Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

their benefit, and I trust that we may be the instruments of improving and civilising those portions of the world in which they are situated. . . . I anticipate, indeed, with others that some of the colonies may so grow in population and wealth that they may say ‘Our strength is sufficient to enable us to be independent of England. The link is now become onerous to us : the time is come when we think we can, in amity and alliance with England, maintain our independence.' I do not think that that time is yet approaching. But let us make them as far as possible fit to govern themselves ; let us give them, as far as we can, the capacity of ruling their own affairs ; let them increase in wealth and population ; and, whatever may happen, we of this great empire shall have the consolation of saying that we have contributed to the happiness of the world."

The details of Lord John's colonial administration, however, form part of the history of the British Empire, and cannot be included in a personal biography. At the close of the session Lord John went down with his children and step-children to Buckhurst, on the borders of Windsor Forest, where he remained in a house which he had hired for the rest of the autumn. While he was at Buckhurst, almost on the anniversary of his wife's death, he learned the distressing news that his father had been seized in Scotland with a fit of apoplexy and was lying in a state which made his recovery hopeless. A few days later still he received intelligence of his father's death. In one sense there was some mercy even in the stroke. Years had passed since the Duke had suffered his first seizure. His family had received ample warning of the probable end. As Lord Holland wrote to Lord John—

In reason one should feel thankful that what was so probable and so long foreseen should have been so long and so happily postponed by skill, kindness, and attention

Lord John remained at Buckhurst till November. In that month he took children and step-children to the sea at Bourne, where he left them in his sister-in-law, Miss Lister's, charge, and himself returned to his duties in London. In December he was persuaded by Lord Lansdowne to come with his eldest step-child and his eldest daughter and spend his Christmas

* Speech on Colonial Policy, 1850, pp. 17 and 54.

at Bowood ; and it was during this visit that he took the children over with him to Sloperton to see his old and attached friend Mr. Moore, who wrote in his diary—

Nothing can be more touching than to see him with these children, and he has them always with him.

On the occasions when the children were necessarily separated from him, he was constantly writing to them ; and, though his own letters have probably long since perished, their letters from country and seaside have been preserved with a care which was not always paid to more important correspondence.

Lord John returned to Buckhurst at the end of December. Only a fortnight of his holiday was still left to him, for Parliament was summoned to meet at an unusually early date to consider the arrangements necessary on the Queen's marriage with Prince Albert. At the opening of the session Sir John Yarde Buller moved a vote of want of confidence in the Administration ; and, in speaking on the motion, Sir James Graham charged Lord John with having encouraged Chartism by declaring at the Liverpool dinner in October 1838 that public meetings were not only lawful but commendable ; and by appointing Mr. Frost (who had led the unfortunate attack on the Westgate Hotel at Newport) a magistrate of Monmouth, and Mr. Muntz, who held advanced political opinions, a magistrate in Birmingham.' Lord John had a complete and satisfactory answer to both charges —

When the name of Mr. Frost was proposed for the magistracy, immediate reference was made to the Lord Lieutenant of the county, who returned for answer that he considered Mr. Frost to be a fit and proper person to be so appointed. . . . The right hon. gentleman, in his very acrimonious speech, complained also that a gentleman of the name of Muntz has been placed on the commission of the peace. . . . I have heard but one opinion of Mr. Muntz, which is, that that gentleman has well, ably, unflinchingly, and impartially discharged his duties as a magistrate.

As for his speech at Liverpool, no reporters had been present at the dinner; and the gentleman who had furnished the newspapers with a report from memory had made Lord John say that it was inadvisable to interfere with public meetings; but had omitted to add that Lord John had qualified ‘his statement with the words, “so long as there shall be no infraction of the law.” '' Thus the personal charge against the Minister hopelessly failed. The majority was indisposed to sanction the case against the Administration. When Lord John sat down at half-past four o'clock in the morning the House divided ; and the Government found itself in a majority of 308 votes to 287.4 This division strengthened the position of the Government: and though, before the House separated for Easter, Ministers had to face a more formidable motion of Sir James Graham censuring their Chinese policy, they were able to win a second victory.” A few days afterwards Parliament adjourned for a fortnight, and Lord John joined the children at Buckhurst. He left them at the close of his holiday, on April 28, to take his seat in the House on the 29th. On that day The supported by his vote a measure introduced by Sir E. Wilmot for the more rational treatment of juvenile offenders. 13ut his thoughts were probably busy with purer and happier children than those for whom Sir E. Wilmot was pleading. For the morning on which he had left Buckhurst was the young Lord Ribblesdale's birthday, and the day was therefore a red-letter day in the Russell-Lister calendar. So the children had had tea and dessert and lemonade in the garden before the great red screen, which was ornamented with branches of fruit and flowers; and the gardener had made a beautiful crown of flowers and leaves, just like a Jack-in-thegreen ; and the children had drunk Lord John's health and Tommy's health, and the Queen's and Prince Albert's health; and the servants had come out, and Charles with his fiddle,

