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i88                           A  FEW MEMORIES
of those  present  kissed the  bard's hand as he passed them.
It was at a breakfast at his house in Downing Street that I first met Mr. Gladstone, then Prime Minister. As he came across the room with his hands stretched out in greeting, I could not believe that the fine countenance and magnificent eyes were the same I had seen in the numerous photographs and portraits of the eminent statesman. There was a youthfulness in the face and a fire in the eyes that none of them suggested, while the expression was varying and sympathetic. Without an atom of self-consciousness, his simplicity and charm have forced even his political opponents to admit that " he caji be delightful socially." His versatility in conversation was remarkable. He handled every subject with an ease born of deep knowledge. At breakfast I had the pleasure of sitting between him and the late Lord Granville. Mr. Gladstone was speaking amusingly of toys, contrasting the quaint and simple ones of his childhood with the intricate and wonderful playthings of to-day, when, to the horror of all, a loud explosion was heard which seemed to be in the house. Happening at a time when dynamite was being freely used in London,