You are on page 1of 412

mim

lllllilliii^

x^^^.

.:^

-^c.

c^. '^^.

.V

.V'
,0

"<?'

A V

-^^

x^^^.

"

./

-^

^^^'
vV

^^
.X\ .^^

''

-^

.-^'^

,0 0^
.,o

"<

V,

I
c^

^-

,-^^

.^^

-^^

^-

o>'

-5

'^. ^^

^"

'v>

^\
,0

"^

v^

xOo.

c
'<^

,^

Kl
V
1 /)

v'^

^-

.^

V
o

"oo^

>^/

it

"ot^"*

(})nwe

OHMneim
(gicfotia

of

Oueen

EDITED BY

STUART

J.

REID

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

THE QUEEN'S PRIME MINISTERS.


A SERIES OF POLITICAL BIOGRAPHIES.
EDITED BY

STUART

J.

REID.

The volumes contain Photogravtire Portraits, also copies of A utographs.

THE EARL OF BEACONSFIELD,


D.C.L.
$1 oo.

K.G.

By

J.

A. Froude,

VISCOUNT MELBOURNE.
("Verax.")
$i oo.

By Henry Dunckley, LL.D.


$i oo.

SIR ROBERT PEEL. By Justin McCarthy, M.P. THE RIGHT HON. W. E. GLADSTONE, M.P. By
Russell.
%\ 25.

G.

W.

E.

THE MARQUIS OF SALISBURY.


D.C.L.
$1 00.

By

H.

D. Traill,
%\ 00.
00.

VISCOUNT PALMERSTON.

THE EARL OF DERBY. By THE EARL OF ABERDEEN. LORD JOHN RUSSELL. By


Published by

By the Marquis of Lorne. George Saintsbury. %\ By Sir Arthur Gordon,

^i 00.

Stuart

J.

Reid.

^i 00.

HARPER & BROTHERS, New

York.

3^^

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

BY

STUART

s^
J.

REID

to

have looked to the happiness of my countrymen which my efforts ought to be directed


Recollections

as the object

and

Suggestions

NEW YORK
HARPER & BROTHERS, FRANKLIN SQUARE
1895

DA534
s

-^

i^\

Ai'

M ^

TO THE

LADY MARY AGATHA RUSSELL


THIS RECORD

OF

HER FATHER'S CAREER


IS

WITH TRUE REGARD

DEDICATED

PREFACE
This monograph could not have been
timate sense
written

in the in-

Dowager Countess Russell had not extended a confidence which, I trust, has in no direction been abused. Lady Russell has not only granted me access
if

the

to her journal

and papers

as well as the early note-books of

her husband, but in

many

conversations has

added the

advantage of her own reminiscences.


I

am

also indebted in greater or less degree to Mrs.

Warburton, Lady Georgiana Peel, Lady Agatha Russell, the

Hon. Rollo
George

Russell, Mr.

G.

W.

E.-

Russell,

and the Hon.

Elliot.

Mr.

Elliot's

knowledge, as brother-in-law,

and

for

many

years as private secretary, touches both the per-

sonal and

official

aspects of

Lord John's

career,

and

it

has

been

freely placed at

my
I

disposal.

Outside the circle of

Lord John's relatives Charles Gore and Sir


capacity of secretary.
I

have received hints from the Hon.


both of whom, at one
also served

Villiers Lister,
life,

period or another in his public

him

in the

have received some

details of

from one who served under him in


not, however,
I

Lord John's official life a more public capacity


instance to

hasten to add, as Chancellor of the Ex-

chequer

but
my

I ani scarcely at liberty in this

mention

authority.

viii

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

My

thanks are due, in an emphatic sense, to

my

friend

Mr. Spencer Walpole, who, with a generosity rare at all times,


has not only allowed

me

to avail myself of facts contained

in his authoritative biography of

Lord John

Russell, but has

also glanced at

the proof sheets of these pages,

and has
singularly
political

given me, in frank comment, the benefit of his

own

wide and accurate knowledge of the


annals of the reign.
pole
in a
is

historical

and

It is

only right to add that Mr. Wal-

not in any sense responsible for the opinions expressed


is

book which

only partially based on his own,

is

not

always in agreement with his conclusions, and which follows

independent

lines.

The
sell

letter

which the Queen wrote to the Countess Rusafter the


'

immediately

death of one of her


is

'

first

and most

distinguished Ministers

now

printed with her Majesty's

permission.

The

late Earl of

Selborne and Mr. Lecky were sufficiently


to place

interested in

my task

on record

for the

volume some

personal and political reminiscences which speak for themselves,


I

and do so with
also

authority.

am

under obligations of various kinds to the Marthe

quis

of Dufferin and Ava,

Earl of Durham,

Lord

Stanmore, Dr. Anderson of Richmond, and the Rev. James

Andrews of Woburn.

desire also to acknowledge the

courtesy of Mr. Gladstone, Mr.

Andrew Lang, Mr. James Knowles, Mr. Percy Bunting, Mr. Edwin Hodder, Messrs.
Longmans, and the proprietors of
In Montaigne's words,
'

Punch,' for liberty to

quote from published books and journals.


'

The tales

I I

borrow,

charge upon
I

the consciences of those from

whom

have them.'

have

gathered cues from

all

quarters, but in almost every ease

my

indebtedness stands recorded on the passing page.

PREFACE
The
portrait

IX
for the first

which forms the frontispiece

is

time reproduced, with the sanction of the Countess Russell

and Mr. G.

F. Watts, from an original crayon drawing


at

which

hangs on the walls


It

Pembroke Lodge.
memoir
is

may be

as well to anticipate an obvious criticism by

stating that the earlier title of the subject of this

retained, not only in deference to the strongly expressed wish

of the family at

Pembroke Lodge, but

also because

it

sug-

gests nearly half a century spent in the


in pursuit of liberty.
life

House of Commons
his

In the closing days of Earl Russell's

his eye

was accustomed to brighten, and

manner

to relax,

when some new

acquaintance, in the eagerness of

conversation,

took the liberty of familiar friendship by


'

addressing the old statesman as

Lord John.'

STUART
Chislehurst
:

J.

REID.

Jtme

4,

1895.

CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1792-1813
Rise of the Russells under the Tudors Childhood and early surroundings of Lord John Schooldays at Westminster First
I

EARLY YEARS, EDUCATION, AND TRAVEL


PAGE

journey abroad with Lord Holland Wellington and the Peninsular campaign Student days in Edinburgh and speeches at and the Speculative Society Early leanings in Tavistock ture Enters the House of Commons as member
politics
litera-

for

CHAPTER n
IN

PARLIAMENT AND FOR THE PEOPLE


1813-1826

The

political

outlook
*

when Lord John


Condition
of

entered the
'

Commons The
Bonaparte

England

question

House of The

struggle for Parliamentary

Reform

John comes to the aid of Sir Francis Burdett Foreign Making headway First motion in favour of Reform

The Liverpool Administration


in

Side-lights on

Napoleon a panic Lord

travel
.

21

CHAPTER
I

III

WINNING HIS SPURS


826-1 830

Defeated and out of harness

ment

^Journey to Italy Back in ParliaCanning's accession to power Bribery and corruption


Xii

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

The repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts The struggle


l>etween the Court and the Cabinet over Catholic Emancipation

PAC.F

Defeat of Wellington

Paymaster-Cieneral

........
at

the polls

Lord John

appointed

47

CHAPTER
1830-1832

IV

A FIGHT FOR LIBERTY

Lord Grey and the cause of Reform Lord Durham's share in The voice of the people Lord John introthe Reform Bill The surprise of the tluces the bill and explains its provisions Lord John in the Cabinet Tories Reform, 'Aye or No The bill thrown out The indignation of the country Proposed creation of Peers Wellington and Sidmouth in despair The bill carried Lord John's tribute to Althorp

'

'

'

63

CHAPTER V
THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA
1833-1838

The

turn of the tide with the

Whigs

The

two voices

in the

Althorp and the Poor Law The Melbourne Administration on the rocks Peel in power The question of Irish tithes Marriage of Lord John Grievances of Nonconformists Lord Melbourne's influence over the Queen Lord Durham's mission to Canada
Cabinet

Lord John and

Ireland

Personal sorrow

.........
CHAPTER
1840-1845

83

^T

THE TWO FRONT BENCHES

Lord John's position


services
to

in the

Cabinet and in the

Commons -His

Education

Colonial Policy
recollections

Duke

of Wellington's opinion of Lord

The mistakes of the Mellx)urne Cabinet TIki John The agitation

Mr.

Joseph

Lancaster

Gladstone's opinion

Lord

Lord

John's Stanmore's


CONTENTS
against the

xiii

Corn Laws Lord John's view of Sir Robert Peel The Edinburgh letter Peel's dilemma Lord John's comment on the situation '113

."AGE

CHAPTER
1846-1847
Peel

VII

FACTION AND FAMINE

lead the attack

Disraeli and Lord George Eentinck Russell to the rescue Fall of Peel Lord John summoned to power Lord John's position in the Commons and in the country The Condition of Ireland deadly work The Russell Governquestion Famine and ment and measures of Crime and coercion The Whigs The case of Dr. Hampden and Education Factory
and Free
Trade
its

relief

Bill

136

CHAPTER
IN

VIII

ROUGH WATERS
1848-1852

The

People's Charter Feargus O'Connor and the crowd Lord Palmerston strikes from his own bat Lord John's view of the

political situation

Death of Peel Palmerston and the Court Popery The Durham Letter The invasion scare Ix)rd John's remark about Palmerston Fall of the Russell
*

No

'

Administration

.163

CHAPTER
1852-1853

IX

COALITION BUT NOT UNION

The Aberdeen Ministry Warring elements Mr. Gladstone's position Lord John at the Foreign Office and Leader of the House Lady Russell's criticisms of Lord Macaulay's statement A small cloud in the East Lord Shaftesbury has his

doubts

..........

199


xiv

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

CHAPTER X
DOWNING STREET AND CONSTANTINOPLE
1853
Causes of the Crimean
PAGE
his opportunity

The

Secret

War Nicholas seizes Memorandum Napoleon and

the susceptibilities

of the Vatican

Lord Aberdeen hopes against hope Lord Palmerston's opinion of the crisisThe Vienna Note Lord John grows restive Sinope arouses the Cabinet England The deadlock '213
Prince Menschikofif shows his hand
in
. . .

Lord

Stratford de Redcliffe

and the Porte

CHAPTER
1854-1855

XI

WAR HINDERS REFORM

Scheme of Reform

Palmerston's attitude Lord John sore let and hindered Lord Stratford's diplomatic triumph The Duke of Newcastle and the War Office The dash for SebasProcrastination and its deadly work The Alma topol Inkerman The Duke's blunder Famine and frost in the

trenches

..........

CHAPTER Xn
THE VIENNA DIFFICULTY
1855

236

Blunders at
Fevrier
'

home and abroad


turns traitor

Vienna The pride of the nation is touched Napoleon's visit Lord John's retirement The fall of Sebastopol to Windsor

Roebuck's motion General France and the Crimea Lord John


'

at

The

treaty of Paris

.......

254

A
CONTENTS
XV

CHAPTER

XIII

LITERATURE AND EDUCATION


Lord John's position in 1855 His constituency in the City Survey of his work in literature As man of letters His Hero-worship of Fox Friendship with historical writings

Moore Writes the biography of the poet Don Carlos book wrongly attributed to him Publishes his Recollections and Suggestions An opinion of Kinglake's Lord John on his own career Lord John and National Schools ^Joseph The formation of the Council of Lancaster's tentative Education Prejudice blocks the way Mr. Forster's tribute

'
'

PAGE

'

'

efforts

270

CHAPTER XIV
COMING BACK TO POWER
1857-1861
Lord John

The

an Independent Member His chance in the City Mutiny Orsini's attempt on the life of Napoleon^The Conspiracy Bill Lord John and the Jewish Palmerston in power Lord John at the Foreign Relief Act Cobden and Bright Quits the Commons with a Office Peerage
as

Indian

286

CHAPTER XV
UNITED ITALY AND THE DIS-UNITED STATES
1861-1865
Lord John

Austria and ItalyVictor Cavour and Napoleon IH. Lord John's energetic protest His sympathy with Garibaldi and freedom The gratitude of the Italians the struggle Trent Lord Death of the Prince Consort The Alabama Lord SelJohn's remonstrance -The borne's statement The Cotton Famine
at

the

Foreign Office

Emmanuel and Mazzini


for

'

'

affair

'

'

difficulty
.

29.9


xvi

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

CHAPTER XVI
SECOND PREMIERSHIP
1865-1866
PAGE

The

Bismarck's bid power The Schleswig Death of Lord Palmerston The Queen liolstein summons Lord John The second Russell Administration Lord John's tribute to Palmerston Mr. Gladstone introduces Reform The Cave of Adullam Defeat of the Russell Government The people accept Lowe's challenge The
Polish Revolt
for
difficulty
'
'

feeling in the country

320

CHAPTER XVn
OUT OF HARNESS
1867-1874
Speeches in the House of Lords
reminiscences

The

Leisured
of the

years
Irish

Mr.

Lecky's

question

Church

Independence of Belgium Lord John on the claims of the Vatican Letters to Mr. Chichester Fortescue His scheme Lord Selborne's estimate for the better government of Ireland Frank admissions As his of Lord John's public career

The

private secretaries

saw him

334

CHAPTER XVni
PEMBROKE LODGE
1847-1878
Looking back Society at Pembroke Lodge Home house and its memories Charles Dickens's speech

life

The
Liver-

Lady Russell's description of her His children's recollections husband A packet of A glimpse of Carlyle A witty impromptu Closing days Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone The jubilee of the Repeal of the
pool
Literary friendships
letters

at

on the ' Golden Wed' Punch Test and Corporation Acts ' Lord Shaftesbury's letter Queen's Death The ding
'

estimate of Lord John's career His great

qualities

349

INDEX

371

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


CHAPTER
I

EARLY YEARS, EDUCATION, AND TRAVEL


1792-1813
Rise of the Russells under the Tudors Childhood and early surroundSchooldays at Westminster First journey ings of Lord John

abroad with Lord Holland Wellington and the Peninsular campaign Student days in Edinburgh and speeches at the Speculative Early leanings in Politics and Literature Enters the Society

House of Commons

as

member

for Tavistock.

Government by

great

families

was

once a

reality

in

England, and when Lord John Russell's long career began


the old tradition had not yet lost
its

ascendency.

The

ranks of privilege can at least claim to have given at more

than one great

crisis in

the national annals leaders to the

cause of progress.

It is

not necessary in this connection

to seek examples outside the

House

of Bedford, since the

name
and

of
that

Lord William Russell


of

in the seventeenth century

Lord John in the nineteenth stand foremost amongst the champions of civil and rehgious liberty.

Hugh du

Rozel, according to the Battle Roll, crossed from

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


the train
of the Conqueror.

Normandy in of Henry III.


of Corfe Castle.

In the reign

the

first

landed proprietor in

John Russell of note was a small Dorset, and held the post of Constable
II. 's

William Russell, in the year of Edward

accession, was returned to Parliament, and his lineal descendant. Sir

John
days

Russell,

was Speaker of the House of

Commons

in the

of

Henry VI.

The

real

founder, however'

of the fortunes

of the family was the third

John Russell

known to history. He was the son of the Speaker, and came to honour and affluence by a happy chance.

who

is

Stress

of
in

weather
right

drove
his

Philip,

Archduke
of

of

Austria
a

and,

of

wife,

King

Castile,

during

voyage from Flanders to Spain in the year 1506, to take


refuge at
Dorset,

Weymouth.

Sir

Thomas Trenchard,
Castile

Sheriff of

entertained the

unexpected guest, but he knew

no Spanish, and Philip of


this

knew no
in

English.

In
his

emergency
Squire

Sir

Thomas

sent

hot

haste

for

cousin,

Russell,

of Barwick,

abroad and was able to talk

who had travelled Spanish fluently. The Arch-

duke, greatly pleased with the sense and sensibility of his


interpreter, insisted

that

John Russell must accompany

him
was

to the English Court,

and Henry VII., no mean judge


ability.

of men, was in turn impressed with his


that, after

The

result

many

important services to the Crown, John

became first Earl of Bedford, and, under grants from Henry VIII. and Edward VI., the rich monastic lands of Tavistock and Woburn passed into his possession. The
Russell
part which the Russells as a family have played in history

of 'course
exclusively

lies

outside the province of this volume, which

is

concerned with the character and career

in

recent times of one of the most distinguished statesmen of

the present century.

SCHOOLDAYS AT WESTMINSTER

Lord John Russell was born on August i8, 1792, at Hertford Street, Mayfair. His father, who was second son of

Lord Tavistock, and grandson of the fourth Duke of Bedford, succeeded his brother Francis, as sixth Duke, in 1802, at

when his youngest and most famous son was ten years old. Long before his accession to the title, which was, indeed, quite unexpected, the sixth Duke had married the Hon. Georgiana Byng, daughter of Viscount
the age of thirty-six,

Torrington, and the statesman with whose career these pages


are concerned was the third son of this union.
his early childhood
at Stratton Park,

He

spent

Hampshire.

When

he was a child of
of Bedford,
well,

eight, Stratton

Park was sold by the Duke

and Oakley House, which he never liked so


his father.

became the residence of


he was sent

Although a

shy,

delicate child,

in the spring of 1800,

when only
later

eight, to a private school at

Sunbury

only a

mile or two

away from Richmond, where nearly eighty years


died.

he

In the autumn of 1801 he lost his mother, to

whom

he was deeply attached, and almost before the bewildered


child

had time

to realise his loss, his uncle Francis also died,

and

his father, in consequence,

became Duke

of Bedford.

From Sunbury
the

the

motherless boy was sent with his

elder brother to Westminster, in 1803,

and the same year

Duke married Lady Georgiana Gordon, a daughter of the fourth Duke of Gordon, and her kindness to her stepchildren was

marked and

constant.

Westminster School

at

the beginning of the century was an ill-disciplined place, in

which fighting and fagging prevailed, and


boisterous
life

its

rough and

taxed to the utmost the mettle of the plucky

little fellow.

He

seems to have made no complaint, but to


share in the rough-and-tumble sports of

have taken his


his

full

comrades

in a school

which has given many distinguished


B 2

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


to the literature

men

and public

life

of England

as,

for

instance, the younger

Vane

whom

Milton extolled

Ben
to the rue-

Jonson and Dryden, Prior and Locke, Cowper and Southey,

Gibbon and Warren Hastings.

He
work

learnt Latin at Westminster,

and was kept

of translation, but
that

he used

to declare

somewhat

fully in after-days

he had as a schoolboy to devote

the half-holidays to learning arithmetic


these homely arts were taught

and

writing,

and

him by a pedagogue who


in

seems to have kept a private school

Great Dean's Yard.

Many

years later Earl Russell dictated to the Countess

some

reminiscences of his early days, and since Lady Russell has


granted access to them, the following passages transcribed

from her own manuscript


'

will

be read with

interest

My

education, for various reasons, was not a very regular


It

one.

began, indeed, in the usual English way by

my

going to a very bad private school at Sunbury, and

my being
life

transferred to a public school at Westminster at ten or eleven.

But
fag

never entered the upper school.


for in those days
it

The hard
that

of a

was a hard life and the unwholeso

some food disagreed with me


away and sent

much

my

stepmother,

the Duchess of Bedford, insisted that I should be taken


to a private tutor.'

At Westminster School
'

physical hardihood was always encouraged.

If

two boys

were engaged to

fight

during the time of school, those boys

who wanted
purpose.'

to see the fight


this

had

to leave

school for the

At

early period a passion for the theatre

possessed him, drawing him to Drury Lane or Covent Garden

whenever an opportunity occurred


tion retained a considerable hold

and

this

kind of relaxa-

upon him throughout the


as a child

greater portion of his

life.

Even

he was a

bit of

a philosopher.

In the journal which he began to keep in

DR.

CARTWRIGHT AND WOBURN


is

the year he went to Westminster School


entry

the following

: October
'

28,

1803.Very great mist

in the morning,

but afternoon very

fine.

There was a grand review to-day


I
I

by the King in Hyde Park of the Volunteers.


as there

did not go,

was such a quantity of people that

should have

seen nothing, and should have been knocked down.' Most of the entries in the boy's journal are pithy statements of

matter of

fact,

as,

for

instance

'

Westminster, Monday,

October 10. I was flogged to-day for the first time.' A few days later the young diarist places on record what he calls

some

of the rules of the school.


at eight,

He

states

that lessons

began every morning


continued
till

and

that usually

work was

noon, with an interval at nine for breakfast.

Lessons were resumed at two on ordinary days, and finished All the fellows have verses on Thursfor the day at five.
'

days and Saturdays.

go on Sundays to church in the morning in Henry VH.'s Chapel, and in the evening have
prayers in the school.'

We

His 'broken and disturbed' education was next resumed domestic at Woburn Abbey under Dr. Cartwright, the Duke's
.

chaplain,

Major Cartwright, the well-known poHtical reformer. The chaplain at Woburn was a manyHe was not only a scholar and a poet, but sided man. won also possessed distinct mechanical skill, and afterwards

and brother

to

fame

as the inventor of the power-loom.

He

was quick-

witted

and accomplished, and


high-spirited,
full

it

was a happy circumstance

that the

impressionable lad,

time was

of dreams of literary
'

who by this distinction, came under


left

his influence.

acquired from Dr. Cartwright,' declared

Lord John,
me.'

'

a taste for Latin poetry which has never


at

Not merely
'

work but

at play, his

new

friend

came

to his rescue.

He

invented the model of a boat which was

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


acted upon the water by a paddle
the model,

moved by clockwork and


underneath.
it

He

gave

me

and

used to make
literature
effu-

go across the ponds in the park.'

Meanwhile

was not forgotten, and before long the boy's juvenile


sions filled a manuscript
flourish of trumpets

book, which with


to
'

an amusing
Right Hon.

was dedicated

the

William

Pitt,

Chancellor of the Exchequer,'


its
:

couple of

sentences will reveal

of the youthful scribe

This
'

character,

and the dawning humour


volume, being graced
it

little

with your name, will prosper

without
at the

be

all

in vain.

May

you remain

my labour would Helm of State long


humble and

enough

to

bestow a pension

on your very

obedient servant, John Russell.'

his

Between the years 1805 and 1808 Lord John pursued education under a country parson in Kent. He was

placed under the care of Mr. Smith, Vicar of Woodnes-

borough, near Sandwich, an ardent Whig,

who

taught a select

number of
aristocracy
his

pupils,
;

amongst
to this

whom

were several cadets of the

and

seminary Lord John

now

followed

brothers, Lord Tavistock and Lord William Russell. Amongst his schoolfellows at Woodnesborough was the Lord Hartington of that generation, Lord Clare, Lord

William Fitzgerald, and a future

Duke

vicar in question, worthy Mr. Smith,

The was nicknamed Dean


of Leinster.
'

Smigo

'

by

his

pupils,

but Lord John,

looking back in

after-years,

declared that he was an excellent man, well

acquainted with classical authors, both Greek and Latin,

though without any remarkable


'

qualities either of character

or understanding.'

He

evidently

won

popularity amongst

the boys by joining in their indoor

amusements and granting

frequent holidays, particularly on occasions

when

the

Whig

cause was triumphant in the locahty or in Parliament.

SMALL GAME
Rambles inland and on the seashore, pony shooting small birds, cricket, and other sports, as
duties of the schoolroom.

7
riding,

well as

winter evening games, filled up the ample leisure from the

One

or two extracts from his


still

journal are sufficient to show that, although

weakly, he

was not lacking


to

in boyish vivacity

and

in a healthy desire

emulate his elders.

When

Grenville

and Fox joined


'

their forces

and so brought about the Ministry of All the

Talents

'

the lads obtained a holiday

fact

which

is

thus

recorded in sprawling schoolboy hand by Lord John in his


diary.

'Saturday, February

8,

1806.

We
I
I

did no
shot a

business on Mr. Fox's coming into the Ministry.

couple

of larks

beyond
first

Southerden.

...

went
I

out got

shooting for the


eight shots at

time with Mr. Smith's gun.


birds

little

and

killed four of them.'

On

November
ing,

5 in the

same year we

find

him
I

writing
I

'

Eliza's

[Miss Smith's] birthday.

No

business.

went out shoot-

but only killed some

little birds.

used to shoot
;

much
to kill

better than I

do

at present.

Always miss now


!

have not

killed a partridge yet.'

Poor boy
'

But he lived

two deer and a wild boar.

Similarity of age led me,' states


'

Lord John,

in

one of

his

unpubhshed notes,

to

form a more

intimate friendship with Clare than with any of the others,

and our mutual


both
sides.
I

liking

grew into a strong attachment on

only remark this fact as Lord Byron,


at

who had

been a friend of Clare's

Harrow, appears to have shown


the latter expressed his sorrow

some boyish jealousy when


at

my Now and

departure for Spain.'

then he turned his

gift

for

composing verses
celebrity.

in the direction of a satire

on some pohtical

He

also wrote

and spoke the prologue

at private

dramatic per-

formances at

Woburn

during the holiday season, and took


8
the part of
'

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Lucy
'

in

'

The

Rivals.'

Httle later, in the

brief period of his father's viceroyalty,

he wrote another

prologue, and on this occasion


his

assumption of the part of

amused an Irish audience by an old woman.


boy of

The

political

atmosphere of Woburn and Woodneshis father's official position, led the


affairs.

borourgh as well as

fourteen to take a keen interest in public


verses

His

satirical

on Melville,

Pitt,

Hawkesbury, and

others, together

with

many
and

passages in his journal, showed that his attention


field

was frequently diverted from grammar and lexicon,


sports
footlights,

to

politics

and Parliament, and the


and power.
Although

struggle
little is

amongst statesmen

for place

known

of the actual incidents of Lord John's boy-

hood, such straws at least show the direction in which the


current of his
life

was

setting.

Whilst Lord John was the guest of Mr. Fox at Stable


Yard, the subject of Lord Melville's acquittal by the Peers

came up

for discussion.

Next day the shrewd young

critic
:

wrote the following characteristic remark in his journal


'

What

a pity that he

who

steals

a penny loaf should be

hung, whilst he

who
!

steals
'

thousands of the public money


brilliant qualities of

should be acquitted

The

Fox made
doubt

a great impression on the lad,


that his

and there can be

little

intercourse with the great statesman, slight

and

passing

though

it

was,

did

much

to

awaken

political

ambition.

He
in

also crossed the path of other

men

of light

and leading

the political world, and in this way, boy


strife

though he was, he grew familiar with the


the great questions of the hour.
its

of parties

and

Holland House opened

hospitable gates to him, and there he met a young clergyof an unconventional

man
with

type the Rev. Sydney Smith

whom

he struck up a friendship that was destined to

WITH LORD HOLLAND


endure.

IN SPAIN on record

9
in that

The young schoolboy has

left it

inevitable 'journal' that he found his

odd

clerical acquaint-

ance

'

very amusing.'

In the summer of 1807 we learn from his journal that

he passed three months with

his father

and stepmother

at the

English lakes and in the West of Scotland.


glee

With boyish
his

he recounts the incidents of the journey, and

delight in visiting Inverary, Edinburgh,


it

and Melrose.

Yet

was

his rambles

and

talks with Sir

Walter Scott,

whom he

afterwards described as one of the wonders of the age, that


left

the

most abiding impression upon him.


to

On

his

Woodnesborough he paid his first visit to the House of Lords, and heard a debate on the Copenway back
hagen
'

expedition,

an

affair

in

which,

he

considered,

Ministers
life

cut
at

most

despicable figure.'

On

quitting
in store

school
for

Woodnesborough, an experience was


his

him which enlarged

mental horizon, and drew out his

sympathies for the weak and oppressed.

Lord and Lady

Holland had taken a fancy

to

the lad,

and the Duke of

Bedford consented to their proposal that he should accom-

pany them on
of England
told in
'

their visit to the Peninsula, then the scene

of hostilities between

the French

and the

allied

armies
is

and Spain.

The account
:

Lord John's own words


1

of this journey

best

In the autumn of

808,

when only

sixteen years of age,


to

accompanied Lord and Lady Holland

Corunna, and

afterwards to Lisbon, Seville,


to

and Cadiz, returning by Lisbon


of 1809.

England

in

the

summer

They were
I

eager for

the success of the Spanish cause,


for Spain a boyish hatred of

and

joined to sympathy

Napoleon, who had treacher-

ously obtained possession of an independent country by force

and fraud

force

of

immense

armies, fraud of the lowest

lO
kind.'

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


There
is

in existence at

Pembroke Lodge a small


'Diary,
1808,'

parchment-bound volume
records in his
of foreign

marked

which

own handwriting Lord John's first impressions The notes are brief, but they show that travel.
somewhat
which
abruptly,

the writer even then was keenly alive to the picturesque.

The

journal ends

and Lord John con-

fesses in so

many words

that he gave
is

up

this journal in

despair, a statement

followed by the assertion that

the record at least possesses the 'merit of brevity.'

Spain was in such a disturbed condition that the tour

was
air,

full

of excitement.

War and rumours

of war

filled

the
in

and sudden changes of route were often necessary


were sometimes accompanied by a military
left to their

order to avoid perilous encounters with the French.


travellers

The
escort,

but were more frequently

devices,

and

evil tidings less

of disaster to the Allies

often

groundless,

but not

alarming

kept

the whole party on the

alert,

and proved,
strange

naturally, very exciting to the lad,

who under such


first

and dramatic circumstances gained his


life

experience of

abroad.

Virgil,

Lord John had, however, taken with him his Tacitus, and Cicero, and now and then, forgetful of

the turmoil around him, he improved his acquaintance with the classics.

He

also

studied the Spanish language, with

the result that he acquired an excellent conversational know-

ledge

The lad had opinions and the courage of them, and when he saw the cause of the Spanish beginning
of
it.

to fail

he was exasperated by the apathy of the Whigs

at

home, and accordingly, with the audacity of youth, wrote


to his father
'
:

French have not conquered the whole of


to

take the liberty of informing you and your Opposition

friends that the

Spain.

Lord Grey's speech appears

me

either a

mere

THE QUESTION OF A UNIVERSITY

II

attempt to plague Ministers for a few hours or a declaration against the principle of the people's right to depose an in-

famous despot. ...


sition

It

seems
Spain

to
is

be the object of the Oppoconquered,

to prove

that

and

that the
It

Spaniards like being robbed and murdered.'


therefore, that
to

seems,

Lord John, even

in

his teens,

was inclined

be dogmatic and
this

oracular, but

the soundness of his


is

judgment, in

particular instance at least,

not

less

remarkable than his sturdy mental independence.


friend
justice

Like his

Sydney Smith, he was already becoming a lover of

and of sympathy towards the oppressed.


his

In the summer of 1809, after a short journey to Cadiz,

Lord Holland and

party crossed the plains of Estrefor

madura on mules

to

Lisbon and embarked

England,

though not without an unexpected delay caused by a slight On the voyage attack of fever on the part of Lord John.

back Lord Holland and


out to

his secretary,

Mr. Allen, pointed

him the advantages of going


10, 1809,

to

Edinburgh

for the

next winter, and in a letter to his father, dated Spithead,

August

he adds

'They say
;

that I

am

yet too

young
where

to go to

an English university
in the

that I should learn


I

more there [Edinburgh]


else.'

meantime than

should any-

He goes
'

on

to state that

he

is

convinced by their argu-

ments, in spite of the fact that he had previously expressed so much dislike to an academical career in Edinburgh.'

The

truth

is.

Lord John wished


to

to follow his elder brother,

Lord Tavistock,
of the idea,

Cambridge

but the

Duke would not hear

and bluntly declared


at the

that nothing at that time

was to be learnt

English universities.
it

On
John

his return to

England

was decided to send Lord

to continue his studies at

Edinburgh University. The

12

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


at that

Northern Athens
intellectual
set foot in
life,
it

time was

full

of keen

and varied

and the young student could scarcely have

at a

more auspicious moment.


Lord

Other cadets

of the English aristocracy, such as

Webb Seymour
of

and Lord Henry

Petty, were attracted at this period to the


restrictive statutes

Northern university, partly by the

Oxford and Cambridge, but


learning of

men like The Duke of Bedford


latter,

more by the genius and Dugald Stewart and John Playfair.


still

placed his son under the roof of

the

w^ho at that time held the chair of mathematics


that

in the

university, with the request

he would take a

general oversight of his studies.

Professor Playfair was a

teacher w^ho quickened to a remarkable extent the powers of


his pupils,
ties

and

at the

same time by

his

own

estimable quali-

won

their affection.

Looking back

in after-years.

Lord

John declared
delightful of

that

'

Professor Playfair was one of the most

men and

very zealous lover of liberty.'

He

adds that the simplicity of the distinguished mathematician, as well as the elevation

of his sentiments, was re-

markable.
It is interesting to learn

from Professor

Playfair's

own
of

statement that he was quickly impressed with the ability


of Lord John.

Ambition

was

stirring

in

the breast
idle

the young Whig,


at times,

and though he could be

enough

he seems on the whole to have lent

his

mind with

increasing earnestness to the tasks of the hour.

He

also

attended the classes of Professor Dugald Stewart during the


three years he spent in the grey metropolis of the North,

and

the influence of that remarkable

man was
left

not merely stimuto

lating at the time, but materially helped

shape his whole

philosophy of

life.

After he had

Edinburgh, Lord John

wrote some glowing lines about

Dugald Stewart, which

LIFE IN EDINBURGH
follow

afar

off, it

must be admitted the


:

style of

Pope.

We

have only space to quote a snatch

'Twas he gave laws to fancy, grace to thought. Taught virtue's laws, and practised what he taught.
Intellectual

stimulus

came

to

him through another


a

channel.
the

He was elected

in the spring of 18 10

member

of

Edinburgh Speculative Society, and during that and the two following years he was zealous in his attendance at its
weekly meetings.
early in the reign of

The

Speculative
III.,

Society was founded


less distinguished

George

and no

a
its

man

than Sir Walter Scott acted for a term of years as


It

secretary.

sought to unite
to bring

men

of different classes
ex-

and

pursuits,

and

young students and more

perienced thinkers and

men

of affairs together in friendly


literary,

but keen debate on historical, philosophical,


political questions.
It is certain that

and

Lord John
in

first

discovered his powers


part in the

of debate in the years

when he took a prominent


the
hall

Tuesday night discussions


of the university.

which had been

erected for the Speculative Society in 1769 in the grounds

The

subjects about which he spoke are

at least of passing interest


racter, for

even now as a revelation of chathoughts.

they show the

drift of his

He
as

was not

content with merely

academic themes,

such

Queen

Elizabeth's treatment of

of Alcibiades.

Mary Queen of Scots, or the policy Topics of more urgent moment, like the war

of 1793, the proceedings of the Spanish Cortes in 1810, the

education of the poor, the value of Canada to Great Britain,

and one

at least of the

burning subjects of the day

the
forth

imprisonment of Gale Jones in Newgate by order of the

House
his

of

Commons claimed

his attention

and drew

powers of argument and oratory.

His mind was already


14

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


subject
of Parliamentary

turning in the direction of the

Reform, and from Edinburgh he forwarded to his father

an essay on that subject, which


papers.
It

still

exists

among

the family

shows that he was preparing to vindicate even


field

then on a new
of the Russells.

ihe liberal

and progressive

traditions

The Duke
him

of Bedford was never too busy or preoccupied

to enter into his son's political speculations.

He encouraged
in spite of

to continue the habit of reasoning and writing on the

great questions of the day,

and Lord John, who

uncertain health had no lack of energy, cheered by such

kindly recognition, was not slow to respond to his father's


sensible advice.

Meanwhile the war


it

in the

Peninsula was progressing, and

appealed to the Edinburgh undergraduate


brother,

now

with

new
of

and even painful interest. His


had accompanied
1809, and had been

Lord William

Russell,

his regiment to Spain in the

summer

wounded
in

at the battle of Talavera.

In

the course of the following summer, Lord John states, in a

manuscript which
to Cadiz to see

is

Lady

Russell's possession

'

went

my brother William, who was

then serving on

the staff of Sir


small

Thomas Graham. The head-quarters was in a town on the Isle of Leon, and the General, who was

one of the kindest of men, gave

me a bed

in his

house during

the time that I remained there.'

Cadiz was at the

moment

besieged by the French, and Lord John proceeds to describe the strategical points in
its

defence.

Afterwards he
of

accompanied
Graham's

Colonel

Stanhope,

member

General

staff,

to the head-quarters of

Lord Wellington,
of the great

who had
Vedras.
soldier,

just

occupied with his army the lines of Torres


thus records his

He

impressions

and of the spectacle which

lay before

him

WELLINGTON AND THE WAR


'

Standing on the highest point, and looking around him


side,

on every

was the English General,

his eyes bright


full

and

searching as those of an eagle, his countenance

of hope,

beaming with
tion every

intelligence as

he marked with quick percep-

movement

of troops

and every change of circum-

stance within the sweep of the horizon.

On

each side of

the fort of Sobral rose the entrenchments of the Allies,


bristling with

guns and

alive with the troops

who formed
on the
left,

the garrison of this fortified position.


the
cliffs

Far

off,

rose to a moderate elevation,

and the
.

lines of
.

Torres Vedras were prominent

in the distance.

There

stood the advanced guard of the conquering legions of

France

here was the living barrier of England, Spain, and


to stay the destructive
flood,

Portugal, prepared

and

to

preserve from the deluge the liberty and independence of


three

armed

nations.

The

sight filled

me

with admiration,

with confidence, and with hope.'

Wellington told Colonel Stanhope that there was nothing

he should

like better

than to attack the enemy, but since


England's only army,
fact,

the force which he

commanded was
risk a battle.
'

he did not care to

In

a defeat would

have been most disastrous,

for the

English would have been

obliged to retreat upon Lisbon and embark for England,

probably after suffering great

losses.'

Within a fortnight

Lord John was back again in London, and over the dinner table at Holland House the enterprising lad of eighteen was
able to give

Lord Grey an animated account of the prospects


and of the appearance of Wellington's Cambridge revived
in

of the campaign,
soldiers.

The

desire for

Lord John
His wishes

with the conclusion of his Edinburgh course.

were, however, overruled by his father, who, as already hinted,

held extremely unfavourable views in regard to the charac-

l6
teristics at that

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


period of undergraduate
life in

the

EngHsh

universities.

The

'sciences of horse-racing, fox-hunting,


'

and giving extravagant entertainments


as the
'

the

Duke regarded
and he
was

chief studies of our youths at Cambridge,'

made no
those

secret of his opinion that his promising son

better without them.

Lord John's

father

is

described by

who knew him

as a plain, unpretending
life,

man, who

talked well in private

but was reserved in society.


arts,

He

was a great patron of the fine

and one of the best

farmers in England, and was, moreover, able to hold his

own

in the debates of the

House

of Lords.

Meanwhile, at Woburn, Lord John's military ardour, which


at this

time was great, found an outlet in the

command

of a

company of the Bedfordshire Militia. But the life of a country gentleman, even when it was varied by military drill,
was not to the
taste of this roving

young Englishman.
about

The

passion for foreign travel, which he never afterwards wholly


lost,

asserted

itself,

and led him

to cast

for congenial

companions

to

accompany him abroad.

Mr. George Bridge-

man, afterwards Earl of Bradford, and Mr. Robert Clive, the


second son of Earl Powis, agreed to accompany him, and
with light hearts the three friends started in August 1812, with the intention of travelling through
Sicily,

Greece, Egypt,

and

Syria.

way

to

They had not proceeded far, however, on their Southern Italy when tidings reached them that the
Salamanca had been fought and
that Wellington

battle of

had entered Madrid.

The

plans for exploring Sicily, Egypt,

and Syria were

instantly

thrown to the winds, and the young

enthusiasts at once bent their steps to the Spanish capital,


in order to take part in the rejoicings of the populace at the
victory of the Allies.

They made

the best of their

way

to

Oporto, but were chagrined to find on arriving there that

THE FIELD OF SALAMANCA


although Salamanca had been added to the
ton's triumphs, the victor
list

t;
of Wellino--

Under

had not pushed on to the capital. these circumstances, Lord John and his companions

in the northern part of Portugal before proceeding to Wellington's head-quarters at Burgos. They met with a few mild adventures on the

determined to make a short tour

road,

and afterwards crossed the


of Salamanca.

frontier
still

and reached the

field

and flocks of vultures rose sullenly as the travellers threaded their way across that terrible scene of carnage. However, neither
lay unburied,

The dead

Lord John's phlegm nor


blood
spilt

his

philosophy deserted him, though

the awfulness of the spectacle was not lost

upon him.

'

The
it

on

that

day

will

become a

real saving of life if

become the means of


minion,' was his remark.

delivering Spain from French do-

civilian renewed his acquaintance with the Commander-in-Chief, and added to his experience of war by being for a short time under fire from the French, who held the neighbouring fortress. Wellington, however,

At Burgos the young

not care for non-combatants at the front, and accordingly the youths started for Madrid.

like other

good

soldiers, did

Finding that the French were in possession, they pushed


southwards, and spent Christmas at Cadiz.

The prolonged

to carry out their original scheme. Leaving Cadiz at the end of January they set off, via Gibraltar, Cordova, and Cartagena, for Alicante, where they proposed
to

campaign decided them

embark

for Sicily.

French

reverses,

But on the way reports reached them of and they were emboldened once more to

move towards Madrid.


and
I

They had hardly

started

when

other

less reassuring

rumours reached them, and Lord John's


to return to Alicante
;

two companions resolved


self

but he himdetermined to ride across the country to the head-

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

^
letters

quarters of the army, at Frenida, a distance of 150 miles.

We

are

indebted to

Mr.

Bridgeman's published

for the

following account of

Lord John's plucky


ladyship's

ride

:-

'Finding the French did not continue the


Russell,

retreat,

John

my

strange cousin

and your

mad nephew,

determined to execute a plan which he had often threatened,


but
that
it

appeared to Clive and

me

so very injudicious a one


it

we never had an idea

of his putting

into execution.

However, the evening previous


said, " Well, I shall go to the
will

to our leaving

Almaden, he

army and

see William,

and

meet you

either at

Madrid or Alicante."

W^e found he
his intentions.

was quite
. . .

serious,

and he then informed us of

He would

not take his servant, but ordered him to leave

out half-a-dozen changes of linen, and his gun lo^ed.

He

was dressed in a blue greatcoat,


literally

overalls,

and sword, and

took nothing else except his dressing-case, a pair of

pantaloons and shoes, a journal and an account book, pens

and
to

and a bag of money. reload his gun, which he


ink,
sell,

He

woul not carry anything

said his principal reason for

taking was to

should he be short of money, for we had

too

little

to spare

him

any.

The

next morning he sold his

pony, bought a young horse, and rode the first league with Here we parted with each other with much regret, and us.

poor John seemed rather

forlorn.

God

grant he

may have
Clive
till

reached head- quarters in safety and health, for he had been


far

from well the


I feel fully

last

few days he was with


w^e shall see

us.

and

persuaded that

him no more

we

return to England.'

The

fears entertained for


Difficulties

founded.

Lord John's safety were well of many kinds had to be encountered


risk of

on the journey, and there was always the arrested and detained by French piquets.

being

But the 150

A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY

I9

miles were traversed without mishap, and in twelve days


the
'

mad nephew

'

entered the

English quarters.

He

stayed at Frenida more than a month, probably waiting for

an opportunity to see a great


gratified.

battle.

But the wish was not


in his later life the
:

Dictating to

Lady Russell

narrative of his journey in Spain,

he said

'When Lord

Wellington

left his

head-quarters on the frontier of Spain and

Portugal for his memorable campaign of Vittoria, I thought


that as I

was not a soldier

might as well leave Lord Welto Madrid.'

lington

and proceed on a journey of amusement

General Alava gave him introductions, and in the course


of his journey he was entertained at dinner by a merry

canon

at Plasencia,

who

pressed upon

him a

liberal

supply

When Lord John declined taking any more, his Do you not know the syllogism, " Qui bene host exclaimed
of wine.^.
'
:

bibit,

bene dormit

qui bene dormit, non peccat


'

qui

non

peccat, salvatus
it

erit " ?

At

this stage

Lord John found


of acting as

necessary to hire a servant

who was capable

guide.

He

used to say that his whole appearance on

these journeys was somewhat grotesque, and in proof of


this assertion

he was accustomed
:

to

add the following description

in relating his

adventures

'I
I

wore a blue military

cloak and a military cocked hat


side
;

had a sword by
in

my
a
I

my

whole luggage was carried

two bags, one on


I usually carried

each side of the horse.


leg of mutton,

In one of these
I cut

from which

two or three

slices

when

wished to prepare
clothes which

my

dinner.

My

servant had a suit of


best,

had never been of the


He,
too,

and was then


Such a

mostly in rags.

wore a cocked

hat, and, being tall

and

thin, stalked before

me

with great dignity.'

description reads almost like a page from Cervantes.

Thus attended, Lord John

visited the scene of the battle

c 2

20

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


had been wounded, and
French, en-

of Talavera, in which his brother

on June

5,

two days

after the departure of the

tered Madrid.

Before the end of the month news arrived


;

of the battle of Vittoria


in the
'

and the young EngHshman shared


which greeted the announcement.
'

pubhc
met

rejoicings

From

Talavera,' adds
I

where
Clive.

my

Lord John, I proceeded to Madrid, friends George Bridgeman and Robert


I travelled to

With them

Valencia, and with

them

in

a ship laden with salt fish to Majorca.'

At Palma the
open boat
to Port

travellers

found hospitable quarters

at

the Bishop's palace, and after a brief stay crossed in an

Mahon

in

Minorca

rather risky trip,

as the youths, with their love of adventure,

made it by night,
letter

and were overtaken on the way by an alarming thunderstorm.


Whilst in Minorca Lord John received a
father,

from

his

informing him of the death of his old friend General

Fitzpatrick,

and
of

also stating that the

Duke meant

to use

his influence at Tavistock to obtain for his son a seat in

the

House

Commons.

'

He

immediately flew home,'


'

re-

marks

his friend

Mr. Bridgeman,

on what wings

know
those
as

not, but I

suppose on those of

political ambition.'

The Duke's nomination rendered


Lord John
stock, in
set

his election in

days of pocket-boroughs a foregone conclusion.


foot in

As soon

England he was greeted with the


for Tavi-

tidings that he

had already been elected member


of

and

so began, at the age of one-and-twenty, a career

the

House
fifty

Commons which was

destined to last for

nearly

years.

21

CHAPTER
IN

II

PARLIAMENT AND FOR THE PEOPLE


1813-1826

The

political
'

outlook

when

Loi'd

The

John entered the House of Commons


'

Condition of England

question

liamentary

Napoleon Bonaparte The Liverpool Administration in a panic Lord John conies to the aid of Sir Francis Burdett Foreign travel First motion in favour of Reform Making headway
on

Reform

Side-lights

The

struggle

for Par-

Lord Liverpool was


commenced

at the

head of

affairs

when Lord John


lasted until the

Russell entered Parliament.


in the previous

His long tenure of power had

summer, and

it

Premier was struck down by serious

illness in the

opening

weeks of 1827.
was a
'

In Lord John's opinion, Lord Liverpool

man

of honest but narrow views,' and he probably

would have endorsed the cynical description of him as the


'

keystone rather than the capital


at

'

of his

own

Cabinet.
Sid-

Lord Castlereagh was

the Foreign Office,

Lord

mouth was

Home

Secretary, Mr. Vansittart Chancellor of


at

the Exchequer,

Lord Palmerston Secretary


for

War, and
outlook

Mr. Peel Secretary

Ireland.

The

political

on

all

sides was gloomy and menacing.


in

The absorbing
moodily
'

subject

Parliament was war and the sinews of war


its

whilst outside

walls hard-pressed taxpayers were

speculating on the probable figures in the nation's


bill.'

glory

The two
battle

years'

war with America was

in

progress.

The

between the

Shannon

and

the

Chesapeake


22
was
still

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


the talk of the hour
;

but there seemed just then


still

no prospect of peace.
dictatorship
to

Napoleon

struggled

for

the

of Europe,

and Englishmen were wondering


in the

what extent they would have to share

attempt

to foil his ambition.

The

Peninsular campaign was costly


;

enough
for

to the British taxpayer

but his chagrin vanished


Wellington's
victories

the

moment,

at

least

when

appealed to his pride.

Since the beginning of the century

the attention of Parliament and people had been directed

mainly to foreign
standstill.

affairs.

Domestic

legislation

was

at a

With one important exception

an

Act

for the

Abolition of the Slave Trade


apart from military matters

scarcely any measure of note,


far as
it

and international questions, had


was supposed

passed the House of

Commons.
to

Parliamentary government, so

be representative

of the

people,

was a delusion.

The

number of members returned by private patronage for England and Wales amounted to more than three hundred. It was publicly asserted, and not without an appeal to statistics, that one hundred and fifty-four persons, great and
small, actually returned

no

less

than three hundred and

seven members to the House of


tion in the

Commons.
worthy scale

Representain the reign

boroughs was on a
it

less

of George IH. than


genets,

had been

in the days of the Plantain the fran-

and whatever changes had been made

chise since the Tudors had been

to the advantage of the

privileged rather than to that of the people.

Parliament was
gates sent

little

more than an assembly of

dele-

by large landowners.

Ninety members were

returned by forty- six places in which there were less than


fifty

electors

and

seventy

members were

returned

by
all.

thirty-five places

containing scarcely any electors at

FALLEN BOROUGHS AND FANCY PRICES


Places such as Old
a few ruins

^3

Sarum

consisting
;

of a

mound and

returned

two members

whilst Manchester,

Leeds, and Birmingham, in spite of their great populations,

and

in spite, too, of

keen

political

intelligence

and

far-

reaching commercial activity, were not yet judged worthy


of the least voice in
lay in
affairs.

At Gatton the

right of election

the hands of freeholders and householders paying


lot
;

scot

and

but the only elector was Lord Monson,

who

returned two members.


at a fancy price

Many

of the boroughs were bought

by

men

ambitious to enter Parliament

method which seems, however, to have had the advantage of economy when the cost of some of the elections is taken
into

account.

An
1807,

election for

Northampton

cost the two

candidates
Lascelles,

30,000/.
in

each,

whilst

Lord Milton and Mr.

spent between

them
of

200,000/.

at

contested election for the county of York.

Bribery
wholesale,

and and

corruption

were

course

practised

publicans

fleeced

politicians

and made

fortunes out of the pockets of aspirants for Westminster.

In the

'

People's

Book

'

an instance

is

cited of the

way
a

some borough
large

elections were 'managed.'

'The patron of

town

in

Ireland,

finding,

on the approach of an
his interest,

election, that opposition

was to be made to

marched a regiment of
rea,

soldiers into the place

from Lough-

where they were quartered, and caused them to be

elected freemen.
his
friend,

These
was,

military freemen

then voted for


!

who

of

course,

returned

'

Inequality,

inadequacy, unreality, corruption


traits

these

were the leading


of

of the

House of Commons.

The House

Commons

no more represented the people of the United Kingdom


than the parish council of
Little

Peddleton mirrors the

mind

of Europe.


24

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


The
statute-book was disfigured by excessive penalities.
libel,

Men
cattle

were put in the pillory for perjury,

and the

like.

Forgers, robbers, incendiaries, poachers,

and mutilators of

were sent to the gallows.


sections

Ignorance and brutality


of the people both
classes, in

prevailed amongst large

in

town and country, and the privileged


vulgar ostentation and the parade

spite of
set

of fine

manners,
Yet,

them an
the

evil

example

in

both directions.

though
of

Church of England had no

vision of the needs

the people and no voice for their wrongs, the great wave of religious
field
life

which had followed the preaching of Whitits force,

and Wesley had not spent


it

nor was

it

destined

to

do so before
under

had awakened
servitude

in the multitude a spirit

of quickened intelligence and self-respect which


restive
political

made them
Education,

and

in the presence of

acknowledged

but

unredressed
efforts of a

grievances.

through the disinterested

group of philanthropists,
degree, at least

was, moreover, beginning


to leaven the

in

some slight

mass of ignorance

in the country, the

power

of the press was

making

itself felt,

and other agencies were


dramatic overthrow of
'

also beginning to dispel the old apathy born of despair.

The French
tyranny and
Fraternity,'

Revolution, with

its

its

splendid watchword,
its

Liberty,

Equality,

made

own appeal
it

to the

hope

as well as the

imagination of the English people, although the sanguinary


incidents which

marked

retarded the

movement for Reform


Reformers into

in England, and as a matter of

fact sent the

the wilderness for the space of forty years.

More than

a quarter of a century before the birth of


to carry

Lord John Russell, who was destined Reform Bill through the House of

the

first

Commons,

Lord

Chatham had not

hesitated

to

denounce the borough

'FRIENDS OF THE PEOPLE'

25

representation of the country as the 'rotten part of our


constitution,' which,

he

said,

resembled a mortified Kmb;


'

and he had added the


it

significant words,

If

it

does not drop,

must be amputated.'

He

held that

it

was useless to look


in little pocket-

for the strength

and vigour of the constitution

boroughs, and that the nation ought rather to rely on the


'great
cities

and

counties.'

Fox, in a debate in

1796,

declared that peace could never be secured until the Constitution

was amended.

He
;

added

'
:

The

voice of the

representatives of the people must prevail over the executive

ministers

of the

Crown

the people must be restored to


fell

their just rights.'

These warnings

unheeded, until the

strain of long-continued war,

bad

harvests, harsh poor laws,

and exorbitant taxes on the


goad the people
Wilkes,
Pitt,

necessities of hfe conspired to

to the verge of

open

rebellion.

Burdett, Cartwright,

and Grey, again and

again returned to the charge, only to find, however, that the

strongholds of privilege were not easily overthrown.


1792, in which, by a noteworthy coincidence,

The year

Lord John

Russell was born, was rendered memorable in the history of


a

movement with which

his

name

will
'

always be associated

by the formation of the society of the Friends of the People,' an influential association which had its place of meeting at
the Freemasons' Tavern.

Amongst
first

its first

members were

Mr.

Lambton
Sir

(father

of the

Earl of Durham),

Mr
Mr.

(afterwards

James) Mackintosh,
Erskine,

Mr.

Sheridan,

(afterwards Lord)

Mr. Charles (afterwards Earl)

Grey, and

more than twenty other members of Parliament.

In the following year Mr. Grey brought forward the celebrated petition of the Friends of the People in the
of

House

Commons.

It

exposed

the abuses of the existing elec-

toral

system and presented a powerful argument for Par-


26
liamentary

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Reform.

He moved

that the
'

petition should
'

be referred to the consideration


Pitt, in spite

of a committee

but

of his

own measure on
'

the subject in 1785,

was now kikewarm about Reform, and accordingly opposed This is not a time,' as inopportune such an inquiry.
' '

were his words,


spirit
'

'

to
in

make hazardous
his view,

experiments.'

The

of anarchy,

was abroad, and Burke's


increased the

Reflections,'

had of course

panic of the
141

moment.

Although Grey pressed the motion, only


supported
it,

members

and though four years


on the

later

he

moved

for leave to bring in a bill

subject, justice
far as

and common sense were again over-ridden, and, so

Parliament was concerned, the question slept until 1809,

when

Sir Francis

Burdett revived the agitation.


of the stamp of

Meanwhile,

men

Home

Tooke, William

Cobbett, Hone,

'Orator' Hunt, and Major Cartwright

brother of Lord John Russell's tutor at Woburn, and the


originator of the popular cry,
'

One man, one

vote

'

were

in

various ways keeping the question steadily before the minds


of the people.
ciations were

Hampden
also
to

Clubs and other democratic asso-

springing
the

up

in various

parts

of the

country,

sometimes

advantage of demagogues of

damaged reputation
popular cause.
represented

rather than to the

advancement of the
said to have
re-

Sir Francis

Burdett

may be

the Reformers in

Parliament during the

mainder of the reign of George HI., though,

just as the old

order was changing. Earl Grey, in 181 9, pubUcly renewed his

connection with the question, and pledged himself to support

any sound and judicious measure which promised to deal


effectively with

known

abuses.

In spite of the apathy of

Parliament and the sullen opposition of the privileged classes


to all projects of the kind,

whether great or small, sweeping

LORD JOHN'S MAIDEN SPEECH

2/

or partial, the question was slowly ripening in the public

mind.

Sydney Smith

in

1819 declared,

'

think

all

wise

men
shall
7iiust

should begin to turn their minds Reformwards.

We
it

do

it

better than Mr.

Hunt

or Mr. Cobbett.

Done

and will be.'

In the following year Lord John Russell,

at the

age of twenty-eight, became identified with the question

of Parliamentary Reform by bringing before the

House

of

Commons

a measure for the redress of certain scandalous

grievances, chiefly at

Grampound.

When Lord

John's Par-

liamentary career began, George

HL

was hopelessly

mad

and

blind, and, as
affairs,

if

to heighten the depressing aspect of

pubHc
to the

the scandalous conduct of his sons was strain-

ing to the breaking-point the loyalty of

men

of intelligence

Throne.
in

Lord John's maiden speech


against

Parliament was directed


to

the proposal of
its

the Liverpool Administration

enforce

views in regard to the union of

Norway and

Sweden.

It

escaped the attention of ParHamentary reporters


oblivion.

and has passed into


ever, give a brief

The pages of

'

Hansard,' how-

predecessor,

summary of his next speech, which, hke its was on the side of liberty. It was delivered on

July 14, 1814, in opposition to the second reading of the

Alien Acts, which in spite of such a protest quickly became


law.

His comments were concise and

characteristic.

'He
;

considered the Act to be one which was very liable to abuse.

The

present time was that which least called for

it

and
it

Ministers, in bringing forward the measure

now because

had been necessary


'

before,

reminded him of the unfortunate

wag mentioned in Joe


ing the
first

Miller,'

who was
it

so fond of rehearsing

a joke that he always repeated

at the

wrong

time.'

Dur-

months of

his

Parliamentary experience Lord


Grillion's Club,

John was elected a member of

which had

28
been eetablished
viously,

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


in

Bond

Street about twelve

months

pre-

and which became


of light
basis.

in after-years a favourite

haunt

of

many men
parties

and

leading.

It

was founded on a

somewhat novel
Tory
was

Leading members of the Whig and


Political discussion
life

met

for social purposes.

strictly

tabooed, and nothing but the amenities of

were cultivated.

In after-years the club became to Lord


it

John

Russell, as

has

also

been to many distinguished

politicians,

welcome haven from the turmoil of West-

minster.

Delicate health in the

autumn quickened Lord John's

desire to rene.w the pleasures of foreign travel.


ingly

He

accordin the

went by sea to

Italy,

and arrived

at

Leghorn

opening days of December.

He

was

still

wandering

in

Southern Europe when Parliament reassembled, and the

Christmas Eve of that year was rendered memorable to

him by an interview with Napoleon

in exile at Elba.
it

Through the kindness of Lady Russell


in her husband's handwriting,

is

possible

here to quote from an old-fashioned leather-bound volume

which gives a detailed account


1

of the incidents of his Italian tour in

814-15, and of his

conversation on this occasion with the banished despot of

Europe.

Part of what follows has already been published


it

by Mr. Walpole, but much of


in the privacy of

has remained for eighty years

Lord John's own notebook, from the faded


it

pages of which

is

now

transcribed

'

Napoleon was

dressed in a green coat, with a hat in his hand, very


as he
I
is

much

painted

but, excepting the resemblance of dress,


his portrait.

had a very mistaken idea of him from


is

He

appears very short, which


fat,

partly

owing

to his being very

his

hands and legs being quite swollen and unwieldy.

That makes him appear awkward, and not unlike the

A GLIMPSE OF NAPOLEON
whole-length figure of Gibbon the historian.

29
Besides
this,

instead of the bold-marked countenance that I

expected,

he has

fat

cheeks and rather a turn-up nose, which, to

bring in another historian,

makes the shape of

his face

resemble the portraits of

Hume.

He

has a dusky grey eye,

which would be called vicious in a horse, and the shape of


his
is

mouth
its

expresses contempt

and

decision.

His manner

very good-natured, and seems studied to put one at one's


familiarity
;

ease by able
;

his smile

and laugh are very agreeno doubt, acquired

he asks a number of questions without object, and

often repeats them, a habit which he has,

during fifteen years of supreme command.

me

about

my

family, the allowance

ran into debt, drank, played, &c.

He began asking my father gave me, if I He asked me if I had

been
sition.

in Spain,
I

and

if

was not imprisoned by the Inqui-

told

him

that I

had seen the abohtion of the


in

Inquisition voted,

and of the injudicious manner

which

it

was done.*

Napoleon

told

Lord John that Ferdinand was


and

in the

hands

of the priests. Spain, like Italy, he added, was a fine country,


especially Andalusia
Seville.

Lord John admitted


'

this,

but spoke of the uncultivated nature of the land.


ture,'

Agriculis

rephed Napoleon,

'

is
'

neglected because the land

in

the hands of the Church.'


his visitor.

And

of the grandees,' suggested


privileges

'Yes,'

was the answer, 'who have

contrary to the public prosperity.'

he thought the
perty

evil

Napoleon added that might be remedied by divided prohurtful


privileges, as

and abolishing
Afterwards
the Cortes,
of the

was done in
questions

France.

Napoleon

asked

many

about

many

and when Lord John told him that members made good speeches on abstract
any practical debate on

questions, but they failed jvhen

30
finance
'

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


or war

took

place,

Napoleon

drily

remarked

Oui, faute de I'habitude de gouverner.'


to

Presently the talk


it

drifted
thither.

Wellington, or rather Napoleon adroitly led

He

described the

man who had

driven the "French


if

out of Spain as a 'grand chasseur,' and asked


liked Paris.

Wellington

added

that

Lord John replied that he thought not, and Wellington had said that he should find himself
what to do
in time of peace, as

much

at a loss as to

he

seemed

scarcely

to like anything but war.


'

Whereupon
jeu,

Napoleon exclaimed,
occupation.'

La guerre

est

un grand

une belle

He

expressed his surprise that England should


to Paris,
'

have sent the

Duke

and he added, evidently with

a touch of bitterness,
ete battu.'

On

n'aime pas I'homme par qui on a

The Emperor's great


are
'
:

anxiety

seemed

to

be

to get reliable

tidings of the condition of France.

Lord John's own words


Florence
I

He

inquired

if I

had seen

at

many

English-

men who came from


Holland, he asked
if

there,

and when

mentioned Lord

he thought things went well with the


answered in the negative he seemed
if

Bourbons.
delighted,

When

and asked

Lord Holland thought they would

be able to stay

there.'

On

this point

Lord John was not

able to satisfy him,


that the

and Napoleon
and

said that he understood

Bourbons had neglected the Englishmen who had

treated

them

well in England,

particularly the
their

Duke

ot

Buckingham, and he condemned Lord John suggested that the Bourbons were
brushed
this aside

lack of gratitude.
afraid to

be

thought to be dependent on the English, but Napoleon

by asserting that the English

in general

were very well received.


his wish to

In a mocking tone he expressed


attached to
course, just

the

know whether the army was much Bourbons. The Vienna Congress was, of

napoleon's prediction about INDIA

then in progress, and Napoleon showed himself nothing


loth to talk about
it.

He

said

'

The Powers

will disagree,

but they

will

not go to war.'

He

spoke of the Regent's

conduct to the Princess as very impolitic, and he added that


it

shocked the bienseances by the observance of which

his

father

George HI. had become so popular.

He

declared

that our struggle with

America was 'une guerre de ven-

geance,' as the frontier question could not possibly be of

any importance.
riority of

According to Napoleon, the great supeto

England

France lay

in her aristocracy.

Napoleon

stated that he

had intended

to create a

new

aristocracy in France by marrying his officers to the daughters

of the old nobility,

and he added that he had reserved a fund


found these

from the contributions which he levied when he made


treaties with Austria, Prussia, &c., in order to

new
'

families.

Speaking of some of the naval engagements,


fault with the

he found great

French admiral who fought

the battle of the Nile, and pointed out what he ought to

have done

but he found most fault with the admiral


fleet,

who
any

fought Sir R. Calder for not disabhng his


that
if

and said

he could have got the Channel

clear then, or at

other time, he would have invaded England.'

Talleyrand,

he declared, had advised the war with Spain, and Napoleon


also

made

out that he had prevented

Due
if

d'Enghien.

Spain ought to

him from saving the have been conquered, and


England would
in this

Napoleon declared that he would have gone there himself


the war with Russia had not occurred.
far,

repent of bringing the Russians so

and he added
will

connection the remarkable words, 'They


of India.'

deprive her

After lingering for a while in Vienna, Florence,

Naples, and other

cities,

Rome, Lord John returned home by way

32
of Germany,

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


and on June
5

he spoke in Parliament against

the renewal of hostilities.


in

He was one of the

small minority

Parliament

who

refused to regard Napoleon's flight from

Elba as a

sufficient casus belli.

Counsels of peace, however,


likely to prevail,

were naturally just then not


ton's victory

and Wellingwhen,

a fortnight later falsified Lord John's fears.

He

did not speak again until

February 1816,

in

seconding an amendment to the Address, he protested


against the continuance of the income-tax as a calamity to

the country.

He

pointed out

that,

although there had been

repeated victories abroad, prosperity at

home had

vanished;

that farmers could not pay their rents nor landlords their

taxes

and

that everybody
felt

who was

not paid out of the

pubhc purse
later

that prosperity was gone.

few weeks

he opposed the Army Estimates, contending that a standfriend of his

army of 150,000 men 'must alarm every country and its constitution.'
ing
It

was probably owing

in a

measure to the hopelessness

of the situation, but also partly to ill-health, that Lord John

absented himself to a great extent from Parliament.


was, in truth, chagrined at the course of affairs

He

and discou-

raged with his


for a

own

prospects,

and

in

consequence he lapsed

time into the position of a silent

of

Commons.
Wheat

Meanwhile, the
in

member of the House summer of 18 16 was wet


consequence a disastrous

and cold and the harvest was


failure.

rose

to

1035'.

a quarter,

and bread

riots

broke out in the Eastern Counties.

-The Luddites, who


manufacturing towns

commenced breaking up machinery


in 181 in
1,

in

again committed great excesses.

Tumults occurred
in

London, and the Prince Regent was insulted


on
his return

the

streets

from opening Parliament.

The

Liverpool Cabinet gave way to panic, and quickly

PANIC-STRICKEN AUTHORITY
resorted to extreme

33

measures.

secret

committee was

appointed in each House to investigate the causes of the


disaffection of a portion of his Majesty's subjects.
bills

Four

were, as the result of their deliberations, swiftly intro-

duced and passed through Parliament.


penalties for decoying sailors
pitiful

The
;

first

enacted

and

soldiers

the second was a


it

exhibition of lack of

confidence, for

aimed
;

at

special measures for the protection of the Prince

Regent

the

third furnished magistrates with unusual powers for the pre-

vention of seditious meetings

and the fourth suspended the


giving the Executive autho-

Habeas Corpus Act


rity 'to

till

July

i,

secure and detain such persons as his Majesty shall

suspect are conspiring against his person and Government.'

The measures
the

of the

Government

filled

Lord John

with indignation, and he assailed the proposal to suspend

Habeas Corpus Act

in a vigorous speech,

which showed

conclusively that his sympathies wei^e on the side of the

weak and
not

distressed classes of the

community.
the

'

had

intended,'

he

said,

'to

trouble

House with

any observations of mine during the present session of


ParHament.
resolve

Indeed, the state of

my

health induced

me

to

upon

quitting the fatiguing business of this

House
atis

altogether.

But he must have no ordinary mind whose

tention

is

not roused in a singular manner

when

it

pro-

posed to suspend the rights and Kberties of Englishmen,

though even

for a short period.

am

determined, for

my

own

part,

that

no weakness of frame, no indisposition of

body, shall prevent

my protesting against the most

dangerous

precedent which this House ever made.


I

We
the

talk

much

think,

a great deal too


I

much of

wisdom of our

ancestors.
ancestors.

wish

we could

imitate the courage of our

They

w^ere not ready to lay their liberties at the

34
foot of the

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Crown upon
every vain or imaginary alarm.'
give,

He

begged the majority not to

by the adoption of

a policy of coercion, the opponents of law and order the

opportunity of saying,
all

'

When we
the

ask for redress you refuse


for protection

innovation

when
code.'

Crown asks

you
was
as a

sanction a

new

All protests, as usual, were thrown away,

and the

bill

passed.

Lord John resumed

his

literary tasks,

and

matter of fact only once addressed the


of the next two years.

House

in the course

He

repeatedly declared his intention


litera-

of entirely giving up politics and devoting his time to


ture

and

travel.

Many
little

friends urged
'

him

to relinquish such

an

idea.

Moore's poetical

Remonstrance,' which gladdened

Lord John not a

at the

moment,

is

so well

known
:

that

we need

scarcely quote

more than the

closing lines
;

Thus

gifted, thou never canst sleep in the

If the stirring of genius, the

shade music of fame.

the charm of thy cause have not power to persuade, Yet think how to freedom thou'rt pledged by thy name. Like the boughs of that laurel, by Delphi's decree Set apart for the fane and its service divine, All the branches that spring from the old Russell tree

And

Are by Liberty claimed

for the use of her shrine.'

Lord John's
considerable.

literary labours

began

at this

time to be

He

also enlarged his

knowledge of the world

by giving

free play to his love of foreign travel.

A
it

general election occurred in the

summer

of 1818, and
still

proved that
majority.

though the Tories were weakened they

had a
in

Lord John, with

his uncle

Lord William
Public affairs

Russell, were, however, returned for Tavistock.

