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MULTORUM MANIBUS GRANDE LEVATUR ONUS," Ovid.
THE EIGHTH GENERAL MEETING
Wiltshire Archæological and Natural History Society,
HELD AT SHAFTESBURY, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd August,
PRESIDENT OF THE MZETING,
The Rr. Hon. T. H. S. SOTHERON ESTCOURT, M.P., D.C.L.
XSWING to the convenient vicinity of the Town to that part
of the County of Wilts which the Archæological Society proposed to visit this year, its Annual Meeting was held at Shaftesbury in Dorsetshire. The 7th August had been originally fixed, but in consequence of the death of Lord Herbert of Lea, a postponement became necessary. Though this alteration disturbed in some degree arrangements which had been made, the attendance was nevertheless good, and the Meeting a successful one.
The Rt. Hon. MR. SOTHERON ESTCOURT, having taken the chair in the Market House at one o'clock, said that his first duty as President on that occasion was to give to every one a hearty welcome, and to express his regret that they had been compelled to postpone the meeting for a fortnight in consequence of the lamented death of Lord Herbert. This postponement was to be regretted, in consequence of many houses in the town and neighbourhood having been filled with visitors who would have attended the meeting. He was
sure, however, that no person present would be inclined to find fault with the arrangement, because the death of Lord Herbert pressed too heavily on the minds and hearts of all who lived in the neighbourhood of Wilton to enable them to come to Shaftesbury and take part in the ordinary business of the Association. He felt that he could not let this occasion pass without a few remarks on the sad cause which had occasioned that adjournment. He believed, that within his own recollection, no event had occurred in England which had called forth with so unanimous a voice such an unmistakeable proof of national sympathy as the withdrawal from among us of that good and excellent man. They had no doubt read the comments in the publications of the day, which had vied with each other in pointing out particular parts of his extraordinary and admirable career. He might appeal to all present whether the tone of those remarks in pointing out the excellence of character of the late Lord Herbert, was not the same in all the publications; and although the expressions of respect and esteem might vary, the spirit of the remarks was the same.
When we consider the manner in which a man like Pitt was early cut off in the midst of a useful public career, we cannot but feel some amount of regret; and when, as in the case of the late Duke of Wellington, we see a man of great age taken from us who has reached the highest honours of the State, our regret is somewhat diminished; but in the case of Lord Herbert, who was so universally beloved by his family and friends, so respected by all who knew him, and so honoured by the kingdom at large, it is impossible not to feel the deepest cause for sorrow at the termination of his useful and remarkable career. Those, however, who were present on this occasion felt that the death of Lord Herbert was more than a public loss. They knew him as the President of the Wiltshire Archæological Association, and he, (the Chairman) felt that he was now addressing an audience made up of neighbours who knew him personally. He had known Lord Herbert for thirty years as a personal friend. He well recollected the first time when he saw him, a boy of eight or nine years of age, with his graceful form, his expressive eyes, and his elegant bearing. He watched his career at Harrow and at Oriel College. He recollected, also, when Lord Herbert first came forward to take a part in public life, that he expressed his earnest desire to make himself useful to his country and his fellow men. He possessed the advantages of birth and family; he inherited a noble, an historic name; he had ample means, a charming presence, most graceful manners ; and all these good gifts, from the earliest period of his life, he devoted to the service of his country. In his (the Chairman's) earlier days it is true that many modes of improvement were suggested, but he trusted they would permit him to say that thirty years ago the task of improvement was more difficult than it is now. There were, however, no methods of improvement, no plans for the benefit of the country, for the promotion of the welfare of the Church, for the enlightenment of his fellow men, and for the spread of education-there was nothing of a good and philanthropic character to which Lord Herbert did not lend a helping hand. In all these matters his only thought was how he could best discharge his duties to God and man. Besides what he had done for the churches and schools in this county, they all knew what a glorious Church he had erected as it were at his own door, in place of the one that bad gone to decay; and last year he was present at the opening of a Church at Bemerton, in memory of the good George Herbert, to the erection of which he had contributed most liberally. Besides those