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Title: Lord John Russell
Author: Reid, Stuart J. (Stuart Johnson), 1848-1927
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lord John Russell" ***

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The Prime Ministers of Queen Victoria

Edited by Stuart J. Reid


G. F. Watts, R. A. in the possession of the Dowager Countess Russell at
Pembroke Lodge, Richmond_

_Photogravure by Annan & Swan._]

The Queen's Prime Ministers

A Series of Political Biographies.

Edited by Stuart J. Reid

Author of 'The Life and Times of Sydney Smith.'

_The volumes contain Photogravure Portraits, also copies of



















* *
*  A Limited Library Edition of TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY COPIES, each
numbered, printed on hand-made paper, parchment binding, gilt top,
with facsimile reproductions, in some cases of characteristic notes of
Speeches and Letters, which are not included in the ordinary edition,
and some additional Portraits. Price for the Complete Set of Nine
Volumes, Four Guineas net. No Volumes of this Edition sold

       *       *       *       *       *

Sampson Low, Marston & Company, Limited,
St. Dunstan's House, Fetter Lane, Fleet Street, E.C.




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

                                   _Recollections and Suggestions_

Sampson Low, Marston & Company
St. Dunstan's House
Fetter Lane, Fleet Street, E.C.
[All rights reserved]

           TO THE









THIS monograph could not have been written--in the intimate sense--if
the 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 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 Russell, Mr. G. W.
E. Russell, and the Hon. George Elliot. Mr. Elliot's knowledge, as
brother-in-law, and for many years as private secretary, touches both
the personal and official aspects of Lord John's career, and it has been
freely placed at my disposal. Outside the circle of Lord John's
relatives I have received hints from the Hon. Charles Gore and Sir
Villiers Lister, both of whom, at one period or another in his public
life, also served him in the capacity of secretary.

I have received some details of Lord John's official life from one who
served under him in a more public capacity--not, however, I hasten to
add, as Chancellor of the Exchequer--but I am scarcely at liberty in
this instance to mention my authority.

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 given me, in frank comment, the benefit of his own
singularly wide and accurate knowledge of the historical and political
annals of the reign. It is only right to add that Mr. Walpole is not in
any sense responsible for the opinions expressed in a book which is only
partially based on his own, is not always in agreement with his
conclusions, and which follows independent lines.

The letter which the Queen wrote to the Countess Russell immediately
after the death of one of her 'first and most distinguished Ministers'
is now printed with her Majesty's permission.

The late Earl of Selborne and Mr. Lecky were sufficiently interested in
my task to place on record for the volume some personal and political
reminiscences which speak for themselves, and do so with authority.

I am also under obligations of various kinds to the Marquis of Dufferin
and Ava, the Earl of Durham, Lord Stanmore, Dr. Anderson of Richmond,
and the Rev. James Andrews of Woburn. I 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
'Punch,' for liberty to quote from published books and journals.

In Montaigne's words, 'The tales I borrow, I charge upon the consciences
of those from whom I have them.' I have gathered cues from all quarters,
but in almost every case my indebtedness stands recorded on the passing

The portrait which forms the frontispiece is for the first time
reproduced, with the sanction of the Countess Russell and Mr. G. F.
Watts, from an original crayon drawing which hangs on the walls at
Pembroke Lodge.

It may be as well to anticipate an obvious criticism by stating that the
earlier title of the subject of this memoir is retained, not only in
deference to the strongly expressed wish of the family at Pembroke
Lodge, but also because it suggests nearly half a century spent in the
House of Commons in pursuit of liberty. In the closing days of Earl
Russell's life his eye was accustomed to brighten, and his 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.'


  CHISLEHURST: _June 4, 1895_.




  Rise of the Russells under the Tudors--Childhood and early
  surroundings of Lord John--Schooldays at Westminster--First
  journey abroad with Lord Holland--Wellington and the Peninsular
  campaign--Student days in Edinburgh and speeches at the
  Speculative Society--Early leanings in politics and
  literature--Enters the House of Commons as member for Tavistock      1




  The political outlook when Lord John entered the House of
  Commons--The 'Condition of England' question--The struggle for
  Parliamentary Reform--Side-lights on Napoleon Bonaparte--The
  Liverpool Administration in a panic--Lord John comes to the aid
  of Sir Francis Burdett--Foreign travel--First motion in favour
  of Reform--Making headway                                           21




  Defeated and out of harness--Journey to Italy--Back in
  Parliament--Canning's accession to power--Bribery and
  corruption--The repeal 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                                         47




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




  The turn of the tide with the Whigs--The two voices in the
  Cabinet--Lord John and Ireland--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--Personal sorrow             88




  Lord John's position in the Cabinet and in the Commons--His
  services to Education--Joseph Lancaster--Lord John's
  Colonial Policy--Mr. Gladstone's opinion--Lord Stanmore's
  recollections--The mistakes of the 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       113




  Peel and Free Trade--Disraeli and Lord George Bentinck
  lead the attack--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
  question--Famine and its deadly work--The Russell Government
  and measures of relief--Crime and coercion--The Whigs
  and Education--Factory Bill--The case of Dr. Hampden               136




  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 invasion scare--Lord
  John's remark about Palmerston--Fall of the Russell
  Administration                                                     163




  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




  Causes of the Crimean War--Nicholas seizes his opportunity--The
  Secret Memorandum--Napoleon and the susceptibilities of the
  Vatican--Lord Stratford de Redcliffe and the Porte--Prince
  Menschikoff shows his hand--Lord Aberdeen hopes against
  hope--Lord Palmerston's opinion of the crisis--The Vienna
  Note--Lord John grows restive--Sinope arouses England--The
  deadlock in the Cabinet                                            213




  A 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
  Sebastopol--Procrastination and its deadly work--The
  Alma--Inkerman--The Duke's blunder--Famine and frost in the
  trenches                                                           236




  Blunders at home and abroad--Roebuck's motion--'General
  Février' turns traitor--France and the Crimea--Lord John at
  Vienna--The pride of the nation is touched--Napoleon's visit
  to Windsor--Lord John's retirement--The fall of Sebastopol--The
  treaty of Paris                                                 254



  Lord John's position in 1855--His constituency in the
  City--Survey of his work in literature--As man of letters--His
  historical writings--Hero-worship of Fox--Friendship with
  Moore--Writes the biography of the poet--'Don Carlos'--A
  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
  Lancaster's tentative efforts--The formation of the Council of
  Education--Prejudice blocks the way--Mr. Forster's tribute         270




  Lord John as an Independent Member--His chance in the
  City--The Indian Mutiny--Orsini's attempt on the life of
  Napoleon--The Conspiracy Bill--Lord John and the Jewish
  Relief Act--Palmerston in power--Lord John at the Foreign
  Office--Cobden and Bright--Quits the Commons with a
  Peerage                                                            286




  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' difficulty--Lord Selborne's
  statement--The Cotton Famine                                       299




  The Polish Revolt--Bismarck's bid for power--The
  Schleswig-Holstein difficulty--Death of Lord Palmerston--The
  Queen 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
  feeling in the country                                             320




  Speeches in the House of Lords--Leisured years--Mr. Lecky's
  reminiscences--The question of the Irish Church--The
  Independence of Belgium--Lord John on the claims of the
  Vatican--Letters to Mr. 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 saw him                                        334




  Looking back--Society at Pembroke Lodge--Home life--The house
  and its memories--Charles Dickens's speech at Liverpool--Literary
  friendships--Lady Russell's description of her husband--A packet
  of letters--His children's recollections--A glimpse of
  Carlyle--A witty impromptu--Closing days--Mr. and Mrs.
  Gladstone--The jubilee of the Repeal of the Test and Corporation
  Acts--'Punch' on the 'Golden Wedding'--Death--The Queen's
  letter--Lord Shaftesbury's estimate of Lord John's career--His
  great qualities                                                    349

INDEX                                                                371





     Rise of the Russells under the Tudors--Childhood and early
     surroundings of Lord John--Schooldays at Westminster--First journey
     abroad with Lord Holland--Wellington and the Peninsular
     campaign--Student days in Edinburgh and speeches at the Speculative
     Society--Early leanings in Politics and Literature--Enters the
     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 of Lord William
Russell in the seventeenth century and that of Lord John in the
nineteenth stand foremost amongst the champions of civil and religious
liberty. Hugh du Rozel, according to the Battle Roll, crossed from
Normandy in the train of the Conqueror. In the reign of Henry III. the
first John Russell of note was a small landed proprietor in Dorset, and
held the post of Constable of Corfe Castle. William Russell, in the year
of Edward II.'s accession, was returned to Parliament, and his lineal
descendant, Sir John Russell, was Speaker of the House of Commons in the
days of Henry VI. The real founder, however, of the fortunes of the
family was the third John Russell who is known to history. He was the
son of the Speaker, and came to honour and affluence by a happy chance.
Stress of weather drove Philip, Archduke of Austria and, in right of his
wife, King of Castile, during a voyage from Flanders to Spain in the
year 1506, to take refuge at Weymouth. Sir Thomas Trenchard, Sheriff of
Dorset, entertained the unexpected guest, but he knew no Spanish, and
Philip of Castile knew no English. In this emergency Sir Thomas sent in
hot haste for his cousin, Squire Russell, of Barwick, who had travelled
abroad and was able to talk Spanish fluently. The Archduke, greatly
pleased with the sense and sensibility of his interpreter, insisted that
John Russell must accompany him to the English Court, and Henry VII., no
mean judge of men, was in turn impressed with his ability. The result
was that, after many important services to the Crown, John Russell
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 part which the Russells as a family have played in
history of course lies outside the province of this volume, which is
exclusively concerned with the character and career in recent times of
one of the most distinguished statesmen of the present century.

Lord John Russell was born on August 18, 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 the age of thirty-six, 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 Torrington, and the statesman with
whose career these pages are concerned was the third son of this union.
He spent his early childhood at Stratton Park, Hampshire. When he was a
child of eight, Stratton Park was sold by the Duke of Bedford, and
Oakley House, which he never liked so well, became the residence of his
father. Although a shy, delicate child, he was sent in the spring of
1800, when only eight, to a private school at Sunbury--only a mile or
two away from Richmond, where nearly eighty years later he died. 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


From Sunbury the motherless boy was sent with his elder brother to
Westminster, in 1803, and the same year the 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 its rough and boisterous life taxed to the
utmost the mettle of the plucky little fellow. He seems to have made no
complaint, but to have taken his full share in the rough-and-tumble
sports of his comrades in a school which has given many distinguished
men to the literature and public life of England: as, for instance, the
younger Vane--whom Milton extolled--Ben Jonson and Dryden, Prior and
Locke, Cowper and Southey, Gibbon and Warren Hastings.

He learnt Latin at Westminster, and was kept to the work of translation,
but he used to declare somewhat ruefully in after-days that he had as a
schoolboy to devote the half-holidays to learning arithmetic and
writing, and these homely arts were taught him by a pedagogue who seems
to have kept a private school in 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
one. It began, indeed, in the usual English way by my going to a very
bad private school at Sunbury, and my being transferred to a public
school at Westminster at ten or eleven. But I never entered the upper
school. The hard life of a fag--for in those days it was a hard
life--and the unwholesome food disagreed with me so much that my
stepmother, the Duchess of Bedford, insisted that I should be taken away
and sent 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 to see the fight had to leave
school for the purpose.' At this early period a passion for the theatre
possessed him, drawing him to Drury Lane or Covent Garden whenever an
opportunity occurred; and this kind of relaxation retained a
considerable hold upon him throughout the greater portion of his life.
Even as a child he was a bit of a philosopher. In the journal which he
began to keep in the year he went to Westminster School is the
following entry:--'October 28, 1803.--Very great mist in the morning,
but afternoon very fine. There was a grand review to-day by the King in
Hyde Park of the Volunteers. I did not go, as there was such a quantity
of people that I 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.
He states that lessons began every morning at eight, and that usually
work was continued till noon, with an interval at nine for breakfast.
Lessons were resumed at two on ordinary days, and finished for the day
at five. 'All the fellows have verses on Thursdays and Saturdays. We go
on Sundays to church in the morning in Henry VII.'s Chapel, and in the
evening have prayers in the school.'


His 'broken and disturbed' education was next resumed at Woburn Abbey
under Dr. Cartwright; the Duke's domestic chaplain, and brother to Major
Cartwright, the well-known political reformer. The chaplain at Woburn
was a many-sided man. He was not only a scholar and a poet, but also
possessed distinct mechanical skill, and afterwards won fame as the
inventor of the power-loom. He was quick-witted and accomplished, and it
was a happy circumstance that the high-spirited, impressionable lad, who
by this time was full of dreams of literary distinction, came under his
influence. 'I acquired from Dr. Cartwright,' declared Lord John, 'a
taste for Latin poetry which has never left me.' Not merely at work but
at play, his new friend came to his rescue. 'He invented the model of a
boat which was moved by clockwork and acted upon the water by a paddle
underneath. He gave me the model, and I used to make it go across the
ponds in the park.' Meanwhile literature was not forgotten, and before
long the boy's juvenile effusions filled a manuscript book, which with
an amusing flourish of trumpets was dedicated to 'the Right Hon. William
Pitt, Chancellor of the Exchequer.' A couple of sentences will reveal
its character, and the dawning humour of the youthful scribe:--'This
little volume, being graced with your name, will prosper; without it my
labour would be all in vain. May you remain at the Helm of State long
enough to bestow a pension on your very humble and obedient servant,
John Russell.'

Between the years 1805 and 1808 Lord John pursued his education under a
country parson in Kent. He was placed under the care of Mr. Smith, Vicar
of Woodnesborough, near Sandwich, an ardent Whig, who taught a select
number of pupils, amongst whom were several cadets of the aristocracy;
and to this seminary Lord John now followed his 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 of Leinster. The vicar in question, worthy
Mr. Smith, was nicknamed 'Dean 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 locality or in Parliament.

    [Sidenote: SMALL GAME]

Rambles inland and on the seashore, pony riding, shooting small birds,
cricket, and other sports, as well as winter evening games, filled up
the ample leisure from the duties of the schoolroom. One or two extracts
from his journal are sufficient to show that, although still weakly, he
was not lacking in boyish vivacity and in a healthy desire to 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--a
fact which is thus recorded in sprawling schoolboy hand by Lord John in
his diary. 'Saturday, February 8, 1806.--... We did no business on Mr.
Fox's coming into the Ministry. I shot a couple of larks beyond
Southerden.... I went out shooting for the first time with Mr. Smith's
gun. I got eight shots at little birds and killed four of them.' On
November 5 in the same year we find him writing:--'Eliza's [Miss
Smith's] birthday. No business. I went out shooting, but only killed
some little birds. I used to shoot much better than I do at present.
Always miss now; have not killed a partridge yet.' Poor boy! But he
lived to kill two deer and a wild boar. 'Similarity of age led me,'
states Lord John, in one of his unpublished notes, 'to form a more
intimate friendship with Clare than with any of the others, and our
mutual liking grew into a strong attachment on both sides. I only remark
this fact as Lord Byron, who had been a friend of Clare's at Harrow,
appears to have shown some boyish jealousy when the latter expressed his
sorrow at my departure for Spain.'

Now and then he turned his gift for composing verses in the direction of
a satire on some political celebrity. He also wrote and spoke the
prologue at private dramatic performances at Woburn during the holiday
season, and took the part of 'Lucy' in 'The Rivals.' A little later, in
the brief period of his father's viceroyalty, he wrote another prologue,
and on this occasion amused an Irish audience by his assumption of the
part of an old woman.

The political atmosphere of Woburn and Woodnesborough as well as his
father's official position, led the boy of fourteen to take a keen
interest in public affairs. His satirical verses on Melville, Pitt,
Hawkesbury, and others, together with many passages in his journal,
showed that his attention was frequently diverted from grammar and
lexicon, field sports and footlights, to politics and Parliament, and
the struggle amongst statesmen for place and power. Although little is
known of the actual incidents of Lord John's boyhood, 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 should be acquitted!'
The brilliant qualities of Fox made a great impression on the lad, and
there can be little doubt that his intercourse with the great statesman,
slight and passing though it was, did much to awaken political ambition.
He also crossed the path of other men of light and leading in the
political world, and in this way, boy though he was, he grew familiar
with the strife of parties and the great questions of the hour. Holland
House opened its hospitable gates to him, and there he met a young
clergyman of an unconventional type--the Rev. Sydney Smith--with whom he
struck up a friendship that was destined to endure. The young schoolboy
has left it on record in that inevitable 'journal' that he found his odd
clerical acquaintance '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. With boyish glee he recounts the incidents of the
journey, and his delight in visiting Inverary, Edinburgh, and Melrose.
Yet it 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. On his way back to Woodnesborough he
paid his first visit to the House of Lords, and heard a debate on the
Copenhagen expedition, an affair in which, he considered, 'Ministers cut
a most despicable figure.' On quitting school life at Woodnesborough, an
experience was in store for him which enlarged his 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 accompany them on their visit to the
Peninsula, then the scene of hostilities between the French and the
allied armies of England and Spain. The account of this journey is best
told in Lord John's own words:--

'In the autumn of 1808, when only sixteen years of age, I accompanied
Lord and Lady Holland to Corunna, and afterwards to Lisbon, Seville, and
Cadiz, returning by Lisbon to England in the summer of 1809. They were
eager for the success of the Spanish cause, and I joined to sympathy for
Spain a boyish hatred of Napoleon, who had treacherously obtained
possession of an independent country by force and fraud--force of
immense armies, fraud of the lowest kind.' There is in existence at
Pembroke Lodge a small parchment-bound volume marked 'Diary, 1808,'
which records in his own handwriting Lord John's first impressions of
foreign travel. The notes are brief, but they show that the writer even
then was keenly alive to the picturesque. The journal ends somewhat
abruptly, and Lord John confesses in so many words that he gave up this
journal in despair, a statement which is 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 full of
excitement. War and rumours of war filled the air, and sudden changes of
route were often necessary in order to avoid perilous encounters with
the French. The travellers were sometimes accompanied by a military
escort, but were more frequently left to their devices, and evil tidings
of disaster to the Allies--often groundless, but not less alarming--kept
the whole party on the alert, and proved, naturally, very exciting to
the lad, who under such strange and dramatic circumstances gained his
first experience of life abroad. Lord John had, however, taken with him
his Virgil, 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 knowledge of it. The lad had opinions and the
courage of them, and when he saw the cause of the Spanish beginning to
fail he was exasperated by the apathy of the Whigs at home, and
accordingly, with the audacity of youth, wrote to his father:--

'I take the liberty of informing you and your Opposition friends that
the French have not conquered the whole of Spain.... Lord Grey's speech
appears to me either a mere attempt to plague Ministers for a few hours
or a declaration against the principle of the people's right to depose
an infamous despot.... It seems to be the object of the Opposition to
prove that Spain is conquered, and that the Spaniards like being robbed
and murdered.' It seems, therefore, that Lord John, even in his teens,
was inclined to be dogmatic and oracular, but the soundness of his
judgment, in this particular instance at least, is not less remarkable
than his sturdy mental independence. Like his friend Sydney Smith, he
was already becoming a lover of justice and of sympathy towards the


In the summer of 1809, after a short journey to Cadiz, Lord Holland and
his party crossed the plains of Estremadura on mules to Lisbon and
embarked for England, though not without an unexpected delay caused by a
slight attack of fever on the part of Lord John. On the voyage back Lord
Holland and his secretary, Mr. Allen, pointed out to him the advantages
of going to Edinburgh for the next winter, and in a letter to his
father, dated Spithead, August 10, 1809, he adds: 'They say that I am
yet too young to go to an English university; that I should learn more
there [Edinburgh] in the meantime than I should anywhere else.'

He goes on to state that he is convinced by their arguments, 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
follow his elder brother, Lord Tavistock, to Cambridge; but the Duke
would not hear of the idea, and bluntly declared that nothing at that
time was to be learnt at the English universities.

On his return to England it was decided to send Lord John to continue
his studies at Edinburgh University. The Northern Athens at that time
was full of keen and varied intellectual life, and the young student
could scarcely have set foot in it at a more auspicious moment. Other
cadets of the English aristocracy, such as Lord Webb Seymour and Lord
Henry Petty, were attracted at this period to the Northern university,
partly by the restrictive statutes of Oxford and Cambridge, but still
more by the genius and learning of men like Dugald Stewart and John

The Duke of Bedford placed his son under the roof of the latter, who at
that time held the chair of mathematics in the university, with the
request that he would take a general oversight of his studies. Professor
Playfair was a teacher who quickened to a remarkable extent the powers
of his pupils, and at the same time by his own estimable qualities won
their affection. Looking back in after-years, Lord John declared that
'Professor Playfair was one of the most delightful of 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 remarkable.

It is interesting to learn from Professor Playfair's own statement that
he was quickly impressed with the ability of Lord John. Ambition was
stirring in the breast of the young Whig, and though he could be idle
enough at times, 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 not merely stimulating at the time, but materially helped to
shape his whole philosophy of life. After he had left Edinburgh, Lord
John wrote some glowing lines about Dugald Stewart, which 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.

    [Sidenote: LIFE IN EDINBURGH]

Intellectual stimulus came to him through another channel. He was
elected in the spring of 1810 a member of the Edinburgh Speculative
Society, and during that and the two following years he was zealous in
his attendance at its weekly meetings. The Speculative Society was
founded early in the reign of George III., and no less distinguished a
man than Sir Walter Scott acted for a term of years as its secretary. It
sought to unite men of different classes and pursuits, and to bring
young students and more experienced thinkers and men of affairs together
in friendly but keen debate on historical, philosophical, literary, and
political questions.

It is certain that Lord John first discovered his powers of debate in
the years when he took a prominent part in the Tuesday night discussions
in the hall which had been erected for the Speculative Society in 1769
in the grounds of the university. The subjects about which he spoke are
at least of passing interest even now as a revelation of character, for
they show the drift of his thoughts. He was not content with merely
academic themes, such as Queen Elizabeth's treatment of Mary Queen of
Scots, or the policy of Alcibiades. 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 imprisonment of Gale Jones
in Newgate by order of the House of Commons--claimed his attention and
drew forth his powers of argument and oratory. His mind was already
turning in the direction of the subject of Parliamentary Reform, and
from Edinburgh he forwarded to his father an essay on that subject,
which still exists among the family papers. It shows that he was
preparing to vindicate even then on a new field the liberal and
progressive traditions of the Russells.

The Duke of Bedford was never too busy or preoccupied to enter into his
son's political speculations. He encouraged him to continue the habit of
reasoning and writing on the great questions of the day, and Lord John,
who in spite of uncertain health had no lack of energy, cheered by such
kindly recognition, was not slow to respond to his father's sensible


Meanwhile the war in the Peninsula was progressing, and it appealed to
the Edinburgh undergraduate now with new and even painful interest. His
brother, Lord William Russell, had accompanied his regiment to Spain in
the summer of 1809, and had been wounded at the battle of Talavera. In
the course of the following summer, Lord John states, in a manuscript
which is in Lady Russell's possession: 'I went to Cadiz to see my
brother William, who was then serving on the staff of Sir Thomas Graham.
The head-quarters was in a small 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 accompanied Colonel Stanhope, a member of
General Graham's staff, to the head-quarters of Lord Wellington, who had
just occupied with his army the lines of Torres Vedras. He thus records
his impressions of the great soldier, and of the spectacle which lay
before him:--'Standing on the highest point, and looking around him on
every side, was the English General, his eyes bright and searching as
those of an eagle, his countenance full of hope, beaming with
intelligence as he marked with quick perception every movement of troops
and every change of circumstance 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 the garrison of
this fortified position. Far off, on the left, the cliffs 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 Portugal,
prepared to stay the destructive flood, 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 the force which he commanded
was England's only army, he did not care to risk a battle. 'In fact, 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 of the campaign, and of the appearance of Wellington's
soldiers. The desire for Cambridge revived in Lord John with the
conclusion of his Edinburgh course. His wishes were, however, overruled
by his father, who, as already hinted, held extremely unfavourable views
in regard to the characteristics at that period of undergraduate life
in the English universities. The 'sciences of horse-racing, fox-hunting,
and giving extravagant entertainments' the Duke regarded as the 'chief
studies of our youths at Cambridge,' and he made no secret of his
opinion that his promising son was better without them. Lord John's
father is described by those who knew him as a plain, unpretending man,
who talked well in private life, but was reserved in society. He was a
great patron of the fine arts, and one of the best farmers in England,
and was, moreover, able to hold his own in the debates of the House of


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. The passion for foreign travel, which he never afterwards
wholly lost, asserted itself, and led him to cast about for congenial
companions to accompany him abroad. Mr. George Bridgeman, 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. They had not proceeded far, however, on their way to
Southern Italy when tidings reached them that the battle of Salamanca
had been fought and that Wellington 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 although Salamanca had
been added to the list of Wellington's triumphs, the victor had not
pushed on to the capital. Under these circumstances, Lord John and his
companions determined to make a short tour in the northern part of
Portugal before proceeding to Wellington's head-quarters at Burgos. They
met with a few mild adventures on the road, and afterwards crossed the
frontier and reached the field of Salamanca. The dead still lay
unburied, and flocks of vultures rose sullenly as the travellers
threaded their way across that terrible scene of carnage. However,
neither Lord John's phlegm nor his philosophy deserted him, though the
awfulness of the spectacle was not lost upon him. 'The blood spilt on
that day will become a real saving of life if it become the means of
delivering Spain from French dominion,' was his remark.

At Burgos the young 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, like other good soldiers, did not care
for non-combatants at the front, and accordingly the youths started for
Madrid. Finding that the French were in possession, they pushed
southwards, and spent Christmas at Cadiz. The prolonged campaign decided
them 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 embark for Sicily. But on the way
reports reached them of French reverses, and they were emboldened once
more to move towards Madrid. They had hardly started when other and less
reassuring rumours reached them, and Lord John's two companions resolved
to return to Alicante; but he himself determined to ride across the
country to the head-quarters of the army, at Frenida, a distance of 150
miles. We are indebted to Mr. Bridgeman's published letters for the
following account of Lord John's plucky ride:--'Finding the French did
not continue the retreat, John Russell, my strange cousin and your
ladyship's mad nephew, determined to execute a plan which he had often
threatened, but it appeared to Clive and me so very injudicious a one
that we never had an idea of his putting it into execution. However, the
evening previous to our leaving Almaden, he said, "Well, I shall go to
the army and see William, and I will meet you either at Madrid or
Alicante." We found he was quite serious, and he then informed us of his
intentions.... He would not take his servant, but ordered him to leave
out half-a-dozen changes of linen, and his gun loaded. He was dressed in
a blue greatcoat, overalls, and sword, and literally took nothing else
except his dressing-case, a pair of pantaloons and shoes, a journal and
an account book, pens and ink, and a bag of money. He would not carry
anything to reload his gun, which he said his principal reason for
taking was to sell, 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 us. Here we parted with each other
with much regret, and poor John seemed rather forlorn. God grant he may
have reached head-quarters in safety and health, for he had been far
from well the last few days he was with us.... Clive and I feel fully
persuaded that we shall see him no more till we return to England.'


The fears entertained for Lord John's safety were well founded.
Difficulties of many kinds had to be encountered on the journey, and
there was always the risk of being arrested and detained by French
piquets. But the 150 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
battle. But the wish was not gratified. Dictating to Lady Russell in his
later life the 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 I might as well leave Lord Wellington and proceed on a journey
of amusement to Madrid.'

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 of wine. When Lord John declined taking any
more, his host exclaimed: 'Do you not know the syllogism, "Qui bene
bibit, bene dormit; qui bene dormit, non peccat; qui non peccat,
salvatus erit"?' At this stage Lord John found it necessary to hire a
servant who was capable of acting as guide. He used to say that his
whole appearance on these journeys was somewhat grotesque, and in proof
of this assertion he was accustomed in relating his adventures to add
the following description:--'I wore a blue military cloak and a military
cocked hat; I had a sword by my side; my whole luggage was carried in
two bags, one on each side of the horse. In one of these I usually
carried a leg of mutton, from which I cut two or three slices when I
wished to prepare my dinner. My servant had a suit of clothes which had
never been of the best, and was then mostly in rags. He, too, wore a
cocked hat, and, being tall and thin, stalked before me with great
dignity.' Such a description reads almost like a page from Cervantes.

Thus attended, Lord John visited the scene of the battle of Talavera,
in which his brother had been wounded, and on June 5, two days after the
departure of the French, entered Madrid. Before the end of the month
news arrived of the battle of Vittoria; and the young Englishman shared
in the public rejoicings which greeted the announcement. 'From
Talavera,' adds Lord John, 'I proceeded to Madrid, where I met my
friends George Bridgeman and Robert Clive. With them I travelled to
Valencia, and with them in a ship laden with salt fish to Majorca.'

At Palma the travellers found hospitable quarters at the Bishop's
palace, and after a brief stay crossed in an open boat to Port Mahon in
Minorca--a rather risky trip, as the youths, with their love of
adventure, made it by night, and were overtaken on the way by an
alarming thunderstorm. Whilst in Minorca Lord John received a letter
from his father, informing him of the death of his old friend General
Fitzpatrick, and also stating that the Duke meant to use his influence
at Tavistock to obtain for his son a seat in the House of Commons. 'He
immediately flew home,' remarks his friend Mr. Bridgeman, 'on what wings
I know not, but I suppose on those of political ambition.'

The Duke's nomination rendered his election in those days of
pocket-boroughs a foregone conclusion. As soon as Lord John set foot in
England he was greeted with the tidings that he had already been elected
member for Tavistock, and so began, at the age of one-and-twenty, a
career in the House of Commons which was destined to last for nearly
fifty years.




     The political outlook when Lord John entered the House of
     Commons--The 'Condition of England' question--The struggle for
     Parliamentary Reform--Side-lights on Napoleon Bonaparte--The
     Liverpool Administration in a panic--Lord John comes to the aid of
     Sir Francis Burdett--Foreign travel--First motion in favour of
     Reform--Making headway

LORD LIVERPOOL was at the head of affairs when Lord John Russell entered
Parliament. His long tenure of power had commenced in the previous
summer, and it lasted until the Premier was struck down by serious
illness in the opening weeks of 1827. In Lord John's opinion, Lord
Liverpool was a 'man of honest but narrow views,' and he probably would
have endorsed the cynical description of him as the 'keystone rather
than the capital' of his own Cabinet. Lord Castlereagh was at the
Foreign Office, Lord Sidmouth was Home Secretary, Mr. Vansittart
Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Palmerston Secretary at War, and Mr.
Peel Secretary for Ireland. The political outlook on all sides was
gloomy and menacing. The absorbing subject in Parliament was war and the
sinews of war; whilst outside its walls hard-pressed taxpayers were
moodily speculating on the probable figures in the nation's 'glory
bill.' The two years' war with America was in progress. The battle
between the _Shannon_ and the _Chesapeake_ was still the talk of the
hour; but there seemed just then no prospect of peace. Napoleon still
struggled for the dictatorship of Europe, and Englishmen were wondering
to what extent they would have to share in the attempt to foil his
ambition. The Peninsular campaign was costly enough to the British
taxpayer; but his chagrin vanished--for the moment, at least--when
Wellington's victories appealed to his pride. Since the beginning of the
century the attention of Parliament and people had been directed mainly
to foreign affairs. Domestic legislation was at a standstill. With one
important exception--an Act for the Abolition of the Slave
Trade--scarcely any measure of note, apart from military matters and
international questions, had passed the House of Commons.

Parliamentary government, so far as it was supposed to 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 Commons.
Representation in the boroughs was on a less worthy scale in the reign
of George III. than it had been in the days of the Plantagenets, and
whatever changes had been made in the franchise since the Tudors had
been to the advantage of the privileged rather than to that of the


Parliament was little more than an assembly of delegates sent 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 thirty-five places containing scarcely any electors at all. Places
such as Old Sarum--consisting of a mound and a few ruins--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 affairs. At Gatton the right of election lay in the hands
of freeholders and householders paying scot and lot; but the only
elector was Lord Monson, who returned two members. Many of the boroughs
were bought at a fancy price by men ambitious to enter Parliament--a
method which seems, however, to have had the advantage of economy when
the cost of some of the elections is taken into account. An election for
Northampton cost the two candidates 30,000_l._ each, whilst Lord Milton
and Mr. Lascelles, in 1807, spent between them 200,000_l._ at a
contested election for the county of York.

Bribery and corruption were of course practised wholesale, and 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
some borough elections were 'managed.' 'The patron of a large town in
Ireland, finding, on the approach of an election, that opposition was to
be made to his interest, marched a regiment of soldiers into the place
from Loughrea, where they were quartered, and caused them to be elected
freemen. These military freemen then voted for his friend, who was, of
course, returned!' Inequality, inadequacy, unreality, corruption--these
were the leading traits of the House of Commons. The House of Commons no
more represented the people of the United Kingdom than the parish
council of Little Peddleton mirrors the mind of Europe.

The statute-book was disfigured by excessive penalities. Men were put in
the pillory for perjury, libel, and the like. Forgers, robbers,
incendiaries, poachers, and mutilators of cattle were sent to the
gallows. Ignorance and brutality prevailed amongst large sections of the
people both in town and country, and the privileged classes, in spite of
vulgar ostentation and the parade of fine manners, set them an evil
example in both directions. Yet, though the Church of England had no
vision of the needs of the people and no voice for their wrongs, the
great wave of religious life which had followed the preaching of
Whitfield and Wesley had not spent its force, nor was it destined to do
so before it had awakened in the multitude a spirit of quickened
intelligence and self-respect which made them restive under political
servitude and in the presence of acknowledged but unredressed
grievances. Education, through the disinterested efforts of a group of
philanthropists, was, moreover, beginning--in some slight degree, at
least--to leaven the mass of ignorance in the country, the power of the
press was making itself felt, and other agencies were also beginning to
dispel the old apathy born of despair.

The French Revolution, with its dramatic overthrow of tyranny and its
splendid watchword, 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,' made its own appeal
to the hope as well as the imagination of the English people, although
the sanguinary incidents which marked it retarded the movement for
Reform in England, and as a matter of fact sent the Reformers into the
wilderness for the space of forty years.

More than a quarter of a century before the birth of Lord John Russell,
who was destined to carry the first Reform Bill through the House of
Commons, Lord Chatham had not hesitated to denounce the borough
representation of the country as the 'rotten part of our constitution,'
which, he said, resembled a mortified limb; and he had added the
significant words, 'If it does not drop, it must be amputated.' He held
that it was useless to look for the strength and vigour of the
constitution in little pocket-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 their just rights.' These warnings fell unheeded, until the
strain of long-continued war, bad harvests, harsh poor laws, and
exorbitant taxes on the necessities of life conspired to goad the people
to the verge of open rebellion.

    [Sidenote: 'FRIENDS OF THE PEOPLE']

Wilkes, Pitt, Burdett, Cartwright, and Grey, again and again returned to
the charge, only to find, however, that the strongholds of privilege
were not easily overthrown. The year 1792, in which, by a noteworthy
coincidence, 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 its first members were Mr. Lambton (father
of the first Earl of Durham), Mr. (afterwards Sir James) Mackintosh, Mr.
Sheridan, Mr. (afterwards Lord) Erskine, 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 House of Commons. It exposed the abuses of the
existing electoral system and presented a powerful argument for
Parliamentary Reform. He moved that the petition should be referred to
the consideration 'of a committee'; but Pitt, in spite of his own
measure on the subject in 1785, was now lukewarm about Reform, and
accordingly opposed as 'inopportune' such an inquiry. 'This is not a
time,' were his words, 'to make hazardous experiments.' The spirit of
anarchy, in his view, was abroad, and Burke's 'Reflections,' had of
course increased the panic of the moment. Although Grey pressed the
motion, only 141 members supported it, and though four years later he
moved for leave to bring in a bill on the subject, justice and common
sense were again over-ridden, and, so far as Parliament was concerned,
the question slept until 1809, when Sir Francis Burdett revived the

Meanwhile, men of the stamp of Horne 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. Hampden Clubs and other democratic associations
were also springing up in various parts of the country, sometimes to the
advantage of demagogues of damaged reputation rather than to the
advancement of the popular cause. Sir Francis Burdett may be said to
have represented the Reformers in Parliament during the remainder of the
reign of George III., though, just as the old order was changing, Earl
Grey, in 1819, publicly 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 or partial, the
question was slowly ripening in the public mind. Sydney Smith in 1819
declared, 'I think all wise men should begin to turn their minds
Reformwards. We shall do it better than Mr. Hunt or Mr. Cobbett. Done it
_must_ 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 Parliamentary career began, George III. was hopelessly
mad and blind, and, as if to heighten the depressing aspect of public
affairs, the scandalous conduct of his sons was straining to the
breaking-point the loyalty of men of intelligence to the Throne.


Lord John's maiden speech in Parliament was directed against the
proposal of the Liverpool Administration to enforce its views in regard
to the union of Norway and Sweden. It escaped the attention of
Parliamentary reporters and has passed into oblivion. The pages of
'Hansard,' however, give a brief summary of his next speech, which, like
its predecessor, 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 Ministers, in bringing forward the measure now because it had been
necessary before, reminded him of the unfortunate wag mentioned in 'Joe
Miller,' who was so fond of rehearsing a joke that he always repeated it
at the wrong time.' During the first months of his Parliamentary
experience Lord John was elected a member of Grillion's Club, which had
been established in Bond Street about twelve months previously, and
which became in after-years a favourite haunt of many men of light and
leading. It was founded on a somewhat novel basis. Leading members of
the Whig and Tory parties met for social purposes. Political discussion
was strictly tabooed, and nothing but the amenities of life were
cultivated. In after-years the club became to Lord John Russell, as it
has also been to many distinguished politicians, a welcome haven from
the turmoil of Westminster.

Delicate health in the autumn quickened Lord John's desire to renew the
pleasures of foreign travel. He accordingly went by sea to Italy, and
arrived at Leghorn in the 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.


Through the kindness of Lady Russell it is possible here to quote from
an old-fashioned leather-bound volume in her husband's handwriting,
which gives a detailed account of the incidents of his Italian tour in
1814-15, and of his conversation on this occasion with the banished
despot of Europe. Part of what follows has already been published by Mr.
Walpole, but much of it has remained for eighty years in the privacy of
Lord John's own notebook, from the faded pages of which it is now
transcribed:--'Napoleon was dressed in a green coat, with a hat in his
hand, very much as he is painted; but, excepting the resemblance of
dress, I had a very mistaken idea of him from his portrait. He appears
very short, which is partly owing to his being very fat, his hands and
legs being quite swollen and unwieldy. That makes him appear awkward,
and not unlike the whole-length figure of Gibbon the historian. 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 mouth expresses contempt and decision. His manner is very
good-natured, and seems studied to put one at one's ease by its
familiarity; his smile and laugh are very agreeable; he asks a number of
questions without object, and often repeats them, a habit which he has,
no doubt, acquired during fifteen years of supreme command. He began
asking me about my family, the allowance my father gave me, if I ran
into debt, drank, played, &c. He asked me if I had been in Spain, and if
I was not imprisoned by the Inquisition. I told him that I had seen the
abolition of the Inquisition voted, and of the injudicious manner in
which it was done.'

Napoleon told Lord John that Ferdinand was in the hands of the priests.
Spain, like Italy, he added, was a fine country, especially Andalusia
and Seville. Lord John admitted this, but spoke of the uncultivated
nature of the land. 'Agriculture,' replied Napoleon, 'is neglected
because the land is in the hands of the Church.' 'And of the grandees,'
suggested his visitor. 'Yes,' was the answer, 'who have privileges
contrary to the public prosperity.' Napoleon added that he thought the
evil might be remedied by divided property and abolishing hurtful
privileges, as was done in France. Afterwards Napoleon asked many
questions about the Cortes, and when Lord John told him that many of the
members made good speeches on abstract questions, but they failed when
any practical debate on finance or war took place, Napoleon drily
remarked: 'Oui, faute de l'habitude de gouverner.' Presently the talk
drifted to Wellington, or rather Napoleon adroitly led it thither. He
described the man who had driven the French out of Spain as a 'grand
chasseur,' and asked if Wellington liked Paris. Lord John replied that
he thought not, and added that Wellington had said that he should find
himself much at a loss as to what to do in time of peace, as he seemed
scarcely to like anything but war. Whereupon Napoleon exclaimed, 'La
guerre est un grand jeu, une belle occupation.' He expressed his
surprise that England should have sent the Duke to Paris, and he added,
evidently with a touch of bitterness, 'On n'aime pas l'homme par qui on
a été battu.'

The Emperor's great anxiety seemed to be to get reliable tidings of the
condition of France. Lord John's own words are: 'He inquired if I had
seen at Florence many Englishmen who came from there, and when I
mentioned Lord Holland, he asked if he thought things went well with the
Bourbons. When I answered in the negative he seemed delighted, and asked
if Lord Holland thought they would be able to stay there.' On this point
Lord John was not able to satisfy him, and Napoleon said that he
understood that the Bourbons had neglected the Englishmen who had
treated them well in England, and particularly the Duke of Buckingham,
and he condemned their lack of gratitude. Lord John suggested that the
Bourbons were afraid to be thought to be dependent on the English, but
Napoleon brushed this aside by asserting that the English in general
were very well received. In a mocking tone he expressed his wish to know
whether the army was much attached to the Bourbons. The Vienna Congress
was, of course, just 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
_bienséances_ by the observance of which his father George III. had
become so popular. He declared that our struggle with America was 'une
guerre de vengeance,' as the frontier question could not possibly be of
any importance. According to Napoleon, the great superiority of England
to 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 from the contributions which he
levied when he made treaties with Austria, Prussia, &c., in order to
found these new families. Speaking of some of the naval engagements, 'he
found great fault with the 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 who fought Sir R. Calder for not disabling his
fleet, and said that if he could have got the Channel clear then, or at
any 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 him from saving the Duc d'Enghien. Spain ought to have been
conquered, and Napoleon declared that he would have gone there himself
if the war with Russia had not occurred. England would repent of
bringing the Russians so far, and he added in this connection the
remarkable words, 'They will deprive her of India.'

After lingering for a while in Vienna, Florence, Rome, Naples, and other
cities, Lord John returned home by way of Germany, and on June 5 he
spoke in Parliament against the renewal of hostilities. He was one of
the small minority in Parliament who refused to regard Napoleon's flight
from Elba as a sufficient _casus belli_. Counsels of peace, however,
were naturally just then not likely to prevail, and Wellington's victory
a fortnight later falsified Lord John's fears. He did not speak again
until February 1816, when, 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 who was not
paid out of the public purse felt that prosperity was gone. A few weeks
later he opposed the Army Estimates, contending that a standing army of
150,000 men 'must alarm every friend of his country and its

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. He was, in truth, chagrined at the course
of affairs and discouraged with his own prospects, and in consequence he
lapsed for a time into the position of a silent member of the House of
Commons. Meanwhile, the summer of 1816 was wet and cold and the harvest
was in consequence a disastrous failure. Wheat rose to 103_s._ a
quarter, and bread riots broke out in the Eastern Counties. The
Luddites, who commenced breaking up machinery in manufacturing towns in
1811, again committed great excesses. Tumults occurred in London, and
the Prince Regent was insulted in the streets on his return from opening


The Liverpool Cabinet gave way to panic, and quickly resorted to
extreme measures. A secret committee was appointed in each House to
investigate the causes of the disaffection of a portion of his Majesty's
subjects. Four bills were, as the result of their deliberations, swiftly
introduced and passed through Parliament. The first enacted penalties
for decoying sailors and soldiers; the second was a pitiful exhibition
of lack of confidence, for it aimed at special measures for the
protection of the Prince Regent; the third furnished magistrates with
unusual powers for the prevention of seditious meetings; and the fourth
suspended the Habeas Corpus Act till July 1, giving the Executive
authority 'to secure and detain such persons as his Majesty shall
suspect are conspiring against his person and Government.'

The measures of the Government filled Lord John with indignation, and he
assailed the proposal to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act in a vigorous
speech, which showed conclusively that his sympathies were on the side
of the weak and distressed classes of the community. 'I had not
intended,' he said, 'to trouble the House with any observations of mine
during the present session of Parliament. Indeed, the state of my health
induced me to resolve upon quitting the fatiguing business of this House
altogether. But he must have no ordinary mind whose attention is not
roused in a singular manner when it is proposed to suspend the rights
and liberties of Englishmen, though even for a short period. I 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. We talk much--I think, a great
deal too much--of the wisdom of our ancestors. I wish we could imitate
the courage of our ancestors. They were not ready to lay their liberties
at the foot of the Crown upon every vain or imaginary alarm.' He begged
the majority not to give, by the adoption of a policy of coercion, the
opponents of law and order the opportunity of saying, 'When we ask for
redress you refuse all innovation; when the Crown asks for protection
you sanction a new code.'

All protests, as usual, were thrown away, and the bill was passed. Lord
John resumed his literary tasks, and as a matter of fact only once
addressed the House in the course of the next two years. He repeatedly
declared his intention of entirely giving up politics and devoting his
time to literature and travel. Many friends urged him to relinquish such
an idea. Moore's poetical 'Remonstrance,' which gladdened Lord John not
a little 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 shade;
      If the stirring of genius, the music of fame,
    And 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
      Are by Liberty claimed for the use of her shrine.'

Lord John's literary labours began at this time to be considerable. He
also enlarged his knowledge of the world by giving free play to his love
of foreign travel.

    [Sidenote: FEELING HIS WAY]

A general election occurred in the summer of 1818, and it proved that
though the Tories were weakened they still had a majority. Lord John,
with his uncle Lord William Russell, were, however, returned for
Tavistock. Public affairs in 1819 were of a kind to draw him from his
retirement, and as a matter of fact it was in that year that his
speeches began to attract more than passing notice. He spoke briefly in
favour of reducing the number of the Lords of the Admiralty, advocated
an inquiry into domestic and foreign policy, protested against the
surrender of the town of Parga, on the coast of Epirus, to the Turks,
and made an energetic speech against the prevailing bribery and
corruption which disgraced contested elections. The summer of that year
was also 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 Parliaments. Lord John's criticism was level-headed, and
therefore characteristic. He had little sympathy with extreme measures,
and he knew, moreover, that it was not merely useless but injurious to
the cause of Reform to urge them at such a moment. The opposition was
too powerful and too impervious to anything in the nature of an idea to
give such proposals just then the least chance of success. Property
meant to fight hard for its privileges, and the great landowners looked
upon their pocket-boroughs as a goodly heritage as well as a rightful
appanage of rank and wealth. 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 and the corrupt boroughs were
meanwhile dismissed with a shrug of the shoulders or a laugh of scorn.

Lord John was as yet by no means a full-fledged Reformer, but it was
something in those days for a duke's son to take sides, even in a
modified way, with the party of progress. His speech represented the
views not so much of the multitude as of the middle classes. They were
alarmed at the truculent violence of mob orators up and down the
country; their fund of inherited reverence for the aristocracy was as
yet scarcely diminished. They had their own dread of spoliation, and
they had not quite recovered from their fright over the French
Revolution. They were law abiding, moreover, and the blood and treasure
which it had cost the nation to crush Napoleon had allayed in thousands
of them the thirst for glory, and turned them into possibly humdrum but
very sincere lovers of peace. Lord John's speech was an appeal to the
average man in his strength and in his limitations, and men of cautious
common-sense everywhere rejoiced that the young Whig--who was liked none
the less by farmer and shopkeeper because he was a lord--had struck the
nail exactly on the head. The growth of Lord John's influence in
Parliament was watched at Woburn with keen interest. 'I have had a good
deal of conversation,' wrote the Duke, 'with old Tierney at Cassiobury
about you.... I find with pleasure that he has a very high opinion of
your debating powers; and says, if you will stick to one branch of
politics and not range over too desultory a field, you may become
eminently useful and conspicuous in the House of Commons.... The line I
should recommend for your selection would be that of foreign politics,
and all home politics bearing on civil and religious liberty--a pretty
wide range....'

As soon as the end of the session brought a respite from his
Parliamentary duties Lord John started for the Continent with Moore the
poet. The author of 'Lalla Rookh' was at that moment struggling, after
the manner of the majority of poets at any moment, with the three-headed
monster pounds, shillings, and pence, through the failure of his deputy
in an official appointment at Bermuda. The poet's journal contains many
allusions to Lord John, and the following passage from it, dated
September 4, 1819, speaks for itself:--'Set off with Lord John in his
carriage at seven; breakfasted and arrived at Dover to dinner at seven
o'clock; the journey very agreeable. Lord John mild and sensible; took
off Talma very well. Mentioned Buonaparte having instructed Talma in the
part of Nero; correcting him for being in such a bustle in giving his
orders, and telling him they ought to be given calmly, as coming from a
person used to sovereignty.'[1] After a fortnight in Paris the
travellers went on to Milan, where they parted company, Moore going to
Venice to visit Byron, and Lord John to Genoa, to renew a pleasant
acquaintance with Madame Durazzo, an Italian lady of rank who was at one
time well known in English society.

    [Sidenote: MADAME DURAZZO]

Madame Durazzo was a quick-witted and accomplished woman, and her
vivacious and sympathetic nature was hardly less remarkable than her
personal charm. There is evidence enough that she made a considerable
impression upon the young English statesman, who, indeed, wrote a sonnet
about her. Lord John's verdict on Italy and the Italians is pithily
expressed in a hitherto unpublished extract from his journal:--'Italy is
a delightful country for a traveller--every town full of the finest
specimens of art, even now, and many marked by remains of antiquity near
one another--all different. Easy travelling, books in plenty, living
cheap and tolerably good--what can a man wish for but a little grace and
good taste in dress amongst women? Men of science abound in Italy--the
Papal Government discouraged them at Rome; but the country cannot be
said to be behind the world in knowledge. Poets, too, are plenty; I
never read their verses.'

Meanwhile, the condition of England was becoming critical. Birmingham,
Leeds, Manchester, and other great towns were filled with angry
discontent, and turbulent mass meetings of the people were held to
protest against any further neglect of their just demands for political
representation. 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 to act in this capacity, and Manchester
determined also to send a representative, and on August 16, 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
'Passages in the Life of a Radical' will 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':--

    ... One fled past, a maniac maid,
    And her 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.'

    [Sidenote: OIL AND VINEGAR]

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 of the officers and troops of the
cavalry, whose firmness and effectual support of the civil power
preserved the peace of the town. The Cabinet also lost no time in giving
its emphatic support to the high-handed action of the Lancashire
magistrates, and Major Cartwright and other leaders of the popular
movement became the heroes of the hour because the Liverpool
Administration was foolish enough to turn them into political 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 some importance is evident from the
terms in which Sir James Mackintosh addressed him. 'You are more wanted
than anybody, not only for general service, but because your Reform must
be immediately brought forward--if possible, as the act of the party,
but at all events as the creed of all Whig Reformers.' Writing to Moore
from Genoa on November 9, Lord John says: 'I am just setting off for
London. Mackintosh has written me an oily letter, to which I have
answered by a vinegar one; but I want you to keep me up in acerbity.'

Soon after Parliament met, the famous Six Acts--usually termed the
'Gagging Acts'--were passed, though not without 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 punishment the authors of
blasphemous and seditious libels. No meeting of more than fifty people
was to be held without six days' notice to a magistrate; only
freeholders or inhabitants were to be allowed even to attend; and
adjournments were forbidden. The time and place of meeting were, if
deemed advisable, to be changed by the local authorities, and no banners
or flags were to be displayed. The wisdom of 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 proposed (1) that all
boroughs in which gross and notorious bribery and corruption should be
proved to prevail should cease to return members to Parliament; (2) that
the right so taken away should be given to some great town or to the
largest counties; (3) that it is the duty of the House to consider of
further means to detect and to prevent corruption in Parliamentary
elections; (4) that it is expedient that the borough of Grampound should
be disfranchised. Even Castlereagh complimented him on the manner in
which he had introduced the question, and undertook that, if 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 upon the death of the King, in January 1820, Lord John
obtained leave to bring in a bill for suspending the issue of writs to
the corrupt boroughs of Penryn, Camelford, Grampound, 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

At the general election of 1820 Lord John was returned for the county of
Huntingdon. As soon as possible Lord John returned to the charge, and
brought forward his measure for dealing with Grampound and to transfer
the right of voting to Leeds, the franchise to be given to occupiers of
houses rated at 5_l._ and upwards. In his 'Recollections and
Suggestions' Lord John says: 'With a view to work my way to a change,
not by eloquence--for I had none--but by patient toil and a plain
statement of facts, I brought before the House of Commons the case of
Grampound. I obtained an inquiry, and, with the assistance of Mr.
Charles Wynn, I forced the solicitors employed in bribery to reveal the
secrets of their employers: the case was clear; the borough was
convicted.' Whilst the debate was proceeding Queen Caroline arrived in
England from the Continent, and was received with much popular
enthusiasm. Hostile measures were at once taken in the House of Commons
against her, and though the despicable proceedings eventually came to
nought, they effectually stopped all further discussion of the question
of Reform for the time being.


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 of Pains and Penalties against Caroline by
proroguing Parliament. Such a request was entirely thrown away on a man
of the character of George IV., for the King was bent on a policy of
mean revenge; and as only the honour of a woman was concerned, the
'first gentleman of Europe' found the Liverpool Administration
obsequious enough to do his bidding. When at length public opinion
prevailed and the proceedings against the Queen were withdrawn in
November, and whilst rejoicings and illuminations were going on in
London at the Queen's deliverance, Lord John went to Paris, remaining
there till January. Moore was in Paris, and he was much in his company,
and divided the rest of his time between literature and society. He
wrote his now forgotten novel, 'The Nun of Arrouca,' during the six
weeks which he spent in Paris. A Frenchman, visiting the poet, 'lamented
that his friend Lord John showed to so little advantage in society from
his extreme taciturnity, and still more from his apparent coldness and
indifference to what is said by others. Several here to whom he was
introduced had been much disappointed in consequence of this manner.'

Lady Blessington, who was at that time living abroad, states that Lord
John came and dined with herself and the Earl, and the comments of so
beautiful and accomplished a 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
Lord John's success lays in the natural reserve of his manners, which
might lead people 'to think him cold and proud.' This is exactly what
happened, and only those who knew Lord John intimately were aware of the
delicate consideration for others which lurked beneath his somewhat
frigid demeanour.

    [Sidenote: HALF A LOAF OR NO BREAD]

Early in the year 1821 Lord John reintroduced his bill for the
disfranchisement of Grampound. Several amendments were proposed, and
one, brought forward by Mr. Stuart Wortley, limiting the right to vote
to 20_l._ householders, was carried. Thereupon Lord John declined to
take further charge of the measure. 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 democracy.' Grampound ceased to exist as a
Parliamentary borough, and the county of York gained two members.
Although Lord John supported the amended bill--on the principle that
half a loaf is better than no bread--he at the same time announced that
'in a future session he proposed to call attention to the claims of
large towns to send members to this House.' He was determined to do all
in his 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 industry of the England of the
nineteenth century, with its steam-engines and its factories, its cotton
and woollen cloths, its cutlery and its coal-mines, its wealth and its
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 a division his proposals were defeated by
thirty-one votes in a House of 279 members, and this, under all the
circumstances, was a better result than he expected.

On April 25, 1822, Lord John again tested the feeling of 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 proposing that 100 new members should be added,
and, in order that the Commons should not be overcrowded, he added
another resolution, to the effect that a similar number of the small
boroughs should be represented by one member instead of two. Mr. Canning
opposed such a scheme, but complimented Lord John on the ability he had
displayed in its advocacy, and then added: 'That the noble lord will
carry his motion this evening I have no fear; but with the talents which
he has shown himself to possess, and with (I sincerely hope) a long and
brilliant career of Parliamentary distinction before him, he will, no
doubt, renew his efforts hereafter. If, however, he shall persevere, and
if his perseverance shall be successful, and if the results of that
success shall be such as I cannot help apprehending, his be the triumph
to have precipitated those results, be mine the consolation that, to the
utmost and to the latest of my power, I have opposed them.'[2]

Little persuasion was necessary to win a hostile vote, and in a House of
433 members Lord John found himself in a minority of 164. Next year he
renewed his attempt, but with the same result, and in 1826 he once more
brought forward his proposals for Reform, to be defeated. Two months
afterwards, however--May 26, 1826--undaunted by his repeated failures,
he brought in a bill for the discovery and suppression of bribery at
elections. The forces arrayed against him again proved too formidable,
and Lord John, deeming it useless to proceed, abandoned the bill. He
made one more attempt in the expiring Parliament, in a series of
resolutions, to arrest political corruption, and when the division was
taken the numbers were equal, whereupon the Speaker recorded his vote on
Lord John's side. In June the House was dissolved.


The Whigs of the new generation were meanwhile dreaming of projects
which had never entered into the calculations of their predecessors.
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 these principles,' he declares, 'prevailed from 1770 to
1820, the country would have avoided the American War and the first
French Revolutionary War, the rebellion in Ireland in 1798, and the
creation of three or four millions of national debt.'[3] Whenever
opportunity allowed, Lord John sought in Parliament during the period
under review to give practical effect to such convictions. He spoke in
favour of the repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Bill, on the question of
the evacuation of Spain by the French army, on the Alien Bill, on an
inquiry into labourers' wages, on the Irish Insurrection Bill, on Roman
Catholic claims and Roman Catholic endowment, and on agricultural

During the closing years of George III.'s reign 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 at his back, and he knew--in spite of all appearances to the
contrary--that they, though yet unrepresented, were in reality stronger
than all the forces of selfish privilege and senseless prejudice. Lord
John had proved himself to be a man of action. The nation was beginning
to dream that he would yet prove himself to be a man of mark.


[1] _Memoirs, Journal, and Correspondence of Thomas Moore._ Edited by
the Right Hon. Lord John Russell, M.P.

[2] Canning's Speeches.

[3] _Recollections and Suggestions_, p. 43.




