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so, to be able to show that he had a better knowledge of the principles on which the Constitution had been founded than any of the Tories who criticised his measures. His works, at the time they were published, won him much credit among his own friends. Lady Spencer, Lord Althorp's mother, wrote to him in 1819 –
As I read your book [the life of Lord Russell] I return grateful and cordial thanks to God that He has bestowed on its author every qualification so peculiarly called for by our country just now—venerable rank, joined to the strictest virtue, brightest talents, and highest principle. These, united so happily in you, my dear Lord John, make you indeed an object on which it is pleasant to dwell, and as I read your beautiful and striking sentiments I know not which I most do, admire you as a public man, or love you as a private one.
Lord John was not a favourite among reviewers; and, when he became famous, his early productions were criticised with great bitterness in many periodicals. The early reviews on his works apparently suggested to him a poem, written evidently in the first half of the twenties, some sentences of which are worth transcribing.
Horace was wont in ancient times to scold,
But for the Pirate half way gone in crime,
Such is this reading age, which after all
Nay, Richard Skimall, whose impartial eye
Your modern critic seeks but for defects,
THE Parliament of 1812, to which Lord John had been elected in the session of 1813, was dissolved in the summer of 1818. At the general election which then took place, the Whigs succeeded in slightly reducing the majority by which the Tory Government was supported, and the various members of the Russell family again resumed their old places in the House of Commons. Lord Tavistock was returned for Bedfordshire; Lord William for Bedford; Lord John and his uncle, Lord William Russell, for Tavistock. It was computed at the time that the ranks of the regular Opposition were increased by the election from 140 to 173 members. Even thus the Whigs did not command the support of much more than one member out of every four. And a mere statement of these numbers did not reveal the true weakness of their condition. For all practical purposes they were without a leader. They had lost, since the conclusion of the great war, Mr. Ponsonby, Mr. Whitbread, and Mr. Horner. Sir Samuel Romilly died in the interval between the dissolution of 1818 and the meeting of Parliament ; and Mr. Tierney, whose ability and experience made him in one sense the leader of the Opposition, did not command either the confidence or the votes of Lord Grenville's friends. This state of things, however injurious to the Whigs as a party, afforded opportunities to Whigs as individuals. Guerilla warfare—whether in the Senate or the field—is fruitful in opportunities to young men of energy and talent ; and Lord John, who was recovering from the weak health which had depressed his energies and restricted his activity in 1817, was accordingly ready to take a more conspicuous part in the Parliamentary campaign. Hitherto he had rarely spoken in debate, and had been constantly absent from divisions. In 1819 he was a frequent speaker, and constant attendant to his Parliamentary duties. Of the seven occasions on which Lord John spoke during 1819, little need be said. In March he was advocating a reduction in the number of the Lords of the Admiralty; in May he was supporting Mr. Tierney's motion for an inquiry into domestic and foreign policy, and procuring a return of the material part of the indictment on which Sir M. Lopes had been convicted of bribery; in June he was condemning the surrender of Parga to the Turks,' and attacking the increased excise duties which Mr. Vansittart was proposing ; and in July he was pledging the House to take the system of bribery into its consideration at the commencement of the following session. But the speech of most significance made by him during the session was on Sir F. Burdett's motion on Parliamentary Reform in July. In a few sentences he declared that, though he was not opposed to all Reform, he could not accept schemes which were regarded as wild and visionary, or support an inquiry which was ‘calculated to throw a slur upon the representation of the country and to fill the minds of the
' The town of Parga, on the coast of Epirus, had for centuries maintained municipal independence under the protection of Venice. With the destruction of the Venetian Republic it was occupied by a French garrison, but the inhabitants rose against the French troops, expelled them from their territory, and surrendered the town to the British. In 1815, the British Government ceded the town to the Turks, stipulating, however, that any of the inhabitants who desired to leave should be compensated for their property. The Parguinotes decided on moving as a body to the Ionian Islands; but their claim to compensation for their property, which they estimated as worth 300,000l., was gradually cut down to one half that sum. A case of this character—the surrender of a people to a despotic government—was abhorrent to Lord John's whole nature. He protested in 1819 against the cession of the Parguinotes; he drew formal attention to their case in 1820, severely condemning both the policy of the Government and the conduct of Sir T. Maitland, the Governor of the Ionian Islands, who was charged with its execution; and he contributed, through Ugo Foscolo, out of his own purse to the necessities of the Parguinotes. Lord John had made Ugo Foscolo's acquaintance some years before, and Ugo Foscolo had introduced him to a friend at Geneva as ‘doué d'une âme noble, et d'un esprit distingué, mais surtout il a une aimabilité que l’on trouve rarement parmises concitoyens. Il vous sera cher aussi pourses opinions, car il a €té dans le Parlement l'un des désenseurs de la liberté des homnies.”