1819 were of a kind to draw him from his retirement, and


it

as a matter of fact
to attract

was

in that year that his speeches

began

more than passing

notice.

He

spoke

briefly in

FEELING HIS WAY


favour of reducing the

35

number of the Lords of the Admiralty, advocated an inquiry into domestic and foreign policy, protested against the surrender of the

coast of Epirus, to the Turks,


against the prevailing bribery

town of Parga, on the and made an energetic speech


of that year was also

and corruption which disgraced

contested elections.

The summer

rendered memorable in Lord John's career by his first speech on Parliamentary Reform. In July, Sir Francis Burdett,
undeterred by previous overwhelming defeats, brought forward his usual sweeping motion demanding universal suffrage,
equal electoral
districts,

vote by ballot, and annual Parlia-

ments.

Lord John's

criticism

fore characteristic.

He

was level-headed, and therehad little sympathy with extreme


it

measures, and he knew, moreover, that


useless but injurious to the cause of
at

was not merely


to urge

Reform

them

such a moment.

The

opposition was too powerful and


the nature of an idea to

too impervious to anything in

give such proposals just then the least chance of success.

Property meant to fight hard for


great landowners looked

its

privileges,

and the

upon

their

pocket-boroughs as a

goodly heritage as well as a rightful appanage of rank and

As for the great unrepresented towns, they were regarded as hot-beds of sedition, and therefore the people were to be kept in their place, and that meant without a voice in the affairs of the nation. The close corporations
wealth.

and the corrupt boroughs were meanwhile dismissed with a


shrug of the shoulders or a laugh of scorn.

Lord John was


former, but
it

as yet

by no means a

full-fledged

Re-

was something

in those days for a duke's

of progress.

son to take sides, even in a modified way, with the party His speech represented the views not so

much

of the multitude as of the middle classes.

They
D 2

36
were alarmed

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


at the truculent violence of
;

mob

orators

up and
for the

down

the country

their

fund of inherited reverence

aristocracy was as yet scarcely diminished.

They had their

own dread
from their

of spoliation,
fright

and they had not quite recovered over the French Revolution. They were
it

law abiding, moreover, and the blood and treasure which

had cost the nation


thousands of them the
possibly

to

crush

Napoleon had allayed

in

thirst for glory,

and turned them

into

humdrum

but very sincere lovers of peace.

Lord

man in his strength and in his limitations, and men of cautious commonsense everywhere rejoiced that the young Whig who was
John's speech was an appeal to the average

liked

none the

less

by farmer and shopkeeper because


struck the nail exactly

he was a lord

had

on the head.
was

The growth of Lord John's influence watched at Woburn with keen interest.
at

in Parliament
'

have had a good

deal of conversation,' wrote the Duke, 'with old Tierney

Cassiobury about you.

...

I find with pleasure that


;

he

has a very high opinion of your debating powers


if

and

says,

you

will stick to

one branch of
field,

politics

and not range

over too desultory a

you may become eminently useful


of

and conspicuous
I

in

the

House

Commons.

The
civil

line

should recommend

for

your selection would be that of


politics

foreign politics,

and

all

home

bearing on
. .

and

religious liberty a pretty

wide range.

.'

As soon

as the

end of the session brought a

respite
for the

from his Parliamentary duties Lord John started


Continent with Moore the poet.

The author

of 'Lalla

Rookh was
'

at that

moment

struggling, after the

manner of
failure of

the majority of poets at any moment, with the three-headed

monster pounds,
his

shillings,
official

and pence, through the


appointment
at

deputy in an

Bermuda.

The

MADAME DURAZZO
poet's journal contains

37

many

allusions to

Lord John, and


4,

the following passage from

it,

speaks for
at seven
;

itself

'Set off

dated September

181 9,

with Lord John in his carriage

breakfasted and arrived at Dover to dinner at


;

seven o'clock

the journey very agreeable.

and sensible
correcting
orders,

took off Talma

very

Lord John mild Mentioned well.


;

Buonaparte having instructed Talma in the part of Nero

him

for being

in

such a bustle in giving his


to

and

telling

him they ought

be given calmly,
After a

as

coming from a person used

to sovereignty.^

fortnight in Paris the travellers

went on

to Milan,

where
visit

they parted

company, Moore going

to Venice to

Byron, and Lord John to acquaintance with

Genoa, to renew a pleasant


Durazzo, an
Italian lady of

Madame

rank

who was

at

one time well known

in English society.

Madame Durazzo was

a quick-witted

and accomplished
There
is

woman, and her vivacious and sympathetic nature was


hardly less remarkable than her personal charm.

evidence enough that she

made

a considerable impression

upon the young English statesman, who, indeed, wrote a


sonnet about her.
Italians
is

Lord John's

verdict

on

Italy

and the

pithily

expressed in a hitherto unpublished


:

extract

from his journal

'

Italy

is

a delightful country for


art,

a traveller

every town

full

of the finest specimens of

even now, and many marked by remains of antiquity near

one

another

all

different.

Easy

travelling,

books
can a

in

plenty, living

cheap and tolerably good


little

what
Italy
;

man

wish for but a

grace and good taste in dress amongst


science

women

Men

of

abound
at

in

the

Papal

Government discouraged them


^

Rome

but the country


Edited

Memoirs^ Journal^ and Correspondence of Thomas Moore. by the Right Hon. Lord John Russell, M.P.


38

'

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

cannot be said to be behind the world in knowledge.


Poets, too, are plenty
;

never read their verses.'

Meanwhile, the condition of England was becoming


critical.

Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, and other great


filled

towns were

with angry discontent, and turbulent mass

meetings of the people were held to protest against any


further neglect of their just
tion.

demands

for political representa-

Major Cartwright advised these great unrepresented


'

communities to send a petition

in the

form of a

living

man

instead of one on parchment or paper,' so that he might


state in

unmistakable terms their demands to the Speaker.

Sir Charles Wolseley, a Staffordshire baronet

and a

friend

of Burdett, was elected with a great flourish of trumpets at

Birmingham
mined

to act in this capacity,

and Manchester and on August

deter-

also to send a representative,

i6, 1819,

a great open-air meeting was called to give effect to this


resolution.

The multitude were


'

dispersed by the military,

and readers of Bamford's


will

Passages in the Life of a Radical

remember

his graphic

and detailed description of the

scene of tumult and bloodshed which followed, and which


is

known

as the Peterloo Massacre.


'

The carnage
'
:

inspired

Shelley's magnificent
. . .

Mask

of Anarchy

And

her

One fled past, a maniac maid, name was Hope, she said
:

But she looked more

like Despair,
:

And
'

she cried out in the air

My father Time is weak and grey With waiting for a better day.'
In those days Parliament did not
sit

in

August, and the

members of the Cabinet were not at hand when the crisis arose. The Prince Regent expressed his approbation of the
conduct of the magistrates of Manchester as well as of that

OIL
of the officers

AND VINEGAR
cavalry,

39
whose firmness and
in giving its

and troops of the

effectual support of the civil

power preserved the peace of


no time

the town.

The Cabinet

also lost

em-

phatic support to the high-handed action of the Lancashire


magistrates,

and Major Cartwright and other leaders of

the popular

movement became
into
political

the

heroes of the hour

because the Liverpool Administration was foolish enough


to turn

them

martyrs by prosecuting them

on

the

charge

of

sedition.

Lord

John

at

this

crisis

received several letters urging his return

home

immediately.

That

his

influence was already regarded as of


is

some imSir

portance

evident from

the terms
'

in

which

James

Mackintosh addressed him.

You are more wanted than any-

body, not only for general service, but because your Reform

must be immediately brought forward


act of the party, but at
all

if

possible, as the
all

Reformers.'

Writing to
says
'
:

Whig Moore from Genoa on November 9,


events as the creed of

Lord

John

Mackintosh has written

am me
;

just

setting

off

for

London.
I

an

oily letter, to
I

which

have

answered by a vinegar one


in acerbity.'

but

want you to keep

me up

Soon

after
'

Parliament met, the famous Six Acts


'

usually

termed the

Gagging Acts

were

passed, though not with-

out strenuous opposition.

These measures were intended

to hinder delay in the administration of justice in the case

of misdemeanour, to prevent the training of persons to the

use of arms, to enable magistrates to seize and detain arms,


to prevent seditious meetings,

and

to bring to
libels.^

punishment

the authors of blasphemous and seditious of

No meeting

more than

fifty

people was to be held without six days'


;

notice to a magistrate
to

only freeholders or inhabitants were


;

be allowed even to attend

and adjournments were

for-

40
bidden.

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


The time and
flags

place of meeting were,

if

deemed
and no
of

advisable, to be

changed by the

local authorities,

banners or

were to be displayed.

The wisdom

Lord Eldon, the patriotism of Lord Castlereagh, and the


panic of Lord Sidmouth were responsible for these tyrannical enactments.

On December

14

Lord John brought

forward his

first

resolutions in favour of Reform.

He

pro-

posed

(i) that all

boroughs in which gross and notorious

bribery and corruption should be proved to prevail should

cease to return

members
(3) that

to Parliament

(2) that the right so

taken away should be given to some great town or to the


largest counties
;

it is

the duty of the

House

to con-

sider of further
in

means

to detect
;

and

to prevent corruption
it

Parliamentary elections

(4)

that

is

expedient that

the borough of

Castlereagh

Grampound should be disfranchised. Even complimented him on the manner in which he


that, if

had introduced the question, and undertook

Lord

John would withdraw the resolutions and bring in a bill to disfranchise Grampound, he would not oppose the proposition,

and

to

this

arrangement Lord John consented.

Shortly

before

the dissolution of Parliament, consequent


in

upon the death of the King,


obtained leave to bring in a
writs to the corrupt

January 1820, Lord John


suspending the issue of

bill for

boroughs of Penryn, Camelford, Gram-

pound, and Barnstaple.

But the alarm occasioned by the

Cato Street Conspiracy threw back the movement and

awakened

all

the old prejudices against even the slightest

concession.

At the general
for the

election of 1820

Lord John was returned

county of Huntingdon.
to

John returned

the

charge,

As soon as possible Lord and brought forward his


to

measure for dealing with

Grampound and

transfer the

THE

'FIRST
to

GENTLEMAN OF EUROPE'
the
at

41

right of voting

Leeds,

franchise
5/.
'

to

be given to
In
:

occupiers
his
'

of

houses

rated

and
a

upwards.

'

Recollections
a view to

and Suggestions
work

Lord

John says

With

my way

to

change,
toil

not by

eloquence
plain

for

had none
facts,

but

by patient

and a

statement of

brought before the House of


I

Commons
solicitors

the case of

Grampound.

obtained an inquiry,

and, with the assistance of Mr. Charles

Wynn,

forced the

employed
:

in bribery to reveal the secrets of their


;

employers
Whilst

the case was clear

the borough was convicted.'

the

debate

was

proceeding

Queen

Caroline

arrived in

England from the Continent, and was received


popular enthusiasm.
Hostile measures were at
against her,

with

much

once taken in the House of

Commons
all

and
to

though the despicable proceedings


nought, they effectually stopped
question of Reform for the time being.

eventually

came

further discussion of the

Like Canning and Brougham, Lord John took the side of


the injured Queen, and he drew up a petition to George IV.

begging him to end the further consideration of the

Bill ot

Pains and Penalties against Caroline by proroguing Parlia-

ment.

Such a request was


and

entirely

thrown away on a

man

of

the character of George IV., for the

King was bent on a policy


honour of a woman was
'

of

mean revenge
'

as only the

concerned, the

first

gentleman of Europe

found the Liver-

pool Administration obsequious enough to do his bidding.

When at length public


against the
rejoicings

opinion prevailed and the proceedings


in

Queen were withdrawn

November, and whilst


in

and illuminations were going on


January.

London

at the

Queen's deliverance. Lord John went to


there
in his
till

Paris,

remaining

Moore was

in Paris,

and he was much


time between

company, and divided the

rest of his

42
literature

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


and
society.

He

wrote his

now

forgotten novel,

'The Nun
in Paris.

of Arrouca,' during the six weeks which he spent

Frenchman,

visiting the poet,

'

lamented that
advantage in

his friend

Lord John showed


his

to

so

little

society

from

extreme taciturnity, and

still

more from
is

his apparent coldness

and

indifference to

what

said

by

others.

Several here to

whom

he was introduced had been

much

disappointed in consequence of this manner.'


Blessington,

who was at that time living abroad, states that Lord John pame and dined with herself and the Earl, and the comments of so beautiful and accomplished a
Lady

woman
'

of fashion

are at least worthy of passing record.

Lord John was in better health and spirits than when I remember him in England. He is exceedingly well read, and
has a quiet dash of humour, that renders his observations
very amusing.

When

the reserve peculiar to

him

is

thawed,

he can be very agreeable.

Good

sense, a considerable

power

of discrimination, a highly cultivated mind, a great equality of temper, are the characteristics of Lord John Russell, and
these peculiarly
fit

him

for taking a distinguished part in

public

life.'

Lady Blessington adds

that the only obstacle,

in her opinion, to

reserve of his

Lord John's success lays in the natural to think manners, which might lead people
'

him cold and


only those

proud.'

This

is

exactly what happened,

and

who knew Lord John


frigid

intimately were aware of

the delicate consideration for others which lurked beneath


his

somewhat

demeanour.
bill

Early in the year 1821 Lord John reintroduced his


for the

disfranchisement of Grampound.

Several

amend-

ments were proposed, and one, brought forward by Mr.


Stuart Wortley, limiting the right to vote to 20/. householders,

was

carried.

Thereupon Lord John declined

to take further

HALF A LOAF OR NO BREAD


charge of the measure.

43

After being altered and pruned by

both Houses the


'

bill

was passed,

in spite of

Lord Eldon,
'

with tears and

doleful predictions,' urging the peers

to resist

this first turn of the

helm towards the whirlpool of demoto


exist as a

cracy.'

Grampound ceased

Parliamentary

borough, and the county of York gained

two members.
bill

Although Lord John supported the amended


principle
that half a loaf
is

on
he

the
at

better than
'

no bread

the same time announced that

in a future session

he pro-

posed to

call attention to

the claims of large towns to send

members
in his

to this House.'

He
'

was determined to do
'

all

power

to deprive what he termed the

dead bones

of a former state of England

of political influence, and to


'

give representation to what he termed the

living energy

and
its

industry of the England of the nineteenth century, with

steam-engines and
its

its factories, its


its

cotton and woollen cloths,


its

cutlery

and

its

coal-mines,

wealth and

intelligence.'

Whilst the

bill

about Grampound was being

discussed

by the Lords he took further action

in this direction,

and

presented four resolutions for the discovery and punishment


of bribery, the disfranchisement of corrupt boroughs,

and the

enfranchisement of wealthy and populous towns.

On

division his proposals were defeated by thirty-one votes


in a

House

of 279 members,
result

and

this,

under

all

the circum-

stances,

was a better

than he expected.
tested the feeling of

On

April 25, 1822,

Lord John again


'

Parliament with his motion

that the present state of the

representation requires serious consideration.' In the course


of a speech of three hours he startled the

House by

pro-

posing that 100


that the

new members should be added,

and, in order

Commons

should not be overcrowded, he added

another resolution, to the effect that a similar number of

44

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


member
in

the small boroughs should be represented by one


instead of two.

Mr. Canning opposed such a scheme, but


ability
'
:

complimented Lord John on the


its

he had displayed

advocacy, and then added

That the noble lord

will

carry his motion this evening I have


talents
(I

no

fear

but with the

which he has shown himself to possess, and with


a long and brilliant career of Parliawill,

sincerely hope)

mentary distinction before him, he


his efforts hereafter.
If,

no doubt, renew
if

however, he shall persevere, and


if

his perseverance shall

be successful, and

the results of

that success shall be such as I cannot help apprehending,


his

be the triumph

to

have precipitated those


to the

results,

be

mine the consolation


of

that,

utmost and to the


^

latest

my

power,

have opposed them.'

Little persuasion

was necessary to win a hostile vote, and


in a

in a

House

of 433

members Lord John found himself


Next year he renewed
his attempt,

minority of 164.

but

with the same

result,

and

in

1826 he once more brought

forward his proposals for Reform, to be defeated.

Two

months
by

afterwards,

however

May

26,

1826

undaunted

his repeated failures,

he brought

in a bill for the discovery

and suppression of bribery


against

at elections.

The

forces arrayed

him again proved too formidable, and Lord John, deeming it useless to proceed, abandoned the bill. He
in the expiring Parliament,
in

made one more attempt

series of resolutions, to arrest political corruption,

and when
In

the division was taken the numbers were equal, whereupon the Speaker recorded his vote on Lord John's side.

June the House was dissolved.

The Whigs

of

the

new

generation were

meanwhile
cal-

dreaming of projects which had never entered into the


'

Canning's Speeches.

A WHIG OF THE NEW GENERATION


culations of their predecessors.

45

Lord John long afterwards gave expression to the views which were beginning to prevail, such as non-interference in the internal government of
other nations, the necessity of peace with America and
the acknowledgment of her Independence, the satisfaction

of the people of Ireland by the concession of political


equality, the

advancement of

religious liberty, parliamentary

reform,

and the unrestricted

liberty of the press.

'

Had
the

these principles,' he declares, 'prevailed from 1770 to 1820,

the country would have avoided the American


first

War and

French Revolutionary War,

the rebellion in Ireland in

1798,
debt.'

and the creation of three or four millions of national Whenever opportunity allowed, Lord John sought in
such convictions.

Parliament during the period under review to give practical


effect

to

He

spoke in favour of the

repeal of the Foreign Enlistment

Bill,

on the question of the


Bill,

evacuation of Spain by the French army, on the Alien

on an inquiry into labourers' wages, on the


tion Bill,

Irish Insurrec-

on

Roman

Catholic claims and

Roman

Catholic

endowment, and on

agricultural distress.
III.'s reign

During the closing years of George

and the

inglorious days of his successor, Lord John Russell rose slowly but steadily towards political influence and power.

His speeches attracted growing

attention,

and

his courage

and common sense were rewarded with the deepening confidence of the nation. Although he was still regarded with

some little dread by his betters and his elders,' to borrow his own phrase, the people hailed with satisfaction the rise of so honest, clear-headed, and dogged a champion of peace, retrenchment, and Reform. Court and Cabinet might look
'

askance at the young statesman, but the great towns were


1

Recollections

and

Suggestions^ p. 43.

46
at his back,

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


and he knew

in spite of all

appearances to the
reality

contrary

that they, though yet unrepresented, were in


all

stronger than
prejudice.
action.

the forces of selfish privilege

and

senseless

Lord John had proved himself


nation was beginning to

to

be a

man

of

The

dream

that he

would

yet prove himself to be a

man

of mark.

47

CHAPTER
WINNING
1826-1830

III

HIS SPURS

Defeated and out of harness Journey to Italy Back in Parliament Canning's accession to power Bribery and corruption The re-

peal of the Test and Corporation

Acts The

struggle between the

Court and the Cabinet over Catholic Emancipation Defeat of Wellington at the polls Lord John appointed Paymaster-General.

Whig

optimists in the newspapers at the General Election of

1826 declared that the future welfare of the country would depend much on the intelligence and independence of the

new Parliament.
in

Ordinary

men accustomed

to look facts

and Albany Fonblanque expressed the more common view amongst Radicals when he asserted that if the national welfare turned
in

the face were not, however, so sanguine,

on the exhibition

an unreformed House of

Commons

of

such unparliamentary qualities as intelligence and independence, there would be ground not for hope but for despair.

He
that

added

that he

saw no shadow of a reason

for

supposing

one Parliament under the existing system would differ in any essential degree from another. He maintained that,
while the sources of corruption continued to flow, legislation

would

roll

on

in the

same

course.
last

Self-improvement was, in truth, the

thing to be ex-

pected from a House of


rights,

Commons which

represented vested

and the

interests

and even the caprices of a few

48
individuals,

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


rather

than the convictions or needs of the

nation.

the

The Tory party was stubborn and defiant even when end of the Liverpool Administration was in sight. The
the Catholics from the
Legislature,

Test Acts were unrepealed, prejudice and suspicion shut


out

and the sacred


wrongs of the
Criminal

rights of property
slave.

triumphed over the

terrible

The barbarous enactments


even
to

of the

Code
as

had not yet been


corporations,

entirely swept away,

and the municipal


eyes,

contemporary

appeared

nothing

less

than sinks of corruption.


in

Lord John was defeated

Huntingdonshire, and, to his

disappointment, found himself out of harness.

He had hoped
and under

to bring in his Bribery Bill early in the session,

the altered circumstances he persuaded Lord Althorp to press


the measure forward.

In a

letter to that

statesman which
the evils which

was afterwards printed, he


he wished
the need
to

states

clearly

remedy.
'
:

of redress

A sentence A gentleman
do not ask

or

two

will

show

from London goes

down

to a

borough of which he scarcely before knew the

existence.

The

electors

his political opinions


;

they do not inquire into his private character

they only
If

require to be satisfied of the impurity of his intentions.

he

is

elected,

no one,

in all probability, contests the validity

of his return.

His opponents are

as guilty as

he

is,

and no

other person will incur the expense of a petition for the

sake of a public benefit.

Fifteen days after the meeting of

Parliament (this being the limit for the presentation of a


petition), a

handsome reward

is

distributed to each of the

worthy and independent

electors.'

In the early autumn Lord John quitted England, with


the intention of passing the winter in Italy.

The Duke

of

Bedford

felt

that his son

had struck the

nail

on the head

A SARCASTIC APPEAL
with his
pithy

49
Lord Althorp on Lord

and outspoken

letter to

poh'tical bribery,

and he was not alone


to

in thinking that

John ought not

throw away such an advantage by a pro-

longed absence on the Continent.

Lord William accordingly


throws light on another

wrote to his brother to urge a speedy return, and the letter


is

worth quoting, since incidentally

it
'

aspect of

Lord John's character


;

If

you

feel

any ambition

which you cannot


tea-tables

which you have not


;

if

you give up the charms of Genoa

if

you could renounce the dinners and

and gossips of

Rome which

you cannot

if

you

would cease to care about attending balls and assemblies, and


dangling after ladies
field of ambition

which you
utility
!

cannot, there

is

a noble
It is Ire-

and

opened to a statesman.

land, suffering, ill-used Ireland

The
is

gratitude of millions,

the applause of the world, would attend the

man who would

rescue the poor country.

The

place

open, and must soon


is.

be

filled
it,

up.

Ireland cannot remain as she


to

feel

and would gladly hsten

The Ministers any man who would point


;

out the way to relieve her.

Undertake the task

it

is

one
See

of great difficulty, but let that be your encouragement.

the

Pope's
;

minister

have his opinion on the Catholic


;

question
suffering
as
I

go

to

Ireland

find

out the causes

of

her

make yourself master of the subject.


way
for

Set to work,
first.
. .

you did about Reform, by curing small

evils at

am

pointing to the

you

to

make your name imand


to

mortal, by doing

good

to millions
this,

to your country.

But you
to

will

yawn over

and go

some good dinner

be agreeable, the height of ambition with the present


Meanwhile, through the influence of the Duke of Devon-

generation.'

shire,

Lord John was elected

in

November
in

for the Irish

borough of Bandon Bridge, and

February, fresh from


50
prologue-writing

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


for

the private

theatricals

which

Lord

Normanby was seat in the House of Commons. down

giving that winter in Florence, he took his

Lord Liverpool was struck


it

with paralysis on February i8, and

quickly

became
Mr.

apparent that his case was hopeless.


suspense, which were
filled

After a few weeks of


intrigues,

with

Cabinet

Canning received the King's commands


Ministry
;

to reconstruct the
'

but this was more easily said than done.

Lord

Liverpool's

disappearance from the political scene,' says


'

Lord

Russell,

gave

rise to a great debacle.

The fragments

of the old system rushed against each other, and for a time
all

was confusion.'

Six of Canning's colleagues flatly re-

fused to serve under

him

in the

new Cabinet Peel, Welling-

ton, Eldon, Westmoreland, Bathurst, and Bexley

though
Parlia-

the latter afterwards took advantage of his second thoughts

and returned
mentary

to the fold.

Although an opponent of
removal

reform

and of the

of Nonconformist
Catholic eman-

disabilities,

Canning gave

his support to

cipation, to the
slavery.

demand
'

for free trade,

and the abolition of

Canning's

accession

to

power threw the Tory

ranks into confusion.


'

The Tory

party,' states

Lord

Russell,

had survived the follies and disasters of the American war, which had borne the defeats and achieved
which
the
final

glories of the

French war,

was broken by

its

separation from Mr. Canning into fragments, which could

not easily be reunited.'

Sydney Smith

who, by the way, had no love


in his

for

Canning,

and
he

failed to a quite

noteworthy extent to understand him

like the rest,

took a gloomy view of the situation, which

summed up

own

inimitable fashion.
;

'

Politics,

domestic and foreign, are very discouraging

Jesuits abroad,
!

Turks in Greece, "

No

Poperists " in

England

A panting to

CANNING IN POWER
burn

B fuming
to ashes

to roast
;

miserable that he can't

reduce
the

and

consigning to eternal perdition

first

three letters of the alphabet.'

Canning's tenure

of power was brief and uneasy.


his difficulties
failing.
'

His opponents were many,

were

great, and, to

add

to

all,

his health
'

was

My

position,'

was his own confession,

is

not that
five

of gratified ambition.'

His Administration only lasted

months,
brilliant

for at the

end of that period death out short the

though

erratic

and disappointed career of a

states-

man

of courage

and

capacity,

who entered

public

life

as a

follower of Pitt,

and refused

in after years to pin his faith

blindly to either political party,


alike

and so incurred the suspicions of uncompromising Whigs and unbending Tories.


influ-

During the Canning Administration, Lord John's


ence in the House made
gressive lines.
itself felt,

and always along pro-

When

the annual Indemnity Bill for Dis-

senters

came up for discussion, he, in answer to a taunt that the Whigs were making political capital out of the Catholic question, and at the same time neglecting the claims of the
Nonconformists, declared that he was ready to

move

the

repeal of restrictions

upon the Dissenters

as soon as they
ripe for

themselves were of opinion that the


action.

moment was

This virtual challenge, as

will

be presently seen,
call to

was recognised by the Nonconformists as a

arms.

Mqanwhile cases of
Penryn
House, and

flagrant bribery at East Retford

and

two notoriously corrupt boroughs came before the


it

and
bill,

to give in

was proposed to disenfranchise the former its place two members to Birmingham. The
its

however, did not get beyond

second reading.

Lord

John, nothing daunted, proposed in the session of 1828


that

Penryn should

suffer disenfranchisement,
its

and

that

Man-

chester should take

place.

This was ultimately carried


E 2

52
in the

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


House
of

Commons

but the Peers fought shy of


'

Manchester, and preferred to

amend

'

the

bill

by widening

the right of voting at Penryn to the adjacent

Hundred.

This refusal to take occasion by the hand and to gratify the


political aspirations of the

most important unrepresented

town

in the

kingdom, did much to hasten the introduction

of a wider scheme of reform.

Power slipped
into the
ally to

for the

moment on

the death of Canning


tried ineffectu-

weak hands of Lord Goderich, who


keep together a Coalition Ministry.
to

Lord John's
at

best

friends appear
lest

have been apprehensive

this

juncture

the young statesman, in the general confusion

of parties, should lapse into


'

somewhat of a political Laodicean.


Moore,
'

I feel

little

anxious,' wrote

to

know

exactly the

colour of your politics just now, as from the rumours I hear


of

some of your brother


like, I

" watchmen," Althorp, Milton,


to-

and

the

begin sometimes
fallers
off.

apprehend that you too may


tells

be among the
ever,
so.'

Lord Lansdowne

me, how-

you continue quite staunch, and

for his sake I

hope

But Lord John was not a


open
to the

'

faller off.'

His eyes were


in

fully

anomalous position

in

which he

common

members of the party of reform had been placed Relief, however, came under Canning and Goderich. Lord Goderich, after four months of feeble semswiftly.
with other

blance of authority, resigned, finding


differences.

it

impossible to adjust

As a

subaltern, declared

one who had narrowly


respectable, but as

watched

his career,

Lord Goderich was

a chief he proved himself to be despicable.

The Duke

of

Wellington became Prime Minister, with a Tory Cabinet at


his back,

and with Peel

as leader in the

Thus

the 'great debacle^'

House of Commons. which commenced with Canning's

accession to power

in spite of the presence in the Cabinet

RELIGIOUS EQUALITY
of Palmerston and Huskisson

53
line

drew to

an end, and a

of cleavage was once more apparent between the Whigs and


the Tories.
neither part

With Wellington, Lord John had of course nor lot, and when the Duke accepted office he
in the opposite

promptly ranged himself

camp.

Ireland was on the verge of rebellion

when Wellington
it

and Peel took

office,

and

in the

person of O'Connell

pos-

sessed a leader of splendid eloquence and courage,

who

pressed the claims of the


relief

Roman

Catholics for immediate

from religious

disabilities.

Whilst the Government

was deliberating upon the policy which they ought to pursue


in presence of the

stormy and menacing agitation which


Protestant Dissenters saw their

had arisen

in Ireland, the

opportunity, and rallied their forces into a powerful organisation for the total repeal of the Test

and Corporation Acts.

Their cause had been

quietly

making way, through the

Press and the platform, during the dark years for political

and

religious liberty

which divide 1820 from 1828, and the

Protestant Society had kept the question steadily before the

public mind.

Meanwhile that organisation had itself become


'

a distinct force in the State.


party

year

The leaders of the Whig now formally identified themselves with it. In one the Duke of Sussex took the chair in another Lord
;
;

Holland occupied the same position


delivered from
its

Sir

James Mackintosh

platform a defence of religious liberty,

such as had scarcely been given to the English people since


the time of Locke
fying himself
Dissenters,
;

and Lord John


as

Russell, boldly identi-

and

his

party with the political interests of

came forward

chairman in another

year,

to advocate the full civil

and

religious rights of the three

millions

of the

who were now openly connected Free Churches. The period of the

with one or other


Revolution,

when


54

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

Somers, Halifax, Burnet, and their associates laid the foundations


of
^

constitutional

government,

seemed

to

have

returned.'

Immediately Parliament assembled, Lord John

Russell

backed by many petitions from the Nonconformists


that

gave notice

on February 26

it

was

his intention to

move the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. The Test Act compelled all persons holding any office of profit and trust under the Crown to take the oath of
allegiance,
rites

to partake of the

Sacrament according to the


to subscribe the declaIt

of the

Church of England, and

ration against Transubstantiation.

was an

evil

legacy
1673.
in

from the reign of Charles

II.,

and became law

in

The Corporation Act was


the same reign,

also placed

on the statute-book

and
It

in point of time twelve years earlier

namely, in 166 1.
political

was a well-directed blow against the


in

ascendency of Nonconformists
It

the cities

and

towns.

required

all

public

officials to

take the Sacrament

according to the

rites

of the

Church of England, within


it

twelve months of their appointment, and, whilst


conscientious men,
crites.
it

excluded

proved no barrier to unprincipled hypo-

The repeal

of the Test

and Corporation Acts had been and Fox espoused the and moved for a committee

mooted from time

to time, but the forces of prejudice

apathy had hitherto proved invincible.


cause of the Dissenters in 1790,
of the whole
that

House
to

to deal with the question.

He

urged

men were

be judged not by their opinions, but by


that

their actions,

and he asserted

no one could charge the

Dissenters with ideas or conduct dangerous to the State.

Parliament, he further contended, had practically admitted


the injustice of such disqualifications by passing annual Acts
' History of t/ie Free Churches of England, pp. 457-458, by H. S, Skeats and C. S. Miall.

THE RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE


of Indemnity.
ters

55

He laid stress on the loyalty which the Dissen-

had shown during the Jacobite risings of 17 15 and 1745, when the High Church party, which now resisted their just demands, had been hostile to the reigning family, and active
'

in

exciting

tumults,

insurrections,

and rebelUons.'

The

authorfty of Pitt
in opposition to

and the eloquence of Burke were put forth the repeal of the Test Acts, and the panic
into

awakened by the French Revolution threw Parliament


impossible.

a reactionary mood, which rendered reform in any direction

was that the question, so far as the House of Commons was concerned, was shirked from 1790 until 1828, when Lord John Russell took up the advocacy

The

result

of a cause in which, nearly forty years earlier, the genius of

Charles James Fox had been unavaihngly enlisted.

In moving the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts,

Lord John recapitulated their history and advanced cogent arguments on behalf of the rights of conscience. It could
not,

he contended, be urged that these laws were necessary


Church,
for

for the security of the

they were not in force

either in Scotland or in Ireland.

The number and

variety

of offices embraced by the Test Act reduced the measure,


so far as
its

practical

working was concerned, to a palpable


officers, as well as

absurdity, as

non-commissioned

commis-

sioned excisemen, tide-waiters, and even pedlars, were em-

braced in

its

provisions.

In theory, at

least,

the penalties
neither few

incurred by these different classes of

men were

nor

slight

forfeiture of the office, disqualification for

any

other under Government, incapacity to maintain a suit at


law, to act as guardian or executor, or to inherit a legacy,

and even
course,

liability

to

pecuniary penalty of 500/.!

Of

such ridiculous penalties were in most cases susstill

pended, but the law which imposed them

disgraced


56

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


all

the statute-book, and was acknowledged by

unprejudiced

persons to be indefensible.

Besides, the most

Holy Sacra-

ment of the Christian Church was


mere
civil

habitually reduced to a

form imposed by Act of Parliament upon persons


its
it.

who

either derided

solemn meaning or might be

spiritu-

ally unfit to receive

Was

it

decent, asked

Cowper

in his

famous

'

Expostulation,' thus

To make

the symbols of atoning grace


?

An

office-key, a pick-lock to a place

To
was

such a question, put in such a form, only one answer


possible.

Under circumstances men took the Communion, declared Lord John, for the purpose of qualifying for office, and with no other intent, and the least
worthy were the most unscrupulous.
'

Such are the conse-

quences of mixing

politics with religion.

aggravate political dissensions by the


disputes,

You embitter and venom of theological

and you profane


it

religion with the vices of political

ambition, making

both hateful to

man and

offensive to

God.'

Peel opposed the motion, and professed to regard the


grievances of the Dissenters as

more sentimental than


lent their aid to the

real.

Huskisson and Palmerston followed on the same


whilst Althorp

side,

and Brougham

demand
bill

for religious liberty.

The

result of the division

showed a

majority of forty-four in favour of the motion, and the

was accordingly brought in and read a second time without


discussion.

During the progress of the measure through


of Lords, the two Archbishops

the

House

less fearful for

the safety of the Established Church than


followers

some of

their

met

Lord John's motion

for the repeal


'

of the

Acts in a liberal and enlightened manner.

Religious

THE RARITY OF CHRISTIAN CHARITY


tests,'

57
poHor

said

Archbishop Harcourt of York,

'

imposed

for

tical

purposes, must in themselves be always liable

more

less to

endanger religious

sincerity.'

Such an admission, of
Russell's hands,

course, materially strengthened

Lord John

and prepared the way

for

a speedy revision of the law.

Many who had


If their terms

hitherto supported the Test Act began to


all,

see that such measures were, after

a failure and a sham.

were so lax that any

man

could subscribe to
to

them with undisturbed conscience, then they ceased


any
test at all.

be

On the contrary,
men
to the
if

if

they were hard and

rigid,

then they forced


lation.

most odious form of dissimuby which a person


its

declaration,

required by the Crown, was there-

fore substituted for the sacramental test,

entering office pledged himself not to use

influence as a

means

for

subverting the

EstabHshed Church.
'

On

the

motion of the Bishop of Llandaff, the words


faith of a

on the true

Christian

'

were inserted in the declaration

clause which, by the way,

had the

effect, as

Lord Holland

perceived at the time, of excluding Jews from Parliament


until the year 1858.

Lord Winchilsea endeavoured by an amendment


but, happily, such

to shut

out Unitarians from the relief thus afforded to conscience,

an intolerant proceeding, even in an un-

reformed Parliament, met with no success.


fiercely attacked the

measure
off'

Lord Eldon
he
said,
'

'like a lion,' as

but
It

with his talons cut

but

met with

little

support.

was

felt

that the great weight of authority as well as arguin favour of the liberal policy

ment was

which Lord John

Russell advocated, and hence, after a protracted debate,


the cause of religious freedom triumphed, and on
1828, the Test

May

9,

and Corporation Acts were

finally repealed.

A great and

forward impulse was thus given to the cause of

58
religious equality,

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


and under the same energetic leadership

the party of progress set themselves with fresh hope to

invade other citadels of privilege.

The

victory

came
in

as a surprise not merely to

but also to the Nonconformists.

The

fact

Lord John that a Tory

Government was

power was responsible for the widespread

anticipation of a bitter

and protracted
than

struggle.

Amongst
generous

the congratulations which Lord John received, none per-

haps was

more
'

significant

Lord

Grey's

admission that
living
'

he had done more than any man now


liberty.
'

on behalf of
'to

am

little

anxious,' wrote

Moore,
in the

know

that your glory has

done you no harm

way of

health, as I see

you are a pretty constant


is

attendant on the House.


a

There

nothing, I fear, worse for

man's constitution than to trouble himself too


State.
'

much

about the constitution of Church and


let

So pray

me

have one line to say how you


'

are.'

My constitubut the

tion,

wrote back Lord John,

is

not quite so

much improved

as the Constitution of the country

by

late events,

joy of
force

it

will

soon revive me.


to give

It is really

a gratifying thing to

the

enemy

up

his first line


;

that

none but

Churchmen
tants are.'

are worthy to serve the State

I trust

we

shall

soon make him give up the second, that none but Protes-

Lord Eldon had predicted

that Catholic

Emancipation

would follow on the heels of the repeal of the Test and


Corporation Acts, and the event proved that he was
right.

The

election of Daniel O'Connell for Clare

had suddenly
the

raised the question in an acute form.

Although the followers


Ministry,

of Canning

had already

left

the

Duke

of

Wellington and Peel found themselves powerless to quell


the agitation which O'Connell and
the

Catholic Associa-

CATHOLIC EMANCIPATION
tion
'

59
civil war.
'

had raised

in Ireland

by any means short of


wrote Lord John,

What our

Ministry will do,'

Heaven
being a

only knows, but I


little

cannot blame

O'Connell

for

impatient, after twenty-seven years of just expectation

disappointed.'

The

allusion

was,

of

course,

to

Pitt's

scheme
to
sit

at the

beginning of the century to enable Catholics

in

Parliament and so to reconcile the Irish people to

the

Union

a generous project which was brought to nought


III.

by the obstinate attitude of George

Lord John was


George IV., how-

meditating introducing a measure for Catholic Emancipation,

when Peel took the wind from


ever,

his sails.

supported by a majority of the Lords Spiritual and

Temporal, was as stoutly opposed to concession as George III.

Lord John
'George

Russell's

words on

this

point are significant


his

III.'s

religious

scruples,

and even

personal
real

prejudices, were respected by the nation,


barriers so long as

and formed
;

he did not himself waive them

the

religious scruples of George IV. did not meet with ready


belief,

nor did his personal dislikes inspire national respect

nor obtain national acquiescence.'

The

struggle

between

the Court and the Cabinet was, however, of brief duration,

and Wellington bore down the opposition of the Lords, and


on April
13, 1829,

the

Roman

Catholic Emancipation Bill

became

law.

In June the question of

Parliamentary reform was

brought before Parliament by Lord Blandford, but his resolutions

which were the


little

outcome of Tory panic concerning


Catholic Emancipation

the probable result of

Roman

met
at

with
the

favour, either then or

when they were renewed

had

commencement of the session of 1830. in truth made himself conspicuous by his

Lord Blandford
opposition to

the Cathohc claims, and the nation distrusted the sudden

6o
zeal of the heir to
23, 1830, for

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Blenheim
in

such a cause.

On

February

Lord John Russell sought leave to bring in a bill conferring the franchise upon Manchester, Birmingham,
that they were the

and Leeds, on the plea

three largest

unrepresented towns in the country.


posal was, however, rejected in a

The moderate proHouse of three hundred


forty-eight.

and twenty-eight members by a majority of


Three months
motion
later

Mr.

O'Connell brought forward

for Triennial Parliaments,

Universal Suffrage, and

the adoption of the


in

Ballot

but this was rejected.

But

House

of three hundred

and
it,

thirty-two

members,

only thirteen were in favour of

whilst

an amendment by

Lord John

stating that

it

was

'

expedient to extend the basis


'

of the representation of the people

was also rejected by a

majority of ninety-six.
a

On June

26 George IV. died, and


dissolved.

few

weeks

later

Parliament was

At the
and,

General Election,

Lord John

stood for

Bedford,

much
Paris,

to his chagrin,

was defeated by a single vote.

After

the declaration of the poll in August, he crossed over to

where he prolonged

his stay

till

November.
Russell,

The

unconstitutional ordinances of July 25, 1830,

had brought

about a revolution,

and Lord John


on the
spot,

who was
of
its

intimate with the chief statesman


to study the crisis

concerned, was wishful


in the recital

and

dramatic incidents to find

relief

from

his

own

political dis-

appointment.

During

this

visit
life

he used

his

influence with General

Lafayette for the

of Prince de Polignac,

who was

con-

nected by marriage with a noble Enghsh family, and was

about to be put on his

trial.

Lord John was intimately and


his intercession,

ac-

quainted, not only with Lafayette, but with other leaders in


the French political world,

on which

'

WELLINGTON'S PROTEST AGAINST REFORM


his friends in

6l

England placed much

reliance,
life

seems to have

carried effectual weight, for the Prince's

was spared.
abroad, signs of
at

With
the

home and revolution coming change made themselves felt


distress at
wall,

the General

Election.

Outside the pocket boroughs, the Ministerialists

went almost everywhere to the

and 'not a

single

member

of the

Duke
^

of Wellington's Cabinet obtained a

new Parliament by anything approaching to free and open election.' The first Parliament of William IV.
seat in the

met on October

26,

and two or three days

later,

in

the

debate on the King's Speech, Wellington


historic statement in

made

his

now

answer to Earl Grey, who resented

the lack of reference to

Reform

'

am

not prepared to

bring forward any measure

of the description alluded to

by the noble

lord.

am
am

not only not prepared to bring


I will at

forward any measure of this nature, but


declare that, as far as I
station in the
feel
it

once

concerned, as long as I hold any


I

government of the country,


resist

shall always

my

duty to

such measures when proposed by

others.'

This statement produced a feeling


in the

of

dismay even

calm atmosphere of the House of Lords, and the

Duke, noticing the scarcely suppressed excitement, turned to


one of
said
his colleagues

and whispered

'What can
'
:

have
?

which seems to have made so great a disturbance


retort of the

Quick came the dry

candid friend

announced the
of

fall

of your Government, that


'

is

You have all.' The

consternation was almost comic.

Never was there an act


night (five days

more egregious

folly,
'

or one so universally condemned,'


I

says Charles Greville.


"after
*

came to town

last

the Duke's speech), and found the town ringing with


ii.

The Three Refor/ns of Parliamenl, hyY^iWioxn. Heaton, chap.

p. 38.

62
his

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

imprudence and everybody expecting that a few days


his

1
i6

would produce

resignation.'

Within a fortnight the


for

general expectation

was

fulfilled,

on

November
List,

the Duke, making a pretext of an unexpected defeat over


Sir

H.

Parnell's

motion regarding the

Civil
for

threw up

the sponge,

and Lord Grey was sent

by the King and

entrusted with the


situation

new Administration. The irony of the became complete when Lord Grey made it a
a Cabinet measure.

stipulation to his acceptance of office that Parliamentary

Reform should be

Lord John, meanwhile, was a candidate for Tavistock, and when the election was still in progress the new Premier
offered

him the comparatively unimportant post of Pay-

master-General, and, though he might reasonably have ex-

pected higher rank in the Government, he accepted the


appointment.

He

was accustomed

to assert that the actual


;

duties of the Paymaster were performed by cashiers

and

he has

left it

on record that the only

official act

of any im-

portance that he performed was the pleasant task of allotting


garden-plots at

Chelsea to seventy old soldiers, a boon

which the pensioners highly appreciated.

63

CHAPTER

IV

A FIGHT FOR LIBERTY


1830-1832
Lord Grey and the cause of Reform Lord Durham's share in the Reform Bill The voice of the people Lord John introduces the The surprise of the Tories Bill and explains its provisions Lord John in the Cabinet The Bill thrown Reform, Aye or No

'

'

out

Wellington

The

indignation of the country

Proposed

creation of Peers

and Sidmouth

in despair

The

Bill carried

Lord

John's tribute to Althorp.

Earl Grey was

man

of sixty-six

when he was

called to

power, and during the whole of his public career he had

been identified with the cause of Reform.


any other man, was the founder, in 1792

He, more than


in

the year

which

Lord John Russell was born


societies

of
He

'

The

Friends of the People,'

a political association which united the forces of the patriotic

which

just then

were struggling into existence in

various parts of the land.


friend

was the foe of

Pitt

and the

of

Fox,

and

his

official

career began during the

short-lived but glorious Administration of All the Talents.

During the dreary quarter of a century which succeeded,

when the

destinies of

England were committed

to

men

of

despotic calibre and narrow capacity like Sidmouth, Liverpool, Eldon,

and Castlereagh, he remained, through good


deed as well as
in

and

evil report, in

name, a Friend of the


'I

People.

As

far

back as 1793, he declared:

am more

64

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


in

convinced than ever that a reform

Parhament might now

be peaceably

effected.

am

afraid that

we

are not wise

enough

to profit

by experience, and what has occasioned

the ruin of other Governments will overthrow this

a perseThe

verance in abuse until the people, maddened by excessive


injury

and roused

to a feeling of their

own

strength, will

not stop within the limits of moderate reformation.'

conduct of Ministers during the dark period which followed


the
fall

of the Ministry of All the Talents in 1807, was, in

Grey's deliberate opinion, calculated to excite insurrection,


since
it

was a policy of

relentless coercion

and

repression.

He made no secret of his conviction that the


by issuing proclamations
in

Government,

which whole

classes of the

comguilty
false

munity were denounced as seditious, as well as by fulminating


against insurrections that only existed in their

own

imaginations,
alarms,

filled

the

minds of the people with


to distrust
if

and taught every man

not to hate his

neighbour.

There was no more chance of Reform under the


'

existing regime than of


simile.

a thaw in Zembla,' to borrow a famous


in his assertion that the

Cobbett was right

measures

and manners of George IV. 's

reign did

more

to shake the

long-settled ideas of the people in favour of monarchical

government than anything which had happened since the


days of Cromwell.
early in July
official signs

The day

of the King's funeral

it

was by

and

beautifully fine

was marked, of course,

of mourning, but the rank

and

file

of the people
the

rejoiced,

and,

according to a contemporary record,


in the villages

merry-making and junketing

round London

recalled the scenes of an ordinary

Whit Monday.

On
Sailor

the whole, the nation accepted the accession of the

King with equanimity, though scarcely with enthuand


for the

siasm,

moment

it

was not thought that the new

LORD GREY AS LEADER


reign
dull,

65

would bring an immediate change of Ministry.

The
at

uncompromising nonsense, however, which Wellington


lips

put into the King's

in the

Speech from the Throne

the beginning of November, threatening with punishment the seditious and disaffected, followed as
it

quickly was by

the Duke's

own statement

in

answer to Lord Grey, that no

measure of Parliamentary reform should be proposed by


the

Government

as long as he

was responsible

for its policy,

awoke the storm which drove the Tories from power and compelled the King to send for Grey. The distress in thie
country was universal

riots

prevailed,

rick-burning was

Lord Grey's prediction of 1793 seemed about to^be fulfilled, for the people, 'maddened by excessive
injury

common.

and roused

to a feeling of their

own

strength,'
bit

seemed
their

about to break the traces and to take the


teeth.

between

The deep and widespread confidence

alike in the

character

and capacity of Lord Grey did more than any-

thing else at that

moment

to

calm the public mind and to

turn wild clamour into quiet

and

resistless

enthusiasm.

Yet
the

in certain respects
spirit

Lord Grey was out of touch with


If his

new

of the nation.

own

political

ardour
to

had not cooled, the lapse of years had not widened


was a

any

perceptible degree his vision of the issues at stake.

He
and,

man

of stately

manners and

fastidious

tastes,

though

admirably qualified to hold the position of leader


little

of the aristocratic Whigs, he had


toiling

in

common

with the

masses of the people.

He

was a conscientious and

even chivalrous statesman, but he held himself too


aloof from the rank

much

and

file

of his party,

and thin-skinned

Radicals were inclined to think him somewhat cold and even

condescending.

Lord Grey lacked the warm heart of Fox,


in

and

his speeches,

consequence, able and philosophic


F

66

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

though they were, were destitute of that unpremeditated and magical eloquence which led Grattan to describe Fox's
oratory
as
'rolling
in,

resistless

as

the

waves

of

the

Atlantic'
of the
tirely

On

one memorable occasion


Bill in the

Reform

House

of Lords

the second reading Lord Grey en-

escaped from such oratorical

Peers were

moved

to

restraints, and even the unwonted enthusiasm by the strong

emotion which pervaded that singularly outspoken appeal. His son-in-law, Lord Durham, on the other hand, had
the making of a great popular leader, in spite of his imperious

manners and somewhat

dictatorial bearing.

The head

of one of the oldest famihes in the North of England,

Lord Durham entered the House of Commons


1813, at the

in the year age of twenty-one, as Mr. John George Lambton,

and quickly distinguished himself by

his advanced views on questions of foreign policy as well as Parliamentary reform.

married the daughter of Lord Grey in 1816, and gave his support in Parliament to Canning. On the formation of
his father-in-law's Cabinet in 1830,

He

he was appointed Lord


'

Privy Seal.
attests the

His popular sobriquet,


to the peerage in

Radical Jack,'

itself

admiration of the populace, and when

was raised

1828 he carried to

Lambton the House

of Lords the enthusiastic


pectations of the crowd.
Radicals,

homage

as well as the great exidol of the

Lord Durham was the

and

his presence in the

Grey Administration was

justly regarded as a pledge of energetic action.

would unquestionably have had the honour of introducing the Reform Bill in the House of Commons if he had
still

He

been a member of that assembly,

for

he had made the

question peculiarly his own, and behind him lay the en-

thusiasm of the entire party of Reform.


leader of the House,

Althorp, though

and

in spite of the confidence

which

THE COMMITTEE OF FOUR


his character inspired, lacked the

6/
initiative

power of

and

the ParUamentary courage necessary to steer the Ship of


State through such rough waters.

When Lord

Grey pro-

posed to entrust the measure to Lord John, Brougham pushed the claims of Althorp, and raised objections to Lord

John on the ground


not in the Cabinet
;

that the

young Paymaster-General was


stoutly

but

Durham

opposed him, and

urged that Lord John had the

first

claim, since he

had

last

been

in possession of the question.

An
action,
it

unpublished paper of Lord Durham's, in the pospresent Earl, throws


juncture,
to

session of the
at this

passing light on the

of the
it.

Ministry,

and therefore
the

may be
of

well

quote

'Shortly after

formain the

tion

the

Government, Lord Grey asked


if

me

House Reform

of Lords
Bill.

would

assist

him

in preparing the

answered that

would do so with the

greatest pleasure.
tion to consult

He
'

then said, "

You can have no

objec-

Lord John Russell

? "

I replied, " Certainly

not, but the reverse."


tion,

In consequence of this conversa-

Lord Durham goes on to state, he placed himself in communication with Lord John, and they together agreed
to

summon

to their councils Sir

Duncannon.

James Graham and Lord Thus the famous Committee of Four came

into existence.

Durham

acted as chairman, and in that

capacity signed the daily minutes of the proceedings.

The

meetings were held at his house in Cleveland Row, and he


there received, on behalf of
tions

from

different parts

Lord Grey, the various deputaof the kingdom which were flock-

ing up to impress their views of the situation on the

new

Premier.
in the

Since the measure had of necessity to originate


of

House

Commons, and Lord John,


its first

it

was already
sug-.
F 2

settled,

was to be

spokesman, Lord

Durham

68

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


This was done,
in various direc-

gested that Russell should draw up a plan.

and

it

was carefully discussed and amended

tions,

and eventually the measure

as finally agreed

upon was

submitted to Lord Grey, with a report which Lord Durham,


as chairman,

drew up, and which was signed not only by


his three colleagues.

him but by

Lord Durham

states, in

speaking of the part he took as chairman of the Committee

on Reform, that Lord Grey intrusted him with the preparation in the
first

instance of the measure,

and

that he called
'
:

to his aid the three other statesmen.

He adds
all

This was

no Cabinet

secret, for

it

was necessarily known to hundreds.


to

Lord Grey having


different

referred

me

the memorials from


in

towns and bodies.'

Lord Durham was

advance

of his colleagues on this as


his stand

upon most

questions, for he took


ballot

on household
if

suffrage, vote

by

and

triennial

Parliaments, and

he could have carried

his original draft


far

of the

Reform

Bill that

measure would have been

more

revolutionary than that which


in the

became
in

law.

His proposals
fact,

House of

Commons

1821 went, in

much

further than the measure which became law under Lord

Grey.

Lord Grey announced in the Lords on February 3 that a Reform measure had been framed and would be introduced in the House of Commons on March i by Lord John
Russell, who,
'

having advocated the cause of Parliamentary

Reform, with

ability

and perseverance,

in

days when

it

was

not popular, ought, in the opinion of the Administration, to

be selected, now that the cause was prosperous, to bring


forward a measure of
full

and

efficient

Reform, instead of

the partial measures he had hitherto proposed.'


Petitions
in

favour of

Reform from

all

parts of the
in the

kingdom poured

into both Houses.

The excitement

LEADING THE ATTACK

69

country rose steadily week by week, mingled with expressions of satisfaction that the Bill

was to be committed to

the charge of such able hands.

In Parliament speculations

were

rife

as to the scope of the measure, whilst

rumours of

dissension in the Cabinet flew around the clubs.


late as

Even

as

the middle of February, the

Duke

of Wellington

went about predicting that the Reform question could not


be
carried,

and

that the

Grey Administration could not

stand.
well,

Ministers contrived to keep their secret


at length the eventful day,

and when
of

uncommonly March i, arrived,


Troops of eager
at all the

the

House

Commons was packed by


there in
its

a crowd such as had

scarcely been seen


politicians
inlets

history.

came up from the country and waited

of the House, whilst the leading supporters of the


in

Whigs

London

society gathered at dinner-parties,

and

anxiously awaited intelligence from Westminster.

Lord John's speech began


two hours and a quarter. ceeded gradually to unfold

at six o'clock,

and

lasted for

Beginning in a low voice, he prohis measure, greeted in turns

by

cheers of approval and shouts of derision.


it

Greville says
for those

was ludicrous

to see the faces of the

members

places

doomed
began

to disfranchisement, as they were severally

announced.
school,

Wetherell, a typical

Tory of the no-surrender


was unfolded, but

to take notes as the plan

after various

contortions and grimaces he threw

down

his

paper, with a look of mingled despair, ridicule,

and

horror.

Lord Durham, seated under the


are

gallery,
'

doubted the reaUty

of the scene passing before his eyes.

They

are mad, they

mad

'

was one of the running comments to Lord John's

statement.

The

Opposition, on the whole, seemed inclined

to laugh out of court such extravagant proposals, but Peel,

on the contrary, looked both grave and angry,

for

he saw

70

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


and knew very
I

further than most,

well that boldness

was the
states

best chance.

'

Burdett and

walked home together,'


little

Hobhouse,

'

and agreed that there was very


carried.

chance of
in

the measure being

We

thought our friends


franchise.'
'

Westminster would oppose the ten-pound


'

rise, sir,'

Lord John commenced,


in importance,
is

with feelings of

the deepest anxiety to bring forward a question which, unparalleled as


it is

is

as unparalleled in points
in

of

difficulty.

Nor

my

anxiety,

approaching

this

question, lessened by reflecting that on former occasions I

have brought

this subject
if,

before the consideration of the


I

House.

For
has

on other occasions,
of

have invited the


important

attention of the
subject,
it

Commons to this most been upon my own responsibility


House
I

unaided

by anyone
defeat
. .

and
.

involving no one in the consequences of

But the measure which

have now to bring

forward,

is
is,

a measure, not of mine but of the Government.


therefore, with the greatest anxiety that I venture

...

It

to explain their intentions to this


interest of

House on a

subject, the

which

is

shown by the crowded audience who


still

have assembled here, but

more by the deep


this

interest

which

is felt

by millions out of

House, who look with


to the result of

anxiety, with hope,


this day's debate.'

and with expectation,

In the course of his argument, setting forth the need of

Reform, he alluded to the feelings of a foreigner, having


heard of British wealth,
civilisation,

and renown, coming


'

to

England

to

examine our

institutions.
if
it

Would not such a


members
wall,

foreigner be

much
;

astonished
that

he were taken to a green


sent two
to

mound, and informed


British Parliament
that
it

the
told
;

if

he were shown a stone

and

also sent

two members to the British Parliament

or,

OLD SARUM VERSUS MANCHESTER


if

he walked into a park, without the vestige of a dwelHng,


that
it,

and was told


Parliament
?

too, sent

two members to the British


at
this,

But

if

he were surprised
if

how much

more would he be astonished


towns,

he were carried into the

North of England, where he would see large flourishing


full

of trade, activity, and intelligence, vast magazines


that these places

of wealth
sent

and manufactures, and were told


to

no representatives
;

Parliament.

But

his
if

wonder
he were
told

would not end here

he would be astonished

carried to such a place as Liverpool,


that

and were there


election,

he might see a specimen of a popular


result?

what
in

would be the
the
receiving a

He

would see bribery employed

most unblushing manner, he would see every voter

number of guineas in a box as the price of his corruption and after such a spectacle would he not be
;

indeed
possibly

surprised

that

representatives

so

chosen
or

could
enjoy

perform

the functions

of

legislators,

respect in any degree?'

In speaking of the reasons for

giving representatives to Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham,

and other

large towns.

Lord John argued

'

Because Old

Sarum
IIL,

sent

members

to Parliament in the reign of

Edward

when it had a population to be benefited by it, the Government on the same principle deprived that forsaken
place of the
franchise in order to bestow

the privilege

where the population was now found.

Lord John explained


sixty

that

by the provisions of the

bill

boroughs with
;

less

than 2,000 inhabitants were to lose

the franchise

forty-seven boroughs, returning ninety-four


to lose

members, were

one member each.

Of the

seats thus

placed at the disposal of the Government eight were to be


given to London, thirty-four to large towns,
fifty-five

to

EngUsh

counties, five to Scotland, three to Ireland,

and one

72
to Wales.

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


The
franchise was to be extended to inhabitants

of houses rated at ten pounds a year, and to leaseholders and copyholders of counties. It was reckoned that

about
bill
;

half a million persons

would be enfranchised by the

but the

number

of members in the

House would be reduced,


'

Lord John laid significant stress on the' had come to the deliberate opinion that no half-measures would be sufficient, that no trifling, no
sixty-two.
fact that they

by

paltry reform could give stability to the Crown, strength to the Parliament, or satisfaction to the country.' Long

afterwards

Lord John Russell declared

that the

measure

when thus first placed before the House of Commons awoke feelings of astonishment mingled with joy or with
consternation
'

according to

the temper

of

the hearers.

Some, perhaps many, thought that the measure was a precivil

lude to

war, which, in point of fact,


feeling,

it

averted.

But
the

incredulity

was the prevailing

both

among

moderate Whigs and the great mass of the Tories. The Radicals alone were delighted and triumphant. Joseph
day or two afterwards, asof his hearty support of the Government.' There were many Radicals, however, who thought that the
sured

Hume, whom

met

in the streets a

me

measure

scarcely went far enough,

and one of them happily summed


that,

up the

situation

by saying
all

although the Reform

Bill

it broke up the old system and took the weapons from the hands of the enemies

did not give the people

they wanted,

of progress.

Night

after night the

plain that the Tories

debate proceeded, and it became had been completely taken by surprise

Meanwhile outside the House of Commons the people followed the debate with feverish interest. Nothing talked of, thought of, dreamt of but Reform,' wrote GreviUe.
'

CAPITULATION OR BOMBARDMENT
'

73

Every creature one meets


it

asks, "

will

go

What

is

the last

What is said now ? How " news ? What do you think ?


night, in the streets, in the

And

so

it is

from morning

till

clubs,

and

in private houses.'
to

After a week of controversy,


the
bill.

leave was given

bring

in

On March

21,

Lord John moved the second reading, but was met by an amendment, that the Reform Bill be read a second
time that day six months.
o'clock on the

The House

divided at three

morning

of the 23rd,

and the second reading


in the fullest

was carried by a majority of one

333-332
all

House on
the hour.

record.

'It

is

better to capitulate than to be

taken by storm,' was the

comment

of one of the cynics of

Illuminations took place

over the country.


the

The people were good-humoured but determined, and


Opposition began to recover from
that the
its

fright

and

to declare

Government could not proceed with the measure and were certain to resign. Peel's action and sometimes was severely criticised by many of his own his lack of it

followers,

and not a few of the Tories, unable


spirit

to forgive the

surrender to the claims of the Catholics, met the


in

new

crisis

the

time-honoured

of GalHo.

They seemed
fast
it

to

have thought not only that the country was


the dogs, but that under
all

going to
did not

the circumstances,

much

matter.

Parliament met after the usual Easter recess, and on


April 18 General Gascoigne

committee that the

moved as an instruction to the number of members of Parliament ought


till

not to be diminished, and after a debate which lasted


four o'clock in the

morning the resolution was carried


a majority of eight.
in a minority

in a

House
tunity

of 490

members by

The Gohad begun

vernment thus suddenly placed

saw their oppor-

and took it.

Lord Grey and

his colleagues

74
to realise that
it

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


was impossible
for

Reform House of Commons without modifications which would have robbed the boon of half its worth. The Tories had made a blunder in tactics over Gascoigne's
to carry the
Bill in the existing

them

motion, and their opponents took occasion by the forelock, with the result that, after an extraordinary scene in the Lords! Parliament was suddenly dissolved by the King in person! Brougham had given the people their cry, and the bill,
'

bill,' was the popular watchword during the tumult of the General Election. On

the whole

bill,

and nothing but the

angry mob, forgetful of the soldier in the statesman, broke the windows of Apsley

the dissolution of Parliament the Lord the illumination of London, and an

Mayor sanctioned

House.
Speaking at a political meeting two days
tion,

after the dissolu-

Lord John Russell said

that the electors in the approach-

hing struggle were called on not merely to select the best men to defend their rights and interests, but also to give a phin answer to the question, put to the constituencies by the

words were caught and from hundreds of platforms came the question, Reform Aye or No ? and the response in favour of the measure was emphatic and overwhelming. The country was split into
up,
'
:

Do you approve, aye or no, of the principle of Reform in the representation ? Right through the length and breadth of the kingdom his
'

King

in dissolving Parliament,

camps of the Reformers and anti-Reformers, and every other question was thrust aside in the struggle.
unions proved themselves to be a power in the land, and the operatives and artisans of the great manufacturing centres, though still excluded
political

the opposing

The

from citizenship, left no stone unturned to ensure the popular triumph. Lord John was pressed to stand both for Lancashire and Devon-

THE FLOWING TIDE


shire
;

75

he chose the

latter county,

with which he was closely

associated by family traditions as well as by personal friendships,

and was triumphantly returned, with Lord Ebrington

as

colleague.

Even

in the agricultural districts the

ascendency

of the old landed families was powerless to arrest the move-

ment, and as the results of the elections became

known

it

was

seen that Lord Sefton had caught the situation in his dry

remark

'
:

The county members


assembled

are tumbling about like

ninepins.' Parliament
at a glance that

in June,

and

it

became

plain

democratic ideas were working like leaven


in

upon public opinion


close corporations,

England.

In spite of rotten boroughs,

the opposition of the majority of the

territorial aristocracy,

and the panic of thousands of timid


that the British Constitution
in strength,

people,

who imagined

was imat least

perilled, the

Reformers came back

and

hundred who had fought the

Bill

in the late Parliament

were shut out from a renewal of the struggle, whilst out of


eighty-two county

members

that were returned,

only

six

were hostile to Reform.

On

June

24,

Lord John
as the

Russell,

now

raised to Cabinet

rank, introduced the


stantially the

Second Reform
first,

Bill,

which was sub-

same
its

and the measure was carried


stage,

rapidly through

prehminary

and on July 8

it

passed

the second reading by a majority of 136.

The Government,
irri-

however, in Committee was met night after night by an


tating cross-fire of criticism
;

repeated motions for adjourn-

ment were made


leaders

there was a systematic division of labour in

the task of obstruction.

In order to promote delay,

the

of the Opposition stood up again and again and

repeated the same statements and arguments, and often in

almost the same words.


'

'

If

Mr. Speaker,' wrote

Jekyll,

outlives the

Reform debate, he may defy

la grippe

and

y6
the
cholera.
I

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


can recommend no books, for the bookor buys in the present fever.

sellers

declare

nobody reads

The newspapers
friends

are furious, the


.
. .

Sunday papers are


all

talking

treason by wholesale.

Peel does

he can to make his

behave
of

like

gentlemen.
furnish

But the nightly vulgarities of

the

House

Commons
! '

not a ray of talent


tilled stupidity
^

new reasons for Reform, and glimmers among them all. Double-disIn the midst of
it

all

Russell
as the

fell

ill,

worn out with


the

fatigue

and excitement, and

summer
at

slipped past the people

became alarmed and indignant


of the
restless

dead-lock, and

in various parts

kingdom the
but menacing.

attitude of the masses

grew not merely

At length the
it

tactics of the

Opposition were exhausted, and

was possible to report progress.

Lord John's statement, 'the debate was

'On September closed, and

7,'

is

after

much
able

labour,

and considerable
to propose, to

sacrifice

of health, I was
that

on that night
bill

amid much cheering,


the

the

should be reported
carried

House.'
19
in

The

third

reading was
fifty-five.

on September
later,

by a majority of
the

Three
22,

days

at

five

morning on

September

the question was at length put,

and

in

House

of five hundred

and eighty-one members the majority

for Ministers

was one hundred and nine.

The

bill

was promptly sent up to the Peers, and Lord Grey

proposed the second reading on October 3 in a speech of


sustained eloquence.

Lord Grey spoke


critical

as

if

he

felt

the

occasion to be the most

event in a

political

career

which had extended


at

to nearly half a century.

He

struck

once the right key-note, the gravity of the

situation, the

'

brief

Correspondence of Mr. Joseph Jekylly 1818-1838. Edited, with a Memoir, by the Hon. Algernon Bourke. Pp. 272-273.

LORD GREY ARISES TO THE OCCASION

77

magnitude of the issues involved, the welfare of the nation.

He made a
I

modest but dignified allusion


'In 1786

to his
I

own

life-long

association with the question.

voted for Reform.

supported Mr. Pitt in his motion for shortening the duration


I

of Parliaments.

gave

my

best assistance to the measure of

Reform introduced by Mr. Flood before the French Revolution.^

On

one or two occasions

originated motions on

the subject.'

Then he turned

abruptly from his

own

per-

sonal association with the subject to what he finely termed

the

'

mighty interests of the


felt

State,'

and the course which


of the
nation.

Ministers
of

they must take


to

if they

were to meet the demands

justice,

and not

imperil

the safety

He

laid stress

on the general discontent which prevailed, on on the

the political agitation of the last twelve months, on the distress

that reigned in the manufacturing districts,

influence of the

numerous

political associations
distress,
'

which had

grown powerful because of that


agricultural population,

on the

suffering of the

on the nightly alarms, burnings, and


in every countenance.'

popular disturbances,' as well as on the 'general feeling of

doubt and apprehension observable

He
as

endeavoured to show that the measure was not revolu-

tionary in spirit or subversive of the British Constitution,

many people

proclaimed.
that there

Lord Grey contended

was nothing

in

the

measure that was not founded on the principles of English


government, nothing that was not perfectly consistent with the
ancient practices of the Constitution, and nothing that might

not be adopted with absolute safety to the rights and privileges of all orders of the State.

He made

a scathing allusion

^ His idea was to Flood's Reform proposals were made in 1790. augment the House of Commons by one hundred members, to be elected by the resident householders of every county.

yS
to the
'

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


gross
'

and scandalous corruption practised without and he declared


that the sale of seats

disguise
in the

at elections,

House

of

Commons was
laid stress

a matter of equal notoriety

with the return of nominees of noble and wealthy persons to


that

House.

He

on the

fact that a

few individuals

under the existing system were able


of personal profit

to turn into a

means
in

privileges which had been conferred

past centuries for the

benefit

of the nation.

'

It is

with
the

these views that the

Government has considered

that

boroughs which are called nomination boroughs ought to be


abolished.

In looking at these boroughs, we found that


correction, for
it is

some
only

of

them were incapable of


of ancient

impos-

sible to

extend their constituency.


sites

Some

of

them consisted
however,
places to

of the

boroughs,

which,
fit

might perhaps
return

in

former times have been very


to Parliament small,
;

members

in others, the constituency

was

insignificantly

and from
;

their

local
that,

situation

incapable of receiving any increase


whole,
this

so

upon the

gangrene of our representative system bade


all

defiance to

remedies but that of excision,'

After several nights' debate, in which Brougham, according to

Lord John, delivered one of the


in the

greatest speeches ever


at length rejected,
six o'clock

heard
after

House

of Lords, the

bill

was

an all-night

sitting, at

twenty minutes past


8,

on Saturday morning, October

by a majority of forty-one

(199 to 158), in which majority were twenty-one bishops.

Had

these prelates voted the other way, the

bill

would have

passed the second reading.


rattled

As the

carriages of the nobility

through the streets

at

daybreak, artisans and labourers


indignation
that

trudging to their work learnt with

the

demands

of the people

had been treated with

characteristic

contempt by the Peers.