     Defeated and out of harness--Journey to Italy--Back in
     Parliament--Canning's accession to power--Bribery and
     corruption--The repeal 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. Ordinary men
accustomed to look facts in the face were not, however, so sanguine, and
Albany Fonblanque expressed the more common view amongst Radicals when
he asserted that if the national welfare turned on the exhibition in an
unreformed House of Commons of such unparliamentary qualities as
intelligence and independence, there would be ground not for hope but
for despair. He added that he saw no shadow of a reason for supposing
that 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

Self-improvement was, in truth, the last thing to be expected from a
House of Commons which represented vested rights, and the interests and
even the caprices of a few individuals, rather than the convictions or
needs of the nation. The Tory party was stubborn and defiant even when
the end of the Liverpool Administration was in sight. The Test Acts were
unrepealed, prejudice and suspicion shut out the Catholics from the
Legislature, and the sacred rights of property triumphed over the
terrible wrongs of the slave. The barbarous enactments of the Criminal
Code had not yet been entirely swept away, and the municipal
corporations, even to contemporary eyes, appeared as nothing less than
sinks of corruption.

Lord John was defeated in Huntingdonshire, and, to his disappointment,
found himself out of harness. He had hoped to bring in his Bribery Bill
early in the session, and under the altered circumstances he persuaded
Lord Althorp to press the measure forward. In a letter to that statesman
which was afterwards printed, he states clearly the evils which he
wished to remedy. A sentence or two will show the need of redress: 'A
gentleman from London goes down to a borough of which he scarcely before
knew the existence. The electors do not ask his political opinions; they
do not inquire into his private character; they only require to be
satisfied of the impurity of his intentions. If 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.'

    [Sidenote: A SARCASTIC APPEAL]

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 with his pithy and outspoken letter to Lord
Althorp on political bribery, and he was not alone in thinking that Lord
John ought not to throw away such an advantage by a prolonged absence on
the Continent. Lord William accordingly wrote to his brother to urge a
speedy return, and the letter is worth quoting, since incidentally it
throws light on another aspect of Lord John's character: 'If you feel
any ambition--which you have not; if you give up the charms of
Genoa--which you cannot; if you could renounce the dinners and
tea-tables and gossips of Rome--which you cannot; if you would cease to
care about attending balls and assemblies, and dangling after
ladies--which you cannot, there is a noble field of ambition and utility
opened to a statesman. It is Ireland, suffering, ill-used Ireland! The
gratitude of millions, the applause of the world, would attend the man
who would rescue the poor country. The place is open, and must soon be
filled up. Ireland cannot remain as she is. The Ministers feel it, and
would gladly listen to any man who would point out the way to relieve
her. Undertake the task; it is one of great difficulty, but let that be
your encouragement. See the Pope's minister; have his opinion on the
Catholic question; go to Ireland; find out the causes of her suffering;
make yourself master of the subject. Set to work, as you did about
Reform, by curing small evils at first.... I am pointing to the way for
you to make your name immortal, by doing good to millions and to your
country. But you will yawn over this, and go to some good dinner to be
agreeable, the height of ambition with the present generation.'

Meanwhile, through the influence of the Duke of Devonshire, Lord John
was elected in November for the Irish borough of Bandon Bridge, and in
February, fresh from prologue-writing for the private theatricals which
Lord Normanby was giving that winter in Florence, he took his seat in
the House of Commons. Lord Liverpool was struck down with paralysis on
February 18, and it quickly became apparent that his case was hopeless.
After a few weeks of suspense, which were filled with Cabinet intrigues,
Mr. Canning received the King's commands to reconstruct the Ministry;
but this was more easily said than done. 'Lord Liverpool's disappearance
from the political scene,' says Lord Russell, 'gave rise to a great
_débâcle_. The fragments of the old system rushed against each other,
and for a time all was confusion.' Six of Canning's colleagues flatly
refused to serve under him in the new Cabinet--Peel, Wellington, Eldon,
Westmoreland, Bathurst, and Bexley--though the latter afterwards took
advantage of his second thoughts and returned to the fold. Although an
opponent of Parliamentary reform and of the removal of Nonconformist
disabilities, Canning gave his support to Catholic emancipation, to the
demand for free trade, and the abolition of slavery. Canning's accession
to power threw the Tory ranks into confusion. 'The Tory party,' states
Lord Russell, 'which had survived the follies and disasters of the
American war, which had borne the defeats and achieved the final glories
of the French war, was broken by its separation from Mr. Canning into
fragments, which could not easily be reunited.'

    [Sidenote: CANNING IN POWER]

Sydney Smith--who, by the way, had no love for Canning, and failed to a
quite noteworthy extent to understand him--like the rest, took a gloomy
view of the situation, which he summed up in his own inimitable fashion.
'Politics, domestic and foreign, are very discouraging; Jesuits abroad,
Turks in Greece, "No Poperists" in England! A panting to burn B; B
fuming to roast C; C miserable that he can't reduce D to ashes; and D
consigning to eternal perdition the first three letters of the
alphabet.' Canning's tenure of power was brief and uneasy. His opponents
were many, his difficulties were great, and, to add to all, his health
was failing. 'My position,' was his own confession, 'is not that of
gratified ambition.' His Administration only lasted five months, for at
the end of that period death cut short the brilliant though erratic and
disappointed career of a statesman 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, and so incurred the suspicions
alike of uncompromising Whigs and unbending Tories.

During the Canning Administration, Lord John's influence in the House
made itself felt, and always along progressive lines. When the annual
Indemnity Bill for Dissenters 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 themselves were of
opinion that the moment was ripe for action. This virtual challenge, as
will be presently seen, was recognised by the Nonconformists as a call
to arms. Meanwhile cases of flagrant bribery at East Retford and
Penryn--two notoriously corrupt boroughs--came before the House, and it
was proposed to disenfranchise the former and to give in its place two
members to Birmingham. The bill, however, did not get beyond its second
reading. Lord John, nothing daunted, proposed in the session of 1828
that Penryn should suffer disenfranchisement, and that Manchester should
take its place. This was ultimately carried in the 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 for the moment on the death of Canning into the weak hands
of Lord Goderich, who tried ineffectually to keep together a Coalition
Ministry. Lord John's best friends appear to have been apprehensive at
this juncture lest the young statesman, in the general confusion of
parties, should lapse into somewhat of a political Laodicean. 'I feel a
little anxious,' wrote Moore, 'to know exactly the colour of your
politics just now, as from the rumours I hear of some of your brother
"watchmen," Althorp, Milton, and the like, I begin sometimes to
apprehend that you too may be among the fallers off. Lord Lansdowne
tells me, however, you continue quite staunch, and for his sake I hope
so.' But Lord John was not a 'faller off.' His eyes were fully open to
the anomalous position in which he in common with other members of the
party of reform had been placed under Canning and Goderich. Relief,
however, came swiftly. Lord Goderich, after four months of feeble
semblance of authority, resigned, finding it impossible to adjust
differences. As a subaltern, declared one who had narrowly watched his
career, Lord Goderich was respectable, but as 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 House of
Commons. Thus the 'great _débâcle_,' which commenced with Canning's
accession to power--in spite of the presence in the Cabinet of
Palmerston and Huskisson--drew to an end, and a line of cleavage was
once more apparent between the Whigs and the Tories. With Wellington,
Lord John had of course neither part nor lot, and when the Duke accepted
office he promptly ranged himself in the opposite camp.


Ireland was on the verge of rebellion when Wellington and Peel took
office, and in the person of O'Connell it possessed a leader of splendid
eloquence and courage, who pressed the claims of the Roman Catholics for
immediate relief 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 had arisen in Ireland, the
Protestant Dissenters saw their 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. 'The
leaders of the Whig party now formally identified themselves with it. In
one year the Duke of Sussex took the chair; in another Lord Holland
occupied the same position; Sir James Mackintosh delivered from its
platform a defence of religious liberty, such as had scarcely been given
to the English people since the time of Locke; and Lord John Russell,
boldly identifying himself and his party with the political interests of
Dissenters, came forward as chairman in another year, to advocate the
full civil and religious rights of the three millions who were now
openly connected with one or other of the Free Churches. The period of
the Revolution, when Somers, Halifax, Burnet, and their associates laid
the foundations of constitutional government, seemed to have
returned.'[4] Immediately Parliament assembled, Lord John
Russell--backed by many petitions from the Nonconformists--gave notice
that 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, to partake of the
Sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England, and to
subscribe the declaration against Transubstantiation. It was an evil
legacy from the reign of Charles II., and became law in 1673. The
Corporation Act was also placed on the statute-book in the same reign,
and in point of time twelve years earlier--namely, in 1661. It was a
well-directed blow against the political ascendency of Nonconformists in
the cities and towns. It required all public officials to take the
Sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England, within twelve
months of their appointment, and, whilst it excluded conscientious men,
it proved no barrier to unprincipled hypocrites. The repeal of the Test
and Corporation Acts had been mooted from time to time, but the forces
of prejudice and apathy had hitherto proved invincible. Fox espoused the
cause of the Dissenters in 1790, and moved for a committee of the whole
House to deal with the question. He urged that men were to be judged not
by their opinions, but by their actions, and he asserted that 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 of
Indemnity. He laid stress on the loyalty which the Dissenters had shown
during the Jacobite risings of 1715 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
rebellions.' The authority of Pitt and the eloquence of Burke were put
forth in opposition to the repeal of the Test Acts, and the panic
awakened by the French Revolution threw Parliament into a reactionary
mood, which rendered reform in any direction impossible. The result 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 of a cause in which, nearly forty years earlier, the genius of
Charles James Fox had been unavailingly 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 for the security of the Church, for 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 absurdity, as
non-commissioned officers, as well as commissioned excisemen,
tide-waiters, and even pedlars, were embraced in its provisions. In
theory, at least, the penalties incurred by these different classes of
men were neither few 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 liability to a pecuniary penalty of 500_l._! Of course, such
ridiculous penalties were in most cases suspended, but the law which
imposed them still disgraced the statute-book, and was acknowledged by
all unprejudiced persons to be indefensible. Besides, the most Holy
Sacrament of the Christian Church was habitually reduced to a mere civil
form imposed by Act of Parliament upon persons who either derided its
solemn meaning or might be spiritually unfit to receive it. 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 such a question, put in such a form, only one answer was 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 consequences of
mixing politics with religion. You embitter and aggravate political
dissensions by the venom of theological disputes, and you profane
religion with the vices of political ambition, making it 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 real. Huskisson and Palmerston
followed on the same side, whilst Althorp and Brougham lent their aid to
the demand for religious liberty. The result of the division showed a
majority of forty-four in favour of the motion, and the bill was
accordingly brought in and read a second time without discussion. During
the progress of the measure through the House of Lords, the two
Archbishops--less fearful for the safety of the Established Church than
some of their followers--met Lord John's motion for the repeal of the
Acts in a liberal and enlightened manner. 'Religious tests,' said
Archbishop Harcourt of York, 'imposed for political purposes, must in
themselves be always liable more or less to endanger religious
sincerity.' Such an admission, of course, materially strengthened Lord
John Russell's hands, and prepared the way for a speedy revision of the
law. Many who had hitherto supported the Test Act began to see that such
measures were, after all, a failure and a sham. If their terms were so
lax that any man could subscribe to them with undisturbed conscience,
then they ceased to be any test at all. On the contrary, if they were
hard and rigid, then they forced men to the most odious form of
dissimulation. A declaration, if required by the Crown, was therefore
substituted for the sacramental test, by which a person entering office
pledged himself not to use its influence as a means for subverting the
Established Church. On the motion of the Bishop of Llandaff, the words
'on the true faith of a Christian' were inserted in the declaration--a
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 to shut out Unitarians from
the relief thus afforded to conscience, but, happily, such an intolerant
proceeding, even in an unreformed Parliament, met with no success. Lord
Eldon fiercely attacked the measure--'like a lion,' as he said, 'but
with his talons cut off'--but met with little support. It was felt that
the great weight of authority as well as argument was in favour of the
liberal policy which Lord John Russell advocated, and hence, after a
protracted debate, the cause of religious freedom triumphed, and on May
9, 1828, the Test and Corporation Acts were finally repealed. A great
and forward impulse was thus given to the cause of religious equality,
and under the same energetic leadership the party of progress set
themselves with fresh hope to invade other citadels of privilege.

The victory came as a surprise not merely to Lord John but also to the
Nonconformists. The fact that a Tory Government was in power was
responsible for the widespread anticipation of a bitter and protracted
struggle. Amongst the congratulations which Lord John received, none
perhaps was more significant than Lord Grey's generous admission that
'he had done more than any man now living' on behalf of liberty. 'I am a
little anxious,' wrote Moore, 'to know that your glory has done you no
harm in the way of health, as I see you are a pretty constant attendant
on the House. There is nothing, I fear, worse for a man's constitution
than to trouble himself too much about the constitution of Church and
State. So pray let me have one line to say how you are.' 'My
constitution,' wrote back Lord John, 'is not quite so much improved as
the Constitution of the country by late events, but the joy of it will
soon revive me. It is really a gratifying thing to force the enemy to
give up his first line--that none but Churchmen are worthy to serve the
State; I trust we shall soon make him give up the second, that none but
Protestants are.'


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 raised the question in an acute form. Although the followers of
Canning had already left the Ministry, the Duke of Wellington and Peel
found themselves powerless to quell the agitation which O'Connell and
the Catholic Association had raised in Ireland by any means short of
civil war. 'What our Ministry will do,' wrote Lord John, 'Heaven only
knows, but I cannot blame O'Connell for being a little impatient, after
twenty-seven years of just expectation disappointed.' The allusion was,
of course, to Pitt's scheme at the beginning of the century to enable
Catholics to sit in Parliament and so to reconcile the Irish people to
the Union--a generous project which was brought to nought by the
obstinate attitude of George III. Lord John was meditating introducing a
measure for Catholic Emancipation, when Peel took the wind from his
sails. George IV., however, supported by a majority of the Lords
Spiritual and Temporal, was as stoutly opposed to concession as George
III. Lord John Russell's words on this point are significant 'George
III.'s religious scruples, and even his personal prejudices, were
respected by the nation, and formed real barriers so long as 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
outcome of Tory panic concerning the probable result of Roman Catholic
Emancipation--met with little favour, either then or when they were
renewed at the commencement of the session of 1830. Lord Blandford had
in truth made himself conspicuous by his opposition to the Catholic
claims, and the nation distrusted the sudden zeal of the heir to
Blenheim in such a cause. On February 23, 1830, Lord John Russell sought
leave to bring in a bill for conferring the franchise upon Manchester,
Birmingham, and Leeds, on the plea that they were the three largest
unrepresented towns in the country. The moderate proposal was, however,
rejected in a House of three hundred and twenty-eight members by a
majority of forty-eight. Three months later Mr. O'Connell brought
forward a motion for Triennial Parliaments, Universal Suffrage, and the
adoption of the Ballot; but this was rejected. But in a House of three
hundred and thirty-two members, only thirteen were in favour of it,
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. On June 26 George IV. died, and a few weeks
later Parliament was dissolved. At the General Election, Lord John stood
for Bedford, and, much to his chagrin, was defeated by a single vote.
After the declaration of the poll in August, he crossed over to Paris,
where he prolonged his stay till November. The unconstitutional
ordinances of July 25, 1830, had brought about a revolution, and Lord
John Russell, who was intimate with the chief statesman concerned, was
wishful to study the crisis on the spot, and in the recital of its
dramatic incidents to find relief from his own political disappointment.

During this visit he used his influence with General Lafayette for the
life of Prince de Polignac, who was connected by marriage with a noble
English family, and was about to be put on his trial. Lord John was
intimately acquainted, not only with Lafayette, but with other leaders
in the French political world, and his intercession, on which his
friends in England placed much reliance, seems to have carried effectual
weight, for the Prince's life was spared.


With distress at home and revolution abroad, signs of the coming change
made themselves felt at the General Election. Outside the pocket
boroughs, the Ministerialists went almost everywhere to the wall, and
'not a single member of the Duke of Wellington's Cabinet obtained a seat
in the new Parliament by anything approaching to free and open
election.'[5] The first Parliament of William IV. met on October 26, and
two or three days later, in the debate on the King's Speech, Wellington
made his now historic statement in answer to Earl Grey, who resented the
lack of reference to Reform: 'I am not prepared to bring forward any
measure of the description alluded to by the noble lord. I am not only
not prepared to bring forward any measure of this nature, but I will at
once declare that, as far as I am concerned, as long as I hold any
station in the government of the country, I shall always feel it my duty
to resist such measures when proposed by others.'

This statement produced a feeling of dismay even in the calm atmosphere
of the House of Lords, and the Duke, noticing the scarcely suppressed
excitement, turned to one of his colleagues and whispered: 'What can I
have said which seems to have made so great a disturbance?' Quick came
the dry retort of the candid friend: 'You have announced the fall of
your Government, that is all.' The consternation was almost comic.
'Never was there an act of more egregious folly, or one so universally
condemned,' says Charles Greville. 'I came to town last night (five days
after the Duke's speech), and found the town ringing with his
imprudence and everybody expecting that a few days would produce his
resignation.' Within a fortnight the general expectation was fulfilled,
for on November 16 the Duke, making a pretext of an unexpected defeat
over Sir H. Parnell's motion regarding the Civil List, threw up the
sponge, and Lord Grey was sent for by the King and entrusted with the
new Administration. The irony of the situation became complete when Lord
Grey made it a stipulation to his acceptance of office that
Parliamentary Reform should be a Cabinet measure.

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 Paymaster-General, and, though he
might reasonably have expected 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 importance that he performed
was the pleasant task of allotting garden-plots at Chelsea to seventy
old soldiers, a boon which the pensioners highly appreciated.


[4] _History of the Free Churches of England_, pp. 457-458, by H. S.
Skeats and C. S. Miall.

[5] _The Three Reforms of Parliament_, by William Heaton, chap. ii. p.




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

EARL GREY was a 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. He, more than any other man, was the founder, in 1792--the year
in which Lord John Russell was born--of 'The Friends of the People,' a
political association which united the forces of the patriotic societies
which just then were struggling into existence in various parts of the
land. He was the foe of Pitt and the friend 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 and evil report, in deed as well as in name, a
Friend of the People. As far back as 1793, he declared: 'I am more
convinced than ever that a reform in Parliament might now be peaceably
effected. I 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 perseverance 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.' The 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 Government, by issuing
proclamations in which whole classes of the community were denounced as
seditious, as well as by fulminating against insurrections that only
existed in their own guilty imaginations, filled the minds of the people
with false alarms, and taught every man to distrust if not to hate his
neighbour. There was no more chance of Reform under the existing
_régime_ than of 'a thaw in Zembla,' to borrow a famous simile. Cobbett
was right in his assertion that the 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. The day of the King's funeral--it was early in July
and beautifully fine--was marked, of course, by official signs of
mourning, but the rank and file of the people rejoiced, and, according
to a contemporary record, the merry-making and junketing in the villages
round London recalled the scenes of an ordinary Whit Monday.

On the whole, the nation accepted the accession of the Sailor King with
equanimity, though scarcely with enthusiasm, and for the moment it was
not thought that the new reign would bring an immediate change of
Ministry. The dull, uncompromising nonsense, however, which Wellington
put into the King's lips in the Speech from the Throne at 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 the country was universal--riots prevailed,
rick-burning was common. Lord Grey's prediction of 1793 seemed about to
be fulfilled, for the people, 'maddened by excessive injury and roused
to a feeling of their own strength,' seemed about to break the traces
and to take the bit between their teeth. The deep and widespread
confidence alike in the character and capacity of Lord Grey did more
than anything else at that moment to calm the public mind and to turn
wild clamour into quiet and resistless enthusiasm.

    [Sidenote: LORD GREY AS LEADER]

Yet in certain respects Lord Grey was out of touch with the new spirit
of the nation. If his own political ardour had not cooled, the lapse of
years had not widened to any perceptible degree his vision of the issues
at stake. He was a man of stately manners and fastidious tastes, and,
though admirably qualified to hold the position of leader of the
aristocratic Whigs, he had little in common with the toiling masses of
the people. He was a conscientious and even chivalrous statesman, but he
held himself too much aloof from the rank 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, and his speeches,
in consequence, able and philosophic 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.' On one memorable occasion--the second reading of the Reform
Bill in the House of Lords--Lord Grey entirely escaped from such
oratorical restraints, and even the Peers were moved to 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 families in the North
of England, Lord Durham entered the House of Commons in the year 1813,
at the 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. He 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 was appointed Lord
Privy Seal. His popular sobriquet, 'Radical Jack,' itself attests the
admiration of the populace, and when Lambton was raised to the peerage
in 1828 he carried to the House of Lords the enthusiastic homage as well
as the great expectations of the crowd. Lord Durham was the idol of the
Radicals, and his presence in the Grey Administration was justly
regarded as a pledge of energetic action.

He would unquestionably have had the honour of introducing the Reform
Bill in the House of Commons if he had still been a member of that
assembly, for he had made the question peculiarly his own, and behind
him lay the enthusiasm of the entire party of Reform. Althorp, though
leader of the House, and in spite of the confidence which his character
inspired, lacked the power of initiative and the Parliamentary courage
necessary to steer the Ship of State through such rough waters. When
Lord Grey proposed to entrust the measure to Lord John, Brougham pushed
the claims of Althorp, and raised objections to Lord John on the ground
that the young Paymaster-General was not in the Cabinet; but Durham
stoutly opposed him, and urged that Lord John had the first claim, since
he had last been in possession of the question.


An unpublished paper of Lord Durham's, in the possession of the present
Earl, throws passing light on the action, at this juncture, of the
Ministry, and therefore it may be well to quote it. 'Shortly after the
formation of the Government, Lord Grey asked me in the House of Lords if
I would assist him in preparing the Reform Bill. I answered that I would
do so with the greatest pleasure. He then said, "You can have no
objection to consult Lord John Russell?" I replied, "Certainly not, but
the reverse."' In consequence of this conversation, Lord Durham goes on
to state, he placed himself in communication with Lord John, and they
together agreed to summon to their councils Sir James Graham and Lord
Duncannon. 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 Lord Grey, the various deputations from
different parts of the kingdom which were flocking up to impress their
views of the situation on the new Premier. Since the measure had of
necessity to originate in the House of Commons, and Lord John, it was
already settled, was to be its first spokesman, Lord Durham suggested
that Russell should draw up a plan. This was done, and it was carefully
discussed and amended in various directions, 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 him
but by his three colleagues. 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: 'This was no
Cabinet secret, for it was necessarily known to hundreds, Lord Grey
having referred to me all the memorials from different towns and
bodies.' Lord Durham was in advance of his colleagues on this as upon
most questions, for he took his stand on household suffrage, vote by
ballot and triennial Parliaments, and if he could have carried his
original draft of the Reform Bill that measure would have been far more
revolutionary than that which became law. His proposals in the House of
Commons in 1821 went, in fact, 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 1
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

    [Sidenote: LEADING THE ATTACK]

Petitions in favour of Reform from all parts of the kingdom poured into
both Houses. The excitement in the 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. Even as late 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. Ministers contrived to keep their secret uncommonly well, and
when at length the eventful day, March 1, arrived, the House of Commons
was packed by a crowd such as had scarcely been seen there in its
history. Troops of eager politicians came up from the country and waited
at all the inlets of the House, whilst the leading supporters of the
Whigs in London society gathered at dinner-parties, and anxiously
awaited intelligence from Westminster.

Lord John's speech began at six o'clock, and lasted for two hours and a
quarter. Beginning in a low voice, he proceeded gradually to unfold his
measure, greeted in turns by cheers of approval and shouts of derision.
Greville says it was ludicrous to see the faces of the members for those
places doomed to disfranchisement, as they were severally announced.
Wetherell, a typical Tory of the no-surrender school, began to take
notes as the plan was unfolded, but after various contortions and
grimaces he threw down his paper, with a look of mingled despair,
ridicule, and horror. Lord Durham, seated under the gallery, doubted the
reality of the scene passing before his eyes. 'They are mad, they are
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 further than most, and knew very well that boldness
was the best chance. 'Burdett and I walked home together,' states
Hobhouse, 'and agreed that there was very little chance of the measure
being carried. We thought our friends in Westminster would oppose the
ten-pound franchise.'

'I rise, sir,' Lord John commenced, 'with feelings of the deepest
anxiety to bring forward a question which, unparalleled as it is in
importance, is as unparalleled in points of difficulty. Nor is my
anxiety, in approaching this question, lessened by reflecting that on
former occasions I have brought this subject before the consideration of
the House. For if, on other occasions, I have invited the attention of
the House of Commons to this most important subject, it has been upon my
own responsibility--unaided by anyone--and involving no one in the
consequences of defeat.... But the measure which I have now to bring
forward, is a measure, not of mine but of the Government.... It is,
therefore, with the greatest anxiety that I venture to explain their
intentions to this House on a subject, the interest of which is shown by
the crowded audience who have assembled here, but still more by the deep
interest which is felt by millions out of this House, who look with
anxiety, with hope, and with expectation, to the result of this day's


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.
'Would not such a foreigner be much astonished if he were taken to a
green mound, and informed that it sent two members to the British
Parliament; if he were shown a stone wall, and told that it also sent
two members to the British Parliament; or, if he walked into a park,
without the vestige of a dwelling, and was told that it, too, sent two
members to the British Parliament? But if he were surprised at this, how
much more would he be astonished if he were carried into the North of
England, where he would see large flourishing towns, full of trade,
activity, and intelligence, vast magazines of wealth and manufactures,
and were told that these places sent no representatives to Parliament.
But his wonder would not end here; he would be astonished if he were
carried to such a place as Liverpool, and were there told that he might
see a specimen of a popular election, what would be the result? He would
see bribery employed in the most unblushing manner, he would see every
voter receiving a number of guineas in a box as the price of his
corruption; and after such a spectacle would he not be indeed surprised
that representatives so chosen could possibly perform the functions of
legislators, or enjoy 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 sent members to
Parliament in the reign of Edward III., 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 that by the provisions of the bill sixty boroughs
with less than 2,000 inhabitants were to lose the franchise; forty-seven
boroughs, returning ninety-four members, were to lose 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 English
counties, five to Scotland, three to Ireland, and one to Wales. 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 half a million persons would be enfranchised by the
bill; but the number of members in the House would be reduced by
sixty-two. Lord John laid significant stress on the fact that they had
come to the deliberate opinion that 'no half-measures would be
sufficient, that no trifling, no 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 prelude to
civil war, which, in point of fact, it averted. But incredulity was the
prevailing feeling, both among the moderate Whigs and the great mass of
the Tories. The Radicals alone were delighted and triumphant. Joseph
Hume, whom I met in the streets a day or two afterwards, assured me of
his hearty support of the Government.' There were many Radicals,
however, who thought that the measure scarcely went far enough, and one
of them happily summed up the situation by saying that, although the
Reform Bill did not give the people all they wanted, it broke up the old
system and took the weapons from the hands of the enemies of progress.


Night after night the debate proceeded, and it became plain that the
Tories 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 Greville.
'Every creature one meets asks, "What is said now? How will it go? What
is the last news? What do you think?" And so it is from morning till
night, in the streets, in the clubs, and in private houses.' After a
week of controversy, leave was given to bring in the bill. 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. The House
divided at three o'clock on the morning of the 23rd, and the second
reading was carried by a majority of one--333-332--in the fullest House
on record. 'It is better to capitulate than to be taken by storm,' was
the comment of one of the cynics of the hour. Illuminations took place
all over the country. The people were good-humoured but determined, and
the Opposition began to recover from its fright and to declare that the
Government could not proceed with the measure and were certain to
resign. Peel's action--and sometimes his lack of it--was severely
criticised by many of his own followers, and not a few of the Tories,
unable to forgive the surrender to the claims of the Catholics, met the
new crisis in the time-honoured spirit of Gallio. They seemed to have
thought not only that the country was fast going to the dogs, but that
under all the circumstances, it did not much matter.

Parliament met after the usual Easter recess, and on April 18 General
Gascoigne moved as an instruction to the committee that the number of
members of Parliament ought not to be diminished, and after a debate
which lasted till four o'clock in the morning the resolution was carried
in a House of 490 members by a majority of eight. The Government thus
suddenly placed in a minority saw their opportunity and took it. Lord
Grey and his colleagues had begun to realise that it was impossible for
them to carry the Reform Bill in the existing 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 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, the whole bill, and nothing but the bill,' was the popular
watchword during the tumult of the General Election. On the dissolution
of Parliament the Lord Mayor sanctioned the illumination of London, and
an angry mob, forgetful of the soldier in the statesman, broke the
windows of Apsley House.

  [Sidenote: THE FLOWING TIDE]

Speaking at a political meeting two days after the dissolution, Lord
John Russell said that the electors in the approaching struggle were
called on not merely to select the best men to defend their rights and
interests, but also to give a plain answer to the question, put to the
constituencies by the King in dissolving Parliament, Do you approve, aye
or no, of the principle of Reform in the representation? Right through
the length and breadth of the kingdom his words were caught up, 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 the opposing camps of the Reformers and
anti-Reformers, and every other question was thrust aside in the
struggle. The political unions proved themselves to be a power in the
land, and the operatives and artisans of the great manufacturing
centres, though still excluded from citizenship, left no stone unturned
to ensure the popular triumph. Lord John was pressed to stand both for
Lancashire and Devonshire; 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 movement, 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 are tumbling about
like ninepins.' Parliament assembled in June, and it became plain at a
glance that democratic ideas were working like leaven upon public
opinion in England. In spite of rotten boroughs, close corporations, the
opposition of the majority of the territorial aristocracy, and the panic
of thousands of timid people, who imagined that the British Constitution
was imperilled, the Reformers came back in strength, and at least a
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 Russell, now raised to Cabinet rank, introduced
the Second Reform Bill, which was substantially the same as the first,
and the measure was carried rapidly through its preliminary stage, and
on July 8 it passed the second reading by a majority of 136. The
Government, however, in Committee was met night after night by an
irritating cross-fire of criticism; repeated motions for adjournment
were made; there was a systematic division of labour in the task of
obstruction. In order to promote delay, the leaders 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 the cholera. I
can recommend no books, for the booksellers declare nobody reads or buys
in the present fever. The newspapers are furious, the Sunday papers are
talking treason by wholesale.... Peel does all he can to make his
friends behave like gentlemen. But the nightly vulgarities of the House
of Commons furnish new reasons for Reform, and not a ray of talent
glimmers among them all. Double-distilled stupidity!'[6] In the midst of
it all Russell fell ill, worn out with fatigue and excitement, and as
the summer slipped past the people became alarmed and indignant at the
dead-lock, and in various parts of the kingdom the attitude of the
masses grew not merely restless but menacing. At length the tactics of
the Opposition were exhausted, and it was possible to report progress.
'On September 7,' is Lord John's statement, 'the debate was closed, and
after much labour, and considerable sacrifice of health, I was able on
that night to propose, amid much cheering, that the bill should be
reported to the House.' The third reading was carried on September 19 by
a majority of fifty-five. Three days later, at five in the morning on
September 22, the question was at length put, and in a 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 as if he felt the occasion to be the most critical event in a
political career which had extended to nearly half a century. He struck
at once the right key-note, the gravity of the situation, the magnitude
of the issues involved, the welfare of the nation. He made a modest but
dignified allusion to his own life-long association with the question.
'In 1786 I voted for Reform. I supported Mr. Pitt in his motion for
shortening the duration of Parliaments. I gave my best assistance to the
measure of Reform introduced by Mr. Flood before the French
Revolution.[7] On one or two occasions I originated motions on the
subject.' Then he turned abruptly from his own personal association with
the subject to what he finely termed the 'mighty interests of the
State,' and the course which Ministers felt they must take if they were
to meet the demands of justice, and not to imperil the safety of the
nation. He laid stress on the general discontent which prevailed, on the
political agitation of the last twelve months, on the distress that
reigned in the manufacturing districts, on the influence of the numerous
political associations which had grown powerful because of that
distress, on the suffering of the agricultural population, on the
'nightly alarms, burnings, and popular disturbances,' as well as on the
'general feeling of doubt and apprehension observable in every
countenance.' He endeavoured to show that the measure was not
revolutionary in spirit or subversive of the British Constitution, as
many people proclaimed.

Lord Grey contended that there 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 to
the 'gross and scandalous corruption practised without disguise' at
elections, and he declared that the sale of seats in the House of
Commons was a matter of equal notoriety with the return of nominees of
noble and wealthy persons to that House. He laid stress on the fact that
a few individuals under the existing system were able to turn into a
means of personal profit privileges which had been conferred in past
centuries for the benefit of the nation. 'It is with these views that
the Government has considered that the boroughs which are called
nomination boroughs ought to be abolished. In looking at these boroughs,
we found that some of them were incapable of correction, for it is
impossible to extend their constituency. Some of them consisted only of
the sites of ancient boroughs, which, however, might perhaps in former
times have been very fit places to return members to Parliament; in
others, the constituency was insignificantly small, and from their local
situation incapable of receiving any increase; so that, upon the whole,
this gangrene of our representative system bade defiance to all remedies
but that of excision.'

After several nights' debate, in which Brougham, according to Lord John,
delivered one of the greatest speeches ever heard in the House of Lords,
the bill was at length rejected, after an all-night sitting, at twenty
minutes past six o'clock on Saturday morning, October 8, 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. As the carriages of the nobility rattled through the
streets at daybreak, artisans and labourers trudging to their work
learnt with indignation that the demands of the people had been treated
with characteristic contempt by the Peers.


The next few days were full 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
disquieting 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 who had made
themselves peculiarly obnoxious were assaulted in the streets; and the
Bishops could not stir abroad without being followed by the jeers and
execrations of the multitude. Quiet middle-class people talked of
refusing to pay the taxes, and showed unmistakably that they had caught
the revolutionary spirit of the hour. Birmingham, 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, and the reply of the latter is historic: 'Our prospects are
obscured for a moment, but, I trust, only for a moment; it is impossible
that the whisper of a faction should prevail against the voice of a

Meanwhile Lord Ebrington, Lord John's colleague in the representation of
Devonshire, 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
marched in procession to St. James's Palace, bearing a petition to the
King in favour of the retention of the Grey Administration. Hume
presented it, and when he returned to the waiting crowd in the Park, he
was able to tell them that their prayer would not pass unheeded. No
wonder that Croker wrote shortly afterwards: 'The four M's--the Monarch,
the Ministry, the Members, and the Multitude--all against us. The King
stands on his Government, the Government on the House of Commons, the
House of Commons on the people. How can we attack a line thus linked and
supported?' Indignation meetings were held in all parts of the country,
and at one of them, held at Taunton, Sydney Smith delivered the famous
speech in 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,
when the Atlantic invaded her threshold. 'The Atlantic was roused. Mrs.
Partington's spirit was up. But I need not tell you that the contest was
unequal. The Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs. Partington. Gentlemen, be at your
ease, be quiet and steady; you will beat--Mrs. Partington.' The
newspapers carried the witty allusion everywhere. It tickled the public
fancy, and did much to relax the bitter mood of the nation, and
vapouring heroics were forgotten in laughter, and indignation gave way
to amused contempt.

Parliament, which had been prorogued towards the end of October,
reassembled in the first week of December, and on the 12th of that 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 light. In order
to meet certain anomalies in the original 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
disenfranchisement and the other for semi-disenfranchisement; and the
principle on which fifty-six towns were included in the first list, and
thirty in the second, was determined by the 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 the Christmas recess, and on
January 20 the bill reached the committee stage, and there it remained
till March 14. The third reading took place on March 23, and the bill
was passed by a majority of 116. Althorp, as the leader of the Commons,
and Russell, as the Minister in charge of the measure, carried the
Reform Bill promptly to the House of Lords, and made formal request for
the 'concurrence of their lordships to the same.' Other men had laboured
to bring about this result; but the nation felt that, but for the pluck
and persistency of Russell, and the judgment and tact of Althorp,
failure would have attended their efforts.


It is difficult now to understand the secret of the influence which
Althorp wielded in the Grey Administration, but it 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,
when controversy grew furious and passion rose high, Althorp kept a cool
head, and his adroitness in conciliatory speech was remarkable. He was a
moderate man, who never failed to do justice to his opponent's case, and
his influence was not merely in the Commons; it made itself felt to
good purpose in the Court, as well as in the country. He was a man of
chivalrous instincts and unchallenged probity. It was one of his
political opponents, Sir Henry Hardinge, who exclaimed, 'Althorp carried
the bill. His fine temper did it!'

Lord John Russell, like his colleagues, was fully alive to the gravity
of the crisis. He made no secret of his conviction that, if another
deadlock arose, the consequence would be bloodshed, and the outbreak of
a conflict in which 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 different question was on men's lips,
'What must be done with the Lords?' Government knew that the real
struggle over the bill would be in Committee, and therefore they refused
to be unduly elated when the second reading was carried on April 14 with
a majority of nine, in spite of the Duke of Wellington's blustering
heroics. Three weeks later, Lord Lyndhurst carried, by a majority of
thirty-five, a motion for the mutilation of the bill, in spite of Lord
Grey's assurance that it dealt a fatal blow at the measure. The Premier
immediately moved the adjournment of the debate, and the situation grew
suddenly dramatic. The Cabinet had made its last concession; Ministers
determined, in Lord Durham's words, that a 'sufficient creation of Peers
was absolutely necessary' if their resignation was not to take immediate
effect, and they laid their views before the King. William IV., like his
predecessor, lived in a narrow world; 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.

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, and the Ministry had no other alternative
than to resign. William IV. took counsel with Lord Lyndhurst, and
summoned the Duke of Wellington. Meanwhile the House of Commons at the
instance of Lord Ebrington, again passed a vote of confidence in the
Grey Administration, and adopted an address to His Majesty, begging him
to call to his councils such persons only as 'will carry into effect
unimpaired in all its essential provisions that bill for reforming 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 bill, the whole 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 Adelaide's likeness was disfigured with lampblack.
Rumours of projected riots filled 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, when the attitude of the country was menacing, the King yielded,
on May 17, and sent for Lord Grey. 'Only think,' wrote Joseph Parkes on
May 18, 'that at three yesterday all was gloomy foreboding in the
Cabinet, and at twenty-five minutes before five last night Lord Althorp
did not know the King's answer till Lord Grey returned at half-past
five--"All right." Thus on the decision of one man rests the fate of

Instead of creating new Peers, the King addressed a letter to members of
the House of Lords who were hostile to the bill, urging them to withdraw
their opposition. A hint from Windsor went further with the aristocracy
in those days than any number of appeals, reasonable or just, from the
country. About a hundred of the Peers, in angry sullen mood, shook off
the dust of Westminster, and, in Lord John's words, 'skulked in clubs
and country houses.' Sindbad, to borrow Albany Fonblanque's vigorous
simile, was getting rid of the old man of the sea, not permanently,
alas! but at least for the occasion. During the progress of these
negotiations, the nation, now confident of victory, stood not merely at
attention but on the alert. 'I say,' exclaimed Attwood at
Birmingham--and the phrase expressed the situation--'the people of
England stand at this moment like greyhounds on the slip!' Triumph was
only a matter of time. 'Pray beg of Lord Grey to keep well,' wrote
Sydney Smith to the Countess; 'I have no doubt of a favourable issue. I
see an open sea beyond the icebergs.' At length the open sea was
reached, and on June 7 the Reform Bill received the Royal Assent and
became the law of the land, and with it the era of government by public
opinion began. The mode by which the country at last obtained this great
measure of redress did not commend itself to Lord John's judgment. He
did not disguise his opinion that the creation of many new Peers
favourable to Reform would have been a more dignified proceeding than
the request from Windsor to noble lords to dissemble and cloak their
disappointment. 'Whether twelve or one hundred be the number requisite
to enable the Peers to give their votes in conformity with public
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 show
its ill-will by rejecting bills 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 and, I hope, will forgive you for this bill,' was Lord
Sidmouth's plaintive lament to Earl Grey, 'but I do not think I ever
can!' There lives no record of reply. The last protest of the Duke of
Wellington, delivered just before the measure became law, was
characteristic in many respects, and not least in its blunt honesty.
'Reform, my lords, 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 can say where its course
should stop? who can stay its speed? For my own part, I earnestly hope
that my predictions may not be fulfilled, and that my country may not be
ruined by the measure which the noble earl and his colleagues have
sanctioned.' Lord John Russell, on the contrary, held then the view
which he afterwards expressed: 'It is the right of a people to represent
its grievances: it is the business of a statesman to devise remedies.'
In the first quarter of the present century the people made their
grievances known. Lord Grey and his Cabinet in 1831-2 devised remedies,
and, in Lord John's memorable phrase, 'popular enthusiasm rose in its
strength and converted them into law.'

The Reform Bill, as Walter Bagehot has shown, did nothing to remove the
worst evils from which the nation suffered, for the simple reason that
those evils were not political but economical. But if it left
unchallenged the reign of protection and much else in the way of
palpable and glaring injustice, it ushered in a new temper in regard to
public questions. It recognised the 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 political struggle under Pitt had been between the aristocracy and
the monarchy, but that under Grey was between the aristocracy and the
middle classes, 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 had passed away, and that the Reform Bill rendered their
return impossible. It was at best only a half measure, but it broke the
old exclusive traditions and diminished to a remarkable degree the power
of the landed interest in Parliament. It has been said that it was the
business of Lord John Russell at that crisis to 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 moment when political
excitement assumed a menacing form. The public rejoicings were inspired
as much by hope as by gladness. A new era had dawned, the will of the
nation had prevailed, the spirit of progress was abroad, and the
multitudes knew that other reforms less showy perhaps but not less
substantial, were at hand. 'Look at England before the Reform Bill, and
look at it now,' wrote Mr. Froude in 1874. 'Its population almost
doubled; its commerce quadrupled; every individual in the kingdom lifted
to a high level of comfort and intelligence--the speed quickening every
year; the advance so enormous, the increase so splendid, that language
turns to rhetoric in describing it.' When due allowance is made for the
rhetoric of such a description--for alas! the 'high level of comfort'
for every individual in the kingdom is still unattained--the substantial
truth of such a statement cannot be gainsaid. When the battle was
fought, Lord 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 Lord Althorp. At the same
time he never concealed his conviction that it was the multitude outside
who made the measure resistless.


[6] _Correspondence of Mr. Joseph Jekyll_, 1818-1838. Edited, with a
brief Memoir, by the Hon. Algernon Bourke. Pp. 272-273.

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

[8] _Life of George Grote_, by Mrs. Grote, p. 80.




     The turn of the tide with the Whigs--The two voices in the
     Cabinet--Lord John and Ireland--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--Personal sorrow.

HIGH-WATER mark was reached with the Whigs in the spring of 1833, and
before the tide turned, two years later, Lord Grey and his colleagues
had, in various directions, done much to justify the hopes of their
followers. The result of the General Election in the previous December
was seen when the first Reformed Parliament assembled at Westminster, on
January 29, 1833. Lord Althorp, as Leader of the House of Commons, found
himself with 485 members at his back, whilst Sir Robert Peel confronted
him with about 170 stalwart Tories. After all, the disparity was hardly
as great as it looked, for it was a mixed multitude which followed
Althorp, and in its ranks were the elements of conflict and even of
revolt. The Whigs had made common cause with the Radicals when the
Reform Bill stood in jeopardy every hour, but the triumph of the measure
imperilled this grand alliance. Not a few of the Whigs had been
faint-hearted during the struggle, and were now somewhat alarmed at its
overwhelming success. Their inclination was either to rest on their
laurels or to make haste slowly. The Radicals, on the contrary, longed
for new worlds to conquer. They were full of energy and enthusiasm, and
desired nothing so much as to ride abroad redressing human wrongs. The
traditions of the past were dear to the Whigs, but the Radicals thrust
such considerations impatiently aside, and boasted that 1832 was the
Year 1 of the people. It was impossible that such warring elements
should permanently coalesce; 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 dress of a Whig. Lord Durham was a
Radical of an outspoken and uncompromising type, in spite of his
aristocratic trappings 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; whilst Shaftesbury's charity
began at home with the neglected factory children. Religious toleration
was represented in the Commons by the Jewish Relief Bill, and its
opposite in the Lords by the defeat of that measure. Althorp amended the
Poor Laws, and, though neither he nor his colleagues would admit the
fact, the bill rendered, by its alterations in the provisions of
settlement and the bold attack which it made on the thraldom of labour,
the repeal of the Corn Laws inevitable. Grant renewed the charter of the
East India Company, but not its monopoly of the trade with the East.
Roebuck brought forward a great scheme of education, whilst Grote
sought to introduce the ballot, and Hume, in the interests of economy,
but at the cost of much personal odium, assailed sinecures and
extravagance in every shape and form. Ward drew attention to the abuses
of the Irish Church, and did much by his exertions to lessen them; and
Lord John Russell a year or two later brought about a civic revolution
by the Municipal Reform Act--a measure which, next to the reform of
Parliament, did more to broaden and uplift the political life of the
people than any other enactment of the century. Ireland blocked the way
of Lord Grey's Ministry, and the wild talk and hectoring attitude of
O'Connell, and his bold bid for personal ascendency, made it difficult
for responsible statesmen to deal calmly with the problems by which they
were confronted.

It is true that Lord John was not always on the side of the angels of
progress and redress. He blundered occasionally like other men, and
sometimes even hesitated strangely to give effect to his convictions,
and therefore it would be idle as well as absurd to attempt to make out
that he was consistent, much less infallible. The Radicals a little
later complained that he talked of finality in reform, and supported the
coercive measures of Stanley in Ireland, and opposed Hume in his efforts
to secure the abolition of naval and military sinecures. He declined to
support a proposed investigation of the pension list. He set his face
against Tennyson's scheme for shortening the duration of Parliaments,
and Grote had to reckon with his hostility to the adoption of the
ballot. But in spite of it all, he was still, in Sydney Smith's happy
phrase, to all intents and purposes 'Lord John Reformer.' No one doubted
his honesty or challenged his motives. The compass by which Russell
steered his course through political life might tremble, but men felt
that it remained true.


Ireland drew forth his sympathies, but he failed to see any way out of
the difficulty. 'I wish I knew what to do to help your country,' were
his words to Moore, 'but, as I do not, it is of no use giving her smooth
words, as O'Connell told me, and I must be silent.' It was not in his
nature, however, to sit still with folded hands. He held his peace, but
quietly crossed the Channel to study the problem on the spot. It was his
first visit to the distressful country for many years, and he wished
Moore to accompany him as guide, philosopher, and friend. He assured the
poet that he would allow him to be as patriotic as he pleased about 'the
first flower of the earth and first 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
Encyclopædia'--an enterprise 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. Afterwards he proceeded
to Waterford to visit Lord Ebrington, his colleague in the
representation of Devonshire. He next found his way to Cork and
Killarney, and he wrote again to Moore urging him to 'hang Dr. Lardner
on his tree of knowledge,' and to join him at the eleventh hour. Moore
must have been in somewhat reduced circumstances at the moment--for he
was a luxurious, pleasure-loving man, who never required much persuasion
to throw down his work--since such an appeal availed nothing. Meanwhile
Lord John had carried Lord Ebrington back to Dublin, and they went
together to the North of Ireland. The visit to Belfast attracted
considerable attention; Lord John's services over the Reform Bill were
of course fresh in the public mind, and he was entertained in orthodox
fashion at a public dinner. This short tour in 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 when the late
autumn compelled the Whig Cabinet to throw everything else aside in
order to devise if possible some measure of relief for Ireland. Stanley
was Chief Secretary, and, though one of the most 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 conciliation.
O'Connell opposed his policy in scathing terms, and attacked him
personally with bitter invective, and in the end there was open war
between the two men.

  [Sidenote: POOR LAW REFORM]

Lord Grey, now that Parliamentary Reform had been conceded, was
developing into an easy-going aristocratic Whig of somewhat contracted
sympathies, and Stanley, though still in the Cabinet, was apparently
determined to administer the affairs of Ireland on the most approved
Tory principles. Althorp, Russell, and Duncannon were men whose
sympathies leaned more or less decidedly in 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, in ill health and chagrin, and irritated by the
stationary, if not reactionary, attitude of certain members of the Grey
Administration, resigned office in the spring of 1833. Goderich became
Privy Seal, and this enabled Stanley to exchange the Irish Secretaryship
for that of the Colonies. He had driven Ireland to the verge of revolt,
but he had nevertheless made an honest attempt to grapple with many
practical evils, and his Education Bill was a piece of constructive
statesmanship which placed Roman Catholics on an equality with
Protestants. Early in the session of 1834 Althorp introduced the Poor
Law Amendment Act, and the measure was passed in July. The changes which
it brought about were startling, for its enactments were drastic. This
great economic measure came to the relief of a nation in which 'one
person in every seven was a pauper.' The new law limited relief to
destitution, prohibited out-door help to the able-bodied, beyond medical
aid, instituted tests to detect imposture, confederated parishes into
unions, and substituted large district workhouses for merely local
shelters for the destitute. In five years the poor rate was reduced by
three millions, and the population, set free 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 extinguishing 'all just causes of
complaint without injury to the rights and property of any class of
subjects or to any institution in Church or State.' Mr. Littleton
(afterwards Lord Hatherton), who had succeeded Stanley as Irish
Secretary accordingly introduced a new Tithe Bill, the object of which
was to change the tithe first into a rent-charge payable by the
landlord, and eventually into land tax. The measure also 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. On the second reading of the bill, Lord
John frankly avowed the faith that was in him, a circumstance which led
to unexpected results. He declared that, as he understood it, the aim of
the bill was to determine and secure the amount of the tithe. The
question of appropriation was to be kept entirely distinct. If the
object of the bill was to grant a certain sum to the Established Church
of Ireland, and the question was to end there, his opinion of it might
be different. But he understood it to be a bill to secure a certain
amount of property and revenue destined by the State to religious and
charitable purposes, and if the State should find that it was not
appropriated justly to the purposes of religious and moral instruction,
it would then be the duty of Parliament to consider the necessity of a
different appropriation. His opinion was that the revenues of the Church
of Ireland were larger than necessary for the religious and moral
instruction of the persons belonging to that Church, and for the
stability of the Church itself.

Lord John did not think it would be advisable or wise to mix the
question of appropriation with the question of amount of the revenues;
but when Parliament had vindicated the property in tithes, he should
then be prepared to assert his opinion with regard to their
appropriation. If, when the revenue was once secured, the assertion of
that opinion should lead him to differ and separate from those with 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 and sacrifice, do what he should consider his bounden
duty--namely, do justice to Ireland.


He afterwards explained that this speech, which produced 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. Lord John accordingly struck from his own bat, amid the
cheers of the Radicals. Stanley expressed to Sir James Graham his view
of the situation in the now familiar phrase, 'Johnny has upset the
coach.' The truth 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 was urged by some
of his colleagues to explain away what he had said, but he had made up
his mind and was in no 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. The independent
member, in the person of Mr. Ward, who sat for St. Albans, promptly took
advantage of Russell's speech to bring forward a motion to the effect
that the Church in Ireland 'exceeds the wants of the population, 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; but Stanley felt that his position in the Cabinet was now
untenable, and therefore retired 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 their wildest dreams, for he had exorcised the evil spirits
of the Grey Administration.

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. Another course was, however, taken, for
the 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 Government was lost. The result was, the
Government was weakened, and no one was satisfied. 'Whigs, Tories, and
Radicals,' wrote Greville, 'join in full cry against them, and the
"Times," in a succession of bitter vituperative articles very well done,
fires off its contempt and disgust at the paltry patching-up of the

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. 'Nature,' he
exclaimed, 'intended me to be a grazier; but men will insist on making
me a statesman.' He confided to Lord John that he detested office to
such an extent that he 'wished himself dead' every morning when he
awoke. Meanwhile vested interests here, there, and everywhere, were
uniting their forces against the Ministry, and its sins of omission as
well as of commission were leaping to light on the platform and in the
Press. Wellington found his reputation for political sagacity agreeably
recognised, and he fell into the attitude of an oracle whose jeremiads
had come true. When Lord Grey proposed the renewal of the Coercion Act
without alteration, Lord Althorp expressed a strong objection to such a
proceeding. He had assured Littleton that the Act would not be put in
force again in its entirety, and the latter, with more candour than
discretion, had communicated the intimation to O'Connell, who bruited it


Lord John had come to definite convictions about Ireland, 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 to the changes which had been introduced into
the measure--slight concessions to public opinion which Lord John felt
were too paltry to meet the gravity of the case. 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 John of asserting that the
Irish Church was the greatest grievance of which the nation had ever had
to complain. The latter repudiated such a charge, and explained that
what he had said was that the revenues of the Church were too great for
its stability, thereby implying that he both desired and contemplated
its continued existence. Although not unwilling to support a mild
Coercion Bill, if it went hand in hand with a determined effort to deal
with abuses, he made it clear that repressive enactments without such an
effort at Reform were altogether repugnant to his sense of justice. He
declared that Coercion Acts were 'peculiarly abhorrent to those who
pride themselves on the name of Whigs;' and he added that, when such a
necessity arose, Ministers were confronted with the duty of looking
'deeper into the causes of the long-standing and permanent evils' of
Ireland. I am not prepared to continue the government of Ireland
without fully probing her condition; I am not prepared to propose bills
for coercion, and the maintenance of a large force of military and
police, without endeavouring to improve, so far as lies in my power, the
condition of the people. I will not be a Minister to carry on systems
which I think founded on bigotry and prejudice. Be the consequence what
it may, I 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 mansions for a great, free, and intelligent people.' Such
a speech was worthy of Fox, and it recalls a passage in Lord John's
biography of that illustrious statesman. Fox did his best in the teeth
of prejudice and obloquy to free Ireland from the thraldom which
centuries of oppression had created: 'In 1780, in 1793, and in 1829,
that which had been denied to reason was granted to force. Ireland
triumphed, not because the justice of her claims was apparent, but
because the threat of insurrection overcame prejudice, made fear
superior to bigotry, and concession triumphant over persecution.'[9]

  [Sidenote: CROSS CURRENTS]

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 House of Commons. In answer to a letter of
congratulation, he said that his friends would make him, by their
encouragement--what he felt he was not by nature--a good speaker. 'There
are occasions,' he added, 'on which one must express one's feelings or
sink into contempt. I own I have not been easy during the period in
which I thought it 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
characteristic of the man. A day or two later the 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 annoyance of Grey, he insisted on
taking the world into his confidence from his place in Parliament. This
was the last straw. 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 its wheels were rotten. On the evening of June 29 a meeting of
the Cabinet was held, and, in Russell's words, 'Lord Grey placed before
us the letters containing his own resignation and that of Lord Althorp,
which he had sent early in the morning to the King. He likewise laid
before us the King's gracious acceptance of his resignation, and he gave
to Lord Melbourne a sealed letter from his Majesty. Lord Melbourne, upon
opening this letter, found in it an invitation to him to undertake the
formation of a Government. Seeing that nothing was to be done that
night, I left the Cabinet and went to the Opera.'

Lord Melbourne was sent for in July, and took his place at the head of a
Cabinet which remained practically unaltered. He had been Home Secretary
under Grey, and Duncannon was now called to fill that post. The first
Melbourne Administration was short-lived, for when it had existed four
months Earl Spencer died, and Althorp, on his succession to the peerage,
was compelled to relinquish his leadership of the House of Commons.
William IV. cared little for 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 an earldom
to retire from official life, Melbourne refused to believe that the
heavens would fall because of that fact.

There was no pressing conflict of opinion between the King and his
advisers, but William IV. nevertheless availed himself of the accident
of Althorp's elevation to the peerage to dismiss the Ministry. The
reversion of the leadership in the Commons fell naturally to Lord John,
and Melbourne was quick to recognise the fact. 'Thus invited,' says Lord
John Russell, 'I considered it my duty to accept the task, though I told
Lord Melbourne that I could not expect to have the same influence with
the House of Commons which Lord Althorp had possessed. In conversation
with Mr. Abercromby I said, more in joke than in earnest, that if I were
offered the command of the Channel Fleet, and thought it my duty to
accept, I should not refuse it.' It was unlike Sydney Smith to treat the
remark about taking command of the Channel Fleet seriously, when 'he
elaborated a charge' against Lord John on the Deans and Chapters
question; but even the witty Canon could lose his temper sometimes.


The King, however, had strong opinions on the subject of Lord John's
qualifications, and he expressed in emphatic terms his disapproval. The
nation trusted Lord John, and had come to definite and flattering
conclusions about him as a statesman, but at Windsor a different opinion
prevailed. The King, in fact, made no secret to Lord Melbourne, in the
famous interview at Brighton, of his conviction that Lord John Russell
had neither the ability nor the influence to qualify him for the task;
and he added that he would 'make a wretched figure' when opposed in the
Commons by men like Peel and Stanley. His Majesty further volunteered
the remark that he did not 'understand that young gentleman,' and could
not agree to the arrangement 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 to have pledged himself to certain encroachments on the Church,
which his Majesty had made up his mind and expressed his determination
to resist.' As Russell was clearly quite out of the reckoning, Melbourne
suggested two other names. But the King had made up his mind on more
subjects than one, and next morning, Lord Melbourne found himself in
possession of a written paper, which informed him his Majesty had no
further occasion either for his services or for those of his colleagues.

William IV. acted within his constitutional rights, but such an exercise
of the royal prerogative was, to say the least, worthy of George III. in
his most uninspired mood. Althorp regarded the King's action as the
'greatest piece of folly ever committed,' and Lord John, in reply to the
friendly note which contained this emphatic verdict, summoned his
philosophy to his aid in the following characteristic rejoinder: 'I
suppose everything is for the best in this world; otherwise the only
good which I should see in this event would be that it 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 new Government.

