The failure of the Paris Commune in 1870 brought a number of French Communards to London, and the Howards in entertaining and providing for exiled artists and scholars.
Gradually also political interests made increasing inroads on their life.
Mr. Howard became Liberal member for North Cumberland.
The house in Palace Green., Kensington, built by Philip Webb and decorated by William Morris and Burne-Jones, it's dining room adorned with the famous series of pictures illustrating the adventures of Cupid and Psyche, became the resort of Liberal politicians and thinkers, such as Morley, Chamberlain, Travelyan, Frederick Harrison, Stopford Brooke, and Sir Wilfrid Lawson.
The Howards joined the last-named in his crusade for local veto, and became themselves total abstainers.
Their castle in Cumberland, Naworth, was made the center of many vigorous temperance campaigns, and temperance remained to the end the one cause on which the whole family, husband, wife, and children, were united.|
For Mr. Gladstone's Home Rule Bill of 1886 divided this family, as it divided many others.
Mr. Howard became a Liberal Unionist, and shortly afterwards retired from political life.
A woman in Mrs. Howard's position would usually have tried, by some sacrifice of principle, or at least some change of activity, to soften the difference between herself and her husband.
But that was not her way.
Public causes were to her a religion;
and she would face, and impose, any ordeal rather than compromise what she regarded as a sacred duty.
London society was intolerant of Home Rulers, and still more so of a woman who preached Home Rule against her husbands wishes.
A worldly woman would have tried to make her peace with society.
A very tactful and conciliatory one might have succeeded.
But Mrs. Howard was utterly unworldly, cared little for tact, and despised conciliation.
Every blow she received was returned with interest.
She turned her back on society, dropped most of the acquaintances, and many of the tried friends who belonged to her own rank in life, and concentrated her uncommon energies on public causes and the management of the estates.
LIBERALISM AND TEMPERANCE
George Howard had succeeded his uncle as Earl of Carlisle in 1888, but had been in charge of the estates earlier.
An artist rather than a man of affairs, he was glad to leave an increasing part of the management to his wife, whose exact memory, practical sense, and ruthless directness in dealing with unsatisfactory tenants resulted gradually in the complete discharge of a heavy burden of debt, inherited from the days when Charles James Fox gambled with Frederick, fifth earl.
Meanwhile Lady Carlisle made many friends among the young Oxford radicals who came to her house as tutors or as friends of her sons.