charities that were kņown, much more was done in a secret manner, and in the purest spirit, without being known or appreciated by the world. As an old acquaintance he (Mr. Estcourt) could personally testify to the individual character of Lord Herbert. He did not believe there ever existed more refined and charming society, or a more truly Christian family, than that which he had met at Wilton House. The venerable Countess—his mother, was then the centre of a family circle, every member of wbich vied in their attention to her. It was impossible to conceive a more charming circle, impossible to witness a more attractive spectacle than was there present, with all the play of fascinating conversation, and with all that was pleasing and agreeable in manners. And when a wife and children were added to this charming and refined society, to the last there remained the same excellent spirit and the same graceful manner. After reverting to the intimacy which had for many years existed between Lord Herbert and himself, both in public and private, he could not help observing that he considered him to have been the most perfect model of a Christian and a gentleman it had ever been his good fortune to meet with. He would now make a remark which he trusted would not be considered inappropriate on that occasion. They all knew the great part which the ancestors of Lord Herbert had performed in the history of this country, and that among them were men of the first character for ability; but perhaps the greatest of all was Sir Philip Sidney. It is true that comparatively little is known in our day of his public career to justify the wonderful amount of his fame. But there is one thing with which we cannot help being struck, and that was his remarkable likeness in character to Lord Herbert. Sir Philip Sidney was we are told, “the Mirror of Knighthood,” which meant that he was possessed of all that was becoming in the character of a gentleman--generosity, courtesy, and self-controul. One of the most remarkable features in the character of Lord Herbert, was the entire abnegation of self, and the perfect controul which he possessed over all his feelings. Such was the harmony of his character, that whenever he was brought into party collisions—and, he too, like all public men, had to suffer from those asperities to which all statesmen are exposed--no man had ever reason to feel that he had acted with asperity in return. Therefore if Sir Philip Sidney was looked up to as one of the great stars during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, surely the name of Lord Herbert may equally be referred to as that of one who was the “ Mirror of Knighthood” in the reign of Queen Victoria. He trusted they would pardon him for detaining them so long on this subject, but he felt more than ever how impossible it is to express in words our feelings, when those feelings were strong. There was one remark which he wished to make before he sat down. He trusted they would not allow the feelings which pervaded their minds at the present time to evaporate in words.
He wished that some appropriate means would be devised of recording for the admiration of those who came after, and for the purpose of handing down to posterity, the name of one who preferred the welfare of his country, the Church, his friends, and neighbours to himself, and who was ever foremost to promote every good cause, and everything that tended to the glory of God and the good
He had taken the liberty of bringing this matter before them, because he knew there was a strong feeling on this subject throughout the county of Wilts.
He would now turn to the business of the meeting; and in the first place he thought the Wiltshiremen ought to offer an apology to the men of Dorset for making a foray across the border into their county. It certainly would have been a most impudent act, if they had not been told that their Dorset friends were still behind Wilts, and that they had no Archæological Society of their own. The Wiltshire Society had visited Shaftesbury for the purpose of enlarging the sphere of their operations, and he trusted that their visit to Dorsetshire would lead to the establishment of a sister association in that county. The counties of Dorset and Wilts were very nearly connected. They were both in the same diocese. He should like, then, to see two Archæological Societies holding alternate meetings every year. The Right Hon. gentleman then remarked that archæology was a very fascinating study, for it had its merits and its demerits. They all knew that an imaginative turn of mind was the property of antiquaries, and at these meetings the members were desirous of hearing all sides of the question, and of forming their own judgment, on the speculations of their friends. He concluded a long and very amusing speech by dwelling on the advantages of archæological pursuits, and by alluding to the business which would be transacted during the meeting in Shaftesbury.
The Rev. A. C. SMITH, of Yatesbury, Calne, one of the Hon. Secretaries, read
THE REPORT. “The Committee of the Wiltshire Archæological and Natural