Sir Robert Peel was accordingly sent for in hot haste from Rome to form
a new Ministry. On his arrival in London in December 1834, he at once
set about the formation of a Cabinet. This is Jekyll's comment: 'Our
crisis has been entertaining, and Peel is expected to-day. I wish he
could have remained long enough at 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 squall
out, "Let us depart, for the Reformers grow too impatient." The Tories
squall out, "Let us come in, and we will be very good boys, and become
Reformers ourselves." However, the country is safe by the Reform Bill,
for no Minister can remain in office 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 it might be lasting. Lord John was returned again for South
Devon; but on the reassembling of Parliament the Liberal majority had
dwindled from 314 to 107. It was during his election tour that he
delivered an address at Totnes, which Greville described as not merely
'a very masterly performance,' but 'one of the cleverest and most
appropriate speeches' he had ever read, and for which his friends
warmly complimented him. It 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 instrumentality.


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, I think,
you will find it quite impossible to restrain.' The Duke of Bedford's
fears were not groundless, and Lord John afterwards confessed that, in
the whole period during which he had led the Liberal party in the House
of Commons, he never had so difficult a task. The forces under his
command consisted of a few stalwart Radicals, a number of Whigs of the
traditional and somewhat stationary type, and some sixty Irish members.
Nevertheless, he promptly assumed an aggressive attitude, and his first
victory as leader of the Opposition was won on the question of the
choice of a new Speaker, when Mr. Abercromby was placed in the chair in
preference to the Ministerial candidate. As the session went on, Lord
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 Opposition 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
Whigs, was in fact imperative. 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 prove a decisive victory. His expectations were not
disappointed, 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 majority of twenty-seven
votes (285 to 258). Sir Robert Peel forthwith resigned, and the Whigs
were avenged for their cavalier dismissal by the King.

On the day after the Prime Minister's resignation, Lord John Russell was
married--April 11, 1835, at St. George's, Hanover Square--to Adelaide,
Lady Ribblesdale, the widow of the second bearer of that title. The
respite from political strife was of short duration, for at the end of
forty-eight hours he was summoned from Woburn to take the seals of the
Home Office in the second Melbourne Administration. The members of the
new Cabinet presented themselves to their constituents for re-election,
and Lord John suffered defeat in Devonshire. A seat was, however, found
for him at Stroud, and in May he was back again in the House of Commons.
The first measure of importance introduced by him, on June 5, was the
Municipal Reform Act--a measure which embodied the results of the
Commission on the subject appointed by Lord Grey. The bill swept away a
host of antiquated and absurd privileges of corporate cities and towns,
abolished the authority of cliques of freemen, rectified a variety of
abuses, and entrusted municipal government to the hands of all
taxpayers. Lord John piloted the measure through the Commons, and fought
almost single-handed the representatives of vested rights. After a long
contest with the Opposition and the Lords, he had the satisfaction of
passing the bill, in a somewhat modified form, through its final stages
in September, though the Peers, as usual, opposed it as long as they
dared, and only yielded at last when Peel in the one House and
Wellington in the other recommended concession.


The Irish Tithes Bill was subsequently introduced, and, though it now
included the clauses for the appropriation of certain revenues, it
passed the Commons by a majority of thirty-seven. The Lords, however,
struck out the appropriation clauses, and the Government in consequence
abandoned the measure. The Irish Municipal Bill 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, in spite of the
dismal predictions of William IV. and the admonitions of paternal
solicitude, was now recognised by 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 West of
England, and, though he had been so recently 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 at
Bristol, and presented with a handsome testimonial, raised by the
sixpences of ardent Reformers.

Parliament, in the Speech from the Throne, when the session of 1836
began, 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. It was proposed to deal
with the antiquated and vexatious manner in which from time immemorial
the tithes of the English Church had been collected. The question of
Irish tithes was also once more to be brought forward for solution; the
municipal corporations of Ireland and the relief of its 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 Chancery,' were
foreshadowed, and it 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.' Such a list of measures bore on its very face the unmistakeable
stamp of Lord John Russell's zeal for political redress and religious
toleration. Early in the session he brought forward two measures for the
relief of Nonconformists. One of them legalised marriages in the
presence of a registrar in Nonconformist places of worship, and the
other provided for a general civil registration of births, marriages,
and deaths. His original proposal was that marriage in church as well as
chapel should only take place after due notice had been given to the
registrar. The bishops refused to entertain such an idea, and the 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--one for equalising the incomes of prelates, rearranging
ancient dioceses and creating new sees; another for the better
application of the revenues of the Church to its general purposes; and a
third to diminish pluralities--bore witness to his ardour for
ecclesiastical reform. The first became law in 1836, and the other two
respectively in 1838 and 1839. He lent his aid also to the movement for
the foundation on a broad and liberal basis of a new university in
London with power to confer degrees--a concession to Nonconformist
scholarship and liberal culture generally, which was the more
appreciated since Oxford and Cambridge still jealously excluded by their
religious tests the youth of the Free Churches.

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. In the opinion of Lord Farnborough, to
no measure since the Reformation has the Church owed so much peace and
security. The Irish Municipal Bill 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. This measure was introduced for the fifth
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 especially in
the treatment of juvenile offenders. By his directions prisoners in
Newgate, from metropolitan counties, were transferred to the gaol of
each county. Following in the steps of Sir 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 House of Commons
was reduced to less than forty. Lord John was again returned for Stroud,
and on that occasion he delivered a speech in 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 reigns. Those of Elizabeth and Anne led us to great victories.
Let us now hope that we are going to have a female reign illustrious in
its deeds of peace--an Elizabeth without her tyranny, an Anne without
her weakness.... I trust that we may succeed in making the reign of
Victoria celebrated among the nations of the earth and to all posterity,
and that England may not forget her precedence of teaching the nations
how to live.'


Lord Melbourne had never been a favourite with William, but from the
first 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, and
her knowledge of public affairs was, of necessity, small. Lord Melbourne
at that time was approaching sixty, 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, and under his easy
nonchalance there lurked more earnest and patriotic conviction than he
ever cared to admit. 'I am sorry to hurt any man's feelings,' said
Sydney Smith, 'and to brush aside the magnificent fabric of levity and
gaiety he has reared; but I accuse our Minister of honesty and
diligence.' Ridiculous rumours filled the air during the earliest years
of her Majesty's reign concerning the supposed undue influence which
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 Tories also
grumbled, and made no secret of the same ungenerous suspicions. They
knew neither her Majesty nor Lord Melbourne who thus spoke. At the same
time, it must be admitted that Lord Melbourne was becoming more and more
out of touch with popular aspirations, and the political and social
questions which were rapidly coming to the front were treated by him in
a somewhat cavalier manner.

Russell had his own misgivings, and was by no means inclined to lay too
much stress on the opinions of philosophical Radicals of the type of
Grote. At the same time, 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 I think would be more acceptable
than any others to this body--the one to make the ballot an open
question, the other to remove Tories from the political command of the
army.' Lord Melbourne, however, believed that the ballot would create
many evils and cure none. Lord John yielded to his chief, but in doing
so brought upon himself a good deal of angry criticism, which was
intensified by an unadvised declaration in the House of Commons. In his
speech on the Address he referred to the question of Reform, and
declared that it was quite impossible for him to take part in 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. A storm of expostulation and angry
protest broke out; but the advanced Reformers failed to move Lord John
from the position which he had taken. So they concentrated their
hostility in a harmless nickname, and Lord John for some time forward
was called in Radical circles and certain journalistic publications,
'Finality Jack.' This honest but superfluous and embarrassing
deliverance brought him taunts and reproaches, as well as a temporary
loss of popularity. It was always characteristic of Lord John to speak
his mind, and he sometimes did it not wisely but too well. Grote wrote
in February 1838: 'The degeneracy of the Liberal party, and their
passive acquiescence in everything, good or bad, which emanates from the
present Ministry, puts the accomplishment of any political good out of
the question; and it is not worth while to undergo the fatigue of a
nightly attendance in Parliament for the simple purpose of sustaining
Whig Conservatism against Tory Conservatism. I now look back wistfully
to my unfinished Greek history.' Yet Lord Brougham, in the year of the
Queen's accession, declared that Russell was the 'stoutest Reformer of
them all.'


The rebellion in Canada was the first great incident in the new reign,
and the Melbourne Cabinet met the crisis by proposals--which were moved
by Lord John in the Commons, and adopted--for suspending the Canadian
Constitution for the space of four years. The Earl of Durham, at the
beginning of 1838, was appointed Governor-General with extraordinary
powers, and he reluctantly accepted the difficult post, trusting, as 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 history of Canada, the
greatness and far-reaching nature of his services, both to the Crown and
to the Dominion. Relying on the forbearance and support, in the faith of
which 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. Speaking on the Durham Indemnity Bill, Lord John
said: 'I ask you to pass this Bill of Indemnity, telling you that I
shall be prepared when the time comes, not indeed to say that the terms
or words of the ordinances passed by the Earl of Durham are altogether
to be justified, but that, looking at his conduct as a whole, I shall be
ready to take part with him. I shall be ready to bear my share of any
responsibility which is to be incurred in these difficult
circumstances.' The generous nature of this declaration was everywhere
recognised, and by none more heartily than Lord Durham. 'I do not
conceal from you that my feelings have been deeply wounded by the
conduct of the Ministry. From you, however, and you alone of them all,
have I received any cordial support personally; and I feel, as I have
told you in a former letter, very grateful to you.'

Meanwhile Lord John Russell had been called upon to oppose Mr. Grote's
motion in favour of the ballot. Although the motion was lost by 315 to
198 votes, the result was peculiarly galling to Lord John, for amongst
the majority were those members who were usually opposed to the
Government, whilst the minority was made up of Lord Melbourne's
followers. But the crisis threatening the Ministry passed away when a
motion of want of confidence in Lord Glenelg, the head of the Colonial
Office, was defeated by twenty-nine votes. The Irish legislation of the
Government as represented by the Tithe Bill did not prosper, and it
became evident that, in order to pass the measure, the Appropriation
Clause must be abandoned. Although Lord John Russell emphatically
declared in 1835 that no Tithe Bill could be effective which did not
include an Appropriation Clause, he gave way to the claims of political
expediency, and further alienated the Radicals by allowing a measure
which had been robbed of its potency to pass through Parliament. Lord
Melbourne's Government accomplished during the session something in the
direction of Irish Reform by the passage of the Poor Law, but it failed
to carry the Municipal Bill, which in many respects was the most
important of the three.

The autumn, which witnessed on both sides of the Atlantic the excitement
over Lord Durham's mission to Canada, was darkened in the home of Lord
John by the death at Brighton, on November 1, of his wife. His first
impulse was to place the resignation of his office and of leadership in
the Commons in the hands of his chief. Urgent appeals from all quarters
were made to him to remain at his post, and, though his own health was
precarious, cheered by the sympathy of his colleagues and of the
country, he resumed his work after a few weeks of quiet at Cassiobury.


[9] Russell's _Life of Fox_, vol. i. p. 242.




     Lord John's position in the Cabinet and in the Commons--His
     services to Education--Joseph Lancaster--Lord John's Colonial
     Policy--Mr. Gladstone's opinion--Lord Stanmore's recollections--The
     mistakes of the 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.

THE truth was, Lord John could not be spared, and his strong sense of
duty triumphed over his personal grief. One shrewd contemporary observer
of men and movements declared that Melbourne and Russell were the only
two men in the Cabinet for whom the country cared a straw. The opinion
of the man in the street was summed up in Sydney Smith's assertion that
the Melbourne Government could not possibly exist without Lord John, for
the simple reason that five minutes after his departure it would be
dissolved into 'sparks of liberality and splinters of reform.' In 1839
the Irish policy of the Government was challenged, and, on the motion of
Lord Roden, a vote of censure was carried in the House of Lords. When
the matter came before the Commons, Lord John delivered a speech so
adroit and so skilful that friends and foes alike were satisfied, and
even pronounced Radicals forgot to grumble.

Lord John's speech averted a Ministerial crisis, and on a division the
Government won by twenty-two votes. A month later the affairs of 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 Parliament to
suspend the Constitution of the colony for a period of five years; and
on a division they gained their point by a majority of only five votes.
The Jamaica Bill was an autocratic measure, which served still further
to discredit Lord Melbourne with the party of progress. Chagrined at the
narrow majority, the Cabinet submitted its resignation to her Majesty,
who assured Lord John that she had 'never felt more pain' than when she
learnt the decision of her Ministers. The Queen sent first for
Wellington, and afterwards, at his suggestion, for Peel, who undertook
to 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

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_l._ a year to
30,000_l._--first made in 1833--and to place it under the control of the
Privy Council, as well as to subject the aided schools to inspection. 'I
explained,' was his own statement, 'in the simplest terms, without any
exaggeration, the want of education in the country, 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 establishment
of a Normal school, were met with a storm of opposition. This part of
the scheme was therefore abandoned; 'but the throwing out of one of our
children to the wolf,' remarks Lord John, 'did little to appease his
fury!' At length the measure, in its modified shape, was carried in the
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, Bishop of London, at this juncture came
forward as peacemaker, and, at a private meeting at Lansdowne House,
consisting of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of London and
Salisbury, Lord Lansdowne, and Lord John Russell, the dispute was
amicably adjusted, on the basis of 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 and the Committee in the
work of education.


The Duke of Bedford was one of the first men of position in the country
to come to the aid of Joseph Lancaster--a young Quaker philanthropist,
who, in spite of poverty and obscurity, did more for the cause of
popular education in England in the early years of the century than all
the privileged people in the country.[10] Here a floating straw of
reminiscence may be cited, since it throws momentary light on the
mischievous instincts of a quick-witted boy. Lord John, looking back
towards the close of his life, said: 'One of my earliest recollections
as a boy at Woburn Abbey is that of putting on Joseph Lancaster's broad
hat and mimicking his mode of salutation.'

Other changes were imminent. Lord Normanby had 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 St. George's
Channel in an official capacity. He was now Colonial Secretary; and, in
spite of his virtues, he was scarcely the man for such a position--at
all events, at a crisis in which affairs required firm handling. He
managed matters so badly that the Under-Secretary (Mr. Labouchere,
afterwards Lord Taunton) was in open revolt. The cards were accordingly
shuffled in May 1839, and, amongst other and less significant changes,
Normanby and Russell changed places. Lord John quickly made his presence
felt at the Colonial Office. He was a patient listener to the permanent
officials; indeed, he declared that he meant to give six months to
making himself master of the new duties of his position. Like all 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 significant, and it seems well to
quote them, since they gather up the policy which he consistently
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. To build up an empire extending over every sea,
swaying many diverse races, and combining many forms of religion,
requires courage and capacity; to allow such an empire to fall to pieces
is a task which may be performed by the poor in intellect, and the
pusillanimous in conduct.'


When Lord John was once asked at the Colonial Office by an official of
the French Government how much of Australia was claimed as the dominion
of Great Britain, he promptly answered, 'The whole.' The visitor, quite
taken aback, found it 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. During his tenure of office New Zealand became part of
the British dominions. By the treaty of Waitangi, the Queen assumed the
sovereignty, and the new colony was assured of the protection of
England. Lord John assured the British Provinces of North America that,
so long as they wished to remain subjects of the Queen, they might
confidently rely on the protection of England in all emergencies.

Mr. Gladstone has in recent years done justice to the remarkable
prescience, and scarcely less remarkable administrative skill, which
Lord John brought to bear at a critical juncture in the conduct of the
Colonial policy of the Melbourne Government. He lays stress on the
'unfaltering courage' which Russell displayed in meeting, as far as was
then possible, the legitimate demand for responsible self-government. It
is not, therefore, surprising that, to borrow Mr. Gladstone's words,
'Lord John Russell substituted harmony for antagonism in the daily
conduct of affairs for those Colonies, each of which, in an infancy of
irrepressible vigour, was bursting its swaddling clothes. Is it
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 embarrassment and much discredit.'[11]
Lord John was a man of vision. He saw, beyond most of his
contemporaries, the coming magnitude of the Empire, and he did his best
to shape on broad lines and to far-reaching issues the policy of England
towards her children beyond the seas. Lord John recognised in no
churlish or half-hearted spirit 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 conquered
and peopled Canada, we took possession of the whole of Australia, Van
Dieman's Land, and New Zealand. We have annexed India to the Crown.
There is no going back. For my part, I delight in observing the
imitation of our free institutions, and even our habits and manners, in
colonies at a distance from the Palace of Westminster.' He trusted the
Colonies, and refused to believe that all the wisdom which was
profitable to direct their affairs was centred in Downing Street. His
attitude was sympathetic and generous, and at the same time it was
candid and firm.

Lord Stanmore's recollections of his father's colleague go back to this
period, and will be read with interest: 'As a boy of ten or twelve I
often saw Lord John. His half-sister, 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 I almost wholly
lived. My first conscious remembrance of Lord John dates from the summer
of 1839, and in that and the following years I often saw him at the
Priory. Towards the close of 1839 Lord John lost his first wife, and the
picture of his little figure, in deep mourning, walking by the side of
my father on the gravel walks about the house in the spring and summer
of 1840 is one vividly impressed on my recollection. His manner to
children was not unpleasant, and I well remember his pausing, an amused
listener to a childish and vehement political discussion between his
step-daughter, Miss Lister, and myself--a discussion which he from time
to time stirred up to increased animation by playfully mischievous


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 James Graham accused
Lord John of encouraging sedition by appointing as magistrate one of the
leaders of the Chartist agitation at Newport. Lord John, it turned out,
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 hostile to
each other, and in 1839 the war had been pushed to such extremities that
Great Britain, Austria, Russia, and Prussia entered into a compact to
bring about--by compulsion if necessary--a cessation of hostilities.
Lord Holland and Lord Clarendon objected to England's share in the
Treaty of July 1840, but Lord Palmerston compelled the Cabinet to
acquiesce by a threat of resignation, and Lord John, at this crisis,
showed that he was strongly in favour of his colleague's policy. The
matter, however, was by no means settled, for once more a grave division
of opinion in the party arose as to the wisdom of practically throwing
away our alliance with France. Althorp--now Lord Spencer--reminded his
former colleagues that that nation was most fitted to be our ally of any
in Europe, on the threefold ground of situation, institutions, and

Lord John drew up a memorandum and submitted it to his colleagues, in
which he recognised the rights of France, and proposed to summon her,
under given conditions, to take measures with the other Powers to
preserve the peace of Europe. The personal ascendency of Lord Palmerston
on questions of foreign policy was, however, already so marked that Lord
Melbourne--now his brother-in-law, was reluctant to insist on
moderation. Lord John, however, stood firm, and the breaking up of the
Government seemed inevitable. During the crisis which followed, Lord
Palmerston, striking, as was 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 now informed Lord Melbourne in a letter
dated November 1, 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 of Commons measures which he thought
wrong. Lord Melbourne promptly recognised that Russell was the only
possible leader in the Commons, and he induced Lord Palmerston to admit
his mistake over the despatch to Metternich, and in this way the
misunderstanding was brought to an end. Meanwhile, the fortunes of the
war in the East turned against Ibrahim Pasha, and Palmerston's policy,
though not his manner of carrying it out, was justified.


The closing years of the Melbourne Administration were marked not only
by divided counsels, but by actual blunders of policy, and in this
connection it is perhaps enough to cite the Opium war against China and
the foolhardy invasion of Afghanistan. At home the question of Free
Trade was coming rapidly to the front, and the Anti-corn Law League,
which was founded in Manchester in 1838, was already beginning to prove
itself a power in the land. As far back as 1826, Hume had taken up his
parable in Parliament against the Corn Laws as a blight on the trade of
the country; and two years after the Reform Bill was passed he had
returned to the attack, only to find, however, that the nation was still
wedded to Protection. Afterwards, year after year, Mr. 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 by the
industry, the intelligence, and the commerce of the nation, and at
length, in a half-hearted fashion, the Government found itself
compelled, if it was to exist at all, to make some attempt to deal with
the problem. Lord Melbourne, and some at least of his colleagues, 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 inevitable, and the
Cabinet determined to propose a fixed duty of eight shillings per
quarter on wheat, and to reduce the duty on sugar. Lord John opened the
debate on the latter proposal in a speech which moved even Greville to
enthusiasm; but neither his arguments nor his eloquence produced the
desired impression on the House, for the Government was defeated by
thirty-six votes. Everyone expected the Ministry at once to face the
question of dissolution or resignation; but Melbourne was determined to
cling to office as long as possible, in spite of the growing
difficulties and even humiliations of his position. On June 4, the day
on which Lord John was to bring forward his proposal for a fixed duty on
wheat, Sir Robert Peel carried a vote of want of confidence by a
majority of one, and, as an appeal to the country was at length
inevitable, Parliament was dissolved a few days later. The Melbourne
Ministry had outstayed its welcome. The manner in which it had left Lord
Durham in the lurch over his ill-advised ordinances had aroused
widespread indignation, for the multitude at least could not forget the
greatness of his services to the cause of Reform. If the dissolution had
come two or three years earlier, the Government might have gone to the
country without fear; but in 1841, both at home and abroad, their
blunders and their vacillation had alienated confidence, and it was not
difficult to forecast the result. The General Election brought Lord John
a personal triumph. 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; and during the political vicissitudes of the next eighteen
years London was faithful to him.

Lord John Russell was essentially a home-loving man, and the gloom which
bereavement had cast over his life in the autumn of 1839 was at best
only partially dispelled by the close and sympathetic relations with his
family. It was, therefore, with satisfaction that all his friends, both
on his own account and that of his motherless young children, heard of
his approaching second marriage. Immediately after the election for the
City, Lord John was married to Lady Fanny Elliot, second daughter of the
Earl of Minto, a union which brought him lasting happiness.

  [Sidenote: 'A HOST IN HIMSELF']

Parliament met in the middle of August, and the Government were defeated
on the Address by a majority of ninety-one, and on August 28 Lord John
found himself once more out of harness. In his speech in the House of
Commons announcing the resignation of the Government, he said that the
Whigs under Lord Grey had begun with the Reform Act, and that they were
closing their tenure of power by proposals for the relief of commerce.
The truth was, the Melbourne Administration had not risen to its
opportunities. 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 unexpected political
combinations and new political opportunities, and the years of conflict
which were dawning were also to bring more clearly into view Lord John
Russell's claims to the Liberal leadership. 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 Hyde
Park, and the talk turned on the political situation. Rogers remarked,
'What a powerful band Lord John Russell will have to contend with!
There's Peel, Lord Stanley, Sir James Graham----;' and the Duke
interrupted him at this point with the laconic reply, 'Lord John Russell
is a host in himself.'

Protection had triumphed at the General Election, and Sir Robert Peel
came to power as champion of the Corn Laws. The Whigs had fallen between
two stools, for the country was not in a humour to tolerate vacillation.
The Melbourne Cabinet had, in truth, in the years which had witnessed
its decline and fall, spoken with the voice of Jacob, but stretched
forth 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. 'I don't thank a man for
supporting me when he thinks me right,' was the cynical confession of a
statesman of an earlier generation; 'my gratitude is with the 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 most part, rather disgusted with the turn which affairs had taken,
and the polling booths made it plain that he thought the Prime Minister
wrong, and, that being the case, he was not obliging enough to return
him to power. The big drum had been successfully beaten, moreover, at
the General Election by the defenders of all sorts and sizes of vested
interests, sinecures, monopolies, and the like, and Sir 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 Secretary for the Colonies.

The annals of the Peel Administration of course lie outside the province
of this 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--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 of at the time with scarcely disguised
contempt as a man of tried inefficiency, became President of the Board
of Trade. Sir James Graham, a statesman who was becoming somewhat
impervious to new ideas, and who as a Minister displayed little tact in
regard to either movements or men, was appointed Home Secretary.
Stanley, who had proved himself to be a strong man in the wrong camp,
and therefore the evil genius of his party, now carried his
unquestionable skill, and his brilliant powers of debate, as well as his
imperious temper and contracted views, to the service of the Tories. One
other man held a prominent place in Peel's Cabinet, and proved a tower
of strength in it--Lord Aberdeen, who was Secretary for Foreign Affairs,
and who did much to maintain the peace of Europe when the Tahiti
incident and the Spanish marriages threatened embroilment. Lord
Aberdeen, from 1841 to 1846, guided the foreign policy of England with
ability and discretion, and, as a matter of fact, steered the nation
through diplomatic quarrels which, if Lord Palmerston had been at the
Foreign Office, would probably have ended in 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 'out of joint,' and this
threw party Government out of joint and raised issues which confused
ordinary minds. The old political catchwords 'Peace, retrenchment, and
reform,' no longer awoke enthusiasm. Civil and religious liberty were
all very well in their way, but they naturally failed to satisfy men and
women who were ground down by economic oppression, and were famished
through lack of bread. The social condition of England was deplorable,
for, though the Reform Bill had brought in its wake measures of relief
for the middle classes, it had left the artisans and the peasants almost
where it found them. In spite of 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
menacing shadow over the fair promise of the opening years of the young
Queen's reign. The historians of the period are responsible for the
statement that in Manchester, for example, one-tenth of the population
lived in cellars; even in the rural districts, the overcrowding, with
all its attending horrors in the direction of disease and vice, was
scarcely less terrible, for in one parish in Dorset thirty-six persons
dwelt, on an average, in each house. The wonder is, not that the
Anti-Corn Law League under such circumstances grew strong and the demand
for the People's Charter rang through the land, but that the masses in
town and country alike bore the harsh servitude of their lot with the
patience that was common, and with the heroism that was not rare.

  [Sidenote: PEEL'S OPEN MIND]

Lord John Russell never refused to admit the ability of Peel's
Administration. He described it 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. In his 'Recollections' he lays
stress 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
of the Roman Catholics, who, in Lord John's words, 'obstinately 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, without 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 courageous enough to follow what he believed to be
right, with unpolitical but patriotic scorn of consequence. Men with
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 vision which imposed on courage great and difficult tasks
of statesmanship. He could educate himself--for he kept an open
mind--and was swift to seize and to interpret great issues in the
affairs of the nation; but it 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. The French
Revolution overthrew this arrangement, and in 1795, by an Act of the
Irish Parliament, Maynooth College was founded, and was supported by
annual grants, which were continued, though not without much
opposition, by the Imperial Parliament after the Union. On April 3, Sir
Robert Peel brought forward 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_l._ to upwards of
26,000_l._, that a charter of incorporation should be given, and that
the trustees should be allowed to hold land to the value of 3,000_l._ a
year. He also proposed that the new endowment should be a charge upon
the Consolidated Fund, so that angry discussions of the kind in which
bigotry and prejudice delight might be avoided. Moreover, in order to
restore and enlarge the college buildings, Sir Robert finally proposed
an immediate and separate grant of 30,000_l._ Few statesmen were more
sensitive than Peel, but, convinced 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 man to falter, although his party was in revolt. He had
gauged the forces which were arrayed in Ireland against the authority of
Parliament; he stated in his final words on the subject that there was
in that country a formidable confederacy, which was prepared to go any
lengths against a hard interpretation of the supremacy of England. 'I do
not believe that you can break it up by force; I believe you can do much
by acting in a spirit of kindness, forbearance, and generosity.' At once
a great storm of opposition arose in Parliament, on the platform, and in
the Press. The Carlton Club found itself brought into sudden and
unexpected agreement with many a little Bethel up and down the country,
for the champions of 'No Surrender' in Pall Mall were of one mind with
those of 'No Popery' in Exeter Hall. Society for the moment, according
to Harriet Martineau, seemed to be going mad, and she saw enough to
convince her that it was not the extent of the grant that was deprecated
so much as an advance in that direction at all. Public indignation ran
so high that in some instances members of Parliament were called 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 rhetorical appeals to its
prejudices, encouraged the paper trade by interminable petitions to
Parliament; and three nights were spent in debate in the Lords and six
in the Commons over the second reading of the bill.


Lord John Russell was assailed with threatening letters as soon as it
was known that he intended to help Peel to outweather the storm of
obloquy which he was called to encounter. Sir Robert's proposals were
welcomed by him as a new and worthy departure from the old repressive
policy. It was because he thought that such a measure would go far to
conciliate the Catholics of Ireland, as well as to prove to them that
any question which touched their interests and welfare was not a matter
of unconcern to the statesmen and people of England, that he gave--with
a loyalty only too rare in public life--his powerful support to a
Minister who would otherwise have been driven to bay by his own
followers. It was, in fact, owing to Lord John's action that Peel
triumphed over the majority of his own party, and his speech in support
of the Ministry, though not remarkable for eloquence, was admirable
alike in temper and in tact, and was hailed at the moment as a presage
of victory. 'Peel lives, moves, and has his being through Lord John
Russell,' was Lord Shaftesbury's comment at the moment. Looking back at
the crisis from the leisure of 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 statesman who
proposed and carried it. The controversy over the Maynooth Grant
revealed how great was the gulf between Peel and the majority of the
Tories, and Greville, as usual, in his own incisive way hit off the
situation. 'The truth is that the Government is Peel, that Peel is a
Reformer and more of a Whig than a Tory, and that the mass of his
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 in its origin, and he added that
he was careless as to the consequences which might follow the passing of
the Maynooth Bill, so far at least as they concerned his own position.

Meanwhile another and far greater question was coming forward with
unsuspected rapidity for solution. The summer of 1845 was cold and wet,
and its dark skies and drenching showers were followed by a miserable
harvest. With the approach of autumn the fields were flooded and the
farmers in consequence in despair. Although England and Scotland
suffered greatly, the disaster fell with still greater force on Ireland.
As the anxious weeks wore on, alarm deepened into actual distress, for
there arose a mighty famine in the land. The potato crop proved a
disastrous failure, and with the approach of winter starvation joined
its eloquence to that of Cobden and Bright in their demand for the
repeal of the Corn Laws. In speaking afterwards of that terrible crisis,
and of the services which Cobden and himself were enabled to render to
the nation, John Bright used these memorable words: 'Do not suppose
that I wish you to imagine that he and I 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 we were joined, not by scores, but by hundreds, and
afterwards by thousands, and afterwards by countless multitudes, and
afterwards famine itself, against which we had warred, joined us, and a
great Minister was converted, and minorities became majorities, and
finally the barrier was entirely thrown down.'


Quite early in the history of the Anti-Corn-Law League, Cobden had
predicted, in spite of the apathy and opposition which the derided
Manchester school of politics then encountered, at a time when Peel and
Russell alike turned a deaf ear to its appeals, that the repeal of the
Corn Laws would be eventually carried in Parliament by a 'statesman of
established reputation.' Argument and agitation prepared the way for
this great measure of practical relief, but the multitude were not far
from the mark when they asserted that it was the rain that destroyed the
Corn Laws.[12] The imperative necessity of bringing food from abroad if
the people were not to perish for lack of bread brought both Sir Robert
Peel and Lord John Russell almost at the same moment to the conclusion
that this great economic problem must at once be faced. 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. If
that was so, he seems to have kept his opinion to himself, for as late
as November 29, in the memorandum which he sent to his colleagues, there
is no hint of abolition. On the contrary, Sir Robert, who was always
fond of setting forth three alternatives of action, wrote as follows:
'Time presses, and on some definite course we must decide. Shall 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? My opinion is for the last
course, admitting as I do that it involves the necessity for the
immediate consideration of the alterations to be made in the existing
Corn Law; such alterations to take effect after the period of
suspension. I should rather say it involves the question of the
principle and degree of protection to agriculture.'[13] As to the
justice of the demand for Free Trade, Peel, there can be no doubt, was
already convinced; but his party was regarded as the stronghold of
Protection, and he knew enough of the men who sat behind him to be fully
alive to the fact that they still clung tenaciously to the fallacies
which Adam Smith had exploded. 'We had ill luck,' were Lord Aberdeen's
words to the Queen; 'if it had not been for the famine in Ireland, which
rendered immediate measures necessary, Sir Robert would have prepared
the party gradually for the change.'[14]


Cobden, it is only fair to state, made no secret of his conviction that
the question of the repeal of the Corn Laws was safer in the hands of
Sir Robert than of Lord John. Peel might be less versed in
constitutional questions, but he was more in touch with the
manufacturing classes, and more familiar 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, who was spending the autumn in Scotland, was
the first 'responsible statesman' to take decisive action, for whilst
Peel, hampered by the vacillation and opposition of his colleagues,
still hesitated, Russell took the world into his confidence in his
historic 'Edinburgh Letter,' dated November 22, 1845, to his
constituents in London. It was a bold and uncompromising 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 relief. He pointed out that the existing duties
on corn were so contrived that, the worse the quality of the wheat, the
higher was the duty. 'When good wheat rises to seventy shillings a
quarter, the average price of all wheat is fifty-seven or fifty-eight
shillings, and the duty fourteen or fifteen shillings a quarter. Thus
the corn barometer points to fair, while the ship is bending under a
storm.' He reviewed the course of recent legislation on the subject, and
declared that he had for years endeavoured to obtain a compromise. He
showed that Peel had opposed in 1839, 1840, and 1841, even qualified
concession, and he added the stinging allusion to that statesman's
attitude on other great questions of still earlier date. 'He met the
proposition for diminished Protection in the same way in which he had
met the offer of securities for Protestant interests in 1817 and
1825--in the same way in which he met the proposal to allow Manchester,
Leeds, and Birmingham to send 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 vigorous attack on the Ministry ended
with a call to arms. 'Let us unite to put an end to a system which has
been proved to be the blight of commerce, the bane of agriculture, the
source of bitter divisions among classes, the cause of penury, fever,
mortality, and crime among the people. The Government appear to be
waiting for some excuse to give up the present Corn Law. Let the people,
by petition, by address, by remonstrance, afford them the excuse they


Sir Robert, when this manifesto appeared, had almost conquered the
reluctance of his 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 December 5, and three days later Lord John, much to his own
surprise, was summoned to Windsor and entrusted with the task of forming
a new Ministry. He was met by difficulties which, in spite of
negotiations, proved insurmountable, for Howick, who had succeeded in
the previous summer to his distinguished father's earldom, refused to
serve with Palmerston. Lord Grey raised another point which might
reasonably have been conceded, for he urged that Cobden, as the leader
of the Anti-Corn-Law League, ought to have the offer of a seat in the
Cabinet. Lord John was unable to bring about an amicable understanding,
and therefore, as the year was closing, he was compelled to inform her
Majesty of the fact, and to hand back what Disraeli theatrically
described as the 'poisoned chalice' to Sir Robert. 'It is all at an
end,' wrote Lord John to his wife. 'Power may come, some day or other,
in a less odious shape.'


[10] Justice has never yet been done to the founder of the Lancasterian
system of education. Joseph Lancaster was a remarkable man who aroused
the conscience of the nation, and even the dull intelligence of George
III., to the imperative need of popular education.

[11] 'The Melbourne Government: its Acts and Persons,' by the Right Hon.
W. E. Gladstone, M.P. _The Nineteenth Century_, January 1890, p. 50.

[12] 'The Corn Law of 1815 was a copy of the Corn Law of 1670--so little
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 Peel_, by
Justin McCarthy, M.P., chapter xii. p. 136.

[13] _The Croker Papers_, edited by Louis Jennings, vol. iii. p. 35.

[14] _Life of the Prince Consort_, by Sir Theodore Martin, vol. i. p.




     Peel and Free Trade--Disraeli and Lord George Bentinck lead the
     attack--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 question--Famine and its deadly work--The
     Russell Government and measures of relief--Crime and 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.
Sir Robert Peel resumed office in the closing days of December, and all
the members of his old Cabinet, on the principle of bowing to the
inevitable, returned with him, except the Duke of Buccleuch and Lord
Stanley, who resolutely declined to have part or lot in the new
departure which the Premier now felt called upon to 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.

  [Sidenote: THE QUEEN'S SPEECH]

The opening days of 1846 were full of political excitement, and were
filled with all kinds of rumours. Wellington, on January 6, wrote: 'I
don't despair of the Corn Laws,' and confessed that he did not know what
were the intentions of Sir Robert Peel concerning them.[15] Peel kept
his own counsel, though the conviction grew that he had persuaded
himself that in boldness lay the chance as well as the duty of the hour.
Peel, like Russell, was converted to Free Trade by the logic of events,
and he determined at all hazards to avow the new faith that was in him.
Parliament was opened by the Queen in person on January 22, and the
Speech from the Throne laid stress on the privation and suffering in
Ireland, and shadowed forth the repeal of prohibitive and the relaxation
of protective duties. The debate on the Address was rendered memorable
by Peel's explanations of the circumstances under which the recent
crisis had arisen. He made a long speech, and the tone of it, according
to Lord Malmesbury, was half threatening and half apologetic. It 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. He stated before he
sat down that it was 'no easy task to insure the harmonious and united
action of an ancient monarchy, a proud aristocracy, and a reformed House
of Commons.'

New interests were, in fact, beginning to find a voice in Parliament,
and that meant the beginning of the principle of readjustment which is
yet in progress. A few days later the Prime Minister explained his
financial plans for the year, and in the course of them he proposed the
gradual repeal of the Corn Laws. Free trade in corn was, in fact, to
take final effect after an interval of three years. Meanwhile the
sliding scale was to be abandoned in 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 announced. The
principle of Free Trade was, in fact, applied not in one but in many
directions, and from that hour its legislative triumph was assured. In
the course of the protracted debate which followed, Disraeli, with all
the virulence of a disappointed place-hunter, attacked Sir Robert Peel
with bitter personalities and barbed sarcasm. On this occasion, throwing
decency 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 political biography which he
published shortly after his friend's sudden death, gives him credit for
qualities of mind of which the nation at large saw little evidence.
After long and tedious discussion, extending over some twenty nights,
the Free Trade Bill was carried through the Commons by a majority of
ninety-eight votes, and in the Lords it passed the second reading by
forty-seven votes. Croker--true to the dismal suggestion of his
name--promptly took up his parable against Sir Robert. He declared that
the repeal of the Corn Laws meant a schism in the great landed interest
and broad acres, in his view, were the only solid foundation on which
the government of the nation could possibly be based. He asked, how was
it possible to resist the attack on the Irish 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 to be maintained, now that the leader of the Conservative party had
truckled to the League. Sir Robert Peel, he 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 bitter cry
of the outcast Protectionist, and similar vapourings arose in cliques
and clubs all over the land. The abolition of the Corn Laws was the last
measure of Sir Robert Peel's political life, and he owed the victory,
which was won amid the murmurs and threats of his own followers, to the
support which his political antagonists gave him, 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 Russell and Daniel O'Connell.
The Government moved the second reading of the Irish Coercion Bill, and
the Protectionists, who knew very well not only the views of Daniel
O'Connell, but of Smith O'Brien, saw their opportunity and promptly took
it. Lord George Bentinck had supported the Coercion Bill on its
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
Sir Robert's great betrayal of the landed interest. He now had the
audacity to assert that Peel had lost the confidence of every honest man
both within and without the House of Commons, and in spite of his
assurances of support he ranged himself for the moment with Russell and
O'Connell to crush the Administration. The division took place on June
25, and in a House of 571 members the Ministry was defeated by a
majority of 73. The defeat of the Government was so crushing that Whigs
and Protectionists alike, on the announcement of the figures, were too
much taken aback to cheer. 'Anything,' said Sir Robert, 'is preferable
to maintaining ourselves in office without a full measure of the
confidence of this House.'


Lord John had triumphed with the help of the Irish, whom Peel had
alienated; but the great Minister's downfall had in part been
accomplished by the treachery of those who abandoned him with clamour
and evil-speaking in the hour of need. Defeat was followed within a week
by resignation, and on July 4 Peel, writing from the leisured seclusion
of Drayton Manor, 'in the loveliest weather,' was magnanimous enough to
say, 'I have every disposition to forgive my enemies for having
conferred on me the blessing of the loss of power.' Lord John was
summoned to Windsor, and kissed hands on July 6. He became Prime
Minister when the condition of affairs was gloomy and menacing, and the
following passage from his wife's journal, written on July 14, conjures
up in two or three words a vivid picture of the difficulties of the
hour: 'John has much to distress him in the state of the country. God
grant him success in his labours to amend it! Famine, fever, trade
failing, and discontent growing are evils which it requires all his
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 to the Colonies; whilst Lord
Clarendon took office as President of the Board of Trade, and Lord
Lansdowne became President of the Council. Among the lesser lights of
the Ministry were Sir J. C. Hobhouse, Mr. Milner Gibson, Mr. Fox Maule,
Lord Morpeth, and Mr. (afterwards Lord) Macaulay. Sir James Graham was
offered the Governor-Generalship of India, but he had aspirations at
Westminster, which, however, were never fulfilled, and declined the
offer. The Tory party was demoralised and split up into cliques by
suspicion and indignation. 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 figure, whilst nobody as yet was
quite prepared to take Disraeli seriously. 'We are left masters of the
field,' wrote Palmerston, with a touch of characteristic humour, 'not
only on account of our own merits, which, though we say it ourselves,
are great, but by virtue of the absence of any efficient competitors.'

The new Ministry began well. Lord John's address to his constituents in
the City made an excellent impression, and was worthy of the man and the
occasion. 'You may be assured that I shall not desert in office the
principles to which I adhered when they were less favourably received. I
cannot indeed claim the merit either of having carried measures 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. But
I have endeavoured to do my part in this great work according to my
means and convictions, first by proposing a temperate relaxation of the
Corn Laws, and afterwards, when that measure has been repeatedly
rejected, by declaring in favour of total repeal, and using every
influence I could exert to prevent a renewal of the struggle for an
object not worth the cost of conflict. The Government of this country
ought to behold with an impartial eye the various portions of the
community engaged in agriculture, in manufactures, and in commerce. The
feeling that any of them is treated with injustice provokes ill-will,
disturbs legislation, and diverts attention from many useful and
necessary reforms. Great social improvements are required: public
education is manifestly imperfect; the treatment of criminals is a
problem yet undecided; the sanitary condition of our towns and villages
has 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.'

  [Sidenote: EVER A FIGHTER]

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 1813, when government by great families
was still more than a phrase, a splendid start. The love of liberty
which he inherited as a tradition grew strong within him, partly through
his residence in Edinburgh under Dugald Stewart, partly through the
generous and stimulating associations of Holland House, but still 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 when Europe lay
under the heel of Napoleon. Lord John was ever a fighter, and the
political conflicts of his early manhood against the triple alliance of
injustice, bigotry, and selfish 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. Although 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 fearless courage,
open mind, and great fertility of resource alike in attack and in
defence. Peel, his most formidable rival on the floor of the Commons,
hinted that Lord John Russell was small in small things, but, he added
significantly that, when the issues grew great, he was great also.
Everyone who looks at Lord John's career in its 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 II.
had 'too keen a perception of errors and faults to act well with
others,' and the remark might have been applied to himself. There were
times when Lord John, by acting hastily on the impulse of the moment,
landed his colleagues in serious and unlooked for difficulties, and
sometimes it happened that in his anxiety to clear his own soul by
taking an independent course, he compromised to a serious extent the
position of others.

Lord Melbourne's cynical remark, to the effect that nobody did anything
very foolish except from some strong principle, carries with it a
tribute to motive as well as a censure on action, and it is certain that
the promptings to which Lord John yielded in the questionable phases of
his public career were not due to the adroit and calculating temper of
self-interest. His weaknesses were indeed, after all, trivial in
comparison 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 'languid Johnny,' to
borrow Bulwer Lytton's phrase, 'soared to glorious John.' Palmerston,
like Melbourne, was all things to all men. His easy nonchalance, sunny
temper, and perfect familiarity with the ways of the world and the
weaknesses of average humanity, gave him an advantage which Lord John,
with his nervous temperament, indifferent health, fastidious tastes, shy
and rather distant bearing, and uncompromising convictions, never
possessed. Russell's ethical fervour and practical energetic bent of
mind divided him sharply from politicians who lived from hand to mouth,
and were never consumed by a zeal for reform in one direction or
another; and these qualities 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 opportune compliments and unwatched
concessions by which too often they retain it, lay amongst the things to
which he refused to stoop.


Men might think Lord John taciturn, angular, abrupt, tenacious, and
dogmatic, but it was impossible not to 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 open
to challenge. He was deeply versed in constitutional problems, and had
received a long and varied training in the handling of great affairs. He
possessed to an enviable degree the art of lucid exposition, and could
render intricate proposals luminous to the public mind. He was a shrewd
Parliamentary tactician, as well as a statesman who had worthily gained
the confidence of the nation. He was ready in debate, swift to see and
to seize the opportunity of the hour. He was full of practical sagacity,
and his personal character lent weight to his position in the country.
In the more militant stages of his career, and especially when he was
fighting the battles of Parliamentary reform and religious liberty, he
felt the full brunt of that 'sullen resistance to innovation,' as well
as that 'unalterable perseverance in the wisdom of prejudice,' which
Burke declared was characteristic of the English race. The natural
conservatism of growing years, it 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 extreme verge of life he remained far too great a
statesman and much too generous a man ever to lapse into the position of
a mere _laudator temporis acti_. 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 measure which rendered the repeal of the Corn Laws
total and immediate, and he carried, with the support of Peel and in
spite of the opposition of Bentinck and Disraeli, the abolition of
protection to sugar grown in the British Colonies.

Ireland quickly proved itself to be a stone of stumbling and a rock of
offence to the new Administration. Lord John's appointment of Lord
Bessborough--his old colleague, Duncannon, in the Committee on Reform in
1830--as viceroy was popular, for he was a resident Irish landlord, and
a man who was genuinely concerned for the welfare of the people.
O'Connell trusted Lord Bessborough, and that, in the disturbed condition
of the country, counted for much. The task of the new viceroy was hard,
even with such support, and though Bessborough laboured manfully and
with admirable tact to better the social condition of the people and to
exorcise the spirit of discord, the forces arrayed against him proved
resistless when famine came to their aid. As the summer slipped past,
crime and outrage increased, and the prospect for the approaching winter
grew not merely gloomy but menacing. Peel had been turned out of office
because of his Irish Arms Bill, and Bessborough was no sooner installed
in Dublin than he made urgent representations to the Cabinet in Downing
Street as to the necessity of adopting similar repressive measures, in
view of the prevailing lawlessness and the contempt for life and
property which in the disaffected districts were only too common. In
August the crisis was already so acute that the Government, yielding to
the fears of its Irish advisers, stultified itself by proposing the
renewal of the Arms Bill until the following spring. 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 moment without it, and as he also talked of throwing
up his appointment, and was supported in this view of the situation by
Mr. Labouchere (afterwards Lord Taunton), who at that time was Chief
Secretary, the Prime Minister gave way and introduced in the House of
Commons proposals which were out of keeping with his own antecedents,
and which he personally disliked. In speaking of Sir Robert Peel's
Coercion Bill in his published 'Recollections,' Lord John makes no
secret of his own attitude towards the measure. 'I objected to the Bill
on Irish grounds. I then thought, and I still 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 on the spot ample means of dealing with the reign of
terror which agrarian outrages had established.


If O'Connell had been at Lord John's side at that juncture, England
might have sent a practical message of good-will to Ireland instead of
falling back on the old policy of coercion. O'Connell had learnt to
trust Russell--as far, at least, as it was possible for a leader of the
Irish people to trust a Whig statesman--and Russell, on the other hand,
was beginning to understand not merely O'Connell, but the forces which
lay behind him, and which rendered him, quite apart from his own
eloquence and gifts, powerful. Unfortunately, the Liberator was by this
time broken in health, and the Young Ireland party were already in
revolt against his authority, a circumstance which, in itself, filled
the Premier with misgivings, and led him to give way, however
reluctantly, to the demand of the viceroy for repressive measures. Lord
John was, in fact, only too well aware that force was no remedy. He
wished, as much as O'Connell, to root up the causes which produced
crime. Young Ireland, however, seemed determined to kick over the traces
at the very time when the Liberator was inducing the Whigs to look at
the question in a practical manner. Lord John knew, to borrow his own
expression, that 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 withdrew a proposal which they ought
never to have introduced. This course had scarcely been taken when a new
and terrible complication of the social problem in Ireland arose.

  [Sidenote: THE IRISH FAMINE]

Famine 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. The potato crop was a disastrous failure, and, as the summer
waned, the distress of an impoverished and thriftless race grew acute.
The calamity was as crushing as it was rapid. 'On July 27,' are Father
Mathew's words, 'I passed from Cork to Dublin, and this doomed plant
bloomed in all the luxuriance of an abundant harvest. Returning on
August 3 I beheld with sorrow one wide waste of putrefying vegetation.'
A million and a half of acres were at the moment under cultivation, and
the blight only spared a quarter of them, whilst, to make matters worse,
the oat crop, by an unhappy coincidence, proved to a startling extent
insufficient. The financial loss in that disastrous harvest, in the
reckoning of experts, amounted to between fifteen and sixteen millions
sterling. Fever and dysentery made fatal inroads on the dwindling
strength of the gaunt and famished peasantry, and in one district alone,
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--endeavouring to keep the people from outbreaks, and endeavouring
to get food for them.' In many instances the landlords seemed robbed of
the characteristics of ordinary humanity, for the ruthless process of
eviction was carried on with a high hand, and old men and children were
left unsheltered as well as unfed.

Property had neglected its duties, but, as usual, did not neglect its
rights, and in that terrible crisis it overrode the rights of humanity.
Many of the landowners, however, 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 Years of
Irish History' will recall his vivid description of the manner in which
some of the landowners, however, saw their cruel opportunity, and
accordingly 'closed on the people with ejectments, turned them on the
road, and plucked down their roof-trees,' and 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 the crisis with courage, though scarcely with
adequate understanding. Ireland remembered with bitterness their Arms
Bill and their repressive measures. Public feeling ran high over some of
their proposals, for the people resented Lord John's modification of Sir
Robert Peel's plan by which the cost of public works was to be defrayed
by the State and district in which employment was given. Lord John
determined that the cost should be met in the first instance by
Government loans, which were to be repaid with an almost nominal
interest by the people of the district. This was interpreted to mean
that Ireland 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 common, and the Government met them with rather more
than becoming sternness, instead of dealing promptly with the
land-tenure system which lay at the root of so much of the misery. At
the beginning of the session of 1847 it was stated that 10,000,000_l._
would be required to meet the exigencies of the situation. Lord George
Bentinck proposed a grant of 16,000,000_l._ for the construction of
Irish railways, but Lord John made the question one of personal
confidence in himself, and threatened resignation if it passed. His
chief objection to the proposal was based on the fact that seventy-five
per cent. of the money spent in railway construction would not reach the
labouring classes. Lord George Bentinck's motion was rejected by a
sweeping majority, though at a subsequent stage in the session the
Government consented to advance a substantial sum to three Irish
railways--a concession which exposed them to the usual taunts of


Measures were also introduced for promoting emigration to the colonies,
and for the suspension of certain clauses of the Navigation Laws which
hindered the importation of foreign corn. At one time during the
distress there were no less than six hundred thousand men employed on
public works in Ireland, and the Government found it no easy task to
organise this vast army of labour, or to prevent abuses. Lord
Bessborough urged that the people should be employed in the improvement
of private estates, but Lord John met this proposal with disapproval,
though he at length agreed that the drainage of private land should come
within the scope of public works. It was further determined to lend
money in aid of the improvement of private property, the operation of
the Irish Poor Law was also extended, and in other directions energetic
measures were taken for the relief of the prevailing destitution. Lord
John was a keen observer both of men and of movements, and the
characteristics of the peasantry, and more particularly the personal
helplessness of the people, and the lack of concerted action among them,
impressed him. 'There are some things,' he declared, 'which the Crown
cannot grant and which Parliament cannot enact--the spirit of
self-reliance and the spirit of co-operation. I must say plainly that I
should indeed despair of this task were it not that I think I see
symptoms in the Irish people both of greater reliance on their own
energies and exertions, and of greater intelligence to co-operate with
each other. Happy will it be, indeed, if the Irish take for their maxim,
"Help yourselves and Heaven will help you," and then I think they will
find there is some use in adversity.'

Lord John Russell's Irish policy has often been misunderstood, and not
seldom misrepresented, but no one who looks all the facts calmly in the
face, or takes into account the difficulties which the famine threw in
his path, will 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 be allowed to speak
for itself. After stating that her husband has much to distress him in
the state of the country, these words follow: 'God grant him success in
his labours to amend it--famine, fever, trade failing, and discontent
growing are evils which it requires all his resolution, sense of duty,
and love for the public to face. I pray that he may, and believe that he
will, one day be looked back to as the greatest benefactor of unhappy
Ireland.' When once the nature of the calamity became apparent, Lord
John never relaxed his efforts to grapple with the emergency, and,
though not a demonstrative man, there is proof enough that he felt
acutely for the people, and laboured, not always perhaps wisely, but at
least well, for the amelioration of their lot. He was assailed with a
good deal of personal abuse, and was credited with vacillation and
apathy, especially in Ireland, where his opponents, acting in the
capacity of jurymen at inquests on the victims of the famine, sometimes
went so far as to bring in a verdict of wilful murder against the Prime
Minister. It is 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
ascendent during a crisis which taxed to the utmost the resources of
practical statesmanship.


The new Parliament assembled in November, and a Committee of both Houses
was appointed to take into consideration the depressed condition of
trade, for symptoms of unmistakable distress were apparent in the great
centres of industry. Ireland, moreover, still blocked the way, and Lord
Clarendon, who had succeeded to the viceroyalty, alarmed at the
condition of affairs, pressed for extraordinary powers. The famine by
this time was only a memory, but it had left a large section of the
peasantry in a sullen and defiant mood. As a consequence stormy
restlessness and open revolt made themselves felt. Armed mobs, sometimes
five hundred and even a thousand strong, wandered about in lawless
fashion, pounced upon corn and made raids on cattle, and it seemed
indeed at times as if life as well as property was imperilled. Lord
Clarendon was determined to 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 again been made to
mitigate, if not to explain away, the dark annals of Irish crime.
The facts, however, speak for themselves, and they seemed at the moment
to point to such a sinister condition of affairs that Lord John Russell
felt he had no option but to adopt repressive measures. Sir George
Grey stated in Parliament that the number of cases of fatal bloodshed
during the six summer months of 1846 was sixty-eight, whilst in the
corresponding period in 1847 it had increased to ninety-six. Shooting
with intent to slay, which in the six months of 1846 had numbered
fifty-five, now stood at 126. Robbery under arms had also grown with
ominous rapidity, for in the contrasted half-years of 1846 and 1847
deeds of violence of this kind were 207 and 530 respectively, whilst
outrage in another of its most cruel and despicable forms--the firing of
dwelling-houses--revealed, under the same conditions of time, 116 acts
of incendiarism in 1847, as against fifty-one in the previous year.
The disaffected districts of Clare, Limerick, and Tipperary made the
heaviest contribution to this dismal catalogue of crime; but far beyond
their borders though with diminished force, the lawless spirit

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 to bring forward a new
Arms Bill. He has also made it plain that it was only the logic of
events which finally convinced the Prime Minister of the necessity in
any shape for such a measure. Mr. Walpole has also vindicated, at
considerable length, Lord John from the familiar charge of having
adopted in power the proposals which led to the overthrow of the Peel
Administration. He lays stress on the fact that the Arms Bill, which the
Government carried at the close of 1847 by a sweeping majority, was, to
a noteworthy extent, different from that which Sir 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 persons
congregated in public-houses or carrying arms liable to arrest; above
all, they did not comprise the brutal clause which made persons out of
doors at night liable to transportation.' The condition of Ireland was,
indeed, so menacing that the majority of the English people of all
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 reparation which could be made to the last
Government would be to assist the present Government in passing such a
law. Perhaps still more significant were the admissions of Mr. John
Bright. At the General Election the young orator had been returned to
Parliament, not for a Sleepy Hollow like Durham, which had first sent
him, but for the commanding constituency of Manchester, and almost at
once he found himself in opposition to the views of a vast number of the
inhabitants. He was requested to present a petition against the bill
signed by more than 20,000 persons in Manchester. In doing so he took
the opportunity of explaining in the House of Commons the reasons which
made it impossible for him--friend of peace and goodwill as he assuredly
was--to support its prayer. He declared that the unanimous statements of
all the newspapers, the evidence of men of all parties connected with
Ireland, as well as the facts which were placed before them with
official authority, made it plain beyond a doubt that the ordinary law
was utterly powerless, and, therefore, he felt that the case of the
Government, so far as the necessity for such a bill was concerned, was
both clear and perfect.


Mr. Bright drew attention to the fact that assassinations in Ireland
were not looked upon as murders, but rather as executions; and that some
of them at least were not due to 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 the Government had a case for the demand
they made for an extension of their present powers, and he thought that
the bill before the House was the less to be opposed since, whilst it
strengthened the hands of the Executive, it did not greatly exceed or
infringe the ordinary law. Mr. Bright at the same time, it is only fair
to add, made no secret of his own conviction that the Government had not
grappled with sufficient courage with its difficulties, and he
complained of the delay which had arisen over promised legislation of a
remedial character.

Lord John himself was persuaded, some time before Mr. Bright made this
speech, that it was useless to attempt to 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 Lord Clarendon as
a 'plan for giving some security and some provision to the miserable
cottiers, who are now treated as brute beasts.' Years before--to be
exact, in the spring of 1844--he had declared in the 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 between landlord and tenant in
every case of ejectment. Lord John's difficulties in dealing with
Ireland were complicated by the distrust of three-fourths of the people
of the good intentions of English statesmanship. Political agitators,
great and small, of the Young Ireland school, did their best to deepen
the suspicions of an impulsive and ignorant 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 sensitive but
resentful race.


