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Princess of Germany with her sister, the late Princess Alice ; of the theatres, where Lord Russell was received with applause, and where his entrance was greeted with the English national anthem; of a dance which the Russells gave at their own villa ; and of a ball in which Lady Agatha was first introduced to society-'a little country town ball, partners of all conditions, but merrier far than most of the grander balls, to which she may go, are likely to be '-of these and other matters which occupied their time it is not necessary to speak in detail. At last, on the 7th of April, they bade adieu to the villa-servants all in tears; and all, high and low, showering blessings on us, and praying for our welfare in their lovely language.' A few days later they reached Paris, where they were lodged at the Embassy. There the Russells stayed another ten days, dining with the Emperor-Lord Russell being seated next the Empress, Lady Russell next the Emperor-breakfasting with the Mohls; and meeting at Lord Lyons' own table, and in the houses of other friends, many of the most distinguished men in France. On the 25th of April they left Paris, crossed the Channel, slept that night at the rectory at Adisham ; and on the following day, after exactly six months' absence, arrived safe and happy in dear lovely Pembroke Lodge. This or some other visit to Adisham suggested to Lord Russell the following lines :
A priest and his wife dwelt somewhere in Kent,
Before the Russells reached England, the session of 1870 had already run half its course. Its chief measure, the Irish
Land Act, had already made great progress. Mr. Gladstone wrote to Lord Russell at Paris
We have had a most anxious time in regard to the Irish Land Bill. Often do I think of a saying of yours more than thirty years back which struck me ineffaceably at the time. You said, “The true key to our Irish debates was this : that it was not properly borne in mind that as England is inhabited by Englishmen, and Scotland by Scotchmen, so Ireland is inhabited by Irishmen.'! The fear that our Land Bill may cross the waters creates a sensitive state of mind among all Tories, many Whigs, and a few Radicals.
The Irish Land Bill reached the Lords at the end of May; and on the 14th of June Lord Russell made a great speech upon it. After stating his determination to resist all the amendments which it was understood that the Duke of Richmond, on behalf of the Conservative party, intended to propose, he concluded
Happy is the sovereign who can achieve that which Elizabeth with all her power, and William III. with all his capacity, were unable to accomplish. Happy is the Minister who is able to do what Burleigh and Somers could not carry into operation; and happy is the Parliament which, instead of heaping up penalty after penalty against the Roman Catholics of Ireland, finds itself bound together in promoting the good of that country, ready to listen to all her just claims, and as I hope likely to establish peace and harmony throughout the land.2
Lord Russell took almost as much interest in the passage of the Education Act as in that of the Land Act. But, as the principles on which it was framed by Mr. Forster met his warm concurrence, he took little part in the debate upon
1 The passage to which Mr. Gladstone apparently resers will be found in Lord John's great speech of April 15, 1839. It is well worth quoting : "Sir, I know not why, if we conduct the government of England according to the wishes of the people of England, and if we conduct the government of Scotland according to the wishes of the people of Scotland, I know not why, in Ireland, the opinions and wishes of a small minority only should be consulted, and the great majority should be totally omitted in the list of the supporters of Government. I say, on the contrary, that we can have nothing firm, that we can have nothing stable, that we can have no permanent improvement, unless we act on such principles as shall carry with them the good will and the confidence of the Irish people.'
2 I have slightly abbreviated this tine passage. Lord Granville, writing on June 17, said, 'You cannot imagine the pleasure your admirable speech gave us all.'
it.? And in fact the stirring events which were agitating the Continent distracted his attention, at the close of the session, from domestic topics. War was declared by France against Germany ; ? and, with the outbreak of war, fear soon arose that the interests of this country might be affected. On the ist of August Lord Russell introduced a Bill empowering the Crown to embody the militia ; and on the 2nd he pressed the Lords to read it a second time. He only withdrew his motion on the promise of the Government to introduce a Bill of its own. His speech, however, on the second reading of the Bill derived its chief interest from his outspoken denunciation of the negotiations which, it had been just ascertained, had taken place between Prussia and France respecting Belgium.
Let me again remind your Lordships of the obligations of the most sacred kind into which we have entered to guarantee the independence and neutrality of Belgium. . . . We are bound to defend Belgium. I am told that that may lead us into danger. . . . I deny that any great danger would exist if the country manfully declared her intention to stand by her treaties and not to shrink from the performance of all her engagements. . . . 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. ... The main thing is how we can best assure Belgium, assure Europe, and assure the world that ... the great name which we have acquired by the constant observation of truth and justice will not be departed from, and that we shall be in the future what we have been in the past.
