Life of Sir George Grey: Governor, High commissioner, and Premier. An Historical Biography.
Genius sets, as it rises, in constellations. In 1832 no fewer than four of the dii majores passed away—Scott, Goethe, Bentham, and Cuvier, while three at least of the dii minores—Crabbe, Mackintosh, and Gentz—attended page 210the august shades. In 1859 the great names of Macaulay, the younger Hurnboldt, and Mrs. Browning, of Hallam and De Quincey, were eclipsed. Again, in 1880-2 a still loftier group—Carlyle and Emerson, Lord Beaconsfield and George Eliot—ascended Olympus, with Longfellow and Dante Rossetti to hymn their threnodies. So was it when George Grey was gathered to his fathers. He had been coeval in birth with a band of distinguished men—poets, novelists, scholars, and men of action; he was coeval in death with two of the most illustrious statesmen of the age. Bismarck, the terror of Europe, fell like a mighty tower that had before been rent by an earthquake from base to summit. Gladstone, the standard-bearer of Liberalism throughout the world, fell like a secular oak that had for centuries battled with storms. Even by the side of such giants Grey's departure was not unobserved. They were almost peers in greatness. All alike belonged to the race of nature's kings, and in this respect one was not unworthy of the others. For Gladstone alone can sanctity—such sanctity as is predicable of men of action—be claimed, but Bismarck, though merciless, was true to his own stern conscience even as Cromwell was, and if Grey was savage and vindictive, he was possessed by aims and animated by aspirations that burned to ennoble his kind. Gladstone alone, perhaps, winged his flight to the paradise of a pure fame; Bismarck and Grey will expiate their undoubted offences through a generation of cleansing purgatorial fire. Already have death and a single decade partly wiped the stains from the brow once radiant and a character intrinsically noble.