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at John Russell's defeat.' With these opinions, the King not merely used his influence to oppose the policy of his Ministers. He treated them, for many months after they first took office, both in public and private, with a discourtesy which is hardly credible. He declined to give any dinnerparties because he could not do so without inviting them, and he declared that he would rather see the devil than any one of them in his house." His language towards them in the Council Chamber was occasionally, to use the Prime Minister's words, “outrageous;" and, though his letters were usually written by Sir Herbert Taylor, and couched in the courteous language which characterised all Sir Herbert's productions, he occasionally scrawled some hurried note with his own pen, in which he made no attempt to conceal his feelings.”
1 Greville Memoirs, iii. 265.
* Mr. Greville has recorded the violent language which the King used to Sir C. Grey on July 1, 1835, at a council at which he was present (Memoirs, vol. iii. 272, and cf. p. 276). Lord Melbourne wrote to Lord John on July 5: ‘The affair of last Wednesday at the Privy Council begins to assume a serious and awkward aspect. After the Cabinet yesterday Glenelg came and showed me a letter from Taylor, declaring upon the part of the King that he did allude to Glenelg. . . . We can therefore no longer conceal from ourselves what we know to be the truth, and the question is whether such outrageous conduct can be passed over without further observation. . . . Censuring a Minister before others for confidential advice given a month ago; condemning the Secretary of State to the individual who is about to act under the Secretary of State's orders; giving verbal instructions for which no one is responsible, and which may conflict with those for which the Secretary of State is responsible-form altogether a mass of muddle and impropriety such as never, probably, was equalled before.” The Cabinet drew up a minute of remonstrance, which it was decided that Lord Melbourne should lay before the King. Lord Melbourne wrote to Lord John : ‘I stated to the King all that was in the minute which we had prepared. He heard me with great patience and attention, and then said that he had been so angry with Glenelg for what he had said to him about Canada, and that it had rested so much upon his mind, that he could not restrain himself; but that he admitted the full force of all my observations, and felt that he had said more than he ought to have said. I could, of course, push it no further.” A week aster this incident Lord John himself received his first holograph letter from his Majesty. It ran as follows (the “individual” referred to in it was Major Stanhope, son-in-law to the Duke of Leinster, whom Lord Mulgrave had selected to succeed Sir C. Vernon as Usher of the Black Rod in the order of St. Patrick. The italics are the King's): “The King yesterday received from Ulster King of Arms a Requisition to swearin, at the Chapter of the Order of St. Patrick, an Individual as Usher of the Black Rod. H. M., never having heard from the Home Secretary of State of such an
But the King's dislike gradually wore away. His correspondence-with Lord John in 1835 commences with frequent intimations of his disapproval; as the autumn advanced it contains constant expressions of concurrence and satisfaction; till at last the monarch, who was naturally the most hospitable of men, ceased to be inhospitable; and on the 15th of November ordered Sir Herbert Taylor to tell Lord John that he expected that those of his Ministers who attended his Council would “do him the pleasure of dining with him.’ - - - -
*fhe King's hostility to the new Government was only one of the difficulties which Ministers had to encounter. In the House of Lords they had to face a majority led by Lord Lyndhurst, who did not scruple to mutilate their measures and to embarrass their movements. The attitude of the Lords was hardly compensated by the confidence of the Commons. The debates and the divisions which had preceded the fall of Sir Robert Peel had sufficiently shown that the Liberal superiority could only be maintained by the continuance of the alliance between Whigs, Radicals, and Irish ; and these three parties, if they were equally opposed to Sir Robert Peel, had few other ideas in common with one another. The majority, moreover, which Lord John commanded, and which had not been too large in the first instance, was reduced at the outset by his own defeat in Devonshire, and by Conservative victories in two other important counties; while, with the exception of himself, the Treasury Bench opposed to Sir Robert Peel, and soon afterwards to Lord Stanley and Sir James Graham, had not a single debater of weight and experience. Such was the condition of affairs when, towards the end of May 1835, Lord John resumed his seat in the House of Commons. The policy of the Government which he represented had practically been determined by the debates which had led to the overthrow of the Conservative Administration. The Liberals had expressed their regret that Reform had been interrupted by the unnecessary dissolution of Parliament, and they had defined Reform to mean the Reform of Municipal Corporations; the removal of the chief grievances of which the Dissenters complained by the alteration of the Marriage Laws, the opening of the Universities, and the abolition of Church Rates; the settlement of a great agricultural grievance by the commutation of tithes; and above all the adoption of a just policy towards Ireland. Men there were, eager on all these subjects, ready to urge them forward at all hazard. But Lord John declined to imitate the example of his great rival or to risk the success of one measure by occupying the time of Parliament with other Bills. In reply to an appeal to him to deal at once with the question of church rates, he said on May 25– wo
appointment, commands Lord John Russell to write without loss of time to inquire into the conduct of the Earl of Mulgrave in thus passing over the previous sanction of the Sovereign, and neglecting his duty to the King.” Poor Sir Herbert Taylor, the most courteous of men, ordered to despatch this abrupt communication to the Minister, enclosed it in a note in which he endeavoured to remove the impression which his master's letter was calculated to make. Lord Mulgrave sent a full explanation of his conduct through Lord John. But the King was not satisfied, and complained publicly at the levee that Major Stanhope's appointment was the most outrageous insult ever offered to a monarch. The King's little speech found its way into the papers; and Lord Mulgrave, on July 28, wrote to Lord John to know whether it was true, and if so, what he should do. He was with difficulty persuaded by Lord Melbourne and Lord John to do nothing, on the ground that he only fared like his fellows. About the same time (July 26) Lord John received the following letter from the King on the subject of a proposed reduction of the militia staff, on which the Ministry had resolved : “The King has, of course, received Lord John Russell's communication respecting the intended reduction of the staff of the militia, on which his Majesty conceives it to be his bounden duty to state his entire disapprobation of the measure, as Jighly dangerous to the Crown and the interests of the empire at large.” The King ultimately gave way, but he gave way on conditions which he thought proper publicly to announce in his Council Chamber in a speech, which was duly entered by the Clerk of the Council in his diary.—Greville J/emoirs, iii. 311.