Even educated Irishmen of a later generation have, with scarcely an
exception, failed to do justice either to the dull weight of prejudice
and opposition with which Lord John had to contend in his efforts to
help their country, or to give him due credit for the constructive
statesmanship which he brought to a complicated and disheartening
task.[16] Lord John Russell was, in fact, in some directions not only in
advance of his party but of his times; and, though it has long been the
fashion to cavil at his Irish policy, it ought not to 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 improvements which they had made on their holdings. Vested
interests proved, however, too powerful, and Ireland stood in her own
light by persistent sedition. The revolutionary spirit was abroad in
1848 not only in France, but in other parts of Europe, and the Irish,
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
Government was forced by hostile and armed movements to proclaim 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 stipulation 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 seeking to
compass the repeal of the Union by violent measures, he went himself to
Dublin to consult with Lord Clarendon, and to gather on the spot his own
impressions of the situation. He found the country once more
overshadowed by the prospects of famine, and he came to the conclusion
that the population was too numerous for the soil, and subsequently
passed a measure for promoting aided emigration. He proposed also to
assist from the public funds the Roman Catholic clergy, whose livelihood
had grown precarious through the national distress; but, in deference to
strong Protestant opposition, this method of amelioration had to be
abandoned. The leaders of the Young Ireland party set the authorities at
defiance, and John Mitchel, a leader who advocated an appeal to physical
force, and Smith O'Brien, who talked wildly about the establishment of
an Irish Republic, were arrested, convicted, and transported. O'Connell
himself declared that Smith O'Brien was an exceedingly weak man, proud
and self-conceited and 'impenetrable to advice.' 'You cannot be sure of
him for half an hour.' The force of the movement was broken by cliques
and quarrels, until the spirit of disaffection was no longer formidable.
In August, her Majesty displayed in a marked way her personal interest
in her Irish subjects by a State visit to Dublin. The Queen was
received with enthusiasm, and her presence did much to weaken still
further the already diminishing power of sedition.


The question of education lay always close to the heart of Lord John
Russell, 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 education in a committee of the Privy Council. In spite
of suspicion and hostility, which found expression both in Parliament
and in ecclesiastical circles, the movement extended year by year and
slowly pervaded with the first beginnings of culture the social life of
the people. Lord John had taken an active part in establishing the
authority of the Privy Council in education; he had watched the rapid
growth of its influence, and had not forgotten to mark the defects which
had come to light during the six years' working of the system. He
therefore proposed to remodel it, 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 accordingly took the place of unpaid
monitors, and the 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 this
collegiate training received a Government grant in addition to the usual
salary. Grants were also for the first time given to schools which
passed with success through the ordeal of official inspection.

The passing of the Factory Bill was another effort in the practical
redress of wrongs to which Lord John Russell lent his powerful aid. The
measure, which will always be honourably associated with the names of
Lord Shaftesbury and Mr. Fielden, was a victory for labour which was
hailed with enthusiasm by artisans and operatives throughout the land.
It came as a measure of practical relief, not merely to men, but to
upwards of three hundred and sixty-three thousand women and children,
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 explain its work and to defend
its policy at Westminster, through the lips of the President of the Poor
Law Board. Regulations were at the same time made for workhouse control,
meetings of guardians, and the like. The great and ever-growing needs of
Manchester were recognised in 1847 by the creation of the Bishopric.
Parliament was dissolved on July 23, and as the adoption of Free Trade
had left the country for the moment without any great question directly
before it, no marked political excitement followed the appeal to the
people. The Conservative party was in truth demoralised by the downfall
of Peel, and the new forces which were soon to shape its course had as
yet scarcely revealed themselves, though Lord Stanley, Lord George
Bentinck, and Mr. Disraeli were manifestly the coming men in Opposition.
If the general election was distinguished by little enthusiasm either on
one side or the other, it yet brought with it a personal triumph to Lord
John, for he was returned for the City at the head of the poll. The
Government itself not only renewed its strength, but increased it as a
result of the contest throughout the country. At the same time the
hostility of the opponents of Free Trade was seen in the return of two
hundred and twenty-six Protectionists, in addition to one hundred and
five Conservatives of the new school of Bentinck and Disraeli.


In other directions, meanwhile, difficulties had beset the Government.
The proposed appointment of a Broad Churchman of advanced views, in the
person of Dr. Hampden, Regius Professor at Oxford, to the vacant see of
Hereford filled the 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 any longer an untenable position,
and, in spite of his brilliant prospects in the English Church, had
yielded to conscience and submitted to Rome. Dr. Pusey, however,
remained, and under his skilful leadership the Oxford Movement grew
strong, and threw its spell in particular over devout women, whose
æsthetic instincts it satisfied, and whose aspirations after a
semi-conventual life it met.[17] 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 the position of
earnest Roman Catholics. He had, however, not so learnt his Catechism or
his Prayer Book as to understand 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. 'I cannot sacrifice the
reputation of Dr. Hampden, the rights of the Crown, and what I believe
to be the 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 declare that the affair was 'a
matter of life and death,'[18] 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, which was based on the
representations of Sir Edwin Chadwick 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 alike to neglect practical measures
of this kind, even though they were so closely linked to the health and
welfare of the community.


[15] _The Croker Papers_, vol. iii. ch. xxiv. p. 53.

[16] Judge O'Connor Morris, in his interesting retrospect, _Memories 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.

[17] The first Anglican Sisterhood was founded by Dr. Pusey in London in
the spring of 1845.

[18] _Life of E. B. Pusey, D.D._, by H. P. Liddon, D.D., vol. iii. p.




     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 invasion scare--Lord John's remark
     about Palmerston--Fall of the Russell Administration.

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
flight of Louis Philippe, the proclamation in March of the French
Republic on the basis of universal suffrage and national workshops, and
the revolutionary movements and insurrections in Austria and Italy,
filled the artisans and operatives of this country with wild dreams, and
led them to rally their scattered and hitherto dispirited forces. Within
six years of the passing of the Reform Bill, in fact, in the autumn
after the Queen's accession, the working classes had come to the
conclusion that their interests had been largely overlooked, and that
the expectations they had cherished in the struggle of 1831-32 had 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 brunt of the battle; and yet they
had been thrust aside when it came to the dividing of the spoil.

The middle classes were in a different position: their aspirations were
satisfied, and they were quite prepared, for the moment at least, to
rest and be thankful. The sleek complacency of the shopkeeper, moreover,
and his hostility to further agitation, threw into somewhat dramatic
relief the restless and sullen attitude of less fortunate conscripts of
toil. Food was dear, wages were low, work was slack, and in the great
centres of industry the mills were running half-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 if social
discontent was widespread, especially when it is remembered that the
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 ability, swift vision, and generous sympathy,
had, unhappily, the knack of making enemies, and the fiery impetuosity
of his spirit brought him more than once into conflict with leaders
whose temperament was cold and whose caution was great. The rebellion in
Canada withdrew Lord Durham from the arena of English politics at the
beginning of 1838. Then it was that the people recognised to the full
the temper of the statesmen that were left, and the fact that, if
deliverance was to come from political and social thraldom, they must
look to themselves and organise their strength.

The representatives of the working classes in 1838 formulated their
demand for radical political reform in the famous six points of the
People's Charter. This declaration claimed 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 House of Commons; and payment of members of Parliament for their
services. The People's Charter took the working classes by storm: it
fired their imagination, inspired their hopes, and drew them in every
manufacturing town and district into organised association.

  [Sidenote: A SORRY CHAMPION]

The leader of the 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. He quarrelled, however, with the Irish
leader, a circumstance which was fatal to success as an agitator in his
own country. Restless 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 House of Commons as member
for Nottingham. He copied the tactics of O'Connell, but had neither the
judgment nor the strength of the Irish dictator. He seems, indeed, to
have been rather a poor creature of the vainglorious, bombastic type. A
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
Chartists in the spring of 1848 it is charitable now to discover the
first seeds of his disorder. However that may 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 of abject panic. The troubles in Ireland, the
insurrections and rumours of insurrection on the Continent, the
revolution in France, the menacing discontent in the provinces, and the
threatening attitude of the working men in the metropolis, were enough
to cause alarm among the privileged classes, and conscience made
cowards, not certainly of them all, but of the majority.

Literature enough and to spare, explanatory, declamatory and the like,
has grown around a movement which ran like an unfed river, until it lost
itself in the sand. Three men of genius took up their parable about what
one of them called the 'Condition of England Question,' and in the pages
of Carlyle's 'Chartism' and 'Past and Present,' Disraeli's 'Sybil,' and
last, but not least, in Kingsley's 'Alton Locke,' the reader of to-day
is in possession of sidelights, vivid, picturesque, and dramatic, on
English society in the years when the Chartists were coming to their
power, and in the year when they lost it. Lord John was at first in
favour of allowing the Chartists to demonstrate to their hearts'
content. He therefore proposed to permit them to cross Westminster
Bridge, so that they 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. Lord John had done too much for the people to be afraid of them,
and he refused to accept the alarmist view of the situation. But the
consternation was so widespread, and the panic so general, that the
Government felt compelled on April 6 to declare the proposed meeting
criminal and illegal, to 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 Wellington, only three of the leaders were to be allowed to
cross the bridge. The Bank, the Tower, and the neighbourhood of
Kennington Common meanwhile were protected by troops of cavalry and
infantry, whilst the approaches to the Houses of Parliament and the
Government offices were held by artillery.

  [Sidenote: LONDON IN TERROR]

The morning of the fateful 10th dawned brightly, but no one dared
forecast how the evening would close, and for a few hours of suspense
there was a reign of terror. Many houses were barricaded, and in the
West End the streets were deserted except by the valiant special
constables, who stood at every corner in defence of law and order. The
shopkeepers, who were not prepared to take joyfully the spoiling of
their goods, formed the great mass of this citizen army--one hundred and
fifty thousand strong. There were, nevertheless, recruits from all
classes, and in the excitement and peril of the hour odd men rubbed
shoulders. Lord Shaftesbury, for instance, was on duty in Mount Street,
Grosvenor Square, with a sallow young foreigner for companion, 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,
and strode towards Hyde Park, determined, he tells us, to walk himself
into a glow of heat in spite of the 'venomous cold wind' which called
forth his anathemas. The Chelsea moralist found London, westward at
least, safe and quiet, in spite of 'empty rumours and a hundred and
fifty thousand oaths of special constables.' He noticed as he passed
Apsley House that even the Duke had taken the affair seriously, in his
private as well as his public capacity, for all the iron blinds were
down. The Green Park was closed. Mounted Guardsmen stood ready on
Constitution Hill. 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. In spite of their patriotic
fervour, the special constables grew both damp and depressed. Suddenly a
rumour ran along the streets that the great demonstration at Kennington
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 had been abandoned. Feargus O'Connor had,
in fact, taken fright, and presently the petition rattled ingloriously
to Westminster in the safe but modest keeping of a hackney cab. The
shower swept the angry and noisy rabble homewards, or into neighbouring
public-houses, and ridicule--as 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. It had been boldly announced that one hundred and fifty
thousand people would meet at Kennington. Less than a third of that
number assembled, and a considerable part of the crowd had evidently
been attracted by curiosity. Afterwards, when the monster petition with
its signatures was examined, it was found to fall short of the boasted
'five million' names by upwards of three millions. Many of those which
did appear were palpably fictitious; indeed the rude wit of the London
apprentice was responsible for scores of silly signatures. Lord John's
comment on the affair was characteristic. After stating that no great
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 the fate of Paris, Berlin, and Vienna. For my own part, I saw
in these proceedings a fresh proof that the people of England were
satisfied with the Government under which they had the happiness to
live, did not wish to be instructed by their neighbours in the
principles of freedom, and did not envy them either the liberty they had
enjoyed under Robespierre, or the order which had been established among
them by Napoleon the Great.'


Lord John's allusion to Paris, Berlin, and Vienna suggests foreign
politics, and also the growing lack of harmony between Lord Palmerston
on the one hand and the Court and Cabinet on the other. Although he long
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 Administration of 1807, and two years
later--at the age of five-and-twenty--was appointed Secretary at War in
the Perceval Government. He held this post for the long term of eighteen
years, and when Canning succeeded to power still retained it, with a
seat in the Cabinet. Palmerston was a liberal Tory of the school of
Canning, and, when Lord Grey became Premier in 1830, was a man of
sufficient mark to be entrusted with the seals of the Foreign Office,
though, until his retirement in 1834, Grey exercised a controlling voice
in the foreign policy of the nation. It 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 almost of the approval, of his colleagues. Under a
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. If the responsibility of the first
Afghan war must rest chiefly on his shoulders, it is only fair to
remember that he took the risk of a war with France in order to drive
Ibrahim Pacha out of Syria. From first to last, his tenure at the
Foreign Office covered a period of nearly twenty years. Though he made
serious mistakes, he also made despots in every part of the world afraid
of him; whilst struggling nationalities felt that the great English
Minister was not oblivious of the claims of justice, or deaf to the
appeal for 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 impetuous colleague too much of his own way. The truth was, the
Premier's hands, and heart also, were in 1846 and 1847 full of the Irish
famine, and Lord Palmerston took advantage of the fact. Moreover, Lord
John Russell was, broadly speaking, in substantial agreement with his
Foreign Minister, though he cordially disliked his habit of taking swift
and almost independent action.

  [Sidenote: CLIMBING DOWN]

At the beginning of 1848 Palmerston seemed determined to pick a quarrel
with France, and in February drew up a threatening despatch on the
difficulty which had arisen between our Ambassador (Lord Normanby) and
Louis Philippe, which brought matters to a crisis. Louis Philippe had
acted a dishonourable part over the Spanish marriages, and Palmerston
was prepared to go out of his way to humiliate France. At the last
moment, the affair came to Lord John's knowledge through Lord Clarendon,
with the result that the communication was countermanded. Lord
Palmerston appears to have taken the rebuff, humiliating as it was, with
characteristic nonchalance, and it produced little more than a momentary
effect. The ignominious flight of Louis Philippe quickly followed, and
the revolution in France was the signal in Vienna for a revolt of the
students and artisans, which drove Metternich to find refuge in England
and the Emperor Ferdinand to seek asylum in the Tyrol. Austrians,
Hungarians, and Slavs only needed an opportunity, such as the 'year of
revolutions' afforded, to display their hostility to one another, and
the racial jealousy brought Austria and Hungary to open war. In Milan,
in Naples, and Berlin the revolutionary spirit displayed itself, 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 1, 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 map of
Europe since the Congress of Vienna, Lord John lays down the principle
that it is neither becoming nor expedient for England to proclaim that
the Treaties of 1815 were invalid. On the contrary, England ought rather
to promote, in the interests of peace and order, the maintenance of the
territorial divisions then made. At the same time, England, amid the
storm, ought not to persist in clinging to a wreck if 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 to take sides against her.
He, therefore, thought it advisable that English diplomacy should be
brought to bear at Vienna, so as to 'produce a frank abandonment of
Lombardy and Venice on the part of Austria.' He declared that it was not
to the advantage of England to meddle with the internal affairs of
Spain; but he thought there was a favourable chance of coming to an
understanding with Germany, where the Schleswig-Holstein question
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 to settle the pending questions and to fix
the boundaries of States. Otherwise, if war once becomes general, it
will spread over Germany, reach Belgium, and finally sweep England into
its vortex. Should our efforts for peace succeed, Europe may begin a new
career with more or less of hope and of concord; should they fail, we
must keep our sword in the scabbard as long as we can, but we cannot
hope to be neutral in a great European war. England cannot be
indifferent to the supremacy of France over Germany and Italy, or to the
advance of Russian armies to Constantinople; still less to the
incorporation of Belgium with a new French Empire.'


As usual, Lord Palmerston had his own ideas and the courage of them.
Within three weeks of the Russell Memorandum to the Cabinet he
accordingly stood out in his true colours as a frank opportunist. The
guiding rule of his foreign policy, he stated, was to promote and
advance, as far as lay in his power, the interests of the country as
opportunity served and as necessity arose. 'We have no everlasting union
with this or that country--no identification of policy with another. We
have no natural enemies--no perpetual friends. When we find a 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, we are involved for a time with
the Government of that country. We find no fault with other nations for
pursuing their interests; and they ought not to find fault with us, if,
in pursuing our interests, our course may be different from theirs.'

Lord Palmerston held that the real policy of this country was to be the
champion of justice and right, though professing no sympathy with the
notion that England ought to become, to borrow his own expression, the
Quixote of the world. 'I hold that England is a Power sufficiently
strong to steer her own course, and not to tie herself as an unnecessary
appendage to the policy of any other Government.' He declared that, if
he might be allowed to gather into one sentence the principle which he
thought ought to guide an English statesman, he would adopt the
expression of Canning, and say that with every British Minister the
interests of England ought to 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 into this or that
scale on his own responsibility, and, as it 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, 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 like a cork. He never lost
his self-possession, and a profound sense of his own infallibility
helped him, under difficulties and rebuffs which would have knocked the
spirit out of other men, to adopt the attitude of the patriotic
statesman struggling with adversity. When the session of 1849 closed he
was in an extremely difficult position, in consequence of the growing
dislike 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 trumpetings of
attacks that were to demolish first one and then another of the
Government--first me, then Grey, then Charles Wood--we have come
triumphantly out of the debates and divisions, and end the session
stronger than we began it.'[19]


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. Without the
knowledge of the Queen or his colleagues, Lord Palmerston, for instance,
sent a letter to Sir H. Bulwer advising an extension of the basis of the
Spanish Government, an act of interference which caused so much
irritation at Madrid that the Spanish Government requested the British
Ambassador to leave the country. Happily, the breach with Madrid was
repaired after a few months' anxiety on the part of Palmerston's
colleagues. The Queen's sense of the indiscretion was apparent in the
request to Lord Palmerston to submit in future all his despatches to the
Prime Minister. Other occasions soon arose which increased distrust at
Windsor, and further strained friendly relations between the Prime
Minister and the Foreign Secretary. The latter's removal to some less
responsible post was contemplated, for her Majesty appeared to
disapprove of everything Lord Palmerston did. Without detailing the
various circumstances which awakened the Queen's displeasure, it is
sufficient to draw attention to one event--known in the annals of
diplomacy as the 'Don Pacifico' affair--which threatened the overthrow
of the Ministry.

Two British subjects demanded in vain compensation from the Greek
Government for damage to their property. Lord Palmerston came to their
defence, and sent private 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
Downing Street. France and Russia made angry protests, and war was
predicted. At length an offer of mediation from Paris was accepted, and
the matter was arranged in London. 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 at last forced the Greek
Government to grant compensation. France, indignant at such cavalier
treatment, recalled M. Drouyn de Lhuys from London, and again the
war-cloud lowered. Lord Palmerston had the audacity to state in 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 matters.' The truth came out on the morrow, and
Lord John, in the discreet absence of his colleague, was forced to
explain as best he might the position of affairs. Although he screened
Lord Palmerston as far as he was able, he determined to make a change 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 resolution 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, who differed
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. Sir Robert Peel, in the course of it, 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 to snatch a few hours' sleep before going at noon to
a meeting which was to settle the disputed question as to the site of
the Great Exhibition. He kept his appointment; but later in the day he
was thrown from his horse on Constitution Hill, and received injuries
which proved fatal on the night of July 2. His death was a national
calamity, for at sixty-two he was still in the fulness of his strength.
There will always be a diversity of judgment concerning his career;
there is but one opinion about his character. 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 their words, their grief over the loss of
a leader who followed his conscience even at the expense of the collapse
of his power. Lord John Russell, the most distinguished, without doubt,
of Sir Robert's opponents on the floor of the House, paid a generous
tribute to his rival's memory. He declared that posterity would regard
Sir Robert Peel as one of the greatest and most patriotic of statesman.
He laid stress on that 'long and large experience of public affairs,
that profound knowledge, that oratorical power, that copious yet exact
memory, with which the House was wont to be enlightened, interested, 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 of a statue in Westminster Abbey. He also
marked his 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 believe that
England can do no wrong, at least abroad, believed in him. His audacity
delighted the man in the club. His pluck took the platform and much of
the press by storm. The multitude relished his peremptory despatches,
and were delighted when he either showed fight or encouraged it in
others. In course of time 'Pam' became the typical fine old English
gentleman of genial temper but domineering instincts. Prince Albert
disliked him; he was too little of a courtier, too much of an off-handed
man of affairs. Windsor, of course, received early tidings of the
impression which was made at foreign Courts by the most independent and
and cavalier Foreign Minister of the century. Occasionally he
needlessly offended the susceptibilities of exalted personages abroad as
well as at home. At length the Queen, determined no longer to be put in
a false position, drew up a sharply-worded memorandum, in which explicit
directions were given for the transaction of business between the Crown
and the Foreign Office. 'The Queen requires, first, that Lord Palmerston
will distinctly state what he proposes in a given case, in order that
the Queen may know as distinctly to what she is giving her royal
sanction; secondly, having once given her sanction to a measure, that it
be not arbitrarily altered or modified by the Minister. Such an act she
must consider as failing in sincerity towards the Crown, and justly to
be visited by the exercise of her constitutional right of dismissing
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 before they must be
sent off.'

No responsible adviser of the Crown during the reign had received such
emphatic censure, and in August 1850 people were talking as if
Palmerston was bound to resign. He certainly would have done so if he
had merely consulted his own feelings; but he declared that to resign
just then would be to play into the hands of the political adversaries
whom he had just defeated, and to throw over his supporters at the
moment when they had fought a successful battle on his behalf. Lord
Palmerston, therefore, accepted the Queen's instructions with unwonted
meekness. He assured her Majesty that he would not fail to attend to the
directions which the memorandum contained, and for a while harmony was
restored. In the autumn of 1851 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 at the Foreign Office, and, contrary to
the wishes of the Queen and Prime Minister, deputations were admitted,
and addresses were presented, thanking Palmerston for his services in
the cause of humanity, whilst in the same breath allusions to the
Emperors of Austria and Russia as 'odious and detestable assassins' were
made. Almost before the annoyance created by this fresh act of
indiscretion had subsided, Lord Palmerston was guilty of a still more
serious offence.

  [Sidenote: THE _COUP D'ÉTAT_]

Louis Napoleon had been elected President of the French Republic by five
and a half million votes. He was thought to be ambitious rather than
able, and he had pledged himself to sustain the existing Constitution.
He worked for his own hand, however, and accordingly conciliated first
the clergy, then the peasants, and finally the army, by fair promises,
popular acts, and a bold policy. On December 2, 1851, 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 President eligible for re-election, and next morning all Europe
was startled with tidings of the _Coup d'État_. Both the English Court
and Cabinet felt that absolute neutrality must be observed during the
tumult which followed in Paris, and instructions to that effect were
accordingly transmitted to Lord Normanby. But when that diplomatist made
known this official communication, he was met with the retort that Lord
Palmerston, in a conversation with the French Ambassador in London, had
already declared that the _Coup d'État_ 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


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 ground that the Foreign Secretary had
practically put himself, for the moment, in the place of the Crown. He
had given the moral approbation of England to the acts of the President
of the Republic of France, though he knew, when he was doing so, that he
was acting in direct opposition to the wishes of the sovereign and the
policy of the Government. 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 had neglected what was due to the Crown and
his colleagues, he felt sure that he had not intended any personal
disrespect. Greville declared that, in all his experience of 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 Dalling, another eye-witness of the
episode, has described, from the point of view of a sympathiser with
Palmerston, the manner in which he seemed completely taken by surprise
by the 'tremendous assault' which Lord John, by a damaging appeal to
facts, made against him. In his view, Russell's speech was one of the
most powerful to which he had ever listened, and its effect was
overwhelming. Disraeli, meeting Lord Dalling by chance next day on the
staircase of the Russian Embassy, exclaimed as he passed, with
significant emphasis, 'There _was_ a Palmerston!' The common opinion at
the clubs found expression in a phrase which passed from lip to lip,
'Palmerston is smashed;' but, though driven for the moment to bay, the
dismissed Minister was himself of another mind.

Lord Palmerston was offered the Irish Viceroyalty, but he declined to
take such an appointment. He accepted his dismissal 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 to the French Ambassador on the plea that it was only the
expression of an opinion on passing events, common to that 'easy and
familiar personal intercourse, which tends so usefully to the
maintenance of friendly relations with foreign Governments.' Lady
Russell wrote down at the time her own impressions of this crisis in her
husband's Cabinet, and the following passage throws a valuable sidelight
on a memorable incident in the Queen's reign: 'The breach between John
and Lord Palmerston was a calamity to the country, to the Whig party,
and to themselves; and, although it had for some months been a
threatening danger on the horizon, I cannot but feel that there was
accident in its actual occurrence. Had we been in London or at Pembroke
Lodge, and not at Woburn Abbey, at the time, they would have met, and
talked over the subject of their difference; words spoken might have
been equally strong, but would have been less cutting than words
written, 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. They did so both
before and after the breach of 1851, which was, happily, closed in the
following year, when they were once more colleagues in office. On
matters of home policy Lord Palmerston remained the Tory he had been in
his earlier days, and this was the cause of many a trial to John.'

The Russell Administration, as the Premier himself frankly recognised,
was seriously weakened by the dismissal of Lord Palmerston; and its
position was not improved when Lord Clarendon, on somewhat paltry
grounds, refused the Foreign Office. Lord John's sagacity was shown by
the prompt offer of the 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 in the foreign policy of England
in the Victorian era.

  [Sidenote: ROME AND OXFORD]

Meanwhile fresh difficulties had arisen. In the autumn of 1850--a year
which had already been rendered memorable 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 created Cardinal
Archbishop of Westminster, and England was divided into twelve sees with
territorial titles. The assumption by Pius IX. of spiritual authority
over England was a blunder; indeed, no better proof in recent times of
the lack of infallibility at Rome could well be discovered. One swallow,
proverbially, does not make a spring; and when Newman took refuge in
flight, other leaders of the Oxford Movement refused to accept his logic
and to follow his example. Englishmen have always resented anything in
the 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'État_, which followed quickly on the heels of this dramatic act
of Papal aggression, scarcely took the nation 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, 'threw the weight of their authority on the side of
popular and short-sighted passion.'[20]

Pius IX. knew nothing of the English character, but Cardinal Wiseman, at
least, could not plead ignorance of the real issues at stake; and
therefore his grandiloquent and, under all the circumstances, ridiculous
pastoral letter, 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. Dr. Newman, with
the zeal of a pervert, preached a sermon on the revival of the Catholic
Church, and in the course of it he stated that the 'people of England,
who for so many years have been separated from the See of 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, like honest men, would follow his example. Dr. Pusey, however,
was a more astute ecclesiastical statesman than Cardinal Wiseman. He was
in favour of a 'very moderate' declaration against Rome, for the
resources of compromise were evidently in his eyes not exhausted. The
truth was, Pusey and Keble, by a course of action which to this day
remains a standing riddle to the Papacy on the one hand, and to
Protestantism on the other, threw dust in the eyes of Pius IX., and
were the real authors of Papal aggression. Lord John Russell saw this
quite clearly, and in proof of such an assertion it is 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.

England had renounced the Papal supremacy for the space of 300 years,
and had grown strong in the liberty which had followed the downfall of
such thraldom. 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 ecclesiastical appointments called
forth sharp criticism. He was a Protestant of the old uncompromising
type, with leanings towards advanced thought in Biblical criticism. He
knew, moreover, what Puritanism had done for the English nation in the
seventeenth century, and made no secret of his conviction that it was
the Nonconformists, more than any other class, who had rendered civil
and religious liberty possible. He moreover knew that in his own time
they, more than any other part of the community, had carried the Reform
Bill, brought about the abolition of slavery, and established Free
Trade. He had been brought into contact with their leaders, and was
beginning to perceive, with the nation at large, how paltry and
inadequate were the claims of a rigid Churchmanship, since the true
apostolical succession is a matter of altitude of spiritual devotion,
and borrows none of its rights from the pretensions of clerical caste.


The Durham Letter was written from Downing Street, on November 4, 1850.
It gained its name because it was addressed to the Premier's old friend
Dr. Maltby, Bishop of Durham, and appeared in the newspapers on the day
on which it was dated. Lord John declared that he had not only promoted
to the utmost of his power the claims of Roman Catholics to all civil
rights, but had deemed it not merely just, but desirable, that that
Church should impart religious instruction to the 'numerous Irish
immigrants in London and elsewhere, who, without such help, would have
been left in heathen ignorance.' He believed that this might have been
accomplished without any such innovation as that which the Papacy now
contemplated. He laid stress on the assumption of power made in all the
documents on 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. He confessed that his alarm was not equal to
his indignation, since Englishmen would never again allow any foreign
prince or potentate to impose a yoke on their minds and consciences. He
hinted at legislative action on the subject, and then proceeded to take
up his parable against the Tractarians in the following unmistakeable
terms: 'There is a danger, however, which alarms me much more than the
aggression of a foreign sovereign. 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 it was written, the recommendation of auricular
confession, and the administration of penance and absolution--all these
things are pointed out by clergymen as worthy of adoption, and are now
openly reprehended by the Bishop of London in his Charge to the clergy
of his diocese. What, then, is the danger to be apprehended from a
foreign prince of no power, compared to the danger within the gates from
the unworthy sons of the Church of England herself? I have but little
hope that the propounders and framers of these innovations will desist
from their insidious course; but I rely with confidence on the people of
England, and I will not bate a jot of heart or life so long as the
glorious principles and the immortal martyrs of the Reformation shall be
held in reverence by the great mass of a nation, which look with
contempt on the mummeries of superstition, and with scorn at the
laborious endeavours which are now being made to confine the intellect
and enslave the soul.'

  [Sidenote: 'NO POPERY']

Lord John's manifesto was as fuel to the flames. All over the kingdom
preparations were in progress at the moment for a national carnival--now
fallen largely into disrepute. Guy Fawkes was hastily dethroned, and the
Pope and Cardinal Wiseman were paraded in effigy through the streets of
London, Exeter, and other cities, and burnt at nightfall amid the jeers
of the crowd. Petitions began to pour in against Papal aggression, and
the literature of the subject, in controversial tract, pamphlet, and
volume, grew suddenly not less bewildering than formidable. The arrival
in London of Father Gavazzi, an ex-priest of commanding presence and
impassioned oratory, helped to arouse still further the Protestant
spirit of the nation. The Press, the pulpit, the platform, formed a
triple alliance against the Vatican, and the indignant rejection of the
Pope's claims may be said to have been carried by acclamation. Clamour
ran riot through the land, and spent its force in noisy demonstrations.
The Catholics met the 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.[21] Lord Shaftesbury, who was in the thick of the tumult,
and has left a vivid description of it in his journal,[22] declared that
Cardinal Wiseman's manifesto, in spite of its audacity, was likely to
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 Letter. Lord
John overshot the mark, and his accusations wounded those whom he did
not intend to attack, and in the recoil of public opinion his own
reputation suffered. He resented, with pardonable warmth, the attitude
of the Vatican, and was jealous of any infringement, from that or any
other quarter, of the Queen's supremacy in her own realms. The most
damaging sentences in the Durham Letter were not directed against the
Catholics, either in Rome, England, or Ireland, but against the
Tractarian clergymen--men whom he regarded as 'unworthy sons of the
Church of England.' The Catholics, incensed at the denial of the Pope's
supremacy, were, however, in no mood to make distinctions, and they have
interpreted Lord John's strictures on Dr. Pusey and his followers as an
attack on their own religious faith. The consequence was that the
manifesto was regarded, especially in Ireland, not merely as a protest
against the politics of the Vatican, but as a sweeping censure on the
creed of Rome. Lord John's character and past services 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 religious liberty. Disraeli, writing to his sister in November,
said: 'I think John Russell is in a scrape. I understand that his party
are furious with him. The Irish are frantic. If he goes on with the
Protestant movement he will be thrown over by the Papists; if he
shuffles with the Protestants, their blood is too high to be silent now,
and they will come to us. I think Johnny is checkmated.'[23]

  [Sidenote: UNDER WHICH FLAG?]

For the moment, however, passion and prejudice everywhere ran riot, and
on both sides of the controversy common sense and common fairness were
forgotten. A representative Irish politician of a later generation has
not failed to observe the irony of the position. 'It was a curious
incident in political history,' declares Mr. Justin McCarthy, 'that Lord
John Russell, who had more than any Englishman then living been
identified with the principles of religious liberty, who had sat at the
feet of Fox, and had for his closest friend the Catholic poet Thomas
Moore, came to be regarded by Roman Catholics as the bitterest enemy of
their creed and their rights of worship.'[24] It is 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, in common with thousands of other distressed Churchmen,
that the Tractarians were foes within the gates of the Establishment. He
regarded them, moreover, as ministers of religion who were hostile to
the work of the Reformation, and therefore he deemed that they were in a
false position in the Anglican Church. Their priestly claims and
sacerdotal rites, their obvious sympathies and avowed convictions,
separated them sharply from ordinary clergymen, and were difficult to
reconcile with adherence to the principles of Protestantism. Like many
other 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 to its
aid art and music, learning and eloquence; it has appealed to the
æsthetic and emotional elements in human nature; it has led captive the
imagination of many by its dramatic revival of mediæval ideas and
methods; and it has stilled by its assumption of authority the
restlessness of souls, too weary to argue, too troubled to rebel. The
bishops of to-day have grown either quite friendly towards the Oxford
Movement, or else discreetly tolerant. Yet, when all this is admitted,
it does nothing towards proving that Lord John Russell was a mistaken
alarmist. The Durham Letter and its impassioned protest have been
justified by the logic of events. It is easy for men to be charitable
who have slipped their convictions.

Possibly it was not judicious on Lord John's part to be so zealously
affected in the matter. That is, perhaps, open to dispute, but the
question remains: Was he mistaken in principle? He saw clergymen of the
English Church, Protestant at least in name, 'leading their flocks step
by step to the very verge of the precipice,' and he took up his parable
against them, and pointed out the danger to the hitherto accepted faith
and practice of the English Church. One of the most distinguished
prelates of the Anglican Church in 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 who think that
Lord John was a mere alarmist. His Eminence delivered a suggestive
address at Preston on September 10, 1894, on the 'Re-Union of
Christendom.' He thinks--and it is idle to deny that he has good ground
for thinking--that, in spite of bishops, lawyers, and legislature,
Delphic judgments at Lambeth, and spasmodic protests up and down the
country, a change in doctrine 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.'

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 Rome.' Such statements are either
true or false. If false, they are open to contradiction; if true, they
justify in substance the position taken up in the Durham Letter. Towards
the close of his life, Lord John told Mr. Lecky that he did not regret
his action, and to the last he maintained that he was right in the
protest which he made in the Durham Letter. Yet he acknowledged, as he
looked back upon the affair, that he might have softened certain
expressions in it with advantage. Parliament met on February 4, 1851,
and the Queen's Speech contained the following passage: 'The recent
assumption of certain ecclesiastical titles conferred by a foreign Power
has excited strong feelings in this country; and large bodies of my
subjects have presented addresses to me expressing attachment to the
Throne, and praying that such assumptions should be resisted. I have
assured them of my resolution to maintain the rights of my crown and the
independence of the nation against all encroachments, from whatsoever
quarter they may proceed.'


Three days later, Lord John introduced the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill.
The measure prohibited the assumption of territorial titles 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. The
proposal to render null and void gifts or religious endowments acquired
by the new prelates was abandoned in the course of the acrimonious
debates which followed. Other difficulties arose, and Ireland was
declared to be exempt from the operation of the measure. The object of
the bill, declared Lord John Russell, was merely to assert the supremacy
of the Crown. Nothing was further from his thought than to play the part
of a religious persecutor. He merely wished to draw a sharp and
unmistakeable line of demarcation between the spiritual jurisdiction of
the 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 titles borrowed from places in the
United Kingdom.

The bill satisfied neither the friends nor the foes of Roman
Catholicism. It was persistently regarded by the one as an attack on
religious liberty, and by the other as quite inadequate as a bulwark of
Protestantism. Nevertheless it became law, but not before the summer of
1851, when the agitation had spent its force. It was regarded almost as
a dead letter from the first, and, though it remained on the
Statute-book for twenty years, its repeal was a foregone conclusion.
When it was revoked in 1871 the temper of the nation had changed, and no
one was inclined to make even a passing protest. John Leech, in a
cartoon in _Punch_, caught the droll aspect of the situation with even
more than his customary skill. Lord John relished the joke, even though
he recognised that it was not likely to prove of service to him at the
next General Election. In conversation with a friend he said: 'Do you
remember a cartoon in _Punch_ where I was represented as a little boy
writing "No Popery" on a wall and running away?' The answer was a smile
of assent. 'Well,' he added, 'that was very severe, and did my
Government a great deal of harm, but I was so convinced that it was not
maliciously meant that I sent for John Leech, and asked him what I
could do for him. He said that he should like a nomination for his son
to the Charterhouse, and I gave it to him. That is how I 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 first Russell Administration, and Sir Charles Wood's
Budget gave widespread dissatisfaction. Mr. Locke King heightened the
embarrassment of the moment by bringing forward a motion for 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 of
Derby--was summoned to Windsor and attempted to form a Ministry. His
efforts were, however, unsuccessful, for Peel had left the Tory party
not merely disorganised but full of warring elements. Lord John,
therefore, returned to office in 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. As the year closed Lord Palmerston's ill-advised
action over the _Coup d'État_ in France brought about, as we have
already seen, his dismissal, a circumstance which still further weakened
the Russell Cabinet.

The year 1852 opened darkly for Lord John. Difficulties, small and
great, seemed thickening around him. He had been called to power at a
singularly trying moment, and no one who looks dispassionately at the
policy which he pursued between the years 1846 and 1852 can fail to
recognise that he had at least tried to do his duty. There is a touch of
pathos in the harassed statesman's reply to a letter of congratulation
which reached him on the threshold of the new year from a near relative,
and it is worthy of quotation, since it reveals the attitude of the man
on far greater questions than those with which he was beset at the
moment: 'I cannot say that the new year is a happy one to me. Political
troubles are too thick for my weak sight to penetrate them, but we all
rest in the mercy of God, who will dispose of us as He thinks best.'[25]
When Parliament met in February, Lord Palmerston's opportunity came. On
the heels of the panic about Papal aggression came widespread alarm as
to the policy which Napoleon III. might pursue towards this country. The
fear of invasion grew strong in 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 concerning the reign of terror which the first
Napoleon, by his conquering march over Europe and his threatened descent
on the English shores, had established, and, as a consequence, though
with diminished force, the old consternation suddenly revived.


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 for the reorganisation of the local Militia. He believed that
such a force, with national enthusiasm at its back, was sufficient to
repel invasion--a contingency which, in common with other responsible
statesmen, he did not regard as more than remote. Lord Palmerston,
however, posing as the candid friend of the nation, and the
exceptionally well-informed ex-Foreign Minister, professed to see rocks
ahead, and there were--at all events for the Russell Administration. In
England, any appeal to the Jingo instincts of the populace is certain to
meet with a more or less hysterical welcome, and Palmerston more than
once took advantage of the fact. He expressed his dissatisfaction with
Lord John's Militia Bill, and by a majority of eleven carried an
amendment to it. Lord John met the hostile demonstration by resignation,
and, though Palmerston professed to be surprised at such a result, his
real opinion leaps to light in the historic sentence which he wrote to
his brother on February 24: 'I have had my tit-for-tat with John
Russell, and I turned him out on Friday last.' One hitherto unpublished
reminiscence of that crisis deserves to be recorded, especially as it
throws into passing relief Lord John's generosity of temper: 'I
remember,' states his brother-in-law and at one time private secretary,
the Hon. George Elliot, 'being indignant with Lord Palmerston, after he
had been dismissed by Lord John, bringing forward a verbal amendment on
the Militia Bill in 1852--a mere pretext by which the Government was
overthrown. But Lord John would not at all enter into my feelings, and
said, "It's all fair. I dealt him a blow, and he has given me one in

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 Palmerston. Just before the
'tit-for-tat' amendment, the Premier brought forward a new scheme on the
subject which he had reluctantly waived in 1849 in deference to the
wishes of the majority of his colleagues, who then regarded such a
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_l._,
and the borough to 5_l._, and by granting the franchise to persons
paying forty shillings yearly in direct taxation. He also proposed to
abolish the property qualification of English and Irish members of
Parliament, and to extend the boundaries of boroughs having less than
500 electors. Lord Palmerston's hostile action of course compelled 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, contributed to bring it about. Albany
Fonblanque, one of the shrewdest contemporary observers of men and
movements, gathered the political gossip of the moment together in a
paragraph which sets forth in graphic fashion the tumult of opinion in
the spring of 1852. 'Lord John Russell has fallen, and all are agreed
that he is greatly to blame for falling; but hardly any two men agree
about the immediate cause of his fall. "It was the Durham Letter," says
one. "Not a jot," replies another; "the Durham Letter was quite right,
and would have strengthened him prodigiously if it had been followed up
by a vigorous anti-Papal measure: it was the paltry bill that destroyed
him." "The Ecclesiastical Titles Bill," interposes a third, "did just
enough in doing next to nothing: no, it was the house tax in the Budget
that did the mischief." "The house tax might have been got over," puts
in another, "but the proposal of the income tax, with all its injustices
unmitigated, doomed Lord John." "Not a whit," rejoins a Radical
reformer, "the income tax is popular, especially with people who don't
pay it; Lord John's opposition to Locke King's motion sealed his fate."
"Locke King's division was a flea-bite," cries a staunch Protestant,
"the Pope has done it all."'

Stress has been 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 set forth in outline the difficulties which
it encountered in regard to its foreign policy through the cavalier
attitude and bid for personal ascendency of Lord Palmerston. The five or
six years during which Lord John Russell was at the head of affairs were
marked by a succession of panics which heightened immeasurably the
difficulties of his position. One was purely commercial, but it threw
gloom over the country, brought stagnation to trade, and political
discontent followed in its train, which in turn reacted on the prospects
of the Government. The Irish famine and the rebellion which followed in
its wake taxed the resources of the Cabinet to the utmost, and the
efforts which were made by the Ministry to grapple with the evil have
scarcely received even yet due recognition. The Chartist movement, the
agitation over the Papal claims and the fear of invasion, are landmarks
in the turbulent and menacing annals of the time.

The repeal of the Navigation Act bore witness to Lord John's zealous
determination to extend the principles of Free Trade, and the Jewish
Disabilities Bill--which was rejected by the House of Lords--is itself a
sufficient answer to those who, because of his resistance, not to the
spiritual claims, 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 much favour as he
had deserved; he added that, where his measures had miscarried, he did
not attribute the failure to animosity or misrepresentation, but rather
to errors which he had himself committed from mistaken judgment or an
erroneous interpretation of facts. No one who looks at Lord John
Russell's career with simple justice, to say nothing of generosity, can
doubt the truth of his words. 'I believe, I may say, that my ends have
been honest. I have looked to the happiness of my country as the object
to which my efforts ought to be directed.'


[19] _Life of Lord Palmerston_, by the Hon. Evelyn Ashley, vol. ii. p.

[20] _Life of E. B. Pusey, D.D._, by H. P. Liddon, D.D., vol. iii. p.
292. Longmans & Co.

[21] Cobden described it as 'a Guy Fawkes outcry,' and predicted the
fall of the Ministry.

[22] See _Life and Work of the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury_, by Edwin
Hodder, pp. 429-435.

[23] _Lord Beaconsfield's Correspondence with his Sister_ (1832-1852),
p. 249. London: John Murray.

[24] _History of Our Own Times_, by Justin McCarthy, M.P. vol. ii. pp.
85, 86.

[25] _Life of Lord John Russell_, by Spencer Walpole, vol. ii p. 143.




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

THERE is no need to linger over the history of the next few months, for
in a political sense they were barren and unfruitful. The first Derby
Administration possessed no elements of strength, and quickly proved a
mere stop-gap Cabinet. Its tenure of power was not only brief but
inglorious. The new Ministers took office in February, and they left it
in December. Lord Palmerston may be said to have given them their
chance, and Mr. Gladstone gave them their _coup de grâce_. The Derby
Administration was summoned into existence because Lord Palmerston
carried his amendment on the Militia Bill, and it 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 Government was an extension
of the Bribery Act, which Lord John Russell had introduced in 1841. A
measure was now passed providing for a searching investigation of
corrupt practices by commissioners appointed by the Crown. The affairs
of New Zealand were also placed on a sound political basis. A General
Election occurred in the 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 personal ascendency
which the Duke of Wellington achieved because of his splendid record as
a soldier, though backed by high personal character, was not thrown on
the side of either liberty or progress when the hero transferred his
services from the camp to the cabinet. As a soldier, Wellington shone
without a rival, but as a statesman he was an obstinate reactionary.
Perhaps his solitary claim to political regard is that he, more than any
other man, wrung from the weak hands of George IV. a reluctant consent
to Catholic Emancipation--a concession which could no longer be refused
with safety, and one which had been delayed for the lifetime of a
generation through rigid adherence in high places to antiquated
prejudices and unreasoning alarm.

The strength of parties in the new Parliament proved to be nearly evenly
balanced. Indeed, the Liberals were only in a majority of sixteen, if
the small but compact phalanx of forty Peelites 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 fond, to borrow his
own phrase, of striking from his own bat, declared in airy fashion that
Lord John had given him with dismissal independence, and, though Lord
Derby offered him a seat in his Cabinet, he was too shrewd and
far-seeing a statesman to accept it. The Liberal party was divided about
Lord Palmerston, and that fact led to vacillation at the polling booths.
Ardent Protestants were disappointed 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 pretensions 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 Bentinck, was fairly seated in the
saddle, and inclined to use both whip and spurs.


In the autobiography recently published of the late Sir William
Gregory[26] 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 will be found the
remarkable assertion that it was nothing but Mr. Disraeli's claim to
lead the Conservative party which prevented Mr. Gladstone from joining
it in 1852.[27] Disraeli's borrowed heroics in his pompous oration in
the House of Commons on the occasion of the death of Wellington, and his
errors in tactics and taste as leader of the House, heightened the
prevailing impression that, even if the result of the General Election
had been different, the Derby Administration was doomed to failure. All
through the autumn the quidnuncs at the clubs were busy predicting the
probable course of events, and more or less absurd rumours ran round the
town concerning the statesmen who were likely to succeed to power in the
event of Derby's resignation. The choice in reality lay between Russell,
Palmerston, and Aberdeen, for Lansdowne was out of health, and therefore
out of the question.

As in a mirror Lady Russell's journal reflects what she calls the alarm
in the Whig camp at the rumour of the intended resignation of the Derby
Cabinet if Disraeli's financial proposals were defeated, and the hurried
consultations which followed between Lord Lansdowne, Lord Aberdeen, 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 brother, the Duke of Bedford, asked him what
course he thought the Queen should adopt in case 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 adopted, but Lord Lansdowne, old and ill, felt powerless to
respond to the summons. Meanwhile, Lord John, who certainly possessed
the strongest claims--a circumstance which was recognised at 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 Peelites, who,
for the moment, in the nice balance of parties, commanded the situation,
would serve under him. He had led the Liberal forces for a long term of
years, both in power and in 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.

  [Sidenote: LORD ABERDEEN]

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. On the day after Disraeli's
defeat Lord Aberdeen met Lord John by chance in the Park, and the
latter, waiving personal ambition, told him that, though he could say
nothing decisive for the moment, he thought he should accept office
under him. On the morrow Lord Aberdeen was summoned to Osborne, and
accepted the task of forming an Administration. Next day her Majesty
wrote to Lord John announcing the fact, and the letter ended with the
following passage: 'The Queen thinks the moment to have arrived when a
popular, efficient, and durable Government could be formed by the
sincere and united efforts of all professing Conservative and Liberal
opinions. The Queen, knowing that this can only be effected by the
patriotic sacrifice of personal interests and feelings to the public,
trusts that Lord John Russell will, as far as he is able, give his
valuable and powerful assistance to the realisation of this object.'
This communication 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, had suffered through the long strain
of office in years which had been marked by famine and rebellion. He had
just begun to revel, to quote his own words, in 'all the delights of
freedom from red boxes, with the privilege of fresh air and mountain


He had already found the recreation of a busy man, and was engrossed in
the preparation of the 'Memoirs and Journal' of his friend, Thomas
Moore. The poet had died in February of that year, and Lord John, with
characteristic goodwill, had undertaken to edit his voluminous papers in
order to help a widow without wounding her pride. In fact, on many
grounds he might reasonably have stood aside, and he certainly would
have done so if personal motives had counted most with him, or if he had
been the self-seeker which some of his detractors have imagined. Here
Lord Macaulay comes to our help with a vivid account of what he terms an
eventful day--one of the dark days before Christmas--on which the
possibility of a Coalition Government under Aberdeen was still doubtful.
Macaulay states that he went to Lansdowne House, on December 20, on a
hasty summons to find its master and Lord John in consultation over the
Queen's letter. He was asked his opinion of the document and duly gave
it. 'Then Lord John said that of course he should try to help Lord
Aberdeen: but how? There were two ways. He might take the lead of the
Commons with the Foreign Office, or he might refuse office, and give his
support from the back benches. I adjured him not to think of this last
course, and I argued it with him during a quarter of an hour with, I
thought, a great flow of thoughts and words. I was encouraged by Lord
Lansdowne, who nodded, smiled, and rubbed his hands at everything I
said. I reminded him that the Duke of Wellington had taken the Foreign
Office after having been at the Treasury, and I quoted his own pretty
speech to the Duke. "You said, Lord John, that we could not all win
battles of Waterloo, but that we might all imitate the old man's
patriotism, sense of duty, and indifference to selfish interests; and
vanities when the public welfare was concerned; and now is the time for
you to make a sacrifice. Your past services and your name give us a
right to expect it." He went away, evidently much impressed by what had
been said, and promising to consult others. When he was gone, Lord
Lansdowne told me that I had come just as opportunely as Blücher did at
Waterloo.'[28] It is only right to state that Lady Russell demurs to
some parts of this 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 Macaulay or Lord Lansdowne to argue him out of the
objection.' Lord John's difficulty was based upon the 'improbability of
agreement in a Cabinet so composed, and therefore the probable evil to
the country.' Letters written by 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 at the time may, however, be
cited. Lady Russell declared that her husband would not mind being
'shoeblack to Lord Aberdeen' if it would serve the country.

The Aberdeen Ministry came into existence just as the year 1852 was
ending. It was, in truth, a strange bit of mosaic work, fashioned with
curious art, as the result of negotiations between the Whigs and the
Peelites which had extended over a period of nearly six months. It
represented the triumph of expediency, but it awakened little enthusiasm
in spite of the much-vaunted ability and experience of its members.
Derby and Disraeli were left out on the one side and 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 all the Talents. The nation rubbed its eyes and wondered
whether good or evil was in store when it saw Peel's lieutenants rowing
in the same boat with Russell. The vanished leader, however, was
responsible for such a strange turn of the wheel, for everyone
recognised that Sir Robert had 'steered 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 resolute convictions. The
Whigs were divided, and with Ireland they were discredited, whilst the
Radicals were still 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
men of commanding personality, outside their own ranks, who were
admitted to the chief seats in the new Cabinet. Russell became Foreign
Secretary, whilst Palmerston took control of the Home Office.


So great was the rush for place that Lord Derby with a smile informed
the Queen that, as so many former Ministers expected a seat, he thought
that less than thirty-two could hardly be the number of the new Cabinet.
Tories of the old school looked on with amazement, and Radicals of the
new with suspicion. All things seemed possible in the excitement of
parties. 'Tom Baring said to me last night,' Greville remarks, '"Can't
you make room for Disraeli in this Coalition Government?" I said: "Why,
will you give him to us?" "Oh yes," he said, "you shall have him with
pleasure."' Great expectations were, however, ruthlessly nipped in the
bud, and the Cabinet, instead of being unwieldy, was uncommonly small,
for it consisted only of thirteen members--an unlucky start, if old
wives' fables are to be believed. Five of Sir Robert Peel's
colleagues--the Premier, the Duke of Newcastle, Sir James Graham, Mr.
Sidney Herbert, and Mr. Gladstone--represented the moderately
progressive views of their old leader. Russell and 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 who was a Liberal abroad and a
Conservative at home was intrusted with the internal affairs of the
nation. The truth was, Lord Palmerston was impossible at the Foreign
Office if 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 in particular.
In fact, if Lord John Russell was for the moment out of the reckoning as
Premier, Lord Palmerston ought unquestionably to have had the reversion
of power. Unfortunately, though growingly popular in the country, he had
rendered himself unwelcome at Court, where Lord Aberdeen, on the
contrary, had long been a trusted adviser.

Even if it be granted that neither Russell nor Palmerston was admissible
as leader, it was a palpable blunder to exclude from Cabinet rank men
of clean-cut convictions like Cobden and Bright. They had a large
following in the country, and had won 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 fail to throw over the imagination of the people. They
were not judged worthy, however, and Milner Gibson, in spite of his
services as a member of the Russell Cabinet, was also debarred from
office; 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 at Court of the
Aberdeen Ministry is recorded in the 'Life of the Prince Consort.' The
Queen regarded the Cabinet as 'the realisation of the country's and our
own most ardent wishes;'[29] and in her Majesty's view the words
'brilliant' and 'strong' described the new Government. Brilliant it
might be, but strong it assuredly was not, for it was pervaded by the
spirit of mutual distrust, and circumstances conspired to accentuate the
wide divergence of opinion which lurked beneath the surface harmony.
However such a union of warring forces might be agreeable to the Queen,
the belief that it realised the 'most ardent wishes' of the nation was
not widely held outside the Court, for 'England,' to borrow Disraeli's
familiar but significant phrase, 'does not love Coalitions.' In the
Aberdeen Cabinet, party interests were banded together in office; but
the vivifying influences of unity of conviction and common sentiment
were absent from its deliberations. After all, as Sir Edward Bulwer
Lytton drily remarked when the inevitable crisis arose, there is 'one
indisputable element of a Coalition Government, and that is that its
members should coalesce.' As a matter of fact, they not only drifted
into war but drifted apart. 'It is a powerful team and will require good
driving,' was the comment of a shrewd political observer. 'There are
some odd tempers and queer ways among them.'


Lord Aberdeen had many virtues, but he was not a good driver, and when
the horses grew restive and kicked over the traces, he lacked nerve,
hesitated, and was lost. Trained for political life at the side of
Pitt,[30] after a distinguished career in diplomacy, which made him
known in all the Courts of Europe, he entered 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 that of Secretary
for Foreign Affairs during Sir Robert's final spell of power in the
years 1841-46. He never sat in the House of Commons, but, though a Tory
peer, he voted for Catholic Emancipation. He swiftly fell into line,
however, with his party, and recorded his vote against the Reform Bill.
He never, perhaps, quite understood the temper of a popular assembly,
for he was a shy, reserved man, sparing in speech and punctilious in
manner. Close association with Wellington and Peel had, of course, done
much to shape his outlook on affairs, and much acquaintance with the
etiquette of foreign Courts had insensibly led him to cultivate the
habit of formal reserve. Born in the same year as Palmerston, the
Premier possessed neither the openness to new ideas nor the vivacity of
his masterful colleague; in fact, Lord Aberdeen at sixty-eight, unlike
Lord Palmerston, was an old man in temperament, as well as conservative,
in the sense of one not given to change. Yet, it is only fair to add
that, if Aberdeen's views of foreign policy were of a somewhat
stereotyped kind, he was, at all events at this period in their careers,
more progressive on home policy than Palmerston, who was too much
inclined not to move for the social welfare of the people before he was

The new Ministry ran well until it was hindered by complications 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 with great ability, but without taking office. It is
important to remember that he had only accepted the Foreign Office under
strong pressure, and as a temporary expedient. It was, however,
understood that he was at liberty at any moment to relinquish the
Foreign Office in favour of Lord Clarendon, if he found the duties too
onerous to discharge in conjunction with the task of leadership in the
Commons. The session of 1853 was rendered memorable by the display of
Mr. Gladstone's skill in finance; and the first Budget of the new
Chancellor of the Exchequer was in every sense in splendid contrast with
the miserable fiasco of the previous year, when Mr. Disraeli was
responsible for proposals which, as Sir George Cornewall Lewis said,
were of a kind that flesh and blood could not stand. The trade of the
country had revived, and, with tranquility, some degree of prosperity
had returned, even to Ireland. Lord John Russell, true to his policy of
religious equality, brought forward the Jewish Disabilities Bill, but
the House of Lords, with equal consistency, threw out the measure. The
Law of Transportation was altered, and a new India Bill was passed,
which threw open the Civil Service to competition. Many financial
reforms were introduced, a new proposal was made for a wider extent of
elementary education, and much legislative activity in a variety of
directions was displayed.


Lord Aberdeen had taken office under pressure and from a sense of duty.
It had few attractions for him, and he looked forward with quiet
satisfaction to release from its cares. Lord Stanmore's authority can be
cited for the statement that in the summer of 1853 his father deemed
that the time had come when he might retire in Lord John Russell's
favour, in accordance with an arrangement which had been made in general
terms when the Cabinet was formed. There were members of the Coalition
Government who were opposed to this step; but Lord Aberdeen anticipated
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 felt it
would be despicable to retreat by the easy method of personal
resignation. There is not the slightest occasion, nor, indeed, is this
the place, to recount the vicissitudes of the Aberdeen Administration in
its baffled struggles against the alternative of war. The achievements
of the Coalition Government, no less than its failures, with much of its
secret history, have already been told with praiseworthy candour and
intimate knowledge by Lord Stanmore, who as a young man acted as private
secretary to his father, Lord Aberdeen, through the stress and storm of
those fateful years. It is therefore only necessary in these pages to
state the broad outlines of the story, and to indicate 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 upon it: 'Aberdeen Prime Minister,
Lord John Russell Minister for Foreign Affairs. Is it possible that this
arrangement should prosper? Can the Liberal policy of Lord John square
with the restrictive policy of Lord Aberdeen? I wish them joy and a safe


[26] _Sir William Gregory, K.C.M.G.: an Autobiography_, edited by Lady
Gregory, pp. 92, 93.

[27] Mr. Gladstone's comment on this statement is that it is interesting
as coming from an acute contemporary observer. At the same time it
expresses an opinion and presents no facts. Mr. Gladstone adds that 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.

[28] _Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay_, by the Right Hon. Sir George
Otto Trevelyan, M.P., vol. ii. p. 340.

[29] Sir Theodore Martin's _Life of the Prince Consort_, vol. ii. p.

[30] Pitt became guardian to the young Lord Haddo in 1792.