* The charge was stale. It had been first brought by Sir Robert Peel in the debate on the Address in 1839.

Hansard, li. IoS8.

* Mr. Greville says that Lord John, considering he rose at three in the morning, when he and the House must have been pretty well exhausted, made a very good and honourable speech (2nd series, i. 264).

• By 271 votes to 262.

and they had danced country dances and reels of all kinds on the lawn ; and little Ta had crawled about everywhere, and when she was asked where her father was, had shaken her little head and said “All done.’"

The session of 1840 is not remarkable for any great legislation, though a long controversy was at length terminated by the passage of a measure of Municipal Reform for Ireland. Much of the time of Parliament was occupied by the long and dull debates on privilege, throughout which Sir Robert Peel fought on the side of Lord John, and in doing so offended his own followers, and decreased his own chances of office by creating differences among his supporters. These circumstances all tended to strengthen the position of the Government. But the Whigs owed more throughout the session of 1840 to the conduct of their leader than to the divisions of their opponents.

At the end of the session Sir Robert Inglis said to one of the Government people, ‘Well, you have managed to get through the session very successfully.’ ‘Yes,’ said the other, ‘thanks to your dissensions among yourselves.’ ‘No,' said Sir Robert, “it is not that, but it is the conduct of your leader, his honesty, courage, and ability, which has enabled you to do so.” Ley, the Clerk of the House of Commons, and a man of great experience, said he had never seen the business so well conducted as by John Russell.”

Yet, if in domestic matters the position of the Ministry was improved, there was ample room for apprehension abroad. In the East, the Opium War was beginning; and a British army, doomed unfortunately to disaster, was encamped at Cabul; in America, a dispute on the boundary line between the United States and the British possessions was being conducted with increasing bitterness; while in Europe a quadruple alliance had isolated France, and was creating apprehensions of war. But Lord John was too happy at the prospects of release from Parliament to feel much uneasineSS. * I have taken these extracts from a letter of Miss Lister's (Mrs. Maurice Drummond). Tommy was Lord Ribblesdale. Little Ta grew up to be Lady

Victoria Villiers.
* Greville, 2nd series, i. 293.

On the 1st of August, the Prime Minister received from

him some—
BELLMAN RHYMES

On the state of the times,
Which are, heaven knows,
Two serious for prose.

The Chinese at Canton
Prodigiously rant on :
There may be some use in
Our capturing Schusan :
But, while we are wreaking
Our vengeance at Pekin,
We're sadly at sea
For Souchong and Bohea.
Our prospects in Turkey
Are lowering and murky :
The Frenchmen will task us
With thoughts of Damascus.

And so on for forty or fifty lines. The session closed on August I I ; and Lord John sent the four younger children to Ramsgate. The two elder children, with their aunt, Miss Lister, he took with him on a much longer journey. His colleague Lord Minto, at whose house at Putney he had been a constant visitor during the year, persuaded him to pay him a visit at Minto after the close of the session. He went down to the North about the middle of August; and, after visiting Lord Morpeth at Naworth, and the Duchess of Buccleuch at Drumlanrig, arrived at Minto towards the end of the month." Lord John was not able to protract his stay at Minto beyond the 1st of September. Miss Lister and the children, however, remained behind, and when Lord John left he was

| Sir James Graham wrote to him from Netherby on the 23rd : “I returned home from the moors yesterday evening, and I have heard by chance this afternoon that you pass through Longtown to-morrow. I cannot resist the natural impulse of asking you to come here. . . . You will find no one excepting Stanley, and he goes on Tuesday morning : and we will to-morrow evening either settle the French war and the fate of Mehemet Ali, or talk only of the olden time, exactly as you like best.”

« EdellinenJatka »