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If he had gained anything by the experience of the last three years, in which he had been a member of the Government, it was a knowledge of the impropriety of undertaking too much at one time. . . . Therefore, ready, as he felt, to consider any questions that had been brought before the House by the late Government, willing as he was to pay attention to measures proposed by individual members, he would not undertake on the part of the Government to go further than those two measures of Municipal Reform in England and Wales, and the regulation of tithes in Ireland."
* Hansard, xxviii. 63, 64.
In strict accordance with this cautious policy, Lord John himself introduced the Corporation Bill. The ground for this measure, which is still FéCollected as second only in importance to the Reform Act, had been prepared by a commission, appointed by the Government of Lord Grey, whose elaborate reports were only presented in the spring of 1835. It is impossible to give a detailed account of the abuses which the Corporation Bill remedied. It is sufficient to say that the government of the great towns of England was in the hands of a small, and in many cases dwindling, body of freemen, who were usually self-elected, and who frequently applied to their own uses both the property and privileges of the boroughs. It was the object of Lord John's Bill, which applied to 183 boroughs containing an aggregate population of 2,000,000 persons, to abolish all exclusive privileges, and to transfer the government from oligarchies to the people. The conduct of this Bill, which, as it was ultimately passed, contained upwards of 140 clauses, devolved almost entirely on Lord John. With occasional assistance from the Attorney-General, the whole burden of debate fell on his shoulders. No leader could have shown himself more competent to steer a difficult and complicated measure through the House of Commons. Supported firmly by his party, he was able to carry the Bill through all its stages without material amendment: and, in the few cases in which important divisions took place, to defeat Sir Robert Peel by larger majorities than those which had destroyed the Conservative Administration. The chief difficulties of the Government, however, did not lie in the House in which they could reckon on a majority. The Bill had still to pass through another ordeal ; and it was certain that the attitude of the Lords was not likely to be friendly to a measure which it was no secret was disliked by the King. William IV. took no pains to conceal his disapproval of the Bill; and, in acknowledging Lord John's customary account of the debate on July 2," wrote— It was on this night that Mr. O'Connell made a pointed attack on Lord Stanley, who on the previous evening had, in company with Sir James Graham, *-- - R 2
Although his Majesty would in general rejoice at the progress of any essential measure through the House, it is impossible for him, without unworthily disguising his feelings, to avoid expressing his regret that some of the amendments proposed have met with so little attention from the House, especially as several were in his Majesty's opinion judicious and necessary, and in full accordance with the sentiments he had expressed to Viscount Melbourne. . . .
William IV. was not in the habit of concealing his opinions under a bushel. His views, which were probably known to Conservative statesmen, encouraged the Lords to introduce radical alterations into the measure." Their effect may perhaps be gathered from the boast of Lord Ellenborough that the Corporation Bill had been converted into a full, consistent, and constitutional Conservative Reform. The anger which the conduct of the Lords created in the country arrested the tide of Conservative reaction which had previously been in progress. Even a moderate man like the present Lord Grey talked of ‘the Lords being swept away like chaff.” The reconstructed Bill was returned to the Lower House of Parliament on Friday, August 28. On the following Monday Lord John assembled his own friends at the Foreign Office, and explained to them the manner in which he proposed to deal with the Lords' amendments. On the evening of that day he repeated his decision in the House of Commons. He had never given stronger proof of his capacity as leader.
crossed the House and taken his seat for the first time on the Conservative benches, which he never afterwards left. Lord Stanley resented the attack with the warmth of a Hotspur; and Lord John wound up the discussion in a felicitous speech, which goes far to explain the terms of mutual affection which Lord Stanley and he maintained till the very end : ‘It had given him great pain, as his noble friend well knew, that the difference of opinion had taken place between them which occurred last year. . . . His noble friend had stated that his opinions were not changed by his change of place. . . . No part in politics which his noble friend might take would ever induce him to believe that he acted from any other motive than his own sense of honour.”—Hansard, xxix. 203.
"These amendments inter alia introduced aldermen, elected for life, into every corporation; directed the election of common councillors from the ranks of the largest ratepayers; preserved the political and commercial privileges of Churchmen; confined the management of Church property to those members of the council who were members of the Church of England ; and made town clerks irremovable during good behaviour.
* Greville, iii. 290,
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