     Causes of the Crimean War--Nicholas seizes his opportunity--The
     Secret Memorandum--Napoleon and the susceptibilities of the
     Vatican--Lord Stratford de Redcliffe and the Porte--Prince
     Menschikoff shows his hand--Lord Aberdeen hopes against hope--Lord
     Palmerston's opinion of the crisis--The Vienna Note--Lord John
     grows restive--Sinope arouses England--The deadlock in the Cabinet.

MANY causes conspired to bring about the war in the Crimea, though the
pretext for the quarrel--a 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 Emperor Nicholas. The military revolt in his 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 restless but spasmodic demands for political
reform in Russia. Gloomy and reserved though the Autocrat of All the
Russias was, he recognised that it 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 Austria to settle her quarrel with Hungary, not only appealed
to the pride of Russia, but provided so many outlets for the energy and
ambition of her ruler. It was in the East that Nicholas saw his
opportunity, and his policy was a revival, under the changed conditions
of the times, of that of Peter the Great and Catherine II.

Nicholas had long secretly chafed at the exclusion of his war-ships--by
the provisions of the treaty of 1841--from access through the Black Sea
to the Mediterranean, and he dreamed dreams of Constantinople, and saw
visions of India. Linked to many lawless instincts, there was in the
Emperor's personal character much of the intolerance of the fanatic.
Religion and pride alike made the fact rankle in his breast that so many
of the Sultan's subjects were Sclavs, and professed the Russian form of
Christianity. He was, moreover, astute enough to see that a war which
could be construed by the simple and devout peasantry as an attempt to
uplift the standard of the Cross in the dominions of the Crescent would
appeal at once to the clergy and populace of Holy Russia. Nicholas had
persuaded himself that, with Lord Aberdeen at the head of affairs, and
Palmerston in a place of safety at the Home Office, England was scarcely
in a condition to give practical effect to her traditional jealousy of
Russia. In the weakness of her divided counsels he saw his opportunity.
It had become a fixed idea with the Emperor that Turkey was in a
moribund condition; and neither Orloff nor Nesselrode had been able to
disabuse his mind of the notion.


Everyone is aware that in January 1853 the Emperor told the English
Ambassador, Sir Hamilton Seymour, that Turkey was the 'sick man' of
Europe, and ever since then the phrase has passed current and become
historic. It was often on the lips of Nicholas, for he talked freely,
and sometimes showed so little discretion that Nesselrode once declared,
with fine irony, that the White Czar could not claim to be a
diplomatist. The phrase cannot have startled Lord Aberdeen. It must have
sounded, indeed, like the echo of words which the Emperor had uttered in
London in the summer of 1844. Nicholas, on the occasion of his visit to
England in that year, spoke freely 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
Minister for Foreign Affairs. He told the latter in so many words that
Turkey was a dying man, and did his best to impress the three English
statesmen with the necessity for preparation in view of the approaching
crisis. 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. He protested that he made no claim to an inch
of Turkish soil, but was prepared to dispute the right of anyone else to
an inch of it--a palpable allusion to the French support of Mehemet Ali.
It 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 Philippe then, as for Louis Napoleon afterwards, his
feeling was one of coldness if not of actual disdain. The Emperor
Nicholas won golden opinions amongst all classes during his short stay
in England. Sir Theodore Martin's 'Life of the Prince Consort,' and
especially the letter which is published in its pages from the Queen to
King Leopold, showed the marked impression which was made at Windsor by
his handsome presence, his apparently unstudied confidences, the
simplicity and charm of his manners, and the adroitness of his
well-turned compliments. Whenever the Autocrat of All the Russias
appeared in public, at a military review, or the Opera, or at Ascot, he
received an ovation, and Baron Stockmar, with dry cynicism, has not
failed to record the lavish gifts of 'endless snuff-boxes and large
presents' which made his departure memorable to the Court officials. Out
of this visit grew, though the world knew nothing of it then, the Secret
Memorandum, drawn up by Peel, Wellington, and Aberdeen, and signed by
them as well as by the Emperor himself. This document, though it
actually committed England to nothing more serious than the recognition
in black and white of the desperate straits of the Porte, and the fact
that England and Russia were alike concerned in maintaining the _status
quo_ in Turkey, dwelt significantly on the fact that, in the event of a
crisis in Turkey, Russia and England were to come to an understanding
with each other as to what concerted action they should take. The
agreement already existing between Russia and Austria was significantly
emphasised in the document, and stress was laid on the fact that if
England joined the compact, France would have no alternative but to
accept the decision.

  [Sidenote: A FRIEND AT COURT]

There can be no question that Nicholas attached an exaggerated
importance to this memorandum. It expressed his opinion rather than the
determination of the Peel Administration; but a half-barbaric despot not
unnaturally imagined that when the responsible advisers of the Crown
entered into a secret agreement with him, no matter how vague its terms
might appear when subjected to critical analysis, England and himself
were practically of one mind. When the Coalition Government was formed,
two of the three statesmen, whom the Emperor Nicholas regarded as his
friends at Court, were dead, but the third, in the person of Lord
Aberdeen, had succeeded, by an unexpected turn of the wheel, to the
chief place in the new Ministry. Long before the Imperial visit to
London the Emperor had honoured Lord Aberdeen with his friendship, and,
now that the Foreign Minister of 1844 was the Prime Minister of 1853,
the opportune moment for energetic action seemed to have arrived.
Nicholas, accordingly, now hinted that if the 'sick man' died England
should seize Egypt and Crete, and that the European provinces of Turkey
should be formed into independent states under Russian protection. He
met, however, with no response, for the English Cabinet by this time saw
that the impending collapse of Turkey, on which Nicholas laid such
emphatic stress, was by no means a foregone conclusion. Napoleon and
Palmerston had, moreover, drawn France and England into friendly
alliance. There was no shadow of doubt that the Christian subjects of
Turkey were grossly oppressed, and it is only fair to believe that
Nicholas, as the head of the Greek Church, was honestly anxious to rid
them of such thraldom. At the same time no one imagined that he was
exactly the ruler to expend blood and treasure, in the risks of war, in
the _rôle_ of a Defender of the Faith.

Count Vitzthum doubts whether the Emperor really contemplated the taking
of Constantinople, but it is plain that he meant to crush the Turkish
Empire, and England, knowing that the man had masterful instincts and
ambitious schemes--that suggest, at all events, a passing comparison
with Napoleon Bonaparte--took alarm at his restlessness, and the menace
to India, which it seemed to suggest. 'If we do not stop the Russians on
the Danube,' said Lord John Russell, 'we shall have to stop them on the
Indus.' It is now a matter of common knowledge that, when the Crimean
War began, Nicholas had General Duhamel's scheme before him for an
invasion of India through Asia. Such an advance, it was foreseen, would
cripple England's resources in Europe by compelling her to despatch an
army of defence to the East. It certainly looks, therefore, as if
Russia, when hostilities in the Crimea actually began, was preparing
herself for a sudden descent on Constantinople. Napoleon III., eager to
conciliate the religious susceptibilities of his own subjects, as well
as to gratify the Vatican, wished the Sultan to make the Latin monks the
supreme custodians of the Holy Places. Complications, the issue of which
it was impossible to forecast, appeared inevitable, and for the moment
there seemed only one man who could grapple with the situation at
Constantinople. Lord Palmerston altogether, and Lord John Russell in
part, sympathised with the clamour which arose in the Press for the
return of the Great Elchi to the Porte.


In the entire annals of British diplomacy there is scarcely a more
picturesque or virile figure than that of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe.
Capacity for public affairs ran in the blood of the Cannings, as the
three statues which to-day stand side by side in Westminster Abbey
proudly attest. Those marble memorials represent George Canning, the
great Foreign Minister, who in the famous, if grandiloquent, phrase
'called the New World into existence to redress the balance of the Old;'
his son Charles, Earl Canning, first Viceroy of India; and his cousin,
Stratford Canning, Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, who for a long term
of years sought to quicken into newness of social and political life the
broken and demoralised forces of the Ottoman Empire, and who practically
dictated from Constantinople the policy of England in the East. He was
born in 1786 and died in 1880. He entered the public service as a
_précis_-writer at the Foreign Office, and rose swiftly in the
profession of diplomacy. His acquaintance with Eastern affairs began in
1808, when he was appointed First Secretary to Sir Robert Adair, whom he
succeeded two years later at Constantinople as Minister Plenipotentiary.
The Treaty of Bucharest, which in 1812 brought the war, then in progress
between Russia and Turkey, to an end, was the first of a brilliant
series of diplomatic triumphs, which established his reputation in all
the Councils of Europe, and made him, in Lord Tennyson's words, 'The
voice of England in the East.' After services in Switzerland, in
Washington, and at the Congress of Vienna, Canning, in 1825, returned to
Constantinople with the rank of Ambassador.

He witnessed the overthrow of the Janissaries by Sultan Mahmoud II., and
had his own experience of Turkish atrocities 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 Lord Aberdeen in the early stages of that movement.
Afterwards, he was gazetted Ambassador to St. Petersburg; but the
Emperor Nicholas, who by this time recognised the masterful qualities of
the man, refused to receive him--a conspicuous slight, which Lord
Stratford, who was as proud and irascible as the Czar, never forgave.
Between the years 1842 and 1858 he again filled his old position as
Ambassador to Constantinople, and during those years he won a unique
ascendency--unmatched in the history of diplomacy--over men and
movements in Turkey. He brought about many reforms, and made it his
special concern to watch over the interests of the Christian subjects at
the Porte, who styled 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 Lord Stratford, after his resignation in
1852, should have been summoned back for a further spell of six years'
tenure of power exactly at 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. He was a man of
inflexible integrity, iron will, undeniable moral courage, and
commanding force of character. Yet, for a great Ambassador, he was at
times strangely undiplomatic, whilst the keenness of his political
judgment and forecasts sometimes suffered eclipse through the strength
of his personal antipathies.


Meanwhile, Lord John Russell, who had expressly stipulated 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 man of his views, insisted on being relieved of the
office. The divergent views in the Cabinet on the Eastern Question were
making themselves felt, and Lord Aberdeen's eminently charitable
interpretation of the Russian demands was little to the minds of men of
the stamp of Palmerston and Russell, neither of whom was inclined to pin
his faith so completely to the Czar's assurances. When Parliament met in
February, Lord John quitted the Foreign Office and led the House of
Commons without portfolio. His quick recognition of Mr. Gladstone's
great qualities as a responsible statesman was not the least pleasing
incident of the moment. In April, Lord Aberdeen once more made no secret
of his determination to retire at the end of the session, and this
intimation no doubt had its influence with the more restive of his

When Parliament rose, Lord John Russell's position in the country was
admitted on all hands to be one of renewed strength, for, 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. The
resolution of the Cabinet to send Lord Stratford to Constantinople has
already been stated. He received his instructions on February 25; in
fact, he seems to have dictated them, for Lord Clarendon, who had just
succeeded to the Foreign Office, made no secret of the circumstance that
they were largely borrowed from the Ambassador's own notes. He was told
that he was to proceed first to Paris, and then to Vienna, in order that
he might know the minds of France and Austria on the issues at stake.
Napoleon III. 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 be altered. Lord
Stratford was to warn the Sultan and his advisers that the crisis was
one which required the utmost prudence on their part if peace was to be

The Sultan and his Ministers were practically to be told by Lord
Stratford that they were the authors of their own misfortunes, and that,
if they were to be extricated from them, they must place the 'utmost
confidence in the sincerity and soundness of the advice' that he was
commissioned to give them. He was further to lay stress on palpable
abuses, and to urge the necessity of administrative reforms. 'It
remains,' added Lord Clarendon, 'only for me to say that in the event,
which her Majesty's Government earnestly hope may not arise, of imminent
danger to the existence of the Turkish Government, your Excellency will
in such case despatch a messenger to Malta requesting the Admiral to
hold himself in readiness; 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 by
Ambassadors charged with a difficult mission, but Lord Stratford's
diplomatic visits to Paris and Vienna were unduly prolonged, and
occupied more time than was desirable at such a crisis. He arrived at
Constantinople on April 5, and was received, to his surprise, with a
remarkable personal ovation. In Kinglake's phrase, his return was
regarded as that 'of a king whose realm had been suffered to fall into

The Czar's envoy, Prince Menschikoff, had already been on the scene for
five weeks. If Russia meant peace, the choice of such a representative
was unfortunate. Menschikoff was 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
Foreign Minister of the Porte; and this was interpreted at 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 Chargé d'Affaires, to order the Mediterranean Fleet, then at
Malta, to proceed 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 approved by the Cabinet. The
commotion at Stamboul was not lost upon Napoleon, though he knew that
the English Cabinet was not anxious to precipitate matters. Eager to
display his newly acquired power, he promptly sent instructions to the
French Fleet to proceed to Salamis. Meanwhile Prince Menschikoff, who
had adopted a more conciliatory attitude on the question of the Holy
Places, with the result that negotiations were proceeding
satisfactorily, assumed shortly before the arrival of Lord Stratford a
more defiant manner, and startled the Porte by the sudden announcement
of new demands. He claimed that a formal treaty should be drawn up,
recognising in the most ample, not to say abject, terms, the right of
Russia to establish a Protectorate over the Christian subjects of the
Porte. 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. Acting 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; 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. The Sultan's Ministers, who
interpreted the dramatic return of Lord Stratford to mean that they had
England at their back, declined to accede, and their refusal was
immediately followed by the departure of Prince Menschikoff. Repulsed in
diplomacy, the Czar, on July 2, marched forty thousand troops across the
frontier river, the Pruth, and occupied Moldavia and Wallachia. The
Imperial manifesto stated that it 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 or two later the Foreign Minister saw matters in a different
light, for he used in the House of Lords, in the summer 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 appeased 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 mind, and made both
parties recognise in unmistakeable terms what was her policy. Lord John
Russell had a policy, but no power to enforce it, whilst 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, 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 at the head of affairs, England would not take up arms against
Russia. Lord Aberdeen, to add to the complication, seemed unable to
credit the hostile intentions of the Czar, even after the failure of the
negotiations which followed the despatch of the Vienna Note. Yet as far
back as June 19, Lord John Russell, in a memorandum to his colleagues,
made a clear statement of the position of affairs. 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, we must be prepared to make war on
Russia herself. In that case, he added, we ought to seek the alliance of
France and Austria. France would willingly join; and England and France
together might, if it were worth while, obtain the moral weight, if not
the material support, of Austria in their favour.


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, 'waiting timidly and submissively at the back door,
whilst Russia is violently threatening and arrogantly forcing her way
into the house, is unwise, with a view to a peaceful settlement.' Lord
Aberdeen believed in the 'moderation' of a despot who took no pains to
disguise his sovereign contempt for 'les chiens Turcs.' Lord Palmerston,
on the other hand, made no secret of his opinion that it was the
invariable policy of Russia to push forward her encroachment 'as fast
and 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 resistance,' and then to wait until the next favourable
opportunity arose to steal once more a 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 notorious personal grudge against the Czar, was more than any
other man master of the situation. What that situation had become in the
early autumn of 1853 is pithily expressed in a letter of Sir George
Cornewall Lewis's to Sir Edmund Head: 'Everything is in a perplexed
state at Constantinople. Russia is ashamed to recede, but afraid to
strike. The 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. I think that both parties are
in the wrong--Russia in making unjust demands, Turkey in resisting a
reasonable settlement. War is quite on the cards, but I still persist in
thinking it will be averted, unless some accidental spark fires the

  [Sidenote: THE VIENNA NOTE]

The Vienna Note was badly worded, and it failed as a scheme of
compromise between the Porte and Russia. When it was sent in a draft
form to St. Petersburg the Czar accepted it, doubtless because he saw
that its statements were vague in a sense which might be interpreted to
his advantage. At Constantinople the document swiftly evoked protest,
and the Divan refused to sanction it without alteration. England,
France, and Austria recognised the force of the amendments of Turkey,
and united in urging Russia to 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 declined to accede to the
altered proposals. Lord John deemed that Turkey had a just cause of
complaint, not in the mere fact of the rejection of her alterations to
the Vienna Note, but because they were rejected after they had been
submitted to the Czar. He told Lord Aberdeen that he hoped that Turkey
would reject the new proposals, but he added that that would not wipe
away the shame of their having been made. In a speech at Greenock, on
September 19, Lord John said: 'While we endeavour to maintain peace, I
certainly should be the last to forget that if peace cannot be
maintained with honour, it is no longer peace. It becomes then but a
truce--a precarious truce, to be denounced by others whenever they may
think fit--whenever they may think that an opportunity has occurred to
enforce by arms their unjust demands either upon us or upon our allies.'

England and France refused to press the original Vienna Note on Turkey;
but as Austria and Prussia thought that their reasons for abandoning
negotiations were scarcely of sufficient force, they in turn declined to
adopt the same policy. The concert of Europe was, in fact, broken by
the failure of the 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, and its truth was illustrated at this juncture 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 likely to proceed to the extremity of war. The Sultan, on the
other hand, emboldened by the movements of the French and English
fleets, and still more by the presence and counsels of Lord Stratford,
who was, to all intents and purposes, the master spirit at
Constantinople, trusted--and with good reason as the issue proved--on
the military support of England and France. It 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 the four mediating Powers as to the policy
which it 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 which he came to these conclusions:
'That if Russia will not make peace on fair terms, we must appear in the
field as the auxiliaries of Turkey; that if we are to act in conjunction
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 in what way, requires much further consideration, and concert
possibly with Austria, certainly with France.' He desired not merely to
resist Russian aggression, but also to make it plain to the Porte that
we would in no case support it against its Christian subjects. The
Cabinet was not prepared to adopt such a policy, and Lord John made no
secret of his opinion that Lord Aberdeen's anxiety for peace and
generous attitude toward the Czar were, in reality, provoking war. He
believed that the Prime Minister's vacillation was disastrous in its
influence, and that he ought, therefore, to retire and make way for a
leader with a definite policy. The Danube, for the moment, was the great
barrier to war, and both Russia and Turkey were afraid to cross it. Lord
John believed that energetic measures in Downing Street at this juncture
would have forestalled, and indeed prevented, activity of a 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 prominent statesman, did any subject produce
so much writing. Turkey--perhaps still more than Russia--was eager for
war. Tumults in favour of it had broken out at Constantinople; and, what
was more to the purpose, the finances and internal government of the
country were in a state of confusion. Therefore, when the concert of the
four Powers had been shattered, the Turks saw a better chance of drawing
both England and France into their quarrel. At length, on October 10,
the Porte sent an ultimatum to the commander of the Russian troops which
had invaded Moldavia and Wallachia, demanding that they should fall back
beyond the Pruth within fifteen days. On October 22 the war-ships of
England and France passed the Dardanelles in order to protect and defend
Turkish territory from any Russian attack. The Czar met what was
virtually a declaration of war by asserting that he would neither retire
nor act on the aggressive. Ten days after the expiration of the
stipulated time, Omar Pacha, the Ottoman commander in Bulgaria, having
crossed the Danube, attacked and vanquished 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. The Russian fleet left Sebastopol, and, sailing into the
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 men.

A significant light is thrown on the crisis in Sir Theodore Martin's
'Life of the Prince Consort,'[32] where it is stated that the Czar
addressed an autograph letter to the Queen, 'full of surprise that there
should be any misunderstanding between her Majesty's Government and his
own as to the affairs of Turkey, and appealing to her Majesty's "good
faith" and "wisdom" to decide between them.' This letter, it is 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 and in the judgment of those best qualified to advise her, 'not
susceptible of the extended meaning' put upon it. The 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 with an admission that the Czar's intentions towards Turkey
were 'friendly and disinterested.' Sir Theodore Martin states that this
letter, dated November 14, was submitted to Lord Aberdeen and Lord
Clarendon, and was by them 'thought excellent.' Scarcely more than a
fortnight elapsed when Russia's 'friendly and disinterested' feelings
were displayed in her cruel onslaught at Sinope, and the statesmen who
had prompted her Majesty's reply received a rude awakening. It became
plain in the light of accomplished events that the wisdom which is
profitable to direct had deserted her Majesty's chief advisers.


Lord Aberdeen always made haste slowly, and when other statesmen had
abandoned hope he continued to lay stress on the resources of diplomacy.
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 beginning to
waver. He distrusted Lord Stratford, and yet he refused to recall him;
he talked about the 'indignity' which Omar Pacha had inflicted on the
Czar by his summons to evacuate the Principalities, although nothing
could justify the presence of the Russian troops in Moldavia and
Wallachia, and they had held their ground there for the space of three
months. Even Lord Clarendon admitted that the Turks had displayed no
lack of patience under the far greater insult of invasion. The
'indignity' of notice to quit was, in fact, inevitable if the Sultan was
to preserve a vestige of self-respect. Lord Aberdeen was calmly drafting
fresh plans of pacification, requiring the Porte to abstain from
hostilities 'during the progress of the negotiations undertaken on its
behalf'[33] a fortnight after Turkey had actually sent her ultimatum to
Russia; and the battle of Oltenitza was an affair of history before the
despatch reached Constantinople. Lord Stanmore is inclined to blame Lord
John Russell for giving the Turks a loophole of escape by inserting in
the document the qualifying words 'for a reasonable time;' but his
argument falls to the ground when it is remembered that this despatch
was written on October 24, whilst the Turkish ultimatum had been sent to
Russia on October 10. Sinope was a bitter surprise to Lord Aberdeen, and
the 'furious passion' which Lord Stanmore declares it aroused in England
went far to discredit the Coalition Ministry.

Unfortunately, all through the crisis Lord Aberdeen appears to have
attached unmerited weight to the advice of the weak members of his own
Cabinet--men who, to borrow a phrase of Lord Palmerston's, were
'inconvenient 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 other man, Sir James Graham, now almost a
forgotten statesman, 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 Consort to Baron
Stockmar, 'has made the people furious; it is ascribed to Aberdeen
having been bought over by Russia.'[34] The rumour which the Prince
mentions about Lord Aberdeen was, of course, absurd, and everyone who
knew the lofty personal character of the Prime Minister laughed it at
once to scorn. Nevertheless, the fact that the Prince Consort should
have thought such a statement worth chronicling is in itself
significant; and though no man of brains in the country held such a
view, at least two-thirds of the educated opinion of the nation
regarded the Prime Minister with increasing disfavour, as a man who had
dragged England, through humiliating negotiations, to the verge of war.


The destruction of the Turkish squadron at Sinope under the shadow of
our fleet touched the pride of England to the quick. The nation lost all
patience--as the contemptuous cartoons of 'Punch' show--with the endless
parleyings of Aberdeen, and a loud and passionate cry for war filled the
country. Lord Stanmore thinks that too much was made in the excitement
of the 'massacre' of the Turkish sailors, and perhaps he is right.
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--a naval engagement
which cannot be described as distinguished for valour. Perhaps the
indignation might not have been so deep and widespread if the English
people had not recognised 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 'private
and verbal communications, given in all honesty, but tinctured by the
personal bias of the Prime Minister,' to Baron Brunnow, which were doing
'irreparable mischief' at St. Petersburg.[35] The nation did not relish
Lord Aberdeen's personal friendship with the Czar, and now that Russia
was beginning to show herself in her true colours, prejudice against a
Prime Minister who had sought to explain away difficulties was natural,
however unreasonable. The English people, moreover, had not forgotten
that Russia ruthlessly crippled Poland in 1831, and lent her aid to the
subjugation of Hungary in 1849. If the Sultan was the Lord of Misrule to
English imagination in 1853, the Czar was the embodiment of despotism,
and even less amenable to the modern ideas of liberty and toleration.
The Manchester School, on the other hand, had provoked a reaction. The
Great Exhibition had set a large section of the community dreaming, not
of the millennium, but of Waterloo. Russia was looked upon as a standing
menace to England's widening heritage in the East, and neither the logic
of 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 letter Lord Aberdeen ought either to
have adopted a clean-cut policy, which neither Russia nor Turkey could
mistake, or else have carried out his twice-repeated purpose of
resignation. Everyone admits that from the outset his position was one
of great difficulty, but he increased it greatly by his practical
refusal to grasp the nettle. He was not ambitious of power, but, on the
contrary, longed for his quiet retreat at Haddo. He was on the verge of
seventy and was essentially a man of few, but scholarly tastes. There
can be no doubt that considerable pressure was put upon him both by the
Court and the majority of his colleagues in the Cabinet, and this, with
the changed aspect of affairs, and the mistaken sense of duty with
regard to them, determined his course. His decision 'not to run away
from the Eastern complication,' as Prince Albert worded it, placed both
himself and Lord John Russell in somewhat of a false position. If Lord
Aberdeen had followed his own inclination there is every likelihood that
he would have carried out his arrangement to retire in favour of Lord
John. His colleagues were not in the dark in regard to this arrangement
when they joined the Ministry, and if not prepared to fall in with the
proposal, they ought to have stated their objections at the time. There
is some conflict of opinion as to the terms of the arrangement; but even
if we take it to be what Lord Aberdeen's own friends represent it--not
an absolute but a conditional pledge to retire--Lord Aberdeen was surely
bound to ascertain at the outset whether the condition was one that
could possibly be fulfilled. 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
into the Cabinet by assurances given by the Prime Minister alone, but
which he was powerless to fulfil without the co-operation of his
colleagues. 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 power of
either of them would mean the adoption of a spirited foreign policy.


[31] _Letters of Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Bart._, edited by his
brother, Canon Frankland Lewis, p. 270.

[32] Sir Theodore Martin's _Life of the Prince Consort_, ii. 530, 531.

[33] Lord Stanmore's _Earl of Aberdeen_, p. 234.

[34] Sir Theodore Martin's _Life of the Prince Consort_, ii. 534.

[35] _Life of Lord Palmerston_, by the Hon. Evelyn Ashley, ii. 282.




     A 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
     Sebastopol--Procrastination and its deadly work--The
     Alma--Inkerman--The Duke's blunder--Famine and frost in the

ALL through the autumn of 1854 Lord John Russell was busy with a scheme
of Parliamentary reform. The Government 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 announced that the question would be introduced to Parliament
in the spring, and the Cabinet, therefore, took the subject into
consideration when it resumed its meetings in November. A special
committee was appointed, and Lord John placed his proposals before it.
Every borough with less than three hundred electors was to be
disfranchised, and towns with less than five hundred electors were to
lose one of their representatives. Seventy seats, he argued, would be
gained by this plan, and he suggested that they should be divided
between the largest counties and the great towns. He proposed greatly
diminishing the qualifications alike in counties and boroughs. He laid
stress on the 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 had no relish for
the subject. His predilections, in fact, leaned in quite the opposite
direction. If his manner was genial, his temper was conservative, and he
was inclined to smile, if not to scoff, at politicians who met such
problems of government with other than a light heart. He was therefore
inclined at this juncture to adopt Lord Melbourne's attitude, and to
meet Lord John with that statesman's famous remark, 'Why can't you let
it alone?'


Devotion to one idea, declared Goethe, is the condition of all
greatness. 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 Palmerston 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 measure which
promised to throw into relief his own stationary position on one of the
pet subjects of the party of progress. Whilst the Cabinet was still
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. Doubtless such a step was determined
by mixed motives. Objections to Lord John's proposals for Parliamentary
reform at best only half explains the position, and behind such
repugnance lay hostility to Lord Aberdeen's vacillating policy on the
Eastern Question. The nation accepted Lord Palmerston's resignation in a
matter-of-fact manner, which probably surprised no one more than
himself. The Derbyites, oddly enough, made the most pother about the
affair; but a man on the verge of seventy, and especially one like Lord
Palmerston with few illusions, is apt to regard the task of forming a
new party as a game which is not worth the candle. The truth is,
Palmerston, like other clever men before and since, miscalculated his
strength, and on Christmas Eve was back again in office. He had received
assurances from his colleagues that the Reform proposals were still open
to discussion; and, as the Cabinet had taken in his absence a decision
on Turkish affairs which was in harmony with the views that he had
persistently advocated, he determined to withdraw his resignation.

The new year opened darkly with actual war, and with rumours of it on a
far more terrible scale. 'My expectation is,' wrote Sir G. C. Lewis on
January 4, 'that before long England and France will be at war with
Russia; and as long as war lasts all means of internal improvement must
slumber. The Reform Bill must remain on the shelf--if there is war; for
a Government about to ask for large supplies and to impose war taxes,
cannot propose a measure which is sure to create dispersion and to
divide parties.' France, in spite of the action of the Emperor over the
question of the Holy Places, had not displayed much interest in the
quarrel; but a contemptuous retort which Nicholas made to Napoleon
III.'s final letter in the interests of peace put an end to the national
indifference. The words 'Russia will prove herself in 1854 what she was
in 1812,' cut the national pride to the quick, and the cry on that side
of the Channel as on this, was for war with Russia. The Fleets were
ordered to enter the Black Sea, and on February 27 England and France
sent a joint ultimatum to St. Petersburg, demanding that the Czar's
troops should evacuate the Principalities by April 30.


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. The second reading of the
measure was fixed for the middle of March; but the increasing strain of
the Eastern Question led Lord John to announce at the beginning of that
month that the Government had decided not to bring forward the second
reading until the end of April. This announcement led to a 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 to proceed with the measure. Stung into sudden
indignation by the taunt, Lord John promptly expressed his disdain of
the opinion of a politician who had no claim whatever to speak in the
name of Reform, and went on, with a touch of pardonable pride, to refer
to his own lifelong association with the cause. When he turned to his
opponent with the words, 'Does the honourable gentleman think he has a
right to treat me----,' the House backed and buried his protest with its
generous cheers. Lord John Russell, in power or out of it, was always
jealous for the reputation of the responsible statesmen of the nation,
and he did not let this occasion pass without laying emphasis on that
point. 'I should be ashamed of myself if I were to prefer a concern for
my own personal reputation to that which I understood to be for the
interests of my country. But it seems to me that the character of the
men who rule this country--whether they be at the moment in office or
in opposition--is a matter of the utmost interest to the people of this
country, and that it is of paramount importance that full confidence
should be reposed in their character. It is, in fact, on the confidence
of the people in the character of public men that the security of this
country in a great degree depends.'

A few days later it became plain that war was at hand, and a strong
feeling prevailed in Parliament that the question of Reform ought to be
shelved for a year. Lord John's position was one of great difficulty. He
felt himself pledged on the subject, and, though recognising that a
great and unexpected emergency had arisen, which altered the whole
political outlook, he knew that with Lord Palmerston and others in the
Ministry the question was not one of time, but of principle. The sinews
of war had to be provided. Mr. Gladstone proposed to double the income
tax, and Lord John urged that a period of increased taxation ought to be
a period of widened political franchise. He therefore was averse to
postponement, unless in a position to assure his Radical following that
the Government recognised that it was committed to the question. Lord
Aberdeen was only less anxious than Lord John for the adoption of a
progressive and enlightened home policy; in fact, his attitude in his
closing years 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 Lansdowne bluntly declared that they meant to retire
from office if the Government went forward with the Bill.

  [Sidenote: 'GOD DEFEND THE RIGHT']

Lord John felt that he could not withdraw the Bill unconditionally, and
therefore resignation seemed the only honourable course which was left.
After deliberate consideration he could see no other choice in the
matter, and, 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
first rank, who was not anxious for peace at any price. Lord John's
position in the country at the moment rendered it probable that a
quarrel with 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. A
recent speech, delivered when Nicholas had recalled his Ambassador from
London, had caught, moreover, the sympathies of all classes of the
community. 'For my part, if most unexpectedly the Emperor of Russia
should recede from his former demands, we shall all rejoice to be spared
the pain, the efforts, and the burdens of war. But if peace is no longer
consistent with our duty to 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 to genius, and
Lord John became the hero of the hour. One verse out of a spirited poem
entitled 'God defend the Right,' which appeared in 'Punch' at the time,
may be quoted in passing, especially as it shows the patriotic fervour
and the personal enthusiasm which Lord John Russell's speech evoked in
the country:

   'From humble homes and stately domes the cry goes through the air,
     With the loftiness of challenge, the lowliness of prayer,
   Honour to him who spoke the words in the Council of the Land,
     To find faith in old England's heart, force in old England's hand.'

A week before the appearance of these lines, the cartoon in 'Punch'
represented Lord Aberdeen, significantly arrayed in Windsor uniform,
vainly attempting to hold back the struggling British lion, which sees
the Russian bear in the distance, and exclaiming, 'I _must_ let him go.'

Lord John's resignation meant much, perhaps everything, to the
Government. Great pressure was put upon him. The Queen and the Cabinet
alike urged him to abandon his intention of retirement; 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 11
withdrew his resignation, and received an ovation in the House of
Commons when he made it plain that he was willing to thrust personal
considerations aside in the interests of his colleagues, and 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"--the noble Lord paused, choked with the violence of his
own emotions. Then arose a cheer from both sides of the House, loud and
long continued.... Every eye was glistening with sudden moisture, and
every heart was softened with genuine sympathy.... The effect was
electric. Old prejudices long pent up, grudges, accumulated discontents,
uncharitable suspicions, all melted away before that sudden outburst of
a troubled heart.'[36]


Throughout the spring diplomacy was still busy, though it became every
week more and more apparent that hostilities were inevitable. Lord
Stratford achieved, what Lord Clarendon 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 when Austria moved in
February fifty thousand men to the frontier of the territory which
Russia had seized. When the Russian troops, a few months later,
evacuated the Principalities, Austria and Prussia, whose alliance had
been formed in defence of the interests of Germany, were no longer
directly concerned in the quarrel. Thus the war which England and France
declared at the end of March against Russia was one which they were left
to pursue, with the help of Turkey, alone. Lord John Russell urged that
it should be short 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 more be
added to the Militia. He laid stress on the importance of securing the
active aid of Austria, for he thought that her co-operation might make
the difference between a long and a short war. He proposed that Sweden
should be drawn into the Alliance, with the view of striking a blow at
Russia in the North as well as on her southern frontier. He also
proposed that English and French troops should be massed at
Constantinople, and submitted a plan of operations for the consideration
of the Cabinet.

Lord John knew perfectly well that radical changes were imperative in
the administration of the Army. The Secretary for War was, oddly
enough, Secretary for the Colonies as well, and there was also a
Secretary at War, who controlled the finances at the bidding of the
Commander-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 giving the Minister who held
the former post undisputed control over all branches of the executive.

It was perhaps an undesigned coincidence, but none the less unfortunate,
that the statesmen in the Aberdeen Government who were directly
concerned with the war were former colleagues of Sir Robert Peel. Lord
Aberdeen's repugnance to hostilities with Russia was so notorious that
the other Peelites in the Cabinet fell 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 fine distinctions. The
Duke of Newcastle and his friend, Mr. Sidney Herbert, were regarded,
perhaps unjustly, as lukewarm about the approaching campaign; but it was
upon the former that the brunt of public censure ultimately fell. The
Duke was Secretary for War and the Colonies. It was an odd combination
of offices which had existed for more than half a century. The tradition
is that it had been brought about in order that the Secretary for the
Colonies, who at the beginning of the century had comparatively little
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; but the Duke was adverse to the proposed change. It was,
however, brought about in the early summer, and the Duke was given his
choice of the two posts. He decided to relinquish the Colonies, and thus
the burden of the approaching conflict fell upon him by his own
deliberate act. Sir George Grey was appointed to the vacant office. The
Duke of Newcastle's ambition outstripped his ability, and the choice
which he made was disastrous both to himself and to the nation. Because
some men are born great, they have greatness of another kind thrust upon
them; and too often it happens that responsibility makes plain the lack
of capacity, which the glamour neither of rank nor of place can long
conceal. The Duke of Newcastle was born to greatness--for in the middle
of the century the highest rank in the Peerage counted for more in
politics than it does to-day--but he certainly did not achieve it as War

There is no need to relate here the more than twice-told story of the
Crimean War. Its incidents have been described by historians and
soldiers; and, of late, gallant officers who took part in it have
retraced its course and revived its memories. In one sense it is a
glorious chapter in the annals of the Queen's reign, and yet there are
circumstances connected with it which every Englishman, worthy of the
name, would gladly forget. Although the nation did not take up arms with
a light heart, its judgment was clouded by passion; and the first great
war since Waterloo caught the imagination of the people, especially as
Lord Raglan, one of the old Peninsular heroes, was in command of the
Army of Invasion. England and France were not satisfied merely to
blockade the Black Sea and crush the commerce of Russia. They determined
to strike at the heart of the Czar's power in the East, and therefore
the Allies made a dash at the great arsenal and fort of Sebastopol. It
did not enter into their reckoning that there might be a protracted
siege. What they anticipated was a swift march, a sudden attack, and the
capture of the stronghold by bombardment. The allied forces--25,000
English soldiers, 23,000 French, and about 5,000 Turks--landed in the
Crimea in September, 1854, and stormed the heights of the Alma on the
20th of that month. Then they hesitated, and their chance of reducing
Sebastopol that autumn was lost. 'I have been very slow to enter into
this war,' said Lord Aberdeen to an alderman at a banquet in the City.
'Yes,' was the brusque retort, 'and you will be equally slow to get out
of it.'


Divided counsels prevailed in the camp as well as in the Cabinet.
Cholera attacked the troops, and stores began to fail. Prince
Menschikoff, defeated at 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 marching on Sebastopol from
the southern instead of the northern side of the harbour, and this gave
time to the enemy to receive strong reinforcements, with the result that
120,000 men were massed behind the Russian fortifications. Meanwhile a
rumour that Sebastopol had fallen awakened short-lived rejoicings in
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 virtually at an end. The Emperor Napoleon announced the imaginary
victory of their comrades in arms to his assembled troops. Even Mr.
Gladstone was deceived for the moment, and there is a letter of his in
existence to one of the most prominent of his colleagues, full of
congratulation at such a result. 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 indecisive battle of Balaclava, which was
for ever rendered memorable by the useless but superb charge of the
Light Brigade. Less than a fortnight later, on November 5, the Russians
renewed the attack, and took the English by surprise. A desperate
hand-to-hand struggle against overwhelming odds ensued. Then the French
came to the aid of the English troops, and the battle of Inkerman was

As the winter approached, the position of 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
troops, and wrecked more than a score of ships, which were carrying
stores of ammunition and clothing. As the winter 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 been despatched to the Crimea in the summer,
and, as no one imagined that the campaign would last beyond the early
autumn, the brave fellows 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 slowly to the terrible nature of the
crisis. Lord John Russell had made his protest months before against the
dilatory action of that department, and, though he knew that personal
odium was sure to follow, endeavoured at the eleventh hour to persuade
Lord Aberdeen to take decisive action. 'We are in the midst of a great
war,' were his words to the Premier on November 17. 'In order to carry
on that war with efficiency, either the Prime Minister must be
constantly urging, hastening, completing the military preparations, or
the Minister of War must be strong enough to control other departments.'
He went on to contend that the Secretary of State for War ought to be in
the House of Commons, and that he ought, moreover, to be a man who
carried weight in that assembly, and who brought to its 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 the finances of the Army, and in independence of the Secretary for
the War Department. Lord John replied 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,' and added, 'neither is the case under the present
_régime_.' 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 of Newcastle
in the Lords made a lame defence, and his monotonous and inconclusive
speech lasted for the space of three hours. 'The House went to sleep
after the first half hour,' was the cynical 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 men who, he frankly
admitted, were his superiors in ability. However that may be, the Duke
of Newcastle ignominiously failed, at 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 made on the military resources of the nation. Lord
Hardinge, who on the death of the Duke of Wellington had succeeded to
the post of Commander-in-Chief, assured Lord Malmesbury in January 1855
that the Duke of Newcastle had never consulted him on any subject
connected with the war. He added, with considerable heat, that not a
single despatch had been submitted to him; in fact, he had been left to
gather what the War Minister was doing through the published statements
in the newspapers.

The Duke of Newcastle was a sensible, well-intentioned man, but allowed
himself to be involved in the management of the details of his office,
instead of originating a policy and directing the broad course of
affairs with vigour and determination. He displayed a degree of industry
during the crisis which was praiseworthy in itself, and quite phenomenal
in the most exalted branch of the Peerage, but he lacked the power of
initiative, and had not sufficient force and decision of character to
choose the right men for the emergency.

The Cabinet might falter and the War Office dawdle, the faith of the
soldiers in the authorities might be shaken and their 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 Nightingale, and the nurses who laboured at her side in the
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.

Before Parliament met in December, Lord John Russell, in despair of
bringing matters to a practical issue, informed his colleagues that,
though he was willing to remain in the Cabinet, and to act as Leader of
the House during the short session before Christmas, it was his
intention to relinquish office at the close of the year. The objection
was raised that it was unconstitutional for him to meet Parliament in a
responsible position if he had arrived at this fixed 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, which Mr. Walpole
has printed, speak for themselves.[37] It will be seen that Lord John
once more insisted that the Secretary of State for the War Department
ought immediately to be invested with all the more important functions
hitherto exercised by the Secretary at War, and he again laid stress on
the necessity in such a crisis that the War Minister should be a member
of the House of Commons. He complained that, though he was responsible
in the Commons, Lord Aberdeen did not treat him with the confidence
which alone could enable a Leader of the House to carry on the business
of the Government with satisfaction. He declared that Lord Grey treated
Lord Althorp in a different fashion, and that Lord Melbourne, to bring
the matter nearer home, had shown greater consideration towards himself.
He added that he felt absolved from the duty of defending acts and
appointments upon which he had not been consulted.



Lord Lansdowne succeeded for the moment in patching up an unsatisfactory
peace, but it 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 in pithy and direct terms
the privations of the soldiers, and the mortality amongst men and
horses, which was directly due to hunger and neglect. He shows that
between the end of September and the middle of November there was at
least six weeks when all kinds of supplies might have been landed at
Balaclava, and he points out that the stores only needed to be carried
seven or eight miles to reach the most distant division of the Army. He
protested that there had been great mismanagement, and added: 'Soldiers
cannot fight unless they are well fed.' He stated that he understood
Lord Raglan had written home at the beginning of October to say that, if
the 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, however, passed, and winter in
its most terrible form had settled 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 commissariat.
'There appears,' concludes Lord John, 'a want of concert among the
different departments. When the Navy forward supplies, there is no
military authority to receive them; when the military wish to unload a
ship, they find that the naval authority has already ordered it away.
Lord Raglan and Sir Edmund Lyons should be asked to concert between them
the mode 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 welfare of the
Army. Lord Raglan should also be informed exactly of the amount of
reinforcements ordered to the Crimea, and at what time he may expect
them. Having furnished him with all the force in men and material which
the Government can send him, the Government is entitled to expect from
him in return his opinion as to what can be done by the allied armies to
restore the strength and efficiency of the armies for the next campaign.
Probably the troops first sent over will require four months' rest
before they will be able to move against an enemy.' Procrastination was,
however, to have its perfect work, and Lord John, chilled and indignant,
told Lord Aberdeen on January 3 that nothing could be less satisfactory
than the result of the recent Cabinets. 'Unless,' he added, 'you will
direct measures, I see no hope for the efficient prosecution of the
war;' for by this time it was perfectly useless, he saw, to urge on Lord
Aberdeen the claims of Lord Palmerston.


[36] _Life of Edward Miall, M.P._, by A. Miall, p. 179.

[37] _Life of Lord John Russell_, by Spencer Walpole, vol. ii. 232-235.




     Blunders at home and abroad--Roebuck's motion--'General Février
     turns traitor'--France and the Crimea--Lord John at Vienna--The
     pride of the nation is touched--Napoleon's visit to Windsor--Lord
     John's retirement--The fall of Sebastopol--The Treaty of Paris.

PARLIAMENT met on January 23, and the general indignation at once found
expression in Mr. Roebuck's motion--the notice of which was cheered by
Radicals and Tories alike--to 'inquire into the condition of our Army
before Sebastopol, and into the conduct of those Departments of the
Government whose duty it has been to minister to the wants of that
Army.' Lord John, in view of the blunders at home and abroad, did not
see how such a motion was to be resisted, and at once tendered to Lord
Aberdeen his resignation. His protests, pointed and energetic though
they had been, had met with no practical response. Even the reasonable
request that the War Minister should be in the Commons to defend his own
department had passed unheeded. Peelites, like Sir James Graham and Mr.
Sidney Herbert, might make the best of a bad case, but Lord John felt
that he could not honestly defend in Parliament a course of action which
he had again and again attacked in the Cabinet. Doubtless it would have
been better both for himself and for his colleagues if he had adhered
to his earlier intention of resigning; and his dramatic retreat at this
juncture unquestionably gave a handle to his adversaries. Though
prompted by conscientious motives, sudden flight, in the face of what
was, to all intents and purposes, a vote of censure, was a grave
mistake. Not unnaturally, such a step was regarded as a bid for personal
power at the expense of his colleagues. It certainly placed the Cabinet
in a most embarrassing position, and it is easy to understand the
irritation which it awakened. In fact, it led those who were determined
to put the worst possible construction on Lord John's action to hint
that he wished to rid himself of responsibility and to stand clear of
his colleagues, so that when the nation grew tired of the war he might
return to office and make peace. Nothing could well have been further
from the truth.

  [Sidenote: ROEBUCK'S MOTION]

Lord John's retirement was certainly inopportune; but it is almost
needless to add--now that it is possible to review his whole career, as
well as all the circumstances which marked this crisis in it--that he
was not actuated by a self-seeking spirit. Looking back in after life,
Lord John frankly admitted that he had committed an error in resigning
office under Lord Aberdeen at the time and in the manner in which he did
it. 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: 'I had served under Lord Grey and Lord Melbourne
before I became Prime Minister, and I served under Lord Palmerston after
I had been Prime Minister. In no one of these cases did I find any
difficulty in allying subordination with due counsel and co-operation.
But, as it is proverbially said, "Where there is a will there is a way,"
so in political affairs the converse is true, "Where there is no will
there is no way."' He explained his position in a personal statement in
the House of Commons on the night of Mr. Roebuck's motion. 'I had to
consider whether I 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 I can tell you that such arrangements have
been made--that a man of such vigour and efficiency has taken the
conduct of the War Department, with such a consolidation of offices as
to enable him to have the entire control of the whole of the War
Offices--so that any supply may be immediately furnished, and any abuse
instantly remedied." I felt I could not honestly make such a
declaration; I therefore felt that I could come only to one conclusion,
and that as I could not resist inquiry--by giving the only assurances
which I thought sufficient to prevent it--my duty was not to remain any
longer a member of the Government.' In the course of a powerful speech
Lord John added that he would always look back with pride on his
association with many measures of the Aberdeen Government, and more
particularly with the great financial 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 was refuted by the fact that they had
consented to serve in a Coalition Government. 'I believe that opinion to
have been unjust, and I think that the Whig party during the last two
years have fully justified the opinion I entertained. I will venture to
say that no set of men ever behaved with greater honour or with more
disinterested patriotism than those who have supported the Government
of the Earl of Aberdeen. It is my pride, and it will ever be my pride to
the last day of my life, to have belonged to a party which, as I
consider, upholds the true principles of freedom; and it will ever be my
constant endeavour to preserve the principles and to tread in the paths
which the Whig party have laid down for the guidance of their conduct.'
Lord John made no attempt to disguise the gravity 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 is something, with all the
official knowledge to which I have had access, that to me is
inexplicable in the state of our army. If I had been told, as a reason
against the expedition to the Crimea last year, that your troops would
be seven miles from the sea, and that--at that seven miles'
distance--they would be in want of food, of clothing, 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 as entirely fanciful
and absurd. We are all, however, forced to confess the notoriety of that
melancholy state of things.' Three days later, after a protracted and
heated debate, Mr. Roebuck's motion was carried in a House of 453
members by the sweeping majority of 157. 'The division was curious,'
wrote Greville. 'Some seventy or eighty Whigs, ordinary supporters of
Government, voted against them, and all the Tories except about six or
seven.' There was no mistaking the mandate either of Parliament or of
the people. Lord Aberdeen on the following day went down to Windsor and
laid his resignation before the Queen, and in this sorry fashion the
Coalition Government ignominiously collapsed, with hardly an expression
of regret and scarcely a claim to remembrance.

The Queen's choice fell upon Lord Derby, but his efforts to form an
Administration proved unavailing. Lord Lansdowne was next summoned, and
he suggested that Lord John Russell should be sent for, but in his case,
also, sufficient promises of support were not forthcoming. In the end
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 the new
Cabinet. Lord Palmerston knew the feeling of the country, and was not
afraid to face it, and, therefore, determined 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 G. C. Lewis succeeded
Mr. Gladstone as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Sir Charles Wood took
Sir James Graham's vacant place at the Admiralty.


Changes of a more momentous character quickly followed. Early in the
winter, when tidings of the sufferings of the Allies reached St.
Petersburg, the Emperor Nicholas declared, with grim humour, that there
were two generals who were about to fight for him, 'Janvier et Février;'
but the opening month of the year brought terrible privations to the
Russian reinforcements as they struggled painfully along the rough
winter roads on the long march to the Crimea. The Czar lost a quarter of
a million of men before the war ended, and a vast 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 Turks touched the pride of Nicholas to
the quick, 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. The irony of the
situation was reflected with sombre and dramatic realism in a political
cartoon which appeared in 'Punch.' It represented a skeleton in armour,
laying an icy hand, amid the falling snow, on the prostrate Czar's
heart. The picture--one of the most powerful that has ever appeared,
even in this remarkable mirror of the times--was entitled, 'General
Février turned Traitor,' and underneath was the dead Emperor's cruel
boast, 'Russia has two generals on whom she can confide--Generals
Janvier and Février.' Prior to the resignation of the Peelites the
second Congress of Vienna assembled, and Lord John Russell attended it
as a plenipotentiary for 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 all control over
Moldavia, Wallachia, and Servia; that the new Czar, Alexander II.,
should surrender his claim to command the entrance of the Danube; that
all treaties should be annulled which gave Russia supremacy in the Black
Sea; and that she should dismiss her pretensions to an exclusive right
to protect in her own fashion the Christians in the Ottoman Empire.
Nicholas, though at one time favourable to this scheme as a basis of
peace, eventually fell back on the assertion that he would not consent
to any limitation of his naval power in the Black Sea. Though the
parleyings at Vienna after his death were protracted, the old difficulty
asserted itself again, 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 that
the negotiations were not regarded as serious at Constantinople. Indeed,
he had, in Mr. Spencer Walpole's words, 'reason to suspect that the
absence of a properly credited Turk was not due to the dilatory
character of the Porte alone but to the perverse action of Lord
Stratford de Redcliffe.'[38] Lord Clarendon did not hesitate to declare
that Lord Stratford was inclined to thwart any business which was not
carried on in Constantinople, and the English Ambassador kept neither
Lord John in Vienna nor the Cabinet in Downing Street acquainted with
the views of the Porte. Lord John declared that the Turkish
representative at Vienna, from whom he expected information about the
affairs of his own country, was 'by nature incompetent, and by
instruction silent.' Two schemes, in regard to the point which was
chiefly in dispute, were before the Congress; they are best stated in
Lord John's own words: 'One, called limitation, proposed that only four
ships of the line should be maintained in the Black Sea by Russia, and
two each by the allies of Turkey. The other mode, proposed by M. Drouyn
de Lhuys, contemplated a much further reduction of force--namely, to
eight or ten light vessels, intended solely to protect commerce from
pirates and perform the police of the coast.' Although a great part of
the Russian fleet was at the bottom of the sea, 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; that any attempt to evade this limitation should be interpreted as
a _casus belli_, by France, England, and Austria, which were to form a
triple treaty of alliance to defend the integrity and independence of
Turkey in case of aggression. Lord Palmerston believed, to borrow his
own phrase, that Austria was playing a treacherous game, but that was
not the opinion at the moment either of Lord John Russell or of M.
Drouyn de Lhuys. They appear to have thought that the league of Austria
with England and France to resist aggression upon Turkey would prove a
sufficient check on Russian ambition, and did not lay stress enough on
the objections, which at once suggested themselves both in London and
Paris. The Prince Consort put the case against Count Buol's scheme in a
nutshell: 'The proposal of Austria to engage to make war when the
Russian armaments should appear to have become excessive is of no kind
of value to the belligerents, who do not wish to establish a case for
which to make war hereafter, but to obtain a security upon which they
can conclude peace now.' Lord John Russell, in a confidential interview
with Count Buol, declared that he was prepared to recommend the English
Cabinet to accept the Austrian proposals. It seemed to him that, if
Russia was willing to accept the compromise and to abandon the attitude
which had led to the war, the presence of the Allies in the Crimea was
scarcely justifiable. M. Drouyn de Lhuys took the same view, and both
plenipotentiaries hastened back to urge acquiescence in proposals which
seemed to promise the termination of a war in which, with little result,
blood and treasure had already been lavishly expended.

Lord Palmerston and Lord Clarendon, backed by popular sentiment, refused
to see in Russia's stubborn demand about her fleet in the Black Sea
other than a perpetual menace to Turkey. They argued that England had
made too heavy a sacrifice to patch up in this fashion an inglorious and
doubtful peace. The attitude of Napoleon III. did more than anything
else to confirm this decision. The war in the Crimea had never been as
popular in France as it was in England. The throne which Napoleon had
seized could only be kept by military success, and there is no doubt
whatever that personal ambition, and the prestige of a campaign, with
England for a companion-in-arms, determined the despatch of French
troops to the Crimea. On his return, Lord John at once saw the
difficulty in which his colleagues were landed. The internal tranquility
of France was imperilled if the siege of Sebastopol was abandoned. 'The
Emperor of the French,' he wrote, 'had been to us the most faithful ally
who had ever wielded the sceptre or ruled the destinies of 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
which would have sunk his reputation with his army and his people?' He
added, that this consideration seemed to him so weighty that he ceased
to urge on Lord Palmerston the acceptance of the Austrian terms, and
Lord Clarendon therefore sent a reply in which Count Buol's proposals
were rejected by the Cabinet. Lord Palmerston laid great stress on Lord
John's presence in his ministry, and Mr. Walpole has shown that the
latter only consented to withdraw his resignation after not merely an
urgent, but a thrice-repeated personal request from the Premier.


He ought unquestionably, at all hazards to Lord Palmerston's Government,
to have refused to remain a member of it when his colleagues intimated
that they 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
Lord John. The latter stayed in order to shield the Government from
overthrow by a combined Radical and Tory attack at a moment when
Palmerston was compelled to study the susceptibilities of France and
Napoleon III.'s fears concerning his throne. There is a published
letter, written by the Prince Consort at this juncture to his brother
the Duke of Saxe-Coburg, which throws light on the situation. The Prince
hints that the prospects of the Allies in the Crimea had become more
hopeful, just as diplomatic affairs at Vienna had taken an awkward turn.
He states that in General Pélissier the French 'have at last a leader
who is determined and enterprising, and who will once more raise the
spirit of the army, which has sunk through Canrobert's mildness.' He
adds that the English troops 'are again thirty thousand men under arms,
and their spirit is excellent. At home, however, Gladstone and the
Peelites are taking up the cry for peace, and declaring themselves
against all further continuation of the war; whilst Lord Derby and the
Protectionists are all for making common cause with Layard and others,
in order to overthrow Palmerston's Ministry.' Disraeli, significantly
adds the Prince, has been 'chiefly endeavouring to injure' Lord John

Towards the end of May, Mr. Disraeli introduced a resolution condemning
the conduct of the Government, and calling attention to Lord John
Russell's attitude at the Vienna Conference. Lord John had fulfilled the
promise which he had given to Count Buol before leaving Vienna; but Lord
Palmerston was determined to maintain the alliance with France, and
therefore, as a 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 allusion to the Austrian proposals or his own action in
regard to them. Irritated at the new turn of affairs, Count Buol
disclosed what had passed behind the scenes in Vienna, and Lord John
found himself compelled to explain his 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 advised its acceptance by Lord Palmerston.
He was not free, of course, to state with equal frankness the true
reason of its rejection by the Cabinet, and therefore was compelled to
fall back on the somewhat lame plea that it had been fully considered
and disallowed by his colleagues. Moreover he felt, as a
plenipotentiary, it was his duty to submit to the Government which had
sent him to Vienna, and as a member of the Cabinet it was not less his
duty 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 colleagues 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. The attacks in the Press
were bitter and envenomed; and when Lord John, in July, told Lord
Palmerston it was his intention to retire, the latter admitted with an
expression of great regret that the storm was too strong to be resisted,
though, he added, 'juster feelings will in due time prevail.' A few days
later Lord John, in a calm and impressive speech, anticipated Sir E. B.
Lytton's hostile motion on the Vienna Conference by announcing his
intention to the House. Though he still felt in honour obliged to say
nothing on the real cause of his withdrawal, his dignified attitude on
that occasion made its own impression, and all the more because of the
sweeping abuse to which he was at the moment exposed. It was of this
speech that Sir George Cornewall Lewis said that it 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. He added, with a generosity which, though
characteristic, was rare at that juncture: 'I shall be much surprised
if, after a little time and a little reflection, persons do not come to
the conclusion that never was so small a matter magnified beyond its
true proportions.'

Within twenty-four hours of his resignation Lord John had an opportunity
of showing that he bore no malice towards former colleagues. Mr.
Roebuck, with characteristic denunciations, attacked the Government on
the damaging statements contained in the report of the Sebastopol
Committee. He proposed a motion censuring in severe terms every member
of the Cabinet whose counsels had led to such disastrous results.
Whatever construction might be placed on Lord John's conduct of affairs
in Vienna, he at least could not be charged with lukewarmness or apathy
in regard to the administration of the army and the prosecution of the
war. He had, in fact, irritated 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. A less magnanimous man would have seized the
opportunity of this renewed attack to declare that he, at least, had
done his best at great personal cost to prevent the deplorable confusion
and collapse which had overtaken the War Office. He disdained, 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, not duly concerted with men whose opinions he ought to have
weighed, no statesman in 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 was typical of a man who made many mistakes, but
was never guilty, even when wounded to the quick, of gratifying the
passing resentments of the hour at the expense of the interests of the


During the summer of 1855 the feeling of the country grew more and more
warlike. The failure of the negotiations at Vienna had touched the
national pride. The State visit in the spring to the English Court of
the Emperor Napoleon, and his determination not to withdraw his troops
from the Crimea until some decisive victory was won, had rekindled its
enthusiasm. The repulse at the Redan, the death of Lord Raglan, and the
vainglorious boast of Prince Gortschakoff, who declared '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 all dreams of diplomatic solution impossible, and made England,
in spite of the preachers of peace at any price, determined to push
forward her quarrel to the bitter end. The nation, to borrow the phrase
of one of the shrewdest political students of the time, had now begun to
consider the war in the Crimea as a 'duel with Russia,' and pride and
pluck were more than ever called into play, both at home and abroad, in
its maintenance. The war, therefore, took its course. Ample supplies and
reinforcements were despatched to the troops, and the Allies, under the
command of General Simpson and General Pélissier, pushed forward the
campaign with renewed vigour. Sardinia and Sweden had joined the
alliance, and on August 16 the troops of the former, acting in concert
with the French, drove back the Russians, who had made a sortie along
the valley of the Tchernaya. After a month's bombardment by the Allies,
the Malakoff, a redoubt which commanded Sebastopol, was taken by the
French; but the English 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. The forts 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 fell on September 8, and the war was
virtually over. Sir Evelyn Wood lately drew attention to the fact 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.