THE NATION GROWS INDIGNANT


The
next few days were
full

79

of wild excitement.

The

people were exasperated, and their attitude grew suddenly

menacing.

Even those who had

hitherto remained calm

and almost apathetic grew indignant. Wild threats prevailed, and it seemed as if there might be at any moment a general
outbreak of violence.

Even

as

it

was, riots of the most dis-

quieting kind took place at Bristol, Derby,

and other

places.
;

Nottingham Castle was burnt down by an infuriated mob newspapers appeared in mourning the bells of some of the
;

churches rang muffled peals

the Marquis of Londonderry

and other Peers


not

who had made

themselves peculiarly ob;

noxious were assaulted in the streets


stir

and the Bishops could

abroad without being followed by the jeers and exeQuiet middle-class people talked

crations of the multitude.

of refusing to pay the taxes,

and showed unmistakably


spirit

that
Bir-

they had caught the revolutionary

of the hour.

mingham, which was the head-quarters of the Political Union, held a vast open-air meeting, at which one hundred and fifty
thousand people were present, and resolutions were passed, beseeching the King to create as many new Peers as might be necessary to ensure the triumph of Reform. Lord Althorp and Lord John Russell were publicly thanked at
this gathering for their action,

historic
trust,

'
:

and the reply of the latter is Our prospects are obscured for a moment, but, I

only for a

moment

it

is

impossible that the whisper

of a faction should prevail against the voice of a nation.'

Meanwhile Lord Ebrington, Lord John's colleague


the representation of Devonshire,

in

came

to the rescue of the

Government with a vote of confidence, which was carried by a sweeping majority. Two days later, on Wednesday, October
12,

many

of the shops of the metropolis were closed in token

of political mourning, and on that day sixty thousand

men

8o
marched
to the
tion.
in

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


procession to St. James's Palace, bearing a petition
in favour of the retention of the
it,

King

Grey Administrato the wait-

Hume presented

and when he returned

ing crowd in the Park, he was able to tell

them

that their prayer

would not pass unheeded.


shortly afterwards
'
:

No wonder that Croker wrote M's The four the Monarch, the Ministry,

the

Members, and the Multitude


the

stands on his Government, the

The Kmg Government on the House


all

against us.

Commons, can we attack


of

House

of

Commons on

the people.
?
'

How
and
at

a line thus linked and supported

Indigna-

tion meetings were held in all parts of the country,

one of them, held famous speech


in

at

Taunton, Sydney Smith delivered the

which he compared the attempt of the

House

of Lords to restrain the rising tide of

Democracy

to

the frantic but futile battle which

Dame

Partington waged

with her mop, during a storm at Sidmouth,


lantic

when

the At-

invaded her threshold.


spirit

'

The
But

Atlantic was roused.


I

Mrs. Partington's
that the contest

was up.

need not

tell

you

was unequal.
Gentlemen, be
beat

The
at

Atlantic

Ocean beat

Mrs. Partington.
steady
;

your ease, be quiet and

you

will

Mrs. Partington.'

The newspapers
the public
of the nation,

carried the witty allusion everywhere.


fancy,

It tickled

and did much

to relax the bitter

mood

and vapouring heroics were forgotten


nation gave way to

in laughter,

and

indig-

amused contempt.

Parliament, which had been prorogued towards the end


first week of December, and month Lord John once more introduced for the third time in twelve months the Reform Bill. A few alterations had been made in its text, the outcome chiefly of the facts which the new census had brought to

of October, reassembled in the


1

on the

2th of that

light.

In order to meet certain anomalies in the original

LORD ALTHORP'S TACT


scheme, Ministers, with the help of Thomas

Drummond, who

shortly afterwards honourably distinguished himself in Irish


affairs,

drew up two

lists

of boroughs, one for total disen;

franchisement and the other for semi-disenfranchisement

and the
the the
first

principle
list,

on which

fifty-six

towns were included in

and

thirty in the second,

was determined by

number

of houses in each borough

and the value of the

assessed

taxes.

Six

days later the second reading was

passed, after three nights' discussion, by a majority of 324 to


162.

The House rose immediately for


bill
till

the Christmas

recess-,

and on January 20 the and there it remained


place on of
1

reached the committee stage,


14.

March

The

third reading took

March

23,

and the

bill

was passed by a majority

16,

Althorp, as the leader of the

Commons, and Russell,


Reform

as the Minister in charge of the measure, carried the


Bill

promptly to the House of Lords, and made formal


'

request for the

concurrence of their lordships to the same.


;

Other
nation

men had
felt that,

laboured to bring about this result

but the

but for the pluck and persistency of Russell,


tact of Althorp, failure

and the judgment and


attended their
efforts.

would have

It is difficult

now

to

understand the secret of the influence


it

which Althorp wielded in the Grey Administration, but

was

great enough to lead the Premier to ask him to accept a peerage, in order

in the crisis

which was now at hand

to bring

the Lords to their senses.

Althorp was in no sense of the

word a

great statesman

in fact, his career

was the triumph

of character rather than capacity.

All through the struggle,


high, Althorp

when controversy grew furious and passion rose


remarkable.

kept a cool head, and his adroitness in concihatory speech was

He was a moderate man, who never failed

to

do

justice to his opponent's case,

and his influence was not merely G

'

'

S2
in the

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Commons
;

it

made

itself felt to

Court, as well as in the country.


instincts
tical
'

good purpose in the He was a man of chivalrous


It

and unchallenged
Sir

probity.

was one of

his poli-

opponents,

Henry
His

Hardinge,
fine

who
was

exclaimed,
it
!

Althorp carried the

bill.

temper did

Lord John
viction that,

Russell, like his colleagues,

fully alive to

crisis. He made no secret of his conanother deadlock arose, the consequence would be bloodshed, and the outbreak of a conflict in which

the gravity of the


if

the British

Constitution would

probably perish.

Twelve

months

before, the cry in the country

had been,

'

What

will

the Lords

do?' but now an altogether


lips,
'

difl'erent

question
?

was on men's
be

What must be done

with the Lords

would Committee, and therefore they refused to be unduly elated when the second reading was carried on April 14
in

Government knew

that the real struggle over the bill

with a majority of nine, in spite of the


blustering
carried,

Duke

of Wellington's

heroics.

Three weeks
thirty-five,

by a majority of
bill,

Lord Lyndhurst a motion for the mutilalater.

tion of the

in spite of

Lord Grey's assurance

that

it

dealt a fatal
ately

blow

at the measure.

The Premier immediand the


situaits

moved

the adjournment of the debate,

tion
last

grew suddenly dramatic.


concession
'

The

Cabinet had made

Ministers determined, in Lord Durham's


creation of Peers was absolutely

words, that a
necessary
effect,
'

sufficient

if

their resignation

was not

to take

immediate
William

and they

laid their views before the King.

; he was surrounded by gossips who played upon his fears of revolution, and took care to appeal to his prejudices. His zeal for Reform had already cooled, and Queen Adelaide was hostile to Lord Grey's measure.

IV., like his predecessor, lived in a narrow world


THE FIERCE CRY OF THE STREETS
83

When, therefore, Lord Grey and Lord Brougham went down to Windsor to urge the creation of new Peers, they met with a chilling reception. The King refused his
sanction,
resign.

and the Ministry had no other

alternative than to

William IV. took counsel with Lord Lyndhurst,

and summoned the Duke of Wellington.

Meanwhile the

House of Commons

at the instance of

Lord Ebrington,
call

again passed a vote of confidence in the Grey Administration,

and adopted an address


unimpaired in
ing

to

His Majesty, begging him to


'

to his councils such persons only as


all its

will carry into eifect

essential provisions that bill for reform-

the representation of the people which has recently

passed the House of Commons.'

Wellington tried to form

a Ministry in order to carry out some emasculated scheme


of Reform, but Peel was inexorable, and refused to have
part or lot in the project.

Meanwhile the cry rang through the country,


the whole
bill,

'

The

bill,

and nothing but the

bill

'

William IV. was

hissed as he passed through the streets, and the walls blazed

with insulting lampoons and caricatures.

Signboards which

displayed the King's portrait were framed with crape, and

Queen
black.

Adelaide's

likeness

was

disfigured
filled

with

lamp-

Rumours

of projected riots

the town, and

whispers of a plot for seizing the wives and children of the


aristocracy led the authorities to order the swords of the

Scots Greys to be rough-sharpened.

At the

last

moment,
King
think,'

when

the attitude of the country was menacing, the

yielded,

on

May

17,

and sent

for

Lord Grey.

'

Only

wrote Joseph Parkes on


all

May

18,

'that at three yesterday

was gloomy foreboding


minutes before

in the Cabinet,

and

at

twenty-

five

five last night


till

Lord Althorp did not know


at half- past five

the King's answer

Lord Grey returned

G 2

84
" All right."

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Thus on the decision
^

of one manrests the fate

of nations.'

Instead of creating

members of bill, urging them


to

new Peers, the King addressed a letter the House of Lords who were hostile to the
to

withdraw their opposition.

hint from

Windsor went further with the aristocracy


any number of appeals, reasonable or

in those days than

just,

from the country.

About a hundred of the


off the dust of
'

Peers, in angry sullen

mood, shook

Westminster, and, in Lord John's words,

skulked in clubs and country houses.'


simile,

Sindbad, to borrow

Albany Fonblanque's vigorous


old

was getting
!

rid of the

man

of the sea, not permanently, alas

but at least for

the occasion.
nation,

During the progress of these negotiations, the


exclaimed

now

confident of victory, stood not merely at attenalert.


'

tion but

on the

say,'

Attwood

Birmingham
the slip
of

and the phrase expressed the situation


moment
like

at

'

the

people of England stand at this


!

greyhounds on
'

'

Triumph was only a matter of


to

time.

Pray beg

Lord Grey
'

keep

well,'

wrote Sydney Smith to the


issue.
I see

Countess

have no doubt of a favourable


icebergs.'
7

an

open sea beyond the

At length the open sea was


Bill received the
it

reached, and on June

the

Reform

Royal

Assent and became the law of the land, and with


of government by public opinion began.

the era

The mode by

which the country


redress did not

at last

obtained this great measure of


itself to

commend
to

Lord John's judgment.

He

did not disguise his opinion that the creation of

many

Reform would have been a more dignified proceeding than the request from Windsor to noble Whether lords to dissemble and cloak their disappointment.

new Peers favourable

'

twelve or one hundred be the


^

number

requisite to enable
80,'

Life of George Gi'ote, by Mrs. Grote, p.

BOWING BEFORE THE STORM


the

85

Peers to give their votes in conformity with pubHc


'

opinion,' were his words,

it

seems

to

me

that the

House

of

Lords, sympathising with the people at large, and acting


in

concurrence with the enlightened state of the prevailing

wish, represents far better the dignity of the

House, and

its

share in legislation,

than a majority got together by the long

supremacy of one party in the State, eager to


by rejecting
bills

show

its ill-will

of small importance, but afraid to appear,

and skulking,

in clubs

and country houses,

in face of a

measure which has attracted the ardent sympathy of public


opinion,'

'God may
do not think
I

and, I hope, will forgive you for this


to Earl Grey,
'

bill,'

was Lord Sidmouth's plaintive lament


ever can of the
!

but

'

There

lives

no record of

reply.

The

last protest

Duke

of Wellington, delivered just

before the measure


respects,
lords,

became

law,

was characteristic
'

in

many

and not

least in its blunt honesty.

Reform,

my

has triumphed, the barriers of the Constitution are

broken down, the waters of destruction have burst the gates


of the temple,

and the tempest begins


?

to howl.

Who
its

can
?

say where

its

course should stop


part, I earnestly

who can
that

stay

speed

For

my own

hope

my

predictions

may
have

not be

fulfilled,

and

that

my

country

may not be

ruined by

the measure which the noble earl


sanctioned.'

and

his colleagues

Lord John Russell, on the the view which he afterwards expressed


a people to represent
its

contrary, held then


:

'

It is the right

of

grievances

it

is

the business of a

statesman to devise remedies.'


present century the people

In the

first

quarter of the

made

their grievances

known.

Lord Grey and


in
in its strength

his

Cabinet in 1831-2 devised remedies, and,


'

Lord John's memorable phrase, popular enthusiasm rose

and converted them

into law.'

S6

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


/

The Reform
nothing to

Bill,

as Walter Bagehot has shown, did


evils

remove the worst

from which the nation


evils

suffered, for the simple


political

reason that those

were not

but economical.

But

if it

left

unchallenged the

reign of protection

and much
it

else in the

way of palpable

and

glaring injustice,

ushered in a new temper in regard


recognised the

to public questions.

It

new conditions of

English society, and gave the mercantile and manufacturing


classes,

with their^wealth, intelligence, and energy, not only

the consciousness of power, but the sense of responsibility.

The
the

political struggle

under

Pitt

had been between


that

aristocracy

and the monarchy, but

under Grey
classes,

was between the aristocracy

and the middle

for

the claims of the democracy in

the broad sense of the

word

lay outside the scope of the measure.

In spite of

its

halting confidence in the people,

men

felt

that former things

of harsh oppression
Bill

had passed away, and that the Reform


It

rendered their return impossible.


it

was

at best only

a half measure, but

broke the old exclusive traditions and

diminished to a remarkable degree the power of the landed


interest
in

Parliament.

It

has been said that


crisis to

it

was the

business of Lord John Russell at that

save England

from copying the example of the French Revolution, and


there can be

no doubt whatever

that the measure was a

safety-valve at a

a
as

moment when political excitement assumed The public rejoicings were inspired menacing form. much by hope as by gladness. A new era had dawned,
spirit

the will of the nation had prevailed, the

of progress

was abroad, and the multitudes knew that other reforms


less
'

showy perhaps but not


at

less substantial,
Bill,

were

at

hand.
at
it

Look

England before the Reform


Mr.

and look

now,'

wrote

Froude

in

in

1874.

'Its

population

A GENEROUS TRIBUTE
almost

87
;

doubled

its

commerce quadrupled
lifted to

every in-

dividual in the

kingdom

k high level of comfort


year
;

and

intelligence

the

speed quickening every

the

advance so enormous, the increase so splendid, that language


turns to rhetoric in describing
it.'

When due

allowance
for alas
!

is

made
'

for the rhetoric of


'

such a description

the

high level of comfort


unattained

for every individual in the

kingdom

is still

the substantial truth of such a statement


When
the battle was fought, Lord

cannot be gainsaid.

John was generous enough to say that the success of the Reform Bill in the House of Commons was due mainly to
the confidence
felt in

the integrity and sound judgment of


his

Lord Althorp.
conviction that

At the same time he never concealed


it

was the multitude outside who made the

measure

resistless.

88

LORD TORN RUSSELL

CHAPTER V
THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA
1833-I838

The

turn of the tide with the Whigs The two voices'in the CabinetLord John and Ireland Althorp and the Poor Law ^The Melbourne Administration on the rocks Peel in power The question Marriage of Lord John Grievances of Nonconof Irish tithes formistsLord Melbourne's influence over tlie Queen Lord Durham's mission to Canada Personal sorrow.

High-water mark was reached


of 1833,

with the Whigs in the spring

and before the

tide turned,

two years

later,

Lord

Grey and

his colleagues had, in

various directions, done

much
when
the

to justify the

hopes of their followers.

the General Election in the previous


the
first

The result of December was seen


at

Reformed Parliament assembled


29, 1833.

West-

minster,

on January
of

Lord Althorp,

as

Leader of

House

Commons, found

himself with 485 members

at his back, whilst Sir

Robert Peel confronted him with


After
it

about 170 stalwart Tories.


hardly as great as
it

all,

the disparity

was

looked, for

was a mixed multitude


were the elements

which followed Althorp, and


of conflict and even of revolt.

in its ranks

cause

with the
every

The Whigs had made common Radicals when the Reform Bill stood in
hour, ^but

jeopardy

the

triumph of the measure

imperilled this grand alliance.

Not a few of the Whigs had


struggle,

been faint-hearted during the

and were now some-

REMEDIAL MEASURES
what alarmed at was either to
its

89
Their inclination

overwhelming success.

rest

on

their laurels or to

make

haste slowly.
to

The

Radicals, on the contrary, longed for

new worlds

conquer.
desired

They were full nothing so much as

of energy

and enthusiasm, and

to ride abroad redressing

human

wrongs.

The

traditions of the past

were dear to the Whigs,

but the
aside,

Radicals thrust

such considerations impatiently

and boasted

that 1832

was the Year

of the people.

It was impossible that such warring elements should perma-

nently coalesce
long.

the marvel

is

that they held together so

Even in the Cabinet there were two voices. The Duke of Richmond was at heart a Tory masquerading in the Lord Durham was a Radical of an outdress of a Whig.
spoken and uncompromising type,
trappings
in spite of his aristocratic

and

his great possessions.

Nevertheless, the

new

era opened, not merely with a flourish of trumpets, but with

notable work in

the

realm

of

practical

statesmanship.

Fowell Buxton took up the work of Wilberforce on behalf


of the desolate

and oppressed, and


;

lived

to bring

about

the abolition of slavery


at

whilst Shaftesbury's charity

began

home

with the neglected factory children.

Religious
the

toleration

was

represented
Bill,

in

the

Commons by
in the

Jewish Relief
defeat

and

its

opposite

Lords by the
the

of

that

measure.

Althorp

amended
its

Poor

Laws, and, though neither he nor his colleagues would

admit the

fact,

the

bill

rendered, by

alterations in the

provisions of settlement

and the bold attack which

on the thraldom of labour, the repeal of the


inevitable.

made Corn Laws


it

Grant renewed the charter of the East India


its

Company, but not

monopoly of the trade with the

East.

Roebuck brought forward a great scheme

of education, whilst

yu
Orotc souglit
interests of
to

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


iVilroducn tlic
Ltii at

^B
in

ballot,

and ITumo,

thej

economy,

the cost of much personal odium,


in

assailed sinecures and extravagance

every shai)e and form.

^Vard drew attention to the abuses of the Irish Church, and


did

much by
tlu;

his exertions to lessen

them

and Lord John

Kussell a year or two later brought about a civic revolution

by

Municipal
of

Reform Act

measure which, next to

liu' rc;forni

l*nrliaiiR:nl,

did more to broaden and uplift the

political life of th(;

people than any other enactment of the

century.

Ireland blocked the way of Lord Grey's Ministry,


talk

and the wild


his

and hectoring

attitude of O'Connell,

and

bold bid for personal ascendency,

made

it

difficult for

responsible statesmen to deal calmly with the problems by

which

tlu!y

were confronted.
1

il is

true that

vord Joiin

was not always on the side of the


1

angels of progress and redress.


like;

U;

blundered occasionally

other men, and sometimes even hesitated strangely to


it

give effect to his convictions, and therefore


as well as

would be

idle

absurd

to attemi)t
infallible.

to

consistent,

much
that

less

make out that he was The Radicals a little later


and supported

complained

he talked of

finality in reform,

the coercive measures of Stanley in Ireland, and opposed

Hume

in his efforts to

secure the abolition of naval and mili-

tary sinecures.

He

declined to support a proposed investilist.

gation of the pension

He

set his face against

Tennyson's

scheme
had
Hut

for shortening the duration of Parliaments,

and Orote
ballot.

to reckon
in

with his hostility to the


it

adoption of the

spite of

all,

he was

still,

in
*

Sydney Smith's happy


Lord John Reformer.'
his

j)hrase, to all intents

and purposes

No

one doubted

his

honesty or challenged

motives.

The compass by which


political life

Russell steered his course through

might tremble, but

men felt

that

it

remained

true.

FIRST VISIT TO IRELAND


Ireland
sec any
to
'

9I

drew

forth

his

sympathies, but he failed to


'

way out of the

difficulty.

wish

knew what
to

do

to help your country,' were his

words

Moore,

but, as I

do

not,

it is

of no use giving her smooth words,


I

as

O'Connell told me, and

must be
sit
still

silent.'

It

was

not in his nature, however, to

with folded hands.

He

held his peace, but quietly crossed the Channel to


It

study the problem on the spot.


the distressful country for
to

was

his first visit to

many

years,

and he wished Moore and


friend.

accompany him

as guide, philosopher,

He
first

assured the poet that he would allow him to be as patriotic


as he pleased about
' '

the

first

flower of the earth

and

gem of the sea during the proposed sentimental journey. Your being a rebel,' were his words, may somewhat atone
*
'

for

my

being a Cabinet Minister.'

Moore, however, was

compelled to decline the tempting proposal by the necessity


of making ends meet by sticking to the hack work which
that universal provider of knowledge, Dr. Lardner,

had

set

him

in

the interests of the Cabinet Encyclopoedia' an enter'

prise to

which men of the calibre of Mackintosh, Southey,

Herschell, and even Walter Scott had lent a helping hand.

Lord John landed in Ireland in the beginning of September 1833, and went first to Lord Duncannon's place at
Bessborough.
visit

Afterwards he proceeded to Waterford to


his colleague in the representation of

Lord Ebrington,

Devonshire.

He

next found his way to Cork and Killarney,


to

and he wrote again

Moore urging him


must
have

to

'hang Dr.
at the

Lardner on his tree of knowledge,' and to join him


eleventh
hour.

Moore

been

in

somewhat
persuasion

reduced circumstances at the


pleasure-loving man,
to

moment for he was a luxurious,


much
such an appeal availed

who

never required

throw down his work

since

92
nothing.

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

Meanwhile Lord John had carried Lord Ebrington back to DubUn, and they went together to the North of
Ireland.
tion
;

The

visit

to

Belfast attracted considerable atten-

Bill were of course fresh in the public mind, and he was entertained in orthodox fashion at a public dinner. This short tour in

Lord John's

services over the

Reform

Ireland did

much

to

open

his eyes to the real grievances of

the people, and, fresh from the scene of disaffection, he was

able to speak with authority


the

when

the late

autumn compelled
in order to

Whig Cabinet
if

to

throw everything else aside

some measure of relief for Ireland. was Chief Secretary, and, though one of the most
devise
possible

Stanley,
brilliant

men

of his time alike in deed and word, unfortunately his

haughty temper and autocratic leanings were a grievous hindrance if a policy of coercion was to be exchanged for
the

more

excellent

way of

his policy in scathing terms,


bitter invective,

and

in

O'Connell opposed and attacked him personally with the end there was open war between

conciliation.

the two men.

Lord Grey, now that Parliamentary Reform had been conceded, was developing into an easy going aristocratic

Whig
though
to

of somewhat contracted
still

sympathies,

and

Stanley,

in

the the

Cabinet,
affairs

was apparently determined


Ireland

administer

of

on the most ap-

proved Tory principles.


were
in

Althorp, Russell, and

Duncannon
decidedly

men whose

sympathies leaned more or

less

the

opposite direction,

and

therefore,

especially with

O'Connell thundering at the gates with the Irish people and the English Radicals at his back, a deadlock was inevitable.

Durham,
tionary,

in

ill

health and chagrin, and irritated by the sta-

if

not reactionary, attitude of certain

members

ot

the Grey Administration, resigned office in the spring of

POOR LAW REFORM


1833.
to

93

Goderich became Privy

Seal,

and thisenabled Stanley


he had

exchange the Irish Secretaryship for that of the Colonies.

He

had driven Ireland

to the verge of revolt, but

nevertheless

made an honest attempt


and
his

to grapple with

many

practical evils,

Education

Bill

was a piece of con-

structive statesmanship

which placed

Roman

Catholics on

an

equahty with
Althorp

Protestants.

Early in the session of

1834
Act,

introduced

the

Poor

Law Amendment
The changes
for
its

and the measure was passed


it

in July.

which

brought
drastic.

about

were

startling,

enact-

ments were
to

This great economic measure came


in

the relief of a nation

which

'

one person
limited

in every
relief

seven was a pauper.'


destitution, prohibited

The new law


to

to

out-door help to the able-bodied,


detect imposture,

beyond medical

aid,

instituted tests

confederated parishes
district

into

unions, and substituted large

workhouses

for

merely local shelters for the destitute.

In

five years

the poor rate was reduced by three millions,


set free

and the population,


'

by the new interpretation of

Settlement,' were

able, in their

own

phrase, to follow the

work and

to congregate accordingly wherever the: chance of

a livelihood offered.

One

great question followed hard

on the heels of another.


In the King's Speech at the opening of Parliament, the
consideration of Irish tithes was

recommended,

for extin-

guishing
rights

'

all

just causes of

complaint without injury to the

and property of any

class of subjects or to

any

institu-

tion in

Church

or State.'

Mr. Littleton (afterwards Lord


as Irish Secretary

Hatherton),

who had succeeded Stanley


new Tithe
Bill,

accordingly introduced a

the object of which

was to change the


the landlord,

tithe first into

a rent-charge payable by

and eventually

into. land tax.

The measure also

94

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

proposed that the clergy should be content with a sum which


fell

short of the

amount

to

which they were entitled by

law,

so that riot and bloodshed might be avoided by lessened

demands.
frankly

On
to

the second reading of the


faith

bill,

Lord John

avowed the

that

was

in

him, a circumstance
declared that, as he

which led

unexpected

results.
bill

He

understood
the
to

it,

the aim of the


tithe.

was to determine and secure

amount of the

The

question of appropriation was


If the object of the bill

be kept entirely

distinct.

was

to grant a certain

sum

to the Established
to

Church of
be a

Ireland,
it

and the question was


be
different.

end

there, his opinion of


it

might
secure

But he understood

to

bill to

a certain amount of property and revenue destined by the


State to religious

and charitable purposes, and


it

if

the State

should find that

was not appropriated

justly to the purit

poses of religious and moral instruction,

would then be

the duty of Parliament to consider the necessity of a different


appropriation.

His opinion was that the revenues of the


larger than necessary for the religious
to

Church of Ireland were


Church, and

and moral instruction of the persons belonging


for the stability of the

that

Church

itself.

to

Lord John did not think it would be advisable or wise mix the question of appropriation with the question of
;

amount of the revenues


cated the property in

but when Parliament had vindi-

tithes,

he should then be prepared to


If,

assert his opinion with regard to their appropriation.

when
with

the revenue was once secured, the assertion of that


differ

opinion should lead him to

and separate from those

whom he was united by political connection, and for whom he entertained the deepest private affection, he should
feel

much

regret

yet he

should, at whatever cost


his

and

sacrifice,

do what he should consider

bounden duty

namely, do justice to Ireland.

UPSETTING THE COACH

95

He

afterwards explained that this speech, which pro-

duced a great impression, was prompted by the attitude of


Stanley concerning the permanence and inviolability of the
Irish

Church.

He

was, in

fact,

afraid

that

if

Stanley's

statement was allowed to pass in silence by his colleagues,


the whole

Government would be regarded

as pledged to the

maintenance in their existing shape of the temporalities of


an alien
institution.

own

bat,

Lord John accordingly struck from his amid the cheers of the Radicals. Stanley expressed
his view of the situation in

to Sir

James Graham
'

the

now
truth

familiar phrase,

Johnny has upset the

coach.'

The

was, divided counsels existed in the Cabinet

on

this question

of appropriation, and Lord John's blunt deliverance, though


it

did not wreck the Ministry, placed

it

in a

dilemma.

He
in

\yas

urged by some of his colleagues to


said,

explairi

away what
no

he had

but he had

made up

his

mind and was

humour

to retract.

Palmerston, with

whom he was

destined to have

many an

encounter in coming days, thought he ought to have been


turned out of the Cabinet, and others of his colleagues were
hardly less incensed.
of Mr. Ward,

The independent member, in the person


St.

who sat for

Albans, promptly took advantage

of Russell's speech to bring forward a motion to the effect


that the
lation,

Church

in Ireland

'

exceeds the wants of the popu-

and ought

to

be reduced.'

This proposition was

elbowed out of the way by the appointment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the revenues of the Irish Church
Stanley
able,
felt
;

but

that his position in the Cabinet


retired

was now unten-

and therefore

from

office in the

company of

the

Duke of Richmond, Lord Ripon, and Sir James Graham. The Radicals made no secret of their glee. Ward, they held, had
been a benefactor to the party beyond
for

their wildest dreams,

he had exorcised the

evil spirits

of the Grey Administration.

96

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Lord Grey had an opportunity
at this crisis of infusing

fresh vigour into his Ministry

by

raising to Cabinet rank

men
|

of progressive views

who stood

well

with the country.


the

Another course was, however, taken,

for

Marquis of

Conyngham became Postmaster-General,

the Earl of Carlisle

Privy Seal, whilst Lord Auckland went to the Admiralty, and

Mr. Spring Rice became Colonial Secretary, and so the opportunity of a genuine reconstruction of the
lost.

Government was

The

result was, the


satisfied.

Government was weakened, and


and the " Times,"
in a
fires

no one was

'Whigs, Tories, and Radicals,' wrote

Greville, 'join in full cry against them,

succession of bitter vituperative articles very well done,


off its

contempt and disgust

at the paltry

patching-up of the

Cabinet.'

Durham's retirement, though made on the score of


ill-health,

had not merely cooled the enthusiasm of the

Radicals towards the Grey Administration, but had also

awakened

their

suspicions.

Lord John was


;

restive,

and

inclined to kick over the traces

whilst Althorp,

whose
'

tastes

were bucolic, had also a desire to depart.


exclaimed,
insist
'

Nature,' he

intended

me

to

be a

grazier

but

men

will

on making
that

me

a statesman.'
office

He

confided to Lord

John
'

he detested
'

to such

an extent that he

wished, himself dead

every morning
here,
there,

when he awoke.
and everywhere,
and
its

Meanwhile vested

interests

were uniting their forces against the Ministry,

sins

of omission as well as of commission were leaping to light

on the platform and


he

in the Press.

Wellington found his

reputation for political sagacity agreeably recognised,


fell

and

into

the

attitude

of an

oracle

whose jeremiads

had come
of.

true.

When Lord Grey

proposed the renewal

the

Coercion Act .without

alteration.

Lord

Althorp

O'CONNELL THROWS DOWN THE GAUNTLET


expressed a strong objection to such a proceeding.

97
had

He

assured Littleton that the Act would not be put in force


again in
its

entirety,

and the

latter,

with more candour than


to O'Connell,

discretion,

had communicated the intimation


it

who

bruited

abroad.

Ireland,

Lord John had come to definite convictions about and he was determined not to remain in the Cabinet

unless he was allowed to speak out.

On June

23 the Irish

Tithe Bill reached the stage of committee, and Littleton

drew attention
into the

to the changes

which had been introduced which

measure
felt

slight concessions to public opinion

Lord John
case.

were too paltry to meet the gravity of the

O'Connell threw down the gauntlet to the Ministry,

and asked the House to pass an amendment asserting that


the surplus revenues of the Church ought to be applied to

purposes of public

utility.

Peel laid significant stress on

the divided counsels in the Ministry, and accused Lord


of asserting that the Irish

John
latter

Church was the


had

greatest grievance

of which the nation had ever

to complain.

The

repudiated such a charge, and explained that what he had


said

was that the revenues of the Church were too great


continued existence.
if it

for

its stability,

thereby implying that he both desired and con-

templated

its

Although not unwilling


went hand
an
in

to support a mild Coercion Bill,

hand with
it

a determined effort to deal with abuses, he


that repressive enactments without such

made

clear

effort at

Reform

were altogether repugnant to

his
'

sense of justice.

He

declared that Coercion Acts were


those

peculiarly abhorrent to

who

pride themselves on the

name

of Whigs

'

and he

added

that,

when

such a necessity arose. Ministers were con'

fronted with the duty of looking

deeper into the causes of


'

the long-standing and permanent evils

of Ireland.

am


98

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

not prepared to continue the government of Ireland without


fully

probing her condition


coercion,

am

not prepared to propose


large force of
far

bills for

and the maintenance of a

military

and

police, without

endeavouring to improve, so
I will

as lies in

my

powder, the condition of the people.

not

be a Minister to carry

on systems which

think founded
it

on bigotry and prejudice.


may, I

Be

the consequence what

am

content to abide by these opinions, to carry them

out to their fullest extent, not by any premature declaration


of mere opinion, but by going on gradually, from time to

time improving our institutions, and, without injuring the


ancient and venerable fabrics, rendering

them

fit

and proper Such a

mansions

for a great, free,

and

intelligent people.'
it

speech was worthy of Fox, and


John's biography of that

recalls a passage in

Lord
his

illustrious statesman.

Fox did

best in the teeth of prejudice

and obloquy
of

to free Ireland

from the thraldom which been denied

centuries

oppression had

created: 'In 1780, in 1793, and in 1829, that which had


to

reason was granted to

force.

Ireland

triumphed, not because the justice of her claims was apparent,

but because the threat of insurrection overcame preju-

dice,

made

fear superior to bigotry,


^

and concession trium-

phant over persecution.'

Even O'Connell expressed his admiration of this bold and fearless declaration, and the speech did much to increase

Lord John's reputation, both within and without the


of

House
tion,

Commons.

In answer to a

letter of congratula-

he said

that his friends

would make him, by


he was not

their

encouragement

what

he

felt

by nature

a good speaker.

'There are occasions,' he added,

'on

which one must express one's feelings or sink into contempt.


1

Russell's Life of Fox ^ vol.

i.

p. 242.

CROSS CURRENTS
I

99
in

own

have not been easy during the period


it

which

thought

absolutely necessary to suspend the assertion of

my

opinions in order to secure peace in this country.'

Lord

John's attitude on this occasion threw into relief his keen


sense of political responsibility, no less than the honesty

and courage which were


or two
later the

characteristic of the

man.

day

Cabinet drifted on to the rocks.

The

policy of Coercion was reaffirmed in spite of Althorp's protests,

and

in spite also of Littleton's pledge to the contrary

to O'Connell.

Generosity was not the strong point of the

Irish orator, and, to the confusion of Littleton

and the
his
last

annoyance of Grey, he insisted on taking the world into


confidence from his place in Parliament.
straw.

This was the

Lord Althorp would no longer serve, and Lord Grey, harassed to death, determined no longer to lead. After all, Johnny was only one of many who upset the
'
'

coach, which, in truth, turned over because


rotten.

its

wheels were

On

the evening of June 29 a meeting of the Cabinet


in Russell's words,
'

was held, and,

Lord Grey placed before


that of

us the letters containing his

own resignation and


before us
the

Lord

Althorp, which he had sent early in the morning to the

King.

He

likewise

laid

King's gracious

acceptance of his resignation, and he gave to Lord Mel-

bourne a sealed

letter

from his Majesty.


found
in
it

Lord Melbourne,
Seeing that

upon opening

this letter,

an invitation to him to
the Cabinet and

undertake the formation of a Government.


nothing was to be done that night, I
left

went to the Opera.'

Lord Melbourne was sent


unaltered.

for

in July,

and took

his

place at the head of a Cabinet which remained practically

He

had been

Home

Secretary under Grey,


fill

and Duncannon was now called

to

that post.

The
H
2

lOO
first
it

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Melbourne Administration was
succession
his

short-lived, for

when
to

had existed four months Earl Spencer


his

died,

and Althorp,

on

to

the

peerage,

was

compelled
of

relinquish

leadership
little for

of

the

House

Commons.

William IV. cared

Melbourne, and

less for Russell,

and, as he wished to pick a quarrel with the Whigs, since


their policy excited his alarm,

he used Althorp

for a pretext.

Lord Grey had professed

to regard Althorp as indispensable

to the Ministry, and the King imagined that Melbourne would adopt the same view. Although reluctant to part with

Althorp,

who

eagerly seized the occasion of his accession to


retire

an earldom to

from

official life,
fall

Melbourne refused
fact.

to

believe that the heavens

would

because of that

There was no pressing


the

conflict

of opinion between

King and
himself

his advisers, but

William IV. nevertheless


of Althorp's
elevation

availed

of the

accident

to the peerage to

dismiss

the Ministry.
fell

The

reversion

of the leadership in the

Commons

naturally to

Lord
fact.
it

John, and
'

Melbourne was

quick to recognise the


Russell,
I told
'

Thus

invited,'

says Lord John

considered

my

duty to accept the task, though

Lord Melbourne

that I could not expect to have the

same influence with the


Althorp had possessed.
said,

House

of

Commons which Lord


if I

In conversation with Mr. Abercromby I


than in earnest, that

more

in joke

were offered the

command

of the

Channel Fleet, and thought it my duty to accept, I should not It was unhke Sydney Smith to treat the remark refuse it.'
about taking

command of
;

the Channel Fleet seriously,

when

'he elaborated a charge' against Lord John on the Deans

and Chapters question


his

but even the witty Canon could lose

temper sometimes.

The King, however, had

strong opinions on the subject

WILLIAM
of

IV.

DEFENDER OF THE FAITH


and he expressed
in

lOl

Lord John's

qualifications,

emphatic

terms his disapproval.

The
and

nation trusted Lord John, and

had come

to definite

flattering conclusions

about him
pre-

as a statesman, but at
vailed.

Windsor a
fact,

different opinion

The

King, in

made no

secret to

Lord Melnor the

bourne, in the famous interview at Brighton, of his conviction


that

Lord John Russell had neither the

ability

in-

fluence to qualify

him
like

for the

task
'

and he added

that

he would

'

make

a wretched figure

when opposed
'

in the

Commons by men
that

Peel and Stanley.

His Majesty
understand

further volunteered the

remark that he did not

young gentleman,' and could not agree

to the arrange-

ment proposed.

William, moreover, took occasion to pose

as a veritable, as well as titular,

Defender of the Faith,


'

for,

on the authority of Baron Stockmar, the King

considered

Lord John Russell up


his

to

have pledged himself to certain en-

croachments on the Church, which his Majesty had made

mind and expressed

his determination to resist.'

As
his

Russell was clearly quite out of the reckoning, Melbourne

suggested two other names.

But the King had made up

mind on more

subjects than one,

and next morning. Lord

Melbourne found himself


which informed him
his

in possession of a written paper,

Majesty had no further occasion

either for his services or for those of his colleagues.

William

IV.

acted

within the

his

constitutional

rights,

but such an exercise of


say the
spired
least,

royal

prerogative was, to

worthy of George IIL in his most uninAlthorp regarded the King's action as the

mood.

'greatest piece of folly ever committed,'


in reply to the friendly note
verdict,

and Lord John,


this

which contained

emphatic

summoned

his philosophy to his aid in the follow:

ing characteristic rejoinder

'

suppose everything

is

for

102

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


;

the best in this world

otherwise the only good which I


it

should see in

this

event would be that

saves

me

from

being sadly pommelled by Peel and Stanley, to say nothing


of O'ConnelL'

Wellington,

who was

hastily

summoned by

the King, suggested that Sir Robert Peel should be entrusted

with the formation of a


Sir

new Government.

Robert Peel was accordingly sent for in hot haste from


to

Rome

form a new Ministry.

On

his arrival in

London

in

December
Cabinet.

1834, he at once set about the formation of a

This

is

Jekyll's
is

comment
at

'

Our

crisis
I

has been

entertaining,

and Peel

expected to-day.

wish he could

have remained long enough

Rome

to

have learnt mosaic,

of which parti-coloured materials our Cabinets have been

constructed for twenty years, and for want of cement have


fallen to pieces.

The Whigs
in,

squall out, " Let us depart,

for the

Reformers grow too impatient."

The

Tories squall

out, "

Let us come

and we

will

be very good boys, and


is

become Reformers ourselves."


by the Reform
Bill, for
;

However, the country

safe

no Minister can remain

in ofifice

now

by corrupt Parliaments

he must act with approbation of the

country or lose his Cabinet in a couple of months.'

At the

General Election which followed, Peel issued his celebrated


address to the electors of Tamworth, in which he declared
himself favourable to the reform of
'

proved abuses,' and

to

the carrying out of such measures 'gradually, dispassionately,

and

deliberately,' in order that


for

it

might be
;

lasting.

Lord
re-

John was returned again


from 314 to 107.
not merely
cleverest
It

South Devon

but on the

assembling of Parliament the Liberal majority had dwindled

was during

his election tour that

he

delivered an address at Totnes, which Greville described as


'

a very masterly performance,' but


'

'

one of the
read.

and most appropriate speeches he had ever

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION


and
for

IO3
It

which

his friends

warmly compHmented him.

was a powerful and humorous examination of the Tories'


professed anxiety for Reform, and of the prospects of any

Reform

measures

being

carried

out

by

their

instru-

mentality.

Lord John now became leader of the Opposition, though the Duke of Bedford dreaded the strain, and expostulated
with his son on his acceptance of so irksome and laborious
a task.
'

You

will

have to conduct and keep

in order a

noisy and turbulent pack of hounds which,


find
fears
it

I think,

you

will

quite impossible to restrain.'

The Duke

of Bedford's

were not groundless, and Lord John afterwards con-

fessed that, in the whole period during which he

had led the

House of Commons, he never had so The forces under his command consisted difficult a task. of a few stalwart Radicals, a number of Whigs of the traditional and somewhat stationary type, and some sixty Irish
Liberal party in the

members. Nevertheless, he promptly assumed an aggressive


attitude,

and

his first victory as leader of the

Opposition was
Speaker,

won on

the question of the choice of a


in

new

when

Mr. Abercromby was placed


the Ministerial candidate.

the chair in preference to the session went on. Lord

As

John's resources in attack grew more and more marked, but

he was foiled by the lack of cohesion amongst his followers.


It

became evident

that, unless all sections of the

Opposi-

tion were united as

one man, the Government of

Sir

Robert

Peel could not be overthrown.

Alliance with the Radicals

and the

Irish party, although hateful to the old-fashioned


fact imperative.

Whigs, was in

Lord John summoned a


;

meeting of the Opposition at Lord Lichfield's house

the

support of the Radicals and Irish was secured, and then


the leader marshalled his forces for what he

hoped would

104

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


His expectations were not disap-

prove a decisive victory.

pointed, for early in April he brought forward a motion for the

appropriation of the surplus revenues of the Irish Church


to general

moral and religious purposes, and won with a


Sir

majority of twenty-seven votes (285 to 258).


forthwith resigned, and the
cavalier dismissal

Robert Peel
for their

Whigs were avenged

by the King,

On

the day after the Prime Minister's resignation,

Lord

John Russell was married

April
title.

11, 1835, at St. George's,

Hanover Square

to Adelaide,

Lady Ribblesdale,

the

widow

of the second bearer of that


strife

The
at

respite

from

political

was of short duration,

for

the end of forty-eight


to take the seals of

hours he was
the

summoned from Woburn


of the

Home

Office in the second

Melbourne Administration.

The members

to their constituents for

new Cabinet presented themselves re-election, and Lord John suffered

defeat in Devonshire.
at Stroud,

seat was, however,


in

found
the

for

him
of

and

in

May
first

he was back again

House

Commons.
him, on June

The
5,

measure of importance introduced by

was the Municipal Reform Act


results

a measure
swept away
corporate
of

which embodied the


subject appointed by a host of antiquated
cities

of the

Commission on the

Lord Grey.
and absurd
the

The

bill

privileges of

and

towns,

abolished

authority of cliques

freemen, rectified a variety of abuses, and entrusted municipal

government
piloted

to

the

hands of

all

taxpayers.

Lord

John
rights.

the

measure through

the

Commons, and

fought almost single-handed the representatives of vested


After a long contest with the Opposition and the

Lords,

he had the satisfaction of passing the


its

bill,

in a

somewhat modified form, through

final
it

stages in Septas long as they

ember, though the Peers, as usual, opposed

A POPULAR OVATION
dared,

I05

and only yielded


Irish

at last

and Wellington

in the other

when Peel in the one House recommended concession.


subsequently introduced,
the clauses for the appro-

The
and,

Tithes Bill was


it

though

now included
it

priation of certain revenues,

passed the

Commons by

a majority of thirty-seven.

The

Lords, however, struck

out the appropriation clauses, and the Government in con-

sequence abandoned the measure.


Bill

The

Irish

Municipal

shared a similar

fate,

and Lord John's

desire to see

justice

done

in Ireland

was brought

for the

moment

to

naught.

The

labours of the session had been peculiarly

arduous, and in the

autumn

his

health suffered from the

prolonged

strain.

His

ability as

a leader of the

House

of

Commons,
nised by

in spite of the dismal predictions of


solicitude,

William IV.

and the admonitions of paternal

was now recog-

men

of

all

shades of opinion, though, of course, he

had

to confront the criticism alike of candid friends

and

equally outspoken foes.

He

recruited his energies in the


recently

West of England, and, though he had been so

defeated in Devonshire, wherever he went the people, by

way of amends, gave him an ovation. Votes of thanks were accorded to him for his championship of civil and religious
liberty,

and

in

November he was

entertained at a banquet
testimonial,

at

Bristol,

and presented with a handsome

raised

by the sixpences of ardent Reformers.

Parliament, in the Speech from the Throne,


session of 1836 began,

when

the

was called upon

to take into early

consideration various measures of Reform.

The programme

of the Ministry, like that of many subsequent administrations,

was not lacking in ambition.


the antiquated

It

was proposed to deal with


in

and vexatious manner


tithes of the

which from time

immemorial the

English Church had been col-

I06
lected.

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


The
question of Irish tithes was also once more to
for solution
relief of its
;

be brought forward
of Ireland

the municipal corporations

and the

poor were to be dealt with

in the light of recent legislation for

England

in the

same

direction.

Improvements
'

in the practical

working of the

administration of justice,

more

especially in the Court of


it

Chancery,' were foreshadowed, and

was announced that

the early attention of Parliament would also be called to


certain
'

grievances which affect those

who

dissent from the

doctrines or discipline of the Established Church.'


list

Such a

of measures bore

on

its

very face the unmistakeable


zeal for political redress

stamp of Lord John Russell's


religious toleration.

and

Early in the session he brought forward

two measures

for the relief of

Nonconformists.

One of them
Nonconfor a

legalised marriages in the presence of a registrar in

formist

places of worship,
civil

and the other provided


marriage

general

registration

of births, marriages,
in

and deaths.
church as

His
well

original

proposal

was that

as

chapel should only take place after


to

due notice

had been given

the

registrar.

to entertain such an

idea,-

and the

The bishops refused House of Lords gave

effect to their objections, with the result that the registrar

was bowed out of church, though not out of chapel, where


indeed he remains to
this day.

The Tithe Commutation

Act and three other measures


incomes
creating

one
its

for

equalising

the

of

prelates,

rearranging

ancient

dioceses

and
and and
lent

new

sees

another for the better application of

the revenues of the

Church

to

general purposes

a third to diminish pluralities


for ecclesiastical reform.

bore witness
first

to his ardour in 1836,

The

became law

the other two

respectively

in

1838 and 1839.

He

his aid also to the

movement

for the

foundation on a broad

THE queen's accession


and
ship
liberal basis of a

I07
with power

new

university in
to

London

to confer degrees

a concession
culture

Nonconformist scholar-

and

liberal

generally,

which was the more


still

appreciated since

Oxford and Cambridge


tests

jealously

excluded by their religious


Churches.

the youth of the Free

The Tithe Commutation Act was passed

in

June

it

provided for the exchange of tithes into a rent-charge upon


land payable in money, but according to a sliding scale

which varied with the average price of corn during the


seven

preceding years.
to

In the opinion of Lord Farn-

borough,

no measure since the Reformation has the


security.

Church owed so much peace and


Municipal
Bill

The

Irish

was carried

in

the

course of the session

through the Commons, but the Lords rendered the measure


impossible
;

and though the

Irish

Poor Law

Bill

was

carried,

a different fate

awaited Irish Tithes.


fifth

This measure was

introduced for the

time, but in consequence of the

King's death, on June 20, and the dissolution of Parliament

which followed,

it

had

to

be abandoned.

Between 1835

and 1837 Lord John,

as

Home

Secretary, brought about

many changes

for the better in the regulation of prisons,

and
his

especially in the treatment of juvenile offenders.

By

directions prisoners in Newgate, from metropolitan counties,

were transferred to the gaol of each county.


the steps of Sir

Following in

Samuel Romilly, he

also reduced the

number

of capital crimes, and, later on, brought about various prison


reforms, notably the establishment of a reformatory for juvenile offenders.

The rejoicings over Queen Victoria's accession in the summer of 1837 were quickly followed by a General Election. The result of this appeal to the country was that the Liberal

^^^
majority in the

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


House of Commons was reduced
he delivered a speech
in

to less

than

forty.

Lord John was again returned

for Stroud,

on

and

that occasion

which he cleverly

contrasted the legislative achievements of the Tories with those of the Whigs. He made a chivalrous allusion to the illustrious Princess who has ascended the Throne with purest intentions and the justest desires.' One passage from his speech merits quotation: 'We have had glorious
'

female

Those of Elizabeth and Anne led us to great victories Let us now hope that we are going to have a female reign
reigns.

deeds of peace-an Elizabeth without her Anne without her weakness. I trust that we may succeed in making the reign of Victoria celebrated amonc.
its

Illustrious in

tyranny, an

the nations of the earth and to land may not forget her

all posterity,

and

that

Eng"

how

precedence of teaching the nations

to live.'

favourite with William he stood high in the regard of the young Queen. Her Majesty was but eighteen when she ascended the throne upon which her reign has shed so great a lustre she had been brought up in comparative seclusion,

Lord Melbourne had never been a


first

but from the

and her
Lord

and the respect which her Majesty gave to his years was heightened by the quick recognition of the fact that the Prime Minister was one of the most experienced statesmen which the country at that moment possessed. He was also a man of ready wit, and endowed with the charm of fine manners,
sixty,

knowledge of public affairs was, of necessity, Melbourne at that time was approaching

small.

and

nonchalance there lurked more earnest and patriotic conviction than he ever cared to admit. I am sorry to hurt any man's fedings,' said Sydney Smith, 'and to brush aside the magnificent fabric of levity and gaiety he
'

under

his easy

'

k
2
ti
,

LORD MELBOURNE AND THE COURT


;

I09

has reared
gence.'

but

accuse our Minister of honesty and dihfilled

Ridiculous rumours

the air during the earliest

years of her Majesty's reign concerning the supposed

undue

influence which
i

Lord Melbourne exerted

at Court.

The

more advanced Radicals complained

that

he sought to

render himself indispensable to the sovereign, and that his


plan was to surround her with his friends, relations, and
creatures,

and so

to

obtain a prolonged tenure of power.

The
I

Tories also grumbled, and

ungenerous suspicions.
nor Lord Melbourne

made no secret of the same They knew neither her Majesty


thus spoke.

who

At the same

time,

it

must be admitted that Lord Melbourne was becoming more


I

and more out of touch with popular


political

aspirations,

and the

and

social questions

which were rapidly coming to


in

the

front were treated

by him

somewhat

cavalier

manner.
Russell had his
inclined to lay too

own misgivings, and was by no means much stress on the opinions of philoAt the same
time,

sophical Radicals of the type of Grote.

he urged upon Melbourne the desirability of meeting the


Radicals as far as possible, and he laid stress on the fact
that they, at least, were not seeking for grounds of difference

with the Premier.

'

There are two things which


to this

think

would be more acceptable than any others


the one to

body

make

the ballot an open question, the other to


political

remove Tories from the

command

of the army.'

Lord Melbourne, however^ believed


create
chief,

that the ballot

would

many
but in

evils

Lord John yielded to his doing so brought upon himself a good deal of
which was intensified by an unadvised

and cure none.

angry

criticism,

declaration in the

House

of

Commons.

In his speech on

the Address he referred to the question of Reform, and

'

no
declared that
in
it

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


was quite impossible
for

him

to take part

further measures of Reform.

The people

of England

might revise the Act of 1832,

or agitate for a

new one

but as for himself, he refused to be associated with any such

movement.
broke out
;

storm of expostulation and

angry protest!
to

but the advanced Reformers failed

move
So

Lord John from the position which he had taken.


and Lord John
circles

they concentrated their hostility in a harmless nickname,


for

some time forward was

called in Radical
*

and

certain journalistic publications,

Finality Jack.'

This honest but superfluous and embarrassing deliverance


brought him
taunts

and reproaches, as well


It

as

tem-

porary loss of popularity.

was always characteristic of

Lord John

to speak his mind,

and he sometimes did


in

it

not

wisely but too well.

Grote wrote

February 1838

'The

degeneracy of the Liberal party, and their passive acquies-

cence

in everything,

good or bad, which emanates from the


and
not worth while to un-

present Ministry, puts the accomplishment of any political

good out of the question

it is

dergo the fatigue of a nightly attendance in Parliament for


the simple purpose of sustaining

Whig Conservatism
wistfully to

against

Tory Conservatism.
finished

now look back

my

un-

Greek

history.'

Yet Lord Brougham,

in the year

of the Queen's accession,


*

declared that Russell was the


all.'

stoutest

Reformer of them

The rebellion in Canada was the first great incident in the new reign, and the Melbourne Cabinet met the crisis by prowhich were moved by Lord John in the Commons, posals

and adopted

for

suspending the Canadian Constitution

for

the space of four years.

The

Earl of Durham, at the be-

ginning of 1838, was appointed

Governor- General

with
dilTfi-

extraordinary powers, and he reluctantly accepted the

LORD DURHAM AND CANADA


cult post, trusting, as

III

he himself

said, to the

confidence and

support of the Government, and to the forbearance of those

who differed from his political views. No one doubts that Durham acted to the best of his judgment, though everyone
admits that he exceeded at least the
letter

of his authority

and no one can challenge,

in the light of the

subsequent

and far-reaching nature of Rehis services, both to the Crown and to the Dominion. lying on the forbearance and support, in the faith of which
history of Canada, the greatness

he had accepted

his difficult commission,


;

the Governor-

General took a high hand with the rebels

but his ordinances

were disallowed, and he was practically discredited and


openly deserted by the Government.

When

he was on the

point of returning home, a broken-hearted man, in failing


health,
it

was Lord John Russell who

at length stood

up

in

Durham's defence.
Bill,
:

Speaking on the Durham Indemnity


'

nity,

Lord John said telling you that

I
I

ask you to pass this Bill of Indemshall

be prepared when the time

comes, not indeed to say that the terms or words of the


ordinances passed by the Earl of
to

Durham

are altogether

be

justified,

but

that,

looking at his conduct as a whole,

be ready to take part with him. I shall be ready to bear my share of any responsibility which is to be incurred The generous nature of in these difficult circumstances.'
I shall

this declaration

was everywhere recognised, and by none I do not conceal from more heartily than Lord Durham. you that my feelings have been deeply wounded by the con'

duct of the Ministry.


of

From

you, however,

and you alone


;

them
I

all,

have
as
I

received any cordial support personally

and

feel,

have told you

in a

former

letter,

very

grateful to you.'

Meanwhile Lord John Russell had been called upon

112
to

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


in

oppose Mr. Grote's motion


lost

favour

of the

ballot.

Although the motion was


result

by 315 to 198 votes, the


for

was peculiarly galling

to

Lord John,

amongst the

majority were those

members who were


But
the

usually opposed to

the Government, whilst the minority was

made up

of

Lord

Melbourne's

followers.

crisis

threatening the

Ministry passed away


in

when a motion

of want of confidence
Office,

Lord

Glenelg, the

head of the Colonial

was

defeated by twenty-nine votes.

The

Irish legislation of the

Government
and
it

as represented by the Tithe Bill did not prosper,


that, in

became evident

order to pass the measure, the

Appropriation Clause must be abandoned.

Although Lord

John Russell emphatically declared


Bill

in

1835 that no Tithe

could be effective which did not include an Appro-

priation Clause,

he gave way to the claims of

political ex-

pediency, and further alienated the Radicals by allowing a

measure which had been robbed of


through Parliament.
plished during the
Irish

its

potency to pass

Lord Melbourne's Government accomsession something in the direction of


it

Reform by the passage of the Poor Law, but

failed

to carry the Municipal Bill, which in

many

respects was the

most important of the

three.

The autumn, which


Atlantic the excitement

witnessed on both sides of the


over Lord Durham's

mission to

Canada, was darkened in the home of Lord John by the


death at Brighton, on

November

i,

of his wife.

His

first

impulse was to place the resignation of his


leadership in the

office

and of
Urgent
at his

Commons in the hands


quarters were
his

of his chief.

appeals from
post, and,

all

made

to

him

to

remain

though

own

health was precarious, cheered by

the sympathy of his colleagues and of the country, he re-

sumed

his

work

after a

few weeks of quiet at Cassiobury.


113

CHAPTER
840-1 845

VI

THE TWO FRONT BENCHES


I

Lord John's position


services
to

in

the

Cabinet and in the

Education
the

Lord Stanmore's recollections Melbourne Cabinet The Duke of Wellington's opinion of Lord John The agitation against the Corn Laws Lord John's view of Sir Robert Peel The Edinburgh Letter Peel's dilemma Lord John's comment on the situation.
Policy

Mr.

Joseph Lancaster

Lord

Commons His
John's Colonial

Gladstone's opinion

The mistakes of

The

truth was,

Lord John could not be spared, and


grief.

his

strong sense of duty triumphed over his personal

One

men and movements declared that Melbourne and Russell were the only two men The in the Cabinet for whom the country cared a straw. opinion of the man in the street was summed up in Sydney
shrewd
contemporary observer of
Smith's assertion that the Melbourne

Government could
would be dissolved
reform.'

not possibly exist without Lord John, for the simple reason
that five minutes after his departure into
it

'sparks

of liberality

and spUnters of

In

1839 th Irish policy of the Government was challenged, and, on the motion of Lord Roden, a vote of censure was
carried in the

before
adroit

the

House of Lords. When the matter came Commons, Lord John delivered a speech so
skilful that friends

and so

and foes

alike were satisfied,

and even pronounced Radicals forgot

to grumble.
1

! '

114

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

Lord John's speech averted a Ministerial crisis, and on a division the Government won by twenty-two votes. A month
Jamaica came up for discussion, for the Government found itself forced, by the action of the House of Assembly in refusing to adopt the Prisons Act which had been passed by the Imperial Legislature, to ask Parlialater the affairs of

ment

to

of five

suspend the Constitution of the colony for a period years ; and on a division they gained their point by

a majority of only five votes.


autocratic measure,

The Jamaica
still

Bill

was an

which served

further to discredit

Lord Melbourne with the party of


to her
'

progress.

Chagrined
its

at

i
"

the narrow majority, the Cabinet submitted

resignation

Majesty,
felt

never

who assured Lord John that she had, more pain than when she learnt the decision I
'

of her Ministers.

The Queen

sent

first

for Wellington,

and afterwards,
to

at his suggestion, for Peel,


;

who undertook

form an Administration

but when her Majesty insisted

on retaining the services of the Whig Ladies-in-Waiting, Sir Robert declined to act, and the former Cabinet was recalled to office, though hardly with flying colours.
Education, to hark back for a moment, was the next great question with which Lord John dealt, for, in the summer of 1839, he brought in a bill to increase the grant to elementary schools from 20,000/. a year to 30,000/. first

made

in

under the control of the Privy Council, as well as to subject the aided schools to inspection.
it
'

1833 and

to place

I explained,'

was

his

own

statement,

'

in the simplest terms,

I
*

without any exaggeration,


country,

the want of education in

the

the deficiencies of religious instruction, and the injustice of subjecting to the penalties of the criminal law

persons

who had

never been taught their duty to

God and

man.'

His proposals, particularly with regard

to the establish-

JOSEPH LANCASTER
ment of a Normal
tion.
'

II5

school, were

met with a storm of opposi;

This part of the scheme was therefore abandoned

but the throwing out of one of our children to the


'

wolf,'
'

remarks Lord John,

did
its

little

to appease his fury

At

length the measure, in


the

modified shape, was carried in

Commons

but the House of Lords, led on this occasion

by the Archbishop of Canterbury, by a majority of more than


a hundred,

condemned the scheme

entirely.

Dr. Blomfield,
as peace-

Bishop of London,

at this juncture

came forward

maker, and, at a private meeting at Lansdowne House,


consisting of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of

London and
Russell,

Lord Lansdowne, and Lord John the dispute was amicably adjusted, on the basis of
Salisbury,

the reports of the Inspectors of Schools being sent to the

Bishops as well as to the Committee of Privy Council, and


co-operation between the Bishops
the

and the Committee

in

work of education.

in

The Duke of Bedford was one of the first men of position the country to come to the aid of Joseph Lancaster
philanthropist, who, in spite of poverty

young Quaker
obscurity, did

and

more

for the cause of popular education in

England

in the early years of the century than all the privi-

leged people in the country.^

niscence

may be cited,

mischievous instincts

Here a floating straw of remisince it throws momentary light on the Lord John, of a quick-witted boy.
life,

looking back towards the close of his


earliest recollections as

said

'

One
is

of

my
his

a boy at

Woburn Abbey

that of

putting on Joseph Lancaster's broad hat

and mimicking

mode
*

of salutation.'

been done to the founder of the LancasJoseph Lancaster was a remarkable man who aroused the conscience of the nation, and even the dull intelligence of George IIL, to the imperative need of popular education.
Justice has never yet
terian system of education.
I

Il6

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Lord Normanby had
;

Other changes were imminent.

proved himself to be a popular Viceroy of Ireland

indeed,

O'Connell asserted that he was one of the best Englishmen


that

had ever been sent across


capacity.

St.

George's Channel in an
;

ofBcial

He

was now Colonial Secretary

and,

in spite of his virtues,

he was scarcely the man which


so

for

such a

position

at
open

all

events, at a crisis in

affairs

required

firm handhng.

He managed
revolt.

matters

badly that the

Under-Secretary (Mr. Labouchere, afterwards Lord Taunton)

was
in

in

The

cards were accordingly shuffled


less

May

1839,

and,

amongst other and

significant

Normanby and Russell changed places. John quickly made his presence felt at the Colonial
changes,

Lord
Office.

He was

a patient listener to the permanent officials


six

indeed,

he declared that he meant to give


himself master of the

months

to

making
Like
all

new

duties of his position.

men

of the highest capacity. Lord John was never unwilling

to learn.

He held

that the Imperial

Government was bound

not merely by honour, but by enlightened self-interest, to


protect the rights

and

to

advance the welfare of the Colonies.

His words are


since

significant,

and

it

seems well to quote them,


he consistently

they
'
:

gather up

the

policy which

followed

If Great Britain gives

up her supremacy from a

niggardly spirit of parsimony, or from a craven fear of helplessness, other

Powers

will

soon look upon the Empire, not

with the regard due to an equal, as she once was, but with
jealousy of the height she once held, without the fear she once
inspired.

swaying

To build up an empire extending over every sea, many diverse races, and combining many forms of
courage and capacity
is
;

religion, requires

to allow

such an

empire to

fall

to pieces

a task which

may be performed
in conduct.'

by the poor

in intellect,

and the pusillanimous

COLONIAL POLICY

II

When Lord John


by an
official

was once asked

at the Colonial Office

of the French

Government how

much

of

Australia was claimed as the dominion of Great Britain, he

promptly answered,
aback, found
it

'

The

whole.'

The

visitor, quite

taken

expedient to take his departure.

Lord John

vigorously assailed the view that colonies which had their

own parliaments, framed on

the British model, were virtually

independent, and, therefore, had no right to expect more

than moral help from the Mother Country.


tenure of office

During

his

New

Zealand became part of the British

dominions.

By

the treaty of Waitangi, the

Queen assumed

the sovereignty,
protection

and the new colony was assured of the

Lord John assured the British Provinces of North America that, so long as they wished
of England.
to

remain subjects of the Queen, they might confidently rely


in all emergencies.

on the protection of England


Mr. Gladstone has
the remarkable
administrative
critical

in

recent

years

done
less

justice

to

prescience,

and scarcely

remarkable
to bear at a

skill,

which Lord John brought

juncture in the conduct of the Colonial policy of

the Melbourne Government.


faltering

He

lays stress

on the

'

un-

courage

'

which Russell displayed

in meeting, as far
for responsible

as

was then possible, the legitimate demand


It
is

self-government.

not,

therefore,
'

surprising that,

to

borrow Mr. Gladstone's words,


tuted

Lord John Russell

substi-

harmony

for

antagonism in the daily conduct of

affairs for

those Colonies, each of which, in an infancy of

irrepressible vigour,
it

was bursting

its

swaddling clothes.

Is

inexcusable to say that by this decision, which was far

ahead of the current opinion of the day, he saved the


Empire, possibly from disruption, certainly from

much em-

Il8
barrassment and
vision.

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


much
discredit.'
'

Lord John was a man of


his contemporaries, the

He

saw,

beyond most of

coming magnitude of the Empire, and he did


England towards her children beyond the
recognised in no churlish or half-hearted

his best to

shape on broad Hnes and to far-reaching issues the poUcy of


seas.
spirit

Lord John
the claims

of the Colonies, nor did he stand dismayed by the vision

of Empire.

'

There was a time when we might have stood


'

alone,' are his words.

That time has passed.

We

con-

quered and peopled Canada, we took possession of the

whole of Australia, Van Dieman's Land, and

New

Zealand.
is

We

have

annexed
For
our

India

to

the Crown.

There

no

going back.
tation of

my

part, I delight in

observing the imi-

free

institutions,

and even our habits and and refused


to believe

manners, in colonies at a distance from the Palace of Westminster.'

He
the

trusted the Colonies,

that

all

wisdom which was


at the

profitable to direct their

affairs

was centred in Downing

Street.

His attitude was symit

pathetic

and generous, and

same time

was candid

and

firm.

Lord Stanmore's
go back to

recollections of his father's colleague

this period,

and

will

be read with

interest

'

As

a boy of ten or twelve


sister.

I often

saw Lord John.

His

half-

Lady Louisa

Russell,

was the wife of

my

half-brother.

Lord Abercorn, and Lord John was a frequent guest at Lord Abercorn's villa at Stanmore, where my father habitually
passed his Saturdays and Sundays during the session, and

where

almost wholly lived.

My

first

conscious remem-

brance of Lord John dates from the summer of 1839, and


*
*

The Melbourne Government

Right Hon.
1890,
p. 50.

W.

E. Gladstone, M.P.

its Acts and Persons, by the The Nmeteenth C(?/z/;j, January


'

A HOSTILE RESOLUTION
in that

II9
at the Priory.

and the following years


close of 1839

I often

saw him

Towards the
the side of
the spring

Lord John
in

lost his first wife,

and

the picture of his

little figure,

deep mourning, walking by


in

my

father

on the gravel walks about the house


is

and summer of 1840

one vividly impressed on


an amused listener to
discussion between his

my

recollection.
I

His manner to children was not unpleasant,


his pausing,
political

and

well

remember

a childish

and vehement

step -daughter, Miss Lister,

and myself

a discussion which
by

he from time to time

stirred

up

to increased animation

playfully mischievous suggestions.'

Early in the session of 1840, the Ministry was met by a


vote of want of confidence, and in the course of the discussion Sir
sedition

James Graham accused Lord John of encouraging


by appointing as magistrate one of the leaders of

the Chartist agitation at Newport.


out,

Lord John,

it

turned

had appointed Mr.

Frost, the leader in question,

on the

advice of the Lord-Lieutenant, and he was able to prove that


his

own speech at Liverpool had been erroneously reported. The hostile resolution was accordingly repelled, and the
division resulted in favour of the

Government.

For

six years

Turkey and Egypt had been openly and


in

hostile to each other,

1839 the war had been pushed to such extremities

that Great Britain, Austria, Russia,

and Prussia entered


if

into

compact

to bring about

by compulsion

necessary

cessation of hostilities.

Lord Holland and Lord Clarendon


share in the Treaty of July 1840,

objected to England's

but Lord Palmerston compelled the Cabinet to acquiesce

by a threat of resignation, and Lord John,

at this crisis,

showed
policy.

that he was strongly in favour of his colleague's

The

matter, however, was by no

means

settled, for

once more a grave division of opinion

in the party arose as

I20
to the

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


wisdom of
practically throwing

away our

alliance
his

with France.

Althorp

now

Lord Spencer

reminded
fitted to

former colleagues that that nation was most


ally of

be our

any

in

Europe, on the threefold ground of situation,


civilisation.

institutions,

and

it

Lord John drew up a memorandum and submitted to his colleagues, in which he recognised the rights of

France, and proposed to


ditionSj

summon
the

her,

under given con-

to take

measures with

other

Powers to pre-

serve the peace of Europe.

The

personal ascendency of
foreign policy was,

Lord Palmerston on questions of


ever,

howhis

already so

marked

that

Lord Melbourne

now

brother-in-law, was reluctant to insist

on moderation.

Lord
which

John, however, stood firm, and the breaking up of the

Government seemed
followed,

inevitable.

During the
was

crisis

Lord Palmerston,

striking, as

his wont,

from his

own

bat, rejected,

under circumstances which Mr. Walpole

has explained in detail in his Life of Lord John Russell, a


proposal for a conference of the allied Powers.

Lord John

had already entered

his protest against

any one member of

the Cabinet being allowed to conduct affairs as he pleased,

without consultation or control, and he

Melbourne

in a letter

now informed Lord dated November i, 1840 which

Mr. Walpole prints

that

Palmerston's

reply

to

Austria

compelled him to once more consider his position, as he


could not defend in the

House
the

of

Commons

measures

which he thought wrong.


nised that
Russell was

Lord Melbourne promptly recogonly possible leader in


to

the

Commons, and he induced Lord Palmerston


misunderstanding was brought to an end.

admit his

mistake over the despatch to Metternich, and in

this

way the

Meanwhile, the

fortunes of the war in the East turned against Ibrahim Pasha,

DIVIDED COUNSELS
and Palmerston's
it

121

policy,

though not

his

manner of

carrying

out,

was

justified.

The

closing years of the

Melbourne Administration were


counsels, but by actual blunders
it is

marked not only by divided


of policy,

and

in this connection

perhaps enough to

cite

the

Opium war

against

China and the foolhardy invasion of

Afghanistan.