The King of the Belgians thus acknowledged this 'spiritstirring speech'3:
He moved an amendment, which was rejected, for the appointment of a Minister of Education. Mr. Forster, it may be added, was always ready to ascribe to his old leader full credit for what he had done. Writing to Lord Russell on May 23, 1872, he said
As regards universal compulsory education, I believe we shall soon complete the building. I trust your Lordship will live to see it completed; but 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.'
? Lord Clarendon died on June 27. On the 25th Lord Russell received a note from him which he endorsed, “July 1 : On the 25th I received this letter at Pembroke Lodge. Lord Clarendon died on the 27th at six o'clock in the morning.' On July i Mir. Gladstone and Lord Granville both confidentially communicated to Lord Russell that Lord Granville was to be Lord Clarendon's successor.
3 The expression is taken from Lady Russell's diary.
Bruxelles : le I4 Août, 187o. Mon cher Lord Russell,—Les paroles généreuses que vous avez prononcées sur la Belgique au sein du Parlement d'Angleterre ont été droit au cœur de tous les Belges et au mien : et je ne suis que l'organe de tous mes compatriotes en venant vous offrir ici l'expression de notre vive reconnaissance . . .. pour le ferme appui que vous nous avez prêté dans ce moment plein de péril pour nous. Il appartenait au vaillant champion des idées libérales en Angleterre de protéger de son talent et de sa grande autorité le petit pays qui s'honore de pratiquer le mieux les traditions constitutionnelles sur le continent. En le faisant, cher Lord Russell, vous avez rendu un service signal à la plus juste des causes, et je ne saurais vous dire assez le sentiment de gratitude que nous en avons conçu en Belgique. Il y a longtemps du reste que nous étions habitués à compter sur vous. Les Belges n'oublient pas que toujours vous avez été pour eux un ami sincère : et je n'oublierai jamais toutes les marques de sympathie que vous nous avez données à mon regretté père et à moi. Croyez toujours, cher Lord Russell, aux sentiments de sincère
Lord Russell throughout the autumn watched with painful and increasing interest the terrible struggle between France and Germany. His sympathies were strongly roused in favour of the Germans, and after Sedan he communicated to Count Bernstorff, who forwarded them to the King of Prussia, his warm congratulations, on the victory. There is still among his papers a copy of the reply in which Count Bismarck, by the King's command, directed Count Bernstorff to communicate to him his Majesty's thanks for his outspoken language. But, as the autumn wore on, circumstances of more immediate interest than even the progress of the war aroused Lord Russell's attention. In November Russia, taking advantage of the crisis, abruptly declared her intention of tearing up the article in the Treaty of 1856 which limited her naval force in the Black Sea. Lord Russell, if he had been so inclined, might have seized the opportunity of showing the worthlessness of the provision, which he had himself proposed to surrender for a different arrangement in 1855. He saw nothing, however, but the danger to England : and
adopted the expedient, customary to his fellow-countrymen but new to himself, of writing to the Times' on the defence of the country.
However much Lord Russell may have disliked the conduct of Russia at this particular conjuncture, he was ready to bear his emphatic testimony to the policy of Lord Granville. In that · Review of the Foreign Policy of England,' which has already been noticed, and which was printed in 1871, he declared that throughout the Franco-German War Lord Granville 'had preserved the even tenour of his way :' and, repeating the phrase which he had used at Blairgowrie, he declared afterwards that he had raised his reputation by the maintenance of peace with dignity and honour. On another point, however, he did not equally approve the policy which the Foreign Minister was pursuing. In 1871 Lord Granville concluded the treaty with the United States under which it was determined to refer the Alabama claims to arbitration : and this was not the only occasion during the session of 1871 in which Lord Russell found himself in sharp conflict with Mr. Gladstone's Government. He showed his consistency by forming one of the majority by which the Ballot Act was defeated for the last time. He warmly opposed the measure for the Abolition of Purchase in the army, entering, for the first time in his life, into familiar correspondence with the leader of the Opposition for the purpose of making his opposition more effective ; and he warmly resented the
| In later years Lord Russell's letters to the Times were not infrequent. The most important of them was perhaps one in 1872 on the business of the House. In this letter, among other remedies for the block of Parliamentary business, Lord Russell proposed to constitute four representative Assemblies for each of the four Irish provinces, and two for the Lowlands and Highlands of Scotland. “The Imperial Parliament night still retain its hold over their legislation, and refuse, if it so chose, to give a third reading to any Bill assented to on its first and second readings and on the report by the local Assembly.' The proposal was condemned, at the time, as crude and hasty ; and no doubt it was not thoroughly elaborated by the writer. Yet possibly a good many people who were prepared to condemn the suggestion then, may now be sorry that they did not avail themselves of this compromise also.
I shall not think it necessary to refer to Lord Russell's later letters to the Times. Biography, it seems to me, as I have already said, should occupy itself with the growth of a man's mind, or the achievements of its vigour, and not dwell too minutely on the minor activities of age.