  [Sidenote: ALL FOR NAUGHT]

France was clamouring for peace, and Napoleon was determined not to
prolong the struggle now that his troops had come out of the siege of
Sebastopol with flying colours. Russia, on her part, had wellnigh
exhausted her resources. Up to the death of the Emperor Nicholas, she
had lost nearly a quarter of a million of men, and six months later, so
great was the carnage and so insidious the pestilence, 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 slain fell to France. Apart from bloodshed, anguish, and pain, the
Crimean war bequeathed to England an increase of 41,000,000_l._ in the
National Debt. No wonder that overtures for the cessation of hostilities
now met with a welcome which had been denied at the Vienna Conference.
After various negotiations, the Peace of Paris was signed on March 30,
1856. Russia was compelled to relinquish her control over the Danube and
her protectorate over the Principalities, and was also forbidden to
build arsenals on the shores of the Black Sea, which was declared open
to all ships of commerce, but closed to all ships of war. Turkey, on the
other hand, confirmed, on paper at least, the privileges proclaimed in
1839 to Christians resident in the Ottoman Empire; but massacres at
Damascus, in the Lebanon, and later in Bulgaria, and recently in
Armenia, have followed in dismal sequence in spite of the Treaty of
Paris. The neutrality of the Black Sea came to an end a quarter of a
century ago, and the substantial gains--never great even at the
outset--of a war which was costly in blood and treasure have grown small
by degrees until they have almost reached the vanishing point.


[38] _Life of Lord John Russell_, vol. ii. p. 251.



     Lord John's position in 1855--His constituency in the City--Survey
     of his work in literature--As man of letters--His historical
     writings--Hero-worship of Fox--Friendship with Moore--Writes the
     biography of the poet--'Don Carlos'--A 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 Lancaster's tentative efforts--The formation of the
     Council of Education--Prejudice blocks the way--Mr. Forster's

MEN talked in the autumn of 1855 as if Lord John Russell's retirement
was final, and even his brother, the Duke of Bedford, considered it
probable that his career as a responsible statesman was closed. His
health had always been more or less delicate, and he was now a man of
sixty-three. He had been in Parliament for upwards of forty years, and
nearly a quarter of a century had passed since he bore the brunt of the
wrath and clamour and evil-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 statesman of the period had won more
distinction in spite of 'gross blunders,' which he himself in so many
words admitted. He was certainly entitled to rest on his laurels; but
it was nonsense for anyone to suppose that the animosity of the Irish,
or the indignation of the Ritualists, or the general chagrin at the
collapse--under circumstances for which Lord John was by no means alone
responsible--of the Vienna Conference, could condemn a man of so much
energy and courage, as well as political prescience, to perpetual
banishment from Downing Street.

There were people who thought that Lord John was played out in 1855, and
there were many more who wished to think so, for he was feared by the
incompetent and apathetic of his own party, as well as by those who had
occasion to reckon with him in honourable but strenuous political
conflict. The great mistake of his life was not the Durham Letter, which
has been justified, in spite of its needless bitterness of tone, by the
inexorable logic of accomplished events. It was not his attitude towards
Ireland in the dark years of famine, which was in reality far more
temperate and generous than is commonly supposed. It was not his action
over the Vienna Conference, for, now that the facts are 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 in a false position when he yielded to the
importunity of the Court and the Peelites by consenting to accept office
under Lord Aberdeen. The Crimean War, which he did his best to prevent,
only threw into the relief of red letters against a dark sky the radical
divergence of opinion which existed in the Coalition Government.

  [Sidenote: OUT OF OFFICE]

For nearly four years after his retirement from office Lord John held an
independent political position, and there is evidence enough that he
enjoyed to the full this respite from the cares of responsibility. He
gave up his house in town, and the quidnuncs thought that they had seen
the last of him as a Minister of the Crown, whilst the merchants and the
stockbrokers of the City were supposed to scout his name, and to be
ready to lift up their heel against 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
travelled abroad, and came back with new political ideas about the trend
in foreign politics. He published the final volume of his 'Memoirs and
Correspondence 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 Christian Association, on the
causes which had retarded moral and political progress in the nation. He
went down to Stroud, and gave his old constituents a philosophic address
on the study of history. He spoke at the first meeting of the Social
Science Congress at Birmingham, presided over the second at Liverpool,
and raised in Parliament the questions of National Education, Jewish
Disabilities, the affairs 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 in the light of the force of his character and the
integrity of his aims.

  [Sidenote: LITERARY WORK]

It is, of course, impossible in the scope of this volume to describe at
any length Lord John Russell's contributions to literature, even outside
the range of letters and articles in the press and that almost forgotten
weapon of controversy, the political pamphlet. From youth to age Lord
John not merely possessed the pen of a ready writer, but employed it
freely in history, biography, criticism, _belles-lettres_, and verse.
His first book was published when George III. was King, and his last
appeared when almost forty 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 'Recollections and Suggestions.' It is amusing now to recall the
fact that two years after the battle of Waterloo Lord John Russell
feared that he could never stand the strain of a political career, and
Tom Moore's well-known poetical 'Remonstrance' was called forth by the
young Whig's intention at that time to abandon the Senate for the study.
When Lord Grey's 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 considerable reputation within
and without its walls. It was a surprise at the moment, and it is not
even yet quite clear why Russell was excluded from the Cabinet. Mr.
Disraeli has left on record his interpretation of the mystery: 'Lord
John Russell was a man of letters, and it is a common opinion that a man
cannot at the same time be successful both in meditation and in action.'
If this surmise is correct, 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 often
claimed his pen, for, besides many contributions in prose and verse to
periodicals, to say nothing of writings which still remain in manuscript
and prefaces to the books of other people, he published about twenty
works, great and small. Yet, his strength lay elsewhere.

His literary pursuits, with scarcely an exception, represent his hours
of relaxation and the manner in which he sought relief from the cares of
State. In the pages of 'William, Lord Russell,' which was published in
1819, when political corruption was supreme and social progress all but
impossible, Lord John gave forth no uncertain sound. 'In these times,
when love of liberty is too generally supposed to be allied with rash
innovation, impiety, and anarchy, it seems to me desirable to exhibit to
the world at full length the portrait of a man who, heir to wealth and
title, was foremost in defending the privileges of the people; who, when
busily occupied in the affairs of public life, was revered in his own
family as the best of husbands and of fathers; who joined the truest
sense of religion with the unqualified assertion of freedom; who, after
an honest perseverance in 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 its account--gathered in part at least from
family papers at Woburn and original letters at Longleat--of Lord
Russell, but also in the light which is cast on the period of the
Restoration, and the policy of Charles II. and the Duke of York.

  [Sidenote: A CONFIDENT WHIG]

Two years later, Lord John published an 'Essay on the History of the
English Government and Constitution,' 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 nineteenth
century. Lord John made no secret of his conviction 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
England was not in such an evil case, since its 'abuses easily admit of
reforms consistent with its spirit, capable of being effected without
injury or danger, and mainly contributing to its preservation.' The
historical reflections which abound in the work, though shrewd, can
scarcely be described as remarkable, much less as profound. The 'Essay
on English Government' is, in fact, not the confessions of an inquiring
spirit entangled in the maze of political speculation, 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 the great War of the Spanish Succession was brought to an end. It
also throws light on men and manners during the last days of Louis XIV.,
and on the condition of affairs in France which followed his death. The
closing pages of the second volume are concerned with a survey of the
religious state of England during the first half of the eighteenth
century. Lord John in this connection pays homage to the work of
Churchmen of the stamp of Warburton, Clarke, and Hoadly; but he entirely
fails 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 merely in the assertion
of the rights of conscience, but in the ordered growth of freedom and

Amongst the most noteworthy of Lord John Russell's literary achievements
were the two works which he published 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 Correspondence,' 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 at the death of his old friend, Lady
Holland, in 1845. It was the ambition of Lord Holland, 'nephew of Fox
and friend of Grey,' as he used proudly to style himself, to edit the
papers and write the life of his brilliant kinsman. Politics and society
and the stately house at Kensington, which, from the end of last century
until the opening years of the Queen's reign, was the chief _salon_ of
the Whig party, combined, with an easy procrastinating temperament, to
block the way, until death ended, in the autumn of 1840, the career of
the gracious master of Holland House. The materials which Lord Holland
and his physician, librarian, and friend, Dr. John Allen, had
accumulated, and which, by the way, passed under the scrutiny of Lord
Grey and Rogers, the poet, were edited by Lord John, with the result
that he grew fascinated with the subject, and formed the resolution, in
consequence, to write 'The Life and Times' of the great Whig statesman.
He declared that it was well to have a hero, and a hero with a good many
faults and failings.

  [Sidenote: FOX AND MOORE]

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 and forces which have shaped the
relations of 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 on the great qualities which Fox displayed in
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 of the earliest, and certainly one of the closest, friendships of
Lord John Russell's life was with Thomas Moore. They saw much of each
other for the space of nearly forty years in London society, and were
also drawn together in the more familiar intercourse of foreign travel.
It was with Lord John that the poet went to Italy in 1819 to avoid
arrest for debt, after his deputy at Bermuda had embezzled 6,000_l._
Moore lived, more or less, all his days from hand to mouth, and Lord
John Russell, who was always ready in a quiet fashion, in Kingsley's
phrase, to help lame dogs over stiles, frequently displayed towards the
light-hearted poet throughout their long friendship delicate and
generous kindness. He it was who, in conjunction with Lord Lansdowne,
obtained for Moore in 1835 a pension of 300_l._ a year, and announced
the fact as one which was 'due from any Government, but much more from
one some of the 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, to give his own words, 'confided to my valued friend, Lord
John Russell (having obtained his kind promise to undertake the service
for me), the task of looking over whatever papers, letters, or journals
I may leave behind me, for the purpose of forming from them some kind of
publication, whether in the shape of memoirs or otherwise, which may
afford the means of making some provision for my wife and family.'
Although Lord John was sixty, and burdened with the cares of State, if
not with the cares of office, he cheerfully accepted the task. Though it
must be admitted that he performed some parts of it in rather a
perfunctory manner, the eight 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

  [Sidenote: 'DON CARLOS']

Lord John also edited the 'Correspondence of John, fourth Duke of
Bedford,' and prefaced the letters with a biographical sketch. Quite
early in his career he also tried his hand at fiction in 'The Nun of
Arrouca,' a story founded on a romantic incident which occurred during
his travels in the Peninsula. The book appeared in 1822, and in the
same year--he was restless and ambitious of literary distinction at the
time, and had not yet found his true sphere in politics--he also
published 'Don Carlos,' a tragedy in blank verse, which was in reality
not merely a tirade against the cruelties of the Inquisition, but an
impassioned protest against religious disabilities in every shape or
form. 'Don Carlos,' though now practically forgotten, ran through five
editions in twelve months, and the people remembered it when its author
became the foremost advocate in the House of Commons of the repeal of
the Test and Corporation Acts. Amongst other minor writings which belong
to the earlier years of Lord John Russell, it is enough to name 'Essays
and Sketches of Life 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.

It is still a moot point whether 'Letters Written for the 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 conduct of a wife towards her husband, was from
his pen. Mr. George Elliot believes, on internal evidence, too lengthy
to quote, that the book--a small octavo volume of more than four hundred
pages--is erroneously attributed to his brother-in-law, and the Countess
Russell is of the same opinion. Mr. Elliot cites inaccuracies in the
book, and adds that the places visited in Scotland do not correspond
with those which Lord John had seen when he went thither in company with
the Duke and Duchess in 1807; and there is no evidence that he made
another pilgrimage north of the Tweed between that date and the
appearance of the book. He adds that his father took the trouble to
collect everything which was written by Lord John, and the book is
certainly not in the library at Minto. Moreover, Mr. Elliot is 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 office, Lord John published, in 1868,
three letters to Mr. Chichester Fortescue on 'The State of Ireland,' and
this was followed by a contribution to ecclesiastical history in the
shape of a volume of essays on 'The Rise and Progress of the Christian
Religion in the West of Europe to the Council of Trent.' The leisure of
his closing 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, 1813-1873,'
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, which were often on Lord John's lips in his
closing years:

    Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
    But what has been has been, and I have had my hour.

  [Sidenote: A RETROSPECT]

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 style, the value not only of his
political reminiscences, but also of his shrewd and often pithily
expressed verdicts on men and movements, is unquestionable, and, on the
whole, the vigour of the book is as remarkable as its noble candour.
Mr. Kinglake once declared that 'Lord John Russell wrote so naturally
that it recalled the very sound of his voice;' and half the charm of his
'Recollections and Suggestions' consists in the artlessness 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:

'I can only rejoice that I have been allowed to have my share in the
task accomplished in the half-century which has elapsed from 1819 to
1869. My capacity, I always felt, 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. I have committed many errors, 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 misrepresented and
slandered by those who know nothing of me; but I have been more than
compensated by the confidence and the friendship of the best men of my
own political connection, and by the regard and favourable
interpretation of my motives, which I have heard expressed by my
generous opponents, from the days of Lord Castlereagh to these of Mr.

There were few questions in which Lord John Russell was more keenly
interested from youth to age than that of National Education. As a boy
he had met Joseph Lancaster, during a visit of that far-seeing and
practical friend of poor children to Woburn, and the impression which
the humble Quaker philanthropist made on the Duke of Bedford's
quick-witted as well as kind-hearted son was retained, as one of his
latest speeches show, to the close of life. At the opening of the new
British Schools in Richmond in the summer of 1867, Lord John referred to
his father's association with Joseph Lancaster, and added: 'In this way
I naturally became initiated into a desire for promoting schools for the
working classes, and I must say, from that time to this I never changed
my mind upon the subject. I think it is 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 be
sectarian. There will be plenty of time, when these children go to
church or chapel, that they should learn either that particular form of
doctrine their parents follow or adopt one more consistent with their
conscientious feelings; but I think, while they are young boys and girls
at school, it ought to be sufficient for them to know what Christ
taught, and what the apostles taught; and from those lessons and
precepts they may guide their conduct in life.'

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, Bell,
and Brougham, to those of Mr. Forster and the great measure of 1870, he
never withdrew from a task which lay always near to his heart. It is
difficult to believe that at the beginning of the present 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 children of the nation still ran wild without
the least pretence of education. At a still later period the marriage
statistics revealed the fact that one-third of the men and one-half of
the women were unable to sign the register. The social elevation of the
people, so ran the miserable plea of those who assuredly were not given
to change, was fraught with peril to the State. Hodge, it was urged,
ought to be content to take both the Law and the Commandments from his
betters, since a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. As for the
noisy, insolent operatives and artisans of the great manufacturing
towns, was there not for them the strong hand of authority, and, if they
grew too obstreperous, the uplifted sabre of the military as at
Peterloo? It 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 sense of power.


The Reform Bill of 1832 mocked in many directions the hopes of the
people, but it at least marked a great social as well as a great
political departure, and with it came the dawn of a new day to modern
England. As the light broadened, the vision of poets and patriots began
to be realised in practical improvements, which came home to men's
business and bosom; the standard of intelligence rose, and with it
freedom of thought, and the, sometimes passionate, but more often
long-suffering demand for political, social, and economic concessions to
justice. It was long before the privileged classes began to recognise,
except in platform heroics, that 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_l._ in 1832 was
the 'handful of corn on the top of the mountains' which has brought
about the golden harvest of to-day. The history of the movement does
not, of course, fall within the province of these pages, though Lord
John Russell's name is associated with it 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 lifted the whole problem to the front rank of national affairs.


He was the first Prime Minister of England to carry a measure which made
it possible to secure trained teachers for elementary schools; and his
successful effort in 1847 to 'diminish the empire of ignorance,' as he
styled it, was one of the events in his public life on which he looked
back in after 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. He contended that out of four million children of
school age only one-half were receiving instruction, whilst not more
than one-eighth were attending schools which were subject to inspection.
The vast majority were to be found in schools where the standard of
education, if not altogether an unknown quantity, was deplorably low. He
proposed that the number of inspectors should be increased, and that a
rate should be levied by the local authorities for supplying adequate
instruction in places where it was unsatisfactory. He contended that the
country should be mapped out in school districts, and that the managers
should have the power to make provision for religious instruction, and,
at the same time, should allow the parents of the children a voice in
the matter. Prejudices ecclesiastical and social blocked the way,
however, and Lord John was compelled to abandon the scheme, which
suggested, and to a large extent anticipated Mr. Forster's far-reaching
measure, which in 1870 met with a better fate, and linked the principles
of local authority and central supervision in the harmonious working of
public education. When the victory was almost won Mr. Forster, with
characteristic kindliness, wrote to the old statesman who had laboured
for the people's cause in years of supreme discouragement:--'As regards
universal compulsory education, I believe we shall soon complete the
building. It is hard to see how there would have been a building to
complete, if you had not, with great labour and in great difficulty, dug
the foundations in 1839.' Happily Lord John lived to witness the
crowning of the edifice by the Gladstone Administration.




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

LORD JOHN came prominently to the front in public affairs in the brief
session of 1857, which ended in Lord Palmerston's appeal to the country.
He spoke against the Government during the discussions in the House of
Commons on the conduct of the Persian War, and he exercised his
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; Disraeli has no influence in
the country, and a very doubtful position with his own party.' Yet
scarcely more than a fortnight later this cynical, but frank scribe
added: 'Some think a reaction in favour of John Russell has begun. He
stands for the City, and is in very good spirits, though his chances of
success do not look bright; but he is a gallant little fellow, likes to
face danger, and comes out well in times of difficulty.' Between these
two statements the unexpected had happened. Cobden 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--Russell, Gladstone, and
Disraeli--had supported the Manchester 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 to power, pledged to nothing
unless it was a spirited foreign policy.


The personal ascendency of Lord Palmerston, whom Disraeli cleverly
styled the Tory chief of a Radical Cabinet, carried the election, for
there was a good deal of truth in the assertion that nobody cared a
straw for his colleagues. The Peace party suffered defeat at the polls,
and, amongst others, Cobden himself was turned out at Huddersfield, and
Bright and Milner Gibson were his companions in misfortune at
Manchester. A vigorous attempt was made to overthrow Lord John in the
City, and his timid friends in the neighbourhood of Lombard Street and
the Exchange implored him not to run the risk of a contested election.
He was assured in so many words, states Lady Russell, that he had as
much chance of being elected Pope as of being elected member for the
City; and the statement roused his mettle. He was pitted against a
candidate from Northampton, and the latter was brought forward with the
powerful support of the Registration Association of the City of London,
and in a fashion which was the reverse of complimentary to the old

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 speech, and in the course of it he said, with
a jocularity which was worthy of Lord Palmerston himself: 'If a
gentleman were disposed to part with his butler, his coachman, or his
gamekeeper, or if a merchant were disposed to part with an old servant,
a warehouseman, a clerk, or even a 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 I think of putting a
young man from Northampton in your place." (Laughter and cheers.) I
think a gentleman would behave in that way to his servant, and thereby
give John an opportunity of answering that he thought his faculties were
not so much decayed, and that he was able to go on, at all events, some
five or six years longer. That opportunity was not given to me. The
question was decided in my absence, without any intimation to me; and I
come now to ask you and the citizens of London to reverse that
decision.' He was taken at his word, and the rival candidate from
Northampton was duly sent to the neighbouring borough of Coventry.

The summer of 1857 was darkened in England by tidings of the Indian
Mutiny and of the terrible massacre at 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 Opposition at
such a crisis, and moved an address assuring the Crown of the support of
Parliament, which was carried, in spite of Disraeli, without a division.
At the same time Lord John in confidential intercourse made it plain
that he recognised to the full extent the need of reform in the
administration of India, and he did not hesitate to intimate that, in
his view, the East India Company was no longer equal to the strain of
so great a responsibility. He brought no railing accusations against the
Company, but, on the contrary, declared that it must be admitted they
had 'conducted 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 Watt and Boulton made fifty
years ago for a new engine with modern improvements, so it becomes us to
find a new machine for the government of India.'

  [Sidenote: THE ORSINI PLOT]

Before the upheaval in India had spent its force fresh difficulties
overtook Lord Palmerston's Government. Count Orsini, strong in the
conviction that Napoleon III. was the 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 bombs on the night of January
14, 1858, at the carriage of the Emperor and Empress as they were
proceeding to the Opera, and, though they escaped unhurt, ten persons
were killed and many wounded. The bombs had been manufactured in
England, and Orsini--who was captured and executed--had arranged the
dastardly outrage in London, and the consequence was a fierce outbreak
of indignation on the other side of the Channel. Lord Palmerston,
prompted by the French Government, which demanded protection from the
machinations of political refugees, brought forward a Conspiracy Bill.
The feeling of the country, already hostile to such a measure, grew
pronounced 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 introduction of the measure, and declared that he
was determined not to share in such 'shame and humiliation.' 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.
Cardwell and Mr. Gladstone. Lord Palmerston promptly resigned, and Lord
Derby came into office. Disraeli, as Chancellor of the Exchequer and
leader of the House of Commons, proceeded with characteristic audacity
and a light heart to educate the new Conservative Party in the art of
dishing the Whigs.


The new Ministry was short-lived. Lord Derby was in advance of his
party, and old-fashioned Tories listened with alarm to the programme of
work which he set before them. For the moment Lord John was not eager
for office, and he declared that the 'new Ministers ought not to be
recklessly or prematurely opposed.' He added that he would not sanction
any cabal among the Liberal party, and that he had no intention whatever
of leading an alliance of Radicals and Peelites. Impressed with the
magnitude of 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. He held that the question was too great to be made a battle-field
of party, but thorough-paced adherents of Lord Palmerston did not
conceal their indignation at such independent action. Lord John believed
at the moment that it was right for him to throw his influence into the
scale, and therefore he was indifferent to the passing clamour. 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 in 1858, and Lord John at length witnessed the
triumph of a cause which he had brought again and again before
Parliament 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 showed themselves more constantly mindful of
his services 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 replied: 'The object of my life has
been not to benefit a race alone, but all nationalities that suffered
under civil and religious disabilities.' He used to relate with evident
appreciation the reply which Lord Lyndhurst once gave to a timid
statesman who feared a possible Hebrew invasion of the woolsack. The man
who was appointed four times to that exalted seat retorted: 'Well, I see
no harm in that; Daniel would have made a good Lord Chancellor.'

Everyone recognised that the Derby Administration was a mere stop-gap,
and, as months passed on, its struggle for existence became somewhat
ludicrous. They felt themselves to be a Ministry on sufferance, and,
according to the gossip of the hour, their watchword was 'Anything for a
quiet life.' There were rocks ahead, and at 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. Disraeli's Reform Bill taxed the allegiance of his
party to the breaking point, and when its provisions were disclosed two
of his colleagues resigned--Mr. Spencer Walpole the Home Office, and Mr.
Henley the Board of Trade, rather than have part or lot in such a
measure. There is no need here to describe in detail a scheme which was
foredoomed by its fantastic character to failure. It confused great
issues; it brought into play what Mr. Bright called fancy franchises; it
did not lower the voting qualification in boroughs; its new property
qualifications were of a retrograde character; and it left the working
classes where it found them. It frightened staid Tories of the older
school, and excited the ridicule, if not the indignation, of all who had
seriously grappled with the problem.


The immediate effect was to unite all sections of the Liberal Party.
Lord John led the attack, and did so on the broad ground that it did not
go far enough; and on April 1, after protracted debate, the measure was
defeated by a majority of thirty-nine votes in a House of six hundred
and twenty-one members. Parliament was prorogued on April 19, and the
country was thrown into the turmoil of a General Election. Lord John
promptly appealed to his old constituents in the City, and in the course
of a vigorous address handled the 'so-called Reform Bill' in no
uncertain manner. He declared that amongst the numerous defects of the
Bill 'one provision was conspicuous by its presence and another by its
absence.' He had deemed it advisable on the second reading to take what
seemed to be the 'most clear, manly, and direct' course, and that was
the secret of his amendment. The House of Commons had mustered in full
force, and the terms of the amendment had been carried. The result of
the General Election was that three hundred and fifty Liberals and three
hundred and two Conservatives were returned to Westminster. Parliament
met on May 31, and Lord Hartington moved an amendment to the Address
which amounted to an expression of want of confidence. The amendment was
carried by a majority of thirteen on June 12, and Lord Derby's
Administration came the same night to an end. The result of the division
took both parties somewhat by surprise. The astonishment was heightened
when her Majesty sent for Lord Granville, an action which, to say the
least, was a left-handed compliment to old and distinguished advisers of
the Crown. Happily, though the sovereign may in such high affairs of
State propose, it is the country which must finally dispose, and Lord
Granville swiftly found that in the exuberance of political youth he had
accepted a hopeless commission. He therefore relinquished an impossible
task, and the Queen sent for Lord Palmerston.


In the earlier years of Lord John's retirement from office after the
Vienna Conference his relations with some of his old colleagues, and
more particularly with Lord Clarendon and Lord Palmerston, were somewhat
strained. The blunders of the Derby Government, the jeopardy in India,
the menacing condition of foreign politics, and, 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 Lord Aberdeen; and the
outcome of that experiment had been humiliating to himself, as well as
disastrous to the country. He might fairly have stood on his dignity--a
fool's pedestal at the best, and one which Lord John was too sensible
ever to mount--at the present juncture, and have declined to return to
the responsibilities of office, except as Prime Minister. The leaders
of the democracy, Mr. Bright and Mr. Cobden, were much more friendly to
him than to Lord Palmerston. Apart from published records, Lady
Russell's diary shows that at the beginning of this year Mr. Bright was
in close communication with her husband. Lord John good-humouredly
protested that Mr. Bright alarmed timid people by his speeches;
whereupon the latter replied that he had been much misrepresented, and
declared that he was more willing to be lieutenant than general in the
approaching struggle for Reform. He explained his scheme, and Lord John
found that it had much in common with his own, from which it differed
only in degree, except on the question of the ballot. 'There has been a
meeting between Bright and Lord John,' was Lord Houghton's comment, 'but
I don't know that it has led to anything except a more temperate tone in
Bright's last speeches.' Mr. Cobden, it is an open secret, would not
have refused to serve under Lord John, but his hostility to Lord
Palmerston's policy was too pronounced for him now to accept the offer
of a seat in the new Cabinet. He assured Lord John that if he had been
at the head of the Administration the result would have been different.
Both Mr. Cobden and Mr. Bright felt that Lord Palmerston blocked the way
to any adequate readjustment in home politics of the balance of power,
and they were inspired by a settled distrust of his foreign policy. Lord
John, on the other hand, though he might not move as swiftly as such
popular leaders thought desirable, had still a name to conjure with, and
was the consistent advocate, though on more cautious lines, of an
extension of the franchise. Moreover, Lord John's attack on Palmerston's
Government in regard to the conduct of the Chinese war, his vigorous
protest against the Conspiracy Bill, and his frank sympathy with
Mazzini's dream of a United Italy, helped to bring the old leader, in
the long fight for civil 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 Liberal camp was full of politicians who were
neither hot nor cold--men who had slipped into Parliament on easy terms,
only to reveal the fact that their prejudices were many and their
convictions few. They sheltered themselves under the great prestige of
Lord Palmerston, and represented his policy of masterly inactivity,
rather than the true sentiments of the nation. Lord Palmerston 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 junior by more than a score of years, he saw his chance at the
Foreign Office, and therefore consented to join the Administration of
Lord Palmerston. In accepting office on such terms in the middle of
June, he made it plain to Lord Palmerston that the importance of
European affairs at the moment had induced him to throw in his lot with
the new Ministry. The deadlock was brought to an end by Lord John's
patriotic decision. Mr. Gladstone became Chancellor of 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 in the
Government, he rendered it important service by negotiating the
commercial treaty with France, which came into force at the beginning of
1860. Next to the abolition of the Corn Laws, which he more than any
other man brought about, it was the great achievement of his career.
Free Trade, by liberating commerce from the bondage under which it
groaned, gave food to starving multitudes, redressed a flagrant and
tyrannical abuse of power, shielded a kingdom from the throes of
revolution, and added a new and magical impetus to material progress in
every quarter of the globe. The commercial treaty with France, by
establishing mercantile sympathy and intercourse between two of the most
powerful nations of the world, carried forward the work which Free Trade
had begun, and, by bringing into play community of interests, helped to
give peace a sure foundation.

Parliament met on January 24, and in the Speech from the Throne a Reform
Bill was promised. It was brought forward by Lord John Russell on March
1--the twenty-ninth anniversary of a red-letter day in his life, the
introduction of the first Reform Bill. He proposed to reduce the county
franchise to 10_l._ qualification, and the borough to 6_l._; one member
was to be taken from each borough with a population of less than seven
thousand, and in this way twenty-five seats were obtained for
redistribution. Political power was to be given where the people were
congregated, and Lord John's scheme of re-distribution gave two seats to
the West Riding, and one each to thirty other counties or divisions, and
five to boroughs hitherto unrepresented. The claims of Manchester,
Liverpool, Birmingham, and Leeds were recognised by the proposal to add
another representative in each case; and the claims of culture were not
forgotten, for a member was given to London University. Gallio-like,
Lord Palmerston cared for none of these things, and he made no attempt
to conceal his indifference. One-half of the Cabinet appear to have
shared his distaste for the measure, and two or three of them regarded
it with aversion. If Cobden or Bright had been in the Cabinet, affairs
might have taken a different course; as it was, Lord John and Mr.
Gladstone stood almost alone.

The Radicals, though gaining ground in the country, were numerically
weak in the House of Commons, and the measure fell to the ground between
the opposition of the Tories and the faint praise with which it was
damned by the Whigs. Even Lord John was forced to confess that the
apathy of the country was undeniable. A more sweeping measure would have
had a better chance, but so long as Lord Palmerston was at the head of
affairs it was idle to expect it. Lord John recognised the inevitable
after a succession of dreary debates, and the measure was withdrawn on
June 11. Lord John's first important speech in the House of Commons was
made in the year of Peterloo, when he brought forward, thirteen years
before the Reform Bill of 1832 was passed, proposals for an extension of
the franchise; and his last great speech in the House of Commons at
least showed how unmerited was the taunt of 'finality,' for it sought to
give the working classes a share in the government of the country.


Early in the following year, Lord John was raised to the peerage as Earl
Russell of Kingston-Russell and Viscount Amberley and Ardsalla. 'I
cannot despatch,' wrote Mr. Gladstone, 'as I have just done, the
Chiltern Hundreds for you, without expressing the strong feelings which
even that formal act awakens. They are mixed, as well as strong; for I
hope you will be repaid in repose, health, and the power of
long-continuing service, for the heavy loss we suffer in the House of
Commons. Although you may not hereafter have opportunities of adding to
the personal debt I owe you, and of bringing it vividly before my mind
by fresh acts of courage and kindness, I assure you, the recollection of
it is already indelible.' Hitherto, Lord John--for the old name is the
one under which his family and his friends still like 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 possible his acceptance of the
proffered earldom. Six months later, her Majesty conferred the Garter
upon him, as a mark of her 'high approbation of long and distinguished
services.' Lord John had almost reached the age of three score and ten
when he entered the House of Lords. He had done his work in 'another
place,' but he was destined to become once more First 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 biographers are called
upon to palliate.




     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' difficulty--Lord Selborne's statement--The Cotton Famine.

FOREIGN politics claimed Lord John's undivided attention throughout the
four remaining years of the Palmerston Administration. It was well for
the nation that a statesman of so much courage and self-reliance, cool
sagacity, and wide experience, controlled the Foreign Office in years
when wars and rumours of war prevailed alike in Europe and in America.
He once declared that it had always been his aim to promote the cause of
civil and religious liberty, not merely in 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
complicated problems with which he had to deal during his tenure of the
Foreign Office, but the broad principles which animated his policy can,
in rough outline at least, be stated. It is 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 the question of the independence of Italy, of a treaty
regarding Poland made by Lord Castlereagh, the treaty regarding Denmark
made by Lord Malmesbury, the injuries done to England by the republic of
Mexico, and, not to mention minor questions, the whole of the
transactions arising out of the civil 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.' Both of these questions were far-reaching
and crucial, and in his attitude towards Italy and America, when they
were in the throes of revolution, Lord Russell's generous love of
liberty and vigour of judgment alike stand revealed.

Prince Metternich declared soon after the peace of 1815 that Italy was
'only a geographical expression.' The taunt was true at the time, but
even then there was a young dreamer living who was destined to render it
false. 'Great ideas,' declared Mazzini, 'create great nations,' and his
whole career was devoted to the attempt to bring about a united Italy.
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
domination. Austria, not content with the possession of Lombardy, which
was ceded to her by the treaty of 1815, had made her power felt in
almost every direction, and even at Naples her authority prevailed. The
Austrians were not merely an alien but a hated race, for they stood
between the Italian people and their dream of national independence and
unity, and native despotism could always count on their aid in quelling
any outbreak of the revolutionary spirit. The governments of the
country, Austria and the Vatican apart, were rendered contemptible by
the character of its tyrannical, incapable, and superstitious rulers,
but with the sway of such powers of darkness Sardinia presented a bright
contrast. The hopes of patriotic Italians gathered around Victor
Emmanuel II., who had fought gallantly at Novara in 1849, and who
possessed more public spirit and common-sense than the majority of
crowned heads. Victor Emmanuel ascended the throne of Sardinia at the
age of twenty-eight, immediately after the crushing disaster which
seemed hopelessly to have wrecked the cause of Italian independence.
Although he believed, with Mazzini, that there was only room for two
kinds of Italians in Italy, the friends and the enemies of Austria, he
showed remarkable self-restraint, and adopted a policy of conciliation
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 in Piedmont.'

  [Sidenote: COUNT CAVOUR]

He gathered around him men who were in sympathy with modern ideas of
liberty and progress. Amongst them was Count Cavour, a statesman
destined to impress not Italy alone, but Europe, by his 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 equal
to the strain. Victor Emmanuel gave him a free hand, and he used it for
the consolidation of the kingdom. He repealed the duties on corn,
reformed the tariff, and introduced measures of free trade. He
encouraged public works, brought about the construction of railways and
telegraphs, 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 to propitiate the Western Powers. In
pursuance of such a policy, Cavour induced Piedmont to join the Allies
in the Crimean War, and the Italian soldiers behaved with conspicuous
bravery at the battle of Tchernaya. When the war closed Sardinia was
becoming a power in Europe, and Cavour established his right to a seat
at the Congress of Paris, where he made known the growing discontent in
Italy with the temporal power of the Papacy.

In the summer of 1858 Napoleon III. was taking the waters at Plombières,
where also Count Cavour was on a visit. The Emperor's mood was leisured
and cordial, and Cavour took the opportunity of bringing the Court of
Turin into intimate but secret relations with that of the Tuileries.
France was to come to the aid of Sardinia under certain conditions in
the event of a war with Austria. Napoleon was not, of course, inclined
to serve Victor Emmanuel for naught, and he therefore stipulated for
Savoy and Nice. Cavour also strengthened the position of Sardinia by
arranging a marriage between the Princess Clotilde, daughter of Victor
Emmanuel, and the Emperor's cousin, Prince Napoleon. Alarmed at the
military preparations in Sardinia, and the growth of the kingdom as a
political power in Europe, Austria at the 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 short but decisive. The Austrian army
crossed in force the Ticino, then hesitated and was lost. If they had
acted promptly they might have crushed the troops of Piedmont, whom they
greatly outnumbered, before the soldiers of France could cross the Alps.
The battle of Magenta, and the still more deadly struggle at Solferino
between Austria and the Allies, decided the issue, and by the beginning
of July Napoleon, for the moment, was master of the situation.

  [Sidenote: VILLAFRANCA]

The French Emperor, with characteristic duplicity, had only half
revealed his hand in those confidential talks at Plombières. Italy was
the cradle of his race, and he too wished to create, if not a King of
Rome, a federation of small States ruled by princes of his own blood.
The public rejoicings at Florence, Parma, Modena, and Bologna, and the
ardent expression of the populace at such centres for union with
Sardinia, made the Emperor wince, and showed him that it was impossible,
even with French bayonets, to crush the aspirations of a nation.
Napoleon met Francis Joseph at Villafranca, and the preliminaries of
peace were arranged on July 11 in a 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 Mantua.
France afterwards took Nice and Savoy; and the Grand Duke of Tuscany and
the Duke of Modena were restored to power. The Treaty of Zürich ratified
these terms in the month of November. Meanwhile it was officially
announced that the Emperor of Austria and the Emperor of the French
would 'favour the creation of an Italian Confederation under the
honorary presidency of the Holy Father.'

The Countess Martinengo Cesaresco, in a brilliant book published within
the last few months on 'The Liberation of Italy,' in describing Lord
John Russell's opposition to the terms of peace at Villafranca, and the
vigorous protest which, as Foreign Minister, he made on behalf of
England, says: 'It was a happy circumstance for Italy that her unity had
no better friends than in the English Government during those difficult
years. Cavour's words, soon after Villafranca, "It is England's turn
now," were not belied.'[39] With Lord John at the Foreign Office,
England rose to the occasion. Napoleon III. wished to make a cat's-paw
of this country, and was sanguine enough to believe that Her Majesty's
Government would take the proposed Italian Confederation under its wing.
Lord Palmerston, Mr. Gladstone, and Lord John Russell, were not,
however, the men to bow to his behests, and the latter in particular
could scarcely conceal his contempt for the scheme of the two emperors.
'We are asked to propose a partition of the peoples of Italy,' he
exclaimed, 'as if we had the right to dispose of them.'


Lord John contended that if Austria, by virtue of her presence on
Italian soil, was a member of the suggested confederation, she, because
of the Vatican, the King of Naples, and the two dukes, would virtually
rule the roost. He wrote to the British Minister at Florence in favour
of a frank expression on the part of the people of Tuscany of their own
wishes in the matter, and declared in the House of Commons that he could
have neither part nor lot with any attempt to deprive the people of
Italy of their right to choose their own ruler. He protested against the
presence in Italy of foreign troops, whether French or Austrian, and in
despatches to Paris and Vienna he made the French and Austrian
Governments aware that England was altogether opposed to any return to
that 'system of foreign interference which for upwards of forty years
has been the misfortune of Italy and the danger of Europe.' Lord John
urged that France and Austria should agree not to employ armed
intervention for the future in the affairs of Italy, unless called upon
to do so by the unanimous voice of the five Great Powers of Europe. He
further contended that Napoleon III. 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. In March 1860, in a speech in the
House of Commons, he declared that the course which the Emperor Napoleon
had taken was of a kind to produce great distrust all over Europe. He
regarded the annexation of Savoy, not merely as in itself an act of
aggression, but as one which was likely to 'lead a nation so warlike as
the French to call upon its Government from time to time to commit other
acts of aggression.' England wished to live on the most friendly terms
with France. It was necessary, however, for the nations of Europe to
maintain peace, to respect not merely each others' rights, but each
others' boundaries, and, above all, to restore, and not to disturb that
'commercial confidence which is the result of peace, which tends to
peace, and which ultimately 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 knew no
bounds, and they determined to work out their own redemption.

Garibaldi had already distinguished himself in the campaign which had
culminated at Solferino, and he now took the field against the Bourbons
in Naples and Sicily, whilst insurrections broke out in other parts of
Italy. France suggested that England should help her in arresting
Garibaldi's victorious march, but Lord John was too old a friend of
freedom to respond to such a proposal. He held that the Neapolitan
Government--the iniquities of which Mr. Gladstone had exposed in an
outburst of righteous indignation in 1851--must be left to reap the
consequences of 'misgovernment which had no parallel in all Europe.'
Garibaldi, carried thither by the enthusiasm of humanity and the justice
of his cause, entered Naples in triumph on September 7, 1860, the day
after the ignominious flight of Francis II. Victor Emmanuel was
proclaimed King of Italy two days later, and when he met the new
Parliament of his widened realm at Turin he was able to declare: 'Our
country is no more the Italy of the Romans, nor the Italy of the Middle
Ages: it is no longer the field for every foreign ambition, it becomes
henceforth the Italy of the Italians.'

Lord John's part in the struggle did him infinite credit. He held
resolutely to the view all through the crisis, and in the face of the
censure of Austria, France, Prussia, and Russia, that the Italians were
the best judges of their own interests, and that the Italian revolution
was as justifiable as the English revolution of 1688. He declared that,
far from censuring Victor Emmanuel and Count Cavour, her Majesty's
Government preferred to turn its eyes to the 'gratifying prospect of a
people building up the edifice of their liberties, and consolidating the
work of their independence, 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 the verdict of the
nation in generous words of doggerel verse:

    'Well said, Johnny Russell! That latest despatch
    You have sent to Turin is exactly the thing;
    And again, my dear John, you come up to the scratch
    With a pluck that does credit to you and the Ring.'


The utmost enthusiasm prevailed in Italy when the terms of Lord John's
despatch became known. Count Cavour and General Garibaldi vied with each
other in emphatic acknowledgments, and Lord John was assured that he 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 to any crowned head in the Queen's reign. He went down to
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 gratitude of the nation, in the shape of an
exquisite marble statue by Carlo Romano, representing Young Italy
holding in her outstretched arms a diadem, inscribed with the arms of
its united States. During subsequent visits to Florence and San Remo he
was received with demonstrations of popular respect, and at the latter
place, shortly after his final retirement from office in 1866, he said,
in reply to an address: 'I thank you with all my heart for the honour
you have done me. I rejoice with you in seeing Italy free and
independent, with a monarchical government and under a patriotic king.
The Italian nation has all the elements of a prosperous political life,
which had been wanting for many centuries. The union of religion,
liberty, and civil order will increase the prosperity of this beautiful


A still more delicate problem of international policy, and one which
naturally came much nearer home to English susceptibilities, arose in
the autumn of 1861--a year which 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
forty-two, 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--it might almost be said a disaster--to the nation. It was
not until the closing 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, the Prince
Consort in the early years of her Majesty's reign was somewhat formal in
his manners and punctilious in his demands. The published records of the
reign show that he was inclined to lean too much to the wisdom, which
was not always 'profitable to direct,' of Baron Stockmar, a trusted
adviser of the Court, of autocratic instincts and strong prejudices, who
failed to understand either the genius of the English constitution or
the temper of the English race. It is an open secret that the Prince
Consort during the first 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; and there were undoubtedly occasions when in both capacities he
magnified his office. Even if the Great Exhibition of 1851 had been
memorable for nothing else, it would have been noteworthy as the period
which marked a new departure in the Prince's relations with all grades
of her Majesty's subjects. It not only brought him into touch with the
people, but it brought into view, as well as into play, his practical
mastery of affairs, and also his enlightened sympathy with the progress
in art and science, no less than in the commercial activities, of the
nation. It was not, however, until the closing years of his life, when
the dreary escapades of the Coalition Ministry were beginning to be
forgotten, that the great qualities of the Prince Consort were
appreciated to any adequate degree. From the close of the Crimean War to
his untimely death, at the beginning of the Civil War in America, was
unquestionably the happiest as well as the most influential period in a
life which was at once sensitive and upright.

It ought in common fairness to be added that the character of the Prince
mellowed visibly during his later years, and that the formality of his
earlier manner was exchanged for a more genial attitude towards those
with whom he came in contact in the duties and society of the Court. Mr.
Disraeli told Count Vitzthum that if the Prince Consort had outlived the
'old stagers' of political life with whom he was surrounded, he would
have given to England--though with constitutional guarantees--the
'blessing of absolute government.' Although such a verdict palpably
overshot the mark, it is significant in itself and worthy of record,
since it points both to the strength and the limitations of an
illustrious life. There are passages in Lady Russell's diary, of too
personal and too sacred a character to 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. High but artless tribute is paid in the same pages to the Queen's
devotion to duty under the heart-breaking strain of a loss which
overshadowed with sorrow every home in England, as well as the Palace at
Windsor, at Christmas, 1861.

  [Sidenote: THE 'TRENT' AFFAIR]

The last act of the Prince Consort of an official kind was to soften
certain expressions in the interests of international peace and goodwill
in the famous despatch which was sent by the English Government, at the
beginning of December, to the British Ambassador at Washington, when a
deadlock suddenly arose between England and the United States over the
'Trent' affair, and war seemed imminent. Hostilities had broken out
between the North and the South in the previous July, and the opinion of
England was sharply divided on the merits of the struggle. The bone of
contention, to put the matter concisely, was the refusal of South
Carolina and ten other States to submit to the authority of the Central
Government of the Union. It was an old quarrel which had existed from
the foundation of the American Commonwealth, for the individual States
of the Union had always been jealous of any infringement of the right of
self-government; but slavery was now the ostensible root of bitterness,
and matters were complicated by radical divergences on the subject of
tariffs. The Southern States took a high hand against the Federal
Government. They seceded from the Union, and announced their
independence to the world at large, under the style and title of the
Confederate States of America. Flushed by the opening victory which
followed the first appeal to the sword, the Confederate Government
determined to send envoys to Europe. Messrs. Mason and Slidell embarked
at Havana, at the 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 Captain Wilkes, her commander,
demanded that the Confederate envoys and their secretaries should be
handed over to his charge. The captain of the 'Trent' made a vigorous
protest against this sort of armed intervention, but he had no
alternative except to yield, and Messrs. Mason and Slidell 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 of the Press and of the streets grew suddenly
fierce and strong, and the universal feeling 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 flag and a
violation of international law.' He made it plain that her Majesty's
Ministers were not prepared to allow such an insult to pass without
'full reparation;' but, at the same time, he refused to believe that it
could be the 'deliberate intention' of the Government of the United
States to force upon them so grave a question. He therefore expressed
the hope that the United States of its own accord would at once 'offer
to the British Government such redress as alone could satisfy the
British nation.' He added that this 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,
Prussia, Russia, and Italy made against so wanton an outrage.

The war took its course, and it seemed on more than one occasion as if
England must take sides in a struggle which, it soon became apparent,
was to be fought out to the bitter end. Thoughts of mediation had
occurred, both to Lord Palmerston and Lord Russell, and in 1862 they
contemplated the thankless task of mediation, but the project was
abandoned as at least premature. Feeling ran high in England over the
discussion as to whether the 'great domestic institution' of Negro
slavery really lay at the basis of the struggle or not, and public
opinion was split into hostile camps. Sympathy with the North was
alienated by the marked honours which were paid to the commander of the
'San Jacinto;' and the bravery with which the South fought, for what
many people persisted in declaring was merely the right of
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 more imperilled. 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


The Cabinet submitted the question to the law officers of the Crown;
delay followed, and whilst 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, who at
that time was Solicitor-General, wrote for these pages the following
detailed and, of course, authoritative statement of what transpired, and
the facts which he recounts show that Lord Russell, in spite of the
generous admission which he himself made in his 'Recollections,' was in
reality not responsible for a blunder which almost led to war, and which
when submitted to arbitration at Geneva cost England--besides much
irritation--the sum of 3,000,000_l._

'It was when Lord Russell was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs,
during the American Civil War, and when I was one of the Law Officers of
the Crown, that I first became personally well acquainted with him; and
from that time he honoured me with his friendship. In this way I had
good opportunities of knowledge on some subjects as to which he has been
at times misrepresented or misunderstood; and perhaps I may best do
honour to his memory by referring to those subjects.

'There can be no idea more unfounded than that which would call in
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 between the
citizens of a 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. Lord Russell did not think
it safe or expedient to endeavour to restrict that liberty. When asked
to put in force Acts of Parliament made for the better protection of our
neutrality, he took, with promptitude and with absolute good faith, such
measures as it would have been proper to take in any case in which our
own public interests were concerned; but he thought (and in my judgment
he was entirely right in thinking) that it was not the duty of a British
Minister, seeking to enforce British statute law, to add to other risks
of failure that of unconstitutional disregard of the securities for the
liberty of the subject, provided by the system on which British laws
generally are administered and enforced.

'It was not through any fault or negligence of Lord Russell that the
ship "Alabama," or any other vessel equipped for the war service of the
Confederate States, left the ports of this country. The course taken by
him in all those cases was the same. He considered that some _prima
facie_ evidence of an actual or intended violation either of our own law
or of the law of nations (such as might be produced in a court of
justice) was necessary, and that in 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 which the
law placed in his power. If in any case the Board of Customs may have
been ill-advised, and omitted (as Sir Alexander Cockburn thought) to
take precautions which they ought otherwise to have taken, this was no
fault of Lord Russell; 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;
without which that vessel might never have gone to sea.


'Lord Russell stated to Mr. Adams, immediately afterwards, that Sir
John Harding's illness was the cause of that delay. No one then called
that statement in question, which could not have been made without good
foundation. But after a lapse of many years, when almost everybody who
had known the exact circumstances was dead, stories inconsistent with it
obtained currency. Of these, the most remarkable was published in 1881,
in a book widely read, the "Reminiscences" of the late Thomas Mozley.
The writer appears to have persuaded himself (certainly without any
foundation in fact) that "there was not one of her Majesty's Ministers
who was not ready to jump out of his skin for joy when he heard of the
escape of the 'Alabama.'"[40] He said that he met Sir John Harding
"shortly after the 'Alabama' had got away," and was told by him that he
(Sir John) had been expecting a communication from Government anxiously
the whole week before, that the expectation had unsettled and unnerved
him for other business, and that he had stayed in chambers rather later
than usual on Saturday for the chance of hearing at last 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. To all appearance, every letter
and every remonstrance and every affidavit, as fast as it arrived from
Liverpool, had been piled in a pigeon-hole till four or five o'clock on
Saturday, when the Minister, on taking his own departure for the
country, had directed a clerk to tie up the whole heap and carry it to
Doctors' Commons.

'The facts are, that in the earlier stage of that business, before July
23, the Attorney- and Solicitor-General only were consulted, and Sir
John Harding knew nothing at all about it. No part of the statement said
by Mr. Mozley to have been made to him could possibly be true; because
during the whole time in question Sir John Harding was under care for
unsoundness of mind, from which he never even partially recovered, and
which prevented him from attending to any kind of business, or going
into court, or to his chambers, or to his country house. He was in that
condition on July 23, 1862 (Wednesday, not Saturday) when the
depositions on which the question of the detention of the "Alabama"
turned were received at the Foreign Office. Lord Russell, not knowing
that he was ill, and thinking it desirable, from the importance of the
matter, to have the opinion of all 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
been delivered by the messenger, in the ordinary course, at Sir 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 28th, and lost no time in holding a
consultation with the Solicitor-General. Their opinion, advising that
the ship should be stopped, was in Lord Russell's hands early the next
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 John Harding's illness remained,
until lately, in more or less obscurity, and Mr. Mozley's was not the
only erroneous version of them which got abroad. One such version having
been mentioned, as if authentic, in a debate in the House of Commons on
March 17, 1893, I wrote to the "Times" to correct it; and in
confirmation of my statement the gentleman who had been Sir John
Harding's medical attendant in July 1862 came forward, and by reference
to his diary, kept at the time, placed the facts and dates beyond future


'In the diplomatic correspondence, as to the "Alabama" and other
subjects of complaint by the United States, Lord Russell stood firmly
upon the ground that Great Britain had not failed in any duty of
neutrality; and Lord Lyons, the sagacious Minister 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 strict and steady adherence to it. But no sooner was
the war ended than new currents of opinion set in. In a debate on the
subject in the House of Commons on March 6, 1868, Lord Stanley (then
Foreign Secretary), who had never been of the same mind about it with
his less cautious friends, said that a "tendency might be detected to be
almost too ready to accuse ourselves of faults we had not committed, and
to assume that on every doubtful point the decision ought to be against
us." The sequel is well known. 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 force within the
British dominions for the war service of the Confederate States; and
from that concession no other Government could recede. For a long time
the Government or the Senate of the United States objected to any
reference so limited, and to the last they refused to go into an open
arbitration. They made it a condition, that new Rules should be
formulated, not only for future observance, but for retrospective
application to their own claims. This condition, 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

'While the Commissioners at Washington were engaged in their
deliberations, I was in frequent communication both with Lord Granville
and other members of the Cabinet, and also with Lord Russell, who could
not be brought to approve of that way of settling the controversy. He
had an invincible repugnance to the reference of any questions affecting
the honour and good faith of this country, or its internal
administration, to foreign arbitrators; and he thought those questions
would not be excluded by the proposed arrangement. He felt no confidence
that any reciprocal advantages to this country would be obtained from
the new Rules. Their only effect, in his view, would be to send us
handicapped into the arbitration. He did not believe that the United
States would follow the example which we had set, by strengthening their
Neutrality Laws; or that they would be able, unless they did so, to
prevent violations of the Rules by their citizens in any future war in
which we might be belligerent and they neutral, any more than they had
been able in former times to prevent the equipment of ships within their
territory against Spain and Portugal. It was not without difficulty that
he restrained himself from giving public expression to those views; but,
from generous and patriotic motives, he did so. The sequel is not likely
to have convinced him that his apprehensions were groundless. The
character of the "Case" presented on the part of the United States, with
the "indirect claims," and the arguments used to support them, would
have prevented the arbitration from proceeding at all, but for 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 Rules, without any reference to general
international law or historical precedents; and the United States have
done nothing, down to this day, to strengthen their Neutrality Laws,
though certainly requiring it, at least as much as ours did before


Lord Russell then held resolutely to the view that her Majesty's
Government had steadily endeavoured to maintain a policy of strict
neutrality, and so long as he was in power at the Foreign Office, or at
the Treasury, the demands of the United States for compensation were
ignored. Meanwhile, 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 closely together in the gentle task of philanthropy, as well as in
admiration of the uncomplaining heroism with which privation was met by
the suffering workpeople.


[39] _The Liberation of Italy_, 1815-1870, by the Countess Evelyn
Martinengo Cesaresco (Seeley and Co. 1895), p. 252.

[40] Second edition, 1892, chap. xcii.




     The Polish Revolt--Bismarck's bid for power--The Schleswig-Holstein
     difficulty--Death of Lord Palmerston--The Queen 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 feeling in the country.

LORD JOHN, in his conduct of foreign affairs, acted with generosity
towards Italy and with mingled firmness and patience towards America. It
was a fortunate circumstance, for the great interests at stake on both
sides of the Atlantic, that a man of so much judgment and right feeling
was in power at a moment when prejudice was strong and passion ran high.
Grote, who was by no means consumed with enthusiasm for the Palmerston
Government, did not conceal his admiration of Lord John's sagacity at
this crisis. 'The perfect neutrality of England in the destructive civil
war now raging in America appears to me almost a phenomenon in political
history. No such forbearance has been shown during the political history
of the last two centuries. It is the single case in which the English
Government and public, generally so meddlesome, have displayed most
prudent and commendable forbearance in spite of great temptations to
the contrary.' Lord John had opinions, and the courage of them; but at
the same time he showed himself fully alive to the fact that no greater
calamity 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 of a renewed
Polish revolt. Russia provoked the outbreak 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 'so-called conscription was turned into a
proscription.' The lot was made to fall on all political suspects, who
were to be condemned for life to follow the hated Russian flag. The
result was not merely armed resistance, but civil war. Poland, in her
struggle for liberty, was joined 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 ended the dreams of self-government in
Poland, after months of bloodshed and cruelty, were again ruthlessly


One diplomatic difficulty followed another in quick succession. Bismarck
was beginning to move the pawns on the chess-board of Europe. He had
conciliated Russia by taking sides with her against the Poles in spite
of the attitude of London, Paris, and Vienna. He feared the spirit of
insurrection would spread to the Poles in Prussia, and had no sympathy
with the aspirations of oppressed nationalities. His policy was to make
Prussia strong--if need be by 'blood and iron'--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 in 1852 was
supposed to have settled the question, and its terms had been accepted
by Austria and Prussia. The integrity of Denmark was recognised, and
Prince Christian of Glucksburg was accepted as heir-presumptive of the
reigning king. The German Diet did not regard this arrangement as
binding, and the 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 here into the merits of the quarrel, much less
to describe the course of the struggle or the complicated diplomatic
negotiations which grew out of it. Denmark undoubtedly imagined that the
energetic protest of the English Government against her dismemberment
would not end in mere words. The language used by both Lord Palmerston
and Lord John Russell was of a kind to encourage the idea of the
adoption, in the last extremity, of another policy than that of
non-intervention. Bismarck, on the other hand, it has been said with
truth, had taken up the cause of Schleswig-Holstein, not in the interest
of its inhabitants, but in the interests of Germany, and by Germany he
meant the Government of Berlin and the House of Hohenzollern. He
represented not merely other ideas, but other methods than those which
prevailed with statesmen who were old enough to recall the wars of
Napoleon and the partition of Europe to which they gave rise. It
must be admitted that England did not show to advantage in the
Schleswig-Holstein difficulty, in spite of the soundness of her
counsels; and Bismarck's triumph in the affair was as complete as the
policy on which it was based was bold and adroit. Lord 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
their 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, 'if we had had colleagues like those who
sat in Pitt's Cabinet, such as Westmoreland and others, or such men as
those who were with Peel, like Goulburn and Hardinge, you and I might
have had our own way in most things. But when, as is now the case, able
men fill every department, such men will have opinions and hold to them.
Unfortunately, they are often too busy with their own department to
follow up foreign questions so as to be fully masters of them, and their
conclusions are generally on the timid side of what might be the


Lord John wrote to Foreign Courts--was Mr. Bagehot's shrewd
criticism--much in the same manner as he was accustomed to speak in the
House of Commons. In other words, he used great plainness of speech,
and, because of the very desire to make his meaning clear, he, was
occasionally indiscreetly explicit and even brusque. Sometimes it
happened that the intelligent foreigner grew critical at Lord John's
expense. Count Vitzthum, for example, 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. There was just enough truth in such assertions to
render them amusing, though not enough to give them a sting. There were
times when Lord John was the 'stormy petrel' of foreign politics, but
there never was a time when he ceased to labour in season and out for
what he believed to be the honour of England. 'I do not believe that any
English foreign statesman, who 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 for his full
share of abuse in Europe. One of Lord John Russell's subordinates at the
Foreign Office, well known and distinguished in the political life of
to-day, declares that Lord John, like Lord Clarendon, was accustomed to
write many drafts of despatches with his own hand, but as a rule did not
go with equal minuteness into the detail of the work. It sometimes
happened that he would take sudden resolutions without adequate
consideration of the points involved; but he would always listen
patiently to objections, and when convinced that he was wrong was
perfectly willing to modify his opinion. In most cases, however, Lord
John did not make up his mind without due reflection, and under such
circumstances he showed no vacillation. No tidings from abroad, however
startling or unpleasant, seemed able to disturb his equanimity. He was
an extremely considerate chief, but, though always willing to listen to
his subordinates, kept his own counsel and seldom took them much into
his confidence.


