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REVIEWS OF BOOKS Lord Minto: A ,Memoir. By Jou• B•zcuA•. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons. 1924. Pp. xviii, 352. (21s.) Lorn) M•To has been fortunate in his biographer. Mr. Buchan has broughtto his task an intimate knowledgeof the countrysideand family background, a sympathetic appreciation of the type to which Lord Minto belonged,and a terse,fresh,swingingstyle, of which the following referenceto the Elliots' ancestralScottish Borderland may serve as a brief example: It was a gipsy land, where life could not settle on its lees, sinceany night the thatch might be flaring to heaven,and the plenishingof a farm movingsouthward under the prick of the raiders' spears. There the hand must keep the head,and a tough, watchful race was the consequence, hardy as the black cattle of their hills, tenacious ofa certainrudehonour,loyalto theirleaders, staunchfriends,andmost patient and pestilent foes. The memoir presentsa study of a type as much as of an individual, and a thesis as to the importance of character, as against intellectual brilliance, in public administration. The early chapters set forth the factors that went to the shaping of Gilbert John Elliot: the blood of roving Liddesdale chiefs and of prudent Whiggish lords; childhood in a happy Border home, fishing, swimming, rabbit-hunting, horsesand dogsto master, riding to hounds beginning at the mature age of five; school at Eton, with its sports and its friendships; thf• years at Cambridge, given mainly to harddriving sport, and with that carefully calculated minimum of mental effort required in those days to permit a commonerof Trinity to pull through the seven terms in which a peer's son might take his degree; the two yearsspentat soldieringin the ScotsGuards,whichwasa dull enough affair in the late sixties; and then the "decade of strenuous idleness" in which he gave himself to horses, hunting with "Cat" Richardson in Lincolnshire, and posting to race meetings through the north countryin the serious busin,.,ess of a gentleman jockey. In 187•,, when Lord Melgund, as he was then, was thirty-one, he literally broke his neck riding in the Grand National steeplechase, and his careeras a jockey ended. REVIEWS OF BOOKS Melgund's restlesslongingfor someoutlet led to flying visits to the Paris of the Communeand the Spain of the Carlist war, a glimpse,as a correspondent, of the Russo-Turkish war, and the formation of the Border Mounted Volunteer Corps. Afghanistan and South Africa failed to provide the active service he sought, but in the Egyptian campaignof 1882 under Wolseleyhe found brief scopefor his gallantry and his graspof military operations. In 1883 came a happy marriage with th'eyoungestdaughter of General CharlesGrey, and appointment as military secretary to Lord Lansdowne, newly appointed governorgeneralof Canada. The two yearsspentin Canadawere chieflynotable for an active share in the Riel campaign, and for an offer from Sir John Macdonald of the commandof the North West Mounted Police. The return to Britain in 188'6 found him still seeking an outlet. The hereditary Elliot game of politics did not greatly appeal; to the Eton boy the members of the House of Commonshad seemed "about the noisiestset of old covesI have ever seen", and twenty years later he had termed the Commons "an unpatriotic, disreputable coffeehouse ". Hostility to Gladstone'sIrish policy led him to stand as a Liberal-Unionist in that year, but defeat closedthis path. His Border Rifles, championingo[ the mounted rifleman, landscapegardening at Minto after the successionto the estates and title in 1891, hunting, fishing,filled the next ten years. By 1898 Minto wasthreeyearson the wintry sideof fi[ty, without yet havingfoundhis bent. Then the influence of goodfriendsstarted him on the path of imperial administration. For the next six years he servedasgovernor-general of Canada;and for the five that followed as viceroy o[ India. In Canada, the circumstancesof the time and his own interests made a seriesof military episodesthe outstandingevents in Minto's administration. The reorganizationof the Canadian Militia and the revision of theMilitia Act,thequestion of Canada's particil•ation in the South African War, and the Hutton and Dundonald affairs, are discussedat somelength, without the contributionof many new facts, but froma distinctivepointof view. Mr. Buchannotesthe part played in the last affairs by the personalequation--Hutton...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 64-68
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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