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The Prime Minister took Lord Howick’s resignation with easy indifference. Lord John, on the contrary, was unaffectedly sorry at his separation from an old colleague. He told Lord Melbourne, on the 29th of August, that he thought that Lord Howick should have heard earlier about Mr. Thomson’s appointment, and that he had been under the impression that he knew it. He added on the 31st that he could not say how sorry he was about Howick, and that he should try to keep friends with him. Regret, however, could not repair the evil. All that the Ministry could do was to fill up the vacant places as well as they could; and, with Lord John’s consent, the ofiice of Secretary at War was conferred on Mr. Macaulay, while Lord Clarendon was simultaneously admitted to the Cabinet as Lord Privy Seal.
Before these arrangements were concluded Lord John had formally entered on his new duties at the Colonial Office. A Secretary of State is theoretically able to discharge the duties of his brother Secretaries, and the change involved neither reelection nor any more formal proceeding than walking into the Colonial Office, carrying with him the seals he had held as Home Secretary. The Under-Secretaryship of the Colonies was filled at that time by Sir James Stephen, one of the most remarkable men who have held high permanent office under the Crown; while Sir Henry Taylor, the author of ‘ Philip van Artevelde,’ was serving in the ranks of the department. Hewever distant and cold Lord John may have been with his supporters, he was always on easy terms with men of capacity. Sir H. Taylor wrote to Mr. Edward Villiers—
You once asked me how Stephen and I liked Lord John’s way of doing business. Very much. Very different from anything before him.1
1 Sir I-l. Taylor's Autobiography, i. 265. Sir J. Stephen wrote to Lord John in December, 1839, with reference to an attack of Mr. Croker’s in the Quarterly: ‘ I must be prepared to pay the penalties for the situation I hold. As to such as are exacted of me by the Quarlerly Review, I am not very anxious about them. It is utterly idle to attempt, in public life, to overtake calumny even when a man holds a substantial position with a right of self-deence. When, as in my case, the nature of his office is such as to make self
Writing in 1840, Lady Holland said—
You bewitch by your frankness and courtesy several Tories who go officially to you.. For instance, Lord Harewood declares he cannot trust himself, as he returns from each interview so won, that he fears he will not be able to continue his hostility. You judged well in your choice of an office, unless it half kills you from fatigue. '
Mr. Burge, the agent for Jamaica, thus testified to Lord John's capacity :—
Lord John Russell is by far the best Secretary of State we ever had to deal with.1
Mr. Greville wrote in stronger language :—
His reputation in his office is immense, where all his subordinates admit that colonial affairs were never so well administered.2
Mr. Ellice said in the House of Commons in 1845—
It is scarcely possible to speak with temper of the weak and inconsistent measures of the department from the very outset of this transaction. The only lucid interval in the management appears to have been when my noble friend the member for the City of London held the seals. He dealt with the strange treaty of Waitangi and with the concerns of the New Zealand Company according to the plain rules of common sense.3
Mr. Ellice was a friend and a Whig. But, in the same debate, Mr. Colquhoun, the member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, a Conservative and an opponent, said——
I have looked through the colonial despatches for a long series of years. I have had access, of which I have taken advantage, to the opinions and information of parties having a personal stake in several of our colonies. Both sources have led me to this opinion, that there has been no period during the last quarter of a century in which the afi'airs of the Colonial depart; ment have been conducted with greater vigour, higher administrative wisdom and justice, than during the administration of the noble Lord the member for the City of London. It is the essence of our colonial system that the Secretary of State is in his administration supreme. What he does, he does unchecked by public opinion. . . . And, if we are to have a despotism, I am not sure that we can find one better fitted for such power than the noble Lord opposite. . . . He possesses great talents; a judgment clear, prompt, and undisturbed by passion; a will which is inflexible; an eye quick to discern the evil; a genius ready to apply the remedy.1 ‘
vindication impossible, without a direct breach of honour to those whom one serves, all that can be done is to expel from the memory, or at least from the recollection, the fact that such censures are published. Or, if the remembrance of them will force itself on the mind, to remember also how utterly insignificant to society at large, with very few exceptions, each component member of society is. The difficulty of achieving permanent fame is counterpoised by a corresponding difficulty in attaining to permanent or wide-spread ignominy. In such cases as this, the accuser, the accused and the accusation are all travelling with railway speed to oblivion.’
l Greville, Il/Iemoirr, and series, i. 255.
2 Ibid. p. 293. .
3 Hanmrd, lxxxi. 864. Mr. Ellice is better known as ‘ Bear Ellice.’
Lord John himself wrote—-
New Zealand dates its origin as a colony from his tenure of the Colonial Office, and the colonists were assured that they might depend on the protection of the Crown.
