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whether transportation ought to be continued as it has been carried on of late years.’ 1 In 1838 he introduced and carried through Parliament the first measure of its kind for establishing a prison, or, as it would now be called, a reformarory for juvenile offenders; in the same year he directed Colonel (afterwards Sir Joshua) Jebb to inquire into the best situa— tions for penitentiaries in Great Britain, with a view to health, cheapness of construction and food, and facility of discipline. In 1839 he introduced a measure which gave the Secretary of State power over the designs of new prisons or the alterations of old ones;2 from 1837 to 1839 he served on and presided over a committee which inquired into the whole question of transportation, and whose report paved the way for its gradual abolition; and in 1840, after he left the Home Office, his successor carried out his policy by the construction of a model prison at Pentonville, which was the means of introducing new and improved ideas of prison construction.
Nor were these the only measures which he took during the same period for the prevention of crime. In 1836'he appointed a small commission to inquire into the institution of a county constabulary. In 1839—a year in which, unhappily, great dis— tress prevailed throughout the country—the working classes, organised as Chartists, broke in various places into tumult and disorder. The riot in the Bull Ring at Birmingham was the most formidable of these occurrences ; but serious local disturbances took place in many other parts of the country. These unfortunate circumstances indirectly led to a remarkable tribute to the success of the Melbourne Administration. For almost the first time in history, Ireland was able to spare troops for the help of England.8 They led directly to a more permanent
1 Hansard, xxxvii. 725.
9 Sir E. du Cane, Punishment and Prevention ofCrime, p. 51.
3 Lord Ebrington wrote on May I: 'In consequence of the order received by Sir E. Blakeney for two regiments (which will go this evening), I thought it right to ascertain whether his opinion agreed with mine and Drummond's that you may safely draw on the troops here for further aid if it should be wanted. He has just been with me, and I am happy to say that he fully concurs. ' I
have therefore settled with him to bring another regiment here, so that one may be ready to go over if required at an hour‘s notice, and should anything take
reform. Lord John at once introduced, and succeeded in carrying, a Bill for the constitution of constabulary forces in Manchester and Birmingham ; as well as a measure empowering the magistrates in any county to establish a local police.
These various measures for the prevention of crime, for the more rational punishment of the older, and for the reformation of the younger criminals, are perhaps connected by few people with Lord John Russell. Yet no one acquainted with the highest teachings of modern history will doubt either their success or their importance. Sir E. du Cane writes, in a passage which has already been quoted by the present author in another work, but which will bear quoting again—
The convict population of Great Britain, with its population of about 15,000,000, then [at the beginning of the present reign] consisted of 43,000 convicts in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, besides others in the penal settlements; the convicts in ten hulks in Great Britain, of which the usual number was stated in 18_28 to be 3000 or 4000 ; several hundreds in the penitentiary at Millbank; about 900 (in 1838) at Gibraltar, and probably as many or more at Bermuda: about 50,000 in all. This large number is represented now by less than 9000 from our population of 27,000,000, to which should be added, say, 2000 on ticket-of-leave.
He would be a bold man who would ascribe this extraordinary improvement to any one man or any one measure. But
place to demand the temporary services of three or four others he would not feel any more than I should afraid of the present tranquillity of this country being disturbed by their withdrawal.’ And again on July 18 : 'You may draw upon this place for a further reinforcement without my feeling the least apprehension for the safety or tranquillity of the country. Drummond and the Attorney-General are quite of this opinion; and Sir E. Blakeney, with whom Ihave just been talking on the subject, does not dissent with reference to our present state, though, with the prudence of an experienced commander, he claims the return of the loan as soon as the emergency which may call for it is over.‘
It is perhaps an even more striking testimony to the success of the Irish administration of Lords Mulgrave and Ebrington, that Lord John, speaking in 1840, said of the Irish, 'The people are as easily governed as any on the face of the globe' (Han:ard,1iv. 213). It would be difficult to name any other leader of the House of Commons in the present century who could have made such an admission.
he would be a still bolder man who would deny that, foremost among the causes which have operated for good, are the spread of elementary education and the more rational treatment of crime. It is certain that both of these remedies owe more to Lord John Russell than to any other statesman who has filled the office of Secretary of State for the Home Department.
