at the close of the Franco-Prussian war, on a
visit to his old friend M. Thiers, then President. It was a dinner to deputies of the Extreme