Sivut kuvina
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

disliked the moderate measures of Reform which Lord Rus-
sell had pressed on them in 1852, in 1854, in 1860, and in
1866, must have reflected that their conduct in those years
had paved the way for a measure which, for good or evil, had
laid the foundations of that democracy whose upper stories
were completed in 1885, and which is still awaiting its coronal.
It is not necessary, however, to relate in detail the well-known
history of a remarkable measure. It is sufficient to say that
the securities on which the Government relied were, one
after another, abandoned ; and that the Bill in its final shape
extended the suffrage to all householders in boroughs. Reform,
for which Lord Russell had worked so long, had come at last
in a more comprehensive shape than he had contemplated.
Encouraged by the passage of a democratic measure, and
startled by the fact that Ireland, agitated by fresh rebellion,
was subjected to fresh coercion, Lord Russell decided on
again drawing attention to the chief grievance of the Irish
people, and on moving for a commission to inquire into the
management of the revenues of the Irish Church. But, be-
fore the motion came on, he extended its terms, and asked
that the committee should be instructed to inquire into the
amount of the revenues of the Church with a view to their
more productive management, and to their more equitable
application for the benefit of the Irish people. Writing privately
to him on the 16th of June, Lord Derby deprecated the addition
to the motion, which he rightly declared was equivalent to the
old Appropriation Clause. But it was, of course, precisely be-
cause Lord Russell adhered to his old opinion of the value of
an Appropriation Clause that he had inserted, and now adhered
to, his words. The House of Lords had thus an opportunity
afforded to it—while it was actually nearing the precipice
which it could not see—of preserving a Church by sacrificing
a portion of its revenues. And they again refused, by a
triumphant majority, the suggested compromise. They failed
to see that only two years later they would in consequence
have to accept a far more drastic remedy.
The session had other interests for Lord Russell than the
passage of a Reform Bill or the defeat of an Appropriation
Clause. In the beginning of it he had the satisfaction of


seeing his eldest son commence his Parliamentary career; and a weck before it concluded he had the still greater pleasure of giving his eldest daughter to Mr. Archibald Peel, the nephew of the Minister and the third son of Lord John's friend, neighbour, and political opponent, General Peel. The marriage was fixed for the 15th of August, in order that Lord and Lady Amberley—who were on the eve of setting out for America—might be present at it. They sailed from England on the following day, leaving their eldest son—a baby just two years old—in its grandparents' charge at Pembroke Lodge. In the following month the child was transferred to its other grandparents ; and Lord Russell, with his wife and youngest daughter, set out for Ireland. They slept on the 7th at Penmaenmawr, where they were joined by their youngest son, and on the 9th crossed from Holyhead to Kingstown. They stayed in Ireland for the best part of a month, visiting Killarney in the South, and their own property at Ardsalla in the North. From the moment of his landing to the moment of his departure Lord Russell was almost everywhere received with the gratitude which the Irish can show to their benefactors. At Belfast alone the author of the new Appropriation Clause received a threatening letter; and the authorities thought it necessary to place him under police protection. But as he was in the company of the Viceroy, the Duke of Abercorn—who was his brother-in-law—even his wife felt that the risk was small: and the pleasure of their tour was not destroyed by this untoward incident. On the 9th of October the party turned their backs on Belfast, crossed to Stranraer, and, after stopping at Newton Stewart, at Carlisle, and with the Duke and Duchess of Cleveland at Raby, picked up their little grandson at Alderley, and, on the 14th of October, reached Pembroke Lodge. News was at this time arriving of the fresh, and as it proved unsuccessful, attempt which General Garibaldi was meditating on Rome; and Lord Russell amused himself by teaching the child to say ‘Viva Garibaldi.’ Lord Russell, however, had other and more important work before him than teaching his grandson a popular Italian cry. The decision at which the Ministers arrived, to send an expedition to Abyssinia, necessitated the summoning of Parliament in November; and Lord Russell a short fortnight afterwards proposed a series of resolutions which affirmed the necessity of improving the education of the lower, middle, and upper classes. Nothing came of the proposition. Lord Russell's elaborate statement was answered by the Duke of Marlborough, and the Peers went home to dinner. Yet, if the motion did nothing else, it served to mark Lord Russell's position in the van of another great movement, in which he was also destined to witness, before three years were over, such success as he could hardly have ventured on anticipating in 1867. Lord Russell, however, had already made up his mind that, whether the future were pregnant with triumph or reverse, the time had come for laying down the helm which he had held so long. His age already exceeded by nearly two years that which Lord Palmerston had attained when he had formed his last Administration ; and, though age had brought Lord Russell the health which he had rarely enjoyed in youth, he had reached a time when few men are capable of exhausting labour. At Christmas he communicated to Mr. Gladstone his decision to abstain from taking office; who replied—

Hawarden : December 26, 1867.