While, then, earnest politicians are inclined to deplore the easy temperament of Lord Melbourne, and the circumstances in which he persuaded his colleagues to remain in office in 1838, and to resume ofiice in 1839, intelligent critics will at least reflect that his doing so led to the accomplishment of much good both in Ireland and Great Britain. Even the humiliating defeat which the Whig party experienced in 1841 was hardly too high a price to pay for the spread of education and the diminution of crime. These blessings England owes directly to Lord John Russell’s administration of the Home Office; they are the enduring monuments of his share in the Government of 1835.1
1 In the thirties, as in later timesl police magistrates were occasionally a little too loquacious on the bench. Lord John wrote to Mr Fox Maule: ‘ It appears to me that the police magistrates are continually exposing themselves to attack by their very unnecessary custom of making obiter remarks from the Bench on all that comes before them. . . . There are too many cases where the thing to be complained of is not so much the decision as the practice of chattering for the benefit of the public and the reporters. Would it not be possible to draw up some circular advising moderation and discretion in this respect? If done at all, however, it must be done very civilly.’
IN May 1839 it was clear that a necessity existed for strengthening the Administration; but it was also evident that the Ministry could not venture to risk the re-elections which its reconstruction would involve. In August changes were easier than they had appeared in May: Sir John New-port’s retirement made a vacancy in his office, and Mr. Spring Rice became Lord Monteagle and Controller of the Exchequer, The Governorship of Canada, which was refused by Lord Clarendon and Lord Dunfermline, was conferred on Mr. Poulett Thomson ; and two younger men, Mr. Francis Baring and Mr. Labouchere, were promoted, in succession to Mr. Spring Rice and Mr. Thomson, to the Cabinet.
These changes did not effect much. It was gradually becoming plain that Lord Normanby was not much more efiicient as Colonial Minister than Lord Glenelg; and that it was requisite to place the only strong man in the Cabinet in the post of difficulty and danger. Lord John wrote to Lord Melbourne on July 16—
If you could manage it, giving Normandy the Admiralty, Minto the Home Office, and me the Colonial would improve the Ministry,
And again on the 19th——
No one in these days seems disposed to make any sacrifice for the general advantage. Thomson wants to have a peerage before he consents to go to Canada. This will not do. Minto’s reply puts an end to that notion [112. the notion of Lord Minto taking the Home Office]. Still I believe it will be best that Normanby should change places with me. Without Labouchere I fear he would be at a loss. The Home Office is always more immediately under your control, and nothing can be done there without your consent
The change thus suggested was practically announced at the end of the session, and it led, indirectly, to another alteration of importance. During the previous year Lord Howick had differed from his colleagues on many questions of importance. He shared his father’s opinions, and Lord Grey disapproved much that Lord Melbourne was doing. He had been on the eve of retiring from the Cabinet on Sir H. Fleetwood’s motion. He had disliked the Colonial policy of the Government under Lord Glenelg. He disliked still more the Colonial policy of Lord Normanby. In the course of July, Lord Duncannon, who was in intimate communication with Lord Melbourne and Lord John, suggested that, among other alterations, Lord Howick should be promoted to the Post Office and called to the House of Lords. In the beginning of August, Lord John communicated this proposal to Lord Howick himself, who expressed himself disinclined to leave the House of Commons, but added that he presumed that the offer was part of some larger arrangement with which he was unacquainted. Informed for the first time of the proposed appointment of Mr. Poulett Thomson to Canada and of Lord Normanby to the Home Office, he complained of Lord Melbourne’s want of confidence in concealing these arrangements from him. He considered that the character of the Administration was changed, and not improved, by these appointments; and he doubted, for many reasons, the expedi~ ency of Lord Normanby’s appointment to the Home Office ; and the possibility of Lord John undertaking the complicated duties of the Colonial Department while discharging the business ofa leader of the House of Commons. So thinking, he made up his mind to retire,1 and, though Lord John personally endeavoured to shake his conclusion, he failed to make any impression on him. With Lord Howick, his brother in-law, Mr. Charles Wood, left the Administration. ‘
1 Lord Howick's reasons for resigning have never previously been stated.