Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

A little later Lord Odo Russell sent his uncle the following copy of a letter from Prince Bismarck:— Berlin: February 24, 1874. My dear Lord, I return with many thanks the letter of Earl Russell, bearing the memorable date of the 27th of January, and need hardly say how much I am gratified by the active interest the Nestor of European statesmen is taking in our defensive warfare against the priesthood of Rome. I quite agree with the idea which seems to underlie his letter : that in clerical government there is always a seed of international conflicts, and that a great deal less of that seed will be thrown out, if England and Germany are agreed to stand up for religious liberty. I shall thank you for remembering me kindly to Earl Russell and telling him that time never has impaired with me the impression of our personal acquaintance made in 1862, in his Lordship's seat in Richmond Park.--Believe me, my dear Lord, yours sincerely, V. BISMARCK. His Excellency Lord Odo Russell. The year in which Lord Russell was thus displaying his old enthusiasm for religious liberty, or, as some persons would prefer to say, his old zeal against the Church of Rome, opened very happily on Pembroke Lodge; and Lady Russell commenced her new journal by recording her deep sense of thankfulness and hope. Yet the first day of 1874 was the last New Year's Day on which she could ever have written such a sentiment; and those who have followed Lord Russell's career up to this point, and who are acquainted with the many sorrows which were to fall on him during the few years in which he was still to live, will recall the memorable saying of Solon to Croesus, ‘Call no man happy before he dies.” In April 1874 Lady Russell's elder sister, Lady Dunfermline, the Lady Mary Abercromby of a former page, died at Rome. In May Lord and Lady Amberley, who had passed the winter with their eldest son in Italy, arrived in Chesham Place, the boy ill with diphtheria. Leaving their son behind them, they picked up the two younger children at Pembroke Lodge and carried them to Ravenscroft, their country home. But they had not long reached their own house when their daughter sickened of the same complaint. Lady Amberley nursed her child through the illness, contracted the infection, and died at the end VOL. II. G G

of June. Five days later she was joined in death by her child.

On the day of his daughter's death, Lord Amberley sent his younger son to Pembroke Lodge, which has since been his home; and a short time later, Lord and Lady Russell moved with their own family and their little grandchild to Aldworth, which was placed at their disposal by Mr. Tennyson. There Lord Russell occupied himself with the concluding pages of ‘Recollections and Suggestions,’ appropriately ending the book with a quotation from the great poet in whose house he was residing. And his work, and the favour with which it was received, helped to divert his thoughts from the loss which he had sustained, and from the anxiety which the illness, the irremediable illness as it proved, of another of his children, was concurrently occasioning him. And thus, with a cloud of sorrow settling down on his household, Lord Russell concluded his eighty-second and entered his eighty-third year. During 1875 he spoke on one or two occasions in the House of Lords ; and, in the autumn, threw himself with ardour into the cause of the insurgents who were rising against Turkey in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Lady Russell thinks that her husband showed all his old courage and vigour in the promptness with which he attacked, and the skill with which he defended, the cause of liberty in Eastern Europe.' A more independent testimony of the value of his services reached him from Caprera.

Caprera : Septembre 17, 1875.

Mon illustre ami,_Fr associant votre grand nom aux bienfaiteurs des Chrétiens opprimés par le Gouvernement Turc, vous avez ajouté un bien précieux bijou a la couronne humanitaire qui ceint votre noble front.

En 1860, votre parole sublime sonna en saveur des Rayahs Italiens, et l'Italie n'est plus une expression geographique. Aujourd'hui vous plaidez la cause des Rayahs Turcs, plus malheureux encore. C'est une cause qui vaincra comme la première, et Dieu benira vos vieux ans.

Lord Russell had, for some years, become weary of Turkish misrule. Writing to Lady William Russell in 1874, he said, ‘I cannot stand the Turk any longer. It is fit he should keep the Dardanelles. But from Adrianople to Belgrade all government should be in the hands of Christians. . . . I tried myself, with Pal

merston's aid and sanction, to improve the Turks. They are unimprovable, and I give them up, but for the benefit of Europe and not for the monopoly of Russia."

Je me chargerai de ce que vous voudrez. Je baise la main à votre précieuse épouse, et suis pour la vie votre dévoué G. GARIBALDI.

A Lord John Russell, Londres.