My dear Lord Russell,—. . . And now as to the intention you have formed. My political relations with you began late in life. I moved to you, not you to me; and ever since we have been in contact, that is to say during the last fifteen years, my co-operation with you has been associated all along with feelings of warm attachment and regard. Every incident that moves me farther from your side is painful to me. Nor am I sanguine as to what is to take place in the Liberal party when your decision is known. . . .

Your title, however, to repose cannot be questioned. I have often pointed [? out] to those who (justly) made much of Lord Palmerston's prolonged activity that your real and responsible political life began earlier as it has also continued later. Sir Robert Peel, in July 1846, thought he had earned his dismissal at an age (58) which if spared I shall touch in three days' time. Your fame is not a question of today's or to-morrow's popularity, but of the future at large. If you do not stand without a rival, I, for one, undoubtedly know not where to look for your superior in the annals of British legislation. None of those we see, perhaps none of those we remember, will take so high a place. So long as you have been ready to lead, I have been ready and glad to follow. But there are laws we must all acknowledge, and I cannot ask you to persist against them. I earnestly hope that the Almighty will crown with the continued possession of every blessing the years He may allot you. I am relieved to think that the conclusion you seem to have reached involves no visible severance ; and I trust the remainder of my own political life, which I neither expect nor desire to be very long, may be passed in efforts which may have your countenance and approval.-Sincerely yours, W. E. GLADSTONE.

Having communicated his resolution to Mr. Gladstone, Lord Russell thus told it to the man who was already marked out as his successor in the Lords:—

Pembroke Lodge : January 2, 1868.

My dear Granville,_On a deliberate view of my past labours, my present age, and the future anxieties of the State, I have made up my mind not again to take office, if it is now offered to me.

I have communicated this decision to Gladstone, who acquiesces in the most friendly manner.

I have only further to say that I shall be glad, while Derby is the head of the Ministry, to help the party in any way that can be most useful.-Yours affectionately, RUSSELL.

P.S.—This last sentence seems ambiguous. What I mean is, that if a new Government is formed, my assistance, though always willing, would hardly be required.

Lord Granville answered—
16 Bruton Street, London, W.

My dear Lord Russell,—Your letter took me by surprise. There is no one in England who has so clear a right to rest as you if you wish for it or think it necessary for your health. There seems, however, no chance at present of a change of Government, and it is impossible to say what may be the state of the country and of parties when this Administration comes to an end.

All younger politicians must envy you, who, through storm and sunshine, have built up a great political reputation. But that fact imposes on you great responsibility. I am glad to learn that, in any case, you do not intend to make any change in your present position. —Yours affectionately and gratefully, GRANvil LE.

If, however, Lord Russell had made up his mind that more than half a century of Parliamentary service had entitled him to exemption from the labours of office, he was in no mood to lay down his armour while the battle of civil and religious liberty was still undecided. While, in fact, he was writing to Mr. Gladstone and Lord Granville, he was composing the first of the three pamphlets on Ireland which, under the title of “A Letter to the Right Honourable Chichester Fortescue, M.P.,’ was immediately published. In it, after considering the historical and political aspect of the Irish problem, he frankly discarded his own original proposal. I believe the Appropriation Clause would, if adopted at the time, have given satisfaction to the Irish people, and have afforded a breathing time for the consideration of later and larger measures. But this proposal was rejected by Parliament, and I am the first to say that what would have been healing in 1835 would be futile in 1868.

Lord Russell went on to argue that the time had come for establishing religious equality by the disestablishment of the Church, by the appropriation of three-fourths of its revenue to the endowment of the Church of Rome, and by the division of the remaining fourth between the Protestant Episcopal and the Presbyterian Churches. Lord Russell, when he published this pamphlet in February, could hardly have foreseen the triumph that was approaching. Yet within six weeks of its publication Mr. Gladstone brought forward the motion which sounded the knell of the Tory Government, and of the Established Church in Ireland. Two weeks later still Lord Russell was himself presiding at an enthusiastic meeting at St. James's Hall, summoned to support Mr. Gladstone's policy; while immediately afterwards, under the guise of a second letter to Mr. Fortescue, he published a second pamphlet on the Irish question. The year, as it ebbed away, brought many changes to the Russell family. In May Lord Russell went down to The Grove to be present at the wedding of his nephew Odo (the late Lord Ampthill) with Lady Emily Villiers. In June Lady Georgiana Peel, who came to Pembroke Lodge for the event, presented her husband with their first child. In July Lord Dunfermline's death, to Lady Palmerston's intense regret, prevented Lord Russell from fulfilling the task VOL. II. F F

« EdellinenJatka »