At home the question of Free Trade was


to the front,
in

coming rapidly

and the Anti-corn Law League,


in

which was founded


beginning to prove
as 1826,

Manchester
a

1838,

was already

itself

power

in the land.

As

far

back

Hume

had taken up
as a blight

his parable in Parliament

against the

Corn Laws

on the trade of the country


Bill

and two years


was
Mr.

after the

Reform

was passed he had

returned to the attack, only to find, however, that the nation


still

wedded

to Protection.

Afterwards, year after year,

Villiers

drew attention

to the subject,

and moved

for

an

inquiry into the working of the

Corn Laws.

He

declared

that the existing system was opposed


intelligence,

by the industry, the


at length,

and the commerce of the nation, and

in a half-hearted fashion, the


pelled,
if it

Government found
to

itself

com-

was to

exist at

with the problem.


his colleagues,

make some attempt to deal Lord Melbourne, and some at least of


all,

were but

little

interested in the question,

and

they failed to gauge the feeling of the country.

In the spring of 1841 action of some kind grew


table,

inevi-

and the Cabinet determined

to propose a fixed duty of

eight shillings

per quarter on wheat,

and

to

reduce the
latter

duty on sugar.
proposal
in
;

Lord John opened the debate on the


a

speech

which

moved

even

Greville

to

enthusiasm

but neither his arguments nor his eloquence


for the

produced the desired impression on the House,

Government was defeated by

thirty-six votes.

Everyone

122

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


at
;

expected the Ministry


solution or resignation

once to face the question of

disi

but Melbourne was determined to

cling to office as long as possible, in spite of the growing


difficulties
4,

and even humiliations of

his position.

On

June

the day on which

proposal for a fixed

Lord John was to bring forward his duty on wheat, Sir Robert Peel carried
at length inevitable, Parlia-

a vote of want of confidence by a majority of one, and, as

an appeal to the country was

ment was dissolved a few days later. The Melbourne The manner in which Ministry had outstayed its welcome.
it

had

left

Lord Durham

in the lurch

over his ill-advised


for

ordinances had aroused widespread indignation,

the

multitude at least could not forget the greatness of his


services to the cause of Reform.
If

the dissolution

had

come two
gone

or three years

earlier,

the Government might have


;

to the country without fear


their blunders
it

but in 1841, both at

home
alien-

and abroad,

and

their vacillation

had

ated confidence, and

was not

difficult to forecast

the result.

The General
triumph.

Election

brought

Lord John a

personal

He

was presented with a requisition signed by

several thousand persons, asking

him

to contest the City of

London, and

after

an exciting struggle he was returned,


;

though with only a narrow majority


tical

and during the

poli-

vicissitudes of the next eighteen years

London was

faithful to him.

Lord John Russell was

essentially a

home-loving man, and


life in

the gloom which bereavement had cast over his

the

autumn of 1839 was at best only partially close and sympathetic relations with his

dispelled
family.

by the
It was,

therefore, with satisfaction that all his friends, both

on

his

own account and

that of his motherless

young children,
Immediately

heard of his approaching second marriage.

'

'A HOST IN himself'


after the election for the City,

I23

Lord John was married to Lady

Fanny

ElUot, second daughter of the Earl of Minto, a union


lasting happiness.

which brought him

Parliament met in the middle of August, and the Govern-

ment were defeated on the Address by a majority of ninetyone,

and on August 28 Lord John found himself once more


In his speech in the House of

out of harness.

Commons

announcing the resignation of the Government, he said that


the

Whigs under Lord Grey had begun with the Reform Act,
that they were closing their tenure of
for

and

power by protruth was, the


opportunities.

posals

the

relief

of commerce.

The

Melbourne Administration had not


Its

risen to

its

fixed

duty on corn was a paltry compromise.

The

leaders of the party

needed

to

be educated up to the level

of the national demands.

Opposition was to bring about


political

unexpected
tunities,

political

combinations and new


conflict

oppor-

and the years of

which were dawning were

also to bring

more

clearly into view

claims

to the Liberal leadership.

Lord John Russell's When the Melbourne

Administration was manifestly losing the confidence of


the nation,

Rogers the poet was walking one day with

the

Duke

of Wellington in
situation.

Hyde

Park, and the talk turned

on the

political

Rogers remarked,
Russell
will

'What a

powerful band Lord John


with
!

have to contend

There's Peel, Lord Stanley, Sir James

Graham

and the Duke interrupted him


reply,
'

at this point with the laconic

Lord John Russell is a host in himself.' Protection had triumphed at the General Election, and
Robert Peel came to power as champion of the Corn

Sir

The Whigs had fallen between two stools, for the country was not in a humour to tolerate vacillation. The
Laws.

Melbourne Cabinet had,

in truth, in the years

which had

124
witnessed Jacob, but
its

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


decline

and

fall,

stretched

forth

spoken with the voice of the hands of Esau. The

Radicals shook their heads, scouted the Ministry's deplorable efforts at finance, and felt, to say the least,

lukewarm

about their spirited foreign policy.


for supporting

'

I don't
right,'

thank a

man
*

confession
gratitude
is

was the cynical of a statesman of an earlier generation ; my


with the

me when

he thinks

me

man who

supports

me when

he thinks
;

me

wrong.'

Melbourne was doubtless of the same mind

but the

man

in the crowd, of Liberal proclivities, was, for the

which affairs had and the polling booths made it plain that he thought the Prime Minister wrong, and, that being the case, he was
taken,

most

part, rather disgusted with the turn

not obliging enough to return him to power.

The

big

drum

had been successfully beaten, moreover,


tion

at the

General Elec-

by the defenders of

all sorts

and sizes of vested interests,


and
Sir

sinecures, monopolies,

and the

like,

Robert Peel-

though not without personal misgivings accordingly succeeded Melbourne as First Lord, whilst Stanley, now the

hope of

stern

unbending Tories, took Russell's place as


of the

Secretary for the Colonies.

The
lie

annals

Peel

Administration

of

course

monograph ; they have already been told with insight and vigour in a companion
volume, and the temptation to wander at a tangent into the history of the Queen's reign especially with Lord John out
of office

outside

the province of this

must be resisted

in deference to the exigencies of

space. In the Peel Cabinet the men who had revolted under Melbourne, with the exception of the Duke of Richmond, were rewarded with place and power. Lord Ripon,

who was spoken tempt as a man

of at the time with scarcely disguised conof tried inefficiency,

became President of

THE POLITICAL OUTLOOK


the Board of Trade.
Sir

25

James Graham, a statesman who


ideas,

was becoming somewhat impervious to new

and who
movewrong
Stanley,

as a Minister displayed Httle tact in regard to either

ments or men, was appointed

Home

Secretary.

who had proved himself

to

be a strong
evil

man

in the

camp, and therefore the


carried his unquestionable

genius of his

party,

now

skill,

and

his brilliant

powers of

debate, as well as his imperious


views, to the service of the Tories.

temper and contracted

One

other

man
for

held a

prominent place in Peel's Cabinet, and proved a tower of


strength in
Affairs,
it

Lord Aberdeen, who was Secretary


Tahiti
incident

Foreign

and who did much

to maintain the peace of

Europe
to

when the

and

the

Spanish

marriages

threatened embroilment.

Lord Aberdeen, from 1841


ability

1846, guided the foreign policy of England with

and
at

discretion, and, as a matter of fact, steered the nation through

diplomatic quarrels which,


the

if

Lord Palmerston had been


in

Foreign

Office,

would probably have ended

war.

This circumstance heightens the irony of his subsequent


career.

The

outlook, political

and

social,

when Peel took

office

and Russell confronted him as leader of the Opposition, was gloomy and full of hazard. The times, in Peel's judgment,
were
joint
'

out of joint,' and this threw party Government out of

and

raised

issues

which confused ordinary minds.


'

The

old political

catchwords

Peace, retrenchment,
Civil

and

reform,'
liberty

no longer awoke enthusiasm.


all

and

religious

were

very well in their way, but they naturally

failed to satisfy

men and women who


social condition of
Bill

were ground down

by economic oppression, and were famished through lack


of bread.
able, for,

The

England was deplorin


its

though the Reform

had brought

wake

126
measures of
artisans

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


relief for

the middle classes,


it

it

had

left

the

and the peasants almost where


of

found them.

In spite

the

new Poor Law and

other enactments,

the people were burdened with the curse of bitter and

hopeless

poverty,

and the misery and squalor

in

which

they were permitted to live threw a over the


fair

menacing

shadow

promise of the opening years of the young

Queen's reign.
for

The

historians of the period are responsible

the

statement that in Manchester, for example, one;

tenth of the population lived in cellars


districts,

even in the rural


in

the overcrowding, with

all its

attending horrors

the direction of disease and vice, was scarcely less terrible,


for in

one parish

in

Dorset

thirty-six

persons dwelt, on an
is,

average, in each house.

The wonder

not that the Anti-

Corn Law League under such circumstances grew strong


and the demand
for the People's

Charter rang through the


alike bore the

land, but that the masses in

town and country

harsh servitude of their

lot

with the patience that was

common, and with

the heroism that was not rare.


to
it

Lord John Russell never refused


Peel's Administration.

admit the

ability of

He

described

as powerful, popular,

and

successful.

He

recognised the honesty of his great

rival, his

openness of mind, the courage which he displayed

in turning a deaf ear to the croakers in his

own

Cabinet, and

the genuine concern which he manifested for the unredressed

grievances of the people.


stress

Li his

'

Recollections

'

he lays

on the

fact that Sir

Robert Peel did not

hesitate,

when

he thought such a step essential to the public welfare, to


risk the fate

of his Ministry on behalf of an unpopular

measure.

Ireland was a stone of stumbling in his path, and

long after he had parted with his old ideas of Protestant

ascendency he found himself confronted with the suspicion

peel's
of the

open mind
Lord John's words,
'

127
obsti-

Roman

Catholics, who, in

nately refused favours at Peel's hands, which they would

have been willing to accept from a Liberal Administration.' The allusion is, of course, to the Maynooth Grant a measure

of practical relief to the Irish Catholics, which would, with-

out doubt, have thrown Sir Robert Peel out of office

if

he

had been

left to

the tender mercies of his

own

supporters.

Disraeli was fond of asserting that Peel lacked imagination,

and there was a measure of

truth in the charge.

He

was a

great patriotic statesman, haunted

by no

foolish

bugbear of

consistency, but willing to learn by experience,

and couright,

rageous enough to follow what he believed to be


unpolitical but patriotic scorn of consequence.

with
with

Men

stereotyped ideas,

who

persisted in interpreting concession,

however

just, as

weakness, and reform, however urgent, as

revolution, were unable to follow such a leader.

Peel might lack imagination, but he never lacked courage,

and the generosity of


and
self
difficult tasks

vision

which imposed on courage great

of statesmanship.

He

could educate him-

for he kept an open mind and was swift to seize


;

and
it

to interpret great issues in the affairs of the nation

but

was altogether a

different matter for

him

to educate his party.

In the spring of 1845, Sir Robert Peel determined to meet


the situation in Ireland by bold proposals for the education of the

Catholic priesthood.

Almost

to the close of the

eighteenth century the Catholics were compelled by the existing laws to train

young men intended

for the

work of the

priesthood in Ireland in French colleges, since no seminary


of the kind was permitted in Ireland.
tion overthrew this arrangement,
Irish Parliament,

The French Revolu1

and in

795,

by an Act of the

Maynooth College was founded, and was

supported by annual grants, which were continued, though

128
not without
after the

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


much
opposition, by the Imperial Parliament

Union.

On

April

3, Sir

Robert Peel brought

for-

ward

his

measure

for dealing in a

generous manner with the

needs and claims of

this great institution.

He

proposed

that the annual grant should be raised

from 9,000/. to up-

wards of 26,000/., that a charter of incorporation should be


given,

and

that the trustees should be allowed to hold land

to the value of 3,000/. a year.

He

also proposed that the

new endowment should be


and prejudice
to

a charge

upon the Consolidated


in

Fund, so that angry discussions of the kind


delight might be avoided.

which bigotry

Moreover, in order
Sir

restore

and enlarge the college

buildings.

Robert

finally

proposed an immediate and separate grant of 30,000/.

Few

statesmen were more sensitive than Peel, but, con-

vinced of the justice of such a concession, he spoke that

day amid the angry opposition of the majority of

his

usual supporters and the approving cheers of his ordinary

opponents.
Peel was not the
revolt.

man

to falter, although his party

was

in

He

had gauged the

forces

which were arrayed


;

in Ireland against the authority of Parliament in his final

he stated
in

words on the subject that there was


formidable
confederacy,

that

country a
to

which was prepared


you can break

go any lengths against a hard interpretation of the supreof England.


force
;
'

macy
up by

do not believe and

that

it

believe you can

do much by acting

in a spirit

of kindness, forbearance,

generosity.'

At once a great
brought into
little
'

storm of opposition arose in Parliament, on the platform, and


in the Press.

The

Carlton Club found

itself

sudden and unexpected agreement with many a

Bethel
Sur'

up and down the country,


render
'

for the

champions of

No

in

Pall

Mall were of one mind with those of

No


HOW PEEL TRIUMPHED
Popery
'

29

in Exeter Hall.

Society for the


to
it

moment, according

to Harriet Martineau,

seemed

be going mad, and she saw was not the extent of the
as

enough

to convince her that

grant that was deprecated so


direction at
all.

much

an advance

in that

Public indignation ran so high that in some


of Parliament were called

instances

members

upon

to resign

their seats, whilst

Dublin

so

far at least as its

sentiments

were represented by the Protestant Operative Association

was

for nothing less

than the impeachment of the unhappy

Prime Minister.

Sectarian animosity, whipped into fury by


its

rhetorical appeals to

prejudices, encouraged the paper


;

trade by interminable petitions to Parliament

and three
six in

nights were spent in debate in the Lords

and

the

Commons
as soon as

over the second reading of the

bill.

Lord John Russell was


it

assailed with threatening letters

was known that he intended to help Peel to


were welcomed by him
the old repressive

outweather the storm of obloqu}^ which he was called to


encounter.
as a
Sir Robert's proposals

new and worthy departure from


It
far to conciliate

policy.

was because he thought that such a measure


the Catholics of Ireland, as well

would go

as to prove to
interests

them

that any question


,

which touched

their

and welfare was not a matter of unconcern

to the

statesmen and people of England, that he gave


loyalty only too rare in public life

with

his powerful support to

a Minister
his

who would

otherwise have been driven to bay by

own

followers.

It was, in fact,

owing

to

Lord John's

action that Peel triumphed over the majority of his


party,

own

and

his

speech in support of the Ministry, though

not remarkable for eloquence, was admirable alike in temper

and

in tact,
'

and was hailed


lives,

at the

moment

as a presage of

victory.

Peel

moves, and has his being through

130

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

Lord John Russell,' was Lord Shaftesbury's comment at Looking back at the crisis from the leisure of the moment. retirement, Lord John Russell declared that the Maynooth Act was a work of wisdom and liberality, and one which
ought always to be remembered to the honour of the
states-

man who proposed and


the

carried

it.

Maynooth Grant revealed

The controversy how great was the


'

over
gulf

between Peel and the majority of the Tories, and Greville,


as usual, in his

own

incisive

way
is

hit off the situation.


is

The
his

truth

is

that the

Government

Peel, that Peel

a Reformer

and more of a Whig than a Tory, and that the mass of


followers are

prejudiced, ignorant, obstinate,

and

selfish.'

Peel declared that he looked with indifference on a storm

which he thought partly fanatical and partly religious


origin,

in its

and he added

that he

was careless as

to the conse-

quences which might follow the passing of the Maynooth


Bill,

so far at least as they concerned his


far greater

own

position.

Meanwhile another and


of 1845 was cold

question was coming

forward with unsuspected rapidity for solution.

The summer
With the
and
the

and

wet,

and

its

dark skies and drenching

showers were followed by a miserable harvest.

approach of

autumn the

fields

were

flooded

farmers in consequence

in despair.

Although England and


fell

Scotland suffered greatly, the disaster


force

with

still

greater

on Ireland.

As the anxious weeks wore


distress,

on, alarm

deepened into actual


famine in the land.
failure,
its

for

there

arose

a mighty

The

potato crop proved a disastrous

and with the approach of winter starvation joined eloquence to that of Cobden and Bright in their demand
Corn Laws.
and
In speaking afterwards of
of the services

for the repeal of the

that terrible crisis,

which Cobden and

himself were enabled to render to the nation, John Bright


cobden's prediction
used these memorable words
'
:

131
suppose that I

Do
I

not

wish you to imagine that he and

were the only persons

engaged in

this great question.

We

were not even the

first,

though afterwards, perhaps, we became before the public


the foremost, but there were others before us, and
joined, not

we were

by

scores, but

by hundreds, and afterwards by

thousands, and

afterwards
itself,

by countless multitudes, and

afterwards famine
us,

against which

we had

warred, joined

and a

great Minister

was converted, and minorities bethe barrier was entirely thrown

came

majorities,

and

finally

down.'

Quite early in the history of the Anti-Corn-Law League,

Cobden had
which
the

predicted, in spite of the apathy

and opposition
politics

derided

Manchester school of

then

encountered, at a time
a deaf ear to
its

when Peel and Russell


in

alike turned

appeals, that the repeal of the

Corn Laws
'

would be eventually carried


of established reputation.'

Parliament by a

statesman

Argument and

agitation prepared
relief,

the

way

for

this

great measure of practical


far

but the

multitude were not


that
it

from the mark when they asserted

was

the. rain that destroyed the

Corn Laws.^
if

The
the

imperative necessity of bringing food from abroad

people were not to perish for lack of bread brought both


Sir

Robert Peel and Lord John Russell almost


once be faced.

at the

same

moment
must
at

to the conclusion that this great economic problem

Peel declared in 1847 that towards

the end of 1845 he had reached the conclusion that the repeal

of the Corn
'

Laws was indispensable

to the public welfare.

little

The Corn Law of 18 15 was a copy of the Corn Law of 1670 so had economic science grown in England during all those years. The Corn Law of 1670 imposed a duty on the importation of foreign grain which amounted almost literally to a prohibition.' Sir Robert Feel, by Justin M'Carthy, M.P., chapter xii. p. 136.
'
.

'^

132
If that
for

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


was
so,

he seems to have kept

his opinion to himself,

as late as

November

29, in the
is

memorandum which
abolition.

he sent

to his colleagues, there

no hint of

On
Time
Shall

the contrary, Sir Robert,

who was

always fond of setting


'
:

forth three alternatives of action, wrote as follows


presses,

and on some

definite course

we must

decide.

we undertake without suspension to modify the existing Corn Law ? Shall we resolve to maintain the existing Corn Law? Shall we advise the suspension of that law for a
limited period
ting as I
?

My
it

opinion

is

for the last course,

admit-

do

that

involves the necessity for the immediate

consideration of the alterations to be

made

in the existing

Corn Law

such alterations to take


I

effect after the

period of

suspension.

should rather say

it

involves the question of


*

the principle and degree of protection to agriculture.'


to the justice of the

As

demand

for

Free Trade, Peel, there can be


;

no doubt, was already convinced


as the stronghold of Protection,

but his party was regarded

and he knew enough of the


fully

men who
they
still

sat

behind him to be

ahve to the

fact that

clung tenaciously to the fallacies which


exploded.
'

Adam
Lord
for the

Smith

had

We
;

had
'

ill

luck,'

were

Aberdeen's words to the Queen

if it

had not been

famine

in

Ireland,

which rendered immediate measures

necessary, Sir Robert


ally for the change.'
^

would have prepaied the party gradu-

Cobden,

it

is

only

fair to

state,

made no

secret of his

conviction that the

question

of the
Sir

repeal of the

Corn

Laws was
John.
*

safer in the

hands of

Robert than of Lord

Peel might be less versed in constitutional questions,


vol.
iii.

The Croker Papers, edited by Louis Jennings,

p.

35.
i.

"^

Life of the Prince Consort, by Sir Theodore Martin, vol.

p.

317.

THE 'EDINBURGH LETTER'


but he was more in touch with the manufacturing

33

classes,

and more famiUar with economic conditions. Sir Robert, however, was sore let and hindered by the weaklings
of his

own

Cabinet, and

the rats did not

disguise

their

intention of quitting the ship.

Lord John

Russell,
first
'

who was

spending the autumn in Scotland, was the


statesman
'

responsible

to take decisive action, for whilst Peel,

hampered
still

by the

vacillation

and opposition of

his colleagues,

hesitated, Russell took the world into his confidence in his


historic

'Edinburgh

Letter,'

dated November 22, 1845, to


It

his constituents in

London.

was a bold and uncom-

promising declaration of policy, for the logic of events had


at length

convinced Lord John that any further delay was

dangerous.

He

complained that Her Majesty's Ministers

had not only met, but separated, without affording the


nation any promise of immediate
that the existing duties
relief.

He

pointed out
that, the

on corn were so contrived

worse the quality of the wheat, the higher was the duty.
'

When good

wheat
all

rises to

seventy shillings a quarter, the


fifty-seven or fifty-eight shillings,

average price of

wheat

is

and the duty fourteen


under a storm.'
lation

or fifteen shillings a quarter.


fair,

Thus
legis-

the corn barometer points to

while the ship

is

bending

He

reviewed the course of recent

on the

subject,

and declared

that he

had

for

years
that

endeavoured to obtain a compromise.

He

showed

Peel had opposed in 1839, 1840, and 1841, even qualified


concession, and he added the stinging allusion to that states-

man's attitude on other great questions of


'

still

earlier date.

He met

the proposition for diminished Protection in the


in

same way

which he had met the

offer of securities for

Protestant interests in 181 7 and 1825

in the

same way

in

which he met the proposal

to allow Manchester, Leeds,

and

134

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


to

members to Parliament in 1830.' Finally, Lord John announced his conviction that it was no longer worth while to contend for a fixed duty, and his
send
vigorous attack on the Ministry ended with a call to arms.
'

Birmingham

Let us unite to put an end to a system which has been


agri-

proved to be the blight of commerce, the bane of


culture, the source of bitter divisions

among

classes,

the the

cause of penury, fever, mortality, and crime


people.

among
for

The Government appear

to

be waiting

some
the

excuse to give up the present Corn

Law

Let the people,


afford

by

petition,

by address, by remonstrance,

them

excuse they seek.'


Sir

Robert,

when

this

manifesto appeared, had almost


his

conquered the reluctance of


;

own Cabinet to definite action but his position grew now untenable in consequence of the panic of Stanley and the Duke of Buccleuch.
Lord John's speech was quickly followed by a Ministerial crisis, and Peel, beset by fightings without and fears within his Cabinet, had no alternative but resignation.

He

accordingly relinquished office on


later

December

5,

and

Lord John, much to his own surprise, was summoned to Windsor and entrusted with the task
three days

of forming a

new

Ministry.

He

was met by

difficulties

which,
for

in

spite

of negotiations,

proved insurmountable,
in

Howick, who had succeeded


his

the previous

summer
to

to

distinguished

father's

earldom,

refused

serve

with Palmerston.

Lord Grey

raised another point


for

which

might reasonably have been conceded,

he urged that
League,

Cobden, as

the leader

of the

Anti-Corn-Law

ought to have the

offer of a

seat in the Cabinet.

Lord

John was unable

to bring

about an amicable understanding.

THE 'POISONED CHALICE'


and
to

35

therefore, as the year

was
the

closing,
fact,

he was compelled
to

inform

her Majesty

of

and
as

hand back
'

what
chalice

Disraeli
'

theatrically
'

described
all

the

poisoned

to Sir Robert.
'

It is

at

an end,' wrote Lord


or other, in

John

to his wife.

Power may come, some day

a less odious shape.'

136

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

CHAPTER
846- I 847

VII

FACTION AND FAMINE


I

Peel and Free Trade


attack
to

Russell the rescue Fall of Peel Lord John summoned the Commons and the counto power Lord John's position The Condition of Ireland question Famine and deadly work The Russell Government and measures of relief Crime and
in in
try
its

Disraeli

and Lord George Bentinck lead the

coercion

The

Whigs and Education

Factory Bill The

case of

Dr. Hampden.

Lord Stanley's

place in the

'

organised hypocrisy,' as the

Protectionists termed the last Ministry of Sir Robert Peel,

was taken by Mr. Gladstone.


office in the closing

Sir

Robert Peel resumed


all

days of December, and

the

members

of his old Cabinet, on the principle of bowing to the inevitable, returned with him, except the

Duke

of Buccleuch

and Lord
in the

Stanley,

who

resolutely declined to have part or lot

to

new departure which the Premier now felt called upon make. The Duke of Wellington, though hostile to Free
;

Trade, determined to stand by Peel

but he did not disguise

the fact that his only reason for remaining in office was for

the sake of the Queen.


'

He

declared that he acted as the

retained servant of the monarchy,' for he did not wish her

Majesty to be placed under the necessity of taking members


of the Anti-Corn-Law League,
or,

as he put

it,

'Cobden

&

Co.,' for her responsible advisers.

THE queen's speech


The opening days
ment, and were
ton,
filled
6,

37

of 1846 were

full

of political excite-

with
: *

all

kinds of rumours.

Welling-

on January

wrote

I don't despair of the

Corn Laws,'
the inten-

and confessed
tions of Sir

that he did not

know what were

Robert Peel concerning them.^ though the


conviction

Peel kept his

own

counsel,

grew that he had

persuaded himself that in boldness lay the chance as well


as the duty of the hour.
Peel,
like

Russell,

was con-

verted to

Free
all

Trade

by the logic

of events,

and he

determined at
him.

hazards to avow the

Parliament was opened by the


22,

new faith that was in Queen in person on


laid stress

January

and the Speech from the Throne

on

the privation and suffering in Ireland,

and shadowed

forth

the repeal of prohibitive and the relaxation of protective


duties.

The debate on
had
arisen.

the Address was rendered

memorable

by Peel's explanations of the circumstances under which the


recent crisis

He made
It

a long speech, and the

tone of
ing

it,

according to Lord Malmesbury, was half threaten-

and half apologetic.

was a manly, straightforward

statement of the case, and Sir Robert

made

it

plain that he

had accepted the views of the Manchester school on the Corn Laws, and was prepared to act without further hesitation

on

his

convictions.

One

significant admission

was

added.
task

He

stated before he sat

down

that

it

was

'

no easy

to insure

the

harmonious and united action of an

ancient

monarchy, a proud aristocracy, and a reformed


of

House
in

Commons.'
and
that

New
principle

interests were, in fact, beginning to find a voice

Parliament,
of

meant

the
is

beginning
in

of

the

readjustment which

yet

progress.
his

few days

later the
*

Prime Minister explained


vol.
iii.

financial

The Croker Papers,

ch. xxiv. p. 53.

138
plans
for

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


the year,

and

in the course

of

them he proFree trade

posed the gradual repeal of the Corn Laws.


in corn was, in fact,

to take final

effect after

an interval

of

three

years. in

Meanwhile the

sliding

scale

was

to

be

abandoned

favour of a fixed duty of ten shillings the

quarter on corn, and other concessions for the relief not

only of agriculture but of manufactures and

commerce were
in
fact,

announced.
applied not

The
in

principle
in

of Free

Trade was,

one but

many

directions,

and from

that

hour

its

legislative

triumph was assured.

In the course of
all

the protracted debate which followed, Disraeli, with

the

virulence of a disappointed place-hunter, attacked Sir Robert

Peel with bitter personalities and barbed sarcasm.


occasion, throwing decency

On

this

and good
'

taste to the winds,

and, to borrow a phrase of his own,

intoxicated with the

exuberance of his own verbosity,' and with no lack of tawdry


rhetoric

and melodramatic emphasis, he did

his

best to

cover with ridicule and to reduce to confusion one of the

most chivalrous and lofty-minded statesmen of the Queen's


reign.

Disraeli's audacity in attack

did

much

to

revive the

drooping courage of the Protectionist party, the leadership


of which
fell

for the

moment

into the

hands of Lord George

Bentinck, a nobleman more renowned at

Newmarket than

at

Westminster.

Once saddled with authority, Lord George developed some capacity for politics but his claims as a
;

statesman were never serious, though Disraeli, in the poliical

biography which he published shortly

after his friend's

sudden death, gives him credit


the nation at
large

for qualities of

mind

of which

saw

little

evidence.

After long and


nights, the

tedious discussion, extending over

some twenty

Free Trade

Bill

was carried through the

Commons

by a

OUTCAST PROTECTIONISTS
majority of ninety-eight votes, and in the Lords
it

139
passed
to his

the second reading by forty-seven votes. the dismal suggestion of his

Croker true

parable against Sir Robert.

name promptly took up He declared that the repeal


in the great

of

the Corn

Laws meant a schism


acres, in his view,

landed interest

and broad

were the only solid foundation

on which the government of the nation could possibly be He asked, how was it possible to resist the attack based. on the

Church and the Irish Union after the surrender of the Corn Laws ? He wanted to know how primogeniture, the Bishops, the House of Lords, and the Crown itself were
Irish

to

be maintained, now that the leader of the Conservative Sir Robert Peel, he party had truckled to the League.
added, had imperilled these institutions of the country more than Cobbett or O'Connell ; he had broken up the old
interests,

divided the great families, and thrown personal

hostility into the social life of half the counties of

England

and

all

to propitiate

Richard Cobden.

Such was the


similar vapour-

bitter cry of the outcast Protectionist,

and

ings arose in cliques


abolition of the

and clubs

all

over the land.

The

Robert Peel's

Corn Laws was the last measure of Sir political life, and he owed the victory, which

was won amid the murmurs and threats of his own followers, gave him, to the support which his political antagonists
under the leadership of Lord John Russell, who recognised both the wisdom and the expediency of Sir Robert's course. Meanwhile the dark winter of discontent which privation

had unhappily brought about

in

Ireland

had been

marked by many crimes of violence, and at length the Government deemed it imperative to ask Parliament to
grant

them

additional powers for the suppression of outrage.

The measure met

with the opposition alike of Lord John

I40
Russell and

LORD

JfJlIN

RUSSELL
The Government moved
Bill,

Danid O'Conncll.

the second reading of the Irish Coercion


tectionists,

and the Pro-

who knew very


it.

well not only the views of l^aniel

O'Connell, but of Smith O'JJrien, saw their opportunity and

promptly took

Lord George Bentinck had supported


its

the Coercion Bill on

introduction in the spring, and had

done so

in

the most unmistakable terms.

He

was not the

man, however, to forego the mean luxury of revenge, and


neither he nor
Disraeli could forgive

what they regarded as


interest.
lost the

Sir Robert's great betrayal of the

landed

Pie

now

had the audacity


of every honest

to assert that Peel

had

confidence

man both
in

within

and without the House of

Commons, and
ranged himself

spite

of his assurances of support he

moment with Russell and O'Connell The division took place on to crush the Administration. June 25, and in a House of 571 members the Ministry was defeated by a majority of 73. The defeat of the Governfor the

ment was so crushing


the
to cheer.

that

Whigs and

Protectionists alike^

on

announcement of the
'

figures,

were too
'

much

taken aback

Anything,' said Sir Robert,

is

preferable to main-

taining ourselves in office without a full measure of the con-

fidence of this House.'

Lord John had triumphed with the help of the

Irish,

whom
had
in

Peel had alienated

but the great Minister's downfall

part been accomplished by the treachery of those

who abandoned him


hour of need,
resignation,

with clamour and evil-speaking in the followed


within
a

Defeat was

week by

and on July 4 Peel, writing from the leisured seclusion of Drayton Manor, 'in the loveliest weather,'
was magnanimous enough
to forgive
to say,
'

have every disposition

my enemies

for

having conferred on

ing of the loss of power.'

me the blessLord John was summoned to

THE RUSSELL CABINET


Windsor, and kissed hands on July
Minister
6.

I4I

He became
from
his

Prime

when
and

the the

condition
following

of affairs

was gloomy and


wife's

menacing,

passage

journal, written

on July

14, conjures up in two or three


difficulties of the

words a vivid picture of the


has

hour

John

much

to distress

him
his

in the state of the country.

God

grant

him success
all his

in

labours to

amend

it

Famine,

fever, trade failing,


it

and discontent growing

are evils which

requires

resolution, sense of duty,

and love

for the

public to face.'

Lord Palmerston was, of course,

inevitable

as Foreign Secretary in the

new Administration

Sir Charles

Wood became Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Sir George Grey, Home Secretary. Earl Grey's scruples were at length
satisfied,

and he became Secretary


office as

to the Colonies

whilst

Lord Clarendon took


Trade,

President of the Board of

and

Lord Lansdowne became President of the


the lesser lights of the Ministry were Sir

Council.
J.

Among

C. Hobhouse, Mr. Milner Gibson, Mr. I<ox Maule, Lord


Sir

Morpeth, and Mr. (afterwards Lord) Macaulay.

James

Graham was
never

offered the Governor-( Generalship of India, but


at

he had aspirations
fulfilled,

Westminster, which, however, were


offer.

and declined the


split

The Tory

party was
in-

demoralised and
dignation.

up

into cliques

by suspicion and

Stanley was in the

House

of Lords by this time,

Peel was in disgrace, and Lord George Bentinck was already

beginning to cut a somewhat ridiculous


as yet

figure, whilst

nobody
'

was quite prepared to take Disraeli


masters of the
field,'

seriously.

We

are

left

wrote Palmerston, with a touch

of characteristic humour, 'not only on account of our


merits, which,

own
by

though we say any

it

ourselves, are great, but

virtue of the absence of

efficient competitors.'

The new

Ministry began well.

Lord John's address

to

142

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


made an
excellent impression,
'

his constituents in the City

and was worthy of the man and the occasion.


assured that
I

You may be

shall not desert in office the principles to


less favourably received.

which
I

adhered when they were

cannot indeed claim the merit either of having carried mea-

sures of Free

Trade

as a Minister, or of having so prepared

the public

mind by any

exertions of

mine

as to convert

what would have been an impracticable attempt into a certain


victory.

To

others belong those distinctions.


to

But

have
to

endeavoured

do

my

part in this great


first

work according

my means and

convictions,

by proposing a temperate
afterwards,

relaxation of the

Corn Laws, and

when

that

measure has been repeatedly

rejected,

by declaring
I

in favour

of total repeal, and using every influence

could exert to

prevent a renewal of the struggle for an object not worth


the cost of conflict.
to

The Government of

this

country ought

behold with an impartial eye the various portions of the


in agriculture, in manufactures,

community engaged
commerce.

and

in

The

feeling that
ill-will,

any of them

is

treated with

injustice provokes

disturbs legislation,

and

diverts

attention from
social

many

useful

and necessary reforms.


:

Great
is

improvements are required


;

public education
is

mani-

festly irriperfect

the treatment of criminals

a problem
vil-

yet undecided
lages has

the sanitary condition of our towns and

been grossly neglected.

Our

recent discussions

have

laid bare
;

the misery, the discontent, and outrages of

Ireland

they are too clearly authenticated to be denied,

too extensive to be treated by any but the most comprehensive means.'

Lord John had been thirty-three years in the House of Commons when he became for the first time Prime Minister.

The

distinction of rank

and of an

historic

name gave him

in

EVER A FIGHTER
1

43

813,

when government by
start.

great families was

still

more than

a phrase, a splendid
inherited
as

The

love of liberty which he

tradition

grew strong within him, partly

through his residence in Edinburgh under Dugald Stewart,


partly through the

generous and stimulating associations


still

of Holland House, but

more, perhaps, because of the

tyranny of which he was an eye-witness during his travels as


a youth in Italy and Spain at a period
the heel of Napoleon.

when Europe

lay

under

Lord John was ever a fighter, and the

political conflicts of his early

manhood against the


selfish

triple alli-

ance

of injustice, bigotry,

and

apathy in the presence of

palpable social abuses lent ardour to his convictions, tenacity


to his aims,

and boldness

to his attitude in public

life.

Al-

though an old Parliamentary hand, he was in actual years only


fifty-four

when he came

to

supreme

office in the service of

the State, but he had already succeeded in placing great

measures on the Statute Book, and he had also won recognition

on both sides of the House as a leader of


fertility

fearless

courage, open mind, and great


attack

of resource alike in
rival

and

in defence.

Peel, his

most formidable

on

the floor of the

Commons,
grew

hinted that Lord John Russell

was small

in small

things, but,
great,

he added significantly
also.

that,

when the

issues

he was great
its

Everyone

who

looks at Lord John's career in

length and breadth

must admit the justice of such a criticism. On one occasion he himself said, in speaking of the first Lord Halifax,
that the favourite of Charles 11.
errors

had

'too keen a perception of

and

faults to act well

with others,' and the remark

might have been applied to himself.

There were times

when Lord John, by


moment, landed
difficulties,

acting hastily on the impulse of the

his colleagues in serious


it

and unlooked

for

and sometimes

happened that in

his anxiety to

144
clear his

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


own
soul by taking an independent course, he

com-

promised to a serious extent the position of others.

Lord Melbourne's cynical remark,

to the effect that no-

body did anything very


ciple, carries

foolish except

from some strong prin-

with
it is

it

a tribute to motive as well as a censure

on action, and

certain that the promptings to

which Lord

John yielded were not due


interest.

in the questionable phases of his public career

to the adroit

and calculating temper of


after
all, trivial

self-

His weaknesses were indeed,

in

com-

parison to his strength.

He

rose to the great occasion

and

was inspired by

it.

All that was formal

and

hesitating in

manner and speech disappeared, and under the combined


influence of the sense of responsibility and the excitement

of the hour
phrase,
'

'

languid Johnny,' to borrow Bulwer Lytton's

soared to glorious John.'


all

Palmerston, like Mel-

bourne, was

things to

all

men.

His easy nonchalance,


ways of the

sunny temper, and perfect

familiarity with the

world and the weaknesses of average humanity, gave him

an advantage which Lord John, with


ment, indifferent health, fastidious
distant

his

nervous temperashy and rather

tastes,

bearing,

and uncompromising convictions, never

possessed.

Russell's ethical fervour

and

practical energetic

bent of mind divided him sharply from politicians


lived

who
and

from hand to mouth, and were never


zeal for
qualities

consumed
;

by a
these

reform in one direction or another

sometimes threw him into a position of

singular

isolation.

The

wiles

and

artifices

by which

less

proud and

less conscientious

men win

power, and the op-

portune compliments and unwatched concessions by which


too often they retain
refused to stoop.
it,

lay

amongst the things

to

which he

Men

might think Lord John

taciturn, angular, abrupt,

HIS PRACTICAL SAGACITY


tenacious,

I45
to

and dogmatic,

but

it

was impossible not

recognise his honesty, public

spirit,

pluck in the presence

of difficulty, and high interpretation of the claims of public

duty which marked his strenuous and indomitable career.

His qualifications

for the post of

Prime Minister were not


in constitutrain-

open

to

challenge.

He

was deeply versed

tional problems,

and had received a long and varied


affairs.

ing in the handling of great

He

possessed to an

enviable degree

the

art

of lucid

exposition,

and could

render intricate proposals luminous to the pubUc mind.

He
He
and
and

was a shrewd Parliamentary

tactician, as well as a states-

man who had

worthily gained the confidence of the nation.


in

was ready

debate,

swift

to
full

see

and

to seize the

opportunity of the hour.


his personal

He

was

of practical sagacity,

character lent weight to his position in

the country.
especially

In the more militant stages of his career,

when he was

fighting the battles of Parlialiberty,

mentary reform and religious


of that
'

he

felt

the

full

brunt

'sullen

resistance to innovation,' as well as that

unalterable perseverance in the

wisdom

of prejudice,' which

Burke declared was

characteristic of the English race.


it

The

natural conservatism of growing years,

must be frankly

admitted, led eventually in

Lord John's

case, as in that of

the majority of mankind, to the slackening of interest in the

new problems

of a younger generation, but to the ex-

treme verge of

life

he remained

far

too great a statesman

and much too generous a man ever


of a mere laudator temporis adi.

to lapse into the position

Lord John did not allow

the few remaining weeks of a protracted and exhaustive


session to elapse without a vigorous attempt to push the
principle of Free

Trade

to

its

logical issues.

He

passed a
total

measure which rendered the repeal of the Corn Laws


L


146

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


carried, with

and immediate, and he and


aboUtion of protection
Colonies.

the support of Peel

in spite of the opposition of

Bentinck and DisraeU, the

to

sugar

grown

in

the

British

Ireland quickly proved

itself to

be a stone of stumbling

and a rock of offence


John's appointment of
league,

to the

new Administration.
in

Lord
col-

Lord Bessborough his old

Duncannon,

in the

Committee on Reform

1830

as viceroy was popular, for he was a resident Irish landlord,

and a man who was genuinely concerned


the people.
in the disturbed condition of the country,

for the welfare of


that,

O'Connell trusted Lord Bessborough, and

counted

for

much.

The

task of the

new

viceroy was

hard,

even with such

support,

and though Bessborough laboured manfully and


and
exorcise the spirit of
discord,

with admirable tact to better the social condition of the

people

to

the

forces
to

arrayed against
their aid.

him proved

resistless

when famine came

As

the

summer

slipped past, crime


for the

and outrage

increased,

and the prospect

approaching winter grew


Peel had been turned out
Bill,

not merely gloomy but menacing.


of office because of his Irish

Arms

and Bessborough
Street as to the

was no sooner

installed

in

Dublin than he made urgent

representations to the Cabinet in

Downing

necessity of adopting similar repressive measures, in view of

the prevaiHng lawlessness and the contempt for

life

and pro-

perty which in the disaffected districts were only too

common.
by

In August the

crisis

was already so acute that the Government,


its

yielding to the fears of

Irish advisers, stultified itself

proposing the renewal of the


spring.

Arms

Bill until the following

The

step was

ill

advised,

and provoked much

hostile

criticism.

Lord John did not

relish the

measure, but Lord

Bessborough declared that Ireland could not be governed for

THE IRONY OF THE SITUATION


the

147

moment

without

it,

and

as he also talked of throwing


in this

up

his appointment,

and was supported

view of the

situation
at that

by Mr. Labouchere (afterwards Lord Taunton), who

time was Chief Secretary, the Prime Minister gave


in the

way and introduced


which he personally

House

of

Commons

proposals

which were out of keeping with


disliked.

his

own
'

antecedents, and

In speaking of Sir Robert


Recollections,'

Peel's Coercion Bill in his published

Lord

John makes no
'

secret of his

own attitude towards the measure.


I

objected to the Bill on Irish grounds.


I
still

then thought,

and

think, that

it

is

wrong

to arrest

men and

put

them

in prison

on the ground that they may be murderers

and housebreakers.

They may be, on the other hand, honest labourers going home from their work.' On the contrary, he thought that every means ought to be promptly
taken for discovering the perpetrators of crime and bringing

them

to justice,

and he

also believed in giving the authorities


terror

on the spot ample means of dealing with the reign of


which agrarian outrages had established.
If O'Connell

had been at Lord John's


practical

side at that juncture,

England might have sent a


O'Connell had learnt to

message of good-will to
was

Ireland instead of falling back on the old policy of coercion.


trust Russell

as

far, at least,

as

it

possible for a leader of the Irish people to trust a

Whig statesto

man

and Russell,
gifts,

on the other hand, was beginning

understand not merely O'Connell, but the forces which lay behind him, and which rendered him, quite apart from his own
eloquence and
powerful.

Unfortunately, the Liberator

was by

this

time broken in health, and the

Young

Ireland

party were already in revolt against his authority, a circum-

stance which, in
led

itself, filled

the Premier with misgivings, and


reluctantly, to the

him

to give way,

however

demand
L 2

of

148

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Lord John was, in fact, was no remedy. He ^\^shed,

the viceroy for repressive measures.

only too well aware that force


as

much

as O'Connell, to root

up the causes which produced


seemed determined
to kick

crime.

Young

Ireland, however,

over the traces at the very time

when

the Liberator was in-

ducing the Whigs to look

at

the question in a practical

manner.
that

Lord John knew,


'

to

borrow

his ow^n expression,

the

armoury

of penal

legislation

was

full

of the

weapons of past

battles,

and yet the victory of order and

peace had not been gained.'

The

Liberal party set

its

face

against coercion in any shape or form,

and the Government


intro-

withdrew a proposal w^hich they ought never to have


duced.

This course had scarcely been taken when a new


complication of the social problem in Ireland

and

terrible

arose.

Fam_ine suddenly

made

its

presence

felt,

and did so

in

a manner which threw the

privation

and

scarcity of the

previous winter altogether into the shade.

was a disastrous
distress of

failure,

and, as

the

The potato crop summer waned, the


grew acute.

an impoverished and
as crushing as
'

thriftless race
it

The calamity was


are Father

Mathew's words,
plant

'On July 27,' passed from Cork to Dublin,


was rapid.
in all the luxuriance of
I

and

this

doomed

bloomed

an

abundant

harvest.

Returning on August 3

beheld with

sorrow one wide waste of putrefying vegetation.'

million

and a

half of acres were at the

moment under

cultivation,

and the blight only spared a quarter of them, whilst, to


proved to a
startling extent insufficient.

make

matters worse, the oat crop, by an unhappy coincidence,

The

financial loss

in that disastrous

harvest,
fifteen

in

the

reckoning of experts,
sterling.

amounted

to

between

and sixteen millions

Fever and dysentery made

fatal

inroads on the dwindling

THE
strength of the gaunt
district alone,

IRISH

FAMINE
in

49

and famished peasantry, and

one

out of a population of

62,000 inhabitants,

no

less

than 5,000 persons died, directly or indirectly, of


'

starvation in the course of three months.

All our thoughts,'

wrote O'Connell,

'

are engrossed with two topics

endeavourto
for the

ing to keep the people from outbreaks,


get food for them.'

and endeavouring

In

many instances the

landlords seemed

robbed of the characteristics of ordinary humanity,


ruthless process of eviction

was carried on with a high hand,


left

and old men and children were


unfed.

unsheltered as well as

Property had neglected


neglect
its rights,

its

duties, but, as usual, did not


it

and

in that terrible crisis

overrode the however,

rights of

humanity.

Many

of the

landowners,

manfully did their best to stay the plague, but anything

which they could accomplish seemed a mockery amid the


widespread
distress.

Readers of
'

Sir

Gavan

Duffy's

'

Four
of

Years of Irish History


the

will recall his vivid description

manner

in

which some of the landowners, however, saw

their cruel opportunity,

and and

accoixlingiy

'closed

on the

people with ejectments, turned them on the road, and plucked

down

their

roof-trees,'

also

that

still

more

painful

passage which describes

how women

with dead children in

their arms were seen begging

for a coffin to
;

bury them.

Relief committees were, of course, started

the Friends, in

particular, busied themselves in practical efforts to

cope with

the distress, and Mr.

W.

E, Forster,

who went

to Ireland to

distribute relief, declared that his

wonder was,

as he passed

from

village to village, not that the people died, but that so

many contrived to live. The Russell Government met


though
scarcely

the crisis with courage,

with adequate

understanding.

Ireland


I50

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


bitterness their

remembered with

Arms

Bill

and

their re-

pressive measures.

PubHc

feeling ran high over

some of

their proposals, for the people resented

Lord John's modifidistrict in

cation of Sir

Robert Peel's plan by which the cost of public


be defrayed by the State and
given.
in

works was

to

which

employment was
cost should be
loans,
interest

Lord John determined


the
first

that the

met

instance by

Government

which were to be repaid with an almost nominal

by the people of the


that Ireland

district.

This was interpreted

to

mean

was

to bear her

own burdens, and

in

her impoverished state was to be saddled with the financial


responsibilities inseparable

from so pitiable a collapse of

prosperity.

Bread

riots

and agrarian disturbances grew


rather more than

common, and the Government met them with


becoming
tenure system which lay at the root of so

sternness, instead of dealing promptly with the land-

much
it

of the misery.

At the beginning of the session of 1847


10,000,000/.
situation.

was stated that

would be required

to

meet the exigencies of the


proposed a grant
of

Lord George Bentinck

16,000,000/. for the construction of Irish railways, but

Lord

John made the question one of personal confidence in himHis chief self, and threatened resignation if it passed. objection to the proposal was based on the fact that seventyfive

per cent, of the

money

spent in railway construction


classes.

would not reach the labouring


tinck's
at a

Lord George Ben-

motion was rejected by a sweeping majority, though


in the session

subsequent stage

the Government conthree Irish railways

sented to advance a substantial


a concession which exposed
consistency.

sum to

them

to the usual taunts of in-

Measures were also introduced


to the colonies,

for

promoting emigration

and

for the suspension of certain clauses of

MEASURES OF RELIEF
the

151

Navigation Laws which hindered the importation of

foreign corn.

At one time during the

distress there

were

no

less

than

works in
task
to

hundred thousand men employed on pubhc Ireland, and the Government found it no easy
six

organise this vast

army of

labour, or to prevent

abuses.

Lord Bessborough urged

that the people should


estates,

be employed in the improvement of private

but

Lord John met

this

proposal with disapproval, though he at

length agreed that the drainage of private land should


within the scope of public works.
to lend
It

come

was further determined

money

in aid of the

improvement of private property,

the operation of the Irish Poor


in

Law was

also extended,

and

other directions energetic measures were taken for the

relief of the prevailing destitution.

Lord John was a keen


particularly the personal

observer both of
istics

men and

of movements, and the character-

of the peasantry,

and more

helplessness of the people,

and the lack of concerted action


'

There are some things,' he among them, impressed him. declared, which the Crown cannot grant and which Parlia'

ment cannot enact


of co-operation.

the
I

spirit

of self-reliance
I

and the

spirit

must say plainly that


it

should indeed

despair of this task were


in the Irish

not that

think I see symptoms

people both of greater reliance on their own


exertions,

energies

and

and of greater

intelligence
it

to
if

co-

operate with each other.


Irish take for their
will

Happy
"

will

be, indeed,

the

maxim,

help you," and then I

Help yourselves and Heaven think they will find there is some
been mis-

use in adversity.'

Lord John
understood,

Russell's Irish policy has often

and not seldom misrepresented, but no one


all

who

looks

the facts calmly in the face, or takes into

account the

difficulties

which the famine threw

in his path,

152
will

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


be inclined to harsh
criticism.

Lady

Russell's journal

at this period reveals

how

great was her husband's anxiety

in

view of the

evil tidings

from Ireland, and one extract may


After stating that her husband

be allowed
has

to speak for

itself.

much
it

to distress
:

him

in the state of the country, these

words follow

'

God
it

grant

him success

in his

labours to

amend
duty,

famine,

fever, trade failing,

and discontent growI

ing are evils which

requires

all

his resolution, sense of

and love

for the public to face.

pray that he may,

and believe
greatest

that he will,

one day be looked back to as the


Ireland.'

benefactor of unhappy

When

once the

nature of the calamity became apparent, Lord John never


,

relaxed his efforts

to

grapple with the emergency, and,


is

though not a demonstrative man, there

proof enough that

he

felt

acutely for the people,

and laboured, not always peramelioration of their

haps wisely, but


lot.

at least well, for the

He

was assailed with a good deal of personal abuse,


vacillation

and was credited with


Ireland,

and apathy,

especially in

where

his opponents, acting in the capacity of jury-

men

at inquests
far as to

on the victims of the famine, sometimes


bring in a verdict of wilful murder against
It
is

went so

the Prime Minister.

easy enough after the event to

point out better methods than those devised at the imperious


call of

the

moment by

the Russell Administration, but there

are few fair-minded people in the present day

who would

venture to assert that justice and mercy were not in the as-

cendent during a

crisis

which taxed to the utmost the resources

of practical statesmanship.

The new Parliament assembled

in

November, and a Com-

mittee of both Houses was appointed to take into consideration the depressed condition of trade, for

symptoms of un-

mistakable distress were apparent in the great centres of

LORD CLARENDON
industry.

IN

IRELAND

53

Ireland, moreover,

still

blocked the way, and Lord

Clarendon,

who had succeeded


affairs,

to the viceroyalty,

alarmed

at the condition of

pressed for extraordinary powers.


it

The famine by

this

time was only a memory, but

had

left

a large section of the peasantry in a sullen and defiant mood.

As a consequence stormy
themselves
felt.

restlessness

and open
five

revolt

made

Armed mobs, sometimes


raids

hundred and

even a thousand strong, wandered about in lawless fashion,

pounced upon corn ,and made


indeed at times as
if life

on

cattle,

and

it

seemed

as well as property
to

was imperilled.

Lord Clarendon was determined

make

the disaffected feel

that the law could not be set aside with

impunity.

He

declared that the majority of these disturbers of the peace

were not in actual

distress,

and he made no

secret of his

opinion that their object was not merely intimidation but


plunder.
' '

I feel,'

were his words as the autumn advanced,

as

if I

was

at the

head of a provisional government

in a

half-conquered country.'
It
is

easy to assert that Lord Clarendon took a panic-

stricken view of the situation,

and attempts have again and


if

again been

made

to mitigate,

not to explain away, the


facts,

dark annals of Irish crime.

The

however, speak for


to point to

themselves, and they seemed at the

moment

such a
felt

sinister condition of affairs that

Lord John Russell

he had no option but to adopt repressive measures.

Sir

George Grey stated


cases

in

Parliament that the number


during
the
six

of

of

fatal

bloodshed
sixty-eight,

summer
Shooting

months of 1846 was


ing period in 1847
it

whilst in the correspondto ninety-six.

had increased
which

with intent to

slay,

in the six

months of 1846 had

numbered

fifty-five,

now

stood at 126.

Robbery under
in the

arms had also grown with ominous

rapidity, for

154

>

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


deeds of violence

contrasted half-years of 1846 and 1847

of this kind were 207 and 530 respectively, whilst outrage in

another of

its

most cruel and despicable forms

the

firing

of dweUing-houses

revealed,

under the same conditions of

time, 116 acts of incendiarism in 1847, as against fifty-one


in the previous year.

Limerick,
this

The disaffected districts of Clare, and Tipperary made the heaviest contribution to
;

dismal catalogue of crime

but

far

beyond

their borders

though with diminished

force, the lawless spirit prevailed.

Mr. Spencer Walpole, in his standard and authoritative


'

Life of

Lord John

Russell,' has

shown, by an appeal to his

correspondence with Lord Clarendon, how reluctant the

Prime Minister was


has also

to bring forward a
it

new Arms

Bill.

He

made

it

plain that

was only the logic of events

which
in

finally

convinced the Prime Minister of the necessity

any shape for such a measure.

Mr. Walpole has also vindifamiliar

cated, at considerable length.

Lord John from the

charge of having adopted in power the proposals which led to


the overthrow of the Peel Administration.
the fact that the
at the close of

He lays stress

on

Arms

Bill,

which the Government carried

1847 by a sweeping majority, was, to a noteSir

worthy extent, different from that which

Robert sought to

impose on Ireland twelve months

earlier,

and which the

Whigs met with strenuous and successful opposition. In Mr. Walpole's words, the new proposals 'did not contain
any provision
for

compensating the victims of outrages


;

at

the expense of the ratepayers

they

did not

render per-

sons congregated in public-houses or carrying arms liable


to arrest
;

above

all,

they did not comprise the brutal clause


at night liable to trans-

which made persons out of doors


portation.'

The

condition

of

Ireland

was,

indeed,

so
all

menacing

that the majority of

the English people of

JOHN BRIGHT AND IRISH AFFAIRS

55

shades of political opinion were of one mind as to the


necessity for stern measures.
Sir

Robert Peel, with no

less

candour than

chivalry,

declared that the best


to the last

reparation

which could be

made

Government would be
in

to assist the present

Government

passing such a law.

Perhaps
Bright.

still

more

significant

were the admissions of Mr. John

At the General Election the young orator had


to Parliament, not for a Sleepy
first

been returned

Hollow

like

Durham, which had


ing constituency

sent him, but for the

commandat

of Manchester,

and almost

once he

found himself

in opposition to the views of a vast

number
persons

of the inhabitants.
against
in

He
signed

was requested to present a petition

the

bill

by more than

20,000

Manchester.

In doing so he took the opportunity of ex-

plaining in the
it

House

of

Commons
its

the reasons which

made
as he

impossible for him

assuredly was

to support

^^friend

of peace
prayer.

and goodwill

He

declared that the

unanimous statements of
of

all

the newspapers, the evidence

men
it

of

all

parties connected with Ireland, as well as the


official authority,

facts

which were placed before them with


plain

made

beyond a doubt

that the ordinary law

was was

utterly powerless, and, therefore,

he

felt

that the case of the

Government, so

far as the necessity for

such a

bill

concerned, was both clear and perfect.

Mr. Bright drew attention to the


in Ireland

fact that assassinations

were not looked upon as murders, but rather as


;

executions
to

and

that

some of them

at least

were not due

sudden outbursts of passion, but were planned with

deliberation

and

carried out in cold blood.

He

saw no

reason to doubt that in certain districts public sentiment

was

'

depraved and thoroughly vitiated

'

and he added

that, since the ordinary law

had

failed to

meet the emergency

156
the
for

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Government had a case
for

the

demand

they

made

an extension of

their present powers,

and he thought

that the bill before the


since, whilst
it

House was

the less to be opposed


it

strengthened the hands of the Executive,

did not greatly exceed or infringe the ordinary law.


at the

Mr. Bright
secret of his

same

time,

it is

only

fair to

add,

made no

own

conviction that the

Government had not grappled with


and he complained of

sufficient

courage with

its difficulties,

the delay which had arisen over promised legislation of a

remedial character.

Lord John himself was persuaded, some time before


Mr. Bright made
to
this speech, that
it

was useless to attempt

meet the captious and

selfish objections
;

on the question of

agrarian reform of the landlord class

and, as a matter of fact,

he had already drawn up, without consulting anyone, the


outline of a measure which he described to
as a
'

Lord Clarendon

plan for giving some security and some provision to

the miserable cottiers,

who

are

now

treated as brute beasts.'

Years before
clared in the

to be exact, in the spring of 1844 he had de-

House of Commons that, whilst the Government of England was, as it ought to be, a Government of opinion, the Government of Ireland was notoriously a Government
of force.

Gradually he was forced to the view that centuries

of oppression

and misunderstanding, of

class hatred

and

opposite aims, had brought about a social condition which

made

it

necessary that judicial authority should have a voice


in

between landlord and tenant

every case of ejectment.

Lord John's

difficulties in

dealing with Ireland were compli-

cated by the distrust of three-fourths of the people of the

good intentions of Enghsh statesmanship.


great
to

Political agitators,

and

small, of the

Young

Ireland school, did their best

deepen the suspicions of an impulsive and ignorant

THE TREASON FELONY ACT

57

peasantry against the Whigs, and Lord John was personally


assailed, until

he became a sort of bogie-man to the

lively

and undisciplined imagination of a


race.

sensitive but resentful

Even educated Irishmen of a


dull weight of prejudice

later generation

have,

with scarcely an exception, failed to do justice either to the

and opposition with which Lord

John had
to give

to

contend

in his efforts to help their country, or

him due

credit for the constructive statesmanship


to a

which he brought

comphcated and disheartening


in fact, in

task.^

Lord John Russell was,


in

some
;

directions not only

advance of

his party

but of his times

and, though
it

it

has

long been the fashion to cavil at his Irish policy,


to

ought not

be forgotten,

in

common

fairness, that

he not only passed

the

Encumbered

Estates Act of 1848, but sought to introduce

the principle of compensation to tenants for the improve-

ments which they had made on


in her
spirit

their

holdings.

Vested

interests proved, however, too powerful,

and Ireland stood

own

light

by persistent
in

sedition.
in.

The

revolutionary

was abroad

1848 not only


Irish,

France, but in other

parts of Europe,

and the

under Mr. Smith O'Brien,

Mr. John Mitchel, and

less responsible

men, talked at random,

with the result that treasonable conspiracy prevailed, and the

country was brought to the verge of civil war.

The Irish Governto pro-

ment was forced by

hostile

and armed movements

claim certain districts in which rebellion was already rampant.

The Treason Felony Act made it

illegal,

and punishable with

penal servitude, to write or speak in a manner calculated to

provoke rebellion against the Crown.


*

This extreme stipulaMemories

Judge O'Connor Morris,

in his interesting retrospect,

and Thoughts of a Life^ just published, whilst severely criticising the Whig attitude towards Ireland, admits that Russell's Irish policy was
not only
'

well-meant,' but in the main successful.

158
tion

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


was made
at the instance of

Lord Campbell.

Such an

invasion of freedom of speech was not allowed to pass unchallenged, and

Lord John, who winced under the necessity

of repression, admitted the force of the objection, so far as


to declare that this form of irksome restraint should not be

protracted beyond the necessity of the hour.

He

was not

the

man

to shirk personal danger, and therefore, in spite of

insurrection

and

panic,

and the

threats of agitators

who were
mea-

seeking to compass the repeal of the


sures,

Union by
consult

violent

he went himself to Dublin to

with

Lord

Clarendon, and to gather on the spot his


of the situation.

shadowed by the

own impressions He found the country once more overprospects of famine, and he came to the
for

conclusion that the population was too numerous for the


soil,

and subsequently passed a measure

promoting aided
from the public

emigration.

He

proposed also to

assist

funds the

Roman

Catholic clergy, whose livelihood


;

had
in

grown precarious through the national distress

but,

deference to strong Protestant opposition, this method of amelioration

had

to

be abandoned.
the

The
at

leaders of the
defiance,

Young
John

Ireland party set


Mitchel, a leader

authorities

and

who advocated an appeal to and Smith O'Brien, who talked wildly about
ment of an
transported.
Irish Republic,

physical force,

the establish-

were arrested, convicted, and


declared
that

O'Connell

himself

Smith

O'Brien was an exceedingly weak man, proud and self-conceited


of

and 'impenetrable
for half

to advice.'

'

You cannot be

sure

him

an hour.'

The

force of the

movement was

broken by cliques and


was

quarrels, until the spirit of disaffection

no longer formidable.

In

August,

her Majesty dis-

played in a marked way her personal interest in her Irish


subjects by a State visit to Dublin.

The Queen was

re-

SCHOOLS AND SCHOOLMASTERS


ceived with enthusiasm, and her presence did
still

59

much to weaken
sedition.

further the already diminishing

power of

The

question of education lay always close to the heart

who found time even amid the stress of 1847 to advance it. The Melbourne Administration had vested the management of Parliamentary grants in aid of
of Lord John Russell,

education in a committee of the Privy Council.

In spite of

suspicion and hostility, which found expression both in Par-

liament and in ecclesiastical

circles,

the

movement extended
first

year by year and slowly pervaded with the


of culture the social
life

beginnings

of the people.

Tord John had

taken an active part in establishing the authority of the Privy

Council in education
its

he had watched the rapid growth of


to

influence,

and had not forgotten

mark

the defects which

had come

to light during the six years'

working of the system.


it,

He

therefore proposed to remodel

and took

steps

in

doing so to better the position of the teacher, as well as to


render primary education more
efficient.

Paid pupil teachers


the

accordingly took the place of unpaid monitors, and

opportunity of gaining admittance after this practical apprenticeship to training colleges,

where they might be equipped

for the full discharge of the duties of their calling,

was

thrown open

to them.

As a

further inducement, teachers

who had gone through


Government grant
were also
for the first

this collegiate training

received a

in addition to the usual salary.

Grants

time given to schools which passed


official

with success through the ordeal of

inspection.

The
his

passing of the Factory Bill was another effort in the

practical redress of

wrongs

to

which Lord John Russell


will

lent

powerful aid.

The measure, which


for labour

always

be

honourably associated with the names of Lord Shaftesbury

and Mr. Fielden, was a victory

which was hailed

l6o

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

with enthusiasm by artisans and operatives throughout the


land.
to
It

came
to

as a

measure of practical

relief,

not merely
sixty-three

men, but

upwards of three hundred and


children,

thousand

women and

employed

in

monotonous

tasks in mill

and manufactory. Another change which Lord

John Russell was directly instrumental in bringing about was the creation of the Poor Law Commission into a Ministerial

Department, responsible to Parliament, and able to


its

explain

work and
lips

to

defend

its

policy at Westminster,

through the

of the President of the Poor

Law

Board.

Regulations were at the same time


trol,

made

for

workhouse con-

meetings of guardians, and the

like.

The

great

and

ever-growing needs of Manchester were recognised in 1847

by the creation of the Bishopric. on July


the
23,

Parliament was dissolved


of Free Trade had
left

and
.

as the adoption

country for the


it,

moment

without any great question


political

directly before

no marked

excitement followed
party was in

the appeal to the people.


truth demoralised
forces

The Conservative
to

by the downfall of Peel, and the new


shape
its

which were soon

course had as yet

scarcely revealed themselves, though

Lord Stanley, Lord


was

George Bentinck, and Mr.

Disraeli were manifestly the


If the general election
dis-

coming men

in Opposition.
little

tinguished by
other,
for
it

enthusiasm either on one side or the


it

yet brought with

a personal triumph to

Lord John,
poll.

he was returned

for the City at the

head of the
its

The Government
increased
it

itself

not only renewed

strength, but

as a result of the contest throughout the country.


hostility of the

At the same time the


was seen

opponents of Free Trade

in the return of

two hundred and twenty-six Pro-

tectionists, in addition to

one hundred and

five

Conserva-

tives of the

new school

of Bentinck and Disraeli.

DIFFICULTIES OF A PLAIN ENGLISHMAN


In Other directions, meanwhile,
difficulties

l6l

had beset the


of

Government.

The proposed appointment


at Oxford, to the

Broad

Churchman of advanced views,


Regius Professor
filled

in the person of Dr.

Hampden,

vacant see of Hereford

High Church party with indignant dismay. Dr. Newman, with the courage and self-sacrifice which were characteristic of the man, had refused by this time to hold
the

any longer an untenable

position, and, in spite of his brilliant

prospects in the English Church, had yielded to conscience

and submitted and under


strong,

to

Rome.
its

Dr. Pusey, however, remained,

his skilful leadership the

Oxford Movement grew


devout women,

and threw

spell in particular over


it

whose aesthetic instincts


a semi-conventual

satisfied,
^

and whose aspirations after

life it

met.

Lord John had many of the

characteristics of the plain Englishman.

He

understood

zealous Protestants, and, as his rejected scheme for aiding the


priests in Ireland itself shows,

he was also able to apprehend


Catholics.

the position of earnest

Roman

He had,
Book

however,

not so learnt his Catechism or his Prayer

as to under-

stand that the Reformation,

if

not a crime, was at least a

blunder, and therefore, like other plain Englishmen, he was

not prepared to admit the pretensions and assumptions of a

new

race of nondescript priests.

Thirteen prelates took the

unusual course of requesting the Prime Minister to reconsider


his decision, but

Lord John's
'

reply was at once courteous

and emphatic.

cannot

sacrifice the

reputation of Dr.
believe to be the

Hampden, the rights of the Crown, and what I

true interests of the Church, to a feeling which I believe to

have been founded on misapprehension and fomented by


prejudice.'
'

Although Dr.

Pusey did not hesitate

to
in

deLon-

The

first

Anglican Sisterhood was founded by Dr. Pusey

don

in the spring of 1845.

62
that

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


the affair was
'a

clare

matter of Hfe and death,'

ecclesiastical protest availed nothing,

and Dr. Hampden was

in

due time consecrated.


Neither agrarian outrages in Ireland nor clerical agitation

in

England hindered,

in the session of 1848, the passing of

measures of social improvement.

The

Public Health Act,


Sir

which was based on the representations of

Edwin Chad-

wick and Dr. Southwood Smith, grappled with the sanitary


question in cities and towns, and thus improved in a variety
of directions the social
life

of the people.

It

had hitherto

been the fashion of Whigs and Tories


tical

alike to neglect prac-

measures of

this kind,

even though they were so closely

hnked

to the health

and welfare of the community.


D.D., hyU.

Life of E. B. Pusey,

Liddon, D.D.,

vol.

iii.

p.

160

i63

CHAPTER
IN

VIII

ROUGH WATERS
1848-18*52

The

People's Charter Feargus O'Connor and the crowd Lord Palmerston strikes from his own bat Lord John's view of the political situation Death of Peel Palmerston and the Court No

'

Popery' The Durham Letter The


remark about Palmerston

John's Fall of the Russell Administration.

invasion scare

Lord

England

in

1848 was not destined to escape an outbreak of

the revolutionary spirit, though the Chartist movement, in spite


of the panic which
it

awakened, was never

really

formidable

The overthrow and


tion in

flight

of Louis Philippe, the proclama-

March

of the French Republic on the basis of univer-

sal suffrage

and national workshops, and the revolutionary


insurrections in Austria
this

movements and
artisans

and

Italy, filled

the

and operatives of
Within
in

country with wild

dreams,
dispirited
Bill,

and led them


forces.

to rally their scattered

and hitherto

six years of the passing of the

Reform

in

fact,

the

autumn

after

the

Queen's accession, the


conclusion
that their

working classes had come


interests

to the

had been

largely overlooked,
in the

and that the expectahad

tions they

had cherished

struggle of 1831-32

been

falsified

by the apathy and even the reaction which

followed the victory.

Not

in one, but in all the great civil

and

religious

struggles of the century, they

had borne the

64

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


;

brunt of the battle


it

and

yet they

had been thrust aside when


their
for

came

to the dividing of the spoil.


classes

The middle
the

were in a different position

aspirations were satisfied,

and they were quite prepared,


rest

moment

at least, to

and be thankful.

The

sleek

complacency of the shopkeeper, moreover, and


to further agitation, threw into
restless
toil.

his hostility
relief the

somewhat dramatic

and

sullen attitude of less fortunate conscripts of


dear,

Food was

wages were low, work was

slack,

and
half-

in the great centres of industry the mills

were running

time,

and so keen was the struggle for existence that the operatives were at the mercy of their taskmasters, and too
often

found

it

cruel.