General Garibaldi's praise was not undeserved. Lord Russell had been the first prominent man in England to realise the great issues which were inseparably connected with the insurrection ; and, throughout 1876, he watched with never-failing interest and horror the progress of the movement and the atrocities with which it was met. Yet his own declining health made it impossible for him to emerge from his retirement and take part in the fray. For, if the sorrows of 1874 had left a deep mark on his frame, the events of 1876 were still further to try him. At the beginning of the year, his eldest son, whose opening promise he had watched with such satisfaction, died at Ravenscroft, the home in Wales where his wife and his daughter had been taken from him two years before. In August his step-son, Lord Ribblesdale, died abroad ; while Lord Russell himself, after his son's death, was seized with illness which kept him two months in his room, and from which he never thoroughly recovered. He was, indeed, well enough in 1877 to receive a party of 600 working men, their wives and their children, at Pembroke Lodge, and to spend three months in the summer in the invigorating air of the Isle of Thanet. But the end was coming very near. Early in 1878 Lord Russell had a feverish attack, which lasted several days, and further weakened his debilitated frame. In the middle of March he was again attacked by illness, and was never afterwards allowed to leave his bedroom. On Good Friday, April 19, his wife wrote—

I have just been sitting with my dearest husband. He has said precious words such as I did not expect ever to hear from him, for his mind is seldom, very seldom, clear, and I put them down at once as well as I can.

We were holding one another's hands. “I hope I haven't given you much trouble.” “How, dearest ?’ ‘In watching over me.’ Then by-and-by he said, ‘I have made mistakes, but in all I did my object was the public good.” Again, ‘I have sometimes seemed cold to my

friends, but it was not in my heart.” He said he had enjoyed his

t

life . . . At another moment he said, ‘I am quite ready to go now.’ He so often talked of travelling that I thought he might be planning a journey, although he looked different from usual—grown more like himself—and asked him where to ? ‘To my grave, to my death.’

The following day Mr. and Mrs. Gladstone called at Pembroke Lodge, and Lord Russell was well enough to see them for a few minutes; and, during the rest of April, he continued to maintain his strength. But on the 1st of May a change for the worse set in. Lord Russell, on the 9th, was far too ill to see even the leading members of a great deputation of Nonconformists which came to Pembroke Lodge to congratulate him on the fiftieth anniversary of his first great achievement, the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. Two days later still he became visibly worse, and, though he lingered another seventeen days, on the evening of the 28th, holding his wife's hand, he passed calmly and peacefully away. Letters and tokens of sympathy poured in on his widow from all quarters. The Queen wrote at once to cxpress her sorrow. And the Prime Minister thus conveyed to Lady Russell the feelings of the nation — Io Downing Street: May 29, 1878. Dear Madam,_The Queen and her Majesty's Ministers share the public feeling that some national mark of respect should be shown, by an admiring nation, to the illustrious departed. A public funeral in that Abbey beneath whose shadow his youth was educated, and which subsequently witnessed his great career, appears to be not an unbecoming consummation ; but her Majesty has been graciously pleased to remark that nothing should be done without the entire concurrence of yourself and your family, and with complete deference to the known wishes of him whom we have lost. I have the honour to remain, dear madam, with great considera

tion and sympathy, yours faithfully, BEACONSFIELD

The wishes which Lord Russell had expressed in his lifetime did not, however, permit his family to avail themselves of the Prime Minister's offer, and Lord Russell was buried on the Tuesday which succeeded his death in the family vault at Chenies. He lies there amidst the ancestors of the Russells, with his first wife, his son, his daughter-in-law, and their child. But, among all that long array of departed great, though the names of William Lord Russell and Rachel his wife are included in the category, there is none who rendered such services to his country, or conferred such distinction on his family, as the bold, honest, and able statesman, whose career has been imperfectly sketched in the preceding pages. Three weeks after Lord Russell's death, the Fox Club met for one of their annual dinners. Up to that time only three toasts had been allowed at the club : ‘The memory of Charles James Fox;' ‘Earl Grey and the late Reform Bill ;" ‘the memory of the late Lord Holland.’ At the meeting in June 1878 Lord Stair, who was in the chair, got up and said, ‘Since the last meeting of this club the great leader of the Whig and Liberal party has been taken away, and I believe it is the wish of the club to drink to the memory of Lord Russell.' The toast was drunk in silence, and Lord Stair again rose and said he believed it to be the desire of the club that Lord Russell's memory should be added to the toasts. Mr. Charles Fitzwilliam, who was present, then expressed a hope that he might propose a slight alteration: that all the great measures carried had been carried by Lord John Russell, the name by which all good Whigs liked to call him, and he suggested that the toast should be to the memory of Lord John Russell. This was at once agreed to. To this, the tribute of a club, it is only necessary to add one or two further extracts from hundreds of letters in the possession of the family. On the day which preceded Lord Russell's death General Garibaldi wrote— Caprera : 27 Maggio, 1878. Illustree caro Lord Russell,—Sono spaventato ancora per una

notizia Sfavorevole Sulla vostra salute. Oggi sono assai confortato, e con me Italia tutta che tanto vi deve. Vogliate darmi vostre notizie, e salutarmi caramente l'amabile vostra famiglia.--Per la vita, vostro G. GARIBALDI.

Two days after his death, Mr. Bright wrote to Lady Russell—

« EdellinenJatka »