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which I do not think can be maintained—that taking the general nature and effect of the plan it tends without necessity to produce a great derangement of legislative and political power to the injury of land, and the advantage of the manufacturing, commercial, and working classes. If you will consider the plan further, I think you will see— First, that like the Reform Bill it takes away power from individuals or classes who are weak and odious, and gives it to large bodies of the same class who are strong and popular. Thus Wilton, Harwich, Honiton, &c., lose their power, but it is transferred to Kent, Devonshire, Lincolnshire, &c., agricultural counties rich and populous, where the privilege once placed can be maintained. Secondly, in giving more members to Manchester and Leeds, we should not give members of the same class. The Conservative minority of these towns would for the first time have representatives. Thirdly, the proposition to give all the surrendered seats to counties would excite violent and natural opposition. The precedent of the Reform Bill is much safer, more constitutional, and would practically produce greater harmony. The object should be not to set town against county, but to blend and unite them. As to the franchise for the educated classes, I am quite ready to adopt it, in any shape in which it can be made workable. But, if the freemen are to be disfranchised, I think a large extension to householders indispensable. I am quite ready to discuss Graham's plan, or the 6/ rating, or the 7/. value in lieu of the Io/ value. I lean at present to the municipal franchise. As we shall have an opportunity of discussing the whole matter on Friday, I will say no more but that I remain yours faithfully, J. RUSSELL.
Lord Palmerston's objections to Reform were not removed by Lord John's arguments. But, at the same time, it was Soon plain to Lord Palmerston that, with the single exception of Lord Lansdowne, he had no supporter either in the committee of the Cabinet or the Cabinet itself. Early in December he communicated his objections to Lord Aberdeen. A few days afterwards he wrote a letter to Lord Lansdowne in which he stated that he could not agree to the extent of disfranchisement, the extent of enfranchisement, and the addition of the municipal franchise in boroughs to the IO/ household franchise. He added that he doubted whether the measure could pass through the two Houses, that he did not choose to be a party to a contest between them, or to be dragged through the dirt by John Russell. Though he
thought his presence in the Cabinet useful in modifying the system of foreign policy which, injuriously to the interests and dignity of the country, there was a disposition in other quarters to pursue, he could not consent to stand forward as one of the authors and supporters of John Russell's sweeping alteration. On the Ioth he forwarded a copy of this letter and Öf Lord Lansdowne's answer to the Prime Minister, who at once showed them to Sir James Graham. Sir James, on the 11th, communicated their substance to Lord John, adding—
It is clear that his [Lord Palmerston's] part is taken ; and that he hopes by raising the war cry to drown the demand for an extension
of the suffrage. This is the game which has been played before, and,
as you wisely foresee, is about to be played again. But there is a nobler and a better one quite open, and be it yours. Propose a sound, but popular, measure of Parliamentary Reform ; and, without making any undue concessions to Russia, cement the union of the four powers, maintain the integrity of Turkey, and preserve the peace of Europe. Cordial concord and co-operation between you and Lord Aberdeen may secure both objects to the great advantage of the nation and to your own immortal honour. But cordial concord is necessary; and those who agree on Reform must not quarrel on the Eastern question. You should see Lord Aberdeen as early as possible to-morrow, and I am quite sure that a perfect agreement between you is not only practicable but easy ; and present circumstances, to say nothing of the past, absolutely demand it.
Accordingly on the following day (December 12) Lord Aberdeen and Lord John met. Probably no record exists of their conversation. Yet its purport may easily be inferred, for, on the 13th, Lord Aberdeen wrote to Lord Palmerston and told him that no material alterations could be made in the Reform Bill; and on the same day he wrote to Lord John— I cannot say that my conscience is perfectly at ease in consequence of sacrifices I have made to the opinions of others : " but I am so fully aware of the necessity of removing every shade of difference that I have made every effort to meet your views. My great hope and ground of confidence is that you have assured me your solicy is a policy of
i.e. on the question of the war, not on the question of Reform,
feace. This, honestly and conscientiously carried out, excludes the possibility of any material difference.
It may be added that at the interview which thus took place, Lord Aberdeen and Lord John considered what measures on the part of Russia should constitute a cause of war, and what acts should lead to coercive measures without a declaration of war; and they determined that the passage of the Danube by a Russian army should lead to coercive measures and involve the interception by the English fleet of Russian vessels in the Black Sea. Lord John desired, though he did not insist, that this decision should be communicated to the Russian Court.
Within forty-eight hours of this important conversation two things of the highest importance happened : (1) Definite news reached England of the destruction of a Turkish fleet by a Russian squadron at Sinope; and (2) Lord Palmerston, replying to Lord Aberdeen's letter, resigned office. Lord Aberdeen, on receiving Lord Palmerston's resignation, at once asked Lord John to take the Home Office, Lord John refused, and urged that the appointment should be given to Sir George Grey. Lord Aberdeen reluctantly deferred to Lord John's wishes, and Sir George Grey, who was in Northumberland, was summoned to London. Lord Aberdeen hoped that the Cabinet had been reconstituted by this slight change. Perhaps Lord John thought so too, for he wrote to Lord Lansdowne—
Pembroke Lodge : Dec. 15, 1853.