Small wonder
it

if

social

discontent
that the

was widespread, especially when

is

remembered

people were not only hopeless and

ill-fed,

but housed under

conditions which set at defiance even the most elementary

laws of health.

More than

to

any other

man

in the ranks

of higher statesmanship the people looked to Lord Durham,


the idol of the pitmen of the North, for the redress of their

wrongs, and no statesman of that period possessed more

courage or more real acquaintance with the actual needs of


the people.

Lord Durham, though a man of splendid


and generous sympathy, had, unhappily,

ability, swift vision,

the knack of making enemies, and the fiery impetuosity


of his spirit brought
leaders

him more than once


in

into conflict with

whose temperament was cold and whose caution

was

great.

The rebellion
was

Canada withdrew Lord Durham


beginning of 1838.
full

from the arena of English

politics at the

Then

it

that the people recognised to the


left,

the

temper of the statesmen that were


deliverance was to

and the

fact that, if

come from

political

and

social thraldom,

they must look to themselves and organise their strength.

A SORRY CHAMPION
The
famous
claimed
representatives of the working classes in
for radical political

65

1838

for-

mulated their demand

reform in the

six points of the People's Charter.

This declaration

manhood

suffrage
;

the division of the country into

equal electoral districts

vote by ballot ; annual Parliaments

the abolition of property qualification for a seat in the


of

House
for

Commons

and payment of members of Parliament

their

services.

The
:

People's

Charter took the working

classes

by storm

it

fired their imagination, inspired their

hopes, and drew


district into

them

in every

manufacturing town and

organised association.

movement was Feargus O'Connor, an Irish barrister and journalist, who had entered Parliament in 1832 as a follower of O'Connell and as member for Cork.

The

leader of the

He quarrelled,
which was
Restless

however, with the Irish leader, a circumstance


success as an agitator in his

fatal to

own

country.

and

reckless,

he henceforth carried his energy and

devoted his eloquence to the Chartist movement in England,

and

in

1847 the popular vote carried him once more to the


of

House

Commons

as

member

for

Nottingham.

He
seems,

copied the tactics of O'Connell, but had neither the judg-

ment nor the strength of the


glorious,

Irish

dictator.

He

indeed, to have been rather a poor creature of the vain-

bombastic type.

year or two later he

became

hopelessly insane,

and

in the vaporing heroics

and parade

of gasconade which marked him as the champion of the

now to However that may discover the first seeds of his disorder. be, he was a nine-days' wonder, for from All Fools' Day to the morning of April 10 society in London was in a state The troubles in Ireland, the insurrections of abject panic.
Chartists in the spring of

1848

it

is

charitable

and rumours of insurrection on the Continent, the revolution

66

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


menacing discontent
in the provinces,

in France, the

and

the threatening attitude of the working

men

in the

metropoUs,
classes,
all,

were enough to cause alarm among the privileged

and conscience made cowards, not


of the majority.
Literature
tory

certainly of

them

but

enough and
like,

to spare, explanatory, declama-

and the

has grown around a

movement which
the sand.

ran like an unfed

river, until it lost itself in

Three

men
them

of genius took
called the
'

up

their parable

about what one of

Condition of England Question,' and in


'

the pages of Carlyle's


Disraeli's
'

Chartism
last,

'

and

Past and Present,'


in

Sybil,'

and

but not

least,
is

Kingsley's

'Alton Locke,' the reader of to-day


sidelights,
vivid,

in

possession

of

picturesque,

and dramatic, on English


Lord John

society in the years

when
year

the Chartists were coming to their

power, and in the

when they

lost

it.

was

at first in favour of allowing the Chartists to

demonthey

strate to

their hearts' content. to cross

He

therefore proposed to

permit

them

Westminster Bridge,

so

that

might deliver

their petition at the doors of Parliament.

He

thought that the police might then prevent the re-forming


of the procession,

and

scatter the

crowd

in the direction of

Charing Cross.
people to

Lord John had done too much for the be afraid of them, and he refused to accept the
But the consternation was
general, that the Govern-

alarmist view of the situation.

so widespread,

and the panic so


to

ment

felt

compelled on April 6 to declare the proposed


illegal,

meeting criminal and

call

upon

all

peaceably

disposed citizens not to attend, and to take extraordinary


precautions.
It was,

however, announced that the right of


;

assembly would be respected

but,

on the advice of Wellingbe allowed


to cross the

ton, only three of the leaders were to

LONDON
bridge.

IN

TERROR

167

The Bank,
and

the Tower, and the neighbourhood of

Kennington
of cavalry

Common

meanwhile were protected by troops


approaches to the Houses
offices

infantry, whilst the

of Parliament
artillery.

and the Government


of the fateful loth

were held by

The morning

dawned

brightly, but
close,

no
a

one dared forecast how the evening would


houses were barricaded, and

and

for

few hours of suspense there was a reign of


in

terror.

Many
streets

the

West End the

were deserted except by the valiant special constables,


stood at every corner in defence of law and order.
shopkeepers,

who The

who were

not prepared to take joyfully the

spoiling of their goods,

formed the great mass of


fifty

this citizen

army
and

one hundred and


peril of the

thousand strong.

There were,
excitement

nevertheless, recruits from all classes,

and

in the

hour odd

men rubbed

shoulders.

Lord
Street,

Shaftesbury, for instance, was on duty in

Mount

Grosvenor Square, with a sallow young foreigner


panion,

for

com-

who was afterwards to create a more serious disturbance on his own account, and to spring to power as Napoleon III. Thomas Carlyle preferred to play the
part of the

untrammelled

man

in the street,

and

sallied

forth in search of food for reflection.


'

He wanted

to see the

revolution

'

for himself,
tells us, to
'

and strode towards Hyde Park,


walk himself into a glow of heat
'

determined, he
in spite of the

venomous cold wind which


quiet, in spite of

called forth his

anathemas.
at least, safe

The Chelsea
and
fifty

moralist found London, westward


'

empty rumours and a


that even the

hundred and

thousand oaths of special constables.'

He

noticed as he passed Apsley

House

Duke

had taken the

affair seriously, in
all

his private as well as his

public capacity, for

the iron blinds were down.

The Green

68

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


]\Iounted

Park was closed.


Constitution Hill.

Guardsmen stood ready on

The

fashionable carriage had vanished

from Piccadilly.

Business everywhere was at a standstill, for

London knew not what that day might bring forth. Presently the rain began to fall, and then came down in drenching
showers.
stables

In spite of their patriotic fervour, the special con-

grew both damp and depressed.

Suddenly a rumour

ran along the streets that the great demonstration at Kenning-

ton

Common had

ended in smoke, and by noon the crowd was

streaming over Westminster Bridge and along Whitehall,


bearing the tidings that the march to the

House of Commons
in fact,

had been abandoned.


fright,

Feargus O'Connor had,


petition
rattled

taken

and presently the

ingloriously to

AVestminster in the safe but modest keeping of a hackney


cab.

The shower swept

the angry and noisy rabble

home-

wards, or into neighbouring public-houses, and ridicule

as
had

the evening filled the town with complacent special constables

and

their

admiring wives and sweethearts did even

more than the

rain to

quench the Chartist agitation.


fifty

It

been boldly announced that one hundred and


people would meet at Kennington.
that

thousand

Less than a third of


part of the crowd

number assembled, and a considerable

had evidently been attracted by curiosity.


the monster petition with
its

Afterwards,

when
it

signatures was examined,


'

was

found to

fall

short of the boasted

five million

'

names by up-

wards of three millions.


were palpably
fictitious
;

Many

of those which did appear

indeed the rude wit of the London


of
silly

apprentice was

responsible for scores


affair

signatures.

Lord John's comment on the


After stating that no great

was

characteristic.

numbers followed the cab which

contained the petition, and that there was no

mob

at the

door of the House of Commons, he adds

'
:

London escaped

palmerston's opportunity
the fate of Paris, Berlin,
I

169
part,

and Vienna.

For

my own

saw

in these proceedings a fresh


satisfied with the
live,

proof that the people of

England were
by

Government under which


and did

they had the happiness to

did not wish to be instructed

their neighbours in the principles of freedom,

not envy them either the liberty they had enjoyed under
Robespierre, or the order which had been established

among
Vienna
of

them by Napoleon the


Lord
suggests

Great.'

John's
foreign

allusion
politics,

to

Paris,

Berhn, and
the

and

also

growing lack

harmony between Lord Palmerston on the one hand and Although he long the Court and Cabinet on the other.
held the highest office under the Crown, Lord Palmerston's
chief claim to distinction

was won as Foreign Minister.

He

began

his official career as a

Tory

in the Portland

Adminis-

tration of 1807,

and two years


held
this

later

at the

age of five-andin the Perceval

twenty

was

appointed Secretary at

War
for

Government.
eighteen
.till

He
it,

post

the

long term of
to

years,

and when Canning succeeded


with a seat in the
Cabinet.

power

retained
liberal

Palmerston

was a

Tory of the school of Canning, and, when


in

Lord Grey became Premier


cient
Office,

1830, was a

man

of

suffi-

mark

to

be entrusted with the

seals of the Foreign

though, until his retirement in 1834, Grey exercised


It

a controlling voice in the foreign policy of the nation.

was not

until

Grey was succeeded by Melbourne that

Palmerston began to display both his strength and his

weakness in independent action.

He

saw

his

opportunity and took

it.

He knew

his

own mind and disliked interference, and this made him more and more inclined to be heedless of the aid, and Under a almost of the approval, of his colleagues.

I/O

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

provokingly pleasant manner lurked, increasingly, the temper


of an autocrat.

Melbourne

sat lightly to

most

things,

and

not least to

questions of foreign policy.

He

was

easily

bored, and believed in laissez-faire to an extent which has

never been matched by any other Prime Minister in the

Queen's

reign.

The consequence was

that for seven critical

years Palmerston did what was right in his

own

eyes, until

he

came to regard himself not merely as the custodian of


English interests abroad, but almost as the one

man

in the

Cabinet who was entitled to speak with authority concerning them.


rest

If the responsibility of the

first

Afghan war must


fair to

chiefly

on

his shoulders,
risk of a

it

is

only

remember

that

he took the

war with France

in order to drive

Ibrahim Pacha out of


at the

Syria.

From

first

to last, his tenure

Foreign Office covered a period of nearly twenty years.


serious mistakes, he also

Though he made
nationalities
felt

made

despots

in every part of the

world afraid of him

whilst struggling

that the great English Minister

was not

oblivious of the claims


for

of justice, or

deaf to the appeal

mercy.

Early in

the

Russell Administration

Lord

Palmerston's high-handed treatment of other members of


the Cabinet provoked angry comment, and Sir Robert Peel

did not conceal his opinion that Lord John gave his im-

petuous colleague too


was,

much

of his

own

way.

The

truth

the Premier's
full

hands, and heart also, were in

1846

and 1847

of the Irish famine,


fact.

and Lord Palmerston


agreement with his

took advantage of the


was, broadly speaking,

Moreover, Lord John Russell

in substantial

Foreign Minister, though he cordially disliked his habit


of taking swift

and almost independent

action.

At the beginning of 1848 Palmerston seemed determined to pick a quarrel with France, and in February

CLIMBING

DOWN

171

drew up a threatening despatch on the difficulty which had arisen between our Ambassador (Lord Normanby)

and Louis PhiUppe, which brought matters

to

crisis.

Louis PhiUppe had acted a dishonourable part over the


Spanish marriages, and Palmerston was prepared to go
out of his way to humiliate France.
the affair

At the

last

moment,

came

to

Lord John's knowledge through Lord


the

Clarendon, with

the result that

communication was
to

countermanded.

Lord Palmerston appears


it

have taken

the rebuff, humiliating as


chalance, and
effect.
it

was, with characteristic non-

produced

little

more than a momentary


of Louis Philippe quickly

The ignominious
for a revolt

flight

followed,

and the revolution

in

France was the signal in

Vienna
drove

of the students
refuge
in

and

artisans,

which

Metternich to find

England
Tyrol.

and the
Austrians,

Emperor Ferdinand to seek asylum in the Hungarians, and Slavs only needed an
'

opportunity, such

as the 'year of revolutions afforded, to display their hostihty

to

one another, and the


to

racial jealousy

brought Austria and

Hungary

open

war.

In

Milan, in Naples, and Berlin


itself,

the revolutionary spirit displayed

and

in these centres,

as well as in Switzerland, changes in the direction of liberty

took place.

Lord John Russell, in an important document, which Mr. Walpole has printed, and which bears date May i, 1848,
has explained his

own view

of the

political

situation in

Europe

at that

moment.

After a lucid and

impressive

survey of the changes that had taken place in the

Europe since the Congress of Vienna,


the principle that
it

map of Lord John lays down


for

is

neither

becoming nor expedient

England

to proclaim that the Treaties of 181 5 were invalid.

On

the contrary, England ought rather to promote, in the

172

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


and
order, the

interests of peace
torial divisions

maintenance of the

terri-

then made. At the same time, England, amid


if

the storm, ought not to persist in clinging to a wreck

a safe

spar

is

within her reach.

He

recognised that Austria could

hardly restore her sway in Italy, and was not in a position


to confront the cost of a protracted war,
in

which France

was certain
it

to take sides against her.

He,

therefore, thought

advisable that English diplomacy should be brought to

bear at Vienna, so as to 'produce a frank abandonment


of

Lombardy and Venice on


it

the part of Austria.'

He

declared that

was not

to the

advantage of England to
;

meddle with the


there was a

internal affairs of Spain

but he thought
under-

favourable chance of coming to an

standing question

with

Germany,

where the

Schleswig-Holstein
'

already

threatened

disturbance.

It

is

our

interest,' are
'

the final words of this significant State paper,

to use our influence as speedily

and

as generally as possible
fix

to settle the
States.

pending questions and to


if

the boundaries of
it

Otherwise,

war once becomes general,


finally

will

spread over

Germany, reach Belgium, and


its

sweep
peace

England into

vortex.

Should our

efforts

for

succeed, Europe
of

may

begin a new career with more or less


;

hope and of concord


in the

should they

fail,

we must keep
England

our sword

scabbard as long as we can, but we cannot


in a

hope

to

be neutral

great

European war.

cannot be indifferent to the supremacy of France over

Germany and
with a

Italy, or to the
;

advance of Russian armies

to Constantinople

still

less to the incorporation of

Belgium

new French Empire.'


usual.

As

Lord Palmerston had

his

own

ideas

and the

courage of them.

Within three weeks of the Russell

Memo-

randum

to the

Cabinet he accordingly stood out in his true

OUR POLICY ABROAD


colours as a frank opportunist.
foreign policy, he
stated,

173

The

guiding rule of his

was to promote and advance,

as far as lay in his power, the interests of the country as

opportunity served and as necessity arose.


everlasting union with this or that country
tion of policy with another.

'

We

have no

no

identifica-

We

have no natural enemies


find a

no

perpetual friends.

When we

Power pursuing

that course of policy which

we wish

also to promote, for

the time that Power becomes our ally; and

when we

find a

country whose interests are at variance with our own,


are involved for a time with the

we

Government of

that country.
inter-

We
ests

find
;

no

fault with other nations for

pursuing their
if,

and they ought not

to find fault with us,

in pursuing

our interests, our course

may be

different

from

theirs.'

Lord

Palmerston held

that

the real policy

of

this
right,

country was to be the champion of justice and

though professing no sympathy with the notion that England


ought to become, to borrow his own expression, the Quixote
of the world.
'

hold that England

is

Power

sufficiently

strong to steer her

own

course,

and not

to tie herself as

an

unnecessary appendage to the policy of any other Government.'


into

He

declared that,

if

he might be allowed to gather

one sentence the principle which he thought ought to

guide an EngHsh statesman, he would adopt the expression


of Canning,
interests

and say

that with every British Minister


to

the

of England ought

be the shibboleth of

his policy.

Unfortunately, Lord Palmerston, in spite of such statements,

was too

much

inclined to throw the moral weight of

England
it

into this or that scale

on

his

own

responsibility, and, as

often

seemed

to dispassionate observers,

on the mere caprice

of the hour.

He

took up the position that the interests of

England were

safe in his hands,

and magnified

his office.

174

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

sometimes to the annoyance of the Court and often to the


chagrin of the
Cabinet.

No

matter what storm raged,

Palmerston always contrived to come to the surface again

hke a cork.
found

He
and

never
his

lost his self-possession,


infallibility

and a prounder
spirit

sense of

own

helped him,

difficulties

rebuffs

which would have knocked the

out of other men, to adopt the attitude of the patriotic states-

man

struggling with adversity.

When

the session of 1849

closed he was in an extremely difficult position, in conse-

quence of the growing disHke

in high quarters to his policy,

and the coolness which had sprung up between himself and the majority of
his colleagues
;

yet

we
'

find

him

writing

a jaunty note to his brother in the strain of a

man who had

not only deserved success but

won

it.

After the trumpet-

ings of attacks that were to demolish

first

one and then


then

another of the
Charles

Government

first

me, then Grey,

Wood we
^

have come triumphantly out of the de-

bates and divisions, and end the session stronger than

we

began

it.'

Lord Palmerston's passion

for personal

ascendency was

not to be repressed, and in the electric condition of Europe


it

proved perilous as well as embarrassing to the Russell

Administration.
colleagues,

Without the knowledge of the Queen or

his

Lord Palmerston,

for instance, sent a letter to Sir

H. Bulwer advising an extension of the


Madrid
that the Spanish

basis of the Spanish

Government, an act of interference which caused so much


irritation at

Government requested
Happily, the

the British

Ambassador

to leave the country.

breach with Madrid was repaired after a few months' anxiety

on the part
'

of Palmerston's

colleagues.
lion.

The Queen's
vol.
ii.

Life of

Lord Palmerston, by the

Evelyn Ashley,

P- 95-

STRAINED RELATIONS

175

sense of the indiscretion was apparent in the request to

Lord Palmerston
distrust at

to submit in future all his despatches to the

Prime Minister. Other occasions soon arose which increased


Windsor, and further strained friendly relations

between the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary.


latter's

The

removal to some

less responsible post

was contem-

plated, for her Majesty appeared to disapprove of everything

Lord Palmerston
stances which
cient to

did.

Without detailing the various circumdispleasure,


it is suffi-

awakened the Queen's


to

draw attention
'

one event known


Pacifico
'

in the annals

of diplomacy as the

Don

affair

which threatened

the overthrow of the Ministry,

demanded in vain compensation from the Greek Government for damage to their property. Lord Palmerston came to their defence, and sent private
British subjects

Two

instructions

to

the

Admiral of the

British

fleet

at the

Dardanelles to seize Greek vessels by way of reprisal, which

was promptly done.

The tidings fell

like a

thunderbolt upon
protests,

Downing

Street.

France and Russia made angry

and war was predicted.


London.

At length an

offer of

mediation
in

from Paris was accepted, and the matter was arranged

Lord Palmerston, however, omitted

to inform the

English Minister at Athens of the settlement, and, whilst

everyone in England rejoiced that the storm had blown


over, the

Admiral was laying an embargo on other

ships,

and
tion.

at last forced the

Greek Government to grant compensa-

France, indignant at such cavalier treatment, recalled

M. Drouyn de Lhuys from London, and again the war-cloud Lord Palmerston had the audacity to state in lowered. the House of Commons that the French Minister had returned to Paris in order presumably to be the medium of
'

communication between the two Governments as

to these

[76
matters.'

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


The
truth

came out on the morrow, and Lord


affairs.

John, in the discreet absence of his colleague, was forced to


explain as best he might the position of

Although
able,

he screened Lord Palmerston as


determined to make a change

far

as

he was

he

at the

Foreign Office.

In June 1850, Lord Stanley challenged the foreign policy of Lord Palmerston in the House of Lords, and carried, by
a majority of thirty-seven, a
resolution of censure.

Mr.

Roebuck,

in the

Commons, met

the hostile vote by a resolu-

tion of confidence, and, after four nights' debate, secured a

majority

of forty-six.

Lord Palmerston made an able

defence of his conduct of affairs, and Lord John Russell,


differed

who

from him not so

much

in

the

matter as in the

manner of

his decisions, not

merely refused to leave his

colleague in the lurch, but

came vigorously to his support. The debate was rendered memorable on other grounds.
Robert Peel,
in the course of
it,

Sir

delivered his last speech

in Parliament.

The

division,

which gave Palmerston a fresh

tenure of power, was taken at four o'clock on the morning of


Saturday, June 29.

Peel

left

the

House
site of

to snatch a few

hours' sleep before going at


settle the

noon

to a

meeting which was to


the Great Exhibi-

disputed question as to the

tion.

He

kept his appointment


his horse

but later in the day he was


Hill,

thrown from
injuries

on Constitution
fatal

and received
2.

which proved

on the night of July

His
still

death was a national calamity, for at sixty-two he was


in the fulness

of his

strength.

There

will
;

always be a
there
is

diversity of

judgment concerning
his character.

his career

but

one opinion about

Few

statesmen have gone

to their grave amid more remarkable expressions of regret. Old and young colleagues, from the Duke of Wellington to

Mr. Gladstone, betrayed by their emotion no

less

than by

PEEL AND PALMERSTON


their words, their grief over the loss of a leader

177

who followed

his conscience

even

at the

expense of the collapse of his

power.

Lord John

doubt, of Sir

most distinguished, without Robert's opponents on the floor of the House,


Russell, the
rival's

paid a generous tribute to his


that posterity greatest that
'

memory.

He

declared

would regard

Sir

Robert Peel as one of the

and most
that

patriotic of statesman.

He

laid stress

on

long and large experience of public


oratorical

affairs,

that profound

knowledge,

power, that copious yet exact


to

memory, with which the House was wont


interested,

be enlightened,

and guided.'

When

the offer of a public funeral

was declined,

in deference to Sir Robert's

known

wishes.

Lord John proposed and carried a resolution for the erection He also marked his of a statue in Westminster Abbey.
sense of the loss which the nation

had

sustained, in the

disappearance of an illustrious man, by giving his noble-

minded and broken-hearted widow the refusal of a peerage. Meanwhile, Lord Palmerston, on the strength of the vote of confidence in the Commons, was somewhat of a
popular hero.

People who beheve that England can do no

wrong, at least abroad, beUeved in him.


delighted the

His audacity

man in the club. His pluck took the platform and much of the press by storm. The multitude
rehshed his peremptory despatches, and were delighted when In he either showed fight or encouraged it in others.
course of time
'

Pam' became the


temper but
;

typical fine old English

gentleman of

genial

domineering
little

instincts.

Prince Albert disliked him


too

he was too

of a courtier,

much
at

of an off-handed

man

of

affairs.

Windsor, of

course, received early tidings of the impression

which was

made
and

foreign

Courts by the most independent and


Occasionally

cavalier Foreign Minister of the century.

178

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

he needlessly offended the susceptibihties of exalted personages abroad as well as at home.

At length the Queen,


drew up
which
explicit directions

determined no longer to be put


a sharply-worded

in a false position, in

memorandum,
'

were given

for the transaction of business


Office.

between the Crown


first,

and the Foreign


Palmerston

The Queen

requires,

that
in

Lord
what

will distinctly state

what he proposes

a given

case, in order that the

Queen may know


;

as distinctly to

she

is

giving her royal sanction

secondly, having once given


it

her sanction to a measure, that


or modified

be not

arbitrarily altered

by the Minister.

Such an

act she

must consider
justly to

as failing in sincerity towards the Crown,


visited

and

be

by the exercise of her constitutional

right of dis-

missing that Minister.

She expects

to

be kept informed of

what passes between him and the Foreign Ministers before


important decisions are taken, based upon that intercourse
to receive the foreign despatches in
;

good time

and

to

have

the drafts for her approval sent to her in sufficient time to

make

herself acquainted with their contents


off.'

before

they

must be sent

No

responsible adviser of the

Crown during
in

the reign

had received such emphatic censure, and


people were talking as
if

August 1850

Palmerston was bound to resign.


if

He
his

certainly

would have done so


;

he had merely consulted

own

feelings

but he declared that to resign just then

would be

to play into the

hands of the

political adversaries

whom
at the

he had

just defeated,

and

to

throw over his supporters

moment when
with

they had fought a successful battle on


therefore, accepted the

his behalf.

Lord Palmerston,

Queen's
her

instructions

unwonted meekness.
fail

He

assured

Majesty that he would not


the

to attend to the directions which

memorandum

contained, and for a while

harmony was

THE COUP d'&TAT


restored.

179

In the autumn of 185 1 Louis Kossuth arrived in

England, and met with an enthusiastic reception, of the kind

which was afterwards accorded

in

London

to another popular

hero, in the person of Garibaldi.

Lord Palmerston received

Kossuth
of the

at the

Foreign Office, and, contrary to the wishes


Minister, deputations were admitted,
for his

Queen and Prime

and addresses were presented, thanking Palmerston


services in the cause of humanity, whilst in the

same breath
as
'

allusions to the

Emperors of Austria and Russia


assassins
'

odious

and detestable

were made.

Almost before the

annoyance created by
sided,

this fresh act of indiscretion

had subserious

Lord Palmerston was

guilty of a

still

more

offence.

Louis

Napoleon had been elected President of the


five

French Republic by

and a

half million votes.

He

was

thought to be ambitious rather than able, and he had pledged


himself to sustain the existing Constitution.
his

He worked
first

for

own hand, however, and accordingly


then the peasants, and

conciliated

the

clergy,

finally the

army, by

fair

pro2,

mises, popular acts,


1

and a bold

policy.

On December

85 1,

when his term

of office was expiring.

Napoleon suddenly

overthrew the Assembly, which had refused a month or two


previously to revise the Constitution in order to

make

the
all

President eligible

for

re-election,

and next morning


Coup d'Etat.

Europe was
the

startled with tidings of the


felt

Both

EngUsh Court and Cabinet

that absolute neutrality


in Paris,

must be observed during the tumult which followed

and
to

instructions to that effect were accordingly transmitted

Lord Normanby.
this
official

But w^hen

that

diplomatist

made

known

communication, he was met with the

retort that

Lord Palmerston, in a conversation with the French Ambassador in London, had already declared that
N
2

So

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

the Coup d^Etat was an act of self-defence, and in fact was

the best thing under the circumstances for France.

Lord

Palmerston, in a subsequent despatch to Lord Normanby,

which was not submitted either to the Queen or the Prime


Minister, reiterated his opinion.

Under

these circumstances, Lord

John Russell had no

alternative except to dismiss

Lord Palmerston.

He

did so,

as he explained

when Parliament met

in February,

on the
him-

ground that the Foreign Secretary had


self,

practically put

for the

moment,

in the place of the

Crown.

He had
when

given the moral approbation of England to the acts of the


President of the Republic of France, though he knew,

he was

doing so, that he was acting in direct opposition to

the wishes of the sovereign and the policy of the Govern-

ment.

Lord John

stated in the

House

of

Commons

that

he took upon himself the sole and entire responsibility of


advising

her Majesty to require the resignation of Lord

Palmerston.

He

added

that,

though the Foreign Secretary


to

had neglected what was due


leagues, he felt sure that
disrespect.

the

Crown and
all

his col-

he had not intended any personal


his experience of

Greville declared that, in

scenes in Parliament, he could recall no such triumph as Lord


Russell achieved on this occasion, nor had he ever witnessed a

discomfiture

more complete than

that of Palmerston.

Lord

Dalhng, another eye-witness of the episode, has described,

from the point of view of a sympathiser


the

Avith

Palmerston,
sur-

manner
by the

in
'

which he seemed completely taken by


'

prise

tremendous assault which Lord John, by a


to facts,

damaging appeal

made

against him.

In his view,
to

Russell's speech was

one of the most powerful


its effect

which he
Disraeli,

had ever

listened,

and

was overwhelming.

meeting Lord Bailing by chance next day on the staircase

'THERE WAS A PALMERSTON

'
!

l8l
sig-

of the Russian Embassy, exclaimed as he passed, with


nificant emphasis,
'

There was a Palmerston


Palmerston

'

The common
;

opinion at the clubs found expression in a phrase which

passed from

lip to lip,

'

is

smashed

'

but,

though was

driven for the

moment

to bay, the dismissed Minister

himself of another mind.

Lord Palmerston was


his. dismissal

offered the Irish Viceroyalty, but

he decHned to take such an appointment.

He

accepted

with a characteristic affectation of indifference,

and

in the course of a laboured defence of his action in the

House

of

Commons, excused

his

communication
it

to the

French Ambassador on the plea that


sion of an opinion on passing events,

was only the expresto that


'

common

easy

and familiar personal intercourse, which tends so usefully to the


maintenance of friendly relations with foreign Governments.'

Lady Russell wrote down


of this
crisis

at the

time her

own

impressions

in

her husband's Cabinet, and the following


a valuable sidelight on a memorable inci:

passage throws

dent in the Queen's reign

'The breach between John


to the country, to the
it

and Lord Palmerston was a calamity

Whig

party,

and

to themselves

and, although

had

for

some months been a threatening danger on the


cannot but
rence.
feel that there

horizon, I

was accident
or at

in its actual occur-

Had we

been

in

London

Pembroke Lodge,
would have met,
;

and not at Woburn Abbey,

at the time, they

and talked over the subject of their difference


cutting than words written,

words spoken
less

might have been equally strong, but would have been

and

conciliatory expressions

on

John's part would have led the way to promises on Lord


Palmerston's.
.
. .

They two kept up the

character of England,

as the sturdy guardians of her rights against other nations,

and the champions of freedom and independence abroad.

82

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


so both before

They did

and after the breach of 185 1, which

was, happily, closed in the following year,

when they were

once more colleagues

in office.

On

matters of

home policy
in

Lord Palmerston remained the Tory he had been


earlier days,

his

and

this

was the cause of many a


the

trial

to John.'

The
of

Russell

Administration, as
seriously
its

Premier himself

frankly recognised, was

weakened by the dismissal

Lord Palmerston; and

position was not improved

when

Lord Clarendon, on somewhat


offer of the

paltry grounds, refused the

Foreign Office. Lord John's sagacity was shown by the prompt


vacant appointment to Lord Granville, who, at

the age of thirty-six, entered the Cabinet, and began a career

which was destined to prove a controlling force


foreign policy of

in the

England

in the Victorian era.

Meanwhile
of 1850

fresh difficulties

had

arisen.

Li the autumn

year which had already been rendered

memo-

rable in ecclesiastical circles

by the Gorham case

Pius

IX. issued a Bull by which England became a province


of the

Roman

Catholic Church.

Dr.

Wiseman was
titles.

created

Cardinal Archbishop

of Westminster,

and England was

divided into twelve sees with territorial


tion

The assumpEngland was a

by Pius IX. of
;

spiritual authority over

blunder

indeed, no better proof in recent times of the lack


at

of infallibility

Rome

could well be discovered.

One

swallow, proverbially, does not

make

a spring

and when

Newman
ample.

took refuge in

flight,

other leaders of the Oxford

Movement

refused to accept his logic and to follow his exin the

Englishmen have always resented anything

shape of foreign dictation, and deep in the national heart


there yet survives a rooted hostility to the claims of the

Vatican.

Napoleon's Coup d'Etat, which followed quickly


this

on the heels of

dramatic act of Papal aggression,

ROME AND OXFORD


scarcely took the nation

83

more completely by surprise. No Vatican decree could well have proved more unpopular, and even Canon Liddon is obliged to admit that the bishops,
with one solitary exception,
rity
'

threw the weight of their authopassion.'


^

on the side of popular and short-sighted


Pius IX.

knew nothing
least,

of the English character, but

Cardinal Wiseman, at
real issues at stake
;

could not plead ignorance of the


his grandiloquent and,
letter,

and therefore

under

all

the circumstances, ridiculous pastoral


'

which

he dated

From

out of the Flaminian Gate at Rome,' was

justly regarded as

an

insult to the religious convictions of

the vast majority of the English people.

Anglicans and

Nonconformists alike resented such an authoritative deliverance,

and presently the old

'

No

Popery

'

cry rang like a

clarion through the land.


pervert,

Dr.

Newman, with

the zeal of a

preached a sermon on the revival of the Catholic


it

Church, and in the course of


England, who
the See of

he stated that the people of


'

for so. many years

have been separated from

Rome, are about, of their own will, to be added to the Holy Church.' The words were, doubtless, spoken in good faith, for the great leader of the Oxford Movement naturally expected that those who had espoused his views, hke
honest men, would follow his example.
Dr. Pusey, however,

was a more astute

ecclesiastical statesman than Cardinal Wise'

man.

He

was

in favour of a

very moderate

'

declaration

against Rome, for the resources of


in his eyes not exhausted.

compromise were evidently

The

truth was, Pusey

and Keble,

by a course of action which


riddle to the

to this

day remains a standing


to Protestantism

Papacy on the one hand, and

on the other, threw dust in the eyes of Pius IX., and were
'

Life of E. B. Ptisey,

D.D., by H.

P.

Liddon, D.D.,

vol.

iii.

p. 292.

Longmans & Co.

l84

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Lord John Russell
such an assertion
it is

the real authors of Papal aggression.

saw

this quite clearly,

and

in proof of

only necessary to appeal to his famous

Durham

Letter.

He

had watched the

drift

of ecclesiastical opinion,

and had seen

with concern that the tide was running swiftly in the direction of

Rome.
for the

England had renounced the Papal supremacy


which had followed the downfall of such thraldom.

space of 300 years, and had grown strong in the liberty

Oxford

had taught

Rome

to

tempt England

the leaders of the

so-called Anglican revival were responsible for the flourish

of trumpets at

the

Vatican.

Lord John's
criticism.

ecclesiastical

appointments called forth sharp


testant

He

was a Pro-

of the

old

uncompromising

type,

with leanings

towards advanced thought in Biblical criticism.


moreover, what
nation in the
of his

He
the

knew,

Puritanism had

done

for

English
secret

seventeenth century, and


it

made no

conviction that
class,

was the Nonconformists, more

than any other


liberty possible.

who had rendered civil and religious He moreover knew that in his own time
part of the

they,

more than any other


Reform
Bill,

community, had

carried the
slavery,

brought about the abolition of

and established Free Trade.


nation at large,
rigid
is

He

had been brought


to per-

into contact with their leaders,


ceive, with the

and was beginning

how

paltry

and inadequate
of spiritual

were the claims of a


apostolical succession

Churchmanship, since the true


of altitude

a matter
its

devotion, and borrows none of


of clerical caste.

rights

from the pretensions

The Durham on November 4,

Letter was written from


1850.
It

gained

its

Downing Street, name because it was

addressed to the Premier's old friend Dr. Maltby, Bishop of


THE DURHAM LETTER
Durham, and appeared
which
it

185

in the

newspapers on the day on


that he

was dated.

Lord John declared


all civil rights,

had not
claims of
it

only promoted to the utmost of his power the

Roman
merely

Catholics to
just,

but had

deemed

not

but desirable, that that Church should impart


'

religious instruction to the

numerous

Irish

immigrants in

London and
been
left

elsewhere, who, without such help, would have

in

heathen ignorance.'

He

believed that this

might have been accomplished without any such innovation


as that which the

Papacy now contemplated.


in all the

He laid stress
documents on

on the assumption of power made


the subject

which had come from Rome, and he protested

against such pretensions as inconsistent with the Queen's

supremacy, with the rights of the bishops and clergy, and with
the spiritual independence of the nation.
that his alarm

He

confessed

was not equal

to his indignation, since English-

men would
to

never again allow any foreign prince or potentate


their

impose a yoke on

minds and consciences.

He

hinted at legislative action on the subject, and then pro-

ceeded to take up

his parable against the Tractarians in the


'
:

following unmistakeable terms

There

is

a danger, however,

which alarms
sovereign.

me much more

than the aggression of a foreign

Clergymen of our Church who have subscribed the

Thirty-nine Articles and have acknowledged in explicit terms


the Queen's supremacy, have been the most forward in leading their flocks, step by step, to the verge of the precipice.

The honour

paid to

saints, the

claim of

infallibility for

the

Church, the superstitious use of the sign of the Cross, the


muttering of the Liturgy so as to disguise the language in

which
fession,
all

it

was

written, the

recommendation of auricular con-

and the administration of penance and absolution

these things are pointed out by clergymen as worthy of

86

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


now openly reprehended by
the Bishop of

adoption, and are

London
then,
is

in his

Charge

to the clergy of his diocese.

What,
from the
I

the danger to be apprehended from a foreign prince of


to the danger within the gates

no power, compared
but

unworthy sons of the Church of England herself?


little

have

hope that the propounders and framers of these


;

innovations will desist from their insidious course


rely with confidence

but I
I will

on the people of England, and


life

not bate a jot of heart or


ples

so long as the glorious princishall

and the immortal martyrs of the Reformation

be

held in reverence by the reat mass of a nation, which

look with contempt on the

mummeries

of superstition, and

with scorn at the laborious endeavours which are

now being
All over

made
the

to confine the intellect

and enslave the

soul.'

Lord John's manifesto was


for a national carnival

as fuel to the flames.


in progress at the

kingdom preparations were

moment

now

fallen largely into disrepute.

Guy Fawkes was hastily dethroned, and the Pope and Cardinal Wiseman were paraded in efiigy through the
streets of

London, Exeter, and other


jeers of the crowd.

cities,

and burnt

at

nightfall

amid the

Petitions began to

pour

in against

Papal aggression, and the literature of the

subject, in controversial tract, pamphlet,

and volume, grew

suddenly not
rival in

less

bewildering than formidable.

The
helped

ar-

London

of Father Gavazzi, an ex-priest of comoratory,


to

manding presence and impassioned


arouse
Press,
still

further the Protestant spirit of the nation.

The

the pulpit, the

platform, formed a

triple

alliance

against the Vatican,

and the indignant


said to

rejection

of the

Pope's claims
tion.

may be

have been carried by acclamaits

Clamour ran
in

riot

through the land, and spent

force

noisy

demonstrations.

The

Catholics

met the

'

NO popery'

187

tumult, on the whole, with praiseworthy moderation, and


presently signs of the inevitable reaction began to appear.

Lord John's colleagues were not of one mind as to the wisdom of the Durham Letter, for if there is one taunt before which an ordinary Englishman quails, it is the accusation of religious bigotry.

The Durham

Letter was an instance in which

Lord John's

zeal outran his discretion.^

Lord Shaftesbury, who was in the thick of the tumult, and has left a vivid description
of
it

in

his
in

journal, ^ declared
spite

that

Cardinal Wiseman's
to

manifesto,
'

of

its

audacity, was likely

prove

more

hurtful to the shooter than to the target.'

Looking

back

at the crisis, after

an interval of more than

forty years,

the same criticism seems to apply with added force to the

Durham
attack,

Letter.

Lord John overshot the mark, and

his

accusations

wounded those whom he did not intend to and in the recoil of public opinion his own repur

tation

suffered.

He

resented,

with pardonable warmth,

the

attitude

of

the Vatican,
that
in her

and

was

jealous
quarter,

of any
of

infringement,

from

or

any other
realms.

the

Queen's supremacy
ging

sentences in the

own Durham

The most damadirected


or Ireland,

Letter were not

against the Catholics, either in

Rome, England,
clergymen

but

against
'

the

Tractarian

men

whom

he

regarded as

unworthy sons of the Church of England.'

The

Catholics, incensed at the denial of the Pope's suprein

macy, were, however,

no mood

to

make
on

distinctions,

and they have interpreted Lord John's


Pusey and
'

strictures

on Dr.
reli-

his

followers as an attack
it

their

own

Cobden described

as

'

Guy Fawkes

outcry,'

and predicted the

fall

of the Ministry.
^

See Life and Work of the Seve^tth Earl of Shaftesbury, by Edwin Hodder, pp. 429-435.

l88
gious
faith.

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


The consequence was
especially
in

that the manifesto

was

regarded,

Ireland,

not merely as a protest

against the politics of the Vatican, but as a sweeping censure

on the creed of Rome.


services

Lord John's character and past

might have shielded him from such a construction

being placed upon his words, for he had proved, on more

than one historic occasion, his devotion to the cause of


gious liberty.
said
:

reli-

Disraeli, writing to his sister in


is

November,
understand

'

think John Russell

in

a scrape.

that his party are furious with him.


If

he goes on with the Protestant


;

The Irish are frantic. movement he will be thrown


come
to us.

over by the Papists

if

he

shuffles with the Protestants, their

blood
I

is

too high to be silent now, and they will


is

think Johnny

checkmated.'

For the moment, however, passion and prejudice everywhere ran


riot,

and on both

sides
fairness

of

the

controversy

common
failed

sense and

common

were forgotten.

representative Irish politician of a later generation has not


to

observe the irony of the position.


history,'

'

It

was a

curious incident in political

declares Mr. Justin

McCarthy, 'that Lord John Russell, who had more than


any Englishman then
living

been

identified with the princisat at the feet of

ples of religious liberty,

who had

Fox, and

had

for his closest friend the Catholic poet

Thomas Moore,
^

came

to

be regarded by

Roman

Catholics as the bitterest


It is

enemy

of their creed and their rights of worship.'

easy to cavil at Lord John Russell's interpretation of the

Oxford Movement, and to assert that the accusations of the

Durham
'

Letter were due to bigotry

and panic.

He

believed,

p. 249.
-

Lord BeaconsfielcTs CorrespoJidence ivith his Sister (1832- 1852), London John Murray. History of Our Ow7t Times, by Justin McCarthy, M.P. vol. ii:

pp. 85, 86.

UNDER WHICH FLAG?


in

189

common

with thousands of other distressed Churchmen,

that the Tractarians were foes within the gates of the Estab-

lishment.

He

regarded them, moreover, as ministers of reUthe

who were hostile to therefore he deemed that


gion

work of the Reformation, and

they were in a false position in the


rites,

Anglican Church.
their obvious

Their priestly claims and sacerdotal

sympathies and avowed convictions, separated


difficult to

them sharply from ordinary clergymen, and were


Like many other

reconcile with adherence to the principles of Protestantism.

men

at the time,

and

still

more of

to-day,

he was

at a loss to discover

how

ecclesiastics of

such a stamp

could remain in the ministry of the Church of England,

when they seemed to ordinary eyes to be in league with Rome. The prelates, almost to a man, were hotly opposed to the Tractarians when Lord John wrote the Durham Letter. They shared his convictions and applauded his action. Since then many things have happened. The Oxford Movement has triumphed, and has done so largely
by the
self-sacrificing

devotion of

its

adherents.

It

has
;

summoned
it

to

its

aid art

and music, learning and eloquence

has appealed to the aesthetic and emotional elements in


nature
;

human
by
it

it

has led captive the imagination of

many
;

its

dramatic revival of mediaeval ideas and methods


stilled

and

has

by

its

assumption of authority the restlessness

of souls, too weary to argue, too troubled to rebel.

The
when

bishops of to-day have grown either quite friendly towards the

Oxford Movement, or
all this
is

else discreetly tolerant.

Yet,

admitted,

it

does nothing towards proving that

Lord John Russell was a mistaken alarmist. Letter and its impassioned protest have been
logic of events.
It
is

The Durham
justified

by the

easy for

men

to

be charitable who

have slipped

their convictions.

I90
Possibly
it

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


was not judicious on Lord John's part
to

be

so zealously affected in the matter.


to dispute, but the question

That
;

is,

perhaps, open

remains

Was he

mistaken

in

principle

He

saw clergymen of the English Church, Proname,


'

testant at least in

leading their flocks step by step to

the very verge of the precipice,'


against them,

and he took up

his parable

and pointed out the danger

to the hitherto

accepted

faith

and practice of the English Church.

One

of
in

the most distinguished prelates of the

AngUcan Church

the Queen's reign has not hesitated to assert that the tenets
against which

Lord John Russell protested in the Durham Letter were, in his judgment, of a kind which are destructive of all reasonable faith, and reduce worship to a mere
'

belief in spells

and

priestcraft.'

Cardinal Vaughan,

it

is

needless to say, does not sympathise with such a view.

He,

however, has opinions on the subject which are worthy of


the attention of those
alarmist.

who

think that Lord John was a mere


at

His Eminence delivered a suggestive address


lo,

Preston on September

1894,

on the 'Re-Union of
idle to

Christendom.'

He thinks and it is

deny that he has

good ground for thinking and


legislature,

that, in spite

of bishops, lawyers,

Delphic judgments at Lambeth, and spas-

modic
trine

protests

up and down the country, a change

in doc-

and

ritual is in progress in the

Anglican Church which

can only be described as a revolution.


'

He

asserts that the

Real Presence, the

sacrifice of the

Mass, offered for the

living

and the dead, no infrequent reservation of the Sacrament, regular auricular confession. Extreme Unction, Purgatory, prayers for the dead, devotions to Our Lady, to her

Immaculate Conception, the use of her Rosary, and the invocation of saints, are doctrines taught and accepted, with a
growing desire and
relish for

them, in the Church of England.'

THE

GIST OF

THE WHOLE MATTER

I9I

Cardinal Vaughan also declares that the present churches


of the Establishment are
'

often distinguishable only with

extreme

difficulty

from those belonging to the Church of


either true or false.
;

Rome.'
they are

Such statements are


open
to

If false,

contradiction

if

true,

they justify in

substance the position taken up in the

Durham
told

Letter.

Towards the
tained
in

close of his

life,

Lord John
and

Mr. Lecky
he main-

that he did not regret his action, that

to the last

he was

right in

the protest which he

made
he

the

Durham

Letter.

Yet he acknowledged, as

looked back upon the


certain expressions in

affair,
it

that he might have softened

with advantage.

Parliament met

on February

4,

185 1, and the Queen's Speech contained


'
:

the following passage

The

recent assumption of certain

ecclesiastical titles conferred

by a foreign Power has ex;

cited strong feelings in this country

and

large bodies of

my

subjects have
to the

presented addresses to

me

expressing

attachment

Throne, and praying that such assumptions


I

should be resisted.

have assured them of

my

resolution

to maintain the rights of

my

crown and the independence

of the nation against


quarter they

all

encroachments, from whatsoever

may

proceed.'

Three days
Titles Bill.
torial titles

later.

Lord John introduced the

Ecclesiastical
terri-

The measure prohibited the assumption of


by

Roman Catholic bishops

but there

is

truth in

the assertion that no enactment of the kind could prevent other

persons from giving the dignitaries of the Catholic Church such


titles,

and, as a matter of

fact,

the attempt to deprive

them of

the distinction led to its ostentatious adoption.


to render null and void
gifts or religious

The proposal

endowments acquired
in the course of the

by the new prelates was abandoned


acrimonious

debates which followed.

Other

difficulties

192
arose,

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


and Ireland was declared
to

be exempt from the


bill,

operation of the measure.

The

object of the
to assert the

declared

Lord John
the Crown.

Russell,

was merely

supremacy of

Nothing was further from his thought than to

play the part of a religious persecutor.

He

merely wished to

draw a sharp and unmistakeable


the spiritual jurisdiction of the

line of

demarcation between

Pope over the adherents of

the

Roman

Catholic Church in the Queen's realms, and

such an act of Papal aggression as was involved in the claim


of Pius IX. to grant ecclesiastical
in the
titles

borrowed from places

United Kingdom.
bill

The

satisfied

neither
It

the friends nor the foes of

Roman

Catholicism.

was persistently regarded by the

one as an attack on

religious liberty,

and by the other as


Nevertheof 1851,

quite inadequate as a bulwark of Protestantism.


less
it

became

law, but not before the

summer
It
it

when

the agitation

had spent
from the

its
first,

force.

was regarded

almost as a dead

letter

and, though
its

remained

on the Statute-book

for

twenty years,
it

repeal was a fore1

gone conclusion.

When

was revoked

in 187

the temper

of the nation had changed, and no one was inclined to

make
more
joke,

even a passing protest.

John Leech,

in a

cartoon in Punchy

caught the droll aspect of the situation with even


than his customary
skill.

Lord John rehshed the


it

even though he recognised that


of service to

was not

likely to

prove

him

at

the next General Election.


'
:

In con-

versation with a

friend he said
I

Do

you remember a
little

cartoon in
writing

Punch where

was represented as a
a
wall

boy
?

"

No

Popery
a

"

on

and running away


'

The answer was


'

smile

of assent.

Well,'

he added,
a great deal

that

was very severe, and did

my Government
it

of harm, but I was so convinced that

was not maliciously

A MINISTERIAL
meant
for his
is

CRISIS

I93
I

that I sent for

John Leech, and asked him what


I

could do for him.

He said that
patronage.'

he should like a nomination


gave
it

son to the Charterhouse, and


I

to him.

That

how

used

my

Meanwhile, when the Ecclesiastical Titles

Bill

was

still

under discussion, a Ministerial

crisis

had

arisen.

Finance

was never the strong point of the


tion,

first

Russell Administra-

and

Sir Charles

satisfaction.

Wood's Budget gave widespread disMr. Locke King heightened the embarrassfor
;

ment of the moment by bringing forward a motion

placing the county and borough franchise on an equal basis

and before the discussion of the Budget could be renewed this motion was carried against the Government, though in
a small House, by a majority of almost two to one.

Lord
;

John Russell met the hostile vote by immediate resignation and Lord Stanley who four months later became Earl ot

Derby

was summoned to Windsor and attempted


His
efforts were,

to

form

a Ministry.

however,

unsuccessful, for

Peel had
full

left

the Tory party not merely disorganised but

of warring elements.

office in

Lord John, therefore, returned to March, and Locke King's measure was promptly

thrown out by a majority of more than two hundred.

The

London season

of that year was rendered

memorable by the

opening of the Great Exhibition, amid universal plaudits and

dreams of long-continued peace amongst the nations.


the Coup cfEtat in France brought about, as
seen,
his

As

the year closed Lord Palmerston's ill-advised action over

we have already
still

dismissal,

circumstance

which

further

weakened the Russell Cabinet.

The year 1852 opened darkly for Lord John.


been called
to

Difficulties,

small and great, seemed thickening around him.

He

had

power

at a singularly trying

moment, and

194

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


at

no one who looks dispassionately


pursued between the years

the policy which he

1846

and

1852

can

fail

to

recognise that he had at least tried to do his duty.


is

There
reply

touch of pathos in the harassed


letter

statesman's

to a

of congratulation which reached

him on the
it

threshold of the

new

year from a near relative, and


it

is

worthy of quotation, since

reveals the attitude of the

man
is

on

far greater

questions than those with which he was beset


:

at the

moment

'

cannot say that the new year


Political

happy one to me.

troubles

are

too thick for


all

my weak
When

sight to penetrate them, but


will

we

rest in

the
^

mercy of God, who


opportunity came.
aggression

dispose of us as
in

He

thinks best.'

Parliament met

February,

Lord Palmerston's

On

the heels of the panic about Papal


as to the policy which
this country.

came widespread alarm


grew strong
in

Napoleon IIL might pursue towards


fear

The

of invasion

the land, and

patriotic

fervour restlessly clamoured for

prompt

legislative

action.

Forty years ago, in every town and village of England there

were people

who could speak from

personal knowledge confirst

cerning the reign of terror which the

Napoleon, by his

conquering march over Europe and his threatened descent

on the English
suddenly revived.

shores,

had

established, and, as a conse-

quence, though with diminished force, the old consternation

Lord John Russell had no more real fear of Napoleon than he had of the Pope, but he rose to the occasion and
brought before Parliament a measure
of the local Militia.
national enthusiasm
for the reorganisation

He
at

believed that such a force, with

its

back,

was

sufficient

to

repel

invasion
'

contingency which, in

common

with other reii

Life of LoTci John Russell, by Spencer Walpole, vol.

p.

143.

palmerston's

'

tit-for-tat

'

195

sponsible statesmen, he did not regard as more than remote.

Lord Palmerston, however, posing


of the nation,

as

the

candid friend

and

the

exceptionally

well-informed ex-

Foreign Minister, professed to see rocks ahead, and there

were
land,

at

all

events for the Russell Administration.

In Engis

any appeal to the Jingo instincts of the populace

certain to

meet with a more or

less hysterical

welcome, and
fact.

Palmerston more than once took advantage of the

He
Bill,

expressed his dissatisfaction with Lord John's Militia

and by a majority of eleven


Lord John met the
result, his real

carried an

amendment

to

it.

hostile demonstration

by resignation,

and, though Palmerston professed to be surprised at such a

opinion leaps to light in the historic sentence


his brother

which he wrote to

on February 24
I

'I

have had

my

tit-for-tat
last.'

with John Russell, and

turned him out on

Friday

One

hitherto

unpublished reminiscence of
it

that crisis deserves to be recorded, especially as

throws
: '

into passing relief

remember,' states
secretary, the

Lord John's generosity of temper I his brother-in-law and at one time private
Elliot,

Hon. George
after

'being indignant with

Lord Palmerston,
1852

he had been dismissed by Lord John,

bringing forward a verbal

amendment on
the

the Militia Bill in


over-

a mere pretext by which


and
said, " It's all fair.

Government was
at all

thrown.
feelings,

But Lord John would not

enter into

my

I dealt

him a blow, and he

has given

me

one

in return."

'

Lord John's interest in the question of Parliamentary Reform was life-long. It was one of the subjects on which
his views

were in complete divergence with those of Lord


Just before the 'tit-for-tat'

Palmerston.

amendment, the

Premier brought forward a new scheme on the subject which

he had reluctantly waived

in

1849 i" deference to the wishes

02

196

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


who
then regarded such a

of the majority of his colleagues,

proposal as premature.

At the beginning of 1852 Lord

John had overcome such obstacles, and he accordingly introduced his new Reform Bill, as if anxious to wipe out
before his retirement from office the reproach which the sobriquet of
'

Finality Jack

'

had unjustly

cast

upon him.

He

proposed to extend the suffrage by reducing the county

qualification to 20/.,

and the borough

to

5/.,

and by granting

the franchise to persons paying forty shillings yearly in direct


taxation.

He

also proposed to abolish the property qualifi-

cation of English

and

Irish

members of

Parliament, and to
less

extend the boundaries of boroughs having


electors.

than 500

Lord Palmerston's

hostile action of course

com-

pelled the

abandonment of

this

measure, and

it is

worthy of

passing remark that, on the night before his defeat. Lord

John made a chivalrous and splendid defence of Lord Clarendon, in answer to an attack, not merely on the policy,
but on the personal character of the Viceroy of Ireland.

Sudden

as the

fall

of the Russell Administration was,

it

can hardly be described as unexpected, and

many

causes,

most of which have already been indicated in these pages, Albany Fonblanque, one of contributed to bring it about.
the shrewdest contemporary observers of

ments, gathered the political gossip of the


in a

men and movemoment together


tumult

paragraph which

sets forth in graphic fashion the


'

of opinion in the spring of 1852.


fallen,

Lord John Russell has


is

and
;

all

are agreed that he

greatly to

blame

for

falling

men agree about the immediate " It was the Durham Letter," says one. cause of his fall. " Not a jot," replies another " the Durham Letter was quite
but hardly any two
;

right,

and would have strengthened him prodigiously

if it
:

had been followed up by a vigorous anti-Papal measure

it

'

A CONFLICT OF OPINION
was the paltry
bill

197
Ecclesiastical
in

that destroyed him."

"

The

Titles Bill," interposes a third, " did just

enough
in the

doing
that

next to nothing

no,

it

was the house tax


tax

Budget

did the mischief."

"

The house

might have been got


tax,

over," puts in another,

"but the proposal of the income

with
"
is

all

its

injustices unmitigated,

doomed Lord John."


income tax
it
;

Not a

whit," rejoins a Radical reformer, " the

popular, especially with people

who

don't pay

Lord

John's opposition to Locke King's motion sealed his fate."


"

Locke King's
Stress has

division

was a

flea-bite," cries a

staunch Pro-

testant, " the

Pope has done


been

it all."

laid in these

pages on the attempts of

the Russell Administration to deal with an acute and terrible

phase of the eternal Irish problem, as well as to


outline the difficulties which
it

set forth in
its

encountered in regard to

foreign policy through the cavalier attitude

and bid

for per-

sonal ascendency of Lord Palmerston.

The

five or six years


affairs

during which Lord John Russell was at the head of

were marked by a succession of panics which heightened im-

measurably the

difficulties
it

of his position.

One was

purely

commercial, but

threw gloom over the country, brought

stagnation to trade,
train,

and

political discontent followed in its

which

in turn reacted

on the prospects of the Governrebellion

ment.
in
its

The

Irish famine

and the

which followed
to the utmost,

wake taxed the resources of the Cabinet


efforts

and the

which were made by the Ministry to grapple


agitation over the Papal claims

with the evil have scarcely received even yet due recognition.

The

Chartist

movement, the

and the

fear of invasion,

are landmarks in the turbulent


time.

and menacing annals of the

The

repeal of the Navigation

Act bore witness

to

Lord

John's zealous determination to extend the principles of Free

198

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

Trade, and the Jewish Disabilities Bill

which was

rejected

by the House of Lords

is itself

a sufficient answer to those


spiritual claims,

who, because of his resistance, not to the

but

to the political arrogance of the Vatican,

have ventured to

charge him with a lack of religious toleration.

He

himself

once declared that as a statesman he had received as


favour as

much
his
failure

he had deserved

he added

that,

where

measures had miscarried, he did not attribute the


to

animosity or

misrepresentation,

but rather to errors

which he had himself committed from mistaken judgment


or an erroneous interpretation of facts.
at

No

one who looks

Lord John

Russell's career with simple justice, to say


'

nothing of generosity, can doubt the truth of his words.


believe, I

may

say, that

looked to the happiness

my ends have of my country

been honest.

have

as the object to which

my

efforts

ought to be directed.'

199

CHAPTER
1852-1853

IX

COALITION BUT NOT UNION

The Aberdeen Ministry


Russell's criticism of

Warring elements Mr. Gladstone's position Lord John at the Foreign Office and Leader of the House Ladythe East

Lord Shaftesbury has his doubts


no need

Lord Macaulay's statement A small cloud

in

There
months,
fruitful.

is

to linger over the history of the next few

for in a poHtical

sense they were barren and un-

The
Its

first

ments of strength,
Cabinet.
ous.

Derby Administration possessed no eleand quickly proved a mere stop-gap

tenure of power was not only brief but ingloriMinisters took office in February, and they

The new

left it in

December.

Lord Palmerston may be

said to have

given them their chance, and Mr. Gladstone gave them their
coup de grace.

The Derby
and

Administration was

summoned
amend-

into existence because

Lord Palmerston
it

carried his

ment on the

Militia Bill,

refused to lag superfluous on

the stage after

the

crushing defeat which followed Mr.

Gladstone's brilliant attack on the Budget of Mr. Disraeli.

The

chief legislative achievement of this short-lived Govern-

ment was an extension of the Bribery


Russell had introduced in 184 1.

Act, which

Lord John

A measure was

now passed
affairs

providing for a searching investigation of corrupt practices

by commissioners appointed by the Crown.

The

of

New

Zealand were also placed on a sound

political basis.

200

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


in the

General Election occurred

summer, but before the

new Parliament met in the autumn the nation was called to mourn the death of the Duke of Wellington. The old soldier had won the crowning victory of Waterloo four years
before the Queen's birth, and yet he survived long enough
to grace with his presence the opening

ceremony of the

Great Exhibition

that

magnificent triumph of the arts of

peace which was held in London in the summer of 1851.

The remarkable
soldier,

personal ascendency which the

Duke

of

Wellington achieved because of his splendid record as a

though backed by high personal character, was not


liberty or progress

thrown on the side of either

when

the

hero transferred his services from the

camp

to the cabinet.
rival,

As

a soldier, Wellington shone without a

but as a

statesman he was an obstinate reactionary.


solitary claim to political regard
is

Perhaps his

that he,

more than any

other man, wrung from the weak hands of George IV. a


reluctant consent to Catholic Emancipation

a concession
and one which
through

which could no longer be refused with

safety,

had been delayed


rigid

for the lifetime of a generation

adherence in high places to antiquated prejudices and

unreasoning alarm.

The

strength of parties in the

new Parliament proved

to

be nearly evenly balanced.


in a majority of sixteen, forty Peelites
if

Indeed, the Liberals were only


the small but compact phalanx of

be

left for

the

moment

out of the reckoning.

The

Conservatives had, in truth, gained ground in the

country through the reverses of one kind and another which

had overtaken

their opponents.

Lord Palmerston, always


Lord John had given

fond, to borrow his

own

phrase, of striking from his

bat, declared in airy fashion that

own him

with

dismissal

independence,

and,

though Lord Derby

'

DISRAELI'S POSITION
offered

201

him a

seat in his Cabinet,


it.

he was too shrewd and

far-seeing a statesman to accept

The

Liberal party was

divided about Lord Palmerston, and that fact led to vacillation at the polHng booths.

Ardent Protestants were disap-

pointed that the

Durham

Letter

had been followed by what

they regarded as weak and insufficient legislative action,


whilst

some of the phrases of

that outspoken manifesto

still

rankled in the minds of ardent High Churchmen.

The

old

Conservative party had been smashed by Peel's adoption of

Free Trade, and the new Conservative party which was


struggling into existence
still

looked askance

at the preten-

sions of Mr. Disraeli, who, thanks to his

own

ability

and

to

the persistent advocacy of his claims in earlier years by his

now departed friend, Lord George


in the saddle,

Bentinck, was

fairly

seated

and inclined

to use

both whip and spurs.

In the autobiography recently published of the late Sir

William Gregory

a vivid description will be found of the


'

way

in

which the aristocracy and the squires

kicked at the
;

supremacy of one

whom

they looked at as a mountebank

and on the same page


that
it

will

be found the remarkable assertion


Disraeli's claim

was nothing but Mr.

to lead

the

Conservative party which prevented


joining
it

Mr.

Gladstone from
in

in

1852.^

Disraeli's

borrowed heroics
of

his

pompous

oration in the

House

Commons on
his

the occa-

sion of the death of Wellington,

and

errors in tactics

Sir William Gregory,

K.CM.G. : an
this

Autobiography, edited by
that
interesting

Lady Gregory, pp. 92, 93. 2 Mr. Gladstone's comment on


as

statement

is

it is

coming from an acute contemporary observer. At the same time it Mr. Gladstone adds that expresses an opinion and presents no facts. he is not aware that the question of re-union with the Conservative party was ever presented to him in such a way as to embrace the relations to Mr. Disraeli.

202
and
taste

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


as leader of the
that,

House, heightened the preif

vaiUng impression

even

the result of the

General

Election had been different, the Derby Administration was

doomed
events,

to failure.

All through the

autumn

the quidnuncs

at the clubs

were busy predicting the probable course of


less

and more or

absurd rumours ran round the town

concerning the statesmen

who were

likely to

succeed to
choice in
for

power

in

the event of Derby's resignation.

The

reality lay

between Russell, Palmerston, and Aberdeen,


of health,

Lansdowne was out


question.

and therefore out of the


what she

As
calls

in a mirror

Lady

Russell's journal reflects


at

the alarm in the

Whig camp
of the Derby

the rumour of the


if

intended resignation

Cabinet

Disraeli's

financial proposals were defeated,

and the hurried consulta-

tions

which followed between Lord Lansdowne, Lord Aber-

deen, and Lord John, Sir James Graham, Mr. Cobden, and

Mr. Bright.

Two

days before the division which overthrew

the Government on

December

17,

Lord John was

at

Woburn,

and

his

course

Duke of Bedford, asked him what he thought the Queen should adopt in case the
brother,

the

Ministry was beaten.

He

replied that her Majesty, under

such circumstances, ought to send for Lord Lansdowne and

Lord Aberdeen.

This was the course which the Queen


ill,

adopted, but Lord Lansdowne, old and

felt

powerless to

respond to the summons.


certainly possessed

Meanwhile, Lord John, who

the strongest
at

claims a circumstance

which was recognised

the time by Mr. Gladstone

had

determined from a sense of public duty not to press them,


for

he recognised that neither Palmerston nor the


for the

Peelites,

who,

moment,

in the nice

balance of parties, com-

manded

the situation, would serve under him.

He

had led

LORD ABERDEEN
the Liberal forces for a long term of years, both in power
in

203
and

opposition,

and neither

his devotion

nor his ability was

open

to question, in spite of the offence

which he had given,

on the one hand

to a powerful colleague,

and on the other

to powerful interests.

Lord Aberdeen was regarded by the followers of Peel as


their leader.

He

was a favourite

at Court,

and a statesman

of established reputation of the doctrinaire type, but he

was not a

man who

ever excited, or probably was capable

of exciting, popular enthusiasm.


raeli's

On

the day after Dis-

defeat

Lord Aberdeen met Lord John by chance


latter,

in the Park,

and the

waiving personal ambition, told


for the

him

that,

though he could say nothing decisive


office

moment, he thought he should accept

under him.
to

On

the

morrow Lord Aberdeen was summoned

Osborne,

and accepted the task of forming an Administration.


day her Majesty wrote to Lord John announcing the

Next
fact,

and the letter ended with

the

following passage

'The

Queen
sincere

thinks the

moment

to

have arrived when a popular,

efficient,

and durable Government could be formed by the


efforts of all professing

and united

Conservative and
that this can only

Liberal opinions.

The Queen, knowing

be effected by the patriotic

sacrifice of personal interests

and
will,

feelings to the pubhc, trusts that

as far as he

is

able, give his

Lord John Russell valuable and powerful


This communi-

assistance to the realisation of this object.'

cation found

Lord John halting between two opinions.

Palmerston had declined to serve under him, and he might,


with even greater propriety, in his turn have refused to serve

under Aberdeen,

His own health, which was never strong,


strain of office in years

had suffered through the long

which
just

had been marked by famine and

rebellion.

He

had

204
begun

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


to revel, to quote his

own words,

in

'

all

the delights

of freedom from red boxes, with the privilege of fresh air

and mountain

prospects.'

He
Journal
in

had already found the recreation of a busy man, and


in

was engrossed
'

the preparation

of the

'

Memoirs and
poet had died

of his friend,

Thomas Moore.
to edit
his

The

February of that year, and Lord John, with characteristic

goodwill,
in

had undertaken

voluminous papers

order to
fact,

help a widow without wounding her pride.

In

aside,
tives

on many grounds he might reasonably have stood and he certainly would have done so if personal mo-

had counted most with him, or if he had been the selfseeker which some of his detractors have imagined. Here
Lord Macaulay comes
Christmas
to our help with a vivid

account of

what he terms an eventful day

one of the dark days before


doubtful.

on

which the possibility of a Coalition Governstill

ment under Aberdeen was


that he went to

Macaulay
20,

states

Lansdowne House, on December


to find
its

on a

hasty

summons

master and Lord John in consul-

tation over the

Queen's

letter.
it.

He
'

was asked

his opinion of

the

document and duly gave

Then Lord John


:

said that

of course he should try to help

Lord Aberdeen

but

There were two ways.

He might

take the lead of the

how ? Comand

mons with

the Foreign Office, or he might refuse


I
it

office,

give his support from the back benches.


to think of this last course,

adjured him not

and

argued

with him during a

quarter of an hour with, I thought, a great flow of thoughts

and words.
nodded,
said.
I

was encouraged by Lord Lansdowne, who

smiled,

and rubbed

his

hands

at

everything I

reminded him that the Duke of WeUington had

taken the Foreign Office after having been at the Treasury,

and

quoted

his

own

pretty speech to the

Duke.

"

You

SHOEBLACK' TO ABERDEEN
that

20$

said.

Lord John,
sense

we could not
all

all

win battles of
the old man's
to
selfish

Waterloo,
patriotism,
interests
;

but that we might


of
duty,

imitate

and

indifference

and

vanities
is

when the public

welfare was con-

cerned

and now

the time for you to

make

a sacrifice

Your
it."

past services and your

He

went away, evidently


said,

name give us a right to expect much impressed by what


to consult others.

had been

and promising

When
only

he was gone, Lord Lansdowne told

me

that I

had come just


^

as opportunely as Bliicher did at Waterloo.'


right to state that
this

It is

Lady Russell demurs

to

some

parts of

account of her husband's attitude at the

crisis.

Nothing

could be further from the truth than that Lord John's vacillation

was due to personal motives, or that

his hesitation

arose from his reluctance to take any office short of the

Premiership.

Lady Russell

adds

'this

never

for

one

moment

weighed with him, so that he did not require Lord


to argue

Macaulay or Lord Lansdowne


objection.'
'

him out of the

Lord John's

difficulty

was based upon the

improbability of agreement in a Cabinet so composed, and


Letters written by

therefore the probable evil to the country.'

Lady Russell

at the

moment

to a relative, of too private a

character to quote, give additional weight to this statement.

One homely remark made


cited.

at the

time may, however, be

Lady Russell declared


'

that her

husband would not


'

mind being
the country.

shoeblack to Lord Aberdeen

if it

would serve

The Aberdeen

Ministry

came

into

existence just

as

the year 1852 was ending.

It was, in truth,
art,

a strange bit
as the result

of mosaic work, fashioned with curious


'

Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay, by the Right Hon. Sir George Otto Trevelyan, M.P., vol. ii. p. 340.

206

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Whigs and the
Peelites

of negotiations between the

which
It

had extended over


httle

period of nearly six months.


of expediency, but
it

represented the triumph

awakened

enthusiasm in spite of the much-vaunted abihty and


its

experience of

members.

out on the one side and

Derby and Disraeh were left Cobden and Bright on the other,

a circumstance, however, which did not prevent men comparing the Coalition Government to the short-lived but

famous Ministry of
eyes
It

all

the Talents.

The
evil

nation rubbed

its

and wondered whether good or

saw Peel's lieutenants rowing

Russell.

The vanished
'

leader,

when same boat with however, was responsible for


in store
in

was

the

such a strange turn of the wheel, for everyone recognised


his fleet into the enemy's port.' His followers came to power through the dilemma of the moment and the temporary eclipse of politicians of more

that Sir

Robert had steered

resolute

divided, and with Ireland they were discredited, whilst the Radicals were still

convictions.

