Although he is a man of engaging per-sonality, who possesses a very wide knowledge of affairs, and is already acquainted with colonial life, since he went through the Boer War, Lord Denman, who has been chosen as the new Governor-general of Australia, will find it no easy task to follow Lord Dudley, on his retirement in July, 1911. Our cousins "down under" have a very warm regard for Lord Dudley. In the same manner that he thoroughly identified himself with everything appertaining to Ireland and the Irish people during his term of office as Viceroy of the Emerald Isle, Lord Dudley, when he went to Australia in 1908, gained immense popularity by the readiness with which he adapted himself to the tastes, wishes, and welfare of the people of that vast colony.
A Journalist's Tribute
No small measure of his success as Governor-general, however, has been due to Lady Dudley, and there is no doubt that Lady Denman, a charming, accomplished lady, and a clever hostess, will prove an admirable successor to Lady Dudley and a valuable helpmeet to her husband in his new and difficult position.
A striking tribute to the capabilities of Lady Dudley was paid by that remarkable journalist, Mr. W. T. Stead, when her husband's appointment as Governor-general of Australia was announced. " Lord Dudley is the right man for Australia," wrote Mr. Stead, " because he has the right woman for his wife. Before he married Rachel Gurney, the young peer was a sportsman, a young man about town, who did himself well and took little interest in public affairs. And then, at the age of twenty-five, he had the good fortune to woo and wed the grand-niece of Elizabeth Fry, a beautiful daughter of the Gurneys, who had been left penniless by the Overend-gurney crash in the financial crisis of 1866."
Mr. Stead, of course, was referring to the fact that before her marriage, in 1891, Lady Dudley was Miss Rachel Gurney, the youngest daughter of the Quaker banker, Charles Gurney, whose financial troubles caused him to give up his business and surrender every penny of his money to his creditors. For a time his daughters earned their own living as milliners in London. Miss Rachel, however, was adopted by Adeline, Duchess of Bedford, who introduced her into society, where she quickly became very popular. Among her many friends was Lady Edith Ward, Lord Dudley's sister. His lordship happened to meet Miss Gurney one day, immediately fell in love with her, and proposed shortly afterwards. In 1891 they were married, their wedding proving one of the big society events of the year.
A Suspicious Democracy
Such are the romantic circumstances which have led to the daughter of the Quaker banker, as wife of the Governor-general of Australia, taking a prominent part in strengthening the bond of union which knits the Commonwealth to the Mother Country. At first the democratic Australians regarded askance the ceremony which Lord and Lady Dudley observed. They did not like the display of outriders and powdered footmen, and the somewhat exclusive ways of the new Governor-general. But they quickly discovered that these were but the trappings, u so to speak, of official life; and when Lord Dudley and his wife were found to be moving freely amongst all classes, and firmly refusing to obey the dictates of the social circle of either Melbourne or Sydney, opinion veered round in favour of the successors of Lord and Lady Northcote, who for four years previously had resided at Government House, Sydney. It has since been admitted by Australians themselves that Lord Dudley never puts on "side." When preparations were being made at Government House for the arrival of Lady Dudley, Mr. Deakin, the Premier of Australia, went to call on the Governor-general, and found him energetically shifting the furniture about, trying it first in one position and then in another, to find out how it would "go" best. The story got into the Australian papers, and, needless to say, Australians did not think less of a Governor-general who was ready to turn his hand to anything.
A Lady Bountiful
And when Lady Dudley, soon after her arrival, began to evince a keen interest in movements for the benefit of poor women, just as she had done as Vicereine of Ireland, Australia at once recognised in her a woman of kindly, generous thought. Lady Dudley's sympathies have always turned in a philanthropic direction. In earlier days she even sang in East End clubs to audiences of flower and factory girls, while in Ireland she did much to promote home industries and brighten the sombre lives of the poor. She it was who established a fund to supply trained nurses to poor people in the remote country districts of Ireland, and secured for it a grant of £180 per annum from Queen Victoria's Jubilee Institution. During her husband's term of office in Australia, Lady Dudley has been equally energetic on behalf of colonial women, although, as she recently confessed, ill-health has curtailed efforts which she would liked to have been more strenuous. But Lady Dudley has also achieved many social triumphs. Mention has already been made of the democratic tastes of the people of Australia, and nothing could have been happier than the manner in which Lady Dudley has won the regard of the women of Australia.
"She is so unaffected, so charming," says one who met her at one of those enjoyable viceregal functions, a garden party in the grounds of Government House. " Efforts have been made from time to time by a certain section of Australian society to keep these garden parties strictly exclusive; but Lady Dudley has always insisted that the list of invitations should be supervised so that representative women, no matter in what circumstances they might be, should be invited."