The year 1865 was rendered memorable both in England and America by the
death of statesmen of the first rank. In the spring, that great master
of reason and economic reform, Richard Cobden, died in London, after a
few days' illness, in the prime of life; and almost before the nation
realised the greatness of such a loss, tidings came across the Atlantic
that President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated at Washington, in
the hour of triumph, by a cowardly fanatic. The summer in England was
made restless by a General Election. Though Bright denounced Lord
Palmerston, and Mr. Gladstone lost his seat at Oxford, to stand
'unmuzzled' a few days later before the electors of South-West
Lancashire, the predicted Conservative reaction was not an accomplished
fact. Lord Palmerston's ascendency in the country, though diminished,
was still great, and the magic of his name carried the election. 'It is
clear,' wrote Lord John to the plucky octogenarian Premier, when the
latter, some time before the contest, made a fighting speech in the
country, 'that your popularity is a plant of hardy growth and deep
roots.' Quite suddenly, in the spring of 1865, Lord Palmerston began to
look as old as his years, and as the summer slipped past, it became
apparent that the buoyant elasticity of temperament had vanished. On
October 18 the great Minister died in harness, and Lord John Russell,
who was only eight years younger, was called to the helm.

The two men, more than once in mid-career, had serious
misunderstandings, and envious lips had done their best to widen their
differences. It is pleasant to think now that Palmerston and Russell
were on cordial and intimate terms during the critical six years, when
the former held for the last time the post of First Minister of the
Crown, and the latter was responsible for Foreign Affairs. It is true
that they were not of one mind on the question of Parliamentary Reform;
but Lord John, after 1860 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 movement in that direction, and the strain of war abroad
and famine at home hindered the calm discussion of constitutional
problems. Lord Lyttelton used to say that Palmerston was regarded as a
Whig because he belonged to Lord Grey's Government, and had always
thrown in his lot with that statesman's political posterity. At the same
time, Lord Lyttelton held--even as late as 1865--that a 'more genuine
Conservative, especially in home affairs, it would not be easy to find.'
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 arose, sometimes in a sudden and dramatic form, at a
period when the power of Napoleon III., in spite of theatrical display,
was declining, and Bismarck was shaping with consummate skill the
fortunes of Germany.

  [Sidenote: PRIME MINISTER]

The day after Palmerston's death her Majesty wrote in the following
terms to Lord John: 'The melancholy news of Lord Palmerston's death
reached the Queen last night. This is another link with the past that is
broken, and the Queen feels deeply in her desolate and isolated
condition how, one by one, tried servants and advisers are taken from
her.... The Queen can turn to no other than Lord Russell, an old and
tried friend of hers, to undertake the arduous duties of Prime
Minister, and to carry on the Government.' Such a command was met by
Lord John with the response that he was willing to act if his colleagues
were prepared to serve under him. Mr. Gladstone's position in the
country and in the councils 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 John's
letter by offering, in a frank and generous spirit, to serve under the
old Liberal leader. Mr. Gladstone declared that he was quite willing to
take his chance under Lord John's 'banner,' and to continue his services
as Chancellor of the Exchequer. This offer was of course accepted, and
Mr. Gladstone also took Lord Palmerston's place as Leader of the House
of Commons. Lord Cranworth became Lord Chancellor, Lord Clarendon took
Lord John's place at the Foreign Office, the Duke of Argyll and Sir
George Grey 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, Lord Dufferin, and Mr.
Stansfeld became respectively 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 in November, Lord John took occasion to pay
a warm tribute to Palmerston: 'It is a great loss indeed, because he was
a man qualified to conduct the country successfully through all the
vicissitudes of war and peace.' He declared that Lord Palmerston
displayed resolution, resource, promptitude, and vigour in the conduct
of foreign affairs, showed himself also able to maintain internal
tranquillity, and, by extending commercial relationships, 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 comprehended and his experience embraced the whole
field which is covered by the interests of the nation.

The new Premier made no secret of his conviction that, if the Ministry
was to last, it must be either frankly Liberal or frankly Conservative.
As he had the chief voice in the matter, and was bent on a new Reform
Bill, it became, after certain changes had been effected, much more
progressive than was possible under Palmerston. Parliament was opened on
February 1, 1866, by the Queen in person, for the first time since the
death of the Prince Consort, and the chief point of interest in the
Speech from the Throne was the guarded promise of a Reform Bill. The
attention 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. Lord
John determined to make haste slowly, for some of his colleagues were
hardly inclined to make haste at all, since they shared Lord
Palmerston's views on the subject and distrusted the Radical cry which
had arisen since the industrial revolution. The Premier and Mr.
Gladstone--for they were a kind of Committee of Two--were content for
the moment to propose a revision of the franchise, and to leave in
ambush for another session the vexed question involved in a
redistribution of seats. 'It was decided,' states Lord John, 'that it
would be best to separate the question of the franchise from that of the
disfranchisement of boroughs. After much inquiry, we agreed to fix the
suffrages of boroughs at an occupation of 7_l._ value.'


The House of Commons was densely packed when Mr. Gladstone introduced
the measure on March 12, but, in spite of his powers of exposition and
infectious enthusiasm, the Government proposals fell undeniably flat.
Broadly stated, they were as follows. The county franchise was to be
dropped to 14_l._, and that of the borough, as already stated, to half
that amount, whilst compound householders and lodgers paying 10_l._ 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 'best of the working classes.' Mr. Bright, and those 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. At the same time the country was not
greatly stirred one way or another by the scheme, though it stirred to
panic-stricken indignation men of the stamp of Mr. Lowe, Mr. Horsman,
Lord Elcho, Earl Grosvenor, Lord Dunkellin, and other so-called, but
very indifferent, 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 their ridiculous fear of the democracy. They retired
into what Mr. Bright termed the 'political cave of Adullam,' and, as
Lord John said, the 'timid, the selfish, and those who were both selfish
and timid' joined the sorry company.

The Conservatives saw their opportunity, and, being human, took it. Lord
Grosvenor brought forward an amendment calling attention to the omission
of a redistribution scheme. A debate, which occupied eight nights,
followed, and when it was in progress, Mr. Gladstone, in defending his
own conduct as Leader of the House, incidentally paid an impressive
tribute to the memorable and protracted services in the Commons of Lord

'If, sir, I had been the man who, at the very outset of his career,
wellnigh half a century ago, had with an almost prophetic foresight
fastened upon two great groups of questions, those great historic
questions relating to the removal of civil disabilities for religious
opinions and to Parliamentary Reform; if I had been the man who, having
thus in his early youth, in the very first stage of his political
career, fixed upon those questions and made them his own, then went on
to prosecute them with sure and unflagging instinct until the triumph in
each case had been achieved; if I had been the man whose name had been
associated for forty years, and often in the very first place of
eminence, with every element of beneficent legislation--in other words,
had I been Earl Russell, then there might have been some temptation to
pass into excess on the exercise of authority, and some excuse for the
endeavour to apply to this House a pressure in itself unjustifiable.
But, sir, I am not Earl Russell.'

In the end, Lord Grosvenor's amendment was lost by a majority equal only
to the fingers of one hand. Such an unmistakeable expression of opinion
could not be disregarded, and the Government brought in a Redistribution
of Seats Bill at the beginning of May. They proposed that thirty
boroughs having a population of less than eight thousand should be
deprived of one member, whilst nineteen other seats were obtained by
joint representation in smaller boroughs. After running the gauntlet of
much hostile criticism, the bill was read a second time, but the
Government were forced to refer it and the franchise scheme to a
committee, which was empowered to deal with both schemes. Lord Stanley,
Mr. Ward Hunt, and Mr. Walpole assailed with successive motions, which
were more or less narrowly rejected, various points in the Government
proposals, and the opposition grew more and more stubborn. At length
Lord Dunkellin (son of the Earl of Clanricarde) moved to substitute
rating for rental in the boroughs; and the Government, 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 who thought that the country cared
little about the question found themselves suddenly disillusioned.


Burke declared that there were moments when it became necessary for the
people themselves to interpose on behalf of their rights. The overthrow
of the Russell Administration took the nation by surprise. Three days
after Lord John's resignation there was a historic gathering in
Trafalgar Square. In his speech announcing the resignation of his
Ministry, Lord John warned Parliament about the danger of alienating the
sympathy of the people from the Crown and the aristocracy. He reminded
the Peers that universal suffrage prevailed not only in the United
States but in our own Colonies; and he took his stand in the light of
the larger needs of the new era, on the assertion of Lord Grey at the
time of the Reform Bill that only a large measure was a safe measure.
'We have made the attempt,' added Lord John, 'sincerely and anxiously to
perform the duties of reconciling that which is due to the Constitution
of the country with that which is due to the growing intelligence, the
increasing wealth, and the manifest forbearance, virtue, and order of
the people.' He protested against a niggardly and ungenerous treatment
of so momentous a question.

Lord Russell's words were not lost on Mr. Bradlaugh. He made them the
text of his speech to the twenty thousand people who assembled in
Trafalgar Square, and afterwards walked in procession to give Mr.
Gladstone an ovation in Carlton House Terrace. About three weeks later
another great demonstration was announced to take place in Hyde Park,
under the auspices of the Reform League. The authorities refused to
allow the gathering, and, after a formal protest, the meeting was held
at the former rendezvous. The mixed multitude who had followed the
procession to the Park gates took the repulse less calmly, with the
result that, as much by accident as by design, the Park railings for the
space of half a mile were thrown down. Force is no remedy, but a little
of it is sometimes a good object-lesson, and the panic which this
unpremeditated display occasioned amongst the valiant defenders of law
and order was unmistakeable.

  [Sidenote: 'DISHING THE WHIGS']

Mr. Lowe had flouted the people, and had publicly asserted that those
who were without the franchise did not really care to possess it.
Forty-three other so-called Liberals in the House of Commons were
apparently of the same way of thinking, for the Russell Administration
was defeated by forty-four 'Liberal' votes. This in itself shows that
Lord John, up to the hour in which he was driven from power, was far in
advance of one section of his followers. The great towns, and more
particularly Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds, promptly took up the
challenge; and in those three centres alone half a million of people
assembled to 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 earlier the
Russell Government would have carried its Reform proposals, and Disraeli
would have lost his chance of 'dishing the Whigs.' The defeat of Lord
John Russell was a virtual triumph. He was driven from power by a rally
of reactionary forces at the very moment when he was fighting the battle
of the people.[42] The Tories were only able to hold their own by
borrowing a leaf from his book, and bringing in a more drastic measure
of reform.


[41] _Life and Correspondence of Viscount Palmerston_, by the Hon.
Evelyn Ashley, vol. ii. p. 438.

[42] In a letter written in the spring of 1867, Lord Houghton refers to
Mr. Gladstone as being 'quite awed' for the moment by the 'diabolical
cleverness of Dizzy.' He adds: 'Delane says the extreme party for Reform
are now the grandees, and that the Dukes are quite ready to follow Beale
into Hyde Park.'--_The Life, Letters, and Friendships of Lord Houghton_,
by Sir Wemyss Reid, vol. ii. pp. 174-5.




     Speeches in the House of Lords--Leisured years--Mr. Lecky's
     reminiscences--The question of the Irish Church--The Independence
     of Belgium--Lord John on the claims of the Vatican--Letters to Mr.
     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 saw him.

LORD JOHN never relinquished that high sense of responsibility 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 public duty. He took,
not merely a keen interest, but an appreciable share in public affairs;
and some of the speeches which he delivered in the House of Lords after
his retirement from office show how vigorous and acute his intellect
remained, and how wide and generous were his sympathies. The leisured
years which came to Lord John after the fall of the second Russell
Administration enabled him to renew old friendships, and gave him the
opportunity for making the acquaintance of distinguished men of a
younger generation. His own historical studies--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.
W. E. H. Lecky. Few of the reminiscences, great or small, which have
been written for these pages, can compare in interest with the following
statement by so philosophic a critic of public affairs and so acute a
judge of men:--


'It was, I think, in 1866, and in the house of Dean Milman, that I had
the privilege of being introduced to Lord Russell. He at once received
me with a warmth and kindness I can never forget, and from this time
till near the end of his life I saw him very frequently. His Ministerial
career had just terminated, but I could trace no failure in his powers,
and, whatever difference of opinion there might be about his public
career, no one, I believe, who ever 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 copious and brilliant stream of words, dazzling, astonishing, or
overpowering. It had no tendency to monologue, and it was not remarkable
for any striking originalities either of language, metaphor, or thought.
Few men steered more clear of paradox, and the charm of his talk lay
mainly in his admirable terseness and clearness of expression, in the
skill 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 I
have ever known, he had the gift of seizing rapidly in every question
the central argument, the essential fact or distinction; and of all his
mental characteristics, quickness and soundness of judgment seemed to me
the most conspicuous. I have never met with anyone with whom it was so
possible to discuss with profit many great questions in a short time. No
one, too, could know him intimately without being impressed with his
high sense of honour, with his transparent purity of motive, with the
fundamental kindliness of his disposition, with the remarkable modesty
of his estimate of his own past. He was eminently tolerant of difference
of opinion, and he had in private life an imperturbable sweetness of
temper that set those about him completely at their ease, and helped
much to make them talk their best. Few men had more anecdotes, and no
one told them better--tersely, accurately, with a quiet, subdued humour,
with a lightness of touch which I should not have expected from his
writings. In addition to the experiences of a long and eventful life,
his mind was stored with the anecdotes of the brilliant Whig society of
Holland House, of which he was one of the last repositories. It is much
to be regretted that he did not write down his "Recollections" till a
period of life when his once admirable memory was manifestly failing. He
was himself sadly conscious of the failure. "I used never to confuse my
facts," he once said to me; "I now find that I am beginning to do so."

'He has mentioned in his "Recollections" as one of the great felicities
of his life that he retained the friendship of his leading opponents,
and his private conversation fully supported this view. Of Sir Robert
Peel he always spoke with a special respect, and it was, I think, a
matter of peculiar pleasure to him that in his old age his family was
closely connected by marriage with that of his illustrious rival. His
friendship with Lord Derby, which began when they were colleagues, was
unbroken by many contests. He spoke of him, however, as a man of
brilliant talent, who had not the judgment or the character suited for
the first place; and he maintained that he had done much better both
under Lord Grey and under Sir Robert Peel than as Prime Minister.
Between Lord Russell and Disraeli there was, I believe, on both sides
much kindly feeling, though no two men could be less like, and though
there was much in Disraeli's ways of looking at things that must have
been peculiarly trying to the Whig mind. Lord Russell told me that he
once described him in Parliament by quoting the lines of Dryden:--

    'He was not one on picking work to dwell.
    He fagotted his notions as they fell;
    And if they rhymed and rattled, all was well.'

  [Sidenote: HIS EARLY CHIEFS]

'Of his early chiefs, he used to speak with most reverence of Lord Grey.
Lord Melbourne, he said, greatly injured his Government by the manner in
which he treated deputations. He never could resist the temptation of
bantering and snubbing them. Two men who flourished in his youth
surpassed, Lord Russell thought, in eloquence any of the later
generation. They were Canning and Plunket, and as an orator the greater
of these was Plunket. Among the statesmen of a former generation, he had
an especial admiration for Walpole, and was accustomed to maintain that
he was a much greater statesman than Pitt. His judgment, indeed, of Pitt
always seemed to me much warped by that adoration of Fox which in the
early years of the century was almost an article of religion in Whig
circles. Lord Russell had also the true Whig reverence for William III.,
and, I am afraid, he was by no means satisfied with some pages I wrote
about that sovereign.

'Speaking of Lord Palmerston, I once said to him that I was struck with
the small net result in legislation which he accomplished considering
the many years he was in power. "But during all these years," Lord
Russell replied, "he kept the honour of England very high; and I think
that a great thing."

'The Imperialist sentiment was one of the deepest in his nature, and few
things exasperated him more than the school which was advocating the
surrender of India and the Colonies. "When I was young," he once said to
me, "it was thought the work of a wise statesman that he had turned a
small kingdom into a great empire. In my old age it seems to be thought
the object of a statesman to turn a great empire into a small kingdom."
He thought we had made a grave mistake, when conceding self-government
to the Colonies, in not reserving the waste lands and free trade with
the Mother Country; and he considered that the right of veto on
legislation, which had been reserved, ought to have been always
exercised (as he said it was under Lord Grey) when duties were imposed
on English goods. In Irish politics he greatly blamed Canning, who
agreed with the Whigs about Catholic Emancipation, though he differed
from them about Reform. The former question, he said, was then by far
the more pressing, and if Canning had insisted on making it a
first-class ministerial question he would have carried it in conjunction
with the Whigs. "My pride in Irish measures," he once wrote to me, "is
in the Poor Law, which I designed, framed, and twice carried." Like
Peel, he strongly maintained that the priests ought to have been paid.
He would gladly have seen the principle of religious equality in Ireland
carried to its furthest consequences, and local government considerably
extended; but he told me that any statesman who proposed to repeal the
Union ought to be impeached, and in his "Recollections," and in one of
his published letters to the present Lord Carlingford, he has expressed
in the strongest terms his inflexible hostility to Home Rule.


'Though the steadiest of Whigs, Lord Russell was by no means an
uncompromising democrat. The great misfortune, he said, of America was
that the influence of Jefferson had eclipsed that of Washington. One of
her chief advantages was that the Western States furnished a wide and
harmless field for restless energy and ambition. In England he was very
anxious that progress should move on the lines of the past, and he was
under the impression that statesmen of the present generation studied
English history less than their predecessors. He was one of the earliest
advocates of the Minority Vote, and he certainly looked with very
considerable apprehension to the effects of the Democratic Reform Bill
of 1867. He said to me that he feared there was too much truth in the
saying of one of his friends that "the concessions of the Whigs were
once concessions to intelligence, but now concessions to ignorance."

'When the Education Act was carried, he was strongly in favour of the
introduction of the Bible, accompanied by purely undenominational
teaching. This was, I think, one of his last important declarations on
public policy. I recollect a scathing article in the "Saturday Review,"
demonstrating the absurdity of supposing that such teaching was
possible. But the people of England took a different view. The great
majority of the School Boards adopted the system which Lord Russell
recommended, and it prevailed with almost perfect harmony for more than
twenty years.

'In foreign politics he looked with peculiar pleasure to the services he
had rendered to the Italian cause. Italy was always very dear to him. He
had many valued friends there, and he spoke Italian (as he also did
Spanish) with much fluency. Among my most vivid recollections are those
of some happy days I spent with him at San Remo.'

Two years before the disestablishment of the Irish Church, Lord John
Russell, knowing how great a stumbling-block its privileges were to the
progress of the people, moved for a Commission to inquire into the
expenditure of its revenues. The investigation was, however, staved off,
and the larger question was, in consequence, hastened. He supported Mr.
Gladstone in a powerful speech in 1870, and showed himself in
substantial agreement with Mr. Forster over his great scheme of
education, though he thought that some of its provisions bore heavily
upon Nonconformists. The outbreak of war between France and Germany
seemed at first to threaten the interests of England, and Lord John
introduced a Militia Bill, which was only withdrawn when the Government
promised to take action. The interests of Belgium were threatened by the
struggle on the Continent, and Lord John took occasion to remind the
nation that we were bound to defend that country, and had guaranteed by
treaty to uphold its independence:--

'... I am persuaded that if it is once manfully declared that England
means to stand by her treaties, to perform her engagements--that her
honour and her interest would allow nothing else--such a declaration
would check the greater part of these intrigues, and that neither France
nor Prussia would wish to add a second enemy to the formidable foe which
each has to meet.... When the choice is between honour and infamy, I
cannot doubt that her Majesty's Government will pursue the course of
honour, the only one worthy of the British people.... I consider that if
England shrank from the performance of her engagements--if she acted in
a faithless manner with respect to this matter--her extinction as a
Great Power must very soon follow.'


Lord John's vigorous protest did not go unheeded, and the King of the
Belgians sent him an autograph letter in acknowledgment of his generous
and opportune words. On the other hand, Lord John Russell resented the
determination of Mr. Gladstone to submit the 'Alabama' claims to
arbitration, and also opposed the adoption of the Ballot and the
abolition of purchase in the Army. The conflict which arose in the
autumn of 1872 between the Emperor of Germany and Pius IX. was a matter
which appealed to all lovers of liberty of conscience. Lord John, though
now in his eighty second year, rose promptly to the occasion, and
promised to preside at a great public meeting in London, called to
protest against the claims of the Vatican. At the last moment, though
the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak, and yielding to medical
advice, he contented himself with a written expression of sympathy. This
was read to the meeting, and brought him the thanks of the Kaiser and
Prince Bismarck. Lord John's letters, declared Mr. Kinglake seem to
carry with them the very ring of his voice; and the one which was
written from Pembroke Lodge on January 19, 1874, was full of the old
fire of enthusiasm and the resolution which springs from clean-cut
convictions:--'I hasten to declare with all friends of freedom, and I
trust with the great majority of the English nation, that I could no
longer call myself a lover of civil and religious liberty were I not to
proclaim my sympathy with the Emperor of Germany in the noble struggle
in which he is engaged.'

Lord John Russell's pamphlets, published in 1868-9--in the shape of
letters to Mr. Chichester Fortescue--show that in old age and out of
office he was still anxious to see justice done to the legitimate
demands of Ireland. He declared that he witnessed with alarm the attempt
to involve the whole Irish nation in a charge of disaffection,
conspiracy, and treason. He contended that Englishmen ought to seek to
rid their minds of exaggerated fears and national animosities, so that
they might be in a position to consider patiently all the facts of the
case. 'We ought to weigh with care the complaints that are made, and
examine with still more care and circumspection the remedies that are
proposed, lest in our attempts to cure the disease we give the patient a
new and more dangerous disorder.' In his 'Life of Fox' Lord John Russell
maintained that the wisest system that could be devised for the
conciliation of Ireland had yet to be discovered; and in his third
letter to Mr. Chichester Fortescue, published in January 1869, he made a
remarkable allusion to Mr. Gladstone as a statesman who might yet seek
to 'perform a permanent and immortal service to his country' by
endeavouring to reconcile England and Ireland. If, added Lord John, Mr.
Gladstone should 'undertake the heroic task of riveting the union of the
three kingdoms by affection, even more than by statute; if he should
endeavour to efface the stains which proscription and prejudice have
affixed on the fair fame of Great Britain, then, though he may not
reunite his party ... he will be enrolled among the noblest of England's
statesmen, and will have laid the foundations of a great work, which
either he or a younger generation will not fail to accomplish.'


The proposals Lord John Russell made in the columns of the 'Times,' on
August 9, 1872, for the better government of Ireland have been claimed
as a tentative scheme of Home Rule. 'It appears to me, that if Ireland
were to be allowed to elect a representative assembly for each of its
four provinces of Leinster, Ulster, Munster, and Connaught, and if
Scotland in a similar manner were to be divided into Lowlands and
Highlands, having for each province a representative assembly, the
local wants of Ireland and Scotland might be better provided for than
they are at present.' Lord John went on to say that the Imperial
Parliament might still retain its hold over local legislation, and added
that it was his purpose to explain in a pamphlet a policy which he
thought might be adopted to the 'satisfaction of the nation at large.'
The pamphlet, however, remained unwritten, and the scheme in its
fulness, therefore, was never explained. Evidently Lord Russell's mind
was changing in its attitude towards the Irish problem; but, as Mr.
Lecky points out in the personal reminiscences with which he has
enriched these pages, though in advance of the opinion of the hour he
was not prepared to accept the principle of Home Rule. Although Mr.
Lecky does not mention the year in which Lord John declared that any
statesman who 'proposed to repeal the Union ought to be impeached,' Lord
Russell himself in his published 'Recollections' admits that he saw no
hope that Ireland would be well and quietly governed by the adoption of
Home Rule. In fact, he makes it quite clear that he was in sympathy with
the view which Lord Althorp expressed when O'Connell demanded the repeal
of the Union--namely, that such a request amounted to a dismemberment of
the Empire. On the other hand, Lord John was wont in his latest years to
discuss the question in all its bearings with an Irish representative
who held opposite views. There can be no doubt that he was feeling his
way to a more generous interpretation of the problem than that which is
commonly attributed to him. His own words on this point are: 'I should
have been very glad if the leaders of popular opinion in Ireland had so
modified and mollified their demand for Home Rule as to make it
consistent with the unity of the Empire.' His mind, till within a few
years of his death, was clear, and did not stand still. Whether he would
have gradually become a Home Ruler is open to question, but in 1874 he
had gone quite as far in that direction as Mr. Gladstone.

Lord John, though the most loyal of subjects, made it plain throughout
his career that he was not in the least degree a courtier. His nephew,
Mr. George Russell, after stating that Lord John supported, with voice
and vote, Mr. Hume's motion for the revision of the Civil List under
George IV., and urged in vigorous terms the restoration of Queen
Caroline's name to the Liturgy, as well as subscribing to compensate an
officer, friendly to the Queen, whom the King's animosity had driven
from the army, adds: 'It may well be that some tradition of this early
independence, or some playful desire to test the fibre of Whiggery by
putting an extreme case, led in much later years to an embarrassing
question by an illustrious personage, and gave the opportunity for an
apt reply. "Is it true, Lord John, that you hold that a subject is
justified, under certain circumstances, in disobeying his Sovereign's
will?" "Well," I said, "speaking to a Sovereign of the House of Hanover,
I can only say that I suppose it is!"'[43]


Looking back in the autumn of last year on the length and breadth of
Earl Russell's public career, the late Earl Selborne sent for these
pages the following words, which gather up his general, and, alas! final
impressions of his old friend and colleague: 'I have tried to imagine in
what words an ancient Roman panegyrist might have summed up such a
public and private character as that of Lord Russell. "Animosa
juventus," and "jucunda senectus," would not inaptly have described his
earlier and his latter days. But for the life of long and active public
service which came between, it is difficult to find any phrase equally
pointed and characteristic. Always patriotic, always faithful to the
traditions associated with his name, there was, as Sydney Smith said,
nothing which he had not courage to undertake. What he undertook he did
energetically, and generally in a noble spirit; though sometimes
yielding to too sudden impulses. As time went on, the generosity and
sagacity of his nature gained strength; and, though he had not always
been patient when the control of affairs was in other hands, a
successful rival found in him the most loyal of colleagues. Any estimate
of his character would be imperfect which omitted to recognise either
his appreciative and sympathetic disposition towards those who differed
from him, even on points of importance, when he believed their
convictions to be sincere and their conduct upright, or the rare dignity
and magnanimity with which, after 1866, he retired from a great
position, of which he was neither unambitious nor unworthy, under no
pressure from without, and before age or infirmity had made it necessary
for him to do so.'

Lord Selborne's allusion to Lord John's sympathetic disposition to those
who differed from him, even on points of importance, is borne out by the
terms in which he referred to Lord Aberdeen in correspondence--which was
published first in the 'Times,' and afterwards in a pamphlet--between
himself and Sir Arthur Gordon over statements in the first edition of
'Recollections and Suggestions.' Lord John admitted that, through lapse
of memory, he had fallen into error, and that his words conveyed a wrong
impression concerning Lord Aberdeen. He added: 'I believe no man has
entered public life in my time more pure in his personal views, and
more free from grasping ambition or selfish consideration. I am much
grieved that anything I have written should be liable to an
interpretation injurious to Lord Aberdeen.' It is pleasant in this
connection to be able to cite a letter, written by Lord Aberdeen to the
Duke of Bedford, when the Crimean War was happily only a memory. The
Duke had told Lord Aberdeen that his brother admitted his mistake in
leaving the Coalition Government in the way in which he did. Lord
Aberdeen in his reply declared that he did not doubt that Lord John
entered the Government on generous and high-minded motives, or that, in
consequence of delay, he might have arrived at the conclusion that he
was in a somewhat false position. Any appearance of lack of confidence
in Lord John, Lord Aberdeen remarked, was 'entirely the effect of
accident and never of intention.' He hints that he sometimes thought
Lord John over-sensitive and even rash or impracticable. He adds: 'But
these are trifles. We parted with expressions of mutual regard, which on
my side were perfectly sincere, as I have no doubt they were on his.
These expressions I am happy in having this opportunity to renew; as
well as with my admiration of his great powers and noble impulses to
assure you that I shall always feel a warm interest in his reputation
and honour.' Lord Stanmore states that his father 'steadily maintained
that Lord John was the proper head of the Liberal party, and never
ceased to desire that he should succeed him as Prime Minister.' Rashness
and impatience are hard sayings to one who looks steadily at the annals
of the Coalition Government. Lord Aberdeen and the majority of his
Cabinet, were, to borrow a phrase from Swift, 'huge idolators of delay.'
Their policy of masterly inactivity was disastrous, and, though Lord
John made a mistake in quitting the Ministry in face of a hostile vote
of censure, his chief mistake arose from the 'generous and high-minded
motives' which Lord Aberdeen attributes to him, and which led him to
join the Coalition Government.


His personal relations with his political opponents, from the Duke of
Wellington to Lord Salisbury, were cordial. His friendship with Lord
Derby was intimate, and he visited him at Knowsley, and in his closing
years he had much pleasant intercourse with Lord Salisbury at Dieppe.
His association with Lord Beaconsfield was slight; but one of the
kindest letters which Lady Russell received on the death of her husband
was written by a statesman with whom Lord Russell had little in common.
Sir Robert Peel, in spite of the encounters of party warfare, always
maintained towards Lord John the most friendly attitude. 'The idea which
the stranger or casual acquaintance,' states his brother-in-law and
former private secretary, Mr. George Elliot, 'conceived of Lord Russell
was very unlike the real man as seen in his own home or among his
intimates. There he was lively, playful, and uniformily good-humoured,
full of anecdote, and a good teller of a story.... In conversation he
was easy and pleasant, and the reverse of disputatious. Even in the
worst of his political difficulties--and he had some pretty hard trials
in this way--he had the power of throwing off public cares for the time,
and in his house retained his cheerfulness and good-humour.... In
matters of business he was an easy master to serve, and the duties of
his private secretary were light as compared to others in the same
position. He never made work and never was fussy, and even at the
busiest times never seemed in a hurry.... Large matters he never
neglected, but the difficulty of the private secretary was to get him to
attend to the trifling and unimportant ones with which he had chiefly
to deal.'

The Hon. Charles Gore, who was also private secretary to Lord John when
the latter held the Home Office in the Melbourne Administration, gives
in the following words his recollections: 'Often members of Parliament
and others used to come into my room adjoining, after their interview
with Lord John, looking, and seeming, much dissatisfied with their
reception. His manner was cold and shy, and, even when he intended to
comply with the request made, in his answer he rather implied no than
yes. He often used to say to me that he liked to hear the laugh which
came to him through the door which separated us, as proof that I had
been able to soothe the disappointed feelings with which his interviewer
had left him. As a companion, when not feeling shy, no one was more
agreeable or full of anecdote than Lord John--simple in his manner,
never assuming superiority, and always ready to listen to what others
had to say.' This impression is confirmed by Sir Villiers Lister, who
served under Lord John at the Foreign Office. He states that his old
chief, whilst always quick to seize great problems, was somewhat
inclined to treat the humdrum details of official life with fitful


[43] _Contemporary Review_, vol. 56, p. 814.




     Looking back--Society at Pembroke Lodge--Home life--The house and
     its memories--Charles Dickens's speech at Liverpool--Literary
     friendships--Lady Russell's description of her husband--A packet of
     letters--His children's recollections--A glimpse of Carlyle--A
     witty impromptu--Closing days--Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone--The jubilee
     of the Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts--'Punch' on the
     'Golden Wedding'--Death--The Queen's letter--Lord Shaftesbury's
     estimate of Lord John's career--His great qualities.

PEACE with honour--a phrase which Lord John used long before Lord
Beaconsfield made it famous--sums up the settled tranquillity and simple
dignity of the life at Pembroke Lodge. No man was more entitled to rest
on his laurels than Lord John Russell. He was in the House of Commons,
and made his first proposals for Parliamentary redress, in the reign of
George III. His great victory on behalf of the rights of conscience was
won by the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts in the reign of
George IV. He had piloted the first Reform Bill through the storms of
prejudice and passion which had assailed that great measure in the reign
of William IV. He was Home Secretary when Queen Victoria's reign began,
and since then he had served her Majesty and the nation with unwearied
devotion for almost the life-time of a generation. He was Secretary for
the Colonies during a period when the expansion of England brought
delicate constitutional questions to the front, and was Minister of
Foreign Affairs when struggling nationalities looked to England, and did
not seek her help in vain. Twice Prime Minister in periods of storm and
stress, he had left his mark, directly or indirectly, on the
statute-book in much progressive legislation, and, in spite of mistakes
in policy, had at length quitted office with the reputation of an honest
and enlightened statesman.

Peel at the age of fifty-eight had judged himself worthy of retirement;
but Russell was almost seventy-four, and only his indomitable spirit had
enabled him to hold his own in public life against uncertain health
during the whole course of his career. In this respect, at least, Lord
John possessed that 'strong patience which outwearies fate.' He was
always delicate, and in his closing years he was accustomed to tell,
with great glee, those about him an incident in his own experience,
which happened when the century was entering its teens and he was just
leaving his own. Three physicians were summoned in consultation, for his
life appeared to be hanging on a thread. He described how they carefully
thumped him, and put him through the usual ordeal. Then they looked
extremely grave and retired to an adjoining room. The young invalid
could hear them talking quite plainly, and dreaded their return with the
sentence of death. Presently the conversation grew animated, and Lord
John found, to his surprise, they were talking about anything in the
world except himself. On coming back, all the advice they gave was that
he ought to travel abroad for a time. It jumped with his mood, and he
took it, and to the end of his days travel never failed to restore his


'For some years after his retirement from Ministerial life,' says Mr.
Lecky, 'he gathered round him at Pembroke Lodge a society that could
hardly be equalled--certainly not surpassed--in England. In the summer
Sunday afternoons there might be seen beneath the shade of those
majestic oaks nearly all that was distinguished in English politics and
much that was distinguished in English literature, and few eminent
foreigners visited England without making a pilgrimage to the old
statesman. Unhappily, this did not last to the end. Failing memory and
the weakness of extreme old age at last withdrew him completely from the
society he was so eminently fitted to adorn, but to those who had known
him in his brighter days he has left a memory which can never be

Pembroke Lodge, on the fringe of Richmond Park, was, for more than
thirty years, Lord John Russell's home. In his busiest years, whenever
he could escape from town, the rambling, picturesque old house, which
the Queen had given him, was his chosen and greatly loved place of
retreat. 'Happy days,' records Lady Russell, 'so full of reality. The
hours of work so cheerfully got through, the hours of leisure so
delightful.' When in office much of each week was of necessity passed at
his house in Chesham Place, but he appreciated the freedom and seclusion
of Pembroke Lodge, and took a keen delight in its beautiful garden, with
its winding walks, magnificent views, and spreading forest trees--truly
a haunt of ancient peace, as well as of modern fellowship. There, in old
age, Lord Russell loved to wander with wife or child or friend, and
there, through the loop-holes of retreat amid his books and flowers, he
watched the great world, and occasionally sallied forth, so long as
strength remained, to bear his part in its affairs.

Lord John Russell in his closing years thoroughly distrusted Turkish
rule in Europe. He declared that he had formerly tried with Lord
Palmerston's aid to improve the Turks, but came to the conclusion that
the task was hopeless, and he witnessed with gladness the various
movements to throw off their control in South-Eastern Europe. He was one
of the first to call attention to the Bulgarian atrocities, and he
joined the national protest with the political ardour which moral
indignation was still able to kindle in a statesman who cherished his
old ideals at the age of eighty-four. Two passages from Lady Russell's
journal in the year 1876 speak for themselves:--'August 18. My dearest
husband eighty-four. The year has left its mark upon him, a deeper mark
than most years ... but he is happy, even merry. Seventy or eighty of
our school children came up and sang in front of his window. They had
made a gay flag on which were written four lines of a little poem to
him. He was much pleased and moved with the pretty sight and pretty
sound. I may say the same of Lord Granville, who happened to be here at
the time.' Two months later occurs the following entry: 'Interesting
visit from the Bulgarian delegates, who called to thank John for the
part he has taken. They utterly deny the probability of civil war or
bloodshed between different Christian sects, or between Christian and
Mussulman, in case of Bulgaria and the other insurgent provinces
obtaining self-government. Their simple, heart-felt words of gratitude
to John were touching to us all.'

History repeats itself at Pembroke Lodge. On May 16, 1895, a party of
Armenian refugees went thither on the ground that 'the name of Lord John
Russell is honoured by every Christian under the rule of the Turk.' It
recalled to Lady Russell the incident just recorded, and the interview,
she states, was 'a heart-breaking one, although gratitude for British
sympathy seemed uppermost in what they wished to express. After they
were gone I thought, as I have often thought before, how right my
husband was in feeling and in saying, as he often did, that Goldsmith
was quite wrong in these two lines in "The Traveller":

    'How small of all that human hearts endure
    That part which laws or kings can cause or cure!

He often recited them with disapproval when any occurrence made him feel
how false they were.'


Lord John's manner of life, like his personal tastes, was simple. He
contrived to set the guests who gathered around him at his wife's
receptions perfectly at their ease, by his old-fashioned gallantry,
happy humour, and bright, vigorous talk. One room in Pembroke Lodge,
from the windows of which a glorious view of the wooded valley is
obtained, has been rendered famous by Kinglake's description[44] of a
certain drowsy summer evening in June 1854, when the Aberdeen Cabinet
assembled in it, at the very moment when they were drifting into war.
Other rooms in the house are full of memories of Garibaldi and
Livingstone, of statesmen, ambassadors, authors, and, indeed, of men
distinguished in every walk of life, but chiefly of Lord John himself,
in days of intellectual toil, as well as in hours of friendly
intercourse and happy relaxation.

Charles Dickens, speaking in 1869 at a banquet in Liverpool, held in his
honour, over which Lord Dufferin presided, refused to allow what he
regarded as a covert sneer against the House of Lords to pass
unchallenged. He repelled the insinuation with unusual warmth, and laid
stress on his own regard for individual members of that assembly. Then,
on the spur of the moment, came an unexpected personal tribute. He
declared that 'there was no man in England whom he respected more in his
public capacity, loved more in his private capacity, or from whom he had
received more remarkable proofs of his honour and love of literature
than Lord John Russell.' The compliment took Lord Russell by surprise;
but if space allowed, or necessity claimed, it would be easy to prove
that it was not undeserved. From the days of his youth, when he lived
under the roof of Dr. Playfair, and attended the classes of Professor
Dugald Stewart in Edinburgh, and took his part, as a _protégé_ of Lord
Holland, in the brilliant society of Holland House, Lord John's leanings
towards literature, and friendship with other literary men had been
marked. As in the case of other Prime Ministers of the Queen's reign,
and notably of Derby, Beaconsfield, and Mr. Gladstone, literature was
his pastime, if politics was his pursuit, for his interests were always
wider than the question of the hour. He was the friend of Sir James
Mackintosh and of Sydney Smith, who playfully termed him 'Lord John
Reformer,' of Moore and Rogers, Jeffrey and Macaulay, Dickens and
Thackeray, Tyndall and Sir Richard Owen, Motley and Sir Henry Taylor,
Browning and Tennyson, to mention only a few representative men.


When the students of Glasgow University wished, in 1846, to do him
honour, Lord John gracefully begged them to appoint as Lord Rector a
man of creative genius, like Wordsworth, rather than himself. As Prime
Minister he honoured science by selecting Sir John Herschel as Master of
the Mint, and literature, by the recommendation of Alfred Tennyson as
Poet Laureate. When Sir Walter Scott was creeping back in broken health
from Naples to die at Abbotsford it was Lord John who cheered the sad
hours of illness in the St. James's Hotel, Jermyn Street, by a
delicately worded offer of financial help from the public funds. Leigh
Hunt, Christopher North, Sheridan Knowles, Father Mathew, the widow of
Dr. Chalmers, and the children of Tom Hood are names which suggest the
direction in which he used his patronage as First Minister of the Crown.
He was in the habit of enlivening his political dinner parties by
invoking the aid of literary men of wit and distinction, and nothing
delighted him more than to bring, in this pleasant fashion, literature
and politics to close quarters. The final pages of his 'Recollections
and Suggestions' were written in Lord Tennyson's study at Aldworth, and
his relations with Moore at an earlier stage of his life were even more

Lord John Russell was twice married: first, on April 11, 1835, to
Adelaide, daughter of Mr. Thomas Lister, of Armitage Park,
Staffordshire, the young widow of Thomas, second Lord Ribblesdale; and
second, on July 20, 1841, to Lady Frances Anna Maria Elliot, second
daughter of Gilbert, second Earl of Minto. By his first wife he had two
daughters, the late Lady Victoria Villiers, and Lady Georgiana Peel; and
by his second three sons and one daughter--John, Viscount Amberley, the
Hon. George William Gilbert, formerly of the 9th Lancers, the Hon.
Francis Albert Rollo, and Lady Mary Agatha. Viscount Amberley married,
on November 8, 1864, the fifth daughter of Lord Stanley of Alderley.
Lord Amberley died two years before his father, and the peerage
descended to the elder of his two sons, the present Earl Russell.

Lady Russell states: 'Our way of life during the session, from the time
we first settled in Pembroke Lodge till John ceased to take any active
part in politics, was to be there from Wednesday to Thursday and from
Saturday to Monday. This made him spend much time on the road; but he
always said the good it did him to snatch all he could of the delight of
his own quiet country home, to breathe its pure air, and be cheered by
the sight of his merry children, far outweighed the time and trouble it
cost him. When he was able to leave town tolerably early, he used
sometimes to ride down all the way; but he oftener drove to Hammersmith
Bridge, where his horse, and such of our children as were old enough to
ride met him, and how joyfully I used to catch the first sight of the
happy riders--he on his roan "Surrey" and they on their pretty
ponies--from the little mount in our grounds! He was very fond of
riding, and in far later days, when age and infirmity obliged him to
give it up, used often to say in a sad tone, pointing to some of his
favourite grassy rides, as we drove together in the park, "Ah! what
pleasant gallops we used to have along there!"' Lord John was seen to
great advantage in his own home and with his children. Even when the
cares of State pressed most heavily on him he always seemed to the
children about him to have leisure to enter with gay alacrity into their
plans and amusements. When at home, no matter how urgent the business in
hand, he always saw them either in the house or the garden every day,
and took the liveliest interest in the round of their life, alike in
work and play. He had conquered the art of bearing care lightly. He
seldom allowed public affairs to distract him in moments of leisure. He
was able to throw aside the cares of office, and to enter with vivacity
and humour into social diversions. His equable temper and placid
disposition served him in good stead amid the turmoil and excitement of
political life.


Sorrows, neither few nor light, fell upon the household at Pembroke
Lodge in the closing years of Lord Russell's life; but 'trials,' as Lady
Russell puts it in her journal, 'had taught Lord John to feel for
others, and age had but deepened his religion of love.' In reply to a
birthday letter from Mr. Archibald Peel, his son-in-law, and nephew of
his great political rival he said: 'Thanks for your good wishes. Happy
returns! I always find them, as my children are so affectionate and
loving; "many" I cannot expect, but I have played my part.' Two or three
extracts from a packet of letters addressed by Lord John to his
daughter, Lady Georgiana Peel, will be read with interest. The majority
of them are of too intimate and personal a kind for quotation. Yet the
whole of them leave the impression that Lord John, who reproaches
himself in one instance as a bad correspondent, was at least a
singularly good father. They cover a considerable term of years, and
though for the most part dealing with private affairs, and often in a
spirit of pleasant raillery, here and there allusions to public events
occur in passing. In one of them, written from Gotha in the autumn of
1862, when Lord John was in attendance on her Majesty, he says: 'We have
been dull here, but the time has never hung heavy on our hands. Four
boxes of despatches and then telegrams, all requiring answers, have been
our daily food.' He refers touchingly to the Queen's grief, and there is
also an allusion to the minor tribulation of a certain little boy in
England who had just crossed the threshold of school-life. Probably
Lord John was thinking of his own harsh treatment at Westminster, more
than sixty years before, when he wrote: 'Poor Willy! He will find a
public school a rough place, and the tears will come into his eyes when
he thinks of the very soft nest he left at home.'

Ecclesiastical affairs never lost their interest to the author of the
Durham Letter, and the following comments show his attitude on Church
questions. The first is from a letter written on May 23, 1867: 'The
Church has been greatly disturbed. The Bishop of Salisbury has claimed
for the English clergy all the power of the Roman priests. The question
whether they are to wear white surplices, or blue, green, yellow, or
red, becomes a minor question in comparison. Of course the Bishop and
those who think with him throw off the authority of our excellent
Thirty-nine Articles altogether, and ought to leave the Church to the
Protestant clergy and laity.' England just then, in Carlyle's judgment,
was 'shooting Niagara,' and Disraeli's reform proposals were making a
stir in the opposite camp. In the letter above quoted Lord John says:
'Happily, we are about to get rid of the compound householder. I am told
Dizzy expects to be the first President of the British Republic.' Mr.
Gladstone, according to Lord Houghton, seemed at the same moment 'quite
awed with the diabolical cleverness of Dizzy.' The second bears date
Woburn Abbey, September 29, 1868: 'Dr. Temple is a man I greatly admire,
and he has become more valuable to his country since the death of our
admirable Dean of St. Paul's. If I had any voice in the appointment,
Temple is the man I should wish to see succeed to Milman; but I suppose
the "Essays and Reviews" will tell heavily against him.' 'We lead a very
quiet life here and a very happy one. I sometimes regret not seeing my
old political friends a little oftener.' 'In June [1869] I expect
Dickens to visit us. We went to see him last night in the murder of
Nancy by Sikes, and Mrs. Gamp. He acts like a great actor, and writes
like a great author. Irish Church is looming very near in the Commons,
and, in June, in the Lords. The Archbishops and Bishops do not wish to
oppose the second reading, but Lord Cairns is prepared to hack and hew
in committee.'


The recollections of Lord John's children reveal, by incidents too
trivial in themselves to quote, how completely he entered into their
life. Lady Georgiana Peel recalls her childish tears when her father
arrived too late from London one evening to see one of the glorious
sunsets which he had taught her to admire. 'I can feel now his hand on
my forehead in any childish illness, or clasping mine in the garden, as
he led me out to forget some trifling sorrow.' She lays stress on his
patience and serene temper, on his tender heart, and on the fact that he
always found leisure on the busiest day to enter into the daily life of
his little girls. Half heartedness, either in work or play, was not to
his mind. '_Do_ what you are doing' was the advice he gave to his

One of the elder children in far-off days at Pembroke Lodge, Mrs.
Warburton, Lord John's step-daughter, recalls wet days in the country,
when her father would break the tedium of temporary imprisonment indoors
by romping with his children. 'I have never forgotten his expression of
horror when in a game of hide-and-seek he banged the door accidentally
in my elder sister's face and we heard her fall. Looking back to the
home life, its regularity always astonishes me. The daily walks,
prayers, and meals regular and punctual as a rule.... He was shy and we
were shy, but I think we spoke quite freely with him, and he seldom
said more than "Foolish child" when we ventured on any startling views
on things. Once I remember rousing his indignation when I gave out, with
sententious priggishness, that the Duke of Wellington laboured under
great difficulties in Spain caused by the "factious opposition at home;"
that was beyond "Foolish child," but my discomforted distress was soon
soothed by a pat on the cheek, and an amused twinkle in his kind eyes.'
Lord Amberley, four days before his death, declared that he had all his
life 'met with nothing but kindness and gentleness' from his father. He
added: 'I do earnestly hope that at the end of his long and noble life
he may be spared the pain of losing a son.'

Mr. Rollo Russell says: 'My father was very fond of history, and I can
remember his often turning back to Hume, Macaulay, Hallam, and other
historical works. He read various books on the French Revolution with
great interest. He had several classics always near him, such as Homer
and Virgil; and he always carried about with him a small edition of
Horace. Of Shakespeare he could repeat much, and knew the plays well,
entering into and discussing the characters. He admired Milton very
greatly and was fond of reading "Paradise Lost." He was very fond of
several Italian and Spanish books, by the greatest authors of those
countries. Of lighter reading, he admired most, I think, "Don Quixote,"
Sir Walter Scott's novels, Miss Evans' ("George Eliot") novels, Miss
Austen's, and Dickens and Thackeray. Scott especially he loved to read
over again. He told me he bought "Waverley" when it first came out, and
was so interested in it that he sat up a great part of the night till he
had finished it.'


Lady Russell states that Grote's 'History of Greece' was one of the
last books her husband read, and she adds: 'Many of his friends must
have seen its volumes open before him on the desk of his blue armchair
in his sitting-room at Pembroke Lodge in the last year or two of his
life. It was often exchanged for Jowett's "Plato," in which he took
great delight, and which he persevered in trying to read, when, alas!
the worn-out brain refused to take in the meaning.'

Lord John was a delightful travelling companion, and he liked to journey
with his children about him. His cheerfulness and merriment on these
occasions is a happy memory. Dr. Anderson, of Richmond, who has been for
many years on intimate terms at Pembroke Lodge, and was much abroad with
Lord John in the capacity of physician and friend, states that all who
came in contact personally with him became deeply attached to him. This
arose not only from the charm of his manner and conversation, but from
the fact that he felt they trusted him implicitly. 'I never saw anyone
laugh so heartily. He seemed almost convulsed with merriment, and he
once told me that after a supper with Tom Moore, the recollection of
some of the witty things said during the course of the evening so
tickled him, that he had to stop and hold by the railings while laughing
on his way home. I once asked which of all the merry pictures in "Punch"
referring to himself amused him the most, and he at once replied: "The
little boy who has written 'No Popery' on a wall and is running away
because he sees a policeman coming. I think that was very funny!"' Dr.
Anderson says that Lord John was generous to a fault and easily moved to
tears, and adds: 'I never knew any one more tender in illness or more
anxious to help.' He states that Lord John told him that he had
encountered Carlyle one day in Regent Street. He stopped, and asked him
if he had seen a paragraph in that morning's 'Times' about the Pope.
'What!' exclaimed Carlyle, 'the Pope, the Pope! The back of ma han' for
that auld chimera!'

Lady Russell says: 'As far as I recollect he never but once worked after
dinner. He always came up to the drawing-room with us, was able to cast
off public cares, and chat and laugh, and read and be read to, or join
in little games, such as capping verses, of which he was very fond.'
Lord John used often to write prologues and epilogues for the
drawing-room plays which they were accustomed to perform. Space forbids
the quotation of these sparkling and often humorous verses, but the
following instance of his ready wit occurred in the drawing-room at
Minto, and is given on the authority of Mr. George Elliot. At a game
where everyone was required to write some verses, answering the question
written on a paper to be handed to him, and bringing in a word written
on the same, the paper that fell to the lot of Lord John contained this
question: 'Do you admire Sir Robert Peel?' and 'soldier' the word to be
brought in. His answer was:

    'I ne'er was a soldier of Peel,
      Or ever yet stood at his back;
    For while he wriggled on like an eel,
      I swam straight ahead like a _Jack_.'

Mr. Gladstone states that perhaps the finest retort he ever heard in the
House of Commons was that of Lord John in reply to Sir Francis Burdett.
The latter had abandoned his Radicalism in old age, and was foolish
enough to sneer at the 'cant of patriotism.' 'I quite agree, said Lord
John, 'with the honourable baronet that the cant of patriotism is a bad
thing. But I can tell him a worse--the _re_cant of patriotism--which I
will gladly go along with him in reprobating whenever he shows me an
example of it.'


Lord John Russell once declared that he had no need to go far in search
of happiness, as he had it at his own doors, and this was the impression
left on every visitor to Pembroke Lodge. Lord Dufferin states that all
his recollections gather around Lord John's domestic life. He never
possessed a kinder friend or one who was more pleasant in the retirement
of his home. Lord Dufferin adds: 'One of his most charming
characteristics was that he was so simple, so untheatrical, so genuine,
that his existence, at least when I knew him, flowed at a very high
level of thought and feeling, but was unmarked by anything very
dramatic. His conversation was too delightful, full of anecdote; but
then his anecdotes were not like those told by the ordinary _raconteur_,
and were simple reminiscences of his own personal experience and
intercourse with other distinguished men. Again, his stories were told
in such an unpretending way that, though you were delighted with what
you had heard, you were still more delighted with the speaker himself.'

The closing years of Lord Russell's career were marked by settled peace,
the consciousness of great tasks worthily accomplished, the unfaltering
devotion of household love, the friendship of the Queen, the confidence
of a younger race of statesmen, and the respect of the nation.
Deputations of working men found their way to Pembroke Lodge to greet
the old leader of the party of progress, and school children gathered
about him in summer on the lawn, and were gladdened by his kindly smile
and passing word. In good report and in evil report, in days of power
and in days of weakness, the Countess Russell cheered, helped, and
solaced him, and brought not only rare womanly devotion, but unusual
intellectual gifts to his aid at the critical moments of his life, when
bearing the strain of public responsibility, and in the simple round of
common duty. The nation may recognise the services of its great men, but
can never gauge to the full extent the influences which sustained them.
The uplifting associations of a singularly happy domestic life must be
taken into account in any estimate of the forces which shaped Lord John
Russell's career. It is enough to say--indeed, more cannot with
propriety be added--that through the political stress and strain of
nearly forty years Lady Russell proved herself to be a loyal and
noble-hearted wife.

There is another subject, which cannot be paraded on the printed page,
and yet, since religion was the central principle of Lord John Russell's
life, some allusion to his position on the highest of all subjects
becomes imperative. His religion was thorough; it ran right through his
nature. It was practical, and revealed itself in deeds which spoke
louder than words. 'I rest in the faith of Jeremy Taylor,' were his
words, 'Barrow, Tillotson, Hoadly, Samuel Clarke, Middleton, Warburton,
and Arnold, without attempting to reconcile points of difference between
these great men. I prefer the simple words of Christ to any dogmatic
interpretation of them.' Dean Stanley, whom he used to call his
Pope--always playfully adding, 'but not an infallible one'--declared
shortly before Lord Russell's death that 'he was a man who was firmly
convinced that in Christianity, whether as held by the National Church
or Nonconformist, there was something greater and vaster than each of
the particular communions professed and advocated, something which made
it worth while to develop those universal principles of religion that
are common to all who accept in any real sense the fundamental truths of


Mr. Spurgeon, in conversation with the writer of these pages, related an
incident concerning Lord John which deserves at least passing record, as
an illustration of his swift appreciation of ability and the reality of
his recognition of religious equality. Lord John was upwards of sixty at
the time, and the famous Baptist preacher, though the rage of the town,
was scarcely more than twenty. The Metropolitan Tabernacle had as yet
not been built. Mr. Spurgeon was at the Surrey Music Hall, and there the
great congregation had gathered around this youthful master of
assemblies. One Sunday night, at the close of the service, Lord John
Russell came into the vestry to speak a kindly word of encouragement to
the young preacher. One of the children of the ex-Prime Minister was
with him, and before the interview ended Lord John asked the
Nonconformist minister to give his blessing to the child. Mr. Spurgeon
never forgot the incident, or the bearing of the man who came to him,
amid a crowd of others, on that Sunday night.

In opening the new buildings of Cheshunt College in 1871, Lord John
alluded to the foundress of that seat of theological learning, Lady
Huntingdon, as a woman who was far in advance of her times, since, a
century before the abolition of University tests, she made it possible
to divinity students to obtain academical training without binding
themselves at the outset to any religious community.

During the early months of 1878 Lord John's strength failed rapidly, and
it became more and more apparent that the plough was nearing the end of
the furrow. His old courage and calmness remained to the end. Mr. and
Mrs. Gladstone called at Pembroke Lodge on April 20, and he sent down
word that he wished to see them. 'I took them to him for a few minutes,'
relates Lady Russell. 'Happily, he was clear in his mind, and said to
Mr. Gladstone, "I am sorry you are not in the Ministry," and kissed her
affectionately, and was so cordial to both that they were greatly
touched.' He told Lady Russell that he had enjoyed his life. 'I have
made mistakes, but in all I did my object was the public good!' Then
after a pause: 'I have sometimes seemed cold to my friends, but it was
not in my heart.' A change for the worse set in on May 1, and the last
sands of life were slipping quietly through the glass when the
Nonconformist deputation came on the 9th of that month to present Lord
Russell with an address of congratulation on the occasion of the jubilee
of the Repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts.[45] Lady Russell and her
children received the Deputation. In the course of her reply to the
address Lady Russell said that of all the 'victories won by that great
party to which in his later as in his earlier years Lord John had been
inseparably attached,' there was none dearer to his memory at that
moment than that which they had called to remembrance. 'It was a proud
and a sad day,' is the entry in Lady Russell's journal. 'We had hoped
some time ago that he might perhaps see the Deputation for a moment in
his room, but he was too ill for that to be possible.'