My dear Lansdowne,—On going over with Lord Aberdeen Palmerston's letter to him with his letter to you enclosed, it seemed to us that he differed so entirely in all the elements of our Reform Bill that there was no chance of an agreement. The same thing appeared to Sir James Graham, and on Palmerston being told so by Lord Aberdeen he has resigned. Indeed he will probably tell you so to-day if the weather does not prevent his journey to Bowood.
I feel with you that the Government is much weakened by this secession. But I see no reason why we should not continue our consultations, both on the Reform Bill and on the Eastern question, and submit ourselves to the judgment of the House of Commons and of the country.
There is to be a Cabinet, I believe, on Saturday, which I hope The situation in which I am placed with respect to the question of the ballot is alone a sufficient reason for my determining not to come into Parliament at the present time and in the proposed manner. My opinions on that question have undergone some change, and perhaps do not now differ very widely from yours. But I feel that if I were now, on taking my seat for Richmond, to vote against the ballot, I should destroy my public character, and with it all my public usefulness. Two months ago there was no excitement in the country about organic reforms. If a motion had been made in favour of secret voting, I might have absented myself or divided silently with the Ayes, and no newspaper would have thought the matter worth noting. Now the case is very different. That at this conjuncture a member of your Cabinet should, on such a question, separate himself from all his colleagues would, in ny judgment, greatly weaken your Government. Peel and Graham, Stanley and Disraeli, Hume and Cobden, would all join to deride and condemn a Ministry which showed such signs of disunion. If any of the Radicals were to praise me at the expense of my colleagues, I need not say that such praise would be more painful to me than censure. Yet, if I do not vote for the ballot, the universal cry would be, ‘You declared for the ballot on the hustings of Edinburgh ; you voted for it ; you spoke for it. You never said a word about your change of opinion till a great city turned you out, and an aristocratical borough proprietor put you in.' And what could I say in reply P I am confident, therefore, that, if I now come into the House of Commons as member for Richmond, I shall very soon go out again. By so going out I should probably inflict a serious wound on the Government. By quietly dropping out of public life I inflict no wound at all.
The truth is that there is only one way of escape from all these inconveniences. I must therefore beg you to consider my resignation as final. I will call in Chesham Place on Tuesday, and give you my key.—Ever, dear Lord John, yours very faithfully,
T. B. MACAULAY.
The programme which Lord John sketched out for the session was sufficiently ambitious. The position of affairs abroad and the Duke of Wellington's published opinion forced the Ministry to consider the arrangements necessary for defence against invasion ; the famine in Ireland, which had compelled the Government temporarily to suspend the Navigation Acts in 1847, brought the policy of those Acts prominently before the Legislature; the miserable condition of the large towns, where no adequate provision was made for pure Soil, pure air, or pure water, gave urgency to the great question of Sanitary Reform ; while the circumstance of Lord John's own election, connected as it was with that of a Jew, Baron Rothschild, as his colleague, raised a similar issue to that which Mr. O'Connell's return for Clare had brought to the front nearly twenty years before. Thus four great measures of legislation and finance were fairly before Parliament. But, before February was over, the revolution in France and the fear of increased taxation at home, had entirely altered the situation ; and a session which had commenced with a demand for greater armaments, and with the proposal of additional taxation, concluded with a general desire for retrenchment, and a serious effort to bring the expenditure of the nation within its income. This radical alteration in feeling, for which the Government could hardly be held responsible, disarranged the whole programme of the year; and the plans of the Ministers were further modified by the necessity which, as they conceived, was imposed on them of seeking special legislative powers to control turbulence and disaffection. Much of the time, which it was hoped would be available for discussing Navigation Acts and Public Health, was occupied with the consideration of measures of precaution of which the Crown and Government Security Bill and the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act were the most striking. Under these circumstances, the Bills which the Government had promoted early in the session could not otherwise than suffer. The Bill for Promoting the Health of Towns was, indeed, passed ; the Bill for Removing the Disabilities of the Jews was passed by the Commons, but summarily rejected by the Lords;" the Bill for repealing the Navigation Acts was abandoned. During the discussion of the Jewish question Lord John sent the following
letter in dog-Latin to his wife:– Sabbat, Maii 27.
Malus sum. Non tibi scripsi hesterno die. Gaudeo salute tua et prolis nostre. Dies natalis Reginae et concilium Cabinetti me constringit [sic] hodie ut non Possum te videre usque ad noctem. Cras dies festivus et sanctus. Gaudeo. Non Plus scribam. Pares Judaeis insesti, populus infectus Paribus, faciunt caldarium piscium bellissimum. CONJUX DEVOTISSIMUs.