Death of Mr. Tollemache.
A Boswell of many friends.
We regret to announce the death of the Hon. Lionel Arthur Tollemache, which occurred at Haslemere on January 29, at the age of 80.
The son of the first Lord Tollemache of Helmingham, he was born on May 28, 1838, and his life was remarkable for the persistent triumph of mental and moral qualities over the gravest physical impediments. Although he suffered from extreme short-sight and a continual stammer, and some lameness due to an accident when he was a boy, he became an excellent scholar and a most interesting companion, and was the author of several volumes, in which philosophic discussion alternates with humorous anecdotes. For many years before his death he was completely blind, and when he was at school and at college, and needed to refer to dictionaries and from book to book, knowledge had a much restricted entrance. But his memory answered to the description “quick to receive, stedfast to hold, and prompt to deliver”; and what he could read, and what he heard in lectures of the reading of a friend he remembered. He went to Harrow in 1850, and had for two years the advantage of the excellent training in Latin and Greek scholarship of Dr. Vaughan, which was then helping to the top of the Cambridge Tripos Hawkins, Butler, and Blayds, better known as Calverley. At that time only two scholars were elected in each year by Balliol College, both in classics. Owing to this college having been the first to throw its scholarships open it had acquired a great reputation, and most of the large public schools sent in their best boys for the competition. In 1856 the two scholars elected were R. S. Wright, afterwards a Fellow of Oriel and a Judge, and Tollemache. As an undergraduate at Balliol, Tollemache had the help of James Riddell and Edwin Palmer, afterwards Professor of Latin, and the teaching and companionship of Benjamin Jowett, afterwards Master of the College and Professor of Greek. In 1860 having had permission to dictate his answers to an amanuensis, he was placed in the first class in Literæ Humaniores.
Following the stream, he read for the Bar for a short time, but stammering and increasing blindness formed a hopeless handicap, and after a time he found an outlet in writing for magazines. His first published writing was “Historical Prediction” in the fortnightly in 1868. Other papers followed, chiefly biographical, in the same magazine and in Macmillan and Fraser, together with many letters in the Journal of Education and the Spectator. Most of the essays, with some others, were subsequently republished in two volumes, the division being due to a feat that members of his family, and especially his father, while interested in much which he had written, would dislike a few of his speculations. The latter therefore appeared separately, with the title, “Stones of Stumbling,” while to the larger volume was given the contrasted title of “Safe Studies.” Biographical sketches of Mark Pattison, Jowett, and W. E. Gladstone were published subsequently, and after an interval of 10 years, of which a large part was spent abroad, he put his recollections together, consisting largely of conversations with various well-known or interesting persons whom he had made acquaintance with, under the title “Old and Odd Memories,” followed a few years later by a supplementary collection of anecdotes entitled “Nuts and Chestnuts.”
Tollemache's chief ambition as a writer was to serve as a Boswell to those whom he admired. Among these were his father, who was a fine old English gentleman of the Coke of Norfolk kind. The biographical sketches named above are the most complete, and next to them that of Charles Austin; but his acquaintance extended to most of the more eminent of his contemporaries, and even when the acquaintance was slight he has some good stories to tell, and he tells them remarkably well, and is very skilful in joining one anecdote to another and in happy quotations. Thus most of his books have the supreme merit of being very readable.
In 1870, he had the good fortune to marry a daughter of Lord Egerton of Tatton, who was in full sympathy with his literary work and has herself published translations of Russian stories and a little volume of her Thoughts.” In the latter part of his life, when he was dependent upon conversation and upon being read to, and dictated his letters, and his wife was glad of help in household cares, and the entertainment of their guests, they invited in a succession of younger friends, whom they regarded as nieces and who brightened their lives and were most considerate and helpful to him.