The Whigs were

clamouring

at the doors of Downing Street with small chance of admission, in spite of their growing power in the country

The

little

clique of Peelites played their cards adroitly,

and

though they were, to a large extent, a party without followers, they were masters of the situation, and Russell and Palmerston, in consequence,

were the only

personality, outside their

the

Cabinet. Russell became Foreign Secretary, whilst Palmerston took control of the
Office.

chief

seats

in

the

own new

ranks,

men of commanding who were admitted to

Home

So great was the rush


smile informed the

for place that


that, as so

Lord Derby with a


Ministers

Queen

many former

expected a

seat,

he thought that
the

less

than thirty-two could


Tories of the

hardly be the

number of

new Cabinet.

ONE OF
old

life's

little IRONIES

207
Radicals of
in the

school looked on

with amazement, and


All things

the

new with

suspicion.

seemed possible

excitement of parties.
Greville remarks,
'

'Tom
?

Baring said to

me

last night,'

" Can't you


"
I

Coalition
to

Government
"
'

make room for DisraeU in this " Why, will you give him said
:

us

"

Oh

yes,"

he

said,

" you shall have

him with
ruthlessly

pleasure."

Great expectations were, however,

nipped in the bud, and the Cabinet, instead of being unwieldy,

was uncommonly

small, for
start,

it

consisted only of thir-

teen

members

an

unlucky

if

old wives' fables are


Peel's colleagues

to be believed.

Five of Sir Robert


of Newcastle, Sir

the

James Graham, Mr. Sidney Herbert, and Mr. Gladstone represented the modeRussell and rately progressive views of their old leader.
Premier, the

Duke

Palmerston represented the Whigs, but, thanks to one of life's little ironies, the statesman who passed the Reform
Bill

was

installed for the

moment

at the Foreign Office,

and

the Minister
at

who was

a Liberal abroad and a Conservative


nation.
at

home was intrusted with the internal affairs of the The truth was, Lord Palmerston was impossible
Foreign Office
if

the

Lord Aberdeen was at the Treasury, for. the two men were diametrically opposed in regard to the policy which England ought to adopt in her relations with
Europe
in general,

and Russia
was
for

in particular.

In
out

fact,

if

Lord

John

Russell

the

moment

of

the

reckoning as Premier, Lord Palmerston ought unquestionUnfortunately, ably to have had the reversion of power.

though growingly popular


himself unwelcome at
contrary,

in the country,

he had rendered

Court, where Lord Aberdeen, on the


adviser.

had long been a trusted


if it

Even
v^^as

be granted that neither Russell nor Palmerston


it

admissible as leader,

was a palpable blunder to exclude

208

LORD JOHN RUSSfiLL


men
of clean-cut convictions like

from Cabinet rank

Cobden

and and had won


Bright.

They had a

large following in the country,

their spurs in

the Anti-Corn-Law struggle.

They represented the aspirations of the most active section of the Liberal Party, and they also possessed the spell which
eloquence and sincerity never
nation
of
fail to

throw over the imagiworthy,

the

people.

They were not judged

however, and Milner Gibson, in spite of his services as a

member
office
;

of the Russell Cabinet, was also debarred from


whilst

Mr.

Charles

Villiers,

whose

social

claims

could not be entirely overlooked, found his not inconsiderable services to the people rewarded by subordinate rank.

The view which was taken


is

at

Court of the Aberdeen Ministry

recorded in the

Life of the Prince Consort,'


'

The Queen

regarded the Cabinet as


our

the realisation of the country's and


;
'

own most ardent wishes


'

and
'

in her Majesty's view the

words
ment.
for
it

brilliant

'

and
it

'

strong

described the
it

new Governcir-

Brilliant

might be, but strong


spirit

assuredly was not,

was pervaded by the

of mutual distrust, and

cumstances conspired to accentuate the wide divergence


of

opinion which lurked beneath the

surface harmony.

However such
able to

a union of warring forces might be agreeit

the Queen, the belief that


'

realised the

'most

ardent wishes
Court, for
'

of the nation was not widely held outside the

England,' to borrow Disraeli's familiar but signi-

ficant phrase,

'does not love Coahtions.'


interests

In the Aberdeen
in
office
;

Cabinet, party

were banded together


of unity

but

the

vivifying

influences

of conviction
its

and

common
After
all,

sentiment were absent from


as Sir

deliberations.

Edward Bulwer Lytton


is
'

drily

remarked when

the inevitable crisis arose, there


'

one indisputable element


vol.
ii.

Sir

Theodore Martin's Life of the Prince Consort,

p.

483.

ABERDEEN AS DRIVER
of a Coalition Government, and that

209

should coalesce.'

is that its members As a matter of fact, they not only drifted


'

into war but drifted apart.

It is

a powerful team and will


political

require

good
*

driving,'

was the comment of a shrewd

observer.

There are some odd tempers and queer ways

among
good

them.'

Lord Aberdeen had many virtues, but he was not a driver, and when the horses grew restive and kicked
lost.

over the traces, he lacked nerve, hesitated, and was

Trained

for political life

at the side of Pitt,^ after a distin-

guished career in diplomacy, which


the Courts of Europe, he entered

made him known in all the Cabinet of the Duke of

Wellington in 1828, and afterwards held the post of Secretary for the Colonies in the first Peel Administration of 1834,

and
the

that of Secretary for Foreign Affairs during Sir Robert's

final spell of

power

in the years 1841-46.

He

never sat in

House

of

Commons,

but,

though a Tory peer, he voted

for Catholic
ever,

Emancipation.

He

swiftly fell into line,

howthe

with his party, and recorded his vote against


Bill.

Reform

He
in

never, perhaps, quite


for

understood the

temper of a popular assembly,

he was a shy, reserved


Close

man, sparing

speech and punctilious in manner.

association with

much
him

to

WeUington and Peel had, of course, done shape his outlook on afiairs, and much acquaint-

ance with the etiquette of foreign Courts had insensibly led


to cultivate the habit of formal reserve. as Palmerston,

Born

in the

same year
colleague

the Premier possessed neither

the openness to
;

new

ideas nor the vivacity of his masterful


sixty-eight, unlike

in fact.

Lord Aberdeen at

Lord
Yet,

Palmerston, was an old

man
to the

in

temperament, as well as

conservative, in the sense of one not given to change.


'

Pitt

became guardian

young Lord Haddo

in 1792.

210
it is

LORD JOHN- RUSSELL


only
fair to

add

that,

if

Aberdeen's views of foreign


at all

policy were of a

somewhat stereotyped kind, he was,

events at this period in their careers,

more progressive on
too

home
not to

policy than Palmerston,

who was

much

inclined

move

for the social welfare of the

people before he

was compelled.

The new

Ministry ran well until

it

was hindered by com-

plications in the East.

In the middle of February, a few

days after the meeting of Parliament, Lord John retired from


the Foreign Office,

and led the House through the session


office.

with great
to

ability,

but without taking

It is

important
Office
It

remember

that

he had only accepted the Foreign

under strong pressure, and as a temporary expedient.


however, understood that he was at liberty at any
relinquish the Foreign Office in favour of

was,

moment to
if

Lord Clarendon,

he found the duties too onerous

to discharge in conjunction

with the task of leadership in the


of 1853 was rendered

Commons.
first

The

session

memorable by the display of Mr.


;

Gladstone's

skill in

finance

and the

Budget of the

new Chancellor of
year,

the Exchequer was in every sense in

splendid contrast with the miserable fiasco of the previous

when
flesh

Mr.

Disraeli

was responsible

for

proposals

which, as Sir George Cornewall Lewis said, were of a kind


that

and blood could not had returned, even

stand.

The

trade

of

the country had


of prosperity
Russell, true

revived, and, with tranquility,


to Ireland.

some degree Lord John


brought

to his policy of religious equality,


Bill,

forward the Jewish Disabilities

but the House of Lords,

with equal consistency, threw out the measure.


of Transportation was altered, and a

The Law
Bill

new India

was

passed, which threw open the Civil Service to competition.

Many

financial reforms

were introduced, a new proposal was

THE COALITION GOVERNMENT


made
for a wider extent of

211

elementary education, and

much

legislative activity in a variety of directions

was displayed.

Lord Aberdeen had taken


from a sense of duty.
It

office

under pressure and

had few

attractions for him,

and
its

he looked forward with quiet satisfaction to release from


cares.

Lord Stanmore's authority can be

cited

for the

statement that in the


that the

summer of 1853 his father deemed time had come when he might retire in Lord John
which
was
in

Russell's favour, in accordance with an arrangement

had been made


formed.

general terms

when

the Cabinet

There were members of the Coalition Government


to this step
;

who were opposed

but Lord Aberdeen antici-

pated no serious difficulty in carrying out the proposal.

Suddenly the aspect of

affairs

grew not merely

critical

but

menacing, and the Prime Minister found himself confronted

by complications abroad, from which he


despicable to retreat by the easy
nation.

felt

it

would be
resigis

method of personal

There

is

not the slightest occasion, nor, indeed,

this the place, to

recount the vicissitudes of the Aberdeen


its

Administration in
of war.

baffled struggles against the alternative

The achievements
than
its failures,

of the Coalition Government,

no

less

with

much

of

its

secret history,

have

already been told with praiseworthy candour and intimate

knowledge by Lord Stanmore, who


private secretary to his father,
stress

as a

young m.an acted

as

Lord Aberdeen, through the


It
is

and storm of those


and
to indicate

fateful years.

therefore

only necessary in these pages to state the broad outlines of


the story,

Lord John

Russell's position in

the least popular Cabinet of the Queen's reign.

Lord Shaftesbury jotted down in his journal, when the new Ministry came into office, these words, and they sum
up
pretty accurately the situation,

and the common verdict


p 3

212
upon
it
:

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


'

Aberdeen Prime Minister, Lord John Russell


Is
it

Minister for Foreign Affairs.

possible that this arrange-

ment should prosper?


John square with the I wish them joy and a

Can

the Liberal policy of

Lord
?

restrictive

poUcy of Lord Aberdeen

safe deliverance.'


213

CHAPTER X
DOWNING STREET AND CONSTANTINOPLE
1853
Causes of the Crimean War Nicholas seizes his opportunity

and the susceptibilities of the Vatican Lord Stratford de Redclifife and the Porte Prince Menschik off shows Lord Aberdeen hopes against hope Lord Palmerston's his hand opinion of the crisis The Vienna Note Lord John grows restive Sinope arouses England The deadlock in the Cabinet.

Memorandum

Napoleon

The Secret

Many

causes conspired

to

bring about

the war

in

the

Crimea, though the pretext for the

quarrel

dispute

between the monks of the Latin and Greek Churches concerning the custody of the Holy Places in Palestine

presents

no element of

difficulty.

It

is,

however, no easy matter to

gather up in a few pages the reasons which led to the war.

Amongst

the most prominent of

them were the ambitious

projects of the despotic


revolt in his

Emperor Nicholas.

The

military

own

capital at the period of his accession,

and

the Polish insurrections of 1830 and 1850, had rendered

him

harsh and imperious, and disinclined to concessions on any

adequate scale to the


political

restless

but spasmodic demands for

reform in Russia.

Gloomy and reserved though the


it

Autocrat of All the Russias was, he recognised that

would

be a mistake

to rely for the pacification of his vast empire

on

the policy of masterly inactivity.

His war with

Persia, his

invasion of Turkey, and the army which he sent to help

214

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


quarrel with Hungarj', not only ap-

Austria to settle her

pealed to the pride of Russia, but provided so


for the energy and ambition of her ruler.
It

many

outlets

was

in the East

that Nicholas
revival,

saw

his

opportunity,

and

his

policy was a

under the changed conditions of the times, of that

of Peter the Great

and Catherine IL
the provisions
of the treaty of 1841

Nicholas had long secretly chafed at the exclusion of


his war-ships

by

from access through the Black Sea to the Mediterranean,

and he
was
in

dreamed
the

dreams

of

Constantinople,

and
of

saw
there

visions of India.

Linked to many lawless


Religion

instincts,

Emperor's personal character much


of

the
alike

intolerance

the

fanatic.

and
so

pride

made

the fact rankle in his breast that

many

of the

Sultan's subjects were Sclavs,

and professed the Russian


moreover, astute enough

form of

Christianity.

He
as

was,

to see that a

war which could be construed by the simple


an attempt to
uplift the

and devout peasantry


of the

standard

Cross in the dominions of the Crescent


at

would

appeal
Russia.

once

to

the

clergy

and populace
that,

of

Holy

Nicholas had persuaded himself


at the

with Lord
in a place in a

Aberdeen

head of

affairs,

and Palmerston

of safety at the

Home

Office,

England was scarcely

condition to give practical effect to her traditional jealousy


of Russia.

In the weakness of her divided counsels he


It

saw his opportunity.

had become a
in a

fixed idea with the


;

Emperor

that

Turkey was

moribund condition

and

neither Orloff nor Nesselrode

had been able

to disabuse his

mind

of the notion.
is

Everyone

aware that

in

January 1853 the Emperor


Sir

told the English

Ambassador,
'

Hamilton Seymour,
ever

that

Turkey was the

sick

man

'

of Europe, and

since

NICHOLAS AND THE 'SICK MAN'


then the phrase has passed
It

215
historic.
freely,

current

and become
for

was often on the hps of Nicholas,


little

he talked

and sometimes showed so


once declared, with

discretion that Nesselrode

fine irony, that the

White Czar could

not claim to be a diplomatist.


startled
like the

The

phrase cannot have

Lord Aberdeen.
in

It

must have sounded, indeed,

echo of words which the


the

Emperor had uttered


Nicholas,

in

London

summer

of 1844.

on the
freely

occasion of his

visit to

England

in that year,

spoke

about the Eastern Question, not merely to the

Duke

of

Wellington, whose military prowess he greatly admired, but


also to Sir

Robert Peel and Lord Aberdeen, who was then


Affairs.

Minister for Foreign

He

told the latter in

so
his

many words

that

Turkey was a dying man, and did


view of the approaching
crisis.

best to impress the three English statesmen with the necessity


for preparation in

He

stated

that he foresaw that the time was

coming when he would

have to put his armies

in

movement, and added that

Austria would be compelled to do the same.


that he

He
soil,

protested

made no

claim to an inch of Turkish

but was
it

prepared to dispute the right of anyone else to an inch of

a
Ali.

palpable allusion to the French support of


It

Mehemet

was too soon to stipulate what should be done when the sick man's last hour had run its course. All he
'
'

wanted, he maintained, was the basis of an understanding.

In Nicholas's opinion England ought to make

common

cause with Russia and Austria, and he did not disguise his
jealousy of France.
It

was clear that he dreaded the growth

of close union between England

and France, and

for

Louis

PhiHppe then, as
Nicholas

for

Louis Napoleon
if

afterwards, his feeling

was one of coldness

not of actual disdain.


all

The Emperor

won golden

opinions amongst

classes during his

2l6

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Sir

short stay in England.

Theodore Martin's

'

Life of the

Prince Consort,' and especially the letter which


in
its

is

published

King Leopold, showed the marked impression which was made at Windsor by his handsome presence, his apparently unstudied confidences, the
pages from the
to

Queen

simplicity

and charm of

his

manners, and the adroitness of

his well-turned

compliments.

Whenever the Autocrat of All


and Baron
which

the Russias appeared in public, at a military review, or the

Opera, or at Ascot, he received an ovation,

Stockmar, with dry cynicism, has not failed to record the


lavish gifts of
'

endless snuff-boxes and large presents

'

made

his departure

memorable

to the

Court

officials.

Out

of this visit grew, though the world

the Secret

knew nothing of it then, Memorandum, drawn up by Peel, Wellington, and


it

Aberdeen, and signed by them as well as by the Emperor himself.

This document, though

actually

committed England

to nothing

more

serious than the recognition in black


straits of

and

white of the desperate

the Porte, and the fact that

England and Russia were


in the event of a crisis in

alike

concerned

in

maintaining

the status quo in Turkey, dwelt significantly on the fact that,

Turkey, Russia and England were

to

come

to an understanding with each other as to

what

concerted action they should take.


existing

The agreement
was was
stress

already

between
in the

Russia

and Austria

significantly

emphasised
that
if

document, and

laid

on the

fact

England joined the compact, France would have no


Nicholas attached an
It

alternative but to accept the decision.

There can be no question


exaggerated importance to this

that

memorandum.

expressed

his opinion rather than the determination of the Peel

Ad-

ministration

but a half-barbaric despot not unnaturally

imagined that when the responsible advisers of the Crown

'

A FRIEND AT COURT
entered into a secret agreement with him, no matter

2\J

how

vague

its

terms

might appear when subjected to


practically of

critical

analysis,

England and himself were

one mind.

When

the Coalition

Government was formed, two of the


the

three statesmen,

whom

Emperor Nicholas regarded


third, in the

as

his friends at Court,

were dead, but the

person

of Lord Aberdeen, had succeeded, by an unexpected turn of

new Ministry. Long before to the Emperor had honoured the Imperial Lord Aberdeen with his friendship, and, now that the Foreign
the wheel, to the chief place in the
visit

London

Minister of 1844 was the Prime Minister of 1853, the oppor-

tune

moment

for energetic action

seemed
if

to

have arrived.
'

Nicholas, accordingly,

now

hinted that

the

sick

man

died England should seize Egypt and Crete, and that the

European provinces of Turkey should be formed


pendent
states

into inde-

under Russian protection.

He met,

however,

with no response, for the English Cabinet by this time saw


that the
laid

impending collapse of Turkey, on which Nicholas


stress,

such emphatic

was by no means a foregone con-

clusion.

Napoleon and Palmerston had, moreover, drawn


alliance.

France and England into friendly

There was no

shadow of doubt
as the
rid

that the Christian subjects of

Turkey were

grossly oppressed,

and

it is

only

fair to

believe that Nicholas,

head of the Greek Church, was honestly anxious to

them of such thraldom.

At the same time no one


Defender of the

imagined that he was exactly the ruler to expend blood and


treasure, in the risks of war, in the role of a

Faith.

Count Vitzthum doubts whether the Emperor


contemplated the taking of Constantinople, but
it is

really

plain that

he meant to crush the Turkish Empire, and England, knowing


that the

man had

masterful instincts and ambitious schemes

2l8

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


suggest,
at all

that
menace
'we

events,

a passing comparison with

Napoleon Bonaparte
to India,

took alarm at his restlessness, and the


it

which

seemed

to suggest.

'

If we

do not

stop the Russians on the Danube,' said


shall

Lord John

Russell,

It is now a when the Crimean War matter of common knowledge that, began, Nicholas had General Duhamel's scheme before him

have to stop them on the Indus.'

for

an invasion of India through Asia.

Such an advance,
in

it

was foreseen, would cripple England's resources

Europe
to the
hostili-

by compelling her
East.
ties in

to despatch an

army of defence
Russia,

It certainly looks, therefore, as if

when
III,,

the Crimea actually began, was preparing herself for a

sudden descent on Constantinople.

Napoleon

eager to

conciliate the religious susceptibilities of his

own

subjects, as

well as to gratify the Vatican, wished the Sultan to

Latin

monks

the supreme custodians of the


it

make the Holy Places.


fore-

Complications, the issue of which


cast,

was impossible to

appeared inevitable, and

for the

moment

there

seemed

only

one man who

could grapple with the situation at


altogether,

Constantinople.

Lord Palmerston

and Lord

John Russell
Porte.

in part,

sympathised with the clamour which

arose in the Press for the return of the Great Elchi to the

In

the

entjre annals

of British

diplomacy there

is

scarcely a

more picturesque or

virile figure

than that of Lord


affairs

Stratford de Redcliffe.

Capacity for public

ran in

the blood of the Cannings, as the three statues which to-day

stand side by side in Westminster

Abbey proudly
if

attest.

Those marble memorials represent George Canning, the


great Foreign Minister,

phrase

'

called the

who in New World


;
'

the famous,

grandiloquent,

into existence to redress the

balance of the Old

his son

Charles, Earl Canning,

first

LORD STRATFORD DE REDCLIFFE


Viceroy of India
;

219

and his cousin, Stratford Canning, Viscount

Stratford de Redcliffe,
to quicken into

who

for a long

term of years sought


life

newness of

social

and poHtical

the broken

and demoralised
practically

forces of the

Ottoman Empire, and who


the
policy

dictated

from Constantinople

of
in

England
1

in the East.

He

was born

in

1786 and died

880.

He

entered the public service as a /rnvV-writer at

the Foreign Office, and rose swiftly in the profession of diplo-

macy.

His acquaintance with Eastern he succeeded two years

affairs

began

in 1808,

when he was appointed

First Secretary to Sir


later at

Robert Adair,

whom
in 181 2

Constantinople as

Minister Plenipotentiary.

The Treaty
first

of Bucharest,

which

brought the war, then in progress between Russia and


of a brilliant series of diploall

Turkey, to an end, was the

matic triumphs, which established his reputation in

the

Councils of Europe, and made him, in Lord Tennyson's words,

*The voice of England

in the

East.'
at the

After

services

in

Switzerland, in Washington,

and

Congress of Vienna,

Canning, in 1825, returned to Constantinople with the rank


of Ambassador.

He
Sultan

witnessed

the
II.,

overthrow of the

Janissaries

by

Mahmoud
atrocities

and had

his

own experience of

Turkish

in the

massacre which followed.

He

took a prominent part in the creation of the modern kingdom


of Greece,

and resigned

his

appointment in 1828, because

of a conflict- of opinion with


stages

Lord Aberdeen

in the early

of that

movement.

Afterwards, he was gazetted


;

Ambassador

to St. Petersburg

but the Emperor Nicholas,

who by
Lord

this

time recognised the masterful quaUties of the

man, refused to receive him


Stratford,

conspicuous

slight,

which

who was

as

proud and

irascible as the Czar,

never forgave.

Between the years 1842 and 1858 he again

220
filled his

LORD
old position as

J041N RUSSELL

Ambassador

to Constantinople,

and

during those years he won a unique ascendency


in the history of

unmatched

diplomacy

over
styled

Turkey.

He

brought about

men and movements in many reforms, and made it his


interests of the Christian

special concern to

watch over the

subjects at the Porte,

who

him the Padishah of the


'

Shah,'

and

that

title

Sultan of the

Sultan

exactly

hit

off

the authority which he wielded, not always wisely, but always

with good intent.

It

was an unfortunate circumstance that


have been

Lord

Stratford, after his resignation in 1852, should

summoned back
power exactly
at

for a further spell of six years' tenure of

the

moment when

Nicholas, prompted by

the knowledge of the absence from Constantinople of the

man who had

held him in check, and of the accession to

power in Downing Street of a statesman of mild temper and friendly disposition to Russia, was beginning once more to
push
his claims in

the East.

Lord Stratford had many

virtues,

but he had also a violent and uncertain temper.


inflexible integrity, iron will,

He

was a man of
courage,

undeniable moral
Yet, for a great

and commanding

force of character.

Ambassador, he was

at times strangely undiplomatic, whilst

the keenness of his political judgment

and

forecasts some-

times suffered eclipse through the strength of his personal


antipathies.

Meanwhile, Lord John Russell, who had expressly


lated

stipu-

when the Cabinet was formed

that he

was only to hold

the seals of the Foreign Office for a few weeks, convinced

already that the position was untenable to a


views, insisted

on being

relieved of the office.

man of his The diver-

gent views in the Cabinet on the Eastern Question were

making themselves
charitable

felt,

and Lord Aberdeen's eminently


of

interpretation

the

Russian

demands was

FAREWELL TO THE FOREIGN OFFICE


little

221

to

the minds of

men

of the stamp of

Palmerston
faith

and

Russell, neither of

whom

was inclined to pin his

so completely to the Czar's assurances.

When

Parliament
Office

met

in February,

Lord John quitted the Foreign


portfolio.

and led the House of Commons without


quick recognition of Mr. Gladstone's great

His

qualities as a

responsible statesman was not the least pleasing incident of

the moment.

In April, Lord Aberdeen once more made

no
the

secret of his determination to retire at the

end of the

session,

and

this intimation

no doubt had

its

influence with

more

restive of his

colleagues.

When
the

Parliament rose, Lord John Russell's position in

country was

admitted on
for,

all

hands to be one of

renewed strength,

set free

from an irksome position,

he had thrown himself during the session with ardour into the congenial work of leader of the House of

Commons.
received
his

The

resolution of the Cabinet to send

Lord

Stratford to Constantinople has already been stated.


instructions
;

He

seems
just

to

on February 25 in fact, he have dictated them, for Lord Clarendon, who had
Office,

succeeded to the Foreign

made no

secret of the

circumstance that they were largely borrowed from the

Ambassador's own notes.


proceed
first

He

was told that he was to


to Vienna, in order that

to Paris,

and then

he

might know the minds of France and Austria on the issues


at stake.

Napoleon HI. was

to

be assured that England

relied

on

his cordial co-operation in maintaining the integrity

and independence of the Turkish Empire. The young Emperor of Austria was to be informed that her Majesty's Government gladly recognised the fact that his attitude
towards the Porte had not been changed by recent events,

and

that the policy of Austria in the East

was not

likely to

222
be
altered.

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Lord Stratford was
their part

to

warn the Sultan and his

advisers that the crisis was one which required the utmost

prudence on

if

peace was to be preserved.

The
Lord
tunes,

Sultan and his Ministers were practically to be told by

Stratford that they were the authors of their

own

misfor-

and

that, if
'

they were to be extricated from them, they


sincerity

must place the utmost confidence in the


ness of the advice
'

and soundto urge

that

he was commissioned to give them.

He

was further

to lay stress

on palpable abuses, and


'

the necessity of administrative reforms.

It remains,'

added
of

Lord Clarendon, only


'

for

me to

say that in the event, which

her Majesty's Government earnestly hope

may

not

arise,

imminent danger

to the existence of the Turkish


will in

Govern-

ment, your Excellency


to Malta requesting the

such case despatch a messenger


to hold himself in readiness;

Admiral

but you will not direct

him

to

approach the Dardanelles

without positive instructions from her Majesty's Government.'

The

etiquette of Courts has to be respected, especially


difficult

by

Ambassadors charged with a

mission, but

Lord

Stratford's diplomatic visits to Paris

and Vienna were unduly


on April

prolonged, and occupied more time than was desirable at

such a

crisis.

He

arrived at Constantinople

5,

and was
ovation. as that

received, to his surprise, with a remarkable personal

In Kinglake's phrase, his return was regarded


'

of a king whose realm

had been

suffered to

fall

into danger.'

The

Czar's envoy. Prince Menschikoff,

had already been

on the scene for five weeks. If Russia meant peace, the choice Menschikoff was of such a representative was unfortunate.
a brusque soldier, rough and impolitic of speech, and by no

means inclined to conform

to accepted

methods of procedure.

He

refused to place himself in communication with the

TAKING THE BULL BY THE HORNS


Foreign Minister of the Porte
;

223
at

and

this

was interpreted

Stamboul as an

insult to the Sultan.

The Grand

Vizier,

rushing to the conclusion that his master was in imminent


danger, induced Colonel Rose, the British Charge d' Affaires,
to order the

Mediterranean Fleet, then at Malta, to pro-

ceed to Vourla.

The Admiral, however,

refused to lend

himself to the panic, and sent back word that he waited


instructions from

London, a course which was afterwards


at

approved by the Cabinet.


not lost

The commotion upon Napoleon, though he knew

Stamboul was
Eager

that the English


to

Cabinet was not anxious to precipitate matters.

display his newly acquired power, he promptly sent instructions to the

French Fleet

to

proceed to Salamis.
a

Meanwhile
conciliatory

Prince Menschikofif,
attitude

who had adopted

more

on the question of the Holy Places, with the result that


assumed shortly
defiant manner,

negotiations were proceeding satisfactorily,

before the arrival of Lord Stratford a

more

and

startled the Porte

by the sudden announcement of new


that a formal treaty should

demands.

He claimed

be drawn

up, recognising in the

most ample, not

to say abject, terms,

the right of Russia to


Christian
subjects

estabhsh a Protectorate over the


Porte.

of the

This meant, as Lord

Clarendon pointed out

at the time, that fourteen millions of

people would henceforth regard the Czar as their defender,


whilst their allegiance to the Sultan

would become

little

more

than nominal, and the position of the Turkish ruler would


inevitably dwindle from independence to vassalage.

Lord

Stratford at once took the bull

by the horns. Act-

ing on his advice, the Porte refused even to entertain such

proposals until the question of the

Holy Places was

settled.

Within a month, through Lord Stratford's firmness, Russia

and Turkey came

to terms over the original point in dispute

224

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

but on the following day Menschikoff placed an ultimatum


before the Porte,

demanding that, within

five days, his master's

claim for the acknowledgment of the Russian Protectorate over the Sultan's Greek subjects should be accepted.
Sultan's

The

Ministers,

Lord

Stratford to

who mean that

interpreted the dramatic return of

they had England at their back,

declined to accede, and their refusal was immediately followed

by the departure of Prince Menschikoff.


macy, the Czar, on July
2,

Repulsed

in diplo-

marched

forty

thousand troops

across the frontier river, the Pruth,

and occupied Moldavia


it

and Wallachia.

The

Imperial manifesto stated that

was

not the Czar's intention to

commence war, but only to

obtain

such security as would ensure the restoration of the rights of


Russia.

This was, of course, high ground to take, and a

conference of the Great Powers was hastily summoned, with


the result that the French view of the situation was

embodied

by the assembled diplomatists

in the

Vienna Note, which

was despatched simultaneously to Russia and Turkey. Lord

John

Russell, even before the arrival of

Lord

Stratford at

Constantinople, had

come to

the conclusion that the

Emperor
;

of Russia was determined to pick a quarrel with Turkey

but

Lord Aberdeen and

his Peelite following

were of another

mind, and even Lord Clarendon seems for the

moment

to

have been hoodwinked by the Czar's protestations.

A month
summer
'

or two later the Foreign Minister saw matters

in a different light, for

he used in the House of Lords, in the

of 1853, an expression which has

become

historic

We

are drifting into war.'

The

quarrel at this stage

for

the susceptibilities of France

and of

Rome had

been ap-

peased by the settlement of the question of the Holy Places

lay between Russia and Turkey, and England might have


compelled the peace of Europe
if

she had

known her own


CAUTION HAS
mind, and

ITS

PERFECT WORK

22 5

made both
it,

parties recognise in unmistakeable

terms what was her policy. Lord John Russell had a policy, but

Lord Aberdeen had no policy which ordinary mortals could fathom, and had the power to keep the Cabinet though scarcely Lord Stratford de Redcliffe from taking any decided course. The Emperor Nicholas,
no power
to enforce

whilst

relying

on the Protocol which Lord Aberdeen had signed under circumstances which, however, bore no resemblance to existing conditions imagined that, with such a statesman not take up arms at" the head of affairs, England would
against Russia.
tion,

Lord Aberdeen,

to

add

to the complica-

seemed unable

to credit the hostile intentions of the

Czar, even after the failure of the negotiations which fol-

lowed the despatch of the Vienna Note.


as

Yet as

far

back

June

19,

Lord John Russell,

in a

memorandum

to his
affairs.

colleagues,

made

a clear statement of the position of

He held that, if Russia persisted in her demands and

invaded

Turkey, the interests of England in the East would compel


us to aid the Sultan in defending his capital and his throne. On the other hand, if the Czar by a sudden movement
seized Constantinople,

Russia herself.
alliance of

we must be prepared to make war on In that case, he added, we ought to seek the
France would willingly
if it

France and Austria.

join

and England and France together might,


if

were

worth while, obtain the moral weight,


support, of Austria in their favour.

not the material

Lord Aberdeen responded with

characteristic caution.

He

refused to entertain warlike forecasts, and wished for liberty to

meet the emergency when it actually arose. Lord Palmerston, a week or two later, made an ineffectual attempt to persuade the Cabinet to send the Fleet to the Bosphorus without further delay.
'

I think

our position,' were his words on July

7,

226
'

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


and submissively
at the

waiting timidly
is

back door, whilst

Russi-a

violently threatening
is

and arrogantly forcing her


in the

way

into the house,

unwise, with a view to a peaceful


*

settlement.'

Lord Aberdeen believed

moderation

'

of a despot

who took no
'

pains to disguise his sovereign

contempt

for

les

chiens Turcs.'

Lord Palmerston, on the


it

other hand,

made no
and

secret of his opinion that

was the
'

invariable policy of Russia to push forward her encroach-

ment

'

as fast

as far as the apathy or

want of firmness

of other Governments would allow.

He

held that her plan

was to

'

stop and retire

when she was met with decided


more
a

resistance,'

and then

to wait until the next favourable oppor-

tunity arose to steal once

march on Europe.

There

was, in short, a radical divergence in the Cabinet.

When

the compromise suggested in the Vienna Note was rejected,


the chances of a European war were sensibly quickened,

and

all

the more so because Lord Stratford, with his noto-

rious personal grudge against the Czar, was

more than any


had

other

man

master of the situation.

What
is

that situation

become

in the early

autumn

of 1853

pithily expressed in

a letter of Sir George Cornewall Lewis's to Sir

Edmund
The

Head

'

Everything
is

is

in a perplexed state at Constantinople.

Russia

ashamed

to

recede,

but afraid to

strike.

Turks have collected a large army, and have blown up their fanaticism, and, reckoning on the support of England and
France, are half inclined to try the chances of war.
that both parties are in the
I

think

wrong

Russia
still

in

making unjust

demands,

Turkey

in

resisting

a reasonable settlement.
persist in thinking
fires
it
^

War
will
*

is

quite on the cards, but I

be averted, unless some


Letters of Sir

accidental spark

the train.'

George

Cornewall Letuis, Bart.^ edited by his


p. 270,

brother,

Canon Frankland Lewis,

THE VIENNA NOTE


The Vienna Note was badly worded, and
it

227
failed as a

scheme of compromise between the Porte and Russia.

When

it

was sent
it,

in.

a draft form to

St.

Petersburg the
its state-

Czar accepted

doubtless because he saw that


in a sense

ments were vague


his

which might be interpreted to


swiftly
it

advantage.
protest,

At Constantinople the document


and the Divan refused
to sanction

evoked

with-

out alteration. the force of the

England, France, and Austria recognised

Russia to

amendments of Turkey, and united in urging adopt them. The Emperor Nicholas, however,

was too proud a

man

to submit to dictation, especially

from

the Sultan, with Lord Stratford at his elbow, and decHned


to accede to the altered proposals.

that

Turkey had a

just

John deemed cause of complaint, not in the mere


I^ord

fact of the rejection of

her alterations to the Vienna Note,

but because they were rejected after they had been submitted to the Czar.
that

He told Lord
reject the

Aberdeen

that

he hoped

Turkey would

new

proposals, but he

added

that that

would not wipe away the shame of

their having
19,
I

been made.

In a speech at Greenock, on September


:

Lord John

said

'

While we endeavour to maintain peace,


last to forget that if
it is

certainly should

be the

peace cannot be
It

maintained with honour,


then but a truce

no longer peace.

becomes

precarious truce, to be denounced by

others whenever they

may
either

think

fit

whenever
or

they

may

think that an opportunity has occurred to enforce by arms


their unjust

demands

upon us

upon our

allies.'

England and France refused

to press the original

Vienna

Note on Turkey
their reasons for
sufficient
force,

but as Austria and Prussia thought that

abandoning negotiations were scarcely of


broken by the
Q 2

they in turn declined to adopt the same


fact,

policy.

The

concert of Europe was, in

228
failure of the

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Vienna Note, and the chances of peace grew

suddenly remote.

There

is

a saying that a

man

likes to

believe what he wishes to be the fact,


trated at this juncture

and

its

truth was illus-

by both

parties to the quarrel.

The

Czar persuaded himself that Austria and Prussia would give

him

their aid,

and

that England, under Aberdeen,

was hardly
Sultan,

likely to proceed to the extremity of war.

The

on

the other hand, emboldened by the

movements of the French


and purposes, the

and English
master

fleets,

and

still

more by the presence and counsels


all

of Lord Stratford,
spirit

who

was, to

intents

at Constantinople,

trusted and with good

reason as the issue proved


land and France.
It

on the military support of Eng-

was plain enough that Turkey would

go to the wall

in a struggle with Russia, unless other nations

which dreaded the possession of Constantinople by the Czar


came, in their own
interests, to

her help.

With the rejection

by Russia of the Turkish amendments to the Vienna Note,

and the

difference of opinion which at once arose between


it

the four mediating Powers as to the policy which

was best

under the altered circumstances to pursue, a complete deadlock resulted.

Lord John's view of the situation was expressed in a memorandum which he placed before the Cabinet, and in
That if Russia will which he came to these conclusions not make peace on fair terms, we must appear in the field
:

'

as the auxiliaries of

Turkey

that

if

we

are to act in con-

junction with France as principals in the war,

we must

act

not for the Sultan, but for the general interests of the population of

European Turkey.

How, and
and

in

what way, requires


with

much

further

consideration,

concert possibly

Austria, certainly with France.'


resist Rufssian aggression,

He

desired not merely to

but also to

make

it

plain to the

HOSTILITIES ON

THE DANUBE
it

229
its

Porte that we would in no case support


subjects.

against
to

Christian

ppUcy,

The Cabinet was not prepared and. Lord John made no secret of
for

adopt such a

his opinion that

Lord Aberdeen's anxiety


lieved that the
in its influence,

peace and generous attitude

toward the Czar were, in reaHty, provoking war.

He

be-

Prime Minister's

vacillation

was disastrous

and

that he ought, therefore, to retire

and

make way
for the

for a leader

with a definite policy.


barrier to war,
it.

The Danube,

moment, was the great

and both Russia

and Turkey were


would have

afraid to cross

Lord John believed


Street at this juncture
activity of a

that energetic measures in


forestalled,

Downing

and indeed prevented,

less peaceful

kind on the Danube.

Meanwhile, despatches,

projects,

and proposals passed rapidly between the Great Powers, for never, as was remarked at the time by a
statesman,

prominent
writing.

did any subject produce so


still

much

Turkey perhaps
Tumults
;

eager for war.

in

more than Russia was favour of it had broken out at


more
to the purpose, the
in a

Constantinople
finances

and, what was

and

internal

government of the country were

state of confusion.

Therefore,

when

the concert of the four

Powers had been shattered, the Turks saw a better chance At of drawing both England and France into their quarrel.
length,

on October

lo, the

Porte sent an ultimatum to the

commander

of the Russian troops which had invaded Molfall

davia and Wallachia, demanding that they should

back

beyond the Pruth within fifteen days. On October 22 the war-ships of England and France passed the Dardanelles in
order to
protect

Russian attack.

and defend Turkish territory from any The Czar met what was virtually a declarawould neither
after the
retire

tion of war by asserting that he

nor act

on the

aggressive.

Ten days

expiration of the

230
Stipulated time,

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Omar
Pacha, the Ottoman

commander

in

Bulgaria, having crossed

the Danube, attacked and van-

quished the Russians on November 4 at Oltenitza.

The

Czar at once accepted the challenge, and declared that he


considered his pledge not to act on the offensive was no
longer binding.
sailing into the

The Russian

fleet

left

Sebastopol, and,

harbour of Sinope, on the southern coast of

the Black Sea, destroyed,

on November

30, the

Turkish

squadron anchored

in that port,

and slew four thousand


Theostated

men.

significant light
'

is

thrown on the

crisis in Sir
^

dore Martin's Life of the Prince Consort,'


that the Czar addressed an autograph
'

where

it is

letter to the

Queen,

full

of surprise that there should be any misunderstanding


his

between her Majesty's Government and


affairs

own

as to the

of Turkey,

and appealing
" to

to

her Majesty's

"good
letter,

faith "
it is

and

"

wisdom

decide between them.' This

added, was at once submitted to Lord Clarendon for

his

and Lord Aberdeen's opinion.

The Queen

replied that

Russia's interpretation of her treaty obligations in the particular instance in

question was, in her Majesty's judgment


qualified to advise her,
'

and
'

in the

judgment of those best

The it. Queen intimated in explicit terms that the demand which the Czar had made was one which the Sultan could hardly concede if he valued his own independence. The letter ended
not susceptible of the extended meaning put upon
with an admission that the Czar's intentions towards Turkey

were friendly and disinterested.'


*

Sir
14,

Theodore Martin

states

that this letter, dated

November
more than

was submitted to Lord

Aberdeen and Lord Clarendon, and was by them-' thought


excellent.'
'

Scarcely

a fortnight elapsed
^

when

Sir

Theodore Martin's Life of the Prince Consort

ii.

530, 531.

MAKING HASTE SLOWLY


Russia's
'

23
were displayed

friendly

and

disinterested

'

feelings

in her cruel onslaught at Sinope,

and the statesmen who had


It

prompted her Majesty's reply received a rude awakening.

became

plain in the light of accomplished events that the


is

wisdom which

profitable

to

direct

had deserted her

Majesty's chief advisers.

Lord Aberdeen always made haste


the resources of diplomacy.

slowly,

and when other

statesmen had abandoned hope he continued to lay stress on

He
;
'

admitted that he had long

regarded the possibility of war between England and Russia


with the
'

utmost incredulity

but even before Sinope his

confidence in a peaceful solution of the difficulty was begin-

ning to waver.
fused to recall

He
him

distrusted
;

Lord

Stratford,
'

and

yet he re'

he talked about the

indignity
his

which
to

Omar Pacha had

inflicted

on the Czar by

summons

evacuate the Principalities, although nothing could justify the

presence of the Russian troops in Moldavia and Wallachia,

and they had held


months.

their

ground there

for the space of three

Even Lord Clarendon admitted that

the Turks

had

displayed no lack of patience under the far greater insult of


invasion.
evitable
if

The

'

indignity of notice to quit was, in fact, in'

the Sultan was to preserve a vestige of self-respect.


drafting fresh plans of pacification,
'

Lord Aberdeen was calmly

requiring the Porte to abstain from hostilities

during the

progress of the negotiations undertaken on


fortnight after

its

behalf

Turkey had

actually sent her ultimatum to

Russia

and the

battle of Oltenitza

was an

affair

of history

before the despatch reached Constantinople.

Lord Stan-

more

is

inclined to

blame Lord John Russell forgiving

the Turks a loophole of escape by inserting in the


the qualifying words
^
'

document

for a reasonable

time

'

but his argu234.

Lord Stanmore's Earl of Aberdeen,

p.

232

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


falls

ment

to the

ground when

it

is

remembered
10.

that this

despatch was written on October 24, whilst the Turkish

ultimatum had been sent to Russia on October

Sinope
'

was a
went

bitter surprise to

Lord Aberdeen, and the


it

furious

passion' which Lord Stanmore declares

aroused in England

far to discredit the Coalition Ministry.


all

Unfortunately,

through the

crisis

Lord Aberdeen
to

appears to have attached unmerited weight to the advice of


the weak

members of his own Cabinet men who, a phrase of Lord Palmerston's, were inconvenient
'

borrow

entities in

council,'

though hardly conspicuous either

in their

powers of

debate or in their influence in the country.

Politicians of the

stamp of the Duke of Newcastle, Mr. Sidney Herbert, and


Sir

James Graham played a

great part in

Downing

Street,

whilst for the

moment men

of superior ability like Palmerston

and Russell found

their advice

unheeded.

More than any


a forgotten states-

other man. Sir James Graham,

now almost

man, was Lord Aberdeen's trusted colleague, and the wisdom


of his advice

was by no means always conspicuous

for

rashness and timidity were oddly blended in his nature.


'

The

defeat of the

Turks

at

Sinope upon our element, the

sea,'

wrote the Prince


the people furious

Consort to Baron Stockmar, 'has


;

made

it is

ascribed to Aberdeen having


^

been bought over by Russia.'


Prince mentions about
absurd, and everyone

The rumour which

the

Lord Aberdeen was, of


at

course,

who knew

the lofty personal character

of the Prime Minister laughed


theless, the fact that the Prince

it

once to scorn.

Never-

Consort should have thought


is

such a statement worth chronicling

in itself significant;

and

though no
least

man

of brains in the country held such a view, at

two-thirds
Sir

of the

educated opinion of the nation


ii.

Theodore Martin's Life of the Prince Consort^

534.

ENGLAND RESENTS SINOPE

233

regarded the Prime Minister with increasing disfavour, as a

man who had

dragged England, through humiHating negoverge of war.


of the Turkish squadron at Sinope under
fleet

tiations, to the

The destruction
the shadow of our
the
quick.

touched the pride of England to


lost
'

The

nation

all
'

patience

as

the

con-

temptuous cartoons of
parleyings of Aberdeen,

Punch

show

with
'

the

endless
for

and a loud and passionate cry


that too

war

filled

the country.

Lord Stanmore thinks


'

much

was made
sailors,

in the excitement of the


is right.

massacre

of the Turkish

and perhaps he

However

that

may

be, the

fact

remains that the Russians at Sinope continued to storm

with shot and shell the Turkish ships

when those on board

were no longer able to act on the defensive

naval

engagement which cannot be described


valour.

as distinguished for

Perhaps the indignation might not have been so


if

deep and widespread

the English people had not re-

cognised that the Coalition Government had strained concession to the breaking point in the vain attempt to propitiate

the

Czar.

All

through the early autumn Lord

Palmerston was aware that those in the Cabinet who were


jealous of Russia

had

to

reckon with
all

'

private

and verbal

communications, given in

honesty, but tinctured by the

personal bias of the Prime Minister,' to Baron Brunnow,

which were doing 'irreparable mischief

at St. Petersburg.^

The

nation did not relish Lord Aberdeen's personal friend-

ship with the Czar,

and now that Russia was beginning


to explain

to

show

herself in her true colours, prejudice against a

Prime
was

Minister
natural,
over,

who had sought

away

difficulties

however unreasonable.

The English

people, more-

had not forgotten that Russia

ruthlessly crippled
ii.

Poland
282.

^ Life

of Lord Palmerston^ by the Hon. Evelyn Ashley,

234
in
1

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


in

83 1, and lent her aid to the subjugation of Hungary


If the Sultan

1849.

was the Lord of Misrule to English

imagination in 1853, the Czar was the embodiment of despotism, and even
liberty
less

amenable

to the

modern

ideas of

and

other hand,

The Manchester School, on the had provoked a reaction. The Great Exhibition
toleration.

had

set a large section of the

community dreaming, not of


Russia was looked upon

the millennium, but of Waterloo.


as a standing
East,

menace

to England's
logic of

widening heritage

in the

and neither the

Cobden nor

the rhetoric of

Bright was

of the least avail in stemming the torrent of

national indignation.

When

the

Vienna Note became a dead


either to

letter

Lord

Aberdeen ought

have adopted a clean-cut policy,


else

which neither Russia nor Turkey could mistake, or

have carried out his twice-repeated purpose of resignation.

Everyone admits that from the outset


of great difficulty, but he increased
refusal
it

his position

was one

greatly

by

his practical

to

grasp

the

nettle.

He

was

not ambitious

of

power, but, on the contrary, longed for his quiet retreat


at

Haddo.

He
man

was on the verge of seventy and was


of few, but scholarly tastes.

essentially a

There can be
the

no doubt

that considerable pressure

was put upon him both


his colleagues
affairs,

by the Court and the majority of


Cabinet, and
this,

in

with the changed aspect of

and the

mistaken sense of duty with regard to them, determined his


course.

His decision
as

'

not to run away from the Eastern


it,

complication,'

Prince Albert worded


in

placed both
false

himself and
position.

Lord John Russell

somewhat of a
his

If
is

Lord Aberdeen had followed

own

inclina-

tion there

every likelihood that he would have carried

out his arrangement to retire in favour of Lord John.

His

THE CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE MATTER

235

colleagues were not in the dark in regard to this arrange-

ment when they joined the


to
fall

Ministry,

and

if

not prepared

in with

the proposal, they ought to


at the time.

have stated
conflict of

their

objections

There

is

some

opinion as to the terms of the arrangement


take
it

to

not an absolute but a conditional


Aberdeen was surely bound
fulfilled.

but even if we ; be what Lord Aberdeen's own friends represent it


pledge to
retire

Lord
outset

to

ascertain

at

the

whether the condition was one that could possibly be


If the objection of his colleagues to retain office

under Lord John as Prime Minister was insurmountable,


then the qualified engagement to retire if the Government would not be broken up by the process was worthless, and

Lord John was being drawn


less to fulfil

into the Cabinet

by assurances

given by the Prime Minister alone, but which he was power-

Lord Aberdeen was therefore determined to remain at his post, because Lord John was unpopular with the Cabinet, and Palmerston with the Court, and because he knew that the
accession
to

without the co-operation of his colleagues.

power of either of them would mean the

adoption of a spirited foreign policy.

236

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

CHAPTER

XI

WAR HINDERS REFORM


1854-1855

Scheme
castle

of

Reform

Palmerston's

attitude Lord John sore

let

and

hindered
tion

Lord Stratford's diplomatic triumph The Duke of New-

and the War Office The dash for Sebastopol Procrastinaand its deadly work The Alma Inkerman The Duke's blunder Famine and frost in the trenches.

All through the autumn of 1854 Lord John Russell was busy The Government with a scheme of Parliamentary reform.
stood pledged to bring forward the measure, though a section
of the Cabinet, and, notably Lord Palmerston, were opposed
to

such a course.

As

leader of the House,

Lord John had


to Parlia-

announced

that the question

would be introduced

ment
in

in the spring,

and the Cabinet,

therefore, took the


its

subject into consideration

when

it

resumed

meetings

November.

special

committee was appointed, and


it.

Lord John placed and towns with


less

his proposals before

Every borough

with less than three hundred electors was to be disfranchised,

than

five

hundred

electors were to lose


seats,

one of their representatives.

Seventy

he argued,
that they

would be gained by
towns.

this plan,

and he suggested

should be divided between the largest counties and the great

He

proposed greatly diminishing the qualifications

alike in counties

and boroughs.

He

laid

stress

on the

'

PALMERSTON AND REFORM

237

necessity of calling into existence triangular constituencies,


in

which no elector should have the power

to vote for

more

than two of the three candidates, and wished also to deprive


the freemen of their guild qualification.

Lord Palmerston
in fact, If his

had no

relish

for the subject.

His predilections,

leaned in quite the opposite direction.


genial, his

manner was
to

temper was conservative, and he was inclined


scoff, at politicians

smile,

if

not to

who met such problems

of government with other than a

light heart.

He was there-

fore inclined at this juncture to adopt


attitude,

Lord Melbourne's

and
.'

to

remark,

Why

meet Lord John with that statesman's famous can't you let it alone ?
idea, declared

Devotion to one
of
all

Goethe,

is

the condition

Lord John was devoted from youth to age to the idea of Parliamentary reform, and in season and out was never inclined to abandon it. Probably Lord Palmergreatness.

ston would have adopted a less hostile attitude

if

he had

been

in his proper

element

at the

Foreign Office

but being

Home

Secretary, he was inclined to kick against a


to

measure

which promised
position

throw into

relief his

own

stationary

on one of the pet subjects of the party of progress.


still

Whilst the Cabinet was

engaged

in thrashing the subject

out, tidings of the battle of

Sinope reached England, and the

popular indignation against Russia, which had been gathering


all

the autumn, burst forth, as has already been stated, into a

fierce outcry against the Czar.

Two

days after the news of

Russia's cowardly attack had been confirmed, Palmerston

saw his opportunity, and promptly resigned.


such a step was determined by mixed motives.
tions to

Doubtless
Objecat

Lord John's proposals

for

Parhamentary reform

best only half explains the position,

and behind such repugvacillating policy

nance

lay hostility to

Lord Aberdeen's

on

238

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


The

1
Derbyites, oddly
;

the Eastern Question.

nation accepted Lord Pahner-

ston's resignation in a matter-of-fact

manner, which probably

surprised

no one more than

himself.

The

enough,

made

the most pother about the affair

but a
like

man
Lord

on the verge of seventy, and especially one


Palmerston with few
illusions,
is

apt to regard the task of


is

forming a new party as a game which


candle.

not worth the

The
and

truth
since,

is,

Palmerston, like other clever


his

men

before

miscalculated

strength,

and on

Christmas Eve was back again

in office.

He

had received

assurances from his colleagues that the Reform proposals

were
in

still

open

to discussion

and, as the Cabinet had taken


affairs

his

absence a decision on Turkish


that

which was

in

harmony with the views


he determined
to

he had persistently advocated,

withdraw his resignation.

The new
rumours of
is,' it

year opened darkly with actual war,

and with

on a

far

more

terrible scale.
4,
'

'

My
;

expectation

wrote Sir G. C. Lewis on January


at

that before long

England and France will be


as

war with Russia

and as long
war

war

lasts all

means of

internal

improvement must slumber.


shelf

The Reform
for

Bill

must remain on the

if

there

is

a Government about

to ask for large supplies

and
is

to im-

pose war taxes, cannot propose a measure which


create dispersion

sure to

and

to divide parties.'

France, in spite

of the action of the


Places,

Emperor over the question of the Holy


interest in the quarrel
;

had not displayed much

but

a contemptuous retort which Nicholas

made
will

to

Napoleon

HL's
in

final letter in

the interests of peace put an end to the

national indifference.

The words Russia


'

prove herself

1854 what she was

in 181

2,'

cut the national pride to the


as

quick,

and the cry on that side of the Channel

on

this,

was

for

war with Russia. The Fleets were ordered to enter the

AN INDIGNANT PROTEST

239

Black Sea, and on February 27 England and France sent a


joint

ultimatum to

St.

Petersburg,

demanding

that the Czar's


30.

troops should evacuate the Principalities

by April

The

interval of suspense

was seized by Lord John

to

place the

Reform proposals of the Government before the House of Commons but the nation was by this time restless, dissatisfied, and preoccupied, for the blast of the trumpet
;

seemed already

in

the

air.

measure was fixed

for the

The second reading middle of March but


;

of the

the into

creasing strain of the Eastern Question led

Lord John

announce

at the

beginning of that month that the Govern-

ment had decided not to bring forward the second reading This announcement led to a until the end of April. personal attack, and one member, whose name may be
left in

the oblivion which has overtaken

it,

had the audacity

to hint that the leader of the

House had never intended


Stung into sudden indignapromptly expressed
his

to proceed with the measure.


tion

by the

taunt.

Lord

John

disdain of the opinion of a politician

who had no
own

claim

whatever to speak in the

name

of Reform, and went on, with


lifelong

a touch of pardonable pride, to refer to his


association with the cause.

When
,'

he turned to his op-

ponent with the words,


think he has a right to

Does the honourable gentleman treat me the House backed and


'

buried his protest with

its

generous cheers.
it,

Lord John
for the

Russell, in power or out of

was always jealous

reputation of the responsible statesmen of the nation, and he

did not

let

this occasion
'

pass without laying emphasis on


if

that point.

should be ashamed of myself

were to

prefer a concern for

my own

personal reputation to that

which

understood to be for the interests of

my

country.
rule

But

it

seems to

me

that the character of the

men who

240
this

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


country
at
in office
in

whether they be the moment or opposition a matter of the utmost interest to the people
is

of this country,
full

and

that

it is

of paramount importance that


It
is,

confidence should be reposed in their character.

in

fact,
lic

on the confidence of the people in the character of pubthat the security of this country in a great degree de-

men

pends.'

A few days
Reform ought
subject, and,

later

it

became plain

that war

was at hand, and

a strong feeling prevailed in Parliament that the question of


to

be shelved
difficulty.

for a year.

Lord John's position

was one of great

He

felt

himself pledged on the

though recognising that a great and unexpected


arisen,

emergency had
look,

which altered the whole

political out-

he knew that with Lord Palmerston and others


sinews of war had to be provided.
tax,

in the

Ministry the question was not one of time, but of principle.

The

Mr. Gladstone prothat

posed to double the income

and Lord John urged

a period of increased taxation

ought to be a period of
therefore was averse to

widened

political franchise.

He

postponement, unless in a position to assure his Radical


following that the

Government recognised

that

it

was com-

mitted to the question.

Lord Aberdeen was only less anxious


in fact, his attitude in his closing

than Lord John for the adoption of a progressive and enlightened


years

home

policy

on questions

like Parliamentary reform

was

in

marked

contrast to his rigidly conservative views on foreign policy.

He

therefore determined to

sound the Cabinet advocates of

procrastination as to their real feeling about Reform, with

the result that he saw clearly that Lord John Russell's fears

were not groundless,

since

Lord Palmerston and Lord


meant
to retire
Bill.

Lansdowne
office if the

bluntly declared that they

from

Government went forward with the

'

GOD DEFEND THE RIGHT


felt

'

24I

Lord John
conditionally,

that he could not withdraw the Bill un-

and

therefore

resignation
left.

seemed the only

honourable course which was


sideration he could see

After deliberate conin the matter, and,

no other choice

on April

8,

relinquished his seat in the Cabinet.

The

Court,

the Prime Minister

and

his colleagues

saw at once the gravity

of the position, for the Liberal party were restive enough

under Lord Aberdeen, without the withdrawal from


.

his

Cabinet of a statesman of the


for

first

rank,

who was not anxious


position in the

peace

at

any

price.

Lord
it

John's

country at the
with

moment rendered

probable that a quarrel

him would bring about the downfall of the Government. His zeal for Reform won him the respect and support
of the great towns,

and the determination which he shared

with Palmerston to resist the intolerable attitude of the

Czar made him popular with the crowd.


delivered

A
his

recent speech,

when

Nicholas had

recalled

Ambassador
all

from London, had caught, moreover, the sympathies of


classes of the

community.

'

For

my

part, if

most unexpec-

tedly the

Emperor

of Russia should recede from his former

demands, we
efforts,

shall all rejoice to

be spared the pain, the

and the burdens of war.


to

But

if

peace

is

no longer

consistent with our duty

England, with our duty to

Europe, with our duty to the world, we can only endeavour


to enter into this contest

with a stout heart.

May God

defend the

right,

and

I,

for

my

part, shall

be willing to bear

my

share of the burden and the responsibility.'

John Leech,

in

one of

his inimitable cartoons in

'

Punch,'

caught the situation with a flash of insight which almost

amounted
the hour.

to genius,

and Lord John became the hero of

One

verse out of a spirited


*

poem
Punch

entitled
'

'

God

defend the Right,' which appeared in

at the time,

242

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


in passing, especially as
it

may be quoted
fervour

shows the

patriotic

and the personal enthusiasm which Lord John


evoked
in the

Russell's speech

country

'From humble homes and stately domes the cry goes through the With the loftiness of challenge, the lowliness of prayer, Honour to him who spoke the words in the Council of the Land,

air,

To

find faith in old

England's heart, force in old England's hand.'

A week
in
in
' '

before the appearance of these lines, the cartoon

Punch represented Lord Aberdeen, significantly arrayed Windsor uniform, vainly attempting to hold back the
lion,

strugghng British
distance,

which sees the Russian bear


'

in the

and exclaiming,

must

let

him

go.'

to

Lord John's resignation meant much, perhaps everything, Great pressure was put upon him. the Government.
alike urged

The Queen and the Cabinet


intention of retirement
;

him

to

abandon

his

whilst

Lord Palmerston, with

that

personal chivalry which was characteristic of him, declared that in a moment of European crisis he could be better
spared,

and was ready

to resign

if

Lord John

insisted

upon

such terms, as the price for his own continuance

in office.

Every day the situation abroad was becoming more critical, and Lord John saw that it might imperil greater interests
than any which were bound up with the progress of a party
question to resist such appeals.

He,

therefore,

on April

ii

withdrew his resignation, and received an ovation in the

House

of

Commons when he made


and

it

plain that he was

willing to thrust personal considerations aside in the interests

of his colleagues,

for the welfare of his country.


'

Mr.

Edward

Miall has described the scene.

" If

it

should be

thought that the course he was taking would damage the


cause of Reform
violence of his
"

the noble Lord paused, choked with the


emotions.

own

Then

arose a cheer from

THE PLAN OF CAMPAIGN


both sides of the House, loud and long continued.

243
. .
.

Every eye was glistening with sudden moisture, and every


heart was softened with genuine sympathy.
. . .

The
all

effect

was

electric.

Old prejudices long pent


that

up, grudges, ac-

cumulated discontents, uncharitable suspicions,

melted
^
'

away before

sudden outburst of a troubled


still

heart."

Throughout the spring diplomacy was


it

busy, though

became every week more and more apparent


Lord
Stratford achieved,
'

that hostilities

were inevitable.

what Lord Cla'

rendon did not hesitate to term, a

great diplomatic triumph

when he won consent from the Porte to fresh terms in the interests of peace, which met with the approval, not only of England and France, but also of Austria and Prussia. The
Czar began at length to
realise the gravity of the situation
fifty

when

Austria

moved

in

February

thousand

frontier of the territory

which Russia had seized.


later,

men to When

the
the

Russian troops, a few months


pahties, Austria
in

evacuated the Princi-

and

Prussia,

whose alliance had been formed

defence of the interests of Germany, were no longer

directly

concerned in the quarrel.

land and France declared at

Thus the war which Engthe end of March against Russia


to pursue, with the help of

was one which they were


Turkey, alone.
short

left

Lord John Russell urged

that

it

should be

and sharp, and with characteristic promptitude sketched

out, with Lord Panmure's help, a plan of campaign.

He

urged that ten thousand

men

should at once be raised for

the Army, five thousand for the Navy, and that the services

of fifteen thousand
stress

more be added

to the Militia.

He

laid

on the importance of securing the active aid of


he thought that her co-operation might make the

Austria, for

difference between a long


1

and a short war.

He
p.

proposed

Life of Edzuard Miall, M.P., by A. Miall,

179.

R 2

244
that

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Sweden should be drawn
frontier.

into the AlHance, with the

view^ of striking

a blow at Russia in the North as well as

on her southern

He

also

proposed that English


at Constantinople,

and French troops should be massed and submitted a plan of operations


the Cabinet.

for the consideration of

Lord John knew


Secretary for

perfectly well

that radical changes

were imperative in the administration of the Army.

The
the

War

was, oddly enough.

Secretary

for

Colonies as well, and there was also a Secretary at War,

who

controlled the finances at the bidding of the

Com-

mander-in-Chief.

The Ordnance Department was under

one management, the Commissariat under another, whilst


the Militia
fell

within the province of a third, in the shape

of the

Home

Office.

Lord John Russell had seen enough

of the outcome of divided counsels in the Cabinet, and


insisted, in

emphatic terms, on the necessity of separating

the duties of the

War and

Colonial Departments, and of


the former post undisputed

giving the Minister


control over
It
all

who held

branches of the executive.

was perhaps an undesigned coincidence, but none

the less unfortunate, that the statesmen in the Aberdeen

Government who were


pugnance

directly

concerned with the war were

former colleagues of Sir Robert Peel.


to hostilities with Russia
fell

Lord Aberdeen's

re-

was so notorious that

the other Peelites in the Cabinet

under the suspicion of

apathy; and the nation, exasperated at the Czar's bombastic

language and high-handed action, was not

in the

mood

to

make
riend,
as

fine distinctions.

The Duke

of Newcastle and his


unjustly,
it

Mr. Sidney Herbert, were regarded, perhaps


;

lukewarm about the approaching campaign

but

was

upon the former

that the brunt of public censure ultimately

THE DUKE OF NEWCASTLE'S FAILURE


fell.

245

The Duke was

Secretary for

War and
tradition

the Colonies.
for

It

was an odd combination of


half a century.
in

offices

which had existed


is

more than
Colonies,
paratively

The

that

it

had

been brought about

order that the Secretary for the

who
little

at the

beginning of the century had com-

to do, but

who

possessed large patronage,

might use that patronage on behalf of deserving military men.


In the immediate prospect of
hostilities,
it

was

felt to

be

imperative that two posts of such responsibility should not

be held by the same Minister


the proposed change.
the early summer, and the

but the

Duke was

adverse to

It was,

however, brought about in


given his choice of the

Duke was

two posts.

He

decided to relinquish the Colonies, and


fell

thus the burden of the approaching conflict

upon him

by

his

own

deliberate act.

Sir

George Grey was appointed


of Newcastle's ambition out-

to the vacant office.

The Duke

stripped

his ability,

and the choice which he made was


Because

disastrous both to

himself and to the nation.

some men

are born great, they have greatness of another


;

kind thrust upon them


responsibility

and too often

it

happens that

makes

plain the lack of capacity,

which the

glamour neither of rank nor of place can long conceal.

The

Duke
more

of Newcastle was born to greatness

for in the middle


he certainly did

of the century the highest rank in the Peerage counted for


in politics than
it
it

does to-day

but

not achieve

as

War

Minister.
to relate here the

There
story

is

no need

more than
incidents

twice-told

of

the

Crimean

War.

Its
;

have been
late,

described by historians and soldiers


officers

and, of
its

gallant

who took
its

part in

it

have retraced
it is

course and

revived

memories.

In one sense

a glorious chapter
cir-

in the annals of the

Queen's reign, and yet there are

246

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


it

cumstances connected with

which every Enghshman,


forget.

worthy of the name, would gladly

Although the
its

nation did not take up arms with a light heart,

judgment
war since

was clouded by passion

and the

first

great

Waterloo caught the imagination of the people, especially


as

Lord Raglan, one of the old Peninsular heroes, was


of the

in

command
were not
crush the

Army

of Invasion.

England and France

satisfied

merely to blockade the Black Sea and


Russia.

commerce of

They determined
in the East,

to strike

at the heart of the Czar's

power
at

and therefore

the Allies

made
It

a dash

the great arsenal

and

fort

of

Sebastopol.

did not enter into their reckoning that there


siege.

might be a protracted
swift

What
allied

they anticipated was a

march, a sudden attack, and the capture of the strong-

hold by bombardment.
soldiers, 23,000

The

forces 25,000 English


in

French, and about 5,000 Turks -landed

the Crimea in September, 1854, and stormed the heights of


the

Alma on

the 20th of that month.

Then
that
this

they hesitated,

and their chance of reducing Sebastopol


*

autumn was lost.


war,' said
'

have been very slow to enter into


to

Lord
Yes,'

Aberdeen
out of

an alderman
retort,
'

at a

banquet
will

in the City.

was the brusque


it.'

and you

be equally slow to get

Divided counsels prevailed


the
Cabinet.
to
fail.

in the

camp

as well as in

Cholera attacked the troops, and stores


Prince
Menschikoff,
defeated
at

began

Alma,

seized the opportunity which the delay gave

him

to render
;

the harbour of Sebastopol impassable to hostile ships

and

General Todleben brought his

skill

as an engineer to the

task of strengthening by earthworks the fortifications of the

Russian stronghold.

The

Allies

made

the blunder of march-

ing on Sebastopol from the southern instead of the northern

BALACLAVA AND INKERMAN


side of the harbour,

247

and

this

gave time to the enemy to

receive strong reinforcements, with the result that 120,000

men were massed behind


lived rejoicings in

the Russian fortifications.

Mean-

while a rumour that Sebastopol had fallen awakened short-

England and France.

The

tidings were

contradicted in twenty-four hours, but most people thought,

on that exciting 3rd of October, that the war was


at

virtually

an end.

The Emperor Napoleon announced the imafor the

ginary victory of their comrades in arms to his assembled


troops.

Even Mr. Gladstone was deceived


is

moment,

and there

a letter of his in existence to one of the most


full

prominent of his colleagues,


result.

of congratulation at such

The

chagrin of the nation was great

when

it

learnt

that the Russians were not merely holding their own, but

were acting on the aggressive; whilst the disappointment was

quickened by the lack of vigour displayed by the Cabinet.

The

Allies fought,

on October

25, the glorious yet indecifor ever

sive battle of Balaclava,

which was

rendered memor-

able by the useless but superb charge of the Light Brigade.

Less than a fortnight

later,

on November

5,

the Russians
surprise.

renewed the

attack,

and took the English by

desperate hand-to-hand struggle against overwhelming odds

ensued.
troops,

Then
and the

the French
battle of

came

to the aid of the English

Inkerman was won.

As the winter approached, the positionof the Allies grew perilous, and it seemed likely that the plans of the invaders would miscarry, and the besieging Allies be reduced to the position of the besieged. Before the middle of November
winter set in with severity along the shores of the Black Sea,

and a hurricane raged, which destroyed the tents of the and wrecked more than a score of
ing
stores
ships,

troops,

which were carry-

of ammunition and

clothing.

As the winter

248

LORD JOHN RUSSELT,

advanced, with bleak winds and blinding snow, the shivering,


ill-fed soldiers

perished in ever-increasing numbers under the

twofold attack of privation and pestilence.

The Army had


summer, and,
last

been despatched to the Crimea


autumn, the brave fellows

in the

as

no one imagined that the campaign would


early

beyond the

in the trenches of Sebastopol

were called to confront the sudden descent of winter without


the necessary stores.
It

was then that the War Office awoke


crisis.

slowly to the terrible nature of the

Lord John Russell


dilatory action

had made his protest months before against the


of that department, and, though he

knew

that personal

odium
are

was sure to

follow,

endeavoured

at the

eleventh hour to
'

persuade Lord Aberdeen to take decisive action.


in the midst of a great war,'

We

were

his

words

to the

Premier

on November
efficiency,

17.

In order to carry on that war with

either the

Prime Minister must be constantly


strong enough to control other

urging, hastening, completing the military preparations, or

the Minister of
departments.'
of State for
that

War must be

He

went on to contend that the Secretary


to

War ought

be
to

in the

he ought, moreover,

be a

House of Commons, and man who carried weight in


to
its

that assembly,

and who brought

debates not only


'

vigour of

mind but experience of

military details.

There

is

only one person belonging to the Government,' added Lord

John,

'

who combines

these advantages.

