Rosalind Frances Howard  

Saturday, Aug 13, 1921



  We regret to announce the death of the Dowager Lady Carlisle, which took place yesterday, after a long illness, at 13, Kensington Palace-gardens.
  Rosalind Countess of Carlisle was born at Alderley, in Cheshire, in 1845.   Her father was the second Lord Stanley of Alderley, Postmaster-General under Lord John Russell; her mother was the famous Lady Stanley of Alderley, who was one of the founders of Girton, and whose salon in Dover-street continued to be a brilliant and even exiting resort when her years approached 90 and her descendants, it is said, numbered over a hundred.
  Rosalind Stanley was the youngest of seven children remarkable for force of character and variety of attainment, of whom the only two survivors are Lyulph, the Radical Lord Sheffield, formerly Fellow of Balliol and leader of the Progressives on the London School Board,
and the Right Rev. Monsignor Algernon Stanley, Bishop of Emmaus and Domestic Prelate to the Pope.   Her sister, Blanche Lady Airlie, died last January.   Rosalind Stanley married, in 1864, George Howard, then in his 20th year, who afterwards became ninth Earl of Carlisle.   At that time he was a painter of pre-Raphaelite tendencies and a younger member of the circle of William Morris and Burne-Jones.
  A beautiful, ardent, and high-spirited girl, full of energy and devoted to music, Mrs. George Howard threw herself with enthusiasm into a life where most of her friends were artists or writers, the others Radical philanthropists, and nobody rich.   The Howards traveled much in Italy, often in large parties, with a rapidly increasing family and it's mountainous baggage, burdens which Mrs. Howard bore like a feather.   Woe to the innkeeper who imagined that a party of 14, largely children and asleep, arriving from a railway journey at midnight, would submit helplessly to any charges he chose to make.   In a moment young Mrs. Howard would have swept her party into the deserted streets, and in an hour or two more be laughing irrepressibly at her triumph in a more reasonable lodging.

  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.
  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.

  She worked especially at the temperance cause, at Home Rule, and at women suffrage, and steadily opposed Tariff Reform and the Boer War.   She became president of the Women's Liberal Federation in succession to Lady Aberdeen and steered it with great skill through a difficult period, in which the suffrage question threatened to split the Liberal Party.   She was also president of the British Women's Temperance Association, and for some years also of the World Women's Temperance Association.   She thus possessed to a remarkable degree the confidence of hundreds of thousands of organized women workers for Liberal and social causes, and she deserved it.
  These causes with her came first.   She had no personal ambitions, she was never indolent or forgetful, and she feared neither man nor beast.   Also, granted the soundness of her general position, she was a sagacious leader.   It was remarkable that, considering the intensity of her political feelings, her opinions were seldom extreme and never eccentric.   It was not for nothing that she was born of the old Whig family and had imbibed from her cradle a sense of public duty and a habit of politics.   She had an instinctive knowledge of what was possible and not possible in politics.
  The dissensions in the family imbittered much of her life.   Public work filled it but did not sweeten it; and the music and art of her early married life, though always a source of delight to her, occupied gradually less of her active days.
  The early deaths, one after another, of five out of her six sons filled the background of her thoughts with a gloom which was none the less intense because she never spoke of it.   The death of her husband in 1911, after more than 46 years of marriage followed within the year by that of her eldest son, the tenth Earl, left her changed and shaken.   Yet her indomitable vitality kept her still a brilliant and even a formidable companion, with a copious memory for the details of politics and a rare command of language.
  It was the European War that finally broke her strength.   She supported it resolutely.   She had no sympathy with pacifists and no doubts about total victory.   But after 1914 her judgements sometimes became unreal.   In 1918 she even moved into a new house and contemplated further social work in London.   But inwardly she was broken.   It was not merely the death of her youngest son, Michael, and other personal sorrows.   It was the apparent ruin of all the causes she had served and all her hopes for humanity.   An attack of "sleepy sickness" caught at Venice in the summer of 1920 developed into a long illness from which she never recovered.
  She leaves one son, the Hon. Geoffrey Howard, and four daughters - Lady Mary, wife of Professor Gilbert Murray; Lady Cecilia, wife of Mr. Charles Roberts, formerly Under-Secretary for India; Lady Dorothy, wife of the Hon. Francis Henley; and Lady Aurea, unmarried.   The present Earl of Carlisle is her grandson.