I gave still stronger assurances to the British Provinces of North America, pledgingto them the word of the Queen that, so long as they desired to remain her subjects, they should receive the support of the Crown and be defended as a part of the British dominions.
He held the same high language in other quarters :—~
During my tenure of the Colonial Office, a gentleman attached to the French Government called upon me. He asked me how much of Australia was claimed as the dominion of Great Britain. I answered ‘ The whole; ’ and with that answer he went away.2
And in his great speech on colonial policy in 1850, which was subsequently republished as a pamphlet, in which be reviewed the whole history of the acquisition, regulation, and expansion of the colonial empire, he used equally firm language :—
1 Hanrara’, lxxxi. 903. ‘
2 Radiation: and Suggestions, 198-203. It ought perhaps to be added that Mr. Rusden, Histmj/ of A uslrtzb'a, ii. 5, note, says that the claim had been made in fact by Lord Liverpool's Administration, and that all that Lord John did was to make it in words. '
VOL. I. Z
I consider it to be our bounden duty to maintain the colonies which have been placed under our charge. I_ think we cannot get rid of the obligation and responsibility to govern these colonies for their benefit, and I trust that we may be the instruments of improving and civilising those portions of the world in which they are situated. . . . Ianticipate, indeed, with others, that some of the colonies may so grow in population and wealth that they may say ‘Our strength is sufficient to enable us to be independent of England. The link is now become onerous to us: the time is come when we think wev can, in amity and alliance with England, maintain our independence.’ I do not think that that time is yet approaching. But let us make them as far. as possible fit to govern themselves ; let us give them, as far as we can, the capacity of ruling their own affairs; let them increase in wealth and population: and, whatever may happen, we of this great empire shall have the Consolation of saying that we have contributed to the happiness of the world.l '
The details of L0rd John’s colonial administration, however, form part of the history of the British Empire, and cannot be included in a personal biography.‘ At the close of the session Lord John went down with his children and step-children to Buckhurst, on the borders of Windsor Forest, where he remained in a house which he had hired for the rest of the autumn. While he was at Buckhurst, almost on the anniversary of his wife’s death, he learned the distressing news that his father had been seized in Scotland with a' fit of apoplexy, and was lying in a'state which made his recovery hopeless. A few days later still he received intelligence of his father’s death. In one sense there was some mercy even in the stroke. Years had passed since the Duke had suffered his first seizure. His family had received ample warning of the probable end. 'As Lord Holland'wrote to Lord John—
In reason one should feel thankful that what-was so probable and so long foreseen should have been so long and so happily postponed by skill, kindness, and attention. ‘
Lord John remained at _ Buckhurst till November. In that month he took children and step children to the sea at Bonrne, I l Space/1 0n Colonial Polity, '1850, pp. 17 and 54.
where he left them in his sister-in-law, Miss Lister’s,‘ charge,and himself returned to his duties in London. In December he was persuaded by Lord Lansdowne to come with his eldest step-child and his eldest daughter and spend his Christmas at Bowood ; and it was during this visit that he took the children over with him to Sloperton to see his old and attached friend Mr. Moore, who wrote in his diary—
Nothing can be more touching than to see him with these children, and he has them always with him.
On the occasions when the children were necessarily separated from him, he was constantly writing to them; and, though his own letters have probably long since perished, their letters from country and seaside have been preserved with a care which was not always paid to more important correspondence.
Lord John returned to Buckhurst at the end of December. Only a fortnight of his holiday was still left to him, for Parliament was summoned to meet at an unusually early date to consider the arrangements necessary on the Queen’s marriage with Prince Albert. At the opening of the session Sir John Yarde Buller moved a vote of want of confidence in the Administration; and, in speaking on the motion, Sir James Graham charged Lord John with having encouraged Chartism by declaring at the Liverpool dinner in October 1838 that public meetings were not only lawful but commendable; and by appointing Mr. Frost (who had led the unfortunate attack on the Westgate Hotel at Newport) a magistrate of Monmouth, and Mr. Muntz, who had advanced political opinions, a magis~ trate in Birmingham.1 Lord John had a complete and satisfactory answer to both charges :—
When the name of Mr. Frost was proposed for the magistracy, immediate reference was made to the Lord Lieutenant of the county, who returned for answer that he considered Mr. Frost to be a fit and proper person to be so appointed. . . . The right hon. gentleman, in his very acrimonious speech, complained also that a gentleman of the name of Muntz has been placed on the