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  • Loulou. Selected Extracts from the Journal of Lewis Harcourt (1880-1895)
  • W.C. Lubenow
Loulou. Selected Extracts from the Journal of Lewis Harcourt (1880-1895). Edited by Patrick Jackson. Madison-Teaneck, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. 2006. vii, 348 pp. £39.95. ISBN 0838641032.

Lewis Harcourt, first Viscount Harcourt (1863-1922) was the eldest son of William Harcourt, home secretary and chancellor of the exchequer. The younger Harcourt had his own political career. He was M.P. for the Rossendale division of Lancashire (1904-16), first commissioner of works in Campbell-Bannerman's cabinet (1905), PC (1905) and secretary of state for the colonies (1910). He was raised to the peerage in 1917. Harcourt's mother, Marie Thérése Lister, died at his birth, and he was educated privately and at Eton, which was another of his deep emotional attachments. Illness prevented his going up to Cambridge and he spent some time abroad. Harcourt was especially attached to his father and subordinated his career, with mixed effects, to his father's. He was asked to stand for Newcastle-under-Lyme in the general elections of 1886 but refused because his father was not willing for him to contest the constituency (28 May 1886). He declined the invitation to stand for Southampton in 1894 (28 March 1894). Harcourt served as his father's private secretary at the home office (1881-5), later at the treasury (1886, 1892-5), and in opposition (1895-1904). During those years Harcourt kept a detailed diary which A.G. Gardiner used in the writing of his standard two-volume biography of Sir William Harcourt. Patrick Jackson, the author of biographies of Forster and Hartington, used them as well in his study of the Harcourts, Harcourt and Son (reviewed in ante, XXV (2006), 290-2). In this volume Jackson presents extracts from these diaries for the years 1881-5, 1886-7, and 1892-5 along with brief introductions to each of these periods and extensive notes identifying the many characters which populate its pages.

Parliamentary politics, of course, are paramount in this diary because Lewis Harcourt was his father's eyes and ears. However, additionally, the diary provides insight into the social environment in which high politicians moved. Sir William [End Page 424] Harcourt married a second time, and Lewis Harcourt was attentive to his step-mother and to his half-brother, taking 'Bobby' on one occasion to Tussaud's (28 June 1882). Harcourt was his half-brother's godfather at Eton chapel when Bobby was confirmed by Stubbs, the bishop of Oxford (17 March 1894).

He was also a man about town, dining with Lady Dalrymple and Miss Grant Suttie at the Bachelor's Club and then going on with them to see the Mikado, which he described as 'a moderately good and beautifully mounted new opera', at the Savoy (11 May 1885). In the midst of the home rule crisis Harcourt and his step-mother went to see Faust at the Lyceum. Iriving was good as Mephistopheles but Ellen Terry was too old for Marguerite (18 March 1886). Harcourt was also a frequent visitor at the great houses: Highbury (Chamberlain's), Chatsworth (Hartington's), and Studley Royal (Ripon's). At Studley Royal he got 53 birds in one drive and nearly 200 in one day of shooting. By his own account, he shot 'very well except towards evening when I had a gun headache' (13 August 1894).

Harcourt was also a man for the clubs and political dinners of London. He was present at the banquet at the National Liberal Club when Ripon returned from India where Sir William gave a speech showing 'that true imperial policy, like that of ancient Rome, was entirely opposed to extending the bounds of the Empire' (25 February 1885). After an election speech, father and son dined at the Reform Club and drank three and a half bottles of claret between them. 'That is what comes of talking local option and temperance' (13 November 1885). He went to the Eighty Club dinner for Hartington at which Hartington spoke 'moderately well' and where the food was atrocious (5 March 1886). He records his blackballing at Brook...


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pp. 424-426
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