My

conclusion

is

that before Parliament meets

Lord Palmerston should be

entrusted with the seals of the

War

Department.'

This was, of course, an unwelcome proposition to Lord


Aberdeen, and he met
it

with the declaration that no one

man

was competent to undertake the duties of Secretary of State


for

War and

those of Secretary at War.

He considered that

the latter appointment should be held in connection with

INCAPACITY IN HIGH PLACES

249

the finances of the Army, and in independence of the Secretary for the

Lord John repHed that either the Prime Minister must himself be the acting and moving spirit of the whole machine, or else the Secretary for War
must have delegated authority
to control other departments,'

War Department.

and added,

'

neither

is

the case under the present regime.^

Once more, nothing came of the protest, and, when Parliament met on December 12, to indulge in the luxury of dull debates and bitter personalities, the situation remained unchanged, in spite of the growing sense of disaster abroad and
incapacity at home..

The Duke
and
his

of Newcastle in the Lords

made

a lame defence,

monotonous and inconclusive


'

speech lasted for the space of three hours.

The House
the
cynical

went to sleep

after

the

first

half hour,' was

comment

of an Opposition peer.

As the year ended the

indignation in the country against the

Duke

of Newcastle

grew more and more pronounced, and he, in common with Lord Aberdeen, was thought in many quarters to be starving
the war.

The

truth was, the

Duke was

not strong enough

for the position,

and

if

he had gone

to the Colonial Office,

when that alternative was offered him, his reputation would not now be associated with the lamentable blunders which,
rightly or wrongly, are laid to his charge.
It is said that

he

once boasted that he had often kept out of mischief


who, he
frankly admitted,
that

men

were his superiors in

abihty.

However
failed, at

may be,

the

Duke

of Newcastle ignominiously

the great crisis in his public career, to keep out of

mischief

men who were

his subordinates in position, and,

in consequence, to arrest

the fatal

confusion which the

winter campaign
nation.

made on the miHtary resources of the Lord Hardinge, who on the death of the Duke of

Wellington had succeeded to the post of Commander-in-

250
Chief, assured

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Lord Malmesbury
in

January 1855 that the

Duke

of Newcastle had never consulted him on any subject

connected with the war.


that not a single despatch
fact,

He

added, with considerable heat,


to

had been submitted

him

in

he had been

left

to gather what the

War

Minister was

doing through the pubhshed statements in the newspapers.

The Duke

of Newcastle was a sensible, well-intentioned


to

man, but allowed himself

be involved

in the

manage-

ment of the details of his office, instead of originating a policy and directing the broad course of affairs with vigour
and determination.
during the
crisis

He

displayed a degree

of

industry

which

w^as

praiseworthy in

itself,

and quite

phenomenal
force

in the

most exalted branch of the Peerage, but


initiative,

he lacked the power of

and had not

sufficient

and decision of character

to choose the right

men

for

the emergency.

The Cabinet might


their

falter

and the War

Office dawdle, the

faith of the soldiers in the authorities

might be shaken and

hopes of personal succour be eclipsed, but the charity

of womanhood failed not to respond to the call of the suffering, or to

the

demands of

self-sacrifice.

Florence Nighther side in the

ingale,

and the nurses who laboured

at

hospital at Scutari not only soothed the dying

and nursed

the sick and wounded, but thrilled the heart of England by


their

modest heroism and patient devotion.


informed

Before Parliament met in December, Lord John Russell,


in despair of bringing matters to a practical issue,
his colleagues that,

though he was

w^illing to

remain in the
short

Cabinet, and to act as Leader of the


session before Christmas,
it

House during the

was

his intention to relinquish

office at the close of the year.

The
him

objection w^as raised

that

it

was unconstitutional

for

to

meet Parliament

in

LORD LANSDOWNE AS PEACEMAKER


a
responsible
position
if

25
fixed

he had arrived

at

this

but unannounced resolution.

He met

this expression of

opinion by requesting Lord Aberdeen to submit his resignation to the

Queen on December 7. The correspondence between Lord Lansdowne and Lord John, and the important memorandum which the latter drew up on December 30,
for themselves.^

which Mr. Walpole has printed, speak


will

It

be seen that Lord John once more insisted that the

Secretary of State for the


ately to

War Department ought immediall

be invested with

the

more important functions


and he again
the
laid
crisis that

hitherto exercised by the Secretary at War,


stress

War Minister should be a member of the House of Commons. He complained that, though he was responsible in the Commons,
on the necessity
in

such a

Lord Aberdeen did not


alone could enable a
the

treat

him with the confidence which


to carry

Leader of the House

on

business

of

the

Government with
to

satisfaction.

He

declared that Lord Grey treated Lord Althorp in a different


fashion,

and

that

Lord Melbourne,
that

bring the matter

nearer home, had shown greater consideration towards himself.

He

added

he

felt

absolved from the duty of

defending acts and appointments upon which he had not

been consulted.

Lord Lansdowne succeeded

for the
it

moment

in

patching

up an

unsatisfactory peace, but

was becoming every day

more and more obvious that the Aberdeen Government was doomed. The memorandum which Lord John drew
up, at the suggestion of

Lord

Lansdowne, describes
which was

in

pithy and direct terms the privations of the soldiers, and

the mortality amongst

men and

horses,

directly

due
'

to

hunger and neglect.

He

shows that between the


ii.

Life of Lord JoJut Russell, by Spencer Walpole, vol.

232-235.

252

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

end of September and the middle of November there was


at least six

weeks when
at

all

kinds of supplies might have

been landed
stores

Balaclava,

and he points out


carried seven

that

the

only needed to be
the

or

eight miles

to reach

most distant division of the Army.


cannot

He

protested that there had been great mismanagement, and

added:

'Soldiers

fight

unless they are well fed.'

He

stated that he understood


at the

Lord Raglan had written


that, if the

home

beginning of October to say

Army

was to remain on the heights during the winter, huts would


be required, since the barren position which they held did
not furnish

wood

to

make them.

Nearly three months had,


its

however, passed, and winter in


settled

most

terrible

form had

on the Crimea, and yet the huts

still

appeared not to

have reached the troops, though the French had done their
best to

make good
'

the discreditable

breakdown of our com'

missariat.

There appears,' concludes Lord John,


the different
there
is

a want

of concert

among

departments.

When

the
to

Navy forward supplies, when the receive them


;

no

military authority

military wish to unload a ship, they


it

find that the

naval authority has already ordered


Sir

away.

Lord Raglan and

Edmund Lyons
mode

should be asked to

concert between them the

of remedying this defect.

Neither can see with his own eyes to the performance of


all

the subordinate duties, but they can choose the best

men

to

do

it,

and arm them with

sufficient authority.

For on the

due performance of these subordinate duties hangs the welLord Raglan should also be informed fare of the Army.
exactly of the

amount
all

of reinforcements ordered to the

Crimea, and at what time he


furnished
the

may

expect them.

Having
entitled

him with

the force in

men and

material which
is

Government can send him, the Government

A FRANK STATEMENT
to expect

253
what can be
efficiency

from him

in return his opinion as to

done by the alhed armies

to restore

the strength and

of the armies for the next campaign.


first

Probably the troops

sent over will require four months' rest before they will

be able to move against an enemy.'


however, to have
its

Procrastination was,
chilled

perfect work,

and Lord John,

and indignant, told Lord Aberdeen on January


Cabinets.
see
this

3 that nothing

could be less satisfactory than the result of the recent


'

Unless,' he added,

'

you

will direct

measures,
;
'

no

hope for the efficient prosecution of the war


it

for

by

time

was perfectly

useless,

he saw, to urge on Lord

Aberdeen the claims of Lord Palmerston.


254

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

CHAPTER

XII

THE VIENNA DIFFICULTY


1855
Blunders at

home and abroad


'

turns traitor

France and the Crimea Lord John


is

Roebuck

motion
visit

'

General Fevrier
at

Vienna

pride of the nation

touched
fall

John's retirement The

Napoleon's to Windsor Lord of Sebastopol The Treaty of Paris.


23,

The

Parliament met on January


tion at once

and the general indignaand Tories


before

found expression in Mr. Roebuck's motion

the notice of which was cheered by Radicals


alike

to

'

inquire into the condition of our

Army

Sebastopol, and into the conduct of those Departments of

Government whose duty it has been wants of that Army.' Lord John, in view
the

to minister to the

of the blunders at a motion was to


his

home and
be

abroad, did not see

how such

resisted,

and
His

at

once

tendered to

Lord Aberdeen

resignation.

protests,

pointed and energetic though

they had been, had met with no practical response.


the reasonable request that the the

Even

War

Minister should be in

Commons

to defend his

heeded.

Peelites, like Sir

own department had passed unJames Graham and Mr. Sidney


in

Herbert, might
felt

make

the best of a bad case, but Lord John

that

he could not honestly defend


Doubtless

Parliament a course
in the for

of action which he

had again and again attacked


it

Cabinet.

would have been better both

roebuck's motion
himself and for his colleagues
earlier intention of resigning
this juncture
;

255

if

he had adhered to his


his dramatic retreat at

and

unquestionably gave a handle to his adversaries.


conscientious motives, sudden
all

Though prompted by
in

flight,

the face of what was, to

intents

and purposes, a
unnaturally, such

vote of censure, was a grave mistake.

Not

a step was

regarded as a bid for personal power at the


It certainly

expense of his colleagues.


in a

placed the Cabinet


easy to understand
led those

most embarrassing
it

position,

and

it is

the irritation which

awakened.

In

fact, it

who

were determined to put the worst possible construction on

Lord John's action of responsibility and

to hint that

he wished to

rid himself

to stand clear of his colleagues, so that

when
office

the nation grew tired of the war he might return to

and make peace.


truth.

Nothing could well have been further


certainly inopportune
it is

from the

Lord John's retirement was


is

but

it

almost needless to add

now that
life.

possible to review his

whole career, as well as


this crisis in
spirit.
it

all

the circumstances which

marked

that

he was not actuated by a self-seeking


in after

Looking back
at the

Lord John frankly admitted


under Lord
it.

that he

had committed an

error in resigning office

Aberdeen

time and in the manner in which he did

He

qualified this confession, however,

by declaring that he

had committed a much greater

error in agreeing to serve


:

under Lord Aberdeen as Prime Minister

'

had served
I

under Lord Grey and Lord Melbourne before

became

Prime Minister, and

served under Lord Palmerston after I

had been Prime Minister.


find

In no one of these cases did


proverbially said, "

any

difficulty in allying

subordination with due counsel


it

and co-operation.
there
is

But, as
is

is

Where

a will there

a way," so in political affairs the con-


256
verse
is

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


true, "

Where

there

is

no

will there is

no way."

'

He
'

explained his position in a personal statement in the


of

House
I

Commons on
to

the night of Mr. Roebuck's motion.


I

had
"

consider whether

could

fairly

and honestly

say,

It is true that evils

have

arisen.

It is true that

the brave

men who

fought at the Alma, at Inkerman, and at Balaclava

are perishing,

many

of them from neglect

it

is

true that

the heart of the whole of England throbs with anxiety and

sympathy on

this subject

but

can

tell

you that such


such vigour

arrangements have been made

that a man of
War

and

efficiency has taken the

conduct of the

War Department,
Offices

with such a consolidation of offices as to enable him to have


the entire control of the whole of the

so
to

that

any supply may be immediately furnished, and any abuse I felt I could not honestly make such a instantly remedied."
declaration
;

I therefore felt that I

could

come only

one

conclusion,

and that

as I could not resist inquiry


I

by giving
it

the only assurances which

thought sufficient to prevent

my

duty was not to remain any longer a

member

of the

Government.'

In the course of a powerful speech Lord


that

John added
his

he would always look back with pride on


with

association

many measures

of the Aberdeen
financial

Government, and more particularly with the great

scheme which Mr. Gladstone brought forward in 1853. He refused to admit that the Whigs were an exclusive
party,

and he thought

that such an idea


to serve in a

was refuted by the

fact

that they
'

had consented

CoaHtion Government.
I

I believe that

opinion to have been unjust, and

think that

the

Whig

party during the last two years have fully justified


-

the opinion I entertained.


of

I will

venture to say that no set

men

ever behaved with greater honour or with

more

dis-

interested patriotism than those

who have supported

the

OPEN CONFESSION
Government
it

257

of the Earl of Aberdeen.

It is

will ever"

be

my

pride to the last day of


I consider,

my pride, and my life, to have


constant en-

belonged to a party which, as


principles of freedom
;

upholds the true

and

it

will ever

be

my

deavour to preserve the principles and to tread in the


paths which the

Whig

party have laid

down for the guidance

of their conduct.'

the gravity

Lord John made no attempt to disguise of the crisis, and the following admission might
'
:

almost be said to have sealed the fate of the Ministry

Sir, I

must say that there


ledge to which
I

is

something, with

all

the

official
is

knowreason

have had access, that


If I

to

me

inexplicable

in the state of our army.

had been
Crimea
be

told, as a

against the expedition to the

last

year, that

your

troops would be seven miles from the sea, and that

at that

seven miles' distance


clothing,

they would

in

want of food, of

and of

shelter to such a degree that they

would

perish at the rate of from ninety to a hundred a day, I should

have considered such a prediction as utterly preposterous,

and such a picture of the expedition


absurd.

as entirely fanciful

and

We

are

all,

however, forced to confess the notoriety

of that melancholy state of things.' a protracted


carried in a

Three days

later, after

and heated debate, Mr. Roebuck's motion was

of 157.

'

House of 453 members by the sweeping majority Some The division was curious,' wrote Greville.
'

seventy or eighty Whigs, ordinary supporters of Government,

voted against them, and


seven.'

all

the Tories except about six or


either of
fol-

There was no mistaking the mandate

Parliament or of the people.


lowing day went

Lord Aberdeen on the

down

to

Windsor and
collapsed,

laid his resignation

before the Queen,

and

in this sorry fashion the Coalition

Government ignominiously

with hardly an

ex-

pression of regret and scarcely a claim to remembrance.


"

'

258

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


choice
fell

The Queen's
to

upon Lord Derby, but

his efforts

form an Administration proved unavailing.

Lord Lans-

downe was next summoned, and he suggested that Lord John


Russell should be sent
for,

but in his case, also, sufficient


In the end

promises of support were not forthcoming.

Her Majesty acquiesced

in the strongly-expressed wish of

the nation, and Lord Palmerston was called to power on

February 5. For the moment Lord John was out of office, and Lord Panmure took the place of the Duke of Newcastle
as

War

Minister, but

all

the other

members

of the defeated

Administration, except, of course, Lord Aberdeen, entered

new Cabinet. Lord Palmerston knew the feeling of the country, and was not afraid to face it, and, therefore, dethe

termined to accept Mr. Roebuck's proposals for a searching


investigation of the circumstances

which had attended the

conduct of the war.

Loyalty to their late chief, as well as

to their former colleague, the

Duke

of Newcastle, led Sir

James Graham, Mr. Sidney Herbert, Mr. Gladstone, and other Peelites to resign. Lord John, urged by Lord
Palmerston,

became

Colonial

Secretary.

Palmerston

shared Lord Clarendon's view that no Government calling


itself

Liberal

had a chance of standing without Lord John.


Sir

Sir G. C.

Lewis succeeded Mr. Gladstone as Chancellor of


Charles

the

Exchequer, and

Wood

took Sir James

Graham's vacant place

at the Admiralty.
fol-

Changes of a more momentous character quickly


lowed.
of the Allies reached

Early in the winter, when tidings of the sufferings


St.

Petersburg, the

Emperor Nicholas
Fevrier

declared, with grim humour, that there were two generals

who
tions

were about to

fight for

him,

'

Janvier et

but the opening month of the year brought terrible privato

the

Russian

reinforcements

as

they

struggled

'GENERAL F^VRIER TURNS TRAITOR


painfully along the rough winter roads
to the Crimea.

'

259

on the long march

The Czar

lost

a quarter of a million of
vast

men

before the war ended,

and a

number

of

them

fell

before the cold or the pestilence.

Omar Pasha

defeated

the Russian troops at Eupatoria in the middle of February.

The

fact that

his

troops had been repulsed by the hated


to the quick,

Turks touched the pride of Nicholas

and

is

believed to have brought on the fatal illness which seized

him a few days later. On February 27, just after the Emperor had left the parade-ground on which he had been reviewing his troops, he was struck down by paralysis, and,
after lingering in a hopeless

condition for a day or two,

died a baffled and disappointed man.


situation

The
'

irony of the

was reflected with sombre and dramatic reahsm in


Punch.'
It

a political cartoon which appeared in

repre-

sented a skeleton in armour, laying an icy hand, amid the


falling

snow, on the prostrate Czar's heart.

The

picture

in

one of the most powerful that has ever appeared, even


this

remarkable mirror of the times

was entitled,

'

General

Fevrier turned Traitor,'peror's cruel boast,


'

and underneath was the dead EmPrior to the resig-

Russia has two generals on whom she can

confide nation

Generals Janvier and Fevrier.'


of the
Peelites

the

second Congress of Vienna


it

assembled, and Lord John Russell attended


tentiary for

as a plenipo-

England

and France,

Austria,
'

Turkey, and
'

Russia were also represented.

The

four points

which

formed the basis of the negotiations were that Russia should

abandon
that the

all

control over Moldavia, Wallachia,

and Servia

new

Czar, Alexander

IL, should surrender his


the

claim
all

to

command

the

entrance of

Danube

that

treaties

should be annulled which gave Russia supre-

macy

in the

Black Sea

and

that she should dismiss her


s

26o
pretensions to

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


an exclusive right to protect in her own

fashion the Christians in the

Ottoman Empire.
to this

Nicholas,

though
peace,

at

one time favourable


fell

scheme

as a basis of that

eventually

back

on the assertion
his naval

he
in

would not consent


the Black Sea.

to

any limitation of

power

Though

the parleyings at Vienna after his


difficulty asserted itself again,

death were protracted, the old

with the result that the second Congress proved, as spring

gave way to summer, as

futile as

the

first.

Although subjects which

vitally

affected the Turkish

Empire were under consideration, the Turkish Ambassador


at

Vienna had received anything but

explicit directions,

and

Lord John was forced to the conclusion


were not regarded as serious
had, in Mr. Spencer Walpole's words,

that the negotiations

at Constantinople.
'

Indeed, he

reason to suspect that


to the

the absence of a properly credited

Turk was not due


^

dilatory character of the Porte alone but to the perverse

action of

Lord

Stratford de Redcliffe.'

Lord Clarendon
Constan-

did not hesitate to declare that Lord Stratford was inclined


to thwart
tinople,

any business which was not carried on

in

and the English Ambassador kept neither Lord


Vienna
nor
the

John

in

the

Cabinet in
the

Downing

Street

acquainted with
declared

views of

Porte.

Lord John
from
affairs

that the Turkish representative at Vienna,

whom
own

he expected information about the


'

of his

country, was

by nature incompetent, and by instruc-

tion silent.'

Two

schemes, in regard to the point which was

chiefly in dispute,

were before the Congress


:

they are best


limitation,

stated in

Lord John's own words

One, called

proposed that only four ships of the line should be maintained in the Black Sea by Russia, and two each by the
'

Life of Lord John Russell, vol.

ii.

p.

251,

COUNT BUOL'S COMPROMISE


allies

26

of Turkey.

The

other mode, proposed by

M. Drouyn

de LhuySj contemplated a much further reduction of force

namely, to eight or ten light vessels, intended solely to protect

commerce from
bottom of the

pirates

and perform the police of the


fleet

coast.'

Although a great part of the Russian


sea,

was

at the

and the

rest of

it

hemmed

in in

the harbour of Sebastopol, Prince Gortschakoff announced,

with the air of a

man who was

master of the situation, that

the Czar entirely refused to limit his power in the Euxine.

At

this

juncture Count Buol proposed a compromise,

to the effect that

Russia should maintain in the Black Sea

a naval force not greater than that which she had had at

her

disposal

there

before the outbreak of the war


this limitation

that

any attempt to evade


as

should be interpreted

casus

belli^

by

France,
triple

England,

and

Austria,

which were to form a


the
integrity

treaty of alliance to

defend
case of

and independence

of Turkey

in

aggression.

Lord Palmerston

believed, to borrow his

own
Lord

phrase, that Austria


that

was playing a treacherous game, but


at

was not the opinion

the

moment

either of

John Russell or of M. Drouyn de Lhuys.


to

They appear

have thought that the

league of Austria with England

and France
a sufficient

upon Turkey would prove check on Russian ambition, and did not lay stress
to resist aggression
at

enough on the objections, which


selves both in

once suggested themPrince Consort put


:

London and

Paris.

The

The make war when the Russian armaments should appear to have become excessive is ot no kind of value to the belligerents, who do not wish to establish a case for which to make war hereafter, but to
'

the case against Count Buol's scheme in a nutshell

proposal of Austria to engage to

obtain a security

upon which they can conclude peace now.'

262
Lord John

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Russell, in a confidential interview with

Count
the
It

Buol, declared that he was prepared to

recommend
proposals.

English Cabinet

to

accept the Austrian

seemed

to

him

that, if

Russia was willing to accept the comattitude which

promise and

to

abandon the

had led

to the

war, the presence of the Allies in the


justifiable.

Crimea was scarcely


view,

M. Drouyn de Lhuys took the same


which seemed
to

and

both plenipotentiaries hastened back to urge acquiescence


in proposals

promise the termination of a

war

in

which, with httle result, blood and treasure had

already been lavishly expended.

Lord Palmerston and


popular sentiment,
refused
fleet in

I^ord
to

Clarendon,
in

backed

by

see

Russia's

stubborn

demand about
petual

her
to

the Black Sea other than a per-

menace

Turkey.

They argued

that

England had
Napoleon
France

made

too heavy a sacrifice to patch up in this fashion an

inglorious

and doubtful peace.

The

attitude of

in. did more than anything

else to

confirm this decision.


as popular in

The war
as
it

in the in

Crimea had never been

was

England.

The
by

throne which Napoleon had


military success,

seized could only be kept

and there

is

no doubt whatever
of a campaign,

that personal ambition,

and the

prestige

with England for a companion-in-arms,

determined the despatch of French troops to the Crimea.

On
his

his return.

Lord John

at

once saw the

difficulty in

which
of

colleagues were landed.


if

The

internal

tranquility

France was imperilled


doned.
to us the
'

the siege of Sebastopol was aban'

The Emperor
most

of the French,' he wrote,

had been

faithful ally

or ruled the destinies of

who had ever wielded the sceptre France. Was it possible for the

English Government to leave the Emperor to fight unaided


the battle of Europe, or to force him to join us in a peace

.PRESSURE FROM PALMERSTON


which would have sunk
his his reputation with his

263

army and
seemed

people?'

He

added,

that this consideration

to

him

so weighty that he ceased to urge

on Lord Palmerterms,

ston the

acceptance

of

the

Austrian
in

and Lord

Clarendon therefore sent a reply

which Count Buol's

proposals were rejected by the Cabinet.


laid great stress

Lord Palmerston
in his ministry,

on Lord John's presence

and Mr. Walpole has shown


to

that the latter only consented

withdraw

his resignation after not

merely an urgent, but

a thrice-repeated personal request from the Premier.

He
ston's
it

ought unquestionably,

at all hazards to

Lord Palmer-

Government, to have refused to remain a member of


his colleagues intimated that they

when

were not in a

position to accept his view of the situation without giving

mortal offence to the Emperor of the French.

Under

the

circumstances, Lord Palmerston ought not to have put the


pressure on
shield

Lord John. The latter stayed in order to the Government from overthrow by a combined

Radical and Tory attack at a

moment when Palmerston


France and

was compelled to study the

susceptibilities of

Napoleon IIL's
published
letter,

fears

concerning his throne.

There

is

written

by the Prince Consort

at this junc-

ture to his brother the


light

on the

situation.

Duke of Saxe-Coburg, which throws The Prince hints that the prospects
had become more hopeful,
just
turn.
at

of the Allies in the Crimea


as diplomatic affairs at

Vienna had taken an awkward


'

He
last

states that

in

General Pelissier the French

have

a leader

will

who is determined and enterprising, and who once more raise the spirit of the army, which has sunk

through Canrobert's mildness.'


troops
'

He

adds that the English


arms, and their

are again thirty

thousand men under

spirit is excellent.

At home, however, Gladstone and the

264
Peelites are taking

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


up the cry
for peace,

and declaring themwar


;

selves against all further continuation of the

whilst

Lord Derby and the Protectionists are all for making common cause with Layard and others, in order to overthrow
Palmerston's
Prince,
Ministry.'
Disraeli,

significantly

adds the

has been 'chiefly endeavouring to injure' Lord

John

Russell.
Disraeli introduced a

Towards the end of May, Mr.


resolution

condemning the conduct of the Government,


at

and calhng attention to Lord John Russell's attitude


the

Vienna
but

Conference.

Lord John

had

fulfilled

the

promise which he had given to Count Buol before leaving

Vienna

Lord Palmerston was determined


and
therefore, as a

to

main-

tain the alliance with France,

member

of his Government,

Lord John's

lips

were sealed when he

rose to defend himself.

He

stated in a powerful speech the

reasons which had led to the failure of the Conference, and

ended without any


his

allusion to

the Austrian proposals


Irritated at the

or

own

action in regard to them.

new turn

of

affairs.

Count Buol disclosed what had passed behind the


his

scenes in Vienna, and Lord John found himself compelled


to

explain

explanations.

He

declared that he had

believed before leaving Vienna that the Austrian scheme

held out the promise of peace, and, with this conviction in


his

mind, he had on his return to London immediately


its

advised
free,

acceptance by Lord Palmerston.

He

was not

of course, to state with equal frankness the true reason


rejection
fall

of

its

pelled to

by the Cabinet, and therefore was comback on the somewhat lame plea that it had
disallowed by his colleagues.
it

been

fully

considered and
felt,

Moreover he

as a plenipotentiary,

was

his

duty to

submit to the Government which had sent him to Vienna,

AN EMBARRASSING POSITION
and
as a

265
duty

member

of the Cabinet

it

was not

less his

to yield to the decision of the majority of his colleagues.

Lord John's explanations were not deemed

satisfactory.

He

was

in the position of a

man who

could only defend

himself and

make

his motives plain to Parliament

and the

country by statements which would have embarrassed his

and have shattered the French alliance at a moment when, not so much on national as on international grounds, it seemed imperative that it should be sustained.
colleagues

The
was

attacks in

the

Press were
in

bitter

and envenomed
it

and when Lord John,


his

July,

told

Lord Palmerston

intention

to

retire,

the latter admitted with an

expression of great regret that the storm was too strong


to

be

resisted, though,
prevail.'

he added,

'juster feelings will in

due time

A few
speech,

days later Lord John, in a calm


anticipated
Sir

and
his

impressive

E.

B.

Lytton's

hostile

motion on the Vienna Conference by announcing


to

intention

the

House.

Though he
on

still

felt

in

honour obliged

to say nothing

the real cause of his

withdrawal, his dignified


its

attitude
all

on that occasion made

own

impression,
to

and

the

more because of the


at

sweeping abuse
posed.
It

which he was

the

moment

ex-

was of
it

this

speech that Sir George Cornewall

Lewis said that

was listened to with attention and respect

by an audience partly hostile and partly prejudiced. He declared that he was convinced it would go far to remove the
imputations, founded on error and misrepresentation, under

which Lord John laboured.


which, though
'

He

added, with a generosity


at

characteristic,

was rare

that juncture

I shall

be

much surprised if,


come

after a little

time and a

little re-

flection,

persons do not

to the conclusion that never was


its

so small a matter magnified beyond

true porportions.'

266

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

Within twenty-four hours of his resignation Lord John

had an opportunity of showing that he bore no mahce Mr. Roebuck, with charactertowards former colleagues.
istic

denunciations, attacked the

Government on the damagreport of the Sebastopol


in severe

ing statements contained in the

Committee.
terms every

He

proposed a motion censuring

member

of the Cabinet whose counsels had led

to such disastrous results.

Whatever construction might


affairs in

be placed on Lord John's conduct of


at least

Vienna, he

could not be charged

with,

lukewarmness or apathy

in regard to the administration of the

army and the


irritated

prose-

cution

of

the

war.

He

had,

in fact,

Lord

Aberdeen and the Duke

of Newcastle

by

insisting again

and again on the necessity of undivided control of the military departments, and on the need of a complete
reorganisation of the commissariat.

less

magnanimous
his

man would have

seized the opportunity of this renewed

attack to declare that he, at least,

had done

best at

great personal cost to prevent the deplorable confusion

and
dis-

collapse which

had overtaken the War

Office.

He

dained, however, the

mean
'

personal motive, and made, what

Lord Granville

called, a

magnificent speech,' in which he

declared that every

member

without exception remained

responsible for the consequences which had overtaken the

Expedition to the Crimea,

Mr. Kinglake once asserted

that,

though Lord John Russell was capable of coming to a bold,


abrupt,

and hasty

decision,
to

not duly concerted with

men
in

whose opinions he ought

have weighed, no statesman

Europe surpassed him on the score of courage or high public spirit. The chivalry which he displayed in coming
to the help of the

Government on the morrow of

his

own

almost compulsory retirement from

office w^as typical of a

WARLIKE COUNSELS PREVAIL


man who made many
when wounded to
nation.

267

mistakes, but was never guilty, even

the quick, of gratifying the passing resentat the

ments of the hour

expense of the interests of the

During the summer of 1855 the feehng of the country


grew more and more warhke.
tions at
visit in

The

failure of the negotia-

Vienna had touched the national

pride.

The

State

the spring to the English Court of the

Emperor
his troops

Napoleon, and his determination not to withdraw

from the Crimea


rekindled
its

until

some

decisive victory was won,

had

enthusiasm.

The
declared

repulse

at

the

Redan,

the death of Lord Raglan, and the vainglorious boast of

Prince Gortschakoff,

who

'

that the

hour was

at

hand when the pride of the enemies of Russia would be lowered, and their armies swept from our soil like chaff
blown away by the wind,' rendered
solution impossible,
all

dreams of diplomatic
in spite

and made England,

of the

preachers of peace at any price, determined to push forward

her quarrel to the bitter end.

The
war

nation, to borrow the

phrase of one of the shrewdest political students of the time,

had now begun

to consider the

in the

Crimea as a duel
'

with Russia,' and pride and pluck were more than ever
called into play, both at

The

war, therefore,

home and abroad, in its maintenance. took its course. Ample supplies and
of

reinforcements were despatched to the troops, and the Allies,

under the
Pelissier,

command

General Simpson

and General and on August


with the
a sortie

pushed forward the campaign with renewed vigour.

Sardinia

and Sweden had joined the

alliance,

16 the troops of the former, acting in concert

French, drove back the Russians,


along
the
valley

who had made


After a

of

the

Tchernaya.

month's

bombardment by the

Allies, the Malakoff, a

redoubt which

268

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Sebastopol, was taken by the French
;

commanded

but the

EngHsh troops were twice repulsed in their attack on the Redan. Gortschakoff and Todleben were no longer able to
withstand the fierce and daily renewed bombardment.
forts

The

on the south side were,

therefore,

blown up, the ships

were sunk, and the army which had gallantly defended the
place retired to a position of greater security with the result
that Sebastopol
over.
Sir
fell

on September

8,

and the war was

virtually
fact

Evelyn

Wood

lately

drew attention to the

that forty out of every hundred of the soldiers

who

served

before Sebastopol in the depth of that terrible winter of

1854

lie

there, or in the Scutari

cemetery

slain,

not by the

sword, but by privation, exposure, disease, and exertions

beyond human endurance.


France was clamouring
for

peace,

and Napoleon was

determined not to prolong the struggle now that his troops

had come out of the


Russia, on her part,

siege of Sebastopol with flying colours.

had wellnigh exhausted her resources.

Up

to the death of the

nearly a quarter of a

Emperor Nicholas, she had lost million of men, and six months later,
and so
insidious the pestilence,

so great was the carnage


that even that

ominous number was doubled.

The

loss of

the Allies in the Crimean war was upwards of eighty-seven

thousand men, and more than two-thirds of the


France.

slain fell to

Apart from bloodshed, anguish, and pain, the

Crimean war
the

bequeathed

to

England

an

increase

of

41,000,000/. in the National Debt.


tures
for

No wonder

that over-

cessation

of hostilities
at the

now met

with

welcome which had been denied


on March
30, 1856.

Vienna Conference.

After various negotiations, the Peace of Paris was signed

Russia was compelled to relinquish

her control over the

Danube and her

protectorate over the

ALL FOR NAUGHT


Principalities,

269
on
all

and was

also forbidden to build arsenals

the shores of the Black Sea, which was declared open to


ships of

commerce, but closed

to all ships of war.

Turkey,

on the other hand, confirmed, on paper


leges

at least, the priviin in

proclaimed in
;

1839 to Christians resident


massacres at Damascus,

the

Ottoman Empire
Lebanon, and

but

the

later in Bulgaria,

and recently
Sea came

in

Armenia,

have followed in dismal sequence in spite of the Treaty of


Paris.

The

neutrality of the Black

to an

end a
blood

quarter of a century ago,


great even at the outset

and the
w^ar

substantial gains

never
have

of a

which was costly

in

and treasure have grown small by degrees


almost reached the vanishing point.

until they


2/0

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

CHAPTER

XIII

LITERATURE AND EDUCATION

Lord John's position


of
his

in

1855 -His constituency in the City

work

in

literature

As

man

of letters

His

Survey
historical

writings

Hero-worship

of

the biography of the poet


tributed to

Fox 'Don

Friendship with INIoore Writes


Carlos'

A
his

him Publishes

his 'Recollections

book wrongly atand Suggestions'

An
The way

opinion of Kinglake's

Lord

John on

own

career

John and National Schools

Joseph Lancaster's tentative

efforts

Lord
the

formation of the Council of Education

Prejudice blocks

Mr.

Forstcr's tribute.

Men
Duke

talked

Russell's

autumn of 1855 as if Lord John retirement was final, and even his brother, the
in

the

of Bedford, considered

it

probable that his career as

a responsible statesman was closed.

His health had always


sixty-

been more or
three. years,

less delicate,

and he was now a man of

He

had been

in

Parliament for upwards of forty

and nearly a quarter of a century had passed since


evil-

he bore the brunt of the wrath and clamour and


speaking of the Tories at the epoch of Reform.

He had

been leader of his party

for a long

term of

difficult years,

and Prime Minister for the space of six, and in that capacity had left on the statute book an impressive record
of his
zeal

on behalf of

civil

and

religious liberty.

No
spite

statesman of the period had


of
*

won more

distinction

gross blunders,' which he

himself in so

many words

OUT OF OFFICE
admitted.

2J\

He

was certainly entitled


for

to rest

on

his laurels

but

it

was nonsense

anyone

to

suppose that the anithe Ritualists^ or

mosity of the

Irish, or the indignation of

the general chagrin at the collapse


for

under
a

circumstances

which Lord John was by no means alone responsible

of

the Vienna Conference, could

condemn
Street.

man

of so

much

energy and courage, as well as political prescience, to perpetual banishment from

Downing

There were people who thought that Lord John was played
out in 1855, and there were
so, for

many more who wished


to

to think

he was feared by the incompetent and apathetic of his


as well as

own party,
him
in

by those who had occasion

reckon with

honourable but strenuous pohtical


life

conflict.

The

great

mistake of his

was not the Durham Letter, which has


needless bitterness of tone, by
It

been

justified, in spite of its

the inexorable logic of accomplished events.


his attitude towards Ireland in the dark

was not

years of famine,

which was
is

in reality far

more temperate and generous than


It

commonly supposed.
for,

was not his action over the


that the facts are

Vienna Conference,

now

known,

his

reticence in self-defence, under the railing accusations which

were brought against him, was magnanimous and

patriotic.

The

truth

is.

Lord John Russell placed himself by consenting


to accept

in a false

position

when he
Peelites

yielded to the importunity of the Court


office

and the

under Lord
his best to

Aberdeen.

The Crimean War, which he did

prevent, only threw into the rehef of red letters against a

dark sky the radical divergence of opinion which existed in


the Coalition Government.

For nearly four years

after his retirement


political

from

office-

Lord John held an independent


there
is

position,
to

and
full

evidence enough that he enjoyed

the

2/2
this

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


respite

from the cares of responsibihty.

He

gave up

his

house

in town,
last of

and the quidnuncs thought

that they

had seen the

him

as a Minister of the

Crown, whilst

the merchants and the stockbrokers of the City were sup-

posed to scout his name, and to be ready to


heel against

lift

up

their

him

at the next election.

Meanwhile, Lord John studied to be

quiet,

and succeeded.

He

visited country-houses,

and proved a

delightful as well as

a delighted guest.

He
final

travelled abroad,

and came back

with

He
'

new political pubhshed the

ideas about the trend in foreign politics.

volume of

his

'

Memoirs and Corre-

spondence of Thomas Moore,' and busied himself over his Life and Times of Charles James Fox,' and other congenial literary tasks.

He

appeared on the platform and

addressed four thousand persons in Exeter Hall, in connection with the

Young Men's
went down

Christian Association, on the

causes which had retarded moral and political progress in


the nation.

He

to Stroud,

and gave

his old
history.

constituents a philosophic address on the study of

He

spoke

at the first

meeting of the Social Science Conat Liver-

gress at pool,

Birmingham, presided over the second

and

raised in Parliament the questions of National


affairs

Education, Jewish DisabiHties, the

of Italy, besides

taking part, as an independent, supporter of Lord Palmerston, in the controversies

which arose from time

to time in the

House

of

Commons.

His return

to office

grew inevitable
integrity

in the light of the force of his character

and the

of his aims.
It
is,

of course, impossible in the scope of this volume to

describe at any length Lord John Russell's contributions


to literature, even
in

outside the range of letters and articles


that almost forgotten

the press

and

weapon of con-

LITERARY WORK
troversy, the political pamphlet.

2/3
to age

From youth

Lord

John not merely possessed the pen of a ready writer, but employed it freely in history, biography, criticism, belleslettres^

and
III.

verse.

His

first

book was published when


appeared when almost

George
forty

was King, and

his last

years of

Queen

Victoria's reign

had elapsed.

The

Liverpool Administration was in power

when

his biography

of his famous ancestor, William, Lord Russell, appeared, and


that of Mr. Disraeli

when

the veteran statesman took the


'

world into his confidence with


tions.'
It is

Recollections and Sugges-

amusing now

to recall the fact that

two years

after the battle of

Waterloo Lord John Russell feared that


strain of a political career,
'

he could never stand the

and
was

Tom

Moore's well-known poetical

Remonstrance
at that

'

called forth

by the young Whig's intention


for the study.

time to
Grey's

abandon the Senate

When Lord

Ministry was formed in 1830 to carry Reform, Lord John

was the author of several books, grave and gay, and had

been seventeen years

in Parliament,

winning already a conits walls.

siderable reputation within

and without
it is

It

was a

surprise at the moment, and

not even yet quite clear

why
has

Russell was excluded from the Cabinet.


left

Mr. Disraeli
:

on record

his interpretation of the


letters,

mystery
it

Lord

John Russell was a man of


opinion that a

and

is

common
is

man

cannot at the same time be successful


If this surmise
correct,

both in meditation and in action.'

Lord John's fondness

for printer's ink

kept him out of

Downing Street until he made by force his merit known as a champion of popular rights in the House of Commons.
Literature
tributions

often claimed his pen,


in

for,

besides

many
to

consay

prose

and

verse
still

to

periodicals,
in

nothing of writings which

remain

manuscript and

274

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


pubhshed about

prefaces to the books of other people, he

twenty works, great and small.


where.

Yet, his strength lay else-

His

literary pursuits,

with scarcely an exception, represent

his hours of relaxation


relief

and the manner


State.

in

which he sought
'

from the cares of


Russell,'

In the pages of William,


political

Lord

which was published in 1819, when


all

corruption was supreme and social progress


sible,

but impos-

Lord John gave

forth

no uncertain sound.
is

'In these

times,

when

love of liberty

too generally supposed to be

allied with rash innovation, impiety,

and anarchy,
and
;

it

seems to

me

desirable

to

exhibit to the world at full


heir to wealth
title,

length the

portrait of a

man who,
affairs

was foremost

in defending the privileges of the people

who, when busily


in his

occupied in the

of public

life,

was revered
fathers
;

own

family as the best of husbands

and of

who
in

joined

the truest sense of religion with the unqualified assertion of

freedom

who,

after

an honest perseverance

a good

cause, at length attested,

on the

scaffold, his

attachment to

the ancient principles of the Constitution and the inalienable


right of resistance.'

The

interest of the

book

consists not

merely in
papers at

its

account

gathered

in part at least

from family

Woburn and

original letters at Longleat


is

of Lord

Russell, but also in the light which

cast

on the period of

the Restoration, and the policy of Charles


of York.

II.

and the Duke

Lord John published an Essay on the History of the English Government and Constitution,'
years later,
'

Two

which, in an expanded form, has passed through several


editions,

and has

also appeared in a

French version.

The

book

is

concerned with constitutional change in

England

from the reign of Henry VII. to the beginning of the nine-

A CONFIDENT WHIG
teenth century.

275

Lord John made no

secret of his con-

viction that, whilst the majority of the

Powers of Europe

needed revolutionary methods to bring them into sympathy


with the aspirations of the people,
the

Government of
since
its

England was not


easily

in

such an

evil

case,
its

'abuses

admit of reforms consistent with

spirit,

capable of

being effected without injury or danger, and mainly contributing to


its

preservation.'

The

historical reflections

which

abound
as

in the work,

though shrewd, can scarcely be described


less as
is,

remarkable,

much
'

profound.

The

'

Essay on

English Government

in fact,

not the confessions of an


political speculation,

inquiring spirit entangled in the

maze of

but the conclusions of a young statesman

who

has

made

up

his

mind, with the help of Somers and Fox.

Perhaps, however, the most important of Lord John's


contributions to the study of the philosophy of history was
'

Memoirs of the

Affairs of Europe

from the Peace of Utrecht.'

It describes at

considerable length, and often with luminous

insight, the negotiations

which led to the

treaty

by which
during
affairs

the great
end.
It

War
also

of the Spanish Succession was brought to an

throws light on

men and manners


The
first

the last days of Louis XIV.,


in

and on the condition of

France which followed

his death.

closing pages of

the second volume are


religious state of

concerned with a survey of the


half of the eigh-

England during the

teenth century.
to

Lord John

in this

connection pays homage

the work of

Churchmen
;

of the stamp of Warburton,


fails

Clarke,

and Hoadly

but he entirely

to appreciate at

anything like their true value the labours of Whitfield and


Wesley, though doing more justice to the great leaders of Puritanism, a circumstance which was perhaps due to the
fact that

they stand in the direct historical succession, not T 2

2/6
merely

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


in the assertion of the rights of conscience,

but in the

ordered growth of freedom and society.

Amongst the most noteworthy of Lord John


literary

Russell's

achievements were the two works which he pub-

lished concerning a statesman

whose memory, he declared,

ought to be

'

consecrated in the heart of every lover of

freedom

throughout the globe'

Charles

James Fox, a

master of assemblies, and, according to Burke, perhaps the


greatest

debater

whom

the

world has ever seen.


*

The

books

in question are entitled

Memorials and Correspon-

dence,' which was

published in four volumes at intervals

between the years 1853 and 1857, and the more important Life and Times of Charles James Fox,' which appeared
'

in three

volumes between the years 1859 and 1866.

This

task, like so

many

others which

Lord John accomplished,

came unsought
in

at the

death of his old friend. Lady Holland,

1845.

J^t

was the ambition of Lord Holland, 'nephew


as

of Fox and friend of Grey,'


himself, to edit the papers

he used proudly
life

to style

and

write the

of his brilliant

kinsman.

Politics and society and the stately house at


last

Kensington, which, from the end of

century until the

opening years of the Queen's


of the

reign,

was the chief salon

Whig

party,

combined, with an easy procrastinating


in the

temperament, to block the way, until death ended,

autumn of
his

1840,

the

career

of

the

gracious

master of

Holland House.

The

materials which

Lord Holland and

physician, librarian,

and

friend.

Dr. John Allen,

had

accumulated, and which, by the way, passed under the the poet, were scrutiny of Lord Grey and Rogers,
edited by Lord John, with the result that he grew fasci-

nated with

the

subject,
'

and formed the


Life

resolution,
'

in

consequence, to write

The

and Times

of the great

FOX AND MOORE


Whig
hero,

277
was well to have a

statesman.

He

declared that

it

and a hero with a good many faults and failings. Fox did more than any other statesman in the dull reign of George II. to prepare the way for the epoch of Reform, and it was therefore fitting that the statesman who more
than any other bore the brunt of the battle in 1830-32 should write his biography. Lord Russell's biography of Fox, though by no means so skilfully written as Sir George

Otto Trevelyan's vivacious description of The Early History of Charles James Fox,' is on a more extended scale than the latter. Students of the political annals of the eighteenth
'

century are aware of

its

value as an original and suggestive

contribution to the facts


relations of the

and

forces

which have shaped the

Crown and

the Cabinet in

modern

history.

Fox, in Lord John's opinion, gave his

life to the defence of English freedom, and hastened his death by his exertion to

abolish the African Slave Trade.

He

lays stress, not only


in

on the great

qualities

which Fox displayed

public

life,

but also on the simplicity and kindness of his nature, and the spell which, in spite of grievous faults, he seemed able
to cast, without effort, alike over friends

and

foes.

One
Moore.

of the earliest,

and

certainly

one of the

closest,

friendships of

Lord John Russell's life was with Thomas They saw much of each other for the space
in the

of nearly forty years in

drawn together
travel.

London society, and were also more familiar intercourse of foreign


deputy
at

It

was with Lord John that the poet went to

Italy in 18 19 to avoid arrest for debt, after his

Bermuda had embezzled


less, all his

6,000/.

Moore

lived,

more or
Kingsley's

days from hand to mouth, and Lord John Russell,


in a

who was always ready

quiet

fashion, in

phrase, to help lame dogs over

stiles,

frequently displayed

2/8

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

towards the light-hearted poet throughout their long friendship delicate and generous kindness.

He

it

was who,
for

in

conjunction
in

with

Lord Lansdowne, obtained


a year,

Moore

1835 ^ pension of 300/.


as one which was
*

and announced the

fact

due from any Government, but


of the

much more from one some

members of which are proud to think themselves your friends.' Moore died in 1852, and when his will was read it had been made when Lord John was still comparatively unknown it

was discovered that he had,


fided
to

to give his

own words,

con-

my

valued friend,

Lord John Russell (having


or

obtained his kind promise to undertake the service for


me), the task of looking over whatever papers,
journals
I

letters,

may leave behind me, for the purpose of forming from tlicm some kind of publication, whether in the shape of memoirs or otherwise, which may afford the means of
making some provision
Lord John was
if

for

my

wife

and

family.'

Although
State,

sixty,

and burdened with the cares of


office,

not with the cares of

he cheerfully accepted the

task.

Though
parts of
it

it

must be admitted that he performed


rather a perfunctory manner, the eight

some

in

volumes which appeared between 1853 and 1856 of the


'

Memoirs, Journal, and Correspondence of Thomas Moore

'

represent a severe tax

upon

friendship, as well as

no ordinary

labour on the part of a

man who was


'

always more or less

immersed

in public affairs.

Lord John
fourth

also

edited the

Correspondence of John,
letters

Duke
hand

of Bedford,'
sketch.

and prefaced the

with a

biographical
tried his

Quite early in
in

his career he also

at fiction

'The Nun

of Arrouca,' a story
hi^

founded on a romantic incident which occurred during


travels
in

the Peninsula.

The book appeared

in

1822,

'

'

DON CARLOS

279

same year he was restless and ambitious of Hterary distinction at the time, and had not yet found his
and
in

the

true sphere in politics

he also published
of the

'

Don

Carlos,' a

tragedy in blank verse, which was in reality not merely a


tirade

against

the

cruelties

Inquisition,

but

an

impassioned protest against religious disabihties in every

shape or form.

'

Don
it

Carlos,'

though now practically

for-

gotten, ran through five editions in twelve months,

and the

people remembered

when

its

author became the foremost


of the repeal of the
writings
it is

advocate in the House of

Commons

Test and Corporation Acts.

Amongst other minor


Lord John
of Life

which belong to the

earlier years of

Russell,

enough
'

to

name Essays and Sketches


'

and Character,'
'

The Establishment of the Turks in Europe,' A Translation of the Fifth Book of the Odyssey,' and an imitation of the
Thirteenth Satire of Juvenal, as well as an essay on the

'Causes of the French Revolution,' which appeared in 1832. Letters Written for the It is still a moot point whether
'

Post,

and not

for the Press,'

an anonymous volume which

appeared

in 1820,

and which

consists of descriptions of a tour

in Scotland, interspersed

with dull moral lectures on the con-

Mr. duct of a wife towards her husband, was from his pen. George Elliot believes, on internal evidence, too lengthy
to quote, that

the

book a

small octavo volume of

more
same

than four hundred pages is erroneously attributed to his


brother-in-law,

and the Countess Russell


cites

is

of the

opinion.

Mr. Elliot

inaccuracies in
in Scotland

the

book, and

adds that the places visited

do not correspond
thither
;

with those which Lord John had seen


in

when he went

company with
is

the

there

no evidence

Duke and Duchess in 1807 that he made another pilgrimage


that date

and

north

of the

Tweed between

and the appearance of the

'

28o
book.

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

He

adds that

his father took the trouble to collect

everything which was written by Lord John, and the book


is

certainly not
is

in the

library

at

Minto.

Moreover, Mr.

Elliot

confident that either Lord Minto or Lord John

himself assured him that he might dismiss the idea of the

supposed authorship.
After his final retirement from
lished, in
office.

Lord John pub-

1868, three letters to Mr. Chichester Fortescue


State of
Ireland,'

on

'

The

and

this

was followed by a
in

contribution

to ecclesiastical

history

the

shape of a
of the

volume of essays

on

'

The Rise and


West of Europe
closing

Progress

Christian Religion in the


Trent.'

to the Council of

The

leisure

of his

years

was, however,

chiefly devoted to the preparation, with valuable introductions, of selections

from

his

own Speeches and Despatches


'

and

this,

in

turn,

was followed,
'

after

an interval of

five

years,

by a work entitled

Recollections and Suggestions,

181 3-1 873,' which appeared as late as 1875, and which was

of singular personal interest as well as of historical importance.


It

bears on the title-page two lines from Dryden,


lips in his closing years
:

which were often on Lord John's

Not Heaven itself upon the past has power, But what has been has been, and I have had my

hour.

The old statesman's once tenacious memory was failing when he wrote the book, and there is little evidence of
literary

arrangement

in

its

contents.

If,

however,

Lord

John did not always escape inaccuracy of statement or


laboured discursiveness of
political reminiscences,
style,

the value not only of his

but also of his shrewd and often

pithily expressed verdicts

on men and movements,

is

unis

questionable, and,

on the whole, the vigour of the book

A RETROSPECT
as remarkable as
its

28
Mr. Kinglake once

noble candour.

Lord John Russell wrote so naturally that it recalled the very sound of his voice and half the charm of
declared that
'

'

his

Recollections and Suggestions

'

consists in the artless-

ness of a record which will always rank with the original


materials of history, between the year in which Wellington

fought the battle of Vittoria and that in which, just sixty


years later,

Napoleon

III. died in exile at Chislehurst.

In

speaking of his

own

career.

Lord

Russell, writing at the age

of eighty-one, uses words which are not less manly than

modest
'

can only rejoice that


in

have been allowed to have


in

my

share

the

task

accomplished
1819 to

the half-century

which has elapsed from


always
felt,

1869.

My

capacity, I

was very

inferior to that of the

men who have

attained in past times the foremost place in our Parliament

and

in the councils of our Sovereign.


errors,

have committed

many

some of them very

gross blunders.

But the

generous people of England are always forbearing and


forgiving to those statesmen

who have

the good of their

country at heart.

Like

my

betters, I

have been misrepreof

sented and slandered by those

who know nothing

me

but

have been more than compensated by the confidence

and the friendship of the best men of


of

my own

political

connection, and by the regard and favourable interpretation

my motives, which
Disraeli.'

have heard expressed by

my generous

opponents, from the days of Lord Castlereagh to these of

Mr.

There were few questions


National Education.
caster,

in

which Lord John Russell

was more keenly interested from youth to age than that of

As a boy he had met Joseph Lanof that far-seeing and practical friend

during a

visit

282

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Woburn, and the impression which the

of poor children to

humble Quaker
as

philanthropist

made on

the

Duke

of Bed-

ford's quick-witted as well as kind-hearted

son was retained,


life.

one of his

latest

speeches show, to the close of

At

the opening of the

new

British Schools in

Richmond
'
:

in the

summer
naturally

of 1867,

Lord John
initiated

referred to his father's associa-

tion with

Joseph Lancaster, and added

In
for
say,

this

way

became
I
is

into a

desire
I

promoting
from that

schools for the working classes, and

must

time to this
I

never changed

my mind upon

the subject.

think

it

absolutely necessary our schools should not

merely be secular, but that they should be provided with


religious teaching,

and

that religious teaching ought not to


will

be sectarian.
children

There
to

be plenty of time, when these

go

church or chapel, that they should learn form of doctrine


their parents follow

either that particular

or

adopt one more consistent with their


;

conscientious
girls

feehngs

but
it

I think,

while they are young boys and


sufficient

at school,

ought to be

for

them

to
;

know what
and from
conduct
in

Christ taught,

and what the apostles taught

those lessons and precepts they


life.'

may guide

their

Lord John put

his

hand

to

the plough in the day of

small things, and, through good and through evil report,

from the days of Lancaster,


of Mr. Forster

Bell,

and Brougham,

to those

and the great measure of 1870, he never


the beginning of the present

withdrew from a task which lay always near to his heart.


It is difficult to believe that at

century there were less than three thousand four hundred


schools of
all

descriptions in the whole of England, or that

when

the reign of George III. was closing one-half of the


still

children of the nation

ran wild without the least pre-

'

THE AWAKENING OF THE PEOPLE


tence of education.
statistics

283

At a

still

later

period the marriage

revealed the fact that one-third of the

men and
register.

one-half of the

women were
assuredly were

unable to sign the

The

social elevation of the people, so ran the miserable plea

of those

who

not given to change,

was

fraught with peril to the State.


to

Hodge,

it

was urged, ought

be content to take both the

Law and

the

Commandments
is

from his
thing.

betters, since a little


for the noisy,

knowledge

a dangerous

As

insolent operatives

and

artisans

of the great manufacturing towns, was there not for

them
It

the strong

hand of

authority, and,

if

they grew too obstrepe?

rous, the uplifted sabre of the military as at Peterloo

was

all

very well, however, to extol the virtues of patience,

contentment, and obedience, but the sense of wrong and of


defiance rankled in the masses, and with
it

in

a dull and

confused

manner the
Bill

sense of power.
of 1832

The Reform

mocked
it

in

many

directions great
it

the hopes of the people, but

at

least

marked a

social as well as a great political departure,

and with

came
to

the

dawn of ^ new day

to

modern England.

As

the light broadened, the vision of poets and patriots began

be realised in practical
to

improvements,
;

which came
standard
of

home
the,

men's business and bosom


rose,

the

intelligence

and with

it

freedom of thought, and

sometimes passionate, but more often long-suffering


for
It

demand
to justice.

political,

social,

and economic

concessions

was long before the privileged classes began


in platform heroics, that
'

to recognise, except

it

was high
;

time to awake out of sleep and to

educate our masters

but the work began when Lord Althorp persuaded the

House of Commons

to vote a
;

modest sum for the erection of

school buildings in England

and

that grant of 20,000/. in

'

284
1832 was the
'

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


handful of corn on the top of the mountains

which has brought about the golden harvest of to-day.


history of the

The

movement does
it

not, of course,

fall

within the

province of these pages, though Lord John Russell's


is

name

associated with

in

an honourable and emphatic sense.

The

formation, chiefly at his instance, in 1839 of a Council

of Education paved the

way

for

the existing

system of

elementary education, and


front rank of national

lifted

the whole problem to the

affairs.

He
for
'

was the

first

Prime Minister of England


it

to carry a

measure which made


elementary schools

possible to secure trained teachers

and

his successful effort in


it,

1847 to

diminish the empire of ignorance,' as he styled


life

was one of
in after

the events in his public

on which he looked back

years with the most satisfaction.

During the session of 1856

Lord John brought forward

in the

House of Commons

a bold

scheme of National Education.


instruction, whilst not

He

contended that out of

four million children of school age only one-half were receiving

more than one-eighth were attending

schools which were subject to inspection.

The

vast majority

were to be found
if

in schools

where the standard of education,

not altogether an

He

proposed that

unknown quantity, was deplorably low. the number of inspectors should be inby the
local authoit

creased,
rities for

and

that a rate should be levied

supplying adequate instruction in places where

was

unsatisfactory.

He

contended that the country should be


districts,

mapped

out in school

and

that the

managers should

have the power to make provision


and, at the

for religious instruction,

a voice in

same time, should allow the parents of the children the matter. Prejudices ecclesiastical and social
to a large

blocked the way, however, and Lord John was compelled


to

abandon the scheme, which suggested, and

POPULAR EDUCATION

285

extent anticipated Mr. Forster's far-reaching measure, which


in

1870

met with a

better

fate,

and Hnked the


supervision
in

prin-

ciples

of local authority

and

central

the

harmonious working of public education.

When

the victory

was almost won Mr. Forster, with


wrote to the old statesman

characteristic kindliness,
for the people's
:

who had laboured


I

cause in years of supreme discouragement


universal compulsory education,

'As

regards

believe

we

shall

soon

complete the building.

It is

hard to see
if

how

there would

have been a building to complete,


labour and in great
difficulty,

you had

not, with great

dug the foundations

in 1839.'

Happily Lord John lived


edifice

to witness the

crowning of the

by the Gladstone Administration.


2 86

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

CHAPTER XIV
COMING BACK TO POWER
1857-1861
Lord John
as an Independent

Indian Mutiny

Conspiracy
in

Bill

power

Lord John
Commons

the City The Member His chance of Napoleon The Orsini's attempt on the Lord John and the Jewish Relief Act Palmerston
in
life

at the

Foreign Office

Cobden

and Bright

Quits the

with a Peerage.

Lord John came prominently


affairs in

to

the

front in

public

the brief session of 1857, which ended in Lord

Palmerston's appeal to the country.

He

spoke against the


the

Government during

the

discussions

in

House of
he

Commons on
exercised
his

the conduct of the Persian War, and

independence

in

other

directions.

Even

shrewd and well-informed observers were curiously oblivious,


for the

moment, of the
'
:

signs of the times, for Greville wrote

on February 27

Nobody cares any


;

longer for John Russell,

everybody detests Gladstone


the country, and
party.'

Disraeli has

no influence

in

a very doubtful position with his

own

Yet scarcely more than a fortnight


:

later this cynical,

but frank scribe added

'

Some

think a reaction in favour of


is

John Russell has begun. very good spirits, though


bright
;

He
his

stands for the City, and

in

chances of success do not look


to face danger,

but he

is

a gallant

little fellow, likes

and comes out well

in times of difficulty.'

Between these

two statements the unexpected had happened.

Cobden

THE CITY FIGHTS SHY

28/

had brought forward a motion censuring the conduct of


the Government
in the
affair

of the lorcha, 'Arrow,' at

Canton, and the three statesmen on

whom

Greville

had

contemptuously pronounced judgment had supported the Manchester and


Disraeli

Russell, Gladstone,

school, with

the result that the Government, on

March

4,

suffered defeat

by a majority of sixteen

votes.

Parliament was dissolved in

the course of the month, and the General Election brought

Lord Palmerston back


it

to power, pledged to nothing unless


policy.

was a spirited foreign

The

personal ascendency of Lord Palmerston,

whom
in

Disraeli cleverly styled the

Tory chief of a Radical Cabinet,


good deal of truth

carried the election, for there was a

the assertion that nobody cared a straw for his colleagues.

The Peace party suffered defeat at the polls, others, Cobden himself was turned out at
and Bright and Milner Gibson were
misfortune at Manchester.
to overthrow Lord John
in the his

and, amongst

Huddersfield,
in

companions

vigorous attempt was

made

in the City,

and

his timid friends

neighbourhood of Lombard Street and the Exchange

implored him not to run the risk of a contested election.

He
that

was assured

in

so

many
for

words, states

Lady

Russell,
as of

he had as much chance of being elected Pope

being elected

member

the City

and the statement

roused his mettle.

He

was pitted against a candidate from


latter

Northampton,

and the

was brought forward with


of

the powerful support of the Registration Association


the City of London, and
in a fashion

which was the reverse

of complimentary to the old statesman.

Lord John was equal to the occasion, and was by no means inclined to throw up the sponge. He went down to
the City, and delivered not merely a vigorous, but vivacious


288

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


it

speech, and in the course of

he

said,

with a jocularity

which was worthy of


gentleman

Lord Palmerston
to

himself
his

'
:

If a
his

were disposed
his

part

with
if

butler,

coachman, or

gamekeeper, or

merchant

were

disposed to part with an old servant, a warehouseman, a


clerk,

or even

porter,

he would say to him, "John


;

(laughter)

I think

your faculties are somewhat decayed

you are growing

old,

you have made several mistakes, and

think of putting a young


place."

man from Northampton


I

in

your

(Laughter and cheers.)


in that

think a gentleman would

behave

way

to his servant,

and thereby give John an

opportunity of answering that he thought his faculties were

not so
events,

much
some

decayed, and that he was able to go on, at


five or six years longer.

all

That opportunity was


was
;

not

given

to

me.

The

question

decided
I

in

my
to

absence, without any intimation to

me and
rival

come now

ask you and the citizens of

London

to reverse that decision.'

He

was

taken at his word,

and the

candidate from

Northampton was duly sent to the neighbouring borough of


Coventry.

The summer
at

of 1857

was darkened

in

England by
massacre

tidings of the Indian

Mutiny and of the

terrible

Cawnpore.

In face of the disaster

Lord John not

merely gave his hearty support to the Government, but


delivered

an energetic protest against the attack of the


crisis,

Opposition at such a

and moved an address assuring


At the same time
it

the Crown of the support of Parliament, which was carried,


in spite of Disraeli,

without a division.

Lord John

in confidential intercourse
full

made

plain that

he

recognised to the

extent the need of reform in the ad-

ministration of India,
that, in his view, the

and he did not


East India

hesitate to intimate

Company was no

longer

THE ORSINI PLOT


equal to the strain of so great a responsibility.

289

He
but,

brought

no

railing accusations against


it

the

Company,

on the
'

contrary, declared that

must be admitted they had

con-

ducted their

affairs in

a wonderful manner, falling into errors

that were natural, but displaying merits of a high order.

The

real

ground

for

change

is

that the

machine

is

worn

out, and, as a

manufacturer changes an excellent engine of


fifty

Watt and Boulton made


with

years ago for a


it

new engine

modern improvements,
for the
in

so

becomes us

to find a

new

machine

government of

India.'
its

Before the upheaval


difficulties

India had spent

force fresh

overtook Lord Palmerston's (iovernment.

Count
was the

Orsini, strong in the conviction that

Napoleon

III.

great barrier to the progress of revolution in Italy, determined


to rid his

countrymen of the man who, beyond

all

others,

seemed bent on thwarting the national aspirations. With other


conspirators, he threw three
14, 1858, at the carriage of

bombs on the night of January the Emperor and Empress as they

were proceeding to the Opera, and, though they escaped unhurt, ten persons

were killed and many wounded.


in

had been manufactured


captured and executed
in

The bombs England, and Orsini who was


fierce

had arranged the dastardly outrage


outbreak of

London, and the consequence was a

indignation

on the other side of the Channel.


from the machinations of

Lord
political

Palmerston, prompted by the French Government, which

demanded

protection

refugees, brought forward a Conspiracy Bill.

The

feeling

of the country, already hostile to such a measure, grew pro-

nounced when the French army, not content with congratulating the Emperor on his escape, proceeded to refer to
England
in insulting,

and even

threatening, terms.

Lord

John, on high constitutional grounds, protested against the

290
introduction

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


of the

'

measure,

and declared that he was

determined not to share in such 'shame and humihation.'

The Government were defeated on the Conspiracy Bill, on February 19, by nineteen votes. Amongst the eighty-four
Liberals in

the majority occur the names, not merely of

Lord John Russell and Sir James Graham, but Mr. CardLord Palmerston promptly rewell and Mr. Gladstone. Disraeli, as signed, and Lord Derby came into office. Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of the House of

Commons, proceeded
light heart to

with characteristic

audacity and a

educate the new Conservative Party in the art

of dishing the Whigs.

The new
advance of

Ministry was short-lived.

Lord Derby was


set before

in

his party,

and old-fashioned Tories

listened with

alarm to the programme of work which he

them.
office,

For the

moment Lord John was


that the
'

not eager for

and he declared
recklessly

new

Ministers ought not to be

or

prematurely opposed.'

He

added

that

he

would not sanction any cabal among the Liberal


that

party,

and

he had no intention whatever of leading an alliance of


Impressed with the magnitude of

Radicals and Peelites.

the issues at stake, he helped Lord Derby to pass the

new

India

Bill,

which handed the government of that country

over to the Crown.


to

He

held that the question was too great


of party, but thorough-paced

be made a

battle-field

adherents of Lord Palmerston did not conceal their indignation at such independent action.

Lord John believed

at the

moment
clamour.

that

it

was

right for

him

to throw his influence into

the scale, and therefore he was indifferent to the passing

The subsequent

history of the English in India

has amply justified the patriotic step which he took in scorn


of party consequences.

The Jewish

Relief Act

became law


THE JEWISH RELIEF ACT
in 1858,

29

and Lord John at length witnessed the triumph of a cause which he had brought again and again before
ParHament since the General Election of 1847, when Baron Rothschild was returned as his colleague in the representation of the City.

Scarcely any class of the

community
his services

showed themselves more constantly mindful of


on
their behalf than the Jews.

When

one of them took an

opportunity of thanking him for helping to free a once

oppressed race from legal


'

disabilities,

Lord John
civil

replied

The

object of

my

life

has been not to benefit a race alone,

but

all nationalities

that suffered

under

and

religious

disabilities.'

He

used to relate with evident appreciation the


to a timid statesman

reply which

Lord Lyndhurst once gave

who feared a possible Hebrew invasion man who was appointed four times to
torted
:

of the woolsack.

The

that exalted seat re-

'

Well,

see

no harm

in that; Daniel

would have made


Administration
on,
its

a good Lord Chancellor.'

Everyone recognised that the Derby


was a mere
stop-gap,

and,

as

months passed
ludicrous.

struggle for existence


felt

became somewhat

They
'

themselves to be a Ministry on sufferance, and, accord-

ing to the gossip of the hour, their watchword was


thing for a quiet
life.'

Anyat

There were rocks ahead, and

the beginning of the session of 1859 they stood revealed in

Mr.

Disraeli's extraordinary proposals for

Reform, and in

the war-cloud which was gathering rapidly over Europe in

consequence of the quarrel between France and Austria about


the affairs of Italy.

Mr. DisraeH's Reform

Bill

taxed the
its

allegiance of his party to the breaking point,

and when

provisions were disclosed two of his colleagues resigned

Mr. Spencer Walpole the

Home

Office,

and Mr. Henley the


lot in

Board of Trade, rather than have part or

such a
u 2

292
measure.

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


There
is

no need here to describe


its
it

in

detail a

scheme which was foredoomed by


failure.
It

fantastic character to

confused great issues

brought into play what


;

Mr. Bright called fancy franchises


voting qualification in boroughs
;

it

did not lower the


property qualificait

its
;

new
and

tions were of a retrograde character


classes

left

the working

where

it

found them.

It

frightened staid Tories of


if

the older school, and excited the ridicule,


tion, of all

not the indigna-

who had

seriously grappled with the problem.


effect

The immediate
Liberal Party.

was

to unite all sections of the

Lord John led the


it

attack,

and did
;

so on the
i,

broad ground that


after

did not go far enough


the measure

and on April

protracted

debate,

was defeated by a
of six hundred

majority of thirty-nine votes in a

House

and
1 9,

twenty-one members. Parliament was prorogued on April

and

the country was thrown into the turmoil of a General

Election.
stituents in

Lord John promptly appealed to his old conthe City, and in the course of a vigorous address
'

handled

the

so-called

Reform

Bill

'

in

no uncertain
presence
advisable
'

manner.

He
'

declared that amongst the numerous defects


its
it

of the Bill

one provision was conspicuous by


its

and another by

absence.'
to take
'

He had deemed

on the second reading


clear,

what seemed to be the

most

manly, and direct

course,

and that was the


of

secret

of

his

amendment.
in full force,

The House

Commons

had

mustered

and the terms of the amendment had


General Election was that
Liberals

been
three

carried.

The

result of the
fifty

hundred and

and three hundred and two


Parliament

Conservatives were returned to Westminster.

met on May
to the

31,

and Lord Hartington moved an amendment


to

Address which amounted

an expression- of want of
carried by a majority

confidence.

The amendment was

LORD GRANVILLE'S IMPOSSIBLE TASK


of thirteen

293

on June

12,

and Lord Derby's Administration


an end.

came

the

same night

to

The

result of the division

took both parties somewhat by surprise.

The
sent

astonishfor

ment was heightened when her Majesty


Granville, an action which, to say the least,

Lord

was a left-handed
of

compliment

to old

and distinguished advisers of the Crown.

Happily, though the sovereign


State propose,
it is

may

in

such high

affairs

the country which must finally dispose,


swiftly

and Lord Granville


political

found that

in the

exuberance of

youth he had accepted a hopeless commission.