A few days later, there appeared in the columns of 'Punch' some
commemorative verses entitled 'A Golden Wedding.' They expressed the
feeling that was uppermost in the heart of the nation, and two or three
verses may here be recorded:--

   The Golden Wedding of Lord John and Liberty his love--
   'Twixt the Russells' House and Liberty, 'twas ever hand and glove--
   His love in those dark ages, he has lived through with his bride,
   To look back on them from the sunset of his quiet eventide.

   His love when he that loved her and sought her for his own
   Must do more than suit and service, must do battle, trumpet blown,
   Must slay the fiery dragons that guarded every gate
   On the roads by which men travelled for work of Church and State.

   Now time brings its revenges, and all are loud to own
   How beautiful a bride she was, how fond, how faithful shown;
   But she knows the man who loved her when lovers were but few,
   And she hails this golden wedding--fifty years of tried and true.

   Look and listen, my Lord Russell: 'tis your golden wedding-day;
   We may not press your brave old hand, but you hear what we've to say.
   A blessing on the bridal that has known its fifty years,
   But never known its fallings-out, delusions, doubt, or fears.


The end came softly. 'I fall back on the faith of my childhood,' were
the words he uttered to Dr. Anderson. The closing scene is thus recorded
in Mr. Rollo Russell's journal: 'May 28 [1878].--He was better this
morning, though still in a very weak state. He spoke more distinctly,
called me by my name, and said something which I could not understand.
He did not seem to be suffering ... and has, all through his long
illness, been cheerful to a degree that surprises everybody about him,
not complaining of anything, but seeming to feel that he was being well
cared for. About midday he became worse ... but bore it all calmly. My
mother was with him continually.... Towards ten he was much worse, and
in a few minutes, while my mother was holding his hand, he breathed out
gently the remainder of life.' Westminster Abbey was offered as a place
of burial, but, in accordance with his own expressed wish, Lord John
Russell was gathered to his fathers at Chenies. The Queen's sympathy and
her sense of loss were expressed in the following letter:--

    'Balmoral: May 30, 1878.

'DEAR LADY RUSSELL,--It was only yesterday afternoon that I heard
through the papers that your dear husband had left this world of sorrows
and trials peacefully and full of years the night before, or I would
have telegraphed and written sooner. You will believe that I truly
regret an old friend of forty years' standing, and whose personal
kindness in trying and anxious times I shall _ever_ remember. "Lord
John," as I knew him best, was one of my _first_ and _most
distinguished_ Ministers, and his departure recalls many eventful times.

'To you, dear Lady Russell, who were ever one of the most devoted of
wives, this must be a terrible blow, though you must have for some time
been prepared for it. But one is _never_ prepared for the blow when it
comes, and you have had such trials and sorrows of late years that I
most truly sympathise with you. Your dear and devoted daughter will, I
know, be the greatest possible comfort to you, and I trust that your
grandsons will grow up to be all you could wish.

    'Believe me always, yours affectionately,


Lord Shaftesbury wrote in his journal some words about Lord Russell
which speak for themselves. After recording that he had reached the ripe
age of eighty-six, and that he had been a conspicuous man for more than
half a century, he added that to have 'begun with disapprobation, to
have fought through many difficulties, to have announced, and acted
on, principles new to the day in which he lived, to have filled many
important offices, to have made many speeches, and written many books,
and in his whole course to have done much with credit, and nothing with
dishonour, and so to have sustained and advanced his reputation to the
very end, is a mighty commendation.'

When some one told Sir Stafford Northcote that Lord John was dead, the
tidings were accompanied by the trite but sympathetic comment, 'Poor
Lord Russell!' 'Why do you call him poor?' was the quick retort. 'Lord
Russell had the chance of doing a great work and--he did it.'

Lord John was not faultless, and most assuredly he was not infallible.
He made mistakes, and sometimes was inclined to pay too little heed to
the claims of others, and not to weigh with sufficient care the force of
his own impetuous words. The taunt of 'finality' has seldom been less
deserved. In most directions he kept an open mind, and seems, like
Coleridge, to have believed that an error is sometimes the shadow of a
great truth yet behind the horizon. Mr. Gladstone asserts that his old
chief was always ready to stand in the post of difficulty, and possessed
an inexhaustible sympathy with human suffering.

It is at least certain that Lord John Russell served England--the
country whose freedom, he once declared, he 'worshipped'--with unwearied
devotion, with a high sense of honour, with a courage which never
faltered, with an integrity which has never been impeached. He followed
duty to the utmost verge of life, and--full himself of moral
susceptibility--he reverenced the conscience of every man.


[44] _History of the War in the Crimea_, by A. W, Kinglake, vol. ii.
sixth edition, pp. 249-50.

Lady Russell states that Lord John used to smile at Kinglake's
rhetorical exaggeration of the scene. Her impression is that only two of
the Cabinet, and not, as the historian puts it, 'all but a small
minority,' fell asleep. The Duke of Argyll or Mr. Gladstone can alone
settle the point at issue.

[45] Amongst those who assembled in the drawing-room of Pembroke Lodge
on that historic occasion were Mr. Henry Richard, M.P., Mr. Samuel
Morley, M.P., Mr. Edward Baines, Sir Charles Reed, Mr. Carvell Williams,
M.P., who came on behalf of the Protestant Dissenting Deputies. The
Congregationalists were represented by such men as the Rev. Baldwin
Brown and the Rev. Guinness Rogers; the Baptists by Dr. Underhill; the
Presbyterians by Dr. McEwan; and the Unitarians by Mr. Middleton


  ABERCROMBY, Mr., 103

  Aberdeen, Lord, Foreign Secretary in Peel's Cabinet, 125;
    and the repeal of the Corn Laws, 132;
    forms the Coalition Government, 203, 206;
    early political life and characteristics, 209;
    and the Secret Memorandum, 216, 225;
    friendly relations with the Emperor Nicholas, 217, 233;
    belief in the peaceful intentions of Russia, 225, 231;
    vacillation on the eve of the Crimean War, 229, 234;
    public prejudice against him, 233;
    home policy, 240;
    fall of his Government, 257;
    relations with Lord John Russell, 346, 347

  Adelaide, Queen, 82, 83

  'Adullamites,' 329

  Afghanistan, invasion of, 121, 170

  'Alabama' Case, the, 312-319

  Albert, Prince, and Lord Palmerston, 177;
    letter on the defeat of the Turks at Sinope, 232;
    and Count Buol's scheme, 261;
    letter on the position of affairs in the Crimea, 263;
    death, and characteristics, 308, 309;
    last official act, 310

  Alexander II., 259, 321

  Alien Acts, the, 27

  All the Talents, Ministry of, 63, 64

  Alma, the battle of, 246

  Althorp, Lord, 48, 56, 67, 79;
    and his part in carrying the Reform Bill, 81, 82, 87;
    characteristics, 81, 82, 88, 92;
    introduces the Poor Law Amendment Act (Ireland), 93, 96;
    and the Coercion Act, 96;
    succeeds to the Peerage as Earl Spencer, 100.
      _See also_ Spencer, Lord

  Amberley, Viscount, 356

  America, war between England and, 21, 22;
    Napoleon's opinion of the war, 31;
    and the 'Trent' affair, 310-312;
    Civil War, 310, 313;
    and the Alabama Case, 312-319

  Anti-Corn-Law League, its founding 121, 126, 131

  Argyll, Duke of, 295, 327

  Armenia, massacres in, 269, 353

  Arms Bill, 146, 147;
    of 1847, 154

  Auckland, Lord, 96

  Austria, revolt in Vienna of 1848, 171;
    and the retention of Lombardy and Venice, 172, 300;
    and the Vienna Note, 227;
    and the Crimean War, 243;
    proposed alliance with England and France to defend the integrity of
      Turkey, 261;
    her power in Italy, 300;
    campaign against France and Italy, and battles of Magenta and
      Solferino, 302, 303;
    and the peace of Villafranca, 303

  BAGEHOT, Walter, 86, 323

  Ballot, the: Grote's attempts to introduce a bill, 90, 111

  Bathurst, Lord, 50

  Bedford, fourth Duke of, his 'Correspondence' edited by Lord John
      Russell, 278

  -- Francis, fifth Duke of, 3

  -- sixth Duke of, father of Lord John Russell, 3;
    opinion of English Universities, 11, 16;
    encouragement given to Lord John in political training, 14, 36;
    characteristics, 16;
    and Lord John's leadership of the Opposition, 103;
    and Joseph Lancaster, 115

  -- seventh Duke of, 202

  -- first Earl of, 2

  Belgium: the question of its independence, 172, 340, 341

  Bentinck, Lord George, 138, 140, 141, 150, 160, 201

  Bessborough, Lord, 146, 151

  Birmingham, unrepresented in the House of Commons, 23, 38, 51, 60, 71;
    great meeting on the Reform question at, 79, 296

  Bismarck, Count, 321-323

  Blandford, Lord, 59

  Blessington, Lady, 42

  Blomfield, Bishop, 115

  Bradlaugh, Mr., 332

  Bribery and corruption before the era of Reform, 23, 61;
    Lord John Russell's resolutions for the discovery and punishment
      of, 43

  Bridgeman, Mr. George (afterwards Earl of Bradford), 16, 18, 20

  Bright, John, on the influences at work in the repeal of the Corn
      Laws, 130, 131;
    on disaffection in Ireland, and the Arms Bill, 155, 156, 202, 206,
      208, 287;
    relations with Lord John Russell, 294, 329;
    and the 'Adullamites,' 329

  Brougham, Lord, 56, 67;
    and the Reform Bill cry, 74;
    speech on the second Reform Bill, 78, 83;
    opinion of Lord John Russell, 110

  Buccleuch, Duke of, 134, 136

  Bulgaria, massacres in, 269, 352

  Bulwer, Sir H., 174

  Buol, Count, 261, 263

  Burdett, Sir Francis, 25, 26;
    his motion for universal suffrage, 35; 70

  Buxton, Thomas Fowell, 89

  Byng, Hon. Georgiana, 3


  Campbell, Lord, 157

  Canada: the rebellion, 110;
    Earl of Durham appointed Governor-General, 110

  Canning, Mr., 43;
    his Ministry, 50;
    death, 51

  Capital crimes, 107

  Cardwell, Mr., 290

  Carlisle, Earl of, 96

  Carlyle, Thomas, and the Chartists, 166, 167, 358, 362

  Caroline, Queen, proceedings against, 41

  Cartwright, Dr., 5

  Cartwright, Major, 5, 25, 26, 38, 39

  Cassiobury, 36, 112

  Castlereagh, Lord, 21, 40, 63

  Catholics: political restrictions against them, 48;
    agitation for Emancipation, 58, 59;
    passing of the Emancipation Bill, 59;
    and the decree of Pius IX., 182-184;
    and the Durham Letter, 184-188

  Cato Street Conspiracy, 40

  'Cave of Adullam,' 329

  Cavour, Count, 300, 301, 302

  Chadwick, Sir Edwin, 162

  Chartist movement, 163;
    and Feargus O'Connor, 165-168;
    and its literature, 166

  Chatham, Lord, on borough representation, 24, 25, 26

  Chelsea Hospital, 62

  Cheshunt College, 365

  China, opium war against, 121

  Church of England, the, and its adoption of Romish practices, 185, 186

  Clare, Lord, 6, 7

  Clarendon, Lord, 119, 141;
    his Vice-royalty of Ireland, 153, 182, 196;
    at the Foreign Office, 221, 224, 231;
    on Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, 260;
    Count Buol's proposals, 262, 263, 327

  Clive, Mr. Robert, 16, 20

  Clubs for the advancement of Reform, 26

  Cobbett, William, 26, 64

  Cobden, Richard, and the repeal of the Corn Laws, 131, 132, 134;
    and Wellington, 136, 202, 206, 208, 287;
    relations with Lord John Russell, 294;
    negotiates the Commercial Treaty with France, 295, 296;
    death, 325

  Coercion Act: Lord Grey proposes its renewal, 96;
    Lord John Russell's speech, 97, 98;
    and O'Connell, 98, 99;
    Peel's proposal for its renewal, 140

  Conspiracy Bill, the, 289, 290

  Conyngham, Marquis of, 96

  Corn Laws, 121;
    John Bright on the influences working for their repeal, 130, 131;
    of 1670 reproduced in 1815, 131 _n._;
    Sir Robert Peel proposes their gradual repeal, 138;
    bill for repeal passes both Houses, 139;
    total repeal carried by Russell, 145

  Cranworth, Lord, 327

  Crime, excessive penalties for, 24

  Crimean War: causes, 213-235;
    outbreak, 243, 246;
    Alma, 246;
    Balaclava and Inkerman, 247;
    siege of Sebastopol, 246, 247;
    privation and pestilence amongst the Allies, 248, 252;
    Roebuck's motion in the House of Commons to inquire into the
      condition of the army before Sebastopol, and Lord John Russell's
      speech on the question, 254-257;
    failure of Vienna Conference and renewal of the campaign, 267;
    fall of Sebastopol, 268;
    losses of Russia, and of the Allies, 268;
    treaty of Paris, 268

  Croker, J. W., 80, 139

  DALLING, Lord, 180

  Denmark and the Schleswig-Holstein Question, 322, 323

  Derby, Lord, Administration of, 199, 200, 202, 206;
    fails to form a Ministry on the resignation of Lord Aberdeen, 258;
    succeeds to the Premiership on the resignation of Lord Palmerston,
    resignation, 293

  Devonshire, Duke of, 49

  Dickens, Charles, his tribute to Lord Russell, 354

  Disraeli, Benjamin, and the 'poisoned chalice,' 135;
    attacks Peel on the proposal to repeal the Corn Laws, 138;
    and the Coercion Bill, 140, 141, 160;
    and 'Sybil,' 166;
    and the dismissal of Lord Palmerston, 180, 181;
    on Lord John Russell's position after the issue of the Durham
      Letter, 188;
    his Budget of 1852, 199, 210;
    leadership of the Conservative party, 201;
    resolution condemning the Palmerston Ministry, 264;
    on the exclusion of Lord John from Lord Grey's Cabinet, 273, 290;
    his Reform Bill, 291, 292;
    on the Prince Consort, 309;
    his 'diabolical cleverness,' 333 _n._

  Dissenters. _See_ Nonconformists

  'Don Carlos,' by Lord John Russell, 279

  'Don Pacifico' affair, the, 175

  Dufferin, Lord, 327, 363

  Duffy, Sir Gavan, on Irish landowners, 149

  Duhamel, General, his scheme for the acquisition of India by Russia,

  Duncannon, Lord, 67, 91, 92;
    appointed Home Secretary, 99. _See also_ Bessborough, Lord

  Dunkellin, Lord, 329, 331

  Durazzo, Madame, 37

  Durham, Lord, his advanced opinions and popularity with the Radicals,
      66, 164;
    and the preparation of the Reform Bill, 67, 68;
    and the scene in the House of Commons during the introduction of the
      bill, 69, 89;
    resigns office, 92;
    appointed Governor-General of Canada, 110;
    defended by Lord John Russell, 111;
    popularity, 164

  Durham Letter, the, 184-189, 191

  EAST INDIA COMPANY, 89, 288, 289

  East Retford, 51

  Ebrington, Lord, 75;
    moves a vote of confidence in Lord Grey's Government, 79;
    moves a second vote of confidence, 83, 91, 92

  Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, 191-193

  'Edinburgh Letter,' the, 133

  Edinburgh Speculative Society, 13

  -- University, Lord John Russell at, 11-14;
    and the influence of Professors Dugald Stewart and John Playfair,
    and the Speculative Society, 13

  Education at the beginning of the century, 24;
    Roebuck's scheme, 89;
    Bill of 1839, 114, 115;
    measure for providing competent teachers for elementary schools,
    Lord John Russell's scheme of National Education, 284;
    Mr. Forster's measure, 285

  Egypt, war between Turkey and, 119

  Elcho, Lord, 329

  Eldon, Lord, 40, 50;
    and the proposed repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, 57, 58, 63

  Elections, Parliamentary, cost of, 23

  Elliot, Hon. George, 195, 279, 347, 362

  Encumbered Estates Act, 157

  Erskine, Lord, 25

  'Essay on the History of the English Government and Constitution,' by
      Lord John Russell, 274, 275


  Famine, Irish, 130, 146, 148, 149

  Farnborough, Lord, 107

  Fielden, Mr., 159

  Fitzpatrick, General, 20

  Flood, Mr., and Reform, 77, and _note_

  Fonblanque, Albany, 47, 84, 196, 197

  Forster, W. E., and the Irish famine, 149;
    tribute to Lord John Russell for his work in the cause of education,
      285, 327

  Fortescue, Mr. Chichester, Lord John Russell's 'Letters on the State
      of Ireland' to, 280, 342

  Fox, Charles James, his influence on Lord John Russell, 8;
    on Parliamentary Representation, 25;
    and the Test and Corporation Acts, 54, 55;
    Russell's Biography of him, 98, 272, 277

  France: Napoleon's intention to create a new aristocracy, 31;
    and England's alliance, 120;
    overthrow and flight of Louis Philippe, 163, 171;
    and the Spanish marriages, 171;
    Revolution of 1848, 171;
    and the 'Don Pacifico' affair, 175;
    and the Crimean War, 225, 229;
    the Orsini Conspiracy, 289, 290;
    Commercial Treaty with England, 295, 296;
    campaign with Italy, against Austria, 302, 303;
    annexation of Savoy, 305

  Free Trade: the question coming to the front, 121;
    and Tory opposition, 132;
    conversion of Peel, 137, 138;
    and the Commercial Treaty with France, 296

  French Revolution, its influence on the English people, 24, 36

  Friends of the People, Society of the, 25, 63

  Froude, Mr., on the improvements effected by the Reform Bill, 86, 87

  'GAGGING ACTS,' the, 39, 40

  Garibaldi, General, 300;
    entry into Naples, 306;
    visit to Pembroke Lodge, 307

  Gascoigne, General, 73

  Gatton, 23

  Gavazzi, Father, 186

  George III., his madness and blindness, 27;
    and Catholic Emancipation, 59

  George IV. and Queen Caroline, 41;
    and Catholic Emancipation, 59;
    death, 60, 64

  Gibson, Milner, 141, 208, 287, 295

  Gladstone, Mr., on the Colonial policy of the Melbourne Government,
    Colonial Secretary, 136;
    and Sir Robert Peel, 176;
    his attack on Disraeli's Budget, 199;
    and Disraeli's claim to lead the Conservative party, 201 and _note_;
    and Lord John Russell's claim to the Premiership on the fall of the
      Derby Government, 202;
    takes office under Lord Aberdeen, 207;
    first Budget, 210;
    and the income tax, 240;
    resigns office, 258, 290;
    Chancellor of the Exchequer (1859), 295;
    tribute to Russell on his accession to the Peerage, 297, 298;
    unseated at Oxford, 325;
    Chancellor of the Exchequer under Lord Russell, 327;
    introduces a Reform Bill, 328;
    tribute to Lord Russell, 330;
    ovation at Carlton House Terrace, 332;
    and the Irish Question, 342, 363, 366

  Glenelg, Lord, 112

  Goderich, Lord, 52, 93

  Gordon, Lady Georgiana, 3

  Gore, Hon. Charles, 348

  Gorham Case, the, 182

  Gortschakoff, Prince, 261, 267

  Goschen, Mr., 327

  Graham, Sir James, 67;
    withdraws from Lord Grey's Ministry, 95;
    accuses Lord John Russell of encouraging sedition, 119;
    Home Secretary under Peel, 125;
    declines the Governor-Generalship of India, 141, 202, 207, 232, 254,
      258, 290

  Grampound, 27, 40, 41;
    disfranchised, 43

  Granville, Lord, appointed Foreign Secretary, 182;
    on Lord John Russell's speech in defence of his late colleagues,
    fails to form a Ministry on the defeat of Lord Derby, 293;
    becomes President of the Council, 295

  Great Exhibition of 1851, 193, 200, 234, 308

  Greece and the 'Don Pacifico' affair, 175

  Greenock, Lord John Russell's speech on the prospects of war, at, 227

  Greville, Charles, comments of, 61, 69, 72, 73, 102, 130, 180, 207,
      257, 286

  Grey, (Charles, second) Lord, 15, 25;
    and Lord John Russell's efforts on behalf of liberty, 58, 61;
    forms an Administration, 62, 65;
    early labours in the cause of Reform, 63, 64;
    characteristics, 65;
    announcement in the House of Lords with regard to the introduction
      of the first Reform Bill, 68;
    speech on the second Reform Bill, 76-78;
    resigns office, but resumes power on the inability of the Duke of
      Wellington to form a Ministry, 83, 92;
    changes in his Cabinet, 96;
    proposes the renewal of the Coercion Act, 96;
    resigns the Premiership, 99

  Grey (Henry, third), Lord, 134;
    Secretary to the Colonies under Lord John Russell, 141

  Grey, Sir George, Home Secretary under Lord John Russell, 141;
    and Irish crime, 153;
    appointed Colonial Secretary, 245, 295;
    Home Secretary, 327

  Grillion's Club, 27, 28

  Grosvenor, Earl, 329, 330

  Grote, George, 90, 110, 111, 320

  HABEAS CORPUS ACT, suspension of, 33, 34

  Hampden, Dr., and the see of Hereford, 161

  Hampden Clubs, 26

  Harcourt, Archbishop, on religious tests, 57

  Harding, Sir John, and the 'Alabama' Case, 315-317

  Hardinge, Sir Henry (afterwards Viscount), 82, 249

  Hartington, Lord, 292, 327

  Henley, Mr., 291

  Herbert of Lea, Lord, 232

  Herbert, Sidney, 207, 244, 254, 258

  Herschel, Sir John, 355

  Hobhouse, Sir J. C., 70, 141

  Holland, Lord, visit of Lord John Russell to the Peninsula with, 9-11,
      30, 53, 57, 119;
    and the Life of Charles James Fox, 276

  Holland House, 8, 15, 143

  Holy Places in Palestine, dispute concerning, 213, 218

  Horsman, Mr., 329

  Houghton, Lord, 294

  House of Commons, abuses and defects in representation before the era
      of Reform, 22, 23;
    presentation of the petition of the Friends of the People, 25, 26;
    suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, 33, 34;
    Sir Francis Burdett's motion for universal suffrage, and Lord John
      Russell's speech, 35;
    and the 'Gagging Acts,' 39, 40;
    Lord John's first resolutions in favour of Reform, 40;
    Lord John proposes an addition of 100 members, 43;
    introduction and second reading of the first Reform Bill, 69-73;
    dissolution, 74;
    first Reform Bill, 69-73;
    second Reform Bill, 75, 76;
    third Reform Bill, 81;
    the first Reformed Parliament, 88;
    number of Protectionists in 1847, 160

  House of Lords, and the proposed enfranchisement of Manchester, 52;
    and the Test and Corporation Acts, 56, 57;
    effect of the Duke of Wellington's declaration against Reform, 61;
    its rejection of Reform, 78;
    urged by William IV. to withdraw opposition to the Reform Bill, 84;
    passing of the Reform Bill, 84;
    and the Jewish Disabilities Bill, 198, 291

  Howick, Lord, 134

  Hume, Joseph, 72, 80, 90, 121

  Hunt, Mr. Ward, 330

  -- 'Orator,' 26

  Huskisson, Mr., 56

  Hyde Park, Reform demonstration in, 332

  INDEMNITY BILL for Dissenters, 51

  India, Napoleon's prophecy as to the acquisition by Russia of, 31;
    Duhamel's scheme for its acquisition by Russia, 218;
    Mutiny in, 288

  India Bills, 210, 290

  Inkerman, battle of, 247

  Ireland: condition of affairs on the accession of the Duke of
      Wellington to power, 53;
    agitation for Catholic Emancipation, 58, 59;
    and O'Connell, 90;
    Lord John Russell's visit in 1833, 91, 92;
    Poor Law Amendment Act, 93, 107;
    Mr. Littleton's Tithe Bill, 93;
    Tithe Bill of 1835, 105, 107;
    Municipal Bill, 105, 112;
    passing of the Tithe Bill, 112;
    Maynooth grant, 127, 128;
    potato famine, 130, 146, 148, 149;
    Peel's proposal for renewal of Coercion Act, 140;
    proposed renewal of Arms Bill, 147, 148;
    revolt of Young Ireland against O'Connell, 147;
    measures to relieve distress, 150-152;
    crime, 153, 154;
    Arms Bill (1847), 154;
    Treason Felony Act, 157;
    Encumbered Estates Act, 157;
    emigration, 158

  Irish Church: Mr. Ward's motion, 95;
    Peel's accusation against Lord John Russell, 97;
    Lord John's motion of April 1835, 103, 104

  Italy: Lord John Russell's impressions, 37;
    Lord John's second visit, 48, 49;
    and the retention by Austria of Lombardy and Venice, 172, 300;
    accession of Victor Emmanuel II. to the throne of Sardinia, 301;
    campaign, with France, against Austria, 302, 303;
    the Peace of Villafranca, 303;
    intervention of England, 304;
    annexation of Savoy by France, 305;
    entry of Garibaldi into Naples, and proclamation of Victor Emmanuel
      as King of Italy, 306

  JAMAICA BILL, the, 114

  Jews: exclusion from Parliament, 57;
    rejection in the Lords of bill for their relief, 89, 198, 210;
    passing of the bill in 1858, 290, 291

  Jones, Gale, 13

  KEBLE, Dr., 183

  Kennington Common, Chartist demonstration on, 166-168

  King, Mr. Locke, 193

  Kinglake, Mr., 266, 353

  Kingsley, Charles, his 'Alton Locke,' 166

  Kossuth, Louis, his visit to England, 179

  LABOUCHERE, Mr. (afterwards Lord Taunton), 116, 147

  Lambton, Mr. (father of the first Earl of Durham), 25

  Lancashire Cotton Famine, 319

  Lancaster, Joseph, 115 and _note_, 281, 282

  Lansdowne, Lord, 52, 141, 202, 205, 240, 251, 258

  Lascelles, Mr., 23

  Lecky, Mr. W. E. H., his reminiscences of Earl Russell, 335-339

  Leech, John, 192, 241

  Leeds, unrepresented in the House of Commons, 23, 38, 60, 71, 296

  'Letters written for the Post, and not for the Press,' question of
      authorship of, 279, 280

  Lewis, Sir George Cornewall, 210, 226, 238;
    Chancellor of the Exchequer in Lord Palmerston's Ministry, 258;
    on Lord John Russell's speech announcing his resignation (1855),
      265, 295

  Lhuys, M. Drouyn de, 261, 262

  Lincoln, President, assassination of, 325

  Lister, Sir Villiers, 348

  Littleton, Mr. (afterwards Lord Hatherton), and the Irish Title Bill,
    and the Coercion Act, 97

  Liverpool, Lord, 21, 33, 50, 63

  Llandaff, Bishop of, and the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts,

  London University, 106, 107;
    proposed enfranchisement of, 296

  Londonderry, Marquis of, 79

  Louis Philippe, overthrow and flight of, 163, 171;
    and the Spanish marriages, 171

  Lowe, Mr., 327, 329, 332

  Luddites, riots of the, 32

  Lyndhurst, Lord, and Jewish Lord Chancellors, 291

  Lyons, Sir Edmund, 252

  Lytton, Sir Edward Bulwer, 208, 265

  MACAULAY, Lord, 141;
    urges Lord John Russell to take office in the Coalition Ministry,

  Mackintosh, Sir James, 25, 39, 53

  Magenta, battle of, 303

  Malmesbury, Lord, 137

  Maltby, Dr., Bishop of Durham, and Lord John Russell's 'Durham
    Letter,' 184

  Manchester, unrepresented in the House of Commons, 23, 38, 51, 60, 71,
      126, 155;
    creation of bishopric of, 160, 296

  Martineau, Harriet, 129

  Maule, Fox, 141

  Maynooth College, 127-130

  Mazzini, 300

  McCarthy, Mr. Justin, on the attitude of the Catholics towards Lord
      John Russell, 188

  Melbourne, Lord, becomes Prime Minister, 99;
    dismissed by William IV., 100, 101;
    again Prime Minister, 104;
    Queen Victoria's regard for him, 108, 109;
    characteristics, 108, 170;
    opinion of the ballot, 109;
    resigns, but is recalled to power, 114;
    his recognition of Russell's influence as leader in the Commons,
    blunders of his Government, 122;
    defeat of his Government, 123, 144

  Melville, Lord, 8

  'Memoirs of the Affairs of Europe from the Peace of Utrecht,' by Lord
      John Russell, 275

  Memorandum, Secret, 216, 225

  Menschikoff, Prince, 223, 224

  Metternich, 171, 300

  Miall, Edward, 242

  Militia Bill, the, 194, 195

  Milton, Lord, 23

  Mitchel, John, 157, 158

  Moldavia and Wallachia, occupation by Russia of, 224, 229, 259

  Monson, Lord, 23

  Moore, Thomas, his 'Remonstrance,' 34;
    accompanies Lord John Russell to the Continent, 36;
    extracts from his journal, 37, 39, 41;
    anxiety as to Lord John's politics, 52;
    on Lord John's success with his motion for the repeal of the Test
      and Corporation Acts, 58;
    and Lardner's Encyclopædia, 91;
    Russell's 'Memoirs and Correspondence' of Moore, 204, 272, 278

  Morpeth, Lord, 141

  Municipal Reform Act, 90, 104

  NAPOLEON I., Lord Russell's boyish hatred of, 9;
    Lord John's interview with him at Elba, 28-31;
    his description of Wellington, 30;
    opinions on European politics, &c., 29-31;
    and Talma, 37

  Napoleon III., 167;
    and the _Coup d'État_ of 1851, 179;
    and the fear of his invading England, 194;
    and the custody of the Holy Places, 218;
    his alliance with England during the Crimean War, 262;
    visit to England (1855), 267;
    interview with Count Cavour, 302;
    designs with regard to Italy, 303, 304;
    and the Peace of Villafranca, 303

  Navigation Acts, 197

  Nesselrode, Count, 214, 215

  New Zealand becomes part of the British dominions, 117, 199

  Newcastle, Duke of, 207, 232;
    unpopularity as Secretary for War, 244, 249, 250;
    incapacity as War Minister, 245

  Newman, Dr., 161, 182

  Nicholas, Emperor, his ambitious projects, 213, 214;
    visit to England in 1844 and the Secret Memorandum, 215, 216;
    friendship with Lord Aberdeen, 217;
    letter to Queen Victoria, 230;
    'Generals Janvier et Février,' 259;
    death, 259

  Nightingale, Miss Florence, 250

  Nonconformists: the Indemnity Bill, 51;
    agitation for repeal of Test and Corporation Acts and their repeal
      moved and carried by Lord John Russell, 53-57;
    the Marriage Bill and Registration Act, 106;
    and the struggle for civil and religious liberty, 184;
    deputation to Lord Russell, 366

  Normanby, Lord, 116, 179, 180

  Northcote, Sir Stafford, 369

  Nottingham Castle, 79

  'Nun of Arrouca, The,' 278

  O'BRIEN, Smith, 140, 157, 158

  O'Connell, Daniel, 53;
    his election for Clare, 58, 90, 92;
    on the revenues of the Irish Church, 97;
    and the Coercion Bill, 97, 99, 140, 146;
    and Lord John Russell, 147;
    and the potato famine, 149, 158

  O'Connor, Feargus, 165-168

  Old Sarum, 23, 71

  Oltenitza, battle of, 230

  Omar Pacha, 230

  Opium war, the, 121

  Orloff, Count, 214

  Orsini conspiracy, the, 289, 290

  Oxford Movement, the, 161, 182-186, 189

  PALMERSTON, Lord, 21, 56, 119;
    and the despatch to Metternich, 120;
    Foreign Secretary under Lord John Russell, 141;
    compared with Russell, 144;
    early official life and politics, 169;
    his independent action, 169, 174, 175, 177;
    his despatch to France on the Spanish marriages, 171;
    foreign policy, 173, 174;
    despatch to Sir H. Bulwer at Madrid, 174;
    and the 'Don Pacifico' affair, 175;
    popularity, 177;
    and the Queen's instructions, 178;
    and the Kossuth incident, 179;
    and the _Coup d'État_ in Paris (1851), 179;
    dismissed from the Foreign Office, 180;
    declines the Irish Viceroyalty, 181;
    his amendment on the Militia Bill, 195;
    offered a seat in Lord Derby's Cabinet, 201;
    Home Secretary under Lord Aberdeen, 207;
    urges the despatch of the fleet to the Bosphorus, 225;
    resignation, and its withdrawal, 237, 238;
    succeeds Lord Aberdeen as Prime Minister, 258;
    and Count Buol's proposals, 262, 263;
    defeat on the 'Arrow' question and return to power after the General
      Election, 287;
    defeat and resignation on the Conspiracy Bill, 290;
    renewal of friendly relations with Russell, 293;
    forms a Ministry on the defeat of Lord Derby, 293, 295;
    indifference to Reform, 296;
    on Cabinet opinions, 323;
    death, 325;
    Lord Lyttelton's opinion of him, 326

  Panmure, Lord, 243, 258

  Papal aggression, and the decree of Pius IX., 182-184;
    and the Durham Letter, 184-188

  Paris, Treaty of, 268

  Parliamentary representation before the era of Reform, 22, 23

  Parnell, Sir H., 62

  'Partington, Dame,' and Sydney Smith's speech on Reform, 80

  'Peace with honour,' 227, 349

  Peel, Lady Georgiana, 357

  Peel, Sir Robert, 21, 50;
    leader of the House of Commons under the Duke of Wellington, 52;
    opposes the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, 56;
    and Catholic Emancipation, 58;
    and the first Reform Bill, 69, 70, 73, 76, 83;
    Prime Minister, 102;
    resignation, 104;
    and the Whig Ladies-in-Waiting, 114;
    his motion of want of confidence in the Melbourne Administration,
    again Prime Minister, 123, 124;
    characteristics, 126, 127;
    and the grant to Maynooth College, 127, 128, 130;
    on the state of Ireland, 128;
    and the repeal of the Corn Laws, 131;
    resignation and resumption of office, 134, 136;
    proposes gradual repeal of Corn Laws, 138, 139;
    defeat and resignation on the Coercion Bill, 140, 155;
    and Lord Palmerston, 170;
    death, 176, 177;
    and the Emperor Nicholas, 215

  Pélissier, General, 263, 267

  Pembroke Lodge, 307, 351-353, 356, 357

  Penal Code, the, before the era of Reform, 24, 48, 107

  Peninsular Campaign, its costliness, 22

  Penryn, 40, 51, 52

  People's Charter, the, 165

  Peterloo Massacre, the, 38

  Petty, Lord Henry (afterwards third Marquis of Lansdowne), 12

  Pius IX., and his decree of 1850, 182, 183

  Playfair, Professor John, 12

  Polignac, Prince de, 60, 61

  Polish revolt of 1863, 321

  Poor Law Amendment Act (Ireland), 93, 107, 151

  Poor Law Board, 160

  Poor Laws, 89, 126

  Potato famine, 130, 146, 148, 149

  Prisons, regulation of, 107

  Protestant Operative Association of Dublin, 129

  Prussia and the Vienna Note, 227;
    and the Crimean War, 243

  Public Health Act, 162

  'Punch,' cartoons, &c., in, 192, 241, 242, 307, 367

  Pusey, Dr., 161 and _note_, 183

  RAGLAN, Lord, 246, 252, 267

  'Recollections and Suggestions,' publication of, 280

  Redistribution of Seats Bill, 330

  Redcliffe, Lord Stratford de: skill in diplomacy, and early diplomatic
      life, 218-220;
    return to Constantinople, 220, 221;
    and the second Congress at Vienna, 260

  Reform: its early advocates, 25-27;
    and the Society of the Friends of the People, 25;
    Lord John Russell's first speech on the subject, 35;
    Sir Francis Burdett's motion of 1819, 35;
    Lord John brings forward his first resolutions in the House of
      Commons, 40;
    disfranchisement of Grampound, 43;
    Lord John's motion for an addition of 100 members to the House of
      Commons, 43;
    resolutions brought forward by Lord Blandford, 59;
    rejection of Lord John's Bill for enfranchising Manchester,
      Birmingham, and Leeds, 60;
    O'Connell's motion for Triennial Parliaments, &c., 60;
    declaration of the Duke of Wellington, 61;
    the Committee of Four and the first Reform Bill, 67, 68;
    introduction and second reading of the first Bill in the Commons,
    the second Bill, 75-78;
    public excitement on the rejection of the second Bill by the House
      of Lords, 79, 80;
    the third Bill passes the Commons, 81;
    the Bill passes the House of Lords, and receives the Royal Assent,
    secured by popular enthusiasm, 85, 87;
    Lord John's Bill of 1852, 196;
    Bill of 1854, 236, 237, 239;
    Disraeli's Bill, 291, 292;
    Lord John's Bill of 1860, 296;
    Bill introduced by Mr. Gladstone, 328

  Regent, Prince, insulted on returning from opening Parliament, 32;
    and the Peterloo Massacre, 38

  Revolution, French (1848), 171

  Rice, Mr. Spring, 96

  Richmond, Duke of, 89, 95, 124

  Ripon, Lord, 95, 124

  Roden, Lord, 113

  Roebuck, J. A., and education, 89;
    moves vote of confidence in the Russell Administration, 176;
    his motion to inquire into the condition of the Army in the Crimea,

  Rogers, Samuel, 123, 276

  Rothschild, Baron, 291

  Russell, Mr. G. W. E., 344

  Russell, John, the first Constable of Corfe Castle, 1, 2

  Russell, Sir John, Speaker of the House of Commons, 2

  Russell, John, the third, and first Earl of Bedford, 2

  Russell, Lord John: ancestry, 1, 2;
    boyhood and education, 3-9;
    schooldays at Sunbury and Westminster, 3-5;
    extracts from journal kept at Westminster, 4, 5;
    passion for the theatre, 4;
    education under Dr. Cartwright, 5;
    dedicates a manuscript book to Pitt, 6;
    schooldays and schoolfellows at Woodnesborough, 6-9;
    writes satirical verses and dramatic prologues, 7, 8;
    opinion on the case of Lord Melville, 8;
    influence of Mr. Fox upon him, 8;
    at Holland House, 8, 336;
    friendship with Sydney Smith, 8;
    visit to the English lakes and Scotland, 9;
    impressions of Sir Walter Scott, 9;
    first visit to the House of Lords, 9;
    visit to the Peninsula with Lord and Lady Holland, 9-11;
    political predilections and sympathy with Spain, 9-11;
    goes to Edinburgh University, 11;
    impressions of Professors Dugald Stewart and John Playfair, 12, 13;
    his powers of debate at the Edinburgh Speculative Society, 13;
    early bias towards Parliamentary Reform, 14;
    second visit to Spain, 14, 15;
    first impressions of Lord Wellington, 15;
    commands a company of the Bedfordshire Militia, 16;
    third visit to Spain, 16-20;
    on the field of Salamanca, 17;
    at Wellington's head-quarters, 17;
    his ride to Frenida, 18;
    dines with a canon at Plasencia, 19;
    at Talavera and Madrid, 20;
    elected member for Tavistock, 20;
    his opinion of Lord Liverpool, 21;
    maiden speech in Parliament, 27;
    speech on the Alien Acts, 27;
    elected a member of Grillion's Club, 27;
    his Italian tour of 1814-15, 28-31;
    interview with Napoleon at Elba, 28-31;
    speeches in Parliament against the renewal of war with France,
      against the income-tax and the Army Estimates, 32;
    on the proposal to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, 33, 34;
    proposes to abandon politics, 34;
    literary labours and travel, 34;
    returned again for Tavistock at the General Election of 1818, 34;
    first speech in the House of Commons on Parliamentary Reform, 35;
    growth of his influence in Parliament, 36;
    visit to the Continent with Thomas Moore, 36, 37;
    impressions of Italy, 37;
    brings forward in Parliament his first resolutions in favour of
      Reform, 40;
    his bill for disfranchising Penryn, Camelford, Grampound, and
      Barnstaple, 40;
    returned to Parliament for Huntingdon, 40;
    and the case of Grampound, 40, 41, 42, 43;
    takes the side of Queen Caroline, 41;
    writes 'The Nun of Arrouca,' 42;
    taciturnity in French society, 42;
    his resolutions for the discovery and punishment of bribery, &c.,
      43, 44;
    proposes an addition of 100 members to the House of Commons, 43;
    increase of his political influence, 45, 46;
    unseated in Huntingdonshire, and his second visit to Italy, 48, 49;
    elected for Bandon Bridge, 49;
    on the condition of the Tory party on Canning's accession to power,
    and restrictions upon Dissenters, 51;
    proposal to enfranchise Manchester, 51;
    moves the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, 55-57;
    and Catholic Emancipation, 59;
    rejection of his bill for enfranchising Manchester, Birmingham, and
      Leeds, 60;
    defeated at Bedford, 60;
    visit to Paris, and efforts to save the life of Prince de Polignac,
      60, 61;
    elected for Tavistock, and appointed Paymaster-General, 62;
    prepares the first Reform Bill in conjunction with Lord Durham and
      others, 67;
    introduces the bill, 69-72;
    moves the second reading of the Bill, 73;
    returned to Parliament for Devonshire, 75;
    raised to Cabinet rank, and introduces second Reform Bill, 75;
    reply to vote of thanks from Birmingham, 79;
    introduces the third Reform Bill, 80;
    carries the bill to the Lords, 81;
    and the Municipal Reform Act, 90, 104;
    opposition to Radical measures, 90;
    and the wants of Ireland, 91;
    visit to Ireland, 91, 92;
    on Mr. Littleton's Irish Tithe Bill, 94, 95;
    'upsets the coach,' 95;
    on Coercion Acts, 97, 98;
    allusion to his Biography of Fox, 98;
    and the leadership in the House of Commons under the first Melbourne
      Ministry, 100, 101;
    William IV.'s opinion of him, 101;
    returned for South Devon on Peel's accession to power, 102;
    as leader of the Opposition, 103;
    and the meeting at Lichfield House, 103;
    defeats the Government with his Irish Church motion, 104;
    marriage, 104, 355;
    appointment to the Home Office in the second Melbourne
      Administration, 104;
    defeated in Devonshire, and elected for Stroud, 104;
    presented with a testimonial at Bristol, 105;
    and the Dissenters' Marriage Bill, 106;
    and the Tithe Commutation Act, 106, 107;
    again returned for Stroud, 107;
    allusion to the accession of the Queen, 108;
    declines to take part in further measures of Reform, and is called
      by Radicals 'Finality John,' 110;
    death of his wife, 112;
    Education Bill of 1839, 114, 115;
    as Colonial Secretary, 116-118, 338;
    his appointment of a Chartist magistrate, 119;
    and the Corn Laws, 121;
    returned for the City of London, 122;
    second marriage, 123;
    Wellington's opinion of him, 123;
    his opinion of Peel's Administration, 126;
    supports Peel on the Maynooth question, 129, 130;
    and the repeal of the Corn Laws, 131-134, 139;
    and the 'Edinburgh Letter,' 133;
    fails to form a Ministry on the resignation of Peel, 134, 135;
    opposes Peel's proposal for renewal of Coercion Act, 139, 140;
    succeeds Peel as Prime Minister, 141;
    address in the City, 142;
    political qualities, 143, 145;
    contrasted with Palmerston, 144;
    his measure for total repeal of Corn Laws, 145;
    and sugar duties, 146;
    proposes renewal of Irish Arms Bill, 146;
    his Irish policy, and anxiety and efforts for the improvement of the
      people, 151, 152, 156, 157, 158, 338, 342;
    and the Arms Bill (1847), 154;
    again visits Ireland, 158;
    education measures, 159;
    returned again for the City, 160;
    his appointment of Dr. Hampden to the see of Hereford, 161;
    and the Chartist demonstration of 1848, 166, 168;
    relations with Lord Palmerston, 170;
    on the political situation in Europe after the French Revolution of
      1848, 171, 172;
    and Palmerston's action in the 'Don Pacifico' affair, 176;
    tribute to Sir Robert Peel, 177;
    dismisses Palmerston from the Foreign Office, 180;
    and the breach with Palmerston, 181;
    his 'Durham Letter,' 184-191;
    introduces the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill, 191;
    resigns the Premiership, but returns to office on the failure of
      Lord Stanley to form a Ministry, 193;
    resignation on the vote on the Militia Bill, 195;
    his Reform Bill of 1852, 196;
    defence of Lord Clarendon, 196;
    edits 'Memoirs and Journal of Thomas Moore,' 204;
    accepts Foreign Secretaryship in the Aberdeen Administration, 206;
    his vacillation in taking office under Lord Aberdeen not due to
      personal motives, 205;
    retires from Foreign Office, 210, 221;
    on the projects of Russia, 218, 224, 225;
    and the Vienna Note, 227;
    speech at Greenock on the prospects of war, 227;
    memorandum to the Cabinet on the eve of the Crimean War, 228;
    Reform Bill of 1854, 236, 239, 241;
    resignation, 241;
    resumes his seat in the Cabinet, 242;
    speech in the House of Commons on withdrawing his Reform measure,
      242, 243;
    proposes a rearrangement of the War and Colonial departments, 244,
      248, 251;
    presses Lord Aberdeen to take decisive action with regard to the
      Crimean War, 248;
    memorandum on the Crimean War, 251;
    proposed resignation, 251, 252;
    resignation on Roebuck's motion to inquire into the condition of the
      Army in the Crimea, and his speech on the question, 254-257;
    becomes Colonial Secretary in Palmerston's Government, 258;
    plenipotentiary at second Congress of Vienna, 259-263;
    consents at Palmerston's request to remain in the Ministry, 263;
    explanations in the House of Commons regarding the failure of the
      Vienna Conference, 264, 265;
    announces his resignation (1855), 265;
    speech in defence of his late colleagues against Roebuck's motion of
      censure, 266;
    his mistake in joining the Coalition Ministry, 271;
    leisure, travel, &c., 272;
    literary labours, 272-281, 354;
    and the pension for Moore, 278;
    remarks on his own career in 'Recollections and Suggestions,' 281,
    allusions to Joseph Lancaster, 282;
    work in the cause of education, 282-285, 339;
    scheme of National Education (1856), 284;
    opposes Lord Palmerston on the 'Arrow' question, 287;
    speech in the City and re-election, 287, 288;
    supports Palmerston at the Indian Mutiny crisis, 288;
    on the Conspiracy Bill, 289, 290;
    supports Lord Derby in passing the India Bill, 290;
    thanked by Jews for his aid in removing their disabilities, 291;
    attacks Disraeli's Reform Bill, 292;
    renewal of friendly intercourse with Palmerston, 293;
    relations with Cobden and Bright, 294;
    joins Palmerston's Administration (1859) as Foreign Secretary, 295;
    introduces a new Reform Bill, 296;
    raised to the Peerage, 297;
    acquires the Ardsalla estate, and receives the Garter, 298;
    his work at the Foreign Office, 299, 300;
    intervention in Italian affairs, 304, 339;
    protests against the annexation of Savoy by France, 305;
    receives Garibaldi at Pembroke Lodge, 307;
    his reception in Italy, 307;
    and the 'Trent' affair, 311;
    and the 'Alabama' case, 313-319, 341;
    on the Polish revolt, 321;
    and the Schleswig-Holstein difficulty, 322, 323;
    as Foreign Secretary, 323, 324;
    on Palmerston's vivacity, 325;
    second Premiership on the death of Palmerston, 325;
    tribute to Lord Palmerston, 327;
    defeated on the questions of Reform and Redistribution of Seats,
    Mr. Lecky's reminiscences of him, 335-339;
    relations with colleagues and opponents, 336, 337, 347;
    speech on the maintenance of the independence of Belgium, 340;
    letter on the claims of the Vatican, 341, 342;
    letters to the 'Times' on the government of Ireland, 343;
    and Home Rule, 338, 343, 344;
    independent attitude towards the throne, 344;
    relations with Lord Aberdeen, 346, 347;
    Lord Selborne's impressions of him, 345;
    his private secretaries' impressions of him, 347, 348;
    life at Pembroke Lodge, 351-353;
    stories about doctors, 350;
    visit of Bulgarian delegates, 352;
    friendships, 355;
    his use of patronage, 355;
    his children, 356;
    home life, and his children's reminiscences, 356-361;
    Dr. Anderson's recollections, 361;
    a meeting with Carlyle, 362;
    Lord Dufferin's recollections, 363;
    religious faith, 364;
    interview with Spurgeon, 365;
    at Cheshunt College, 365;
    Nonconformist deputation, 366;
    'Golden Wedding,' 367;
    death, 367;
    opinion of Lord Shaftesbury, 368;
    a remark of Sir Stafford Northcote's, 369

  Russell, Hon. Rollo, 360, 367

  Russell, William, Member of Parliament in the reign of Edward II., 2

  Russell, Lord William (of the seventeenth century), 1;
    Lord John Russell's Biography of him, 274

  Russell, Lord William, Lord John Russell's brother, 6;
    wounded at Talavera, 14, 34;
    letter to Lord John, 49

  Russia, and India, 31, 218;
    projects and demands with regard to Turkey, 223, 224;
    occupation of Moldavia and Wallachia, 224, 229;
    rejection of the Vienna Note, 226;
    destroys Turkish fleet at Sinope, 230;
    evacuates the Principalities, 243;
    operations in the Crimea, 246-252;
    death of the Emperor Nicholas, 259;
    fall of Sebastopol, and losses in the war, 268;
    and the Polish revolt, 321

  SALAMANCA, battle of, 16, 17

  Sardinia, and the Crimean War, 267

  Schleswig-Holstein question, the, 172, 322, 323

  Scott, Sir Walter, Lord John Russell's first acquaintance with, 9;
    and the Edinburgh Speculative Society, 13, 91, 355

  Sebastopol, siege and fall of, 246, 247, 268

  Secret Memorandum, the, 216, 225

  Sefton, Lord, 75

  Selborne, Lord, on the 'Alabama' case, 312-319;
    impressions of Lord Russell, 345

  Seymour, Sir Hamilton, 214

  Seymour, Lord Webb, 12

  Shaftesbury, Lord, and factory children, 89;
    and Lord John Russell's support of Peel, 129, 130;
    and the Factory Bill, 159;
    special constable in 1848, 167;
    and Cardinal Wiseman's manifesto, 187;
    on the Coalition Government, 211, 212, 368

  'Shannon' and the 'Chesapeake,' battle between the, 22

  Shelley and the Peterloo massacre, 38

  Sheridan, Mr., 25

  Sidmouth, Lord, 21, 40, 63, 85

  Simpson, General, 267

  Sinope, destruction of Turkish fleet at, 230, 232, 233

  Slave trade, 22, 48, 89

  Smith, Rev. --, Vicar of Woodnesborough, a tutor of Lord John
      Russell's, 6

  Smith, Dr. Southwood, and the Public Health Act, 162

  Smith, Sydney, friendship with Lord John Russell, 8;
    on Reform, 27;
    on the political situation after Canning's accession to power, 50,
    and 'Dame Partington,' 80;
    hopeful of the triumph of Reform, 84;
    and 'Lord John Reformer,' 90;
    on Lord John's influence in the Melbourne Government, 113

  Society of the Friends of the People, 25, 63

  Solferino, battle of, 303

  Spain, Lord John Russell's visit with Lord and Lady Holland, 9-11;
    Lord John's sympathy, 9, 10;
    Lord John's second visit, 14, 15;
    Lord John's third visit and adventures, 16-20;
    entry of Wellington into Madrid, 16;
    the Spanish marriages, 171, 172;
    Lord Palmerston's interference, 174

  Spencer, Lord, on the alliance of England with France, 120

  Spurgeon, C. H., 365

  Stanhope, Colonel, 14, 15

  Stanley, Lord, and Irish affairs, 92, 93;
    Secretary for the Colonies, 93;
    and the Irish Church, 95;
    withdraws from Lord Grey's Cabinet, 95;
    Secretary for the Colonies under Peel, 124, 134;
    succeeds to the House of Lords, 141;
    challenges Palmerston's foreign policy, 176;
    fails to form a Ministry on the resignation of Lord John Russell,

  Stanmore, Lord, 118, 119, 211, 231, 233, 347

  Stansfeld, Mr., 327

  Stewart, Dugald, 12

  Stockmar, Baron, 101, 216

  Sussex, Duke of, and the claims of Dissenters, 53

  Sweden, and the Crimean War, 267

  Syllogism, a merry canon's, 19

  TAHITI incident, the, 125

  Tavistock, monastic lands granted to the first Earl of Bedford, 2;
    election of Lord John Russell as member for, 20, 62

  Tavistock, Lord, elder brother of Lord John Russell, 6, 11

  Tennyson, Mr., 90

  Tennyson, Lord, his appointment as Poet Laureate, 355

  Test and Corporation Acts; agitation for their total repeal, 53, 54;
    speech of Fox, 54, 55;
    their provisions, 54;
    jubilee of repeal, 366

  Tithe Acts (Ireland): Mr. Littleton's Bill, 93, 94;
    Bill of 1835, 105, 107;
    Bill passes through Parliament, 112

  Tithe Commutation Act, 106, 107

  Tooke, Horne, 26

  Trafalgar Square demonstration on the Reform question, 332

  Treason Felony Act, 157

  Treaty of Paris (1856), 268

  'Trent' affair, the, 310-312

  Turkey, war with Egypt, 119;
    and the custody of the Holy Places in Palestine, 213;
    the 'sick man' of Europe, 214, 215;
    oppression of Christian subjects, 217;
    reception of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, 222;
    and the Vienna Note, 224-227;
    ultimatum to Russia, 229;
    destruction of fleet by Russia at Sinope, 230;
    and the second Congress at Vienna, 259-262;
    and the Treaty of Paris, 268, 269

  UNIVERSITY of London, 106, 107;
    proposed enfranchisement of, 296


  Vaughan, Cardinal, on Romish practices in the Anglican Church, 190,

  Victor Emmanuel II., accession to the throne of Sardinia, and efforts
      to secure Italian independence, 301;
    proclaimed King of Italy, 306

  Victoria, Queen, accession, 107;
    her regard for Lord Melbourne, 108, 109;
    declines to dismiss her Whig Ladies-in-Waiting, 114;
    visit to Ireland, 158;
    instructions to Lord Palmerston, 178;
    letter to Lord John Russell on the formation of a Coalition
      Government, 203;
    her view of the Coalition Ministry, 208;
    reply to letter from the Czar on the eve of the Crimean War, 230;
    and the death of the Prince Consort, 309;
    letter to Lord Russell on the death of Palmerston, 326;
    opens Parliament (1866), 328;
    letter to Lady Russell on the death of the Earl, 368

  Vienna, revolt of (1848), 171;
    Congress, 224;
    second Congress, 259-262

  Vienna Note, 224-228

  Villafranca, Treaty of, 303

  Villiers, Mr. Charles, 121, 208

  Vittoria, battle of, 20

  Vitzthum, Count, 217, 324

  WALPOLE, Mr. Spencer, on the Arms Bill of the Russell Administration,
    retires from the Home Office on the introduction of Disraeli's
      Reform Bill, 291, 330

  Ward, Mr., and the Irish Church, 90, 95

  Wellington, Duke of, Lord John Russell's first impressions of, 15,
      16, 17;
    described by Napoleon, 30, 50;
    becomes Prime Minister, 52;
    and Catholic Emancipation, 58, 59;
    his declaration against Reform, 61, 65;
    resignation, 62;
    predictions on the Reform question, 69;
    failure to form a Ministry, 83;
    lament on the triumph of Reform, 85, 114;
    opinion of Lord John, 123;
    and the Anti-Corn-Law agitation, 136, 137;
    and the demonstration on Kennington Common of 1848, 166, 167;
    and Sir Robert Peel, 176;
    death, 200;
    and the Emperor Nicholas, 215

  Wesley, influence of the preaching of, 24

  Westminster School, its condition at the beginning of the century, 3;
    Lord John's experiences at, 3-5;
    some of its celebrated scholars, 3, 4

  Westmoreland, Lord, 50

  Wetherell, Mr., and the first Reform Bill, 69

  Whitfield, influence of his preaching, 24

  Wilberforce, William, 89

  William IV., his accession, 61, 64;
    receives a petition in favour of the Grey Administration, 80;
    refuses his sanction for the creation of new peers, 83;
    lampooned, 83;
    urges the House of Lords to withdraw opposition to the Reform Bill,
    dismisses the first Melbourne Ministry, 100, 101;
    his opinion of Lord John Russell, 101

  Winchilsea, Lord, 57

  Wiseman, Cardinal, 182, 183, 186, 187

  Wolseley, Sir Charles, 38

  Wood, Sir Charles, 141, 193, 258

  Working classes, their condition and claims in 1848, 163-165

  Wynn, Mr. Charles, 41

  ZÜRICH, Treaty of, 303

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The Queen's Prime Ministers




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  Pg. 74: said that the electors in the approachhing[approaching]

  Pg. 86: wrote Mr. Froude in in[omitted] 1874. 'Its population

  Pg. 244: riend[friend], Mr. Sidney Herbert, were regarded, perhaps

  Pg. 265: a matter magnified beyond its true porportions[proportions].'

  Pg. 376: and the _Coup d'Etat [d'État]_ of 1851, 179;

  Pg. 376: and the _Coup d'Etat [d'État]_ in Paris (1851), 179;

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