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homeward 'journey, moreover, derived an additional interest, fromthe- circumstances of the time in which it was undertaken. For Napoleon, in March, having escaped from Elba, landed' in France; and his return, prompted on his part by ‘un peu d’espoir et beaucoup de désespoir,’ 1 animated some struggling nationalities with hope, and filled some baflied statesmen with despair,
In Italy the feeling was in Napoleon’s faVOur. At Sienna, on the last day of March, Lord John went into
the Casino of the Nobili, where they were all very animated about ‘ the news. One man spoke very eloquently on the miserable condition of Italy, which felt every convulsion of Europe directly, but was not considered in the wise arrangements of the high and mighty allies.
' Two days afterwards he records at Florence a rumour that
The Neapolitans had entered Bologna—great alarm among the English. Rogers off in a hurry, all the horrors of captivity in his face.
And when he reached Bologna—
He found the town in a great state of joy without any riot. Joachim Murat had two days before proclaimed the independence of Italy. The people here hate the Germans for many reasons. . . . Owing to these causes, many volunteers (2000, they say) have appeared; and the few scholars left in the University all took up arms at the command of their professor, probably very glad to get rid of his lectures.
On his arrival at Modena he found that ‘there had been fighting all day, and much confusion.’ But on April 12 he writes—
The Neapolitan troops went out last night without doing any
mischief. A German picquet came in about eight in the morn
ing ; a division soon after followed, received with loud huzzas by
1 The phrase is Count Mosbourg's, a Minister of Murat, and is quoted by Lord John in his letter to Mr. Van de Weyer giving an account of his interview with Napoleon. It has recently been requoted by Mr. Clayden in his Roger: and bi: Conlemporaries. .
VOL. I. F
the people, who, however, seem to me to have their minds sufficiently free from any bias to take the side of the strongest. The Grand Duke popular.
And in closing his diary in Italy, he writes—
The French Government, though not good, very useful to prepare the people for a better; the Austrians dull, sleepy, and perhaps as arbitrary; the French by far the best liked of the two, as they are' gay and spend their money. Napoleon is respected by all. Of course there is a party for, and a party against him, but I believe the former the strongest. Every man is for himself; there is no national feeling, and nobody to head it if there were. The plan of a federative government, if supported by England, would have partisans,
On May 5 Lord John began the ‘very long and tedious’ ascent of the Brenner, and turned his back upon Italy. Three days afterwards——
I, struck into Germany, which I passed through after the traveller’s usual manner, Without knowing anything of the people, language, or history. Only observed that the race was entirely different from the Italian. Alehouses instead of confectioners, hardware instead of books, whitewashed small country houses instead of large architectural palaces, cleanliness instead of taste, and honest sulkiness instead of roguish vivacity. ‘ L’homme est méchant et misérable,’ says Bayle, but not universally—‘méchant’ in the south, ‘misérable’ in the north.
Though Lord John only crossed the Brenner on May 5, he was speaking in the House of Commons on June 5, and protesting against the new war, ‘ which he declared to be impolitic in its origin, unjust in its object, and injurious in its consequences.’ His protest did not, of course, afi'ect the issue. Ministers succeeded in obtaining the supplies which they sought, and their chosen chief, by his famous victory, gave enduring peace to Europe. The session was rapidly concluded, and Parliament separated without having a further opportunity of listening to Lord John Russell’s eloquence.
The story of Lord John Russell’s life has now been brought down to a distinct halting-place. With the commencement of the following session he was destined to take a more active. part both in politics and literature. The boy had ripened into the man, and the business of his life was thenceforward to be more serious. Yet it is worth while, before closing' this chapter, to review the incidents which have already been related. An attempt has been made to give a picture of a delicate boy gradually increasing in strength, but whose weakness interfered with the usual routine of education. We have seen him at a bad private school at Sunbury, for a few months enduring the rough life of a fag at Westminster, for some years living with a private tutor in Kent, and with Professor Playfair in Edinburgh. At these various places he acquired a knowledge of a good deal of Latin, and of a little Greek, and some acquaintance with mathematical and physical sciences. Yet, so far as education goes, his furniture was unusually defective. He had no pretensions to be called a scholar. His knowledge was, in fact, the exact reverse of that which an ideal scholar is said to possess. Instead of being so intent on the trees as to neglect the forest, he was so occupied with the forest that he knew too little about the trees. He read his Virgil and his Homer as he read his Dryden and his Young, and did not suffer his attention to be diverted from their thoughts and language to a study of the Greek digamma. Yet, if he had not much pretensions to exact knowledge, his reading was wider than that of most of his contemporaries; and he had not merely a large acquaintance with authors of many nations, he had thought on what he read. His mind, too, had been enlarged by intercourse with superior men, and by the opportunities of foreign travel. Few men of his age, standing on the threshold of a career, had seen so much that was worth seeing. He had knowledge of every division of the United Kingdom. In London he had breakfasted with Mr. Fox, he was a frequent guest at Lord Holland’s dinner-table, he was acquainted with all the prominent leaders of the Whig party, he had already become a member of Grillion’s Club. In Dublin he had seen all that was best in society; in Edinburgh he had mixed with all
that was best in letters. He had already made the acquaintance of Mr. Moore in one capital; he was on terms of intimacy with Mr. Jeffrey in the other. He had dined with Dr. Parr at Birmingham, with Bishop Watson on Windermere ; he had walked with Sir Walter Scott along the banks of the Tweed, and he had passed a night in the poet’s home at Ashestiel. He had travelled through the highlands of Scotland, and had carefully examined the great manufacturing industries of England. Abroad, his opportunities had been even greater. He had read his Camoens in Portugal, his Tasso in Italy; he had traversed the Italian Peninsula from Naples to Venice; he had journeyed through the length of Spain; he had ridden with the Duke of Wellington along the lines of Torres Vedras ; he had watched a French advance in force in the neighbourhood of Burgos ; he had gazed from a British position near La Rune over Southern France. He had conversed with Napoleon in Elba; and he had hurried home to denounce in his place in the House of Commons the inception of a new war. Was there another man in England, who had not completed the twenty-third year of his age, who had seen so much and who had done so much as Lord John Russell? His desultory education had been appropriately ended by his leaving Edinburgh without taking a degree. But the deficiency had been amply repaired. He had graduated in the University of the World.
The following lines from an undated essay on Vanity were, there is reason to believe, written in 1813,1 and will explain Lord John’s sentiments at the opening of his career :—
To study man, God’s last and greatest work,
Stand in the midst, and hear and ,see the storm
1 The poem from which these lines are taken is in an undated MS. book. The six_last lines were afterwards copied—in the form in which they appear in the text—into another MS. book, and dated 1813. The four last lines were published in T he Nun qf A rruum.
To mark each passion with its kindred rave,
. . . . . . ‘