He

therefore relinquished an impossible task,

and the Queen

sent for

Lord Palmerston.
earlier

In the

years of

Lord John's retirement from


his relations with

office after the

Vienna Conference

some
Lord

of his

old colleagues, and

more

particularly with

Clarendon and Lord Palmerston, were somewhat strained.

The blunders
India, the

of the

Derby Government, the jeopardy


pohtics, and,

in

menacing condition of foreign

still

more, the patriotism and right feeling of both men, gradually

drew Palmerston

and

Russell

into

more

intimate

association, with the

result that

in the early

summer

of

1859 the frank intercourse of former years was renewed.

More than

twelve years had elapsed since Lord John had

attained the highest rank possible to an English statesman.

In the interval he had consented, under strong pressure

from the most exalted quarters, to waive his claims by consenting to serve under
that experiment

Lord Aberdeen

and the outcome of


have stood on

had been humiliating

to himself, as well as
fairly

disastrous to the country.


his dignity

He

might

a fool's pedestal at the best,


to

and one which

Lord John was too sensible ever


juncture,

mount

at

the present

and have declined

to return to the responsibilities

294
of
office,

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


except as Prime Minister.

The

leaders of the

democracy, Mr. Bright and Mr. Cobden, were


friendly to

much more
at

him than

to

Lord Palmerston.
Russell's

Apart from pubthe

lished

records.

Lady

diary

shows that

beginning of this year Mr. Bright was in close communication with her husband.

Lord John good-humouredly proby


his speeches;

tested that Mr. Bright alarmed timid people

whereupon the latter replied that he had been much misrepresented,

and declared

that he was

more

willing to

be

lieu-

tenant than general in the approaching struggle for Reform.

He

explained his scheme, and Lord John found that


in

it

had

much

common

with his own, from which

it

differed only
'

in degree, except

on the question of the


but
don't

ballot.

There has

been a meeting between Bright and Lord John,' was Lord


Houghton's comment,
'

know

that

it

has led to
last

anything except a more


speeches.'

temperate tone in Bright's


it is

Mr. Cobden,

an open

secret,

would not have

refused to serve under Lord John, but his hostility to

Lord
to

Palmerston's policy was too pronounced for him

now

accept the offer of a seat in the

new Cabinet.

He

assured

Lord John

that

if

he had been

at the

head of the Administra-

tion the result

would have been


felt that

different.

Both Mr. Cobden


balance of

and Mr. Bright

Lord Palmerston blocked the way to


in

any adequate readjustment

home

politics of the

power, and they were inspired by a settled distrust of his


foreign
policy.

Lord John, on the other hand, though


swiftly as

he might not move as


desirable,

such popular leaders thought


to

had

still

name

conjure

with,

and was
lines,

the consistent advocate, though


of an extension of the franchise. attack

on more cautious
regard

Moreover, Lord John's


in

on

Palmerston's

Government

to

the

conduct of the Chinese war, his vigorous protest against

palmerston's mixed multitude


the Conspiracy
Bill,

295

and

his frank

sympathy with Mazzini^s

dream of a United
in

Italy,

helped to bring the old leader,


civil

the long

fight

for

and

religious

liberty,

into

vital

touch with younger

men

of the stamp of Cobden,

Bright,

and Gladstone, of

whom

the people justly expected

great things in the not distant future.

Lord John knew,

however, that the

who were

neither

camp was full of politicians hot nor cold men who had slipped into
Liberal

Parliament on easy terms, only to reveal the fact that their


prejudices were

many and

their convictions

few.

They
Lord

sheltered themselves

under the great

prestige

of

Palmerston, and represented his policy of masterly inactivity,


rather than the true sentiments of the nation.

Lord Palmer-

ston was as jaunty as ever

but

all

things are not possible

even to the ablest man, at seventy-five.

Although Lord John was not willing to serve under

Lord

Granville,

who was
his

his junior
at the

by more than a score


Foreign Office, and

of years,
therefore

he saw

chance

consented to join the Administration of


In accepting
office
it

Lord
in

Palmerston.

on such terms
the

the

middle of June, he
that the importance of

made
lot

plain to
affairs at

Lord Palmerston

European

induced him to throw in his

with the

moment had new Ministry. The


Chancellor
of
;

deadlock was brought to an end by Lord John's patriotic


decision.

Mr.

Gladstone

became

the

Exchequer, Lord Granville President of the Council

and

amongst others

in the

Cabinet were Sir G. C. Lewis, Mr.

Milner Gibson, Sir George Grey, and the

Duke

of Argyll.

Though Cobden would not accept a place


ment, he rendered
it

in the

Govern-

important service by negotiating the


at the

commercial treaty with France, which came into force


beginni^ng of i860.

Next

to the abolition of the

Corn Laws,

2(jCj

LOI'I)

JOHN
other

klJSSI'J.L

wliirli lie

more

t,l)n,ii

n.ny

iii.in

ljrf>ii[',lit.

about,
l^y
it

it

was

the groat achievement of his career.


ing

I'rec

Trade,

hberat-

commerce from

the

bondage under which

groaned,

gave food to starving multitudes, redressed a flagrant and


tyrannical abuse of
jKjwer, shielded

a kingdom from the

throes of revolution, and


lo
iii;ilcii;il

added a new and magical impetus


every
f|ii;i)t(r

progress

in

of

the globe.

The
most

commeniial treaty with I'luhc, by


syiiijj.'ithy
.'itid

cst.'iblishing

mercantile
thf;

iiilcrcour.se
ol

between
c.'irricd

two

of

p(;werfiil
wliif
<

n.'ition'i

the world,
h.id

forward the work

li

I'jcc

Tr.'i(k-

begun, and, by bringing into play

(Mnninnily of interests, helped lo give [;eace a sure founda

tion.

r;n li.Miient

met on );nin;ny

2/|, ;ui(l

in

the S|)cech from


It

the ThrtMie

.'I,

keform
I

liili

w.'is

prf>mi:. cd.

\v;is

brought

forward by

OK
;i

|olin

I' u;..',e||

on

Mnn
In:;

the twenty tiinth the intro(hi<


t

;niniver:,;ny o(

led letlei d.iy in


bill,

life,

ion of

the

(n;,t
lii.'ic

l\eloini
to
w;i:;
If;/.

lie prcjposed

to

reduce the county


lo 6/.
,'i

inuM

fni;ililie.'ition,

and the borough


e;r<
li

one

menibei

lo be t.iken

from

boiongh with
in this w;iy

j)oj)ula-

tion o( less
.seats

th.'U)

seven thons.'uid,

.'nid

twenty

five

were

obl;iiiie(l for redistribution.


|

I'ohtic.'d

power was
.'Uid

lo

be j'iv<n wlieic the


S( Ik

)eo| ile

wercM'ongregatcd,

Lf)rd

John's

inc of le distribution
(;ne

gave two seats lo the West


counties or divisions,

Kidiuf',,
.'ind

;nid lo

each

to thiity (jther
hilh( ilo

live

boroughs

unre[)resented.
:ni(l

The

claims

of

IVIanehester,

I>ivcr[)ool,

lliimingh.'un,

Leeds were
in

recognised by the proposal to add aru^ther re[)rcscntative

each case
;i

and the claims of cultme were not


w.'is

forgotten, for
(

member
;rtleiii|)t

}',iven
(

to

London
none
of
I

Ihiiversity.
liese

i.dlio like,

/Old r.iliiiersloii to
(

;ired lor
<;il

lliiiij';;, .iiid

he

iii.ide

no

oik

liis

indifference.

One-hall

of

the

ACCEl'TS A
Cabinet appear
to

MCI':

RACK

297
measure,
If

have shared

his dislash; for tlic


it

and two

or three of or Tki^^hl

them ri;garded
l)Ccn
;

with aversion.

Cobden

had

in

the C'abinct, affairs


it

mii^^iit

have taken a different course

as

was, Lord

John and Mr.

Oladstone stood ahnost alone.

The
were

Radicals,

tiionj^h
we;i.l<

j^ainitif^^

j^aound in the country,


of (ionnnons,
;iiid

nunierie.'iJly
fell

in

the

Mouse
wilh

the

measure
Tories

to the j^roimd

helween the opposilion of the


vvliieii
it

.'uid

the

Oiinl-

|)r;iise

w;i.s

damned
confess

l)y

the Wlii}^s.
tlie a[)atl)y <jf

Iwen

l<ord

John was forced

to

tliat

the c(;imtry was imdeniiible.


h;i.d
;i

A more sweepwas
idle

ing measure

would have
Lord

better chance, but so long


it

as L(;rd
to

I'almerston was at the head of affairs


it.

expect

}()\u\

recognised the

inevitable after

a succession of dreary debates, and the mt:;isnre was with-

drawn on
in the

|im(."
(

II.

Lord

b'bii's

first

important spe(;ch
the ye.ir of Teterye.iis

Noiis(; of

,'ommons was made

in

loo,

when he brought
Jiill

forward, thirteen

before the

Reform

of JH32 was |)assed, proposals for an extension


;

of the franchise

and

his last great si)eech in the

fousc of

Commons

at

least
it

siiowed

how unmerited was

the taunt of

TinaHty,' for

scnight to give the working classes a share in


of

the government

the counlry.
yeiir,

Karly
the

in

the following
ICarl

Lord John
of

w.is raised

to

peerage as

Russell

Kingston- Russell

and

Viscount Ambeiley and


wrote Mr. (lladstone, 'as

Ardsalla.
I

cannot des[)atch,'

have just done, the Cliiltern

Hundreds
as
well

for you,

without expressing the strong feelings


;icl
I

winch even that


as

form.il
;

awakens.

They
will

are

mixed,
in

strong

for
tlie

hope you

be

rejKiid

re[)ose,

health,

and
loss

|)ower of hjng continuing service,


suffer in

for

the heavy

we

the

IIou;,e o(

('ommons.


298

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

Although you may not hereafter have opportunities of adding to the personal debt I
vividly before

owe

you,

and of bringing

it

my mind

by fresh acts of courage and kindit is

ness, I assure you, the recollection of

already indelible.'
is

Hitherto,

which

his

Lord John for the old name family and his friends still like
;

the one under

to apply to

him

had been a poor man

but the death, in the spring of this

year, of his brother the

Duke

of Bedford, with

whom, from

youth to age, his intercourse had been most cordial, placed

him

in possession of the Ardsalla Estate, and, indeed,

made
Six

possible

his acceptance

of

the

proffered

earldom.

later, her IMajesty conferred the Garter upon him, mark of her 'high approbation of long and distinguished services.' Lord John had almost reached the

months
a

as

age of three score and ten when he entered the House of


Lords.

He

had done

his

work

in

'

another place,' but he


First

was destined to become once more

Minister of the

Crown, and, as Mr. Froude put

it,

to carry his reputation at

length off the scene unspotted by a single act which his bio-

graphers are called upon to paUiate.

299

CHAPTER XV
UNITED ITALY AND THE DIS-UNITED STATES
1861-1865
Lord John at the Foreign Office Austria and Italy Victor Emmanuel and Mazzini Cavour and Napoleon III. Lord John's energetic protest His sympathy with Garibaldi and the struggle for freedom The gratitude of the Italians Death of the Prince Consort The Trent affair Lord John's remonstrance The Alabama difficultyLord Selborne's statement The Cotton Famine.
'
'

'

'

claimed Lord John's undivided attention throughout the four remaining years of the Palmerston

Foreign

politics

Administration.

It

was well

for the nation that a statesself-reliance, cool sagacity,

man

of so

much courage and

and

wide experience, controlled the Foreign Office

in years

when
aim

wars and rumours of war prevailed alike in Europe and in

America.
to
in

He

once declared that


civil

it

had always been

his

promote the cause of

and

religious liberty, not

merely

England, but in other parts of the world, and events were now looming which were destined to justify such an assertion.

It is not possible to enter at length into the

compli-

cated problems with which he had to deal during his tenure


of the Foreign Office, but the broad principles which anima-

ted his policy can, in rough outline at


is
'

least,

be

stated.

It
;

well in this connection to

fall

back upon

his

own words

In

my

time very

difficult

questions arose.

During the

period I held the seals of the Foreign Office I had to discuss

300

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

the question of the independence of Italy, of a treaty regarding Poland

made by Lord Castlereagh, the Denmark made by Lord Malmesbury, the

treaty regarding
injuries

done

to

England by the republic of Mexico, and, not


minor questions, the whole of the transactions
the
civil

to

mention

arising out of

war

in

America, embittered as they were by the

desire of a party in the

United States

to lay

upon England

the whole blame of the insurrection, the " irrepressible conflict "

of their

own

fellow-citizens.'
crucial,

Both of these questions


in his attitude

were far-reaching and


Italy
tion,

and

towards

and America, when they were


Lord
alike stand revealed.

in the throes of revolu-

Russell's generous love of liberty

and vigour of

judgment
that Italy

Prince Metternich declared soon after the peace of 1815

was

'

only a geographical expression.'

The
'

taunt

was true dreamer


ideas,'

at the time,

but even then there was a


destined to render
'

young
Great
his

living

who was

it

false.

declared

Mazzini,

create

great

nations,' to bring

and

whole career was devoted


united
Italy.

to the attempt

about a

The statesmanship

of Cavour and the sword

of Garibaldi were enlisted in the

same sacred

cause.

The

petty governments of the Peninsula grew suddenly impossible,

and

Italy

was freed from native tyranny and foreign domiAustria,

nation.

not

content with

the

possession
treaty of direction,
1

of
8 1 5,

Lombardy, which was ceded to her by the had made her power felt in almost every
even
at

and

Naples her authority prevailed.

The

Austrians

were not merely an alien but a hated race,

for they stood

between the
independence

Italian people

and

their

dream of national
despotism
could

and

unity,

and
in

native

always count on their aid


the revolutionary
spirit.

quelling

any outbreak of
of the country.

The governments

COUNT CAVOUR

3OI

Austria and the Vatican apart, were rendered contemptible

by the character of
rulers,

its

tyrannical, incapable,

and superstitious

but with the sway of such powers of darkness Sardinia

The hopes of patriotic Italians gathered around Victor Emmanuel II., who had fought gallantly at Novara in 1849, and who possessed more public
presented a bright contrast.
spirit

and common-sense than the majority of crowned


Victor

heads.
at the

Emmanuel ascended
to

the throne of Sardinia

age of twenty-eight, immediately after the crushing

disaster

which seemed hopelessly


was only room

have wrecked the cause

of Italian independence.
zini,

Although he believed, with Mazfor

that there

two kinds of Italians

in

Italy,

the friends and the enemies of Austria, he showed


self-restraint,

remarkable

and adopted a policy of

concilia-

tion towards foreign Powers, whilst widening the liberties of


his

own

subjects until

all

over the land Italians came to


'

regard Sardinia with admiration, and to covet

liberty as

it

was
with

in Piedmont.'

He
them

gathered around him


ideas

men who were


and
a

in

sympathy

modern
was

of

liberty

progress.

Amongst
to

Count

Cavour,

statesman

destined
his

impress not Italy alone,

but Europe,

by

honesty of

purpose, force of character, and practical sagacity.

From

1852

to 1859,

when he

retired, rather

than agree to the

humiliating terms of the Treaty of Villafranca, Cavour was

supreme

in Sardinia.

He

found Sardinia crippled by defeat,

and crushed with

debt, the bitter bequest of the Austrian

War

but his courage never faltered, and his capacity was


strain.
it

equal to the

Victor
for the

Emmanuel gave him

a free

hand, and he used

consoHdation of the kingdom.


tariff,

He

repealed the duties on corn, reformed the

and

introduced measures of free trade.

He

encouraged public

302
works,

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


brought about the construction of
railways

and

and advanced perceptibly popular education. He saw that if the nation was to gain her independence, and his sovereign become ruler of a united Italy, it was necessary
telegraphs,
to propitiate the
policy,

Western Powers.

In pursuance of such a
to join the Allies in the

Cavour induced Piedmont

Crimean War, and the


closed Sardinia was

Italian soldiers

behaved with con-

spicuous bravery at the battle of Tchernaya.

When the war


Europe, and

becoming a power
the

in

Cavour established
Paris,

his right to a seat at the

Congress of
discontent

where he

made known

growing

in Italy with the temporal

power of the Papacy.

In the

summer

of 1858 Napoleon III. was taking the

waters at Plombieres, where also Count Cavour was on a


visit.

The Emperor's mood was


took the

leisured

and

cordial,

and

Cavour

opportunity of bringing the Court of

Turin into intimate but secret relations with that of the France was to come to the aid of Sardinia under Tuileries.
certain

conditions
not,

in

the event of a war with Austria.


course, inclined
to

Napoleon was

of

serve

Victor
for

Emmanuel

for

naught,

and he therefore

stipulated

Savoy and Nice.

Cavour

also strengthened the position

of Sardinia by arranging a marriage between the Princess


Clotilde, daughter of Victor

cousin. Prince Napoleon.


tions in Sardinia,
political

Emmanuel, and the Emperor's Alarmed at the military preparaas a


at the

and the growth of the kingdom


Europe, Austria

power

in

beginning of 1859

addressed an imperious

demand

for

disarmament, which was

met by Cavour by a curt refusal. The match had been put to the gunpowder and a fight for liberty took place.

The campaign was


army crossed
in

short

but

decisive.

The

Austrian

force

the

Ticino,

then

hesitated

and

VILLAFRANCA
was
lost.

303

If they

had acted promptly they might have

crushed the troops of Piedmont,

whom

they greatly out-

numbered, before the


Alps.

soldiers of

France could cross the


still

The

battle of

Magenta, and the

more deadly
decided
for the

struggle at Solferino

between Austria and the

Allies,

the issue,

and by the beginning of July Napoleon,


situation.

moment, was master of the

The
talks at

French

Emperor, with
his

characteristic
in

duplicity,

had only half revealed


Plombieres.
to

hand

those

confidential
his
race,

Italy

was the cradle of


if

Rome, a federation of small States ruled by princes of his own blood. The public rejoicings at Florence, Parma, Modena,
create,

and he too wished

not a King of

and Bologna, and the ardent expression of the populace


at

such centres for union with Sardinia, made the Emperor

wince,

and
French

showed him
bayonets,
to

that

it

was impossible,
the
aspirations

even
of

with

crush

nation.

Napoleon met Francis Joseph

at Villafranca,
1 1

and
in a

the preliminaries of peace were arranged on July

high-handed fashion, and without even the presence of


Victor

Emmanuel. Lombardy was ceded to

Sardinia,

though

Austria was

allowed to keep Venetia and the fortress of


;

and the Grand Duke of Tuscany and the Duke of Modena were
restored to

Mantua.

France afterwards took Nice and Savoy

power.

The Treaty

of Zurich ratified these

terms in the month of November.

Meanwhile it was

officially

Emperor of Austria and the Emperor of the French would favour the creation of an Italian Conannounced
federation
Father.'

that the

'

under the honorary presidency of the Holy


Cesaresco, in a brilliant
'

The Countess Martinengo


published within the
last

book

few months on

The

Liberation

304
of
Italy,'

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


in

describing

Lord John

Russell's

opposition

to

the

terms of peace at Villafranca, and


which, as
:

the

vigorous

protest

Foreign Minister, he
'

made on

behalf

of England, says
that her unity

It

was a happy circumstance

for Italy

had no

better friends than in the English


difficult years.

Government during those


soon
after

Cavour's words,
turn

Villafranca,
belied.'
^

" It

is

England's

now,"
Foreign
III.

were not
Office,

With Lord
to the

John
this

at

the

England rose

occasion.

Napoleon
country,

wished to make a cat's-paw

of

and was

sanguine enough to believe that

Her

Majesty's Govern-

ment would
under
its

take

the

proposed

Italian

Confederation

wing.

Lord Palmerston, Mr. Gladstone, and Lord

John
his

Russell, were not, however, the

men

to

bow

to

his

behests,

and the

latter in particular

could scarcely conceal


'

contempt

for the

scheme of the two emperors.


right to dispose of them.'
if

We

are asked to propose a partition of the peoples of Italy,' he

exclaimed,

'

as

if

we had the
soil,

Lord John contended


presence on Italian

that

Austria,

by virtue of her

was a member of the suggested con-

federation, she, because of the Vatican, the

King

of Naples,

and the two dukes, would virtually

rule the roost.

He wrote to
own House of
their

the British Minister at Florence in favour of a frank expression on the part of the people of

Tuscany of
in

wishes

in

the
that

matter,

and declared

the
lot

Commons
their

he could have neither part not

with any

attempt to deprive the people of Italy of their right to choose

own

ruler.

He

protested against the presence in Italy

of foreign troops, whether French or Austrian,

and

in de-

spatches

to

Paris

and Vienna he made the French and

T/ie Liberation of Italy, 1815-1870, by the Countess Evelyn Martinengo Cesaresco (Seeley and Co. 1895), P- 252.

FRANCE AND AUSTRIA

305

Austrian Governments aware that England was altogether

opposed to any return


which
for

to that

'

system of foreign interference


has been
the
misfor-

upwards

of forty years

tune of Italy and the danger of Europe.'


that

Lord John urged France and Austria should agree not to employ armed

intervention for the future in the affairs of Italy, unless called

upon
III.

to

do so by the unanimous voice of the

five

Great

Powers of Europe.

He

further contended that

Napoleon

should arrange with Pius IX. for the evacuation of

Rome by the troops of France.

He protested in

vain against

the annexation of Savoy and Nice by France, which he

regarded as altogether a retrograde movement.


i860, in a speech in the
that the course

which the

In March House of Commons, he declared Emperor Napoleon had taken was


all

of a kind to produce great distrust

over Europe.

He
an

regarded the annexation of Savoy, not merely as in


act of aggression, but as

itself
'

one which was

likely to
its

lead a

nation so warlike as the French to call

upon

Government

from time to time to commit other acts of aggression.'

England wished
France.
It

to live

on the most

friendly terms with


for

was necessary, however,

the nations of

Europe
rights,

to maintain peace, to respect not

merely each others'


all,

but each others' boundaries, and, above


to disturb that

to restore,
is

and not

'commercial confidence which

the result of peace, which tends to peace,

and which

ulti-

mately forms the happiness of nations.'

When Napoleon

patched up a peace with Francis Joseph, which practically


ignored the aspirations of the Italian people, their indignation
their

knew no bounds, and they determined own redemption.


already
at Solferino,

to

work out
the

Garibaldi had

distinguished himself in

campaign which had culminated

and he now

306
took the
whilst

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


field against the

Bourbons
out
in

in

Naples and
parts

Sicily,
Italy.

insurrections

broke

other

of

France suggested that England should help her in


ing Garibaldi's victorious march, but

arrest-

Lord John was too

old a friend of freedom

to

respond to such a proposal.

He

held that the Neapolitan Government


in

the

iniquities of

which Mr. Gladstone had exposed


indignation in 1851
of
'

an outburst of righteous
reap the consequences

must be

left to

misgovernment which had no


carried thither

parallel in all Europe.'

Garibaldi,

by the enthusiasm of humanity

and

the justice of his cause, entered Naples in triumph on


7,

September
Francis IL
Italy

i860, the day after the ignominious flight of

Victor
later,

Emmanuel was proclaimed King


at

of

two days

and when he met the new Parliament


Turin he was able to declare
Italy of the
:

of his widened realm


'

Our country

is

no more the
:

Romans, nor the


field for

Italy of the

Middle Ages
it

it is

no longer the

every

foreign
Italians.'

ambition,

becomes henceforth the


in the struggle did
all

Italy of the

Lord John's part

him

infinite credit.
crisis,

He

held resolutely to the view

through the

and

in the face of the censure of Austria, France, Prussia,

and

Russia, that the Italians were the best judges of their


interests,

own

and

that the Italian revolution

was as

justifiable

as the English revolution of 1688.

He
turn

declared that, far

from censuring Victor Emmanuel and Count Cavour, her


Majesty's
'

Government preferred

to

its

eyes to the
edifice of

gratifying prospect of a people building

up the

their liberties,

and consolidating the work of

their indepen-

dence, amid the sympathies and good wishes of Europe.'

Foreign Courts might bluster, protest, or sneer, but England

was with her Foreign Minister

and

'

Punch summed up
'

'

ITALY'S

GRATITUDE

307

the verdict of the nation in generous words of doggerel


verse
:

'

Well

said,

Johnny Russell
is

That

latest

despatch
;

You have

sent to Turin

exactly the thing

And
With

again,

my

dear John, you come up to the scratch

a pluck that does credit to you and the Ring.

The utmost enthusiasm

prevailed in

Italy

when

the

terms of Lord John'3 despatch became known.

Count
in

Cavour and General Garibaldi vied with each other


that he

emphatic acknowledgments, and Lord John was assured

was

'

blessed night and morning by twenty millions

of Italians.'

In the summer of 1864

Garibaldi visited

England, and received a greater popular ovation in the


streets of the metropolis

than that which has been accorded

He went down Pembroke Lodge to thank Lord John in person for the help which he had given to Italy in the hour of her greatest need. Lord John received a beautiful expression of the
to

any crowned head

in the

Queen's reign.

to

gratitude of the nation, in the shape of an exquisite marble


statue

by Carlo Romano, representing Young


During subsequent

Italy holding

in her outstretched

arms a diadem, inscribed with the arms


visits to

of

its

united States.

Florence and

San

Remo

he was received with demonstrations of popular


at the latter place, shortly after his final retire-

respect,

and

ment from
me.

office in 1866,
all

he

said, in reply to

an address

'
:

thank you with


I rejoice

my

heart for the honour you have

done

with you in seeing Italy free and independent,

with a monarchical government and under a patriotic king.

The

Italian nation has all the elements


life,

of a prosperous

pohtical

which had been wanting

for

many

centuries.

The union

of religion, liberty, and

civil

order will increase

the prosperity of this beautiful country.'

X 2

308

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


Still

more

delicate

problem of international

policy,

and one which

naturally

susceptibilities, arose in

came much nearer home to English a year which the autumn of 1861

was rendered memorable on one side of the Atlantic by the


outbreak of the Civil War, and on the other by the national
sorrow over the unexpected death, at the early age of fortytwo,

of the

Prince

Consort.

The

latter

event was not

merely an overwhelming and irrevocable loss to the Queen,


but in an emphatic sense a misfortune
said a disaster- to the nation.
It

it

might almost be
until the closing

was not

years

of his

life

that the

personal nobility and political

sagacity of Prince Albert were fully recognised by the English

people.

Brought up

in a small

and narrow German Court,


Majesty's

the

Prince Consort in the early years of her

reign was
in his

somewhat formal

in his

manners and punctilious

that

The published records of the reign show he was inclined to lean too much to the wisdom, which
demands.
'

was not always

profitable to direct,' of

Baron Stockmar, a

trusted adviser of the Court, of autocratic instincts


prejudices,

and strong
race.
first

who

failed to

understand either the genius of the

English
It is

constitution or the

temper of the English

an open secret that the Prince Consort during the

decade of the reign was by no means popular, either with the


classes or the masses.

His position was a

difficult one, for

he was, in the words of one of the chief statesmen of the


reign, at

once the
'

permanent Secretary and the permanent


;

Prime Minister of the Crown


occasions

and there were undoubtedly


office.

when

in

both capacities he magnified his

Even
for

if

the Great Exhibition of 1851


else,
it

had been memorable


the
Prince's
It

nothing

would have been noteworthy as the


in

period which

marked a new departure

relations with all grades of her Majesty's subjects.

not

THE PRINCE CONSORT


only brought him into touch with the people, but
into view, as well as into
affairs,
it

309
brought
of

play, his

practical mastery

and

also his enlightened

sympathy with the progress


activities,

in art

and

science,
It

no

less

than in the commercial

of the nation.

was
the

not, however, until the closing years

of his

life,

when

dreary

escapades of the

Coalition

Ministry were
qualities

beginning to be forgotten, that the great


appreciated to any

of the Prince Consort were

adequate degree.

From

the close of the

Crimean War

to his untimely death, at the beginning of the Civil


in America,

War
once

was

unquestionably the happiest


period in
a
life

as

well as
at

the most influential


sensitive
It

which was

and

upright.

ought in

common

fairness

to

be added that the

character of the Prince mellowed visibly during his later


years,

and

that
for a

the formality of his

earlier

manner was
society of the
if

exchanged

more

genial attitude towards those with

whom
Court.

he came

in contact in the duties

and

Mr. Disraeli told Count Vitzthum that


'

the Prince
life

Consort had outlived the

old stagers

'

of political

with

whom

he was surrounded, he would have given to England


with constitutional guarantees

though

the

'

blessing of

absolute government.'

Although such a verdict palpably


is

overshot the mark,


record, since
tions
it

it

significant in itself

and worthy of
limita-

points both to the strength


life.

and the
in

of an illustrious

There are passages

Lady
to

Russell's diary, of too personal

and too sacred a character

quote, which reveal not only the poignant grief of the Queen,

but the manner

in

which she turned

instinctively in her

burst of need to an old

and trusted adviser of the Crown.


is

High but

artless tribute

paid in the same pages to the


strain of

Queen's devotion to duty under the heart-breaking

3IO

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


home
in

a loss which overshadowed with sorrow every

Engkind

land, as well as the Palace at Windsor, at Christmas, 1861.

The

last act

of the Prince Consort of an

official

was to soften certain expressions


tional peace

in the interests of interna-

and goodwill

in

the famous despatch which


at the
at

was sent by the English Government,


December,
a
to the British

beginning of

Ambassador
Trent

Washington, when

deadlock

suddenly arose between


' '

England and the and war seemed

United States over the


imminent.
Hostilities
in

affair,

had broken out between the North

and the South

the previous July,

and the opinion of


struggle.

England was sharply divided on the merits of the

The bone
refusal of

of contention, to put the matter concisely, was the

South Carolina and ten other States to submit to


It

the authority of the Central Government of the Union.

was an old quarrel which had existed from the foundation


of the of the

American Commonwealth,

for the individual States

Union had always been

jealous of any infringement


;

of the right of self-government


ostensible root of bitterness,

but slavery was

now

the

and matters were complicated


tariffs.

by

radical divergences

on the subject of

The South-

ern States took a high hand against the Federal Government.

They seceded from


pendence

the Union, and announced their inde-

to the world at large,

under the

style

and

title

of

the Confederate States of America.


victory which followed the
first

Flushed by the opening

appeal to the sword, the

Confederate Government determined to send envoys to

Europe.
at the

Messrs.

Mason and

Slidell

embarked

at

Havana,

beginning of November, on board the British mail'

steamer Trent,' as representatives to the English and French

Governments

respectively.

The 'Trent' was stopped on


'

her voyage by the American man-of-war

San

Jacinto,'

and

THE 'TRENT' AFFAIR

3II

Captain Wilkes, her commander, demanded that the Confederate envoys


to his charge.

and

their secretaries should

be handed over

The

captain of the

'

Trent

'

made

a vigorous

protest against this sort of

armed

intervention, but

he had
Slidell

no

alternative except to yield,

and Messrs. Mason and

were carried back to America and lodged in a military fortress.

The 'Trent' arrived at Southampton on November 27, and when her captain told his story indignation knew no bounds. The law of nations had been set at defiance, and
the right of asylum under the British flag had been violated.

The clamour
fierce

of the Press and of the streets grew suddenly

and

strong,

and the universal feehng of the moment


'

found expression

in the phrase,

Bear

this,

bear

all.'

Lord

John Russell at once addressed a vigorous remonstrance to the American Government on an act of violence which was
'

an affront to the British


law.'

flag

and a

violation of international

He made it plain
;
'

that her Majesty's Ministers were not


'

prepared to allow such an insult to pass without


ration
but, at the
'

full

repait

same

time,

he refused to believe that


'

could be the

deliberate intention

of the Government of
so grave a question.

the United States to force

upon them

He
its

therefore expressed the


at

hope that the United States of


'

own accord would


added
that this

once

offer to the British

Govern-

ment such redress

as alone could satisfy the British nation.'

He

must take the form of the

liberation of

the envoys

and

their secretaries, in

order that they might

again be placed under British protection, and that such an


act

must be accompanied by a

suitable apology.
;

President

Lincoln and Mr. Seward reluctantly gave way

but their

decision was hastened by the war preparations in England,

and the protests which France, Austria,


Italy

Prussia, Russia,

and

made

against so wanton an outrage,

312

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


took
if its

The war
occasion as

course,

and

it

seemed on more than one


it

England must take

sides in a struggle which,

soon became apparent, was to be fought out to the bitter end.

Thoughts of mediation had occurred, both


ston

to

Lord Palmer-

and Lord

Russell,

and

in

1862 they contemplated the

thankless task of mediation, but the project was


as at least premature.

abandoned
of

Feeling ran high in England over the


'

discussion as to whether the

great domestic institution

'

Negro slavery

really lay at the basis of the struggle or not,

and

public opinion was split into hostile camps.

Sympathy with
and the bravery
persisted

the North was alienated by the

marked honours which were


;
'

paid to the

commander

of the

'

San Jacinto

with which the South fought, for what


in declaring

many people

was merely therightof self-government, kindled

enthusiasm for those who struggled against overwhelming


odds.

In the summer of 1862 a new

difficulty arose,

and

the maintenance of international peace was once


perilled.

more im-

The

blockade of the Southern ports crippled the

Confederate Government, and an armed cruiser was built on


the Mersey to wage a war of retaliation on the high seas
against
'

the merchant
'

ships

of the

North.

When

the

Alabama was almost ready the Federal Government got wind of the matter, and formally protested against the ship
being allowed to put to
sea.

of

The Cabinet submitted the question to delay followed, and whilst the Crown
;

the law officers

the matter was

still

under deliberation the

'

Alabama,' on the pretext of a

trial trip,

escaped, and began at once her remarkable career

of

destruction.

The

late

Lord

Selborne,
for

who

at

that

time

was

Solicitor-General,

wrote

these

pages

the

following detailed and,


of what transpired,

of course, authoritative statement


facts

and the

which he recounts show


THE 'ALABAMA' DIFFICULTY
that

313
which

Lord

Russell, in spite of the generous admission


in his
'

he himself made

Recollections,'

was

in reality not

responsible for a blunder which almost led to war,

and which
England

when submitted
besides
'

to arbitration at

Geneva

cost

much

irritation

the sum of 3,000,000/.


for

It

was when Lord Russell was Secretary of State

Foreign Affairs, during the American Civil War, and when I

was one of the

Law

Officers of the

Crown, that

I first

bethat

came
I

personally well acquainted with

him

and from

time he honoured

me

with his friendship.

In this way

had good opportunities of knowledge on some subjects as to which he has been at times misrepresented or misunderstood
;

and perhaps

may

best

do honour
that

to his

memory by
'

referring to those subjects.

There can be no idea more unfounded than


call in

which

would

question his friendliness towards the United

States during their contest with the Confederates.

But he

had a strong sense, both of the duty of strictly observing all obligations incumbent on this country as a neutral Power
by the law of nations, and of the danger of innovating

upon them by the admission of claims on either side, not warranted by that law as generally understood, and with which, in the then state both of our own and of the
American Neutrality Laws,
it

would have been

practically

impossible for the Government of a free country to comply.

As a

general principle, the freedom of commercial dealings


citizens of

between the

neutral State

and

belligerents,

subject to the right of belligerents to protect themselves


against breach of blockade or carriage of contraband,

had

been universally allowed, and by no nation more insisted on


than by the United States.
safe

Lord Russell did not think

it

or

expedient to endeavour to restrict that liberty.

314

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


asked to put
in force

When

Acts of Parliament

made
it

for the

better protection of our neutrahty, he took, with promptitude

and with absolute good

faith,

such measures as
in

would

have been proper to take

in

any case
;

which our own


was

public interests were concerned

but he thought (and in


in thinking) that
it

my judgment
statute law, to

he was entirely right

not the duty of a British Minister, seeking to enforce British

add

to other risks of failure that of

uncon-

stitutional disregard of the securities for the liberty of the

subject, provided

by the system on which British laws

generally are administered


'

and enforced.
fault or negligence of

It

was not through any


that

Lord
vessel

Russell

the

ship

"Alabama," or any other

equipped

for the

war service of the Confederate

States, left
all

the ports of this country.

The

course taken by him in

those cases was the same.


facie evidence of

He

considered that

^omQprmta

an actual or intended violation either of


was necessary, and that

our

own law

or of the law of nations (such as might be


in

produced

in a court of justice)

judging whether there was such evidence he ought to be

guided by the advice of the

Law

Officers of the

Crown.

To

obtain

such evidence, he did not neglect any means


in his power.

which the law placed


of Customs

If in

any case the Board

may have been

ill-advised,

and omitted

(as Sir

Alexander Cockburn thought) to take precautions which they


ought otherwise to have taken,
Russell
;

this

was no

fault of

Lord

still

less

was he chargeable with the delay of three

or four days which took place in the case of the " Alabama,"
in

consequence of the
;

illness of the

Queen's Advocate, Sir

John Harding gone to sea.

without which that vessel might never have

'Lord Russell stated to Mr. Adams, immediately

after-

LORD SELBORNE'S EXPLANATION


wards,
of
that
that
Sir

315
cause
in

John Harding's iUness was the

delay.

No

one then called that statement


not

question,

which

could

have

been

good foundation.
almost everybody

But

after a lapse of

made without many years, when

who had known

the exact circumstances


it

was dead,

stories inconsistent with

obtained currency.
in 1881, in a

Of

these, the

most remarkable was published

book widely
Mozley.

read, the

"Reminiscences" of the late Thomas


appears to have persuaded himself
in fact) that " there

The

writer

(certainly without

any foundation

was

not one of her Majesty's Ministers

who was

not ready to

jump out

of his skin for joy


^

the 'Alabama.' "

" shortly after the

'

when he heard of the escape of He said that he met Sir John Harding Alabama had got away," and was told
'

by him that he
nication from

(Sir

John) had been expecting a commubefore,


for

Government anxiously the whole week

that the expectation had unsettled

and unnerved him

other business, and that he had stayed in chambers rather


later
last

than usual on Saturday for the chance of hearing at

from them.

He

had then gone

to his

house in the

country.

Returning on Monday, when he was engaged to

appear in court, he found a large bundle of documents in a


big envelope, without even an accompanying note, that

had

been dropped into the letter-box on Saturday evening.


all

To

appearance, every letter and every


it

remonstrance and

every affidavit, as fast as


piled in a pigeon-hole

arrived from Liverpool,

had been
for the

till

four or five o'clock on Saturday,


his

when the
country,
carry
'

Minister,

on taking

own departure

had directed a

clerk to tie

up the whole heap and

it

to Doctors'

Commons.

The

facts are, that in the earlier stage of that business,


*

Second

edition, 1892, chap. xcii.

3l6

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

before July 23, the Attorney- and Solicitor-General only were


consulted,
it.

and

No

part

John Harding knew nothing at all about of the statement said by Mr. Mozley to have
Sir
;

been made to him could possibly be true


the whole time in question Sir
for

because during

John Harding was under care unsoundness of mind, from which he never even partially

recovered, and which prevented

him from attending


in that condition

to

any

kind of business, or going into court, or to his chambers, or


to his country house.

He

was

on July

23,

when the depositions on which the question of the detention of the " Alabama "
1862 (Wednesday, not Saturday)
turned were received at the Foreign Office.
not knowing that he was
ill,

Lord

Russell,

and thinking

it

desirable,

from
all

the importance of the matter, to have the opinion of

the three

Law

Officers (of

whom

the Queen's Advocate was

then senior in rank), sent them on the same day, with the
usual covering
letter, for that

opinion

and they must have


ordinary course,

been delivered by the messenger,


at Sir

in the

John Harding's house or chambers. There they remained till, the delay causing inquiry, they were recovered and sent to the Attorney-General,

who

received

them on Monday, the


that the ship should
early the next

28th,

and

lost

no time in holding a conTheir opinion, advising


in

sultation with the Solicitor-General.

be stopped, was
;

Lord

Russell's

hands

morning

and he sent an order by telegraph


;

to Liverpool to stop her

but before

it

could be executed

she had gone to sea.


'

Some

of the facts relating to Sir


lately, in

John Harding's

illness

remained, until

more

or less obscurity,

and Mr.

Mozley's was not the only erroneous version of them which


got
as
if

abroad.

One such

version having

been mentioned,
of

authentic, in a debate in the

House

Commons on

THE QUESTION OF ARBITRATION


March
been
17, 1893, I

317
it
;

wrote to the " Times

" to

correct

and

in confirmation of
Sir

my

statement the gentleman

John Harding's medical attendant in July forward, and by reference to his diary, kept at the

who had 1862 came


time,

placed the facts and dates beyond


'

future controversy.
"

In the diplomatic correspondence, as to the " Alabama


States,

and other subjects of complaint by the United


not failed in any duty of neutrality
sagacious Minister

Lord

Russell stood firmly upon the ground that Great Britain had
;

and Lord Lyons, the

who then

represented this country at

Washington, thought there would be

much more danger

to

our future relations with the United States in any departure

from that position than in


to
it.

strict

and steady adherence

But no sooner was the war ended than new currents


in.

of opinion set of

In a debate on the subject in the House


6,

Commons on March
who had

1868,

Lord Stanley (then Foreign


it

Secretary),

never been of the same mind about

with

his less cautious friends, said that a " tendency might be de-

tected to be almost too ready to accuse ourselves of faults

we

had not committed, and


known.

to

assume that on every doubtful

point the decision ought to be against us."

The

sequel

is

well

The

Conservative Government consented to refer

to arbitration, not all the questions raised

by the Government

of the United States, but those arising out of the ships alleged
to have

been equipped or to have received augmentation of


dominions
for the

force within the British

war service of the

Confederate States

and from

that concession

no other
any

Government could recede.


or

For a long time the Government


States objected to
re-

the Senate of the United

ference so limited,

and

to the last they refused to


it

go into an

open

arbitration.

They made

a condition, that

new Rules

should be formulated, not only for future observance, but for

3l8

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


own
claims.

retrospective application to their


tion,

This condi-

unprecedented and open in principle to the gravest

objections,

was

accepted for the sake of peace with a


;

nation so

nearly allied to us

not,

however, without an

express declaration, on the face of the Treaty of Washington,


that the British

Government could not assent

to those

new

Rules as a statement of principles of international law which


were in force when the claims arose.
'

While the Commissioners


was

at

Washington were engaged


communication both
not be brought to

in their deliberations, I

in frequent

with Lord Granville and other members of the Cabinet, and


also with

Lord

Russell,

who could

approve of that way of

settling the controversy.

He

had an

invincible repugnance to
affecting the

the reference

of any questions

honour and good

faith of this country, or its


;

internal administration, to foreign arbitrators

and bethought
any reciprocal

those questions would not be excluded by the proposed

arrangement.

He

felt

no confidence
in his view,

that

advantages to this
Rules.

country would be obtained from the new


effect,

Their only

would be

to

send us

handicapped into the


the

arbitration.

He

did not believe that

United States would follow the example which we


set,

had

by strengthening

their Neutrality
so, to

Laws

or that

they would be able, unless they did


of the Rules

prevent violations
in

by

their citizens in

any future war


neutral,

which

we might be
ment of
Portugal.

belligerent

and they

any more than


Spain and

they had been able in former times to prevent the equipships


It

within

their

territory

against

was not without

difficulty that

he restrained
;

himself from giving public expression to those views

but,

from generous and patriotic motives, he did


is

so.

The sequel

not likely to have convinced him that his apprehensions

THE COTTON FAMINE


were groundless.

319

The
the

character of the " Case " presented

on

the part

of

United

States,

with the

"indirect

claims,"

and the arguments used

to support them,
at

would
all,

have prevented the arbitration from proceeding


for

but

action of an

unusual kind taken by the arbitrators.

In such of their decisions as were adverse to this country,


the arbitrators founded themselves entirely

upon the new


done

Rules, without any reference to general international law or


historical

precedents

and the United

States have

nothing,

down

to this day, to strengthen their Neutrality


it,

Laws, though certainly requiring


did before 1870.'

at least as

much

as ours

Lord Russell then held


Majesty's

resolutely to the view that her


steadily

Government had
strict neutrality,

endeavoured to maintain
in

a policy of
at the

and so long as he was

power

Foreign

Office, or at the Treasury, the

the United States for

demands of compensation were ignored. Mean-

while, there arose a mighty famine in Lancashire through

the failure of the cotton supply, and 800,000 operatives were

thrown, through no fault of their own, on the charity of


the nation, which rose splendidly to meet the occasion.
All classes of the

community were bound more


uncomplaining
heroism

closely to-

gether in the gentle task of philanthropy, as well as in

admiration

of

the

with

which

privation was

met by the

suffering workpeople.

320

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

CHAPTER XVI
SECOND PREMIERSHIP
I

865-1 866
for

The

Bismarck's bid power The Schleswig-Holstein Death of Lord Palmerston The Queen summons Lord John The second Russell Administration Lord John's tribute Cave of Palmerston Mr. Gladstone introduces Reform The Adullam Defeat of the Russell Government The people accept the country. Lowe's challenge The feeling
Polish Revolt
difficulty

to

'

'

in

Lord John,

in his

conduct of foreign
Italy

affairs,

acted with

generosity towards

and with mingled firmness and


It

patience towards America.

was a fortunate circumstance,


sides of the Atlantic,

for the great interests at stake

on both

that a man of so much judgment and right feeHng was in power at a moment when prejudice was strong and passion ran high. Grote, who was by no means consumed with en-

thusiasm for the Palmerston Government, did not conceal


his admiration of

perfect neutrality

Lord John's of England

sagacity at this

crisis.

'

The
war

in the destructive civil

now

raging in America appears to

me almost
last

phenomenon
It is

in political history.

No

such forbearance has been shown

during the political history of the


the single
public,

two centuries.

case in which the English Government and


so

generally

meddlesome, have displayed

most

prudent and commendable forbearance in spite of great

BISMARCK SHOWS HIS HAND


temptations to the contrary.'

32

Lord John had opinions,


no greater calamity

and the courage of them


himself fully alive

but at the same time he showed

to the fact that

could possibly overtake the English-speaking race than a

war between England and the United States.

Europe was

filled

at the

beginning of 1863 with tidings


Russia provoked the outbreak

of a renewed Polish revolt.

by the stern measures which had been taken in the previous


year to repress the growing discontent of the people.

The

conspiracy was too widespread and too deep-rooted for

Alexander

II. to

deal with, except by concessions to national

sentiment, which he was not prepared to make, and, therefore,

he

fell

back on despotic use of power.

All able-bodied

men

suspected of revolutionary tendencies were marked

out for service in the Russian army, and in this way, in

Lord John's words, the


into

'

so-called conscription was turned


lot

proscription.'

The

was made

to

fall

on
for

all
life

political

suspects,

who were

to

be condemned

to

follow the

hated Russian

flag.

The
war.

result

was not

merely armed resistance,, but


struggle for liberty, was joined

civil

Poland, in her
;

by Lithuania

but Prussia

came

to the help of the Czar,

and the

protests of England,

France, and Austria were of no avail.

Before the year


in

ended the dreams

of

self-government
cruelty,

Poland, after

months of bloodshed and


dispelled.

were again ruthlessly

One
on
the

diplomatic

difficulty

followed another in quick

succession.

Bismarck was beginning to move the pawns


of

chess-board

Europe.

He

had

conciliated

Russia by taking sides with her against the Poles in spite


of the attitude of London, Paris, and Vienna. the
spirit

He

feared
in

of insurrection would

spread to the Poles

322
Prussia,

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


and had
no sympathy with
blood and iron
'

the

aspirations

of

oppressed nationaUties.
strong

His pohcy was to make Prussia

if

need be by

'

so that she might

become mistress of Germany. The death of Frederick VII. of Denmark provoked a fresh crisis and revived in an
acute form the question of succession to the duchies of
Schleswig-Holstein.

The Treaty

of

London
and
its

in

1852 was

supposed to have settled the question,


accepted by Austria and Prussia.

terms had been

The

integrity of

Denmark

was recognised, and Prince Christian of Glucksburg was


accepted as heir-presumptive of the reigning king.

The

German
and the

Diet did not regard this arrangement as binding,


feeling in the

duchies themselves, especially in

Holstein,

was against the claims of Denmark.

But the

Hereditary Prince Frederick of Augustenburg disputed the


right of Christian IX. to the Duchies,

and Bismarck induced

Austria to join Prussia in the occupation of the disputed


territory.
It
is

impossible

to

enter
to

here into

the

merits

of

the

quarrel,

much
it.

less

describe

the course

of

the

struggle or the complicated diplomatic negotiations

which
that

grew out of

Denmark undoubtedly imagined


Government

the energetic protest of the English

against

her dismemberment would not end in mere words.

The

language used by both Lord Palmerston and Lord John


Russell was
adoption, in
of
a

kind to
last

encourage the

idea

of the

the

extremity,

of another policy than


it

that of non-intervention.

Bismarck, on the other hand,

has been said with truth, had taken up the cause of Schleswig-Holstein, not in the interest of
the interests of Germany, and by
its

inhabitants, but in

Government of Berlin and the

Germany he meant the House of Hohenzollern. He

AS SCHOOLMASTER ABROAD

323

represented not merely other ideas, but other methods than


those which prevailed with statesmen
to recall the wars of

who were

old enough

Napoleon and the


It

partition of

Europe

to

which they gave


not show to

rise.

must be admitted
in

that

England

did

advantage

the

Schleswig-Holstein
;

difficulty,

in spite of the

soundness of her counsels


affair

and Lord

Bismarck's triumph in the


policy on which
it

was as complete as the


adroit.

was based was bold and

Palmerston and Lord John were embarrassed on the one

hand by the apathy of Russia and France and on the


other by the cautious, not to say timid, attitude of theif

own

colleagues.

'As

to Cabinets,' wrote

Lord Palmerston,

with dry humour, in reply to a note in which Lord John

hinted that

if

the Prime Minister and himself had been

given a free hand they could have kept Austria from war

with Denmark,
sat

'

if

we had had

colleagues like those

who

in

Pitt's

Cabinet, such as Westmoreland and others,


as those

or such

men

who were
I

with Peel, like Goulburn


in

and Hardinge, you and


most
fill

might have had our own way


as
is

things.

But when,

now

the case, able

men
busy

every department,
to

such

men

will

have opinions and


too

hold

them.

Unfortunately, they are often

with their own department to follow up foreign questions


so as to be fully masters of them, and their conclusions
are generally
best.'
1

on the timid

side

of what

might be the

Lord John wrote


hot's

to Foreign

Courts
the

was

Mr. Bage-

shrewd criticism

much
in

in

he was accustomed to speak

same manner as the House of Commons.

In other words, he used great plainness of speech, and,


*

Life

and Correspondence of Visconnt Palmerston, by


vol.
ii.

the

Hon,

Evelyn Ashley,

p. 438.

Y 2

324

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


clear, he,

because of the very desire to make his meaning

was occasionally indiscreetly

explicit

and even brusque.


grew

Sometimes
critical

it

happened that the

intelligent foreigner

at

Lord John's expense.

Count Vitzthum,
'

for ex-

ample, laid stress on the fact that Lord John looked on the
British

Constitution as an inimitable masterpiece,' which

less-favoured nations ought not only to admire but adopt,


if

they wished to advance and go forward in the direction

of liberty, prosperity,

and peace.
a sting.
petrel

There was

just

enough

truth in such assertions to render


'not

them amusing, though


of foreign politics, but
to labour in season

enough

to give

them
'

There were times when


'

Lord John was the stormy


there never was a time

when he ceased

and out
'

for

what he believed to be the honour of England.


any English foreign statesman, who

do not

believ^e that

does his duty faithfully by his

own countrymen

in difficult

circumstances, can escape the blame of foreign statesmen,'

were his own words, and he assuredly came in


share of abuse in Europe.

for

his full

One

of Lord John Russell's

subordinates at

the Foreign Office, well


life

known and
to write

dis-

tinguished in the political

of to-day, declares that Lord

John,

like

Lord Clarendon, was accustomed

many
It

drafts of despatches with his

own hand, but as

a rule did not

go with equal minuteness into the

detail of the work.

sometimes happened that he would take sudden resolutions


without adequate consideration of the points involved
;

but

he would always
convinced
that

listen patiently to

objections,

and when
willing
to

he was wrong was perfectly

modify his opinion.


did not

In most cases, however. Lord John


his

mind without due reflection, and under such circumstances he showed no vacillation. No
from abroad, however
startling or unpleasant,

make up

tidings

seemed

COBDEN AND PALMERSTON


able
to

325

disturb his equanimity.

He

was an extremely
to listen to

considerate chief, but, though always willing


his subordinates,

kept his

own counsel and seldom took

them much

into his confidence.

The

year 1865 was rendered memorable both in England


first

and America by the death of statesmen of the


reform,

rank.

In the spring, that great master of reason and economic

Richard Cobden, died

in
;

London,

after

a few

days' illness, in the prime of

life

and almost before the


loss,

nation realised the greatness of such a


across

tidings

came

the

Atlantic

that
at

President

Abraham
the

Lincoln

had

been assassinated by a

Washington, in

hour of

triumph, by a cowardly fanatic.

was made

restless

The summer in England General Election. Though Bright


lost his
'

denounced Lord Palmerston, and Mr. Gladstone


seat
at

Oxford,

to

stand

unmuzzled
was not

'

a few

days
the

later

before the

electors

of South- West

Lancashire,

pre-

dicted
fact.

Conservative reaction

an

accomplished

Lord Palmerston's ascendency


still

in the country,
his

though

diminished, was

great,

and the magic of

name

carried the election.

'It is clear,'

wrote Lord John to the


latter,

plucky octogenarian Premier, when the


before the contest,
'

some time
and deep

made
is

a fighting speech in the country,

that your popularity

a plant of hardy growth

roots.'

Quite suddenly, in the spring of 1865, Lord Palmer-

ston began to look as old as his years, and as the

summer
elasticity

became apparent of temperament had vanished.


slipped past,
it

that the

buoyant

On

October 18 the great

Minister died in harness, and Lord John Russell,

who was
had
their

only eight years younger, was called to the helm.

The two men, more than once


serious misunderstandings,

in
lips

mid-career,

and envious

had done

326
best to widen

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


their

differences.

It

is

pleasant to think
cordial

now

that

Pahiierston

and Russell were on

and

intimate terms during the critical six years,

when

the former

held for the

last

time the post of First Minister of the Crown,


for

and the

latter

was responsible

Foreign Affairs.

It is true

that they were not of

one mind on the question of

Parlia-

mentary Reform

but Lord John, after i860 at

least,

was

content to waive that question, for he saw that the nation, as


well as the

Prime Minister, was opposed

to a forward

moveand

ment

in that direction,
at

and the
the

strain

of war abroad

famine

home hindered
problems.

calm discussion

of con-

stitutional

Lord Lyttelton

used to say that

Palmerston was regarded as a Whig because he belonged


to
lot

Lord Grey's Government, and had always thrown


with that statesman's political posterity.

in his

At the same
as

time,

Lord Lyttelton held

even

as

late

1865 -that
affairs,

a
it

'

more genuine Conservative,


to find.'

especially in

home

would not be easy

Palmerston gave Lord John

Russell his active support in the attitude which the latter took

up

at

the Foreign Office on

all

the great questions which


at a period

arose,

sometimes

in a

sudden and dramatic form,

when

the power of

Napoleon

III.,

in spite of theatrical

display,

was declining, and Bismarck was shaping with conskill

summate

the fortunes of Germany.

The day after

Palmerston's death her Majesty wrote in the

following terms to

Lord John

Lord Palmerston's
This
the
is

The melancholy news of death reached the Queen last night.


'
:

another link with the past that


feels

is

broken, and

Queen
how,

deeply in her desolate and isolated contried

dition

one by one,
her.
. .
.

servants

and advisers are


no other
friend of hers, to

taken from

The Queen can


an old

turn to

than Lord

Russell,

and

tried

PRIME MINISTER

327

undertake the arduous duties of Prime Minister, and to


carry

on the Government.'

Such a
that

command was met


he was wilhng to

by Lord John with the response


act
if

his

colleagues were prepared to serve under him.


in the councils

Mr. Gladstone's position in the country and

of the Liberal Party had been greatly strengthened by his


rejection at Oxford,

and by the subsequent boldness and

fervour of his speeches in Lancashire.

He forestalled Lord
spirit, to

John's letter by offering, in a frank and generous


serve under the old Liberal leader.
that he

Mr. Gladstone declared


his

was quite willing to take


banner,'

chance under Lord


Chancellor

John's

'

and

to continue his services as


offer

of the Exchequer.

This

was of course accepted, and

Mr. Gladstone also took Lord Palmerston's place as Leader


of the

House

of

Commons.

Lord Cranworth became Lord


of Argyll and Sir George Grey

Chancellor, Lord Clarendon took Lord John's place at the

Foreign Office, the

Duke

resumed

their old positions as

Lord Privy Seal and

Home

Secretary.

After a short interval, Mr.

Goschen and Lord


;

Hartington were raised to Cabinet rank

while Mr. Forster,


respectively
;

Lord

Dufferin,

and Mr.

Stansfeld

became

Under-Secretaries for the Colonies, War, and India

but

Lord John,

in spite of strong pressure, refused to

admit

Mr. Lowe to his Cabinet.

At the Lord Mayor's banquet


took occasion to pay a

in

November, Lord John


Palmerston
qualified to
'
:

warm

tribute to

It is

great loss indeed, because he was a

man
all

conduct

the country successfully through

the vicissitudes of war

and

peace.'

He

declared that Lord Palmerston displayed

resolution, resource, promptitude,

and vigour
also

in the

conduct

of foreign

affairs,

showed himself

able to maintain
relation-

internal tranquillity, and,

by extending commercial

328

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


'

ships, to give to the country the

whole

fruits of

the blessings

of peace.'

He added

that

Lord Palmerston's heart never

ceased to beat for the honour of England,

and

that his

mind
field

comprehended and
which
is

his experience

embraced the whole

covered by the interests of the nation.


of his conviction that,
if

The new Premier made no secret


the Ministry was to
last, it

must be

either frankly Liberal or

frankly Conservative.
matter,
certain

As he had the chief voice in the and was bent on a new Reform Bill, it became, after changes had been effected, much more progressive
possible

than was

under Palmerston.
i,

Parliament was
in person, for

opened on February
the
first

1866, by the

Queen

time since the death of the Prince Consort, and

the chief point of interest in the Speech from the

Throne
attention

was the guarded promise of a Reform

Bill.

The

of Parliament was to be called to information concerning the


right of voting with a view to such

improvements as might

tend to strengthen our free institutions and conduce to


the public welfare.
slowly, for

Lord John determined


his colleagues

to

make

haste

some of
all,

were hardly inclined to

make
had

haste at

since

they

shared Lord Palmerston's

views on the subject and distrusted the Radical cry which


arisen since the industrial revolution.

The Premier

and Mr. Gladstone


of

for they

were a kind of Committee


the

Two were

content for

revision of the franchise,

and

to leave in

moment to propose a ambush for another


'

session the vexed question involved in a redistribution of


seats.
'

It

was decided,'

states

Lord John,
After
at

that

it

would

be best to separate the question of the franchise from that


of the disfranchisement of boroughs.

much

inquiry,

we agreed
of
7/.

to fix the suffrages of

boroughs

an occupation

value.'

THE CAVE OF ADULLAM


The House
Mr.
but,

329

of

Commons

was densely packed when

Gladstone
in

introduced
of his powers

the

measure on March

12,

spite

of exposition
fell

and

infectious
flat.

enthusiasm, the Government proposals

undeniably

Broadly stated, they were as follows.

The county

franchise

was to be dropped to
stated, to half that

14/.,

and

that of the borough, as already

amount, whilst compound householders


10/.

and lodgers paying

a year were to possess votes.

It

was computed at the time that the measure would add four

hundred thousand new voters

to the existing

lists,

and

that

two hundred thousand of these would belong to what Lord

John termed the


and those

'

best of the working classes.'

Mr. Bright,

whom

he represented, not only

in

Birmingham,

but also in every great city and town in the land, gave their
support to the Government, on the principle that this was
at least

an

'

honest

'

measure, and that half a

loaf,

moreover,

was better than no bread. was not greatly though


it

At the same time the country


indignation

stirred

one way or another by the scheme,

stirred to panic-stricken

men

of the

stamp of Mr. Lowe, Mr. Horsman, Lord Elcho, Earl Grosvenor.

Lord Dunkellin, and other

so-called, but very indif-

ferent. Liberals,

who had attached themselves

to the party

under Lord Palmerston's happy-go-lucky and easy auspices.

These were the men who presently distinguished themselves,

and extinguished the Russell Administration by


lous fear of the democracy.

their ridicu-

They
selfish,

retired into

what Mr.

Bright termed the

'

political

cave of Adullam,' and, as Lord

John
both

said,
selfish

the 'timid,
'

the

and those who were


company.
and,

and timid joined the

sorry

The

Conservatives saw their


it.

opportunity,

being

human, took

Lord

Grosvenor brought forward an


to the

amendment

calling

attention

omission of a redis-


330
tribution scheme.

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

debate, which occupied eight nights,


it

followed,
in

and when

was

in

progress,
as

Mr. Gladstone,

defending his

own conduct

Leader of the House,

incidentally paid an impressive tribute to the

memorable
:

and protracted
'

services in the

If, sir,

had been the

Commons of Lord John man who, at the very outset


upon two
great

of

his career, wellnigh half a century ago, had with an almost

prophetic foresight fastened


questions,

groups

of
the
to

those great historic questions relating to


civil

removal of

disabilities for religious opinions


;

and

Parliamentary Reform

if I

had been the man who, having


first

thus in his early youth, in the very


career, fixed

stage of his political


his

upon those questions and made them


triumph
in

own,

then went on to prosecute them with sure and unflagging


instinct until the
I

each case had been achieved

if

had been the man whose name had been associated and often
in the very first place of

for

forty years,

eminence, with

every element of beneficent legislation


I

in other words, had


some tempa presthis

been Earl Russell, then there might have been

tation to pass into excess

on the exercise of authority, and

some excuse

for the

endeavour to apply to
But,
sir,

House

sure in itself unjustifiable.

am

not Earl Russell.'


lost

In the end, Lord Grosvenor's

amendment was

by a

majority equal only to the fingers of one hand.

Such an un-

mistakeable expression of opinion could not be disregarded,

and the Government brought


Bill at

in a Redistribution of Seats

the beginning of May.

They proposed
less

that

thirty

boroughs having a population of

than eight thousand

should be deprived of one member, whilst nineteen other


seats

were

obtained

by joint representation

in

smaller
hostile

boroughs.

After running the gauntlet of

much

criticism, the bill

was read a second time, but the Govern-

FALL OF THE RUSSELL GOVERNMENT


ment were forced
Lord
to refer
it

33
to a

and the franchise scheme

committee, which was empowered to deal with both schemes.


Stanley, Mr.

Ward Hunt, and Mr. Walpole


Government

assailed

with successive motions, which were more or less narrowly


rejected,

various points in the

proposals,

and

the opposition grew

more and more stubborn.

At length
to

Lord Dunkellin (son of the Earl of Clanricarde) moved


substitute rating for rental in the boroughs
;

and the Govern-

ment, in a House of

six

hundred and nineteen members,

were defeated on June 18 by a majority of eleven.

The

excitement which met this announcement was extraordinary,

and when

it

was followed next day by tidings that the Russell

Administration was at an end, those


country cared
little

who thought

that the

about the question found themselves

suddenly disillusioned.

Burke declared

that

there

were

moments when
of
the

it

became necessary
behalf
of
their

for the
rights.

people themselves to interpose on

The overthrow

Russell

Administration took the nation by surprise.


after

Three days

Lord John's resignation there was a

historic gathering

in Trafalgar Square.

In his speech announcing the resigna-

Lord John warned Parliament about the danger of alienating the sympathy of the people from
tion of his Ministry,

the

Crown and

the aristocracy.

He

reminded the Peers


only in the United
his stand in
era,

that universal

suffrage prevailed not

States but in our

own Colonies
larger

and he took

the

light

of the

needs of the new

on the
Bill

assertion

of Lord Grey at the time of the

Reform
'

that only a large

measure was a

safe measure.

We

have

made
is

the

attempt,'

added

Lord

John,

'sincerely

and

anxiously to perform the duties of reconciling that which

due

to the Constitution of the country with that

which

332
is

LORD JOHN RUSSELL


to the

due

growing intelligence, the increasing wealth,


virtue,

and the manifest forbearance,


people/

and order of the

He

protested against a niggardly and ungenerous

treatment of so

momentous a

question.

Lord

Russell's

words were not lost on Mr. Bradlaugh.


to the twenty

He

made them the text of his speech people who assembled in Trafalgar
walked
ton
in procession to give

thousand

Square, and afterwards


in Carl-

Mr. Gladstone an ovation

House

Terrace.

About

three weeks later another great

demonstration was announced to take place

under the auspices of the Reform League.

Hyde Park, The authorities


in

refused to allow the gathering, and, after a formal protest,

the meeting was held at the former

rendezvous.

The
to the

mixed multitude who had followed the procession


Park gates took the repulse
as
less calmly,

with the result that,

much by
little

accident as by design, the Park railings for the

space of half a mile were thrown down.

Force

is

no remedy,

but a

of

it

is

sometimes a good object-lesson, and


unpremeditated display occasioned

the panic which

this

amongst the
takeable.

valiant defenders of law

and order was unmis-

Mr. Lowe had flouted the people, and had publicly


asserted that those
really

who were without


it.

the franchise did not

care

to

possess

Forty-three

other

so-called

Liberals in the

House

of

Commons
'

were apparently of the

same way of
that

thinking, for the Russell Administration was


'

defeated by forty-four

Liberal

votes.

This in

itself

shows

Lord John, up
great towns,

to the

hour

in

which he was driven from

power, was far in advance of one section of his followers.

The

and more

particularly

Birmingham, Man;

chester,

and Leeds, promptly took up the challenge

and

in

those three centres alone half a million of people assembled


'DISHING THE WHIGS
to
'

333

make

energetic protest against the contemptuous dismissal

of their claims.

The

fall

of the Park railings appealed to

the fear of the classes, and aroused the enthusiasm of the


masses.
It is scarcely

too

much

to say that if they

had been

demolished a month have carried


lost
its

earlier the Russell

Government would
Disraeli

Reform

proposals,

and

would have
defeat of

his

chance of 'dishing the Whigs.'

The

Lord John Russell was a virtual triumph.


from power by a
rally of

He

was driven

reactionary forces at the very

moment when he was fighting


from his book, and bringing
reform.
*

the battle of the people. ^

The

Tories were only able to hold their


in a

own by borrowing a leaf more drastic measure of

In a letter written in the spring of 1867, Lord Houghton refers to


'

Mr. Gladstone as being


cleverness of Dizzy. '

quite

awed
:

He

adds

'

for the moment by the ' diabolical Delane says the extreme party for
'

Reform are now the grandees, and that the Dukes are quite ready to Hyde Park.' The Life, Letters, and Friendships of Lord Houghton^ by Sir Wemyss Reid, vol. ii. pp. 174-5.
follow Beale into

334

LORD JOHN RUSSELL

CHAPTER

XVII

OUT OF HARNESS
1867-1874
Speeches in the House of
miniscences

Lords Leisured

j^ears Mr. Lecky's re-

The question of the Irish Church The Independence of Belgium Lord John on the claims of the Vatican Letters to
]\Ir.

Chichester Fortescue

-His scheme

for the better

government

of

Ireland Lord

Selborne's estimate of Lord John's public career

Frank admissions As his private secretaries


Lord John
never relinquished that

saw him.

high

sense of re-

sponsibiUty which was

conspicuous in his attitude as a

Minister of the Crown.

Although out of harness from the

summer

of 1866 to his death, twelve years later, he retained

to the last, undiminished, the sense of

pubHc

duty.

He

took, not merely a

keen

interest,

but an appreciable share in

public affairs
in the

and some of the speeches which he delivered


of Lords after his retirement from office
his intellect remained,

House

show

how vigorous and acute

and how wide

The leisured years and generous were his sympathies. fall after the of the second Russell Lord John which came to
Administration

enabled

him

to
for

renew

old

friendships,

and gave him the opportunity


of distinguished
historical studies

making the acquaintance


His own

men

of a younger generation.

the

literary passion of a lifetime

made

him keenly appreciative of the work of others in that direction, and kindred tastes drew him into intimate relations with


MR. LECKY'S REMINISCENCES
Mr. W. E. H. Lecky.
small,

335

Few

of the reminiscences, great or


for these pages,

which have been written

can compare

in interest with the following statement

by so philosophic
:

critic

of public affairs
I
I

and so acute a judge of men


1866,

'It was,

think, in

and

in the

house of Dean

Milman, that
Russell.

had the

privilege of being introduced to

Lord

He

at

once received
saw him very

me with

warmth and kindtill

ness I can never forget, and from this time

near the

end

of his life I

frequently.

His Ministerial

career

had

just terminated, but I could trace

no

failure in

his powers, and,

whatever diiference of opinion there might

be about

came in contact with him failed to recognise his singular charm in private life. His conversation differed from that of some of the more illustrious of his contemporaries. It was not a
his public career,
I believe,

no one,

who

ever

copious and brilliant stream of words, dazzling, astonishing,


or overpowering.
It

had no tendency
for

to

monologue, and

it

was not remarkable

any striking

originalities either of

language, metaphor, or thought.


clear of paradox,

Few men
his talk lay

steered

more
skill

and the charm of

mainly in his

admirable terseness and clearness of expression, in the


with which, by a few happy words, he could
tell

a story, or

etch out a character, or condense an argument or statement.

Beyond

all

men

have ever knovvn, he had the

gift

of seizing

rapidly in every question the c